Sunday, 24 August 2014

Different Strokes

My friend, Ifeoma just relocated to Nigeria after a long sojourn in the UK. We met for lunch at a restaurant in Lagos. I studied her carefully as we sat down while waiting for the waiter to take our orders. I had not seen her in ages and I was weary about this meeting because of the general attitude of Nigerian returnees to other Nigerians. I was pleasantly surprised at her disposition. She appeared relaxed and it was as if she never left the country unlike some of my other friends who suddenly developed an attitude because they had lived abroad for a while. As we took our seats the waiter approached us  to take our orders.
“How long will that take?” I asked.
“Thirty minutes” the waiter answered politely.
“That means one hour” I responded sarcastically.
“No o madam it will only take thirty minutes.” The waiter said confidently.
“I will remind you when you bring it later than thirty minutes”. I replied smiling.
The waiter left after taking our orders.

“Why did you do that?” Ifeoma asked
“Oh! Don’t mind me. It is more of preparing myself for the delay. I hate to wait for anything. He has said thirty minutes anything after that will get me worked up but I have told myself one hour so it doesn’t really matter. I won’t agitate until an hour.” I explained
“Interesting” Ifeoma said. “So you mean it may take up to an hour?” She asked
“It may and may not but the truth is most waiters don’t have sense of timing and in order to placate the customer, they give you any time that comes to their head.” I said knowingly.
We nursed our drinks.

“So how does it feel to be back home?” I asked after a while. This wasn’t  her first time back since she left about 20 years ago. But she, like many Nigerians, who left the country in the '80s, are coming back to  Nigeria to stay for good.
“The weather is killing.” She said. “But it is expected. Takes getting used to though.”
“Apart from the weather?” I asked
“The change takes getting used to but I really don’t want to complain. I decided to come back.” She said shrugging.   

“I really wish people will stop fussing over me though. I can’t find my way around true but I hate to feel as if something evil will happen to me the moment I step out alone. I was born here and I lived here for 25 years before I traveled so I can’t understand the fuss.” She complained
“The Nigeria you left twenty years ago is different now you know. I mean the crime rate is high and night life is not safe at all.” I said trying to explain people’s reaction
“Ose, there is crime everywhere. Nigeria is not the worst place in the world. I remember when I first got to UK, my bag was snatched at West End. My sister and I went shopping.  She had warned me about hanging my handbag loosely and I was like please, I lived in Lagos before I got here. Before  I could spell my name,” she napped her fingers together “my bag was napped I was so surprised. We  have been brain washed to believe that crime doesn’t happen in those places.” She said amused.
“I know what you mean but then a lot has changed in this country.” I said
“ It’s irritating the way people fuss over me. I know they are being nice but I simply find it difficult to get used to.” She said smiling. “They struggle with me to carry my bag, pick after me, I can’t even make my own meals.” She said exasperated.  “Who cares about all that in London. My neighbours and I hardly see each other. I am sure I might not  recognise them on the street. The warmth here is good but overwhelming. I went to see my mum the other day. My God!” She said rolling her eyeballs, bemused.
“She invited the whole neighbourhood to come and greet you right?” I said laughing.
“Oh yes! It wasn’t funny at that time” It was as if she had told the whole village that I was arriving that day.” Ifeoma started laughing, shaking her head in amusement.  “I couldn’t believe it. It was like I was on display and by the following day, she started distributing stuff I got for her to them. The three days I spent was suffocating to say the least.” She cackled.
“You know we are very warm people. This is our culture.” I replied laughing too. I could just picture the scenario.
“I know” She said shaking her head “but maybe I have been away for too long. It’s a totally different culture I am used to now but I intend making the best of it if I don’t get crazy before I get used to it”.

