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Month: August, 2015

Summer Blues: Life is a beach

Beautiful. I just read it. To the end. Believe me. It’s beautiful.

Pa Ikhide

(First published in Next Newspapers, March 7, 2009)


I miss my wife. She is gone home to Africa to laugh with her sisters until her sides hurt, to eat mangoes until her teeth ache; and to dine on suya and sad stories until her stomach churns with the stress of too much food and information.


The children and I miss our mother and wife. The house is not the same without her. In her absence our spirits lose their nerves and their will. Maybe the ocean will help.


We will go to the ocean to play in the waters. Well, my children will play in the waters and I will stare at the sea until Africa waves back at me. So we are headed to the seaside, to the Atlantic Ocean, to feel Africa.


Dawn on the road in America. We are headed to the beach…

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The King’s Death

Ooni-of-Ile-Ife Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II

Ooni-of-Ile-Ife Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II

Lets finish before we start: This King Did Not Die Well. We all are aware how the death of Ooni of Ile-Ife was announced. I read about it on Facebook, updated by Sun Newspaper, then I stumbled on it on Sahara Reporters. By then, the news was unstoppable, it was everywhere. It was a breaking news, the sensation was not left out, it boldly read: Ooni of Ile-Ife Is Dead! Another read: Ooni Dies at 85. Then came the boroje-part of the breaking news: Ooni of Ile-Ile Dies in London! I was scandalized. On two separate levels.

The announcement of the King’s demise was wrongly worded. A Yoruba king does not die, he joins his ancestors. That much was missing in the breaking news. All outlets that broadcast the badnews worded it wrongly. His “death” was announced as though a commoner died. Still at a loss at this news with disregard for the King’s departure, the disclosure that the King’s port of departure happened in a strange land was a pill too bitter to swallow.

However, both news were helpful to resolving, particularly the disregard for culture consideration in the choice of words to break the King’s departure (death) out of this the world. Dying in a strange space would allow even stranger things. At that point, I gbakamu (gave up protesting). It was the deathplace that allowed this strangeness in the first instance.

Of course, one’s choice of deathplace is not often choosable, but not in this case; going for medical treatment or for whatever reason the 85 year old monarch embarked on a 6000 kilometer journey to London, the possibility of a breakdown/death must have been factored in. So, the palace was not unaware the King might die. At that age, the body is hardly able to withstand intercontinental flight. Not even sitting for too long in a position, at least for those blessed with relative good health for that age.

The King died in London, UK

The King died in London, UK

Two examples to butress this fact: The former Alake of Egbaland died almost immediately after his 90th birthday, his death was not unconnected to having sat for too long in a church pew when his birthday was being celebrated. Second, Pope Benedict XVI retired his papacy citing health reasons and old age. Both examples were of the age bracket of the departed Ooni of Ile-Ife.

So, what is the point? There are enough examples/reasons for the King to not have travelled at all, even if just for the fact that he might die. It is simply unacceptable culturally for a king the status of Ooni of Ile-Ife to die where he died. If had died at home, his death would have been announced as worthy of a king. There would have been no need to unconfirm, to later confirm, that the King is “dead” indeed. The theater would have been spared. Unfortunately, the King, with this kind of deathplace, practically left one openmouthed. Oropesije.

Controversy about the King's death

Controversy about the King’s death

To have died a miserable death is to die in a place where one’s clothes/wardrobe are/is not. This is exactly what happened to the Ooni of Ile-Ife, Olubuse II.

Returning to the purpose of the King’s visit in the United Kingdom: Medical attention. This sheds light on the condition of hospitals back home in His Ile-Ife kingdom. It is not out of place to compare Ooni of Ile-Ile to the Queen of England, to a certain extent. The imagery is this: How unheard of would it be for the Queen to fly outside the Crown’s territories to be treated?! Unfortunately, our Yoruba King of kings went on this unthinkable journey. I do not know how badly sick the King was prior to the trip to the UK, of relevance in this consideration are those times when the King was young, full of life, wealthy and influential.

News has it that the Ooni of Ile-Ife, Olubuse II was already a wealthy man before he ascended the throne. I believe this news immediately. We all know in Yorubaland, the richest cum most influential bidder is often times the right bidder for kingship positions. So, upon becoming king, His wealth could only have increased. His influence definitely became so strong after he was elevated to being the permanent chairman of all kings in Yorubaland. Olubuse II weilded a political influence only few could boast of in Yorubaland. Sadly however, he never for once thought of building a hospital good enough to treat His own ailments. And if he could not build one, he could at least have influenced one to be built, so that at a time when he had to be treated, He would not have to be moved out of His kingdom. From this perspective, one can say without a bad conscience that the King forced the shame which befell His office upon it, for He died in the open, a commoner’s death, when He could have died at home a King. One xan only wish He built a hospital, financed by his money or influence or both. He did not.

Another Yoruba proverb might explain the King’s decision to not cater for His own death(place) beforehand. It goes thus: Panpa para e oni oun npa aja. Like the tick, who thinks only the dog is being sucked to death, the tick will in the end suck himself to a sure death. If for this or that reason, Olubuse II felt providing for his own people a well-deserved health clinics is out of his prerogative, well, he was caught in His own refusal to cater for the people over whom he ruled. His death in a strange land was avoidable but choosable. He did the latter.

Mourning we must mourn, because our King is dead. Yes, I mourn, not His death alone, I mourn because This King Did Not Die Well, He died where He ought not to have died.

FacebookUpdate (FUp): The Philosophy of Awomoju by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed. An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed.
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

If you have been dreaming that one day you will wake up and see ex- President Jonathan clobbered with manacles round his wrists, you better wake up now. Stop daydreaming. It won’t just happen. That possibility is at best a tall order in a military regime and at worst utopic in a civilian administration. Mind you I deliberately refuse to use democracy because the latter in its truest and uptimal form is in itself another utopia.

Yesterday, I read Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, my Facebook teacher’s latest treatise in her weekly Tuesday Premium Time column where she posited that whereas Jonathan’s minions should be prosecuted and sent to jail if found culpable, he should be spared of any humiliation but at most be made to return his loots. Courtesy of a successful election cum a peaceful transition.

Again this morning my most  Respected Bishop Matthew of the Sokoto diocese was on Channels TV Sunrise daily. Mind you, this man, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Cardinal Onaiyekan and recently Father Mbaka  are the clerics that have my ears and heart when it gets to Nigeria’s issues. So, Kukah again underpinned Mummy GO’s position. Courtesy of this same historical display of sportsmanship and statesmanship on the part of the man from Otuoke.

I remember sometimes in February while having our regular banter with my colleagues in our school canteen in Riyad, I posited that it a person gets to a point on the ladder of leadership that s\he becomes an untouchable. An awomoju. Like it or not. Believe it or not.

That “all animals are equal but some are more equal than the others” is real.

This universal aphorism will not be an exception in Jonathan’s case.

It may not be an ideal thing but that is the reality. That is the norm. The World over.

That is why a people must be careful in their selection or election of leaders at the helms of their national affairs. Reason being that the Prerogative of mercy or clemency or amnesty that a leader exercises over his or her ‘subjects’ (the governed is ideal here) will later turn to his or her benefit. Out of office, s/he in turn becomes a beneficiary of public clemency and amojukuro. Like it or not. Accept it or not.

