For goodness sake…

Eddie Murphy once quipped that the loneliest and utmost venue for self-reflection is the bathroom, especially if you are doing a number two. Reason being, is that you are alone with your thoughts, with the soothing sound of your faeces hitting the toilet water for company. If you need to go on a diet, your love handles and girth will advise you of this need, as there is nothing as unflattering as one perched on a water closet bowl.

For me, bathroom time is bliss on earth, especially my night regimes. It is my personal time, as I like to think of making a hit, while taking a shit. I also see it as a forum for cleansing myself of the toils, soils and foils of a busy day, as I replenish my physical essence in the fragrance of pomade, fluoride and eau de toilette (pun intended).

Besides, I am as socially awkward as a friendly leper. My lack of social graces gets worse in confined spaces like a public bathroom. For me there is something mightily disagreeable about other users trying to make small talk about the weather or economy in an office toilet facility while I am trying to desperately aim my crooked penis at the urinary bowl. Mess around and get bathed in my salty urea, as I can’t shoot straight for toffee.

If I waltzed into a gents’, and someone I knew was there already say washing his hands at the sinks after a poo poo, I grunted my greetings and edged past the usurper straight to the urinary cubicle. I try to wait until dude left the room, before I proceeded to wash my hands. Sometimes with these over-friendly folk, it is a waiting game of who blinks first. Like dude, I am still here – you can shit your bowels out now.

By the way, what is the correct spelling for faeces, as Microsoft Word’s spell check disagrees with my construction of the word at every turn.

I spent my formative years in boarding school, as my parents conveniently subcontracted the stress of raising me to a bully of a housemaster who wore baggy khakis and a big belt buckle,  like the court clerk from Ichoku.  Of all the most unbearable things about boarding house life, the toilets were the worst experience, and I still have nightmares from sneaking into a toilet early one morning, only to be confronted by a Pied Piper of Hamelin type rat taking a bath in a commode full of semi-solid waste. Talk about eating where you shit at.

Unfortuately I am sometimes still forced to use public  conveniences either at work or at eateries, when my stomach decides it cannot keep down the TV dinners I spend my lunch money on these days. I have also had a few inconsiderate house guests over, and I find that bathroom users fall broadly into the following 5 categories.

  • Folk (inconsiderate albeit) who leave skid-marks in the toilet bowl after doing their business. I once told a story of how I bounced out of a house party full of glorious spread, because the bathroom facilities were a disgrace. There was no logical way a home could have produced kitchen grub that good, and a convenience that gross.
  • Those who shower like they are on a home irrigation project. I once walked into the bathroom of a flat I was sharing with some students and I saw an amount of water that looks like it was what the Titanic displaced when it sunk.
  • People who shed hair. On the toilet seat. Perhaps a memento or a some kind of sickly keepsake for the next punter? Pubic hair surely cannot be that long and nappy?
  • Users who grunt and pant during the defecating process, like they are birthing a giant infant.
  • Normal folk like me, who are considerate and tidy users, with the added ability to hit opera type notes while singing in the shower.

So there you have it.

Please Don’t Kill My Vibe

When knowledge is distorted, violence is resorted

When knowledge is distorted, violence is resorted

Being a public figure in Nigeria requires one to be thick-skinned. Like bokoto that just would not go tender when the heat is on. A life of celebrity in our dear country is a calling for those who strongly desire fame, adulation and fortune, above the scrutiny and invasion it brings.

Trolls (see definition below) have been winding up celebrities, since the days of Mungo Park. Let us start with 1995.  Video jockeys Keke-Kenny and D-One used to host a music request call-in program on Raypower. This was during the “It is a Fubu, mehhn” era.

A listener called in, garnishing the hosts with faint praise “I like your show. You two remind me of my two favorite American acts…”

“Thank you o. Which ones?” Keke inquired, with a prodding eagerness in his voice.

“Beavis and Butthead!!”

The radio duo retaliated with curses on the mischevious caller, and then cut him off, as the program went to paid adverts.

Years later, there was a night-time movie program on DBN TV channel called “Night-Shift”, where callers could nominate a movie out of a line-up which was then aired based on votes. It was a very popular program, as the movies showed were new box-office hits, and it was either that or a struggle to find that movie to rent at Video-Mart. Some new blockbuster movies required “man-know-man” connections before you could locate them for rent. So the “Night Shift” was a welcome alternative.

Two different presenters alternated hosting responsibilities – a pretty dark-skinned lady named Eva, along with a showman type dude called Galilee.

Some mischievous callers made Eva and Galilee’s work hellish.

One criticized Galilee’s ankara shirt, and safari suit fashion choices on live TV, causing him switch to up the next day. He looked crestfallen the next day.

Another caller tried to chat up Eva on live TV too, by telling her she was kinda cute and asking for her phone number.

Then another day, a caller phoned in. He was trying to get fresh with Eva, but she stayed professional, and started outlining the choice of movies: “We have a nice line up today. You have a choice to vote for one of the following movies: Armageddon, Con Air, Face/Off, Air Force One, Enemy of the State. Make your choice..”

The caller’s choice was exact “You.”

Trolling in the context I am speaking about is sending a barb in a public forum to a public figure, with the intention to ridicule, humiliate or draw the subject into an unsavory reaction. Some trolls get a kick out of getting a rise out of celebs. These days, it is more usual on the internet, and is a virtual form of winching someone. It is the physical equivalent of poking an animal at rest with an electric prod. Unwell-wishers from your village send otumokpo, or jazz your way if they are not pleased with your stature in life.  Trolls send an electric electronic comment to your Instagram page or a Tweet fit for a twat.

Trolls used to do it in person, back in the day. I was once a show at Lagbaja’s Motherland at Opebi Ikeja where comedians were performing. One guy from the crowd tried to heckle Ali Baba, the grand guru of Nigerian stand-up comedy when he came on stage, by yelling “Baba, abeg go chop shit jare! You no funny!”

