LAND OF PROMISE

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I am Akwa Ibom State. And I live in Uyo.

I reside in IK, Eket and Oro Nation. My house is everywhere in the Land of Promise. But since promise has tarried like Israelites on the Canaan journey, the Land of Fulfillment phrase was neologized. So, I am not sure which one is my official tag these days – Land of Promise, or of Fulfilment.

Promise has spent decades on the road and I hear he’s near; I can even see a cloud of dust in the distance. I believe he’ll get here soon. He will have matured into Fulfillment by the time he arrives my doorstep.

Although I’m only a hunk of 29, I have sired many sons, from my time in the womb of Cross River State to the years after my birth. Illustrious sons too. But I am unhappy with some of my children. My young guys. The emerging lads. I have felt this way about these fine young men for a while but I saw something recently, which stoked my worry afresh.

One morning I was doing my thing on social media (of course I’m on Facebook, check me out at Akwa Ibom Online!), when I came across a post by Prince Goldenchyld Simeon where he said, “Uyo has a great network of roads, what stops us from having a cycling race?” I had no qualms with the Prince’s post, but most of the responses my children (my young guys, the emerging lads) posted as replies made me cringe in embarrassment. Na me really born these children fa?

They were ready with uncouth sarcastic responses which were frothing with ignorance at the top, and dripping with foolishness from the bottom.

Someone said, “blah…”
Another squeaked, “blah blah…”
80% of respondents to that post bleated, “blah blah blah…”

They tried to ridicule Prince Goldenchyld Simeon’s suggestion on grounds of, “Irrelevance to the city,” “Nigeria’s present economic situation,” “Residents’ apathy,” “Keke on the streets,” “How would a cycle race ‘empower’ the average guy,” and other laughable reasons.

But I fed these children Ekpang-Nkukwo and sent them to school, why would they disgrace me so?

Initially I pretended not to suspect the reason. But soon, I told myself the truth.

Uyo is my melting pot and my most ambitious sons who live and work at home stay here. This is how most of my young men react. Why do they react this way? They react this way because they work so hard for money, that they do not take out time to think about development. They spend all their time playing politics, and they forget about leadership. I’ll link back to that Facebook post but let me take a detour, and pick up a fact along the way.

Putting it in perspective – of men resident in Uyo between the ages of 20 and 40, maybe 10% are bankers, 20% are civil servants, 10% are in private employment, 5% are entrepreneurs, 5% live off sports betting and Ponzi schemes, 10% don’t know what year it is, and the remaining 40% are politicians.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the fact that 40% of the demographic are politicians. Nothing wrong at all. The problem is the fact that the other 60% of this 100% depend heavily on politics to grow their careers and businesses. I am sad because the result of this, is the fact that I have sired, and we have raised a whole generation of politics-dependent yes men who can’t think objectively and developmentally for themselves, and by extension, me.

Every young politician’s aim is to be a Personal Assistant to someone. Every young banker wants to be friends with the Personal Assistant and his boss. And everything the government of the day does, is reported with the slant that will please Wellington Bassey way end, so the young blogger will get regular patronage from the powers that be.

So, it is a constant litany of yes, yes, yes, absolutely yes sir!

What this does is shut down their creativity, their individuality. All in return for enough money to build a house, buy a car and open a slew of those generic Uyo businesses. Shut their brains down so that they cannot notice that the excellent works previous governments achieved, like the Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, the beautiful Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, the other 5-star hotel at Tropicana Entertainment Centre, the Four Points by Sheraton in Ikot Ekpene, and the good roads network in Uyo could be built on by expanding infrastructure (like a NASCAR, Formula Two or even Formula One race track) to accommodate international state-sponsored tourneys in cycling (like Prince Simeon suggested), golf, soccer & athletics, and maybe tennis and Formula One invitationals too.

They don’t see that it is possible to use their politicking to collaborate with their political principals and sponsor a bill in the State House of Assembly to make sports tourism as the thrust of the state’s developmental drive, to become policy.

They don’t realize that if such a bill is passed into law, I their father, could achieve economic independence from Grand pa Federal Govt. through a massive tourist economy that would blossom.

No, they don’t. I know they don’t. I know because some of them are my friends, even here on Facebook.

Talk about a PDP or APC political rally or some mundane thing that translates to perpetuation of their (whether progressive or inept) principals, naira in their pockets, but no development to me their father, and they will run amok with approval and excitement.

