ajagunna

I discuss Nigeria and the world at large because I strongly believe MyOpinionCounts!

Category: !SiDOS

The Black Burden by Ola Dunni

One day,

My nephew arrived from school

Tapped his mum and asked in a very innocent voice

dunni

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Doctoral student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Are Africans stupid?

Are we stupid mum?

Were we shocked at this question?

No

Wary?

Yes

We needed some more time before we had to do the whole black stereotype discussion

We wanted him to be innocent for a few more years

To grow up like every other kid

And not be weighed down by the black burden we all have had to carry for centuries

He was just 7 years old

7 freaking years old

Why do you ask this?

His mum inquired

My classmate Bobby said all black people are stupid

With further digging and prodding,

We realised Bobby’s mother was the origin of this statement

Bobby’s mother told Bobby who called my nephew stupid

 

My nephew is the only black kid in the school

A very smart kid who has been promoted twice

But he questions his intelligence because a white kid said so

Unfortunately, that is just the tip of the iceberg for him

I am not pessimistic, simply realistic

He is gonna encounter far worse as he ages and leaves his cocoon

All we can do is arm him with tools to navigate a world which has been tilted against his kind

Educate him on history which was scripted to subjugate his kind

While stealing from him

Got us convinced we are not good enough

Got us convinced our religion is paganistic

Our way of life is far from the ideal

While stealing and raping our culture

Got us convinced our culture should take a back seat

While we embrace another whole heartedly

For yours is the standard of civilization

The bible was given to us in exchange for our freedom

And now you want me to continue to pray to a god which looks nothing like me

Believe in a fairy tale which paints an image of my kind as never do well slaves

You wear my hair as wigs during your carnival

While I am still struggling to wear mine as they grow from my head

Without being subjected to regulations on the definition of beautiful hair

 

My flatmate once called Kenyan food smelly and disgusting

With her nose scrunched up at me

Probably wanting me to apologise on behalf of Kenyans

Me shrugging my shoulders and retorting

Yours too stink and taste like rubber

The smell of cheese makes me want to puke

But the difference between me and you is understanding that identity is a construct

And no one chooses to which race, country, family he is born into

And that whatever you are,

Your taste, favorite food, fashion, culture is largely dependent on these 3 factors

What one chooses however is how you treat another human

How you don’t assume your own normativity should trump another’s

I am no longer going to be defensive

Apologizing for my culture, food, hair, body and colour

I have a right to own my narrative same as you do

I do not owe nobody an explanation either

For I am tired of smiling to the camera

Like some props to be displayed at the market square

 

Ask every black person

And you would hear the same story

How we subtly double check ourselves at every store

Before walking out the door

Making sure no article is tagged to our body mistakenly

We all sadly make fun of this

But it is a worry that plagues us all

That even if we got nothing on us

The alarm would still ring and we would be doubly embarrassed

So we pat ourselves stylishly

Because we are always automatically guilty until proven innocent

Who decides the innocence?

You

How do you then decide my innocence

If you are already plagued with your stereotypes of me

That I am a good for nothing criminal

 

The young guy who screamed monkey from his car

While high-fiving his friends

All laughing drunkenly

The doctor who requested for my asylum card

Automatically assuming my identity

The checker who came directly to my friend

And asked for her ticket

While the white dude who minutes before told his friend on the phone that he had no ticket was ignored

But of course he’s white so no one assumes he would drive black

Only black people drive black

The bouncers who refuse us entry into the clubs multiple times

The people who try to justify this act

The girl who dug her hand into my hair without my permission

Giving me her unsolicited opinion on the texture of my hair

Like my existence desperately needed her validation

The guys who ask to date me to satisfy their fetish

According to them,

Black girls are this and this and that

I was just some black face to them

And still told me I was the racist one for not throwing myself at their kind

The old woman who dragged me to her living room

To show me pictures of black kids she helps back in Africa

Oblivious to my discomfort and mechanical smile

All I wanted was a room to rent

The people who say we are all one when it suits their narrative

And scream go back to your country

At other times

The problem is not our difference

The problem is the interpretation of our differences

How we are narrated as not good enough

By the one who has the structural power

A proverb says,

Until the lion is able to write

The story will always glorify the hunter

 

So I told my nephew

Do not let society own you, shine so bright it dims the one who tries to stifle you

You are not intelligent, beautiful in spite of being black

You are all these because you are black

Embrace an undiluted image of you

Love yourself unaplogetically

But remember,

You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have

Standing tall in a world that has been programmed to proclaim your negatives

And impose their narratives on you

 

So when you say All lives matter

I ask you

Will your kids die with the world on their back

For mine will.

Lost in Transit? A Long Poetic Conversation on Language, Culture and Identity by Ola Dunni (!SiDOS)

dunni

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Doctoral student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Hasten up,

I’d like to take my shower before we leave

No, it is take your bath, not shower, my friend corrects me

No, it is shower, I insist

No, you shower when you want to cool off your body

And take your bath when it involves scrubbing your body

Whatever, I’m off to the bathroom

Lets continue this English lesson in the bus

Ola I’d like some tea

No I don’t have tea

But I got chocolate if you want that

Well that’s tea, my friend shakes his head at me

No it’s chocolate, I insist

Tea comes in a bag

We argue over this for some minutes

Until I shrug my shoulder, “Whatever leave me be”

 

Hey Ola

Can you direct me to the closest cafe around here?

Sure, it’s right around the corner after the traffic light

You want to get some bread and coffee?, I inquire

What?, my friend stares at me incredulously

I want to print some documents

Oh! Its a print shop you need and not a cafe

No, its a cafe I need to go

 

These are the excerpts of conversations

between my newly arrived Nigerian friends and me

For two weeks, I’ve been made to pay attention to my grammar

With the realisation that I’ve picked up the German English

And lost my Nigerian English

Replacing peculiar Nigerian words for German phrases

It doesn’t end there

 

Wake up, your phone is ringing

The guy slaps the girl lightly on the shoulder

Wake up, it’s your alarm

Wake up, you have a message

I stare at them both incredulously

Why you do you have to wake her up to pick her call?

You should just mute the call and when she wakes, she calls back

Why would I do that?, he replies

Your suggestion is weird

Well, you waking her up to pick a call is weird too

I sigh

 

The guy is gone to class

Just me and my girlfriend at home

Her phone rings

I am awake so I mute it

She wakes up later

Hey Ola, did my phone ring?

Yeah, you were asleep so I put it on mute

Why didn’t you wake me?, she grumbles

You didn’t inform me that you’d like to be woken up to pick a call,

I replied

 

Hey Ola, can I use your perfume

My friend shakes my shoulder to wake me up

Is the home on fire?, I ask sarcastically

My sleep ridden face all squeezed

No, but I’d like to use your perfume

You actually wake me to ask this question?

I wasn’t even pissed

I was flabbergasted

You know you should simply use it or leave without using it

Either way, it’s rude to wake me up

I note the differences in our interaction

It will be difficult not to

 

These differences are very obvious

How I walk, how I interpret and respond to messages

My gestures, short mechanical smile I give to strangers

Do you know that person you just smiled at?

They ask

No, we don’t know each other. It’s just simple mechanical smile

Why you smile then? They ask

The hugs of goodbye and welcome I share with my friends

These ones opening the door without hugging me

Me still talking about the weather while they already gone back to the room

Weird people, I shake my head at them both

You are the weird one, they laugh at me

Why you hugging everyone

You not even in a relationship

 

My two newly arrived Nigerian friends

Remind me of the fact that I’ve lost the authentic Nigerian identity

Yes, I have a green passport

And I say I am Nigerian to everyone I meet

Holding on to that identity

But I realise I am swimming against the tide

And I am at the point of drowning

My friends tell me every minute

You are not Nigerian

You are so German

You wont fit into the Nigerian society

 

I have not visited home in 4years

Without my friends showing me what it means to be Nigerian,

I would continue to insist on my authenticity

Telling archaic stories and slangs

No one uses that word any more

They’d laugh at me. This is how we say it

Even your English is all mixed up

It has lost that peculiar Nigerian accent

Your words are pronounced on a very high pitch

Our pronunciations are very flat and low pitched

You are hybrid, just accept it

 

Then I remember the woman at the train station

On a Sunday morning

Shouting in anger at a young boy

It was a small argument that quickly escalated into a fight

I was tired

It was 5am and I had partied the entire night

All I wanted was to take the bus home in peace

But these two were at it

Exchanging words

And then the outburst

Go back to your country!!!

