Saturday, March 31, 2007

Marriage Blues ...! (Conclusion)

Anyway, like joke like joke o, over the past months she has continued to drop the hints here and there: ‘Oh I can’t wait to carry my grandson’ or ‘When you get married …’. At first I would take the bait hook line sinker fisherman and speedboat and start a long drawn argument that she invariably won. As if that wasn’t enough, I once made the grave mistake of asking ‘What’s the big deal about a grandchild anyway?’ in the presence of the Mother’s Brigade, and they simply DESCENDED on me. It was a traumatic experience; all my arguments were put down so fast … I have never felt so silly in my life. So now I just allow the maternal monologue go on after which I ask the perfectly natural next question: ‘Is there fuel in the generator?’

But if you know me, then you know my mother: we don’t ever give up. Weeks to my last birthday for instance, she didn’t feel like driving and asked me to drop her in the office. No sooner has I put the gear into drive than she starts lecturing me about my spiritual life and how I need to take church and God seriously and do I remember the time when I used to preach in church etc etc etc. All well and good. But suddenly she starts repeating: ‘Very soon you’ll be 23! Very soon you’ll be 23! …’ Wait for this. ‘Very soon you’ll be 23, and you will soon get married, and you need to take your spiritual life seriously...” Ooo-kayy! Hold on dear mother, what … has … marriage … got … to … do … with … my … spiritual life? Well, my response was to remind her I was actually going to turn 22 not 23 – so, what, does that give me one year of respite at least please?

You can’t actually blame her: I’m her only child you see. And the first grandson of the entire family. There’s also all kinds of family history I can’t relate here: but bottom line, it is perfectly understandable why my mother would be just a little bit anxious. In fact, as far back as when I was just entering into the University, my grandmother – bless her - put me on notice that she was bringing me a wife from Obomkpa, our village. I stared her down so hard I think I sufficiently intimidated the poor woman: she has not mentioned the word marriage in front of me ever since.

But of course my mum knows better than to mention Obompkpa, or even Asaba the state capital for that matter. Still I can stare her down all I want, she is not going to relent in her noble efforts.

The funny thing is, it’s not like my mum really wants me to get married now – she also knows that it is rather early: but all this drama is because my mother knows how much of her stubborn genes I took (my father never lets us hear enough of this – can’t blame him; the poor man is at the receiving end of both) and I think she senses that marriage is on my 2007-2017 10 year-plan yes, but only at the end of that plan! What she is doing is basically sounding the gong very early, so that as she aims for the sky, her arrows would at least land on one of the Dubai skyscrapers.

And she has a plan! After Law School, she says, I start my masters; get a job, and then get a wife. Knowing me, she says, I will want a highflying career babe, so ‘No problem,” she says, ‘Two of you can go and be flowing high; I will take care of the baby for you in the mean time.” Hold on once again – the baby? When did we get to the baby? You mean we’ve gone past the engagement, the courtship, the wedding and the honeymoon so fast?!

But it is not a joking matter o - when you remember that Law School ends in a few months, then you will understand that the battle is veeeeerrry, veeeery close. The other day she pointed to me that I am already earning more than A, B and C who are taking care of wife and at least one child and living well. When she also suggested I should join her for Singles Prayer Meeting at the (MFM) Prayer City – a harrowing and truly depressing experience where really passionate (to use a very mild word) old men and women spend a whole day alternating between moping with sorrow and energetically hitting chairs and tables in a way that suggests God should only take one look at their self-destructive desperation and send that husband down quick, quick – I realized she was dead serious.

Marriage, however, is so far off my mind that each time she brings up the topic, I am genuinely shocked. It’s not just the fact that I am still very young (after all with the way all of my peers and friends are getting married left right and center, it is beginning to look like a conspiracy with my mother!) even though that is part of it: it is rather the fact that marriage is not something I have any intentions of rushing into. I’ve got like what… decades left to live – so what’s the rush? Plus I always tell people that I have interviewed at least maybe 10-20 couples in recent years, and I repeat; it’s not something I want to rush into.

But the mother who never gives up tells me not to end up like those silly people who think that a successful career and all the fame and acclaim in the world are enough ingredients for happiness – “don’t be fooled. Life is meant to be shared, love and career need to go together.” Believe me, from experience, I agree with her. What I can’t tell her though is that the two have been going together for me for quite a while. Don’t ask me why. You really think I want to go down the traumatic road of her remembering the long forgotten subject of those condoms (actually it was just one!) in my car and how ‘Ehen, I knew it’??? Hell no!

The other day I joked that if she wants a grandchild so much then it isn’t a problem – these days you don’t need a marriage to bring a child into the world. I laughed long and hard after that; I considered it a really funny thought. She didn’t laugh.

So here we are, my dear mother is on the prowl – and from that phone call, I know the woman is going to use every single weapon in the arsenal to bring my walls down. The other day she gave me yet another classic reason why I need to bring a girlfriend home: Bring the girl so I can start praying o. When I tried to discourage her by saying that even if do I find the one I want to marry, the period of courtship is likely to be so long it will look like a sociological experiment, she informs me that I would be inviting the mortal sin of fornication. Well in fairness to her, the late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya continuously warned about the same thing.

Na wayas.

