Those Genes

Clipart Illustration of a Tough Strong Black Man Flexing His Big

In the first years of my youth, I was told by certain insensitive adults that I would grow up to be a short man.  If that was not an oxymoron, I don’t know what is. Their reason for such crass talk? My mum is about 5 foot 5 inches tall, and my dad is shorter. My siblings were not tall either. Taking a family portrait, we all looked like Igbo Smurfs.

But sometimes genes and talents skip a generation – and certain traits and faults do too. On my father’s side of the family, the men tend to add weight easily around their torso.  My grandfather was a rolling stone, and I mean that quite literally. On my mum’s side, individuals are blessed with good frames and bone structure – cheek bones, proportional limbs and square shoulders. They are also very book-smart. However, baldness and receding hairlines are the flip side of their coin.

So in secondary school, when I hit my teenage years, many of the above traits from my mum and dad’s contrived to create a mish-mash of a messy pottage. The result would have made Frankenstein proud.

There I was, in the sullied whites of my secondary school uniform – large bellied with slim limbs, massive nose, a shortish height, a 90s Vanilla Ice high-top hair-cut and the early signs of widows peak. I had the dimples of life, but it was surrounded by teenage acne which became oils wells on contact. I was somewhat intelligent, but not academically brilliant.

And oh, did I mention that I wore glasses – a heritage of my father’s side. Big horn rimmed, coke-bottled spectacles which were always bent out of shape because I dozed off in them. I ended up tying them with a shoe string.

I could have developed a Napoleon complex. Luckily and co-incidentally I found creature comforts in other worldly pursuits like playing video games (especially Streetfighter 2 and ISS) hip-hop, and goofing around with my school click – The Pentagon Pound. In my day, you could not afford to wallow in your physical insecurities as you would be eaten for breakfast by banter throwers. I held up quite well.

Back then, there was no Skype, no hiding behind Blackberry or Whatsapp chats or social media. You had to go out there, and put yourself out there, or remain a crab in the hole forever. Get the wind behind your back, so to speak.

After I finished secondary school, I spent an involuntary gap year (imposed by JAMB and strikes) at home before I went off to University. To kill boredom, I ate everything moving. It drove my ma bonkers.

But then something else happened – I experienced a growth spurt like no other. It was like I looked in the mirror, and transformed from being a “short engine” to about 6 feet tall. My grandfather’s genes came through – he was a Goliath, as village champions come. Oh, and my forehead acne cleared.

So good times, and as Sean Carter rhymed, my situation could be summed as thus:

My gear is in and I’m in the in-crowd
And all the wavy light skinned girls are loving me now
My self-esteem went through the roof – man, I got my swag

As crazy family genes go, it appears that for every gift, there is a concession.

There is the famous Esco Family sheen – we appear to be blessed with a certain glow inherited from our progenitors who discovered the merits of cassava soap (I kid, I kid). My grandmother on my father’s side who was said to be a hot chick in her day centuries ago, aged very well. Even on my dad’s sickbed before he passed on, people who came to see him refused to accept that he had cancer. He looked relatively fresh till his final moments.

And because my pops had cancer, it is something I have to look out for. I will need to have my prostrates checked annually from age 40 onwards – an excruciating and very humbling  procedure.  I also have to keep an eye on my carbs and sugar intake to stave off diabetes – which used to be a family special in my maternal family tree. Heck, I even dropped my cigarette habit half a decade ago, and I have not had a St Moritz in years.

There is also artistic streak in my blood. Otaakara, my daughter, is already pretty handy with Crayola, and has a photographic memory that equals the motion grounds of OAU. I have always had a keen interest in calligraphy, content development and creativity. My mind works 24/7 . I am not able to sleep without dreaming.  Good for wet dreams – horrible for nightmares.

My old man was a super speech-writer and popular choice for chairman of events, as he was capable of captivating and moving an audience with his words. He also had a slick tongue that could mortally injure, if he reprimanded you. My cousin twice removed earns serious corn as a UK based photographer and videographer with a weekend DJ side gig. Another cousin is a super skilled musician, who unfortunately came up in the wrong era. Certain members of the extended family discouraged his pursuit of a music career, as back then everyone crassly wanted their children to study law, medicine, finance or engineering.

These days, I still have this huge girth to contend with. I suffer Nutty Professoritis, as my metabolism is all over the place. One week you could see me in my Buddy Love stance, then the next month I would have added 30 pounds and be plump like the Klumps. Wellness and health management for any gender is a lifelong campaign. Sometimes you lose 5 pounds, and gain 10, and vice versa. Fat can be like those demons described in the Bible; when you cast out one, if you backslide in faith, he returns back manifold. Well, at all, at all, na him bad pass.