There is blame to be shared by you my older ones, the entrenched political class – the ones who promote this mediocrity in younger ones by always channeling them funds in exchange for insincere sycophantic patronage. Thereby programming yes men, who won’t be fit to take up the leadership positions you presently occupy when you move on up.

Seniors, I think you should tell your juniors that such behaviour is self-destructive & counter-developmental, and that this isn’t the way you got to your exalted positions. You must do this, as it is important.

Erm, erm… Forgive me for I have lost my train of thought even though I am only a young man of 29. Dwelling on the challenges of raising unique, responsible and forward thinking children can do that to a man. I will come back to say more once I remember what I was trying to say. Meanwhile, let me take a stroll down the timeline.

Oh yes wait, thank God I remember now. I wanted to say that you older ones should tell them to stand up.

Mentally stand up.

Edorkor ammor, yak e dakka e da!

 

DISCLAIMER: That I only referred to young men and not women in this post is neither because I am chauvinistic nor misogynistic. It is because the average Akwa Ibom young woman is mostly preoccupied with finding a comfortable man to marry, traditional marriages, church-going, and burials. I respect all Akwa Ibom ladies nevertheless, especially those developing themselves, others, and the land by extension.

This article initially appeared on Kuby Uyanga’s Facebook page.

MAP: Google

 

CONNECT WITH KUBY:       Facebook – Kuby Uyanga ; Twitter – @KubyUyanga ; Instagram – @kubyuyanga

#Kuboid

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TRUTHFULLY SPEAKING

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CONCEITED, ARROGANT, DISRESPECTFUL, OPINIONATED RENEGADE, or any other combination of adjectives organized society accords a negative denotation.

All of these I might be. But never bland. Or un-opinionated. So here goes..

Largely because I hadn’t seen my parents and siblings in over a year, I decided to spend my birthday week in Uyo. I did. After a bit, it was time to go back home. Since flight fares were a bit steep for my shallow pocket, I came back to Lagos riding in a GIGM bus.

One Deeper Life looking woman, her daughter and grand daughter were on board. They were in the row in front of me. I was in the back seat.

The woman started preaching about “Fruits of the Spirit” from Itam (in Uyo) to Obot Akara (close to the Abia state border)…and na that same syllabus wey dem use teach her Foundation class for 1982.

I steadily grew agitated. But I kept my cool till she was finally done.

As she wan close Bible, I told her, “madam abeg wait first.” I carefully explained to her that I am a Born-again Christian and totally understood what she meant by her repeated rants that, “we must possess the fruits of the spirit.” But since her evangelism was directed at peeps who probably weren’t Born-again Christians, did she think they understood any parts of her VERY abstract message?”

(Truthfully, if I wasn’t fortunate to have undergone Foundation class training in RCCG, I honestly wouldn’t have understood either).

The madam vituperated into profuse self-defense of her lesson’s authority and teaching method/syllabus.

I asked her if “Teachability” is a fruit of the spirit?

She said yes.

At this point, the whole bus was attentively listening to our little exchange.

Then, I asked if her self defensive arguments reflected teachability?

Aunty lost her voice..

As she keep quiet, everybody begin dey take style to turn look me.

That was when I told the driver to play some music.

TAKEAWAYS:

1. Never attempt to teach anyone anything, which U do not adequately understand and practise. Enough to customize your lessons according to your experiences, personal opinions, and audience.

2. Please always be sensitive to others who are not exactly like U. There were Muslims in that bus. I wonder how they felt about her callous time hugging, just to pass a message that didn’t get passed.

#Kuboid

CONNECT ON – Facebook:Kuby Uyanga   Twitter:@KubyUyanga   Instagram:@kubyuyanga

THIS IS AN INFOMERCIAL

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On the 31st of October, I made a blog post which started out insinuating the story of my foul luck in 2016. At the end of the post, I had said some things, but I had not succeeded to say what I had started out to say, so it became a story for another day. That was an attempt at a creative ploy to aptly title that post.

I never had the intention of telling that story. I only used my hinting about it, as a literary device. Then, some days ago, I came across Tiencepay’s quote either on Facebook or IG where she says, “When you are going for healing, never leave any part of you behind,” or something like that. I related to that because it rang true of the relatively recent traumatic experience I had hinted at – so, I cast my mind back. I’m still not going to tell that story; but I’ll explain that situation. Just so you see how I almost lost myself, and know about how I got back to being Kuby.

