By Festus Adedayo
How can a man fight very difficult life battles, vanquish them all, be a household name in the world as a result of his handsome laurels in business and then, all of a sudden, get picked up effortlessly on the bed by women, as they do snails in farm furrows? This is the question on the lips of the world as Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, confronts his deconstruction by some self-confessed mistresses Autumn Spikes and Bea Lewis.
This Dangote’s costly mess on cozy beds has spiked globally, diverting riveting attention to the Kano-born business dinosaur. Lewis claimed she had been Aliko’s mistress for ten years. The world’s attention then shifted from Aliko’s multiple billions, his unassuming simplicity and his world class monstrous refinery, to the narrative of licit or illicit romance. Lewis had, in January this year, shared photographs of their tryst on her Instagram handle. An American restaurateur, she alleged that Aliko broke her heart. Using the metaphor of broken earthenware, she said the billionaire broke her fragile heart into more than a thousand fragments. Identified with the Atlanta Meal Prep, a local cuisine runner, which promotes healthy diets, Lewis began her battle with Aliko from a seemingly superficial level. Within the twinkle of an eye, after breaking this news at midnight, she had attracted to herself over 13,000 followers.
“I dated the richest black man in the world. He broke my heart into 1000 pieces. I learned more from him than any person I’ve ever met. Communicating with a billionaire daily makes you see the world differently,” she had written on Instagram.
To convince Doubting Thomases who might have controverted her claims that she was talking about same boardroom dinosaur, Aliko, Lewis shared photographs of herself and Dangote in a dalliance. The lady even went a step further to share with the world what she called her derivables from the tryst.
“I became more organized and finally am able to step away from the daily kitchen operations. I learned to love without strings. Give your best without expectations. Nothing is forever. I realized a half a million-dollar restaurant project was a bad investment. I purchased two properties. I started a consistent fitness regime. Became Vegan. Obtained a profitable stock portfolio. He changed my perspective on work ethic and patience. Once my mindset changed the universe gravitated me to people that uplifted me and increased my net worth mentally and financially,” said Lewis.
Then another lady hopped on the rendezvous. Identified as Autumn Spikes, an African American, she posted a video that went viral, of her and Dangote. The clip revealed Africa’s richest man lying on the same couch with his voluptuous nemesis and a part of his buttocks shyly winking to the world.
In further public interventions by Spikes, it became obvious that the video was a mere “Statement of the Problem,” an attempt to dig a fertile ground, where to situate an ultimate plan to conveniently squeeze cash from Africa’s richest billionaire. Last Thursday, in another post from her handle, @allounda1, Spikes escalated the narrative. Therein, she alleged that Dangote had insulted her by offering a mere $15,000, as well as another $2,500 monthly to shut her mouth, so as not to turn the affair into a global love snafu. Rather than these offers, however, to keep the mess off the streets, she said she was demanding a princely sum of $5 million before she could enter a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that Dangote demanded.
“I was insultingly offered 15k and 2,500 a month to sign an NDA but I declined, I gained legal counsel in which we countered his offer. Mind you his first initial offer wasn’t disclosed in the terms of his proposed NDA. Therefore I was pressured and influenced to sign which was already a violation of his own NDA,” said Spikes.
An acclaimed British professor was once quoted to have said that all the libraries in the world put together do not smell as sweetly as the scent of a woman’s groin. Is this why great men in the world put their greatness in the scabbard when engaged in appropriate or inappropriate relationships with women? Perhaps this is why men, on sighting women, engage in actions they would otherwise never have considered if they were in possession of their senses? So, is there a mechanism in the man-woman interface that is filled with an unspoken and even unknown mesmerism and chemistry? What is it about women that the greatest of men crumble at the sight and feel of their allure? Why do men whose brains have taken them to the top seem to warehouse such brains while in romance with women, thereby making them easy prey or prisoners in-between the succulence of the female anatomy? Are women’s brains superior to men’s and could that be the reason why the French call them femme fatale – the destructive female?