Let me draw some parallels in our recent history.

Ivory Coast. Over three thousand Ivorians lost their lives within few months as a result of Gbagbo’s obduracy to vacate power when he lost fair and square the 2010 Presidential election. His main challenger, Alassane Ouattara, agreed to a negotiated soft landing with him which included amnesty from prosecution,  full honour and prerogatives as a former Head of State as well as choosing any country in the world where he will like to retire to. Angola and South Africa were ready to receive him on their shore. He bluntly refused and fought to the last man standing. Today he is at the ICC. The story will have been different had he yielded to the sybaritic proposals.

Just like how President Abdallah Saleh of Yemen case’s was different. Just like how Ben Ali of Tunisia was different. Just like how Houssein Mubaraq case would have been much different had he succumbed and left Egypt on time.

Where are the George Bush of this world with his atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq? Where are the Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu of this world with their constant carnages in Palestine?

 Don’t be surprised,  if Bashar Al- Assad  of Syria and Omar Bashir of Sudan negotiate their ways and relinquish power tomorrow, nothing will happen. All their hitherto crimes become ajemonu and they become awomoju.

Unfortunately, that is the reality of our world.

Even in the Quran,  Allah sent Musa (Moses) and his brother Aaron to Pharaoh to invite him to His obedience and sermonise him in the best and gentlest of manners. Had Pharaoh yielded, he would have been forgiven and spared of the perdition of the Red Sea.

Similar occurrences abound in history. Both recent and distant.

Jonathan’s case will surely not be different. The highest we will get is the return of some his loots and maybe coupled with the incarceration of some of his minions.

And that is all.

And even at that,  given the porosity of our anti graft laws and the criminal leniency of some of our judges, the most determined political  will on the part of President Buhari alone may just not be enough to handle this lower  bunch of avid kleptomaniacs talk less of the Ogas at the top. Our ex-Presidents.

Let the reality dawn on us.

Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen – and sordid tales

Pa Ikhide

Chigozie Obioma’s debut work of fiction, The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma’s is a work of muscular industry and prodigy, and it is also an incredibly frustrating book, more on that later.  Obioma is one powerful storyteller. In this book, things fall apart in the worst possible way, over and over again for a Nigerian family of eight, with the first four sons the chief protagonists in this story from hell. This unusual book documents the family’s free fall into one grim tragedy after the other. This family is a country song, a sad country song.  The Fishermen is a powerful and tragic coming of age book and Obioma writes as if he is looking through hell’s windows. As an aside, Obioma is incredibly well-read, his vocabulary is intimidating; that alone is enough reason to buy the book, your SAT scores will soar.

The book is a tightly woven six-pack abs…

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Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): Motivational Speaker, No Teach Me Nonsense!

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

So, a few years ago, my cousin and I started a business, we were not expecting to be overnight billionaires but we had hoped to make money from the business at least a little something. So we started our business – executive fish farming. We formed an alliance that seemed good, he gave the money to start off; I gave the capital for day to day running . On paper and fueled by a high flow of youthful Adrenalin, we were going to be quoted on the stock exchange in no time.

Signs of failure started emerging when I could not meet up with the day to day running because I had under-estimated the cost of feed. I based my assumptions on one of those books I read. Worse things were to come. I managed to grow some of the fish but the buyers seemed to have colluded to run every fish farmer out of business. But it was not just the buyers, it was actually the government. Grapevine had it that frozen Thai catfish were imported and Uncle Aregbe in Osun was also through one of his programmes producing fish. It also boiled down to BAD GOVERNMENT.

Why did I foreground my piece with so long an epistle?

This is one of the types of stories your average motivational speaker wouldn’t tell you when he spurs you on to go make it, when he tells you about the lad he knows who has two jeeps from just following his passion. Or when he takes you through the Mrs. Alakija’s school of becoming a billionaire through fashion designing. He forgets to hint that Mrs Alakija sewed for the high and mighty. Once a very good friend showed me an article by one of them, the speaker was angry at the youths, very angry, he abused us and in his narcissistic ego masturbation he encouraged us to do something with our lives instead of talking about politics or soccer. Interestingly, our self-styled motivator however exposed his ignorance by enjoining us to do businesses like snail-rearing which he claims cost nothing. You see, I love agriculture and I know one or two things about animal rearing, and from experience, it is absolutely not possible to earn anything from snail-farming in the first 18 months. As our fathers say, ‘roasted dogmeat is delicious but what do we eat between the many hours when we set the dogmeat on fire and when it’s being roasted and ready to be eaten?  So, what happens within the 18months? Feed on oxygen to survive?

It becomes worse when they encourage the government to abdicate its responsibilities and summon that American president’s quote of “not asking what your government can do for you.”

Anyways, as for me, I will ask my government what it can do for me, since up till now it has not done much. And please, in case you know one of these far-torn-from-reality motivational speakers, tell them never to compare us to youth in other countries. It is (was) easier for Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to do what they did because their government gave them the platform. I know a lot of Nigerian computer guys that can compete with Zuckerberg. Walahi, I am not lying, but they may never develop something like Facebook, Windows, Apple etc because Uncle Bolaji will not loan them money as they lent Steve Jobs and friend. NEPA will not bring light. MTN will thief your bundle before you finish browsing and Third Mainland Bridge traffic jam will kill their muse such that when they get home at midnight, sleep will be the most desirable. And if he lives in Ikorodu, he has to get up before 4:00 am.

Between Abeokuta and A Troubled Ijoko-Ota

Railway Station in Ogba-Iyo Area in Ijoko-Ota

Railway Station in Ogba-Iyo Area in Ijoko-Ota

We were in Abeokuta. That was Day Three on my plan. I had written a timetable for each day while in Dortmund. After two days in Nigeria, I almost abandoned it but for the German Spirit I have imbibed over the years. One thing I learnt in the first two days is, it is not good wisdom to sit down in Dortmund to plan for life in Lagos and environs. One must be on ground to do correct realistic situation assessment to plan well. Same logic is applicable to many of President Buhari’s plan for Nigeria. Think of a (wo)man in a government house, with 24 hours electricity supply; if (s)he told you he had sleepless night because mosquitoes would not let him sleep in peace or that (s)he cared about the miserable light supply in your village, town, city and wherever you live, then you have just seen the face of a lying thief. All you left with is to catch him/her!

With our self-appointed tour guide and cameraman

With our self-appointed tour guide and cameraman

With the epileptic power supply I had to make do with during my Nigeria’s visit, I have sworn not to be convinced with a Buhari-is-working-mantra until he fixed power problem in the country. We must remember, the road to hell is full of good intentions. Generation is currently at 7000 megawatts; calling it 7000 megawatts is a beautification of bad nonsense. We call it in gigawatts, and our own shame stares us in the face. 7gigawatts is all we generate. Can you now see that kain shame that wears no clothes? So you know, Nigeria generates far less than Dortmund Power Works generates.

