Category Archives: Uncategorized
(Originally written in December, before Justina’s birth)
So I was walking through the grocery store with Olive, our youngest, for now, and she tried to catch my attention. She was the one pushing the cart – because in addition to being rather tall, daddy is lazy. Anyway, we are walking in the produce section and she calls out “Daddy, look at me!” I wasn’t. There were groceries to be purchased. My wife had to know that letting me do the shopping while she was 7 months pregnant would not always end in disaster (spoiler alert: it did. Apparently, breakfast sausages and regular sausages aren’t found side by side on the same aisle. I learnt with tears but I learnt.)
I manage to look up from my rather engrossing task of bagging green peppers and Olive says “Daddy you missed it!”
“My thing. I did somepin.” Something. Hopefully she doesn’t unlearn that slip till she’s 30. It can be cute.
Just then, another shopper, in scrubs, comments: “Yeah dad, you gotta be alert.”
“Alright Olive, do it again. I’m watching this time.” She pouts, she fakes, she wants to be cajoled. I hate that but we are at a store. I will show my displeasure at home.
“Come on Livvie Lo. Show daddy.”
And she does it again. The trick. What trick? She let the cart go ahead of her while she twirled, ran up towards it and grabbed it and then twirled again. It was really just a mass of twirls. I needed to get back to bagging tomatoes.
“Yay.” I cheered. She blushed. Flipping white people.
Moral of the story? Perspective.
The most important thing to me then and now is one thing: money. I need it for many things too private to type here. The most important thing to that child in that moment was an imperfect but supremely intentioned pirouette. At the time, it was a nothing to me but to that child it was everything.
I often resent adulthood while at the same appreciating the wonder of maturity and responsibility. I am learning that the mundane is actually just as important if not more crucial than our other priorities.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I have been looking for every opportunity to whore myself out to corporate America. Use me! For 10 hours a day! Then give me money! I have justified this because of our perceived needs.
But if that is where my heart always is, then it is not worth it. It just isn’t. The irony is that I learnt this lesson very clearly in 2013 when my mother died. Here I am in 2020 back to my old habits of loving money more than people.
Livvie Lo deserves a house with a nice pool and her mom deserves a nicer ride to shepherd them around rural America in. But beyond that, she needs a rocking dad who basks in her twirls and derives unmatched pleasure from making her giggle. She would trade ten pools for that.
I should too.
She hasn’t done another pirouette since but I massaged the girls on Friday and I throw them on the couch daily. If that’s not better than slaving through Bay Area traffic for a flashy Tesla, don’t tell me. I’m too distracted watching kids giggle.
- Understand that you can’t. You just cannot. I am 8 months in and nothing has been clearer. You cannot be perfect, the needed steps are not few and they are definitely not easy.
- Let. Them. Fart. It will stink and gross you out and if they are girls, it will surprise you what bursteth forth from the butts of babes but let it happen.
- Let a few out yourself. Not necessarily actual farts (though I am no slouch in that department) but metaphorical ones. Accept your failures and don’t hide them or redistribute blame. Kids relate more to an imperfect human. Leave the perfection to God.
- Keep a holy baseline. I recently learned that the point of parenting is not raising kids you like. It’s raising kids God likes. Hard but easy. Hard because we desire certain things of our kids. We have our own basic expectations of children and the frustration when those are unmet is something you cannot explain to someone who hasn’t felt it. But it is easy because God’s baselines are fairly straightforward to distill from reading the Bible. Hard again because you will probably find that you need to learn some of those traits yourself.
- Choose your parenting books wisely. Some of them are good and some of them are awful. I have come across a couple and as a Nigerian man who is interested in raising soldier/holy-robot hybrids, some of these white people books drive me crazy. One of them suggested leaving kids to have dirty rooms. NO! “Girls, keep ’em clean or I will set us all on fire!”
- Learn to chill. Obviously listen for loud squeals in case one stabs the other with a scimitar, make sure kid filters are on all your devices and make sure your country kids wear shoes out in the cold so they don’t lose toes and end up with a cool nickname like “Stubby”. Otherwise, chill.
- For stepdads, expect the “you’re not my real dad” spiel. It happens. No big deal. DO NOT respond with “you’re not my real kid either”. If you do, you will grow a hoof and a mane and people will then call you “Tangled”. Instead, through affection and discipline, make it your life’s work to make them regret ever even thinking it.
- Learn to make a different face when your wife or kids finds something cute and goes “Awww, how cute.” My default face is the same one I make when I walk in after one of the girls has just used the bathroom. It is a bad face. Try to make a face that says “I am neither pleased nor displeased” if you can help it.
- Acknowledge that you are the dummy if you expected a fix to your parenting difficulties by reading 9 items from a new dad/stepdad with only 8 months’ experience.
Hi my name is Christopher and you’re welcome to the year where I try to take charge of my life. Not that I haven’t been doing this previously but in December I realized why a friend (who is a Prophetess – legit!) told me that the Lord wanted me to focus.
In the search of money and hustle and in the search of this thing that Nigeria has us bogged down in, I tried to use all my talents maximally and ended up not using any one of them fully. Basically, in small increments, I stunk quite a few places up. In 2016, my writing for work was decent. I tried incredibly hard at it but I had my failures and my highs. Like real life. And that was fine. This year, I want to mic-drop every time my pages come up.
In 2016, I don’t remember making a single beat for Dolapo, the kid whose career is, for the time being, in my hands. Life though short, has openings for second chances. I will inundate him with music this year. I hope.
So many times last year, especially towards the end, I had this crippling feeling that in having too much to do, I felt like doing none at all. I have always been obsessed with the idea of being busy. Or at least looking like I was busy. It was my way of telling the universe (and if I’m being honest, my peers and family) that I wasn’t lazy and confused. It was also my way of telling myself that I was firmly on the path towards fame and fortune when I pulled myself in 7 different directions. This wasn’t wise. It was counter-productive. I’m not going to be that singer/songwriter/producer/mixing/mastering/mass-producing/radio-hustling/promoting/selling-my-stuff-in-traffic guy. So, in 2017, I promise to turn down so much work, everyone thinks I’m deluded. Heck, I promise to be deluded.
