Sunday, March 26, 2017

WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT OUR WORKERS?


Dearest Buhari, 

I like this our little letter-writing ritual. It makes me feel closer to you even though you are back now.  So romantic. I am glad that you are eating and working again. It is such a relief to see the men who were queuing up to take over from you no longer hovering around. I know they are still there. They are lurking in the shadows peeping to see if you are really healthy or not. They should stay where they are because my love for you dear darling will never die. 

So, that man who shouts like he is still a Student Union leader and brags about his many cars and fancy motorcycles, did you hear what they are saying about him? You know he came and told us that he has seven degrees and all. Ashe, even the Harvard he said he went to it was just a one week course that he paid plenty money to do. Anyone with money can pay to do those one week things where they give you a certificate of attendance. Then they go to the Harvard shop and buy Harvard alumni stickers and put all over their cars to impress their many side chics. Because you know they can’t use it to impress their wives — their wives who probably helped them pack for one week know very well it is just a professional development course and not a degree. In fact they are saying he probably graduated with a third class. My dear we both know that this doesn’t matter. You may not have gone to university but you are my leader and love. I don't even care if you don't have a school leaving certificate. The man does not know it is not by having fake Harvard alumni stickers that you become succesful. The man does not grow up. He is still the same political hustler that he was as a student union hustler. But he is not very smart. He is always the one in front fighting other people’s dirty wars. He is like a high class thug for hire. But they say that the chicken that likes to be the first to show up will likely be the first to enter the pot of soup. 

So, my dear how far? It is not that I want to annoy you, but that grass cutter is still parading by my window every morning, whistling as he washes your car, singing hymns and worship songs as if he is not a thief. I really think we should take care of this guy once and for all. Think of my nerves and peace of mind. Don't let a thief spend so much time in our house. Like I keep saying, our other workers will think they too can steal our money in the name of cutting grass. Please darling. Let us let him go. 

There is this serious thing I have been meaning to talk about. You remember how the boys we sent to guard our farm in Rann went and mistakenly killed people? You know we have not visited Rann yet to apologize? And our boys who made the mistake are still driving around town like nothing happened. We can’t just mistakenly kill people’s children and not do something about it. Especially when we show empathy when our white neighbours get hurt. It looks one kain. Please let us look into the matter again. We are not bad people. Those boys were just careless. 

If you ask me my dear, the way the workers fight amongst themselves, I feel like if someone wants to attack us from outside it will be easy. We can’t have our own workers sabotaging our progress because they are fighting among themselves. Our enemies are not organised. Those of them who are not at the police station facing charges of theft are running up and down to hide the money they stole. If anyone will bring us down it will be one of these oversabi workers we have or those who want to take your place or one of our own people who have been quietly stealing under our noses. 

Darling, can I ask a favor? I know you don't like him and all but I think he has suffered enough. The Sheikh whose children we have killed. I know he offended you by hitting your chest and all but ok, you have killed like five of his children. And he is going blind where he is locked up. I don't think there is anything left to prove. It doesn’t look good at all. Remember when we were building our house, we visited him and all, there are even photos of that short man who pretends to like you squatting in his room looking for support. I know it Is a difficult situation but maybe it is time to just let go. I know you are kind my darling. Let us let him go.  

Ehen, I forgot to ask, do you want one or two spoons of sugar in your fura? If you ask me, I think you should reduce sugar now that you are recovering. 

See you in the other room. 
Love 

E. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

SO I HEARD YOU GOT A MEMO


Dearest Buhari, 

I know you are back and I can just walk into the other room to chat with you but I like these letters. I think it is romantic for you to come home from work at 3 or 4pm to a letter from me leaning on the bedside stool. 

So I heard you got a letter from that short man who pretends to love you. Found it in the bin when I was doing spring cleaning. Somehow we missed it in the mail (even though I suspect that your uncle or one of our workers, trying to shield you from him, must have binned the letter.) If it wasn't that the letter was dated September 2016, I would have called him a copy cat who sends letters to you because I am sending letters to you. Maybe he thought you weren’t going to come back. Who knows. I laughed a lot when I read the letter and I am sure you would too. But since you are busy and really we don't have time to spend on that man, I will just give you the highlights so we can giggle together. 

First off, I believe he has been eyeing this home of ours. He wants to replace you and thinks that somehow if he comes as the friend of my darling he can dance his way to my heart. You know those men who say oh I am your husbands close friend, then tries to touch you inappropriately when your husband is not looking. He believes that you may not be able to take care of me for much longer and thinks that perhaps it is time to start coming close. 

He basically says that all of your workers and colleagues either lack humility or are stupid. I do not disagree with him, it is just that I thought as a man who has no humility himself I thought this arrogance would be a quality he cherished. It is like a Nigerian restaurant owner hating the smell of egusi soup. 

While we are on the issue of humility and your workers, why is one of the gatemen refusing to wear the uniform of the security company he works for? We know Hammed is an old soldier but he should not be proud. He agreed to man one of our gates and he should do his job properly. We can’t have other security men wearing their uniforms and Hameed acting like he is too big to wear a uniform. We are not interested in how he feels about the uniform. If he wants to man that gate he should not embarrass us. 