The woman shouted at the dude

It was obvious his facial structures was Arabian

We all turned in alarm

Shock written over our face

Condemning her in our silence

But of course we said nothing

That’s how it always goes

No one was willing to tell her how terrible that was

Then the dude responded, back to where? Bitch!

I was born here, same as you! I belong here!

I am from Germany!

 

He was from here

This is what he’s known all his life

But his identity was snatched from him in seconds

And he had to fight to reclaim it

Who knows how many times he’s had to do this?

Fight this identity battle

Telling everyone willing to listen, I belong here same as you

I pondered to myself

He didn’t look fazed

His statement was very flat

 

So when you say, tell me about Nigeria

I can only tell you about memories

Locked up

Brought out once in a while

Cleaned till it glitters

And locked up again

To be pushed out when the occasion arises

 

But my Nigerian identity has been contested

By my newly arrived friends

I cannot even eat their food

Neither can they mine

I talk about how we eat pepper a lot

Not realising that I do not eat the Nigerian quantity of pepper anymore

They say my food is bland

I say theirs is too hot

Almost ripping my tongue out

How can you feel the taste of the food if you douse it with this quantity of pepper

They say the pepper is actually the taste

So we decided to cook separately

 

I do not know what I am

Of course I’m not German

But they say I’m not Nigerian either

And I’d have to learn how to be Nigerian

So I cannot in good faith regale you with stories of Nigeria

Or how it feels to be one

That will be claiming an identity I do not 100% fit into

Neither do I 100% fit into the German society

 

So I have decided to juggle both

Be the German in the very Nigerian camp

You should lower your voice when you talk

Use your earpiece when you listen to music

Wait for the traffic light, be very time conscious

And be Nigerian in the very German camp

Laugh at the top of my voice, be the pepper eater, invite strangers into my home

This way I have my peace

And I do not have to try too hard to be anything.

!SiDoS Slams For Girls in Münster Germany

This is For Every Girl Fighting The System

dunni

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

It was the end of the school term
I accompained my mum to my brother’s school
I was four years old
My brother was nine
The three best students for each class were always selected
And prizes awarded amidst claps and encomium
It was the turn of his class
He came second
A girl came first
I was glad, I was proud of him
I clapped so hard my hands began to hurt
My mum wore her pride like a peacock
And marched out with him to receive his prize
But her face was marked with lines of unsatisfaction
Well, must it be because the first position was snatched out of his hands?
I questioned myself
Every parent wants her child to be the best

On our way back home
My mum said to my brother
Congratulations, you did well
But a girl beat you to the first position
A girl
You shouldn’t let that happen next term.
Whats wrong in being a girl?
My four years old brain pondered
Why cannot a girl be the overall best
In an egalitarian society,
My mum would have said
Congratulations my son, you did well
But second place is not the best
Try harder next term
I am proud of your achievement

My mum bought me every kind of dresses
Puffed shoulder, wide- lacy-frilly skirts
But I envied my brother’s trousers and t-shirts
All I wanted was simple t-shirts and trousers
Why couldn’t I have clothes like him
I wailed at my mother
Because you are a girl
She responded
And girls should not wear what belong to boys
I hung my head in despair
Pondering on this argument
Why make this much effort for someone who don’t want it
Well, you don’t have a say in this, she smirked at me
So I wore my dresses and pranced about in my girly shoes
Cussing at my life for being a girl

Visiting the tailor was another scary day
My mum and I always came home mad at each other
I had to make my pick out of the feminine collection
I was always very quick to choose the simple dresses
Can we go now mum
I would say to her
Oh, so quick
She would stare over my head asking me to show her my choice
Well, here it is
I would fume at her
Why not this? She would say
Why that? I would reply
At least now, you can’t question my choice
It’s still from the freaking female catalogue
So can I have my deserved space
I would glare back at her

I enjoyed playing football with my brother and male cousins
Running, jumping and screaming to high heaven
Oh, the scent of freedom and liberty
But my mother wasn’t having any of it
It was all good at the beginning
She didn’t care too much
But whenever an errand needed to be done
It was me who had to go
What a heavy burden
The boys continued with their football
While I quickly went on the errand, returning to join in screaming
One day, the football had to stop
Why?!
Because you are a girl!
You shouldn’t be jumping around!
You are beginning to grow boobs!
Wow!
I hate my boobs then!
And would like to cut it out if given the choice
I bared my teeth at her
But then I found a way around her
Whenever she wasn’t home
I joined them
But my long dresses wasn’t made for the sharp turns and twists of football
Often, the ball got buried in my yards of skirts
We had to dig through to find it
But my cousins were super nice
So we came up with a plan
I had to be the goal keeper
Both team wanted me even if I sucked at it
Because my wide skirt did the job of fending off the ball
That’s quite smart right?
Hell yeah
My team always won
My skirts did a very good job
The moment we heard my mother’s car horn
I scrammed into the house
Wiping off my sweat and trying to stabilize my breathing
To get caught was to be flogged
And lectured on the proper way of being a girl for days

Sunday was the Lord’s Day
It was another day to spell out your gender codes of conduct
The pastor was the police
The bible was the constitution
It was a predictable service
I’ve heard it countless times I could become a pastor
Woman, be submissive
Learn how to please your man
Be quiet when he is angry
Give him food when he is hungry
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach
For a submissive woman is a woman after God’s own heart
I would dose off mid speech
Waiting for the service to end
So we could go home to eat rice
One Sunday,
My mum said
I don’t want you to sit in the front pew any longer
Well, I don’t care wherever I sat
I would rather stay home
If I had a choice
The back pew would be more comfortable for my sleeping session
But out of curiosity, I asked her why
She said I was disrupting the church with my negative rebellious energy
Well, if your pastor was making sense
Perhaps, you won’t be staring at me during the service
Trying to pin down what energy my body was emitting
I grumbled under my breath

I was always the best in school
I was smart
I had no competition
My report sheet was predictable
Intelligent but rude
The intelligent part always got my mother so proud
But she would shake her head and beg God to change me
I could understand her though
I had one flaw
I was a girl
And girls shouldn’t be considered rude
They shouldn’t have a cause to fight for
They shouldn’t talk back to people
No no no, they shouldn’t even have opinions
I would laugh at her and run into my room
Screaming,
You don’t have to be worried for me mother, I don’t want to be married either

The more I aged,
The more my femaleness became hell for me
So I distanced myself from anything considered feminine
I didn’t want my brother’s penis either
So no, I had no penis envy
I just wanted to do things everyone labeled boyish
And also liked the benefits that came with having a penis
I would sit with my legs wide apart
Strut around like a peacock
Pick up fights with boys in school and on the street
I was tough
I was assertive
And I dared anyone to correct me
So everyone called me a tomboy
And I began to wear the label with pride
Because it meant being different from other girls
It meant power, authority, intelligence and superiority
It meant being able to wine and dine with boys on the same table

But then as I began to put things into perspectives
I realised the problem wasn’t me
The problem was the society and its perception of the female body
I realised being called a tomboy shouldn’t be a label I should wear with pride
I realised whenever I talked, men listened
But whenever another feminine girl talked, she was always shrugged off
I realised there is language and there is language
The difference between the two is how you wield it
I realised that whenever I wrote articles and responded to comments
People always assumed I was male
I always took great joy in telling them I was a girl
Then they would ask again to be sure
Are you sure you are a girl?
And I would puff out my chest in great pride
But then, I stopped smiling whenever my guy friends said
We don’t see you as a girl anymore. You are now part of us.
You belong to the guy club. We can’t date you.
So I would say: No, I am a girl. A girl who doesn’t want to be a boy either
You don’t get to mutilate my female body to consider me equal

This is it: I ran away from my life. The problem
I didn’t run from my female parts. The physical me.
The problem is this: We raise girls to be different from boys
Now, I still love to wear big t-shirts and trousers
And there are days I like to wear dresses and paint my face
It dawn on me that the dresses are not the problem
The problem is the baggage attached to the dresses
The problem is being taught hours hours unend how to rightly be a girl
Investing so much effort in teaching to live life as the inferior gender
Talks like: Keep your virginity. It’s a big price to pay for
Don’t have multiple sex partners or you would be considered a slut
Let a man decide for you what he wants or he might get turned off
For the big price, why don’t you go sell me in the market then?!
Meanwhile, the boy child is left off the hook
He doesn’t need to be taught these things
Only the wings of the girl child must daily be clipped
For the unfortunate reason that she is a girl and must fit the norm

So I reclaim the female parts!
I take great pride in the boobs and vagina!
I love big t-shirts and sweaters!
My favorite color is blue!
I do whatever I want without giving it much thought!

