Friday, August 31, 2007

Angela Davis in SA yesterday..

Angela Davis spoke at WITS in SA yesterday. Bibi and I reflected on the likelihood of Nigeria being capable of hosting such events. Sadly, probably not in our lifetime. The academic-cum-public intellectuals and institutions of this ilk are not yet born here.

Here's the blurb:

Oxford academic Theodore Zeldin argues that conversation is crucial if societies are to realize their full potential. His work spans across the social spectrum - from intimate relationships to the world of work and politics. One of his arguments is that women have changed the way we work and conduct politics. The Platform for Public Deliberation in collaboration with WISER has asked veteran activist and distinguished scholar Angela Davis to reflect on a career that spans over three decades of social justice activism to her current advocacy for the abolition of the prison system as dehumanizing. Our interest though lies in the ways that current debates about leadership in South Africa incorporate the values and styles that women bring to politics. What are those distinctive values and styles, beyond just the matter of one's gender? Can we find non-essentialising and non-patronising ways of speaking about those distinctive contributions? Do people like Deputy President Pumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille and the Independent Democrats' Patricia De Lille make a difference to our political culture simply because they are women, or because they bring different experiences, values and styles of leadership? Gender activist and scholar Nomboniso Gasa will lead the
discussion with the public after Davis's address, and bring the issues closer to current debates on gender and leadership.

Date: 30 August 2007
Time: 5:30 for 6:00 pm
Venue: Senate Room, 2nd floor Senate House, Wits University

This lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is unreserved.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Insecurity

The security situation in Nigeria seems to worsen day by day. If I hang out on the balcony in the evening, it isn't long before I hear gun shots somewhere. Stories of "house visits" are all too common. My sister-in-law nearly died yesterday on the road to Lafia - the armed robbers had the full kit - bullet proof vests, AK47s etc. All but the people in the van closest to the robbers ran into the bush. The driver of the van was nearly beaten to death and of course, all the passengers lost their valuables. It took an hour for the police to arrive, by which time the robbers of course had melted away. Apparently, the IG has banned police road blocks, depriving the rank and file of their usual means to make some loose change. No wonder some are turning to the other side. Its going to be a long struggle to clean things up..

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NNPC RIP

A potentially momentous (and long awaited) announcement yesterday - the NNPC will be no longer. The government's oil company is to be broken into five small pieces in the next six months.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Live duiker, for sale...

By the Yar'Adua Centre, instead of the usual fish being held up for sale, yesterday, a man held a baby duiker, cradled in his arms. The deer-like animal's large eyes bulged out, anthropomorphised into a human mix of hope and fear. A doe, for sale, for meat, something between veal and venison no doubt. Today, the animal will have been killed and digested, and no one would know. The space where the man stood and cradled the animal is now empty.

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Marital Technology...


An interesting perspective on marital relations appeared in a letter to the Daily Graphic, Ghana's highest selling daily, today. Thanks Abena for the email.. (Click to enlarge)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not the Nine O'Clock News - Soccer Hooligans

The tragedy in Liverpool threatens the category of the unspeakable: how can we comprehend a child shooting another child dead and casually cycling away?

I find myself responding with disbelief, and then, oddly enough, with humour. Sometimes tragedies beckon a 'homeopathic laughter'. I thought of this sketch...

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How to get Baba to read your newspaper

by Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo:


What is the use wasting newsprints and gallons of ink printing newspapers that the Chairman of the board of directors of the PDP (the greatest political party in Africa ) Chief Olusegun Okikiola Aremu Mathew Obasanjo, will not read? Think of it. What is the use, really? Why don’t you pack up and help save some forest?

If you must publish, you must make sure that the chairman reads it and not just use it in place of toilet roll. That is, if he is amongst the elite who are too civilized to use water. It is very important that the chairman reads your paper because for the PDP, winning election is a do or die affair while governing Nigeria is a family affair. And if the head of the family, his Excellency, Chief General Farmer Obasanjo, the Baba of all babas, does not read your newspaper, all the wonderful suggestions you are making on how to salvage Nigeria are like notes left for the wind.

Come to think of it, we now know why things did not go very well during the last eight years of Baba’s administration. Despite all the wonderful ideas in your newspapers, nothing was implemented. We use to think that Baba was just too stubborn. But no, he just was not reading. All you newspaper people were just like children praying to God in a language He does not understand.

So to avoid making the same mistakes again, here are the ways to get Baba, the messiah himself, to read your newspaper:

Rename Your Newspaper: We know that Baba reads newspapers. He just doesn’t read the Nigerian newspapers. So while printing your newspaper, print special editions and send them straight to Ota Farm. Turn your Apapa Sun newspaper into New York Sun. Turn the Ikeja Punch into London Punch. Turn the Oshodi Guardian into Tokyo Guardian. It is as simple as that. Once the name of a major city of the world is attached to your newspaper’s name, Baba will devour it as if it is eba and ewdu soup.

