Akwukwo Na Tu Uto (Literature is sumptuous)

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Knock, knock!

Na who dey there?

Abeg, all the visitors of this blog should help me beg the VIP readers who comment and subscribe to this blog. I really apologize for the ‘brief’ hiatus. I was actually around, but I was not “on seat.” The Nigerian civil service shows that you can be absent from your desk but present at work.

Outside of blogging, I have had so much going on lately. I am also dealing with life’s pressures and pleasures constantly.  And some of this pressures get as dem be. Sometimes blogging is the last thing I want to do. Maybe I need to hire a special assistant who can take dictation. Sir, how do I spell Kpom kwem?

God was faithful, so I managed to conquer all life had to throw at me in 2012, and here I am in 2013 alive and well. Life is good. I hope 2013 has found you all in good health. What special things happened in your life. Anyone? Abi una still dey vex? Una nor gree answer me? Okay be like that. Ogboju pass power.

Besides, it hasn’t been that long since we last exchanged ideas, has it? Let me recount what ‘types’ of water has passed under the bridge since my last post on October 20 2012:

Tonto Dikeh released a single which was critically exclaimed at (forget acclaimed), while Tiwa Savage released a statement on Twitter denying that she had gotten married secretly, even though she didn’t verify if she was single.

D’Banj’s new single “The Bachelor” has gotten mixed reviews, and is said not be as “critically acclaimed” as his earlier works like “Oliver Twist” while Osaze Odemwengie the football star, heavily criticized the Super Eagles coach Stephen “Bournvira” Keshi for dropping him from the squad for the Nations Cup tournament starting tomorrow. Osaze claimed that stories circulating that he was a divisive character were twisted.

Cossy Orjiakor went HAM on Twitter with some racy photos of her in a Bravissimo Cosset, sorry corset, complete with stockings; Beyonce seemingly reacted jealously to the column inches and press Cossy was getting, by releasing pictures of herself in panties and in various stages of undress. Ok o.

Tony Anenih, the politician and PDP stalwart, was appointed chairman of the board of the NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority) even though he is damn near 100 years old; meanwhile some weeks ago, meanwhile over 100 youths were expelled from Covenant University for supposedly skiving an “end-of-term” church mass.

Kim Kardashian and her dude announced that they are expecting a baby; Chika Ike, the Nollywood actress posted vacation clips of herself at a Maryland USA Zoo carrying a baby “crocodye” (alligator).

GEJ our President announced recently that he was sending a military contingent to help with the international war effort against jihadist insurgents in Mali, even though there is fire on the mountain at home (Boko Haram, it is not fair o) which hasn’t been fixed yet. On another tip, the war on corruption seemed to take another dive when the Central Bank governor announced that over a billion naira in cash had developed legs and waka-ed from the Security and Minting premises. Talk about fast money.

A huge debate about whether pastors and clergymen should own private jets was a major topic for discussion on many Nigerian online forums some weeks back. Meanwhile Dana Air re-launched and resumed services like they had never been away. They should get Denzel Washington to fly their planes. You should have seen what he did in Flight.

And Esco began work on his memoirs…..

Yes, Yes, I am currently working on a book. I am announcing it, so that I would not be able to back out and you can hold me to it. I am also letting you know so you can start putting your shillings aside.

It all started a few years ago, when someone read all the articles in this blog, and asked me “Esco if you wrote a book on your life, do you think anybody would read it?” Well, only one way to find out..

