To the old Campos Square, right in front of the ancestral homestead of the Wrights where Baba Lekki has assembled the most outlandish cast of contrary characters that Lagos has seen to bid farewell to his old buddy, Mobolaji. Even the feckless Okon appeared decidedly out of place as he viewed the weirdoes with dread and apprehension. This lot do not appear to appreciate any misjudged humour and were bound to punish any social infraction with maximum severity.
A wave of weary nostalgia swept through yours sincerely as one arrived at the fabled domain of those Lagosian aristos who set the pace for fashion, politics and culture before the country went to the dogs. The previous year, it was right in the cramped sitting room of the Brazilian bungalow that snooper bade farewell to his senior friend, Dayo Wright, a great journalist of the seventies, before setting off for the proper reception at the old premises of the iconic Methodist High School.
But this dreary morning as Baba Lekki huffed and puffed welcoming the luminaries of the Nigerian underground, there was no Wright in sight only the faint echoes of the melodious music of the late Biddy Wright, a Lagos musical icon and great son of the Wright family.
Awa arawa lari rawa oo
Ologini ti r’omo ekun
Awa arawa lari rawa ooo
Kajo ma sere ooo…..ee
The old contrarian rarely showed his great musical side. The last time he performed was at the send forth he organized at Iyana Ipaja for the late Gani Fawehinmi, the great human rights crusader and legal Spartacus. But the old man had become inconsolable after the passing of Mobolaji Johnson became public knowledge. He had dropped heavy hints that they were great childhood buddies and that they used to play pranks together while the great soldier was at Methodist Boys.
But just before the great show took off, a heedless Okon ran up to the old man shivering with fright and apprehension.
“Baba, Yanga dey here ooo. Na him dey beat man sotey man dey shit for police cell”, the crazy boy screamed as he pointed at a fearsome looking hulk of a man with missing incisors.
“Shut up Okon. Yanga no dey beat people. Na people him dey kill and him dey light duty today”, the old man crowed with a sadistic smile. At this point, the menacing thug began feverishly rubbing his palms together while singing the praises of his ancestors.
“Baba dem fingers dey hitch man oo, na srious hissing. I wan beat”, the old assassin announced.
“Yanga, I beg no vex. Na Bolaji we come send off today, no be say we come hear kukuruku boy”, Baba Lekki chortled and seized a talking drum from a nearby musician with pronounced tribal marks. Before you could say Jack Robinson, the old crook, an accomplished master of the talking drum, began panning out some subversive lyrics against the subsisting status quo.
Awuyewuye, awuyewuye aroye ote
A o ni e tu’lu oo ilu lani e tunse
This seemed to have worked the crowd into a state of irrecoverable frenzy. The old crook, a master of crowd psychology, leveraged on the feverish pitch. His voice sweet and strangely melodious, the old man began singing with the poise and mannerism of an old pro. “Katigori C”, he boomed as he baited the crowd which instantly bought into the lyrics. It was a classic Apala song by Ayinla Omo Wura in honour and appreciation of the late soldier. The entire place erupted in song and dance.
Katigori C, ile biriki, ten naira lowo wa
Aiye e ma tapa si’joba efara mo Mobolaji
It was as if the devil himself had taken hold of the crowd as they swung and jigged to the pulsating counter-hegemonic drumming with the athletic prowess so beloved of the denizens and artisans of Mushin in the swinging early seventies. For a moment, one could be forgiven for thinking that one was back in that glorious era once again. But during a lull in the singing and dancing, the mad boy put his boot in once again.
“Baba sebi he get one man like dat who dey call himself Lagos Boy before dem Bolaji man, abi no be so?”, the crazy boy sniggered as Yanga began to rub his palms again.
“Okon shut up your kukuruku mouth. Dat one no be proper Lagosian. We know dem real Lagosian, like dem Svevo and dem Elegbede boys”, the old man thundered.
“And who be Sefo abi na suwegbe you call am?”, the mad boy demanded.
“Ah look yeye boy who wan die. Svevo na Admiral Patrick Koshoni, Dat one na real gentleman. If dat other boy you dey talk about annoy me any further, I go show am where dem bury him papa for Papa Lantoro near dem Ewekoro”, the old man thundered as Yanga made a sudden dash for Okon who promptly tore through the crowd.
“Ko baje fun babanla baba e”, Yanga swore in hot pursuit.
It was at this point that the clouds rumbled ominously followed by a volcanic downpour that sent everybody scampering.
“Even the elements are wishing Bolaji goodbye”, Baba Lekki observed wistfully to himself as he headed for his favourite contraband joint near the iconic Lagos City Hall.