Fact includes Faith

FACT includes Faith

If your faith is limiting you, go forward not backwards. Start operating with fact: God’s facts. 
Physics and this reality will tamper with our faith. For example, I know I am not supposed to be able to walk on water. So when I try in faith, I am already at a disadvantage.

You believe when you turn on the tap in your kitchen, water will come out. Because you know there’s water in your overhead tank. So you lather you hands, turn on the tap and put your hands under it. That’s not faith in the tap – that’s fact. You know it for a certain. (By the way, Lagos has thought me to confirm the “fact” that there’s water by turning on the tap first before grabbing the soap).

Jesus walked on water, not because he had faith. But because that is his fact. He knew he was the son of God and can do all things. He didn’t walk on water by faith, he did it by God’s fact. By God’s reality if you will.

A baby has a better chance of walking on water than an adult. Why? Because having faith implies you know the alternative and knowing the alternative tampers with our faith (i.e., we doubt). A baby does not know the “alternative” about many things. She might walk to the edge of a pool and inquisitiveness might cause her to bend down and deep a finger in it. Now her fact includes the knowledge that water is a strange thing different from the solid ground she’s standing on. Alternatively a baby might come to the same pool and just keep on walking. Because her fact at that point does not include the “knowledge” that water won’t support her weight.

There’s nothing wrong with faith. In fact, faith is good. But fact is better. Our faith can fail, but God’s fact never does. It is forever true and constant.

If Paul referred to the righteousness of God in us (Romans 3:22), which would help us be righteous, then we can refer to God’s fact (or appropriate His fact) as our believe to help us be all we can be, and not our own faith that’s subject to our senses despite our best effort.

Fact thus supersedes faith. I shall start operating in fact. Not my own fact (which barely feeds me not to talk of feeding five thousand), but in God’s fact. That remains always true.
So let us complete the circle. We are not denying the place of faith. In “fact”, we are saying God is ever faithful because His fact is ever constant. Put another way, I shall put “my faith” in God’s facts (and not in my ability to convince myself to “believe”).

And lest any man accuse me of heresy, I shall “be like bro” Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:16. (His previous pronouncements on “hair” are not law so feel free to disagree). In my case, it’s the wanderings of a sleepless mind at 3:00am.



It was hot
It was dry
It was so humid
I could cry

It was Lagos
It was night
It was Jos
It was bright

He was sweating on the bed
She had rashes on her neck
He scratched till it bled
She opted for a trek

It was hot
It was dry
It was so humid
I could cry

It was you
Like Sunshine
It is me
Seeking solace in moonshine

It was thundering
I hoped it would rain
My mind is wandering
No reprieve from the pain

Santa’s Stopover (in Lagos)

Santa’s Stopover (in Lagos)

That’s not a bad thing, is it? Some positive news out of Nigeria for a change. But still we need to explore how we came to make such a bold statement.

Let’s talk about Santa for a minute. It’s obvious that there is no electricity at the North Pole. And Santa like everyone else needs heat for himself and his working elves. The North Pole is a cold place. So for heat, Santa resorts to carting lumber from far and wide to his humble abode to provide heat and light for the elves to see by in order to make toys for all the boys and girls that have been good the whole year. But in these days of everything having to be politically correct and for very good reasons, Santa has had to be more selective in where he sources the lumber and how frequently. Unfortunately, the last time we checked, the European nuclear energy commission has not started issuing private citizens licenses to run private nuclear power stations. And in case you are wondering, Santa is an ordinary citizen like you and I: the law doesn’t recognize magic, or magical beings, so no special treatment is accorded to them.

On top of that, there was a mutiny (don’t blame Rudolf the snub-nosed reindeer, he just naturally found himself spearheading the mutiny as a result of his popularity) among Santa’s reindeer herd: they decided it was too much hard-work hauling wood from the far reaches of the planet all year round.
A “seat down” resulted in an agreement that Santa would seek alternate and modern power sources. There was once again peace in paradise after that. But Santa was left in a dilemma: how to provide heat and light if all the toys are to be made before the 25th of December.

But enough about Santa, let’s come down to earth – the real earth for a minute.  Nigeria that is. Lagos to be specific. A waterlogged corner of the state to be candid.

You see there is a rat in my humble abode. Over time we have come to some sort of truce: anything I leave out is fair game, in return anything that’s covered is safe from the rat’s sharp teeth. As long as the truce is respected, I won’t resort to more drastic measures such as “rat killer”, and the rat won’t chew my hard-earned professional certificates. In addition, the rat won’t invite more members of its clan to come hang out in my apartment. Fair enough I think.
This seems to work for quite a while until recently the pattern changed? In fact, even though I know that rats are dexterous to an extent with their front paws, certain containers and their contents have experienced some reductions which had me a little concerned not because of the missing bits but the far reaching implications that if it was indeed the rat that had been able to get into my child-lock containers, then I was in more trouble than I dare to imagine. (I found out later it was Santa’s elves trying to see if they can adapt to the local food but they found most of it ultimately too spicy for their “cold” taste buds)

So there I was all suspicious of the rat, when in fact I had a more serious issue on my hands.

You see, Santa had somehow got wind of the dispute between my landlord and PHCN (Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria). And the fact that while the dispute remained unresolved, any electricity consumed was likely to sink into some un-metered hole.
Thus parking up everything that goes into making the gifts and toys (including his army of elves), he had for the very first time in known history deserted the cold and lifeless north pole in search of warmer climes.
But of course realizing that I would say no to having an “industry” installed in my little apartment, he had resorted to some clandestine tactics: become nonpaying tenants.

I have to admire his tenacity though. Because surrounding my castle, sorry, my landlord’s house, is a moat capable of swallowing a 4×4 wheel-drive car whole. If you don’t believe me, just look at the pictures below of my car and honest I hadn’t been drinking. I just didn’t realize that the moat had had an extra topping of water.

car1 car3 car4 car5 car2

But what’s a little pool to Santa and his reindeer drawn buggy? Tyres might find no grip, but surely it’s nothing to the magical hooves of Santa’s reindeer.

