Just Imagine is a Zikoko weekly series that takes fictional pop culture icons and reimagines them as chaotic Nigerians.
If you ask any ‘90s kid to describe a Disney princess, they’ll probably paint the picture of a soft-spoken, fragile and helpless woman who only sings, bakes, sighs and waits for Prince Charming to show up and save her.
However, have you ever wondered what it might have been like if Disney princesses were average Nigerians? Would they still be as demure? I thought about it too and chose to write a series of plays.
Today, I’m starting with the OG Disney princess, Cinderella. Everyone knows the story of how she lost her parents, endured the torture of her stepmother and sisters, had rats for friends and eventually found her prince.
But if Cinderella were a Nigerian who lived in Mushin, how would her life have turned out?
It is 9 p.m. and Cinderella, whom everyone calls Sidi, walks into the living room. She is sweating profusely and fanning herself with a sheet of paper. She sees her stepmother in the living room and stops.
Sidi: (fans herself) Won’t we on gen today?
Stepmother: (non-chalantly) Go and buy petrol.
Her stepmother opens up a packet of suya. Sidi watches as she slowly chews each stick of meat
Sidi: I have not eaten this night oh.
Stepmother: (continues chewing).
Sidi comes closer to take some of the suya, but her stepmother hits her hand with the remote. Sidi yelps.
Sidi: (shuffles feet and frowns) I have to pay my school fees oh.
Stepmother: Wait for your father to come back.
Sidi: (eyes the suya) At least, give me money for petrol… And suya.
Stepmother: (continues chewing).
Sidi: I say I have not eaten this night. Is it until I die in…
A loud knock is heard. The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) walks in.
DPO: (frowns) What?
Sidi: Are you not supposed to be at the junction?
DPO: (eyes Sidi) Armed robbers are there. And I came to tell you that they have kidnapped your father.
DPO: He stole okada from cultists, and they kidnapped him. We don’t know when he will come back, and we can’t look for him.
DPO: So that they can collect the danfo we use for police bus? (removes cap and sits) Start planning his burial because those cultists don’t release people.
Sidi: Who will pay my school fees?
Sidi stretches the receipt in her hand. The DPO peers at it.
DPO: Why is your own school fees N250,000 when Ramota is paying N15,000?
Sidi: (disgusted) That’s when your antenna will stand.
Stepmother: Enough! Your father is finally dead and you never needed an education anyway. Dismissed!
DPO: It means get out, ode!
Sidi: So that you people can do what you normally do?
DPO: (raises his kondo) I say get out.
Sidi: (reaches for the suya).
Stepmother: (slaps her hand).
Sidi grumbles and makes her way to her room where she sits on the floor and checks her betting tickets.
Sidi: Omo. So all these tickets cut sha.
Two rats scurry to her side.
Rat 1: Sidi, don’t feel bad.
Sidi: Who be that?
Rat 2: Down here.
Sidi: JESUS! JESUS!
Sidi reaches for a broom and starts to chase them.
DPO: (from the living room) Sidi! Sidi! Did they swear for you? Why are you making noise? Do you know it is affecting my performance?!
The sun is high up in the sky, signifying midday. Sidi is in a small kitchen blowing at a stove. There is a pot of boiling pap on the stove.
Sidi gets on her knees to blow at the stove when she hears a loud call.
Stepsister 1: Sidi! Get in here!
Sidi groans and wipes her face with a soot-covered hand, staining her face.
Stepsister 2: Sidi! Can’t you hear us!?
Sidi walks into the living room where her stepmother, stepsisters and DPO are sitting in the living room. The women are dressed in their pyjamas but DPO is wearing only his boxers.
Stepsister: Where is breakfast? Shouldn’t we have eaten?
Stepsister 2: You’ve been sleeping in that kitchen since morning. I saw you! Mummy, I saw her!
Stepmother: Sidi! Is that true?!
DPO: Won’t we eat? Abi are you deaf?
Sidi: DPO? Do you smell the firewood?
Sidi: That’s your uniform burning.
DPO: (jumps out of his chair) What? Sidi! Do you know that is the only uniform I have? What will I wear home?
Sidi holds up an Ankara wrapper. DPO starts to scream but at that moment, there is a loud knock at the door.
Person: (knocks loudly).
Stepmother: Won’t you get the door? Or are you truly deaf?
Sidi: (grumbles) Who is the mad man that is banging the gate?
Man: Who are you cursing?
Sidi: Who is standing here? What do you want please?
Man: (hisses) Our local government chairman’s son, Shina. You know him? He is doing party, and he wants all the ‘omo ele’ in the area to come.
Sidi: Shina? The one that is owing everybody money?
Stepmother: (pushes Sidi aside and smiles) Thank you for the invitation. I will bring my girls.
DPO appears behind Sidi with the ankara wrapper tied to his chest.
DPO: Sidi, how will I tell danfo drivers that I am a staff like this?
Sidi hisses and leaves the living room.
THE DAY OF THE PARTY
Sidi’s stepsisters try on the dresses she made for them.
Stepsister 1: Sidi, what is this?
Stepsister 1: Why is the front jumping?
Stepsister 2: And why is my gown not reaching the ground.
Sidi: God did not create you people proportionately.
Stepmother: Shut up, Sidi. You look beautiful, babies. Everyone will love you! Let’s go.
