Monday, October 7, 2013

of sharpness and nigerian tomfoolery

i swear i was not going to write a blog post today. my abeokuta adventure over the weekend seems to have re-inspired me to just go on about everything. i am literally appaled by nigerians at this stage. so there i was last night, lounging in bed and writing my blog when i suddenly remembered that i had applied for visa lottery a few years ago (just because) and nothing became of it. so i made a mental note to check the official site for the DV and maybe apply. The truth is, i don't know what i would ever do if i was even given the green card because i am not at the stage of life where living in a foreign land would make a remarkable difference to me. i'm kinda used to the way of life here, i know how far my salary will take me and that nepa will not change. but anyways, what does not kill you makes you something or the other so whaddaheck.

so i get here this morning and log on to their site and now i am angrier than mary slessor upon ariving at 1876 calabar (all my generation z readers can never get that need to know more than miley cyrus twerking for it to make sense). You see, applying for green card is not a trivial matter. like every nigerian, you have to fast on that day, mark a cross on your forehead using holy olive oil, pray longer than you usually do before leaving the house, cast and bind any spirits that will delay or otherwise hamper your application (including the spirit of "your photo is not valid" on their website) etc. so naturally, i had to rush out all my work for today, get my colleague to come and snap me fresh photo wherein i had posed against a white background, buttoned my collar, chooked paper behind my ears so they will stand out and show, put on my "you better give me this visa" look, used microsoft office to crop and resize the photo for over one hour until they approved it, then started the application.

after getting halfway through, i find the usual notice that says that you must come from an eligible country and bla bla bla. i almost skipped it and went on because please, nigeria has always been at the forefront of visa applications worldwide. i can almost swear that we send in the highest number of entries per year over the last how many years. infact i know a few people in my former church who apply for their entire families from grandma to housegirl, as a family routine, year after year...but just to laugh at those random countries like ghana and kenya who always think they compare to our greatness, i decided to look at the list anyways cos i was certain one of them would be blacklisted. with the smile slowly waning from my face as i read country after eligible country and not finding nigeria, i finally find one special line at the end: "In Africa, natives of Nigeria are not eligible for this year’s diversity program." i. don. die.

i wasn't even sad. it felt like the right thing for oyinbo people to do. our own is way too much. i have heard all the stories before, how by the age of 28 nigerian women with foreign citizenship living in the UK and US would have been twice divorced and on to the next "husband" who happens to be her biological cousin in ilesha, how nigerians go out at night to avoid running into the police, how nigerians forge documents, steal identities, pose as parents to children with foreign citizenship...the works. about time they stop us from entering their countries altogether, maybe then we will fish out the crooks amongst us and do the right thing for the 90% of upstanding nigerians who struggle everyday with a clean name and live within their means. i am getting tired of getting "the look" each time i show my passport to customs in foreign countries and how they spend additional time reviewing my documents than all the people who had gone before (Dubai and Turkey were the worst) and we can't push this one on the government.

We need to change before the world shuts all the doors against our elderly, students, infirmed and people with legitimate reasons to go to places where they can get the help or knowledge they need. nuff said. they better make us eligible by 2016 own sha or else the owner of the one room 'ULTIMATE visa and travel agent' near my house may resort to burgling my house when i'm away at work to feed his 6 children. abi? see y'all around peeps.

one for the blogger

so, inevitably I keep getting asked by people for tips on blogging. i'm sure I've given some thoughts in an earlier blog post in passing but with more and more people asking me the same question, i think I should devote a full blog post to this issue. blogging will bring attention, deal with that concept right off the bat. I was traveling the other day when I ran into an old acquaintance who was in mid conversation with a third person as I approached after my security check in at the airport. after we exchanged pleasantries, she moved to introduce me to her friend and surprisingly, the friend said she had heard my name before somewhere. I was just going to tell her that my name is quite popular if she has ever been to the south south part of Nigeria but didn't get the chance before she said "I think its just part of the name of a blog I used to read 'something oroque view or something'. I feigned ignorance and proceeded to change the topic because frankly I was afraid to hear her opinion about the blog, and the less she knew the better. its just shocking how far your thoughts when you splash them all over the internet...and splash them I do.

