Whoever said women were from Venus does not have a clue. I have reflected on the theories on the different planets women are from, and have decided that they definitely originate from Mars. They are engineered for battle, don’t let the soft and silky exterior fool you.
Being from Mars, they have also developed their own language, woman-speak if you like, a code of verbal communications and non-verbal signals which no man can fathom.
Females have a secret “Bluetooth” connection to each other that flies like an invisible wave over men’s heads. Well, maybe it should be called infra-red because it is like a silent Amazonian war-cry, rather than a language or code, and it is spoken with a female aiming at another with cross-hairs.
You’re a chap who has just introduced your date to your female cousin. They scream and laugh like old friends when they are introduced:
I have heard so much about you.
I love your hair! Where did you get it done?
Oh, I use Robby’s too. He makes the best hair in Lagos.
Wow, you are so pretty, nice shoes.
And you are standing there, looking at them proudly. Your best cousin in the world and your date-but-soon-to-be- girlfriend all in the same room together. Your two best females in the world are getting along. Bliss!
As soon as either of them is alone with you, the truth prevails.
Your cousin: “She is alright, but I think she is rather plastic. Her accent was a front and she over painted her face with make-up.”
And you, like any other bloke would think after you witnessed their rapport say “I thought you told her that you liked her hair and that she was pretty.”
And your date complains too “Your cousin was a bit cocky. I don’t think I really like her; she was sort of waiting for me to say hi to her first. Oh, and I hated her shoes as well – who still wears Cortina?”
Cortina? Those were Mary Janes. Ok you may think that they are like so ten seasons ago, but that is beside the point.
And your face is like confused.com! You are thinking, what just happened? They seemed to get along quite well when they were introduced. When within the short period of interaction did your cousin have time to be cocky?
Dude, you are not alone. Join the queue of bewildered men who have tried to crack women-speak for years. Do not strain your brain cells trying to understand the Morse code that was exchanged between those two fatal females. Once you grow facial hair, have a broken voice and hang between your legs, that language is lost on you. It is like trying to teach a billy goat Ibibio.
It is said that maybe when God dispersed the builders of the Tower of Babylon by making them speak different languages, thereby confusing them; women came away with a distinct language that blokes could never decipher.
Forget about the groom and bridesmaids, why do you think the bride wears white at weddings? I do not know either, but the groom’s black is a symbol of piety, mourning and soberness.
White means I am the star, I am pure, look at me, the prettiest and luckiest among women folk. I am getting married today so I am a princess and you other females, bridal train and visitors alike are my loyal subjects. All hail and worship me. I also get to choose lousy outfits for the bridesmaids. How about orange and yellow? Check?
But no seriously, but do you ever wonder why females have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to succeed? Maybe it is because they have to contend with venom spitting females as well as chauvinistic males.
Look at the Nigerian entertainment industry, I daresay females have it much harder and that’s why there are way fewer stars especially among the new acts. I was reading something online recently about a fashion event had just occurred some days before. It had pictures of svelte Nigerian models in various poses modeling the new fashion line of various Nigerian designers. What got me splitting my sides, but scratching my head was a reader comment below the pictures. One girl said “This Annette Begg girl poses too much! What is always wrong with her, sef?”
And I am thinking, hello Ms. Begg is a model, and posing is what they do. I doubt if fashion designers hired her to postulate theories on physics.
I read an interview somewhere in which Goldie the Nigerian singer claimed that in the entertainment industry there is a ridiculous competition amongst females about who has the biggest boobs and this has caused a lot of infighting. Wow, no wonder Cossy Orjiakor is much derided. But Mercy Johnson seems to be doing rather well.
Did women learn a kind of mental martial art at the Women’s Conference at Beijing in 1995? The conference was held in China, you know?
Some years back, a girl I took out on date got into a tiff with another female at the entrance to the beach. Actually she made a snide remark about the other girl, who somehow read her lips and figured out it was aimed at her. The other female started crying and told her boyfriend who looked like a muscle-builder. Imagine a dark 6 foot 6 man with Gentle Jack’s build and Hanks Anuku’s temper. He and the other girl had just started going steady, and as a new boyfriend, he felt the need to defend her “honour.” Against. Me. An innocent person, guilty by association!
This female mental warfare thing happens almost everywhere. You get better and quicker service as a guy, from a female customer agent, than a female would. In some restaurants, you even get bigger portions if the waiter is a female than your date! Female bank cashiers seem to eye up female customers and are more likely to be lackadaisical.