So in a nutshell, I have prepared a set of FAQs to provide more insight about the book:

1. What is the title of the book? It is a trade secret at this time. Intellectual property thieves abound in cyberville and I don’t want anyone biting my ideas like electric ant. I wrote the name of the book on a sheet of paper, and then shoved it inside a large Ghana-must-go bag, with a tuber of yam inside as a decoy. I spied around to make sure nobody was watching, as I placed the bag inside a Bagco Super sack, and then put the sack into a metal trunk box. I bought a Yeti padlock, and locked the iron box. Not content, I hauled the box with me as I travelled to the village and left it in the care of my grandmother. She placed the box under her bed next to her crate of eggs and Guinness Stout. Good luck trying to steal from my nan. Under her bed is said to be safer than Fort Knox or Aso Rock. It is definitely safer than Abia at Xmas with all the kidnappings. To make double sure all was secure, on my way back from the hamlet, I stopped at Onitsha and tossed the padlock key into the River Niger. Mungo Park’s got it now…

 

To be fair, what I have is a working title. But my thing is that it does not roll off the tongue enough for me. It does not sound epic or awe-inspiring or swash-buckling. The name sounds as un-exotic as Nkalagu. I even had my Calabar house-boy pronounce the name of the book  repeatedly in his thick Efik accent, but the name sounded flat. Mbok…

 

2. When will the book be released? Ahn ahn cool down na. Don’t jump the gun. One thing at a time. Horse before the cart. Secure garri before putting the hot water on stove. Ensure power generation and tackle corruption before you talk of a 2nd presidential term. Buy the runs girl popcorn first before you start to talk of carting her home for overnight “take-away.” I am currently writing as I speak, but I expect it to be released before summer. This year…

3. What would the book be about sef: It could be a bit similar to this blog. A few chapters would be stories about my life. Things I have done, places I have been, faces I have seen. The world through the tunnel vision of Escope. If you like this blog, you would like my book. If you do  not like this blog, I authorize you to purchase and gift it. Repeat 20 times and forward the book to 20 people, and then relax and see if something (anything) would not manifest in your life. Sow a big agbalumon seed into somebody’s life this year. Stop sowing tiny pawpaw seeds into people’s lives. Anyhow, that way I gain too. And I blog more, and hopefully you laugh more. So Nigeria is a happy country. And Boko Haram relocates. With all the wicked politicians. 

4. I am currently working on the first few chapters. I have already made an outline and it is looking like a wedding program without an Item no. 7. However I am not sure if the words I have used so far are grand enough. A critic (hater) opined that the book in its draft form is already starting to look like those Igbo village almanacs. I don’t want a book with very simplistic sentences, and lots of big pictures (foto), such that you use your fingers to trace the words while reading. Blogging is a pretty straight forward venture, but I find that writing a book is another matter o. The difference is like Alarm Blow and Jegede Shokoya. Maybe I need to hire a professional speech-writer to edit the drafts I have so far. Please wbo has Hon. Obahiagbon’s telephone number? The rank salubrity of Esco’s crass manifestations to overwhelm Gorgon Medusa…

I want a product that would make a smooth read for at least 3 generations of Nigerians. The millenials (those in their 20s), the oil-boomers (readers born in the 70s and early 80s) and the “Papa thank yous” (those born around independence and the Civil War era. A memorandum of my aspirations to unite the country of my birth – a manual of our  amalgamated and manifest destiny for posterity. Story….

I am tempted to call it a coffee table book, but how many Nigerian homes contain one? I somehow cannot bring myself to call it a dining-table book. Ogbono soup stains do not go well with paper literature.

5. Esco, have you abandoned blogging for the bright and moth-seducing lights of Nollywood stardorm with book-writing? No I am not selling out; rather I am cashing in. Haha. Blogging is electic-writing, no?

 Trivia: Omotola or Genevieve? Answer: Yvonne Okoro…

6. How much would the book cost? I have kids to feed:  Well it will be cheap and affordable enough…especially if you are Dangote. Nah, I am just pulling your legs. I am trying to put a quality product out there. I am keen to push a book which has quality paper that would not stick together like cheap rice. Would it be a collector’s item? Well it would be popular with “I-wan-buy-paper” merchants.

 Stop goofing around Esco, so would it  be set at a pocket-friendly price? Yes. Cheaper than a politician’s campaign promise. It would also be cheaper by the dozen. You should buy 12 and read one every month of the year.

