See What’s Coming


It was raining cats and dogs as Seyi made for the small Baba Ijebu shop at Alayabiagba close to the popular Boundary market in Ajegunle. He needed to win some money before he lost his crush Sikira to Odior. “Ungrateful bastard”, he thought to himself as he ran towards his favourite Baba Ijebu joint. Odior had been his best friend for 10years and his partner in trouble making. Together they shared a room at number 49 Uzor street. It was a face-me-and-face-you apartment with trouble just across the hall. Everyone in Boundary market knew Seyi and Odior and they had stories to prove it too. However Odior had never been too keen on work. He worked on days when it was inevitable and when Seyi didn’t make much “tax” from the commercial bus drivers and motorcycle riders popularly called Danfo drivers and okada riders respectively. As a popular Agbero, Seyi had the task of forcefully collecting money from Danfo and okada drivers and remitting to the park chairman. He had daily targets and only after those targets had been met can he keep some money from himself. There were days he had nothing left. Those days were rare and far between.

Seyi had been to the Baba Ijebu joint early that morning to play the numbers, hoping that day his tide would turn. Just the week before, Odior had won N50,000 and since then, Odior hadn’t been to the house. However Seyi had seen him a few times with Sikira going into Easy Bar and he knew that Odior had finally crossed the line he had been waiting years to cross. “Ungrateful bastard”, he said again. This time loudly to himself. He will show both of them on these streets, he promised himself.

***

You had left home this morning for the Apapa ports to clear some of your containers already there waiting for a pass from immigration. You needed to get your goods out and into the waiting hands of your eager customers. Obinna your clearing and forwarding agent despite his years in Lagos and deep understanding of Yoruba hadn’t been able to get it done. The immigration officers were proving difficult and nothing he said would make them budge. You needed to fix it yourself. An inconvenience of course, but the thought of losing substantial money like that was not something you would consider. Of course you knew the officers only wanted more money and you went with a few extra bundles. As your driver descended Eko bridge and headed towards Ijora, you noticed the slight shower of that morning had graduated into huge sleets of rain. “Not today”, you thought. Apapa was difficult enough without rain. Slowly your car descended Ijora bridge which became Marine bridge as you drew even closer to Apapa. You noticed the queue of parked trucks and tankers on one side of the road, the bridges included. The queue had started from Ojuelegba, you recalled. Your driver made a right towards Ajegunle to avoid the traffic of trucks and tankers on Marine bridge. He would make a turn just before Mobil depot and then a beeline for the ports. Just the thought of the turns and diversions was stressing you already. You just wanted to be out of there as fast as possible.

***

The rain had slowly ebbed. It had been two hours and you were just still approaching Mobil. A truck had tried to make a turn and had overturned right in the middle of the road; blocking your side of the road. Typical of Lagos, the Danfos had quickly found a way to cut into the other side of the road; openly flouting traffic laws. Ajegunle equalled den on unlawfulness so you weren’t all that surprised. Law enforcement officers looked on, clueless. What quickly became a solution suddenly became hell as traffic on the other side of the road soon became locked too. From the look of it, no one would be going anywhere soon. Passengers were already alighting from the commercial buses and trekking down the road towards Boundary bus stop. The crowd was overwhelming, unending. Who would have thought the slums housed such number of people? You told your driver it was time to leave, he needed to find a way out and back home. You would call Obinna and ask him to pay whatever was needed. You rolled down your windows slightly to assess the situation and just then you saw him. He didn’t see you yet but you saw him.

***

Seyi held on to his Baba Ijebu tickets as he downed a shot of paraga at Iya Rasaki’s. He stepped it down with the peppered Ponmo which made Iya Rasaki’s paraga popular with the boys at Boundary park. It didn’t matter that it was a N50 distance from the park itself. There was something about Iya Rasaki’s paraga and peppered Ponmo on a cold rainy day. The combination sent a spiral of warmth down your spine and left your brain at maximum capacity. And Iya Rasaki’s ponmo gave life on all kinds of levels. Seyi thought about Rashida, Iya Rasaki’s second child. The girl was not bad and he had seen how some of the boys described her with lustful looks in their eyes. He had even seen a few attempt to corner the girl but Iya Rasaki was always there to shield the girl. She just knew where to be and when. But Sikira was his real prize and he had let Odior beat him to it. He couldn’t believe it himself. Seyi had looked up just then to see you sitting in that car. He sat frozen in time. You hadn’t changed much, he thought as all the emotions he had kept at bay slowly began to hit him.

***

You saw the emotions run through his face. Recognition. Shock. Sadness. Pain. Anger. You saw his face as he fought the emotions for control. Just like his father, you thought.

***

Seyi remembered in detail. How years before you had told him to learn to take care of himself. How you wouldn’t be around much. How you needed to find his father’s people. And one day, he got home from school and found you gone. No note. No contact detail. The next day your sister had come for him. She had passed two years later and with no way to reach you, he had gathered what he could and left the house.

***

You looked at the man sitting across the road from your car. He reminded you of the man you loved. You had thought you’d be back in weeks with enough to take care of you and your son. Instead a few weeks had become months. You had begged your sister to keep taking care of your son till you could. Months had become years. Your sister had died and the boy had left home. You searched and searched but no one knew where he was. Now, there he sat across the road from you.

