Scripted potpourri

A blend of topnotch writing prowess, significant issues and scintillating stories!

The Legend of a Peace of Meat

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Once upon a time, there was a handsome young widower called Phillip Ndubisi. Phillip had a daughter from his first marriage. Her name was Patience. When Patience was fourteen, Phillip fell in love again and married a lovely lady called Paulina. Six years after, when they were least expectant, Paulina conceived. She gave birth to strikingly identical twins and named them Patrick and Patricia. In another three years, they had a girl whom they called Phillipa. Everyone was happy.

As legend had it, Phillip’s mother, had come visiting on one of those days. During that visit, Paulina, who was a faithful and hardworking wife, had characteristically served herself with two pieces of meat and had given her husband one. Phillip’s mother was greatly appalled by this and made it a mighty issue. For her, what Paulina did was evidence that her son was not being well fed, and it was in fact improper to have more meat in one’s soup than her husband’s. Paulina was saddened by this, but she was also very angry at Phillip because as his mother rained accusations at her, he said nothing; even as she insisted to her mother-in-law that Phillip actually preferred it that way because he had told her so himself.

Since then, since that epoch-making episode in the Ndubisi family, whether Phillip liked it or not, and even after he belatedly apologized to her, Paulina never failed to serve him with two pieces of meat. Or fish. Or ponmo. Or crab—in fact, a double of any chunk of protein that came with a meal. “For the sake of peace,” Paulina told her husband. “It is purely for peace.”

As expected, Phillip rarely touched the extra piece of meat. So Paulina would divide it among the children. This went on for some years until one fateful day when Patrick had gone to clear his father’s table. Carrying the tray of unfinished food, he suddenly declared with a flash of eureka, “I have colonized Daddy’s meat!” And that was how it all started. The greedy scramble and claiming of their father’s left-over meat had come to stay. And all of them colonized, from Patience, the first-born, down to the three latest additions to the Ndubisi family—Pius, Peace and Percy.

                                                ∞                     ∞                     ∞

“I have colonized Daddy’s turkey!” Nine-year old Phillipa hollered, saturating the apartment with her siren-like voice. As she scurried to the kitchen with the tray, her eyes were fastened purposefully on the untouched turkey. Exultant, she couldn’t remember the last time she colonized meat. It was always Pius, or Patrick, who always shared with his twin sister. “This turkey is mine.” Phillipa sang as she passed by Pius. He was in the living room at the moment, glowering at her.

“This turkey is mine.” Pius mimicked derisively. “If Mummy had not asked me to help Peace with her stupid homework, that meat would have been mine, as it always is!”

“My homework is not stupid.” Peace protested. But nobody heard her babyish voice because their mother was at that moment, scolding Pius and Phillipa: “Pius, you problem child.” She yelled, “You should have just said I am a stupid woman. If you are looking for a cry this evening, I will give it to you. And as for you, Phillipa, don’t you know you are growing up? Continue to play childish games with Pius.”

As Phillipa sulked away quietly, Pius snickered loudly. Hearing this, their mother, still stewing, picked up one of her slipper and flung it angrily at Pius. But out of boyish instinct, he ducked, and the slipper landed on Peace instead.

From the kitchen, Phillipa saw Peace’s face pucker and quiver, before she let out a deafening wail that sounded like something in-between a wounded cow and a wounded ram. Their mother was by Peace in an instant, and as she picked up her four-year old her to console her, she commanded Pius to kneel down and raise his hands.

This time, it was Phillipa’s turn to snicker and she did so quietly, deftly brushing away rice from the turkey. But just as she was about to sink her teeth dreamily into it, the kitchen door opened and Patience trudged in looking like she had trekked to Egypt with the Israelites. “Phillipa, abeg,” Patience exhaled, “Two things: come teach me national anthem, biko. The second stanza. I don forget o. The stupid interview wey I go today, na so dem say make I sing o. My sister, if you hear the nonsence wey commot for my mouth eh, you go pity Nnamdi Azikiwe wey compose am.” At this, Phillipa laughed heartily, cradling her turkey and wondering how anybody in the world would not know the national anthem. “Secondly,” Patience continued, “I take God beg you, abeg, give me that thing wey you dey chop. Hunger don kill me finish”

Phillipa’s laughter dried up as fast as methylated spirit in harmattan. She looked at her eldest sister and then back at her prized possession. “I can’t.” she mumbled. “I just colonized it.” Taking a bite, Phillipa added, “but I can teach you the national anthem, and tell you that Nnamdi Azikiwe did not compose it.”

