On #FreeAudu and a People’s Collective Hypocrisy


Hello everyone, you are welcome to my blog for 2017. Sorry, my first post for the year is coming this late, I have been busy (not a legit excuse but still, y’all have to cut me some slack). My first post on this blog for the year is up, and it is exactly just like the piece I rounded up 2016 with, the controversial issue of humanity versus the justice system. Hopefully, it achieves the kind of bang that 2017 deserves to start with. Read and enjoy.  

Over the weekend the news broke that Chocolate City boss Audu Maikori was taken into custody of the Department of State Services over a set of tweets he put out on the ongoing crisis in Southern Kaduna which were later proven to be false. The charge against him was falsifying information with the intention to incite. Maikori later apologized for the false tweets and the misinformation but the Governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai wasn’t having any of it and obtained a warrant for Maikori’s arrest. The arrest created a lot of consternation on social media, where Maikori has a large following due to his status as a public figure, with many of his followers rolling out hundreds of tweets with the #FreeAudu hashtag to support a man who “is being vilified  by a malevolent government out to silence prominent critics like him.” This, in turn, roused another side of social media who came out to point out that what Maikori did is a criminal offence under Nigerian law and he should be made to face the music, apologies or not.

In all honesty, Governor Nasir El-Rufai is hardly blameless in this matter. One can accuse him of a lot of things, things like chasing after a soft target like Audu Maikori instead of addressing a major ethnic issue in his state that keeps costing the lives and properties of innocent people, things like his hypocrisy and thin skin (in attacking Audu Maikori for a crime he himself may or may not have committed in the past) or something like making his government which had never had much goodwill with the citizens of the state by attempting to silence a contrary voice. However, one thing anyone cannot accuse him of is that he has violated the law in ordering Audu Maikori’s arrest. Audu Maikori is guilty of a crime under Nigerian law and should there should be made to face some sort of censure for it.

 One thing that we Nigerians tend to forget is that the reason the lady justice has a blindfold and a sword instead of a smile and a pack of diapers is to show that even though she is feminine and therefore can be merciful, she is also ruthless when the occasion calls for it. In other words, she might be female, but she is not your mommy and saying “I am sorry” (as Audu Maikori did) doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make the punishment you deserve to go away.  This issue is part of why our justice system remains toothless till today. We as people agree to laws, then we can’t be arsed to obey said laws and then we go ahead to label the people we ourselves gave the task of enforcing those laws as villainous dicks. As Nigerians, we need to realize that as much as we want our governments to be humane (being a democracy and everything), the primary reason for electing a government is for it to be effective, even if it has to step on people’s toes to do it. A government that refuses to do things like upholding the law because some people might be outraged is a government that neither achieves much or lasts long. (this is not a sub I swear).  The government like the justice system is simply not (and absolutely should not be) your mommy. It is why till date Babatunde Raji Fashola is still popular in his native Lagos, despite having used some “harsh” methods in achieving his aims when he was governor. As the anecdote goes “you simply can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.”

At the time of penning this, Audu Maikori has gained his freedom (and hopefully learnt a lesson or two about being more responsible with his celebrity status in future), but Nigeria will not develop if we citizens make it a habit of cheering criminals against our own elected government. Nigeria isn’t also going to develop if we, citizens keep calling the government hypocrites even when it is trying to uphold the law. I am no lawyer, but one of the few things I gained from being used as a sounding board for a certain student lawyer who was at the time trying to pass her bar exams is that “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.” Audu’s hands are far from clean on this matter, so why are people jumping to his defence just because they don’t like El-Rufai’s guts or how he is handling the Southern Kaduna matter, as if Southern Kaduna has anything to do with Audu Maikori (who should know better) deciding to be irresponsible because he feels he is a celebrity. Are the people then tweeting #FreeAudu not as hypocritical as the Nasir El-Rufai that they are condemning?

As Nigerians, we should not also make it a habit of conflating people with issues. We can condemn Nasir El-Rufai for his poor management of the Southern Kaduna crisis without condoning Audu Maikori’s lying and falsehood. While we are talking sins, If the Christian God was to judge, both Nasir El-Rufai and Audu Maikori would end up in hell, so why is one suddenly a hero and the other a bad guy. it doesn’t mean we are insensitive, it only means some of us realize that Nigeria has a lot of problems on her hands already and having people like Maikori cooking up stories will not help the situation, it will only worsen it. As much as we feel Nigeria owes us good leadership and the protection of our rights and freedoms as citizens, we as citizens also owe our governments the responsibility not to cheer law breakers  and to be responsible in our “social activism”

 

Let He Who Is Without Sin… On The MMM Crash And A People’s Collective Hypocrisy


Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

A few days ago the news broke that the popular Ponzi Scheme the Mavrodi Mondiale Moneybox has been frozen on account of more people requiring help than giving it out and thus the system becoming imbalanced. The news has allowed many of the scheme’s critics to have a field day laughing at the people who engaged in it and to all intents and purposes have now lost their money.

