Now Let Me Show You Where I’m From

Omotola Jalade Ekeinde recently embarked on a tour of America which no doubt will introduce her to a new demography of fans – Nigerians living abroad, African-Americans and a white audience too.

Nigerian entertainment, to its credit, has become a product that can be sold and exported. Aki and Pawpaw are well known stars in many African countries of the world, one with a national honour to boot.The other day I was shown a picture of Genevieve sitting front row with Nike Oshinowo at the Arise Fashion show, and I could have closed my eyes and imagined i had seen the one of the Olsen Twins with Blake Lively at a Marc Jacobs event at NY fashion week. Oh Arise, O compatriots. It is ironic, because a good decade or more back, I was getting some ice-cream at a joint on Adeniran Ogunsanya, and saw Victoria Enyeama there, but nobody in the place “sent” her.

So it is obvious that there has always been a cross-transfer of cultures between Nigeria and America. We have had African-American artistes come here to perform at concerts and also for social causes. Monique attended one of Genevieve Magazine’s charity balls for cancer. Lionel Richie, dripping wet Jheri curls and all,  performed at the ThisDay Awards some years back, and I laughed my head off watching pot-bellied Nigerian politicians shuffle their agbadas to “All Night Long”. Not to forget the stars who have graced this shores for various concents – Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Jay Z, Beyonce.

Some foreign acts have even collaborated with our own stars. Snoop and D’Banj remixed “Mr, Endowed”; Tuface featured R-Kelly (at least on paper). Sound Sultan even brought Wyclef on stage at Rhythm Unplugged  a few years back, while some other chaps even got Busta Rhymes to speak a li bit of pidgin English lingo “so tay”.

Not all collaborations – musically, artistically or physically - have been endearing. Eedris “ Jigirijigiri” Abdulkareem nearly pummelled 50 Cent to a pulp on a Nigerian aircraft, while Kelly Rowland was overwhelmed by the Abuja heat and fainted on stage.

I remember the time Naughty By Nature came over; Treach threw his jacket into the crowd at  concert in Benin and before it reached the ground, it had been torn into little pieces as some of the hard guys there grabbed for it. The group also heard a knock on the door of the hotel room, and saw a posse of hardcore Benin guys there – they had to settle with forex.

Some wealthy Nigerians have brought in American acts for private functions too. My sister went for a wedding in 2008 where Boney M performed for the couple, one of the songs they sang ofcourse was “ Money, money, money…it’s a rich man’s world.” How apt.

Joe was also hired by another monied individual to serenade his bride in Nigeria. In fact I hear that a member of top 70s and 80s band Shalamar currently resides in Nigeria permanently

It may have started with a trickle – people would tune into Cool FM back in the day to hear Dan Foster’s voice on the radio. It was either that or Kenny on Raypower. Back when I was in university, there was a girl whose claim to fame was that she was dating Dan Foster, a fact which she crooned into anybody’s ears the first time she met the person. I guess she was a foster-child.

The transfer of cultures has not always been through the medium of music, film or other kinds of social entertainment. Unfortunately, since the days of the Cross Altantic slave-trade, citizens of modern day Nigeria have been going to America or the New World  ( when it was known as such).

Before then, in the 15th Century, one of the great Obas of ancient Benin sent his son to Portugal to learn their language and cultures so as to enhance trade relations between the two nations. This is the first recorded instance of a “Naija” person in diaspora, so as you see Nigerian folks have been ‘janding’ for a long time, but they didnt have any airs about it. Some repatriates could learn a lessson here.

During the slave trade, a good number of people were taken from West Africa including the coasts of Lagos, present Niger Delta and coastal areas facing the Bight of Biafra. Badagry sea-port was the Murtala Mohammed airport of its day. Instead of seat-belts on the airplane, the maltreated slaves had chains. Instead of airhostesses, the slaves had task-masters and cruel ship-masters and crew-men. There were no airplanes back in the slavery era; rather they had huge wooden ships which were poorly ventilated, dark, and put the slaves’  lives at risk, I see not much has changed between now and then –I could be describing Badagry and the slave ships, and still be referring to Murtala Mohammed International Airport and the state of Nigerian aviation.

More about that next week.

And slaves taken from territories in Southern Nigeria also had an impact when they got to oyibo plantations in Yankee.

In the bestseller ‘Roots’ by Alex Haley, it was mentioned that newly captured Igbo slaves led a revolt against their owners, many of them committing suicide by jumping into a river rather than being recaptured. Igbo Kwenu! O di kwa risky.

Sometimes I look at some black Yankee celebs, and notice that by mannerisms and physical attributes,  some of them could pass for Nigerians. We all know a few with Naija roots, and even Naija names. Chinwetel Ejiofor is a good example – look closely at your favourite black musician or actor, you could see your brother, sister, kinsman or tribesman. And no, Halle Berry can never count.

Yoruba is said to be the second most widely spoken African language in the world, second only to Swahili apparently. I dunno, with the number of Igbos in Houston and Singapore it may be hard to say ( I have heard Igbo spoken in Germany as well). But then it is probably true because no African-American has to my knowledge, ever named their child Ebonyi or Okija; Yes you are more likely to hear names like Kenya or Taniqua, or even Oludara (Nas’s middle government name). Please nobody, especially African Americans should ever name their child Congo or Bakassi – African renaissance or not.

Forest Whitaker, the ‘Last King of Scotland’ actor reportedly has an Igbo parent and came to Nigeria to trace his roots some years back.

Ike Turner beat demons out of his wife. If you watch the movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It” starring Angela Basset, you would have hated Lawrence Fishbourne even though he was just playing a character (Ike Tuner who physically abused Tina Turner throughout their marriage). Someone once told me a name like ‘Ike’ Turner, sounds like a typical Igbo wife-beater. Me che onu biko.

Seal and Sade have Yoruba roots – Sade is from Ekiti state, my friend tells me. I somehow can’t still imagine her swallowing that white stuff though. Pounded yam, not cocaine.

I believe Seal’s Naija roots based on his looks alone. But then people lied about Shola Ama being from Nigeria. Chamillionaire has Yoruba parents and his real surname burtresses that fact.

Being the Giant of Africa, and a populated nation, we had to bear some unfortunate indiscretions due to our size. Whenever a black person commits a crime in a Western country, he is presumed to be Nigerian until rebutted, and some nationals of other African countries sometimes lie and claim that they are Nigerians when they fall foul of the law. So we will have to take the good with the bad. Since everyone else likes making us the fall guys, we should also claim the success stories too. Could the following African Americans be closet Nigerians or decendants of Nigerians taken abroad during the slave era? They look it, and I don’t doubt it one bit.