Reorganize your masthead: Name industrialist extraordinary, Aliko Dangote, the Chairman of your board of directors. Have Ojo Maduekwe as a contributing editor. Give Andrew Young a column in your newspaper. Let him write whatever he wants as long as he does not talk about the business of Goodwill International in Africa . If you really want to add jara to it, screw sport news, give Femi Fani-Kayode a back page column. Name it, the Final Word. Whatever you do, do not have hungry writers like Prof. Okey Ndibe writing for your newspaper. Instead, hire the well fed Chidi Amuta, the author of Babangida’s biography, The Prince of the Niger. Have him begin work quick quick on Baba’s definitive biography, The God on the Niger.

Move the page three girl to the front page. Be very selective on your choice of girls. Baba likes them young, spotless, with firm breast, skin as light as Kema’s, taller than Ngozi and just as skinny as Genevieve. Let them wear see-through gowns. No shimmy, please.

When you go to interview Baba, make sure you are wearing a khaki pants and monkey jacket, the type foreign correspondents of western media wear when they come to Africa . Also make sure your driver is a white man, your photographer a Chinese and your assistant, a pretty young girl from the same state where Stella came from, preferably in her early twenties.

Run a special feature titled the Animal Called Man. In it you can interview the likes of Andy Uba, Bode George, Ahmadu Ali, Lamidi Adedibu and other animals called men. Always begin your editorial with a Yoruba proverb. Write it in Yoruba and then translate. In your African news section, highlight how Baba tried several times, in several trips, over several years, to solve each and every problem of every African country. End each sad news piece with, “Baba told them so.”

When talking about the Obasanjo years, use word like reform, down stream deregulation, microeconomics, and nascent democracy. Make sure you show that Baba has intellect, class and political acumen. In fact, ignore the immodesty – declare him a genius. Note boldly that there are two kinds of African leaders – Obasanjo and the rest of them. Advertise his legacy in marbles, greatest quotes and crosswords. Remind ungrateful Nigerians that Baba was the one who brought them Soludo.

Whatever he does, whether he is picking up dollars from the wreck of another plane crash, do not publish a picture of an ugly local farmer wearing dull traditional attire in your paper. Such pictures are like mirrors to Baba. They remind him of something he wants to forget. And please ban these three words from the pages of your newspaper – Biafra , Biafran, and Biafraland.

If you must talk about Nigeria , start by pouring accolades on the father of modern Nigeria . No superlative is too much. The more you repeat it, the better it sounds. Never mention over 10,000 people killed from 1999 – 2007. Talk about $40 billion foreign debts paid without talking about the over $350 billion oil and gas windfall accrued at that time or the $550 million missing from NNPC account while Baba was acting as the oil minister with wonder boy, Andy.

You must dedicate a page of your paper to abusing the Lagos-Ibadan press and all their follies. Talk about how they do not respect elders. Mention how incongruent they are with the pulse of history. Make sure you remind your readers, as frequent as possible, that Lagos- Ibadan media axis is the real axis of evil. End that page by saying that history will vindicate the father of modern Nigeria .

Run a cartoon about a superhero named Okikiola who consults God daily and have saved Nigeria from untimely death thrice in the last three decades. Highlight his superpowers. Show him caning a policeman, chasing a reporter out of Ota Farm with a machete, and frightening armed robber with his black power juju bag. Draw him chasing Ojukwu all the way to Ivory Coast . Show him storming Radio Nigeria to grab Col. Dimka. Portray him holding Sani Abacha by the neck and dragging him out of Aso Rocks.

Allow advertisers to buy full pages of your newspaper to announce the death of Baba’s enemies like Orji Uzo Kalu (for Kalu death should come natural just as death comes to all his enemies whether at home – once you know where the bodies are buried and you are willing to rat Kalu out, you become a body, too), big mouth Balarabe Musa and defacto presidento, Babagana Kingibe.

Give each subscriber of your newspaper a sachet of Viagra. On your center-spread publish expo for Baba’s end of semester undergraduate examination. Never give Umaru Yar’Adua’s picture equal space with Baba’s.

Put on your front page that picture of the poor Igbo farm help shut and killed by Baba in the 80s for stealing eggs from his farm. Publish interviews of witnesses in Nigeria and abroad. Illustrate the story with a picture of Baba on horse back with a hand rifle hanging on his shoulder. Use Google map to point to the spot in the farm where the poor man was buried.

Now, that will get Baba’s attention.

Forget all these suggestions for they will not help you change Baba’s mind if you were amongst those tabloids who published the story that Baba’s father was an Igbo man, unless of course ori re ko dara!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Glancey on Rem


A fascinating interview with Rem Koolhaas in today's Guardian. Most interesting is the way he has spatialised his personal life..

But when oh when is the Lagos book coming out, and why all the delays?

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cannock Chase: genius loci


Cannock Chase is my original forest, an alpine space of intricate memories, the place where desire grew tall and swayed into the breeze. You see it if you take the Euston-Manchester Piccadilly train. Just a few minutes past Rugeley, the forest rises on a ridge on your right past the speeding window – the always silent telecoms transmission tower the tell-tale landmark.

