Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Letter to Yar'Adua

Thanks BA for sending me this:

Dear President Yar'Adua,

Ranka dede sir. Saanu da aiki sir. I hope this letter finds you well.
If so, doxology. I am constrained to write urgently to intimate you
 with the frustrating conditions I've had to contend with since I
 assumed duties as Nigeria's Ambassador to the Republic of South
You will recall, sir, that I had serious misgivings about
 being posted to this place but you reassured me that things would work
 out insha Allah. I must regretfully inform you, sir, that you were
 wrong. This place is hell and I don't know what I am doing here. The
 ways of the South Africans are indeed very strange.

The first serious signals of South Africa's backwardness and
 dysfunctionality became apparent when I landed at the airport in
 Johannesburg. I was profoundly shocked to discover that only two
 official vehicles from the Nigerian embassy and three embassy staff
 were on hand to receive me. This was a serious breach of protocol.
 When was the last time I moved in anything less than a motorcade of
 twenty five cars, heralded by AK-47-wielding soldiers and koboko-
 swishing mobile policemen sweeping civilians out of my way? I felt
 naked, empty, and vulnerable.

I felt betrayed by those embassy boys
 who appeared to have forgotten how we handle matters of protocol for
 people of my standing in Nigeria. Obviously, I wasn't going to subject
 myself to the indignity of leaving the airport in a 'motorcade' of two
 miserable embassy vehicles. I sat put and told the boys to organize.
 They finally found a solution by renting five cars from the Avis car
 rental outlet to bring the tally of vehicles to seven.

Needless to say your Excellency, I had to 'manage' a convoy of only
 seven cars. Without siren! As if this outrage weren't enough, we had
 barely made it out of the airport when we found ourselves in one of
 Johannesburg' s notorious traffic jams.

Again, our boys from the
 embassy had no idea what to do ? when we post these boys out, we must
 insist they visit Nigeria twice a year your Excellency. They are
 completely out of touch. Just imagine, I had to suggest to them to
 phone the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police to
 send troops to come and clear the road for us. Rather than act, they
 sat there looking at me with eyes so wide open they almost popped out
 of their sockets.

Then one obsequious fool explained that 'things
 don't work that way here, sir'. 'How do you know, have you ever
 tried', I asked him.
 I did not fare any better on my first day on the job, your Excellency.
 The first thing on my agenda was to present my letters of
 accreditation to President Thabo Mbeki.

Regrettably, I left
 arrangements to our boys in the embassy. Their shoddy handling of the
 airport situation should have taught me a lesson! I had expected them
 to rent a white horse and a crowd of at least one hundred singing and
drumming Nigerians to form a procession. I was going to ride the white
 horse through the streets of Pretoria, all the way to Union Building,
with our people singing and drumming. You know, the way we do things
 back home. What did I get instead? The Ambassador's official car, a
 driver and one miserable aide! At my urging, they had to rent five
 cars from avis! If I hadn't insisted, the boys would have done untold
 harm to Nigeria's image as the giant of Africa by having her
 Ambassador drive to that ceremony in only one car. No policemen. No
 soldiers. No siren!

The humiliation continued when we got to Union Building. Only the
 official car with the Nigerian flag was allowed in. They wouldn't
 allow the rental cars in because they were not accredited. I told my
 aide to go and 'see' the appropriate people only to be told by the
 rude boy that they don't 'see' people in South Africa. How do you run
 a country where you don't 'see' people? How do you get things done?

Anyway, the ceremony went well your Excellency. The only disappointing
 thing is the simplicity of the surroundings of President Mbeki. Things
 were so simple you had no idea you were in the Presidency. They are
 not doing Africa proud at all sir. From what I saw, my estimation is
 that the budget that maintains the South African Presidency for a
 whole year is approximately the size of the weekly entertainment
 budget of a Nigerian Minister or Governor.

