Saying Yes to Nigeria [1]

nigeria

Each time I am sure that, in returning to Lagos, I have inadvertently wandered into a region of hell, something else emerges to give me hope. A reader, an orchestra, the friendship of some powerful swimmers against the tide.
– Teju Cole

Several years ago when I was in Nigeria, I wrote a collection of articles about my experiences since I had returned and received feedback from my editor.

“Please don’t be like all those sabi sabi oyibo Nigerians who come from abroad and tell us what’s wrong with our country; they won’t stay and solve problems only talk talk talk,” she said and handed my manuscript back to me.

“We know what’s wrong with Nigeria, we live it every day. We are looking for escape in comic relief. If you must tell us, satirize it, and make yourself one of us. Like this story here,” she collected the manuscript from me and leafed through it. “This one is good. This one,” she shook her head, “not good.”

I did not agree with her assessment regarding the articles she claimed were not good. They were reflections based on my experiences. Moreover, I couldn’t infuse humour or irony or both in every article, could I? Maybe I could, I am Nigerian after all.

I read Teju Cole’s book, Everyday is For the Thief, years ago. I recall feeling hectored by chapter after chapter about a Nigeria with little redemptive value. My patriotism reared its head. Could he not find many more events, which were ‘normal’ to write about? Of course, I recognized the narrator’s experiences. Some were mine too, but such truths in black and white were painful to swallow. Then I understood what my editor had been trying to tell me.

African writers in the Diaspora have been accused of writing poverty porn— stories of disease-ridden, war-torn, aid-dependent, poverty-rife, corruption-infested, and patriarchal Africa—to sell their books to audiences in the West. While these aren’t the only narratives of Africa, as far as Nigeria goes, some elements are inescapable; even in choice neighbourhoods, evidence of poverty rises to the nose from the open drains that surround electric fences.

Returning from years of living abroad, your brain functions in constant comparison mode, not only of currency and exchange rates but also of culture, infrastructure, organization, and leadership. Stories are everywhere. But, does a writer have an obligation to be an ambassador of hope if he finds none?

Recently, a friend and I were discussing relocating permanently to Nigeria.

Holding his British and Nigerian passport in each hand, he said, “Nigeria, nah.” Placing his British passport on top his Nigerian one, he said, “I can only do Nigeria in measured doses.”

Without shame, I realize that another five years outside Nigeria has almost made me one of those Nigerians. If I were to review, Everyday is For the Thief, today; I would not be too harsh.

Every time I return to Nigeria, it is not with joy; a certain coercion draws me to her. Nevertheless, I leave better for having stayed. My patriotism is sometimes shaky, needing comfort to support its grid. If I returned with resolve to build a better society, the fuel queues and sweltering heat are melting it away. Perhaps time will help me tell a different story.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Photo credit: http://www.inecnigeria.org/?page_id=373

 

 

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Flight to Lagos

luggage

A KLM flight to Nigeria begins at the baggage weighing scale at Departure Hall 2. Several passengers drop their luggage on the scale, take note of the weight, nod, and walk away with sure steps. She is surprised that some passengers even weigh their hand luggage.

“What for?” she wonders aloud.

She lugs her first suitcase on the scale. A frown appears. She lugs the second and her frown deepens.

The night before, she had weighed herself, then carried each suitcase and reweighed herself. Then she had repacked and reweighed, repeating this process a few more times, until each suitcase weighed just under 23kg. She had expected a difference between the weight of the suitcases at home and at the airport. But 33kg and 29kg?

She would whistle if she knew how. Instead, she moves her suitcases to the repacking section at the corner and then whips out a folded Ghana bag from her cream handbag. She shakes it lose with one big motion so that the Ghana bag quickly assumes its rectangular shape. She hisses as she kneels on the floor and makes deft work of 16kg, filling up the Ghana bag.

In all her time at Schiphol Airport, she had only ever seen Africans ‘sweating’ at the repacking corner. The problem of course was that expectations—shoes, bags, clothing, and electronics, for family and extended family—carried a lot of weight.

After paying 200 Euros to check in an extra bag, she clears security and passport control before heading for Gate F. At the departure lounge, conversation rises and falls in English, Pidgin, Bini, Yoruba, and Igbo. She could have been at the International Airport in Lagos. Here, she finds comrades with two pieces of cabin luggage, a regular one and another bag which should not qualify as an accessory. In addition, they each have a true accessory, a handbag, a briefcase, a backpack, or something similar.