Babanla mistake of life. Ali Baba faced him squarely, and finished him with yabs. The heckler was soon moved to tears, and even the crowd pleaded on his behalf, like “Ali , e don do, abeg leave am” I muttered under my breath “Ali bomaye”

With advent of online forums, the widespread use of the internet, and the popularity of smart phones (which makes some people do un-smart things), almost anyone has access to online media content. At the drop of a hat. Or at the re-charge of a phone. The flipside of that is that everyone is seeing everyone, everywhere and in every way. Celebrities or those in the public eyes are just one “Iphone send-button” away from a reducer, an insult or unwarranted criticism from viewers operating under the cloak of anonymity or from a social media account created just for that sole purpose. Sometimes an amebo who knows the celebrity personally may choose to reveal their life-story on a social forum even though the celeb has not appointed anyone to commission an official biography. And boy do we lap it up. Stories of alleged runs-girlism, or adulterous rumps or bankruptcy are shared about the public figure, some of which are frivolous at best.

Anyone with wifi connection could tell you what Buhari wore last week, or how many Boko Haram fundamentalists were slain in a counter-attack by the Nigerian Army, or where Tiwa did her baby shower, and the amount of grains in each sachet of the Koko Garri D’Banj launched last year, You get the feeling that some people set out to trip up those in the public eye. It is a sport, and you need not show your face.

And celebs react in different ways. Some face their detractors head on, like Sallah rams at war. Some ignore the trollish behavior. Some seem to court it, as infamy is still a form of fame. Like the fire needs the air, I won’t burn unless you are there.

A certain mixed-race TV presenter whose first name rhymes with Oleku, has to be the most dignified celeb in Nigeria. Oleku put up a photo of herself on Instagram and one abuser criticized she had no breast and no bakassi. Her response was dignified like “Really bruv?” It was uncalled for – just like flashing someone

Other celebs react like a cornered catfish if you drop a bad comment on their social media page. One famous video vixen whose first name rhymes with Sunita really dishes it back immediately with blind fury like a blindsided buffalo. Like, your papa! She does not hesitate to decend into the arena if a follower tries to come at her sideways.

If it is a criticism of their professional work, then maybe it is fair enough and should be aimed at them at their area of operation ie a stage, football pitch etc. If for example leave a comment on his Instagram page that, Dr Sids “Chop Ogbono” tune has no draw (no pun intended), is that taking it too far?  On the flipside, if you complain about the way Davido screws his face up when singing, like he is trying to extract juice from a dry orange, is that a legit criticism of his craft, or does that go too far? Is a celeb fair game for any kind of verbal attack, since it is part and parcel of their profession?Personally I feel it is putting bad karma out there.

Maybe it is best to have a therapy session in the comments, where you let it all out for all posterity.

No matter who you be, dem must to talk about you/
Dem go sit down for corner just dey dissect you/
They analyze you/
Some of them go criticize you/
Some of them go idolize you/

M.I. featuring 2face Idibia (Nobody, 2010)



I am Igbo and I am proud, and these days I want to shout it from a zinc rooftop, like a village cockerel. No disrespect to other ethnic groups, as there are plenty things to admire about them too.

You have to love how Yorubas live life to the fullest even to old age, and teach their little ones Yoruba from an early age, including some of the more complicated idiomatic expressions. I admire Yoruba history and the way it is preserved through the enduring lineage of royalty – the great Obas, Alaafins and Oonis, the Oyo Kingdom etc. Yoruba folk know how to floss – it is in their DNA. Aint no party like an Owambe party, because the jollof rice and pounded yam, does not stop. On the flip side, at Igbo parties in 80s and 90s, rice and stew was very plenty. Plenty is not always good. Or delicious.

There is also something about the Hausa-Fulani cool, calm and trusting temperament that is very endearing and exotic.

And I have never met anyone from the Ibibio-Efik-Anang triumvirate who is not book-smart. In primary school, a classmate Akpan had highest Common Entrance score in the country and got admitted to one of the Gifted Schools. In secondary school, another mate Edidiong led the class in grades, coming first from Form 1 to 6. Na wetin? What is it about these South-South people that makes them so intelligent? Is it the vegetable in those sumptuous soups they make? They are also ever so good at Mathematics, just like Chinese people. Is mastering arithmetic the main and secret ingredient to producing sumptuous delicious cuisines like Chow Mein, Kung Pao chicken, Singapore Fired Noodles, Edika Ikong and Afang soups? Anyway, I still lie to my daughter Otaakara that I used to “carry” first position back in school. Academic excellence is in your genes, Daddy’s dearest.

I have love for all my Nigerian peoples. However being Igbo is special. To be Igbo in Nigeria takes guts of fury. Growing up, I could always see the desperation and suffering in our people’s  eyes, whenever I crossed that Niger bridge on my family’s road trip to the village from Lagos for Xmas holidays. It was as if the air changed once one set foot in Onitsha. Playing outside our village house, I swore I could see the blood of our fallen Biafran soldiers in the reddish Eastern soil. In the toils of my grandmother’s callouses as she hauled produce from her farm.

As a youngster, I used to reject Igbo snacks and delicacies like mpuruoso (cassava casserole) and ugbakala (African salad) because I felt they were too tangy for my tastes, much to my mother’s annoyance. I was accused that I didnt “know how to eat them”. Now that I am older and wiser, I realize how nutritional and well prepared they are. It is now clear that snacks like Meat-pie and Ice-Cream are sweet to the mouth, but sour to your health. I also respect the painstaking alchemy that goes into the making of native delicacies, and how they are a custodian of my Igbo heritage. After all there is a proverb which states kola nut does not understand English.

These are new times though. The strong Igbo female is a much demanded for a wife, friend and business-mate. The Igbo man has regained his confidence and his swagger on the theatre of national life. People from different groups are intermarrying. My very Ekiti friend took an Anambra wife, and I hailed him to the rafters. Maybe one day Nigeria will produce a female Head of State whose name is Wuraola Okorocha-Abubakar. That would put Federal character into a spin.

Igboisms are entering our everyday lingo. Slang like Hian, Biko, kwanu, Chai, Maka why?

These days, being Igbotic or having an Igbo accent is not the social suicide it crassly used to be. Igbo is the new cool, as it has hit the mainstream. I see people rocking their red cap and Isi-agu tunic on a BN red-carpet event with pride, and it warms my heart. The Versace lion logo or the MGM lion which roars at the beginning of a Hollywood production have nothing on the felines on an isi-agu jumper.

