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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Hiyaaaaaaaa!

Okay I am on my knees begging for going AWOL on you. I assure you it is for good reasons.I spent the past two weeks graduating from my African Leadership Initiative program, travelling to DC to interview the utterly delightful Madeleine Albright, America’s first ever female secretary of state and going to London to sort out pending work and personal issues.

I am do have a ton of stuff to tell you but it is holiday season and all l really want to do now is spend time with the shrimp, yanribo, orisa, omowe, oracle, the child and all the rest of my nearest and dearest. I therefore seek you permission to hold the thoughts and gist until the New Year. 2007 has brought me much wisdom and enlightenment with which l boldly go into 2008. I thank you for the great times this year and l wish you and all a merry Xmas and Happy new year. My Xmas gift to you? Asa’s new CD, a truly incredible body of work, buy it now and we can talk about it in the new year as well as about Madeleine Albright’s idea of a woman’s most important piece of underwear and, how much land a man really needs as well the Zuma challenge in Africa and…..oh shut up Funmi!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL!

I will return on the 3rd of January 2008.
Friday, December 14, 2007

Our Lagos

Found these pictures (The ugly side of Lagos) from PM News last week and I wonder what our Lagos has become.

Anyway, Lagos state government is thinking about Lagos (pics below) being a mega city in 2020. Hun! I hope it happens so soon

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A hunger for books

Hello people! This is one of the on going conversations Funmi is having. What is your take on this?

Super Squad

The Nigerian Super Eagles Handler, Berti Vogts released the names of the players for the preparation to the Nations Cup in Ghana 2008. In my own opinion, Nigeria can perform credibly if they can put their acts together and beat other teams in our group.

Another school of thought believes Nigeria will win the Nations cup in Ghana because Nigeria has won it twice in 1980 and 1994. Between 1980 and 1994 was 14 years difference and 2008 will be another 14th year we've won it last. Hun!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whilst FI is away

FI is away; she has been traveling since last week and will for one more week. In the meantime, she has asked that I post these illuminating articles (The Historical Origins of Africa’s Underdevelopment and All brains are the same color) which form part of an ongoing conversation she has been having.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Concert Fever (Not sure what this is about but I like it)

I really like Kanye West's music and I am pained that I will be out of town during his upcoming concert in Lagos. It is the sort of concert I would attend as it is doesn't sound like it will be an over priced, elitist, preening hole of over aged teenagers who haven't got the foggiest idea about who it is they have come to see. Okay so maybe I have been one of those clueless, (not over dressed sha) concert goers at least once before. Here is what happened.

Some summer morning two years ago in London whilst on holiday with the omowe (the academic, my BBF) the relentless suitor called "hey fumy (na oyibo) I've got two VIP tickets for you girls to the sold out Johnny Legend concert in Brixton tonight, do you want to go?" Now a little background, the relentless suitor has been in pursuit for the past four years and I would marry him just to get him off my back if he were not such a handful. There can be no other louder, crazier, completely, guilelessly thick-skinned human alive.

Miserly, Jewish and wealthy, I believe his attraction to me is the fact that "fumy is not an invoicer". I just think he is an aging geezer with jungle fever but he can be good party company, besides he wont take no for an answer so he is a recurring decimal in my life known with degrees of irritation and affection to my family, friends and frogs.

One of his things is to act more black and Nigerian around me and since I can be completely clueless about certain aspects of pop culture, I took the Johnny Legend ticket offer as one of his wannabe black and cool aspirations. Yes to my utter shame, I had no idea who Johnny Legend was; neither did the omowe who had once called Jay Zeee, Jay Zed and thought Ciara was Clara misspelled.
I told the suitor to call me back in an hour and called the oracle in Lagos. After the initial amusement at our ignorance, he orders us to haul our backsides over to Brixton and see the biggest new talent in town. We remained unconvinced and told the suitor to arrange to leave the tickets at the box office.

By evening, we decided, what the heck, we'll go see the concert, if we don't like it, we'll go to our favourite Ritzy cinema in Brixton to chill out.
The concert was packed but we remained impressed and oh the shame, went across the road to Kentucky Fried Chicken eating giant fried drumsticks. An hour or so after concert kick off, we casually strolled in and took our vantage position seats.
I am even more ashamed to tell you that as we watched Johnny do his thing and saw the frenzy and excitement he was generating, I firmly remained unmoved whilst the academic, always the cooler and more reasonable one warmed and opened up to the power and seduction of a new generation teddy Pendergrass.

Perhaps it was a carry over of the resistance to the bullying suitor but I refused to engage with Johnny Legend's music until as recent as three months ago after the omowe who by now had his two albums and a beautifully shot concert DVD persuaded me to just listen to his debut album. So one Sunday morning speeding down the 3rd mainland bridge, I popped in the CD and was hooked. What an amazing collection of songs and true original talent, totally refreshing. What an idiot I have been. The story is that he was so disappointed with the way the Nigerian concert went, he might not come back this way again but the good news is that (at least as at early this year), his girlfriend is Nigerian and he is such a gentleman that he insisted on sneaking off to see her folks in Ibadan regardless of his tight schedule, sebi, he will come here o pay dowry.


Strangely it was the omowe who gave me first notice about Kanye West, she had gone through a "fiddy" phase, even getting "caught playing it in her office by one of her students. That phase ended when she properly listened to what he was saying and for me when I saw the credit card swipe through a video vixen's cheeks in his video. The art began to grate. I read Time magazine's Kanye cover and thought, well Kanye does love Kanye doesn't he but I wanted to find out what he was about so I bought the college dropout and caught the bug. Last week, the oracle ripped the latest Kanye CD at jazz hole on Awolowo road and we continue to be fans. Being pro female, the omowe and I do have some sort of issue with the apparent disrespect of women but we are also lovers of art and the creative freedom to distort, magnify or contort mores, images, ideas and words with intellect, wit and imagination. I am aware that this is usually work done by very smart people and the context is perhaps better understood by older or/and more enlightened minds. The converse is the effect it may have on less tutored, younger and/ or impressionable minds. It is a thin and precarious line to walk because even though I get the joke with a line like "l aint sayin she a gold digger, she aint messing with no broke nigger", or the flagrant yabis of the workout song or even the personal conflicts laid bare in Jesus walks, I don't think my daughter as yet gets it and I am concerned she might celebrate those mores and think it is the cool way to be. On the other hand, I firmly believe in free expression and I fully accept my responsibility as a parent to educate my daughter about what is real and what is not and how to get the finer points of subversion without the necessity to immerse one's self in it. I of course have no idea if I will succeed but I know it would be a bleeding shame for the world never to have experienced the art of Kanye West or even Eminem. The same is true for Dbanj's tongolo, Femi Kuti's Bang bang bang, and Olu maintain's Yahooze. It is not a great work of art but it is a good 9ja pop song and can be read either as celebrating the 419 culture or just something that resonates with the aspirational Nigerian spirit. I have heard talk of not dancing to it because it encourages 419ning but I dare you not to move to the beat when you hear it (remember ijo shina in the early 90s?), if after listening to it, you do start 419ning, you were always a butt lazy, criminal minded so and so.

