I DON HAMMER ONE MILLION DOLLARS O!!

My time is prime like Keke / stay jeje making my pepper...

My time is prime like Keke / just jeje making my pepper…

 

A few good years ago in Jand, I and a couple of workmates decided to form a temporary lottery syndicate, pool resources and buy lottery tickets each, to increase our odds of winning a 30million pounds lottery jackpot.

Normally, I do not send the lottery, as I have always felt that I would have better odds fetching water with a basket, or purchasing an electric cooker because I had belief that NEPA would come good rather than let me starve, or buying a Terry G single for the lyrics. Heck, there are better odds misappropriating Nigerian Pension Funds than winning the lottery at 40 billion to one than winning the lottery. Least I could enrich myself at the public’s expense; worst case scenario, even if I got caught by EFCC or an anti corruption body, I could use connections to get off with a 750000 naira slap on the wrist.

However, this case was different, and I had a reason for playing the lottery .  Some months back, a couple in their 50s had won a record 161 million pounds, which was the highest payout in Britain at the time. The newspapers went crazy when the husband, 65, proclaimed that “they were now as rich as the Beckhams.” True, the Beckhams were worth  about 165 million pounds then.

Wow! I remembered, switching off the TV after I heard that boast, and thinking to myself –  well fuck me, if I won 161 million pounds, I would  scream out from 3rd Mainland Bridge “I am richer than my ex-state governor! I can now afford to hire graduate drivers and pay then 500,000 naira per year to move my trucks on Naija death roads; I can have my convoy of German luxury cars pick me from the tarmac of Murtala Mohammed International whenever I arrive, even though it endangers other commercial flights. Chei, I can have noisy owambe parties and block off major roads and bridges, and inconvenience other road users. While I am at it, I can import runs girls from the top private universities for threesome orgies in my VGC villa. Choi! I could even contest for Senate and win the election without stepping a foot into my constituency….”

In the UK or Yankee, lottery winners are usually inundated with attractive offers from credit card companies and financial investors who offer them all manners of services and incentives. In Nigeria, once you hit any form of millions, it is hangers-on, ‘distant’ relatives, and traditional rulers who chase you  for financial favors or to bestow chieftaincy titles on you.

I had other reasons to play the lottery too. Imagine if because of the mere 1 pound fee it takes to play the lotto, I neglected to try my luck, and then my co-workers scooped the top prize in my absence. Fear caught me o. Britico people no sabi share at all.

So we bought the tickets, pledging that if any of us pulled the winning number, we would all share the jackpot equally.  Imagine 30 million splitting 8 ways – that’s some decent mula.

The next 24 hours were a pain, as I had to play the waiting game. You know that feeling of hopeless anticipation, like when you are sweating in the heat, begging NEPA to bring back the power, but you know remember your neighborhood transformer had blown.  It didn’t stop me keeping my phone close to me, hoping one of the lads would call me to announce that we had won big. I don hammer o!

As I sat there, many thoughts passed through my head. I envisaged picking up my winnings, and hitting the next thing smoking to Lagos. I would rather be a millionaire in the Zanga, than a Big Time Charlie in the land of Mama Charlie. As I sat there, I recalled an instance where a Nigerian friend of mine, from back in Scotland looked up at the sky, smiling as he explained what he would do if he ever won lottery millions.

He shook his head as he said “Esco, all I need is just 500,000 pounds; one million or ten million is even too much. I would first of all call and inform my mother in Nigeria; and  then warn her to quit from that her junk civil service job. I would then go shopping in Harrods, and then return to Nigeria like a prodigal son. I would tell my mum like this – mummy I am buying a shop for you in Victoria Island, so get ready to fly to Dubai to go shopping for stock. Then I would relocate my entire family from FESTAC to Banana Island in Ikoyi sharp sharp.

All for 500k pounds? Ok o. Besides why is that most Nigerians in the Diaspora say they would return to Nigeria immediately if they  ever stumbled upon great wealth. Being rich in Nigeria must be the lick.The Hamptons or Old Ikoyi? Hmmm…

I wanted to snap him out of his daydream, but he preferred to stay in Total Recall mode:”I would then travel to Germany to ship down 3 tear-rubber models of Mercedes – a G Wagon, an ML 500 and a small C-Class for my mum. All my rides would be German, no time for Korean brands.” What about Volkswagen?

I reminded him that he had not said anything about cars for his siblings. His answer was followed by an evil sigh “Mcheew…Na them win lottery? Berger for Apapa never close na. I would buy them first class tokunboh in Nigeria. Abi make I carry all my money give them, make them rest? I would then hire 5 domestic servants in French maid outfits to work in my mansion and serve me hand and foot.  I would contest the House of Rep election for my state, and then float a company for winning government contracts.”

I can see it now Lotto Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited. Ok o.

He was clearly enjoying himself too much, and his eyes lit up as he continued to fool himself “All my furniture for my house in Banana Island would be imported straight from England. Every room including the toilets would have an LCD TV. But I would also invest some of the money as well in ventures.”

I looked at him with my eyes open in mock surprise as I quipped sarcastically, you don’t mean it. So now you remember to invest money, 499999 pounds later. What kind of venture would this be, pray tell, O wise one?

He smiled proudly like he had just done something epic like postulating a theory in quantum physics, or deciphering the inner workings of Tonto Dike’s thought process, as he concluded: “I have always really liked alcohol and spirits. So I would open up a distillery in Ughelli, where we would bottle and export local alcohol. Forget Ciroc Vodka or even Vitamin Water, I would export Sapele Water as a premium spirit.” It is a ‘spirit’ alright.

One of my theories about human nature is thus – you can tell the character of a person by the manner and articles they spend money on when they get it. It is easier to take up a goody two-shoes, moralistic posture as a saint with a halo, when you are skint. It is the things you do, the excesses you opt for, or the discipline you show when ‘pepper rests’ that paints your true picture of your persona.

That’s why crooked politicians’ favor objects of expenditure like fast cars, faster women like runs girls or prostitutes,  insane amounts of real estate in high-brow areas and a quest to retain their mandate through selection rather than election. Wealth to them is all about enjoyment, and never about employment.  If corrupt government officials spend their illicit wealth on opening factories which employ graduates, or setting up initiatives to better the lot of the masses, they would make small sense.  But the trend is to purchase unrealistic units of real estate, which lie derelict and unoccupied because they would rather charge ridiculous sums for rent, than accept an affordable fee from tenants. There are thousands of high-end real estate lying fallow, and rooming Agama lizards and weeds in Oniru, Lekki, Maitama and Wuse. These properties are as empty as the owners.