This is not a sob story. Treat this as an infomercial. I answered to the need to express my experience, because I believe maybe a few people may find the ideas I will promote beneficial to them. So here goes.

2016 has been the absolutely stinkiest year of my life. But, it has also been the most profound – maybe you’ll see why. By February, I had completed some jobs, was fatigued and felt the need to leave Lagos for a short vacay somewhere quieter. But then, I couldn’t go because I still had other ‘major’ jobs on my hands, and I had to deliver. I was ghost-writing ‘someone important’s autobiography, and there was a deadline. I was writing for a national show, and there was a deadline. I was curating a visual ad campaign for a ‘big company’ – and there are always deadlines here. I was also writing 2 other screenplays simultaneously with both hands; of course there were deadlines here too. So I couldn’t afford to leave town. Or so I thought. I felt I was about to blow. If I could just submit all the final drafts and earn the credits, never mind the promise of untold wealth. There’s actually no money; but that’s a Nollywood secret!

And damn right I could have achieved my aim. I was on course to do just that; I even rounded off the ad campaign. But I was planning and working, while Life was scheming and happening. Mind you, these were not the only things happening in my life, but they were the ones I was paying attention to. So, the rest of my ignored ‘issues’ decided to gang up and toss me one huge conglomerate of a curveball, just to get my attention. The following events happened within the same week: an ongoing toxic breakup dramatically imploded; I found I was expecting a baby; a friend tripped me up; and family double-crossed me in the lurch; I was cheated in a transaction, which culminated in me losing my home… one other unprintable thing happened, and, ladies and gentlemen, I suffered a nervous breakdown!

Now, I used to, and still believe I’m a ‘strong man’, you know, so that’s the last thing I could ever imagine would ever happen to me. Nervous breakdown? I pray oh! But it did. I found out that was what I had suffered through, only when I emerged from the clinical depression it precipitated into. I tried hard to plough on with the jobs at hand, but I missed out on my deadlines, messed up great relationships, and set my EDB, Expected Date of Blowing, back by eons.

After all these happened and I couldn’t find immediate practical solutions to the challenges that sprung up as a result, my brain shut down. I couldn’t read for the love of God. I couldn’t neither write for the love of Jesus. I couldn’t string 2 creative thoughts together if Oduduwa offered me a zillion prime cowries – I truly lost the capacity to create. I could only eat, sleep, pee, poop, and shower (the bath only when I got really uncomfortable, about once in 2 days). I mean, I wasn’t thinking, because I simply was unable to. I remained in this zombie state for about 2 weeks, before I started getting the rest of my brain functions back. It was a slow and tortuous process.

It took months. For a long time, the best I could do was reminisce, and reconstruct better times. Eventually I started reading. Then I started attempting to write – I wrote sha, but I still couldn’t really write, if you know how I mean.

Then one day I chanced across, and read “How I Retired at 26!” by Asha Tyson. Asha tells the story of how, despite being neglected by her father, mother, extended family, community, police and the American welfare system, she still saw herself through college and found a respectable job through sheer willpower and destiny. However, she only became truly free from her past when she decided to relive it in all its gruesome HD.

After I finished reading the book, I set aside a day for a meeting with myself. We both arrived early and took our places facing each other. I relieved every hurtful incident in the recent past. After I was done, I relieved the other sore points in my whole life. I found a way to own the blame for all of them. I was either careless, stupid, too trusting, arrogant, disrespectful, unobservant, greedy, lazy or… I found a way to take at least part of the blame for ALL these events. Then, I opened myself up and felt all the negative emotions my mistakes evoked, emotions I had been running from my whole life. I felt stupid, I felt unintelligent, I felt unobservant, I felt naïve, I felt embarrassed, I felt like a rookie, I felt like a fool, oh my God I felt ashamed! I felt everything. And afterwards, I forgave myself. And forgave others too. I called some people to let them know, and I didn’t call others, but I did the calling and uncalling with all of me. Almost immediately, I snapped out of a depression which had lasted for at least five months. Everything became brand new, and everything came back to me!