And Igbo names have to be the coolest things ever – heavy with meaning and circumstance, and the foreboding of tragic flaws. Names like Kambinachi (let us live in God), or Ugola (Golden Eagle), or Jeneta (Come and See Wonder), Otaakara (decimator and ravager of bean cakes), Anuli (glorious joy),  Usochukwuka (the sweetness of the Almighty is supreme)

The Igbo language has to be the most soulful language ever. Perfect for worship songs, marvelous for literature and the arts. Okoronkwo of Things Fall Apart is our Macbeth. Is Ojukwu our Che Guevara. Have you ever watched an Igbo Opera, where a pretty village damsel does laundry in a rural stream, while a dashing young farmer serenades her in central Igbo dialect? Have you heard a chorus of songs sung by bridesmaids at an Ibankwu (traditional wedding), as the bride performs the traditional dance with a gourd of palmwine and waltzes towards her groom who marvels at her voluptuous waist full of jigida beads? Osali na bankwu, Osali li li.

The defiance, independence and sheer will of the Igbo is legendary. It makes me happier than it should, mentioned in Roots that Igbo slaves led a revolt, and jumped into a river to their death during a foiled escape, rather than capitulate to a life of servitude and slavery. Nna men. So no be today we done dey jump inside Lagoon.

I love that Igbos have produced many acclaimed in different spheres of endeavor –Chinua Achebe, Uche of BN, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ben Enwonwu, Otokoto, Phyno, Jim Iyke, Aki N Pawpaw, Philip Emeagwali, Dick Tiger, Chigurl, Kanu, Esco…..

These days, I realize that ethnic rivalry , nepotism and tribal disunity are very unnecessary evils.  At law school, I was amazed at the Technicolor of Nigerian diversity as I had firsthand opportunities to interact closely with peers from the most hinter parts of Nigeria. I met compatriots of all languages going through the same struggles, joys and triumphs as I was, and now I realize the real disparity is between those with bastard wealth and the have-nots; and not between people of different languages. Nigerians no matter their ethnic group, are a beautiful people, but our hearts have gotten ugly from lack and ignorance of each other. Nigeria must curb want and extreme poverty which instigate ethnic tensions.

Oh and Buhari, please fix the railways and security, people should be able to see our countryside without the fear of their heads blown off by a Boko Haram dynamite. Nigeria will prevail.

The Soundtrack To My Life Story

Can my music be the saviour of my race/ Can you see reality written on my face

Can my music be the saviour of my race/
Can you see reality written on my face

Every stage of my life has been footnoted by a particular song or album. Certain songs remind me of certain periods of happiness, triumph, victories or struggles. I could hear a tune that makes me want to fist pump due to the happy memories it invokes. Then another one would come on that reminded me of a life low. The wonderful thing about music is that sometimes just one lyric or stanza or chorus out of the whole composition speaks to you. That is how I chronicle my life story – based on music I was digging at the time.

Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” reminds me of the 90s, secondary school events, playing Streetfighter 2 with friends all day, sharwamas from Terri’s at 1004 or UTC, house parties, hanging out with friends and going on city trips, summer school lessons and youthful dalliances. The lyrics to “Summertime” are hard and true: Sitting with your friend, cause you all reminisce/ about the days growing up and the first person you kiss/ And as I think back, makes me wonder/ how the smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia/ all the kids playing out front/ little boys messing round with the girls playing double dutch/

In senior secondary school, my childish innocence gave away to adolescent rebellion, as I looked to find my place in a Nigeria that was dithering on the blink of socio-political implosion during the last years of the military. I fell in with bad company, and my crew broke school rules and skipped classes. I nearly got suspended from school, save for my folk’s direct intervention with the school authorities. My dad’s disciplining was hash. Life was miserable, and I  was in a bad place with my folks. I listened  to and was inspired by Biggie Small’s song “Juicy” from his first album: Damn right I like the life I live/ Cause I went from negative to positive/

Fast forward to my adult years – I worked part-time in a high-volume call center handling hundreds of customer service calls from very irate customers who vented their frustrations about one irritation or another.

I would slip my mp3 earphones under the call center headphones, and listen to music on the low, while the customers mouthed off. Sometimes customers took out their frustrations on the call center agents, even making personal attacks. One called my co-worker the “N” word, and banged the phone. Another threatened to come over to the call center and shove the phones down another co-worker’s mouth, because he wanted a refund.

One got verbally irate with me, but I was not fazed. Puff Daddy’s song “Cant Nobody Hold Me Down” was playing in my MP3 player. Can’t nobody take my pride/ Can’t nobody hold me down/Oh no, I have got to keep on moving/

Later, I listened to another customer rant on, about seeing shards of a broken bottle on the floor in our company’s store. I apologized on behalf of the company, but the customer was not satisfied and continued to vent. I blocked out his drama with lyrics from Puffy, which I was bumping: Broken glass everywhere/ if it aint about the money, Papa just don’t care/

When my pops passed, it was the worst period of my life. Jay Z had written a song “Lost Ones” about long lost friendships and the death of his nephew, and a line from that song reverberated in my mind, as I stood at the gravesite during the dust to dust rights. I hummed the piano riffs, as the burial crowd looked amazed:

Close my eyes and squeeze, try to block that thought/ Place any burden on me but please, not that, Lord/ But time don’t go back, it goes forward/ Can’t run from the pain, go towards it/ Some things can’t be explained, what caused it/ Such a beautiful soul, so pure sh../ Gonna see you again, I’m sure of it/ Till that time, big man, I’m nauseous/

Seeing so wonderful a man, shoved and shoveled beneath 6 feet of dirt below, made me realize the brevity of life. Everything is meaningless without love, faith and family. It is worthless to put your hopes in worldly vanities, fortune and fame. Too often we chase after the wrong things in life which have a finite existence. Wealth can be lost during a man’s life to economic circumstances, misfortune and waste. It can be lost after his death to graveyard thieves, lack of maintenance culture, spoilt kin, and grabby relatives.

To help me understand this new philosophy, the lyrics of U2’s Walk On helped thus:

All that you fashion, all that you make/All that you build, all that you break/ All that you measure, all that you feel/ All this you can leave behind/ All that you reason, all that you care/
All that you sense, all that you scheme/All you dress up, and all that you see/All you create, all that you wreck/All that you hate/ You’ve got to leave it behind

All sorrows heal, and broken hearts mend like an agama lizard’s tail. That was scant consolation when I got my heart broken the first and only time in my life, by a cheating girlfriend. I was delirious, but my pal Kola laughed away my matter by suggesting I move on quick to a rebound chick, as he advised “The only solution to woman troubles is new women”

He quoted a song that was on rotation in his tape deck so I could make sense of what he was saying. It was from an old Tuface Idibia feature in a Tony Tetulia tune called “My kind of woman”: Ogogoro be like woman; If you shack am, you go high o.


