How Reading Impacts Knowledge

How Reading Impacts Knowledge

Reading, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, is defined as the process or act of looking at and understanding the meaning of written or printed word or symbols. The concept of reading is to learn; impact knowledge; to grow; to emphasise; to understand; to marvel, and to wonder. Reading is the root of strength of an individual even of a nation, hundreds of millions is allocated towards clothing and cosmetic just to take care of our outward and physical appearances. It is just a pity and very unfortunate that very little amount of Naira is spent on our inward strength which includes knowledge.

Reading really impacts knowledge. It helps in developing our cognitive domain which gives us the ability to solve problems and generate creative ideas. I personally, can now boast of a mind that can generate many thoughts per minute, per hour and per day. Not thoughts that can change my life alone but also of those living around me and my nation as a well. Reading also helps us in developing habits and virtues that can change our thoughts and help us live a life worth emulating.

Reading indeed is a fountain of knowledge. When we read we get unlimited knowledge and information. Continual reading is a major source of knowledge and information, it is something important in our life and our major key to success in life. Reading as a process and science has helped me acquire many forms of knowledge that has improved my personal thinking and enhanced my skills.

Reading also makes us conscious and it awakens our knowledge towards things happening around us which includes: political development, social and economic development, values and cultures of different societies and even contemporary social issues and how they can be curbed and tackled.

Readers they say are leaders. Reading has me helped me as a person in developing various skills which includes leadership skills. Being a great lover of biographies, inspirational books and spiritual books, they have given me a sense of leadership and empowered me with various skills necessary in helping others solve their problems. Biographies have helped me to know about people’s sojourn in life, the problems encountered and how to solve such problems. Inspirational books are awesome, they make me see myself as a character in the book and they also teach success and leadership strategies. Spiritual books help me grow in union with God and he uses me to impact other people’s lives and give them a good direction and sense of living. Therefore, having more clarity and understanding God’s purpose for my life.

Reading really feeds our minds. There is a saying that “you are what you read.” The type of materials you read has a great impact either negative or positive. The human brain is like a computer that is a continuous ongoing creative machine that never ceases. Our minds, like a computer, needs to be fed with information to keep it stimulated and reading is the best source of knowledge we can feed our brains with, because without information we become stagnant.

Reading helps in improving our educational standards, it also gives us higher knowledge and intelligence than those who do not read at all. Reading also helps in reducing stress, as a book can easily distract one from our burdens in the midst of activities and stressful days. It also helps in increasing analytical thinking, increases vocabularies, and in developing good writing skills and having prioritised goals.
In conclusion, reading for me is not all about escaping into a world of fiction, it is also about providing a context in our environment both real and imaginative. If we can breed many good readers in our country today, Nigeria would be able to regain her rightful place among the committee of nations because her citizens would have been fully equipped with the necessary skills for her development.
Reading is a real essence of living and a mighty fount of knowledge. It helps to be outstanding when others are standing and to stand out when others are outstanding.

Founder, “Arise African Child” Movement

Till we meet again

Till we meet again

“Afternoon. Are you going to Lagos?” asked the lady waiting her turn after me at the airline’s counter.
I responded with a tentative yes.
“Can you look after my daughter? Her father will come and pick her up at the airport.”
I found out later that she’s 10 year old. Almost 5 feet tall.
I laughed and asked why she was OK asking me to look after her daughter. “Do I look that trustworthy?”
“Don’t worry. It’s Nigeria” she said laughing in return.
Numbers were exchanged and the father called immediately to speak with me.
They said their goodbyes (the mum asking for a hug and then complaining playfully when she got an awkward hug from the girl).
We went through the scanner and sat next to each other in the waiting area. She’s very quiet which was perfectly fine by me.
But since we were going to be there for another 90 minutes or so, and she had nothing visible that might distract her, I thought I better try at least.
First few questions were answered with nods, and side glances. Then I put up a movie on my laptop and asked if she liked 3D movies. She told me she couldn’t quite see what’s on the screen. She’s had glasses for two years. But the glasses were in her checked-in luggage.
Our subsequent discussion covered lots of things. She used several “big” words and some of her ideas were beyond her years. Maybe it’s that 6 months of schooling she had in England when she was much younger …
She doesn’t watch 3D films because they are not realistic.
And no animated kiddie films either. She only watches mature films. She’s seen World War Z, all the Fast and Furious films, several movies that are definitely rated well beyond her age. She says she watches them with her dad.
She hates Sponge Bob with a passion (“how can a sponge ….”) and her school mates think she’s weird. I told her we all have our preferences. No 3D animated talking animals either because animals don’t talk in real life.
She doesn’t like corn flakes. But she likes cereal and oats. She likes golden morn because it’s made of maize. She doesn’t like wheat (meal) either.
She hates eggs, peanut butter, red meat (there are bacteria that can not be killed by heat. I suggested if it’s cooked long enough on high heat, all the bacteria would die. But she responded that the meat would become too soft and she doesn’t like soft meat), pounded yam, yam, broccoli (suggested by me). But she likes Egusi soup. I agree. I like Egusi soup too.

