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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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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rantings of the fanatic

Abeg make una no too vex o but I wan talk pidgin today and I wan talk football. For dem wey no sabi pidgin as dem no be Nigerian or West African, una pele o, you for try learn am as he be correct language. You may want to ask a friendly Nigerian (no we are not all 419ners) to help translate all this. For dem wey be Naija but dey vehemently (wetin be pidgin for dat abeg?) against spoken broken English, mo sori fun gbogbo yin lokan kan (l dey sorry for una one by one, wa sere Lagbaja!). If na because dem dey form say dem be "buha" (butter), make dem stay dere after all everibodi for world don know say too much butter na clogged arteries and heart disease dey follow am not to talk of indigestion wey dey cause pile wey fit be de reason wey dose "formers" dey always frown up and down like morning shit. Dem need to go toilet. No be so I go one yeye "ayecious" (aye, world people, i.e backstabbing pretencious, capish?) event for Lagos wey bi say wen MC tell dem say make dem do ikira, dem begin look like rice and beans even wen some neva pass Murtala or Azikiwe airport since ogun kijipa, abeg clear road for jagajaga jo!

For dose wey no like football, I dey suspect say dem be de type wey dey follow fowl have deep intellectual conversation for road. As per dem wey ask why football again, dem no see yesterday match? Abeg AFCON na de biggest fiesta on de continent now, if I no talk dat one I go talk Kenya and no be everyday I wan dey cry. Me I be former card carrying member of SWAN (Sports Writers Association of Nigerian) and veteran of 2 Olympic finals, 2 World cup finals and 2 African games, how I no go talk football?

Dat match yesterday na wah! Dose Super Eagles no go kill person, as dem no win any match so far, dem bin don reduce us to permutations. If de Ivorians fit beat Mali well well, if we score 3 goals, if we use yellow card advantage, if Drogba pity him broda for Chelsea Mikel Obi, if… na so we dey turn dice. Me I kak for chair dey do like I no too care if Benin beat us but na lie, I dey sweat and pray say make we just score goal. Even if we go commot make de disgrace no too much. Una kuku know as our matter be for Nija, we know say we be omo ake (yeye pickin) for many matters but we no fit help to dey hope say at least once in a while dat pickin head go turn small for beta direction. Na so me wit my friends dey sweat and swear through dat first half as our middlefield scatter and dat Yakubu wey "fidi jo momi re" (arse like his mama's) dey mess us up. As Odemwingie (fine boy no pimple) ran everywhere dey try hold it together na so dat small boy Uche (he be like say the boy know say scouts go dey der) self dey try.

By de end of dat barren 1st half we decide say time don reach make we call our ancestors, na him one of de giants go wear her prized new official Nija jersey wey she bin dey save for wen she go Ghana go see finals. I begin chant incantations, de muscle begin to speak in tongues and de returnee begin sing "he's a miracle working God". In fact he be like say I see baba outside sef dey turn tesibiu (prayer beads) as he takes swings from his kettle wey he dey take hide shine shine bobo (star beer).

Wen dat German no gree commot Yakubu come go bring Nsofor in, we wan piss for bodi. Nsofor, Nsofor kini (u get to say am like Ijebu people), no be dat boy we dey shake for goal mouth be dat? And den as tings dey fit turn around sometime for football, Mikel Obi head dat beta cross from Odemwingie in and my people if you hear de screams and see de dancing, why me l no hold camera? I for get beta material for you tube. Quick we check the oda match with Mali, dem don score second goal and before you go say fatai rolling dollar, even Yabuku, "I no fit carry yansh" come score goal and den Ivorians kuku ma help us wit dat final goal to nail Mali. Una no see as de German hold body like plank without smilling wen the coaching bench lift am up? Se dem no know say na German? Anyways me I no tink say we need to sack am but dat na talk for anoda day. If he last for here and we use am well well inside Nigeria he go soon be like Westerhof wey don dey look and sound like papa Ajasco.

Me I know say we no deserve am and as usual our people don begin talk yeye say na we God dey wit and carry chest for air, waka like rooster de way wey we dey take vex oda Africans. De tin be say sometimes we just dey nid dis kin high moments to lift our spirits, make una humour us. Meanwhile one of my crase friends don begin bet say we go beat Ghana on Sunday and den go on to win the tournament. I tell am say he go wound o but I don dey collect de money so na wich side you dey?
Monday, January 28, 2008

Right to life and live

Talk about serendipitous events. Last week, a question strolled casually into my mind. Where is Bisi Alimi? It strolled out with equal measured insouciance. As I settled to read the newspapers, this story reproduced in PUNCH caught my eyes. I sighed at the many layers of despair, and desperation contained in Ama's unfortunate case but also at the delusion and denial in the perspective of the report.

As l read, my thoughts were broken by an email alert and I opened it to find a letter from an asylum lawyer representing Bisi Alimi, suddenly that thought came back, this time in a thundering rush, where is Bisi Alimi?

A few years ago, October 2004 precisely, when I saw my show plan for an interview with an openly (he had been outed by a campus magazine) gay young man, I decided to talk him out of it in fear of the consequences. He was adamant that he had important issues to raise. I considered all the options and decided to do the interview. On my part as a journalist, I decided to do it because of some of the abuse issues he had raised and also because it is my duty to raise important issues and give everyone a voice on a neutral platform. The fact that I interview an armed robber does not mean I am in support of armed robbery neither does interviewing a prostitute make me a supporter of prostitution. I have no dislike for any human or human group unless such a human or group becomes harmful to others.