Even on the roads, it is no different. I was driving my car and had a girl sitting next to me. An okada rider carrying a woman swerved dangerously, entering my lane just to overtake. I rolled down my window because I and my female friend wanted to chide the okada-man for his recklessness, and the woman on the okada said to my friend: “You de talk now, because dem don carry you now.” She was insinuating that my friend was a sex-hawker? Unbelievable! And we were not even talking to her, we were warning the okada-man about his recklessness. But she aimed her missile at the female.
I was with the lads recently having drinks when they broached this subject. Someone said he noticed that when girls met or were introduced for the first time, they usually touched each other’s hair, complimenting or making observations about their hair. He said that this act is a non-verbal communication in itself. It either creates a bond or bondage.
My friend amusingly backed up his postulation with an example. He observed that when women say something to each other, men hear something else. Let me illustrate:
Men hear – I love your hair, it is sooooo long. Wow!
What girl is saying – Your hair covers your flaky scalp and big ears perfectly.
Men hear – I really like your shoes. They look comfy.
What girl is saying – Interesting and weird choice of shoe color and material. They cover your bunions up perfectly.
It is though that any chap who can learn “womanese” would rule the world, with palaces in every city and a harem of beauties. Well there is a way to learn it but the price is too high to pay. Good luck learning it. You can become what you learn, you know.
Mothers or older women are not left out either. It is funny how most mothers may never let their sons marry a divorcee or a lady with children from a prior relationship, but would find it difficult to understand why their divorcee or single-mum daughter is finding it difficult to get a suitor.
A friend of mine once told me that a mother can tell if her son’s fiancée had been promiscuous from just looking at the fiancée and engaging her in small conversation.
The scenario is like this: Junior takes Virginia his long-time girlfriend who he had just asked to marry him to go and see his folks.
They are greeted at the door by Junior’s dad, who embraces Virginia with happiness at seeing his dear son’s future wife. They sit down on the comfy lounges chatting, and then Junior’s mother comes into the living room.
Junior introduces his fiancée to his mother: “Mum, please meet Virginia, my girlfriend. She is an accountant and works with Summit Bank.”
Mum dukes says “Hello dear. How are you? How are your parents?”
They all sit down for a while with Junior, Virginia and dad doing most of the talking while the mother looks on and chips in once in a while.
The mother then says to the fiancée “I am preparing us dinner. Join me in the kitchen, dear.”
In kitchen, the mum starts dicing okra with a huge sharp kitchen knife, changes to perfect pidgin without breaking her stride and without even looking at the fiancée says “As I de see you so, make you waka after you don chop dinner finish. You nor fit marry ma pikin o. You wey don see life finish and don waka town well well. Junior na small boy. Shebi you don hear wetin I talk so.”
After which mum asks with a smile, a la Bree from Desperate Housewives “Do you want some tea? Or a soft drink perhaps?”
Virginia is astounded. “Thank you Ma. Do you have Bitter Lemon? Or Parle Soda?”
Meanwhile, Junior and daddy are sitting in lounge, chatting excitedly about Junior’s date and other arrangements, oblivious to the scenario which had just unfolded in the smoking cauldron that is their kitchen.
It is funny – why do you think there is always usually wife and mother-in-law drama. Most men get along with their fathers-in-law. Well except for Robert De Niro’s character in “Meet The Parents”. Bob De Niro was a sadist, and Ben Stiller was a goof bag, so that is understandable.
Ladies with female bosses have it worse usually. Some bosses are known to be obsessed with what their female colleague is wearing rather than the quality of their work. Some bosses also obsess and antagonize if the junior is married and is purportedly shirking her responsibilities at work so as to get home on time. Or if the junior has any perceived airs.
Some girls have turned female slagging into an obsession. You read some girls’ venomous diatribes in the comment sections of BellaNaija and they are sometimes more interesting than the article itself. The venomous comments usually start with the reader saying “Ok where do I start?” and she rubs her hands with glee, ready to lay into the fashion offender featured in the article.
It is crazy – my friend took a girl called Tolu to a really upscale restaurant in VI. They had hardly taken their seats and made their order, when his date scanned the area and started analyzing every girl’s outfit. She didn’t care if the men came dressed like Borat with a Ghana-Must-Go man bag and kito slippers.
Her concern was only with the women:
Oh what does she think she is wearing? She is a hot mess!
That is a fake Louis Vuitton bag. That is VL not LV.
Everyone is wearing Louboutins this days, na wa o. Leave it alone, already.
Oh that is a fake Ralph Lauren Polo shirt; the horse seems to be riding the man.
Look at that tacky lace front. She looks like Zelda from Terrahawks.
