The Staunch Slouch

1 June 2016

An afternoon indoors but for sunbeams flecking
the audience of relatives, it could be any evening
any century before ‘Nigeria’ was coined to group
the villages, the hundreds of thousands of families
gathered where the wind is low, the rumbling forest
paused for the passing Griot/Storyteller/PopStar
of the time. My uncle tells a joke in this tradition
risen before the hushed cluster of us. An American
Businessman, he says, thumbs tucked in his belt,
stomach puffed out and you can picture so perfect
the TexasOil/GunToting/WarOnTerror/NewMoney
Rich who counts out 5,000 in cash and throws it
in the coffin of a deceased colleague – a Ghanaian
uncle adds, us, laughing. The English Businessman,
not to be outdone, uncle says, stiffening his top lip,
his nose pinched and you can picture so perfect
the Old Etonian/ForQueenAndCountry/OldMoney
Rich who counts out 5,000 in cash and throws it
in the coffin of the recently deceased. Both regard
the Nigerian, uncle says, relaxing now to his Casual
Slouch/AfroBeat/HalfDancing/RoughMoneyRich.
The Nigerian shakes his head at the new world order,
shrugs at the old, writes a cheque for 15, throws it
in the coffin, gathers the cash and leaves to applause,
rolling laughter, the CrazyTrickster/MoneySwindler/
FastTalking/SlipperyPalmed/Stereotype/Everything.

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