Anyway, it’s obvious that once I and my other two housemates (my cousin and a friend) leave the house (without fail every morning usually before 7AM) , Santa sets up shop and his elves get to work making toys and running up my electricity bill. Under the mistaken believe that it won’t count. I can’t blame them him of course since there is no functional meter in any of the apartments.

You are probably wondering how I came about this tall tale about Santa running his toy making enterprise out of my apartment. Let me put it this way: how else does one account for the electricity bill below if not as a result of some huge industry concern running up the bill?


NOTE: My bill is the N102,773.54 (other flat occupants’ names have been redacted by me).

Below are just two (un)funny extracts from the letter above:

1. “… without prejudice …” Thank the heavens for “without prejudice”! If it had been “with prejudice”, we might as well have been asked to just hand over our chequebooks, and as far as I know Santa doesn’t have any bank accounts. I suspect his loot, sorry, goodies are probably hidden at the base of some rainbow by very grumpy leprechauns!

2. “… poised to serve you better ….”. More like “… poised to skin and gut you like a fish hombre!”

You might notice that the bill is for a month. After cracking my head trying to figure out how I could have generated such a bill given that the supply from the mains happen maybe thrice a week for the whole of say four hours per day and the fact that I am out of the apartment for most of the day, the only sane conclusion I could reach was that it would take something magical to run up such a bill and somehow draw the electricity from the nearest power station even after PHCN had thrown the off switch at their end.

The only magical being I know that still has a sizeable following is Santa.

Having come to this shocking conclusion, I tried to catch Santa in the act. But of course no matter how hard I try, my smarts were no match for the millennial-old Santa.

So one particularly exasperating day, I left a note on the dining table addressed to “Dear Santa”. It made me feel like a kid asking for a toy. Not that I wrote any dear Santa letters when I was younger though, it was something you see in the movies, because in those days, our “Santas” were mostly young men with obviously fake white beards who sat in a “grotto” into which we were matched one at a time. You more often than not never got what you really wanted because all the cheap gifts Santa had was in a sack by his side and you were likely to get cuffed if you ask for something outrageous such as a bike: that was selfish of course, because if Santa were to fit your bicycle in his tiny sack, how would there be space for the presents for the other kids who were in the line behind you with their parents?

Now here is the kicker. By the time I got home, there was an apology letter from Santa waiting for me, he started off by complaining about the heat. He hadn’t realized that the tropical bright sunshine came with so much heat. He then complained about the difficulty of getting good quality raw materials from the market. While I was wondering why he didn’t just have it shipped in, it was as if he read my mind already, because the very next line was a complaint about how difficult it is to ship anything into the country and the complicated route it takes to clear the goods even after arrival at the ports. He went on to express his shock that Santa was expected to pay inflated duty on imported goods all of which are going to end up as free toy and gifts to the children of the world. I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s because no typical Nigerian kid can claim to have received an after-hour visit from Santa or found a full hanging socks come morning. On the other hand, I thought I had better cut Santa some slack, after all the weather is so hot that we have no need of a fireplace hence no houses have chimneys so how do we expect Santa to get into the houses? Front doors are so uncool and who know what booby-trap is waiting inside the back door.

Unfortunately since Santa runs a not-for-profit NGO, the indefinite IOU he offered me is of little use: I think he forgets that unlike him, I have a finite lifespan.

In addition, I understand that in place of supplying new functional meters (which the landlord needs to pay for), the offer has been made for each flat to pay a flat fee of N15,000 per flat per month. Talk of being between the devil and the deep blue sea. Maybe we should say the leviathan (just needed an excuse to use that word!) and the deep blue sea.

Thus I have decided to ask all and sundry for the contact details of a “reasonable” and “reasonably high” PHCN official one can appeal to. If you are chummy with such a person, kindly “zap” me with his or her number (hey,w e are talking electricity right, so zap is not too out there).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fortunately, Santa has since moved on (he felt he was between a rock and a hard place given the heat and the mosquitoes) and I don’t see why I should have to pay for magical electricity I never used and which was somehow billed despite a nonfunctional meter. (But the house is still disconnected from the electric grid).

So if your child turns over his or her Christmas gift this year and instead of the “Made in China” label, it reads “Made in Nigeria”, and then looks at you inquiringly, just smile and say “Santa took a detour this year, honey.”

And while you are at it, please don’t forget to whip out a map of the world and show him where Nigeria is (on the map), because contrary to popular believe in some quarters, Africa is NOT a country!

Welcome Home


Welcome Home

There were lots of people from a certain tribe on the plane from Madrid to Lagos. They all seemed to know each other or possibly were traveling together.

I asked the gentleman seated next to me about the language they were speaking. He asked if I was a Nigerian and I answered to the affirmative. He then fished out his passport from his back pocket, opened it up to the bio-data page, showed it to me  and asked me to look at his name (Sunny OS*O). He then said, “We are the real Nigerians.”

His move to show me his passport instead of just telling me where they were from was highly suspicious. Besides, there was a lady screaming at the back of the plane. The lady had at least one Spanish “minder”. I noticed the group discussing the lady (with a woman remonstrating with someone else “that they felt that way because they were already successful” – I suspect the other party might have been un-supportive of the lady in distress). I asked the gentleman what was going on with the lady. He answered that the lady was being deported to Nigeria but was not from Nigeria. He seemed to be understanding of the Spaniards’ position with respect to deporting people that are liabilities to them as he added something along the line of “Even the Spaniards are hungry. They don’t want other people sticking spoons in their pot of soup unnecessarily.”
It’s possible this group was from say one of the border areas of Lagos for example, but the fact that it seems the woman was speaking the same language as theirs and the woman wasn’t Nigerian makes for some obvious deductions i.e., they were probably not from Nigeria either 🙂

So either they are all from Nigeria (and the lady in distress was just using being non-Nigerian as an excuse to avoid deportation) or they are all from some close neighboring country but claiming to be Nigerians. I thought I heard Ikorodu a couple of times but that may just be where they are headed. I hate to say this but the look and dressing of some of the ladies definitely put their character into question.

