One Sense Less Existence

The morning the news broke that a new mother gouged out her new-born’s eyes the country was agog with it. The story could not be missed; it was on TV, in the papers, radio, online, on lips… Everyone everywhere was talking about it, each reacting in his own way; women in the market lifted shoulders and snapped fingers in open condemnation of the act, men at their businesses folded their arms and shook their heads, you see women, they can be very dangerous! Continue reading

Change Begins With Not Just Me

Long before President Muhammadu Buhari started the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign Oluwadara was already living this mantra.

She saw her children as her responsibility to society; the people who through their actions will create a ripple effect that will transform the larger society into what she always hoped it would be.

She was not going to undermine the magnitude of this responsibility so she chose to start early, teaching her children lessons most people complained were too advanced for ones so tender.

When she noticed the first signs of sibling rivalry she used it to mold her son into what she wished every man in the world would be – a gentleman. Continue reading

Dead Men Who Make Demands

Hello Guys,

Here is a new story I wrote for The Musty Corner. It was edited and published by them first, but I decided to publish it here also because i do not want to deny you wonderful people the chance to read this story which i enjoyed writing so much.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much.


A few months ago Priye thought she was the luckiest woman alive. The state of utmost contentment she was in made her not to want anything else or aspire to a greater situation. She felt fulfilled, happy, satisfied – quite complacent if you like, but she was comfortable with that. Everything was good.

In the present moment only the presence of Santan gives her anything close to joy, one that is pathetic when compared to her previous state.

Clingy, selfish, demanding Santan. Priye was not unaware of the look of irritation bestowed on Santan when people thought she wasn’t looking. If she was another’s offspring, not hers, Priye would have felt and acted the same way, but there’s something about the love a mother has for her child. It does not diminish, not even if the child were born with horns and a tail. Only a mother will understand this feeling. Continue reading

The Smell of Fear

Fear has a smell. The realization that you’ve lived with it for the bulk of your existence dawns gradually. The familiarity of it. It’s like an old friend you do not like but have to stick with because no one else will be with you.

It was there, hovering just around your nostrils, one of those nights when you had been locked out of the house, again, and you witnessed a murder in your notorious neighborhood. You plastered your body against the wall of your fence, as if to merge with it and prayed not to be seen. Continue reading

Letter to my President

Dear President Buhari,
I do not know much about politics and though I enjoyed economics as a course in school and even excelled at it, it wasn’t enough to prepare me for real life economics.

On this note, I am hoping you will understand if my words seem ignorant or if I ask any question you consider dumb. I will simply speak from my heart  here.

I do not know how to run a country either, but i know i do not need that to notice what stares me in the face daily – the immense suffering your  people are experiencing. Continue reading

Becoming Narcissus

images (8)
Photo Credit: Google Image

There’s a new disease that has latched on to the minds of most and is taking large bites out of us, all the while blowing soothing air on the resultant sore,  like the rat does, causing us to feel good about it.

This disease began with the need to fight low self esteem and as the battle for our self worth took full swing with words like “Whoever cannot handle you at your worst does not deserve you at your best.” this disease spread faster than Ebola and HIV combined. Continue reading

Preserving the Family Jewel

Humans are not equal, same for body parts. Some body parts we can survive without, but the loss of some we perceive as a loss of one’s identity.

This is why certain parts are treasured enough to be given endearing names. Lots of men name their genitalia. One calls his AK47. Family jewel is a well known title.

Nothing scares a man more than becoming what is commonly called a “Vegetable” or losing the potency of his balls. But it isn’t only the men who dread this disaster, their women dread it almost as much.

Doctor: Madam we are sorry your husband’s accident caused him to lose his memory.

Wife: (Hands on head) Mo gbe! Memory loss ke? But can he walk? Can he still function?

Doctor: Yes.

Wife: Ahh, Ope o. Memory can come back later.