As I sat in my flat, watching old tapes of “A Night of a 1000 Laughs”, I chuckled as I recalled  what my Britico co-workers said they would do with their winnings. Let me just say that their plans were a bit different from my Naija friend:

-          I would move from my tiny council flat in Leyton to a terrace house with a garden in Maida Vale

-          My dream is to open a center for disadvantaged and autistic kids in Brixton.

-          Esco, are you kidding me? I would call in on Monday and tell the boss to stick his job where the sun don’t shine. I would then go on a cruise with a luxury liner around Europe.

-          Men, the first thing I would do is fly out and get smashed on a lad’s holiday with all of you to Aiya Napa. Eh, Aiye wetin?

-          Oh my days! I would use of my winnings to purchase a cottage for my and my partner in Norfolk or Yorkshire

-          Norfolk or Yorkshire? Who wants to live in wet and cold Blighty? I am off to Australia or Marbella in Spain.

-          I have always wanted to do voluntary work in India and Peru, then go hiking and bungie jumping in Brazil.

-          I am happy as I am. I would keep working, and give most of my winnings to charity. I would keep just enough to pay for my funeral when I am gone.

It was a middle-aged unmarried oyibo man who made the last statement.  Everybody else thought it unusual but shrugged their shoulders, as they thought: na your ishoro be that.

In Nigeria, he would have been sent to a church for deliverance from the spirit of poverty.

And I thought to myself, maybe its best I just forget it. The lottery in life is hard work or laziness. You better your odds for success considerably by working hard at something you are passionate about, and never giving up. If I did win the lottery, there are many doors it could open for me. I could set up a foundation to fight against the work of runs girls. I could build WoahNigeria into a Disney-like conglomerate. Yes I do like cars and luxury goods, but I want something I could take with me to the grave. Not to bequeath a legacy that would make my descendants spend more time fighting in the courts for inheritance than co-existing to build something epic for Nigeria.

However I, like all Nigerians, could handle the disappointment of not winning, and still kick on regardless. In a way, we Nigerians play the lottery everyday when we vote in questionable leaders on ethnic or personal grounds; we keep gambling with our future and those of our kids by celebrating mediocrity, corruption and the illicit stockpiling of wealth. We play the most unfair and unwinnable lottery when we expect a different outcome by repeating the same mistakes that got us here in the first place. What we win is not a million pieces of silver or units of legal tender; our takings are a million steps backwards into stagnant under-development or one billion decibels of pain and frustration with our national experiment.

Needless to say, the call that I had won the lottery never did come. I reported for work on the cold, misty Monday morning, and had to contend with a few of the sad and crestfallen faces of my co-workers, especially the one who was really looking for the bachelor retreat in Aiya Napa, Cyprus. I laughed inside like, una never jam.

 

What would you do if you won or came up 1 million dollars right now.  Please be truthful and don’t try to sell a pipe dream. If you already have a million dollars, what would you do with 1 billion dollars? And if Dangote is one of my readers, good afternoon sir!

 

I would be lying if I said I didn’t want millions/

More than money saved, I wanna save children/

Common (The 6th Sense, 2000)

 

PUSH ME, I PUSH YOU

Aja in the okuko's shadow...

Aja in the okuko’s shadow…

Some years ago, on a hot summer day in the fourth year of Obasanjo’s terrible second reign, when home internet was but the preserve of the Dangotes and Ibrus of this world, Esco decided to arise and take a journey to the neigbourhood cybercafé to do some browsing.

It was a Saturday like any other – NEPA had struck, and generator noises played the soundtrack to the story of Nigeria in the background, male agama lizards and the female ones doing shakara played ‘hide and seek’ in the cracks of the walls of the houses in the street, open gutters festered in the sun with the putrid smell of hot stagnant water and piss, and a bus conductor’s aggressive voice added to the medley as he barked his advertisement “Ojuelegba! Stadium!! No change o, make you hold ya side!!’

 

I got to the cybercafé, bought a ticket and logged in. The cybercafé was very full. There were all sorts of punters there – some youngsters who came to check JAMB and exam results online; then there were a few pervs who were staring at pictures of scantily clad chicks on dodgy websites; there were the perpetual scroungers who used the web to pester their relatives overseas to send the money, then there were those who typed emails by pressing one key at a time with one finger until they exhausted their credit without finishing the email.

I was a bit crestfallen when I opened my inbox messages and there was not a new message to be had. My spam box however did not disappoint. I had various ones – one for abuna enlargement; another email announced that I had just won a lottery for $5million dollars. Wait, won’t I need to have played it first before I could win?

The last email was from some dude named Anthony Prince asking me to send 5000 dollars so that he could pay the inheritance taxes to enable him withdraw his late ex-minister father’s balance from a Swiss account. He promised to share the largesse with me. As if I would ever trust anyone with a double barreled English name like Anthony Prince. By the way why do 419 and yahoo yahoo swindlers choose ridiculous oyibo names like Prince, Don, Peterpaul, Wilberforce, Vitalis, Felix. The runs men of the 80s were money doublers.

Normally I replied 419 email by reprimanding the sender saying something like “419 is a sin o” but that day I decided to let it slide. Plus key “4” on the keyboard was broken.

I was debating whether to log out, and save the credit on my ticket for another day, when commotion broke out. Alas it was between a dude and a lass just a row across from where I was seated. They were trading insults. Remember that these were the days before YouTube.  I decided to chill and observe. Kai, where is popcorn when you need it?

Apparently the chap has been browsing when his phone rang. He left his folder on the table and stepped outside to take the call. A lady in her late 20s, had just purchased a ticket, and saw the spot empty. She then shoved the chaps folder aside, and restarted the pc, logged in, and starting surfing the web.

When the dude came back, he tapped the lady on the shoulder and tried to explain that he had been there before. The girl would hear none of it, despite the fact that some people seated around there were corroborating his story. The guy explained that he would have forfeited the space for the lady but he had an urgent email he had to send to his brother who was a business partner. He was also irritated that the lady had shoved his personal belongings aside and re-booted the PC.

Before long, a heated exchange ensued between them, and the lady started getting really abusive:

Girl: “The computer is not your personal property so why should I stand up. Abeg abeg..”

Guy: “I never claimed that it was my property. Now please stand up, as I don’t have time for this.”

Girl: “If I refuse to stand up, what will you do? Infact I am not getting up from here. Do your worst!”

Guy: “This can’t be serious.  E be like say you dey find wahala today. If you see am, you go run o”

Girl: “Wetin you fit do? If you have ten heads, touch me and see what would happen.”

This was the era of the hipster  for women. Imagine a really curvy size 16 lady in bright colored hipsters, a belly chain with hips and bakassi  that would make Toolz Oniru look like Fido Dido. She was heavily made up with her nails done like Wolverine.

