I wish for every reader of this blog a prosperous 2015, may all your wishes become realities, and may you be careful what you wish for. Amen!
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
I wish for every reader of this blog a prosperous 2015, may all your wishes become realities, and may you be careful what you wish for. Amen!
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
Is it the man, the senator, who has nine cars: a few Mercedes’, a few Ferraris, many more? Did he buy any of them when he last travelled officially or unofficially to the United States of America the month before last? Does he have four different chauffeurs, each with a car of specialty? Does the senator eat at least three times in a day? Does he eat things like a few salad sandwiches for breakfast, pounded yam and egusi soup with lots of meat and or fish in it for lunch, the best fried rice with the most decently fried fried chicken for supper? At the end of the night does he go to a bar? Does he order the most expensive wine, champagne? Does he order bottles of the most expensive beer? Does he eat more meat, fish? – Suya? Fish pepper soup? Beef pepper soup? Is he living the Abuja dream?
Thanks for reading this, if you read this. This writeup is an experiment, really - a series of questions that naturally answer themselves and tell a story.
Sunday, 21 December 2014
“There will come a time” I said, “when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought will be forgotten and all of this” – I gestured encompassingly – “will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that is what everyone else does.”
The above is a passage from the book I cannot shut up about – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It was the first thing Hazel-Grace (The MC) said to Augustus Waters (The other MC) (MC means Main Character.) It was at a cancer support group, and Augustus Waters was asked a question by Patrick (Patrick asks the questions.) The question, as far as I am concerned, is one of the most important questions in life: What are you fears?
Augustus Waters’ reply was that his fear was ‘Oblivion.’ To which Hazel-Grace gave him a piece of her mind which we saw in the first paragraph. Was she right? I don’t know. I don’t think so.
A whole lot of people fear oblivion, I am one of them but I do not fear oblivion as much as I fear irrelevance. I think what Augustus Waters meant by ‘Oblivion’ was dying without haven achieved anything, without leaving footprints on sand. Dying and not being missed except by one’s family and friends. It all hinges upon dying, as far as I know.
Irrelevance, however, is more or less the same thing but it does not hinge upon dying, it hinges upon living. Frankly, I don’t care what happens after I die, I don’t care if I am remembered or not. I care what happens while I live. I want to know that I have or I am touching a life, in one way or another. I fear irrelevance because irrelevance means you have wasted the time that God has given you here on earth; it means you have allowed yourself to flow like the waters in the river, uselessly. It means that at the end of the day, your whole existence was attached only to its immense pointlessness and nothing else. That the idea of your existence was only existent to you and your immediate family, nobody else was touched by your existence. We all need to fear irrelevance, to dread it even, if we do, perhaps the world will be a better place.
Hazel-Grace’s reply to Augustus was in some ways defeatist. Yes, we are all going to die, perhaps the sun will collapse eventually and its immense heat will seethe our skins and burn us all to our deaths. Maybe there will be no one left to remember Aristotle and Cleopatra, maybe all of this – gesturing encompassingly- will eventually be worth naught: all our buildings, all our writings, all our thoughts from all our beautifully designed minds. Perhaps there was time before organisms existed; perhaps there will be time after. But none of these mean that we should all fold our beautifully designed arms and wait for the sun to get bored of the sky and come to seethe us. We shouldn’t be afraid to live our lives because of the inevitability of doom. Is doom even inevitable? You want to be the judge of that?
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!
Saturday, 6 December 2014
I take walks every night for several reasons. I don't know that these are good reasons, frankly, I don't know that good reasons exist. There's just reason, there's no good or bad. One of the reasons I take these walks is that some inexplicable strangeness occur during the day and gives me a sensation of having a clogged-brain. I don't know what a clogged-brain is even, but at any rate, I feel at night time, that my head isn't in shape. I like it when my head is in shape. It enables me think. I like to think. So I take walks every night to clear my head/brain, to rid it of all the day's ridiculousness; like, emptying a dustbin at a superior, central dustbin; DUSTBIN, to more aptly put it. Anyway, walking along the streets of Abuja late at night, taking in the yellow, blinding headlights of taxis hustling to make money for their drivers, buses, bashfully shouting their way through, does a fantastic job of un-clogging the clog that becomes of my brain at night. Though I live in the less fancy part of town, there's still this brilliance that the night gives: the streetlights that stopped working eons ago, the bus conductors that beg you to enter their buses even though you are walking the opposite direction from where they are headed, the blaring horns of overly excited drivers, the loud music from the barber shop, the loud music from the CD shop, the heavily Hausa accented Hausa (It's interesting how their Hausa accents reveal itself even while they speak Hausa) from the suya seller conversing with the guy that sells air-freshners and screw-drivers and anti-mosquitoe creams and other hyphenated household materials that have nothing in common. If there's one thing I love about Abuja, it's the night life. The city simply does not sleep until you go into your apartment and lock your doors to it.
