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A brief muse on revolution + God is Allah + A chat with the Radio Amazon + Anything is Possible + Let the Truth be Told + Licensed to Survive
2 a selection of interesting citizens a few questions on this subject, and we got some really cool answers. Is our generation all talk-talk and tweettweet, or can we get off Facebook for a few minutes and take concrete steps to hold our government responsible for the change we want? We need to do more and forget less. The average Nigerian will rave and rant, but just moments later will he/she will forget what the noisemaking was all about. No more, people! #Enoughisenough. There are people in Jos who will live in fear and pain for years to come, and as you will read in our “Heal Jos” series of essays, we can live together in this country, despite our differences.
Someone asked us recently if the Reload is a magazine. No it’s not. It’s the Reload, plain and simple. Keeping true to our mission to cover youth-related issues in as many places in Naija as possible (yes people, Nigeria is much more than Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt), we have put together yet another packed issue. Contained within these pages is our first (ever) investigative feature. It’s a thoughtprovoking piece, and also an exciting read. We have our usual mix of unusual interviews, lifestyle features, personal essays, entertainment news, and loads and loads of brilliant photography and snazzy graphic art. What’s identity to you? Is it about pride, heritage, a sense of belonging, or just wearing a “Naija” t-shirt? We asked
As the politicians gear up to start their election campaigns, I hope we also gear up to choose the right leaders. Our vote is one way that we can stand up and make our voices heard, and we should, we must, use it. Come 2011, it’s Cool2Vote!
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One final thing: does anyone know where we can beg, buy or steal a pet octopus? We hope you enjoy this bumper issue of Reload, and don’t forget to surf by www. switchedonnaija.com to view other readers’ comments on all the pieces published in this maga . . . erm . . . Reload.
Sola Kuti email@example.com
8 Things women should know about men.
Who is Maye Hunta?
The Best friend.
EDITOR: AI Barrett CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Sola Kuti PRODUCTION: Collins Ogundele ENGINEROOM: Ama Lydia Yankson DESIGN & LAYOUT: Naija Talk Limited LOGISTICS: Damilola Ogundele Send contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
A brief muse on revolution.
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God is Allah.
CHAIRMAN: W. Adeyinka
A chat with the Radio Amazon.
POSTAL ADDRESSES NIGERIA: P.O. Box 4016, Ikeja, Lagos State
Anything is Possible.
Let the Truth be Told.
My representation of Heaven.
The case of the two police officers detained indefinitely on charges of rape.
Catching up with Tosyn Bucknor.
Licensed to Survive.
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shoot ‘em down
worth da hype
Skales, whose real name is Raoul John Njeng-Njeng, is an 18-year-old rapper, song writer and performer. This emerging talent has wowed audiences around Nigeria with his unique rap style and his charm on stage, from the Zain Tru Search talent competition in 2008 to the Soundcity Blast concert in 2009, where he astonished the crowd with a rap a cappella.
Wande Coal > For winning 5 awards at the Hiphop World Awards 2010.
2face Idibia > For his hot new album, Unstoppable.
His first single, “Must Shine”, enjoyed good airplay in early 2009 and made it into the Rhythm FM “Top 7 Jamz at 7” in Lagos. It was also the ‘Hit Song of the Week’ on Rhythm FM in Jos and Abuja. Skales has gone on to record and write well over 20 songs and has collaborated with some of the finest music acts in Nigeria, such as Eldee Tha Don, Jeremiah Gyang, Banky W and Knighthouse.
#EnoughisEnough > For taking the message from the internet onto the streets.
Jesse Jagz > For his track ‘Intoxicated’, featuring Soul E and Wizkid.
His new singles ‘Heading for A Grammy’ and ‘Be Mine’ will hit the airwaves in 2010.
Nuhu Ribadu > For his reinstatement as AIG of the Nigeria Police.
HHWA 2010 > For the inclusion of a tribute to the late rapper, Dagrin.
Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun aka Wizkid is a talented singer, songwriter and performer. He kicked off his singing career at the age of 11 when he recorded his first song with one of Nigeria’s most celebrated music icons, OJB Jezreel. 2009 would prove to be Wizkid’s break-out year, as his collaboration with MI on “Fast Money, Fast Cars” on the multi-award-winning Talk About It album drew major attention to his distinct voice, singing style and songwriting skills.
Wande Coal’s “Water to Wine” music video. Ruggedman’s phone call recording stunt with 9ice. Untalented artists using Dagrin’s death to launch themselves into the limelight with tribute songs.
Those who believed Nigeria would stand a chance of winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup on the strength of prayers rather than preparation.
Wizkid is hard at work on his debut album, which will be released by EME Records, and he has released his first two singles titled “Holla at your Boy” and “Gidi Girl”.
The Super Eagles for “falling our hand”.
+ mo’cheddah wallpapers
Mo’Cheddah drops her new hit single titled “Ko Maa Roll”, off her soon-to-be-released debut album The Franchise Celebrity. The song comes as a sequel to her recent hit debut ‘If You Want Me’, which is already enjoying heavy rotation on radio stations across the nation.
The recent and unresolved Jos crisis.
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+ ese peters Ese Peters is a Nigerian singer,
We have “Pizzard” It came from a friend of a friend who got it from a friend somewhere in Nigeria. Though we traced the source of this menu, we chose to let them be. Here’s our latest WTF picture! Read the list of mouth-watering dishes.
“Haleeeoou” (it’s the royal wave from the Don of Mo’Hits). Ehn . . . but the wave shocked even our camera guy. He’s so LOL the pose made us go OMG. Not forgetting Oga Kwame in white. Hello Boss! Send us a caption for this pic guys! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
songwriter and guitarist. His music has been described as soft rock, pop and folk. Ese learned to play the guitar by himself when he was 12 and wrote his first string of songs when he was 16.
Check out: http://www. reverbnation.com/artist/song_ details/2967541#/esepeters
9 “WORST” WAYS TO BREAK UP WITH A GIRL By @gigachic
Is there really a good way to end a relationship? The likely answer is HELL NO! But there are some ways to send a lover packing that are more horrible than others and I’ll be sharing with you those I feel are the absolute worst . . . 1. Status updates: changing your Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single” in the hope that she’ll take the hint. This is a funny but very wicked way to end a relationship . . . and it’s quite silly also because you now leave room for the “offended” party to post all sorts of retorts/insults or teary love songs on your wall . . . this is so not cool!
2. SMS, email: this is a cowardly way to end a relationship. If you ever cared for that person you should find the courage to tell them to their face . . . no matter how uncomfortable it is.
3. Call a friend: you are too chicken to tell her yourself so you get a friend to tell her . . . it even sounds wrong! Wow, it sucks to be you . . . plus, your friend may even get slapped for his effort at straightening your love-life.
4. Rumours: you tell everyone it’s over, everyone but her . . . and then she gets to hear the news from someone else. Don’t underestimate the power of a woman scorned! Especially if her favourite song is “I burst the windows out your car . . .”
5. In public: you are at a party when all of a sudden you can’t take it anymore and need to tell her it’s over . . . bad idea . . . you should be prepared for a scene. She could get all weepy and beg or she could hurl insults at you that would most likely consist of the inadequate size of your you-know-what and how much you suck in bed . . .
6. Turn the tables: you start behaving badly . . . missing dates, etcetera, and all of a sudden you’re always too busy. You’re on your worst behaviour to frustrate her into breaking up with you . . . mind games aren’t cute!
7. Disappearing act: you stop calling, stop visiting and in some extreme cases, change your number and move out of your apartment . . . this leaves your partner wondering if you have been kidnapped or worse still, you are dead. Isn’t it easier to just say it’s over?
8. I love you and all but I’ve found someone else: this is guaranteed to get your tyres slashed. End one relationship before you start another . . . you don’t want to be remembered as the asshole that cheated on her . . . 9.
It’s not you, it’s me: please, whatever you do, never use this line—it’s just plain stupid! She knows it’s her, it’s all about her . . . just state your reasons for the breakup and leave, quickly!
8 things women should know about guys! By (One Broken Rose) OBR
So I saw @gigachic’s article and decided to do one for the guys. It would seem an honourable gesture considering the fact that she did school us about the other half. Well ladies, I saw your comments too . . . maybe this will help cool you chics off a bit (sorry I just thought about wet t-shirt contests!) 1. We get “turned on” easily. So the occasional hug or knee rub means nothing to you, but did you notice he’s still sitting down? Most guys have perfected the art of “de-boning” (my phrase). However if you also catch him walking sideways with his back towards you . . . don’t be alarmed, just understand!
2. We calculate when you’re not looking. So we take you out for dinner and look through the menu and ask what you would like to have. Don’t be fooled, we’ve already done the calculation. At times you might also notice that our hands have been in our pockets for a while . . . beneath the cloth, our fingers are moving like money counters, calculating how much we have. Now you know why some guys put different denominations in separate pockets!
3. We love to feel the ‘boys’, ‘mini mes’, ‘weapons of destruction’. Women have for long felt that men scratch or fiddle way too much down there. Wrong! We are checking to see that the ‘family’ is still there . . . or don’t you remember there was a time you could easily lose your ‘precious’ while walking on Naija streets? Also, some of us have been so blessed that we have no problem counting in inches, and so once in a while we have to position things in comfortable places.
4. We hate old school nightgowns! Who wants to come home to a woman covered from neck to ankle with lace trimmings and little blue and pink roses scattered like a bad curse over the material. Your man might not say it, but he knows a sexy nightgown when he sees it. Be careful if he never complains . . . there could be a Victoria’s Secret somewhere!
5. If and when we do propose… Don’t laugh or wait too long before you answer! It’s already a daunting task to decide to throw away our “little black books” and grow old with you. A swift (hopefully positive) response will be appreciated. However, we wouldn’t mind a tear or two . . . what the hell . . . cry all you want. It would make the proposal feel all the more effective.
6. We have egos (that sometime need massaging) I know most women don’t get the “daddy’s cup”, “daddy’s chair” or “daddy’s meat” thing. But most guys need to feel like the men of the house. However, some of us have experienced the revelation that the woman is the stronger sex, but once in a while we try to exert supreme prowess . . . even if we will beg you later.
7. We are curious beings! No explanation needed. I’ll end with a story. I once saw a little kid hold up a magazine that had a picture of a model with a miniskirt. He tried without luck to look through the paper. He then placed his head sideways on the magazine . . . right on the models legs, pressing his head so his eyes could touch the paper. It only hit me later . . . the little brat was trying to look up her skirt!
8. We send signals to the competition Did he just help you fix your hair, straighten your collar or hold your waist? Most times women see this as a show of affection. Wrong! He’s signalling the competition to KEEP OFF. Yes, somewhere in the crowd, another guy is looking at you and he has just made the guy know he is the King of your castle. But there’s another side to this behaviour: if he’s not doing it, it could be because he wants the females out there to think he is available.
attention to detail By Unoma Giese
The ripple of muscle
The clinging to your torso
Sweat in skin’s creases
The sheen of dark black skin
The sounds of flesh on flesh
The sheer funk of pleasure
The rough of stubble
Makes every caress moreso
The gasp of releases
On square strong chin
A net to us enmesh
Abandon beyond measure
The power of your 6foot6
The arch of my back
The manliness of the man
The presence of your aura
The tingling scented lubes
Your rhythm, your breath
The plenty in your bag of tricks
A thrust and a smack
The canliness of oh yes you can
The last gift of Pandora
The trimmed curly pubes
Inertia in the aftermath.
The fervour of a kiss
Nipples and tongues
Senses blaze aflame
A zoning-in on bliss
Moans like songs
A breathless call of name
Entangled limbs adoring
ww w. sw i tc h edo nn a ija .c o m
career, and that video you were talking about was the first single off my first album, which was called “Introduction”. That song was called “Gbedu”, featuring DJ Waxxy. From that album I released 3 major singles, shot 3 videos. There was “Gbedu IV” featuring Buffalo Solider, and also [another single titled] “Igho”. Then there was the video of the song that was nominated for the Channel O Awards in 2007, in 3 categories, which were the Best Reggae Dancehall category, Best African video category and the Video of the Year category . . . We didn’t win, but that was a good start for us. So I have been doing music for a while now. I started writing songs in 1998, left Nigeria for South Africa in 2002, and dropped my first album in 2005. The album was not released in Nigeria ‘cos I had issues . . . Damola: What issues? Maye: I had issues with my partners. There were also some unforeseen circumstances—I was basically trying to come back to Nigeria and then . . . I just saw what everybody was doing and I decided to put my old album aside and work on a new one. Damola: Was that what inspired you to launch yourself on a controversial note? Maye: Well . . . not necessarily. The thing was, like I said, we had the album ready, I came back home, had issues with my partners, I tried to work it out but results were not forthcoming, so I decided to “rebrand” basically, you know, changed my looks and all that. I wasn’t such in a hurry to come out—for me it was about coming out with my own style. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and see how I could do something different and unique. Now, “Ekaette”, the way it came about, I think was somehow spiritual . . . Damola: First of all, who is Ekaette? Maye: Ekaette na fine babe mehn! It’s a character in a song, you know what I mean, just in case you want to ask me of whether it’s a true story or not . . .
who is maye hunta?
Damola: So, how is Ekaette doing? Maye: Ekaette dey alright mehn! She dey house. Madam no gree make she dey commot anyhow these days . . . So yeah, she’s a character in a song—a fictitious character that I came up with. But at the same time, it’s a true story, because it’s a story that happens in our society a lot. And I just figured that, why can’t we tell a story of things that people can relate to? And at the same time, pass out a message.
Damola: Who is Maye Hunta?
By Damola “Wild eye” Ogundele
I had been tracking Maye Hunta for some weeks, until he finally gave up running and invited me over to his house for the interview. On arriving at his place, I found, as I had expected, this good-looking, well-built dude—very much the image of the music star—but his warm, cool and calm attitude was a real surprise. I enjoyed talking with him, and I hope you enjoy the interview too.