The cabin crew greet passengers as they stream into the aircraft. No one jostles for room in the overhead baggage compartments. An easy cooperation reigns among passengers as cries of, “don’t worry, there’s space here,” ring out.

Many passengers are already seated and adjusting themselves for the flight, when Mr. and Mrs. X show up. An air hostess reads their boarding passes.

“20E, this way madam, on the left. 16A, sir on the right.”

Mr. and Mrs. X walk down the aisle, stow their hand luggage, and take their places in 20E and 20F. Not long after, the passenger who had been sitting in 20F returns from the toilet.

“Madam, my seat please.”

A small quarrel ensues and an air hostess comes to arbitrate. When she confirms that Mr. X should sit at 16A, chaos occurs.

“You want to separate me from my husband? It is not possible. How can you separate me from my husband?”

“Madam, but your boarding pass—”

“Did you not hear? You cannot separate me from my husband!”

Mr. X coughs, the only sound to escape his lips. The air hostess persuades Mrs. X to vacate the seat. Mr. X accompanies Mrs. X as she follows the air hostess’ lead, dragging their cabin luggage behind him.

Atink you see this people o? They want to separate me from my husband!”

It is a battle the air hostess should win. The boarding pass says so. But her face is red, every blond hair brushed into place. Her blue suit is devoid of creases, and her voice is no match for Mrs. X’s rising decibel.

The wrangle is drawing some interest, but no mediators. Perhaps it is more expedient to use the time before take-off for selfies and goodbyes. Yes, most passengers are lost in their cell phones and tablets.

The air hostess consults with her colleagues and then they whisper to a few passengers. Before long, they escort Mr. and Mrs. X to a row of seats where they can sit side by side.

Mrs. X declares her victory for all to hear. “Ehen, what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Ah ah.”

Take off to Lagos begins after this display of survival of the loudest.

She remembers the extra 16kg and 200 Euros and shakes her head. She should have shouted, “You cannot separate me from my luggage!”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Did We Do Any Learning? [6]

equality v justice

Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.
Pope Francis

 

Life isn’t Always Fair

It is a lesson we have all learned. Sometimes fate turns around and bites us. But I have never seen this inequity so clear and so devastating, as I have over the last three months in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Ebola.

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia from 1965 to 1967, a long time ago.  It was an incredible experience for me, going from the University of California at Berkeley and California’s super-urban Bay Area to the then small upcountry town of Gbarnga, where I met Africa face to face and received so much more from the experience than I was able to contribute.

Afterwards, the terrible civil wars tore Liberia apart in a way that was incomprehensible to those of us who had lived in the country and had come to know her people and culture.

Recently, I began to feel more optimistic about Liberia’s future. There was hope. Liberia had known peace for ten years. Children were back in school. There was laughter in the street.

And then Ebola struck. Once again, Liberia teeters on the edge of chaos. How much more can the country take? Yes there are things we can do, must do, to help. But I can’t help thinking, over and over: isn’t it time that fate gives the people of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone a break?

 

Curt Mekemson @ Wandering through Time and Place

Half of the profits from Curt’s recent book, The Bush Devil Ate Sam and Other Tales of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia West Africa, will go to Friends of Liberia, a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers.

 

Wake Up and Think for Yourself

This year my sixty-seven year old country finally woke up. Millions of Pakistanis learned to think for themselves.

Four months ago, frustrated people stepped out of their homes and stamped their thoughts on the streets under the leadership of Imran Khan. Old men, housewives, students, and children slid open curtains of indifference and made history.

War is when your government tells you who the enemy is. A revolution is when you figure it out yourself. ~Anonymous

This year millions of Pakistanis learned about pain. Pain that transcends boundaries of flesh and geography. Pain that sets things into perspective. Love, family, home, and health. Everything else seems extravagant. You don’t expect to send your children to school and never see them again.1

We saw hope and held on to it tight. Perhaps too tight because it left blisters. We learned about healing as skins of faith quickly formed protective layers on our stubborn wounds. My people are even more stubborn.

This year I learned about victory. A victory that marks an end to our closed minds and blind hearts. I have seen my extraordinary people walk to hell and back. They tell me to keep going. Because that is exactly what they will do. They always do. And this revelation makes me realize our power.

I had a dream about you last night…and in it you said, ‘Chin up; it only gets harder.’ ~ Marshal Ramsay

Think. Question. Challenge.

