You Chop, I Chop (2)

Food for thought


You chop, I chop/ E no good to chop alone o….

Remember that old school Nigerian jam from way back? I do. Do you recall the message behind it? Probably not. The singer encouraged everyone to live and let live – and to share food or any benefits with your fellow man. You may want to read Part 1 of this particular article written weeks ago, if you haven’t before you peruse the contents of its sequel.

My aunt and uncle came to spend a few weeks with me some weeks ago. They brought a video recording of an event that had occurred in their home-town recently, and one of the things I noticed was that the videographer kept zooming his lens over the kitchen where yam was being pounded, oha soup was being stirred, and a cow was being butchered. He almost even ruined the footage, performing a close up near an older lady who was preparing party rice, and the agonyi woman ended up shoving him away with her pestle. Make you comot for kitchen before you thief meat. He hardly even interviewed or shot the celebrants themselves.

What further broke my heart was later footage of the end of the event showing some kids fighting over remnants, one of them tackling a chicken’s foot until its claw was doing him waka.

How come chicken and poultry products are big men’s or middle class food in Nigeria? Isn’t it a wonder? Chicken in Naija is more of a big deal than meat or fish, while in England or America, it is the opposite. In fact chicken is the cheapest form of meat one can buy abroad, with the battery farms and all. In some Naija events or weddings, if you were given meat with your rice instead of chicken, you felt slighted and betrayed.

It was with this kind of mindset that a guy called Bode travelled to Scotland, UK with his wife and kids for the first time for his MBA program. Then on his 2nd week there, he discovered a shop called Farmfoods which is a UK chain of stores which specializes in frozen food and groceries. He nearly jumped out of the roof and even kissed the oyibo shopper next to him when he discovered the price for a whole frozen chicken – 1 Great British Pound. No VAT, no gimmicks, no shit. He quickly brought out money he was supposed to use for an important textbook, and bought like 7 packets.

He dashed straight home and summoned his wife for an emergency meeting.

“From now on, there will be changes in this house. See those 7 fowls there? I want you to cook all of them, and include in the children’s diet. My kids must eat chicken from now on.”

And so it was. His wife made chicken for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast? Grilled chicken in a bun or between slices of bread. Lunch? Rice and chicken stew, or efo with diced chicken wings and eba. Dinner? Fried chicken and wedges. His kids also took chicken to school as a packed lunch –chicken nuggets and some veg. Or a chicken fillet sandwich.

And on Saturdays, Bode watched Arsenal lose or draw their games, on Sky Sports, as he enjoyed chicken and gizzard peppersoup with a cold can of Fosters.

Soon the kids and wife got sick of it – they were almost growing chicken feathers and a comb. His youngest one started spitting out his chewed morsels during dinner. Bode didn’t care – it was a case of chop and quench until his Masters program ended.

Ah, awoof de run belle, but na at all at all na him de wound belle pass.

I know someone who loved TFC so much when they first started that he knew the words to the theme songs from one of their TV ads and sang it in the shower every morning. Do you remember the one with the words “We do chicken…”This dude also really likes Maxwell’s “Pretty Wings

But really what is really going on in Nigeria? I have said it a million times but I won’t quit because when I look around, my heart bleeds. You won’t believe how bad things are here –  more than half of our population cannot afford 3 square meals. This was a land of oil palm plantations. We used to grow cocoa, now we export kokolets

The groundnut pyramids have been replaced by square pegs in the round holes who have no master plan to return this nation to agriculture. We have gone from farming to famine. We have a lame government distributing rice to political sympathizers for votes like the Red Cross. Have you seen people at events in rural areas?

First of all, in most villages, before you can do your traditional marriage, pay a dowry or even bury someone, you have to perform some traditional obligations like provide foodstuff or cash for the village elders and kinsmen. And these people also show up at your event and demand their own tent or your event would be torpedoed or sanctioned by the community. You get the impression that some of the rites performed have little to do with tradition and more with economic interest. Have you seen these elders put away food?

At one event in the village, they handed a group of 15 elderly men, a huge tureen of oha soup and a very large slap of fufu. The soup contained more than a 100 pieces of meat, shaki, pieces of dried fish etc. The food was served in a way so that they could all eat together as it normally done in the rural settings to save plates.

These men proceeded to gently and painstakingly removed all the pieces of meat and fish bit by bit from the soup and requested a separate platter so that they could place them there so that nobody would feel cheated. They then divided the meat/fish piece by piece. And you know that it is mathematically difficult to divide 100 by 15, but they did it without a calculator.

They then proceeded to eat the fufu, each rolling a lump, dipping in the soup, and then swallowing turn by turn in a circle. Then one of them while dipping in the soup, found a loose piece of fish which had not been seen earlier. He attempted to hide it in his palm behind the lump of fufu he was holding, but one of the others spotted him and alerted the others.

They scolded him, and he had to forfeit the piece of fish to the platter to be shared! These dudes should be appointed to share our Federal Oil Revenue to the states.

So it is obvious that food is still a problem for most in Nigeria even among the middle classes. Many average people show up for weddings at the reception just to eat, and then they beat it immediately afterwards. They wear their fine cloth and look respectable, but dem no dey write am for face. I have been at weddings where well turned out people were scrambling for small chops on the table. Some people arrive at the reception, find a table, sit down and get busy, and by the time most other guests come, they see toothpicks and greasy plates where the small chops used to be. And the funny thing is that the greedy person would be hiding behind sunglasses, feeling cool and acting like nothing has happened.

My sister went to Aba to stay with an uncle for a few weeks when she was about 9. They went outside to play, and after an hour, my sister came running back in crying. My uncle asked my sister what was wrong. She complained that some of the other kids on the street were seriously abusing her, calling her “Lagos miss road” or “osisi” which means “stick” in Igbo, because she was rake-thin.

Unimpressed, my uncle said “If they called you that, go out and abuse them back. Call them ‘hungry people.’

That was the supreme insult. Forget someone calling you an axe murderer or a rogue; in Nigeria, especially in the East, if they called you hungry, you are finished socially.

When I just came back from England, I travelled to the East for a family wedding event. My father called me to come and meet some friends and relatives who had been asking about me during my absence.

There was one particular man, a red capped older man, who grabbed and hugged me, when I was introduced to him. He asked “Esco, do you know who I am? Can you remember me?”

I tried to think but drew a blank. If you are Igbo, you would probably have been asked this question before by distant relatives or uncles, and they take it personally if you say you don’t remember them. The trick is to say you do remember them, and that they are your uncle or ‘father’s brother.’ It won’t be a lie – every man much older than you is your uncle in Nigeria.

I didn’t lie though ”Sorry uncle, the face looks familiar; but I am not sure..”

The man looked really hurt and looked at me like I had betrayed him. He repeated in Igbo “So imagho onye m bu?” (So you really, really, really do not know who I am?)

I felt like saying “Nope sir…but I am sure you are about to educate me.”  I didn’t.