So what was my answer to her very innocent ‘How is your girlfriend’ question? Well, I recovered quickly from my shock, laughed in the most exaggerated way possible and hailed ‘Mummy, Mummy!’ and then said nothing else. She giggled, I giggled, and she dropped the phone…

You see, the goalpost has changed, but you must never, ever forget that the game remains the same: it’s called ‘catch him’. If I admit I have a girlfriend, I admit I have begun the process of finding a wife. Me ke? Cunny man die, cunny man bury am … I am the true son of my mother!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Marriage Blues...! (PART 1)

(When you google my name, this is the first article that appears, and I found out more people are reading it cos of that, and that leaves it in that first position. I don't like jo!:-) So I am changing it for now until it receives so few hits that it isn't first anymore!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

'Pure Water' or Bottled Water?

Confirmed news: one of Nollywood’s lesser known but long standing stars, Uche Odoputa, was arrested with cocaine some days ago while trying to board a flight to the States.

It’s uncanny. Now, I don’t know him, just like I don’t know a lot of Nollywood stars, but of course I have watched his movies so I recognize him. The thing is, I was actually standing beside him at BOB TV and he was having this conversation with another quite popular actor where he was tacitly justifying fraud. This other person was trying to argue with him the merits of integrity no matter what, but he was having none of that.

He threw in words like frustration and income etc that let you know this was a young man who had had it up to here with an unfair world. Sadly ours is our society where stardom comes with empty promises, and your image never conforms to your pocket. According to the young man in justifying his support of shadiness: “The difference between ‘pure water’ and ‘bottled water’ is packaging."

That’s why it’s uncanny; it’s almost scary. He just said this two weeks ago; I didn’t hear it from a third party – I heard it myself. I feel like God was sending a message.

It’s sad though what Nigeria can push its citizens into. Nollywood for instance has refused to grow: if Uche were earning in a year what Tom Cruise earns per movie, there would be no need after almost a decade of professionalism to stoop so low.

But it’s no excuse for crime anyway: because no matter what, the difference between ‘pure water’ and ‘bottled water’ is not just packaging – it’s about substance.

What can I say? I wish him leniency in his encounter with the law.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Amazing Hype!

The Amazing Grace: Between Fact and Fiction
By Chude Jideonwo, 03.16.2007

I deferred watching the ‘The Amazing Grace’ but only with the best intentions. In a way, I was ‘saving the best for last’. After all, this was supposed to be Nigeria ’s ‘first’ 35mm movie (shot on ‘celluloid’, for the uninitiated), flying the national flag at major international film festivals. It is also collaboration between Jeta Amata ( Nigeria ), Nick Moran ( England ); with a budget from both the UK and the Cross Rivers State governments.

The movie starts quite perfectly: the opening shots against the backdrop of Joke Silva’s enchanting voiceover pull you into the story in minutes, setting the tone for a moving tale. It was very beautiful. However, once we move away from this montage, as the voiceover flows into Joke Silva in flesh, the film begins to get uncomfortable. Joke Silva, surprisingly seems out of her depth. The dynamics of her storytelling to her (rather morose-looking) daughter appear forced and flat. Her voice over also fails the test of continuity. Not only does her accent fluctuate from British to something not exactly American, her voice turns strangely hoarse some times, all conspiring to rob it of the much-needed authority.

Still, the film somehow maintains an even tempo, up until the scene Zack Amata gives his rousing cry. This is where the main story starts and the script begins to wobble, eventually dissolving into a heap of clichés. Dialogue sounds rather infantile and it not only does a very good job of portraying the pre-colonial Nigerian as a simpleton, better than any biased foreigner; but also doesn’t give insight – fresh or regurgitated - about the Calabar people. ‘The Amazing Grace’ is not located, as far as history goes, anywhere. Its reality exists in neither the jaundiced history of the conqueror nor even the prouder self serving version of the conquered. There’s no attempt, at mirroring the clash of wills and complexity of emotions with which our forbears resisted foreign occupation (hopefully there was).

That The Amazing Grace casually treats slave trade with kid gloves, nonchalantly colouring it with romance and sad music underscores its thoughtless, and its fatalistic attention to style above substance. It would be burdensome to give examples but the heroine, Ansa’s (Mbong Odungide) first conversation aboard the ship with Nick was absolutely incongruous, made worse by a tortuously long dialogue where the director forgets the girl is supposed to be illiterate!

Then from nowhere, (and take that very literally) we hear: “I like. Take me”. And “I love you”. Shock.

Hold on, love? Where – from the time he unchained her to their standing opposite each other, in the space of hours - did they find love? There’s no attempt to tell a real story: just an assemblage of clichés. Let’s say you ask me: what is the movie really about, which hopefully from all my rambling you must feel a right to know? I can’t give you any answer. It’s certainly not about the origin of the song as the pre-release publicity materials made us believe. It’s not also about the evils of slave trade, and even though the contrived end of the movie struggles to convey this, it certainly doesn’t come off as a tale about the redemption of a slave trader’s soul…

Apart from torturing us with the song (the prisoners sang that one song continuously every ‘single’ day of their incarceration), nothing else even attempted to tell us anything about the song’s origin, apart from John Newton translating it to English. Even worse, we are supposed to believe that John Newton was so touched he translated the beautiful song they hummed endlessly, yet we also know that this man continued slave trade for many years after this ‘life-transforming’ incident?

