A place to rave, a place to rant, to commend and recommend, mostly a place to vent...

Saturday, October 11, 2008


In reference to my last post, please be informed that all characters and incidents are products of the authors imagination and cannot be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living, dead or quarter to dead, is purely coincidental. SSS, NSA, NPF and EFCC , please take note!!!

Going by the comments on my last post, I cannot begin to understand how mischievous people can misconstrue an innocent exercise for my creative writing class into a death wish. I am amazed at how many negative comments were posted about 'our dear leader'. This is a man that is literally placing his life (not to mention his kidneys and lungs) in the pursuit ( ...can one still use 'pursuit' even if the pace is sluggish?) of a strong and vibrant Nigeria. I, for one would never criticise someone who in one year of office, has rejuvenated our epileptic power system ( ...operating at 10% capacity), revamped healthcare ( ...infant mortality at an all time high, primary healthcare unobtainable) and improved our education sector ( ...basic education means learning the alphabet) to compete adequately with the West. And some of you want to use me to insult this fine, charismatic gentleman,( ... Mr no-risk, no-responsibility.) Never! Whatever it is you imagine that you read between the lines is a hallucination of your medulla oblongata. See me, see trouble. I just dey mind my own business, people want co-opt me into 'treasonable activities'. I am a law-abiding citizen and this era of rule of law will prevail despite saboteurs camouflaging as bloggers. I beg, I no dey. In the last month, solely based on these comments, I have had the privilege of sightseeing several Federal Govt tourist attractions like the 'manmade' underground caves at the SSS Headquarters and the newly completed torture chamber at the Police Headquaters, built in the style of the chambers at Auschwitz to commemorate the long standing friendship between Nigeria and the Jewish nation. I was also given the opportunity to test the soundproof solitary confinement cell, where Nigerian ingenuity is showcased with experiments on the several methods of extracting the loudest screams from the human body. I have made the acquaintance of several 'al-mustaphaic' imitations, and one bonafide Sergeant Rogers. EFCC are now asking me to explain the origin of the N62,250 in my Zenith Bank account and the N31,778 in my Guaranty Trust Bank account, with all paperwork completed in triplicate. The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have asked me to produce the receipts to my four pairs of shoes and three bags. My husband is now required to produce his income tax certificate from 1997. Ina zaman zama na, za ku sa a daure ni. Haba, dan Allah, ina da 'ya 'ya biyar, Wallahi, ba na neman rigima... You see, I am so petrified that I am now writing in Hausa...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Four weddings and perhaps a funeral?

My apologies to Chxta and Toks-Boy. I had been to four weddings this summer and I was holding my breath for a funeral. I crossed my fingers, prayed, found a four-leaf clover, burnt N270m in a graveyard at midnight, held a chicken in Okija shrine in my husbands y-fronts, stole a horseshoe, night-vigiled with my ''pastor'' but Allah did not answer my prayer. I had practiced my one teardrop, slowly rolling down my cheek as I exaggerate the void his passing would leave in the Nigerian polity. I imagined hugging and 'air-kissing' she who knows not her limitations, as I console the family. Alas, it was not to be. He really is the cat with nine lives. Our only consolation is that he has used up five. Four more close shaves and we will finally have some 'goodluck'. However, they say, be careful what you wish for. We might substitute one who is slumbering with one who is catatonic. Anyway, sha, it seems I have to destroy the eulogy I had written...Even if I have to say it myself, it was beautifully written. I had traced his slumbering, right from the old city. I compared him to the 'old lion' who was revered and had charisma. I thought of the older 'broda' who at least had a mind of his own and some initiative...I then realised that a boy was sent to do a mans job. What is he? A man or a mouse? A woman or a wouse?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Nairagraphy-The story of a twenty naira note...