I agreed that there should be some control in airplay of certain music. Some others which are just done for the sake of shock, sensation and commerce, should be rightfully binned but all those irreverent but talented souls who walk the thin line between art and offence should be let alone unless and of course they cross that line. So who's got Borat's news book?
Monday, December 03, 2007

Snap

Aunty Funmi Iyanda, career role model Thisday pg 27, ha! If only they knew that you are stubborn, overworked so and so who……., that was part of a text from a friend of mine. Came in a I laid prone on my bed every damn bone and joint aching in righteous protest to the sort of physical and mental rigour I have put my body through in the last two weeks. A few hours earlier I had calmly got out of my car and punched the driver of the car who had just scratched mine and then had the audacity to come out and start banging my window in the throat. After which I proceeded to grab his shirt and shake him thoroughly. Of course he deserved it and it was great to see the shock on everyone’s face at the sight of a rather slight woman pulling proper punches aimed for damage, thank you Tony for all those kicking and punching sessions in the gym. Not having allowed myself to be pushed that far since age 9, l knew I was cracking so I have spent Saturday locked up indoors, sleeping, eating and watching mindless TV. What a difference it made and why do we always wait till we are near breaking point to stop pushing ourselves? Now, why the heck am I wasting time saying all of this even when I know that with the challenges of trying to build something that is beyond survival in this big bad wonderful city, it is bound to happen again and again. This is true for most of the adult population here. That we are not an even more violent city is a miracle or is it just that the violence is underreported?

This is not the news

Friday Nov 29th, 5.20am, I pick Tony up at Oworonsoki bridge and swing the strawberry unto the 3rd mainland bridge, we put the radio on Unity FM 102.3. I had recently discovered an early morning show anchored by someone without an American accent real or acquired. The anchor who calls himself area father stutters a little but only because he is trying to “tush” up his speech with a weird mixture of Jamaica patois and hip hop slang. I often feel like shaking him and telling him to just focus on his elocution and speak clearly because he is good the way he is and would be great when he lets himself be himself. What I like most about him is the determination to find the hottest new Nigerian music and play them, I also find engaging his efforts at motivational speak which comes off as pop psychology. I blame the new army of motivational speakers some of whom should have their mouths wired shut with steel threads.

The area father came on sans lingo and stutter to clearly state that he was putting a certain Segun from the female hostel of a college in Ijebu Ode on air to give an eye witness report. Segun came on and started to tell how cultists had invaded the hostel at midnight and proceeded to rob and rape the girls. He told of how the electricity went off so the boys could not help the girls thus he decided to call the police… we were listening with rapt attention when the caller’s phone went dead. Tony and I looked at each other and knew that the boy must have run out of credit. Area father makes some comment about staying tuned and puts some music on, 3 minute later Segun is back on phone and on air. The presenter had called him back and sent him credit for his phone. So Segun continues narrating how he personally called the only police number he had and it happened to have been the Ikeja command’s number only to be told by the policeman at the receiving end that Ijebu Ode wasn’t their jurisdiction before hanging up on him.
We then waited to hear details of exactly what happened, what state the girls are in, what the authorities said and so on but all this did not come perhaps because the presenter must be aware of the draconian broadcast regulators’ rules (invented and interpreted to suit any government in power) about maintaining public peace.
Rather telling, was the deep gratitude in Segun’s voice as he thanked the presenter over and again for the credit sent to him.
I know the girls will not report for fear of stigma and the school authority will try to squash the story for fear of recrimination. By the time the journalists get there everyone would have clammed up, Segun’s phone will probably be switched off for a while, the story may make it into the odd paper but not into the deodorized papers the people who have the position to make a difference read. Who then will do something abut those girls and the bring the criminals to book? Who am I kidding, who did something about the girls in the secondary school reported two years ago, the girls in Niger and all the other places where this is becoming a norm.

These are the thoughts racing through my mind when I saw the wheel cover slicing through the air headed in my direction. I intuitive steeled myself and simply ran into it and continued speeding down the bridge. I know it was armed robbers, if I panicked and stopped or swerved and get run off the road or just find myself slowed down for any reason, we would be robbed at gun point or murdered right there and then. I and a friend had once had a flat at about 10pm and simply just kept driving down the bridge the torn tire flapping, the rim grating and screeching along the road accompanied by sparks even as we silently prayed they don’t come after us on okadas.

As we drove into Onikan’s dawn chaos, I marvel that my hands are not shaking, I am calm, perhaps it is numbness, perhaps it is just a conditioning that comes from living in the city of god.

JWC update

So far, we have only got one confirmed donation into the account and one western union transfer. There is a shipped consignment of toys and clothes for the kids, which is on the way here from modupe, more about that later. I know there are at least 3 bloggers who want to personally work to galvanize support from their immediate environment and donate to the centre. I have been trying to find the time to agree with them on a strategy for this. Actually, l feel they should just do what they feel is right and I can provide information and access.

I must stress that the desire to help with the JWC was a natural reaction of bloggers to the swimmers story, I have years of experience with unconventional interventions and I know that you cannot artificially create a tidal wave and still be true. With sincerity and concerted work, somewhere there will be a tipping point that will create the kind of resources and influence with which we can make much more far reaching changes in areas that directly affect our pools of intervention. All l can ask is that for now, we anchor our spirit around the truth of December, which is a month of unquestioned, intuitive giving.
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Still swamped and fire fighting

Still swamped and fire fighting on 3 simultaneous projects to be delivered in December and unveiled (oh the mystery...yeye woman) soon. I am therefore unable to function beyond autopilot on anything else however I can still laugh at a good video and a cover story. My little brother sent this to remind me of why I used to punch him and this which is just cute.

Then there is this piece on Zanele, I admit I don't really understand what is sexy to the average Joe but I have always maintained that it is not size zero. Get a load of the rack on that chick, I want to see the red blooded male who will say no to all that milkshake, even I want me some (put your eyebrow down jo, its not what you think).
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

E Dey Happen Banking

One of my wise brothers call it E Dey Happen Banking. In this articleThisday's Ijeoma Nwogwugwu nails it on the head.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hello stranger

So sorry for the absence and lack of update on JWC et al. I am swimming hard against that darned tide and barely staying afloat. No worries though, will soon hit calmer waters.

I took a moment to breathe and saw this absolutely hilarious dating guide by kpakpando. Even more apt as the December wedding/homecoming season approaches, too funny.

Back with you soon.
Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another gem from Mark Twain, hilarious!











Another gem from Mark Twain, hilarious!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Keeping it in the family (nepotism? you get the name, I get the car)

Well since there is nothing sexy in the news other than the odd removal of shaki shaki governors and allegations of corruption, I might as well do this now that I may get away with it.

My immediate younger brother is one of those annoying siblings, a better version of you in every sense. He was always the prettier of the two, heck he was the prettiest of the lot (10) until the eye candy came along but that's another story. He is the nicer, funnier, more accommodating one. He is also the better journalist and if I didn’t love him so much, I’d hate him. One thing for sure, next time around, if I had a choice in the matter I would choose him all over again because my Mighty is the most loving, loyal and cool brother a girl could ask for. He would kill me for this but he's too nice besides I am the family bully. So here is Mighty's random reports on the media and entertainment.

No related, but this recent interview with pastor Paul Adefarasin may be of more than relative interest to you. Here are some excepts.








Monday, November 19, 2007

Just another manic Monday?

Monday morning in Lagos, the pace is even more manic than usual, Christmas is upon us I fear and woe betide the man (not gender specific) who is unable to buy himself and his family some joy this Christmas. Even worse, damnation be upon he who is seen to be unable to buy joy as measured in toys, travel, rainment and merriment.

