Wednesday, 3 October 2007

On......the story of Nigeria's first astronaut (well...nearly)

Pius Igede was excited. Tomorrow he was going to be the first Nigerian to land on the Moon. He had won the first prize on the Silverbird produced reality TV show, Who Wants to be an Astronaut? In conjunction with NASS (Nigerian Aeronautical Something Something), 24 contestants vied for a chance to fly to the moon. To tell the truth Pius did not even know what an astronaut was before the show began, he had applied only because the application fee was 'just' fifty Naira. His third cousin from his mother's side had reached the final 12 of African Idol and he was determined that he too must appear on TV before he died.

His packing consisted of:

1 tube of toothpaste (Close-up)
1 Goodmans personal cd player
3 CDs (Olu Maintain, Tony Tetuila and 2Pac's All Eyez on Me)
5 Clean St Michael's underpants
5 Slightly worn string vests
1 Bible (King James Version)


Anti-gravity training in Kaduna had been a bit of a nightmare. First of all the special guests from NASA had missed their connecting flight from Abuja and had to travel by road. Secondly the simulation software that had been couriered had somehow ended up in Sokoto. To make matters worse the live screening of the event had to be postponed because Area boys had stolen one of the electric transformers. In spite of this, Pius managed to impress the judges enough to get to the final round.

On receiving the good news via SMS text, his first reaction was to send money to his village and ask the elders to pray for him on his voyage. In addition to the star prize of flying to the moon, Pius had been presented with a cheque for five hundred thousand naira which he planned to use to build a house in his village. Pius’ mobile phone had been inundated with phone calls in the days leading up to the big take-off. He had to explain many times that on this particular trip , there were no way he could buy them soccer jerseys , Ipod Nanos or Nintendo DS. They did not believe him and accused him of being a poser “now that you been don see small money” After a while he switched off his mobile altogether.

The day arrived with much fanfare despite the fact that take-off had been delayed from 9am until 1pm as the various senators and ministers made their way to the space centre. This was a momentous occasion in Nigeria’s history and the event was quite fitting. ThisDay had sponsored a music concert in Pius’ honour and had invited the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kelly Rowland. Unfortunately Miss Rowland had declined to attend unless something was done about the humid conditions.

The space shuttle was an STS-116 that had been specially imported from North Korea albeit after their aborted space mission. Silverbird were at great pains to explain that this was not a Tokunbo space shuttle because technically it had never really left the earth’s atmosphere - it had merely crash landed about 70000 feet from the ground before actually entering space. After some remedial work by Aba’s finest, Silverbird were confident that the STS-116 was in even better shape than when it was new.

On the day, Pius was beginning to have serious doubts and felt that the training he had received was slightly less than adequate. His brother, Absalom, confided to him that the money he had sent for goodwill prayers had been used instead to perform funeral rites. By the time he walked up the red carpet and spotted a mechanic making some last minute adjustments to the rear wing, his doubts had become a major conviction. He knew that there was no way in hell that he would be entering that thing. Imagine! Somebody who had never even entered ordinary plane sef, they wanted him to go and die for who? Tufiakwa! God forbid! His mother was still alive in the village and he had not yet bore her any grandchildren. The unwavering gaze of the promoters pierced his skin as if to say "ol boy make u no fuck up for here o!" How could he possibly turn back now he wondered? He remembered a film he had watched where the actor had pretended to faint before going on a plane he was reluctant to board. But who would really believe that an ajepaki like him could actually faint? He had once worked as a labourer carrying cement on his back for 12 hours a day. He had not fainted then. Na now him want faint? They go just use slap wake am up. He decided he just had to come clean. An impassioned plea to the gathered crowd would surely carry some resonance. After all could they byforce him to enter the space plane?

About a hundred yards from the shuttle the decision was made for him. Providence, it seemed, was a mechanic named Eric. Eric emerged from the rear of the shuttle with a look of unmitigated gloom on his face. He shook his head in that foreboding way Nigerian mechanics have mastered and announced that the carburettor had blown and that the kick-starter was not responding. He said that the spark plugs had been stolen but were easily replaced, unfortunately the carburettor needed to be ordered from Onitsha. It was agreed that the take-off would be postponed for two days after which they would all reconvene at the same venue. Beyonce complained that she had an awards ceremony to attend the next day in New York and would not be able to perform in two days time. The concert went ahead anyway and nobody really noticed as Pius slipped through the back door. It was the last that anybody was to see of him. Some say he had died in an accident on the way to his village whilst others report that he was now living in Togo under an assumed identity. His house in the village was never built.

