War Scars

I had misery in large amounts

deep seated sadness ready to pounce,

That was my major

It hurt like a blunt razor

I wear my tattoo tears like war scars

frescos inked in blood colours

And at the back of my mind

there was a square, full of people in a village

unwholesome images of torching, looting and pillaging

ready to stone me to my death

the bye-products of a forgotten environment

I am of the Kings, and rings, and Egyptian pyramids

History is encrypted in my bones

scripted to rise to the throne

not to be stoned, kiss the ring

he who would one day be King

So So Thankful

So, I am so so thankful

I put my basket in the sun,

and an angel fell into it straight from the sky

I swear, my rebirth of life you are my sacrifice

 Dry your eyes; I am here to clear all your sorrows

 Tame your shames, no need to hide your pretty face in a burrow

every mushroom can be a marshmallow

I am thankful,

that you ran into me

it is ironic, how accidental a plan could be

First a stranger, now my supreme fancy

Save All Under-aged Children Esco (S.A.U.C.E)

School sucks except for lunch time

I grew up an eighties baby in the decade known for the worst fashion fads, huge shoulder pads and drippy Jeri curls, Bata by choice, stone-wash jeans, corduroy pants and tight tee-shirts, music with lots of piano keys and blinking Technicolor disco lights, Milli Vanilli and the ‘wooden leg’ dance step (they lip synced to success way before Britney did), Alagbin paracetamol, wierd Shield deodorants ads, Sunday Rendezvous on TV after church, Tales by Moonlight the same evenings, Madam Kofo and Second Chance, 504 Peugeot cars with dodgy door handles and corny Felix Liberty ballads.

Believe it, they were the Neyo and Chris Brown of the 80s

Most kids wanted to be Superman or Spiderman when they grew up.  My friend wanted to be Captain America. It didn’t help that he carried a huge plastic plate around with him that looked like a shield itself. Some even looked up to action man Benbella of the popular Ikebe Super comics group; I know a chap that idolized Birdman, that wacky superhero who depended on solar energy or electricity for his powers. I know Birdman would not have thrived in today’s PHCN riddled times.

Me, I thought Sean Connery was the best James Bond actor. I loved watching Voltron on Wednesday evenings at 4pm and would coerce the driver into reckless speeds to get home on time after “lesson” to watch the always seemingly bemused robot tackle bully robeasts. I also loved Big Bite, the vanilla ice-cream on a stick with a thick chocolate coating. After watching and falling in love with the movie Grease, I wanted to be John Travolta when I grew up. I thought that his character in the movie “Danny Zuko” was the coolest person ever. I even used to sport a comb like he did for periodic combing of my greasy hair. Pomade did the trick.

I lived in Surulere, which I believed was the centre of the universe. It had the popular eateries where kids would drag their parents to for treats: Chicken George on Adeniran Ogunsanya (until it was savaged by rioters), UTC shopping complex, Leventis, Little Chef in Aguda. We were a short bridge trip away from Apapa Amusement Park where my favourite rides were the horror ghost rides and the jam cars.  There was also a 50 foot ride which many people declined to enter. Make NEPA no go take light when you dey for up there.

For cultural stimulation, I visited the National Museum Onikan which was just a bridge away from Surulere, and I recall seeing Nok terra-culture, Igbo Ukwu earthenware and Benin bronze works. On a school escortion to the Museum, one of my classmates from primary school swore he could still see blood on the red seats of the bullet riddled presidential limousine in which Murtala Mohammed was slain.  Mind, this same chap falsely claimed that the school garden had a chameleon which no one else but he was able to see. He said that the chameleon changed its colour to blend with the walls of the stall in which it was kept. I hear he is now on the run from EFCC after being exposed as a fake pastor.

The National Theatre also promoted cultural dances and plays. I remember watching “Halima Must Not Die” acted  with Shakespearean perfection, what with heroes and tragic flaws.

So I grew pretty well-rounded. I had uncles that boxed my ears when I behaved badly, I had enough cultural stimulation, and I could recite the 12-times table as well as the words to our National Anthem. I knew all the songs and characters on Sesame Street as well as I knew the ones on Uncle Jimi Solanke’s Storyland.

I still preferred Tales by Moonlight to Canterbury Tales though.

