Aug 21, 2008

A new phase

"So where do I start?" This was the question I asked myself when I decided to update my blog. Should I start from where I stopped? Or should I resume as if nothing ever happened? I haven't updated in a while ... a long while. However, unlike my blog, I've been far from idle. Within the past few months, I've done several abrupt things. I've decided on a career change, resigned from my nice job, liquidated several assets, gathered my books, compressed my personal belongings into three bags, relocated from my home country, and reported to school. OK, I was able to say that in one sentence, however, it took several months of planning, studying, applying, writing essays, interviewing, receiving admission and then the Visa process (which is a different story altogether).

So here I am in the United States learning what it means to be a Nigerian in the diaspora. During the past month, I've seen things that made me proud of Nigeria, and I've also seen things that make me extremely ashamed. I'll soon be blogging about the "peculiar" lives of many Nigerians in the United States, and I'll be blogging about Nigeria from the viewpoint of a foreigner.

Meanwhile, what's this I hear of our president disappearing to Saudi for 17 days? This calls for serious concern. Thank God he's back now. I sincerely hope this is the last of such mysterious trips.

So that's it guys, an update. Hope to do that more frequently henceforth. Have a nice day.

[ Click here to read more ... ]

Jun 7, 2008

Eedris and Ruggedman - An Unexpected Collabo

The synthesized sound of the electric piano filtered through my car speakers as the voice of Eedris uttered, "Rugged Man, Eedris Abdulkareem Collabo" followed by Ruggedman's voice saying "Yes oh, no be dream". I was perplexed to say the least and I quickly turned up the volume and listened with interest - to "Ko le ye won" (They can't understand), a brand new song by Eedris featuring Ruggedman.

Observers of the Nigerian music industry will recall that Eedris was once a star who reigned unchallenged. He rose into fame with several hit singles, including "Mr Lecturer" and "Jagajaga". His name on your handbill meant your show was jam packed. His CD in your station meant he got lots of airplay. Eedris' "grass to grace" story was well known, and he told everyone who cared to listen about how he was penniless and was once deported from Spain. Like him or not, you became easily aware of his outspoken and egoistic personality.

Having shared stages with different categories of musicians including the famous American Gangsta Rapper 50 Cent, Eedris started referring to himself as the best in Africa. This claim infuriated Rugged man and led to the latter's release of the track "Ehen Part one" intended to diss Eedris and several other artists, picking on his rap style and lack of skill. Eedris apparently didn't take the insult well, and he replied Ruggedman in an interview saying "Person wey diss him elders no go grow". But Pride they say goes before a fall. Some time after this, Eedris was a guest artist at a concert sponsored by Nigerian Breweries which was to hold in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. At the airport where the performers were taking a connecting flight, he entered a brawl with 50 Cent leading the latter to cut short his musical trip and go back to the US. It was bad for Nigerian Breweries as they had to cancel the Port Harcourt concert and rumors flew about how they promised to teach Eedris a lesson and make sure he received no more invitations to Nigerian concerts. Undaunted, Eedris went ahead and released "Jagajaga" which was again rumored to have infuriated the then President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Soon after, due to unverifiable reasons, Eedris started fading out. He became silent and less was seen of him. In a rare twist of fate, RuggedMan rose and soon became the foremost rapper in the industry. He released an album which received massive airplay and performed in concerts nationwide. While it was the rise and rise of Ruggedman, it was the rise and fall of Eedris. Like Mohammed Ali after his first fight with Joe Frazier, it was as if the loud mouthed fighter had been finally humbled and silenced.

This Collabo between Eedris and Ruggedman is bound to surprise many. Eedris' strategy of collaborating with his "enemy" makes this an interesting comeback. The song sounds good, with a beat that can compete favorably in todays market. As usual, its hard to miss the pomp and confidence that Eedris still portrays, qualities that have been majorly responsible for his success in his earlier career. In Nigeria today, there are two types of artists. Those who thrive on music skill and those who thrive on delivery techniques. A good example of the former is Styl Plus while someone like D Banj falls into the category of the latter. Eedris would fit well into the latter. He might not have much melody in his songs, but his delivery has always been superb and this he displays very well in "Ko le ye won".

