The Night I was ALMOST beaten by thugs.


Dear Diary,

I really should tell you.

A certain Thursday night, I was returning home in a cab from Bogobiri. You know, that artsy-fartsy place in Ikoyi where people crowd in to listen to music and poetry, and eat and drink (overpriced) stuff and air kiss each other and generally unwind.

As the cab guy pulled up to my gate, I noticed there were about 7 to 10 guys standing on the other side of the road…drinking no doubt. Anyway, they weren’t my concern, I told the cab guy I was gonna rush in and get my wallet to pay him. I heard shouts as I ran inside, I assumed they were from the driver, I shouted back I’M COMING.

When I got out, one of the guys left the Standing Alcoholics party across the road from my gate and walked over to me, I ignored him and walked up to the cab guy trying to make a U-turn and paid him off. As I returned, the guy blocked me as I tried to pass by, he blocked me each time to the left, to the right, to the left again,and then the right.  MARADONA!

Ah Ah?

He, of course, was stark drunk, and yelling at me. Then one other guy (let’s call him Side-Kick) from Inebriation Nation marched over, and the one in front of me (let’s call him Drunky) told him to hold his drink. Then I really was intrigued.

“So now, whats’s your plan?” I asked him.

“My plan is to change things here” said Drunky.

So here I am, with Drunky and Side-Kick planning to change things there and then, possibly the anatomical arrangement of my face or any other body part they deemed fit. What was I to do? Run? Fight? Tip them? Decisions! Decisions!!

What else could one do? I started vibrating. Not quite sure if this vibration was from a place of anger or fear. But boy, I didn’t care. I started pushing Drunky. And Side-Kick was startled. He never expected it. Like, this boy dey mad? He no see say like 10 of us dey here? He no know say we fit kill am?

Anyway, as I was pushing Drunky violently, another one from the Alcoholic Thugs of Nigeria ran over and held Drunky back. I knew this one, he’s always been nice to me since I moved to this area. So cause I like him and he had no business being there at that time of the night, let’s call him P.B (Passerby). P.B was yelling at Drunky, Drunky was yelling at me, Side-Kick was yelling at P.B, and the audience from across the street was all too chemically-induced to care hard enough to join in the fight, so they just watched from the sidelines and shouted for their team member, maybe someone shouted for me. Who knows? One can’t possibly hear everything with adrenaline pumping through every vein and sipping through every pore.

As soon as Drunky was out of my way, I stormed off, through my gate and on home. Someone was shouting “MARVIN GAYE! MARVIN GAYE!! He better not be calling me what I think he is.

I knew he was calling me, that person has called me Marvin Gaye persistently since I moved to Lawani Street, and I have persistently ignored to turn back to see who that person is…and that night was no different. I failed to turn back.

The Saturday afterwards, some other guy, who I will call Cheekboned Stoic (You will find out why) called me over as I was returning from grocery shopping. He came TOO CLOSE to me yo! He kept talking ’bout how I am a king and I carry myself as such and how he admires me, and how of course he hated what those guys did to me that night…even though if they do it again he would support them. “Ask me Why” He said. “Why?” I droned. Because on your way to becoming a King-maker, there are things you must do. Settle the boys. So tomorrow they will be your fans and not your critics.

DEEP!!!!!

The whole while I kept inching back from his foul alcohol breath and he kept inching forward. Our faces were literally at kiss distance. And you know, it’s rude to look away. I already disrespected them once (so to speak), so I couldn’t afford to not look him in the eye this time. Am I mad? Anyway, I noticed he had really high cheekbones, like the type you see on models in Editorial pages of fashion magazines. Hence “Cheekboned” And he was dropping some badass nuggets of wisdom like King Solomon on Hennessy, hence “Stoic“.

He ended his diatribe with “Be free. Live your life. Chop knuckle!!”

That last part confused me until I saw he had made a fist, so I made a fist as well and we bumped fist and that was the end.

And that is the end. Bye.

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Tribute To Peter Bello


Dear Diary

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Last Wednesday, I lost someone. Someone I loved. Someone many people, so many people loved. He was Peter Bello. He was a victim, one of the victims of a helicopter crash in the lagoon.

One would have thought that chopper crashes wouldn’t be that fatal. One would have assumed that everyone would have life jackets strapped on them the entire flight. One would have assumed that they could in such a situation, evacuate James Bond style, dive into the dirty water before the chopper came crashing in, and swim away to safety, because one would assume everyone on board would have been expert swimmers.