2016 has been the ugliest year of my life, but it isn’t ending that way. I discovered an inoculation that grants me immunity against the fatality of mistakes and finality of setbacks. And if you read with an open mind, I guess you discovered it too. But in case you’re a block head like me, here are the…

TAKEAWAYS:

  1. You will always crash on your butt, as long as you keep gallantly striving.
  2. ALWAYS make sure to find a blame for yourself in every setback you experience.
  3. Re-live those negative events, and courageously open yourself to feeling the worst of the negative emotions (that the memories you face headlong) evoke. Hold none of it, or yourself, back.
  4. Absolutely forgive yourself. It doesn’t matter if every other being wants to your neck in the guillotine. Give zero drats about them, and MAKE SURE TO FORGIVE yourself. No matter your misdemeanor, or violent crime.
  5. Do these sincerely, and the disappearance of your baggage, renewal of your soul, and divine momentum for your pursuit will automatically follow!

Tiencepay is right; “Whenever you going for healing, do not leave any part of you behind.” Or something like that!

PHOTO: This was six years ago, but I still look the same. Emmanuel Isong Ntuen took the shot at Ketchup, Wuse 2, Abuja.

DISCLAIMER:This is not a sob story. This is an infomercial that also appears on Kuby Uyanga’s Facebook page.

Original Copy

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The first time U stumbled upon one of my posts, chances are U wondered:

  1. “What sort of name is that?”
  2. “How’d he get all those lovely scars?” Or,
  3. Maybe U just scrolled down to check out what, and how I post.

Who really is Kuby Uyanga? A few sentences sum up my essence.

Kuby is an All-Ibibio name originated from the Uyanga clan in Ikot Ayan Ediene of Ikono Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State which means, ExceIlence – so I spend my moments trying to embody the value even though I fail at this, woefully most times. I bear the name proudly all the same, hoping someday Kuby’s meaning will finally jinx its charm into my life forever.

I’m a businessman. I own 3 planets and 8 mega-yachts. I’m a multi-billionaire by nature.

The paragraph above is my friend, Akaninyene Essien’s Twitter bio. I’m revealing my plagiarism immediately because I want to get to the point at once. Whatever U do, your work has the tendency to be better, if U know who to copy, what to copy, and have a template of original ideas into which you’ll write your copied idea. That’s why we call it copywriting.

The best of us are all copycats. Little kids copy the adults around them, smart ladies copy Kim Kardashian’s fashion choices, and I copied Akan’s line. Yes, I’m one of the best. And I’m also a copycat.

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile; he did not even invent the assembly line. That great pioneer of modern American motoring only copied existing automobile and assembly line technology, then fused these with his original idea of mass production. Ford’s idea was supported by his strategy of manufacturing almost everything necessary for producing his vehicles, like steel, glass, rubber, tires, etcetera, at one Ford-controlled mega factory. This sped up processes, drove down production costs and birthed the Model T. The smart man was subsequently rewarded with domination of the American auto industry and wealth, simply because he’d known what and how to copy from pioneers like Carl Benz. He ranks up there on the list as one of the best innovators of his time. He was also a copycat.

And Albert also stood on the shoulder of giants. I mean the more popular one – Einstein. That genius of a man developed one of the two pillars of modern physics, relativity. The other being quantum mechanics. He used Newton’s earlier work on mechanics as raw material. Where would E=MC2 be if Albert wasn’t smart enough to study all, and copy part of Isaac’s work? Nowhere, I guess! Einstein was an exceptionally bright man, so much so that the doctor who performed autopsy on him after his death excised and preserved his brain so future advances in neuroscience could investigate what made him so smart. Albert Einstein was a smart, stylish and celebrated scientist, philosopher and yes, copycat!

Message is yet to sink? Don’t worry, pastor brings it closer home.

Was he the best vocalist? The best lyricist? A genius on the sax? Fela was fantastic if not the absolute top talent in any of these, but he emerged, and has remained the top musician ever to come out of Africa. Did he use the juju of his traditional religion to hypnotize the world and achieve this? Not at all! There was Fela, a man whose parents’ antecedents were almost impossible to trump – so he dumped their medical aspirations for him. There was Fela who decided to be a musician – so he started the band Koola Lobitos. Then there was Fela who felt he wasn’t playing the right music – so he travelled to Ghana to think. The result of this philosophic spree was the gravelly pottage of jazz (an already popular genre), tribal chants (copied from African folk music) and large a repertoire (reminiscent of rock bands) with him on vocals dispensing activism (learnt from his mum). The most original African sound to date, Afrobeat, was born – from a gestation of successful unoriginal ideas. Need I add that Fela was the proud, iconoclastic and copycat parent of Africa’s new genre?

