All I Do Is Win (Sometimes)


One of the distinct disadvantages of writing is that sometimes sarcasm is lost in between the lines, and may come across as bitter sour grapes. I hope this turns out right.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t aware of when the Nigerian Bug Awards took place. I was on baby duties that evening, and the infant was on a roll churning out soiled diaper after soiled diaper. When I managed to get the wee one to sleep in my arms, I transferred her to her cot and did a small victory dance. I then tip-toed to watch the Copa America football tournament on TV in the living room. I fell asleep on the sofa, only to woken up by the baby’s loud yells of “Bros, I never chop for 3 hours o! Come give me food abeg before I tear down the walls with cry cry Similac or Cerelac?

Nah seriously, the next morning, I saw the Nigerian Awards results on my twitter-feed, and spat out my Golden Morn cereal. I went through 3 different emotions. The first one was a Buhari type of disappointment. I was really hoping that somehow that maybe a true juggernaut blog like BellaNaija had re-entered the competition at the eleventh hour and swept all the awards deservedly. Thinking back, initially I was a bit surprised that none of the blogs on my blog-roll was nominated in the first place. Not only did I not win, but my judgment has been called into question.

I have read some truly awesome blogs, some of which I decided to add to my blog wall. From the direct and tell it as it is “Ms Luffa” to Waila Caan’s awesome diary of London and the quirky happenings on the Tube, to RustGeek’s quirky musings about life in freezing Aberdeen, to Today’s Naira which is a very welcome blog about financial management and fiscal discipline in today’s Nigeria.  Then there is Stuff Nigerians Hate, a blog I really like with its dark comedy and spoofs. And I also have to mention one of the most well put together online journals about Nigerian and UK weddings, the Wedding Trendy blogsite. The videos on the 4AcesDate blog are some of the most creative stuff I have seen on a blog too. In fact all the blogs on my wall were painstakingly chosen blogs which are unique and have my respect; and I had nominated them for various categories.  Awesome blogs all.

I later got over it, because I somehow reasoned that I had lost the popular vote. I may have been a bit lax in canvassing for votes; understandably, but a part of me feels it is corny to go all out soliciting for votes. Your body of work should speak for you always, innit? To be fair, I try to read a little bit of everything, and would click on most links to blogs when I am on more popular websites. I fancy stuff that is different and thoughtfully written – material that can challenge my brain cells and my perception on matters, and open up new frontiers of knowledge.You can always tell when a blogger writes from the heart. Heart is what blogging is about. If you use your isi or ori , to write blogs, your articles would read like Physics for SS3. I also prefer Indie blogs which are not on the mainstream.

But you know how sometimes something unfortunate happens to you, and you try to brush it under the carpet, but well-wishers and friends actually won’t let you because they are genuinely hurt for you, and appalled by the sense of injustice surrounding the whole matter? And as a result, their anger re-ignites yours, as you begin to really see their point of view? Well it happened to me, after I had brushed off my initial disappointment.  I clicked on a link on the Nigerian Blog Awards’ twitter feed, which directed me to their website, and I saw the touching comments of some of you readers there. Some of my dear blog readers had left comments complaining about the fact that I had not won! You guys know that I love you, right? I love you like Agege bread and fish stew, I love you like house flies love Mushin dustbin; I love you like Buhari and Presidential election. Heck, I heart you more than Dangote loves cement. Shout out especially to Stelzz and Tinkerbell.

At that point, I picked up my pen and paper and started to write this (actually I looked for an old receipt code for a Cyber Café near my house, then went there and logged in).

The last time people showed me this kind of concern where they “were drinking Panadol for my sickness” was way back in secondary school. It was a balmy night in boarding school when I was in Form 3. We had finished exams for the 2nd term, so everybody was in a crazy mood later that evening during prep. When you have a motley crew of 100 jobless adolescent boys with nothing to read for, it is a recipe for disaster. Some started drumming loudly on the classroom desks. A few broke into some kind of Indian war dance. Many started slapping junior students about. And a good few started smashing coke and soft drink bottles about. Food fight! But without liquid contents only.

