Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Unquenchable Fire in the Belly...

It can be difficult…this writing palaver. Like an unfulfilled childhood ambition, it pokes continually at one’s resigned frame, asking the same questions on repeat.

This in turn, births an all-consuming belief most writers possess. A self-assuredness which convinces you, sitting behind your desk and tapping away at your keyboard, that you will eventually somehow, someday, make a difference.

All this, achieved without any political authority, economic influence or a warfare arsenal.

Just you and your chosen weapons of words, getting ready against all hope, to touch base with the implacable dictator, the unfeeling elite or the ordinary person on the street, who has completely tuned out, traumatised by a desperate bid to survive their overbearing conditions.

Staring at a blank piece of paper and urging your scrambled thoughts, to line up in an eloquent format and obey your quest to make some sort of contact. For if what one writes, had no impact on one’s intended audience, could one then still confidently call oneself a writer?

How does one avoid the cardinal sins of; using several words when one would do or indulging in verboseness, when succinctness will suffice? You see what I did there?

Should a writer’s emotions be dripping from their paragraphs, or is restraint a key driver in conveying a message the audience can relate to? Why even bother about relating to one’s audience?

Is engaging with the audience, a requisite for a serious writer? Is it in fact, just a form of lazy pandering or an indispensable trait for any wordsmith true to his or her craft?

Must all writers be serious? Even the ones who satirise for a living? Is a deadpan delivery more effective than parody, when the issues at hand, are of a - shall we say - more sombre nature?

Why all these questions?

Well, it’s a lonely task….writing, that is. But one, that is guided by a certain amount of nobility, so it’s always necessary to contemplate on the ethics, as well as techniques of the art.

Very few writers for instance, write for no reason. They are always trying to change something and the wind in their sails, though abating intermittently, never stops blowing.

The fire never leaves the belly.

Writers must persevere and keep dropping their nuggets (golden or otherwise), because in the end, all it takes is a few lines to make contact. Yes, it could be a long, arduous road, but once contact is made, a shift occurs and hopefully, a new day is born or at least a new consciousness triggered.

I think James Baldwin; the late, great American writer captured it best when he wrote:

“You write in order to change the world ... if you alter, even by a millimetre, the way people look at reality, then, you can change it.” 

And that could be the hope keeping most writers going. Still hoping that; truly, one day, the pen will indeed be mightier than the sword and it would have all been worth it.

Friday, 1 May 2015

It's the Wooing Game, Silly!

"We are your servants......"

May come across like a sound-bite from a group wooing session gone wrong, but this was one of the many quotes dropped on the BBC's Question Time podium in Leeds, by the political triumvirate begging for our votes, for next Thursday. It was Nick Clegg who came out with this gem actually and it is only appropriate this piece begins with him.

Of the three men, he appears to be the one seen by most (especially the female demographic), as lazy on the eye. His meteoric rise before the last elections, owned more to this factor, than the content of his message. He stood in the middle of Cameron and Brown on that podium, looking like the youngest and most handsome brother in a very average family line-up. It was only inevitable he was to then go on and play a vital role. That was the type of society we had become at the time. Watching America vote in a cool, suave and debonair individual, guaranteed some of the lust for that golden dust, rubbed off on us.

Five years later, having been Deputy Prime Minister for all his troubles, Mr Clegg is on his last legs politically. His recent efforts in Leeds, revealed a man determined to ensure his Order of Songs is predetermined by no one, but himself. At least he would leave a good-looking political corpse.

Next on the list, is Ed Miliband. Looking more confident than ever and seeming to be the only leader who recognised the significance and danger of the size of the "undecided vote". His strategy was simple: I will listen to your question; ask for your name; answer your question by prefacing my response with: "and this is why I believe that".

It looked like it worked for a while, until the banana skin of the "over-spending" question. Worse still, at the end of his allotted 30 minutes, somehow the banana skin had morphed from its literal state into a physical one. If the bacon pictures could garner so much steam, just imagine what the images of a sprawled Miliband would have done for social media and the poor man's political future.

The red tops would have had fun too: 

"Ed falls at the last hurdle".
"Red Ed spills blood on the political dancefloor".
"Floored by the public's questions".

I could go on, but it wouldn't leave me any room to acknowledge Mr Cameron. After all, he is the current Prime Minister and the first man to occupy the floor.

