by Tafa Osisiye
I decided to play around with a comical representation of the candidates. Er, I couldn’t find a way to slot in a plea to vote for my preferred candidate – Dele Momodu, so here I just said it! Feedback would be nice on which candidate you think the dancers in this piece correspond to. Enjoy!
It’s selection time, and the various actors step out and dance to new tunes. The one dancing apala switches to alanta, since the spectators seem to like that, while the one that swayed languidly, like a maize stalk in the breeze jumps and dances frenziedly.
It’s selection time; everyone is making adjustments in a bid to sway the spectators.
It’s selection time; the spectators cluster and lean into the circle.
One of the dancers runs and hugs the village’s pariah, welcoming him back to the fold of civilized community. ‘Aburo, se o wa pa? I hope the food was manageable. Don’t worry, you are out now, I want you to just relax and enjoy the fresh air… fi free’. The convict smiles in return and makes a two finger salute, peace, from the cells.
Another of the dancers, to gain support, cuddles one who he has previously maltreated for wrongdoing. ‘Ah! man mi, are you ready to take on this role? Oh! That six tubers of yam issue?’ He waves his hands dismissively, ‘that was in the past, a phase I don’t like to remember, you know – not even being able to spend time at my friend’s burial…chai!’ He stops to shake his head sadly and pulls his friend closer. ‘Well, I hope we can put that behind us and win this dance’.
Another seems to realize the dance is drawing to an end, and this is the time to show hidden skills. He is galvanized into action and dashes from one end of the crowd to another; leaping into the air and throwing cartwheels within a beat. His knickers billow in the afternoon sun; the sun’s rays catch and throw reflections from his bronze scrotal sacs, dazzling everyone. ‘Ahhh! So he could do this, so he could do that? ’The spectators stare in awe at this new revelation’. Some keep him in mind while other dash to his side of the grounds. Whatever happens, this bronze balled dancer will be remembered.
Another fixes his glasses rims more firmly over the bridge of his nose and executes carefully practiced steps, he does not make any moves to impress, and the spectators easily forget him. ‘I have danced in Rome and in the Grand Hall at Britain; let those who check out my profile know I am fit to win. I don’t need to leap into the air or fraternize with criminals to win’. But the people don’t want a staid dancer, they want to see energy and leaps so they cast glances of commendation at him; wish their pikin will achieve his laurels ,and the romance ends.
Another hypnotizes a group of people to his side of the ground. He achieves this by swinging a glittering rosary and muttering unknown phrases. People approach like moths to a lamp, and he dances to impress only these few, he makes choreographs to the rosary and they are infinitely pleased with that. No one is leaving, neither is anyone is entering this household.
There is a stringy man at a far corner, all weathered skin and a royal posture. He comes from a large clan and they scream themselves hoarse at his slightest of moves. ‘He is our father incarnated, you should select him, see what he did for us’.
Now the drummers beat the drum more fiercely, and the head drummer is in rapture. ‘Pour more water on my sweat bathed torso,’ he shouts. ‘Pour palm oil on the drum skin so it does not burst; throw roasted crickets into my mouth whenever it hangs open. I want six maidens to fan me with the widest cocoyam leaves that can be found in the land.’
They all hasten to do the drummer’s bidding – there can be no dance competition without music, and the dancers have come too far to be let down, so they dispatch twelve maidens to the stream with large gourds for the drummer’s cooling water. Six young men are given sharp machetes and kegs to get palm oil for the drum skin, and all the children are driven into the forest to get the fattest brown crickets for the drummer. Now the audience is largely depleted because the music has to go on and some grumble about the wisdom of a dance which oils the drummer. The drummer smiles and promises the best of music if his desires are met, ‘More oil, more breeze, freshhhh air…’ he screams hoarsely.