Then 2 chaps got into a fight in the classroom quadrangle outside over some petty issue. Chaps gathered around them urging them on in gladiator fashion with the chants “It is a rack! It is a rack!!” With their Clarks sandals, dirty clothes, and one of them still wielding a fork (from the dining hall), they did look like gladiators from the Spartacus series. All that remained was a net (mosquito net) and a lion to devour the loser (our strict Boarding House Master would suffice).

I was rushing out from one of the classes to ‘add’ my own quota to the fight, adrenaline pumping and all,  when I stepped, full weight, on a huge shard of glass. All I saw was blood everywhere – the glass which was from one of the smashed bottles had sliced through my bathroom slippers and cut me inches deep.

The two chaps racking postponed their tussle, and everybody now gathered around me. One of the chaps there took a look at my bloodied foot and yelled in horror:

“Oh shit! Esco, you are mortally wounded. That wound doesn’t look good at all. It is so deep that I can see your nerves and bone”

Some people took a look, and the expression of their faces was that of doom and anguish. One of the fighters even started crying.

I echoed what I had heard, as I was in shock “Oh damn! I am really mortally wounded. My nerve and bone are showing. If I die, what am I going to tell my ma? She will be really pissed that I was so careless to step on a bottle”

Everyone nodded in agreement – I was royally screwed.

Then one chap, who was sort of a school captain wanna-be goody-two-shoes type, shoved his way into the circle, and took a look at the cut. He started calming things down “Relax Esco, don’t try to pull your foot up. We will rush you to the House Master, and get an exeat to take you to the school hospital. Someone should bring a clean handkerchief, let me bind this wound and stop the bleeding. Esco you are not mortally wounded. You will be alright.”

With such a calming influence directing things, boys dispersed into groups. Some arranged for the exeat, some got a hanky and water to dress my cut. They all followed me to the hospital, and waited in the waiting lounge until I came out – sewn and bandaged, and no worse for wear.  Eiyaa, I was moved – if I had broken a bone, I could have allowed them sign on the cast as a reward. Too bad, they can’t sign on plaster – it would be painful suicide. Good fellas, my ex-school mates huh? My misery even settled a dangerous fight, see?

That was the last time people I was not friends with bumped their heads over my matter.

From reading various blogs after the awards, there seems to be a general feeling of dissatisfaction at the results. Some bloggers who were upset about the outcome of the awards have blamed it on the emergence of “Twitter” or celebrity bloggers who garner votes by the sheer number of friends they could galvanize via social medium networks to sway voting in their favor. In one blog I read, the upset writer said that he wasn’t surprised at what he termed ‘rigging’ as Nigeria itself recognizes quantity over quality.

I couldn’t help but agree with that slightly. In Nigeria if enough people make noise about something persistently, it easily sways people’s perception on what should go. I would give the simplest example. I did my NYSC 3 week orientation in a small town in Cross River state some years back, although I got a transfer to Lagos for my primary assignment and for the rest of the service year. Those 3 weeks in Cross River were priceless moments though. I and small posse of friends from one particular infamous platoon strode like colossuses in the camp. We made a particular Mammy market joint our spot and chilled there while other people were doing back wrenching tasks. We bought the soldiers beer in exchange for camp privileges. Some other people started hanging out at the spot because of us, and the patron was pleased at the amount of custom we were bringing her so every morning she would ask us what we wanted her to cook for the day, and that became the day’s menu.

Now my close friend Chidi really fancied a chick in our platoon – a butter-skinned, full hipped beauty by the name of Ify. Who could blame him; Ify made the NYSC uniform look like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. She had curves like a Blackberry. We decided among my clique that she was going to be the next Miss Camp, and that we were going to sway the votes in her favour. We gathered a group of hangers-on who chanted her name furiously during the NYSC beauty pageant show. Our group whistled and booed other contestants until the judges were dizzy themselves.  Soon most people in the crowd started supporting our candidate by cheering for Ify and booing the contestant in their own platoon! Ultimately the panel of judges was swayed into making Ify Miss Camp. She would have been better suited for Miss Ramp, if such an award ever existed, but alas the people had spoken. The hug and kiss she gave Chidi when she was presented with her ‘crown’ and prizes was priceless. For him.