“Everything in this life is boring.
Especially all those Yoruba films! Eeew! All those Yoruba women. That come out in their wrappers. Just because they want to say bye bye to someone.”
She doesn’t like boring people.
Her grandma is boring. Always telling stories of World War I and this or that General.
I suggest those are the best stories. She insisted she has “current affairs” class in school for that.
She doesn’t like several tribes in Nigeria. One tribe is always fighting. Can’t remember the reason she gave for the others.
“Edo people are …” She started.
“Nice?” I attempted to complete the sentence for her.
“Noooo. My granddad is always “if you touch that thing I will flog you alive!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We are now on board the plane.
“This plain better not crash.” She says.
“Before I die I will kill the plane.”
“How?” I asked.
“I don’t know” she said. Then added: “I will blow up the engine.”
A child will always be a child (strange logic: blow up the plane before it crashes.)
There were other kids and several were somewhat loud. “That’s how they will be making noise” (she had mentioned much earlier that she didn’t like noise).
“Let me talk like the soldier in my school” (she mimicked the soldier):
“I hate noise. If you make noise, I will show you wetin you be!” (She’s a year one student in an air-force secondary school).
She’s cold. I said I don’t think I have anything that might keep her warm in my bag. Her pair of socks and her better sweater were in her checked in bag. She says she’s different (referring to the fact that she’s cold).
She wondered why I had a bag on-board.
“I didn’t check in any bag” I said.
“Because it’s small enough to put in the overhead compartment.”
“So a smart person can put a bomb in his bag and bring it on-board?”
“They still scan it. Remember when we went through the scanner?”
“Can the scanner see what’s in your body?”
“Yes. It looks like x-ray”
“So what’s private is no longer private” she declared.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We made it safely to Lagos. We got her luggage off the carousel. I offered to get the bag but she insisted that she can handle her own bag and that she carried even bigger loads). I had to smile at that. Her dad (a friendly Pastor) was waiting at “arrivals” with a lady. I tag along with them to the outskirts of the airport. I drop off because their destination is in the opposite direction to mine. I said goodbye to the dad and the lady that came with him, and as I closed the door, I said a final “Bye Bye, Jessica.”
Maybe we will meet again, maybe not. I had suggested it earlier and she said she didn’t think so. I think the reason she gave was something along the line of not being that regularly in airports or on planes.

I meant to take a cab. But the middle-aged gentleman I asked for directions at the bus-stop turned out to be a military officer (in mufti) whose first retort was “Why waste so much money?! See that pedestrian bridge over there? Walk across it sharply like a strong man. Take a bus going to Oshodi-under-bridge. It’s only 50 Naira. Climb to the top of the Oshodi bridge. You will get another bus going to CMS or Obalende.” I told him I could find my way from any of those two places. Thus my “Ijebu” kicked in and I had another uneventful trip switching buses 4 times before getting to my final stop. The whole trip cost 450 Naira instead of possibly 5,000 Naira or more (if I had taken a cab from the airport). I made a picture I took of both of us while seated in the plane my Whatsapp profile picture. A friend asked if she was my girlfriend. Another suggested she’s my daughter. I kept it up for the night and switched it out the following day.

I wonder if we will ever meet again. Maybe I should call the dad sometime and ask about those vicious German Sherpards (GSD) puppies she said they had. They are about 4 months old. I think I wouldn’t mind one if I got it for free.

I hope she grows up to be successful, and well-adjusted.

I don’t see why not.



Before you scoff and move one, I would ask you to put aside your convictions and your prejudices for a minute or two. I am sure you would say dogs can’t read. What if I were to say dogs can’t read braille? Right? Right? Of course dogs don’t need to read braille. How many healthy blind dogs have you seen around? (No offence meant to humans please). But that doesn’t necessarily mean dogs can’t read braille, does it? But let’s leave that aside for the moment.

