Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 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.

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

  1. Obinna Udenwe 2014/05/02 at 17:14 #

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

  2. Ainehi Edoro 2014/05/02 at 17:45 #

    I know!

  3. Kiru Taye 2014/05/03 at 08:08 #

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

  4. Ainehi Edoro 2014/05/03 at 13:17 #

    You’re welcome love.

  5. Estella 2014/05/26 at 04:09 #

    Ha…

    Really hoping the kind sir rejobulated this brother!

    Or better still, promoted him to the comms dept.

    Lovely, TY

  6. Esther 2016/02/28 at 08:24 #

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

Leave a Reply

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.

Monthly Newsletter!

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

Archives

Watch This Poetry Dance Film of Kayo Chingonyi’s “Kumukanda”

kayo chingonyi - the guardian

Zambian poet Kayo Chingonyi’s first full-length collection, Kumukanda, is receiving praise. The Guardian has hailed its “lyrical elegance” and “many […]

Photos | Nommo Awards 2017: How Africa’s First Ever Speculative Fiction Awards Ceremony Happened

IMG_7063

The announcement of the winners of the inaugural Nommo Awards took place at the ongoing 2017 Ake Arts and Book […]

Goodreads Awards 2017: Vote Chimamanda Adichie’s “Dear Ijeawele” and Nnedi Okorafor’s “Home” in the Final Round

Nnedi-Okorafor BELLA NAIJA

Earlier this month we announced the online voting for Goodreads’ 2017 awards. The first round saw nominations for four authors having massively […]

#AkeFest2017 | Follow Brittle Paper’s Coverage of Ake Arts and Book Festival

ake festival (1)

  Ake Arts and Book Festival is happening in Abeokuta, Nigeria—has been happening since 14 November, to end on 18 […]

Opportunity for Writers and Visual Artists | Apply for the 2017 Artists in Residency Programme

Applications are open for the 2017 Artists in Residency (AIR) programme, an initiative of Africa Centre “seeking high calibre African artists, in […]

South African Literary Awards 2017: All the Winners

The winners of the 2017 South African Literary Awards have been announced. Here they are, with excerpts from their citations. […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.