Just before you run out unto that ferris wheel being spun around by a deranged drug fuelled anjonu, pause for a moment and ponder on this poem by William Yates

“Get all the gold and silver that you can,
Satisfy ambition, animate
The trivial days and ram them with the sun,
And yet upon these maxim meditate:
All women dote upon an idle man
Although their children need a rich estate;
No man has ever lived that had enough
Of children’s gratitude or woman’s love

No longer in Lethean foliage caught
Begin the preparation for your death
And From the fortieth winter by that thought
Test every work of intellect or faith,
And everything that your hand have wrought
And call those works extravagance of breath
That are not suited for such men as come
Proud, open-eyed and laughing to the tomb.”

Linger if you may on the last three sentences. Identify what true happiness is. Choose it. The choice often requires bravery and sacrifice but then what are you living for?

Just to emphasize the point, here is a zen parable

“A man travelling across a field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little, started to gnaw away at the vine.
The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.

How sweet it tasted!”

If you must die now as we all will eventually, focus on the good, choose to die happy.

Now you may go out to find and do fulfilling and enriching work that honors you and hones you abilities, learning and talents. Something that enriches you by enriching others. The strange thing is, people actually get paid for that sort of work….eventuallyJ.

At lunch, why not download and read this hilarious (Letters From The Earth) but thought provoking piece by Mark Twain.

It is going to be a great week!
Friday, November 16, 2007

Happily ever after

Oh by the way, I forgot to tell you, the speaker is married. It took all of 1 week but a wife has been found, sealed and delivered. Chikena! All is well that ends well.

Now to a really funny story, only I am not sure who should be laughing. Most of it happened on phone. Let’s ets all her Biola, she is a friend’s friend.
Biola: Hi Funmi, how now? I’m just calling to let you know that I am getting married next month o, so you must buy your aso ebi.
FI: HEY, congratulations, so you and Mike (not his real name) finally settled your differences
(Last month, I had been called in to counsel and hold the hankie in the latest episode of “Mike has started again oh” beating episode. They had been going out for two turbulent years).
Biola: Mike ke! That one na history jare praise God.
FI: You finally called it quits and you have found someone else and is ready to marry so fast? Good girl! Who is the lucky so and so!
Biola: It’s my first boyfriend from secondary school.
FI: Oh! You guys met again? How nice.
Biola: Met again? l have always seen him on the side now, l go to him for money when I’m broke, we have sex occasionally, you know, that kind of thing.
FI, So what has changed now?
Biola: The thing is, he has a problem with women; they won’t leave him alone so he can’t commit to one woman. His family is worried so they said he should marry me since I was his first girlfriend and they like me and I am Yoruba like him.
FI: But what does he want? What did he say?
Bola. He agrees now, he is not fooling me about the other women, he cant help that but he agrees that at least we have known each other since we were young especially when he didn’t have money so he choose me because yes his mum and family like me and he is ready to settle down now.
FI: If that is his story, what is yours? Why are you marrying him
Biola: (Deapan) Because I love him.

At this point, I meekly ordered my aso ebi and dutifully attended the wedding, the bride wore white. They separated 3 years later, his mother didn’t like her “barrenness”, he became violent and abusive, and she found religion. The last time I visited her; she had a curious book on her side table titled When God When?

Any other word but vagina

The next edition of Vagina Monologues promises to be very interesting as KIND with the help of the likes of Wole Oguntokun and Pamela Braide are planning a Nigerianized version. Let’s see how that will pan out. Meanwhile, Pam is collecting stories and here is how you might be able to get involved.

Temi’s pieces

We have been friends since one hot afternoon in 1993. It was in Idia hall at the University of Ibadan that I saw this 6.2 female with a body for days, flexing down the long corridor, humming Rum Shaker in my direction. I knew this was a kindred spirit and she is one of the most amazing human beings I know as I should since we have been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows our love and friendship firmly in tact. Sometimes I want to strangle the yeye gal for her sheer bloody minded obstinacy, other times I want to gather her in my arms and protect her from her own humane vulnerabilities and yet still other times I cant stop laughing at her madness. Recently I couldn’t stop marvelling at Temi’s latest expression of her near genius mind, a curious mixture of scientifically trained processor and artistic genius. If only she weren’t so bloody stubborn but then I wouldn’t love her so much.

One day I will tell you the story of the passion, perseverance, determination and sheer discipline that goes into the production of each Michelangelo bag and shoe but then you can see the creativity and attention to detail cant you.

Ban ban ban

Finally, the house has ordered NBC to ban the airing of any clip or any debate on the recently ended big brother Africa 2 on Nigerian airwaves. Apparently the house fancies itself to be the Supreme Military Ruling council which is its prerogative but such ill conceived knee jerk reaction negates the possibility of a robust in-depth investigation into whatever breach in best practises could have occurred and reveals shocking ignorance about how pay TV works as against free to air. More importantly it fails to address real challenges within the Nigerian media space, which encourages exploitation and abuse.

Have a great weekend. I am planning to vegetate on my couch watching classics from Tunde Kelani and Quentin Tarantino.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stop, download, grab your favourite drink and read slowly

One of the giants sent me this 46 year old piece by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Not a day has passed on the relevance of the issues raised, barring the bit about Russia.
Monday, November 12, 2007

The lover takes it all (expert opinion from ms I who saw all of 5 episodes in 92 weeks)

Last night during the Big Brother Africa 2 finale show, I, the shrimp, the giant and I suspect a large percentage of Nigerians had the odds firmly on Ofunneka and were as shocked as she obviously was when Richards’s name was announced. She never did recover her poise till she fell into her fathers (?) arms post eviction.

I had wanted Ofunneka to win because she was a strong, hard working girl, she obviously was not cooking and cleaning and counselling and dancing and crying and laughing as part of a game but as part of the entity that was herself. My brain recognized that fact and wished her well especially after the statutory rape (please refer to Linda Ekeji’s comprehensive post on this) fiasco. However there was a devilish little part of me that wanted Richard to win, as that would present many more twists to the tale. If Richard were to win, will he share with Tatiana, will he stay with Tatiana? Certainly not Tatiana as I have little doubt the air headed little so and so would have proceeded to share the loot with that retarded Richard. She did save him once from eviction offering herself instead in a modern day ode to some unnamed Greek tragedy. Now I do not dislike Tatiana on the contrary I thought she was an engaging, happy soul and a sexy woman. I was also persuaded to believe that she trully is in love with Richard. The twist came faster than I expected when she came out of the house and announced that although she did love Richard she had agreed with him that they would both go back to their respective partners if the said partners will have them back. At that point she lost me.

Fast forward to a gloating Richard after he won the $100,000 prize declares also that yes there is a pact that he and Tatiana should return to their respective partners if the partner would have them back. So what other stupid pact do the big brother Romeo and Juliet have in stock? The plot thickens even as I suspect that Mrs Richard might stage a comeback, $100,000 may just buy the lothario some stand by your man reprieve. So where is the love in all of these unless of course those two are messing with us? Is the joke on us? Will the wife come back? Will the fiancé forgive? Will the love endure, and who will get the biggest endorsement? Now you understand why Richard won don’t you?

Who is Eric Wainaina from Kenya? Any relation of Binyavanga? Good question considering the socio politic slant to his song FANCY CAR performed during the finals. It was also the question on all our lips as we swayed and “drove” along to his smooth performance of the song. It echoed sentiments that every African can relate with and had a nice catchy Afro pop/reggae/soul appeal. I really liked it. His band also appeared professional and the performance was streetwise but smart.
One bet I did win was that the closing performance can only be by either D’banj or PSquare. There are no better entertainers in that genre in Africa right now, always delivering electrifying performances whatever the limitations. Last night Psquare did not disappoint.