 

Flavor Flav (Yoruba) Monroof Salami Saheed

Foxy Brown  (Kalabari) Ongodi Longman - Whyte

Foxy Brown (Kalabari) Ongodi Longman -Whyte

Toni Braxton (Igbo) Ihuoma Okereke

 

Jay Z (Edo) Osamede Ogbe

Jennifer Hudson (Yoruba) Morinike Bolarinwa Akindoju

Snoop Dogg (Hausa-Fulani) Ibrahim Ahmed

Bun B (Igbo) - Chimaobi Okpara

Trishia Arnold (Yoruba) Kemi Olaniji-Philips

Jim Jones (Hausa) Abubakar Mahmood Isa

T.I (Igbo) Ogechukwu Orji

Rick Ross (Yoruba) Abdulazeez Balogun

Rihanna (Itsekiri) Eiyetemi Toju

Gabourey Sidibe ( Looks Ghanian, sorry) Nana Kwaku - Oforokwaiye

Don’t care where you come from/
As long as you’re a black man, you’re an African/

No mind your nationality/

Peter Tosh (African, 1983)

The Pounded Yam and Pure Water Awards (3)

Balling...

 

CLAP OFFERING

  1. The movie “Limitless” by Bradley Cooper and Bob DeNiro was quite awesome, if not a tad bit too long. You should go see it, if you haven’t ; I could not help but think about how wonderful it would be if that magic bill which boosts brainpower to 100% capacity were available to some of our national leaders in Nigeria.
  2. Sharwama, bacon patties, ranch sauce and fries at Pride of Eden (Heavenly Foods), Ikota Shopping Complex, VGC.
  3. “The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius” a book by Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti. What a great read. Except  if you are a bitter supporter of a small North London club. I joke, I joke, but alas it is working.
  4. Apollonia’s character in the movie “Blackberry Babes” Please help me come and set this my phone. Haha. She is really getting better at this
  5. The indictment of Jessica Tata by repatriation from Nigeria, to face manslaughter charges due to her negligence which caused a fire that killed kids at a childcare facility.
  6. The resilience, discipline, strength and charity shown by Japanese people despite the tsunami disaster and pending nuclear radiation. Someone even rescued a dolphin washed  and trapped on a wet rice paddy and released the weak animal into the sea. Contrast with how a stranded whale on Lagos’s Alpha beach ended up as sushi in a matter of minutes (a Japanese dish by the way)
  7. A train service between Lagos and Illorin has been re-vamped and resumed after decades. The prospect of  fully functional trains in Nigeria brings a smile to my heart. So many possibilities, I can live in my village, and work in Lagos. Deaths by car accidents which have hit us had recently will reduce drastically. And I will definitely tell Aero and Arik to stick it.

Dulling...

YEYE

  1. PDP manufacturing bags of rice for distribution during their campaigns. The last time food and politics were combined, the starving and impoverished masses (the great unwashed, as they were cruelly called then) ended up with all the French bread they could eat, by executing via beheading at the guillotine, the excessively wasteful French monarch and his tactless wife Mary Antoinette. It was her who had asked “ What do the people need bread for; let them eat cake” (in Naija that would be the National Cake)
  2. The brouhaha and racist outrage at the relationship between Miss Ireland and a Nigeria. Come on peoples, Colin Farrell once had a sex-tape scandal involving a black ex-Playboy bunny Nicole Narain in 2005. No one spoke then. The funny thing is that in Nigeria, inter-racial relationships are glorified, unless it is an ashewo/ex-pat arrangement. I remember one time, an oyibo expat was taking an evening jog in Victoria Island, when he went past a prostitute on Adeyemo Alakija. She started following him immediately, jogging with him in her high heels and fish-net tights to keep up. He told her he wasn’t interested, but she wasn’t deterred at all. She obviously thought that oyibo = dollars = possible marriage = moving to Yankee. She offered to give him “a free one on the house” in an abandoned Danfo bus in the corner of the road – a trial will convince you, Mr McDonald.
  3. The quality of the arguments, answers and presentations by the candidates NN24 sponsored Presidential debate; not much of a higher standard than “Speak Out” the now defunct children’s debate show on NTA. How can a candidate when asked about what he would do about power, answer that he would go and see what is on ground when he enters. Whatever happened to research , fact-gathering and preparing your points. Madness. I liked the presenter though.
  4. People bashing the Blackberry as being a fad or a fashion item in Nigeria. Dude, it is a fantastic device to own. Besides Naija people did the same thing with Samsung True i, Nokia 3310 and a host of other brands.
  5. Buhari getting himself into a tangle during the presidential debate by promising to probe all former governments for Nigeria’s power problems despite the huge investments.

Fatty Bum Bum

Great, I have shed a couple of pounds..

Lounging on my lazy boy sofa  yesterday, I was flicking through channels on the TV bored to tears,  when the Tyra Banks show came on. I was about switching the channel when a part of the conversation between Tyra and a dark-skinned plump lady caught my attention. The woman had discriminatory issues against overweight and obese people, saying that they disgusted her so much that she had stopped talking to her best friend who had gotten very large by gorging on sandwiches, cookies and fast food.

The lady also argued that the American society should quit trying to dance around the issue of obesity in the name of political correctness by encouraging the use of terms like “big”, “curvy” and “chubby” rather than “fat” and “obese.”

The show had a roundtable discussion with about 4 or 5 women including some obese ones. One of the ladies said whenever a “ fat” person tried to seat next to her in a bus or a public place, she changed seats. She also added that she, like many employers post-recession apparently, was adverse to hiring overweight candidates for jobs as they could not perform as efficiently as slender employees. Someone else with the same inclination, added that obese people usually smelled bad as “dirt and body sweat were likely to accumulate in between stomach folds.”

Tyra was amazed. She felt that this was a discriminatory issue that needed to be brought to American national consciousness in the same manner as racial discrimination or religious bigotry. Having been a victim of abuse herself when her cellulite-laden derierre was snapped on camera spilling out of a one-piece bikini while on holiday in a beach and appeared in various tabloids some years ago, she sighed as she observed that there were no laws which guarded against weight discrimination.

Do overweight people have it rough?

In the 2009 movie The Watchmen, one of the “superheroes” a character named Rorschach refused to answer a question, saying to the interrogator – “I dont like you…because you’re fat.” O ga o.

Underfeed on sight..

Weight is also an issue in Nigeria, but perhaps many people still mis-read how serious of an issue it may be. There were traditional fattening rooms in ancient Calabar for adolescent teenage girls in preparation for marriage and adult life – but the ladies were not only fed and plumped up, they were thought very useful life skills; Ibo men are known to have huge girths due to having fufu, carbohydrate in a lump form, as their traditional staple diet. When people see a strange dark woman in her late 40s and above with a large bosom and a massive bum enter a room, they are likely to greet her by half-kneeling and saying “E ka aro ma” as quite many older Yoruba women are built like that. I won’t say it is because of the ewedu.Jo o, my Yoruba friends; I am just illustrating a point.

 

Many Nigerian foods have a high calorie content. Even moi moi if cooked with groundnut oil, egg yolk and corned beef included can be potent, steamed as it is. A huge loaf of Agege bread and agonyi beans (palm oil and all) may hurt your waistline nearly as much as a steak and bacon double whooper with cheese from Whattaburger.