“Uncle” educated me “ I am your dad’s brother Chief Eugene Onyeora. I am from the neighboring town from yours. You have really grown. The last time I saw you, you were just a little boy of about 3 or 4. So you cannot remember? I came to your house in Lagos on a Saturday morning .You were at the dining table, and you were having sweet akara balls for breakfast.”

Akara balls? This dude even remembered the food I was having when he came to our house in the 80s. I mean really? What an event. He remembered that day for the akara balls. Not because something really important like a man landing on the moon or someone breaking the 100 meter record, or something grand.

From the way he sounded, I am sure he was asked to come and eat as a polite gesture, but he didn’t decline.

Born sinner, the opposite of a winner/ 
Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner/

Notorious B.I.G (Juicy, 1994)

Wetin You Talk Sef? (2)

Eh? Did you say what?

Here are some more everyday Naija pronunciations of English words, in continuation of the first article on the subject :

  • Paparazzi – Kpakparazee
  • Status – startoose
  • Birthday – bard-day
  • Arsenal – Asunal
  • Engine – In-gin
  • Calcium – Kal-shoom
  • Trouser – trawzis or trawza
  • text – tecks
  • straight – streth
  • Mathematics – matimatis
  • Pounds Sterling – pounce starling
  • Quaker oats – Coker oat
  • Tax – tass
  • Guava – gover
  • Alsatian – Police Dog
Ha ha. We really should take a foreigner and teach them how to pronounce words the way we uniquely do. Anyway enjoy this scene from Mickey Blue Eyes, a Hugh Grant movie where he tries to learn how to feign an Italian mobster’s accent to save his relationship.

Muzik,You And Me

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You may have noticed from my previous posts that I am a music aficionado. I don’t know whether that’s the right word to use (aficionado) or if I am just using that word because I have always wanted to use it in a conversation so I could sound really self-important and knowledgeable; or just maybe it is because it rhymes with ‘olodo’ (which I am not). Or avacado (which I like).

I try not to be far away from music. Back in the day, my huge cassette and CD library were the first things I packed into my luggage on a trip anywhere, before clean pants or my passport. I have gone through many MP3 player earphones, like Goldie and bronzers or the Federal Government and power sector plans. I listen to quite a diverse range of artistes, and shuffling through my MP3 player, you are likely to see Wu Tang Clan right next to The Kooks. Though they are both the names of dogs, you would probably see a DMX gangsta banger next to a Beethoven’s classic composition.  Or some Duncan Mighty after you skip something from Maroon 5.

There is a Greek proverb that says “Whom ever does not like women, wine and song is a fool.” Well let’s just say that I must be quite wise. I like Chi Chi, palmi sangria and jamming.

I am more into lyrics and personality than beats. That’s the hip-hopper in me. Yes music is great for dancing and bumping in your car stereo, but if you do not get a thought-provoking response from it, or if it lacks enough depth to be played on your I-pod as you lay at night, then there is a huge problem. By now you would have guessed that I don’t really listen to Justin Beiber or half of all Nigerian artistes. For the latter, I do like some of Duncan Mighty’s material, and M.I’s most definitely incredible especially his most recent album. And that’s not forgetting the older acts.

I hate to sound like a papa, and wax lyrical about the lack of substance of modern music compared to the old school jams we were brought up on. Everybody likes to talk about the good ol’ days. Yawn. It is true – a lot of the new music from nowadays fail to inspire. Strip some of them off their fancy beats or flashy videos, and you are left with sounds similar to a Coke counter scrapping the ground. And don’t get me started on Auto-tune. I prefer to auto-wind or auto-eject.

What happened to music you could fight or fuck to (pardon my French)? Fela taught us how to war and question; many babies were conceived when their folks were bumping Marvin Gaye at night. Majek Fashek turned us into rain-makers; and Sunny Ade made the most socially awkward of us the life of the party with his infectious jams that made you dance. Even Shina Peter’s famous “Afro Juju” songs transcended ethic lines, such that the most Igbo merchants felt the songs too. I could not understand a word of Eva Edna Ogoli’s Isoko accent but I knew she was making sense with whatever she was saying. Who knows whether she was swearing for us, the listeners sef? Who cared? How many people could even decipher Shaba Rank’s chants?

Now every artist nowadays wears huge Rayban or aviator sunglasses in his videos and pops champagne. Nigerian acts like The Mandators (remember them?) and Danny “Mr. Raggamuffin” Wilson used to look you dead in the eye as they performed their songs. I can swear that I recently saw an old video for Lekki Sunsplash where the artist looked like he had apollo, but he connected with his audience, and the crowd was kept jumping. After hearing Felix Liberty’s “Ifeoma” as a youngster in primary school, I swear I wanted to find my own “Ifeoma” and dash her my “Mathset” ( a really big deal then for some reason) out of love. Consolation prize, but I did later develop a thing for a girl called Ihuoma in Primary 6. I used to share my Nasco Wafers with her but only after licking clean the cream filling).

And in Uni, Celine Dion albums were the hardest to find on Saturday afternoons, because that was when most fellas were expecting female company so they knocked from one apartment door to the other trying to borrow Celine Dion’s greatest hits from their pals. Apparently Ms Dion’s music worked wonders with chicks. Well personally I can’t stand her voice, so it would put ME off, not to talk of my date. Besides, nothing could beat R Kelly’s “Bump and Grind” if you had a female guest over. Wimps preferred Joe though. How could they ever expect Joe’s music to set the mood when he sings songs like “I Wanna Know” and “Why Are All The Good Girls Taken All The Time”?

Most girls I have been involved with have shared a similar love and taste with mine for music. I have been on dates where I and the lass just parked the ride in a dark car lot (yes in Nigeria!), pulled open the car sun roof, slipped in an Incubus CD, and gazed at the stars while chatting about everything. We also had the windows up tight and the doors locked for fear of muggers, but music and love are the best things ever, eh? The foggy window sessions were the best…ha ha.

Different views about music are sometimes a signal of incompatibility. If that girl you fancy thinks that Soulja Boy is the greatest thing since sliced bread, you really should think twice about your future with her. You had better Superman out of there after you kiss her through the phone. I once got into a heated argument with a date who swore that M.J wasn’t the king. She actually rooted for another Michael – Bolton. Biko biko. She also thought Mariah was superior to Whitney (before the drugs kicked in). She also opined that Ruggedman had a better catalogue of work than M.I. Hmmmm. I respected her strong views and independent tastes, but there are some lines you don’t cross. We never had a second date after that. Michael Jackson is the king. By the way, we never had a 2nd date because she moved to Jand for school, and is now married to a rich politician’s son, who can actually afford to buy her a  whole car, rather than sit in one for a date. Bye bye.