Maye: Maye Hunta is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, actor— in short, I am an entertainer. My real name is Olumayowa Adekunle Odejimi and I’m from Ogun State. I represent the rock city, Abeokuta. Egba for sure! Damola: You just classified yourself as an actor. Any major movie? Maye: My first professional acting experience was on “Jacob’s Cross”. It’s a series that shows on MNET. I acted in it as a bodyguard. Damola: You have the looks . . . Maye: Yeah, I know what you mean . . . [He flexes his muscles]. Damola: I remember one of your early videos. You wore baggy jeans shorts and a yellow basketball jersey in it . . . From then till now, how would you rate your penetration of the Nigerian music scene? Maye: Well . . . I must give all the kudos to God first of all and obviously to “Ekaette”—that song has been good to me. I have been doing music for a while now. I left Nigeria in 2002 for South Africa to study and also purse my music
Now, the reason why we had the whole “Ekaette” thing going was not to say that it’s okay to sleep with your house help—it’s a wakeup call in a society where most couples are always busy. There’s the hardworking, career-driven wife and the busy husband, and in the process of chasing a career, she leaves her home and allows a third party inside the home, and there the problem starts. So basically, there’s a moral in the story. Damola: Do you have a house girl? Maye: Ah ah now—everybody got a house girl! Damola: I don’t mean everybody. I mean you. Maye: No, I don’t have a house girl—I have a house boy . . . Damola: How successfully have you managed the Ekaette issues around you? Maye: Somehow, it’s a very controversial topic—for starters with the video and everything. I think it’s been successful, ‘cos it’s given me the kind of break into the Nigerian market that I’ve never had before. So yeah, it’s successful. I thank God and my fans . . . Damola: And it’s a reflection of a true story, isn’t it? Maye: Yeah, it’s a reflection of a true story, so a lot of people can identify with the whole story . . . Damola: Nothing personal?
7 Maye: No, nothing personal at all . . . Damola: Someone around you? Maye: Yeah, I mean, you could say that, you know. Firsthand information . . . shit happens, you know . . . Damola: So—is Ekaette really that fine? Maye: Mehn . . . Ekaette fine o! She sexy—from what I even hear . . . I hear say “Ekaette” don turn slang for street. So there is the madam of the house and the Ekaette too. It’s like having a serious relationship and having something on the side too. But at the same time, I would like to use this medium to say that the choice of the name “Ekaette” is not meant to be derogatory in any way, ‘cos there’s this issue of people saying its stereotypical, saying that the house girl is Ekaette. Yeah, we’ve had some criticism on that issue. But like I keep saying to everybody, it could have been “Risikat” or “Amina”. It’s just that Ekaette was a good cook in the story, that’s why the madam brought her to the house, because she did not have the time to cook for her husband . .. Damola: And she cooks well, abi? Maye: Mehn! The edikainkan is bad ehn—if you taste it, you won’t want to leave the house o!
Maye: No be small thing o. Well, “Ekaette” has a sequel—it says “to be continued” in the video.
Maye: The album is called “Mayefestation”. The title means the manifestation of Maye—I don show. It’s a 14-track album. The first single off the album is titled “Ekaette”, and we have other songs like “Street University” featuring Sound Sultan, “Owo Faaji”, and “Paparaazi” featuring Vector. So Ekaeatte will not be the only the successful song on the album. For the critics out there, grab yourself a copy of the album and then decide . . .
Damola: So is Ekaette bringing her younger sister from the village—or she opts for an abortion or what?
Damola: On your first album you were known as Maye, but now you are Maye Hunta. What’s with the change of name?
Damola: What’s the relationship between madam and Ekaette after the whole “belle” issue?
Maye: Haba bros, calm down now . . . you no want make I hammer ni? You just have to wait—there is a Part 2 and possibly Part 3. Damola: Now, there is the audio and video restriction on the song by the NBC’s censors’ board. How are you coping with the ban?
Maye: Maye is just a nickname coined out of Mayowa—I got the name when I was in the university, that’s Ogun State University—I be OSU boy. My friends used to call me Maye and so I stuck with that. But as time went by, I rebranded and felt a need to have a stage surname. My surname is Odejimi, which means the crowned hunter. So that’s where the Hunta comes from. Damola: We can say your music career is taking off. Are there any other plans the fans should know of ? Maye: Like I said before, Maye is not only about music— I’m a whole entertainment brand. But you know you need a platform for starting—I’m also interested in the business side of music—I’m a business man and also a hustler. So I will get into other things, but I’m not going to have so many things on my table, such that I won’t be able to concentrate. I just want to break in and so far, so good. I represent my own label called Made Entertainment and I’m the first artiste on my label—na me sign myself!
Maye: You know, it’s just unfortunate, the whole NBC issue has kind of slowed down its airplay in Nigeria, as they basically banned both the video and audio, so the song is no longer on TV and radio, but it does not mean it’s not playing on cable. So yeah, we have tried to look into the issue, I have been to the NBC office to see what can be done about the whole issue, because what they said they want was the radio edit of the song. Now, if you listen closely to the song, there are no swear words, so I don’t understand what they want us to do. But my management went back and said, you know what, let’s take it a step further, so we went and did a broadcast version of it and still they won’t allow it to go on air. Damola: Despite the ban, do you think that you’ve made your breakthrough as an artiste? Maye: Well . . . I’m not halfway to where I want to be. You are never there, ‘cos if you think you are then you obviously you won’t grow. But I think it’s a good start—I have been able to get my style of music and my face into the homes of people and now I have more fans in Nigeria than I have ever had before, and it helps me build some anticipation around the album. “Mayefestation”, that’s the name of the album. The album drops in a short while, and there’s excitement in the air and even though “Ekaette” is not playing, people are still craving for it. So as an artiste, that’s what you want—but there’s still more goodies to come. Damola: What’s your relationship with other artistes? Maye: We are cool, ‘cos I have been around for some time now—I’ve been able to develop a relationship with many of them. They would come to South Africa and I would come home—and we interact well. Forgetting the kind of music you do, it’s all about the creativity . . . Damola: Anything to say about the forthcoming album?
THE BEST FRIEND
By Chris Ugo-Jones
The two women embraced with the joy of a friendship regained. One was clothed in an ankara blouse and skirt. At the age of thirty-one, her face was beginning to show signs of age, brought about by pockets of fat, which hinted at a decline in her sense of style. A head tie and a wedding ring completed her dressing and announced her as a married woman. The second woman wore a purple trouser suit and black high-heel shoes. The makeup on her face attempted to reduce her age by a significant number of years—it succeeded. Her weave-on was so expertly done that it was difficult even for other ladies to discern if it was her real hair or not. Her age of thirty-two was contained in a slim frame of five feet and six inches, which was just right for a Nigerian woman.
We bought the food and headed back to the office. Two minutes out, Lara’s phone chirped to the music of P-Square’s ‘No One Like You’. She answered it. “Hi dear . . . I’m good. You? Ah-ah, you are too sweet sometimes . . . tonight? Most definitely darling . . . I’m on my way to the office and I’ll see you . . . Bye.” She blew a kiss into the mouthpiece and cut the connection. As a confirmed amebo, curiosity was eating me up inside and I wanted—no, needed—to know who called. “So,” I said, not able to contain my curiosity any longer, “Who’s the guy?”
was happening. But I had promised to say nothing and if he could not decode the situation, then my lips were sealed. He gave up trying to understand and continued what he was doing. Two days later, Oyin, Lara’s friend, walked into the bank. After the initial hugs and greetings, she sat down and they entered into a conversation. I knew this was something I needed to hear to feed the vast chasm of curiosity that ailed me. I walked casually to her desk and pretended to fill a cup with water from the dispenser. The conversation, though in hushed tones, was loud enough for me to eavesdrop on. “…have a boyfriend now,” Lara said.
“Which guy?” She couldn’t hold her smile in.
“Hm. That’s cool. What’s his name?” Oyin asked.
“The guy you were talking with on the phone. Lara, you may not know this, but I’m actually as intelligent as I look.”
“I won’t tell you just yet. It’s better I show you. Before you leave, I’ll take you to see him.”
“I agree, given that you look like a monkey.” I was about to take offence at her statement when she added with a laugh, “Just joking. You are a fine boy.”
“Please tell me his name, now.”
“Hope he’s a fine guy oh. Anyhow, I trust you. You never went out with rubbish guys.”
“What is it?” I said, alarmed.
Phew. That was close. Heads would have rolled if she hadn’t retracted the statement. And yes, I’m pretty vain. Pun intended.
“See, oh my God. See, stop, don’t pass! Please, oh my God, stop!”
“Promise me you won’t tell anybody,” she said as she gazed into my eyes.
The urgency in her voice caused the driver to turn sharply to the right. As he did so, a horn blared loudly behind us. I looked back and I saw an eighteen-wheeler truck hurtling towards our car. Our driver looked in his side mirror and realized his mistake on time. As he swerved to avoid a crash, the truck missed us by inches and clipped off the side mirror. Lara and I screamed in terror and hugged ourselves without thinking while the driver struggled to control the car, steering it this way and that before finally bringing it to rest by the side of the road.
“I promise,” I said, not wanting to but having no other choice.
I watched the two hug and jump and scream all at once and I smiled. Lara and I were on an errand for the Head of Operations to buy packs of food from the nearest eatery. We had just turned onto Lalubu Road, when she shouted at the driver: “Stop, stop, stop!”
Both of us were still screaming sixty seconds after the car had stopped. Lara stopped screaming first—the driver had to slap me hard for me to regain control. Tears ran down my eyes and mucus down my nose in the aftermath of the distressing incident. Lara had to cradle me in her arms before I calmed down; and I was not ashamed. But before I had time to fully appreciate this embrace, Lara flung open the car door and ran out, shouting a name. A woman turned, with a questioning look, looked a little harder, opened her eyes wide and screamed: “Lara!” “Oyin!” Lara screamed back. And they both jumped into each other’s arms . . . which is where this story began.
“I won’t breathe a word.” “Okay. You know the new guy in Corporate Banking that was just transferred from the Head Office?” “Yeah. Hamza Bukar. That fine guy. Wait . . . you’re going out with him?” “Um, yes.” “Hm. Fast babe. But isn’t he married?” “No.” “He looks married.” “Really. How do married men look?” “I don’t know. More mature I guess.” “He told me he isn’t and that’s good enough for me.” “Okay. Just be careful,” I said with a niggling feeling I could not shake off. I could sense trouble was coming but I did not know in what way it would appear. Back at the office, I decided to watch out for confirmation of the office romance. And it did not take long in coming.
They talked for twenty minutes straight and finally exchanged phone numbers. Then Lara came back into the car, beaming.
Lara was a customer service officer and, later that day, as she attended to a customer Hamza strolled to her seat. She did not see him until he put his hand on her back, pretending to ask a question. I tapped Dare, who was beside me, and pointed as Hamza gently caressed her back. The gesture seemed innocuous to the uninformed but then, I was not uninformed; neither was I a slacker.
“That was my best friend in secondary school. Oh my God.” “Aw, that’s nice. You guys lost touch?” I asked. “Yes. And we were so tight. We did everything together.” Girls. They like doing everything together with their best friends. And when they marry, they expect to do everything with their husbands which, most of the time, never works.
“CJ, make sure you don’t tell or else, I’ll be very cross with you. I know you like gist.”
“Why are you pointing at Lara?” Dare asked. “Nothing,” I replied. He kept looking at me to understand what
“Wait small ah. We’ll go there soon. Let me finish up what I’m doing here.”
“Abi. But I was so picky that till now, I am not married. I hope this guy is the one. And to answer your question, turn around and see for yourself.” Good timing. The water had just filled the cup when Hamza came to see Lara for one of their intimate moments. As he walked towards the customer service desk, he stopped and the smile on his face froze. I wondered what was happening and I turned to see Oyin staring open-mouthed at Hamza. Lara, oblivious to the tension in the room, ran and hugged him. Uh oh. So this was the trouble I felt coming. It took a while for Lara to realize something was wrong. Hamza stood rigid on the spot and all the customers stared. “Hamza, what is wrong?” she asked. Then she turned to Oyin, whose face had the ferocity of a wounded lion. “Do . . . do you know him?” she asked Oyin. “He is my husband,” her newly regained friend replied in a flat tone. Someone whistled. I think it was me but I did not have the time ponder on this. There was too much drama in the room. Lara turned to Hamza. “Is . . . this . . . true? Hamza, is this true?” She was crying. “Say it isn’t so. Please tell me Oyin is lying. Oh God.” And she fainted. There was commotion in the hall as people rushed over to revive her. When she finally came to, she saw Oyin and Hamza standing over her, concern etched on their faces. “Oyin, why are you crying? You should be angry with me,” Lara whispered, sitting up. Oyin wiped her face. “Lara, there is something Hamza and I have to tell you.” Huh? The drama was not over? “Hamza and I are not married,” Oyin said. What? There was nothing else that she could say that would be any more
“Lara stopped screaming first—the driver had to slap me hard for me to regain control. Tears ran down my eyes and mucus down my nose in the aftermath of the distressing incident. Lara had to cradle me in her arms before I calmed down; and I was not ashamed.” confusing. What was happening? I was itching to hear the end of this mystery. “Hamza and I are old friends. He came to my house when I moved to Abeokuta and told me he was going out with you. We decided to be naughty and pull your legs a bit to make you loosen up about your relationship. Unfortunately, it went worse than we expected. I’m sorry.” “Baby,” Hamza begged as he knelt, “please forgive us.” Lara was in shock for a while before she could speak. When she finally did, she said with great effort: “Hamza, you embarrassed me in front of staff and customers. You made me think I had made myself a whore . . .” “Baby I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I love you,” he pleaded. “. . . You connived with my best friend to ruin my reputation. That, as far as I’m concerned, is cheating.” “My darling, please don’t talk like this. It was only a joke.” “A very expensive one. Hamza, this is the end. Me and you are through.” Hamza looked like he wanted to burst into tears. Oyin rested her chin on her chest and shook her head. Even with my love for office drama, this was a bit too much for me. A tear ran down my cheek. But Lara was not finished. “Me and you are through,” she repeated— “through with all the secrecy!” And she began to laugh. Everyone burst into laughter as the prankster got a dose of his own medicine. “I love you, Hamza.” “I love you too, Lara.” They hugged tightly. This is not an American movie so, no kisses here. Only hugs. It was a happy ending to what seemed like a Mexican soap opera—full of romance, beautiful people and intrigue. I love happy endings. And all’s well that ends well. Rock on! Chris Ugo-Jones is the pseudonym of a banker who is also, in his spare time, a writer with a flair for the comic.