Patience hissed, shaking her head. “Children of nowadays; no fear!” Marching out of the kitchen, she promised to pay Phillipa back in her own coin. “Wha-e-vah,” Phillipa muttered. Just then, she heard her mother calling for her. “I’m coming!” she yelled, as she put the meat down and ran.

“Go and tell Patrick and Patricia that if they don’t come back home immediately, I will stuff Cameroonian pepper in their bombom. Go now!” Her mother commanded. “Come and pass the front door o, because I know that if you go through the kitchen, you will go and first sleep there with that turkey. It is not running away, ngwa nu.”

Phillipa almost cried. As she ran to their neighbour’s house to fetch Patrick and Patricia, she did so with all sense of speed and urgency. Yet, she couldn’t help but mourn her colonized turkey. That piece of meat that was rightfully hers was now at the mercy of vengeful Patience and that kill-joy, Pius. Phillipa didn’t know when she started to pray, “In Jesus’ name; in the mighty name of Jesus! Father Lord, in the name of Jesus, I cover my meat by the blood of Jesus! Father Lord, let Sister Patience not come out of her room and let Mummy not tell Pius to stand up from his punishment. In Jesus’ name; in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

When she returned, the meat was well… gone. And true to her fears, Patience was in the living room, chattering away in Igbo with her mother. Pius was nowhere in sight. Full of hurt and resolve, Phillipa stomped to where Patience and her mother sat. “Sister Patience, I will not teach you the national anthem again. Ever! And Pius, wherever you are, you will pay!”

                                                ∞                     ∞                     ∞

“Phinipa, net me tell you something.” Peace was saying to Phillipa. “See, today, my cheacher said dogs eat bones.”

“Really?”

“Yes. If I have a dog, I will feed it because I have bones.”

Phillipa sighed, rolling her eyes at the four-year-old’s naïveté. “Peace, everyone has bones but they are not for dogs, you hear?”

“No. I have real bones. They are in Percy’s tiny bed.”

Bones in the baby’s cot? “Well, how did they get there?” Phillipa asked.

Peace shrugged. “I cononize the meat. Then I gave baby Percy the bone so that he can cononize it. But it is still there. Baby Percy don’t know how to cononize.”

Phillipa stopped short. Was she hearing correctly? “Peace, who gave you meat to colonize?”

“Nobody.” Peace replied with a shake of her head. “I cononize it by myself in the kitchen that time that you did not finish cononizing it; that time that Mummy’s slippers fell on my head.”

                                                ∞                     ∞                     ∞

… And according to the sacred, timeless Legend of the Colonization of Meat in the Ndubisi Family, the only reason why Phillipa forgave her naïve little sister on that fateful day was because of the legend itself. For indeed, the meat was for Peace’s sake. All meat meant for colonization was after all, purely for Peace.

forgiveness for peace

THE END.

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The All-Important Non-Priority Agenda

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The trail of reactions that have followed the suspension of the Nigerian Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, are a reflection of a scenario of misplaced priorities that have seemingly come to characterise the Goodluck Jonathan administration. After making startling revelations about unpaid remittances to the Federation Account by the NNPC, Mr. Sanusi entered into an altercation of sorts with Mr. President. By Thursday last week, this development culminated in Sanusi’s suspension from the leadership of the apex financial institution on grounds of financial recklessness.

For me, the suspension wasn’t half as shocking as it was disturbing; disturbing because it makes mockery of a leadership that touts itself as having an agenda; a “transformation agenda”. This agenda, once highly regarded, now seems, from the facts on ground, to be putting the things which matter most at the mercy of those which matter least; or those that only matter in a fundamentally negative way. For indeed, why would a government so concerned with financial recklessness ignore missing N20 billion, and oust the person who brings our attention to it?

To be sure, the existence of the Jonathan administration’s “non-priority agenda” can be found here and there in his track record, from the brazen granting of state pardon to political god-father, Diepriye Alamieyeseigha, to the ill-fated attempt to change the name of the University of Lagos. I find it interesting that President Jonathan, whose country’s North East is still being unfortunately rampaged by Boko Haram, will present the lead paper at Nigeria’s centenary celebration security conference. The paper will focus on how to secure the continent against terrorists. I look forward to the insights he must have to share.

As the facts seem to say, the present administration is paying quite some attention to the clamping-down of dissenters and critics, as well as the pampering of political supporters and endorsers. This can only mar whatever positive policies the administration has effected or is still in the process of effecting. What’s more? Not only was Sanusi’s suspension inopportune, impolitic and ill-prioritized, it was also illegal. But then, what is priority and propriety to a government that exalts vested interests over national interest?

