State Of The Unions – Yankee Vs. Naija

Winston Churchill once quipped that Britain and the United States were countries separated by a common language.

That may be true but how similar is America to Nigeria?

Both operate a federal system, drive on the right hand side of the road, and elect (or rig in) presidents every four years, but those are where the similarities end. Right? Wrong.

Nigeria can compete with the best of them, and this list will show why…

America had a president called JFK, we had one called OBJ

They have people they refer to as “new money”; we call them “money miss road”

In high school they had bullies, we call them agbayas

It is called “bankruptcy” in America; we refer to it as “I get am before”

They call them cat burgulars in Yankee, in Nigeria they are called armed robbers

In America, they are known as scam artists; in Nigeria they call them yahoo yahoo boys

America had Reaganomics, Nigeria had SAP (Structural Adjustment Program)

In Yankee, people love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; in Nigeria, mai-shy(bread, egg and suya) is a national delicacy

It is called a potbelly in America; in Nigeria it is a sign of “chopping life”

America has the Olsen twins; we have Aki and Pawpaw

They have the bank bandit Jesse James, we have James Ibori

They have 30 Rock, we have Aso Rock

They have Jersey Shore; we have Fuji House of Commotion

They have Tina’s ex-husband Ike Turner, we have Jim Ikye

They make have Hugh Hefner, but we have Nackson

The crime is referred to as grand theft auto in Yankee; here it is called ‘one chance’

They may be “mixed race” in America, but in Nigeria they are known as “half caste”

In  the US of A, they have a TV program called Judge Judy, we had one called Icheoku.

America had a TV series called The Vampire Diaries, but Nigeria had one called Willy Willy

In the USA, it is known as political correctness, and in Nigeria it is termed “Federal Character” or zoning

In America they hold elections, in Nigeria we usually hold selections.

They call them wierdos in Yankee, but in Nigeria people say that “their brain dey touch”

Yankee movies employ CGI and special effects, Nollywood flicks utilize jazz,  juju and face-slapping soundbites

They may be called old school over there, but we refer to them as elders over here

In America, he is known as a Stay at Home Dad/ House Husband, but in Nigeria he simply introduces himself as a “Consultant”

Bizarrely, Americas love French fries; Nigerians  love Ghana bread

In Yankee they have low fat spread, we call it butter

They also have margarine, we still call it butter

In America they love Baked beans, we adore agonyi beans

They have 106 and Park, we had Kiddie Vision 101

They have Mickey Rourke, we have Charlie Boy

They have Kim Kardashian, we have Mercy Johnson.

America has flavor flav, Nigeria has Terry G

Their criminals cop an insanity plea in the courts; criminals in Nigeria cry that it was the work of the devil

America has its own sunglasses sporting, dread-locked eccentric music star in T-pain, we have Timaya.

They have the Atkins Diet; we have ordinary people suffering and smiling feeding eating without meat.

They have Rock and Republic, we have Kalakuta Republic

They have got Graceland, well we have Motherland

Yankee has the state of Oregon, we have Oregun in Lagos.

And you may need to forget what you watched on “The Social Network” movie, apparently the inventor of Facebook  actually is from and lives in Nigeria.

Good luck guessing who it is.

RE: The Stylish & Versatile Awards

I was recently awarded/nominated for the Stylish & Versatile Awards by Mimi from mimibarber.blogspot.com

I am mighty chuffed because Literati:Satires on Nigerian Life only went live last September, and I have received lots of positive feedback already.

Ms Barber, I thank you plenty.

So in keeping with the tradition of this blogger award, Esco is required to reveal seven random facts about himself (Speaking in 3rd person sounds so much grander).

I apologize but I can only do this in the “Satire” theme of this blog – I am quite shy, you see.

So 7 Stylish and Versatile things about me are:

1. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Danny Zuko (John Travolta’s character in Grease). He was the epitome of cool, plus he had the fancy “T-Bird” jackets, was charismatic, didn’t talk much and bagged all the ladies. I used to sport a small comb like he did; I even made my mum buy me a Baseball jacket, which I sported over my school uniform in damn near 60 degree Nigerian weather regardless. Ha-ha. Other kids wanted to be like Mike (Jordan, Jackson, Tyson), or Superman (geek dressed up with a cape –ewww), or Spiderman (insect man) or Boy Alinco (Elvis type haircut and all) but I wanted to be Danny Zuko. By the way, Grease is the best movie ever; end of.

2. I am supposed to be very good with kids. I go to my sister’s house, and her famously difficult 1 year old daughter melts into my arms and refuses to eat until I feed her. I meet strangers and their babies are drawn to me for a weird reason. I am the sort of person who impersonates cartoon characters and makes funny noises to make babies/kids laugh. My nephew also said “You are the coolest uncle ever” Ah bless.

That said, please let us save the children, by taking more pro-active roles in schemes/programs that support their development, education as well as cultural stimulation.

3. I have been told that I am one of the most stubborn people on earth. Enough said. I wonder why I always prefered the younger Kuta Kinte in the TV series Roots though.

4. On a lighter note, I really like Lacoste, Zoo, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Marc Jacobs, Levis, River Island, Hublot, Hollister, Pro-Evolution Soccer, Xbox 360 and Mercedes. Now you know, I am expecting your gift-cards in the post.

5. I really fancy Scarlet Johansson. Does anyone know her? Nah, seriously, I had my first girlfriend when I was just 7!  She was a cougar! Don’t worry she was just 8. Her mum was a teacher in my school, and totally approved because she stopped flogging me for not doing my homework! With such a checkered history, I can claim to know what love is, and I promise to show you in this blog in the future.