And I could never understand why Oliver Twist got banged on the head with a spoon by the chef for asking for more. At children’s parties, I was a regular culprit for asking waiters for second helpings, though out of earshot of my disciplinarian mum.

When I look at the world today, especially Nigeria and I see the way children are brought up and the influences they are exposed to, my heart weeps. Not to be a doomsday monger – I mean Nigeria is one the last cultural bastions of child discipline and infantile nurturing. Back in the 80s, there was a hit program on TV where the key word was “Shokolokobangoshe”; there was an Uncle on the program, I can’t remember his name, who asked the kids quiz questions on random subjects, and if they answered correctly they had the chance to play a shooting game with a toy gun with rubber bullets aimed at a dart-board. If they aimed and shot properly, they got a commendation from Uncle and a pack of Yum Yum potato chips, the coolest snack ever. That was childhood defined in 80s Nigeria in a sense – a strong, moralistic nurturing uncle or adult, snacks or treats to reward resourcefulness or good behavior, and a lesson to be learned at the end of every interaction.

Now children sit in front of the TV, watching a huge pot-bellied purple dinosaur jump about excitedly like bad eko. I was at a Genesis cinema at Shoprite some time back, and some parents brought their kids to watch the movie “Zohan”. Are you kidding me? A movie about an Israeli freedom fighter with gay cut-off jeans shorts who had a happy sex appetite and enjoyed romps with over 60 something year old women? And some parents gnash their teeth and weep, as they run from pastor to pastor, when they realize that their son now prefers playing with Barbies and plaiting his hair with pink ribbons.

 

 

     

After my nails, I will fix my weave before I leave for the dinner party

 

Well it could have been worse, Hancock was also showing around that time, and the name of the movie alone would have gotten a viewing ban in my house when I was a kid. I mean, my dad refused to allow me watch “I Spit On Your Grave” and “Last American Virgin” just because of the names alone; he did pop in “Swallows and Amazons” for the umpteenth time, as I and my siblings sighed with resignation.

I mean, back in the days, you called your father or an elder male figure in the house to put on the movie for you. Granted there was a carton of VHS or Betamax video cassettes stacked up somewhere, but some of the buttons on some video players could hurt a child because they were so stiff and were made of strong metal.

We have to be careful how we bring up our children especially in Nigeria, because there are already so many negative influences in the country; corruption, get rich quick schemes, cultism, fetishes, retrogression, negative forces, cabals, physical wickedness in high government places, squalor and extravagance of the highest order.

Nigerians also have a track record of copying any foreign or outside influence and taking it to the adverse extreme. We have overtaken Mexico City and Columbia in the kidnapping stakes with people being kidnapped to settle cheap political scores or in the same simple manner a person might walk to an ATM to withdraw money. We may even start exporting our kidnapping know-how to guerilla warfare ridden 3rd world jurisdictions.

I would hate to see a tragedy of the Virginia Tech or Columbine shootings scale here. Thankfully in Nigeria, everyone has a cowardly aversion to death. Nigerians would rather suffer and smile than be martyred for the cause. We continually hope for the best and rely on others to take up our struggles. There are Ikoyi terrace houses to be bought, BMW X-6 SUVs to be cruised around it, political offices to aspire to and accumulate illicit wealth. It is like that Western movie “Last Man Standing” starring Bruce Willis where the “boss” in the movie kept saying “I don’t wanna die in Texas. Chicago maybe, but not Texas.”

No Nigerian wants to die for a cause. That is our own Texas. So happily, we can strike off the ugly and sad incidents of Columbine or Virginia Tech occurring in our dear country. There would be no Trench coat mafias, thank heaven.

We need to watch our kids, infants, siblings, nephews, nieces, little cousins and make sure they are getting exposed to the right cultural stimuli. Mentorship, guidance, direction, leadership by example, positive counseling and role modeling are required. We have got to watch what we say around them.

Sadly, it is hard to say how much bad parenting and the falling level of societal values have impacted children in this country due to poor social services, unreliable childcare statistics and a propensity to sweep events under the carpet to avert the stigma associated with irresponsible children.

Kids are watching, and they pick up what they see - Nigerian kids are like sponges.

I know I did as a kid.