I sit and ask:
What if I was super feminine and liked frilly dresses, and stylish hairdos?
Would I still be taken seriously? Wouldn’t I always have to prove my worth as female?
Why can’t girls be happily girly without their femininity attached to inferiority?
Isn’t this why boys stay miles away from anything labeled feminine?
These asymmetrical relations, that can be traced to no beginning! Will it ever end?

I will say this:
A culture that weighs down a woman to feed the ego of a man is bad!
I am a woman. I sit on the same table with you. As a woman!
I have boobs and vagina! And I will behave whichever way I want!
I will be feminine! And masculine. I will be whatever I want to be!

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Ola Dunni of !SiDoS Slams for Girls in Münster Germany in a Spoken Words/Poem Event titled “Kunst gegen Bares”

Sub War Culture: A Nigerian Perspective on Roforofo Fight by Ola Dunni and Ahjot Naija

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Ola Dunni and Ahjot Naija

Background

Conversing on the exchange between Joy Isi Bewaji and Njoku Nkiru, we will analyse two primary texts, reflect briefly on feminism and sub wars, the place of society and/or culture in this exchange and the benefits of sub war culture.

The first hurdle was deciding the appropriate description for the phenomenon, the core of this piece. Anyone who had read the exchange between the two women, and if per chance is Nigerian, will have little difficulty understanding what roforofo fight is. We must but go beyond the assumption that Nigerians will understand at first sight, to define in no unclear terms what this is, a deconstruction is necessary for the benefit of all.

What is a roforofo fight/sub war?

A sub war is calling someone out personally in a public or private space (without) mentioning the name of the person. One might be tempted to call it badmouthing, it is not entirely badmouthing. The space, public or private, is the medium through which the sub war is realized, i.e. birthed. Until it is birthed, as in passed on for consumption, it is still not a sub war; at best it qualifies as an unrealized sub war. It is safe to say, it is the medium that gives life to this art.

The Medium

A public space is for example the social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, a Whatsapp group chat etc. It is a public space when at least two listeners or readers have access to the message. Beyond social media, a church, mosque, an open/closed gathering, school, playground, market, meeting, family, house etc qualifies as a public space. A private space can be, but not limited to, Whatsapp chat, telephone conversation, E-Mail, one-on-one talk, SMS. Using our primary texts as an example, Joy Isi Bewaji and Nkiru Njoku chose Facebook- a public space as a medium to birth/realize their sub war.

The History

Sub war is not new in Nigeria. It is an old art. In our myths, folklore, stories, daily activities abound narratives of sub wars. This is not to suggest this is a peculiarly Nigerian phenomenon. No doubt, there can be features specific to Nigeria. For instance the proverbial Apari Ado among the Yoruba. Of course, it is not meant solely to be a sub, there are other ‘wisdoms’ derivable from the saying, it is but first and foremost a sub to the proverbial people of Ado. Another instance of a sub war in our folklore, and this is realized in a public space, is Ijapa’s call for help in the open market fight between Asin and Okere. To begin with, it is not Ijapa’s fight. He only comes to settle a fight, at least according to Ijapa’s version of event. Before long, he gets a chunk bitten off his nose by Asin. In the song (call for help), Ijapa lays bare his ordeal to onlookers/spectators. Below is the songtext:

Asin toun t’okere. Jomijo. Asin toun t’okere. Awon mejeeji. Jomijo. Awon lonjonja. Jomijo. Ijawon mo wa la. Jomijo. L’asin ba bu mi nimuje. Jomijo. Egbami lowo re. Jomijo.

Of course, if Asin was given a chance to narrate his side of the story, it definitely will be different from this version which presents Ijapa as a peaceful arbitrator, harmless being, who is unfortunately caught in a bad fight. In short, in the song Ijapa succeeds in the representation of himself as the good one, the positive character in the sub war.

Before the advent of social media, it is not unusual to read in mainstream newspapers, gossip magazines, and other media of exchanges between or among public figures (men and women alike); these reports come in different forms, they include news, revelations of transpired activities hitherto kept secret or outright lies. There are enough reasons why A felt it is time to reveal or talk about a particular matter. B may go all out to counter, or reveal something about A, that which is even more damning or scandalous. This trend continues, until peace is reached. Peace is not often reachable. Much older are quarrelsome exchanges between or among family, friends, neighbours etc. In an effort to outdo the opponent, it is not uncommon to throw abusive words at each other and/or at the family in particular, the lineage of the opponent. This is expected, as it gives the message a special weight when disseminated. A sub hardly qualifies as a good sub if there is no vulgarity. It is more potent if the vulgarity is extended beyond the direct opponent. Vulgarity is an essential characteristic of/in a sub war. The belief, an individual is a representative of his family, his lineage, and that through him one can get at his ancestors, explains the inclusion of the family in the course of throwing vulgarity.

The Exchange

Nkiru was informed about Joy’s inappropriate reference to Didi, Nkiru’s daughter, who was born blind. Joy referred to Didi as ‘needy’ in a conversation. In Nkiru’s opinion, the word was to get at her. She normally would not respond to any of Joy’s rants. Joy knew this so well, so she (Nkiru) claimed. The only way to get her (Nkiru’s) attention was to involve the physically challenged Didi. That way, Joy was sure to get the needed attention. This, I believe, is the summary of Nkiru’s piece, if other parts of the text were ignored. Joy, in response or counter-response, wrote three pieces. These pieces are best summed up as denial of a wrongdoing as conceived by Nkiru, acceptance of a wrongdoing (if the word ‘needy’ counts as abusive) and an apology. She (Joy) accepts responsibility for a careless choice of word in a heated exchange, that the physically challenged Didi came up in the conversation was reason enough for her (Joy’s) acceptance of a blame. (Source: Facebook Timeline of Joy Isi Bewaji and Nkiru Njoku)

The Subs

I will analyse two pieces, one each from Nkiru Njoku and Joy Isi Bewaji respectively. Starting with Nkiru’s, we shall take a critical look at the subs in her piece and their specificity, which qualifies them as such. She started off with a typical introduction of a sub. Lets read her:

“I have been advised to stand down from this. I listened. But then I un-listened. Because my motherhood instincts far outweigh my cool-as-a-cucumber status. Heaven basically forbid that I sit by being calm and unflustered while my daughter Dirichi, takes one for the team, in the hands of a silly woman.” ( Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

A sub introduces itself often with a distinction of the sub-giver, a kind of ‘I am different’ badge, ‘I would normally not do this if not for the situation’, ‘my hands are tied, as such I have no alternative response’. She (Nkiru) had been advised. One can deduce from this that she is one that is advisable. She is sure to make clear that ‘she listened’, but something emergent outweighs the advise, as such her decision to act differently. In this manner, we are informed of her character, something of a near flawless personality, a positive self-appraisal. According to her, she (Nkiru) is as cool-as-a-cucumber. After the positive distinction, follows the sub. She refers to the source of the exchange as one that comes ‘in the hand of a silly woman.’ A sub will not only positively distinguish the sub-giver, it will go further, it will tell why the assailed person is indeed the very opposite of what the sub-giver is.

Apart from positive self-appraisal, there is another well-placed constraint the sub-giver employs to justify her effort at being different (distinguised), the conditionality forces an alternativeless action. Here she goes:

“Heaven basically forbid that I sit by being calm and unflustered while my daughter Dirichi, takes one for the team, in the hands of a silly woman.” ( Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

Nkiru basically said it is the involvement of the physically challenged child which necessitates a reaction. This, while passing out a sub, leaves her positive personality intact. The sub act is successful.

