Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Pen Tales

No intro!

I've just been apprehended, interrogated, arrested and imprisoned for *clears throat* crossing the road! KMRCT (no yardie!)

Mugshot: Posing in pen
The fact my stint of notoriety barely lasted 45 minutes (film footage and all) is a reflection of how farcical the whole charade was. There's armed robbers and fraudulent government officials frolicking around the cuffs of law enforcement, yet it’s the meek road crosser that finds himself behind bars. *Sigh*

My Sins

Apparently I crossed the road despite the clear notice (which was actually hidden behind a ship container) that read:

"Do not cross here, use the bridge. Violators will be prosecuted!" 

So I was duly arrested and locked up.

Side Thought: For those thinking I deserved imprisonment for violating (without knowledge) a makeshift law, graciously receive three hefty konks from me to you via Bluetooth. Kind Regards.

I was asked by one of the officers if I wanted an early release. I kindly told him to piss off with the kindly insinuating I didn't actually utilise the terms piss and off consecutively (the guy was kinda hefty still). Rather "Ah oga, I beg, mi no get that kinda money oh" in a shameless attempt to mimic the locals (which he saw right through by the way). It's nuts if not discreetly reassuring to know N5,000 will buy your freedom in this country –  N500 follow do the job sef! They eventually released me on agreeing to partake in some menial labour raking the streets which were littered with some colourful specimens i.e. condoms, piss in pure water bags etc. Lovlaay!

Worthy deterrants

Laughable init! The nature of the predicament I found myself in was inherently Nigerian; it could only happen here. Imagine such unfolding in the UK? What would you say if an inmate asked you what you were in for – murder, armed robbery, fraud? "Nah fam, crossing the road init". You'll get raped for your troubles!

As ludicrous as it all seemed, such a forceful reprimand has acted as a healthy deterrant instilling a little fear in me. People seem convinced I'm hating Naija and the way I talk about her at times, it's not hard to see why. But truthfully I feel like the chick of a cheating and abusive boyfriend who bares the brunt of it all despite the plea's of others to leave. No matter how much she (as in Nigeria) offends me, I'll continue to firm it (or at least I hope I do). 

"I ain't mad, I don't wanna sound mad, I feel marvellous" (Phillips, J; 2004).

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Age no sabi anyting!

Age ain’t nothing but a number - unforgivingly synonymous with Aaliyah’s timeless classic, you’ll be excused for assuming I’m about to detail a declaration of love for a female 15 years my junior, blinded by the prospect of appealing to a far older man. Rather on the contrary, this has nothing to do with love. If anything it’s an account of how loveless life in Lagos is for the average destitute street kid. Every working day I hop on my bus witnessing deprivation on unprecedented levels but this is Nigeria isn't it so nothing new there right?

Side thoughts: I will never in my life make a mockery of London Transport again. If you see the CAT-Z, MOT-defying, tin cans they call buses around here, Kai! Majority of them are so corroded, they have panoramic views of the ground below but the policy here is if it still moves, it’s good to go – literally.

Harsh realities

What really tugs at the heartstrings are the visuals of kids no older than four or five, forced to hustle anyway possible to survive. This isn’t some monotonous rappers rags-to-riches story about the need to run trap houses to "survive in the hood". This is the genuine article, the real hustle in the dictionary-defined ghetto where the consequences of slacking could be fatal. 

A growing number of youths back in the UK are being siphoned into the benefit trap culture their parents fell foul to – many of whom have never seen their parents work a day in their lives. I mean, they don’t work and the government still cares enough to provide amicable benefit packages – some earning more than people’s working wages so what incentive is there to work? You see out here though, no one gives a shit. There’s no excuses not to try and earn a living be it age, health or physical ability. One guy, blind and without an arm came begging for money. Me being me kindly obliged only to be urged by a fellow commuter not to as in his words "he should hustle for the money like everyone else". Like a child being reprimanded I obeyed and watched helplessly as he moved on. 

It’s just funny how back home we complain of hard times when we're broke or working tiresome hours when really the reality of hard, impoverished times are so explicitly depicted in the young lives of kids on these unforgiving streets. The UK government, as reviled as they are provide more than enough support for those less fortunate. Would you ever see a five year old on his jacks in Westminster hocking Snicker bars and Evian water? Probably not but that’s the reality here and truth be told, I can’t see the situation changing. The cancerous nature of the Nigerian hierarchy will ensure the inequality gap that continues to plague the economy will continue growing for the foreseeable future. Harrowing times indeed, Omo, Naija sick oh but hopefully she'll get that dose of chemotherapy she needs to recover and fulfill the potential she clearly possesses.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


So it’s been a week since I left camp and I'm still buzzing. Not gonna lie on arrival I felt like leaving. The toilets (no flush) housed huge clumps of shit for the best part of three days and the mosquitoes were having KFC courtesy of my arms and legs, the culmination of which wasn’t helped by a tedious registration process. Needless to say the whole thing had me feeling indifferent about serving my country.

I'm a fighter though and I've spent too much time and effort trying to make this happen just to turn back at the first hurdle so I gritted my teeth and soldiered the full 21 days – exiat free (some indigenous Nigerian graduates I know can't say the same – I say no names).

Once I got passed the grimy toilets (the first mandatory dump always breaks the ice between batty and cubicle), the mosquitoes and 4.30am wake ups, I started to enjoy myself. Camp reminded me of my halcyon uni days; eat, sleep and slack when I felt like (speaking exclusively on behalf of Lagos Camp – can't vouch for the rest as I hear Corpers in other states were getting flogged for not cooperating).

Effervescent highlights include the infamous Mami (abbreviation for mini market apparently) – call it the student union of camp; food, drink, tailoring, salon, clothing. Most things you wanted, Mami had it. Camp wouldn't be camp without the imposing soldiers barking orders, the drills, camp commandant, 4am parade ground bugle and off course the new people I met.

Any UK Nigerians considering serving, I employ you to answer the clarion call (if but only for the 3-week orientation experience…you can 419 the rest).

If you feel it’s a waste of time YOU ARE WRONG! And with that I’ll end with the anthem:

Youths obey the Clarion call
Let us lift our nation high
Under the sun or in rain
With dedication, and selflessness
Nigeria is ours, Nigeria we serve!