***

Seyi slowly rose to his feet. He looked across the road at you and you saw that big smile you remembered so well. You smiled back at him. Just then, he flagged down a bike and just as quickly, he was gone. There were no goodbyes.

***

End.

 

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Lost


That morning, Salewa logged in to her twitter account to find another tweet of a missing 16-year old girl. This time it wasn’t the usual stranger asking everyone to Retweet until the missing girl was found. This time it was her friend @niniayo who posted that his younger sister was missing. He had gone ahead to include his phone number for anyone who might have any information about the missing girl. Already the post boasts over 500 retweets and Salewa realized her 2-day hiatus made her miss the post. Lately it had been the norm – missing teenagers, kidnapped school children, residents killed in their houses. Salewa hurriedly took her mind off the recent happenings to concentrate on the post staring squarely at her through her phone screen. She did the needful by quoting the post “She’s my friend’s sister. If you’ve seen her please call this number”, posting it and then retweeting the original post by Niniayo. It was Tuesday morning.

The alarm on her phone subsequently went off. It was lecture time and she was still at home. She contemplated calling Niniayo first but decided not to. After all, there was a chance they’d meet in one of the classes holding that day. “Wasn’t Fiction class holding today?” She asked herself. Everyone called Niniayo “Ayo” because “Niniayo” sounded like a name one’s parents would give a daughter. Salewa hurriedly went into the bathroom she shared with about 50 other girls on the first floor of Queen Amina hostel at the University of Lagos. The day was going to be a tight one. There was still that quarrel to settle with Titi her best friend. Salewa had told Titi that her (Titi’s) boyfriend was cheating on her. The matter had led to a row and Titi’s boyfriend had accused Salewa of being lesbian who wanted Titi for herself. “Funny matter,” Salewa whispered to herself, smiling in that smug way of hers. She definitely was no lesbian, especially with her here-and-there relationship with Ayo. She and Ayo were not close enough to be called an item, but they were close enough for something to be brewing between them. However, Salewa sometimes gets the feeling she’s misreading signs from Ayo. “Time will tell”, she mused. Their friends knew they were just really good friends or worst case scenario, friends with benefits. She never bothered with what people said. There was class to attend and the thesis supervisor to meet after. There was also the school Library to visit as well.“One at a time”, Salewa said to herself as she headed out of the bathroom to get ready for school and face the business of the day.
*******************************************************
“How long are we supposed to keep her?” Awele heard the-man-with-the-slur ask. By now she knew there were three of them and she’d come to identify them by their voices. The men never call each other by name when with her. There was man-with-the-slur, man-that-stammers and man-with-the-calm-voice. Of the three, man-with-the-calm-voice scares her the most. Something tells her behind the calm is a devil she wouldn’t like to meet. Awele has been held for so long now that she could have lost count by a few days. However the rise and set of the sun which she peeped through her not-too-tight blindfold helped her keep count. It’s been no more than three days.

Awele knew Ayo would be blaming himself right now. She was supposed to wait for him to get back from class the day she was taken so he could drop her off at boarding school but Awele had wanted to see the latest Spiderman movie at the nearby Ikeja City Mall. She knew Ayo would never let them watch it, he despised Spiderman. Ayo’s said there was nothing unique about Peter Parker. That he was just a science experiment that bit into the wrong hands. Literally. And as a rule in the house, Awele was never to go anywhere without Ayo. She could not bear going back to Queen C, the nickname for the prestigious Queen’s College situated at the heart of Yaba, to tell her friends that she hadn’t yet seen Peter Parker’s latest antics. It would only confirm everything they think of her –Daddy’s girl.

So immediately Ayo had left for class that day, Awele had snuck out of the house and joined a cab from GRA to City Mall. She had done it several times with Ayo she could have done it so many times in the past by herself. But that was the first time she will be doing it.
************************************************************
Ayo was shouting at Charles in front of the faculty – something about grown men acting and talking like women. He kept shouting at the poor guy who stood bewildered at the rage. Everyone knew Ayo had been temperamental since his sister went missing. There was a bond between Ayo and Awele which many do not yet understand. Not even their parents. So his mood was explainable. But why Charles?
************************************************************
Mr. and Mrs. Ofure had been with the police trying to find their missing girl while their home was swamped with sympathizers. Ayo stayed away from home more, avoiding the pitiful glances of sympathizers especially with the continued absence of his missing sister. On one of such days, Mrs. Ofure had walked into Awele’s room to ensure it was in order. She wanted to stay connected to her child. She walked in and found a couple of lipstick stains on the dresser as if someone had left them there in a hurry. She looked around the house hoping in her heart that the girl had somehow returned home. The lipstick stains. She wondered at the lipstick stains.
*************************************************************
“Hiya! Thi-th-this world dooooon spoil o. Wha-wha-wha-what is-this world co-co-ming to?” Awele heard the man-that-stammers say to man-the-calm-voice.
“How caaaaa-an man be slee-slee-slee-slee-ping with man, Ngwanu?” He continued. “Tuuuuu-tu-fiakwa”. Just the, music credit from Fox’s Empire series filtered in through the room where Awele was being held. She instinctively knew that whatever man-that-stammers was about, Jamal Lyon was right at the centre.
“Thiiiiiis Oyibo peo-eo-ple dey ma-ma-mad I swearrrr. H-ha-how pikin go for front of hiiim Pa-pa-pa talk say na-na man li-li-like am him dey like kp-kp-kpansh? I tr-trust my Papa. Pa-pa-pa…”

Shhh”, man-with-calm-voice cuts in in that commanding tone that lets you know who’s in charge.

