I Have Exam Fever

*Confused.com

Failure is not an option; or optional question

My law school final exams are perhaps the most difficult exams I have ever taken. There was so much material to cover, and some of the subjects such as legal drafting and conveyancing were a bit technical.

It didn’t help that the auditorium had been very hot during the classes as the Abuja sun blazed, and many lectures had turned into a fan swinging contest between students. Some hot chicks (no pun intended) undid 3 or 4 buttons on their shirts, as they struggled to cool in the heat, creating a free show of cleavage for some pervs sat some rows above. Those sat below saw bush too.

During the exam period, the campus fellowship was filled to the rafters. People who pre-exam, had spent most of their evenings and nights at the mammy market drinking, smoking or trying to snag chicks, now thronged to the fellowship on exam nights. If you don’t know by now, you will never know.

Then the exams themselves were like a body blow from Bash Ali. I opened the question paper for Company Law, and felt like I had just eaten an expired muffin from Chocolate Royal. Sick to the stomach. The objective part of the paper written earlier had been no better for me, as I played mini mini mani mo, trying to guess the answers. I tried to think of case law to buttress my answers which would incur additional marks, but none came to mind. I looked around at fellow students around me to see if they were seeing what I was seeing. The girl to the right of me, who I recognized from carrying huge textbooks and compendiums, had a dead eye stare of confusion, like they had sworn for her from her village.

I looked to the other side of me, I saw the class wiz-kid writing furiously as he balanced his spectacles on his nose with his finger. I looked across, and I saw one of the examiners looking straight at me like “Today na today; if you try cheat eh, I go put you for corner” Naughty corner.

I looked down at my question paper and blinked; I clicked my heels 3 times, but no answers came to memory.

One of the students who was an older Deeper Life SU type, had even taken off her head scarf in tension. Oh, that is it – lifting the veil to expose the sham. And somehow more answers came to me slowly like a song I wrote. I pulled out my Eleganza biro and started writing furiously, like the Nigerian Senate hurriedly passing bills in the last days of GEJ’s reign. And I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, smiling to myself with pride in my turn around in fortunes. I could feel the invigilator’s gaze upon me, as he wondered where I discovered this new found knowledge and zeal. He even came and stood behind for about 15 minutes, just to make sure I was not cheating somehow. May your blessings confuse your doubters and enemies!

Four months later, I passed the exam. Congratulobia! The call to bar party rice my folks made was redder and sweeter than those who made distinction sef. I declared big time at the mammy market, buying beer and pepper soup for friends and well-wishers alike. Even people who had failed the exams, and had to re-sit the exams, partook of my largesse.

If you are taking exams, avoid the following kinds of people:

Folks who collect extra sheet just to get a rep – this people have no chill like a broken Thermocool fridge. They remind me of overzealous meatheads at the gym, who crank up the threadmill speed and incline, or add on additional weights to the barbells, just to make you feel some kind of way about your own fitness. But the proof is in the pudding, and in this case, the results.

People who want to discuss the answers immediately after the paper. Or go through the question papers, after the fact. Or are miserable after noticing mistakes or answers not written correctly. I dodge them after the exam, like they have been infected with a communicable disease. You see, I am different; I roll that question paper into a ball, and drop it like a hot potato into the trash can, like the Lagos Islanders basketball team. Or I sow the question paper into a junior’s life so he can use it to prepare for next year’s exam. Let that man worry about it. Once I am done, I am done.

People who spend more time getting tactics ready for cheating than they would getting ready for the exam. They painstakingly construct micro-chips, or sitting arrangements, or new tattoos on their limbs containing the answers. They remind of the PDP –  politicians who spend billions bribing electorates with bags of rice, free credit and what-not; rather than using said money or even mere millions for rural electrification programs, scholarships for impoverished communities, an act which is cheaper and would make them favorites for relection. God is watching you o.

Abeg, let me go and prepare for a case jare.

Teacher No Teach Me Nonsense

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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?

Penguins

IS GROWING UP IS 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

I DON HAMMER ONE MILLION DOLLARS O!!

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)

 

PUSH ME, I PUSH YOU

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)

Ogogoro Be Like Woman

I must break you..

I must break you..

 

It has been said times without number that men and women are from two different planets. I am in my 3rd decade on God’s green earth, and I am no closer to understanding the inner workings of the fairer sex. Women also say that men are obsessed with shallow things, so fair play.

