Every Day, Always

Tags

, , ,

I met MI yesterday and he was nothing I expected. This post is for him. Heck, this entire October post-every-day challenge is for him because he succeeded in making me want something really badly and this is one way to getting it. (I’m going to try and post fresh stuff so forgive my sometimes ramblings).

 

The smell of dodo tickles my nose and ushers me into wakefulness. The living room is dark and there’s wetness on my chin where I dribbled. I wipe it and stretch. There’s nothing like sleep on a Saturday after a long week of looking inside people’s mouths. I make my way towards the kitchen where a sliver of light emanating from the partly open door tells me Ekene is responsible for the scent that woke me up.

The door swings on quiet hinges as I walk into my kitchen and wrap my arms around his waist.

“When did you come in?” I nuzzle his neck.

“Bia, stop cleaning your mouth on my body.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning, the ogbolo you ate in your dream that you’re using style to clean on my neck.”

“I don’t see you moving away, yeye boy. Answer me, abeg. And why didn’t you wake me?”

“Because you looked like your meeting was going too well and I didn’t want to disturb you and…” he turns around in time to catch the hand I was about to pinch him with, “I’ve been around long enough to fry enough plantain for the beans you cooked.”

I spy the used plate and spoon in the sink and smile. “The beans you’ve eaten half of abi?”

He laughs, revealing the chipped tooth that had brought him to my office that first time two years ago. He lets me wriggle out of his arms, patting my butt as I reach for plates and spoons. He dishes the food in silence. More plantain for me, more beans for him. I walk ahead of him; the darkness doesn’t deter me from finding our spot in front of the couch. He flicks the light switch on as he enters the room, cup and bottle of water in his hand.

The dodo is well done, dark brown just short of being burnt, how I like it. The beans is mushy, with small pieces of bonga fish; how he likes it. The prayer is short. Bless this food oh Lord for Christ’s sake, amen.

“I wouldn’t mind eating beans and plantain for breakfast,” Ekene says as he shovels beans into his mouth.

“And lunch.” I blow on a piece of dodo before biting it.

“And dinner. Every day.” He avoids my eyes, concentrating on chewing soft beans.

“For the next fifty years?”

His eyes light up as he looks at me. “Nah. Seventy at least.”

I lean towards him, knocking the bottle of water over. “I’ll call my parents tomorrow,” I whisper before I kiss him.

beans and dodo

 

 I am a huge fan of The Devil’s Dictionary, so in addition to the regular posts I’ll be defining a word each day. You can suggest words in the comment box. Cheers

Crush: Someone who has your mumu button for a period of time without even knowing they have it.

 

Kill the Laughter

Tags

, , ,

An important part of growing up for me was the teasing matches we had. It was an opportunity to show how creative you could get. Many nicknames arose from those sessions. Size didn’t matter, age didn’t matter. If you chose to take part, then you were fair game. There was always the warning of “if you know say you go cry, no follow talk o.” We also had an unwritten rule that you didn’t beat someone up just because they gave you a good ‘wording’. Try it and you got excommunicated from the community of neighbourhood children.

If I were to have been born in the last ten years, this activity would have been labeled harmful to my self-esteem and the kids involved would have been termed ‘bullies’ (I wonder how that would have worked because it’d have meant we would all be victims and perpetrators at the same time).

That was before I came into contact with ‘Political Correctness.’ I couldn’t say the truth about someone to them because “you just don’t say stuff like that to someone’s face.” But it was okay to say it behind their backs. Or I had to wrap what I had to say under layers and layers of polite sounding words. Now, the line between being blunt/truthful and rude is a wriggly one. But I believe that hardwired into every human being is the ability to sieve through information and know when someone is ridiculing you because they’re petty and when they’re not. Unfortunately, that ability, along with the one that detects bullshit, seems to be fast disappearing from humans. I listen to conversations among my peers and read discussions on social media and I’m sad. We’re so busy making sure we don’t step on anyone’s toes we’ve become great at dancing around the truth. Take ‘fat’ for instance. A more acceptable word is ‘big-boned’. I wonder where the bones are when all I can see is jiggling. Unless bones jiggle. Someone makes a grammatical error and you correct them and you’re the bad guy because well, poor grammar is cool (in the name of text speak).

