Thursday, August 30, 2012


You know the value of books. The process of making them intrigues you. You want your name on the front cover of a book and, like an earthworm inches through dirt into the ground, you want to make your way into people’s homes, heads and hearts. I am here to help you achieve that.
First, you must look the part. It is important to look like an African writer. Find multi-coloured kampala fabric and use it to sew shirts which you’ll wear to all writers’ events. Or an old t-shirt. You shouldn’t look like a model or banker. Your precious time is spent thinking of plot and theme and words, not on dress and grooming. Your hair needs to be unkempt. However, nothing says authentic-tortured-African-writer like dreadlocks. Please, note that in Nigeria there is a difference between dreadlocks and ‘dada’. Dada is less refined, naturally matted coils of hair due to superstitious neglect. Dada is uncool. Dreadlocks are deliberate. They are cool. They make you look wildly creative. If someone asks; no, you are not a Rastafarian. You are an African writer.
As a writer, you must flaunt your vices. You need to show that you are a flawed character. If you drink, drink too much. If you smoke, do it at inappropriate times. Show up at an event reeking of booze. People will understand. Vices are a tool of the trade.
Now, you have the basic tools: a multi-coloured kampala shirt, cool dreadlocks, and vices. You must set about the business of writing.
You do not need to read a lot to be a Nigerian writer. In fact, as a Nigerian writer you can make shameless statements like “I don’t really read much”, in public. All you need is a burning desire to write. It is sufficient to have read Shakespeare and Achebe, and maybe a little of Chimamanda Adichie for contemporary reading. The only thing you need to really study is a dictionary or thesaurus.
Please, note that all Nigerian characters are Africans who act the same: children are respectful of elders; parents are always responsible, wise individuals teaching children valuable lessons of life. Characters do not use cuss words or talk about sex, even when in the company of peers. Nobody’s mother smokes and we have no homosexuals in Nigeria.
Use big words instead of small words; ‘Discombobulate’ instead of ‘confuse’. How can you write like a layman when you are an African writer? It doesn’t matter how many people read or understand you. What matters is that you impress those who do.
Use many words. It is always better to err on the side of verbosity than to err on the side of brevity.
Protect your work fiercely and always insist that people give you ‘constructive criticism’. Anyone who points out, rightly or otherwise, that your writing isn’t quite there yet, is evil and an enemy of your hustle. You must believe that there is nothing like bad writing. After all, you were inspired by the spirits before you began writing – what do critics know? Quote Achebe. Say that anyone who doesn’t like your writing should go and write their own.
Do not waste your time or money on editors. Editors are failed writers whose life ambition is to frustrate the hustle of real writers like you. Show your friends your work. But only the ones who are not jealous of your hustle, and who remind you that your writing is the best thing since point-and-kill. Find some popular person from your village who will write you a foreword without actually reading your book. Then, go to press.
Go to Ibadan or Lagos. Find a cheap printer who can print 1,000 copies without ink smearing on the pages coming out lopsided. Arrange for a transporter to bring your book home.
A book is not complete without a book launch. In Nigeria, a book launch is a fund-raising ceremony. It is not important to have writers at this event. Well, maybe the book reviewer. You need your state governor (who may not come but will send a representative with a cheque or a pledge); your Local Government chairman; your Pastor or Imam to bless the event; and any minister, senator or rich person that you know. It is important to find a Chief Launcher who will encourage others to donate to your hustle. Do not leave it to chance or the discretion of the Chief Launcher, unless you are sure of his capabilities. In Nigeria, nobody is allowed to embarrass the Chief Launcher by giving more money. So, if you can, gently hint that you know he will set the bar high for others to follow. That is the job of the Chief Launcher – setting the bar as high as possible.

