Wednesday, 12 September 2007

On……the brief meeting between Sherlock Holmes and King Jaja of Opobo




'Extraordinary' exclaimed Holmes one late summer evening in 1882. It had been a fallow period for the criminal underclass and my friend had become quite restive. At such times he was given to sustained periods of cocaine abuse. It was a terrible sight to witness him in those periods and despite my best attempts to wean him from the drug, I could offer no substitute for the euphoria that filled him when he was immersed in one of his cases. He would often go days and weeks without so much as uttering a word in my direction, thus it was with no small amount of surprise that his exclamation met my ears.

“As I suspected the mixture of three parts manganese and two parts bisulphate of barysta produces a compound that is quite potent if used as a sedative"

“Remarkable” I responded weakly. Despite my own scientific background I was admittedly a novice in the field of experimentation.

Holmes slumped into his favourite armchair by the fire and I was relieved to see him reach for his pipe and not the leather case that contained his syringe.

“Today’s criminal, Watson, is an incurably lazy fellow” remarked Holmes

“In the past three weeks alone, I have noted no fewer than four state visits from varying royal families across Europe, each parading as many expensive jewels as they are hoarding official documents and treaties. Yet my attention has not been drawn to any significant cases in the past month save, perhaps, the rather trifling affair concerning the Duke of Northumberland’s missing cygnet. Were I a criminal, Watson, I daresay that I would be the craftiest and hardest working in my profession”

“It is perhaps fortunate then, Holmes, that you are not a criminal” said I “You might prove so successful in your alternative profession that you would be forced to revert to your true one in a bid to catch yourself”

Holmes laughed dryly and continued sucking on his pipe. Our exchange was cut short by the sound of the doorbell and the promise of a night-time guest. Holmes eyes lit up as, moments later, Mrs. Hudson ushered in our visitor, King JaJa of Opobo.

Our caller was a tall Negro who stood well above six feet. His features were typical of the Negro, a wide, brutish face accentuated by a flat, squat nose and thick, protruding lips. He was powerfully built and I found my fingers instinctively tightening around my cane as I recalled the last unsociable visit that we had received from a Negro.

“That will not be necessary Watson” said Holmes reading my thoughts. “I daresay that our guest is here on rather more personable business than our last friend from the dark continent. Although he has experienced a childhood of slavery, I note that our guest is of noble stock in his homeland. Pray, King. Jaja won‘t you sit down?”

“Thank you Mr. Holmes for seeing me” responded the Jaja of Opobo in stilted, heavily accented English “There are several of your esteemed peers who have turned me away at the door at the mere sight of my countenance. I must warn you, however, that my business here is of a very sensitive nature and I would much prefer if I had the opportunity to speak with you in private”

“Dr. Watson is my personal physician and long time chronicler. I can assure you that his discretion is of the utmost eminence and that you may speak as freely before him as before myself”

“Very well, then. I know of your reputation Mr. Holmes and that you are a fair and just man. As an Englishman some of the revelations I make may sit uncomfortably with you. Nevertheless, my presence here is not so much to enlist your aid than to bear witness to the questionable actions of some of your fellow kinsmen.”

“I have had occasion to deal with some very poor specimens of the human race irrespective of their nationality. I can assure you that I will be unfazed by anything you may have to say. Pray continue”


“It would be best, perhaps, if I were to start at the very beginning” our guest said, finally sitting down.

“In my experience there is often no better place to start” said Holmes

“I hail from Amaigbo in Igboland. I was sold as a slave at the age of twelve and was given the name, Jubo Jubogha. I was fortunate enough to learn English to a high degree and began using this to my advantage. I soon managed to pay my way out of slavery and gained a reputation noteworthy enough to allow me become the head of the Anna Pepple House in the Bonny Creek after the incumbent passed away. Our people can be a discordant race, Mr Holmes. Almost from the start of my reign, there was conflict particularly from a rival chief, Oko Jumbo, who headed the Manilla Pepple house. It is sad that this internal strife forced me to break away from the House and set up an independent city state by a river formerly called Ekomtoro in Andoni country. I have since renamed the town Opobo”

“You must be aware that oil- palm oil is enjoying a roaring trade in the Bonny hinterland this past decade or so. Many of the rival chiefs have been forced to deal with the Europeans who live in the coast. However, over the years I have built strong contacts with the British to such an extent that I am now the principal exporter of palm oil directly to Liverpool. In fact it is a meeting with Hatton & Cookson, one of my primary contacts, that brings me to England”

“There has been great unrest in recent years, Mr. Holmes. The thirst for power and riches has turned our people against each other. Greed and envy have become rife in my homeland. The Itsekiri will not even dine at the same table as the Urhobos. Association with one makes you the enemy of the other so you can only deal with either of them through the Ijos. The Kalabaris and the Okrikas will sooner kill themselves then to help the other out. The Ikwerre and the Ibani have not even spoken to each other for a lifetime. This is a most sad state of affairs and the British are using this to their full advantage.