My friend was bored after a few minutes. All he could think of was picking the tab, and seeing if he can get some after-coffee loving to make up for his time and resource.
Tolu kept on bad-mouthing other girls in the place, until one girl on a date herself, who was sitting at a table a short distance away noticed that Tolu was talking about her. She gave Tolu the finger quickly. Her date didn’t even notice, he was busy looking at the expensive menu nervously.
What I cannot understand for the life of me, is why women always abuse or fight the other woman, if they catch their partner cheating. I mean your partner cheated on you; why blame the other lady. Women call the other woman a “slut” even though their partner may have lied that he isn’t spoken for. A man would usually face his girl if he caught her cheating – the other guy just had game. Hate the game and not the player.
Even when females physically fight, it is outrageous. The aim is not to hurt or cause each other physical pain but to strip their foe of her beauty. They humiliate rather than maim.
I once witnessed a 20 minute fight between two girls feuding over a chap; the girls stripped each other of weave, hair, nails and clothes. It was like the fight scene between Dennis Richards and the black girl in the movie Undercover Brother. The mostly male audience, including the girls’ love interest all watched the fight, enjoying the free show. Somebody may have even brought popcorn.
A friend of mine opined that as men, we actually need women to not get along. It creates a competitiveness that gives men the advantage. Chaps have dated friends, sisters, cousins and relatives by playing them up against each other.
I am not sure about that one. Ellen De Generes looks immune to that theory.
A woman can bear you, break you, take you
Queen Latifah (Ladies First, 1989)
My girls aint the same, guess it is cause of the fame/
Smile in my face, and throw dirt on my name/
Mad cause I made it, now friends intimidated/
Hate it that I’m in the same game as them/
With more fame than them/
Foxy Brown (My Life, 1999)
Is the cup half full or half empty?
That question seems to be a general litmus test for measuring whether a person is optimistic and forward-thinking or if the person is a pessimist who lives life with a fear of unknown.
It is clear that a person’s attitude towards life determines his altitude.
It is hard to smile and be positive being a citizen of a third world country. The breakdown of infrastructure and leadership constantly erodes one’s cause for optimism and any general positive outlook.
Even a person, who wakes up on a king sized water-bed, eats a wholesome breakfast prepared by a gourmet chef, is chaffeur driven in a smart Mercedes Maybach to work, still has to contend with the level of poverty around him.
It is not a pretty sight.
Whether you start off your morning from Park View Estate Ikoyi or from under an over-crowded bridge in Oshodi, you still experience bad roads, traffic, armed robbery, dirt strewn streets, putrid smells, 419, NEPA’s ogbanje behavior and the general breakdown of infrastructure.
Naija still a nation of happy people? The streets tell different.
The level of poverty, disillusionment and suffering affects every citizen of Nigeria directly or indirectly. Some advantaged individuals who have found themselves in positions of authority have exploited the general desperation and the despair of members of the public. Nigeria is becoming an Animal Farm nation. What happened to the community of Tales by Moonlight?
I was once invited to a church where the only thing the pastor dwelled on was negativity. He gave the congregation 8 prayer points and all of them where prayers for the destruction of their enemies: “Okay, by fire, by thunder, open your mouth! Pray that your enemies will die! No, in fact pray that they will almost die, but not give up the ghost, so that they can recover and witness your success. After then, let them perish.”
And I am like, make up your mind; which one is it then?
The pastor went on “Who is the Achan or Judas in your life; responsible for your present travails and anguish? It could be your next door neighbor or even the person sitting next to you now!”
A set of twins sitting next to each other, looked at themselves with scorn and suspicion. So, it has been your doing all along eh, Kehinde?
At the end of the service, I realized, that the Word had not been preached at all.
The pastor seemed obsessed with characters from the bible like Delilah, Achan, Judas, Nimrod and Cain rather than the gospel and God’s promises towards everyone.
And the pastor’s negative outlook trickled down to members of the congregation; I got the feeling that they went away feeling angry at the world, deprived and paranoid. Every other person on earth was out to kill, steal and destroy them.
There seems to be a fascination with negativity in many aspects of our national life.
Pessimism about the future and the lack of trust in figures of authority and the system.
Government is building a road – Them wan thief money, ole.
The principal has ordered everyone to assemble at school hall to welcome a speaker – I am skipping school jare; it is a trap to catch people owing fees.
Please join the queue, everyone will be attended to – I nor be JJC. Abeg make I enter your front. Dem wan give only dem broda.
Even in relationships and marriage situations. If you ask some couples about their partner, they are likely to complain about their shortcomings and faults. My hubby is having an affair with a lady in red top. He goes to see her every Saturday or Sunday. Her name is Arsenal.