You do not need a marketer, publicist or publisher. These people eat into your profit margin. If you have a car, carry a few hundred copies in the trunk at all times. Be your own marketer. Steer conversation toward your book and tell them you have written this really cool book. Someone will ask for it and you will tell them to hold on for a minute while you get it from your car. If you don’t have a car, have a big bag that can carry at least 10 copies. Do not be ashamed to carry your books to public gatherings. Book by book, God blessing your hustle, you may end up selling off the 1,000 copies your printer produced, and maybe even go for a reprint.
Get an award. It doesn’t matter what. It may be from your church bulletin which you have been writing for since you were in secondary school or your old boy’s association newsletter. You can even have friends get together to organise and award you the ‘Roforofo Prize for African Fiction’. Then, you can have on your book, ‘Award Winning Author’. No need to state what award it is. An award-winning writer is a good writer.  And good writers will make heaven.
It is my hope that you make it as a writer and have many successful books in the market. And with well organised book launchings, you can be sure that God will bless your hustle.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Our politicians in the ruling party have failed us. And God will address their matter. But before that divine judgment must come the judgment of the people. It is your responsibility as opposition politician to deliver this well-deserved judgment on behalf of the good and oppressed people of this country.

Your status as opposition politician is attained upon the loss of an election or political post whether or not that post was secured through the ruling party. It is evil for anyone to point to your past and say that you once enjoyed the largesse of the ruling party. What matters is that God has, through your political loss, shown you the light and led you to the honorable path of opposition. Loss of, or failure to secure political office does not an opposition politician make. What completes you as an opposition politician who has lost out in politics is the righteous anger against all the unholy things going on in the government you cannot be a part of. There are some who lose out and take the shameful path of hanging around the corridors of power, placing full-page, full-color pro-government ads in the papers, congratulating every politician in power, commiserating with every serving politician whose grandmother has died. Some even go as far digging up some dead relative of someone in power to do a 10th year remembrance ad. God forbid that you disgrace yourself like this for political power.

First thing to do is to change political party. You cannot remain in the ruling party and be successful as an opposition politician. Our ruling party does not take kindly to dissidents. They destroy all who try. Look at that small man in the House of Representatives who was trying to be an opposition leader and how they used bribe money to smear and truncate his hustle. So, you must decamp. It may be in a colorful well attended ceremony where the opposition leaders will welcome you and your supporters in front of cameras or through a press release. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that people know you now have nothing to do with the evil big party.

As opposition politician, you need a platform. You must remain in the consciousness of the people especially now that losing elections has led you to the glorious and honorable path of opposition. Try Twitter. People don’t realize how powerful it is. You can from the comfort of your room rouse thousands of followers to the holy task of insulting the government. Otherwise, with some ‘brown envelopes’ you can have journalists who will always run your story and give you interviews. If you use Twitter you need a lot of followers. Followers are the key to your success. It is they who will make sure your thoughts get retweeted to the ends of the earth. How do you get followers? I have only about a thousand, so Malam Nasir El Rufai, a ‘certified ruffler of feathers’ who has over a hundred thousand followers is in a better position to give advice on how to grow your Twitter fan base. Don’t say I sent you.

Your job as opposition politician is not difficult. Our country is run like a circus- a lot of what goes on beggars belief. Where else for example will two different security agencies arrest two different sets of suspects who all ‘confess’ to the same crime. Or a government official who will brazenly budget 1.2million for a facebook account? All you need to do is buy newspapers and follow news reports on Facebook and Twitter. If it is not the President asking us to pray about problems that he needs to solve himself, it is him allocating one billion to the Villa for food. Just tweet it and your thousands of followers will retweet it, adding the necessary insult to injury.

Attack those who disagree with you. Because the opposition should be, like the customer, always right. Those who question your motives or ideas are enemies of progress and agents of the ruling party. They must be denounced. There can be no opposition to the opposition.

You must understand that the only way you can achieve change as an opposition politician is by running for office or getting a political appointment. There is no need to do anything selfless like that Al Gore, who instead of running again for office after he lost, devoted his life to fighting climate change and other environmental causes. That can only work in America. Here you must be in politics to achieve change.

Remember that being an opposition politician covers a multitude of sins, both past and present. As soon as people receive evidence of your having decamped they should, if they are not evil people, turn your crimson past into an immaculate white present. They should not distract you from your task of opposing the government by bringing up scandals and allegations. If they do God will judge them harshly.

I wish you well as opposition politician and that, someday, God blessing your hustle, you will get that office you so thoroughly deserve.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Most of us who were born in Nigeria, take a lot of things for granted.  The kind of trauma we experience daily would send the average Japanese guy flying out a 23rd floor window. Make no mistake about it, Nigeria is a war front. Don’t ask me to explain- if you are a Nigerian you experience it every day and if you are not, well, Google it.