Eba anchors the stomach, and ogbono soup goes straight to the thighs. Its sooo hard.

 

Mind the fish-bones...and the calories


There was a time people equated your social status with the size of your stomach, face and thighs.  E-Honda was rich and respected, Dhalsim was not. A muffin top or a double chin was a sign of affluence. If you were an middle-aged Ibo man on the come-up, those thick-folds behind your neck, nicknamed “obi oko” signified that you were a man of means. If you had a 32 inch waist and a slender build, you were presumed to be a man of beans. And beans in Naija used to be seen as poor man’s food.

Now attitudes are changing a bit especially in the urban metropolis of Lagos, Port city and Abuja where the demography of middle Nigeria has been changed forever by the “blackberry generation” and the “repatriates” (Diaspora returnees). Okay let me break this down: fat may no longer seen as cool. And we have some people in this country who will want to tell you this to your face. Every.chance. they. get.

At a wedding, whether you are a guest or the groom – bros, see as your belle dey shoot comot from inside your coat.

 

In a danfo or molue bus – Madam, e be like say you go pay double o. See as you fat reach. Make you dress inside well well, or make you come down make my 2 passenger enter motor. E san wo iseyin.

 

At a Tejuosho market shop buying clothes – Aunty, if you like make you divide yoursef into 3; this cloth no go size you. See as you don stretch the material go. Abeg free am, I no get ya size. Make I call my brother for shop B23 see if im get your size.

 

In Nigeria, strangers are friends who will know you in a minute whether you like it or not. Someone whom you have never said a word to before is likely to grab at your love handles, or slap your muffin top as they lament about your weight gain.

 

And even outside the shores of our dear country, the criticism goes un-abated.

An elderly woman of about 70 from Warri travels to Atlanta, USA to visit her son whose wife has just given birth to twins. Iya ibeji or twin tower of doom? On the 2nd day of her stay, the man takes mama to a chinese buffet for dinner ( a rite of passage for most Nigerian people visiting Yankee).

The man and his mama go for their “first round.” Mama does not recognise all the strange-looking dishes in front of her, and plays it safe by ordering rice, vegetables and the steamed tilapia.

As mama sips her drink, she spies a 20-year-old, 280 pound oyibo girl in the booth next to theirs who has just returned from the food-tables with a plate loaded with fried rice, spring rolls, fried biscuits, chow mein, fried pork, spare ribs etc.

Mama is amazed as she watches the girl make short work of the huge plate of wood in mere minutes. Mama eyes the girl sternly. The girl does not notice or pretends not to notice as she works a huge pork rib laden with honey glazed sauce.

This process repeats itself, as the girl finishes her food, and goes for more and more.

Mama decides to have some fruit as desert and strolls to the fruit section, which also has the ice-cream and cake. As she serves some diced paw paw on her plate, she notices the 280 pound girl pouring chocolate/vanilla ice-cream into a huge cup.

Mama cannot keep quiet this time. Yelling in perfect Waffi pidgin, she chides “ E never do you?! E never-never do you?!!! You still de shop food again! Na only you?!!! E never do you?!!!”

The oyibo girl dropped the contents of the cup on the floor, as she turned away bursting into the tears. Everyone in the restaurant turned around looking dazed. Some mothers covered their chubby children’s ears and eyes with their palms.

The son came and led angry mama away.

I think mama should be chosen to be a trainer on The Biggest Loser.

Tyra despite her brief “annus horribilis” during she added ‘weight’ and received criticism has no idea. She should come to Naija, a place where overweight people are likely to be called more than that.

Forget terms like BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) or “curvy”. Even “fatso” sounds tame. Try words like fatty bum bum, fuji ropo ropo, spare tyre, 50 litre jerry-can, fatilizer…

The word “Orobo” does not count because when you hear that word used to describe a person, you imagine a curvy girl with cute weight or baby fat in just a few places. Think Jasmine Sullivan or Ini Edo. By the way, much props to Wande Coal for bringing Nigerian bootylicious sexy back.

While we are on the subject, why do people generally use the term “morbidly obese” but never “perilously lekpashandous” or “fatally thini-beku”?

There used to be some parts of Lagos where overweight people are taunted on

the streets. Someone once told me that the story of her life could be summed up in this bit of poetry:

People used to see me and say “Here comes the Michellin (tyre) / Later I became immune  to their insults like penicillin /

Mama is not the only one that I have heard or seen have a serious go at an overweight person, with good intentions or not.

Many years back, I used to go to a gym 2 days a week to lift weights. The gym was owned one of the slimmest 50-year-old Nigerian women I had ever seen. She  was also absolutely gorgeous, with firm legs and washboard abs. The gym had a trainer who took on clients on fitness programs.

There was this  middle-aged, light-skinned,  married Ibo woman who had just joined the gym and had taken on the trainer who had planned a steep weight-loss regime for the lady who was quite big. The woman always clashed with the trainer as she could never keep pace in her work-outs and kept on complaining of fatigue.

There was a day I got to the gym, and saw the woman munching on boiled groundnuts while she casually did a slow walk on the treadmill. The trainer was furious as he had instructed her to do a 5 min brisk walk, then 10 minute fast jog and alternate this until she had done 45 minutes. The lady had ignored him, and reduced the treadmill pace to a very slow stroll, as she shelled and chewed a huge bag of peanuts.

At that moment the owner of the gym walked in, in her sports vest, showing her brick stomach, and some Nike running shoes. When she saw the big woman chewing peanuts, she lost it and laid into her:

“What the hell do you think you are doing. As fat as you are, you still snack on groundnuts?”

The embarrassed pea-nut woman turned red as she tried to feebly explain “ But they are the boiled ones, na”

The gym CEO disregarded the explanation “ Boiled or fried, you really should not be eating groundnuts. Each nut contains 5 calories. You keep on coming to my office for weight counselling and complaining that you are not losing any weight, but we now know what you do when you go home. As overweight as you are, you should only snack on fruits like pawpaw or orange. All the weight you have are on your stomach and thighs!”

Turning to the trainer, she ordered him to confiscate the bag of groundnuts and throw it in the trash bin downstairs for good measure.

Then she walked up to the treadmill, and increased the speed to sprint-mode. Groundnuts woman ran herself into the ground that day.

Me, I was weak. I remembered that I must have had at least a 1000 peanuts earlier that day. Inside my Ijebu garri. With 5 cubes of sugar. With 4 big table spoons of Dano powdered milk. Full cream, not  Dano slim. Plus a huge plate of beans. Agonyi, not baked beans.

I got on the treadmill asap.

Thankfully, it is not all doom and gloom for heavy or curvy people in modern Naija. Sometimes there is reverse weight discrimination.

In some joints or eateries, waiters may serve big people large portions of food subconsciously and get call them madam/uncle to boot. For example, if Apollonia from the Nollywood blockbuster “Blackberry Babes” (a.k.a Bobo Bigz Girls from Jenifa) and say, Agbani Darego went for lunch to Olaiya Food Services or Bank Olemoh to buy ‘designer’ rice, and they both bought N200 rice each, Apollonia would receive jara.