My old man put me on to music as a kid. He had stacks of records – Sir Warrior, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Oliver De Coque, Handel, Mozart, Shalamar, Jackson 5 – you name it. I would watch him play record after record during family gatherings even when I was just at an age where I preferred to use them as Frisbees. I nearly took off my cousin’s head during a rough tossing game with a Barbara Streisand Record.

Part of my pre -blog awards manifesto was that this blog would become more personal, and I will open myself up to you guys a bit more (if you want me). Prepare to be slightly disappointed as my private life is not nearly about fast cars, fast women and ever faster cash. I won’t also reveal my identity – think of me as Lagbaja or Mil Mascaras (the masked wrestler from WWF). Or public accountability and Nigeria’s oil fund. The more you look, the less you see.

That said, let me kick-off by putting my MP3 player on shuffle and choosing the first 15 random songs. It is said that you can tell a lot about someone by the music they listen to. If you  have Zaki Azay in your collection, that means you have a thing for torch-lights and NEPA has dealt with you in your area. If you have Edreez Abdulkareem, that probably explains why you are so afraid of your bad English, you do not comment on any articles here. If you have Onyeka Onwenu, you are probably deep, soulful and attractive.If you bump Asa, you probably are intelligible, but you only shower once a week. And if I find J.Lo,  it probably means that you are single and uncompromising. I promise to be honest and write each song as it comes up in the shuffle, no matter how embarrassing it may be.

I would like to get to know a bit more about each of you as well – in addition to your comments, please put your I-pod, MP3 players, Blackberry, I-Phone, mobile phone or laptop music player on shuffle, and list the first 15 songs you see. If you don’t own a music player, please list the first 15 songs you hear on the radio.

  1. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – I Miss You
  2. The Lox – The Heist
  3. Train – Whipping Boy
  4. Jadakiss – Take Me To New York
  5. Mobb Deep & Capone N Noreaga – Illegal Life
  6. Aaliyah – The One I Gave My Heart To
  7. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – I Wanna Rock
  8. K Dogg – Omo Abokun
  9. Eminem & Royce Da 5’9 – I’m On Everything
  10. Kanye West – Dark Fantasy
  11. Creed – Don’t Stop Dancing
  12. Raekwon – Wisdom Body
  13. Sauce Kid – 2 step
  14. Notorious B.I.G – Another
  15. Nice N Smooth – Sometimes I Rhyme Slow

Your turn now…

All I Do Is Win (Sometimes)


One of the distinct disadvantages of writing is that sometimes sarcasm is lost in between the lines, and may come across as bitter sour grapes. I hope this turns out right.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t aware of when the Nigerian Bug Awards took place. I was on baby duties that evening, and the infant was on a roll churning out soiled diaper after soiled diaper. When I managed to get the wee one to sleep in my arms, I transferred her to her cot and did a small victory dance. I then tip-toed to watch the Copa America football tournament on TV in the living room. I fell asleep on the sofa, only to woken up by the baby’s loud yells of “Bros, I never chop for 3 hours o! Come give me food abeg before I tear down the walls with cry cry Similac or Cerelac?

Nah seriously, the next morning, I saw the Nigerian Awards results on my twitter-feed, and spat out my Golden Morn cereal. I went through 3 different emotions. The first one was a Buhari type of disappointment. I was really hoping that somehow that maybe a true juggernaut blog like BellaNaija had re-entered the competition at the eleventh hour and swept all the awards deservedly. Thinking back, initially I was a bit surprised that none of the blogs on my blog-roll was nominated in the first place. Not only did I not win, but my judgment has been called into question.

I have read some truly awesome blogs, some of which I decided to add to my blog wall. From the direct and tell it as it is “Ms Luffa” to Waila Caan’s awesome diary of London and the quirky happenings on the Tube, to RustGeek’s quirky musings about life in freezing Aberdeen, to Today’s Naira which is a very welcome blog about financial management and fiscal discipline in today’s Nigeria.  Then there is Stuff Nigerians Hate, a blog I really like with its dark comedy and spoofs. And I also have to mention one of the most well put together online journals about Nigerian and UK weddings, the Wedding Trendy blogsite. The videos on the 4AcesDate blog are some of the most creative stuff I have seen on a blog too. In fact all the blogs on my wall were painstakingly chosen blogs which are unique and have my respect; and I had nominated them for various categories.  Awesome blogs all.

I later got over it, because I somehow reasoned that I had lost the popular vote. I may have been a bit lax in canvassing for votes; understandably, but a part of me feels it is corny to go all out soliciting for votes. Your body of work should speak for you always, innit? To be fair, I try to read a little bit of everything, and would click on most links to blogs when I am on more popular websites. I fancy stuff that is different and thoughtfully written – material that can challenge my brain cells and my perception on matters, and open up new frontiers of knowledge.You can always tell when a blogger writes from the heart. Heart is what blogging is about. If you use your isi or ori , to write blogs, your articles would read like Physics for SS3. I also prefer Indie blogs which are not on the mainstream.

But you know how sometimes something unfortunate happens to you, and you try to brush it under the carpet, but well-wishers and friends actually won’t let you because they are genuinely hurt for you, and appalled by the sense of injustice surrounding the whole matter? And as a result, their anger re-ignites yours, as you begin to really see their point of view? Well it happened to me, after I had brushed off my initial disappointment.  I clicked on a link on the Nigerian Blog Awards’ twitter feed, which directed me to their website, and I saw the touching comments of some of you readers there. Some of my dear blog readers had left comments complaining about the fact that I had not won! You guys know that I love you, right? I love you like Agege bread and fish stew, I love you like house flies love Mushin dustbin; I love you like Buhari and Presidential election. Heck, I heart you more than Dangote loves cement. Shout out especially to Stelzz and Tinkerbell.

At that point, I picked up my pen and paper and started to write this (actually I looked for an old receipt code for a Cyber Café near my house, then went there and logged in).

The last time people showed me this kind of concern where they “were drinking Panadol for my sickness” was way back in secondary school. It was a balmy night in boarding school when I was in Form 3. We had finished exams for the 2nd term, so everybody was in a crazy mood later that evening during prep. When you have a motley crew of 100 jobless adolescent boys with nothing to read for, it is a recipe for disaster. Some started drumming loudly on the classroom desks. A few broke into some kind of Indian war dance. Many started slapping junior students about. And a good few started smashing coke and soft drink bottles about. Food fight! But without liquid contents only.

Then 2 chaps got into a fight in the classroom quadrangle outside over some petty issue. Chaps gathered around them urging them on in gladiator fashion with the chants “It is a rack! It is a rack!!” With their Clarks sandals, dirty clothes, and one of them still wielding a fork (from the dining hall), they did look like gladiators from the Spartacus series. All that remained was a net (mosquito net) and a lion to devour the loser (our strict Boarding House Master would suffice).

I was rushing out from one of the classes to ‘add’ my own quota to the fight, adrenaline pumping and all,  when I stepped, full weight, on a huge shard of glass. All I saw was blood everywhere – the glass which was from one of the smashed bottles had sliced through my bathroom slippers and cut me inches deep.