I am (and have always been) a vocal critic of the MMM scheme in particular and Ponzi schemes in general and I have one or two things to say about MMM now that it has crashed/been frozen. However this time to say those things is not now,  instead I will talk about a train of thought that I noticed on social media in the aftermath of the freezing of the MMM scheme. Of course, the trend didn’t start with MMM, it only became more glaring after MMM happened. I will describe the trend simply as the “The don’t judge so that you may not be judged” thought group. The members of this group are the people who came out to tell off those of us who pointed out that people who got their fingers burned because of greed and stupidity deserve no pity. The argument of the “Judge Not” group was that since us critics were not perfect ourselves, what right do we have to say someone is reaping the fruits of foolishness and excessive greed?

That brings me to the verses of the bible I quoted above. It is easy to see those people who brought the adulterous woman to be stoned as the bad guys in this story, because of our glee and amazement at the wisdom that Jesus Christ displayed to give them their comeuppance, it is easy to forget that the stoning was not an arbitrary decision. They were preparing to obey a law given to them by Moses who got it from God. Jesus Christ is technically the good guy in this story because he showed that God is a merciful God, who regards his creatures as precious, but he still technically perverted justice according to a law given by his own father.  If we argue that Jesus Christ did the good thing by showing mercy to the adulterous woman, are we not begging the question of why God choose to give that law in the first place if he and the people he gave it to feel it is harsh?

Some years ago when I was a young fresh out of secondary school teenager, I was reading through one of my sister’s law textbooks, when a picture of the Lady Justice drawn on its cover attracted my attention and inflamed my curiosity. I asked my sister, who was a third-year undergraduate at the time, why the Lady Justice looks like that, she told me many things, but the stuff that made the deepest impression on me was the sword in her hand which symbolizes her ability to punish transgressors and the blindfold on her eyes which is a symbol that she is no respecter of persons.  Thus even though we are always shouting for her to do her work, we don’t really like her very much when she isn’t partial to us. That explains part of the reason why when we think of lawyers and law enforcement agents, the first thing that comes to our minds is “asshole”.  The traffic officer who tows away your car because you parked in a clear No Parking zone, refusing to listen to your insistent pleas that you did it because you were late for a critical meeting and you couldn’t find a good parking spot is an asshole, just like the raging mob who tried to stone that adulterous woman, despite the fact that they are just people trying to enforce laws that everybody agreed are necessary and then can’t be bothered to obey. The truth that one can deduct from this is all of us are hypocrites who like our justice with a sharp sword but we don’t like her blindfold.

So how does all this tie with my discussion on MMM? I am coming to that. A few  Sundays ago someone on twitter mentioned that the pastor of his church said that participating in MMM is a sin of greed and covetousness which is unacceptable before God. The pastor was instantly attacked in absentia for playing God and judging people, despite the fact that the aforementioned pastor only merely stated an opinion that is in fact in the Bible. It seems that we like our Pastors when they bring out the good news of increase and prosperity from the scripture to give us, but we don’t like them so much when they bring out parts of the scriptures where God says he will punish us ruthlessly if we don’t desist from something we love doing.

No matter how much we try to show “humanity” and “feeling” and not try to judge people, there has to be a point where we must let people know that when they do something unacceptable, they deserve whatever punishment they receive for it, regardless of the reason why they did it. That is why we pay a particular set of people millions of naira a year to be law court judges and another kind of people a little less than millions of naira a year to be law enforcement agents. It is also the reasons why religious leaders who are regarded as men of great understanding in the knowledge of their Gods exist so that they can teach the followers what the respective deities like and what they don’t like. You can’t argue that a court judge can’t send you to prison for theft because he neglects his marital duties, or that a policeman can’t arrest you for murder because he also drinks alcohol, in the same vein you can’t argue that a pastor cannot condemn you  for covetousness because he also commits adultery. Those people are merely acting on a community’s contract which became binding on you when you became a member of that community. That is why God continued to send messages to the people of Israel through Moses despite the fact that Moses had anger management problems throughout his life and why David still continued to remain king of Israel despite committing just about every sin in the book.

The thesis of my argument today is this; accusing someone, who is merely quoting a statement in the holy book that guides his life, of condescension, is a sign that you are a hypocrite. When Jesus Christ made the “don’t judge, that you may not be judged” statement in Matthew 7:1 I am sure he did not mean it in the “don’t condemn people even when they are clearly doing something wrong” context or else there would be no reason for salvation and evangelism. It is an insight into why Nigeria’s justice system seems to not be working. We, Nigerians, want our justice to be a respecter of not just persons, but also of the state of finances of such persons. For example the notion that poor people should somehow be above censure because they are poor.  You may say that I am  talking this way because I am a risk averse slacker who has never been in a desperate situation all his life, but if we have to hush up a clear case of greed and avarice with, “you have no right to talk about it because you are not perfect yourself,”  then we really needto take a long hard look at ourselves.