But Peter is dead. And I have plenty questions. Plenty doubts. Staggering faith. I woke up last night to a voice asking me if I had enough faith to believe that Peter can live again, not in the sweet by and by, but in the present now and now. So I launched off my bed by 3 in the morning and exhausted all my energy praying. God has the power to raise the dead. He can do it. He has done it. I have the faith to believe that He can do it. Now, does he want to? I’m still not sure if I have the faith to believe that He would want to. I can only hope that He would. One can only hope.

Peter was supposed to be one of those people whose lives mattered, Whose lives spoke to people. He was an all-around great guy. He could fly a plane, he was a maverick with a camera. He was tall, eloquent and painfully good-looking. One of those people who could intimidate you with their smiles, one of those people you assume would be arrogant jerks and so you made up your mind to hate them cause you were certain they’d hate you…until he would speak to you. Then every ill assumption would vanish like smoke because Peter was the sweetest guy.
He was supposed to be spared.

I hear his father is showing everyone his pictures, boasting of his son. Poor man. I can’t imagine they have begun to grieve. Still in shock and denial. Their beautiful son.
I knew his sisters. Especially the one Just older than he. Sweet gal. You just had to get to know her. Beautiful young lady. We got close working together. She was my best friend there. Then she left. We were all supposed to have lunch together sometime. She was to invite me over for lunch with her husband and I was supposed to meet Peter and catch up. All the catching we failed to do as young men who both grew up in small town Calabar and were now finding our own paths in the big city.

I still am holding on to faith that God can do the miraculous. Peter can somehow breathe again. It’s been done, what 9 times before, in the Bible. Or is it 11?

Peter is supposed to be spared.

I refuse to grieve. Not yet. Today I fell ill thinking of him. Imagining his family. Their grief. All the people who were close to him. Closer to him than I felt I already was. He was to be the brother I never had. Cause he would understand many things about how we both grew up. Things peculiar to us Calabar boys. He was supposed to listen to and critic my music cause he would have great insight. He was gonna be proud of me as I was already so proud of him.

He was supposed to be spared.
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Who in the hell is this?


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Dear Diary,

     Yes. We should give people a chance. And yes, Nigeria runs a multiparty political system…although, who are we kidding, it’s really a 2 political party government. 

I saw this yesterday. I had to take a picture. I haven’t had time to research or ask questions since then. So I ask now.

1. Please who is this?

2. I know that Lagos is the pot of all ingredients. But what is he thinking?

3. Really. Who knows him?

4. What Political Party is that?

5. What is with that beginning slogan?

6. What does he think he is doing?

I NEED ANSWERS. 

RIP LITTLE JOEL


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Dear Diary,

     Little Joel died yesterday. He had cancer. He was 5.

Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid cancer in childhood and the most common cancer in infancy.

I know little Joel’s father; a young, passionate and gentle man who always smiles and is good to everyone. He never told me of Little Joel until a few weeks before his death. Now I wish I knew him. I wish I had bought him a sweater or a beenie. I wish I could have taken him to see the Lego movie or Maleficent.  I could have told him about the Universe and the planets.
Or just what a wonderful man his father is.

I never met his mother. But I could have been her friend. We would have diced meat together, laugh at Yoruba movie acting and subtitles together. I could have helped her carry Little Joel when she was tired.

I could have been there.

Dear Little Joel’s Dad. I know you don’t like a lot of attention.  But I will pray for you. You will heal. Someday.  Somehow. Little Joel is laughing and playing with the angels now.
I know you spent all you had to save his life. But it is not in vain. God has seen your love. He will comfort you, and reward you.

It may not seem so. But it will be alright.

RIP LITTLE JOEL

Harmattan Fashion


Dear Diary,
  
Happy New Year.  I took a long hiatus from journaling my thoughts and experiences and hopes and fears. Now I’m back. Partly because I decided to stop making excuses, and also because I have been hounded to the point of exhaustion. So I won’t think too much. I will just write.

Harmattan this year isn’t extremely harsh. Thankfully so. I’ve always hated the season. The extreme dryness has always been the bane of my existence.

Until I discovered the beenie. 

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Actually I discovered the beenie last year when I started working out. Then I realised the power of the ease of sweatpants and a sports tank top.

