COMMODE STORY

puppet_facepalm

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)

IBOTIC

Lele

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.