This piece addresses a serious national issue but is laced with an ample dose of comic relief. It is, basically, satirical albeit topical. Inspired by a classical Chicago Blues tune titled “Hoochie Coochie Man”, the article is partly experiential hence entertaining even in its topicality; its introductory anecdote reflects the author’s affinity with music. In the final analysis, the article climaxes in a satirical allusion that critically but concisely interrogates the dysfunctional mechanics of multiparty democracy as practiced in Nigeria. In 1965, I sang a love song to the eldest daughter of the Oba of Ogbaland at the market, which doubled as town square, and I was promptly arraigned before a juvenile court; I was fifteen years old. At sixteen, I bought my first guitar and was immediately de-robed from the choir of St. Michael’s Church, Omoku. During the Nigerian civil war, my guitar shielded me from going to the battlefield and I had the special privilege of performing with Osita Osadebe, Sunny Nwamama and other bands. At the end of the civil war, I played with Rex Lawson and other bands before co-founding The Blackstones, which was the first rock band in the history of old Rivers State. I was therefore a footloose and fancy free lad until family leashed me back to school. Today, irrespective of being a university don, music remains my first love and primary constituency hence I am addressing a very serious national issue from the angle of music.
In 1954, McKinley Morganfield (1913–1983), aka Muddy Waters and often referred to as the “Father of Modern Chicago Blues”, recorded the song titled “Hoochie Coochie Man”. Written in 1953 by bassist Willie Dixon, the song, which is considered a classic in Chicago Blues, became one of the most recognizable musical phrases in the blues genre. Following the song’s success in 1954, Waters recorded several live and new studio versions. Subsequently and in quick succession, numerous musicians covered it in a variety of musical styles, making it one of the most interpreted Waters songs. B.B. King, Jimmy Smith, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jeff Healey, Robert Palmer, Bo Diddley, Mick Jaager of The Rolling Stones and a host of other accomplished musicians interpreted Hoochie Coochie Man reflecting the musical motifs and idioms of their various genre but within the general context of blues. B.B. King rechristened his version “Manish Boy” and Bo Diddley called his “I’m a Man”. The Blues Foundation and Grammy Hall of Fame recognize the song for its influence in popular music and the US Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry selected it for preservation in 2004. In its lurid lyrical eroticism,“Hoochie Coochie Man”is about a five-year old boy whose genitals strangely and worrisomely compared rather favorably with that of a grown man. The eighteen relevant lines of the 36-line song go thus:
Gypsy woman told my mother Before I was born You got a boy child’s comin’ He’s gonna be a son of a gun He gonna make pretty womens Jump and shout Then the world wanna know What this all about But you know I’m him Everybody knows I’m him Well you know I’m the hoochie coochie man Everybody knows I’m him
I got a black cat bone I got a mojo too I got the Johnny Concheroo I’m gonna mess with you Oh you know I’m the hoochie coochie man Everybody knows I’m him
From the above, it is obvious that while some people suffer from arrested development, an abnormal state in which development has stopped prematurely due to defective genes or development deficiencies that manifest in infantile fixation, the case of this little boy is the opposite. At five, he had the genitals of a grown man and could, therefore, procreate by impregnating a woman. It is within this context that the mystery of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) being seventy-one years old and having a sixty-two-year-old biological daughter is hereby interrogated. The age of BAT has been on the front burner of the Nigerian social media even before the now classical “Emi Lokan” statement that reflects “Entitlement Mentality”. BAT ventured into the race for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Based on his submissions to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) towards his quest for election, he is 71 years old. This is informed by his claim of March 29, 1952 as his birthdate.
In an interview with The Guardian published on Friday, October 15, 1998, the declared age of Tinubu was 52. If that is correct, then simple arithmetic will put him at 77 in 2023, which is at variance with the 71 years claimed. Again, Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, the first child of BAT, is currently sixty-two. These mean that if we accept 77 as the right age, then BAT was fourteen when he impregnated his daughter’s mother; if, we accept seventy-one, then he did the Divine duty of procreation at the tender age of eight. If this is the case, then Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a “Manish Boy”, which makes him a “Hoochie Coochie Man”. The comic element of this piece put aside, it is hereby asked thus: is it proper to put the affairs of more than 200 million citizens of the most endowed country in the world in the hands of an individual whose age changes like Cleveland weather? That inconsistency speaks volubly of the character of the individual. Added to the criminal indictment on drug charges etc. it is asked: is Nigeria lacking in quality political manpower that an individual with these records should preside over the affairs of the nation? Man is currently mass producing custom-made babies in a laboratory of multiple man-made wombs as the world is moving ahead at breakneck speed in all directions of human endeavor. Meanwhile, fueled by ethnocentrism, sectionalism, religious bigotry, and other petty little prejudices, Nigeria is shamelessly driving speedily on reverse gear. And if I may quote Chief Bode George: “we are toying with the future of this country…the future of our own children…let’s wake up for God’s sake”.
Osai, Professor of Development Studies at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org