The next night, we repeated the process for the Miss Hot-Legs pageant. A social-climber girl had approached us to beg and bribe us with beer to help ‘support’ her bid to win Miss Hot-Legs. We huffed and puffed during the pageant but everything has a limit. She ended up as first runner-up even though she had short yamerous pins. Abi we no try? Some of the presidential and governorship aspirants should really have contacted me.

After I saw the results of the Blog Awards and the way some of you stood up for me, the last emotion I felt was a sense of injustice towards the award process. In fact I felt like Arnold Schwarzzenegger’s character in the movie Total Recall, and wanted to echo what he did and screamed out in the below movie scene, to the Award process:

Nah seriously, I have taken everything into perspective. It is not that important in the grand scheme of things. Not to sound corny, but your comments and hits on my blog are enough for me. By the way, please buy the book when it’s up for sale.

Love Forever

Esco 

Packaging

Package for me? I never ordered Agege bread..

For many English words, there is the ordinary meaning and then the Nigerian meaning.

Take the word “Packaging” for instance.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines it as “the act, process, industry, art, or style of packing” or “the manner in which something, such as a proposal or product, or someone, such as a candidate or author, is presented to the public.”

Fair enough.

In our dear country, Packaging refers to the act of doing the barest minimum to reach an acceptable standard even though the overall substance lacks quality. It also means padding a substandard material to bloat its appearance in excess of its utility.

Ok enough with my heavy grammar; packaging means – the more you look, the less you see.

I will illustrate as I always do.

There are times you order suya from a mallam and it comes wrapped up in sheets and sheets of newspaper. As your mouth waters in wanton anticipation of groundnut and pepper flavoured beef chunks, you  begin unwrap your “package” of suya which most times you will find, is harder to undress than an Egyptian Mummy. When you finally do, your face drops as you see the object of your affection in all its scant glory – a couple of bare strips of meat, but lots of onions and raw tomatoes. This looks like unwrapping a birthday gift wrapped in expensive paper only to discover the umpteenth photo frame gift you have received that day. Oh you shouldn’t have, you really shouldn’t have.

Not that I think that suya has anything in common with cheap photo frames, but you should get my drift. The suya mallam has expended the cost of 10 Sunday Thisday newspapers in wrapping up a N100 stick of suya, and has added N50 worth of “salad” materials for you. I hope you didn’t skip dinner for this – fufu or not.

  

At last some suya - it isnt called foil for nothing

 In my school in Britain some years back, there was this chap who barely managed to pay his school fees, and was put on some installmental payment plan by the Bursary Office on the pain of death that he pay up fully or he wouldn’t  be allowed to graduate. The situation was so bad, that the chap left the city where our varsity was located, and relocated to a much bigger city so that he could get 2 better paying jobs. He only had an average of 2-3 classes a week, so this chap made a 1 hour commute via train to the University on lecture days, spent the night and returned till the following week.

One of the jobs, this chap did was the famously known “freshen up.” For those who have lived in the UK, you know that most clubs or big bars have a steward/attendant manning the toilets. The steward had an assortment of sprays, perfumes, after-shaves and eau d’toilets arranged on a desk inside the toilet; some even stocked condoms and chewing gum. Whenever any customers or patrons used the loo and was about to wash their hands, the toilet steward would offer the customer to “freshen up” by offering him assorted hand creams to use or to spray any or some of the colognes on the table.

Most oyibo customers liked to freshen up, especially female ones who went to the toilets to touch up their make-up after boozing and sweaty dancing. The customer would usually then give the steward a tip, usually 1pound. Some drunken oyibo customers have been known to give up to 10 or 20 pounds in their drunken stupor. However no Naija or Chinese customer would give you more than 1pound, unless your cologne was called “Weakness for Men” and the club had served ogogoro and vodka cocktails.

