Sunday, March 13, 2016


There was a great famine that spread throughout the farm. And the animals had neither water nor sunshine. And they fought in queues over dwindling rations. And the Whitists cursed the sun and the pipes that would not supply water and the food that did not grow and the former farm manager Goodhead whose tenure a long time ago they refused to forget. But that will not be the subject of this story. What is the point of a sad story of despair and privation? 

This story is a love story. Love is not what you see in the movies. Sometimes love is neither kind nor patient; It is not selfless. Love is just love. And to understand love one must understand White, the farm manager whose speeches outside the farm forms the basis for what Whitists have now bound and codified called “A Treatise on Love”.

1.  Love is silent. 
Love does not make a lot of noise. Love does not have to act either. Love just knows when to appear and disappear, like White. Like when White began his tours of other farms and spoke to his animals mostly through foreign animals whose questions he was glad to answer. Like when the most crucial of his decisions and inner thoughts become known when he visits other farms and gets asked questions about his farm. Like when they asked him about the hardship animals were facing in making trips outside the farm and he said, “Well, they need to learn to live within their means, sit their behinds down and work for my farm.”

Even when they reminded him of his young pups that were living on other farms in relative luxury, he said, “Well, some of us can afford it. Those who want to afford it should become farm managers like me. Some people are meant to suffer in this life and some are meant to enjoy. I love destiny. I try very hard not to mess with destiny because I believe all the animal gods have plans for us animals. Some were born to suffer. Some were born to die. Some were born to be ridden. Some were born to be cuddled. I may be a perfect wolf, but I am not a god. I will advise those animals whose lot in life is never to afford what I can afford for my pups to be humble and learn patience.”

Mostly though, White is silent at home. And it is thus that we see this rule come true: love is silent. We can see it in the way White walks through the farm, arms behind his back, silent, except where a foreign animal asks him a question. Tough love. Silent love. 

Silent love even when, in the middle of the farm, hundreds of animals get hacked to death in a wolf invasion. Because one can love even the bodies of animals killed by wolves. 

2.  Love is stubborn
Some people wrongly assume that love yields. Love does not yield. Like White. White does what White wants even if it makes no economic sense, mostly because White is love and what White can see on four legs, bats cannot see with wings flying around. That is why they end up being massacred by people like Dick-Tai, White’s farm hand. (You may argue that bats are naturally blind but that is not the point. The point is that White knows stuff.)

White is love. And it is this love that makes him ignore any pleas to take actions that would help the flow of food in the farm. Like when White stubbornly pegged the exchange rate for yams at one yam to one bag of grain, making it difficult to do food exchanges in the farm because in the parallel food market, the real value was very very different. White knows however that heading a farm is a bit like an operation to take out the nail from an animal’s hooves. While the nail is being pulled out, the animal would squeal loudly. But the end justifies the means. And if there is extreme pain, in the words of White: “So be it.” 

3.  Love says what love wants
Love cannot be chained. Love will make stupid remarks but only because love is passionate and free and wild. Like White who, when he speaks, speaks first and thinks later. The important thing is the intention. White intends always to be helpful. Even when White calls animals who do not like what he has said “bigots”. Because that is what a bigot is. One who will see the holy intentions of a farm manager like White and do a radical thing like ask questions. Because questions show disloyalty especially when you are questioning a perfect creature like White who can do no wrong. And what is an animal’s life worth if that animal questions the good and perfect will of their farm manager? 

4.  When all things fail, love knows where to put the blame.
Love never takes responsibility. Because that would be admitting to failure. And White does not fail. If animals are to queue for water, White has not failed. If the exchange rate for yams is disastrous for trade, White has not failed. If a great famine sweeps through the land, then animals must ask themselves before complaining: “Did I complain when Goodhead and his cronies were in charge of the farm for over a decade? Did I complain?”

5.  Love is never stagnant
Love moves. It may be away for long, but it moves. Here today, there the next, renewing the soul, rejuvenating the spirit. Like White. White who went from farm to farm, showing nothing but love to his animals. 