I once had a dog called Zulu. He was small and cute and cuddly, but not to lie through the rose-colored lens of remembrance (of the past), he was also a mongrel. Now there is nothing wrong with being a mongrel. I just thought I should state that fact: if on top of that, you still want to think of me as a member of the bourgeois, go right ahead.


Since Zulu was relatively small, it could get away with some of those things you see kittens or cats do in all those YouTube videos such as walking all over the keyboard of my desktop computer or generally just being all playful up on my desk where I wouldn’t even allow a tiny tort to go near.


I didn’t realize there was method to the madness of his playfully hugging my system. When he gets up to it, I just use the excuse to take a break.  The reality hit me when I got a pink slip it appeared I had specifically ordered. You see, I lost my first job when Zulu decided I wasn’t giving him enough attention and proceeded to send a resignation letter on my behalf to my boss. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t included in the letter all those one hundred things (and names) I would have gladly said to him, or called him to his face if I had been brave enough. So any thoughts of trying to get that job back was a no-no.


Fortunately, he (Zulu) found me my next job as penance for the one he cost me. You see, after seeing me mope around the house and verbalizing certain suicidal thoughts, he went online and applied for several jobs I wasn’t even smart enough to use Google to find. I suddenly found myself with an offer letter and I was back on top!

Things were OK once again in Neverland. But suddenly Zulu disappeared just as suddenly as he had come into my life. That’s of course another story, but the short version was that I was trudging along in the rain one day, when a car pulled over beside me. Thinking the occupant was someone I knew or maybe the person was going to offer me a ride, I went closer and the window came down. The chap behind the wheel handed me a small carton and said “Hey bro, would you hold this while I get out of the car?” I think it was the combination of the appellation “bro” and the involuntary reaction when someone has already stretched out his hands that made me accept the box. I moved back to give him space to get out of the car, but instead, the window went back up and he was out of there like the Cerberus* was on his tail. I was still looking after the rapidly vanishing car in confusion when I head the whimpering coming from the little box in my hand. I opened it to see this very tiny thing with liquid eyes looking up at me, and that was how I became a dog whisperer.

But back to the recent present. Zulu’s disappearance! I was frantic for a couple of days and really considered logging a missing person report with the local police station, but I suspected I might be charged to court with wasting public resources or the time of an officer of the law. I must have chewed through a box of pencils (something I learnt from Zulu) when on the fourth day or so, while staring bleakly at my screen, a mail arrived from Zulu.

As to be expected from a very advanced member of his specie, there was no apology but a very bubbly note telling me that it had signed up to accompany the space shuttle Rosetta on its comet-meeting journey knowing fully well it a walk in the dark up a one-way alley (if there is any such thing). It was all of course hush-hush even till today so as not to infuriate any animal rights people, even though he made the decision completely sane of mind and under no duress etcetera etcetera.


I had resigned myself to missing him and I had got into the rhythm of once again living life without a dog (it was taking a sizable chunk of my pay to feed him and treat him anyway). But then one day, I was channel surfing when I happened upon a Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion) video on Channel-O. I caught the tail end of the video and I could have sworn I saw Zulu having a good old time in the background. It took me some days to lay hands on the video since I didn’t know the title of the song and wasn’t actually sure it was Zulu anyway.  But when I finally did, I was still almost a 100% sure it was him – but then didn’t he take off into space several years ago? I then naturally became an official fan of Snoop’s videos and went on to see the same dog several times. It was of course trying to behave like a regular canine but its “moves” from time to time gave it away as being much smarter. How many dogs have you seen sipping on pina coladas and whistling at the ladies?


That was when I had the brilliant idea of contacting Snoop Dogg’s (Snoop Lion) publicist or manager. After sending several missives intimating my desire to get together with Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion) to discuss some urgent dogging business, I guess the chap or lady at the other end (Snoop cub or Snoop Lioness or Snoop Sec) got fed up and sent me a specially autographed picture of Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion). But there was also a letter in the delivery box which to cut a long story short said “We appreciate all our fans, but the big dog would really like you to stop dogging him. If the dog in the video is truly yours, make your own music video asking it to come home. We promise to get you some airplay.”


Which would have been wonderful if I could sing. That was the dilemma facing me until recently. Oh. I did I mention there was a paw print at the back of  the picture?

Which finally brings us to the main subject of this post.

You see, a couple of months ago, my car took a dunking (I repeat again, I wasn’t drunk – it was very late at night and very dark). The net effect was that the engine had to be changed and the car is still not back to it’s “pre-M-Phelps” days. So I was surfing the web yesterday for a cheap stand-in when I came up an ’06 no-accident version of my car on OLX going for a third of the cost of my own 3-year-used-on-bad-Nigerian-roads ’05 model! As it was a Sunday, I sent an SMS asking about the car rather than disturb “Ms A.”