Another reason I take these walks is because I am a writer and I need to think of the world I have created or of the world I intend to create when I get back home. Like, last night for example, I got the idea for my next book, the book that would come after Dear Ella. I've had a vague idea of what the book would be about for a while, but last night, for the first time, it formed. Of course, it still isn't complete but you build a house by putting one block on another block on another block until you have these magnificent, utterly unprecedented collections of blocks placed over each other by the brilliance of men called 'bricklayers', so ya. For a long time I tried to run away from calling myself a writer because it takes a certain degree of confidence, guts to up and call one's self a writer, not confidence like: Okay, I'm confident that later today, my dearly beloved Arsenal will defeat Stoke City; confidence like: Okay, here I am calling myself the name that Cormac McCarthy calls himself, the name that Wole Soyinka calls himself, the name that John Green calls himself, that Lee Harper calls herself, that Suzanne Collins calls herself, and you, I mean you, the person reading this, can do absolutely nothing about it even if you wanted to. It's heavy. But yes, I am a writer because, to be honest, I am nothing else. There's nothing else I could call myself, there's nothing else I'm good at.
I have nothing else to write except that I have been reading John Green's The Fault In Our Stars for like the fifteen thousandth time. The book still is the best thing I've ever read. I think every human being should read that book, not necessarily because it has some deep, metaphorical resonance at the end of it, just for it's sheer phenomenal-ness and unprecedented-ness and extraordinary-ness and other words that have -ness at the end.
Oh Ya, and by the way, every human being on earth should also make it a point of duty to get Asa's new album, Bed of Stone. Think Of it as a duty you owe to earth for the continuance of this circular motion of utter jocosity that we call life.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!
Saturday, 29 November 2014
Hello, good morning or good afternoon or goodnight. Welcome! Remember how I said, over a year ago, that I was, at that moment, working on my debut novel? Well, yes! I still am and right now, there are a few things I can tell your about it.
Who will publish the book?
Well, I've tried to find good trads, and trads means 'traditional publishers' but I've failed. There were a few who were willing though, but these few just weren't good enough. I'd rather do self publishing than use a trad who's.publishing principles I disagree completely with. So my book, DEAR ELLA, will be self published.
When Will It Be Out?
Earlier this year, I was confident that the book would come out before this year, 2014 runs out, right now, I am not sure. It could still make December 2014, but that is quite unlikely. I think it may be early 2015, but who knows? So fingers crossed for that.
What's The Book About?
Everyone I've told about this book, save for one or two, have asked this question. I will not say what exactly it's about here, but I'd say a few things.
i. There's a good guy who happens to be a medical doctor, and happens to be in dire need of money because his wife has been abducted and he needs to pay the ransom.
ii. There's a bad guy who just wants to be happy like everyone else. He happens to be the richest bastard in town, and he also happens to be friends with the doctor. He also happens to know that the child his wife is about to deliver will be born with a terminal condition. He happens to not want to raise this child.
iii. There's another man who happens to be poor who's wife also happens to be in labour at that same time.
Enough said. A lot happens on Fiction Street. Keep your fingers crossed.
Does/Can Self Publishing Work in Nigeria?
Of course it can, Nigeria is just like any other country but with Boko-haram and a lot of thieves that wear suits and Agbadas and drive Citroens. Self publishing can work here just as it can work anywhere else. One just needs to be hardworking and try to market properly so that the book will be everywhere the trads are and so that it becomes the readers responsibility to make a choice. Frankly, a Nigerian reader doesn't give a care who publishes a book or who has reviewed it or stuff like that, he just wants to read a good book. And that's the main reason self publishing can work and work well. A well self published book can stand on the same shelf as a trad and look more inviting. The problem is that a lot of Nigerian and even world writers who self publish do it because they are in a hurry to let their cat (book) out of the bag and so they end up doing a disgraceful job of it and the book ends up lacking quality, in and out. The covers are crap, the stories are crap. There are typos on every page and all those kinds of ridiculousness.