So the letter reminds me of one of my own concerns. The grass cutter guy. Your secretary. I know you have just returned and all but really darling, are we just going to let him continue acting as your secretary after he has stolen our money? We have all the papers that show that he lied and personally profitted from an errand that we gave him. If we do not handle this matter soon, other workers may think we are soft and try to steal from us too. 

Ehen, before I forget, the guys who help us interview our staff say that the guy who we wanted to employ to check if any of the workers have committed fraud keep insisting that he is unfit to work for us. And you know we engaged them because this is how we have agreed to run our house: professionally and democratically. If their consensus is that he is untrustworthy, shouldn't we just look for someone else? I heard that one of the security men sent a letter to say he heard the man is a thief. We do not know. There are many other fish in the sea. (But I don't want you to use that saying for me o! In your life, I am the only fish in the sea. In fact I am the only living creature). 

But wait o, this one that I am explaining this letter to you, maybe you have even read it. Have you read the letter and decided it wasn't worth your attention? Or did those your PA’s destroy bin it before it got to you? Now I am worried. Because if you have not read it how many other letters and memos have disappeared? Let us be careful o. That is how overzealous staff will make us lose letters.

I just want to say that I am here for you anytime. I don't care what the doctors say, you will always be my only true love. That guy who wrote that letter may have said some things that are true (except the funny part about humility, who is he trying to kid? Look how he treats the people who send him letters. He attacks them or tries to get them arrested or jailed. Petina.) but look he just wants to find his way to my heart. And how do you even begin making moves on someone’s lover when they are still around. You will recover fully my love and our love will grow stronger. 

Ps. Please this is another reminder about the grass cutter. Fire him please. it annoys me to see him everyday pretending like he is a clean godly worker. 

Pps. There is fura in the fridge in case you want something before I finish cooking. 

Love, 


E

Sunday, March 12, 2017

NOW THAT YOU ARE BACK


Dearest Buhari,

If you hear your ears ringing it is the sound of me crying out in jubilation at your return Bubu. If you feel tremors beneath your feet it is me pounding the ground in a happy dance. If you hear uncomfortable squeaky sounds it is me, moving things around in the other room as you settle in this weekend. Thank you for reading my letters and for deciding to come home Bubu.

You have to forgive me. I was being selfish thinking you no longer loved me. I even accused you of cheating, with London, with King Mohammed of Morocco and even Trump. Your people, the ones who shielded me from seeing you or hearing your voice swore to God that you were hale and hearty and just resting. They swore one their dead parents’ graves that you my love were not very ill. But after reading what you said about your own illness upon arrival I feel bad. You said you were taking lots of drugs and got blood transfusions. You even said that since your days as a young man you had never been this ill. You see, they lied to me. If I had know you were so ill, I would have come to take care of you in London. I would have cooked for you, wiped all your cracks and crevices clean. I would have been patient. Why did they tell me you were hale and hearty? I know why. They want us to break up. They want to destroy our love and drive a wedge between us. But the devil is a liar and so are his children. Now that I know that you were very ill, I will understand if you have to go back to London for treatment. (I am wondering what happened to all those who lied in God’s name about your illness. Will God punish them for taking his name in vain? I hope so. And those who swore on their parents’ graves that you were hale and hearty, what will happen to those graves? Because it is not their dead parents fault that their children are damn shameless liars. I think they should continue resting in peace.)

I know we can’t resume our relationship like it was before because you have to rest and all. I am patient. Your deputy will take care of the house this weekend while I watch you and take care of you. Some wicked people are suggesting that if, even after your return you still need your deputy to take care of the house while you rest may be I should look for another lover especially as I am still young and healthy. They say that it is not your birthright to be head of this house. They point to Europe and America and say that if we were there you would have just retired and asked me to find a younger healthier person. I just want to say that you should not allow any of that talk bother you. I am here for you because I know that you came back for me.  

Our house has continued suffering recession and really some of your houseboys have gone wild and crazy but I know that you suffered more than we all did while you were in London. Especially the food. We both know that one of the main reasons why the British thought it necessary to violently invade 25% of the world is that they could not bear the thought of one more year with their own horrible food and weather. And to think you spent almost two months there. I hope you were able to get some edible Halal food. No wonder you lost so much weight. The illnesses are bad enough then add tasteless meals to that. No. Your suffering was greater than ours. 

If you ask me the next time you have to go back to London, we should go together and pack some soup ingredients so I can cook for you in London. But if you just want to rest without me, I understand. In that case I would recommend that you travel with one cook from Abuja. I know some have suggested that you build hospitals that you can feel confident enough to attend here in Nigeria, but sometimes the body needs that feeling of traveling abroad to respond to treatment. Also those people speaking are just haters who wish you ill anyway. It is not your fault that we do not have stable electricity. Do they want electricity to go off while you are doing a medical procedure? They wish you evil those people. 