Because once people begin to think aloud, they are impossible to ignore.

 

Nida S. @ on the road to inkrichment 

  1. On 16 December 2014, terrorists ran down an Army public school in Peshawar (Pakistan), leaving 132 children and 9 members of the school staff dead in cold blood.

 

 

In Search of a Messiah

I have thought about poverty and inequality, and for me, there are no easy answers yet. Years of inequality, poverty, rising unemployment (indices to gauge development according to economist Dudley Seers), and insecurity, have made many Nigerians pant for a benevolent dictator, a fairy godmother with a magic wand to wave all our problems away, while we dance with the prince and midnight never comes.

In the lyrics of Bob Marley, Most people think great god will come from the sky take away ev’rything, and make ev’rybody feel high. I believe in The Messiah, but I don’t want to be guilty of a messiah complex. These days when someone offers me help, I ask why, I ask how, I ask what, I ask where, I ask how much. And, I keep asking until I understand.

The race for the 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria resembles a dem-all-crazy; they say we have to choose the lesser of two devils. Democracy delivers to us what we demand of her. Poverty and inequality like kwashiorkor, can make people swallow nutrition devoid of protein, and then roll over to sleep not realising death is waiting.

I have learnt that on the drive to my destination, it is unwise to hand over the keys of my life and snooze in the passenger seat. Going by what I read on social media it seems many have learnt this too. The challenge is to remind the driver that he is driving our car and so we decide where he goes and when he stops.

Timi @ Livelytwist

 

 

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Beyond Bob Geldof’s Ebola Christmas

charity

The debate and backlash that surrounded Bob Geldof’s resurrection of Band Aid’s 1984-charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas, to raise funds for Ebola held my attention for many days. While some questioned the rich celebrities’ motives, others were appalled by the patronizing lyrics, which they claimed cast West Africans as people who cannot solve their problems and so were always in need of foreign aid. In between were a thousand other pros and cons. I capture selected sentiments (edited), below:

 

They need all the money they can get. What have the people complaining done?

My parents gave money when I was two. Now I’m thirty-two, I have to give money—hang on, my daughter is two. Is this a generational thing?

Well at least they’re changing the lyrics.

How about new lyrics: cure the world, yes they know it’s Christmas time, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

It’s called Band Aid not Deep Surgery for crying out loud!

 

Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the countries facing the wrath of Ebola, cannot afford to turn up their noses at financial assistance from Band Aid 30. I suppose it is left to the rest of us to speak up for them. And we did.

By now Bob Geldof knows:

  • Rhetorical questions like, do they know it’s Christmas time at all? will be answered on Twitter and Facebook, with viral effect, as long as he keeps asking.
  • Hyperbole, that literary device sometimes used to coax emotive response, has been withdrawn from his poetic license—where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears; where nothing ever grows; and now, where a kiss of love can kill you and there’s death in every tear.
  • Irony, well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you, has never been more tongue in cheek.
  • Synecdoche, a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, is the preserve of Africans for Africa.
  • White savior complex means that in the absence of a black Jesus, Africans might accept a mixed race one, the scion of a black father and a white mother or vice versa.
  • The danger of a single story will haunt him, although thirty years later, Africans are yet to acquire their own Cable News Network, African Broadcasting Corporation, or Al j’Africa to tell their multiple stories.

 

But I suspect Bob Geldof also knows:

  • Visibility creates heightened awareness. Celebrities generate greater visibility for causes than the United Nations does1.
  • When it comes to charitable giving, people act from the heart not from the head. Facts and charts are boring.
  • Emotion is the language of donation, images of children and women, the defenseless, make viewers emotionally invested2. Images of a prosperous Africa will zip purses close.
  • Words can evoke powerful empathetic responses because they transport us into other people’s world. Hence, no peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa – the only hope they’ll have is being alive.
  • He is a musician who knows how to compose popular songs that will sell.
  • He wants to help on his terms not yours.
  • Generosity is most potent at Christmas.

 

So, can we take a pause from shouting ourselves hoarse on social media and dismount our righteous soapboxes please? Give us your aid on our terms, sounds chivalrous, carries the ring of revolution even, but isn’t it as naïve now as it was then? Does he who pays the piper not dictate the tune?

Band Aid 30’s charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas? in aid of the Ebola crisis, has become the fastest-selling single of 2014, selling over 200,000 copies since its release about a week ago3.  Who is buying the ‘demeaning’ song that Fuse ODG, British-Ghanaian rapper, refused to be a part of because he is, “sick of the whole concept of Africa – a resource-rich continent with unbridled potential – always being seen as diseased, infested and poverty-stricken.”4?