 if you're blogging for the fame and attention, then you will stop blogging in a few weeks when you realize that your life is not as interesting to others as you like to think it is. if you're blogging for money, even worse. except you're linda ikeja and bella naija, then park well (as my street friends would say). if you blog about something you're passionate about, you'll last for a few years because passions change and people grow plus a private blog will not sell whatever cause you are on about as much as a real advert. if you blog for yourself, then you are in for the long haul. someone once said to me that the hallmark of good blogging is not so much that you have something interesting to say, but that you have something to say.

so here are my tips for blogging:

1. the world is watching: and by this I mean the world literally. everyone from your ex, to your parents, pastors, boss, colleagues...everyone has access to the internet nowadays and pretty much will stumble on your blog. brace yourself for the impact. grow a thick skin really quickly and don't defend your opinion. just be clear to your family and friends that you have a right to an opinion, and they will usually respect it. avoid talking about identifiable things or people. no one wants to feel like they cant talk to you without expecting their stories to land on your blog. and oh before i forget, if (like me) you go on about how the church no longer represents what Christ stood for and all that and the'll need sunblock and dark shades when going for service to stave off the glares you'll get from the more upright members of the faith who so happen to have passed your views round during choir practice.

2. your boss might find it disturbing: blogging is like a hidden area of your life from the everyday you that your colleagues are used to. as with everyone else, you probably put on your game face at the office, keeping people at arm's length and just getting on with your work. imagine therefore when you talk about something really personal (your relationship, dog, family, church) targeted at your blog readers to whom you have a mental affinity only to have it all shared by your work friends. it can get awkward, especially where people start making reference to something you said on your blog over lunch. multiply this awkwardness by a million when you're on a 5 hour trip with your boss and he mentions that he has a different view about a subject you wrote about or wants to know why you called babies ugly.

3. avoid sex, politics and religion: you can never win any of these battles as they are the most subjective areas of human existence. as long as there will be the human race we will never agree on these issues, and setting a firm position on any is bound to embarrass you in the long run. plus you might run for political office in future and depending on the social trend of that time your views will turn around and bite you. also, it is petty for you to tackle a subject you are not an expert in. so if you're a Christian, don't attack muslim principles or demean them in any way. if you're married, leave single people alone and if you prefer opposition parties, feel free to talk about how they can improve their opposition of the ruling party but leave it be. besides, every religion besides your own has determined that you're going to hell anyways, so whaddaheck.

4. know your audience: studies show that women do more light reading than men. teenagers more than adults, mothers more than single ladies etc. there is no need alienating your base readers by being too high level with your expressions or always trying to start a gender war. it gets old real quick and you offend more people than you should care to. while we are at it, keep your thoughts succinct, respecting the fact that every second spent on your blog is a gift and people can be doing anything else in the world other than reading your thoughts on why a movie should have done better at the box office :: yawn::

5. get credibility: you only get credibility when you speak your mind. you only speak your mind, when you are able to express in words what others are thinking but wouldn't dare say. don't shy away from reasonable controversy. if you truly believe in something, then let it rip. I for one think parents talk about their kids wayyy too much like no one else has had one before, I also think that this generation is smarter than ours even though they focus on the most mundane things like miley cyrus and her blady twerking (I think we lost it focusing on history and geography and science and all those abstract things that are good to know but add no daily value), I feel that the pressure on single people to get married - like it is the cure for cancer - is completely unnecessary and I feel like the church is mind. point is, don't expect everyone to agree with you, but don't avoid issues altogether. your views come from the place you are in your life, and its okay for it to change as you grow.

finally, have fun. its not all that serious. its a damn blog not a nobel prize submission to cure world hunger. if you goof, fess up, say sorry and keep it moving. if you get praise, say thanks, do the chicken dance and keep it moving. overall, always keep it moving.