The chap wants his missus to sit tight, while he meets up with the lads at Marquee.
Men grow unappreciative – her cooking is so bad that she even burns water. Oh, girls in my office are waay hotter than she is. That svelte-looking lady in your office may burn more than H2O, for example your apartment to start with. Or a hole through your wallet.
The grass is not always greener on the other side.
In relationships, it is the same. Everyone wants too much, too soon.
It is all well and good to want the posh apartment, an SUV that can surf on Lekki sand, a job that pays you for doing nothing like parking meters, first class travel tickets etc.
Where is our sense of appreciation for the finer things of life – in our marriages, relationships, work ethic, family?
I have seen promising relationships end because of impatience and misplaced priorities. Tupac Shakur rapped in the duet “Are You Still Down” with Jon B “I will make you smile/ but you would rather have what makes your cry.”
You can decide to love what you see or risk waiting in vain for the person you want them to be?
The general mistrust of the system and despair have driven up the rate of crime, and diversified the methods of crime.
Armed robbery is so old school now, plus it is very risky. Shady characters are devising ways to make loot without lifting a weapon. Bandits are formulating capers with the sophistication of the Italian Job or Ocean’s Eleven movies.
I do not know how it works and neither do I want to, but people have had experiences with hypnotists.
An acquaintance of mine called Femi told me that he was standing at the gate front of his house in Surulere, taking fresh air when a man walked up to him from the street. The man greeted and asked him for the directions to a street. Femi said that in all his years of living in Surulere, he had never heard of that street before.
He then noticed that the man was staring at him intensely, and he started becoming dizzy. So he gave the man a mighty slap. POAW! The man looked at him dazed but surprised, but picked himself up, turned around and ran away.
When Femi told me this story, I didn’t know what to think.
I mean Femi is a grown man, about 6’4 in height, nothing to mess with.
Apparently his cousin had had a bad experience some months back in FESTAC where money-doublers hypnotized him at a local bar and made him go home and pack all of his step-mum’s jewelry. His step mother was a Yoruba Alhaja, so you can imagine that that’s a whole lot of ice.
But I was thinking, regarding his cousin, are you sure it is not the typical FESTAC “psyching”. Back in the day, there were dubious chaps skilled in the art of “psyching”, which means convincing people to do things for them? There was nothing fetish about psyching! FESTAC and Surulere boys could psyche!
Maybe Femi was paranoid and slapped an innocent man, no doubt influenced by his cousin’s bad experience. Better safe than sowee.
But really how do the hypnotists work? Do they do an abracadabra thing with their arms, and say “You are under a spell; you will walk to your house and bring all your valuables?” Heaven forbid.
See why ATM debit cards are advantageous? See why one should bank with Spring Bank? It hardly has its own bank-branded ATM machines or hardly dispenses cash due to network issues. Sorry awon hypnotists, the ATMs are not dispensing cash. Ha-ha.
And really, I have never understood the concept of money-doublers. Back in primary school, there was an English textbook that told stories for comprehension exercises. There was a particular one I liked about a geezer called Agu the washer-man. He gave all his earnings to money-doublers and lost everything. He had no business answering a powerful name like Agu then, if he could be easily ‘swarved.’
I have always wondered, that if you want to double your money, isn’t it smarter to hand them a tiny sum like say N100, so that they could double it till it becomes like say, N1million. Why would you give them like say N500, 000? Just my thoughts.
But as a nation, why do we always dwell on negatives?
This is reflected in our movies; there are always fetish practices, human sacrifice, 419, bloodshed, oppression, anger etc.
The ordinary man is bitter and cynical and classifies all well off people as corrupt money-stealers or people who made their fortune by illicit means.
I was at a beer parlor once where a group of able bodied men, poured scorn on every well dressed or affluent looking individual that came through the door or drove past on the street.
In Stalin’s Russia, such men would have been sent to Siberia to put their flippant tongues to good use, singing folk songs while working the mines. Call me sexist, but I share Sean Carter’s view that “men shouldn’t be jealous, that’s a female trait.”
Then there are the business pessimists. You share a business idea with them and they swear it would not work in Nigeria: There is the Naija X factor. Nothing works here!
I remember how many people said ATMs would not work in our dear country. Armed robbers and stick-up kids will rob you at the ATM machine. Some fraudster would design an ATM card that will be able to override the system and withdraw N1m. And I am like, na ATM card. No be Whot o! ATM machine no be kalokalo.
What happened to examining an idea on its merits rather than recurring and brazen skepticism?