Btw, Ofunneka need not worry, what she needs now is a good talent agent to leverage all the name recognition and exposure. Fortunately she is smart, articulate, high energy and in possession of a pretty good body. She is also likeable and focused so good luck to her. $100,000 is nothing compared to what she can make as last night’s show proved that baring SA, most of Africa’s advert spend is from Nigeria.
Friday, November 09, 2007

IN THE CULT OF MAC

Spent the past few hours pimping my Mac, upgrading from 0S X Tiger to the OS X 10.5 leopard and adding iWork and iLife 08. Off course l intend to get the iphone but l am too squeamish about the ethics of owning one in Nigeria (as quite a few people do) because l know there must have been some magamago in the process of getting it working here.



Yes l admit it, my name is Funmi Iyanda and l am a Macoholic, Appoholic and Joboholic. I know I am an irritant who's bought into the whole "the underdog ethical geek wins saves the world" hype but l do like my hype with substance. The leopard? OMG! It's the sexy secretary with the killer bod and the intellect of a maths genius and the flexibility of a circus soleil acrobat, plus she is fun! So l have been preening and looking down my nose as windows, vista and linux enthusiasts one of whom showed me this little post and the ensuing yabis. I think you might quiet enjoy it.
One day the thinking, the offbeat, the different and the geeky will rule Nigeria. Or at least most of the economy. One day.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Much ado

The news this morning is that Mr. speaker is being accused of not having done his youth service and of chronic bachelorhood (don't laugh o), apparently a text detailing these grievous nation destroying offences had been circulated amongst members prior to Hon. Bankole's election as speaker. The speaker turns 38 today and is calling a press conference to address these urgent national issues.

Abeg na me don crase finish abi na dem? A man is being crucified for his marital status? A man who if we go by his qualifications must have spent quite a bit of time focussed on education and a political career and is maybe only just prime for marriage if he chooses it. What will happen if like Condi Rice a person with great leadership qualities chooses not to either marry or bear children? What about all the married fools (some with five wives and 20 concubines) who have led us into a quagmire? Of course marriage is good especially if you get it right but it is not a prerequisite for great leadership. Some may need to have children of their own to have compassion for others, but there are many who do not. More alarming are the multitude who remain evil despite producing a football team from their loins. I know men in high political offices who do not know which class their child is in and who boasts about not having seen the wife for months but pacify her with a new diamond earring when she vexes. Of course the allegation is shadow chasing but how low are they going to sink? Abeg guys, guys! If you are going to drown a person, find a real boulder to weigh them down, this pebble attempt is laughable.

As per the NYSC, you mean say anyone still dey take that shambolic waste of national funds seriously? It has become irrelevant and dysfunctional providing one of the last bastions of "chop up" for lazy contractors with friends, family and cronies in strategy positions. That said, l do subscribe to the ideal of the NYSC and believe that as long as it is part of the requirement for public service all public servant must complete it. Mr. Bankole does not have the age exempt but isn't there a clause about it being waived for those who have received military training? The speaker is a Sandhurst graduate so that might suffice, l do not know whether it covers military training outside Nigeria though. All those are questions he must address but this let's nail him attempt is too obvious and these "offences" are puerile.

As stated in a previous post l don't know the speaker from Adam and have no attractions towards him nor the venerable institution of marriage so this is no favour currying attempt.

He is unwittingly carrying the fragile hopes of my generation, as long as he pursues his job with integrity and diligence, we will support him, we will also ask hard questions of him to keep him on track. So down with the greying, paunchy, self-righteously married baying dogs and let’s get down to the business of legislation, starting with the bloody budget.

Come on Silvy

I have spent the past 48 hours with blotchy itchy skin and an irritable bowel and l blame Silverbird squarely. Now you all know that the galleria is one of my favourite haunts in Lagos but what is it with the recent bad selection of movies? Common Ben, Jide, Guy, Michael "fukus fukus" (in-house joke) guys! Enough of the mindless unfunny slapstick comedy cum brain pureeing b rated sci fi/non horror horror movies chowder we are being fed, I'm dying here.

From bad something (can’t be bothered to remember) to dark is rising and invasion which is the latest remake of body snatchers, l have slowly regressed into downing bags and bags (ate 3 on Monday) of sugared popcorn to numb my pain. The problem is l am allergic to sugar (a lifetime of living on it caught up with me) so l break out in itchy rashes and my weak knee joint aches. I know they must have commercial films to break even and there is a dearth of great films from Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood but please please mix it up ok or l fear l shall expire in a sugar induced seizure if l have to watch one more no brainer without a good script, fairish acting, above the line cinematography or great effects redemption.

Keep these dates

The CORA organized Lagos Book fair is here again. This is the schedule of activities.

Also, here is Wole Oguntokun and Bolanle Austen Peter's Theatre at Terra initiative
Monday, November 05, 2007

Big No No

The giant with the Big Brother addiction is away on vacation so I have not been given the usual updates or coaxed to watch thus I did not cotton on quickly to the unfolding scandal. The first person to alert me is an anti censorship, pro Big Brother journalist friend of mine and the level of her anger convinced me that something had gone horribly wrong.

The gist (I didn't watch) I have gathered over the weekend is that as usual the housemates were supplied with copious amounts of alcohol and got riotously drunk, woke up with hangovers then were assigned tasks involving even more ingestion of alcohol. By afternoon, the two girls Tatiana and Ofuneka (Nigerian) were comatose and lying prone on a drunk Richard who proceeded to fondle Ofuneka in the nether regions even whilst the girl was obviously too inebitrated to know what was going on, although her body naturally responded. Now, sebi you know I am a near flaming liberal but if this is what occurred, it is grossly irresponsible of MNET and the globally troubled Big Brother franchise has run its course in Africa. What Richard did is statutory rape, and all the underlying issues of uncontrolled promotion and facilitation of excessive alcohol consumption, rape and abuse promotes the proliferation of HIV infections and the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

Why did they drink all that alcohol? They want to fit in, win the audience and the tasks and eventually win a $100, 000, that surely is a form of harassment. As a media professional I know that everything and everyone is a pawn in the race to win ratings but to what extent? If the story is true, we must demand that the various regulatory bodies in all the countries to which BB is broadcast around Africa, look into the issue of best practises on the show, otherwise its time Big Brother stopped watching.

AT JWC

Wole Oguntokun and I visited the juvenile welfare centre on Friday and what I see is that beyond our intervention what is required is a total overhaul of the social welfare system especially as it concerns children. I am going to focus on trying to get information out of all the relevant government agencies and slowly start encouraging the sort of alliances that will foster those necessary changes. What will be required of us will be strategic and effective advocacy using the JWC as a launch pad. This is more mid term; the long-term objective will be to institute a functional social welfare system for children starting with Lagos.
What we need in the immediate is a volunteer who will work with me and start to the groundwork, update everyone on developments and knit the efforts together. Lets see who is ready to move beyond just talking to doing, yes it is a direct challenge to you. In the meantime what is needed most now is a vehicle for picking up abandoned children, moving some to orphanages and finding the families of others in far flung places. That and regular food, clothes, toys, books, games and DVDs to keep the children engaged.

Update: Alakara Juvenile Centre

Sincere apologies for getting back late to those outside Nigeria who want to contribute to the Alakara Juvenile Centre course.

Please find below the account details….

