The Soundtrack To My Life Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ooh Child, Your Friend Has Got To Go

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

Make yourself at home…. in your own home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teacher No Teach Me Nonsense



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were empires in Africa called Kush/

Timbuktu, where every race came to get books/

to learn from black teachers who taught Greeks and Romans/

Nas (I Can, 2002)

Is Growing Up A Trap?



When I was in my early teens, I could not wait to grow and discover if pots of gold were at the bottom of every rainbow. I felt trapped by the flower of youth, restricted by the thorns of adolescence. I rubbed all kinds of methylated spirits on my face as I willed my chin and cheeks to sprout side burns and beards till I looked like Oliver De Coque. I crashed my dad’s Datsun into a gutter trying to drive it before my feet could properly reach the clutch. For that, I received the beating of life; the beating of my life.

At age 15, I fretted because my voice did not break on time, and I sounded like Helen Paul when trying to chat up girls. Excuse me, can I get to know you…

I longed to be able to earn my own Naira so I could blow it on Playstation video games, sharwarma from Terri’s, rap music CDs and Timberland boots. I also wanted the independence of never answering to anyone. Or anything.

Now that I am older, sometimes I wish I could back-track like a PDP to APC defector.

You see adult life is not what it is all depicted to be. Apart from being caught in the cycles of bills, work and responsibilities, as well as the scary thought that I am eligible for jail time I commit a crime, rather than a juvenile warning, some other realities have hit me like a Prince 2000 chant.  I have discovered that the earth is round, but that the world is flat, so that what goes around, comes around, like an infectious strain of apollo. That all the power and wealth in the world is concentrated in the hands of a very privileged few, and that greed and lust for control of the world’s resources is the bane of human life. I have discovered that Nigeria cheated me off a bountiful childhood, and may also rob my grandparents off the peace of a pensioned old age.

I grew up when I turned 30 faster than at any stage during my life. My father got sick and passed within a space of 6 months, just after I had hit the big three-oh, putting me in a situation forcing me to be a man, just when I was learning to stand without a helping hand. I needed to mature fast enough to husband my mother and father my siblings. And be a twin to my own self.

And there are physical and emotional changes from age.

Now when I climb a flight of stairs, I feel the creak in my bones like a 3-wheeled Keke Napep negotiating a pot-hole filled with potopoto. I can no longer get away with an unhealthy lifestyle as it shows in my torso, so that is goodbye to eating suya burger or Indomie featuring fried plantain late at night. I am more at peace with myself these days– less keen to impress people I do not care for. Keener to caress those that I care for. I no longer shed  tears every birthday like I used to, as I see my life anniversaries as milestones on the journey to middle life.

My fashion choices are slightly more conservative these days – more age appropriate. I see garments as more of a shield to protect me from the elements and save strangers the humiliation of looking at my shriveled cock, than as accessories to show my affluence or comeuppance in the world. I realize that I look ridiculous in vest tops or basketball shirts, and am less likely to buy them, as I say no to looking like a market butcher. Heck I am less likely to buy or rock a football jersey. Nylon and polyester are the most unflattering fabrics ever especially those made by Puma. I also go past the torn or ripped jeans aisle these days, as I would rather not look like Milli Vanilli. I look more to quality classics rather than the quantity of fads clothing.  Corduroy pants do not look so bad now, and sandals were not the fashion suicide I thought they once were, once paired with good traditional brocades. I probably won’t wear a camouflage shirt, or overalls or an NY fitted face cap to cover my ogo. And I rock my Talab Abass gorimakpa with pride.

I am less critical of my parents and their generation – they had to revamp their lives several times – first, after British colonialism gave way to Pan-Igboism in the early 60s, then live through a civil war, then restart with 20 pounds in their pockets (no mule and no 40 acres). Heck my mum got married with a mango leaf branch for a bouquet, but she is the rose that grew from concrete, in my eyes.

Now that I am older, I admire my late father’s achievements, putting all his kids through school. No, we did not attend Eton or Harvard or Atlantic Hall or American International School, but nobody ever carried a desk on their heads to school. Fees were paid as and when due, and I was never called to the assembly ground for not wearing a clean pair of white socks. How the hell did he do that – manage all his responsibilities so remarkably well. Daddy, teacher, disciplinarian, financier, protector, parental advisory mechanism for inappropriate media content, provider, koboko dispenser, default setter etc. Judge, jury and executioner, if you flouted his house rules.

These days, I do not care to be right all time. Or beef and feud all the time. These days, I am more about peace, than winning arguments. Or building and maintaining friendships and relationships. Forgive me for my sins; forgive me for my lies.

I am more aware of my place in the world, and of the roles I am designed to play in the food chain of life. I have “opened eye”, and I saw one of the best philosophies etched on the back of an Ekenedilichukwu luxury bus: The downfall of a man is not the end of his life.

Was it all simpler when I was a young and wild and free? Maybe, and sometimes I do feel that my glory days were back in my youth – when I was 21 and all was well in the world, as I had that patriarchal umbrella and the mischievous swagger of a miscreant with a catapult and a pocket full of stones.

Yes, sometimes I do wish I could grow down. Not to reverse physical aging, as it is not vanity or insanity that drives me. Oh to see the world through the again through the innocence of a child’s eyes. Through my daughter’s eyes.

I drop my daughter at daycare on weekday mornings. What amazes me, is that she always says hi to the lady at the helpdesk, who I must admit usually wears a frown harder than an Argungu mask. But my daughter no send o. In her friendly and outgoing nature, she would walk up to the desk, and greet “Hi! How are you doing?” while beaming her dimpled smile at the grumpy woman. A typical adult would not bother with greetings after a while, if they noticed the receptionist liked to “carry face”. But not my daughter. She once offered the lady her sandwich. I later give my daughter a warning about giving food to strangers. Some people deserve a sand-winch instead. Haha

If you are also going through these motions, I recommend one of my favorite tunes “Not Nineteen Forever” by a band I like called The Courteeners. Check out some lyrics from that song:

You’re not nineteen forever, pull yourselves together
I know it seems strange but things they change
Older woman and a younger man
Both of them doing all they can


Suffering and Smiling – Everything Is Going To Be Alright

lion king

I was 13 when my family fell upon hard times. My old man had invested his fortunes in a string of ventures which ending up hemorrhaging funds, akin to fetching water with a raffia basket.

The change in our family lifestyle started with the disappearance of certain perks we used to take for granted.

Holidays disappeared from our calendar. Christmas visits to the village stopped too. We had watery beans on Christmas day one year.  My father was a nervous wreck, and had an irritable temper whenever it was time to pay school fees.