The issue with Mr Cameron is simple; no one outside the Tory confraternity believes anything he says. His swerve, on the NHS issue relating to where the requisite money would be generated was in line with educated expectations. His modus operandi during this election has revealed what most of his detractors like myself, have always highlighted. 

In brief, here is a man who has been raised to believe he was born to rule, but clearly lacks the charisma, instinct and gravitas required to do the job. He has been the lottery winner in a pool of very unlucky Conservative MPs. For me, this is the problem with the Tories and it is an issue which will haunt them for a while. Of the next generation identified as potential leaders, only Boris has what the electorate want and even he, is one inappropriate joke away from a political scandal. A flaw, that being the leader, is bound to bring to the fore.

So, put yourself in the position of the unfortunate electorate, whom, like a pretty woman being wooed, has to make a decision she has to live with for the next five years and maybe even beyond.

Nick, dashing, but prone to making false promises...Dave, decent chap, but with grand delusions of being the chosen one...or Ed, not an oil painting, but utterly devoted to you, albeit, prone to the odd stumble. 

Hmmm....most women I know would probably ask for the real Nicholas, David and Edward, to please stand up. This has been the true tragedy of these elections. Most of us are literally planning to vote according to allegiances and the rest, leant on by a sense of fear. All because we cannot say we really know any of these guys. 

My guess is, as the Lady has to make a choice come next Thursday, she will go for the decent guy with the huge ego. One snag though, he will not be allowed to consummate the relationship.

Interpretation: Tory Minority government.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

United Kingdom of Nigeria

The uncanny parallels that merge the two countries of Nigeria and Great Britain are truly mind-boggling. The historical coming together of both entities about three centuries ago has somehow resulted in a weird morphing of the most unlikely national psyches.
Ask the average Brit on why their country deserves her first name, and you are bound to be taken back to the classroom and schooled on the fine details of Empire 101. Somewhere along the way, you will also be peppered with grandiose tales of Churchill, the unique sacrifice of the Royal Family and depending on their political persuasion; some Thatcher sound bites could also be dropped.
Next, invite the average Nigerian to the same podium, and they will "educate" you on the size, the ethnic diversity, the religious balance and the fact the country is Africa's largest economy. Of course, if you gave them more minutes on stage, they may stretch the truth and tell you how Nigerians were the people "responsible" for the anti-colonial spark that lit the continent in the 1960's and led it into the light of independence.
When all the chitty-chatter is done, none of what either group tells you will represent something for the future. They will unearth some magnificent details from history and some questionable ones from the present but in the end, they will begin to sound like that hapless job candidate. The one with the spanking CV, who mysteriously, cannot articulate how they will take your company forward...
They exude confidence and swagger, crafted on the back of past events, but lack the essential killer traits to stand tall amongst their current-day peers. It's the ultimate price paid when there is an acute lack of leadership.
Consequently, the majority of people in both countries are incredibly optimistic people, with a consummate sense of humour, which they wear like an indispensable cloak. They have to. Anything else will be a one-way ticket to Depression.
Let us take a look at recent events in Great Britain and Nigeria, as they once again share an election year.
On the African side of the Atlantic, you have a huge chunk of the population who vehemently hold on to the view only one particular individual can take the country forward. Just to garnish the mess further, not only is this person in the advanced stage of his life, he has actually had a bite of the top job a few decades ago. And yet they tell us it is "Change".
But then you realise the maturity of the farce, when the incumbent's supporters tell us their man will perform feats in four years, which he wasn't able to do in six. They call that "transformation" apparently.
Meanwhile, on the other side, you have a Prime Minister with probably the worst record of personal judgement in history. From Coulson, to Harrison, to Cruddas, to Fink, to Clarkson, to that Euro veto and so on and so forth. What makes Mr Cameron's case alarming is the fact he was always forewarned with copious evidence, which he consistently ignored. I often wonder what job our PM would have been doing today, if he hadn't gone to Oxford.
Even with all that in mind, it appears Mr Cameron is still the only candidate that "looks" like a Prime Minister. That seems to be the conclusion from the media, driven by the polls. But what else would one expect, when the other candidates are Messrs Clegg and Miliband, et al.
Mr Clegg - who my five year old once told me was David Cameron's brother - appears to share his "brother's" lack of judgement, if not his DNA. It is a crying shame; he will eventually take his party down with him to the unknown depths of the political graveyard, with the tuition fees albatross, hanging from their collective neck.
Mr Miliband is probably the only PM Wannabe I truly feel sorry for. His intellect is not in doubt and his wellmeaningness is indubitable, but when you cannot inspire people to take you seriously as a contender, how the hell are you going to arouse them to the polling stations to vote for you?
And so a few days from now, Nigerians should hopefully be going to the polls, although, there is no guarantee it wouldn't end in an April Fools debacle. Judging by the government's record, I doubt anyone out there, is holding their breath. As a female friend of mine joked; anyone who makes a false promise for Valentine's Day cannot be trusted.
Pan the camera back to these shores and although we have a few more weeks to go before voting, the drama is no less. First of all, it took a lot of high drama to get all recognised partly leaders into the televised debates and now, we have a Prime Minister who has never won an outright majority in an election, sounding off about his lofty plans to hand over the reins of his political party.
The resulting lack of quality leadership in both scenarios, means over 100 million people are about to go out and participate in redundant electoral exercises. But then I guess that's what happens when electorates do not engage genuinely in the political process and are buoyed on media guidance, rather than personal conviction. Invariably, the people will vote to keep the status quo and the politicians will massage voter egos, by saying things like; the people have spoken!
Consequently, like the thousands out there who happen to share a common love, heritage of and roots in both countries, I am staring out of my window and wondering when real purpose will return. Living in hope that some heroes will rise and save us, as we perfectly perch in the middle of what constantly reminds me of Ernest Hemingway's great quote:
"Life is like a sh*t sandwich the more bread you have the less sh*t you have to eat...."
Well, to all the power-brokers from Abuja to Westminster... more bread please.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Nigeria 2015 - Valentine's Day Blues