INTERMEDIARY BANK IN USA
STANDARD CHARTERED BANK,
NEW YORK, USA.
SWIFT CODE: SCBLUS33

CORRESPONDENT BANK FOR EUROPE
STANDARD CHARTERED BANK
CLEMENTS HOUSE,
27 CLEMENTS LANE
LONDON EC4N 7AP
SORT CODE: 60-91-04
SWIFT CODE: SCBLGB2L

BENEFICIARY BANK

FIRST CITY MONUMENT BANK PLC.
SWIFT CODE: FCMBNGLA
IBAN NO: GB55 SCBL 6091 0412 5444 58
ACCOUNT NO: 0101254445850 (USD)
: 0001254445801 (GBP)
: 5601254445896 (EUR)


FOR FURTHER CREDIT OF:
Kudirat Initiative for Democracy
Account Number : 0012080133940001 ( USD )
: 0012080133940002 (EURO)
: 0012060133940001 (NAIRA)
Friday, November 02, 2007

Nigeria's most eligible bachelor?

Have you seen him? Tell me you have seen him, did you notice the gap, the smile, sandhurst/oxford/Harvard education too, please please tell me he is single. It is almost midnight and I'm right in the middle of a tug of war between sleep and one of the giants. What is eating her I wonder as I croaked who? The new speaker of course, have you seen him? Do you know him? When are you going to interview him, is he single?

Its 7.40 a.m. now in Lagos and that scenario has been played out over 6 six times by different excited females so as an advocate of all that interests and give women joy, I called Hon Femi Gbajabiamila whose phone was switched off, I forget, politicians are not morning people. Why Femi, well it just happened that I ran into him last week at his wife's lovely and quaint café salamander in Abuja and he had Dimeji Bankole in tow.

As is his tradition Femi goes for my jugular on the effect of Ettehgate on the political progress of Nigerian women. I bark back and hard, Femi digs in deeper on other areas of my (in his words) rabid feminism and elements of the media, I prepare to go from bark to bite but then, in steps a soft but firm voice with a trace of a British accent bearing a pearl of down to earth logic. Who be dis I wonder even as Femi and I carry on, it's a game, and we both know it and love it. It called lets argue just to check the health of the old grey matter.

So ladies, that's my one and only encounter with the 37 year old new speaker, all I can tell you is that I am prone to feel people before I see them and what I felt from that encounter was good. For one he did not piss me off with some stuffily dressed, pretentious, supercilious, ridiculously exaggerated British public school accented brand of bullshit. He was courteous, smartly dressed in simple bùbá and sòkòtò, listened and made meaningful contribution to the conversation. In the interest of research I have dug up this little tit bit and discovered that he is indeed single, l do not know if he is searching, I shall ask this and other such nation building questions when I sit him down to a television interview. He didn't light my female fires as he seemed to have a Tom Crusoid challenge (I like my heels high) but it seem that generally we have got a good pin up for young, educated and progressive politicians, lets see how long the infatuation lasts or if indeed he will prove worthy of our national love.

On my part I am placated by the fact that we may have lost a woman (deservedly so) but we have hopefully gained a dynamic youth. Stop crossing your fingers.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

THE GOOD SOCIETY 2 (pretty long, cranial incontinence, you might want to download then read)

In my mind, the in sustainability of personal good model without a foundation in collective good is self evident, back to the equal fingers theory as against the clear progress that can be derived from setting a common yardstick i.e. the lowest common denominator below which non is allowed to sink as a nation, a community of humans. Once done, all able bodied will compete so that the extraordinary can thus emerge.

In examining the issue of collective good, a wise mentor of mine defined the five great malaise that must be eliminated and how. The man and a few others like that, men and women should be president of Nigeria.

Why the collective good? Because it is the foundation upon which you can build the platform that allows competition on the human (not necessarily humane) level, which promotes prosperity. Is it bleeding heart charity, hell no! It is the foundation of democracy, freeish (no complete free speech anywhere expect at the speakers corner in Hyde park with distracted pigeons in the audience) speech and the various form of capitalism. It varies in degrees of grey from the purer more socialist leaning light grey of some of Europe's democracies to the dark grey of American capitalism. There are even interesting grey blacks of the emerging 3rd way of China.

At the heart of it all is a sense of value as a people, the recognition of value of all individuals in the collective, the willingness to get beyond frustration knowing that true solutions come not from without of self but within which will presuppose that one knows what one's self is. This is tough for the African because much of whom we are is either not fully understood or accepted by us or has been misinterpreted and misrepresented to us and consequently demonised and abused by us. To unravel that l leave you to the likes of Wale Ajadi.

If we cannot learn and unlearn the finer points of the admittedly convoluted issues l raised in the preceding paragraph, l suggest that like the Singaporean experience we might need to be dragged willy nilly to that point of enlightenment by those who get it although l am loathe to trust in the concept of who should lead seeing as we have a system that throws up our worst. I am more sympathetic to the idea of how they should lead. However, the chicken and egg situation is, if we do not get the exception by accident who will begin the process of ensuring the collective good platform that will eliminate the 5 great malaise which will then foster prosperity, how is progress to be made?

The other point about true humility is recognising that you must do your part but you are not the answer, only a part of it. Taking that rather convenient cop out, l shall therefore continue my thesis.

This mentor of mine who revolutionized a sector of the Nigerian economy at a time discussed the 5 great malaises with me. My question to him was, have you always known this or is this a latter day realization because either way, l wish you can perfect that system by teaching your apostles, many of whom have added Constantine like connotations to your model the principle of collective good and the industry's very central role in the elimination of the five great malaise such that they can be even bigger and richer. Quick slogan, "don't do it for them do it for you, because when they matter, you matter even more". I like it. Okay l am travelling in my head again. So the mentor identifies the five malaise which l then define thus

1. Want: That which separates man from beast and which at the base level must be given space for achievable pursuit.
2. Ignorance: Often confused with lack of formal education. Ignorance
is lack of enlightenment about the right and wrong of structure and processes in a quest to prosper the society. Education should ensure this if it was holistic, universal, accessible and equitable at the basic level.
3. Disease: is the evil that can afflict the physical and mental casing which brings prosperity
4. Idleness: An aberration for man was made to work in harmony with the inbuilt nature of man to want.
5. Squalor: Man is the only being made or evolved (whatever you choose to believe) without a physical protection from the elements. He must have an abode that protects him from the elements and ensure enough comfort for him to function above base animal level.

To eliminate these we must recognised and engage the three levels of the society. The young, the able bodied and the aged. The young, below 16, male and female must compulsorily be educated in a way that is enlightening, enlightenment seeking, easy to access and maintain, engaging all senses and abilities and giving allowance to play and self expression. They must be fed, protected from and treated for disease. They should also be protected by enforceable law from harm and abuse. It is important to educate their mothers for no educated mother in our culture denies her child education. To get all to embrace such an education it must respect the rules of engagement i.e. respectful but not be limited by the culture of others and proximal to those to be educated as well as transparently tied to the fulfillment of human want and pursuit of happiness. The aged must be fed, accommodated appropriately, enabled to engage in social and recreational activities that gives a sense of worth as well as provided with health care for a token or free.

The able bodied must provide these needs of the 2 above. To do this they must be healthy and given opportunities to pursue wealth and wellbeing. They must also be taxed effectively for their privileges as well as their excesses. The rich in particular must be strategically and effectively taxed. For the able bodied to do these therefore he and she must not be allowed to be idle, even if it means that they will dig up holes in the morning and cover them at night. Going from manual labour, it means creating work (not jobs) such that you can pay them and then tax them. They are given a way to satisfy the human pursuit of happiness i.e. meeting your wants and the society is enriched by their enterprise.