How naïve I was, immediately after the interview (see clips) aired, Bisi Alimi was thrown out of his home, beaten mercilessly and had to go into hiding. On my part, I got heckled and sent hate mail and letters for supporting homosexuality. My Friday edition was cancelled by the network, the rest of the show was taken off the live format, all my guests and shows from that time are screened and censored and l was banned from ever raising political or certain social issues up until now. In fact one of the reasons I started this blog is to find a space to breathe, an alternative voice.

That is how Bisi became not just someone I interviewed but a human soul I became friendly with. By nature I abhor the trampling upon of another human for no offence to others or the community. Sexuality, gender, race, religion, colour and ethnicity in as much as they remain personal to the individual and unharmful to others should not be a reason for discrimination let alone harm.

During the interview he raised vital issues detailing how the culture of homophobia and silence curiously opens boys to abuse and affects the rapid spread of HIV and AIDS. He told of many men who are closet homosexual, bi sexual or just interested in same sex liaisons operating under ground and going home to unsuspecting wives. He also told of men in power who use young boys desperate for money, contracts and jobs for sex. He never accused anybody; just spoke about his own experiences, including abuse and his hopes for better understanding.

That did not happen, aside beatings, the threats to his life and loss of friends and family, he could also not get a job. I worried incessantly about him and began to feel responsible for his woes. Thus I never rebroadcast, allowed access to or uploaded (these clips are the first and only available videos) that edition of the show.

Imagine my delight when I found out that he had somehow made it to the UK and was in film school as well as involved with gay activism whilst in a committed faithful same sex relationship.

I was happy for him; at least he was where he might suffer discrimination but not a direct threat to life. That was until I got the email from the asylum lawyer. Bisi as an openly gay man will not be safe in Nigeria. It is okay if he goes on the "down low" but he cannot be true to himself and remain here. l have always found bravery in his truth for I perhaps misguidedly have always preferred the worst version of the truth to the best-told lie.
Friday, January 25, 2008

SPH (Strongly Pro Human)

It would surprise many that I have never read a feminist ideology book nor was I brought up in an environment or family where women, their opinions, desires and abilities were not considered as valid or important as the next human person. My first real exposure to discrimination or attempted devaluing on account of gender started outside my home after secondary school when I was thankfully pretty much set in my own stubborn personhood.

My pro femaleness is therefore not some rabid infection by foreign feminist writers but a reaction to and rejection of efforts to subjugate me as a human being on account of gender, an aberration as I am a descendant of strong independent Yoruba trading women. I extend this to attempts to limit any other human group especially the less powerful and defenseless.

The paradox is that we are very schooled people but we sometimes appear lacking in education. Thus even though we have many educated women, we very rarely display organized, strategy advocacy, campaigns and opposition to direct and indirect images, polices, laws and socio-cultural practices that limit women. This is true in other areas aside gender but I shall for today limit myself to that. For example an obnoxious bill on indecent dressing has already passed first reading in the house and if we don't quickly organize and act, they may actually pass a draconian, subjective, unimplementable but abuse prone law on dressing. Women will be the victims. This is just one. There is need for female friendly employment/workplace policies and in a gazillion other areas of life, education and family that will allow women thrive and contribute to a vibrant human community and nation. Whilst there is no bill in the house against child rape even with all the news reports out of many states scattered across all our geopolitical regions stating that girls as young as 3 are not safe on our streets any more. There is no bill on compulsory education of all children or healthcare for the elderly and young but there is a bill on dress which I hear was promoted by a woman. We dey crase true true.

Sometimes I lay awake half the night plotting strategies of how to employ private investigators to dig out the muck the instigators of such bills are trying to cover up or the fraud they are trying to distract us from or the evil cultural/religious practices they hide under false piety. That is one strategy but an even more effective strategy is to have men and women of true education and good sense to openly denigrate such a bill and mobilize into citizen groups to stop such arrant nonsense. As women are the most likely victims I expect that the loudest voices will be female hence my concern about women with enlightened worldview not being adequately represented in the media as well as many other professional bodies.

It is against this background that I am interested in the Nigerian Feminist Forum's meeting scheduled for Denis hotel in Abuja this weekend. I unfortunately got the invitation late and have tried to move mountains to attend but alas I have prior commitments in places far from Abuja. Here is hoping that a meeting like this will bring cohesion amongst pro female organizations, which will result in vibrant female interest protecting advocacy in Nigeria. I know a group of younger female journalists are mobilizing into an interest group, I fully intend to infiltrate the group and begin to nudge them into a strategic, informed and enlightened pressure group. In all of these, enlightened men of good sense are not excluded but very welcome. I often point out that we like to act like we are not part of a larger human community saying stuff like it is our culture. What culture? No 1, most of what is bandied as our culture is a bastardized, socio-religious misinterpretation of our true values and anything cultural but harms or limits the innate ability of the human to aspire and innovate is due for change, culture after all is dynamic. Until we serve notice on our membership of the human race, what is harmful to any part of that race is unacceptable. We must not continue to nanny captain cave man and his madam.

Now for some monkey business

Thanks to Dele for the link and Thomas Kuhn, for his book on the structure of scientific revolutions.


So it turns out Hope Eghagha is a man sigh! Thanks Ainehi. Whatever happened to gender specific names ehn? It is of course a good piece whatever the gender of the writer but I was so hoping for non mashed brain, puke inducing pieces from women that I was hoping Hope;-) would be female especially since the other writers on the page were female. Of course I put my big foot in it but then doesn't that emphasize the point?