At the end of the club night, the steward would calculate his overall takings and tips, and give the club a percentage (usually 20-30%). It was nasty work for some, but on good nights could pay up to 300pounds, which if you multiply by 5 days a week, is a decent sum to earn, albeit by spending time in toilets. It also helps that the bye-product of fish and chips is not nearly as bad as someone who has had lafun and bitter leaf topped with Star lager for dinner.

 

  

I have all types of perfumes for that smell "worrying" you

 

So this dude managed to make a tidy sum while working his “freshen up” job on exile. After some weeks, he decided he needed to travel to Nigeria to “floss” small. He quit his job, and spent a week thronging Zara, River Island, Hawes and Curtis, Charles Tyrwhitt and Cecil Gee buying shirts on discount. He also hit JJB Sports and copped a couple of sneakers and the latest Arsenal jersey for that season which he had inscribed with his name. His surname was longer than California’s governor’s now, so he spent quite a bit on the lettering.

He then hit Naija for Christmas vacation – and was a regular presence at all the events- bent

He returned to the UK flat broke in January, only to meet numerous demand letters from the school busary. Direct debits do not go on Christmas holidays, you see.

 

When he came to beg me for a loan, he explained what had happened.

I asked him why he travelled to Nigeria despite owing money up and down.

He answered unashamed “Packaging. I had to represent in Naija now.”

As at the time I graduated, he was still trying to pay off the remainder of his outstanding fees, and the school was threatening to downgrade his degree to a diploma.

Packaging, the Nigerian one, epitomizes all that is wrong in our dear country Nigeria today. People put up an act, a façade, mystifying smoke of the Wizard of Oz proportions either to win contracts, execute contracts, gain admissions, climb social ladders, conduct business or relate with people.

In Nigeria, there is no truth, only reality. And trust me, you don’t want to deal with human realities, expunging Godly truths. In the 2007 movie “The Last King of Scotland”, Forest Whitaker’s character Idi Amin tells James Mc Evoy’s character Nicholas the following chilling words “We are not a game, Nicholas. We are real. This room here, it is real. I think your death will be the first real thing that has happened to you…”

Nicholas did not die eventually, but he was hung with hooks through his bare skin about 6 feet in the air. That was real too.

Peep at another scenario:

The President decides to attend a private function in a certain state and as a result there is an influx of government ministers, senators and dignitaries. The globe-trotting, very corrupt, pot-bellied state governor decides to quickly commission a bore-hole to give the impression that he is performing and utilizing the state’s monthly subvention efficiently.

So the governor invites the President, some senators, commissioners and government dignitaries for the commissioning. The President sends a message at the last minute that unfortunately, he will not be able to attend and sends a special aide on “water and borehole matters” in his stead.

The borehole is being commissioned in the village of the Governor’s mother-in-law, but the press conveniently ignores this fact, as they are looking forward to rice and transport money after the event from the state secretariat.

At the main event, journalist cameras keep flashing; town criers go to town defending the South Africa frequenting governor on the pages on huge dailies. His cronies claim he has been globetrotting to seek foreign direct investment for the state – in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

State universities give the governor honorary degrees. Huge signs are put up at strategic areas of the state hyping the project as part of a government’s economic agendas and economic manifesto as well as irrefutable proof of taxpayer’s money in action.  The governor arrives in the cockpit of a 2011 Lexus Landcruiser SUV and cuts the ribbons to commission the project before dashing off.

The village ruler gives the Governor a chieftaincy title in absentia and adopts him as a son of the soil, and promises to support his re-election.

A few weeks later, that borehole breaks down and starts sprouting yellowish soil strewn water. To hush the farce, the commissioner for information quickly renames the project as Fanta for all by the year 2012.

It is in every area of our national consciousness – a chap presents a business proposal to you and seeks to influence your decision to award in his favour by whipping up sentiments and inducing nepotism. Ok you are related to his best friend because your grandfathers were cousins twice removed. The proposal is presented in very nice looking binding materials and the paragraphs are typed to within an inch of their life. On close scrutiny, you discover that the huge figures and million naira projections do not nearly add up, and that this project proposal was hurriedly and careless prepared without the expectation that it should stand on its merit. It has been “packaged” with the belief that other “extraneous” forces will push its case forward instead.