Now, while it is healthy and fashionable to be irate and to point accusing fingers at President Jonathan, it is probably more germane as Nigerian citizens, to discover some important home truths that this matter is weighed down by. To wit, on the one hand, I can safely reckon that many of us either have no idea, or are only remotely aware of what goes on in government. This is sad and unhelpful. It cannot be over-emphasized, the need to take an interest in the manner and calibre of governance in our country, especially with the amount of information available to us and the immense advantages of the social media. We must spice up our political culture and hold government accountable. Little wonder this generation of youths are always the “leaders of tomorrow”, never today. We have been entrapped in a web of ignorance and complacency, while the “leaders of today” have a filled day. Anyway, I have taken the liberty to share two articles on this issue that I found particularly informative and soundly written: Think Africa Press and Tolu Ogunlesi’s

On a related point, this is where I say something about my new favourite pastime—reading articles online. I recently found on Forbes, a rather profound article titled, 11 ways to Create More Time to Think. I did have my reservations about some of the suggestions in the article, but I found that its ultimate idea held a quite a dose of wisdom. From the article, I discovered that if we want to think, or come up with ground-breaking ideas, or contribute advantageously to our environments and society, it is important that we consciously create time to think. This would give us not just more organised lives, but would help us make better prioritized and far-reaching decisions. It is said that a person is free to make his choices but he is not free from the consequences of those choices. As a result, thinking can help a man weigh his options, as well as avoid the tactlessness that comes from getting inebriated by freedom and power and opportunity. I am of the opinion that President Jonathan and his advisers are not savvy with this line of thought, and their inebriation is starting to show. We must learn lessons from their errors.

I should think that President Jonathan would focus on fine-tuning and consolidating the priority items on his transformation agenda. That way, he can ensure at least, to leave a favourable legacy for himself as 2015 approaches.

Long live Nigeria!

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Something To Offer

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Today, I passed by Schizza’s Won and there was no awe and longing oozing out of my eyes as I did so; as it used to be all those years ago when the image of those neoned calligraphic letters on the front of the store clung to my brain like my two times-table. “Skeezas,” I preferred to call it, even though my brother who was twelve at the time, said it was “Sheetzas, not Skeezas.”  The flamboyant boutique opened on the main road, the same road where my mother perched under a large Mirinda umbrella at the hem of a mechanic’s workshop to sell fruits everyday. I was ten, and pretty quixotic for a child from an economically underprivileged family as mine. Truly, nothing was more fascinating than a store that was air-conditioned and had glass sliding doors through which women, who drove their own cars, pranced in and out of. There was something fittingly out of place about Schizza’s that got the whole neighbourhood agog—my mother said the only other boutique she knew was at the city capital, Ikeja, “And those ones don’t even have shine-shine name like this one”, she noted.

One time, I was with my mother at the fruit stall when, along with an orange I was peeling, I sliced my palm without realizing it. “Oghene me!” my mother screamed for her God, before I saw the poor orange sheened with my blood. I was trying to understand how the blood got there when she landed an earsplitting smack on my back—what Yoruba people call abara. “You are looking at that shop again! You are looking at that shop again!” My mother rapped in Urhobo, almost wailing. “Let me tell you something: the people in that shop do not look at you, because you have nothing to offer. You only have something to offer by working hard at what God has given you to do. Alero, God has given us fruits. Concentrate!”

That was exactly what I did for the next four years—peeling and slicing fruits after school for my mother. She later got a small container and added soft drinks to her sales stock, but she didn’t get rid of the Mirinda umbrella that had seen better days. It was right in front of the container, and under it, she roasted ripe plantains, boli, every afternoon. By then, Schizza’s had become Schizza’s Won!, and they had opened a new nicer-looking store, Schizza’s Too, at the extreme end of the same long, now busy main road. Then Aunty Helen came to stay with us.

She was only four years older than I was and had just finished secondary school in Warri. My mother said she was very hardworking and wanted to pursue her university education in Lagos. A few weeks after she came, she told me she was tired of being sales girl at my mother’s fruit cum soft-drink cum boli store. “I get SSCE o.” She announced one day. “A-fit do sales geh for dat boutique wey dey there”. I didn’t bother reminding her that the only reason my mother allowed her to come was because she was perfect for selling fruits and soft drinks and boli. “Tell Mummy,” I said. Of course she didn’t, and the day she was going to apply at Schizza’s, she asked me to accompany her. It was a public holiday. My mother had gone to the market and expected us to open the shop. I was excited about breathing in the air of Schizza’s Too, and even though I was sure that Schizza’s, as sophisticated as it was, would never employ a Pidgin English-rapping person like Helen, I told her this might be her lucky day. Pleased, she bought orobo Coke for me before we went.