Whatever Aliko went through or is going through in the hands of Spikes and Lewis is the usual story that so many great men went/go through in the hands of women. It only comes in different dimensions. Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman General and statesman, reputed to be a major force who played critical roles in the demise of the Roman Republic, as well as the rise of the Roman Empire, also could not resist the thighs of Cleopatra. Daughter of Ptolemy XII, Cleopatra became the Pharaoh after her father’s demise. She was reputed to be a very beautiful woman and specifically described as “a woman of surpassing beauty” with a “charming voice” by Cassius. More than this, Cleopatra was a diplomat imbued with great intellectual prowess, a mathematician and was noted to be astounding for her ability to speak nine languages. At first sight, Cleopatra ogled and desired the Great Caesar and was determined to get him. One day, she organised for a cruise on the Nile River to be undertaken by her and Caesar, in her posh royal barge. By the time they both returned to Alexandria, Cleopatra was pregnant with Caesar’s child, who was later named Caesarion.
The narrative of the biblical man of valour, Samson, plucked off his prowess like a chicken by Delilah, has been an example, over the centuries, used to exemplify how powerful men in history are easily captured by women. It is said that women are men’s weakest link, through which they can be captured and emasculated.
In my quest for an understanding of the dissembling role women played in the lives of powerful men in African history, I spoke with the Iku Baba Yeye, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, yesterday. Alaafin took his time to narrate to me the story of that infamous man in Old Oyo Empire, notorious for unbridled wickedness, Bashorun Gaa. Though I had always cited this story to back up earlier submissions, I couldn’t resist retelling the Alaafin’s version of it. In it, Gaa was captured through a young lady called Agbonin, though not directly through his libidinous craving.
Being the Old Oyo Empire’s prime minister and lord marshal in the 18th century, Gaa stood in that position from 1750–1774 and oversaw the reigns of four Alaafins of Oyo, even contributing to the death of three of them. Gaa’s military prowess and mastery of the geography of war gave the Empire all-round conquests in wars that Oyo fought during this period. As head of the Oyo Mesi (the Oyo council of Kingmakers), he held awesome powers, especially taking into cognisance the fact that the Alaafins whose prime minister he was were tyrannical. He also acquired so much power during the period. He was said to have been so powerful that he could turn into any animal of his choice. More than these, however, Gaa’s talismanic fetish powers and prowess befuddled his sense of reasoning, which made a classical tyrant of him.
He was equally accused of instigating criminal activities in the empire, aiding, abetting and serving as cover-up for crimes traced to members of his household, as well as the serial killings his sons and the head of his slaves were notorious for committing. Power drunk, Bashorun Gaa became uncontrollable, even to Alaafin Abiodun Adegorolu (Adegoolu), who reigned from 1770–1789. Adegoolu’s reign was remarkable in Oyo’s history as that of prosperity. The wealth of the nation was so humongous that women gleefully sang of how, during his reign, they offhandedly sewed costly velveteen cloth materials. Coming after the empire’s subjugation of neighbouring Dahomey, Adegoolu brought about economic expansion to his domain and rejected every entreaty to plough the wealth of the empire made from the Dahomey trade into military expansionism. He also collaborated with European merchants of the coast through his policy of peaceful trade with them. This path necessitated the weakening of the empire’s army, conversely strengthening Gaa, who was building an army and eventually posed a huge challenge to Abiodun’s successor, Alaafin Aole, who had to contend with revolts from within the empire.
Gaa hijacked and diverted all the apparatuses of the political machinery and power of Oyo kingdom to himself, including all the homage, and tributaries, which constituted the material paraphernalia of benefits that the Alaafin was entitled to by culture and history. If Alaafin Abiodun allowed these excesses of his prime minister, who was so powerful that he had over 500 aides and a palace of his own, he was bound to lose the de facto power to administer the empire.