Every other person in the cybercafé also quit momentarily and started watching. They seemed to be willing the parties to resort to angst-filled violence like Olisa Dibua versus the staff member of that radio station; like Jim Ikye versus the world…What is it with us Nigerians and violence?

As she argued, she stood up to tower over the guy, while showering him with expletives and spittle. From outside, the both of them looked mismatched like Julius Agwu versus Eniola “Gbo Gbo Biz Girls” Badmus. The guy held his ground, and held the arm of the chair, while wedging himself against the table, to prevent the girl from usurping the space.

The girl also held on to the headrest part of the chair, as she continued her verbal tirade: “If you are a man, try me na. I will finish you today. Shebi  na Lagos we dey. Dey here, your mates are erecting mansions in Lekki and Ikoyi, you are here paying 50 naira to browse for 30 minutes and fighting over chair. Idiot!”

The guy wiped his face, as he snapped “You are stupid for that statement. You don’t know how foolish you look wearing this undersized trouser with a tight belly chain. You look like pure water tied with rope.”

With that the girl started free-styling insults. She attacked his manhood, she abused his clothes, she said his shoe was so worn out, that the heels had chopped and had a slant like a Bobby Brown hair-cut from the 80s. She insulted the man’s handset, saying that he just carried a unit without a sim-card in it. All this while waving her hands in his face and standing over him. Her 40DDD boobs were pointing in his face like howitzers.

The man decided he had enough, so he grabbed his folder, and shoved her aside out of his way like Joseph did to Potiphar’s wife. She immediately dove to the ground, like she had been struck by an assassin’s bullet from Colonel Dimka. She started screaming and screwing her face in pain as she writhed about, with her facial expression like Davido when he sings.

“Osanobua! You have killed me o. Ah, see my face. Why did hit me. How dare you put your filthy hands on me? You are finished today. My uncle is a local government chairman. My brother-in-law’s cousin’s husband is related to a police commissioner in Edo state. You will sleep in a cell today. It will never be better for you!!”

The guy started sweating like Charles Okafor in a Nollywood film. He looked both amused and confused at the same time.

Everybody’s eyes shifted from the girl on the floor to the guy like, it is your move now.  Some people were arguing that he should have relinquished the chair to the girl. One woman was visibly pissed and gave the guy a piece of her mind for ‘hitting’ the girl. Public opinion seemed to berate the guy for putting his fingers on the girl. Like short man devil wey only get power when him see woman.

There are 3 instances when a woman can render a man defenseless in the court of public opinion. One is if she accuses you of beating or physically assaulting her (sadly, this rule may not apply in all the states of Nigeria). The second is if she accuses you of rape, whether or not you really had consensual sex. The third is if she abuses you about your lack of sexual prowess or stamina. I mean what come-back is there when an ex calls you “2 minute noodles” or “water pap.”

Silence is the best answer for a fool like you.

There are those who believe that verbal sparring with a woman is allowed as far as you do not put your hands on her in any way (including  a shove). I believe that even if you must have a verbal exchange, one way not to do it, is the way it was done in a scene in “Wild Chicks 2″ the Nollywood blockbuster   starring Tuface Idibia’s better half. Check out the action from 16.50 on the time-scale.

Meanwhile, with all the commotion, I decided that it was time for me to beat it, before EFCC would swoop on the café and arrest everybody present, and then announce on NTA’s 9’O clock news that they had busted a yahoo yahoo syndicate. I made slipped away and made a run for it like Alameisegha.

What are your opinions on what happened? Who was wrong between the two parties?

 I met a woman plus a lady that was sweet and unique/
She was no trick or no tramp, she was no freak off the street/
I was amazed, looks and attitude, I spoke of gratitude/
She wasn’t stuck up and rude, and we became cool/
From then on we leaned as friends, then as lovers/
You could be my girl, I’d be your man just forever/

 Daz Dillinger (Only For You, 1998)

These Nigerians In My Office Sef

Who are the kinds of characters that make up a typical Nigerian office? I have drawn up a list, and I must remind you that all the incidents reported below really happened, but the names of the characters have been doctored a bit. I guarantee that everyone who has worked a 9 to 5 would be familiar with at least one of the types of characters below. Enjoy….

  1. THE FORM ACTIVITY CHARACTER: This person loves to act as if he (or she) is carrying all the workload in the office or as if he is always super-busy to have time for his mere mortal co-workers. He normally moves at a 1000 miles per hour, making photocopies, punishing the keyboard by typing very loudly and talking loud on the phone to clients. Even a simple personal task like getting water from the water dispenser is done with much ceremony, like he is Moses about to part the Red Sea.

Yep this character loves to “form activity” but actually lacks any substance or depth to his persona. He usually gets found out at meetings where suggestions or reports are required. This is the type of dude to show up fully suited up with a big yellow tie which stops on his midriff on TGIF Dress-down day. He did get the memo/email to dress down, but his own akproko is too much.

I once worked with a Form Activist for a start-up firm somewhere in Lagos (won’t tell where). One day a higher-up was making his rounds in our department, as he was supervising some people working on a major project for a big Abuja investment firm. Mr. Form Activity was not involved in the project, but he was sitting in the corner typing away on his computer, making loud noises like it was an old Olivetti typewriter from the 80s and not a Dell PC. He was also flipping paper stacks and acting like he was drafting a new constitution for Nigeria or compiling a dictionary for Hon. Obiahiagbon. The co-workers in the office were looking at him like, what the hell is dude up to. Apart from the few guys working on the Abuja project, it was not a particularly busy day. Mr. Form Activity was acting up because the higher-up who was top director was around, and he wanted to look like an effico employee.

The director didn’t even seem to notice the effico guy as he was standing behind two of the guys working on the project, dictating what they should type and edit in the report they were preparing. They then tried to print the 1000 page report but the printer connected to the PC they were working on was jamming.

The director then uploaded the report onto the company database, and then without warning walked over to Form Activist’s desk so he could print from that computer which was connected to another printer.

Form Activist’s PC was switched off.

It could have been worse. He could have been nabbed playing Solitaire.

 

2.     JEZEBEL FEMALE WORKER: Woe betides you if this brutal female is your boss or supervisor. The female co-worker from hell is a staple of every office environment. If she is a spinster, her work becomes her life and she is impossible to work with. But wait it gets worse: if she is in a relationship, she brings all her marital baggage to the office. On the day her hubby slaps her, she comes into office and slaps every one with impossible tasks.

I once had a female Jezebel boss. All the workers were scared shitless of her. She  addressed a meeting where she announced to 20 anxious male lawyers and 2 cowering female ones: “Some of you are not pulling you weight in this organization. I have initiated Operation Shelltox. I will weed you out like I am pulling jigger (a nasty parasitic insect) from a villager’s foot. Everybody gulped – including the hard-workers. Banks were also laying off, you see.

