Arts & Lifestyle

FILTHY LUCRE

Nightfall. A duplex in a large compound at the street corner had lots of luxurious cars parked in and out of it. A big signpost, standing boldly outside the building read “THE PRESTIGE MEN’S CLUB.” A keen observer would note that more cars are parked outside the club on Wednesdays than other days of the week. It had a lavishly fed bar stood at a corner, a restaurant, games and rest rooms, and a big swimming pool. It was an exclusive club.

Inside the basement was the meeting room of the club members. The room was not furnished with chairs but a large Persian rug lay on the floor. On the rug was a lone, small stool, and on the stool was a staff about two feet long, decorated with beads. In another corner sat a drum made of leopard skin.

A meeting was in progress.

A procession of twenty men clad in white, flowing gowns and trousers filed into the room. The man ahead went to the drum and began to beat it rhythmically. Another carrying a covered calabash went to the stool. He laid the calabash in front of the stool and picked the staff. When he turned, the eighteen others had already formed a circle. He raised the staff and the beating of the drum stopped.

After a series of chants, drum beats and responses, the leader opened the calabash, picked a small chunk of what looked like meat then passed the calabash to the others. After the twenty men had each taken a piece, the leader moved to the center of the circle.

“Brothers, today we stand unified, ready to take our brother, Chief Ishola Akande, as part of ourselves forever. As you all know, he died some days ago. And having been part of us, his heart belongs to us. Today, in your hands, is his heart, divided in brotherhood, eaten in love. As you eat, remember that the meat you eat in one man’s burial shall one day be eaten at yours. Our covenant cannot be broken even in death. We eat now our brother’s flesh that he may live in us, and we in others.”

He stopped, put the meat in his mouth and ate. The others did likewise, then they all sat on the Persian rug as the drummer resumed his drumming. Only the leader sat on the stool with the staff in his hand, dangling it as a monarch would a scepter.

A member, better known as “Lawyer” in the circle, remembered how they went to take their “share” (as it was called in the brotherhood) of the deceased member. His children had strongly opposed the reputable surgeon, also a member, who went with him to take the man’s heart shortly after the leader had been informed of the man’s death. The eldest son then had to be taken into confidence that their father belonged to a group to whom he had pledged his heart, dead or alive. After much persuasion, the son agreed.

This sort of scene was a frequent occurrence as most wives never knew about their husbands’ membership of the brotherhood until their deaths. They only believed their men belonged to an exclusive club that had influence in every sphere of human endeavor. Many times, family members enjoyed favors, financial aids, influence and honor, which came primarily from the brotherhood.

Lawyer staggered out of his reverie when Otunba Oyekola, the incumbent governor of the state, stood to speak. Saluting the house in the tradition of the brotherhood, he thanked them all for their help to him in the past years. Then he reminded them of the forthcoming election. Within the group, he was like every other person, but outside he commanded much respect even from every member of the brotherhood. He continued

“I have come to the brotherhood in sincere humility to seek your help for my re-election. I know the brotherhood commands respect in every corner of this great country. As this is a branch of the brotherhood which exists nationwide, I desire your support from every sector of our national life and beyond our young, yet enterprising state.” He concluded and sat down.

The leader, still sitting, said, “You will give us the details of all you want from us and we shall assign a member or two to the task.”

Otunba Oyekola stood and began to outline in details his request from the brotherhood.

Daybreak. It was about five in the evening when the sun was on its way home to roost. Two men sat in a garden, one had a glass of lemon in hand while the other nursed a glass of wine. Elder, the older of the two was dressed in white kaftan. His cap was placed on the table in front of him. His head already balding with generous streaks of grey hair.

Deacon Timothy, the second man, was at least fifteen years younger than the other. He was in his early forties. Both were deep in a discussion. The younger seemed disappointed at the demand the older was making of him.

“Politics is a dirty game. People like you should not get involved. You are a gentleman, a fine academician. You should rather apply to be the vice-chancellor of our university.” The elder man said as he seeped his wine from time to time.

The younger replied, “Politics is dirty because people make it so. This is one of the reason why I am contesting. You know my religious conviction; I am born-again. I believe my participation will encourage more Christians to get involved in politics. We need to cleanse our polity of greed. We need men who fear God and are ready to sacrifice their lives for the good of the society. We are tired of the generations of politicians we have had- selfish and without human sympathy. There is no more ideology in politics. Money has become the god our politicians worship. They are controlled by worldly lust. And this we cannot stand any longer. We need men who will fear God and ask direction from Him on the affairs of the State.”

(To be continued next week)


James Omitogun is a Nigerian writer, pastor, and banker with a foremost Nigerian bank. “Filthy Lucre” is culled from “Fireflies In The Night”, a collection of prose and poetry edited by Daniel Ikwuagwu, 2001.

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