Friend, dear friend! Don't turn up your nose at me. I realise I am not much to look at, what with being torn, tattered and so dirty. I repulse even my own self. But what can I do...What could I have done? Sit back, look at me and listen to my story. Look, listen and learn while I tell of my journey from pride to fall. I hope you will then understand.
I was born on the 4th August 2005 at the Minting Maternity of fairly well-to-do middle-aged machinery. I was the pick of my batch; batch 0036890NF. My sheen was unsurpassed, my imprints pronounced and even Murtala Mohammed's moustache seemed just a tad more distinguished on me. I was crisp and ready to take on the world.
It was astonishing the rate at which my confidence deflated once I got out to the real world. Hardest to take was the realisation that the peptalk we were given before being sent out was totally inconsistent with what obtains outside. Contrary to what we were told, we couldn't even walk head up high, side by side other world currencies. Most disappointing was the fact that even you, our fellow compatriots, preferred other currencies to us. That, dear friend, was the unkindest cut of all. But forgive me, I digress.
I began my journey (...to obscurity?) from the Minting vault to the bullion van, to the IntraBank vault, to the cashier's cage to Alhaji Maigoro's briefcase. It was Friday and he was going to do his weekly almsgiving ritual at the mosque. I remember snuggling against Rebecca, a pretty fellow 0036890NFian. We said our hurried goodbyes as I was thrust from Alhaji Maigoro's clean, perfumed hands to those of Maimuna, the leper. She hurriedly stuffed me inside a dirty calf-skin bag hanging at her waist, unceremoniously squeezing me. DARKNESS!! I was there for quite some time, wondering if this was to be my humble abode and praying it wasn't. A few hours later, my 'landlady' took me out, flattened me (...thank God) and passed me, together with three other notes to Ibrahim, the butcher, who promptly re-squeezed me and dumped me in a tin on top of other notes. By this time I had creases, my sheen was losing its shine, Murtala Mohammed's moustache did not look so good any longer and his face had acquired a frown (...I exaggerate of course). I was stuffed with several other notes and I thought to myself, 'hmm, strangers, not quality stock, probably counterfeit'. You see, I was still looking new when compared to the other notes and I was still a snob. Reality soon shook the scales from my eyes. I was in that tin until the end of the day. Then I thought that having survived that airless, smelly deathtrap, I could survive anything. I did not reckon with Iya Ramota.
That night Ibrahim took me and some others to Iya Ramota in exchange for some moulded black stuff. I do have my pride and it hurt that Ibrahim considered that mould a fair exchange rate. Iya Ramota was my worst nightmare. She stored us near the darkest recesses of her person where the dank smell defies adequate description. Mercifully, I passed out.
I came to the next day when I felt light on my face. Sunlight and oxygen never felt so good. I was suddenly (most happily you bet!) transferred from Iya Ramota to Adebayo, the taxi driver, a large impatient man with tribal marks on his cheeks. He crammed me into what was originally an ashtray but now served the dual purpose of both the ashtray and a money-cache. To say this was uncomfortable is an understatement. Before I even had time to come to terms with my discomfort, several others were dumped on top of me. By now I was permanently squeezed into a ball.
Later that day, which was a Saturday, we were all taken out, flattened and transferred to Adebayo's agbada. He took us out and as we got closer to his destination, I heard music and drumming. 'Civilisation at last' I thought. A little while later, I was a HANDKERCHIEF!!! A handkerchief, I ask you, wiping the sweat of Balogun, the juju musician's forehead. I felt like saying,' Pardon me but isn't there a mistake here? I am your national currency. You're supposed to respect me not use me as a tool for personal hygiene'. Soaked in sweat, I was then dumped in a carton with several other notes.
The next day, I was passed to Chudi, the molue conductor by one of Balogun's bandboys. He stuffed me in his pocket with tens of other grimy notes. This time I had no complaints because I was no longer a snob. At least I was dry although creased, dirty and limp. I was in Chudi's pocket a short while then I was passed on to Roli, a student as change accompanied by expletives from the conductor. I wonder why!
Roli treated me much nicer than I had been treated the two days. She thrust me into her school bag together with her books where I spent a very educative night.
Monday morning breaktime at school, I was jolted out of Roli's bag onto the floor. I lay helplessly as I watched her leave without a backward glance. Suddenly I was grabbed by Efere who noticed me on the floor but at the same time, Essien lunged at me but only managed to get a hold of my corner and he tugged hard. I felt myself tear and again thankfully, I passed out.
I woke up to find a clear, sticky plaster holding me together and I was in Efere's pocket together with two marbles who unreservedly banged into me with no consideration for my injuries. I slipped in and out of conciousness until gladly, Efere passed me onto Isa, the Mallam in exchange for some sweets.
Isa flattened me out and laid me gently under the tablecloth. I slept peacefully for most of the day until Isa passed me to Roseline Omaghomi who stopped to buy some chewing gum. Roseline! I will forever think of her with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart. She gently laid me in her wallet. At last! Finally, a wallet. Those rare things that we were told about at the Minting Maternity. It was of the softest leather and smelt of Roseline's perfume. I was facing her ID card which showed she was a banker. That was my nicest experience. It was paradise. If I had died then, I would have died a tattered but [on] a happy note.
The next day, Roseline went to pick up her car from Nwoke, the mechanic. After getting the car, we, (I was now thinking of us as inseparable) were about to leave when Peter, one of Nwoke's boys shouted, 'Madam, you no go give me anything?'. I was heartbroken when to my consternation, I was the 'something' Roseline threw to Peter. Thus ended my brief but wonderful respite with Roseline.
When she threw me, all the boys there dove to get me and in the struggle, I fell into the gutter. Peter fished me out and put me to dry on top of a car. I got dry alright as well as sunburnt. He picked me up later with his greasy hands and stuffed me into his pocket. At home the next morning, he gave me to Bidemi his daughter who was on her way to school. Bidemi decided on her way to buy some groundnuts so I was again passed to Iyabo, the groundnut seller. She immediately tried to give me to you as change, dear friend, and you turned up your nose. So now you know that it is really not my fault I look the way I do. In 6 days of existence, through 14 people, only one person treated me right. How dare you, dear friend, snub me? I ask you, here and now, do you own a wallet?

P/S This piece was inspired by the current CBN campaign against the abuse of the naira.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lagos, their Lagos...

