Last year Halloween, I missed my chance to dress up as a Pirate of the Caribbean. This year, to redeem myself, I came up with a variety of costume ideas. At first I thought that I could be Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean dictator. I gave that up when I realized that I’d need to wear a three piece suit to be close. Then I wanted to be the stupid Nigerian Underwear bomber from last year. To do that, I might need to wear a t-shirt (and maybe a fiery underwear) and look silly. No way. Then I thought I could be Kunta Kinte. Who cares, I thought. Halloween is such a day for the ridiculous anyway. However, Kunta was a short man, and I’d have to look and behave really angrily. I gave that up as well. Then I said I’d be Fela the musician. Then I realized that no one around here really knows who he was to be able to correctly identify me. Then I said maybe I should be Eddie Long. Oh no, I said again. I’m not that desperate to be ridiculous, so I jettisoned that too. I decided to go as myself, in a classy Yoruba dashiki vest.

Nothing more needs to be said except that it was thick enough to keep the cold out when I’m outside, and colourful enough to be a Halloween costume in America. When I was asked who I was supposed to be, I said I was an African president from the Congo – not minding that the clothing material is not even worn in the Congo. When I went to the parade at downtown Edwardsville yesterday, I wore it again, and I got a few interesting glances. It’s Halloween, geddit? Let’s see what happens when I wear it to the department sometime. A student from Ghana saw me and said it is called fugu in Ghana, and is worn mostly by the Hausas in the Northern part of the country. All I know is that Wole Soyinka wore it on top of an “English” dress to accept his Nobel Prize in 1986 in Stockholm. Now it all makes sense. The cold in that part of the world is beyond belief.

And so it ends, another season of fun and festivities.

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Random: I think it’s unfair that most of America’s fun places are in Missouri rather than in Illinois. Sometimes last week, I went to Grant’s Farm – a spacious fenced plantation ground belonging to the former general and president Ulysses Grant, also in Missouri. The grounds of the farm – now populated with animals of different kinds – was where the president spent much of his time during the civil war and the Mexican war. The state has so much more than has been presently discovered, and I’d be glad to check out as many more as I can discover.

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