6. I am a horror movie buff. From the time, my elder siblings forced me to watch the Thriller video even though I was nearly passing out with fright. I have always liked scary movies – no, scratch that; I meant horror movies. Many Nollywood movies are scary, so I definitely meant horror movies. I also like epics, action (aka war film as it is called in Naija) blockbusters and gangster flicks.

7. I love music- I was listening to music in my mother’s womb. I heard the doctor was playing Bob Marley’s Jamming off the Exodus Album when my ma was in the theatre about to birth me. I came out by myself because I was feeling the lyrics. As the doctor slapped my bum to make me cry, he said he swore he saw me snapping my fingers to the jam.

My favorite artistes are Train, Nas, U2, Ghostface & Wu-Tang, AZ, and Michelle Branch. And MI2 is a slamming album. I also like old Nigerian music by Blakky, Oritz Wiliki, Danny Wilson, Onyeka Owenu and Junior N Pretty.

I am required to give this award to 15 other bloggers. My choices are:

A Bloke’s Life

Guerilla Basement

AngelsBeauty

Koinonia01

Diary of an unpaid intern

lookingglassofanimmigrant

Sugarking

Banky W

Celebrating Ndi-Igbo

Goodnaijagirl

Memoirsofanewlywednaijabride

Mondayingidi

TalesByMoonlight

Stuffnigerianshate

Thirtiesflirtyandthrivingin9ja

                                                                                                     Peace

Packaging

Package for me? I never ordered Agege bread..

For many English words, there is the ordinary meaning and then the Nigerian meaning.

Take the word “Packaging” for instance.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines it as “the act, process, industry, art, or style of packing” or “the manner in which something, such as a proposal or product, or someone, such as a candidate or author, is presented to the public.”

Fair enough.

In our dear country, Packaging refers to the act of doing the barest minimum to reach an acceptable standard even though the overall substance lacks quality. It also means padding a substandard material to bloat its appearance in excess of its utility.

Ok enough with my heavy grammar; packaging means – the more you look, the less you see.

I will illustrate as I always do.

There are times you order suya from a mallam and it comes wrapped up in sheets and sheets of newspaper. As your mouth waters in wanton anticipation of groundnut and pepper flavoured beef chunks, you  begin unwrap your “package” of suya which most times you will find, is harder to undress than an Egyptian Mummy. When you finally do, your face drops as you see the object of your affection in all its scant glory – a couple of bare strips of meat, but lots of onions and raw tomatoes. This looks like unwrapping a birthday gift wrapped in expensive paper only to discover the umpteenth photo frame gift you have received that day. Oh you shouldn’t have, you really shouldn’t have.

Not that I think that suya has anything in common with cheap photo frames, but you should get my drift. The suya mallam has expended the cost of 10 Sunday Thisday newspapers in wrapping up a N100 stick of suya, and has added N50 worth of “salad” materials for you. I hope you didn’t skip dinner for this – fufu or not.

  

At last some suya - it isnt called foil for nothing

 In my school in Britain some years back, there was this chap who barely managed to pay his school fees, and was put on some installmental payment plan by the Bursary Office on the pain of death that he pay up fully or he wouldn’t  be allowed to graduate. The situation was so bad, that the chap left the city where our varsity was located, and relocated to a much bigger city so that he could get 2 better paying jobs. He only had an average of 2-3 classes a week, so this chap made a 1 hour commute via train to the University on lecture days, spent the night and returned till the following week.

One of the jobs, this chap did was the famously known “freshen up.” For those who have lived in the UK, you know that most clubs or big bars have a steward/attendant manning the toilets. The steward had an assortment of sprays, perfumes, after-shaves and eau d’toilets arranged on a desk inside the toilet; some even stocked condoms and chewing gum. Whenever any customers or patrons used the loo and was about to wash their hands, the toilet steward would offer the customer to “freshen up” by offering him assorted hand creams to use or to spray any or some of the colognes on the table.

Most oyibo customers liked to freshen up, especially female ones who went to the toilets to touch up their make-up after boozing and sweaty dancing. The customer would usually then give the steward a tip, usually 1pound. Some drunken oyibo customers have been known to give up to 10 or 20 pounds in their drunken stupor. However no Naija or Chinese customer would give you more than 1pound, unless your cologne was called “Weakness for Men” and the club had served ogogoro and vodka cocktails.

At the end of the club night, the steward would calculate his overall takings and tips, and give the club a percentage (usually 20-30%). It was nasty work for some, but on good nights could pay up to 300pounds, which if you multiply by 5 days a week, is a decent sum to earn, albeit by spending time in toilets. It also helps that the bye-product of fish and chips is not nearly as bad as someone who has had lafun and bitter leaf topped with Star lager for dinner.

 

  

I have all types of perfumes for that smell "worrying" you

 

So this dude managed to make a tidy sum while working his “freshen up” job on exile. After some weeks, he decided he needed to travel to Nigeria to “floss” small. He quit his job, and spent a week thronging Zara, River Island, Hawes and Curtis, Charles Tyrwhitt and Cecil Gee buying shirts on discount. He also hit JJB Sports and copped a couple of sneakers and the latest Arsenal jersey for that season which he had inscribed with his name. His surname was longer than California’s governor’s now, so he spent quite a bit on the lettering.

He then hit Naija for Christmas vacation – and was a regular presence at all the events- bent

He returned to the UK flat broke in January, only to meet numerous demand letters from the school busary. Direct debits do not go on Christmas holidays, you see.

 

When he came to beg me for a loan, he explained what had happened.

I asked him why he travelled to Nigeria despite owing money up and down.

He answered unashamed “Packaging. I had to represent in Naija now.”

As at the time I graduated, he was still trying to pay off the remainder of his outstanding fees, and the school was threatening to downgrade his degree to a diploma.

