DISCLAIMER: Recently un-employed Mannequins write the Holy men of Kano – Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

When they came for the bottles of alcohol, we said nothing, because quaffing alcohol is not a luxury we indulge in.

Then they came for barbers accused of giving unholy haircuts we looked the other way because our hair is cast, like the rest of our body and cannot be cut or styled.

Now that they have come for us, there is nobody left to speak for us

Our crime is on two counts.

In the main, they said we were becoming too seductive for comfort for the sanctimoniously Holy men of Kano. To quote them verbatim, we are “responsible for immoral thoughts among some members of the public” and by members of the public, we suspect they mean ‘men’.

So, in other words, these guardians of the faith in Kano came to a sudden realisation that the HOLY men in Kano are so not in control of their sexual desires that they get aroused at the sight of mannequins.

Plastic mannequins!

We would have, ordinarily, been flattered by this assertion, I mean, think of it, that as lifeless as we are, plastic and rigid, unable to overcome our own inertia, we are considered so sexy as to arouse. But that would be turning logic on its head; hence we make bold our disclaimer.

Anyone who finds us sexual enough as to get aroused from sighting us standing in shops, boutiques or supermarkets to be used for the display of clothes is already a cesspool of immorality. You are no holy man, sir.

That a lifeless effigy has the capacity of filling your mind with immoral thoughts suggests that you really have no control over your mind in the first instance and that, in itself, is a psychiatric problem.

How anyone thinks that by banning our use, they will somehow move the needle on the cases of rape, sodomy, and the abuse of underage girls in the name of marriage (which in our view are the urgent issues), beats us.

To use religion as justification for massaging the sexually depraved egos of people who ought to be seeking counselling and psychiatric help is to do a huge disservice to both the religion and the people the said ban seeks to protect.

Our siblings in other climes, where the religion these guardians of the faith claim to be protecting took root, continue to serve their purpose in the advancement of commerce with attendant benefits for buyers, sellers and the government. They are there standing tall in boutiques and supermarkets all over the Arab world displaying designs which is what we are created to do.

But these fellows back home with an uncanny penchant for below ground level zero reasoning, on the other hand, seem quite in a hurry to transition the great city of Kano from a modern commercial and cosmopolitan city to a soulless, drab, atavistic and Talibanisque territory with progress in the reverse gear.

This worries us.

The second charge against us is about promoting idolatry in the state. We suspect that this was thrown in to fill up the space. More like, if this one doesn’t stick, this other one will. To be sincere, if the first charge, made us chuckle, this one left us rather confused. Idolatry? How? Just so we were sure we were not getting things mixed up, we sought the help of an English dictionary. The meaning confirmed our befuddlement. Worship of Idols? Pray tell, since when did the people of Kano begin to worship mannequins?

Look, we know we look good and all with those nice wears displayed on us and that some of you admire and even take selfies with us for the gram, but we didn’t realise that the admiration had graduated to worship in Kano. How come no one has been pouring libations and sprinkling the blood of fattened animals at our feet? Is that not how we worship idols in these parts or is our own case different?

Enough with the joking!

Seriously now, if we were to agree without conceding that there are actually people in Kano who worship us even without us preaching or canvasing for such, does that not say something about the people and should the guardians of faith not be channelling the fat allocations they get from government into some more productive effort rather than threatening innocent mannequins and their owners?

We’ve come to the conclusion that these guardians of the faith must have a weird sense of humour. The problem, however,  is that this dark joke of theirs has made them a laughing stock, reduced the people of Kano to the butt of jokes on social media and more concerning for us, rendered so many of us unemployed as though the human unemployment situation was not alarming enough already. 

So, even though we’ve been found guilty and sentenced without any opportunity to give our side of the story, we (for whatever it is worth) make bold to state that on both counts, we plead not guilty.

 And as these guardians of faith move on, seeking for the next thing to ban or getting set to confiscate and incinerate us, we wish to remind them of the title of Ahmadou Kourouma’s celebrated novel; Allah Is Not Obliged.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo is the author of Believers And Hustlers expected from Parresia Publishers in 2021

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