I love my cousin. He is the most driven individual I have ever met. Once he had this initiative he wanted to start in Lagos State, and was running the idea by a few of his friends. Anytime, he mentioned a point, there was this chap that would mention one logistic problem or the other. This went on for a few minutes.
Finally my cousin could not take this chap’s negativity anymore and said “Get behind me, Evil Man!”
The chap disappeared in a ball of smoke!
Okay, truth be told, he didn’t disappear that way, but he left in annoyance with steam puffing out of his nostrils.
We have to careful about the way our nieces, nephews and kids are brought up, making sure they are exposed to a culture of winning, positivity, hope, enthusiasm and optimism..
I know someone whose nanny refused to let her and her sister play with their Barbies when they were kids. On the nanny’s day of resumption of duty, she shrieked and shouted “Tufiakwa!” when she saw the children playing with dolls.
“They are idols, like Baal in the bible!” she added.
The nanny saw the youngest child in the house playing with her “My Little Pony” doll.
She panicked and screamed “That is an idol – it looks like the golden calf that Moses had to destroy.”
She would not like Ninja Turtles, no way.
She took giant matches, gathered the dolls, doused them with kerosene and burnt them. She further marveled when the latex dolls understandably didn’t burn properly and counted it as evidence of an evil presence.
I would have shot her to death with my water pistol if she had tried to burn my He-Man or Voltron action figures.
My friend told me that the nanny never listened to the radio or watched TV – not even the Mexican hit soap opera “Wild Rose” which was airing on Nigerian TV then. That is when I knew there must have been something wrong. ALL domestic helps loved “Wild Rose.”
But then again the nanny thought spaghetti were worms, and kept away from cooking or serving it. My guess is that she wouldn’t fancy Indomie then.
I personally believe any idea will work here as far as the service is aimed at a particular demographic and is a niche service. Do the naysayers have a point though? I have been skeptic about some things too.
I personally thought cinemas may struggle to get custom in Nigeria before “Goldenfowl” came on board.
Rightly so because in the early 90s, circa 1993, I and a couple of chaps broke bounds from boarding school and snuck out to a film house around the Sandgross area of Lagos Island. The film house usually had Indian and Chinese movies on show on a 22-inch box TV, with rows of seats for the punters. Forget popcorn and fizzy drinks, outside the cinema, road-side hawkers sold Agege bread and mai-shy (fried eggs and suya). We bought the “take-away” and entered the dark film house.
We were enjoying the movie and our greasy treats when commotion started. PAOW!!
A fight had broken out about 30 minutes into the movie, because one chap, who had obviously seen the movie thousands of times before, kept on singing the Indian songs out loud, repeating the dialogue and narrating what was going to happen to another man’s annoyance.
The movie in question was “Sunita” (The Promise), so I could understand. I won’t lie, I loved that movie and knew the lyrics to every song too. But, I wasn’t daft enough to sing out though, and risk being beaten up by an irate audience of city night-crawlers.
It is even more astounding when those who are obsessed with negativity believe that ordinary objects have sinister connotations.
I have an uncle who is a pastor in “Find, Bind and Destroy Them Ministries” with branches in the 36 states of Nigeria. Years back, when I was a teen, he saw a dog tag on my neck, and panicked as he ripped them from my neck giving me neck wounds: “Take off those charms and amulets. How can you wear such things? Who gave them to you?”
I was like wow. I bought those from LOP in VI for a decent sum. I guess my uncle would not like American Marines.
Positive over negative, peoples. Living in fear and suspicion only builds a fortification around us which is a limitation. No matter what our situation is, we have to stay positive and hopeful. Avoid falling into the pit-falls of intimidation, ignorance, anxiety and paranoia.
I like the life I live/
Because it went from negative to positive/ and its all good…
Notorious Big (Juicy, 1994)
Just strap up and hold on/
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst/
No fears, no nothing on earth/
Nas (Life is what you make it, 1999)
1. Whitney Houston – I have nothing (1992)
2. Statik Selektah feat. Bun B, Wale & Colin Munroe – So close, So far (2010)
3. 702 – Where my girls at (1999)
4. Missy Elliot feat. 702 – Beep me 911 (1997)
5. Foxy Brown – If I (1996)
6. Mase feat. Total – Tell me what you want (1997)
7. Toni Braxton – The Heat (1999)
8. Mariah Carey feat. Mobb Deep – The Roof (Remix) (1997)
9. Klever Jay – Koni Koni Love (2008)
10. Lil’ Mo feat. Fabolous – Superwoman (2001)
The art of “mis-yarning” is as old as language itself. From biblical examples (Moses took credit for a miracle and was subsequently prevented by God from entering Canaan) to historical accounts and even to the stuff of Roman legends.
