Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Top of the week to all and sundry this fine morning. It’s been an extremely broiling weather here in Lagos for the past month and it has shown no signs of relinquishing its hold on the country. If I were a farmer I would be very worried. Come to think of it, I am an eater so I should be worried and if we go on at this rate with no rain in sight, there’ll be no need for cooking our yams or potatoes when we dig them up with pneumatic drills. I can hardly take a few steps outside without being drenched in sweat. I don’t go out unless I absolutely have to and when I do, it’s either in the morning or at night. Kinda reminds me of Houston, Texas. I went there some sometime ago in June for my cousin’s wedding. Hm, I have never seen anywhere as hot! Must have been at least 40C on a cool day. We used to, my brother, Imaga, and I, when we wanted to go out, dash outside, turn on the engine of our rented car, put the air conditioning on, and dash back into the house to wait for the car’s interior to cool down. I made a note to, next time I ventured into that state at that time of the year, specifically request for a rental car that can be started by remote control. I don’t really know about having such a vehicle here in Lagos because might be someone who may not mind so much driving off in a car whose only impediment is a heated interior. Nevertheless, the point I’m making is that it is excruciatingly hot here and to raise the stakes a little higher, I’ll be travelling to Enugu, which is in the south east of the country, later this week. It is the very town and its characteristic heat that I, on a lighter note, wish to speak.

It was, I think, in the late eighties when the prowess of the Enugu weather made our country proud by enacting the Aesop tale of the fox and the stork. The details are a bit hazy but I do remember the African Cup of Nations football tournament was round the corner and every country vied to qualify for the knockout (second) stage of the tournament. The first stage has different groups comprising about four to six countries with each country playing one another with a view to rack up enough points to qualify for the second round. The competing countries play two matches; one in each country’s home turf. For example if Zambia and Malawi are playing two matches, one will be played in Malawi and the second leg in Zambia. If each country wins in its home turf, then the goal difference between them is racked up and the one with the greater aggregate wins. However any goal scored against the host country doubles in points making it imperative that the guest be prevented from scoring any goals at all (legal) costs. The particular country we were playing with was Algeria and the first leg was to be in their country. We, known for our typical good spirits and sportsmanship, went there to play and got a very cool reception. Our boys were taken to a city in the northern part of Algeria where distant snow capped mountains bordering it glistened in the pale sun. Our boys, unaccustomed to the freezing weather, were unable to cope and played like old women trying to flee a rabid dog, and lost. Our wretched crestfallen boys trudged back home to prepare for the second leg of the match in a last attempt to qualify for the elimination round.

Our incensed sports body hurriedly met to decide how best to both give the Algerians their just desserts and qualify for the next round in one fell swoop. The initial plan was to play the match in Sokoto, a city in the north that is part arid desert and averages temperatures of 42C until one man advised them to designate Enugu as the venue for the match. With some reluctance and after much argument, they agreed. Enugu, which means ‘the city on the hills’, is actually surrounded roundabout by the hills and combines with the extreme humidity the tropicals are known for (and, as far as I’m concerned, is where the ozone layer opened up) to raise the city to the temperature of a blistering pressure cooker. The match was fixed for 2pm. They came, and we played, they kept fainting, and we kept scoring, and they lost and we won, and they complained, and we, we stuck our tongues out at them! The stork triumphed over the fox! It was a sweet joy for everyone, even me – I’m not particularly interested in football except for my beloved Arsenal.

I sit here thinking about Enugu, my beloved valley in the hills where I partly grew up and mull over my work there, running about on barefoot, and possibly half naked, in the scorching weather and pray my days there are mercifully short. Then again, I never know what could jump out at me and make me reluctant to leave; they almost always do, so I will be on the lookout.  Have a great week everybody and those of you in the freezing weather, think about us here while we in our scorcher think of you there. Cheerio!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Wonderful Valentine

     Good week everyone! Right, how many things do I have in my head today? Not many, but I do feel a swollen head from the enormity of the thoughts in it. First is a song or should I call it classical music piece that I have been playing in my head over and over, and over again. Lovely piece though and since I’m have no clue on how to write music ( my droll music teacher in secondary school killed it for me) I’ll simply refer everyone to the movie I heard it from. The movie is called the, I think, "Valentine Caveman" starring Samuel L Jackson as a homeless classical music genius who had so many spirits playing in his head, both good and bad. 

Now I know why the blues I’ve been feeling have been playing this song over in my head! Valentine’s day and Frieda. I had a horrible Val’s weekend and she’s still not talking to me. All we’ve talked about since then have been plans of what we want to do for the next three months, business, what to do, which family to call but no playful pulling of the cheeks, even the “I love yous”  have been brassy. I wouldn’t even dare smack her on the bottom let alone venture between them – but, hehehe, I do know that when it does happen, it will be well worth the wait! That piece has been playing in my head ever since and has been so apt via the one star instrument I know that comes nearest to expressing complexities of my thoughts that even the spoken language cannot, the piano. Its ability to make me transcend the normalities around me to the pure subliminal sphere where my mind always wants to be, with its erratic yet consistent and purposeful fluttering like that of a butterfly, makes her my favourite of all musical instruments.

