Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Day 100

So it's been 100 days since I left the sunny shores of England (it was actually hot that day) and I'm feeling apathetic whilst slumped in a pensive frame of mind. In this century of days, my mentality has changed, perceptions transformed and opinions reverted.

On arrival, I recall failing to understand why the people around me could overlook the limbless beggar crying out for a little change - now I do!

As ashamed as I am to admit it, I've become accustomed to the endless pleas for money so much so I'm fully desensitized to it. The other day a blind woman was giving a pitch in the bus garage as to why she needed money and I didn't even flinch. Seeing it every day slowly kills the Samaritan in you until you snap at one for being overzealous in their approach. At that point you know sympathy is well and truly dead; I need forgiveness boy.

On a brighter note I have acquired some favourable attributes and made some telling observations in my maiden 100:

  • My pidgin's improving as in locals need to strain really hard to tell I'm not from round here.

  • My immune system has strengthened with all the mosquito bites I've endured and questionable foods I’ve consumed. I strongly believe I could back a mouldy, raw meat sandwich and salmonella wouldn't touch me.

  • That tale about Calabar women is untrue – it really applies to Igbo ladies!

  • I can confirm Yoruba's are the reason foreigners associate Nigerians with the terms loud and obnoxious – you lots mouths are too big!

  • 404 (in reference to people that eat wild Dog) is a term that applies to ALL Nigerians not just Akwa-Ibomites. The Igbo's and Yoruba's enjoy choping the doggy delicacy as much as my people do (I'm still a 404 virgin – RSCPA and all that).

  • I'm convinced I have Bat vision with all the improvising I do when NEPA takes light

  • Roadside service are sure to cater for practically anything from shoe repairs to toe-clipping services

  • There's a stigma attached to eating and drinking whilst on road. DON'T DO IT! Someone said it's to avoid dust mingling with whatever you're consuming but I'm sure there's some other spiritual ramification somewhere in that theory. Oh and if you hold bread in your hand on road without Nylon (or just a bag), it's assumed you're a mad man/woman.

  • I'm yet to find anything Lagosians hate more than 'hold up' (that's traffic to you Westerners). It's like a curse to them.

  • Haggling is a way of life – accepting the initial price is for suckers from jumping on Okada to getting a set of keys cut – NEVER accept the first price (except on public transportation or restaurants – they don't budge but you can specify your portion i.e. Jollof N50 or N100 portion).

  • The old adage 'patience is a virtue' clearly never reached these parts – waiting your turn is a myth! Push-in where you can, only mugu's wait to be served. That conservative Brit malarkey won't work out here. Etiquette and patience get no ratings so you have no other option but to emulate such behaviour to get by.

  • Ignorance (especially about Nigerian's from overseas) is rife. Non-exposed locals tend to believe we’re all stinking rich bastards being fed fish and chips by our Caucasian spouses.

  • UK-bred Nigerians are the stingiest, apparently.

  • In Lagos you can't move around for more than five minutes without seeing someone sporting football merchandise be it a jersey, window sticker or belt buckle.

  • Poverty has a short-term memory

  • Everyone's a suspect (including family members)

  • ALWAYS count your change

  • We have an unerring obsession with acronymic titles

  • The belief that Sachet water informally (and ironically) known as pure water is dangerous and anything but pure is a misnomer. It isn't that bad and with NAFDAC ensuring produce passes basic safety checks, the extra N45 you pay for 'safer' bottle water is to cover packaging costs.

  • Someone said Akwa-Ibom and Chinese people are related citing our similar intonation (i.e. The 'pong') and the fact most Akwa-Ibom men are vertically challenged – just like their Oriental counterparts. I’m slyly starting to see it *sigh*

Sure there's more but that's all I can think of at present - hopefully I'll grasp even more about Nigerian culture as time progresses. God spearing my life my double centenary will be on Thursday 19 January 2012. Let's go deya!

R.A.T.N (that's Relax And Take Note if you don't know): Just a big shout out to Aunty B and my Singing Soul Sistah who came over for hols. Good to see my peeps again even if it was only for a mere 14mins. Safe journey back!

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).

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!