Then the nay sayers will say, but we cannot afford jobs, then l say, but l have not asked you to give them jobs sebi you see how they sleep in the civil service offices. I have asked that you pay for work. If we asked that Lagos be physically swept clean do you know how many people will be required to do that and how long they will have to keep at it given the generation of dirt? If the banks know that these people WILL be paid at the end of the month they will make appropriate credit available to them which they can use to pursue the human want of coke and suya to impress on a date with a sisi which will ensure that the café owner re-evaluates his model to serve what the majority wants and distribute to the largest numbers. The banks will then be willing to extend credit to such an enterprise which will lead to higher demand for nama (meat) which some others will then preserve better and produce more of and the transporters realizing that demand is higher will need bigger trucks and alternative modes of transportation, the construction companies will see the need and the way to raise higher equity for infrastructure and so on and so on. It sounds simplistic but then ask Steve Jobs or Bill gate if their first desire was not a simple one to build certain types of computer. Lee Kwan Yu 50 years ago also just wanted to give paying work to his people so they can feed themselves whilst they began to educate a whole new generation to support emerging realities and industries.

Our problems are not intractable; in fact, they are remarkable in their simplicity.

Our greatest asset is our people if we effectively engage them. If you fix the people, you have fixed the nation. Enough of the plenty confused and confusing grammar, our challenge is not agriculture; it is farmers, not education but teachers, not security but policemen. How do we create an environment to produce the most enlightened, progressive, respected and rewarded farmer/teachers/policemen etc? Our elitist posturing and cosmetic solutions would be sad if it were not so laughable as here all fingers are equal, we are in a collective mess which is evident in our quality of life no matter how many gadgets we have or how far we try to run away from the old cities and villages. To clean it up has to be a collective mission that requires seeing our poor majority (otherwise known as our close relatives) as viable and equal humans. Whether in governance or private business and life, we can't keep serving the needs, real or imagined of a small bloated minority, such a model is medieval and went out with horse drawn transportation. It is also not sustainable, does not protect us at our weakest and breeds big egos with little pricks (male and female) that mess us all up. It is also an embarrassment in the comity of nations. We must adapt and evolve applying these base principles. Now simple as that may sound it requires bravery, as it demands a lowering of the ego, temporary discomfiture and the death of the big man.

Most likely you know all of these already, l just thought to mention them again as l quickly return to my day job of talking on television.



FYI

I will be visiting the juvenile centre on Friday at noon, who will like to go with me? Also for those who are out side Nigeria, the following are the account details for the bloggers for Juvenile centre funds.
First City Monument Bank (F.C.M.B)
Acct name: Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND)
Acct no: 001208013394001 (US Dollars)
Acct no: 001208013394002 (Euros)
For those of us in Nigeria there are two accounts

FCMB Acct no: 001206013394001 (Naira).
BANK PHB 014610200631
All to KUDIRAT INITIATIVE FOR DEMOCRACY (KIND). Please keep the
receipt and send a mail to me for every donation you make to the
account. You may do so anonymously if you desire.
C'mon lets do this and thanks for caring.
Monday, October 29, 2007

THE GOOD SOCIETY (be warned that it is a thesis so read the links and come to class early for top marks)

Last week I read this piece from Ebuka (big brother Nigeria heartthrob, lawyer, TV anchor and columnist), a few days later I received this link from the enigmatic thinker Wale Ajadi. He then commented. In response Tunji Lardner, who is an exceptional being added.


As read, I called up everything I had been sent or downloaded on China (buy yourself a MAC mate) and found this piece from Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla sent to me a year ago by Hafsat Abiola Costello. So 5am I am sitting in front of my computer thinking about it all and recalling two extraordinary conversations I had during the week as well as what I hope are the system perfecting intrigues in the Nigerian political scene.

Over the weekend I had attended the opening of another posh VI based café knowing it will soon go the moribund way of many before it, just as I knew before hand that my friends lovely but upscale and unsustainable exhibition on same day was going to get a lukewarm reception. The only event that had a product with the likelihood of success was a movie premier and an album launch. This knowledge did not give me joy, on the contrary it quietens my spirit mainly because I know that the solution is a simple but collective mindset shift, such that can ensure progressive competition on a lager scale which may translate into success stories such as the Chinese. Why will those ventures and have many more before failed? They aimed to service those who have money forgetting that majority of Nigerians cannot afford a 500-naira coca cola habit. It seem to me that the question of how to get those with money paying exorbitant fees for my goods and services is counterproductive in our context because there is only so far you can milk the one cow when there are millions of lean cows in the field waiting to be fattened and milked. The question to me should be how do I get money into the hands of the poor so that I can take it back from them. Hang on I no dey crase; I'm making a point.

I have never felt rich; in my culture one rich man amongst the multitude poor is himself a poor man (olowo kan laarin awon otosi, otosi ni ohun na). There is no denying that we are a poor nation, the rich wants to bury his mother, we all get dressed in our aso ebí, risk life and limb travelling on bad roads to dirt poor villages where he has recently supplied water and electricity for the purpose of the party. As the carnival train moves through the village, take a good look at the gawking villagers in their rags. Those are the nearest relatives of the "rich" man. This is true for all of us. Where and how does my father, my grandmother, my aged uncle and my "poor" cousins live? How many people are of necessity dependent on me and naturally unable to tell me the truth or be human equals with me as a result of such dependency. In fact where do I live? Wealth is not in the possessions you have but the quality of life that sets you higher each day from an animal. By this yardstick we are all poor. Admitting that to ourselves is liberty because next time we see that school in our neighbourhood where the children move to a corner every time it rains, we would feel a sense of shame and perhaps be galvanized into action by the thought of "see how OUR children school, not see how those children school".

Once that is settled, we have learnt the greatest lesson in development and greatness. It is the backbone of true humility when one truly deeply believes that the needs, opinions and interests of everybody else is as important as his or her own. Everybody counts, there are no messiahs, no special ones, just different people with similar needs which when met on a base collective level can provide the platform for productive competition on a human level. This no post modern Miss I's pseudo marxist/socialist/thinly disguised communist theory. It is the underlining basis of development for all functioning communities and nations of the world. Our mentality of personal good over collective good is the biggest impediment to development whether we choose the Chinese model or find the unique Nigerian model. Our continuous failures as a nation whether in terms of wellbeing of the people, or growing competitive brands and services which serve majority and therefore is paid by majority is a clear sign that the personal good model is unsustainable, medieval and an embarrassment.


What then is collective good?
Shall we continue this lecture tomorrow?

Class assignment? It is right there in front of you.

Class dismissed ☺!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Yes I'm back

Yes I'm back, no I cant function, too much pressure, everything aches so I shall take the day off and proceed to the beach to sleep and think. But before l go, quick update and a gift.

UPDATE

So sorry it took forever but l wanted to do due diligence to ensure transparency and protect all concerned. We are going to work closely with KIND to make one significant change at the juvenile centre. The account number to send donations to is 014610200631 (bank PHB) it will be administered by KIND and executed by myself, Amy Oyekunle, Wole Oguntokun and Pamela Braide. The decision as to what exactly the monies sent should be used for will be taken by vote, you choose from a shopping list of needs, we execute, record and document ba chikena ba! Now don't start me off on this path and then abandon me o☺, lets raise enough monies to do something sustainable and significant.

