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)

Naija-Berry

Research In Motion, the makers of your friendly neighborhood Blackberry must be smiling to the banks. Nigerians have adopted the pocket friendly device and taken it to their hearts, to the neglect of other phone brands. And the Blackberry phone manufacturers did not have to use Megan Wood to advertise their product like Anabel did – Rita Dominic sufficed (for Glo’s BB service). Wow sometimes, less is more. Let’s use our local stars.

Bringing a BB (Blackberry to you) service to Naija was a match made in heaven, surely. Just like the smart business man who thought it would be a good business idea to sell water in a sachet, and call it pure water. He sold volume, pardon the use of irony. What about selling ogi (akamu) in a Blue Bunny type bucket? No? With Oreo cookies in it? Ok, what about Okin Square included?

The BB is so popular now, that it has inspired its own song on the Nigerian charts. A Naija hip-hop artist called Riz released a song called “Ping! Me Baby” recently.

I heard it, and I was like wow! How times and artistes have changed; Jodeci and Tha Dogg Pound had a jam in the 90s on the Murder Was The Case Movie Soundtrack called “Come Up to Room.” Are artistes now satisfied with mere pings from their love interests. So is it “ping me baby’ as opposed to saying “ring me baby?”

BBs are very, very addictive. They have been rightly labeled “Crackberries”; the battery of mine ran out one day as I was stuck in traffic, and I felt like a horse on 3 legs. A bit like the half-starved ones in Alfa Beach or the strays on Lekki Expressway.

 I have friend whose wife has burnt all the pots and pans in their apartment, using her BB and neglecting food on the fire. On days when she has cause to chat with her friends, her husband knows he is having Indomie for dinner.

 She was even using her BB when her water broke, and also in the delivery ward in the hospital after giving birth. She must really like BB’s “push” email service.

Some Naija people  use their BB anywhere!

A girl was stopped by LASTMA officials for running a red traffic light; and while they struggled with the car door handles, trying to gain access into the car, the girl typed away on her BB without a care in the world, ignoring their threats.

You send a BB message to someone like “What’s up. Where are you?”, and the person replies immediately “I am great thanx. I am actually on my way now. I am on 3rd Mainland Bridge so I will see you in a bit.”

And you are like, Oh My Days!, you are doing 100kph  and “BBing” (using your BB) at the same time on that dangerous bridge? Some multi-tasking that I can do without. I find it difficult sitting still as a passenger going on that bridge.

BBs are so popular what there are now thousands of fakes or knock-offs. I don’t know how someone could ever think that a brand new BB smart-phone would cost only N10,000.00. You struggle to see base color screen phones without cameras at that price.

Someone I know bought a BB from somewhere in Ikeja and didn’t know it was a fake. If she had only looked closely, she would have noticed that the keypad had a  BIG QUERY instead of  a QWERTY or QWERTZ board.

But she had no clue, until someone asked her for her BB pin. She checked and saw ABA419MADE. What’s next, was she planning to subscribe to MTEL’s network?

But you have got to give it to them: Research In Motion, in collaboration with the GSM companies, has done some brisk business in Naija. Nigerians subscribe to any niche services that add value to their social or business lives.

Who can forget the days of old school Thuraya handsets when GSM services just started? “The international business man’s phone”. Having that briefcase phone in your possession, drove up your social standing a notch or two in some people’s estimation. It also cost an arm and a leg. No seriously, it actually almost cost me my arm – it was that heavy to carry.

 Don’t get me started on Samsung’s “True-I” mobile phone. I know someone who used to allow the phone ring just to show off its polyphonic ring-tone to gullible women, which was new technology at the time. He once mistakenly left the unit on in a magistrate court though, and was held by the bailiff for contempt of court. It was also kept as an exhibit.

The BB has altered the way Nigerians, especially the urbanites in Lagos, PH and Abuja interact with each other, that is for sure.

The BB service can provide a forum for exchanging professional ideas, business networking, marketing goods and services and even advertising. I am presently a member of several BB groups, some professional and some social.

Over use of BBM chatting has also destroyed some people’s spelling forever. With ordinary text messages, it is justifiable for a text sender to use abbreviations to limit any text messages to one page, because every extra page costs an extra N10-N15.