After a successful introduction, she goes on to inform the reader about her road trip, making sure the reader is not uninformed of Didi’s condition. Didi has so far slept well through and through. She gets information about ‘her opponent’s madness’ upon stopping to refill fuel. Here are Nkiru’s own words:

“Then boom. I am told that Joy Isi Bewaji has gone to places she shouldn’t go. Joy dragged Didi and her blindness into her madness. I am stunned. Joy should know better. Joy should have a little bit more sense than this. Just a little. But then I remember. She lacks love. As in, Joy was clearly never loved as a child, therefore this is the mess she has grown to become. You can insult me as you’ve done before. My resolve is never to fight on my Facebook wall and if I ever fight, not you – Joy. You KNOW that I do not value you that much. You are aware of this and it has hurt you in the past and it continues to hurt you. I will never understand why. But that is your monkey and your circus. Your problem to deal with, not mine.” ( Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

Taking out phrases like Joy’s madness, Joy’s ‘sense’ should be a little bit more than this, Joy should know better, the reader is told that much more is expected of the said character, that she can be more than what she is or that she is in fact not expected to be caught this way. The character is successfully subbed yet again. It is sometimes not the abusive languages in themselves that qualify the act as a sub, but the manner of conveyance. a character, who is expected to be distinguished does otherwise, the character causes a damage, the damage coming from him/her makes the act worse.

Nkiru, who knows Joy’s (marital) past, alludes to this in her assertive declaration. She claims confidently, Joy lacks love. She goes further in her claim. According to her, Joy was not loved as a child, an act resulting into ‘the mess’ Joy is as a adult. Nkiru weaves her narrative well. She knows Joy had marital problems, she concludes it must be that she lacks love, she extends the search for the reason(s) for this lack of love beyond the publicly known fact, digging farther into Joy’s childhood. This way, Nkiru connects the reader to Joy’s childhood, a possible horrific experience, to ‘the adult mess’ and the supposedly act of wickedness against her (Nkiru’s) child. On the surface, this is plausible, and this is exactly what the writer, Nkiru, achieves- superficial plausibility. A sub does not necessarily have to be truthful, it can be a baseless assertion, one which is probably superficially plausible.

Lets look at this part:

“You can insult me as you’ve done before. My resolve is never to fight on my Facebook wall and if I ever fight, not you – Joy. You KNOW that I do not value you that much. You are aware of this and it has hurt you in the past and it continues to hurt you. I will never understand why. But that is your monkey and your circus. Your problem to deal with, not mine.”(Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline, 2016)

The first sentence suggests this is not new. Joy had done this in the past. And Nkiru’s decision not to fight was unbroken. Joy knows she is of little to no value to Nkiru. This knowledge, according to Nkiru, hurts Joy so badly, she insists Joy still hurts. She does not want to understand, declaring this as Joy’s monkey and circus. This kind of attitude sums perfectly well a typical characteristic of a sub war and a sub-giver. The line of demarcation is always drawn, that the sub-giver is positively different from the opponent. Reading this part, the Nigeria peculiarity could not be more obvious. the writer declares, ‘if I ever fight, not you- Joy(…)’. There is a sense of an oral transportation into the written form. This line transports the reader into a particular mood, that which is best imagined as of a physical presence of both parties to the exchange sorting out their difference in a thug of words, fist cuffs and all attending theatrics in a Nigerian atmosphere.

This is also of interest to the subject matter:

“Please say absolutely anything about me. I don’t mind being ‘subbed’. That shit doesn’t affect me the way it affects many people. So please go ahead and project all you want. Identify everything that you are, and say that is what I am. Foam at the mouth as you do so.” (Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

And this too:

“In any case, may you find love one day. True love. Whether it be from family or friends or a romantic interest, I actually wish that you find love. The kind of fierce love that I have for my Didi. Maybe your life would be better then. Maybe you won’t feel the need to make such needless displays that show you for who you truly are. You make me laugh. You’ve always made me laugh and I’ve also always viewed you with a mixture of suspicion and pity. I was not wrong about you.”(Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

Hardly goes a paragraph without a sub, clothed as a non-sub, this does not make it less a sub. While trying to suggest the opponent is probably satisfied at the thought of the created mess, she (Nkiru) subs her opponent by calling her ‘the needy one’, ‘In need of attention and not caring how you get it’. She refers to her action as ‘such stupidity’. This is Nkiru in her own words:

“I hope you get that satisfaction now. I hope you gloat. Because this is the sort of person you are. Calling my child needy? When you’re the needy one. In need of attention and not caring how you get it. Such stupidity.” (Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

She ends her piece with a sub:

“But you see Didi – don’t ever fucking come near her again. Or speak about her blindness with derision. You silly, silly woman.” (Nkiru Njoku, Facebook Timeline)

Lets consider Joy Isi Bewaji’s piece, a response to Nkiru’s. The introduction is not much different from Nkiru’s. In the same manner, it is someone who insisted Joy must do this. This qualifies for the ‘I don’t normally do this badge’ a sub bears. She is coerced against her will. This act of coercion presents the writer in a different light, a positive one; this introduction attempts to convince the reader to see she (Joy/the writer) is unaware of a wrongdoing, or at least it is not intentional if any wrong/harm was done. This is how she starts out:

“This is not the easiest thing to do…but Toni Kan is not going to let me rest if I don’t.

He knows how to string his words that will wrap around my neck like it’s about to choke me. That feeling can be very uncomfortable.” (Joy Isi Bewaji (JIB), Facebook Timeline)

Somewhere in the introduction is this:

“Toni Kan says this roforofo fight is beneath me. Long note. But it touched me. Iheoma Obibi says the distraction is beneath my brand. I agree. These are two people I respect. I have seen their works and their love for me runs deep.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

After the admittance of the task at hand, that is to ‘do what she is unwillingly doing’, follows a sub:

“In all of this, a child is involved. It was the mother I wanted to chop into bits and fry to a crisp. But the child found her way in.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

She wants to chop the mother (Nkiru) into bits and fry her to a crisp. To tell the truth, she did exactly this in the piece. Joy wastes no time in telling us what her mission is. She is out to sub her opponent. Her choice of words is unmistaken. She dilutes or attempts to dilute this clarity with a tint of kindness, when she admits that a child is involved. Suggesting it was not about the child, but the mother, she wants the reader to focus on two things, one, the sub and the subbed person (who is anything but the positive distinction the sub-giver is), two, the child. The second being the sub-giver’s way of stretching her own positiveness in the course of the sub war.

The reader is informed of Joy’s two healthy children. In contrast to Nkiru’s physically challenged Didi, the message is not lost on the reader. She (Joy) never intends to involve the child, it is an accident. While taking responsibility for her action, at the same time she shifts blame away from her person; she is a mother just like Nkiru. She would not cause another mother pain, especially if the pain is one that she personally does not know. This way, she taps so well into the sub war frame.

Joy has not only Nkiru to deal with, Chioma, another character, comes up in her narration. This is what she wrote about Chioma:

“(…)I got munched tweets from a twitter handle I didn’t even know who it was. I was accused of subbing their sister…and sincerely, how do you sub Chioma? There’s nothing to sub. I know nothing about her. I have no records of any achievement. Not even a proper job. Or career. Or exceptional goals. She is on twitter. And that is all I know of her. And she uses the hashtag #Winning alot for the most trivial of activities. It was all I could gather when I ran through her timeline (is that what they call it on twitter?) to understand what the issues were. And I was really offended. (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

To Joy, Chioma cannot be subbed because she has no record of any achievement beyond being on twitter. In that case, we see Joy admitting she subs, she indicates the criteria which the character for her sub must fulfill. There is a standard. She would not sub for the sake of it alone. Does it qualify as a sub to conclude that someone cannot be subbed because her career identity is unclear on her twitter handle, has no proper job or career or exceptional goals? Yes, it does. In the same text, Joy ‘was really offended’ because she ran through the timeline to understand what the issues were. The reason for her being offended and the tone employed are apparent; she found nothing worth subbing about when Chioma is the character involved. She does not meet the criteria.