Certain songs remind me of periods of good, good, loving. When my missus and I first started dating, we would video-Skype and listen to Train’s “Get to Me”, every evening we were apart with lyrics like: Why don’t you hitch a ride on the back of a butterfly and get to me/ I look around at what I have got, and without you it ain’t a lot/

When my daughter was born, I was there in the theatre as the doctors checked all her vital statistics. I couldn’t believe it – Esco, the blogger, lawyer, now papa? I volunteered to ferry her to the nursery myself so that we could James Bond. As we took those baby steps of new father and daughter together, I prayed greatness over the life she was about to embark on. I did a small father and daughter dance with her, as I remembered Nas’s tribute to his own daughter “Me and You” and I quote: “One day, you will meet the right groom/ and then, you will see your life bloom”

And sometimes when life gets me down, as I think about Nigeria’s problems and the new menace of terrorism and extreme corruption, and ponder if we will ever rise above the depths of poverty, misalignment and corruption, music helps me get through that too. It is impossible to listen to “Home” by Cormega and not be encouraged: If your life isn’t  in order, seize control/Adversity’s a lesson, be composed/Above all spread love hate stains the soul/Those with no purpose are afraid to grow/He who walks in small steps has a way to go/On the road to the riches you exposed to resentment/Everybody wants eat but they won’t do the dishes/My whole view is different since I rose from the benches/The goal was to get it and I showed true persistence/

I leave you be with a medley of songs that have been on repeat in my tape deck a lot these past days, as I build last memories of today for the future. The Sountrack to my essence in 2015. Realize that today is the first day that begins forever.

  1. Savoir Adore – Dreamers
  2. M.I. – Imperfect Me
  3. U2 – City of Blinding Lights
  4. CL Smooth & Pete Rock – Take You There
  5. Nas – Hey Young World
  6. Scarface – Picking Up the Pieces
  7. The Courteeners – Not Nineteen Forever
  8. Train – Following Rita
  9. Whitney Houston – When you are loved
  10. LifeHouse – Sick Cycle Carousel
  11. Cormega – Rise
  12. Olamide – Church
  13. C.L. Smooth and Pete Rock – Take You There
  14. Makavelli – White Man’s World

Ooh Child, Your Friend Has Got To Go

Make yourself at home.... in your own home

Make yourself at home…. in your own home

My street on after-school evenings was like a mini-PDP rally. Children of primary school age would hang out on the street playing “catcher” and “freeze-tag”, until our mums called us in. Fear of gbomo gbomo was real, but so was the fear of an ass whooping for staying out late.

All the kids old enough to walk came out to hang and play. There were the BMX vs. Chopper vs Raleigh bicycle wars where we raced for bragging rights about which was the best brand. Some of the younger kids played “mama and papa” games where they pretended to be married and made “soup” out of garden leaves, and eba out of sand from the sand pit at the end of the street. That is how I kissed my first crush at 7, a pretty young thing by the name of Felicia.

Our street lights sparked the Lagos night. A few gluttonous kids busied themselves aiming slippers at the ripe almonds (popularly known as “fruit”) hanging from the tree of one the neighbors Mr. Onwubiko the neighborhood sadist. The juiciest fruit always seemed to hide at the top of the tree, out of reach, and out of bounds. He would run out of his house waiving the cane of life and the kids would scramble in different directions, like a babalawo’s cowry shells. On Friday evenings, brutish older kids from the adjacent rougher suburb showed up with catapults which they used to hunt agama lizards almost to extinction. In their own neighborhood, they raced old bike tire rims for pink slips – whoever won kept the loser’s tire rim, thereby condemning the victim to many evenings of dulling. These brutes tried to bully kids from our street, until we met fire with fire with our water guns. It was a medley of childish fun.

However the kids of one particular neighbor Apostle Nimrod never hung out.  They lived in a bungalow at the corner – a family of Apostle and his wife, and two sons and a daughter aged 5, 7 and 11. One would see them moping from behind their fence, martialed by the eldest one, who deterred them from breaking bounds. Some other kids tried to beckon to them to join our din, but they would not dare, even when their folks were not home. Apparently Apostle forbade them from mixing with “those children of the world.”

One day, the middle child out of Apostle’s kin struck a conversation with me, over by her fence. She was my age – a dark-skinned, inquisitive cutie named Modupe. Her hair was neatly plaited in rows of the “periwinkle” style that reigned at the time, with shining white teeth that could make her the poster-child for Pepsodent. She liked my junior parole, and introduced me to her brothers.

Soon, I was chatting with them over by their wall every evening during playtime. I brought over comics, toys, drawings I had made, and entertained them with stories about the latest episode of Voltron, G-Force or the Kunkuru Puppet Show. It was not long before they invited me over. I had a slick mouth as a kid especially when I went on a charm offensive. I scaled the fence, and entered their house.

From what I could see, their parents were strict followers of a Bar Beach based fellowship and had groomed them to be fundamentalists. They were not allowed to watch daytime TV and had never seen Sound of Music, Storyland, Speak Out or Sesame Street.

I made myself at home, and lay on the floor, drawing a Voltron comic on an exercise book I had brought with me, while they watched in fascination.

Then we heard the blare of car horns – their folks were back 40 minutes earlier than usual. Everyone panicked. I ducked and hid under the dinner table. Their dad came in and then he paused. He seemed to sense that there was an illegal immigrant in his home. It wasn’t long before he had sniffed me out from under the table, like the UK Border Agency. As he quizzed the eldest child to explain why he had let me into the house, and threatened brimstone, his attention was caught by a sheet of paper lying under the table. It was a drawing of a robeast. He almost fainted. He tore the drawing into tiny bits of paper, enough to make confetti. He turned to his eldest son, and shook him furiously like a palm-wine calabash, blaming him for flouting the no-visitors rule.

