There is nothing as sweet as stolen meat. If you go to the same pot from which you were served three pieces of Yoruba-standard meat and steal the tiniest piece of meat in it, you’ll discover the taste is different. It is always juicier, more delicious, and even glints in the dark like the cow or chicken was wearing bling-bling before meeting death. Also, if you listen carefully, you can hear the alleluia chorus playing as you lift it out of the pot. Whether it is the excitement and fear of being caught, or just the knowledge that one is doing something wrong that spices it in a way that ONGA and MAGGI can never match, I don’t know. But one thing I know that is sweeter than ordinary stolen meat, (aside Kabiru don’t kill me for my mother Kind of sex) is stolen chicken that has jazz in it.
In retrospect, it sometimes seems there is an inescapable mandate to be stupid when young. Because it is stupidity and nothing else that’ll make anyone steal Baba white’s chicken. Every neighborhood has that creepy old man. The one you use style to check on the morning after those mountain of fire people living upstairs screamed “all witches and wizard fall and die” all through the night. The one who if your ball enters into his compound, you just forget it and buy another ball even if he gives it back to you, because are you a fool? Ball that he would have changed to your destiny you want to be playing it up and down? What if you play your destiny and enter bush and cannot find it again? What if while playing monkey post you shoot your destiny and it hits chuku chuku and bursts?
We found it endlessly intriguing that a man who was called Baba white, who you could never see a speck of white on his hair because he was always clean shaven, was always garbed in either red or black, perpetually drinking from an opaque water bottle rumored to contain blood. Where the white in his name came from seeing as none of his kids was named white, none of us knew, and it seemed the entire neighborhood operated on a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ covenant regarding the origin of the name. His over-all look could easily make him a substitute for the Baba in movies that asks Kanayo O. Kanayo ‘can you do all it takes?’ when he comes for money rituals. You can now imagine that this was the Baba whose chicken I ate and even used toothpick.
**DJ Village people please kindly Cue in that “aiye le o. ibosi o” song here because Aiye mi temi bami.**
It was Easter holiday, I was in JSS3, and had just discovered the redeeming powers of beer. Precisely star Lager beer. The plan was simple and duties had been delegated in preparation for our rendezvous. I and Ibrahim- whose mother ran a beer parlor- were going to provide beer. Obinna was tasked with providing chicken seeing as his mother had a frozen food store. While Efe, whose culinary skills birthed greatness every time he handled food, was conferred with the job of frying the chickens or whatever he did that made them taste like manna from heaven.
Like other times, each of us got the funds required to carry out our respective duties. Mine was to go to No beer in heaven bar-Ibrahim’s mother’s bar-, buy the beer as if it was for the adults at home, and take it to Ejiro who handled the logistics of moving everything to the venue, which was an abandoned house at Abu Street. Ibrahim who almost always sold to me, repeatedly snuck more than the number of beer my money was supposed to afford. We also made sure to spread the purchase over a couple of days to avoid suspicion.
Obinna did pretty much the same with his mother’s chicken. He would drop some money in the safe, and sneak out a healthy amount of frozen chicken; all delivered to Ejiro ‘Heisenberg’ of course, the chicken drug lord.
The beer and chicken rendezvous held at least once a month, giving us ample time to save up cash and refine strategies to ensure we were never caught. The rendezvous was done using different cover story and this time we hid under the guise of drama rehearsal for Easter Sunday. We always made sure to buy enough Tom Tom, butter mint and sprint chewing gum to cover the beer breath and had successfully carried it on for four months with continually improving success until love fucked it all up.
You see this thing they call Love ehn? It can make a man do crazy things especially when you’re young and inexperienced at handling the innumerable butterflies it summons in your stomach. Before you know it, they fly all the way to your brain and consume all the pollen grains of sense therein, causing you to do something stupid. Like using the money for chicken to buy gift for Sarah in SS1c and then going to Steal Baba white’s chicken instead because mother has tightened security around her frozen food store, and time is running out. Ladies and gentleman, this is what Malafukin Obinna did to us. He had somehow bought Efe’s silence until alcohol loosened his tongue and he spilled the truth.
I have said over and over again that if I was Esau in the bible, the only two things I can sell my birthright for are Ewa-Agoyin and Chicken. And as they say in the east, that day, ‘chicken wu catholic’ indicating that there was more than enough chicken. I should have spotted that as a red flag – with skull being held by a Pirate with one eye – but I was busy eating sweet,spiced, delicious, dripping with oily goodness juju. The other boys concentrated on drinking beer and for every piece of chicken they took, I had probably obliterated three.
There are certain kinds of news that clears the effect of beer from your eyes instantly. News about a loved one who just died, a call from a babe saying ‘baby I have missed my period’ or as was the case that day, 13th April 2001(I definitely remember the exact date. Who wouldn’t remember the day they ate their destiny), when James, while hailing Efe’s culinary skills got the response that it tasted different because it was live chicken and on further enquiry, Efe’s tongue, egged on by alcohol, blurted out that it was Baba white’s chicken that Obinna had brought for us to eat.