Our guest had managed to work himself into quite an animated state but he declined my offer of a glass of brandy and continued.

“They say the Atlantic slave trade is dead yet many pf our finest sons still go missing. Most of the chiefs have become so powerless that they cannot even mobilise enough men to search fro them. In any case, it is easier to just lay the blame of these kidnappings at your neighbour’s feet and start a civil war. Of late, the favourite British pastime has been to wave a piece of paper under the nose of our kings. In exchange for free trade they are forcing them to abdicate their thrones. Of course half of these kings cannot read the documents in front of them and are being wilfully deceived. They call this piece of paper the Protectorate treaty but who or what is being protected? I have refused to sign the document as it is tantamount to a warrant that will make us serfs on our own land. I have been threatened with bombardment and force, Mr Holmes. My crime, it seems, has been to restrict fair trade which takes precedence over free trade. Never mind the fact that I have created jobs all across the Opobo river and beyond. I have paid all my predecessor's debts to the Europeans and have never resorted to violence despite provocation on several occasions. I fear that my days are numbered, my oracle has already warned of this. However our fight for free trade will continue long after I am dead. The British cannot lay claim to a land that our forefathers toiled so long and hard for. I will no sit idly by, Mr Holmes, I cannot"

“Your narrative is most revealing. However I must confess at being at a complete loss as to how I may be of any assistance to you. I am neither a government official nor in the direct employ of Her Majesty” said Holmes after a short pause.

“Quite right Mr Holmes. As I said at the start, I have approached several individuals of repute, including members of Parliament and Commons in an effort to state my case. Until now, not one person has so much as opened the door to me. I have grown tired of writing letters without so much as the grace of an acknowledgement. No Mr. Holmes you cannot help me but you have kindly given me your ear this past half hour. There are good men here in England who I know will continue to fight the cause of an oppressed people. I am confident that you and Dr. Watson have been greater enlightened by some of the events transpiring in Africa"

King Jaja rose to leave and Holmes rose to shake his hand "I am in great profit for your visit this evening. I only wish that there was more that I could do to help "

We both sat in silence for some time after King Jaja had left. "There goes, Watson, as noble a gentleman as any royal I have ever met. On the subject of Empire, you know that I am a most ardent devotee. Yet I fear that the sophistication of those that we call savages on these lands is advancing at such a rate that one begins to question our continued interference. Invasion is only an attractive option where one has a clear and prescribed exit strategy. I fear that there are dark and bloody days ahead and we may yet rue the incessant expansion of the Great British Empire"

"Anyway" said Holmes springing up. “I have skulked indoors for far too long and I am in need of some mental invigoration. There is a rendition of Chopin's second opus at the Lyceum and if we catch a hansom we may yet be in time for the third act"

56 comments:

UnNaked Soul said...

FIRST!!!!!!!!!!
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Waffarian said...

Watson, I dare say this has been most revealing, my memory has long been hazy with the dim fog of opium. My long legs are stretched out before me and even now as I recall the visit of those noble of men from the African pennisula, I shiver involuntary with the memories of times long gone.

Bitchy said...

Did you mean Kalabari when you said Kalahari? Is this part of a work in progress? I'm confuuuuuused!

I'm having a slow day - sorry :(

catwalq said...

Catwalq International Academie III is here!!!!!

Zephi said...

I am confused here...Did this actually happen...I am not to conversant with king jaja of opobo and the events that conspired within that time....Can you shed some more light..Forgive my ignorance...I am willing to learn
BTW, lovely write up.you never fail to deliver....

Bitchy said...

My kinsman, Jaja (did I tell you that I'm from Opobo? No joke!) thanks you for the honour of including him as a character in your work of fiction.

He would also like to apologise for the blockheadedness the Bitchy one displayed yesterday.

Cheerio Xxx

Mona said...

im sorry if this comes out as ignorant but i never knew jaja of opobo met sherlock holmes or ??????

ur blog is soooooooooo cool

.......check out www.themilklady.com

lol the milklady always delivers ;o)

Anonymous said...

@zephi - sherlock holmes is a fictional character

Atutupoyoyo said...

@ Un Naked: Send me your date of birth and account number so I can transfer your prize. Make sure you give me the security details too o!

@ Waffarian: Brilliant! Brilliant! A fellow Sherlockian is a friend of mine. I should have even got you to write this as you sound more Sherlock than Sherlock. We must work together Waffy.

@ Bitchy: I should really re-read before posting. Yes I meant Kalabari and have done a quick edit. With those proof reading skills you should be working in a literary agency.......