I wore my cutest top—my Betty Boop—and my faded but clean denim dungarees. Helen wore a form-fitting stretchy skirt with a scandalous side slit and topped it with an equally tight blouse that had a Rastafarian image on it. I believe it was for this reason that the security man, after questioning us senselessly, told us there was no vacancy. In other words, we were not allowed into Schizza’s. Helen thoroughly cussed the man in wafe. I was crest-fallen. It wasn’t until I watched Pretty Woman a year later that I realised that big boutiques had a policy for turning people back based on how they looked. But at least, Julia Roberts entered that store before they told her they had nothing to offer her.

Meanwhile, the worst thing was happening while we were begging to be let into Schiza’s. The Lagos State task force, who were really ruffians in tacky uniforms, was on their usual rampage looking for roadside traders to harangue and obtain bribes from. But because there was nobody at my mother’s container to give them what they wanted, they ransacked the stack of fruits my mother concealed with layers of sack cloth at the back of the container, made a dent in the container itself and in the process broke my mother’s beloved Mirinda umbrella, before they painted white X’s all around the container. I would never ever forget the spanking I received. Of course, Helen was sent back to Warri but I later learnt that she never went back and neither did she ever go to the university. After the whole episode faded away and my mother found a way to cart her container to the front of the face-me-I-face-you where we lived, I told all my friends at the public school I attended that I had gone shopping at Schizza’s on one public holiday. They believed me.

Today, my mother is not alive to know that I am a lawyer with the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning. Today, I did not just pass by Schizza’s Won!; my chauffeur drove me past it in my Toyota Camry 2013 model to Schizza’s Too where I have some important business to perform. I would be stepping inside that place for the first time. Today, I don’t have to look across the road from a fruits container or plead with a security man; neither do I have to fabricate my experience there as I did all those years ago. I could have, and should have delegated this assignment to a subordinate. But from the moment I started working on this case, I looked forward to today. Indeed, there was no way I would have passed up the offer to let the people at Schizza’s see me as someone with something very important to offer—court orders for demolition, and my money, with which I bought an Yves Saint Laurent scarf.

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You Happen After Life Happens

I first happened upon the phrase, “life happens” from the narrative of a John Grisham novel I read a long time ago. It so aptly captured the point he was trying to pass across that it began to repeatedly pop up in my head without any effort of my will. Not long after, another phrase that meant the exact same thing became the new buzzword. All over social media and even in conversations in real time, people were saying, “shit happens” as a way to express the unexpected askew-ness that is inherent everyday life: in our well-laid plans and aspirations. So let me paint the picture clearly:

ImageOk, so that’s obviously the joke edition (lol!) of what it truly means for shit to happen, or as I prefer it, for life to happen. Life happened to me a lot in 2013. For instance, I decided to become serious with my writing. Those who know me closely know that I am a “runaway writer”: I get excited about writing and come up with nice stories and approvals from my inner circle, but before you know it, I’ve zoned out again, hibernating for my next temporary writing indulgence. Sometimes, it’s the disappointments along the way that make me like that—and trust me, in 2013, I had my fair share of disappointments. Before this “fair share” occurred, I had figured earlier in the year the perfect way to stay committed: I said to myself, “Linda, perhaps if you started writing for a wider audience, you would feel more responsible to them to keep up with your writing.” It was a eureka moment for me and I delved into creating this blog with all the thrill of a trip to the Bahamas. Alas, life happened and my well-laid writing aspirations wilted. The rest, they say, is history.

So let me get down to it. First, my apologies go to those who kept asking for the next delivery of my rare scripted potpourri and didn’t see that happen: I hope this titillates your reading desires, at least. It’s a new year and who knows it just might be a new me.

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The writer of this blog is a work in progress..

Second, I am writing to all of you to whom life also happened in 2013. Things did not go as planned, I imagine. But no matter what it was (and I shudder to sound like a motivational speaker now because I know you’ve heard this countless times), it’s NO REASON to give up (well, except you are interfering with the lives of others. In that case, please give up because they have their own plans!). Otherwise, do not, like me, hide under the excuse that life is happening… In reality, it is you happening to life because all those bits of discomfort hurled at you are shaping you to bloom into a positive entity that for the life of you, you could never have comprehended.