I still have Seal like scars from a childhood incident. Trying to impersonate Superman, I tied my Grandma’s ankara wrapper around my neck like a cape, and leapt from our dining table as I shouted the words “To infinity and beyond!” Sad to say, I had not reckoned with Isaac Newton’s law of physics and came crashing down with wounds for my troubles and weeks of pain. Lesson learned – your granny’s wrapper would not turn you into a superhero, though it may keep you warm at night.

My cousin Noel, then 8 years old, did not fare better. He tried to act out some of the scenes he had just seen in the then hit movie “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” by crashing through a sliding door in their living room, feet first. He required extensive surgery, and still sports a stanky leg for his troubles.

Thankfully Nightrider, the series about the talking super sports car was a hit TV series in the 80s, so due to the generational difference, there is no chance of today’s kids trying driving stunts seen on the series with daddy’s car on 3rd Mainland Bridge.

Do kids have it tougher now than in my day? It is hard to argue for and against with strict authority.

I remember that I was brought down to earth early on, when I came to the crushing realization that Father Christmas (Santa Claus to you lot) was not real. It was at our primary school children’s party, when I was in primary three or four thar the cheeky nursery school kids recognized Santa’s watch and a birthmark on his face as their teacher’s and started shouting his real name “Mr. Ogunmesa! Mr. Ogunmesa!!” It was difficult for him to keep up the act, and he doled out double portions of Éclairs sweets to the nursery kids to bribe them to shut up. It was like inviting ants to a picnic. Me? I was deflated beyond words. So, what about Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer? Don’t tell me he is really a nwampi billy goat.

I knew the tooth-fairy was a myth quite early enough. If one of my pre-molars came loose, and I put it under my pillow expecting 10 kobo the next day, I was disappointed. My sister who was slightly older than me was likely to nick whatever coin I gained, and replace it with the empty wrapper of the malt toffee she had spent it on.

How much of an impact does physical fighting between parents have on a Nigerian child? Do couples who air their dirty bedroom linen in public risk alienating their kids forever. Do kids who have watched Tyson versus Bash Ali scenes between their folks repeatedly become violent and prone to acts of domestic violence?

My colleague once told me about this couple who were had deep marital problems, and argued incessantly in the presence of their 5 year old son. The husband got fed up and decided he wanted a separation and threatened that he was going evict his spouse from the house and raise the boy as a single parent. The girl’s friends and relatives decided to come over for a meeting with the husband to try and reconcile the couple. They all settled down, while each person spoke one after the other. The couple’s son sat in a corner of the room listening as he chewed playfully on a plastic straw.

The husband spoke last, and when he did, he poured vitriol on his spouse “I am not interested in this marriage anymore. This woman is rude and callous. She is a stupid woman…”

At this point, they were interrupted by the 5 year old boy who dropped his toy straw and ran up to his father, confronting him and waving his hands menacingly “My mummy is not toopid (stupid)! It is you that is toopid! You are toopid! Stop saying my mummy is toopid!!!”

The whole room was shocked at the boy’s boldness and effrontery at facing his dad, a person at least 4 times his size.

One of the elderly men present advised “This boy will grow up and be beating the hell out of his father. You can see it in his behavior. He will be rascally as he has been exposed to paternal rascally behavior.”

I hope you can all remember how Marvin Gaye was killed – his father shot Marvin for physically striking him.

I have heard it all before. My cousin once had to intervene in an attempted case of patricide. He was in his apartment chilling when he heard loud shouts and the sound of glass shattering. He ran across to the flat above his, and swallowed when he entered.

He was confronted with the sight of his 62 year old neighbor Pa Ojuigo hanging from the balcony of what was a 3rd floor apartment with his son Absalom trying to force him (Pa Ojuigo) over by unlocking his fingers. Absalom claimed that his father had refused to give him money andwas spending it instead on beer and other unnecessary luxuries.  If my cousin had arrived a minute later, Pa Ojuigo might have been forced over the edge plunging to his death by his own son.

Parents, hold your kids. Children are our last attempt at redeeming ourselves in life.

Spare the rod, and raise a Herod.

