Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Meet Fatima

I see them everyday…stroll gracefully and make that call…my friends told me to try and do the same thing, but I feel shy! I am a lady…there more appropriate ways to inform your customers of your ware…besides, I dey school na!

I know there is the internet, but in this trade, that will get you nowhere. So I decided I will follow the crowd. I see Simi gallantly announce her presence without shame an
d customers flock her. I asked Simi how she does it, and she told me the secret: “Remember what you are doing this for”.
So, I propped myself early in the morning while having a bath. I recited my script all over and over again.

It was rush hour. Just like everywhere in Lagos, the cars moved swiftly, shifting from lanes to lanes during traffic. Something about walking on the road looking like me is the feeling of stage fright; and it did hit me. I couldn’t help having that feeling that everyone was looking at me. Tunde could be sitting in one of those cars. And what is most scary is- I might not get to see him when he sees me.

With the thought of Tunde, the words could not come out of my mouth. I thought about the social stigma. What about my friends laughing at me?

An hour passed: And the words did not come.
I tried again after two hours …I still couldn’t say those words.

After 4 hours, I had barely made any money. So I stopped moving to rest, watching as the city’s hustle and bustle and my ‘competitors’ beat me to it.

The traffic was heavy…this is Ojuelegba. Just then a bus conductor highlighted from a bus looking strikingly like my brother Abiodun, speaking with harsh voice and swearing profanely, with words I cannot even repeat….and I thought about my brother.
I thought about him not making it to school…because daddy decided he doesn’t want us anymore after he started seeing Aunty Carol.
I thought about mummy….all she has done to get me this far, final year in secondary school.

I imagined my brother being this bus conductor and the disappointment on my mother’s face and in an instance, the words came flowing out from me, as it did with Simi and everyone on the street with me in the same trade struggling for the next meal…….

My name is Fatima. I hawk bread. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Do things fall apart when they leave?

Think of a life & think of a poem,
Where everyone is a word.

A poem where a word is the thought that we bring,
The thought behind our work,
as we till the earth for substance,
It is the thought found in our essence,
the idea transmitted during interactions.

That word is who we are,
All look similar,
Yet perfect in our own ways,
And unique in our own expressions.

All part of that poem,
That poem that has been weaved up since creation,
Capturing the misery of the human experience,
An experience filled with love, hate, ambition, the quest to protect personal possession and a halfhearted desire to provide for the next generation.

Though every word released destines out to accomplish a personal purpose,
It is not aware that it's ways are being orchestrated by a Divine Being to flow in harmony with the rhythm of the times.

With this Icon passing, the tempo changes,
The poem has lost an essence,and even when replaced, the new never flows like the old.

With these departures,
the new words that are born ushers in a new era which is a new verse,
Changing the tempo of the poem, in the rhyme of life.

Dedicated to Professor Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Let this be the last Kim Kardiashian post you ever read

I believe encrypted within the DNA of the Kardiashian family is the phrase "any news is good news"...and their publicists know it. From sex video with Ray J to a 72 days wedding to Kris Humphries, Kim Kardiashian has provoked media attention with tales more daring/weird/annoying that the last. Each tale generates media hits as people curse and mock her pimp of a mum, plastic faced step dad, her not so Kardiashian sister, and the last girl (I really cannot be bothered to research her name)....while the family and publicists smile to the bank.

Behind the scenes, I believe there is a team of strategist looking for the most shocking story to push forward yet....I imagine a brain storming session in which someone raised his hand and said "I know what we do next....let her get pregnant for Kanye".
The story is announced and 50,000 people comment: some cursing, some defending, some saying they prefer her to her sister and other saying she is just unfortunate.... but all reinforcing the brand and ensuring that somewhere within our subconscious, that family remains alive (a trick that of course provides a platform for advertisement).

I personally think the family is an insult to anything decent....but it is amazing that even with my stance, I am somehow always informed of events in their lives (how I know of Kim's recent trip to Cote D'Ivoire &Bahrain to the firing of Khole from Xfactor beats me)and the public tension it generates...and this has remained the situation for the last couple of years.

Whenever you hear that she gets paid $10k for every tweet, was paid $500k for a 45minutes cameo appearance on a show in Nigeria, or even read posts like this one, be sure of one thing: the brand is further reinforced.

So next time, instead of clicking on that link and scrolling to the comments section to read the abuses when you see a headline you find damn right catching ("Bruce Jenner (the plastic faced step dad) has finally admitted he is from the planet Neptune"), just close your browsers, take a deep breath, reopen and look for the next unrelated Kardiashian topic available.