Bright and early this morning, I got an SMS from the contact. I decided Whatsapp might be a better medium of communication and was lucky to find she was also on there with her picture in all her Custom’s uniform glory probably just “clearing” a car for some lucky dude.
















After ruminating on how so-so lucky I was for a while and how certain recent events had almost made me think my life was a “dog”, Zulu suddenly crossed my mind. Which was when it struck me that if Zulu could be on a space shuttle in outer-space, and cavorting with Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion) on video shoots at the same time, what stops him from being in a third place such as in the front of a remote computer or smart phone pretending to be Ms A and pranking me?

Not that I am saying Ms A is a dog, far from it. In fact isn’t everything on OLX legit and above board? Isn’t every person on their representing their true selves and completely beyond reproach? (Sarcasm – even OLX says to be cautious).  If Zulu can charm the weed off Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion), getting Ms A to do his bidding should be literally a “walk in the park” for him, right? He could be sitting next to Ms A, smoking weed, and going “Yeah, yeah, say that to him. He’s going to fall for it. Just wait a minute. He’s going to come round and pony up that N10,000. Stingy bas***d! Can you believe how much he makes in a month and he won’t let go of 10K?! without wasting your Internet data?”

But then Ms A could definitely be Zulu just trying to take the mickey out of me. But rather than “scream foul”, I decided to play along and see how far the conspiracy goes. After all, she’s only asking for N10,000 of my hard-earned money and if it was indeed Zulu, he would of course return it to me after being satisfied he’s taught me a lesson.

Epilogue (what’s a great story without one)

Ms A was not one to give up on N10,000 so easily. I got a couple of calls a few days apart from her second number. I just ignored it. The one time I did talk to her briefly, she didn’t sound anything like she looked in her Whatsapp profile. She sounded younger and hesitant (unsure).

Well, if it’s you out there Zulu, enjoy your dog-life! And if not, then Ms A, you need to try harder. But be careful not to work yourself into a pair of handcuffs OK? Good!

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

*Cerberus in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed dog, or “hellhound” with a serpent’s tail, a mane of snakes, and lion’s claws. He guards the entrance of the underworld to prevent the dead from escaping and the living from entering.

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).

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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!

Live Now!

Live Now!

It’s Friday last week (4th of July). I am seated in the office of a multi-national I.T. services organization with the HQ in South Africa.

My contact opens up a mail on his laptop with the subject “That’s a wrap”. He barely glances at it before returning to the job at hand.

About 15 minutes later there was some hush hush discussion about a colleague of theirs. The guy died the day before! Turns out the mail he glanced at was with reference to the same colleague. The gentleman had been in Lagos, Nigeria just the week before and had worked with them.

He returned home and was shot in his car and some electronics stolen (phone and laptop). He leaves behind a wife and young family. He had even sent himself a reminder on some issue he had worked on with my contact so he could remember to complete whatever was outstanding.

That was just last week. Someone suggested maybe if he hadn’t come to Nigeria things may have turned differently (basically trying to re-write history – that is, subsequent happenings in his life may have placed him elsewhere other than the spot at which he was attacked. A few of the other people involved in the discussion disagreed with that suggestion.

No one knows the future and there is no absolute guaranty of safety anywhere or for that matter of living to see tomorrow or the next minute wherever you are. Even in the safest places people die – whether from (freak) accidents, natural causes, violence of some sort, or they just plain lay down and never get up again.

To buttress the above (that when it’s time, it’s time), one of his colleagues narrated an occurrence which he swore is true. It happened while he was still based in Warri (a big city in Eastern Nigeria). Some guy was told he was going to die (didn’t quite get who it was that told him so). Anyway, he stopped going out. He wouldn’t leave his house. He wouldn’t even leave his bed.

One day a trailer on the main road jumped the curb, went through his fence, broke through the house wall and ran over him on his bed. He concluded that if it’s your time, there is nothing you can so about it.

R.I.P. Useman from South Africa. Never met you but your colleagues say you were a friendly and true gentleman. You looked really kind in your picture as well. May God bless and protect the young family you left “behind.”

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Now go empty that “bucket list” and refill it with new stuff!