U have almost no chance of enduring success if U fail to deeply consider, and copy part of the work of those who preceded U. Nicola Tesla was the more intelligent scientist who labored hard, but he died relatively unknown and wretched. On the other hand, Thomas Edison was smarter, and famous for allegations against him for poaching or outright theft of scientific processes. Whether these allegations were true or unfounded doesn’t matter today because a lot of those processes eventually became famous discoveries which were credited to him.

No doubt if you’ve read with an open mind, U now see reasons why U should be a gifted copycat. U will all have different unique angles on the subject but I’ll venture to state what I believe to be the most relevant and valid reason for U to shamelessly copy. Human beings lustily preach change while subconsciously, they hate change. Change is the one concept a lot of humans hate the most – just ask a PDP supporter. Humans, by God-given nature, detest change. Do U buy a new brand of toothpaste each time U visit the mall? Would U like a new husband every Christmas? How about your reaction when that fat LASTMA guy re-directed U to the alternative route, didn’t U groan and call him a stupid fatty-bum-bum under your breath?

Humans need but hate constant change. U have two options: U could join Wailers International and complain about humans’ contradictory nature, or U could get to work studying and copying already popular great ideas to wrap around your own original but newer idea(s). The Rolling Stones made great use of this tactic – they copied themselves. The ‘Stones included old fan favorite songs on new albums that were experimenting with new sounds. “Time Is on My Side”, first appeared on “The Rolling Stones 12 × 5” in 1964, but that same song also appeared on, “Rolling Stones No. 2” in 1965 and “High Tide & Green Grass” and “Got Live If You Want It” in 1966. This made an unsuspecting fan base accept the new sounds, just because they were mixed and packaged with much-loved old sounds.

 

Introducing the new while cloaked in the apparel of the copied old, gives U the opportunity to gradually warm up fans of the old to, the new – Instead of alienating them. However, be careful not to copy protected property or your lawyer will end up copying the argument of “A&M Record Inc v Napster Inc” to prepare for your defense in court.

 

In my (quickly getting to be) usual way, I have succeeded in saying a lot without actually saying what I set out to say in the beginning. It’s all fair and good since knowledge might have been passed. And if you’re very curious and want to know what copycatism means to my identity and the things I do, then get this: I am as original as the name Kuby Uyanga and only resort to the idea I have expressed above when developing products or services. Or when I want to grab your attention, like I just did!

A STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY

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Hey guys!

I started this thing after light persuasion from a couple of friends. When I created my account light years ago, I made up my mind to post only fiction, reviews and articles, twice a week, and never my opinion nor autobiography. I started kubyuyanga.wordpress.com, and managed only a measly ten posts before that sneaky lil guy, Life, started coming around frequently to happen impolitely on me. Soon enough, putting new posts on the blog was way down my priorities list.

Anyway, I’ve decided to resume posting here. But I’ve lost interest in publishing my fictional fare for free, even the cringe worthy ones. I might change my mind, but to know, we’ll have to wait at least one more day right?  All you’ll be getting now is my mind and its reflections. On whether I care about the stains you’ll discover in there, and the flaws that’ll be reflected out, the jury is still out on that one. I stopped writing when a concatenation of really unbelievably embarrassing, humiliating and storybookey events blindsided, surprised and sometimes spooked even me, storyteller that I was. Am. Was I ever? Let’s not go that way today, back to this thing.

This writing, storyteller thing. Nollywood don’t really pay writers like that o, unless you are Nkiru Njoku, Sanchez or Chris Ihidero. But even then, after over fifteen years of Nollywood toil combined with their talents, (we’ll touch on the topic, ‘Talents’ briefly later today) how much those guys dey really collect sef? Anyway leave that one, na another day tori, but if you’ve not noticed the hidden warning there, and still wanna ‘make it’ as writer in this Lagos like some other abnormal folk, then you desperately need to have talent. Like I promised to intimate you earlier, fairly used Talent is sold at Mandilas, Lagos Island, beside the new CBN building. They come in three colours and are quite cheap; find a nice one and buy it.

