Monday, March 17, 2014

Seven times out of Ten!

Good week everyone! It’s a beautiful day I see outside my window, the morning sun peeping through my dark blinds and even the melodious sound of a (I-don’t know-what) bird trills above my neighbour’s noisy generator. Yes my friends, I’m sorry I have to drag you into my now cantankerous and no-electricity morning but as they say, there’s love in sharing. Ah bless! The power just came back. I tend not to praise my local power company when they give us the power we actually pay them for, it being their job but the main reason I never praise them is I found that any time I praised them for a job well done, a range of two to twenty hours of power in a few days, I’d end up not having any at all for the next four days, and this has happened seven times out of ten. I now see the genesis of superstition, tradition and culture. I actually like this topic – I was going to talk about my misadventure at my friend’s dad’s funeral in Ebutte Metta, Lagos but I suddenly want to try making some sense of this in my head and throw it out to you my folks.

The majority of us, if not all, tend to follow tried and tested, sometimes handed down formulas that lead to successes ranging from immediate gratification to reaping profits from long term investments, personnel and material.. Once these endeavours succeed seven times out of ten, they are likely to be adopted as a winning formula and then a tradition and consequently culture. A man driven to distraction by hunger and seeing no other way out of his predicament than to burgle a house for the first time in his life weighs the cost of his intentions. He prays to God to understand his predicament and to shield him from discovery and shame, to understand that he only need fill his belly and nothing else. He embarks upon his desperate act and ends up not getting caught. The euphoria of his success drives him to try another venture, and then another with resounding success; a winning formula is born – until he is eventually nabbed.

Take my new found ‘superstition’ as an example. When I praise the power company for transmitting uninterrupted power for a whole day – a rarity in these parts and find that seven times out of the ten I praise them for their services, I suffer blackouts for an unusually extended period of time, I would subconsciously or otherwise, sense that some indescribable force is against me praising the company for its services and doing so would be to my detriment. I would therefore, from then on, refrain from praising any improvement on services provided by the company lest some dark force comes along to snatch away what little service I have hitherto enjoyed and plunge me into its fraternal darkness. I ‘learn’ not to acknowledge any strides the company makes to improve upon its services, however phenomenal, for fear of being let down, and I subsequently compel my family to adopt this ‘secure’ and ‘proven’ tradition. We thus learn a culture of criticism and cynicism through our ‘tried and tested’ tradition of non gratitude and non encouragement; and if some bemused outsider, perplexed by our culture of negativity, asks us why we never acknowledge the laudable efforts of our service providers, we smugly reply that it is to ensure the status quo remains the same so that we never regress; and argue further that the culture of criticism is actually a form of reverse encouragement to our service providers. If then this tradition works out for us better services, or at worst keeps us in status quo, what is to stop us from applying it to other aspects of our lives. A dear friend travels through the treacherous roads from Benin to Lagos upon hearing of your hospitalization bearing the Benin fruits and Auchi groundnuts you love so much, huffs and puffs his/her way round to your bedside to give you a hug to which you, with ‘good’ intentions, ask what took them so long without so much as a word of thanks because you know you’re encouraging them to do better – seven times out of ten.

One of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is the power of individual thought even though most of us rarely utilize it for fear of drawing the ire of, or standing apart from others. Almost as crippling is our unwillingness to ask ourselves the plain truth no matter how painful it may be. Hence we sometimes go through life holding tenaciously onto outmoded beliefs and traditions of yore handed down to us by our forefathers or parents or even by our own hand. I think one should assess and evaluate whether their tradition is taking them to the destination they are going or drawing them back. If it is then all well and good, and if not, then they should know it is in their power to either amend it to suit their purpose or jettison it outrightly. We oftentimes abuse much of the power we have by being too afraid to exercise it to our hurt. Tradition and culture were made for man and not the other way round. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Valentine's Day in Lagos

A good week to everyone! The 14th of last month was Valentine’s day and thankfully, on that day, I happened to be working in the midst of a wide range of extremely beautiful ladies, from slight/slender to the outright BBW – big beautiful women – but sadly, like the proverbial man who, carrying watermelons under each arm, trudged to the watermelon market with the very intention of buying more, I simply resigned myself to admiring, or ignoring the fruit on display. I haven’t had a Valentine’s day date in Lagos in such a loooong time, and if I ever do, it will definitely take the planning of a wedding of feuding families to effect it. Why?

You and your significant other decide to give yourselves a full Valentine’s day treat by planning to see a long anticipated movie and then wine and dine at your favourite restaurant with a view to ending ‘tins’ with a bang, or maybe something slower with more emphasis on the romantic. You both kiss each other your goodbyes as each one, or one of you, goes off to work, with promises or assurances that you will meet at an agreed rendezvous from whence you’ll commence your amorous itinerary for the rest of the evening. Everything going on around you in the office, from the commencement of the business day to the pm still in its toddling stage, only serves to bespeak just how deeply the goblet of love will be drunk: the office secretary suddenly squealing in delight at a couriered package, the office aloof beauty whose desk paraphernalia, desktop computer inclusive, have to make way for the legion of love cards, love cakes and love wines to be displayed. Even the normally routinely dreary office lunch gets a love lift of its own with jollof rice on the menu being served with heart shaped dodo – fried ripe plantain slices -, softer cubes of beef and the sweating and unusually overly made up dinner lady serving up extra helpings of meats with coquettishly batting eyelashes, to the object of her affection, who’s studiously oblivious to her advances. Then the magic hour, 3pm, strikes, your cue to rush out to meet your object of desire.