You toss it aside like an Olympic 20 leaves exercise book.

The chap tries to offer you an “incentive” to “look the other way”. You complain that you cannot, as you have had a stiff neck all your life.

The proposal presenter is angry, storms out of your office, and heads straight to (choose one)

  1. Babalawo
  2. Pastor of his church
  3. Report you to his best friend, saying you were acting like a mugu.

Note that he does not go back to “unpackage” and properly prepare his empty proposal.

And we have been packaging for years in Nigeria.

No books in the University? Buy hand-outs. If books were food, a hand-out will never satisfy because you are reading to pass exams and quench ignorance and not to gorge and be full of knowledge.

We have been packaging when we produce graduates that leave school and learn the most important skill of queuing for jobs or finding an “uncle” that can channel their resumes to the powerful tables for employment in crassly unprofessional banks. I watched The Social Network recently, and I cringed. Not one public Nigerian university can produce graduates or drop-outs of such ilk – entrepreneurs who would be able to take risks and create business empires.

We package our family by seeking comforts not legacies; we package our roads with gravel to cover pot-holes; we package our elections by focusing on persons, not personalities or issues. We package our businesses by offering poor value or customer service for money. Fly locally or internationally with some of our local airline carriers, and you will be well packaged like a parcel for delivery. As soon as you collect your boarding pass, it seems an invisible “by air mail’ sticker is stamped on your fore-head. I once travelled with a Naija airline where the plane did some F-16 stunts when attempting to land. Many of the passengers were scared stiff – never mind, the airline had served us chin-chin and hot Caprisonne. Talk about V.I.P treatment.

And the air conditioning was not working either. One old mama attempted to wind down to let air in.

But guess what, that airline has a user-friendly website which processes payment in the most efficient manner. The airline’s logos and tickets look world-class too. The airline company also employs yellow pretty looking air hostesses who wear the shortest skirts. But that is where it ends – as soon as you are aboard, the air hostesses stop smiling. Do you want to fasten your seat belts or do I have to bind you with a rope. Yeye Economy passenger.

Ok o, but the AC doesn’t also work in the First Class Cabin either. What did they pay for then? First class passengers get to board and disembark first. O—kay….

Even moi moi gets packaged now to make it what it isn’t – in foil paper, nylon or tins. What happened to our dear old moi-moi leaf?

Beans casserole aka Bean Loaf aka Cowpea Muffin (but never Moi Moi)

 

And our ladies package too. They package their looks – fair enough. But do you also have to package your interests and accents too? Especially to steal a march on others girls? Come on, princess.

A Lagos urban legend has it that a girl so “over packaged” herself that she deceived a world naive ajebo chap into proposing to her. She switched up her accent, made up a false history and padded aspects about her childhood. She claimed for example that she had attended Queens College Yaba, when in fact she had attended Queens School, Ugbaja. She ordered take-aways from Ghana High and the other eateries and “repackaged” them as home cooked treats in Thermos flasks and visited the guy everyday at his office during lunch. This girl couldn’t even boil water without burning it.

Off course she “packaged” her appearance as well employing Mac, L’Oreal, Bobbi Brown, Almay as well as fake eye lashes, acrylic nails, dental fronts and lace front wigs. She even employed a padded bra and a healthy slice of Mouka foam to upgrade her front features from a 32A to a 34DD.

When the overwhelmed guy was confronted with such beauty and grace, he liked it and decided to “put a ring on it”.

The wedding reception was held at the National Theatre.

In the morning after the wedding, the guy turned over and wondered who the stranger lying next to him was. It was the girl of course, now very plain-looking and unpackaged.

As Zebrudaya would say, “she are  now walk in the nakedness of nude.”

She greeted “Good morning, ‘oney” in a thick accent.

The guy was stunned, as he quizzed “Who the heck are you; where is my wife?”

The girl answered “I am your wife. Remember, we got married yesterday. They served chicken at the wedding”

The guy fainted. He must have suddenly gone cold turkey.