It would seem no amount of revising would have made the ‘new’ song acceptable to those condemning it. Only a song by Africans for Africans stands a chance of not being condescending. The Africa Stop Ebola, single, an African initiative that includes well-known musicians such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, and Oumou Sangare, was recorded before the release of Band Aid 30’s charity single. It is currently at number seventy-eight on the iTunes download charts. Band Aid 30 is at number one5. Telling isn’t it?

Perhaps frustration arises from fighting something intangible—Geldof still raises millions with his ‘questionable’ lyrics and the African countries in question readily collect financial aid from the sale of lyrics that ‘demean’ them. Remember when the local radio stations in Nigeria played Band Aid’s song over and over and we sang, danced, and clapped (omg, omg! horror of horrors!) to the catchy chorus, feed the world . . . ? Right, that was thirty years ago. But, will the stations play the new version?

The long-term solution for underdeveloped African countries is not charity. There should be more to aid than handing over millions of Pounds6. Okay. But is that Geldof’s job? Really? Should only Bob Geldof be put on trial? Or maybe he should be hung for exploiting human nature.

A man can’t ride your back unless it is bent7. There are many ways to straighten our backs. Using Bob Geldof as target practice is one of them. I get it. Can we now concentrate on other ways of straightening our backs so that Geldof wouldn’t dare resurrect Band Aid 40 in ten years’ time, because not only would our outcry have sensitized public opinion, we would also have perfected African solutions to ‘Afro-global’ problems.

A new generation of Africans wants to tell new African stories. They know that media isn’t 100% objective. It exists to serve the interest of the owners, which include profit and propaganda. Maybe we don’t have to be so defensive about the old stories; they are part of our stories too, no? Those stories will evolve as those societies truly do and the burden of change lies with us.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

  1. Geldof decided to remake the single after the United Nations contacted him, saying help was urgently needed to prevent the disease from spreading beyond West Africa. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/17/us-health-ebola-geldof-idUSKCN0IZ0GY20141117 
  1. Oxfam, the international aid agency, reports in 2012, that three out of five people polled said they were or had become desensitised to images depicting issues such as hunger, drought and disease. http://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2012/12/show-africas-potential-not-just-its-problems-says-oxfam
  1. http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/18/band-aid-30-becomes-fastest-selling-single-of-2014 
  1. Anyone who has experienced Africa in a positive way is a citizen of the New Africa and needs to play their part in challenging perceptions– and if I can make chart-topping music that celebrates Africa then surely Band Aid and its extensive network can do the same. – Fuse ODG  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/19/turn-down-band-aid-bob-geldof-africa-fuse-odg  
  1. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/20/-sp-africa-stop-ebola-band-aid-alternative 
  1. My quote. For further reading: I don’t know of any country in the world where a bunch of foreigners came and developed the country. I know about countries that developed on trade and innovation and business. – Herman Chinery-Hesse. http://www.povertycure.org/issues/foreign-aid/
  1. Quote by Martin Luther King Jr., “Whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.”

 

Image Credit:

Map of Africa:  http://all-free-download.com/free-vector/vector-clip-art/africa_clip_art_19737.html

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Hard pressed on every side

To understand Nigeria, you must appreciate how religion colours every aspect of our lives and infiltrates nearly every conversation. There is a god of Nigeria, he is the carrot and the stick, and the final bs, that’s bus stop, by the way.

“Like soap that glides through wet hands, we use religion to evade the grasp of accountability time after time. From Aso Rock to Ajegunle, religion is courted, invoked, and brandished as if it is a determinant of GDP and as if, according to Karl Marx, it is the opium of the people!”

Tolu Talabi aka Naijarookie, doesn’t get enough credit for making me laugh. I hope you’ll laugh as well, and if you’re like me, untangle the many levels of ‘spirituality’ unfolding in his tale. Enjoy!

 

Originally posted on Nigerian Newcomer

Most of the businesses in Nigeria have an office gofer. Someone who can run errands for the staff, pick up food, clean a spill, make a cup of tea. Usually this person has an official designation, they might be the security guard or the cleaner. But when they aren’t opening gates, they hang around and wait to be summoned.