7. See this guy o. What makes you think that I would spend a kobo on your yeye book sef: You have started again in 2013 abi? This is a new year o.  See point 5 above.

So there you have it. Happy New Year, and see you at the comment box below….

Nas will prevail/

Buy the book when it’s up for sale/

Nas (Rest of My Life, 2004)

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

All I Do Is Win (Sometimes)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone nodded in agreement – I was royally screwed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Forever

Esco 

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)

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KILODE – http://www.4shared.com/audio/2LfsMQjK/KILODE.html

MO FE BE – http://www.4shared.com/audio/X3GmWsOM/MO_FE_BE.html

AKANCHAWA – http://www.4shared.com/audio/Nmr6FOtc/AKANCHAWA.html

SPEED DEMONS – OKADA RIDERS

Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend. Who the hell cared, me and the lads decided to meet up for a trick or treating in the evening. But there was the small matter of a wedding I had to attend at Golden Gate Ikoyi; I got there for the reception and was ushered to a table where one of the women corned all the small chops and finger foods for herself and her clan.  Maybe it was because I wasnt wearing aso-ebi so it was all good. Good wedding – lots of talent everywhere, but not enough nosh so everyone’s eyes looked strong.

Then Kevin my friend called me, to say that he and another, called Mof were downstairs in the restaurant’s lobby. We then got a buzz that there was a get-together somewhere in Lekki Phase one. I and Kevin rode in my car, with Mof driving directly behind us in his car.

When we got to Phase one, we couldn’t locate the street; so we did what anyone in Lagos would do – we started asking Okada riders.

Abeg you sabi Babs Oki street? The okada man would reply “Danbaba Aboki street? No, I no know am.”

Then we would be like “No, we said Babs Oki” but it was no use, the Okada chaps didn’t have a clue. They didn’t look like they wanted to have a clue either. All they wanted to do was ride.

So we called the chap who had invited us for the get-together; he described it thus: When you get to Admiralty, take the 3rd turning after the first junction on your right. When you get to the adjacent street, take a 2nd turning on your left and keep going straight. Then you would get to a close. Drive to the end of the close and ask okada for Babs Oki street.”

Drive to the end of the close and ask okada for Babs Oki street?!! Men, this guy was obviously pissy drunk, and didn’t know what he was talking about.

So we turned off Admiralty, with me driving, and saw a stream of okadas on a side street. We drove up to approach one, and my pal riding shotgun had wound down the window to ask the okada for directions when we heard “BOOOOM!!”. The car rocked forward on impact.

Oh that can’t be good, I thought to myself.

Me and my mate got down from the car to look. An okada guy had collided with the car and had totally smashed the left rear light. Valentine’s Day Massacre was about to occur on the Lekki Peninsular. I was sooooo angry.

I looked and the okada culprit was writhing on the floor in pain, with his finger sliced.

Men I was still angry.

I was like “Look at what you have done to my car. You have smashed the rear light”

The okada man kept bellowing and writhing on the floor louder.

You know the drill in Nigeria – whoever is angrier or more upset or more aggrieved is usually the one likely to gain upper-hand or not be at fault. If you dull, you may end up replacing your car rear lights as well as paying for the okada-man’s hospital bill. If a policeman passes by, and intervenes, you will also pay a “consultancy fee”.

For about 5 minutes, me and the wounded okada man, who was still on the floor writhing and holding his calf, and bellowing like a crazed banshee, had the following exchange:

Me, in a loud voice: “Aboki, see wetin you do my motor! You go pay for the back-light”

Okada man in a louder voice: “Yeeehh!!! I don die o. You don broke am for my leg o. Shege banzai!!!!”

Me, in a louder, louder voice “Make you stand up!!! Na you hit me from behind! I go seize ya machine o! Plus ya helmet!! And the passenger helmet!!!”