Forget inspiration, you’ll have to motivate yourself. If muse delays, use arizona. Hone your craft, stay up late to write plenty utter rubbish. You might choose to use coffee, tramadol, kolanut, loud or more arizona, if you’re having problems keeping sleep at bay. Tramadol has other abuses, but that’s a story for another day. Also, you’ll need to find one particularly slim aunty with horn-rimmed glasses at Charity bus stop, Oshodi. She sells current affairs booklets and the pamphlet; ‘Professional Asskissing: A nolly good case study.’ It’s 3 for 5 naira. Exchange five bucks for some. Read the first one, practice the work book on the second, and use the third as a working document.

Your ability to load your phone and wish your mum happy birthday, the lean resources you’ll need to pretend you’re a big uncle to Edafe’s children, and your travel budget for visiting your hometown this Christmas, depends on your mastery of all I’ve mentioned above. Yes, I almost forgot, and your skill in the art of typing 4 weak scripts simultaneously with all your 3 hands every now and then. It’s not like you’ll get paid anything much for them but let me not deviate yet again. This is a story for another day mbok. Let me find my way back to what I set out to say in the first place.

And en he before I forget, did I mention I met Adiele Baba-Random Ephraim again after a poetry festival? Random is still Random. Random is a guy I like. But I didn’t go to the Park to meet Random, rather, I went to see Onyeka’s House of Nwapa. I arrived 40 minutes after the documentary had finished screening. I had a chance to arrive early but something happened, and yes you guessed it… that something that happened is story for another day! Since I’d missed the film, I sat down and had a drink with people. Some I hadn’t seen in a while, and others I was just meeting. Random sat beside me and we conversed while he stole glances at the fair Lupita. Something (not too important right now) motivated me to tell him that God is Nature and Nature is God. I explained to him that humans are born equal but get programmed by domestic situation, geography and culture.

Since it was Random, the convo continued, but not randomly. He shared insights about my claims, and I told him that Hindus, Muslims and especially Christians are all wrong, or at best, far from totally right. I went on to say that, different exceptionally intelligent and opinionated, inspiring and charismatic orators all propagated their respectively lucid but diverse interpretations of the laws of Nature. They wrote-in clauses and extrapolated bylaws into the original Constitution – these promoted the sustenance and furtherance of their ideas. I used a Christian example to argue to Random that pioneer worshippers of the Christian God were smart guys. They wrote in a subsection in Mother Nature’s Constitution (yeah God is female too, and those guys acted as humans but claimed Divine direction. But that’s a story for another day). They made it law that everybody must bring in a tenth of their substance (them: “SYMBOLICALLY”. Me: “Who that kain lie don ever epp”), and feast with family in the Temple in the presence of God. Look at Deuteronomy 18 : 1 – 5 and Deuteronomy 26 : 1 – 13. The point is, since it was an agricultural society, everyone came in with food, so there was always enough to sustain the Priests and Levites for the rest of the year while they propagated the Jewish interpretation of God as Jehovah. And I hope you know Christianity is only New Improved Judaism, though that’s a story for another day sha. The Jehovah guys were/are so smart that they met with huge success; me and half of you out there are prove – Christians us.

You don’t even understand me yet? Okay let me attempt to hexplain further.

See, The Thing that creates the gases, and mixes them to make air, then tickles the air into the dance that becomes the wind, which stirs the water, to bring the tide… That Force plus all those gases, the air, wind, water, fire – all of that, is Nature. Sorry I mean God. No, I actually mean Allah. Infack (in my Uyo accent), just fill in the blangs for your religion!

You are who you are because of the endless input from your parents, neighbourhood(s), Imams, Rabbis, pastors, and your long hours on Pornhub. Everyone believe the truth they believe because of the people and institutions that nurtured them, and the surroundings they developed in. Nobodyreligion is absolutely right, except Nature. Nature is King, Queen and God. You understand that I absolutely believe these things I’m saying here. Maybe you might doubt the fact that I’m a steadfast Bornagain Christian, maybe not, but Boyyoe you gats find one thing hold am strong, but that full story is for another day. Truth is, you have to find faith in the supreme Creator you believe in, discover the eternal laws (or principles) of nature, and look at things for yourself – not through your pastor’s smudgy glasses.

