North, Nots or Not: Part II

•December 15, 2008 • 2 Comments

So there I was, at the airport stranded and not having a clue what to do because idiot boy here doesn’t even have a map, doesn’t even know where to look on the map even if I had one. I looked lost, confused and very annoyed. So some bloke comes to me and asks where am going.

‘Where you de go?’ I tell him

Am going to Yola and the flights are full. He pulls me aside and asks me to give him 35,000 naira and extra 5000 naira and I go fly well well. This was a great moment for me, I was happy, overjoyed that I shall get to fulfill my Northern duties, my adventure to be in more than just Lagos. But logic caught up with my elation and doubt kicked in. ‘Oga, how you go get am flight that be fully book o?’ I asked. He paused, a 5 second pause is often a sign of unsurety and his broke eye contact, so I knew I had him. I rushed to one of the men who had ID tags round their necks and asked if the man was credible. I am too smart to be conned, I am. I have intuition, I sense these things. How gullible do they think I am, to promise me a seat of a fully booked flight? You want to take my money, run off and leave me looking a right idiot standing there when all others are boarding eh? Don’t you know am Kenyan!

Apparently, the guy works at the ticket office, and for 5000 naira some poor bastard was going to lose his seat so I could get on board. This is what they do to those who check in late, your booking mysteriously cancels itself. I was not agreeable to it, so I chose to fly to Abuja and bus it to Bauchi then Yola.

Nigeria is funny like that; I shall not refer to it as corruption, but a self serving myopic outlook. If you have money you can do anything to anyone and get away with it- so long as they also don’t have money. So people are always gauging you to see if they can muck around with you. You are compartmentalized based on the car you drive, clothes you wear, level of arrogance and disdain to others you possess. Like the other day, we were all in a Nigerian friend’s car, who is from a very well-to-do family in Lagos. She disobeyed an order to stop (there are no traffic lights in Lagos) so the police stopped us and from what I hear about Lagos police, you don’t mess with these people. But not her, she begun to abuse them, calling them stupid and useless, at this point I knew we were going to be shot. But to my astonishment the police profusely apologized and let us go. She then laughed and said ‘You have to put these people in their place, when you have money no one can touch you.’ Nigeria is very much like Kenya was under Moi, sad.

Back at the airport I manage to secure a flight to Abuja, it was my only option and I had heard several good things about Abuja so I wanted to discover the atmosphere myself, the only downside was that the flight was at 2:30pm, looking at my watch it’s 11am.

Why am I here?


North, Nots or Not: Follow The Compass

•December 12, 2008 • 2 Comments

So, I got bored of Lagos and wanderlust invaded my stagnant life here, and when an opportunity to travel out of Lagos peeped from yonder, I grabbed it well well.  Where was I going?  The Northern section of Nigeria, or as pronounced here the ‘Nots’ or ‘Not’.

As anyone in Lagos, who is not from the North, about the North and you shall get all kinds of stories.

“Those guys are not civilized! They eat rats, sniff glue and smoke cow dung!”  

Ati smoke what?

“They collect cow dung, place it under a fire and inhale the smoke.”

Talk about some hot shit, abeg abeg!

“They don’t speak English, only Hausa.  Eddie, they are backward people- how shall you cope with them.  You go suffer my brother!”

It’s at this point a ka familiar voice, one that only you hear and emanates often when you realize that a huge blunder has taken place begins to whisper “Eddie you dickhead, what have you done.”

It’s not like I can go up to the head of the department and say “Oga, I change my mind, maybe the North is not such a good idea.”  I mean, where is the sense of adventure, the sense of fun, the sense of..what is that you are giving me boss, an air ticket?  Oh crap.

I am to visit 6 Northern states in a week.  A week with dung smoking, glue sniffing, Hausa speaking, rat eating people: a people am often confused for.

It has been a tough life for me, I have been branded with several nationalities for years now.  I have been labelled a Somali, an Ethiopian, an Egyptian, Zanzibari, Pempa, Taita and now in Nigeria, Fuleni. 