Turning to me, I was declared persona non-grata forever. I did not wait to be told to take an exit. I bailed the hell out of Dodge, grabbing my book of Voltron drawings and crayons, as I breezed pass their mum at the door. Apostle had seized the red crayon. SMT.

The over-strictness and overbearing nature of some parents invariably drive their children into a life of indiscipline, promiscuity or disdain for authority. Some of the most unruly people I know had very strict controlling parents, and they ended up lashing out against the school and then society in their adult years, as way of rebelling against their lack of a fair childhood.

There is also an opposite extreme, where parents over-smother their kids with affection, spoiling them and not giving them a certain independence required for the child to come into its own.

I guess an analogy can be made between parental smothering and the overbearing nature of the Nigerian State. Our motherland has to create a system give its citizens room to breathe and take on the world.

There is a fine balance to be struck between sparing the rod, or putting the child in a vice-grip. My folks were fairly easy going about friends and associate coming over to visit. Their thing was – they had trained me to be a good judge of character, and they trusted me to make the right decisions. Like, it is your house too – if you like, go and invite an armed robber or an axe murderer in.

Travails and Travels of a 500 Naira Note

500 naira

Cash Rules Everything Around Me

My fellow Nigerians, I am a 500 Naira note, with the picture of the late, great, Owelle of Onitsha imprinted on me. What an oxymoron if ever there was one – the frame-shot of political nobility transposed on a worthless piece of legal tender responsible for the blood, sweat and tears of many.

These days I feel quite worthless, and I have seen the inside linings of many pockets, been shoved under the table into strangers hands in exchange for favors not worth the paper I am printed on; I have been bartered for human dignity. Watched governments rise and fall. Seen pretenders betray their moral creed for wealth and fame. In times past, I have watched as friends and family turned against each other in my name and those of my more illustrious peers – Dollar, Euro and Sterling. These days, my worth has been devalued compared to my American cousin – talk about racial, sorry fiscal discrimination. Dollar 1; Naira 230.

Only last night, I was comforting a N20 who has been mis-used and maltreated, changing hands and pockets between buyers and sellers of services in local brothels, meshai joints and street neighborhoods.  N20 said he wish he could end up in the hands of a stingy Ijebu man, as that would surely be the end of his solemn journey. He further reminisced about the glory days when N20 was the apex Nigerian monetary note, and N400 could buy a 504 car. Then corruption hadn’t really taken root into our national fabric.

As a N500 note, I have had a long and fruitful life. I have been in clubs where I was tossed into the air like a new born baby to announce my owner’s baller status, and seen that same owner hold on to me in tears months later when he became broke and destitute, and the well-wishers and gold digger girlfriends were nowhere to be seen. I have been torn apart, shared in court, because his ex-wife wants half of me.

I have been the subject of scorn at fellowships where people mocked me as the root of all evil, forgetting that being infatuated with me in the problem, and not me. People prefer to shoot the messenger – they should attack the root, not the shoots.

I have been sprayed on the sweaty foreheads of new brides doing their wedding dance at ostentatious Victoria Island weddings – one particular bride shoved me aside and kept dancing, and then I fell on the floor where I was surrounded by currencies of every nationality and value – naira, pounds, yen, euros. I was about to speak to a 100 dollar note, when I was blown by the fan to a side table on the left. Then I felt the rubber sole of a brogues shoes on me. I was trampled upon by the  wedding MC, as he hid me to pick later when no-one was watching. And that was how my waka for the day started…

Part 2 coming soon.

I Have Exam Fever


Failure is not an option; or optional question

My law school final exams are perhaps the most difficult exams I have ever taken. There was so much material to cover, and some of the subjects such as legal drafting and conveyancing were a bit technical.

It didn’t help that the auditorium had been very hot during the classes as the Abuja sun blazed, and many lectures had turned into a fan swinging contest between students. Some hot chicks (no pun intended) undid 3 or 4 buttons on their shirts, as they struggled to cool in the heat, creating a free show of cleavage for some pervs sat some rows above. Those sat below saw bush too.

During the exam period, the campus fellowship was filled to the rafters. People who pre-exam, had spent most of their evenings and nights at the mammy market drinking, smoking or trying to snag chicks, now thronged to the fellowship on exam nights. If you don’t know by now, you will never know.

Then the exams themselves were like a body blow from Bash Ali. I opened the question paper for Company Law, and felt like I had just eaten an expired muffin from Chocolate Royal. Sick to the stomach. The objective part of the paper written earlier had been no better for me, as I played mini mini mani mo, trying to guess the answers. I tried to think of case law to buttress my answers which would incur additional marks, but none came to mind. I looked around at fellow students around me to see if they were seeing what I was seeing. The girl to the right of me, who I recognized from carrying huge textbooks and compendiums, had a dead eye stare of confusion, like they had sworn for her from her village.

I looked to the other side of me, I saw the class wiz-kid writing furiously as he balanced his spectacles on his nose with his finger. I looked across, and I saw one of the examiners looking straight at me like “Today na today; if you try cheat eh, I go put you for corner” Naughty corner.

I looked down at my question paper and blinked; I clicked my heels 3 times, but no answers came to memory.

One of the students who was an older Deeper Life SU type, had even taken off her head scarf in tension. Oh, that is it – lifting the veil to expose the sham. And somehow more answers came to me slowly like a song I wrote. I pulled out my Eleganza biro and started writing furiously, like the Nigerian Senate hurriedly passing bills in the last days of GEJ’s reign. And I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, smiling to myself with pride in my turn around in fortunes. I could feel the invigilator’s gaze upon me, as he wondered where I discovered this new found knowledge and zeal. He even came and stood behind for about 15 minutes, just to make sure I was not cheating somehow. May your blessings confuse your doubters and enemies!

Four months later, I passed the exam. Congratulobia! The call to bar party rice my folks made was redder and sweeter than those who made distinction sef. I declared big time at the mammy market, buying beer and pepper soup for friends and well-wishers alike. Even people who had failed the exams, and had to re-sit the exams, partook of my largesse.

If you are taking exams, avoid the following kinds of people:

Folks who collect extra sheet just to get a rep – this people have no chill like a broken Thermocool fridge. They remind me of overzealous meatheads at the gym, who crank up the threadmill speed and incline, or add on additional weights to the barbells, just to make you feel some kind of way about your own fitness. But the proof is in the pudding, and in this case, the results.