see y'all around peeps. blogging is an outlet for the mind, and its free. give it shot will ya...I promise to read and comment on your first blog post. promise.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

of countryside and soul journeys

so as part of my new found randomness, I upped and went to Abeokuta. just because. everytime i travel outside of nigeria on a personal trip, i find that i move around a lot. i want to see everywhere and go everywhere as far and wide as is possible. however, abeokuta is a few minutes from where i spent many years growing up and i have never crossed the border into the state. i doubt that the realization is unique to me. the truth is many people go to the "need to go" places in their lives. work, church, home, bar. they know that the country is bigger than just wuse zone 2 or ikoyi, but nothing takes them out of their routine to explore. growing up, my parents took us everywhere just because. i have been to yola, jos, kaduna, ibadan, uyo and many cities across nigeria as a result of this exploratory spirit. but times have changed. as civil servants, i assume that the work life balance that my parents enjoyed through the 80's is something that we can only dream about. fast-forward about 20-something years, and here i am struggling to balance my life at all in any way. waking up by 5.30am everyday and getting back by 9pm does not exactly leave one with any capacity to seek to explore. the original intention was to take a long drive to the country-side and let some breeze into my clogged mind. I ended up stopping at Ifo to buy NAFDAC un-approved bread that had literally just been removed from the oven a minute before we got there plus had been well covered with flies as we were trying to decide which particular one we wanted. I heard a different dialect of Yoruba that I hadn't heard since my days in university and saw a huge cement factory and things that I would otherwise not have averted my mind to.

and Abeokuta is amazing...slower, cleaner air, natural environment, local people with too much make-up, the works. it reminds me a lot about lokoja, where the local economy is made of small businesses and there is a direct correlation between the clients you are able to get and the next meal you are going to eat...and it is the perfect place to drop a sharp blog post.

excuses aside, there is so much to see in this country that it is unforgivable that people now do not even know how lokoja looks or that benin or enugu are huge towns that rival some of the areas in lagos. for those who are parents, today is a different world. you wont let your kids run around your compound or play with your neighbours, but you will save all year to let them go and run around a mall in Dubai for 3 days. just saying. anyway, the point i'm trying to make is that Nigeria is not name on a book. it is a collection of people so diverse that it will do you and your children good to appreciate it physically.

see y'all around peeps.

Friday, October 4, 2013

of status updates

unbelievably, the ASUU strike has gone on for longer than anyone in his right mind would have thought possible. the students are at home getting pregnant or trying to get someone pregnant. the lecturers are on leave hoping that this drags on for longer than necessary knowing fully well that their salaries remain untouched after everything. parents are at their wits end trying to keep hormone driven youngsters occupied...and I keep worrying that one of these idle hands will burgle my house while I am away at work one of these days simply because they have nothing better to do and bit of mischief is inevitable. o well. if the president can sleep at night with the country in this state, why not I? the populace is so tired that nothing bugs it anymore. we have been so pummeled by bad news and seemingly unending near crisis that when the news broke that a plane just crashed carrying dignitaries on board, more than half the people I know just read it and carried on working like they had just been informed there will be a children play in church on sunday. two things are responsible, we are yet to get over the shocking pictures of the 50 children killed while sleeping in yobe state, so this was an emotion overload. secondly, the plane was a private plane carrying government officials...a group of people that Nigerians feel a collective disconnect from. essentially it was a rich man's problem not worth anyone's second thought. it is really sad. making it worse is the fact that this is a year after the last major air disaster. we have indeed come to expect the worst. I have been inundated with requests by concerned fans of my blog trying to figure out what is responsible for the long silence. one word: work. I wish I could tell y'all everything but suffice to say that more is expected of me suddenly and in a sink-or-swim situation, one kicks as hard as possible to stay afloat. so, with the president trying to remain president in 2015, the security situation getting worse, schools out and medical doctors on yet another strike action, I guess we can summarize that the country is in good shape. same old same old. I hope to get my groove back on again blog-wise and this might take a little while. till then, stay safe y'all.