In winter, it is a magical world of icicles and frost. Ponds lie frozen, inedible. The crow’s echo skids across the dead ice. Life is a slow crystalline, except for the funnelling breath of passing runners or mountain bikers.

In the summer the Chase turns purple, the heather sprouts colour in a fight of paint. As the eyes range across, forest gives way to a moorish aspect; as if the land cannot decide how northern it will yet become. The patches of purple link themselves in the body of my mind like ancient ivy - to another time and place. On another moor, a hundred miles to the north, she leaned back, woollen stockinged legs nestled amongst the coarse foliage, opening in subtle invitation… Then there are blackened bits, charcoal that crushes colour out of acres of trunk geometry. Man’s security against forest fires. And yet, everything that can burn, will burn, eventually.

The earliest times spent there were with Victoria, Granddad and Nana. We used to go for picnics on Milford Common. There was a Wimpy bar on the corner – its there today – what a triumph against time! We did not eat there; it was a desire that never transpired, and now cannot. I yearned to bite into beef and bap and that exotic thrill of the 1970s: French fries. Instead, we had tuna sandwiches and Walkers crisps and lemonade and victoria sandwich. Kites and kids fluttered about. Stafford accents mingled with Black Country and no one seemed to mind.

Around the same time, we were driven there in a Cortina Estate. It was Justin Jones’ birthday. His Dad took us on a winter outing, sledge in the back. It seemed like there were ten of us, but probably it was just six or even four, squeezed into the back seat and on top of the sledge. Justin’s Dad drove us up past Brocton and onto the Chase. He drove at speed across the icy rubble of the track, then pressed hard onto the brakes and turned. We skidded and swayed and screamed for joy. Then, we took the sledge out and took turns to scram down the hill. Those moments were timeless, yet full of time.

We were always beware in the summertime. Everyone knew it: the Chase had adders. We lived always in a snake-free world, but for the menace that wriggled hidden there. There were stories of people being bitten, being rushed to hospital. Did anyone ever die? The Chase was our very own tropical danger, latent with slithery malice.

A little later in the world’s unfolding, we used to go walking there with Mom and Dad, to the Stepping Stones at Seven Springs. The water was shallow, but still we scared ourselves by walking the gapped blocks of stone, perched above the flowing brown.

And then, the Big School. We were jostled close to nearly two hundred boys the same age, all on the verge of a hormonal abyss. On January afternoons colder than death, we’d have to cross country run. There were the sporty types, at the upper rim of petit bourgoise in the evenings and weekends, spriteing themselves forwards in Adidas tracksuits. Then there were the skanks, mostly from Penkridge, in over-sized hand-me-downs, lagging behind with a B&H or three. And there were the parked cars, with steamed up windows, that we’d jog by unannounced…

And then acne and exams kept me away for a couple of years. A hiatus, when the forest all but disappeared. My imagination went into hibernation. I became a badger, afraid of the light. There was menace in muscular form above ground. Time and land stretched forever outwards. Church Farm became an island in a lake of fear.

And then one day, it was spring again, and I had passed my driving test. To celebrate, I drove my mud brown Mark I Escort, Trevor, on a strip of the M6, from one junction to another. There was no higher ecstasy of freedom than that day. We upgraded to the Citroen Dyane, and life stretched out like an open road. A-levels were a quickening memory of mediocrity. Lee and I drove out to Spain – a part of Cannock Chase that reminded him of family times in Majorca. We made soulful jazz music together and wrapped ourselves around the little Stafford world we were leaving. The Chase woke up to me again. Thawed, above ground, the forest welcomed me back, branches pulling me in. I wandered through the oak forest, listening to the susurrus of leaves up above. I found myself stopping, head full of mystery.

One day, the Citroen Dyane died mysteriously. Vic and I next shared a Morris Traveller (we moved from one strange car to another in those days). My forays beyond the village had found fruit. Nesta and I met at the Colisseum. I took her one night to Cannock Chase. I’d made jelly, and had a coil of blue rope. I’m not sure what my intentions were, but they were decidedly pornographic. We parked the car and walked across the heather. The moon was full. After twenty minutes walk – I didn’t want us to be seen – I lay the blanket down. She stripped to French knickers, her skin lustrous in the moonlight. I had a sleeping bag. It was too small for us to get into together, so I unzipped it. We hugged and rolled into each other between the blanket and the sleeping bag, but still it was too damn cold. We didn’t even eat the jelly.

Fraught eroticism tinged my experiences of the forest at that time. I went for a solitary late night drive and spliff on the lane that leads from Brocton towards the cemeteries. Three cars were lined up in the lay by. As I drove past, I could see the windows were steamed up. I stopped and turned the car back, then turned the lights on full beam (there was a devil in me) and filled myself full of laughter. I could see rapid movement – a dress being adjusted, a recalcitrant bra strap, the car itself rocking from frantic activity. The branch manager with his secretary, and the slow rape of all good intention. I three-pointed back on myself and started away, only to see one of the cars’ lights were now on in my rear-view mirror. Sleeping policemen slowed me down – after clunking over each I’d roar away in second. The car was right behind me now. An angry man, or a cornered animal, or both - almost bumper close. How to lose him? I drove and drove, up to Stafford, onto the M6 to the North Stafford exit, then round the roundabout in a whirr. Still he followed me. Back down the M6, all the way to Walsall, before he and the ghost gave each other up. I imagined a secretary, placating, pleading from the passenger seat, my guilty saviour from a vicious pummelling.