I may upload a recording of part of their conversation. They practically talked nonstop, were loud, and as soon as the seat-belt lights went off they were all over the place.

Some lady in the group who happened to be in business class (and who the rest of the group had questioned how she managed it)  comes to ask the chap next to me to help her bring down a suitcase from the overhead cabin.

The chap tells her (and turning to me jokingly for confirmation): “Me, a man with 4 wives. A woman can only be proud if her husband has one wife. You can’t be talking to me any-how.”

They started the party early as they had brought their own drink (gentleman next to me says “we are doing birthday” implying people should be understanding of the raucous).

home2 home1
I think the cover had “JB” written on it.

One of the ladies offers me a cup of water (she would be one of the dueling party below). “Bros. 10 Euros for a glass.”

I asked if it’s water. I laughed and said that’s a lot to pay for a small plastic cup of water.

She passed it over, winked and said “you are free.”

I sniffed at it. It was water. The stuff they were drinking had a pale yellow colour.  I drank it. I think it was just an extra cup they got when they asked the hostess for water and didn’t know what to do with it (cos she had a tray in her hands and that was the last cup on it).

They kept referring to one of their party as “chairman” or “chair”.

* * * * * * * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * *

Like all such gatherings, when the handshake gets above the elbow, there is bound to be some friction. There had been some teasing and flirting earlier.

Not sure how it started but there was some reference to the word “prostitute” several times during the subsequent heated argument. From what I could make out, it might have been the lady involved in the fracas that used the word (possibly on a lady-friend of the chap seated next to me who wasn’t on the flight). It seems the chap might have struck back with some reference to the woman’s son.

“I am almost 31. My son is 14 and I am proud of it. Why must you always look at my waist. Should I always be afraid when I am with you?!”

“When I date, I date for love. She’s with you only because of what she can get from you!”

“Why should you bring my son into this!”

(Lots of shouting from both parties, interspersed with input from other members of the group – mostly trying to pacify both parties.)

The chairman came over and talked quietly to the chap next to me for a couple of minutes. Other ladies in the party asked the lady to apologise to the man. Which she sort of did later.

* * * * * * * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * * * ** * *

After we landed, it appeared some people further back despite the tight confines of the Iberia plane (if I had been a couple of inches taller, it would have been impossible to seat straight in the seats) wanted to leapfrog the people in front to get out the door (this was despite the fact that no one had yet exited the plane and we were at the front of the economy section so nowhere near the exit yet. It soon devolved into a shouting match with some man threatening to beat up a lady. The lady retorted that there was security outside and if he lays a hand on her, he would be arrested. I guess the man reconsidered his stance and changed his assertion to the fact that he had a wife on board and would get his wife to beat up the other lady. From comments from others near them , I think the lady was at fault.

“Are you mad? …  Then I will slap you and I will beat you … Am I your mate, am I your mate. Am I your mate … You are stupid … Let me get you outside … am I your mate … I have a wife in the flight. I will tell her to beat you … I will beat your husband … You are mad! … Stupid somebody. … Buuulllshit! … You are stupid! …. You are very stupid somebody! … You are mad.”

A short recording (2 mins) below:

Welcome Home

Above all the screaming and yelling, I smiled and said to some fellow close by whose facial expression said it all: “Welcome home”.

Across the Bridge

Across the Bridge

A friend going out of town a couple of days ago had asked me to go get his car from his office (where he had parked it and taken a taxi to the airport). It wasn’t quite convenient for me to do so due to the location of the office. Anyway, I had decided I was going to go pick up the vehicle yesterday night but closed from work quite late (about 10PM). So I made up my mind I was going to go get the car this morning. I had more or less decided I would take a cab to his office though I must confess there was the beginnings of an idea that I might just walk there instead.

So this morning I got up and  hadn’t quite made up my mind which mode of transportation to take to his office (also I had to keep in mind that I had an appointment in a couple of hours). But while Whatsapping as I walked to the main road, I told a “friend” that I had issues with my car and that I was walking on the road and the friend commented that it was good and that I needed the walk since I was lazy (there is a background story to trhat so don’t take it out of context :-). At that moment, I made up my mind to walk to his office. So I walked all the way from a street off Bishop Oluwole in Victoria Island, across the bridge into Ikoyi to the old NNPC Building on Alfred Riwane Road. It took 50 minutes and I usually walk briskly. I guess I could knock off about 5minutes if I hadn’t stop to take pictures and admire the scenery.

I was basically walking on a workday in the opposite direction to the heavy traffic flowing into Victoria Island. I was in a T-shirt and a pair of jeans and I could see that some of the people in the cars looked at me curiously (I suspect some of it had to do with my taking pictures with my phone). There was also the fact that I was walking along the side of the bridge and at some point on the bridge itself since there was really no pedestrian walkway (does that count as jaywalking? I guess so. So is it a misdemeanor or something more serious?).

It also served as my exercise for the day.

Below are some random pictures I took along the way. Makes me wonder during the olden days when people walked from the “interior” of the country to Lagos (the Ocean). Some of the distances were 200Km to 500Km or even more. They were never really in a hurry though. Stopping at villages along the way and were usually received with respect that was typically awarded to strangers or road travelers in those days. They can usually be assured of meals and shelter. So if I covered say a kilometer or two in an hour, I can only estimate how long those trips took. That was the happy scenarios, but I am sure some people didn’t make the journey so willingly because they were freemen (and women and children) who had become slaves by virtue of their villages having been pillaged by stronger neighboring villages and they were on their way to be shipped across the oceans to foreign lands (a lot of them didn’t even survive the inhuman conditions of the journey itself and they ended up as food for the fishes).

