Re: To the Guys That Want To Take Down LIB | Love Letter from Ayo Sogunro

Articulates some of my views.

Ayo Sogunro

Dearest Linda Ikeji,

Re: To the Guys That Want To Take Down LIB

Permit me the indulgence of a few lines to your eminent personality. I have been a constant fan of your work, although from afar. To be honest, I rarely open your blog volitionally, never scrolled through the news items on a slow day, never typed out the address on my browser to open it; yet, like hundreds of thousands of other Nigerians—I find myself falling into your domain through the intricacies of internet sharing and their damn hyperlinks. Despite this non-conscious increment of your page views, I dare say that I have had no cause to complain about the content of LIB—I expected to find gossip and entertainment not Shakespeare, and you have never disappointed me.

So, again, I am a huge admirer of your intrepid work.

But this is not to say I have not had some…

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The Joke That is Us!

I, Chinazar, am not very political in nature. I mean, politics bore me, especially the Nigerian one. It is very painful for me to even read. I struggle through political issues, seriously considering why to not just close any page discussing them, because they are all basically the same thing- the election or appointment of a new official who is just as corrupt and free-of-conscience as the one before him. See? Same old same old.

Seriously, sincerely, one of the reasons I even bother with politics is because I don’t want to be considered an ignoramus. Because what happens when Nigerian masses discuss our politics, via social media especially? What I know is that we huff, we puff, we use fancy words, newly-acquired vocabulary, then we drink the chill pill and wait for the next national abomination to happen. We never have to wait for long. One thing that amuses me in all of the hullabaloo is the jokes we make out of our mess. At least, if all our social media kung-fu achieves nothing, we can laugh and throw back our heads for good few seconds. No one will deny us that.

It’s not news to me that any top government official embezzles billions of money in hard currency. It’s not news to me that the nation’s money is what should supply them Louis Vuitton rice and Gucci garri, acquire and maintain their private jets and the private jets of their great-grand parents, buy them bullet-proof cars, sponsor the education of their children and their weddings, ensure their routine medical check-up at the best hospitals abroad, and generally give them a life that the average man can only fantasize of. It’s not news to me at all because Nigeria is a very forgiving nation. We don’t just forgive the people who drag us to ruin, we honour them, we remember them, even the ones whose proof that they ever existed should be at best, their graves.

I find Nigeria unbelievable, that the children of dictators would dare to speak in public places, that criminals would dare to seek public office again, that the common man would dare to forget and vote them back in, that ex-convicts would be celebrated and given traditional titles, that the simplest of justice cannot be served, that the most basic of needs cannot be met.

Maybe we deserve the leaders we have. As a matter of fact, we do, because I have witnessed great corruption at grassroot level. During my service year at a primary health centre, I recall about the only drugs that were to be given free being sold. I mean, even when poverty-stricken malaria-ravaged patients shed tears about not having money to pay for common malaria drugs, they were ordered out of the dispensary to come back when they had the money. Extra N200 in their purse was more important to them than the health of a patient. What even shocked me more was that they sold these free drugs at a greater cost than was obtainable in pharmacies. Please tell me what sort of leaders those pathetic grass-root thieves deserve. Ask random people around you if they would chop money if they occupied seats of authority. Hear their honest responses. Why should they get any better leaders? A leader is only a reflection of the people he leads.

Why do you think that all the curse wey we dey curse our leaders and NEPA no dey catch them? You are right, pot has no right to call kettle black. Only righteous people can lay effective curses, and righteous people know better than to curse. Bless, curse not. No?

Will the joke that is Nigeria ever come to an end?

7 LESSONS FROM MY MOTHER

1. Godliness + contentment = great gain. Her moderation (the one Philippians 4: 5 talks about) beats my imagination. She has never lived beyond her means.