 

Right the wrongs of my father through my baby boy/

Nas (Hey Young World, 2010)

 

If the truth is told, the youth can grow/

Then learn to survive until they gain control/

Nobody says you have to be gangsters, whores/

Read more learn more, change the globe/

Nas (I Can, 1999)

Let us play Mama and Papa

Dress ya leg na

 

It is a popular school of thought that Nigerian marriages last because our institution of marriage is premised on core African cultural principles.

The husband and the wife know their clearly-defined roles. The man is the bread-winner/hunter/gatherer and custodian of the community ideals. The woman is the home-maker/chef/nurse/change-nurse/ incubator and the conduit pipe of moral values.

 Of course, things are changing; Western education, exposure and global culture continually erode traditional roles and notions of the duties of spouses in their marriages. It is not uncommon to see Mama Wale pursue a career in investment banking, while Papa Ihuoma may happily help change the baby’s soiled nappies. Baba Ismaila may even be persuaded to operate and push the baby pram while his wife sorts out the blown electric fuse in the house.

I have however heard it said that men should remain manly, aloof and masculine in demeanor or else there is every chance that he may lose respect from his wife. Should men only do men things?

It would surprise many that many of the advocates of the above are well educated and travelled persons and not the village resident, palm-wine drinking, snuff inhaling, chauvinists your imagination would have you believe.

Divorce rates are believed to be low in Ibo marriages due to the huge bride price and the long stringent process from the stage of declaration of interest (“knocking”) to engagement, dowry payment and the eventual traditional wedding. I have also heard it repeated that the huge ceremony associated with traditional engagement or ibankwu weddings are to remind the budding couple about their roles in the marriage. These ceremonies formed a template for the future with the couple involving in role-playing gestures. At the ibankwu traditional wedding, the local master of ceremony commands Adaku the beautiful damsel bride to dance across, kneel and present the mmayi to “the apple of her eye” Ahanna the hairy-chested smiling groom. A lesson is learnt in humility and stewardship, no?

Women of all cultures want their men to take charge but where does the margin for balance start or begin? Women are becoming more independent, educated and exposed; they can have careers in previously male dominated professions; the trouser suit was invented to give women a place. The transition from career amazon to domestic goddess is a difficult one for many females.

As more professionals return from post-graduate study in Great Britain, the US and Canada, you will find that there exists a demography of young female professionals, educated, world-savvy, knowledgeable, opiniated and able to stand on their own two. They work in finance and investment, are comfortable with handling hot broth and nasty smelling vegetables in the kitchen, and can hold their beers (or cocktail) as well as they can de-feather and gut the carcass of a chicken.

Nigeria, by its nature, is a nurturing nation. Children reside with their parents till their mid 30s; everyone has an opinion or input on every other’s person’s lifestyle-choices; parents and relatives still have a role to play in an individual’s life. A lot of females are growing up to find some of our cultures and norms are rather restrictive to the aspirations of a 21st Century independent woman. Is our culture more conducive for the upbringing of an Apeno than a Beyonce?

If this 21st century feminist ties the knot tomorrow with an average upcoming lad, would she find marriage a hassle, with all the expectations demanded of a wife, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law?

Some girls do not believe they should change their lifestyles or habits when they get married. Marriage is the same as dating except that your boyfriend becomes permanent with a certificate and a ring to boot. To such females, perish the thought of the money for Brazilian hair or air-brushed nails going into the pot for the children’s trust fund or college fund. In a matter of opportunity cost, their foregone conclusion is that they would rather have Rihanna’s hairdo and have their kid drop out of a Jakande public secondary school, rather than rock periwinkle plaits and have him go to Atlantic Hall or University College London.

So are our women becoming more uncontrollable or are men becoming wusses?

There are women who do not think they should change their lifestyles or spinster habits even when they tie the knot. Or should they?

Is it possible for a female brought up in Lagos, who went to pre-school in Ogun state, attended college in America, who now sports a weave made in Peru, wears fitted couture dresses from England’s high streets, chats on a device made in Finland to marry a Nigerian man and live with African values?

But it isn’t just the women who are struggling with an identity crisis; men suffer too. Some are struck with Okoronkwoitis. Read Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” or watch the TV series; or examine some of Pete Edochie’s characters as an alpha male, over-bearing, father in any of our local Nollywood blockbusters.