But why oh why should someone send anyone a BBM like this – Hw fa? Mk wi c 4 Slvr Bd @2 (How far? Make we see for Silver Bird at 2). He might as well have spoken Mandarin to me.

Some people call this manner of short hand writing phonetics (phone-etics). Apparently, it is picking up fast and infiltrating conventional spelling.

The BB is everywhere you turn, and there is a possibility that if you do not own one, you may not receive any calls or texts from some people. Most BB owners pay weekly or monthly BIS rates, and are not likely to call or text you when BB chat, use of Facebook, Twitter and e-mail is free.

People even use the BB Messaging (BBM) service for inviting friends and contacts to weddings, parties and events.

The BBM is also used to spread information about emergencies, some false and a few true – do not use Carter Bridge, a molue collided with a tanker and there is a fire hazard.

Or armed bandits are operating on Awolowo Road. Stay in your offices and homes.

It could also be utilized for religious and faith-based services – The Almighty is great. Please forward this to all of your contacts and see if you will not be blessed within 30 days. PS. Do not break the chain, make sure you send and receive your miracles. Amen.

It could be used to alleviate stress – jokes are normally forwarded around, until everyone in Lagos gets them.

The BB is also used for paparazzi services . Remember to always watch how you act whether in private or public. Everyone has a hidden camera phone, video camera or secret agenda. Enough said. Ask Wande Coal.

Hackers and panic-merchants have even caught up on the hype. Several weeks back, BB users were sent a BBM with a list of smileys which do not  come normally with the device. 

After a few days, BB users were sent another message which asked them to immediately delete the list from the phone application and reboot their device, or else their phones will suffer a fatal virus attack. Hmmm..so we have hackers in Naija. I understand that these are different technologies, but I wonder if they can do something about NEPA?

The BB also seems perfect for hiding a lack of social skills, or shyness or to alleviate boredom at events. A friend of mine was at a small house party, where a girl just buried her face in her BB, typing away because nobody was talking to her. It didn’t help that she was sitting in a corner and didn’t make eye contact with anyone.

My friend later saw her in the car-park after the party ended and got talking to her.  They hit it off and he wanted to exchange BB pins with her, and asked her to add his pin so he could accept right-away, but she explained that her Blackberry internet service had expired the day before! She confessed that she was shy and no-one was talking to her so she pretended that she was busy on the phone. Wow. Na so madness dey start.

Social skills are suffering because people use chat functions and social networking sites on their smart-phones instead of calling or visiting others.

I know a chap that once met a girl via  facebook; they exchanged BB pins and chatted with each other every single day for almost 2 and a half months. The day he decided to call her, a man picked up the phone. He thought he had the wrong number so he dropped and sent her a BBM. It turned out that she was the one that picked the phone – her voice was like Scary Spice’s own. He did the Eddie Murphy.

That budding relationship did not go to the next level, because expectations built up behind chat interactions were ultimately dashed when put under further scrutiny.

President Obama is reputed to be a huge fan of the BB device; it is said that he never goes anywhere without it.

Even our public office holders in Nigeria have caught the bug. Trust them to take it to another level that even Research In Motion had not even envisaged. I was watching a program on national TV some weeks back, and it was interview between a government official and a talk show host/ social critic. The host asked the government official how he keeps in touch with his local and state constituency in the South South, despite always travelling abroad on ‘official trips”, living and operating from Abuja and not going to his state due to the political upheavals and rising crime rate. He answered with a straight face ” How I keep in touch with my constituency? Very simple. Two words. Blackberry.”

I thought blackberry was one word.

 The BB is also guilty of being at the centre of a few incidents too.

About two years ago, I used to work for this company where all the senior managers were given BBs for official tasks. There was this particular manager, Mr.Babatunde, married, about 38, who was very loud. He fancied one of  our co-workers, a svelte, pretty girl called Nora whose desk was in the open plan layout just in front of his. Nora was not interested in him in the least, so Mr. B was fond of doing stuff to try to get her attention. He would come out of his office, acting like he was on a very important call to a foreign client with his voice loud saying stuff like “Yes Mr. Smithers. You can email me anytime on my Blackberry” or boasting like ” Please forward my itinerary to my Blackberry. I fly out to London, first thing next week.”

It was hopeless because Nora refused to give him the time of day or go out with him.

