Monday, December 31, 2012

9JA Part 2

Port Harcourt
Port Harcourt hasn't changed since I last saw it, the roads were still as bumpy as hell and all the regular landmarks were there. The traffic however has worsened a million times over to the point of serious frustration. I shared driving responsibilities with Coco, I did end up scratching the car on an eventful day. Not that it was completely my fault, the other fella cut into my lane and apparently I was supposed to be 'aggressive'. My mind was still processing 'road rules' et al. The truth is simple, to survive on Nigerian roads, you must throw all rules out of the window. I won't reveal all the highlights of the PH trip here, let's just say I came single and didn't leave the same way, lol.

However I'll drop a few other highlights.

Coco was bemused by my 'habit' of tipping people for 'doing their jobs', lol. The hotel I stayed in was pretty nice, except that it took 5minutes to open the door with a key. It was a funny cycle that transpired through out my stay at the hotel. I would complain that I couldn't open my door, the concierge would beam a smile at me and send a porter to assist in opening the door, then the porter would wrestle with the door knob and keys for 5minutes, sweating profusely in the process, eventually the stubborn door would open and I'ld gladly tip him for his efforts, the porter's face would light up with a big smile and after firing off several "thank you Oga" greetings to my embarrasment, I finally gain entrance to my room.

I went to watch the new Twilight flick with Coco. Now you have to understand that I'm not a Twilight fan, and I haven't even watched any of the previous Twilight movies but a man's gotta stick his by his wifey, lol. The movie wasn't all that bad, I wasn't in Team Edward or Jacob, but I was amazed at how excited people were in the cinema. As in, people were so 'involved' in the movie that some clapped during the action scenes and even yelled encouragement to the actors, "Kill am well well, he go die today o". It was hilarious to observe but I did enjoy the experience. I remember watching movies/soap operas in 9ja as a kid and believing that the villains were really wicked people, lol. There was no seperation between the character and the real person, so I could identify with "he go die today o".

After 4 nights in PH, our next stop was Las Gidi. We turned quite a few heads at the airport (permit me to brag small, we are a beautiful couple, thanks to wifey) and the flight was uneventful. No stress, till we got to Lagos...

Las Gidi
How do I begin? The flight from PH to Lagos took 45 minutes, but it took us over 2 hours to drive from the airport to Lekki. Bear in mind that our taxi driver was a seasoned professional who could navigate all the backroads to avoid traffic and it wasn't rush hour, yet it was crazy. Las Gidi keeps transforming every hour, tis pretty hard to recognize the city I grew up and schooled in. There are still alot of landmarks from the past but there are a thousand new buildings I could barely recognize. I still recall the days when Lekki was like the wastelands, just sand and no buildings, back in 1996 when Abacha-stove was popular and baggy jeans were still in fashion.

We drove by LOP (Land of Plenty) and memories of secondary school and boarding house came flooding back. Even Bar Beach looks transformed, as if it has received a super anointing to deliver it from the evils of the red light district (if you lived in VI back in the late 90s then you would understand what I mean). "The Palms" in Lekki seems to be the rendezvous point for oppressing thy neighbor. We ran into an overdressed young woman who was happily 'posing' and taking pictures in front of different stores at the mall, oblivious to the people walking by. I exchanged a hidden glance/smile with Coco, "fresh from the village" we thought, lol (biko, don't judge). A few minutes later, the young chic walked by us again and as she passed we heard her say "chai, my leg dey pain me". Las Gidi effizi is on a different level o, I must admit that I was impressed by the 'style' on display, as in color blocking and color combination toh badt! Sunday service was at TPH, and the choir/singing was fantastic, best I've heard in years.

We eventually bid Las Gidi goodbye and prepared for the last leg of our journey to Abuja. That was when the kasala started. First of all, our cab ride from Lekki to the airport wasn't so comfortable. Considering the heat in Gidi, having a car with a functional AC is a necessity, so we didn't mind paying good money for a cab with a decent working AC. We never waka reach 5 minutes before traffic hook us, the AC wey bin dey blow cold before o begin blow very hot air. At first we suffered in silence for over 20 minutes, then Coco asked the cab driver if he was sure his AC was working and his response nearly scrambled my brain cells: "When the sun dey shine, the AC dey normally blow hot, na because of the sun". I won't lie, I did a mental review of thermodynamics and heat flow in my head just to be sure that I heard him right, my final conclusion was that either our driver was suffering from heat induced dementia or that the laws of thermodynamics were different in Nigeria! We got to the airport and the drama still wasn't over...

Our flight was delayed by a few hours and when we finally boarded, the plane was filled to capacity. The flight was pretty smooth and everything was peaches and cream till we landed in Abj. First of all, this idea of getting off the plane straight onto the tarmac is not ideal, coupled with the fact that you have to identify your luggage before you board the plane. Anyway, we stood by the luggage conveyor belt inside the arrival area of the airport, waiting for our bags to show and 45 minutes later we still never see am. By then 3 other airlines had landed and the passengers picked up their bags and left while none of the passengers on the flight I arrived with had received their bags. Till today, I still don't understand why I stood patiently staring at the conveyor belt, maybe because I was lost in the fragrance of Coco's perfume or because I had faith in our airline system since our plane didn't crash, but we did stand there for 45 minutes sha staring at the belt repeat its 360 degrees cycle. Finally my eye cleared (or I think Coco moved, so I was released from the spell of the daydream), and I noticed that all the passengers on our flight were still standing and waiting for their luggage. Could it be that...? Nah, impossible! How could that happen, u follow what I'm thinking ba?

Anyway, we went looking for an Aero contractor official to find our luggage and ran into a very angry yoruba man clad in native wear, accompanied by a tall, dark and serene looking Igbo gentleman (he looked like a Chinedu, don't ask me why, I just know). The Igbo guy looked so peaceful and calm (I almost thought he was high on bitterleaf or ugu) while the other man kept yelling at him with rage. I moved a little closer to Coco to shield her (as a knight, I no want make anybody kolo near my wifey biko, I never pay) as we approached the pair and the scene below played out:

Warning: The dialogue below is written as it transpired, with the grammatical inflections used by the speakers

Angry Yoruba man (yelling): Can you imagine! Can you imagine! You must be mad!

Calm Igbo saint: Silence...staring into space.

Me to St Igbo (who apparently had a tag identifying him as an Airport rep): Excuse me sir, but we've been waiting for our bags for a long time and they still havent showed up.(2 things to point out: I used my pseudo yankee accent, apparently if you want to get things done quickly with maximum respect, the yankee accent helps. Secondly, I used the word 'bags', big grammar confuses alot of people. I once asked for my 'baggage' and the person thought I was asking for 'garbage')

Angry Yoruba man (still yelling and trying to get Coco's attention): Can you imagine! He left it behind!

St Igbo(with that same peaceful look): Well, I am the Aero official here and I'm responsible for your safety. First of all, I just want to thank the Lord that you arrived safely...

Coco cuts in quickly..."what happened to our bags?"
I'm listening attentively and wondering why St Igbo is so thankful that we arrived safely, was the plane supposed to have crashed?

St Igbo (continuing without looking ruffled): Yes, the plane was filled to maximum capacity and because of safety we left the bags in Lagos.

Me: I'm sorry, I don't understand.

Angry Yoruba man: Can you imagine! You are not serious o, what do you mean by that!!!

St Igbo (still in that same calm voice, it was hypnotic, wallahi): I'm responsible for your safety (this dude wasn't even on the plane), and they just filled the plane with full tank of fuel, so it would have been overweight if we carried the bags. Your bags will arrive on the next flight.

Coco (her beautiful eyes wide open in surprise): Isn't the plane designed to fly with full capacity? So how are you sure that our bags will arrive on the next flight? What if the next plane has a full tank as well?

St Igbo: It is simple arithmethic.
Till today I don't understand how that answered the question, there has to be something to the arithmetic that only he understood.

Angry Yoruba man: Can you imagine!!! Nonsense, where is your manager!
By this time, a crowd of angry passengers had gathered round and as the information spread that our bags were still chilling in Lagos while we were in Abuja, the anger level rose rapidly and voices climbed to the ceiling.

St Igbo (still as unruffled as ever): First of all, I want to thank the Lord that you arrived safely...(dude was repeating his soundtrack all over again, and he finished with..."It is simple arithmetic")

Me (as naive as the white man in Things fall Apart): So what about compensation? We'll get some form of compensation, right?

A number of faces in the crowd turned and looked at me, some with the "eeeiyaaa, poor ignorant foreigner" look, others with the "what is compensation?" look...

St Igbo(calmly repeating his arithmetic soundtrack over and over)...

Me: What about compensation? Some one has to compensate us, that's the procedure right?

Finally someone in the crowd responded: "Ol boi, na 9ja you dey o, here no be America o"

My accent changed immediately and I joined the angry crowd..."Can you imgine!!!"

NB: This will probably be my last post for the year. 2012 was wonderful, and 2013 promises to be even better. I'm thankful for my family and friends, life and every little blessing it brings. Big shout out to my blog followers/readers, y'all rock. Most important, I'm thankful for my fiancee, Coco, 2012 was special just because of you, te amor! To everyone, my parting words for 2012 are: Count your blessings, be thankful for everything and show a little more love in 2013, be a shining light for love, hope and joy in your own little sphere of influence. See you all in 2013...

As for the Mayans, "una no well o, film no dey finish till actor kill the bad guy". Una prediction don enter "To be continued"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Street Credibility...

I was watching an AY comedy skit yesterday night and couldn't stop laughing. Our 9ja people are really creative and they deserve alot of kudos for the progress in the entertainment industry. I must admit that I'm not a fan of Nigerian movies. I rarely watch them, maybe once in 5 years, but I'm a big fan of naija music, yes o! Anyway, I was watching a few flicks on Youtube and in one of them, people were asked to say the proper English translations for some phrases in pidgin English. For example, what is the proper English translation for "which kain mago mago be this?"

