Sunday, March 31, 2013


*Because I Care series #7

This week has been relatively quiet on the home front. No shockers or mind boggling decisions taken with a straight face. No wicked people abusing our president. No gaffes or sex scandals. We praise god for this. It has given me the time to think of and concretize my foreign policy.

I will move from the known to the unknown. In my inaugural manifesto article, I said I would invade Switzerland. Those plans have not changed. Except that, now that my dear Swiss friend has told me (while gifting me an original Swiss army knife) that the average Swiss citizen has military training and bears arms, I will need to plan better. When I received news of Cyprus almost collapsing and all the trouble with their banks, I thought I would have to shelve plans of invading Switzerland, imagining, (like Obasanjo said of Sharia) it will die a natural (economic) death. But another friend suggested I was wrong. ‘There is still too much Nigerian money in Switzerland for their banks to collapse,’ she said. And this is what does my head in: Nigerian money keeping Switzerland afloat but I need to bleed through multiple orifices to get into Switzerland. That’s just not fair. 

The Chinese. I have big plans for those hardworking guys. They have moved here and they keep moving. They have given us everything from huge shiny phones with television, radio and really loud speakers to locomotive trains which take 30 hours to get to Lagos from Kano. I am glad this government has let the Chinese in. Some might suggest that this means more jobs for Chinese people in Nigeria but who cares. My trade with the Chinese, however, will be more robust. I plan to sell our biggest industry to the Chinese. The Chinese know manufacturing and Olympics and communism and ping pong and piracy but they do not know god. I will sell them god. Now you must be patient with me here.  Selling god to the Chinese may earn me protests but I am doing it for the good of the country. Think of the decongestion of church signboards at junctions and the end of megaphones and loudspeakers and hypocrisy. Think of how much power we would save, how many million generators we wouldn’t need. Think of Chinese televangelists- that would add colour to the world! Think of Chinese miracle-healing and crusades. Think, if we sold the Nigerian god to 1.3 billion Chinese people and add the copyright of phrases like, God willing, It is well, Na God and God dey. I could end poverty in the world with that kind of money and still have enough for private jets. I am teary-eyed just thinking of the possibilities. 

After looking at the list of approved haircuts by the North Korean government I can’t help but think of how useful such a list would have been in Nigeria when I see people like Denrele or Charlie Boy. Whatever happened to normal haircuts? I will bring in the North Koreans as consultants. I need to learn how to impose haircuts on a whole country of people. My list will not leave out naturally balding people. I care about them too. (Ps. I don’t mean to disparage the musician, but sometimes when I see Nneka's frazzled hair, I feel traumatized; an inordinate fear that some of her hair is going to fly into my eyes, grips me. I am not sure if the Americans have invented this illness yet.)

This weekend a friend drove me through a vulgar looking maximum-security-prison-style fortress in Abuja. When I asked, I was told it was the Brazilian Embassy. First I was offended. Only the Americans are allowed to be that vulgar. Then I made a mental note to send the Brazilians away as soon as I get sworn in as President. But then I thought of how much trade we do in hair from Brazil and how much sadness I would cause in the process. Because I care, instead of banning all things Brazilian, I will insist on two things: first, they move their embassy to a more friendly building and second that they start harvesting, and packaging Brazilian weaves here in Nigeria. With our massive consumption of Brazilian products we have earned those rights.

Mugabe. The one thing that really excites me about the man apart from his taut, shiny face, is his hair. As president I will partner with him to find a cure for baldness. You see, I am balding and I am not even 40 yet. Mugabe at almost 90 shows no signs of losing hair. He can barely walk but the strands of hair on his head just won’t go anywhere. I don’t know what he drinks or eats or smokes. But by god, I will find out. 

America. These guys I am not ashamed to beg. It takes wisdom to know which fights you can fight and which ones are pure foolishness. Chavez tried and was fairly successful. I know. But the Hausa say, wani ya yi rawa ya samu tafi, wani ya yi rawa ya samu mari meaning, while one person may dance and get applause, another may dance and receive a slap. I will not tempt fate. I will keep contributing our oil to the War on Terror. All I ask in response is, no US marines, killer drones or McDonalds in my country. I don’t think that is too much to ask. 

The Brits. I won’t worry about these guys. I'll just wait for India, Pakistan, the Yoruba and the Caribbean to take over that country. Then we'll talk.