The two chaps racking postponed their tussle, and everybody now gathered around me. One of the chaps there took a look at my bloodied foot and yelled in horror:

“Oh shit! Esco, you are mortally wounded. That wound doesn’t look good at all. It is so deep that I can see your nerves and bone”

Some people took a look, and the expression of their faces was that of doom and anguish. One of the fighters even started crying.

I echoed what I had heard, as I was in shock “Oh damn! I am really mortally wounded. My nerve and bone are showing. If I die, what am I going to tell my ma? She will be really pissed that I was so careless to step on a bottle”

Everyone nodded in agreement – I was royally screwed.

Then one chap, who was sort of a school captain wanna-be goody-two-shoes type, shoved his way into the circle, and took a look at the cut. He started calming things down “Relax Esco, don’t try to pull your foot up. We will rush you to the House Master, and get an exeat to take you to the school hospital. Someone should bring a clean handkerchief, let me bind this wound and stop the bleeding. Esco you are not mortally wounded. You will be alright.”

With such a calming influence directing things, boys dispersed into groups. Some arranged for the exeat, some got a hanky and water to dress my cut. They all followed me to the hospital, and waited in the waiting lounge until I came out – sewn and bandaged, and no worse for wear.  Eiyaa, I was moved – if I had broken a bone, I could have allowed them sign on the cast as a reward. Too bad, they can’t sign on plaster – it would be painful suicide. Good fellas, my ex-school mates huh? My misery even settled a dangerous fight, see?

That was the last time people I was not friends with bumped their heads over my matter.

From reading various blogs after the awards, there seems to be a general feeling of dissatisfaction at the results. Some bloggers who were upset about the outcome of the awards have blamed it on the emergence of “Twitter” or celebrity bloggers who garner votes by the sheer number of friends they could galvanize via social medium networks to sway voting in their favor. In one blog I read, the upset writer said that he wasn’t surprised at what he termed ‘rigging’ as Nigeria itself recognizes quantity over quality.

I couldn’t help but agree with that slightly. In Nigeria if enough people make noise about something persistently, it easily sways people’s perception on what should go. I would give the simplest example. I did my NYSC 3 week orientation in a small town in Cross River state some years back, although I got a transfer to Lagos for my primary assignment and for the rest of the service year. Those 3 weeks in Cross River were priceless moments though. I and small posse of friends from one particular infamous platoon strode like colossuses in the camp. We made a particular Mammy market joint our spot and chilled there while other people were doing back wrenching tasks. We bought the soldiers beer in exchange for camp privileges. Some other people started hanging out at the spot because of us, and the patron was pleased at the amount of custom we were bringing her so every morning she would ask us what we wanted her to cook for the day, and that became the day’s menu.

Now my close friend Chidi really fancied a chick in our platoon – a butter-skinned, full hipped beauty by the name of Ify. Who could blame him; Ify made the NYSC uniform look like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. She had curves like a Blackberry. We decided among my clique that she was going to be the next Miss Camp, and that we were going to sway the votes in her favour. We gathered a group of hangers-on who chanted her name furiously during the NYSC beauty pageant show. Our group whistled and booed other contestants until the judges were dizzy themselves.  Soon most people in the crowd started supporting our candidate by cheering for Ify and booing the contestant in their own platoon! Ultimately the panel of judges was swayed into making Ify Miss Camp. She would have been better suited for Miss Ramp, if such an award ever existed, but alas the people had spoken. The hug and kiss she gave Chidi when she was presented with her ‘crown’ and prizes was priceless. For him.

The next night, we repeated the process for the Miss Hot-Legs pageant. A social-climber girl had approached us to beg and bribe us with beer to help ‘support’ her bid to win Miss Hot-Legs. We huffed and puffed during the pageant but everything has a limit. She ended up as first runner-up even though she had short yamerous pins. Abi we no try? Some of the presidential and governorship aspirants should really have contacted me.

After I saw the results of the Blog Awards and the way some of you stood up for me, the last emotion I felt was a sense of injustice towards the award process. In fact I felt like Arnold Schwarzzenegger’s character in the movie Total Recall, and wanted to echo what he did and screamed out in the below movie scene, to the Award process:

Nah seriously, I have taken everything into perspective. It is not that important in the grand scheme of things. Not to sound corny, but your comments and hits on my blog are enough for me. By the way, please buy the book when it’s up for sale.

Love Forever

Esco 

The Pounded Yam And Pure Water Awards (7)

Na you biko

  • My first Pounded Yam Award goes out to you. Yes, you. My awesome readers. Nope, it is not because it was blog election time recently. These thanks have been a long time coming. You guys keep me going on days when my pen feels heavier than my sword. I would have said that you guys are the wind behind my back and the earth beneath my feet but some people may misunderstand and think I am swearing for them.

Nah seriously, you guys are gems. I should really start a competition and give away gifts on this blog. Should I give gifts or presents? They are actually different things you know. I would explain one day – that’s another topic for another day. What would be an ideal prize? An I-Pad or sanitary pad? A new Blackberry minus the battery and charger? A plastic fan for days when NEPA takes light? An Airtel sim card? A branded 7Up umbrella? Or a boiling ring to help you with preparing Indomie and getting ready for work? Or maybe I should give out La Pearla Lingerie (which I must inspect on you myself – girls only oh) or a Shan George CD? I think I will give this one some thought. Or you decide.

  • The current season of Love in the Wild showing on Wednesdays at 9pm Central Time on NBC (Yankee only sorry). I am sure Don Movies would carry it after the season finishes, so it would be available in Nigeria via our neighbourhood 50-in-1 DVD hawkers. It’s a reality show where a group of guys and chicks spend time in a jungle, completing tasks and getting eliminated couple by couple. Think Rock of Love meets Gulders Ultimate Search meets I am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Now mix that with Fuji House of Commotion, and you may come close to this hybrid of a show. Watching episode 3 of the show, I have finally concluded that some girls’  head dey touch, and that’s why they can’t have a normal relationship with a fella. There are girls who show epic forms of emotional instability ranging from unrealistic expectations, delusions of grandeur to over-clinginess. Believe me, shakara beats desperation any day. If a guy says hello to you, it doesn’t mean ‘hi’.

Unfortunately in this cold world, there are sad, sad men who beat their wives up and mutilate them. Akolade “Jack the Ripper” Arolowo murdered his beautiful wife in cold blood some weeks back, and now it seems that Nigerians have our first own psychopath. Or this may be the first domestic fatality that has really caught national consciousness due to the fact that they are middle class professionals so it hits close to home. Rest in peace Titilayo ….My heart also goes out to their daughter.