My baby sister Kpomkwem, oblivious to our predicament, asked my pops as he sat on the bedroom floor sorting through piles of bills and financial statements in the red “Papa, when are we travelling for vacation. I want to go to see London Bridge”

Papa should have replied “The year 2000-and-never; besides have you finished helping to pick the beans in the kictchen?” but being the wonderful father that he was, he reassured her saying “Very soon, Kpom-Kpom, very soon…”

Very soon never came.

Now that I am older, I realize that what people classify as hardship is all relative. Your present lucrative lifestyle of champagne, luxury whips and a mega crib in Lekki Phase One, which you celebrate as having arrived, might be the worst nightmare of an Adenuga, Dangote or Warren Buffet. At that point in time, compared to the way of life I had been used to, the changes forced upon my family at 12 constituted economic sabotage.

You know how many people have a minted Uncle, who helps, pays school fees and gives them pocket money if their own folks cannot afford to? I never had one of those Uncles. My father was that Uncle, as he was the first and only one to escape the cycle of poverty my extended family had labored under for generations. I had palm-wine tappers and rural farmers for uncles/aunts, and the only freebie I ever enjoyed from them was a sack of boiled groundnuts, during their frequent visits to harangue my pops for money. My father was the support system for not only me, my mum, my siblings but also a whole multitude of relatives, hangers-on, in-laws, leeches. So when he crashed, the food chain burned. Until they found a new mugu.  Adebayor, I feel your pain bro.

Then one year there was a majestic drop in the family fortunes as steep as the sides of Olumo Rock. My father called a family meeting in his room, during which he read the riot act. Mum stood in the corner of the room sobbing, while my eldest sister took notes as the designated family secretary. Kpomkwem stood there, chewing the comb off a chicken head, with snot running down her nose.

“Going forward, there are going to be major changes to how we use resources in this house. Nobody should cook more than two cups of rice per mealtime. Mama Esco will monitor the quantity with a measuring cup. Do not use sugar for anything other than akamu. Do not use sugar to drink garri. In fact, no-one should drink garri at all, as it should only be utilized for eba. In fact, we are no longer buying sugar in this house – the Federal Ministry of Health warns that sugar causes diabetes and other health problems.” What about honey?

My old man was not finished: “No more big name brands for groceries. Dano, Nido, Pronto, Ovaltine are now non-grata in this family. All allowances have been discontinued. Elder siblings hand the younger ones your old clothes. Youngsters, if you outgrow your trousers, cut them into shorts.”

Esco was a younger one. Sigh. I need new baffs na.

We kids, looked fearfully at each other, as we pondered about this new economic order, just like some politicians are dreading Buhari’s reign. My mum was still sobbing into her handkerchief, like Mama Peace.

My dad adjusted his wrapper knot, and twisted his chewing stick, as he changed gear to a higher speed.

“Two slices of bread per person only. No more margarine, except Sunday morning breakfast before church. Moi moi is now a vanity project as it wastes beans. Try not to invite your friends over if you know they have longer throat…”

Things really got worse. We had sustained periods where NEPA disconnected us for owing. I frequently had to do the 0-1-0 involuntary diet plan because there was just enough money for one meal. Our home fell into a state of disrepair, with ceilings leaking water when someone had a bath. I became a video technician because I couldn’t let my VCR die on me. I and siblings became like crabs in the bucket, competing for food, benefits and comfort.

Pressure builds character. Hardship is life’s greatest onye-nkuzi. People handle strife in different ways. Some of my siblings struggled to adjust, while a few took to the change like a cattle egret to rubbish dumps.

My first sister, who used to be a fashionista discovered how to get bargains from bend-down clothing at Yaba Market and still look sharp. I learnt how to eat, be dissatisfied, but resist an Oliver Twist bang on the head from asking for seconds. I found ways to make the darkness from a NEPA outage my friend, by reaching deep into my thoughts to cool and entertain myself as I lay there in the blackness of still night with the intense heat. I learnt how to jump Danfos/Molues from one end of Lagos to another, with the dexterity of a California surfer. I rode the iron horse (okada) like the Biker Mice from Mars and became a connoisseur of street food. I nearly learnt the art of not paying the bus conductor, but the fear of lynching overcame me. Learnt how to be a have-not, and not be envious of those who had bastard money. How to feel dignified in lack, and not to cower in insecurity. Suffering and smiling is a delicate art.

I also became a mathematician, as I learnt to subtract fake fair weather friends (air-conditioned love) from those with unconditional love. And divide my resources so that it stretched like a catapult.

An ex-schoolmate’s pops went bankrupt in the mid-90s, when N55m deposit got swallowed up in a failed bank. They moved from their house in VI Extension to a 2 bedroom flat in Aguda. His children changed schools from St Saviors Ikoyi to a jakande school somewhere around there. I visited my friend once after his brother had survived a mishap, almost falling into the neighbourhood well, when trying to retrieve a fami. They were feeling sorry for themselves because they went from oil wells to water wells. Their dad used to fly first class, now he was flying Chisco night bus on the weekly. He never recovered his fortune, suffering a massive stroke from worry a few years later. Very few of their old friends from VI came to see him.

In Nigeria, success has many friends, but poverty and struggle are orphans and outcasts. Our country does not operate a safety-net system or a welfare initiative like certain western nations. So everyone, no matter how well-off presently, is just one miscalculation away from poverty. There’s no middle ground, a shrinking middle class, and no parachute support from government to save one from middling penury in your time of need.

The first pain of a child is seeing struggle etched on the face of its father. However everything I went through back then made me resilient, defiant and humble. I have endured two major tough periods in my short life. The first prepared me for the second. The first was as described above, and then the other was in my adult years – a 3 year funk, during which nothing seemed to work for me professionally or personally. I appeared to have a huge monkey on my back, the size of a Bagco Supersack. My blog was born in that period of difficulty.

If you are going through a tough time right now, believe that it is only for a moment. I hope I can encourage you somehow:

  • Keep on keeping on. When you are struggling, it seems easier to go into hiding. Nah, put yourself out there; stay striving and keep networking. Keep your head up, like a plantain seller balancing a tray. Distribute your resume, share your business proposal and continue shoving your business cards into people’s hands. It will bear fruit, as all seeds do. Except for an agbalumon seed ravaged by a local champion.
  • Resist acts of desperation. It is imperative that you get your mentality right, because there is no force more unclean than an act done in desperation. Life owes you nothing; you have to work hard for your success. Shun bad influences like an ill wind that blows 2nd hand smoke. I remember a philosophical gem scribbled on a bus: The downfall of a man is not the end of his life. You will soon rise again, like the rate of the dollar against the naira

Lord willing, you will be up and running in no time. One Love.