Packaging, the Nigerian one, epitomizes all that is wrong in our dear country Nigeria today. People put up an act, a façade, mystifying smoke of the Wizard of Oz proportions either to win contracts, execute contracts, gain admissions, climb social ladders, conduct business or relate with people.

In Nigeria, there is no truth, only reality. And trust me, you don’t want to deal with human realities, expunging Godly truths. In the 2007 movie “The Last King of Scotland”, Forest Whitaker’s character Idi Amin tells James Mc Evoy’s character Nicholas the following chilling words “We are not a game, Nicholas. We are real. This room here, it is real. I think your death will be the first real thing that has happened to you…”

Nicholas did not die eventually, but he was hung with hooks through his bare skin about 6 feet in the air. That was real too.

Peep at another scenario:

The President decides to attend a private function in a certain state and as a result there is an influx of government ministers, senators and dignitaries. The globe-trotting, very corrupt, pot-bellied state governor decides to quickly commission a bore-hole to give the impression that he is performing and utilizing the state’s monthly subvention efficiently.

So the governor invites the President, some senators, commissioners and government dignitaries for the commissioning. The President sends a message at the last minute that unfortunately, he will not be able to attend and sends a special aide on “water and borehole matters” in his stead.

The borehole is being commissioned in the village of the Governor’s mother-in-law, but the press conveniently ignores this fact, as they are looking forward to rice and transport money after the event from the state secretariat.

At the main event, journalist cameras keep flashing; town criers go to town defending the South Africa frequenting governor on the pages on huge dailies. His cronies claim he has been globetrotting to seek foreign direct investment for the state – in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

State universities give the governor honorary degrees. Huge signs are put up at strategic areas of the state hyping the project as part of a government’s economic agendas and economic manifesto as well as irrefutable proof of taxpayer’s money in action.  The governor arrives in the cockpit of a 2011 Lexus Landcruiser SUV and cuts the ribbons to commission the project before dashing off.

The village ruler gives the Governor a chieftaincy title in absentia and adopts him as a son of the soil, and promises to support his re-election.

A few weeks later, that borehole breaks down and starts sprouting yellowish soil strewn water. To hush the farce, the commissioner for information quickly renames the project as Fanta for all by the year 2012.

It is in every area of our national consciousness – a chap presents a business proposal to you and seeks to influence your decision to award in his favour by whipping up sentiments and inducing nepotism. Ok you are related to his best friend because your grandfathers were cousins twice removed. The proposal is presented in very nice looking binding materials and the paragraphs are typed to within an inch of their life. On close scrutiny, you discover that the huge figures and million naira projections do not nearly add up, and that this project proposal was hurriedly and careless prepared without the expectation that it should stand on its merit. It has been “packaged” with the belief that other “extraneous” forces will push its case forward instead.

You toss it aside like an Olympic 20 leaves exercise book.

The chap tries to offer you an “incentive” to “look the other way”. You complain that you cannot, as you have had a stiff neck all your life.

The proposal presenter is angry, storms out of your office, and heads straight to (choose one)

  1. Babalawo
  2. Pastor of his church
  3. Report you to his best friend, saying you were acting like a mugu.

Note that he does not go back to “unpackage” and properly prepare his empty proposal.

And we have been packaging for years in Nigeria.

No books in the University? Buy hand-outs. If books were food, a hand-out will never satisfy because you are reading to pass exams and quench ignorance and not to gorge and be full of knowledge.

We have been packaging when we produce graduates that leave school and learn the most important skill of queuing for jobs or finding an “uncle” that can channel their resumes to the powerful tables for employment in crassly unprofessional banks. I watched The Social Network recently, and I cringed. Not one public Nigerian university can produce graduates or drop-outs of such ilk – entrepreneurs who would be able to take risks and create business empires.

We package our family by seeking comforts not legacies; we package our roads with gravel to cover pot-holes; we package our elections by focusing on persons, not personalities or issues. We package our businesses by offering poor value or customer service for money. Fly locally or internationally with some of our local airline carriers, and you will be well packaged like a parcel for delivery. As soon as you collect your boarding pass, it seems an invisible “by air mail’ sticker is stamped on your fore-head. I once travelled with a Naija airline where the plane did some F-16 stunts when attempting to land. Many of the passengers were scared stiff – never mind, the airline had served us chin-chin and hot Caprisonne. Talk about V.I.P treatment.

And the air conditioning was not working either. One old mama attempted to wind down to let air in.

But guess what, that airline has a user-friendly website which processes payment in the most efficient manner. The airline’s logos and tickets look world-class too. The airline company also employs yellow pretty looking air hostesses who wear the shortest skirts. But that is where it ends – as soon as you are aboard, the air hostesses stop smiling. Do you want to fasten your seat belts or do I have to bind you with a rope. Yeye Economy passenger.

Ok o, but the AC doesn’t also work in the First Class Cabin either. What did they pay for then? First class passengers get to board and disembark first. O—kay….

Even moi moi gets packaged now to make it what it isn’t – in foil paper, nylon or tins. What happened to our dear old moi-moi leaf?

Beans casserole aka Bean Loaf aka Cowpea Muffin (but never Moi Moi)

 

And our ladies package too. They package their looks – fair enough. But do you also have to package your interests and accents too? Especially to steal a march on others girls? Come on, princess.

A Lagos urban legend has it that a girl so “over packaged” herself that she deceived a world naive ajebo chap into proposing to her. She switched up her accent, made up a false history and padded aspects about her childhood. She claimed for example that she had attended Queens College Yaba, when in fact she had attended Queens School, Ugbaja. She ordered take-aways from Ghana High and the other eateries and “repackaged” them as home cooked treats in Thermos flasks and visited the guy everyday at his office during lunch. This girl couldn’t even boil water without burning it.