All of a sudden, I feel like I’m surrounded by too many sissies; sissies that can’t take the truth, even when it’s presented as satire, which is interesting when it’s done right. It’s fresh, funny and truthful. Not everyone gets it but what annoys me is when someone gets that what he is reading is satire and still proceeds to leave a scathing comment; either insulting the writer or warning against ‘corrupting the next generation.’ Why pay money for tickets to a comedy show if you’ll end up looking for reasons not to laugh?

But we have to protect the weak among us. It’s one of the things being adults is about, having an internal filter so you don’t inadvertently hurt others with your words (or drive them to suicide). I understand this, and I accept that diplomacy, as tasteless as the word is in my mouth, is an important part of our lives. Let’s not however in the name of being diplomatic take all the fun out of words, all the joy out of jokes. Let’s not become the people that find something funny but have to look around to see if others are laughing before we laugh.

NOTE: 1) Bullying is a terrible thing and I don’t condone it among children or adults. 2) Hiding a wicked intent to hurt someone or make them feel bad behind honesty is a no no. 3) There are people who are overweight because of health issues, I recognise that. 4) There are people who can’t speak ‘good English’ because they didn’t have the opportunity for formal education like I did, I recognise that 5) There are some really bad jokes and really bad satire. Even I would tell the writer/comedian off; without resorting to insults. 6) I hope I’ve covered all my bases, if I haven’t please feel free to point them out.

Not The Usual Suspect

Tags

, , , , ,

OR GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH OR MY TRIP TO SONGHAI, ENUGU

I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And I want to share my experience and some pictures (mostly green stuff).

As a farmer’s daughter I have a deep love for growing things, and whenever I visited my dad as a teenager I always enjoyed sharing his pet projects, be it rabbits, pigs, snails or trying to grow an apple tree (that one didn’t quite work out). One of the memories that stand out the most for me was transferring seedlings of palm trees into a mixture of cow dung and soil which I had mixed by hand. No, it wasn’t because of the smell (dry dung doesn’t smell), it was because at that moment I was as close to being a part of creation as I could possibly get. So when I suggested to Chris that we go to Songhai Farm in Enugu and he said yes, I was ecstatic.

I can be clueless sometimes about directions and distances, but coming from Awka, along the Enugu/Onitsha expressway, the farm is on the left side of the road. Here’s the sign. You can’t miss it if you’re looking.
IMG_00002048

After minutes of driving along an untarred road, we came to a stretch of tarred road and Chris joyfully jumped on it only to get to the end and find out we had passed the turn into the farm.
road.jpg
Isn’t that a pretty stretch? In the middle of nowhere o. Forgive me Enugu people but I kept thinking, ‘this is somebody’s village.’

An old man was very helpful and redirected us.

We got to the gate and had 21 questions with the staff there, maybe they thought we were inspectors (later Chris said, ‘after all the drive wen we don drive them wan send person go back? I for just bring mat siddon for the gate’ lol).

Once we were on the farm, all I could say was wow! The biggest farm I’ve been on is the Captain’s and it’s all palm trees. There was everything here, man-sized pigs (I was too scared to go close enough to take picture), dwarf pawpaw trees (pretty harmless and with really sweet fruit from what we were told), cucumbers, beans, rice, fish, geese, guinea fowl, ducks, chickens, quails, pineapples, pepper, corn, pigs (I know I said pigs but they deserve another mention), pears, palm trees, plantains, bananas, etc, etc.
Yes. It's a tree!
Yes. It’s a tree!