In many rural settings or smaller cities/towns, big sized men are better regarded or respected on default.

And there are still many Nigerian men who like a bit who love heavy women. I know someone who only fancied orobo girls. When he saw Monique for the first time in a Busta Rhymes video, he was in love, and totally disregarded Vivica Fox who also appeared in the same video. This chap also believes that Jenifer Hudson has sculpted her body to ugliness. And he would gladly buy Apollonia 10 Blackberry smartphones if she so desires.

Toh bad

In Nigeria, most managers or top executives have a 40- inch waist or over. You are perceived to be chopping life if you sport a huge pot-belly and you can do that if you are as slender as say Sadiq Daba of the 80s TV soap “Cock Crow at Dawn” (no disrespect).

Even our army generals and the top brass of the Nigerian military are barrel chested and are built like Baron Greenback of the Dangermouse cartoon series. Only Idiagbon of blessed memory looked trim and as slender as a character from Top Gun . Okay,  Buhari looked trim when he was Head of State, and still does, but since he is Fulani, it is in his genes and so does not count.

I hear Obj eats pounded yams like crazy, You are what you eat; if mama catches him, eh?

 

Yeah, and if I may say so myself, I think Wana looks nice.

What is your take on all of the above?

…used to call me fatso/

Now you call me Castro, my rap flows/

 

Notorious BIG (Victory, 1997)

Far from ugly but they used to say that I was too chubby/

But now I have got money, the honies aint got nothing but love for me/

 

Big Pun (I’m not a Player, 1998)

Lets Tweet Together @EscoWoah

 

Fellow Nigerians, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these “Twitted” recordings as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation.

Ok, I am just pulling your legs, I just felt like giving a really grand speech. WoahNigeria (Satires On Nigerian Life) is now on Twitter!

You can follow me @EscoWoah (http://twitter.com/Escowoah). I will be frank; I am a bit of a Twitter-phobe so there may be a few hit and misses as I feel my way around it. Please I need you guys to follow me like Moses. Okay, I really should just go now.

N.B: There is also a Twitter link on the right hand side of your screen, just under the “Blog Stats” section which I am very proud of and thank you all for.

Love forever,

 Esco

Why Should We Hire You?

 

The applicant must have a Masters Degree, 5 years post NYSC experience and be no older than 25

 

There are many daunting aspects about the recruitment process. In this period of economic recession (which has been forever if you are a Nigerian born after the oil boom years of the mid-70s) applicants for jobs have to get their acts right if they want to land a dream role.

Almost all the professionals in Naija want to work in either banking, oil and gas or telecommunications. Except if you are an engineer, lawyer or IT professional, in which you have the alternatives of an Engineering, Law or IT firm. Doctors are in  a lane of their own. The Human Resources executives or top management of these banks, oil firms or telecoms organisations know that they are like the promised land. Their recruitment processes, tests and interviews are arranged in a manner to make sure that many will not enter.

There are also scam artists who put up fictitious job vacancies on even the most respected and well-circulated dailies. If you apply, you enter your personal information at your own peril. There are cartels in Naija who use people’s phone numbers for God knows what. You may be awakened many a night from your slumber by texts or calls trying to entice you into some elaborate scheme or  fraudulent“oil and gas” investments. They call you and claim to have met you at an event which you can swear you never attended. I mean, imagine some scam artist claiming he met me at the Argungu Fishing Festival. I have never been to Zamfara, sorry, Sokoto state before. Using your resume, as background info, this tricksters reel out personal information about you to convince you that they know you indeed.

They are still tenacious even when you ‘catch’ them out. One tried to trick a friend of mine by claiming ‘I even met your sister last week in the market’

My friend replied ‘I do not have a sister. I am an only child’

Without pausing, the man insisted ‘I meant I met your sister-in-law’

My friend wasn’t even married and his CV indicated so! He dropped the phone pronto.

Ah, no country for the un-sharp man.

 

I have been for a few interviews in my life and have been asked different types of interview questions. I have had the HR manager of an oil service firm ( a dark skinned man with ‘tiger whisker’ tribal-marks on his cheeks) ask me what my hobbies were, as he peered down at my resume for cross-confirmation. When I mentioned that I liked hiking, he sneered at my reply with disbelief as he probed “How can you say you like hiking, eh? Where in Nigeria, do you see people going hiking? Abi do you slap on Eko Bridge?”

Truth be told, the resume I had presented was the one I had been using when in England for job applications, and I had not bothered to edit the “Extra-curricular activities” section. I had actually done some small hill climbing/ outdoorsy ‘hiking’ in the English country a few times, though nothing of the Mount Everest summit climbing sort. I remember a HR professional advising that it was always wise to put diverse interests on your resume, as you may have a recruiter at an interview with similar interests. Or so I thought, as I sat facing this one-man army of a panel.

To lighten the atmosphere, I tried to joke lightly “ No, that would be hitch-hiking.”

The HR manager didn’t laugh at all and he hissed loudly. Like I should take a hike.

Why is that in Nigeria, people who conduct interviews act like they do not want you to get the job? They make unnecessary demands, some requiring interviewees to travel across 7 mountains, 7 seas and even past zones known for kidnapping to write very weird tests. Some jobs set calculus type exams for entry-level positions. Some testing areas are over-populated with thousands of candidates even if the positions being tested for are just a few? I know a situation last year, where a whole stadium was used to conduct a test for a few positions in the NDLEA.

In America or England, some companies check applicant’s profile on facebook to discern the type of person applying for the job. While not fool-proof is a fair way means, this may catch out people who have turned Facebook into their village drum or diary.

However, some Naija recruiters discovered their own ingenious means of asessing clients other than facebook. Some look at your face, some look at whether you know ‘book’. The ones that look at face, prefer ajebo looking candidates, especially fresh, light-skinned beauties who they reserve for marketing, front-desk, customer service and any promotion roles. Some look at face, but are more interested in your family’s pedigree. If you are related to a well-known member of society (especially if he is the PDP or AC in Lagos), you may be hired. If you share the same surname with a well-known member of society, you may be hired. I know someone whose surname is Abubakar. This chap really enjoyed himself during the Obasanjo era and got into a top position in an energy firm on the strength of that.

Me, my own surname is Jesus.

 

Some years ago, circa 2004 friend of mine Jide was invited for a screening for a leading telecommunications firm in Victoria Island. He was ushered into a large waiting area where there were about 30 other applicants. The waiting area had various chaise chairs and a huge magazine rack in the middle, which had different newspapers, journals, dailies, softsells, pamphlets etc. There was also a huge flat screen television showing CNN. On one of the walls was a huge window with an opaque glass.

After waiting for about 3 hours, many of the applicants started reading or browsing through the magazines to pass time, until everyone was reading something.