Off course she “packaged” her appearance as well employing Mac, L’Oreal, Bobbi Brown, Almay as well as fake eye lashes, acrylic nails, dental fronts and lace front wigs. She even employed a padded bra and a healthy slice of Mouka foam to upgrade her front features from a 32A to a 34DD.

When the overwhelmed guy was confronted with such beauty and grace, he liked it and decided to “put a ring on it”.

The wedding reception was held at the National Theatre.

In the morning after the wedding, the guy turned over and wondered who the stranger lying next to him was. It was the girl of course, now very plain-looking and unpackaged.

As Zebrudaya would say, “she are  now walk in the nakedness of nude.”

She greeted “Good morning, ‘oney” in a thick accent.

The guy was stunned, as he quizzed “Who the heck are you; where is my wife?”

The girl answered “I am your wife. Remember, we got married yesterday. They served chicken at the wedding”

The guy fainted. He must have suddenly gone cold turkey.

  

  

You’re an actor, you’re not who you’re depicted to be

Jay Z (Blueprint II, 2002)

 

Where Are They Now?

 
Majek fashied?

I spent New Year’s Day at my sister and her husband’s place. As soon as I knocked on her door, and she opened, I shoved the New Years cake I had bought for her and her kids into her hands and made a bee-line for the hot pot of oven fried rice still steaming on her Wok pan. Her husband had a keg of cold Heineken waiting along with several bottles of bubbly, Pina Colada cocktails and a few Piat Dors. I was well chuffed. The next door, our neighbours and their kids were lighting fireworks and tossing bangers creating a huge din in the neighborhood.

Never mind, I and my brother-in-law caused our own explosion – we mixed well fermented palm-wine with Guinness Extra Stout to create the biggest fizz and the most intoxicating cocktail ever.

Guests were arriving from both sides of the family.  So I quickly served myself another helping of the tasty fried rice so as to stock my belly against any future shortfalls.

Time to break out the music – I checked my host’s music collection looking for Katy Perry, Willow Smith or something for the kids, and some Lionel Richie or Boney M for the older people.

Looking through, I stumbled upon guess what, a Majek Fashek record (remember him?). The light-skinned, dreadlocked, reggae crooner who some people swore was a better artist than Bob Marley or Peter Mackintosh (Peter Tosh to you). I don’t know about that – these same people also strongly believed that Bruce Li was a much better fighter than his “brother” the late Bruce Lee, so one had to take anything they said with a pinch of Dicon salt.

Bruce Li - the next best thing but not quite Lee

Seeing that dusty Majek Fashek record lying there in a dusty crate right next to a JVC jukebox, reminded me of those old school Charles Bronson action flicks from the 70s, where Mr. Bronson took out hordes of Baretta wielding gangsters with his trusty double barreled shakabula.

Wow, who would have ever thought? I went looking for a Justin Beiber record and found a Majek Fashek one instead? Hmmm, maybe it is not as weird as you think… a future collaboration may be in order. Baby, Baby, Baby, uhhhhhh…..Mama Ma ma yo, Papa papa papa yo, send down the rain .

Then add a bit of Rihanna to the mix too: “ My umbrella , eh, eh, eh…”

We all have heard the sad story; Mr. Fashek relocated to the United States in the mid 90s following a lull in the Nigerian music industry and fell upon hard times, sadly succumbing to drugs, alcoholism and substance abuse. Folks who attended a Nigeria Independence Reunion Concert in New York and Houston were sad to see a bloated, disheveled, man with sunken eyes and a faded skin tone. Never mind that, I am all about celebrating greatness and the art forms.

Well, looking at that Majek Fashek record, made me reminisce like a technophobe grandpa, as I wondered about certain personalities from days gone past – where are they now?

Comfort Okoronkwo – With her “Pacesetters novel” style low cut mini afro and mischievous smile, she was a fixture at many programs on NTA in the eighties. This short haired light skinned lady was popularly known as the hostess of the Friday children’s birthday party show on TV sponsored by Beecham the makers of Ribena (Ribena children are healthy children). It was every child’s dream to be invited on to the show to celebrate their birthday along other kids of the same month.

Parents were so desperate to get their kids on this Ribena birthday party that some forged birthdays, one even lying that her daughter was born on February 30th to get her daughter into show. By any means necessary. Boys were dressed up in ill-fitting velvet suits and shiny pointed shoes with the trousers jumping and white socks showing, for the “Michael Jackson” effect.  Don’t laugh, today it is about the preppy look due to Kanye West’s influence, but back then everybody wanted to be like Michael (Jackson, Jordan but not Tyson when he started biting ears). Girls wore frilly dresses, Mary Jane pumps and white pull up socks. Fashion designers back then didn’t care for kid’s lines – thank you Gap Kids for today!

Ms Comfort made the children dance, she made them sing, she harried them, she disciplined them, she distributed their presents to them (Ribena, Math-set, Olympic Exercise book, pencil, eraser, Bazooka “ching-gum” etc); she also showed up on TV in the evening network news to us.

She was very single back then, and had the lips of a cigarette smoker. However she was a dedicated entertainment icon who deserves over-due recognition from our society for brightening up our television screens during the dark days of the military eighties. Long before Dominic Sasche and Ryan Seacrest, Nigeria had TV anchors multi-tasking in a variety of roles. Today we look at presenters like Denrele and Adaure Achumba, who are hailed as celebrities in their own right, but back then Comfort Okoronkwo was doing the same and more – presenter, newscaster, anchor, hostess, sister, auntie, icon…Where is she now?