I’ll write about that later. Get it?
I love mine to death but I legitimately feel judged by some of them. A lot. Recently, there was an issue with my perceived video game habits. Basically, they thought all I was doing was wake up in the morning, turn on my ps4, muddy up the house, eat junk food, postpone all my appointments, sleep, rinse, repeat. And the more I tried to explain, the deeper I dug myself into a nice little hole.
Okay I weigh a crapton. It was at least a medium hole.
Things eventually evened themselves out and as much as I know it might piss them off if they ever read this sentiment, I’m learning not to give a crap. I’m a Christian. Let Jesus judge me. I’ve heard this defiance from other people who were either breaking the mould or making bad decisions. I looked at them funny. I’m happy to be looked at the way I looked at others.
Although that’s partly because I think I’m sexy.
I really don’t think I’m sexy. Funny? Probably. I can get a few jokes in. Sexy? Not really. But it’s relative I hear. Any ladies into dudes with enough tummy to be a double for a spinning atlas should send me a DM on twitter: @cikk0.
Anyway, women. Largely lovely but sometimes infuriating. As usual. As of January 2017, there are two that I’m too nice to cut out of my life completely. In my defence, I have tried. In their defence, they are both mildly bonkers. Neither of those relationships are romantic. But both think we’re still very close friends. We used to be. Here’s to figuring out how to be properly rid this year.
Romantically, 2016 was fairly nonsense. There was this girl I may have fallen very badly for. Not ‘may’: I fell. But I ran swiftly when I sensed a thing that I would not live with. The short version is that she was epic with bearing grudges and though she warned me, I thought I was too cute to be on the wrong side of that particular trait. Well, as with when I used to think all sexual intercourse was pleasurable for men, I was wrong. 2017, feel free to be somehow.
I love mine. But sometimes, I want to step back. Just because. I go to The Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim purely on my own terms. I want to. Born into it, left, returned. Tried Pentecostal churches: loved the sermons (a lot!) couldn’t stand the clichés and the rhetoric and the clean-cut look of a “prospering Christian brother.” It wasn’t them, it was me. I couldn’t relate. So I returned to my home. And yes, I loathe church cliché. My current church has a bit of it but it doesn’t grate on my nerves like some others I’ve experienced. I hate how attending church is somehow mandatory and non-attendance is more or less criminalized. You know what? Some mornings I just want to sleep in. Prove to me that God is taking attendance as part of CA and I’ll be the first one in.
Okay I won’t be the first in. But I’ll be the second and make jokes at the door.
The vast majority of gospel music bores me to tears. Once Timbaland and Calvin Harris start making gospel hits, that stuff will litter my Spotify playlists. But until then…
On the future
I am happy to wait this one out. But e get where I go old reach ehn, if I never marry, I go gats give person belle. Little Cikk0s will fart in vanilla flavour and be great for our carbon footprint. Amen?
I always have too much month at the end of my money when I do the math but I find that I somehow always end up with a little to spare at the end and I generally regret not going in for that one splurge I held back on. I’m learning to not be a slave to the cheddar. Sometimes, blow it all. No really, blow it all. Not on frivolous things but on generosity and philanthropy and on that beautiful sound system you’ve been ogling. Yeah, go. Do. Easy come easy go. But give most of it away. The universe loves that stuff. I find that the more I lessen my grip on my wallet, the more readily it refills. Also, keep a pension fund. I don’t have one yet but my cynicism hasn’t made me blind to its benefits.
Some random gist to close this out. On New Year’s Day, I had my niece Abigail in my lap. She was fiddling with my face. Next thing: “Uncle, remove your glasses.” I do. To which she remarks: “Ah. Iz more beautiful.” I freaking melted. Like melted. And dissolved into puddles of clear water.
She’s 4 going on 5 though. “Iz more beautiful”??? I’m gonna kill her English teacher!
Forgive the typos.
Sisi was lying down on her bed, face down, muffling winces. It hurt. Not everywhere, but where it ought to. Every time she heard footsteps outside her closed door, she panicked a little bit. She forgot her worries long enough to fade into a very light sleep.
Two sharp knocks. Curt as the man. Papa.
She kept quiet. Maybe he would go away. She knew he wouldn’t. Or would he?
Two sharp knocks. Again.
“Please come in,” she groaned.
“Sisi the first. What’s happening? You haven’t surfaced downstairs all day on a Saturday. Are we safety?” He joked, deliberately ignoring basic rules of grammar.
“You are in obvious pain and you are curled up in a way rarely associated with the cheeriest people on earth. So, let me guess, did you lose a tooth in a fist fight?”
“No sir. And I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Thanks for making me more curious. Okay, so you have a boil in a no-sunshine zone?”
“No dad. And I am still not interested in having this conversation,” Sisi’s weakness came across. He cracked the case.
“Oh my God. The worst has happened.”
“What sir?” Oblivious to her question, he called out for his best buddy.
“Honey!!!” Mama was not that far away to begin with so she answered as she approached.
“It has happened, my dear!”
“What happened?” Her voice, muffled by the wall between, could be heard outside the door. Papa opened it and let her in. Sisi groaned, Mama looked worried.
“You remember that thing we prayed wouldn’t happen till our daughter turned 45?”
“Yeah?” Realization hit her speedily as she recalled the events of a fortnight ago: Sisi’s 19th birthday. Then: “Nooooo. Our daughter is getting dick?”
“Nobody said that,” Sisi defended.
“Your father did. Therefore, ’tis true mi’daught.”
“Oh dearie me,” Papa said and plonked himself on Sisi’s bed. The sudden motion jarred Sisi and she winced. Mama noticed.