Somehow, we survive. It is not that we are superhuman. We have only been blessed with the most efficient coping mechanisms. Hope is a product made in Nigeria. Hope made outside Nigeria is a weak imitation based on concrete facts or expectations. The Nigerian hope, albeit based on nothing, is far stronger and more useful. So when we experience poverty and corruption and bombings and underdevelopment, we HOPE that things get better. There is no basis for this- the government will not do anything differently, we will not do anything differently. We just hope. And this hope will carry us and keep us going until the next bombing or bout of hunger.

While we hope however, we have also developed or identified practical tools to help us survive the horror that is Nigeria.

Motivational books. Every poor Nigerian who can write his name knows the value of a foreign motivational book. If you don’t have one, you are not a complete Nigerian. You can however remedy this by going to the nearest junction, where in the hold-up you will find glossy treasures like ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, ‘How to Be a Successful CEO’, ‘Seven Habits of highly Successful People’.  It doesn’t matter that you will probably never become a CEO. It just helps to know. A motivational book keeps you going even when your salary has not been paid. They tell these amazing stories of exceptional people who came from lowly backgrounds and became world famous. Someone once said that motivational books are misleading because they take exceptions and turn them into the rule. You must never listen to that kind of evil talk. God will judge those who criticize those life saving books. Cherish your motivational book. Take it along when you are going out. It doesn’t really matter if you read it. The intention reflected in your always having the book in your sweaty palms, is all that matters.

Alomo bitters. This is one of the greatest cheap gifts to Nigerians. The Nigerian god, knowing the Nigerian propensity for unreliability, outsourced this important coping mechanism to a Ghanaian company called Kasapreko Company Limited who have since 1989 been producing this herbal alcoholic wonder packed with such fast-acting power that I can swear that Nigerians have been happier since it came to town. You see, the battles we fight daily means we are in an emergency. There is no time or money for beer, wine and other weak drinks that take forever to give happiness. Alomo goes to the heart of the matter, quickly dealing with whatever sorrows the Nigerian nation may have directly or indirectly heaped on you. The night is not complete without it. Someone claimed recently that Alomo Bitters is a national epidemic that was destroying the lives of many Nigerians. God will truncate his hustle for talking about what he doesn’t know. Our life expectancy is already so low. Why live it in sorrow?

Third-rate Mexican telenovelas with super-imposed English voices are another important diversion from the Nigerian war front. Find one and be hopelessly addicted to it. It doesn’t matter which one, whether ‘Esmeralda’ or ‘When You Are Mine’ or ‘Catalina and Sebastian’. You need to immerse yourself in these stories, usually about the whole universe conspiring against a steamy love affair. Those who look down on it don’t realise that it is a metaphor for the Nigerian situation. Think of it, even the way their voices are different from the mouth movements is a metaphor for our politicians who say one thing but mean another. Mexico may be a country beset by drug violence and all, but God has used them to lighten our burdens. God bless their hustle against those wicked drug dealers.

Facebook. We are still not sure who brought it Nigeria. But God bless that person’s glorious hustle. We now have a place where we can be activists, insult the government, make indirect references to our wicked ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, post nice flattering pictures of ourselves and generally blab about how magnificent or miserable our hustle is. Nothing is more therapeutic than a good hearty rant. If you can write your name, please get a Facebook account. It is free. Your blood pressure will never be the same again. But if you have lost elections, the place for you to let off steam is Twitter. Twitter is opposition-and-failed-politician-heaven. As an ex-something, you can come here and talk about a Marxist revolution even though you have 10 luxury cars with customised number plates while you wait and prepare for the next elections.

Perhaps the strongest painkiller for our problems is God. I have explained this very carefully in the article “How to Worship the Nigerian god.” If you haven’t read it, Google it.

Other coping mechanisms include DSTV (bless South Africa), which ensures that our foreign football addiction is taken care of; Africa Magic, which forces us to suspend common sense to the Glory of God and; ascribing all our problems to demon or spiritual attacks, which keeps the Nigerian god busy and financed.