Some get a little and some get none/

Some catch a bad one, and some leave the job half done/

I was one who never had and always mad

Naughty By Nature “Everything’s gonna be alright” (1991


My time is prime like Keke / stay jeje making my pepper...

My time is prime like Keke / just jeje making my pepper…


A few good years ago in Jand, I and a couple of workmates decided to form a temporary lottery syndicate, pool resources and buy lottery tickets each, to increase our odds of winning a 30million pounds lottery jackpot.

Normally, I do not send the lottery, as I have always felt that I would have better odds fetching water with a basket, or purchasing an electric cooker because I had belief that NEPA would come good rather than let me starve, or buying a Terry G single for the lyrics. Heck, there are better odds misappropriating Nigerian Pension Funds than winning the lottery at 40 billion to one than winning the lottery. Least I could enrich myself at the public’s expense; worst case scenario, even if I got caught by EFCC or an anti corruption body, I could use connections to get off with a 750000 naira slap on the wrist.

However, this case was different, and I had a reason for playing the lottery .  Some months back, a couple in their 50s had won a record 161 million pounds, which was the highest payout in Britain at the time. The newspapers went crazy when the husband, 65, proclaimed that “they were now as rich as the Beckhams.” True, the Beckhams were worth  about 165 million pounds then.

Wow! I remembered, switching off the TV after I heard that boast, and thinking to myself –  well fuck me, if I won 161 million pounds, I would  scream out from 3rd Mainland Bridge “I am richer than my ex-state governor! I can now afford to hire graduate drivers and pay then 500,000 naira per year to move my trucks on Naija death roads; I can have my convoy of German luxury cars pick me from the tarmac of Murtala Mohammed International whenever I arrive, even though it endangers other commercial flights. Chei, I can have noisy owambe parties and block off major roads and bridges, and inconvenience other road users. While I am at it, I can import runs girls from the top private universities for threesome orgies in my VGC villa. Choi! I could even contest for Senate and win the election without stepping a foot into my constituency….”

In the UK or Yankee, lottery winners are usually inundated with attractive offers from credit card companies and financial investors who offer them all manners of services and incentives. In Nigeria, once you hit any form of millions, it is hangers-on, ‘distant’ relatives, and traditional rulers who chase you  for financial favors or to bestow chieftaincy titles on you.

I had other reasons to play the lottery too. Imagine if because of the mere 1 pound fee it takes to play the lotto, I neglected to try my luck, and then my co-workers scooped the top prize in my absence. Fear caught me o. Britico people no sabi share at all.

So we bought the tickets, pledging that if any of us pulled the winning number, we would all share the jackpot equally.  Imagine 30 million splitting 8 ways – that’s some decent mula.

The next 24 hours were a pain, as I had to play the waiting game. You know that feeling of hopeless anticipation, like when you are sweating in the heat, begging NEPA to bring back the power, but you know remember your neighborhood transformer had blown.  It didn’t stop me keeping my phone close to me, hoping one of the lads would call me to announce that we had won big. I don hammer o!

As I sat there, many thoughts passed through my head. I envisaged picking up my winnings, and hitting the next thing smoking to Lagos. I would rather be a millionaire in the Zanga, than a Big Time Charlie in the land of Mama Charlie. As I sat there, I recalled an instance where a Nigerian friend of mine, from back in Scotland looked up at the sky, smiling as he explained what he would do if he ever won lottery millions.

He shook his head as he said “Esco, all I need is just 500,000 pounds; one million or ten million is even too much. I would first of all call and inform my mother in Nigeria; and  then warn her to quit from that her junk civil service job. I would then go shopping in Harrods, and then return to Nigeria like a prodigal son. I would tell my mum like this – mummy I am buying a shop for you in Victoria Island, so get ready to fly to Dubai to go shopping for stock. Then I would relocate my entire family from FESTAC to Banana Island in Ikoyi sharp sharp.

All for 500k pounds? Ok o. Besides why is that most Nigerians in the Diaspora say they would return to Nigeria immediately if they  ever stumbled upon great wealth. Being rich in Nigeria must be the lick.The Hamptons or Old Ikoyi? Hmmm…

I wanted to snap him out of his daydream, but he preferred to stay in Total Recall mode:”I would then travel to Germany to ship down 3 tear-rubber models of Mercedes – a G Wagon, an ML 500 and a small C-Class for my mum. All my rides would be German, no time for Korean brands.” What about Volkswagen?

I reminded him that he had not said anything about cars for his siblings. His answer was followed by an evil sigh “Mcheew…Na them win lottery? Berger for Apapa never close na. I would buy them first class tokunboh in Nigeria. Abi make I carry all my money give them, make them rest? I would then hire 5 domestic servants in French maid outfits to work in my mansion and serve me hand and foot.  I would contest the House of Rep election for my state, and then float a company for winning government contracts.”

I can see it now Lotto Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited. Ok o.

He was clearly enjoying himself too much, and his eyes lit up as he continued to fool himself “All my furniture for my house in Banana Island would be imported straight from England. Every room including the toilets would have an LCD TV. But I would also invest some of the money as well in ventures.”

I looked at him with my eyes open in mock surprise as I quipped sarcastically, you don’t mean it. So now you remember to invest money, 499999 pounds later. What kind of venture would this be, pray tell, O wise one?

He smiled proudly like he had just done something epic like postulating a theory in quantum physics, or deciphering the inner workings of Tonto Dike’s thought process, as he concluded: “I have always really liked alcohol and spirits. So I would open up a distillery in Ughelli, where we would bottle and export local alcohol. Forget Ciroc Vodka or even Vitamin Water, I would export Sapele Water as a premium spirit.” It is a ‘spirit’ alright.

One of my theories about human nature is thus – you can tell the character of a person by the manner and articles they spend money on when they get it. It is easier to take up a goody two-shoes, moralistic posture as a saint with a halo, when you are skint. It is the things you do, the excesses you opt for, or the discipline you show when ‘pepper rests’ that paints your true picture of your persona.

That’s why crooked politicians’ favor objects of expenditure like fast cars, faster women like runs girls or prostitutes,  insane amounts of real estate in high-brow areas and a quest to retain their mandate through selection rather than election. Wealth to them is all about enjoyment, and never about employment.  If corrupt government officials spend their illicit wealth on opening factories which employ graduates, or setting up initiatives to better the lot of the masses, they would make small sense.  But the trend is to purchase unrealistic units of real estate, which lie derelict and unoccupied because they would rather charge ridiculous sums for rent, than accept an affordable fee from tenants. There are thousands of high-end real estate lying fallow, and rooming Agama lizards and weeds in Oniru, Lekki, Maitama and Wuse. These properties are as empty as the owners.