The Nigerian Music Industry has changed drastically and Eedris now has to contend with the likes of 9ice, X-project (of the Lorile fame), Asha and D Banj. One thing is sure though, he is a fighter and he has lived to fight another day. The question however is - How long will he last? He has an answer - Ko le ye won.

NB: Internet Explorer users: If the player does not display, you may listen here. Firefox users should not experience any problem

[ Click here to read more ... ]

May 29, 2008

For football ... or for country?

It was evening on the 21st of May, 2008. Everywhere was strangely quiet. The streets were unusually scanty. The ever busy Ikorodu road was at half of its normal capacity. Third Mainland Bridge was free of traffic and Alfred Rewane road in Ikoyi looked scanty. Those who had not left their offices in a hurry decided to stay in till much later. But it was not midnight, neither was it an environmental sanitation exercise. No, it was time for the UEFA Champions league final.

Football fans converged in several places, often around a small TV, each person trying to maneuver his way to the most advantaged position. Chelsea fans seemed more in number than those of Manchester United and the blue color was more prominent. Somewhere in Surulere, a live cow was tied to a post with the Chelsea flag draped around it - ready to be butchered and barbecued to celebrate Chelsea's assumed win. A trophy was on a pedestal in another part of the city ready to be decorated by fans of the winning team. In another place, 2 cows were tied down, one for United and one for Chelsea. Cooks and Slaughter men stayed on alert ready to prepare a great feast. Drinks were ordered and iced as flags, jerseys, caps and stickers were displayed. Everywhere was either Red or Blue, there was no demilitarized zone.

Several days earlier had seen Chelsea fans holding rallies in several parts of the country notably Port Harcourt and Lagos, waving flags and banners and parading in a convoy of buses. It brought back to memory the days of the gubernatorial campaigns especially the PDP/AC battle in Lagos State.

Fast forward 2 hours, and the match had progressed into penalties. You could actually feel the whole city hold its breath. Somewhere in the east, a die-hard United fan passed out in the anxiety of the moment. Finally, Manchester United won and a great uproar went out. That was when the pandemonium began. Celebrations led to free-for-all fights in several places - as is almost always expected in such situations. Somewhere in Lagos, a fight broke out over the redemption of bets and broken bottles were freely utilized. Sadly, several lives were lost and many were wounded at the end of the day.

Now, here was a football tournament which took place in Europe with very few Nigerian players playing. The final match was played by an American owned club and a Russian owned club. Yet, Nigerians were ready to give their lives for the game. On the streets, about 1 out of every 5 cars has a Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool sticker displayed on its shields. Some have stickers so large they obstruct vision. In many offices, football is always the first discussion of the day. A lot of energy is used on a tournament that has nothing to do with our progress as a people or a nation.

It's all well to celebrate the win of Manchester. When last did we celebrate our country?
It's all well to identify with a foreign club and know everything about its history. When last did we identify with a Nigerian issue or the history behind the problem?
It's all well to have stickers, banners and plaques of teams in your car. Have you ever put a Nigerian flag or coat of arms in your car?
It's all well to use our energy during rallies and matches. When last did we use our energies for a community cause?

Today is Democracy Day in Nigeria, and as we celebrate the anniversary of our transition from military rule, let's celebrate Nigeria, and let's pledge to do our own little part in making Nigeria better, because when the cards are down, Nigeria is all we really have, and we have to live with and in it.

God bless Nigeria.