And so on the very day the rest of the world will be celebrating love, some bright sparks in Nigeria decided it was the perfect day for the country’s two main political tribes to go to war. Surprised? Well, not really, I guess. We are Nigerians after all and everything we do must have our stamp of uniqueness and creativity.

In any event, if the Nigerian Love Brigade is truly unhappy and the female demographic rises up, sufficiently raising the protest decibels and demanding their bouquets and chocolate, our matchlessness also means our government (maybe as an election sweetener) could actually postpone Valentine’s Day.

Don’t laugh, you know it’s possible. Stranger things have definitely happened in our beloved land.

Before we move on, let me confirm the sole intention of this piece is to get the salient points of Nigeria 2015 elections and to do it with brevity as the watchword. I am not going to attempt to compete with anyone on word-count or give a lengthy sermon to the converted. Charles Soludo has easily won the trophies in both categories. Furthermore, the majority of the people casting their vote on that day will not have read his well-researched, but extensive thesis. For me, the issues on ground are hardly that complicated and one doesn’t need a PhD to see through the smoke and mirrors. With this in mind, best to get back to the elections and the resultant matters.

Let us start from the beginning.

For those of you who may live under a rock somewhere and for others who have not been bothered to date, the two elephants fighting over the Nigerian grass would be the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). Of course, there are other baby elephants involved, but why mention them, when it appears Nigerians have conveniently decided these calves do not even exist.

Who is who?

The Gladiators

On the one hand, we have Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), the incumbent, and on the other, you have the APC candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB). Both candidates have already led the nation in one guise or the other. Buhari, for twenty months between December 1983 and August 1985, on the back of a military coup that saw the overthrow of the Shehu Shagari government and Jonathan, for the last fifty-five months having succeeded the previous president, Umaru Yar'Adua (Late).

So, with the abridged history lesson out of the way, there is only one question at the top of everyone’s list.

Who will win?

I would hate to be the one who elected (pun intended) to raise the collective blood pressure of members of either party, so I will hold my predictions for a little while longer. Instead, let’s ask another burning question on millions of Nigerian lips.

Who should we go for?

Well, I don’t know where the majority are, but for the silent minority (and yes, we are millions too) like me – who have chosen to keep quiet until now – we do not believe there is any real choice out there. All we see is a two-headed snake, with one head being marginally less venomous than the other. We, in this group, naturally recoil on sighting snakes, so our natural position is to be cautious, alert and stay at a safe distance. You cannot blame us. We are still reeling from the Creation story, but, no one should mistake our distance for apathy. We can still see it all from our sanctuary and yes, we are riveted.