Other times were calm. Kathryn and I went to the small lake and sat in the dark inside the bird watchers’ hut, staring uncertainly out on our future. I spent hours alone, back amongst the rare old oaks, turning the wind into a symphony of leaves. Often, I was moved close to tears by the simple sound’s majesty. Close enough by, the veterans and the young men lay buried in serried ranks still, from wars both pointless and full of point. The telecoms tower looming close, technology beyond the firs.

Cannock Chase. A forest full of memories for a forest full of people.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

PHC living

Fabulous bit of writing here about life right now in Port Harcourt.

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On fundamentalism

Maybe its because I'm sad, maybe its because I currently live in the tropical Milton Keynes that is Abuja - but I faithfully watched all three episodes of Christiane Amanpour's God's Warriors series on CNN this week. As the days wore on, the irritation bubbled up under a bunsen burner of inanity. This was a Disney-lite take on fundamentalism. The first episode, on Jewish fundamentalism, completely failed to provide a historical context to extreme right-wing Jewish thought, said nothing about the origins of Zionism, sephardism vs hasidism etc., and focused on interviews with a tiny group of opinioneers. It didn't touch on the real Israeli terrorists - Mossad and its bloody history (see the film Munich for a sampler of what they've been up to all these years). All we got was some random settlers wailing on about how much they loved the particular isthmus of Abraham's land they'd parked their trailer. If only they could see it was also Ibrahim's land they were emoting excessively over..

Day two, on Islamic fundamentalism, was arguably even more superficial and ahistorical. Rather than look at the origins of Wahabism (with Ibn Abd al-Wahab in the C18th), Amanpour informed us imperiously that Year Zero of Islamic extremism began with the travails of Sayyid Qutb, shocked at all that America was in the 1950s. By this episode, it was clear that CNN's highest paid journalist's target audience was really the US (narcissus and the ad industry making whoopee). It was easy to spot the 5 minute chunks each show had been broken into for the caffeinated goldfish attention-span of a US audience - which had been glued back together somewhat clunkily for us, the non-goldfish-consciousness world.

The final show (aired this evening), on Christian fundamenalism, descended into farce. There was no mention of the Crusades - the original Christian fundamentalism - arguably far more violent than today's Islamism. Instead, we had Christiane jetting from one corner of the States to the next, interviewing various evangelical fruitcakes of one confection or another, including Jerry Falwell (who is probably sitting on a mini-throne right now, giving God advice about 2008). If only she'd dared traipse all the way to Nigeria, to see the biggest purveyors of evangelical magic on the planet...

Lest we forget: one doesn't watch CNN to be informed or enlightened. It's more like snooping in on a circus, with tight-rope walkers balancing fiction in one hand with non-truth in the other, following (historical reality) contortionists, in Ted Turner's phantasmagorical Big Top. Yeehaa!

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Felabration - Press Release

August 24th, 2007. Lagos, Nigeria
This year marks the 10th year anniversary of the death of the founder of Afro beat, Fela Kuti and it is being celebrated in his home country, Nigeria in a very big way. Poet, Philosopher, Rebel, King, Fela meant a lot of things to different people and was a man of the people. This event will celebrate his music, his life, and all the many truths he shared with his fans in his music and his life.

While there are several events planned around the world, by various organizations, to mark the 10-year anniversary of Fela's death, FELABRATION 10 will be the only one taking place in Nigeria, at the Shrine in Lagos (Fela's spiritual home) and hosted by the Kuti family. FELABRATION will be the only authentic, all-encompassing event to mark the life and death of one of the world's truly original artists.

The event which has been tagged "FELABRATION 10" is a 5-day celebration of Fela's life, music and spirit holds from the 9th-16th of October 2007. The events scheduled include:

Tue October 9th: World Movie Premiere of the previously unreleased special movie of Fela Shuffering and Shmiling and Kick Off Party featuring celebrity DJ, Koffi

Wed October10th: Ladies Night. A day dedicated to the ladies to celebrate Fela featuring special performances by frontline Nigerian female artists such as Zeal, Sasha, Niyola, Asa and many more.

Thursday October 11th: Classics and Yabis night featuring Veteran artists like Fatai Rolling Dollars and Victor Olaiya with ace comedians, Basket Mouth, Tee A and Julius Agwu handling the Yabis special. (Don?t forget Baba inspired most of the frontline comedians as a grand Yabis Master himself)


Friday October12th: Fela is Hip Hop featuring International hip hop artist, Nas as well as top Nigerian hip hop stars such as Mode 9, Ikechukwu, Naeto C, Thoroughbreds and Lord of Ajasa
have already been confirmed to celebrate Fela, the hip hop way! (More to come)


Saturday October 13th: Block Party. All roads lead to the Shrine for a Street Party featuring Damian Marley and most of the big names in Nigeria's music industry.