@ Zephi: Thanks. No this is completely fictional. I am not sure if King Jaja ever visted England. Besides Sherlock Holmes was a completely fictional character.

@ Oluwabitchyola: You shitting me? Who would have thunk it? A daughter of Opobo in the flesh. When I was young I used to think Opobo was like a mystical land like Eldorado or something. It is now wonder that you are in direct contact with the ancestors. Tell King Jaja that he is most welcome and that I do not think you are blockheaded at all. Quite the contrary ;-)

@ Mona: Thanks for reading. No this is completely fictional. I have actually visited your blog before but I may not have commented. I need to do like a blogroll but I am too lazy and incompetent to do one. Help?

UndaCovaSista said...

One can almost forgive you for the sporadic nature of your updates when you deliver such gems as this.

Lol @ "...and i found my fingers instinctively tightening around my cane as i recalled the last unsociable visit that we received from a Negro". Reading this at work and i had to turn my snorts of laughter into a coughing fit!!

PS - What drugs were you taking when you were thinking up names like oko jumbo and ekomtoro? I think i want some...

Isi said...

hmm... is it impossible to find a place for you in nollwood? you would have done a great work with 'amazing grace'

UndaCovaSista said...

My bad re:my earlier comment. You didnt make up Ekomtoro afterall :0(. Elementary, my dear Watson!

UndaCovaSista said...

It gets worse!! neither did you make up oko jumbo...!
Maybe i just need drugs!!! or a holiday

Hopeful B! said...

Cheii!!! I just see the heading i just weak.......lol,lemme go and read jare

Porter deHarqourt said...

brilliant! simply brilliant!

eish...this one really hits home on two levels. i spent so many hours in the library reading every sherlock holmes volume ever published when i was in secondary school...

...and then as a Bonny boy, the history of King Jaja is something I'm very familiar with. i can imagine him striding up Baker street in his native attire. even exchanging his cap with Sherlock's deerstalker hat.

Atutu, Atutu you never cease to amaze me!

Aijay said...

Wow, Sherlock vs Jaja.
Dude u're tew much!! Lol.
Nice.

catwalq said...

okay, this is what happens after catwalq has spent over twenty four hours without sleep and has been tinkering with software that will help her produce her design for disaster response housing, using tilt up concrete....
could u break this down for me?

UnNaked Soul said...

*clap* *clap* *clap*
I dare say you delivered this with utmost finesse.

I imagined a book out of this plus a movie...

Atutupoyoyo said...

@ UndaCova: Thank you my love. Are you just buttering me up? And what did I say about those snorts in the Atutu guide? You will not get your money back o!

@ Isi: LOL. Nollywood here I come o. I thought that 'Amazing Grace' was a missed opportunity. We should have done a bit better.

@ Hopeful B: LOL. Why you weak now?

@ Porter: Thanks bros. The way I see am there are so many parallels with what happened in King Jaja's time and what is happening to this day.

@ Aijay: Ta luv. Na dat shayo for your party cause this kind of crase post.

@ Cat: My darling you must be the hardest working woman on the planet. You mean upon all that one you still gave us Academie 3? I am in awe of your work rate o.
Oya school ti bere. Pay attenshun leyin.

Forget the characters for a second and this post is really just about history repeating itself. What is at the centre of Jaja's outburst? Oil. Palm oil in the 19th century. Petroleum oil in the 21st. Let us look at more parallels. Jaja is like a Ken Saro-Wiwa figure who fought against the opression of the British (modern day Shell, Mobil, take your pick) who wish to benefit from a land that they do not own (Opobo/Ogoni). Sherlock Holmes represents the western world who is aware of the issues but is unable and perhaps even unwilling to help the people who are being opressed. Look at how his attention switches quickly at the end from identifying the problem to talking about a concert that they should go and watch. Also there is a parallel about invasions and not having exit strategies. Think Iraq, think Afghanistan. So in summation Jaja = Ken Saro-Wiwa, British imperialists = Multinational oil conglomerate. Sherlock Holmes = Impotent western world.

@ unNaked: My guy thanks o. I am working on something bigger but I will let you guys know first.

NikkiSab said...

My guy u r too much!! wat can i say but nigeria meets UK!! Sherlock holms jam broda mi Jaja to produce a good write up!! lol. thanks for stopping by!!

bighead said...

U are most definitely sherlock-certified!!!

Manda said...

firstly, it's Ijaws not ijos. lemme finish

Manda said...

mmmh, i just read ur breakdown 4 catwalq n i think i understand dis beta but u took this to another level o! Weldome my brova.

princesa said...

Intelligent!!

Jaja said...

This is truly great Atutu..
I dont know if its because it was about me, the very King Jaja Of OPobo was why i read it over and over...