Book Review: A Tiny Place Called Happiness-


A Tiny Place Called Happiness

Author: Bura Bari Nwilo

Country of Publication: Nigeria

Publisher: Fairchild Media

Year of Publication: 2016

Language: English

ISBN:      9789785283822

Pages :     117

 The reader will not doubt agree with Caine prize winner E.C Osondu who says that Bura Bari Nwilo “is a vibrant new voice in Nigerian literature.” Nwilo is the voice of the millennial. He is one of the voices of a generation full of energy, restlessness and impatience. He is part of a generation that has seen the wonders of technology and thus are full of hopes and dreams, a generation, which through its continuous access to information from all over the world, is able to develop rich and diverse experiences that enable them to reimagine their world, their place in it and by extension the way they write about it. They are a generation that is not afraid to experiment and do away with old literary traditions that no longer fit modern realities. The generation that is working hard to take literature out of its ivory tower to the streets.

In that respect, perhaps, A Tiny Place Called Happiness can draw some comparisons with Bunmi Familoni’s Smithereens of Death, Ayo Sogunro’s The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and Other Sorry Tales or with Nwachukwu Egbunike’s Blazing Moon (which is a work of poetry but can still be situated within that same tradition). But the work that A Tiny Place Called Happiness is most reminiscent of is Chuma Nwokolo’s 2013 How to Spell Naija collection. Both works share that same irreverence for  and inversion of  established social  norms and values, as well as the casual use of language. They also use the same storytelling style. Like the aforementioned collections of literary pieces A Tiny Place… has an urban feel to it, written for a population of Afropolitans who find themselves having to deal with the realities of an increasingly urbanized and digitized space.

The good thing therefore about the collection is that it is a piece of work that young urbane people like him will find extremely interesting to read. The stories are short, simple and straightforward. The setting is in the South South region of the country which seems to be the immediate reality of the writer. The characters are everyday people that the reader can see around themselves and into which the reader can immerse themselves, itinerant preachers, madmen, street traders, beggars, Houseboys, writer and all the assorted actors that can be found in an urban setting all make appearances. The themes are also varied yet are all focused on the problems that the youth urban dweller has to face daily, ranging from the of infidelity, to homosexuality, to madness to crime to itinerant street preaching. All the issues are tackled with the awareness of a writer who realizes correctly that the human experience is not one long coherent narrative, with heroes and villains, instead  it is  a vignette of  random diverse experiences where the reader has to draw the bones of each story out, flesh it out with their own experience and interprete it based on how it vibes with their own reality. As if to underscore that point, the writer uses the Third Person Omniscient narrator for most of the stories in the collection. It is an interesting narrative style and it gives the work the feel of an  observer who is learning from watching the world, but taking care not to flesh his story beyond what the readers need to situate the story within the framework of their own experience.

Even though the tone and style and length of the stories in the collection are similar to that of Chuma Nwokolo, a major point of difference between the two writers is that Nwilo’s style is a little more neutral and has does not  have the desire for societal behavioral change that often drives Nwokolo’s heavy-handed satire. Even when Nwilo criticizes, his style is more subtle. For example the non-committal caricaturing and dismissal of the eponymous preacher by the ‘I’ narrator in The Preacher (pg. 104) may be a sort of metaphorical explanation of how the writer sees himself in the society he is in, where he is being forced to conform to a convention that he has not much of an interest in. it is that tone of neutral, casual observation that pervades the atmosphere of the collection.

Unfortunately writing for a group of people who have little patience and a disdain for old literary traditions has its downsides as much as it has benefits. One of the weaknesses of the collection is that the writer casualness borders on neglecting his craft. As much as the writer is not allowed to invest too much of himself into the work so that it doesn’t look like an ego trip, the reader wants to see the writer invest some of himself in the work. If a storyteller, who the writer is in this case, seems disinterested in and casual about his own story, it is difficult to get any readers interested in it at all. There is the fear that because of Nwilo’s efforts to seem neutral and subtle, unlike some other writers in his genre, A Tiny Place Called Happiness will read from its beginning to its end in the same casual dull and flat monotone that allows the stories to just flash past the reader without having anyone of them being compelling enough to hold the reader’s attention. If indeed one agrees with Jumoke Verissimo, Author of I Am Memory, that “…his voice desires to try many things…” and that he is a “writer with many stories to tell” One can take it further that like a Jack of All Trades, this writer who desires to tell many stories, ends up telling far too many for the listener/reader to find any of them convincing enough, or worth listening to. The experienced reader can straight away see the incoherent excitement of a child trying to tell so many stories at once and ends up losing his audience because he cannot tie together the loose threads his conversation diverges into. The collection at certain feels like so much waffling around over nothing.  The immediate culprit that comes to mind is the subplot of Aanu in “A Day Gone Wrong” (Pg. 112) it could have been a fascinating story in itself, but it writer decided to drop it into the main thread abruptly and then terminated it abruptly again leaving the reader wondering why he put itin  in the first place. In World People (pg 78) the same thing happens with the writer starting out with a potentially interesting story about getting chicken pox, and then waffling into a story about sibling rivalry and family life that nobody wants to read.

