Sunday, 31 December 2006
Palms all sweaty
Buffeted by the winds of change
Staring into the abyss
Swirling below me
Wondering if I am ready
To step into the unknown
Look behind me
How did I get here?
Did I leave a mark ?
Or just a trail?
I turn again
To face the darkness
Can I make out a light?
Or is it just an illusion?
What is in store for me
In that foggy greyness?
I wonder yet again.
Will I be a better Father? Husband?
Son? Brother? Friend? Uncle?
Will I plant seeds
That will feed generations to come?
Will I deliver
On my promise? All my promises?
There is only one way to find out
There is only one way
I shake my arms
To relax myself
And to stop myself
Take some deep breaths
Say a quick prayer
And take a giant step
A giant leap of faith
Wish me well.
Thursday, 28 December 2006
I watched this for the first time today and I am not sure why Nigerians are upset about it. It describes Lagos as a filthy, crime ridden s$%^hole - which it is and at the end it also describes the people that fall for the scams as guilty as the scammers themselves - which they are. All in all I thought it was a very well balanced piece. What's the problem? If we are not prepared to face the reality we need to wake up all smell the spilled fuel from the punctured pipelines. If we do not like what is being said about Lagos, Nigeria, Nigerians why don't we do something about it? International exposure, scrutiny and ridicule are a great way to ensure that we do not get too complacent and comfortable wallowing in the filth -physical, commercial, spirtitual etc that surrounds us.
I read a very interesting article whilst I was in Nigeria recently about corruption and how Nigerians generally tend to deal with it. The basic premise is that a family member either through hard work or connections gets a high ranking job. Immediately there is a party in his honour, relatives come out of the woodwork galore, his sub ordinates look on with admiration as he sweeps up every Naira in sight, he donates millions to his church\mosque-no questions asked? after all miracles can happen) within months he is buying a larger house, numerous cars and various girlfriends, taking expensive vacations abroad. He has "landed" and is looked on with envy. That my friends is the problem. It is only when we start asking this person serious questions and shunning them socially that the behaviour and mentality will change.
The chap from the EFCC that was interviewed on the ABC programme was one of the most interesting Nigerians I have ever met. I was at a presentation he did last year and his zeal and commitment was second to none. He was particularly concerned about the image of Nigerian abroad due to these internet scammers so not surprising that EFCC is now raiding these cafes. More grease to their elbows. Whilst it is okay for us to criticise the EFCC as OBJs personal grudge settlers, can anyone tell me when in the history of Nigeria has there been more fear and paranoia amongst our so called rulers. Taking Tafa down alone makes them super heroes in my book. I only pray that within the next year we see more of these clowns - http://www.saharareporters.com/pn001.php?dpid=32 - exposed for what they are.
Until we rid ourselves of these cancers we cannot expect to live in a healthy society or be healthy ourselves.
Wednesday, 27 December 2006
And complain about our lot
The hand that we’ve been dealt
The roads we have to plough
Sacrifices we have to make
Burden we have to bear.
And then we raise our heads
Only to find that all around us
Are others who look upon our
So called miserable existence
With a certain sense of envy
Cursing their luck and circumstances
I ask Almighty God
To forgive me
Despite all that he has done
And continues to do
Saturday, 23 December 2006
My arms hang limply
By my side
I ache inside
I try to find things
To block the pain
Not go insane
Think to myself
No! not again
History repeating itself.
My trust was used
Flung in my face
It was my fault
I too, believed
I should have known
Been more astute
All that glitters
But Aries blood
It’s all or nothing
In or out
Out or in.
So now the deed is done
I cannot even tell you
How I feel
You barred the gate
You built a fence
You walked away
Or did you run?
Oh never mind
What’s done is done
We’ll meet again
But remember this
You had my trust
My hopes and dreams
You sold them off
To the lowest bidder
For this my friend
Your day will come
Your day will come
Your day will come.
And until then
I will reach inside
And fan my embers
Be whole again
Be strong once more
Ready for the next battle
It’s coming soon
I can feel it
I can feel it
I can feel it
It’s coming soon
And this time
I WILL BE READY.
Thursday, 21 December 2006
Wednesday, 20 December 2006
Anyway, I keep telling him that if only he cut down on the chocolates, doughnuts, fast food and actually got himself down to the gym seven days a week like me then one day he would be in as good a shape as me. He is actually starting to listen but is still a way off from catching up with me.
Anyway, you can see his picture here. http://bodynsoul.shutterchance.com/blog.php?itemRef=42961&dcode=31c6&view=y#latest
I will post details of my bank account later for those that want to make an advance payment on dowry.
Tuesday, 19 December 2006
Monday, 18 December 2006
By now I hope that you know that I am God fearing, Muslim , Yoruba boy. Like all such boys I was brought up by my parents to be fearful of many things. Herewith a short sample of a considerably long list :
- God - Obviously. Because without fear of him I could end up in politics
- Pool,pond, sea - because I would drown
- Cars - because invariably there would be a crash and they would get the dreaded phone call
- Girls- because they would lure me into a life of sin even worse than being a politician
- Dogs - because they would invariably take a fancy to my soft supple skin, bite me, I would get rabies and invariably die a slow horrible death
- Horses - because once long ago someone's uncle's, sister's , mother's brother had been kicked and subsequently died
- Motorbikes - same as cars but with even more guarantee of the dreaded phone call
- Cats- because for no reason they would gouge my eyes out leaving me permanently blinded for life
- Smoking - Cigarettes would give me lung cancer. One whiff of the stronger stuff would turn me mad. The give away being the burning red eyes.