Anyway, back to my nearly failed plan. The German Spirit notwithstanding, the Nigerian Factor tried very strongly to hijack me. Fowosere and his girlfriend picked me from the airport. We drove to Ijoko-Ota. Tired and worn out, I still did not go to bed, drinking started in earnest. Before long, I realized I was beginning to exaggerate the excitement. I went to bed drunk and unsatisfied. The second day went the same way. On the night of Day Two I connected with Patrick in the hope of keeping to plan. I spent the morning hours of Day Three with Patrick, and a driver who drove us to Abeokuta. Gajuwa, my personal assistant, joined us. We embarked on a ride to Olumo Rock around past midday. Thereafter we traveled to Olodo to see my father-in-law. After Abeokuta, I kept to plan. If there was any change, it wasn’t a major one, unlike in the first three days when I nearly gave up on the whole adventure.

By the way, it’s just barely over three months into President Buhari’s APC-government. So, like in my case, I am sure there is still enough room to accommodate all the change promised if APC meant to implement change indeed.

Olumo Rock. We were welcomed at the gate with the news of a bad elevator, so that we could decide on spot if we wanted to see the historical rock or not. They don’t allow visitors enter the gate before they pay the fee. I was appalled by this kind of welcome. We requested the young worker to let us drive in before talk of money. He agreed, and we were in. We paid. I had thought he was our tour guide. How mistaken I was! He collected money, went to a kiosk to bring us receipts, then pointed. “The Arts Galleries! The tour starts from there! They will show you the places! And from there to the Rock!”

I was vexed but my excitement did not let me express my disgust at this kind of treatment. We took pictures at a water spring, The Pot of Life. The exhibitions were cool. We saw Opon Ifa, Igbako, Egungun, books, Obasanjo’s latest book was there, African fabrics, bracelets and other traditional souvenirs. For sale. I did not buy any. Out, a young man joined us, he is a photographer, but since we had a Canon camera and my Smartphone, Amebo’s inbuilt camera as well, I thought at first the photographer’s service would not be needed. One thing I later thanked him for was that he took the initiative, uninvited, to join us. He gladly took us pictures with our camera, and he became our tour guide almost immediately, it was not agreed on, but he did all the same. He showed us around, leading the way to places that matter in the Rock.

Abandoned/Incomplete?! Bridge in Ogba-Iyo, Ijoko-Ota

Abandoned/Incomplete?! Bridge in Ogba-Iyo, Ijoko-Ota

When we finished, taking the staircase to descend, I looked at the elevator at close range. From the accumulated dust in the glassed house, it was clear it has not been used, or cleaned, in a very long time. Like the elevator is permanently out of use, not only for lack of electricity, the functionality of the thing is doubtful. I was not surprised. I was just further disappointed.

We saw a warrior’s grave, Sodeke, I think. Abandoned like a commoner’s grave in a forsaken cemetery. If not for our tour guide, I would have concluded it was just any other grave. This is how Nigeria treats her heroes and histories. Treated worse are Nigeria’s own dogs, beaten with sticks and clubs at any show of friendliness or kindness. We were brought to a small opening under the rock. We entered one after the other, taking picture and laughing out loud. For our entering this space, we were told our Abeokuta visit can now be truly so called- We can say with conviction we have been Under-The-Rock!

Our cameraman cum tour guide did well to warn us ahead of our next stop. We insisted on seeing them. We met a group of old women, one of them is 128 years, very old. Iya Agba was eating Eko and vegetable. There was dried fish in the vegetable sauce. Flies flew here and there, perching on the food at will. I took picture with the old woman. There is no better way to tell of the misery of old age among people with no money in Nigeria. They are abandoned to the mercy of visitors and the comfort of flying flies. I am not sure if death would be a redemption for them, if Sodeke’s grave is anything to go by.

We saw an Iroko Tree, then another Big Tree. Seeing the Big Tree, touching it, accompanied with a Confession of Faith was fortification against all enemies who wished evil on us. I led the Confession of Faith, thinking, not only of APC and friends of Nigeria’s PDP, but also of the dust on Ijoko Road, the dirt that littered all nooks and crannies, the dilapidated statures of Sodeke at a Roundabout, and the nonchalance that envelopes everywhere confirm dubious achievements fronted by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA) in expensive billboards and radio jingles. In truth, there is no better way to know a broad-daylight thief than a visit to SIA’s Abeokuta and Ijoko-Ota. Come to think of it, the people of Ogun state love him like their own neck-muscle. Jesus and all gods in the state combined must intervene to change the face of this charade called change. If there ever was a change between my last and my latest visit to Abeokuta, then I did not see one.

At Olumo Rock

At Olumo Rock

Ijoko-Ota. Our street, named after my father, Solomon Ajagunna, now has a transformer. Placed three houses away from our house. The fence that shut us away from the people who love us is now old. At least from outside. The gate was padlocked, there was a Ragolis-Bottle tied with a rope. Before I wondered too far, I saw NEPA bills in it. Then I noticed every house has it. If NEPA came and met nobody, they will cut light, I was told. “What light?!”, I seemed to ask myself. This one that I hardly could afford to stay out late, not that anyone was going to prevent me, but the darkness that troubled the land was so thick that even NEPA would need a giant torchlight to go through a thief-infested lightless night.

Ijoko-Ota has changed. Like Nigeria. It has changed. Really. The change so caught my attention, it took two people who live elsewhere to tell me the city has never been the same again since the Obaship tussle between Baba Yayatu and Chief Matanmi. Until recently, people from both divide still slit throats of supporters from opposing camps. A cat and mouse game. Only that these are real human beings killing each other realtime. All one needs to be a victim of strange death is to be at the wrong place at the right time. Or say it the other way- as confirmed by a family friend who was at the right place at the wrong time. He escaped being butchered by a strand of hair. The Ijoko-Ota I met during this visit was certainly not the town General Abacha left behind when death took him. Ijoko-Ota was peaceful until Chief Obasanjo installed trouble. It is a different city now.

My personal assistant, Ms. Talabi Gajuwa

My personal assistant, Ms. Talabi Gajuwa

When I was told our road is now very good, I was thanking Goodness the abandonment we suffered from Chief Osoba, made worse by Chief Obasanjo, has found an end in SIA’s APC-government, in its second term. Starting from where we used to have Kings Oil Factory, or even much earlier into Sango Area, the condition of that road is a big shame to anyone talking of eight years of change. There is no other way to word it: Change is yet to arrive in Ijoko-Ota. Our roads are not smiling at all. In Ogba-Iyo Area, a bridge is half-complete. The Railway has been taken over by market women who have no other decent means to sell their markets.

Struggling not to have a punctured tyre from sharp to rough stones, one is always trying to escape being run over by big big transporters, and from carefree Okada riders manipulating around endless jagajaga roads. I was beyond shocked when someone accused a motorcyclist of insincerity because he spoke the truth. “Don’t tell me SIA has not tried for Ijoko-Ota. With all he did for you people here!? Is this road not worse than this before he came? Now see what The Governor has done to better it.” In my mind, it is like comparing GEJ’s corruptness to Buhari’s body-threat to kill corruption. All the while I was trying not to get choked from dust entering my nose, eyes and ears. I had long thrown away my handkerchief after it dirtied beyond redemption. I gave up trying to talk. We had just escaped being caught on the sideboard of a trailer. I was going to exert my leftover energy on praying my way into safety.