Dialogue is the soul of every story, for any story to be truly called that, there must be conversations going on between the characters or if it is a stream of consciousness or  even a monologue, within or outside the character himself/herself. The dialogue must not just be ordinary either; it should be compelling and memorable for the reader to remember long after they have put down the book. The ability to write good dialogue is a skill that writers like Nwokolo uses to good effect.  Nwokolo understands how to deploy witty dialogue which means in stories like “The Sugar Mummy Contract” in his  How to Spell Naija Collection,(2013) there are no quotes and the reader can only see one character doing all of the talking, said reader can still see that a conversation is undoubtedly going on. Nwilo, on the other hand, decided to go the introspective, narrator’s thoughts route with little or no dialogue to be seen. It is not as if making all the stories come out of the narrators’ thoughts and reflections is bad, because writers with similar styles to him like Familoni, Sogunro, Egbunike, even Nwokolo also tend to use the same narrative style, but once you literally have your whole collection follow the pattern, the stories begin to acquire the dull, soulless  monotony and the one-dimensionality of  only seeing the story from a narrator’s limited  point of view. Even where he does attempt to infuse some dialogue in some of the stories in the collection, they are  far from compelling and falls flat. A classic case being in Port Harcourt (pg.10.)

In the fashion of any story told, this story is far from perfect in its manner of telling, but the storyteller has shown to have the imagination to be able to tell a story that his listeners can enjoy. At the moment the listener can agree that at this point in his literary soujourn, Nwilo is still turning the stories over in his mind. Perhaps in time, like the child in the title story of the collection, A Tiny Place Called Happiness (Pg. 95) He will learn to open his mouth and his mind and tell the stories to another. Then his journey as a writer and storyteller will be complete.

 

Don’t Panic: Perspectives of a Nigerian on Donald Trump’s Election Win


Hello, people, Donald Trump is the new President-elect of the United States of America.

There is absolutely nothing new about this information of course, because unless you are like Fred the starfish in Spongebob Squarepants who lives under a rock or you live in a galaxy far away, it is information that has literally come alive and is flapping and droning around you like an annoying mosquito you can’t kill.

As a Nigerian, I have got a lot of “why do you people care about who wins the elections anyway, It is not like he is going to be your president or something?”  I agree with that sentiment, but  in these days of globalization, in which if one nation sneezes, everybody else has to  start looking for medicine to cure their cold, I should be bothered about the person who is most likely to press the red button to  nuke my country if they get elected (That’s what they do right? I don’t know. All the knowledge I have comes from watching American films).  If I could vote in the American elections of course, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton, so needless to say I am all shades of shocked and baffled that Americans, whom we have been relentlessly told that they will never accept any bullshit or “anyhowness” can elect Donald Trump, a human Linda Ikeji’s blog, as their president. So if like me you are horrified that Donald Trump can even win any election at all not to talk of the “land of the free” here is a little something adapted from an article titled Don’t Panic  by one of my best writers of all time, David Wong of Cracked.com

 Today’s piece is not really about Trump himself.  It is  the fact that in the course of following the groundswell of opinions from American and non-American media alike I have come to realize that there is an emerging trend. That trend is of concern to me as a Nigerian because it draws some similarities with the elections of the president of my own country Muhammadu Buhari.  The elections of Buhari against the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and the victory of Trump over the incumbent backed Hillary Clinton are in a way a victory of the outsider over the establishment, a stone thrown into the Ivory tower of the elite, forcing them to look out of their expensive tainted glass window at the dissatisfied people who are outside clamouring to be listened to. Trump is the message written in bright bold letters by the “masses” that they will no longer be ignored.

 However the fact that a lying, sexist , blowhard  like Donald Trump benefitted from that process is what makes me sick to my stomach and for the first time I felt that feeling that Jonathanians felt in 2015, that feeling of having your  favourite candidate at the polls, the one you have made plenty of enemies for, get beaten by a “far less qualified” candidate (I won’t still have voted for Jonathan though, not in that election or any other). That feeling of uncertainty where you feel that an unpredictable man of unknown temperament has hijacked the process and the situation of the country has now become like a keg of gunpowder with the tiniest fireball could ignite. It is that feeling of seeing that genteel, suave, rich man up your street whom you used to wish was your father, stumbling down the street, drunk and reeking of alcohol, piss and vomit. It is a feeling that makes you wonder what is wrong with the world and why people are so stupid. It is a feeling that makes you curl up in a fetal position and wish a nuclear fireball could just destroy the world.

But in the midst of the bleakness and all the doom and gloom, don’t panic.