The fact is, I actually set out to write about why I’m not writing fiction here anymore – oh, I remember I said earlier that’s a story for another day. Yes, and also talk about Onyeka’s film of which I was a part of the production, but that’s also story for another day.

Jokes apart, I truly really sincerely wanted to write about why I hadn’t been able to write fiction here or anywhere else, for so long. But with this blog post at over a thousand words already, even that, has now become a story for another day!

BUY THE PIG TO GROW THE NAIRA

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I know some interesting stories. Let me share a recent one.

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One day a Fulani man (let’s call him Adamu) went to pick up a second-hand truck he’d bought from a large farm on the outskirts on Yola. His fifteen year old techie nephew had helped him seal the deal on OLX.

Buhari visited Yola the same day Adamu picked up the truck from AFCOTT FARMS. He drove down the slope toward the S-bend just before the “Welcome to Numan” sign post. The north-eastern sun was besting itself and there were many checkpoints because of the presidential presence in nearby Yola. He glanced at the silver watch on his fair wrist. The digital dial read 1:39pm. Despite the fact that he’d miss Jummat prayers, he was in high spirits. After only six years of trading beans in Gombe, he’d finally saved up enough to buy the truck.

Adamu was proud of himself. Now he could go into larger scale supplies. And just as Allah would have it, Alhaji Joda of Gombe Jewel Hotel had set up a meeting for 4pm that evening. He stepped on the brake as he approached the checkpoint just before the bend.

Unlike the lengthy questions at the previous roadblocks, the lanky MoPol who sported fake Raybans and whiskery tribal marks waved him past with a nod and a, “ya hanya?” Adamu responded, “lafiya ela boi”, and drove past without coming to a full halt. Then he stepped on the gas to make up for his slow progress and glanced at his watch again. He had to get to Shagalinku junction by 3:30pm at most.

The black hog was already in the middle of the road when he raised his head. A loud but blunt thud reported from its impact with the truck’s metal fender. Adamu pulled over and looked in the side mirror. The animal was sprawled motionless in the sunshine. He got down and confirmed the pig was dead. As a devout Muslim, the animal was unclean in his religion but he dragged it to the roadside and turned toward the two Bachama men who were approaching him with unfriendly faces. Bachama people are mostly Christians and they rear swine extensively.

Adamu was dragged to the nearby police station. The big bellied Investigating Police Officer who heard the case had C. M. Okonkwo stitched into the breast of his faded black uniform with white thread. After a whispered conference with the Bachama men outside, the IPO came back and delivered the verdict. Adamu had to pay for the pig he’d killed. A pig of that size went for between twenty and thirty thousand but the owners demanded for seventy thousand naira. They adamantly argued the high worth of their animal. A long argument ensued which Adamu lost, partly because he was outnumbered, partly because the policeman was sympathetic to the Bachamas’ opportunistic cheating and partly because he was a… never mind. IPO had to earn his percentage. Adamu took a motorcycle to the bank and withdrew money. He went back to the police station, paid the seventy thousand and went his way.

The schemers high-fived themselves. They shared the loot and the meat. They’d got the upper over a Fulani ‘one’. Even though the sun was particularly harsh that afternoon, it was a good day. They’d shared some bowls of brukutu and departed to have siesta while their wives cooked the pork.

**************

It was about 3 o’clock when our hero, Adamu, suddenly resurfaced at the station. He had two ASPs for company and the marks on their cheeks were similar to his. IPO came out of his office when he heard Adamu yelling at the counter. He exchanged compliments with the ASPs and asked what the matter was. Adamu explained that he’d left the hog he paid for behind and was back for it. IPO swallowed a glob of spit in surprise and mumbled something as he beat a hasty retreat to his office. From safely behind his desk IPO sent Constable to relay news to the Bachama brothers and the other ‘eyes wey see’. The message was that the funky mallam was back for his ham and the man was going mudafogging ham (in his Anambra accent). All pieces of pork were to re-converge at the police station, latest 1545 hours.

Adamu waited till the last batch of pig meat was in. They were spread on the floor behind the counter. Boiled pig, fried pig, roasted pig and raw pig in different pots and pans. Then he raised his head and piped that his pig was black and whole, not cooked and cut to pieces. Adamu demanded to get back his black hog, whole. The particular one he’d killed and paid for. Or get paid for its tragic loss in such emotional circumstances.

***********

I know this story because my father is the local moneylender.