Then immediately, a man in a black suit burst through doors and announced  “All those who are reading The Economist, Smart Money, The UK Times, Newsweek, The Guardian, ThisDay, Time, Forbes, Fortune 500, come with me now.”

With everyone looking stunned he added “Those of you with City People, Cosmopolitan, Ebony, National Enquirer, Complete Football, Ikebe Super, Hints, National Encomium, Ovation…Please leave immediately, we have the selected candidates to go through. Good luck with your future job search.”

We regret to inform you that after a careful review of your job skills, we are not able to take your application further....

Thankfully, my friend had been reading Gaurdian newspaper – the astrology section though. Well his star sign did say today would be his lucky day.

 

Bosun, someone I know once went for an interview where the man interviewing was an eccentric, clown of a character called Mr. Ralph. This chap wore a brown corduroy coat and a polka dot bow tie to work. He also loved toney red or light brown shoes and spoke a funny kind of pre-colonial type English. All this belied the cruel part of his nature.

The position was for the marketing of the company’s new product – some  motor anti-theft device that realistically would not deter any tenacious Nigerian armed robber.

He had barely settled in when Mr. Ralph walked in, with a cup of hot black coffee in his hands. He introduced himself and started to speak:

“Welcome to Dagbolu Enterprises. You have been selected to prove yourself worthy of the chance to be a part of an aggressive market team which I am personally assembling myself, selling an anti-theft device to motorists. There are over 750,000 motorists in Lagos State today. Each device costs about 10,000 naira. Multiply that by the number of motorists, and we are talking about serious turnovers here. I want you to penetrate the Lagos market. We must sell our product to banks, government agencies, leasing companies, families, churches, mosques, NGOs. We want people who can market in Oshodi, that can sell in Ajegunle, that can get supply contracts in Iju…” his words trailed as his eyes were bulging with excitement at the possible huge profits.

Sell our product, sell your body, sell your soul...just keep selling and selling and selling

With that, Mr. Ralph then started drilling Bosun.

He said “ I will start by asking you a question. What is marketing? Answer correctly and you may get hired.”

Bosun smiled, because he knew the answer from Marketing 101 in LASU “Marketing is the act of…”

Mr. Ralph interrupted him with venom “Zip it you novice!! Marketing can never be an act! What are you acting for? You should be selling and generating revenue. Marketing is all about selling. Simples!”

Mr. Ralph hissed and continued with his interrogation “How will you market our products; what strategies will you employ to meet your sales figures if employed?”

Biting his lip with anxiety, Bosun replied “I will do whatever it takes. In my former job as a Sales Coordinator, I befriended clients, extended them lines of credit, visited them at home. I always try to shadow potential clients, visit directors or supply chain managers at their offices, so build a familiarity. I even once met up with one in his church to…”

Irritated, Mr Ralph interjected “Here at Dagbolu Enterprises, we dont want our employees doing that. Think of yourself as a bee, and our esteemed clients as beautiful flower. Do not pollinate; do not fraternize. Haba!!”

Bosun was weak.

Mr. Ralph continued with his riot-act interview questions, until dismissing Bosun with a promise to be in touch in the future.

On Bosun’s way out, he ran into a former classmate of his from LASU, a chap called Kelechi who up to a week ago was working for the organisation.

They exchanged pleasantries, and when Bosun told him about the just finished session with Mr. Ralph, Kelechi laughed.

Kelechi told him about how Mr. Ralph had sacked an employee (Jaja) who had worked for the company for 13 years just on a whim because he wanted to replace older employees with “world-class” graduates with foreign or Masters Degrees.

Mr. Ralph had called Jaja into his office and spoke of “re-shuffling the office to increase productivity, lower costs and increase the threshold”

Sensing the worst, Jaja asked “Mr Ralph sir, am I being fired?”

Adjusting his bow-tie, and snickering sarcastically, Mr Ralph said “You fired? No, no, no, don’t be ridiculous. You are not being fired, it is your position that is being made redundant. Think of it as a mere ‘repositioning’. You will be fine. Go home, we will call you soon.”

The call never came.

 

 

 

 

 

Dont be mad….UPS is hiring/

You should have been a cop/

 Notorious B.I.G (Flavour In Your Ear, Remix, 1994)

The One-ness

African queen - Nigerian dream?

Every un-married Nigerian female has fantasized since birth about meeting and getting married to “the one”. Okay, truth be told, not every female may refer to him as “the one.” To some girls of easy virtue, or ‘runs’ girls, he may be merely “Number One” or the “Main One”  ( a bit like that under-g cable which connects Nigeria to mainland Europe for increased internet bandwith). Alright, let me stay on course.

Dudes would probably relate to this article better. Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, the UK and US are filled with Nigerian fellas who are educated, not too broke to get married and have decided to take the full plunge into marriage but cannot find a life partner of their dreams. There are scores of Naija chaps looking for “the One-ness.” Weighted by the shackles of shackles of masculinity, societal expectations, and the fairytale storylines of many Hollywood chick-flicks or Nollywood traditional “action” movies, no chap would readily admit that he is finding it difficult to find a marriageable girl. It is not in our DNA to moan about it.

Most people, especially other women, believe that a dating in Nigeria is a man’s market, and all a single lad has to do is pick from a ready and steady pool. Fiction not fact. Ready not steady.

The truth is that there are girls everywhere, but as a bachelor may find, much to many girls’ chagrin, is that not every girlfriend can make a great life-mate. Even a supergirlfriend may make a terrible wife, and all that wonderful make-up and dinner dates go right out the window when subjected to the scrutinies of Naija life. Marriage is not all flowers and wine; well, only in rare cases. I hear Jennifer Lopez’s first husband said that she was so beautiful that he could drink her bath water. To each his own - good luck with trying to drink Jenifa’s bath-water.

One of Liz Taylor’s many husband once said that being married to her was like having a one-night stand everyday. Well, even as good as she supposedly was, she had 7 different husbands and was married eight times. So, we in Nigeria may have to do with  our Liz Bensons (no disrespect).

Getting married to the right person is paramount. It is one of the few human relationships you have a choice over. You cannot chose who your parents or siblings are. Well, except in Nigeria where every older woman is your ‘aunty’ or every stranger calls you ‘broda’ when they need a favour. So you have to make it count with wifey.

I have further heard it said that a good wife is better than a good mother. Orphans or kids brought up in abusive home or absent mother-figure home situations may recover to become upstanding and successful members of society; a man with a terrible wife is soon parted with half of his fortune in alimony payments. In Yankee, he may sleep on the couch/guest bedroom most nights or spend more time at the office; in Nigeria, a man with a bad wife quickly learns how to prepare Indomie noodles with a boiling ring to stave off hunger, and befriends the pepper-soup joint matron.

Finding a suitable wife has never been easy; check  history. Jacob had to toil and wait for 14 years to be able to marry Rachael. In between this period, he was even offered and married someone he did not really fancy. And why do you think that the prince in the Cindarella fairytale had to throw a ball so to inspect the local talent in “Far-far-away-Land” only to have his love interest “Ms Cindarella” run away thereby abandoning her bata in the process. That Cindarella was a ‘runs’ girl.