In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia the queen of Argos mis-yarned by bragging that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than a goddess and was punished when the goddess sent them a Kraken (a sea monster, not a type of Danish cookie) to torment their island kingdom.
Nigerians love to talk – we babble on our smart phones in traffic at risk to our own safety, we reluctantly switch off our handsets ready for air take off, only to turn them back on as soon as the plane’s tires touch terra firma. Some also talk in the cinema, spoiling the enjoyment of more serious movie-lovers.
I mean who would be more interested in Angelina Jolie’s hair-do or hair-color, than in following the intriguing plot of the movie she is starring in? I was at Goldenfowl Cinema in Victoria Island recently to watch Salt, and a teenage girl in front of me kept talking during the movie, about Ms. Jolie’s hair. Someone on her row got fed-up with the distraction and asked her to hush. The girl got upset and started mouthing off, ruining the movie for us all. Now that is adding Salt to injury. Ok bad joke.
Way back at University in England, the librarian almost put up a “Not More Than One Nigerian Allowed” sign after he got tired of breaking up gatherings of shouting Nigerians camped outside the school library, chatting on top of their voices and shouting without a care. Our compatriots simply moved to the law library to continue.
So we are a bit chatty, but so are many people of Latin or Negro descent.
We also sabi mis-yarn well well.
Definition of mis-yarn from the Revised Pidgin English Dictionary (2010 Edition). To mis-yarn; to speak nonsense (verb), or any form of absurd or foolish talk (noun), informal or empty talk or opinion (noun), nonsense. See also bosh, opata.
Ok let me totally rephrase – we Nigerians can talk smack.
How many times has someone commented on your personal business or choice of fashion or any lifestyle choice of yours in a public place, and to the hearing of all not even originally privy to the conversation? Ah Alex, what is this? You have added (weight). See your bele.
Or chei! See big pimples on your face. Stop eating gra-nut.
It would interest you that I am actually allergic to nuts.
The above are little examples.
Or the guest who told the bride on her wedding day that he had not had a bite to eat since he came. Well, he didn’t exactly tell the bride, he sort of shouted it out to the audience at the reception including the enemies of the couple, and the bride and groom heard too.
Miffed at being overlooked by people who were serving only those they knew or were related to or those wearing aso-ebi, he cursed aloud “I have not been served anything since I came. Not even a grain of rice or a drop of water. Everyone sitting around me is eating and drinking. This is not a wedding, it is a funeral!”
Someone should have told him that actually funerals these days are like banquets for kings. So much food, so little tears for the deceased.
The funny thing is that sometimes this mis-yarn happens on live TV too. In 1988 American folk songstress called Tracy Chapman (a bit like Asa) released a single called “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight” which became a hit around the world.
Some years later, a little known Nigerian by the name of Eddie Salt (not real name) recorded a cover of the same song and shot a video for it. Eddie Salt was like your typical late 80s to early 90s Nigerian singer – he had very wet Jeri Curls, he wore costumes that glittered and he looked like the sort of dude who adds “pretty’ or “prince” in front of his government name.
In an interview on national TV, Eddie was asked what inspired him to record a cover of the song. The look on his face was as if he didn’t know what the interviewer was talking about. The person interviewing then asked Eddie if he was aware that song had been recorded by a popular American artiste called Tracy Chapman.
With a face as straight as 12 O’clock, Eddie said he had never heard of Tracy Chapman and that he was not aware that she had recorded “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight”. He further claimed ridiculously, that someone had hinted him recently that someone may have copied his song, and that infact he could not wait to see or meet this Tracy Chapman if it were her!
To be fair, Tracy Chapman had probably never heard of Eddie either.
But what gets my goat as well is when Nigerians do not take the environment or circumstances into consideration before they mis-yarn. I mean, there is a time and place for everything, right?
Some years back, I had to travel to Aba in Abia State around Christmas time with my niece. I decided to go by luxury bus, so I took XYZ from Jibowu which was going to Aba via Owerri. The journey was smooth enough and we got to Owerri around 5.30pm. About 85 per cent of the passengers dropped at Owerri, and the driver decided to wait for about 45 minutes to refuel the bus and to eat.
By the time we left Owerri, it was really getting dark and the bus had about 20 passengers onboard. We got to a place about 30 minutes from Aba, when the bus started having problems. The driver would start it and when he tried to accelerate, the bus engine would stall and quit. He would try to restart it and the car would refuse.