Mobi Oparaku – Nigeria’s own Roberto Carlos (except without the long career or bullet free-kicks) Tenacious but vertically challenged, this right fullback represented Nigeria during the France 98 world and had a couple of caps for the Super Eagles team.

Many football analysts have opined that he was technically excellent but could not sustain a career in Europe due to his lack of height.  He wasn’t much taller than M.I., you see. 

In fact, Spain’s strategy during Nigeria’s first game at France 98 was to win ball through Fernando Hierro from the flimsy Garba Lawal and cross vertically to Mobi’s flank on the right side of the defense hoping to feed Raul in the air –  in fact peep Raul’s goal (Spain’s second one). He neatly controlled a diagonal cross from upfield, which had swerved way over Oparaku’s head like he wasn’t there, and in one neat movement Raul volleyed it past the flapping Peter Rufai in goal.  There wasn’t much Mr. Oparaku could have done to win the ball in the air before Raul got to it – this was a David and Goliath height contest. Besides, the last time I checked Mr. Oparaku played football, not basketball.

Now where is Raul?

Mobi’s popularity with sympathetic football fans who lauded his effort and doggedness on the pitch is epitomized in a popular incident during the Owerri riots that is now an urban legend. As the rioters made up of ordinary citizens of Owerri town took to the streets smashing up properties and cars during the infamous Otokoto saga, they set upon a house.

The lynch mob started smashing the house, and getting it ready for burning when someone recognized that a Mercedes S-Class parked inside belonged to Mobi who lived in Owerri as a child, owned properties there which he visited when he was back home from Europe. Apparently, he had parked his mint Mercedes car in someone’s house as his own garage could not contain it.  The mob were about to burn a house when they noticed Mobi’s car parked, and so they dragged the car  out of the yard for safety, before blazing down the house. Ah, football stokes the fires of neighborliness and patriotism in Nigeria. Ok, bad joke.

Pretty of Junior ‘N’ Pretty: These rapping duo dropped critically acclaimed magnum opus “Fufu Flavour” a 5-mic masterpiece which was the first rap album ever released in Nigeria to my knowledge. The album featured five star production, witty lyrics and incredible story telling including popular hits like “Monica’, “O Gini” and “Onye Police’. I bumped that album on my dusty Sunny transistor until the Maxell tape popped, and then I used cellotape to salvage the cassette too.

 Junior N Pretty showed imagination, wit and superb rhyming ability unmatched in Nigeria at that time. Peep some of the lyrics from “Monica” (a song about a crazy girlfriend) which was their first hit single:

“I buy Monica Maltina, she think say e be blood tonic/ She come dey ask me how many spoons she go take for morning.”

I remember seeing both of them – very down to earth chaps – walking down a street in Surulere with their shades, corn-row plaited hairs and chunky rings. Unfortunately a music career in hip-hop didn’t pay as it does now. Everywhere they went, they were respected, and “Fufu Flavour” bumped on every cassette player from Lagos to Gongola States.

Sadly, the dreaded sophomore jinx didn’t evade the group as a relatively disappointing 2nd album followed their first release with the song entitled “Bolanle” being their first single.

Junior passed away some years later, and Peter is believed to still be involved in entertainment as a producer. If Nigerian Music Industry ever thinks of a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame, then Junior N Pretty should be recipients of the first award. Many rap artists in America have released part 2 or follow up versions of hit albums from their catalogues with vary successes. Chef Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan recorded Only Built for Cuban Links 2 in 2009, and Jay Z had Blueprint 3 (from which Empire State of Mind was a single).

How Nigerian hip-hop could do with a Fufu Flavour 2.

Abiodun Baruwa – Fleshy fringe Super Eagles goal keeper during the pre France 98 era. In a pre-world preparation cup friendly match against the then Yugoslavia, Baruwa ended his chances of being selected for the final WC team, when he made gross error. Receiving a back pass from an under pressure defender, Baruwa who had time and space to play the ball out,  tried to dribble Pedrag Milhatovic the opposing striker who was on hot form at the time. Pedrag stole the ball from the flapping Baruwa whose pudgy physique always made him look clumsier than he really was, dribbled the goal keeper, and scored. Yugoslavia 2, Nigeria 0. Advantage Yugoslavia.

The Nigerian commentator kept on blasting Baruwa throughout the rest of the game. Besides why are Nigerian commentators not able to project their neutrality by covering their frustration during football games with other nations? You catch them saying things like the striker placed the ball in the “roof” of the net past Peter Rufai. Or Rigobert Song is on song against the shameless Nigerian team again. Or the Indomitable Lions of Cameron are plucking the feathers of these flightless Super Eagles.

After that Yugoslavia game, Baruwa never won another cap for the Nigerian team. Where is he now?

Evi Edna Ogoli – Alas, the original Bende(l) woman ( the ‘L” in Bendel is silent when people from Edo and Delta states pronounce it). Goaded by her music-producer husband, this ballad crooner churned out song after song in the 80s and early 90s in both English and her native Isoko dialect.

Dark and smiley, her most popular song was “I want to wish you Happy Birthday”. Celebrant kids of nowadays can request Chris Brown’s “Deuces” all they want, but back then no birthday party was complete without this song. And back then, you didn’t have a choice – your uncle was usually the designated DJ at your birthday party, and he invariably loved Evi Edna Ogoli. Not only was he going to eat most of your birthday rice, steal your cake, and corner most of the distributed “presents” for his delinquent kids, he was also going to enforce his music taste on you at your birthday.

 “Happy Birthday” was played and you the birthday girl/boy were made to do the Running Man dance step to it, cut your cake to it and play birthday games like musical chairs with your guests to it.

Her singing style was very slow and folksy, but back then nobody was complaining as she got immense radio-play and popularity.