In this part of the world we value a man’s ability to be a stallion. After all we do not want our women to carry placards like the women in that other African country and begin to protest their husband’s inability to be ‘men’ and satisfy them.

That I do not believe a man’s worth is tied to his balls or he is any less of a man if they do not function is not the topic of discourse for now. There are needs and the channel to fulfilling those needs have to be kept in good working condition.

Health professionals have warned that letting the testes get too warm or tight can lead to Erectile Dysfunction. Our men have come to take this warning seriously. Never mind that they have also warned that persistent alcohol use can do same. At least one of the warnings is being heeded.

It becomes a problem though when in public spaces, especially in Lagos buses. Lagos drivers and conductors are experts in maximizing space, so that a space meant for four average sized people will suddenly be expected to fit five people.

“Four lepa, one orobo. Shake body o. No be your papa house you dey.”

What can we do? It is their office and we have to obey, right? You can choose to revolt but only if you have enough money for a taxi or are not afraid to be late.

Unfortunately while some people have only one aim; to get to their destination in time, some have multiple; get to your destination in time but make sure the boys do not get cooked in the process. This is when preserving family jewels becomes a problem.

I am all for keeping safe and healthy that which is important, but there is a line between health consciousness and selfishness. This line is crossed when you pay for one space and while others are yet to get half their behind into a seat you are manspreading. Those who do not take public transport will never understand the injustice of this.

A plea to adjust usually results in varying outcomes; the ‘nice’ ones will wiggle and pretend to adjust without actually moving from their spot and with their legs still splayed, while the other more troublesome types will either ignore you completely or start a confrontation.

I agree jewels are worth protecting at all cost and that includes paying for the next space if you are going to take up more than half of the space paid for by another. Let’s stop this selfish behavior. A woman’s jewel needs air too.

Sitting cross legged looks responsible
Sitting cross legged looks responsible

In related news, above are our counterparts in other countries and how they sit. Some would argue that is why their divorce rate is high, because their women are dissatisfied, but that too is debatable.

PS: in case of any grammar error, biko gbaghara, oyibo biara abia (please forgive, English is foreign to us.)

The States of Island and Mainland

The city I live in is a large one, not just based on square meters but on population and the contrasting lifestyle.

 

I feel it should be made into three different states. Amuwo Odofin, Surulere, Ikeja, Maryland, Ojota, Oshodi… Should be called Mainland state. Lagos Island, Ikoyi, Victoria island, Lekki and VGC should be Island or Atlantic state. Ajah upwards should just be called Cameroon and anywhere from Ojo barracks down towards Badagry, after Iyana Ipaja down to Abule-egba, and areas from ojodu berger and beyond should not even be termed Lagos at all. Let’s just leave them as Ogun state.

 

This way when you live in the Mainland state and are working in the Island state your employers would be more understanding when you come in late.

 

For real, someone living in Aba and working in Port Harcourt will get to work in a shorter period than someone going to work from one part of Lagos to another. This morning I left home before nine A.M. for a twelve P.M. appointment but arrived by one P.M. I practically spend eight hours in traffic daily; four to and four from.

 

Distance aside, the lifestyle between these areas is also greatly different. The energy too. I live in the mainland, in an area where I can claim ‘local champion’. Where I walk down the street and wonder why I am receiving too many appreciative stares. Where I speak pretty normal and they say I sound like one who just returned from overseas. It is easy to feel like a mini celebrity here.

 

I have big dreams, very mighty ones that make people shake their head and call me “Onye ocha nna ya di oji” (a white person with a black father) because blacks like us ought to be more realistic and leave the fairy tales to the whites.

 

Sometimes while riding on the high pedestal I have been unwittingly placed there is a false sense of fulfillment that lulls me into complacency. I feel like I have arrived, then I relax… until I visit the Island.