IMG_00002025
IMG_00002033

The farm manager, Mr. Timothy (Timothée), from Benin Republic who had his training at the Songhai Farm in Porto Novo and also in Israel (remember these guys, they make things grow out of rocks) was kind enough to take us around despite his busy schedule. He told us of plans to expand and include things like snake farming (yep, snake farming), grass-cutters and rabbits. They produce their feed and as much as possible use only natural fertilizers for their crops, compost mainly. I got to see the compost pit where the waste from all the animal pens and cages conglomerate and breed the fattest maggots I’ve ever seen.
IMG_00002010

Thankfully all we saw of the maggotery was the sign. They breed maggots which are then dried and mixed into the feed of fishes and other animals.
“In farming one plus one does not always equal two. Sometimes it equals minus one. Farming is not easy; it’s not a business of N2000 today and N2300 in two days. In a few years you’ll begin to enjoy the dividends but it is hard work.” Phew!

Training hasn’t commenced yet because they’re yet to build dormitories but it’s a part of their program.
My earnest prayer is that when the farm is handed to whomever would take over from the Songhai staff, the management continues to do as good a job as what is currently been done there. It’s not perfect, but it’s a better sight than images from some government managed farms I’ve seen.

Long live the agro industry!
Long live food production!
Long live akpu and nsala soup which likely started with maggots on a farm somewhere.

I sat down to type immediately I got home so forgive my typos and unsightly grammar. I very likely didn’t cover everything so if you have any questions, please put them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. My gratitude goes to Chris for sharing all the “oh boy!” moments with me (Joan, forgive us).

150,000,000 ONES

Tags

, , ,

As I stood in front of the young people who had shown up for our regular bi-monthly seminar, my heart swelled with pride. In a town considered ‘backward’ by most, where everyone is accused of being a diehard money-lover; where wealth is considered the key that opens every door, these ones had come together to learn. In a town having over 50,000 people between the ages of 15 – 35, why would I be glad of 38? I was glad because I believe in the ripple effect. You see, I was raised to believe in the power of one. You don’t need a crowd to effect a change, you need just one. And here were 38 ‘ones’. 

I am a closet Nigerian. I say closet because you will never hear me open my mouth to defend Nigeria. True; because there is very little to defend. It amazes me how loud people are about all the ills in the country. How quick we are to dump blame on our political leaders, the British, our religious leaders, our tribal differences and even the fact that we are situated close to the equator. So, I shut my mouth and listen, watch and learn. I learn from the folly of others, from their rants I learn how not to speak. From their actions I learn how not to act.

A lot of people of this generation are quick to lay the mess that Nigeria is squarely on the shoulders of the generations past. You only need to visit Facebook or Twitter. A while back I saw a video made by a young Nigerian living in the United States, stating all the reason why she wouldn’t return to Nigeria. Of course my blood boiled, as did that of many others. I wasn’t on fire because she was wrong, I was on fire because of all the ignorant and half-truth assumptions she made based most likely on what she had read on social media and sprouted without proper research. But that is not the matter at hand.

Five score years ago, an entity called Nigeria was created. About 85 years later, a person we’ll call Anna was born. Nigeria had existed for a lifetime, Anna was just a baby. She grew and as she grew, she was told of all the gruesome things Nigeria had been through. How there was a massive genocide in the name of war, how Nigeria had been raped by a succession of corrupt individuals. By the time Anna came into the picture, things were so bad that prices of regular commodities had inflated by more than 200% in 50 years. What was Anna to do? She had not been here when it all started.

What would you do in Anna’s place? Fold your hands and say, ‘abeg, no be me spoil am so no be me go repair am?’  Get a visa to some land of opportunity and check out like Prof. Pat Utomi’s ‘Generation that Left Town?’ Become an ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ person? Become and activist and get killed, leaving you parents to mourn over and empty casket? The options are limitless and they are right before you.

I am not an advocate for any of the above options; I believe in the power of one. I am a believer in the ripple effect. A ripple effect is a situation where, like the ever expanding ripples across water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from an initial state can be followed outwards incrementally (wikipedia). I’m sure you know how it relates to real life. If you don’t, try doing a little research, it wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve probably come across like some goody two shoes. I’m not. I’m a badass young Nigerian who is passionate about change. I’m all for doing this differently. Remember the terrible elders who messed up this country? Well, if we keep going on the way we are, our children are going to say then same things about us.