I got sick of feeling like a deflated wheel in the streetcar called desire. I also discovered that sleep apnea is the cousin of death.

So I started this 24 day cleanse program last month called the Advocare 24 Day Challenge and have dropped over 10 pounds so far, and gained some major muscle. I feel more energized like a Tiger-head battery.

The Challenge contains an eating plan made of many readily available foods or healthy equivalents – sweet potatoes, brown rice, brown pasta, roasted boli. You take healthy supplements, eat clean, hydrate and exercise, and “lean-back” (lots of pun intended). There is no way you can lose. Or scratch that, there are plenty ways you can.  It is not only for weight loss. There are different weight gain, wellness and rejuvenation packages. Check out more information here  , and USA and Canada based readers can also order directly from here too. If you have any questions, please send an email to



You are beautiful…

The nature of genes is learning how to work with the hardware you are blessed with, and calibrate the supposed “bugs” by action and supplication. No seed of man has no choice over his parents, fore-bearers or constitution.

Trivia in closing: If a cockroach accidentally makes contact with a human being, it scurries away somewhere and cleans itself. Let that sink in for a bit.

Caught a glimpse of myself in the Barney’s shop window/
Kind of  see my father’s features creeping  in a little/
Got an office on Broadway, business in Jamaica/
Tell my daughter to  try the hardest so the best schools will take her/

Nas, War (2004)


Sunday Best


As a working adult, I thank God when it’s Friday.

However, growing up, Sundays were special. Everybody in my house had to attend church, even if they were near half dead from exhaustion. Planning to give church a miss because you didn’t feel up to it? Not in my father’s house; not on my mother’s watch. My old man literally threw the holy book at ya: “If you like, when you are grown up and out of my house, you could decide to worship at the temple of the Golden Calf, but until then off to church you go”

And off we went, gnashing out teeth under our breaths, and stamping on the floor, albeit out of earshot of Papa Esco.

My siblings and I would squeeze into our formal clothes, which were especially reserved just for church or weddings. Back then, you would not wear casual clothes like jeans or T-shirts to church. They looked rather out of place in the church’s marbled cathedral with its cross spindle. You should have seen how geared up the women attendees at my church were too. They wore hats with brims so wide, they could, err, throw shade. And they literally did – seating in the middle and back pews and dissecting every in-coming attendee’s dress sense. Or lack of.

Husbands or drivers dropped their wives and female members of the family off at the front of the church, as heels were not made for walking the distance from the parking area to the church. Everybody came through looking real fine –styling like they were fresh off a runway or beauty salon. The bigger the leather case bound bible, the better. And sometimes the holy books stayed shut, all through the service.

Meanwhile kid’s clothes in the 80s and early 90s were hideous. My suit was 7 buttoned, and the pants were bongo at the bottom, with a tight crotch area. If I stretched my arm, the cuff pulled up almost to my elbows. If I took long strides, the crotch area crushed my little scrotum. My sisters fared a little better, only because they could accessorize their periwinkle plaits. You kids of nowadays don’t know how good you have got it? Jeans and sneakers to church? Jeans was for hoodlums or discos.

Then we would go ask my dad for money for offering. He would usually be in his bathroom shaving with his trusty bic razor, and would grunt a direction to bring up his wallet. Five naira usually did the trick.

My rogue of an older cousin thought me how to split the collection plate money, so I could have some extra for Fan Ice Lollies during service. If I was smart and patient and obedient, I could have enough for a Big Dip – which was a chocolate covered vanilla ice cream on a stick. I had to be quick and nimble to sneak out of church during service to buy it, eat it fast while perched hiding between two vehicles in the car park; and then wipe my hands on my corduroy pants and rush back to the church unnoticed.

If my dad had found out, he would have split me into two. If our bishop had found out, he would have casted the demons of gluttony influencing me, with 6 degrees of separation.

The clergymen back then didn’t suffer fools gladly. They preached not minding whose ox was gored, or which fox got bored, or whose ego was bruised. They threatened fire and brimstone to early leavers, if they tried to sneak out  to give the after-service festivities a miss. The longest services were the confirmation or baptism ones. Service sometimes ended in the early afternoon, and then you had to wait until your parents exchanged greetings with all and sundry.

The choir was awesome – Sister Rebecca led us in an old negro spiritual with Ms. Gladys a perpetual spinster chorusing in falsetto. And Ms Gladys looked the part too. She had a particular chorister stance in which she stared into the distance as if in a trance, while pursing her lips ever so slightly as she hit the high notes.

