One of the distinct disadvantages of writing is that sometimes sarcasm is lost in between the lines, and may come across as bitter sour grapes. I hope this turns out right.
I won’t lie, I wasn’t aware of when the Nigerian Bug Awards took place. I was on baby duties that evening, and the infant was on a roll churning out soiled diaper after soiled diaper. When I managed to get the wee one to sleep in my arms, I transferred her to her cot and did a small victory dance. I then tip-toed to watch the Copa America football tournament on TV in the living room. I fell asleep on the sofa, only to woken up by the baby’s loud yells of “Bros, I never chop for 3 hours o! Come give me food abeg before I tear down the walls with cry cry” Similac or Cerelac?
Nah seriously, the next morning, I saw the Nigerian Awards results on my twitter-feed, and spat out my Golden Morn cereal. I went through 3 different emotions. The first one was a Buhari type of disappointment. I was really hoping that somehow that maybe a true juggernaut blog like BellaNaija had re-entered the competition at the eleventh hour and swept all the awards deservedly. Thinking back, initially I was a bit surprised that none of the blogs on my blog-roll was nominated in the first place. Not only did I not win, but my judgment has been called into question.
I have read some truly awesome blogs, some of which I decided to add to my blog wall. From the direct and tell it as it is “Ms Luffa” to Waila Caan’s awesome diary of London and the quirky happenings on the Tube, to RustGeek’s quirky musings about life in freezing Aberdeen, to Today’s Naira which is a very welcome blog about financial management and fiscal discipline in today’s Nigeria. Then there is Stuff Nigerians Hate, a blog I really like with its dark comedy and spoofs. And I also have to mention one of the most well put together online journals about Nigerian and UK weddings, the Wedding Trendy blogsite. The videos on the 4AcesDate blog are some of the most creative stuff I have seen on a blog too. In fact all the blogs on my wall were painstakingly chosen blogs which are unique and have my respect; and I had nominated them for various categories. Awesome blogs all.
I later got over it, because I somehow reasoned that I had lost the popular vote. I may have been a bit lax in canvassing for votes; understandably, but a part of me feels it is corny to go all out soliciting for votes. Your body of work should speak for you always, innit? To be fair, I try to read a little bit of everything, and would click on most links to blogs when I am on more popular websites. I fancy stuff that is different and thoughtfully written – material that can challenge my brain cells and my perception on matters, and open up new frontiers of knowledge.You can always tell when a blogger writes from the heart. Heart is what blogging is about. If you use your isi or ori , to write blogs, your articles would read like Physics for SS3. I also prefer Indie blogs which are not on the mainstream.
But you know how sometimes something unfortunate happens to you, and you try to brush it under the carpet, but well-wishers and friends actually won’t let you because they are genuinely hurt for you, and appalled by the sense of injustice surrounding the whole matter? And as a result, their anger re-ignites yours, as you begin to really see their point of view? Well it happened to me, after I had brushed off my initial disappointment. I clicked on a link on the Nigerian Blog Awards’ twitter feed, which directed me to their website, and I saw the touching comments of some of you readers there. Some of my dear blog readers had left comments complaining about the fact that I had not won! You guys know that I love you, right? I love you like Agege bread and fish stew, I love you like house flies love Mushin dustbin; I love you like Buhari and Presidential election. Heck, I heart you more than Dangote loves cement. Shout out especially to Stelzz and Tinkerbell.
At that point, I picked up my pen and paper and started to write this (actually I looked for an old receipt code for a Cyber Café near my house, then went there and logged in).
The last time people showed me this kind of concern where they “were drinking Panadol for my sickness” was way back in secondary school. It was a balmy night in boarding school when I was in Form 3. We had finished exams for the 2nd term, so everybody was in a crazy mood later that evening during prep. When you have a motley crew of 100 jobless adolescent boys with nothing to read for, it is a recipe for disaster. Some started drumming loudly on the classroom desks. A few broke into some kind of Indian war dance. Many started slapping junior students about. And a good few started smashing coke and soft drink bottles about. Food fight! But without liquid contents only.
Then 2 chaps got into a fight in the classroom quadrangle outside over some petty issue. Chaps gathered around them urging them on in gladiator fashion with the chants “It is a rack! It is a rack!!” With their Clarks sandals, dirty clothes, and one of them still wielding a fork (from the dining hall), they did look like gladiators from the Spartacus series. All that remained was a net (mosquito net) and a lion to devour the loser (our strict Boarding House Master would suffice).