Sunday October 14th: Fashion for Fela by award winning designer, Deola Sagoe featuring International models Oluchi, Agbani and Nnenna amongst many others. This will be followed by special performances by Femi and Seun Kuti.


Monday October 15th: All day Free feeding at the Shrine by the United Nations World Food Project (UNWFP)


Tuesday October 16th: Music Business Conference. The conference will be held in honour of Fela with an aim to elevate the Nigerian music industry. The event will join major businesses, major players in the industry as well as International resource people. Issues such as piracy, distribution, broadcast, new technologies, international markets, regional markets, corporate support, the power of music to drive youth marketing and brands will be dealt with.

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Patricia Etteh, party girl...

The story of House Speaker (and hairdresser) Patricia Etteh's planned birthday party (which some say is costing the tax payer US90,000) this evening in Bowie, Maryland, has been gathering dust clouds of discontent for the past week or so. Following on from the news that N628m of public money is alleged to have been contracted to renovate her official residence and that of the Deputy Speaker, the word 'impeachment' has started to float around. It has not been a flying start for the Legislature, 80% of whom are rookies. For more on the controversy, read this.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why you should give blood - please circulate

Hello,

Please help me save lives.

How?
By donating blood.

Why?
Because people are dying daily from unavailability of blood. And it is not for want of our trying.

A high percentage of maternal deaths (i.e. death during pregnancy and childbirth) is as a result of bleeding that could easily have been treated by prompt blood transfusion. Just last weekend, I had 2 very ill women who needed blood, whose blood group was not available in the hospital. It was only by the vigilance of the head of haematology (blood services) who called all over the state to get blood that these women's lives were saved. I have hundreds more of such
stories of women who were not so lucky.

How can you help?
Please make a date to come and give blood. A healthy adult can give a pint of blood (500ml or one third of a big bottle of Eva water) every 6 months with no problems whatsoever.

Also, please mobilise friends, family, employees, colleagues, church members, mosque members, etc to donate now AND REGULARLY. The muslim associations in the Luth community are excellent and donate blood on a regular basis.

Will it disturb your schedule and is it safe? It takes less than 45 minutes and is also done on a
Saturday. The hours are Monday - Saturday 8am to 6pm, Blood Bank Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos. If you can organise more than 10 people in your location, arrangements can be made for people to come out to your office, etc.

I gave blood on Wednesday the 22nd and i went on to continue working for the rest of the day. You need to drink a lot of fluid after and refrain from strenous exercise or activity. The only discomfort is the slight pain from an initial finger prick (to ascertain you have enough blood in you) and the needle that goes into your to take the blood. I am sure you will agree that the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.

Sorry about the long email but please give your blood and save lives. Because you can.

Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you.

Bosede

Dr Bosede B Afolabi
Consultant/Senior Lecturer
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
College of Medicine/Lagos University Teaching Hospital
Lagos, Nigeria.
bosedeafolabi2003@yahoo.com

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Identity fraud

As ever, a tiny percentage of Nigerians do their utmost to give everyone else a bad name, and sink the value of the green kpali ever further into the mire. Here is a particularly sad example of identity theft in the UK. It will be interesting to see how much of the UK2m investigators can recover from Nigerian banks where the money was deposited. How despicable that Oriyomi and Tunde Williams made money out of dead babies.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nigerian literature blogs

A couple of good blogs which focus on Nigerian literature:

Sumaila Isah Umaisha's Everythin Literature
Ibrahim Sheme's Bahaushe Mai Ban Haushi

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kannywood's Show of Shame

Anyone know if the Usman clip is on You Tube/You Porn yet? A friend sent me the story yesterday (not sure of the source):

"Mass Expulsion Rocks Kannywood
•Over 20 Superstars Sent Packing
•Confusion Bedevils Yet To Be Released Films
...Filming BANNED in Kano

Following the emergence of a video clip recently portraying Maryam Usman (Hiyana) having steamy sex with her boyfriend, a Lagos based bureau de-change operator simply identified as Usman Bobo. The clip was recorded by the man sometime last year. Sources told Leadership Weekend that it was because he wanted to boost his image before his colleagues that he showed them the clip to prove to them that he has an intimate relationship with the Hausa film’s upcoming star.

The sudden release of the clip brought a lot of controversies to the industry. Kano, being the heart of Kannywood, was raging with turmoil. Some Islamic scholars quickly called for the immediate apprehension of the culprits in order to ensure sanity in the industry, while others advised that a special prayer session be organised to arrest the unfortunuate incident. On the other hand, some condemned Hiyana and called on the state government to ban all activities relating to film production in and around the state, claiming that the films were out to ridicule the moral teachings of Islam and the rich cultural heritage of the Hausa community.