Even in modern times, series like “The Bachelor” have shown how difficult it can be selecting from a bevy of girls. Koko mansion too, although D’banj was never looking to get hitched to any of the contestants. You get the gist of the message, though.

"Anti runs-girls spray" - Use around pockets and wallets area

This article is not of those many articles circulating the web, berating many 21st century Nigerian women for being fake, weave-sporting, fake nails clawing, ‘undometisticated’ beings incapable of being marriage material. Besides yesterday was International Women’s Day; what would I look like putting down own women.

Why is it difficult finding a girl to marry despite the apparent stream of ready females. I dunno; I and a couple of friends have spoken about it a couple of times and I find that there may be a couple of underlying factors

  • Indecision. Sometimes many guys may have a couple of girls they are considering who as someone once told me “are not as good individually as the sum of their parts”; whatever that means. Each girl may not have all key attributes the chap wants ( and who does really?). Monica may like money and expensive dates too much cook a fantastic ofe nsala; Tokunboh may have great legs but be a terrible cheapskate, Alero may be laidback and easygoing but have “Jenifa” traits especially with her spoken English. Chioma may be a smart and hardworking professional but have her head in the clouds. Back in the day, our grandfathers fixed this problem by marrying 2 or 3 wives and combining their strengths and praying their weaknesses did not send him to an early grave. I can just imagine that polygamous arrangement working now, Monica cooking all the meals for the household, Chioma working to bring in income, Alero running the house while Tokunbo ‘serviced’ the hubby. Not bad.

How come I no see am before

 

  • Many Nigerian girls are more materialistic and less likely to start their life with an upcoming youngster. Yes, this rings true, though many girls would swear with a cutlass to argue otherwise. I know chaps (voluntarily and involuntarily) who had to eliminate potential partners due to materialism. Sad but true – some Naija girl’s weekly maintenance spends could finance a small wedding. Wax on, wack off.  Eddie Griffin the comedian once wondered, how come girls no longer fall in love with a brother with a bus pass. A BRT bus-pass not a Air Bus boarding pass.

 

  • Societal restrictions – the usual suspects like race (Yoruba or Igbo are races not tribes), family background, ageism, social class etc. By the time a fella considers all these, and I hope not together, he may be left with zero, zilch. The age one is really a factor in Nigeria, because people expect the man to be older or the same age at least so this eliminates potential cougars. Besides most dudes are scared of a woman looking like their gran after a few kids. It does not help that when we look at some women in the generation before ours, some have not aged well , adding excess ‘alatika’ weight and using ‘wrapper’ to conceal. It is changing now though but still early doors. Basically, Stella would never have gotten her groove back in Naija.

 

  • Girls, girls, girls. In cities like Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja, single girls boku. And that is not even adding Owerri (Nigeria’s own version of Las Vegas). There are bevies of ladies everywhere – in traffic, weddings and events, malls, cinema, offices, Zenith Bank Customer services, Bank PHB Head-quarters, church..Go to TPH on a Sunday, and you would be like a cow in the field (ok, sorry wrong analogy). Ok you would be like a possum caught in the headlights at night. There are so many young women everywhere that you may end up doing nothing. And nothing comes from nothing. According to a 2009 American Community Survey, there are 131,548 more single women than men in New York City. Big deal?
 

Disregard our Nigerian Census Board, there are more than 200 million people in Nigeria. Everyone has a relative in Lagos, so there must be at least 10-15 million people in Lagos. Let’s just estimate conservatively that half are women and one-eight are singles of marriageable age. Dude, that is about 250,000 single women. And that is not even counting those in the UK, US and Canada. Woah Nigeria!I mean all our grandfather had to do was choose between the hunter’s daughter, palm-wine tapper’s youngest sister or the headmaster’s niece. It was not like his village was brimming with talent or alternatives.

Our grandpas had it easier

 

  • Nne, can I meet you? Back in our parent’s day in the rural areas, you simply “blocked” your love interest on the path to the village stream and offered to carry her bucket of water if she agreed to meet you behind the butcher’s hut for a midnight dalliance. Not so back in the day, you stopped by the original Megaplaza, chatted up a chick and offered to buy her that cheap popcorn they sold on the ground floor. Now there are millions of spots around Lagos and Abuja. If you have a 9-5 and work on the Island, how do you meet other singletons?

Abroad, they have online and speed-dating schemes. I’m not sure how speed-dating can work here in Nigeria; we cannot even get Lekki traffic right. Ok, bad joke.

 

Maybe someone should start a BB dating service. Another smart idea is to start a service like one I heard of once in America which organises trips, tours and outings for single members. Please send my royalty check via post.

  • Unrealistic expectations –  Yes this prevents some chaps from making a choice or meeting the right girl. Every chap in Nigeria wants a girl who looks like Munachi Abi.

 

Back in the day, our grandfathers were married off to women with athlete’s muscles and chest/facial hairs and may not have to had ‘wooed’ her by chatting to her at the town yam festival. Many marriages were arranged prior to birth, so all the groom’s parents had to do so was have the bride price/dowry ready. However this could be why women ended being subjugated to the background, with no career or romance. Having paid a hefty bride price, grand-dad tried to get as much bang for his buck (pardon my use of irony). No doubt music videos, the internet and exposure have affected what guys believe should be a standard for beauty – sometimes a tad bit unrealistically.

Some chaps have suggested different ways of testing whether a girl was “the one-ness” and suitable wife material with varying degrees of success. In the 2001 African-American movie “The Brother” starring Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union, it was suggested that someone who loved you very much would offer you the last morsel of any food she was eating. A chap tried this by waiting to see if a girl he fancied would do the same with some take-away they had brought back from a date. The girl wolfed down the foot-long sharwama in 2 takes, and belched, as she rubbed her tummy. She didn’t even ask for water. He was weak – her frame was smaller than Christiana Milan’s; where did all that food go? Home-boy beat a retreat; he feared for what she would do with a pestle in her hands, a 5 tubers of yam in the mortar.

Some Nigerians in the diaspora (hate that word, by the way) used to come down to Nigeria to look for wives; but they soon found that charity did not always start at home. In fact Charity, in this case, never stayed at home, but painted herself and the town red every night looking for rich clientage. He soon found out once she was safely married and back abroad with him.

And some guys have resorted to seeking out and marrying their ex-girlfriends or college/university sweethearts. Not a bad idea if the spark still remains, and if they are still single. The devil you know…is a devil in a blue dress.

 

 

To be my queen you must,/

point out my enemies, a girl who is into me/

but not a hype-chick, someone with proper energy/ 

Someone who is into me, who wont do all my enemies/

And you can be the one cos I’m feeling your energy/

Nas (Hey Nas, 2002)

 

The Pounded Yam and Pure Water Awards (2)

 
Balling…

 

I Hail Oh!

