Monday, January 30, 2006

Monday blues..

At the weekend, I am fooled yet again. I see a bag of crisps in a clear plastic bag - just like the ones you get in Spain (they make the best crisps in the world). I know what to expect, but the hunt for a decent bag of Nigerian made crisps propels me forever onwards. The potatoes here are so lovely, so should the crisps be, so goes the melody of my hope. Of course, I was disappointed yet again: the oil was rancid (it always is). Nigerian crisp manufacturers seem to think they can cut costs by using the oil for far too long. When will they realise that cutting on quality and flavour like this is a false economy? Of course, its a trivial example, but it speaks of the "Idea la need" sloppy attitude that prevails. Then this morning, I tucked into Nigerian-made cornflakes for breakfast. Something was decidely wrong with the way they were made - the flakes were too small and greasy. Over the weekend, our internet connection stopped working (I am typing this from an extremely slow cyber cafe connection). We went to NITEL this morning. The well-nourished person behind the desk was chatting to her friend on the phone, ignoring all waiting customers. Eventually she deigned to come off the call. We first of all wanted a full print out of our bill - at over £100 per month, it seems extortionate. All we have to go on is a summary which could be hiding all kinds of errors. She said to come back next week - they have run out of toner. Perhaps next week there might be toner. Then she went back to another personal call. I do hope that with the privatisation of NITEL (in the next two months), she is among the first to be turfed out.

And so on and so on. If life is frustrating MOST of the time for me in my cosy Abuja bubble, how much more impossible is it for the woman on the Surulere omnibus? The trouble in each case (bad crisps, bad cornflakes, bad service etc) is inept/corrupt leadership, backed up by inept/corrupt business processes. Idea la need indeed. What we need is: Details la need.


Anonymous,  4:11 pm  


You used to be a bit more positive. Now you whinge too much.

Nigeria is not as developed as the UK or the States. Deal with it.If you don't like the nigerian cornflakes, make your own or better still munch museli.If you don't like the service you receive, set up a consultancy and train them. There are lots of things that can be improved in the country but whingeing about it won't help.

You're either part of the solution or part of the problem. Your choice That's my challenge to you.

Teju Cole 4:31 pm  


I take issue with your comment, anonymous.

Jeremy's post was not a whinge, it was a complaint, backed up by social critique. Life is hard in Nigeria, even for the well-cushioned. That's a point worth making time and time again.

Now, anonymous, I don't know who you are or what you do, but Mr Weate here is doing much more to make Nigeria better than most other people I've seen.

Part of that work is stating what's not good enough, so that we know what we have to do to improve it. Jeremy is part of the solution. Are you?

But Nigerians, I find, and I mean no disrespect by this, are simply unable to take anything but the rosy version of things. That same uncritical attitude goes from Oga President right down to anonymous internet commenters.

Anonymous,  4:44 pm  

Staying positive can be kinda of hard sometimes, don't you think? If this brother is usually positive, surely he should be allowed to "whinge" every now and again. To be positive all the time about Nigeria is a bit hard and it will also mean that one is not being truthful about the reality of our country. Whinging can also be a form of release. I must admit most Nigerians tend to whinge and do nothing about it. But this guy doesn't sound like a natural Whinger. Is he not the same guy behind Is he not the same guy that introduced me to the likes of black looks, the sensous poetry of Teju cole? contributed to bringing Chimanda Adichi (she of purple Hibsicus fame) to popular imagination? The guy who has just finished organising a Thinking training course? The same guy working with Abuja roadside gardners to organise them into a collective to a a film about the importance of gardening and green space in the city?

Aanonymous, I beg make you leave am alone to whinge small small. If we Nigerians can whinge, let him too. Even though I don't see his comment as a whinge - it is rather a critique of the make do mentality we are stuck in. Is it really too much to ask for a decent cornflakes? I don't think so . There are enough food technologists in the country for us to merit cornflakes that will not send us running to the dentist. Alas, the manufacturers know that we'll just accept it, shut up and be grateful that we have cornflakes at all. They know that if a dissenting voice rises amongst us, there will be a thousand tongued missiles ready to shoot/shout that voice down. The question to you anonymous is are you part of that thousand tongued missiles that is ready to mis-name dissent as whinging?


Cyblug 5:29 pm  

MR Anonymous,

Before he can set up a consultancy to train them they need to know there is a problem dont you think ?

Yes after a while the atmosphere in Nigeria can dampen even the most positive person in the world.

I sense Jeremy is at least Passionate
about Nigeria so in this instance he has my blessing to whinge if thats what you call it.

Over 20K a month for Internet connection that is not working and the attendant cannot get off her Geezm (GSM -Phone) to attend to a Customer.

Would she like it if she paid for the GSM and it wasn't working? could she maintain her phone without a Job?

Dont let me start....

Anonymous,  9:57 pm  


It's interesting, your transposing the fabled 'man on the Clapham Omnibus' to the Nigerian situation, giving us the 'Surulere Omnibus'. Jeremy, there's no Omnibus in Surulere...

I reason with a lot of what you are saying, but to expect crisps & cornflakes to taste exactly like they do in Britain - is an impossible wish. You also need to consider how it might sound sometimes, like all those British tourists who arrive in Timbuktu and want fish & chips.

On all the other stuff, I agree with you on the need for details.

mw 10:16 pm  

It's not a good day for me to be on the net, Jeremy. It keeps clapping out on me as I attempt to leave these comments. Just to say, don't know how that last comment of mine came out 'anonymous'... I clicked 'other'.