Meanwhile, now that you are back Bubu, I will make a list of all the people who must have skipped your mind, including the grass cutter who is really bringing shame to our house. Not just the size of his belly but the fact that he diverted our money and everyone thinks he is a thief. We shouldn't have thieves parading confidently in our yard. 

Also, can we talk about how all your workers just think they can use our security guards like their personal property? I thought they were professionals. We cannot have workers who have private disputes with their lovers then use our security guards to settle it. You know that one who calls himself Apostle in our backyard? That is how he got some of the guards to detain a woman on whose back he was ejaculating. For three days they held her without charge. Imagine. As if our guards had nothing better to do. But that bald headed self-styled Apostle, you would not even imagine he was that imaginative, to finish off on the woman's back. I wonder if he does that with his own wife. Where do people learn such things even? Anyway, better the back than the face or hair. No?

Let me take hot water into the bathroom for you. I know you have a hot shower but we both know that it is more romantic for me to put water on the fire for you. Also, what if there is no electricity. Take your time in the shower and call out if you need me. 

Ps. I trust that now that you are back we will resume communicating like the happy couple that we are and that you will not allow your uncle or whoever is around you come between us again Bubu. 

Pps. I heard that short man who claims to be your friend didn’t even come to the airport behind his house to welcome you back. I hope he has a good excuse, like being very far away. Otherwise it might be because you embarrassed him that last time he came to greet you. You know how he likes to keep a grudge. So petty that small one. We should call him Petina. 

Yours forever


E.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

BECAUSE LOVE IS PATIENT

Dearest Buhari,

I have gone through my last three letters. Meticulously. Underlined every word. Went back to check for words with multiple meanings. Because I am thinking maybe it is me. Maybe I am the reason you are not responding to me, not talking to me. Maybe the letters annoy you. Maybe it was the typos in at least two of the letters. I know you are a meticulous man and I can understand how a typo can irritate you so bad you do not want to love me anymore. I apologize for any typos. But man proposes, God disposes — you do believe that every event is destined by God no? Or maybe it was because I called you General? So I am not taking any chances now Bubu. I only called you General because your love makes me stand erect, at attention. Ok, maybe you don't find that funny and I apologize. However I need to talk about something else. 

I am hurt. Deeply. Your friends told me that you spoke to the King of Morocco. Morocco! He called you. First that means that he has your number. I know he is a head of state and has contact with the presidency and all, even visited Abuja but, how did he get your number in London? How long has this been going on? And why the King of Morocco? He is not even your type. I have lived long enough with you to know what turns your head and no, Mohammed VI is not it. What did you see in him that you did not see in me? Ok, I have dropped the demand that you call me via Skype. Maybe you are self conscious and do not want me to see your face. But at least WhatsApp. Write me. Speak to me. Not through that houseboy of yours who looks like a pigeon. Ok, let me stop, I am getting angry. Let me simply explain to you why you speaking to Mohammed VI hurts me. 

First off the King of Morocco is not like you. You didn’t inherit anything and I know you loved me because I worked hard from scratch and am not a daddy’s boy. Mohammed VI is only king because his daddy was king. You built your name from scratch. You fought in wars. And you admired me because I was in some small way like you. You love hard workers. On the day of his birth, Mohammed was appointed Heir Apparent and Crown Prince! Is that the kind of person you want to be having an affair with? Someone who does not know anything about work? Is this the kind of person you are refusing to talk to me for?

Yes he may have developed Morocco a bit but he also has been accused of corruption. But more than that Bubu dear, he put on weight since becoming king. I have been here trying all sorts of diets (remember the year I stopped eating meat altogether? Yes it was because of you!). I have been trying to work out because look at you my dear — so fit. You haven't gained a kilo since you took power after that coup in the 80’s. No belly fat. No flabby arms. Is that what you want? Do you want me to put on weight? Because I can do it for you. If that will make you speak to me directly, I will. For you I will. 

People keep repeating it. That it is better for me if you are away because your deputy is running our house well. But your deputy can’t love me like you do. And all he is doing are things you wanted to do anyway. There is nothing special about implementing your ideas. They are still your ideas.The men are all lining up outside our bedroom trying to take your place. I see them and I am refusing to even leave the room. If only you would speak to me and tell me what was going on I would be proud and tell those men wanting to replace you that although my man is ill and away, he is still my man. 

I am sorry to keep returning to this but man, the King of Morocco? I thought you like me tall dark and handsome. So yes he is richer than me and all but money isn't everything. And it is not even as if you like money. This is one thing that attracted me to you in the first place. You didn’t care that I wasn't rich. You just wanted to love me. 

Please, talk to me. Even if it is just for five minutes. Send me an emoji or something. Anything. 

Ps. Your uncle is refusing to give me any information and is making it hard for anyone to reach you. I am beginning to suspect that he is intercepting my messages and destroying them. I would hate to think he is keeping you from me. This is why if you can read any of my messages, you really need to respond to me. Otherwise, we may need to do something about your uncle. 
I am here whenever you choose to talk. Because love is patient. 