  1. Venerable Tayo Aduloju of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, who preached a sermon on the ills of corruption at the memorial service for Bode George
  2. Eateries that never have change for customers but would never offer discounts or rebates
  3. http://northoflagos.wordpress.com/about-me-nipa-emi ( a blog about an American student’s journey of discovery through Western Nigeria)
  4. Keisha ( the mother of one of the kids that died in the fire of a Nigerian baby-sitter’s house), who donated her baby’s heart, livers and kidneys to save 2 other hospitalized kids
  5. The youth political watchdog initiative introduced by “What About US” which is calling all Nigerian Youths to Join the Movement on Twitter and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/whataboutusnigeria. It is seeking  a forum for top  election candidates to have a Public debate with the youths of Nigeria, which would be hosted by Ebuka (of Big Brother Africa fame) and Chiamanda Adichie( renowned author) on the 25th of March 2011. Nigerian’s in Diaspora who may not be able to vote are enjoined to support by donating their Facebook status, Blackberry, twitter page to create awareness that can change our great country.
  6. Mushrooms in okra soup + ground rice
  7. Lagos ranked 4th worst livable city in the world 2011 by The Economist Intelligence Unit – My state capital is now officially better than Nigerian’s economic capital. Even Aba has a shot.
 
 

You de fall our hand oh

Carry Go!

1.  Live broadcast of thanksgiving service for recently released from prison politician Bode George on AIT

2.   People who call every 4 wheel drive or boxed vehicle a jeep.

4.  People who ask for price of an item you just bought, and claim that you were cheated as they can show you a place where it is available for a cheaper price.

5.  Relatives or friends who kiss/peck other people’s baby on the cheek/lip.

6.  Nigerians who shame from giving their children our native names. Rosanna Agwoturumbe??  (Come on!)

7.  Nigerians abroad who talk down or speak ill about our country to nationals of other countries

8.  Jessica Tata the baby sitter whose neglect caused the death by fire of 3 kids in Houston and then shamefully fled to Nigeria to escape prosecution. (‘Tata’ is Igbo for baby by the way; how unfairly ironic)

9.   Kings speech winning best picture ahead of the social network at the Oscars

10. LASTMA officials going AWOL during GEJ’s visit to Lagos this week. Think of ordinary commuters.

11.  All forms of sectarian, divisive and non-ideological politics.

12.  Bomb blast in Abuja and the seeing new trend of  bomb-blasts which is as useful a tool as cutting your nose to spite your face.

Make I Tell You

Na small thing I touch am sef

 

Nigeria is a land of aggressors. If these were medieval times, we would be a tribe of blood thirsty warriors similar to the Spartans made famous in the movie “300.”

Why is everyone in Nigeria aggressive? Basically it is the “crab in the bucket” theory. Ok scratch that, it is the point-and-kill catfish in the plastic kome-kome (basin) theory. When an infinite number of beings compete for finite resources in a tight area, they display forms of extreme aggression, fighting to eliminate or best each other for food, position or creature comforts (pardon the use of pun). And as we enjoyers of catfish suya know; the catfish, who bruises others to fight to the top of the basin, is the first one to be chosen for point-and-kill grill. The eja with the biggest chip on its shoulders is the first to be assassinated with the butcher’s knife, roasted on a skewer and serve with chips. Ok bad joke, but there you have it.

Sometimes you only have to spend a small time outside our dear nation, for you to realize how aggressive, forward and “in –your-face” we are.

Only in Nigeria can a question come across as a statement: “Are you from where?”

It is also only in Naija that the word “please” could be used in a manner what insults the recipient: “Abeg, abeg…”

Have you noticed that most Caucasians, especially Westerners are laid back and do not say more than they are supposed to. Even the most talkative oyibo extrovert has nothing on a Naija person with a point to prove.  We do not allow you put a word in. Let me give you an example; I am sure everyone has seen one of those movies where a guy goes to see his ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend tries to kiss him and as he tries to wrestle her off, his wife walks in and catches him in the compromising position.

The next part of these kinds of movies usually irks anyone that is Nigerian.  The husband just stands there like a mumu while he tries to offer the feeble explanation to his very angry wife: “Baby, I can explain, it is not what you think…”

And you the viewer are there, screaming at the TV for the guy to explain himself properly.

But the oyibo man just stands there mute, as he watches his wife walk away into the sunset

In a Nollywood movie or in real Nigerian life, the man would have quoted all the laws of quantum physics in an instant. He would have said something like “My darling wife I swear, I was going to V.I. for my appointment, when this woman called me. I didn’t want to go, but I can now see that she is a really agent of the devil. So I decided to…..”

And in Nollywood movies, if that doesn’t work in convincing the wife, there is always the trust old back-hand slap. It always seems to work a treat. And don’t forget the babalawo scene.

I spent one summer with my cousin some years ago in America, and at their request brought them the most recent Nigerian movies. Midway into the movie, my cousin had to turn it off because the shouting, arguing and heated exchanges between the actors were making my 2 year old niece cry. She spilt her chocolate milk all over the place.

Cowering into a corner behind a huge couch, my niece who was born and raised in America sobbed as she asked her mum ‘Mummy, why are they so mad?”

Granted the poor sound production on some of the older movies create a kind of eerie echo effect like that old TV series on NTA ‘The Pot of Life.’ However you have to agree that it would be suicide if you decided to watch some Nollywood movies with 3D glasses. Imagine having Gentle Jack, Torino and Hanks Anuku close up in a 3D environment with all the screaming, drama and incantations.

We are full of stories, eh?

One of the cultural differences between us and say, oyibos from England or America is a need for independence, the concept of personal space and masking your feelings out of being polite. Is it always the best way to relate to people though?

There was a time I went to a gym in America. I was on the treadmill when some chap came in and started using the Lateral Pull weights machine. As he did his curls, he kept on smashing the weights on each other rather than letting the handles on the pulley down slowly. It wasn’t my place to say a word, so I sighed as I cranked up the volume on my mp3 player. After using the treadmill, I used the cross-trainer machine for a while, then decided to use the Lateral Pull machine.

I noticed the weights were on 60pounds. Feeling strong, I decided to up the ante by making it up to 80 pounds. I then started doing curls, but I noticed it was still a bit easy for me. I was feeling very macho and strong with myself, and did about 15 reps, 7 times.

I noticed that the other chap looked at me for a while, and then continued his own work-out.

When I had completed the last rep, I looked up at the machine, and almost passed out with embarrassment.

There was a sticker on the upper part of the machine which outlined the instructions for operating it. One of them said that I was to face the weights pulley when doing curls for optimal performance. I had backed it instead. Obviously it was much easier to do reps, and didn’t weigh half as much when the machine was used incorrectly as I had just used it.

People expect you in western climes, to sort yourself out. If you can use a machine, you should read the instructions. But if you need help, you will be pointed in the right direction.  You are your own government, except that you don’t provide your own electricity (generators), water (borehole) and security (mai-guard) like it unfortunately is in Nigeria today.