  

  

You’re an actor, you’re not who you’re depicted to be

Jay Z (Blueprint II, 2002)

 

The Snake, The Rat, The Cat, The Dog

Scrappy doo - but scraps won't do

Our dear country Nigeria is a cauldron of extreme loves, habits, cultures and sensibilities.

Nigerian cuisine is no different. Many types of meats and plants are consumed here – roasted on a spit, fried with different kinds of fats and oils ranging from mmanu groundnut-nut to ororo and epo, or are ground into powdery forms and are used as stock to garnish dishes.

Nigerians would consume most forms of meat, or fish, or snail – mammals, reptiles, amphibians and crustaceans (crabs and lobsters) are fair game. I have even seen someone wait on the rain, not for water or irrigation, but so that he could get his hands on a kind of edible termite which loses its wings after a heavy storm. People gather the termites, roast their abdomens and stuff their faces with them. Yes, even Atom Ant wouldn’t be safe in some parts of Nigeria; neither would any of the characters from the movie “A Bug’s Life.”

So we like animals as a source of food. What I am now interested in asking is: Is Nigeria a nation of pet-lovers?

In Western countries, people keep pets for companionship, even housing and feeding them like they would do their own kids and in some extreme cases bequeathing an inheritance to them worth millions of dollars. Dol wetin?

This is definitely alien to the traditional Nigerian man.

Oyibo people love their pets so such that many prefer them to humans. I was at work somewhere in London some years back, when our manager asked someone why she hadn’t shown up to work for 4 whole days. The person who missed work said that her cat died a week ago and so she had been depressed and couldn’t work. The management empathized with her, and offered to refer her to Human Resources for counseling of bereaved employers. I was like what the…I mean, my catfish once died but I still had to turn up at NYSC Orientation Camp.

Oyibo people even have their pet dogs or cats sleep on their beds. Some rich people even build a large dog-house as huge as a BQ in Lekki Phase One for their pets.   

In this country, Bingo the dog belongs outside. If it is lucky or if its owners are minted, it would have a rudimentary shed built for it that would offer scant shelter from Nigeria’s extreme sunshine or monsoon rains. Bingo can expect a staple diet of remnants from the kitchen, including chicken and fish bones which have been stripped of all calcium and flesh by the house owners, eba, amala, fufu and even agonyi beans. Most Nigerian families would not care to buy Pedigree Chum or our local Jojo Dog Food for their dogs.

In Naija, if Bingo wants a dog-house as big as a BQ, it better know how to fetch lucrative multi-million naira contracts, not just sticks or Frisbees, and it should be able to catch and apprehend AK-47 wielding armed-robbers and thieves in the dead of the night. Or it would have to be able to make its owners a fortune by entertaining crowds like the Chuckle Hounds.

This is a far cry from my days on the Lion King

No doubt, the inflation and the cost of living severely prevent most pet-owners from taking already hard enough having to cater for the needs and health of yourself and your family without having to buy canned pet food or take your K-9 to the veterinary’s for his anti-rabies injections.

Apart from that,  pets may poo all over the place until they are trained, they climb the furniture and slither about.

In the olden days, dogs were bought to consume human excrement. Wait until the United Kingdom’s RSPCA catches them! Sad but true.

We may love pets but feeding them is no joke. Even trying to secure scraps off bones and flesh from your local ele eran for your dog is costly business. Unfortunately, we Nigerians eat almost all the parts of a cow or goat, so unless your dog likes cow or goat horn or hair, there is no free animal part to get off a butcher.

And buying the pet cans of Pedigree Chum, Whiskas, carrots or sesame bird seed requires deep pockets, the type only people who steal government money may usually have. How many pet-owners, faced with the option of buying Jojo Dog Food for Lassie their dog, or purchasing a carton of Indomie Noodles for the child’s dinner would buy the former? Is a dog man’s best friend? Well I don’t think so, unless your name is Tarzan and you live in the Jungle. Or unless you are making a fortune exporting 404 meat to Europe and North America from your base in Calabar.

