By Emmanuel Ugwu
And it came to pass in the sixth year of the reign of Rochadnezzar, King of Imolon, that a band of seven unclean spirits from the wilderness infiltrated his porous mind and became the stuff his dreams were made of.
And, behold, there rose up from the mud seven graven images, one by one, like towers capped by the blue sky. The metal men were burnished by the sunlight, dazzling the eyes, and all that stood before the images looked like grasshoppers.
Then woke up Rochadnezzar from his dream (the same Rochadnezzar that made a name as a Good Samaritan and began his every oration with the greeting ‘’my people, my people’’), obsessed with statutes. He thought of them in Olympic colours of gold, of silver, and of bronze; pondering the names that merit the prizes across his continent.
He said within himself: I shall build me the statues I saw in the visions of mine head upon my bed and make a name for myself in the city. It shall be that, for the sake of the molten figures, that a Babel of tongues shall rise to mock my sanity and the images I have built in spite of my own people. The statutes shall be a memorial of my reign. And in the last days, the children’s children shall repeat the curse of their fathers and mock my monuments.
The streets of Imolon teemed with hewers of wood, drawers of water, the elders retired from the vineyard, all owed wages by the king. They were ill-favoured, lean-fleshed and famished. But, Rochadnezzar seized by the vision of the statutes regarded not the people neither considered he their low estate.
The king said, I shall not break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of my wife, of my son’s wives, and of my daughters. I shall spend my goods on the jewels to be fashioned with a graving tool. I shall empty the treasury of the kingdom of Imolon and construct the gallery of my fancy.
The king walked in the palace of the kingdom of Imolon.
He drank from his cup and said a little above a whisper, Is this not the great Imolon, that I have conquered for the business of my house by the might of my almsgiving, and for the honour of my majesty?
I shall build me more numerous statues that can be found by the Lagoon, graven images more acclaimed than that of the seated, shoe-laced and strange Awolowos. I shall overtake, overtake, and overtake the record of that kingdom in statutes. I will make the fame of my dominion spread abroad as a bold shrine, a state of statutes.
So Rochadnezzer gave command that a search be made throughout the kingdom of Imolon for men to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones, to set the statutes and to work in all manner of workmanship pertaining to the pantheon.
The works were soon finished for the king ordered that the business be speedily executed. And the skilled men smiled in their labours. For the Rochadnezzar spared not the shekels of silver of the treasury to pay them.
And the king saw that the images were completed. And they pleased him. And he said to himself, Better that thousands of my poor slaves fall for hunger and unpaid wages than these seven idols remain an amorphous dream.
Then the king appointed that the first image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits be unveiled in the plains of Owerria, in the province of Imolon.
Now, the frame of that statue was in the likeness of Jacobus, son of Zooma. He was the prodigal inheritor of the throne of Mandelaland. He was a scoundrel, much hated for he wrought that which was evil in the sight of the law.
Jacobus was patron saint of killers of sojourners in Sad Afrika. He restrained not his people from sacrificing aliens to Moloch. He washed his hands off the blood of the slain and watched the mob hunt their foreign neighbours with sticks, machetes and rocks.
The same Jacobus, resented as corruption made flesh in his kingdom, did Rochadnezzar declare worthy of a statue in Imolon. For Rochadnezzar said, I shall give honour to whom honour is due. I shall honour Jacobus, the king whose people lynch my people and send us corpses. I shall build him a statue on quiet premature graves. I shall fetch him to do a victory lap on young tombs. I shall gladly reward him for the wickedness of his people against my people.
Then Rochadnezzar, the king, sent the herald to gather a mixed multitude to the dedication of the image which he set up: the retired chicken farmer who uncovered the nakedness of his daughter-in-law, princes, captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces.
Then came the old farmer, princes, captains, the judges, the treasures, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces to the dedication of the image which Rochadnezzar, the king, had set up: and they stood before the veiled image that Rochadnezzar had set up.
And, behold, Jacobus was present: for he said to his courtiers, Shall I not go and indulge myself of this grace? For my people sowed xenophobia and jungle justice and I am promised the harvest of a grand reception and a statue of honour in the land where I am hated.
While he stood before the covered sculpture amidst a bubbling crowd, and the sounds of drums, and of flutes and of trumpets, Jacobus stared in disbelief. He wondered saying, Am I indeed honoured by the people whose sons are butchered by my people every other week? Did the people mold this statute with the pair of hands with which they have dug the graves of their young? Do they love and fete me because they intuit that each killing is our cathartic means to the end of appeasing our hate of the alien?
Then Rochadnezzar began his speech, saying:
My people, my people, I reveal not unto you old heroes or personages from the past. I have sworn not to reincarnate the legends in nostalgic art. My vainglorious smallness cannot abide under the shadow of their immortal dignity. The Zikis, Okparavs, Mbakwels, Ojukwus must rest in peace, out of sight and out of mind.
Today, I show unto you a new hero. I reveal him as Moses revealed the brazen serpent. I have mounted him high and conspicuous. The sight of him shall bring you salvation. You must look him when you pass by in the morning, in the afternoon and in the night.
Cain killed his one brother; our hero and his people have killed a thousand of their brothers, our sons. For this cause, honour I him today with this statue.
As I unveil the statue, be ye ready: that at the time you shall hear the sound of the gong, flute, harp, drums, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye shall worship this image which I have made:
And, if ye worship not nor bow down yourselves, I shall build more statues until there is no room enough in the city to contain them: and who is that god that shall deliver you from my hands until the days of my appointed time in the kingdom of Imolon be fulfilled?
Emmanuel Ugwu is a Public Affairs Analyst.