“Guy abeg”, man-that-stammers retorted. “I-i-i-magine say for that yaaaaa vil-lage, your wife tell you say sh-sh-she born man. As in ma-ma-man wey strong, man wey-wey be say if your wa-wife born as first pi-pi-pikin, other men go-go-go greet you Twa-le! Say-say you do-do-do well. Ma-make that man com-co-come say na fe-fellow man e wan-wan dey follow”.

“But na true dis guy talk”, says the man-with-a-slur. “Our people talk say pikin wey go be man, na from how him stretch him small manhood we go take know. This kain one wey dey wear girl cloth, e don already dey show where him manhood dey.”

Again the man-with-calm-voice said, “pikin no go bad sote we go carry am give lion chop. As pikin don say na man im like nko? Nna, no be that one we come do for here. After all, this thing na film”

As snippets of the conversations got to Awele, she again remembered Ayo. As a child, she always went in search of the next toy to play with – from Barbie Dolls to neighbours’ children to classmates. She always wanted more playmates. Being the only girl, she even begged her parents for a sister but their parents already had a plan. They would not have more than 2 children. And Ayo already came first. Awele didn’t mind that. Only that sometimes, she wished Ayo was a girl so they could both bond in a way only sisters could.
*************************************************************
It’s been three days since Awele went missing. Whenever Ayo had been home, he’d go straight Ayo to Awele’s room but no one knew. He missed Awele greatly and holidays when they could both hang-out were his best. Awele was a great listener and very intuitive. She understood him and could almost read his mind. Every minute with his little sister felt like she was put in the family to be his guardian. Even though she was younger, sometimes Ayo felt she helped him keep his sanity amidst all the expectations their father heaped on him. When they were younger, their father had put him in boarding school just because he was playing dress up with Awele and had dressed up as a girl. He didn’t understand it. It was innocent child’s play. Ayo knew how deeply Awele wanted a sister and how much their parents wished he were a girl, their-mother-come-back, they’d mentioned countless times before. So in that one instant, he thought to himself, “let me be a girl just this once. Let me be her sister just this once”. It was an instant that changed everything.

Ayo had pleaded with their father to let him remain at his former school and promised never to dress up as a girl again. Their father had been adamant. His reason: Ayo was supposed to be the elder. Why should an elder dress like a girl to make his sister happy?
Ayo had resumed his new school a sullen child. Gone was the care-free Ayo. Awele became his only connection to the life he was once a central part of and only when he was with her would anyone find a smile on his face. By the time she was completing her primary education, Ayo was getting ready for his senior secondary education.

Not long after, she had been enrolled into Queen’s College which was a far distance from his secondary school. He realized he could no longer sneak around to see her in school as he had done in her primary school. But his admission into the University of Lagos changed that. It meant he could always stop at QC to see Awele.

Then Ayo met Salewa and he could see everything his sister was and more. And again a lot changed with him. He had found someone outside his sister who could understand him. Someone who didn’t have to wait for him to say anything to know what he was thinking. They were really good friends, at least that was the front they kept among their other friends. However only he and Salewa knew there were sparks in there somewhere. His friendship with Salewa changed a lot of things. She knew he was carefree but the expectations from his father put pressure on him and on some days his smiles were far. But with her and Awele, it was easier for him to laugh.

No one knew he and Salewa were more than friends. A lot of times, he had overheard friends and class mates saying that Salewa was a lesbian and that the only man they ever saw her with was Ayo. He always laughed when whispers like that came to him. Salewa was a voracious lover. He knew that for sure. This time, a big smile came to him. It was an easy laugh. He let it out just as easily.
His mind went back to another time. He was nine. He had returned from playing football at the field just opposite their home when he overhead his mother speaking with his father.

“You know Osaron I had wished Ayo was a girl when I first held him. I so wanted Mama to come back to us.”
“Our mother returned to us, Omo”, he replied. “She only came as a boy”.
“If he were mother, she wouldn’t come as a boy”, she replied.
“He is such a handsome boy. I think we should have given him a name of his own, instead of imposing Mother’s on him”, his father affirmed.
“I agree, we should”, his mother replied as if reading her husband’s mind.
It all made sense to Ayo then. The jokes Ayo’s classmates made of his name. How they said it was a girl’s name. They made fun of him. And one day, when he had had enough, he changed the name on his notebook to just “Ayo” and he had punched anyone in the face who so much as snickered behind his back. But that day, he realized he was not the child his parents wanted. They wanted their mother back and he came. He was supposed to be a girl.