Lagos, is said to be unlike any other town in Nigeria. Eko, the city that never sleeps, home to the brave and the foolhardy, a city that can make you but also breaks you, a city of sharp contrasts and contradictions...Its cosmopolitan allure is irresistable and despite its obvious disadvantages, it still manages to attract the strangest motley of individuals, each trying to eke out a living from the extremes of affluence, dynamism, poverty, unsanitary conditions, human perseverance and a mix of the best and the dregs of human society. This urban jungle has several problems but worth singling out for mention are the diehard problems of accomodation and transportation. Transportation in Lagos is an entirely different ballgame. The most popular means of transport still remain the indefatigable molues and danfos, where the denomination you proffer for your fare determines just how far down your ancestral lineage the conductor is allowed to insult before he grudgingly gives you your change. If you have a N100 note, you thank your God as this just earns you a hiss and a glare that says 'were, oloshi'. With a N200 however, the conductor can rain insults on your good self and your immediate family i.e. your parents and your offspring. The code of ethics of the 'Conductors Association Incorporated' categorically states that he can go no further. If you dare possess a N500 note, this is when you begin to see how the art of insults can be taken to greater heights. This note gives the conductor a little more room to manouver, excercising that civil (civil?) right of freedom of speech. Here the inate poet in us all surfaces as the conductor waxes lyrical, denigrating your grandparents and greatgrandparents. The winner takes all is the N1000 note. First of all, your courage is to be commended if you possess the nerve (also called liver, also called foolhardiness...) to present this note. The deluge that spews forth at the sight of this note is like Hiroshima, the eruption of Mount Etna and the bombing of Baghdad rolled into one. There is really no limit to how far (or how far back as the case may be) the conductor can go. He is allowed the liberty of cursing your 'Kunta Kinte' up to your 'Alex Haley'. He spares no one remotely connected to you, from the doctor or midwife that delivered you to your greatgrandprents neighbours. Some conductors have even been known to rope in people who live in the same hamlet with your mother's uncle's cousin's niece three times removed. He can go on even after you disembark as the molue or danfo rambles on. However, not being people to waste energy on a victim that is no longer within earshot, the conductor usually switches dissaffections and the tirade resumes at the next hapless fellow which is usually by the next bus stop. By the way, the conductor is allowed to join two or three complete strangers in 'transport matrimony', by giving all three the same note to share out as change. How you do this is no concern of his, as he has done his bit in the quest to achieve unity for the various peoples of this nation. How more can you get to know each other if not by spending time together as you fruitlessly search for change.

As for Lagos landlords, they are a different breed altogether. Sometimes a potential tenant ( AKA victim, AKA mumu...) is asked to pay in advance for an uncompleted building under construction. Anywhere else in Nigeria, your defense system would immediately go on red alert at this unusual request. In Lagos however, due to a chronic accomodation shortage, rationality takes the backseat and you of course pay, immediately promoting yourself from plain fool to a world class moron as later developments would confirm. Desperate as you are, you pay for two or three years depending on how humane (?) the landlord is. He then uses your hardearned money to complete the building and the next thing you know, there are tenants in the house. When you finally find him 'on seat', he gives you the spiel that the cost of building materials had risen so dramatically while he was still constucting it that he would be doing himself, his children and antecedents yet unborn, great harm if he lets out the house on the agreed rate. Getting your money back (...your dignity, never) depends on whether you know any army officer or some one in the underworld. You do not push it. You take your money and chalk it up as experience. Anyway, sha, God dey! A friend said the way crime evolves in Lagos is in direct connection to technology; 419 became 2 419 when Lagos became digital, it is now 080 419 in this wireless age.

Eating out in Lagos is quite the experience. Strategically placed near those large and influential corporate offices on Victoria Island, are several bukkas and 'mama puts' where one needs both hands free in order to eat. One needs a hand to successfully mould and sculp the eba to the appropriate shape and size (good training ground for potential sculpters) before throwing the lump in the mouth. The other hand is needed to swat the multitude of flies, as well as wiping the cascade of sweat that drips down your forehead with the regularity of the appearance of a molue at Oshodi bus stop. Regular customers do not bother with the latter part for I am reliably informed that any sweat that drips onto your plate just seasons the meal to perfection. The most interesting part is the calibre of customers you find eating there. These are mostly professionals working in fully airconditioned and 'generatored' offices, giving out instructions, speaking through their noses with British accents or American twangs acquired from a two week vacation in London in the early nineties. At these street bukkas, all egos are checked at the entrance which is actually the pavement. Bank officers rub shoulders with labourers from the building sites around. Throwing all pretenses and dignity to the winds, people re-adopt their mother-tongue accents and ways of talking as they order eba, iyan, bushmeat, okro, drawsoup and all other such uniquely African foods with reckless abandon. Meet them elsewhere, perhaps at a social gathering and they would insist that they only eat salads and drink bottled water. Lagos, na waa. Then there is Iya Solimat, where you experience the epitome of customer service as it is practised in Lagos. At this popular bukka in Akoka, each serving of food is accompanied, for the slightest infractions, by your money's worth in insults from Iya Solimat's very vituperative and acidic tongue. To give credit where it's due, the food is absolutely delicious, so despite constant resolutions never to go back to be insulted even as they spend their money, her clientele remain loyal.

No discourse on Lagos is complete without a mention of the flooding problem during the rainy season that converts every building to a 'waterfront property' ?(v. convenient for real estate listings...). During my two weeks, the rains, which are usually my favourite season up North, exasperated me to despair because everything stops when it rains in Lagos. The traffic becomes horrendous and tempers are on a short (dare I say, shorter than usual) fuse. So many times, I had to wade through black, muddy waters infested with God Knows what to get to my training on time. In Kano, we say the rains are Allah's blessing but in Lagos, its a curse.

I look at the inherent problems of Lagos and think to myself, I am so lucky, I dont live there. With each passing day, I would count down my return home to Abuja. Lagos is so-o-o expensive. I have nostalgic feelings about Gaya, my village in Kano where N400 buys a 'mudu' of Gari, a bunch of spinach leaves, enough tomatoes, onions and pepper for stew, six oranges or mangoes, two average size fish and one female goat! In Lagos, N400 buys one meatpie, one boli (roasted plantain), one mouth organ (roasted corn) and a bottle of drink. In Gaya, one buys six oranges and probably get two more as 'jara'. In Lagos, nothing goes for free, except the air we breathe. Although clean air is fast becoming a thing of the past considering all the pollution and smog in the city. Lagosians, being the ingenious people they are, will soon start selling clean oxygen in little sealed plastic bags in 'go slows' as they do 'pure water'. 'Undiluted clean oxygen, o mo gan, twenty, twenty naira' (...and it will be worth it).