GIFT
My favourite Nigerian artistes are Yinka Davies and Asha. Both are original, immensely talented and sultry. The other thing they have in common is the difficulty of finding their work. The controversy around Asha's album is unclear to me and Yinka's seeming inability to turn out a follow up to the poorly distributed Eko ille album is a source of constant pain for me. They are both also an interviewer's delight wey dey" crase" well well in that fabulous way of the supremely talented. Recently my friend Jide found these gems from Asha online which we have downloaded and added to the others we got off her.

'See' you on Monday.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Whilst Funmi is away



Funmi is away, busy as a bee she is..But the "blog must go on!!!"
We found this funny video on youtube and wanted to share it with you.

What's the Wacko jacko craze and when will it end?

Enjoy the video... I hope.

Funmi will be back on Friday.
Friday, October 19, 2007

Picture this

On the radio in Abuja
Recently I have had cause to look at our archive of pictures and shows and I’m amazed at how much work we have done. I am also saddened by how much work we have lost. The first few years of the show were live and the off air taping were not preserved. Ditto earlier work with MITV and Good Morning Nigeria and so on. We however still have an incredible archive of work done over the last 6 years which will be the back bone of a project which we will be announcing soon. Whilst sorting out our huge picture files, Mutiu came across these behind the scene pictures from the last two years which we thought to share with you.

Have a brilliant weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Of Great Men

Location is one of those decaying pseudo elitist colonial leisure establishment that feeds the ego of the strangely wealthy but unaccomplished who gather periodically to fan the embers of nepotism and cronyism which guarantees their continued existence in the club of the rich and stupid. We have come to pitch an idea to a man so stupendously wealthy it is unreal. I know it is will not fly as the man probably hasn't got the foggiest idea what we are talking about and would feign indifference to hide his ignorance. He had asked for the meeting only because of my friend. Hers is a double FF cup and she is mixed race and based in London. Read top totty. As we waited for a response, some other such deep pocketed, distended stomach and dissipated bodies came in to much back slapping and lascivious "chop knuckles". The men had come in with a cache of the young, beautiful and lost; one was a Liberian "model".

Somehow the conversation turned to how highly desirable Nigerian men have become across the continent with the men thumping their chests Popeye like. Our "host" was wearing a $300,000 limited edition something or the other watch and boasting about his new home in Dubai. The others hailed him and started talking about their latest toys and sexual escapades. They then soundly condemned men from the rest of Africa calling them slackers and laggers. I felt it was my natural duty to point out that the reason Nigerian men were so popular is not because of their prowess but because they were notorious apa akotile danu (the mindless spendthrift who squanders the wealth of the family). Any fool with loose money can be happily dispossessed of such by anyone but look at what the men from some of those African countries with meagre resources are doing with their country. Look at Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, Cameroon and Egypt. When are we going to take the concept of greatness from the loins and muscles to the brain and heart? We did not get the job.

I am always alarmed to hear the way in which many men both old and young gloat about sexual prowess as a measure of greatness. As a male friend of mine said once, they talk about it with the same gleam in the eye and sense of accomplishment as he saw in a man who challenged the elements to cycle across Africa. I have observed even the lowliest of creatures and I see the way in which the male has sex with its females without much fuss or acclaim. Sex is good but sex does not a nation build, didn't one study show that Nigerian (read Nigerian men) have the most sex of all nations of the world. Stop grinning jo, are we not also top 3 in most corrupt, worse place to do business and live and other such dubious honours? If I were male (tufiakwa!) and I were of this sort of environment where the possession of a particular set of genitalia automatically qualifies me as a leader of all and master of universe, I would be terribly ashamed at the sort of nation I have built and certainly not go about draped in and defined by the toys made by thinking men of other climes or thump my chest based on ability to give pittance to young people whose options I have limited to have unbridled sex with my fat hairy arsed self!

Months later I am at a similar but spanking clean and well maintained establishment in a land far away, the men and women sitting around can buy my continent many times over. Most run companies, which produce the toys we so love but wore classic Seiko watches and actually listened as we talked. I asked an agile 55-year-old (thought he was 10 years younger) international media mogul what his hobbies are, oh I go rock climbing and surfing with my 25-year-old son he says. My friend's brilliant idea is now being implemented in another African country where the men do not exploit the young openly and strangulate the bright and gifted although sadly they are not quite as popular with women around the continent.
Monday, October 15, 2007

Equal Fingers

What a long weekend. Decided to rest, a concept alien to me as a true Lagosian, never mind all those jaye jaye omo onile (children of the land) all of us na settlers for Lagos bo. I took my daughter, her best friend Yanrinbo and my best male friend, husband to my best female friend and we visited my best man, a certain 68 year old resident of a community near Badagry called Mr. Iyanda.

It had rained a little so we swam to his house and back, the bleakness of the entire place reminded me of the story in the papers of the young man who had slit his father's throat in this neighbourhood a few weeks earlier. Heck I wanted to slit the wrist of whoever is responsible for such degradation until I remembered the pearl of wisdom from of a taxi driver friend of mine. He said, they say fingers are not equal but in Nigeria all fingers are equal o because whether you be rich man or poor man, whether you live for Amukoko or VI, na all of us dey swim enter house, na all of us no get light, na all of us no get water. I am therefore thinking about all the wrists that needs slitting as I read the stories of James Ibori's trial am, no trial am brouhaha. I am liking the stance of Yar’Adua on this and sundry issues more and more.


Back to Badagry, after the love, food and gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Iyanda and the eye candy, we left. Now Yanrinbo is a special child, a fact-seeking missile, lets just say she knows a lot of stuff and if I were ever unsure of any detail, I'd ask Yanrinbo before most adults. Yes she's only seven.

My mind is on the mindless traffic we must endure to get back (yes even on Sundays and holidays) as we leave but Yanrinbo pips up, Baba (to her dad, the best friend) sebi it is in Badagry they have the slave museum and the oldest story building. Can we go there? I groaned but it does seem unfair to deny a child whose idea of a treat is not candy but museums.

So we headed through an unchanged Badagry town. Same roads, same potholes, only slightly deeper in the past 15 years I have been visiting on and off. There are no signposts so we keep asking for directions until we arrive at the stretch of road that houses the "museums", slave port and first story building. As we slowed to a crawl near the gaudy "garden" built around the slave port, we were accosted by a young man who flags us in then demanded that we pay a 200 naira per head fee to park (we could have done so by the road and walked in). He then insisted on taking us round the 150m long stretch mouthing inane information. As we walked Mr. best male friend took pictures and then it happened. Mr. tour guide snapped, ”why are you taking pictures" we looked at each other and slowly mouthed "because it is a tourist site".


My mind is on the news report of some foreigners who are currently on trial for taken pictures in "security areas" "Abeg I no like as you dey take pictures o and why you dey snap the place wey the plank don chop?" This was on the pier that leads into the water, which marks the spot of slave departure, the wooden pier is decayed and looks like it might collapse. The whole place is so dismal that we decided to leave, then Yanrinbo squeals but we have not seen the museum! So we drove round the corner to where the "museum" was padlocked and shut, on Sunday! Soon another "guide" appeared and we cough out another set of fees per head, l refused to go in, as the place resembled a poorly appointed public toilet. The kids came out crestfallen, declaring that it was not nice and there was nothing to see.


As we drove away from the slave port, we noticed that there was a prison on the lot right beside the post office, which had a poster announcing double visa lotteries to America and Canada.




