Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

If you’re “bewifed” by “five savage wives” and childrenised by “sixteen voracious children,” what do you do when you’re suddenly “dejobbed?”

You write a letter in which you tell your boss that you resent being “violently dejobbed in a twinkling.” You also point out to him that he is clearly wrong for giving you a sack on charges of laziness. How lazy can you be if you’ve “pitched sixteen infant children into” the world? 

Lol. 

It actually happened. In 1929, an aggrieved government employer in the city of Calabar sends a letter to his boss asking him to reconsider the decision to thrown him out of work.

The writing is melancholy but endlessly funny. It’s so bad that it’s lovable, poetic even. The grand poetic imageries are my favorites. Neither Shakespeare nor Soyinka could have thought up a line as arresting as “pitched sixteen infant children into this valley of tears.” 

Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend.  

#NOTE: Scroll past the image to see the full transcript of the letter.

 

calabar-letter-1929

click image to see full letter

Calabar
February 2nd 1929.

Kind Sir,

On opening this epistle you will behold the work of a dejobbed person, and a very bewifed and much childrenised gentleman.

Who was violently dejobbed in a twinkling by your goodself. For Heavens sake Sir consider this catastrophe as falling on your own head, and remind yourself as walking home at the moon’s end of five savage wives and sixteen voracious children with your pocket filled with non-existent £ S D; not a solitudery sixpence; pity my horrible state when being dejobbed and proceeding with a heart and intestines filled with misery to this den of doom; myself did greedily contemplate culpable homicide, but Him who did protect Daniel (poet) safely through the lion’s dens will protect his servant in his home of evil.

As to reason given by yourself — goodself — esquire for my dejobbment the incrimination was laziness.

No Sir. It were impossible that myself who has pitched sixteen infant children into this valley of tears, can have a lazy atom in his mortal frame, and the sudden departure of eleven pounds monthly has left me on the verge of the abyss of destitution and despair. I hope this vision of horror will enrich your dreams this night, and good Angel will meet and pulverise your heart of nether milestone so that you will awaken, and with as much alacrity as may be compatable with your personal safety, you will hasten to rejobulate your servant.

So mote it be – Amen

Yours despairfully

Sgd. Asuquo Okon Inyang.

 

Source: The British National Archive via Letters of Note

 

Tags: , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

7 Responses to “#ShortReadFriday: 1929 Letter by Calabar Man on Being Dejobbed, Bewifed, and Childrenised” Subscribe

  1. Obinna Udenwe May 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    This is amazing. Someone should do a novel on this character.

  2. Ainehi Edoro May 2, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    I know!

  3. Kiru Taye May 3, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Hahaha
    Thank you for giving me something to giggle about this Saturday morning

  4. Ainehi Edoro May 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    You’re welcome love.

  5. Estella May 26, 2014 at 4:09 am #

    Ha…

    Really hoping the kind sir rejobulated this brother!

    Or better still, promoted him to the comms dept.

    Lovely, TY

  6. Esther February 28, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    He really tried with his grammar
    Construction as at “1929”. Really
    Wish he was rejobulated!

  7. Onyekwucha Ikezu November 24, 2018 at 4:12 pm #

    I stumbled on this by chance while researching dejobbing as a requirement for a course somewhere in North America. As far back as 1929 my Countrymen had already started experiencing what I am now researching in 2018 roughly 90 years ago.

    I salute the writer for his command of English Language given that he probably did not go past Standard Six as it then was the limit most people could aspire to in those days.

    Regards,

    IKEZU

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The Heart of It: Working Through Xenophobia in South Africa | Ruksana Elk

XENOPHOBIA - South African civil society and private citizens march in protest against xenophobic violence in Johannesburg. EPA-EFE and Yeshiel Panchia

READ: 15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa Talking xenophobia with South Africans of all classes […]

The Brittle Paper Interview with the Caine Prize 2019 Winner: Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah with bust of Sir Michael Caine - credit to John Cobb slash Caine Prize

In July, Lesley Nneka Arimah received the 2019 Caine Prize, the award’s twentieth edition, for her short story “Skinned,” published […]

Hollywood or Nollywood? As Americanah TV Series Goes to HBO, Actress Stella Damasus Suggests Industry Slight & Chika Unigwe Responds

danai gurira, lupita nyong'o, chimamanda adichie, stella damasus, chika unigwe

The Americanah TV series adaptation, starring Lupita Nyong’o and written by Danai Gurira, has been ordered by HBO Max. The […]

15 Pieces to Guide Your Understanding of Xenophobia in (South) Africa

xenophobia in south africa - photo by guillerme sartori for agence france press and getty images

Once again, this September, xenophobic violence was unleashed on other Africans, mostly Nigerians, in South Africa: businesses were closed, shops […]

Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island Is the Second Novel from Madagascar to Be Translated into English

johary ravaloson - winds from elsewhere - graph (1)

In May 2018, we brought news of the first novel by a writer from Madagascar to be translated into English: […]

Sundays at Saint Steven’s | Davina Philomena Kawuma | Poetry

unsplash3

when god runs out of money (how, no one says) once a week, these days, we come to where the […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.