A BRIEF MUSE ON REVOLUTION: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! By Q’dance These days I have learnt to keep my mouth shut and ignore comments about the state of the Nigerian polity. I think we talk too much of our desired world—and too much talk hinders the possibility of action. When we scream “Enough is Enough!” and rush to update our Facebook and Twitter status, what do we hope to achieve? I’m no man of experience in all these, but I am aware of a certain kind of disposition that comes with these virtual beer-parlour chatters. The human and social sciences have accustomed us to see the figure of man behind every social event, just as Christianity taught us to see the eye of the Lord looking down upon us. Such forms of knowledge project an image of reality, at the expense of reality itself. In Nigeria, we are so bound by talking that the reality of power overwhelms us, turning us into docile and obedient citizens. When we settle for the politics of desire, which drives our wishes and actions into a revolution (the kind that is directed against all that is egoistic—and heroic—in man), we are prompted by an instinct of selfaffirmation and self-preservation that cares little about affirming or preserving a real cause. In brief, see how culture works. There is something we call Official Culture—that of religion, academia and the state—which provide definitions of patriotism, loyalty, belonging and boundaries. It speaks in the name of the whole, in opposition to that, we have the counter-culture, that of the unorthodox, heterodox and other alternative strengths that contains many anti-authoritarian themes that are in competition with the official culture. This “counter-culture” is in essence an ensemble of practices associated with various kinds of outsiders: the poor, the immigrants, the activists, the workers, the rebels and the artists (as a rule it excludes celebrities—at least the attitude they represent).
Let the real artistes please stand up. Real artistes are those whose minds are like every other mind, who have one head and two feet and so are not superhuman. The major difference is that they possess a superlative mental power of sensation, perception, memory and imagination, which makes them seem more susceptible to the world that surrounds them and makes them deal less in artificial aesthetic values. They are like visionaries that lead the way to the unknown; they are not manipulators of the present, doing all they can to stop time, either for enjoyment of power, fame and self-aggrandisement. This is why pop culture cannot lead anywhere in nation building; it can do no more than come and go like the arrogance of a single stick of cigarette. Thus, I find it rather disturbing how we christen every riffraff as an artiste these days—you can’t just buy or lobby for that title. One thing I realise as a basic contrast between dictatorship and democracy? Dictatorship = SHUT YOUR MOUTH (that’s why opposition is stronger during a dictatorship). Democracy = JUST KEEP TALKING (that’s all the opposition’s got). At the end of the day it’s all same and alike, especially with pop culture, capitalism and globalisation working side by side with democracy. We shall talk, sing and rally for a very long time, and some shall acquire more fame in the process. At some radical moments, I am tempted to believe that our problem is democracy. So: • Let’s endeavour free political action from all unitary and totalitarian paranoia and take a journey through loss of ego; • Develop action, thought and desire by proliferation, juxtaposition, and disjunction, and not by subdivision and pyramidal “hierarchization” (for example, I need no Audu’s picture to see how important a cause is); • Do not think one has to be miserable or
has to be known in order to be militant, even though the thing one is fighting is abominable. It is the connection of desire to reality—and not its retreat into the forms of representation—that possesses revolutionary force. So, let’s ask ourselves: does the general psyche call for a real life revolution, away from Twitter and Facebook and Sahara Reporters? • Do not use thought to ground a political practice; nor political action to discredit— as mere speculation—a line of thought. Use political practice as an intensifier of thought, and analysis as a multiplier of the forms and domains for the intervention of political actions.
And let me say this:
Who are you?
When we approach the task of nationbuilding through logos and slogans, it makes absolutely no sense—don’t get me wrong, we can tear ourselves apart, or reunite with a slogan: “Ghana must go”, “make Nigeria one”, “come with us or go to hell”, “Boko haram”, etc. This has little or nothing to do with nation-building.
Michaela Moye. What do you do? I’m a writer. I studied law at University of Abuja but I have worked as a journalist since 2005 and I also write short stories (as yet unpublished). I recently began working in PR after setting up Moye Media. I make and sell jewelry under my business name, IYANNU.
The cultural and other values which we live by are the values that led us “here” in the first place—these distorting mists of national (youth) euphoria and moral negligence and ideological barrenness which led us to this point are still seen as continuing in the identity of the nation. Since that identity has not changed, has undergone no revolutionary purge either in its guts or at the head—this revolution has no date and no place in time and space— the real revolution must therefore be made of fragments, and not as a whole body (of TV peoples). It must shatter the foundations of thoughts and attitudes, and recreate. Our collective break/down must result to our collective break/through.
How would you deﬁne identity? I believe that identity is not so much a destination, as the journey to discovering who we are. Identity is not solely about who we are and where we are from; the discovery process is just as important because that identity changes every day. Today, I might be a writer from Nigeria. Tomorrow, I might embrace all my other roots—the different cultures, religions and tribes. We are. I am. That is identity. What is the ﬁrst question, in your opinion, a foreigner would ask about Nigeria?
Only in this way does every individual share in the holy mess and understand the real purpose of the sacrifice.
Can we drink the water? (My answer would be “Yes!”)
And then we can all scream “Enough is Enough!”
Are you comfortable writing about nonNigerian characters?
But how soon will this be?
I wish us all the best.
How many states in Nigeria have you visited?
18. If you were President of Nigeria for a day, what would you do? Sort out the electricity. Power runs industry. Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you? Jesse Jagz, Audu Maikori and Wole Soyinka. “Shame” 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate?
The first episode uncovers life in the Olusosun rubbish dump. The film follows the daily lives of two men who have become skilled at turning rubbish into gold. Eric, aka Vocal Slender, is a musician, and every piece of scrap material he finds brings him one step closer to his dream of launching his music career. But a serious fight nearly ruins his chances . . .
Nigeria is a blessed country, truly we are. We are bestowed with resources that make us the envy of many. There’s crude oil in the creeks, gold in Oyo, tin in Jos, coal in Enugu, and then to crown it all, there’s Innocent Idibia in Benue.
I don’t think I could ever be so ashamed of being Nigerian that I would have to migrate.
A contemporary, Nigerian take on the classic story of Cinderella, an ordinary girl who rises to win the heart of—and also marry—the Prince through the intervention of a Fairy Godmother despite the obstacles life throws her way in the shape of a hostile Stepmother, envious Half-Sisters and a family rocking from financial vulnerability.
Describe, in one word, how Nigeria will be in the year 2060? United.
r e’ loa d
ww w. s wi t c hed on na i j a . c om
By Gimba Kakanda
hildhood revolves around innocence and a strange perception of the essence of existence. Childhood could also be a period of guilt, especially if the morality conveyed by religion isn’t inculcated. I grew up with the peaceful constitution of Islam, which to this day remains the cardinals of my existence. I lived Islam, spoke Islam, slept Islam, and woke Islam. All around me— in the northern city of Minna with its sizable population of Christians—was Islam. Islam teaches the submission to the commands of the Supreme Being—Allah—carried in the Koran and Hadith. My parents broke my childish resistance to the acceptance of moral virtues, to the attendance of Koranic schools, to deference of my elders, to the perpetuation of good deeds— all so I would have a shade in paradise when I depart this world. And the thought of purgatory alone, preached by our mullahs, turned us, the children, into passionate adherents of godly acts. In that time of childhood, we saw the followers of other faiths as infidels or unwise believers in God; a look that they, too, cast on us. As a child, I would flaunt my religion with a saint’s innate pride, narrating the exemplary life of Prophet Muhammad to my Christian friends. In such moments we debated the supremacy of our Prophets, estimating their influences on humanity with childish vehemence, often exaggerating our respective stories to gain the upper hand. Our fervent adherence to religion waned as we grew older, perhaps diluted by the secularism of the modern world. Many of my friends—Muslims and Christians—who had lost the “fright of hereafter” or had loosened the strings of parental supervision, grew weak in the practise of their religion. A number of them stepped into the fort of agnosticism, many driven to this by the charlatan displays of some of those on the frontlines of our religions. In truth, the reasons to question the faith of our childhood were many: our rising awareness of the history of the Negro race, with its trials and tribulations; the discovery that our religions were forced on our forebears by “white” colonialists; the realisation that there were doses of white supremacy fallacies in the construction of these religions, and so on. A number of my friends, in recognition of their raped heritage, opened their arms and hearts to traditional African religion.
But my years of whingeing over the rape of black Africa by the non-African preachers of God, Allah, Jesus, Muhammad, etc., had failed to throw me into the lake of atheism. My dread: if I rebelled against my faith, what then would guide my life? I am human, fragile—without the shield of my submission to the will of Allah, I could be easily tempted into immoralities. I am human, and could be thrown onto a path of spiritual destruction if I chose to be the “god” of my life. The thought of Allah, I realised, tethered me to morality. It is true that international politics has interfered with the purity of religion. The shameful hues of tyranny, rivalry, racism, nationalism, and even egotism have turned the universality of religion into an expired pill—this divine pill that ought to cure the lunacy that despoils the happy constitution of the world. Politics has blinded us, has caused us to repel the Koran as an Arabic doctrine, the Bible because it was authored by many, the Torah as an outdated text of the Jews, the Bahgavad Ghita as inconsequential scribbling. Political, cultural and racial mischief asked us to see Islam as lore of the Arabs, Christianity as the stolen tradition of the Jews, or Hinduism as a practice of primitive Indians—and so also the rain of repulsion demolishes other faiths across the world. Now, as an adult, I’ve long broken that deceit that paints other religions as inauthentic lore, or promotes Islam in superlatives charged by the politics of racial or provincial superiority. But many out there—brainwashed and misled, uneducated and poor—have embraced fanaticism in the name of religion. Islam could be a religion of war. Christianity, too, could be a religion of war. This we know all too well in Nigeria. These religions could be martial when marshalled by fanatics that know no colour of fundamentalism. The best path to co-existence is never to ‘beckon’ the war in peace. Maturity awakened me to the knowledge that I am a Muslim because of my parents, and that my friend Joe is a Christian because of his parents. I accept that my friend and I could have been born into different faiths. This ‘blasphemous’ realisation has prodded me to search for a connecting strand between our humanities. It has led me, ultimately, to define our many religions as ‘tributaries of oneness”. Oneness, yes; because the God of the Ibo is the same as the Allah of the Fulani. In spite of all our differences, God is Allah.
believing by lulu oyigah
was born and raised a Roman Catholic. I wouldn’t use the word ‘staunch’ or even ‘devout’ to describe my family or my Roman Catholic experience, but my parents, especially my mother, would instil The Fear of God in you with a whip if need be. My earliest memories of church were sitting next to my father in the pews of Saint Dominic’s Catholic Church, Yaba as the congregation sang the Build for the Lord song (a song which I can still sing perfectly today), and after church was over, waiting for him to buy us banana-flavoured Walls Ice Cream on a wooden stick. Some weekdays after school, we went straight to church—our nanny, my elder brother and I—so my brother could attend his First Holy Communion Catechism classes. As we waited for my brother, my fondest memories were of wandering through the ancient architecture of the quiet church compound, talking to the statues of dead Saints, chasing after lizards and pigeons. I remember sitting on the moss-laden concrete blocks, creating fantasy words and worlds. With the sand as a board and a twig as my chalk I taught an imaginary class lessons on Vocabulary and Addition and Subtraction. My early years were more an experience of the church than they were of God, of the church as a building than as a people. It was not absolute but it was enough. During those formative years the church was a symbol of peace and goodness, Sunday was a quiet, holy day (even when we didn’t go to church), and God was Our Father up there who watched over us, who we were not to offend by doing anything bad. Bad Things were things like lying, stealing, fighting at school, and being disobedient. By the time I got to secondary school you were either Roman Catholic or Anglican. If you were Other, you belonged to the Anglicans. I was neither Anglican nor Roman Catholic enough. I didn’t fit in anywhere and it hurt at first. I cried once in my JSS 1 during an October Devotion, as the voices of the students rose in call and response and I could only contribute a few words to the resounding chorus. Never having recited the Rosary and the Litanies much as a child, I found them initially interesting but later mechanical and impassive. There had to be something more to being a Christian than this bipolar denominational take. I saw more of what I wanted in the
11 Anglicans (and Others), so at the end of my secondary school years I attended a Youth Camp with them. After the camp it was just the right thing to do: I became ‘Born Again’.
was so surprised. I said nothing. He prodded. I told him that he didn’t look or act Muslim, he seemed so . . .
It was then I felt, okay, right now I really belong to God’s family. But it was far from perfect. The greatest challenge of Christianity is its diversity in doctrine, scriptural interpretation and teaching. But the Word of God remains the one thing that binds us all together, forever. I wasn’t Roman Catholic anymore, neither was I Anglican, I admired Pentecostalism, I attended Deeper Life and Redeemed Christian Church for two semesters each and Christ Embassy for one semester while I was in the university, I’d been to a Jehovah’s Witness conference for two days, I’d been fascinated by the Rosicrucians and the Mormons (who have church premises so neat you could eat off their grounds). Religion-wise, I have been there, done that.
I looked away. All Muslim men should have a long beard, wear caps on flowing caftans, speak Hausa or Arabic, and be violent; having encountered so few in my lifetime that was the image I unconsciously carried with me; so Jide couldn’t have been a Muslim.