Time changes everything.

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Swallowing drugs

Swallowing Drugs

Swallowing tablets with no water in sight. That title was an attention-grabbing “summary” 🙂

So today, I more or less woke up with a headache. It hadn’t improved several hours later when I took my seat on-board the SAA flight from Johannesburg to Lagos. I fished around in my laptop bag and found a little hospital-dispensed sachet of paracetamol caplets (or whatever tablets with the oblong shape are called). I looked towards the front of the plane and realized it would still take a while before the plane was ready for takeoff and I wasn’t likely to be able to get anything from the hostesses before then as lots of people were still filing in, putting their bags in the overhead compartments and taking their seats.

There I was seated with some gremlins playing heavy-metal music in my head.

I decided I should try and swallow the 2 caplets without water. I have done similar things before in the past but not frequently – usually with regular round tablets.

It’s not as bad as one would think but it is advisable to indeed have water at hand (then why bother you ask) in case something goes wrong.

I had read somewhere that the taste cells in the tongue is mostly at the tip and possible some along the outer edge (which I think I have more or less confirmed) and one could reduce the bitter taste of almost anything by avoiding contact with those regions of the tongue? So the main trick is to drop the tablet a little back on your tongue (not that paracetamol tablets are really bitter though). The next step is to make some extra saliva to swallow the caplet. This is a little difficult to explain but it should be natural to most people (after all people salivate easily without conscious thought at the sight or thought of some delicacy they fancy – but i understand that in the case of the tablet, nervousness may actually have the opposite effect). You just “work” your tongue/throat as if you want to swallow a few times. Once you have a little build-up, you then attempt to swallow the caplet. It may not go smoothly and you may need to “work” your throat again to “float” the tablet a little. Sometimes it feels as if the caplet/tablet would (or is going) down the “wrong” way, but you should be alright. Depending on the shape of the tablet, it could actually be quite uncomfortable going down (trust me, I have experienced this first hand).

Anyways, I “did” both tablets one after the other. And due to psychology of it, I started feeling a little better almost immediately even though I knew that the tablets have probably not even started to dissolve not to talk of the active components making their way to my head to relieve me of the headache.

The flight was OK except that the entertainment system refused to work for most of the flight.

Well, I did manage to watch Johnny Depp’s “The lone ranger (2013)” towards the end of the flight. But all in all, a reasonably comfortable flight on SAA. No one ever died from missing 6 hours of entertainment on-board a plane so what is there to complain about?

Have a lovely week!

Blast from the past: one of the ones that got away

Blast from the past: one of the ones that got away

Yeah. I know you were expecting something else.

I was looking for a particular document today and had to wade through several big envelopes. As usual I came across some of the old communications between myself and some companies I had tried to “get into” 🙂

I am including some scans from the NLNG “attempt” below:

I can still remember the NLNG tests. I scaled the first one in Lagos then “crash ‘n burned” during the second stage test in Abuja.

nlng envelope
The envelope the invitation letter came in.

Invitation to the first test above (let’s weed out the chaff eh?)

Second test above (we all now know how it ended 🙂

There are others of course: Mobil, SHELL, Chevron, …, hey! I have been around 🙂



One would have thought that by now I would be used to being alone. But you never really get used to the loneliness: you just live with it.

Another long Friday evening. I wondered what to do with the hours left in the day. It was only eight. Very few choices. I checked Genesis Cinema’s website and found that there was a showing of the new Star Trek film at 8:30PM and 11:30PM. I couldn’t make the 8:30, besides what would I do after the film ended. The 11:30 sounded more like it. I read a chapter of Getty’s biography, took a bath, got dressed and headed out into the night.

For a Friday on the Island, the streets were strangely quiet. I was at the mall sooner than I expected. I bought a ticket but then had to wait for about 40 minutes outside the hall. I spent part of the time “people-watching” the couples exiting the various screening rooms (some films had just ended).

I was the third person into the hall. I didn’t expect a lot of people anyway – not at that time of the night. The three younger couples (triple dating?) who had been hanging out outside soon came in. They were a boisterous lot. I hoped they would quiet down once the film starting which they more or less did.

I enjoyed the film. As usual, I stayed until after the credit roll. I was the last one out of the hall. It was raining heavily outside. There were a few people there as well waiting for the rain to subside a little so they could dash to their cars. Some friends talked about going club hopping. They soon went to their cars which were parked close to the entrance and were on their way. I waited a little more. At some point there was a lull in the rain, but it didn’t really stop. I moved as quickly as I could without splashing water all over my trousers and hopped into my car.

Ignition on, AC on, headlights on, radio on. I drove out slowly. I wasn’t rushing anywhere. The rain picked up again.

Just as I expected, the friendly policemen usually manning the main junction had given up and gone away. The roads were even less busy than when I had set out earlier. I pulled unto the express way and made good time to the Eko hotel roundabout. I realized I was going too fast as I came to the roundabout. I slowed down a little but there was almost no traffic at all.

My tires spun the water away from the surface of the road. I really didn’t see her until I was literally passing by, otherwise I would have slowed down even more and moved to the inner lane. I saw out of the corner of my eyes as she hopped back a little. Which didn’t help her much. The water from the road rose up and she got a full drenching. I saw her gasp as the water ran down her face and her dress. She held on to her umbrella and clutched an over-sized handbag in her other hand. Her dress which was too short appeared to have shrunk even more and her heels were too high: which was when I realized who she was or what she did for a profession and why she was there at that time of the night or morning.