I have since yesterday therefore been asking my newspaper editor friends (mostly male) why this is so. They insist that when the girls come in they insist on going to the fashion, beauty, family and food beat. Is this so? Not that there is anything wrong with those beats which can be written by anyone regardless of gender but where are the brilliant, edgy, irreverent, iconoclastic female writers and journalists cutting across a diversity of areas from politics to nuclear science or car racing? Granted there isn't a lot of that quality even with the male journalists but at least it is much better than the backyard kitchen banter that women issues, opinions and images are reduced to. So is it that the women are not stretching themselves or the industry is just pure testosterone? I would like the opinion of women in Nigerian print media on this.

Have a great weekend peeps!
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hope Rising

Hardly ever in the Nigerian media space do you see powerful and well-written pieces by women. It is not because there are no women who can write well or who have brilliant informed opinions about any and every subject under the sun. The new Nigerian female lights in literature and blog ville shine bright. It just appears as though the print media seem even more Neanderthal than other industries in Nigeria. Too often do you find imbecilic, sad, sorry, idiotic articles, opinions and stories of, about, on and by women. Pity about that as I grew up idolizing the like of Ama Ogan. A few women bravely stand out, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Ibim Semenitari and a smattering others.

Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find that the opinion page of Guardian on Wednesday had all three articles by women. The first one generated a sigh of frustration especially the line (in reference to the Gbenga Obasanjo saga) about "if his father-in-law was sleeping with his wife and she was a victim not a willing participant". Excuse me madam, child victims of incest or any other sexual crime are NEVER willing participants. They may become active participants because the abuser seizes their minds but NEVER are they wiling or consensual participant in what is an aberration. That is why I was so glad about the Lagos judge who refused to allow the family of an abused child settles out of court. The crime is against a minor who cannot defend herself and is therefore the charge and the responsibility of the state who must defend him or her. We must develop zero tolerance to child sex offence and begin to prescribe stiff penalties for offenders. Sorry I digress.

Anyways, back to guardian, the second article was good, raising important issues about the need to accept our areas of dysfunction and do something about it. The last one by Hope Eghagha was very good. It drives home the importance of doing away with feudal leaders and the need to examine, exhume and become intolerant of abusive sexual behaviours by men and women trusted with power and leadership. Well done hope, thank you Guardian.

People, if you find more well written articles, stories, features and intelligent interviews of, by, on women (not those over branded babes pushing something or saying what people want them to say) in the Nigerian media space, I beg l go like see am o.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Watch the ball

The oracle is one of those strange Nigerian men who truly absolutely, completely, unequivocally do not give a ****(insert your own palatable brand of impoliteness) about football, he is ignoring it. The giants are of course football mad and are itching to go see it, the omowe is only coming into football consciousness and will I suspect apply her usual academic integrity to become an expert on the subject in the near future. The Funbob is interested only as long as there are fun activities around it to participate in; currently she is moaning the sudden disappearance of men on account of it. I, in usual bipolarity swing between ambivalence and cell jiggling excitement at it. Its Football, nations’ cup, 22 men running around a colourful (love the Ghanaian colours inspired ball) inflated piece of rubber in a bid to raise a few millions of their country men into heights of ecstasy or pits of despair.

The giants and I are determined to see the last few matches live in Ghana. Thus far, looks like a change of guard is on course, the subduing of Nigeria and the humiliation of Cameroon by newer, younger, hotter kids in the Ivorian and Egyptian team respectively. Did you see Kalo hypnotize the Nigerian defence to score that goal or Zidan's run to goal? I am not going into the politics of preparation and the continuous search for and grooming of new talent, I just want to enjoy scintillating football and this tournament looks set to deliver on that thus I am turning my living room into a viewing centre, somebody pass the chicken suya round please.

You may have seen this....

You may have seen this video and the pictures but they are just so funny I have to share the laugh.

Out of the mouth of babes

Now you've gone and pissed her off

Monday, January 21, 2008

Between the Black Person and the Female Person

(Disclaimer: The opinions contained below are not by an expert on America or someone interested in being an expert on America).

If I had a dollar (not worth as much these days) for every time I have been asked what my opinion is on the American elections, I might be able to buy myself a Cartier Santos. Only very few people have asked about the Kenyan crisis or the future of South Africa under Zuma. It would not be remarkable but for the fact that the people asking are Nigerians, many of whom have no idea who Sullivan Chime is or that his election had been nullified. In a way I am not surprised as I used to be baffled at the passion and detail with which friends in the last national assembly debated policies of the Blair Administration even when they have no idea where Ileoluji is. It could be the power of the west controlled media, it could also be escapism but left to me the one thing I would love to borrow from America is her internal insularity and the tendency to see the world only as it relates to America and her "enlightened" interest.

Therefore in the race to the white (una hear that? White!) house, who will serve the African (dem no see us as sovereign, independent and widely divergent nations within a continent) interest best? The woman or the black man? Isn't it an interesting place America and the world (by virtue of America's power and influence) has come to? The next American president may come to a choice between the two most discriminated human groups in the world, the female person and the black person. Sure strides have been made in the emancipation of both, more so in certain countries and regions than others. I also do admit that it will be uncharitable to reduce Clinton and Obama to human statistics as both are strong human characters regardless of gender or colour but charity does not make a great copy. So which is America more ready for, a black president or a female president?

If there is one thing the re election of Bush in 2004 proved, it is the power of America conservative core voters for whom all these newly fangled non evangelistical rights, ideas and advocacy remains a confusion. It may be politically incorrect to say so but wouldn't America rather elect a woman person than a black person? All my right of left leaning, intellectual American friends are quick to support Obama for fear of being perceived as racist, uncouth and uncool but they are not only in a minority, there are cracks in their ranks.

