By Anote Ajeluorou
Satirical writing though a serious form of writing is sugarcoated in hilarity and meant to provoke laughter at the expense of those it is directed. And so how do its targets take it? How do Nigerians at the butt of satirical writing receive it? How much satirical offering is on offer in Nigeria and what impact does it make?
However, satire is a difficult writing device to execute except in the hands of those who are comically inclined and facetious or wags. This informs the issues in a new book Loud Whispers by a columnist with ThisDay newspaper, Mr. Joseph Edgar. He recently presented the book at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos amid banters at the expense of the author who, it emerged, has also perfected the art of making others the butt of his jabs.
But the author lamented the inability of most people to take or understand the import of satire when it is directed at them. According to him, “At the highest level, some people cannot see through political satire. In some of the cases, the message is missed because of the angle it is coming from”.
A case in point was when he literally ‘chased’ Osun State governor Rauf Aregbesola on Molaji Johnson Avenue in Ikeja and made efforts to catch his attention without luck. He wrote a piece about saying he wanted to ask him for lunch and possibly buy fuel in some of the cars in his long convoy especially since he couldn’t find money to pay salaries in his state. In order to soften the blunt edge of the satire, his made a caveat to the effect that Aregbesola was his mentor and someone he looked up to. Interestingly, Edgar said he got a call from the governor’s aid to find out if Edgar truly meant it when he said his principal was his mentor!
In another instance, Edgar said having ‘yabed’ one big politician he got a call requesting him to also ‘yab’ Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu (the Jagaban) thoroughly for him in his next column. As he put it, “The book has gone places; it has done a lot of things I didn’t imagine”.
In fact in his typically flippant manner, Edgar confessed to poverty for inspiration for Loud Whisper. Although he works in the financial services’ sector, he got a huge school fee bill in the six digit and didn’t know to cope being someone who is averse to doing deals and anything that suggests illegality. He then quickly thought of putting his writing together and called his friend and boss of Terra Kulture Mrs. Bolanle ASustin-Peters who encouraged. The result is Loud Whispers.
The book got commendations from many industry persons in attendance who variously described the book and the author in superlatives – ‘Loud Whispers is a hilarious writing, but he makes sense; he’s just very bold and it’s good,’ ‘His column in ThisDay sets us on a path of political satire,’ ‘The book is a lovely compendium; Joseph has ease with words. He knows how to whine everybody,’ ‘He has ways with words,’ ‘His column helps take away the harsh aspect of Lagos,’ ‘The book is a page-turner.’
The author’s wife, Foluke, also testified to the book’s hilarious aspect, when she said, “The book makes you happy even if you’re down”.
Reviewer of Loud Whispers, Mr. Ladipo Soetan, said of the book, “Yes, Mr Edgar’s roving eye, his wit and turn of phrase allow us to laugh at ourselves, to shake our head and drink down a bittersweet broth of shame and pride. Mr. Edgar’s book explains why once it was said that despite all our tribulations Nigerians are the world’s happiest people. For without humor, the Nigerian condition would be insupportable. However, the subtitle of the book tells me that I am not saying anything new. Nothing that Mr. Edgar himself did not consider when putting pen to paper, as the sub-title of the book is ‘a collection of humorous satires celebrating the Nigerian Spirit.’”
An interesting aspect to the book is already unfolding, as work has begun on turning it into a stage play. Notable theatre director, Mr. Kenneth Uphopho, is hard at work and said the play should ready Match next year, with comic star Ali Baba, who wrote the foreword also playing a major role in the planned play.