51 comments:

onydchic said...

Well, that was.... HILARIOUS. Really dont know what inspired that story, but the creepy part is, that is the kind of thing that can happen in nigeria!!!

Eji said...

Oh my goodness, i laughed so hard i almost peed my pants. I honestly would have thought it was a part of a novel if onydchic hadn't told me it was true - GOD BLESS NIGERIA. lol.

Eji said...

ok, ok i know it was just a story but i'll tell ppl that its true just to see their reaction (i bet it would be met with a 'no surprise' look)

Orientatednaijababe said...

Good and very funny way to combine current 9ja happenings...the story actually came alive for me, i have seen some of these things actually happen.

You should be a writer

ozaveshe said...

funny

really funny

Atutupoyoyo said...

@ onydchic: I was reminded of a story I read during Baba Sege's tenure when we launched a satellite into space. The next logical step is to send a man as well. As you said only God knows what will happen on that day. I just can't help thinking if space exploration should really be a priority in that country.

@ Eji: God Bless Nigeria o. Sometimes it is too paionful to cry for her so we can only laugh with her. Haha yes I would like to hear what sort of reaction people would have if you told them about this.

@ Orientatednaijababe: Thanks for reading. You can just almost see the mechanic's face as he is explaining live on TV that "Ah oga e be like say carburretor don scatter"

@ Double O: My guy longest time. How far now?

UndaCovaSista said...

I'm speechless! I have no speech...

Ekoakete said...

LOL! I was actually upset before reading this seeing Liverpool are the only British team to lose a CL match in the last couple of days (Rafa and his blasted rotations) but your post cheered me up.

Misplaced priorities. That was my sentiment exactly when I heard Naija was launching a sattelite some months back. We can barely commute from Lagos to Abba safely by road and we want to start sending things to space. Make the sattelite no go jam another person own sha...

Zephi said...

lmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaoooo...
I can lol @ so many things you said but I think

LLllllllllllllllmmmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaoooo

will suffice

catwalq said...

LMAO
Oh my God, Pius' brother's name is Absalom?
Initially, I thought this was a feature piece...so silly so silly, so silly.
U r one crazy dude men
But I love it.
So where is the caburetor ehn, Atutu? I hope u have not sold it...

bighead said...

lol @ ...But who would really believe that an ajepaki like him could actually faint? He had once worked as a labourer carrying cement on his back for 12 hours a day. He had not fainted then. Na now him want faint? They go just use slap wake am up...

Teediva said...

very funny post..but quite real too. love the way u incorporate real events into the whole thing like the music festival and kelly's refusal to show lol. kinda sounds like 'The Old Man and the Medal', u should read that.

j said...

Nice, really nice. I laughed.
It seemed to peter out a bit towards the end, though. Tired?

Atutupoyoyo said...

@ UndaCova: Please have speech now. You know how much I like that ya segzy voice. Abi you left it in Marrakech?

@ Eko: The funny thing is that of all the British teams you would have said that Liverpool were the ones that were nailed on to win. I hope this made u smile small sha. Your boys will still qualify alongside Marseille I reckon.

@ Zephi: Thanks for reading babe.

@ Catwalq: My love how u dey? Yes o! Absalom. Only in Naija. The carburetor is already on ebay. ID is 1444768765

@ Bighead: For real. U don hear of ajepaki wey don faint before?

@ Teediva: Thanks girl. That will be added to the ever burgeoning reading list which I hope to finish sometime this lifetime.

@ J: I know! I know! I am just a lazy bum really. I had about ten different ways to finish it but my old enemy laziness got the better of me.

femme said...

very very funny. you are the most original writer here.
well done again

pamelastitch said...

LOL!!!!!

Na who dash am astronaut position... ?
:P

LOL

UndaCovaSista said...

Ok. I have recovered my speech. You know you should develop this into a script for the first ever Nollywood sci-fi adventure. I can just visualise the top of the range props and special effects

Catwalq said...

haba Atutu, already on Ebay?
na wah o
Thanks for the birthday wishes...Muah.

have u seen Unnaked calling u names on my blog ( am looking for trouble here o)?

Naapali said...

Well written. Satire becomes you bro!

classybabe said...

Lol.Nice one!I don't blame the guy now,who wan die.Although this is a fiction,i wouldn't bat an eyelid if they told me something like this happened in Naija.

Have you guessed the footballers on my page?