My journey was not that of a confused soul, it was one of a seeking heart. Everything I have experienced, every spiritual journey I have made, has helped to further cement my belief in the God I call my own and in the standards He has called me to live by and uphold. My heart was wide open because I wanted Christianity to mean much more to me than the ritual of church attendance and fellowship; I wanted to really know God. I’m alarmed at this new theory of Christianity not being a religion but a way of life. Christianity is a religion and a way of life. It is a religion because we believe in it; it is a way of life because we live it. Everything in life points to the existence of a Higher Power, an Intelligent Creator who made all things with such precision and astounding detail. Max Lucado said that, “If a person had nothing but nature then nature is enough to reveal something about God.” I ask myself: What would it cost me not to believe? Or to believe? God’s Word, The Holy Bible, with its origin shrouded in scepticism by some, is still the best of all bestsellers. I like to say that even if it was forged or cooked up, it was a dish so wonderfully prepared, so excellently fabricated, contrived for the benefit of mankind. But we all know good things like the Bible don’t happen by accident. For example, no other definition of love I know can surpass that expressed in the Bible in the first book of Corinthians, Chapter 13. If a person should say I don’t believe in God but lived by the principles in the Bible then they would have lived a good life indeed. The teachings of Christ embody peace, love, unity and purity; I don’t know how I cannot follow this Man who gave His life for me. I don’t know how I cannot believe. Christianity seems abstract because it’s odd, really, to say that you believe in a God you cannot see. I draw most of my inspiration and strength from intangible things: meditation, belief in a cause, relying on my subconscious. The essence of life, then, in itself is supernatural. The seeming abstractness of Christianity is a beautiful paradox. The Bible says that “it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” The same Bible says that if someone says ‘I love God’ but hates a Christian brother or sister that person is a liar. For if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God whom we have not seen? The true measure of spirituality then is not only in how much we love God but in how much we love our fellow men. An honest devotion to God translates into love, acceptance and tolerance of our fellow human beings. Living out my faith involves sticking to godly principles but also being willing to understand the convictions and the lifestyles of those around me. This used to be quite difficult, learning to assert my beliefs and still give room for differences of opinion. My friend, Jide, lives in the same estate as I do. We had met during my National Youth Service Corps year and became friends when we found ourselves living in the same area. One evening we met on the streets where I was returning from seeing someone off and he had gone to buy fruits. To break his daily Ramadan fast, he said. That was the day I discovered he was a Muslim, our discussions had always been centred on experiences during our service year and on computers—he was doing a Cisco certification programme. My facial expression revealed my shock. He asked why I
“Gentle?” he said.
Later on we began to talk about Islam and the Bible. I wanted to know what the Quran said about Jesus. He told me that Mohammed was the last of all prophets. I told him that Isaac was the child of promise, not Ishmael. He told me there was only one true God, Allah. We talked about Boko Haram, the Jos crisis and Sharia Law, how religion was now being used as a tool for violence. He told me about Yusuf and his twelve brothers; I told him that it was the same story of Joseph in the Bible. We had more in common than I had thought. In the end, we disagreed on the most important things. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, My Lord, My Saviour; Jesus (Isa) to him is a prophet. But we agreed on one point: our humanity, how religion affected us both. Christianity is summed up thus: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. A second (commandment) is equally important: Love your neighbour as yourself. It doesn’t take much to embrace a Faith that encourages me to do the one thing that would make my life, my world, better: to love.
By Kola Tubosun
hen I served in the mandatory one-year national youth service in a little village close to the city of Jos in 2005, the state still deserved its motto, “The Home of Peace and Tourism”, even though there was always a shadow of violence looming in every corner and conversation. In September 2001, 4 years before I arrived there, there was one of the bloodiest bouts of violence between the Hausa–Fulani “settlers” and the “indigenes” of the state and when the smoke cleared, there were over 1000 people dead, with many homes and businesses destroyed. In a few months things returned to normal but there was always the shadow. Nobody knew when it would rear its ugly head or what its trigger would be. But it was always there. In May 2004, a few months before I got my deployment papers to travel over 800 km from my home city to Plateau State, there was another bout of killings in Yelwa, the southern part of the state, in which over 700 people died. In all of these cases, the failure of government has been the cause of the carnage. In all of these cases, the violence spread and caused irreparable havoc before the agents of state appeared on the scene. And in some of these cases, when they eventually showed up, they took sides and did some extra-judicial killings of their own. Of all the ills of a badly-run government, the biggest and most disappointing crime is to be found guilty of taking sides and complicating the situation, and finally, not bringing the perpetrators of crime to justice. While I was in Riyom, which is a short distance from the state capital of Jos, I lived in relative shelter from the political realities of the town, but only to the extent of actual violence that eventually occurred in some parts of the state even while I was there. I was not sheltered from the conversations and the anger. For many who lived in my part of the state, the problem of the state was not only fuelled by religion, but also by a political and economic undertone. Who were the indigenes and who were the settlers? To many who had an opinion, the Hausa–Fulani cattle herders had come from the North to take over the land from the Plateau indigenes, who were of a different tribe. Plateau state is one of Nigeria’s most linguistically
“In Nigeria today, this politics of ethno-religious domination, mistrust and ignorance/ arrogance is sadly one of the biggest threats to the survival of the nation.” and ethnically pluralized states, yet Hausa is a language spoken by all in addition to local languages. In Riyom, where I lived, the language was Berom. The indigenes did not see themselves as Hausa–Fulani and always seemed to be fighting against a perceived dominance of the language and culture of the “settlers”. In Nigeria today, this politics of ethno-religious domination, mistrust and ignorance/arrogance is sadly one of the biggest threats to the survival of the nation. And because of this, an agriculturally unique region of the nation—that was famous nationwide as the best place to live in the country because of its climate, history and people—is trapped in a burning fire. In an ideal federation, there should never be restrictions on where free citizens should live, as long as it’s within the borders and one can respect the rules of the land, which are fair and just. The religious dimension of these series of crises is as unfortunate as it is saddening. It is high time we removed separated religion from all affairs of state, as is accepted practice in the most developed countries in the world. The case in Plateau state as well as many other volatile regions in the country—including some places in the Christian south—is the distrust that comes from ethnic affiliations. When it becomes tied to economic and political survival, hell is let loose— especially in the absence of a moderating influence of a trusted agent of state. I am, like every other patriotic Nigerian, wondering how we got to this sad juncture, and wondering, too, how to move on from this cycle of violence. More than prayers for the family of victims, we need a more responsible and responsive government, just as much as we need better education for all. Also, as deterrent, all culprits in the killings must be brought to justice. If international intervention is needed, let us have it. Those who kill fellow citizens do not deserve to live among us, if they deserve to live at all. There is nothing that should stop Hausa–Fulani cattle herders from living and prospering in Jos or in any other part of Plateau State, and neither should there be a threat to the practice of Christianity, Islam or any other religion in the state. For years the 2 major religions practiced in this area—Christianity and Islam—have lived alongside each other without any hint of violence. What changed? I intend to visit Plateau State again. I still have friends there, many of whom I’m still in touch with. I will go with a camera and I intend to visit places I didn’t get to see during my first visit. It is not just a sense of loss and sadness that moves me to plan this visit; it is also a sense of disappointment at the wasted lives, the wasted property, and the wasted chance of nationhood as exemplified by Jos, formerly the home of peace and tourism. Kola Tubosun is a Fulbright Scholar and the author of the blog www.ktravula.com where a version of this piece first appeared in March 2010.
12 Who are you? I am Chris Ihidero. What do you do? I am a writer and TV drama & film director. I run the Centre for Excellence in Film and Media Studies, the training arm of Amaka Igwe Studios, where I’m also the Creative Head. How would you deﬁne identity?
Unoma Giese What is the ﬁrst question a foreigner would ask about Nigeria? Depending on the foreigner, “Where’s that?” What do you do?
It’s a combination of how we see ourselves and how we are seen. While I strongly believe that how we see ourselves is primary, I also insist that it is extremely important to pay attention to how we are seen by others. Not so that we may change to suit their purposes, but that we do not live in a fool’s paradise constructed by the identity we have created for ourselves.
What is the ﬁrst question a foreigner would ask about Nigeria?
What is the ﬁrst question a foreigner would ask about Nigeria?
If the foreigner is American, it most likely would be “Where is Nigeria?” Or worse still, “What is Nigeria?” Americans can be notoriously uninformed! If European, it could be how we are sorting out our numerous wahala. If Chinese, it would be about investment opportunities, seeing as half of Africa has already been “bought up” by China. If Indian, there’ll be no question, as Indians litter all nooks and crannies of Nigeria and Nigerians are beginning to look Indian these days! They even have their own cinema; what’s next, an Ashram? If the foreigner is a fellow African it most likely would be “When are you Nigerians going to finish killing yourselves so that Africa can truly be great?”
Dangerous place, isn’t it?
Are you comfortable making movies about non-Nigerian characters?
Photographer and writer. How many states in Nigeria have you visited? Dunno but quite a few. Who are you?
I could be, especially as a great story transcends borders. However, context is key, and the stories we tell best are the ones that are skin deep, steeped in our reality.
What do you do? I work as a radio personality at 92.3 Inspiration FM. I am a freelance writer for Next, FAB magazine, Naija Times magazine and Bellanaija website. I also have a blog called Guerrilla Basement productions. I’m a publicist on the side and a voice over artist. I also write poetry. I have too many occupations . . . Lola Shoneyin What is the ﬁrst question a foreigner would ask about Nigeria?
Who are you?
What do you do?
I’m just a young gypsy woman educating myself about the universe that surrounds me—its inﬁnite opportunities and its energies. Also hoping that in some part of my existence, I can make some kind of difference to humanity.
I teach and I write, without the luxury of changing that order. How many states in Nigeria have you visited? About 20. I found myself in some unexpected states during my NYSC year.
#Unoma Giese (yes, with the hash!) Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you.
A woman in search of substance.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, Igoni Barrett, Prof Onuora Osamo.
If you were President of Nigeria for a day, what would you do?
Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you.
IBB and Anaconda the attorney general.
Nothing. One day is too short to do anything that would amount to something. Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you?
What is identity?
Obafemi Awolowo, Amaka Igwe and Williams Ihidero, my father.
Who one feels one is. Describe—in one word—how Nigeria will be in the year 2060.
“Shame” 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate?
Depends. What is Nigeria? That big country with big brains, big egos, big mouths and big mistakes.
Christopher Okigbo, Mamman Vatsa and Fela Anikulapo. Go ﬁgure.
What is identity? The sum of what we most want to be.
What is Nigeria? Potential interrupted.
I would abolish poverty. When was the last time you told a lie? When was the last time I said the pledge?
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OBJ and Abdulmutalab. What is identity?
Describe—in one word—how Nigeria will be in the year 2060.
If you were President of Nigeria what is the ﬁrst thing you would do?
Less than an hour ago.
“Shame” 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate.
I’ll rather not mention names. But I’d like them to migrate, for the sake of the next generation.
When was the last time you told a lie?
Iheoma Obibi, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Rev. Mrs. Bamidele George. Can I add my mother in there?
It’s an awareness and acceptance of who you are and what you are.
Describe, in one word, how Nigeria will be in the year 2060?
Implement the constitution to the letter.
Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you.
“Shame” 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate.
None. I shall not be moved!
If you were President of Nigeria what is the ﬁrst thing you would do?
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Who are you?
Describe—in one word—how Nigeria will be in the year 2060.
Why hasn’t there been a revolution?
How many states in Nigeria have you visited?
“Shame” 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate.
How many states in Nigeria have you visited?
Progressive. What is Nigeria? An abyss of contradictions. If you were President of Nigeria what is the ﬁrst thing you would do? Make it mandatory that anyone running for any kind of political ofﬁce undergoes extensive psychiatric evaluation and lie detector tests as a part of their process to evaluate if they are even ﬁt to run for anything. When was the last time you told a lie? Probably today . . . just an “alternative truth” really.
13 Who are you? My name is Josephine Dorgu. What do you do? I’m a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades. I’m a management consultant for small-scale industries, particularly in the O & G industry. I also do web development for some of my clients. It’s basically a one-man outﬁt so my client load is not KPMG-size but it keeps a roof over my head. Currently I’m doing a part-time gig with a new client, which requires that I come in 2–3 days a week and oversee their IT network and I’m also their Admin Supervisor. I also have a number of artists who want me to manage them and I’m contemplating looking at expanding my consulting area of concentration. See . . . I did tell you . . . I juggle many balls! How would you deﬁne identity? Identity for me is fundamentally who you are. That thing that deﬁnes you and gives you deﬁnition and purpose as a person.
Who are you? I am Afolabi Durotoye. Aka Beazy.
What is the ﬁrst question a foreigner would ask about Nigeria?
What do you do? I make music, so I guess that makes me a musician. To be more speciﬁc, I’m a rapper. How would you deﬁne identity? I would deﬁne it as a state of being. It’s what I am, what I do and what I stand for. What is the ﬁrst question, in your opinion, a foreigner would ask about Nigeria? “Um . . . excuse me, but how do you guys cope with the lack of constant electricity?” How many states in Nigeria have you visited? I’ve been to Lagos (I currently reside here), Ekiti (I’m from there), Ondo (I used to be from there before Ekiti was formed), Kwara (my mom lives there), Oyo, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano (just visiting), Abuja (my dad lives there), Katsina and Plateau (I was born in Jos). I’m pretty sure I’ve been to more but I just can’t recall at the moment. So by my count, that’s 11 (eleven) states. If you were President of Nigeria for a day, what would you do? Realistically, there isn’t much I’d be able to do in just a day. But for one thing, I’d ﬁre everyone. Don’t know how much good that would do but it would at least change the course of the nation. The way I ﬁgure, it can only get better, right? Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you? Abake Durotoye (my mother), Femi Kuti and I’ll get back to you on the third name. Shame 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate? That’s a tough one but I’d have to say that Muttallab fellow.
Is it true you are all fraudsters? Who are you? Dudutoonz Studioz is a group of young, creative and competent Nigerians with years of experience in different areas of digital arts—animation, characterization, graphic design, motion graphics, music production, sound recording and design. Dudu means black in Yoruba. The name Dudutoonz goes beyond just a name, it’s a mission statement. We promote and contribute to what can be called Black-toons, or better yet Africancartoons, a platform that educates, celebrates and promotes the lifestyle and the rich cultures of Africans. We are working towards the creation of a network of African cartoons. What do you do? What we do can be classiﬁed into two categories. First, services for corporate bodies or individuals which include all areas of digital arts. Second, our products, one of which is a TV animated series called “Baba Imuleru”. It’s a story about the wisdom of the Yoruba tribe. We also have a comedy magazine called Crazy. How would you deﬁne identity?
