Monday 28 March 2011

Genevieve on CNN: "I can't diss my country"

I suppose on principle I object to people making positive generalisations about a place: e.g Nigerians are warm, Nigerians are friendly, then refusing to make negative generalisations about this same place e.g Nigerian are cyber crime artists. But when Genevieve does it, we have to allow. After all she is our Julia Roberts.

Wednesday 23 March 2011


I rewrote this hymn some time ago because it's one of my favourite ever. William Blake was the original genius who penned it and I thought, if you altered some words, it could be about Nigeria. So here's my version which I feel is particularly apt at the moment because of elections. Its our time to build a new Nigeria. Read the original.


And did those feet, in ancient times,

Fish upon Lagos’ bounteous seas,

And was the holy Lamb of God,

On Jos’ verdant mountains seen?

And did the Countenance Divine,

Shine forth upon our dusty plains?

And was Jerusalem, builded here,

Among those dark satanic rigs.

Bring me my bow, of burning gold!

Bring me my arrows of desire,

Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!

Bring me my chariots of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand

Till we have built Jerusalem

On Nigeria’s green and pleasant land.

Listen to them sing it in the brilliant movie Chariots of Fire.

And of course the famous opening scene.

Tuesday 22 March 2011


I don't speak very clearly but here is my first videod interview I did for my university's alumni magazine. Also, the deal is for two books not three. Error. :)

Thursday 17 March 2011

Girl Power

This should be interesting. Chimamanda to moderate presidential debate. Let's hope she fires them well well. Read more here.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Green White Green

No matter the news I hear from Jos and of the political killings I read about as election day draws nearer, I'm optimistic for my country. It's part of our national constitution. Optimism flows in my blood. I've tried to be a cynic. Really I have but you can't fight blood. Naija dey bam bam.

Monday 14 March 2011

Change Gonna Come?

I just watched about 45 minutes of the Nigerian V.P debate (YouTube didn't have the rest) and my reactions are a little mixed. No doubt I enjoyed it. The candidates were well spoken, humorous at times and they offered their soundbites with a gravitas and sincerity that you don't encounter often in Nigerian politics. But at the end of the day, I couldn't escape that despire the packaging being more refined, I'd basically heard many of the statements before. Fighting corruption, we've been kung fuing the thing since 1999. Providing jobs, that one isn't exactly new either.

Also, there was a lot of PDP bashing and though some of it was very entertaining I felt that the candidates really lost an opportunity to expound on their policies by focusing so much on the ruling party. I wish somebody had said this is not about what the PDP hasn't done for you, this is what my party is going to do for you and this is how we are going to do it. One argument of course is that in such a debate, given that you have between 30 and 60 seconds to answer a question, there's not much time to expound on your policies but they didn't seem to have any problem summarising their vitriol against the PDP. At the end I knew what all three were against (PDP) but what exactly were they for? However, as I've said the PDP bashing was entertaining and here are some of the best instances of this.

"Great nations are not built on good luck." Pastor Tunde Bakare (CPC)

"Those who the gods want to kill they first make mad." Fola Adeola on the PDP. (ACN)

"I'm not concerned about the fanfare. It's a farewell party that PDP is having across the nation." Tunde Bakare on PDP's campaign.

"Flamboyant campaigns that look like beauty pageants." Chief Oyegun on PDP's campaign. (ANPP)

And my personal favourite just because its directness is almost sarcastic:
"The PDP are wicked. Get them out." Fola Adeola.

Unfortunately the PDP Vice Presidential candidate did not attend. And of course this was another opportunity for more bashing. Words like impunity, impudence and travesty were thrown around.

This is not to say that the candidates didn't have concrete policies.

"Amend the Constitution to remove immunity from prosecution from elected officers in criminal cases." Pastor Tunde Bakare on corruption. (CPC)

That however was the only concrete procedure I jotted down. I know there were more, Pastor Tunde Bakare talked about going back to a less oil based economy by developing agriculture, Chief Oyegun mentioned how religious violence had been practically combated in Kano State (the state where his principal was from) but all in all, I just got a sense of vagueness when it came to policies. When asked about corruption, the ACN candidate gave a proverb that says a fish spoils from the head so if he and his principal refuse to be rotten then their subordinates would follow their lead and so on and so forth. To me that just didn't seem concrete enough. The general vagueness of the debate was best exemplified in this statement about the Niger Delta made by Fola Adeola:

"Where there is no justice there is no peace."

It sounds good and it's certainly true but I would have preferred more concrete figures. What percentage of the budget are they going to devote to reversing the injustices done in the Niger Delta? How are they going to rehabilitate militants into society? What are the key issues they have identified in the area that if addressed will reduce tension drastically? Nothing on that from any of the candidates I'm afraid. Nothing.

I'll leave you with this and these were my final thoughts on the debate. Former military ruler and CPC presidential candidate Mohammed Buhari was purported to have said, Nigerians should go out and 'defend their votes.' Now what he meant by that was unclear, so the moderator (who was a good blend of forcefulness and charm) asked Pastor Bakare to clarify. He at first made matters murkier by alluding to the situations in North Africa without actually explaining if 'defend your vote' meant, defend your vote with violence. He then gave a closer to home example of this defence by narrating the story of what happened during a state election. Apparently, the people who manned the ballot boxes were surrounded by men with kegs of kerosene and matches in their hands so basically, there was no chance of a rigging.