She further emphasizes on the criteria. She wants trouble ‘with a worthy contender’. Thus being caught in a web with this below-my-sub-character infuriates her more. Throwing a jab at Chioma’s sister, she employs an abusive word used by the latter in bringing home her message. She describes her relationship with Chioma as a “preek”, stating that the word was borrowed. She dilutes the message (sub) with a touch of apology for ‘unknowingly’ firing at a child. Below are her words:

“If I want trouble, I want it with a worthy contender. It was insulting, and I just concluded that her sister was right- the only relationship I have with this person is a “preek”. That’s her sister’s words, not mine. And it irritated me further. And I aired my irritations. But thing is, I have very strong opinions about people and groups they all are involved in. So the heat never really goes away. I really don’t mind the heat. But not when a child is involved. And I dragged a child into this. Unknowingly.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline).

Worthy of note is, the art of conveyance (as visible in the diction, the tone and texture employed) is important in a sub war. It drives home the point. Take for example the use/choice of the word ‘preek’. Limiting the definition of the word to the context, we can read ‘preek’ to mean ‘a tiny minuscule’. A minuscule is already very tiny, unimportant, it describes something or someone absolutely immaterial. Lets now imagine the addition of an another adjective to qualify this word, and the choice of the new word is ‘tiny’. The effect of the doubleness is not expected to be lost on the reader. In Yoruba language, repetition can be for emphasis, in fact, it is a common tool employed for this purpose. Driving home a point in a sub, it is not out of place for a sub-giver to employ this tool for a purpose, namely to strongly emphasize the absolute uselessness of something, someone, a situation etc. In this case, Joy excelled at this with her use of the word ‘preek’.

Rounding up, Joy lands hard on her opponent and the opponent’s supporters, subbing them all. In an advisory voice, one not completely free of scorn, here is how she ends her participation in the sub market:

“In the last 24 hours, I have been reminded of the most heartwarming things I have done and I could do with the brands that endorse me and my platform. These are the things I want to focus on henceforth. I am rising above it. Without anyone’s permission. What else? Yes. Hymar. Son, are you hungry? I’ve always wanted to ask that question. Your hunger can be cured. You are not an angry man. You are hungry. There’s a difference. Until subs and counter subs and comments and likes translate to money or flight tickets… I will like to concentrate on the things that actually cover my buttocks. Iheoma says there’s alot of work I need to put my name on. Many worthy causes. (…) And we are here, living on subs. This is crazy. (…) I can’t do these things if I am going to keep up with the sub market. It ends now. Have a beautiful Sunday y’all.” (JIB, Facebook Timeline)

Feminism and Sub wars. Any Connection?

An attempt to localize the discourse in feminism will not be out of place. The authors of our primary texts are women warriors, they are feminists. Feminism is a movement for gender equality for women in every sense of the word, not only as opposed to the other gender, that is the man, it aims to remove any form of intra-gender bias and inequality that exist among and within women. Does sub war diminish the work of the movement? No, it does not. Although it adds some negativity to the personalities involved, this deducts nothing from their contribution to feminism. Does sub war have a place in feminism? No, not at all. One can be a feminist and sub-giver at the same time. The sub war culture is not peculiar to women or feminists. Anyone can sub. Neither must one be a woman nor must one be a feminist to sub. As far as their works in the feminist movement is concerned, both parties in this sub war are independent women who want to make changes, they want to change the narratives and perception of women in the society. Among other things, they challenge the status quo and expose the inherent double standards in the society. With this sub war, of particular interest/relevance are unavailable pre- and post-sub war texts. Notwithstanding the unavailability, that which becomes evident from the primary texts is this: Both parties do not understand there is no particular way of who and what the new woman should be as this would be plying the same route we are trying to avoid. No one should own a monopoly of the new woman entity. Independence, economic, cultural and social rights, and the right to be considered an individual irrespective of her attachment to a/no woman/man are desirables in the walk to equality; really, the freedom of choice is what feminism should be about taking into cognizance many factors like race, class, sexuality and many more in the advocacy for gender equality. In the absence of this, we will be shooting ourselves in the leg; in fact, we might be unknowingly ignoring many factors which inhibit the realization of equality. In short, what we are saying is, sub wars can only be evidence of shallow feminism; it is unconnected to feminism.

The Place of Society/Culture

We are undeniably a product of our society. The sub war confirms this. Narcissist tendencies are commonplace in our society. Going through the primary texts, of particular interest is the use of vulgarities. Reading between the lines, we can see that the parties strive to portray each other not only negatively but also to show that she is the better person of the two fighters. There is a kind of ‘I did not ask for this’ attitude in the narrations. A claim that the other fought dirty is clearly a pointer to one’s fairness in an unjust fight. References are made to different people, apparently both parties flaunt supporters, while the other tries to mud-sling the other’s supporters; there is a show-off of loyal supporters. Is this narcissist and like our society? Yes, it is when we think of it this way: Why does one need loyalty, will it not be enough to simply have friends, family members instead of loyal friends, loyal family members, and by so doing creating (un-)willingly grounds for new sub wars or reviving of old strife?

Weaving out words and more new words to cuss out each other adds linguistic angle to it, that which is much connected to our society and culture. The Yoruba language is a tonal language, a very rich one, it is creative when it comes to coining new words, placing identities on people, things, acts, actions, attitude etc. The tonality helps the creativity. This must have informed the parties, or at least one of the parties, use of this creative linguistic form in the sub war.

Freedom is relative. In the South West, at least among the Yoruba, we are a free society, until the borderline is crossed. What exactly makes up the acceptables in this controlled space of freedom is not difficult to make out, when one see them, they are recognizable. There are gray areas too. Same goes for behaviors, actions, or situations outside the border of allowed societal freedom. Our freedom is controlled. We are at liberty to do whatever pleases us until we cross this thin unwritten border. We internalize this relative freedom as we daily become and grow into our society. We call it the Omoluabi character. It is thus not unusual when strands of this societal norm find their way into our words, oral or written; in exchanges we want to determine where these borders are, what makes up the border, and more important is who sets the borders. We negotiate these things among ourselves. There is for example a right way to talk, eat one’s food, there is a right way to dress, to party, to have fun, to think etc. This is much visible in the primary texts. Take for instance, the un-listening by Nkiru after being talked to (advised), the attempt by Joy to contextualize or neutralize the word ‘needy’ as used by her, the acceptance by Joy to attend to a matter after being persuaded upon by another character etc.

The Benefits

Who roforofo fight don epp? Are there benefits for individuals and for society at large? As it is presently, hardly. Sub war is a societal norm, an indigenous art form, which if refined, can serve us positively. A recognition of this societal norm is a step in that direction and can help create an atmosphere of constructive criticism, an indigenous streitkultur sans the vulgarities characterisitic of sub wars.

 

!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: The Typical-Ola or Not!?

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

I was in the club with friends on Saturday. After some bottles of beer, a drunken conversation started. At some point, a boy-friend said: “I have very few African friends and you are my only African girl-friend but I imagine African girls as crazy, friendly, confident, good dancers with extremely loud vocal cords.”

This is all me, but for him, all these strung together also constitute the identity of African girls. I burst into laughter and did not tell him of my friends who were very shy, quiet and calm; friends who would do everything else but dance. Sometimes, the best response is to be quiet instead of ruining a person’s belief.

I replied him: I was only Ola until I got to Europe. I was me, the crazy, witty, sarcastic, friendly Ola. But on arrival in Europe I became a representative of African girls to many Europeans.

Even I am confused, where should the line be between what’s typical-me and Nigerian. This is what I told another friend on Sunday: Though our personality is a reflection of a larger part of our society and culture, isn’t there always this distinct I and YOU?

I have to admit, I use this general profiling several times especially when it suits me. My best boy-friend is a very lazy, unstructured, non-mechanical person. He is a depiction of everything not German, I have to put his timetable up in my own room so I wake him on time for classes, remind him of appointments, remind him to go shopping, check the bus and train plans and yet remind him to catch the bus on time and most times make fun of him for not separating his garbage correctly etc. Exhausted, I scream at him: “Why are you not so German?”. I am Nigerian but at least I still remember appointments most times. I have to admit, we are so alike and that is why we are best of friends. I never can get along with the typical Germans, we are two parallel lines that can never meet!