Pps. I just Googled Mohammed’s photo again and it just hurt me afresh. Is this really what you want Bubu?



Yours forever, 


E

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A(NOTHER) LETTER TO MY DEAR BUHARI


Dearest General,

Please refer to my last letter from two weeks ago — the one which sadly you have not replied. It was Valentines and I really hoped that we could spend the time together, even if it was by Skype. I know you are not big on technology but I thought you would at least try. I have given this a lot of thought. I have come to the conclusion that Valentine is a Western, even pagan celebration and I can understand if, being a believer, you want nothing to do with that. However, our love is still in need of fixing. We cannot carry on like this, you talking to everyone around me — even your houseboy, the one who looks like a pigeon and excitedly tells everyone you called him — but not me. This is all the more serious now that for all intents and purposes, we are in a long distance relationship. 

One of the holy books says: Love never fails. And that is why I persist, writing you, even though you have refused to speak to me. I am not asking for much. I didn’t say you should send me nudes, I know you have not healed. Just one FaceTime or WhatsApp call. 

I believe in our love. However I want us to get one thing out of the way. You have spent all this time with London; two months you have been in her home, waking up, taking your bath, eating, taking off your clothes for medical and other procedures. I have never doubted your loyalty but now I really have to ask this question: Are you having an affair? Is that why you are ashamed to speak to me even though all our mutual friends assure me you are fine? Look, I am not a child. I am not naive. I know that with distance, affairs are a possibility. You are a child of God but you are human. Even a 74 year old has his needs. I recognize that. And that is why I insist that you tell me so we can work things out. It is not as if I have not been tempted myself. It is not like I have not seen someone that has made my blood bubble with excitement. But, Love endures all things. We can get better. I can try to please you better. Just Skype me and I promise I will put this affair behind me and carry on loving you. 

You remember Odysseus and Penelope in Greek mythology? I know that is for pagans, but there are lessons to be learnt there. I am like Penelope and you are like Odysseus. You have gone on a long long journey and now that no one knows when or if you will return, men have started filing in to take your place. They woo me and tell me how things can be so much better without you. Your deputy, the one who couldn't even speak in your presence, is now walking around, doing things to impress me. Things we couldn't do together since we fell in love, he is doing them. And people are praising him and hinting to me that he would make a great replacement for my runaway lover. “See how much he has done since your man disappeared,” they tell me. This offends me on a few levels. First off, he is a short man and you know I have a thing for tall men. Short men have issues. They are always trying to overcompensate. Look at the other short man, the one who used to insult you and now swears by your name.  You just cannot trust them I tell you. So, yes your deputy has achieved much and is now very vocal in your absence but it is only you who makes my blood boil. It is only you — talk hunk — that I chose. Second, your deputy, he wears dark colors (and clothes that barely fit him) and I love a man who knows how to wear white, like you. 

However, I am human. If he continues doing these good things I cannot say for how long I can wait for you. He is doing things we could not achieve together. Things you promised you would do. I have to justify to myself why I am waiting for you. I need you to tell me why. Why should I keep waiting for you my dear? Because while love is great and all, sometimes, love is not enough. I am like Penelope but I am not as strong as she was. I am not magic. I can bleed. I can break. I need you to tell me not to break. 

Now, every time someone looks for the man of the house, your deputy shows up. He speaks to me more than you spoke to me. I am not comparing, but facts are facts. People, foreigners, are asking me mockingly: Where is your man, oh faithful Penelope? 

Give me the words bubu. Give me the words to respond to my attackers and mischief makers. Show me I did not make a mistake choosing you over all others. Don't mock me by speaking to strangers and not speaking to me. Give me a reason not to go with your deputy and move on. 

Ps. The thieves in your house are still there. The man who took our money to cut the grass and didn’t do it. And the thief who is in charge of your flights. I hope you will return, take charge and rid our house of these filthy men. 

Yours lovingly,

Penelope to your Odysseus 


E. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A VALENTINE LETTER TO MR PRESIDENT


Dear General, 

With adoration in my heart I pick up my pen (well, my laptop) from the basket of love to write you this letter. I have been thinking about you since you have been gone. Daily! I have been talking to people who know people who know you. Almost daily. I have been thinking about the people who have been speaking in your name, clearing their own names in your name. Daily! I have been thinking about the rooms you are in, all of them, the ones we know, the ones we think we know, and the other rooms. Daily! I allowed myself to think about you in a hospital gown, a white man with degrees in medicine probing your inner parts, until the people who speak to the people who speak to you assured us that you are hale and hearty and in good spirits. I am erasing that memory from my mind now, realizing it is not only false, but inappropriate. You are fine and even — I saw the photos online — receiving visitors in Abuja House in London (which, let’s face it, is technically Nigerian soil — and you are president of all that is Nigeria, whether that bit of Nigeria is in Nigeria or abroad). 