As I sat in my flat, watching old tapes of “A Night of a 1000 Laughs”, I chuckled as I recalled  what my Britico co-workers said they would do with their winnings. Let me just say that their plans were a bit different from my Naija friend:

–          I would move from my tiny council flat in Leyton to a terrace house with a garden in Maida Vale

–          My dream is to open a center for disadvantaged and autistic kids in Brixton.

–          Esco, are you kidding me? I would call in on Monday and tell the boss to stick his job where the sun don’t shine. I would then go on a cruise with a luxury liner around Europe.

–          Men, the first thing I would do is fly out and get smashed on a lad’s holiday with all of you to Aiya Napa. Eh, Aiye wetin?

–          Oh my days! I would use of my winnings to purchase a cottage for my and my partner in Norfolk or Yorkshire

–          Norfolk or Yorkshire? Who wants to live in wet and cold Blighty? I am off to Australia or Marbella in Spain.

–          I have always wanted to do voluntary work in India and Peru, then go hiking and bungie jumping in Brazil.

–          I am happy as I am. I would keep working, and give most of my winnings to charity. I would keep just enough to pay for my funeral when I am gone.

It was a middle-aged unmarried oyibo man who made the last statement.  Everybody else thought it unusual but shrugged their shoulders, as they thought: na your ishoro be that.

In Nigeria, he would have been sent to a church for deliverance from the spirit of poverty.

And I thought to myself, maybe its best I just forget it. The lottery in life is hard work or laziness. You better your odds for success considerably by working hard at something you are passionate about, and never giving up. If I did win the lottery, there are many doors it could open for me. I could set up a foundation to fight against the work of runs girls. I could build WoahNigeria into a Disney-like conglomerate. Yes I do like cars and luxury goods, but I want something I could take with me to the grave. Not to bequeath a legacy that would make my descendants spend more time fighting in the courts for inheritance than co-existing to build something epic for Nigeria.

However I, like all Nigerians, could handle the disappointment of not winning, and still kick on regardless. In a way, we Nigerians play the lottery everyday when we vote in questionable leaders on ethnic or personal grounds; we keep gambling with our future and those of our kids by celebrating mediocrity, corruption and the illicit stockpiling of wealth. We play the most unfair and unwinnable lottery when we expect a different outcome by repeating the same mistakes that got us here in the first place. What we win is not a million pieces of silver or units of legal tender; our takings are a million steps backwards into stagnant under-development or one billion decibels of pain and frustration with our national experiment.

Needless to say, the call that I had won the lottery never did come. I reported for work on the cold, misty Monday morning, and had to contend with a few of the sad and crestfallen faces of my co-workers, especially the one who was really looking for the bachelor retreat in Aiya Napa, Cyprus. I laughed inside like, una never jam.


What would you do if you won or came up 1 million dollars right now.  Please be truthful and don’t try to sell a pipe dream. If you already have a million dollars, what would you do with 1 billion dollars? And if Dangote is one of my readers, good afternoon sir!


I would be lying if I said I didn’t want millions/

More than money saved, I wanna save children/

Common (The 6th Sense, 2000)



Aja in the okuko's shadow...

Aja in the okuko’s shadow…

Some years ago, on a hot summer day in the fourth year of Obasanjo’s terrible second reign, when home internet was but the preserve of the Dangotes and Ibrus of this world, Esco decided to arise and take a journey to the neigbourhood cybercafé to do some browsing.

It was a Saturday like any other – NEPA had struck, and generator noises played the soundtrack to the story of Nigeria in the background, male agama lizards and the female ones doing shakara played ‘hide and seek’ in the cracks of the walls of the houses in the street, open gutters festered in the sun with the putrid smell of hot stagnant water and piss, and a bus conductor’s aggressive voice added to the medley as he barked his advertisement “Ojuelegba! Stadium!! No change o, make you hold ya side!!’


I got to the cybercafé, bought a ticket and logged in. The cybercafé was very full. There were all sorts of punters there – some youngsters who came to check JAMB and exam results online; then there were a few pervs who were staring at pictures of scantily clad chicks on dodgy websites; there were the perpetual scroungers who used the web to pester their relatives overseas to send the money, then there were those who typed emails by pressing one key at a time with one finger until they exhausted their credit without finishing the email.

I was a bit crestfallen when I opened my inbox messages and there was not a new message to be had. My spam box however did not disappoint. I had various ones – one for abuna enlargement; another email announced that I had just won a lottery for $5million dollars. Wait, won’t I need to have played it first before I could win?

The last email was from some dude named Anthony Prince asking me to send 5000 dollars so that he could pay the inheritance taxes to enable him withdraw his late ex-minister father’s balance from a Swiss account. He promised to share the largesse with me. As if I would ever trust anyone with a double barreled English name like Anthony Prince. By the way why do 419 and yahoo yahoo swindlers choose ridiculous oyibo names like Prince, Don, Peterpaul, Wilberforce, Vitalis, Felix. The runs men of the 80s were money doublers.

Normally I replied 419 email by reprimanding the sender saying something like “419 is a sin o” but that day I decided to let it slide. Plus key “4” on the keyboard was broken.

I was debating whether to log out, and save the credit on my ticket for another day, when commotion broke out. Alas it was between a dude and a lass just a row across from where I was seated. They were trading insults. Remember that these were the days before YouTube.  I decided to chill and observe. Kai, where is popcorn when you need it?

Apparently the chap has been browsing when his phone rang. He left his folder on the table and stepped outside to take the call. A lady in her late 20s, had just purchased a ticket, and saw the spot empty. She then shoved the chaps folder aside, and restarted the pc, logged in, and starting surfing the web.

When the dude came back, he tapped the lady on the shoulder and tried to explain that he had been there before. The girl would hear none of it, despite the fact that some people seated around there were corroborating his story. The guy explained that he would have forfeited the space for the lady but he had an urgent email he had to send to his brother who was a business partner. He was also irritated that the lady had shoved his personal belongings aside and re-booted the PC.

Before long, a heated exchange ensued between them, and the lady started getting really abusive:

Girl: “The computer is not your personal property so why should I stand up. Abeg abeg..”

Guy: “I never claimed that it was my property. Now please stand up, as I don’t have time for this.”

Girl: “If I refuse to stand up, what will you do? Infact I am not getting up from here. Do your worst!”

Guy: “This can’t be serious.  E be like say you dey find wahala today. If you see am, you go run o”

Girl: “Wetin you fit do? If you have ten heads, touch me and see what would happen.”

