Short Story: Comrades in Arms

January 13, 2024
6 mins read

By Kenechukwu Obi
Monday, August 17, 2009.
 “You have all heard and read about Henry Ford. Theodora Roosevelt. Wilbur Wright. William Jennings. J.Ogden Armour. Woodrow Wilson. Frank Sinatra. Thomas Edison. Thomas Jefferson. Michael Jackson. George Washington. William Shakespeare. Andrew Jackson. The list is quite a long one. What makes us echo their names today? Who can tell me? Come on, Comrades, who knows?”
“Because of what they achieved.”
“Thank you so much! These people made things happen. Now, to make things happen, I believe that you know careful and detailed planning is very essential.”
“There is no doubt about that.”
“Thank you. Even your seeds. Vegetative parts when thrown into the soil, first experience death, then you push hard on the soil above to bring forth new life. Otherwise, we won’t procreate. We need hard work and persistence to accomplish a transition successfully. We are the masters of our fate, Comrades. Are you aware of that?”
“Of course.”
“Whatever our minds can conceive and believe, we can achieve, right?”
“We have talents. We are producers. Are we not geniuses, Comrades?”
“We are!”
“But that is not enough! No amount of talent, products and ingenuity in us will be enough for the task ahead without persistence and determination. Press on. Never say die. Achieve or die trying. Let’s take a chance, Comrades! All life is a chance. You must be most willing to do and dare. Our definition of success is how we are able to bounce back as obstacles bounce on us, right?”
Do we believe in failure, Comrades?”
“No! Not our portion!”
“There is one thing about this failure. It is a trickster. Is a prankster. Its keen sense of irony is not in doubt. It most presents itself when success is almost at hand. So, Comrades, take note.”
“What about opportunity?”
“Oh! I almost forgot! It is one of those tricks playing things. Its habits are sly. Watch it! It comes through the back door, as the so called failure or its sister called misfortune. What do we have now?”
“The opportunity.”
“Remember when we read about the man Thomas Edison. He was a dreamer that dreamt of?”
“A lamp operated by electricity.”
“Sharp memories, Comrades! Encouraging! And despite the?”
“Ten thousand times!”
“And more.”
“He met the so called failure.”
“He never gave up.”
“There is electricity today! Who dreamt of a machine that would fly?”
“The Wright brothers! First flight, 1903.”
“Good memories! Today, there are planes of varying sophistication. We cannot wait any longer, Comrades. Our will is more than ready to take on tests. Forward ever, backward,”
“Remember, Comrades, all those who succeed, get off to a bad start, and pass through struggles before arriving. All those who succeed, have turning points at the moment of some crisis through which they are introduced to their other selves.”
“This is our crisis! A transition will come.”
“Yes, Comrades. Our greatest crisis. This is Kachifo. A country of abundant human and mineral resources.  Kachifo is not a giant in the comity of nations. Why? A ruthless dictator is in place. With his cohorts, Kachifo is a prison. Mass graves have taken over plantations. Cries of the innocent,”
“We hear.”
“Blood, we see?”
“Misdeeds. Misappropriations. Wealth plundering. Colossal iniquity. Exiles. The gased. The raped. The tortured. Amputated limbs.”
“We don’t have weapons.”
“But we have our weapons.”
“What about money?”
“Don’t make me laugh, Comrades. Money is only clam shells. Metal discs. Scrap of paper. These are not more than treasures of our anatomy and physiology. God that created us all did not have money to start with. So, if not having money is what makes one a failure, God couldn’t have succeeded. God must have had things superior to money that made him successful. That was vision for transition, which we have. Humans think the capacity to think and strategise is non-existent in us. They won’t know what hit them. Now to action! I, the Tomato, Commands. Onion, Garlic and Pepper, you provide attack missiles. Your attacks will be complemented by the weeds. Yam, Rice, Cassava, Cocoyam. The roots and tubers. Energy needs of the people you will provide. Orange, Grape, Lemon and Lime. You are the Citrus, and you know the drill. No vitamin deficiencies. Groundnut, Cowpea, Soya beans. You are legumes. No protein deficiencies. Listen. All Comrades not mentioned will also have great roles to play in due course. Now let’s do it!”
“We the Onion, Garlic and Pepper, our scent in pursuit of soldiers on guard at amouries, command and control posts.”
“ They are dazed. All rubbing their eyes and fleeing.”
“Positive! So move in, Comrades! Await further directives.”
“At the seat of Government. Elite soldiers on guard can’t stand the scent. They are fleeing.”
“We the weeds with creeping stems, ready to move in. To bind.”
“Positive, Comrades! Maintain the status quo! Now I announce. It is all over, General Stam. Your safe heaven, I believe you know is under siege.  I am the commanding tomato. Just surrender. No harm will be inflicted on you if you do so willingly. It will be most ridiculous for you to attempt making phone calls. No one else better knows your international isolation. Now back home, you have no more control over this potentially great nation you have led with iron fist. A minute is just what you have to turn yourself in or we will act in a way of our own choosing. No? General Stam, you refuse? Still proving tough? Alright! Move in, Comrades! Let the world watch this transition today.”
            The Onion, Garlic and Pepper are now spraying and moving in simultaneously with creeping weeds. General Stam is heavily chocked. Bound hands and legs by stems and leaves.
“Take him away! Comrades at command and control units get ready! Comrades at the amouries, you must also be ready. Now roll out tanks and other amoured vehicles.  I’m off to the media now.” Tomato heads off to Kachifo’s main radio station already taken over by his Comrades. He arrives. His speech begins.
“This is a new Kachifo! It’s bye to an oppressive regime. A regime without justice in its plans. Tyranny in Kachifo now belongs to the past. Under the carpet of history! Justice and human rights now to reign. I charge you all law abiding citizens of Kachifo to go about your normal businesses. We are firmly in control. As I speak to you now, as the commanding Tomato, my Comrades are mopping up remaining pockets of resistance. This is dawn that has emerged from the grueling era of the already captured General Stam.”  Wild jubilation in the streets. Cheers. Gun shots into the air.
“It is still the commanding Tomato addressing you. Our mission, you will see, is not to occupy. But your liberation, which is already in effect. Funds shall be solicited to rebuild your country. A governing council of eminent Kachifo people, both at home and on exile will be constituted to run your affairs under our administration. The council’s major responsibilities amongst others will be to ensure there is national reconciliation, establish a functional judicial system for elements of the past repressive regime to obtain fair trial. It will also be charged with the responsibility of putting on ground, all required institutional frame works for enthroning democratic rule. We hope to see a democratically elected President in place not later than the sixth month of next year. Once again, we are not occupiers, but liberators who do not wish to be in charge a second longer than necessary.”
 “ With your maximum co-operation and time, any doubt and fear you may have about our mission will surely be completely dispelled and buried. We are well aware of the international community’s spotlight on us. We know your doubts. This thing we have done, humans have also done, and have gone on to become dictators themselves. How can we be different? Just sit back, relax and watch. I have to say this to supporters of General Stam, most especially from Chekwas his home town. We are not unaware of your likely moves. Any insurgency will be most regarded as a test of our will, and must be decisively dealt with. Crumbs of the last regime are being dusted away now. It is over! Do not delude yourselves! Look at the future, a new, open and free Kachifo. End to the Tyrant’s era, dawn of the people’s era.” 
 Kenechukwu Obi is a Nigerian writer and poet. He is the author of the novel A Bond That Crumbled Tradition.  He can be reached at

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