“You really lost your virginity last night didn’t you?”
There was no logical basis for this sequence of deductions. Sisi had always given her parents the image of a level-headed girl who had it all completely figured out. Sisi had imagined the truth would never be known. She had prepared a lie in case anyone pressed her to talk about it: aggressive menstrual pain. She hadn’t even gotten the chance to use that angle and here her folks were, spilling truth.
“So you’ve taken your first classes in the course known as MAN 101: Introduction to Organic Chemistry,” Papa said drily. Sisi couldn’t understand him at first.
“Did you score an A?” Papa continued.
“More importantly, did she score an ‘O’?” Mama caught on quicker. Papa perked up having discovered a new angle to investigate.
“Yeah. How was it?”
“How was what?” Sisi was finally on the same page but was happy to feign ignorance as long as possible.
“You know, your first oil change. Your first foreign invasion. Your first ride on the toothpick. Why are my analogies getting more disturbing?”
“Why do you want to know?” she shrieked.
“Look, I don’t want a blow by…” Papa paused and closed his eyes for a second. He reopened them and resumed talking. “…I’m sorry. I just blacked out after the image those words conjured. Let me rephrase: was it any good?”
“Oh dear it was terrible,” he sighed,
“Don’t judge the guy or our daughter too badly. Our first time was crap too and we weren’t even virgins,” Mama added.
“This is true. I believe I sucked that night.”
“Honey, in some ways, I wish you had,”
“I don’t believe I’m having this conversation with my folks!!!” Sisi yelled. In response, both her parents stared at her intently, wordlessly. They wore very stern expressions. And now it really hit home that they knew. Sisi started sobbing.
“I’m sorry,” she wept while waiting for the reprimand and possible consequences of her actions. Her parents, while jovial, never hesitated to bring the hammer down. She expected some deprivation: rights or pleasures taken away. More restrictions. Angry words.
What she heard instead was:
“What’s wrong with this one. Sweetie, why is this one crying? Did he force himself on you?” her mother asked.
“No,” she was still sobbing. Memories of how underwhelmed last night had left her washed over her anew. She sobbed harder.
“I don’t understand. You applied for and were supplied with pipe. Why are you in tears? Did your plumbing fall out?”
“No sir! Aren’t you guys mad at me for having sex?”
“Unhappy is a word I’d prefer,” Papa responded
“Yeah, we aren’t mad. What good would that do?” her mother said
“So I’m not grounded for life?”
“Oh please. You watch too much Disney. We live in Alagbado. If you piss me off, I will quietly kill you and dump your body in the canal. Simple solutions,” the smile in Mama’s eyes contradicted her words.
“Anyway, we are not particularly pleased but at the same time, we aren’t mad at you. Quick question: the dude who did… the deed: has he called today?” Papa wanted to know.
“So your first lay was a douche?”
“Well I wouldn’t call him that,”
“What would you call him then? A bastard?”
“So just Jovita then?” Mama concluded,
“How did you know his name?” Sisi was shocked.
“Abeg abeg,” Mama dismissed, “you think we are blind, deaf and stupid yeah?”
“I was kind of hoping your first lay would be called Kane though,” Papa said.
“You wanted your daughter’s first guy to be a foreigner?” Mama asked,
“No. let’s just say there’s a comprehensive list of Have-You-Been-Kaned-Recently jokes that will now be going to waste,” Mama guffawed and Papa turned to his daughter.
“Thanks a lot guys. Nothing to cheer a girl up like some witty banter from her parents.”
“Hehe. E say witty banter. Sounds like the name of a really pricey British hooker,” Papa then proceeded to do an awful British accent.
“For three thousand naira, you can get with Evelyn and Alexis. For five thousand, you can get with Tyra and Angel but if you have really deep pockets, fingers crossed, gentlemen – you might get you some Witty Banter.”
“Oh dad, you’re a horrible person,”
“You say it like it’s a bad thing,” Mama retorted,
“Yeah. What’s wrong with that?” Papa asked,
“Your daughter is strange. I am curious though: how do you know so many hooker names?”
“Errrm,” he stammered, ” I’m not giving too much away but I did have a Bachelor’s Eve you know,”
“Ugh. Remind me to poison your friends,”
“You know what, I just might. They fixed our house as the venue for our next hangout without even telling me.”
“What? Well that’s not so bad.”
“They didn’t know I overheard, but Tayo’s wife called you fat,”
“I know. I should totally call them and insult them,”
“You know what? Don’t bother. Let them come over,” Mama reached for her phone and started tapping.
“What are you doing? You seem excited already. Who are you texting?”
“I’m not texting… I want to see how much arsenic goes for on Jumia.”
Without warning, Papa switched his attention back to his daughter.
“So was Jovita a virgin then?” he demanded. She thought he had backed off.
“Not at all sir,” she answered.
“How unromantic is that? Today’s youths no longer like to lose their virginity in pairs. You guys look for sex partners as if it’s a managerial position at Nestle: ‘twelve years experience needed.’ Well, here’s the thing: there is a reason why some women like to wait for someone special. Sex is a great thing but look at you. Less than a day after your first time and you aren’t snuggling into your man’s arms while he promises to build the family house in your name,” Papa said.
“Well it’s not my fault that I was a sexual dynamo!” Mama defended.
“Shut up!” Her parents chorused.
“Stop gloating, honey. Anyway, rather than basking in the overrated glory of the morning after, you are stuck with Nigeria’s strangest parents nudging your thighs deliberately so it hurts you more,” as if to buttress Papa’s words, Mama nudged Sisi in the thighs slightly.
“Be quiet,” Mama spat again.
“Look, we could get mad and throw you out or give you a well-deserved beat down but what would that solve? You’d get even more rebellious and next thing we know, you are the star of Bodacious Black Girls volume 27: Lagos Invasion. What I will say is that we love you and we might get mad, but we won’t slaughter you even though we really want to. Like really, really want to,” Papa ended his speech but Mama was strangely fixated on something else.