I later realized that Jezebel boss’s husband was mighty frightened of her. He was a very meek looking geeky dude. The guy looked like he only went near her physically whenever it was time to procreate. He was a software engineer or so. He swung by the office sometimes to bring her things she had requested or to help with minor IT issues with the company servers.

There was a day he had come into the office and was working on a mainframe computer some desks away from me. We were the only ones in that section of the office as most of my co-workers were at clients or in the other section. The Jezebel Boss was in her office which was on the 2nd floor in the other side.

Then the telephone situated near the boss’s hubby started ringing. He refused to answer it. It rang like 7-8 more times, but dude ignored it. Then my own office line rang so I picked the phone up: “It is Esco. Who is this?”

It was Boss Jezebel on the line. She inquired without greeting “Esco is this how you greet clients when you answer the phone. Okay remind me to get at you later for this. Is Mr. Jezebel there?”

I replied in the affirmative. She then barked “Then tell him to pick up the bloody phone!” I placed the handset on the receiver.

Then suddenly the other phone started ringing again.

I looked at the hubby sitting next to it. He glanced at me with beads of perspiration and terror in his eyes. I had to break the bad news to him: “Kind Sir, it is your wife calling. She says you should pick up.”

Dude looked like I had just asked him to swallow a spoon of Worm medicine.

He picked the receiver with his hands jerking like he was about to disarm a Boko Haram bomb. This message will self-distruct….

3.  THE SOCIAL OLOFOFO: In every Naija office is some prick who treats office life as the epicenter of his/her social existence. This olofofo organizes the TGIF small chops and rice, or helps buy and distribute aso ebi material for any co-worker’s weddings or ceremonies. This olofofo even attends every single event from condolence visits to bereaved colleagues to house-warnings and naming ceremonies.

Fair enough, but what used to irk me is that the olofofo feels hurt if anyone was not on the same page with him. I know a dude who used to wait in the office after he had finished his tasks for the day “to soak in the environment and socialize with people from other departments.” Err, sorry that’s why it is called a 9 to 5. Left to me, it should be 7 to 3 because I would rather arrive early and leave early, but it is what it is. By the way GEJ is there any chance that you could sort this out. Maybe I should move to Spain.

My cousin who was a banker nearly got into it with a social olofofo who was always suggesting inconvenient Saturday “team-bonding” events. Seriously, no I am not waking up early again on Saturday morning, driving down Third Mainland to attend some bloody team work retreat about Better Customer Service and Marketing at Badagry Beach of all places. I need my Saturdays to do other things with my life. I don’t want you in my Saturday too.

Social olofofo looked visibly hurt: You have betrayed the circle of trust. And I have already ordered and deposited money for the small chops and paid for the canopies….

 4. THE OFFICE SUCK-UP: This one is always trying to curry favors with management, and will throw anyone under the bus to get a quick rise. They are a bit like the Form Activists except that they are more calculating and dangerous, and have a bit of a method to their madness. And their madness dey plenty.

They may usually snitch on their co-workers to higher-ups. But what gets my goat is that how they “seek perch.”

There was an instance where the Boss had just returned from an official trip to England and brought candy for the ladies and some really smart ties for the chaps. The office suck-up was a girl called Dupe, and she was really on a roll that day. She pranced around looking at everyone’s gifts, and remarking about how the Boss had very good taste, and how he must have spent a fortune. She even said she would not eat her candy as she was touched by the Boss’s kind gesture. Men, if that girl suddenly contracted Lassa Fever that day, she would have tried to touch the Boss’s garment to get healed. Na so her suck-up reach.

The Boss was now joking about his trip, and about the crooked Customs chaps at MMIA asking for egunje and things of that nature. He then said something.

Dupe suddenly burst out laughing loudly, and baring all her gnashers and rubbing her belly. If there was a raffia mat on the ground, she would have even rolled on the floor with laughter sef.

Everyone looked at her like she had kolo-ed or something.  The boss also had a confused look on his face too. Later on, the boss’s secretary came to get him, as he had a meeting.

When the boss was out of earshot, she drew me aside and asked me “What was the last thing he said. I really could not hear the joke.”

I replied “It was no joke at all. He said he lost his wallet with about 700 pounds in it, and he suspects he left it on the aircraft when he disembarked at Murtala Airport.”

Eh? Kilo wi?

5.  THE IT MAESTRO:

You had better be on the IT Maestro’s good side. Depending on where you work (State or Local Governments and “One Man Offices” do not count) the IT Maestro can hook you up with all the new tech stuff like wireless keyboards or a shiny slim PC monitor, or a printer which actually works and does not print smudged ink like Tie and Dye cloth.

If he hates your guts, you may end up with the fat old white computer with the dead pixels. Or a UPS system that works like NEPA. IT Guys have some kind of power in most offices, but they seem more power-drunk in Nigerian offices. Trust us, we like to exert authority whenever we are given lofty positions.

Before Blackberry phones became pure water in Nigeria, I know an IT guy who hooked up a female intern lawyer with access to the office server so that her work emails got pushed to her private phone. This was a privilege only the firm’s Partners enjoyed. I don’t know how she paid back that favor, but she always wore some saucy “push-up” bras to work. I am just saying o. Push me, I push you.

These IT guys always seem to work on a different time-zone from anyone. Late into the office, early out. In some companies, they are allowed to dress down, and their favorite garb are polo shirt, jeans, geeky glasses and a knapsack. They also like oily food.

Don’t let the Steve Urkel get-up fool you. These dudes are more vicious than Bola Koof.

A friend called Remi who was once competing for the affection of a sexy girl named Segi with an IT dude. They took their war to another level, but IT girl went “no-holds barred” when he discovered that Remi had taken Segi for dinner and movies at Silverbird the Saturday before.

The IT guy decided to play his ace-card. Remi was due to give a presentation on Private Equity Law in Nigeria to a bunch of Chinese clients in the office boardroom. Two of the firm partners were also going to be present along with interested workers of the firm, and these clients were a very lucrative account for the firm.

Remi had worked on the PowerPoint presentation for the best of one month, and had finally completed the slides the evening before. He set up the projection apparatus, and then the clients and firm partners came in and took their seats. Okay, educate us…

Err, when Remi tried to locate the files with the slides, they were nowhere to be found. He started to sweat profusely, and the partners looked on embarrassed as he fidgeted with the projector. As Remi struggled in front of everyone, sweating buckets, he looked up and saw IT guy seated at the back. He was not even supposed to be here.

IT guy gave him a knowing wink. Like, I don winch you today.

Remi avoided Segi like Boko Haram States after that.