A major road in Ijoko-Ota

A major road in Ijoko-Ota

Like I said, we were in Abeokuta. We returned home from Olodo. The road is relatively better, this doesn’t mean it is a good road. Like many roads in Ogun state, we met potholes at intervals, avoided them expertly, looking forward to the next. Home is always a good refuge from the madness outside. My cousin’s wife would not allow me lift a pin, she ensured I was well taken care of. She served us Ofada rice, and correct roastfish. That flathead fish. The soup was hot, I ate it. The cucumber she served with dinner, I ate all. The following morning she served us bread with fried eggs to match. I drank two cups of warm chocolate tea. Then we took pictures, and more pictures before Gajuwa and I were brought to the motorpark. We continued to Ibadan on my ten-day sojourn in APC’s Changed Nigeria.

My Homecoming- A Day In Igasi-Akoko

“A river that forgets its source will dry up. (Yoruba Proverb)

Ahjot Naija with maternal grandfather, Baba

Ahjot Naija with maternal grandfather, Baba

My homecoming would have been incomplete without a visit to my ancestral home, Igasi-Akoko. Long before I left Germany, I was clear I must visit this land that gave me life again, and again. My resolve to reach home was only strengthened by calls from various quarters not to visit this village. I am a memory merchant; while growing up I heard many (his-)stories about this hometown, I visited with my mother at least on two different occasions, memories of which are still with me as I write. Of course, there could be times when mother took me there when I was much younger, memory of which I have lost. The last visit I remember was a trip to Igasi-Akoko with an aunt. All these were memorable moments, part of growing up, this is my life. I sincerely cannot remember a bad experience of/about the village. So much was then my surprise when I was told not to visit a place I so much cherish.

Ayo's father, Ahjot Naija, Uncle Jegede

Ayo’s father, Ahjot Naija, Uncle Jegede

Confused, I wanted to know why. My curiosity only deepened when answers provided ranged from accusation of witchcraft to being a den of sorcerers and wickedness. “Paga!”, I seemed to exclaim. “This can’t be true.” If I ignored some voices who counseled me against visiting, excused on the ground of old age, I found it difficult to explain another voice, a much younger voice, who insisted there are indeed witches who “fly in broad day light” in the village.

Oke, Pastor Segun, Baba, Iya Idowu, Omololami (At Baba's new abode)

Oke, Pastor Segun, Baba, Iya Idowu, Omololami (At Baba’s new abode)

I took time to make her reason with me. Let’s assume for once that you were right about the your claim of witchcraft etc, have you ever taken time to attend to these matters critically, gone to this so-called village of witches and wizards? Did you ever read about the art of witchcraft and wizardry and how this art works? Isn’t this assumption based on sheer hearsay, which you refused to pursue beyond reasonable doubt? In short, are you informed beyond your nose about the (his-)story, existence, use, positivity and negativity, the import of this art? I was sincerely interested in engaging that young voice, who out of ignorance and fear, submitted that I was best advised to not visit the village. We could not discuss because I gave up almost immediately when I realized I would be dialogue-ing with a mind long decided against critical inquiry.

I found a wonderful company in my uncle, Pastor Segun. He was first to support my decision to visit Igasi-Akoko again. In fact, he drove me. We visited in company of a cousin and another extended family member. We refreshed memories as we drove. We talked about my great grandparents, grandparents and many other family members I never knew or saw, and haven’t seen in a long time. My excitement was boundless. Pastor Segun was my history guide for the trip. I was thankful I had him in the team. How could I have known where to turn in the village without his wisdom and presence!?

Ahjot Naija with Yeye, Women Leader and Chief Priest of Igasi-Akoko

Ahjot Naija with Yeye, Women Leader and Chief Priest of Igasi-Akoko

Welcome to Igasi-Akoko was written on the brick banner that saw us into the village. Besides English, it was written in Igasi; I smiled as “u yame” rolled out of my mouth. I have just learned another sentence in the language my mother refused to speak with me, even though I craved so much to speak it. “That is the police post”, pointed my uncle. Overgrown with bush, the colours were shone brighter as the sun shone on them. “Thank goodness for progress. Little by little, we’re becoming a town”, I commended.

As planed, we drove through the town to my uncle’s house, Pastor Segun’s brother. They had been expecting us. Upon seeing this uncle I was flat on my belly to the ground, full of smile and a whole lot of happiness. “Dide, dide, omo mi dide”. That was my uncle telling me to stand up. He was coming towards me while he said that. I began rising from my position of happy humility to hug him real tight, he held me tight, and we exchanged pleasantries. I greeted other yet-to-be-introduced relatives. My two uncles greeted warmly, I looked around, took one or two pictures, then we went in.

Finally, I met my uncle; I used to remember him as an elite, always one step ahead his age group, families and friends, his compound neatly swept, he is a pig- and crop-farmer and a carpenter. He is still all these professions. He showed us his garden farm. For age he goes less often to faraway farms these days. The garden farm is barricaded with barb-wired fence. To keep goats away.

Ahjot Naija, Aunt Jegede, Pastor Segun

Ahjot Naija, Aunt Jegede, Pastor Segun

In that moment I remembered a proverb I heard long time ago, I could not stop laughing as I talked about goats weeding only grasses not in the forest but in the homestead. The first time I heard the proverb it was Bro’ Jide who compared me to a goat because I had eyes only for girls in my local church and around our house; I was always tongue-tied around girls I wasn’t familiar with. The proverb was right on point also now that we talked of my uncle’s garden farm and goats that forced him to barb-wire his behind-the-house farm.

Uncle Jegede harvested maize cobs, my aunt was to cook them so we had victuals for the return journey. Pounded yam was to be prepared, we talked in the sitting room, I met the relatives I was yet to know; my eyes opened wide in surprise when Uncle Jegede explained the connection. The man to my left is the son of my grandaunt. If it was that straightforwardly put in Yoruba, I would not have big-eyed in attempt to understand the family connection.

It went like this: See, you know Ayo, right? I confirmed after Pastor Segun reminded Ayo was the young man who worked with Uncle Folorunsho in First Bank Ajaokuta. “Now I know”, I confirmed again. This man to your left, he is Ayo’s father. His mother is sister to your maternal grandfather. I understood the connection well. I know my maternal grandfather very well, so it was good the connection was built around him.

The other man farther left was introduced too. I don’t remember the connection now, but I well remember he asked Ayo’s father if I was resident in London. Ayo’s father was sharp in response, I saw wisdom in that. This is what he said: “Where he is resident is for now irrelevant, at least not now. We are happy to have him come greet us. Let him arrive properly.”

Ayo's father, Ahjot Naija, a relative

Ayo’s father, Ahjot Naija, a relative

Exchange of pleasantries went on and on, I enjoyed every moment. I pointed to a picture on the wall, she was Uncle Jegede’s late wife. His wife, the mother of almost all of his children, was in the kitchen, she was busy with our pounded yam. I saw her in the picture too, with Dr. Jegede between her and her husband. In the picture, Dr. Jegede could not be older than five. I wowed, it was a long time ago, Uncle Jegede now has grandchildren, my nieces and nephews; Dr. Jegede and his wife bore him three of them.

“He wanted to meet the King”, Pastor Segun said. In that case we were best advised to go see the King first, then return for the pounded yam. We decided to do just not just that alone, but to also see more relatives thereafter.

