By Stephen Obidike
I was there because my little boy said he wanted to watch the movie. He had heard part of the story from his friend in school. He said he preferred to watch it on the big screen. We came to the cinema twenty minutes before the screen time. We had gone up to the counter for the ticket. The young boy over the counter reminded us that we might need some snacks and drink while we were watching the movie. My little boy wanted the medium container of popcorn and a small can of the orange juice. I stood there wondering to myself who made the decision that there should be a snack while watching a movie and who chose the popcorn. I felt a little nudge on my thigh as I heard the voice of the boy across the counter saying, “Anything for you sir?” No thanks, I said quickly as if not to change my mind. The boy looked at me with doubt as if to say I should ask for popcorn and a fizzy drink. I stared back at him as he slowly went back to rearranging things on the counter.
That was an interesting end to the encounter with him; I thought to myself as we gradually made our way towards the cinema room showing our movie. The tradition of eating popcorn in the theatre came from the United States. Why will everyone want to do same. Why do I not want to eat suya, the traditional barbecued meat on a stick. I could also eat roasted corn on the hub with the local roasted pear or I could have some puff-puff, the local small chop made with flour. The options of what I could eat while watching the movie are plenty but why should I want to snack on anything after I just had a big bowl of pounded yam and spicy catfish Nsala soup made by my wife.
“The story is about a pirate,” the voice of my boy cut through my thoughts. I had not asked him what the movie was all about. I was more interested in bringing him to the theatre than watching the movie itself.
“The pirate has a big ship,” he continued as we slowly walked up to the screen room. “He has a lot of members in his crew,” he said, walking briskly so he could catch up with me. I was not particularly interested in the story, but I had to indulge him. “They patrolled a huge area of the sea where they intercept and rob ships going about their businesses,” he said as we navigated our way through the door of the screen room. The room was almost full. There was an advert showing on the large screen covering the wall facing the seats. “Dad where are we going to seat,” he asked as we stood at the bottom of the stairs lined by seats. I pointed to the empty row of seats at the top right part of the room. I thought that will be a good vantage point to observe the screen as well as drift off in my thoughts. He tugged me along up the stairs. Dad, do you want to hear the rest of the story, he asked looking at me with a little doubt in his eyes. He knows I do not like learning the full story of a movie I am yet to watch. Yes son, I said with a little smile. Ok he retorted; “I know the pirates controlled a huge area of the ocean,” he said as we were weaving our way to comfortable chairs. He suddenly became quiet as the screen came on and the lights dimmed.
The pirates I thought to myself are like some countries now, they have control over vast number of other countries through their military superiority thereby having the ability to conquer them and control their resources. As they control their resources, they will eventually steal most of those resources for their own benefit. With that comes domination economically and with that they start imposing their way of life on the conquered territories.
“Dad, dad, dad that is the pirates ship,” my son whispered. “Yes son,” I replied, trying to go back to my thoughts. Military and economic domination come with other things like imposition of way of life, way of worship, way of thinking, way of governance etc. Ahh yes, the pop corn came to my mind again. America and their popcorn. Their way of life has been adopted by many countries they influence. No doubt United States is a pirate.
Loud shots brought me out of my thoughts. The pirates were facing a huge fire from another ship. They have been pushed back into retreat. I watched as the captain was barking orders to his crew. They weren’t giving up without a fight, but they seemed to be losing the battle. Their ship has been battered by the enemy ship; they were losing their crew in numbers. Parts of their ship was gradually submerging into the ocean. This is the end of the journey for them. Gradually the pirate ship submerged in the ocean, all that was left was few floating pieces of wood, boxes, and some bodies. Gradually there was peace. Serenity returned to the ocean as the victorious ship sailed away into the horizon. That seemed to be the end of the movie.
I looked at a clock on the wall, it was ten pm. Ninety minutes had passed. I must have been engrossed in my thoughts that I missed most of the movie. The lights came back into the cinema as people started getting up to leave. “It is time to go home,” I said to my son who seemed happy with how the story ended.
It was a quiet drive back as my son was sleeping in the car. I thought of the movie. The story is quite symbolic in many ways What the pirates did on the oceans, some countries are doing to others. The US has invaded and literally destroyed several countries in the past two decades. They have stolen their resources, murdered their men, women, and children, removed, or killed their leaders, leaving those countries in complete disarray. The bright headlight of the big lorry coming in the opposite direction blinded me and made me slow down.
That reminded me of my state, Anambra, where sometimes the drivers like driving with very bright headlights. Oh yes that is true! They do but they are a very industrious people, and so are all Africans.
Oh yes, Africa my own Africa, the land flowing with milk and honey. We have had our own share of pirates as well. We have been pillaged by, the United States, the British, the French, the Belgians, the Portuguese, the Chinese. They have stolen a lot from Africa, and they continue to steal even now. Like the ships robbed by the Pirates, which ended up empty handed with no food or any of their precious belongings. Africa has been robbed so much that most Africans have been left with no food or water and our precious minerals have been taken by these pirates.
Then the sight of my house lifted my spirit. I gently turned the car into my driveway. I killed the car engine then paused. My thoughts hadn’t left me, it is however sad that some Africans have also robbed us or helped these countries to continue their robbery, I fumed within me. I felt a pain go through me as I took a quick look at the rear-view mirror to see my son sound asleep oblivious of my thoughts and emotions. This is not the kind of Africa we should leave for the young ones. It is our job to stand up and fight for what belongs to us; for we have suffered enough in the hands of the pirates.
Dr. Obidike, an emergency physician, writes from the UK.