 

The Island life is the one I always envision for myself, where I live in a neighborhood with clean streets and smooth roads beautified with flowers, where I can jog boldly with my ear piece on and my phone in my pant pocket (the last time I tried bringing out my phone at night in my neighborhood I received a deafening slap and my phone was stolen from me), where there are the kinds of secondary social amenities reserved for the high class; manicured lawns with chairs made of concrete, basketball fields… where rather than discuss NEPA woes with my neighbors we discuss our last trip abroad and how UK visa is now so hard to get.

 

Once on the Island I’m a different person. I cease to be the celebrity with all eyes on her and suddenly have my eyes on everyone and everything. There are so many beautiful people and things to see I get lost just observing. I feel so small here. No one notices me. There are too many things worth noticing to focus on just one.

 

Then the discontent hits painfully, leaving a part of my core feeling empty and lacking, making me wish to achieve something worth being noticed for, reminding me of all I dream to be, exposing me to the numerous achievers this area boasts of and revealing to me all that can be achieved. I usually leave the Island realizing how far I need to go, how much work needs to be done.

 

On the Island I believe I can achieve it all. On the mainland I feel it is not in my hands but up to God who sits above and decides who will be great and who will be a beneficiary of the great ones. Even our church in this area differs in the way they preach.

 

My mainland church teaches us to be content and take consolation in the reward the bible promises the poor, how hard it is for a rich man to enter heaven  and how Our Father in heaven hears the cry of the needy, though I wonder why it is the rich who get their prayers answered faster. The church close to my house, that keeps us awake most nights, bind and cast every spirit holding their destiny. The spirits seem so powerful if they have to be bound every week and still remain free. However the church I attend when on the Island preaches in a way that leans towards motivation and encourages parishioners to dream, achieve, use their talent and in turn give back to God by helping our poor, needy brethren and treating our domestic helps right.

 

Most times I am caught in a web of confusion and contradictions, a kind of tug between my Mainland self and my Island self; between being contented and living for heaven alone or aggressively going after my earthly dreams and being fruitful here on earth.

 

Irrespective of how conflicting my two selves are, ultimately they want the same thing; to have that moment, the type made in Hollywood heaven where I give a world class, skin tingling, heart swelling performance, take a bow and smile breathless into a cheering crowd, crazed and awestruck by my performance. A performance excellent enough for both the Island and Mainland crowd. My personal wow moment.

 

Maybe then the governor of Lagos will grant me audience to discuss my suggestion for Mainland and Island states creation; though I know it will never be considered. The joy will be in knowing he recognizes me.

 

 

P.S: in case of any grammar error, biko gbaghara, oyibo biara abia (please forgive, English is foreign to us.)

Celebrating A Once Troublesome Kid

The plan had been to post this on his next birthday but seeing him returning from work, respectability oozing from his features, I couldn’t help moving this a bit closer. He is looking all gentlemanly and could even pass for one. Sometimes I don’t believe it and expect him to go back to the little rascal he’s always been.

He no be gentle man at all o
He no be gentle man at all o

No child gave my parents as much headache as he did and trust me I do remember too many troubles he caused us, but one that stands out the most happened when he was only eleven years old.

He had been asking some unusual questions like; “So if somebody gets to Upper Iweka they’ve reached to our village ehn?”

My mum being a teacher and a very attentive mother who tried to turn every question into a lesson of some sort answered his questions in-depth and even over answered it without knowing what she was doing to herself. She must have been excited that at least one child was showing interest in his roots.

One rainy day, we were given mangoes to share. If you are from a large family like mine, sharing will become as natural as bathing. In fact, if you were given anything without being asked to share, check your body temperature. It’s likely you are sick and everyone but you has noticed. We shared everything even down to N1 sprint bubble gum and that day I was to share one mango with him.

“Go and bring knife and water let me share this mango.” I told him immediately he returned from school, but he asked me to give him the mango to go wash instead. I waited for long and I saw neither mango nor boy then just slept off. When I woke it was dark already. My parents were back, everyone was home, mango and boy were still missing. We began asking around but couldn’t find my brother.

My parents were already ranting about all they will do to him when he finally returns and my dad was wondering what gave him the audacity to be away that late.