My maternal grandfather. We met him in town, he was seated on a stone, with friends, we sighted him as we drove away from Ile Olokuta, that house which got its name from the plenty rock-like stones in its front-yard. Another grandaunt lives in the house. Upon seeing me, she was first in doubt, maybe shock, as to my identity. When she got herself together, she gave out a big laughter, shouted for excitement, “Dakudaji! Eh! Eh! Eh! Eh! Gbemi, Dakudaji re!?”

Iya Ile Olokuta with Ahjot Naija

Iya Ile Olokuta with Ahjot Naija

I greeted her, I was all smile. She was sure she could not have recognized me if she wasn’t told. I used to have seizure as a child, so it was that appellate she addressed me with. We greeted, and greeted again. I took three selfies with her before we left.

So she knows I am still very much aware of my childhood troubles,  I mentioned another popular appellate I used to be called by. “Gbekude”, I said. “Ah! He still remembers o!”, she confirmed. We continued laughing while we stepped out of the one-storeyed house into the car.

Pastor Segun (standing) with Uncle Jonwo

Pastor Segun (standing) with Uncle Jonwo

Everywhere we stopped at, I took pictures and made videos endlessly. We went past my grandfather’s dilapidated house, he lives there no longer, we met a young woman with her children in the house. I saw Baba’s room, the pantry, and while we made to enter the backyard where the kitchen is, I pointed Baba Serafu’s house to Pastor Segun. I was sad to learn of his death few weeks back. If only I had come earlier, I probably would have met him. I saw grandfather’s well and took pictures of the old bathroom, it was just like I used to imagine it, same spot, corrugated iron sheet. The kitchen too.

The kitchen. I remember a tortoise Uncle Folorunsho hunted many years back, it was here he kept it. I and my sibnlings were fascinated by this beautiful creature. We talked different talks about the animal, both confirmed and unconfirmed knowledge, we shared them simply as they came to the tip of our tongue. I still remember we three agreed that we could loose our finger if we stuck it into the anus of the tortoise. One of us said he was sure he saw the animal broke a hard stick into two with her anus when Uncle Folorunsho inserted it into the anus. We were terrified, I particularly never allowed my finger any more close after this talk.

I am not very sure now, I think we left the tortoise alone when Uncle Folorunsho arrived with a squirrel he had hunted. We sat under a tree, Uncle Yomi was somewhere. Uncle Folorunsho told us of the adventure which led to the squirrel-catch, we were captivated. The squirrel was no more just another animal when it was being prepared for eating. I was much interested in its fate, I was for example so curious to know where its intestine and other inner waste were thrown or buried; that was after it was cut open. Another of my uncles’ friend made fire while an uncle cut open the squirrel’s stomach.

All these memories have always been part of me. I was beyond happy to see the scenes again. My excitement was boundless.

Baba. My maternal grandfather now lives in Pastor Segun’s house. We opened the door. The house smelled of old times, it was like certain moments held still in the scent I perceived in the spaces. Although it is a different house, much younger than grandfather’s house, I could hear the past, see voices of long time speak to me. Those memorable moments we all shared together when I was a child.

The scent. I was taken back in time to a room in the old house. In bed. Many almanacs. Calendars on the wall. The month was August, I suppose. The years were definitely not in the 1990’s, they were old calendars. From the 1980’s. On them were dancers attired in varying traditional clothes. I remember very vividly now.Tunde, my brother, told me the woman in the calender was an aunt. I wasn’t sure he lied then. I believed him. I visualized the aunt in the attire. Dancing so happily. Even if I had difficulty placing her face right on any I saw in the calendar. I laid in bed, and she came alive, dancing as if she would not stop. Tunde even told me she won awards for her beautiful dancing. I believed him.

In that same room we used to be when we were not outside or not in the farm. Or somewhere else! Singing an old rhyme that went like this:

Tanimo o!? Emi moo! Kini nje mo? Molade! Kini nj’ade? Adesupo! KiniI nj’epo? Posere! Kini nj’esere? Sere oloye! Kini nje oloye? Oloye Akoko! Kini nje Akoko? Akoko orisa! Kini nje orisa? Orisa alaye! Kini nje alaye? Alaye Olorun! Kini nje Olorun? Olorun ijala! Kini nje ijala? Ijala oniye tete bale teruteru! Kini nje teru? Teru ola! Kini nje ola? Ola nijo! Kini nje ijo? Ijo nife! Kini nje fe? Fefe feju e teteri! Ebira, laju e waiwaiwai!

We sang, and sang, and we sang again, we corrected our errors and re-sang to be sure we had no error, then we began allover again. We were never bored of our rhyme. Bose, an aunt my age, used to be our rhyme leader, she was a wonderful young girl, she was never tired of life, she was full of it until she died, her fullness of life got killed a little earlier though before she died. But her memories, especially those times when she was her real self, live on in me. That much is sure.

The bathroom (I bathed in here as a child)

The bathroom (I bathed in here as a child)

That room I entered in Baba’s new abode. And the scent that filled my nose, opened a whole lot of things. Memories! Moments! I could tell forever all that transpired. In the room! As if I was trapped in a past that has certainly gone, but is still present I could hardly call it a past.

Baba's former house

Baba’s former house

Let me tell of two, or even three times I remember as I write this piece, all of them happened in that dilapidated house, from where Baba moved to live in his present abode. Here, one of them: Dawn, or later. But it wasn’t afternoon, that much is sure. In the pantry. It all started Like play, like play. Iya Idowu, Baba’s wife dished soup. A bicycle. Somewhere in the pantry. Nothing was arranged. And nothing was scattered. Everything was in another place. Yet everything seemed to be in their right places. Mother was somewhere in the kitchen, or somewhere between the kitchen and the passage. Someone opened the door of the pantry. From the living room, not Baba’s living room. There were two.

Up in the roof hung cobs of maize. Many of them. They hung there. Drying. Dying. Awaiting full death. So they could come alive again. They were birthed. Just same way. Their creator were dried, then buried, to die fully, so they could come alive, not as themselves, but in hundreds of maize cobs. I looked at them, then I looked away. Like I wanted to be sure I remembered what I was told about them, then I looked up again.

Mother was visible now. I saw on the floor, close to the bicycle, a cricket. I pointed it to mother. It flew in my direction. I shouted. I lost my voice. I slumped. Then that was all. I did not know what followed. But I sure did not die. Permanently.

Awogbemi Family House (Mama Abigail lives here)

Awogbemi Family House (Mama Abigail lives here)

Then another one: It was an evening. Night was about to set in. Pounded yam was ready. Ishapa soup. I had my portion. Mother had hers. Everyone in the house had been served. I ate my pounded yam. Faster than anyone could. I was first to finish. Baba saw me. Mother saw me too. “Are you still hungry?” That was Baba, asking to know if I had enough. In short, he called me to him, and we ate together his portion. In the same bowl! It would have tasted good all the same, if he cut some for me and I had to eat in my bowl. But it tasted much better in his bowl. I enjoyed it.

“Baba, this boy will not allow you eat your full! He just finished his own. Ehn!” That was mother. “Let him eat”, was all Baba answered. I ate and drank water from Baba’s cup.

