I love gist! I have loved it since I was a child. I love to listen to exaggerated stories. The more outrageous, the better. Which is why I love fiction; short stories, novels etc. I also love the spoken word; tales by moonlight or by fluorescent light.
I love listening to two young ladies I know. World wise 18 and 19 year olds. No pun intended. They are students of a most interesting private University in Nigeria, where the stock in trade is to assume the status of a miniature representation of a ‘perfect’ society.
About a month ago, I heard that one of their school mates and a family friend of ours was shot to death by armed robbers when she left school for a party; without an exeat if I might add. Yes, you need an exeat to leave College!
We were very sad and angry at what sort of people these ‘robbers’ were. Until last week!
And here’s the gist. She was not killed by robbers but by assassins sent after her by a fellow student she had offended. Not bizarre enough? Please stay with me....
This deceased girl; we’ll call her Zizi, had previously offended this murderer ; we’ll call her Mimi. Mimi had for all these months nursed her hate in her heart and had been known to have said something along the lines of “I’ll show you” with that unique snapping of the fingers, roughing of the neck, narrowing of the eyes and the proper degree of evil in them eyes. Mimi is known by all the other students as a weird young lady who says “You know I don’t forgive!” To make it worse, she had been using Zizi’s name as a password on all her accounts. Laptop, Facebook, Twitter etc probably as a reminder of what she was about to do.
Mimi now thought the time had come to ‘show’ herself and proceeded to invite Zizi for a party in Lagos. On getting there, after a few stops at other joints, Zizi was shot to death beyond recognition by armed boys along with an unfortunate friend who tagged along. And it doesn’t stop there...
After some extreme twist of fate, phone conversations between Mimi and the assassins were traced and Mimi; seeing that the game was up attempted to commit suicide in the school clinic. Don’t ask me the details; I’m not sure it was slashing of the wrist though (that is sooo white!)
Mimi has since been taken to jail and is awaiting some sort of trial. Mimi is not up to 20 of course.
And there my friends is my gist ... Sounds like fiction, right?
This is a school in Nigeria oh, not America.
I am sad. I lost a young friend. But I am afraid. The world is changing. Nigeria is changing. Young people are attempting suicide. Young people are sending assassins after others and killing them because they are offended and they don’t like to forgive. And of course I've told my two friends, "Be careful oh, try not to offend anybody!" :D
As an aside, the single story of African literature must change. We do not only wear goatskins and climb Iroko trees to pluck rotten fruit and tap wine off palm trees or trek three miles to school (It’s always three miles, never four, never two), but we are using Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry and sending text messages to killers to finish off our friends. We need to reflect that in our prose and poetry.
I may just be first! But back to the issue, I’m still very sad... I lost a young friend.