- America - because there was no better place to be exposed to all the above dangers so it was inevitable that I would end up dead there.
Iyawo is half Nigerian, half English. The Nigerian bit is Ibo and Christian. This combination apparently affords her protection from and insulates her against all the things that are meant to drive me to an early grave. She is fearless and as you know man has to be a man especially when his woman is more man than he. If you get my meaning.I remember in the early days of our courting how I would gaze longingly at her as she whirled above my head in some funfair contraption or other. I can tell you that is not a good look for a man. Standing on the pavement and shouting up to his woman to be careful. Oh I saw the looks, the finger pointing and the muttering but I took it all in my stride. But slowly it started to get to me. After all am I fish or fowl?
So it was that we found ourselves in Dubai for some business do about 8 years ago. This is when I decided to take the bull by the horns. Not a real bull obviously because it would only gore me to death leading to an excuse for all our Yoruba relatives to come around and utter the dreaded words - "ki lon wanbe? Ta lo ron she? Ati so fun won pe ayo lon payon. Ehn. Bull. Oti o. (What the hell was he doing messing with a bull. Did we not tell his parents that it is this reckless joy that kills. See now. Who sent him message to the bull. I beg pass me some more small chops and the non alcoholic champagne so I can drown my sorrow".Now on this trip the company was sparing no expense- actually they were, but that is why they just call it extras when it is itemised on your bill. We had access to the works. Massage, camel rides, 4X4 racing, swimming, diving etc. Obviously taking part in any of these activities would result in my demise but I felt it was now or never. After all if I failed and died in Dubai the people back home would only get sketchy details thereby preserving some of my macho visage. It was time to be a man so when Iyawo teased me about my lack of spine I decided to show her the caliber of man she had married. I decided to go jet skiing.
To put it in context. Jet skiing is a great sport. In my humble opinion the Best way to take part in it is to watch it on TV or worst case from the shore. Being strapped to a jet ski and set adrift in the ocean was well, suicidal. And so it was that after a brief introduction along the lines of "this is a jet ski, this is a life vest, this is the emergency cutout button" " I will be right over there on the shore if you need me" that I found myself conquering one of my greatest fears. I mean I don't even take baths for fear of passing out and drowning (as you do). I mean I take showers but make sure that the water pressure is not so great that I would lose my footing, cracking my head on the taps and you know dying. Again.The thing is once you are strapped in it is hardly manly to then say "oh sorry mate. Big mistake. I just realised that I am a yellow bellied, lily livered coward". Especially with half naked women on the beach already admiring your manliness and all. No there was no turning back. It had to be done. So off I went but it soon became apparent that the jet ski functioned better when actually submerged in water. I therefore forced myself further out to sea. I must have gone a good ten or twenty feet out. (Don't judge me oh. Come try yourself and see). The feeling was exhilarating. I was on top of the world. I had finally conquered my fear of the sea. My fear of water. Nothing could hold me back. Except, it would seem, the rope that was used to keep the jet ski from floating away. Realising my error, the jet ski man (or bastard as I came to call him) calmly undid the rope allowing both the jet ski and I to travel much farther afield. He did reinforce the fact that he realised I was a novice and would therefore be keeping a close eye on me. Which was a comfort of sorts. I would have preferred both eyes but beggars.....
People, for a good fifteen minutes I threw caution to the wind and skied up and down the coastline. At one point I was so far out I thought I could see the Rock of Gibraltar but it turned out to be the hotel next to ours. But so what. I had finally conquered my fear. I was free. Half naked women shot me admiring glances as I made my way back to shore. Iyawo shot me warning glances as I made my way back to shore. One wave to them and you die.Never one to let sleeping dogs lie (they will only get fleas which will work their way into my bloodstream and poison me) I decided to share another one of my phobias with Iyawo. See i have this great fear of being smothered between Pamela Anderson's breasts, whilst Beyonce is pinning me down and Mariah Carey is in the background in a bikini begging me to rub baby oil into her back. Iyawo, remain strangely silent on ways to conquer this one. She somehow thinks I need help. As if.
Friday, 15 December 2006
I can also imagine that there are many frustrated (and tired) parents as well as one of the sub plots of autism is a very bad sleeping pattern. Some autistic children wake every hour on the hour and not just when they are babies either. We know of one lady with an eight year old son who will only eat white foods, that is the food has to be white and it must be served on a white plate, and to top it off he wakes up about 8 times a night. Imagine the stress of coping with that? (Count your blessings.)
Anyway as I was telling my sister this she mentioned that she had recently heard that one of her friend's sister had opened an autism school in Ikeja. Autism school? In Lagos. Not possible. I finally went over there today and I was gobsmacked. This lady has really created something great. The house is huge, with reasonable grounds (even a garden with grass!) and she has really laid out the rooms to cater for all their needs. Currently she has a music room, computer room, massage room, play room, several classrooms and so much more. In the garden is a trampoline and a series of raised walkways to help with their coordination ( a lack of being another one of the side effects).
I spent an hour chatting with her about what led her to this and it turns out her son is autistic and she just decided to grab the bull by the horns. She has studied, attended various seminars, workshops conferences etc and then put together a business plan which GT Bank has gladly financed. As a matter of fact the bank gave her three times the amount she was asking for in order to ensure that it was done properly and I can tell you the place certainly looks the business.