Then Alaafin Abiodun and close-knit members of his inner cabinet devised a way of neutralising Bashorun Gaa. The Alaafin’s daughter, Agbonin, an itinerant kolanut hawker, was selected as the bait and eventually went into martyrdom to castrate Gaa. Agbonin sold this particular variant of kola called gbanja, with its multiple faces. Knowing that she could not have immediate access to Gaa, the kolanuts she hawked were soaked in potion and the immediate target was Gaa’s closest aide and indeed, his chief of staff, called Gbagi. Gbagi and Gaa were both steeped in metaphysical explorations. They went together to seek spiritual powers. It was said that every of those powers acquired by Gaa, Gbagi duplicated. Those potions were, in turn, tested on various animals to ascertain their efficacy. As she hawked the kola by Gaa’s palace one day, Gbagi invited her in and was mesmerised by her beauty.
A friendship was thus struck between them and, off course, purchase of the gbanja which, unbeknown to him, was for him to inexplicably desire Agbonin. To try the efficacy of the potion, Agbonin was instructed to distance self from Gaa’s palace for a while and by the time she returned, it was obvious from his utterances that Gbagi was already starved of her presence. So on this day, as he got engaged with Agbonin, Gaa had made futile attempts to get across to Gbagi from the inner court of the palace and was forced to saunter to the front of the palace. A bitter exchange then began. Other aides who couldn’t stand the chief of staff’s prowess then revealed that he was having an amorous relationship with Gaa’s enemy – Alaafin Abiodun’s daughter. Furious, he called Gbagi all manner of names and threatened to behead him. The latter called his bluff. As Gaa made to enter his palace, Gbagi hit him with a talismanic paralysis belt called onde, which instantly paralysed him. Agbonin was killed immediately as reprisal by palace courtiers and as Gbagi ran to Alaafin Abiodun’s palace to ask that the Bashorun be immediately captured, one other aide shot him dead. Gaa was reportedly incinerated alive by loyalists of the Alaafin, as a way of ensuring the non-reincarnation of his wickedness. Another variant of the Gaa capture story is however a bit different. It says that the prime minister was looking for an antelope for ritual sacrifice and when Agboin came hawking kolanuts and told him her name, which in Yoruba translates into antelope, he wickedly asked her to be murdered in place of the animal.
I told this longish story and the preceding ones to establish how women are usually the albatrosses of great men in history. Celebrated Juju musician of post-war Nigeria, Ayinde Bakare, was reported to have been a victim of this age-long libidinous trap. Having gone for a gig in the Lagos Island area on October 1, 1972, while on the bandstand, a woman was said to have been positioned at a vantage point, and she winked coquettishly at the Juju maestro to arrest his attention. Bakare momentarily halted the musical session and walked to the backstage to meet the woman. He was never seen alive thereafter. Policemen retrieved his body days after from the lagoon and gave him and other bodies a mass burial. The ‘Bakare’ mark on his hand was what reminded a policeman who took particular notice of the incision, when report was made by his family at the police station, that the famous musician was one of the mass-buried bodies. Bakare was subsequently exhumed after twenty days and given a proper burial by his colleagues, Ebenezer Obey, I.K. Dairo, Sunny Ade, Adeolu Akinsanya and others.
Today, as it has been since the beginning of creation, women have remained the most poisonous bait deployed to whittle down the power of men. It is more efficacious if such a man has a burningly incontrollable libido. Women have been used to destroy empires, huge conglomerates and even homes. It was that same power that Spikes and Lewis apparently used on the richest man in black Africa. It is said that every man who has blood flowing in his groins cannot resist the incandescent flame of the libido and that when that candle is burning, the brain goes into hibernation mode.
Aliko Dangote is carrying his own cross of libido with Spikes and Lewis. He sure needs the same famous, celebrated brains that culminated in his financial wizardry and legendary business success now. It may not be outlandish to say that, like every man who had fallen prey to a woman’s bait before him, that famous cerebrum was in abeyance while the escapades were glowing. To get out of these entanglements, he needs same brains that made him the first in Africa. Now, as Africa’s most accomplished business mogul tries to extricate himself from his libidinous maze, who is the next victim?
Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.