“What is the value of running a democracy if it can be perverted for stuff like Brexit, Buhari and Trump to win elections?”  Someone asked in the aftermath of the US elections. While someone who thinks Muhammadu Buhari is in any way similar to Donald Trump is not someone I want to waste my time discussing politics with. Ironic as it may seem, however, the Trump election, the Buhari election and the Brexit vote are all examples of real democracy in action. For the first time in a long while, the masses are making their voices heard, governments are learning that they cannot afford to allow themselves to be cocooned in their world of big corporation endorsements and celebrity media blitz. They now know that there is a world beyond that seen on traditional and social media and they will pay attention to that world, because they know that the little people who supported them against the establishment candidate may vote them out again. I have already made this point in this piece about how regardless of how he performs, Muhammadu Buhari might find himself out of a job in 2019 because Nigerians now have itchy trigger fingers and would not hesitate to use it. The Democratic government, oblivious in its ivory tower, believed that some things, such as a Trump election win, were impossible, now Governments will put measures in place to satisfy the masses to ensure that the masses never get angry enough to do such protest voting  again.

Don’t panic

One of the reasons that Goodluck Jonathan lost in 2015, was that as Akin Osuntokun, Emeritus Professor of History and former Nigerian Ambassador to Germany put it in a recent lecture that He delivered recently at DAWN Commission: “He thought that  the Southwest was a no man’s land because of how welcoming the region was to  him when he participated in the NYSC scheme there. He believed that he could spend four years marginalizing the region then still think they will vote for him for another four anyway” . He learned the truth the hard way. Under Buhari, the South East and the South South are also restive because they think the President is marginalizing them because they didn’t vote for him in 2015. I believe he will do more for the South East and the South South than his predecessor did for the Northeast, the Northwest and the Southwest or else he will find himself out of a job in 2019 anyway. For so long the Democrats and their supporters treated the Trump voter base as caricatures to  laugh at instead of actual people to be listened to. Governments are now learning the hard way that you cannot afford to dismiss the concerns of any group of people under you anymore. That might be the way to achieve all-inclusive governance and ensure that no group major or minor is left behind. It will take a long time before marginalization and discrimination to go away, but if it is going to take a few Donald Trumps to make the point for inclusiveness, then so be it.

Don’t panic

Instead start to reach out to fellow members of the electorate.it is no longer time to treat the people who don’t have the same political opinions like you, like retarded children  Let us form pressure groups and start to outline progressive agendas. This is not the time to start fighting along party lines or regional lines; we may not agree of how Buhari is ruling Nigeria, but we can still turn up the heat on the leaders together. We can fight for women’s rights, transparency in governance, rights of minorities, resource control and a positive educational development policy. Let us start pushing, they are listening now because they know what might happen if they don’t.  We can curl up in a fetal ball and hope that a nuclear fireball destroys Nigeria, or we can rise up and start believing we can change stuff we don’t like. But we should realize that as David Wong puts it in the beautiful article I adapted “the future is waiting for what we will do next, let’s get to it”

But then the Supreme Overlord Donald Trump could just press the red button and render the point of this whole exercise moot.

On Hoes, Role Models and Crusaders


 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The Gospel of St John 8:1-10 (the NIV Bible)

screenshot_2016-10-05-14-26-36

This post should have come way earlier, precisely as an instant reply to Nigerian former  popular music act and now techpreneur Lanre “ELDee the Don” Dabiri’s rant about popular American entertainer Amber Rose’s Slutwalk, a show which she claims to be using to raise awareness about body shaming, rape and other issues about women and gender relations. However, I decided to calm down a bit so that I could get some perspective on the whole story. Thus the furious rant I intended to unleash against El Dee myself has ebbed away a bit, so I have decided to make the post a little bit more general. I will still throw some fire the Don’s way though, because he was the one who made me write it the first place.

 My problem with Eldee is not exactly the fact that he is angry with Amber Rose or Slutwalk, to be fair I understand his need to rant as a man brought up in the strict, narrow, way of the lord and “father to two daughters.” To be honest myself, I know who Amber Rose is, but I didn’t even know she had something going called Slutwalk. Even if I had come across it before, I didn’t find it worth following until Eldee brought it up. This is where my problem with Eldee starts. The kind of tweets coming from him about the show, betrays the fact that he was either watching it live or following it live in some other manner, which begs the question of why for all his sanctimoniousness and his concern for his daughters, he should be watching that kind of  TV show in the first place. What Eldee did reminds me of the story of Brother John who went to the pastor of his church and said “Sir, I saw your daughter in the club last night.” whereupon the pastor asked him “Brother John what were you doing in the club yourself if you saw my daughter there?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem I have with former entertainers who claim to have left their past in the limelight of the entertainment industry behind and now live a reformed life. They all think because they have seen both worlds, they can come and spout opinions about how everything is black and white, in an area which is a grey area at best, to the rest of us, and they think we will not challenge them. Stay with me and I will explain what I mean

 If I ever met the Don, I would like to ask him one question and the question goes thus: Is the late Afrobeat Legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti fit to be a role model? You might wish to think very well before you answer this, because Fela was a man who took non-conformity and made it an art form, He was a man who once reportedly married eight women in a single ceremony, who reportedly could not any decent amount of time without being high on some drug and who died of AIDS. I could go on but I think you get what I mean. Yet he was also a man who put Nigerian music on the world map and was a thorn in the flesh of Nigeria’s military leaders. Fela fought tyranny with his music, making him one of Nigeria’s greatest human rights activists. I mentioned Fela because every mainstream Nigerian music act including Eldee himself idolizes Fela. My own answer is this, I don’t like Fela’s personal life but I think he is a hero/ role model because of his good music and the non-conformity which formed the basis of his human rights activism.