In some Nigerian gyms, you would have had someone, who isn’t the gym instructor, leaning over you with sweaty armpits as he tried to adjust your weights mid-curl, potentially crushing you to death.

To get into perspective how forward and aggressive Nigerians are, when a Briton is very pissed they may say “How dare you…’ and that statement is the epitome of anger.

Richard Keys and Andy Gray who were until recently football presenters on Sky football were involved in a sexist scandal earlier this year. All one of them had said when asked about a female line-woman officiating a game of football or understanding the offside rule was the statement “ A female referee understanding the offside rule? Do me a favour love….”

It is hardly the same as saying “Abeg woman no sabi football. Make them de kitchen jor.”

Granted, it is just cultures.

And the aggression exists everywhere. People who don’t know you won’t hesitate to stick the knife in. In America they have serial killers and psychopaths, in Nigeria we have armed robbers who steal and maim as well.

Some chap I know named Bonny once went to a club in Ibadan while he was a student at University of Ibadan. At the club, lots of chaps were smoking trees, and so the police busted the place on a tip-off. They rounded up a couple of guys including Bonny and took them to the police station.

Bonny was being rude to one of the policemen so he thrown into one of the cells behind the counter.

He described the cell to me as thus: a rectangular room with only one barred window for ventilation. There were about 15 people there. The walls were ‘painted’ with the rich brown of human faeces, while 2 buckets laid in a corner filled to the brim with excrement. There were huge pools of urine everywhere while houseflies buzzed around, welcoming every guest. The ‘mayor’ of the cell was a thick-set, cross-eyed, dangerous looking guy nicknamed “Spoiler.”

Bonny said that as soon as he entered the cell, Spoiler kept ice-grilling him, giving him a very fierce look, not even taking his eyes away from him.

He decided to give everyone a general greeting “What’s up?”

Nobody answered him. Two of the prisoners were eating fufu and agonyi beans.

Bonny was still dressed up in his party best, a crisp white button up, jeans and some smart  suede shoes looking all dapper. He also noticed that since all the walls were stained with poo, the only clean corner of the cell was reserved for Spoiler who sat on the only chair in the cell. All the other inmates, crouched, knelt or even sat on the piss-stained floor.

Bonny squatted somewhere opposite from Spoiler, across the room. He used his hanky on the floor to steady himself so that he wouldn’t lean against the filthy wall.

One of the inmates then brought Spoiler a sachet of pure water. Not taken his eyes off Bonny for a second, Spoiler maintained his furious unfriendly gaze as he sipped the water.

When he finished, he then pulled out his pee-pee, and starting urinating into the empty sachet.

Recycling for the environment, then? No.

Then in a swift motion and without warning, Spoiler threw the piss-filled sachet at Bonny.

Bonny saw it too late, and as the sachet hit him on the face spilling and splattering its contents, he lost his footing and fell against the wall, rubbing his shirt all over the map of faeces. Double jeopardy.

Spoiler then proceeded to give Bonny the beating of his life.

He barked “I go kill you today. When you enter my area, you must bow down”

Trapped in a suffocating headlock on the ground, Bonny used his last ounce of strength to call for help “Constable, constable! Abeg come oh. Them wan kill me for here o.’

The constable took his time, and when he came, he peered through the cell bars, laughed before he appealed to Spoiler “Haba Spoiler, make you free am. Abeg o, na all this small small boys wey de university. Oya bros make you come de go”

Spoiler let Bonny go reluctantly.

I'm a celebrity..get me out of here

Then he turned around and started beating up another cellmate.

Bonny bailed out of the cell as fast as his legs could take him, leaving his loafer behind.

And the everyman on the street is a potential aggressor. Road rage is a common occurrence.

I once went to market a service to the director of a bank. He made available the use of his driver  and official car so that we could complete a transaction for him. So I and the driver set out for Ikeja from Ikoyi.

On our way back, we were on Kingsway Road when another car coming off a side street nearly drove into us. The driver of the other car had not been looking and had recklessly tried to cut us off. On closer inspection, it was also the official car of a rival bank being driven by a employee driver. This bank and the one I was pitching too were huge rivals in the Nigerian banking sector, usually using “de-marketing” anti-commercial measures against each other to win customers.

The driver of my car, a chap called Bitrus, was livid especially when he noticed it was the driver of a rival bank.

The other car was now on our right hand side, and I was sitting at the front passenger seat of our car.

Bitrus wound down my window with the automatic winder on the central control console on his side to rain abuses on the rival driver who had also wound down as well. I was in their middle as they poured vitriol on each other.

Bitrus abused “You are a bastard!”

The rival driver paused and laughed sarcastically for a mini-second, before replying “You are a bloody coward!’

What does coward have to do with bastard?

Hearing that, Bitrus got further inflamed, as he started gathering phlegm in his throat.

Sensing that Bitrus was about to spit at him, the rival driver let spat out as well.

As I was in the middle, I got caught in the cross fire!!!  That was a real Watergate scandal for me.

I showered for days after that.

What the heck was wrong with Bitrus?

Even the way Nigerians talk is different. Some people from other cultures find us intimidating.

There was this guy called Jerry who went to Aberdeen for a post-graduate program in Petroleum Management. He was finding it hard to get a graduate job after completing his program so he took up a job in the call centre of a company that sold broadband internet services.

After one week, the team leader of the call centre, an oyibo woman called Ms Duncan asked to see him privately for a person evaluation.

She said “Jerry, I listened to your calls and it seems that the customers are finding it difficult to understand you. You talk too fast, too loud, sometimes even interrupting the customers and this intimidates them. I want to place you on extra-training next week. Don’t worry, I understand. Sometimes, when a person who is from a culture where English is not the first language, it can make them struggle to become understood in a call to customers….”

Jerry was angry and interrupted her “What do you mean by that? I got an A3 in English and an C4 in English Literature in my WAEC exams. I also just concluded a Masters degree at University of Aberdeen. My spoken English is the best in this whole company!”

Thanks for calling, how you dey?

 

Ms Duncan turned red in the face with embarrassment. She didn’t say anything and declared the evaluation over.

The following week, Jerry was transferred to the mailroom and given a huge envelop opener.

 

Who are you to look at me with your eyes like that/

Wise up young blood, before you make things escalate/

Mobb Deep (Up North Trip, 1995)

Arsene knows best, eh?

Crouching tiger, hidden dragon...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I saw this joke somewhere, and being a Blues fan (the West London ones, of course), I couldn’t resist…

The last time Arsenal won a trophy:

  • Yaradua  was still a governor
  • Airtel Nigeria was still called Econet
  • The movie ‘Crash’ starring Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard, Matt Dillion had just come out
  • Nokia 3310 was the most popular popular phone in Nigeria
  • George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term as the 43rd President of the USA
  • Tony Blair was still the prime minister of the U.K.
  • Justin Beiber was still ‘jacking’ for Common Entrance…