Monday, 26 March 2012

This Lagos: Conflicting Emotions

There is something almost primal. About the excitement I feel when a conductor yells at a passerby. Oloshi! Oloriburuku! Why do I giggle? What's so funny?

There is something almost sinful. About the indifference I feel. When I pass by another able bodied beggar. Bloody opportunists.

There is something almost careless. About the pull that I feel.  To enter that buka and order that succulent looking ogufe. Bacterial nutrition.

There is something hilarious. About the flooded potholed streets I bounce across. Every  time I drive through one of the most expensive real estate in Africa. Nestled cozily on a Nigerian island. Come, lemme sell you a bridge that traverses the desert. loool

There is something almost Darwinian. About the pushes and shoves that I make. To enter that bus on a rainy day. The impatient dog  gets the meat, mehn.

There is something like a boiling rage that a feel. When that policeman uses his baton on that cripple. He tries to cross the street on his slab of wood with wheels. But he is in the way of his oga's heavily tinted Range Rover. Cripple-dom isn't blind-dom, is it?

There is something unjustly accusatory.  About what I feel. When I see that stupid, 20 something year old lady. Backing one, lapping two, pregnant with one or two or three. Who cares? Irrational breeding.

There is something sadly curious that I feel. When I pass by that 80 something year old woman. Seating in mud. A tattered - clothed beggar. Heck, where is her family?

There is something like a fear inside of me. When I see that little girl. Just budding into adolescence. Being ogled lasciviously by those dirty looking bastards. As she walks happily across the road. Oblivious. Oh Lord, please!

There is something almost surreal. About the way it seems. When I approach that area boy, strung out on weed, to ask for directions. He doesn't only show me the way, he walks me to my destination. He asks for nothing. 'Twaale mama' is all he says as he disappears into the night. Indescribable humanity.

There is something like a tug that I feel in my heart. When I see that boy who can't be over 8 years old. Hawking oranges as cars wheeze past him. Yet he laughs. As he successfully chases after a bus and collects his N50. Oblivious of the danger to his life.

This is something intriguing. With every sight and sound in Lagos. Something fascinating. Its that pull. That makes one both love and hate this place. Conflicting emotions.

23rd March 2012, 11:40pm   Pic: Anon

Monday, 12 March 2012

Reculer Pour Mieux Sauter

Pic: Getty Images

Reculer pour mieux sauter: You have to go back to jump forward. 

I came across this French saying over the weekend and me being me, my first instinct was to whip out my Blackberry and sharp sharp, Google its meaning, etymology and so on. Those who know me know, I don't like waiting to ask "what's the meaning?" when I can pronto, find the meaning by myself. 

But yesterday was different. There was an unusual sense of curiosity. I wanted to know for myself without re-coursing to help from anywhere. So, I took a pause and decided to find out for myself, what sense exactly, this saying made.

First, I took the literal route. I stood up and tried to take a big jump forward. I jumped forward, alright. Then I went back to the spot I was standing and took a jump again. Waoh! It was a big leap from the previous. Nothing had changed, only that the second time around, I took a few steps back before jumping. I tell you, the difference in the space I covered was massive! At that moment, it automatically made sense to me, why long jumpers sometimes bend their bodies backwards before the run off to take that long jump. I found out that by moving backwards before jumping, you gather extreme momentum. Reculer pour mieux sauter.

Trust me, once again, this set off a spark that got me thinking. There has got to be some sense to this seeming 'nonsense'. Fine, its literal application kind of tallies up, how does this saying apply in reality?

And so, I looked at it from some angles. In career decisions, reculer pour mieux sauter. For freshers like us, this may mean going back to take some seemingly mundane jobs just for the 'experience'. It may mean going back to the classroom to pursue a Masters degree or an MBA. It may mean rather than spending our hard earned salary for pleasure, we start to spend on building, attending conferences or on gaining that ICAN, CIPD, French language or Comptia  certification. It may mean that rather than browsing the internet for the latest Brangelina stories and hottest fashion trends and gossip, we start to avidly keep a tab on industry trends, on when that multinational company is going to advertise vacancies on and all. But all in all, reculer pour mieux sauter. To make that huge leap forward towards career advancement, we sure do have to go back to gather momentum.