“I know what you mean” I said to her. “My uncle once told me a story when he went to UK for a course. He made friends with a British and they were quite close. Sometime during the period he was there, his friend lost his father. My uncle went with him for the funeral and after the event, my uncle handed him an envelope containing some pounds. His friend was extremely upset with him when he found out the content of the envelop. He said ‘Victor you insult me. Why are you giving me money? No please I can’t take this' he said as he returned the envelope  to my uncle and walked away angry. My uncle was extremely embarrassed and stood there with his mouth agape, not knowing if he should pocket the envelop or not. To make matters worse all eyes were on him so he quietly walked away not understanding his friend’s reaction. Few days later, he saw his friend and tried to explain it as part of African culture. We love to support our own on any occasion.” I narrated
Ifeoma burst out laughing. “Poor man” she said. “I can imagine how he might have felt.”
“He said the first shock he had when he got to the funeral was that  just finger foods, tea and coffee  were served at the reception. Coming from Nigeria, he couldn’t understand it. We throw big parties!” I said giggling.
“I remember also my first experience with snow.” Ifeoma said. “I had gone to the pay phone to make a call. I noticed people were running and I wondered why. I opened the door of the pay phone and I saw white flakes. I didn’t understand what it meant so I started running. I ran for dear life back to my sister’s house. I was out of breathe by the time I got to her apartment. My sister asked me what the problem was. I pointed towards the window as I was too breathless to talk. She looked out and noticed that everywhere was white. ‘Oh it’s snowing’ she said. ‘Quite early this year I must say’. I looked at her and started laughing. I laughed so hard because I thought the world had ended.” She giggled.
“Oh mine!” I exclaimed laughing too.
“I felt foolish when I realised my errors.” She laughed again
“Talking about foolishness,” I said lowering my voice. “I recall my first visit too. I was inside the London bus and I was perplexed at how I would indicate that I had reached my bus stop. I noticed there was no conductor and no one calling out the names of the bus stop. I was so worried and I didn’t want to show off my ignorance. So, I sat there praying fervently that someone will probably drop at the same place with me. Someone pressed the bell and I got down at where I had assumed was my stop. I mean I was coming from Lagos where the conductor calls out the bus stop and no bell to press.” I said chuckling.
“So was it the right bus stop?” Ifeoma asked
“No o! I realised I was at the wrong place and I had to wait for another bus. I mean I was silly. I could have asked someone but it was my first time in London and I was a bit uncomfortable with the way I was being stared at.”
“I guess that’s probably how Europeans felt  when they too came to Nigeria back then. I remembered when my cousin came back with his wife in the '70s. He brought her to the village to see my folks. The villagers came out to in drove to look at the strange woman their son brought from obodo oyinbo. The children sang for her and also tried touching her. Then one day, she and my cousin decided to have a picnic at an open field in the village. She had on a bikini and the whole village came out to see a naked white woman.“ Ifeoma said laughing.
“Poor woman.” I said sympathetically
“Oh! That was the last time they tried that nonsense. My father had to explain to my cousin and the wife that the village is not UK and that people are not used to seeing naked bodies.” She said
“I guess it is different strokes for different folks. What we consider as strange is norm somewhere else.” I said smiling
“ You are right.” Ifeoma said. “My American classmate when I did my second degree, had a Nigerian boyfriend. She came to me fuming one day because she felt her Naija boyfriend had insulted her.”
“What happened?” I asked curious.
“My Naija brother bought her a blender as a birthday gift. She was so furious because she had expected bunch of flowers and box of chocolate or a candle light dinner. The guy came with a blender.” Ifeoma recounted.  We burst out laughing. I almost choked on my drink as I could imagine the perplexed look on the poor guy’s face.
“The poor guy must have been thoroughly embarrassed.” I said still laughing. “Nigerian guys don’t have any romantic bone in their bodies. That’s why they think of giving out the useful and essential gifts. What is it with chocolate or bunch of flowers. Please!” I said chuckling.
“I had to explain to Louisa, my American friend that the guy meant no harm. I told her that most Nigerian girls will  probably not appreciate a gift of box of chocolate anyway. Louisa was shocked but eventually they made up.” Ifeoma said laughingly.
We kept quiet as I thought of the differences in culture and the way of life.

“I wish there is electricity though. I was told things have improved but really…”she said shaking her head. I think we Nigerians are so used to blackout that it has become more of norm than an anomaly.” Ifeoma said interrupting my thoughts. “ I remember sometime again when there was a blackout in my area of London. It was not funny. It was in the middle of the night. I was so scared. I ran to switch off all appliances. I took the key to my house and sat down by the door near my kids' room ready to bolt any second. I was so worried. Electricity was restored almost immediately but everybody was in panic. At least I sat in my house but my neighbours were on the street.” She said.
 “I guess you are right. We just got used to not having electricity and we think it is normal. Meanwhile you experienced one blackout in over ten years of living in UK and you guys were scared silly.” I said deeply in thought. “It’s sad. One shouldn’t get used to a bad experience". I said solemnly. “In fact we get worried once electricity gets frequent as if it is an omen that something evil may soon occur.” I said shaking my head forlornly

“Your meal madam.” the waiter served our food quietly. “ Madam I brought your food within thirty minutes,” he said mischievously.
“I guess you did.” I answered smiling.
“Enjoy your meal ma.” He said bowing slightly as he left us.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Tit for Tat

“Auntie can you imagine what the Pastor said to us at the marriage counselling session today?” Foluso asked as she started cooking dinner.