I digress.

I like looking like a bum lately. It’s a very comfy way to look; unbathed, a little scruffy post-workout hotness. Hence, The beenie is my fashion accessory of the season. Plus, it gets dreadfully cold in the morning up until after noon.
Yesterday I rocked a beenie to work. It got rave reviews at work. Of course no-one else would wear one. So they all asked if I was just returning from the US or SA.

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Looks great, don’t it?

Anyway, Fall/Winter is THE season for fashion. And here where we live in the Tropics, Harmattan is as close as it gets to Fall. So ladies and gentlemen, WEAR THAT FASHION!!
Don’t just wear dowdy sweaters. Wear the hell out of them sweaters. Layer your clothing. Wear denim jackets. Now is the only time to wear a scarf and not look like you’re trying too hard. Ladies wear your father’s or brother’s or boyfriend’s jacket over skinny jeans and a pair of heels. Go out with messy hair.
It’s cold. Dress up!!!

P.S. when the afternoon heat sets in. You’re strictly on your own.

Avoid Swindlers 101


Dear Lagosians,
* You’re walking down the road or street, MOST LIKELY in possession of a bag, and anyone asks you for directions 
* The place in question would usually sound strange, like Ebony clinic on Awolowo Road, or a famous TV doctor in Idi-Araba, Mushin. 
* You’re kind enough to give off 5 seconds of your time to help someone who seems genuinely in need of direction. 
* Almost automatically someone passes by and seems to know the place and is trying to direct you both to the place…or surreptitiously ‘agrees’ to take you both there on the condition that he or she would be compensated. The ease with which stranger #2 slides into the conversation may go unnoticed to the untrained eye. So. Beware. 
* The stranger #1 asks you with a shaky begging voice to accompany him to the place because he is from an obscure little village in Osun State and they have heard bad stories about the big city or she is from Togo and doesn’t speak enough English to guarantee that she will find that damn clinic (yet her accent is peculiarly Nigerian). And of course you would be the first kind person that offered to help them out in their time of desperation and confusion so they can only trust you and no one else. 
 
 
* WALK AWAY!!!
* SAY NOTHING. JUST GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THERE. 
 
By paying heed to my warning, you would have saved yourself the terrible, terrible experience of being robbed, kidnapped, swindled or killed. 
By making sure you get your friends and family to read this, or by telling them about this, you would have saved them the terrible experience of being robbed, kidnapped, swindled or killed. 
 
The last month of the year is here. Please, endeavor to not get robbed, kidnapped, swindled, or killed.

Butts. Bodypart or Pop Culture fashion accessory?


Dear Diary,

 

This year, the butt has been catapulted to SUPER number one must-have body part status, thanks to Nicki Minaj’s buns hun, Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azelea’s combined booty effort and now this. Kim’s Internet-breaking Kardashians.
nicki-minaj-booty-butt-anaconda-instagram-meme-11__oPtB2O3ZPUCQAA6HQu
Black pop culture has always been all about the gangsta, the ratchet, the sass-mouthin, neck-rollin, girrrl-callin, finger-snappin, ass-whoopin way of being, and of course, the booty.
Now it is generally cool to have a big behind.

*Who is behind these trends anyway? Who determines what is cool and what isn’t?
*What’s gonna happen to those who don’t have big butts?
*What about those who spend hilarious sums of money to get butt implants and die?
*What happens to the butt when butts become “so last fall”?

There was this guy I saw on TV that spent $30,000 to look like Justin Bieber then when JB was EVERYTHING. But now that he isn’t how does creepy 30 year old Justin Bieber wannabe with incredibly high Cher-like cheekbones feel when he walks down the street and no one seems to acknowledge OR EVEN CARE that he looks like Justin Bieber?
Butts are not a statement. Butts are not a fashion accessory. Butts are not suddenly a cool thing to have (that’ll only be ditched soon after Kim Kardashian, JLo and Nicki lose importance), so they show stop being treated as such.
Black people have generally carried larger butts than the rest of humanity behind them for centuries. Why is it suddenly something pop culture raves about and will ditch for some other stupid trend once someone else catches its fickle interest?

LAGOSIAN DEVELOPMENT PLAN : HOUSES IN THE SKY


Dear Diary,

Lagos is growing at an exponential rate and due to the fast diminishing availability of land, we need to build Houses in the sky.