Staying out of trouble

Staying out of trouble
How hard can it be to get into trouble. Me and my mate Matt completely lost in a foreign town decided we might as well go big since we obviously can’t go home: not until the weekend at least. But it was the wrong day to be looking for some nightlife action: it was a Thursday. And nothing was going to be happening till the following day.
But we were “out of dodge” by 3pm on the Friday.
So we were determined to do something – anything.
We asked one of the hotels concierge for a place to go on a quiet Thursday.
He told us to walk down the street, a few blocks away. There was a nightclub called the Savanah.
Matt asked it it was safe to walk. The chap said we should be safe enough. That we looked strong enough to scare them away. Well you need to understand me and Matt we are black and white. I decided I could play the role of the native while he would be my msungu. I would be his local bodyguard. I asked the concierge if he could provide me with a weapon. If I was going to be play acting, I need to make it as real as possible. The bad guys won’t be sporting plastic knifes (that was for the airlines) so I need to bring my A-game as well. He just laughed.
We walked down the street with Matt in front. I puffed out my chest and walked with deliberate measured steps. I needed to occupy space. I was going for that “don’t mess with me” attitude.
We got to the building without issues. We found a security man who took us in to the club. But the place was deader than the funeral of a tightfisted gold-miner. Like Matt said there was more excitement in the lift that took us up to the 3rd floor than in the club itself.
But one of the waiters was kind enough to suggest we cross the street to another night club called the Bilcana.
Well we got there and made for the inner entrance. But there was a bouncer at the door who indicated we step back and pay the entrance fee at the counter we had just passed. Well the place didn’t look too busy and we wanted to take a gander inside before paying to be attendants at a wake-keep for some chap we didn’t know from Adam. But they insisted. We waited a little and a couple paid and went in. While the door was open, all we could see were empty seats. That was it.
We hightailed it out of there and crossed the car park to the compound at the opposite end of the “square”. We had noticed that loud music was coming from the enclosed compound on our way in. But the place was only a slight improvement on the club. We were on two strikes. It shouldn’t be this hard to get into trouble in a strange city!
Three strikes and it’s time to go home.
As we stepped out, we got accosted by one of the taxi drivers loitering around in the open space. He offered to take us to a club in town with a money back guarantee if we don’t like the place. He would even return us to the park free of charge. Well it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Remind me sometime to tell you about this technology me and Matt invented (strictly speaking he invented it, but I don’t think he would mind my basking in the light of his glory a little) that cuts a person’s electricity bill in half. Complete legit. But that’s another story entirely.
A reasonable dash across the city and we were at the Cuba. It was certainly more active than the other two. Lots of expats and a live band. They sang a mix of English, Nigerian and Tanzanian songs.
There were girls and women of all ages, shapes and sizes and it was obvious why they were there. The dressing ran the gamut from merely suggestive to “you have to be slow not to notice what’s on offer”
We just sat in one corner, listened to the music and watched the “sights”.
After an hour or so Matt got up and returned with a lady in tow. Good for him. Then the lady indicated we invite some other lady standing behind our table to come join me. Saying the lady was her friend. So now we were 4 at the table. We were too close to the action so it was difficult to have a decent conversation so we drifted further away from the band to a table right by the entrance to the place.
Angela is a diploma graduate with a degree in something related to international relations. She translates Norwegian to Swahili but the job is not permanent. It’s more or less on a document by document basis and the pay is low. She said it’s very difficult to get a job in Dar Es Salaam. She will be 30 next month (or is it 29). She asked if I was married. I said no. The other girl interjected that she’s decided to be Matt’s Tanzanian wife. I asked Angela playfully if she would be my Nigerian wife also. Asked if she would come to Nigeria. She said no. That there is too much witchcraft in Nigeria. That she would be put into a bottle and the bottle cocked. I told her she’s watched too many Nollywood films and that all that gimmickry is make believe for the screen only, but she didn’t completely believe me. She thinks the world of Genevieve, Ini Edo and a couple more Nigerian actresses who she said hadn’t bleached their skins and also had lovely smooth skin. She’s an avid reader of Linda Ikeji’s blog.
Since she asked me about marriage, and she obviously wasn’t married, I asked her about the boyfriend. She had none. I said I couldn’t believe someone as pretty as she was had no boyfriend. She said she was fed up with boyfriends who would be there on and off, leave, etc. she was also tired of taking care of herself. She wanted to be taken care of.
Around 1am we decided it was time to leave. We had a relatively early morning meeting. We bid them goodbye. I promised I had give her a call before I left town the following day.
The taxi driver was excited for us to confirm that we enjoyed the place. Instead of the 10,000 he potentially could have lost, he ended up with 30,000 shillings. Now that’s what you call good business sense!
We entered the hotel lobby and waited for the lift. A couple of girls got out as we went in. Matt greeted them jokingly and before we knew what was really happening, we had decided a nightcap at the restaurant on the rooftop of the hotel would be the thing to do. So there was Tina and Pamela. We chatted away over the drinks. We got there just about 15 minutes to closing but the staff were polite enough not mention it again. We must have spent about 30minutes there then decided to leave out of consideration for the staff. We were the only guests there.
This was on the 11th floor actually rooftop). We walked them to the front of the hotel and waited with them until their taxi came. Pamela said she worked at the southern sun. She wanted to come and occupy my room the following day so she asked for my room number. I said I would call her once my meeting was over. That was more trouble than I was looking to get into! So I had lied to Her that I was going to be there over the weekend so there was no hurry. When in fact we were leaving for the airport straight after the meeting.

