Leave Trash For LAWMA

“Stop, stop,” I urged the Uber driver.

He obliged and I came out of the cab with my phone to take a photo of the signpost. 

refuse disposal

“Why did they put up the sign,” I asked the driver, shaking my head as I returned to the car and put on my seat belt. “Do you think people will obey?”

“The first problem,” he said, “is that the people that it’s supposed for can’t even read it. When they see it, they will think it’s about 419.”

I nodded recalling the caveat emptor signs commonly seen on buildings and plots of land: This Property is Not For Sale; Beware of 419.

But, I was not sure if he had correctly estimated the literacy level in Lagos, Nigeria, because I was using the people in my circle, who can all read and write, as a gauge for the rest of society.

“Hmmm do you think it is fair for God to dirty their lives if they can’t read the sign?” I chuckled at the image in my mind of an angry God with smoking nostrils, waiting to rain trash on dissidents.

“I don’t know why they have to bring God into this matter. This thing is simple.” He went on to describe the current system of refuse collection initiated by the local government authorities.

“See,” he slowed down and pointed to a refuse heap, “they can throw their rubbish here . . . but only those who have paid, those that have cards.”

I have written about voluntary compliance before, marveling that Nigerians need the brutal arms of uniformed men to coerce compliance out of us like malu congo, yama yama congo—a derogatory chant that I cried out as a girl. It was aimed at cows being driven with a stick by a herdsman intent on the cows doing his bidding.

But as the driver and I exchanged ideas about efficient systems of refuse disposal and the role of government and religion, I observed that humans in general, were wild at heart, bucking at authority and searching for short cuts. That if law and order seemed to prevail in the western world, it wasn’t so much the result of “civilization”, but the result of sophisticated systems of policing—a speed camera mounted on a busy street ensured compliance without invoking the wrath of God.

I asked the driver what he thought people who aren’t able to pay the fee for refuse collection should do with their garbage.

“I don’t know o. Na wa! Only God can save this country!”

He had come full circle and now embraced a premise he had earlier rejected, why bring God into this matter? He (and I), had done more thinking about a social problem than we normally would have and that was not a bad start.

He brought me back to the present by interrupting my thoughts with a double entendre.

Madam, abeg leave trash for LAWMA!”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

LAWMA- Lagos State Waste Management Authority.

Abeg leave trash for LAWMA– ordinarily, in this context, Pidgin English for: please allow Lagos State Waste Management Authority do their job.

(Abeg) leave trash for LAWMA– a hashtag on Twitter, the result of feuding between two Nigerian music producers. It has morphed into a slang that means (among other things), please talk about something else.

 

©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.

Two Years On

Two

My blog is one way by which I measure time. April marks two years since I began blogging. The earth spins on its axis as it revolves round the sun. The moon pulls the oceans and lets them go. If I did not write, the earth, sun, and moon, would not have stopped for me and I cannot imagine what else could have filled my days so.

Self-discipline is the hallmark of my journey. It is the ability to make yourself do what must be done.

When I’m in the zone, I could write forever. Ideas ooze from me and words tumble out faster than I can type them—I abandon current thought and scroll down the page to type perfect sentences and beautiful dialogue, falling from heaven like gold dust.

Many times, I’m out of sorts. Experiences burn me and disappointment visits nearly every day. My head hurts and my emotions are pink like cut salmon. I sing, tired oh so tired, and I’m too tired to compose a new song. I question which direction to take my blog or if I should quit. And most of all, I don’t feel like writing. Not writer’s block, but an insidious lethargy, which is akin to living with a low-grade fever.

I’m not unique in this regard. This is how we sometimes feel about our jobs and responsibilities. When did the things we love become a prison that we long to escape? But we show up at our jobs and dance on the stage of our lives anyway.

 

One Friday evening I’m moaning about how I don’t feel like writing.

My friend nods in understanding, “No, you don’t have to, it’s your blog. Not like anyone is paying you to. I’m sure people would understand.”

She is right. However, I can’t miss a Sunday post. Maybe it’s because growing up, my mum pushed me to outdo myself. Or it’s the result of my school principal repeating at assembly, “What is worth doing is worth doing well.”

“Yeah, but I have to,” I say.

 

So, that night, I discipline myself to write about an incident involving a friend and then launch into a broader conversation about what we value as a society. Disciplining myself to write means that I turn down many invitations, adjust my sleeping habits, watch less soaps, and read more stuff.