Ps. I just want to say that I think the two coolest Heads of State are the beautiful Argentinean President (I refuse to believe she has had any work done on her face. I hope she is still in power when I am elected) and the Iranian President. What I like about Ahmadinejad is his halfway-between-rough-and-sexy, partially grey beard. And that he is not afraid to touch women outside Iran.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I run away because I am afraid. This is what you would tell her if you had the guts to call her at 1 in the morning as you cry and drag on the stale St. Moritz cigarette you found in your wardrobe. You are not afraid of making her safe like you swore you would, not afraid of loving her, not afraid of the sacrifices she agreed to make. You are afraid, it just might work

The bag is still in your kitchen where she left it, where she stuffed the remaining parts of you that were in her life. The swimming trunks you brought to go swimming with but left in her room that last weekend, your scrapbook, your red t-shirt that shrinks every time you wash it, the blue cigarette lighter that has a torch by the side, two condoms, the extra keys to your house and her deep blue bed sheet which she wanted to let you have because it fit your bed perfectly. Fuck. That last one is what made you first break down and cry. The bed sheet. Her bed sheet. Your hands are trembling as you rummage through the bag half hoping she left you a note. Something. Something to say: I know you are just being the ass that you are. Stop fooling around and come home. 

She didn’t need to say anything. The bed sheet speaks loudly, haunts you. It reminds you of how she packs your bag very neatly every time you need to travel. Of her sweet incoherent sounds when she wakes up, disoriented. Of how she calls you baby. You grab the bed sheet, hold it to your face, your hands trembling, and cry. But your tears mean nothing, will mean nothing even if she had run into you when she was dropping the bag. It will mean nothing because no one can be expected to handle so much pain and keep running back. 

You had told her to bin your things so you wouldn't have to see her to exchange personal effects. This is what you do when you run- you are too much of a coward to even say goodbyes. She said she would. But she brought it all. Every last item of yours in her house. You knew when you saw the bag, this was no fucking joke. You'd gone mad again.

Maybe you should have known you would do this- keep pushing her away- when she would complain in the morning that you kicked her away in your sleep. When subconsciously you turned away from her, most nights when you slept. When you ran away from her that first time. Because this is you: you are addicted to running. 

You run because you are making up for lost time. For all the years you tried to run but couldn’t move because common sense wouldn’t let you run away from home and get stranded on the streets. Maybe you should’ve run then and get it out of your system; maybe you would have got all the scars that come from running unprepared and then become sensible and stop running especially when it matters the most. You do not know. You cannot know if packing a bag to flee the trauma at home would have made you stay, now that it matters.

The stale cigarette burns out quickly because of the fan blowing directly at you. It makes you nauseous, the damn thing, and now you want real cigarettes- Dunhill Switch- the only cigarette you can stand smoking. But you have quit and have none. And it is 2 o’clock in the morning. Fuck! A cockroach crawls slowly, almost tauntingly, toward the bathroom door. You pick up your brown shoes and aim for it. You miss it the first, second and third time. The fourth time, you stop, bend close to it in the corner of the room where it has run to and strike. It falls flat on its back. Dead. She bought you those shoes. It kills you, to see her hands bring out the shoes from the bag when she came back from holidays. It kills you to hear her voice ask if you like it. It fucking kills you.

The electricity goes off and suddenly the whole room is stuffy with stale tobacco smoke. You think, shit! You feel tears welling up in your eyes. Suddenly you feel like a fraud- how the hell do you think she feels, she who had to hear the words from you, who had to feel you push her again, and again. One tear drops and you wipe it angrily. You do not deserve to have the relief that crying brings. 

She hates the heat. You remember waking up, finding her pacing about the room. When you were sure it wasn’t an emergency, you ignored her and went back to sleep. In the morning and every week after that, you made fun of her. You hands begin to tremble and you pick up a nail cutter from the manicure set on the table and start filing your nails. You stop when images of her fingers and feet and the last time you helped her apply nail polish flood your mind. 

The rain starts to fall. You feel trapped. You can’t run now, even if you wanted to be crazy and walk out at this time of the night. You are stuck here and everything reminds you what a complete asshole you are. She agreed the day you begged her, never to let you run again, the day after the first time you tried to run. She said she would, but added calmly that she would not keep holding on if you pushed her away. You wish for once she was stubborn and grabbed you by the shirt and made you sit until your spell of madness passed. Until you came to your senses and swore that you didn’t mean to- run from the one thing that came made for you. But no one should have to run after another person so much, you know this, in spite of all your madness. 

You cannot remember now, why you freaked out and broke all your promises to her, even when she said she forgave your indiscretions, even when it was you who should have been chasing, begging, asking for forgiveness. Perhaps you realized it was real, and this was it, when she forgave you and said she  loved you unconditionally.