*Please leave your comments and experiences. What kind of characters have you worked with? I need at least 30 comments o or it will be 30 more months before another article. Haha! You know I love you.

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?

 

 

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)


Happy New Year!

Flashing lights....

Happy New Year y’all! Glad we all made it to 2012! Your tracks could have been stopped in any other year, but you are in 2012! To God be the Glory!

Its funny how we take it for granted sometimes that we are in a New Year. The year 2012 itself sounds so futuristic, like a year one would have seen in one of those Sci-Fi movies to denote some cutting edge future where man became half-machine, cars were flying saucers and a robot wiped your ass for you after taking a dump in the toilet. A futuristic world where energy was produced from some kind of atomic water, solving all the world’s energy needs, so PHCN was but a bad memory. A future where people bought shuttle tickets to visit Mars, Venus and other planets, so taking pictures of your trip to Jand and Yankee and posting them on Facebook was as laughable and ordinary as it is now of posting a photo of you posing because you crossed Lagos’s border into another state.

A year where fuel subsidy would be like a bad joke, because fossil fuel was obsolete and petroleum was only used to make pomade, okwuma  and KY Jelly. 2012 would be so far ahead that toll-gates would be damn near impossible. We would be using rockets and jets to propel ourselves on inter-galactic highways in the air, and air is free, right? And it needs no maintenance or any long-term concessions to build. Eat your heart out LCC; I am fast and free.

2000 used to seem that futuristic when I was a kid growing up in the 80s. In fact people like Prince 2000, the Nigerian entertainment anchor who added the year to his name, did so to make it look like he was so ahead of his time. He was – but that was because he also wore sequined shine shine jackets with huge shoulder pads, sported a juiced up Jeri Curl perm with enough oil to fry akara for a small village, and hype the crowd by encouraging it to strike him (Hit Me! Hit Me! Hit Me!). Prince would be kicking himself now, whenever he looks at his name.

And who can remember that 80s movie whose poster featured an army commando carrying the hugest gun ever seen? The movie was supposed to best its competitors Rambo and Commando in the action movies genre. To make sure it did that, it was also given a futuristic, out of this world name: Equalizer 2000.

So we are now in 2012, I am in the mood for merry making, because I made it “back to the future.”

So how were your Christmas and New Year celebrations? Was Santa good to you? If you don’t believe in Santa, what about your sugar daddy? Was he good to you? Even if Santa wasn’t good to you,  at least Boko Haram wasn’t bad to you. That is worthy of praise to the Most High.

There lies the problem with Nigerians sometimes. We either over-count our blessings, focusing on the mundane, ahead of what should really matter; or we do not count them at all. A few days after Xmas, I was chatting with a friend of mine via BB, and I asked him how his Xmas had gone, and he replied “Terrible.”

So I inquired further “Terrible? What happened? You didn’t eat jollof rice, fried chicken and drink minerals at your folks place? Or you didn’t receive a hampa (hamper) from one of your clients? What made it terrible?”

He really couldn’t explain.

I said “ You are alive, and you can piss unassisted – that has to count for something.”

As my pastor used to say (don’t worry, I am not one to quote pastors as the sole authorities on wisdom),  it is a privilege and not a right that when you sleep, you wake up the next morning. Urinating without a dialysis is a blessing, not a right. Being able to walk and talk is not promised to anyone. These are blessings from God. And you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.

Any spirit of non-enjoyment disturbing or hampering (not Xmas  gift hamper o) your joy, I countermand and rescind it (or them) forthwith. Say Amen!

During a class, a teacher of mine some years back opined  that most Nigerians go around grumbling: I want millions and billions in the bank. I want a gigantic house with 20 en suite rooms in Old Ikoyi.  I want the phone numbers of all the top models, fresh girls and red carpet fashionistas in Lagos and Abuja, so that they could visit me for booty calls and ride me all night. I also desire all the LV and Channel bags I can carry in the crux of my elbow, and enough Brazilian weave to put She-Ra to shame. I desire 4 smart phones so that I could be on all the networks – Airtel, Glo, Etisalat and MTN, and never have to switch sim-cards between one phone when any network starts its connection ogbanje. Why was my dad a sucker, who didn’t leave an inheritance for me?

The teacher continued: “Try being sick and you will notice that health is more important than wealth, and your only pre-occupation would be how to get better. All those paper-making plans would pale in comparison.”

With that, the teacher suddenly looked up, and caught a late-comer student trying to sneak into the class from one of the back doors. He exclaimed “Get out of my class, you big fool! In fact what is your name? Ajayi Bembem? Okay you have minus 20 marks from your total to pass this course.”

By the way, that was my Philosophy lecturer.

In 2012, pay a visit to any Nigerian hospital, especially the ones in less high-brow areas. You would eat your heart out, after you have cried it out. That bridge you drive over, barely stopping except in traffic, you need to pay a visit to shanties under it, and see how poorly some people live in this unequal country. Sometime one needs to see how it is on the other side, so that you can get some perspective and be thankful for this New Year.

2012 is a new beginning, and gives us 2012 reasons to pursue our dreams 2012 per cent. So help us, God.

Happy New Year, my fellow Woah-Nigerians.

 

Say goodbye to the brainwashed/
Say goodbye to the young kids who are not smart/
Say hello to the one world…/
Say hello to the sky, something’s out there watching you and I/
..I might be old fashioned, stuck in my ways/
But nothing make me more happier than seeing today/

Nas (New World, 1999)

Gone Till November

Whether na one naira....

Ah, it is that supposed date of champions – the eleventh day of November, the year of our Lord 2011. According to the Chinese calendar (even though I prefer their cuisine to their calendars), 2011 is the year of the rabbit. It is the year of the anu nchi, the okete rat, the oke, the otapiapia. And this is the penultimate month before the year draws to an end.

Why is November very significant? It is seen as the month of stock-taking and inventory. Igbo people especially start preparing for Xmas earnestly around this time. Village homes are retouched, and invitations are sent and received concerning  upcoming Xmas events like the iwa akwa (wearing cloth ceremony), or ibankwus (traditional weddings or ‘black account’ wedding as it is so damn expensive), or other traditional carnivals. Where I am from, we have a ceremony called Mbomuzo. This should attract a global media showcase – it features traditional fireworks, people running amok, masquerades and whips. People gather in the village square and set off fireworks and dance like a crazed banshee. Food is cooked, and everyone goes from house to house stuffing their faces with all manners of delicacies. Long story, depending on whom you talk to, November can be a pre-cursor month to the good  or a stark reminder to some of how bad the year has been.

Crimes notoriously go up around this period. Yahoo yahoo guys get more desperate, and as my spam box can testify, you get inundated with scam emails, sometimes from the same person twice a day. I am getting 419 emails from the supposed Central Bank Governor of Burkina Faso. Only me?