This anecdote meant to inspire left me a little confused. Taking pictures of the voting process with your phone and not leaving the voting station until they have counted the votes all this is very well and good and I agree with this, but turning up with a keg of kerosene and box of matches at a polling station, surely this is just another example of the do or die politics that PDP is famous for.

Scenario 1:
There are men at the polling station with machetes, stopping me from casting my vote.

Scenario 2:
There are men at the polling station with kegs of kerosene protecting my vote.

Both situations look frighteningly similar to me. Both situations would make me consider staying at home on polling day and padlocking my gate. To be fair, the other two candidates were not as drastic in defining what they meant by defend your vote but I wish at least one would have stated clearly that their definition was exclusively non-violent. Arguably, Pastor Bakare's definition depends more on the threat of violence than actual violence but the election season is volatile enough.

And it's no good saying that the PDP have historically used violence in their election campaigns because you don't fight fire with fire as any fireman will tell you.

So in short, these are my thoughts on the VP debate. Watch it for yourself.

It was a shame that Vice President Sambo didn't show up because the three candidates might not have been so chummy otherwise. They were so united in their disgust for the PDP, they might have belonged to the same party, a point the moderator brought up.

The audience was too scanty.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Female Mechanics

On CNN a few days ago, there was a video about female mechanics in Nigeria. Glad that we had made the global news positively for once, I posted it on my facebook page and here are some of the responses.

1.This ain't rite(not being sexist) lool. Which guy wants a mechanic wife?????

2.Its better than having people out of job in a lawless society...where some women/men are struggling to feed their family. Who knows, maybe they can start their own businesses and employ some of the unemployed people. Just a thought.

3.Yes!!!!....women are becoming powerful!!!!......stop hating....

4.Times are hard sha. These babes will beat some guys oh!

5.I think a lady mechanic wife will come in handy.
a) She knows the value of money
b)She knows and feels the blood and sweat that goes into making money
c) She will be more kind on her husband
d) And she will be strong for all errm... purposes

I know why people would feel there was something subversive about women changing tyres. We've been told from birth that such things are 'a man's job.' But really, if we would only be rational. After all nobody came out of the womb knowing how to fix a carburettor. The things you learn are the things you can do. Professional ability has nothing to do with gender. Anyways, watch and see what you think.

Monday 7 March 2011

Sexual Harrassment

It was very casual in my old school. We used to call it quaving. Boys would run up to girls and smack their bottoms or prod them in the chest or rub their legs if they were sitting close to them. The reaction depended on the girl. Sometimes girls would scream, the very sensitive ones might cry later on and the feisty ones would hit back, slapping, kicking, maybe scratching. The reaction also depended on the boy. If the boy doing the quaving wasn't good looking or was socially a runt, he would most certainly get smacked for trying to quave a girl. However, if the boy in question was handsome or cool, then sometimes the girl would laugh it off and conversation would carry on as if male hands had not just grabbed her chest. You could never tell though. Sometimes even the most popular boys got rebuffed and they would retreat puzzled, maybe even angry. How dare a girl deny them?

One reaction that never happened though was reporting. If certain female teachers saw a boy harassing a girl, they would usually come down heavily on the side of the girl. Slapping, hitting, shouting, "Leave her alone!" But these ones couldn't be everywhere and the boys grew wise. You wouldn't dare try to quave a girl if Mrs. G was around. Some male teachers however, were more likely to come down on the side of the boy. Not that they would join them in the quaving (though a few instances of this did happen) but girls who got disturbed by boys because they had bigger breasts or rounder bottoms, were often picked on by male teachers. "Leave boys alone," was a common mantra directed at these girls. Even the female teachers, would sometimes slip into blaming these girls for always being targeted. For example they would berate them over the tightness of their uniform as if skinny girls with flat bottoms ever got disturbed as much, even though their trousers were skin tight. In short, if ever a girl got quaved too often, or suffered excessive male harassment, it was her fault. The boy was to be blamed of course but the girl was also culpable for having such a big bottom and then choosing not to wear looser clothes.

I wonder why girls didn't report instances of quaving more. Maybe it was because the girls were ashamed but I think it was more because girls didn't think it was a big deal. Someone steals your stationery, you report that. Someone takes your Maths notebook and rips it up, that's a reportable offence but someone places their hand on your chest without your permission, well that's just one of those things. Just one of the occupational hazards of being female.

I'm reading a book by Kat Banyard called The Equality Illusion and it's only after I read her descriptions of incidences of sexual harassment that I realised that what we called quaving and tapping current in my secondary school were really just misnomers for sexual harassment, the harassment of girls because of their physical characteristics.

Quaving is a game, I once heard a boy say. It was a lie that we believed.

Friday 4 March 2011

March is Here

Exams are coming.


Deadlines are closing.


But the sun is shining,

And the sky is smiling.

The spandex joggers have come out again,

And tourist chatter fills the trains.

Young girls bare their thighs,

Some men try to cover their eyes,

Most stare like they are seeing suya.

March is here for better and worse.
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