Sister Pasqualine usually came to church late, and the clack of her high heels as she squeezed herself between the pews looking for a spot to seat added to the medley sounds. The hisses of other inconvenienced church-goers provided a beat. Then the wail of  a toddler from a nursing mother added another note, before the rustle of a biscuit packet, as she tried to placate it with an Okin square. Ah biscuits. Been calming toddlers throwing tantrums at church since 1914. Cookie Monsters…

I was glad when I was old enough to leave the kid’s section of the church for the adult section. For me it was a coming of age. I could finally have my own hymn book, and pretend to sing along. I couldn’t wait to get confirmed so I could taste the communion. Swap my “book of bible stories” with colorful illustrations for a Holy Bible with Kings James text. I couldn’t wait to act all grown up and adult as I went to pick my junior ones from the kids section.

Besides in the children’s section, one of the aunties was bit stern for my tastes. She made us make crosses out of palm fronds on Palm Sunday. On the flip side she was the first one who taught that BIBLE stands for Blessed Information Brings Life Eternal.

Years later, hip-hop would teach me that it also stood for Basic Information Before Leaving Earth. Many, many, years later, I would see fake deceitful preachers manufacture interpretations out of the Holy Book to control and deceive their congregation for financial gain.

Around 12ish, we returned home from church.

Then I could finally sink my teeth into the jollof rice of life. Jollof rice was another Sunday special you see. And if the beans were peeled fast enough for them to be sent to the neighbouring market for grinding, moi moi was added to the lunch menu. I couldn’t wait to take off my Sunday best, and ended up ripping the 7 brass buttons off like Clark Kent. My mum came with the kryptonite.

Then I could watch Sunday Rendezvouz . Prince 2000 was like Don Cornelius – he made the dancers on the show break into jigs for bottles of Limca or Parle Soda. Hit me, hit me, hit me….

And my sister would indeed hit me, as she tried to wake me up, having snoozed off on the sofa after stuffing myself silly with glorious jollof. Why? It was time for Tales by Moonlight.

We would gather around the TV, and laugh at the hyena’s costume that made it look like a cross-eyed werewolf.  The elephant costume that looked made it look like it had muscle pull.

Evening time came, and then we would watch soap operas, sponsored by Thermocool and Joy Soap.

Then it was bedtime, and I could not wait for the school week to come and go, so that I could experience Sunday all over again.

Check out this song by Scarface:


Scarface All Bad




Advocare -24DC (24 Day Challenge)

The 24-Day Challenge is a comprehensive supplementation and nutrition program designed to give your body the jumpstart it needs to help you reach your goals. There’s something for everyone whether you are looking for weight management, energy, overall body composition or overall wellness. Thousands of people have experienced success on the 24-Day Challenge – you could be next! Click here for success stories.

Cleanse Phase

Proper absorption of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals is essential to maintaining a healthy body. However, periodic lifestyle changes may generate the need for a “fresh start” – that’s where the Cleanse Phase comes in. On Days 1-10 of the 24-Day Challenge, you will take three products.

These products, in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, help to rid your body of waste and prepare your body to better absorb nutrients.* This isn’t the kind of cleanse where you drastically reduce calories or consume only liquids – this is the beginning of a healthier lifestyle!*

Herbal Cleanse SystemThe AdvoCare Herbal Cleanse system can help rid your body of waste and prepare the body for optimal nutrient absorption with its unique blend of herbal ingredients.* Using a systematic approach, this 10-day system guides you through the daily steps for thorough internal cleansing and improved digestion.*Each Herbal Cleanse box includes these two key products: ProBiotic Restore™ capsules and Herbal Cleanse tablets. For the complete system, use these two products as well as AdvoCare Fiber for the duration of the 10 days.

OmegaPlex®The second product you will use in the Cleanse Phase is OmegaPlex®, which is a high-quality blend of essential Omega-3 fatty acids for overall wellness.* Omega-3 fatty acids are essential components of heart, nerve, muscle, skin, bone and immune health. As with all of the AdvoCare products, OmegaPlex®meets high standards for safety and efficacy so you can be sure you are getting some of the purest Omega-3 fatty acids on the market.*
AdvoCare Spark®AdvoCare Spark® is a unique multi-nutrient system that was developed as a nutritional source of energy and enhanced mental focus.* It’s sugar free with more than 20 vitamins, minerals and nutrients that work synergistically to provide a healthy, balanced and effective source of energy that won’t overburden or over stimulate your body.*

These three products work to cleanse and prepare your body for the Max Phase, days 11-24.
Note: Do not take thermogenic products (MNS® color packets, ThermoPlus™ and AdvoCare® Slim) while in the Cleanse Phase.
Other AdvoCare supplements may be continued, although they should be taken at least a couple of hours after the AdvoCare Fiber.

