By Chimdi Maduagwu
I begin again, this week, with yet another relay of “My Guilty Dream.” The truth about it all is that no matter how hard I try, I just cannot stop dreaming. I dreamt that I was Head of Government. Please, don’t get me wrong, I did not see myself as Hon. Earnest Sonekan, who was appointed Head of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, neither did I see myself go through the rigours of electioneering campaigns (with all forms of promises), and of course, I am far from the military circle, so forceful overthrow is equally ruled out, but I just emerged. That is the power of dreams.
The first set of battles I faced as the Head of Government was against a giant who called himself my past or our past. He came in form of a huge, loose baggy book, the kind that reminds one of the loose baggy novels of the Victorian England; such novels as Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. I thought that was okay, since I have been able to read such fat texts, including Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Dostoyevsky’s The Devils etc. I thought I would be able to go through the battle. However, it was not exactly so, I saw, like the Apostle John, the Devine, a volume that, I suppose, no one possesses the capability to open.
It then dawned on me that this could be the much talked about “volume of books.” I could not believe that I was still alive. Is it not written that what came to me in the dream was only possible at judgment? And when actually is judgment; is it not after death? “…for it is appointed once for a man to die and after that, judgment…” then I thought and believed that I was dead … if I was dead, then there is nothing to fear again (for the greatest fear and the sum total of all fears, is the fear of death). I had my freedom to be, what I always wanted to be.
I know it will be a bit of suspense if I don’t continue, right away, with how I succeeded or failed in the first set of battles, I am sorry I may not, because I still have some preambles to deal with. T. S. Elliot, the great Anglo-American writer, in his highly intellectual but hilarious poem, “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock,” alluded to an idea from the highly respected Italian writer of an earlier period, Dante Alighieri, who through his great work, The Divine Comedy, made popular the vision of life after death.
One important ingredient of this mental picture of life after death is also the fact that no one comes back to the material world after his material body has dissolved back to dust. So, in the poem, “Love Song…” Elliot drawing upon this, makes the protagonist of the poem, a lover, address his “love,” in all sincerity, as if no one else would get to know whatever would transpire because whatever transpired, would never get back to the world of mortals. This is because they are in a different world, one of the worlds created by Dante known as Limbo. But that was a special Limbo because it was not just like a dividing line, but a symbolic indication of “crossover.”
At this point, let me now go over to “cross over.” My dream was a cross over, for me; from my world of reality to a different world; world of illusions, similar to the world created by the protagonist of Elliot’s Pruflock and a world where nobody leaves to return and report to the material world. Yesterday, the world turned around for some Nigerians whose dreams have become fulfilled. One of them is President Mohammadu Buhari. It is for this reason that I want to share my own dream as “Head of Government.”
There are obvious differences between us; while his dream is fulfilled because he has become president, mine was an apparent fulfillment as head of government. Was I really in charge? No, not exactly. So is he really going to be in charge, well, I do not have an answer to that.
I dreamt that I was mandated to clean up what appeared like the Augean Stable, without the strength of Hercules, just like I was to read the volume of books without being Christ. I managed to do justice to that. Then I recalled that was the fifth Herculean task, and that presupposes that I had either ignored some four tasks before, or I would still meet them ahead of me.
I started struggling to wake up. The dream was no longer exciting. It would mean that I had ahead of me such labours like eliminating monsters and man-eating creatures or cannibals; restoring precious items lost to vicious phenomena; searching to unearth treasures hitherto undiscovered, which are highly needed by my government; and what appeared most treacherous was what seemed like Hercules’ twelfth and last labour. I was to go to the underworld, like Hercules to free the government from the “bondage of forgetfulness.”
In the first instance, I consider it extremely mischievous that I should travel seven seas and valleys, seven worlds and vacuums and seven times back and forth, to free my government of forgetfulness, only for the government to remember me, in my unrighteousness and filth. My government is comfortably seated on the “chair of forgetfulness,” like Theseus, who Hercules is mandated to free. I, like Hercules would break into the underworld of Hades, confront, battle and overcome Cerberus, the three headed vicious guard dog at the gate of Hades and carry out the assignment.
This calls for something even more than the miracle of resurrection. But I committed the offence; my offence was just that I became strong, or should I say, qualified for the labours. One counterpoint: my labours will surely discover me and do unto me, what it has done unto others.
Suddenly, fate came to my rescue and behold I woke up. I was not dead; I was not in Limbo; I was neither on my way to or from the underworld of Hades. I started thinking of the “chair of forgetfulness,” and the miracle of remembrance that I had just worked out. This could be resurrection of knowledge. My people now know; they now can remember. What actually is the implication of that to me, their leader? They will remember who I am; their eyes will open to see me, in truth and indeed.
This is a stern warning to me to be careful. My predecessor gave them freedom and they used that to remove him. They talked back at him because they had freedom of speech. They cast their vote against him because the use of their rights was restored to them; they made announcements against him because they were emboldened to do so.
These are lessons for me, Mr. Head of Government. The chicken that is unmoved by the sacrifice of its colleague needs to be reminded that the same fate awaits it. I have learnt to plead guilty, especially in “My Guilty Dreams,” so as a Head of Government, I plead guilty ahead of time.