It was hilarious to watch people stumbling over synonyms for "mago mago". In most cases the first synonyms that came to mind were other pidgin English phrases like "wuru wuru", "wayo", "corner corner". After running through a couple of them, a few smart fellas were able to stumble on the proper translation: "what kind of trickery/fraudulent behavior is this?". Prior to my sojourn in the Garden City (PH! stand up!), my pidgin English was pretty much suspect and non-existent. I have to confess that Las Gidi pidgin is a bit too polished compared to the south side pidgin, lol. Ever listened to a fluid pidgin English conversation between 2 Warri fellas? Two words to describe it, Auto-tune! The natural voice inflexions and exclamations run the gamut from outrageous to sheer magic. Shooooo!!!

It got me thinking though, Nigerians are really smart people. Our brains process both English and pidgin so smoothly that the transition is almost imperceptible. For instance, I'll translate the first paragraph of this blog in to pidgin without pausing to think:

"I bin dey watch one AY comedy like that for nite and laff bin wan kpai me. Our 9ja people too sharp and dem suppose to dey collect better award bcos our show too make sense. I no go lie you, I no too dey send Naija film sha, I no dey even look am, kpata kpata once in 5yrs, but I dey feel naija jams, confam! Anyway sha, I bin dey watch some shows like that for Internet and dem bin ask some people make dem talk the oyibo word for some pidgin yarns. Okay make I ask you, wetin this word "what kind of foolery is this" mean?

That barely took 3 minutes, phew! I don't think I got all the words right, but you do get my drift abi? So let's see if I can put the street credibility of my blog readers to the test, lol. This isn't an IQ test, but you can gauge how advanced your pidgin is by taking the test below. I'll throw out a few pidgin words and you can try to translate it to proper (Queen's not Brooklyn Queens o!) English. In the spirit of Christmas, the first person to correctly translate everything/(or the most) will get a $50/25 gift card of their choice. For those outside the US, I guess we can monetize the award as well.

Season's greetings everyone!

A lil tip, some of the words are phrases/slangs/proverbs. Translating them to Queen's English implies a literal translation as well as an explanation. Give it your best shot, trust me, it aint easy at all, lol.

1. Nah today winsh begin fly?
2. You fat no mean say you dey enjoi.
3. No be the mouth wey pesin dey take price pepper dem dey use price tomato.
4. Na from clap party dey take enter dance.
5. Bros, I bow for you o! Unto which level?
6. Why you dey provoke, dem dey worry you?
7. Bros abeg park well, you too dey show yourself!
8. Guy free me, I no fit shout!
9. My liver bin wan fail me, wetin I for tell Press?
10. Abeg, no dey shout give me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Adam & Eve series: Random observations

Okay, I could not settle on an apt description for many reasons. I am not a psychologist, so I can't offer advice and tell you exactly how men or women think. I'm not married (yet), so I can't offer you marriage tips or relationship advice either. I try to learn as much as I can to get better, sometimes it gets a little blurry trying to filter through all the info. However, I've observed a few traits over the years and I'm trying to reconcile it with my behavior (I'm not your 'regular' dude, lol. I can be unconventional most of the time). Feel free to offer your perspective/critique to any points raised.

Random observations:
1. Most men are logical thinkers, most women are emotional thinkers

Note the emphasis on 'most', there are always exceptions to every rule. In order not to sound repetitive, when I say 'men/women', I'm actually referring to 'most men/women'

The way men and women are wired is different, I don't think you need a shrink to tell you that. When I say 'logical', I don't mean Socrates or Plato. Simply put, a man's thinking is ruled by figures, facts and numbers. There is barely any room for romanticism in thought, emotions are sacrificed on the altar of practicality and feasibility. Women on the other hand often yield to the allure of dreams. The funny thing I've observed however is that beneath all the emotions, women are equally logical, they explore the figures, numbers and facts but sprinkle in a little measure of dreams and extra imagination.

Let me paint a little picture for you, when a man thinks/plans his wedding, all he visualizes is the budget and logistics involved and sometimes life afterwards. There's no room for anything else. A woman 'dreams' about her wedding years before it approaches, so when she eventually starts planning for it, she considers the logical aspect, but she just doesn't abandon years of dreaming overnight, so dreams and logic/practicality merge till she tries to find a balance.

Why is this important? Simple, it can lead to a misunderstanding. The man thinks his wife isn't being practical and basically 'ignores' her dreams. The woman thinks her husband isn't being understanding, after all, refusing to even consider what she wants (no matter how illogical it may sound) indicates that he doesn't care about her opinion. Which raises one question, does it mean men are not emotional? Let's tackle observation number 2a and 2b.

2a. Men have short memories, women don't
2b. Women like to discuss issues, men don't.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that women like to talk and men are meek gentle creatures, lol. So a man and his wife have a simple misunderstanding, maybe a heated argument or just a difference in opinion or unresolved topic. Egos may have been bruised, voices raised, emotions and feelings hurt by careless words thrown around in the heat of the argument. Hours later, the man asks the woman if everything is okay and she says those golden words "I'm fine, there's no problem". The man in his naivety (lol) goes about life, oblivious to the storm (or in some cases, he chooses not to push). The truth is simple, when a woman's feelings have been hurt, she doesn't just forget it, she needs to 'discuss' it. Maybe it is because women are emotional, who knows? A man's mind is structured in compartments, men box up their emotions pretty quickly and forget about it, 30 minutes after the argument, the man barely remembers. Now don't get it twisted, men feel hurt too but it lasts for the duration of the argument. That's why you probably don't hear that 2 men have been quarreling for days, it is normally settled immediately. But when a woman's emotions are hurt, she bleeds slowly.

Then it gets worse, the man observes that the woman is acting different, and just because she says "I'm fine", he doesn't say a word. Don't blame the man sha, most men take words very literally, if you tell a man you are fine, then you are fine, that's logical, go back to point number 1. So the man notices that the woman isn't smiling or happy, but because her words imply that she is ok, he ignores his emotional heart and follows his logical head (lol, ego and pride). So when the woman eventually tells the man, "we have to talk", and raises the issue all over again, the man gets defensive, the woman feels unheard, the man feels misunderstood and the story continues...

"Tony and Cynthia just had a misunderstanding while discussing their future wedding. Tony feels Cynthia is not being practical with her expectations, Cynthia feels Tony isn't listening to her opinions.

2 hours later:
Tony: Is everthing alright?
Cynthia: I'm fine.

6 hours later:
Cynthia: We need to talk about this wedding
Tony: Shebi, you said you were okay?
Cynthia: Do I look like I'm happy?
Tony: How am I supposed to know?
Cynthia: If you need to be told all the time, then I'm not going to tell you, sometimes you need to push
Tony: Do I look like a mind reader?
The saga continues...(Why does "Sorry" seem to be the hardest word?)

One of the key ingredients of a healthy relationship is excellent communication. I don't subscribe to the "Think like a man" mentality ( no disrespect to Steve Harvey), not all men think the same way. Sometimes all you need to do is to change your approach based on the person you are talking to. When you talk to a child, you normally show alot of patience and understanding, why does it have to be different when you are talking to your spouse? The key word is 'understanding' before communication, understand that people think differently, that's what makes us unique.

Sadly, the reason why most relationships collapse is because of poor/zero communication, eventually the love goes cold. Communication is a 2-way street, you speak and then you listen, there's never a quick-fire solution or perfect script. I have to admit that men don't communicate as well as women (hides face) and women are more romantic than men, I really don't know why, lol.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents for today. Let me know what you think.

To my teacher and partner
Te amor, Olivia Bubble

9JA Part 1


Boarding the plane was the easy part, sitting down for the long flight was the tricky section of the trip. I braced myself for the recurring session of vertigo during the flight, then navigated through the flight entertainment section (my choice was a japanese flick, it perfectly suited my current craze with Asian art and culture), managed to wolf down the food while counting down the hours till touchdown in Abuja. There's nothing as good as coming back home, in my head I was whispering a P.Diddy tune as my eyes scanned the Abuja skyline during our descent. The heat welcomed me with a warm embrace, the air dry with a hint of dust...Good ol Abj, how I've missed thee...One of the customs officials beamed with pleasure as I approached, "Welcome oga! I hope your flight was okay sirOga you are looking very healthy o!" I couldn't help but tip him generously, imagine a small boy like me being hailed as "Oga", lol.

So much has changed! I held on tight to my seat as Ragfella navigated through the mild traffic with the ease of a Formula 1 driver. I just could'nt figure out why the roads did'nt have any lanes, all the cars switched and cut in like it was a video game! When I voiced my surprise at the blatant disregard of driving rules, Ragfella laughed and reminded me that I was back in Naija, "no be Yankee you dey o", he jokingly reminded me. Considering the fact that I had only been away from the country for 5years, I still felt out of synch with the status quo. "Surely, I'll blend in within a few hours", I muttered to myself...

The welcome entourage at home was wonderful. Kyla peered at me from behind her mother's legs, while Robyn smiled and beamed like an angel. After exchanging hugs with Wiggy, El-dee and Boi-O, we all lapsed into our favorite past-time, "gisting". As expected, there was no light from NEPA, but the little generator hummed happily in the background providing all the illumination we needed. A few hours later, I was in bed, happy and content after chatting with Coco, and dreaming of the days to come. I had a pretty tight schedule with stops in Port Harcourt, Lagos and a return to Abuja before the final departure to Jersey, so there wasn't any time to be wasted...

Port Harcourt

The flight to PH was pretty smooth, nevertheless I was bemused by the phony accents of the flight attendants. I simply can't understand why we have to fake an accent to feel polished/classy, what is wrong with our natural accent? I could barely understand a word of what the flight attendant was saying, I couldnt tell if she was talking with her nose pinched tight or if she was suffering from constipation, but the final effect was hilarious.

The PH airport looks like something out of an 80's movie set in Brazil, definitely not classy, lol. The bland look of the airport was quickly forgotten when I saw Coco approaching...You know that feeling when your heart skips a beat, and everything around you grinds to a halt, when it feels like you are floating in a dream and the only thing you can see is the beautiful woman walking towards you in slow motion...Chai! I've run out of words to paint how beautiful Coco is, a few people gaped, scoped and stared as she made her way towards the arrival area, her eyes scanning the crowd for a familiar face, oblivious to her own beauty...We finally locked eyes, a warm smile lit up her face, my heart flipped over a few times in excitement and when she walked into my arms, I knew I was finally home...

To be continued...