However, the chairman of Kaduna State Film Makers, Alhaji Sa'idu Gwanja, quickly summoned his members to an emergency closed door meeting. At the meeting, which lasted for hours, where a special screening committee was set up to be chaired by Alhaji Ibrahim Mandawari. The committee was given a mandate to immediately investigate and ban any actor found guilty of committing any offence in the industry.

A few hours after its commissioning, the committee chairman announced the names of some of the actors to be expelled. Top on the list were Maryam Usman (Hiyana), Kubra Dacko, Safiya Musa, Zahiyya Sulaiman, Fati Usman (Slow Motion), Hafsat Yadilan, Ummi Nuhu and Muhibbat Abdulsalam. Others are Maijidda Abbas, Ummi Ibrahim (Zeezee), Sa’adiya Mohammed (Yarari), Farida Jalal, Hannatu Umar, Hajiya Zainab, Shamsiyya Habib (Kansakali) and Mahe Ibrahim.

The list also includes Hauwa Rafin Dadi, Fati Fale-Fale, Ismuha and Auwal Isa (West). Some people were placed on suspension, pending when a clear judgement is passed on them. They are Hassan Giggs, Baba Karami, Abba El-Mustapha and Kabiru Gwangwazo (A-Rayu).

Already, the Kano State Censorship Board has announced that it will not censor any film that casted any of the affected persons. In another development, the government, in conjunction with Kano State Film Makers, has banned any act of film making in the state until further notice. This means that no actor is allowed to take part in production or filming activities within and outside Kano State.

Shortly after the announcement, the chairman of Kano State Film Makers, Alhaji Sa’idu Gwanja, in a press conference, assured journalists that his organisation will leave no stone unturned in order to investigate and deal with all the bad eggs among the actors. He said the committee has been given a free hand to perform its duties. Hear him, "It is an unfortunate incident, we pray to Almighty Allah to help us take care of the problem. I strongly blame some businessmen and top government officials who lavish the actresses with money, just to satisfy their personal cravings. I want to assure you that we are out to sanitise the industry."

Also commenting shortly after the commissioning, the committee's secretary, Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Sarari, said the committee has come to cleanse the entire industry and assured the general public that every member will be scrutinised and if found guilty, expelled.

Already, the 23 year old actress, Hiyana, was said to have been taken to an unknown destination by her fiance, who is presently making all necessary arrangements for their wedding. He was quoted to have said, "I don't care about the scandal. All I know is that I love Maryam and I will marry her. Look, let me tell you, even if all the men in Kano have slept with her, I will still marry her. I love her for who she is." The lover boy took the decision to take her away from Kano in an attempt to protect her from the threats and deluge of rage that followed the emergence of the 'film.'

Already, an average home in Kano and Kaduna States has seen the 8 minute video clip. From Tafawa Balewa local government of Bauchi state, Maryam Usman joined the Hausa film industry two years ago. Her mentor, Ali Nuhu, tried all he could to bring her to the limelight, which is part of the reasons why he gave her the lead role in his film, Hiyana. Immediately after the release of the film, Maryam's stars began to shine and she joined the clique of stars like Fati Mohammed, Safiya Musa and Kubra Dacko and others.

The special committee set up was to mastermind all affairs related to film making in the state henceforth. People have started commenting on the objectives of the committee. The chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Mandawari, vowed to work tirelesly in order to restore sanity and do away with vices in the industry. He said in a swift reaction to questions by journalists immediately after the commissioning of his committee, "We are going to fight all acts of indiscipline in Kannywood. Anybody who interferes or threatens to sabotage our efforts will be dealt with. The unfortunate incident that happened to Maryam Hiyana is a lesson to all and I believe she is now regretting her action. We have to take dire measures against any future reoccurrence."

To all Kannywood stakeholders, the time has come for the survival of the fittest."

Given that 'the average home in Kano and Kaduna States has seen the 8 minute clip' it seems there is a ready (and waiting) market for Hausa porn...

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Monday, August 20, 2007

At last: some resistance to the Lagos 'Indecent dressing' nonsense

PRESS RELEASE

August 15, 2007

WORNACO CONDEMNS THE ARBITRARY ARREST OF WOMEN ON LAGOS STREET OVER “INDECENT DRESSING”

The Women's Organization For representation and National Cohesion (WORNACO), condemns in strong terms the continued arrest of women on the street of Lagos.

According to the National Coordinator of WORNACO, Ms Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, “the arrest is unconstitutional and a clear evidence of gender targeted rights violation”. She noted further that, “with the facts at hand, over 90 women were arraigned before various Magistrate Courts at the Ikeja District on the 25th day of July 2007, while some of them were able to meet up with the condition of bail, over 80 women were reprimanded at the Kirikiri maximum prison. This development to us is quite disturbing. Women can no longer walk freely on the streets of Lagos for fear of being labeled and arrested by supposedly over zealous Lagos State Task Force”.

Ms Abiola Akiyode stated further that “While the reason for the continued arrest of ladies is due to their mode of dressing called dress code. The recent method of indiscriminate arrest of women by the joint task force is alarming as victim are constantly extorted while those who do not have money or insisted on their right are taken to a magistrate court and charge with public disorderly conduct. Those who were released were made to pay twenty thousand naira (N20,000.00) to the judiciary department, Lagos State Government, to us this is nothing but official extortion!”