[ Click here to read more ... ]

May 18, 2008

Headache for the Obasanjos

First, I'll apologize for my long leave of absence. It's been three whole months since I last updated this blog. Three months which have been packed with activities and events in Nigeria. I was not running from the EFCC, neither was I slightly indisposed in Ota. I did not travel to Germany for medical checkup ... but I digress! Germany will be a story for another day. Today is the day of the Obasanjos.

The daughter of Baba himself, a serving senator in the upper house was declared wanted by the same organization that was started by her father. A cartoonist said "She facilitated the movement of Several Ghana-must-go bags to Ghana". She is now at large according to the EFCC. The same cartoonist wonders if the EFCC has tried looking for her in Ghana. Anyway, the court is expected to settle this matter. Nollywood will agree that this will make a great home video titled "The clash in the arms of Government" starring EFCC as The Executive, Senator Iyabo as The Legislative, and the Court of Law as The Judiciary. Introducing ... errr ... ok - lemme leave that for the home video guys. In any case, grab your copy ... NOW!

While this event is occupying front pages in major newspapers, Baba himself was summoned before the House of Representatives' Committee on Power and Steel to explain how and why $16 Billion (~N2000 Billion or N2 Trillion) was spent on the power sector without any visible improvement or any form of visibility. Quite conveniently, Baba became slightly indisposed and could not appear before the committee, choosing to draft a long letter to attend in his place.

I don't blame the man. What with a daughter being pursued by an organization he created, and billions of Nigerians waiting for him to explain why they are still in darkness, why won't he fall sick? Abeg let them leave the man to rest in his Ota Farm. Nigeria's affairs can make anyone seriously indisposed.

I hope this will serve as a warning to present leaders in the country. They need to know that public funds are not meant for private use. Right now, what we need in Nigeria is evidence that our tax money is being used for what it should and basic amenities like light, water and good roads are available in all parts of the country. Considering the percentage of my salary that is deducted as tax, that's not too much to ask, is it?

[ Click here to read more ... ]

May 14, 2008

I shall be back

No, I've not lost the ability to write
No, I've neither retired nor given up my blog
The darkest hour comes before dawn
But I shall be back again before long

[ Click here to read more ... ]

Feb 25, 2008

A Volatile Senate and the Rule of Law

Nigeria's number 3 position is one hot seat that no one has been able to sit on for long. Since the restoration of demacracy in 1999, the Senate has witnessed 6 presidents, all within 2 tenures. They have all been characterized with (and removed due to) one scandal or the other. Evans Enwerem had forged Certificates, Chuba Okadigbo had embezzled, and so on. Now, Senate President David Mark has been sacked by the Elections Tribunal. Reason? The elections in Benue State which put him in power has been nullified. I sincerely hope this is not the beginning of another series of Senate Presidents in this regime.

Presently, the seat of government in Abuja is anxiously awaiting the results of the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal tomorrow, when it shall be decided if President Yar'adua was victorious in the Elections that took place last year. I'll leave you with a Food for thought. President Yar'adua has said he'll always abide by the rule of law. What if his election is declared as false? Will he leave? And if he leaves, I very much doubt that his successor will have the same respect for the rule of law. That'll effectively send us backward several places. What then is the way forward?

[ Click here to read more ... ]

Feb 13, 2008

This day ...

The 44th day of the year in the Gregorian Calender
Exactly 5 days later, the Sahara Desert experienced snow - for the first and only recorded time - for a period of 30 minutes.
Exactly 3 years earlier, Gen. Murtala Mohammed was assassinated in a coup plot.
Exactly 99 years earlier, Thomas Edison observed the "Edison Effect"
Exactly 25 years later, the universe's largest known diamond, white dwarf star was discovered.

The day I was born, the day I came into the world, the day I started in this journey called life.
My Birthday!

[ Click here to read more ... ]

Feb 10, 2008

Naija's Journey into Talk

Children born today will never imagine a time when GSM was just another meaningless and largely unknown acronym. They won't believe in a time when Telecommunications only meant NITEL and some archaic cable satellite company. They'll never know that masts once meant TV and radio stations, and Coca-Cola was the strongest Nigerian brand without any competitor for their colorful and eye-catching billboards.