Where is she now though?

Barbara Soki – This baby faced beauty was the Genevieve Nnaji of her day. She graced many TV sitcoms/soaps like “Mirror in the Sun”. She was not the best actress, but she had a great screen presence. My only thing with her, as was the same with most viewers, was the accent with which she spoke – her “phonee” was indeed legendary. I mean you had to strain your ear to listen to catch her words, or turn up your TV volume. And turning up your volume was not always easy back then as most volume knobs were nasty and rusty.

 It was a blend of Queens English, Nigeria English with a Bayelsa twang. She was the first person I heard say something like “That is not the issue” pronouncing the word “issue” without the “shhh” (something like “Evisu”).

In present day Nigeria, nothing has changed. I have heard many variations of fake foreign accents from both repatriates and those have only travelled when they watched movies or foreign shows. Nothing ever prepared me for the most common fake accent in Lagos right now – Lekki-British.

Ms. Soki, wherever you are, I hail o.

Mama and Papa Nothing Spoil of the Charlie Boy Show – These “couple” were hilarious. They were a parody of an agony uncle and aunt who gave advice to any callers or letter writers from the TV audience. People would phone in or write letters about their relationship problems, health issues or any other matters bothering them and “Papa and Mama Nothing Spoil” would give them the most ridiculous solutions ever.

My favourite one was when a lady called to complain that her husband of two years was a bed-wetter, who urinated on the bed every night when they slept. The woman said she was frustrated as she had tried many medical solutions, including even making him use the toilet immediately before bedtime, but to no avail.

Papa and Mama Nothing Spoil calmed the lady down as they proposed a lasting, fool-proof solution to her husband’s anomaly.

They said: “Make you go meet those people way de rent tent, and tell them say you wan buy trampoline. Make you collect the trampoline go give tailor; make the tailor use am sew tight pant for your husband. Make your husband dey wear this trampoline pant sleep for night.”

Well problem solved, with no side effects.

The duo disappeared with the original Charlie Boy show, along with very funny Alarm Blow. Comedic history, people. Long before Basketmouth, we had basket cases in the form of comedians in this country.

Uche Ibeto – Her alias was The Jigida Queen, named after the band of coral beads she wore around her ample sized waist. This gap toothed light-skinned woman of bulky proportions spurned Nigeria’s first traditional dance instruction song “The Jigida Song” with infectious chorus; Nigerian viewers were stunned when they watched her instruct audience saying:

“Round one, open your legs, put your hands on your hips like this, and go left and right, left and right, go ligi ligi ligi ligi ligi ligi ligi cha! cha!”

All this sing-along occured as she shook her bum, beads and all in a furious seductive manner.

Oh my daze!! Children everywhere loved this video and the song became quite popular because of the manner she instructed the bewildered audience how to do her dance. Yes, way before American artistes were trying to teach us how to do the “Stanky leg” or “the Ricky bobby” or before Artquake tried to learn us a new dance through the retarded “Alanta” or Olu Maintain ordered us to “Yahooze” , Uche Ibeto tried to instruct us to shake our butts in a frenzy.

It is one of the shames of my life as a junior – I will confess that before I learnt the art of cool, I once did the Jigida dance (but without the beads off course). I also once tried to do Soulja Boy’s Superman, so maybe I can get a pass.

I never attempted the “Alanta” though. Somehow, something about it reminded me off a lunatic battling a bad case of craw craw.

Unknown name -The guy that sang “Molue/Lagos city transport…/

50 sitting, 30 standing - 150 scrambling to board

I am sorry I cannot remember his name, and Google could not help me, but what an ode that track was to our world famous bus system – the mighty, gravity defying Molue.

Aunt Nkem – the woman who told the stories on Tales by Moonlight – Every Sunday around 4pm, children everywhere in Nigeria would tune in to NTA to watch this warm middle aged lady illustrate  stories perfectly as wide-eyed kids in the studio audience gathered around her taking in her every word.

To begin her stories she started with the words “Once upon a time…”

“Time, time…” the kids chorused.

Aunt Nkem would then start…and the scene would now fade to an acted script with human actors, animal costumes or both. The animal costumes were nothing like Sesame Street or Fraggle rock though. The lion looked scary, but not because it was the King of the Jungle or a carnivore – nah, it was cross –eyed and had gnashers instead of canines. The elephant costume was not any better – its tusks and trunks faced opposite directions making it look like a cross between an octopus and a rhinoceros. The 7 blind men from Hindustan would have had problems identifying the elephant.

The stories told were usually folk tales and native lore laced with a moralistic undertone espousing the repercussions of disobedience, stealing or telling lies, which were never lost on the fearful kids in the audience usually in the 6-10 year age bracket.

After Aunty had concluded her story telling she allowed a brief question and answer session during which the children asked questions or made postulations regarding the just concluded folk-tales. Some of the questions went like this:

“Aunty, Aunty, Alero should never have disobeyed her parents by going to the river on the day of the festival. Now she paid the price for disobedience.” Rivers were nothing to mess with in village tales .Look at what one did to Mungo Park even.

“Aunty, the rabbit may have been faster than the tortoise but the tortoise was more intelligent and won the race. Intelligence is better than speed.”

All to which, Aunt Nkem would nod happily to as she agreed with them.

At a story-telling session at the NTA studio, I drew her ire when I made an unsolicited statement during the Q & A time. “Aunty Aunty, I would like to be an eagle when I grow up.”

“Why?” she asked sweetly.

“Because they catch a lot of chicks” I replied cheekily, looking at the girls around me with their cute “periwinkle “plaits.

I was not invited to the next taping session the following week.

Thank you Aunt Nkem, for over a decade of stories.

