Just Imagine is a Zikoko weekly series that takes fictional pop culture icons and reimagines them as chaotic Nigerians.
You’ll find Nigerians everywhere. Literally. However, the one place you won’t find them is on a ship they just finished building. Except that ship is leaving Nigeria for the United States — like The Titanic.
So how would Titanic, the movie, have turned out if Nigerians were on the ship? On this episode of #JustImagine, we reimagine Jack and Rose as Jaja and Ronke.
This hot morning, the Lagos Island port is swarming with people struggling with their luggage and shouting on top of one another.
Docked at the harbour is a large ship with the words ‘THE TITANIC’ written boldly on it. A conductor is standing at the entrance of the ship.
Conductor: All aboard the titanic!
An old woman, Iya Agba, and her grandson, Tunji, walk to the entrance of the ship.
Iya Agba: Oya, Tunji, put all the load inside the ship.
Conductor: Heis! Stop there. Is it human being that is inside your bag?
Iya Agba: (ignores him) Tunji, put the load inside jare.
Conductor: Don’t make me slap you.
At that moment, a middle-aged woman and her beautiful young daughter, Ronke, walk up to the ship. They are accompanied by a rotund man, Chief Agbabiaka.
Conductor: Ha! Welcome Chief! Please, come in.
Ronke and her mother walk in while Chief Agbaika presses a note into the conductor’s hand.
Conductor: (grins and salutes)Thank you, sah!
Iya Agba: Won’t you let us enter?
Conductor: Do you want to sink the ship with your stupid load?
Iya Agba: Is not the ship that I am entering that will sink in Jesus name!
Iya Agba and Tunji start to rearrange their luggage. They remove foodstuff like yam, garri, egusi, crayfish and a grinding stone.
Conductor: (grimaces) See all this nonsense. Sha enter!
Iya Agba and Tunji enter the ship, the conductor shuts the door and The Titanic sets sail for the United States of America.
The ship is sailing and people are walking around with their luggage, trying to settle.
A young man, Jaja, is trying to force his way into a compartment when an attendant runs up to him.
Attendant: What are you doing there?
Jaja: I want to take bedsheet from this room. There’s no bedsheet in my own room.
Attendant: That’s because you’re in 3rd class. Use wrapper!
Jaja tries to force his way in but the attendant prevents him. They get into a scuffle.
Ronke and her mother are passing by. Ronke’s mum turns her nose up at the fight and continues to walk. Ronke briefly notices the exchange before she walks away.
Chief Agbabiaka and Ronke are seated in the dining area of the ship. He touches her hair, but she leans away from him.
Chief Agbabiaka: Ronke! Are you not happy that I am taking you and your mother to America?
Jaja enters the dining hall but goes unnoticed. Chief Agbabiaka continues to touch Ronke but she responds coldly.
Chief Agbabiaka: Look at what I bought for you.
He pulls out an expensive necklace, but Ronke is unimpressed.
Chief Agbabiaka: Ronke! Stop behaving like a child, you know what I want.
Chief Agbabiaka grabs her and tries to kiss her. As Ronke fights back, Jaja comes and breaks a ceramic plate on his head. Chief Agbabiaka passes out.
Ronke’s eyes widen as she looks from Jaja to Chief Agbabiaka.
Ronke: Ha! Did you kill him?
Jaja: E be like that o.
Ronke: He has not put me inside his will yet o! Wake him back.
Chief Agbabiaka starts to stir. Jaja sees this and runs out of the room.
The next day, Jack is standing on the deck and looking out to sea. Ronke walks up behind him.
Ronke: Thanks for helping me yesterday.
Jaja: It’s ok. I dey break people head on a steady.
Ronke: (laughs) So, what are you doing here?
Jaja: There’s this thing I like to do. Do you want to try?
Jaja: Close your eyes.
Ronke closes her eyes and Jaja nudges her towards the rails.
Jaja: Now, climb up.
Ronke opens her eyes and looks around.
Ronke: Climb to where?
Jaja: As in, climb on this railing.
Ronke: So I can fall inside water?
Jaja: You won’t fall. I will hold you and then you will now stretch your hand out. It will be like you’re flying.
Ronke: Did I tell you I’m a witch?
Jaja: It’s not like that. Just do it.
Ronke: Wo, I came to say thank you. I don’t know why you’re asking me to climb somewhere and fall inside water.
Ronke walks away and Jaja calls after her.