However I believe that some Nigerian women are another sub-species. This is a country of wide range of personalities, body-types, backgrounds, temperaments and levels of kolo-ness. After all this is the nation of Chimanda and Cossy, Dora Akinluyi and Oge Okoye, Iyabo Obasanjo and Abani Darego, Mama Bakassi and Toolz, Tiwa Savage and….you get my point.

So the Nigerian woman is diverse. But some Nigerian females are complex individuals. They play mind games on chaps who fancy them; they resort to mental backhand tactics to get what they want. Of all the things women do that intrigue, the most bizarre one is the emotional blackmail.

Emotional blackmail is a term used to describe a series of verbal and non-verbal actions females use to manipulate men into doing what they want.

Relax my female readers; this is not “bash woman day.” Read on and you would see.

I just mediated in a domestic dispute between a 30-something year old Nigerian couple. Maybe “mediated” is not the word, as the husband was physically present narrating his grieviances against his wife, when she called my phone blaring obscenities and using words like “Is that useless fool there”, and other foul words like “divorce” , “alimony.” Alimony in Nigeria? Well I never…I know of concepts like ceremony or testimony or plenty money.

And even though the wife was not physically present as I tried to adjudicate between this young couple, it was still warfare. He was trying to talk over me to her while I had her on the line, and I was trying to prevent her from smashing an emotional pestle over his head. I was unable to calm her down, and she later dropped the phone promising to call me later to vent.

What was the issue between the couple? Wait for it….

I then turned to the chap, and I gave him trite advice in a nutshell: Dude, I will try my best to reconcile you lot, but ultimately it is you who are responsible for keeping your marriage intact and preserving your home.

The guy shook his head as he tried to protest but I cut him off like Zenith Bank money van police escort. I explained that going forward, we were going to use a technique I read about somewhere. Rather than yelling loudly at your spouse or partner and having heated exchanges over a disagreement, you write your concerns and grievances as a 4 page letter, and hand it to him/her to read. When people are angry, they get defensive and less conciliatory. Women especially detest being abused or reprimanded, and you are unlikely to win an argument with your wife/girlfriend/friend by verbally sparring. Or so I think…

Nigerian women especially will out-shout you, and they will bring out weapons that go beyond the rules of engagement. Weapons don’t will torpedo your welfare and any attempts to wage warfare Look at you, so you can open your mouth and call yourself a man.

So this dude agreed to write his wifey a delinquent letter. I, Esco, have been granted a special dispensation to reproduce the letter for the first time, for the benefit of all subscribing Woah-Nigerians. I have touched it up off course, to make it a bit more readable. Haha! Listen (or rather read) and learn:

 

My dear wife, alias partner, aka permanent girlfriend, it is a cold world (and hot country) out there. I head out every morning at breaking day to seek out our daily bread (and remember you only eat sliced butter bread which is more expensive). Life is painstakingly hard without marriage squabbles jumping into the mix. I am already contending with opposing forces every day of my daily life – our township brethren want to give me hypertension with financial and cultural demands, LASTMA officers want to intercept my car for trivial traffic offences like buying hawked UTC Marble cake in traffic, NEPA wants to take power whenever they wish not caring if I am plugged unto a life support machine or not (sometimes I think the off/on power switch at PHCN is being controlled by a politician’s toddler who flicks and plays with it constantly for fun), the police want to take shots at me even though I was the one who called to alert them to armed robbers in my yard. My pastor wants to oppress me with a new Cessna private jet even though he knows I have been on Legedis Benz ever since our car lease company decided to do their ogbanje repo moves; Lagos Internal Revenue Service wants to put yellow tapes around and seal off my business premises due to unpaid taxes. There are runs girls who want to give me a “hot one” in my office, so that they can attach my salary.

That is why every Saturday, I put aside a set time in the afternoon to relax, recuperate my sanity and download normality into my banal existence. This is when I carve out a crevice in the fast pace of time, to watch football matches, and cheer a winning team since the party I voted into power are scoring own goals every day. But my dear wife, this does not seem to register with you for some reason.

Of all times to ask me to come and hook up the gas pot to the burner, it is when Chelsea Football Club is playing a vital match. Of all the days, weeks and months since we got married, it is only this particular time on Saturdays, you deem it fit to invite your talkative and poverty-stricken Uncle and his wife over to our house for brinner (breakfast, lunch and dinner). You know that they are incapable of comprehending when they have overstayed their welcome. I will have you know that it is especially difficult listening to Victor “Chelsea have leaded” Ikpeba’s commentary on the match, grammar shells and all, while listening to your Uncle display his rank ignorance on a wide plethora of subjects, with his wife nodding like a Red-neck lizard. He not only seats in my special and strategically placed chair, he eats my fried snails and struts around my living room like drunk housefly. Baby, I am frustrated with this marriage.