The film had its fine moments, no doubt. Fred Amata’s performance was consistently sterling – and at the times when he was at the centre of the action the movie was very tolerable, Nick Moran too was very convincing, in fact (with appropriate shame nonetheless) I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes that showed conflict amongst the white ‘captains’ more than anything else (even though, with appropriate joy, I also report that the worst acting also came from the enslaved white Simmons). Ansa was good to look at and there was an innocence to her that was appealing and to complete the chain of isolated fine acting was the chief of the second village.

There were two very bright moments of delightful scripting when Fred Amata engaged his black captor and when the two captains mirrored the contradictions of slave trade (‘When you return to England you shall go to church/ and thank God for your safe return from your pillage and plunder/ for your sake captain, I hope that God is an Englishman’).

P.S: Funny enough, Aunty Nosh in shortening the piece severely blunted it's sharper ends. And they are complaining! So would vessels have burst if they had seen the original version?!)

This Weekend, I went looking for Trouble...

No Seriously! On saturday, one of my favourite aunties, Onoshe Nwabuikwu repeated in her wildly popular column, Airtime, a review I did of Jeta Amata's The Amazing Grace; a movie that I thought was ghastly ... and that is putting it mildly. Then, on sunday, Big Brother's Ebuka published in his column a rejoinder I did to a rejoinder Charles Novia did to a piece Ebuka wrote! There too, I had the gun on my hips...

Both pieces were in Thiday.

As I write, I just got a really nasty mail from someone who purports to work with Jeta, as well a not-too-pleasant text message, actually two, from Mr. Novia's end. Ah, the dangers of having an opinion! I am posting the offending here pieces one after the other...

Charles Novia’s ‘defense’ of Nollywood
Contrast with Ebuka, Email:, 03.18.2007
Right of Reply

Reading last Sunday’s paper, two rejoinders struck me enough to go against my self-imposed tradition of allowing each fight their own battles (especially when I know they are eminently so capable). One was the response by Dapo Olorunyomi to Simon Kolawole; the other and most pungent was that by respected Filmmaker, Charles Novia to TV presenter, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu. Incidentally, unlike Charles, who has never met Ebuka and "has no interest" to, I happen to be acquainted with all the correspondents.

Both ripostes were strikingly similar for the latent bullying observable: one from a senior journalist to a junior though accomplished colleague, the other from an older entertainment practitioner to a much younger one. However whilst the former took the high road of intellectual superiority, the other threw a considerable amount of propriety to the winds.

Surprisingly, I say surprisingly, because Charles Novia is ordinarily a sound intellectual; one whose thoughts and words have consistently bestowed Nollywood with an intelligent underbelly. Unfortunately, his piece "In Defense of Nollywood" plunges short of minimum standards of decency.

In my opinion, Charles Novia went after Ebuka so tactlessly only because of how young the writer is, and for that, my intelligence and that of many readers, I assure him, have been insulted. To refer to Ebuka with such derogatory phrases as "Ebuka fellow", "plastic smile", "fifteen minutes of fame", "amateurish" amongst others was uncalled for and going to such childish levels as undermining his recent assignment for the Guinness brand to prove whatever point was absolutely needless.

Just in case there is anybody who got carried away by the onslaught of insults; let the point be made quickly that the fact that Ebuka got his break via a reality show cannot reduce the quality of his contributions to public discourse. And even if considerable substance were to be the sole qualification for penning a newspaper column, then it would be in order to remind Charles Novia that the massively popular (popular enough that Mr. Novia remembers intimate details of Ebuka’s sojourn in the House) Big Brother Nigeria was acknowledged as an assemblage of some of the most intelligent young people in Nigerian reality show history; and even in that assembly, Ebuka by conduct and expression was one of its brightest stars.
Ebuka, in case Charles isn’t aware, is also a lawyer having earned a B.L. from the Nigerian Law School, not a mean feat I will assure him, since I am presently undergoing the same process. In addition to that, since Ebuka came out of Big Brother, he has earned a name as a capable event compere; that is apart from quickly becoming a rave TV presenter.

In fact, just two weeks before this ill-motivated rejoinder, THISDAY Columnist Joy Bewaji had made the point that Ebuka would in all probability have gotten his present job as TV anchor for "Friend or Foe" (NTA Network) and the Guinness Greatness, in spite of being a BBN housemate, based on the strength of his character and intelligence, both of which in fact put him on the 2007 long list of the prestigious "The Future..." Awards.

Added to all of that, over the few months in which he has maintained his Contrast column, the young man has displayed a mix of analytical depth and intellectual width that has endeared his column to many and is responsible for its immense popularity.
So for Charles to reduce Ebuka to "a reality show ex-housemate making do with his fifteen minutes of fame" was rather juvenile.

I will not comment on the depth and propriety or otherwise of Ebuka’s comments on Nollywood. That is an ongoing debate, and as far as I could see, it was hardly the motivation for Charles’ rejoinder. Instead, it was obvious that the basis for the unnecessarily petty and deeply disrespectful response was based solely on the fact that Charles Novia doesn’t think Ebuka has the pedigree to express certain opinions, evidently because he ‘just came into fame’.