So I leave early Sunday morning to take my 2 hour flight to Jos to begin my Northern adventure on Monday, only to get there to the news that all flights to Jos are cancelled due to the chaos there. 

“Dickhead, dickhead, dickhead!”  Am singing to myself, increasing after each ‘head’.  I should trun back now, this is the perfect excuse, a cancelled flight.  This is a sign.  This is it, extrication from this huge mess.  I don’t want to be in a village setting.  I like civilization.  I embrace modern technology.  I don’t want to be served rat peppe soup or rat suya.  Turn back, go back to the hotel and blame it on Jos. 

“Leave now dickhead, now, now”… But the need to endure all obstacles, the need to self actualize, the need to…okay, the need not to get fired drives me on.

There are 2 things you don’t do in Nigeria: Don’t let a stranger count your money and please do not give money to any fast talking oga.

Now that flights were cancelled, there was a scramble to secure bookings to other destinations.  The domestic airport is very small and was very crowded.  Imagine 400 people trying to get served at the Sarit food court and we are together.  This chaos and confusion becomes the right atmosphere for conmen to proliferate their GDP.

I walk straight to the counter and sadly informed that all flight to Yola, my next destination after Jos are full.

It’s at this point I wish I had some cow dung and a lighter with me.


A Guide To Naija Men

•November 24, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Water hyacinth is a very malignant weed.  It has tormented fishermen in Lake Victoria and  is slowly maturing on the Lagos waterway.  It thrives in these environments because, as most suspect, it was plucked from its original environment where it was an innocuous member of the ecosystem.  Scientists reckon that without competition, a balance of nature, any harmless organism invariably turns harmful.  And that is the case with Naija men abroad.


Nigerian men are very nice; very polite, respect women, sincere, caring, well dressed, genuinely concerned about others and very kind…but only when in Naija.  I was amazed at the huge difference in demeanor when I came to Lagos.


It’s very rare I consort with men, my facebook can testify to that (I only have female friends), but I find myself slowly comfortable befriending Nigerian men. 

Now before some smart ass goes thinking am gay, sorry am not.  I just wish to guide our Kenyan ladies on the truths, myths and facts about Naija men.


Nigerian men are all about the money.  Unlike Kenyans who like to fight or smack their women around to show they are ‘the one’, Naija boys believe that cash and confidence is what distinguished you from another.


It’s very rare to see fights in Lagos.  The men will shout and shout but not a single fist will be thrown.


What you shall see is a battle of ostentation: big cars, expensive jewelry, designer suits and shoes, and expensive bottles of the finest cognac purchased like soda.


‘Being a chairman is what every man wants.  Flash your money, buy expensive drinks in the club and you shall get respect.’   


So why then, I ask, do they behave so different when in our country?  Why do Nigerian students fight at USIU or at clubs? 


‘You see in Naija there are very many rich people.’


By rich, they mean very rich!  Abeg, a rich person in Lagos has a personal helicopter, about 5 luxury cars, a yatch and a 10 bedroom mansion.  Wwhen you hear someone is rich in Naija, you know they mean rich. Oil has brought so much wealth to this country and certain individuals who own oil fields earn $10 million a day I was told.  Ngaiiii


‘You see in Naija there are many rich people so not everyone can compete, so they run off to other countries so to be big there.’


But back at home, they are very well behaved.


Nigeria has 3 dominant tribes: Ibo, Yoruba and Hausa.


Ibo girls, for the male readers, are very materialistic.  They love money.  Love is not a priority for these ladies.  They are very educated, exposed and very ambitious.  Apprentice Africa Blessing and Michelle are Ibo.


The men have very good business acumen, well educated and very wealthy.  However, they are extremely arrogant, outrageously possessive and often violent.  They are also very stingy with their money.


‘They would rather buy for you something than give you the money to buy it.’


As for fidelity, ‘An Ibo man will marry one wife, but shall never bring his mistress home.’


Lagos is known as the commercial city of excellence, it’s the capital city of business in Nigeria (the former capital city) and there is plenty money circulating here.  In as much as Lagos is on Yoruba territory , Ibos dominate the financial realm of Lagos.