This was the era of the hipster  for women. Imagine a really curvy size 16 lady in bright colored hipsters, a belly chain with hips and bakassi  that would make Toolz Oniru look like Fido Dido. She was heavily made up with her nails done like Wolverine.

Every other person in the cybercafé also quit momentarily and started watching. They seemed to be willing the parties to resort to angst-filled violence like Olisa Dibua versus the staff member of that radio station; like Jim Ikye versus the world…What is it with us Nigerians and violence?

As she argued, she stood up to tower over the guy, while showering him with expletives and spittle. From outside, the both of them looked mismatched like Julius Agwu versus Eniola “Gbo Gbo Biz Girls” Badmus. The guy held his ground, and held the arm of the chair, while wedging himself against the table, to prevent the girl from usurping the space.

The girl also held on to the headrest part of the chair, as she continued her verbal tirade: “If you are a man, try me na. I will finish you today. Shebi  na Lagos we dey. Dey here, your mates are erecting mansions in Lekki and Ikoyi, you are here paying 50 naira to browse for 30 minutes and fighting over chair. Idiot!”

The guy wiped his face, as he snapped “You are stupid for that statement. You don’t know how foolish you look wearing this undersized trouser with a tight belly chain. You look like pure water tied with rope.”

With that the girl started free-styling insults. She attacked his manhood, she abused his clothes, she said his shoe was so worn out, that the heels had chopped and had a slant like a Bobby Brown hair-cut from the 80s. She insulted the man’s handset, saying that he just carried a unit without a sim-card in it. All this while waving her hands in his face and standing over him. Her 40DDD boobs were pointing in his face like howitzers.

The man decided he had enough, so he grabbed his folder, and shoved her aside out of his way like Joseph did to Potiphar’s wife. She immediately dove to the ground, like she had been struck by an assassin’s bullet from Colonel Dimka. She started screaming and screwing her face in pain as she writhed about, with her facial expression like Davido when he sings.

“Osanobua! You have killed me o. Ah, see my face. Why did hit me. How dare you put your filthy hands on me? You are finished today. My uncle is a local government chairman. My brother-in-law’s cousin’s husband is related to a police commissioner in Edo state. You will sleep in a cell today. It will never be better for you!!”

The guy started sweating like Charles Okafor in a Nollywood film. He looked both amused and confused at the same time.

Everybody’s eyes shifted from the girl on the floor to the guy like, it is your move now.  Some people were arguing that he should have relinquished the chair to the girl. One woman was visibly pissed and gave the guy a piece of her mind for ‘hitting’ the girl. Public opinion seemed to berate the guy for putting his fingers on the girl. Like short man devil wey only get power when him see woman.

There are 3 instances when a woman can render a man defenseless in the court of public opinion. One is if she accuses you of beating or physically assaulting her (sadly, this rule may not apply in all the states of Nigeria). The second is if she accuses you of rape, whether or not you really had consensual sex. The third is if she abuses you about your lack of sexual prowess or stamina. I mean what come-back is there when an ex calls you “2 minute noodles” or “water pap.”

Silence is the best answer for a fool like you.

There are those who believe that verbal sparring with a woman is allowed as far as you do not put your hands on her in any way (including  a shove). I believe that even if you must have a verbal exchange, one way not to do it, is the way it was done in a scene in “Wild Chicks 2” the Nollywood blockbuster   starring Tuface Idibia’s better half. Check out the action from 16.50 on the time-scale.

Meanwhile, with all the commotion, I decided that it was time for me to beat it, before EFCC would swoop on the café and arrest everybody present, and then announce on NTA’s 9’O clock news that they had busted a yahoo yahoo syndicate. I made slipped away and made a run for it like Alameisegha.

What are your opinions on what happened? Who was wrong between the two parties?

 I met a woman plus a lady that was sweet and unique/
She was no trick or no tramp, she was no freak off the street/
I was amazed, looks and attitude, I spoke of gratitude/
She wasn’t stuck up and rude, and we became cool/
From then on we leaned as friends, then as lovers/
You could be my girl, I’d be your man just forever/

 Daz Dillinger (Only For You, 1998)

These Nigerians In My Office Sef

Who are the kinds of characters that make up a typical Nigerian office? I have drawn up a list, and I must remind you that all the incidents reported below really happened, but the names of the characters have been doctored a bit. I guarantee that everyone who has worked a 9 to 5 would be familiar with at least one of the types of characters below. Enjoy….

  1. THE FORM ACTIVITY CHARACTER: This person loves to act as if he (or she) is carrying all the workload in the office or as if he is always super-busy to have time for his mere mortal co-workers. He normally moves at a 1000 miles per hour, making photocopies, punishing the keyboard by typing very loudly and talking loud on the phone to clients. Even a simple personal task like getting water from the water dispenser is done with much ceremony, like he is Moses about to part the Red Sea.

Yep this character loves to “form activity” but actually lacks any substance or depth to his persona. He usually gets found out at meetings where suggestions or reports are required. This is the type of dude to show up fully suited up with a big yellow tie which stops on his midriff on TGIF Dress-down day. He did get the memo/email to dress down, but his own akproko is too much.

I once worked with a Form Activist for a start-up firm somewhere in Lagos (won’t tell where). One day a higher-up was making his rounds in our department, as he was supervising some people working on a major project for a big Abuja investment firm. Mr. Form Activity was not involved in the project, but he was sitting in the corner typing away on his computer, making loud noises like it was an old Olivetti typewriter from the 80s and not a Dell PC. He was also flipping paper stacks and acting like he was drafting a new constitution for Nigeria or compiling a dictionary for Hon. Obiahiagbon. The co-workers in the office were looking at him like, what the hell is dude up to. Apart from the few guys working on the Abuja project, it was not a particularly busy day. Mr. Form Activity was acting up because the higher-up who was top director was around, and he wanted to look like an effico employee.

The director didn’t even seem to notice the effico guy as he was standing behind two of the guys working on the project, dictating what they should type and edit in the report they were preparing. They then tried to print the 1000 page report but the printer connected to the PC they were working on was jamming.

The director then uploaded the report onto the company database, and then without warning walked over to Form Activist’s desk so he could print from that computer which was connected to another printer.

Form Activist’s PC was switched off.

It could have been worse. He could have been nabbed playing Solitaire.


2.     JEZEBEL FEMALE WORKER: Woe betides you if this brutal female is your boss or supervisor. The female co-worker from hell is a staple of every office environment. If she is a spinster, her work becomes her life and she is impossible to work with. But wait it gets worse: if she is in a relationship, she brings all her marital baggage to the office. On the day her hubby slaps her, she comes into office and slaps every one with impossible tasks.