Even then, the language and misguided passion employed in expressing such reservations actually reflect very badly on is own person and judgement. Ebuka has the right to his opinions, and as far as columnists go, he deserves the space that he has gotten. For Charles to even suggest anything to the contrary, just because he disagrees with the young man’s opinions, is in very, very low taste.
Bwari, Abuja.

Ah, so THE day has come and gone ...

Thanks a lot for all the messages. For people like me who love the soapy things of life, it does mean a lot. And I would also want to reserve special thanks to the bloggers who decided to go beyond just posting, found my number somehow (I’ve never received more than 2 birthday calls/messages from across the seas at any point, and this time there were 7, 5 of them bloggers!) and called or sent an sms. These days, I’ve learnt not to ask how anyone gets my number, so I’ll just say thanks!!! Really.

Of course my phones were screaming for sp[ace on that day; which is mostly because I always send texts two days before my birthday to close friends and family demanding that they send me wishes! And the reason is quite simple: I never remember birthdays and so it is only sensible to expect that others don’t; it doesn’t hurt to be considerate enough to remind them instead of getting upset they didn’t remember. All, expect two, of the people whose messages I most wanted to read, I got. Which was really sweet.

I also used it as an opportunity to get ‘free hugs’ from all the girls in my class! Like I told the guys who for some funny reason wanted to hug me (what?!): ‘This is my birthday; please allow me enjoy it – so no flat chests allowed! Lol)

I ate shamelessly, drank senselessly, and what else? Spent the day reading the messages I got again and again and again and again and again!

Interestingly, just found out that my ex (no not that one … and no not that one!) had her baby just hours before my birthday. So, what, is that a sign?!Lol Birthdays are such amazing things … for others they are just another day. For you, it’s you day. Yours. That one day in the year. I will take stock of the past one year soon, hopefully,

Again, thanks for those who sent their love. Trust me; it was very well appreciated.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tomorrow (Friday, the 16th of March) is my Birthday!

For the first time since I started Law School, I sneaked away from class halfway through the day. I just had to go for the closing day of TV/film Festival, Bob TV. Too many of my favourite people were there.

Saw all of them, had fun discussing like the world was about to wrap up, sighted Liz Benson, Justus Esiri and other celebrities, and then had a buffet-lunch at the Sheraton along with one of my aunties, Onoshe, my former boss Nike (at her expense actually) and film genius, Sandra Obiago. It was heavenly.

Another aunty informed us that just across the road, Charly Boy was launching his book, My Private Part, and she could get us entry so we moved over there, and it was a poorly co-ordinated event, which is surprising since it is Charly Boy’s event, but for the brief period we were there it was also quite fun. Saw other fav people like Jahman, said hi to Madam Due Process and then we rushed back to the Sheraton where the raucous gisting continued … all in all saw more people in this one day than I would usually see even when I was in Lagos, and generally had a blast…

There is a party right now at the NTA Arena; and everyone is going to be there, and one or two of them have suggested strongly that I should go too, but I am just filled to the brim with happiness at the moment and just wanted to come to the room and glow in it.

You see, for two days now, I have been relatively depressed, and for no strong reason. But today my spirit soared … there is no better way to feel on the day before your birthday … I really can’t wait for tomorrow to come – I will blog abut it tomorrow, but be assured that I intend to do some crazy stuff, and sure as daybreak to have as much fun as is humanly possible!

Oh, and it's my 22nd birthday by the way ... dont hesitate to send in your wishes, lemme feel all the goodwill there is!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Painful Perfection ...

(Spoiler Warning: This is a very soapy piece.)

For most of us without unfortunate memories of sexual abuse, evil stepmothers, or lost breadwinners, childhood was bliss. For us, it was simple and uncomplicated; an open field without boundaries. And we endlessly speak of cherishing the memories. What we don’t confess is that the memories are sometimes so beautiful, so perfect that they are painful. So painful that we perhaps don’t even want to remember.

An old friend from boarding school found my number recently and called. Soon as I heard his voice, it brought back a rush of memories I couldn’t handle. I just couldn’t handle it. There was excitement at hearing his voice, but the truth is, it wasn’t pure excitement … there was a keen, stronger, sense of loss. He gave me his phone number and I promised I would call him the next day, but I didn’t. I wanted to, but I … couldn’t.

Make no mistake; his call brought back beautiful memories of boarding school. We were a gang of four and he – scrawny, troublesome, unlikely he – was head of the gang; and we had so much fun: we were the envy of seniors and classmates who couldn’t understand the bond that saw us fighting savagely in the morning and regrouping by Night Prep.

When he called, we agreed we had to meet up when I return to Lagos; and of course to keep in touch until then. When I dropped, I decided not to. But just a few hours ago though he sent me a text: ‘Do you still go by your favourite appellation: the indefatigable orator?’ I laughed out loud to myself. I had actually forgotten I used to call myself that… I was grateful for his bringing me back that memory – and I smiled at the verbosity that has not been a part of my being for many years now. I smile as I remember that which I no longer am.

I am certainly glad to hear from my old friend … but I don’t think I want to see him when I get back to Lagos. I am not … I am not sure it will be a good idea. The memories I have of our friendship are so beautiful, too beautiful - almost too sacred to be tampered with by the realities of the present.

