Pangolo Junction
Life, arguments, and kunu... with Max, Nat and Zack

Friday, January 19, 2007

Moaning Mister Moses

(Max and Zack are chatting in the Junction, while Nat has momentarily detached himself to engage in a spot of people watching. Then Max notices a thin sour-faced man shambling into the bar, and he breaks off what he is saying to Zack.)

Max (whispering sharply): Guys - look out o! Moses has entered the building.

Zack: You mean Moaning Moses?

Max: Yeah, that's right - Miserable Moaning Mister Moses - no, don't turn around - just look to your seven o'clock out of the corner of your eye. All he does is moan, moan, moan, moan and moan! I don't want him coming over here and drowning us in his tales of misery.

Nat (turning round): Sorry, Max - what was that you were saying?

(Unfortunately for Max, Moses notices the sudden movement, changes course and starts shuffling towards the three of them.)

Max (whispering angrily): Thanks a lot, Nat!

Nat (in dismay): Oh no - it's Moses. (exclaiming with false cheerfulness as Moses reaches their table and slowly settles into a chair) Moses, good evening o! How is life?

(Moses stares irritably at him for a few seconds.)

Moses: What kind of foolish question is that?

Nat (taken aback) Ah-ah, what now? I'm only greeting you.

Moses: Did I ask for your greeting? What good is your greeting going to do for me?

Nat (lifting his hands as if in surrender): Ah. OK o. I'm sorry o. It seems as if something has seriously annoyed you this evening.

Moses (in a low voice): Do you want to know what has annoyed me this evening?

(Zack and Max are frantically and surreptitiously gesturing to Nat to say "no", but unfortunately he doesn't notice.)

Nat: Yes... why not?

(Max slaps his forehead and rolls his eyes in despair while Zack grinds his teeth in fury - but Moses doesn't seem to notice, as he is readying himself to deliver his tale of woe.)

Moses (raising his voice): Then I'll tell you what has annoyed me this evening! In fact, I'll start by telling you what has annoyed me all day! First of all, when I woke up, I found this big fat mosquito feasting on my arm. I killed the evil thing, but I ended up staining my shirt with its blood.

Max (in an aside to Zack): Technically speaking, it was probably his own blood...

Zack (back to Max): I don't agree... the act of sucking the blood means that the mosquito is now the de-facto owner of the blood...

Moses (carrying on as though Max and Zack don't exist): Then when I got out of bed, I found that my wife had thrown away my chewing stick. Imagine! The stupid woman thought that I had finished with the thing, when there was still at least a good inch of chewing left. I think that that woman was put on earth to frustrate me and prevent me from achieving my potential.

Nat: That's a harsh thing to say about your wife, surely...

Moses: Nonsense! What other conclusion can you come to about a woman who cannot manage a household of five people on five thousand naira a month because she's probably spending it on frivolities? Imagine!

Max (in astonishment to Zack): Holy Kokorioko! I spend more than that a day on recharge cards when I'm chasing a woman.

Moses: Then I got out of bed and I realised that I had to take my bath with a bucket of water in the common bathroom.

Nat: But - you always take your bath with a bucket of water in the common bathroom.

Moses: And should I be doing that? Why should I, a fully responsible adult, have to take my bath with buckets of water when we have a government that should be laying pipes to provide us with water in the privacy of our bathrooms? Imagine! Am I a lesser human than the people abroad who enjoy such comforts?

Anyway, after having my bath with the pitiful amount of water I was able to collect from the leaking tank, I dressed to get ready for another eight hours of under-appreciation and drudgery at work. Then I picked at the badly prepared meal thrown together by my wife which she alleges was made from real food, and I picked up my briefcase and prepared to do battle with the world...

(Moses continues in this vein for another ten minutes, complaining about how hellish his day has been, while managing to heap the blame on President Obasanjo, the Federal Government, the PDP, the proprietors of his children's school, the Nigerian Police, PHCN, God, the IMF, women in general, the State Government, the military, Charles Taylor, area boys, NNPC, amala and ewedu, lizards, advance fee fraudsters, religious extremists, religious moderates, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, President Obasanjo again, the African Union, the West, Dora Akunyili, President Obasanjo yet again, Bill Clinton, his boss at work, street hawkers, Saddam Hussein, the rainy season, INEC, the Internet, West African dwarf goats and finally President Obasanjo for making his day a study in suffering.

While he is doing this, Nat sits listening while doing his best to conceal his utter boredom and stifle his yawns. Zack and Max attempt to be polite at first, but as Moses drones on, they throw all decorum to the wind and make increasingly derisory comments which Moses either ignores or pretends not to hear.)