So there you have it. Fingers crossed.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!
Monday, 17 November 2014
It's been over three months since I left camp and while I say all the time how fantastic an experience it was, I am not sure if giving the opportunity, I would choose to go through it again.
I've learnt, over the years, that there are mostly two kinds of experiences: Happy and Sad. The Happy experiences can be further divided into two: 1. Enjoyed during, Enjoyed after and 2. Endured during, Enjoyed after. Camp, for me, fell under the category where you Endure during and Enjoy after, mostly because I understood how enjoyable the whole ridiculousness of the place was only after I left there. And I think it works the same way for most people. We can only speak of the Orientation Camp's awesomeness after we get out of there. Trust me, nobody says 'This is the funnest place I've been in my entire life' while still in camp, after camp however, story changes.
Today, I intend to discuss a little further about why I think the NYSC is still essential. This past week, for reasons unknown, a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook and even in real life (colleagues) went on and on and on about NYSC's uselessness. Here, I wrote about it's usefulness but I only wrote of it's immense unification purposes, nothing else and so now I feel it's incomplete.
There are millions of people that become graduates in Nigeria every year. The number is scary. One of the NYSC's purpose is providing a source of living, even just for one year, for these graduates. The monthly allowances paid into their accounts go a very long way. I cannot even imagine what their lives will be like without it, especially considering that without the scheme they'd probably be languishing in educated idleness anyway because it is more difficult to get a job in present Nigeria than for an elephant to walk through the eye of a needle. Yes they are going to be paid for just the one year, but that one year is enough for anyone to get a plan and know what happens next.
Another importance of the NYSC is that most graduates are posted to schools for their primary assignments, these are Nigerian schools and we know what Nigerian schools are like. There, teachers are not teachers, they are just people that read and give notes from textbooks or the internet to students who possibly know more than them. There is no longer a minimum requirement for teachers, in fact, I went to a school sometime ago where I met a teacher who couldn't even construct a simple sentence. It is that bad and a little worse. And we wonder why our students can no longer pass their Cert Exams. Sending graduates to teach in such schools greatly improve the prospects of these students. Yes there are also a few graduates that have difficulties in constructing simple sentences but these are the unserious ones and it's likely that even if they're posted to schools, they'd never show up there.
Another advantage of the Youth Service Scheme is the work experience. Every employer in this century wants to hire an employee with experience, no matter how little and many times, no matter how insignificant. This year gives young people with aspirations of becoming employed by these employers the much needed experience, no matter how insignificant.
Finally, freedom. Now, for me, I see the concept of freedom like putting cheese inside a transparent glass container and allowing a rat try to collect it. It will try desperately no matter how many times it bangs it's head against the glass, it will try to collect the cheese. Freedom, in the real sense of the word, is a height that is never achievable, it's that thing that we look forward to so much, but it never comes. That said, there are several variations to pure freedom and one of those variations is offered to young people during their youth service. Young people experience this variation of freedom and see what life is and what it can be without the monitoring and even prying eyes of their parents. They make their own mistakes and learn to learn from it. This is why I don't understand people who opt to serve in their states of origin.
There are many, many more advantages to the Youth Service Scheme, but I'm too tired to continue, perhaps I'd talk about this again. Thanks for reading.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!
Saturday, 8 November 2014
She was so full of life. Her hands were stretched apart as if she was about to takeoff, as if she was a plane, a plane that you know would never crash no matter what kind of storm came against it. Her smile was magnificent, buoyant; more of a laugh paused at the middle, at the stage of laughter where it is impossible to just abruptly stop, than a smile. Her bare feet pressed against the sharp, brown sand of a beach, making its imprint, the sand, slightly swallowing her toenails. Her dark skin, so consistent, so beautiful, her haunting eyes, brown, like no other you have ever seen, its sheen, a well of hope.
He sat on a plastic chair and rested his arms on a squeaky plastic table, one leg shorter than the remaining three, in front of him. His left hand held the photograph of her – the one where she was so full of life. The room was almost completely dark except that there was a candle stick on top of an empty can of skimmed milk which sat on the table, its wax gushing away wastefully, forming moulds of white semi-solid rocks. He was holding in tears, trying to be a man, he was trying to convince himself that he did not love her enough to cry over her – he did.