Before I married you, I knew your strengths and weakness and accepted both. Let me begin with your strengths – you are a powerful orator, never requiring a public address system to announce private issues. You are very generous too – but with my possession and earnings. The beneficiaries of your largess are conveniently your family. Now, timing has never been your forte. Timing with words or timing with time-keeping or timing with requests. I find it odd that you want us to pray before we have sex. That means I can never enjoy a quickie with you.

I can bear all of the above, but when you interrupt my weekend football sessions, I lose it, like our government has lost the plot.

Now, you were angry because I peacefully asked you to wait 10 minutes till it is half-time so I could sort out your request. You started foaming at the house, screaming and poking your fingers at me. As I turned to address you, Fernando Torres, the Chelsea striker missed a sitter when through one-one-one facing the keeper  in the penalty box (does he ever score; but that’s beside the point, isn’t it?). You distracted me from the match and now I have missed a vital play.

You raised your voice at me like an owambe party announcer. And I am like, please stop waving your hands at me like a Yellow Fever warden, it is making me nervous. Out of the side of my eye, I saw Nwaolodo our 45 month old daughter watching us closely soaking up the events like Ijebu garri. I have told you many times to stop exhibiting violence in front of the kids. Nwaolodo’s teacher has already confided in me that the child behaves aggressively in school towards other kids. She extorted Bornboy’s lunch from him, and blew ground chalk in Binta’s face. Then last week, I saw her with a novel that wasn’t hers. She had stolen a classmate’s “Eze Goes to School” book and had drawn jaka-jaka all over it. At her arts class, the teacher was visibly shocked when she drew a picture of Ibori’s head.

Now she is just standing there watching, and seemingly willing us to come to physical blows like Dick Tiger versus Bash Ali. Or Samuel Peter versus Joe Lasisi. Or Karen Igho versus the security guy at that Club in V.I, or Don Jazzy versus…

Violence is never the key. You seem to have gotten it on lock though.

So back to our matter at hand. You got impatient and tried some guerilla tactics by standing between me and the TV, blocking my view totally like Face Me – I face You buildings. Then the worst happened – I heard the commentator scream “Mikel shoots likes a trigger happy MOPOL. Goal!!!!!”

I heard it but didn’t see it. Why? Your ample frame had blocked everything – the beautiful set-play, the creativity and genius which accompanied it, and the well-taken strike. Goal ocha!

You blocked my view of my 40 inch plasma screen; baby you are baying for spilled plasma o!

Choi! Baby you have killed me!! You made me miss a Mikel goal which is an oxymoron, like incorruptible Nigerian politician. Baby you have murdered peace! Where does this marriage go from here? From Mushin to More Hits?

Seeing that you had broken me emotionally, you now twisted the knife in by announcing to me: Since you have refused to help me connect the gas pot, I cannot cook, so they would be no food to eat today in the house, and definitely no pepper-soup. I have locked the kitchen. By the way, Nwaolodo had the last 2 packs of Indomie for dinner.

Baby Walakolombo! Papa Emeka our neighbor, make you come judge matter before I lose it quick, like stolen Brazilian weave.

Wait and it gets worse, I cannot even get your family members to intervene, as they are a motley crew of mercenaries.

Your mother is like Medusa’s twin sister. She seems to derive joy whenever we argue and cannot be trusted to be fair. It is so transparent the way that she calls my phone whenever she hears that we had a tiff (which is the only time she ever calls me). The conversation always starts without the customary “hello” greeting: “In-law, I heard what happened…” Even before my daughter told me the story, I judged that you were wrong. I raised my daughter right…you are the problem. You were also wrong for my daughter.

Following Esco’s prompting, I have decided to be brush everything under the carpet. After our argument, I left the house without finishing the match, and drove down to Esco’s place to clear my head and have a cold beer. Here is my apology for 2013:

Please darling, from here on now, do not make me choose between you and Chelsea FC because it is ridiculous. You are my physical wife, my old earth, Oma, the apple of my eye, the corned beef in my moi moi, the battery in my blackberry. If I didn’t value you, I would not have paid that outrageous dowry your hungry father placed on your head. I could have used that tidy sum to buy land in Mowe or shares in Spring Bank.

