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Opinion: The Stolen Pot of Soup, By Reuben Abati

“I am depressed, my brother.”

“You are always depressed. I am actually used to that. I can’t remember when last you were not choleric, depressed, obsessed, uptight, down-spirited, what’s that your word again, yes, anxious. You better watch it, buddie-bae-bff-bros, stop carrying the world on your back, man. There was Atlas before you. There was Sisyphus. But the world has never stopped moving on.”

“I read this story”

“What story?”

“Pathetic story about how right now in Ilorin, Kwara state, it is risky to leave a pot of soup on fire because it is most likely to be stolen. Armed robbers are now targeting pots of soup.”

“Armed robbers? Not burglars?”

“I say armed robbers are now so hungry, even a pot of soup cannot be spared. I can give you the web link to the story.”

“Give me the gist. The theft of pots of soup is definitely a crime of serious magnitude and should be a matter of urgent national concern. Pots of soup being stolen in Nigeria?.”

“Let me read some excerpts from the story to you. “Amidst the stinging hardship occasioned by the present economic recession in the country, the spate of insecurity is rising and taking a tinge of the ridiculous by the day. In Kwara State, cooking a pot of soup is now an invitation to robbers, as cases of eagle-eyed hungry men absconding with cooked food still on the fire is a daily occurrence. The incident is widespread in areas without perimeter fencing and among women who cook or have opted to cook with coal pots. At each of such areas such as Tanke, Basin, Sango, Offa Garage, and Kilanko, the incident occurred according to The Guardian investigations, over five times in just a week…”  (http://m.guardian.ng/news/theft-of-cooked-food-on-fire-becomes-widespread-in-ilorin/)

“An epidemic of vanishing soup pots?”

“Nothing can be more dehumanizing. To think that Nigerians can be so hungry and poor, they will begin to carry guns and machetes to steal pots of soup.”

“Not cars. Not jewelry. Stomach first.”

“My first reaction was to ask whether they even have a Governor in that Kwara State. Whoever the Governor is, he cannot provide opportunities for people in the state to be able to cook a pot of soup?”

“I hear the Governor like other Governors cannot pay salaries. The Governors are helpless. ”

“But the Governors and their wives are eating from multiple pots of soup”

“Yes. Yes. Actually, if you ask me, I would say that the real crime of serious magnitude that we are talking about and that we should worry about is how the Governors and government officials have stolen the people’s pot of soup. The armed robbers who go from house to house to collect pots of soup on fire are actually copying the big men.”

“You are now asking me to decode something.”

“It is not every pot of soup for example, that gets stolen.  The location is important. The opportunity is important. The content is all-important. And if you read that story you were quoting carefully, the soup snatcher monitors the soup. He waits till all the condiments are in, and he or she steals at the right moment.  It is the story of Nigeria. Sign of the times.”

“I don’t want to go that far.  I won’t reduce Nigeria to a pot of soup. But I agree with you that only particular kinds of soup pots get stolen. Good point. Smart point. ”

“Particularly if the pot of soup contains goat meat. You know goat meat can smell when combined with Maggi and Tomato. Tomato, these days, is expensive.”

“Tomato with goat meat, perfect combination.. Hmmm. Mua. Shuhhhh. Ahhhhh uuuu. I must tell you one secret about tomato today.”


“It clears the prostate. It contains carotene, which is good for the prostate, as an anti-oxidant.”

“What has that got to do with soup snatching?”

“When you eat better tomato, and your prostate is very clear, I hear that your downstairs will function very well, and you can crack fire much better, upstairs and downstairs.  Combined with goat meat, ha, something else. And you know goat has a strong smell.”

“Are we now a country of goat-meat chasers on fire?”

“I hear that even among the robbers themselves, who takes what part of the goat meat is a  serious issue. That was how one woman eventually found her pot of soup. A big fight broke out. And as the goat thieves quarreled over the pot of soup, the owner arrived and started screaming,, neighbours joined and everybody started screaming and the truth came out. ”

“I think this country should just ban tomato and goat meat.”

“I have not finished the story. In this particular woman’s case, it was discovered that even her husband was part of the plot to steal the pot of goat meat.”


“The man wanted to play a fast one. He wanted to take the pot of soup to his second wife. Rob Peter,  please Paul.”

“What? He should be castrated.”