And thank you my dear blog readers for your readership since last year.

 

 

Some things are forever, some things are not/

It’s the things we remember that gave the world shock/

They stay in a place in your mind so snug/

Nas (Can’t Forget about You, 2006)

May I Take Your Order Please?

I don't know what is inside either

Forget some of the lukewarm service waiters or patrons in Nigerian restaurants give clients; what about the brash behaviors of Nigerian punters at foreign restaurants?

Nigerians loved to be served hand and foot at restaurants or eateries. When we go out to eat, we expect to be treated like kings and queens. Even a chap, who only plans to spend only N50 on a plate of food without any meat, wants to receive a 1000 naira treatment. And why not?

I once went to a buka somewhere in Ikeja called “Image Is Nothing”, and after “demolishing” a huge plate of rice featuring beans, and downing a huge bottle of Harp, I decided to chill, sit where I was for a while, to let the contents settle in my stomach before hitting the road. Some customers who had ordered their food were sighing as they looked about for vacant chairs in the over-crowded buka. I didn’t care – I wasn’t moving an inch because I was very full, and had even loosened my belt; besides I had just paid a ridiculous 400 naira for my food, as so I deserved to seat in my chair till thy kingdom came.

One man walked into the buka with a strut like he owned the joint. He was dressed in an Igbo “Isi-agu”outfit and a red cap, and carried a brief case.  Immediately he steps in, the dude starts barking orders. I counted at least 7 demands he made of Ma Mise, the buka owner or Pascaline her waitress.

Pssst…Pascaline make you bring water make I drink…”

“Madam, this una food no sweet at all. Una sabi wetin salt be, at all?”

“How much meat be this? Oya come collect this plate make you put extra soup”

“This fufu strong like Olumo Rock.

“Bring me water for wash-hand’

“Abi una nor get tooth-pick. This una strong meat don scatter my teeth”

“Abeg na wetin be my bill”

It was N100. He was livid – “Una dey craze? Una done become LCC wey wan collect toll gate fee?”

Needless to say, he didn’t tip Pascaline.

He muttered a curse under his breath as he collected all his change, he turned and was about to exit the joint when he noticed something.  Pointing nervously at a “horn and red feather” hanging on the wall, his voice shook a little as he said “ Na wetin be that thing” Ma Mise didn’t look like she had a ready answer or was about to tell the truth. She shot Pascaline a deadly look, when it looked like she was about to answer, so Pascaline quickly shut it.

Alarmed, the man dashed out of the buka, like he was running for his life as he screamed “I no go de come chop here again. E don tay since I dey wonder how you de get plenty customers but your food nor sweet”

Suddenly my food had digested, and I decided to beat it all as well. Similarly, a man who had ordered a plate of spaghetti suddenly shoved it away like he was seeing worms on his plate instead. An elder man chewing on a chicken leg spat it out immediately in a dazed state. Customers started thronging out of the joint immediately shouting obscenities and pointing to the “otumopkor” (jazz) hanging on the wall.

Na wa for Naija people sha. They never cease to amaze when food is concerned. The worst in people come out when they are at bars or eating out.

One of the weirdest things I have come across is from people who go out for drinks in those open-air, pepper-soup joints. You see a group of guys sitting at a table having drinks, with many empty bottles of Gulder, Star, Harp or Stout on the table. A naïve waitress once tried to clear the table by removing these empty bottles so as to create space for the new orders, but had her hand slapped away by one of the drinkers “ Make you comot that your dirty hand! U de craze? Oya go bring me another cold 33 beer”

Someone once explained to me that these empty bottles, now numbering about 30, were left on the table for certain reasons:

  1. To ensure accountability and ensure that the bill is calculated accurately: The bar-tender or drinking palour madam would not be able to manufacture phantom amounts in her head when the bill is being calculated, as the number of empty bottles will simply be multiplied by the price to deduce the amount, thereby eliminating cheating.
  2. Social status: Other drinkers in the bar would be able to see that the guys on the table filled with empty bottles are “ballers” who have spent a huge fortune on alcohol, thereby increasing their fame and social standing. Don’t laugh; P.Diddy used to do this too. With bottles of Ciroc Vodka, not Golden Guinea Lager though.

Nigerians also carry their crazy behavior abroad too. Funny enough, most of the incidents I know about have occurred in Chinese restaurants, don’t ask me why. I think, it is because most Chinese patrons have shot fuses, and do not suffer fools gladly. There also seems to be a historical relationship between erring black customers and angry Asian store/restaurant owners. Study the first scene in the 1993 gangster movie “Menace II Society” where a flippant Korean/Chinese store owner said something bad about actor Lorenz Tate’s mother.

One time in London, I and a couple of mates wanted to get something to eat around 11pm, after a night of tripping. One of my pals, Oke suggested one Chinese restaurant/take away joint on Golders Green high street. The restaurant had a buffet section as well where you could select a bit of everything on the menu for about 7pounds. Everything you served yourself had to fit and be sealed into a small Chinese take away pack which was also provided for at the joint.

How much food can you possible stack into a take away pack, right? Wrong. It was that day that I found out that some Naija guys could insert a house, a car, a cow and a bag of rice into a take-away pack. The Chinese owner watched and swallowed nervously as Oke and one of our other friends UD stacked fried rice, Singapore fried noodles, Chow Mein, then mushrooms, deep fried Won Tons, spring rolls, Mongolian beef in oyster sauce, beef in broccoli, Cheng Du chicken, crispy skin duck, General Tsao chicken, Kung Pao chicken, lemon chicken, Salt and Pepper squid, sweet and sour pork then top everything up with Hoy Sin sauce.