While the Government of Lagos state and the Commissioner of Police have denied their involvement in the arrest of these women, we believe that as custodian of law and order in the state, they have a duty to protect all without any form of discrimination.

We therefore in one voice call on the Lagos State Government to take decisive steps to stop these arbitrary arrests. WORNACO is poised to take all legal means which include but not limited to rallies, protest and court action to protect women and girls on the street of Lagos from further embarrassments. WE HAVE WARNED!


Eyitope Success Adekunle
Program Officer
Signed.

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The revaluation of the naira

I just don't get the brouhaha over Soludo's plan to revalue the naira (chopping of two zeros), as part of turning the naira into a convertible currency. Is it really that people with lots of zeros in their bank account think he is going to make them two decimal places poorer over night? Haba, such stupidity. Meanwhile, little Ghana went ahead and revalued a month or so ago (chopping off even more digits), with no such fuss..

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1000 memories: doing the bins

In the summer of 1989 I was back at home from Hull, looking for work. The only job the temp agency could find for me was doing the bins in Wolverhampton. I cycled the ten miles or so to get to work by 8am. After clocking in and a cup of sweet tea with the men, I was assigned a truck. With three other blokes, we trawled around the unlovely suburbs of Wolverhampton. Some of the estates had received the new wheelie bins, which were easy to load – you simply slotted the bin onto a lift mechanism, which quickly sprung the bin up and tipped its contents into the back of the truck. On other estates, the old wide bins with corrugated sides were still in use. You had to lift the bin by its side handle onto your shoulder, and then tip it over. The done thing was to do two at once, with a bin on either shoulder. Sometimes these bins were overflowing, and some of the rubbish fell onto the overalls. It was well that the smell of the rubbish disappeared as your nose grew accustomed to the odour.

The 11am tea break was heavenly – already after two or three hours of continuous walking and lifting behind the grunting chewing truck, the body had started to tire. We’d sit in the cabin and sip more sugary tea from flasks and eat digestives. It was at these times I started to get to know my fellow workers. One of the men was a pigeon fancier; another was a horses man, dreaming of the bookies. They all talked in a thick Wolverhampton accent – similar to the Brummie accent but flatter, more chipped, less sing-songy. I found myself walking with one of the men quite frequently – his name was Jeff. He was an inspiration: a real nature lover. He noticed all the different plants and shrubs in people’s gardens, admiring the butterflies around a buddleah. He’d also be careful to store the scrap metal – from old bikes, poles and the like – on a shelf underneath the side of the truck. The men would sell it off at the end of the shift to a scrap dealer – an incentivised form of recycling the bosses probably turned a helpful blind eye to.

After three weeks, I had grown used to the job, and enjoyed it – learning to understand people’s lives by the shit they dumped. Sometimes, tipping the old bins, the most disgusting gunk would fall onto our overalls – rancid meat infested with maggots, sanitary towels, condoms. It’s funny how these things stopped being shocking or offensive after a while. There was colour, there was movement and there was all of humanity in the crap.

When my contract ended, I was sorry to leave. It was one stage in the way of learning an almost too simple truth: its not the job you do, it’s the way that you do it. Even lifting bins can lead to inner peace and happiness.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bibi


As seen by Teju Cole...

Usman Dam, December 2005.

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This is Lagos


The building that collapsed a year or so ago in Lagos Island is still as it was just after the tired invisible giant decided to sit down and rest awhile...

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Shaks 24/7

Shaks 24/7 is a home-delivery upmarket drinks service for downtown Lagos - allowing you to buy booze at any time of day or night. There's an interesting case study on the business here. They plan on branching out to Abuja and PHC. It's a shame they didn't do a spell-check on the website..

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Binyavanga in trouble..

A recent writing workshop in Lagos sponsored by Fidelity Bank had Chimamanda Adichie as the lead tutor, with Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina in support. This post takes issue with the 5-star treatment accorded to the Kenyan by the bank, with good reason. In an essay entitled How Not to Write About Africa (published in 2005 in Granta), Wainaina had the wisdom to write:

“The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona)”. (p93)

The only possible defence is that throughout the essay, he is assuming the sardonic pretext of an experienced colonial hack providing advice to a novice - therefore the quote is only damaging when yanked from context. The question begged remains: is this Wainaina's idea of how to write about Africa - by writing about how not to write about it? Uche Nworah calls for an apology from Wainaina for the slur.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Bowoto vs Chevron

Potentially landmark legal case coming up in the States. See here. Thanks Giles for the link.

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Choice Yahoo Yahoo

A friend was sent this today. This is clearly someone starting out in the cyber-cafe, yet to receive full letter-writing training:

From Mr. Alex Cole.
553 East Trent Blvd., North London
London, UK.
Hello Dear Friend,

Good day to you, I greet you in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, My name is Mr. Alex Cole, I'm artist by profession, I'm a British Citizen and I base in London United Kingdom UK, I'm married with 3kids. I got your email address on the British Chamber of Commerce and I decided to contact you.