You grab your presents, your laptop bag and oh, your car keys, start out, stop abruptly to cast a cursory glance at your desk to check that you haven’t forgotten anything and with a parting general farewell to any who cares to listen, you dash out to your waiting car, phone to your ear warning your sweetheart she’d better not be up to her usual tardiness. With ears pushed to the back of your head on account of a beaming neon smile, you generously tip the security guards, hop in your car and drive out into the largest car park in the world, Lagos traffic! Add to that the mobile phone network jam reminiscent of the wee hours of New Year’s Day and you can be sure whatever cracks existed in your relationship in the previous weeks will metamorphose into yawning craters. You try unsuccessfully to call her, your eyes still on the banner by the traffic lights you’ve been staring at for the past three hours of sweltering traffic and she, her frustration building, remembers that picture of you with the office beauty, her arms wrapped suggestively around your waist, your strident denials of unwholesome behind-the-door liaisons, and your delay and ‘switched off’ phone only serve to confirm her niggling doubts. You finally get to her office block and as you’re driving in you espy her chatting amiably with a small group of junior staff. You park nearby directly in line of her vision and call her cell phone and miraculously this time, it does go through. She doesn’t seem to hear her phone ring because she carries on her conversation regardless, her laughter ringing out louder and above everyone else’s. You finally get the hint after the third ring and humbly exit the car to walk to her. As you reach her she suddenly exclaims to the crew she has to go straight home on account of a blinding headache and swiftly turns around and sashays towards the car leaving you bemused with no choice but to give your onlookers a brave smile, grab whatever is left of your self control and apply a step after the other towards the car. In the course of the silent drive home, you seething with rage and she fixated on her phone and its incessant annoying message beeps, still have some presence of mind to stop over and grab a bottle or two of ‘bubbly’ or her favourite wine and…

Far be it from me to go delving in other people’s private lives, so, on that note I will have to end here. But, would it be so bad if, even if the wine is not drunk and you both cart your icy weather to bed with you, she unusually clothed and facing the other way, you surreptitiously sidle up to her to gently spoon her, your free arm creeps around her hips and navel, and upwards to the soft globules you know so well until she deftly but gently moves it away. You, feigning resignation, sigh, kiss her left shoulder and relax in the first throes of slumber. A moment of silence, an imperceptible shift of her rump into your groin and a slow smile spreads across your face. As the ice thaws and the hands fumble, the tent is raised and the stone is rolled from the well’s entrance. As you begin to draw water from the well, you begin to verbalise your indignation at being so poorly treated in the presence of outsiders. She screams out her accusations of putting another before her on such a special day, and it’s not clear what passion she’s (s)creaming) from but you know it prompts you to draw water faster and faster as you both argue back and forth until she vents her frustration in one long final shuddering scream as she clasps you tightly to herself. An hour later, or considerably less, depending on the ardour expressed and the self control applied, two of you polish off the hitherto ignored bubbly and reminisce on the day while cooking up what excuse to give for not being able to turn up for work the next day. Valentine’s Day in Lagos might not be such a bad idea after all. Have a great week everyone

Thursday, March 6, 2014


A good week, or should I say good year to everybody! It’s been such a long time and yes it’s been all my fault so please feel free to pelt me with all the rotten fruit within grasp – keyword being ‘within grasp’. It’s been so long, almost two years since I wrote my last post and it seems like it's taken twice as long to get back on track. I know the question on everyone’s lips, “What kept you away for so long?” I understand, even I am asking myself that question.

I have been going through a life changing experience over the past two years, change that took me completely by surprise, not by accident, but by my constant relegation of needful things to be addressed to the background of my mind. My relationship with Frieda is not what it used to be before, to our hurt. Alas this blog that hitherto used to be my therapeutic session where I could air my thoughts as personably as I could has become my albatross; my Achilles heel being my penchant for talking straight from the heart as I see it. How would I be able to write my posts without betraying to you all the anguish I, and Frieda, were going through, even more maddening when I was still trying to sort the conflicting emotions raging within me, differentiating between my ideals and the realities that presented themselves before me, pressuring me to make choices when I was at a quandary? I have habitually always kept my cards close to my chest, not letting anyone observe the way I prepare my soup until the final product is hopefully cooked to perfection. In other words I have kept you all at bay waiting till everything has been sorted out before opening the wide gates to my palace, to my anteroom lined with portraits chronically charting my arduous journey towards building this edifice. That was until I realized I stood the risk of losing the one channel, apart from my Lord God, through whom I have the luxury of expunging my fears and misgivings, celebrating my triumphs and achievements, however small – my blog and you my wonderful readers upon whom I liberate myself.

I have missed you greatly my dear folks. Being away from here has not been good for me at all. I have missed my ranting, my banter and your hilarious comments appreciating my work, good, bad and the grey areas. I’ve stayed away for so long I feel like I have forgotten to write, to pinpoint those beautiful little quirks we so often ignore in our pursuit of shelter, clothing and feeding; the things that make life worth living. Forgive my lack of literary form in writing this missive; I realized, after months of angst over what and how to write, that perfection lies not in the end product but in the courage and commitment it takes to stick through the process toward it. I care more about interacting and airing my views and experiences, within reason of course. In so doing I aim to make our relationship on this forum a little more interactive than before and I am excited so watch this space! I’ll giving out more details soon; this is a profuse apology for being away for so long. Have a great weekend everybody and very glad to be back!