Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): My tight-fisted Uncle!
Everybody in our village now says Baba Abeokuta is tight-fisted. They even say his mother only forced his father to accept him as his son. Nobody wanted to be the first to call him what they thought he is, namely a bastard.
They say his real father is from Ilowa, two villages away from our village, Alapako. Personally, I am of a different opinion. I do not think Baba Abeokuta is stingy and I do not think his father is not Baba Agba. Baba Agba is my grandfather.
In fact, the similarities are too obvious, one might think Baba Agba had spurted him right from his own very mouth into this world. Baba Abeokuta has small beautiful cowrie eyes. Just like Baba Agba! He is as just as terrifyingly black as Baba Agba! The black is so black it is blacker than Amala Dudu! What more do I need to establish my opinion!
Toyosi, my cousin swears that Baba Abeokuta looks so much like Baba Agba because Iya Agba and Baba Agba made him at night. He suspected Baba Agba must have drunk dregs of palm-wine. This was responsible for the dominant gene of father in son.
How did Baba Abeokuta, my uncle become a tight-fisted man? Until two years ago, nobody saw him in this light neither was he considered to be a bastard. Baba Abeokuta was at the time just a civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture. He rose from rank to rank. Fate meant it well with him! Baba Abeokuta came to the village with sweets for the children. He brought rice for our parents.
Two years ago, when I turned ten, he bought me a pair of shoes! The shoes were beautiful. I still love Baba Abeokuta for this beautiful gift.
Then, it happened! The state governor announced his choice of Baba Abeokuta as the commissioner for Agriculture. Boda Kola, my old cousin, who attend Party meetings brought to our hearing the governor chose Baba Abeokuta because of the ethnic quota thing. Besides, another factor that spoke for Baba Abeokuta’s choice was that once he returned bags of seedlings, fertilizers and feeds to the government instead of selling them! Like Mr. Adebanjo, our neighbour that visits home twice a year in different cars had once and once again done!
So, when we heard that Baba Abeokuta was made the Commissioner of Agriculture, we were happy. Actually, we were very very happy! We were happy because we knew things would not remain the same for us in our village. My father said Dejo would buy us a car! Father calls Baba Abeokuta by his real name. Iya Ireti, father’s step-sister said he would re-build her house for her! Baba Ile-loun, that wicked Baba who lives behind our house and calls us Egbere- gnome each time our ball got shot into his terrace, said Baba Abeokuta would dig a borehole for him! Plenty people said plenty things!
With all of the plenty things said, I wondered if our state had that much money for one to give away. Come to think of it, Baba Abeokuta is not even the governor! If Baba Abeokuta had that much money, then the governor had much more!
Our radio mentioned 900 billion. So much money the governor has! My teacher, Mr. Tolurunlase said one is very rich if one has a million and that a billion is far more than a million! In my head I thought: In that case the governor must have plenty money! Plenty enough to buy books in my school library! Plenty enough to change the roofs of my class! Plenty enough to repair the road from Ilowa to Ogunmakin! Plenty enough to do plenty things!
We had a party, a big party! Baba Abeokuta’s appointment as commissioner made us proud! We called musicians. We killed 10 cows or more! At least I counted ten cows. Toyosi counted 13! We danced to the fine music of Ogbeni Jeje, the most popular musician in our state. For me, I am very sure I enjoyed myself!
The matter that a child hardly sees even while he stands on the tip of his toes and stretches his neck to add to his height, an elder will see far beyond this matter without as much as standing up!
For once, this age-old wisdom did not hold. Through the party which lasted the weekend I observed the old people could not see that Baba Abeokuta was unhappy. He asked my father why the family and the village wanted to do a Thanksgiving Service on Sunday! After all, his appointment is to serve the people! What is so special that a Thanksgiving Service was necessary? Was he not going to serve the people?
Father reminded him that as a commissioner, he would get a fatter salary. That was a good reason to thank God. Baba Abeokuta nodded in agreement.
It was Aunty Mayowa, father’s sister that first called Baba Abeokuta a stingy man. He did not give her all the money she demanded to open a restaurant. She wanted 100 thousand Naira. Baba Abeokuta gave 20 thousand Naira. That was all he could afford from his salary.
Then, Baba Ilelohun joined. Then everybody joined them. Only father and mom did not join the bandwagon of stingy-callers. They said he was eating government but he did not spread it to everybody! They said he had bought ten cars but he did not others to buy one! They said he had houses in America and London!
When father asked Baba Ilelohun where he heard about Baba Abeokuta’s many cars and many houses, he only answered that he heard commissioners like Baba Abeokuta always have these things!
Father told Baba Ilelohun Baba Abeokuta had only two cars; he had two houses because the government gave him the second when he became a commissioner.
To cut the long story short, this was how Baba Abeokuta became a tight-fisted man and a bastard, too.
As I write this piece, father says the Ministry of Agriculture has the information of the farmers in the state on one big computer! Father says fish farmers get feeds for their fishes and land farmers get fertilizers and seedlings for their farms! He says the government now buys proceeds from the various farms! Farmers are richer and happier! State money has increased by 20 percent! I actually believed father when he said these few good things happened because Baba Abeokuta is the Commissioner for Agriculture in the state.