People who want to discuss the answers immediately after the paper. Or go through the question papers, after the fact. Or are miserable after noticing mistakes or answers not written correctly. I dodge them after the exam, like they have been infected with a communicable disease. You see, I am different; I roll that question paper into a ball, and drop it like a hot potato into the trash can, like the Lagos Islanders basketball team. Or I sow the question paper into a junior’s life so he can use it to prepare for next year’s exam. Let that man worry about it. Once I am done, I am done.

People who spend more time getting tactics ready for cheating than they would getting ready for the exam. They painstakingly construct micro-chips, or sitting arrangements, or new tattoos on their limbs containing the answers. They remind of the PDP –  politicians who spend billions bribing electorates with bags of rice, free credit and what-not; rather than using said money or even mere millions for rural electrification programs, scholarships for impoverished communities, an act which is cheaper and would make them favorites for relection. God is watching you o.

Abeg, let me go and prepare for a case jare.



I once dated a girl who was sweet and unique. She was a work of art like a Ben Enwonwu sculpture, with brown skin like Choco-milo and eyes that lit up like a kerosene lantern.  And her figure? Majestic and curvaceous like an Igbo Ukwu bronze pot. And do not get me started on her teeth – she had the most perfectly arranged set of 32 I had ever seen, which looked especially cute whenever she wore her metal braces. The juxtaposition of her teeth against metal reminded me of the most perfect corn cob resting on an iron grill. She had an impeccable personality to boot too – a trifecta of intelligence, quiet determination and an easy going aura. We really fancied each other, and I would drive to my cousin’s estate where she lived, park in front of her apartment block and hunk my car horn 4 times, and she would show up. That was our signal. Once her strict mum showed up with a garri pestle, but that’s another story for another day.

While she absolutely adored me, she could not stand something about my character – I had roving eyes like a Nigerian politician’s loyalty to ideology. You see, I was the type of fella many girls loathed for a boyfriend, in that I liked to glance at other females. It was usually a short peep, shorter than M.I.; Truth be told, it was not like I was interested in these other chicks. It was just tomfoolery. I never meant to disrespect my girl. It was just lookery.

And I never cheated on her with these other girls I was checking out – least not physically. A perfect analogy would be that I was like a Buhari supporter checking out GEJ’s manifesto, not because I planned to switch my allegiance, but because I wanted to see what GEJ was all about. There were just so many hot girls in Lagos.

My girl would usually catch me stealing quick glances at some female in a tight pair of leggings and she would give me a piece of her mind. The worst time was when I attended a Matriculation event with her at UNILAG. And when we went to Zenith Bank’s Customer Service Center on Ajose Adeogun in V.I. There were girls of every shape and color in those places. At the time, I felt like a Senator dulling at a cabal meeting sipping Fanta while other politicians were sharing Ghana-Must-Go bags of cash. I was like a greedy Nigerian at the NEXT annual Xmas sales on Oxford Street in London – I felt like grabbing it all.

I will admit, now that I am older and more mature, I realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I try to avoid situations that would make my missus feel some type of way. I also regret that my immaturity made my ex-girlfriend tear up like OBJ’s PDP membership card.

Sometimes we fellas do not realize how much we hurt our partners when we scope other females’ bakassi until we get a taste of our own alabokun. My friend Jide once went steady with a lass who loved to check other men out. It was just her thing – she had the spirit of Potiphar’s wife in her. Even while driving, she once nearly ran into an iron horse (okada) because she was staring at some dude jogging past without his top on. Another time Jide peeped her checking out a plantain seller pushing a huge wheel-barrow full of fruit in the market. She claimed it was the plantain for sale she was interested in. I’m in love with the dodo.

He broke up with her. Why was he so angry – many girls have to put up with this on a daily basis. For guys, our massive egos cannot take it.

Some people handle their “jealousy” in different ways. They are fine if their significant other looks, but does not touch the object of their crush. Their reasoning is that it is easier to control what hand caresses, than what your eyes see.

My friend Toyin is quite loony. She actually encourages her hubby to discuss his crushes or attractions to other females with her. When they are out together at a party or event, she would prod him and ask him who he thinks out of a bevy of ladies is hot, or who he fancied out of the lot. They would then “jokingly” dissect the girl’s qualities and quantities together. “That girl is not all that jor. She is not even pear shaped – she is agbalumon-shaped. You must be blind if you think she is as hot as me. Maybe it is aggro misdirecting you.” By the time Toyin was done, hubby lost some appetite for the crush anyway. Talk about crushing hopes.

There was a time her husband’s friends were planning a bachelor’s eve party for a friend of theirs who was getting married, and they were going to hire pole dancers and raunchy runs-girls as part of the entertainment. Toyin helped them with the booking of the venue. Reverse psychology or perverse psychology?

My missus is not that liberal. She simply does not negotiate with the enemy, so to speak. Just like our government tried to do with Boko Haram. My madam’s mantra is this: you do not fraternize with the opposition, you crush all rebellion. She reminds me of Fayose in that regard, though she has more refined diction.

I am not that stupid either. My madam does not care to know who the current object of my fantasy is. If I dared volunteer information like pointing out a girl I was crushing on, she would go haywire. Na who ask you?

Besides things like what Toyin does with her hubby make me quite uneasy sef.  Some things should stay in their lane like BRT Bus. Reminds me of the time that I made out with some chick, and then her twin brother started asking me how it was. I shook him off like a guguru and epa seller seller blows off the peanut shells. That’s how Clifford Orji type madness starts.

Some folks do not even allow their partners have friends of the opposite sex. Especially if that friend was hotter, more popular or more successful. Is it not ridiculous that in some ancient cultures, like Mongolia under the Khans, wives even went as far as selecting concubines for their husbands? Like a Nigerian wife would ever select a concubine for you. Dream on fellas or move to Mongolia. Or to Abuja. Ha ha.

That is even cool. My cousin Benbella and his fiancé  went for a wedding somewhere in Victoria Island. At the reception, he ran into 2 female ex school-mates from University. They were happy to see each other, so they hugged and decided to take a photo which they planned to upload onto their alumni Facebook page later. Benbella posed for picture in between the two ex-school mates, with his hands around their waists and asked his fiancée to take the photo with her I-phone.

After she took the photo, fiancée pulled Benbella aside and gave him an earful. And a mouthful.

