mobile phone

I have three mobile phones, so what? Of course, I have all my papers. How could I live and work in The Hague otherwise?

These phones, ah, in Nigeria, they felt neither heavy nor out of place when I laid them on the table in a restaurant, side by side, as if to compare their sizes.

Things have changed since I left Nigeria, they tell me. But I can only tell you what I know. That when my conversation with a friend ended because of network wahala, he called back on another network, blaming the earlier bad connection on heavy rainfall. That when I lived in Nigeria, rain was one reason I had three phones.

So that if rain melted one provider’s “wireless” wires, I could turn to another who might not be that unlucky. So that if lightning set one provider’s telecom mast ablaze, I could turn to others who could get their fire extinguishers ready on time. So that if Sango, thundered against South Africa’s MTN, I could turn to Glo, owned by a son of the soil, who might have been spared.

Network problems are rare here. These three phones? It’s a Naija thing. I am yet to meet any Nigerian at home or abroad who has less than two phones.

My first phone is my “official” phone. Friends call me on this number, as well as my boss, the tax office, the gas company, the police, telemarketers, and King Willem-Alexander. This phone from network operators like Vodafone, KPN, and T-Mobile, suffers one major limitation, which my second phone overcomes.

Because I call family and friends in Nigeria and the African continent from my second phone, the SIM card must come from Lyca, Lebara, Vectone, or Delight, providers that offer discount call rates to Africa. Any smart phone that accommodates Viber, WhatsApp, and the almighty BBM, will do because every Nigerian chats on BBM. Moreover, in Nigeria, exchanging BlackBerry PINs follows introductions and handshakes. Your blue eyes are widening; don’t you know what hyperbole is?

My third phone is the cheapest brand in the market. It’s only purpose is to rescue me. Imagine, if you can, that one day, you are in the Open Market, buying oxtail, shaki, cow leg, and real beef, from of all people, that Dutchman who eats vlees  that you cannot eat, but has a stall where Africans troop.

This inability to acculturate, to do something as simple as buying and eating meat from Albert Heijn after twelve years in The Netherlands is your undoing for you bump into your distant cousin in this little corner of Africa.

He calls you by your Nigerian name, daring you to ignore him. You both register your surprise and long-time-no-sees. You dribble the chit-chat past where you live to you will call him. His protest drowns out the sound of the Moroccan fruit vendor calling, “Bananen, vijf voor maar een euro!” How can he expect you to call him when you are his senior—did you not come to Europe before him? His oyibo neva reach dat level, abegi! He will call you.

You give him your third phone number. The number your mother gives to your secondary school friends because she does not require your permission to do so. The phone that you switch on when you need to make obligatory calls to relatives who think you pick gold off European streets for a living.

My dear, the phones on the table are mine and mine alone. I am not a 419, na so life be. If you still don’t understand, I will explain in the morning. Switch off the light and snuggle close to me, I like to hold you when we sleep.

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Wahala: (Nigerian Pidgin; perhaps of Hausa origin) Trouble or problem.

Sango: Yoruba god of thunder and lightning.

Vlees: (Dutch) Meat. Many African immigrants shun the “flat” meat in supermarkets, preferring the meat sold in Halal shops or the Open Market (oxtail, shaki, cow leg, etc.).

Albert Heijn: Dutch supermarket chain

His oyibo neva reach dat level, abegi: (Nigerian Pidgin) translates roughly to, living abroad has not made him forget his Nigerian roots or culture.

Open Market: Officially De Haagse Markt. It lies between Transvaal and Schilderswijk, districts populated mainly by Moroccan, Turkish, Antillean, Surinamese, and African immigrants. The market reflects the neighbourhood’s diversity.

Na so life be: (Nigerian Pidgin) translates roughly to, that’s just the way it is.

Photo credit: The Reboot / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/70292973@N07/7197724426/

Title: Mobile Phone Hanging from a Tree

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.

Sacrifice or no Sacrifice?

Dutch Royal Family 30-4-2013

It’s been one humble selfless year of papal resignation and queenly abdication1 with fixed tenures bumped in favour of well-received successions. So what will you give up to the applause of the world around you? What noble act will cause you royal pains for therein lies the definition of sacrifice? Here in The Netherlands, I needed to see first-hand what sacrifices Queen Beatrix’s legacy and King Willem-Alexander’s enthronement had inspired.

Undutchables Recruitment Agency photo

I hit the streets on this last Queen’s Day, to see what my fellow Hagenaars were up to. Mind you, I’m not a journalist, for the official version, watch CNN.

Our national flag stood at attention on masts protruding from the first-floor walls of most houses. The flags caught the wind that brought the change and waved gaily at onlookers and passers-by. Orange buntings completed the look, which stopped short of the madness (oranjegekte) that engulfed the streets during the 2012 UEFA Euro championships. That year, endless lines of orange buntings crisscrossed the streets running from one house to the next.

Street flags courtesy NL Planet

In support of the royal house of Oranje, everyone donned something orange. Orange wigs, orange hats, orange tees, orange skin, orange leg warmers, orange sun glasses, orange scarves, orange pants, orange balloons, orange inflatable crowns, a sea of orange broken by the green bottles of merry revellers. And they were quite a few, staggering, whistling, and taking a very public pee in honour of King Willem-Alexander. Beer flowed in abundance and although it cost around two Euros a bottle, VAT remained 21%. With solidarity so strong, what else could the new king ask for?

Queens Day

Dancers aka modern-day court jesters. Nothing shows the true state of the heart like the carefree, uninhibited movements of hands, hips, and legs wobbling in tipsy land. Beatrix was a good queen; Willem-Alexander will be a good king the gyrations seemed to say. Perhaps because it was late in the evening, after the controversial koningslied had been sung, street parties showcased English music and foreign dance moves.

queens day Voorburg

Echoes of an inebriated crowd singing Sweet Home Alabama faded in the distance as I walked home and pondered what all this portends for the new king. The sun must approve because it shone until it chased the coolness of a 13ºC spring day away and held the rain at bay.


Now that we’ve packed our Oranje paraphernalia until next year, pray tell me, whether you live in The Netherlands or not, what are you giving up in honour of a greater good that’ll cause you royal pains?


©Timi Yeseibo 2013

1. Quote from Nkwachukwu Ogbuagu, Facebook Timeline photo, 30/4/2013.

2. Image credits:

Royal family photo: http://www.koninklijkhuis.nl

Undutchables Recruitment photo: https://www.undutchables.nl/

Street Flags photo: http://www.nlplanet.com/

Koninginnedag photo: http://www.holland.com/

Unattributed photos: ©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.