Okada man in a louder louder voice “My leg don broke o!!! You don kill me. I just come from Jigawa this morning o!!!!! This machine, na ma brother own o!!!!!”

And I am like, Dude, you just came from Jigawa this morning and you are operating as an okada man in bloody Lekki of all places, expressway and all.

In case you did not know, in Nigeria, when someone smashes into your car, you don’t ask for their insurance; no sir, you ask for their assurance – their assurance that they will fix the car or foot the bill for any repairs – immediately.

My friends too were all pissed and angry and engaging other people on the scene.

Meanwhile, all the okada men in Lagos were swarming on the accident scene. It was now a case of 3 versus the great multitude. Uh oh!

The okada kept writhing like a worm with salt on it. It wasn’t looking good.

Then a man forced himself to the front of the gathering and said in the thickest Igbo accent “Mallam, why you de lie”.

Without even looking at me, the man continued: Mallam, why you de lie?! Na you jam this man motor for back? I see you, you de drive okada and de follow ya brother talk, and you no see say this man motor don park. You come hit am, break the back light. When you see say you don jam am, you come de lie for ground, pretend like say you don break ya leg.”

Apparently, the man (let’s call him Good Samaritan) had been making a phone call in a recharge card centre by the side, and had seen all that had happened. Aww bless.

Good Samaritan now did something that surprised me. He walked to the okadaman on the ground and held the okadaman’s ankles and started stretching and bending the okadaman’s legs at the knees. “Aboki, you talk say your leg don broke abi? If e don break, why you fit bend and straight ya leg? Get up jare!!!”

The okada dude realized that his game was up; he stood up like Lazarus!

Bloody hell!

Everyone present was angry – and believe me it was nearly a mob at the scene.

Everyone was angry and started verbally attacking the okada-man, and not even his colleagues could intervene.

Ok so the okada man is at fault, all well and good. But there is still de small matter of my car lights? I doubt if anger is going to be able to fix them.

My friends seized the man’s key, and started loading the bike into our car boot. “We de seize you okada, that back light na 15 thousand naira for market.”

Normally when another road user bumps into my car, depending on the severity of the damage, I may let it slide and drive off. But this chap lied and pretended that he was injured, an act which could get me set upon by okada-union. And he broke my rear lights, which for the brand of car, will cost a decent sum to fix. Something or someone’s has got to give.

All the okadas decided to donate, after much haggling and we came away with N8000. My lights cost at least N14, 000.

Well in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, lets just accept this and let the okada chap go.  Especially cos new people and okadas were coming to the scene of the incident, and everyone was shouting and getting aggressive.

Me and my friends pulled away from the growing mob, and drove off in our cars. We got to the get-together, it was nearly over. We couldn’t even get a decent drink and had to make do with Fayrouz.

Valentine’s Day was ruined for me anyway, but worse still I developed a phobia for okadas. I would not let them squeeze in front of me even in traffic, and I turned my side mirrors in, when on narrow roads.

I can’t wait for the Lagos State’s ban on okadas on highways to take full effect.  I obviously want riders to earn their living, but there’s no excuse for recklessness. The ban was meant to start on September 1, 2010, but so far when I look outside my car window, I still see Speed Demons – daredevil okada riders doing Ruff Ryder or Biker Mice from Mars drills while carrying delicate passengers.

Ban them from the Autobahns I say!

Oh well!

 

 

This is a story I’ll never forget/

About the day my new car got hit/

It caught me off guard cause it happened so quick/

When I heard the crash I got mad as hell/

Cruising down the highway fast not slow/

Ninety miles an hour in my five point o/

People waving at me cause they know who I am/

Alpine stereo blasting a jam/

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (You Saw My Blinker, 1991)

LOVE MY MISSUS; DESPISE HER FRIEND

 It is one of those ironies of life – you can choose a girlfriend or partner, or make a choice as to the special person who you want to spend the rest of your life with, exchanged vows, cheap rice confetti and all. But, and I mean a big but, you cannot choose who she decided to call her bestie – annoying or not.