Provided that they were not party to a cover-up in anyway, I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for his folks. This is a real hot mess of a situation to be in; I mean how will be able to live down this shame? They are lucky that they are Yoruba sha. They could relocate to Oyo or Ogun state, start a new life and change their surnames to Smith or Tokunboh.  If they were Igbos, they would have been socially finished in every manner possible. First of all, the killer’s sisters would remain unmarriageable; any chap who is interested in marrying them would start preliminary investigations, and be told the full story by player-hating amebos. These town-criers would also tell the suitor that madness and murder runs in killer’s family blood. Their village would probably ostracize the parents as well.

In some quarters, it would be a different story however, if the parents suddenly become billionaires or came into a huge fortune. Then, they would be treated as royalty by some village elders; the whole matter may be hushed and they may even be given chieftaincy titles to boot. Standards differ, huh?

  • PES 2012 – I am a massive Pro Evolution Soccer fan, and I have owned almost very installment since it came out in the 90s. Girlfriends/wives would hate this game – it is almost better than sex (with some girls o), and it is smoother than French silk on the ass (so I heard o). It even feels better than cold pure water, after hours in a hot Lagos molue bus.

Jon Champion the English correspondent for Konami (the makers of this game) recently released this video-blog via twitter regarding the developments/improvements on the game coming out this October. I am glad that you can play as some of your favourite European teams, but I think it is time for Jigawa United, Kano Pillars, Owerri Heartland FC and Enyimba FC to feature in a Pro Evolution Soccer game, no? They could code the game so that the referee would make sure no Nigerian team can win an away match against another Nigerian team, just like in real life. Also, they should fix Osaze in the game. He is so charcoal skinned in the game – can’t they see that he is ‘a half-caste.’  I selected him once, and thought it was Obafemi Martins I was seeing.

 If you are also a fan, you can view the  PES 2012 video blog  here

Till then I am still rocking PES 2011 with respect.

  • Asaba Airport has just commenced commercial flights. My own state (Imo) has an airport (a national airport at that), which I am very proud of. Yes it looks like a set of boys-quarter bungalows with a Yipee tank looking control tower, but it is still the only airport built by the people in Nigeria. Yes, even the nappy airport in that Jimbo cartoon from the 80s looks better than my state’s own, but na una sabi.

Asaba having its own airport is massive. Now people can leave my state airport alone, and have an alternate route. It would encourage economic development in the Delta region and make Asaba a true commercial hub. How times have changed. When I was a youngster, travelling for Christmas with my family in our trusty 504 station wagon, Asaba was a shanty town bordering bigger cousins in the then Bendel state. It was the last stop until you crossed over the Niger bridge to the core Eastern lands. I remember Asaba for the fact that they sold a “donut-type” akara. Have you ever seen or had one? It is an akara with all sorts of filling in it – chopped eggs, onions, tomato, sardines, corned beef, the seller’s nappy hair strand etc. On its own, it was a’ight, but combined with a healthy slice of Chukwuemeka Special Bread Loaf, it was a delightful treat. Asaba also had a well-known food market.

Years later, Asaba would become a state capital and have hotels, joints and government buildings. This is special. I am still waiting for my village to get an upgrade to a town, and then become a capital, so I can become its first Mayor.

You no try at all...

  • Presido Goodluck appointed his ministers and special advisers, and now I feel as mad as Chris Tucker did in Rush Hour Part 2, when the comedian accused the owners of a casino of being racist because no black singers were featured. Our president does not send youngsters at all. Barak Obama’s Director of Speechwriting, a chap called Jon Favreau is actually a 30 year old who graduated in 2003. Yes, those  famous “Hope” speeches of 2008 were actually drafted by a Caucasian youngster. Why won’t GEJ appoint young professionals to government positions? Why can’t President Goodluck appoint someone like Esco to write his speeches or addresses to the nation? I would have the whole country in stitches. Some parts of the speech would be written in pidgin English and I would throw in a few expletives and Igbo idiomatic expressions. Besides how come NYSC still hasn’t been scrapped despite unrests in certain parts of the country? Is the Nigerian youngster on a path to career and physical extinction? I know NYSC allowee (annoying term for ‘allowance’) has been recently increased. Where else in the world, but mighty Nigeria would your government pay you twice as much to risk dying?
  • Its 2011 and there are Nigerian artists and ‘civilians’ still rocking a mohawk hair-cut. I normally do not comment on people’s style choices, unless they are standing next to me for a photograph or standing in for me in a representative capacity, or if there is business involved and I could lose a fortune if they dressed like Bjork or that guy in Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns TV series. Please, please, if you are fortunate not to be a baldy or a slap-head, do not try to look like The Last of the Mohicans. In Yankee, rocking a mohawk makes you look rebellious and fashion forward; here in Nigeria, it makes you look like people in your village have sworn for you, or that you are on the first notch to catching craze. Some people may even feel sorry for you when they see you in a mohawk, by shaking their heads and cursing your misfortune, and thinking that NEPA must have taken light while the barber was still cutting your hair. Yep, mohawks make you look irresponsible, and apart from that they do not flatter the ogo. In fact unless, you are Mr. Tee from the A-Team, leave it for the red Indians. As Mr. Tee would say “Be cool, fool!”

Nobody Fit Test Me

AIDs is real. Scientists seem to be uncertain about the true origin of the disease. Some say that the virus may have originated as a result of secret experiment with monkeys or a human being shagging a gorilla. A human being nacking a monkey? How did that even happen? Maybe it is true because on a date with my ex-girlfiend to a London Zoo, you should have seen how the baboons were scoping her out. I couldn’t  blame them though – she was a stunner, even though they were probably attracted to that fact that she had forgotten to shave her legs that morning.

Most people my age may have become aware of AIDs and the menace of HIV either through Magic Johnson’s (that name has funny undertones – there was nothing magical about his Johnson if he got the virus) shocking announcement in the 90s that he had the virus, or by watching the Tom Hanks movie Philadelphia. Then there were those government public health service announcements in Nigerian in the late 80s, one of which spurned a hit duet between Onyeka Onwenu and KSA.

In Health Science class in primary school, our books and our prude teacher Ma Ganiyu only mentioned gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and unwanted pregnancies as the possible outcomes of irate sex. My older cousin from the village who came to stay with us to write JAMB later told me about other strains like cut cut and the dreaded ibi di gi n’amu. Let me not bother you with the remedies he prescribed for this strains.

The shocking thing about the AIDS epidemic is how much many ordinary educated Nigerians believe that it only exists in South African infomercials and those dodgy self-righteous money-raising ads with the kwashiorkor children sitting in front of thatched African huts. Most people fail to realize that it hits very close to home. That Vera Wang dress rocking, Blackberry pressing, MAC powder air-brushing, Hermes bag elbowing, Swarovski crystal clad, Ikoyi town-house residing, Master’s degree educated, Salvatore Ferragamo shoe fitted lass you are about to shag may have it. No, it is not written on her forehead. No, it doesn’t only happen to people who have names like “Goodness” or “Favour”.

