Andrew’s Kpali

Over-seas, under-g


One of the enduring memories of the early 80s was that grim ad where a guy named Andrew wanted to check out of Nigeria by all means due to the SAP induced economic hardships. In the advert, he was advised not to do so by another older Nigerian, but to remain and contribute his quota to national development. If only Andrew were living in these present times, he would find out that he could not ‘check out’ on a whim as was easily possible during those times.

Now, first he would have to fork out a king’s ransom to obtain an E-passport from the rowdy Immigration Office in Ikoyi. He may also have to bribe some unscrupulous agent to help him get the privilege of getting an interview date that is not sometime in 2090.  Then he would find himself queuing on Walter Carrington in V.I, after paying an arm and a leg in visa fees, only to be given a 10 year ban for sneezing during the interview. He may need to write an English test before being allowed to do his Masters in Jand. In fact, people who plan to ‘check out’ nowadays for good or for school, do not tell anyone outside their immediate family of their plans, until they are safely on terra firma in Heathrow/Gatwick/JFK airports. Some bad bele people dey beef travelers for Naija.

Some people equate leaving the country with a golden ticket to utopia. There are people who believe that once you cross the border or our hemisphere, you are welcomed to a land filled with milk and honey. You can see it in some people’s actions, though they try to act ‘normal’. I remember some years back, when I went to the British High Commission in Lagos for my student visa interview, I ran into some girl I  recognized from university. I and this girl never exchanged a word back in school because our paths never did cross like that. The girl saw me across the waiting room, and gave me a golden wink, like so Esco you are planning to Jand, eh? Me too oh.

She was called for her interview before me so she walked into the waiting room nervously. I looked around me in the waiting room, and people’s faces looked nervous and anxious, because Naija people dey fear visa interview officers.  One guy was biting his nails and cracking his knuckles as if it was a doe or die affair, and that if he was not granted a visa, his world would end.

Then the girl I knew from school, walked out of the interview room, pumping her fists in triumph. I felt embarrassed for her. The look on Nigerian people’s faces in the waiting room of embassies is always priceless. Some people hissed, while a few looked enviously at my former schoolmate, like “You are going to Hollywood baby.”

There was time at another embassy interview, that I saw someone I knew after coming out of the interview room,  and he was gesticulating widely with his palms like ‘did you get it’

It is not about the size (or length) of the visa, it was what you do with it.

Then you have the boastful loudmouths who brag or show-off about their travels on Twitter, BB or Facebook updates. I know this lass whose Facebook updates always go like this “Dubai state of mind” or “Jetting off tonite“ Like who cares?

For a good while, for many Nigerians, travelling abroad entailed either going to England or the U.S. Now there are many more popular destinations, as the world is now connected as a global village, and now almost anybody can go ‘away’ – Ghana, Canada, Southie (SA), Dubai, China, Germany, Italy (work visa program) – in fact anywhere but here.

Even the ordinary man on the street equates travelling out with easy dollars. And this ridiculous belief is shared by people who should know better. I had this place I used to go cut my hair in Lekki. It was a barber shop, with 4 barbers who usually engaged in banter with the cutting public. One of them in particular was a really flamboyant dude – he grew dreadlocks which looked more dada, he always wore some white sneakers like that, and liked playing Lil Wayne videos on the salon DVD. This guy was obsessed with Lil Wayne to a fault. He used to try dressing like Lil Wayne, even with the dreadlocks (dada), white wife-beater vests (shimi), and the bling (dog-tag). He ended up looking like Denrele instead. He even started grinning and laughing like Lil Wayne. Ha! He would rewind and play the ‘Lollipop’ video a million times and marvel at the stretch hummer, the girls and the champagne and fantasize about relocating to Yankee, where he heard that cash was easy, and that barbers earn a fortune. He usually grilled the rich people’s kids whose hair he cut for information about their summer trip to the States.

He wasn’t the only one obsessed with ‘checking out’ of Nigeria. There was another of them, a light-skinned barber called Osa. Osa usually cut my hair, because he was a better barber than the Lil Wayne impersonator, and I preferred him because the impersonator was always miming the Wayne’s songs close to my ear-drums, which is really irritating. Major Payne.

Osa said that he was just deported from Sweden about 3 months back, and it was his life ambition to return to Europe even though his passport was stamped with the deportation order.

Sweden? Before then, whenever I thought about Sweden, my mind went to Volvos, Abba, Ace of Base, beautiful blond women, Dolph Lungdren action flicks and IKEA furniture. Apparently they have a free tertiary institution scheme, which has attracted Nigerians there in droves.

Apparently Osa had travelled to Sweden on one of those schemes, but to hustle. He didn’t attend school, but hung out with some Nigerian dudes who had been resident in the country for years, and were into ‘business.’ They painted the town red, bar-hopping and going to clubs. They were at a club one night, when some people got into a fight and a girl was stabbed. Before anyone could say ‘Jackie Robinson’, the police had arrived and sealed the premises, and were checking every patron one by one. Osa was drunk, but he sobered up quick. The police didn’t buy Osa’s story that he was a student at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was booked and later deported. He had only been in Swedo for 4 months.

Back in Nigeria, he took up barbing in Lagos. He said that his family and friends in Benin had no clue that he had been deported, save for his sister. He was too ashamed to go back home and face people who were expecting ‘big things’ from him. Daft, I know.

Osa moaned about suffering in Nigeria and wanting to travel out every time I went to shave or cut my hair. I tried to advise him to try and get some education or try a business or develop himself and make the most of Nigeria. He was not interested. Bro, if you are a barber, try and be the best one you can be. Nigeria needs your talents more.

Then one day he met a white girl online at a cyber cafe. They started chatting everyday on yahoo messenger. Then the gist turned to love. The girl was originally from Ireland was living and working in South Africa, with the World Health Organization as a nurse.

Some weeks later, I was at the barbers when Osa told me that the girl had told him to come over to SA for a visit. First of all, I thought it was a scam, but he showed me the girl’s pictures, some texts and and an email he had printed out. Not entirely convinced, and fearing that it might be the work of scammers fronting as a girl to entrap mugus, I told him to wait and see if the person would ask for money or a kind of financial inducement. But nothing of the sort.  Southie nurse was as real as Yvonne Chaka Chaka..

Osa was happy. He said “I no fit believe say I would soon be in South Africa. I would go and visit Mandela.” He did not tell any of his barber co-workers about the impending trip, as in his words, make them no go jazz me. He only told the nail file worker in the girl’s beauty department, and the chap begged Osa to bring him “Umqombothi” from South Africa.

The next time I came to the barbers, Osa was looking depressed, cutting a customer’s hair. I had half a mind to stay out of what was bothering him; besides I had just barely come out of a 2 hours Lekki traffic and the smarting Lagos sun. But Osa kept hissing and sighing until it became criminally impossible to ignore him. He had gone for a visa interview at the South African Embassy some days before. And, yes you guessed it, he had been denied.

I asked him what supporting travel documents had he taken for the visa interview. He said he had taken his passport, an invitation letter from the girl,  a letter of employment from an computer sales shop he did part-time work in and a ‘souped up’ bank account statement.

So why was he not granted the visa? Wait for it, it is the daftest reason, I have ever heard. After grilling Osa on how he met the girl, why he was making a personal trip, what he does for a living, how he met the girl (to which he lied that she had come to Nigeria for holidays some months back), the interviewing officer still looked dissatisfied. The offer looked at his application, and asked him one final but irrelevant question: “ You said, you speak to the girl on the phone every day right? What is her phone number?”

Osa faced dropped, as he drew a blank. The interviewing officer ended the interview, and stamped Osa’s passport with a huge red ink. Denied.

When I heard this, I was so pissed. I told Osa that he was a moron. In this day and age, who the hell remembers anyone’s number, especially an international number off-head. That is what a cellphone’s address book is for! And due to Osa’s ignorance, he didn’t have the confidence to stick it to the man. The officer just played on Osa’s intelligence (or lack of). Some Nigerians fit fall someone hand sef.

Osa said the girl cried when she heard he was denied, and swore that she would come and visit him in Nigeria soon. But Osa discouraged her, because he wanted to leave the country instead, and besides he didn’t have money “to take care of this oyibo” if she came here.

When I came to the barber’s two weeks later, Osa had some anxious news. Apparently, the girl had insisted on coming, and was arriving in a week’s time. Osa was anxiety personified. He worried about how she would cope with NEPA, what she would eat, where she would sleep, what she would do for entertainment. In fact he worried about how he would get the cash to foot all the bills for the above.

He said that some of the “Lagos big boys” whose hair he had cut at the salon had heard his story and promised to help. One said he and the girl could lodge at his hotel for a week. Another told him to come and collect a car (Honda End of Discussion) from his fleet for his use during the girl’s visit. Another told him to come and lodge the girl in his big house, but at a price – so that they could ‘sandwich’ the girl. Osa had politely declined the last one.

I knew what it was all leading to – a plea for cash from me, but I didn’t want to indulge his crassness. According to him, he needed more money to “buy Indomie noodles, cartons of sardine and Uncle Ben’s rice, and also cash to take the girl go Silverbird, Shoprite and Alpha Beach.”

I told him: “I don’t have silver or gold, but I would give you a gem of an advice. Make you no go bankrupt yourself say you wan dey impress your oyibo girlfriend. When someone comes to visit you from outside Nigeria, the person would be more interested in eating our local cuisine and going to our own local joints. Carry the girl to places like Olaiya to eat designer rice. Take her to Kuramo beach and buy her cowrie shells. Or go to Lagbaja’s Motherland or Fela’s Shrine. You don’t need to spend beyond your means. After all she knows that you are a barber so you are not well off.”

Osa was nodding repeatedly, but I could see that my words were going in one ear and exiting the other, because he was nodding faster than I was talking. Ok o.

A month later, I came to the barbers and Osa was there. The girl had come and had left some days before. She had refused to sleep anywhere but in  Osa’s house, and made sure she ate all the Nigerian food. She especially loved guguru and epa featuring boli and made Osa buy it for her every evening. She even convinced Osa to take her to see his cousin in Benin. He showed me pictures of them together on his phone. She looked a bit like Kelly Osbourne before she had lost weight.

How had she coped with NEPA? Osa said that he would get up when NEPA took light at night and fan her with a huge raffia fan, ignoring his own sweating, until she cooled down and fell back asleep. She still sweat buckets though, but there was a night he fanned her for 5 hours non-stop.

Wow! So I asked Osa, do you love this girl? He became evasive. Later he confessed that he liked her as a person, but more importantly she was his ticket to South Africa, then Europe. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This guy is an incorrigible imp.

I did not visit the salon for almost 2 months as work took me outside Lagos, and the next time I was there, Osa wasn’t there. One of the barbers and the manicurist then told me that he had quit his job and travelled to SA. Armed with pictures of he and the girl from her trip here, the girl’s bank account, and another letter of invitation, Osa had this time crammed the girl’s number and had reapplied for a visa. He was successful this time, and quit his job, by pointing to a sharpened Wahls clipper and telling his boss where to stick it.

This just showed me first-hand how vital some people see travelling out of Nigeria.

About 3 months later, I went to Ikota Shopping Complex to do a few things, and as I was driving by, who did I see? It was Osa looking very tore up. If his situation was bad before, it looked worse now. I stopped the car, and wound down my window. He tried to duck when he saw me. What had happened? He had been deported from SA. I didn’t even want to hear the full story, as the thing tire me sef. Some impatient drivers were honking behind me, so I told him that I would see him later. His situation looked like he was back to minus one.

Nigeria is a tough country no doubt, and I believe everybody is free to travel and reside wherever they please. It was even commanded in the bible, and in fact, the one-time human beings tried to stay in one place (the Tower of Babel), they were dispersed by God. What irks me is the mistaken belief or fantasies of some naïve people that the living abroad automatically solves all their problems, or that they wont need to work hard to make it when they get outside Nigeria. Desperation sucks as well.

THE END

Esco – Now writes a blog about Nigerian life, which has now clocked over 50,000 hits. He still drinks water directly from the bottle without using a cup, watches reruns of Jersey Shore, and still dreams of owning his own online newspaper.

Lil Wayne wanna be – Still works as a barber, but suffered bouts of depression when he heard that Lil Wayne got sent to prison. He would have emulated Wayne but thought twice when he remembered the difference between Rikers Island Correctional Facility and Kirikiri Maximum Prison. He was distracted by a Lil Wayne performance at an award show on TV, and mistakenly gave a Lagos Big Boy a bald patch while cutting his hair. He received an “Olisa Dibua-esque” beating.

Manicurist – Was promoted to a barber after Osa left. Still thinks Nosa is in South Africa as is still waiting for his Umqombothi.

South African nurse – Met a South African man at the airport on the day of Osa’s deportation, and they later hooked up for lunch, dated for a while, and are getting married next month. They are planning to come to Lagos for their honeymoon!

Osa – He is abroad, but not yet in Europe. I hear that he was among the Nigerian guys held and nearly killed by Libyan guerilla fighters recently. He was disappointed because he had one more border left till he hit Italy.

For the sake of your name, oh Lord/
may we break away from the chains abroad/

Nas (Ghetto Prisoners, 1999)

****N.B: Cheer up T.B

 

Writing Services Offered

I offer writing services for blogs, websites magazines, newspapers, columns, businesses etc. at very competitive rates.

Here are a summary of the kind of writing services I provide:

  • article writing for media prints
  • contents for blogs, websites and online journals
  • blog posts
  • press release writing
  • ghost writing (including songs, lyrics, scripts and poetry)
  • speeches
  • columns for magazines and newspapers

Clients are assured of a fantastic service as my writings are all original, well-crafted, fresh and professionally edited, without copy and paste jobs or plagiarism.

If interested, contact me at woahnigeria@yahoo.com or on Twitter @EscoWoah

Janded Riot

Gimme The Loot

“A riot is, at bottom, the language of the unheard” – Martin Luther King, 1967

More than a month ago, the rest of the world looked in horror (except for Nigerians) as England endured almost 2 weeks of rioting, looting and banditry. Shops were smashed into, cars tipped over, and properties set ablaze. This would elicit a yawn from someone who has been residing in Jos for the past decade, but this needs to be taken into context. What surprise most people was not the rioting and lawlessness in placing like Tottenham and Leyton – it was the craziness which occurred in more upscale neighborhoods like Kensington and Ealing. That is the equivalent of someone frying akara for sale on a VGC street. Haha.

People blamed the riots on yob (slang for area boy) culture, disgruntled youths and disenfranchised communities. I think the love for consumer goods may have played a part. Did you see some people carting away large screen plasma TVs. I even saw a picture of a lass with a pack of Uncle’s Ben’s rice. If, heaven forbid, a full scale riot were to occur in Lagos, there are many things people would loot before thinking of a bag of ofada  or Abakiliki rice.

Nigerians prefer instant gratification. Stealing ofada rice is burdensome – you have to heave the heavy bag, and then look for oil, salt, tomatoes and meat to cook the dish. You may not even have gas/kerosene for your stove. How do I know all this?

I remember sometime in the 80s, there was a crazy riot in the Surulere part of Lagos. Parents came to collect their kids early from school, and businesses shut down, as a mob of rioters went from shop to store breaking in and carting away ‘valuables’ (perishables as you will come to find out later).

Adeniran Ogunsanya Road was the worst hit, predictably. These inconsiderate fools smashed up my dear Chicken George, an eatery ala TFC, which used to serve up the awesome-est breaded chicken and a side dish of perfectly cut fries. Chicken and chips were their specialty, and each potato chip was precisely cut like a diamond gem, spiced with flavors to excite the tongue and deep fried to an inch of perfection. The chicken itself was a work of art – breaded, crunchy but not flaky chicken skin with a well-cooked interior. These looters, these brutes, these vagabonds  trashed that joint up, smashing the windows, scattering the furniture, and dismantling the grills. Chicken George was never the same again. It lost its custom to Little Chef, then Terris, and now when people outside Surulere hear the word Chicken George, they think of Kunta Kinte’s grandson, the chicken fighter from the famous book/ TV series “Roots” by the famous author Alex Haley.

Across the road, a famous supermarket, the “Shoprite” of its day, was not spared either. A group broke into the store, and someone opened the freezer, and started helping himself to some Walls ice-cream! Yep, a grown-ass man who joined the rioting for some bedeviled political cause, was sitting in a store, the sweat of the owner’s labor, licking Fan Ice and Walls ice-cream. In Nigeria, you lick ice-cream, not eat it.

UTC a large departmental store suffered the same treat. I hear rioters helped themselves to ice cream, jam donuts and rolls from the deli within the store, while boxes of gold watches and 24 carat gold trinklets laid in the show-glasses untouched. What is it with Nigerians and ice-cream sef? Even kids are in on the act. Uncle please buy me ice-cream na. What?! You are lucky I came to get you, and you are not walking back home from school, like the Jakande school kids your age do.

The London riots took an ugly twist when famous historian David Starkey made a ‘racist’ comment in the aftermath with his comments on a talk-show about how black culture was impacting Britain negatively. There was an uproar in the UK around that time. I was more incensed with the weak rebuttal the black lady in the interview offered. I hate when people only cite hiphop and entertainment as negro contributions to world culture

Well that one no concern us for Naija. Besides we have contributed to world  immensely. I mean this is a country that has produced Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, 2 of the world’s 6 black billionaires, Fela,  Kanu, James Ibori, Terry G, Jim ‘Shoes’ Ikye, OBJ and Tonto Dike. Go figure.

A few people tried to act like the rioters were pre-dominantly black. Some Naija people opined that as far as some of the rioters were black, there is a good chance that some Nigerians would have been involved. These same people bleat that same old line that one in four black persons is a Nigerian. Apparently this statistic is only ever brought up when there are a group of 4 bandits or rogues, and never when its 4 successful black people.

Unfortunately, a Nigerian engineering student was part of the rioters remanded at Her Majesty’s prisons. This unfortunate Masters student had ‘thiefed’ a plasma TV from a mall in Surrey, thereby contravening the conditions of his kpali. Sorry o. So because of 32 inches, he is about to experience 32 feet of separation. Imagine what his folks back in Nigeria would think. Some people said Britain will collect their kpali back, but that is the least of his problems, he will have to foreit his eduction. And you know what they say – when  you close a school, you build a prison. I can just imagine one of those people who queue day in day out outside the British Embassy on Walter Carrington, desperately trying to “Andrew’ out of Nigeria, sighing at disgust at this story. You blew it brother. TV dey Naija na.

And forget all that bollocks that Naija folks like awoof too much, and cant help but steal given the opportunity. My answer to that is that have you ever seen an Naija illegal immigrant in Jand before? Or a Naija person whose idea of a nightmare is having to return to Nigeria after his study? Or the ones who even come for hols and want to stay out of trouble, so that they will be able to continue to get visa? They are like Bambi on ice – the personification of good behavior.

Even the illegal immigrant Naija person is well behaved. If he sees wahala or riot coming, he will flee in the other direction. They stay away from areas or situations where police are likely to gather or arrive. One even had his flat robbed, and begged his bemused oyibo neigbour not to call the cops, as he didn’t want to file a report. He explained to the bewildered neighbor: “Mr. Smith, all is vanity; besides I have forgiven the burglars. I was even about to donate the things to Oxfam charity, before the robbers struck sef

After the oyibo person had reluctantly agreed and left, he was like “Ewu! So na me go carry myself go report for police, after I don dodge them for 7 years. Biko buru ga wa.”

Even the legal Nigerians who come for hols are likely to be timid, and stay out of trouble. A 10 year ban on your E-passport to some is a valid death sentence and social suicide. Some Naija people had their return flight cancelled and delayed for 12 hours. As compensation, BV put them up in a hotel close to Heathrow. Then later that evening, they received knocks on their doors, as the hotel staff came to inform them to come down to the hotel restaurant for dinner, as their flight had been rescheduled for later that night.

Some of the naija people came down to the restaurant but were scared to touch the food. Make someone no go chop 100 pounds food, when he don spend all him money for Next on Oxford Street. Even the ones with cash, were scared to eat because that VAT tax-refund money was for a return trip next summer or the foreseeable future. Food dey Naija na.

Sensing their reluctance, the restaurant manager told a few of them ‘Go ahead and serve yourself. The meal is complimentary.” Compli-wetin? The fait accompli.

The one he told panicked and explained to the others “ The oyibo man talk say the food is very sweet. But mami, me I dey go upstairs. I no get pounds to waste just because I wan chop oyibo salad”.

About 33 of the other travelers followed him up to their rooms. Only 8 of the passengers sat down and got something to eat. Four of them were Sierra Leoneans.

Over-reaction is my only reaction which only sets off a chain reaction/

that puts five more zany acting maniacs in action/

..a lot of people say misogynistic which is true/

I don’t deny it – matter of fact I stand by it/

So please stand by at the start of a damn riot/

If you don’t wanna get stampeded, then stand quiet/

 D12 (I Spit On You, 2000)

The Jungle

Laws are a vital part of society. Without the rule of law, and the respect for it, society becomes a free for all – a wild west country with people usurping each other’s rights, and people converting their neighbors properties. No one would be safe, and there would be psychos strapping C4s and dynamites to themselves and going on murdering sprees blowing innocent people to bits, and greedy Gregs misappropriating public funds. Sounds familiar? Happens already? Nigeria much?

Well most people would complain that we have a lame-duck government. Some would hiss if you said that the government is there to serve the people. This same people swear that our country is a lawless nation with the characteristics of Mad Max country. The truth is that laws have been formulated since time memorial, and if people followed them, things would be much different. Someone once told me, that Nigerians do not break the law, they just bend it, till it becomes their intended. Splendid.

I prefer to look at the following laws recently passed by the various levels of government, and say my fair bit. Enjoy:

  • A Tenancy Law has been passed by the Lagos State Legislature banning 2 years rent. Why this hasn’t been done since is beyond me, but it is a welcome development. Landlords of face me I face you tenements demand 3 years rent at a go, and disappear into thin air without ever doing anything to improve or maintain the structure of the lettings.

When I was in college (sounds better than University), there was these fuji landlord who let out a house which had not even been plastered! It was just a structure of blocks and rods, and barely had any electrical fittings. Students were desperate for accommodation, and rushed in droves. The landlord collected security deposits as well as one years’ rents from each tenant, and then took all the time in completing the house one plaster of cement at a time. The house didn’t have doors or windows, so it looked like Pan’s Labyrinth. The tenants saw the landlord driving past in a newer model Toyota Camry, and he did as if it wasn’t him who owned the building. When they tried to approach him, to come and finish the house up, he got very aggressive and evasive.

  • Spring Bank, Afribank and Bank PHB went down under some weeks ago. Despite all the CBN’s rhetoric and theories, one thing is sure – people will be out of jobs, and customers may lose out. The CBN’s plan is to transfer asset, debts and liabilities  of each institution to a bridge bank to administer in the interim.

This may work out but most stakeholders have adopted a siddon-look stance. My father lost millions in life savings in the mid -90s when one of the quack banks of the time went bust.

It was us kids and those who relied on him for upkeep who suffered. And boy were we many. Nigeria has that umbrella effect, especially Igbos. If your father came upon hard times, it wasn’t just his nuclear family that suffered socio-economic hardship. You had cousins who even cried more than the bereaved, and villagers who drank panadol for your family sickness.

In my house, things changed overnight. Meals were the most affected. We used to have 1-1-1-1. Which is a nice breakie, a huge sumptuous lunch,  a mid-day snack and then a light dinner. Then it became 1-1-0. Then 0-1-0 finally. No wonder some people do 4-1-9 to survive.  From Satis beef sausages and hot rolls from Big Treat for breakfast to akamu (pap) without milk and plenty lumps in it at 11am.  We became vegetarians involuntarily – rice without meat. Have you had stew without tomato or a sandwich without bread? Well I did. The infamous food of champions, Benji (beans and yam in Igbo) became a staple in our house. If I was lucky and had spare change, I could upgrade to Benjamin (beans, yam and mineral). Glory be to God, none of us dropped out of school due to fees. One day I would talk about this phase of my life more in detail. Stay tuned, or buy the book when it is up for sale.

My cousins were worse for it since they depended on me dad for their upkeep.  They used to add water to egg whites and whisk the mixture so that it could go round a family of 4. The whole family shared a bedroom to cut costs. One night while they were asleep, Arinze one of the kids felt someone tugging on him. He thought it was his brother Emmanuel, so he said ‘Emma, please leave me alone, I want to sleep. I am tired.”

Emma replied ‘It is not me o.”

Arinze opened his eyes and saw a huge rat (rabbit) chewing on his fingers. He had gone to bed after eating a dinner of fufu, without washing his hands. The rat had also given him a Tyson hair-cut. It had eaten lumps out of his hair.

Nigeria, eh!  Please let us join the B.A.N.K.S (Banks Are Not Kind SMT) movement to save our economy and jobs.

  • Still on the Lagos State government, I heard something about a proposed Lagos State Ban on flogging which would make it unlawful for parents or teachers to discipline their kids, with a 3 year sentence if found guilty. I know some people who would be doing 25 to Life if that law were passed years back. I mean there are parents who seem to get a kick out of disciplining or chastising their kids in public. Back in Form 1 (JSS 1) in secondary school, it was the final day of a term, and parents were waiting near the school gates to collect their children who were boarders.

As I managed to escape the attentions of a prefect in my dorm who wanted to send me on an errand, I packed my box and dashed to the gate area. Ah, alas utopia – there was my old earth (mum) waiting to take me home. As I dragged my box to where she was standing, another student a fellow JSS 1 student, a really scruffy dude called Gozie was pulling his own belongings – in a wee Jimtex travelling bag. His father had come to get him and was looking irritated when he spotted him (Gozie).

Mother hugged me, and we were about to leave when Papa Gozie started laying into Gozie.

As he was abusing Gozie, he was looking at my mother as if to report his erring son: “This idiot boy is always in the habit of misplacing all his belongings in the boarding house? All he has left is a 2 shirts, his books, and the clothes on his back, all packed into this travelling bag. What have I not done? I even labeled all his things with his name including his uniform and boarding wear. He has lost his mattress, his bucket, his soap dish, his school uniform, some of his textbooks, his iron, his cutlery, but unfortunately he has not lost his head…” and Papa Gozie slapped Gozie venomously on his head as he said the last bit. Gozie (Headmaster was his nickname) did have a massive head that would put Timaya and Noble to shame but that was beside the point. The sound of the slap echoed around the school, and people turned to look.

I and my mum opened our mouths in disbelief. It wasn’t like my mum was a saint. It was just that she did her flogging in private. In fact my mum didn’t always have to flog me or anyone of my siblings. Sometimes she would throw her Jaguar slippers at you if you tried to escape punishment. Anybody who grew up in the 80s would know Jaguar slippers – the shoe of choice won by most Nigerian women. It looked like a cross breed between a Scholl and a Mary Jane pump, and came in all sorts of colors including blood red.

My mum’s own was like a boomerang when she threw it. You would run away from the room as you tried to escape, and bolt down the corridor, and turn left into your room, and the Jaguar slippers will make a left and right turn, and hit you. That should be child abuse now, abi? Then it was discipline and I have turned out okay. Yeah, I was flogged and disciplined as a child, and I turned out alright. I am not dysfunctional or bi-polar as some child psychologists would have you believe about recipients of corporal punishment. Balance is key, of course.

  • I am sure some of you would have heard of a recent Lagos law that if you get a lady preggers and abandon her, you would go to jail. There was an uproar when this law was first announced as critics feel that it is a moral issue which the law should have no part of. Proponents of the law have argued that  the law is there to checkmate irresponsible behavior by those who would want to take advantage of young women. While the law itself aims to do too much in my opinion, I am all for any law that prevents the wanton exploitation of innocent girls.

I mean there are dirty agbaya men in Nigeria who make passes at orange or groundnut hawkers, sometimes even in their early teens by making this sexual innuendo –laced  indecent proposal “ If you agree for me, I go buy all your gra-nut but I no go collect any.”

Or “how much na this your 2 oranges”, as the pervy imp looks down from the tray of oranges to the teen hawker’s cleavage. Imprison them all, I say.

As regards the pregnancy law, trust me the rich and powerful in our society have more to fear as they are ones sowing their wild oats about. On the flipside this may be a lucrative time to be a D & C (abortion) doctor, as this is what this law may promote.

I remember when I was in secondary school, there was this kid whose mum was one of the concubines of a very popular billionaire politician, so the kid took the politicians surname. This politician had fathered children all over the place, but he still provided for his concubines and mistresses and their kids even if they lived all over the country The man must have had over 30 children.

For Inter-house sports Day, the politician was asked to chair the event, and arrived with his huge entourage. The kid escaped the attentions of the security detail, and ran up to the politician greeting “Daddy! Daddy, good afternoon.”

The politician drew back from his embrace, rather embarrassed and confused as he failed to recognize the kid. He whispered as he inquired “Eh, which one is your mummy again?”

Live like the Kennedy’s, above the law/

Big Pun (Boomerang, 1998)

Abegi

oya, have it...

I apologize for the brief hiatus. I had so much going on privately (in a good way). How has everyone been? Well, I am back to doing me, with more articles and my warped points-of-view.

I also want to thank everyone who inquired about how I was getting on, either via blog comments, Twitter messages or emails. Una too much jare. This goes out to you, and you, and you….

With that said, scroll up for an article, keep ‘patronizing’ this blog, and yeah please – I want to hear you. Post a comment, send me a sweet Tweet, shoot me an email (woahnigeria@yahoo.com).

Forever And A Day More

Esco