She chided “I do not like the way your hand was resting on your ex-school mate’s ass. If it is hungrying you like that, touch my own butt instead.”

Benbella downed 3 shots of vodka after that, no chaser. His fiancée is a handful.

My wife is different – she doesn’t even play all that jazz. In fact the only female in the world she says I have a pass with is Scarlett Johansson, and my wife’s logic is “that is never going to happen anyway. She would never look at you even if you were both the last persons on earth” But I am not the last person on earth…

How do you handle yours? Are you fine with your partner looking? Or are you Mongolian in nature?

But what we have is so realistic/
There’s no forming girl, no film tricks/
I no go chop outside, no picnics/
Cause you and I above the statistics/
It don’t matter if I got ego/
We got something we can build on, Lego/

M.I., One Naira (2010)


From now on, you cease to exist to me

I am an incurable romantic. Like a valentine’s gift that keeps giving, it is all heart with me. All is well in the world with me, when I spend quality time with a lass I am really into, then I can make strong postulations of love, desire and passion. When I am into you, I am really into you, like a Biology practical dissection project.  Weird, abi?

I serenade you like a scene from Romeo and Juliet, except that I envision it between me Esco and my fair (or dark) Nigerian lady. I might hit a lady with some Shakespeare like this:

Esco: Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.


Nigerian Lass: Then have my lips the sin that they have took.


Esco: Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.

If she is not up on Shakespeare, I might throw this out instead:

Before I met you, I was like Nackson

But now your love dey do me like Michael Jackson

In the movies, lovers always live happily ever after, preserved for posterity by the frame shot of youthful vigor. Yep, romance in film and the creative arts is dynamic and spontaneous depending on the genre and industry the film originated from. Let me illustrate.

In Hollywood, the theme of most movies is clear – good looking actor defeats all odds and shoots down the bad guys with ripping muscles and big guns blazing, and scoops up the pretty girl in the daisy duke shorts at the bar, In the end everybody smiles, as the “actor” and his chick drive into the sunset, with beer cans tied to their back bumper, and the credits roll. Actor no dey die.

I once took a girl I liked to a dance club. When we got there, it was like a Satis beef sausage factory – more guys than girls were present, and the fellas there had their tongue out like wolf looking for lamb. I wanted to leave, but my date said she liked the music the DJ was blasting. We decided to dance, and we were about 20 minutes into the jig with me doing my Esco doo-wop while trying to convince said girl to be down with me, when disaster struck. Some imp decided that it was a nice time to make a sandwich – a human one. He started grinding into my girl from behind, like they were on a Molue queue. I shoved him, and we were both tossed out of the club. I and girl got into an argument, and never went steady after that. I want the love from the movies; just not the action ones. Make love, not war.

For Bollywood, the nerdy guy chats up the girl by dancing circles around her, and singing her into submission. Dus Numberi…When he gets into a position to steal a snog, something always comes up. Either a comet hit the earth for the first time in a billion years and decimates all of mankind, or Boko Haram decides to surpass its last gruesome act. They are sha somehow either interrupted by someone walking in- usually his mother or a mogbomoya friend. Or said actress dodges his lips and offers him a consolation price of her forehead with the big red dot on it to aim at.

It sounds like friend-zoning to me, so once again it is no to Bollywood love.

For Chinese martial arts movies, the sequence of events is simple. ‘A’ opens a kung fu school. ‘B’ comes along and beats ‘A’ to stupor.  After ‘A’ dies, his ward ‘C’ seeks revenge and kills ‘B’. Note how there are no girls involved at the beginning. Later C marries A’s daughter Chun Li. They share a rice noodle.

There are 2 things I do not share with anyone – my me-time, and my Indomie/Dangote Spaghetti, so I will pass on this one.

For Nollywood, the typical love script is more complicated if not absurd. ‘A’ is born in abject poverty in the village. He does either jazz or ‘419’ to make money and moves to Lagos where he lives it up extravagantly chasing promiscuous university ‘runs’ girls. Later on in the film, Jim Iyke slaps a girl, and Patience Uzokwo is an evil mother-in-law. Then Nonso Diobi spends 45 minutes out of the 3-hour movie propositioning Oge Okoye at the beach, where they whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears, to the chagrin of you the watcher. Credits roll and you see the producer’s vote of thanks to the real owners of any mansions used in the movie. You are also told to watch out for Part 2 and 3 even though the story seemed concluded satisfactorily enough. Ah, the Naija glorified DVD box-set.

Love should have no Part 2, abeg.

The above are valid and absurd examples, so I do not want those. What about certain movies:

  1. In the movies, they sail into the sunset. In Grease, which is my favorite flick of all time, Danny Zucco and Sandy fly take off into the sky in Danny’s greased Cadillac Seville, as they wave to their mere mortal friends at the end of term school fair. In real life, after a good date, you call her a cab, especially after your 2nd hand Hyundai refuses to start. You also call her a cab, if you cannot be arsed to spend the next 300 minutes in Lagos traffic. And I prefer my car firmly on the road, thank you very much. Pot hole is better than turbulence.
  1. Love at first sight in movies is sweet and straight to the point. Boy sees girl, and girl sees boy and everything else is a blur and in slow motion. She flutters her eyes at him like she has contracted Apollo. He waves like Mopol has asked him to surrender. She twists her curls flirtatiously like she is trying to style “periwinkle”. He nods his head at her like a red neck lizard. She slides over in a hot summer dress, flirts and hands over phone number readily by writing her number on his palm. Eh, in real life that bic is likely to refuse to write Besides love at first sight hardly ever moves that first, does it. Shakara has to enter the equation somewhere, before see finish has a chance to take root.
  1. The hot cheerleader always later falls for the geek. Real life is different. The party/runs girls only ever spoke to the nerds whenever it was close to exam time, and they needed the nerd’s notes or coaching. Back in school, I was a jerk, not a jock. And for that I never bagged a hot party girl type. I never had the patience for long persistent chasing or competition with club-boys for her love and attention. I also never stood a chance, because I was a cheap-skate. No really, I was a cheap date.
  1. In Pretty Woman, Richard Gere falls for Julia Robert who plays an agbana. It will take magic for me to marry a runs girl.

Teacher No Teach Me Nonsense



I love all teachers. Teaching is the most selfless profession in the world. Maybe, other than a night-soil man (agbekpo coordinator).