It was Romain Gary that said humour is an affirmation of dignity and a declaration of man's superiority to all that befalls him. Readers of my blog (...God, that sounds so immodest, like I have delusions of grandeur...) might have notice a certain thread of humour running through the pieces I write. Through my writing, I try to lessen life's pressures both for me and the reader. Well, I hope my piece amused you. To the Lagosians amongst you, think constructive criticism cos actually there is a lot the rest of Naija can learn from you. Your Governor, Fashola, is really doing amazing stuff. He is opening up roads (the one from Onikan to VI), dualising some that are long overdue (Bourdillon, Alexander etc) and beautifying the city (Cloverleaf Park) to name a few. The BRT idea is progressive and a first in Nigeria. So what you hear unsaid in my words is actually envy. O.K. thats it, go back to work...that's why your company pays you. It's over. You have had your break. Come on! Back to the grindstone, or in this age of technological progress, back to the blender!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Home, sweet home...

To paraphrase the words of that old negro spiritual...'Home at last, home at last. Thank God Almighty, I am home at last!!!"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's hard out there for a girl...

For the last five months, I have been job hunting in Abj and it hasn't been easy. Is it me or are the recruiters getting younger, more smug and arrogant. There is a general condescending attitude towards applicants by these upstarts but we have to grin and bear it cos, of course, a beggar cannot be a chooser. I will blog in detail about my experiences. Now, I have good news and bad news... the good news being I got me a job that I think I'm going to like; the bad news is from Monday June 30th, I have to be in Lagos for two weeks training and orientation...aaargh!!! I am getting too old to be 'suffering and smiling'. Anyway, wish me luck. I hope to blow the trainers away with my intellect, charm, efficiency, good looks, comportment etc so that I can rise to the executive cadre in, say 2 years....A girls got to reach for the sky...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My neighbours from hell...

HELP!!! My neighbours are driving me crazy. Every night, I say a prayer to the God of Oil Companies to transfer Mr Oil & Gas (O & G) back to PortHarcourt. Please join me in this prayer. It is for a most important cause; my sanity. Let me start from the beginning. Our family moved from Kano to Abuja in August (although I moved in January). My husband found a nice four bedroom flat in a secluded part of Wuse. The flat was in a block of four (Block A), with another block of four (Block B) in the same compound. Our flat on the second floor is opposite that of a couple which for this piece I will call O & G which incidently are their initials. When I finally joined the family in January, my husband and I went around all eight flats introducing our family and so I met O & G formally. By this time, my nine year old son and their nine year old, Daminabo, were best friends. It did concern me that their two sons (9 & 7 yrs) were in my house every freaking day immediately after school until about 6.30pm. They intrude on us even on Saturdays. I understand the addiction of my kids Nintendo WII video games and other toys in my house but I came to realise that I had in essence become their baby sitter. The kids would come straight to my house IN THEIR SCHOOL UNIFORMS and their housemaid would follow them in with their lunch. I soon put a stop to that. I insisted that they go home, change, eat lunch and do their homework first. Another inkling I had that things might become uncomfortable is when my son said that Tonye the younger son said my whole family will go to hell because we were muslims. He told my son that his mother said so. The couple are staunch members of the 'church of mountain, fire and brimstone' or something of that nature. I did not say anything but filed the incident under 'hmmm?'
About two weeks after that, their second car was involved in a crash and was a total right-off. The driver survived, thank God. Since my childrens school is near their childrens school, we offered our driver to drop off their kids and then mine and at the close of school, pick up my kids then theirs. That was early February. We naively thought that they will quickly make other arrangements. We were still doing school runs for them three months later and not once, did they ever offer to fuel our car or even give our driver a tip. I finally put my foot down when my kids midterm did not coincide with that of her kids and she still expected my driver to ferry her kids. That morning when she realised that my children were not going to school and that my driver was out on an errand, she had the audacity to say to me, 'a'ah I will be late for work if I take them to school now and who will pick them up?'. As Madonna sings (amazing, I am quoting Madonna), 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. I suddenly realised that the line had been drawn in the sand. I calmly told her that it really was not my concern and also told her that they have to make alternative arrangements for their school runs. She looked amazed but left. After work, my husband told me that O, the husband called him to tell him what I said. Imagine, they reported me to my husband! This was a couple who constantly and relentlessly called my husband on the Saturday that I was rushed to the hospital, to complain that they wanted to go out and were still waiting for my husband to pick up my kids from their house ( the first time since I moved to Abuja). My husband left me in the hospital, picked up the kids and took them to another family in Block B.
Now the final straw! They suddenly started hosting noisy night vigils in their home Friday nights. Singing, clapping, spewing in tongues and shouting. I honestly respect everyones right to freedom of religion but I believe with rights come responsibilities. 'Your right to swing your arm stops where my nose starts'. Our parking lot would be filled with about 25 cars, right onto the street. The tenants would not even find spaces to park. The landlord did not allocate parking because there is ample parking spaces. After the second vigil, the three other tenants in Block A agreed that a representation would be made to them to complain. Mrs Adegoke and I volunteered to talk to G but the men insisted on handling it. So the three husbands (Buttri, Indian muslim, Adegoke, Yoruba muslim and my better half, Hausa muslim) went to see them. I only mention the religion and tribe to put what happenned in the proper context. O & G, mostly G, blew up. They accused the three of 'religious persecution' and ganging up to run them out of the flats. They said that even before moving to Abuja, they had been told that all Northerners wanted to destroy Christianity. I wish I has been there to see the priceless look of shock on the faces of Buttri and Adegoke accused of being part of the Northern conspiracy. Adegoke, perhaps if one squints, closes one eye and looks through a blindfold, just might pass, by the skin of his teeth, for a Sokoto man (that is if you disregard his tribal marks) but Buttri, no stretch of the imagination can make him pass. He is the most indian looking Indian I have ever seen. If you look in Websters dictionary, under Indian, you will find Buttri's picture. G then brought up the fact that no one had complained about the Muslim call to prayer that can be heard faintly in the background in the neighbourhood disregarding the fact that (1) it is not on the property in question (2) it comes from somewhere way behind the property (3) if they feel so strongly, the onus is on them to find the mosque and complain accordingly!!!(...they would NOT dare, I'm willing to bet the family farm). Anyway, needless to say, the meeting was not productive at all and the next Friday night, they were even louder and it went on later that usual. The good thing about Abuja, is that there is a noise ordinance and it is usually adhered to. Without telling my husband, I wrote a complaint letter and personally delivered it on Monday to the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency (AEPB). I was extra polite to the Asst. Director and he promised to take it up immediately. On Wednesday, O & G were served with the AEPB equivilent of a cease and desist letter. Their kids still came to our flat to play. On Thursday, we met outside. I said Good Morning, O replied but G glared at me, then ignored me. However, their kids still came to play. And so they did on Friday. Then came Friday night. SILENCE!!! Victory!!! My husband still believes that O & G must have had a change of heart after their conversation. He said 'y'know, people mostly make the right decision after they have had a chance to calm down and think'. I smiled and nodded. I will just let him live in that world while I live in the real 'dog-eat-dog' world of surviving by the flexing of official muscles to get people to do the right thing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My six quirks...