Pic:Getty Images
I also thought back to relationships, friendships, good times. Moving on after the end. Reculer pour mieux sauter. And from this angle, it could be going back to that place of hurt and seeming loneliness and regrets and the feelings of 'perhaps if I had done this more'... 'maybe if I had been this way more'... All those places we had sworn never to return to, no matter what, no matter who. The places where we had dammed and told ourselves, we won't be bothered, but will keep moving on, come what may. But, reculer pour mieux sauter. Yes, moving on would for many of us, mean going back to these feelings and having to DEAL with them properly before leaping forward into the next amazing beginning which is sure to come our way.

Now, I'm a bit wary of trying to apply this thinking to government because when one says 'let's go back to jump forward', that is when we start to see bogus 'grassroots' programmes that are programmed to constantly offend our sensibilities. Still yet, reculer pour mieux sauter. And that may mean taking a lesson from history to restart our pre-oil means of economic sustenance, it may mean looking back to the Awolowo model of education which many of today's accomplished professionals richly benefited from. It may mean going back and starting from the nursery schools to make an investment into the future, 30 years from now. In the case of Nigeria though, we definitely need to 'give ourselves sense' while going back. Heck, already it seems like we keep going back to jump further backwards. loool.

Moving on, even from the business standpoint, the same holds true. Reculer pour mieux sauter. As I write, I'm casting my mind back to the various businesses I started while in the university. Selling hair extensions and my mini printing press. loooool. The money was good, yes it was. But reculer pour mieux sauter. And that sometimes meant casting off your aloofness to attract customers, making personal sacrifices to meet commitments, pleading with Toyosi to help get supplies from Vanaplus and having to cut back on sleep to attend to that customer who at 1am, just realized she hadn't printed off Mr. Wogu's "Which comes first: The chicken or the egg" assignment. *rolling my damn eyes* Infact, away from little me to the Dangotes and Dantatas of the world, reculer pour mieux sauter. No company is ever built from the top. And so, no matter how madly successful they are, they still have to go back a bit in order to launch forward sporadically. Be it going humbling themselves while going back to cut loan deals with banks, or in relentlessly chasing after the 1st class talent they would need to bring their companies to life, reculer pour mieux sauter.

And the list goes on and on.... Its amazing how this seeming nonsense saying has hugely added perspective to some of the things I see in life. This saying tells me, no matter the hurts and efforts and struggles of today, they are all but the winds beneath my wings which are sure to propel me forward magnificently. For in life, reculer pour mieux sauter.

11th March 2012   9:05pm  Pic: Image Bank

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Musings: This Civil Service Mentality!

And so, I've realized somehow that I've been bitten by the poetry bug of recent. Which is strange, because I had never really thought of poetry to be my thing.  I think the honest truth is that I've been lazy. loool. Too lazy to write in a coherent way. Poetry is easy to write. Your readers either understand it or they move on. Writing in prose form, not so easy. I would want for you to feel it like I feel it. Phew! Okay, I'm starting to have a hard time even explaining that part, so lets skip it.

Anyways, slowly but surely, I'm starting to get my groove back. And I'll like to share with you today, a part of my musings. How do these my musings come about? For me, loneliness/boredom isn't really an issue. Because guess what? I've got an imagination! I've got memories! I've got books. And when all else fails, heck, I've got sleep! loool. And so, at every opportunity, I watch and reflect. I listen to others and try to understand. I watch people and try to make sense of behaviours and actions.

And so, when yesterday I began to muse again, having inadvertently become part of the listening audience to this conversation between two women on a bus, I just knew I had to share it with you all. I wish I could write in as it was said in Yoruba, (its a lot sweeter that way) just that not all of you will understand. I'll do my best to translate the conversation to English.


"As I get to the office like this, me I'm going to kneel down for my oga o."

"Aaah its good like that o."

"Not with one leg o. Two legs. I will use my two legs to kneel down and I'll explain to her. I woke up 5:30. Before I make food for my husband and children. Before I prepare the children for school. Before I drop them and start coming to work."

(shaking head from left to right) "Hmmnnnn"

"Me like this, its 7 o'clock I left the house o. 7 o'clock. But the traffic that hooked once I got to.............. Its not the first time I will be kneeling down for my oga o. There is nothing there."

At this point I had just become aware of a stupid smile that had formed across my face. I wiped it off with alacrity and rearranged my face. lool. This conversation isn't a funny matter at all. Shhhh... lemme listen more...

"Me sef, I do it. There is nothing there. It is not good for one to be too proud. The people at my office always say it is people like me that spoil the ogas. But me ke? There is nothing there. Pride is not good. Infact, there was one time like this my boss was hungry and there was nobody to buy her food. Her omo ise (office assistant), that one was heavily pregnant. That's how I said, 'bring the money ma'. She said no oooo! that aaaah! I said 'please ma, bring the money. There is nothing there."She sha gave me. That's how I went to buy the ofada rice for her that she ate. Me I don't see it as anything o. Pride is not good."