My cousin wanted to hire a maid  to help take care of her 3 kids. She requested that the maid take an AIDS test before starting work. The maid failed it. My cousin was very sympathetic to the maid. She obviously couldn’t hire her anymore to take care of the kids, but she wanted to help the girl so she offered to enroll the maid in a government sponsored support program for AIDS, and assist the girl any other way she could.

The maid bluntly and viciously refused any help, saying that she did not believe she had any disease, and walked away into the night.

It is a no win situation. What would you have had my cousin do? The ordinary Nigerian is scared and mis-informed about AIDS/HIV. Most Nigerians attach a stigma to it, and assume that the carrier must be an ashewo or a mumu for getting it in the first place. Then there are practitioners with names like Chief Nze Mgaebugi Nyereyaogu who take out small spaces in soft-sell dailies advertising a cure.

Though shamefully I had not always practiced it to the letter, I still believe that abstinence is the best and only way to arrest the spread of AIDS. You have to cut out cigarettes to reduce/eliminate the risk of lung cancer, so why is sex different. Many people have agreed that people usually stop using protection or fail to use it sometimes when they are in a long-term or steady relationship, because they now ‘trust’ their partner. Some find it tiresome and cumbersome to break out a rubber in the heat of passion. And buying rubbers all the time can be an expensive business in a long or aggro filled relationship; and no, Gold Circle doesn’t count.

In Nigeria, my friends and chaps I know have noticed that girls seem to be more reluctant to use a condom than a guy would especially when they are seeing someone steady or someone who they feel they love and can marry. They say they want to “feel closer.” Close wetin? You are asking for closed casket o.

Some years back, I noticed an infection on my back when dressing up after a shower. It was like a dark discoloration. A few weeks, later I still noticed it, and it had spread a bit. So, I decided to stop by a hospital not too far from my house, so they could prescribe something for it.

When I got there, I was ushered into a junior doctor’s office. The doc made me take of my shirt, and then he inspected it.  The silence in the room was deafening when he was done. Looking at me straight in the face he said “Esco, I can’t make a diagnosis right now; I may need to refer you to our consultant who is a specialist”

Diag- wetin?!  For just a mere skin infection? What happened to telling me to swallow some pills, and rub a nasty smelling embrocation so that I could go home and watch Entourage on TV tonight?

Apparently, the consultant was stationed in another branch of the hospital so I would have to go see him there.

Some hours later, I worked in to see the consultant, a bespectacled, gruff looking man in his late 50s. He looked at my medical records, and started asking me questions in a quick manner.

Have you had major surgery before? No

Do you smoke? Rothmans, but I have quit…

Do you abuse alcohol? Gulder when watching Chelsea FC play; palm wine is great though..

Are you sexually active? Ermmm…my girl broke up with me months ago. Do wet dreams count?

Do you use protection? I have a baseball bat at home, and I kept my cutlass from boarding school…

Do you have any family history of diabetes, stroke, hypertension or high blood pressure? My father’s blood ‘temperature’ went through the roof when a certain Nigerian bank crashed in the 90s and he lost all his life savings. He subsequently introduced austerity measures in the house, like no sugar with our garri or tea, so nobody caught diabetes thankfully.

Have you experienced any of the following symptoms – fever, excessive sweating or pains in your joints? I sweat well well every night, especially when NEPA takes light, and there is no diesel for the generator.

Are you allergic to any drug? I hate fake drugs.

Doctor ‘Death” looked up at me unimpressed.

He continued ‘The infection on your back covers a large area. This is worrisome to us. So we are going to be recommending you for a couple of tests – an ECG and a chest X-ray”

When I heard the word ‘tests’, I went gaga. I got my Nollywood on: Doctor, dokinta, doc, please tell me what is wrong? I thought it was a mere skin infection? What are you testing me for?”

The doctor kept schtum like he had taken a mafia oath or omerta. He rang the nurse, as he barely answered me: “We will have a better idea after the tests”

I concluded the tests that evening, and was told to come back the next evening for the result.

When I returned the next evening, the doctor told me that the tests had been inconclusive. He advised “We need to take a blood, urine and sperm sample.”

Wtf?! Blood, I could give easily, no problems. I am a full time orobo.

Urine? I ate beans that morning, and had downed 8 big sachets of ‘pure-water’ so my bladder had enough H2O to spare.

Sperm was the problem. Doc, would you be donating one of your nurses to help ‘milk’ me?

The fine nurse of yesterday wasn’t on duty today. Instead, there was an elderly woman with huge tribal marks, and white in her eye.  I quickly ‘re-arranged’ my mind. She drew my blood, and shoved me 2 containers – one for my piss, and the other for my nuts juice.

In Yankee, they would normally hand you a magazine to ‘assist’ you. Here, good luck with asking for a Genevieve, Wow, Mania or any of our magazines. Trouble o.

I asked the nurse, if I could do the sperm test tomorrow instead. Maybe I would be able to make a few calls later to some girls I knew to make it happen.

The nurse declined “No, Doctor says he needs the samples as soon as possible, so we can send them to a diagnostic lab for quick testing”

I hated the way she said the word ‘sample.’

How was I going to do this? I could refuse of course, but the hospital had put fear in my heart. What if this was something serious like AIDS? Ah, the pen is mightier than the sword o.

The nurse stood there watching. She was clearly enjoying this too much.

After the test, I drove home slowly. I started noticing things I had not noticed before. I cranked up my car stereo and could hear every lyric of the song jamming. I noticed every contour on the road which I had passed a million times, I could count all the stars in the sky. I smelled the unmistaken fume of roasted corn from a road side hawker, mixed with spilled gas from a filling station across the expressway.

These were going to be the longest 24 hours of my life. What would be result? Could this be the end for Esco?

The next morning, I walked into the doctor’s office very slowly.

The doctor announced the result “Very positive…”

I slumped into my chair, shrieking “E wo! I am finished…Positive? How can it be positive?”

The doctor looked at me like I was craze was ‘worrying’ me or something “Mr. Esco, calm down. I meant the results are very positive. You don’t have AIDS or any heart ailment. You have a clean bill of health. Congratulations. I suggest you……”

I was not listening anymore, as I was beside myself with joy. So, I don’t have the dread virus. Thank you doctor; may your consultancy always get plenty sick customers.

I was given a prescription list to buy  a very potent anti-biotic ointment and some tablets too. I snatched the list happily from the doc’s hands.

I whistled happily down the hall way to the bursary to pay my bill.  Then the Nigerian in me came out, my bill was almost 45,000 grand. Yekparikpa…

As I argued with the cashier regarding the huge bill, I had a sick smile in my heart.

 

AIDS is real. Get tested and get help. Read up all you can and keep informed. When you strap up, you hope for the best, and must be prepared for the worst.

Maka Why?

Bros, but why?

What has been your most embarrassing moment ever? Have you ever had any cringe-worthy moment where you hoped that the ground would just swallow you up?