“But can I say something? This thing didn’t just start oh. I think poverty is correctly defined as a disease.  Last year, there was actually an incident in Calabar about a man who was butchered and set ablaze because he robbed a woman of a pot of soup.”

“Last year?”


“We should check and be sure”

“Last year, in fact, in August 2015.”


“Yes, August 2015, after everything changed. The fellow and his group attacked a woman’s home and stole her pot of soup.  As they rushed out, the woman raised an alarm, but the man with the pot of soup did not want it to spill, so he couldn’t run as fast as the others, and that was how he eventually got caught and he lost his life. He was butchered and set ablaze.”

“And there is a Governor in Cross Rivers State?”

“There is but let’s spare the Professor. If you had lived in Calabar or Cross River State, you will know that a pot of soup is a serious source of temptation in that place. I mean, in Calabar, they don’t just put goat meat, they add everything else on top, from periwinkle to snails, fish, and tomato.”

“I feel like my sense of being human is right now under grave assault.”

“Come to think of it, the destiny of Nigeria is about the pot of soup and its politics.”

“Pot of soup? Well, may be. You know, I heard a story recently, about one of these face-me-I-face-you houses in Lagos where a pot of soup just as we have been saying disappeared from the general kitchen. The woman left the kitchen to attend to her suckling baby. Five minutes max. By the time she returned, her soup pot had vanished. The landlord had to summon a babalawo, a father of secrets, a dibia, to identify the culprit and the punishment was meant to be open confession or instant death.”

“Sign of the times”

“Yes oh. But to be fair, there is hunger, poverty and a terrible food crisis across Africa, not just Nigeria. In Malawi, for example, the newly elected President has told his people to stop complaining about hunger. If the people are hungry, they should start eating mice and grasshoppers. (https://www.today.ng/news/africa/143951/malawian-president-tells-starving-citizens-eat-mice-grasshoppers)”

“May that never happen in Nigeria.”

“Well, if the people can’t eat goat meat and tomato, they will opt for sub-human options. Even kerosene is now too expensive, ordinary people are now buying gas. And charcoal.”

“And God you are on the throne”

“Please, don’t blaspheme. This is a holy season.”

” I know what I am talking about.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“In Kano, I should tell you this. One man went to buy a bag of rice. He went along with his son.  He left that five-year old son behind, and promised to come back with the money. But he never showed up. He disappeared with the bag of rice (http://nigeriancurrent.com/2016/06/27/man-exchanges-son-for-a-bag-of-rice/)”

“God. God. God Almighty. What happened?”

“When the shop owner waited and waited, he had to ask the boy for the way to his home.  Good enough, the boy is old enough. Eventually the father was traced to his home and he confessed that he was willing to give up the boy to have the bag of rice because he had no money to pay.”

“What happened?”

“There are still good people in this country. The rice-seller donated the bag of rice and returned the boy to the father.”

“God bless him. God bless him. God bless the rice seller. Great message. In this country, the strong must learn to help the weak. That is when we can have a country and a nation.”

“Food For Thought, indeed. In the end, it is all about food, feeding the people, rescuing them from a life of danger and criminality or a resort to a menu of mice and grasshoppers, or carrying expensive AK-47 guns to steal pots of soup.”

“People are dying”

“I know. Nigeria and the tragedy of broken pots.”

“Stolen pots. Broken pots. Burnt pots. Oh, Nigeria. Chief Ojo Maduekwe. I hear, slumped at the airport on his arrival from the United States from his son’s graduation, heading towards his wife’s 70th birthday.  Elechi Amadi, famous for the novels, The ConcubinesThe Great Ponds and his plays, Pepper Soup and The Women of Calabar has also dropped the pot. In Ojota, Lagos, a young hawker, pursued by LASTMA officials ran into the path of a moving trailer and was crushed, his intestines splattered all over the highway and there was pandemonium resulting in more deaths and destruction. ”

“Man, you speak in parables and proverbs. Goat meat that caused trouble, deaths, broken pots and stolen pots.”

“Those who have ears let them hear. Only God speaks to the people in parables and proverbs.”

“I have faith. Nigeria will survive.”

“Of course, I see people are beginning to padlock their pots of soup. I have seen pictures of padlocked pots of soup in this country. Even if you steal it, you’d make some effort to break it open. Smart housewives are saying they will never again leave the kitchen until the soup is done and ready to be served.”

Na wa oh, you mean we are now a country of sealed and broken pots.”



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