2. A wise woman builds her home.

3. Financial wisdom. I don’t remember a time in my life that I did not save. As young as when I was 4 years old, she would randomly give us (I & my sibIings) money, according to our ages. Mine was usually a 50 kobo or N1 coin. Our househelp then encouraged me to save mine in empty casette cases, assuring me of their safety. Every time I went back, I never met my hard-earned coins. By the third time this unfortunate incident happened, I got wise. I know how to save my money. I keep learning how to invest it.

4. Humility. As long as you are not a thief, you should be proud of whatever work you find yourself doing. As long as you are legally earning your money, your work is honourable.

5. A woman must never be idle. There is no excuse why you shouldn’t work. The reason for idleness doesn’t exist.

6. Books books books. We never lacked books, academic and leisure. We ALWAYS had our own copies of every school textbook we needed and on time too. Growing up, it was a sin to write in printed books. Till date, I don’t as much as mark even my bible. My 9-year old bible doesn’t have a single underlining, despite the many preachers that have said ‘underline this part’ or ‘mark that part’. I simply copy into my note pad to acknowledge any emphasis.

7. If a mother doesn’t spend her money on her children, on who will she? 😀

ONE THING I’VE NOT LEARNT FROM MY MOTHER: how to walk round the market to get an item at the cheapest price possible.

I thank God for my mother. Her strength is amazing, her wisdom is evident.

I look forward to being a better mum than she is.

Happy Mothers’ Day to us.

Weekend Getaway

Being among writers, sitting and talking about writing is one of the most beautiful things ever, I tell you.

Such was the experience at the Bogobiri Creative Writing Workshop when I and nine other participants sat through hours on end, interrupted only by lunch. Reading. Writing. Arguing. Laughing. Having a really good time.

All the exercises we partook of were remarkable. Worthy of mention was one where we were given an excerpt and required to retell it. It was exciting listening to a story being retold in ten different ways, because even though we all knew the end, each story brought along its own peculiarity, complete with twists and turns.

Shout out to everyone who made this possible: Facilitators- Eghosa Imasuen, Igoni Barett; Sponsor- Etisalat; Host- Bogobiri, which was in itself a beautiful place of art and took the experience several notches higher.

Hopefully, I’d be able to get my new friends to guest-post here on my blog, and I can assure you of beautiful content and wonderful story-telling.

Stay tuned.

Vote Me For The Nigerian Blog Awards 2013

It’s because you went all out to nominate me that I was shortlisted in the Best Book, Poetry or Writing Blog category of the Nigerian Blog Awards 2013.

Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

Voting began on the 11th of November and will run through until December 8, 2013, shortly after which a winner will be announced.

If I needed your support in the past, I need it even more now. Here’s how you can support me:

Simply click here: http://nigerianblogawards.com/vote2013.php, enter your name and email address and then select krazan.tgc in the Best Book, Poetry or Writing Blog category. Just like A-B-C, no? (Please make sure to click the link on a confirmatory email which may be sent to you if you weren’t part of the nomination stage, in order to validate your vote).

Let’s finish this good work we’ve started. You know the drill. I’d appreciate if you got at least, one other person to vote for me. I’m counting on you.

Thank you.

u.a.e.b.l.u.f.i.t

She held the picture- dusty, frayed, ancient. They were holding hands, an eager smile lighting up her face, she looked into his eyes. She remembered the day vividly, sixty years ago. There were no diamond rings or exotic cars or vacations. He didn’t go on his knees with a proposal. He didn’t make any grandiose promises. He only brought his kinsmen and paid her bride price. He was agile with youthful strength and he vowed to provide for them both. She would never be hungry. She believed him.

She held the other picture, the one they had taken only a week before at Christmas. Her husband sat hunched at the middle chair, his head bald, his breathing laboured. She sat next to him, crossing her arthritic legs, holding his hand, baring a toothless smile. They were surrounded by their children, and their children’s children.