A week later, he had found Awele crying from her favourite toy missing an arm. In no time at all, he had her laughing again. Their father had walked in on them. “Abomination”, he had shouted as he looked disdainfully at Ayo who was in one of their mother’s clothes which they had both made into a cropped top over his chest. Two weeks later Ayo was on his way to King’s College and it was the last time Ayo ever played dress up.
************************************************************
It’s been two weeks since Awele went missing. Four days since she was put on a bus along with 12 other girls to begin their trip to Europe. She had been sold to a prostitution ring and her new buyers will hear nothing of calling her parents for a ransom. She would work her way to freedom, they had decided.

For Ayo, it’s equally been two weeks. Two weeks since he decided, until Awele returned, he would be the daughter their parents had always wanted. The daughter Awele would have been if she was home. Mr. Ofure had denounced him immediately, refusing to habour an abomination in his home. “No son of mine will live in my home a girl”, he had announced furiously. Their mother had been inconsolable.

Salewa had gone back to Twitter and posted “My boyfriend is now a girl. His sister is still missing. My bad, make that “her””. Already she boasts of over 10,000 retweets with even more mentions and replies. Retweets are still counting.

Written by Taiwo Odumala
©July 2017

The Driving Test


I don’t like tests. Don’t get me wrong, I pass them. But I don’t like them. Reason? How does my answering them correctly indicate that I really know what I know? How do 5 sets of questions determine that I have really learnt what I was meant to over a period of time? What if I didn’t actually know the answers and only crammed them for the purpose of passing the test? I digress.

So about a week ago, I carried out a test of my own. Some kind of survey – let’s call it a driving test. It started when I mentioned in a Whatsapp status that I find it weird that when I’m driving on expressways linking two or more states, I rarely find women behind the wheel. But the moment I get into a state, women crop up almost one out of every two cars. So I carried out a survey – 12 women responded, all between ages Twenty-five and Forty-five. Four of those Twelve have been driving less than three years. Only one doesn’t own a car or drive. Only one doesn’t own a car but drives. Their reason, fear – fear of trucks and tankers, fear of bad roads, fear of car breaking down with no help coming, fear of commercial drivers. Truth be told, those Danfos and trucks can put the fear of God in somebody especially when they swerve to your lane and start saying “wo egbe e o” (watch your side o) while simultaneously hitting the side of their bus/trucks or just full out blaring their horns. But it’s my lane now, you think to yourself. Before you know it, they are right ahead of you threatening another car to wo-egbe-e-o as they move to take that space too. They are not okay walahi!

Picture this.
My friend Biona *not real name was heading to Surulere sometime ago. She prides herself on being street and strong-headed – one of those I-no-go-gree people. But the moment a truck blares its horn or she sees a trailer coming at full speed behind her, gra-gra don end. She swerves into the exit lane and parks the car. Then she waits an extra three to five minutes after the truck has gone to continue her journey.
***

The first time I stepped behind the wheel of a car was in Sagamu at one secondary school at High Court road. The next time I stepped behind a wheel was on Oda Road in Akure. My driving school instructor, let’s call him Baba, cramped 4 of us inside the car and gave us lessons while we all took turns to drive. Just before the roundabout towards Governor’s office, I was to exit the roundabout at the second turning and make my way towards a side road leading to Ijoka road. I nearly climbed the curb. My mistake was trying to figure out how to switch gears and still shuttle between brakes and clutch and the throttle. I looked down. Next thing, I was on the receiving end of a “Towa”. It was a hot slap that landed on the back of my neck. Anger rose up in me and tears sprang from the pain. I nearly retorted then I realized any comment I made at that time would have me “being referred home”. i.e. I would be regarded as a person with no home training for talking back or shouting at an elder. I held my tongue. Ah! The effort.

Back at the driving school, Baba said in Yoruba: A car is not something you pose with. It is a machine. It can kill. It requires a lot of responsibility – to you, to other road users, to the car. And one thing you don’t want to do when you drive is be afraid. You must have no fear when you handle a car. You must not panic. Behind the wheel, you must pack up your fears and throw them out.

Several times while living in Apapa, I snuck under a parked truck waiting for another truck to pass. Whenever that happened which was frequently, I was afraid. Every time I looked around me and all I saw was a sea of parked and moving 9ft 6inches high trucks and trailers, I almost pissed in my seat. So I psyched myself out of those fears. So a trailer is honking like a mad man. Ehn he should fly now. He sha won’t climb over me. Okay, Danfo is flashing lights behind me. Eh yah! He’ll wait noni.

I can hear your thoughts right now; this one wants to die o, you’re thinking. Truth be told, if you parked every time a trailer or Danfo blares at you, when will you ever get to where you’re going?
Let’s go back to my test.

Here’s the thing: no matter what, the fears will always be there. Who says we can’t do things afraid? What’s life without fears, without risks and without the strength to push them aside? The Greatest Showman has something to say – comfort is the enemy of progress. So for now I’ll go on in the world, in hope that one day, one woman will join me in driving on the expressways. And that woman will become ten women. And ten will become hundred until one day I can drive on the expressway and not have people look at me like I have the wrong head on my body.

Selah!