It was dark outside, and to make matters worse, we were in an area which was notorious in the past for armed robbers. There was no street lighting, the road was deserted save for a few cars passing by and we were surrounded by thick forests and owls hooting. Think Road Trip meets Tales by Moonlight. Oh my days.
It was very dark because the bus’s lighting was also failing. Some kids started crying because they were hungry and exhausted from travelling all day. A toddler threw up on a passenger a row beside me. The toddler’s mum blamed XYZ. The passenger’s smart agbada was covered in Cerelac. I was worried about my niece’s safety.
Then to front row of the bus, stepped up a man dressed in yellow polyester short -sleeved suit. He started preaching and talking about his ministry. In a thick Ibo accent, he relayed a story about how a year back, a bus carrying passengers to Port Harcourt got involved in an incident: “Just as the bus was approaching the hamlet of Isiala-Ngwa, the devil struck 20 yards from the toll gate. BOOM! The vehicle ran into a petrol tanker, and everyone on board the motor perished! Their families did not celebrate Christmas that year again!”
Everyone’s mouths were agape with terror. Even kids too young to fully comprehend started crying aloud. And I am like dude, of all the times and places to tell this story! The man ceased the moment by handing our fliers and pamphlets advertising his church and ministry. Let’s just say he ran out of fliers.
To be fair though, there are sometimes when your mis-yarn occurred because you meant to say something but it came out with another meaning. There was time I interviewed for a position with an oil service firm in VI. The chap doing the interview was a French middle-aged man whose English wasn’t so good. We had already discussed my professional and academic experiences as well as what the role entailed.
To break the ice a bit, he asked me what my interests were. I also asked him what part of France he came from, and what sport he was into. I was hoping that he was into football so I could talk about French football clubs I knew about like PSG, Marseille and Monaco. He however said he was into rugby and used to play rugby back in college.
In a spot of madness, I said “Rugby is a physical game, you have to be fit to play.” I didn’t know why then, but the guy looked at me in a weird manner and laughed uneasily. What I meant was that rugby was a tough sport and playing it generally required top physical fitness. The guy obviously thought that I meant that there was no way he could have ever played rugby because of his large gut. Talk about the phrase “pardon my French.” Sacre blue!
Needless to say, I never got that job. I did receive an email thanking me for my interest…
But seriously, there are levels of mis-yarn where the mis-yarner has done so out of lack of exposure or out of complete ignorance.
I was at a wedding once where the MC was a 40 something year old chap who was dressed in a red suit made out of linen, white snake skin shoes, suspenders and a bowler hat, all in 60 degree weather. The guy talked in a loud voice and was very brash.
After “Item No 7” on the menu, it was time for the couple to cut their wedding cake. The MC called out the couple and the baker of the cake. He then announced that he needed about a dozen girls from the audience who were virgins. I kid you not. These were his words “Please finally all I need are 11 or 12 single virgins. I am giving you 5 minutes, come and witness the cutting of the cake”
Well, no girls came out and I don’t think it is just because they were shy. Maybe12 is a lot to ask for.
Mis-yarning also occurs in customer service situations. I was once at a “Miss Little” branch in Aba, behind a man and a woman who had come on a date. When it was time to order, the woman started going through a verbal rundown of items on the menu board one by one.
She asked cashier, “How much is your chicken pie?” Getting irritated, the cashier replied “ The price is on the menu board, but it is N200.”
Pointing to the menu board again, she asked “What is tasty fiesta?”
The cashier visibly expatiated said “It is made out of eggs.”
She replied “Oh it is akwa. Interesting. I can see salad. Is it ugba?”
The cashier replied dryly “No it is oyibo salad made out of lettuce and carrots and not cassava and palm-oil. Please make your order. People are on the queue.”
She was about to order when something on the menu board caught her attention “Which one is Ice Cream Sunday (sundae). I doesn’t know about it. Is it because today is Sunday?”
Cashier: “It is ordinary ice-cream. Please let me take your order.”
The woman’s date just looked on quietly. He looked like he was calculating the bill in his mind, and praying that she wouldn’t do anything rash with her order.
Stubbornly, the woman continued “Mba, I want to know what is in that ice-cream sunday. What is in that ice cream sunday?” pointing with her finger to the menu board which had a picture of the item.
The cashier replied smartly “It is a trade secret.”
I couldn’t hold it in when I heard that, and I laughed out loud. I agree that a customer needs to know what is in a product, though not necessarily how it is made but the cashier’s answer was funny.
The lady eyed me maliciously, but that seems to have shut her up as she made her order and freed up the queue.