I have seen people feed their pets substances that the pets themselves never knew they could consume. In Naija, I have seen pets eat foods that will confuse the biologists on the National Geographic and Animal Planet channels. Canivores have been transformed into herbivores due to Naija’s harsh economic climate.

Oh so you think that a cat can never be convinced to eat roasted agbado (maize)? Think again.

Some years back, I was working at an office somewhere in VI. Sometimes, I would get to work quite early to beat the morning traffic, so I would go to this small provisions shop right next to the office to get a Coke and some biscuits. The shed was owned by this huge black Yoruba woman who had a huge gob on her and was always mouthing off to customers about her business.

One particular day, I noticed a cage at a corner of the small shop, with a large white rabbit in it. I asked her about it and she said, it belonged to some expatriate who normally stopped by her shed for a quick cigarette. Apparently the expat had to go on a business trip to Holland, and had begged the lady to help him keep and look after the pet rabbit for 3 days.

Three days had turned into three weeks, and the expat had not shown up or returned to collect his damn bunny. The shop woman said that anytime she tried the number, it was switched off so the man wasn’t still back from the Netherlands.

While the woman cursed and cursed the expat in her local dialect, I looked at the rabbit and gasped as I saw a quarter loaf of Agege bread in its cage!

I was like wow! I turned to the woman and told her that she really shouldn’t be giving the rabbit white bread, as it was processed food and could kill it.

The woman sighed and shrugged her shoulders. She retorted that the man only dropped money enough for three days, and she had had to feed the rabbit from her own pocket. Fair point.

She then asked me what type of foods rabbits ate. As soon as I opened my mouth to answer, I realized how unrealistic I sounded: “Lettuce, carrots, cabbages…”

 The woman looked at me with an irritated expression on her face as if to say “Fuji cabbage…”

Taking a blunt stick, and poking the distressed rabbit through the cage hole, the woman proudly told me that she had been feeding the rabbit agonyi beans, a delicacy which she claimed the rabbit now loved and looked forward to. I then noticed the red palm-oil stains on the bunny’s otherwise snow white fur. At that point, how I wished I had the services of Dr. Doolittle so I could know what this rabbit was thinking.

I have seen someone feed their pet parrots – Harry and Harriet, udara (agbalumon) seeds! Talk about bird seed! Harry later died, leaving Harriet a widow.

Imagine giving the stray horses on Lekki road a lump of sugar while stroking their mane. The agitated horse would be sure to kick lumps out of you.

Like everyone, I was amazed when I saw pictures of the stranded whale carcass being carved into chunks on Oniru beach about a fortnight ago. I know about point-and-kill catfish, but this is pointless. Whales are mammals, by the way so the people actually ate whale-meat! Ewww!

 

 

 

Moby Dick don enter naija o

 

Some pets have been known to turn against their owners due to ill treatment. I even know Nigerian pets that “rack” Naija sense. It must be something in the water.

There was a time a friend of mine was travelling out of town for a week, so he left some money for the gateman to feed his 2 dogs – a pair of Alsatian breeds. Soon as he was out of the door, the gateman pocketed the money, and only gave the dogs some remnant chicken bone on the 3rd day. Then the morning of the day, the house-owner was due to come back, the gateman decided to buy some cheap food from a nearby buka  for the dogs to give some semblance that he had been feeding the dogs.

As soon as the gateman stepped into the dog cage to feed the dogs, one of them, a very feeble female called Sheba quickly snuck behind him and bit his bum -without barking or giving inkling as to its intent.

The gateman had to use the remaining money to get a rabies shot at the doctor’s. That is what I call canine justice.

But the weirdest case I ever heard happened somewhere in Lagos. There was this family that had a dog called Diego had started becoming a bit erratic. It barked at visitors, was aggressive if someone was eating a steak at the dinner table and didn’t throw it the bones; it even stationed itself at the gate, putting its snout under the gate to bark at who knows what passing by on the street. It even got irritated by gushes of wind. It even barked at the rain once, and nearly got electrocuted snapping and growling at a NEPA power cable connected to a sparking transformer as it bit at it furiously. Atomic dog.