Do men want an Ovularia (Zebrudaya’s wife) in the kitchen, and a Munachi Abi in public?

 I was watching a Nigerian movie recently where a woman and her husband were having a discussion about their son who was refusing to marry a girl the father had nominated for him. The husband, played by actor Amaechi Monuagu was very upset about the matter and implored the woman to “talk to her son.” Some moments later, the woman remembering that it was time for dinner asked Amaechi with affection “My husband, are you ready to eat so I can go and serve your food? He hissed loudly with irritation as he barked “Yes of course, I never told you that I was on a diet!!!”

Oh, dinner is ready? I hope it is edible this time.

 

At times, it is possible to get a brief peek at the mindset of men on the subject of roles and get a sense of the kind of relationship and communication some men expect from a partner. You may get an idea when you hear opinions during general conversations among singletons in a casual environment like a bar.

A good few years back, I was at bar and grill somewhere on the mainland with about 6 friends and a discussion came up what we would do if any of our girlfriends told us she was pregnant.

Some answers were straightforward, some were downright bizarre. But there was this chap called Triple X whose answer shocked everyone, as he dragged on his Benson cigarette nonchalantly: “If my girl got knocked up, she would not even come and tell me because she knows what my reaction would be. Rather she would tell me later that she was preggy before but she has now removed it via abortion, so I should not worry about it as she has now taken care of it.”

Wow what a douche bag. This guy would have been tearing his hair out when he watched the movie “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.”

Some guys do not believe in taking wives anywhere apart from church and maybe to the market so she could buy his favorite goat meat cuts. On weekends, they would rather hang out with the lads while they expected wifey to sort out the laundry and conjure a huge Saturday dinner. I mean, she is a wife and not a friend, right? Wives are pudgy, boring and smell of baby food, right?

That’s one extreme of the spectrum. There are husbands who take their wives to the beach but sit on a beach chair reading a daily, sipping beer and munching suya while she splashes around in the surf with the kids. Heaven forbid they get their feet wet in the rushing waves; they want to maintain their father figure image.

There are well-travelled and exposed chaps who still don’t hold hands in public or display any form of public affection. She may get a little glimpse f love when she notices the small spark in her man’s eyes as he says lovingly to her at the dinner table, before he delivers the downer: “Pass me the salt, luv, would you? This your food nor get taste.”

There is a common complaint that Nigerian men are becoming less of men. Not just in this country but in different parts of the world? It does not help that the latest male fashion fads make Carlton of the hit series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air look like a gangster rapper.

I was at the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island recently for the Elite Model event and saw lots of fruity dressed chaps wearing jeggings and polka-dotted bow-ties. I mean, come on dude, how can you air-kiss other guests. What happened to a firm handshake for other chaps, and a full frontal hug for the females?

Take a look at the Wayne Bridge and John Terry debacle last year in England. What John Terry did was inexcusable, there are some rules of the game you don’t break – he and Wayne Bridge were former teammates both at national and club level, and John should not have slept with Bridge’s baby mama. The English tabloids had a field day bashing John Terry and building column inches over a matter that in Nigeria would have only gotten a brief mention on the back pages of Nigeria’s National Encomium at best. John Terry was stripped off the England national team captaincy; in Nigeria, he would have been made an Otunba or an Nze.

But to me, Bridge burnt his bridges (no pun intended) and lost any empathy I had for his situation when he refused to shake Terry’s hands during a pre-match handshake just before a Chelsea and Manchester City game. The tension had built up towards the game, with the press trying to speculate on what Bridge’s reaction would be when they met face to face.

 I’m from an era where you suck it up and get on with it. Bridge should have looked Terry in the eye and shook his hand. At least in public.

Your wife should be your soul mate, by the way. End of.