I once had a female Jezebel boss. All the workers were scared shitless of her. She  addressed a meeting where she announced to 20 anxious male lawyers and 2 cowering female ones: “Some of you are not pulling you weight in this organization. I have initiated Operation Shelltox. I will weed you out like I am pulling jigger (a nasty parasitic insect) from a villager’s foot. Everybody gulped – including the hard-workers. Banks were also laying off, you see.

I later realized that Jezebel boss’s husband was mighty frightened of her. He was a very meek looking geeky dude. The guy looked like he only went near her physically whenever it was time to procreate. He was a software engineer or so. He swung by the office sometimes to bring her things she had requested or to help with minor IT issues with the company servers.

There was a day he had come into the office and was working on a mainframe computer some desks away from me. We were the only ones in that section of the office as most of my co-workers were at clients or in the other section. The Jezebel Boss was in her office which was on the 2nd floor in the other side.

Then the telephone situated near the boss’s hubby started ringing. He refused to answer it. It rang like 7-8 more times, but dude ignored it. Then my own office line rang so I picked the phone up: “It is Esco. Who is this?”

It was Boss Jezebel on the line. She inquired without greeting “Esco is this how you greet clients when you answer the phone. Okay remind me to get at you later for this. Is Mr. Jezebel there?”

I replied in the affirmative. She then barked “Then tell him to pick up the bloody phone!” I placed the handset on the receiver.

Then suddenly the other phone started ringing again.

I looked at the hubby sitting next to it. He glanced at me with beads of perspiration and terror in his eyes. I had to break the bad news to him: “Kind Sir, it is your wife calling. She says you should pick up.”

Dude looked like I had just asked him to swallow a spoon of Worm medicine.

He picked the receiver with his hands jerking like he was about to disarm a Boko Haram bomb. This message will self-distruct….

3.  THE SOCIAL OLOFOFO: In every Naija office is some prick who treats office life as the epicenter of his/her social existence. This olofofo organizes the TGIF small chops and rice, or helps buy and distribute aso ebi material for any co-worker’s weddings or ceremonies. This olofofo even attends every single event from condolence visits to bereaved colleagues to house-warnings and naming ceremonies.

Fair enough, but what used to irk me is that the olofofo feels hurt if anyone was not on the same page with him. I know a dude who used to wait in the office after he had finished his tasks for the day “to soak in the environment and socialize with people from other departments.” Err, sorry that’s why it is called a 9 to 5. Left to me, it should be 7 to 3 because I would rather arrive early and leave early, but it is what it is. By the way GEJ is there any chance that you could sort this out. Maybe I should move to Spain.

My cousin who was a banker nearly got into it with a social olofofo who was always suggesting inconvenient Saturday “team-bonding” events. Seriously, no I am not waking up early again on Saturday morning, driving down Third Mainland to attend some bloody team work retreat about Better Customer Service and Marketing at Badagry Beach of all places. I need my Saturdays to do other things with my life. I don’t want you in my Saturday too.

Social olofofo looked visibly hurt: You have betrayed the circle of trust. And I have already ordered and deposited money for the small chops and paid for the canopies….

 4. THE OFFICE SUCK-UP: This one is always trying to curry favors with management, and will throw anyone under the bus to get a quick rise. They are a bit like the Form Activists except that they are more calculating and dangerous, and have a bit of a method to their madness. And their madness dey plenty.

They may usually snitch on their co-workers to higher-ups. But what gets my goat is that how they “seek perch.”

There was an instance where the Boss had just returned from an official trip to England and brought candy for the ladies and some really smart ties for the chaps. The office suck-up was a girl called Dupe, and she was really on a roll that day. She pranced around looking at everyone’s gifts, and remarking about how the Boss had very good taste, and how he must have spent a fortune. She even said she would not eat her candy as she was touched by the Boss’s kind gesture. Men, if that girl suddenly contracted Lassa Fever that day, she would have tried to touch the Boss’s garment to get healed. Na so her suck-up reach.

The Boss was now joking about his trip, and about the crooked Customs chaps at MMIA asking for egunje and things of that nature. He then said something.

Dupe suddenly burst out laughing loudly, and baring all her gnashers and rubbing her belly. If there was a raffia mat on the ground, she would have even rolled on the floor with laughter sef.

Everyone looked at her like she had kolo-ed or something.  The boss also had a confused look on his face too. Later on, the boss’s secretary came to get him, as he had a meeting.

When the boss was out of earshot, she drew me aside and asked me “What was the last thing he said. I really could not hear the joke.”

I replied “It was no joke at all. He said he lost his wallet with about 700 pounds in it, and he suspects he left it on the aircraft when he disembarked at Murtala Airport.”

Eh? Kilo wi?


You had better be on the IT Maestro’s good side. Depending on where you work (State or Local Governments and “One Man Offices” do not count) the IT Maestro can hook you up with all the new tech stuff like wireless keyboards or a shiny slim PC monitor, or a printer which actually works and does not print smudged ink like Tie and Dye cloth.

If he hates your guts, you may end up with the fat old white computer with the dead pixels. Or a UPS system that works like NEPA. IT Guys have some kind of power in most offices, but they seem more power-drunk in Nigerian offices. Trust us, we like to exert authority whenever we are given lofty positions.

Before Blackberry phones became pure water in Nigeria, I know an IT guy who hooked up a female intern lawyer with access to the office server so that her work emails got pushed to her private phone. This was a privilege only the firm’s Partners enjoyed. I don’t know how she paid back that favor, but she always wore some saucy “push-up” bras to work. I am just saying o. Push me, I push you.

These IT guys always seem to work on a different time-zone from anyone. Late into the office, early out. In some companies, they are allowed to dress down, and their favorite garb are polo shirt, jeans, geeky glasses and a knapsack. They also like oily food.

Don’t let the Steve Urkel get-up fool you. These dudes are more vicious than Bola Koof.

A friend called Remi who was once competing for the affection of a sexy girl named Segi with an IT dude. They took their war to another level, but IT girl went “no-holds barred” when he discovered that Remi had taken Segi for dinner and movies at Silverbird the Saturday before.

The IT guy decided to play his ace-card. Remi was due to give a presentation on Private Equity Law in Nigeria to a bunch of Chinese clients in the office boardroom. Two of the firm partners were also going to be present along with interested workers of the firm, and these clients were a very lucrative account for the firm.