In the wheelhouse, the captain is busy steering the ship. A man is standing beside the captain and giving him instructions.
Man: Be cutting your hand! This is not how to drive this thing.
The captain ignores him and continues.
Man: Cut it to the left!
The captain leaves the wheel and turns around in anger.
Captain: Is this your ship?! Are you well? Why have you been shouting since morning? Do you know the way?
The ship suddenly starts to shake vigorously. The captain turns to the wheel and starts to use it to steady the ship. The ship continues to shake.
Man: I talk am! Cut your hand, you dey do nonsense!
The Captain runs out of the wheelhouse and to the deck.
Out on the deck, a crowd is gathered. The captain of the ship is trying to maintain order. Jaja, Ronke, Ronke’s mother and Chief Agbabiaka are a part of the crowd.
Captain: Everybody! calm down!
They all continue to scream. The captain fires a gun into the air and there is instant silence.
Captain: Is everybody mad? I say calm down!
Captain: Our propeller has removed and this ship is going to sink.
Everyone goes into a frenzy. He shoots the gun again and there’s silence. The conductor whispers something in the captain’s ear.
Captain: Oh, the conductor just told me the propeller didn’t remove, sorry.
Everyone heaves a sigh of relief.
Captain: We didn’t have propeller from the beginning. I don’t know what you people will do because there is only one lifejacket, and it’s my own.
The ship starts to shake and Iya Agba starts to pray, loudly.
Chief Agbabiaka: Somebody should find me a boat! Do you know who I am?! I am Chief Jonah Agbabiaka, nephew of the Prince of Isale Eko! Find me a boat!
Ronke’s Mum: Take me too oh!
Iya Agba stops praying.
Iya Agba: You say your name is what?
Chief Agbabiaka: Agbabiaka Jonah.
Iya Agba: Is him. Is him we will throw him inside the water!
Iya Agba tries to throw Chief Agbabiaka overboard. Ronke’s mother hides. Chief Agbabiaka and Iya Agba continue to struggle, but no one pays them any mind.
A small distance away, a man in a traditional babalawo outfit is standing next to a young boy. He is doing a traditional dance as the boy watches.
Baba: (jumps and screams incantations) Opapaparada!
Boy: Me, I can still see you oh.
Baba: I didn’t disappear? You can see me?
Boy: Live and direct.
Man: Mo daran! (I’m dead).
An Alfa and his students are in a circle. The Alfa is passing a bottle of water around. The students each take a sip from the water.
Alfa: I have prayed on this water. As we are drinking it, we are going to heaven.
Jaja enters into their midst and tries to collect the bottle from the Alfa, but he doesn’t give it to him.
Alfa: The water is not enough for us!
Jaja wrestles the bottle out of his hands and takes a sip.
Alfa: (annoyed) What?
Jaja: Why are you people drinking Ogogoro here?
In the darkness, a bright light suddenly comes on. A man falls on his knees and stretches his hands out.
Man: Rapture is here! Take me Lord!
Jaja: It’s torchlight I on o.
Man: (annoyed) Are you mad? Why are you pointing torch light at me?
Jaja: You too, why are you waiting for rapture?
The man hisses. A brighter light comes on and the man raises his hand again.
Jaja: I on another torch light.
Man: Take your time!
The ship starts to go down as everyone continues to scream. Jaja and Ronke hold each other as the ship sucks them into the water.
They swim for a board floating on the water. Ronke climbs it and Jaja tries to climb but she pushes him off with her leg.
Jaja tries to climb again but she shoves him with her leg.
Jaja: Are you mad? Let me climb up now.
Ronke: It cannot contain us.
Jaja: See space there.
Ronke stretches her leg over the space.
Ronke: Shebi you can fly?
Jaja tries to climb again but Ronke hits his head.
Ronke: Is there something wrong with you? I SAY NO SPACE!
Ronke and Jaja argue until a bright light comes on.
Man in the water: (screams) The rapture is here!
Jaja: If you don’t shut up your mouth now!
Another ship comes into view and a man’s figure can be seen on the ship.
Captain in the water: US Immigration has come to pack us oh!
The man on the new ship raises a megaphone to his mouth and speaks.
Man: Hope you people know you’re in Badagry?
Alfa: (in the water) We have not reach New York?
Man: As we are fishing you out of this water, be taking number. All of you are going to prison.
Man: This ship you’re on was stolen from Lagos.
Captain starts to swim in the opposite direction.
Check back every Friday by 2pm for new stories in the Just Imagine series.