Max Phase

After completing the Cleanse Phase, it’s time to move into days 11-24: The Max Phase. The Max Phase is about fueling your body in order to achieve maximum results. During this phase you will take three products that work together to provide you with sustained energy, appetite control, core nutrition and overall wellness.* Upon completion of the 24-Day Challenge, these products can continue to be taken every day as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Metabolic Nutrition System™ – MNS®During the Max Phase, you can choose from three Metabolic Nutrition Systems which all provide sustained energy, appetite control, core nutrition and overall wellness.*If you’re not sure which system to use, AdvoCare recommends beginning with MNS® 3, which provides you with a foundational level of appetite control and energy.* For a higher level of appetite control you can choose MNS® C, and for more energy you can choose MNS® E*.

All three formulations include: CorePlex® (our multivitamin), OmegaPlex®, ProBiotic Restore™ , thermogenic components and additional wellness supplements.

Meal Replacement ShakeSkipping meals is a common mistake people make in weight-management or wellness programs. The Meal Replacement Shake is a healthy, delicious solution. Each shake includes 22-24 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 5-6 grams of fiber, 26 vitamins and minerals, and 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. They come in several great-tasting flavors.
AdvoCare Spark®An additional box of AdvoCare Spark® completes the Max Phase.

When compared to MNS®

Companion Products

Companion products can be used in conjunction with the products that come with your 24-Day Challenge Bundle. Although not officially part of the 24-Day Challenge, these products are fantastic complements to the program and can help target your specific needs.*

It is important to stay in contact with your AdvoCare coach to ensure you are using these products at the proper times and phases during the 24-Day Challenge.

CatalystCatalyst provides a blend of essential branched-chain amino acids and L-glutamine to fuel your body with the muscle-building components it needs.* Catalyst helps repair and protect muscle, and provides the essential amino acids needed to maintain and promote lean body mass, endurance and strength.* Catalyst helps rid the fat and retain muscle when used in combination with a healthy diet, exercise, and other AdvoCare products such as Meal Replacement Shakes or Muscle Gain™.
ThermoPlus®ThermoPlus® is an innovative weight-loss enhancer that contains key botanical extracts to help support efficient metabolism and suppress appetite.* Together, they provide powerful support for stimulating fat oxidation and healthy metabolism when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise.*
Carb-Ease® PlusCarb-Ease® Plus is a full-spectrum product that helps support weight management and body composition.* Carb-Ease Plus contains ingredients that help inhibit the breakdown of fats and particular carbohydrate molecules so that the body is less likely to absorb them.* It also helps maintain weight and healthy blood glucose levels by reducing the negative effects of excessive carbohydrate consumption.*
AdvoCare Workout SeriesThe AdvoCare Workout Series Can You 24 is a two-disc DVD set, which includes seven workouts, 24 exercises per workout, a ColorTrack tool that encourages all levels of exercise, takes only 24 minutes, and requires no equipment! As an added bonus, it is led by some of our top AdvoCare Independent Distributors.

CU 24 Workout Series

AdvoCare Independent Distributors lead these dynamic workouts designed to help real people get
real results.

Nutrition Guide

Good nutrition is a key part of any healthy lifestyle. During the 24-Day Challenge, we encourage you to incorporate a large variety of lean proteins, vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates as part of a well-balanced and maintainable diet. Use the 24-Day Challenge Daily Guide as your one-stop reference for nutrition, supplementation, water intake and exercise throughout the Challenge.

Healthy recipes

Looking for 24-Day Challenge friendly recipes and more?
Be sure to check out the official AdvoCare Tumblr page.

Daily Guide

Water & Food Portion Recommendations
Hydration is key in any weight management program and it is important to have sensible portion sizes.Daily Checklists
We have included a convenient checklist for each day of the challenge that makes it easy to keep track of when to take your supplements, how much water you’re drinking, what exercise you are doing, and suggests what foods are recommended at each meal.

Food Suggestions
This isn’t a fad diet that eliminates entire food groups. Instead, our food suggestions revolve around a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and other snack items such as healthy fats, fruits, dairy, and AdvoCare products.

Daily Guide (English)
Download 4.5 MB
Daily Guide (Spanish)
Download 4.4 MB

The information found in the Daily Guide is merely a guideline and not a definitive list of what can and cannot be consumed on the 24-Day Challenge®.
As always, please consult your healthcare provider before making any dietary or fitness modifications. Be sure to stay in contact with your AdvoCare coach
to help with any questions you may have.

Culled from



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.