BTW, will tell the last swimmer story by end of week and give update on margerate and the missing juvenile centre. Have a great week.

Who YOU CALLING STUPID, STUPID!













Don't know if you have seen this but you have to.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The swimmers against the tide (story two)

Once there was a man, wiry, bright eyed, great smile and a voracious appetite for stories, he was a lecturer at the University of Jos, Once there was a girl, tall, slim, wild haired, bright eyed, earnest but mischievous, she was a TV reporter and producer. They met on the campus of the university, she restless and questing, he, calm and giving. It was suppose to be a pre interview but the stories were so compelling, she began to roll the tape immediately. I was she, altered in some ways, same in others, he is dead. So is the hero of my story, there was only one witness, she too may be dead but l hope she isn't, like me she may be altered but she is alive only because of HENRY TIESSER TIOHR.

It was his final year and he needed to prepare for the forthcoming exams so he travelled home in Benue to visit his mother and get some money. It happened on the way back on that long winding Jos Akwanga road which curls through a landscape of such grand beauty your senses are lulled into peace. A 22-seater bus, an impatient driver and a long trailer standing in the path of higher profit. It's a narrow road and the driver could not see beyond the tail of the trailer but he figures he can risk it once out of a particular deep curve on the road. The driver tailgates the trailer and overtakes him, there is an oncoming vehicle, he swerves off the road and the vehicle skids out of control, exploding in a ball of fire ignited by the ever-present jerry can of petrol in the bus. A week later, a middle aged woman wails at the male out patient ward of the teaching hospital in Jos, she is joined by relatives and passers-by who mourn the loss of her son with her. Suddenly a young woman from the female ward breaks through the crowd to ask who had died, she was told it was Henry who had been in a car accident a week earlier and suffered 3rd degree burns. The young woman begins to cry solemnly and she it was who told the story below which was then told to me by the story man of Unijos.

She told of how it was that Henry had been sitting in the drivers' cabin as a passenger and thus got out of the burning bus unscathed. She was trapped at the back of the bus and crying in agony for help. No one dared come near the bus as the other passengers were dead anyway.We would never know why he did it but Henry went back into the inferno and brought her out of the bus, they were both burnt and passed out by the road. They were taken to the hospital and she had hoped to get well enough to come over to the male ward to thank him only to hear this.

The story man told of how he and others had visited Henry on his sick bed and how he had told them about the first part of the story. Only he never mentioned the fact that he had come out safe only to return to save a complete stranger.Even after all these years I can still hear the perplexion in the story man's voice as he pondered on that riddle, why did he not tell anyone? Why did he not boast about his bravery, his manliness, and his feat?

As he rounded up his story, the story man sighed and said; "but it is just like Henry, he would not have thought it special, believing that it is the only normal human thing to do. Try to save another even at the risk of your own life".

The story man died young and the wild haired girl documented the story. When it ran on NTA Jos, the young lady did get in touch, she had got married, won a visa lottery and was headed for America. I would like to meet her again; perhaps in the fabric of her life I will find answer to why Henry had to die so she may live.

Today l write from memory, I am not even sure who has the master to the HEROES series l did on TV between 1995 and 1997 but l never forgot Henry Tiesser Tiohr and of the over one hundred extraordinary Nigerians I unearthed during that series he stands tall, forever young and beautiful in my memory.

BTW
Thanks everyone for the concern during my time out, I am burdened with a mind mightier than my physicality thus this bouts of illness but as my yeye brother Mighty says "àjé no go die unless tό bá darúgbó" (hint, KWAM 1), no clue? Where is your street cred? Ok, try this; "winch no die winch no rotten☺"
Monday, October 08, 2007

Time Out!

Hello!
Funmi is unwell. But don’t worry, she will be back on Wednesday.
This video (In The Know: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex) might be of interest.

Enjoy!

In The Know: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex
Friday, October 05, 2007

The swimmers against the tide (story one)

Once during the years I volunteered with the Strong Tower Mission, I visited the centre with Rev Dele George, founder of little saints orphanage to pick up an abandoned baby. She warned me about the deplorable condition of the place but nothing could have prepared me for the sight my eyes beheld.

A saddened colonial structure, standing dirty, sullen and quiet just a short turn off the chaotic Mushin end of the Abeokuta Express road. There on the left is a cell like structure with iron bars and a gaggle of miserable children huddled together. Children from a few months old to pre teens. Some crying, mucus running down the nose, some staring dejectedly whilst some watched an ancient black and white TV suspended high up the cage.

The place stank to the heavens, recent and aging urine and defecation mixed with unwashed bodies and the rancid smell of fear to produce a sickening olfactory assault.

As the officer in charge showed us the abandoned new born we had come to collect, I noticed a crying child, a toddler quieten and wipe the mucus with the back of his hand, then stretch out same hand to receive a plastic plate on which sat a ball of mashed up beans from an attendant.

As we left, I asked Mrs. George in alarm, are we going to leave them like that? We have to pick our battles Funmi she says, the officer in charge is a decent woman but there is very little she can do without resources. It is important we maintain a good relationship with the police so they cooperate with us in finding the children, bringing them and doing the paperwork for care and adoption. In any case they will never allow you bring a camera in here. We both agreed to send more materials to the centre and I silently resolved to get a reporter in there to tell the story in print. This was in 1997, the Abacha years; any criticism of governance was an act of treason.

For years the children of Alakara Juvenile Centre have haunted me. They come in all shapes, sizes and circumstance. Desperate, ill or demented parents abandoned some. Some are lost or missing, others are runaway children mostly from abuse. The centre should ideally be a half way home cum social welfare centre to rehabilitate abused or abandoned kids and return them to their families and in some cases to organized and recognized orphanages or even foster homes. The situation of the kids is sometimes so extreme that they require special care.
I monitored the centre for a number of years then simply forgot about it until recently when I heard about Margaret Ekpe. Tall, regal Margaret is the police officer in charge of the centre now. A former athlete and mother of three, she it was who got noticed by Stella Obasanjo (rewarded with a handshake and few wads of naira) on the chaotic Oshodi oke as the no nonsense traffic police officer who temporarily brought order to that hub of madness.


Margaret was transferred to the juvenile centre a couple of years ago and refused to be lulled into resigned complacency. The stories l have heard come from different sources of how she physically cleaned the place up spending her own salary, how she would go to the local market asking the women for food for her children and how she would fuel her own car and go in search of the families of the children until her car broke down and she started going by public transport by which l mean molue and danfos to unearth parents in places as far away as Ekiti oft armed with nothing but a sketchy address from a disoriented child. She removed the cage and separated the children and is trying to teach the attendants not to ignore, beat or harass the children. Children who include the 7 year old girl who was brutally raped by area boys , whose extended family does not want and whose irresponsible parents are separated and remarried to other people and therefore unwilling to be reminded of her existence. When the police commissioner noticed her diligence, he donated a generator and recommended her for a promotion, which would have taken her out of the centre, but she and others who know the story protested pleading that she be left to continue her swim against the tide.


The place is far from good, it is still a mess, but it is a mess that one woman is valiantly trying to clean up. It requires proper dormitories, food and clothing and supplies for the children, a vehicle, functioning telephone, volunteer doctors, child psychologists, nurses (who can all work from their bases as the children can be brought to them) and a committed citizens body or NGO who will monitor the activities at the centre.

Margaret, a poorly paid Nigerian policewoman, mother and wife is swimming hard and alone.