I remember the days of the 090 (naught nine naught) lines - the NITEL cellular handsets of the 90s. If you owned one, you were considered an extremely big boy. You could receive your calls in any Bank, and no security personnel dared tell you to switch it off. In fact, you wouldn't even be in the banking hall in the first place, you would be in the Branch Manager's office receiving preferential treatment. You would never complain of bad network or poor service, because as far as you were concerned, you owned the best of the best.

Those were the days when you had to depend on luck when going to see a friend, and you had to plan the next appointment before you parted ways. Woe betide you if you left your house without the proper address - short of asking from door to door, there was no other way you get directions. Then, people stuck notepads and pencils on their front doors with stylish signs which read "Drop a note", and there were charts on doors with different attributes such as IN, MARKET, BATHROOM, TRAVELED, etc. It was the time when a man who was working in Lagos and his lover who was undergoing her NYSC in Kano kept their relationship alive through 6 page letters in the post, letters, which took two to three weeks to get delivered... and their love survived! It was the time when the only way you could confirm the safe arrival of your friends was by taking down the registration number of the commercial vehicle and visiting the park 3-4 days later to see if the driver was back from the trip.

Land lines existed, but were only for the rich and influential. The owners would usually lock the phones with a small padlock so their kids would not make calls and incur phone bills in their absence. There was usually a house with a phone line in every neighborhood, and it was common to find different people waiting at houses to receive a call from a family members residing abroad at a particular time. It was also common to have a messenger running to your house informing you that you had a call and the caller was calling back in 5 minutes, and you would quickly leave all you were doing and run to wait for your call.

Evolution soon brought the use of phone cards and calling machines from NITEL. People with phone cards would stand making their calls closely monitoring their units while they quickly made their calls in as few words as possible. Opportunists soon emerged, renting out phone cards to make a quick buck, and fables spread about how an empty phone card could be refilled by freezing it for a number of days.

Alas, it's now all history, thanks to GSM. Anyone who can cough out N3000 can get a phone and a line. The average Nigerian now owns a handset he receives calls with. People have as many as two, three or four lines and are quick to display all their numbers on their personal business cards. Handsets have also evolved. At the onset, if you had a Nokia 3310 or 3330, you were a big boy. If you had a Samsung Blue-I, you were a bigger boy, and if you had a Samsung True-I or a Motorola V50, you were without equal. Commoners used the Trium Mars, Motorola Talkabout and the Sagem's first phones. GSM Lines were as costly as N20000 - N30000, calls were billed by the minute, and the cheapest air time you could buy was a N500 recharge card from Econet.

Now different versions of phones exist, with different functionalities such as FM Radio, Cameras and Video. Phones shaped like planes and those that remind you of walkie-talkies. We now do everything from running excel sheets to checking out our facebook pages on our phones. We play music and watch videos, and send pictures through MMS and bluetooth. The land line is almost forgotten, and the NITEL Phone booths are non-existent. Recharge cards are sold in every corner, and the average 7 year old kid knows how to operate his Mum's phone.

The GSM industry had indeed done a lot of positive things for Nigerians. Apart from bringing communication within the reach of the common man, it has created multiple employment opportunities, not only for those who work in the GSM organizations, but mostly on the streets for recharge card hawkers and phone call center operators. It has also created a big market for mobile phones, such that the Computer Village in Ikeja is no longer only known for computers but also largely known for mobile phones and accessories. With the advent of 3G Plus and 3.5G, we will soon be able to watch movies on our phones, make video calls and enjoy ultra high speed internet. GSM is here to stay, and will continue to change the way we talk, the way we act and the way we live.

Long live GSM!