The person who does this at my office is a girl called Esther who is always taking days off to write exams. She would say, “I won’t be around next week, I’m travelling to Ibadan to do WAEC.” Or “I have JAMB on Saturday, I have to attend lesson.” You’ll see her sitting in the corner reading Literature-in-English past questions, or squinting at an Accounting textbook. One day it was a Chemistry practicals textbook, I had to ask.

She laughed, “Haha, all these subjects? It’s not for me, I’m doing the exam for other people.”

View original 628 more words.

 

Related Posts on Lively Twist:

By God’s Grace

Your Enemies Shall Never Succeed

Mommie Dearest

Others:

The Business of Worship by Jide Odukoya: It is hard to reflect objectively on the proliferation of Churches in Nigeria. View original photo commentary with 192 more words.

Gods Were to Blame by Samuel Okopi

 

Sango by Tobi 'Leftist' Ajiboye

All the lessons of history in four sentences: Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. – Charles A. Beard

 

 

“Who dares Oyo?”

Sango’s fingers quaked as he rose from his seat. A palace guard had come with news that frightened his household but angered him.

“Who dares my beloved Oyo?” Sango asked again with a louder voice, his face squeezed to a frown, his eyes eager to escape the prison that held them.

Everyone in the palace shifted back.

“I will destroy this oyinbo god!” said Sango, as he raced to the skies.

From the embrace of the lower clouds, Sango saw Poseidon, an oyinbo god so mighty that when he moved, the sea swirled around his body like wrapper shaking in the wind. Poseidon held a trident with which he guided the clouds above the sea into a thunderstorm easily uprooting palm trees outside the city walls. He advanced from the middle of the sea, lashing the waters with his massive frame.

Sango trembled. Where did such a god journey from? What does it desire?

Poseidon roared and the earth shook.

Olorun did not mold Sango with fear!” Sango spat out the words through trembling lips.

The upper clouds swirled faster around Sango’s outstretched double-headed axe. As the master of thunder, the knowledge that another being sought the obedience of heaven’s light and sound enraged him. Fear shrunk into a still prisoner bound by the shackles of his rage.

“White god, listen! You shall burn! The waters shall do nothing to stop your white skin becoming like the terrible blackness of night. You shall disappear as ash to the skies!”

When Poseidon’s eyes caught Sango, he roared all the more in the foreign tongue and mounted the sea horses formed of the tidal waves. Soon, he was by the beach. Poseidon had not crossed the palm forests by a man’s twenty paces when Sango swung his axe and struck him with a stream of lightning.

All of Oyo Kingdom and beyond heard the terrible groan of the oyinbo god as he crashed into the sea. Warriors ran into their huts ahead of their wives. Children bumped into themselves as they pursued their mothers’ loosening wrappers. The scent of death had never been this pungent in Oyo.

In the palace, Sango’s three wives, Osun, Oya, and Oba, huddled in the inner chamber, quivering.

“Olorun, spare us and our Kabiyesi o!” said Osun, whose beauty and excellent cooking kept Sango’s deep love for her aflame through all seasons. Wraps of amala she had prepared for him lay on the floor of the main chamber, their roundness deformed to the jaggedness of mountain ranges. The hot ewedu soup she had placed beside the amala stained the floor like stubborn patches of grass.

Every member of the royal household crouched in hiding, counting their heartbeat and the painful seconds before the oyinbo god’s groan would resound. Instead, the faint sound of Sango chanting praises of his exploits in battle, streamed in from the skies.

The palace guards rose first, following the distant sound, shedding their fear with each footfall. They moved into the courtyard and sighted Sango in the clouds, and then they shouted, singing the great victory songs of old. The palace drummer struck the batá twice, swung around, and then moved his hands faster and faster over the batá. Osun, Oya, and Oba’s legs received strength and their hips swung left, right, left, as they chorused with the guards.

 

Who amongst beasts and men can stand the fire in Kabiyesi’s eyes?

Will a god beside Olorun do battle with Kabiyesi?

Ah, Kabiyesi, master of thunder!

The god that brightens the earth with his eyes.

The one that chews iron and bathes with fire.

Our lord with eight eyes guiding heaven, eight more ruling earth.

Our king who makes Oyo people snore in a thunderstorm!

Kabiyesi, master of thunder, Olorun made you perfect!

 

Sango smiled as tributes from the lips of hundreds of thousands dwelling in Oyo kingdom ascended to his ears. He descended towards his people, his brown loincloth swaying in the wind as he danced to the intoxicating beat of the batá.