There is also the gnawing fear that we have become so different that we cannot become friends in the now, and the ensuing frustration and sadness at the lack of reconnection I don’t think I want to deal with. Why does life happen to us?

It is the same feeling that sucks me in when I look at the backed-up files from my old laptop. In fact, I dread looking at those files, and yet I do - I am hopelessly drawn to the times past: decisions I came to, mistakes I made – I read the amateur writing, the letters to mentors... and each time, clichéd as it sounds, my eyes get moist … those times were so sweet they are sad. Does that make any sense to you?

Those files have poems written; proposal sent, queries replied, applications made, letters penned – it’s a bag full of dreams and life in those times when I had just made it into the whole world armed with all the innocence that there was. A vista untainted by rejection letters, angry rejoinders, office politics, failed dreams and real betrayals. Those were times when I was protected from the consequences of my actions, when I could say what I really felt and carry no burdens from any of it.

Dimeji’s call had an even stronger effect that those. It made me cry. It just made me cry. And even now, my eyes are tear-filled. But you see, the tears are sad, but they are also sweet …

Let me share the song I am singing now, as I write and cry, with you. It is a song from our ‘Song book’ in secondary school (Mayflower, Ikenne):

From faraway, I hear sweet voices calling me
And in my thoughts, come memories flooding fast
A childhood song, in all its dear simplicity
Brings happy tears to one whose childhood days are past
Sing on my heart, for days that will not come again
Oh sing those songs of life that was so fair
Now from afar come voices easing all my pains
And sorrow dies, and memory drives away all care …

It is still morning yet in my life so I have quite a load of innocence left, and naivety is yet an abiding part of my makeup, nay a part I stubbornly hold on to. But those were the days when I didn’t even need to think about it first; I was blissfully unaware, unselfconscious – I could just be …

Maybe I will go and see Dimeji after all. After all said and done, I am eager to relive those beautiful beautiful moments – I want to remember; to share. But I will go without any hopes of renewal; without any plans to rekindle. Because if that doesn’t happen, the sense of loss will only be sharper – and more painful.

I will go only to bask in that beauty from what is now a long time ago. And perhaps remind myself to make sure that what is now, and what is ahead should be as sweet if not sweeter than what I left behind.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Of Bills and Births ...

(I actually wrote this last week, but then the man likely to be our next president got catarrh, it didn’t seem right to do this then … well the man is back now – and the rest, as they say, is politics!)

Okay, its time for some diary-style exhibitionism! So what has been happening with me recently? Well, first I tried to do my bit in building the nation – going beyond talk and rhetoric: so I spoke with the legislators involved with the Anti-Gay Bill.
I sent a text to Aunty Abike Dabiri, which she didn’t reply and then when I called she asked to call back. I wasnt able to get through to her again, so I sent another text and left her strictly alone. She knows how to do the disappearing game in such a nice way you will never get upset!

Hon. Abdul Oroh, who is usually very nice to me was rather terse when I told him the purpose of this call, but I pressed on nonetheless before he gave a short and sharp ‘We just concluded a Public Hearing on the matter” response. So, sadly, it appears that I joined the advocacy train rather late. There is very little input the public can have on that bill now, since it has gone on to the 3rd reading (NOTE: I now hear it has been passed by the lower house? Not sure about that though.

Just read a Thisday report from the Sunday Paper, and from the texture of the debate in the Upper House it looks like this bill will sale through. I dont want to comment on the anal retentiveness of some of the Senators, but one actually said those Senators who werent against the bill must be one of those homosexuals 'abusing the anus'! This, a Senator of the Federal Republic - supposedly sane enough to hold office?!

Sadly, at this stage, all that can be done now is for people who have strong opinions about it to keep using the various media to ventilate their views so that the legislators know that we are watching when they finally decide to vote on the draconian bill.

You might want to also take comfort in the fact that our legislature and Federal Government (which sponsored this draconian bill) might soon be getting the Isaiah Washington (Grey's Anatomy) treatment, because I hear from informed sources that beyond New York Times editorial, there is an international Pro-Gay lobby that is about to descend on the Nigerian space...

(There was gist in between these two that was on this morning but is presently undergoing de-too much information-ing – those who were lucky to see it before then, congrats!!! The rest of you? Sorry o!)

So there – all the gist from the past one-week. Law School? Well life just got worse here. We have two more hours of lecture, which means the day effectively ends at 5pm!!! Lectures from 9 am – 5pm! Sitting in the same place for more than 6 hours! How did I find myself in this mess?! Thankfully I have formed a small clique of post-mordern, very 'intellectual' friends at the back (we call it the 'House of Lords') here who make it easy to go through the day, so we go survive sha. Tough people last!

By the way, plenty of congrats are in another for my friend Stella Dimoko-Korkus, Nigeria's number one gossip columnist (her staying power and the range of elite people who actually read her is amazing!) who just gave birth to a bouncing blond haired blue eyed boy in far-away Germany where she is now based! 'Aunty mi', you strong o!!! Everything good is coming!

How was your week?


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Fellow Nigerians, we are in trouble ...