 

We want the erotic, exotic ladies/

and not the toxic ladies/

that burn a lot…/

Notorious BIG (You can’t stop the reign, 1997)

 

City life, no choice but to live by the knife/

Put food on the table at whatever the price/

My beautiful wife, all the time cooking precise/

When there ain’t no meat, she bless me with the eggs and the rice/

Never think twice, I love you for the rest of my life/

 The Beatnuts (Look Around, 1999)

Take a picture

Can you imagine,

a most benevolent King

who interprets dreams and stays schemes

Can you imagine

A gangster on the pulpit, fulfilling his destiny

dousing butts and emptying ashtrays at the vestry

A hardened criminal bracing up to the sentence

what’s done is gone, there will be no repentence

A little girl, pregnant at twelve

it is what it is,

a child full of child, hell

Joy so immaculate

it could be compared to a nut in the wettest posse

or bosoms full like Philly streaks, so juicy

Angels portraying your life story in Heaven’s movie

Take a picture

At death, life scenes flash before your retinas

Why fight it, when you would lose it, life has no replicas

brace up to fight the bullet

as the Reaper sucks the air out of your gullet

Getting ready to creep down that narrow tunnel

Lying there on your deathbed, thinking of how you blew it

Arms and veins wired down, pumping fluid

Listening to the beep of the heart monitor

praying that it keeps interrupting yours…

One

One life, one love

One creed, one club

One knife, one blood

One hero, one ego

One destiny, one people

Maybe the circle of life must be a square

with good people dying, and the bad reborn like musical chairs

One pride, one aim

young mercenary, lower your gun aim

too much bloodshed,

boy soldiers kill for government thoroughbreds

Saw a youngster torture a dead dove

with a sick smile, he was loving it

Junior roasted his mongrel puppy on a skewer

then tossed the carcass in the sewers

Dead that thought

but to think that one day, he will father a tot…

Shuttle Shuffle (4)

radio preisroboter de1

1. Deborah Cox feat Jadakiss – Up and Down (Remix) (2002)

2. Common – I used to love her (1997)

3. Darlene McCoy – Fallen in love (20070

4. Mary Mary – Thankful (2000)

5. Train – Words (2010)

6. Spice Girls – Weekend Love (1999)

7. Queen Pen feat Chico DeBarge – It’s true (1997)

8. Train – Say Goodbye (2010)

9. Corinne Bailey RaePut your records on (2005)

10. Donnell Jones feat Left Eye – You know what’s up (1999)

Bosses from hell

You came late eh? Oya kneel down and fly your hands

   

In the chick flick “The Devil Wears Prada” the main character Anne Hathaway is confronted with one of the ultimate career dilemmas: you have just landed your dream job, but you have a boss who must have originated from the deepest pits of Hades.   

We have all been there – everyone can relate to Ms. Hathaway’s grueling experience at the hand of Meryl Streep’s character. You will have sympathizers sigh at your tales of suffering, as they shake their heads pitifully before they give you sledgehammer advice: “The economy is tough – at least you have a job. Be thankful and suck it up; besides you are only with your boss from 9am to 5pm.” From Monday to Friday, that is only 40 hours out of a 168 per week, not including time spent commuting.   

There are also occasions where a boss is as unpopular as Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal. Everyone in the office knows she has just driven into the building long via internal email alerts long before she walks through the doors.   

In our dear country, bosses from hell thrive like flies in a carcass. Nigerians love shows of power and authoritarianism is rife.   

The Nigerian boss is a special physical specimen. If you use Nollywood as a visor, you form a mental picture of a file-clutching, pot-bellied, grey suit wearing man in his late 50s with a thick Lord Lugard type moustache.   

One who comes to work late and leaves early and actually does the least amount of work for the renumeration he commands. The type of sturdy, world-weary man that barely grunts greetings in reply to his office juniors, as he walks briskly to his office, followed nervously by his driver bearing his suit jacket and briefcase. His first executive order is usually for his secretary to bring him tea and the dailies. His office had been cooled to perfection for him, with the air-conditioner switched on by his secretary, in scant disregard of the environment or power-saving.   

A female boss from hell is an unknown species – unmarried or barely married. Loves to work long hours. Her professional and person relationships with others are two extremes on the totem pole. The type of woman to send her assistant to her son’s primary school to drop treats for him, and fire the assistant two days later for over-staying her lunch break by 5 minutes.   

A friend of mine once worked for a huge corporation in the FCMG industry, where the HR manager had an acute case of “aka gum.”   

The aka gum syndrome is a condition where the sufferer is very miserly or stingy with resources, even those that do not belong to him.   

He got absolutely angry that office juniors and non-managerial staff were drinking “company tea.” The tea, along with coffee and biscuits had been freely supplied by the company for workers to enjoy in the morning. Dude, tea is such a basic thing to be spiked about.   

