Some things are too fucking funny to be ignored. But before we discuss the intricacies of extracting humour within the Nigerian social construct, we shall begin with a brief dissertation on our favourite topic: the weird as hell-stuck-in-a-deep-freezer mental state of the average Nigerian.
You simply have to love Nigerians–or you’ll blow up the whole country in disgust. But really, its quite a cute country. You cannot help but love a country that considers itself great without any particular claim to greatness. A country where the weirdest stuff can pass as a regular event and where things considered ordinary in other parts of the world are considered out of place.
Its a regular madhouse where the insanest ideas are glorified and the intelligent ones vilified, where a Minister of Aviation thinks prayers are the answer to plane crashes, where politicians claim to receive divine instructions on public policy…
Like your average drunk, the more Nigeria tries to act normal and sophisticated, the more unsteady it looks. That’s why even though, Nigerians consume the most bottles of champagne in Africa, only a handful of those who drink it realise that it is made in the Champagne region of northeastern France or that Dom Perignon is the Benedictine monk considered to have invented it in 1688.
Now, this is the latest hot gist on the social butterfly sites (read: “Linda Ikeji” and co.): Omotola’ s handle got verified on Twitter. That’s it, the hot news. If you think I’m kidding about the hotness of the news, Google it. Its all over the social butterfly sites. But for my saner minded readers, I suppose your first Google check will be to find out who the hell is Omotola in the first place.
And that’s the hot news. That’s the freaking hot news. Twitter verification. According to the Linda Ikeji pundits, Omotola has acheived superstar status because of this oh-so-life-changing-event. Wow! I suppose all Jonathan needs now is to get verified on Twitter to prove his superpresidency and get re-elected in 2015 and maybe even afterwards too.
Now what’s all this got to do with rice? Everything. You see, Nigerians are so fucking fond of looking for the status symbol in everything: UK degree, motor cars, marriage, Shell, Dubai, Obudu, Engineer/Otunba/Chief, blackberry, and now twitter verification. The average Nigerian can see a connection in this list; and this sickening fact is what has led to the tragedy of rice.
You see, as Soyinka explains, there is nothing fundamentally great about rice itself, either nutritionally or culturally, at least not any more than yam, maize, or garri. Yet rice occupied an elevated status role in the early decades of the country—because it was imported. Eating rice “was only another status symbol, like the taking of numerous chieftaincy titles, inventing professional prefixes which do not exist in other nations––Engr. for Engineers, Arch. for Architects, etc.”
So, the folks rich enough to buy rice ate it and the poorer folks aspired to the day they would eat rice! Rice became the glorified food item for parties, special occasions and the entertaining of distinguished visitors. Again, not because rice was great in itself, but because some fucked-up social observer in some early version of Linda Ikeji’s blog thought eating rice qualified one as a “superstar” and thus began the craze for rice. Today, rice is everywhere and people at parties are beginning to request, more sanely, for Eba and bush meat.
Moral for today: neither rice nor twitter verification has offended anyone, its just that Nigerians are generally messed up in their thinking.