As to the more charitable question of a choice between Hillary and Obama, my gut instincts say it will be Hillary. Obama may be the more likable young, handsome, rhetorically eloquent poster child of a progressive America (where in lies the lie, yes I know how that sounds) but Clinton is a reflection of America's uncomfortable truth. Dogged, connected, established, calculated, ambitious and effective all in a nicely coiffed exterior. All admirable if she wasn't a she.

Personally, I prefer Clinton. I do not find her likeable but I admire her, every line on her face, every battle, every position she has is earned and won in spite of the fact that she is not a lovable cuddly person. She works hard, she is knowledgeable, she has experienced public admiration, disdain and derision at different levels and roles (student activist, lawyer, mother, wife, first lady, senator) of her adult life and emerged, bruised but winning, hair blow-dried. I can only salute such a person. I am suspicious of the fact that the most important reason I am supposed to like Obama is because he has African roots, so what? I have not even heard a definitive statement about the Kenyan wahala from him. His speeches are too slogany which irks me as a Nigerian used to that sort of hoodwinking (vision 2010, 2025, change agents, change agenda, anticorruption etc, e bloody tc). I am also suspicious of squeaky clean public image or untested public poster children. That deep American drawl, 2.5 kids, stepfordy wife and goody two shoes rhetoric from a black man though understandable (no white establishment anywhere can digest a less dusted down black male) is Oreolly, Denzelly and motivational speaky.

As a Nigerian, I don't expect any of the candidates, including the now frankly uninteresting white males to favour me, however as an Africa black female person I once again lean towards Clinton. This after comparing their actions and positions on things like immigration, foreign policy and women's rights. I actually empathize with Obama because he cannot overtly play that African card too much or it will hurt his candidacy, similarly, if elected he would have to constantly prove that he is not unduly biased by his ethnicity. With experience he will learn to walk that thin line, right now, he hasn't got the experience. Clinton has had to walk that line regarding her gender and has found that balance and her voice.

America stands at the cusp of a very interesting reality; a new sort of leadership is required even if it is only on the surface. None of the white males bring that to bear, Obama would be great if I had more to go by in terms of experience and concrete action but Hillary is more deserving and perhaps better prepared, I like warriors and humans whose flaws I know. However, whether America will vote either of them against a fairly good white male candidate is a matter I am undecided about but I just feel that Clinton might be a more interesting new world leader going forth.
Thursday, January 17, 2008

Play the ball

The African Nations cup is here and the fever is building. By this weekend Ghana will be alive with colour, fire and the spirit of soccer. I cannot wait! This is a strategic Nations cup as it will serve as a window to glean which teams are good to go as potential African upstarts or comeback kids in the first World Cup Finals to be held on the continent in 2010. I am hoping and praying (refer to story below) the Super Eagles will be favoured by the 14 year pot luck theory (First win 1980, 2nd win 14 years later in1994, 2008, 14 years later, magic?). If we win perhaps we can re-enact the 1994 form and will to win which saw the Super Eagles in a truncated but spirited outing at the 1994 World Cup in America. The hope (refer to story below again) is that the factors will conspire to see an African team win the World Cup for the first time and on the continent. It could have been more than just mere hope and no other African nation could have had a better stab at it or deserve it better (in terms of tradition, love and support for the game, history and sheer potential) than Nigeria but please don't get me started on that track. I turned my back on my football journalism and administration career after the 1998 world cup.

As the momentum slowly builds, I decided to go and see the Stanbic Bank 5 a side ex internationals Vs Lagos state government executives march on Tuesday. What hilarity! There were such African football icons as Abedi Pele, Segun Odegbami, Yisa Shofoluwe, Joe Erico and more.

The Lagos team had the chief of staff (he still dey body for him o) and commissioners in various states of unfitness. Tonight there will be a trophy tour gala and on Sunday the whistle will in Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra to signal the unleashing of the antics of the god of soccer. I am naturally supporting the Super Eagles but if Cameroon pulls that "fighting fit male perfection team in tight jerseys" stunt again this year, I’m afraid I will have to switch allegiance, bring on the eye candy!

Bedtime conversation with the scrimp

Use your phonics and break the letters into groups, common, spell it.. sudd-en-ly, again, sudd-en-ly! She jumps and squeals as she finally mastered the word, the last on a list of 20. I really, really want to win the spelling contest mama she grins, pink tongue gleaming through the gaps left by fallen teeth. Well darling you just have to keep practicing over and again until you master the words and remember the principles so you can spell even those not on your list.

I know I will win mum, I prayed to God to please please with ice cream and sugar let me win. That's a good idea but it won't happen if you don't practice. But mummy, wont God just help me win? Is he not on my side? He is my darling but you see, He is on everybody's side including Emeka, Atinuke and Chelsea. Oh (wide eyes) so who will he choose? The person who practices the best and understands the principles missy, so, same time tomorrow? Deal? Deal! An hour later, I watch her get into bed and she prays to God to help her work harder to win and to help people who have no money so they can get food to eat and books to read. That's my girl! Hang on, could it be that the little imp has learnt how to tug at the right strings with me? That's my girl!!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Drive through News

Yesterday was impossible in Lagos. The traffic was a ferocious monster snaking through the length and breath of the city spewing deadly carbon monoxide into the beleagued lungs of the benumbed dezidens. I would not bother to mention it if it was not truly monstrous and if I did not suspect that this was no rare occurrence but our new reality. This is obvious from the sheer number of traffic managers on the road and how diligent they mostly were and the fact that there was no major accident, just a few older cars tired of the exertion, packing up in protest. The fact is there is no getting away from a radical imaginative solution to public transportation. The fact that most of the cars on the road usually have only one passenger or a passenger and a driver speaks volumes. Lagos will not be able to patch and manage for much longer, the city is busting at its seams.

