SATURDAY BREAKFAST with TONY OKOROJI
I once wrote a small column for the Punch. I was a lot younger with a lot of fire in the belly. Despite the mad tussle with deadlines and the once in a while writers’ block, it was fun. I had very strong opinions and could not wait for people to hear them. Of course, when you are young, you think that you are the only one who has an opinion. As you get older however, you begin to realize how stupid you have been. Everybody has an opinion and everybody thinks that their opinion counts.
A young American called Mark Elliot Zuckerberg found out how much everybody wants to express their opinion. As a result, Zuckerberg has become King of the world and a billionaire several times over. On Zuckerberg’s Facebook, everybody is making noise. Everybody is expressing their opinion to everybody whether they want to hear or not. Dirty linens are being washed with the whole world watching and the stinking water splashed around with complete abandon. On Zuckerberg’s Instagram, girls are stalking guys and guys are enjoying being stalked.
You can’t be on Facebook and not say something. It is like a huge Oyingbo market. On Zuckerberg’s WhatsApp, everybody is talking, everybody is lying and everybody is posing. In the new world of the Coronavirus and Lockdowns, people have had little to do but jump on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp or make a phone call and gossip. Suddenly, everybody is a publisher, everybody is an editor and everybody is a columnist and fake news is everywhere and Mark Zuckerberg and the telephone networks are laughing to the bank. You think they want the coronavirus to go away?
Several times in the last couple of years, I was asked to write a column for a newspaper. Several times I said no. Why? As I have grown older, I have taken more to heart the Igbo saying that a palm wine tapper does not reveal everything he sees from the top of the palm wine tree. Just imagine what would happen in the hamlet if the local palm wine tapper had to describe the luscious naked women who thought they were bathing safely away from prying eyes or the illicit love affairs where the lovers thought they were in a world of their own and that apart from the skies, their secret was all theirs or the big tubers of yam thought to be secure from all and sundry in the rich man’s ban. Like the local palm wine tapper, I have seen quite a bit and I have thought it better for me to stay away from the babble.
The other matter is: Is anyone really interested in what I have to say? Is anyone going to read what I write when all the kids are busy pinging and charting away on their smartphones or playing computer games? How do I write a column when every jerk that has attached ‘PMAN President’ to his name is busy telling everybody that I am a fraud and the people at NCC which I laboured to set up can’t wait to put me in jail and every artiste wants more royalties?
Pray, how could I write a column when Chinedu Chukwuji, my old boss always warned me that I needed a break but he always went ahead to schedule back to back meetings for me with COSON staff, IP lawyers and the impossible Nigerian music copyright user who looks for every reason under the sun to avoid paying small royalties for the music that sustains his operations?
As if I have not stressed my marriage enough – how do I tell madam that with my eyes open, I have added to the wahala she has to tolerate – night after cold nights when at 2 am, 3 am and 4 am, the whole world is sleeping and she tiptoes into the study to find me hunched over, hammering at the keyboard of my long suffering lap top?
I still do not understand how I was trapped into writing Saturday Breakfast and how I have done it every week for several years.
You know, I used to read Rueben Abati like mad. Outside of Ray Ekpu and my ‘paddy’, Sonala Olumhense, I thought Rueben was the real deal. He has style. Till today I cannot figure out how Rueben could give up the best job in the world. For what?! Seriously, how much did GEJ pay Rueben to write those drab government press releases? It takes a peculiar kind of talent to be a good government propagandist and I do not think that Rueben has that kind of talent. Seriously, there has to be something in the constitution that makes it a capital offence to take a great guy like Ruben Abati and make him the writer of government press releases.
That was the same way I felt when someone whisked Funke Egbemode to Abuja to go and chop with Patricia Etteh. When Mrs Etteh got removed as Speaker of the House of Representatives, I celebrated big time, not because I had any issue with the woman or that I thought that the person who would replace her would do better. I celebrated because I knew that Funke would come back to Lagos and write her columns without which my weekend is incomplete. And come back, she did. It is the same way I cant wait for my guy, Femi Adesina to be done with PMB so he can come back and play sweet music on the pages of a good newspaper, the kind of music that feeds the soul of people like me.
You see the trouble with writing a column – You can see how I am poking my nose into other people’s business as if I do not have enough trouble. See me wahala!
See you next week!