Monday, 15 October 2007

Youth entertainment in Nigeria

Oh these kids of today. They do not realise how well they have it. 24 hours TV, fifty + channels, cinemas, shopping malls etc. Back in my day (hey you at the back don't start nodding off!) .... Anyway I am amazed at the choices available to the kids today. With the access to all this media and stimulation one hopes they pick up on the positive messages rather than get sucked into the more questionable stuff on offer. Trust me it is all out there.

My inspiration for this blog was a chance meeting with a chap called Denrele (pictured above with you know who - for more photos go to her blog) who hosts a lot of programmes for an outfit called Soundcity. These programmes are then aired across the local channels in Nigeria - AIT, NTA,MITV, Silverbird (I tell you again these kids are enjoying oh). The last week spent in the company of Denrele has been a real eye opener. The guy is a whirlwind of activity and nervous energy but in a very positive and nice middle class sort of way.

Oh how I wish my parents had allowed me to pursue my dreams of becoming a musikshan so that I too could get to dress like him.

Speaking of choices the elder daughters had a little outing with their chums from school at the weekend. First they went to Silverbird to watch a film and hangout and then they went to Cactus for lunch. Imagine. An outing for me back in the day involved being dressed up in some outfit that glowed in the dark and being taken to some aunty\ uncles party where the only entertainment would involve kicking bottle caps around the chairs whilst trying to stay out of my mother's range of vision knowing full well that if I caught her eye it was truly game over.

What do you think of today's feast of entertainment for kids in Naija today?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Ahh. Domestic bliss.

So we were very lucky to find our house in Lekki. Much praise to the Almighty Allah for his guidance to this place. As is usual the minute I walked into the house for the initial viewing I knew it would be our home. I have this knack, vibe, feel,gift, call it what you like, for this sort of thing. My job is to find the place. Iyawo's job is to pimp the place out and she has done a mighty fine job on this one.

So after all the palaver with our shipment from the UK we finally moved and and got into the Lagos life. I was saying to the kids yesterday I cannot believe that people actually waste time and money going to the cinema when there is so much free entertainment to be had. For us this starts at home.

At the front of the house are the Hot fuzz or Halogen Security to be more precise. We have three of them. Let's call them Larry, Curly and Moe. I only pray that we never get attacked and find that this is our first line defense otherwise our asses would be grasses. L,C, M believe that their objective on taking the job was to get as much sleep as possible. Last time I was in London I got a call from Iyawo in the night to say that she was worried that she could not see any of the two on night duty. Turns out they were in the security hut -securing the perimeter with both eyes closed. Let me give you an example of what we go through.

One day I said to Moe,
-when was the last time you actually patrolled the compound?
He looked at me blankly.
Oga, you mean walking about?.
Okay, no point getting technical and spouting military lingo.
- Yes, walking about.
- Oga we walk around all the time.
Me- Okay, when was the last time you walked about to the let's see now, the back of the house?
Furrowed brow.
- Back of the house?
-yes, you know the place on the other side of the front of the house.
Oga you mean to go around the side and then around the back?
- Yep and if you are feeling really adventurous you can also go around the other side of the house and back to the front again.

I can see all this registering and a cloud forming in his mind. I guessed he was thinking to himself "chai, this job is tougher than I expected oh!"

I asked Larry one day what he would do if we were attacked. Did he have any direct connections to his office? Could he summon an armed patrol? Did he even have a mobile? He replied that he planned to ring the doorbell to let us know we were under attack. I slept much better that night for sure.

All this harassment has paid off dividends as they have now been issued with trenchcoats and batons.All they need now is a whistle and I can go to sleep and even leave the front door open knowing that the Halo boys are out in force.

Inside the house things are just as amusing. We have two Togolese ladies. Well one lady and one crackpot. The elder is a professional cook. She gets up at 6.30 every morning and is still cooking at 7 pm at night. All sorts of things are always bubbling away on the fire. Sometimes I wonder exactly how many people we are feeding as it is not unusual to have three pots of stew on the go. If not for my strict discipline and rigorous exercise routines (up and down to the fridge- works wonders I tell you) I am sure I would have gained so much weight. She goes around singing or humming gospel songs and is happiest just pottering around in the kitchen.

The other one is a different kettle of fish altogether. As a matter of fact I cannot actually guarantee that she is altogether. She laughs like an hyena, sings like she is being strangled and causes more trouble than our youngest ones. As a matter of fact she probably encourages more bad behaviour than good. She only (badly) knows one nursery rhyme in English which we have had to ban as it was driving everyone round the bend what with the wailing tone, the mispronounced words, the made up words and the never ending crescendo. It was just too much to bear.