I muster all my skills and still feel as though the article could be better. Bloodshot eyes and new streaks of grey; five hours later, I know I have nothing more to give.

Eventually the article resonates with readers as reflected in the comments and shares.  In a sense, this is the reward of diligence—pushing past inner and outer turmoil and insisting on excellence from myself. The discipline of writing weekly provides momentum for those times when I’m flat. Still, I shake my head. I know this, and in fact all I’ve achieved, isn’t my doing. A wise man said:

The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant
or favour to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

If this is my time, then my blog has been my chance. And self-discipline would mean nothing if I didn’t have readers like you encouraging me week after week.

Thank you!

 

 

© Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Photo credit: http://pixabay.com/en/digits-pay-123-1-2-3-series-705666/

 

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.

Policing Ourselves: Imagine That!

policing ourselves

Three years ago, I read in a national daily that the sergeants-at-arms of the national and state assemblies were to be trained in crisis management and parliamentary combat control. They were to complete rudimentary physical drills and simulations that are adapted to tempestuous law-making chambers where members freely jab each other and often aim at the symbol of authority, the mace, to disrupt proceedings. I had a good laugh then even though it was a factual report written devoid of humour.

Beyond the hilarity, I wondered why we need to be policed all the time, why voluntary compliance is so lacking. We have thrown self-discipline out the window and need the brutal arms of uniformed men to coerce compliance out of us like malu congo, yama yama congo—a derogatory chant that I cried out as a girl. It was aimed at cows being driven with a stick by a herdsman intent on the cows doing his bidding. LASTMA, for example, has borne the ugly brunt of many-a-jokes, but its existence means the joke is on us.

There is a clarion call for visionary leaders, honest leaders, and accountable leaders. Bad leadership gets the blame for the ills that plague our communities. However, the present crop of leadership is drawn from the current population so, what you have is what you get. Like the computer, garbage in, garbage out. Or was it from watching violent American movies that those legislators learnt how to engage the opposition with punches?

One view of leadership postulates that leadership is ultimately about getting people to contribute to making something great happen. Rallying supporters to violently disrupt proceedings in the House of Assembly while stirring them up with we-no-go-gree-style chants is not what this view of leadership advocates.

Leadership also involves self-discipline. We would do well to imbibe the words of the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu, “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”

The other day, I waited in the crowded hall of a bank to pay in a cheque and there were only two bank tellers at the counter.

Their supervisor sat in a glass-walled office, oblivious to the impatient crowd. Where was initiative? She could have risen from her throne to work out a way to dispel the crowd. But, why should she? It was the same scenario day after day, and the bank was not losing customers on account of it.

A gentleman and I bemoaned our fate. We prayed that the “system” would not “go down” before it was our turn to be served.

He said, “I could have been at the front of the queue. A friend offered me a space in front of him and the man behind him did not mind.”

“Why didn’t you take the offer, you could have been out of here by now?”

“I didn’t want to cause confusion, like that man.”

He drew my attention to a man with swagger.

“Excuse me,” Mr Swagger said to the man on the queue who was next in line to be served, “I just want to ask a question.”

Distrust shone through the other man’s eyes. Suspicion made him move slowly, but he made room for Mr Swagger to stand in front of him. Then wham bam before you could say leadership, cheque and money exchanged hands. Mr Swagger tucked his bundle in his pocket and sauntered casually out of the hall, toothpick in mouth, as if he had just finished eating bush meat. He had taken us for a ride. Tomorrow when he becomes local government champion, I mean chairman, he will take us for a longer ride and maybe outsmart the opposition with his fists.

Barack Obama inspired millions when he said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” In other words, good leadership begins with me and leading others starts today not when I get to Aso Rock.

According to the report in the daily paper, after the police suppress a fracas in the Assembly, lawmakers always point out that the disgraceful event occurs not just in Nigeria alone. So, if I put my hand in the fire, will you too put your hand in the fire? We cannot continue to justify our bad behaviour on the bad behaviour of our neighbours. We are old enough to distinguish between good and bad.

Now, before you and I turn up our noses at the “fighters” for justice, we would do well to consider that the cloak of shame widens to engulf us all, whether living at home or abroad. And as long as we still need WAI, KAI, TimaRiv, LASTMA, and the likes, in addition to regular law enforcement, we will have bad leadership.

Ol boy eh, garbage in garbage out!

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

The original article, Policing Ourselves: Imagine That!, first appeared here on November 4, 2010. Nearly three years later, the contents remain relevant.

 

People illustrations by Microsoft

Design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

 

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.