Moments from my Growing Years (1)


“You will kill me today”, I cried as I continued to slap the hands of a boy who wouldn’t stop beating me. I was in JS1 and he was in my class too. He was at least 3years older and much bigger. I was a typical smallie in secondary school which meant everyone was much bigger than I was. And there I was, caught in a case of beat-me-I-beat-you.

I’ll get back to this incident in a bit.

One of the things I learnt in various literature classes is that a writer is an embodiment of experiences and his society; all of which must come to bear on his writing. I hated Shakespeare. He wasn’t an easy read especially as G.C.E/WAEC made him a mandatory one. My first meeting with Shakespeare was in SS2 when I was studying for G.C.E. Before that, I had an almost non-existent relationship with Literature. Although I had spent the last 2 years in Arts class, we didn’t have a Literature teacher. So imagine being thrust with a book written in 15th century English. Oh my God! I struggled. Then I took that G.C.E, the first of 3 I’d eventually write. We were to discuss a scene from Merchant of Venice. How do I explain something I didn’t understand? Needless to say, I failed that paper overwhelmingly.

I have been in a lot of literature classes since then. Not enough, but a lot. I realized early enough that characters are not that different from real life. Their choices are influenced by the culture, society and age they live. In one word, nurture.

The experiences that shaped me happened mostly in Secondary school and University. I attended a notorious secondary school in Lagos state – Trinity Secondary School, Olodi-Apapa. At the time, it was a government school acquired from the Mission. I was one of the smallest and youngest in class. We had lots of teachers but the classes were overcrowded. We students didn’t make things easy either. We were noisy, we were loud. We were easily distracted. We fought at the slightest opportunity. So when teachers came to class, it was either to give notes to the class captain who then proceeded to copy to the board for the rest of us or to give tests.

The school was all shades of trouble waiting to happen. But the real trouble began in 2003 when the government decided to return all Mission schools back to the Mission (I hope I’m right with the year). My school was one of those. School fees were introduced. That alone reduced the class by more than half as most couldn’t afford it. Teachers left, the school could no longer pay them. We were left with mostly mediocre teachers who didn’t care whether we got educated so long as they were paid. In essence, teachers left faster than you could say Dele and there were months we didn’t have subject teachers.

But let me go back to that JS1 experience at the beginning of this story. We’d had a test that day, just before break and I had covered my book to discourage anyone from spying. This boy was sitting right behind me and kept stretching his neck to see. After the test and during break, he asked why I covered my book since he was openly copying from me. As a smallie in a class of bullies, my mouth did most of the fighting where my hands couldn’t. I insulted the boy and told him I would go report. Biggest mistake ever! The boy beat me blue black, and when I reported , the teacher simply said “Ah, it’s Sadiq! You too should have shown him your work now. Abi what’s there?” My tears would not end. I cried and cried. As I was later to find out, Sadiq was one of those boys who got away with anything because his school father was one of those who terrorized the school. The teacher did not want to be attacked.

I cried all the way home. My dad asked what happened and I told him I was beaten. The minute I said the boy was my classmate, my father said, “Your classmate beat you and you came crying home? You better go back tomorrow and beat him too.” To my father, the boy’s age and size didn’t matter. The fact was the boy was my classmate. So I went to school the next day, ready to “beat my own back” but knowing fully well that I would get even worse beating.

When Sadiq came to class, I went to him and slapped him. Everyone looked at me with probably one thought running through their mind: “this girl wants to die”. Sadiq beat me again. Then I beat him in return. It became a case of beat-me-I-beat-you. By this time, everyone in class was waiting to see what would happen next. My tears were a waterfall and I couldn’t even see amidst it all. I only knew I had to keep beating in the direction of my last slap. Sadiq kept beating me and saying “I’ll kill this girl. Somebody hold her o” but I didn’t stop. No matter how much beating I got in return, I kept beating back. Then Sadiq got tired and stopped but my hands were in automatic mode and I wouldn’t stop. That was when the Principal came in: to see what was causing the noise coming from JS1B. We both got punished but Sadiq got the bigger one for “spying” and then bullying. Sadiq left in JS3 when school fees were introduced.

However I learnt two crucial lessons that day. One, no matter how hard life gets, no matter how huge that problem, a win is just around the corner. Two, only after you’ve fought for yourself will anyone else fight for you – if they will fight for you at all.

PS: Till date, I still don’t know how to report anyone. You won’t even hear Taiwo reported me to so and so. Once beaten… or in my case, twice beaten.

Ramadan: Dressing for Work Without Breaking “Much” Rules.


Happy Democracy Day Nigeria.

So Ramadan started a few days ago and in a lot of ways, I’m still not prepared for it. But hey, we must Fast. So today I’ve decided to talk about Ramadan and dressing especially for those of us who work in places where there’s no room for the flowing dresses and Hijab that Islam mandates us to wear as females.

IMG_20170529_072139First things first. If like me you were totally unprepared for Ramadan and didn’t get time to shop for clothes right before, below are simple tips on how to rock the items currently in your wardrobe (at least until you can shop for a few new clothes).

These tips are however limited to head scarves, dresses and pants as they cover the core body parts in Islam.