“Bodacious Black Girls have only just released Volume 20. Why would our daughter not be able to whore her way into say… Volume 22?”
“You make a valid point dear but I figured it would take them at least six maybe even seven years to properly invade Lagos. Don’t you think so?”
“True, true.” Mama concurred.
“You guys are making me uncomfortable,” Sisi wailed.
“You don’t know discomfort yet,” Papa stood up, “Now we issue your punishment,”
“Yes sir,” Sisi also sat up. The mood in the room had changed instantly.
“Surely you didn’t think this would go over that smoothly did you? Remember those awkward sex talks? They are henceforth reinstated. You’re 19 so fewer diagrams will be employed but there will be much more extensive tutoring on consequences. You will listen and you will take notes. Note that if you get pregnant, you are moving out. If you end up at that stage of the program, we will call it a field trip. Do you understand?”
“Also, Jovita has to come here and see us. We’ll plan a lunch or something,” Mama said. She’d also risen, “If he’s a decent guy, he’ll show up. If he runs away, you’ll be rid. Clear?” she said sternly.
“Great,” Papa said
They were at the door now.
“Alright Sisi. See you downstairs in a few, okay?”
Sisi was relieved. The sex talks were an ordeal but things could have been much worse. “Okay Dad. I love you guys.”
Her father wrinkled his face in disgust.”Oh, you had sex. Eat shit!” As he slammed the door, Sisi burst out laughing then “Ow.”
It still hurt.
“…happy birthday to you!!!!!” They finished the song.
“Happy birthday!!!” They all yelled.
“Thanks everyone,” Sisi said, “I love you all so darn much. Thank you so much.”
“Stop story abeg. Blow out your candles,” from within the crowd, one person spoke.
“So,” her father began, “what are you gonna do for your forty-third birthday?”
“Well, I’ve been waiting so long but I think now is the time. For my birthday, I have decided to have sex for only the second time!”
Her father, so overcome with joy, turned to the crowd and screamed “Hip! Hip!! Hip!!!”
“Honey stop yelling,” she shook him.
“Mmmm,” he rolled onto his side.
“Hip! H…” he started again. She interrupted him with a firm punch on the arm. He started awake and looked around, then at her. She saw his euphoria turn into disappointment.”
“Good dream aye?” she asked.
Disclaimer: this is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any people real or imagined is purely coincidental.
Also, please visit corksandscrews.wordpress.com to listen to episodes of my podcast which is allegedly funny. Thank you.
“No pot-belly?” the king of Tsatirrhi asked as he shook the hand of his counterpart from a sister African nation, The President. The President chuckled and looked down to make sure that one hadn’t suddenly grown while he was shaking hands.
“None. What’s your problem? I exercise!” The President replied,
“Power? Yes. But on a treadmill?” said the only African monarch with a Masters degree. He was the least educated of the lot. Most of the others had Doctorates. None were honorary. They both laughed.
“What I do on a treadmill for forty minutes at 3.50 am everyday you do on twin girls for four minutes, 350 days a year,” The President quipped back, “You get your exercise where you can, right?”
“Right,” the king answered, “but four minutes? I am the monarch of an African nation not a Japanese engine on a full tank of gasoline. Who lasts that long?” it was a tasteless joke but they both laughed again.
“How is Tsatirrhi?”
“Crumbling,” the king sobered up, “but we’ll be fine. I’ll be handing over to a younger politician next July. You must have heard of Djalimi. He seems fresh, vibrant and honest,” The President was shocked.
“What do you mean by that? If you can rule an oil-rich state without adding weight, I can hand over the reins without a fight,”
Those types of conversations were the most fun anyone had at those AU summits. As they settled into it, deliberations on reducing fighting in certain regions took centre-stage. Things really had changed.
“No agenda on poverty alleviation?” one rookie president asked a more seasoned one.
“We don’t need that anymore,” the experienced one spat, “what year do you think this is? 2015?”
After the summit, The President had to fly back home hurriedly. There would be no time for chit-chat. The senate house had scheduled an urgent behind-closed-doors meeting and he was to be in attendance. He kissed the king of Tsatirrhi goodbye and once he was out of sight, ordered his assistant to mail the king a gift-wrapped box of Viagra pills with a note that said: “Stay strong. Really.”
The senators were not happy. He should have known he was in for a pillorying. Things never ended well when they happened “behind closed doors”.
“Mr. President,” one of them started. He’d heard this one was the head honcho behind the scenes, “details of a new Administrators’ Remuneration Bill have been reliably leaked to us,” The President chuckled. “Something funny, sir?”
“No. Just that your accent means that you switch the letters ‘l’ and ‘r’ involuntarily when you say things and frankly when you had to say ‘reliably’, I almost died inside,” some of the other senators flat out laughed. The President apologized: “I’m sorry. Please continue. But if for any reason you have to say the word ‘involuntarily’, just don’t.”
The senator continued, “We understand that the bill seeks to reduce the earnings of all top-tier government officials by as much as 70 percent. Is this correct, Mr. President?”
“Of course that’s wrong information,” The President smiled into his glass as he sipped and made them wait for his next words. “The proposed reduction is for 75 percent,” he chuckled again. “Also, it’s not a bill. It’s going to be a referendum. The people will get to decide how much we get paid.”
Instant chaos ensued.
And The President just kept chuckling.
The President was only in the second year of his four-year term but he was already sick of people. Today, it was the Director in charge of Communications that was riling him up.
“Mr. President sir,”
“Please. Call me Nat,”
“With due respect Mr. President, I will not,”
“That’s a start. Now instead of saying that last word with an ‘o’ try the word with an ‘a’,”
“I’d rather…abstain sir,” he said, while picking his words.
“Or try it in a Ghanaian accent?”
“Never mind. Speaking of minds, what’s on yours?” As The President said this, he made a mental note to write a book called “World’s Worst Segues”.