Even as I stopped and pulled over, I remembered some tweet I had seen earlier that evening on my Twitter feed: “Regret is for wimps and the back-mirror is for losers”. I guess I shouldn’t have looked back: I shouldn’t have stopped.

But I had done enough harm in the past for which I couldn’t do anything about and what I felt at that point must have been pity for her on many levels: why she was outside in that weather; how uncomfortable it must be for her even without my dousing her with water from the road; and her chances of earning any income now that she was absolutely soaked.

I reversed slowly until I was level with her. She came to look in at the passenger’s side window.

“Hi.” she says, trying to smile.

“Hi. I am so sorry. I didn’t see you.”

“It’s OK. I guess I shouldn’t have been standing so close to the road anyway.”

“Hum. Hmmn.” Now that I had apologized, I wasn’t sure what to do next. The thought came to me that I was going home to a warm bed, while she would probably still stay there in the rain all wet and cold.

“Can I give you a lift anywhere?”

“Not really. I need to stay here you know.”

I knew. She was “working.”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say. She smiled. She had a pretty smile despite the mascara running down her face. She looked quite young as well.

I am sometimes impulsive. Some decisions in the past got me into my current situation: roaming the streets of Lagos alone.

“Well, you can get in for a while. Maybe until the rain stops or eases up a little.”

“Thank you. ” she said as she opened the door and got into the car. I tried not to look. The damp one piece dress had ridden up even more. I remembered my never-used gym bag was in the back. There was a little towel in there. Instead of going round the round-about, I drove straight into one of the side-streets adjoining it. The thought came to my mind that if not for the rain, I could expect police trouble. But then if not for the rain, I would probably be home alone already.

I pulled up in front of one of the banks. I got up and reached back over the seat and grabbed the gym bag. I fished out the towel and handed it over to her.

“Here. Please use that to dry up a little.”

“No. It will become dirty.”

“Don’t worry. I can always wash it when I get home. I am sure you are not too comfortable as you are.”

I reduced the AC as much as possible.

She took the towel hesitantly. She wiped her face, hair, arms, and then rubbed it down the front of her dress. I fiddled with the knobs on the radio because there was nothing else to do. She bent down and rubbed her legs as well. I noticed she was light-skinned. But she was probably toning as well. There was a white sheen to her looks which I could see even in the poor light.

She placed the towel in her laps.

“Thank you.”  She said.

“You are welcome.”

There was an uncomfortable silence.

I was trying hard to think of what to do or say next. I couldn’t help thinking about what would happen if some acquaintance sees me in my current position. The rumours that would follow. The shame. Thankfully, it was unlikely due to the time, the place, and the rain. Then I felt ashamed.  Whatever she did for a living, that was a person sitting next to me. A person I had chosen to help if only because I had caused her present predicament. A person with desires, hopes and aspirations just like mine. A person who for reasons I do not know chose to stand semi-clad by the side of the road in the cold and wet Lagos night while I had gone to watch a film at the cinemas.

I looked over at her. She must have noticed because she looked away from the windscreen and smiled as well. I tried to force a smile. My lips twitched but I didn’t think I actually smiled: probably a grimace.

We couldn’t sit there forever.

“Would you go home if I offered you some money?” I asked.

“Oh Ok. Where do you live?” she asked.

I wondered why she asked me that question but then it dawned on me that she had misinterpreted my question.

“Oh no. That’s not what I meant!” even I felt embarrassed by the speed and urgency with which I responded as if she was some sort of pariah!

“Oh OK.” her shoulders literally slumped.

“No. I didn’t mean it like that.” I apologized.

“Look. I am going home. I thought you know, if you have some money for the weekend, you can go home – to your own house. So you don’t have to work tonight.” It was actually early morning. The clock on the dashboard said 2:05AM.

“Thank you.” Silence. She fidgeted a little with the towel on her laps.

“We don’t have to go to your house. If you like, we can do it here. What do you like?”

There was an earnestness in her face that squeezed at my heart.

“No. No. It’s OK. I don’t really want anything.” I think I have said too many “Nos” for one hour.

“I just meant you shouldn’t be out in this weather. You might catch a cold or something.” It sounded lame to even me.

“Oh Ok.”

Silence. The DJ put on a popular track from one of the well-known musicians. She perked up a little and started mouthing some of the lines.

“How much do you charge?” I couldn’t tell if it was because I wanted to give her the exact amount or if it was just my curiosity that got the better of me. Probably the latter.

She told me.

“Is that per night or per … service?” my unease must have been visible.

She smiled and said “No. That is per service as you called it. It is a little more per night.” She reached out and touched my arm.

I don’t know if it was the suddenness of it or if it was something else, but I jumped violently.

She hastily withdrew her hand. There was a mix of confusion, and sadness on her face. Then I could see she was fighting the tears.

I sighed. Time to apologise again. What sort of person was I.

“I am sorry. It’s not like that. I just wasn’t expecting it.” Lame excuse. It wasn’t like she reached out a diseased hand or something.

“It is OK. It is alright.” She said.

I told her to put back her hand on my arm. She refused. Just kept saying it is alright. I took her hand and put it on my arm.

Silence. After a while she withdrew it.

I thought of how much I had spent at the cinema, and on what?

“Ok. Well, let’s say I pay you for tonight and tomorrow night. You can go home for the weekend right?”

Her yes was non-committal. I thought I knew what that meant.

The rain still hadn’t let up. We both looked through the windscreen at nothing.

I had suggested she stayed until the rains let up, and I just couldn’t ask her to get out now. Besides my curiosity was starting to really get the better of me.

“If you won’t be offended. Why do you do this?”

Silence. I guess she must have been offended.

“I am sorry. You don’t have to say anything.”

“It is OK.”


