We are taking the Pidgin English route for our headline this morning because I want us to draw an important lead from a famous line delivered by arguably, the most popular television program that was watched by persons who lived in the defunct Bendel State, in the 70s and 80s. Hotel De Jordan was a favorite for many families because of how the actors and actresses mirrored vast segments of the population through the weekly offering. We had popular names like Kokori Ojabuno, Idemudia Okpiopanwonyi, Chief Ajas, Chief Ukatabiribiri, Gbe-wan, Bob Allan, Usiobaifo, Gedegedegbewun, Casino Manager, Madam Brefa, Atatikolo, Mallam Kura, Mayor, and numerous other actors (I know just by seeing these names and remembering their faces, many readers familiar with the program wish they could see those episodes again!)
I don’t know how it started but when the level of panic regarding the spread of the coronavirus went up some disturbing notches last week, a line from the famous program began to play again in my head. Here is the line rendered masterfully in Pidgin English by the unforgettable Alile: ‘Na where dey pain person dem dey put for near fire, if you no know, I tell you na Alile dey talk…’
Unfortunately, I cannot remember the other parts of the song but I can never forget this bit. Amazing how these lines have remained in my sub-conscious all these years.
These unforgettable lines are tellingly relevant for the current season. We are assailed on many sides by many life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, going by the dominant headlines in the news, the coronavirus appears like the only disease facing our people. Not even Lassa Fever that has killed so many people (and is still on its killing spree) gets anything close to the kind of attention the coronavirus is getting. Yet ‘Na where dey pain person, dem dey put for near fire…’
Only yesterday, a beloved sister lost her 56year old brother who was a Judge in the East. He just slumped and died. The number of people who just slump and die is quite significant compared with the numbers from the coronavirus, yet the condition is not hugging the headlines anywhere close to what the coronavirus is getting. Yet, ‘Na where dey pain person, dem dey put for near fire…’
The import of this important line from history is that priority ought to be given to the most pressing matters. In the current situation, the malarias, the Lassa Fevers, High-Blood Pressures, etc. need not take the backseat, and be forgotten because of the general frenzy that the exotic coronavirus has stirred across the globe.