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Yeah, you heard me. Don’t give up!

Right now, I’m not gonna pretend like I’ll be faithful to this blog, but I’ll try. However, one thing I know is that if I leave it off again, I promise to come back to my senses and continue; that much I owe myself because I know that it’ll do me good in my future. After all, remember, only practice makes perfect, and winners never quit. You are about to happen.

Salude to a new year!!!

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Errr… salude means cheers in Spanish. *wink*

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Shadow, shadow

shadow2When your neighbours and church members begin to call you by your sister’s name instead of yours, you do not realise that you are receding slowly into the muted world of shadows. You know very well that ‘receding’ is a more apt word than ‘advancing’ because you are now here in this world of shadows and you know that something similar to “missing the bus” has happened to you. Yes, missing the bus—it’s the only way you can describe how you feel in this cruel world of shadows; a world that does not care who you are because it does not even know who you are. Here, you are not a human being with an identity and a personality. You are just a disembodied entity, defined by silhouette and void of substance, wafting airlessly, noiselessly and purposelessly. Of course, you did not intend to end up here, but somehow, you know you have a hand in your getting here. Your mind recalls now to that time when someone said, “Hi! You are Somto’s roommate, right?” You should not have said yes. You should have said your name because you are more than Somto’s roommate. You are you. Rather, you chose to be Somto’s shadow; you chose to be an extension of her personality; you chose to be remembered as Somto’s roommate, not as you. Well, sadly, you got served.

Now, as you rummage through your memory, you begin to remember those many times when people referred to you and your group of friends as “Victoria and co” or “Demilade and co” but they never made the mistake of saying your name “and co” even though it was three of you that were friends. You were never that important. You could only be viewed and understood through the personalities of Victoria and Demilade, but never through yours because you always passed across as someone without a personality, as someone with nothing to offer or to be remembered by, even though that was not the case. When you did not try to prove everyone wrong by showing them that you are an excellent  sprinter and a talented still-life sketcher and a mind-blowing juggler (apart from being intelligent enough to be among the top three in your class all through school days),  you really became Victoria’s and Demilade’s shadows. This is a painful realisation for you now.

In the midst of all this reminiscing, it is now etched in your consciousness those three lecturers who never really knew your name while you were in school even though you always had A’s in their courses. Whenever they saw you, they will say with much gusto and sincere concern, tinged with that unmistakable filial regard, “How are you, Kemi? I hope your CGPA is still steady. You must make a first class o!” Of course you were not, and never will be Kemi—the other egghead in your class who got as much A’s as you—but you smiled and assured them that your CGPA was steady and that you will finish with a first. In this again, you chose to not be you. You chose to be Kemi’s shadow.

There was that other time too, you remember, when you got that gown that your first boyfriend thought was nice. You did not really like that it showed too much skin, but you let him buy it for you anyway. On the day you wore it, nobody said you looked good; not even him. What he said was, “Wow! You look so different!” and Demilade said, “In this dress, you remind me of Antonia!” You knew Demilade was not complementing you because none of you thought of Antonia as good-looking—Antonia with her old-woman face that she tried to conceal under layers of clownish make-up; Antonia with her sorely bleached complexion that she liked to show by wearing dresses that showed too much skin; just like that gown did. You should have hated being your boyfriend’s shadow enough to break up with him, but it wasn’t until eight months later that you broke up with him, not because you called the shots, but because he decided he was tired of being with you. And what about when you went for that camp meeting with your volunteer group and there was a discussion on respected world leaders. You did not want to say you really liked Niccolo Machiavelli and Adolf Hitler because everyone else was mentioning Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill. You let it slip past you that everyone was saying why they respected those leaders and you could, in the same vein, also defend your liking for those leaders. So instead, you said Mother Teresa and everyone nodded. But when Alfred said he thought Adolf Hitler fit the bill and went ahead to say why, he got a resounding ovation. So nobody knew that that ovation could have been yours.

Now you know that the doors of this world of shadows are always waiting for ‘those’ who are ever quick to acquiesce than to believe in their beliefs; for ‘those’ who prefer to be nice than to be true; for ‘those’ who would rather swallow it all than to chew it first; for ‘those’ who would rather be others than be themselves. Knowing that you are among these ‘those’, you now have only one question gnawing at your consciousness: For how long will you remain in this world?

At this point, you’ll be foolish to not know the answer.