I am a very politically incorrect person; and my views are sometimes so contrary that I don’t express them. Like the elections this year; I have consistently refused to discus my stand publicly – and with good reason: the one time I tried to do a few weeks ago for instance, Tara Durotoye (a great soul nonetheless) almost beat me up physically. I could understand her passion; but I could also see an angle she wasn’t looking at.

It is the same way that FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, I have always distrusted the EFCC, and continuously maintained that Ribadu is an Obasanjo instrument of oppression even when he was winning Sun Man of the Year and Thisday Superman of the Year up and down. Long before now that it has become politically correct. The man, Ribadu, himself appears a patriotic Nigerian just as angry as I am and you are about the sorry state of our nation no thanks to kleptomaniacs, but in the hands of Obasanjo, it was inevitably impossible for him to do a clean job. I would express my opinion after critically looking at the man’s posture and activities and people would call me a cynic. Well, here we are.

Back to the elections: I have always said in private that going to register and all that drama is a massive waste of time because President Obasanjo does not intend to hold elections this year. I have always said it. That man doesn’t want to leave. I have taken my time to oversee his body language and vituperations carefully, including those around him and his stooges like the INEC Chairman and it has been abundantly obvious. Anyone who does so dispassionately will come to the same conclusion.

Two days ago, my True Love editor called me. There was going to be a high-powered interaction between the PDP Presidential Candidate, Yar’adua and select media persionalities to be televised on national television, and she wanted me to represent her (I will blog about that at happier times, not now please). I was very excited. However, She called me hours later with profuse apologies to say it had been rescheduled and we both wondered why. I just now found out that it was because Yar’Adua had collapsed in his house and been rushed abroad…

Sun Newspaper this morning ...

It is more striking for me because just yesterday I was half-joking with my friends that each time Yar’adua speaks during his campaign stops it looks as if he is so frail he is about to die (as usual, one of them said I was being cynical). I even said ‘He is like a dead man, in fact.’ And just the next day … this!

What’s worse? Everyone knew this! Right from the time this man was imposed as PDP candidate, those who knew him and his condition had cried themselves hoarse that he had either or a kidney or a heart disease that is fatal. The president denied, PDP continues to mouth rubbish and the man himself refused to listen to reason and admit his frailty.

As things stand, there are strong rumours that he is dead. As at this evening though – thankfully – Thisday confirms he is not. I can’t confirm of course, but even if he survived this, what we know for sure is that man is not well. At all. He is sick. Very sick. He might not last long at any rate.

Certain people have expressed upset that Obasanjo is killing Yar’adua with his own stubbornness. These people say if our president wasn’t such as egomaniac he would have admitted that he chose a sick man and make a U-turn but of course Obasanjo can never admit to himself his own infallibility.

Those people might be right, but they still don’t get the point. Right from the start, people like me, and lately Atiku and other members of opposition had pointed to the gross fact that even if OBJ leaves in May, he is still in charge of Nigeria, because he has amended the PDP constitution to leave himself as Chairman of the Board of Trustees FOR LIFE, and according to the same constitution, his decisions are binding on any PDP President. Bottom line: he would still continue to rule us! And for us, this was obviously why he chose an obviously weak Yar’Adua whom he could control.

Well we didn’t see this President coming! He is a master strategist! He has proven again that he is SMARTER than ALL OF US put together!

There are many things unpalatable about being in Law School here, but then again there are huge advantages of living amongst at least a thousand legal minds. Because in the midst of arguments over this latest development we just discovered an ALARMING provision in the Electoral Act. Let me give it to you:

S. 26: If after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief Electoral Commissioner or the Resident Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election.

Read that again. And again. And again. You get it don’t you? What it means is, if truly Yar’Adua is dead or if there is any chance of his dying anytime soon, the INEC Chairman and his subordinates can postpones the elections until ‘a convenient date’. In law, this is a dangerously discretionary power! So if the INEC guys say a convenient date is December 25 2008 – he is right in Law.

Atiku has been saying this!!

They must have known! The president’s strategists must have known! Why did they pick Yar’adua?! Why a sick man out of all the possible candidates who like him were not corrupt? Why not Donald Duke? Why not any other of his Northern Governor loyalists? They must have known!

Most likely, this might have been President Obasanjo’s plan all along. Fellow Nigerians … we are in trouble!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A Case for Sodom and Gomorrah...

(Unforgivably long; but cant help it - like I said in my last post, it's an article that was published some time ago, so can't cut anything out ... )

Three days ago, I had a combustible argument in school. Against an `army' of 4 highly intelligent students, and two not-so-intelligent ones, I made my case for the rights of every human being to their sexuality.

One interesting thing I noticed was that whilst all of them were united against my argument, all of them had completely different reasons for opposing me… that should interest you, the implication being that when it comes to the issue of sexual rights and sexual freedoms, everyone already has a stand before desperately seeking ways to defend that stand.

To anyone who has followed my views over time, my somersault in principle as concerns this issue would be something of a shock, remembering the deliberate bile and calculated passion with which I tore at the Anglican Church for ordaining a gay man as a Bishop last year.

The gay bishop...

But since that time I have grown as a person, and I have learnt to listen to other people with other life experiences and to always look at the larger picture.

Now, in the course of the argument referred to above, one in the latter group informed me that God hates gays and that was why he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. That really got me thinking, and pushed me into picking up my bible and reading through it again, in case I missed something…

What really happened in the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah? What I have discovered is that many Christians have deliberately misconstrued, misinterpreted and misapplied the story and its morale simply to support a misguided campaign.