In conclusion, s/he who does not worship White does not know love. Because White is love.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Three things are popular once you are in Ghana. Africa, Jesus, and dead people. 

An epiphany hit me as soon as I had spent the third day in Ghana. Perhaps it is safe to blame all those African stereotypes on Ghana, a country loved by non-African foreigners. There is Africa everywhere you go, in the holiday resorts, in the business names, in the signs, on the streets. I have never been anywhere where Africa is retailed to foreigners like it is here. Even I felt like I had finally arrived that huge country everyone talks about: Africa. 

For 50 US dollars you can stay in One Africa. Or a fraction of the cost in One Love Africa. And in One Africa you get everything, from a view of the ocean to images and histories of black people who were or at least according to management should be important to Africa. 

In One Love Africa, there are reminders of Bob Marley as ably marketed by it’s dreadlocked owner Judah, who never fails to tell his foreign guests that his wife is an obroni, a white woman. 

Africa is everywhere on the walls, painted in the colours of the Ghanaian flag. And somewhere in the middle is the black star. I blame Nigeria. Somewhere in our history, while we were busy trying to conquer the world, we lost everything: our reputation abroad, our reputation at home, and a franchise of Africa. Ghana cheated us out of Africa and now all a white person needs to do to become African is go to Ghana, get dreadlocks and take drumming lessons from someone near a beach. This could have been us. But, like our beloved president rightly pointed out recently, we were busy being criminals in Western capitals while Ghanaians were putting Africa in little packages the colour of their flag. 

Jesus is big in Ghana. And they do not do it by halves. Everywhere he is in full colour, white, blond, sad-faced and looking up to heaven. And then there are the people who retail Jesus on the large billboards, smiling, looking into the eyes and souls of Ghanaians, beckoning them to come and taste the glory and power of Jesus. None of the billboards offer any return policy on donations in the event that the glory and power does not manifest in one’s life. I think a refund policy is only fair, but then I have not spent enough time in Ghana to know if these agents of Jesus deliver on their promises. I like Jesus in Ghana. He does not mind sharing the space with Muslims whether as funded by the Lebanese or the big ones funded by Turkey. 

Occasionally you do see a Nigerian agent of Jesus expanding into Ghana sometimes dripping with hair products, offering the same power and glory only with a Nigerian flavour. I am not sure how Ghanaians react to this, but if I were a Ghanaian I would patronise made in Ghana products, especially if Nigerians are involved. 

As you leave Accra in the direction of places like Winneba or Cape Coast for example, there are old dead people in full colour by the side of the road. If the signs are anything to go by, it is mostly a celebration of life and I couldn't help thinking how long a dead person would stay on the side of the road and whether relatives change the signs when they fade due to being out in the elements. 

As a Nigerian, you learn to slow down in Ghana. You learn that, unlike in any of the Nigerian cities or capitals, traffic lights and zebra crossings are not fancy objects to decorate the road but have actual use. You learn that somewhere on the continent of Africa, not too far away, it is not illegal to kill pedestrians who step onto zebra crossings; it is not illegal to wait for other humans. You also learn not to be shocked when a Ghanaian shows little interest in doing the business they left their house to do, like a taxi driver telling you, without waiting to bargain, to try another taxi who might be cheaper or a tailor you need to quickly fix a broken button telling you they are too busy eating a snack to help and directing you to another tailor on the next street. 

You learn also that it is possible to love one’s country enough to go out on independence day and be happy even if you are not forced to do it as a civil servant or as a student in a school taking part in an independence day parade. 

I am thinking of going into this Africa business when I return home in one week. I will rent a place in  Abuja, give it a thatched roof, paint everything in green and white, draw huge maps of Africa all over, and employ a few reggae boys with dreadlocks to offer drumming and African dance classes to white women (I am still not sure if I should add a caveat banning my drummer boys from falling in love with my clients). Someone has to claim some of this Africa for Nigeria. 

Ps. And I must add, that although Ghanaians are generally more sane people than Nigerians, I am now convinced that Nigerian Jollof is infinitely superior to Ghanaian jollof. Which is why I have now resolved to spell ours with a capital J.