Even our ‘wazzup” brethren, home and abroad are gearing up for Xmas, and November is a particularly busy month. There are concerts and parties coming up, so everyone is trying to make sure they are on point. Plane tickets have to be booked, free cash is needed for tripping in Lagos, and for ‘landing’ Rhythm Unplugged or Caliente or wherever is the freshest place now. People for Jand done dey do 8 a.m to 12 midnight over-time shifts, in their “per hour” jobs. People would buy tickets with stop-overs in Qatar just to get a cheap deal to be able to land Naija for Xmas.

Kidnappers also up the ante around now, snatching people and demanding kings ransoms for stolen relatives. There was a case where one kidnapped an oil worker’s daughter, and asked for 600million naira before she would be released. The oil worker abused the kidnapper: “You can get lost. No be only 600 million. Did they tell you that I am impotent and cannot have another daughter. Ewu!” and slammed the phone down on the kidnapper’s ears.

The kidnapper called him back bewildered: “Oga why you dey talk like this na. E be like say you no love this your pikin”

The oil worker was not swayed “So because na my pikin make I go kill myself? How much her husband go give me when them dey pay dowry for her head? Abeg, abeg, I dey busy”

With that he terminated the call pronto.

The kidnapper called him a few days later, but the oil guy cut the phone without picking it up.

When the kidnapper saw that he was not ready to play ball, his price dropped by more than 3000 per cent: “Oga oya, abeg pay N50,000. We don spend money on credit dey call you. And this your butta pikin dey only chop Indomie noodles for here. We go even charter taxi wey go drop her for your front gate when we dey release am.Abeg, do, make we too chop. Country hard.”

After much deliberation and haggling, the rogue settled for 10 grand, and the guy’s daughter was released to him unscathed. She had even gained small weight, sef. Ogboju pass power.

So how has your year been so far? Have you taken stock? Are there any things you would have done differently? Did you achieve your goals or anything significant? Maybe you got to travel out of Nigeria for the first time and now your Facebook followers have been regaled to tears with photos of you on the desert dunes and gold shops of Dubai. You even brought them some grains of sand from the UAE as a sample. Or you made your first trip to Ghana, and now you insist that everyone call you Kwaku Frimpong. Perhaps this year, you officially became a land-owner in the dire straits of Lekki, albeit in a shanty ridden outpost on the outskirts of Ajah, surrounded by swampy jungles, with your plot land-locked by 2 flooded square meters of land. Or it could be that maybe this year you broke bank and limb to go for your Masters degree in the U.K, even though Mama Charlie and Davido Cameron are desperately trying to get rid of your likes. Or did you marry your aristo boyfriend finally this year? Or you started a business, or revamped your faith, or moved jobs (from banking to wherever – it seems an upgrade nowadays) or your wife gave birth to junior, and he has your big conk and elephant ears. Whatever it is, are you glad with here you are, this November? Whether you own millions or a Yipee tank, at least you are alive.

How has it been for me? Well I am my worst critic. I get sad on my birthdays (except my 18th one where I celebrated my independence) or my 26th one (more about that one in a later post, promise). I am not really a fan of the whole birthday wishes, singing ‘Many Happy Returns’, posts on Facebook and celebratory wishes kind of thing. Girls I have dated used to be amazed at how moody and reflective I got on my birthday. One gave me a gadget I had really always wanted, but all I really desired that day was for my father to remember and give me a call. When he did, it brightened my mood. Sad I know.

So I am not a fan of birthdays. This year has been so and so for me. I brushed up on a new language and how to write it – pidgin English. Let me give you an example. I will translate this into pidgin: Oh happy days, I am mighty glad that I am quite proficient at Pidgin English. Shonkongbelete o, nothing do me for pidgin English,

I do wish my career had gone differently – these days engineers and accountants seem to have more job flexibility. A pharmacist I know, chooses jobs on a whim, and a physical therapist friend of mine works on her own schedule, sometimes on 20 hour weeks, earning up to 150k (dollars) per annum. My godmother passed away this year; it was at her house I had that sliding door/Superman crash that I mentioned in an earlier article. She was a darling. She bought me my first house-coat as a kid, with my name engraved on it, ala Hugh Hefner. She was a very elegant lady, the likes of which are getting extinct in this country. A very dainty lady with a smile for everyone. She never lost her cool, not even when she was very upset. Someone once confronted her with evidence that her son has stolen another kid’s lunch box (bread and Geisha) at school. She simply replied “That is preposterous! As if my son would ever eat fish from a tin – he knows better than that.”

Elbows off the table, she would instruct at the dinner table. She taught me the cursive form of handwriting and how to pronounce words properly, when I was just a little bairn.  The day I heard she died, I wrote 2 of my most popular articles then cried bucket loads for days afterwards.

Rest in peace Aunty C.

How has your year been so far? Me, I have had a life you could write a blog on.

No Vex

Yawa!

Sometime ago, my cousin who lives in England, received an official correspondence from a professional organization that I am affiliated with, addressed to me, because I had used her address as a forwarding address. It was a copy of a replacement certificate of membership which I had ordered from them at a cost off course.

Unfortunately, when my cousin was trying to open the envelope to see what was included in the mail, she mistakenly tore the upper part of the certificate. The next time I saw her, she handed over the torn certificate with an apology and a cheque for 25 pounds for me to order a replacement certificate. I looked at the cheque, and dreamed of all the things I could do with it –  purchase a new bottle of cologne (Emporio Armani Diamonds by Armani, which was new at the time); squander all of it on kebabs and chips and a bottle of wine, buy a pair of slip-ons from Clarks, load my mobile phone and call Naija, enter Poundland and buy 25 bucks worth of candy for people in Naija who were waiting for ‘Janded’ stuff; sow (or sew) it into someone’s life in Nigeria; blow it buying 2 packet shirts at the NEXT clearance sale on Oxford street; renew my subscription to 442 magazine; buy a kpanjo phone without camera from Phones 4 You, and use it as a spare phone to put my MTN sim-card; ‘repatriate’ the 25 pounds back to Nigeria and utilize it on next summer as forex.

As you may have noticed, none of my thoughts went to ordering a replacement certificate. But deep down within me, I knew I could not accept the 25 pound check from my cousin. No be her fault say the certificate tia (tear). But I was amazed at her willingness to take responsibility and attempt to make amends by apologizing and handing out payment for a replacement.

Many people in Naija would label her a mugu, and me a bigger mugu (maga) (the superlative term for mugu is maga) for rejecting the free-fall cheque. In Naija, many people fail to take responsibility for their actions. They just gloss over their wrong-doing, offer lame excuses and throw an abject apology towards the victim if he or she persists for too long. I have even seen where someone apologized, and when the victim insisted on compensation, the person retorted “Fuck you jor”.