My second day on the job was even more frustrating, Mr. President. I
 was briefed that we had an application for a new plot of land
 languishing at the Pretoria city hall. There is an embassy expansion
 project in the pipeline. Apparently, the application has been at city
 hall for more than two years because the plot we want happens to be in
 a protected green area. My predecessors have had no luck with the

Pray, your Excellency, why deal with the Mayor when things
 could be accelerated the Nigerian way? So, I phoned the Mayor and
 respectfully and politely asked for the name and phone number of his
 Godfather. My intention was to 'see' his Godfather and promise him an
 oil block allocation in the Niger Delta if he would prevail on his
 political godson to alter the Pretoria Master Plan and give us a plot
 in the green area.

To my surprise, the Mayor told me that he had read
 Mario Puzzo's novel but had never seen the movie! These South Africans
 are unbelievably backward! When I finally got him to understand what I
 meant after almost an hour of explanations he laughed
 condescendingly and said 'we don't do that in South Africa, Mr.
 Ambassador. We cannot alter the city's Master Plan'.
 isn't it? Have these people never heard of Abuja? So, what exactly do
 they do here? What is this idea of people getting elected to political
 office without Godfathers? I banged the phone on him. If I had
 continued the conversation, I couldn't put it past him to give me the
 extraordinary yarn that they also organize elections here without
 thugs, guns, and ballot box stuffing.
 My nightmare in this country continued last week when I went to the
 University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

One of our very
 useful boys an unemployed graduate of the University of Ibadan who
 helped organize the shipment of arms and recruited cult members to
 help us capture the Oyo state government house for Alhaji Chief Alao
 Akala has decided to quit the political scene in Nigeria and return
 to his studies. He emailed to notify me that he has an application for
 graduate studies at Wits. Could I please look into it? The boy served
 the PDP so diligently and I was inclined to help him.

So I went to
 Wits last week to see the Registrar. She informed me that they did
 indeed receive the boy's application but he did not meet the minimum
 admission requirements for graduate studies at Wits. Duh, as if I
 didn't already know that before asking to meet with her! I asked if we
 could come to an agreement and opened the Ghana-must-go bag I had with
 me. Crisp bales of rand notes smiled from the bag. She screamed and
 sent me out of her office, claiming that she would have had me
 arrested if I didn't enjoy diplomatic immunity.

As I did not want to
 return to Pretoria with the money, I made one last ditch effort. I
 phoned the University's information service and requested to speak
 with the Registrar's Garrison Commander. Predictably, nobody had any
 clue! I gave up on South Africa at this point. I mean, what kind of
 country is this? People get positions and appointments without
 Godfathers and Garrison Commanders. I don't understand.

 Excellency, there is really no place like home. All I would have had
 to do in Nigeria is place one phone call to any Vice Chancellor. The
 boy would end up in the Vice Chancellor's discretionary admission list
 with immediate effect.

Your Excellency, these unending insults and indignities are nothing
 compared to the stubbornness with which people address me here as Mr.
 Ambassador. Nonsense. I've insisted that they use the full list of my
 honorifics to no avail. Who would dare leave out anything from this
 list in Nigeria ? Ambassador, Senator, Doctor, Chief Ahmadu Alli.
 Nobody here seems to understand that none of these items can be left
 out when addressing me. Mind you, to make things easy for the South
 Africans, I've even reluctantly left out all the items that would
 compulsorily come after my name in Nigeria MON, OFR, GCFR, etc etc

Pray, if they can't get a paltry total of four honorific prefixes
 right, how are they going to contend with the suffixes?
Your Excellency, it is clear that I am not going to be able to stay
 here. I can't function. There system is completely upside down. May I
 humbly request to be posted to Cameroon or Benin Republic? They are
 our neighbours. Years of associating with us have rubbed off them.
 They know how things are done. They understand. If the slots in
 Yaoundé and Cotonou are not available, I won't mind the UK. The
 British are far more tolerant of the way we do things. They see no
 evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil in order not to endanger the oil
 flow. London is far more amenable to the Nigerian way than Pretoria. I
 should be able to function there.

