If only we can agree on why Suya is sold at night

July 25, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Prince Charles Dickson

Ndi Igbo talk say “Nwunye anyi, nwunye anyi”: ka ndeli bia ka anyi mara onye o bu nwunye ya. [“Our wife, our wife”: come midnight and we will know whose wife she really is.]

I heard about a patient in a mental hospital who was holding his ear close to the wall, listening intently. The attendant finally approached. “Shh!” whispered the patient, beckoning him over. The attendant pressed his ear to the wall for a long time. “I can’t hear a thing,” he said. “I know,” replied the patient, “it’s been like that all day!”

On an average Nigeria is good, her people are just like a bunch of good Bananas, only that a few are rotten, and then give the whole bunch a bad look and that particular rotten smell. Nigeria, ideally is one of the best places to live in, it is not a Police State like so-called Western Democracies…In Nigeria you can urinate anywhere and not get fined or arrested, you can get a ladder and climb the Power poles and effect a change of power phases, that is if the problem is not from the nearby power transformer which anybody can repair with dry wood…and don’t bother ’cause there is hardly electricity anyway.

In Nigeria you can set traps inside your compound and catch birds and roast them to taste and not be afraid that you are at Piccadilly Circus in the UK and some stern looking cops will harass you for animal rights violations.

I am rehearsing this admonition about my beloved nation because lately I have discovered that I have tried hard to write nice stuff about my nation but each time I do, it’s a hard ask; So, I criticize a lot and hardly give solutions…my reason, simple…there are enough solutions to Nigeria’s multi-dimensional problems, enough to fill an American Congressional Library, well prepared by committees, panels, commissions and bodies of experts. Name the field or area and I will refer you to a paper, a report that should ordinarily have solved that problem a long time ago.

There have been reports upon reports that if properly handled would have made Nigeria number one in most things, if not everything, because despite all the ills of our society we are the most happiest and religious in the world…I wonder I just wonder what would have been the case if we knew the true reasons why suya is sold at night without controversy?

Understanding Nigeria, the land of delinquents, both the ruled and the rulers, a very special breed of delinquents, we have them from all social classes, the politicians, students, youths, and parents that aid and abet exam malpractice, we have them everywhere and the common thread is a high level of irresponsibility, recklessness and total disregard for the norms of society, that is why we have governors that are going to Germany to be taught vocational skills.

This is Nigeria, the rich, poor, and everybody cries and laughs almost at the same time; the difference is the swing of the pendulum…we are all waiting for night to come and we all go a-suya-buying.

Being a Nigerian requires a tricky trait, despite the Woles, Achebes, Anyaokwus, Maitamas, Balewas, Ziks, Awos, Sardaunas, and many too numerous to call, there is a distinction to being a Nigerian and wanting to be a Nigerian. The Nigerian big man makes a law, those wanting to be Nigerian or already big men proceeds immediately to look for a way to break the law, he explores loopholes and escape clauses, like the Immunity clause used for stealing. Ordinary Citizens would do it their own way, they will jump queues on no excuse, they will do a u-turn on an expressway, stop in the middle of the road to say hello to a long lost friend without parking…correct them, and they will abuse your dog.

The Nigerian will close two, three streets to celebrate the great grand father he never knew or the father that cursed him before he died. Who wants to be a Nigerian, it takes a lot, you have to be noisy, music is not danceable if it is not loud, big is sweet and good, so the Japanese supply us with boom boxes as big as my village masquerade just for a radio cassette player, a Nigerian buys a 10,20,30 loader CD and he lives in a one room in Ajegunle…It’s all about the suya.

How can one understand the Nigerian and want to be one, when in power he loves affluence and will do anything to stay put. In religious matters, he will fake it; in business, his cheques will bounce. In the civil service forget the noise of change, your files will go missing and only reappear at the right price. The Nigerian will court abomination by treating his elders by way of pensioners with the highest of disdain. A Nigerian will ban the importation of lace fabrics, yet his wives, concubines and mistresses will die the day they cannot wear one. We all want suya at night, by all means, by any means.

In Nigeria you need to understand how a complainant can suddenly become suspect and in the end a witness and yet still land in Jail for a crime that was committed against him.

The pain of this essay is that despite all the exhaustive bad traits that we battle everyday, Nigerians abound in their millions that want to be Nigerians for the right reasons. Those Nigerians are not easily understood because they will not give bribes, all their actions are in line with tradition, society’s good norms and rationality. They largely are old now and most times reside in rural areas, although a few still stay in urban areas. They are generally good and untribalized, they believe in the principles of live and let live. These Nigerians are neither the bottom power women nor the moneybag men. They strive daily to remain patriotic and committed to the Nigerian dream despite the reality, they are disciplined and are hardworking, they battle the stark reality that as patient dogs they may never have any bone left.

These set of Nigerians suffer the Nigerian experiment because of the larger majority’s inability to curb greed, inability for us to be fair and rational towards other people’s perspectives, opinions, positions and interest, the present power shift nonsense and the derivation struggle. The continuous inability to make sacrifices for the common good, an unwillingness to respect our institutions…the abuse of our health and educational institutions in the name of government property and so its nobody’s own.

We pray to a Christian God at the beginning of a function, and close the same with a prayer to a Muslim Allah and then in the same function discuss how to steal because really it’s nobody’s business how anything is run.

We are plagued by our lack of simple ethics. We are willing to offer a bribe even when not asked, because more often than not we are guilty until presumed innocent. So we blame our ineptitude on every other person but us.

Until we sincerely agree that this is the appropriate time for suya to be sold, like the patient in the mental home, Nigeria “would be like this all day!” We would continue going round in circles; with personal interests bothering on, why is suya sold at night, and the correct acceptable answer–Only time will tell.










Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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