Moses: ...and on my way here, I boarded a bus in which all the seats were as hard as stone. As if that was not bad enough, the bus was bouncing up and down along the bad roads in this area, so by the time I got off, I was in agony! Imagine! Of course, I blame the greedy conductor and driver who wanted to make money without caring about my comfort. I also blame the greedy owner of the bus who put pressure on the driver to make as much money as inhumanly possible. Then I blame the grasping relatives of the owner of the bus who were probably disturbing him to give them money - most likely for a frivolous party. I blame the musicians who frequent these parties and encourage them to continue, I blame the businessmen who sell these musicians the instruments they practice on, I blame the banks that help these traders finance the import of these instruments, I blame the staff in these banks whose work keeps the bank afloat, and finally, I blame the bus drivers who ferry these staffers to work!

Zack (throwing his hands up theatrically): Won-der-ful! Behold - a Virtuous Circle of Blame. Moses, you have shown that when it comes to spreading fault around, you are truly an impartial distributor.

Max (shaking his head): I've seen some dubiously tenuous chains of deduction in my time - I've even spun a few myself - but that has got to be the most fantastically contrived and logically unstable string of statements I've heard in a long time!

Moses (turning to Max and Zack with contempt): Well you can babble on as much as you like - but I am the kind of person that tells the truth as I see it. It's obvious that even though this country is finished, I'm the only one who seems able to see it. Everyone else is just deceiving themselves thinking that things are all right, or that things will get better. Well, keep on deceiving yourselves! Don't let me stop you from living in your fool's paradise!

Zack (patiently): Look Moses, everyone here knows that things are not as they should be in Nigeria. In fact, we spend most evenings here discussing what is wrong. I even spend more time than these two criticising the government. But we don't dwell on the negative endlessly - we try to come up with answers sometimes, and most importantly we admit the possibility of improvement. After all, if you don't believe that things can improve, why stick around?

Moses: Have you not heard what I've been saying all evening? There is no hope of improvement - so I don't waste my time coming up with solutions that I know won't work.

Nat: So why do you stick around? If things are so bad, why don't you go somewhere else?

Max (to Nat): It's obvious - he wants to grind everyone else down to his level of negativity so that he can derive some kind of perverse happiness. Besides, where could he go? However paradisiac the place was, he'd end up stinking the whole place out with his relentless pessimism.

Moses: You call it pessimism - I call it realism.

Max: OK, Mr. Realist, you say that there's no hope for Nigeria so there's no point in coming up with a solution, right?

Moses: No - there's - no - hope - for Nigeria. (Shakes his head vehemently.) No hope.

Max (smiling): But of course, that's because Nigeria is led by idiots and buffoons, right?

Moses: Idiots, buffoons, ignoramuses and nincompoops!

Max: Yeah, that's right - not people like you.

(Moses gapes for a while. Then he slowly responds.)

Moses: I don't know what you mean.

Nat: I think that what Max is driving at here is that you probably would do a better job if you were president.

Moses (shaking his head): Well, I'm not president, and I'm not likely to be president, so let's not bother about it.

Max: Oh, come on! You're honestly telling me that if you had the power of the President of Nigeria, you couldn't do a thing to correct even one of the problems you've been wailing about all evening?

Zack: Think about it - a whole President of Nigeria!

Moses: I told you already, I don't waste my time...

Max: OK, OK, I can see that you are a man with your eye not just on power. Let's say that you're not just President - but you're President, and the price of oil has shot up to five hundred dollars a barrel!

Nat: Yes, and let's say that oil has been found in abundant quantities in twenty-eight of the thirty six states of the nation. Think of it - money and power!

Moses (less confidently): Look, I don't know...

Max: Man, you drive a hard bargain! OK, forget about President of Nigeria - that's obviously not enough. You're now Supreme Life Dictator and the Holder of the Keys of Life and Death of Nigeria. You have absolute, total and complete power resting within the palm of your hand. Now tell us how you would go about fixing Nigeria's problems.

Moses (hesitantly): Well... er... I would... erm... I would put measures in place to ensure that things were all right...

(Max looks at Zack and Nat in disbelief. Then he turns back to Moses.)

Max: My friend - you are the virtual god of Nigeria - and all you can do is to "put measures in place?" Are you that completely bereft of any idea of how to solve Nigeria's problems? Is it really just "complain, complain, and complain?"

Moses (protesting): Look Max, honestly I don't think very much about these kinds of things...