‘Ibos are everywhere, and hold top jobs.  Throw a stone in Lagos and it shall land on an Ibo.  If you tell an Ibo man that a plot is going for 5 million Naira, he will pay you 10 million, just to show he has money.’


The Yoruba girls believe in love.  They don’t chase money, but are lead love.  They are not often well educated or exposed to other cultures as they tend to be very cultural.


‘Yoruba girls believe in love, that I why they keep falling for any man that gives them attention and have babies with different men.  This child is with that man, that child belongs to another man, the third child to the current husband and when she sees another man she shall move to him.’  


As you can guess, an Ibo was giving me this information, the two tribes don’t get along very well.


As for the Yoruba man, they tend to be very smooth, well dressed, charming, very polite and are true pacifists.  Apprentice Africa Tunde is Youruba.


‘A Yoruba man will spoil a lady, give her what she want, but he will be doing so to 3 other women at the same.  Yoruba men often have 3 wives, and the women don’t mind because they also cheat on their husbands.’


Yoruba men tend to avoid any form of conflict or aggression.  A Yoruba man will start a family at a very early age and shall do his best to provide for them.


The Hausa are just like the Arabs or Waswahili back home.


So now you know, choose wisely.



i-Report, i-Dead

•November 24, 2008 • 2 Comments

As a way to save costs and increase profits, CNN decided to reduce the number of field journalists.  They cleverly and ostensibly developed a segment to cover the absent stories, i-Report.  Unlike the journalists who have a magnanimous insurance cover and hefty hardship allowances as they report in dangerous countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, the amateur reporters are only covered by the grace of God.  So when a twit filming an armed robbery, with his mobile phone, is shot dead you ask yourself what the *&^% was he thinking?

On Friday, Anthony and I went for lunch and received a call from our MD’s assistant, ‘The streets are hot, the streets are hot.’  Of course Anthony didn’t understand and formulated his own understanding of the message, so we proceeded to see Apprentice Africa contestant Michelle who we has a long chat with.  This act may have just saved our lives.

Getting back to the office we meet an ominous mood and a much panicked assistant. 

‘There was gunshots…armed robbers were here…I took cover under that table, locked the door, switched off the lights and run back under the table.  I was calling you to tell you not to come back because the streets were hot.’

There had been a bank robbery at 2 banks across our office, the robbers didn’t enter our building but his fear as he described how he heard bullets and his reaction to the situation was as if they were in the corridor.

‘Ooooh, so that is what you meant by the streets are hot.  The next time it happens, use proper English!’  Anthony told him.

Bank robberies are a frequent affair in Lagos.  I was informed that Lagos banks paid a total of $5 million to the police as they were losing more per year.  One would think that the crazy Lagos traffic, crowded streets, well armed police or the banks internal security measures would deter armed robbers from their trade, but not in Lagos.  The robbers use very sophisticated weapons and shoot to kill anyone who stands in their way or is visible during the robbery.

‘They shoot you.  Even if you are just walking in the street, they kill you.  These robbers are bad people.  When you hear gunshots you run and hide!’  He said in a very strong Naija accent.

As the afternoon went on we got to learn that there had been 4 robberies and 5 unnecessary deaths.  They had hit one of our branches and an i-Reporter wannabe was killed. 

A call was made that a man’s paper bag containing a bundle of money had been snatched by a man on an okada (motorbike taxi) minutes after the UBA robbery near our office.  The police, wanting to show how effective they are rushed to the bank and begun to open fire.  What they were shooting at, only they know as the man responsible had long disappeared.  One of the officers however spotted a man recording the action using his mobile phone and opened fire, killing him instantly.  His premise; he must have been one of the robbers, the reason he was filming the whole thing. 


 In Nigeria, the police and military personnel have full control.  They drive on the wrong side of the road, harass citizens with impunity and can go so far as make false allegations against you.  Once heard that they arrest you on streets, send you to jail and replace you with a murderer or armed robber who has paid them off.  They have been known to kill anyone who questions them or challenges their actions.  People here live in fear of the police but not armed robbers.   