 “No” I answered. I leaned on the door watching her chopping pepper, onion and tomato with expertise of a fine cook. Foluso loved to cook and you can’t take it away from her, she did it very well. I watched her silently waiting for her to continue her story. She washed her hands in the sink and turned to look at me.

“The Pastor told us of a woman whose husband was a philander. He was never at home but spent most of his free time chasing after young girls.” She narrated. Foluso and Alex, her fiancĂ© were preparing for marriage so they go for marriage counselling every week. She would come back from these sessions telling me about what the counsellor for that week told them. Most times, she found the sessions amusing believing that most of what they were told were archaic and cannot stand modern day situations.

 “The fact of his activities was not hidden from the wife.” She said as she continued with her narration. “But she never challenged her husband but prayed to God that He should change her husband. The more she prayed, the worst the husband became. According to our Pastor, one day the husband came home with his girlfriend and told his wife that they were going to have a threesome.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

“Yes o.” She answered.

“So what did she do?” I asked.

“She did not argue with her husband but asked the woman if she wanted to shower and showed her the bathroom.” Foluso said

“Really,” I said in disbelieve.

“She also offered the lady a nightie and  asked if the girlfriend wanted anything to eat.” She said laughing.

“So what happened?” I asked in anticipation of a dramatic reaction from the wife.
 “The girlfriend finished taking her bath and came to the sitting room where the couple waited for her. The man jumped up excited and told his wife to proceed to the room.” She continued.

 “And?” I asked.

“The girlfriend carried her bag and told the man that he was a wicked man who had no respect for his wife. She left despite the fact that the wife warned her that it was too late. She also offered the use of the guest room for the night.”

“Interesting” I said finding it difficult to believe that any woman will be that calm in the face of outright disrespect. I was dumbfounded listening to Foluso.

“So what now happened between the man and his wife?” I asked.

“Ha! According to pastor o, hmmm, the man for the first time in years then realised how beautiful his wife is after the girlfriend had insulted him. He apologised to her and became a good husband thereafter. She said cynically.

“Please!” I laughed sarcastically. “How convenient for the foolish husband to change at this point.”

“Well, the real gist is that Pastor now asked me in the presence of Alex what I would do?”

“What was your response?” I asked curious.

“I told Pastor that I will simply invite my own boyfriend for a threesome too.” She replied.

“Ah! I shouted. How can you say that?” I asked chiding her.

“Auntie, my motto is tit-for-tat. Whatever the devil that will make my husband have the effrontery to bring his girlfriend home, ha! He should be prepared that I will definitely get back.” Foluso said vehemently.

“But Foluso, no marriage can survive on that principle.” I advised.

“Ha! Men too should learn to respect their wives, and most especially the sanctity of marriage. If he is not willing to make the marriage work, why should I? Auntie, it takes two to tango. If it fails, we both failed.” She said fervently.

“I agree that the sanctity of marriage should be respected and honoured. But you know there is no tit-for-tat in marriage that is if you don’t want a broken marriage.

“Auntie Please o!” She said forcefully.

“Anyway, what did the pastor say after you said this? I asked still shocked at her response.

“He looked at me in disbelief and shook his head.” Foluso laughed.

“Alex?” I asked.

“He knows me. He knows that I don’t take nonsense.”  She smiled knowingly.

I looked at her in amazement as she went back to her cooking. I truly wondered what the future holds in stock for her and Alex.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Putting the Record Straight on the Death of Olaiya Fagbamigbe

We, the children of late Olaiya Fagbamigbe are writing this article in response to the centre page news story of the Sunday Sun Newspaper of June 1, 2014 titled “How 1983 Ondo Guber Poll Fraud Sparked People’s Revolt” written by Tunde Raheem.
We have reframed from saying anything for decades about the gruesome murder of our dear father, on August 16, 1983, a week before his 55th birthday, not because we don’t have facts that led to his murder but because we believe that it would not bring him back neither would it replace all the things we lost. The one million dollar question is, who will judge – are they not the same people who killed him? However, we now believe that since the likes of Mr. Tunde Raheem would not let sleeping dog lie, it’s now imperative for us to respond. We are fed up with the constant lies.
The interesting thing is that every attempt to soil his name simply tells the world that Olaiya Fagbamigbe, our father, was and is still an important figure, a force that cannot be ignored in politics, who almost 31 years after his death, is still strongly talked about. People die and are forgotten. Some die and people around them joyfully announce their departure. But to the glory of God, our father whose life was maliciously and gruesomely terminated in 1983 is still such an important point of reference in the history of politics. If not so, why the lies? Why the need for cover up?