Your chest hurts. You wish you could explain it: I run away because I am afraid. You are afraid to think it is possible. That you deserve it. That anyone can love you, unconditionally.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


*Because I Care 06

Let me start by being honest about the title. I was so excited that I had coined this cool phrase, but like I do with all things I create, I go to the internet to see if someone else has thought of something similar. To my consternation, I found the phrase “Mass Distraction” as the title of two essays, the name of a band, a movie title and millions of references. But plagiarism isn’t plagiarism if you already formed the phrase in your head before Googling it. (Now I hate Google).

There must be an effective Mass Distraction Committee in this government. I do not believe in coincidences. That’s why I do not believe in evolution. A house cannot spring up in a forest without someone putting it there. The type of distractions we have are too calculated and effective to be coincidences. The problem is I am not sure who to thank for this. For example we spent the last week forwarding ‘Oga at the top’ videos and songs, totally forgetting that an international fugitive and a guy who anally raped young boys were legally converted into saints by our president. This is a great thing. Instead of dwelling on negative things like the fact that Alams may have his stolen billions returned to him now that he has been absolved, we rightly dwell on the funny video. I am grateful to Mr. Shem for facilitating this important distraction. 

I mean, think of it. If we all had to dwell on things like the Kano bomb blast, the Maiduguri killings, the Oron boat mishap, the nationwide darkness, the lack of hospitals and a President who doesn’t wear smart clothes, we would fill up our already crowded psychiatric hospitals. God forbid that we become a nation of mad people. 

Achebe died this weekend. As various government officials declare that they join the world in mourning him, some do not forget to call him their son. Some will call him many things from African giant to a man who always stood up for the Igbo tribe. They will fix a pot-holed street and name it after him. They will ask for a public holiday. Because Nigerians must be allowed to mourn, unimpeded by the distracting pressures of work. They must spend their day in sackcloth and ashes chanting the name of this dead hero. These are important distractions. Otherwise, Nigerians would have focused on the tragedy of our most popular writer and intellectual having to live in the United States mostly because of health reasons. It would be unfair to taint the image of a global literary hero with petty talk of a country that does not have in any of its 774 local governments, one hospital that can properly treat an accident victim without fear of complications. God forbid. So, we celebrate Achebe and thank him for firmly fixing Africa on the map of world literature. We celebrate the London agent that found his UK publishers of 'Things Fall Apart' for making him globally popular. We thank the UK and US publishers who have not stopped giving African writers the opportunity to be popular. We also celebrate the countries we have outsourced our healthcare to: Germany, India, the UK, America, Saudi Arabia. Without them our important people would live short painful lives. Imagine if there were no cool German, or American hospitals for our rich people and politicians to go to. God forbid that an important Nigerian die in a Nigerian hospital. 

I am happy though that the most important of ceremonies is still done in Nigeria. Our important people may die in nice American hospitals but it is Nigerian earth that will receive them, soaked by generous Nigerian tears. I know Achebe’s funeral will be covered live and sponsored by his state government with probably more money than is required to upgrade a hospital in that state. But it will not matter. Even the good book says that the day of a man’s death is more important than the day of his birth. So the convoys and ceremonies will be in order. It is my firm opinion that Achebe will rest well and in peace. 

I must make a comment about Farouk Lawan’s removal as House Committee on Education Chair. Nigerians are bullies. Look at how they treat small-sized people, Lawan, el-Rufai etc. This is one thing my government will not tolerate- discrimination based on size. Because I believe that all men are born free and equal and shall not be discriminated against on the basis of size, corruption or the size of one’s cap.

Ps. I spent most of last week as the guest of a University, in the home of a kind but crazy 66 year old American academic who is addicted to bullet-proof coffee, and being grumpy. I taught five classes in his department, and every night listened to him tell me animated stories about his three marriages and divorces, American reservations and clans, China (and his ex-Chinese wife), the sexual evolution of men and his plans to make it as a neo-imperialist, the horror of American (and Nigerian) healthcare, the evil Nigerian doctor who tried to make him stop wearing his cowboy boots, the secrets of being a good teacher, why I am one of the best writers he has ever met and why my European ex-girlfriend is very likely a spy. I feel wiser. In spite of what I said about white saviors a few weeks ago, if all white saviors were like Devitt, we wouldn’t need to get rid of them. Just saying.
Ps.  #2. My dear partner and I are no longer together. It was totally my fault.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


*Because I Care #05

No human is above sin. Even great humans. The great Winnie Mandela was getting warm with one small boy while Oga Madiba was breaking rocks on Robben Island. The brilliant Churchill spent too much time with the bottle. Bill Clinton was so worked up he fell into temptation and allowed pretty Ms Lewinsky relieve him of presidential stress away from Hillary’s prying eyes. Alamieyeseigha dressed like a woman (some holy books say cross dressers won’t make heaven). General Gowon doesn’t know how to say no to a serving president no matter what rascally things they are doing. And I lied about liking a piece of clothing my partner was wearing. 