Yours in service to Nigeria,

Ambassador, Senator, Doctor, Chief Ahmadu Alli, MON,


Anonymous,  6:20 pm  

ali must go!!

Atutupoyoyo 9:50 pm  

LOL. Very good.

Anonymous,  9:52 pm  

Ali's letter is rather incomplete.

...Mr President, Thabo Mbeki has hit on a unique solution to the AIDS pandemic in his country - there is no link between HIV and AIDS, so there is no problem.


It seems our pre-occupation with security is unwarranted, Nigeria is much safer than SA - suggest we cut back our budget on Police. It is clear that a society can tolerate much more rape and armed robbery than we have in Nigeria, why do we worry ourselves so much trying to solve these problems.

Thirdly, we should stop working to build our country ourselves. Lets do like the South Africans, ship in Europeans wholesale, put black faces and use as figures heads, whilst the real economy remains in white minority control. Who needs independence.

A Ali

PS: Ali might be an ass, but to try and belittle Nija is crass. Nigerians have more determination, entrepreneurial spirit and societal cohesion than SA will ever have. Yes, we have our problems, but we are making our way slowly, thank you very much.

Nonesuch 10:44 pm  

Is he an ambassador?

Anonymous,  11:13 pm  

I hope the poor Nigerian ambassador who wrote this had light (electricity), considering what the true situation is in glorious Jo'burg. Oh, its not a power cut, its load shedding.
Puhleeez... and he wouldnt need to rent cars from Avis, as the convoy that would "accompany" him would be the armed robbers that target Nigerians.

HIGHLY irrritated by this post J, its not funny or clever...SA is not as bad as Nigeria, but hey, it aint paradise.

Anonymous,  11:59 am  

Anon 9:52, I am Anon 11:13, and frankly, i wanna french kiss you!
well said..

Anonymous,  1:01 pm  

This ambassador, sef. Was he surprised when he got to South Africa and heard the deafening silence on the rape issue?

He could (and should) have picked a different country, certainly not a nation like SA which many Nigerians know is far from paradise. Indeed, apart from this, he made the example with the Registrar sound as though corruption does not exist in South Africa. What a joke. If that were the case, I'm sure the country would not be losing its best brains as it is currently doing.

Finally, anon 9:52, thanks a lot ojare. It must be fun in South Africa - get the whites to retain a chokehold on the economy, get the whites to keep the land and never (except for Jacob "Bring-me-my-machine-gun" Zuma) bring up the land issue, and leave the blacks to rape, shoot, loot and beat one another to death.

This man picked the wrong country, really.

Anonymous,  1:08 pm  

Dear Mr. Fresident,

See me see trouble o. Dis country you send me to o, a female born today has a greater chance of being raped in her lifetime than learning how to read (Dempster, 2002).


End of tori.

Your ambassador, who has just sent his wife and daughter back to warm and safe Lagos.


Anonymous,  1:11 pm  

In fact, Baba, sorry about one thing that I forgot to add: not only one are women more likely to be raped than to learn to read, it appears that up to 1 million rapes happen every year in that country. Of course this is speculation ('sfekulation'), but in a nation of what - 47 million - this should be a cause for concern, no?


Anonymous,  6:45 pm  

Anon 11:13, you want to French kiss me - and you don't even know if I'm a man or woman!!

Ha!Ha! I like your style, o-jare.

Sorry I can't oblige - my books are full, the waiting list boku.


Anonymous,  7:19 pm  

this is what Jermey loves most.I am sure this put a smile on your lips. Enjoy

Fred 1:56 am  

Hey J, thanks!
You're now officially my favorite socialist.

avid reader,  3:09 pm  

Anon 1.11pm, I really wish you hadn't made me read that article. Too depressing.

Today's ranting 1:39 pm  

Is this letter real or did you just form the whole thing? Damn hilarious but pathetic.

Anonymous,  5:17 pm  

For some reason, this letter reminded me of Teju Cole's Everyday is for the thief. Both quite irritating

plastiQ 10:43 am  

ROTFLMAO. I wanna tap on my chest and do the chicken dance...

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