Then there was a day when a business partner came to the house somewhere in Surulere to see Raymond, the dog’s owner.  At the gate, the visitor asked whether Raymond had a dog. Being the confident owner, Ray replied in the affirmative, but proudly assured the now shaken visitor that the dog will not bite him because they were together. He told the visitor to walk behind until they were both in the house.

Diego who had been watching the proceedings, from his spot under a car in the garage was already growling. He then bolted from under the car, and bit, wait for this, Raymond! The dog was now officially uncontrollable!

The visitor dashed into the house when he saw Diego biting Raymond, and shut the door. Ray was trapped outside with the errant dog; Ray was mighty embarrassed.

Ray had had enough and the next morning, he called his driver and instructed him to take the dog to Kuramo Beach in VI, where some people were in the business of putting down dogs and making them into pepper-soup. He also handed the driver some cash to pay the dog-bashers.

The driver drove down to VI with the dog in the back-seat. However, when he got to the beach, he decided he could make a quick buck by releasing Diego, driving away and keeping the money for himself.

He did that, and drove off. He had a couple of errands to run in Lagos Island and Ikoyi. He then went to pick up the children at school around 2pm

When he got back to the house, Ray was on the dining table eating rice and chicken.

He looked up from his meal, and stared directly at the driver, as he asked him“Oh you are just coming back now. Did you give the dog to the dog-killers to kill? And did you pay them the money? I hope the money was enough?”

The driver lied “Yes sir. Dem kill the dog for my front, and I carry three thousand give them.”

At that point, Ray visibly frustrated, sighed and looked at the driver again, as he pointed “If dem kill am for your front, then what the hell is the dog doing here!”

Diego was lying under the dining table, with a half eaten bone next to it. Please refer to the lyrics section at the end of this article.

 

 

  

Get at me dog

 

 I hear that Diego inspired the storyline for the horror dog movie “Cujo”.

The economic hardship in Nigeria has made families look for different ways to survive. The middle class is being eroded, and the worldwide-recession, bank crisis and crash of the stock market have not helped matters. If people cannot feed themselves, how can they have any regards for pets or animals? Economic hardship can turn your bosom friend into your enemy. The crab in the bucket theory? Some Naija people may take this too far.

I mean, when does your pet hamster begin to look more and more like bush meat (ara oke) to you?

 It is not an excuse though.

A cleaner that used to work for my uncle once told me that he used to catch pigeons, kill them, fry and eat. I was shocked, and wondered how he managed to trap them. He said he would mix granulated sugar in a bowl of water and place it on a verandah.

According to him, and I stress that, the pigeons would fly in and take sips of the water. Later on, when they flew elsewhere and drank water, it would taste bitter because they were used to the sugary water. So they would fly back to his verandah, gathering in flocks as they tried to sip out of the sugary water. He claimed that at this point, he would pick them easily as they would offer little resistance! Keep this dude away from Trafalgar Square, I say!

Of course, there are Nigerians that love their pets.

I know a landlord that never charged rent for the use of his Boy Quarters. All he asked was that Major, his dog was fed and groomed daily by the tenant. The only thing was the Major was thick set, heavy Rottweiler with a bad temper, big sharp teeth and a long leash. Well the BQ was in Abacha Estate, Ikoyi.

And of course to some Nigerian people, a pet is a status symbol. If you owned an ekruke (local dog), you would not want to take it for a walk. But watch some people walking their Spaniels or Bulldogs!

I remember back in the days, when some people would lie that their mongrel dog was half or quarter Alsatian. Some people used to lie that they had “police dogs” or “German Shepherds” which you would never get to see when you stopped by their house. I remember someone claiming his dog was half Alsatian, quarter Doberman with a little bit of local dog (one-eighth according to him).

I highly doubted that when I saw the way the dog demolished left-over fufu on the kitchen floor.

Give a dog a bone/

leave a dog alone/

let a dog roam and he’ll find his way home/

 DMX (Ruff Ryders Anthem, 1998)