On one particular day, he was bragging away loudly to someone on his BB as he was coming out of his office, and looked towards Nora to see if she was listening to his conversation. He did not look at the ground in front of him, and tripped over a stack of cable wires which connected the office server to all the PCs. Some of the wires cut, and disrupted the whole company’s internet connectivity for the whole day until an engineer came over to sort it out. No real work could be done in the office for almost 24 hours. Client deadlines couldn’t be met that day and everything regarding office work ground to a halt. Not good.

One of the directors called him into the office and gave him a reprimand and an official query. By the time he came out, he looked really humiliated. I guess, for him, it was a huge learning, err, Curve.

We are all guilty of going to public or private functions – parties, weddings, get togethers, restaurant openings, barbeques, and bury their heads in their phones and so do not interact socially. Balance is crucial.

The BB has even created a special industry – the BB pouch or rubber-case making industry. Some people have 3 or 4 different BB covers or pouches to protect their dear BB, but no deodorant or anti-pespirant for protection from sweat. Charity starts at phone, sorry home.

A few people simply detest the phone’s popularity and believe that it to be a symbol of the excess, materialism and vanity that is plaguing middle Nigeria at the moment.  Dude, it is just a phone.  Blame it on the individual and not the product. Don’t shoot the err, blackberry, messenger

Whatever their gripes, the BB is user-friendly, durable and does what it says on the tin.

So what is your BB pin?

  

You’ve got to learn to hold your own/

They get jealous when they see you with your mobile phone/

2Pac (Changes, 1998)

The Brand-Wagon Effect

Forget its population, Lagos is really a small place. Scratch that, Lagos is the smallest place on earth.
It never fails to amaze, the manner in which the latest fads fast gather discipleship in a city as culturally and socially diverse as Eko. These fads or current fascinations then spread to the twin cities of Abuja and Port-Harcourt. Everyone ends up wearing the same kind of clothes, having similar interests, using the same slangs and figures of speech, and making the same lifestyle choices as a result.

This snow-ball effect of infectious tastes creates a propensity for some people to jump on the lifestyle bandwagon, sorry, brand wagons.

The world is a global village, yes, but then Lagos must be a hamlet. But I digress…

Early this week, I wanted to buy a smart button-up to wear with a suit for a wedding I have this weekend. I ducked into Ikota Shopping Complex, in Ajah but got so miffed that I had to give up. Every shirt shop I went to stocked the same brand of shirts for men, baring a few Italian knock-off brands like Ogini. No I don’t want a TM Lewin or Hawes & Curtis shirt, free me jor….

Let’s conduct a mini experiment – gather all the 23 -37 year olds living in the following parts of Lagos: Lekki, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Ajah, Surulere, Magodo, Ikeja, Maryland, Yaba, Ebute-Metta, Apapa, Akoka, Ogudu and Gbagada. Sorry if I didn’t mention your area; every experiment needs a control.

Now, take 2 invisible hoops – a blue one and a pink one. The blue one is for guys and the pink one for the ladies.
If you toss the blue hoop randomly into the crowd, so that it only catches a fella, I can bet my bottom dollar that the following will be his demographic: He lives in Lekki-Ajah by way of somewhere on the Mainland. He drives a Toyota Corolla (the model that all the banks and financial institutions have bought so much that Toyota has made enough profits not to give a rat’s ass about a possible ban or lawsuits in the USA from the brake issues). If he didn’t buy the Corolla brand new and pay installmentally, he would have bought a Honda ‘Baby Boy’ Accord from a used car lot.
Demographic dude also supports Arsenal, and started doing so once it became fashionable to be a Premier League footie fan. He also has an Arsenal sticker on his car rear bumper. My guess would be that the sticker says Gunners for Life!

Demographic dude has a Blackberry Bold on MTN’s network and a beat-up Nokia as a second phone. He works for one of the banks on the Island, and tells anyone who cares to listen that he is thinking of leaving to start his own business. There is also a huge chance that Demo dude also went to LASU or UNILAG, and if he schooled abroad, London Metropolitan University or University of Hertfordshire.
He also wears T.M Lewin or Hawes & Curtis shirts to work. He orders or buys the TM Lewin shirts from the TM Lewin flagship store on the ground floor of Brent Cross Shopping Centre in North West London. By the way, he flies with Virgin Atlantic almost always, and when he travels, almost always to London, he never misses Next’s clearance sales. He also traverses London’s Oxford Street for bargains.
His vocabulary includes sentences like “That’s the P” or “Omo, I de hustle” (even though he has a 9-5 bank job that gives him time for precious little else).

