By Louis Odion, FNGE
There are some telltale signs of a perishing society, observed Alexander Solzhenitsyn. These, according to the Russian literary immortal and Nobel laureate, include acute scarcity of great statesmen and decline in arts.
Conversely, a profound message must be intended when voters choose to go far outside the traditional power caste to anoint the least rated as new leader. It could only be an ominous sign that the existing political class had become toxic to national health, hence the vigorous call for the dissolution of the discredited hegemony.
In expressing their own pent-up rage at the weekend, Ukrainians chose perhaps the most telling symbol: they settled for a comedian (Volodymr Zelensky) as political undertaker of incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate tycoon. So, the nation of 44 million people now seem to be saying that it is better to have a certified jester ruling over them than being daily irritated by a bad clown masquerading as a philosopher-king.
By sweeping over 70 percent of the vote, hope has, therefore, risen in the former Soviet satellite state for the fixing of a broken system; for a new generation of leaders committed to weeding out self-serving oligarchs and ending the culture of political corruption.
As one voter was quoted as saying, Zelensky, “is a guy who is out of the system, and that’s good… He made his own money, so he doesn’t owe anyone in the current system anything.”
From a global perspective, given the emphatic victory posted by a comedian in Ukraine, only time will tell if jesters and allied entertainers elsewhere will not be so inspired to start rushing into presidential elections henceforth, leveraging the power of social media like Zelensky, hedging their political fortune against just any sign of popular discontent in their respective jurisdictions.
For, more and more, people across global divides are surely getting disillusioned about the notion of politics that doubles human misery at a time of supposed material surplus, strife at a time of supposed enlightenment birthed by colossal breakthrough in science and technology.
In a way, coming in a week already marred by an inferno in the iconic Notre Dame in France; the continued farce in Donald Trump’s Washington, and the bloodbath in Sri Lanka, the news of Zelensky’s electoral upset would then appear a perfect comic relief to the international community.
In literary theory, comic relief describes a momentary disruption of the serious or the tragic with a dose of humour, to defuse tension.
In Paris, the grief of the iconic Notre Dame cathedral gutted was only being assuaged by a torrent of donations that hit record $1bn within 72 hours.
In Washington, Trump took his theatre to a new low by tweeting a false interpretation of the Mueller report. The 400-page document was barely officially released when the American President claimed acquittal, selectively quoting some sections. But it took the rejoinder of his Democrat adversaries in the congress to draw public attention to several redacted portions expressly starting that Trump toiled hard to obstruct the investigations in manner suggesting he has a lot to hide. The picture we then see is only a little different from that of the biblical character running when no one is pursuing them.
In Colombo, the very depth of degeneracy mankind has plumbed was graphically portrayed in blood-spattered debris of bombed temples and hotels following coordinated bombing by terrorists, leaving over 200 dead and more than 450 wounded.
The great irony is that this act of extreme bestiality of man to fellow man came on Easter Sunday otherwise celebrated by Christians as the day of redemption after Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at the Golgotha on Easter Friday.
So, going forward, Ukrainians would now seem resolved to seek comfort behind a comedian since votes cast for Poroshenko in the popular uprising of 2014 resulted in little or no difference in their lives.
Back home, about the same hours of the Ukrainian electoral drama, a plot with milder flavor would unfold in Calabar. We woke up Easter Sunday to read reports of a seeming biological feat unparalleled in Guiness Book of records. It is not exactly a re-enactment of resurrection after crucifixion. It is the delivery of two bundle of joy (twins) by the most unlikely: a prison inmate.
They include a boy and a girl.
What brought the publicity was a fantastic donation of N1m by Cross Rivers State Government for their upkeep and a promise to ensure that the nursing mother not only receive better care at a higher medical facility but also a review of her case to “see the extent of the crime and know if the mother can be pardoned because of these two beautiful babies.”
Not surprising, the tots have been named after Governor Ben Ayade and wife, Linda.
But while every kind-hearted person must rejoice with the unidentified lucky woman, one difficult – if not mischievous – question is unlikely to go away. The report was silent on when exactly the woman found herself in detention.
A puzzle of similar twist had cropped up a decade ago over British Samatha Orobator (with Nigerian heritage) after “miraculously” getting pregnant in Laos prison while supposedly facing trial for drug offence with death penalty. Facing global embarrassment, the authorities had to suspend her trial. It soon became clear it was a last-ditch ingenious manoevre to evade the hangman. It was not a ghost that did it; she secretly made herself available to an eager prison warden in-between court appearances. For, Lao law forbids the execution of pregnant prisoners.
Now, unless it is established that the Calabar woman was already inseminated before being incarcerated, many are bound to wonder what “technology” she adopted to get pregnant while supposedly in detention.
Otherwise, Governor Ayade could not get a better reason to be immortalized in world record as godfather of the “mystery twins”.