Remi had worked on the PowerPoint presentation for the best of one month, and had finally completed the slides the evening before. He set up the projection apparatus, and then the clients and firm partners came in and took their seats. Okay, educate us…

Err, when Remi tried to locate the files with the slides, they were nowhere to be found. He started to sweat profusely, and the partners looked on embarrassed as he fidgeted with the projector. As Remi struggled in front of everyone, sweating buckets, he looked up and saw IT guy seated at the back. He was not even supposed to be here.

IT guy gave him a knowing wink. Like, I don winch you today.

Remi avoided Segi like Boko Haram States after that.

*Please leave your comments and experiences. What kind of characters have you worked with? I need at least 30 comments o or it will be 30 more months before another article. Haha! You know I love you.


Esco is back after a brief hiatus. Hello everyone! While I was away, tending to the side inconvenience that is my private life, there have been a lot of speculations, accusations, counters and chat on the grapevine.


I have received emails, and tweets , asking about my whereabouts, egging me to write new articles. Stuff like, Esco where are you. Are you still alive? There are reports that someone fitting you description was seeing boarding an aircraft with a one way ticket out of blogsville.


Some of the questions I have been asked are more left-field. Stuff like: Are you stories real or fables plucked from Tales by Moonlight. How do you come up with the material? What are your plans for the future? Is this blog’s relevance tied to the Nigerian nationhood experiment? Why do you put rap lyrics after each post? Why don’t you the lyrics of Nigerian artists like Lord of Ajasa or Eddy Remedy? If this is a Nigerian blog, you should have used an agama lizard on your blog mast instead of an albino lion. Why use black soil for the background instead of Ankara (or Aso-ebi).


Has Esco abandoned this blog because I hear he is now the Personal Advisor/ Assistant on Blog Affairs to a State Governor, and so he is cleaning out. He has even put up a house in Lekki Phase 1 and even twitted the picture, and it trended like pictures of Cossy’s boobs. In fact Esco has reportedly abandoned this blog, in search of Rueben Abati money.


Some many questions. Thank you, thank you. I will give a brief statement:


I had some much going on privately. I had actually typed out drafts for 4 super articles on my phone. However while I was downloading the twit picture of Cossy Ojiakor’s bobby taylors when my phone crashed completely on me. The memory got wiped out along with the articles.


One reader had even abused me for supposedly catching the Nigeria malaise of never keeping up a good thing. True, most Nigerian businesses start misbehaving once they start raking in customers. Customer service falls and the business usually goes south. I remember a mama put place that used to be the bees’ knees. The food was awesome – their stew was a work of art. Bouncy grains of rice, chunks of goat meat in a deep fried tomato broth. The owner of the business personally cooked the dishes and served the punters. She even knew all her customers by name, and even befriended their wives and girlfriends. On some days, a few regular could ask for extra meat on credit, and pay at month end. Then the Lagos massive discovered the place. The woman started raking in serious cash, and then her true colors came out. She became cocky and abrasive. She stopped cooking the food personally and hired cooks instead, as she could not bear palm-oil stain on her lace jacquard. She would seat at a corner of the joint with a tooth-pick in her mouth, counting the takings.


When I now walked in and greeted her “Madam how you dey?”, she barely grunted an answer. I stopped going there, because the last time I was there, customers were fighting to wash their own plates so they could buy food. Na so?


As regard my abandonment of the blog, my answer is “never that.” If I ever became a Big Time Charlie, raking in that kind of dough, I would purchase the technology to make this blog world-class. I would buy cartoon drawing equipment, as I yearn for the days of Papa Ajasco and Benbella type comics. Comic and cartoon strips would better illustrate the story of Nigeria.


Are the stories in this blog real? I refer you to the “Caveat” section of the Blog. Please peruse and revert. I will say this – the stories are based on real life, but the names have been change to protect the innocent, but shame the guilty.


Why the delay between posts? Abeg no vex. As the articles on this blog are original material, my thought processes and private life determines my output. If I have a shit day or writer’s block or if the price of garri and fuel goes up, there goes any postings. Maybe I should start doing fashion, music and entertainment like all others. Ha ha.


Going forward, I require the services of blog consultants as I need advice on how I can turn this blog into a financing business. 419ers and scammers please stay away, or I will wake up at midnight to pray against you. Please any do-gooders or people with knowledge about blog marketing should hit me up via email or twitter. All suggestions are welcome. Yahoo yahoo folks please stay away.


The next questions are the ones I want to ask you, so I can get to know you better. I have a few regular readers/ commenters. Please take a sec to answer a few of the below questions.


  1. How did you find out about this blog? Referral, internet search or just cyber busy-body? Please expatiate.
  2. How often do you check for new material.
  3. What do you like about Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life. What pisses you off about the blog (apart from the apparent laziness of Esco)
  4. Where are you based? Please name country, city, state, hamlet etc. etc. (this is for marketing/ affirmative action purposes. Don’t worry, I wont divulge your location to EFCC or anything)
  5. What is your favourite post/article so far. Why?
  6. If you were president of Nigeria for a day, what would you do?



Go Esco!

Hey everyone, my birthday is in a few days’ time, and here I am up at night thinking about my life story and pondering on my journey so far.

Having a birthday in January as a  kid was always a tough affair; most people are too broke after splurging their life savings on flenjoring during Christmas, and to them, your birthday couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time financially. So there went your hopes for any presents or “raising’.

And when I was old enough to start dating, some girlfriends would be trying to channel the money they had into buying me a Valentine’s Day gift instead as it was just around the corner, being 2 weeks away, and so my birthday was just a stop gap measure. It’s not fair o.

Truth be told, I have said it many times here, that I never really enjoy the concept of birthdays. To me the glass, sorry the hourglass, is always half empty (no pun intended). I tend to self-assess and I am my worst critic. I am not also a huge fan of the whole birthday song singing thing, and having to unwrap my gift in front of the gift-bearer. One reason is that I don’t ever think I show gratitude enough. I get really thankful for receiving a gift, but I am not sure if the way I have shown it conveys the message enough. For some reason, my heart may want to say “Oh, thank you. This is really wonderful” but my stupid mouth may end up saying “You shouldn’t have; you really shouldn’t have. Mscheeww

Anyway here I was, up in the middle of the night like winch, staring at my ceiling and watching the ceiling fan swing slower and slower. Then suddenly I had an epiphany – what would I want for my birthday? What birthday present would give Esco a sick smile?

For one, I want a present and not a gift. Confused? There is a difference between present and gift, however subtle. Just like crocodile and alligator, or toad and frog, or groundnut and gra-nut. A present is something you give somebody gratuitously without any ulterior motives, and is usually given on their life anniversary or a really special occasion, for example birthday present. A gift is something you give because you want something in return, or if there is a catch to lure, bait or winch someone eventually. For example, the Trojan Horse was a Greek gift. You give the bride and groom a wedding gift, because you expect to eat all their jollof rice and drink their Chivita juice at the reception. No Item Number 7, no wedding gift. Esco dey school una sha.