Demographic man also has a couple of big horse Polo by Ralph Lauren polo shirts with the numbers on the sleeves, which he wears on weekends or when hanging with his boys at the sports bar to watch Arsenal games where Bendtener always fails to score. He used to wear Hackett shirts at one point, but that would be social suicide now.
He has started sprouting a small pot-belly these days. He doesn’t care, he is a big boy. In addition, he sports a low crew cut fade, and Rick Ross type sideburns (Oliver De Coque patented that look eons ago though).
The red hoop will rein in a full-figured brown-skinned girl who absolutely loves to eat out and shop for clothes.

‘Demographina’ would be obsessed with Brazilian (or Peruvian) hair, which she no doubt will blackmail some sex-starved mugu to purchase for her if she cannot afford it herself. She is no taller than 5”9. She usually wields a Blackberry Curve on Glo’s network (N1500 per week is easier) which she harasses furiously when she is at an event where nobody ‘sends’ her enough.
Her uniform of choice would include True Religion skinny jeans, tank tops or a tee, flats or gladiators, not to forget a huge handbag (of Ghana-Must-Go proportions) which she has perfected how to carry in the cavity of her elbow.
She drives one of the following – a Kia Picanto or Rio, Honda City or a Hyundai Accent, and wears sunglasses when she drives (she bought them especially for the car). She works as a marketer in either a bank, insurance firm or a firm that sells some kind of equipment which cannot sell itself or its utility to its target market. On Sundays, she attends House on the Rock or This Present House where she fervently prays that she will meet her future husband – a tall, dark and handsome fella who has a Lekki apartment and a smart SUV, and would fork out for her trips to Dubai.
She snarls at her local vendor if he doesn’t have her Sunday ThisDay Style newspaper, and snarls at herself if she doesn’t appear in the magazine itself. But alas I digresseth too much…

Of course there are always exceptions, certain people dress differently and have dissimilar interests which invariably leads to accusations of being weird. Chaps like Derenle the presenter are examples of extreme cases; Prince 2000 of Sunday Rendezvous fame (the Nigerian 1980s dance show a la Soul Train) dressed like no other. These are the examples at the other end of the spectrum.

In the US, there are special, special cases like Lady Gaga but alas I digress again…

In Nigeria however, it seems if you decide to break the norm even slightly, people mistaken it as a sign that you lack generally or are not in the know. A female friend of mine for example would rather wear her natural hair but she has had fashionistas ogle her consistently about why she hasn’t gotten the latest Brazilian weave worn by “Bo Bo Biz Girls.” Socially, Naija’s ethos seems to be either put up or shut up.

This word of mouth advertisement, which prompts us to conform or risk feeling left out was the marketing machine that made the movie Jenifa a Nollywood blockbuster. In Nigeria, the band and brand wagon effects drive up sales of brands like Blackberry, Toyota, Ed Hardy, True Religion, Ralph Lauren, Hackett, TM Lewin and the popularity of premiership clubs of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool. Nigeria must be a franchisor’s dream; and a goldmine for any aggressive brands.

It is no wonder that KFC is making a killing here. Fair play to them, but word of mouth and social interest alone must have driven sales and patronage through the roof in the first couple of days of its business launch.
A friend of mine opines that if Apple were to set up shop in Nigeria, and offer the full range of its services including a Naija friendly I-Tunes online store, they would best what Research in Motion has achieved so far with the ‘BB’. I once went to Sanusi Fafunwa Street VI, to look for a cord for my MP3 player. The traders there got confused anytime I mentioned “MP3 player”; what they knew was Apple Ipod, even though the cord I needed was for a Sony MP3 Walkman!

In Nigeria, Lagos to be exact, some people are obsessed with wearing vogue clothes as everyone else, going to the most fashionable church (usually for the suave pastor, sea of eligible singles, or for signs and wonders)and owning the most socially acceptable brand (even if it is not the best brand).
My friend joked once that the only product that we in Naija would use without insisting on a particular brand or name is pure-water.

 

“Sometimes I find myself wearing the same stuff for days/ Not caring about what they gonna think or say”
Prodigy “Family’ (2000)