NB: To all my blog readers, abeg no vex, just like D'Banj said, "love is a beautiful thing", listen to P-Square's "Asamkpokoto" and you'll understand that when a man is ready to trek to Sokoto or PH to see a woman, then she is priceless! Meanwhile, when I was hugging Coco, you need to have seen the looks of envy some guys were passing my way (I feel their pain sha, if I was in their shoes I would have felt the same way), while some other people had this "abeg, comot for road jare" look on their face (awon haters, lol). I'll talk about the "hidden anger/bad belle/frustration" shown by some Nigerians in a future blog

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Untitled Reflections


Hola world! Tis been ages since I scribbled a few words, alot has happened since I blogged. In no particular order, I'll run through the random list of 'interesting' things that took place since I last wrote:

I finally moved outta Brick City to Parsippany. Twas time to move, dunno how to explain it but you get to a point where you just realize that you have to turn a new page. Parsippany feels fresh, the location is exquisite and I'll be discovering the neighborhood in the next few days. Furnishing/decorating the house was an interesting and wallet breaking experience, I think I could make a living as an abstract interior decorator. Big shout out to Coco who came up with half of the ideas, just couldn't seem to make up my mind, she always had the final word.

I finally watched one presidential debate and laughed my head off (LMHO) as Razaq Amabo went in on that dude Romney, horses and bayonets style. I kinda felt bad for poor Mitt, people just don't like him, how do you fight that?

There was a final party hosted @ mi casa in Perez, twas epic. The bartender was tipsy, so I had to substitute as part host and bartender, DJ Yoossouph was on fire and the party rocked so hard till the cops came knocking. I got $60 in tips as a bartender (not bad but someone hijacked the money, my tequilla and sweetened lime juice combo was wicked), Team HQ represented in full force and there was a whole pitcher of customed brewed flavor a.k.a. "The Awesomeness" courtesy of HQ's own Swag King. The po-po eventually shut the party down and people refused to leave, lol, epic night.

Hurricane Sandy came and wrecked havoc on Jersey. Yours sincerely survived it (thanks for all the prayers and to everyone who called/sent messages). The worst of the storm for me was losing power for 24 hours while stuck @ the old crib in Newark. Unfortunately we didnt have candles or battery powered torchlights, we had iPhone and iPad powered torch apps which eventually ran out of power. I queued for gas for 4 hours and at a point in time I actually thought I was back in Lagos of 2000. Flooding, no power, long gas queues, frustrated people, all that was missing in order to complete the picture was Gala vendors sprinting on the road.

Razaq Amabo won the US election, I didnt bother following the results this time around, unlike in 2008 when I was delirious with joy. I guess I wasn't buying into the hype of change much more or maybe it was because I was in Quebec trying to explain in my best possible french to the waiter "Je n'ai pas Canadien dollars ici, tres desole!". Anyway, I pray for Mr President, the world needs a stable American economy for progress everywhere else. I kinda feel sad sha, because Mr Romney promised that green cards and passports would be shared at Shoprite and Pathmark if he won (don't quote me o, na wetin dem talk).

I bought the James Clavell asian book collection (yipee). I've read 3 of the books before, many years ago but I just wanted to have it. I rediscovered Asa's music, been jamming it here in Quebec, part of the french spirit. This winter looks like it's going to be wicked, freezing cold here in Canada (status quo).

My birthday is roughly 6 weeks away, I'll be turning 29. Maybe I should start drawing up my wishlist: Olivia Bubble, BMW 7 series, A Sony PlayStation 3, iHome Speakers, a return ticket to Paradise, Iya Ronke rice, Champions League trophy for Arsenal and 20gallons of gas (if the queues persist till December!). That's my wishlist for now, don't judge me, I'm a dreamer.

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. No good thing ever dies...
"Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Satires & Dreams: The Debate (Part 1)


The moderator cleared his throat noisily, adjusted his bow-time, patted down his well-kept afro and repositioned his geeky spectacles perched on the tip of his nose. "My swagga dey too gbaski", he hummed to himself. Noticing that the studio felt rather 'quiet', he looked up and mumbled, "Emmm...Are we on air". The frantic gestures of the camera man snapped him back to reality, he switched on his Denzel Washington mega watt smile, replacing the smirk he had on his face while switching to his polished Channel O accent...

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show and thanks for tuning into this year's presidential debate. Let me remind you that this is the final chapter in our debate series, previously we had gathered all the opposition party leaders to debate and you our faithful viewers picked the winner to challenge our beloved President. We move at the speed of light so without any hesitation allow me to introduce our first contestant..."

Moderator flashes another Denzel smile, shuffles a few papers on his table and reads off the accomplishments rapidly...

"The leader of the opposition party is a fire-brigade, well-spoken, Havard educated young man with a vision to restore the economy of our country to the standard our colonialists envisioned. He is the last man standing from the previous debates and I can tell that he is fired up and roaring to go. Please welcome Mr Razaq Amabo..."

Cameras pan to an immaculately dressed young man in a 2 piece double breasted black suit, he flashed a smile and waved as he assumed his place at the podium.

" And finally, the man we have been waiting for, the one and only, most learned, most respected, ever vigilant, ever active, ever progressive, most loving President in the world. He doesn't need any introduction, he has walked into our hearts navigating from a boy born with no shoes to a man in Louis V, please join me as we stand and welcome our leader, President Joe-Swagga Lucky..."

Cameras pan to the President as he walks on stage, flanked by 4 mean looking samurai-type bodyguards. The President is dressed in a dark colored french suit and as he walks majestically to the podium, the moderator prostrates flat on the ground in greeting, smiling and mumbling "good evening sir" repeatedly. Razaq Amabo looks at the spectacle before him in mild bewilderment and disgust and shakes his head.

After the commotion had died down, the moderator now back to his normal charming self, launches into the rules of the debate. The opposition party leader must answer each question first, he says and then the President follows up with his answer. Razaq objected at the unfairness of the rules since it favored the President, but he was hushed by one of the samurai bodyguards who glared at him. President Joe-Swagga was relaxed all through, beaming smiles at the camera, "go on my boy", he said to the moderator.

Then the debate started:
Question 1: How do you propose to fix the economy

Razaq Amabo: Let me be clear, we'll start by trimming the federal expenditure and cutting down the budget and expenses going down the drain in supporting our bloated government officials. We have to tackle this issue from the root, we can't create jobs if the people in charge are not transparent, I plan to ...

Moderator interrupts Razaq in mid-speech, smiling while yelling "time up"

Razaq Amabo: But I have'nt spent a minute, I'm still trying to answer the question.

Moderator: Your time is up sir, please give our President chance to address the issues you raised.

Razaq Amabo: Mr Moderator, I have a feeling that your actions are biased, I don't...

Moderator cuts in angrily...

"Abeg no dey insult me, na you dey pay my salary?"

Turning to the cameras again, he smiled and announced:
"Now, let's hear from our beloved leader".

President Joe-Swagga clears his throat, glances around, almost as if he was unsure of his surroundings, "eh, what was the question again?" he queried.

Moderator: How do you propose to take care of your people sir?

President Joe-Swagga: Simple, everything Mr Razaq said. Plus, I just spoke to the President of Apple, Mr Steve Jobs and my people have been working on a new patent with him, we are going to create 1 million jobs when we release our new technology in this country.

One of the bodyguards walks over to the President and whispers for a few seconds in his ears...

President Joe-Swagga: I've just been informed that Steve passed away. May his soul rest in peace. I hereby declare tomorrow as public holiday in his honor.

Moderator: So what is this new technology, Mr President

President Joe-Swagga: Well, we are going to release the BBi-Phone 7, a new iPhone with BBM pin so you can ping your friends as you vote. My government will be giving out a new BBi-Phone7 to our 'loyal' supporters at the polling booth on election day...

Moderator (looking at the screen in excitement): What! Oseeeeeee!!! People, you know who to vote for! Swagga for life!

Razaq Amabo (angrily): This is preposterous!

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Be Your Man...

He stood nervously beneath the shade of the large udara tree, fidgeting and twirling a twig in his hands absent-mindedly. Around the base of the tree, you could make out the matrix of footprints in the ground, tell-tale of his frequent pacing as he rehearsed his love notes. Up above, the skies were clear and the clouds resplendent in white and shades of tainted light blue, while the birds chirped merrily oblivious to the rapid heartbeat of the love-struck young man beneath them. The cool breeze was soothing against his skin, almost whispering soft encouragement to him, but he barely noticed it, his mind was far away, floating on stormy tides as he sought to gather his composure...

The previous night he had stayed up by the warm glow of the lantern, crafting the words together. And he had felt so composed and confident as he poured his heart out on paper, his feelings and love magically transformed into ink as the words he wrote painted the inner beatings of his heart. Then it had seemed like a very good idea and the excitement had kept him up, his spirits floating joyously like Cupid. He had carefully brought out his best clothes; a pair of khaki shorts and a china-white shirt that he saved only for special occasions...

His arms still hurt from the energy he expended in ironing the shirt, the gators stood out so sharply on the shirt, for a moment he wondered if it would cut her skin when they hugged. "Chineke, what was I thinking?" he muttered in panic as he tried to feel the edge of the shirt. Too late for that, he thought to himself, she would be here in a few minutes. He still remembered the first time he saw her by the stream, it was many years ago but the memory still caused his heart to skip a few beats. He had been so tongue-tied by her beauty that all he could manage was a grunt which passed for a hello...

His mind drifted into daydreams, a wistful smile on his face. He was an interesting sight to behold, a young man with his hands in his pockets beneath a large tree in the middle of the clearing, his bicycle resting against the base of the tree, with a bunch of flowers tied to the bicycle. In his mind all he could see was the mischiveous sparkle in her eyes when she smiled,  the fullness of her lips, the v-cleft where her graceful neck met her collar bones, the bronze chocolate lustre of her skin, the smooth and fluid curves of her body...just then he was snapped out of his reverie by the bleating of a goat. He jerked himself out of his daydream, alarmed that he had lost track of time. He noticed the goat looking at him with a funny expression as it chewed on something, he picked up a stone and flung it near the goat to drive it away, 'can't let a goat spoil this romantic setting', he thought to himself.