I have been tagged by *nigeriandramaqueen* and *simispeaks*. I was hoping no one would tag me cos I am JJC to this blogging thing but 'nigeriandramaqueen kindly gave me a tutorial (LINKING 101 for dummies) so here goes... Here are the rules:

Link the person who tagged you
Mention the rules in your blog
Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them
Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

1. I count ceiling squares, bathroom tiles, pavement sections, in fact anything that comes in squares and sequence. I read that this is a sympton of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Perhaps I need to see a shrink where (if I was an American) our first session would uncover the fact that my OCD emanates from my childhood where I saw my brother kill a lizard when I was 4 years old or something just as ridiculous...

2. When I fart (yes, everybody does, even yours truly) I sometimes grab at the air behind my butt to smell it. This quirk REALLY is from my childhood when we (my sisters and I) would try to guess the 'fart origin' (eggs, meat, beans, tuwo or rice).

3. I practice crying in front of the mirror. This is because I have a very ugly cry, red eyes, wayward tears, mucus intermingling with the tears and running into wide open mouth...you get the picture. I wish I could cry like I was being directed by a hollywood director (note pls that I said HOLLYWOOD not NOLLYWOOD.

5. I have a terrible memory for names. I can always remember the face but names are my nemesis. I try to link names with another object so that I can remember so whenever I am introduced to someone new, mentally I automatically rhyme the name with something else. I just met my husbands colleague, Ajibike. In my mind, I quickly made a mental note 'Ajibike Fiffike', the second word meaning 'wings' in Hausa. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

6. For breads, cakes and pastries, I prefer when they are slightly burnt. I love to eat the edges of cakes that come out a darker shade of brown and I also love the crust of the bread .Those are my 6 quirky things. I tag Chxta, Wetindey, 36inches, Ijebuman, anonymousgal, and Naapali.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Postscript: The bigger they come, the harder they fall!!!

There is a God afterall. It's a knockout in round one. El Rufai 10, Senators 0. I cannot find words to describe how confident and eloquent El Rufai was in shooting down every accusation. He was precise, concise and factual. He had documents to back up his every decision as Minister and being a lawyer, he made sure his every move was legal. Even the senators were mesmerised. El Rufai took control of 'their' senate right under their noses while they sat slackjawed! I bow in submission and cannot even organise my thoughts enough to write. Luckily, the Thursday Retort column at the back page of Thisday Newspaper (1/5/08) did a most honest and brilliant job, expressing my sentiments exactly. How I wish I could have plagiarised and passed off the article as my own LOL. The panel could not exhaust everything yesterday and requested that El Rufai reappear next week. He so humbly asked them to reconvene tomorrow, Friday, because of his Law Exams in the UK next week. They refused and insisted he reappears next Wednesday. How petty! Anyway, people say that they want the time to regroup and decide what next, since they were obviously showed up in this round. Hausa people say that 'if you are digging a grave to trap someone, make sure you dig deep enough for two. You might just end up inside'. In this instance, the intended victim seems to jump over the grave while the diggers are about to fall in.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The theatre of the absurd...