“O ga agwa m ihe kara ya obi.” He kept repeating but as the night grew older and it became obvious that my brother wasn’t coming home, anger was replaced with concern. The police got involved. That night was a long one, everyone couldn’t sleep wondering where he had gone, but I was wondering why he was so greedy not to have given me my half of the mango before leaving. The more I thought about it the more convinced I was that he has cheated me on purpose and I got angrier.

While we worried, Eleven year old Ebube was on his way to Alafia with a bagco supersack containing his clothes and our mango. On getting there he asked for a bus going to Anambra and asked to meet the conductor. Now, he might have been a lot of things but he wouldn’t steal, so it happened that he had no money. He explained to the conductor that he was a house boy being maltreated by his madam and he was returning home to his parents in the village. Just imagine!

Trust Nigerians to take sides with the seemingly downtrodden. They all cursed his wicked madam, took pity on him and gave him free attachment seat and so began his very first night travel. By morning, he was already at Upper Iweka, there he asked for a bus going to Adazi-ani and gave the same sub story. You might be wondering why they were all so gullible. All you have to do is look at his face now, then imagine how much gentler and sympathy evoking he must have looked back then. Let’s just say Nollywood is missing a great actor.

The traveller
The traveller

Getting close to Adazi-ani, he asked them to drop him at the Catholic Church there which they did and even wished him luck for good measures.

Once inside the church, everything became a breeze, he called my grandma’s name, though that was unnecessary. The face had already spoken for itself and they went to fetch my grandma.

Prior to this my grandma had been begging them to bring us kids home for her but mhen, I’m sure she didn’t want it to happen this way.

So many questions and exclamations later they tried to reach us. There were no mobile phones at the time and though I like to call my village ‘small London in town’, getting a landline in my small London couldn’t have been easy.

Meanwhile you can just imagine the state of those of us in Lagos. Mango forgotten, I had joined in praying for him. Some neighbours explained that they saw him leave with a sack. Somehow those from the villa got through to us and told us he was there. While my parents were different degrees of relieved, we the kids were awestruck; we could never pull that off even given enough fare to travel. I didn’t even know any motor park in Lagos and I am four years older than him! He was something of a legend to our small minds.

He was also the first one to ever drive my dad’s car out in his absence. None of us had the courage to even consider it let alone actually do it. I remember how we all stood round him as he got into the car.

Agozie: Hehn, Ebube, are you sure you can drive it?

Me: You better come out from there. I’ll tell daddy.

Dindu: (Wrinkles his nose at him, daring him.) You cannot.

Joshua: I will tell daddy o (all the while smiling, visibly excited in expectation of an adventure and hoping he does it.)

He did it and when my dad returned no one said anything, until he stretched his luck thin by beating Joshua who finally reported him in vengeance.

Let’s just say this guy  has done things; some I remember only in bits, most too long to include in one post. He should just pray that Karma is merciful to him because if his kids do to him half of what he did to my parents… Well, it’s his innocent wife I pity.

This is his birthday week and since all these came to mind i thought it might be a ood idea to wish him a happy one this way.

As for the moral lesson; if your child is troublesome today, worry not, they could be better tomorrow.

 

Much Ado About Home Training

“You were trained. Most Lagos girls will not know how to do that.” A Yoruba man said to me today when i displayed some sort of domestic skill.

Now, a Yoruba man’s standard of what constitutes the behaviour of a well trained child is definitely higher than that of any other tribe in the world. For instance; smile and greet a Yoruba man, lacing the greeting with as much humility and sweetness as you can muster and he will still consider you ill trained all because you did not bend at the knees to show respect. So you can imagine my pride at the compliment. I felt like my wife material had the most yards in the world – enough to sew agbada for the fattest man in the world for his entire life – and the only man whose husband material could ever match mine was Errol Barnett. In fact I was ready to ask the Yoruba man to repeat the compliment while I record it and share with Errol on twitter. Forget Beyonce and Nicki, I was feeling myself!