Chelsea FC is my trophy wife. Unlike Arsenal. Ok bad joke.

I hope we put this all behind us. I will never let you go like LASTMA when they catch you using one-way. Our love will grow like an udara seed. I love you like Yoruba people love fish stew. Our bounty will be plentiful like Igbo people in Houston. Please forgive me. But your mother is another matter….

 

Part 2 next.

 

Girl don’t even start again, I beg your pardon/

and get your hands off my six button cardigan/

Big Pun (Punish Me, 1998)

 

Akwukwo Na Tu Uto (Literature is sumptuous)

Image

Knock, knock!

Na who dey there?

Abeg, all the visitors of this blog should help me beg the VIP readers who comment and subscribe to this blog. I really apologize for the ‘brief’ hiatus. I was actually around, but I was not “on seat.” The Nigerian civil service shows that you can be absent from your desk but present at work.

Outside of blogging, I have had so much going on lately. I am also dealing with life’s pressures and pleasures constantly.  And some of this pressures get as dem be. Sometimes blogging is the last thing I want to do. Maybe I need to hire a special assistant who can take dictation. Sir, how do I spell Kpom kwem?

God was faithful, so I managed to conquer all life had to throw at me in 2012, and here I am in 2013 alive and well. Life is good. I hope 2013 has found you all in good health. What special things happened in your life. Anyone? Abi una still dey vex? Una nor gree answer me? Okay be like that. Ogboju pass power.

Besides, it hasn’t been that long since we last exchanged ideas, has it? Let me recount what ‘types’ of water has passed under the bridge since my last post on October 20 2012:

Tonto Dikeh released a single which was critically exclaimed at (forget acclaimed), while Tiwa Savage released a statement on Twitter denying that she had gotten married secretly, even though she didn’t verify if she was single.

D’Banj’s new single “The Bachelor” has gotten mixed reviews, and is said not be as “critically acclaimed” as his earlier works like “Oliver Twist” while Osaze Odemwengie the football star, heavily criticized the Super Eagles coach Stephen “Bournvira” Keshi for dropping him from the squad for the Nations Cup tournament starting tomorrow. Osaze claimed that stories circulating that he was a divisive character were twisted.

Cossy Orjiakor went HAM on Twitter with some racy photos of her in a Bravissimo Cosset, sorry corset, complete with stockings; Beyonce seemingly reacted jealously to the column inches and press Cossy was getting, by releasing pictures of herself in panties and in various stages of undress. Ok o.

Tony Anenih, the politician and PDP stalwart, was appointed chairman of the board of the NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority) even though he is damn near 100 years old; meanwhile some weeks ago, meanwhile over 100 youths were expelled from Covenant University for supposedly skiving an “end-of-term” church mass.

Kim Kardashian and her dude announced that they are expecting a baby; Chika Ike, the Nollywood actress posted vacation clips of herself at a Maryland USA Zoo carrying a baby “crocodye” (alligator).

GEJ our President announced recently that he was sending a military contingent to help with the international war effort against jihadist insurgents in Mali, even though there is fire on the mountain at home (Boko Haram, it is not fair o) which hasn’t been fixed yet. On another tip, the war on corruption seemed to take another dive when the Central Bank governor announced that over a billion naira in cash had developed legs and waka-ed from the Security and Minting premises. Talk about fast money.

A huge debate about whether pastors and clergymen should own private jets was a major topic for discussion on many Nigerian online forums some weeks back. Meanwhile Dana Air re-launched and resumed services like they had never been away. They should get Denzel Washington to fly their planes. You should have seen what he did in Flight.

And Esco began work on his memoirs…..

Yes, Yes, I am currently working on a book. I am announcing it, so that I would not be able to back out and you can hold me to it. I am also letting you know so you can start putting your shillings aside.

It all started a few years ago, when someone read all the articles in this blog, and asked me “Esco if you wrote a book on your life, do you think anybody would read it?” Well, only one way to find out..