“Sir, we need to reconsider your ‘free-press’ policy,”
“What about it?”
“Well I initially thought the announcement was a publicity gimmick but it seems you’re really going ahead with it.”
“I understand that sir, but is it really wise to cede content control of the only media network funded by the state?”
“It’s not just wise, it’s imperative.”
“But do you really want to take that risk, Mr. President? How will you ever get to tell the people what you need them to hear?”
“I don’t want them to hear what I need them to hear,” The President reduced his eyes to slits and his voice to a whisper, “I want them to hear the truth from a genuinely free press.”
“A free press?”
“Mr. President,” the director said, “You need to stop making stuff up.”
The President was on a surprise tour of boarding schools around the country. With nary a day’s notice, he was randomly going round to a number of public boarding schools. He wanted to see what the students’ conditions were really like. Not the Photoshopped, primped, documentary-appropriate version that he otherwise got to see when they had a month to plan.
He was in the school’s auditorium and students had been encouraged to speak on what it was they wanted the most in the school. It was all the same. The fifth student to speak reiterated what four others had said in similarly impeccable English: “Good day Mr. President sir. Sir, we eat three good meals every day so we are not hungry. But yesterday evening, around 7pm, there was a loud explosion and the power went out. Some technicians came about twenty minutes later but were not able to fix it immediately. We were promised that the power would be restored by 3pm today but that would be after classes. Mr President sir, that means that after this assembly is over, we have to open the windows of our classrooms due to the lack of air-conditioning. We humbly request for power to be restored sooner.” As the child bowed out, the rest of the school, including the teachers applauded and cheered very loudly. The President rolled his eyes.
Having heard enough, it was time for The President to approach the microphone and address the school. He thought of how best to comfort them as regards their power problem. Perhaps a history lesson was in order. In his mind, the first words that came were “When I was growing up…” However, he looked at his watch: 9:43am. He did some quick calculation and thereafter couldn’t bring himself to hold his true feelings in. So instead he grabbed the microphone and…
“You spoilt bastards,” The President cursed.
At his official nest, The president sat in the one office that had a view of the outside: The Planning Room. This was where all the best ideas were birthed. The downside of The Planning Room was that security was an ever present. Armed, over-exercised guards stood no more than three feet apart. It was the law. And unlike the china in the Stress Room, he never broke those. At least they were quiet. He had learned to block them out of his mind while he thought out plans for moving his nation forward. He had learned to give his full visual attention to the best part of the room: the window had a metal frame but no intricate mesh to prevent burglars. So that when it was flung open, it was flung open wide. He looked out of it while his eyes focused on nothing, giving his mind the freedom to home in on everything else.
He smiled now as his eyes did find something to focus on. It was flying.
It did not look like a normal bird though. This one seemed a lot more rounded. It didn’t seem to be flying at a very high altitude. Probably because of how grossly overweight the animal was, thought The President. Rather than a beak, the animal had a snout. And was that…a tiny…tail he was seeing?
“What’s that?” The President pointed out the window. The guards tried to look without leaving their positions, twisting their necks. They looked at each other and shook their heads.
Finally: “We don’t know sir,” one of them offered. They all looked surprised, like they could not really understand what they were seeing.
He was still wondering about the shape of the flying animal when it seemed to make a noise that left him even more confused.
“Did you hear that?” he asked to no one and everyone at the same time.
“Sir?” the guards were almost tripping over themselves to give him an answer.
“That noise. I think the flying thing outside made a noise. Keep quiet. It might do it again.” The room fell silent again. This time, the animal was more audible:
THIS WAS WRITTEN BY MY GOOD FRIEND ZINNY. I DO NOT POSSESS THIS MUCH DEPTH OF THOUGHT.
THE BEGGAR’S HANDOUT
Ours is a society where begging has been transformed into an art form. I am not quite sure how it evolved, but here’s my two cents: our Nigerian brethren put a thinking cap on their gifted criminal minds and decided to put a spin on the value our religions place on giving to the poor and our brothers’ keeper culture and gave it a whirl. They took what was hitherto considered a demeaning cop-out and made of it a profession, a proud one at that, which many now jostle to belong to. And they didn’t quit there. They threw out the boring, and dare I say, uninspiring practice of sitting quietly in a corner, being visible just enough for people to take notice of and toss a few coins in mercy and replaced it with a lively performance that stops short of a standing ovation each time. Now it thrives, not merely as a petty association, mind you. It is an emerging industry, it is the oil that lubricates the national economy, it is the very fabric of society itself. Dears, I give you the Panhandlers Executive.
For those aspiring to enter this exclusive club, you have a jump start. Detailed below is a list of things you need to know. I went all out, held nothing back. From job benefits to qualification requirements to modus operandi…your very own exposé. If many who got into this line of work without the privilege of reading this piece have been able to make a go of it, you, my friend, are without excuse.
- This occupation is open to all and sundry. Discrimination on the basis of gender, age, status, disability, ability, ethnicity, race, education, etc is not tolerated. Note that this profession holds strictly to the principles of Equal Opportunity and Federal Character as enshrined in our beloved nation’s constitution.
- Experience is utterly irrelevant. Lose a hand now, and you have a job waiting by evening. This incentive, I assure you, exists no place else.
- You are your own boss, and your earnings all yours to be spent as you please, except you consent to come under the authority of a Mallam (if a Northerner), or parents (if a refugee).
- Your take home per month is at par with average income earners, or even better.
- You cannot be fired!
- You must have suffered loss or scarring of some body part. It doesn’t matter that you came about said loss or scarring deliberately or obtained it in the course of engaging in criminal activity. We do not judge.
- You must be unable to provide for yourself or your dependants. We realize that the country’s situation leaves a lot to be desired, making most of us dependent on the charity of others. We sympathize and hey, the more the merrier.
- You must be street smart, able to think on your feet. No dullards wanted.