So I want a present. And I will take cash or cheques too. Inbox me a “birthday greeting” at or Twitter (Twirra) @EscoWoah. In reply, I will send you my Zenith and Bank of America accounts. Those living in the UK are not left out either o. I have 2 choices for you – NatWest or Nationwide.

My birthday list (other than naira or pounds or dollar, of course) is:

  • I want out government to be more accountable and more visible to the common man. I want to be able to stroll by Aso Rock, point fingers and take pictures with my camera with flowers and pigeons in the background, like the way tourists and punters do in front of Buckingham Palace and the White House
  • I want to have a legacy. I want something really epic named after me so that my name can live on through the centuries. I wouldn’t also mind something huge or eternal named after my village in Imo State, just like Pontiac the automobile manufacturer is named after the town of Pontiac where the original designer is from. Weatherford the oil and gas corporation is named after Weatherford a place where oil was discovered. Or maybe like okada motorcycle transport and the town of Okada in Edo State.
  •  I want a Sony Vita. It is a handheld gaming device with a touch pad behind, 2 joysticks, an internet browser, WIFI, a back and front facing camera and it is coming out in February. I have always liked Sony products, and almost every electronic device I own in Sony (*hint at Sony for free gifts*). Even when I could not afford Sony back in the day, I would go to Alaba market, and buy Sunny instead.
  • I want shoes by Fratelli Rossetti. There is nothing like premium Italian leather, and not some of this synthetic crap sold as leather nowadays. Fratelli shoes speak class but they cost a pretty penny. There is a saying that you can tell a man’s class by his shoes. And I hear that some girls look at a guy’s shoes, when they first meet him because there is a belief that a guy treats women the way he takes care of his shoes. What if he is wearing sandals?

I also want a Hugo Boss 2 button suit with dark lapels. There is nothing like a good suit with a fine cut to present your features as chiseled.  In Nigeria, girls have Body Magic girdles; boys have to make do with a good suit. Suck belle, make shirt fine.


Add Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses to my Hugo Boss Suit and Fratelli slip ons, and I am “ThisDay Style” ready. Now let me just find my phone, so I can text everyone in Lagos to say that I appeared in ThisDay Style. I have finally arrived as a Lagos Big Boy.


  • I want Nigeria to remain one. With so much going on in the country recently, the signs are not very good. People want Nigeria to split up but we have not really looked at the ramifications of us breaking into smaller entities. We are like Voltron together, but when we split up into 5 lions, we may have bigger robeasts to contend with.

Imagine this scenario- Nigeria breaks up into smaller nations: Oduduwa Republic (Yoruba), the Democratic Republic of Biafra (Igbo), United Arewa Emirates (Hausa Fulani), United Soviet Niger Delta States (Urhobo, Itshekiri, Kalabari etc.) and the Confederate States of the Middle Belt (Tiv, Idoma etc.)

What are the consequences? For one, smaller nations usually have compulsory national military service or conscriptions to be able to defend their territory, or else they may get chanced by bigger countries. Under this national military service, every adult between 16 and 35 may have to serve in the military and undergo military training in boot camps around the country. Yes that includes you BellaNaija browsing, Brazilian hair fixing, Blackberry Bold stroking fashionistas. Even those ones wey dey fear to do ordinary NYSC orientation, and pay bribes to the commandants and NYSC higher-ups to be able to dodge camp. There would be no escape. Scared yet? Ok o.


If we split, what would become of my degree? I schooled all my life in Lagos and Western Nigeria. Would my degree now be foreign and unacceptable for employment in my new country of Biafra? Would career counselors or HR administrators sneer and say “Enyi, so you got your education in Oduduwa Republic. You need to get another degree from University of Biafra, or no one would employ you.”


I was born in Lagos – and so I am an Oduduwa citizen by birth. Will my new compatriots accuse me of being a closet ofe mmanu, indoctrinated in mgati-ism? I prefer amala to akpu anyday, by the way. No, I am not a traitor. And yeah, owambe parties rock. There I said it, so shoot me.


If we split, what would happen to investments in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt by different ethnicities? Will they be nationalized or appropriated? Fuck that big English – so I won’t be able to enjoy efo riro, kilishi and edika-ikong anymore? Tiwa Savage would now be far away from me, as she would be a foreign national, and so that will dash my dreams of dating her. Anyway sha, I would ‘manage’ Genevieve and Munachi.


Our national teams nko? Okay, Mikel Obi, Kalu Uche, Kanu and Ike Uche are decent footballers, but what about Osaze, Yakubu and Sani Kaita nko? Granted, we will whoop you all at soccer tournaments sha. Our team would be too mad.

But there are other logistic problems if we were to split, and I am worried about Biafra. Who would be our president. I would have rooted for Ekwueme if he was younger, as he looks distinguished and has oratory skills like Obama, but something tells me that we may end up with Pius Anyim instead. And where would the capital be; Owerri could be the Las Vegas of Biafra, but what about the capital? Abakiliki, Enugu, Nkalagu, my home-town (Umu-Esco)?


One last question though, what would be our Independence Year? 1967 or 2012? Or 2000 and never? Ok, just asking.

  • Finally, rewind to a good few years back. It was my birthday, and I was seriously dulling in my school apartment with a couple of my friends. We were drinking garri without groundnut ( a travesty), when some-one asked a question “Esco, if a genie appeared and granted you a choice out of 2 wishes as your birthday present. Either become a citizen of any country of your choice, or take 20 million naira cash here and now, and remain in Nigeria. Which would you choose?”

That provoked a lively debate. Ol boy, any of those is an upgrade on drinking garri on my life anniversary date. So which do I choose? Visa Lottery or Cash Lotto?  One thing is for sure – I would rather be a lion in the jungle than a cat in the city. I would rather be a crocodile in the bush, than a lizard on a Lagos fence with broken bottles. I would rather be an IBB in Minna, or an OBJ at Ota than a GEJ in Aso Rock. Or whatever that means.


With the number of people that were seen at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport trying to ‘escape’ Nigeria on the week of the nationwide strike last 2 weeks, Visa Lottery may be king. But 20 million naira nor be joke o. Although rent in Lekki phase one for one year plus the agency fees will put a big hole in that amount, leaving just enough for ‘suffering and smiling.”


So what would you choose, and where would you go? And don’t forget my present. Or gift.


Happy birthday to me…..

Birthdays was the worst days/

Now we sip champagne, when we thirsty/

Notorious BIG (Juicy, 1994)