[ Click here to read more ... ]

Jan 21, 2008

Happy New Year / Bloggers Party update

Happy new year! Yes, a little time has passed, a lot of stuff has happened and the year has changed since I last updated this blog. I've been involved in lots of stuff including (but not limited to) writing a major exam, the bloggers party, future awards, and several events, etc. This also marks one year of active blogging for me. Having opened this blog in Feb., 2006, I didn't start blogging actively until Jan. 20, 2007. Within the past two weeks, I've met enough bloggers to last lifetime! I've met Favored girl, Princesa, Bobby Taylor, Manda, Jaycee, The Scribe, Toni Payne, Overwhelmed Naija Babe and a few I had previously met eg, Laspapi, Comrade, Omoalagbede, Linda, etc. OK, before you guys start wondering, let me give a quick update on the Bloggers party. First I'd like to shout out to Bobby Taylor who unfortunately couldn't make it to Nigeria for the party. I'd also like to thank Twayne, who volunteered to help out in organizing (she actually did more than help!). Ok, so here's the update ...

It was the first Saturday in the new year, and the holiday feel was still in the air. Traffic was light and few people were in sight. On Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island existed an exquisite bar/lounge named "No 10" - rightfully after it's owner, Jay Jay Okocha. This was where the Bloggers party went down. Expected time was 5 pm but with African time in mind, the meeting time was fixed for 4 pm.

On my way to the location while trying to get there before everyone else, I had a small problem with my car. You know those small problems that take a while to fix? Well I had one of those so I branched at a mechanic in Ikoyi and finally got to the venue at about 4:30 and ... (un)expectedly, nobody was there. Not even Tope my co-organizer (although she had earlier called me to tell me she would be late) "Na wa o, thank God for African time" I thought as I sat and waited. If nobody showed up, ehnnn? Would I hang out alone?

After 10 minutes, I was starting to get bored. Suddenly the boredom faded, as four people walked in. I recognized Princesa, and she introduced Manda, Obi and a friend who's not a blogger. The arrival set things rolling. I got a call from writefreak informing me that she was outside the doors. When I went to lead her in, I met favored girl and writefreak's hubby who she talks about so much on her blog. Others started pouring in after this: Comrade, The Scribe, Unnaked, Omohemi, Jaycee, Tomi, Toochi, Fantasy Queen, Chakams and Babs were some of the bloggers who came in.

Other people in the lounge soon became conscious that there was something going on. While Princesa and Favored Girl mischievously took pictures, Tope led an "introduce yourself" session and got everyone excited. We spoke about several things, jointly and disjointly, took pictures, ordered drinks and talked about everything from blogging to the internet. I silently wondered why Fantasy Queen, Unnaked, and Omohemi were being so quiet and shy. Their blogs are far from shy now. Aren't they? Soon Tomi had to leave, then Princesa, Manda and Obi left as well. Omoalagbede came in and we received a call from Laspapi saying he was on his way. After waiting for what seemed like hours, Laspapi showed up. Out of the blues, Overwhelmed Naija Babe showed up too. Alright, so I had to leave. On our way out, we met, Simply Nuttie and two other bloggers. Talk about real African Timing! They joined the crew and brought the number of guests to 28. It was a wonderful evening of networking and fun, and I'm glad we had it.


Aren't bloggers good looking people?

I don't really do new year resolutions, but I hope to be able to blog more often this year. I hope more old time bloggers won't leave blogsville this year - We've already lost too many. This is a shout-out to Cheetarah, Pink Satin, Baba Alaaye, Pseudo, T.Minx and all others who have resigned from blogging. You are highly missed, and I hope things are going well with you.

Many things happened last year. A significant thing being the handing over of government from a civilian president to another civilian president. I believe this is the first time we will ever experience such. Nigeria has come a long way, and so have we.

Looking back, I can say last year was better than the previous. I pray this year will be a better year for us, our homes, our families and our Country.
Welcome to 2008!
Happy new year!

[ Click here to read more ... ]