Another friend, a German accused me of being a player. I answered: “Oh really? Well, so you know, I’m not a player, I’m just Nigerian”. Let me explain the complexity. Germans make complicated every damn thing in the world no matter how little! Having labels like ein(e) Freund/Freundin (a boy-/girl-friend), mein(e) Freund/Freundin (my boyfriend/girlfriend), then adjectives and comparatives as the case may be to define finer shades of friendship or underline the details. He labels me a player because I don’t respect this complicated details; for me, my friend is my friend! Simple! Abeg, I like my life uncomplicated.

In Nigeria, I was this crazy, funny person, almost able to make everyone laugh; I made jokes out of everything. My friends and family were always excited to see me. When I walked into a room, the atmosphere changed. I could win over with my charm, even though I was labelled rude, non-conformist and arrogant. I was in the spotlight for anything crazy and rebellious. In my undergraduate days, I remember having to write an annual undertaking not to cause trouble in the student hostel. However, upon submitting the document, there were my hostelmates waiting patiently for me to get back from class to take on a house-master who made up a stupid rule to lock the hostel gates at 10pm. My friends could count on me to take on any cause as long as it has TROUBLE embedded in it. I was a positive trouble maker, seeker and finder altogether.

I am still this same me, living in Germany. I have lots of friends as well as a handful of enemies. The question to ask is this: Is this typical-me or a typical Nigerian one finds on the street?

!SiDoS: My-Jollof-Excuse

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Being a minority in a group comes with its plus and minus. Let me rephrase that: I am the ONLY minority in that group. So, I have to explain almost everything I do. But trust me, it is not all bad; I own the monopoly of explanation. And being mischief-personified, I turn to my pranks-bags, dishing them out at will.

Interesting is, if I have to explain what I cannot explain, I simply say that how we do it in Nigeria. It bails me out without further questions. Some things are so hilarious friends laugh so hard. They would ask: *Are you serious, Ola?* Trust me, I would be sure to wear my best mischief-face in response: *Yes, of course*. I would be sure to repeat the response long enough so it is believable.

Recently, I cooked rice. Half the pot of my precious rice was burnt! I had been busy with gist and lolling. When it was time to eat and my friend asked why/how our rice nearly got half-burnt, you can already guess my response.

Really, I searched for a different response other than the truth, but my dumb brain forsook me. I didn’t want to own up I half-burnt it because I was lolling to gist etc. So, my *That’s-How-Alibi* came in very handy. *That’s how rice is cooked in Nigeria. We get it burnt intentionally. It adds sweet flavor to the food*, I answered.

My friend laughed so hard she was almost rolling on the floor. She said, *Ola, give me another excuse. Don’t play the That’s-How-Drama* with me this time.*

She’s my second bestie. The start of our friendship sucked because my alibi. She knows better now. Seriously, our friendship could not have been so hilarious without the That’s-How-Thing. Well, I only have a person less to play my prank on. I will still use my mantra on other friends, who are yet to notice I might be lying 🙂

Anyway, it was jollof-rice I cooked. Of course, you all know a rice is not yet JOLLOF if it is not burnt! So, I was actually telling the truth with my That’s-How-Alibi. Thank Goodness my popular excuse did not forsake me when I really needed it 🙂

!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: Your Chimamanda! is Not My Adichie!

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

On Facebook a friend’s post about Chimamanda Adichie’s Americannah read thus:

So I finally finished reading Americanah and there is nothing spectacular about the novel. I think Adiche has over flogged some issues. She really should try something new.

We are all entitled to our beliefs and opinions. I refrained from a reaction to this piece of mind because it was *my-keeping-mute-week.*

I was at a book reading in September. An European questioned the authenticity of African diasporic writers, mentioning in passing the exponential increase in diasporic writers in recent times. The opinion of the friend and the question of the European are related. It was time for a response.

In my reaction, I emphasized, the authenticity of writers from the diaspora should not be questioned; on no account should they also be compared to writers at home.

These two writers write from different perspectives and environments which follows that there is a wide contrast in their subject matters. Therefore, a diasporic writer might overstretch particular issue(s) in her novel because she has one more reason to do so, namely her newly added perspective. How she infuses these into her writing is best known to her/him.

In this light, a reader living in Nigeria might identify well with a book written by a live-in-Nigerian-author. The same reader might not with a live-abroad-Nigerian-author. Our perceptions differ based on the environment we live in.

Here a practical example. As a resident in Germany, I can make as subject matter *Mineralwasser* in comparison to *Nigeria-Tablewater*.

The live-in-Germany-Nigeria-readers might have a good read and good laugh. On the other hand, live-in-Nigeria-readers might be vexed when they read my book. Simply put: we have no Mineralwasser in Nigeria. Thus, it will be difficult to imagine the bad taste Mineralwasser leaves in my mouth. I can picture the live-in-Nigeria-readers asking what the hype is about the book.

I read Americannah few months after I arrived in Germany. I finished reading it within hours. It was unputdownable. I bet if I was in Nigeria when I read the novel, I still would have finished reading it because I love reading, but I would not have understood some key words, thematic preoccupations, White-Black dichotomy etc.

Take for instance Ifemelu’s experience, the protagonist who left for America for further studies and what she went through in pursuit of her dreams. Living in Germany and reading this novel remedied that for me. I was Ifemelu in that novel, I could relate Obinze to some friends who live an undocumented life in London and the trauma of using friends’ passports to get jobs that submit 40% income to these friends. Probably, some other diasporic readers could identify with one or two characters in the novel. I have since read the novel three times after my first read.

My desire to write about the black-white dichotomy in my Master thesis also surfaces from living in Germany. I am sure I would never have thought about doing my research on a topic like that living in Nigeria. The reason is this: I was never *Black* in Nigeria. I became *Black* when I stepped on the shores of Europe. So, how can my live-in-Nigeria-readers understand my master thesis and the mumbo-jumbo? This has nothing to do with intelligence but they cannot picture the world from my view.

In a nutshell, lest one think I am over-flogging issues here, diasporic African/Nigerian writers are not less authentic, the presumed issue over-flogging is not necessarily true and their confluence of narratives are clearly different from live-in-Nigeria-writers due to among many other factors the departure from home, thus adding another perspective to them.

!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: Lets Talk About Food o jare!

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Lets talk about food o jare. I’m a very talk-active. I can talk for 24hrs non-stop. Time is never fair to me because 24hrs is always too short to explain the ideas and ask all the questions bumping into each other in my head. I am in permanent search for answers. I never get tired. It amazes friends where I get strength from; A friend called it positive energy.

Now, don’t get too excited yet about this super-human. Here is the bomb: most of what I talk about are nonsense. I just hop from one topic to the next with no sense of direction. I call the energy a restless one.

So, I was writing this troublesome termpaper in the library when I decided to take a break. I deserved a break after 30 minutes of serious writing… Hahahahaha. I went to the café to drink my water. Not long after, this cute guy came to join me. He sat right in front of me! By now, I knew I’m the CEO of Cute Guys Detective Company!

Guess what caught my attention actually? it wasn’t his cuteself. The banana in his hands was real cute. The cup of coffee too. Those two things did it. I chatted him up. I was lucky he speaks English. I’ve still not learned enough German. I asked what he wanted to do with the banana.. Can you imagine such a ridiculous question… If I was asked that kind of question, I definitely would say *I wanna shove it up my ass, idiot!*

But Germans arent like that, very nice people. He responded quite friendly: *Of course I wanna eat it as my lunch*’ (that *of course* was perceived by my Nigerian-ears as insult though). I echoed his last word in surprise: *Lunch!?*

He looked as though I was plain stupid. Then he said: *Yes, lunch.*

With incredulity, I inquired further: *And how many hours can this take you before hunger came back?

His response left me more baffled: *Till dinner time*.

I only *hmmm-ed* over the words that came to my lips: *Very good*. I gulped the water I had come to drink, excused myself and wakacomot. A piece of banana for lunch?! I swear I never would have stumbled on that kind of strange lunch, not even in my widest thoughts! I really dont understand these Germans and their stomachs o.

That reminds me. I was also in the library one day like that and very hungry. So I went home with my Oyinbo friend asked. He lives behind the library. On getting home he brought out this canned soup. Of course, I asked him where for the rice/spaghetti to go with the soup.