 The fight was about one of the stalwarts of any relationship, finance. And it was my fault, too. We had agreed to set aside some money for a project this February but I went and used it for something else thinking I’d get the money needed from someone who owed me from a project I’d done a week earlier. Alas the money was not forthcoming and the bubble burst when she suddenly asked me about it, with love shining in her eyes, on the stupid lovers’ day. You should have seen the stunned shock and then the hurt that filled her eyes before they completely frosted over and then came the metallic tone she always uses when talking aggressive business. My day took the plunge of a parachuteless skydiver. It’s been business and courtesy ever since although I must say she has been thawing out gradually and steadily – trust my skills now; I’m a bigz boyz!
 It has taught me though, and it’s painful too, that I’m not a sole proprietor anymore and that finances in a relationship should never be joked with, even with the sweetest of them, and trust me, she is, if I’m ever going to live in peace and harmony in a co-habiting relationship. So baby, I’m sorry, I promise to work hard at not doing it again. So as regards tonight, all sanctions lifted? Still thinking about it? I’ll wait im-, patiently…

  This week’s post is dedicated to an illustrious son of our beloved country. Like I said before, my dear country is too bigz to be brought down; we are an amazingly unique people. We may not have had the kind of leaders committed to steering us in the right direction but we, the collective, never fail to shine as stars. Just when we were groaning under the weight of the shame one of ours, a would be terrorist, brought on us, another, has the dream of representing us in the coming winter Olympics 2014, after he’s done beating his leukemia! Yes my friends, as I write now Seun Adebiyi has just had a, and I hope successfully, bone marrow transplant. That the least of his feats. You should go to his blog and feel the full force of the positive energy emanating from this young man. The man loves to live and clearly loves to share too. I don’t mean the desperate clinging onto life because you’re terrified of the unknown. No, I mean the celebration of life so much so that you notice the beauty of the little things in life; the smile of a labourer trudging home from work as he sees his little ones rushing out to greet him and seizing his bag of weary tools, remembering the best summers in your life while going through its worst blizzards and so much more. His winning smile alone embodies his whole perspective to life even with his swollen face from the abrasive drugs he’s been pumped with to fight organ or tissue rejection. I’d go on and on and still not do Seun any justice but I enjoin all of us to rally round him and give him our best support; he embodies our good nature and strong will and desire for success. I will be following his progress and will write on him from time to time. (Seun's Blog)

  Okay this is getting a bit long so I’ll have to pen off here till next week. Let’s be happy, be more prayerful, not give up dreaming and work hard to achieve our dreams! Have a great week everyone, and me, I hope I get a Valentine’s day extension – tonight!                  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Sub Space Adventure

 Good week, and morning, to everybody. I wish I was in a very bad mood right now but ‘unfortunately’, I’m not. Why this absurd wish? Well one of my beloved readers, Formerly Stealth Reader – God I love that name!- once said on my post, Carnival Free , that I always sound so jolly and that she, I think it’s a she, wants something angry from me. Frieda laughed so hard at that one. The times she’s had to play nursemaid to my endless frustrations, anxiety and uncertainties are legion. But then again, she is a true woman; she always makes sure my laundry is thoroughly washed clean before hanging it out to dry. So Stealth, your wish may be a long while to come but come it may, owing to the fact that Nigeria has a lot of anger in her. It’s been fuel scarcity for the past three months so for now let’s hope that that the patriotic citizens of this country, and they are in the majority, prevail over the traitors in keeping her as a unified peaceful whole. Not perfect I know, but it is the first step to taking us to the road to prosperity AND accountability.

  Last weekend was sublime. I had been invited to go along with a professional body to inaugurate an upstanding citizen as the patron of the body. The occasion was to take place in Warri, our host’s hometown, an oil producing city in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. We were to, after the ceremony, spend the night at the host’s holiday resort in Escravos, and island about a hundred kilometres from the coast. Enter stage left, my first miracle, the airplane. No, it wasn’t just any airplane, it was a propeller aeroplane! I had been longing to get into one because I’d heard about its flair for depositing one’s ingested dinner onto the one’s, or his/her neighbour’s, lap by way of turbulence. I’ll fast forward to where I excitedly boarded the plane after ogling the pretty black propellers that looked like magnified domestic fan blades made from liquorice. I stooped all the way down the small cabin to my window seat which was positioned right beside the wing, buckled my seat belt and waited for the engines to start. They did, with a whirr, but the blades didn’t turn! And then they did! Faster and faster they went until they became a very fine blur. I wondered what it would to be like to be deaf and walk backwards into them. Would I feel the pain? Would death be instantaneous? What would the blood spatter be like? Would it be all over the wings and fuselage? My fixation with Dexter is getting the better of me. We taxied to the runway, turned, and began to hurtle down the tarmac with unbelievable power. In fascination I watched as the wheels were retracted into the overhead wings and we were airborne. I must admit I watched with some trepidation we climbed reluctantly higher and higher. I will also admit that take offs and touch downs scare the daylights out of me. I always feel like the engines might give up on take off and send us crashing back to earth. I thought of Frieda and wondered how the news would be broken to her, what falling back to earth would be like. Would I scream or even have the time to soil my boxers? All these and more I thought about as I looked at the miniaturised busy Lagos plan shrinking further away beneath me. The seat belt sign went off and the apprehension passed.