"Exactly. The way you went to buy it ehn, that is what is good o."

"It is true, now. Infact, the way I am looking at it, its like as I enter the office today, I'll just go straight to my boss' office and kneel down and beg too. Because it is already 10 o' clock........"

And on and on and on and on....

At this point, I had unsuccessfully tried to keep the smile off my face. Funnily enough, this was somehow not funny to me. I  think I was caught between two conflicting emotions.

Yet I smile.
I smile because, dang, these women are hilarious! I smile because, I can definitely relate. Having "served my nation" for 1 year in the civil service environment. And i know she wouldn't forget me in a hurry. I'll call her "she". She wouldn't forget me in a hurry. looool. She who said I should stop wearing trousers to work; as it was against Civil Service Code! *shocked face* lwkmd! She who said my 'inactions' were rude. And I should try to 'fratenize' with them more, or am I feeling too big?. (Read: flock more around her and run to carry her bag every morning and smilingly listen to her crap and take all her BS) Me!!! loool. No, she wouldn't forget all my actions and 'inactions' in a hurry. Sorry, I digress...

And so, yes I relate. I relate with where these Civil Service women are coming from. That Civil Service environment.

Still yet, I am angry.
Does the environment we are in play a part in shaping us? Yes it does. A vital part, infact. Yet, I believe there are basic standards every individual must craft for him/herself and hold on to. Respect for SELF; respect for others being one. Yes I may want to prove to my oga that I respect him/her by kneeling down to beg., But in the process, am I really respecting myself? What ever happened to explaining yourself and offering a sincere apology? Kneeling down in the work environment? Ha!

I'm angry at the way I see working mothers use children and family to excuse poor judgement. Even when it is not needed. Perhaps I judge too harshly because I am not in their shoes. Still yet, it really does irk me when women make other workers carry their slack at work because, sob, sob, I'm married and I have children. I wish I could tell them straight up, You made that decision for yourself, stfu and deal with it!

Need I even touch on the quality of company you keep and its role in shaping your actions? Classic example above.

I'm angry at this Civil Service environment. And the utter lack of professionalism. Haba, I know the setting now. Workers eating beans, dodo and fish at their desk. Fanning themselves with loose sheets of paper as there is no light. Women wearing iro and buba to work on a Monday. Stacks of dusty files on the table. Crass inefficiency all around. I could beat Encyclopedia Britannica writing on this. I will pause for now. I just wonder, why is our case like this? After all, Jack Bauer too was a Civil Servant na! Loooool.

All in all, I think the Civil Service environment, infact, life in general would ALWAYS push us to answer the question: "How low can you go?" And there are many variants of this. Just how much are you willing to take? Just how high are you willing to fly? How deep would you sink? How far will you go to prove whatever? And as I think through all these questions, I feel it is the me in me that must always determine whatever response I give and actions I take regarding these. To hell with the environment.

Pheew! Gotta go sleep now, so I wouldn't also have to kneel down with my two legs tomorrow morning. Looolest! Chao........

P.S: I was on my way to work from the bank o! Not from home o! heheheheheee

6th March 2012, 10:29pm Pic: Google Images

Thursday, 1 March 2012


I've never really had much of a relationship with him. And honestly, after a while I stopped bothering. But that does not still the feeling of longing I have for him. For a connection, for a conversation, for a kind smile.

It has been a warped existence for us both. For me, it has been one mired with hurt, anger and frustration I feel towards him. Perhaps I simply misunderstand. Or perhaps, more likely, I don't have the patience. Or it could be that my preconceived prejudices still chain me. Still yet, I long for a connection with him.

I wish I could tell him - how much I admire him so. How much I respect his integrity and the values that he stands for. How much he has shaped my sense of morality. The knowledge I have that I can stand firm because he did so even when mocked by many. How much I appreciate his efforts and sacrifces. How much I wish things were a lot different between us. How much I love him. God knows I love him so much, though of him I know so little.

I hope there comes a time - when all the dust has settled and the breeze of calm blows. When we come to a place of peace in our hearts with one another. And become more understanding and tolerant of each other. Where we can laugh together and make easy conversation with true respect for each other. Where we are truly happy. Truly really happy.

Oh, how I long for such a time.
Till then, may God bless and keep Him.

(Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody - Mark Twain)
29th Feb. 2012 11.03pm Pic: Getty Images