“My father died a long time ago. I didn’t even know him. There were 5 of us children. I am the eldest. We were poor. My mother sold dried fish. We couldn’t go to school. We had to help her by hawking the fish as well. We didn’t do so well. The fishes were small and few. We were told it was because the rivers were polluted with oil.”


“When I was fifteen. An Uncle came to our house and offered to take me to Lagos to take care of his children. I would live with him and his wife. And maybe I would be able to go to school.”

My mother was happy. For the first time in a long time, I saw her smile. That weekend she didn’t beat any of us. No screaming. No crying. No stories about when or if my father had been alive. It made me happy as well.

The journey took a long time. That was my first time outside our village. When we reached Lagos, I had never seen so many people in my life. He lived in Okokomaiko. He and his 3 children and his wife lived in one room. It was hot. Our mud-house in the village had more space than that room. In fact, there were 4 rooms in it. The children and myself, we slept on mats on the floor. He and his wife slept on the only bed in the room. There were plenty of other rooms in the house with other people living in them. There was always shouting and fighting. Over everything. To fetch water. To sweep. To greet. Everyday, fight, fight, fight. It seems they were all angry all the time. I don’t know which one was better. In the village, a lot of people were sad all the time. In that house, they were always angry. I tried to stay out of the way but it was impossible. I had to bathe the children, which meant I had to fetch water. There were more fights at the tap than at anywhere else. Some of the people living in the house were trying to get to work so there was always argument about who got to the tap first and how much water to fetch before allowing the next person.

Nothing happened the first few months. Then my Uncle started getting very friendly. He would buy me little things whenever he came home. I didn’t realize it then, but he only gave me those things when his wife wasn’t around. And if it was edible he would say I should eat it before the rest of the family gets back. I thought he just wanted me to enjoy more of it than having to share it with his three children.

The mention of food reminded me of my “dinner.” I had bought a thousand Naira worth of Suya (peppered roasted meat), a loaf of sliced bread and some soft-drinks on my way to the cinema. I found the food and offered her some. She first said no, but I pressed her a little more. We both ate slowly. I wondered if I had made a mistake by breaking her flow, but then she continued.

“Then the touching started. First it was hugs. Then patting. Then pinching. Then grabbing. I was confused. I told my best friend Angela who lived a few houses away. She laughed and said my uncle wanted sex. I said I wasn’t sure. That I had never done it before. She asked if he had been buying me things. I said yes. She said it was good. That I should give in. I asked about pregnancy. She told me about contraceptives. In fact, she gave me some pills which I hid in my bag.

But still I wasn’t sure. Then one day after the children were at school and my aunty had gone to the market, he suddenly returned home. He said he had forgotten something. He rummaged around the room. Then he put on the TV and sat on the bed. He increased the volume until it was very loud. Then he told me to come and watch the TV with him. I sat at the edge of the bed. He said I should sit properly or I would fall down. So I sat closer to him.

Well, his hand first went over my shoulder. Then his other hand went into the front of my blouse. All the while he was smiling and saying something into my ear. My heart was beating so fast I couldn’t hear what he said. I wanted to get away but it was like something tied me to the bed. That was the first time. When he got on top of me he was quite heavy. I just laid there. There was some blood, but apart from my skirt it didn’t stain anything else. He told me to throw the skirt away that he would buy me another one.”

I have been told I frown a lot. I have been told my face has that discreet fatherly look that can at times put even people who rarely know me at ease – maybe it was true, otherwise I wondered why she would feel completely at ease telling me all these: or maybe she just needed an ear.

“I didn’t enjoy it that first time. And the next few times. But after that I didn’t resist him at all. Sometimes I even looked forward to it. But I should have known we would be caught sooner or later. One day aunty returned home unexpectedly and caught both of us on the bed. We were naked. She took one look and started screaming like a mad woman. Fortunately her attention was mostly directed at Uncle. I quickly got into my gown and ran for the door. I think I would have been dead if she had caught me that day. Fortunately I was quicker than her and she was also on the other side of the bed berating her husband. She dashed after me but I was out the door before she could get to me.

I ran all the way up the street. I wasn’t sure where I was going. I didn’t even have my slippers on my feet. The street was pretty deserted at that time of the day, so not many people were about. The only place that came to my mind was my friend Angela’s apartment about two streets away. She had a single room and I was sure she would be in because she usually is around during the day.

I knocked on her door. She took some time opening it. I was still panting so she asked what the issue was. She already knew about my Uncle and I, so all I just needed to tell her was what happened that morning. Even though I was crying she couldn’t help laughing. She said I could stay with her. I ended up staying there for about two weeks. I didn’t go back home. But somehow my aunty had found out I was staying with Angela whom she knew slightly. Fortunately for me, the day she came with the big pestle, the front door of the building was locked. So she stood in front of the house on the road and started shouting both my name and Angela’s. Calling us Ashawo*. Husband-snatcher. Ungrateful village ingrate. We peeped out of the window but despite the crowd gathering around her, she didn’t look like she was going to stop or go away. Someone in the crowd suggested that we were still in the house. I knew sooner or later she would gain entry into the house. Some occupant was bound to return and open the door. It was also fortunate no one had yet suggested the back door. People were always eager to witness a showdown. I told Angela I had to go. She said I should stay. That we will just keep the door of the room locked. I wasn’t sure how long we could stay there. What if she decides to wait us out? I didn’t really have any possession except a few items of clothing Angela had given me. She had lots of fancy cloths. But most of them were flashy. She had told me during the two weeks exactly what she did even though I had been suspicious long before. She was a little older than me. She suggested I go to stay with one of her friends, Bimpe, in Ikeja who I knew quite well because she was frequently in Angela’s house. The girl was very friendly. Angela called her on her phone and told her I would be coming around, that she should put me up for a while as I had family troubles. The way Bimpe giggled at the other end of the line, I guessed she must already know part of my story.