- You must be naturally talented at acting and able to adapt your performance to the circumstance at hand.
- You must be quick on your feet. Previous experience in dancing is an advantage.
Caveat: Nothing in the aforementioned portion precludes the able-bodied, idle, lazy-rich, pleasure seekers, kleptomaniacs and those who by some spiritual condition have been cursed to a life of begging from participation. If in doubt about our open door policy, see “Job Benefits” above.
Success on the street is dependent on knowledge of the factors above. Put simply, who is your client? Where is your client? When can you find your client?
Contrary to popular belief, your client is not every Lagosian, no. Your client is the religious adherent, who lives by the admonition It is more blessed to give than to receive or its equivalent in the Koran. Thankfully, in Nigeria, by their dressing you shall know them. So, keep your eyes peeled for jewellery in form of a cross, prayer beads, bibles, gramophones and Muslim attire. Your client is also the doe-eyed, new arrival in town. You may prefer the term Johnny-Just-Come. JJC is just oozing with compassion for the less privileged and has oodles of spare change to throw around. Cluelessness is adorable – milk it dry!
Again, your client is the political candidate at the peak of defining elections, who wants to show the world that he really intends to make good on his manifesto for the poor and destitute. Be non-partisan, but make yourself available at every rally and every event where the money is being distributed. Do not be a fool; you have a constitutional right to the National Cake. Grab your own slice now!
Location! Location! Location! This is a no-brainer. First off, crowded places are your business’ thrust points. But you would need to narrow it down some: big churches on Sundays, event centres (parties) on Saturdays, mosques on Fridays, markets and bus stop thoroughfares every other day of the week. See, you’re covered the whole week through so there’s no reason to starve.
Prime time is Rush Hour. Save your energies and best performances for then.
We are born with innate gifts and talents. These gifts and talents make us better predisposed to certain job descriptions than others. This applies in this occupation as well. Below are recommended ways of expressing your inner Genevieve or Ramsey Noah. Choose wisely.
- Badger: This works best if you are a child: everyone has a soft spot for a child. Adults are considered pesky.
Strategy: Do ensure you look your most raggedy on the job. Presentation is key, and the worse off you look, the more compassionate people are to your plight. I have to say, fair-complexioned, curly-haired refugees with a knack for speaking pidgin like English is going out of style have the best luck. Don’t hate though, pretty poor rocks.
Prime Target: Look out for those who dress like a million bucks and those who would be uncomfortable beside you. Reach for their hand and attempt to follow them to their destination. Before long, money would exchange hands.
Prime Location: Hassling someone for a kobo over the stretch of a pedestrian foot bridge or across an express road is an excellent choice. Good thinking.
- Praise Sing: Our Hausa & Yoruba brothers excel at this art as their cultures are woven around it. So if you are not from these tribes, steer clear. Note: Knowledge of the English language is absolutely unnecessary. In fact, speaking English would likely halt your progress. Truth is, there is something about praise singing especially in Yoruba that causes our ears to tingle with joy, our hearts to open as a flower opens up itself to the sun, our heads to swell and consequently, our pockets to empty. Be sure to have a tambourine at hand to make the music ring.
- Motor-Park Evangelism: Don’t get it twisted; your job is not to bring the lost to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Leave that to men of the cloth. Your job description is simple: give succour to the fearful of heart. You do not need to be born again yourself to do this. You only need to know a few choice scriptures on protection and safety.
Prime Target: Your customer base is in the parks, so do yourself a favour and liaise with the park’s management to be the park pastor. Word of advice: the bigger the park, the higher the inflow. Of course that might mean giving them a cut of your earnings. What does it matter? You have a steady source of income now. This job requires that you possess a good degree of charisma. So, if you are typically morose and mellow, turn aside. Sanguines and cholerics, vacancies within.
Strategy: Pick on small buses alone. Why? Their drivers are famous for taking the needle out of the speedometer. The sheer dread of what the future holds usually has the passengers in numbing paralysis. They would be only too glad to have you show up and even happier to pay you for your services. So just before the bus takes off, approach the passengers to say a word of prayer with them. Sing a rousing song and burst into prayers with gusto. Quote those scriptures and intersperse your prayers with a stirring smattering of tongues and the blood of Jesus. Round up your prayers with a call for donations to help you continue with “the Ministry”. You don’t need to say much. Money would tumble forth.
- T-Fare Con: For you, the busiest thoroughfares are the best. You can switch around per time of the day so people don’t link your face to a particular spot. You are allowed to look miserable but not entirely so – you have to be believable. Time your business hours around rush hour because then you have a sea of people trooping to or from work. Approach anyone and explain that you don’t have enough to get to your destination. Your destination should be far, but not too far to warrant suspicion. I cannot stress it enough: be believable. Prepare a good cover story too. Your use of the English language should be sufficient, particularly if your cover story is that of a worker.
- Help! I Have Twins: “Children are an heritage from the Lord.” Yes, we know. But sometimes, they could be an unexpected package, especially when they come in duplicate. Since you sent up no request to the Divine for this special package, you have a right to head for the nastiest gridlock and present this package to every open eye. However, your cash target are people driving fancy cars as those in danfos might be in no mood to summon pity for you and yours. This job favours the nimble of feet because gridlocks bring out the crazies in Lagos drivers. If you are overweight and have a death wish, ignore my counsel. Please note that here, you work hard for your money. Any slouching and you might go home without a dime. Think about the children.
PS: Let the tears flow!
- Smile: Oh, the power of a smile. I lose myself every time I see a beggar smile and there is one who has captured my heart through this tactic. No, he doesn’t follow me about smiling. That would be eerie. He has his spot on the stretch of road between Ojuelegba and Barracks bus stop. He is Hausa, middle aged, dark skinned and missing an arm. Most mornings, you can find him sitting on that piece of stone, widening his lips in pleasure without fail. And he caps it up with a greeting: “good morning, ma; good morning, sir.”