My connection's been temperamental. Anyway, it was moi.

Anonymous,  12:46 am  

Oh dear

I haven't laughed like this for a very long time. Some of the comments are extremely funny.

Anyway, my challenge still stands.

Jeremy we all know you love this country, even more than some nigerians and that was what impressed me about you. I'm a regular subscriber to your blog and your posts have become more and more negative.There's too much talk and not enough action. .

There's a social entrepreneurship summit going on at the WEF in Davos right now.I want to see you and others up there proposing practical innovative solutions that can empower the people of this country that need help.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime

Anonymous,  9:45 am  

i don't know whether it is negative, but more despair.

What about you, are you are DEVOS? I don't think Devos is the place to go for people who are real change agents.

Kemi,  12:02 pm  

anonymous @11.46 said
There's too much talk and not enough action.

It is quite obvious that this particlar "Anonymous" is someone that it doing too much talking and no action, yet accusing others of the same thing.

Right underneath the post you are criticizing is another one where Jeremy says he organised a seminar on "HOW TO THINK". A shame you couldn't be there as you obviously have a lot to learn in that department.

He is doing something. What are you doing?

Go to Davos koh, Go to Davos ni.
You think that Jeremy can just walk up to Bono and Bill Gates and Tony Blair and get an audience?

Are you for real?

I especially like the way you're desperately trying to exude nonchalance with your statement I haven't laughed like this for a very long time. Some of the comments are extremely funny.

I'm sure most of us remember the boy in school who did something stupid and annoyed everybody in the class. When they turned on him, he would pretend that their insults and harsh comments were funny and they didn't really hurt his feelings even though deep down he was dying of shame.

Get stuffed Anonymous. You can't even put your real name up here and you're talking stinky bullshit.

Anonymous,  12:39 pm  

abba kemi! always like your spunk (oops!) - say it as it is. My kinda of person. the likes of anonymous just like to moan, complain and accuse others of what they are not doing. To you anonymous whinger - tell us three things you are doing to improve nigeria or where ever you are located?

even if he can just walk to those drose, do you think he would want to?

to expect crisp and cornflakes to taste like they do in britain is not an impossibility. If ghana or uganda can them to taste like they do in the west why can't the 'giant of Africa'? Just goes to show that giants are big for nothing!


Jeremy 1:45 pm  

thanks Babs. MW: what is so difficult about making crips and cornflakes? Its lo-tech. Come to think of it, Nigeria also has beautiful tomatoes and mangos. So why do we not get sun-dried tomatoes and dried mangos here? The opportunity is, simple value-added refining to agricultural products would create jobs, an export market and more refined tastes here. The reason it doesnt happen is a) the challenges of infrastructure but more importantly b) the rent-seeking mentality of many Nigerians. A third factor is that Nigerians have gotten used to ultra low idea-la-need standards - drinking awful powdered milk and coffee, using MSG as a universal flavour enhancer - all things the West left behind eons ago. The trouble is, as soon as you start campaigning for higher standards in Nigeria (with food or otherwise), you are branded Western/colo etc. People start saying "we'll get there" knowing full well we wont.

Anonymous,  3:48 am  

You see that's the problem with's easier to throw insults than to actually think.Doesn't surprise me in the least.

I bother to write these comments because I'm passionate about nigeria and its place in the world. I see great promise and opportunities here.

The question was asked "well, what are you doing?" My answer is I'm encouraging debate and getting people to think differently.From great thoughts come great action.

Kemi,  11:37 am  

The question was asked "well, what are you doing?" My answer is I'm encouraging debate and getting people to think differently.From great thoughts come great action
If you really feel that is sufficient, then why do you criticize Jeremy and advise him to be part of the solution as you did in your first post.

He is encouraging debate right here, using his real name and writing about real experiences.

You are scuttling around his blog like a rat, and you can't even put your real name or your own blog address up so we can see these invisible debates that you're encouraging.

I sincerely hope that your attempt at "encouraging debate" are not the weak comments that you're posting here. If you have to use Jeremy's blog to make your comment and encourage debate, then it is Jeremy that is being the solution, not you.

Stop claiming other people's efforts.

Anonymous,  10:48 pm  

kemi, you are so spot on. Anon pls give us your blog url so that we can see how you are encouraging debate. Using jeremy's space to do so is not exactly your own effort is it? But of course this is not to take away from you and the rest of us who contribute to the debate bloggers like jeremy generate.

But if you think that debating is the beginning of action, why accuse j of doing precisely that?


Anonymous,  2:44 pm  

Kemi or whatever your name is, you're such an idiot and sound quite frustrated.

As usual, you miss the point but I'm not even going to bother explaining it to you because you probably won't understand what I'm talking about anyway.

So stay ignorant and good luck to you.

Kemi,  11:04 pm  

Kemi or whatever your name is,
It's my name. I am not ashamed to put it up, Mr. "Anonymous".

How ironic that the person who can't put his own name up is assuming my own is fake.

My comments are clear and lucid, yours are all over the place, so it's not a suprise that in the midst of your incoherent ramblings the best you can do is call me an idiot.

Jeremy knows me personally, as do many people who post on this site.

Your words mean nothing. Move on, and go and do something for your country, Mr. Anonymous mouth with no teeth.

Personal Development Secrets 9:33 pm  

Hi It is good to Whinge! A lot of people are in denial of whinging! I do not mean that everybody should whine for the sake of whining. However, it is good to let it off the chest, and move on!

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