This HR manager sometimes refused to replace tissue paper in the staff loo, if he felt that the last set of rolls finished too quickly.   

He manned the door of the office or put up a chair against it to prevent late-comers from sneaking in. He once snuck out of an AGM meeting several times; to check if a serial offender had left his PC on when stepping out of the office.   

You left your computer idle for approximately 2 seconds..

   

On the day, he resigned to take up a new appointment, nobody turned up for his send-off dinner. Everyone claimed that they were ill or under the weather. To be fair, there was an apollo epidemic around that time.   

Do men or women make better bosses? Most people believe that women bosses are more prone to emotional stress and more likely to take out marital problems and PMS hormonal changes out on staff under their control. What about single and menopausal female bosses?   

The world has long had a history of bosses from hell. From the feudal lords who reigned over serfs in the middle-ages to present day suit and tie bosses.   

Leona Helmsley, an American hotelier and socialite was famously known for sacking hotel staff for the smallest and flimsiest reasons such as a misaligned lampshade.   

Henry Ford used his henchmen and secret police to spy on employees. He hated unionism and used tear gas, scare tactics and a private army to deter them.   

It also gets close to home.   

I have a couple of friends that worked in a law firm somewhere on the Island where one of the partners was a very difficult woman. Sometimes, she could be heard from her office upstairs shouting at staff on the telephone, when she could have simply called them up to her office.   

Her pet peeves were spelling mistakes in reports or write-ups or even slight punctuation errors. She would rant and complain about a lawyer’s writing style or the format for the letter for hours, even making one particular associate re-print a letter up to 15 times. She employed Word spell-check and a large Oxford dictionary to catch out offenders. She monitored every single correspondence with clients handled by her associates, even refusing to entrust some senior associates with up to 15 years experience with some ordinary tasks.   

It was not uncommon to see workers spending hours formatting an internal report for a 30 minute meeting just not to run foul of Ms. Boss from Hell.   

When she chided a staff member via email, she copied all the staff. She also blasted staff at meetings in front of everyone, regardless of the erring staff’s position or level of seniority in the office.   

 She once shoved someone away for leaning on the venetian blinds in the over-crowded meeting room.   

Her method of laying off staff or getting rid of workers was through a process similar to the Japanese ancient traditional act of hara-kiri.   

In feudal Japan, where a warrior was disgraced or defeated, he “lost face” thereby feeling extreme shame. As a result, to assuage the shame he performed an extremely painful act of ritual suicide called “hara-kiri” (disembowelment) where he cut open his abdomen with a short blade.   

After giving the erring associate a public reprimand, she would ask him to resign by turning in a letter. This involuntary act of resignation absolves her of the one month’s notice requirement and also gives her a kind of moral legitimacy. Well, you jumped, I didn’t push you to your death; I just watched.   

You have all been removed from the Circle of Trust

   

At least 15-20 staff of that firm have resigned, been retired, sacked or have left that firm due to her attitude.   

There was also a female Managing Director who went through personal assistants like water. She dismissed one P.A. for getting engaged without telling her, and laid off another because she did not “feel her vibe.”   

Many people can put up with any level of harassment and rely on their monthly pay check to put the smiles back on their faces at the end of the month. What about when a boss from hell fails, refuses or neglects to pay salaries frequently. The boss of all bosses.   

 It is a different kettle of fish, when a boss especially in a “one-man business” sort of enterprise elects to pay staff peanuts. Worse than this, is the flagrant disregard of our labor laws, due to non-enforcement of employment laws due to the wide spread unemployment, desperation of job seekers and economic hardships.   

Some bosses do not pay their staff salaries at all. You join a company and you are given training, then you resume your duties. Your bank details are collected by the Human Resource Department or as is the usual practice, an account is opened for you bringing your number of bank accounts to about 5. Your first salary is paid, and then you get into the company system working putting in between 40-60 hours per week, including weekends and public holidays. Then you hit a wall. You insert your ATM card into the ATM machine at your local bank on the last Friday of the 2nd month, and see the balance: zero naira.   