Lagos is growing, more people are appearing. House prices are crazy. Yet whenever I see housing estates springing up, they are disappointingly still ground level houses.

Do we not see that the population is only going to increase and Lagos doesn’t have that much land to spare? So all the land owners and builders, why don’t you approach accommodation more sensibly and futuristically and build houses in the sky?
Yes it would cost more, but you will earn more, and of course there will be more space for people to live in comfortably and in the long run, it would be more cost-effective.

There’s no more land, but there is a lot of sky. So let’s do like the Asians, build high rise housing, develop the slums and not-so-fancy areas of living into affordable chic residential settlements. Give people affordable spaces to live above sea level. The ‘Island’ wasn’t always this fancy. It was a swamp. But look what vision has brought it.

We can do the same with Ijora, Ajegunle, Ebutte Metta, Ogba, Isolo, Shomolu, Ojota, Ikorodu

LAGOSIAN DEVELOPMENT PLAN : CONCERT HALLS NEEDED


Dear Diary,

Today I will talk about my third point concerning Lagos’ growth and development.
Concert Halls, no more Malls.

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All the shops on Adeniran Ogunsanya and Bode Thomas, Surulere, all them ones at Allen and Opebi, Ikeja, have people finished buying what’s inside?
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All the markets we have in Lagos that have people literally dragging you by the hair, arms and clothes to come patronise them are still there, but we are still building more malls. 

Shebi Woolworths has packed up because they were not selling? Who would have gone to buy any of those ridiculously expensive things when Balogun market still meets every Saturday? Now I hear Gucci is coming. Hmmmm.

Anyway, my point is, we have a growing music industry and more and more concerts are happening but we do not have proper halls or outdoor centres built strictly for the purpose of concerts, like Radio City, Lincoln Centre, The Apollo in New York.
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The National Theatre pictured below,
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is basically out of commission and that area is unsafe, no help from the Government there. All we have now is Eko Hotel.
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Eko Hotel that charges outrageous sums despite the fact that the Power supply there is more epileptic than it is at my house in Idi Araba, Surulere.

(oops, I just gave away my location)

They tore down that Ikoyi shopping centre and I prayed that someone would have the vision to build a proper concert hall, a commodity we lack in Lagos, Nigeria’s entertainment hub. A concert hall that can cater to rockstar-Beyoncé-Madonna-Black Eyed Peas-Michael Jackson type concerts as well as small intimate shows. A beautiful edifice we can make key holders and souvenirs of, like the Stature of Liberty and the Eiffel tower of New York and Paris.
But no, they are building yet another mall.

And I can only sigh.

LAGOSIAN DEVELOPMENT PLAN : NO MORE CHILDREN FOR BEGGARS


Dear Diary,

Lagos, as I said, is fast becoming a world city, an internationally recognised metropolis, the major hub of business in West Africa and one of the reasons Nigeria has become the 25th largest economy in the world.

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However, somethings need to be done.
I started with my opinion on the need to ban further formation of new churches taking up space that can be used to companies and job opportunities that would be better for the economy than another prayer space.
Today I continue with another harsh medicinal point.

2.       Ban beggars from reproducing.
Notice how rich people or members of the upper and at times lower middle classes of society with the means to provide for their families hardly ever have more than 4 children? At least in this day and age.
But you also must have noticed how beggar women pile their children on their heads, tie them on their backs or make them trail behind in their numbers to go about the street begging.

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China had an interesting way of dealing with this. They banned ALL families from having over 2 children. Because they are sensible, they had their economists and statistical demographers look into the future and they saw that the numerous child-having habit wasn’t gonna help them in the future. So they sensibly opted to nip it in the bud.

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One family. One child.

But no, here in Nigeria you must at least have 5 or you haven’t started. Let me at this point remind you that jobs are already so hard to get. Not as many people are as enterprising as would be healthy for our economy, the Universities churn out more graduates than most others in the world, 3 quarters of whom are airheads, or cannot get jobs, or have not the wherewithal to startup businesses to support themselves, hence everyone is completely dependent on the Government for handouts, and of course desperation and corresponding crime rates will only be on the skyrocketing path.

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This doesn’t seem right o.
It’s already hard enough for folks from comfortable families to get jobs, we haven’t yet of a child of a beggar becoming President, they have almost no access to the education they . So I think the society can do without beggar children who become more criminals than Upstanding members of society.