Whatever mechanism you choose, may God find you at the point of your need and permanently bless your hustle.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


October 28, 2011 - 2:27am | By Elnathan John
You are an artist. You have gone from begging DJ’s of local radio stations to play your tracks, (bribing them actually), and have graduated to getting a record deal and being invited for live shows and performances. The music is doing well, bus drivers know the chorus, UNILAG and LASU students play your songs in the hostels and at parties. In fact the music is doing so well, you have stopped hanging out at those local joints when you go home and can now afford the originals of those knock-off designer shades you used to wear. You have moved to Lagos or are thinking of doing so. Great job. All is well. But you need to be on Channel O and Trace Urban and get nominated for those African Music Awards that are always won by Nigerians. What you need is that world class video to go with it. Here’s what to do.

You need to think of a good location to shoot your video. Yes, some of the big names in Nigerian music today started shooting videos in Lagos cabs and University Campuses, but you don’t need to take that long route. The cash is there. Your tracks are already popular. You need to do it big. Because you can afford it, snub Nigeria. There are no good locations in Nigeria. Indoors or outdoors. Not one. A rough downtown street in South Africa is much better than the most picturesque part of Nigeria. Even if your song will feature a street (with streetlights), one man, one woman and a car. And if you need to add to that a girl with a larger than life waist line, go to South Africa. We don’t have that here either. What? It’s going to be shot in a studio? It doesn’t matter. We don’t have a single good studio either. A good music video is one shot in South Africa, or America or Europe. Don’t argue. And if you can afford to do it in London, make sure the director includes in the opening, ‘London, UK’, just in case we miss the narrow London Streets and houses.

You are a Nigerian singing about an Igbo girl, talking about her mother. Feature an old South African woman smiling or attempting to dance. No one will notice. It will be shot on beautiful 35mm celluloid with all the best effects money can buy. It doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to be beautiful.

Because there has to be some sensuous dance in your video it will be important to get a lot of girls for your video. When auditioning, don’t look at faces. Nobody wants to see the faces of women. Breasts have to be more than sufficient and yes she has to be bootylicious. Whatever the word means. Early in the video make sure you show the body of a woman. Plenty cleavage please. Preferably let her dance with her behind. Men must cover as much of their body as possible. They must wear fez caps, long sleeved jackets on top of t-shirts , dark shades, you know, that kind of thing. Women, must cover as little of their bodies as possible. Learn from black American Hip hop. Watch the music channels on DSTV and you will see what I mean.

Now even though this is a Nigerian video, to show that you have truly arrived, you need to have that odd white girl making a fool of herself in the club or on the dance floor in addition to the many black girls with excessive, oily makeup. More than one white girl is great. If you can’t find a white girl get a pretty mixed race girl with long hair. You can find a lot of them in Port Harcourt. Show flashing clips of the mixed race girl. We will think she is white. Worst case scenario, get a really light skinned girl and let her wear a really long greasy weave or wig. Let her wear green or blue contact lenses. We will think she is mixed race.

I like it so far. Then, the pool scene. Every party is done near a pool with naked girls. If you can’t get a pool, use a Jacuzzi or a big bath tub with people drinking and smoking Cuban cigars. And please nobody drinks beer in Nigeria. Everyone drinks wine and champagne. Ehen, the flashy sports car! Never forget the flashy sports car. What of a Hummer? No, the days of Hummers are past. Kennis Music already spoilt that for all of us with that Yellow one. Remember it? You don’t know where to get a cool flashy ride? They can add that in Post production using the computers. It’s pretty easy. You will be shocked at the results when you see yourself singing beside or inside a car you have never touched in your life. And you will silently say a prayer for the white man who invented computers. That prayer is in order.

Don’t worry about your video winning awards. Many of these things are done by voting anyway and you don’t have to have the best video. We have a huge population with texting power (save money for recharge cards for the purpose) and it is only a matter of time until your first shiny ‘African’ award. All I ask is that you acknowledge me when you receive the award. Elnathan, not Nathan. That is all.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Being in the Olympics is a thing of joy. After all, countries like Madagascar and the Vatican City did not even make it there. So, we thank God. We thank God even though we participated in just eight of the 26 sports.