Chinazar Okoro©2013

TLIYE

I rewrote The Log In Your Eye, trying to fit it into an 800-word limit. Check on it:

Ten-year old Blessing crouched by the bed, the hot tears slowly making their way down her cheeks as her mother stormed back into their single room. The quarrels between mother and Friday had become more frequent recently, and more intense. Friday had stopped obeying, had started talking back, fighting back, leaving home. The last time he stormed out of the house, he didn’t return for two days. Mother didn’t go searching for him. Blowing bubbles with her gum, she announced, “When hunger catch am, he go come back. If he like make he no come back sef. No be im mate dey hussle? Shuo, no be Rasheed give im mama Nokia asha? See as he resemble him papa.”

“Look here,” Peace said lifting her daughter’s chin roughly, “If I hear say you open this door for Friday, na koboko I go take scatter ya nyash.”

That night, Friday did not return, not the next either, or the next after it. Blessing did not see him in school. Her mother never mentioned him.

One Sunday, it rained heavily. By evening, the rain had been reduced to drizzles. As the rain drops beat softly on the roof top, Blessing sat on the edge of the bed watching her mother apply layer upon layer of make-up.

By 7.00p.m, there was a knock on the door. Blessing stood to open it. She had never seen this one. He was dark and lanky with rotten teeth. He laughed too much, as though he were an excited 17-year old. The sound of his laughter was hollow, just the way a hungry man would laugh. Blessing felt slight pity for him. There was no food in the house. She wondered if he could handle the day’s business.

“Beans N50, dodo N20,” Peace handed N70 to her daughter. “No stand near the door. No go anybody house. I don warn you. When you don buy food, stay outside where rain no go touch you chop am.”

Blessing took the money and left without a word. The door lock clicked. She felt alone. She thought of Friday, and tears started to gather in her eyes. She wished he would return home, or take her with him. On nights like these, they would sit by the pavement. He would tell her his escapades. She would laugh. They would ignore the snorts of their neighbours and pretend they did not hear them warn their children to stay away from ‘that ashawo woman’s children’.

It was a month since Friday left the house. Peace did not talk about him. Blessing did not mention him. The lanky man had become a familiar face. “Oyibo,” he usually called Blessing after he was told her father was a Lebanese. Sometimes, he tipped her even, and Blessing did not think he was so hungry afterall. His laughter had gained some depth, but were still as frequent.

Peace turned to her daughter, tossing some clothes rapidly into a small travel bag, “I dey travel go Morocco. I wan get visa make the two of us go Europe. I no go tey. Na me and your uncle dey go. Make sure you lock this door every night. No go pesin house. U don hear me? I say make u no go pesin house.” Blessing nodded.

“Take N2000, manage am well well,” she said handing her a few naira notes. She zipped her bag up, and at the door added, “If you do any rubbish thing, na koboko I go take scatter ya nyash.”

Every night after her mother left, Blessing suffered insomnia, at first from fear of being alone, especially at nights when the knocks on the door were incessant, and later from the pangs of hunger that clawed at her stomach.

Blessing stopped going to school. No one asked of her, except Gbenro, the landlord’s son. Whenever she went out of the room, he always seemed to be around. “Ble ble,” he called her fondly, sometimes poking at her developing breasts, calling them ‘agbalumo’.

“Hunger dey catch you?” he asked, holding her quivering hands.

“Yes,” she replied feverishly. He laughed. His laughter was hollow and hungry, just like the lanky man with the rotten teeth.

“By 8 o’clock, open your door. I go bring food and coke for you.”

When he knocked, Blessing was on the bed shivering. She jumped out to light the small candle that lay on the table, pausing a while before opening the door. She let him in, and the aroma of the food made her dizzy. “Lock the door,” Gbenro commanded with a smirk. As she heard the click of the door lock, she remembered her mother’s words: If you do any rubbish thing, na koboko I go take scatter ya nyash.

Under her breath, she cursed her mother: May thunder fire ya nyash.

Chinazar Okoro©2013

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