There are two things that I promised myself would be untouchable by this blog; one is religion and the other is politics. However, I find that I cannot remain silent anymore. I, with much regret, have to break that promise. I need to vent!!! In the spirit of full disclosure, although I don't personally know the former minister Nasir El Rufai and have never met him, my father-in -law was his older brothers classmate in secondary school. Note that since then, in over forty years, my father-in-law has set eyes on neither Ali, the older brother nor Nasir himself. I am however horrified at the public lynching going on in Abuja, under the guise of the Public Hearing of FCT matters. I know that people say he is an arrogant so and so and tries to make up for his small stature by overreaching in his ambitions. He also is said to have a condescending manner about him towards others especially because of his high IQ and his genius which he never fails to exhibit. Not everything he did was above board but in a nation where public officials do not perform, his tenure must be held up as exemplary. The obvious target of the probe had all along been Nasir El Rufai but of course the panel of 'distinguished senators' assured us that they were probing the last three Ministers from about 12 years ago. We believed them because after all 'so are they all, all honourable men'. And so it started, the theatre of the absurd. The senate panel said that their terms of reference are demolitions of illegal structures, revocations of plots, sale of Federal Govt. houses and the sanitisation of the corrupt FCDA management structure, which were all during El Rufai's tenure. DUH!!! Truly a prophet is never recognised in his village. Note that the Chairman of the panel, Senator Sodangi, had butted heads several times with El Rufai during OBJ's tenure. El rufai came in with the mandate to restore the master plan which had been bastardised by successive governments in their selfish interests. Green areas that were earmarked to be parks and recreation areas were allocated to the rich and mighty. They built their mansions and offices. Ordinary folks also took over certain parts of the town and built houses anywhere and without building approvals. The city was fast becoming ' marokoish'. El Rufai took that on without fear or favour. For too long in Nigeria, we have had one law for the rich and another for the poor but El Rufai knocked down structures regardless of where you stood on the social ladder. Senator Sodangi was affected as his Law Chambers, built on Wuse Zone 4 park was knocked down. But we believe him when he says he will be impartial because afterall 'so are they all, all honourable men'. Several illegally allocated plots were also revoked as well as undeveloped plots. On the acknowledgement slip of every allocation letter, there is the clause that the FCDA will revoke any plot that is not developed after two years. Some of the revoked plots had been undeveloped for 15 years. Senator Sodangi's three plots were so revoked but of course he is unbiased because afterall 'so are they all, all honourable men'. El Rufai was mandated to supervise the sale of Fed. Govt houses. Most objective onlookers agree that the process was transparent and fair. For the first time in Nigeria, ordinary civil servants were given the opportunity to buy their houses through mortgages. Now it has come out that the Senators requested for 58 houses but were disappointed because they were offered only 10 flats, which were beneath them and so rejected the offer. However, we should believe that they are not bitter because afterall ' so are they all, all honourable men'. Before El Rufai, there were over 30,000 applications for land in Abuja. It was impossible to get due to the chokehold that a certain cabal had in the affairs of the FCDA. You needed to 'see' them before your application is processed. El Rufai came, decentralised and computerised the system and removed the kingpins, Senator Sodangi's junior brother inclusive. But of course, they are all honourable men and will be totally impartial. El rufai cleared the backlog of applications and allocated an unprecedented 27,000 plots. My aunt had an application in FCDA for 17 years since the time of Gado Nasko. When El Rufai came, he insisted that people recertify their applications. She reluctantly did and was flabbergasted when her name appeared in the papers along with other allotees. She did not have to see anyone and is now a proud owner of land in Kaura. As I said before, he is not without fault and it seemed that in the pursuit of his set objectives, diplomacy and tact are not in his vocabulary. He therefore stepped on so many toes especially toes of people who always had authority deferring to them. He is now accused of so many things but I will withhold my opinion until after his defense. The senators now seem reluctant to have him testify but how can you accuse someone without giving him a chance to respond? All I know is that usually there are two sides to story and we can hardly wait until next week when ElRufai is scheduled to testify.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The measure of a man...

What is the true measure of a man? Is it he who is the strongest, the richest, with the most brawn or braggado? Or is it a man of integrity, of quiet ambition, who knows what he wants and is not threatened by a strong woman. Everyday in the last 13 years, I see the true measure of a man. He is my friend, my lover, my caregiver, the father of my children and my husband. Self-effacing and polite, people mistake his character traits for weakness. He loves literature (like I do), enjoys the game of scrabble (like I do), is a chess addict (which I dont have the mental capacity for), worships football (which I hate), loves classical music (not for me) and loves me, warts and all. Last week, I was unexpectedly rushed to the hospital to have my appendix removed. It could not have happened at the worst possible time. I was between house helps but my husband totally stepped up to the plate. He took time off work and became a househusband. He was there while I had surgery, his face was the first I saw when I woke up and everyday spent about three hours by my bedside. The nurses joked that I must have done 'ju-ju' for him and he just laughed. For the first two days before my cousin came in from Kano, he would wake the kids up, make sure they bathed and are dressed on time and send them on their way. He would then be with me from mid-morning till just before they get back from school. He leaves to buy lunch and dinner for them (he cannot cook to save his life!) and be back home before they get in. He was so wonderful. I shared a room with a nice woman who was there two days before me. She had a major surgery. For the four days I was recuperating in the hospital ward, her husband came once. He was there with another man for barely five minutes, which was all spent talking to his friend about the '10 or 16 billion' squandered rescuing the power situation. He totally ignored her. She timidly asked him for a 'glo-recharge card' and he said he would send his driver back to bring it regardless of the fact that there were people selling the cards on the grounds of the hospital. He then left after 5 minutes. This is the mother of his six children. It just took me back to my first marriage when I felt more like a piece of furniture. The relationship between them felt like a master/servant relationship. About an hour after he left, my husband went out to stretch his legs. He came back and handed the woman several recharge cards. She was speechless and so was I. I did not even realise he heard the exchange between the couple because he was reading his paper. These are the tiny things he does that I really appreciate. My very polite gentleman whose mantra is 'chivalry is not dead'. I never forget how lucky I am to be with him and I try to be a good wife to him, not perfect but good. He is not perfect either but is as near to perfection as I can get, recognising the fact that all men have human foibles. I know that this time I struck gold. As Fraulein Maria sang in 'The Sound of Music'
'Somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good'

Friday, March 7, 2008

Me, myself and I...