Let’s begin with head covers. Yes, before Ramadan, you love flaunting those really nice weaves and wigs but how do you keep up with that in Ramadan where you want to cover your hair but you know covering weaves mean itching especially with the Nigerian climate. Well, I say go for braids or cornrows with extensions. They are easier to keep under a scarf/turban and even better with short/small scarves. You get to remain the classy, chic lady without getting your Boss worked up. For white scarves, to avoid hair oil stains, use a wig cap or small silk scarf before tying on the white scarf. It’s easier to wash after.

Again if like me, you’re wondering what to do about those short dresses in your wardrobe till after Ramadan, I say do a little mixing up. Wear those dresses over your pants (Jeans or plain). Try putting that really nice dress over a nice pant in another colour closer to it on the colour wheel, whip out your bag, sunshade, heels or flats and, hello workplace. If you are not really good with what colour goes with what, then stick with black pants or neutral colours underneath those dresses until you figure it out.

Looking for where to do a few quick shopping this Ramadan without going out of your way? Check out @fsquam on Instagram. She has really nice items. Also see below a few of her collections.IMG_20170524_204041

Remember, no matter what you wear, with the right accessories and the right amount of confidence, there’s no stopping you.

 

 

House Hunting in Lagos: Things They Don’t Tell You


First things first, Lagos apartments are OVERPRICED. If you think you will get value for your money, please get ready to be shocked out of your wits. What you will find is that rent property quality is not even at par with the cost placed on it. I’ll get back to this in a bit.

Source: Google
Source: Google

So January 1st this year I had a list of what I want in 2017 and top of that list was paying my own rent. Rationale: My dad retires this year and it was past time papa mia stopped footing the rest of my responsibilities. Then I thought again, Olodi-Apapa (where I currently stay) is too far. I’ll search for a place in a central location in Lagos and pay.

Thus the search began. First I learnt that what I have known as a self-contained apartment all my life is called the Mini-flat in Lagos. So by Lagos definition, a self-contained apartment is just one-room with bathroom and toilet carved into a corner of it and a Mini-flat is usually a room, sitting-room, kitchen and toilet facilities in it. For me and everywhere I have lived (Ogun and Ondo) except Lagos, what I described as a self-contained apartment will be regarded as just what it is – a room.

Source: Bellanaija

That understood, I limited my search to “Mini flat” in Ilupeju, Airport Road area of Oshodi, Gbagada, Yaba, Onipanu and Maryland. Budget: 250,000 Naira per year. Can I hear some short snorts, somebody? Google became my friend, that’s aside the BBM announcement I made about searching. The first few responses I got to this “advert” was “250k? For Miniflat in this Lagos? Make it 300 or worse 350 na”. At this, I get my small Nokia and put the calculator to good use. Let somebody not come and be counting bridges in Lagos abeg. After the calculation, I realised going up on my initial will put plenty pressure on my pocket. After rent, I will sha still pay bills and feed and look good; all of which also cost money. So 250k or nothing.

Between Jiji.com and Nigeriapropertycentre.com, I managed to find some agents. The first I met in Yaba, very customer-centric, was the one who taught me the difference between self-con and Miniflat according to Lagos. Then we (My twin and I) decided to go see the apartment and then he says we’ll be paying 3000naira for inspection fee. The Ijebu in me kicked in. I need to pay to check? What if I don’t like the place? Will I get refund? Answer: No. I calculated; if I saw five different agents to check different places, 15000 is gone? LOL! So I quickly told him I’ll call him later about it as we’re undecided as to whether we want Yaba.

Source: Google

My next stop was Oshodi. I saw two places there. The first place, if you have a car, you will be parking on the street. That told me one thing. The man who owns the house is not progressive. Is he praying his tenants never own cars? Did I mention the almost non-existent ventilation? Lagos is hot enough for one to add cramped apartment to the wahala. My answer, Mbanu! The second place had a very poor road network, and the apartment, two stories up, had not been connected to water. Again, no thank you. For both I paid 1,500naira inspection fee.

Please note that at this time, I hadn’t thought to ask my dad how much my current two-bedroom apartment costs. Next stop was Ogudu, this one was found by a friend. The sad part about that area was that both ways, I will always be in traffic: whether to work or from work. That’s like adding ten years to my twenty-something already. Still, let’s see the apartment. It was nice. The builder or landlord however made a mistake: the window of the sitting room and the stair outside the house are on the same level; which meant if it rained and water flows down the stairs, it will flood the room. Did I go in rainy season? No. How did I know? Chuck that to the few times my twin and I have gone to Popsi’s house while it was being constructed. The detailed eye helped where nice would have just been enough for some people.

Long story short, I found another apartment at Onipanu. 270,000 yearly as rent and 120,000 for “agency and commission”, the agent said. Total: 390,000 Naira in the first year. Note again, this is rent only. Then I called papa and he said “120k commission and agency? Isn’t it supposed to be 10percent of rent again? That’s what the law says. That’s too much to pay”. That’s when I decided to ask, “Daddy, how much do you pay for this our place?” Let’s just say the answer got me realising I can pay 1 and three-quarter year’s rent at my current place. Did I mention that my current house can comfortably park 10 cars, has steady water supply and is only “far” when you’re coming from after Oshodi (Ikeja, Ojota, Ketu, Ikorodu)? Also to and from work or anywhere, I’m always against traffic unless the Apapa traffic demons (oil tankers and freight vehicles) are out to play.