This is how to participate in a great event like the Olympics.

There really is no need to do all the long term, back-breaking work that countries like the US and China do. Especially China. Those mean guys get their athletes and start drilling them from the time they are two-years-old until they become Olympic-medal-winning machines. That is evil and unfair to children who should enjoy their childhood. Our Child Rights Act forbids that kind of thing. God will look into the matter of the Chinese. We must never be like them. Or like the Americans who have sport programmes in schools across their country -- students are supposed to be reading and doing serious things. It is important to preserve our Universities and secondary schools as places of learning, and not encourage young people to excel in sports. We do not need to spend any money on sports.

As we have shown by example, the best time to start preparations for the Olympics is a few months before it begins. Find a good number of the team from athletes and professional sportsmen and women outside the country who have Nigerian names or at least one Nigerian parent. They need to come to the rescue of their nation. We know they will come. Yes, some will betray us and play for countries like Great Britain, USA, France, even the tiny Island of Fiji (God will judge those ones and truncate their hustle), but the majority will come. With all the financial, social and political crises in our country, we do not have the luxury of spending years developing local talent. Find Nigerian professionals wherever they are. In a cool game like basketball for example, why send a local basketball player from Ogbomosho (who will need to have his English translated on international television) when there are all those Nigerian-Americans with nice accents that we can use? Why?
For those who are already too old, especially for the football team, reduce their ages by half. By the next Olympics, the footballer who was 23 this year will already be too old to even kick a ball, but that is not what matters. What matters is that we find a team today for this Olympics.

As you quickly put a team together for the Olympics, you must, as Sports Minister, publicly express confidence that members of Team Nigeria will win medals. Call our hurried preparations impressive. Because it IS impressive. If anyone questions your miracle of rigging an Olympic team in such a short time, God will look into their matter and judge them appropriately.

Delay the release of funds allocated for the team. Make sure they get the money as late as possible because they really do not need the money to prepare. We all know how money spoils things in Nigeria.

As you prepare to travel, do the most important thing: urge Nigerians to pray for the success of Team Nigeria. Because, among 167 million praying Nigerians, there must be at least one righteous person whose prayers will soften the heart of the Nigerian god and make us win medals.

When you realise that no one is winning medals, quickly declare that your best achievement has been that, unlike in the past, nobody is quarrelling and nobody is fighting with anybody. Nigerians all deserve medals because the Sports Ministry is not fighting with the Nigerian Sports Commission or the Nigerian Olympic Committee. For this, we must give God all the glory.

As a member of Team Nigeria, you must not let anything stop you from having fun in London. Not even sadness due to your woeful performance. Indiscipline might sound like a bad word but, trust me, in Nigeria it has its uses. In this context, I can identify at least two uses. First, it enables you to do things like skip camp and go shopping and sightseeing -- who knows when next you will return to London? Second, it gives the Minister a perfect excuse for a terrible outing -- he can blame everything on your indiscipline. Indiscipline makes everybody happy. But please, whatever you do, don’t get lost in London like those Cameroonians. It is so clich├ęd, and the Nigerian god really finds it irritating that after blessing your sweat-free hustle with juicy estacodes you would go hide like a rat in a crowded city like London. For tips on how to get to London through other less-objectionable means like applying for asylum, see my article, How To Get Asylum.

Most important of all, learn nothing from the experience when you return. It is too early to start planning for the next Olympics, plus you will be really exhausted from all the shopping and distributing things your Nigerian friends gave you money to buy for them from London. You need rest. If anyone insults you for a shameful outing in London, God will handle their matter.

We wish you a safe return. May you be cured of any injuries you may have sustained at the Olympics, or those you will sustain while unpacking. And may God bless your hustle.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


So, I got a tweet from a friend, Chioma Chuka, New Media specialist, content producer, blogger and owner of the © Fairy GodSister and The Chronicles of The Fairy GodSister, saying she wanted an interview. She had interviewed me more than a year before after the post election crises in the North of Nigeria in April 2011. You can read it here.
You can find the second interview here.

Reading both interviews now, I realise why I like them so much. Chioma. No one makes me talk like she does. The question find the answers in my head. The kind of answers that doesn't make it embarrasing to re-read one's thoughts. It must be a gift. 