Max: ...and it shows! So if you ever accidentally become president - and accidents do happen - may God have mercy on all our souls! Then we really would be finished!

Nat: You know, Moses, as Zack said earlier, we guys sit here and chew out pretty much the same kinds of people that you complain about as well. But you know what your problem is? Whereas we don't take ourselves too seriously and we have fun while doing it, you treat it like some sort of death march mission. Listening to Zack criticise the government is like eating bitter leaf soup. Listening to you criticise is like chewing Nivaquine pills.

Zack: And not just any Nivaquine pills - we're talking about the kind that make you itch all over!

Max: So lighten up! Even if Nigeria is doomed, surely it's better to spend your last moment with a smile on your face rather than a bitter frown.

Moses (obviously uncomfortable): I have heard what you've said. Look, I have to go now - I just stopped off to have a drink. (He gets up and shuffles out.)

Zack (watching him leave): What do you think? You think he will go forth and spread glad tidings of joy amongst all men from now on?

Nat: I doubt it. Such habits aren't unlearned in a day. In fact, I feel sorry for him, because I'm sure he wasn't always this way - he may have developed this attitude as a coping mechanism.

Zack: Well, I wish he would learn to 'cope' in his wardrobe or his toilet or somewhere else where nobody can hear him. Thank God he's gone.

Max: Come on, you don't fool me! The real reason you're glad that he's gone is that while he was here, you actually had to put your moaning on hold. Imagine! Anyway, now that he's gone, you can resume where you left off on your diatribe on that Senator...


  • YAY!!! Finally another one :-)

    Does Moses not know that Nigerian food is more real than most food abroad (especially the parts that have their government providing for them) that are genetically engineered.

    LOL @ all his complains in 10 MINUTES!!

    And he is sharing out the blame without retaining @ least 1 for himself.

    This is one of the best I've read!


    By Blogger Nilla, At January 19, 2007 5:55 pm  

  • Great post, and welcome to the new year!

    I've had runins with people as pessimistic as this and I must say it makes em sad to listen to them. Misdirected intelligence is what I call it.

    By Anonymous azuka, At January 19, 2007 8:50 pm  

  • Haha, you are an excellent writer. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    By Blogger lala, At January 20, 2007 3:41 pm  

  • Nilla,

    Moses told me to tell you that it's not true that he doesn't take any of the blame. He said that he blames himself for not having any thing to blame himself for. :)

    Regarding real food, I think his point wasn't that Nigerian food wasn't 'real', but that what his wife had prepared for him was suspect. And he may well be right - perhaps his wife's reasoning is "Well, when I prepare good food he says it's rubbish, so I might as well prepare rubbish".


    I'm not as charitable enough to feel sad about such people - I view them as a real threat to my emotional well-being and I try and keep as far away from them as possible.


    Thanks for stopping by my blog - and I hope the weight loss program is still on track!

    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At January 20, 2007 4:18 pm  

  • Tell Moses..."Is that so".

    When is your next post?
    I have just a few of the archives left to finish reading.

    You have a question to answer on my blog...if you don't mind.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

    By Blogger Nilla, At January 20, 2007 5:28 pm  

  • Hi Nilla.

    Next post is next weekend (unless Yar'Adua finally accepts my application to become his campaign manager. Don't worry - my secret plan is to mismanage his campaign so that he ends up losing ;) )

    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At January 21, 2007 4:53 am  

  • Have you thought of making this into a play? I think it will be great like Wole Soyinka'a "Area Boy."

    By Blogger Veracity, At January 22, 2007 10:01 am  

  • I agree with veracity, you have a great imagination and would make a great playwright. Somemetimes when reading your posts I almost feel like I'm at pangolo junction with Max and co.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    BTW,Is SLB another of your online personalities?

    By Blogger Marin, At January 25, 2007 1:07 pm  

  • Hi Veracity,

    I've often thought about writing a full blown drama... in fact, a while ago I tried my hand on this - but I was too lazy to finish it off. Perhaps that would work if I was part of a script writing team (like they do in the States) so that if I was feeling lazy, my partner could administer a figurative swift kick in the you-know-where.


    Thanks for the compliment. However, I have this message to you from Zack:

    "Eh? Is that how it is? 'Max and co.? So I'm just part of 'co'? Why not 'Zack and co.'? You're not suggesting that Max is superior to me?"

    Of course, we will pretend to ignore that Zack is guilty of the same sin he is accusing Max of. :)

    And regarding your question about one of my alternative online personalities, yes - I do occasionally masquerade as that kunu-loving, knowledge seeking character.

    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At January 25, 2007 1:56 pm  

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