Kafo said...

caburretor
seriously

two thumbs wayyyyyy up.

it reads like a modern day folklore.

it is plausible tho' and maybe that is what makes it stellar

real enough to reality peppered with just the right amount of Naijaness to make us all laugh

N.I.M.M.O said...

We Naija people sef!

On one hand we agree its fiction and then almost immediately wont bat an eyelid if it happens in Nigeria. Haba!

LOL at 'dem go just use slap wake am up'.

I will also vote for turning this into Nollywood's first Sci-Fi movie. Atutu, abi how for do?

Nimmo

Onome said...

na wa ooo..na so naija wan take disgrace herself? i pray not o...i sha feel for d pius..all dat money gone! na wa o

stuck in my throat o said...

it is sad because this is really something that can happen in this country...

sad, sad, sad...but the humour is off the hook...

shosho said...

Cant find a message button anywhere or your email addy. Glad to meet someone else from a dysfunctional family. Welcome to the club :-)

Aijay said...

Poor Pius. Lol.
This is brilliant!!
Well done Atutu.

Afolabi said...

smiles over my face... dis guy..this is very interesting..ur head must be filled with ideas..ATU..TU..PO..YO.YO!!!!

fantasy queen said...

there i was believing the story and vowing to google a niaja space shuttle ASAP..hilarious..well written in a proudly nigerian way by a man who knows his country to the tilt

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

hilarity - captures the nigerian experience properly.

Atutu, na you biko!!!!!!

Emz said...

This is a work of bloody genius! It's so funny, and so apt in the way it captures stuff (the tokunbo plane being tinkered with in Aba, and a mechanic making last minute adjustments). What's fascinating is that, at the end, when Pius sneaks away, it has the potential to make the end a downer, but somehow, it doesn't! Well done!

princesa said...

LMAO!
I know where Pius is!!
I saw him in Cotonou!!!
lol!

Very creative Atutu.

Jaycee said...

Hmmm...the spacecraft was touched up by Aba's finest...first sign that it was doomed for destruction...lolll...were they trained to do that???

"He shook his head in that foreboding way Nigerian mechanics have mastered and announced that the carburettor had blown and that the kick-starter was not responding"

I know EXACTLY the way the dude shook his head (in fact I am mentally playing the picture over in my head), the way he bent his mouth and scrunched up his eyebrows...naija mechanic style...LOLLL...

This was a funny story...loll..eyahhh...the guy vanished!

bumight said...

I like!!!

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

kisses, kisses, kisses....

whatcha doing?....

curvyice said...

lol...
this is my first time on your blog, but it made sence n mii likey.......
i hail 9ja sha, no matter what happens, its my country and i love it.......lol

Isi said...

update! update!!

Bitchy said...

Lol at the aje paki line.

Did you email Lola by the way? She left her email address for you on my blog Xxxx

Mpana said...

I laughed so hard when I read 'they can't byforce him..' What a perfect expression! I'm not Nigerian but I can imagine so many ppl in my country saying that. This story was hilarious, you should allow Nollywood to make it a film!

cally-waffybabe said...

ROTFLMAO!!! LOL!!! Dude, where have you been all along? You crack me up big time. I was almost beginning to believe it until i saw the Beyonce and Kelly Rowland bit. Nice write up dude. I like, i like...*still laughing*

cally-waffybabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Obinwanne said...

this is so so funny, and nice concept as well....this is interesting.....LOL

UndaCovaSista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jaja said...

This is very funny!

'byforce him'- thats like so totally cool.

You r are a very creative person Atus.

Waffarian said...

Ahhhhh, the story of Pius? na from my village e for come from na! dat boy wey disgrace us finish! no be for our village dem come go construct sculpture with im head for top? say na tourist attraction! hissssss, if I catch dat boy! e go hear weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!

joicee said...
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cinnamonqueen said...

This is hilarious! :)

zerkhezi said...

Pius and Absalom, i'd have disowned my parents. funny story

UnNaked Soul said...

LMAO!!!... I can see you are eating from the same calabash as Catwalq... well done...

Anonymous said...

am viewing this blog for the first time and this particular story is the funniest ever........my irish flatmate was wondering wat the laughter was all about and i just couldnt explain.........just didnt think wud he really understand.......na only najia like 'we' go understand....i wouldnt find it a bit ....and i mean a bit weird if suh a thing happens....good job atutu......keep it up....am reading u from now on......

Rayo said...

LMAO!!

Naapali said...

This is still the funniest blog story I have read. I have laughed and snorted all over my laptop. So I have to go grab my stethoscope and do some work.