Sometime in the mid to late 90s, there was a popular night program on DBN called “The Night Shift” where callers could make a request from a list of movies in a line-up. The movie with the most votes was shown to the public. It was a hit program because they showed the latest movies. Oh, the sweet days before Silverbird, eh?
There was this nice looking lady anchoring the program then. She used to get hit on by male callers. She once had a chap ask her for her phone number on live TV to which she declined politely even though she looked a bit embarrassed. These were the days before GSM mobile services, so she would have had to give out her home number. All of the male audience were waiting.
On another occasion after reading out the line-up of available movies, she told a male caller to make his choice. He said “You.”
At least, he knew what he wanted.
What about when the mis-yarn is directed at your loved one?
A lady brought her 4 year old son to cut his hair at a salon close to where I live. The child was shouting and thrashing about, clearing terrified of the sound of the hair clipper. The barber could not get him to sit still and the kid kept on pushing the clipper blade away.
The child’s mum couldn’t get him to calm down and gave up.
The fed-up barber screamed down the kid’s ears “Shut up or I will barb you gorimakpa!! Then rub your head with palm-oil.”
Everyone in the salon went quiet with surprise. Even the child’s mother was too weak to say anything.
Maybe she thought that the threat was also directed at her perfect Brazilian lace -front wig.
“Zip up your lip before your lips zip you up”
E-40 (Record Haters, 1996)
Remembered the words of my father
he was killed by cancer, but he died a martyr
swore to ride to war under his banner,
flags of our fathers,
the ways of man are demonic,
he would say, while sipping local gin and tonic
passion comes from the heart, but heart comes from the stomach
it’s better to take than to receive,
don’t be deceived, giving causes jaundice
and it can’t be cured by fool’s gold
the treachery of man, story of Caesar and Brutus foretold
the blueprint of life, has become a Morse code
reminiscing as I navigate like a barracuda thru this Lagos go-slow
pedal to the floor, full throttle, with my mind darker than Donnie Darko
Those words stuck with me, even to my early twenties
when I needed a father figure the most, at the turn of the century
Can never trust the decisions of jokers, they see the bottoms of bottles of Remy
Come and get me,
I write bulletproof poetry that would withstand Semi’s
When I die, lyrics live on till they become a deity
ashes and flowers in my gravesite till it becomes a sentry,
Lord Jah, forgive me for the 7 deadly sins,
I plead amnesty,
Let my soul rest at your vestry
Witnessed core police brutality
in the first degree,
it was this morning,
this unfortunate chap got into a spat,
trying to pickpocket an innocent bystander,
the jungle justice was drastic,
he was stripped bare to the bone,
with a nine of tails cat lashes
till his tissues were showing,
then the bystander victim doused him
with gasoline, kerosene,
some jerk supplied the matches,
produced fire on the first strike,
burnt like the Spanish Inquisition
The cop observed the scene, arms folded
he did nada
but he isn’t Tomas de Torquemada
Damn! this can’t be my country Nigeria neither,
fool this is Sparta!
I need a breather…
Just finished zoning off a Fish Called Wanda
Cruising in my Honda, with the air conditioner off,
arms outstretched feelin in the breeze,
forget what you think, my way of connecting to these streets
where it’s wicked to walk late
but the Embassy won’t tell tourists
they jack your motor, while you drive, Operation Swordfish
area fathers haunt avenues by night,
in the day torment on sight,
it is your throw of the dice,
but only one outcome,
Escort bullion vans coming through traffic,
All you hear is the report of a loud gun
Once, it was in Oshodi, everyone scattered, ducked,
old women jumping over gutters, market wares,
Slid into a stall, to check if I was hit
I was alright, but I spied this kid
Next to me,
He was bleeding in the chest,
And he didn’t look like he was going to make it
Only 23, and to think he came just to get his girl a bracelet,
Cut down in the twilight of his years
now he’s wasted
An Arab student sends an e-mail to his dad, saying: “Dear Dad, Berlin is wonderful, people are nice and I really like it here, but Dad, I am a bit ashamed to arrive at my college with my pure-gold Ferrari 599GTB when all my teachers and many fellow students travel by train. Your son, Nasser…”
The next day, Nasser gets a reply to his e-mail from his dad: “My dear loving son, Twenty million US Dollars has just been transferred to your account. Please stop embarrassing us. Go and get yourself a train too. Love, your Dad”
A world so far from reality
but parables are taught in order to seek
and yet abstract is the only word that concurs
Luscious it seems but dwells in the mind
To the righteous they say it pays the redemption price
so mystified, can only be a paragon
(March 12, 1998)