My fellow Nigerians, I am a 500 Naira note, with the picture of the late, great, Owelle of Onitsha imprinted on me. What an oxymoron if ever there was one – the frame-shot of political nobility transposed on a worthless piece of legal tender responsible for the blood, sweat and tears of many.
These days I feel quite worthless, and I have seen the inside linings of many pockets, been shoved under the table into strangers hands in exchange for favors not worth the paper I am printed on; I have been bartered for human dignity. Watched governments rise and fall. Seen pretenders betray their moral creed for wealth and fame. In times past, I have watched as friends and family turned against each other in my name and those of my more illustrious peers – Dollar, Euro and Sterling. These days, my worth has been devalued compared to my American cousin – talk about racial, sorry fiscal discrimination. Dollar 1; Naira 230.
Only last night, I was comforting a N20 who has been mis-used and maltreated, changing hands and pockets between buyers and sellers of services in local brothels, meshai joints and street neighborhoods. N20 said he wish he could end up in the hands of a stingy Ijebu man, as that would surely be the end of his solemn journey. He further reminisced about the glory days when N20 was the apex Nigerian monetary note, and N400 could buy a 504 car. Then corruption hadn’t really taken root into our national fabric.
As a N500 note, I have had a long and fruitful life. I have been in clubs where I was tossed into the air like a new born baby to announce my owner’s baller status, and seen that same owner hold on to me in tears months later when he became broke and destitute, and the well-wishers and gold digger girlfriends were nowhere to be seen. I have been torn apart, shared in court, because his ex-wife wants half of me.
I have been the subject of scorn at fellowships where people mocked me as the root of all evil, forgetting that being infatuated with me in the problem, and not me. People prefer to shoot the messenger – they should attack the root, not the shoots.
I have been sprayed on the sweaty foreheads of new brides doing their wedding dance at ostentatious Victoria Island weddings – one particular bride shoved me aside and kept dancing, and then I fell on the floor where I was surrounded by currencies of every nationality and value – naira, pounds, yen, euros. I was about to speak to a 100 dollar note, when I was blown by the fan to a side table on the left. Then I felt the rubber sole of a brogues shoes on me. I was trampled upon by the wedding MC, as he hid me to pick later when no-one was watching. And that was how my waka for the day started…
Part 2 coming soon.