Midway between earth and sky, the earth began to tremble. Poseidon’s roar arose from the sea and saturated the skies, sucking in the joyful noise of victory swimming in the air. When Sango turned to behold Poseidon, a mighty ball of water hit his frame and flung him towards Egbaland where he crashed on Olumo Rock, the great rock revered all over Egbaland. It shattered at once into boulders that flew out and crushed many houses and people.

From where his swift flight ended, Sango pushed aside the tree trunk straddled across his torso and jumped to his feet.  His mouth was bitter from the memory of his humiliating crash. Seeing Poseidon advancing towards Oyo, even if with a burnt arm, turned Sango into a mad man. Wrath stole his words. Pain summoned his axe. When it came, he stuck it in the air and flashed his iron teeth at the sun.

Thunder knew its true master.

“Olorun! I am the greatest god after you!” Sango said, his eyes aflame as he channelled ten years of thunder towards Poseidon.

***

Poseidon’s ashes travelled as far as Timbuktu. The great walls of Oyo crumbled to dust. Not one living thing survived.

“Oloooooruuuuuuuuuun!” Sango cried to the heavens, the fire in his eyes humbled to tears streaking his cheeks.

“Oloooooruuuuuuuuuun!  Olodumareeeeeeeh! Why did you not tame my anger!”

Sango sank to his knees. Osun’s enchanting smile flashed before him and with it came the memory of the sweet-smelling amala and ewedu she had prepared for him.

“Aaaah!”

Sango bowed his head and wept like a man. For two days his knees remained with the ground and his lips did not part. When he stood to his feet, he walked for seven days never stopping until he vanished into the sea.

No god ever saw Sango again.

 

© Samuel Okopi 2014

samuelokopi.com

 

Oyinbo: Pidgin. Usually, a person of Caucasian descent.

Olorun: The supreme god of the Yoruba pantheon in its manifestation as the ruler of the heavens. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olorun

Kabiyesi: Majesty, Royal Highness. He whose words are beyond questioning.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highness 

Batá: A double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass with one cone larger than the other. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batá_drum

 

Image Credit

Sango’s Rage by Tobi ‘Leftist’ Ajiboye

Twitter & Instagram: @leftistxx

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Love for Country and Other Drugs

Love 4 Country & Other Drugs

Because of Nigeria, I’ve been accused of false optimism, “How can you hope for change when we keep doing the same things?” I’ve also been accused of Elitist Patriotic Syndrome, a type of patriotism that conveniently lives abroad and so doesn’t wash its hands in the muddy river of change. But how do you bury love for country? Where are its roots that I may pluck it?

Looking ahead to Nigeria’s Independence Day, three writers and I wonder if hope can be reinvented.

Education is Training the Mind to Think

Desmond Tutu, in one of his stories said, “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” I wonder why we prayed with both eyes closed. And who helped the white man steal the slaves that crouched in the belly of the whale on the way to the plantations in America? Tell me who? The white man has gone and Africans stagger, drunk from the rich red of millions that flowed in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.

I am glad the white man came to Nigeria and brought education with him1. One day, a friend visited a motherless baby’s home to inform the administrators that he was committed to educating two kids as far as they wanted to go. Starved of funds, they greeted the news with glee and asked him to pick the two kids. As he looked at the kids, his heart ached because choosing one meant rejecting another, but his pocket was simply not wide enough. The administrators chose for him, they chose their brightest two. Two plus two equals eight. Four plus four equals thirty-two.

I have dreamt of the past. Show me the future that I may live the present.

Education can teach us to read and write, appraise and solve, question and answer, and chew and spit. It is why I want to write prose with the eloquence of Chimamanda Adichie and the humanity of Chimeka Garricks, that another generation can read stories of hope and redemption, and pray with both eyes open.

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant. – Maximilien Robespierre –

Timi Yeseibo @ Livelytwist

  1. “History rediscovered – Emeka Keazor at TEDxEuston” YouTube video, posted by “TEDx Talks,” on February 21, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN3hCjbA_dw 

 

Humans of Nigeria

It was Christmas Eve, and we expected the roads to be free. We drove past Iyana Ipaja roundabout and entered one of those traffic jams that force you to turn off the AC, roll down the windows, and watch pedestrians cover distances you won’t in hours.

Suddenly the traffic began to melt as engines sprung to life. A tall man in combat trousers was swinging his arms and giving directions to relieved drivers. Sweat glued his muscles to his khaki t-shirt and outlined them. He had a broad smile on his face—an antithesis of Nigerian work culture.

