Saturday 20 March 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

1. You receive emails telling you about opportunities to work from home and earn £5K a week, so why hasn’t the writer taken them?

2. Humans plod along exactly like penguins when there’s ice on the pavement. Will penguins walk like humans on dry land?

3. Ever been to a Nigerian party and, all of a sudden, the DJ starts playing Midnight Crew’s Igwe, Shackles by Mary Mary, or any music by Yinka Aiyefele or Kirk Franklin? Look around at those women who topple the tables and chairs over in a rush to get to the dance area; they probably spent the previous day at the babalowo’s.

4. Or been to a Nigerian church where a simple prayer is turned into a fervent arm-thrusting-attack-the-ceiling event by three or four people? Watch them; they likely spent the previous day with those referred to in item 3. above, or they are the same people.

5. Women who spray perfume up their dresses as they leave for dinner dates. Its not as if their date suddenly is going to duck under the table during dinner and start biting off tufts from their delicate parts, I know I wouldn’t, so what’s going on?

6. Men who spray cologne unto their palms; make the mistake of shaking their hand and they transmit these cheap, cloying, synthetic smells to you like some infectious decease. For some reason, these men favour polyester shirts, therefore they constitute a mortal danger to anyone wearing a pace maker as they routinely discharge static electricity when shaking hands.

7. How would you recognise a group of Nigerian men at a bar? Bottles of Courvessier, Martell and Hennessy fill the table at a ratio of one bottle to two people, tight TM shirts strapping overindulged torsos, some with dark glasses in a darkened venue.

Saturday 13 March 2010

The Vacuum of Leadership

This is what happens when there is a leadership vacuum, the consequences of a failed state.

Warning! Do not open the link if you're of a queasy disposition.

In whose name?

Definitely not God's.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

The Making of a Failed State

Somalia, despite all that is said and written about it, has a banking system which is probably not as corrupt as the Nigerian one (how else do they convert the millions they make from their illicit activities?)

The Somalis have and make use of mobile phones, networks of which most likely are not as congested and over subscribed as the Nigerian ones, almost all gun-totting pirates shown carry mobile phones on their other hands, some even have sophisticated satellite phones which start at £40,000 to procure.

Active trading goes on in Somalia. They acquire shiny new weapons (reminds you of the weapons the Nigerian Police used to slaughter the Boko Haram members in cold blood); buy new four wheel drive vehicles (it must be the Toyota Land Cruiser capital of the world, no different from the streets of Lagos, Abuja or Kano); they sell hostages (read, the Niger Delta region and now the South East of Nigeria where we call criminals, militants).

Yet there is no known leader but so-called ‘warlords’ (does that not remind you of Nigeria? Our warlords are James Ibori, Taminu Kurfi, Michael Aoondaaka, Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma, David Mark, Dimeji Bankole, Bukola Saraki and Isa Yaguda).

What is the difference between Nigeria and Somalia, a country widely acknowledged to be a failed state?


Monday 22 February 2010

The Prevalence of Currency…

…as dominating our relationships.

The vulnerable, unsure, classically insecure man, who now finds himself in a state of relative financial well-being, has a coping mechanism to dealing with relationships he never dreamed he could attain, splash money around; and also a strategy, splash some more money around. This is quite typical of the Nigerian male, some of whom indulge in now common-place corrupt practices in order to fund the impression of possessing an endless well of money. Another category of man who is poor in every sense of the word also will aspire to be like our man. On this side of the pond our friends who engage in full time jobs as bank fraudsters and credit card forgers are well known.

Show me a man that works 70 hours a week (and I mean works, not someone doing some pseudo routine impression such as leaving home at 1.00pm and ending up at a ’joint’ with the lads) who spends money without thinking and I will show you a liar.