A few minutes later he could hear her footsteps approaching, he could always tell because she had an elegant way of walking pretty fast, almost like an angel floating on land. He took a deep breath, braced himself and got on one knee, his heartbeat was as loud as the towncrier's gong on Nkwo market day. He wanted her to see him on his knees with the flowers in his hands as she came into view. That was how he read that men were supposed to propose in the English books, so even though they were in the village, he was determined to be romantic. He reached for the flowers he had tied to the bicycle and discovered they were gone, panic shot up his mind like the sour taste of the udara fruit above his head. "I kept it right here", he screamed in his mind, the sweat had begun to break out on his forehead, she was almost there.

He had written his proposal on a note he attached to the flowers and he had planned to read it to her so she could understand how much he loved her, now the flowers and the note was gone. He looked around in despair and got on one knee neverthless, his thots in disarray, trying to figure out what happened to the flowers, and struggling to recall the words he had written in the note. Just then she walked into view, stunningly beautiful in the bright afternoon sunshine, a warm smile lighting up her face and radiating around her. He could feel his heart melt with love, though he didn't know how to express it into words. As he waited on one knee for her to approach, his mind searched in frustration for the words he had written on the note...then he remembered the goat...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Unchained...Day #1: Fall

Alright had to break the silence, been awhile since I blogged. I have a thousand and one things to blog about but for some reason I can't remember any. Dunno if I should blog frequently, maybe daily. Anyway, since I can't make up my mind, I'll throw it open to my blog members and visitors. For the next 15 days,you can decide what I'll write or blog about next. Just pick a topic or ask me any question and I'll close my eyes and paint. To make it a lil interesting, the next subject/topic will be decided by the first person to comment on the blog or whoever picks a topic first :) Let's see if I have any followers out there, lol.

Today, I was reminded that the Fall season is just around the corner, so I'm scribbling a lil piece on "Fall". My mind tends to drift so don't ask me what the 'poem' is about. The subject is "Fall"... a lil bit complex to decipher.

Summer is fading away, fall beckons...
U can almost feel the leaves whispering in trees...
Swayed by the gentle caress of the wind...
Soon the trees will be bare, stripped naked of its leaves...
Like crumpled sheets ripped off in the throes of passion...

Ominous dark clouds forming like budding teardrops...
Goosebumps on naked skin...
Hunched shoulders braced against the whip of the wind...
Tongue sliding absent-mindedly over lips...
Bikini beach bodies fading like a trick by Houdini?..

Sun still sky-high, yelling "do you see me?"...
Blanket, duvet, feels cozy, "do you feel me?"...
Chilly, a shot of tequilla, bottoms up, fire blazing...
Lazy, I'm not crazy, don't call me baby, I'm sorry...
Crash! Man down...Fall

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Single Couples

Ever since my folks and my sister left, I've been returning home to a big empty house. One of the things I miss is coming back home to a warm meal, lol. It got me thinking yesterday. There's a common belief that most bachelors 'suffer' because they have to eat out or survive on indomie, dunno where that idea came from. And a common debate/argument still goes on about whether a guy would marry a girl who doesnt know how to cook. Now I personally don't believe cooking skills should be one of the criteria for marriage, but considering the modern generation we are in, my reasons for thinking so have changed.

I'm an excellent cook and I can handle myself as efficiently as any woman in the kitchen, my mum made sure of that. Still I discover that when I get back home after a long day of busting my ass at work, I just want to sit down, relax and eat something good. Now there are 2 options, either I microwave some food I cooked earlier and stored in the freezer, or roll up my sleeves and start cooking dinner. On very very rare occassions, I might be too tired and just order food instead. Now, here's the funny thing, mi casa plays host to a whole crowd of regular 'visitors'. So sometimes when I return from work, tired and hungry, I have to step into the kitchen to cook dinner while a few 'visitors' lounge on my couch gisting, playing games and stylishly waiting for 'dinner' to appear. To be very sincere, it can drive me nuts! Not that I need much help in the kitchen, but the least I expect is a little 'moral support', a lil company while I'm in the kitchen.

Coming back to the debate of whether a woman or a man should cook or not, I do think there are a few extra factors to consider. If both the man and the woman have full time jobs, there has to be alot of patience and understanding. In my opinion, whoever gets home first should get dinner ready. There has been a paradigm shift over the years. Before men worked to take care of their families, while women ran the home and supported their husbands. That was the way we were 'traditionally' raised in Nigeria, women did most of the cooking and ran the home while the men took care of almost all the bills. But things changed gradually, people blame it on the birth of a new generation of 'career women' but I don't think that men were 'career oriented' in the past either. Most men worked for the sole purpose of taking care of their families, careers barely had much to do with it.

What I think happened is that as time passed by, the dependency of women on men waned, women wanted to be more independent (which is a very good thing in my opinion), and that hunger for independence led to more women pursuing careers. Now the men who had initially been in 'control' for so long were facing 'competition' at work, so their emphasis shifted from just providing for their families to preserving their 'alpha dog status'. Men AND women became more career oriented and the family harmony paid a little price for it. The key question is this, is it wrong to pursue your career? I think part of the problem with that question is that it is ALWAYS directed towards women. There seems to be an accepted idea that men ought to pursue their careers while women should sacrifice theirs for the family. It is a pretty complex debate and there are no clear cut answers.

My opinion is pretty straightforward, let's not sacrifice love and family harmony on the altar of our careers and ambitions. Can it be done? Yes, with careful communication, love and understanding. It doesn't matter if your mother always cooked for your father, that was 28 years ago, Barrack Obama wasn't president then. To round up my unprofessional rant, I came up with a few ideas:

For men

1. If you get home before your wife/fiancee/girlfriend, it doesn't hurt to prepare dinner. If you can't cook, you can always order something for you AND her. The common mistake most men make is that when it comes to food, they think only about themselves, but they expect women to remember them in their plans.

2. Be patient and understanding. Remember that she works as hard as you do and will probably get home as tired as you are. So don't grumble over the 'food choices' she offers you. A freshly prepared dinner is a luxury/bonus, not a right. If dinner consists of microwaved leftovers, dig in and relish the taste and do the dishes, it's a simple way of saying a quiet 'thank you'.

For women (I can't really advise women since I'm a guy, but I'll try)

1. If you can't cook, you should learn (lol). It doesn't hurt to be a good cook. Trust me, you can control a man with good food, he'll never come home late. So think of it as a 'bargaining chip', lol.
2. You must plan ahead of time, the kids will arrive someday and you'll be faced with extra responsibility. Get used to the 'habit' of taking care of someone, start practising with your man. Believe me, if you think men are demanding, wait till you have kids!

In general, communication is key. A couple ought to sit down and plan how they'll run the home "TOGETHER". Sacrifices will have to be made by both parties, the sooner you sit down and work out a plan, the better for everyone.

I'll go ahead and whip up dinner tonight, as for my 'visitors', the closest they'll get to tasting any of this would be in their dreams, lol. Go get hitched or be happy single.

Let me know your thoughts, opinions and ideas and feel free to share. I bet I said something out of line somewhere, so correct me if you have a different opinion.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Higgs Boson and the passage of time

This week, we were greeted with the 'exciting' news that scientists and nerdy gurus may have finally uncovered the Higgs Boson. For most normal folk who probably stopped paying any attention to science after high school, the Higgs Boson is the famously named "God Particle". It is supposed to shed more light on our existence and provide answers to critical questions such as: "Was Morpheus really telling Neo the truth in The Matrix?", "Is Nicki Minaj's body real?", "Does Kanye West really dig Kim Kardashian or are they just screwing with our heads?". The truth is, finding the Higgs Boson may be the best thing ever to happen to mankind, on the other hand, considering the amount of money and research that has gone into discovering just one minute particle, it better be worth the effort! If you are interested in knowing more, you can google it. :)

There was an incident that transpired a few days ago that shook my trust in people, I still haven't gotten over it. It has basically altered the way I look at life. There was a barbecue at my crib to mark the Fourth of July celebrations, wasn't a big event, just a few close friends. I was a spectator most of the time because I was too tired to take part in any of the planning. At the end of the day, after all the eating and drinking, one of my 'guests' ( I refuse to think of the person as a friend) took my iPhone(I don't want to use the word 'stole') . Of course everyone has denied taking the phone, but we don't need a scientist or Higgs Boson to realize that the phone didn't just grow legs and walk away (a la Craig David). The smooth operator not only removed the SIM card, but also reset the phone so I couldn't even track it. I've learnt 2 valuable lessons from the incident:
1) ALWAYS lock your phone.
2) NEVER trust people blindly, trust must be earned.

Coco has warned me before about trusting people blindly but I always argued that you have to give people a chance, I'm a changed man now.

Still hunting for a new apartment, but I've narrowed down my choices. Brick City is definitely out of the options. I think I'm taking my talents to the Parsippany axis this fall (cue...drumroll and applause). My 2 little angels are heading back to Naija in a few days, still haven't figured out how I'll switch back to being a single fella. I've made so many transitions in the past few months that sometimes I wake up not remembering if I'm hispanic or white. Time flies you know, tis one of those little tricks of life, the passage of time right before your eyes. You slowly fall into the rhythm of breathing and working, sleeping...while life slowly sweeps by like a day you look in the mirror and you can't remember when the dream ended and reality began, or when summer merged into fall...while you struggle to remember, time keeps rolling by...

Live your life...Forget the past...Just live your life...

As for Higgs Boson, I don't care about how we came to be, I'm more curious about what the future holds for us ...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Daydreamin': Summer in Pidgin...

Like play like play, summer don show. Na dat time of the year when e dey be like say hell-fire don near earth small. I go lie if I tell you say the heat no dey worry pesin. As in, just as day don break today, I bin waka outside to chop small breeze, na im the sun just tear me slap with heat. The matter don critical reach the level wey cause Colorado to almost burn reach ground. This na the same Colorado wia people no dey buy fridge because the weather dey cooperate like AC. Anyway, for the east coast, people don dey ginger small small. All man don dey enter gym to grow 6-pack! So tey, dem don dey form queue for gym like say na club dem wan enter. Anyway, wetin i tell dem be say , Guinness, Heineken, Budweiser, all na 6-pack.

