Last week, the news of the solidarity march for the detained Radio Biafra Director went viral like the news of a pastor who was caught masturbating. The whole place was muffled up in that news.
The eve of the march was characterized with young boys who smelled of a horrible cross-pollination of cheap spirits popularly known as ‘ibuo five’ sprinkled across the street like pawns on a chess board. They stood in fives and fours, gesticulating as though they were directing the song of their words. Angry expressions were plastered on their oily faces. I heard them practice motivational chants. I saw them demonstrate the formation that will be implored. I saw one of them stick out his thumb and drew it across his neck in fury. He probably was ready to kill anything that would stand on his way. Again, I heard them say that any Igbo that doesn’t participate in the march tomorrow is a ‘sabo’.
Tomorrow is here. Today is tomorrow. I was minding my business in my flat when I heard reckless revving of motorcycle engines. The frenzy made mediocre riders turn expert riders for few minutes. They had their legs placed on the tank and others freed the handle and controlled it with their eyes maybe. Behind the boys who revved their engines vibrantly were a mammoth number of young men and women who had placards that read “Nigeria is a zoo”, ”Buhari leave Nnamdi alone”. Some others were bearing giant Biafran flags which swayed from side to side courtesy of the generous breeze.
I was fascinated by the unity they displayed. “This is my opportunity to be Biafran” I said to myself as I darted to the wardrobe and entered into a red tee-shirt and a black trouser. My leg ran hysterically and my body followed its pace. Getting downstairs, I was immensely agog because I wanted to be Biafran. I ran into the belly of the crowd and joined them in clapping and singing. I was lip-syncing because the lyrics were alien to my ears, not in the least my mouth. They didn’t take me seriously. Perhaps, I was dressed like a gentleman. I looked like a well-dressed banker in the midst of butchers. So, I wanted to be seen like one of them; I sagged my trouser responsibly and bent my right shoulder and walked with the grace of a young man who just escaped sanity. I wobbled to where the biggest flag was mounted and held the hem whilst I used my eyes to ask them if they didn’t notice me. Truly, I wasn’t noticed. There were better breed of insane young men who wielded better misbehaving skills than me. I was pained because I needed to be Biafran urgently. I left the hem of the flag and walked to a man who had a medium sized flag and spoke serious Igbo to him so he will know that I am ‘nwanne’. Of course he would let me use the flag. Generosity loomed in the air that day. “Wow” I said to myself. By then, I had learnt how to feed the crowd with a silence-murdering “UP BIAFRA!!” while they over-fed me with an ear-disturbing “FREEDOM!!”.
At that time, I knew I was on the way to being Biafran but as it stood, I was a “half-done” Biafran. I lifted the flag and waved it as I shouted ”Up Biafra!!” with a voice that is peculiar to smokers. People turned and looked at me and my contemptuously sagged trouser and my bent shoulder and took me a little serious and responded with a lousy “FREEDOM!!” Now, I became disappointed because I had earlier felt that I was on the brink of being Biafran. Now, I got rid of the fake voice and bellowed “UP BIAFRA!!” with my head falling backwards and veins snaking through my neck like zigzags. Then, I knew that my dream of being Biafran will be actualized within seconds. Few minutes into that thought, my ‘fellow’ Biafrans came and lifted me up and spread my legs for a volunteer to slip his head in-between to bear my weight so people in the front and back would see a serious and unwavering young Biafran and how he held his breath to shout a ground breaking “UP BIAFRA!!!”
I opened my eyes and saw how I and my borrowed flag were floating in gyration. I looked at the flag and looked at the sky and said “Finally, I am Biafran” I smiled and smiled until it felt like an eternal smile. The man said I can have the flag. Walking home with the flag, I felt like a flag officer. I let the stick rest on my right shoulder for the cloth to cascade from my shoulder to the floor. I counted my footsteps; I walked as though the obvious scorching sun had gone on vacation in my own world, if eyes were arrows, my body would have been porous like a basket because the rate at which people threw glances at me hastened my footsteps. I got home and without much distraction, I headed to the mirror to know how I looked with the flag and also to look at the latest Biafran in town. I smiled, and the honest mirror smiled back. I went to the bathroom, took my bath, headed for the kitchen to get something to eat, went to the dining to eat and there was a knock on the door. Brother went to get the door. It was mother. I greeted her with food in my mouth; she pretended she didn’t hear it. Out of happiness, I pretended I hadn’t said it before and I repeated the greeting again without food in my mouth this time. She says “Ehe, good afternoon”
I tell her to come and join me. She asks:
“Why did you decide to obey me today by eating on the dining?”
I laugh and reply:
“It is the hand work of Biafra”
She doesn’t understand.
I disappear to my room and appear with my Biafran flag and say
“Mummy, I WAS BIAFRAN”
Mark Anthony Osuchukwu will be publishing his first book in 2016. Read more from his blog