Solitude for me a burning desire that is sated once a week: Sundays from 11am to about 6pm. My husband takes the children out every Sunday and I cherish those few hours alone. They have lunch at either Southern Fried Chicken or Aunty Ajobi's. He then takes them either to Millenium Park, Wonderland or to visit family friends. They are gone for most of the day. I really, truly enjoy my own company. It's my time to unwind and do things that bring me joy. I believe every married woman needs that time. We do love our families dearly, but from time to time, we need to rediscover who we are. Now, I feel I have to confess; I have an addiction. For me it is books, books, books and more books. I have always loved books. My mother introduced us very early to the Hausa classics, Magana Jari Ce and the poetry of Abubakar Imam. My earliest memories are of all six children sitting around our mother while she read from the aforementioned books. She would also read from a Hausa comic book called Sauna Jack, which was hilarious. She had been withdrawn from school at 15 and married off to my father. However, by that time, she had already cultivated a love of books which she gladly passed on to us. As a little girl, I loved books like Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer. A good book for me is one that is written in the simplest narrative, no long cumbersome words. Good writing I believe should exclude no one. I became a bonafide literature freak when we started going to the Kano city library. In those days, the Library was stocked with the most amazing collections. It was there I was first introduced to the Encycleopedia Brittanica, which gave me knowledge that amazingly I have retained to this day. I got to read books that opened my horizons and transported me to places I might never visit, giving me experiences I might never have. Later on, in my darkest hours, books also gave me solace. In secondary school, I had the most amazing English/Literature teacher; Miss Bailey was a British woman from Hull in the UK and was in Kano for a total of 12 years. She took a particular interest in me because, early on, she realised that we shared a love of books. She noticed that I always had a book with me: at Assembly, during prep and even in class. So besides the books on the school curriculum, Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Hamlet and Julius Caeser (Shakespeare), Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe) and African Child (Camara Laye), she further introduced me to the best of the British classics; Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and Great Expectations), Shakespeare's (Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Midsummer Nights Dream, All's well that ends well, The Tempest) and Thomas Hardy (Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of the D'Urbervilles). I estimate that in my 39 years, I must have read close to 1800 books, at two books a month from the age of eight. On my own I discovered the American classics; To kill a Mocking Bird, Catcher in the Rye and also contemporary writers like John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer and David Baldacci. I am happy to say that I have passed this love of books to my 12 year old daughter. She is in JS2 in Funtaj Secondary School and I was sorely disappointed when I saw the list of literature books for her class but I digress. This is a rant for another day. Anyway, back to my lazy sunday. I read for most of the day, go to the Salon, sometimes I have lunch with friends then I come home and settle down for my second favourite 'alone' thing: movies. If books are my drug of choice, movies must be like a therapist to my angst-ridden centre. I love comedies and thrillers. Whatever my situation, a good movie can reboot my CPU and improve my mind set. I am now discovering small independant movies that are made on a shoestring budget, without the support of the big studios and rarely with big hollywood stars but are phenomenal. I watched Little Miss Sunshine a few months ago and last Sunday, I watched an excellent movie called 'The lives of others'. I give it four stars (my ambition is to be a film critic in my next life). I have heard great things about another movie called Juno. A friend said she had a pirated copy but I will wait till it comes out on DVD. For me the movie experience is not just to see the movie, I need to hear the dialogue with clarity, inspect the art direction of the movie set and scenes, appreciate the directing and enjoy the musical scores, all which will probably be denied me on a pirated copy. Anyway, that is a sliver of my weekend life and in the words of Lionel Ritchie "I am easy, easy like Sunday morning.."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Another one bites the dust...

A disease with no bias. That's what people should realise about AIDS. Another 'big man' just died in Abuja. They say it was a stroke; the open secret being it was AIDS. This guy was a well known womaniser but as with our people, probably believed it could not happen to him. AIDS is real and people are dying from it. The problem is that the cause of death is always said to be diabetes, hypertension or stroke. I heard a statistic that shocked me. In Kano City Hospital, four out of every ten blood samples taken by the Haematology Dept. comes back HIV+. Scary!!! It is said that in the mid-eighties, when the number of HIV+ individuals started being kept, the rate of infection was highest in Calabar, Benue, Port Harcourt and Lagos largely because of the liberal and promiscious sex scene (yeah, yeah, I know some readers will protest this statement but it is true). However, fastforward to 20 years later, the rate of infection is highest in Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Sokoto and Maiduguri, mainly because of polygamy and divorce (Ha, Ha. Gotcha!! How come those same readers did not instinctively jump to protest this statement?). This is a disease that makes no distinction and usually hits hardest the 18 to 49 age group. What this means is that the most productive in our society will start being wiped out rapidly. Not because the disease is not manageable but because of the stigma attached that makes people not seek medication early because they are in denial. My husband, who works for an international NGO, was in Uganda two years ago. He was saddened by what he saw in several villages they toured. There were very young children and pre-teens being raised by very old women. It seemed as if the adult men and women and also the old men did not exist. It was explained to them that it was due to the scourge of AIDS. This picture is what I fear for Nigeria.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First love...