 Oke looked at my own pack and laughed, as he explained “That is not how it is done. First you put the chicken and the beef, then you squash it in before you add rice and noodles in all the crevices between the rice and noodles. You squash them all in, then add spring rolls, then top it all with sauces.”

Yes, they can all fit into a small take-away pack

The Chinese man was listening to Oke explain this to all of us, and swallowed again as he was becoming increasingly agitated. A bunch of Nigerian guys serving themselves in this manner is bound to ruin any buffet business.

We watched as one of our other friends started applying Oke’s advice by topping up his already full pack and holding the top with his palm to prevent the bulging food from spilling out.

 Alas the Chinese man couldn’t take it anymore, as he ordered us out of his restaurant, barking “You take money back or leave shop now!”

We decided to “cut our losses” and “leave shop now”, rushing into the high street with our take away packs spilling their contents all over the ground, with the Chinese man behind us shaking his fists furiously.

Nothing prepared me for the incident that occurred in a Chinese restaurant in Houston, TX.

A couple living in America had the wife’s parents come and visit them from Nigeria, and so decided to take them out for a meal at a Chinese restaurant.

They walked into the restaurant and were ushered from the reception to their seats.

Ma Ugbaogu the mother-in-law, to the amazement of all present, stood up, called one of the waiters and pointed to a big yellow goldfish in the aquarium, as she said in the best foreign accent she could feign “I want that one. Make you prepare it well well and put lots of pepper and cut onions too.”

Ma Ugbaogu had thought that the aquarium was a tank for ordering “Point-and-Kill” fish. Turning to her husband for affirmation, she continued in Igbo “Azu nke na-atu uto.” (This kind of fish is usually tasty).

 

 

 

I think I am ready to order now

 

The Chinese restaurant people were not amused though, and they make it known – “You leave store now.”

As the now embarrassed couple was exiting the restaurant with their parents in tow, one of the visibly upset Chinese patrons at the door sarcastically muttered to them “I am sorry for your mother.” Hmmm, I wonder what it is with them and abusing people’s mothers.

Sometimes the bad treatment may be uncalled for. I and a female Nigerian friend of mine Yolinda once went to a local Chinese joint somewhere in a “razz’ part of North London. Let me describe my friend, she was one of those unconventional, cant-be-bothered type, tom-boyish type of girl who did absolutely anything she wanted. If you took her out to eat, she would remove all the jewelry on her hands and fingers, and get busy with the food. She was a cheap date’s worst nightmare, as she tried almost everything on the menu. Yes, I mean everything. And she loved buffets; that way she could keep going again and again, until she had tried all they had to offer. Many a time, she hardly finished what was on her plate, before going to get more food.

When we got into the joint, we noticed that the buffet table didn’t have as much variety as most upscale Chinese restaurants. Yolinda went for the first round, and got some soup and rolls. She sat down, pecked at it and soon got bored with it. As she sat down with her half-finished plate of food, she noticed that none of the waiters came to take away the plate. We also noticed that there were no stacks of clean plates by the buffet tables. Obviously this restaurant was set up in a way to deter customers from staying too long or eating too much, by not providing clean plates.

Yolinda was pissed off when she noticed this, so she started wiping her plates clean with tissue napkins from our table, or from the table next to us, when she wanted to go for another round. She did this for a couple of rounds, but the plate got too messy eventually. She now wanted more food, and needed a clean plate so she could have fruit, ice-cream and cheese-cake, so she hailed a waiter who was passing by. The waiter “eyed” her, sighed and ignored her! You can imagine a Chinese person “eyeing” you! I couldn’t believe it; he really wanted her to get lost!

Sometimes these waiters bring out the worst in customers. Overzealous restaurant staffs seeking to curry favour for a tip end up rubbing off Nigerians the wrong way. A pot-bellied Nigerian banker in his late 40s went to a popular joint somewhere on the Mainland to eat during his lunch break. He took off his blazer, hung it on a chair and ordered a huge, huge plate of pounded yam and ogbono soup, garnished with round-a-bout, shaki, ponmo, snail and ogunfe (goat meat). The massive amount of food was brought to him by a youngish, inexperienced looking waiter, whom he chided for bringing him cutlery which he rejected. He asked for a basin so he could wash his hands as he wanted to eat the poundo with his fingers. He also asked for an extra plate, so that he could separate the numerous pieces of meat and assorted from the soup to allow him maneuver properly.

He started eating the food, visibly enjoying it, and almost rushing it in his excitement, when the waiter came up to him and said “Sir, there is a big soup stain on your tie.”

Tie strain

The banker looked down from his delicious meal, and saw that his neck tie had a soup stain on it. He tried wiping it with his clean left hand, but only succeeded in spreading the sticky stain further in a way that ogbono does.

Visibly he irritated, he hissed and threw the tie over his shoulder, and continued with his meal, using the pre-molars on his teeth to tackle a stubborn piece of cow-leg, while now being mindful of the drooling ogbono.

He was now about to tackle the ogunfe, when the waiter tapped him rigorously on the shoulder.

When he spun around, the overzealous waiter said “Sir, there is another big stain at the back of your shirt.”

True to word, the tie he had flipped over his shoulder earlier had inflicted a massive palm-oil stain at the back of his white “T.M. Lewin” button-up shirt.

He wasn’t grateful for the latest piece of information though, as it had interrupted his appointment with the ogunfe. So he barked out this instruction to the bewildered waiter “Get lost and allow me enjoy my food in peace or I will slap demons out of your face!!!”

Looking at the floor, the waiter meekly said “Ok sir; let me get your bill.”

 

 

Always knew that I would clock g’s/

“But welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order please/

Got to serve you food that might give you cancer/

 Ice Cube (Bird in the Hand, 1991)