This is the answer: It is for as long as you continue to stay mute; and for as long as you continue to betray yourself; and for as long as you continue to not get irritated, inconvenienced and frightened by the sights and sounds of the world of shadows, where the eerie “shadow, shadow” song is chanted day and night… until you are ready to catch–and ride–the bus of your life, and only your life.

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Confessions of a Readaholic

readaholic 2It may not be Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Puzo’s Godfather, Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Series or Crichton’s Jurassic Park  but I’ve come to a point in my life where from experience, I can determine that even though a book has not received rave reviews or is not authored by a popular person, it can still qualify for a great book. I am a readaholic and I’ll like to think of this space as my own version of AA- Alcoholics Anonymous. You see, I woke up one bright sunny day and decided frankly and unpleasantly that I am a very weird specie. It was a difficult decision to reach, that is why I have constantly questioned the validity of that abasing thought. So here I am: confessing. I am about to hang up my dirty linen at the risk of scathing public glare. But I have to do this; I have to confront myself. I mean, is it not weird that on a very languid day when others are out visiting or shopping or seeing a movie, I find it very comfortable reading through my secondary school Physical and Health Education textbook? Or poring over an old cook book that contains only foreign recipes? Or again, relishing the science articles in Jehovah’s Witness’ pamphlets even though I am not one of them? Beats you, right? Well, beats me more!

So let’s get into the 411 of me: I am intoxicated by the sights and sounds of a bookstore — yes, those air-conditioned havens sprawling with tomes and paperbacks. A bookstore to me has that surreal tang of newness and sage-hood mixed delicately with a bit of paradise, and if you ask me, the only thing that comes that close, is a library; with its time-tested volumes and sedate ambience. Ah, but you see, bookstores are not the only places I can find books that make me tick. Indeed, those roadside stands, whether at Iyana Ipaja or Ojuelegba are brimming with books, from magazines to political commentaries to “For Dummies”. At these Lagos road sides, I can also whip up a John Grisham or Danielle Steel for ridiculously low prices and I can exchange an old novel, sorry, vintage novel (*wink) for another vintage novel. You see, I don’t only know these resourceful book stands, I also know the Igbo boys that man them (Goddy and Chuks and Obinna to mention a few) and they know me back because they are quick to hail, “Customer!” the moment I as much as walk by. These guys, they have mastered the art of coaxing me into buying at least five books before leaving their makeshift stands and I give in so easily because I am a readaholic (Please don’t tell my dad that that’s where all my pocket money went, back in secondary school!). I have to admit here on Linda’s blog that when I’m with a book, I feel like I’m in love. It’s reminiscent of the Rebecca Bloomwood craze, if you know what I mean.

Actually, I have a habit of finding good in every book – like a girl teenager does her crush (nothing he does is ever bad; all his actions only make him more attractive!). When Non-Readaholic says, “That book is too technical. I slept off after the first page” or “I didn’t get the idea of the article. Seemed like Greek to me” I’m there thinking, “You have to be joking. I totally enjoyed and understood every page of the book. The author is soooo good!” Needless to say, another habit is talking to myself in public — I’m either mumbling to sample how a character’s name sounds in my mouth — or conversing with a book I’m reading in a public place where you can hear me say, “No way!’ or “Oh my God!” as I flip through those arresting pages.

As a readaholic, I’ve done some real terrible stuff: I’ve sneaked a book away without the owner’s knowledge only to have it fall into mud! (Please, don’t ask me how I confronted the owner afterwards). I’ve lied that I already returned a book just because I wanted to read it again for the third time! I’ve pretended to finish a 600-page novel in 24 hours just because I wanted to preserve my reputation of being a fast reader! I have lied that I have read books I have not read (well, they all expect me, being a readaholic to have read them!) Countless times, I have stolen chips or fried meat or chinchi — anything to munch on while I’m reading! I have been so carried away by thoughts of a novel that I almost got hit by a car only to thoroughly cuss out the driver for being negligent! I have lent out books I did not own to other readaholics just so that I can later on bask in the thrill of a book discussion with them. And when I lend books to non-readaholics, my hope is to lure them into my cerebral community of weirdos where we egoistically regard ourselves as the repositories of knowledge, as interpreters of all that is scripted, as lovers of novelists, poets, playwrights and academic researchers and finally, as the non-readaholic’s last resort when they are on the hot seat at Who Wants to be A Millionaire! But guess what? We’re none of that. We’re just book-afflicted souls.

bookwormLet me now borrow from Pidgin English and say, “this matter for ground, e tey wey e start o”. Deep inside however, I know that I am not alone. There are many of you out there who totally connect with my weirdness. Go ahead and share some of your idiosyncrasies. For others who are thinking, who is this readaholic nut-head?, please spill it out or, share any encounters you’ve experienced with a readaholic that annoyed the heck out of you. Perhaps I’ll be challenged to get my act together and become a better readaholic or I would just throw caution to the wind and accept “weird” as a good word– you know, as a message from the Maasai to simply be me. *wink*. Just one piece of advice though: a good book is always a good thing. It takes you to realms you thought utopian and stands you out like integrity in a corrupt Nigeria.