*Which rice?, he responded. *We are going to eat the soup just like that!*

I was just as baffled as I was with the banana-lunch guy. *Just like that?!* I almost died a thousand death! How can someone *lick* soup and be satisfied?

According to him, the soup is heavy and satisfying. It was prepared to be! Jeez, all I could see were some millipede-like creatures cut into the soup. Ok now, shebi na me find trouble. I should have gone to my room jeje to eat rice or eba.

So we sat on the balcony and licked soup for 1 hour. Even before I lick the soup-drop, I was already hungry! I bet if these Oyinbos ate like me daily, they all would be obese by now. They eat for the whole day what I normally would eat just for breakfast. Very strange though is, they all seem to be heavier than me. So where is all my food going? That is a bit annoying.

What do you think of vegetarians? If asked, I would say I dont know why anyone would simply decide to come to this world to suffer! I hear that being a vegetarian gives 10 more years to live. What a gift! I’d rather eat my meat and die 10 years before than eat grass and live 10 more years! Abi ke. What do you think o jare, good people?.

Some say humans are unfair to the animals? But didnt we receive power over all beasts of the earth? By the way, my brother accussed me of always finding a quotation to suit my purpose. Hehehehehe…

By the way, I remember when I arrived in Germany newly and went to the supermarket I almost bought cat-food? Why wont I jare, when I couldnt even read the German alphabets. My African mind could also not fathom why animals should have food section in the supermarket!

And finally, do you know my Oyinbo flatmates stare at me in d morning when i enter the kitchen and begin to boil rice at 8am. I dont know why though, but I’ve heard them call me weird several times but who cares. They also eat bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Quite strange! How can anyone live on this boring, tasteless and non-satisfying bread everyday?! Even the *Good-Book* said *man shall not live by bread alone* Hahahahha.

I once woke up to eat rice at 5am because I was hungry. It was my Indian friends who were shocked this time around. I dont understand these people o jare. So, its not only oyinbos who think I’m weird, Indians too! This is my conclusion: They all gotta be some real weird fellas too!!!! Hahahahahahahahaha!

!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: Jailed Because of Pepper!

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

You know I told you guys I would await the 3rd oyinbo guy to come ask for description before requesting my Heimleiter to make me his secretary, and if he refused, then I would have no choice than to start giving these guys the wrong address. I know I’m that bad. I dont need to be told.

Even while growing up, my mother labelled me *wicked* several times because of my unlimited pranks. I won’t tell you about my pranks today sha o.

Oh, my oyinbo friend also told me of recent that he would be unfriend me if i didnt stop playing these my stupid pranks on him, so I’m considering putting an end to it.

Ok. Nobody came knocking today but I had a very exciting day anyway. I woke up late as usual. I’m not very disciplined so I have no alarm like my oyinbo friend who even own a sleeping alarm! Can you imagine?! Alarm telling him it’s time to sleep… Hehehehehe. I no fit laugh o jare.

I sleep when sleep comes knocking and wake up when my eyes deem it fit to open u. Hahahaha. Thank God we are on semester break. I only have this termpaper I have to write. It is easy though. I guess you are itching to know what my topic is. Here it is: Code-mixing and Code-switching between Pidgin and English: A Case Study of the Phenomenon in Contemporary Nigerian Hip-Hop Music. Exciting. Right? I also think so.

Don’t mind the fact that Nigeria keeps rearing its ugly head up in all my stories, but what can I do, I’m a Nigerian. You don’t have to beleive me. I have my green passport to prove it.

Anyway, I have this Spanish friend and we like each other so much, if not for the difference in skin pigmentation, you’d think we were sisters…hmmm… We probably are. You never can tell…

So she informed me on Whatsapp that she’s hungry. I being a good samaritan now, told her to hop on the next bus to my place. I was gonna cook my indomie and eat so I decided to include hers. Ok now. She was so happy; she arrived 15minutes later and I started cooking. I swear, I totally forgot it wasnt just me that would eat it o, aswear I didn’t do it on purpose!

I brought out my pepper that I carried in my luggage all the way from Nigeria the last time I visited. This pepper is so important to me ehn, even more than my Master programme! Hahahahaha.

Ok now. After adding the pepper that came with the Indomie, I added my own Nigerian pepper!

I coughed the usual way before I announced that food is ready.

Hmmm, I am still speechless I swear o…because she was hungry. She started before me, I had to wash the pot I used as a good Nigerian wifetobenow..

So I was at the sink washing when I heard this scream from behind me, I dropped the pot. I turned around immediately. What did I see?

My friend! Lying on the ground! Coughing! Scratching head!

I didnt know what to think. You know we are very close. I know she’s not epileptic. So what can this be?, I seemed to ask myself. I moved close. In my fright I asked what the problem was. Her eyes were tightly shut and she was gurgling WATER! WATER! I immediately ran to the sink. My mind already went blank! Chai, is this how I’m going to be deported? I could already see my picture in the Westfälische Nachrichten – A Black Girl Killed A White Girl Today!

I forced the water into her mouth but I still didnt know what the problem was. There was nobody I could call because it was Sunday. These Germans ehn and their strict routine… my flatmates dont wake until 11am… Can you imagine!

Finally, I remember I’m in Germany and not in Nigeria and I can always call the emergency number. In my disordered state, I called the police instead of calling for an ambulance.

Shit! Another problem was this same language… I think I have to take this language seriously for once and learn it o!

Anyway, I was able to ask in perfect German to be put online with someone who can speak English, they grudgingly did… Na life and death matter now… So I narrated my story to them. My friend is lying on the floor and I don’t know what the problem is. Fortunately for us, my house is just 2minutes from our city hospital so the ambulance arrived in less than 5minutes.

Of course, the police had to take me along, I’ve become an accessory to whatever is wrong with her now. These German machines ehn will never cease to amaze me. Chai! Immediately, they started passing different pipes into her brain and hooked her to one big machine like that!

Egba mi ke! Ko le to yi now!

The doctor who asked to be told the story again finally told us it was my pepper that almost took her life o!

I was surprised! Pepper ginni?! Ehn!!! My Nigerian pepper ke!!!

Iro ni o!

The pepper I brought all the way from Nigeria that my mother spent more than 6000naira nearly killed somebody! I refused to believe the doctor. I told him bluntly my pepper is not poisonous as I have used it several times. I even begged them to allow me go home to bring it and taste a spoon in their presence. They all looked at me like I was an alien. Eat a spoon of pepper?, they seemed to ask. I answered yes.

Anyway, my friend is alive now o and doing well. Finally, I wont be labelled a killer. Thank God!!! You know its our culture to thank God for everything.

Shebi Yoruba people say a soul who doesnt eat pepper will die young. Then why did my pepper almost kill my friend and she’s just 21 o? Its like the reverse is the case here o. Anyway, I tire for this oyinbos o. Why are they very fragile like this sef? I just got in from the hospital o and I’m very tired, so I’m just going to dust my bed and go to sleep.

I couldnt even study today, see what pepper caused. When I woke up, I was seriously awaiting the knock of these cute oyinbo guys so I could gist u about it, maybe he came knocking and met my absence. Who knows jare? I didnt know I was going to spend my day in the hospital o. But why now, God. I prayed to you this morning, but you didnt show me this vision o. Pepper! Hmmm...!

!Simply-Dunni-on-Spot !SiDoS: Guys, This is (no) Shit-Storm!- A Serious Play In Six Scenes

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Ms. Oladunni Talabi is a beautiful and wonderful addition to the AhjotNaija!BlogFamily. She is a Master student resident in Germany, young and very-full-of-life. She experiments with different forms of writing; this is one of them: Entertaining while strongly pushing for deep self-discovery/identification and cross-cultural dialogues among other interesting themes

Act One, Scene One

Young and old Nigerians alike know so much about the politics of their country. You’d be amazed at how much a 5year old Nigerian can tell about Nigeria politics. You don’t have to be educated/very intelligent to narrate the ordeal Nigeria has gone through in the hands of her corrupt leaders. You would conclude with the usual question: Is there hope for this country? Even diaspora-born Nigerians can give you a precise and concise history of Nigeria, from independence till date; that’s history lessons at work. Their parents did a good job.