This process continues on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th month. Meanwhile your boss carries on like nothing is wrong, even adding a new flash automobile to his fleet of wonder on wheels. Some co-workers even spread rumors that he has been sighted painting the town red, having a blast at exclusive restaurants, travelling to the South of France for weekends, and chasing tail all around.   

When some members of staff confront him, he becomes aggressive and reacts like he is annoyed about their effrontery. He still expects them to show up at work even if they have to beg, steal or borrow.   

I know a situation where the boss was not paying salaries to every worker; just those who curried favour with him or performed office-snitching on his behalf. He was also paying one particular girl who he was sleeping with an additional allowance.   

There is a company in Lekki which carries on the business of ATM machine installation, repairs and maintenance. The boss there has unenviable track record of not paying staff their salaries. Sometimes staff are summarily dismissed for the pettiest reasons when the arrears owed them have accumulated to heavy sums.   

Sometimes, some ogas are just plain bullies who love humiliating junior staff.   

Some years ago, a recent graduate friend of mine with a degree from a University in England resumed for work at a multinational manufacturing firm somewhere on the Mainland.   

On his first day, the HR manager gave him a tour of the firm’s premises, and took him to the department he was supposed to work under and introduced him to the manager in charge there – a grouchy man called Mr. Laja.   

While the HR Manager was there, Mr. Laja asked the graduate (Toby) what his major was in school. Toby proudly replied “Project Management and Finance from the University of Liverpool.”   

 As soon as the HR manager had left and was out of sight, Mr. Laja asked him “Shebi you know how to sort files?” and gave him the key to a filing cabinet that looked like something from the National Library and Archives.   

Toby sorted files for weeks and weeks; he would get to work, take off his suit jacket and tie and sort out dusty files which had been previously arranged by a whirlwind. He might as well have studied Library Science. Well, at least he got some experience for his CV.   

Some bosses are just plain bullies, who look for weak prey.   

A girl called Dee resumed work at a telecommunications firm in the VI area as a HR officer.   

On her first, second and third day, nobody assigned her any work, not even her manager. She shared an office with the other HR staff while her manager had his own office next door. She decided to read the company’s website, arrange her desk, help with any small tasks she could, but she was generally idle.   

On the fourth day, she was reading the company newsletter to update herself on happenings, when the manager poked his head through the office door and saw her: “Oh, so you are idle, eh? Ok go to Tantalizers and get me a Tanta-roll.” One Tanta-roll.   

She had a car, but it was around the lunch rush-hour where there was bound to be loads of traffic.   

As if he read her mind, he said “Take an okada. Be back here on time, because I don’t want the office empty.”   

She was not thrilled at being “messaged” but she thought to herself: it is alright, it is just like a coffee run. Interns and new staff do coffee runs at times.   

Well that is what she thought.   

The next day her boss sent her to get more Tanta-roll.   

Then it became a daily ritual to send her at 12 noon to get all kinds of bites from eateries far and wide, from Tanta-rolls to meat-pies, yam pottage, egg rolls, beans, bread etc. Soon everyone in the office was also chipping their money once it was 12 to send her to Tantalizers.   

She once stained herself with a large “map of Nigeria’ red stain on her crisp white shirt from palm oil leakage while juggling takeaway packs of yam-pottage and other foods, and trying to hold on for her dear-life on a speeding okada.   

That was the last straw – she devised a plot to go to the loo once it became 11.45 and stay there till way past 12 noon. After then, she would come to the office, grab her jacket and announce that she was off for lunch.   

She did this for like 3 days in a row, before she noticed that her boss had now assigned chap doing his NYSC attachment to do the “Tanta runs” instead.   

The very next day her manager put his head through the office door and said “Dee, bring a laptop in tomorrow, we are going out for a meeting with a client at Ikoyi Hotel.”   

These are little examples, but I am sure that everyone has had some kind of experience. There are certain people in this country who due to cultural influences, believes that a boss, particularly for certain industries, has to be unapproachable, authoritarian and aloof. It is the same kind of people who call the bad guy in the movies “the boss” and believe an office manager just has to be like them.   

    

He tried to get this job at Calvin’s record shop/  

He was in it to win it, but the boss fronted and said/   

Sorry Warren G but there’s no help wanted/   

    

Snoop Dogg (Vapours, 1996)