That is why I am really angry about Mr. Dabiri’s mealy-mouthed condemnation of Amber Rose as a role model. Amber Rose might not have achieved fame in the way the rest of us would approve, but she is using that fame to raise some awareness about a critical issue in her own way. So again what makes Fela whom you approve, different from Amber Rose whom you don’t? So does good music excuse a “morally decadent” lifestyle or are you just sexist?

screenshot_2016-10-05-14-27-22

I was really happy when people called him out for his hypocrisy by recalling some of the things he also when he was “in the Nigerian music industry.” However what made me really enjoy the whole exchange was the fact that his supporters kept saying people should talk about the message and not the messenger. The question is: wasn’t he doing the same shooting the messenger and not the message thing about Amber Rose and Slutwalk without understanding what the thing is about? I took the time to look up the Slutwalk that was getting Mr. Dabiri’s knickers in a twist so much  and I found this:

The Amber Rose SlutWalk Festival is a completely inclusive space. This event will have a zero tolerance policy on all hateful language, racism, sexism, ableism, fat-shaming, transphobia or any other kind of bigotry. Further, we recognize that shaming, oppression, assault and violence have disproportionately impacted marginalized groups, including women of color, transgender people and sex workers, and thus we are actively working to center these groups in this event.”

Frankly speaking, I can’t see anything wrong with this kind of initiative. Couldn’t Eldee simply have looked it up before he started mouthing off on twitter or is he just as willfully ignorant as he is sexist? I argued in this piece that entertainers are society’s side shows, what Eldee did and the resulting fire he came under, is what happens when they start thinking they should be society’s voices of reason.

I wouldn’t even have bothered myself about this issue or even taken Eldee’s side if  Eldee himself didn’t then go ahead to mention Lupita Nyongo? Like seriously, Amber Rose is a “hoe” and Lupita Nyongo is a role model? E-sir is your logic related to Julius Agahowa? Because that is some serious somersaults it did right there. It is okay if you don’t like Amber Rose. Many of us don’t either. Just admit like the rest of us that you don’t like her and stop thinking you are a voice of reason because you suck at it.

Back to the quote I started this piece with, I like to think , that Jesus Christ, unlike Eldee, understood the fact that things are not always as they seem, and that we are humans and far from perfect. Mahatma Gandhi is a hero of India’s freedom but he also a sexual predator who destroyed the life of countless young women. Nelson Mandela was a hero of South Africa’s freedom, but during his active years he was the leader of a violent guerilla faction of the ANC and Martin Luther King Jr of the I have a dream fame  cheated on his wife. Thus even if Amber Rose is a “hoe,” she is using her fame as a hoe to do something positive and raise awareness on a social problem the way she knows how to do so. So why won’t mere grumpy bots who think  they are voices of reason just shut up and mind their own business. I guess it is really true what they say that “it is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” And to think such inanity can come from someone like Eldee, who hitherto had been doing a marvelous job of keeping his trap shut, is, frankly speaking, disappointing

Well before you ask me what right I have to write this, I know I am just a cynical, underpaid writer who at nearly thirty is yet to figure out what to do with his life.  However, I also know what I know, I know what I don’t know, and I certainly know when a grumpy bot  thinks he can use the fact that he is a celeb to use Eba to eat all of my soup right in my presence.

On Old Age, Omnipotence and Holding One’s own Counsel


On Sunday in my Church, a baby was dedicated. After the service a group of us members of the congregation of varying ages (but none older than 40) stood together bantering and munching the cake that mother of the dedicated baby had brought to mark the occasion. The subject that dominated our discussion was children and babies and we were having fun ribbing one another.  One of us, a man, said to another, a woman who with two small children: “God is seeing twins in your future” to which the woman replied “If I hear, This shop has closed, and there is no opening it again” Then somebody else replied “Haba! Why are you not claiming the blessings of God? Did God not tell Abraham to be fruitful and multiply?” To which the woman retorted “Abeg! When God made that declaration, Buhari had not yet plunged the Nigerian economy into recession.” That gave us a good laugh.