She currently has three pupils and three teachers so the kids are getting real one on one however she is expecting more students next year. She is planning to be in the UK next week and I will ask her permission to be more open about her and her school. Finally we discussed the setting up of the Nigerian Autistic Society in January of next year. Progress. Progress. Progress.
It is truly amazing what one person with the right will and spirit can accomplish. There is plenty of room for others like her. I wish her all the best and I hope to bring you more later.
I have grabbed an hour of internet time in the lovely Sheraton Abuja (yes I am being facetious) at the small price of N3k in order to do mails and a quick blog. I need to unload some of the stuff from the past 24 hours otherwise they might need to call a doctor and the men in the white vans for me (or leave me wandering the streets pushing a cart, foaming at the mouth, or worse elect me for the Senate). So this morning I woke up after a restless night. My A/c had not worked all night and I was too tired and afraid to phone for maintenance as this would have led to another saga. The first saga being me having the audacity to order room service at 9pm. When the food eventually arrived at 10.20 (no it was not haute cuisine- rice, plantain and fish) I was so boiling over with hunger and anger that I wolved it down only to realise later that it was the most tasteless junk I had shovelled down my gob since the pizza I had in NY last week. How can you make rice and stew tasteless? Make it for the Oyinbo palette. never mind your country man oh.
Anyway, I am an Aries and am one of those annoying people who no matter what mood I go to bed I wake up with a spring in my step and a song on my tongue (much to the annoyance of you know who as she claims she can never actually recognise the song. As if. If not for my 9-9 job I would give Luther a run for his money. Obviously he can't run at the moment. What with being dead and all). This morning, having taken a good fifteen minutes to straigthen my joints due to the hardness of the mattress, I did something I do not normally do for reasons of maintaining my sanity. I switched on the local news. I flicked between NTA and AIT. Most of it was of such bad quality it was difficult to tell what the report was on. Sometimes two reports merged into one with the reporter sitting there like a rabbit in headlights. Hmm, still no progress after 30 years? Have they not heard of teleprompter?
However when the reporter somberly faced announced that they were going to show some distressing scenes my ears perked up. I thought they were already showing the distressing scenes but if these were extra special that they had to announce a warning beforehand then count me in.
I then watched something that you rarely see in Western TV. Acts of violence so pure and savage that friends even balked when I told them the story. Basically there were two pieces. One showing some area boys loyal to some chap in Ibadan who took to the streets with cutlasses slashing everyone in sight. The bizarre thing about the film was it focussed on one particularly large chap walking down the middle of a busy road which cleared rapidly just slashing people as he went along. I mean really cutting people, arms, shoulders heads down the middle of a major thoroughfare. It was so real as to be unreal. Like when I watched the second jet fly into the WTC.
But there was more to come. The next story was about more troublemakers but this time they were apprehended by the Police on their way to commit some heinous deed. There was dramatic footage of police cars surrounding the suspects car and the occupants being forcefully ejected. The poor driver though bore the brunt of the coppers as he was mercilessly punched and batoned even as he was being dragged away. The thing was you could actually hear the sound (very clearly) of baton on skull. Ouch. I can see the influence of Western living on me now. Whereas before this sort of thing would be like - "so what?", now it actually makes a big impact. Just like how before I was the most enthusiastic when it came to killing the goats for the various Muslim festivals, now I am like "are you sure you are not contravening the goat's aninmal rights?". Which of course makes me very popular with the men about to do the contravening.
Why do they waste money creating programmes like Survivor Africa when all the raw material is already out there on the streets ready to be filmed. My people there is more to come oh. The Lagos primaries for Governor are upon us and as you would expect they went rather smoothly. Er not quite.
Wednesday, 13 December 2006
See the headline read something like "Katie and Tom arguing after fairy tale wedding". Oh pele oh you poor thing. Which I guess is fair enough. But the sub headline was the killer. It said something like "Katie is upset that Tom has invited his best man to come on their honeymoon". That poor girl. Is it me or is she in for a lot of upset along the way?
This is my fourth\fifth trip to the Big Apple and it never ceases to amaze me how it has changed (there is hope yet for Lagos I tell you). On my very first trip some 15 years ago I was chased down the street by some boys in da hood who were after my jewellery consisting of a wristwatch and a bracelet. I was only saved by jumping into a taxi and speeding off. I mean the driver sped off. Not me. Because obviously that would be theft. I could hardly complain about being mugged if I then went on to steal a taxi could I?
I then visited with my family not long after 9-11 and was amazed at the transformation. The streets were clean. The people were friendly. We walked around in the middle of the night without fear. It helped that there were heavily armed cops on every street corner but sill even the air smelt fresher. This is when I fell in love with the place. Also the fact that they had been considerate enough to ensure that I did not have to break the MANCODE by having to ask for directions. How difficult is it? Avenues and Streets. They cross each other. Once you get your coordinates. You are there.Brilliant.
So this last weekend with the £ gaining in strength and Virgin waving a return ticket for £235 in my face I decided this was one offer I could not refuse. This time was different though. This time the whole place was flooded with pasty faced tourists from all corners of the United Kingdom loading up on cheap goods. Around every corner it seems was an Irish person, Scouser, Manc., Brummie and my favourites – the East end wide boys having a larf. Half price? Luvly jobbly.