It is almost Valentines and there is no word on whether you will be home in time for that or not. I miss hearing your voice. People say a lot of bad things about you and I know this should not affect the way I feel about it you but I have to admit, it is tough. Say something General. Say something, not because I am giving up on you but because you know, this was the deal. That is what love is. It is nothing without communication. I listen to sad love songs and I tell myself, he cares, he still cares. 

I know you know exactly how to make me feel better, even though the enemies think otherwise — they say if you knew, you’d have done something about our economic situation, about the people, grass cutters, who try to come between us. Every family has that one rogue, that alcoholic embarrassment, that pedophile cousin who shows up at family dinners that you warn the kids to stay away from, that thieving uncle whom you allow visit but don't leave anything valuable around, the other uncle who buys gifts but you know defrauded his last office. But we cannot let them come between us. Say something, General. 

Someone sent me a photo of you with someone to say you were in London, to make me jealous maybe. But I know you would never go behind my back to see others. I know that photo was taken in 2015. You would never deliberately do anything to hurt me. 

The guys you are paying to protect all the people you love, they are beating people up and impregnating some of the young girls in our house. You do not approve of this, I know. Making young girls pregnant is not your thing. That is why I am thinking, maybe we need to do something about them so they don't affect our relationship. 

You remember I told you about my ex. I told you clearly that I have trust issues. But you told me I was safe with you. Not to belabor the point but you remember my ex, it was bad enough that we were in a long distance relationship, him always being in Germany and Saudi Arabia and all, but he had this condition and didn’t tell me. Imagine entering a long term relationship and they don't tell you they have a terminal illness. There is something deeply selfish about that. You invest time, emotions and money and boom, the person you thought you would be with for a long time drops dead. They will not be alive to see you mourn. They will not be there when all the people you turned down for them show up at the funeral mocking you with their eyes, telling you: “If only you chose me, you would not be mourning a lover now.” I know you are not like my ex and if you had any thing like that you would tell me. You would not make me mourn a second time. I know that even if it turns out you have something like that and I don't know, it will not be because you hid it from me. It will be because you didn’t know yourself. And I can forgive that. Anyone can fall ill. So, my dear General, say something. You know I cannot do this long distance relationship thing. I told you when we met when you insisted we go out and I told you I was still burnt from the last time. 

Just tell me this London thing is just temporary. That you will be back soon. That you will call me. Or send me a WhatsApp voice note. Or FaceTime me. I do not want to spend this Valentine alone. Not that I will start thinking of someone else. But it will not be good for our relationship. Say something. Or better still, come home. Tell me what is wrong with you. I can handle it. 

Ps. Look darling, even if it is that prostate thing and we can no longer, you know…it is fine. Just tell me. Love is not all about sex. Love is greater than sex. I can find other ways to sort myself out. And no, it will not involve cheating on you.

Pps. In case you come back, shall we talk about the guy who has taken our money to cut grass but hasn't done so? I think we should let him go. And then we can have a nice dinner and talk about our finances. We are running out of food. 

You are in my heart, 
E.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

WHY NIGERIANS SHOULD NOT PROTEST


The president is sick. We know this because of how many times he has had to shut down and go to London. And I blame Nigerians for this. I blame Nigerians for their expectations and suffering. I blame Nigerians for being insensitive and showing their frustrations in public, thereby contributing to the destabilization of the country and economy. We all know that economies around the world are driven by confidence. The more people complain, the more the economy crumbles and of course, because Mr Buhari loves the country so much (that he gave his only begotten retirement period that whosoever believes in him shall be called loyal) it affects his health. The president is sick. Sick and tired of all of this. 

Let me give you an example. If you are a young Nigerian woman hoping to get married and your suitor’s family comes to see you to check your suitability, that is not the time to complain about your migraines or start talking about the fact that you sometimes sleep walk or that sometimes you itch between your legs. You put your best foot forward. If you have a migraine, you put on the best smile and look indestructible. It is not pretense. You do not want them thinking that you will be a health liability. I know of people who never saw their wives without make up until after the wedding. This is not deception. It is strategic positioning. If your wife or husband had told you of all their flaws on the first day you met, would you have met them a second time? Nigerians should not worsen Buhari’s medical condition, whatever it is. (I suspect it is nothing at all, perhaps just all our nagging).

This brings me to the planned protest by Innocent Tuface Idibia. It is insensitive. If you want to discipline your child for breaking your new set of wine glasses or for stealing your car, going to a late night party and then crashing it then suddenly that day the child gets a bad fever, will you still punish the child? Every loving parent will suspend any such punishment and take care of the child, nursing them back to health. Because in the end, you love your child more than you love your car or wine glasses. Perhaps after your child is out of hospital and has gotten better you can raise the issue and tell them not to do it again. It is the same with Nigeria. Mr Buhari has barely changed out of his hospital gown. We should allow him to get his energy back before demanding things like good governance, rule of law, jobs, justice for victims of army and police brutality, fulfillment of campaign promises, or even electricity. What if he breaks down again? What if we drive him back to London with our constant nagging and make him yet again have to expose his nakedness to that doctor? What if the doctor is a pervert? Did we ever think of that? Of the implications of leaving our president naked with a doctor who might be a pervert? God forbid bad things. 