I racked my brain, and I don’t seem to have or recall any. Am I weird? Not like I am the king of cool or anything, but I prefer to not get caught up in the rain. I find that I have been more embarrassed for people whose actions or inactions have put them into the circle of shame.

For example, I remember back in university, on the first day of school after summer. Everyone was looking well turned out in the freshest gear. Whether they were rocking England’s high street couture, Yaba bend-down or Ross/Marshall chic, everyone brought their A-game. I and a few of my pals were chilling by the bottom of the faculty stairs, feeling cool with ourselves in our knock-off Raybans (ours were actually ‘Raymans’ – which we had bought in traffic on Eko Bridge). A group of about 4 girls started coming down the stairs. They were in really tight skirts and killer heels.

One of them then tripped over on the stairs, as she miscued while checking  one of my posse of friends out.  Her books went up into the air like those Yankee high school graduation scenes. Her forms scattered all over the place, and she tumbled down the stairs. She ‘planked’ on the dirty, hard floor.

A few people there, including her friends started laughing and covering their mouths. Me, I was more embarrassed for her. I wanted to help her up, but I let her friends do it instead. You know when a toddler trips and falls down and you shout ‘Chei!’ and  try to help  it up, but it usually makes it cry even more. Home-girl was more embarrassed than hurt, and didn’t know where to look as everyone (including player-haters) gathered saying ‘Sorry o; did you wound yourself?”

I couldn’t even look at her myself. I felt her pain and embarrassment too. Well, I told you that she was wearing ‘killer heels.”

Is it not weird that there is someone who know who always catches you wearing the same outfit anytime they see you despite the unfortunate fact that you do not even wear that outfit often at all. I bought a nice T-shirt with a Che Guevara imprint on it, done in a really fly Andy Warhol art style. I wore that tee to The Palms Mall with my Air Jordans trainers, and a really rugged pair of jeans with stains and tears on it. I ran into a friend of mine Kola and his girlfriend Sara. “Nice one” he said, referring to my tee.

A week and a half later, I dashed to the barbers at Ikota Shopping Complex. I hadn’t taken a shower yet, so I just grabbed that tee since it hadn’t been laundered. Guess who I ran into in the parking lot after I had shaved – Kola and his air-brushed, Colombian-weaved, missus. He looked at the tee, wanted to say something, but swallowed his tongue. No need to compliment it twice now, huh? No homo.

Two good months later, I stopped by a house-warming somewhere in Ajah, on my way back from Surulere, and Kola was there. His girl Sara raised her eyebrows at me (like The Rock) when she saw me in that Tee. Kola then remarked ‘Dis your shirt done become “One Nation.”

I replied dryly “Yeah, birthday suit part 2”

What is it with some Naija people sef?

Do you guys remember that “Masters English” textbook or something of that nature; I am not sure whether that is really the name. It was for secondary school students, and had 6 different parts for the 6 forms in schools. Who can remember a story in chapter one of that textbook which was folklore about why babies are not able to speak at birth? Apparently, eons ago, babies were able to talk from birth. But they were tactless because they didn’t know when to shut their gobs or express their opinions much to the chagrin and embarrassment of their parents/guardians. Reminds me of some people on facebook/twitter.

 The straw which broke the camel’s back was when a baby advised his uncle who had just come in from the farm to go and take a shower as he stunk like a soak-away pit. That’s a bit rich coming from a tot who poos on itself and can’t even change its own diapers. The sensitive uncle was not impressed and complained to “the gods” who then boiled yam (in folklore heaven o), cut a huge slice and jammed it down every baby’s throat from then on out. So apparently that is why babies cannot speak/misyarn at birth, but rather spew some whitish substance from their mouths instead. Oh and this whitish substance has nothing to do with residue from breast milk, colostrum, Similac or ogi (akamu). Abeg jor.

Anyway, this yam business, as ridiculous as it sounds, was not a bad idea (not that I believe it or anything). Some people learn to misyarn from childhood, and some people’s kids can put them to shame with ridiculous observations.

Mummy, mummy I saw daddy and Ekaete wrestling on the bed.

Some kids choose to embarrass their folks when visitors are around. There are those ‘longer-throat’ ones who stand akimbo, looking at guests with begging eyes when drinks and food are served to guests. Normally the child’s mum would have an eye signal to warn the child to leave the sitting room and stop hanging around. Some kids ignore the sign; some even voice out in anger: mummy, why are you winking at me?

Why do kids start moping at the guests like they have never seen food before.

But it isn’t just about food. I recall a time, I and my mother went to see some family friends The Okonjis. They had a seven year old by the name of Darlington (I hate the name too). He was no darling though, the cheeky bugger.

We were all seated in their living room. Mr. Okonji was boasting about his latest financial conquest, when a huge cockroach strolled majestically from one corner of the room and was walking, in fact strolling past the middle of the living room.

The way this insect strolled, you could see it was very much at home in that house. You know when roaches start moving their antennas about? And this was in broad daylight.

I was embarrassed for them. My mum too saw it and buried her eyes in their photo-album, like she hadn’t seen a thing (haha, boring wedding photos from the 70s). Mrs Okonji almost turned red with annoyance but acted like she had not seen it. Mr. Okonji continued his speech, while silently praying that the roach would do its thing quickly, finish its tour and leave in peace (if not in pieces). I made a mental note not to take another sip of the refreshment served, and also to reject anything from their kitchen.

There was moment of brief awkward silence, as the roach stopped suddenly, as it saw a tiny morsel of food on the floor. The nasty bug retraced its steps like a human being would do if he noticed a special dish on a buffet table. This roach had swag.

Then the couple’s kid Darlington then exclaimed in bewilderment  as he pointed at the roach, and broke out in song: “ The roach, the roach, the roach is on the floor. We don’t need any Baygon; let that cockroach crawl. Crawl, crawl, crawl….”

Mrs. Okonji almost fainted “Darlington would you shut up and go to your room and do your homework. Ekanem! Ekanem!! Please bring a broom and come and kill this cockroach.”

Turning to us, she apologized “Our neigbours are filthy people. They have a huge roach problem…”

The above examples have nothing on this Shan George jam below here. Peep the way she keeps repeating “baby” from 3.02 minutes. A national embarrassment, if I ever saw one.

Soap Dish

I was reading Ms Luffa’s awesome blog some time ago, and one of her articles asked readers what would constitute their bucket list if they just had a few days to live? In my comment, I went all self-righteous about how I wanted to do things to change the world –blah, blah, blah. However, I have heard it said that we cannot change the world, unless we change ourselves. Who else has heard that proverb before; hands up?

Then I saw the bucket list subject on Bellanaija as well. Here we go again.

Let’s be frank here, if a town crier, bad news monger, olofofo or angel informed you that you only had a few days to live, if you are a Nigerian, you would likely wail and throw yourself on the floor screaming about how people have sworn for you, and cry and take out your frustrations on the messenger by assaulting and cursing him for bringing bad news. Finally after you have gotten a grip on yourself, you would probably want to do stuff you never contemplated or had the bottle to do earlier in your life.