On our roads, police officers pounce on naïve drivers who miss one-way road signs or waylay bus drivers for fifty Naira notes. The police are not alone. The prevailing mindset is that no matter how hard we try, we have nothing to gain from our jobs. We work without a sense of ownership, purpose, or dignity. Oga ta, oga o ta, owo alaaru o pe1. Na lie! Our work is a reflection of who we are, and the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

The exceptions are the Humans of Nigeria, like the soldier who volunteered as an impromptu traffic warden and the doctor whose diligence prevented a national Ebola tragedy. They worked with verve and took charge. Like pebbles thrown in water, the ripple effect transcended their original goals. The government may never give them national awards, but they are the reason Nigeria is not a complete hell.

IfeOluwa Nihinlola @ ifenihinlola.wordpress.com

  1. Oga ta, oga o ta, owo alaaru o pe: (Yoruba) whether the boss makes profit or not, the labourer’s wage will be intact.

 

A History of Industry

After World War II devastated Japan, the island country underwent a rapid industrialization that surprised the world. The Japanese Miracle happened because strong leadership inspired a diligent citizenry, the threat of scant natural resources notwithstanding.

Did something else influence this phenomenal comeback?

I discovered that the world’s oldest company is a Japanese construction company founded over 1400 years ago. Japan rules the list of world’s oldest companies, a sustainable culture of industry perpetuated in the soul of a nation for centuries.

A careful consumption of Nigerian history reveals a similar culture of industry. Gigantic groundnut pyramids once drew tourists and business tycoons from all over the world to northern Nigeria. These pyramids were the brainchild of Alhassan Dantata who became West Africa’s richest man. Generations later, his great-grandchild is one of the richest black men on the planet.

Stretching further back in time, beginning from around 800 A.D., powerful rulers of Benin Kingdom in southern Nigeria, successively oversaw the construction of what became the world’s longest earthworks; city walls that reached an astonishing 16,000 kilometres.

Nigeria can bring about her own miracle if we unify the legacies of industry spawned by our various cultures under strong and visionary leadership at all levels.  Moreover, we cannot forget that unlike Japan, we have an unbelievable wealth of resources waiting anxiously for a call to service. Will you give the call?

Samuel Okopi @  samuelokopi.com

 

The List

Four years ago, I moved back to Nigeria with many preconceptions that prevented me from being as happy as I could have been. I know now that I know nothing about Nigeria, but I also know that I know more than I did before and I will know more tomorrow. Everything I’ve learned is in this list, which I will patent as, Simple Rules for Visiting or Returning Nigerians, and Maybe Locals too.

1) No one wants to hear you complain

If you have a sob story after a month’s stay, how many sad stories do you think people who live here have? Twenty, fifty, uncountable?

2) You don’t have the magic solution

People who begin their sentences with, “You know what the problem with this country is . . . ,” make me roll my eyes. No I don’t know, eminent genius, tell me what the problem is!

3) You can’t be tired of this country

Nigeria has problems. You proved that by leaving. Don’t throw your hands up at every challenge you face. Remember when your mother embarrassed you in public and you thought, oh God, I need new parents? How did that work out for you?

Here like elsewhere in the world, your task is not complicated: be a decent person and be decent to other people, whether in molue or presidential motorcade. Good leaders come from caring people, and I now know I belong at the starting line.

If you find the list above disagreeable, you can opt for the Babalawo1 Price List (medicine man’s potions):

BUSINESSMAN  PACKAGE                              ₦60,000

Super Business boom

No double cross*

Success job contract

No more promise and fail

*Stops people from double-crossing you. Does not prevent you from double-crossing.

 

LANDLORD PACKAGE                                    ₦50,000

Command tone / Do as I say (tablet, grind into water or dissolve in mouth)

Win court case

Reveal enemy+

Silent Rich

+Only reveals enemy, does not destroy them. For complete, also buy Destroy enemy from A LA Carte menu. Can combine.

 

ROMANCE PACKAGE                                    ₦35,000

Love only me (potion)

Go all night

Easy to satisfy**

Avoid divorce***

**Do not combine with No more promise and fail.

List continues here

Tolu Talabi @ naijarookie.wordpress.com

  1. Babalawo: (Yourba) an Ifa priest, who ascertains the future of his clients via divination. Loosely used to refer to native doctors.

 

 

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

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