Did God destroy Sodom & Gomorrah because of homosexuals? N-O! And this I recently discovered to my eternal chagrin. Having done some biblical research on this issue, even against the backdrop of the fire-and-brimstone stand of US Evangelicals (we call them Pentecostals) who now want to consume America with their brand of `righteousness', I have realised that there are a lot of contradictions in their propositions – which, unfortunately, I used to accede to.

Now according to the bible, God sent His angels to destroy the two cities because "their sin was great". No sin was singled out.

Indeed, before the men got to the house of Lot and were harassed by Sodomites, they had already intended to destroy the cities. Do you remember that God and Abraham looked and looked and couldn't find even five righteous men in the whole city? Does it mean then that everybody in that city was engaged in the sin of homosexualism? Think about that …

Let's move forward: when the angels got to Lot's house, the book of Genesis reports that the `men' of the city "compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter" and said to Lot, "bring (the men) out, that we may know them."

Now, apart from the fact that the bible has so obviously explained the composition of the mob by qualifying the sentence with "all the people", it is standard etymology of the bible that it uses the generic word "men" for both the male and female gender. It is therefore obvious that by "men", it meant the people i.e. men and women of Sodom and Gomorrah as it had already qualified in the same sentence.

And if you still are not convinced, then remember that Lot first offered his daughters to the men of the city. If they were homosexual men, pray why would he give them his daughters for a session he must have known they wouldn't be interested in?!

Indeed, what becomes obvious is that, because it was a gender-mixed crowd, he was offering his daughters to be slept with by the men in the crowd. Because the people insisted on getting hold of the men in his house … by whose authority do we insist then that the angels were going to be raped by fellow men, and not the women in the group as should logically be presumed?

And even for those who say the angels blinded the `men' because they were gay, does it mean that if the assailants were women, the angels would have been happy, and would have then accepted? Does that make any sense to you?

It is abundantly obvious that the people of Sodom were only looking to perform depravity by any means – and not homosexual-specific sins. They wanted to defile the strangers in the city for some perverted reason – and it obviously would have made no difference to them if the strangers were male or female.

The book of Jude re-emphasises the point when it says: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner gave themselves into fornication …" The sin was fornication, not homosexuality …

It is important to state clearly that my point isn’t necessarily a claim that there was no homosexuality going on in those times, or that it is not a sin that God frowns out, what I am instead doing is give a lie to the obvious fallacy that God destroyed a whole city ONLY because of homosexuals!

As I have already noted, even if the men were homosexual, God had already decreed to destroy the city before they approached the angels, he didn't make the decision because of their subsequent actions. Their "sins were great" so "he was wroth".

In God's eyes, adultery is just as bad as homosexuality, being a liar is equal to being gay. Fraud and blackmail, which are crimes a good many of our `ministers of God' will be found guilty of, is just as bad as men sleeping with men. Where then do we get off with this silly notion that our sins are more acceptable to God than the sins of another because of the gender of our fornicating partners?

In James, the bible makes the point clearly. In the 10th verse of its second chapter, it informs us that: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and offend in one point, he is guilty of all!" Is there need for further proof?

Of course, having failed here, the self-appointed defenders of God will accelerate to the new testament and put Apostle Paul on the witness stand: in his letters to the churches, he strongly condemned homosexuality. True. However we must remember that he also advocated that women should cover their hair in church, women should not speak in church and many other such controversial and somewhat rigid measures which we Christians have correctly explained away as advice or informed opinion, rather than law.

In legal terms, those writings are equivalent to opinion juris, rather than lex: they are rightly regarded by Ministers of the bible as the opinions of a respected Christian, rather than law laid down from the heavens, which is why they are not adhered to! Following that line of thought, it follows that the apostles only opined about gays and many other such sundry issues; and never said their writings were binding as law or were direct inspiration from God.

I do not intend to belabour the issue.

In America, a pastor – man of God, supposedly ordained to preach the message of salvation - was forced to apologise for saying ON THE PULPIT that he would commit murder if a gay man touched him. Again, there is a Christian website called, but it is more likely that the ones He hates are the people who built that site: the kinds of people the Book of 1st John refers to when it says: "If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar!" It continues: "He that loveth not knoweth not God." Period!

As I write, I remember that a valid point supporters made for the gay bishop last year was his record as an exemplary priest whose life showed forth the fruits of the spirit, and that his sexuality was a negligible, and therefore irrelevant, part of him. Indeed, I am tempted to say that it would be more palatable to have as a priest that kind of a bishop, whose parishioners would so staunchly defend, than the many pastors here who talk down at their members and add nothing positive to their lives.

What the bible advocates is that our lives should be a signpost that will draw others to Him and to righteousness. With the kind of bigotry, bullying and hatred we show, when our lives do not even follow the scriptures' more basic tenets, do we show the love the bible preaches when we say, "I would stab anyone that is a fag!"?

Get a life! What gives you that right? Is it better then to be an adulterer who abandons his children and steals government money than a gay who lives his life morally and legally? On what sane, rational basis would anyone make that conclusion?