Nigeria is a great country with great hustling people. With every hustle comes challenges that must be surmounted. We have perfected the art of keeping our decaying house erect, albeit with the occasional smoke and stench coming out the windows. We are problem solvers. This article is a general guide for new Nigerians, foreigners who have just moved in to Nigeria, Nigerians who have just moved back from foreign lands, and idealistic Nigerians who live abroad.

Ask God for help. Now, it doesn’t matter if you are religious or if you have one of those new religions not recognised by our law. We have one general god -- the Nigerian god -- to whom all solutions are outsourced. Ask for his help in choosing leaders; in changing leaders; in wanting PHCN to provide electricity for that match because your generator is bad; in wanting fuel tanker drivers not to go on strike; in wanting roads; in wanting bombs to stop; in wanting corruption to stop; and in wanting to keep our country one. This is the first necessary, sometimes most important, step.

Create a committee. Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government are of no use in solving problems. Once a specific problem has been identified -- for example, the presence of too many people selling boiled maize and groundnuts on the streets -- create a specific committee to tackle this issue. In the case of this example, the committee would have two sub committees, one for boiled maize, and the other for boiled groundnuts. Then when that committee is done, create a committee to implement the report of the first committee.

Create multiple solutions. So, if as a government official you have a problem with your public image, in spite of having a department of Media and Publicity, create a new department to handle the problem. Call it Public Image Affairs department or something like that. The more agencies attack a problem, the better. Never try to fix the inefficiency of an agency of public institution. Always create a new body. So, if the crime division of the Nigerian Police Force is inefficient, understaffed, underfunded, unskilled, and corrupt, do not fund, train or discipline them. Create a fresh body, like the ICPC or EFCC. There is nothing like fresh ideas in trying to solve a problem.

When you have a big problem like terrorism, especially when our dear President confirms that some of the terrorists are in the Police, you must look for solutions outside our diligent Police Force. Think of something smart. Like one brand new Police Force for each financially dependent state. No, we will not scrap the Federal one. They will exist side by side. Think of how many people’s hustles will be blessed when you embark on this project. New uniforms, new jobs, new cars with sirens, new guns. A new militia for every governor blessed with constitutional immunity. I mean, governors won’t need to have side armies and gangs funded in the dark anymore. Think of it this way; when indigenes fill up the new State Police, terrorism, bombing, corruption, and kidnapping will vanish. Don’t ask what will happen when indigenes and non-indigenes fight and the State Police is called to keep the peace. God will not let that happen. Never mind that there are wicked people who will come up with arguments like states already having problems paying civil servants, and governors already having state legislators in their pockets. In fact, I overheard some evil guy suggest that some governors might fill up their state police with people from their tribe or religion, thereby creating complications and mistrust in cases of communal, religious or ethnic clashes. God will judge that guy. He doesn’t understand that to solve the problem of an inefficient Police Force, you need 36 others. He doesn’t understand the power of numbers.

When a problem won’t go away or is too big, divert it or postpone it. This reduces the pressure of the problem. So, for example, if you have a problem of poverty, which results in slums and shanty towns, instead of wasting time and energy on things like resettlement, development, low-cost housing or creating jobs, do something effective, like demolition. Clear out the slums and let the poor people who want to give our country a bad name find somewhere else to call a slum. Demolition is also very effective if your predecessors in government have turned a blind eye and allowed people to build in unapproved areas. Demolition covers a multitude of sins.

When there are problems and you are in government, you must never allow anything to stop you from travelling out of the country. Travelling is very important because it gives you time to breathe, shop, and learn from other countries.

But if you really want to solve problems effectively in Nigeria, you have to outsource them. There are things that the Nigerian god prefers not to handle. Not that he cannot handle them, but you see, he is clean and doesn’t like to dance in murky waters. For example, if you need to convict or arrest powerful people who have brazenly committed crimes, outsource it to a nice foreign country. I mean, the British used us as a colony to get resources, why can’t we use them to get justice? Tit for tat. Anyone who doesn’t like it should go choke on cassava bread. All good people know that justice for Nigerians is Nigerian justice, whether made in London or Johannesburg.

God bless your hustle and make it problem-free.