That reminded me of when my siblings and I were teenagers and my paternal grandmother (who died in 2013) used to visit us. We looked forward to these visits because grandma was a storyteller and could be counted on to bring new gist all the time. Her favourite stories to tell always start with the words “If you ever get a girl pregnant or a man gets you pregnant,  please no abortions, bring the baby, I can take care of it.” What would follow will be the story of the latest naming ceremony she attended, usually that of  a sixteen year old boy who got a fourteen year old girl  pregnant . Of course at the time we were still a bunch of teenagers. so we found the stories hilarious and ribbed ourselves mercilessly about them. 

 As I grew into my twenties and understood more about social issues, I started to wonder why my Grandma saw teenage pregnancy as something to be happy about instead of the social problem that it really is. At first I chalked it up to the fact that since she didn’t have much education, she didn’t fill her heads with the newfangled ideas about girl child education and all that. It was when I grew even older that I came to understand that her outlook was not a matter of education, it was a matter of values. My Grandma married my grandpa at eighteen and gave birth to her first son (my Dad) a year later. So being a teenage mother herself (albeit an older one) at a time where nobody batted an eyelid about it, teenage pregnancy apparently didn’t make the same impression on her that it does on my parents and on our own generation.

What brought about the story about my grandma was the recent sermon that the General Overseer of Christ Embassy Pastor Chris Oyakhilome gave on marriage and how women were supposed to behave in it. This in turn brought back the memory of the not so recent marriage seminar that the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Pastor E.A Adeboye gave on marriage and how women were supposed to behave in it. Perhaps it is the many books I have read that have turned me into a rebel, but I think that we, young people of nowadays, should be careful about taking marriage advice from 1.) A divorcee,  and (2.) A seventy year old man who didn’t have the exchange rate at 430 naira to 1 dollar when he was growing up, and the economy wasn’t in a recession when he got married. 

I am a Christian; I dare not disrespect the anointing of God upon the lives of his servants, and I agree with the bible that the wisdom of old people is in their grey hair. However let us look at it this way. At eighteen the age my grandma was labouring to bring my father to this world; my elder sister was busy labouring to pass her first year exams as a law student in Obafemi Awolowo University. If she managed to get pregnant at that time, to say that Dad would have murdered her would be exaggerating a bit, but he certainly wouldn’t have rolled out the red carpet to congratulate her, that is for sure. What changed? Everything. 

     I am not saying that we should all rise up and start denouncing the two aforementioned pastors as malicious liars and agents of the devil. I am also not saying  that you should not go to their respective churches anymore.  I am just trying to say that the fact that someone is old and has spent X number of years on earth/in the ministry does not guarantee that every single word that comes out of their mouth is good advice that you can always use. Like the example of my grandmother above, old/experienced people don’t intend to be malicious, it is just that the values they grew up to see as the norm have changed. That is why most African fathers become as meek as Jesus Christ when they are trying to learn how to use a smartphone. Again, another way of explaining this, though I never got to meet my paternal grandfather so I can’t confirm it. My Dad never mentions it either However some of my interactions with my grandma confirmed that my grandfather would not likely have given his full approval to my father marrying an educated woman like my mom (it was an age when most men thought it was a waste to send girls to school, and that the more educated a woman is the less likelier she is to respect her husband, so no blaming him). However if he was alive today, would he have approved what my mom has done with his son? I bet he would. 

     I believe old people are the custodians of culture and norms and values .I also believe that the reason why God sent individual tongues of fire to all the people in the Upper room in the book of Acts of the Apostles, was precisely so that the people wouldn’t do things simply because a grizzled man who has spent fifty years  pastoring/living life said so. 

It is the part of the reason why I tend to support the alternative opinions (feminism, LGBTQ issues etc). I just  get irritated when people who support the majority opinions  are questioned and they give the snarky “that is what our fathers used to do” or “it is our culture.” Teenage marriage was once a norm, so was Polygamy. People like both my grandfathers will tell you that Polygamy   is okay, but is it really practical to be Polygamous in this economy where the price of petrol just rises  without any warning, and a bag of Rice is now between fifteen and twenty two thousand naira? 

   Culture is never set in stone, at any rate we as a people are not as averse to setting aside culture for practicality anyway. So why do we hide under the guise of culture and old age/experience when it is time to answer the difficult questions?  

Again I am not saying that God didnt know what he was doing when he gave the command in exodus 20:12, I am just saying that I just don’t have to  take every word someone says as the gospel just because he is older than I am, or he is a pastor. At any rate what I read from the bible is that on judgment day God wont call the same old pastor I am expected to listen to account for my sins. So there is that.

   

On Cooking, Manhood, and this thing called Feminism


The thoughts that are contained within this here piece have been threatening to burst out ever since someone posted that video of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.O. Adeboye where he talked about what makes people marriageable. However, I didn’t find an outlet to channel it through until someone started a conversation on twitter last week  by asking tweeps how long their sexual intercourse sessions lasted. The replies were interesting, with tweeps  reporting  sessions ranging from as short as five minutes to as long as one and a half hours.