Got to my room, checked up on my “downloads”, puttered around a little. Finally got into bed around 3am or so.
We did come pretty close to getting into trouble a couple of times, which is why it’s not good to go on such outings alone: because with at least two of you, common sense should assert itself before you go off the deep end. As the Yorubas say “a pe gbon ni, a ki pe go”. Translate: We collaborate or come together to benefit from the collective wisdom not to become even more foolish”

Well. That was me “live in Dar Es Salaam”

Social Commentary IV

It’s strange that whenever I go to places such as Eko hotel, federal palace hotel or some of the newer hotels where you see a lot of foreigners mixed in with the local population, I get the feeling that I am starring in one of those films based on the state of some African country such as Nigeria and Uganda in the 60s or early 70s.
Despite the obvious and ostentatious show of wealth; the excessive lightening; the happy faces all around, you know that the country is more or less moribund; there is a dictator somewhere in the background; majority of the population are disenchanted and disenfranchised; violence is an invisible thread running through the whole charade that can explode at any time. In the background plays a continuous sequence of different local dance and highlife music that the rich patrons dance slowly or sit down and nod their heads to under thatched little patios under the dark African sky.
African countries are stuck on a turntable: we would rather pretend to be enjoying the horrible music than own up to our own folly; get off the damn thing and get on the straight and narrow but hard road to real progress.
Even the ones we had high hopes for such as our brethren down south are making strenuous effort to join the rest on the turntable.
We all behave like the proverbial street tout who rolls up one leg of his trousers above the knee, unbuttons his shirt way down than is socially acceptable; and starts to make a nuisance of himself at the bus-stop to the disgust of all passersby some of who look at him with pity and others who would love to get rid of him if they were physically able.

Why are we so “different”?

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”.


G.E.L (Gays, Extremists and a little pink Lamp)

So let’s start with a disclaimer. This blog post is meant to be rude. Don’t read too much into it. I am now going to start from the beginning … or as close to it as is possible.

NOTE: I am not homophobic. I am not homophobic. I am not homophobic. I am not homophobic. I do not hate LGBTs nor anyone for that matter. Even if everybody hates Chris, that does not include the “Little dude from across the street. Lemme hold a dollar” guy. Well, you can look at me like that fella except without the implied “I will beat you up if you don’t comply” threat. We good? Good. Shall we?

So I bought a rechargeable lamp a week or so ago. It is mostly white but with a little pink. I didn’t think too much of it at the time and didn’t really use it much until tonight. Well, the 9KVA generator tried to pull a “spontaneous combustion” on me last night (well, actually it was the plug on the cable that tried to do that, but I guess one can’t blame it – after all, it can’t tell a holy day apart from a weekday). Anyways, tonight I whipped out some tools and decided I was going to fix it since NEPA (the power supply company) had not deemed it fit to supply electricity throughout the weekend. There was still some juice in the Inverter but I wasn’t going to wait until it was completely dead.

But I digress. So I had the lamp on the kitchen table and my cousin once removed (truth be told, I can never seem to get that “removed” thing straight. She is the daughter of my much older cousin) comes into the kitchen, sees the new lamp and goes “Isn’t that a little too pink?” to which I responded: “I am connecting with my gay side.”

Which of course got me thinking and that is how “we” arrived at this blog entry.

Now, I don’t have anything against gays (or more appropriately LGBTs – that’s Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transvestites). Having said that, so that people know where I stand in the ongoing debate (not the one about whether there is a global “Gay Agenda” or not), I would rather prefer that all gay people are straight (says the chap who has never had a girlfriend – but that as they say, is another story).