Our father was a renowned member of the UPN. Our father defected from UPN not out of greed or selfish interest as it’s often subtly portrayed but because he was a man of peace and integrity and it was difficult for him to work with people who lacked those qualities. According to Mr Tunde Raheem, in his article, the 1983 riot was spontaneous but this is untrue as the gruesome murder of our father and others affected was a well-orchestrated plan by those who wanted our father dead. For example, months before the primaries, our father was shot by gunmen in the hip area while visiting a relative. There were three people in the car. The man mistaken for our daddy: uncle Ire, was shot in the head. Thank God he is still alive today.  

When these victims arrived at the General Hospital Akure, they were turned back because of a prior instruction not to treat people with gunshot wounds. A few days before the primaries, a prominent member of the UPN was arrested for producing fake UPN cards (one of us saw this party member arrested). These incidents were reported to the leadership of the party and no action was taken. After all these atrocities, our father and quite a lot of prominent UPN members in Ondo, Oyo , Lagos and Ogun states walked out of a UPN National meeting and never looked back. If other things were involved, well Olaiya Fagbamigbe is not here to talk about it but those still alive who knows the story especially those involved might decided to come out with the TRUTH. But we have stated it here as it is known to us.

 Also, on the night of August 13th, 1983, the night of the gubernitorial election, an attempt was made three times before daybreak to burn our house at 11 Methodist Church Road, Gbogi, Akure.
 A distant relative who heard about the plan, brought thugs to our house to protect us. Our father argued against allowing the thugs to guard the family but after so much argument, he allowed a handful of them whom he sent parking first thing the following morning. Our entire family would have been burnt to death in our sleep that night. This is the only time any of us ever saw thugs in our house. This attempt was not made by dissatisfied members of the public since they had voted that day and the result had not been announced.  Was this spontaneous?
Months before the August 16 1983 incident, a campaign of condolence to the people of Akure was launched by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He would say e ku isehinde Olaiya  Fagbamigbe etc. This was aired on Ondo State Television. The State Radio and Television stations were instruments of campaign by the Ajasin administration.

When a hit list was shown to our father by concerned Akure indigens, he reported at the police station and a one-man-police-protection was given to us. He also wrote an article in the newspaper stating that his life was in danger.
On the morning of 16th August, 1983, visitors including our uncle Pa Oni Fagbamigbe and his friend visited our home very early in the morning as usual. We were at the balcony when we noticed an unusual crowd at the junction of the street and before one could say Jack Robinson, mob of people appeared from all angles matching towards our house. Our father instructed one of us to call the police but when eventually one of the officers answered the phone, he said ‘we don’t have a vehicle now if you make your way to the police station, we will protect you.’ This, he repeated to our father.   Our father dropped the phone and expressed grief saying that he had been betrayed. If it was a spontaneous reaction, how come police men were not detailed to our house after the call?

While we were still considering our options, a neighbour frantically told us that our house had been set ablaze from precisely our father’s room. Our father instructed us to run for our dear lives.   We begged him to come with us but he would not burg because he wouldn’t want the death of his brother, the visitors and supporters who lived on the street on his conscience. He wanted to be sure that they all escaped to safety.
We ran until we got to the front of an old man’s house not too far from our house. One of the tenants took us in but before we could settle, the thugs came after us, threatened to burn the man’s house down if he didn’t produce us.  We managed to escape to the bush because our mother was caught. It was while we were in the bush that we heard the gruesome details of how our father was killed. Was this as a result of a spontaneous reaction? We were not politicians but students at that time so why the attempt on our lives?  Interestingly, while in the bush, we heard that they were instructed to wipe out the whole family especially the first born by a man who complained bitterly about how oga will not be happy that we were not killed.  Was this spontaneous Mr. Raheem?