Then this one, the third: That is the story of how the well in the backyard was dug. I was told about those who dug it, and what they went through to have it dug. I won’t tell you now, so I don’t bore you. But I sure will tell it soon.

And about my marks.The marks on my face, hand, back, my chest, and my feet. Because I met the woman who marked me, so I could stay put. And I did stay! She was all joy as she recounted with confidence how my mother backed me, running to meet her, from the farm. She collected me from her and gave me the marks. Yeye greeted me. She hugged me, full of joy that a life she once saved came back to thank her. I am thankful indeed. She did what she had to do to save my life.

The shrine is beside Baba’s old house. Only if I understood the language well enough to hear Pastor Segun argue with her that the god she served was not good enough, I would have found another way to interfere, so I could get to see the shrine that was once a saviour to me. I wanted to, but he was much in a hurry that I followed at his instruction. I hugged Yeye again. Then we left.

The well in Baba's former house

The well in Baba’s former house

In the car I asked what that was all about. Pastor Segun told me what the woman said. I got to know the meaning of her name. Yeye is a title, but this has since become her name, she is the women leader in the village, and the chief priest in the shrine. This is what she responded: “When we all die, we return here.” She pointed to the shrine as she said that. “Your god, or my god, I am certain we all return here.” She stood her ground. Her confidence impressed me. I wished I could chat with her. But we were long gone away from the shrine.

Did we see Baba first or was it after we had visited Jonwo? I am not sure now, but what does that matter? What mattered is, we saw him in his house. We passed by my paternal family house. We greeted my grandaunt. She is the last standing of her generation. Mama Abigail is a sister of my paternal grandmother. She must have been born when my paternal grandparents were old. Because she looked relatively youthful, younger than Jonwo in appearance.

Ahjot Naija with Uncle Jonwo

Ahjot Naija with Uncle Jonwo

Jonwo is the immediate younger brother of my dad. He is a paternal uncle. I had no problem recognizing him. He was happy to see me. He is 70 years old, dad is 73. He wanted me to meet, other relatives, but for time we could not wait. It was on the way out of the area Pastor Segun pointed to Remi. When Remi learnt of my person, she introduced Mama Abigail as her mother. She corrected me when I mistook our paternal family house for a house where my paternal grandmother once lived. “No, she did not just live here. This is her family house. Awogbemi Family House.” She must have been married from here into the Ajagunna Family. I thanked Remi, photographed the house, and video-ed.

Uncle Jonwo is cool. At 70, he smokes like I don’t care. He was not sorry to tell us he drinks ogogoro. He almost rebuked Pastor Segun who begged him to stop drinking. “If I die now, I have not lived in vain”. I gave him money to top up his ogogoro and Rothmans supply. He was calling out to Ogidi, another relative, when we must go. A real cool uncle he is.

With Mama Abigail

With Mama Abigail

We drove out of Igasi-Akoko. We all were happy it was a successful visit. Pastor Segun and I chatted while he drove. I ate a cob of maize. We all agreed our King is a very intelligent man, ambitious and committed to positive development of Igasi-Akoko. I was thinking of how to best share with the world the history of Igasi-Akoko and many of the wisdom the King shared with us in the interview. I have a duty to share the (his-)story of this beautiful village. I definitely am going to do that in another piece about this homecoming.

For Fela Anikulapo Kuti: Memories of you

Beautiful. I’m sure Fela is smiling wherever he is right now. I bless you, Pa, for this beautiful piece.

Pa Ikhide

First published in Next Newspapers, November 20, 2010

There are days in America that wear the beauty of a well-tended garden, every image in its right place, days created the night after goddesses loved and rocked their lovers to blissful restful sleep. On those magical days, I always go for a walk. And my friends come with me, strong voices of Africa, spilling in song out my iPod. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, Sunny Ade, Osita Osadebe, Ebenezer Obey, Rex Lawson, Celestine Ukwu. Prince Nico Mbarga. Victor Uwaifo. They follow me, our ancestors’ son, wearing a blue suit and an attitude, trailing all these people staring at my weirdness.

The guttural sounds of the spirits of Lagos gush out of Fela, Abami Eda, the Weird One. My senses threaten to implode from the torrent gushing out the eaves of Fela’s motor mouth. Alagbon Close. I am…

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Patrick!Point-Blank! P!PB!: Nigeria(ns) In General

Mr. Sowunmi Patrick is a passionate freelance journalist, photographer, social media commentator and public speaker. He writes for P!PB!, the latest addition to Ahjot Naija BlogFamily.

Mr. Sowunmi Patrick is a passionate freelance journalist, photographer, social media commentator and public speaker. He writes for P!PB!, the latest addition to Ahjot Naija BlogFamily.

Even in writing this piece, I must have spent several hours rewriting or deleting out of either dissatisfaction at the choice of words used or as a result of having not properly said my mind. The truth is, to describe Nigeria and Nigerians in general, one can’t be too careful as regards what words to use or what expressions to employ. The situation is one of utter confusion and sheer uncertainty.

I ran into a lady in the elevator and I asked her “please, are you going down?” to my total amazement, I got the most unprecedented reply of my entire life time, she told me bluntly “God forbid, I will never go down, I’m going to the bottom floor of the building”. I couldn’t help laughing, immediately she flashed me a stern look that killed the laughter instantly. I can imagine the disgust on her face when she attempts to relate the incidence to her fellow religious fanatic or colleague. Equally, it got me thinking, this is the extent to which the average Nigerian has become conscious of what comes out of their mouth, thanks to the Pastors and other religious heads that have spared nothing in teaching their followers the power of the tongue. At this point I dare ask, is this actually what we need? Is this the attitude we must cultivate to excel and have better standard of living as Nigerians?

Though true, what we confess does matter a lot but what if I told you that positive confession alone doesn’t fix things, what if I told you that a matching positive attitude and sense of responsibility does more. If for anything, what I see is a Nigeria that has become a religiously misguided set, we are so religiously oriented that when compared to other parts of the world, Nigeria should be considered a center for various religious pilgrimages for the wider world.

Nigerians in my opinion are the most unpredictable people, I am not even sure unpredictable is the word that best qualifies us, I will let you in on my thoughts and subsequently allow you pleasure of sorting out the right word to describe us.

In church on Sunday, we pray on top of our voices, practically screaming at God for success, uncommon favour, undeserved glory, money, money, money, the kind of grammar used to qualify what they want will definitely stop you in your tracks be you a mere passerby, been quite a long time since I heard any sermon about holiness and heaven. These people want everything, the best cars, cloths, jewelries, houses, luxury lifestyles at any cost. They decree with faith things that might take decades to accomplish legitimately and they want it in a rush too, now that’s the problem.

