To Crook Street Via Trouble Avenue
WHEN last did you walk down the street named after you, or which you named after yourself? When last did you walk down the street named after your father or your grandfather or which your father or your grandfather named after himself? Not only the streets and roads and avenues in the capitals of the federation (Lagos and Abuja) and the capitals of the states, but also those in the towns and villages of the country as well.
Have you looked at these dirty, unpaved, unmaintained streets, roads, boulevards, avenues and circles and squares? Maybe you have and being who you are, glad that some place or other is named after you or you’ve named some place after yourself and that is enough (how many people in the world have such fortunes?) you did not notice the dirt that the neighbours you have, have been emptying on the sides of the road.
And even if you saw the state of the place, you say to yourself there is a notice that says please do not empty refuse here, can they not read? Alaba was responding to the notice that some Obasanjo Square in Lokoja was decrepit through neglect.
Recently, Trouble had been threatened with a chieftaincy title as well as having a street named after him in his home town. You don’t want to know where Trouble was born and brought up. Neither would you wish to know something about his difficult growing up in the far away one street island of his up-bringing.
As if he was still back on those isolated slave islands of the Caribbean, his adopted town Ilu-Titun has been issuing the same threat of recent. First the chieftaincy title. Trouble remembered with a bitter smile the fact that soon after the success of the Haitian revolution, the Black leadership of the Revolution ordered for tailors and costume makers to come from Paris and measure them for ceremonial dresses from foot to head as dukes of one place or another or the Baron of one town or another, all on the half-island of Haiti.
Head gears contested against head gears, hand sown various leather shoes competed against one another and you should see the body fitting gowns and shirts as they fought over what delicate silks should overcome them.
All at great cost to the people of Paris and France. Thus the wealth that the French could no longer get through the plantations and the slave labour of the Blacks, they were still carting away through the fashion foolishness of the now dominating, ruling Blacks. From that history alone Trouble swore he would never contribute to this self-abuse.
Those who hold power in Africa today were not those who were defeated by the British and French and German and so on when Africa lost control of its own affairs. And when power was being returned during the years of independence it was not returned to the traditional rulers or their descendants.
No wonder then that not one single constitution on the African continent allocates any power to the traditional rulers of Africa. They are catered for in the budget, some five to twenty percent of the budget devoted to keeping them quiet. If within this powerlessness they still feel like awarding chieftaincy titles to those they prefer, no matter.
Over and above them, those who run the modern state also give their own titles like the Grand Order of the Shoeless Successful (gootss) which some of their citizens have refused including famous ones such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka. So, at the end of the day, after all is said and done, when push comes to shove and our backs are against the wall, which of these titles are worth accepting?
As for the naming of places after Trouble, there was a real jaw-jaw (joo-joo) which almost led to war-war (wowo!) between HRH Emperor of the Village of Ilu-Titun and Mr. Dafida Trouble, descendant of Africans of Noble Blood in spite of which they were enslaved in the Caribbean plantations for hundreds of years.
At the end, Trouble promised to go and take a look at the street to be named after him and then he would revert back (civil service English) to the Royal Highness. As they struggled to get back to main road after leaving the bungalow that passed for the palace of the Onilutitun, Trouble felt sad and yet he could not put a finger on the particular one of his worries that made him sad.
The street, which would be renamed Trouble Boulevard, went up the hill beginning as a footpath. Then, bicycle riders must have passed on it and soon, some hardy vehicles beat a motor path over it. Paths, foot paths, bicycle paths and motor vehicle paths have their limits but we in Nigeria work them to their limit.
On either sides of the motor path there are runnels of water seeking where to rest. There were no channels for water to run naturally from up the hill to the gutters that do not exist.
Behind the runnels were some houses, some finished and lived in, others unfinished abandoned, with demolition marks on them and still standing valiantly? Towards the top of the hill were a number of roofs visible above four metre high walls.
These houses were the mansions in massive loneliness, finished, furnished and fallow. As they found their way back through the motor path so many questions crossed the mind of Trouble. Where is the common liquid waste treatment for the area? What happens when the waters of the soak-aways come into contact with those of the bore holes? How long are we going to keep building houses in splendid loneliness one from the other?
Trouble and Alaba went back to the palace of the Atomic Energy of the Kingdom of the Village of Ilu-Titun. They waited in the throne room of the Royal Majesty visibly angry and anxious because they were angry and angry because darkness was descending and travelling on the murdering highways of the country was three times more dangerous at night.
And when his Majesty suggested they could spend the night in the palace they would have none of that. Whenever they finished their business with his imperial majesty they would risk the highways than spend the night at his palace. And the conclusion was short. Trouble would rather that the street be not named after him. Thanks for the consideration but no thanks.