One thing wey dey trip me about summer sha be say u no need to dey wear jacket to enter club. No be like all those winter days, when boiz go dey wear trench coat on top agbada because say the cold dey enter bone. And na during winter u dey sabi who dem born for this side and who bin download their yankee accent from MTV. Because when u don stand queue for front of club so tey your brain cells don run go your toes, "Sean" and "Rookie" go begin answer the real name wey dem mama give them: "Oluwaseun" and "Rukevwe". Wetin dey provoke me pass be say when u don finally stand queue for like 30mins dey wait to enter the club, after u don finally make am inside, bouncer go tell u "I'm sorry sir but you have to check in your jacket at Coat Check". You too go dey happy like celebrity, dey think say american people dey very hospitable. When u reach the coat check, the pesin wey dey dia go smile give u, collect your coat, the next thing u go hear be "That would be $5 sir". As in? Abeg I no want again, give me my coat, I go tie am like bandana. $5 to rent iron hanger for 4 hours? Na witchcraft?

Anyway people sha like to dey pull stunts during summer, so as a confirmed stuntsman, free me to hint you small on the tactics wey u fit see:

1. Na during summer people dey remember to visit you. Dem no wan pay utility bill, so as afternoon don dey reach, when the heat dey do pesin like say Newark near Maidugiri, boiz go begin enter your house because dem know say your AC no dey ever off. And dem go dey dia chill till night don reach.

2. Everybody go dey find free barbecue party to crash. Unto say even if na birthday barbecue u dey do for your 2 year old pikin, na so so adult go full everywhere. People no dey play with free meat and cold beer o. If you wan counter this move, wetin you suppose serve for your barbecue na pounded yam and hot egusi soup, arrange small 7up put for corner. Na only seasoned veteran wey get liver go fit tackle that combo.

3. Beach go dey full like crusade ground from morning reach night. You go see where pesin wey black pass sin go tell you: "ummm, I'm going to the beach to get a sun-tan". Sun-tan ? At least you for talk say u dey go play with san-san or catch little mermaid. Sun-tan ko, Moon-light ni.

4. People go dey waka for road like say dem dey audition for Jersey shore. Beach no dey the city o, but na so so pant and singlet u go dey see for road. Na during that kain time accident dey increase. And the accident no be for highway o, na for regular street road, because na so one chick go just dey catwalk for corner, 3 people go just run red light wia dem dey scope.

I no go lie u sha, the summer dey make sense small but e dey quick deflate your wallet. But as im time don reach, make we just bone enjoy am. If people wey dey Lagos dey throw summer party for naija for this period even though na rainy season, wetin u wan tell press?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Legacy of Fatherhood

My family is close-knit, dad and mum, 2 boys and 2 girls. People always commend on the symmetry, but for me, there's a little downside to symmetry. Lemme explain, Wiggy is the first child (girl), Ragfella is the second child and first son, Raekhi is the last child (baby of the house). Yeah, you get the picture, your's sincerely is the 3rd child (dunno if there's a title for my position, last son perhaps, lol). Anyway, my folks love us all equally, we all have our individual unique traits and I love my siblings to death, can't ask for a better family.

Growing up, Wiggy was like a second mother to me. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't a mama's boy (lol) but I stuck to my elder sis like glue. She basically did all the household chores (yeah, the rest of us were lazy).Then when she had to go to boarding house for secondary school, I kinda followed in her footsteps and became the "go-to-guy" for household chores. I worshipped the ground she walked on, so after she left, I did all the things I saw her do: helping out in the kitchen with cooking, cleaning, scrubbing and also going to market, habits that have remained with me over the years.

Ragfella on the other hand was my protector and rock. My elder brother was a quiet kid when we were young and we had a connection that was pretty deep and unspoken. We were both asthmatic as kids and we shared the same room, so we shared our crisis moments together. Plus he was tall and gangly as a kid, while I was pretty short! So Ragfella would always stick up for me in a fight and protect me, yeah, I was pretty much the sissy scared kid while he was the tough enforcer. Remember when you were a kid and your folks asked you to "strike a pose" for the camera? Well, Ragfella could work the camera like magic, while on the other hand I was a complete disaster in front of the camera, I still am. He was my 'model'.

Raekhi was the baby of the house and everyone always fussed over her. Now, remember I used to be the last kid till she showed up (lol), so in the early years there was a little 'tension' between us. It didn't help that she was so adorable, so you couldn't help gushing over her. Well, everyone was butter in her little hands, except for me. I was tough as nails with her (lol), and drove her hard for a few reasons. One reason was that I didn't want her to be spoilt, my folks were pretty strict and all of a sudden they had gone soft as the years went by, the mantle of discipline rested with me. The second reason was that she looked up to me, so I certainly wasn't going to let my protege be substandard. I was pretty smart as a kid, so I set very high standards for her. The third reason was that I loved her to death and wanted the best for her.

My mum was a loving 'terror' when we were kids, lol. She could strike fear in to you with just a look, silent reprimand! It was almost as if I could hear her voice in my head telling me to behave, and her eyes were like "Emeka, m metu gi aka (emeka, if I handle you)..." I remember one particular incident in primary school when I couldnt get my tenses right. I was a logical thinking boy, so when I discovered 'mathematically' that the plural of a word could be derived by adding an 's' to the end of the singular version, I considered myself a genius. At first, my theory never failed and I aced all the english exams: boy/boys, girl/girls, father/fathers, goat/goats...I always finished my exams in record time and my teacher would beam smiles and congratulate me.

Well, it was all peaches and cream till we got to the funny words like: man, woman, policeman...Then I started flunking, my teacher couldn't understand why I insisted on writing mans/womans/policemans. It was a scandal, the math prodigy couldn't solve simple 'singular and plural'. It was serious enough to warrant my mother's intervention. So she told me, "Bia, when you see the suffix '-an', the plural is '-en'..." So I added a new formula to my logical tricks during the next English test, I was confident! When the results came out, I was shocked! I was so sure I had everything all figured out after combining my 2 mathematical theories for plural words. In the test I had written: man/mens, woman/womens, policeman/policemens...The next intervention was the final one..."Emeka, m metu gi aka"...that was all it took!

My dad was firm and stern and gentle at the same time. He hardly ever spanked us, momsi was the designated flogger. My popsi rarely raised his voice in anger, when he did, it almost felt as if it was a loud boom from heaven. It always began with ..."MY FRIEND, what is wrong with you..." Now, don't get it wrong, 'my friend' is way different from "MY FRIEND", if you know what I mean. My dad is an accountant, so he was very detailed. I remember when he was teaching me how to drive, he would be like..."Emeka, that is a red light, so stop..." I would be like, "Jeez, of course I can see it! I'm not that stupid" my head though, I would never voice that out, lol.My father loved us all and he never failed to show it. Over the years, as I grew older and became a man, my father always confided in me.

Today is father's day. I'm not a father yet but since the birth of my 2 nieces my life has transformed. I carried Kyla as an infant and watched her grow into a beautiful little girl. I've changed her diapers, bathed her (she calls it 'wonder-time', which means "water-time" in baby language), fed her, taught her how to dance and spent numerous hours discussing life with her while she smiles and responds in the beautiful incomprehensible garble of baby speech. That doesn't qualify me to be a father, but every time I carry her in my arms and feel her little arms around my neck, I imagine myself in my father's arms many many years ago.

I learnt from my father that you have to be hardworking to succeed in life. I also learnt from him never to refuse someone help when it is within your capacity to help. I've learnt to be generous and genuinely concerned about others. To love without asking for anything in return, and to put others first. To be content with the little I have, to dream and aspire for greatness and to be practical and understanding of others. To all fathers and fathers-to-be, today is your day. Leave a legacy worth celebrating, be the change the world yearns for...

Happy father's day!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Teardrops & Raindrops

"Hometown Glory"...Adele

Dunno why, but it is easy to drift off into daydreams while listening to music. I personally recommend songs by Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Norah Jones, Sara McClachan and Adele if you feel up to taking a mind trip, the melodies are soothing enough to permit your brain-cells idle away while your heart pumps at a pace sedate enough to permit your life beat at a lazy summer pace...

I'm an uncle again, Robyn was born on May 31st. Looking back, it feels surreal that a week has gone by since then. I still recall the smell of burning rubber as I sped down the NJ Turnpike with my sister in labor at the back seat. Tis funny how calm I felt, except for muttering and cursing (in words that would make a sailor blush) when we ran into traffic 60 miles away from the hospital, I bypassed that hiccup multiple times by driving on the shoulder and the sidewalk whenever I could. It kinda felt like an excerpt from the movie 'Speed', with Keanu Reeves telling Sandra Bullock that she had to keep the car running at 60mph at all costs. In my case, it was more like 100mph, and Sandra Bullock happened to be in advanced labor, so I didn't need any push. Pedal to metal, as for the cops, "catch me if you can" but this baby aint coming into the world in the back of a car!

Sometimes I'm more convinced that life is a dream. A few days ago just after the rain stopped, I noticed 2 rainbows in the sky. I remember thinking as a kid that the rain was as a result of the clouds shedding tears, then later I used to joke that it was probably the angels in heaven doing their laundry. Have you ever tasted raindrops? Little pearls of water dissolving on your tongue with no after taste, merging so quickly into your taste buds that your brain can't decipher if it was sweet, bitter or bland. Teardrops taste differently...

In the final seconds, when she realized that they were going to crash, a strange calm came over. Around her, she could hear the screams of panic and fear, a few seconds earlier she had been screaming too like everyone, calling on God as loudly as she could. Then she heard Him whisper to her softly, "It is time my child, I love you". The screams dried up, her eyes were wide open but surprisingly she couldn't see anyone or hear anything. Then the pictures floated by, her 1st birthday, her first day at school, her graduation from college, her friends, beautiful memories, the warm smile of her parents and siblings, her fiance...she realized she wasn't going to hold him again...she closed her eyes and a teardrop slowly ran down her face...she smiled, took a deep breath and walked into the light...

For those who've lost people, life sometimes grinds to a halt. Sometimes it never restarts for them. For the rest of us, we mourn for awhile and the sands of time turns the sharp pain into a dull ache till the memories starts to fade. We let go of the pain but the memories live on. Eventually we get swept away by the tides of our own lives that the memories of the past float by us like clouds, always hovering but barely noticed...Till a song, a smile, or a raindrop causes us to pause and look up...then we notice the rainbow in the sky. We smile sadly as the teardrops run down our faces merging with the raindrops, consoled by the knowledge that there is a life after death...

