What Happened to the Sardines

Speaking personally, I don't like sardines. They make me nauseous so unless you drench them in butter or suffocate them with pepper, chances are you won't catch me eating them. But I'm in a minority, a lot of people like sardines. Humans are weird like that. So I haven't been keeping up with the price of canned sardines or the number of sardines in a tin; until the last Presidential elections in Nigeria, when supporters of one candidate blamed the other guy for a reduction in the quantity of sardines in the tin. Being a certified amebo with an odd sense of what's interesting, I set out to investigate. It took a while but I finally did it. I reached out to my underwater contacts and you will not believe what I found.

Like jumia.com's express delivery option, this was not a one day or even a fast affair. It had built up over time, so sluggishly that no one, not even the Underground Prefects or the goddess herself noticed, not that she would, the goddess of the sea is not famous for calmly studying things. Anyway so after I spoke to a friend and she introduced me to another friend. This friend of a friend was my guide as she had fins and could breathe under water, do not call her a mami wata please, I want to be able to move around Lagos with peace of mind. After copious quantities of prime palm wine and correct asun peppered to perfection, my 'guide' finally agreed to dish the full story.

Imagine my surprise when instead of telling me what happened, I got what I'm told hasn't happened in 200 years when Edosa fled the land under the sea. You guessed right, I got a first class ticket to visit that land. It was not at all what I was expecting but then again my expectations were built on the fall down and die pastors who talk about everything marine like they're the source of all the evil in the world (okay not all, I've actually heard another pastor say it's the moon spirits). I'm not sufficiently talented to describe it but I know someone who is and I'm currently tracking down that great adventurer Edosa, maybe one day he'll tell his story.

But back to my story and the quest to discover why the sardines have decrease in quantity. As it happened, I didn't get much of a chance to look around because we headed straight for what is probably best described as a court. It's unlike any court I'v ever seen in television or in reality, for one thing, the judge's seat was below the rest of the court, observers' area was in what would have been a witness cage in any other court and most shocking of all, there was a flat surface across which the plaintiffs and the defendants would make their case. Later, I would find out that the surface was there to allow the interested parties fight it out if necessary.

A special enclave overlooking the entire court was dim when we entered but lit up before the proceedings could begin. When it lit, the entire room went silent for a minute, the kind of silence we used to describe in secondary school as "angel dey pass". Like the good amebo I am, I asked and I was told that that enclave is mandatory in every court but is rarely ever used. It was for the goddess and it seemed that Olokun Herself was interested in the happenings of that day.

Then the case began. The sardines came out in their large numbers. Side note, I do not know if sardines are the name by which they prefer to be called, but as it is the name I and most other humans use in referring to them, they're stuck with it. Their argument? The area where they lived meant humans had been consistently depleting their population. I wanted to say, no it's because of how you taste but like I said earlier, I don't really like sardines and the fish outnumbered me.

No one is really sure how it happened, I was there and I cannot still tell you what happened exactly. It was probably a combination of things, the drunken young fishes who came to the court to show off their new toys, the fine looking humans with fins (don't call them mami wata) who's body display distracted everyone including the one being selling his wares by side. The man was so distracted, he lost control of his barrow and the resultant mess was gross enough, it inspired an involuntary regurgitation competition. And let me tell you something, fish puke is not a pretty thing. The mess wasn't contained in the witness area. Oh no, it spilled over to where Olukun watched and in case you've forgotten Olokun generally has more tempestuous days than calm days.

So the goddess got upset and in typical -for her anyway- fashion, she displayed her anger. The wall of water that swept over the room was enough to have me crying for my mother but then again, I breathe through my nose. For the most of the creatures in the room, it was merely irritating, not life-threatening so to show how thoroughly annoyed she was, Olokun destroyed the court room and an entire three block radius. I suppose you could say the case was thrown out of court, although the court was thrown out of the case sounds more accurate.

And what happened to the sardines, you ask? I'm getting there. They somehow managed to escape injury from Olokun's display of annoyance but they realized that the court could not (or would not) address their issues. So they did what any Nigerian could have told them to do since, they decided to resolve the issue for themselves. They agreed to stay away from the area whey they keep getting scooped up and adopt a ritual to keep them all safe. But because sardines, like humans and penguins are not entirely loyal and like my grandmother says, long throat dey kill, they still get caught although the number has reduced a little.

So you see, it is not recession or politics that reduced the number of sardines in the can, it is the sardines themselves. If you have a problem with this rather rambling explanation, blame Ifeoma she made me write this and @EnekeTheBird whose underwater contacts I borrowed. Like a good Nigerian, I am happy to say I am not one of them.

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