Unbelievable, but I found out that Google has an entry on how to deal with an annoying in-law , annoying siblings or work colleagues. Trivial it may be, but it’s been researched enough times to be given its own prompter. How about if your girl’s best friend is annoying too? What do you do?

 My chick’s bestie is annoying; no scratch that, she can be a nasty piece of work. Think of all the worst attitudes a 25 year old has, rolled into 5 feet 5 of brown muscled wonder, and you will begin to catch my drift. Alright then.

Reminisce with me, as I recall her various atrocities. The time was December 2009, just around the time everyone was doing their Xmas shopping. The venue was the main dining room of the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island . Bestie (let’s call her that) and her then fiancé (a nice and pleasant chap) had called I and the missus to join them for Sunday brunch at the Eko Hotel. My girlfriend then agreed to meet up with me at the venue in 30 minutes.

So I jumped into the shower, and emerged minutes later – but alas, I was in a deep dilemma. Not only could I not find anything to wear, but my mind was in 3 places as whether to take the engagement ring I wanted to propose to my beloved with. A 24 carat white gold ring with a solitaire (thank you, thank you for the compliments), it had only arrived in Lagos the day before via Chisco Transport (yes they deliver rings), from Brighton United Kingdom by way of Port Harcourt. Ask me nicely enough and I would explain.

I had given my sister who travelled to England some weeks prior, my girl’s ring size and a healthy wad of British pound to purchase the rings. After days traversing the high streets of gay Brighton, my sister had seen a smart gem in a vintage shop window. One problem though, she wasn’t going to be back in Lagos till the new year, and I needed the ring like yesterday – my girl was travelling back to Yankee after Xmas. So my sister gave it to my cousin who was travelling back to Naija, but to PH not Lag. My cousin agreed to send it, but via Chisco. My heart was in my mouth. I prayed against kidnappers, baggage-stealers; I bound and destroyed one-chance bandits, thief-thief policemen in my prayers. I am sure you people are like, na wetin naa? How much the ring cost sef? Well let me put it this way, that ring was more expensive than 10 Chisco return tickets to Aba.

Fast forward, I was able to pick the ring at Chisco’s office just before 2nd Round-about, Lekki. My cousin had wrapped it in a bag filled with ube (native pear) and azu-urokpiri (dried fish). Funny enough, I was with the missus, when I stopped at Chisco’s, but her eyes and long throat were on the azu-urokpiri so she didn’t notice the ring’s box.

Ok, SO I am still in my towel and in a dilemma. To be or not to be? E go be sha.

I decided on a pair of khakis pants, a smart white shirt and a cord blazer; and I chucked the ring into my pocket. Got to Eko Hotel – the missus, Bestie and her fiancé were all seated and having starters. The soup looked like water color so I ordered the main course straight. Bestie was really feeling like the Queen of England, asking the waiter for foreign confectionary and everything outside the menu, in the fakest British accent I have ever heard.

I hope this is freshly squeezed orange juice. No it is Nutri C ma.

Is this Satis beef sausage? Oh I hate those!

Do you have PG Tips tea? Oh put the monkey on it, you old sod.

 Is your bacon salted or cured? Salted? Now she thinks she is Angelina Jolie.

 Meanwhile, my princess was comporting herself with all the graces a future life partner should have. Bestie was the complete opposite – cursing out the waiter for not getting the napkins in the perfect triangle, or for not squeezing lemon into her iced water. Who does that in Nigeria. The last time I had lemon in water, was when I used a Krest bottle to fetch water in boarding school  cos i didnt have a flask.

After eating, I kept on procrastinating, thinking of the right time to sneak my little speech in. Moreover I was boxed into a corner, due to the tight seating arrangements – kneeling to propose would be impossible. Bestie, sorry Beastie, arranged a seat for me, as far as possible. I was still trying to make up my mind, when Bestie and her chap said that they were about to leave. I decided to seize my chance. In my best Hugh Grant, shy and awkward impression, I announced that I had an announcement as I clinked a tea-spoon on a glass cup.