I will give you another example. Assume a woman who loves her husband receives news that her husband is drunk and misbehaving at a bar somewhere. She gets very upset. She is going to give him a piece of her mind when he gets back. She will tell him that if he repeats this or makes it a pattern, she will stop sleeping with him or maybe even leave him. But then as she is waiting for him to come home, gritting her teeth and fuming, someone phones her to say, he has been in a terrible accident. What will she do first? Love will kick in. She will still be angry but she will be more scared. She will go to the hospital and announce herself as the wife of so-and-so. She will take charge. She will pay the bills. She will kneel and pray to God that nothing happens to the father of her children. She will help him go to the bathroom and remind him to swallow his pills. If he is immobile, she will clean him up. She will bring him a bowl to clean his teeth. She will stay in the room all night, when he snores and when he farts and when he groans from the pain. Because this is what she has signed up for. This is what marriage means. This is what love means. After he recovers she might then say to him: if you had not been out drinking all of this would not have happened. Because she is a good woman. Because she doesn't want it to happen again. 


I think we should be like that woman. Yes we are angry. With the darkness. With the army killing Shiites, impregnating teenagers in the north east, and shooting protesters. With the scarcity of foreign exchange. With the scarcity of foreign exchange and seedless grapes. With the silence of Buhari. With the corruption of our grass cutting Secretary to the Government of the Federation. With our inability to know who really is running this ship. With the fact that while Buhari suffers, the first lady is probably suffering too, the other room being empty. But we should not, will not, say anything. We will turn up for our husband who may have been drunk at the time of the accident. We will nurse him to health. We will help him with his bowel movements. We will pray for Buhari. Because we are good people. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

WHY BUHARI DESERVES HIS MEDICAL LEAVE

I was in a hospital yesterday to see a doctor for a referral to a sleep clinic. I think I may have sleep apnea. Also my gastric ulcer is acting up again. The only responsibilities I currently have are writing two books and taking care of my one partner. I don’t have a side chic  to worry about or children to feed. I am young. Yet I need to go to the hospital. Imagine if I was in my 70’s and had 180 million people to take care of (including 469 with special needs). I would probably be doing it out of a hospital ward. So I understand why President Buhari has to take yet another medical leave. I also understand why it has to be in London. Apart from the obvious reasons, allow me to explain why I think he needs and deserves the rest in London. 

First let us clear the issue of London. Some say, why London? I say why not London? The British invaded our country and imposed themselves, their religion and their language on us in a form of violence otherwise known as colonialism. They plundered the land and then they left. The least we can do is outsource our healthcare to them. Let them treat (or manage) our president. I know we are paying for it, but they are providing the service and that is what matters. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing when you alone cannot handle a service. We are providing the world with crude oil, mineral resources, human resources (and some militancy), the least they can offer us in return is healthcare. 

Think of Mr Buhari’s tenure so far. There is a lot that could have made him exhausted and in need of frequent medical treatment. Let us start with the courts. It takes a lot of guts and energy to ignore the courts when they ask you to release a person they claim you have been holding illegally. I do not have children but I have friends who have really troublesome toddlers. The type that wont stop crying until they get what they want. I see how those friends are often exhausted in the morning from having to listen to the constant wailing. Buhari has to listen to wailing from Amnesty International, Amnesty Nigeria, Human Rights Watch, the Islamic movement of Nigeria, the supporters and friends of the journalists that keep getting arrested these days, those complaining about killing of Biafra protesters. That is a lot of noise.  Personally, I don’t know why people think that just because a court has said Zakzaky should be released Mr Buhari should respect the court order. It is just a court and the judge is just a human being. And a mere human being should not make our president do anything. It is a miracle he has not broken down. He is a strong man and I think also the fact that he doesn’t drink or smoke helps. So if he says he wants to go to London and get treatment, I support it and so should every patriotic Nigerian. 

I think China must have been listening to Mr Buhari’s speech when he said he belonged to Nobody because they recently walked into Nigeria with a business card that read People’s Republic of China aka Nobody. Then they asked him to send Taiwan away. And just like a repentant man that has been caught with another woman he asked the mistress, Taiwan to leave his matrimonial home. China was happy with it and I think we will get our 20 billion dollar loan. Any man who has gone through a cheating scandal and survived knows just how draining and stressful it all can be even after your wife forgives you. As a child of God I have not gone through it, but I know people who have. This is enough to wear the president down. 