That is the only way to shut down the #Kardashian_industrial_complex.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

September 29, 2009.....

... was the date this picture was taken. Nothing special about the picture, but the emotions they hold..

We had been dating for 6 months and were on our way back to Nigeria after a two week vacation in the UK. Our flight to Nigeria was departing in an hour. We were unknowingly searching for something to everlastingly tie us to this moment...and there is was: a picture booth. 

'Click' said the camera my mind raced through the past 14 days. I remembered the dinner with friends, and time with family.
'Click' said the camera.....and realized I hope to feel like this forever.

For decisions making, I had always trusted my analysis. As an analyst I make decision based on criteria, evaluations, ranking and a range of models I was schooled on. The reason for a choice were always based on cost benefit analysis/SWOT analysis as they provide justification, to that which can be justifiedBut this moment was different. What can completely justify the choice of the right partner? Where will I source for information that will tell me the right questions to ask? How do I know what will happen to next, if we decide to take our relationship to the next level?

Just as the camera flashed, I was convinced that instance, she is the one. I didn't need my analysis....All thoughts on marriage I penned down in this article were of no relevance, neither concerns about my age, or financial instability. Like in a trance, all that mattered was..... that feeling
That feeling over time has opened up dimensions within that weren't previously possible. It enabled the creation of inner stability despite negative vibrations in my environment. And these are crucial things in life I never knew existed. If I had followed my model, I might never have realized this level of self-satisfaction existed.

In hind sight, calculations are effective at handling trivial issues. They work best when deployed within controlled environments. But as there a few environments in recent times were things remain constant ceteris paribus, something more concrete is essential. A higher level of reasoning and logic, is required to provide recommendations with much more certainty than from any analysis. A conviction with a clearer sense of logic capable of debunking doubts and concerns that may arise. From this encounter I discovered "it is only in the mysterious equation of love that any truly logical reason can be found"*.
# I_found_a_reason.

*Source of quote: John Nash from the movie "A Beautiful Mind (2001)"

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mob justice in the soul of a nation

The solution to all crisis lies in its roots. It is from the root one can fully understand the interplay of value systems that compels a particular trait and inevitably, a course of action.

And this applies to all things, including the mob killings like the publicised one in Aluu, Rivers States. A petition for the mob Justice Prohibition Bill recently went viral. As much I expressed my support by appending my signature, I am pretty much convinced that the Bill will do little to tackle mob justice in Nigeria. Reason: mob justice is a symptom of a bigger crisis within the Nigerian socio-political space.

What supports the full adoption of a Bill into law is an enabling culture that views an action as a departure from the established way of doing things within a society...and mob killing is a practice we pretty much subscribe to at least on a subliminal level. Think of this: what influences what we subscribe to? Our perception, right? 
Then what influences what we perceive? WHAT WE SEE…

So, what do we see?
- spouses proudly tell tales of their extra-marital escapades and are hailed (it is culturally accepted to cheat; as long as you don’t get caught);
- a car jumps the traffic light, pays out a N100 bribe and goes unpunished; 
- an armed robber turns out to be a police officer and is discharged with honors.

Or on a national scale, no one was punished after:
- a disagreement between two friends led to a 3 year civil war that killed over a million people; 
- a president cancelled the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s history (and yet the man walks free. The then president elect was allegedly assassinated);
- or in recent times, it turns out that the high cost of PMS in Nigeria is influenced by the greedy desires of a ‘cabal’.

This constant sense of injustice triggers a behavioural pattern that promotes the total annihilation of those that we disagree with. On a smaller scale, it is revealed in our vehement outburst and how we ‘descend’ on those that come against our stance. These traits are evident in our relationships, on our roads and pretty much anywhere more than one Nigerian is involved in a transaction. Perpetrators of car accidents are beaten to stupor, cheating wives are stripped naked or their nude pictures made available over the internet. Two weeks after the Aluu killings, the video of a young lady stripped naked and molested in a high brow shopping district of posh Lagos Nigeria went viral. Her crime: shoplifting. We have slowly accepted that this harsh and somewhat brutal acts should be used in reinforcing an accepted code of conduct, despite what common logic tells us.

And it is everywhere; we see tortured criminals paraded on National TV; we also hear of interrogation proceedings in Area F. How common is ‘accidental discharges’? Have we forgotten the ‘unknown soldiers’ who attacked Fela house, or those that perpetrated the Odi massacre? And somewhere in our minds, we don’t consider these acts ‘abnormal’ even though they are one and the same thing. 