I have had the rare opportunity in the last couple of months to come in contact with gay people, and I have read up on many others: the shocking revelation I got was that 90% of them would immediately change the situation if they thought they could – some have indeed tried very hard to, and failed.

Yet some have attempted suicide out of frustration, juts because the rest of us have decided to bully them, just the same way albinos, fat people, and minorities in general have been derided and bullied over centuries. But these people are neither evil, irresponsible, nor are they deviant - they are normal people just as much in search of salvation as I am from my sharp tongue.

It therefore becomes very convincing the argument that God created them that way.

But even if it is a sin, did God appoint any of us His law enforcers? Isn't He that made the law from heaven, who created the earth and all that is in it strong enough to see it to an end? Does he force anyone to follow his laws? Didn't he place in the same garden the fruits of good and evil??

Indeed, when Jesus was on earth, do you remember him force anyone to be holy? Didn't the saviour eat with sinners to the chagrin of all the `holy men' of Israel? When that prostitute ran to him and poured oil on his feet, wasn't Judas Iscariot the leader of the pack who sought to condemn her? And what did `Pope Judas' end up doing to the Master? How come we conveniently forget Jesus' reaction to people like you who sought to stone the adulterous woman brought to him? "He who is without sin …"

Jesus understood. He was pro-choice: he allowed people live their lives because he knew that any society founded on moral superiority is wont to hypocrisy, hatred and strife. In His original plan, he allowed man to make his own choices even if they would be wrong – all He did and still does is advise, solicit, persuade. In his years on earth, he absolutely detested the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and the Scribes. He knew that their moral-high standing was one to which they had no right – because "our righteousness is as filthy rags"!

He was a rebel. He hated the very idea that whoever did not conform to standard was ostracised, especially when those who were doing the ostracising were no better! The Creator did not fight sinners, yet those He created think they should! They insist on defending God better than Himself! And yet they piously take the front pews in church and imagine that they are saner than Osama bin Laden …

In fact, this whole homophobia thing makes no sense to me! Why are we so annoyed by the kind of sex two consenting adults have? What sort of fundamentally flawed sense of moral superiority makes us think we have a right to assault and condemn a lesbian or a gay man? Tell me, how does what any man or woman do in the privacy of their bedrooms, without forcing anybody, or harming anyone, actively affect your life or mine? And what makes us have the right to tell a man he must sleep with a woman simply because you and I are attracted to women? And how come we don't have commensurate disgust for such other "unnatural" sexual acts as masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex?

I cannot understand this HYPOCRISY in the Nigerian society, and even in more liberalised ones, as the American elections have shown us. The Church in America has not ceased to gloat that it gave George Bush victory based on `solid moral values' just because he hates gays … but does that really make any sense?

Does it make sense that the church celebrates giving victory to a murderer and a liar? Are you aware that certain American pastors (having decided that Bush had a `moral agenda' after he promised to amend the constitution to ban gay marriages) lied to their gullible members that Bush found Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, just to get congregations to vote him?

Leading the global hypocricy battle...

Does it mean that being a murderer is better than being gay? So, Bush walks into Iraq, kills the innocent children of poor women, makes children fatherless and ruins thousands of lives all in the pursuit of petro-dollars, and somebody thinks because he calls the name of God, he is holy and has high moral values? In any case, have we forgotten just how much Osama an his teammates invoke the name of God?

In fact, I have severally asked, what qualified George Bush (Jnr.) a better Christian than Kerry? Doesn’t Kerry believe in God? Has he been shown to ever have an unconscionable and evil heart? Does the fact that when asked about gays, he answered, "we're all God's children" make him inferior morally simply because George Bush carries the bible on his head, while John Kerry probably carries his in his heart?

You cannot imagine how irritated I get when, here in Nigeria, I hear our band of hypocritical churchgoers, who fast for seventy days but still inflate contracts, round-trip in banks and tell lies in the course of government work, rejoicing that "God won the election for Bush". I heard one of these say the reason why America has succeeded thus far is because God is mentioned in their anthem. And then I wonder what happened to the "So help me God" in our own pledge? So how come Nigeria keeps moving resolutely backwards?

Indeed, are there any churchier people anywhere in the world than here - in the world's third most corrupt nation? And what has our religiosity, God-ism, and `high moral standards' done for us? Has it reduced the cases and incidences of rape, incest and child abuse our nation is riddled with?

This is one of the rare times I have spiced my writing so strongly with religion; but I have decided to write this piece from a Christian perspective so as to prove that one can be a Christian and still be liberal – with respect for the rights, freedoms, and choices of other beings just as our Perfect Master, Jesus, had. To show that these people do not understand the bible that they preach.

Even if I am a born-again Christian who believes that being gay is a sin against God and against the body, what I do know for sure is that the bible doesn't ask us to hate gays, and neither does it tell us to stop them from being gay. All it asks us to do is persuade and convict any who has gone ‘astray’ – and to live our lives in such a way that will re-enforce this message.

Of course, these remain biblical issues, and if anyone has superior arguments, I await them. But for me, I am unequivocal about my principle: that we must allow consenting adults to live their lives - as far as they do not harm us, or anybody.

And to those rabidly against this principle, I again ask the simple question: what is the basis even for our regarding someone as less than human simply because that person doesn't have sex the way you and I do?