December is a notorious month for robbery; we even got notification from the Kenyan High Commission to be vigilant and comply if attacked.  But when you hear the modus operandi of Naija robbers, especially bank robbers you get very scared.

‘What are you talking about, in Oweri state they wrote a note to the UBA branch manager and told him we are coming on Tuesday, make sure there is plenty of money and no police, otherwise you go die!’  Unfortunately the manager didn’t follow any of the instructions.  He informed the police and they placed 5 officers at the bank. 

’40 people walked in with guns and shot all 6 police officers, the manger and some staff members.’

Why, why, why would you kill staff?  Why not just take the money and leave I asked, why kill?

‘Eddie, these people don’t care about life, they just want money and to instill fear they kill people.  They don’t acre.  They just shoot people randomly.’

He was right; that afternoon 2 UBA staff members were killed at the branch opposite our office, because there wasn’t enough money in the vault and 3 were killed in the Lekki branch for God knows what stupid reason.

The disregard for human life by both cops and robbers in Nigeria is sad.  Unfortunately no one cares enough to do anything about it or speak out against it because as stated in the Naija’s Achilles Heel post, no one wants to die.



The Lingo

•November 21, 2008 • 2 Comments

When we first came to Lagos for the Apprentice Africa show, we were each assigned a chaperone. 

It was bloody annoying as this person had to walk, eat and even sleep in the same room as you for the duration we were in the hotel..this was to stop us relating with one another before the show. Apparently isolating us until we moved to the mansion was meant to spark off competitive levels.

But the twits put us all in the same hotel, had us eating breakfast at the same restaurant and made it so obvious to deduce who a competitor was: simply spot those walking in pairs. 


Anyway, I was assigned one of the most annoying chaperon.  I tried to have him replaced 15 times of the the 7 days we stayed together.  The rules stated that if you separate from your chaperone you shall be eliminated, so I had to stick with that bloke whether I liked it or not and pray for the competition to start. 

During our cordial stay, psssssst, I learnt that the Nigerian lingo is indeed a fascinating one.


The phone would ring, with the loudest most irritating ringtone and he would always ask the person where they are.


Titititi titiii titititititi tititititiiiiiiii…’How far?….’  The conversation always begun.



At night, Titititi titiii titititititi tititititiiiiiiii…’How far?…’


This went on and I kept wondering why he was constantly asking the location of the caller.  It’s like back home when you call someone and the first thing they ask you is ‘Where are you?’  Does it matter where I am, listen to what I have to bloody say.


On one occasion, we were expecting a friend of his, to break the monotony of silence we shared around each other, and they were late.  So the apparent friend called, and the usual ‘Titititi titiii titititititi tititititiiiiiiii…’How far?…’


After he put down the phone I asked him in a most irritated manner ‘Why do you keep asking how far he is?   Ask him what time he is getting here!’


Mhhh, wasn’t I surprised…apparently how far is a salutation, only its ‘howfar’… 


So the man was greeting his callers all that time, abeg abeg.


The other day as I am walking to the office the security guard salutes and says ‘Well done sir!’


The first logical thing is to recall any magnificent thing you recently achieved, so I say ‘Thank you’ and add a spring to my step.


Walking into the lift a colleague looks at me and says ‘Well done.’


It must be a promotion abi. 

By the time am walking into my office my chest is raised 4 inches high and am walking like Neil Armstrong on his first voyage as echoes of ‘Well done’ are bouncing off the walls. 

It must be a promotion.


So I sit at my desk and ask a colleague, ‘Why is everybody telling me well done, what did I do?’


Yep, you guessed it…it’s a bloody greeting!


How does ‘well done’ equate to ‘hi’, ‘what’s up’..okay the latter paves way to salutation license so let me just leave it there.


Anyway, these days I seek connotations in every word that is uttered.  A hot lady I met in a club walked over to me the other night  and said ‘Oga, take me home now’, I looked at her and replied ‘And a nice evening to you too and walked away!’


Am settling into the whole lingo thing rather well I must say.