All this reminds me of the summers I used to spend with my cousin when they lived in Bourdillon in Ikoyi back in the days when Ikoyi was still a proper suburb. Everything ticking along very nicely. A steady hummmm vibe. Our two young ones spoiled rotten with all the attention they are getting, food on demand, play on demand, noise galore. Ahh Domestic bliss indeed.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Complicity. Another in the lecture series.....

So this morning on the way to drop the kids off at school we are as usual greeted with the long queues of traffic down Admiralty Way. As we meander our way through we are not surprised to see the usual lawless drivers switch lanes into oncoming traffic and bulldoze their way down to the gate and on to the roundabout. Oh never mind they must be in a hurry.

All of a sudden to our right we see that an okada with an Oyinbo male passenger is speeding down the sidewalk horns blaring. Other okadas are making their way through traffic easily enough but this particular one is on the sidewalk. Two chaps are walking on the sidewalk when the okada comes speeding up to them and blaring his horn for them to move out of the way. They refuse and he makes a show of going around them on the grass and then flinging abuse over his shoulder. They respond and he then pulls up, jumps off the bike and attacks them physically. Meanwhile, the oyinbo passenger sits quietly with a fixed smile, grimace, on his face. I wind down the window and a couple of cars start blaring our horn in support of the poor pedestrians. The okada on realising the strength of support for them beats a hasty retreat but not before I can ask the oyinbo man if I would be allowed to ride on the pavement and attack pedestrians in his country. Naturally there is no response.

Two days ago I had a meeting at the Eko Hotel. Those familiar with the hotel will know that access is now restricted to one gate whilst they put in a paid parking system at the main gate. This work had naturally led to a queue of cars snaking their way in through the one gate. After about 10 minutes in the queue I am less than amused to see a 4x4 whizz around in the outside lane and then try to squeeze his way into the entrance just ahead of my car. Naturally I am giving him the evil look which normally makes people consider their choices in life but he is not getting the message. I then notice that it is one of those private security vehicles they is used to shepherd scared oyinbos from the airport to the hotel and in the back of this one was said scared oyinbo.

I got out to have a word with both driver, escort and passenger. I asked a few questions which I thought were particularly apt such as:

- Is it because you are carrying oyinbo that you think you have the right to drive like this?
- Does this mean that he has more pressing things to do than us that have been waiting patiently in the queue?
- Do you think they would let you drive like this in his country?
- Mr Oyinbo, would you allow him to drive like this in your country?
- Mr Oyinbo when you get back home are you not going to regale them with tales of the reckless driving and horrid traffic conditions you encountered on your extremely lucrative first class, money making business trip to Lagos?
- Mr Oyinbo are you going to mention by any chance the part you played in it?

As with the man on the okada he again displayed the frozen grimace of a deer trapped in the headlights.

I reckon this must be the look of those guilty of complicity. Or shame. Or both.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

This is why people turn to drugs....

Last weekend the car is looking filthy and we are on our way out to a function. I had noticed that the petrol station next to Shoprite offered a car wash service. I had also noticed a place on Admiralty Way where they were also washing cars. So I set off to wash the car. All was well with the world. The sun was shining. The AC was blasting along with the music. "We are the world, we are the people.." Classic. I love it. No, just kidding.

Anyways, I decide to try the place on Admiralty before making the long tortuous journey to Shoprite. The follwoing then occurs:

Me driving up and immediately being approached by one of the five men sitting at the gate.

Me: Oga is this a car wash?

Man: This place? Indicating the area where I am parked which is wet, has a hose connecterd to an external tap and some washcloths.

Me: Yes.

Man: Oga we don't wash cars here oh.

Me: But I saw a car being washed when I drove past half an hour ago.

Man: Oga oh yes. But we only wash our own cars.

Me: Oh okay. Do you know anywhere near here or do I have to go to Shoprite.

Man: Shakes head. No place around here oh. Oga, you want to wash your car?

Me: Thinking no I came here to seek intelligent life forms. Yes I want to wash my car.

Man: Oga we only wash our own cars here.

Me reversing. Then tap tap on the window.

Man: Oga don't you want us to wash your car?

Me: Look my friend you said you only wash your own cars????

Man: Oga we can wash your car oh.

He then proceeds to explain to the other guys that the man sitting in the dirty car wants to get his car washed. After much nodding of heads he is joined by another man and they proceed to give the car a mighty good clean.