They had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party and they had both been unlucky (or lucky) enough to show up at the exact time fixed for the party, meaning they were the first to get to the venue, not even the celebrant had shown up. They sat down opposite each other and stole glances, since he was shy, or introverted, as he would rather be referred; he prayed that she would break the ice. She did. She was not like him; she was neither shy nor introverted. The first thing she said however was unintelligible, jargon. At that point, the only thing he could think to say was, ‘yes. You are right.’
She smiled, ‘what?’
‘What did you say?’ He asked.
‘I was in my head.’
‘Oh okay. How does your head feel this evening?’ He asked.
She smiled and shook her head.
‘My name is Abdul. Hi.’ He said and stretched his palm.
‘Hello. I am Mirabel.’ She took his hand. Her palms were small and soft but still had a way of completely clutching his.
They did not stay for the party; they went to have lunch and from there took a long walk, taking in each other’s company and wondering how they had never met even though they had so much in common. He fell in love with her company first, then her.
The candlestick was dying away, the wax was still gushing out wastefully without a care, could it not see that he needed help? That he was broken? Breaking?
He found out that she was doing drugs one night, they had dinner planned and she did not show up, it was very unlike her. He started getting worried after, at his fifth attempt; she still did not pick up her phone and his call. He went to her place. Her door was locked from the inside, the lights were on and the fan was rolling and there was loud metal music playing in the background. Someone was inside.
He forced the door open, pried it with his shoulder – all the energy he could muster, inside the room, he found her. She was lying down on the green and yellow nylon carpet next to her bed. His first thought was that she fell into a deep sleep, a strange sleep, one where she could not move five centimeters left to her bed. Inching closer to her however, he found that she was not asleep; she was fully awake but stoned. Her eyes were wide open and glassy; there were heavy black bags of sleeplessness and inebriation just underneath them. Her face was heavy, stiff, and unmovable; he had never seen her like that. He was afraid. She smiled a smile that, as far as he was concerned, was more of a call for help. She wanted to stretch her hands towards him but she hardly had enough strength to keep breathing. That night marked the beginning of the end of their relationship.
‘Why drugs?’ He asked her photograph in the company of the dying candlestick. As if the photograph could answer such a question, as if the photograph was not just a useless piece of polaroid paper that exuberated in its immense fakery. She was a great sport when she was clean. She was a lady so full of life; she wanted to, she needed to give some of it out to the world. His eyes were fixed on her face, her smile that was the most contagious he had ever known. Where was this version of Mirabel? He thought to himself. Maybe she only existed in photographs; a mechanism that so easily aided pretence, it was scary. One’s life could be up in smokes but a photograph could capture that one having the time of his life; could there be a bigger hoax? He thought.
They broke up last night; she got knocked up on some crazy syrup and came around to his place. She said that their relationship had been a bad idea from the beginning. That she was a wild child and he was an angel. She used words like ‘eternally incompatible’ and ‘unfortunately unworkable’ to describe their relationship, she went on and on and when she was done, she left without letting him say a single word. She strode away and left a sour taste in his mouth and tears in his eyes.
The candlestick finally died leaving heaps of wax on the milk tin, but that was not all that died, he was sure, a part of him died, too, that part that fell in love with Mirabel.
Saturday, 25 October 2014
First and foremost, I find the ridiculousness of wanting to look white insulting, for obvious reasons. I'm black. What it means is, the person that bleaches her skin unfortunately, (ignorantly may be a better word, or stupidly, perhaps) believes her original skin is inferior, lower, nether to the white skin. Naturally, this should annoy anyone who is black and satisfied with his/her blackness, like me, but my anger and annoyance is at best inconsequential, s/he who wants to bleach, will bleach no matter what I think.
Sorry I started this post angrily. Hi. Today, I will talk a bit on skin bleaching, or as it is now more popularly regarded, Skin Lightening, perhaps it has this new name because the old one (bleaching) is quite harsh? But bleaching is bleaching, it doesn't matter what you call it. It is bleaching. You are bleaching.