"Gone Baby Gone"...Asa

Thursday, May 3, 2012

PaCoLiSo...Chapter 6

The fire proved to be a turning point in the lives of Samurai and Shimon. It certainly changed their perception of their neighbors, and suddenly the muted greetings and half-hearted nods were replaced by bright smiles and loud "hellos". It was as if the 'ice' of Paco had been melted by the fiery heat of the blaze. Looney Tunes wasn't part of the happy crowd however, he glared furiously at the 2 bespectacled lads each time they walked past his office, wondering how they ended up being his tenants in the first place. For the rest of the Pacoliso residents, a new life was springing, more students were moving into the estate and you could almost feel the energy brewing in the air as boundaries were torn down.

Aphrodyte and Chiddy-bang lived in Block 2. Their room directly faced the main gate. Aphrodyte would later turn out to be the consensus 'queen' of Paco. She was petite in size, curved like an African goddess, and commanded alot of respect. While she was reserved, Chiddy-bang was the opposite. Chiddy-bang was fierce and outspoken and was bold enough to trade words with Looney T. The 2 roommates combined were a fearsome combination. Lounging infront of Block 2 was not a very advisable move, simply because Looney T had a full view of Block 2 while driving in. You could never predict what his next move would be, but it certainly wasn't out of nature for him to do something crazy.

Block 2 was also home to Pink Panther and her sister Octavia. I'll reserve the description for the beautiful sisters for another chapter, they have quite a role to play in one of the most interesting episodes of Pacoliso.

The neatly trimmed lawns of Pacoliso were quite deceptive. Considering that most of the tenants were female, very beautiful women to be precise, it wasn't surprising that 70% of Pacoliso visitors were male. That statistic however changed when the visitors realized that Looney T wasn't normal. Looney T insisted that a "visitor sign-in" book be kept at the gate, Oga Sam was entrusted with the task of ensuring that all visitors sign in prior to entering the gate. The whole idea was the most ridiculous thing since Kanu Nwankwo claimed he was 17 at the 1993 Youth World Cup. True to fashion, no visitor ever agreed to sign in, Oga Sam would melt and beam smiles once you greeted him and he never remembered to enforce the rule. So whenever Looney T drove in to the estate and caught a glimpse of a visitor, he would check to see if the visitor registry had been signed, and then drama would unfold.

Now, you must remember that Looney T was always impeccably dressed and the visitors had no clue that he wasn't normal. He would approach the 'visitor' with a smile on his face, the only clues to his ailment was the crazed glint in his eyes. In most cases, the visitor would be a young man who had made the trip on an 'okada' or trekked all the way from Owhipa or "Back of Chemical" in an attempt to woo a Pacoliso damsel. Having never experienced the beauty of madness in action, the 'visitor' would watch calmly as Looney T approached, without any anxiety.

Looney T (in a calm voice): Young man, who are you ?
Visitor (in a respectful tone): Good afternoon sir, my name is Osas.
Looney T (still in a calm voice): What are you doing here ? Who did you come to see?
Visitor (in a bemused voice, thinking to himself:"Whish kain query be this na?"): I came to see...
Looney T (screaming, with his eyes bulging): Get out!!! Get out!!!
Visitor a.k.a. Osas (reeling with shock at the force of the aggression): Oga calm down, I just came to visit...
Looney T (almost convulsing with rage): Oga Sam! Oga Sam! where are you? What is this idiot doing in my compound? My friend will you get out of here!
Looney T then starts pushing "visitor" out of the estate.
Oga Sam runs to the scene of the drama and wrings his hands in despair and confusion.
Pacoliso residents peep out of their windows and doors, who needs a cinema when you have a live theatre troupe at home?
Visitor a.k.a. Osas (visibly annoyed, his English starts to falter): Oga no dey push me jor, which kain embarrasment be this?
At this point, the Pacoliso damsel whom Osas had come to visit catches wind of the drama going on at the gate, and rushes to her visitor's defense.

The ensuing drama rounds up with alot of name-calling and ego stroking. Looney T threatens fire and brimstone on the tenant and her visitor, Oga Sam tries to pacify him, while the visitor (depending on his bravery and boldness) threatens to rain down missiles from Ikeja Cantonment on Looney T...eventually the dust settles.

The overall resulting effect was that as gist of Looney T's insanity gradually spread around Choba, the legend of Pacoliso grew. Picture a castle filled with beautiful women, guarded by a smiling grandpa (Oga Sam) and a crazy guard (Looney). Only the bold suitors would try making the trip to Pacoliso, and they made their moves in the evening or at night, when Looney T would have retired for the day. As for the faint hearted, they quivered with fear at the thought of visiting Pacoliso. But just the thought of catching a glimpse of all those pretty women in one estate was enough to make the visitors risk it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

PaCoLiSo...Chapter 5

One of the quick ways to avoid trouble in a Naija University was to join a fellowship on campus. It was either you chose the good guys or the bad guys came looking for you. For Samurai, it had been one curveball after another, he had narrowly avoided being trapped by the famed cultists in his freshman year. It was a bit surreal to him because he never viewed himself as a prospective candidate for Mafia life, it wasn't as if Scarface or any of the characters in the Godfather wore spectacles. But he had the physique of someone who worked out, so the glasses were a little distracting.

Anyway, he sought refuge in the numerous fellowships on campus as an escape route. The churches/fellowships were in abundance, it almost felt as if they were competing for the lost misguided souls of students. Samurai had attended a few where the prayer sessions were almost as violent as the Biafran war. Devil slaying, fire-breathing, tongue-speaking students who were determined to relocate the devil from hell to a worse place.

Sometimes he stood while the prayers were rained down around him, being a conservative Anglican, he struggled to understand the ferocity of the prayers. Surely these prayers would kill the devil, ressurect him and kill him again, he thought to himself, such was the intensity. What got under his skin was the tag "Brother Samurai". It irritated him deeply and he hated being called "Brother", he had only 1 brother, Ragfella, and Ragfella never called him "Brother", so he felt that the constant declaration of brotherhood and sisterhood was a bit unsettling. He finally settled on a popular fellowship on campus, a bit flamboyant, Shimon commented, but Samurai didnt care much, after all Shimon didn't attend any fellowship. It just wouldn't feel right if Shimon went to fellowship, he had this aura of a diplomat, and surely Shimon would laugh at the ferocity of the prayers.

Life in Paco had slowed down to a rhythm for Samurai and Shimon, they still didnt speak to most of their neighbors, but the good thing was that Cubana had moved out. To replace him, Looney Tunes had rented out the room to a new dude who was simply from another planet. Let me introduce you to the new neighbors:

La Sugar had a striking resemblance to Taye Diggs, a feat that never escaped his attention. He wasn't just in love with his looks, he was in love with everything about himself! He had a good heart though he saw himself as the best thing in life since sliced bread. He sang like a bird in the morning, had a polished accent that was a hybrid between British, American and Onitsha. Shimon hounded him all the time because he loved the good life while Samurai found him entertaining and funny because he simply couldn't figure out if La Sugar was normal or delusioned.

Nelo and Soso were 2 beautiful ladies who lived in the room next to Samurai and Shimon. They were simply wonderful and Samurai thought the world of them. Nelo or Soso would cook and offer some to the bespectacled young men who looked like twins. Nelo was vibrant and a true live-wire, she loved to dance and there was always a twinkle in her eye. Soso on the other hand was more reserved but could light up a room with her smile. In the evenings, they would sit outside and trade gist with Samurai and Shimon about Pacoliso history.

On a particular Friday morning, Samurai returned to Pacoliso, after spending a night somewhere else. He met Shimon in the room, luckily NEPA was in a good mood, so within a few minutes they had turned on music and started planning what their options for breakfast was. The final decision was Bread and tea, possibly with sardine or some other big boy accessory (they had graduated from Akara and bread). Samurai put on water to boil with their electric kettle and for some odd reason they both decided to go out and buy bread.

It was still early, 8 or 9ish, and the weather was pretty nice, the day couldn't have started any better. It was a 5 minute walk to where the bread sellers displayed their wares, they got there and for an inexplicable reason spent almost 10-15 minutes trying to figure out what type of bread to buy. Finally they settled on a choice, stopped to buy sardine at a nearby store and walked home, gisting happily, and planning the rest of the day. Just as they got back to the main gate to Pacoliso, they ran into a friend of theirs, Ichiro.

 Ichiro was as funny and crazy as Chris Rock, he could induce labor in a pregnant woman by just telling jokes. He also happened to be in the same class as Samurai and Shimon and was a regular visitor to Pacoliso.

"Ol boi how you dey? This one wey you dey sneak comot from Paco this early morning, you sure say you never get belle?" Samurai said to Ichiro, while Shimon laughed.

"Make una two dey there laugh while una house dey burn", Ichiro replied. For some reason, this sounded so hilarious that Samurai and Shimon laughed even harder.

 "Oya no worry, continue to dey laugh, the house go soon burn reach ground finish", Ichiro said. This time Samurai's laughter started reducing, because he noticed Ichiro wasnt smiling.

"My friend, no dey talk nonsense" Shimon said, his laughter had started fading too.

"Nonsense abi? Remain there na, when you laugh finish, you go sleep for floor today", Ichiro repeated again.

This time, Samurai could feel a knot building up in his stomach, the cold hands of fear and uncertainty. He brushed pass Ichiro and stepped pass the gate, the first thing he saw made him realize that something was wrong. Oga Sam was standing at the security post by the gate, his hands on his head, shaking his head like he was in a Nollywood movie. "Oga Sam, wetin happen?" Shimon asked him. Oga Sam just kept shaking his head, his eyes sad and distant like Yoda in Star wars. Shimon knew the worst had happened, Ichiro wasnt lying, he sank to his knees, the bread and sardine falling in a pile beside him.

Samurai started running towards their house, his heart beating harder with each step. As he made it round the bend, their room came into view...he couldnt feel his legs move anymore...The sight that greeted him was like a scene from Hotel Rwanda. A crowd stood outside their room, all the Pacoliso ladies, some clad in wrappers, most still in pyjamas, carrying buckets, their property was scattered on the lawn just outside their room, smoke tendrils were still coming out of the room, he could smell the thick smell from where he was.