Clink,clink! I have an announcement to make. The other guests from other tables eyed me like a nuisance. Trust Naija people.

Looking at my beloved, I said “You have been very special to me, all this time…”Blah, Blah. Blah and all the mushy stuff. Then I smoothly pulled out the ring box from my blazer pocket in the same slow motion manner James Bond pulls out his Walter PPK pistol. The price of the ring – shebi I told you before, the equivalent  of 10 Chisco return tickets to Aba. The look on my sweetie’s face – priceless. I got a scream of joy, a huge hug and a kiss so wet that I looked like I had just eaten puff-puff.

 Yes, yes, yes, I will marry you…

Bestie’s fella just kept clapping and saying he couldn’t believe how smoothly I proposed, out of the blue. He was happy and laughing and congratulatory.

 Bestie? Her face said it all. She looked over-whelmed and needless to say not very pleased. She then started talking about how her fiancé had proposed to her at a chalet in Obudu cattle-ranch with all the gorillas, monkeys and cows watching.

In my mind I was like come on, skip the bull; this moment is about your best friend and not you.

Needless to say, her fiancé was embarrassed – like please don’t bring up an event that happened in the tropic South South eons ago. For crying out loud, someone just asked your best friend to marry him!

 That damned Bestie!

Girl, I will give you karats ’till you feel you a rabbit / Anything in your path, you want you can have / Walk through the mall, if you like it you can grab / Total it all up and put it on my tab / And then tell your friends all the fun you had/

Mase (Tell Me What You Want, 1997)

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)

Caveat!

Thank you for stopping by my blog.

I hope you will get something you need, even if you don’t get everything you want.

Let us laugh and cry and love and learn together, in equal measure.

I leave you with wholesome lyrics from the song “Strong Will Continue” off the Distant Relatives (2010) album, a joint effort by Nasir Jones and Damien Marley:

No man live forever
But never say never
Every goodie want better,
Just be a go getter
And always be clever
In every endeavour
Coz drastic time call for drastic measure
Your girl try to pleasure
From ya neighbours things severe
The land and the treasure
Work for whatever
Jah say don’t be a beggar,
The alpha omega
Will bless every soul no matter
Which name you prefer
The immortal stepper
Believe in every skin
No matter which colour they are
Will never let you down no matter
Which kind of weather
You’re destined to rise like the son of Rebecca don’t stop for a second
Every man reckon
It sure would be good to be there
Whether Zion or Mecca
When the gates are finally closed
And the saints go marching in

God Bless…..

ATCHUNG!: Some of the articles and observations on Literati are based on real events which have happened to real everyday people; some names have been changed to protect the innocent. Some events will be presented in their entirety and edited as little as possible in order to present the current harsh realities of city-life and society in their purest form, some of which are still clear and present dangers.

These realities include poverty, corruption, greed, racism, nepotism, selfishness, sloth, vanity and squalor, gross materialism, indiscipline, slander, sexual promiscuity, perversion, illiteracy, inferiority complexes and all forms of ills preventing Nigeria from being the greatest nation on Earth.

However, where any articles are presented undiluted and unrefined, the aim shall not be to humiliate or pour scorn on any class or kind of members of society but to stimulate learning, reform, change, neighbourly love in our cities, families, communities and relationships by the powerful medium of satire and blog literature, hence the name Literati: Satires on Nigerian life.

It is this writer’s frank observation that when we laugh, we remember, and when we remember, we learn, and when we learn, we understand, and when we understand, we empathise, and when we empathise, we love. Love is love.

Any resemblance to any particular fatal  incidents experienced  by any individual reader(s) is regretted.

Life imitates Art. Art irrigates Life.

Satire is the new attire.

Thank you and you and you and you..