From our view over here, we find little comfort in a sitting president who appears to believe kneeling before pastors and speaking from the pulpit in crowded churches, will somehow transform him into a strident, forthright and performing leader, which is what Nigerians require, but sadly do not have. We cannot quite tell which is more painful; the leader floundering in the darkness looking for the light, or the nation stuck in the darkness, having to watch the drama unfold with their candles, lanterns and diesel cash-guzzlers.

We are equally uneasy with a presidential candidate who says things like;

“It is a legal responsibility which God has given us, within the context of one Nigeria, to continue to uphold the practice of Sharia wholeheartedly and to educate non-Muslims that they have nothing to fear…"

"What remains for Muslims in Nigeria is for them to redouble their efforts, educate Muslims on the need to promote the full implementation of Sharia law…."

This is fine if you are an Imam (or even the average Muslim minding his or her own business), but not when you are wishing to occupy the top position, overseeing a country with over 70 million non-Muslims. Also, when someone of Buhari’s record tells me there is “nothing to fear,” that is the time I begin to tremble with certain trepidation. To be blunt, we will prefer anyone who wants to rule us, to leave religion out of the electoral process and just give us solid and viable plans for good governance. It’s not a Christian/ Muslim thing….it’s a Nigeria thing.

We know Mahatma Gandhi said;

"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." 

But still, we are confident he didn't have this modern-day Nigeria - where insensitive leaders conveniently forget our secularism - in mind. Our advice will be for anyone who wants our votes, to keep the Koran and Bible out of our faces and stop hiding behind God. We may not be as religious as you, but we at least hope God will not protect incompetents. Besides, no matter the reassurances they may have obtained from their pastor or imam, we doubt anyone can bribe their way to paradise. On the day of judgement, we are relatively certain it will just be you and your creator. So, please in the name of God, stop.

Of course, the chutzpah of these politicians is sometimes created from events that surround us all. In a country where a keenly followed “man of God” has promised to “open up the gates of Hell on the president’s foes,” why are we puzzled when the average corrupt politician, believes he or she can open up the gates of Heaven and enter with a clear conscience?

Moving on swiftly, we cannot see how the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, can seriously justify staying on for another four years in the face of our country turning into the laughing stock of the world, whilst his ardent supporters bombard use with sterile indices showing Nigeria’s economy growing by 7% over the next blah years. Excuse me, but those in the know have been predicting the same statistic - along with Nigeria’s economy someday outstripping that of South Africa - way before your man came into power. Our advice will be for the president's followers to confront him on his woeful record on corruption and his penchant for surrounding himself with such poor advisers. The buck stops at your man's desk, so get him to do what leaders do...lead or get out of the way.

As for the other side, we, unlike the fervent millions pushing the Buhari ticket can’t see how his government can be incorruptible or attempt to probe anyone, when the very people who are financially springing him to power, have, shall we say “questionable” public service records. How anyone believes Buhari will be anything more than a figure-head, is still utterly befuddling to us. Do Buhari fans understand how much money will be spent to get him to the Rock? Do they know the source of those funds? Have they even bothered to do the mathematics, before giving the General their unshaken support? The mind boggles...

These GMB enthusiasts have sole reserve of our incredulity for they have conveniently forgotten this particular job at Abuja, requires a skill-set their renowned inflexible candidate (this will not be a military setting) may not possess. We of course pray for the best, as we have to concede Buhari has evidently softened over the years, or how else would he, Tinubu and Atiku be convenient bedfellows? How else could someone like Senator Yerima (he of the child-bride fame), be on Buhari’s presidential campaign committee? We could go on, but Brevity restrains us, as we continue to hope against all hope.

We worry about our intellectuals – bar a few – who have somehow conspired to overwhelmingly get on the ABJ (Anybody But Jonathan) train, whilst not holding the GMB bus shuttle to the same bar or standards. This particular point is one we find extremely worrying, especially; when we know some of these same characters never tire of educating us on whom to vote for, with no credible, historical record of them ever getting it right. It appears sadly, it is not only the politicians capitalising on the millions of Nigerians, whose determination to ignore the issues, is only surpassed by their rigid determination to vote for Buhari. Dissemination of knowledge is definitely not the goal here.