I’ll like to thank Linda for giving me this opportunity to release. It has done me good like therapy.

NB: Readaholic is a fictitious guest blogger.

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Life: Through these Quatrains

life2

‘Tis wake and laugh and eat

That entire buzz we do with pump and beat

Ponder yet the void of them without meat

That we may know to love and give

Hear, hear! All we who live without some pause

Merit and mirth lie in life that is lived for cause

Pause. Learn. Think. Pray. Act for it soon rumbles tough and worse

True cause comes when we breathe and love and give

Perform we now what we reckon cannot be done

Life is here, but without warn is soon gone

‘Tis is for this cause we sure were born

To really fulfill and love and give

Never must we ourselves for once deceive

This is the moment we all should live

To make sure we breathe and love and give

For yonder comes for this life to seize

This poem is in part, a tribute to a brother, Hafeez Olanrewaju, whom the world lost last week Saturday. This is the first work of poetry I’ve ever tried my hands on. My hope is that we glean and retain its message. May his soul rest in peace. He sure lives on in our hearts.

Thanks for taking out time to read.

Later.

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Pa James has a Message from the Maasai

Identity

Identity

It was from Pa James I believe, that I first heard the now cliché joke about describing a person with the most obviously silly depictions. In that episode of the famous Nigerian sitcom “Papa Ajasco”, (I’m a bit foggy on the details now), Pa James describes a man to Papa Ajasco as something like this: “The man tall. E wear shirt and trouser. If him wan sleep, e go close him eye and na mouth e dey use take talk.” I thought it was brilliantly hilarious! I do remember telling everyone about it at every opportunity I got. At that point, when all my appreciation for Pa James’ one-liner was that it was plain smart humour, it never occurred to me that I would “one day” come to realize how much of reality the actor’s words actually mirrored, albeit unwittingly. So here comes “one day”…

One day was sometime last week when I learned about a case of ‘land grabbing’ from an ethnic tribe called the Maasai by the Tanzanian government in order to lease it to a foreign hunting company. It was a much-contested issue because the government denied perpetrating the act. However, this blog post does not concern itself with pointing fingers. What is very striking and of abundant concern rather is that the Maasai people are actually an infinitely threatened people. The modern world has never really been comfortable with them as they have been timelessly harangued by both Kenyan and Tanzanian governments to give up their indigenous cultural ways of life which affords them vast areas of land that these governments would as soon rather convert into lucrative business ventures. The Maasai in response have been resolutely staunch in the preservation of their identity and in the lavish and jealous care of that uniqueness that is Maasai through and through- from their sunset and ocher hued clothing to the brilliant kaleidoscopic bead and craft work that their diligent and meticulous hands can make.

Identity: that’s the word that claws for my attention after my reading contact with the Maasai. It is rare, you must admit, to find any more display of identity in today’s globalized world than that displayed by the Maasai. You see, everybody wears jeans and make-up and hair-extensions and Police bodywear and stilettos and sunshades these days (I am not excluded!). We all use Blackberries and tabs and i-things. We all eat KFC and rice – jollof rice, white rice, Ofada rice, fried rice, coconut rice, Abakaliki rice, Basmati rice, pasta rice! If you ask me, I say we all look alike! But go ahead and ask Pa James to describe you, I bet he’ll say something like this: ‘The man na man. E get jeans for down and police body wear for up.  If e won sleep, na blackberry go tell am and na football e dey use take talk.” Hehehehehe!

