Over the weekend, Naija had two royal events. There was the coronation of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III and the wedding of an Emir’s daughter to the son of President Buhari. I followed the former event on YouTube and was transfixed not only by the glitz and glamour on display but by the Olu’s wise, eloquent, hopeful words. Of the latter event, I am only now seeing pictures. The bride and groom look like they slipped out of the cover of a glossy magazine. What a gorgeous looking couple! Both occasions were remarkable, history-making events. At 37, the new Olu of Warri is one of the youngest to be ever crowned King. And the first whose mother was present to witness his coronation. Of the wedding between Yusuf Buhari and Princess Zahra, Usman Naniya, a historian who spoke to the BBC said, “A wedding between presidential and royal families was unprecedented in Nigeria.” The bride is the daughter of the Emir of Bichi, Nasir Ado-Bayero, niece of the Emir of Kano, granddaughter of an emir and can trace her genealogy to Uthman Dan Fodio. I’ll write about the coronation of the progressive Olu of Warri another time. It was a thing of beauty. Today, however, is for the wedding of the First Son and the Princess. No be small thing oo.
All weddings start with meetings. Zahra and Yusuf met abroad (of course). Per reports, they met at the University of Surrey (which, despite a 2018 strike, doesn’t have a history of going on strikes or of their professors enduring months of not being paid like their Naija counterparts). Under President Buhari’s watch, ASUU has had over 500 days of strikes so far. See this life, eh? While some of our children bear the brunt of a truncated academic calendar due to protracted industrial action, those whose parents can afford it, get (almost uninterrupted) quality education outside of the country.
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Anyway, while Nigerians on different sides of the political divide were busy engaging in their favourite sport: abusing each other on social media, the most unified group in Naija turned up to celebrate with the new couple (and their families). Our political (and therefore wealthy elite) left their foot soldiers to continue enraging each other on social media and went to jollify with one of their own in Kano. See security! Kano police started way in advance to prepare. That Naija has security challenges no reach that side oo. Anyone who tried any rubbish would have been wasted. See private jets. While some of our local papers claimed that there were over 100 private jets , the BBC reported fewer than 50. Not that there is, IMHO, that much of a difference between 50 private jets and 100. I don’t blame these men and women of calibre for flying in like HushPuppi jor. Our roads are death traps and flying commercial is for the masses. Just like the fighting over which political party is better than the other when both are screwing you up is for the poor (and ignorant) masses. And the fighting over whether you’re for Atiku Abubakar or you’re for Buhari or GEJ. Mugus dey fight, political elite dey chop. Literally as well as figuratively. And both Atiku and GEJ were at the wedding, by the way, smiling (smizing?) for cameras behind their masks.
Who wasn’t there? FFK packed up his criticism of Buhari and found his way to Kano for the wedding. He posted on Twitter about being there and wrote that the “crowd was earth-shaking.” This was a crowd where the only affiliation that mattered was whether or not you were timber and calibre enough to warrant an invite. You see that Naija you see on Twitter? The one where folks are fighting across ethnic and political divides? That one is poor man’s Naija, I tell you. Our elite understand that what unites them is deeper and stronger than what divides them. And that whatever it is that divides them doesn’t necessarily pitch them on the side of the poor masses who are mostly on their own, finding ways to survive. Did you see the video of the bus driver allegedly ferrying the groom’s friends to the wedding and who had half a million Naira – including a $100 donated by some young man from the South West- raised for him on the bus? In this our Naija where folks are on Twitter begging for money for food. No one on that bus was spewing ethnic or political or religious hate. I can assure you that whatever differing beliefs or opinions they had, they sat on them because the glue of elitism is very, very strong. Stronger than blood. Stronger than the iPads and iPhone 12s that were apparently distributed to guests as souvenirs. Not that anyone who was a guest would have been unable to afford an iPad or an iPhone. What is more likely is that they already have these gadgets and these would be extras on top of what is already owned. But shebi it is said that to those who have, more would be added onto them?
Anyway, on that bus, as at the wedding was the picture of one Naija. The Nigeria of our national anthem “One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.” So tomorrow, when our politicians are accusing each other of poor leadership etc etc etc , frothing at the mouth to convince you that they are not as bad as each other, do not fall out with your brother or sister because of who you support. Go back to the photos of this royal wedding and remind yourself that if there are sides, the elite are staunchly united on one side. And the rest of us are on the other. Be wise.