Church is over, it’s Monday morning, everyone is dressed for their hustle, marketers for banks, insurance companies, ladies precisely, dressed provocatively, going in for the kill, prepared to do whatever it takes to get accounts and policies, slip into bed with whoever necessary to beat their target, brothers defraud their companies and pay huge tithes, managers employ church members ahead of better qualified non members. They ignore others on the queue and attend to church members during banking exercise for example the bank verification number exercise among many others. Outside the religious circle, the regular Nigerian is always very loud and easily heard complaining about societal ills and government failures to perform their duties judiciously they say the government is corrupt, undisciplined, blah, blah, blah, but at the slightest opportunity, the same Nigerian full of self righteousness, won’t hesitate to jump queue at the filling station for fuel, will sit and drink countless bottles of beer at a bar located right on government designated pedestrian walkways and flower beds, same person can’t take the trouble to go turn at the appropriate round about, rather they follow one way gbam! Same person will pay for special centers for their children’s exam, settle lecturers, some even are the ones at the receiving end of such bribes. Some get jobs with fake certificates, pastors pray on parcels of illicit drugs so they can pass through custom, immigration and NDLEA checkpoints unhindered, they anoint known corrupt politicians and assure them of victory at the polls, using phrases like “God uses instruments of the devil to achieve good” to justify their deeds. Haba! I tire o.

Let’s go down to the younger generation, they have no educational challenge or urge anymore, they are all opting for careers as street dancers, musicians, comedians, and worse still the girls see prostitution as the most lucrative alternative ever. Intellect has been relegated to the status of boring while stupidity has become the new cool. Everywhere you turn, it’s a show of absolute shame, the budding generation is gradually turning into nothing but a bunch of nil witted zombies, living the madness they see in music videos. This is not to say their totality belong to this pool of fools, but a great majority of them really have little or no dream or ambition beyond clubbing, riding luxury cars, whoreing and day dreaming about superstar lifestyles.

To be candid, so many things are going wrong in the society and everyone seem to only notice what the government of the day has failed to do, not stopping for a minute to identify what we can do as individuals, we only stop to condemn and blame government for all that is going wrong. Yes! Government does have a huge role to play, but we seem to be forgetting that those in government cultivated their habits as ordinary citizens growing up in this otherwise lost society, they can’t give what they don’t have. So as people, we need to stop to check ourselves first rather than run to God screaming for things we need to fit into this class crazed society, we should begin to consider how to start raising our standards right from our homes.

Everything About Nigeria Will Kill You! (With Laughter!)

There are two things you need to note: first, the title above is not a panic propaganda. Of course, it sounds like one (…), yet it’s no propaganda, it’s a fact. But even if you disagree with this premise, then let’s call it a propaganda, but it is one that has become necessary and urgent at this point. – Ayo Sogunro, May 2014

Everything about Nigeria will kill you! With laughter! Or not! One is but not always able to laugh considering how pathetic things are in this space. No doubt, Nigerians living in Nigeria have grown thick skin, hardly any of these things affect them the way it would Nigerians in diaspora. I am one of the latter. I live in Dortmund, I died many times in the past ten days, I resurrected almost immediately so I could see more of these things that killed me (with laughter), then I died, to wake again. Naija wenjele!

Ahjot Naija in Ibadan

Ahjot Naija in Ibadan

Think of a man who would be willing to get killed at dawn when what anybody wanted would be to make it to a destination as early as possible. So, it happened that I boarded this Lagos black-yellow bus to Oshodi. I jumped in without a second thought because it was unbelievably cheap at 100 Naira; from Stadium Bus stop. The bus filled up on time, most likely with awuf-liking hurry-hurry passengers like me. A mobile police officer sat beside me in front. With the driver. Three people in front. Of course, the police officer was not expected to pay a fare. It is an unwritten pact between officers and commercial bus drivers, a give-and-take arrangement; there is always a payback time.

Well, I will talk more on that later, lest I talk too much, forgetting the man who was willing to get killed. The bus conductor called bus stops, passengers responded and got alighted until trouble started. The bus driver and conductor must have seen trouble coming long enough to be prepared. I knew this when attempts were being made to beg the trouble-passenger to leave in peace. He had paid 50 Naira for a route worth 100 Naira. The driver said his fare expired two bus stops ago, yet he did not come off the omnibus. He stayed put. To add salt to injury, when the bus conductor called out for passengers who wanted to alight at Obanikoro, this passenger demanded to be dropped at another bus stop, purportedly the “correct” Obanikoro bus stop. He would have no nonsense of being dropped off at a stop other than his wish.

The bus driver begged him to come down NOW! The conductor begged him to come down NOW! He refused. That was when we knew trouble has met us unprepared, except for the two men who knew how much he paid, this trouble-man happened on us all suddenly. The bus drove past the wished bus stop. Upon stopping at another stop, the trouble-man punched the bus conductor in the stomach, the poor busboy was then dragged off the bus, being held at his waist. It was the trouble-man’s voice we heard, even though it was the conductor who was being hit! He shout-promised trouble, trouble, and more trouble in abundance! “I will show you that you cannot do anyhow. I told you where I wanted to stop, you refused to drop me, you wanted trouble this early morning, now you can have it in full.”

The driver jumped out of the bus, going to rescue his boy, passengers begged the man to let go, there was another police officer on spot to intervene, yet the man would not be appeased. When the police officer beside me jumped out to help settle the matter, the trouble-man threw away his only belonging of a nylon-bag, he declared convincingly he was willing to get killed; only death was going to pacify his anger. He threw tantrums here and there, insulting anyone who thought it was not the driver’s fault to stop him at a different stop, nobody could even touch him because he threw shout and spit in all direction.

When I realized this was not stopping anytime soon, my fear spiked. I took 100 Naira from my purse to appease the trouble-man. By now, he was talking on phone, only hell knew what he wanted. “Here is your money, take and go, please, just go, let it be! Here! Take! Take! 100 Naira! He refused still.

The driver did not want me to give him the money, some passers-by cum onlookers wanted to take the money out of my hand, I did not give them, I wanted the right man to collect it so there could be peace, the police officers pointed him to the money. “Oga, take your money and leave!” Yet, he did not bulge. At that point, I was lost, I knew no further.

Then suddenly, just like the whole theater started, he was pacified. All by himself! But that was not before he accused one of the police officers of watching him get slapped by the bus conductor. He told me not to worry, he thanked my kindness. Now, passengers who had alighted when trouble started got back on the bus, the driver ignited, and we moved on, I pursed my money. I did not stop wondering what the trouble-man was all about. The mobile police officer said the trouble-man had a “mission”. The driver talked and talked, the bus conductor was quiet, passengers continued talking. And on we moved to other things.

Allow me talk about two other incidents on commercial buses.

One- on the road to Ibadan from Akungba-Akoko. The driver wanted four passengers seated in a space barely enough to house three. When I did not “shift” to accommodate a fourth passenger who was going to seat just as uncomfortable as I would have, the driver threatened to throw me out. One would think the passenger about to be picked was going to see reason and go away. How wrong I was!

From left: Ms Talabi, my personal assistant, Ahjot Naija, Driver, Patrick Sowunmi

From left: Ms Talabi, my personal assistant, Ahjot Naija, Driver, Patrick Sowunmi

He stayed put. He abused me, called me names for being inconsiderate. “And people like you would not be ready to pay for space, yet want to sit as if they owned the bus!” I was at a loss. The driver was all smile. He won the bet. My frustration was boundless. I changed tone, talked with the driver who agreed to take 500 Naira extra to leave three passengers in a space best suitable for two. We continued our journey to Ibadan.

A young lady seated next to the Muslim woman beside me busied herself with a Christian literature, it was a self-help on getting motivated, Osupa Saheed blasted in his fullness from the louder-than-loud speaker mounted somewhere in the bus, at interval, he was replaced by another song. The replacement was not as beautiful as Osupa Saheed’s. I wished he could sing forever; he was my only redemption in this house of chaos.