   It was a pleasant flight; the sun was out and the coast along which we were flying was clearly visible apart from the occasional fluffy clouds that dotted the skyscape (is there a word like that?) beneath us. I could tell when we got to the mangrove swamps from the large bodies of water and numerous spider web networks of the same element that transversed the area. As I watched, the undercarriage came out as we began to prepare for descent,  and I felt like we were a big bird about to swoop on its prey and I felt my belly drop in my mouth when we did swoop. I’m sure my face went a few shades lighter as I watched the wings bank this way and that, my fingers digging into my armrest, the aircraft readying itself for a smooth landing while staring at the hypnotic veneer of the landscape looming closer and closer, wondering if the two would be married together in a perfect mesh. We landed.

 For me it was an adventure. It was an adventure because it had all the ingredients needed for any adventure, endeavour or enterprise: will, excitement, research, faith and fear, and the acknowledgement of all five in one. These, I think, are what make the experience of an adventure so exhilarating. The fact that one conquers ones fear, powers on with his will and faith, is motivated by the excitement and contains risk through research is what makes it an accomplishment no matter how small or big. I for one can say I have accomplished a propeller planed adventure to Warri. I would love to hear yours, big or small, in your anticipated comments on this post. Have a great week everyone!               


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Cassandro!

A pretty week to all. This is Kalu calling for the umpteenth and repeated time. In vain do you cast charmed circles around… Don’t mind me! I just remembered Wole Soyinka’s famous poem ‘Abiku’, which I did in secondary school about the errant arrogant child changeling that comes to torment its mother in repeated cycles of births and subsequent deaths. Don’t ask me why I thought of this little poem of all times in my life ‘cause I don’t know. Oh maybe it’s to do with the endemic corruption that’s threatening to grind this beloved country of ours to a halt. I had a horrible day yesterday. Well not so horrible; the first half was fine. Did my workout, prayed and went about my business for the day and when I was done, went about looking for petrol for my thirsty Betty. Hardly any petrol station was selling fuel and the ones that did had mile long queues trailing behind them and causing traffic snarl ups. I joined one of them with the intention of filling up my tank and a twenty five litre jerry can in my boot. After about three hours I managed to get fuel but managed to fill my jerry can three quarters of the way – for the same amount of money I would normally fill my tank AND my jerry can with! It was painful – still is. Bit like flushing one’s hard earned money down the drain in a country that’s the eighth or ninth largest oil producer in the world.

The situation in this country is becoming unbearable and what makes it even more annoying is that no one heeded my suggestions in my earlier posts on ways to deal with this prevalent problem. I cried, shouted, begged to no avail. Everyone thought I was talking rubbish, until now. I have now become like Cassandra of the Greek mythology whom Apollo, the god of the sun had cursed after she’d repeatedly spurned his love advances. She would be able to see the future but no matter how much she cried and clamoured, no one would believe her. I’m Cassandro on two counts.

Firstly, did I not, in ‘A River Runs Through It’ suggest that we patriotic Nigerians, and in legion, go to the central corridors of power of the country and empty our bladders and offend them into action with the stench of their corruption? Did I not? We would not be here now if we did as I bid. Secondly, did I not, in em - bo! I can’t remember which post - did I not beg for support in joining me to ask Frieda to let me buy a motorbike. Not a sports bike but a touring one. Would I be bothering myself with the fuel scarcity going on now? I’d be riding free as the bird without a care in the world. What Betty uses in a day my new girlfriend would use in a month! But noooo, you lot just had to focus on the dangerous side of an only ten percent accident rate that occurs among bikers! As if I’m a teenager who perpetually throws caution to the wind. Indeed! But, all is not lost; I’m a very reasonable man who understands that people do err when they don’t see the big picture. So now, with the current and likely chronic fuel crisis, can you dump Frieda’s wagon and get on mine and try to convince her to let me get a bike so I can discharge my pressing duties with ease. I love her and do intend sticking around for a while so I’m not going to be reckless. Remember, one good turn deserves another!

I’ll quickly post this and rush off to Maryland (Lagos) to see my colleague and friend and get some black market fuel for the day – hint, hint! Have a great week nevertheless everyone!