Here are my thoughts: we might never be like the Maasai who are physically distinct in their cultural practices but we can definitely find a niche for ourselves in a world that tries to lump us into an indistinct entity, void of variety and verve. Letting that happen to us is as intellectually and unacceptably vague as Pa James’ laughable descriptions. I mean, the last thing you want is to only be known for the obvious and the material: by your celebrity-style hair-do, or your to-die-for abs or those fashionable clothes. You wanna look into the world sometime in the future and find yourself, you know, locate a footprint or milestone that nobody else can lay claim to except you. The French call it “je ne sais quoi” and I love that word like oh-la-la! Loving that word means being willing to give yourself some more credit than to just be a follower of the crowd without letting yourself be the billboard of, and executor of your purpose. It is obvious: this is a matter that goes beyond wearing jeans or eating rice. On the contrary, it is about making a conscious effort to stand out, not necessarily by just being different but by not betraying the “you” that you are on the inside. You see, only you and God know that “you” on the inside.

maasai So pay only scant attention to “Pa James”- just enough for the comical to mutate into  the rational. Remember that he is after all only the bearer of the message of the Maasai. Listen closely rather to the message of the Maasai, which, in the final analysis, is what should stoke the embers of our suppressed identity and purpose. On this note, it’s from the Maasai… with love!

Later!

PS: you can follow this blog by mail so that you don’t miss as much as a letter of my fascinating (I must add, rare) scripted potpourri.

Disclaimer: The above post, in its wording and intention does nothing to endorse any culture or regard any one culture as better than the other. It neither lays the blame for the erosion of any culture at the feet of any other culture or authority.

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Meet Mr, miss and Mrs Stubborn

Image

I’ve always had grand ideas about my life- about the cars I would like to drive, the businesses I would own and of course the people I would like to meet someday. On most days, these imaginative expeditions can be all the bliss and liberation I would ever know. On other days, set against the grand canvass of everyday living, all that aspiration and ambition can seem like the most senseless endeavour to ever be undertaken by the human spirit. So, for more than the umpteenth time, I have chided that imaginative stubbornness on the inside of me to accept the facts, and to you know, understand that I cannot stretch beyond myself in the pursuit of attaining these “dreams”. Besides, I remind myself, contentment is virtue. The sooner I accept my lot in life and ride with the flow, the better. But while a part of me is so cowardly to merely think beyond the starkness of my circumstances, there’s always that other part of me whose only hobby, nay, purpose is to goad me into embracing a higher goal and a fulfilled me. It’s uncanny, the determination of this part. And sometimes when I really think of it, I’m glad that all of me has not given up on me.

Yes, that’s an uplifting thought. For how else would we scale the ramparts of our imperfections, overcome the fortresses of our inabilities and confront those stark, gnawing and choking reminders of our insufficiency?  You see, all of these imperfections, inabilities and insufficiency are meant to be surmounted by none other than us! On the other side of them lie perfection, ability and sufficiency. To be content with anything else is to shut our ear against the other part of us that can help us make the transition. A fact I have gleaned from experience is that contentment is no virtue if it is at the expense of excellence, of achievement and purpose.

This blog- my opening blog post- is dedicated to the plethora of us for whom it has taken a while to discover that there is nothing but a thin line between reality and future; between complacence and ambition; between vice and virtue. For if we are plagued with the routine of hiding behind virtue to hide our own inner virtue, then virtue has become vain; it has donned the debasing garments of vice. For, hear me, your future is not just time-bound, it is virtue-bound. Virtue only begets virtue.

Virtuous. Yes, it is to you I refer. It is that imaginative stubbornness on your inside that I refer to. It is that relentless, irksome prattler that tells you to do all the things that you not only want to do, but actually have the ability to do. Do not deny your virtue. No human should toy with such great disservice and maltreatment of the human spirit. If you have, you can forgive yourself like I did and give yourself some respect. So go ahead and purchase that form. Register for that course. Write that exam. Sing that note. Stand for your principles. Acknowledge your intelligence. Dream those dreams. Be punctual. Talk to that person… I could go on! What’s the point however? I’m talking to all of us. You see, we’re all virtuous after all. Oh, but we’re not clinching to one virtue at the expense of all the virtue we’re brimming with. Rather, we embrace our virtue. We launch out into the deep. We love and we hope and we have faith. We finally allow it dawn on us that stubbornness, when it’s from our inside, is no vice at all. Stubbornness is virtue.

So give stubbornness a chance. Say hello to virtue. When you do, guess what? You have stumbled upon yourself. You discover that in the voice of your stubborn imagination is the unfamiliar you struggling to survive in the fight for self-fulfillment and self-significance. So don’t just look into the mirror to know yourself. Rather, look inside and meet yourself; meet Mr., miss or Mrs. Stubbornness.

This blog is the seed-child of my virtue; of my stubbornness. I’m sure you recognize it because we are birds of a feather: stubbornly virtuous! Now why don’t you stubbornly stay glued to this blog for more of my valuable, rare ‘scripted potpourri’?

Later!

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