As he approached, they all turned and looked at him, sadness and concern etched on their faces, he stopped in his tracks, as if that would make everything vanish. Time froze for a second or two, Samurai stood about a few yards from his room, his eyes surveying the chaos, looking at the faces of the beautiful young women and men who had saved his and Shimon's property from the burning room, he was speechless...Everyone stood watching him, not knowing what to say...Nelo and Soso walked out from the crowd and held his hand...

Friday, March 23, 2012


Feb 26, 2012,
Trayvon Martin (17), a Florida high school student was shot and killed by George Zimmerman (28), a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain (a.k.a. vigilante) in Orlando, Fla. Zimmerman maintains he acted in self-defense, Trayvon had no weapon on him, only a pack of Skittles and bottle of iced tea...

Stories like this make me queasy and uncomfortable simply because another young life has been lost and soon the underlying issues will be marred by racial debates and passionate arguments. In the first place, Zimmerman shouldn't have been carrying a weapon. I don't know of any law that permits vigilantes/neighborhood watch personnel to carry weapons. That in itself is another can of worms I don't want to open, the issue of gun-control legislation in the US of A.

Secondly, Zimmerman followed and approached Trayvon, not the other way around. How do you approach someone and then claim self-defense? Conventional wisdom dictates that if you spot a 'suspicious' person, you call for support. Note that Zimmerman called 911 before confronting Trayvon, and he was advised to back down, an instruction he completely ignored. In my opinion, justice should be served on Zimmerman. The police officers who arrived later at the scene 'forgot' to administer a drug or alcohol test on Zimmerman, despite the fact that he had just killed an unarmed man in combat, they simply believed his story.

I don't want to label Trayvon's death as racial profiling, but the truth of the matter is that our society in general (and when I say society, I mean ALL of us) is guilty of racial profiling. Blacks profile whites, whites profile blacks, africans profile african-americans, african-americans profile hispanics, the list is endless. Intricately woven within the fabric that we call 'human society' lies the bane of our existence: We are not united enough to accept our cultural differences/ways of life and we are not divided enough to come to the point where we decide that we don't like each other. So we embrace ourselves in the dark with daggers held behind our backs and delude ourselves with a facade of normalcy.

Like someone commented, if Zimmerman had seen a white teenager wearing a hoodie, he wouldn't have thought that 'he was up to no good'. Now, don't label him a racist, think about this. If Zimmerman was black, I believe that he still would have thought that Trayvon 'was up to no good' because he was 'creeping around' at night. Zimmerman's skin is not the factor here, permit me to borrow the words of Deuce Greenfield (read it on T.Kasali's facebook page)

"George Zimmerman says a lot about where we are as a society today, because believe me, he is not the only the person who believes that the black genetic code makes us predisposed to commit crimes. And plenty of the people who do are 'alleged' non-racists with black friends"

I completely agree with the statement except for the last part. I believe that if we take a poll of people who have this misconception about crime and being black, you'll find that a decent percentage would be black. Answer this question and be truthful, if you see a black man in a hoodie walking towards you on an empty street at night, what would be the first thought on your mind? Now switch up the image a little bit and replace the black man with a white man in a hoodie...then a hispanic man in a hoodie...still the same reaction?

George Zimmerman is a reflection of our society. He should pay for his crime, no questions. But it's time for us to wake up and agree as a society that we have to fight negative stereotypes. Else if we continue at this pace, when next we embrace ourselves, the room will be brightly lit and the daggers won't be hidden...hara-kiri

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ides of March...44 B.C.

Julius Caesar was bigger than life, legendary while he was alive and still an unforgotten memory even in death. The Ides of March (not the movie) commemorates the day of his assasination, many many years ago. Legend has it that Caesar was warned about his impending death by a seer, but as expected, he shrugged it off...He never expected it. Fastforward a few thousand years and try to recreate the scenario...Seers and 'prophets' have been replaced by Military intelligence and sophisticated espionage, just the idea that a leader "could" be killed is enough to trigger panic mode. In some parts of the world, rumors of treason alone would spell death for the opposition, #daysofabacha...Anyway Caesar was betrayed his own people, I guess the last straw for him was seeing Brutus amongst his killers...
"his heart bled, not from the sharp sting of the blade, but torn apart by the darkness of betrayal..."

The weather has been stunning lately, somedays I glance outside the window, and I am surprised to see the sun blushing in the sky, almost ashamed to be caught exposing its radiance in the clouds before the nudity of summer. The apprehension never leaves me though, I close my eyes and expect snow drops to betray the arrogance of the beautiful weather, but it never happens...So my tentative thots are emboldened each passing day, like Caesar, I stride out of my house clad in summer clothes, casting no glances at the weather forecast, surely the sun's embrace awaits me each day, for the winter that never was will not return to betray us all...

One more thing, I watched "For Colored Girls" last night for the first time, safely cocooned in the dark embrace of my couch, emotions sinking with each word and teardrop on the screen. The movie was deep, and wasn't meant for men. Not all men are without souls, the message was true but there are still a few good folks out there. A woman's pain is deeper than words can paint, a man is not capable of such emotional depth..."You can't love somebody with that much hurt in them" One truth I've learnt in life is that the only person responsible for your happiness is U, don't depend on anyone else to be happy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Love letters

“The most dramatic feature of electronic communication is surely its propensity to tempt us into dashing off a message in haste that we repent at leisure. As the emails ping into our inbox we answer them helter-skelter, breathlessly, without pausing to reflect on nuance or tone. As a consequence, misunderstandings often arise…”

“Today's electronic forms of communication may lack that emotional depth but they do enable us to connect more speedily and efficiently than I at least could manage with pen and ink. Still, when we take advantage of them, we ought always to heed (Virginia) Woolf's warning, never to write carelessly. And, if we can, at least count to 10, and read over what we have written, before we press "send"…

Lisa Jardine (BBC magazine)

I came across this article during my morning ritual of navigating the BBC website. I’ve always often wondered which is more dangerous; spoken words or unspoken words. The danger with spoken words is easily identifiable, it is almost impossible to take them back once the chords of the letters slip off the tongue and fly free. The split mini second or so it takes to travel and resonate the eardrums of the recipient is inadequate for the human brain to stop and process the impact of the words, before considering whether to reel it back in or not. The effect is almost intriguing to watch…

Alima’s lips formed into the words “I love you”…time moved in slow motion as the words rolled off her lips. It was easy to see the letters as they floated in the brisk winter breeze, almost teasing in flight, like the carefree motion of a drunk butterfly in summer, slowly the words found its way to Dmitriy’s ears and settled, letter by letter, till his eardrums tingled with the sensation, his eyes slowly lit up as his brain broke down the meaning of the words…He held her in his arms as their lips met…

It doesnt always work out like described above, beautiful words may get you peaches and cream, on the other hand, a reckless word can elicit a completely different reaction: tears, a slap, raised voices, maybe a headbutt, lol. Unspoken words are in a different league entirely, even more dangerous than spoken words. Some call it the silent treatment; others refer to it as zero-communication. Whichever name you give it; unspoken words often serve as the trigger to a reckless spoken word or a major misunderstanding. In the absence of words, people tend to read meaning into every action; it is natural, unless you belong to the IDGAF clique. How then do you strike a reasonable balance between talking too much and not talking at all? Emails, SMS and BBMs are like rapid fire bullets, coming at you like a swarm of excited bees.

Since the advent of electronic communication (Blackberrys being the chief culprit), our lives have been transformed from the normal sedate pace to a NASCAR speedtrack. It is so easy to hold multiple simultaneous convos with different people, your brain-cells multitasking and trying to align your words to suit the intended recipient.

Just after you send “I love you” to Cassie, you send “You suck” to Jerome, and then “LMAO” to Yvonne and then “U dey mad?” to Okon and “What are you wearing?” to Cynthia. Cassie replies with a “love you too”, Jerome with “your papa!”, Yvonne with a BBM smiley, Okon doesn’t reply and Cynthia replies with “I don’t understand”…Okon replies about 2 minutes later with “Bros, I’m straight”, then you realize that somehow you switched Okon and Cynthia’s messages. U try to call Cynthia but she won’t pick your call…the saga continues.

The art of letter writing has been lost, words have become empty, emotions replaced by emoticons, and love has become efficient and cold. Whatever happened to the love letters of the 90s?

Dear Nkem,

How are you? It has been months since I last saw you and I keep dreaming about you all the time. My friends say that you must have cast a spell on me, my response to them is that my heart belongs to you, so no spells are necessary. It is very cold here, the oyibo people say that this year’s winter is mild, I find that hard to believe. Each night, I curl up like a little boy under my blanket and slowly drift off to sleep, it almost feels as if I can reach out and touch you in my dreams. Your body scent still lingers in my mind and I can still taste your lips and feel the smooth curves of your body. Waking up in the morning is always hard for me but I have to work so I can take care of you. I remember you said that you don’t want us to live in the village; even though I’ve told you numerous times that I wouldn’t mind farming to take care of you.

I hope Kachi is taking good care of you. I will write her also to thank her. Make sure you eat well, you have to feed ‘our’ body. I’ve been checking up the price of goats and cows as I told you, the prices are not so cheap but I’ll keep working hard to raise the money. Don’t worry about the village umu nna, when the time is right I will speak to them, even if they demand 10 cows, we’ll always find a way.
I have to go now. It is getting rather late here. It has been long since I wrote by candle light, but they never take light here so I decided to turn off the lights and pretend that I’m still home.

Till I see you again…Kachifo!

Your loving boyfriend,

NB: It may take a month for this letter to get to you, even though my words may be delayed or lost in transit, I’ll always love you.

How about that for old school writing? Let me know your thoughts! My recurrent new year resolution is to talk less, it never seems to work. I've been told to stop trying it :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pacoliso....Chapter 4..."Aluta...b4 Paco"

The term Aluta Continua really didnt hold much meaning to a 200-level Engineering Student. Life revolved around attending classes, praying for good grades and hoping that the dreaded spectre of an ASUU strike never reared its head again. The last strike was brutal, it lasted 6 months and had even the most hard-core atheists praying for divine intervention. For Samurai, the strike had been spent poring over books, making promises to God in exchange for an end to the strike and daydreaming about life outside the shores of 9ja. So when the strike was eventually called off, his joy knew no bounds. He never imagined in his wildest dreams that he would miss the chaos of Aminu Kano Hall or the useless banter the hall residents exchanged to pass time.