Sometimes you have a child that is a thief or a criminal. But then it is your child and your can’t throw them away. Sometimes you must ignore them and let them come to their senses. You must let them learn from their mistakes and find their way back to your loving arms. This period of waiting is stressful. You will endure the gossiping of neighbors and the taunts of rivals who never fail to remind you that your child is or was a thief. Recently we saw documents that showed that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation put his hands in the north east pie by using his companies to secure contracts from a committee he was a member of. Imagine the energy it takes for the president to ignore that. Or to ignore the many disloyal Nigerians who tell him about a certain Minister of his who is more corrupt than anyone being chased by EFCC at the moment. Of course these are baseless rumors but imagine hearing that everyday. You too will end up in hospital with high blood pressure. 

I remember once when I shattered the screen of my father’s new smartphone. He loved that smartphone. It was a mistake, not a careless one, but a mistake nonetheless. I was taking a charger from a top shelf and it landed on the phone charging on the floor. My father was upset. The whole incident made me tired and upset. I went to my room afterward to sleep. Mr Buhari’s airforce just killed over 200 people in an IDP camp in Rann. It was a mistake. Imagine how exhausted I was after shattering one smart phone screen. Then imagine the exhaustion that follows killing not 10 or 50 or 100. Over 200 and counting. Please let him go and rest. 


I really think that our president has endured enough. And if we want him to continue his service in 2019 we must allow him to rest as often as he can in London. If Great Britain had any shame in fact, they would be offering to pay for his treatment as part payment for the evil of colonialism. That is the least they can do. We wish the President quick recovery and hope that the First Lady does not miss him too much in his other room. But thank God (and white people) for things like Skype and FaceTime. At least they can see each other.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FLOATING



It is here on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital city that the perfect metaphor for how you feel presents itself to you. It is dancing delicately on the edges of this almost-still body of water called Usuma dam: empty plastic bottles and cans of soft drinks, polythene bags, disposable cups and plates, the condom wrap torn in a way that you think suggests urgency, a lone leg of worn out slippers… 

You say it to yourself: flotsam. But then you think, flotsam is debris and wreckage from a ship so technically the detritus from people picnicking at the dam isn’t flotsam. You like the word, so you use it anyway. Flotsam, you say out loud. That is how you feel these days, how the city makes you feel. Floating, aimlessly in a place with no soul, no flow, no character to its movement. Flotsam, because you feel like you have fallen off the grid and can’t say what you have been doing here for six years. Flotsam, because much of the wealth this city boasts of, feels like the debris from a country wrecked by open theft and corruption- the cars, the vulgar mansions, the money. 

You have always wanted to climb the hills around the dam but they always looked too steep from the ground, not something that any of the shoes you had could execute. You have always skirted about the hills, enough to contemplate its magnificence but not enough to experience its beauty, the view, the thin freshness that you imagine the air up there must have. This is perhaps another metaphor for how you have lived, for too long. Skirting, never really going the whole way. 

Skirting. Like when a lovely journalist you barely knew asked you to be spontaneous and come with her on a road trip and you said you’d think about it. You packed a bag but thought, what if I have an accident, there are always accidents on Nigerian roads, what if there are people killing people on the roads, these things happen. Skirting. Enough thought about being spontaneous to contemplate what nice things could happen, enough to pack a bag and feel the rush of blood to your head, but not enough to leave the house. 

The dam is lovely on a weekday because there is no noise or activity, no lovers looking for a quiet place to fondle, nothing to upset the balance of things. Only glossy colorful wild lizards that you think might be five-lined skinks with bright blue tails and olive to brown striped bodies everywhere. You hope for a snake or a monkey. You walk gently trying not to scare all the things creeping and crawling because you realize you are in their space. Sometimes the city does this to you- makes you forget whose space you are in. Or maybe it is Nigeria, where personal space means nothing, where a person can start screaming in the name of Jesus in a crowded bus, or your neighbor who is fasting can play Quranic recitations loud enough to give you a headache. You walk trying not to upset the balance of things.

You stare at an empty bottle of wine, Don Morris, between two large rocks up on the side of one of the large hills. You imagine two people, or three, sharing a bottle, passing it around, laughing, maybe smoking- you look around for cigarette butts. Maybe the rain has washed it away. You are careful not to leave any stories behind in the form of a bottle or disposable cup. You think these bits of trash upset the balance of things.

Finally you decide, after torturing yourself with thoughts of all the things that could happen- you sliding down a slippery part of the rock and scraping all the skin off your body, you tripping and plunging down to the rocks below or just losing breath and collapsing after the reaching the top- finally you decide that you are tired of skirting; tired of being afraid to die, tired of feeling like flotsam, tired of being afraid to upset the balance of things in your life.

You start climbing. Slowly at first, crouching, walking sideways, gauging the steepness and then increasingly, more confidently, taking bigger strides, straightening. Halfway up and panting, you realize that most of the steepness was imagined. 

At the peak, you find it all undisturbed. No debris. Even more five-lined skinks. And air, the quality of which you cannot remember breathing. Before this city hardened you, you might have cried. This is beautiful you say to yourself but suddenly ‘beautiful’ seems like such a bland word to describe this. You stop trying to describe. And just take it all in. 