We, against all hope, pray our electorate is aware Nigeria’s foremost issue is a Lack of Leadership, because we can see the gaping hole created by a dearth of individuals prepared to knuckle down and inspire Nigerians to believe in and contribute positively to the creation of a better land. We know the requisite structure and culture just doesn't exist, because we have refused to copy the examples of countries like Singapore and Indonesia - two countries that more or less dragged their nationals out of the Third World pile, right before our eyes – instead, we have actually started to see the our hole become a grotesque gorge of hopelessness and resigned apathy.          

We wish we could have a Vladimir Putin Jonathan or Vladimir Putin Buhari for the next four years and at least, be frank with ourselves on the type of person we have in charge. A laconic individual, who is clearly very knowledgeable about his country, has a good grasp of her foes and friends (foreign and domestic) and also possesses an iron, nationalistic will to see his country prosper and not be left behind. An undeniable patriot, who though flawed, is driven by a passionate belief in the supremacy of his country. A person who Boko Haram know gives them only two options, when they attack his people; a one-way ticket to their maker or a lifetime in hell.

Of course we realise this is a flight of fantasy, so, we grudgingly accept Buhari and Jonathan are all we realistically have for now and a choice has to be made. But yet, we wonder why a country of 160 million plus, has refused to carve out her identity, but instead has blindly followed the Democratic / Republican model, which is clearly throwing that icon of democracy into bureaucratic chaos. We can’t really understand why Nigerians have decided to totally ignore the other candidates. Yes, they genuinely may not have a chance, but at least one or two of them should be able to join the national debate. You will be surprised the quality of the “between the lines” detail that a third or fourth candidate brings to the table. If in doubt, ask David Cameron and Gordon Brown about a certain Nick Clegg or draw some inspiration from the electoral shift, away from the traditional political parties in Europe.

Finally, we really hope Nigerians have a cunning plan and just want to exploit the fervency of the Buhari factor, to knock Jonathan from his perch and then a few years down the line; exert their electoral muscles and take out the General and his political soldiers. You never know….we Nigerians remain ingenious like that. In fact, this is the scenario we pray is playing out in front of us, as we look on and laugh.

We rest.

So, really, who will win?

Well, the same people who always win. The same group that have been winning since 1960, and have positioned things in such a way, as to ensure whichever snake-head shows up, they, have enough anti-venom to contain the situation for their own benefit. If you are wondering who these people are, well, don’t strain your cerebral Rolodex on our behalf. We will help you.

The group rarely grows past twenty in number and their clout within their setting, is determined on natural causes like death, sickness and finally, on whom they have allowed to inhabit the seat of power. They are all male, arguably the only true Nigerians – as in, they know the country inside out and unlike most of us, have cultural, political and familial connections that defy creed, religion or tribe – and are individually, sufficiently ruthless and benevolent in equal measure.

If you require more assistance in compiling the list, I will go as far as to advise you the most visible - yes, some have to be shadowy - of the collective, have acronymic monikers with three characters permanently branded on the brain of most Nigerians. What else do you expect after five decades of oppression and ensuing trauma?

Oh, we shouldn't forget America. She wins too. Any which way Nigeria goes, America just magically happens to come up trumps. Must be something in the Rivers Niger and Benue.

Final verdict of Nigeria Elections 2015 

A Valentine’s Day Massacre of the common man……tick-tock.


 1.  Cartoon courtesy of  Mike Asukwo (+234 802 3462978)
 2.  Charles Soludo article courtesy of Vanguard Newspapers

Friday, 2 May 2014

Nigeria We Hail Thee!