Till now I still cannot work out the logic. Maybe drugs would help.

Monday, 1 October 2007

One good deed.....

Having grown up around policemen I am very much of the follow the rules, zero tolerance, no rubbish mentality. It has therefore not been easy for me to settle back in Lagos. I wanted to say us but Iyawo seems to be taking a more philosophical view of things that I am (at least she was).

My number one bug bear is the way people drive in Lagos. Numerous times over the past month I have found myself on the road directing traffic to clear jams caused by one moron or another driving the wrong way, blocking a major junction, buying stuff whilst parked in the middle lane or just being a total jackass. Iyawo has watched with alarm as the Igbobi College, Yaba boy (Up IC) within me has resurfaced with some vigour. She keeps warning me about my BP (blood pressure) which I can assure you at some points over the last month must have gone stratospheric whilst arguing with some muppet in a 4x4 who thinks this gives him the right to rule the road.

By the way, to the idiot in the Hummer H2 that tried to climb over the central reservation on the Lekki express yesterday and duly got stuck, it was only Iyawo's intervention and the fact that we were late for a function that stopped me from delivering what would have been a fine sermon on the fact that at some point any sense you might have had been overtaken by daddy's money as you looked far too young to have bought that car yourself - legally. There must have come a tipping point in your young unformed mind where you thought "mmm, too much traffic on the road. Obviously all these other fools do not have access to this two ton jeep disguised as a "sports utility vehicle" and its superior handling skills. After all is this not what the Americans use to conquer in Iraq, Afghanistan and all those other rough terrains? I beg let me just climb over this pavement into oncoming traffic jare and really impress this my 16 year old chicko". I was somewhat saddened that on my return trip three hours later your car was nowhere to be seen as it would seem that you had finally managed to get some traction (or area boys) to get you out of the .....

Two weeks ago I almost killed a man whilst trying to do my duties as a good citizen. On this particular day my blood was boiling as mayhem and anarchy was ruling on the Lekki expressway (on two occasions it has taken over three hours to get from our house to Shoprite, a distance of less than 2 miles). We decided to take a short cut rather than face the long drive all the way down to Exxon just to turn around to get to VI. The first argument was with a chap in a 4x4 who having overtaken the traffic waiting to turn then cut in from the outside lane into oncoming traffic and tried to insert himself between the 2 inch gap between the rear bumper of our car and the front bumper of the car behind which was determined not to let him in. After much revving of engine he then proceeded to slam into us at which point I ejected myself from the car to have a few choice words. To my amazement he then turned around and started abusing the other driver for not letting him in and having the audacity to block him off. After much wasting of spittle and some very strong language we all proceeded on our merry way. Throughout all this Iyawo was in the car reading a magazine and telling me afterwards to calm down as I was breathing hele hele by this point.

Less than a few hundred yards later a danfo zoomed past us facing oncoming traffic, finally met his match in view of the fact that a huge lorry was heading towards him with no apparent intention of stopping (or no brakes as it is sometimes hard to tell which is which). Realising the error of his ways he then proceeded to literally jam himself into our front. First I wound down the window to warn him to no avail. So I decided to take drastic action. I opened the door to go face him mano to mano only for an okada driver to slam at speed into the open door catapulting driver and passenger over the handlebars into the (thank God) soft grass on the other side of the verge. The driver lay motionless whilst the passenger had somehow landed on his feet and was still holding on (and listening) to his Sony discman. I swear this can only happen in Lagos.

At this point even the danfo driver had stopped as a crowd quickly gathered (mostly other okada drivers). The following scen then unfolded:

Me: Sorry oh my friend. Are you okay?
Okada driver : no response, but slowly moving about gingerly.
Other Okda drivers : Oga wetin now? You want to kill him?
Me: Were you even there? Did you see what happened?
Other Okada to Okada driver : Oboy , how are you feeling? Oya move your legs. Oya check your ankle? Ya neck unko? You break ribs? You see well? Any blood? Crack ya wrists. Having ascertained that it was most likely the okada man would live they then turned their attention to his prostrate bike.

The steering bend? E dey leak petrol? How about the exhaust? Any sand don enter? The clutch still day? I bed check am well, well oh?

Once the roadside MOT had been passed they then reunited driver and motorbike. I made a contribution towards his speedy recovery, bid the still grooving passenger a fond farewell and so we departed. But not before the danfo, which immediately it looked like there were no casualties to gawp at jumped in front of us and sped off.

The moral of this story? Damn I wish I knew. Welcome to Lagos. Y'all drive safely now.