Since I was stuck on the road most of the day, I did a lot of newspaper reading and news reports listening. Usually, I take the news in bits and pieces as news getting can be traumatic. I am either annoyed at the base level of journalism, the banality of the report, the horror of the stories or the arrogantly/criminally naive, and ill disguised, the efforts at fooling, insulting, bullying or cowing the populace by politicians, civil servants, religious mind benders and corporate crooks that most news reports reveal. At the end I am either debilitated with helpless or blinded with anger, both wasteful emotions.

The News in full

Back to school Ribadu

The ongoing Ribadu school by force drama leaves me strangely unmoved. I have interviewed and interacted with the EFCC chairman and I am convinced that there is no way he could be faking that near martyr fervour for his work and intense dislike for the man above the law. Many have criticised his methods and berated him for undue visibility, calling the EFCC a toothless bulldog. Aside the fact that I have not seen much done in the area of progress by many such arm chair critics, one most also note that hindsight is the luxury of the cowardly. At the time of EFCC creation, did Nigeria not need a crusader of Ribadu’s ilk to not only scare the pants off the stupidly thieving, but also to serve notice to potential protégés, give the citizens hope as well as buy some international goodwill? Could these have been done by “due process”? Ti ile ba njo, se a ma nlo pe alfa ni tabi panapana (when the house is on fire do you call the priest or the fireman?) Ribadu like some of the other hot headed, feather ruffling lights of the last administration were victims of a derailed Obasanjo leadership. Pre third term, Ribadu’s wars were mostly untainted but with Obasanjo’s blinding ambition I feel he was caught in the dilemma of whether to compromise somewhat and keep his job or simply resign. I do believe he meant every word when I asked him on tape once if he would prosecute Obasanjo and he unflinchly said yes. My theory (I like davin co code, go figureJ) is that he wanted to go with the flow, allow a few lapses to consolidate his position and entrench the EFCC constitutionally and then go for the jugular in a new administration. If I am right he and everyone else facing such a quandary must read Leonardo da vinci tryst with the hateful incensuous, Cesare Borgia to know the moment to quit. That said even I do not think he should have quit at that time when it was obvious that the EFCC was somewhat compromised.

Now we will all siddon look, as he goes on study leave, we will study the newish (sebi na EFCC man too) man and developments at the EFCC.

What would be good is to see a building on the success of Ribadu and a plugging of holes where his style fails. That can be achieved not by slogany due process but the sort of reverence for law and attention to details that true due process demands such that we see less and less cases of people submitting themselves for EFCC interrogation but such people simply being picked up by IG/AGF’s office after the EFCC has built a rock solid, airtight criminal case against them. Then we will see less and less sick, cry babies (why don’t they at least fix the prisons whilst in office especially there is such a high likely hood that they will end up there) walking away to freedom after a media trial. The attempt to merge EFCC and ICPC has cringe worthily mouthed by Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson of the kidnapped mum drama is not a bright idea. Let me reproduce what he said, italics are mine.

According to Dickson, “What I believe in as a person is that there must be harmonisation of the anti-corruption agencies or they should be merged. I believe strongly in that. EFCC and ICPC must be merged. We cannot afford the multiplicity of anti-corruption agencies doing the same thing, funded separately both in terms of capital and recurrent expenditure, doing the same thing. It is wasteful. It is best to keep all of them together so that they can concentrate and get better funded.

(So declares a member of the unwasteful national assembly)

EFCC did not initially receive funding and a lot of the funding still comes from outside the national coffers). Dickson, the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Bayelsa State (under the wasteful Alamieyeseigha and later Governor Jonathan Goodluck), described the EFCC and ICPC as children of circumstance which were created by the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo because of the weakened capacity of the police. (and the capacity of the police has significantly improved huh?)
Crime is crime. As a matter of fact, nothing stops the Inspector General of Police from directing anybody or any police officer under him to investigate any case of corruption because the agency that has primary mandate for investigation and prosecution and prevention of crime and protection of lives and property is the Nigeria Police. (yes of course, nothing stops him just like nothing stops us from wondering why this has never happened in recent history and what has changed to imagine it will happen now. Wasn’t Tafa an IG?)
The EFCC and ICPC are children of circumstance because the capacity of the police is so weakened. (I repeat, has this capacity been strengthened, as I recall, the police should have been the primary agency responsible for kidnap such as the case of the honourable’s dear mum, was a special force not needed?) And these special interest in crimes for which the former President thought and I believe rightly, is that we need an agency to specifically tackle. (Have these crimes abated?)
EFCC has done a good job, fantastic job. Ribadu and his men have done fantastic service to this country, which I think we must be grateful for. (Give him a medal, shove him aside, let’s get on with our business) Like everything human, I dont expect them to be perfect. The same goes for the ICPC. But I believe that in this era of due process, (new slogan) in this era of transparency, (aging slogan) there must be institutional transparency (newest slogan) as well. The EFCC and ICPC must be made to function together” the committee chairman added.

On the Acts establishing the agencies, Dickson said the National Assembly had powers to repeal any Act. He said only the CCT would not be left intact because it is a creation of the constitution.
He said:
The Acts will be amended and repealed when necessary. That is why we are a parliament. Parliament can repeal any law. The only law that we cannot repeal on our own is the constitution. We can repeal or amend any law. (Usually, this should be a long tedious process but I suspect it can be fast tracked whenever needed)

”It is a question of amending the EFCC Act and then repealing the ICPC Act and transferring all the functions and duties of the ICPC to EFCC or vice versa and the other one ceases to exist. All the officers will still maintain their offices. The powers are still the same.
The case of Code of Conduct Tribunal is a special one because it is a creation of the constitution and we have no powers on our own to amend the constitution.