Some stores had queues around the block with security guards announcing how long it would take the humble shopper to get into the promised land. Now this hanging out might be a British speciality and part of the national psyche but it is at times like this that my conk Naija blood rises to the top. Queue ke? In the cold? Olorun maje. Keep your cheap electricals, your half price suits, your giveaway designer perfumes, your 4 carat jewelery. As long as I can have easy access to your Dunkin Donots them home boy is good to go.
To say that America is the land of plenty is to state the obvious. America is the land of plenty sha. My goodness. The malls are packed, the shops are packed, the department stores are packed. The streets are packed. No wonder they need 50 storey hotels and offices. I am surprised the whole place just doesn’t spontaneously combust and explode. I did see some people that are soon going to explode but again in America that is stating the obvious. Who the hell needs to eat a triple burger with everything, fries, onion rings and a half gallon of sugared water? Put your hands down!
My favourite part of the whole trip was walking around the corner of Macy’s to be confronted by about fifty Police cars with their lights blazing. There was me thinking Osama must have heard about the sales. But no. According to the cop I asked they were doing a show of force to ensure that Osama knew who was the boss. I am sure he must have been quaking in his mountain hole in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, California Lagos? – you just never know do you?
Having enjoyed four days of just walking and shopping (amazing how I can do that given the right environment) it was time to depart. And so it was that I left the land of excess with my excess luggage (wetin? No be my money?) to return to good ole blighty.
On to London for a day and now in Lagos which is of course where things go from the ridiculous to the absurd in the blink of an eye. Let’s start at the airport. Firstly, well done to FAAN for a fantastic job at MM Airport. It is not yet world class but you come in, the place is spotless, the AC is blowing you hither and thither ( I always wanted to use that term) and the travelators and escalators whisk you straight into the welcoming arms of the Immigration people. A few questions later, Stamp stamp. Next. Fantastic. I really do enjoy flying into Lagos now.
So anyway off to the loo. My stomach has been worrying me. I know that it has been worrying those of you that know me for a while but that is another discussion. I am sure it has nothing to do with the Burger and chips in Macy’s Tuesday lunchtime, followed by Thai pea soup and then syrup spongecake in the Virgin lounge, followed by pasta chicken meal on the plane, followed by sardine and tomato scrambled eggs with soft white bread Wednesday afternoon at home, then a Mexican meal to celebrate my daughter’s birthday in the evening and topped off with Shepherds pie and cheesecake in the Virgin lounge. I am sure it was propably the glass of water I had sometime in that 48 hour bingefest ( I hate that stuff. It interferes with all the sugar in my system).
Anyway I digress. Off to the toilet following the sign saying you know - Toilets. That was my first mistake. That sign led me to toilets all right. But they were ex toilets. They used to be toilets but they were no longer toilets. Now they were just locked doors still with the Male\ Female logos attached. To the front desk to ask. Pointed into a corridor down which was a light which luckily led to toilet cubicles, Two assistants. One cleaning a urinal, the other not. One empty cubicle. Unflushed. Seat up. Puddle on the floor. Make eye contact with Pot Idol. Can you please clean this. Credit to him he jumps to it. Place is wiped , mopped and clean in a Flash (no pun intended. Obviously they did not use Flash, they used Omo like all good toilet cleaners).
Then I made the classic mistake. Started my business before making sure I had all the necessary requirements for a successful completion. Coat hook. Check, Clean floor. Check. Clean seat. Check. Start procedure. To my side is a devise designed to hold three toilet rolls. I say designed to hold because after some investigative fiddling and fumbling I realised that it contained none. Nada. Zilch. The procedure has already commenced and that programme stops for no one. There is however a kettle of water. This takes me back in the day. But not far enough. This is 2006 dammit.
So I make my distress known and am pleased to hear one of the Pot Idols running off to source my supply. He reappears not too long later with a half roll for which I am very grateful. Unfortunately my good fortune turns out to be bad luck for the lady in the next toilet. She had no option but to resort to the bucket. I know because the boys were discussing her options. Apparently she had two. One of them was Bob Hope and the other………….
An hour later luggage finally delivered we are on the road. To nowhere. The difference between landing at 5am and being on the road and landing at 6am and leaving the airport at am is, well, like night and day. If you leave at 6am you are fully ensconced under your duvet in your flophouse of choice in VI by 7am. If you land at 7am you are fully ensconced in a traffic jam on the way to VI by 9am.
I fall unconscious into bed, or should I say the rock hard rectangular thing with pillows on in the middle of my room. When I wake I decide I might like to actually do some work to repay my company for this jet set lifestyle that I lead. In order to do this I need to leave the hotel to go and see some Clients. This is when the trouble starts.
On my way out of the hotel I decide to grab a bite to eat. Feel some pity for me now. It had been a whole 6 hours since my last meal. Aha come on. I could feel myself wasting away. So off to the restaurant. On my very first stay at this hotel I had informed the restaurant manager that whilst most of their Clientele were Oyinbo and could survive on bland gruel. My sophisticated Naija palate required spice to survive and henceforth all my meals should be prepared accordingly. So when I placed my order with the waitress I informed her of this arrangement . Coincidentally, in walked the restaurant manager and as soon as she spied me she was off to the kitchen to further ensure that my palette was fully catered for. Exactly 20 minutes later I was holding an ice cold glass to my tongue after having devoured possibly the hottest Egusi soup ever. My face was dripping with sweat. My shirt was soaked. Two glasses of Chapman lay empty before me but still no relief. Damn it was good.
So fully fortified, at least for a couple of hours (look I have a high metabolism. Its just the rest of my body that can’t seem to grasp this) I jump into the car for the day’s adventures. What will the day bring I wonder? What drama will unfold before me? What could possibly go wrong today? To be continued.
Monday, 11 December 2006
Thursday, 30 November 2006
So it is that I have battled with Global warming, the Iraq war, the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, the Iran nuclear programme, the axis of evil. But lately the thing that has kept me awake the most is something even more perplexing than all the above. Yes, it is the Tom Cruise- Katie Holmes marriage. You too right?
So here's my problem:
- Tom is married to the very lovely Mimi Rogers for years. No kids. They divorce.
- Tom is married to Nicole Kidman. No kids. They adopt. One black. One white. (Aww. How cute. ) Anyway they divorce.
- Rumours start flying round that Tom is gay.
- Tom goes on Oprah and does a couch thing professing his love for a girl\woman.
- Nicole marries drunk, druggie country guy and gets pregnant. Proves she can.
-Tom marries girl (Katie) who used to have his poster on her wall when she was a child.
- Katie gets pregnant very quickly. Has baby.
-Tom marries Katie and apparently grows six inches during the ceremony (according to the pictures)
- Everyone lives happily ever after.
Except yours truly, who lies awake wondering how come the first two wives did not get pregnant. Why adopt with Nicole? Why not just you know, knock her up? Surely much more fun. How much is in for Katie? How long before the "irreconcilable" differences?
My brain hurts.
Sunday, 26 November 2006
Saturday, 25 November 2006
like it had been there before
Thursday, 23 November 2006
Anyway, I was at the barbers with these two young black guys. What struck me about them was how they were almost identikit stereotypes. Jeans, crisp white trainers, t- shirt, jeans jacket \ hoodie. They were both on the phone and it was easy to ascertain that they were talking to their laydeez.
I then started thinking about the loss of individuality (IMO) amongst this demographic. I get a sense that it is better (and far easier?) to conform to the thug life , lover boy, smooth operator stereotype than to establish any sort of credible counter identity. Of course they were younger than me and are of a different generation but I seem to be seeing the same person everywhere I go. I wonder where the revolutionaries are going to come from?
This trend has now found its way to Nigeria where the kids are now going around flashing their underwear at all and sundry (a sin in my day. I could not even leave home unless my shirt was tucked in and I had a belt on). My nephew arrived back from school recently with his tie askew, his belt done very loosely and his trousers tucked under the flap of his trainers. I asked him what he thought he was playing at and he said that I needed to get with the programme and that this was the "new school" way of dressing. It showed that he was "cool and one of the homies". He then asked me for money for some food. I politely declined as I am old school, and so is my money.
Black boys in the UK are generally noted as lagging behind in the educational system (although last week it was reported that they had been overtaken by white boys- hurrah) and as such are not really challenged educationally. Iyawo's friend sent her son to a very expensive private school in North London despite the fact that she was a single mother just scraping by herself (no judgements. just stating the facts) but she wanted to ensure he got the best education possible (naija style). She arrived at school one day to check on his progress to find her son sitting at the back of the class doing some drawing whilst the rest of the class was being taught a lesson. When she challenged the teacher she was informed that as her son liked art and drawing they basically left him to get on with it whilst they carried on with their lessons. "Is this a one-off" she enquired of her son. "Oh no mum, it happens every day". She immediately moved him to another school.
So what does the future hold for black male youth? Who has the answers? Have they been totally brain washed by the nu media- mtv (where all the women have perfect teeth and breasts. My perosnal gripe but that's another blog) or can they still be saved and if so how? What incentive is there for them to be different? And is different really all that attractive anyway?
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
So I call home and am told the following : yesterday morning, my sister arrived at my parent's house where she runs a small gift shop to be met by two representatives from Nepa. This is not unusual and has become an almost monthly routine. This time there is an old timer and a new guy. They have come to disconnect the power. Again. Now my parents have lived in that house for over 30 years. Sometime two years ago, despite getting a monthly bill averaging N20k, for God knows how long, they suddenly received a bill for N550k for one month. Now my Dad used to be a banker and he is very sharp on his numbers but even my mum who was not a banker could recognise what we in the West would politely call an "anomaly" or more crudely a "cock up".
Since then it has been a case of file in hand trips to all the local Nepa offices as well as the Area office in Ijora. Promises are made, credits are promised, mistakes are to be rectified but till today- well jack. Which is why these two goons show up. Every time they are shown the file, told to go to Ijora to check the record of my parents visits and the accompanying paperwork which proves that a mistake was made but you know visiting Ijora would bring an end to the "social visits" for these clowns so the game continues. After all baby needs milk and so forth.
Yesterday however the game changed. This new goon arrives as my mother is trying to feed my brother's new baby. My sister arrives to find him waiting and he says to her that how can this woman (my mother) be wasting his time, siting upstairs and keeping him waiting downstairs. Who does she think she is? blah, blah,blah. He should just cut the power and show her who's boss. This is when the torch paper was lit.
Now let me say if you met myself and my siblings you would think we were the most balanced of adults and must be a source of pride and joy to our parents. Which of course we are :->. However, if you want see our other face, cross the line and abuse one of us or our parents and the gates of hell will open ( or as Fela put it, rat dey sleep, cat go bite him tail. wetin he dey find?)
So it was that this idiot felt the full venom of the family. My mother had to leave the baby feeding, my brother had to be restrained and my sister spent the day having severe palpitations after the tongue lashing that was dished out to the idiot - hence her desperation to head for the land of the free.
So my people, not only are we harassed outside the house by police, Lastma, area boys, dirt, smoke, street traders etc but now, even our private abode, our last refuse, our sacred sanctum, is now no longer free of harassment (forget about armed robbers in the night. What about these armed robbers during the day?). These people (my parents) are retired, they have served their time, they pay their (correct) bills on time. They just want to sail into the sunset with their children and grand kids around them savouring what is left of the fruit of life. But no. They cannot even do that in peace. What is a nation to do?
I will be in Nigeria in two weeks and I am just praying with all my might that he shows up again. Make una keep an eye on AIT news for further updates. See what I will do to the useless vagabond. Idiot. Conconbility. Oloshi.
We finally made it to the park and as we got there, the rain stopped.
Five minutes later I was standing in the middle of the park with the kids running round doing their Power Rangers thing, the grass was glossy from the recent rains, the sun was shining although it was still bitterly cold, the sky went from a dull grey to a vibrant blue, an aeroplane roared past overhead carrying the lucky ones to some exotic destination (or Manchester:->), a man walked his dogs, horses huddled in the next field, and it suddenly occurred to me that despite the :
haters (seen a lot on recent blogs)
work (nuff said)
stress of life and living
strange calls from strange people in distant call centres
playing cat and mouse with the Traffic warden ninjas
worry about the future
worry about the present
worry about the past
over and above it all - the world is, and can be, such a beautiful place.
I thank God for his blessings.
Saturday, 18 November 2006
Now there are many ways to light my torchpaper. One is to disturb my sleep. Two is make my car messy and three well mention of the M word. Why oh why did she have to go there. But you know your boy is loving if nothing else so I thought I would play along (spend some quality time with Iyawo. After all no be for better, for Madonna na him we talk for wedding vow?.)
Anyways it only took two and a half minutes for me to storm out of the room screaming. I just cannot bear the sight of the woman and her coming over all coy and stuttering (how many gazillions of interviews has this woman done?) She knows how to play them so her pretending that she was lost for words and a bit flustered was all it took for me to go off on one. I used every profanity I could thing of and even made some up. At one point I think I was even speaking in tongues I was so mad.
So why my irritation. The fact that Madonna can sail into Malawi, do a few choreographed dances with the natives (did anyone else see her director in the corner of the picture telling the kids when to rise up (apparently spontaneously?Oh I cant wait for the video!)) , splashdown £1m and then whisk out of there with a baby just overwhwelms me. I was on BBC radio a few weeks ago giving them my views on this whole fiasco. I thought the slave trade had been abolished? There has been a lot of argument back and forth , pros and cons but I am sorry there were so many other ways that she could have helped that baby and the many more thousands across Africa have a better life - like sponsorship, raising awareness, doing a concert.
My dislike for the woman goes a long way back. I studied Music Business as a moinor in college and had the opportunity to meet with some of the boys from the NY scene and they would always regale us about Madam and how she would use a lot of the black talent that she came across in the clubs, not give them credit etc. The most obvious was the Vogue which apparently gay guys had been doing in NY. She heard about it, went to see it and next thing you know -another million dollars in the bank. Any credit to the source? Dream on.
The whole adoption thing makes me sick and apoplectic with rage. And the authorities in Malawi are not excused from my rage and frustration by the way. So the baby is going to have a better life? On whose terms? Since when does living in a big house in England automatically equate to a better life.? The real clincher for me is that having gone to all this trouble to buy the baby, when the baby finally arrived - the very next morning, that is the morning following his arrival in a strange country, surrounde by strangers, in a strange home- she left him alone to go out to the gym for her workout ( I guess there is only so much bonding that is needed once you have paid for the goods and she does have her "looks" to worry about).
God helps us all if this is where our world is heading.
On Fox news this morning the forensic expert from the trial again defended OJ and said there was no way he alone could have killed Ron and Nicole. Ron put up a hell of a fight, there was little or no blood on OJ besides a the little found on his sock, the discarded glove (which spectacularly backfired on the prosecution) and the prints on the Bronco. Even for CSI this did not add up. Based on the crime scene OJ would have been covered head to toe in blood. No bloody clothing was ever found (he did not have time to dispose of it. Based on this I think it is fair to ask for people to step out of their comfort zone and contemplate the fact that whilst he was a wife beater and generally as far away from the "hero" image that had been foisted on to him, maybe he did not kill those people. So who did?
The forensic scientist reckons it would have taken at least two people to commit the murders. OJ was strong but Ron was no slouch and put up a good fight therefore it should be safe to assume that whilst one person was fighting with him another was on Nicole? If one of these was OJ's son then it would make sense that OJ might have rushed over to the scene, saw the situation and hustled his son and accomplice out of there hence no blood on him? The notorious LA police led by Mark Fuhrmann had a bee in their bonnet about nailing OJ and therefore never really followed up on other leads.
Apparently OJ is about to cash in by doing a TV interview next week and also releasing a book -apparently along the lines of "let's assume that I did commit the murders, how did I do it ?etc"( I did say before that he was an odious human that lost all touch with reality a long time ago. But then again is that not what Americans do to their super heroes? Having schooled, worked and lived in the US for 13 years I have seen this up close and personal. Stars are cossetted, even from high school, and so by the time they hit the pros they need someone to wipe their ass because they can no longer do it themselves. And there is always a volunteer).
I look forward to hearing what he has to say on the interview and the general reaction from the public. Fox has already started to fan the flames. I suspect there might be some rioting somewhere down the line. Wait and see.
