By Chidi Nkwopara
I WILL begin this piece by telling a simple story. The dramatis personae, is a self- acclaimed principal actress (not in Nollywood). She doubles as a traditional rulerâ€™s wife. By all human standards, she is a comfortable woman. She is in a well paid job. She has children who are holding their own in varying fields of endeavour. What I will stoutly resist is disclosing her name.
Apart from being full of herself, this traditional rulerâ€™s wife obviously has ‘verbal diarrhoea’. Nothing escapes her comment, even things that do not personally concern her or her immediate family. She takes absolute pleasure in telling all manner of stories about the other person. She has no reservations. Some people believe that â€œgossipâ€ is her middle name.
She talks about people as if she has the patent to do so. That is the issue. That is what makes gossip a terrible profession. That is what has continued to reduce this woman before her colleagues in the office and her husbandâ€™s subjects.
There are more people like this traditional rulerâ€™s wife. Indeed, they are not in short supply. They are found in every community and profession. They heat up the polity. They destroy families; create enmity between friends and associates. They inject bad blood between the government and the governed. They stop at nothing to achieve their nefarious project.
I doubt if there is anything we have not been told about Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State. We were once told that he was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London. At the time this rumour was making the rounds, Ohakim was in his village drinking palm wine and savouring local delicacies with his relations and friends!
Recently, the Imo Police Command arrested Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, the leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) who is currently facing criminal charges for kidnap and illegal detention of a citizen. Today, his loyalists blame Ohakim for Uwazuruikeâ€™s woes. Ohakim has never complained to anybody that Uwazuruike is a pain in his neck, so why would he deal with the MASSOB leader?
There are some others who are acting out the script of their groups. They have talked about Ohakim milking Imo State, short-changing the local councils, engaging in kidnapping, killing and maiming innocent citizens, owning houses in choice areas of state capitals of the world and a number of other sundry crimes. The Imo State House of Assembly invited them to come forward and substantiate their allegations but none did till date.
Honestly, I do not envy public office holders. Every step they take in governance is given all manner of interpretation. Imo State government, in a bid to stop the filtering away of resources by those charged with the responsibility of collecting its funds, asked people to pay directly into designated commercial banks. Today, we are told that Ohakim is making workers redundant with a view to retrenching them.
Ohakim recently came out with a policy to return some schools to their original owners. Apart from the palpable level of crime in society, which many blame on forceful takeover of schools by the Ukpabi Asika administration in the defunct East Central State and jettisoning of religious instructions in the public schools, missionaries have been unrelenting in asking for the return of their properties to them.
Gossip is deadly because many have died as a result of damaging rumours peddled against them. I regret that I do not know what other tribes call gossip but Ndigbo call it â€œasiriâ€ or â€œashiriâ€. Analyzing this word critically, one finds out that the word can be broken into two parts, â€œa-siriâ€ or â€œa-shiriâ€ (it is said).
Nobody gets to disclose who generated the tale being replicated. The word is radically different from â€œa-simâ€ or â€œa-shirimâ€ (I said). In this case, the story teller puts his or her imprint on the stuff peddled. A lie is the twin sister of gossip.
I am told that these professional fake story peddlers usually feel they have lost something if and whenever they fail to say something, just anything true or false, about their fellow man or woman. They have itchy tongues and usually restless. If they do not go about sourcing for rumour, they stay at home to entertain rumour bearers. They must find a beautiful way to twist stories to suit their nefarious activities. Honestly, they break peopleâ€™s heart with ease and do not mind the consequences of their actions.
Some people spoke their minds on the issue. Miss Chioma Chukwumeziri, a computer expert said: â€œIt is not a good past time. A person, whose stock in trade is gossip is definitely not a normal human being. They do not keep secretsâ€.
Chukwumeziri was of the view that â€œthey need deliverance and forgivenessâ€. A youth corper currently serving in Edo State, who identified herself as Chinwendu, roundly condemned people that engage in gossip.
â€œNo man or woman is a saint. Nobody has anybodyâ€™s mandate to police his or her private affairs. Why people take delight in breaking homes and relationships with their damaging gossips beats my imagination and why people lend their ears to such people is even more baffling,â€ Chinwendu opined
I used to think that social status can make somebody change from his or her evil ways. I have since been proved wrong. I have also discovered that politicians who want to break into the corridors of power tell all manner of lies against their colleagues to remain relevant. This is sad indeed.
Mr.Â NkwoparaÂ is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers.