THE SIDDON LOOK CULTURE: JUNGLE JUSTICE & THE BRAVE 4

There is a war out there, and no Nigerian youngster may be safe from it: a secret experiment to drive the Nigerian youth into extinction. More students and young Nigerians have been killed or imperiled this year than I have ever known since I was old enough to know my government name or since I learnt to do a number 2 by myself in the toilet.

From the Mubi 40 to the Aluu 4, and running through a thread of sad instances (the Sosoliso air crash), then the incidents involving NYSC corpers in the Boko Haram North to the recent Dana Air mishaps, we have mourned enough members of Generation Y-Not (those born after the oil boom years of 1977 and beyond) to declare a genocide watch in Nigeria.

My heart is heavy, especially after the recent Mubi and Aluu deaths, and before I speak on it, I would enjoin every one of my readers to heed this:  Try and preserve yourself as much as you can while we gang-plank walk this contraption that is the Nigerian experiment.

Every Musa, Mezie and Moyo with access to social media has heard and given their opinion about the sad deaths which occurred at Aluu community, where 4 UNIPORT students were tortured and murdered in cold blood by an irate mob bent on dispersing their own warped version of street justice. Per chance you have not heard because you have been residing in Bagco super-sack in a remote Zamfara outpost, or if you are hustling in the diaspora doing a menial per hour job, you may catch up by visiting Linda Ikeji’s blog or any gossip/news site in blogosphere.

With all the curses, abuses, accusations that have been leveled against Loco Haram (the Aluu mob),  the saddest thing in all this is that people in the mob stood by and did not intervene in any form to stop the horrible act. Members of the community stood with folded arms, or seemed to wash their hands off it like Pilate, and a MOPOL soldier even stood passively even though he was armed with a rifle. To serve, protect and collect 20 naira from bus drivers.

This gruesome act took place in a country where the average person does not mind their business. It is weird that we Nigerians do a lot of olofofo but do not know when to intervene. The same amebo neighbor that would count the number of cars you have parked in your compound, as well as memorize all the license plate numbers by heart and even know that you used Sacklus paint on the building, all from looking over his wall and listening to neighborhood gossip, even though he has never spoken a word to you, should not cower in silence and switch off all the lights in house, when Anini’s disciples pay you a visit in the dead of the night. Every good neighbors owes you a 911 call (or whatever Operation Sweep’s number is) to the police if you are being robbed. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

Nigerians must know when to intervene and when to be passive. I mean this is a country where if you were driving a vehicle with a flat or limp tire on a public road, passer-bys or other road users riding on okadas would not hesitate to bang on your car boot or bonnet as they overtook your car to alert you about the tire. Some would even honk their horns loudly. At this point, we are ready to drink Panadol for another person’s sickness.

Nigerian is a country where a ‘good Samaritan’ will help a female driver change a flat tire if she is struggling with it. Or help a driver jump start a faulty car by helping to push it. But no one may assist the same female to the hospital if she had been hit by a stray bullet because robbers were operating nearby. Or if a stolen article mistakenly fell into her purse at the market, and attention was drawn to it by town-criers.

Are Nigerians now aloof and more interested in self or ‘tribalistic’ preservation? Could not one on-looker in Aluu speak up or tell that stick wielding moron to fall back, and leave the students be, before it was too late? So amebo people in Nigeria would rather comment or offer unsolicited advise on another person’s weight, or inquire why you and your spouse have not had children 3 years after marriage (as if you the couple married to just stare at each other), or prod you about why you are still a spinster or a bachelor. But they would not intervene or call the police if they see you being lynched by an irate mob. They may however break out their mobile phones and take a picture with the grainy one mega pixel camera.

Many people have blamed the Blackberry phone (why, I would never understand) and the Brazilian/Peruvian/Mongolian/Guatemalan hair weave for the spike in materialism, narcissism and every manner of social ill in this country. I know that this joke is old, as I cracked it in my previous piece on Blackberrys (look for it on this blog if you have not read it) : The Blackberry is not to blame for Nigeria’s social problems – don’t shoot the, err, Blackberry messenger.

I believe the camera phone has changed Nigeria forever. Just as the “happy slapping” phenomena enveloped England some years back, the average Nigerian has become a camera phone – olofofo. Many would rather take a picture of an accident/incident victim than help. I wonder why we don’t have more war correspondents or people willing to infiltrate Boko Haram with a secret camera to get us breaking insider information. There are 2 sides to the kobo. Social media has helped bring the Aluu and Mubi incidents exposure and may well bring about a reaction from our siddon-look government. However, if the camera phone kpakparazzi had tried to help the victims instead, rather than play Christiana Amanpour or Picasso, the brave four may still be with us today.

How did we get to this stage in Nigeria where people have imbibed the cold-bloodedness and unrepentant independence of Western culture but still kept the barbaric, repugnant customs of yester year? Marry the willingness of unsophisticated people to implement wicked customs, to a selfishness and unwillingness to speak up for others, and that becomes the makings of a society that is failing.

I remember when I was a child, we as a family would go to our village for Xmas, and I felt safe even as a 7 year old hanging out in the village square till late in the evening. I could go stroll into any home, from the poshest village villa to the most rudimentary mud hut, and be offered a bottle of Mirinda or Green Sandy (albeit a very hot one) and some Cabin biscuits (usually soft, but not that I cared much – biscuit was biscuit). Okin was a class above though but I digress. Nigeria, with rural life at its core was much more innocent then. Kidnappings could never occur in my village. Every adult was an uncle or aunt, and material possessions were not worshipped as they are now because the community practiced a form of socialism. If you killed a goat, I was sure of one the hind legs and maybe the intestines to make miri-oku ji or ngwo ngwo. (Refer to Igbo Language for Senior Secondary School Book One for the meanings).

There was no fear that a jealous villager would jazz me so that a ritualist could make away with my big head, or that I would be kidnapped so that the criminal could demand a prince’s ransom from my old man. The only men of the night I ever saw back then were masquerades. The village was such a huge family, that I once went to an old woman’s hut to greet her (you had to go and greet most elders once you arrived in the village). She was thrilled, and offered me some refreshment: meat. I knew not to accept cooked food, but I accepted so not to be rude. Besides I had seen a fresh grasscutter slowing roasting over a coal fired grill, so I fancied a bit of that, right? Wrong. The mama reached into her oha soup pot with her fingers, pulled out a wet piece of goat meat, then she sucked off all the soup with her mouth so that the pepper would not make the beef too spicy for me, then she handed it to me.

That was the ultimate gesture of love and sacrifice as many Igbo readers can attest that villagers, especially the older ones, see meat as a precious commodity. But meat featuring saliva and drool? I left her house thankful, and moments later  I left the meat buried deep in the sand some meters away from the woman’s sight, as there was no way I would have eaten it. But that is beside the point.

As a child, I received love from all over the planet. Back then, apart from the occasional gbomo gbomo incident/story, children and youngsters were not subjected to crime. Students and youth corpers also enjoyed a protected status as government property. It was like adults could kill themselves if they wanted to – but children were left out of the mayhem.

Then the 90s rolled in, and that innocence was taken away from Nigeria down to grass-root level. People became occupied to making a quick buck, and coming back to the village to floss. As social ills like yahoo yahoo, 419, ogwu-ego, kidnapping, one chance and armed robbery increased, the government seemed too slow and cumbersome to tackle them. The law of the jungle has now taken over since the system has now become overwhelmed.

Every ill in Nigeria is now done excessively today when compared to the past. Sometime circa 1992, a chap aged 21 was caught stealing in a shop somewhere in Aba called Eziama. A thick crowd quickly surrounded the thief, and they were welding various weapons of destruction – planks, iron rod, boiling ring, fluorescent tube, koboko etc. They started raining blows on the thief and they stripped him naked.

A man was passing by the scene on his way back from work, and waded through the crowd out of curiousity to see what the din was. He soon screamed with hysteria: A nwuona m o! (Mi o gbe o!) (I am dead o!). The thief was his nephew – his brother’s son. He had to think fast.

The uncle quickly approached the leader of the mob who was wielding a huge akpu pestle, and who looked like he was about to break the thief’s head with it. The following conversation ensued in perfect Abia Igbo:

Uncle: “Biko, nne gi a nwu na (Please, may it  be well with your mother). What did this boy do?”

Chief lyncher: “O zuru ohi (he stole) (or he robbed) (or he converted another’s possessions)”

The Uncle looked at his nephew who was now quite scarred and bloodied, and sitting in a heap on the ground. True to word, next to the thief were the items he had tried to fap. Apparently, he had broken into a video/ electronics store, and nabbed a video cassette player and 3 films – Steve Seagal’s “Out for Justice”, Jungle Fever and some Nollywood movie featuring Tony Umez and Sonny McDon. Luck ran out when he was trying to make away, as someone spotted him and yelled “TIF!!”

The Uncle hissed, and shouted as he gave his nephew a thunderous slap: “E wu ezigbo onye-oshi” (You are a super -duper crook).

FOOOKPA!!!!!

The slap the Uncle gave the nephew made him writhe on the floor in pain as he clutched his face. It hurt worse than being smashed with a pestle. Even the crowd was stunned, and looked at the Uncle in surprise. Enyi ele ihe o wu biko?

The Uncle then turned to the Chief Lyncher and explained: “This anumanu (animal) is my younger brother’s son. I will make sure his father deals with him at home. The father is a principal at a seminary school. He has learnt his lesson, so allow me take him to his father for additional VIP treatment”

The Chief Lyncher seemed satisfied, and as he looked to the mob, most of them grunted their approvals . The logic was that since someone who was a close family friend and a member of the community had vouched for the thief, and he had already been humiliated enough anyway, the rogue could be released. Bail was set there and then by the street jury and the crowd dispersed. An Uncle’s slap had saved his nephew from a certain death.

In Nigeria of 2012, people are killed for committing crimes rather than being handed to security agencies. The general populace is full of mistrust for the justice system and some now opt street justice. If Nigerian justice in the judiciary is represented by a white effigy of a blind-folded lass with scales and a sword, Jungle Justice her unruly and infamous cousin would be a Kunkuru puppet figurine wielding a cutlass, a jerry can of  petrol and a mosquito net looking for who to devour. Unfortunately the young and innocent do get caught in the cross-fire.

Ever since I heard about the Aluu incident, I have not been myself as it has hurt me to the bone marrow. That incident is a shame to every single Nigerian as we have failed our sons, brothers and colleagues.

To our brethren who lost their lives in Mubi. I pray God keeps you and comforts your families. And to the brave Aluu 4, who I understand had a music artist among them, rest in peace my brothers – you are now our Nigerian Marvin Gayes.

 

We cross driven, cornered into a life that’s hellish/

Paying our dues with bloodshed, ain’t nothing you all could tell us/

Fellas – mount up, it’s time for battle, it is on now/

Two worlds, colliding armies, riding soldiers, gone wild/

Sometimes I think my glory days was back in my youth/

2pac featuring The Outlaws (As The World Turns Around, 1999)

 

 

Most of us only care about money making/

Selfishness got us following our wrong direction/

Wrong information always shown by the media/

Negative images is the main criteria/

Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria/

Kids want to act like what they see in the cinema/

Whatever happened to the values of humanity/

Whatever happened to the fairness in equality/

Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity/

Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity/

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feeling under/

That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feeling down/

There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feeling under/

Got to keep my faith alive till love is found/

 Black Eyed Peas (Where Is The Love, 2003)

STATE OF THE (DIS)-UNION

I have decided to make the Pounded Yam and Pure Water awards (the Poundos to you posh lot) a quarterly affair instead. In its stead, in my acting capacity as the self-elected president of Woah-Nigeria, and by the powers invested in me by honorable readers of blogville, I present to you my first State of the Dis-Union address. The address would analyze 3 recent happenings or current affairs in our dear nation with the usual Esco innuendos and all manners of verbal peperempe.

So how do I start? Oh I know:

Fellow Woah-Nigerians,

It is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these memoranda as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation (I have always wanted to say this sometime in my life):

 

1.       JOINT TASK FORCE (JTF)  LANDS BOKO HARAM A CRUSHING BLOW (AND PLEASE STAY DOWN):

Earlier today a combined team of the JTF acted on intelligence had killed two members of the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, who are believed to be top commanders, somewhere along Maiduguri- Kano road as they were escaping arrest from security forces.

Earlier this week, J-Force had intercepted the command center of the sect, and had made arrests and seized computers, communication devices and bomb-making apparatus.

Wow, most Nigerians do not know whether to laugh or cry at this point. While every one is taking any good news with a pinch of salt, we have to pause as we remember countless people whose lives were lost in various bombing around the country.

These terrorists are something else though. Remember the armpit who blew himself up by mistake (or maybe not) while trying to detonate a bomb somewhere. It is worrying that we have fundamentalists who won’t mind mudding for their cause, in a country like Nigeria that is usually known for selfish self-preservationists who crave the high-life and long life.

I mean this Boko Haram mallam was so overzealous that he blew himself up, and was adamant even on his death bed. Well, good riddance – at least he gets to receive his reward of a 1000 virgins in bomb-blast utopia sooner than later.

Good luck to him. Me, I dey here on planet Earth with the runs girls and aristo babes.

 

2.      KIDDIE MISSION 101

The spate of crimes against children seems to have risen astronomically. In the space of one month, there have been news reports of ritual killings concerning children. There was the brute found with a head of a young boy; and then recently another chap was intercepted by a suspicious bus conductor when he refused to relinquish his luggage to be placed in the danfo boot. His baggage contained the corpse of a child – reportedly his own child. Wow, not even an insanity plea could explain this one.

I don’t care what selfish and wicked adults do, but the Nigerian child must be protected. I remember growing up, there was a case of child cruelty in my house. My elder sister walked into the house-help’s room and caught her drinking my baby sister’s milk. The help would make the milk in the kitchen, then feed the child a few sips. Then when no-one was looking, she would unstrap the nipple of the feeding bottle and down the contents like a bottle of small Stout. She would then wet the baby’s mouth area with some milk to make it look like wee one had fed already. Thank goodness she had only been employed for all of 3 weeks, or the long term effects on my 18 month old sister would have been worse. No wonder the poor baby girl always had that confused looked on her face, while the house-help had been tripled her weight in 21 days. I think my sister is still somewhat affected to this day by the brief period of malnutrition in her early life. She is bad at maths.

By the way, what is it with some people and baby food? It is messy, lumpy and fattening. It also causes a lot of flatulence. Back in boarding school, I always feared people who brought Cerelac and Milupa as school provisions. Baby food is as nasty as plane food and those who eat it.

 

3.      LAWAN FAROUK AFFAIR – UNDER RUG SWEPT?

After all the initial brouhaha and grandstanding that greeted this bribery case when it was first discovered, it seems to have gone unusually quiet. It is the proverbial case of chop and clean mouth – except that it was captured on camera. So where is the footage?

Farouk seems to be doing his thing, while the members of the House of Rep have swallowed the grenade to hush it all up. The last time I saw this kind of “the more you look, the less you see” was when my teacher in Primary 3 caught me snacking on Nasco Wafers during a class. She reprimanded me as she twisted my ears then seized it, all three-quarters of it, and continued with the lessons.

During our break period, I approached her for my wafer.  She looked at me with surprise, as she marveled at the audacity. She was like: wafers? What wafers?

 

She had chopped the thing and discarded the wrapper. Chop and clean mouth, and the pupils in my class looked like they were ready to back up her story. I was confused – maybe I had imagined the wafers, or had eaten it all and made up a convenient imaginary story. After all I had been known to make up stories for food at parties – Aunty I have not yet eaten. Well, I got good grades for the rest of my term in that class.

Maybe this belongs in the “Kiddie Mission” category.

 

419 QUESTIONS

Esco is back after a brief hiatus. Hello everyone! While I was away, tending to the side inconvenience that is my private life, there have been a lot of speculations, accusations, counters and chat on the grapevine.

 

I have received emails, and tweets , asking about my whereabouts, egging me to write new articles. Stuff like, Esco where are you. Are you still alive? There are reports that someone fitting you description was seeing boarding an aircraft with a one way ticket out of blogsville.

 

Some of the questions I have been asked are more left-field. Stuff like: Are you stories real or fables plucked from Tales by Moonlight. How do you come up with the material? What are your plans for the future? Is this blog’s relevance tied to the Nigerian nationhood experiment? Why do you put rap lyrics after each post? Why don’t you the lyrics of Nigerian artists like Lord of Ajasa or Eddy Remedy? If this is a Nigerian blog, you should have used an agama lizard on your blog mast instead of an albino lion. Why use black soil for the background instead of Ankara (or Aso-ebi).

 

Has Esco abandoned this blog because I hear he is now the Personal Advisor/ Assistant on Blog Affairs to a State Governor, and so he is cleaning out. He has even put up a house in Lekki Phase 1 and even twitted the picture, and it trended like pictures of Cossy’s boobs. In fact Esco has reportedly abandoned this blog, in search of Rueben Abati money.

 

Some many questions. Thank you, thank you. I will give a brief statement:

 

I had some much going on privately. I had actually typed out drafts for 4 super articles on my phone. However while I was downloading the twit picture of Cossy Ojiakor’s bobby taylors when my phone crashed completely on me. The memory got wiped out along with the articles.

 

One reader had even abused me for supposedly catching the Nigeria malaise of never keeping up a good thing. True, most Nigerian businesses start misbehaving once they start raking in customers. Customer service falls and the business usually goes south. I remember a mama put place that used to be the bees’ knees. The food was awesome – their stew was a work of art. Bouncy grains of rice, chunks of goat meat in a deep fried tomato broth. The owner of the business personally cooked the dishes and served the punters. She even knew all her customers by name, and even befriended their wives and girlfriends. On some days, a few regular could ask for extra meat on credit, and pay at month end. Then the Lagos massive discovered the place. The woman started raking in serious cash, and then her true colors came out. She became cocky and abrasive. She stopped cooking the food personally and hired cooks instead, as she could not bear palm-oil stain on her lace jacquard. She would seat at a corner of the joint with a tooth-pick in her mouth, counting the takings.

 

When I now walked in and greeted her “Madam how you dey?”, she barely grunted an answer. I stopped going there, because the last time I was there, customers were fighting to wash their own plates so they could buy food. Na so?

 

As regard my abandonment of the blog, my answer is “never that.” If I ever became a Big Time Charlie, raking in that kind of dough, I would purchase the technology to make this blog world-class. I would buy cartoon drawing equipment, as I yearn for the days of Papa Ajasco and Benbella type comics. Comic and cartoon strips would better illustrate the story of Nigeria.

 

Are the stories in this blog real? I refer you to the “Caveat” section of the Blog. Please peruse and revert. I will say this – the stories are based on real life, but the names have been change to protect the innocent, but shame the guilty.

 

Why the delay between posts? Abeg no vex. As the articles on this blog are original material, my thought processes and private life determines my output. If I have a shit day or writer’s block or if the price of garri and fuel goes up, there goes any postings. Maybe I should start doing fashion, music and entertainment like all others. Ha ha.

 

Going forward, I require the services of blog consultants as I need advice on how I can turn this blog into a financing business. 419ers and scammers please stay away, or I will wake up at midnight to pray against you. Please any do-gooders or people with knowledge about blog marketing should hit me up via email or twitter. All suggestions are welcome. Yahoo yahoo folks please stay away.

 

The next questions are the ones I want to ask you, so I can get to know you better. I have a few regular readers/ commenters. Please take a sec to answer a few of the below questions.

 

  1. How did you find out about this blog? Referral, internet search or just cyber busy-body? Please expatiate.
  2. How often do you check for new material.
  3. What do you like about Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life. What pisses you off about the blog (apart from the apparent laziness of Esco)
  4. Where are you based? Please name country, city, state, hamlet etc. etc. (this is for marketing/ affirmative action purposes. Don’t worry, I wont divulge your location to EFCC or anything)
  5. What is your favourite post/article so far. Why?
  6. If you were president of Nigeria for a day, what would you do?

 

 

ASO-EBI – GROUP THERAPY OR GROOVE THEORY?

Aso-ebis (or uniform as they are known) – I do not do them very well. I also think most chaps share this sentiment. Girls do not.

I don’t mean to come across an asshole, but I have never liked rocking the same outfit or designs as the next man. And definitely not the same one as the next chick. I think somewhere, somehow, this stems from my fears and nightmares of what I had seen over-enthusiastic mothers do to their kids, especially twins when I was growing up a young’in in the 80s. I mean this was an era where parents dressed their children from the okpara/ada (first son or daughter) to the last born child in the same outfit. Male and female child alike were dressed in the same color and pattern of clothes except for shoes. Family unit was preserved by making sure everyone was cut from the same cloth. Sibling rivalry was eliminated, and laundry costs were cut. The Von Trapp family would have screamed if they had met the Adio family.

Twins were worse off in that inglorious era for fashion. What was good for Taiwo was good for Kehinde. What was good for the goose was good for the pepeye. If Claurus was being dressed up in a red colored aso-oke, Gringory had to rock that too. Or Chinedu and Chidinma. Or Peter and Paul. Or Tia and Tamera. Or Lawan and Ibori.  No wonder I could never tell them apart.

Now, I hope I am not coming across as the type of fella who over self-obsesses about what he wants to wear. Nah, I am more metro-textual than metro-sexual. You can find Esco sporting a 3 day stubble of beard on his chin, slightly faded Levis and a distressed Tee. Pretty boy, I am not.

On the flip side, I am the sort of bloke who goes to a clothes store, sees something I like, is about to pay for it, but changes his mind once he sees another person on the queue with the same item. It is worse if it is one of the same item on the clothes rack. I may only then pick the outfit if it is plain colored and so hard to distinguish or if it is a staple like say a navy blue Blazer. Or a Converse Chuck Taylor sneaker.

Though I like to keep my wardrobe trendy enough, I tend to stay away from wearing what everyone is getting at a particular time. It is the brand-wagon culture that I tend to shy away from. For example, when it was the thing for chaps to wear Timbs, I broke out a pair of Doctor Marten boots instead. And when every Femi, Mohammed and Ikenna in Nigeria were sporting Polo Ralph Lauren shirts with the huge eshin (horse/pony/donkey/ass), I rocked the ngwere (lizard) {Lacoste} instead. If dudes are wearing boat shoes, I opt for drivers instead.

And it was the same in primary school. I took my pair of Cortinas to the neighborhood aboki shoe-maker to apply a bit of chocolate brown polish to them, to make them more distinguishable from the drab light brown every pupil was sporting in my class. He must have been either color-blind or maybe just misunderstood the color I was trying to go with, so I ended up with toney-red shoes instead. Wow, I looked like Sonic the Hedgehog especially after I wore my white socks with the shoes. It was worse when I got to school and had to come out for general assembly. I should have clicked my heels 3 times and wished myself home. That eliminated my chances with Toju the class beauty. I need not have bothered: even a shoe-less person can become a president.

In secondary school, I developed a unique way of knotting my school tie, as there was no other way to distinguish our uniform of white on white. I know some people who sported cream white on egg-shell white but that was not by choice – they were dirty.

Back to the topic at hand, there is nothing wrong with aso-ebi – it used to be the preserve of Yoruba folk who rightly used it to show solidarity towards kin celebrating an event. Uniform had its purposes and advantages:

  1. It encouraged kinship and camaraderie amongst the family and well-wishers of the celebrants. We dress alike, so we must be alike.
  2. It later became an effective tool for fundraising. Attendees were expected to chip in to purchase the material at a price even higher than the cost price of the material. People did this to show their support to the inviters even though they did not plan to attend. The celebrant/organizers pocketed a tidy profit. The buyer did not attend and was saved from wearing uniform. It was a win-win for everyone.
  3. Aso-ebi also ensured that all the guests had a similar dressing theme which makes for better photographs of the event as a coordinated color theme is camera-friendly. It also ensured that some less well-off guests stuck to the chosen color and pattern of the event, and did not embarrass themselves by turning up in their own inferior akwarakwa  or okirika clothes. Sad but true, no dulling.

With Nigeria being a multi-ethnic society, it did not take long before the culture of wearing aso-ebi spread to other cultures. Then womenfolk from all races in Nigeria “high-jacked” it until even Igbos were doing it. And when women start doing something, they usually make men do it and menfolk have to comply. Or it is the couch. NEPA and mosquitoes are bad enough.

Now it has encroached into Esco territory. Let me tell you a brief story:

Some few years back, I used to work for a law firm on the Island. One of the firm partner’s mother passed away. The firm olofofo (ass kisser) got together with some other senior figures in the firm, and they decided that everyone in the office (except the partners of course) should wear “uniform” to the burial ceremony as an act of solidarity. Excuse me, but solidarity to me is holding up a placard and shouting “Make public the results of the Fuel Subsidy Report” in front of the National Assembly.

The olofofo was commissioned to choose and buy the material design and buy a bulk quantity, and everyone in the firm was “encouraged” pay for a couple of yards from her, make into a traditional outfit and wear to the ceremony. Choosing whether to buy or not was as voluntary as NYSC.

Not being the biggest fan of “uniform”, I was debating whether or not to stick or twist when I saw the material itself. My mind was made up. This material was a hot mess of rainbow colors, some of which looked like a toddler had been playing with stack of Crayola on a bouncy rubber trampoline. The material was Ankara but with loads of color riot. It had the same colors as the bip of a traditional female Fulani outfit, combined with the colors of a LASTMA officer’s uniform and then some. The girl who chose this must have been suffering from river blindness.

The colors on the material were more female friendly as red and orange were predominant colors along with some other “fruity” shades. The material looked good for an Ankara clutch purse for females, but for Esco to rock as a danshiki? The colors slapped the eyes like Olisa Adibua.

I mean, I felt sorry for my boss’s loss even though I did not know his mum from Adam when she was alive. Surely, the money used to purchase the material could have been utilized as a monetary gift for the bereaved. Not that they needed it, as they were mad minted. But that was not the point.

I dropped coins for the material and put it in my car boot. My plan was to give it to my mother to use as “wrapper” for sleeping or for hanging in the house. I was going to wear a nice lace traditional outfit instead. However when I handed my mum the material and explained everything to her, she laughed off my concern and then told me that if I planned to go for event and if my co-workers were all wearing it, I would have to do the same. She even took the material and my measurements and said she was going to take it to her tailor to sew it into an outfit for me, so I had no more excuses.

She also explained how aso-ebis worked, saying that in some owambe parties, the ushers may not seat or serve you if you did not come in uniform. It is a bit like hyena clans. If you come smelling different from the rest of the pack, you were ostracized and eaten alive. Clifford Orji.

A few days later, my mum handed me my outfit. The tailor had done a ‘marvelous’ job of making the outfit as “janded” as possible. It had some correct gold plated buttons, sleek jeans-like pockets and the pants even came in a boot-leg cut. Sura the tailor would have turned in his grave. Whatever next? Slim cut and fitted agbada robes? Or isi-agu tunics with Versace Medusa buttons and the lion “Express” logo?

I got to the venue, which was somewhere in old Ikoyi. The place was packed to the rafters. Mercs, Rolls Royces and smart SUVs were competing for parking space on the car park. All the tabloid huggers, big politicians and society people in Lagos were all present. Lots of old money and money-miss-road met Nollywood and Bella Naija’s finest. I parked my car and stepped into the place with swagger like I had a pebble in my shoe.

To say I stuck out like a sore thumb was an understatement. Most guests were dressed in white or shades of cream jacquards or laces traditionals. There were some people in suits too as it was on a Friday night. I looked across and there was a table with my co-workers. Their orange/red Ankara collective really stood out from the rest of the venue. From outer-space I am sure they looked like a huge palm oil stain on a pure white Egyptian silk jumper. But uniform is still uniform, right? Wrong o! I got closer. Everyone in my work group, to their credit, had done something unique with their ‘uniform”. The girls were the champions in this. One has made a pencil skirt and a smart top with hers. One had made hers into a jump suit with a plunging neckline which showed her 36DDs. Maybe it was the flutes of champagne playing tricks on my brain, but later I could have sworn that her bra was also made from the Ankara material too. Shhhh….Victoria’s secret.

Moments later, one of my co-workers showed up on African time. He.was.not.wearing.the.uniform. He had worn white lace instead and looked pleased with himself. And sod the Ankara material, he had gotten it sewn into a Banky W style Kangol hat which he rocked by placing it on the side of his head in true hip-hop style.

Some of my co-workers looked at him like a leper. A senior associate scowled angrily.

And I don’t wear jerseys I’m thirty plus/
Give me a crisp pair of jeans nigga button ups/
S dots on my feet/
Makes my cycle complete/

Jay Z, What More Can I Say (2003)

 

Eulogi

Image

June 3 2012, now known as Black Sunday is a day that will forever live in infamy.  An airplane fell out of the sky and crashed into homesteads in a busy Lagos suburb killing all the travelers as well as people on ground; on the other side of the border, another aircraft crashed in Ghana; and the Boko Haram blew another church into the sky in Yelwa, Bauchi, murdering 12 members of the congregation.

Murder and mayhem at every turn, Nigeria is fast turning into a country of blood, sweat and tears. The Dana air crash in particular was very painful, and for days I felt a deep sense of loss.  With anguish I tried to imagine the hysteria and panic on the aircraft just before it hit ground zero. No one deserves to go in that manner. I was once on a plane to Houston, Texas and just as we approached George Bush Inter-continental, the plane landing gear refused to activate. I noticed that the pilot kept circling the huge BOEING 747 around and around, and I could sense that something was wrong. I swallowed, and I started sweating. Even the passengers next to me started looking anxious. There was an oyibo lady with her 4 year old son sitting in the middle aisle. She looked at me like “What is going on?”

I nor answer her o. Dey there, dey blow grammar. I was thinking, please God, let this plane just land jeje. I don’t want to die in Texas. Besides who would fry puff puff at my wake?  The plane circled 3 more times, and then we heard a loud cranking noise “FOOOKPA!!!”

Then the pilot’s weary voice came through as an announcement was made on the prompter. “Captain Relieved” joyfully announced “We had been unable to deploy the aircraft’s landing apparatus, and had radioed the airport authorities to get emergency landing procedures in place. However, it has now been successfully deployed, and we are getting ready to land. We are presently at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Thank you for flying with……the weather in Houston is slightly humid with an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit….”

Men, I didn’t not listen to rest of the announcement as I breathed a huge sigh of relief. The next 15 minutes were the longest ones in my life. I would not rest until the plane’s Dunlop Elite tires touched terra firma successfully. Immediately the plane hit the ground, and started taxiing on the runway, I turned around to answer the oyibo who had asked me that question like less than 30 minutes ago: “The plane’s tires had refused to come out, but the pilot repaired it.”  Like say no be God o, like say no be God o; my life done kpeme…

The lady smiled, and started talking to me about how her trip had gone, about how she had been to Africa before…..I looked out of the airplane window, and saw that there had been about 6 fire-trucks on standby on the tarmac, just in case. There were also police squad cars and emergency services too. We had to wait in the plane for an extra 15 minutes before we could disembark, as the airline needed clearance. And I sat there smiling, like here is a country that is organized to a tee. Emergency services are deployed to the scene to avert as well as deal with mishaps. They want to give accident victims every chance to survive. Your aircraft may crash, but you will not burn. Not like Naija, where it is always medicine after death. No sir, why form expensive government investigative committees after bomb attacks and mishaps. What about trying to nip the problem in the bud?

 

When the manifest and pictures of the passengers were released in the days following the Dana crash, it really hit close to home. These were decent ordinary beautiful people like you and me. It is clear that Nigeria has lost a generation of talented people, some of whom have had their lives cut short because anything goes in this country. Heck, maybe I should start my own airline. I would get a Molue bus, fit it with wings and a rudder, and call it Air-Esco. If people protest too much, I would claim that it is an Air Bus model, as I prefer them to Boeing.

Among the names on the manifest, was a friend of mine who I had briefly gone to A-level school with ages ago. Here was a stand-up dude in the prime of his life. His parents had invested a fortune in his upbringing and education, only for him to get wiped out like that. It is so hard to take. This dude was a financial analyst with a UK degree, who had returned to Nigeria to practice his profession. I remember us exchanging rap tapes and CDs at A-level school. I also ran into him at a society wedding at TBS, Lagos some years ago. He had just returned to the country and was full of zest for the future.

Sometimes, one gets the impression that in Nigeria, we are paying the price for being too many. Yes, 200 million of us. Every day on the news, it is one mishap or bombing or incident or accident or the other. We are getting dis-sensitized to violence. Think of the worst incident that happened last year, and see if you can remember it. What did the government do after it occurred? Did roads get fixed after the accident. Were our cops better paid or equipped. Did that senator go to jail?

And the people on the ground do not fare better. You could be lounging at home on a Sunday watching the Nollywood movies “Died wretched and buried in 10 million naira casket” or “Last flight to Abuja”, only to have a Jumbo jet belly flop on your living room.

Oh 400 people died in that Bokom Haram banzai attack 3 months ago?  Sad, but we have 199,999,999,600 people left, so it is all good.

Our government seems lax and merely reactive. Corruption and greed have crept into every facet of our national life. Nigeria is now officially one of the most dangerous and treacherous places in the world to live. It is like there are 6 million ways to die, choose one. An average Nigerian is prone to many life-ending dangers on a given day. And by “I”, I mean the average Nigerian.

I could die because a trigger happy olopa wants a 20 naira bribe for ground-nut

Die because the airline company put a rickety aircraft in the sky

Die because I mistook a NEPA cable on the floor for a skipping rope

Die because a bad bele person in my village shook my hand with jazz.

Die because my BRT bus scuba-dived into the lagoon under 3rd Mainland bridge while trying to overtake a sport’s car like at the GET Arena

Die because I bought and ate expired Gala in Lekki traffic.

Die because my houseboy bought Boko Haram beans in the market

Die because my car was blocking a Senator’s convoy

Die because LASTMA used a chuku-chuku rod to intercept my car at full speed

Die for daring to contest political office so that I can effect change and reform

Die for being at the wrong place at the wrong time (being Igbo in the North usually works)

Die because the carbon and smoke fumes from my generator asphyxiated me in my sleep.

Die because my mai-guard security guard was instructed to blow me up by Boko Haram

Die because I was robbed and attacked just after I had used a bank Bureau De Change

Die because my house got submerged in a flood after a heavy storm. Sea shells, sea shells..

Die because I fell into a broken soak away pit

Die because I was ill and no hospital would admit me until I made a N50,000 security deposit.

Die because my neighbor’s kerosene stove exploded and caused a fire

Die because the bus I was travelling in was carrying jerry-cans of petrol which exploded

Die because Egbesu Boys, OPC and MASSOB clashed in my area.

Finally I want to commensurate with families and friends of those we lost on Black Sunday. May those who passed away rest in peace. I also want to dedicate this poem to my friend who was on the plane which crashed. It is an excerpt from Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”, and it was the same poem Robert Kennedy had dedicated to JFK at his wake:

 When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he shall make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.'”

 

 

Whitney O!

Truth be told, I didn’t watch the live screening of Whitney Houston’s burial on CNN this past weekend. I did later catch up on some clips the next day. And of all the tributes by various celebrities and family friends, Kevin Costner’s really touched me the most. This is really strange seeing that his flop movie Waterworld really hurt my feelings when I borrowed it from the video club back in the day. He redeemed himself a bit in the flick 3000 Miles to Graceland; but let it be known – MJ is the king.

But jokes aside, I had done my own private mourning on week of her passing. I was grouchy at work, and kept on replaying “The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack” on my work PC. Even my manager knew to leave me be. At least I wasn’t Facebooking on company time.

To make matters worse, the day after the sad news of her passing broke, I got to work and stumbled into an argument between some of my co-workers. A few of these new school juveniles were comparing Beyonce to Whitney. I laughed in Mbaise Igbo ( trust me it sounds like a Coke counter scrapping the floor). No disrespect to Mama Blue Ivy, but that is like comparing Uncle Ben’s rice to Abakiliki rice (with stones inside). And besides Whitney is the better actress. Haha.

Why was Whitney special? I am not going to bore y’all by spewing what you have probably heard this past weeks about what a talent she was. Okay, sorry, I will actually have to bore you. Whitney could ‘sang’. And I have not gotten my tenses wrong; she could ‘sang’, the way Ron Isley, Mary J Blige and Jill Scott can ‘sang.” I don’t know if any Nigerian artist can ‘sang”; I know a few that can ‘sung’, but I no go name names o. Today is about Whitney.

You see the problem with some of these new singers is that a few hide behind some smokescreen so that you don’t see their talent for what it is. There is choreography, designer clothes, bling bling, auto-tune, top-notch production which masks those with voices that can break glass. How could I forget the new trend of wearing sunglasses. Every artist these days sports a pair in the videos, and when they croon love songs about how a dame has made them kolo, it is hard to believe them. Their body movements and dance routines say one thing, but their eyes tell a lie. No “R &B” or soul artiste should ever wear shades unless they are Aaron Stone, Ray Charles or R-Kelly from back in the day. D’Banj is also excused, but he nor fit sing sef anyway.

Whitney sounded sincere and original. A song like “I will always love you” had the range to appeal to the most heart-broken spinster, as well as the most hardened thug or armed robber. Even my grandmother loved that jam back in the day when she heard it on MTV during the time she came to do omu-ugwo for my baby sis. An I will or-wares ruv yoo…….

Some of these new singing cats just bellow out tunes like they are more concerned about how they come across. Open ya eye make we see whether na apollo dey do you. Abi you know say you dey deceive yourself and shame don catch you.

Is it not amazing when you notice that Whitney never broke into dance. Her voice alone could captivate you. She didn’t need any fancy video by Clarence Peters or Hype Williams to get spins. And when she displayed her magnificent vocal range, she didn’t show us her 32 molars, pre-molars and incissors. Her mouth was barely open, like I nor fit shout sef. An I will or-wares ruv yoo…….

Hers was a pure beauty and elegance. She looked every inch a super-star. She was the kind of entertainer you could take home to mama (not mommma). And actually not have mama scream in disgust and irritation like “This geh done waka well well. Make you find innocent geh marry.” Whitney’s pure unbridled talent took her to fame and fortune – she didn’t need to appear half-naked on the red carpet (Aladdin syndrome) or flash her punani when alighting from a car. Heck, she did not need Brazilian weave, or Twirra (twitter).

Have you seen some Nigerian singers try to hold a note?  A music note, not a bank note. Compare that to the video of “Shoop” where Whitney was doing her mouth like she was chewing hot eba.

What makes Whitney so memorable? I listened to Whitney during the period a girl did turn turn turner with my emotions for the first time in my life. A girl with the code name C.A.N shattered my heart into tiny little pieces. She ripped my heart out of my chest like Goro (Mortal Kombat) and laughed into the sunset. She pulled my heart out of my chest like Apocalypto. I drank many bottles of Calypso, but it was Whitney not alcohol that got me through it. I can recall listening to “Why does it hurt so bad” from the “Waiting To Exhale Soundtrack” while eating yampo in my room in pitch darkness. No, craze had not caught me – NEPA had taken light, and I need to lem.

Whitney’s music inspired. I once listed the lyrics of “I believe in you and me” and put them on a card, and ‘supplied’ it to one chick like that. It worked more than buying her a BB Porsche or a weave. Not that I will ever try that nonsense anyway.

Listen to a jam like “Run To You” off The Bodygaurd Album and see if it would not make you feel like crossing 1000 Obudu Cattle Range mountains and 1 million River Nigers to find love.

That was not the only time Whitney came through for me. I recall also jamming “Until You Come Back” off the “My Love is Your Love” album with a girl I was dating because she loved that tune. When we broke up, I used to think about her a bit whenever I heard that song, and half-wish she would walk through the door. Or the gate. I even instructed our aboki to look out for her incase she came, so she wouldn’t miss me at home. I kept asking the mallam if someone had rung the bell. Well she never did walk through my door again, but Whitney had another correct song to console me with – “It’s Not Right, But Its Okay”. Or as I preferred to call it “Its all good”

And don’t you lot go thinking that Esco is mushy. Men need love too. Sensitive thugs, you all need love. Silent morning, they say a man is not supposed to cry. I hated that jam.

Truth be told, anytime I was having women problems, I kept that shit to myself, and I found music therapeutic. I have the sort of friends who if you tried to tell them about your emotional drama or relationship woes, would laugh in your face. Like you can’t be serious; abeg leave that thing. As my friend Kola once said it, the solution to woman problems is more women.

Personally, why I will miss Whitney Houston so much is that her music was there during many parts of my formative years. I was an 80s baby, but it was the 90s I came into my own, and that was when she was at the peak of her powers.

Whitney_Houston

Everybody has a song that punctuates or is the soundtrack to different times in their lives.

My driver had huge Beyoncé posters on his wall in his room.  He liked Bey so much that he even bought the Nollywood movie “Beyonce and Rihanna” and was disappointed and almost inconsolable when he didn’t see Mama Blue Carter in the movie. Dude, didn’t you see the poster?

One day, I mustered up the courage and time to ask him why he fancied Jay Z’s wife so much/

He said it was because of one of the songs when she had recorded when she was still in Destiny’s Child.

I closed my eyes, as I inquired. Which song, pray tell?

“I go survive o, I go survive o” he sang in answer, smiling. Proud of himself, he continued “Na that song help me when I step on poisonous nail for my village, and my oga come reduce my salary.”

I racked my brain. Was he confusing Destiny’s Child with The Mandators or Tosin Jegede that 80s child star?

Eureka! You wrecker, “Oh you mean, I am a survivor”.

I was just blowing English jare. He had put his own twist on a song that motivated him and made it his own.

So he didn’t like Bey cos of her bootylicious curves or her thunder thighs then? Interesting.

As I end this, my heart goes out to Bobbi Kristina, Whitney’s daughter. May Whitney also rest in peace. This is a woah-Nigerian blog, but she was an honorary Nigerian because we blasted her music, and helped contribute to the millions of records she sold (Alaba or not).

Rest in peace to a great songstress and a unique talent – the late Whitney Houston. 

I leave you with this great tune from The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack. It is called “You Were Loved.”

As you enjoy, please share your life and music memories with me. Make sure you post a comment if you read this, or I will stop writing posts.  Just joking. But I am serious though. Lol.

 

Shant’gree Birds

It is the thought that counts - action is overrated anyway

 

We are in the season of love. Valentine’s Day is upon us, and its yet again that time of the year when we celebrate the loves in our lives, the sugars in our teas, the fish in our stew, the ones who take our breaths away. It is that time of the year when we celebrate the special sombori.

But Esco is not in the mood for any jagbajantis celebration of love. I prefer to go the other route and talk about those nonsense somboris who make us gnash our teeth, or cringe at their behavior. I want to talk about dangerous women in a man’s life who have caused him pain, grief and almost a certain death. All men have had that sort of woman at least once in their lifetime. I am here to talk about poisonous girls, or ‘angry birds’ as they are known. Seeing that majority of my readers are female, this post would not be popular. Heck, I may only get one or two comments.

I will be handing out this categories of girls, hibiscus flowers that I plucked from my neighbors bushy backyard. Here goes:

  • Girls who show you only one side of them, and then flip one day totally throwing you off balance. I once dated a chick who was the epitome of style and grace – to me. All my friends couldn’t stand her. Their nickname for her was ‘madame’ and that was because they said she had a nasty streak in her. Thing was, I couldn’t see it. She took proper care of me. If my car had a problem, she would come get me.  She would drop me off at night and watch me walk across my landlord’s perfectly cut lawn into my BQ, before she sped off. She typed my school project – all 5,000 words of it on her dad’s dusty Fujitsu PC. When she learned that I loved pancakes, she brought me some every morning for a month! Esco was getting fat.

 

She soon took over every aspect of my life. Esco was getting sprung. Soon, I was giving her my money to hold, and she was giving me pocket money. She was First Bank/ first lady/fair lady. And I was fair game.

 

But I noticed that other girls were scared shit-less of Madame. When I first started going steady with her, a friend of mine cried begging me not to. I couldn’t understand it. I noticed that my circle of female friends trickled until I was stuck with Madam only. I later found out that most girls were terrified of Madam and her circle of intimidating friends who were a powerful clique in the girl’s hostel. They threatened, and even once beat up another girl who was flirting with one of their fellas. This clique called themselves “The Powerpuff Girls.”

 

But Madam was very meek and submissive around me. If we had an argument, she would back down, and never raise her voice. Then she would massage my male ego my tenderly urging me: Babe please come to bed.

Soon Madam had Esco wrapped around her finger. Or so she thought.

 

Then one day, after we had graduated from school, she came to my place to visit me. We chilled in the crib for a bit, then it was evening time. I decided to see her off to get a cab. We strolled to a major street to hail a cab, and stood there trying to look for an empty taxi passing.

 

Then a cab was passing but it had a man and a woman inside it. Madam then muttered something under her breath, as the cab passed us. The cab had gone down the road, then stopped and now did a U-turn and started coming towards us.

 

It stopped a few meters from us, and the woman inside jumped out, just as the man she was with was trying to restrain her.

 

The woman bellowed at Madam in alatika English: “Young girl, repeat that statement you just made now. What was the statement you just said, when we were passing.”

 

I was perplexed. I looked at Madame, then looked at Alatika, and then looked at Alatika’s bobo who looked like he too was spoiling for a fight.

 

I was going to try and shield Madame, but she shoved me aside and confronted the woman head-on, eyes-bulging like Segun Arinze: “What did you hear me say? Is your ear blocked.”

 

In fact Madame was so angry that she had a vein popping on her forehead. You know that vein that sticks out on your forehead when you are sucking a dry orange hard?

 

Chukwu a julu! Was this my normally calm girlfriend. The two lasses started a hot exchange there, almost coming to blows. I was trying to calm my chick the fuck down, but she wouldn’t listen. She was really cruising for a bruising.. It was becoming like that scene from Jenifa Part 1 where the Gbo-Gbo Bigz Girl crew took on the Runs Girls crew.  People started gathering, including some people from me yard and street, along with okada riders, abokis, maigaurds, neighborhood hangers-on. The whole parole was beginning to smell one kind like badussy (butt+ ——y)

 

In the heated exchange, the truth came out. Apparently Madame had called the woman an “ashewo” when the cab was passing.  For.no.apparent.reason.You know females are blessed with 50/50 vision and ‘blue-tooth’ ears. The woman had read Madame’s lips (don’t ask me how), as she muttered the words under her breath, and the woman had ‘commanded’ the cab driver to do an ‘automatic 360’.

 

Now there was more trouble – the woman’s oga was also now spoiling for a fight. With moi.

 

I was non-committal, like bros, if they sent you, tell them that you didn’t see me. Besides I only fight people whom I can see the top of their head. I cant see yours, so I wont (cant) fight you.

 

Some of the hangers-on there, managed to diffuse the situation. But me and Madame were never the same again. I had seen the other side of her, she had desperately tried to hide from me, and she probably felt exposed. By the next month, we had decided to cool things off.

 

Madame, here is your hibiscus flower.

 

  • Girls who refuse to be friends with you because you cannot date them. Mami, some girls eyes de chook now o. This used to be a male problem before. Guys only befriended girls to see if they could sleep with them. In fact I was like that once. I only kept a girl as a platonic friend, only if I wasn’t attracted to her at all. She had to be terribly ugly before I could relax and be chill with her. But I have matured over the years. I realize that not all relationships with members of the fairer sex need be sexual. There are other forms of relations to be had, except the physical, and now I have tons of hot friends, that I have remained cool with on a pure level. They are not that many, but I will get there.

However now, I find that it is girls who have that nasty streak of ‘all or nothing.” I know some girls want to marry or get a steady date quick, but this Oliver Twist behavior has to stop. I once had a female reader contact me directly, and we chatted a bit over a few days. Then she started asking for my photographs and contact details. I warned her if you see Esco, you nor go like am o. I wor wor o.

She begged me to send her a bb picture of myself. I write a blog, so my penmanship represents me. I sent a bb picture of my finger, and she got upset. Soon she got the inclination that I was wanted us to be friends, she cut me off immediately. I felt used. It is not fair o. Here is your hibiscus flower.

  • Lasses who have unrealistic expectations of men.

 

Sometimes, girls, and boys, but since I am talking about girls, then some girls need to ask themselves if they are emotionally mature to date or marry. No I am not asking if they have now sprouted boobs and lumps to be fondled, or if hair has now cascaded their armpits. Marriage is 80% about trust, friendship and perseverance, 15% about romance and 5% about sex. Money and in-law problems have a huge share somewhere there.

 

Please ladies, chill with your expectations from your significant other this Valentine season. Don’t be mad because you expected a box-card ( I have never understood why they fell trees for this waste of a thing), and your fella gave you miniature card. It is the thought that counts. I personally prefer sending E-cards. They are environmentally friendly, inexpensive, and then most of all I get to choose the wordings. And I am a skilled poet, so I can compose an ode to serenade my love interest.

 

So what if you wanted White Diamonds by Liz Taylor, and he gave you Malizia Uomo instead?

 

 I would now have to love you and leave you with an exchange between Richard Pryor’s character “Sugar Ray”  and his girlfriend played by Berlinda Tolbert  in the 1989 Eddie Murphy-produced movie “Harlem Nights.” See what happens when compromise reigns supreme:

 

Girlfriend:  Are we going to talk about your son all night? Or are you going to make love to me?

 

Richard Pryor: Why don’t we make love……and talk about my son in the morning?

 

 

 

Girlfriend:  Well…What if we made love all night……and then made love all morning? And all afternoon?

 

 

Richard Pryor:  What if we made love real hard for 10 minutes and drop off into a deep coma-like sleep? Meet me halfway.

 

 

Girlfriend: l’ll give it a shot.

 

 

Scene fades….

 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

Go Esco!

Hey everyone, my birthday is in a few days’ time, and here I am up at night thinking about my life story and pondering on my journey so far.

Having a birthday in January as a  kid was always a tough affair; most people are too broke after splurging their life savings on flenjoring during Christmas, and to them, your birthday couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time financially. So there went your hopes for any presents or “raising’.

And when I was old enough to start dating, some girlfriends would be trying to channel the money they had into buying me a Valentine’s Day gift instead as it was just around the corner, being 2 weeks away, and so my birthday was just a stop gap measure. It’s not fair o.

Truth be told, I have said it many times here, that I never really enjoy the concept of birthdays. To me the glass, sorry the hourglass, is always half empty (no pun intended). I tend to self-assess and I am my worst critic. I am not also a huge fan of the whole birthday song singing thing, and having to unwrap my gift in front of the gift-bearer. One reason is that I don’t ever think I show gratitude enough. I get really thankful for receiving a gift, but I am not sure if the way I have shown it conveys the message enough. For some reason, my heart may want to say “Oh, thank you. This is really wonderful” but my stupid mouth may end up saying “You shouldn’t have; you really shouldn’t have. Mscheeww

Anyway here I was, up in the middle of the night like winch, staring at my ceiling and watching the ceiling fan swing slower and slower. Then suddenly I had an epiphany – what would I want for my birthday? What birthday present would give Esco a sick smile?

For one, I want a present and not a gift. Confused? There is a difference between present and gift, however subtle. Just like crocodile and alligator, or toad and frog, or groundnut and gra-nut. A present is something you give somebody gratuitously without any ulterior motives, and is usually given on their life anniversary or a really special occasion, for example birthday present. A gift is something you give because you want something in return, or if there is a catch to lure, bait or winch someone eventually. For example, the Trojan Horse was a Greek gift. You give the bride and groom a wedding gift, because you expect to eat all their jollof rice and drink their Chivita juice at the reception. No Item Number 7, no wedding gift. Esco dey school una sha.

So I want a present. And I will take cash or cheques too. Inbox me a “birthday greeting” at woahnigeria@yahoo.com or Twitter (Twirra) @EscoWoah. In reply, I will send you my Zenith and Bank of America accounts. Those living in the UK are not left out either o. I have 2 choices for you – NatWest or Nationwide.

My birthday list (other than naira or pounds or dollar, of course) is:

  • I want out government to be more accountable and more visible to the common man. I want to be able to stroll by Aso Rock, point fingers and take pictures with my camera with flowers and pigeons in the background, like the way tourists and punters do in front of Buckingham Palace and the White House
  • I want to have a legacy. I want something really epic named after me so that my name can live on through the centuries. I wouldn’t also mind something huge or eternal named after my village in Imo State, just like Pontiac the automobile manufacturer is named after the town of Pontiac where the original designer is from. Weatherford the oil and gas corporation is named after Weatherford a place where oil was discovered. Or maybe like okada motorcycle transport and the town of Okada in Edo State.
  •  I want a Sony Vita. It is a handheld gaming device with a touch pad behind, 2 joysticks, an internet browser, WIFI, a back and front facing camera and it is coming out in February. I have always liked Sony products, and almost every electronic device I own in Sony (*hint at Sony for free gifts*). Even when I could not afford Sony back in the day, I would go to Alaba market, and buy Sunny instead.
  • I want shoes by Fratelli Rossetti. There is nothing like premium Italian leather, and not some of this synthetic crap sold as leather nowadays. Fratelli shoes speak class but they cost a pretty penny. There is a saying that you can tell a man’s class by his shoes. And I hear that some girls look at a guy’s shoes, when they first meet him because there is a belief that a guy treats women the way he takes care of his shoes. What if he is wearing sandals?

I also want a Hugo Boss 2 button suit with dark lapels. There is nothing like a good suit with a fine cut to present your features as chiseled.  In Nigeria, girls have Body Magic girdles; boys have to make do with a good suit. Suck belle, make shirt fine.

 

Add Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses to my Hugo Boss Suit and Fratelli slip ons, and I am “ThisDay Style” ready. Now let me just find my phone, so I can text everyone in Lagos to say that I appeared in ThisDay Style. I have finally arrived as a Lagos Big Boy.

 

  • I want Nigeria to remain one. With so much going on in the country recently, the signs are not very good. People want Nigeria to split up but we have not really looked at the ramifications of us breaking into smaller entities. We are like Voltron together, but when we split up into 5 lions, we may have bigger robeasts to contend with.

Imagine this scenario- Nigeria breaks up into smaller nations: Oduduwa Republic (Yoruba), the Democratic Republic of Biafra (Igbo), United Arewa Emirates (Hausa Fulani), United Soviet Niger Delta States (Urhobo, Itshekiri, Kalabari etc.) and the Confederate States of the Middle Belt (Tiv, Idoma etc.)

What are the consequences? For one, smaller nations usually have compulsory national military service or conscriptions to be able to defend their territory, or else they may get chanced by bigger countries. Under this national military service, every adult between 16 and 35 may have to serve in the military and undergo military training in boot camps around the country. Yes that includes you BellaNaija browsing, Brazilian hair fixing, Blackberry Bold stroking fashionistas. Even those ones wey dey fear to do ordinary NYSC orientation, and pay bribes to the commandants and NYSC higher-ups to be able to dodge camp. There would be no escape. Scared yet? Ok o.

 

If we split, what would become of my degree? I schooled all my life in Lagos and Western Nigeria. Would my degree now be foreign and unacceptable for employment in my new country of Biafra? Would career counselors or HR administrators sneer and say “Enyi, so you got your education in Oduduwa Republic. You need to get another degree from University of Biafra, or no one would employ you.”

 

I was born in Lagos – and so I am an Oduduwa citizen by birth. Will my new compatriots accuse me of being a closet ofe mmanu, indoctrinated in mgati-ism? I prefer amala to akpu anyday, by the way. No, I am not a traitor. And yeah, owambe parties rock. There I said it, so shoot me.

 

If we split, what would happen to investments in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt by different ethnicities? Will they be nationalized or appropriated? Fuck that big English – so I won’t be able to enjoy efo riro, kilishi and edika-ikong anymore? Tiwa Savage would now be far away from me, as she would be a foreign national, and so that will dash my dreams of dating her. Anyway sha, I would ‘manage’ Genevieve and Munachi.

 

Our national teams nko? Okay, Mikel Obi, Kalu Uche, Kanu and Ike Uche are decent footballers, but what about Osaze, Yakubu and Sani Kaita nko? Granted, we will whoop you all at soccer tournaments sha. Our team would be too mad.

But there are other logistic problems if we were to split, and I am worried about Biafra. Who would be our president. I would have rooted for Ekwueme if he was younger, as he looks distinguished and has oratory skills like Obama, but something tells me that we may end up with Pius Anyim instead. And where would the capital be; Owerri could be the Las Vegas of Biafra, but what about the capital? Abakiliki, Enugu, Nkalagu, my home-town (Umu-Esco)?

 

One last question though, what would be our Independence Year? 1967 or 2012? Or 2000 and never? Ok, just asking.

  • Finally, rewind to a good few years back. It was my birthday, and I was seriously dulling in my school apartment with a couple of my friends. We were drinking garri without groundnut ( a travesty), when some-one asked a question “Esco, if a genie appeared and granted you a choice out of 2 wishes as your birthday present. Either become a citizen of any country of your choice, or take 20 million naira cash here and now, and remain in Nigeria. Which would you choose?”

That provoked a lively debate. Ol boy, any of those is an upgrade on drinking garri on my life anniversary date. So which do I choose? Visa Lottery or Cash Lotto?  One thing is for sure – I would rather be a lion in the jungle than a cat in the city. I would rather be a crocodile in the bush, than a lizard on a Lagos fence with broken bottles. I would rather be an IBB in Minna, or an OBJ at Ota than a GEJ in Aso Rock. Or whatever that means.

 

With the number of people that were seen at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport trying to ‘escape’ Nigeria on the week of the nationwide strike last 2 weeks, Visa Lottery may be king. But 20 million naira nor be joke o. Although rent in Lekki phase one for one year plus the agency fees will put a big hole in that amount, leaving just enough for ‘suffering and smiling.”

 

So what would you choose, and where would you go? And don’t forget my present. Or gift.

 

Happy birthday to me…..

Birthdays was the worst days/

Now we sip champagne, when we thirsty/

Notorious BIG (Juicy, 1994)


Salute Me

Watch the birdie....

 

SALUTE ME

What are the worst vices affecting Nigerian society today? Squalor, poverty, illiteracy, perversion or even its brother-in law – corruption? Most people would argue that corruption is the greatest of them all.

What does corruption stem from? Why has this cankerworm, tapeworm, earthworm, eroded every facet of our national life. It all has to do with our flawed reward system.

Corruption exists because treasury looters and crooked people are celebrated because they have cash to burn. In England, a corrupt public officer would be stared at, pointed out and maybe even spat on in the streets. In Nigeria, he would be called to the high table at a function, and politely asked his choice of liquor.

In Jand and Yankee, the names of ex-sex offenders (people who have either been convicted of rape, sexual harassment  or sleeping with under-age persons) would be put in a Sexual Offenders List, and they would be prevented in living in certain areas (especially near schools, daycares and nurseries), and the public would have access to their records. In some cases, if they embarked on a bus, someone may stand up to avoid having to share a seat with them.

In Nigeria, a sex offender could move to Abuja or another state, get connections or a government contract and get nominated to become a State Commissioner or Special Adviser.

Only in Nigeria can an ex-con become a president or senator, or an ex 419-er own a bank. Our system seems to encourage people to do whatever is necessary to stack paper, and the rewards are uncountable – recognition, fame, chieftaincy titles, streets named after you, honorary degrees from dodgy state universities,  your name being toasted to by a juju musician at an owambe and your pick of cream aristo girls.

There was a lot of brouhaha late last year when Chinua Achebe declined to receive a national award from President GEJ. A lot of people were a bit miffed with the manner in which our national awards have been cheaply dished out to men of questionable characters and achievements who have done nothing to uplift this nation. Sometimes some of the recepients are serving public office holders, who happily accept the award, use it as a paper-holder on their office table, and proceed to award themselves and their cronies contracts, misappropriating public funds.

And I wondered to myself, a national award should be the highest form of reward for excellence giving to a citizen. Look at the United Kingdom for example – Sir Alex Ferguson (manager of Manchester United) was not knighted till 1999, a whole 13 years after he joined the club, and only after he had won a historic treble of trophies. The year before, he had won his 5 Premiership title, but Mama Charlie had not yet deemed it right to knight him.

David Beckham, soccer star, actor, perfumer, icon, poster-boy is not even yet a knight of the realm. The Queen’s honor roll is only reserved for distinguished personalities, not pudgy bankers who have not paid their workers for the past 2 months, or who pimp female markets to secure lucrative accounts. It is not for half-assed civil servants who flood their ministries with only their blood relations and party members.

If Beckham were a Nigerian, he would have been award more titles than his passport book could bear – Chief Otunba Nze Sir Architect David Beckham, GON, MFR, GCON, MFON.

And it is because people who have wealth, rather than those who are committed to selfless national service that are accorded recognition, it makes people want to lie, cheat and steal for glory. There are more award ceremonies conducted in Nigeria than there are credible recipients. There are  a gazillion award ceremonies to honor musicians and entertainers, including the ones who are encouraging us to party and be merry while Nigeria is burning around us. It seems Nigerians were in danger of becoming Emperor Nero who played the harp while Rome was up in flames around him. There are award ceremonies to honor bankers and banks, even though not a single bank in Nigeria is capable of giving the common man a loan unless he has a C of O for land in Ikoyi, 3 gaurantors who must be senators and commissioners, and he agrees to sign away his life with the shylock interest rates. EFCC may even be engaged by the bank as a ‘signatory’ to the loan agreement. You are what EFCC says you are.

In Nigeria, there are award ceremonies for event planners, though I have not gone to a single event which has not had African time computed into the start time. I have even been to a wedding, where the groom came late, and had to be fined by the bride’s family. The bride, was just relieved that he had shown up at all; she had been sweating buckets, and had almost eaten her bouquet in anxiety, thinking that her fella had abandoned her at the altar.

There are award ceremonies to honor brands in Nigeria, even though Indomie noodles has been in Nigeria for more than a decade, and is in every home’s dinner table in the country but the price has never dropped. Multichoice also does brisk business here, but you still have to pay for the decoder and dish, a practice which is obsolete among the major cable companies in the world. But why?

We have award ceremonies to honor politicians and state governors of the year – usually available to the highest bidder (paid from the treasury).

And sometimes parents and relatives are also to blame for coercing their kids or wards to crime or steal money. Even in the villages and rural areas, there are mothers who warn their sons leaving for city not to come back without riches, no matter the cost. And it is the same in the cities as well.

I remember someone complaining to me about his mother some years back. This was circa the summer of 1996, just after the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The guy’s mum kept on ‘yabbing’ him:”  See what your fellow man is doing. Kanu just won the football gold medal for his country and would receive millions of naira and parcels of land from Abacha. Meanwhile you are here, sitting at home and consuming 15 wraps of eba every day. You are a disgrace! You wont go out and hustle like your fellow man”

And this guy replied his mum” But mummy, Kanu is 20 years old (his football age in 1996), so we are not mates. I am only 16, and I am waiting for Jamb results.”

His mum didn’t want to hear that one o. This boy was later caught trying to steal high power drills  and equipment from a neighbors warehouse. He was lucky there was fuel scarcity around that time, because they had already put a tire round his neck.

That policeman who asks for a bribe, or that immigration officer at the airport who begs you to tip him or risk being stripped searched for contraband, does so out of greed. But he also does so because by the time he accumulates all the 20 and 50 naira notes he has received for the week,  the tidy sum becomes a pretty penny, and he can go to his community and enjoy being a local champion. Nobody would question how a cop ends up being able to buy beer for everyone at the beer palour. It is just classified that he is doing ‘runs’.

It is time we took our values back. Point out that dodgy millionaire whose generator looks like a small nuclear plant to EFCC and Egbesu Boys. High-jack that loot stealing ex- governor when you see his convoy in traffic, and seize one of the keys of the cars – it is rightfully yours, as it was bought by money stolen from our commonwealth. Watch out for his security orderly though.

Interrupt that wedding between that oil baron son and the cabal member’s daughter, when the pastor/bishop asks “if there is anybody who thinks that this wedding should not go on, speak now or forever hold your peace.” Put up your hands and scream “This wedding should not go on. This Civic Center wedding has been bankrolled with stolen oil subsidy money.  The bride’s wedding gown was bought with bribe money received in a Ghana Must Go bag on the floor of the Senate. The catering was done by the same cabal who claim that they spend over N1 billion on food in Aso Rock. I submit that this illicit union should be prevented forthwith, and the food and cake should be distributed to Ijewere Motherless Babies Home. Thank you”