The ICPC Chairman, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, had condemned the proposed merger. Ayoola had said the ICPC would oppose the merger, adding that each of the agencies had clearly stated statutory functions contained in the Act establishing them that would make merger impossible.

And may I add that the usual town criers have read the body language of president Yar'Adua and are giving him the same rhetorical whitewashing they give every president once they cotton on to his ideological leaning and temperament. They design the projects and media profile to match and deceive him into believing the hype. Truth is that they are in charge, owe no loyalty or allegiance to any one but themselves, will lead the man astray and then dump him to design a new slogan to suit the surface temperature of the new man and the nation at that moment in time.

That’s my conspiracy theory and I’m sticking to it.

Moving Awo

There were many more reports to get hot around the collar about but the one about the replacement of Awolowo statute by that of an unknown soldier took the akara for seeming absurdity belied by revelation. That anyone would so dishonour what is actually an inadequate tribute to the legacy of one of Nigeria and Yoruba lands most gifted and visionary leader is disturbing. One is apt to dismiss it as yet another sign of the idiocy of the garrison command in governance in Oyo State, hopefully to be redressed by a different administration but wait a minute!. Is this not an indication of the kind of ignorance of history, total disregard for finer points of learning, dignity and humanity as well as the crass vulgarity that so pervades many aspects of life? I heard the story of how Dele Olojede walked into a literary office and most of the young educated staff had no idea who he was. The Pulitzer was only won three years ago…..eeehm no vex, what is a Pulitzer? That hot! (I bet they know who made that phrase popular).

His father’s son

Since learning is not hot, scandal is. Just as I was beginning to crawl up the wall mentally in bumper to bumper traffic at 10pm, yes pm. I saw a late vendor with a copy of PM news and the headlining story was from Gbenga Obasanjo’s sworn affidavit in his on going divorce drama. He alleges that his father slept with his wife and that his father in law also slept with her and that he was not sure of the paternity of his children. He alleges that she slept with his father because she was greedy and continues to cast other aspersions on her. He fails to say why his father would do such a despicable thing.

That is what he said, this is what I think might have happened. His wife might have been a survivor of incest (plenty of that going on I can tell you) and she might have confided this in him as a lover, friend and husband. His father may have pressurised his wife into sex, these things happen. Now if any of these were true what would a real man do? He would have either supported and encouraged his wife to seek justice regarding her father and stop him molesting other young children or he would have removed her physically and emotionally from such a poisonous family, building a solid loving family life with her and cherished her deepest secrets even if they can no longer work as a couple. If the story regarding his own father were true (especially given the childhood trauma of his wife), he should have taken a gun to the man and dispatched him to the great beyond or again simply taken his family and walked out of such a dysfunctional family.

As it is none of it seems true, it looks like the tirade of a deeply disturbed, emotionally retarded and excruciatingly selfish man. He just appears determined to completely damage his wife’s reputation without a care as to the well being of the children they bore together. Even if by a long shot all of these were true why hurt the children? Why not conduct a quite paternity test and quietly divorce your wife and leave her to raise her children? Why ruin new lives? Even worse if it is proven that these are indeed his children how will he face those children and explain this madness to them when they are old enough to read the papers and affidavit. Why not a civilized separation and ensuing divorce after a few years citing irreconcilable differences. Acrimonious divorces are petulant, wicked and childish. Children need parenting not necessarily parents. Parenting can be done under same roof or different roofs but to take love and support from children in retaliation for real or perceived hurt on your person is the highest level of egomania, irresponsibility and bother line insanity. One cannot help but wonder at why Gbenga seem to hate his own father so.

Friday, January 11, 2008


As you can perhaps tell, I am running away from the hard issues this week. It may be my superstitious Yoruba core but I refuse to start the first work week of the year dealing with those. I see and hear of it all from Kenya to Abuja but I will not process any of it yet. On that note, let me give you ideas for a "not processing any of it" weekend for the slightly vain and mighty brave.

5pm Friday, get off work early and head to Proflex to tighten the jiggly bits and strengthen the heart for the task ahead. You can book a post gym sauna and massage to get the mind and body nimble.

8pm, meet up with friends and eat dinner at Piccolo Mondo, the décor and ambience is alluring. If you have seduction in mind, ask that they put out a table for two in the garden just for you and your victim. The soft lighting, the open skies and the sheer indulgence of it all will bring most mortals to their knees. Just watch out for the bloody mosquitoes! The place also transforms into a club from midnight.

11pm, head to the palms and to people viewing central News Café. Now that is a real "ayecious" (can’t help you there, too complex to translate satisfactorily) place. It ticks all the vain glorious, ego servicing and amoral Lagosian boxes and people just love it. Its location makes it the ideal runway/drive through/market place. The gals get the runway to strut their stuff, the boys the drive through to roll a fierce car and everyone can buy and sell what they choose all in full view of the alfresco dinning patrons and the window rangers staring through the blue glass. Inside there is a good enough band, wi.fi, flats screen for football and fairly well priced drinks by the islands' standards. I advise you to just stick to the drinks.