So anyways, I cut the two cables from the burnt plug (fully convinced that I could tell them apart), only to return later with an older plug I found lying around to discover that the two cables where actually the same colour! I called up a friend who is a mechanical engineer (but into the Inverter business) and he said it is unlikely that I would do any damage no matter how I connect the cables (neutral and live) but just to be sure I don’t mistakenly reverse the polarity, he would have his electrical engineer staff come around in the morning to fix it (fortunately while I was battling the plug, NEPA, a sure member of the pantheon “brought” the electricity supply back!).

So I abandoned my electric dreams and went back to the kitchen. There was a whole smoked chicken to cook and fry, along with some Irish potatoes (cook only). So there I was at 38, scraping away at the skin of a couple of potatoes (no, I am not talking about myself. I am younger than 38. I was referring to my twin who turned 38 back in April). Now I don’t have anything against peeling potatoes. In fact if I do get married, whoever the lucky (opinions may differ of course) lady is, we will man the kitchen together for as long as she wants me there. What I am saying is that I do know how to be a couch potato – I don’t mind sitting back in the parlor and knocking back a few or playing with whatever console (game) is available along with that 55-inch OLED TV and 7-speaker surround sound system (just saying).

But again I digress. What I was saying is that I don’t believe all that nonsense about “I was born this way” (Lady G. can literally lick my … and if you want to sue me, make sure it’s in the US of A. Don’t forget to send a one-way ticket while you are at it. I can be your house guest while we duke it out in the court system and the court of public opinion – whatever that is worth nowadays).

I warned you before. This post is “rude.”


Now, I concede that there is something to be said for “predisposition.” We will consider “predisposition” along with “environment” as they are invariably linked. Let me explain. Take a boy who has 5 sisters. Let’s say he is not the first born but somewhere around the middle. Now there are several possible outcomes.
One, if he is effeminate to start with, he may grow up to be:
a. just still effeminate, or
b. gay (“wow sis, that dress looks great on you, but I bet it will look even better on me!”), or
c. just a regular chap who has seen it all (maybe even jaded), or
d. Terror on the girls.

Two, if he wasn’t effeminate to start with, we could probably cross out option (a) above.

If any of that doesn’t make sense, you are in good company. I don’t understand it either. Nothing to lose sleep over.

Which reminds me of a pair of twins we had back in my secondary school days. I went to a boys-only secondary school. They were reasonably alike but definitely not identical. Very good footballers so they were quite popular. But they had another skill up their sleeves. They both had a tendency to want to share several juniors’ beds. I think they were lonely (tongue in cheek). Well, it got to a point where what they were up to became common knowledge. In addition, certain of their “victims” started walking “funny” (the Yoruba term was “gan-di” as in “gan-di rin” – “walking uncomfortably with the buttocks jutting out or as if they had something between their legs” – that’s actually not very explanatory – all men have something between their legs – but you get my meaning I am sure).

Well, one Saturday, the whole boarding house ganged up on them. An assembly was called, where they were named and shamed. Then the whole student body (boarders) literally ran them out of the hostels and the school. I can’t for the life of me remember whether they actually finished their education in the school (may be as “day“ students if the shame wasn’t too much – but definitely not as boarders!)

Their case is probably an aberration. Two twin brothers! On the other hand, maybe they were “experimenting” between the two of them before they then found themselves in the much more “fertile” grounds of the boarding house.

But I digress. So I told my cousin I was getting in touch with my gay side. Let’s leave that there for a minute shall we.

But what has extremists (in the subject) got to do with all this? I am glad you asked. If you live in my country and you don’t know what “Boko Haram” is, stop reading right now. Go over to Google and “google” the term. When you are familiar with the term, come back here – I am not going anywhere soon. Unless of course the second coming happens, in which case if you are still reading this, then you are in a shitload of trouble and you better start praying that “Boko Haram” gets you soon!

If you still don’t know who or what “Boko Haram” is, here is a brief explanation. They are a group (or several loosely affiliated groups) of extremists who have sworn against “Westernization” in all forms. They have caused untold damage to lives and properties in the country. The government finally woke up one day, suddenly had an “Eureka” moment and decided “we won’t take their shit anymore!” and sent the military to put them down. That “engagement” is still ongoing.

Now, while I continue to pray that common sense prevail in this country, and we somehow get beyond our tribalistic agendas which are holding us back as a nation, one should still plan for all contingencies. After all, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the Arc (that’s not an original saying from me – I borrowed it). Though it is highly unlikely (they thought the titanic couldn’t sink), there is a chance (even if it is one in 170 million) that this country may become the fiefdom of the extremists (God forbid bad thing!). But I am prepared – can you see the “tuft” on my chin? If you are  a man and you don’t have one, better start growing one now – the difference between keeping and losing your head may just be that fuzz on your chin!