I put the cloths in a plastic bag, peeped out the window to be sure my aunty was still out in front then made my way quietly down the stairs. I went out the back door and crossed the threshold to the back of the next house which had a small door that opened into the next street in its fence. From there I was soon on the main road. I joined a bus to Ikeja. Angela had given me Bimpe’s address.

It was a little difficult to find as there was no motorable road to the house itself. But the house wasn’t bad at all. And her single room was so comfortable. I couldn’t believe how neat and tidy it was. She even had an AC. She was very friendly. Even more than when I had met her at Angela’s place. You would think we were long-lost friends.

But that was only for a short while. You see, she went out every night and slept a lot during the day. She didn’t hide what she was doing from me. In fact, once she was awake, all she wanted to talk about was the men she spent the previous night with. She went into graphic details about what each one was capable of and the ones that couldn’t even perform – she collected her money anyway.

She started gently encouraging me to go along with her. I was scared. Not that I was very religious, but I went to church regularly so I knew what she did was not right. Also, she came home once and she was all bruised and a little bloody. One of her customers had become aggressive. That really scared me.

I started thinking of what I could do, and the only thing I could think of was trading. But Bimpe wouldn’t stand for it. She demanded I either start going along with her, or pack out of her house. That where did I think I was going to be keeping my tray of small items. By this time I had been with her for almost two months. She didn’t stop at that. Why did I believe I was better than her? I don’t mind eating her food that she worked hard to be able to afford. I didn’t mind wearing the cloths she bought for me. Angela soon joined her. I was shocked. I wanted to move out. But I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t go back to the village. I could only imagine what my aunt would have told the whole village about me. Also, I couldn’t imagine going back to live there.

I finally gave in and decided to follow them one night. It’s as if that was the magic word. They both became very friendly again. They even took me shopping for new clothes. That first night I was so scared. If they hadn’t been holding my hands, I think I would have run away! They gave me a couple of tablets that they said would help me relax.  It worked.

There was a popular street where they stood by the road side. I was so ashamed. The skirt was too short. The blouse was so small, I might as well have taken it off. I just stood there like a statue but they were very brave. Any car that slowed down even a little, they were practically at the side-window asking what the occupants wanted. After a while, one of Angela’s customers showed up and she left. Asking Bimpe to take good care of me.

Bimpe said she had to find me a customer she knew very well since it was my first time. One of her regulars showed up and he was eager to go with me. She pretended to be annoyed with him, but he said he would add something on top for her. He was gentle. I never saw him again but I can still remember him. He smiled a lot. He told me a lot about himself. I think he wanted to talk more than do anything else.”

I thought the same about her. I think she just wanted a listening ear and the money of course, not necessarily a “customer”.

“But it was hard at first. And a lot of things made me confused. The way some of the men behaved afterwards. It was as if they hated me. Yet before they were all smiles and quite chatty. Some couldn’t wait to get away afterwards. But I gradually came to understand why. They were angry with themselves for being with me (a prostitute) or maybe they were scared of getting caught and being disgraced. Angela thinks it is both. It was dangerous also. I regularly came across ladies who had been beaten black and blue by their customers. Bimpe and Angela showed me some signs to watch out for when selecting a customer. They said it can be the difference between making money or ending up in the hospital, or worse. I think I have been fortunate. There was lady that used to be on our street in Ikeja. She was friendly enough but I didn’t really know her that much. Then she suddenly stopped showing up. We learnt later that her body had been found one morning. She was missing several parts. That scared me silly. In fact, the day I heard the news, I didn’t go out at night. I was too scared. By that time I had got my own little apartment. It was a one-room affair but I kept it clean and tidy. I also got a little TV.

But the following evening, I got up enough courage to go. I didn’t see any other choice. I couldn’t very well return to my village. I can’t see myself hawking farm produce or doing the back-breaking work again with very little returns.”


“I don’t usually come to the Island. Though the pay is better but sometimes there are no customers. And it is too expensive to take taxis both ways when you are not sure what would happen.”


I thought it was a good point at which to call it a night even though there were several questions I wanted to ask her such as where were her “friends”. But I should be moving on to my cold bed. I had pushed my luck far enough. I wasn’t about to pay for what she was selling. As my brother would say, “If you pay once, get ready for a lifetime of addiction.” I wasn’t about to add that to my already unimpressive list of addictions – such as watching Crime & Investigations on DSTV; drinking that two cans of Malta Guinness every evening; eating what’s not good for me. You get the idea. So I was just going to give her a gift – no strings attached.

“Uhmn”. I said.

“The rain has stopped. I should be moving on.”

The rain had stopped for a while but I am ashamed to say I was enjoying her story and her company as a person – not as a prostitute.

“Oh” she said. She couldn’t hide the disappointment.

“The rain has stopped.” She repeated. It was hard to tell if she was truly just noticing it for the first time or just repeating what I had said for nothing better to say.

“Thank you for the money and the food Mr …”

“Kayode” I gave one of the many names on my birth certificate I never use.

“Thank you Mr. Kayode” she said.

“My real name is Rosemary.” And I thought she was Janet.

“OK Rosemary.”

“Maybe some other time.”

“Yeah” I guess not.

“Do you have a business card?”

“No. Sorry. Not on me.” The answer came out of its own volition. Borne of long practice. When I don’t want to give out my card. I felt a pang. Wasn’t this business? Or maybe business of a sort I don’t want so there was no reason why I should feel guilty for my response.

“Hmmn. Ok. Can I put my number on your phone.  In case you need anything.”

That was a first for me. I wanted to say no but then the implication would be obvious. I handed the phone over slowly.

She created a contact for herself and filled in her details. She handed back the phone. For some reason I felt as if the entry had “blighted” the phone somehow. Then I felt guilty at the thought. I made a mental noted to modify the entry later. I would add “roundabout” as the “Address” to her contact. That was hopefully innocuous enough such that any random person who happens to get access to my phone won’t read anything into it, but meaningful enough for me to remember who it represents. I don’t believe I would ever have a reason to call the number.