You have not just discovered the meaning of life and yes, your problems will still be there when you go back down. But in this moment you feel many things shatter inside you- walls and fears. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of death - for now. In your head you go, if ever I want to kill myself, I know just where to come. You mean it in a nice, this-place-is-a-good-place-to-die way. 


And as you climb down you think, smiling, of all the things you need to do which will upset the balance of things, but which will stop you from just floating, aimlessly: write more about your dead brother, trust someone, love without fear.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

HOW TO ENJOY NIGERIA IN 2017 - A recession manual


Nigeria has gone through a rough patch in 2016. We officially entered a recession and experienced one of the worst shortages of foreign exchange. The Naira took many hits and plunged far below the dollar. A lot of expectations have not been met and many that I know have experienced difficult moral situations trying to respond to actions of the current government. It would be a shame to go through the same in 2017 so I have come up with a little manual on how to enjoy the new year with no stress or moral dilemma. 

This recession manual is about saving. The recession means that our government no longer has the spending power it used to have. It also means that there will be less money that will trickle down from the biggest spender in Nigeria. Saving and cutting down on expenses can save you a lot of stress. Here are ideas on what you can cut out of your life for peace of mind in 2017:

  1. Side lovers: See, I am not here to judge anybody. It is your life and only you can decide how you want to live it. But facts are facts. Side lovers are a major source of expenses and many people, men especially, do not realize how much more they spend with each additional lover they have. You can negotiate with your main partner or wife. You can say no to them especially when you have been together for long. But once that new side lover opens their mouth to ask for something, you are falling over yourself (like investors falling over themselves to come into Buhari’s Nigeria) to please them. It is not your fault. It is nature of forbidden love (or sex). Consider sticking to your wife, girlfriend or partner in 2017 and see how much you will save on movie tickets, popcorn, data for Skype or FaceTime, nails, weaves, clothes, gifts, and even fuel. As one who has recently become monogamous, I can swear by this and how much savings is involved in it. I do not know how you are going to break off from them — as a child of God that is not my area of specialty. Some people I know have pretended that they found Jesus and told their lovers that they didn’t want to keep living in sin. Others I know have told their side lovers (especially ones they were financing) that they have become bankrupt and those side lovers who were there mostly for the money disappeared. The danger of this is that if you have a side lover that has caught deep feelings, then this excuse cannot work. In that case, I sympathize with you.
  2. Pretentious fruits: This is a thing in the big cities — Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt. Seedless grapes, kiwi and the like which are imported into Nigeria, cost a fortune. These pretentious fruits are hardly even ever fresh because of the distance they have had to travel. Pretentious fruits are often involved in (a) above because one often needs this with side lovers. If you cut out side lovers it is easier to convince your main partner or wife that these overpriced fruits are not really necessary and that it is far better to buy whatever fruit is in season in Nigeria. Fruits in season are fresher and often come from around, so you will be buying healthy fruits but also patronizing Nigerian farmers which will in turn grow our economy. #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira
  3. Weddings: If you have done or helped organize [or even just attended] a wedding in Nigeria, you will agree with me that if you are on a budget, no matter what you do, people will still find something to complain about. Unless you give out iPads and Smartphones at your wedding, people will complain about the color of your jollof rice [and say you were stingy with the tomatoes even now that the price of tomatoes has dropped] or the fact that the meat was too tough or too tender [hence overcooked or already going bad when it was boiled], or that the DJ was probably a jealous ex of the bride [and thus played the worst music to ruin her wedding], or that the takeaway packs were too small. Something. So don't stress yourself. Also, if you have been invited to a wedding, do not feel pressured to buy the too-expensive ashoebi. Buy the couple a gift and if they are really your friends, they will forgive you for not being able to indulge in their extortion. 
  4. Walking and car pooling: I know how the people most ashamed and tormented by signs of poverty, are poor people. Poor people are afraid to be seen trekking. Poor people are afraid to ask for things, before somebody will abuse them and call them long throat. Rich people are not afraid to take a walk. I remember once I was taking a walk some people saw me and said poverty was worrying me and I was trekking up and down in Abuja. So I stopped taking walks pending when I would become rich. That has not yet happened but I am trusting in my prayers this holiday season. My point is, don't be like me. Sometimes, walk. It is healthy. And you get to see your city in a way most people never see the city. If you have a car, sometimes see if someone is going your way so they don't have to use their car so that they will also feel free to offer you a ride another time. That way you cut costs. 
  5. Beans: Look, I know the stigma that beans has. I know that if you have visitors in Nigeria and you offer them beans, that will be the beginning of foul rumors about how you have fallen from grace and you are so poor that you offer visitors beans. But see, beans is nutritious. It is tasty. It stays in the stomach for a long time. It is cheap. There is no plastic beans. Don’t allow the devil use rumor mongers to stop you from saving money. God will judge rumor mongers. Beans also helps with weigh loss if you eat more of it and cut out the heavy carbohydrates and starch. Just make sure to balance with vegetables that are in season. 

I pray that as you make those phone calls cutting off those side lovers, God will meet you at the point of your needs in 2017 and cushion the effect of the recession.