So what fuels this brand of justice? I think it is the ‘high’ we get from it; a ‘high’ that in a strange kind of way, affirms the adage that "every day is for the thief and one day for the owner". It is the rush for that ‘high’ that ignites the whole atmosphere and make a moment participating in this barbaric act, somewhat relishing

At the root of mob justice lies a feeling that there are breed of people above the law…a feeling of injustice. Addressing that feeling is what reforms…not just a Legal Bill.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A sluggish Revolution

January 2012 started on a sour note with the sudden increase in pump price from N65 to N141 Nigeria. That act gave birth of the Occupy Nigeria movement, a name coined up in 2011 on the streets of New York as the "99%" moved against the "1%" by "occupying" the financial centre of the United States, Wall Street. The energy generated from the Occupy Nigeria movement morphed in the social media activism mentality that has taken over the minds of middle class Nigerians. The platform to share and articulate our inability as a nation to rise up to what is expected of us. Every week we are prompted with stories of misfortunes and tales of woes. Everyone is commenting, topics are trending on Twitter/facebook. Intellectuals are debating and condemning the acts, our celebrities and Nigerians in the diaspora are organising walks and marches against "all that is bad", tee-shirts are getting printed saying "NO", but the question remains to what ends?
Just after the subsidy protests failed, the movement changed focus to the mess made of the subsidy probe. In the same breath, the Lawan and Otedola bribery scandal became the burning issue of that moment.

The bombings by Boko Haram's in the Northern cities that resulted in the death of over a thousand people (and counting) "trended" at some point in time. GEJ's response (or lack of one) failed to inspire the right vote of confidence from the movement that an appropriate course of action will be taken by the executive to this unfamiliar behaviour.

Then there was the Pension Fund scandals, Oteh and S.E.C. showdown, Nigeria Vs South African over deportation of Nigerians with "fake" yellow fever card (that raised questions on how Nigerians are treated all over the world). Our compliance with fundamental human rights was brought under scrutiny as citizens of Makoko were forcefully evicted from their homes to make way for what is most likely (at least according to twittersphere)a new housing project.

The bickering shifted to other sectors. Poor state of the planes and absence of adequate emergency planning crashed a Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos. Lokoja got flooded (despite warning from weather agencies) raising concerns about our government's disaster response strategy. There was the ABSU rape, the Mubi and Aluu killings raising concerns safety of people in higher institutions and also the quality churned out of university.

None of these event are new in our national space. What is new is the social media and its ability to consume the interest of Nigeria's middle class. Our combined sensationalization through un-edited comment/assessment and analysis of each event has turned these overlooked aspect of our reality into shocking and very disturbing episodes. But the question remains, after all the media activism and awareness, after performing our civic duty by highlighting flaws in the way we organize ourselves, beyond the fire-fighting template adopted by our successive government (setup committees, panels and invite foreign experts), what concrete step has been taken to address ANY of the issues raised?
In the absence of any credible response by the government, is there a brewing plan rumbling within us to disrupt the status quo and change the state of things? I am talking about a revolution.

If this "collective anger" does not eventually ignite the audacity to demand and change all that is wrong with our society, then all social media might have achieved is to provide us with a platform for sharing our opinions, entertaining one another and escaping the reality of our miserable way of living. #Nothing_is_as_powerful_as_an_idea_that_its_time_has_come.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mob killings and the way we live

Images from the clip showing the jungle justice dished out on the ALUU 4 still haunts me. The evil men that men do!! But face it, the victims are not those that died, but those that live to witness such. The deceased have encountered the worse of all human experiences; death. But those that live, still have life to contend with and even worse, the unnecessary exposure of their minds to such disturbing methods of execution which might lead them to wonder "will I go like this?" (at least on a subconscious level). When a mind is unleashed to conjour up such thoughts, things change; people become jittery and weary of one another.

To protect from that which they fear, they change patterns of behaviour, become more smothering of their children, and after a long enough timeline, their lifestyle becomes a shadow of its original frame as every element of trust for the next man disappears leaving a dent within the fabric that holds the society together.

Maybe that is the only way I can understand how a nation of cashcrop farmers, with rich traditions and healthy appreciation of life, can morph into assassins, lynch mobs, rapists, and armed robbers.

Whether the boys are criminals or they are cultist is not what's most worrying. What's most worries me is that as a result of the complete lack of trust and continuous oppression within the society,there are very few Nigerians that could have been in that gathering of mob and stood against their act as the voice of reason.

Maybe Chinua Achebe had a point in his recent boy 'There was a Country'; maybe Nigeria does need to appease the Spirit of Biafra.