The Bachama men had to buy the pig to (further) grow the naira.

Adamu’s pig was worth five hundred thousand naira.

BRAVERY AND AMBITION

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I am in the bus among the myriad of other vehicles slowly crawling along Badagry Expressway toward CMS. It’s not one of those smaller buses, I am in a big Molue with hard wood backed and metal framed seats. The engine sounds like a fifteen year old Alsatian attempting a menacing growl while suffering from the late stages of whooping cough. It will seem to die out, then when the bare bodied driver puts foot to the gas, it gurgles back to life. This bus is large enough to give the conductor the right to cram us five passengers deep in a seat. It is warm and I’m already perspiring, the beads of sweat on my forehead have gathered into rivulets and coursed down to form a thin pool in the hollow of my neck.

This is Lagos and in Nigeria we have high tolerance for suffering so I’m not crying. I rather switch seats into a more comfortable position when an elderly lady with an afro of greasy grey hair disembarks at Mile 2. I plug in my ear piece, set my ‘Soul’ playlist and settle down. I watch the sidewalk keenly with hawk eyes hoping to catch a glimpse of my friend.
J. Festus is a nice person. He is my friend although he has no knowledge of my existence. I know him because his name along with his staff number, 003115, is clearly stitched above the ragged monochrome epaulets of his white and leaf green NURTW polyester uniform.

He is the highlight of my morning bus rides to Orile bus stop. I usually spot him before my bus gets to the stretch of sidewalk that he usually prowls. I admired and befriended him the second consecutive morning I found him at about the same Coker bus stop shaking down a bus conductor for the daily N200. He  never led the charges but was very committed to the mission of revenue collection. He contributes to the Lagos the mega city project by putting up the appearance of a tough lieutenant and echoing all the threats uttered by their black faced mustachioed ring leader. Tax has to be raised even if a few side mirrors have to break.

He would stutter, stamp his feet and make menacing faces. This never quite hides or takes away the possibility that he could flee if the altercation progresses from verbal to physical. His hesitant body language suggests that he would. I have observed him several times.

When he is not contributing his coarse Yoruba bawls to shake down defaulting motorists, he does a gangster lean on the concrete PHCN pole beside the Julius Berger “JB” sign plate on the edge of the bridge. I have never seen him squat or sit on the concrete bareer like his colleagues usually do. In his heart he wants to be the bad guy, the standup guy, the boss and has to live the part. Or so I think.

I am a people watcher and after a couple of J. Festus sightings I have come to some conclusions about him. I may be wrong but I’ve noticed that he’s neither physically strong nor particularly brave. I have seen a fire in him. I have perceived his ambition to be that which he naturally is not as a result of his circumstances. I admire and respect that! Asides from the money he makes to assuage his physiological needs of Ewa goin and Orijin for breakfast, I see he feels the need to contribute to a worthy cause and establish his niche on this highway. Maybe he wants to be the NURTW chairman someday.

Yesterday I did not see him when I passed and that was unusual. He is usually as true as time. He had never missed a day before. Is he sick? I wonder. Has he travelled? I doubt. Is he dead? Under my breath, I pray he isn’t. My friend’s welfare had occurred to me a couple more times during the past day but my own personal worries had soon relegated the thought. But this morning he sprints back into my consciousness the moment I catch sight of the electronic billboard at Festac 1st Gate. So I lean away from the stifling body odour of the middle age man who has just boarded and chosen to sit next to me despite all the empty sits. I ignore his sweaty garlicky ooze as I point out hawk eyes to keenly observe the side walk. I hope to catch the blunt features and squinty eyes of J. Festus, 003115.

I wonder whether the J in his name stands for James, Jeremiah or Japhet like Omojuwa’s. I am fast losing hope when we go past his usual lamp post and he isn’t there but I heave a sigh when I find him munching an egg roll and moving his oily lips in animated conversation with the girl hawker as she counts out his change. I heave a huge sigh of relief because my friend is fine. I wonder where he went yesterday. I admire him because he personifies bravery, commitment and ambition at the grass roots. To me he is a model of sorts.

I am reminded by a lesson in an improbable place that there are role models on every level.

 

NOTICE TO NURTW TAX COLLECTORS AND AREA BOYS: Abeg this tory na gbobo. Na mistake if the matter resemble person, or area, or waka when dey happen. Make una no vex, na play I dey.