Life progressed smoothly till one faithful day, when the stubborn horns of "Aluta" popped up. The day started off just like any regular day, waking up to cries of "Akara and bread" as child-hawkers announced their wares down the corridors, a mix of different soundtracks ranging from Celine Dion to Backstreet Boiz to gospel music...The Aminu Kano Hall Block C residents portrayed a mix of the good, bad and the downright ridiculous. Around noon, word quickly spread around campus that there was a student demonstration/uprising. No one could say with certainty what the problem was, but for some odd reason, the Student Union Government (SUG) was protesting some random issue. In the spirit of Aluta, the SUG president had gingered students to march to the VC's lodge to protest. Before you could whistle a tune, the students had gathered infront of the VC's lodge carrying a casket and proceeded to burn an effigy infront of his abode.

In typical dictatorship fashion, the VC ordered that the school be shut down and directed that ALL students vacate the hostel before the break of dawn the next day. As expected, the Aluta singers vanished faster than a unicorn on the streets of Rumuola, one second you could hear their voices, the next all you could see was smoke tendrils. Anyway, the residents of Aminu Kano Hall laughed at the VC's directive. "Vacate to where"?, they asked, AKH was home! Moreover there was a soccer game between Nigeria and Brazil that evening. People swore to resist and stay till the rapture took place if necessary, no threat of police brutality was going to intimidate them.

As the rays of the sun fizzled out, Samurai noticed that a few residents had started to slink out of the Halls like vampires before sunrise. But the mood in the hostel was still party-like. There were numerous open pots of food with their owners hovering around with concentration and puzzled/ecstatic looks on their faces depending on the taste of their concotion. By nightfall, the student population had reduced by 50%. Being an out-of-state student, Samurai didn't have any other alternatives apart from Aminu Kano Hall. He had a cousin living in Woji, but he didnt see any reason why he had to leave, school was still rocking afterall. That night, the disappointed residents watched Brazil wallop Nigeria by 3 goals, whilst some argued about what went wrong, others turned up their CD players and blasted music...till the last stars in the sky faded. They laughed at the VC's threat, nothing had happened since the eviction decree, "professional noisemaker" they labelled him in derision...whilst dancing to Afrobeat tunes

The next morning Samurai woke up to news that Armed Soldiers were camped right at the school gate. At first he didnt believe it till he walked outside his room and noticed that "JJ Chopinson" was holding court in front of Wing E. J-J was animated in his description...
"Nna men, the MOPOL (mobile police) just full everywhere. Dem carry gun and dem no dey smile at all"

"But we go show dem pepper today, dem no fit try any nonsense!"

"Greatest Nigerian Students, dem no fit comot us from we house, dem go hear am today"

Samurai wasn't too convinced. While the residens tempers and anger boiled at the audacity of the soldiers, Samurai quickly packed a small bag. There were talks about joining forces with the residents of the other halls: Kwame Nkrumah Hall extension, Nelson Mandela Mall and the Medical Hostel hall, to protest the presence of the soldiers. While the Aluta warlords were still marshalling out their strategy, the stampede of running feet could be heard building up. Samurai couldn't recall how things transpired next, the first soldier came bursting through the gates of Aminu Kano, wielding a horse whip, and all hell broke loose...The nimble footed took off with speed that would have surprised Usain Bolt, some in boxer shorts, others fully dressed, the wall was vaulted with ease like it was the Olympics... It was madness! Residents running with pots of soup and stew... A few rooms away, a resident tried to shield his pot of food from the whips of a soldier, he looked ready to die in defense of his food, finally he succumbed to the fury of the whip and fled. Within 30minutes, the resistance had been broken, the residents gathered in small groups to lick their wounds and plot their next move. Every uprising needs a hero, the aluta warlords had long fled, JJ Chopinson was no where to be found.

Walking along the streets of Choba with his few valued possessions in his small carry-on bag, Samurai realized that his life in Aminu Kano was ticking to an end. He ran into Shimon on the road with a group of other friends, they had escaped from Kwame Nkrumah Hall before the soldiers arrived, the plans to move off-campus were laid during that period...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Pirates of West Africa: Liquid Gold

It is almost impossible to refrain from commenting on the current chaos going on in Nigeria, though I have observed that most people are clueless about the facts. The beautiful thing about being Nigerian is that everyone is an expert on all matters ranging from national security to economic issues, so in the midst of all the arguments, no one really listens to any one, the end result is chaos. Let me paint a little picture about the science of oil, this is for the non-engineers and non-scientific people out there who have no clue what the facts are, but believe deep down in their hearts that something is wrong...You are right, something is wrong and it has been wrong for years. I have to admit that I'm neither a Petroleum Engineer nor an expert on oil related issues, I'm simply an average minded person, a common man.

Crude oil is liquid gold, pure and simple. I bet you didnt visualize that as a starting line. I'll try to keep the science as simple as possible. Crude Oil is extracted from the ground (just like gold, duh!)and then refined and seperated. The key end products are Petrol(gas/gasoline as my Yankee people would call it), diesel kerosene, jet fuel and a few other components (let us stick to the energy sources). Just as Gold comes in carats, Crude Oil also comes in different grades (levelz dey!). The 'lighter' and 'sweeter' the oil is, the better. The logic is simple, Light Crude Oil has low density (higher petrol yield), while Sweet Crude Oil has very little sulphur (cleaner, and less harmful impact on the environment during processing, requires less refining). On the other end of the spectrum, you have heavy oil, and sour oil (opposite to light and sweet), you get the logic right? Itz like comparing Packet Fufu Powder sold at Makola (Iyan Ado) to raw cassava sticks harvested from my village. Both end up as pounded yam on my plate, but the raw cassava sticks require serious gyming before it can be transformed to food.

The top 3 oil producing countries are the Saudis, the Russians and the Americans (surprised right?), China is no 5. Oil producing used in the context of the quantity of crude oil that is extracted from their reserves. Naija is ranked about 12th or 15th, not so sure, but our position fluctuates depending on whether MEND is on vacation or not. In terms of Exporting Crude Oil, the top 3 are the Saudis, Russia, Iran...Naija is between 6th and 8th (fluctuates as usual), USA aint on the list (they barely export nada baby!, u'll soon see why). In terms of Import, the top consumers guessed it, USA, followed by China and Japan. USA consumes roughly 20% of the world's oil. Here's what you don't know, Naija's oil is mostly 'light and sweet' and we are the LARGEST producers of 'sweet' oil in OPEC, and remember that Saudi Arabi is a member of OPEC. We are sweeter than the Saudis! yummy! The USA is the largest importer of Naija crude oil,#fact.

Now I didnt study economics in school, but my dad is an accountant and I am Igbo (lol), even though people say I am too generous (maybe I'm just a radical). The price of 'gas' (forgive me, but saying petrol is tiring, lol) is dependent on a few factors, the key ones being the price of crude oil, the cost of refining, distribution and transportation costs and taxes. The geographical location of the oil reserves are key, if you have to import your crude oil from far then it costs more to transport, crude oil prices fluctuate with every Boko Haram attack or middle-east tension, the cost of refining rises with the grade of oil imported. The US of A utilizes about 75% of the refined crude for fuel (transportation), about 2% for electricity production (shocked right?) and the rest for industrial purposes (pharmeceuticals, plastics et al). Outside the US of A, especially in the oil producing countries (Naija), it is almost a 50-50 split between using the refined crude for transportation and burning the crude for electricity. Why? Because for some odd reason, we don't explore any other alternative means for electricity generation. Hydro (ah, rainy season has ended, water don finish for dam), Nuclear (ah, we can't even handle bombs), Solar (haba, let's not even go there), biomass, biofuels (duh, what is that?)

Currently the most abused word of 2012. You don't need to google it to understand it, from a business perspective, it simply means any form of 'assistance' provided to a biz, normally by the Govt, to prevent its decline either as a result of low profit or to prevent a spike in the price of its products. You see, Naija produces crude oil, then exports it, (making alot of money) then we import it back (because we don't have functional refineries, don't ask me why). So when crude oil prices go up because of Mutallab, we make more money, then the rising cost of crude oil increases the price of refining and importing the refined crude, so we spend more. Since oil is our birthright (as some of my folks in the South normally say, lol), we the masses shouldnt pay much for it. How can a farmer go to a supermarket to buy fufu powder? Taboo! So our weak Government, seeing that the only thing the commonm man can benefit from our stupendous wealth is cheap gas, do all that they can to ensure that the gas prices remain fixed despite all the fluctuation in crude prices. So they 'subsidize' it by paying the marketers and importers, thus transferring our wealth to the marketers and importers. Heard that it cost $8 billion last year, the government bears the cost of it all. Now the subsidy keeps the people content, but it incurs large economic costs. You see, I don't recall where it states in our yearly budget that we set aside $8 billion for subsidy last year. The other funny thing is that the marketers are also people in government. Then also millions of barrels of oil are being smuggled out of the country daily, by who...maybe Pirates of the Carribean, Jack Sparrow where are you?!

Why do we import fuel? Because we don't have refineries. Why don't we have functional refineries. Why ? I really don't know the answer to that. Okay, so if we can burn crude oil to generate electricity, why don't we have light? (power). I don't know, maybe we didnt burn the crude oil in the first place to generate the electricity. So what happened to the crude oil then ? Maybe it was smuggled illegally. By who? Ask Johnny Depp!

My 2 cents
Now that you have a clearer picture (I hope, lol), join the fray! What is the way forward, what should we do? You can't sit down and say it aint your business, when M.I., Ice Prince and all the other Nigerian musicians quit singing club hits and start farming in order to make a living, you wouldnt have any beats to groove to, lol #justkidding! Our MCs have M.Scs(Naeto C) and PhDs (Levelz) nowadays!

The subsidy ought to be removed, it should have been removed years ago. But then our refineries should have been working to full capacity since the 90s. Numerous contracts have been awarded to fix the refineries, yet no results. So if the refineries don't work, then the subsidy should stay in place...till the refineries work, then we would not have to import anymore. Our Government just transferred the burden of years of gross mismanagement and sheer incompetency to the masses to bear. I hear China wants to build refineries in Nigeria, I wonder what the Americans have to say about that...#justsaying