'What once was, still is and will always be...' I finally came face to face with my past today. Bashir was my first love. I was 14 and so was he. We met when my school went to Kano Race Course for the annual October 1st marchpast. We began writing to each other and sneaking meetings during the holidays. When he found out that we lived in Yakasai close to an aunt of his, she became his favourite aunt and my favourite neighbour. He introduced me to James Hadley Chase, I introduced him to the Archie comics. It was an innocent but intense love. It lasted about 18 months. A year later, I was married and he was on his way to America. I have always wondered 'what if?' This was a meeting 22years in the making. It happened in a place and time least expected. In my mind, I always imagined that we would meet again at a time when I was a perfect size 10, looking radiant and sophisticated. I imagined he would profess his love for me and state that he had never really got over me and that no woman ever measured up to me. The reality was quite different: Park and Shop in Wuse, two screaming kids in tow, minimally made up, far from sophisticated and looking on the wrong side of thirty. On the contrary, he was looking suave, sophisticated and in control. Amazingly he recognised me. He said I looked exactly the same (liar, but I loved it). We both started with small talk but it quickly went to more personal stuff. More was said than was spoken. Coincidently, my second son is called Bashir, his second daughter has my name, go figure. He is doing so well and was pleased that I had gone back to school to get two degrees. He seemed to want to linger and chitchat but I could feel something starting that did not forbear well. He gave me his number, I gave him a false one. We promised to stay in touch, although I knew it was a promise I would not keep. We parted and again I am left thinking 'what if?' What if...what if...what if... Wake up girl!! I am married to the most wonderful man, I have five beautiful kids, live a very fulfilled life. I am immensely happy, I am so-o happy with my life and I have no regrets. That's my story and I am sticking with it!!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

One Nation?

Why do we fool ourselves that we are one nation? Nigeria is, and will always be, a nation of 'us versus them'. In business, in the civil service, anywhere, your reception is determined by your tribe. The colonial masters really did a disservice in the way they partitioned Africa. Case in point, why does the average Katsina or Kano man prefers that his daughter marries a person from Niger (across the border and a different country) rather that a Yoruba muslim man from Ibadan (same country). Because with the man from Niger, he probably speaks the same language and are culturally the same when it come to marraiges, funerals, society etc. Verbally, a hausaman would say, as long as he is a muslim, but when push comes to shove, then we see the true colours. A family I know are grappling with this 'problem'. Their daughter is 34 and not married which for years has been of concern to them. She now has met an unmarried Yoruba muslim from Ibadan, well educated and a Deputy General Manager with a bank, speaks Arabic fluently and knows the Quran in depth who wants to marry her. The family is adamant that it won't happen. What hypocrisy!!! Her father was in the Federal Civil Service and they lived in Lagos for a long time. Most of his closest friends are Yoruba. Her uncle is married to a Benin woman. All this was acceptable until now. They are now trying to marry her off to her cousin in Funtua who has two other wives. Having been once in a position where I was coerced into marrying someone I did not love, I hope that the girl stands her ground. She is the one that will live with whomever she marries. Its time we stopped making these decisions for our daughters. That is why we see so many 'bazawarai' in our society. Forced marraiges rarely work. I am a perfect example. We should all follow our hearts....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Knowing when to let go...

'There are two things we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings!!!' How do you know when to let go? Will we always be children to our parents and will our children always be kids to us? My best friends daughter is in her first year in the university and these are turbulent times for them. Her daughter wants to strike out on her own, my friend still wants her tied to the apron strings. I am, no surprise here, on the daughters side. Her mother is afraid that she might make mistakes...didn't we all? You cannot stop your kids from making any mistakes cos if they don't, how can they learn from them. We only hope that we have given them the tools to avoid the worse ones. What I believe is that the early adult years, especially with daughters, presents new opportunities for a mother/daughter relationship to evolve into a more matured 'semi friends' relationship. However, most mothers think of daughters as a new beginning to revisit their own deferred dreams, make up for mistakes made and relive their lives through the daughters.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Just got the greatest New Year gift; my own computer and internet service in my own space. Wonderful...my husband can't imagine what he is unleashing. I have bottled up feelings about so many things and I really needed an outlet. After living for too many years in Kano, we have just moved to Abuja. I am so-o-o happy. I needed to get away from those smog-filled streets, small-minded people, holier than thou religious freaks, misplaced priority government...I can go on forever. The Kano of my youth is no more. My childhood neighborhood of Yakasai is garbage clogged, almajirai infested, kwatami overflowing ..Our so called Mallam Governor thinks that providing signboards with Quranic incantations is a priority. Kano, the commercial centre of the 70s and 80s is dying and is on the last legs of the death throes..Oh woe is me and my people...just where did we go wrong? FYI this is just a rhetorical question cos I know damn well where we went wrong!!! This blog will tell you but for starters I am just estatic that we got away...I was already having nightmares about bringing up my children in Kano which was a struggle of ideas between mine and those around us that insist on helping me put my children right. My mother-in-law insists on our sending the children EVERY weekend to Wawure to acclimatise with the relatives. Their ideas are oh so extreme that when my twelve year old said that she wanted to be an engineer, my husbands aunt said, ' in mijin ki ya yarda kya yi da ga gidanshi' (if your husband agrees, you can do that from his house). IMAGINE!!! My husband actually was undecided about moving to Abuja but I used all my womanly wiles and guess who changed his mind overnight.