I was rushing out from one of the classes to ‘add’ my own quota to the fight, adrenaline pumping and all, when I stepped, full weight, on a huge shard of glass. All I saw was blood everywhere – the glass which was from one of the smashed bottles had sliced through my bathroom slippers and cut me inches deep.
The two chaps racking postponed their tussle, and everybody now gathered around me. One of the chaps there took a look at my bloodied foot and yelled in horror:
“Oh shit! Esco, you are mortally wounded. That wound doesn’t look good at all. It is so deep that I can see your nerves and bone”
Some people took a look, and the expression of their faces was that of doom and anguish. One of the fighters even started crying.
I echoed what I had heard, as I was in shock “Oh damn! I am really mortally wounded. My nerve and bone are showing. If I die, what am I going to tell my ma? She will be really pissed that I was so careless to step on a bottle”
Everyone nodded in agreement – I was royally screwed.
Then one chap, who was sort of a school captain wanna-be goody-two-shoes type, shoved his way into the circle, and took a look at the cut. He started calming things down “Relax Esco, don’t try to pull your foot up. We will rush you to the House Master, and get an exeat to take you to the school hospital. Someone should bring a clean handkerchief, let me bind this wound and stop the bleeding. Esco you are not mortally wounded. You will be alright.”
With such a calming influence directing things, boys dispersed into groups. Some arranged for the exeat, some got a hanky and water to dress my cut. They all followed me to the hospital, and waited in the waiting lounge until I came out – sewn and bandaged, and no worse for wear. Eiyaa, I was moved – if I had broken a bone, I could have allowed them sign on the cast as a reward. Too bad, they can’t sign on plaster – it would be painful suicide. Good fellas, my ex-school mates huh? My misery even settled a dangerous fight, see?
That was the last time people I was not friends with bumped their heads over my matter.
From reading various blogs after the awards, there seems to be a general feeling of dissatisfaction at the results. Some bloggers who were upset about the outcome of the awards have blamed it on the emergence of “Twitter” or celebrity bloggers who garner votes by the sheer number of friends they could galvanize via social medium networks to sway voting in their favor. In one blog I read, the upset writer said that he wasn’t surprised at what he termed ‘rigging’ as Nigeria itself recognizes quantity over quality.
I couldn’t help but agree with that slightly. In Nigeria if enough people make noise about something persistently, it easily sways people’s perception on what should go. I would give the simplest example. I did my NYSC 3 week orientation in a small town in Cross River state some years back, although I got a transfer to Lagos for my primary assignment and for the rest of the service year. Those 3 weeks in Cross River were priceless moments though. I and small posse of friends from one particular infamous platoon strode like colossuses in the camp. We made a particular Mammy market joint our spot and chilled there while other people were doing back wrenching tasks. We bought the soldiers beer in exchange for camp privileges. Some other people started hanging out at the spot because of us, and the patron was pleased at the amount of custom we were bringing her so every morning she would ask us what we wanted her to cook for the day, and that became the day’s menu.
Now my close friend Chidi really fancied a chick in our platoon – a butter-skinned, full hipped beauty by the name of Ify. Who could blame him; Ify made the NYSC uniform look like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. She had curves like a Blackberry. We decided among my clique that she was going to be the next Miss Camp, and that we were going to sway the votes in her favour. We gathered a group of hangers-on who chanted her name furiously during the NYSC beauty pageant show. Our group whistled and booed other contestants until the judges were dizzy themselves. Soon most people in the crowd started supporting our candidate by cheering for Ify and booing the contestant in their own platoon! Ultimately the panel of judges was swayed into making Ify Miss Camp. She would have been better suited for Miss Ramp, if such an award ever existed, but alas the people had spoken. The hug and kiss she gave Chidi when she was presented with her ‘crown’ and prizes was priceless. For him.
The next night, we repeated the process for the Miss Hot-Legs pageant. A social-climber girl had approached us to beg and bribe us with beer to help ‘support’ her bid to win Miss Hot-Legs. We huffed and puffed during the pageant but everything has a limit. She ended up as first runner-up even though she had short yamerous pins. Abi we no try? Some of the presidential and governorship aspirants should really have contacted me.
After I saw the results of the Blog Awards and the way some of you stood up for me, the last emotion I felt was a sense of injustice towards the award process. In fact I felt like Arnold Schwarzzenegger’s character in the movie Total Recall, and wanted to echo what he did and screamed out in the below movie scene, to the Award process:
Nah seriously, I have taken everything into perspective. It is not that important in the grand scheme of things. Not to sound corny, but your comments and hits on my blog are enough for me. By the way, please buy the book when it’s up for sale.