Our mother was beaten, forced to drink petrol and was about to be burnt alive when in a miraculous way, God saved her. She is alive with a sound mind to describe those who wanted to kill her. These people had tribal marks. Akure people don’t wear tribal marks. So where did these people come from? Our mother was not a politician but a teacher and her only crime was to have married a politician so why the attempt on her life?
If Mr Tunde Rahmeen had wanted to write a comprehensive report, he could have done his research and read our mother’s account in the interview she granted Hope newspaper which was published on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 or better still, interview our mother who had been living in Akure since 2004.  The reporter claimed he interviewed one Pa Ola Falodun who gave him an account of what transpired on the morning of August 16, 1983.  This Pa Falodun could not have lived at Methodist Church Road in 1983 or up on till 5years ago when we pulled down the burnt and dilapidated house (not 2013 as reported by Mr Rahmeen).

The house adjacent to our house was owned by Mr Okoro. Beside us to the left is a Jehovah Witness Kingdom hall. To the right, was a house owned by Iya Ondo, to our opposite was the house owned by Baba and Iya Ojo and adjacent was the Okoros. There was no Pa Falodun living close to us at that time as claimed by Mr. Raheem. Neither did this Pa Falodun’s photograph in the Sunday Sun newspaper bear resemblance to anyone living on Methodist Church Road at the time.  Also, the piece of land published in the newspaper is not our property in Gbogi. 
We are proud of our father and his achievements.  He was probably burnt alive as we do not have a definite account of how he was killed but one thing is sure, the memory lives on. History may have been re-written in Ondo State and those who have re-written it may be finding ways of convincing the entire world of their lies, but for us, it doesn’t matter. The enemies of Akure and Ondo State dead or alive might be celebrated today as the elder statesmen, it doesn’t matter.  We knew our father. Those who knew him and have not compromised or have not been intimidated would speak the truth given the opportunity.

Some people are bigger than death, they never die. Our father might be dead but his memory lives on.   

Olaiya Fagbamigbe’s Children  

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Gang Rape of a Nation

She has been stripped
Humiliated and beaten
All she possesses has been forcibly taken
Violated and shamed
How could this happen?
Those who know better have turned their faces away 
Or worse have joined in the madness
The gang rape of a  nation.

It started from the time she was born
She stood no chance
Wave after wave after wave
The onslaught has been relentless
Each generation proclaiming themselves her saviour  
But each time each it has always been a failure
Her so called rescuers 
Having seen her beauty    
Allow the allure of her splendor and richness to seize them 
With that madness the onslaught begins again.
The striping of her body and soul 
The gang rape of a nation
When she was born her people were filled with joy 
They all marveled at how regal and majestic she was. 
A sight to behold, they were proud and ecstatic 
But now this same beauty is seen as a curse 
For no matter the intent of her rescuer 
This soon changes and savagery takes over
She cries out but no-one seems to care
Young and old alike in their pursuit of her
Take leave of their senses and brutalise her
The gang rape of a nation.
There she is broken and bent
Her mother looking on powerless
As she struggles helpless
From the birth of the nation till now
The gang rape has never abated
When is this madness going to end?
Mothers where are you? Have you no voice?
Fathers where are you? Can you not protect?
How long is this to continue?
Will she survive this continuous violation
The gang rape of a nation.

By: IF Anumonye

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Turbulence of Love

We sang the songs of sorrow
And danced to the mournful tune
Where did the promise go
To hold and to keep?

Life is but a motion
Since you left without a word
I gave you my heart in worship
You threw it back in pieces
I gave you my love freely
You accepted it without passion
Now the reality is obvious
The past was placed on the altar of worship

I am caught in the turbulence of love
The pang of pain is potent
My heart, trapped in the sham of love
Mourning the phoney love
I am like a ship without the rudder
Sinking in the turbulence of love.

image: coursey Google image

Thursday, 24 April 2014

I Take Every Step

© Copyright Jan Richards All rights reserved

I take every step gingerly
Like the careful step of an old woman
With dry and brittle bones
I take every step though difficult
I must forge ahead

I take every step
Bent and beaten by the issues of life
Head raised high, refused to be defeated
Like a man in command

I take every step
Trying not to look back
I must keep on moving
Irrespective of what life
Throws my way

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Message in the Bottle

I sat by the window pane
Watching the world go by
Thinking about unfulfilled dreams
So many questions to ask
Yet no answers
My heart heavy with the burden
My eyes heavy with unshed tears
I feel all alone
Bearing this burden
Then I heard the whispers of the song
That confirms am not alone in this journey
Those hundreds of letters
That came back

With the message in the bottle

Photograph is courtesy photograph is an art and the LG...Rhythms