Many years ago, I attended a boarding secondary school in Nigeria. It was a great time, filled with youthful, vivid and memorable moments....some low, but mainly, mostly high.
It was a different time then, but the school, was not much different from the one in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria, where over 200 young girls between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted on the 15th of April 2014.
The attack, widely attributed to Boko Haram - the insurgent group who are purportedly driven by a desire to 'unwesternise' Nigeria - happened in the still of the night, as the girls prepared for their final-year examinations.
In normal societies, this dastardly act would have been followed by a stern and robust response from the government of the day, hunting down the terrorists and rescuing the poor little girls. But this is Nigeria.
Nigeria, where our president, Goodluck Jonathan, goes into rapturous gyrations on the campaign trail, barely hours after a bomb went off in the country's capital city, Abuja on the 14th of April, twenty-four hours before the Chibok kidnappings.
The same Nigeria, where the Federal Executive Council (equivalent of the UK Cabinet) decided to cancel one of their sessions in respect to the vice-president, who had lost his younger brother in a car crash, but somehow did not see it fit to do same for the Abuja bomb victims or even as a mark of respect for the snatched Chibok girls.
Since then - in case you live under a rock - there has been another bomb blast in Abuja yesterday, literally a few metres away from the spot where it occurred two weeks ago. To their credit, the president's men have released a tweet to confirm a security meeting was being convened.
A little too late, many Nigerians would say and can one really blame them? They are pissed and have had enough.
Twitter, is actually one of the best places in the social media landscape to observe that sense of rage and revulsion. Under various hash-tags to drive their message home and riding on the back of the platform's powerful reach, Nigerians of all creeds and religions have spewed their frustrations.
Some even went as far as to doubt if a God actually existed and wondering if the nation's religious leaders - with their deafening silence - were also in the government's pocket. In a God-fearing nation like Nigeria, the significance of this type of development cannot be exaggerated.
In any case, we have all been doing our bit on the #bringourgirlsback thread, alongside thousands of people including celebrities like Mary J Blige, Kerry Washington, Keri Hilson, Russell Simmons, Piers Morgan etc. The shared hope is that the message reaches into the nooks, corners and corridors of the influential, who can then pressurise Goodluck Jonathan to act decisively or at least feign concern.
So why are Nigerians so angry?
Well, consider this; prior to the above-mentioned atrocities, there have been countless other murderous acts descended upon the people in that part of Nigeria, including:
  • 33 people killed at churches in Maiduguri, Pokistum and Musarari, over the Christmas holidays in 2012.
  • 42 students and teachers killed at Government Secondary school in Mamudo, Yobe State, on 6 July, 2013.
  • 44 students and teachers killed at the College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe State, on 29 September, 2013.
  • 59 students killed at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi, Yobe State, on 25 February, 2014.
Nigerians are raging because in the world's largest black populace, we have a government that can no longer guarantee security and is not shame-faced enough to step up to the plate. Our president continues to stew in puerile denials, whilst a part of the country, as big as some as some European nations burns to the ground.
Clueless, ineffective and impotent in the face of a well-organised and ruthless foe, they stumble from pillar to post, trying to convince the outside world that Nigeria is faced with an international problem. A problem they claim has been brought on by insurgents being driven into Nigeria by anti-terrorist campaigns effected by foreign powers.
But these type of lame excuses are expected from a government known for blaming everyone else but themselves for the country's long list of social and economic problems. No electricity, yes, it is the work of our enemies. No water, yes, it is the work of our detractors. No roads, yep, that is definitely our foes again!
Meanwhile, no one has bothered to tell us where the missing $20 billion oil money is. The Nigerian ship is rudderless with a completely bamboozled captain and crew. Drift has not only become inevitable, it is now the norm.
Leadership is absent and accountability has gone to the dogs. So much so, that almost two decades after his death, the late great Nigerian musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's words still ring true:
"Dem go dey parambulate and go still dey same same place."
Like an army with no strategy, this government is indeed going round in circles and as if this was not bad enough, there is no viable replacement waiting in the wings. The opposition is driven by individuals whose real intentions are at best unknown and at worse, cannot be relied upon. The collective Nigerian mind boggles.
Talking about the army, it is now not unexpected that the average Nigerian on the streets of Abuja, Yobe and Lagos is secretly - in the deep recesses of their oppressed minds - praying for the return of the boys in green. Let's face it....they cannot be worse than this current lot.
Those of us in the Diaspora, well, most of us anyway, carry the country's woes with us everywhere we go. We look at the younger generation and constantly retune our 'Nigeria is Good' message, whilst those in charge constantly undo all our good work. And just when we think we have it bad, we remember our friends, family and fellow Nigerians surviving under the yoke of that government's ineptitude and we sigh.
This morning, a friend with a penchant for all things Nigeria, called me to discuss the situation and summarised as follows;
"When it comes to Nigeria, I will believe anything can happen. It is that bad now. There are no conspiracy theories in our country. What may seem far-fetched anywhere else is just the norm over there. I always said it will get worse before getting better, but I never foresaw this complete shambles."
I paused to reflect on his words and our silence filled the space. Suddenly, we both broke it at the same, echoing the opening line from the nation's former national anthem and a refuge all Nigerians gravitate towards when faced with awesome confusion.
"Nigeria we hail thee," we chorused.
(Dedicated to the missing Chibok girls - bring them home. A protest is planned for bank holiday Monday 5th May, 2014 at 11am. Venue: Nigeria House, 9 Northumberland Avenue, London. WC2N 5BX. Please come out to support us).