Strategy: Purchase a brush. A toothbrush, I mean. It costs 50 naira a pop for the Smokers version. Teeth that look like burnt potatoes have zero appeal. And if your teeth look like a bomb went through it, please Do Not Attempt This! Also, don’t look too unkempt. Strive for balance. You want to say “I look haggard because I am poor, but I am not a terrorist or a mad person.” My favourite beggar keeps his hair close shaven. This enables his customers respond to his greetings without fear. And be polite. The door that badgering closes, politeness would fling open. It helps, too, if you are good looking. I kid you not. It has gotten so I no longer give the man 10s and 20s. I give 50s and 100s. If I had loose change (in the denomination already stated) every time I pass his way – which is every day – I would give him every day. Smile, people, smile.
That’s it, folks. All you need to get into the business of begging. Warning: Let no one berate you about your choice of occupation. Truth is, we are all beggars, only in levels: from government beggars to social media coney-catchers to family parasites, we are one or another. But human nature seeks to put down those at the bottom of the totem pole, so you might find yourself being picked on more. Turn a blind eye, shut your working ear, pay them no mind. Never forget, creativity is the fuel that drives a lucrative business, so do not hesitate to tweak any of the methods listed here for maximum output. Better still, come up with something Nigeria has never seen. Trust me, we will applaud and our pockets will show their gratitude. Finally, always, always, keep the client’s response in view. This is what makes or breaks any business. You don’t want to start out at a disadvantage because you refused to listen. Good luck and God bless.
First up, I was really bored in Owerri after my brother’s nuptials when I typed this.
Secondly, if you steal this and pass it off as yours without giving me credit, all your kids will look me… And everyone will know why. And me that I’m now ugly. No really, don’t steal this without permission. I don’t like it. Simples.
Football is really a perv’s game because…
10. The whole object is to score.
9. You have a bunch of men trying to get in the box…
8. And a bunch of burly, defensive men trying to stop balls from getting in there…
7. The best scorers might not be good with their feet, but all is forgiven if their head is fantastic…
6. Guys, getting your balls in low and hard is good…
5. Ladies, being high and wiiiiide is not…
4. Like your Twitter dates, if you perform poorly, you will be subbed…
3. If you’re good at handling balls, you’re probably a ‘keeper.
2. It’s better to play on a wet, slick surface than a dry one. (Okay, that’s just nasty)
1. And lastly, like a lesbian will tell you, ball possession isn’t everything…
I may have been bored AND high. Sorry…
A short story: the list of how many girlfriends I’ve had.
A long story: why I’m not with any of them.
A sad story: one day, I looked in the mirror…
A funny story: one day, I looked in the mirror. While naked.
A sadder story: while staring in the mirror naked, my high wore off.
A smart story: I got dressed. Fast.
A stupid story: and what do you think you’ve been reading for the past minute or so?
A dumb story: It took you a full minute to get this far?
A war story: one day, I went to the toilet…
A crime story: you should ask the poor guy who went in after me.
A romantic story: so as I was eating a large helping of spaghetti…
A coming-of-age story: like that of King David and Uriah, I realized that my romantic story led to my war story and then my sad story.
A tragic story: so I wrote my account number and signed. Two minutes later, the lady at the desk wrote some figures she was looking at on a computer screen.
A never-ending story: so the other day, I tried to figure out women.
A fantasy story: seeing as we now have electricity 2-4-7…
A happy story: yeah. Didn’t I just say I put my clothes back on?
Baby steps now, I’ll have more on the blog next week. Been a lazy lazy writer in 2014…
Wow. 9 months since I first penned Crash Course. I’m awful at this. And yes, this is also in pidgin. And this is also raunchy
I like my landlord. Na correct guy. Him build dis im house well well. You don see ‘Face Me I Woze You’ wey carry burglary proof for window before? Omo dem fit dey but na Island yard dey get all dat one. You nor fit see am for dis we Orile. For me to pack out of dis yard go hard. Sotey landlord build toilet reach two for backyard. Anyway sha, dat evening I just baff dey fresh dey expect person. Me and Napodia been get appointment. She suppose come yard come see Patrick. I know say una don begin dey tink who be “Patrick”. If you remove the ‘at’ inside im name, you go know say Patrick na our best friend for area. We dey pamper am and everything wey we dey reason na to benefit Patrick.
U don kana am?
My mainest man na one boy wey dem dey call Credit. Him dey sell chemist for area. After I go gist una why we call am dat name. Me and d idiot get appointment so I reason say make I call am warn him papa spirit not to near my house today as per say because babe dey come.
“Credit, how far now?”
“Crashito! How paroles na?”
“I dey. Which levels?”
“Omo, I go soon begin come your side o. Make I just free small for shop. Boys broke die. Shebi if I come you drop for me ba?” Dis fool dey always beg money but no be im make I give am dat name sha.
“Drop ke? I resemble your mama bobby?”
“Guy no dey cuss my mumsy bobby o!”
“Why I no go cuss am? Una dey buy broom? No be d tin wey una dey use sweep yard?”
“You don start o, you don start! Na wetin na?” I smile where I dey. Any small yabis dey can sabi pain Credit.
“Guy calm down. No vex. I say make I call you tell you say make you no show again o.”
“Ah ah. Make I no show? Why?”
“Napodia dey come,”
“Ahhhhhh! My chairman!” Nothing dey sweet boys pass to hear say woman dey come find man. Credit just continue to dey hail.
“Guy, she go visit Patrick side?” Which kain stupid question dis boy dey ask me sef?
“Na because of am wey she dey come na,” I no dey kuku fall hand.
“Ah. Sure boy. Tidy am well o.”
“Guy, my name no be Credit na. I be original Crash Cos!” Okay, make I tell una why we dey call am Credit. Credit na d shorten of “Hundred Naira Credit”. And I give am dat name because, according to him girlfriend, our guy “no dey tey before him finish.”