It is fair to say that I would not be the man I am if not for the wonderful teachers I have had at all stages of school life. Let me take you on an odyssey as I remember some of the teachers I have had.

In Primary school, Ghanaian teachers were the proudest with their mini-afros and Safari suits with the huge collars and boot cut pants, looking like they had just stepped out of a 70s discotheque. They also spoke a unique blend of English with some crazy pronunciations “Do yer werk” (They pronounced “work” like “twerk”)

They were also strict disciplinarians too. Mr. Kwame wielded the cane of life, which he garnished with tatatshe and suya pepper until it looked like our Senate President’s mace. By the early 90s, most of the Ghananian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean teachers had returned back to their countries, as economic conditions there prevailed over Nigeria’s. Ghana bread also disappeared from the streets, sadly for me.

There was Mrs. Nwama whose son was also in my class, so she was especially hard on him in other to diffuse any notions of partiality. She would ask a question, and if nobody volunteered the answer, she made him a scape goat. If he gave the wrong answer, she flogged him hard with a cane. If he gave the right one, she flogged him for not standing up to answer on time. I hear he is a psychologist now in Yankee.

Mr. Ganiyu our Primary 4 teacher loved to put the wiz-kids students in the front desks, and place the slower learners (whom he repeatedly called olodos) in the back desks – away from sight. Which has always been weird to me. Don’t the slower learners need more attention in the front? Me, I chilled in the middle rows playing footsie and biro game with my crush Ejiro. What’s up, ex?

Then there was my teacher in primary 3, Miss Otolo who seized snacks from pupils eating in class, and added the food to her lunch stash, a bit like our government did with the Abacha loot. She snatched my Nasco Wafers from me, but I did not bother to forewarn her that I had been licking the cream in the insides. Fufu flavour.

Then there was Mrs. Olaya (not real name) now deceased who was our primary school headmistress. That woman was the epitome of class and grace. She never raised her voice, or her hand. Even when she scolded a child, it was with language that the child could barely comprehend at that age, but that the child would recall years later and weep in remembrance.

Chiding two pupils who had been caught thieving someone’s Math-set, she said “there is no honor amongst thieves.” Oh yes there can be..

On the school assembly stage, she would make the reader of the address repeat the pronunciation of the word “theme” until they got the “th” sound. She could not stand any one pronouncing “theme” as “team.”

And I remember her also reprimanding our football team because they were yelling for penariti (instead of the word penalty). She boxed the goalkeeper in the ear for using the wrong word, and he ended up conceding goals like Rufai at France 98. We thought she was being pedantic at the time, but thanks Mrs. Olaiya.

Rest in peace, Matriarch. You were indeed a Fountain of knowledge, and I wore your school stripes with pride as a youngster.

Then there was Mr. Nnaba the music teacher with the buck-tooth scowl and the thick heavy ruler which he used to smack the heads of any student who did not master the music table or who clapped out of sync during rehearsals. His singing voice was like a rat’s squeal, but you dare not tell him.

Then there was Mr. Ogun who adorned the Father Xmas outfit at the annual Xmas concert which was always a blast and an annual fixture of the local social calendar, attended by pupils of other schools, parents and members of the Surulere community. I remember us chorusing that Yoruba Christmas tune, which feels nostalgic right now “keresimesi tu made o

Mr. Ogun, all 150 pounds of him was a lekpa. For the pageant however, he used stuffed pillows to create Father Xmas’s pot-belly and cotton wool for a beard. The nursery school kids were not that easily fooled as they recognized his toney-red shoes with the Boy Alinco-esque pivot heels, and shouted his name throughout drowning out the performance at the nativity play.

He tried placating the mischievous cretins with Jemka chewing gum and Gogo, but it was like trying to control ants with St. Louis Sugar. It was bribing little children, which is a bad precedent to set at a young age. Kids are the leaders of tomorrow, just not this election or the next or the one after that. Haha

In secondary school I remember Mallam Damisa the Commerce teacher who shelled repeatedly like a trigger happy Boko Haram commander. He pronounced English words like he was spewing bitter kola and mixed up male and female tenses. To compensate for his bad English, he used big words, but ended up brutalizing the sentence. Once he had caught a bunch of students tossing bangers (fireworks) at night. He made them “kneel down and hands-up” as punishement, before he rebuked them publically “How can you threw such an explosion, for the purpose of a joy.” Question for BH, too.

How could I forget Ma Ogunfe the Mathematics teacher who believed that boarders were the scum of the earth, but that day students could do no wrong. Someone had laid a massive ostrich sized egg at the back of the class which stunk the place out. Ma Ogunfe automatically blamed it on the boarders, and made them pack it up, while the day students watched in laughter. Not cool.

By the time I got the University, the game had changed to a whole new level. Teachers, now, lecturers were less involved, more aloof and had more power to hurt your short term future.

There was Professor X who we nicknamed such for his default propensity to fail students by playing tic-tac-toe when marking answer sheets. There were usually lots of x and zeros when he was done. Like Terrahawks.

Then there was Dr. Ajene, the proletariat, who loved to “humiliate” well-off students by picking on them in class, and sending them on errands to do menial tasks like buy his lunch of moi-moi and pap from the old Buka. You did not have much choice in the matter – you needed to take and pass Philosophy class. Man is born free, but everywhere he is in shackles.

Then there was Roscoe Pound, another lecturer who got off catching cheats during exams. He was a sneaky little so and so. He had probing eyes and was as prolific as a rat trap garnished with crayfish. He caught cheat after cheat after cheat – it was ridiculous.  When he pulled out “micro-chips” (a small piece of paper with carefully written answers) from one girl’s bra, she bit him hard in frustration like an ensnared catfish. He wore that bite mark like a badge of honor.

Despite the different characters and personalities of the teachers I have had from nursery school to university, all have played a part in my life and for that I am grateful. Shout-out to the biggest teacher of all, my mum who made me recite the times-table and master counting with table-tops. Look, I made it ma – I now use Excel spreadsheets and pivot tables!

A teacher’s reward is in heaven, but they deserve lots of naira and kobo here on earth too.

There were empires in Africa called Kush/

Timbuktu, where every race came to get books/

to learn from black teachers who taught Greeks and Romans/

Nas (I Can, 2002)