If we keep…

Dropping waste (pure water satchet, used recharge cards, etc) everywhere

Yelling at the driver to roger the policeman so we can get home in time

Acting as educated thugs for politicians at the rate of N10,000 per election (that’s a four year stint where the guy steals billions of naira; dumb?)

Adding an extra 50% on every purchase we make for our office (and then asking the innocent child at the shop to write a receipt in effect corrupting that young mind)

Paying for special centres for ourselves and our younger ones so they can ‘pass’ their O’Levels

…and so on.

If we keep doing these things, then we better get ready for a lifetime of complaining because you can’t keep doing things the same way and expecting a different result.  

It’s not always about doing the right thing. It can be about not doing the wrong thing.

In a country of approximately 150million ‘ones’, if every ‘one’ decides to be a broker for positive, Nigeria would be a lot different, wouldn’t it?

 

Fantasia’s Present (R)

This is a revision of the piece I posted yesterday. Seems I left out too many details. So here it is, I hope it’s better than the first. Enjoy!

 

Fantasia couldn’t wait to open her gift. It had a pink bow with red ribbon tails. The wrapper had Minnie Mouse dancing all over it. Fantasia hated Minnie and her Uncle Frank knew this. Her itching fingers ran over the box as she imagined what it contained. It was too small for a doll. She had dolls as big as she was. Most of them were at the back of her wardrobe with their heads pulled off and cut open; results of her experiments to see their brains.

She stared at the box some more as she considered how much trouble she would be in for opening the gift without her mum’s approval. But this wasn’t any gift. This was Uncle Frank’s gift. It was his first gift in the two years since her mum banned her globetrotting brother from bringing any more ‘weird’ presents for her little girl. She shook the box with her six-year-old strength but nothing came loose.

Frank and his sister Lily watched from behind a curtain as Fantasia fiddled with the box. She had insisted on seeing the gift before Fantasia did but he turned it into a bet.

“If Fantasia doesn’t like the gift, I’ll take it back, and never get another weird,” he rolled his eyes, “present ever again. If she does, I get to buy her anything I want.”

They watched as she undid the bow and removed the wrapper, careful to note where every piece was peeled from. She drew a bag out of the cardboard box, the leather gleaming as the light from a window hit it. They looked on as she fumbled with the zip, her nimble fingers careful not to let it get stuck. Her cry of delight brought a grin to Frank’s face as she brought out a small screw driver from what he knew to be a mini-tool set.

“Told you so,” he said to his sister, her shoulders slumped as they withdrew through the door behind the curtain.

 

Fantasia’s Present

Tags

, , , ,

Fantasia couldn’t wait to open her gift. It had a pink bow with red ribbon tails. The wrapper had Minnie dancing all over it. Fantasia hated Minnie and her Uncle Frank knew this. Her itching fingers ran over the box as she imagined what it contained. It was too small for a doll. She had dolls as big as she was. She shook it with her seven-year-old strength but nothing came loose. She stared at the box some more as she considered how much trouble she would be in for opening the gift without her mum’s approval. But this wasn’t any gift. This was Uncle Frank’s gift. It was his first gift in the two years since her mum banned her globetrotting brother from bringing any more ‘weird’ presents.

Frank and Lily watched from behind a curtain as Fantasia undid the bow and removed the wrapper, careful to note where every piece was peeled from. She drew a bag out of the cardboard box, the leather gleaming as the light from a window hit it. They looked on as she fumbled with the zip, her nimble fingers careful not to let it get stuck. Her cry of delight brought a shocked look to her mother’s face as she brought out a small screw driver from what Frank knew to be a mini-tool set.

“Told you so,” he said to his sister as he dragged her almost inert form out through the door behind the curtain.

Image

 

Lucky Number 28

Tags

, , , ,

In twenty-eight days, I’ll be twenty-eight years old. Like a flash, ten years have gone by from when I was a dewy-eyed eighteen-year-old. Scratch that. I was never dewy-eyed. I knew too much at too young an age. Partly because I read everything I could lay my eyes on; which I realise now may not have been a completely good thing for a child, but over time as I have matured, the knowledge has served me well. I don’t read as much as I used to and my tastes are more refined (I want to believe) but the love affair I started with books as a four-year-old is still going strong.