It is the process of applying chemicals to the skin to lessen the concentration of melanin and so make the skin look like Hugh Grant's, these chemicals are mostly in form of creams and they have been proven time and time again to be very harmful in the long run. The popularity of these skin bleaching creams have steadily increased over the past few years, especially in Nigeria. In fact, researches show that 77% of Nigerian women use one variety of bleaching cream or another. This poses some serious questions, like: why?
It's important, most of the time, to understand the psychology of some of these things. Why would anyone want to be lighter than they came? What satisfaction does anyone derive from using chemicals on their skins? Chemicals that are going to harm them eventually? Does skin bleaching honestly improve a person's look? Honestly? I am not even in the mood to consider the religious and moral perspectives.
We live in a society that is quite literally on it's head, the abnormal has become normal, vice versa. That's why societal expectations and peer pressure may one way or another be linked to skin bleaching, especially with the younger girls and, of course, the older ones that have vehemently refused to grow up. I understand the plight of young girls, I really do, especially teenage girls. I understand how, for example, on Facebook, you get likes proportionate to how much of your cleavage you expose. I understand how, in class, friends go on and on about crazy things like rainbow coloured pantyhose and violet fingernails and lavender toenails and all what naught. I understand how easily peer pressure can affect girls. It is a struggle to keep afloat. What I do not and cannot understand is how a person can argue that skin bleaching is fashionable. No. It is not. Jimmy Choo shoes are fashionable, Chanel bags are fashionable, Gucci shades are fashionable, blood red lipsticks are fashionable, bleaching your skin isn't.
I read somewhere that women feel more sexually attractive if their skin is lighter. I honestly do not think a man who prefers bleached women exist. And right now you're saying men can't tell the difference between a naturally light girl and an artificially light one. Wrong again. Most men know these things, most men can spot an artificial woman from a mile away. I have extra pair of eyes made of glass, just in case.
The thing is Attractiveness has nothing to do with color and everything to do with taste, if a man likes white women, he likes white women, not black ones trying desperately/futilely to be white.
The only thing skin bleaching does to a person is it exposes the person's incredibly low self esteem. Show me a person who bleaches their skin and I would show you the extreme insecurity, the self hate and loath, the misery in that person. Ultimately then, this has more to do with the mind. When the mind becomes adulterated with thoughts of inadequacy, the brain comes to it's rescue with flimsy ideas to help in compensating. You find, in that case, that people who do this to their skin are those trying to compensate for something, those who do not feel like they are good enough to live in their own bodies, those with bleached minds.
Effects of overuse of skin bleaching creams may include skin cancer. So I'd stop it, if I were you. But I'm not you now, am I?
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!
This is going to be short because there is only one thing you REALLY need at the orientation camp. Your mind. Everything else you've read or heard everywhere else is unimportant, trivial.
You need to take yourself to camp. What I mean by taking yourself to camp is, You need to prepare yourself, your mind for the WORST. I really wish I was joking but I'm not. Prepare your mind to stand for eighteen hours at one stretch. Prepare your mind to get drenched in heavy, ridiculous bouts of downpour. Prepare your mind to get battered with a vengeance by the sun. Prepare to get a headache. Prepare to get a fever. Prepare to catch a cold. But then, prepare yourself for the ride. Prepare to enjoy every moment. Prepare to laugh, because you'd be laughing at the strangeness and general craziness of the whole thing, from start to finish. Prepare to meet all kinds of people: strange people, stupid people, serious people, crazy people, funny people, stingy people that will not help you to save their own lives..Lol!
Prepare to wake up at four in the morning, or if you're like me and would rather take a bath without the staring eyes of the general public, prepare to wake up at three in the morning for those twenty one days. It will not be that bad. Plus, you'd get to sleep forever when you're dead. Prepare, if you do not have so much money, to eat food rations that are just enough to keep you alive and going. Prepare to be insulted by potbellied military men. Prepare to be yelled at, screamed at for walking instead of running at 4.30 in the morning and then at every other time you can think of: you run to the parade ground, you run to the lecture halls, you run to platoon meetings, you run to your hostels, you run to take your meals, you run to take a piss, you run. You're Forrest Gump for those twenty one days in camp. Prepare for the useless parades where you get to understand that one can get tired of standing, Prepare for the stupid lectures where people talk for so long but end up saying absolutely nothing, there, you'll understand that one can get tired of sitting.
Prepare your mind, it's all in the mind. Good luck!