I remember vividly what I was doing when the words fluttered out of Efe’s mouth and hung in the air. I just finished using toothpick to remove a piece stuck in my teeth and had started sucking the marrow out of a sinfully piquant chicken lap I had just cracked. In other words, I had cracked and I was sucking Juju juice. My mind quickly conjured up the image of Jesus hanging on the cross saying “it is finished”.
**This is where we cue in track 2 of the ‘this village people sef’ mix-tape.**
I felt like I had eaten sacrifice placed on the road, drank juice and then gone to the shrine to ask for toothpick.
The news of the chicken’s origin hit me hard and my imagination went to the market, took of its cloth, and ran wild. The more I looked at Obinna’s face, the more it morphed into Chinwetalu Agu’s face – The face of the village uncle who killed his brother’s son in the last Nigerian movie I watched. If memory served me correctly, all Baba white’s chickens had a red cloth tied around their leg. The same leg I had sucked the marrow out of, and was now on the ground in front of me, arranged the way cowries arrange themselves after being thrown by a Babalawo, right before he looks into them and announces something bad. The more I looked at the bones, the more they seemed to zoom into my field of vision, spelling death.
We were in a state of panic. Obinna tried his best to reassure us that nothing dey happen. I was quiet and trying my best not to crow. It would have been unprofessional. What chicken worth its onions crows by 8pm. I thought it best to get into character seeing as my human days were obviously numbered. We dispersed and went home, abandoning the remaining beer. We regarded each other before we left, solemnly, as if to etch the memory of the last time we would see ourselves as humans, in our head.
The sky refused to shed its black clothing and it seemed the night would drag on forever. Different thoughts like waves, crested and troughed in the tumultuous sea that was my mind as I lay on my bed. When I eventually fell asleep, I dreamt. Of course in the dream I was a chicken. A female chicken and I was drinking beer and eating corn. The sad part was that I looked like I loved it. I was pecking the corn like it was the best thing I’d ever tasted in my entire chicken life. I wasn’t alone, funny enough. There were other chickens there too. Efe, Obinna, Ibrahim and Ejiro were there cuckooing to a joke that had been told. Suddenly, a big white bald male fowl wearing red shirt came at us. It originally came at us but when others disappeared, I realized it was coming just for me. It wanted to climb me. I ran, clucking loudly as I did. I ran for what seemed like 3hours then I remembered male chickens don’t ever stop. They keep chasing till they mount. I was tired and the Baba-chicken was gaining on me, when I woke up to the sound of a cock crowing to indicate day break.
It might have been better to continue dreaming because I woke up to the crow and Baba white’s voice raining curses at the people who stole his chicken.
‘ who effa… dat is the one…dat tif my shicken…..it wee not be better for you….Ah! u haff kee yourseff by yourseff….and if u haff eat it…..ah!…Ah!!….Ahhhhhh!!!!….. O pari…….just know u haff eat your destiny…….’
He kept hurling curses but after the part about eating destiny, a young man was no longer in the world. I kept pondering on those words ‘Eaten your destiny’. But why will a destiny be so sweet for gossake. It was all Efe’s fault. How can he spice up destiny so good? With each curse Baba white let out, I felt a kick in my stomach. I was pregnant and the juju was kicking. This is the kind of news you see in PM NEWS newspaper’s alongside that of an old woman that fell from Nepa pole(it is always Nepa pole. Always) and changed to cat, then changed to goat, and finally changed to snake. If I ab-initio never believed such news, the kicking and sometimes seeming to somersault Juju in my stomach, begged to differ.
Later that morning I felt an urge. An uncontrollable desire and need to go to the toilet built up inside me. I mean, what manner of devil is this? So not only have I eaten my destiny. Now I want to defecate it. I deserved what I was going through. After all na fence wen fall na im make goat fit climb am. I couldn’t resist the call of nature or in my case whatever gods baba white was serving. I entered the toilet and relieving myself had never been more pleasurable. Guilt made a puppet out of my heart and tugged its strings. No saying mirrored the moment more than “how can something so wrong feel so good”. Worst part of it was that my output didn’t even stink. It is common knowledge that the really good stuff should reek so hard it should press people’s necks if they catch a whiff of it. But there was my destiny. Just floating lazily in the white throne. I flushed and went out, knowing no one had touched the helm of my garment but virtue had left me. Five minutes later, I felt a kick again. There was only one solution to this problem, and I took it.
That morning was Easter Sunday and I went to church to supplicate the lord for a new destiny. Shebi they say there is nothing the Lord cannot do. There has to be an extra destiny somewhere someone is not using he can give to me. I promised the Lord not to eat the next one. After church, I saw the rest of the gang. They were scared but there was an unspoken agreement that, were anything to happen, I would have it worse seeing as I ate more of the chicken.
I lived every day in fear. I examined my stomach numerous times to see if I had reached my second trimester. I was always happy whenever they said let us go to the house of the Lord (before nko). I waited. We waited. And till today we are still waiting.
I later realized Baba white had no fetish reason for tying those things to the chicken. He was an old man who lived alone and carrying himself that way was the only way to instill fear and prevent people from stealing his chickens.
Mtchewwwwww. Fake Baba
Like say we know. Na him goat we for thief…….
Nonsense and ingredients
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