Monday, 10 February 2014

What have Tall people ever done for the world?

The sharp tone playing from my phone told me all I needed to know. 

It was my nemesis on his weekly 'let's piss Kanmi off' pastime. Yes, I saved a special tone just for him. 

Reluctantly, I picked up the phone.


"Hey Baba, what's up?"

"Nothing bro. How can I help?"

"Ah ah! Na fight?"

"No, just having a stressful day."

"Okay, but don't take it out on me. Anyway, I called to check if you were still sticking to your plan not to blog this year."

"Yep. Why?"

"Well, I read something that I am certain will get your goat. You know that guy, Elnathan John, who you are always praising? He has been abusing us!"


"Yes. Hmm…the guy has been abusing us o. He said short people are stupid and troublemakers. He even started to boast that he is six feet tall. Can you imagine?"

"Really? So what do you want me to do about it? I am not the representative of short people worldwide. You want me to return to blogging by replying him, I suppose?"

"Of course! Who else do we have? If he had attacked fat people, they would have replied by now. Remember this is the same guy who replies vehemently when people attack gays. We need to respond and put him in his place. We are a minority too."

"But no one wants to imprison short people."

"Who told you that? This is how they start. No one took Hitler serious when he started and see how that ended."

"But using Hitler as an example will destroy your case bro. He was short."

"That's what the tall media told us. The guy was almost six feet!!

I sighed heavily as I walked through to the kitchen and looked out to the overgrown garden which should have had my attention ten minutes ago. I was about to say something before my fellow dwarf took the wind from my sail.

"Do you know he said we spend most of our lives staring at people's nipples? Can you imagine? Nonsense! And then he quoted Ian Fleming, saying all short people are insecure."

"Oh well, I am sure even he at six feet, has to stare at someone's nipples. It's relative, no? Maybe the insecurity is actually on his part. Maybe he hasn't achieved enough in his life for a tall person, so he wants to deflect by picking on short people. Maybe he has reflected on how much God has given him, height-wise and how little he has returned for that gift. Maybe you should reply on his blog and quote Jack Dempsey."

"Jack Dempsey? Who is that?"

"He was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world about a hundred years ago."

"Okay, okay. What did he say?"

"Tall men come down to my height, when I hit them in the body."

"I like it! I like it! I will definitely go to his blog now. Idiot! He thinks he can abuse us and get away with it. What I don't understand is tall people's obsession with us. They call us names, say we have short man syndrome, catch all the fine girls and yet, we say nothing about them. What is it sef?

"Can I go now?" I asked with total submission.

"Yes, but I will be back. You know the guy is clever. He will have a witty reply and I may not be able to counter. I may need you bro."

"Okay," I replied wearily, hoping the conversation was finished. But then, expectation is the root of all heartache.

"What really annoyed me is people's reaction to his rubbish article. They are all laughing, saying how much they enjoyed it. It is discrimination and they are endorsing it! Apart from Ali and Mandela, where are all these remarkable tall people? But look at us; Martin Luther King, Gandhi, all the popes, Dai Lama, Maradona, Pele, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, even in the premiership today, Hazard is the best player. Where is the tall people's contribution?"

"But they have Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and all those NBA players to name a few," I whispered.

The accompanying silence from his end was palpable. Finally, he spoke.

"Do you not know basketball started out as netball, until the tall people betrayed us and raised the baskets seven foot into the air? How the f*ck is that fair? Only a selfish people will do that. Bastards! Anyway, I am off to put my reply on all his postings. If he wants a war, we will give him one!"

I stifled my laughter and managed to query him further.

"So this article, what was the title? Surely it wasn’t just about short people? Elnathan always has something more concrete to say."

The dead line told me everything I need to know.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

All I want for 2014.

It was in the last few hours of 2012...

