Story 1: The Moses Problem

Some moons ago, in Arokostan, a gap toothed man seized power and enthroned himself as king.

Of course, there were outcries against the tyranny of the man they all love to hate. Amongst the many, the voice of a short knicker, khaki wearing, school headmaster was louder than most. He was a brave man, leading protests and postulating about all the things that should be, could be, but were not.

The headmaster was highly respected in Arokostan, afterall he established a school that was primes inter pares and he has demonstrated, in his small community, what leadership can achieve.

For the villagers of Arokostan, life was not a smiling affair, survival was a struggle. As the gap toothed throne usurper cunningly steer Arokostan through economic, social and political debates, he came to be known by different names. Some say he was Maradona, after the dribbling skills of the Argentine “hand of God” soccer player, while others say he was the “evil genious”. While no one saw him as the Messiah, what nobody could deny was that he was very intelligent.

So, our Maradona, was fed up with the wailing of the headmaster and spent several sleepless nights thinking of how to put to silence this nemesis of his while at the same time endearing himself to the people. Like a light bulb that was flickered on, he suddenly got the idea, a very brilliant one it was.

He called a council meeting with his chiefs and shared his brilliant plan with them. They told him that it would not end in praise. He was flabbergasted, how couldn’t they see what he saw?

Well, Maradona sent the town crier out to announce that, having seen the suffering of the people and their frustrations, a “People’s Bank” has been established in Arokostan which will give them soft loans so they can pursue their various life interests more easily. In addition, the village headmaster will be the chairman of the bank to ensure that it is well managed.

The people were jubilant, and were very expectant of a new dawn. The headmaster was also convinced that this was a good thing for Arokostan. He accepted the appointment and diligently got working, convinced beyond measure that he could help change Arokostan for good.

Everyone was pleased – our Maradona was smiling with his gap teeth out, the headmaster and his ilks were glad and so were the people. But one thing that our Maradona knew, that was not obvious to the headmaster, was about the nature of the people of Arokostan. Other villages surrounding Arokostan consider Arokostanians as brash, self-centred, non respecter of laws, corrupt and lacking in morals.

Though Arokostan remained the cynosure of all eyes, they had great people and many other villages needed their natural resource to survive, yet they were treated with contempt by many. Surrounding villages had stopped trading with them, require any Arokostanian wanting to visit their village to undergo excruciatingly painful processes to get visiting permits etc.

Well a few moons later, the headmaster learnt the lesson that our Maradona had known all these while, Arokostanians do not really want good leaders. Their actions are far away from what they say with their mouth. They complain and grumble only when the ball is not in their court. So what happened? While the headmaster was tirelessly working to ensure “better life” for the people, granting loans towards what he perceived as opportunities worth investing in, corruption was festering under his leadership. When it blew open, he couldn’t believe what he found out – how could this have been? The same people that he was taking policy decisions with were those presenting fictitious projects and opportunities for loan funding. Like a dog, with his tails between his legs, he went to Maradona to request prosecution of all those involved.

Our Maradona with a chuckle on his face, feeling satisfies, placed his hand on the shoulder of the agonising headmaster. Sir, you’ve got the Moses problem. Remember him sir? While he was busy on Mount Sinai working with God, his people were busy making idols! While you were busy working out the vision for the bank, your people were busy siphoning the money.

So, sir, said the evil genius, if you can’t manage a small thing like People’s Bank, what makes you think that managing Arokostan is easier? Uncle, he further said (trying to drive his point home), you have maligned my name in the street because of the corruption of members of my team, it will just be fair for me to blame you too. But I will not, because I know who Arokostanians are. Why don’t you go home and I will clean the mess.

Feeling humiliated, the headmaster went home a sad man. How could this happen to me, he often asked? Being an honourable man, he saw no justification to take part in any other protest against Maradona. The mere thought of all these contributed to his death very few years thereafter.

His epitaph, which he had written by himself, reads “Here lies Tai Solarin, who lived and died for humanity”

by ‘Bimbo Bakare, the story teller.