Now, as I have said before, I do not know if there is (or not) a “Gay agenda”. But if we swing to another extreme possibility, and we become more gay than not, then I am prepared as well.  All I need do is whip out my pink-white lantern and I am totally in there (as in “Everybody hates Chris” in-there)!

Which brings us back full cycle to where we started from. No one has a right to hate another (or another’s way of life – you may of course dislike their way of life – but that’s totally different from hate – and it shouldn’t prompt you to do heinous things). God gave us all free will (to choose). We can try within reasonable limits to convince another of what we think is right or wrong, but under no circumstances should we turn that to hate or denigration (of the party or parties with different sociological “leanings”). If indeed someone’s way of life bothers you, the only way you can achieve lasting change is to show constant love – let your own way of life convince the person.

I have to stop this now before I start ranting. Before I am labeled a right-winger. I am not a right-winger; neither am I a left-winger; I don’t belong to the center either. I am a “can’t we all just get long?” kind of guy (that was from Rodney King).

At last, I think with that I have succeeded in convincing you (as opposed to my learned colleague) once and for all, to make love not war! You are probably wondering why I am so excited (same here too). It is either I am going to win the lottery tomorrow, or the sugar and alcohol in the bottle of Coca-Cola and Smirnoff Ice I took just as I started writing this article that’s responsible (“I feel good!”).
“Kids, don’t mix Sugar and Ice, hmmn-kay.”

18/06/2013 (01:34AM)

My Oga At The Top (The Matrix Remix)

Ok. Let me start that by stating that this is in no way meant to ridicule Mr.  Shem. It is just another “fun” remix of this “thing” that has gone viral. In fact, I think he could have taken it in his stride (if not for the sheer number of posts and memes on the issue). As someone commented, how many people of his age even know anything about the Internet (not a completely valid comment in this day and age). I guess he got carried away and rather than just admit he couldn’t remember or didn’t know, he tried to bluff his way out of the situation. I think he can be pardoned for that. We should be ridiculing the more serious offenders stealing our public funds. But as someone suggested, while the Oga’s at the top are busy trying to “work” immunity clauses into the Nigerian constitution to protect themselves from being prosecuted for their crimes against the Nigerian masses and the Nigerian state, can they ask for more than that Nigerians be distracted with some other almost non-issue such as this?

One question: how many of the people “shaming” Mr. Shem have actually taken steps to find out the full website address of the NSCDC? Answer quick before you go looking on google 🙂

My Oga At The Top (The Matrix Remix)

Below is a script for the short clip. I am too lazy to watch the movies (trilogy) and fish out the required sequences. And then do the “mash up” and upload it to YouTube.
Truth be told, I could do it, but it would take a lot of effort and time which my boss won’t appreciate (I have several official tasks pending), so I am putting up the script for anyone out there that is interested. I am sure there are others with much more advanced multimedia skills that can easily and quickly do it.

The clip starts with the dialogue between Agent Smith and Neo. Remember the sequence where Agent Smith is ready to beat up Neo. He removes his glasses and puts them carefully in his breast pocket while talking.
(Voice Over)
Agent Smith (while putting away the glasses): “Mr Anderson, what is the website of NSCDC?”
Neo (posing as usual): “I am sorry I can’t tell you that, you have to ask my Oga at the top.”

Video cuts to Morpheus (that iconic picture of him sitting as if he is on a throne with the dark eye glasses).

Video cuts back to Neo/Smith.

Smith: I hope you are ready to take a bullet for your Oga at the top.

Video cuts to the rooftop where Smith fires at Neo and Neo does the slo-mo leaning-back thingie while dodging all the bullets except the last one that grazes his leg.

(You can go crazy here while repeating a very short part of the sequence – Smith firing repeatedly and Neo leaning back – video basically jerks repeatedly in step to the popular “what is the website of NSCDC” that’s repeated on many of the videos out there on the topic)

Frames from the actual interview here.

Ends with Neo’s rapid hand beating of Agent Smith (while Neo appears to be looking elsewhere).  You can repeat a short sequence here as well to the beat of the song (what’s the website …).

Be creative and mix it up so it fits the sound. Plagiarize a few of those clips already on the web for the music – like all those catchy repeats of “my oga, my oga, eh, my oga at the top, eh, my oga, …” or “what is the website of NSCDC, what is the website of NSCDC, …”