Our women folk have cottoned on to the weakness of the classical man described above by customarily asking him for money. If, during one of his few moments of clarity he decides he does not have the money he will be told in no uncertain terms that he is tight. You should not be surprised when a woman tells her friend, “he’s so tight his bum squeaks when he walks”. There is no thought as to whether or not the man has the money, if he has other plans, can he afford it, or if simply he believes in spending his money according to his wishes.

The pattern is simple: the woman’s mother is ill and she needs money for hospital treatment; or her father is dying with typhoid; or her brother got run over by a hit and run driver; even grannies have been known to die for the cause and she needs money, being the first child, to be able to meet her financial obligations during the burial rites. The more confident woman will ask straight off, “Give me some money so I can look nice for you”.

Then the man, who has seen and heard it all before, possibly stringing 4 or 5 girls along at the same time and listens to the same chorus everyday as if the girls get together to practice, gives her the money anyway. He also knows from discussions at the joint that each of the girls he is stringing along has also 4 or 5 men they are stringing along too, hedging their bets. The heart-wrenching thing is, everyone knows what is going on, however, the man consoles himself by saying she’s not exclusive to him, while the woman says the same but adds to herself, ‘well, I’m a woman, who else am I supposed to ask money from?’.

The unasked question is, had the man not been in the picture, from where would the woman have got the money?

It’s a vicious circle.

I cannot believe how many articles, how many blogs I have read where women condemn the syndrome of a disrespectful, insensitive, abusive and uncaring man but seem incapable of marrying that syndrome to the fact that the man’s perception of them is that if he had had no money, they would not have touched him with a barge pole. Many commentators’ first instinct here too will be to say they do not need a man’s money, however, by the following week, they will be asking him for money in one form or another.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Here Comes Cherub

The season again is upon us when the winged little cherub starts to shoot arrows at gender-specific humans, with the sole aim of coercing them into buying red-wrapped gifts and confectionary for opposite-gender-specific humans, who are, as is customary, lined up hands outstretched like matriarchs in an Italian Mafia family.

There is no doubt in my mind that there is a sort of mafia thing going on here. Men are made offers they cannot refuse: you either turn into a romantic slush or it means you do not love me. You’d better get out there and buy the best gift you cannot afford, if you’re going to get a leg over tonight. The larger the red envelope-ensconced card, the deeper your affection for me is the message. Flowers, those pretty things that die within 48 hours, galore.

Shops have picked up on this deft male emasculation to devote whole sections to the worship of pink and red.

For those to whom the fact that women are smart is still questionable, why do you think the quiver-wielding, fat boy employed for this task is a male called Cupid? Why not Cupida or Cupidina or Cupidess? Why not, for that matter, Sikira? Oh no, it’s got to be Sikiru*.

*Sikira is a Nigerian name exclusive to women as Sikiru is to men.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

The Dearth of Romance

So, I have not written in awhile and as time rolled on, it became increasingly difficult to reign in the pull to different directions and other interests, however, here I am.

I would wish you a happy new year but I'm sure that everyone you know, down to their comatose great-grandmother has wished you one, even those that hope you do not have one, which makes me reluctant to add my voice to the chorus.

It took a few minutes for me to decide on the title to this post – 'death' or 'dearth', 'death' or 'dearth', 'death' or 'dearth' – and I settled for 'dearth' because I believe romance exists, not as much as it should, not as pure as it used to be, not as sweet as it can be, but it does. Besides, I do not want those hidden blog warriors to have a fit, after all, its a new year and I have to conform to convention in some form or another.

Years ago (and by that I mean many, many moons ago) and growing up, one could go out and end up in a romantic encounter. Boy meets girl or vice versa. They exchange telephone numbers. They spend countless hours on the telephone just chatting, day dreaming, exchanging slum books, always hanging around their houses or those of their friends in order to catch a glimpse of one the other with hearts ready to jump out the throat and it usually did, even though the girl or boy lives just a street or two away. Juvenile? I think not. The reality was just different then.