I shall be back..
That Cleanliness you write with.. ( i shrug my shoulders)

Naapali said...

Wow. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle reborn as a statesman. I am daily impressed by the cadre of writers on this blogsville. I rue spending all the money I have on Amazon and Borders and all the other booksellers when all I should have done was log in and be blown away.

I very much like the switch from listening to the King to discussing the recital. I fear that I also am guilty of this. The world news comes on during dinner preparations and one somehow balances the news of carnage and disaster with wondering if the stew needs more salt. To get truly engaged in the nature of others suffering is to start walking down an arduous path that is very very frightening.

Thank you, and thx for stopping by mine. Your flattery is much appreciated.

kulutempa said...

amebo, you too like gist! nothing happened with that post in particular - it's just that everyone knows my name, i'm trying to get published in more places, i live in america aka over-sensitive land, bla bla bla...have to be more careful, in other words.

catwalq said...

Thank u jare.
Ehen, with a man like u, what am I still looking around for?
as u just explain the gist, na im I go read the post proper....
Oh boy, u too much. When the time is right, I will make u correct banga and starch in honour of this post. u don earn am.
Can u imagine, I still did not sleep until about twelve hours later....I could have married that fat alhaji years ago but no, am here doing independent woman, chasing degree in architecture for that matter? U don see craze person before.
U don see pics of my room. Dem dey my third blog...

Emz said...

This is brilliant! But like everyone else, I'm slightly confused. Did you write this? I love it- very feasible, and very creative. What gave you the idea for the concept of bringing Jaja of Opobo and Sherlock Holmes together...I smell a play coming on!

Kafo said...

I LOVE IT

First of all I'm trying to understand what Jaja got out of all this, then the irony of the whole meeting hits mii. The only person he can get to listen to his plight is crazy drug addicted Holmes who offers a few meaningless words and then goes to catch the third act of some show.


hmmmm

so now i'm thinking
y care?
these ppl. don't care
y write?
these ppl. don't read
y act
these ppl. you try and plead your case to are empty and drunk on pleasure and excitment



this could be a play

loomnie said...

Atutu, I am a co-author of http://belleafrique.blogspot.com/ and, if you don't mind, I would like to include this entry in the next edition of the blog carnival. If you dont mind that you could visit my profile and send me an email....

Thanks.

Teediva said...

u shlda said 'Elementary, my dear Bloggers" at least one on this comment page...lol. i remember my sherlock-holmes days when i read the Hound of the Baskervilles n couldnt sleep...but i kept reading it. do u also like Agatha Christie's Poirot? cos i love him.

btw, lovely blog.

Jaja said...

Theres so much ingenuity to this stuff... just read it again.

Afolabi said...

wow, atutupoyoyo..this is very ingenuous..who knew the fictional world of Sherlock Holmes could meet with the regal world of King Jaja of Opobo. Visit my blog for my peom about Zeus meeting and having a gud time with Abiku...lol. Check it up in my old posts, leave your comments!!!!!

Teediva said...

and it was just so easy for holmes to brush it all off like so much dust.

vindication through innocence said...

lol!!you have wayyyy tooo much time on your hands!!but i love it!!-your creative juices are really flowing-unlike some!!-
and out of sheer curiousity, what is your name about-pray tell!

catwalq said...

I had to come report Jaja here o Atutu...he is messing with me.
He yapped me on his blog...

geisha said...

i like the way u used fact and made it into fiction..
took me days to go beyond the british-gentleman-conversation bit.
eventually though, the point seems to be glorification of the legend,
so glory be.. i guess

30+ said...

Sherlock and Jaja, what a combo, you reminded me of my history lessons.

NIGERIA POLITRICKS said...

Way 2 go, bro! You have delivered a masterpiece! Great post as always!

Jaja said...

We have to wait 2 weeks now before you update eh??

femme said...

the concept of this alone is mind blowing. its wonderful on so many levels - the different worlds and the clash between reality and fiction, im reminded of ogun abibiman. u even had people asking if they really met? which is really dumb but considering i just asked a stupid question about kryptonite...
and your dialogue is flawless. u do dialoges so well. help me please!!
this should be expanded and published.

Onome said...

who's watson? you?(lol) not bad but is dis fiction or an excerpt? (jes askin')

Nyemoni said...

LOL! as always! Atutu, you are tres funny! na wah for you o! LOL...Now Atutu, one question whereabouts exactly are you from?

Meanwhile, thanks for the gidt on my birthday and the birthday wishes...United 2: Chelsea 0 is a good gift any day! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fantastic, I thought as much, when I came across Opobo, I thought about the Ogoni people.

Liverpool is still the ish!

Dean said...

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Anonymous said...

awesome blog, do you have twitter or facebook? i will bookmark this page thanks. lina holzbauer

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