The above example is a simple illustration but study our national life. Hardly do you see somebody hold up his/her hand and accept that he or she has erred.

Have you heard of a guy called Lawrence Anini? You have? Okay, what about Monday Osunbor? Maybe or probably not. Do you know why the name Anini would forever live in infamy in Nigerian memories? He was the Jesse James of his time – a reckless armed robber and car tif (thief). He terrorized the old Bendel State, robbing, killing, looting and pillaging. Osunbor was his side kick, and the muscle of the operations.

When they got caught, Anini the ‘strong-man’ of the Bendel State criminal underworld was singing like a tolo-tolo. A forgettable memory of the period following the capture of that infamous gang is NTA news footage of Anini begging for forgiveness from the Nigerian public. This dude who had slaughtered many innocent victims, swore that he had turned a new leaf since his capture, and would be a model citizen if released.

This nigga is talking now about turning a new leaf. But what about people you and your blood gang murdered and robbed. The difference between Anini and Osunbor, is that while Anini was pussyfooting trying to curry public sympathy, Osunbor manned up, and was ready to face the consequences. In fact Osunbor last words were for a message to be delivered to the youths of the time to shun crime and fast money. Today, the name ‘Anini’ is the definitive word for thief or rogue or ole, the same way Indomie defines noodles, Maggi means all kinds of stock cubes, once it is blue detergent powder in Nigeria, it must be Omo (much to the chagrin of Elephant Blue Detergent).

Osunbor is just another Edo surname, confined to the subconscious of Nigerian people’s memories.

And it is not just criminals in Nigeria who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. The ordinary man on the street just wants to gloss over his wrongdoings. And why won’t he? He watches our politicians lie, squeal and tell half-truths, get caught and blame it on the work of saboteurs. No Naija politician has ever resigned out of disgrace or scandal. In fact up to 2004, and I stand to be corrected, Ebitimi Banigo, a former Minister of Science and Technology is the only Nigerian politician to have ever resigned on a matter of principle. Catch a  Nigerian politician on camera with a Ghana-Must-Go bag filled with cash with his pants down being fellated by a ‘runs’ girl in a dingy Abuja hotel, and he would swear that it wasn’t him, and blame it on photo-shop.

Our everyday life is based on passing the buck. You are stuck in traffic on a hot summer afternoon on a busy street in Lagos, and someone upends your car, cracking the bumper into 2 and smashing the brake-lights.

The person gets down from his car, assesses the damage and puffs out his gorilla chest as he mutters: “Sorry o” and he dangles his keys impatiently. Some people do not even cut out their engine, when they come down to inspect a damage that was their fault.

And to him, ‘sorry’ should be the end of the matter. If you persist that you and he exchange insurance papers (if you are brave enough for kasala) or that he pays for the damage, the idiot may further throw you the only apology in the world that sounds like an insult “Sorry na!” Pscheeeww!

If it is a bus or okada driver who wrecked your motor, he may even try to prostrate, and bide his time until back-up arrives. Then you would be royally fucked.

And you are like, dude, the last time I checked, sorry never fixed a Mercedes Benz rear grill. Or a Kia Rio one for that matter.

I was in a car once with my friend’s older brothers, and we were driving into a paid parking lot on Marina when a man in his 50s was backing up from a lot and crashed into our slick Honda vehicle. The man got down, ‘begged’ and tried to convince my friend’s brother to forgo asking for a repair. The gash was really bad, and the car door couldn’t even shut. The man said that he had just come to distribute some wedding IVs for his daughter’s wedding. He then asked us to forget about the crash, and shoved some IVs into our hands, inviting us to the wedding as ‘special guests’ to come and eat, drink and be merry. The wedding reception was at Onipanu that Saturday. We were all weak.

I mean, we like red party jollof rice, but not that much. Please fork out money for our  car repair.

This happened to me, and as the guy kept on saying ‘sorry’ it was really beginning to piss me off. His ‘sorry’ just made me madder like Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the below scene from the 1996 classic Pulp Fiction. I double-dare you to say ‘sorry’ one more time

So what is it about our national psyche that makes us reluctant to bear responsibilities for mistakes or wrong-doing? I remember reading an edition of Island News where this 45 year old carpenter was arrested when neighbors caught him sleeping with his 12 year daughter, Can you believe that this brute tried to put up a defence? He first said that he only slept with her after their mum died and he needed ‘companionship’, and he only did it once. He even tried to blame the girl, by saying that the girl was dressing provocatively?! Your own daughter?  This dude should have had a stone put around his neck, and chucked off 3rd Mainland bridge, so he could swim with the fishes.

Or did you guys hear about the LASU dudes that raped a girl. Never ever once where they apologetic for their crime. Please peruse their explanation in this link, and see if you can trace any ounce of remorse or sense of responsibility in their confession.

The part that irked me most was one of the rapist’s cry that “I regret everything because it has landed me in big trouble. Unfortunately, my father is not alive to bail me out of this. Please help me beg Sandy to forgive me.

Note that he does not regret the pain and anguish he had caused the rape victim. Bail you out? We need more fathers like Mutallab’s own.

The Nigerian psyche and cultural inclinations are to think that apologizing profusely, throwing one’s self on the floor, and passing the buck to Satan, claiming that it is the devils work, shows remorse. Someone takes responsibility and doesn’t try to shirk the blame is seen as a hardened criminal. Bystanders would remark ‘This man dey very wicked o’

In boarding school, a Form 3 student was caught stealing a box of Golden Morn and a tin of Nido powdered milk. His modus operandi was that he would wait till it was time for student’s assembly, then scale into the dorms, and break into people’s lockers. The guy was caught by the house captain and taken to the school captain’s quarters where he received a thorough beating from some prefects.

As the thief sobbed uncontrollably and begged for mercy, the school captain asked him” Next time, when you see someone else’s belongings, what would u do?

He replied as he swallowed huge tears “I would run in another direction.”

The school captain further inquired as he brandished a huge scratcher (a cane made up of twisted metal hangers) “What direction?”

The thief answered “The opposite direction!”

He was released with a warning and not forwarded to the house-master for suspension, as was customary.

Another guy was caught stealing a few weeks later. The prefects gathered and flogged him, but he didn’t shed a tear or ask for forgiveness, not even once. As they thrashed with scratchers and belts, dude manned up and didn’t show any emotion. He was beaten to a pulp and then suspended.

It even starts from childhood. A kid was caught stealing meat from a pot of egusi soup, and he denied an intent. I was just checking the temperature of the soup.