1a.m, depending on the type of person you are or you state of mind, head for Lacasa, Legato or Valour. Heck, go from one to the other for full measure. Legato is the most democratic of the three in terms of entry. It is the old CLUB TOWER now managed by Gloria Ibru. It retains a down to earth shabbiness that can be appealing and attracts quite a number of movie and music celebs. It is the place to go if you have nothing to prove to yourself or anyone as it attracts a diverse mix of people and ages. Even the working girls here are honest to god about their business and do not bother with the pouty, I am a part time model, part time "lag" (University of Lagos), part time idiot pretence. The band is fair but the DJ is really tapping.

Lacasa is the Holy Grail for those with blinding ambition to succeed, be noticed, be beautiful, and be happening. It all started with the young, newly rich crowd coming to dance salsa, drink and mix with their type but it quickly attracted all those who want to stab them in the back and take their jobs. From the aging lothario, to the newer rich, the supermodel, the Nollywood stars, the corporate call gals and the young business turks, they all do Lacasa. It used to be that the wives came too but these days they have been scared off with only the bravest putting in an occasional appearance. Lacasa is the place to see and be seen, it does drinks well but the dance floor is small and the old school music is actually the nursing home music. Please someone tell all the clubs that ladies night and the rest of the 70s pop shebang is no longer old school for many of us. I know now that my aunty Funmi stripes are well earned as l am an "anti" but even l am a 90s kid, somebody adjust the decades please and give me some rumshaker jo!

Finally there is the new valour, managed by the beautifully mad, 'one pickin, no mumu for house" Tanya (story for another day) Don't be deceived by Tanya's "oyinbo" looks that girl is a Niaja to the core. Now Valour is appropriately named for once you are over 23 years old, it will require bravery, supreme confidence and iron will to get into and stay at valour. This is youth central and not just any kind of youth; this is rich, firm, taut, perky, beautiful, handsome, cool youth planet. I do not know how mere mortals get in, l called Tanya to reserve me seats the few times l have been and even then it is still a hassle. Inside, the space is big, the people are young, and the drinks are expensive. The music is fabulous and cutting edge jumping from new naija music to rap, dance hall, techno, and all forms of crazy mixes. You can spend the entire night dancing non-stop, that is if you recognize the music. Valour can be anything from humbling to intimidating for the old (anything above 25 baby) but that is exactly what l like about it. You see a lot of youthful bodies rubbing up against each other and a number of young couples. You also see a lot of young independent souls just doing their own thing. This is against the grain of what obtains in most other clubs except maybe the newer Bacchus. Usually you do not see open display of affection, love or lust, not because these are not present but because it is usually directed at an unavailable person, or shared with many persons. This is why downtime club game is to try guess who is with who but pretending to be with who else. Also you see a lot of weird couplings like a preponderance of the older man with very much younger gal or the really old white geezer and really young attractive black girl. Everyone to his and her own but l have always wished to see more happy, open young coupling and Valour has that. I wont be going too often though as frankly l am too old not only to be waiting at the door to be let in by Tanya, but the sheer number of people sincerely saying "hi aunty Funmi, so you come here" is just too much for my fragile ego so lacasa is it o.

5am, head home if you live on the island, head to the mainland if you are mad (if you are going to do it, avoid 3rd mainland bridge and do Apongbon western avenue, also try not to take a flash car, one with a beat up body but great engine is ideal) or check into the moorehouse for a few hours, grab a late breakfast at the hotel or at Roberts or Cactus and then head home to explain your night to your parents, wife, husband or/and kids (everybody get oga). Saturday would be beach, cinema or wedding with the family.

In all of these don't forget church on Sunday to atone all these sins and just so you can deserve next Sunday's deliverance or confession, prepare for the week ahead with Sunday evening karaoke at SWE bar. Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008

All my girls 2

Apologies this is a little late. Now this is my list of women I am currently fascinated with. They are the ones I'd love to have to lunch, dinner and breakfast the morning after with.

Asa, (singer)
Reserved, mysterious, brilliantly gifted, fabulously grounded Asa (Eagle, real name Bukola Elemide). I met her about four years ago when she came on my show, she played her music, I was blown away, she spoke her timeless wisdom in that raspy unique voice, smiling shyly but knowingly through her glasses, quickly I became an Asa groupie. Beside the amazing talent, here is an ultra cool, dignified, wise young woman who is true to herself and comfortable in her own shoes. Her self-titled Album is incredible and a must buy, must play, must tell others about.

What will happen? She will win a Grammy one day.

Chimamanda Adichie (scholar, author)
Spoke about her before but every new encounter deepens my appreciation for the talent, intellect and character of this amazing woman. One on one she is razor sharp in wit and speech weaving effortlessly from one diverse topic to another. She is also funny, sexy and mischievous with that annoying ability of the truly fabulous to be self-depreciating but supremely confident.

What will happen: One of her books will be made into a feature length movie one day.

Madeleine Albright (professor, former. Secretary of State, Ambassador, company CEO and Author)
Met her summer 2006 and what struck me first was how stylish and fiercely intelligent she is. In the focus group we were in, she would play that game of "oh I am the old lady here and these issues might be a bit above my head" then suddenly look piercingly through those glasses always perched on her nose to make the most profoundly astute statements or ask the most brilliantly apt questions. What I like most about her is that brilliant smile and incredible energy, hard to believe that she is almost 71. Reading her book Madam Secretary and then interviewing her in DC office was an education. By the way she can do 200 sit ups.

What will happen: what hasn't happened? Latest venture is a new book (Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership), which is due out on bookshelves today.

Oyewunmi Oyeronke (professor, scholar, author, princess)
Brainy, sexy, funny, brave, royal academic. Prince O as she is known to close friends is a phenomenon to be experienced. You may start with her many paradigm shifting and gender dogma challenging books. Shaven head hips to slave for, fierce style and engaging passion for life and learning. She is dynamite to be around.