Source: Google
let’s just stop here please

Final decision: Rent paid and I will not be moving.

Lessons Learnt?

  1. Lagos apartments are priced based on Location. Please note, location doesn’t necessarily mean quality apartment. It only means you’ll be paying almost double the price of a Mile 2 apartment in Yaba
  2. Only you know your pocket. Don’t let your big girl/boy status be determined by those who think living in one area isn’t good for your status when they are not supporting you with a dime.
  3. That thing they say about Lagos and packaging, it’s true. Don’t let your need for a fine house take your eyes off the really important details. Go with a detailed eye.
  4. If you have a low budget like the one I had, look beyond the really catchy areas of Lagos. It doesn’t make sense to drive a Murano while living in one-room in Magodo when you can get a mini-flat or standard flat at the same rate in Okota, Mile 2, Palmgrove or Egbeda and still drive that Murano.
  5. Only you know what you want. Don’t let Lagos’ idea of what is good make you lower your standard.
  6. Most importantly, life is too short to be living to pay rent alone.

 

What It Really Means To Be a Man in Nigeria (A Lady’s Perspective)


This is for every man out there who is in constant psychological battle for his masculinity
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Gentlemen, shall we?
For once let’s talk about what it means to be a man. Let’s leave society’s drama of man versus woman and social media standards of men and women. Let’s look beyond the Yoruba demon hash tags and the men-are-insensitive speeches and take a look at what it really means to be a man.

Admittedly the Nigerian society is unfair on women. It’s very demanding on us, tasking us to have woven ourselves many yards thick into the fabric of wifely actions and/or inactions from our teenage years. Judging us to be good wives and great mothers, expecting us to birth and raise children who will be model citizens from the moment we become women and making sure anything short gets us the “you’re not a good woman” tag. But this is not about women.

Carried away by the noise constantly raging between the sexes, we forget that this part of the world is equally unfair on men. It’s more subtle but it’s there. It’s there every time you approach a girl for a relationship and in the first few sentences, she’s gauging how much you’re worth, if you can cater for her needs and if you can really match up with the image of the man she has in her head. So first you have to be better than the man in her head or some prior man in her life.

imageSociety’s unfairness is there in the subtle way it expects you to cater to your family and woman’s needs not minding whether you even have enough for yourself. It’s also there in other men’s expectations of you. So from go, you’re made aware of the many people you have to convincingly provide for to be called a man. There’s you, family (nuclear and extended), woman (or women) and of course social responsibility. It’s brutal if you’re unable to. Society will not hold back.

So you get a job to keep up with those expectations. You’re happy with the job but soon, the little you make is no longer enough because the bills at home keep going up or “your mates are driving good cars and you’re still on leggedez benz” or “Temi’s boyfriend took her to Dubai for Christmas but where did you take me?” So you buckle up and start one or two side-businesses in order to meet up responsibilities and keep up with the social scene. Did I forget to mention that the kind of career you find yourself increases your reputation? Oil sector is equal mega hit. Business and ICT equals he-get-prospects. Banking is big-boy. Medicine/Law/Engineering gets you a he’s-a-professional. Every other, you’re on your own. Try explaining to a Nigerian what it is you do as a copywriter (hopefully they don’t get it confused with copyright).

The unfairness is there in the expectations from family in taking care of your younger ones or in even supporting the home front especially if you’re the first born son. And just when you’re getting the hang of it, just when you’re beginning to understand what it means to be a man, then you’re subtly urged to begin to include iyawo rere in prayers because you need a woman who will hold home down so you can focus on the hustle. So like the woman who doesn’t want to be tagged for Shiloh 2030, as a man too, you don’t want the tag of someone who can’t keep a woman. So you try to be a man and man your way through heartbreaks and sadness and deaths and depression and manipulation and family. So you learn to be bigger than you really are, even if it means faking it and dressing it up. You have to be a man. Remember?

deceptionWhat about sex? Every day you go online, somebody is talking about 6 inches and 9 inches and without even realizing it, you’re measuring yourself against someone’s preconceived idea of how many inches you need to be a conqueror in bed. You begin to wonder if that hot new girl you are about to conquer has been with someone bigger or smaller and if you’ll somehow do better or less than her last man. You begin to ask yourself if the you’re-the-man which Precious was chanting the last time you both rolled in the hay was her being good at faking orgasm or her being the real deal.

In the end, the struggle to be a man is no small feat. Men may break your heart, take advantage of your love, choose the hustle over you; in the end those things are things  society conditioned them to be in order to be called a man.

So for once, guys tell us, what does it mean to be a man?

This thing called Youthful Exuberance


As a writer, there are certain things that come to you easily; particular attention to things (details) even when it seems you are not looking.