So in a nutshell, I have prepared a set of FAQs to provide more insight about the book:

1. What is the title of the book? It is a trade secret at this time. Intellectual property thieves abound in cyberville and I don’t want anyone biting my ideas like electric ant. I wrote the name of the book on a sheet of paper, and then shoved it inside a large Ghana-must-go bag, with a tuber of yam inside as a decoy. I spied around to make sure nobody was watching, as I placed the bag inside a Bagco Super sack, and then put the sack into a metal trunk box. I bought a Yeti padlock, and locked the iron box. Not content, I hauled the box with me as I travelled to the village and left it in the care of my grandmother. She placed the box under her bed next to her crate of eggs and Guinness Stout. Good luck trying to steal from my nan. Under her bed is said to be safer than Fort Knox or Aso Rock. It is definitely safer than Abia at Xmas with all the kidnappings. To make double sure all was secure, on my way back from the hamlet, I stopped at Onitsha and tossed the padlock key into the River Niger. Mungo Park’s got it now…

 

To be fair, what I have is a working title. But my thing is that it does not roll off the tongue enough for me. It does not sound epic or awe-inspiring or swash-buckling. The name sounds as un-exotic as Nkalagu. I even had my Calabar house-boy pronounce the name of the book  repeatedly in his thick Efik accent, but the name sounded flat. Mbok…

 

2. When will the book be released? Ahn ahn cool down na. Don’t jump the gun. One thing at a time. Horse before the cart. Secure garri before putting the hot water on stove. Ensure power generation and tackle corruption before you talk of a 2nd presidential term. Buy the runs girl popcorn first before you start to talk of carting her home for overnight “take-away.” I am currently writing as I speak, but I expect it to be released before summer. This year…

3. What would the book be about sef: It could be a bit similar to this blog. A few chapters would be stories about my life. Things I have done, places I have been, faces I have seen. The world through the tunnel vision of Escope. If you like this blog, you would like my book. If you do  not like this blog, I authorize you to purchase and gift it. Repeat 20 times and forward the book to 20 people, and then relax and see if something (anything) would not manifest in your life. Sow a big agbalumon seed into somebody’s life this year. Stop sowing tiny pawpaw seeds into people’s lives. Anyhow, that way I gain too. And I blog more, and hopefully you laugh more. So Nigeria is a happy country. And Boko Haram relocates. With all the wicked politicians. 

4. I am currently working on the first few chapters. I have already made an outline and it is looking like a wedding program without an Item no. 7. However I am not sure if the words I have used so far are grand enough. A critic (hater) opined that the book in its draft form is already starting to look like those Igbo village almanacs. I don’t want a book with very simplistic sentences, and lots of big pictures (foto), such that you use your fingers to trace the words while reading. Blogging is a pretty straight forward venture, but I find that writing a book is another matter o. The difference is like Alarm Blow and Jegede Shokoya. Maybe I need to hire a professional speech-writer to edit the drafts I have so far. Please wbo has Hon. Obahiagbon’s telephone number? The rank salubrity of Esco’s crass manifestations to overwhelm Gorgon Medusa…

I want a product that would make a smooth read for at least 3 generations of Nigerians. The millenials (those in their 20s), the oil-boomers (readers born in the 70s and early 80s) and the “Papa thank yous” (those born around independence and the Civil War era. A memorandum of my aspirations to unite the country of my birth – a manual of our  amalgamated and manifest destiny for posterity. Story….

I am tempted to call it a coffee table book, but how many Nigerian homes contain one? I somehow cannot bring myself to call it a dining-table book. Ogbono soup stains do not go well with paper literature.

5. Esco, have you abandoned blogging for the bright and moth-seducing lights of Nollywood stardorm with book-writing? No I am not selling out; rather I am cashing in. Haha. Blogging is electic-writing, no?

 Trivia: Omotola or Genevieve? Answer: Yvonne Okoro…

6. How much would the book cost? I have kids to feed:  Well it will be cheap and affordable enough…especially if you are Dangote. Nah, I am just pulling your legs. I am trying to put a quality product out there. I am keen to push a book which has quality paper that would not stick together like cheap rice. Would it be a collector’s item? Well it would be popular with “I-wan-buy-paper” merchants.

 Stop goofing around Esco, so would it  be set at a pocket-friendly price? Yes. Cheaper than a politician’s campaign promise. It would also be cheaper by the dozen. You should buy 12 and read one every month of the year.

7. See this guy o. What makes you think that I would spend a kobo on your yeye book sef: You have started again in 2013 abi? This is a new year o.  See point 5 above.

So there you have it. Happy New Year, and see you at the comment box below….

Nas will prevail/

Buy the book when it’s up for sale/

Nas (Rest of My Life, 2004)

How To Spot A Runs Girl In 365 Days

 

CAVEAT before CAVEAT:# This is an article I had written more than 2 years ago. Ended up not publishing it as I felt it may upset some sensibilities. It had been stored as a draft since then, tucked away from my memory. Alas, I discovered it this evening, and I have decided to upload it. It is old, it is dusty and it was written many moons ago. I am also feeling exceptionally lazy this weekend, so I am digging into the archives to bring out the “bottom pot.”