Thursday, 16 November 2006
Anyways what I really wanted to say is that it looks like they are going to get the top five candidates together for a debate after all. Broadcast live. This is fantastic. I am so excited. I tell you this our democracy is starting to take those baby steps I keep talking about.
Read all about it here.. http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/cover/november06/16112006/f316112006.html
Does anyone have the email address for Silverbird so that we can start lobbing questions into the pool and maybe also getting some intelligent people on the panel to ask Reverend Chris a few questions. Otherwise I fear we might end up with "Rev. Chris, you are a great man. I cannot tell you I much I have admired your work. That first album was genius. Shame about that little copyright issues but anyway on to more important matters. How soon after becoming President do you think you will start handing out contracts. Let me say again, I am your biggest fan" etc etc.
Wednesday, 15 November 2006
I remember thinking, oh my God, when I heard that the Vagina Monologues, has been performed in Naija. The fundamentalists must have been turning in their fundamentals.
I hope that this leads to a greater openness about these and other so called taboo subjects as our democracy matures. I am not saying we should go all out like the developed countries - a bit of modesty never killed anyone - but it would be nice to be able to hear women express views about their sexuality more openly. Coincidentally, she is not the only victim of rape by an uncle, friend, family member that I have read about. It seems more common than we realise and I guess these people got away with it previously because it would never have been discussed or admitted (how many parents discuss sex ed. with their teenagers in Naija. At least to make them aware of what to beware of).
When we went to Naija recently for hols I sat my girls down and explained to them that unless I gave them the signal they were not to make any contact (besides being polite and saying hello)with the various "uncles" they would surely come in contact with. I was gobsmacked at how one uncle latched on to my 13year old after a few shots of the demon drink.
More grease to your elbows Overwhelmed Naija Babe. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by your writing. Keep up the good, no, great work. Open the doors, kick down the barriers, set the pace for others to follow. Wish I was as brave as you.
I was just reading about the impeachment of yet another governor and something that one of my uncles said struck me. He said that I should not sit on the sidelines and complain about leadership and leaders in Naija (which I do often and vociferously. Will have to watch the old blood pressure when we move to Naija) if I was not prepared to join in the war.
This was based on my complaining about the lack of depth in most of the people we have "elected" into public office. I remember in the early days of our democracy reading about people that had actually forged school\college certificates. I am not saying that getting a degree from an Ivy league school (or any school for that matter) is the end all and be all, but to have no further education and then lie about it surely weakens the very moral fibre meant to hold up a leader (moral fibre? in naija? this bobo is really a dreamer).
Another point my uncle made is that we middle class Yorubas like to make a lot of noise about this injustice, that and the other but when it comes to it we never step up to the plate. How can you complain about these "area boy" governors when you are not prepared to make the necessary scarifices up to and including giving your life?". Life keh? No be me oh.
A typical person like me going to tell their family that I want to run for "office" will be met with "Olorun maje" (God forbid). Oh you should have been there when my uncle informed my grandparents he was planning to join the Police force some thirty years ago because he wanted to make a change and felt he had something to offer. They were like "egba mi oo". Hen, after all your education (university degree)? Oti o, etc etc. Time to call inthe alfas for some prayers because obviously he must be troubled.
In their minds this career path was not for someone of his ilk i.e. educated. Nevertheless he stuck to his guns (pardon the pun) and actually used his education and intelligence to rise through the ranks and ultimately did make a change. Since then other members of the family have also followed suit.
The point of all this is that I went out to dinner with Iyawo last night in our neck of the woods and she was saying how much she was going to miss our little burb, the whole vibe -peaceful, calm etc. It then occurred to me that in all developed democracies lots of people had made a lot of sacrifices, the benefits of which we are currenly enjoying. What would have happened for example if at the first sighting of the red Indians the British had turned back from America. "I say, I don't like the look of those people. Let's get back home to blighty and a cup of Earl Grey, shall we old boy?"
I think of all those who have died in order for the black person (or person of colour) to be able to walk the streets freely on the streets of the US - Martin Luther King, Malcolm X , JFK etc. Whilst the US \ UK is now viewed as a mecca (check out the queues at the embassies) what would have happened if both Martin, Malcolm et al had limited their visions to just their congregations and not used it for a wider purpose?
What about Dele Giwa, Ken Saro Wiwa, Fela? (just occurred to me that two of them are Yoruba so maybe I am being too hard on us). Are these the change engineers of our democracy. Do we recognise them as such? I give kudos to my Aunty, Mrs Jade Akande, for organising the Mother's march in Lagos demanding action when we had the plane crashes last year.
And then I wonder who of my generation is prepared to lay their lives down in Nigeria today so that future generations can benefit. I take a long hard look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I can make a change. What can I do? What can I change? What can I contribute to this young democracy to help it grow up healthy and strong? Am I prepared to make sacrifices - family, money, health and maybe even life so that my children enjoy a better Nigeria?.
I want to believe I can. And you?
Monday, 13 November 2006
Anyway I believe that they are narrowing it down to the top five as this txt voting process develops. My challenge to Silverbird is for them to go one step further and get all these guys into a studio for a live debate and questions by a panel as well as a section of the unwashed masses.