As someone seeking high office I shouldn’t have lied. But I am human. My partner will read this with a scrunched up face and say, ‘How could you? Look in my face and lie to me?’ But through all the tears and disappointment, my partner will forgive me. Like South Africa and Nelson (in spite of the divorce) forgave Winnie, like history forgave Churchill, like Hillary forgave Bill and started allowing him to hug her in public, like Nigerians keep forgiving Gowon. My partner knows I am only human. 

Our current president has many flaws. He ambushed Nigerians who went to the village and increased fuel prices on January 1st last year. He is not athletic. He quarrels with elders nearly 20 years his senior like General Obasanjo. Sometimes his clothes are too big for him. Sometimes he frowns for photos. Sometimes he has froth at the sides of his mouth when speaking. But in spite of these little things, Mr Jonathan, like god, is merciful and forgiving. He must be what they call a ‘child of god’. And a child that follows after his father is a good child. This is the one area where it will be hard for me to defeat him in the eyes of the people come 2015. He looks at the hearts of convicted-of-stealing-from-the-masses remorseful sinners and turns their crimson into snow. Because he cares.

This is the one policy of Mr Jonathan I will continue when I get to power. I will posthumously forgive Lawrence Anini. Anini may be regarded by some as a diehard armed robber. I think of him as the Nigerian Robin Hood. I read that he used to share part of his loot with market women. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor. If that isn’t remorse, then I don’t know what is. I will forgive Bishop Oyedepo for a career of slapping witches- (but this will need a criminal conviction for assault so I will ask prosecutors to work on convicting him and then after his jail term, I will forgive him. Then I will suggest that it might be easier to just neutralize their power than to keep slapping. I mean how many slaps can break a witch?) I will forgive Nasir el-Rufai, former de-facto Vice President, for going behind Obasanjo’s back and opposing ‘third term’. That’s a bit like snitching. And in the book of the streets, snitches won’t make heaven.  I will forgive Abacha for dying before he was able to transform into a democrat. Me, I consider Abacha’s heart attack as remorse- he must have thought such long painful thoughts of leaving before the project was done, that his heart just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s remorse. 

There are some international figures I want to forgive too. Like the Pope that just resigned without notice. Before we could arrange a Nigerian lobby for Cardinal Arinze. Before we had a chance of making history - the first European state led by a black Nigerian man. If the Pope emeritus knew he was tired, he should have told the rest of us early enough so we would have started trying to convince the Latin Americans that Africa and Nigeria, sorely needs a Pope. Things would have been different. Think of the contrast- white robes, dark skin- perfect. But I understand. I will forgive him.

There is one thing though that I will not do. Mr. Jonathan is too humble, too decent to take the glory for his good work. I hear he has credited the Council of State with forgiving the remorseful sinners. Me, I like the fame and the glory. I will make each announcement of forgiveness personally and wait for the applause. When I do it, I will have no apology because honestly, there is nothing wrong about pardoning a sinner who is remorseful.

Ps. This week I have become very, very afraid of Nigerians. For the first time my resolve to become leader of this country was slightly shaken. Nigerians, especially the ones on social media are unforgiving when they decide to make fun of a person. I watched an interview clip of the Lagos State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp. One would expect that if Mr Obafaiye Shem made a gaffe, people would understand since, in all honesty, he was not the ‘oga at the top’. But no, Nigerians on Twitter and Facebook circulated the interview where the man did not know the website of his organization like they were circulating a cure for poverty. People even put quotes from the interview on mock t-shirts like ‘My Oga at the Top’ or ‘ww.nscdc’. I am happy this man is black. These are the kind of things that make Japanese people fly out of a 20th floor window. I am afraid of Nigerians. As we say in Hausa, if you are stooling, (not in a WC o! in the open, like off a bush path- otherwise the saying won’t make sense) and you see a Nigerian passing, sit on the stool and pretend you are just sitting. It is that bad. What gave me the courage to continue however is that Nigerians only have this resolve for public embarrassment in matters that don’t matter. Like bad English, like a premiership team that never wins trophies, like a public servant that needs his oga at the top to verify what the website of his office is. Not things like atrocious governance, corruption or outright disrespect for the Nigerian people. So I think it is still safe to run.
That’s all.