Then it occurred to me that that particular domestic skill will not be useful to Errol and I mellowed.

Even if you do not keep up with the Kardashian/Jenner girls on TV, bloggers like Linda Ikeji have ensured that we have no choice but to keep up with them one way or the other. Though I boast that my time is too precious to waste it watching KUWTK, I won’t claim to remove my eyes when I see stories about them on blogs. One such post revealed one of the Jenner girls saying she doesn’t know how to wash clothes and has never had to wash anything in all her life. Ehn? But she can knack shop!

Nzuto! Was my first thought and when I scrolled through the comments section everyone there shared my opinion.

Thinking about it now brings to mind my first time cooking soup in Adamawa state where I did my NYSC. It was Egusi soup and after buying my melon, i went around asking for where to grind it. The girls I met in the first stall laughed so hard and regarded me like a lost UFO. I left feeling they probably didn’t understand English. Several stalls later and one person finally answered me.

“Go and grind it by yourself nau.” Then it was my turn to regard her as an alien. Who grinds Egusi without a machine? I left for another stall where the woman told me that she could grind Egusi. Sweet relief! The relief died immediately I saw her bring out mortar and pestle.

” What of your machine?” She returned my Egusi to me and told me to go grind it myself, pointing to her little daughter and saying the girl could grind Egusi. They too laughed me out of their stall.

This continued until I saw an Igbo woman who directed me to the modern market where I could find other Igbo women like me who blend melon with a machine. I felt like I had travelled back in time and for the first time I doubted all the home training I always prided myself in having.

To those northerners I was a spoilt city girl who will definitely mess up in my marriage.

Other than having a white Christmas, being in Adazi-ani  is the next best way to spend Christmas. One holiday while in the villa I went to visit an aunt and found her cooking with firewood. The smoke troubled my eyes so much and my aunt noticed when I tried moving away and asked;

“Ogo, have you learnt to cook with firewood?”

“Ha, aunty! No oh.”

“As you are learning to use gas you should also learn to use firewood because you never know the kind of marriage you will find yourself in and what will be available for you.”

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent taketh it by force. In that instance, in my heart, I was more violent than the fiercest terrorist as I rebuked a firewood husband from my life and claimed an electric cooker one. Ahn ahn, we should be going higher not lower jare.

I’m sure my aunty and the Fulanis must have thought I lack home training just as I thought of the girl who cannot wash clothes.

Unlike Kylie Jenner, I can wash. Like her, I hate washing clothes, so why will I be able to afford a washing machine and choose instead to hand wash a clothe that can be washed by a machine? Is my name afufu? Why will you come to the world and choose suffering over an easy life, especially when the life of suffering isn’t making you better in the areas that matter?

So, no, I do not consider ill trained anyone that does not wash because they have a machine and will always have enough money to afford a machine.

Don’t tell me that in times of suffering they will not cope. Truth is some people’s future is insured such that even their tenth generation will not see suffering. Come to think of it, where has the Masters degree in grinding and washing taken us to? While we are busy washing for hours a rich child will leave his clothes to the washing machine and use that time to do more productive things; like invent another machine. Or why do you think Kim kardashian became a millionaire and an entrepreneur from selling sex tapes while our runz girls are there washing?

Don’t get me wrong, training a child to learn all they can is important, but the truth is that times are changing and what is considered important is changing as well. A time will come when you can survive without pounding and washing skills but will be lost without IT skills. So what’s the big deal about domestic skills anyway?

Home training has gone beyond being able to kneel  and mop floor. Move with the times and get yourself an electric mop and if anyone calls you ‘Spoilt’ call them ‘Sufferhead’ and move on.

What this long post is simply relaying is that proper home training does not equal being domesticated, but is simply inculcating the right values and necessary skills in your child. If the ability to pound is necessary for your situation, then by all means teach them that, but don’t condemn another who never needed that skill hence doesn’t possess it.