Recently, my friend and his wife and kids came over to my place to visit us. His 3 year old son, Rasaki, was a bit of a brat. Remember my 40-inch Sony Google TV? This boy kept trying to climb the glass TV stand, and hold on to the television set. He tugged at it once, and it looked like it would heave over and smash. My girl was gracious and smiley, but I wasn’t finding it funny at all as I swallowed. If that TV got smashed, you could bet your bottom dollar that the boy’s kids would not offer to replace it. Their defence would be ‘Eiyaa, sorry, but he is just a child.”

I had to act fast by tempting him away from the telly. So I called out “Rascal kid, Rasaki, come and take biskit (biscuit).”

He ran towards me….and away from the TV. It worked.

 

 

To the families, I never meant to cause no pain/
I know the truth, but if you want, then I shoulder the blame/

Puff Daddy (Pain, 1997)

Andrew’s Kpali

Over-seas, under-g


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nas (Ghetto Prisoners, 1999)

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

 

You Dey Make Me Kolo

Hello, hello

Now, that I have gotten your attention with the above picture, if you are ready, we can settle into the topic for today.

I was listening into a radio show on the Verastically Livin‘ blog, and the subject was on male toasting and all its epic failings. Apparently Naija fellas are supposed to score low on this most important of tasks. Ah, it is this topic of toasting again, huh? I know this is a much flogged topic, one which I had opined on before in my older article – Toast A Nigerian Girl. However, with Nigeria tethering on the brink, I want to contribute my bit to fostering national unity by promoting ways to make love not war.

It is hard to blame some guys for falling short when it comes to chatting up girls. One reason may be that some girls are really really hot, and you get your words muddled up trying to form sentences in their lovely presence. Look at the above picture – how would you start a conversation with a broad like that. If you told her that you were toasting her because you are attracted to her intellect, even she would know that you are telling porkies Would you approach her with a starter like ‘I love how you do the dishes’ or would you say your mind (I just wanna love you) and risk a rebuke ? Can you see that being yourself does not always work when it comes to chatting a chick up?

I will be frank -my liver has failed me a couple of times when approaching chicks so I tend to rely on my charm (not charms or black magic oh). I once sat next to a brown skinned beauty at an event. She asked me for my name, and I replied Antonio without thinking. I had been watching Wild Rose, that popular Mexican soap on TV the night before, so the name of one of the characters came to my mind when I was asked my nomenclature. Yep, she was so fine that I forgot my own name. Don’t be mad if your looks had not had that effect on someone.

Then some weeks later, I was at The Palms, when I heard someone shouting “Antonio, Antonio!” and whistling to get my attention.

I turned around, and it was the girl from the event. She was panting slightly and was a bit upset, because she had been running after me.

I had forgotten my own name! She invariably later found out that Antonio wasn’t my real name, and that killed anything between us before it could start.

Most guys get their names correct of course, but that is all they do right.

There was this chap who was trying to chat up this really beautiful girl at a kiosk in front of his office. She was clad in the tightest skirt suit and killer heels, while he was sweating profusely from doing marketing runs for his bank all morning. She had just bought a soft drink and was about to leave. He didn’t know what to say so he said ‘So you like Fanta orange too.”

Corny, but the girl thought it was rather sweet (him, not her bottle of Fanta).

So she smiled, and the ice was broken. They started a long convo, hooked up on a date, and dated for 2 years.

The problem with this ‘woo-ing’ thing is that there is too much onus (not anus) on guys during the process to make things happen. Girls expect a guy to have smooth lyrics, drop ‘word’ that would hold their attention, make them laugh, hang around or constitute a general nuisance.  Did you see all the hassle Kevin Jame’s character had to go through in the Will Smith movie ‘Hitch’?

What is a girl supposed to be doing all this while? What is she bringing to the table? After all, she has a fair bit to gain as well. A guy may be saying or doing the right things but it takes two to tango. If a lass is not sending the right messages or giving the right vibes, it may put a guy off. And that in no way diminishes a guy’s toasting skills. The perfect analogy would be a joke I once heard Basketmouth the comedian crack at one of his concerts. He said that when he performs at a show, if some people in the audience don’t laugh, then it isn’t his fault as he always does his best with his performance.  If they don’t laugh, it is because their personal problems are more than his jokes. And in that case, he wouldn’t be able to do anything for them.

Sometimes, you call or BB a girl you are interested in, and she would ask something like ‘What’s up? Any better or any gist?’ like you should be a steady form of amusement for her. Dead uncomfortable silence…….

I once had a girl come over, get comfy on my sofa, and give me an ultimatum ‘Esco, I have come to see you. So entertain me or I would never come here again.’

I switched on the television, and changed the channel to E!. There you go.

I have noticed that what guys and ladies expect in the ‘toasting process differs. Men want to get it over and done with quickly. We actually want maximum returns for minimum effort –  we like less talk and more action, get it?

Women prefer a long drawn out toasting process where you have to prove that you have got what it takes. They want to be ‘wooed’ ‘flattered’ wined, dined, then caressed, which all takes too much time and resource; besides there are  a few girls who don’t mind it being in the reverse order – caressed, dined, whined, flattered, then scattered. Guys prefer the latter category, understandably.

Some girls just don’t want to be talked to – they want to be toasted. You may be called a slacker for just being open, and taking your time to know a lass. You may be labeled other names for trying to do things the convenient way.

There was this girl I had met at a networking conference years back. We just vibed, and exchanged numbers, then started exchanging SMSs frequently. There may have been a little attraction.  We decided we would meet for a date – movies and food. The problem was that the girl lived in Ogudu, while I stay in Ajah. This was around the time when there were really congested road-works going on Lekki-Epe expressway which would take me about 4 hours or more to get to her crib. I asked home-girl if she could meet me halfway – take a cab to Surulere. I would come and get her there, and take her to the Island for our day out. Then I would drop her at home in Ogudu in the evening. That way, we could maximize quality time spent together, rather than wasting it in traffic. Logical right?

The girl blatantly refused saying that I was trying to short-change her “Esco, you want to do things the easy way. You must come and pick me up from my father’s house if you want to take me for a date. You must go through all the processes if you want to take me out. I am not easy.”

Who said anything about anyone being easy?

This reminds of when a friend of mine mis-yarned by blurting out the wrong thing to a girl he was chasing at the time. She was a real down-to-earth easygoing type of girl, so he used to take her to Mr. Biggs and Bank Olemoh Designer Rice for dates. He was so appreciative of the fact that she wasn’t a greedy type of girl that he remarked one day “Titi, this is the reason I like you. Whenever we go to Mr. Biggs, you always order only one donut, and you don’t even ask for mineral. I have been telling my friends that you are a cheap date. I like that.”

The girl was like ‘Huh?’ She lost her cool, laidback nature and upped her ante – she always demanded for Double Four  afterwards.