I love to read.

I. Love. To. Read.

I cannot count the number of wonderful friends, real and imaginary, books have brought into my life. Some of you reading this post are my ‘novel’ friends from way back.

My Birthay Wish List
Back to me now. For my birthday this year, I want twenty-eight books. Some of them I’ve read, some I owned at some point or another (and they got borrowed and never returned or I lost them when I left the north in a hurry in 2011), some I have in soft copy (but I’m a sucker for hard copies). Others I’ve never read but I’ve heard good things about. This is the point where I say “if you love me buy me one, or two or three (or all) of these books.” But I won’t say it. I’ll just drop this here.

1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
2. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
3. Efuru by Flora Nwapa
4. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
5. Battlefield of The Mind by Joyce Meyer
6. The Strange Man by Ngugi Wa Thiong O
7. Jokes Apart by Julius Agu
8. To Saint Patrick by Eghosa Imasuen
9. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
10. The Famished Road by Ben Okri
11. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie
12. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
13. Merchant of Venice – Shakespeare
14. The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
15. To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite
16. Weep Not, Child by Ngugi Wa Thiong O
17. African Child by Camara Laye
18. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
19. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Garcia Marqeuz
20. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
21. How to Spell Naija by Chuma Nwokolo
22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
23. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
24. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
25. She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard
26. The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
27. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah
28. Open City by Teju Cole

wishlist
How will you know if someone else decides to get me the same book you have in mind? You won’t. But the books I get more than one copy of, I’ll be donating to a school library.

(Just putting this out there. A Kindle will be the PERFECTEST birthday gift)
Kindle-Paperwhite-3

Beautiful, You

Tags

, ,

Surrounded by worshippers 

Eyes raised in devotion

Your beauty surpassing 

Even the first unfurled flower of the morning

 

Surrounded by light

Resplendent in your brightness

Radiant in the befitting splendor that is your smile

Your smile

 

Beauty they say is fleeting 

The first mists of morning melted by the coming of the sun

Yours is this mountain 

Untouched by the passage of time

 

Fifty years down 

Worshippers will stand at the foot of this mountain 

Eyes raised in devotion

In devotion 

 

 

For Joan. Happy Birthday 

 

 

Counting My Blessings II

Tags

, , ,

It’s been exactly two years since I did Counting My Blessings I. Friends have gone from my life since that time. Others have refused to leave, their roots getting deeper and stronger in my life. People say you choose your friends. I really want to give myself credit for mine, but the truth is that God handpicked every one of the persons I consider friend. I always say I’m blessed in my friends.

For loving me; wanting me to be better than I am; never judging, always supporting and reaching out to me, for forgiving my many forgetfulnesses: I say thank you.

To,
Ugonnaya/Munchinchin/Bossbaby; sister of my heart, for teaching me about strength and patience and wanting the best for me, I love you more than there are words. You’re still the nicest person I know.

Olive/Mami/Princessita; motivator, for allowing me pour out my troubles on you and trusting me enough to let me be there for you.

Tinuke/Sisi mi; it’s been a while since Jigawa and the mosquitoes, but the lessons you taught me about Jesus remain with me.

Tega/T/Obebs; brother of my heart, being my male perspective for 12 years and counting, never letting me down (I’ll miss you so much when you leave).

Vicky/Mama; for never letting me get away with being less than myself.

Grace/Gee; for forgiving me.

Lucia/Luce; for your copy of Americanah and the great memories of PHBF.

Sina/Shine; for having my back from so far away, and the e-novels I may never finish reading.

Tina/Mama; for birthing my beautiful godbaby and giving me a chance to experience motherhood (for one day every two months).

Chibuikem/Nna/Chibim; for always being ready for a fight and the open door.

Judith/Judy; for your amazing wisdom for one so young and the awesome future I see ahead of you (I miss you loads).

Temi/Temi; for being more than just a friend: my best friend, loving me, the joy and laughter you bring into my life. I love you doesn’t cover it. You’re my safest place.

I love you guys. You make my world beautiful.

I’m always counting my blessings.