So sometime ago, a contact of mine used a Display Picture that most people keep hidden, an insignia of a particular confraternity. Usually I’m not one to ask people stuff about their DP except we are very good friends, I proceeded to ask him about it nonetheless and if he was a member. He answered in the affirmative. He then proceeded to explain his reason as “youthful exuberance”. My antenna went up just then. I thought he could have just own up to his choices and then let it go. I’m a sucker for people who own up to their choices, good and bad anyway. But calling his choice “youthful exuberance” when he is apparently still proud of his membership didn’t go down well with me.

For me, youthful exuberances are choices one would rather not associate with as one grows, but which are part of a person’s growing up reality. If you’re proud of your choices as an adult, then it no longer qualifies as youthful exuberance. A friend argues that though youthful exuberance is not necessarily something you’re not proud of, it could be something you’ve outgrown nonetheless.

If this guy’s choice was something he has outgrown or regret because he did it out of curiosity or peer pressure (I didn’t ask his reason), why is he identifying with that choice? However, confraternity is not the subject of this article. This article is about a young man who blamed his choices on youthful exuberance when he still very much enjoys the benefits of that choice as a young adult.

I think everyone of us have done things that looking back, either makes us smile, fill us with regrets, make us wish for those times, is the reason why a particular nickname stuck or just become great entertaining stories for when we meet old friends again. I think it is fair to call exuberances experiments i.e. experimenting with life until we get to that point where we can make informed decisions about what to let go of and what to continue with. If as a young person, I had experimented with drugs and alcohol and then decided to stop because I have outgrown that period of my life, then I can call it exuberance. If I had at one time derived joy in partying all day every day, going from one party to another, with no direction to my life and then one day I stopped it all, then that also qualifies as youthful exuberance. But if I still do these things and take pride in them, then it is not exuberance.

I’m open to a different opinion though. What do you think qualifies as youthful exuberance and what does exuberance mean to you?

Bae Monitoring: The Many Ways You Are Doing It Wrong


Once upon a time, I was a radio freak. Radio put me to bed every night and woke me up in the morning. I remember there used this be this show on Cool FM (before adverts got more space than programmes) where listeners called in to have their boyfriends/girlfriends tested. Basically all the listener needed to do was call in, provide phone number of the said person and give vital information that could help the presenter cook up a valid lie.

On this particular day, a guy called in. According to him, he had invested money, time and emotions on the lady and he was at the stage where home-to-mama was the next sensible thing. However he wanted his lady tested so he can be sure they were on the same page. The presenter called the lady; let’s call her Sandra, telling her that a company she applied to is of the opinion that she is the best candidate for them. However, because of the nature of the job, they require people without commitments as they will be more flexible. The presenter then asked her, “Do you have a boyfriend?” If it were you, biko, what would your answer be? Therefore, Sandra answered, “No”. Na there kata kata burst.

Somebody lied!!
Somebody lied!!

Let’s come back to two days ago. While scrolling through Twitter, I saw a tweet about how you can find out if your boo has other boos via http://www.knowyourboo.com . Na so I click. I was curious about the new ways people have invented for monitoring their partners.

According to the Masterminds of this app, “the only thing you and your Boos’ other boos have in common is you all call the same number (well except your Boo is one of those James Bond kind- then we can’t help you), so the more people enter your Boo’s phone number, the more potential boos your Boo has.” I’ll try to ignore the “Boos’” up there as that technically means even the person wey dey search for Boo’s Boo get plenty but I’ll chuck it up as grammatical error. Who else sees the fault in this creation? Just in the event that I’m the only one seeing it, let me share.

Say for example, 20 of my friends input my number and follow the prompts thereafter. According to the app, that translates to me having 20 “potential” boos, not minding that those who searched me out could be anyone. Let’s just take this as another app to add humour to our already boring lives (Something tells me this could be Anakle at it again. Remember that Bride Price app that went viral one time? Yeah)

Maybe she's not just his student
Maybe she’s not just his student

This brings me to the many things people do to monitor their partners. I’ve been privy to instances where Baes ask their Boos to give the phone to whichever friend the Boo had told them they’d be with just to confirm if Boo is where he/she claimed to be. All to be sure they’re being cheated on. Why go into so much trouble? What happened to trust in relationships?

In my opinion, if your boyfriend/girlfriend is a passive, chronic or not a cheat, you would know at a certain point in the relationship. However I have to agree that some are actually gods at this cheating thing, you would never know. The question is, after knowing, what do you do with that information? Do you stay in the relationship and keep hoping that you monitoring them will eventually cause them to stop? Do you take it as fate and look the other way just so you don’t kill yourself on top man matter? Do you go on one of your own and defend it with the tit-for-tat resolve or do you just get out of the relationship altogether?

Who is he talking to?
Who is he talking to?

Really I think monitoring your partner is just a quicker way to six feet below. Yes, you can ask bae where he/she is at, but leave him or her with the discretion of whether to tell you whom they are with. Usually, you wouldn’t need to ask. However going the route of asking them to give someone else the phone, following them everywhere in a taxi, stalking their social media or even calling in to radio shows to have them checked out, that’s way over the top.

So if you ask me, the best way to monitor bae is not to monitor bae.

But do tell, have you ever monitored your Bae (past or present)?