We arrived Ibadan in peace, the Christian bookreader would not come down. She insisted on being carried further, she threatened to not accept this madness, she was deadsure she told the driver a different destination. I was too fainted to beg her to leave in peace, I carried my luggage on my head and walked into the night.

Two- From Kila along Abeokuta-Ibadan road. The Agbero began to shout, he insisted a market woman insulted him, he bragged and bragged until I caught fire and told him to go away or keep quiet, my personal assistant was seated at the back, she was watching, she said nothing. I was soon to realize my intervention was futile when I saw the crazeman increased the pitch of his rage to an incomprehensible level.

Ahjot Naija, Beauty and a nephew

Ahjot Naija, Beauty and a nephew

By now, the market woman was not relevant anymore, he wanted to throwback my own insult at me. The issue was, how could I ever dare insult him and his reputation. For the driver’s timely intervention, I am sure he would have shouted forever to “restore” his dented reputation.

Beyond doubly overloaded, our road-unworthy omnibus began its journey to Apata in Ibadan. I gave up trying to make the driver see reason not to overload when he told me that a conductor was still going to share my space with me. “This is how it’s done here, sir. If you want change, please talk to NURTW.” He said this with a tone of friendliness I have not seen a long time that I was willing to agree with this helplessness for once.

I have many tales of killing encounters on my omnibus journeys in my short stay, but lest I bore my readership, I will go on to other killing stories while I visited the land that my ascenstors call home. Next, I will talk about two dogs I met, I will show you a pig on a motorcycle, then go on to talk about bad roads. I will talk about toilets in Nigeria before I move on to a motorcycle rider who was bent on dissing a woman foodseller, until I blessed the woman with 200 Naira; the money was to make a point.

Beauty is my cousin’s dog. She is indeed a beautiful dog. I fell in love with her on first sight. When I asked for her name and I was told she answers to Beauty, I knew I was right all along. Beauty likes to play wild, she runs up a distance, comes back to be cuddled, then runs away to come back again. When I carried her in my laps, she was full of happiness; my nieces and nephews looked on in excitement, they called out to their dad to see me carry Beauty on my laps. Beauty and I enjoyed our short meeting so well. I am sure if I stayed longer, I would have taught her a few more plays, like getting to catch a thrown stick. I suspected she was afraid whenever I picked up a stick, so I stopped, she definitely thought I wanted to hit her. We played other plays without sticks.

The other dog I met is resident in Ikorodu area of Lagos. He barked and backed off, not so friendly unlike Beauty. He was scared to come too close to us. His master dragged him to us. Reluctantly, he took a picture with us. Unlike Beauty, who was glad to take pictures with me and her family. The pig on the motorcycle. I met her on my way to Ibadan; on her way to death-the slaughter’s slab, that much was sure. I pitied her condition. I requested the Okada rider to allow me immortalize this cool creature before she would be no more. He agreed, and we took shots together.

Good roads are not existent in Nigeria. If anyone tried to convince you otherwise, look him in the face and tell him this truth- “Now I know how a liar looks!” I swear, we hardly traveled a 20 kilometre stretch without something wrong with the road; talk of potholes, untarred roads, worn-out coaltars, unleveled paths, stony to water-logged ways, an unsecured bridge(-like) roads, just any badness imaginable! To travel safely in these roads, I would recommend a speed limit of 80 km/h, anything else is suicide.

Toilet matters. This is what my cousin said when I showed a picture of a toilet of a private hospital: “This is still manageable now. There are more terrible toilets.” He was right. Toilets in Nigeria are anything between manageable and outright disastrous. In eateries and fastfood joint, in other public and private spaces, the condition of toilets are bizzare, only a handful are usable, I found handwash in one or two, hand-dryers did not work, no disposable towels, I could not sit on many, my business would simply not be done upon sighting some, I refused food and drank water instead so I  got pressed less frequently. I did just anything to avoid using a restroom. In short, I would be anywhere but in a toilet in Nigeria.

A Toilet in a private hospital in Nigeria

A Toilet in a private hospital in Nigeria

I visited a primary school where I had to use a restroom. The pit-latrine stank to high heavens. Of course, I was not expecting a five-star pleasure from a pit-latrine, but the condition in which I met the adjoining pit-latrines meant for the school pupils were appalling. Excreta littered everywhere, I picked my way carefully so I did not stumble on a shit, I opened the padlock to use the staff pit-latrine, the condition was only better because no shit littered the locked shithouse.

While I squatted to do my business, I was carried in thought to my primary school days when Babangida was president. We had same terrible shithouses. Our teachers had same, just like present-day shithouses in that primary school in Kila village, they were full of shit, we shat everywhere, we shat until we had no more space to shit on, then we shat on shits. Just like now when Buhari is president, nobody cared where we did our business.

There is no other way to put it, the truth is, a people who cannot create for themselves a toilet fit for human use, talkless of manage one, is unable to create and manage change, in fact, such a people is far away from change, they are ready for anything but change because there is (and will be) no change!

Enough of toilet shits, I must remember to talk about the foodseller who was being dissed by the motorcycle rider. That was in Akungba-Akoko. We had negotiated to sit only three passengers at the backseat, the driver agreed to take 1900 Naira instead of 2000 Naira to seat four. He agreed after I called a NURTW unit-chairman in another city. I crossed the road to eat before we took off.

“How much rice do you want?” “I don’t know, just sell me little, scoop a spoon or so, add a little beans, just a little, and one ponmo will do, no chicken abeg, no, that is alright.” While I talked with the woman, the Okada rider stood behind, waiting for his turn. I ate while he ordered. “Put more now, haba, is that 50 Naira worth of rice!?, what a cheat you are!, add more joor!, more meat, more spaghetti, beans, more beans, dodo too!, everything, add jaara o!” He abused this and that about the foodseller and the food he was about to eat. The woman did as instructed. I was taken aback by this rudeness.

Eating eba with vegetable stew in a fast-food in FUNAAB, Abeokuta, standing, with a foodtray in hand, is my cousin, Dr. Jegede Vincent

Eating eba with vegetable stew in a fast-food in FUNAAB, Abeokuta, standing, with a foodtray in hand, is my cousin, Dr. Jegede Vincent

Here is a woman who sold you good food, trying to feed your hunger, yet all she deserved was insult. I finished my food, gave the foodseller 200 Naira. I asked for water, she pointed to a bag of pure water. One cost ten Naira, I took two and gave her twenty Naira. That was when I noticed the big smile on the woman’s face. She knelt down and thanked me. “Not to worry, you deserve more than the insult of a motorcycle rider.” I did see the Okada man was now quiet. He looked at me and spoke softly. “Oga sir, find something for your boy too o, sir.” I gave him 50 Naira to add to his food money, but that I did after I told him it was irresponsible to talkdown a woman whose only offense was her kindness to feed a hungry motorcyclist. He collected the money with respect, and thanked me.

While I made to cross the road to join other waiting passengers, a woman dressed in Ankara greeted, her intent was clear from the way she greeted, she wanted to be blessed with money. I ignored her and ran into the safety arms of the commercial car hungry to eat the road leading to Okene.

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