But it is relevant, and that is a winner any day in my book (or my blog). Fellas thank me for this. This may upset a few people especially certain female folk. I plead “The Caveat.”

____________________________________________

2010 -2020 has been declared the decade of the Runs Girl. ‘Runs girls’ have become a huge societal problem in Nigeria, just somewhere after corruption, and somewhere before inflation. They break up marriages, they convert our daughters at university, they reduce the productivity of top managers and execs. They even kill – a commissioner in one of the South South states was found dead in a hotel room last year after a bout with one of these chicks. It didn’t help that he also had Red Bull and garri as an aphrodisiac. Sometimes less is more.

But they are mostly a threat to young professional males who are looking to settle down. The truth is they are hard to spot. If you are in a BRT bus, in a plane, at a wedding, at a bar, at Silverbird Mall, take a look over your shoulder – you may be in the presence of a runs girl. Once they have got their eyes on you, it is curtains. One zeroed in on my friend at a wedding. She just walked across the room, bumping past other people  and shoving them aside like Richard Ashcroft in that The Verve  music video (Youtube it – the name of the tune is Sweetest Symphony).

Some weeks back (now many moons ago), I was chilling with some chaps discussing the ‘runs girl’ phenomena and how it was putting willing blokes off proper relationships as it is difficult to separate the unreal from the authentic.  It was all macho banter, and everyone started chipping in their rules for deciphering a ‘runs girl’ from a ‘take home to mama’ aka ‘full cream’.

Guys take note, girls please do not shoot the messenger (not that I am one).

1.      If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Dude, if you were not a player before, or you were always passed up by chicks whenever you chatted them, it is not going to start now. If suddenly a hot looking model like thing is all over you,( a few days after you closed down a multi-million naira deal or a killer job at a Fortune 500 outfit) and kisses you on the first day, let your alarm bells ring (or your inner rooster crow). Girls are not now suddenly dating you because of your looks. Run. For. Your. Life (or wife).

2.      She is not bothered about meeting your folks or siblings. Or your friends. Unless they are minted ( they have owo, kudi, ego, Ghana-Must-Go fillers). Any girl who rates people by the size of their bank accounts needs to be defended against (like Lynxx’s Azonto dance in that Black Magic video “Confam”)

3.      This chick dresses really nice. Every time you see her, her jeans are on point, with an IT  bag and really chunky jewelry. But she has no visible means of livelihood. While you, as a hardworking lad is grinding and dreaming schemes to make profit or even collect your monthly salary, this runs girls are at home scheming of turnovers (get it, turn-overs?). Before runs girls used to opt for ushering gigs where they could analyze their targets, but now they are just consultants or shop owners. Beware, her new source of livelihood is now you.

4.      You could never grab a small bite with this chick whenever you are out for dinner. Anytime you stop over at a joint to grab a few things, this babe is packing enough grub to feed a small army. And she lekpa die (lekpa means anorexic, thin, slight, bony). You look at her slender frame puzzled and wonder where all that food is going. Best to check her IT (eat) bag.

5.      A few runs girls may not  be all that bothered if you try to  chat up or try to sleep with any of her friends. It is a win-win for her and her posse, you see. It is like a friend-pool to play the lottery; either way, both of them hit the jackpot (you). Besides there is always your rich brother or friend. Watch her friends. Birds of the same feather, err f… together. 

6.      Anytime you give her a present, it somehow seems like you are paying for a service. She may even ask you for the price of the present or ask you to change it something of her choice (which is always co-incidentally more expensive). A friend started seeing this chick he had met at a video club in Surulere (of all places). On Valentines Day, he decided to get her a pair of shoes (why he did that, I would never know). Was she pleased, seeing that they had only known each other for just over a month. Nah, she made him give her the receipt, because she preferred the monetary equivalent! I would have returned her to where I found her.

7.  First time you met her, when you said ‘Hello’ she said ‘Hi’. I do not know what this means either, but one of my friends at our round-table suggested it, and it was endorsed by the Literati (guys at the table).

 

 

They spot you out dancing topless in your drawers/
Damn look, there goes a black girl lost/

Nas (Black Girl Lost, 1996)

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?

5.  THE IT MAESTRO:

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.