Are you comfortable writing about nonNigerian characters?
How many states in Nigeria have you visited?
Promoting Africans and their works to the world comes ﬁrst. We still uphold the value and respect that we have for other non-Africans characters.
I’ve been to 11 states so far.
How many states in Nigeria have you visited? More than 7 states. If you were President of Nigeria for a day, what would you do? Dudutoonz is an organization, so it cannot be president. Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you? Philips Emeagwali, Chinua Achebe, and Chris Oﬁli. “Shame” 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate? None. Describe, in one word, how Nigeria will be in the year 2060? Robust.
If you were President of Nigeria for a day, what would you do? If I were the President of the FRN I’d ﬁrst and foremost decree that all bills and edicts passed would be irrevocable for at least four years. Thereafter I’d give states autonomy as is implied by the word “federal”, forcing each state to generate their own income streams and diversify the economy. 30–40% of all revenue would be directed to the Central government for social capital development projects. Infrastructural development would be the responsibility of the state governments, as it is believed that the states have a better understanding of their requirements. I would also set up a short-term (limited to 6–18 months). Social welfare system that included entrepreneurial development training and a grant to start business after the beneﬁt program ends. Also, I would privatise the power production sector, as business cannot thrive without power. These are the basic things I’d do. Name 3 Nigerians that inspire you?
The individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known.
Fela Kuti, Abike Dabiri and Queen Elizabeth Bens (my mother).
What is the ﬁrst question a foreigner would ask about Nigeria?
“Shame” 2 Nigerians that make you want to migrate.
The foreigner will ask about the people of Nigeria, about their lifestyle, culture, arts, their values and belief systems. This deﬁnes a nation and without it a nation is just another piece of land.
IBB and (does it have to be just two? Can’t I select a group and call it one?) “the Super Eagles and NFF”. Describe, in one word, how Nigeria will be in the year 2060.
Describe, in one word, how Nigeria will be in the year 2060?
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By Eghosa Imasuen
hile admitting that I have (as a writer) milked Warri’s reputation as a wild town for all it’s worth, while acknowledging that most comedians exaggerate the crassness of the oil city, while smiling at myself—knowing that this is one of the most boringly middle-class cities in Nigeria—I cannot help but put down here that yes, Warri isn’t an ordinary town. But if you live there you still wonder at the wide-mouthed gasps that greet your accent when you visit Lagos. You smile to yourself at the ridiculous questions:
My uncle’s wife, Aunty Phina, lives at Igbudu Estate. Igbudu Estate used to be called Bendel Estate II, before the old state was divided in two. Bendel Estate I, presently Ugborikoko Estate, was on Airport Road (a road with no airport on it. There’s a heliport though, but that’s not the same thing, is it?) She teaches pro bono at a secondary school inside Igbudu Market. She can afford to teach pro bono because she is employed by DESOPADEC, which is the acronym for the Delta State Oil-producing Areas’ Development Commission.
“Is it true that you see machinegun-toting teenagers walking the streets?”
“We hear say pick-pockets for Enerhen Junction fit naked you for broad daylight. Na true?”
DESOPADEC is Warri’s version of a state welfare system. All you need to do is hustle to place your name on the salary list. You do not need to go to work everyday; just appear on payday and collect your slip; and keep your ear to the ground in case the commission’s executive board decides to carry out a staff-screening to weed out “ghost workers”. The only problem is that with its bloated payroll DESOPADEC can only afford to pay salaries once every three months, when its quarterly subvention from the State Government is received.
Such questions remind me of the ones we accuse Americans of asking; the do-you-live-in-trees-and-playsoccer-with-lions-and-baboons variety. We complain and discuss the issues above at family gatherings, at beer parlours, and wonder at the madness of it all. My Aunty Phina—who’s lived in Warri all her life—says she now fears the city more after she returned from a journey to Lagos. She tells me that what she hears in other places about a city she knows like the back of her hand makes her think twice about going out late, about walking past Enerhen Junction.
Aunty Phina wakes up every morning, greets her politician husband with a kiss, takes her bath, and rushes off her children to school. She has three. The first is a genius with a tested IQ of 160. Tsewo is fourteen and is an embarrassment to his mother. Being a genius doesn’t guarantee good manners. He contradicts his elders at every turn, has done so since he turned five and developed ‘good judgement’. I do not talk to the boy—I fear him. I remember when he explained the workings of the “global positioning geo-stationary satellite system” to me. He was seven at the time.
The gist she hears in Lagos makes her wonder why she finds Warri comedians unfunny. I tell her that this is because everybody in Warri is a comedian. She agrees, saying that she now understands why everyone she meets in Lagos laughs whenever she speaks, even when she is saying something serious.
After Aunty Phina drops her children at school she “branches” at her mother’s hotel and sits there for a while. Every day, like clockwork. She doesn’t have to hurry to the job at WCC. It is pro-bono, so she keeps her own time. Aunty Phina works two double-periods teaching Economics and Business Studies to the SSC2 and JSC3 classes.
Mama Phina is an old woman with a bad mouth. Each time her daughter—Phina—visits her shop she spends her time cursing the “fake militants” corralled in a former hospital on the Warri–Port Harcourt expressway. She says they are all looking for money; that the real militants are still in the creeks; that the real guns are buried somewhere in Ijawland.
By now the time should be eight-thirty. She isn’t due in school for another hour.
Phina goes to see her mother to complain about her husband’s sisters, one of whom is my mom. Her husband, Uncle Jeyisan, is an only boy. Uncle Jeyisan is a politician.
“What is it really like at Enerhen Junction?” “How una dey sleep at night with all the explosions?”
“It’s the accent,” I tell her.
Aunty Phina’s mother’s hotel has just recently been painted. The front has a fresh coat of whitewash. The walls give off a white powder that turns a stubborn yellow when you try to rub it off dark clothes. Nobody leans against the walls. Mama Phina had the hotel painted because she felt that events had overtaken the old sign she put up, in bold red oil paint, on the facade of the hotel ten years ago. It read, “Calabar Woman Hotel.” One sees these signs all over the old Bendel State. In Benin City they usually read, “This house is no (sic) for sale, by order family,” to deter desperate children, and nephews, and nieces, who are looking for money to travel abroad; or, “This house is the property of so-and-so family,” to dissuade everyone else from selling the house for money to travel abroad. But in Warri the signs read, “Agbor Man Hotel,” “Ishan Man Hotel,” “Port Harcourt Woman Hotel.” These signs became popular in the late nineties and early twothousands, at the time when fighting raged between the three main Warri tribes, when people were burning houses and blowing up buildings, and so nobody painted Urhobo, Itsekiri, or Ijaw on their houses. Mama Phina has wiped the Calabar Woman sign off her hotel. She is Urhobo; but she has a right, by law, to claim Calabar. She was married to an Efik man for thirty years. Her children, Phina and the others, are all Efik. And the fight has shifted from Warri since the Ijaws recognised that the real enemies were the government people in Abuja who chopped the oil money and not their fellow state indigenes who just wanted to survive.
“The gist she hears in Lagos makes her wonder why she ﬁnds Warri comedians unfunny. I tell her that this is because everybody in Warri is a comedian.” Things have started looking up now that he has been appointed the local government chairman of a major political party. But the sisters: they do not let her rest. Phina, this is how they cook Edi Ka Ikong, not like that. Don’t you know we grew up in Calabar? Phina, why don’t you keep your pampers stacked in the drawer. They get bent out of shape if you stuff them in a carry-all bag. Phina, abeg, look after our brother well o. I hope you’re making him stop cigar? Phina, Phina, Phina, Phina, phina, phin, phi, phi . . . Mama Phina laughs and sends for two bottles of beer. Ice cold. For breakfast. Mama Phina knows about her daughter’s stutter. She knows that the beer will help loosen the tight crank ratcheted up to maximum between her daughter’s shoulders. They drink, and laugh, and Mama Phina with her badmouth and acerbic wit lambasts Phina’s in-laws. # It has been three months since the last salary from DESOPADEC. The pantry is almost empty. Aunty Phina calls me from the school where she does her pro bono work. “Eghosa, dem don pay?” “No aunty, they haven’t paid the salary yet o. Although I heard that the MD signed the cheques today. Check your bank account tomorrow,” I tell her. She rings off, thanking me before she does so; saying that she will check the bank tomorrow. We laugh at a joke she cracks. Something about Warri having a DESOPADECdependent economy. This is true. After the salary is paid tomorrow, the town will awaken again. The beer parlours would have already heard that the payment schedule is on its way to the banks. The market women already know the timetable for clearance of cheques: Bank PHB, three days;
Oceanic Bank, two days; Ecobank, two days; UBA, two days; ETB, that same day. Aunty Phina banks with ETB. She will go to market tomorrow. In Aunty Phina’s Economics class contains a slice of Warri’s demographic. Urhobo students chat with Itekiris; Ijaw boys and girls try and complete class assignments while pretending to listen to what she’s saying—they know that she doesn’t acknowledge NEPA as a valid excuse for not doing your home work; Hausa students pass notes to Igbos. All speak in the sing-song of Warri English. All Ls confused with Ns, all sentences and questions ending with the exclamation mark, “O”. The noise of trucks bringing goods to Igbudu market ignores the walls and shuttered windows of her class, she can barely hear herself above the din. She gives up and backs the class to write the gist of the lesson on the I-was-formerly-black blackboard. Before the end of the day she will ask for the list of noisemakers. She will wonder why the truck drivers’ names are not on the list, and the annoying voice of the hawker passing her window screaming, “Buy your sweeeeeet tomatoes here!” # Uncle Jeyisan and Aunty Phina have a date tonight. She muses on what she’ll wear on the drive back home from her children’s school. Tsewo sits in front beside her, his thick glasses down to the tip of his nose, while he peruses a tome on “Ezra Pound and Literary Patronage in the Nineteenth Century”. The twins, a boy and girl, make a game of naming the taxi drivers and tuke-tuke drivers who overtake them. They tell her to drive slower so they do not lose track of the game. Phina forces them to take their siesta. With Tsewo she has to confiscate the book he is reading. Then she sits outside in the veranda and has a smoke. She prefers menthols, and has to hide them from her husband because he believes she hasn’t had a drag in five years. He smokes Benson and Hedges but doesn’t seem to know the difference in smell. He should be back from work in two hours. It will be two hours of marking assignments, annotating homework, filling up the washing machine in the garage and preparing dinner. She remembers to call her niece, Ekaette, who will have to babysit tonight. She will warn her not to invite that her Ijaw boyfriend over. Aunty Phina smiles, there will be no need to police her niece with phone calls; tatafo Tsewo will take care of the policing. # Aunty Phina tries not to drive the car from the passenger seat. She grips her right thigh, silently telling it to stop pressing on an imaginary brake pedal. She says to Jeyisan, “Slow down. We no dey hurry.” When he laughs at her she remembers why she married him. It is a loud guffaw, it echoes and seeps out of the wound-up car windows. They are going to The Pub, a beer parlour and night club in the compound of The Palm Grove Motel. The Palm Grove Motel used to be the staff quarters for Hussey College, a grammar-school owned by Alfred Rewane.
After all schools in the country were seized by the Federal Government in the seventies, he hurriedly walled off the staff quarters and, viola! # The Pub is a popular bar because it is inside a walled compound. Thieves do not come in. And anyone staying behind for the night club can pay for a room to sleep off the drink. It is a nice place. My employer, DESOPADEC, keeps rooms there. I have the keys to one, and am twirling the bunch on my right middle finger when I see my uncle and his wife walk in. I join them and we are immediately joined by about four others, all Uncle Jeyisan’s mates, all looking for patronage from the chairman of a political party. “Hail Chair!” they chorus. He nods at them and shouts out his party’s slogan. The DJ acknowledges his presence with a dedication. It is an old disco track by the Bee Gees. Staying Alive. The dance floor erupts and Uncle Jeyisan is dragged to his feet by the gaggle of friends. “How work?” Aunty Phina shouts above the music. “Boring,” I reply. She is wearing a body-hugging spaghetti top. Her paunch, which she blames on the twins and Gulder lager, is barely noticeable because of the girdle. “How your book? It is selling well?” “If by selling you mean I buy it to give to friends, then it’s not doing too badly.” “No worry. When you win award, e go begin sell,” she soothes, but not in a soothing voice—the DJ and his loud music will not allow for a soothing voice. “I know.” I do not tell her that the awards’ season is almost over; that I haven’t got as much as a nomination; that I will have to write another, a less genre-specific novel, to be recognised as what my mother thinks I am: a great novelist. She smiles when she sees her husband beckoning from the dance floor. She drags me and we join him. We dance. To syncopated beats of Naija hiphop, we dance. To the reggae of Jimmy Cliff, to oldies from the Bini-bus staple, Chaka Demus and Pliers, we dance. I am happy. Uncle Jeyisan will provide free beer. And tomorrow is payday. Eghosa Imasuen is the author “To Saint Patrick”
A Chat with the Radio Amazon
By Anwuli Ojogwu
It was almost impossible to pin down Wazobia FM radio star, Matse Uwatse, for an interview. Several text messages and many phone calls remained unreturned for days. But just as this interviewer was getting ready to give up, a message arrived. Apologies were offered, accepted, a date was set. On the day of the interview, after waiting in the reception of the Wazobia FM radio station for over an hour, Matse finally appears. We head to her office, which is a cosy little space, furnished with quaint bits of furniture designed by her. The most conspicuous item in view is a shelf lined with books and numerous award plaques. The 5 feet 9 inches broadcaster is slender and attractive, with probing brown eyes. She is quite at ease—she drops onto the rug and stretches out her legs. During the interview, she chats articulately, without hesitation, and—unlike her radio persona—in faultless English.
executive with Bangs & Olufsen. I always knew I wanted to let my hair down, I am not the proper-proper office person . . . I am imaginative and creative. I always wanted a way to channel out my energy, my extra passion, and I found it in broadcasting.
she gives me advice and tells me what to do. She doesn’t enforce it on me, she guides me. Most of the traits my mother exhibits are similar traits that I have.
How do you remain proficient in Pidgin English? Do you keep up-to-date with slangs?
