Without garnering any of its correlates the phrase If You Tarka Me I Dabo You had stuck at the roots of my membranes since I learnt to read. I can still recollect seeing the unique headline in the front page of that newspaper the vendor used to supply my uncle. Of course by then he had read and dispensed with it, only tendering the inconsequential sheaf of newsprint to us for its other unsavoury uses in the household.
I must, though, confess with hindsight to having taken whatever it was about the idiosyncrasies of the now-late duo of Middle Belt nationalists as a play thing. Now this was long before the music duo of the sixteenth English alphabet squared released their hit You Do Me I Do You. So this meant I had to wait to grow up some more to equate it with such bizarre symbiotic relations that became more fashionable ever since turning the other cheek lost its deposit at the reservoir of the human judicial system.
I was consequently also able to grasp that it was about then that eneke the bird learnt its ropes and flew without perching following its poachers’ gun-sight dexterities. On account, this couldn’t have been too long after the Europeans came to Africa – with a book also in tow. Like the overheard story goes, too frightened by the sheer volume of the tome, our forefathers had clutched tight to their land as snugly as they had clenched their eyes at the visitors’ strange prayer summons. Yet at the end of the session the possessions – book and land – had inexplicably changed hands.
Fantastic hosts that they were, our forebears never minded much. They let their guests dig in knowing that in no time they would claim back what was truly theirs. True to the oracles, the visitors were no sooner sent back to whence they came from following independence declarations that rang left, right and centre in the continent. In one fell swoop all that had been stolen from us not yet carted to their land became ours once again to a tumultuous reverberation of joy the land over.
However, an ugly snag was to arise to the consternation of all. As the erstwhile visitors hurried home dejectedly, some of our brothers and sisters surreptitiously aligned themselves into the vacant positions they left. In the intermission the rest of us found ourselves lower down the rungs than we had been. To our utter dismay our erstwhile brothers now took all the land and handed us the foreigners’ book in recompense.
Accepting our faith, we obeyed; but to no avail. When we complained that they were not playing according to the rules they branded us opposition; accusing us of treason and charging with sedition. But it all amounted to nothing when victory came.
As it turned out though, we had had been in opposition too long that we could not reverse our roles. Guess what? We opposed on notwithstanding that we were actually opposing ourselves.
While in opposition our spokesperson had been at her very best; even outdoing herself on occasion to the relish of all. Everybody was agreed that no man could put up a performance close to hers in the circumstances. Given that coincidentally lying rhymed with her last name, she even added soupcons of it to her unique demagoguery as the occasion granted. She was so good at it that even those she was riling occasionally gave kudos to her virtuosity against their wish.
All these were to disappear into the ozone as we mounted the saddle of government. Somehow she just could not get herself to repeat what she had done so well in turbulent times in the peaceable tidings that besieged her new paraphernalia of function. Even when she appeared to reach deeper into her bag of tricks like she always did in the opposition days the result tended to backfire so bad it bordered on ridicule.
Finally, after a spell of retrospection she found out that the problem came from the new opposition. Without hesitation, she squared up to them with reckless abandon. Penultimate week she even threatened to inflict them with a new disease – a virus, we hear – that was yet causing trouble in faraway Brazil if they didn’t let her be. Being scions off same stock they retorted that they were waiting for her with their own ailment – a fever, in fact – that they had excess stock of here.