Nigerians can never stop talking about Nigeria. It overwhelms us to the point of suffocation. Whenever I and other Nigerian friends decide to meet for a get-together with some Non-Nigerians, we end up monopolizing the gathering and talking about our woes. It’s even worse for diasporic Nigerian-born Nigerians. You’d actually think we’d get to Europe and at least have peace of mind! Hell NO! Nigeria becomes an un-buried corpse whose ghost haunts us everywhere!

Last week, we had another Nigerian Friends’ meeting. We almost ended up punching one another. That’s actually how aggressive we are when we argue. I must tell you, there’s no difference between a female and a male when it boils down to this menace called Nigeria. We actually had the get-together to eat Egusi soup with Griess, listen to some Nigerian hip-hop music on YouTube and maybe accompany it with some Nigerian dance-steps. Alas, it never came to be!

We ended up talking about NIGERIA; the recent tragedies and some changes we could effect from our convenient fort. An option could be to simply turn a blind eye. That way, we might just not use our internet again. It turned into an aggressive session with insults hurled at one another. It was with pain in our heart, tears running down our face, convulsive anger wracking our body.

 Act One, Scene Two

I am very angry, I am actually very very angry as I write this piece. I am tired of logging into Facebook to see beautiful young Nigerian women with bodies exposed to the world. They seem not to care a bit about their future. I have no problem with their bare flesh, overly beautiful dresses and faces wrecked with make-up! Looking at pictures on Facebook reminds me of this joke “the paint (makeup) on a typical Nigerian girl is enough to paint a duplex and a half”.

An attempt to see through their perspective is bedeviled with huge sums of money spent on makeups and Brazilian hairs. Three hours before a mirror is an outrageous time to justify! Imagine this might even be in the morning! Well, how else would they attract rich guys who shall guarantee financial security in an insecure Nigeria!? They care less where these guys get money.

*Seriously, who started this idea of wearing wigs and when did it become ugly to leave one’s natural hair on the natural head? Hmmm…I have to calm down. My anger is at boiling point now.*

You see, that’s my problem, I always try to view a topic from different perspectives. I hope I don’t go crazy one day from all these sociological analyses.

 Act One, Scene Three

Sincerely, I want a better Nigeria. I feel pity for those who hardly can afford three meals daily. Hawkers who have to sell their wares in the scorching sun everyday. I am so sad for kids who didn’t ask to be born into Nigeria but were born all the same to suffer and are still being born. I am sad for thousands of graduates who do- and cannot get a job.

I am sad for religious fetishism, which has taken over Nigeria. We ask God for the slightest things, even those we are entitled to. We have to pray to God before we embark on a journey. A father has to hug his wife and kids in the morning because he’s not sure he will see them in the evening. We have to confess all our sins before bed, for who knows a Nigerian aeroplane might just mistakenly veer off its route and decide to make a fatal stop-over on our roof. Another horrible way to die is this: a petrol tanker might just overturn its content behind our house, catching fire big enough to kill everybody who run too late!

You see, I get scared when a Nigerian number calls me. Why should I not be scared? Who knows what bad news to spoil my beautiful day the person is about feed me with?

Just three days ago, mother told me of an accident on our street. A car veered off the road into a house killing 2 kids and injured the other 2 kids in the process. What if it was my home, and our prison-like fence was not strong enough to safe us. I am so sad.

I once saw a comic picture. A Nigerian boy held a Nigerian flag. He said waving the flag, if on judgment day God denied me entry into heaven, then I would tell God he simply can’t do that! I have been to hell already, I deserve to make heaven!

On my bed, I burst into a very sad laughter. Nigerians are sure to find a reason to laugh even in a very sad situation. The comic relief was effective.

 Act One Scene Four

I was born without a silver spoon; I am from an average Nigerian family; educated and we could afford what we wanted, sometimes with little stress. The little stress went up by a notch when father died in a car accident. That senseless accident! The bad road! The trailer! The sorry driver! To avoid potholes, he swerved to kill father! When father died, the sad driver was sorry! Yeah, you heard me right! He was SORRY.

The word SORRY is genetically Nigerian. When you want the law of the land to work, the custodian of the law are swift to remind that “the driver was SORRY! What else would you want from this remorseful poor man?” Then this: “Thousands die everyday! Your case is not the first. It is not the last! Get over it!”

Gbam! That was the judgment! We were helped to get it over with by that shameful fiat declaration from the law. It was time to move on, Nigerian-ly!

 Act One, Scene Five

Talking of back-up plans, the Nigerian girl has enough to survive a Tsunami. One is to marry a well-to-do/rich husband. I guess that explains the senseless and suffocating things we adorn ourselves with. I know you ask: Why should we not over-dress? How does that connect or cause Nigeria’s woes and predicaments? Exactly these questions remind me of Legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti- *Shuffering and Shmiling*.

Ask these questions and your connection/cause to/of Nigeria’s insurmountable problems becomes crystal clear: (a) When did we become so obsessed with clothes, fake hairs and makeups that make absolutely impossible to tell what colour of lips is typical of a Nigerian girl. I guess we beat a chameleon in this regard. From one fake-hair to the next, hopping from one rich man alias *aristo* to the next who would foot the bill of the latest Brazilian hair if not the latter? (b) When did it become ugly to grow your natural hair? (c) When and how did we sink so deep we define ourselves only by these things? I can go on and on, but I will spare us the stress.

Take it or leave it, the Nigerian guy grades a big girl on the kind of hair she buys/wear on her head. To him, a young woman must act stupid to be intelligent. The intelligent girls do not help matter either. They would gladly be stupid because the society want them to be. The maxim- if you cannot win them, join them- becomes the order of the day. Every intelligent young woman wants *a crown* for her head- they call it home- as if they must be stupidly humble to get a good/blessed home/marriage. By the way, did I tell you marriage is the greatest height of achievement a Nigerian woman can boast of?

Seriously, the Nigerian society is so immersed in shit, one doesn’t know which shit to clean-up first. We all talk change. We all advocate for change. We all castigate our leaders. We want them to emulate the West, at least the good sides of the West, but we forget very quickly the people are the government and the government is the people.

Our wants and desires are direct consequences of the society we live in. Here is a side to it: Why would you do *all* to buy a wig you never can afford? Your financier of expensive Brazilian hair would definitely have to get that money *at-all-cost* to foot the bill of your excesses! Remember, money does not grow on trees. Most times, he got the money corruptly to pay for your lusts! Voila! No wonder we all must be married! By fire! By thunder! In Jesus Name! I’m so stupefied! There is a label to match this desperation: *Street-wisdom!*. How we so arrogantly parade this wisdom!

 I Am Not Done Yet…

Here is another in-thing- two to five boyfriends for a girl because she is best advised not to egg all her hopes in one basket! Chai! How deep have we sunk! A friend once wanted me to *link-her-up* so far the link is rich! She wanted a *chop-part-of-his-money*. I wasn’t surprised actually. This is not an uncommon request in Nigeria. Ladies, bear me witness here for once!

I only laughed and consequently ignored her.

Fact is this- money is our singular measurement of love and friendship in our world. Lobatan!

In Nigeria, I am a weirdo. My *scary* ideas and thought-provoking discussions are simply impractical. Living in Nigeria, scarcely would anyone be seriously interested in me because I simply become *the-impossible-type*.

I weep for Nigeria.

 Act One Scene Six

Here in Europe, one can easily identify a Nigerian. We love to brag about that so much. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m actually happy whenever someone asks me if I’m a Nigerian. I don’t feel insulted when a stranger wants to confirm if I’m a Nigerian due to my restless body carriage, boisterous confident laughter, discussions accompanied with interesting exclamation marks and biting sarcasm; all these always in a loud voice. I feel real insult though when you tell my Nigerian-ness because I dress and live so flamboyantly/lavishly. By the way, the person with the most expensive car in my city is Nigerian.

Yes, Nigeria is a migraine no medicine can cure, for now. However, until we straighten our bow-legged desires, myopic thoughts and ideas, we simply should and cannot claim a genuine interest in the Nigeria debate. We remain part and cause of this unfortunate migraine. Action speaks louder than voice!

I want to hit my bed now. It would be helpful to keep the migraine at bay, at least temporarily…

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