One hour later, Napo dey my room and I wan remove her blouse.
“Crash Cos wait,” Oooooh god! Which kain wahala be dis? Why dis babe dey slow my movement?
“Wait say wetin happen?” I don dey vex where I dey sef,
“I never do dis kain tin before.” Napo come dey hide face for me.
“Which kain tin you never do before?” Napo come shame for face as she use hand point my ‘extension cable’. I shock.
“Napo, dem never take Patrick slap you before?” Napo shake head.
I don die for Lagos!
“Jisos! So you dey try tell me say as your yansh big like cinema television so, you never see Patrick?”
“Crash Course, I never see…”
“Why? Why? Patrick is good na! You must try to dey see am from time to time. Ehn. Napo give me one good reason why you never visit Patrick at this age. You nor dey see your mates? Crash Course no dey tear label o! No be me dey open shop!”
Omo na lie o. Dat day I open shop by force by force. Patrick cannot live by garage alone… e must to dey visit sardine container once once na.
When I dey with Jolomi, I fit control myself. But if Napo na sardine container, Jolomi na airport. I no know when I turn to Credit.
“Ahn ahn. Na wetin? Crash Course, you don finish?”
My eye don roll go back. E don sweet me die. I just manage get myself abuse d girl. “Common sharrap dia!”
After my eye don clear, I realize say problem dey. I forget to wear Patrick im shower cap. I no know why na me dis kain tin dey always do. I tell Napo make she relax for house. I come go meet Credit where him dey sell chemist. When I reach, customer been plenty dia. I just waka cross the counter because Credit na my guy. I first greet am so dat dose people no go know say I come buy market. As I greet Credit finish, d idiot rush ask me.
“Guy, how d waka go na?”
“Waka go well but I need sontin,” I begin talk small small. “Wetin be d name of dat drug wey dem dey use commot belle?”
“Which one? Postinor?” The volume wey d bagger use call d name vex me. Na so I near am come pinch am for belle codedly.
“You want make everybody for area know say Crash Cos carry woman?” Credit squeeze face as d tin pain am wella.
“Na im make you wan wound me?” Him don get sense begin talk small small.
“Just give me d melecine joor.” Make dis guy no make me vex o.
“E don finish.” Him dey answer me as him dey waka go pick another drug wey customer ask for.
“You say wetin?” I nearly piss for body.
“E don finish. You no know say na ashewo girls full this area? Orile girls dey drink Postinor like Vitamin C.”
“Kaiiii! How I go do na?”
“I get another one.”
“Wetin b d name?” Credit sell d market wey e dey sell finish come face me.
“Which one be dat?”
“Na like Postinor but na different people make am.”
“E go work so?”
“E supoose work na. Trust your boy.”
I been trust the fool. My mind be say e go work.
But after like one month na im Kajeta call me dat yeye call:
“Hello, guy how far na?”
“Guuuuy! Yawa don gaaassssss o!”
“Ahn ahn. Wetin happen again?”
“Napodia don get belle!”
My prayer be say na Jolomi way wey dis one go go. Maybe she no really get belle or na another bobo plant am. But Kajeta never drop phone finish when my phone begin ring again.
“Oooooh! Kajeta na wetin again?”
“No oh. Na Credit.”
“Ah. Credit. Dis one wey you dey breathe fast fast, hope say you dey okay…”
“Ol boy no vex ehn, but somebody dey carry knife come find you for house.”
“Shooo! Who be dat?”
“I swear na force him force me to give am your address.”
“Oh. So na you give am my address?”
“How I for do na? Him been nearly make me swallow the knife first!”
“Ahn ahn… why dis person dey find me?”
“Hin dey find you kill because him say you spoil him life!”
“Whose life I spoil na? Who be dis person?” I never talk dat one finish when I hear wetin be like crase person outside my dommot.
GBA! GBA! GBA!
“OPEN DIS DOOR BEFORE I BREAK AM!!! OPEN DIS DOOR!!!!”
“Kajeta who be d person?!” Fear don dey catch me already. D person outside still dey shout:
“OPEN DIS DOOR!!! I WILL KILL YOU TODAY!!! BASTARD!” GBA! GBA! GBA! GBA! GBA!
Credit come answer me with bomb: “Crashito, na Napodia popsy o.”
As I dey hear the noise, I begin reason my next movement. Omo, na to fly window sure pass. I open curtain come jam thick thick burglary-proof…
Na god go punish my landlord!
I’m definitely making this into a song!
For a time my whole world was but perfect
It was shiny and bright. It was gold
Never thought I’d once be broken-hearted
This is ugly and dull: yes i know
And the smile I was once had, my old twinkle
and the way that i glowed in the dark
and the knowledge that love was so simple
seems a rocketed blast from the past
Can I drink lots of wine and sleep it all off
Can I laugh at a joke and forget for a day
Can I hope that you’ll snap out and suddenly call
Can I open my eyes and not watch it all
For a time I lived life how I dreamt it,
With no limits, a hug and a smile
But now someone is dearly departed
So I’ll shower for longer to cry
And I’ll sit and I’ll mope and I’ll never go out
I will grieve for eternity’s spring
Then I’ll weep and I’ll scream and i’ll tear my hair out
Cuz I know I’ll remain unfulfilled
Wish I could drink lots of wine and sleep it all off
Can I laugh at a joke and forget anyway
Can I hope that you’ll wake up and suddenly call
Can I open my eyes and not watch it all
So I went through the things that you left behind
Seeking answers and comfort and hope
Do I feel better? Am i suddenly fine?
The answer is always a ‘no’
And this wholesome soul is now incomplete
This body is drained of all fight
Wish I flip change time for exorbitant fees
A small price if it makes things alright
Because I can’t drink much wine: I’ll just throw up
And you told the jokes best anyway
And no one will wake up or reach out to call
So I’ll open my arms and try to fall
As I fade away