On Wednesday, June 14, 1990, Princess Diana and Prince Charles attended their children’s school sports day. The two participated in their sons’ school’s parents’ race. Diana ran barefooted across the turf while Charles wore an apron. In the mothers’ race, Diana came third. Charles was amongst the last to reach the finishing line in the fathers’ race. Prince William, who was seven years old then, was part of his teams’ tug-of-war competitors. William’s team won. But that was not the story that made the front-page news the next day.
In the course of the day, William defied Diana’s orders and ran off to play with his friends. For doing that, Diana spanked William with a slap.
The next day, the Sun newspaper showed a picture of the slap as it landed on William’s face with the caption, “Wallop.” The Daily Mirror ran the same story with a screaming headline, “The slap that could change the world.” The newspaper went on to say society had brainwashed British parents into believing that any kind of punishment was wrong. “But there is a great difference between a slap from a loving parent, like Princess Diana, and corporal punishment,” the newspaper said.
Reading the headline in Nigeria, it got stuck in my head. I could not imagine how that slap had the potential to change the world. I thought about it then, and I still think about it now. Even if the slap damaged the brain of Prince William, could he end up becoming an erratic King of England? Could he, as King of England in, say, 2042, decide that it was time to retake Nigeria and make it once again a British territory? It sounded farfetched to me that such could happen. What if, in 2032, at the ripe age of 80, Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to wage nuclear war in Europe? What if he destroys most of the Western world and Europeans who escaped arrive in Africa? What if when the nuclear dust had settled, King William, living in a mansion on a hilltop in Plateau State, claimed the territories Britain once controlled after the 1884 Berlin conference?
That was how far my mind had gone since the incident at Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria, on Thursday, March 17, 2022. It was at the swearing-in of the brand-new Governor Charles Soludo. What the Soludo team billed as a low-profile event quickly turned into the talk of the nation when…