I am not in a position to say who is the most credible of the contenders as it is difficult to judge their records (most of the info I have on them has come from their adverts in newspapers whenever they build a stretch of road from their house to their office or to their village, otherwise I also see them in Ovation magazine celebrating one event or another and spraying public funds) but I am sure there are many qualified people who could be gathered together to ask questions like :
- what is your past record and why does that make you fit to run for this office
- what is your plan for the Education sector
- how would you enhance the health sector
- how would you protect innocent lives through proper management and regulation of the aviation sector
- what would you do if the price of oil fell to a level where we could no longer rely on oil revenues (besides crying cap in hand to Opec)
- other countries have diversified from totally focusing on oil revenues (dubai)? what other options are you looking at for growing additional revenue streams for the federal govt.
- what were the last ten major contracts that you awarded (if a serving gov.) and were they actually completed
- what are your plans for lifting the morale and public image of the Nigerian Police Force
- what are your views of the EFCC and the ICPC and how do you plan to tackle corruption if elected
- what are your plans for raising the profile of Nigeria as a worthy destination for world travellers
- the budget continues to grow year on year. How would you ensure that the budget was properly managed?
- what are your views on setting up an Audit office that reviews every contract awarded by Fed. & state govts over a certain amount to ensure that they are completed
These are just some of the immediate ones that come to mind. I am sure that there are others. I would be very keen to see these great men - sans bodygaurds, advisors, sychophants and other hangers on actually stand up and speak for themselves. I notice that there are websites and even blogs cropping up for the candidates. I wonder how much they are actually involved or if it is just another form of "flattery" PR.
The public would then vote on the best two and these two would then go head to head as they do in the US. After all are we not practicing the same dem all crazy?
Sunday, 12 November 2006
So what has led to this? Obviously there are the shamen who see it as a good business opportunity - give me all your salary and I will guarantee you a son, promotion, bigger house, kill your enemies and generally make you a bigger dick than you already are. I cannot tell you the number of Pastors, Brothers, Reverends and other such figures I have met recently. It seems out of date now for people to just want to call themselves Mr so and so. Even Chief and Prince are not as fashionable titles. And good luck to them.
But I also feel strongly that a lot of people, especially in Naija, are realising how really fragile life is. We have always been more aware of this than most other countries due to the incidence of armed robbers, car crashes and now plane crashes but I feel people now realise that there is nowhere else to turn (certainly not to the politicians\government who are meant to protect us).
Let me illustrate. On my trips to Naija I always have the privilege of being collected from the airport by an armed undercover policeman in civilian clothes. Due to arriving at 5 am in the morning these trips are usually uneventful. We make our way to the hotel relatively quickly over third mainland bridge (a view which still brings a lump to my throat- to and fro) . On this particular trip I decided to stop over in Suru Lere to say hello to my folks and so we found ourselves arriving into that area by Muson centre where ten lanes of traffic try to blend into one in rush hour.
The general modus operandi here is to move from lane to lane to get yourself into pole position and get out of there as fast as possible. On this day it just so happened that the lane next to where the danfo drivers were illegally picking up passengers was free so our driver headed down the lane as far as possible until we got blocked in.
Along comes an area youth, one of the danfo boys, who takes offence that we dare to be in "their" lane and starts banging on the bonnet. The escort tells him to stop and he wanders off only to do the same on his way back. He is again told to stop, but continues. The escort winds down the window and asks him again to stop (rather politely) I have to add. Naturally he refuses so the escort gets out of the car at which stage he runs off. We think this is the end of the matter. Wrong.
Before the escort can get back in the car the youth reappears from the rear with a broken bottle which he starts jabbing in the direction of the escort. Seeing no alternative ( and as a last resort, trust me these guys are not keen on pulling arms in public places) the escort pulls out his weapon and cocks it. This time the youth scrambles and the escort starts backing towards the car in order for us to get away. Next thing the youth reappears with about half a dozen area boys all bearing cement blocks and broken bottles. I can feel this getting out of hand. One of them yanks open the driver's door and tries top hit him with a brick. The escort is waving the gun wildly only to see them duck behind danfos and reappear with even more boys. Eventually the driver has no choice than to get out and give chase ( he is a copper as well, but unarmed). So basically I am left in the car by myself whilst both of them chase these lunatics off.
Now for the really great part. The driver has chased off one boy in one direction, the escort has chased off another group in a different direction and then a third group appears behind the car and the following conversation ensues. (Bear in mind that the windows are tinted in the rear so they cannot see me). One area boy to another, "I think we should set it on fire." Other area boy "Maybe we should ". Another area boy "There's too much traffic". First area boy " I still think we should set it alight". This goes on for a good two to three minutes whilst I am sitting there like a lame duck (George Bush thinks he has problems!). To get out is not even an option as the "Oga" would have become the target of their anger and "frustration" (look it's almost midday and we have not caused any trouble ? how can we continue to call ourselves area boys? who is going to respect us if this continues ?)".
Anyway they finally decide that setting fire to the car in broad daylight on a main road with lots of traffic around might not be such a good idea and the sight of the armed escort returning helps them to make up their minds as they scatter in all directions. So we got lucky.
Now I imagine that this situation is not unique to me as I am sure most people go through some form of life threatening scenario at least once a week - building collapsing, fires, okada crashes, rapists, danfo and molues without brakes, lack of medical care etc. Based on this I can see why there is a new found fervour to seek out a higher order. After all who can else and where else can you turn to.
I am not ashamed to say that me myself barged right to the front of the queue to get God's attention during this five-ten minutes of madness. I was like yo I need to speak to God and I need to speak to him now!!! Very Jack Bauer like.
God bless Nigeria.