The Bucket List phenomenon is supposed to have become popular after a Morgan Freeman movie of the same name. Truth be told, I have not seen it though it is somewhere using valuable space on my laptop hard-drive. I can’t be bothered for now – in fact this last weekend I watched Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” instead. Yawn.

The bucket list thing has even been used in a Mase (remember him?) song “24 Hours to live” which was released in 1997 along with a video. It had guest appearances including a rapper called Jadakiss who said he would “Get a fresh baldy, make a few calls/ Shop at the mall, shoot a little ball/”

I don’t know about barbing my head gorimakpa; I would probably max out all my credit cards on gifts for family. And forget shooting some basketball, I would be having a ball.

When people make these bucket lists, they make unrealistic promises of how they would travel to all the 5 continents of the world. And I wonder, which kain travel? You wey dem no gree give ordinary Jand visa for British embassy for Walter Carrington here and you dey cry sef. Now you dey yarn say you go travel around the 5 continents and 7 seas. Na wa o.

But nah seriously, here is what I would love to do; if I could do them. Worry not, if I also have a Plan B Bucket List, also known as my “Soap Dish List”

* I would love to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Failing that, I would hook up with a Fulani cattle-rearer and beg him help shepherd his herd. Kai kai!

* I would spend a night with my girl on the kick off circle of the pitch of my beloved Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium chilling under the floodlights.

* I would learn to fly an airplane (Sosoliso or Bellview), and take skydiving lessons. I would have to double check the parachutes though – it would be disaster if I landed off course in Borno or any of the Boko Haram States. Aboki no vex. I love suya and radio too.

* I would go bungie-jumping from the top of the  Stock Exchange or NET buildings in Marina. Now if only the elevators could work, so that I could actually get to the top floor for my jump. Some people would probably think I tried to commit suicide by hanging myself but my leg got caught in the noose.

* I would climb Aso Rock (the highest rock in the land).

* Write a book, or my memoirs or publish a soft sell like City People or National Encomium and name it “I Pity People” or “National Conundrum.”

* I would learn a language like Ibibio or Urhobo (even though I failed French in school). Someone should teach me Lekki-British though.

* I would go ocean dipping off the coast of Malibu, or snorkeling in that large pool of water next to the National Theatre (Lake Placid). Who knows what I will find in that water. Gold coins or faeces?

* I have always wanted to visit and take wine testing classes in Southern France. With time short, and Air France tickets high, I may decide to take palm-wine tasting classes in Sapele, Delta state instead. I would sample akpeteshi, ogogoro, sapele water, push me I push you.

*Finally, I would ‘plank’ on the Eiffel tower. Or on a 3rd Mainland Bridge railing at midnight. Or on Munachi Abi. 

Na small small

At last..

No lie, sometimes when I am by my lonesome, I like to observe the environment around me, and try to come up to answers to the whats and whys. I have seen a fair bit in my short existence on this earth, and there are times I have thought that I have a life one could write a book on. But who doesn’t?

I have seen my family robbed by AK-47 toting armed robbers on Sagamu-Ore express way, making a trip during the Xmas holidays – they took cash, jewelry, boxes of gear but spared our lives and my trusty Sony CD-changer. We still stopped over at Iyayi Station Benin City for refreshment and treats.

I have been in parts of Nigeria where poverty and despair were complete, etched on the faces of the children, the elderly and the old at heart. I have been on a road in an Abuja municipality, and seen a drunken bus driver lose control of his vehicle on a wet rainy surface, skid, and fall into a ditch, the bus on its roof, and tires still spinning upwards. I and my friend who had been driving behind pulled up, and rushed to help. The conductor was sitting dazed by the side of the ditch, while the driver was still attempting to push the bus upright without a care for his injuries. We had to insist that he sit still, because he was still in shock, and was more worried about what he would tell the owner of the bus. And the bus ironically had an inscription on it “The downfall of a man is not the end of his life.”

I have seen my best friend Paul start with marijuana and then get hooked on more dangerous substances until he became a complete druggie, now a permanent guest at Yaba, and an uncomfortable subject for his father when quizzed by amebo friends:

“Paul my son? Oh, he is his 3rd year at Medilag studying medicine.”

“That’s strange, my daughter is also in year 3 at Medilag and says she has never seen him.”

“That is because he is doing the part-time program”

“I never knew medicine programs in Nigeria had part-time”

“Well, they do now. Let’s head out for a beer, jare”

I have seen cancer ravage a loved one, until he was pissing blood, and passed on in a dingy hospital with NEPA issues. He died in the dark.

This is the only country on God’s green earth where someone would ask you for a favour or a tip, with scant disregard for your own comfort or considerations. They want what they want NOW. I have told you the story of how a toilet attendant at a loo in the Silverbird Galleria was close-marking me for a tip when I was taking a leak at the urinal. And I was like “Dude, give me a break or get bathed with a jet of my finest golden premium brine”

The attendant was undeterred nonetheless ‘Bros, anything for me?” Water nor get enemy.

On the other side, I have seen the wonderful parts of Nigerian life. Like the Lekki breeze on my face, as I drive with the windows down on traffic-less weekend evenings. The opportunity cost of driving with the windows down are wicked anopheles mosquitoes and bugs flying in and chewing my limbs, hawkers pushing their wares in my face and the odd pick-pocket/chain snatcher, but in this state I am happy. I would also have stuck out my arm, to cup the air as I speed on, but for dare-devil okada riders.

Seeing the inherent good-natured part of some ordinary Nigerians is a sweet sight for sour eyes. By-standers are always ready to offer you directions if you ask for help, although they usually get ‘left’ and ‘right’ mixed up. “You go take right for the next junction, come fire go straight then turn left, then dey go. You go see another right turn, but no take am oh or you go lost. Take left instead” And the guy giving the directions was pointing right as he said left.

So I asked, ‘Oh you mean left, and not right, right?” The bystander looked at me like I was mad or something “Oga, abi you no sabi road? So you nor know ya left from ya right, na wa for you o.” And I scratched my head, as he started all over again. At least I am not paying for Sat Nav.

It is still amusing though, how you can plant a seed or an idea in this country, and if it is watered the right way, you can build or grow something tougher than leather. You go, Nigeria!

All that I have seen and heard have meant something. Different aspects of human behavior amuse me to no end; but no species of humans on this earth can compare to Nigerians. That is why this blog was conceived in the first place - we may never have walked on the moon, but see how gracefully Nigerians prance the earth. I wanted to talk about the beautiful and weird things Nigerians were doing when the critical cameras of the world were switched off on us. Things that made others go ‘Woah! That is epic”

Amidst all the complications of Nigerian life, it is the little things that amuse us. What amuses you?

Some questions go unanswered, that’s what I’m afraid of/
Sometimes I can’t show, but I know what I’m made of/

DMX (Coming From, 1998)