The thread made me remember when I was in secondary school. That time my younger friends and I had older colleagues and classmates who used to tell us about their sexcapades. I remember clearly listen to one tell us that he once had sex with a girl for three straight hours. Of course like the naive kids that we were, we lapped up the  information. These days that we know more about this sex thing and the human anatomy (make of that what you will),  I have come to realize that a lot of the stories that struck us with awe might just have been embellished. This leads me to ask the question Why do men often feel the need to embellish their sex stories?

That again reminds of a story a friend told me about a lady he had sex with one time. Even though it has been five years since he told me that story it still makes me laugh when I remember it. They had gone two rounds and my friend said he had expelled all his energy and was left completely drained. The girl went “is that the best you can do? I am barely feeling anything” My friend said “well sorry about that, but I don’t have the energy to go any further than this.” He promptly stood up got dressed and left the room. My friend concluded that the  girl spread the news about him among her friends, but he didn’t even care about that one bit and that it was the last time he ever went near her. If only all men were that refreshingly honest.

The discussion today is not about sex per se, all the sex talk was just leading somewhere. What it is about is the tendency of us young men to whip out our dicks and measure them. This is not to be taken  literally of course, but in terms of us jumping out all guns blazing to confront real and imagined assaults on our masculinity.

When the issue of cooking versus not cooking came up on social media the other day, and some “feminists” tried to explain that it is wrong to define a woman by whether she cooks or not, a lot of men raised reasoned arguments against them, but most of the men who joined in the conversation just put out snarky lines like  “You will not find a man to marry you, if you can’t cook”, “some of these feminists slave for their husbands and boyfriends and they come here to form twitter standards,” and so on. It was in the midst of the testosterone-fuelled snarkiness that someone went and dug up that Daddy G.O video that supports the notion that women must learn to cook or else…

A few days ago again, another issue, that of just how much a man should earn before a woman should marry him, came up. It started with a self-styled men rights activist jumping on the tweets of a lady in Canada  who was just tweeting at random and getting his male followers to harass her about how she is not a wife material and nobody will marry her, and how she is in Canada on a student visa and she would soon be forced to return to Nigeria. All this harassment just because a woman made her choices known.

I am not arguing that you can’t have your standards as to who you want to marry or be friends with, but replying  “You will not find a man to marry you” and “it’s all for show anyway”  in reply to legitimate questions of women being allowed to make  their own choices as men do,  reeks of small-minded arrogance. As men, if we (I am also included) cannot reasonable ways of maintaining control beyond the “I will not marry you” narrative it means we have a serious problem. Okay, so you will not marry her? And then what? The size of her breasts will reduce? Or she will not make heaven? Or she will die?

I was reading the other day when I got a flash of insight on the issue of prostitution. The reason why prostitution and all variants of it  are scorned is not the fact that the people who engage in it are making money, it is because the women who engage in it are independent women who get to make choices about who they want to give their bodies to. We may couch our beliefs in the cloak of whatever belief systems we want, but the underlying truth is that if we snark ” I cannot marry you.” or “You will not find a man to marry you.” in their faces they will just laugh back in our faces “who cares” and continue fucking whoever they want and making their money. That makes us men (mostly) really angry.

Again I am not saying we should all support prostitution, or not have our standards. However, there is a limit to how much you can snark at and threaten people regardless of gender before they tell you to go fuck yourself. It is not just a man vs woman thing, it is the same issue with Christians and unbelievers.For so long we (men) have just assumed we are the more superior species and any attempts for the female gender for self-defense determination is met with needless testosterone-fuelled aggression.  An older married friend once told me “the world has changed.  Everybody regardless of gender has realized that  they can now make their own choices about their lives. The era of the man thinking he gets to make all the choices because he has the dick is over,so if you hope to marry, you better pray for a woman whose choices match yours or else even your dick will not save you from getting seriously fucked.”

If a lady says she wants to marry a man that earns a million naira a month or she won’t cook for her husband. It is not your business to harass or snark at her. It is ultimately her choice and you are going to look as silly as hell when she manages to achieve it. The principle still stands that “if you want something badly enough and you are willing to do everything to achieve it, the universe will get it for you.” does the Universe care whether you have a penis or a vagina? I think not. The truth is that we as men will get to point where like my friend we will have to admit “I don’t think I have the power for this, maybe we should just cut this pair of  trousers into shorts, so that we can both wear it, and quit arguing about who should wear the trousers.”

When I was younger, I was scared to ask out girls because I felt rejection would mean I am not man enough. Now that I am older and I have now realized that a woman saying she doesn’t like me is her choice and doesn’t reduce the size of my penis one bit ( yeah I check after each one, and run along now you perv, there is nothing to see here). It helps me sleep better at night and the doctor says it will extend my lifespan. Besides, when God sent me into the world, he didn’t send me to be anybody’s minder. So there’s that.

Thanks to @subomiplumptre for allowing me to use screenshots of her tweets, and for providing some inspiration for this piece