What will happen: you will read her books

Cecelia Sarkozy (pianist, parliamentary official, run away first lady)
Never met her would love to. That is the woman who turned her back on first ladyship, driving her lovelorn president ex husband into a rebound relationship with the younger, look a like, polyandry supporting (he he he), heiress, model and singer Carla Bruini. She finishes it off by taking off into the sunset with her PR guru lover in America. I love it! She must be a truly intriguing woman. In the world where women hang on to power and dead marriages by the skin of their teeth and are awarded unseen medals for the ability to persevere till they become a shell of their wonderful selves, I find Cecelia refreshing and the entire French soap opera tres delicious.

What will happen: sarkozy will marry Carla, whilst pinning away for Cecelia who will run into Obama at a function in New York, he will fall in love with her, leave his wife and marry Cecelia who will become first lady whilst sarkozy teams up with china to start a bitch war with America. No? Oh shoot! Americans are not quite so sanguine about affairs of the heart, sigh!
Monday, January 07, 2008

Resolution 2008

What l want: To be consciously happier, healthier, more innovative and brilliant.
How? Feed and pace myself better, exercise more effectively, nurture the meaningful relationships in my life, find a better spiritual equilibrium and continuously learn.
What my inner id says: Bollocks! Aka shio!
What will happen: I will continue to over work, battle sugar addiction, struggle to find balance in life and work, piss off my friends, kiss the frogs and laugh at my own continuous attempts at love, life and happiness.


I know some of my many labels. Rabid, ball breaking, man hating bra burning feminist being one extreme and a sex and the cityish fashion obsessed, man eating, closet lesbian vixen the other. I find both extremely amusing and usually I understand the corresponding levels of fear, insecurity or plain ignorance that fuels such labels. First, I will never burn my bra, which is an unspeakably stupid thing to do. The bra is the garment of illusion, fantasy, support and succour. You can tell a woman's confidence level by the type of underwear she wears. I have a full-blown underwear fetish and after Apple, Agent Provocateur and Rigby and Peller are my next favourite global brands. I do not hate men, on the contrary, I like men, bless them, they are deliciously non complex and thus great fun to be around as well as invaluable resource when linear effective thinking is required, they also possess the phallus which is necessary for effective consensual adult heterosexual liaison which is my preference. They are for the same reasons perhaps a little less challenging. Guys, believe me, I know exactly how all that sounds. Touché huh ;-)?

Women on the other hand are a completely different proposition thus I do love women or should I say I love the possibilities of full blown woman ness.

Perhaps it is because I had no female influences whilst growing up that I find women so fascinating. I can totally understand men's attachment to the physicality of women. There is such power and beauty in the way women are designed whatever the shape, size, colour or age. Pity that media images and sleek marketing has eroded many a gorgeous woman's appreciation of her own unique beauty but that is another conversation.

What I find most compelling about woman is her exquisite contradictions. The ability to be simultaneously strong and weak, wise and silly, heroine and victim. The most outstanding women are those who have reached the pinnacle of womanhood, an ability to understand and work with those contradictions being fully aware of the importance and power of her own beliefs, opinions, desires and voice, the will to use that voice and the confidence to laugh at it all and herself. On the other end of the spectrum is long suffering, self-denying, door mating, women distrusting woman, they are an incredible drain of energy and robbers of joy.
Little girls and young women are beguiling. Their innocence and trust in the world to love and protect them is painful to see, these l constantly want to hug, protect and educate. Adult women are complex in their deep understanding of the things that matter but can be infuriating in the correspondingly deep delusion about their role in making these happen, they l often want to spank. Older women have seen it, done it, kissed, and probably kicked it silly so they are magnificent in their strength and wisdom and l am constantly knuckle chopping (high five) them. All these are of course lazy generalization for which l should be frog marched but it may help to think of age less in chronology but in mental and emotional maturity.
Using the default of age to represent emotional maturity, wisdom either due to common sense or formal learning and humour from a great attitude to life or experience, women who have these qualities are of great joy to me and from all examples l know endlessly attractive to men. Such women are a rock in friendship and incredibly effective in leadership.

Having given you this rather tedious background shall we therefore rendezvous here tomorrow for my own list of the most fascinating women of 2007 and the women to watch in 2008?
Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The morning after

So I emerge today a little confused. There is some sort of uneasy comfort in neutrality. Uneasy as it is so unnatural, at least for me. How do you explain having no powerful opinions on the murder of Benazir Bhutto, the removal of Ribadu, the shenanigans of Ms Obasanjo-Bello, the abuse of so called child witches of Akwa lbom, the entire ebb and flow of the holiday season in the 4 very different cities I experienced it from. I am pregnant with information, ideas and thought that it is my natural prerogative to burden you with, seeing as my sanity might be jeopardized by the continued internalization of all such sundry.

However, back to that strange comfort of the balcony experience where I can stand anaesthetized and calmly observant of the actors whose sublime performances are only true so far as we buy into the construct that they are not only the most important part of the play but the writers, directors and managers of it, we being part of the they. It is all happening on a stage curiously suspended but mobile in the rolling tyranny of time. It is beautifully numbing to watch and were it possible, I would like to stay in that space but alas l fear that fool that I am I will jump on that stage and participate in that unending play the script for which no one seem to have.

You don't know what the heck l am on about? Does it look like I know myself? Lets just say I must go easy on the mind altering holiday season ingestibles. Curious, l only drink water but then does life itself not intoxicate?

Happy New Year all, its good to be back and of course it is going to be a brilliant year. How do l know? I don't. I choose.