They all leave the house.
Sidi is alone, picking beans when a flickering low light appears and a woman comes into view. The light continues to flicker.
Fairy Godmother: (smiles brightly) Sidi, your fairy godmother is here!
Sidi: (sighs) You don’t have full current?
Fairy Godmother: (frowns and stands akimbo) What is always wrong with you?
Sidi: Honestly, it’s money problem I have now now. Can I see like N5k?
Fairy Godmother: (looks at her in disgust)
Sidi: (tilts head) Can you tap light? I want to watch match, and we don’t have light.
Fairy Godmother: Shut up, Sidi. I came to take you to the party so you can find a man and settle down.
Sidi: Ok. I hear you. I do. But first tell me the lotto number to play.
Fairy Godmother: (exasperated) Sidi, go and bring 2 rats so that I can turn them into a G-Wagon for you.
Sidi: (scratches head).
Fairy Godmother: Be fast about it!
Sidi: I have given all of them rat poison.
Fairy Godmother: What do you now have?
Sidi: Wall gecko.
Fairy Godmother: (sigh) Bring it.
Sidi: (arrives with the wall gecko).
Fairy Godmother: (waves wand).
The wall gecko turns into okada.
Sidi: (Irritated) Wetin be this?
Fairy Godmother: Shut up your detty mouth. Didn’t I ask you to bring rat?Now, for your dress and makeup.
Fairy Godmother waves her wand and Sidi changes.
Sidi: Why did you give me PDP cloth? And did you use pieces to sew this cloth?
Fairy Godmother: Material is cost. Be going like that.
Sidi: Who will drive the okada?
Fairy Godmother: Can’t you ride it?
Sidi: No oh. You’re the one that will drive me there.
Fairy Godmother: Are you mad?
Sidi: Ehn I am not going, nigabyen. (Sidi sits).
Her Fairy Godmother sits on the okada.
Fairy Godmother: Enter now before I vex. I don’t even know why they gave me this work.
Sidi: Maybe they don’t like you.
Sidi mounts the bike and her Fairy Godmother zooms off.
Sidi: Suffery Suffery o! You know I have not died before.
AT THE PARTY
It is 11:58 p.m. and Shina’s party is in full swing. There are string lights, canopies and fuji music is playing from the speakers. Some guests are dancing while others are having a conversation.
Sidi tries to stuff small chops and Chivita into her bag.
Shina: Did they say you can carry the food?
Sidi turns around.
Sidi: I have not collected food.
Shina: I have been looking at you from there since. You’ve packed food 15 times.
Sidi: I didn’t pack…
Shina opens her bag to find cutleries, packs of food and drinks there. Sidi snatches her bag from him.
Shina: Come and be going.
Sidi: It is just 12. The party has not finished now.
Shina: So that you can pack the remaining food?
Shina drags her out of the party while Sidi protests.
Shina: Don’t enter this party again!
Sidi stands there, frowning. She sits by a pavement and brings out a pack of small chops. As she eats, she looks towards a line of generators powering the party.
She looks from the generator to her parked okada and back to the generators. She drops her phone and the pack of small chops on the pavement and soon, Sidi is riding home with the generator at the back of her okada.
Shina bursts out in anger, but Sidi is gone. He only sees her phone on the pavement.
THE NEXT DAY
A knock is heard at the gate.
Man: (knocks loudly).
Sidi: (Sidi hisses loudly and opens the door) Wetin again?
Man: Is even you?
Sidi: (looks down at his worn-out shoes) You know selling recharge cards is better than this town crier hustle that you’re doing?
Man: That your mouth will soon blow, idiot.
Stepmother: Ah! It is you.
Man: Yes. I am looking for the woman that owns this phone oh (holds up the phone)
Stepsister: It is mine!
Man: Call the number.
Stepsister 1: 080683528
Man: (disgusted) Madam, if you want to lie, at least lie with sense.
Her stepsister frowns and sulks. Sidi sighs uninterestedly and recites the correct number.
Man: It’s even you?
Sidi: (snatches the phone). I’ve been looking for it. (scowls at the phone) Who used all my credit?
Shina walks into the conversation. Sidi’s eyes widen.
Shina: Did you carry my gen abi you did not carry my gen?
Sidi: (scratches neck)
Shina: (narrows eyes) I like fiesty girls like you. I want to take you home and take care of you.
Sidi: To where?
Shina: My permanent base.
Sidi: Ehn. Where is it gaan gaan?
Shina: Omu Ago
Sidi: In this Lagos?
Shina: Ondo State.
Sidi: (bends, squints and whispers) Because I carry your gen?
Shina: Are you doing abi you’re not doing?
Sidi: When your leg is paining you, you will leave here.
Shina leaves in anger. He walks back into the compound and drags his generator out. He also instructs his man to carry Sidi’s generator.
Sidi: Hay! That’s our own gen o! Shina! THAT’S THE GEN I WANT TO INHERIT!
Sidi’s Fairy Godmother shows up and fires up her Okada. Sidi runs to drag it, but she zooms off.
Sidi: I’ve collected deposit on that Okada o!
Sidi walks back into her house and slams the door. She continues to live in chaos without her prince or a generator.
Her fairy godmother also quit because Sidi’s life is obviously affecting her mental health.
Check back every Friday by 2pm for new stories in the Just Imagine series.