I love perfumes and chocolate and bathing salts. I am a creature of comfort. I love comfort.
Yes, I do . . . when you talk with people in Delta State. The Lagos pidgin is not really slangy. When you talk about the real pidgin slang, you get it from the Niger Delta. You get it from the Edos, the Benin people, the Warri people. That is where you hear the current language. The Warris speak the best pidgin; they are the main pidgin people. I have cousins from there and I talk to them and chat and I get one or two things. I keep updating.
Your programme gives people a platform to air their views. What type of phone solicitation messages are you likely to listen to on a typical day?
Has broadcasting redefined your personality? I was somewhat confident in the past, but right now I call myself a very confident woman. I can walk into anyplace, any day, anytime, and I can talk. Before, I used to be shy in public. Maybe I would want to ask a question, but would keep quiet because of nerves—but right now I find that I can manage it. The more you grow, the more you are acknowledged, the more awards you win, the more people recognise you. It keeps you confident. It makes you believe in yourself. The confidence builds up and you have a clearer perspective where you are going. You know what you want, you think of what to do, how to better yourself. With broadcasting, you have the chance to go to so many places. You meet like minds and it makes you a better person. On radio, you are dubbed a “virtuous woman”. Does that carry any responsibility? It does. For example, I love fashion. I am a reserved person, but I love to experiment with clothes. But because of the way people see you, it affects the way you dress. I love to wear short skirts sometimes, I love to be fashionable . . . but because of what people would say, you have to be more conservative, mind how you dress because you are a role model and people are watching. It affects a lot about me. So you have to live up to what people want you to be, but that doesn’t mean that you have lost your sense of identity. But you have to know what you like. You have to keep a balance; you have to learn to keep a balance. As for being called a virtuous woman, all those “virtues” being mentioned . . . there were people that studied me and came up with the label, I didn’t come up with it myself.
Tell us about a bit about your background? Describe what being a “Waffarian” means? My parents were young people. My mum gave birth to me at the age of nineteen and my dad was in his twenties, and so they had me and they parted ways. I have a large family. My parents remarried. From my mum’s side I have two brothers and from my dad’s side I have four brothers and three sisters. I attended Abraka State University and Village du Belle, Togo for my first degree in French. Describe yourself in one word? I am a lioness. I am a strong woman. I am very talented. I am assertive. I am intelligent. If you look at the symbolic lioness, the figurative lioness, the literal lioness, you will see all these virtues I just mentioned. The lioness will roar; she is intelligent because she has to go forward to feed her pride; she is creative because she chases after prey, knows how to observe and catch different prey. A lioness is what I am. How did you get started as a radio presenter? Through a friend. I had a call about this new radio station coming up and [the person] was like, why don’t you go there and audition? I am from Delta State and I can speak pidgin, so there was no big deal. I came in for the audition and was later invited for an interview. Even before the interview, I had programmes that I had written down because I am very creative. During my interview we talked and I kept them laughing; they taunted me and I teased them back. And when I was leaving, I sort of knew I was going to get the job. At that time I was an administrative
Waffarian is a term used for people from Warri. Waffarians are born in Warri, or they grew up in Warri, or migrated there and lived with the people and learnt the culture of the people. But it is not so easy because most people who come there, they are already grown, they already have ideologies and cultures from other places. But the Waffarian child, the full-blooded Waffarian, is that person grew up in Warri from childhood—you have everything in your head. You know their way of life, you speak their way. That is what makes you a Waffarian. We Waffy people are strong people . . . we are assertive people, we don’t keep words in our minds, we are bold people and very energetic. So these are all the embodiments of a Waffarian. Some people say that we are militants and all that, but we are not. If you study people from Delta State, if you study their way of life, you will notice how they dance, you will notice a lot of energy. And if you notice how they speak, the pronunciation—consonants, vowels, clusters—you would notice the energy. So we are people of energy and so when we are oppressed, we still talk with energy. It doesn’t mean that we are militants. We just know what we want. Who is the one person you admire most? My mother. She is strong. She had me at the age of 19, and she had to leave me when I was 7 months old, but she always kept in touch. She still made her mark even though she was far away from me. She contributed a lot to my life and has kept me strong, even in the face of difficulties;
What is your guilty pleasure?
I get that all the time. People come up to me and say, Matse, do this for me, do that for me. If it something that I can, I give advice, but if it something I need many people to think about, I take it up on radio. Especially if I know it is something that people can benefit from. It has to be something people will learn from—if it is unbeneficial, I will not handle it. I have also helped some people moneywise—I help in my own little way. I have spent a lot of money and I do not regret it. What drives you to succeed? My driving force is passion. I am a very passionate person. Seeing people suffer, seeing people abused, coming from a broken home myself, watching the young ones growing, knowing the things I lacked as a child . . . all these things are my driving forces. To make a better life for myself, to make a better life for people—basically it’s people, people are my driving force. How would you like to be remembered? As a woman of the people. Many Nigerian radio presenters speak Americanised English on air. How do you compete—how do you think you come across? As a presenter who speaks Pidgin English, some people think you are classless—some think you are a street person. When you go into the entertainment world and meet people, they are like, what? Pidgin broadcasting? I used to tell my colleagues, don’t let this people behave this way to you. I had to tell them, you are beyond what they think. Tell them you are strong; tell them you are so many things in one. I always tell them that if you bring an English presenter, I, Matse will beat her at her game because I don’t see limitations in anything. Many of them are cocooned, but I have to burst out of it—and I won the 2010 Future Awards [for best radio personality]. I beat Tosyn Bucknor and Gbemileke of Inspiration FM. These are all English language presenters, and I am a pidgin presenter. Some egotistical people think you are classless because pidgin is the language for the man on the street. But you know what, Wazobia has made people understand that you don’t have to think that way—it’s a way we can teach from the grassroots. If everyone is speaking Queen’s English, how will the man on the street learn when he didn’t have the opportunities and education you had? One way or the other, you teach. With pidgin, we have changed the perception. People find it hard to match my real and radio personality. We have brought the sexy back into pidgin. What is the best and worst part of being a radio presenter? The best part is that I get to talk to people every day. The worst part? I don’t think there’s any. Any advice for aspiring radio presenters? Be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else.
At the #EnoughisEnough rally in Lagos, young Nigerians gathered at the Archbishop Church. The event was led by former Campaign for Democracy leader, Joe Odumakin. Various prominent young people were also present, including Audu Maikori, Ali Baba, Tolu Ogunlesi, Banky W, Timi Dakolo, Rita Dominic, Sound Sultan, Denrele Edun, GT, Kola Osinowo, Djinee, and Segun Demuren. Students came from OAU, UI, LASU, UNILAG and LASPOTECH. The international press and local media were present to cover the event.
PICTURES from the Abuja Rally...
#EnoughisEnough belongs to all young Nigerians who are concerned about positive change in our country and want to make sure that in the 2011 elections, this change comes to Nigeria. www.enoughisenoughnigeria.com
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“In fact I think it a little ludicrous and indulgent to even pose the question. For, am I not Nigerian? Where else would I be? Apart from any sense of opportunity or duty, or any moralising, this is my country. It is my home.”
by Simidele Dosekun
moved back to Nigeria after almost 12 years abroad. At the age of 25, I was once again under my mother’s roof. Although relatively liberal, she remained unswayed by the proposition to take me in less as a daughter than a housemate, especially as I had plenty need as the former and no budget for the latter. She moved instead to reassert her authority. Minor conflict ensued. Other challenges of my move, requiring adaptation and negotiation, were the mosquitoes and NEPA, the lack of privacy, the okada riders and potholes, police checkpoints and overzealous LASTMA officials. I learned these things new or afresh, mostly the hard way, scarring body, soul and car.
Most difficult, I found, was the conservatism and materialism of the lifestyle options and values on offer. I had at the time dreadlocks falling midway between my shoulders and waist. Virtually everyday I was forced to explain and defend this and within two months had partially succumbed to the pressure (and the weather) and hacked off two-thirds of the length. But no, I still did not want to work in a bank, oil or telecoms company, nor did I care for the status and accessories that such would afford me. I refused all invitations, admonitions and even emotional blackmailing to attend church. Not seeking God, I was not looking for a husband either, though I apparently should have been. And so it went, conversations with family and old friends, too, leaving me feeling somewhat alienated in those early days.
Even before such feelings, my plan had been to stay in Nigeria for only a year and then leave again for more school. I saw myself as something of a tourist then: having an experience, only passing through, noncommittal. However, life got in the way—life of a distinctly Nigerian and admittedly privileged sort—and I find myself here going on three years later. This life was one of possibility, ironically enough. I felt, and still feel, that Nigeria is the kind of place where anything can happen. Of course, it is precisely this unpredictability which makes it such a difficult and frustrating place for many of its citizens, and altogether too uncertain for some, who choose to remain ‘safely’ cocooned abroad. Yet fresh off the boat, with a particular blend of naiveté and realism, and with the cushioning my family provided, their concerns and comments notwithstanding, Nigeria also seemed the kind of place where I could do almost anything. And there appeared so much to do, in a way that was not true in New York or London, say.
Switch A Future
I do not mean that I thought I could get any job or that I could ‘save’ or change Nigeria. Rather, or for the time being, I had more modest ideas for projects, for spaces, for cultural life—a book, a documentary, a park, building an arthouse movie scene, amongst others—for which there seemed to be chance, simply because they did not already exist. In retrospect these ideas were still informed by a touristic mentality. They would have amounted to dabbling, to experiences, not a life here. None came to fruition. Instead the particular possibility that kept me in Nigeria was the unexpected offer to run a small business aiming and just maybe able, in my view, to make at least some meaningful impact. I was now about to turn 26. This would have never happened elsewhere, I reasoned, not least for my lack of formal preparation for it. My foreign friends, only just climbing career ladders, confirmed as much. They did not quite understand how it was possible. Did I not worry I had already “hit the ceiling”, one asked? I didn’t. Quite the contrary; more would be possible from this new position. So I stayed.
Time and the experience thus far have tempered my initial excitement. I appreciate now how I could have benefitted from a manual or course on ‘how to manage Nigerians,’ as so-called universal management principles seem to rarely apply. There is no principle for knowing when one employee, looking you in the eye and swearing otherwise on his mother’s life, is in fact stealing the company’s money. Nor do I know of a formula to explain why another who earns barely enough to survive is first to arrive and last to leave the office, and making the most effort, however small or large his task, in the intervening time. It is the people who daily make and break this country. The people in all their variety. They have an amazing capacity to inspire and to aggravate, to pull up and to pull down.
The aim of the campaign is to touch the lives of children who would otherwise never have access to education. Specifically, each time an InterSwitch cardholder uses their Interswitch ATM or Verve debit card on another bank’s ATM, InterSwitch will make a donation to Freedom Foundation, and by doing so “Switch A Future” for a Nigerian Child.
NLI believes that one step to getting the country back on track is to reach out to young people during their formative years, with the aim of reinforcing values necessary to rebuilding a good society. This was the driving impetus for the conception and formation of Notes2Notes.
w ww .s w it che d o nna ija . co m
re ’ l oad
They create the great possibility and energy of Nigeria but it is they who also sap and corrupt it. One result, for me personally, is lingering uncertainty over whether I am really back to stay or not, on this seesaw. Most days I think I am. In fact I think it a little ludicrous and indulgent to even pose the question. For, am I not Nigerian? Where else would I be? Apart from any sense of opportunity or duty, or any moralising, this is my country. It is my home.
Yet most days are not everyday. I also flirt with the notion of leaving very often. I do so for many reasons, mostly for a sense of normalcy and balance, in which, yes, not so much may be possible, but then again, not so much would be impossible.
Heal Jos Wallpapers
Cool2Vote Nigeria is a non-partisan platform aimed at informing and giving a voice to young Nigerians about their civic responsibility in the electoral process. It is a platform for mobilising all Nigerians to register to vote—and also to defend their votes—at the 2011 elections and beyond.
LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD 2 by Lati So many videos to critique but only few made the list because some are just not worthy to write about. If we want change in Nigeria we have to learn to tell the truth in order to help ourselves grow. If not, we will remain stagnant. Mediocre and appalling materials are not acceptable. It’s high time we demand for quality and excellence, in music videos as well as governance!
Naija Music Videos
Terry G’s “Troway”: Without the video, the song doesn’t hack it. The video highlights the failures of the song, especially its lack of depth. The only part of the song that makes some sense is the chorus: “Bad belle troway troway/wooroo wooroo troway troway/oshi oda troway troway . . .” Everything else in the song is gibberish. But the video, for me, offered a bit of redemption—it painted pictures and told a story.
Kefee’s “Karoyovwe”: This video is absolutely beautiful. It’s so surreal and captivating. I see the celebration of nature and it captivates my attention. Wudi Awa is definitely paying attention to his environment—to the shapes, colours, light, movement and rhythm. Although I don’t understand the language of the song, the music is soothing. It touches my soul. Can Kefee do any wrong? Nope. Not with God on her side!
Jim Iyke’s “Born to do this”: Where do I start from? Mr. Iyke, you are not the sun and rapping isn’t made for you. You are simply, absolutely, not born to rap. Truth hurts but face it, in years to come no one will remember any of your songs. Not one. Wudi Awa shot an interesting video; still, I must admit the video doesn’t help the song in any way. The song is not redeemable. The lyrics are a big turn off. I guess Jim has money to blow—after all, he’s a Glo ambassador. I just wish he’d spent the money on his charity foundation instead and saved us the pain of listening to rap lyrics like “Sceptics were born to doubt this/critics were born to break this/cynics were born to diss this/chicks were born to love this . . .” Etc etc.
Jaywon’s “Gbon gbon gbon”: The song has a melodious beat and the lyrics are not too bad. It’s a fun song—but I found the video uninspiring. The video got a bit playful towards the end, just before Terry G surfaced and did his bit. DJ Tee must have used a Canon 7D to shoot this video—the depth and quality of the picture was refreshing. But the concept was boring. Very boring.