“Bye bye sir.”

“Bye Rosemary.”

She got out of the car, closed the door, smiled and waved through the glass.

I smiled, waved and drove on.

Regret is for wimps and the back-mirror is for losers: maybe not always.

I could see her in the rear-view mirror. She hadn’t moved.

That’s still the picture of her in my head.

One lonely person standing there on the street. On a dark, cold, wet Lagos night.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

*Ashawo – Prostitute

(15/June/2013 – 06/August/2013)

Strange days

Strange days

Saturday was OK. Cut my hair. I was at my sister’s place until quite late at night. The headache built up gradually from around early evening. It was all I could do to arrive home safely in the car. Rushed in and took a couple of Paracetamol tablets. I went to lie down until the “pounding” almost ceased. Watched several episodes of “The Good Wife” (a law series) . After re-winding one episode several times because I kept drifting off, I finally gave up, paused it and slept off.
Woke up on Sunday feeling a little under the weather and with some irritation in my throat. Went to the hospital later in the afternoon. The lady doctor examined my throat and wrote up a prescription for Paracetamol, Lozenges and Vitamin C. She told me their lab was closed otherwise she might have ordered additional tests (e.g., for malaria). She said if I didn’t feel better I should come in the following day.
Took the prescription to the pharmacy. A little room with a window where one stands to hand over the prescription note. The young lady came to the window with the drugs and went through how to use them.
“So, what’s the name.”
“Where are you from?”
“You are a pharmacist?”
“Which school?”
Some pause while I decided whether or not to …
“So what do I have to do to get your number or your pin?”
She smiled
“If you don’t give me, I will keep coming back.”
She smiled even more.
I got to the car, and decided to go back.
This time she was sitting with both her elbows on the table which was when I saw the ring. I smiled and said “Oh. There is a ring on your finger. I didn’t see it.” (Probably an engagement ring of some sort).
She smiled and wiggled the fingers on her left hand.
I said goodbye.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Monday morning I felt a little worse. By Wednesday the sore throat was in full swing. Didn’t feel too good either. Went back to the hospital on Wednesday after work. A young male doctor examined my throat, and asked a few questions. He said there was some infection. He also asked if I “reacted” to any drugs, Ibuprofen in particular. As far as I know, none. Went home with Ibuprofen, cough expectorant and some other antibiotics. He told me to take the cough medicine after I got to work and after I get home at night so as not to be drowsy while driving on the road.
I started taking the drugs but I guess I got a little worse before the drugs started “working” because I was having some chest pain whenever I coughed.
So on the Thursday, I didn’t go to work. I wondered why I was so sleepy. Then I remembered the cough expectorant was supposed to have that effect. I slept off and on.
Which was when I had the dreams …

I was in my sister and brother-in-law’s kitchen. Though the house was definitely not their current house. My sister cut up some vegetables and plantain on a cutting board and handed it over to the husband who was frying the plantain. We could see all the way into the sitting room.
She said “Peter and Paul Okoye are in the sitting room.” I could see them.
I said I was going over to tell Peter I followed him for a while on Twitter but stopped since he refused to answer my question (I actually followed him on Twitter for a while and he really didn’t answer my question – real life filtering into my dreams).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I was on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. I took my eyes off the road briefly to do “something” on my phone (either send or read a text) and promptly ran off the road into the woods. The place was quite steep but I managed to get out of the car before it went down the gradient and came to a stop way down among some trees.
There was some sort of toll-gate building. It was huge with multiple levels. It was dark, and the superstructure was mostly huge lumber beams. I went to stay on the upper floor. The place had that post-apocalyptic feel to it (loneliness, degradation, age, etc.). I could see out into the woods but couldn’t quite see the car.
Then it started to rain.
There was a huge explosion and fire burning in the trees. For some reason, I realized it was my car.
I decided to go look at the car after the rain.
I made my way down to the lower levels (clambering between the wooden beams) after the rain. I had the feeling that I was trespassing.
Some fellow was down there and he said that someone’s car had caught fire. I didn’t have to go all the way because I could still see the fire burning through the trees, though not as high as it had been originally.
There was a second person as well (not sure if I saw him or “felt” him).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The drugs are definitely working. The discomfort in my throat is more or less gone, but I still feel a little under the weather.
It’s Friday and I have a meeting. My sore throat is almost completely gone. My voice is a still a little hoarse. On my way back to the office after the meeting I spied a couple of people roasting/cooking fresh corn (maize) by the road side. I pulled over in front of a building. The security guard came up to the car and insisted the parking space was for their staff. I told him I was going to be gone for 2 minutes: just to buy corn a few meters away. He said that’s how some people would say the same thing and then disappear into the nearby market. I repeated that I would soon be back.
I was gone for about 5 minutes.
As I got into the car, he came up and asked if I had any corn for him too.
I asked if he wanted corn or money. He said either would do.
I gave him N70. He thanked me and helped watch the road while I reversed out of the parking lot. Actually no cars were coming my way.

I got to the office, had lunch and wrote this.

Maybe I will go to see a film later in the evening with a colleague. He had called earlier to see if we could arrange something. I guess he needs a break from the the wife and kids 🙂

The Year He died

The Year He died

It rained the year he died
Big drops
From God’s eyes
Up in the skies

I slept the year he died
Strange dreams
No seams
Running together like cloth reams village streams

I drove the year he died
Lagos, Ibadan, Ilesha
Four wheels
Petrol Bills

I laughed the year he died
No memories why
Strange looks
Many moods and song hooks

I cried the year he died
I wonder why
I died the year he died
They wondered why

I lived the year he died
Words, whispers
Remembrance, hope, solitude, multitude
Heaven – gratitude


19:30pm 22/05/2013