◗ 24hrs to Easter, Nigerians share experiences of how they made fools of spouses, family members and friends on April Fools’ Day
VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA and ESTHER OKORIE
The first day of April each year is celebrated as April Fools’ Day. Also called All Fools’ Day, it is celebrated all over the world as a day filled with and full of practical jokes and general silliness.
As customary in Nigeria and most parts of the world, people try to outwit one another with various pranks. Practical jokes! You cannot blame them. There is no other day in the year that one is allowed to legally play such silly pranks and jokes on co-workers, friends and family members, without any consequence whatsoever, than on April 1. Trust Nigerians. This year’s which comes up tomorrow and which coincides with the Easter day, for the first time, in living memory, is not likely to be any different.
But who knows what pranks our people are going come up with tomorrow? Who knows what jokes they are going to play on one another, in the spirit of Easter? Who knows who else they are going to say rose up from the dead, apart from Jesus Christ? You can never tell. This is why you need to be a little more cautious or skeptical tomorrow since anybody may try to tickle your fancy with a hoax of some kind.
Pranks Nigerians play on April Fools’ Day
It was in the spirit of April 1st that a Nigerian lady who lives abroad, decided to play some prank on her mum on Whatsapp platform some years ago. Others would have said they are pregnant or impregnated someone, if a man, or that they were expelled from school. But Tina (as the lady is called) did none of that. Instead she lied to her mum that she had been a single mother all the while she was overseas and the shame of it is the reason she had not been able to come home since she travelled. According to her, her mother nearly fainted over what she thought was an abomination, before she quickly intervened to say that it was all a hoax, an April Fools’ joke.
In Tosan Otokuefor’s case, he played a birthday prank on his best friend on April Fools’ Day. He said: “I ignored my best friend like I had forgotten her birthday. She called me several times to know where I was so we could go out together. All this while she didn’t know I had been in the house trying to prepare for the surprise party. I called her to come out some hours later and I made her go to a restaurant to buy snacks. On ordering the snacks, I pretended that I forgot my wallet. So I urged her to leave so we could pick my wallet from home. She was so upset that she didn’t say a word to me. On getting to her house she asked me if I knew what today’s date was, I said no. Just then, I signaled to all her friends to come out and she almost urinated on herself owing to shock.”
Barrel Olori did not think of the consequence when she played a fast one on his father, on April Fools’ Day, 2006. According to him, he woke very early and ran to his father’s room banging on his door to tell him that their only car he loved so much had been stolen by thieves.
“Out of shock, my father jumped out of bed and ran downstairs,” Olori recalled. “I followed him to keep up the act. He ran outside the gate and started asking neighbours if they saw a red Mercedes Benz car come out of the gate, and they said that no red car had passed. He kept on asking questions almost to the point of shedding tears. He dragged out a neighbour of ours that told him that he hadn’t seen any car drive out of our compound to go and show him where we usually park our cars. He did only for him to see the red car still calmly sitting in the parking lot. He was speechless. He looked at me, wanted to talk but decided not to, swallowed hard and walked calmly back into the house without uttering a word even as I kept on laughing and saying, ‘Daddy, don’t mind me, today is April Fools’ Day. I wanted to know how you would react if that were to happen.’”
On last year’s April Fools’ Day, Ojei nearly drove his friend crazy when he lied to him that someone who owed him N20, 000 was with him and wanted to pay him the money in cash. “My friend was so excited on the phone and immediately raced to our house the moment he dropped my call. In fact, he came with his shirt unbuttoned and on two different pairs of slippers. I asked him to sit down and wait for the person. I also sat down with him to engage him in small talks while we waited. After about 30 minutes, he asked where the person was and I told him it is April Fools’ Day. In fact, he fought with me afterwards.”
Though it has been a long time, Lawrence Odumaya , a paint distributor, still remembers vividly as if it were yesterday of how he played an April Fools’ Day prank, some years ago, on a fellow paint distributor
“My friend likes to supply paints,” he said. “I called him to supply 10 drums of one of the expensive paints that I felt that he would like to make a lot of profits from. I sent him an address he was to take them to, which was quite a distance. When he got there, he called me but I asked him to take them further some blocks away. I then called him to ask if he had come along with the invoice and receipts of the paints. He said he did. At that point, I told him that it was a prank and wished him Happy April Fools’ Day. He was so angry with me that for months he did not speak to me till we made up.”
Narrating his own story, Wisdom Obi remembered how, on April Fools’ Day of two years ago, he had called and asked one of his friends to leave his house quickly and take a bike to a certain bus stop “because one of our mutual friends whom he knew very well was involved in a ghastly motor accident at that particular bus stop. On getting there, he was panicking and asked where our friend was. I was standing at the bus stop with two of our other friends to make it look like it was real. It was then we all shouted April Fools to him. Some people who saw him earlier looking worried, on realizing what we had done to him, laughed at him. Initially, he pretended to be angry with us but suddenly burst into laughter at the end of which he vowed never to be taken for such a ride again.”
In 2017, James Ekene, a student said he was in school and it was raining heavily on that April 1 morning when he called one of his friends to inform her of a sudden class quiz fixed by one of their lecturers, warning her that it carried 30 marks. “I told her to do whatever it would take to get to school that morning, adding that the test was to start in 7 minutes. She got to the class quite alright only to realize that it wasn’t true and that I made a fool of her. Having been heavily drenched by the early morning rain, she thought of how to revenge and decided to come to my lodge and lay down on my bed with her body and clothes dripping water. Of course, she soaked my foam in the process.”
April Fools’ Day tragedies
Some tragedies had been recorded in times past on April Fools’ Day. For instance, some years ago in Lagos, a young trader simply identified as Emeka was expecting some delivery of some consignments from the East. On that fateful day, a friend who knew about it called him very early in the morning to inform him that the goods he was expecting had arrived at one of the branches of a popular transport company in Lagos. Emeka hurried out of the house to go and take delivery of the goods since the people he was going to supply the goods to, were already waiting impatiently. To beat the usual Lagos heavy traffic, he picked and paid for the services of a commercial motorcyclist. But on the way they suddenly ran into a trailer and it ran over them before the driver could stop. They died instantly. But lo and behold, it was all a hoax sprung on him in the spirit of April 1.
Again, some years ago, a young lady, while trying to play an April Fools’ prank on his family members started shouting early in the morning that their house was on fire. In a bid to rush out along with other members of the family, her thoroughly frightened mother, slipped and fell and had some fractures. She was rushed to the hospital and after some medical exams she was diagnosed to have sustained a serious spinal cord injury.
Origin of April Fools’ Day
There are many theories about how April Fools’ Day started. There is a claim that April Fools’ Day began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. Festivals marking the start of the New Year were celebrated on the first day of April because March 25 fell within the Holy Week. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar during the 1500s moved the New Year to January 1. Those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate New Year (previously celebrated on the 1st of April) on the wrong date were booed as “April fools.” Some believe the first association between April 1 and the playing of tricks can be found in Geoffrey Chaucer’s narrative, The Canterbury Tales. In “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” the Fox tricks proud rooster, Chanticleer on “syn March bigan thritty dayes and two.”
Although Chaucer probably meant 32 days after March (May 2), many readers are said to have misunderstood the line to mean March 32. And since March has only 31 days, so the 32nd of it could only mean April 1.