Naija Music Jesse Jagz’ “Pussy Cat” song is hilarious; in fact, it’s the joke of the month. It prompted some people to ask some questions, such as “how can a grown man go around singing ‘pussy cat, pussy cat’?” Jesse, you are really creative but you need a songwriter. How can you provide us with a melodious tune that has WACK lyrics? If I was still in preschool I might sing along, but I doubt my mum will approve! Your lyrics are weak. Your other song, “Pump it up”, also had a groovy tune but the lyrics were not memorable. At least the lyrics for “Pussy Cat” is memorable . . . how can anyone forget “meow meow cat, meow meow cat”? Please, get a songwriter! Pincode’s “Your Pincode” song is stupid. If any lad uses that to approach a sensible girl, he’s definitely not going to get her number. I came across this song on Truspot and I was repulsed when I listened to it. What were they thinking about when they made this song? The song is definitely nonsense and not sexy at all. If you going to sing about love, do it right. Make it sound intriguing instead of cheap and lame. “I dey beg u like bambi’allah . . . wetin be your pincode o? But you say access deny o . . .”
Illbliss & Tha Suspect’s “Capital Anthem”: The song and the video are quite aggressive. That’s not a bad thing! I see attitude, lots of it. The video is dark but also colourful, and there was some interesting play with light—pretty. The wordplay in the song is also quite good. But Capital, why were there so many bottles? The bottle that was placed on the little girl’s neck was not appealing at all; it took aggressive all the way to the other side. Careful . . . Kaha’s Caro song is definitely Osuofia meets Sidon P—it’s a blend of high-life and fuji. He featured a fuji singer called LKT on the song. The fuji gave the song some flavour. The lyrics of the song were stereotypical: the whole message of the song is that light-skinned chicks run off with richer men or foreigners and they are heartless. There is nothing special about the song. The video for this song made me listen to it. The video gave the song a story. There was a lesson in it; it showed that all that glitters is not gold. So Kaha, thank your stars that you have a solid video to promote your song. Nevertheless, please stop stereotyping and offer us good music!
my representation of heaven : an interview with Wanuri Kahiu by Tala Leratadima
onder woman storyteller, Wanuri Kahiu, agreed to talk to your royal ambivalence, and after it was done, I felt as though I should read more books and find ways of making myself more useful to humankind. When I called her the connection was bust. There were some unique things happening in cyberspace that were hard at play to mess us up. But the algorithm of cyberspace got nothing on “black chic” vibe—we eventually got it locked down. She had just woken up, like we all would be if we were in New York. And brace yourselves for this bit of coincidence: I asked her—out of the blue (I mean, it’s not every day that you ask an interviewee this question)—what was in her sound system, and she said Bantu Biko Street. I just about had a fit because that was exactly what I was bumping just before I called her! Wanuri is smart, sharp, intuitive, reverent, funny and really cool about her genius. This Kenyan UCLA-master’sin-film graduate has created poignant and powerful work that will go a long way in how we see ourselves—our glory and ingloriousness. I forgot to mention that she is humble, too, and sees her participation and success on the international film circuit—African Film Academy Awards, Zanzibar International Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival and Sundance, to name a few—simply as a way of furthering her work.
I love how her deep spirituality does not cloud her exuberance and youthfulness. She is vegetarian, and she feels that it is her daily sacrifice. Power to that—I do believe that vegetarians shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Her vegetarianism is not all we have in common; she agrees with me about wives following their presidents around being a waste of taxpayers’ money. And she has fantasies about dead political icons, and is actually working on a film about the Mau Mau: a “braveheart” version told from a woman’s point of view, by a woman in love with Dedan Kimathi. Finally, she also struggles with family members thinking her craft is a whimsical hobby. “Storytellers, singers and dancers are not taken seriously within the context of our society and [are not] given the proper respect in our society . . . because we are the forecasters, the seers and the memory-keepers and without those things we are doomed, and people just don’t see that.” I agree, totally. We are like two peas in a pod, me and Wanuri—but I fell out of the pod at the point where she said she would not marry for money! I asked her about a trillion questions (speak to “my people” while holding your wallets and maybe we can make the transcripts available). For now, here’s a glimpse into this phenomenal woman’s mind.
Tala: What gets you excited on an average day? Wanuri: New scripts, new ideas, listening to people, watching people. I like to watch how people hold their bodies; I think it tells a story in itself. I can watch somebody’s expression and I have a whole story around it. Tala: Do you think you are beautiful? Wanuri: I think it comes from inside. Tala: What is our answer—as African women who come in all shades and colours—to the West’s insistence that we conform to their “straight hair and skinny” ideal? Wanuri: I don’t think body size can ever define beauty. I don’t think it can ever be contained in what we wear on our skin—it is something that goes much deeper and once we tap into that I think we tap into God because it transcends race, height, weight . . . because we’re all God inside and once we realise that, we’ll see true beauty. Tala: You should make a film on beauty, an African perspective. Wanuri: I think I do in different ways, because the people I cast are not what some people think are beautiful. The people I cast are really dark-skinned, because I think they’re so gorgeous, but everybody has a different reaction. Tala: Do all Kenyan girls dream of becoming filmmakers? Wanuri: Not at all. Most people dream of becoming lawyers and doctors. I know that when I was sixteen I walked into a film editing suite and I fell in love and up until that point I never thought that people made TV or film and when I realised I could, it made perfect sense, because I am a bookworm and a telly addict. Tala: Do you remember any Swahili nursery rhymes? Wanuri: More nursery stories than nursery rhymes. My mother used to tell me stories all the time. I think that is one of the reasons I became a filmmaker—she used to tell me stories so I would eat, sleep, anything. She used to tell me to eat pumpkin so that my hair would grow. My mother is extraordinary. The things she told me—it took me until my early twenties to realise that some of them were lies! Tala: Why does Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman president in Africa, not get as much coverage as Michelle Obama? Wanuri: I think she is protecting herself. But I love that woman—I think she is so phenomenal. It’s so crazy because in Kenya we are told that African women don’t vote for African women. Sometimes as women we are selfhating and self-loathing and that is a sad thing to watch. Also, politics is deteriorating into this demonstration of testosterone. Tala: Do you think the terror being spread across Africa is indicative of something sinister happening on the psyche of the African male? Wanuri: I wrote a whole article about how we as mothers, sisters, wives, lovers, have to be blamed as well because we are the people that raise those men, we created these monsters, we created these egos, [so] we are also to blame. I think the family is my nation. If I can’t raise my family right then how do I expect my nation to work? Tala: What is Africa’s most glorious achievement? Wanuri: Its people. It doesn’t matter whether we are
“It pisses me off that I need a visa to move within the continent. It’s ridiculous that sometimes we use Europe as a transient point to go back into Africa. And it vexes me that we are so far from a pan-African union.” poor, hungry, sick, and war-weary, we’re just so resilient. It doesn’t matter where we come from: in Mogadishu they still crack jokes! In Sudan it’s the same! We are so beautiful and humorous and glorious and hospitable. I think our asset is our people. Tala: What is every African youth’s duty to the continent? Wanuri: To be themselves and not question who they are or try to imitate other people. I’ve seen people lose that; lose their identity, their culture, their respect for people. African youth have to be authentically who they are and not emulate others. Tala: “Ras Star”, “From a Whisperer”, “Pumzi” . . . with what spirit did you make each film? Wanuri: All my films have strong female leads. And all of them exercise an aspect of myself. And I know, it’s complete vanity, but that’s the best way I know how to write. I always say that I try to make my films my representation of heaven because it has to have a spirit of somebody who I want to be around and who I want to be in essence. And not only for the female characters . . . it’s people, male and female, that I want to know. That is how we are going to build our countries—that is, by knowing the right people in a real way. Knowing the good, honest and truthful people. Tala: What does the film fraternity think of you? Wanuri: I think I’m so below the radar that the film fraternity does not think of me, not in a bad way. I like to be an independent filmmaker. Sometimes independent filmmakers don’t get recognised; that doesn’t mean they are not prolific. I would like to make a film every year or every other year, but I also know that my audience is not the type that will pack an “Avatar” stadium. That’s cool too because I like the stories I tell and I like to have control over them. Don’t get me wrong—one day I’ll probably do a really bubblegum film just to pay for my next few films! Tala: Do you think there is an expectation that, as a black African female filmmaker, you have to make a specific type of film? Wanuri: When I made a science fiction film, people didn’t expect it. I remember giving an interview in Cape Town and the reporter asked that, with so many other stories to tell, why did I choose to tell a science fiction story? What does that mean? Should my imagination be limited— should I only tell stories about women carving pots? That does not make any sense to me and that’s not who I am. I make films about women that I love, women that have brought me up, and those women are so dynamic and so
cosmopolitan that I challenge anybody not to recognise them in their own families and worlds. Tala: Do you understand the logic of intra-continental travel being more expensive than intercontinental travel? Wanuri: Not at all! It pisses me off that I need a visa to move within the continent. It’s ridiculous that sometimes we use Europe as a transient point to go back into Africa. And it vexes me that we are so far from a pan-African union. Maybe we’ll just have to define it differently . . . perhaps a pan-African union of spirituality, because a political union could be dangerous considering some of the men that are in power. Tala: When travelling abroad, do you find the need to assert yourself as an African woman? Wanuri: I think it’s so within me that I don’t need to question it . . . I can’t not assert myself as an African woman. It’s so innate: it’s in the decisions I make, the way I serve people, the way I greet people and speak to people. It comes naturally. It took me a while to recognise what it was, but it’s who I am. Tala: What is the biggest gift that film can give Africa? Wanuri: Identity. I think we are so outward-looking that we forget we have everything we need right here, inside Africa.
How it began The names of the principal characters in this tale are DO [aged 22] and OC[aged 21]. In 2008, they were new graduates from the police academy. They were deployed to Port Harcourt and posted to the Mini Okoro Divisional Police Station for their first duty.
the case of the two police officers detained indefinitely on charges of rape By JD Everimanu
On the night of 15 September , 2009, the two men were part of a police contingent that was on stop-and-search duty at Genesis Junction in Port Harcourt. At about 2 am, a car approached the checkpoint at high speed. The policemen flagged down the vehicle with their torches but the driver sped past them and in the process grazed the checkpoint barrier. The two policemen and some of their colleagues were ordered by their senior officer to give chase and arrest the offending driver. They jumped into their patrol car and trailed the vehicle to Okporo Road, Woji, where, on account of the heavy traffic caused in that area by a popular nightclub, they lost their quarr y.
25 As they prepared to retur n from this failed mission, they spotted a group of people engaged in sexual activity, in public. These persons, on seeing the police, tried to r un. The policemen gave chase and succeeded in arresting four of the girls. [When I ask the principal characters about the men—because there must have been men, it takes two to “engage in sexual activity” after all—they reply that the men, all of them, escaped.] A twist in the tale On arriving at the police station, OC was shocked to discover that one of the detained girls was Miss FB, his fiancé. He began to consider many things: he became afraid that he may have contracted HIV since he had been having unprotected sex with his fiancé, who he now found out to be a prostitute. Furthermore, as he had plans to marr y Miss FB, the realisation that she had been cheating on him with ever y stranger who had the money to afford her favours, got him mad. At this juncture (according to him) he proceeded to physically assault Miss FB—to beat her up. When this happened, the other policemen decided to release the other girls who had been arrested. OC admits that he insisted on detaining Miss FB, but argues that he took this action in order to question her closely with a view to determining why she was engaged in prostitution. While OC—with the help of his colleague and friend, DO—was still interrogating Miss FB, she began to scream and fight back. The commotion drew the attention of the night duty officer. He took one look at the situation—the two officers were alone with the weeping girl in the detention room—and concluded that something criminal had transpired. The officer took the two policemen aside for questioning, and when their explanation did not satisfy him, he concluded that a rape must have occurred. The young woman, who must have been desperate to regain her freedom, agreed with the officer’s inter pretation of events. The two policemen were detained. [The principal characters disclose to me that, as they were being led into jail, they heard the night duty officer make the following comment: “Una wan’ chop wetin big man dey chop, enh.” They inter preted this statement as confirmation that the four girls they arrested were high-priced call girls who usually paid the police for protection and in some cases even slept with the police bosses.] A turn for the worse The next mor ning, a superintendent of police was detailed to investigate the matter. At his ver y first meeting with the detained policemen, the superintendent brought along a prepared statement for them to sign. They refused. Later on, Miss FB was approached by a police officer, one Mrs. H, who Miss FB says gave her 4000 naira to obtain a doctor’s report, which would attest to the fact that she had been sexually assaulted. On realising the direction the matter was taking, the young lady recanted. The reaction of the investigating officers to this development was to threaten Miss FB with arrest if she did not immediately leave the station. She left, but later retur ned with a lawyer to protest the innocence of the two policemen who had arrested her. But it was too late: the police station had already filed the case against two of its own. [According to the principal characters, their tribulation has an ethnic coloration. They say that there are plans to have a particular ethnic
group dominate the station so that “chopping” will be easier.] Following the refusal of the two policemen to sign the prepared statement, they were transferred to the state police headquarters on Moscow Road. At the headquarters they were detained at the behest of the provost marshal for 7 weeks. The principal characters claim that they were later asked by some policemen to bring a 100,000 naira bribe in order to be set free. They refused, as they felt they had not committed any crime; more so, they did not have that kind of money. At the time of their arrest they had been police officers for only a month and had not yet received any salar y. Finally, on September 22, 2009, they were brought before a Port Harcourt magistrate court on a two-count charge of “conspiracy to rape” and “rape”. They could not be arraigned because magistrate courts in Rivers State lack the jurisdiction to tr y rape cases. Thus, the magistrate ordered that they be remanded at the Federal Prisons, Port Harcourt, pending the decision of the Director of Public Prosecution on whether the state would prosecute or decline the case.
And now begins the waiting game. The case file has to first be taken to the chief judge, for assignment, hearing and determination. These processes—when carried out without delay— usually take 4 months. The consequence of indefinite detention The unfettered liberty of the citizen was one of the important rights secured from the hereditar y monarchs of medieval Europe prior to the age of enlightenment. The right to liberty has been defined in jurispr udence as the right “not to be subjected to any form of imprisonment, arrest and any other physical coercion in any manner that does not admit to legal jurisdiction”. Yet the law realizes that no human right is absolute. Indeed, the right of an individual may amount to little if lawless members of the society prey upon him. Derogations from the right to liberty may only be occasioned where a citizen has fallen foul of the law. In such a case, the state may invoke a sanction commensurate with the offence. Where this is not the case, then it is taken that there has been a systemic breakdown of laiddown r ules.