I was recovering from the festive excesses and fooling myself that I had discovered a new wind and 2013 was going to be my year. I opened up my laptop and began tinkering with several blogging ideas. Some friends had given me some unwelcome feedback and I thought it would be nice to convince them I actually valued their opinion. They were right of course...I should post articles more often....I should be less attracts more readers.

In that spirit, I came up with what I believed would be a more user-friendly post. 7 Sistas to watch in 2013 was my humble attempt to not only recognise deserving talent within the black community, but it was also evidence of my determination to highlight its persistently unrecognised female demographic. I had also selfishly hoped the individuals on the list would repay me when their deserved credit arrived (never happened).

A friend who had gone through the list called about a week after publication.

"Wow, I didn't even know half of the people on that list. Laura Mvula? You really think she will be big in 2013? Well, I hope so for your sake. You are going to look pretty silly otherwise!"

It was clear he didn't understand the psyche of the average blogger. Yes, we have a section of us who crave validation and would do anything for a 'like' or approving comment, but in the main, we are a confident bunch (actually, make that arrogant bunch).

How else can you describe individuals who have a resolute belief that the public out there, are really interested in their views. Narcissism, I guess, is the underlying requisite trait.

Me? I belong to the hardcore of the group. Somewhere within my Medulla Oblongata, a superciliousness exists. A delusion of grandeur that makes me think I am a literary prophet. I stubbornly reject the notion that copious feedback is evidence of blogging talent. My gratification is strictly derived from publication, hence my inability to accept my limited comprehension of the blogging medium. I truly believe I tell people what is coming....whether they choose to embrace it, is not my concern.

In any case, as old dogs cannot (or will not) learn new tricks, I have decided to follow in my tiresome and redundant tradition, by sharing a list for 2014.

This time, I have relented and accepted my 2013 list was not sufficiently inclusive. Apparently, things have moved on and writers are not expected to focus on their race, religion, creed or nationality to the exclusion of others. We are expected to be more inviting and willing to reach out to a wider audience. We should be less racist, less homophobic, less sexist and hopefully less conceited. Well, 3 out of 4 is not bad....

2013 was a challenging one for me. I lost a good friend and a fortune, but then I gained wisdom and fortitude. It is mandatory for me to look forward if improvement is the ambition.

So here we go....the 5 things I want in 2014:

1. That post-Mandela, the ANC would finally accept it has been an indolent child of an over-protective father and the time for change has come. In what can only be described as their best chance to prove their detractors wrong and show the global community their maturity, the party of Mandela, Sisulu, Tambo and Zuma, failed abysmally. The lowest moment of course, was their denial of the inept sign language interpreter, who was later exposed as an ever-present member of their long-running charade. Apparently, he suffered a 'spiritual attack,' at the crucial moment. Let's hope the ANC doesn't experience same.

2. That the world would irrespectively of belief, embrace the current Pope. It has been a while since we had a 'Mother Theresa' figure and the world is in dire need of goodness. Yes, the body he leads might have its problems, but the humble Argentine has been all-embracing and all-inclusive. He deserves a collective pat on the back.

3. That worthy political leaders would emerge across the world. Everywhere you look, we are surrounded by ineffectual, maladroit frontmen (and women), pretending to deserve followership. They stumble miserably towards an election date, promising everything from prosperity to peace and then deliver the exact opposite. As an aside, as someone who resides in the United Kingdom, I do not believe I have seen a worse advert for privileged or elitist education, than this latest brigade of cowboys in Westminster. Enough said.

4. That we, the public, don't allow the media to determine what global events we pay attention to. Some of us are so bereft of world event knowledge, we don't seem to realise there is still a war going on in Syria, that there is still unspeakable crisis in a 'free' Libya and more importantly, there is a scary water crisis that the Rupert Murdochs of this world don't want us to discuss. Their hope is for us to focus on oil, diamonds and other natural resources, but I am not aware of any period in history when man drank black gold for sustenance.

5. Finally, that human beings resist the lunge towards prestige. You are not a better person because you belong to an elite mob. In truth, ala Groucho Marx, you shouldn't really want to be part of a collective that invites you. Focus more on doing good deeds for the world and not a select few. If you seriously want to help the world, do it because it emanates from your heart and not because of a national honour that lies in wait. If we learnt anything in the last year or so, it's that recognition does not equate worthiness. The Queen knighted Jimmy Saville and look how that turned out!

Happy 2014 people.....may the year bring you all you deserve.