Today, boy meets girl or vice versa. They exchange telephone numbers. They spend countless hours on the telephone just chatting, that is after the girl 'flashed' the boy, they have lunch at Tantalizers where boy foots the bill, girl asks for some money to recharge her card, and then for some more to catch a taxi home (this is the girl who alighted from an okada an hour ago).

Or you take an evening out. You see a red hot girl and you dance with her. Its going all too well and you realise you're on the wrong path after you buy her the second drink and she asks if she would be going home with you. While we're on the topic, does anyone know of any place in Lagos where you can have a nice evening out and you don't have to be wary of your dancing partner?

Before you say it is a Naija thing I do believe its not local to Nigeria. I have been out to dinner many times and seen my companions make no move to pay. Of those that have offered and I accepted, one looked like she was going to cry.

But (yes, I know, never start a sentence with 'but') romance is not dead. There are still people who look each other in the eye and smile without uttering a word. There are those you go out with who will fill you with comfort and display old fashioned consideration. The smile in their eyes and the softness of their voice. Their self-consciousness just because you're looking at them. The text messages that make you smile. The time they have for you and your thoughts. The longing for the voice of the other. The exchange of songs, mostly meaningful. Voices that have a special melody to them. Peculiarities, idiosyncratic ways that are cute. No, they do not ask for recharge cards but rather purchase one for you when you run out of credit. They sometimes take you out and buy you lunch.

There is a dearth, however, it is not dead.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

I attended a wedding quite by accident last November. I met, on the way to Lagos, a couple who were going for their sister’s wedding and had received an invite to which my initial inclination was to decline (I mean, the fella and his wife had my phone number in London so why was I being invited on the plane) and to which, for the sake of not wanting to appear churlish, I accepted.

And attended. The ceremony was well organised and it was an enjoyable experience. The bride seemed to enjoy herself and stepped around the hall in the dance of the happy. The groom seemed slightly bemused but happy all the same. I wish them happy married life until they reach 100 years of age…however, the wedding got me thinking about mine, and whether women especially concentrate more on the ceremony than keeping the marriage ‘alive’.

It seems to me that I stand guilty too of not thinking deeply about marital life before embarking on one. I thought it would be sex on demand (what man does not want that?), sweetness and fun, without any education (self-attained or otherwise) on how marriages work. My traditional introduction ceremony took place with a week’s notice when I decided to move to London since my ex-wife informed me that her parents would not let her join me without any formal recognition, and we returned to Nigeria for the engagement/marriage when she was pregnant, because her parents – church deacons – would not be happy about her giving birth outside of wedlock. Never mind that it is the deaconess who I now find imports jazz from Nigeria for my ex.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying I was dragged eyes wide shut to the alter – I certainly loved my ex and I gladly agreed because I knew it would make her happy.

My ex danced like she was going to drop in the church, a ceremony that lasted from 10 until almost 4 pm, even though we still had prayers at her house and a two hour journey back to Lagos. My father commented the following day that she was so happy because she had snagged me and my brother said something similar a few days later. I responded to both of them that she had said she was determined to enjoy her wedding day, which was true. It occurs to me now that she was not as determined to enjoy her marriage.

Marriage now fills me with trepidation because I realise that so many people will walk into mistakes. Unfortunately, about 40% of UK marriages are now breaking up and a large proportion of the remaining 60% are tumultuous. Darkelcee recently wrote an article about her fiancĂ© liking original pounded and I was alarmed at the first comment which suggested the commentator’s husband had to put up with poundo, or nothing (I’m sure the comment was a joke). Relationships are hard work, marriages much harder and I think a lot of our parents fail in educating us properly about them, especially when we have many deaconesses who, rather than train their children, believe in the power of jazz to help keep their children’s spouses under control.

I will end on an upbeat tone. Many marriages will be happy ever after and I can see some examples on blogville: Oluwadee who critically examines every step she takes; Sherri, fiercely independent but with a heart of gold; Omosewa, whom someone once said to me will kill her husband with love (and who, by the way, has 'univited' me to her blog) and a few others.