The detainees are still awaiting the DPP’s advice. [I should mention here that for a large number of cases, the advice will never come. The consequence of this bureaucratic snafu is that awaiting-trial inmates are detained indefinitely, sometimes for decades.] How I got to know of the case I am a solicitor. I was in the same court for another matter on the day the case was called. What first drew my attention was the fact that there was no counsel for the accused persons. Then the clerk of court announced that the matter was with the DPP. With no counsel, and a DPP matter, I knew the accused were as good as dead. I made inquiries from the clerk of court who gave me all the information I needed. He informed me that the accused persons had been coming to court since September 22, 2009, without legal representation. I decided to assist the law on its course. I first obtained a copy of the accused persons’ charge sheet, and then I visited them in prison and inter viewed them for their stor y. When I asked about whom to contact on their behalf, they informed me that their relatives had all abandoned them.
Detaining individuals without trial and even beyond the period permitted by law causes the public to lose faith in the system. The consequence? They rebel against the system or become active in reaching a compromise with the agency involved. I hope, for the sake of the tr uth—which I am still seeking, and which I hope will come to light in the course of the judicial process—that this “consequence” will not be the final lesson that we take away from the case of constables OC and DO. Postscript: During a recent visit I paid the accused in prison, I was informed by them that one of the alleged “masterminds” behind their ordeal, Mrs. H, has died from unknown causes. They attributed her untimely demise to a violation of Kalabari native law and custom, which forbids one from bearing false witness. Furthermore, it has been confirmed that it is a female judge that will hear and determine the bail application. JD Everimanu is a lawyer based in Por t Harcour t.
My next step was to consult with a law firm specializing in criminal law practice. The need for this was necessitated by the fact that the case was a matter of life and death, as rape convictions, in Nigeria, carr y a life sentence. I was advised to speak with the accused, to impress on them the importance of developing a logical and believable stor y, one which fits the facts. The next stage was to raise some money for the legal process. The budget for both applications, despite all efforts to keep it to a minimum, came to 60,000 naira. After much r unning around and many pleas for help, I managed to raise part of the amount from various sources. Then I had to prepare the originating processes. These include: a “motion of notice” asking the court to admit the applicants to bail, an affidavit of urgency, an exhibit and a written address. After I had prepared the papers, the application was then filed at the state high court in the first week of March 2010.
Catching Up With Tosyn Bucknor and #THESEGENES You just hosted “Jeans for Genes 2”. What are your views on the show? I think the show went well. We achieved our three main objectives, and the fact that more people now want to get on board and support us is an extra plus! Also, this was the second edition. While the first
We noticed a lot of celebrities turned up
edition was quite successful, there was no
for the event. How did you make that
telling if it was a flash in the pan. Putting
up a second ensures we test the model, sort out glitches and work harder on the
Truth is, everyone wants to give back!
Celeb or no, everyone wants a way of volunteering their time and getting something meaningful out of it. Besides,
Is there a follow up to this event?
with the “These Genes Celeb” trend, Yes o! There’s more! “These Genes”
everyone is a celebrity, just by turning up!
has annual events: two years ago we had “Jeans for Genes”, a celeb auction and a
You managed to create a balance
red-and-blue day. Last year was partnered
between fun, music, fashion and
events and a radio doc. This year, we aim
an important topic like sickle cell.
to make a secondary school run, plus
I noticed there were several
some TV and radio ads. We also intend
serious moments during the show. Do
to keep our blog fully functional and
you think the message was passed?
informative. Yes o! It was definitely passed. From my personal experience, people are more willing to learn when their minds are engaged in a social manner. So, while people get dressed up and prepare to party, they also remember it’s for a cause. And once there’s music and beauty, then people are ready to listen to something more serious. If you notice, we had the serious
What areas do you think people could
bits as interludes; not longer than the
get involved in?
music or fashion intervals!
Mehn! Areas boku o! Lol! The good thing
We also gave out informational material
is we will soon put up a post on the blog
so people could read while they were
with details of areas where paid or unpaid
there, or when they get home. More
volunteers are needed. For now, I will
importantly, seeds have been planted so
say “These Genes” is always looking for
people can now go about asking questions
people who can help raise funds, people
and doing some research!
with experience in PR, website and online content developers, “legmen” and general
Where would you like to see yourself
and this project in the next 5 years?
What’s the reaction and support being
These Genes Sickle-Cell Project will
hopefully continue its annual awareness fundraisers, and school runs, while putting
The response has been good! When we
out material like books and films. We will
first started, there was massive support,
also have a website that I like to call the
and even though it dipped a bit, its always
Google of sickle cell!
been there. We have constant supporters like Zapphaire events and s.h.a.r.e, and of
And hopefully, we will keep being a voice
course, support from all the volunteers,
where words are short!
artistes, designers and participants since we began. We haven’t managed to garner any corporate support though and we are hoping this will happen.
www.switch ed on na i ja .co m
Don’t you often wonder why James Bond never dies? After all, he is human, isn’t he? What is his secret and how come all girls are in love with him, even the evil ones?
LICENSED TO SURVIVE By Chris Ugo-Jones
In spite of all the unanswerable questions I posed above, the one thing that I can’t understand is the complicated method a villain employs when he tries to kill Bond after he captures him. You would imagine that the bad guy would put a slug through James’ head the minute he is captured. But, no! instead he knocks Bond unconscious and straps him to the pilot’s chair in a helicopter. Then he rigs the helicopter’s armed missiles to, after a three-minute countdown, shoot into the air and come around to landing on the same helicopter they just issued from. He also leaves a pretty woman in the back seat, just in case, well, James Bond escapes and would like to have female company. His reward for a job well done. Another villian programs a weapon in space to shoot a laser at Bond, who is driving a sophisticated and technologically advanced Aston Martin. It is almost the same thing as tying a cockroach to a grenade launcher and firing into a nuclear reactor. Why go through all that trouble with a guy who has mastered the knack of escaping impossible situations? And how come Q. always has the right gadgets to get Bond out of trouble? Does Q. see the future? Is Q. actually the master villain, igniting trouble while helping James at the same time, in a twisted game of opposites? Two more questions. Why is the den/ laboratory/hideout of the villain always destroyed in an explosion at the end of the movie while James Bond barely gets away? Must they always explode? All these questions and more I pondered on as I left the office to buy some food. It was about half past one in the afternoon and the scorching sun was drying the sweat off my face as fast as my body produced it. Try as the glands may, they could not keep up and I ran under the umbrella of a recharge card retailer to escape the heat. A young man in his twenties looked up at me through a pair of sunglasses. “Sorry, I’m not buying anything. I just want to rest from the heat,” I said. He shrugged his shoulders like he did not care whether I was alive or dead. I decided that I would wait five minutes before going back out into the blazing sun. Four minutes passed and I was getting ready to leave when I heard gunshots. I felt my heart beating in my mouth and feared the worst as I turned in the direction of the noise. A black BMW 6 series was being peppered with shots from machine guns. Three men with sunglasses hung out of a white Toyota pick-up truck, firing at the BMW. Even though the BMW swerved left and right, it was obvious to me that it was bullet-proof because the attackers fired point blank at the sleek car with no more damage than slight dents on its paintwork. As the cars neared where I stood, the BMW braked sharply and turned one hundred and eighty degrees. The driver of the Toyota did not anticipate this and at the speed he was going, swerved around the BMW to avoid a head on collision. The window of the driver’s side of the BMW rolled down and the driver brought out a Walther PPK handgun, firing several shots into the fuel tank and the tires of the pick-up truck as it passed by. Still in the same fluid motion, the window of the BMW went up and the car turned
another one hundred and eighty degrees to face the right way while the Toyota exploded in a fireball, killing all the hapless occupants of the vehicle except one, who had jumped out when shots were fired into the fuel tank. At that moment I realized I was still standing and I hit the dirt face-first.
“How do you know which buttons to press?” I asked, to make conversation.
The BMW screeched to a stop right beside me and the driver got out. He was a white man, about six feet two inches tall, with dark hair and a chiseled chin. His suit looked like it was made on Saville Row and his shoes glinted in the sunlight. He was close enough for me to see his watch and it was a Rolex. There was something about the man that was familiar but I could not place it. I stood up suddenly and he noticed me. He began to walk towards me and I was petrified. He still held the gun in his hand; I started praying.
“Besides, most of the controls are meant to activate or fire weapons. As long as I have figured out where the big guns are, I’m good.” He turned, soaking up the admiration coming from me.
“Excuse me, do you know where Shearville Hotel is?” He had a smooth British accent and a smirk on his face. “I can’t seem to find the place, not with all the excitement I’ve had today.”
“What would you have?”
Realization dawned on me. The rugged handsomeness; the gun; the voice; the clothes. Only one person had the panache that exuded from the man at that moment. “James Bond!” I said in a loud whisper. I could hardly control my excitement. “Oh, you know my name? How, if I may ask?” He responded, his eyes shining. “I know your MO. I’ve watched you since I was a kid and I know there is no move you execute without chivalry and major explosions.” “I try my best.” He suddenly seemed distracted. “See, do you know the hotel I asked about earlier?” “Sure, I do. In fact, I’ll take you there.” He paused, and I felt he was contemplating whether to take me with him or not. I was giddy with excitement at meeting my childhood hero; my face was locked in a wide grin Please, take me on an adventure. “Okay. But you must promise to keep my identity secret or I will be forced to . . .” “Kill me? I promise, I won’t say I word to anyone.” “Kill you? No, I was about to say resign from double O status.” “Okay.” I said, relieved. This meant that I had gist for some of my friends later—if they would believe me. “Get in, quickly.” We heard the sirens of the mobile police as we sprinted to the car. I had barely sat down before he pushed a button and the car zoomed off.
“I know your MO. I’ve watched you since I was a kid and I know there is no move you execute without chivalry and major explosions.”
“I’m James Bond,” he answered. “I just keep pressing till the right one comes on.” “Ah,” I said, mesmerized.
I directed him to the hotel and he invited me to the bar for a drink. How could I say no when I just had to hear him say the words: “A martini, dry, shaken not stirred.” I almost screamed with delight. He looked at me and asked,
“I don’t know, but the line sounded good,” he said. “Typical,” the woman in the white dress said. She moved over to Q. and stood beside him, the gun still trained on James Bond. I had shifted away from him in the event that they began blasting away. He has survived for almost fifty years in the movie industry and still looked thirty-five. I, on the other hand was just starting life.
“Oh, just Fanta on the rocks, shaken not stirred.” “That’s my man.” James tapped me on the back. The barman looked at us like we were a couple of nutcases. “All drinks are meant to be shaken, not stirred,” he said. A woman in a white dress walked up to the seat beside James and sat down. The slit in the dress revealed her long legs when she crossed them. She had that appeal that drove men nuts and I knew James was in trouble.
“There is a bomb under your seat, James,” Q. said. “You have exactly two minutes to disarm it. However, if you stand up, it will detonate, killing everyone in here. You don’t want that, do you?” He smiled.
He promptly forgot me. “Hi sweetheart,” he said, turning to her with a flirty smile, “what do you say we leave this place and I show you what life is all about?”
I looked at James, always the picture of calm. But I had watched all his films and I knew he was seething, just waiting for a chance to get his hands on Q. Then he did the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. He brought out the bomb and held it in his right hand.
She turned, smiled and leaned close to him. “I think I’d prefer to show you what death is about. I have a gun pointing at your heart. Remove your gun and pass it to me.”
“You mean this bomb, Q.? I disarmed it the minute you started talking.”
Oh, James Bond. You and women! Can’t you control yourself ? “Who’s your boss? I’d very much like to see my captor in case I don’t survive this.” He removed his gun and placed it within her reach. She took it.
Q. was stunned. “Chivalrous dog, you can’t best me like you did the other villains.” He looked at the woman in the white dress and ordered. “Iyabo, shoot him.” She pulled the trigger but nothing happened.
“Turn around,” she said. James and I looked at the man wearing a leather jacket and standing in the doorway.
“I also took the liberty of removing the magazine from her gun when she was close to me,” James said.
“Q.!” James said.
Ah, James Bond, you are too much.
I knew it. I was right all along.
“That leaves one in the chamber,” he continued. “The question is, would you be able to shoot me before I get to you?”
“Don’t try anything fancy James, I know all your moves.” He walked toward us, sweating profusely. “I do say, it’s pretty hot in Nigeria.”
Her eyes opened wide and I saw her finger move to pull the trigger. Quick as a flash, a knife appeared in James’ hand and he hurled it at Iyabo. The knife pierced her heart. Just before she fell, she turned to Q. and involuntarily squeezed the trigger. The bullet blew a hole in Q.’s head and they both fell down, dead.
“Why, Q.?” James asked.
“Ah ah, what is that supposed to mean?”
“Why? Money, what else? You can’t expect me to retire on the pitiful pension MI6 pays ex-spies, do you? And you had to stumble on my uranium mining operation in Nigeria. I tried to keep you from finding out, diverting your attention to hotspots in Asia, but you couldn’t keep away, could you? You are attracted to trouble like flies to a heap of dung.”
I knew you would not believe but then, I have not finished my story, have I?
“That depends on how attractive the dung heap is.”
The BMW had more controls than the panel of an aircraft and they were labeled with abbreviations. I was sure people went to school for the sole purpose of studying the car.
We all looked at him. I voiced the question that was on everyone’s mind.
Do you believe me now?
“And how in the world can you make a dung heap attractive?”
Chris Ugo-Jones is the pseudonym of a banker who is also, in his spare time, a writer with a flair for the comic.
I’m sure you don’t believe me when I say I sat next to James Bond. I can almost hear you say,
“Amateurs. They should know not to engage me in a conversation when they want to kill me.” He turned to me. “Have a great day and thanks for the help. I’ve got a date and a plane to catch. Bye.” And with that he ran for the BMW, jumped in and drove away.