Stop It! Writing Is Not “Ordinary”


Today, I’m addressing this issue of Nigerians who disregard writers or writing generally because they see it as something anybody can do. Nigerians need to start respecting creative people especially writers. I know many don’t see writing as a prestigious career but if you love television, movies, music and gaming, then you need to shift your thinking about writing. Programmes are created by writers. The movies you love so much were first, stories on paper. That show you can’t get enough of on TV, were written by guess who – writers. Jenifa’s Diary has a script. The Wedding Party which everyone loved in Nigerian cinemas has a script. Big Bang Theory was scripted. Titanic was scripted too – all by writers. Also, each of these movies and TV material have made and are still making millions of Naira and/or Dollars from sales and rights.

Now let me give you a typical example of my day as a writer in Nigeria.

Client: I need a blogpost on so so so.
Me: It’s 30k o. When do you need it?
Client: 30k ke? For ordinary blogpost?

Shebi it’s “just” a blog-post

Or another example. Let’s call this person Mr. T.

Mr. T: Taiwo I need your help. I’m doing a documentary on markets in Nigeria. I want to submit the documentary video for an International prize. So I need like a script, well-researched o.
Me: Eh ehn! Your fee is so-so amount!
Mr. T: Ah ahn! Taiwo, can’t you do it for free? You’re my person o.
Me: Sir, will I get credit as the writer if you win?
Mr. T: Taiwo, why are you talking like this?

Bottom line, no one wants to pay a writer because “what’s there? Ordinary writing? Everybody can write na”.

Everybody can write. Anybody can copy. Anybody can take somebody else’s note, and write it down in theirs. But not everybody can create a story or write content from scratch on a blank paper. Not everybody can create something from nothing. Not everybody can write out the stories in their heads and make you look forward to more. Not everybody can write a blogpost that is so good, people who read it, and go out to buy the product or service. That is what makes a writer different.

Whatever is written is original content from the writer, it is a product. The writing process is service. So when you contract a writer for content, what you get is product and service. Why then will you say “ordinary writing” or cheapen a writer’s efforts by offering insulting fee for content that will be of economic value to you? How would you feel if as an accountant someone tells you what you do is “ordinary” audit? Would you go to MTN or Airtel asking them to give you free data? Shebi, “what’s there? Is it not to just go on Instagram and like pictures? And maybe Google stuff?” So why can’t Nigerians respect writing and the creative industry? I’ve seen writing job adverts in the Obodo Oyibo offering $2000 a month meanwhile over here to pay a token to a writer “dey hard us” because it’s “ordinary” writing.

This “ordinary” writing has taken a lot of sacrifices, a lot of schooling, years of training, and lots of practise, money and time investment as well as constant development to be this good and for me to remain passionate about it. It is a tad insulting to generalize it as “ordinary”. I may not have a sealed package to show for it but every story or content I put out or work on is a product. Respect the work. Respect writers. Pay our due without cheapening our effort or our work. If you want free ideas or content, do it yourself.

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Strange Bus Fellows, Food and Love in Traffic


Throwing back this Wednesday…

So I was on the notorious Lagos-Ibadan express-way some years ago trying to make it to my cousin’s wedding in time. Alas, the road had another plan in mind. The traffic was mind-numbing. All the while, Olamide’s “Yemi my lover” kept playing in my head. I don’t mean, earbuds-music-playing. I mean the voice-in-my-head-singing-kind.

Just when I thought my head wont stop singing, after about 3hrs in traffic already, someone decided to start sharing traffic tales – of how one time, they were stuck in traffic at Ikorodu heading to one of the Ijebu towns when they saw a bride being whisked away on a bike so she wouldn’t miss her own wedding.

Another talked of how one mother of the bride had to serve the wedding meal to people in traffic when she realized she might not be going anywhere that day.

While this was going on, one woman began coughing excessively so much that the person beside her started adjusting on the seat to give her enough space. This was at the time when Ebola was said to be in Lagos. Everyone on the bus began eyeing the woman like “e fit be ebola” even when we knew coughing was not one of the symptoms of the virus. The space ehn, it would conveniently take two people. The fear of Ebola sha. Who wan die?

Oh and there was the tale of a man who shared with us how he met his wife on a bus trip to Benin. With nothing else to talk about, we decided it was time to talk about how a lot of travellers miss their buses on that particular road because they got tired of sitting in traffic and decided to take a walk. By the time the traffic starts moving again, they can’t identify which bus is theirs.

What’s your traffic story?

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.