Sunday, 19 October 2014
She had on red lipsticks over her already red lips; her gait, seamless, angelic maybe – steel legs of flesh. She wore tiny socks that stopped just above her ankles over which her white sneakers were still unblemished with red coloured dirt even at five in the evening. Usually, at five, white sneakers were no longer as white as they were in the morning due to the usual hustle, bustle and ridiculousness of the NYSC orientation camp.
Her complexion was dark, coffee dark, coffee with a tinge of skimmed milk. Her dark skin complexion was unique; it was the kind of dark skin complexion that made light people jealous of dark people.
‘My name is Reyé.’ She was saying, responding to your question.
You were hardly listening though. It was impossible to listen because your legs had started trembling under your knees. They had become wobbly, like noodles, noodles soaked in hot water.
You had seen her once before, you had had a blissful conversation. Well, you were having a blissful conversation until the men wearing camouflage shirts and black, baggy trousers tucked into black, extra-large, ugly boots came to disrupt things with their whistles and faded gold beagles. ‘Let’s go,let’s go. Move to the parade ground, Right now.’ They had shouted, their voices as loud as their beagles, louder maybe, and as thick as the bark of an orange tree. You often wondered how they never lost their voices in the twenty one days of camping. You lost yours twice and you hardly ever shouted, except when you were arguing with some of your forty something roommates about whose school was better or about what kind of music made more sense or about the current administrations efficiency or lack of it.
Everyone started running at the command of the men in uniform, ‘If you are walking, you are wrong.’ They had roared, almost in unison, almost as if they had practiced how to make everyone else’s life miserable. She ran, too, she ran very fast and before you knew it, she was far away from you. She had looked back and you had caught a glimpse of her but she hadn’t of you. That was the last you saw of her. Until now.
You tried to talk your legs into steadiness. ‘Don’t be stupid. Behave. For God’s sake, behave.’ You said to your legs under your breath, as if your legs had ears and would behave once you tell it to.
She was wearing glasses, Reyé. The last time you saw her, she had contact lenses on her haunting eyes.
You mumbled something in the lines of ‘What made you ditch your contacts for glasses?
'Someone got excited and hit my left eye while I was wearing them?’ She said.
Your legs were still wobbly, your arms had joined in, they seemed not to fit any longer by your side, and so you were moving them about like the confused leader of an orchestra. ‘Excited?’ you managed to say.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘On the parade ground, during the early morning prayers.'
'Oh. That’s cold.'
'It is. But I don’t like these glasses. I prefer yours.'
'I don’t like it either, dear.’ You said and she laughed, you laughed, too. That was when you stopped speaking, involuntarily, of course. So you stood there, next to her, like a statue with moving hands and wobbly legs.
They were boys playing soccer on the field, one platoon against another; you stopped following those games after your platoon was defeated very early on.
She was still standing next to you, pretending to enjoy the football match, as if it was the most captivating thing she had ever seen, pretending that she did not notice how strange you were acting, drawing eccentric circles around your body with your hands, your hands that vehemently refused to stay put by your sides. You had lots more to say to her just that your mouth was no longer interested in speaking and so before the football match ended and one team defeated the other on penalties, she said, 'Alright. I will go now.'
And you mumbled incoherently and watched her walk away. Your words came back after she had left but you had nothing to say to yourself so you kept on watching twenty two sets of boys on the field who you cared nothing about, kick about one round leather.
Saturday, 11 October 2014
This week on twitter, Binyavanga Wainana lashes out at the Caine prize. Says we attach way too much importance to it and it's not as important as we say and we need to dilute it because we are Africans and we are writers and bla bla bla.
Well, I think he's wrong. I've never come close to having an entry sent in for the Caine prize, I don't know that I ever will, so I'm just writing this as a follower of the prize. I think it's fantastic. It's fantastic because I don't know of any other African prize that does so much not just monetarily but also in exposing to the world talented writers that would probably not have had a look in ordinarily. Take Noviolet Bulawayo and her short story 'Hitting Budapest' that won the Caine in 2011, I think; and subsequently, her book 'We Need New Names' that got nominated for the Man Booker Prize making her the first black African Woman to ever get nominated, for a good example. This is the importance of exposing African writing and writers to a wider audience which is what the Caine Prize tries to achieve most importantly. I am surprised that Binyavanga Wainana, who once was a beneficiary of this Caine Prize exposure says/is saying differently. Hardly will you find a writer from Africa who is doing well enough that has not benefited one way or another from the Caine Prize, either from being shortlisted or even winning it. His argument, I think (as it was difficult to follow his tweets) was that African writers wash up to the (foreign) Caine Prize, which isn't doing enough to deserve to be washed up to... My opinion is that there is no other literary Prize in Africa that does as well as the Caine Prize. When you set up your own literary award that does everything, then you can tell us to stop loving the Caine Prize. But for now, don't. That's it.
This week on twitter and the Nigerian blogosphere in general, plagiarism. It's kind of a long story and in order to understand this, you have to understand the long story. So I'll try and summarize and give links so you understand. Okay! It all started about a week ago when a man known simply and smartly only on twitter as @MrAyeDee accused Nigeria's number one gossip blogger (who, by the way, is one of my favourite cos she's smart and understands her readers) Linda Ikeji of stealing his intellectual property, simply put, Linda plagiarized his work, she did. Well, after AyeDee tried his utmost to call her out or gain her attention and failed severely probably because Linda was ignoring him or whatever, he decided to report the conundrum to Google, Google then decided to block/take down Linda's blog. And then Linda's fans hauled insults at AyeDee and AyeDee's fans hauled insults at Linda and it was fantastic and entertaining drama for the guys in the middle, like yours truly.
Crazy things happen at night, so at night apparently, Linda and AyeDee had a chat online, like they IMed each other or whatever. Anyway, it turns out that they actually had been friends for like, ever and they had been IMing since like, before God created Heaven and Earth and then suddenly Linda stopped returning AyeDee's IMs and according to Linda, here, AyeDee felt he wasn't getting enough attention from Linda and so sought to bring Linda down. This is my opinion, I like Linda Ikeji, but she plagiarized, that is a sin, a big sin. Google, for this, took down her blog, then they returned it to her. Why did they take it down in the first place then? Google ehn... sometimes they misbehave sef!
Finally, this week on twitter, a lady known sweetly(no pun intended) as @Sugabelly, who actually was one of Linda Ikeji's antagonist in chief, for good reasons, Linda also plagiarized her stuff one time - did I tell you that Linda has been a serial plagiarist? I digress. Anyway, Sugabelly tweeted here and I quote: "To be perfectly honest. You're poor if you make less than N300,000 per month. Not even joking." And then the floodgates of abuses and vitriolics opened. I think we are really fucked up in Nigeria, we abuse people too much and then we start abusing their parents and then we start calling them 'ashawo'. Lol! Anyway, I don't think she's right, or maybe she is slightly right. But then she went on to tweet that "If you make N70k and your potential husband or wife makes N80k, y'all should forget about getting married. Cos you can't raise kids."(rough quote) Okay, so for me, I don't really intend to get married, even if I get married, I don't intend to have kids, even if I have a kid, I don't intend to have more than one, even if I have more than one... and so on. So I'm speaking from a neutral point of view. Sugabelly's tweets maybe true but only for very few locations like the high brow areas in Abuja and in Lagos etc where the cost of school fees for a term is a million and the cost of eating a good meal at a restaurant is half a million. Abuja is a city that I generally consider to be for the rich but it doesn't work like that because poor people like myself also live there, and poorer people, too. So it's solely dependent on location. For instance, my parents didn't raise me while they made 300k per month, in fact, when I was little, going to school, their combined salaries wasn't even close to that and I don't think I turned out bad, or dull or stupid or not knowing how to cross the road or not knowing how to spell, did I? DID I? Yes, that was years ago and the value of money.then is not the value of money now yidiyada bla bla... The truth is, there are more poor people for whom N300,000 will make their whole year in Nigeria today, than rich people, for whom it's just change that they can blow on one dinner date or on champagne or on shawarma or on the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel... And Yes, I said 'blow.' I guess ultimately, it's a case of different strokes for different folks; but @Sugabelly generalized and that's probably what got people angry. For me, I just watched cos I do that a lot, and laughed at the people that had no lives and decided to start calling her names. Anyway, the lesson is this, Your 30thousand is someone else's 30million and your 30million is someone else's 30thousand, you see?
So there you have it. It's the first time I'm doing this 'week on twitter' thing. I'll probably do more if there are interesting weeks.
Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!