Actually I'm looking for a representative in UNITED STATES OF AMERIC USA,I'm searching for a reliable person in AMERICA to be my partner, I need someone who can be receiving payment on my behalf as my representative in AMERICA, I always find it very difficult to receive money/payment from my customers in AMERICA, because my customers are companies, and companies always like to pay with their company checks, and here in London United Kingdom UK, These Companies checks are not accepted here in London and they cannot be cashed here, So I'm finding it very difficult to collect my money/payments from my customers, so therefore I'm searching for a honest person who can be receiving funds/payment in AMERICA on my behalf.

This offer won't effect your present work, it has nothing to do with your present work, and you will be earning $2000.00 every Friday of the week,because I have many customers in AMERICA, At least you will earn $2000.00 per week as your salary, and for your information. You won't involve your money in this job, not even a dime, you won't spend any money from your pocket in this offer, and all the expenses will be from me. You don't have anything to loose.

If you are interested, all I need from you are the information's below
to enable us start immediately,
the information's are:
1. Your Complete Full Names.
2: Your House Address.
3: Your House Phone.
4: Your Age.
5: Your Profession.

If you would prefer I could get a p.o. box for my mail. Let me know! As soon as I receive the above details from you, I will have all my customers to send payments to you as my AMERICAN REPRESENTATIVE, you will be receiving cash on my behalf, Remember that you won't involve any of your money in this offer, I will take care of all the expenses ok, so you don't have anything to worry.Kindly email me immediately you receive this mail, I will be waiting for your soonest reply, Thanks for understanding and have a nice day.
Mr. Alex Cole.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Christine Ben-Ameh's First Chance winner

FEMALE singer, Christine Ben- Ameh, finally emerged winner of Nokia First Chance, the music reality television show in search of a true Nigerian voice to represent the country in the world of entertainment.

She beat fellow contestant, Justina Ogunlolu, to the second place in the show that began with 12 finalists who were selected from a field of thousands of aspiring entertainers who jostled to have a chance at an international music career.

An ecstatic Christine, whose parents also attended the final show at the Sigma Club in Lagos, said: "I may not have been the best all round but I believed in myself all the way. I am happy to be chosen as that true voice that will represent Nigeria on the global scene. I look forward to the next level."

She thanked the organiser for believing in the potentials of Nigerian youth and investing in their dream to conquer the world. "I also want to thank my parents who have been wonderful as well as the good people of Benue State; they were amazing with their votes and it's a good feeling," she said.

Nokia Channel Marketing Manager Lagos, Ghana and Liberia, Ms. Beatrice Olumhense, congratulated Christine on her victory, which she described as "well-deserved after all the hard work." She also paid compliments to the creativity of other contestants, saying, "Nokia commends the competitive spirit of everyone that has taken part in this show and we believe that the horizon is bright for all of you."

Olumhense commended the efforts of the judges - Ifeoma Williams, Jazz Black and Yinka Davies - as well as Nigerian designer, Wale Adeyemi and the management of DaWorks Music and Reflux Ltd for their contributions to making the show a success.

The Manager Reflux Production, Segun Giwa, said: "It has been a long journey, but we thank God we produced a winner, in whose talent we believe, stressing, "Without the support of our major sponsor, Nokia and others like shoreline, Virgin Nigeria and UNIC Insurance, we would not have made this a reality."

The final episode of Nokia First Chance, which about three hours, featured performers like GT and Ikechukwu who wowed the crowd with their hit songs Dreamers and Ikechukwu.

Christine Ben Ameh went home with N1m prize money and a sign-on album deal which will be produced internationally by Daworks Records. Supporting prizes include return tickets to London, a Nokia mobile phone, endorsement deals and performance with an international artiste in concert scheduled to hold later this year.

From The Guardian Nigeria..

Cassava Republic Featured Christine on the Diana Evans tour. Long may she rise and sing sweetly..

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Big Brother Africa


Someone sent me some images from the ongoing Big Brother Africa programme today. It looks like the pics have been doing the rounds, with Outraged of Surulere competing with shrill protestations with Shocked of Enugu.

I don't see what all the fuss is about. The women were filmed in their private space, and have towels hiding most of their bodies. The one on the left even seems to be half covering her breast in an attempt at modesty.

More interesting than the pictures themselves are the reactions to them. It seems to me that the outcry stems from a mixture of moral hypocrisy and repressed sexuality (the two are related). Whereas I see a perfectly usual locker-room type image and barely bat an eyelid, I can't help imagining those who are outraged are at least in small part secretly aroused - and that their response is a confused attempt to abolish their desire in the name of organised religion. And yet: is it really immoral for images of naked women to be represented in mass media - especially given there is no sexual theme at work? Doesn't the response suggest some form of alienation is operating in the collective pysche? After all, many African cultures embraced varying degrees of nudity, and some still do, even in Nigeria. Do we really want to join hands with an age old colonial attitude that such practices are outdated and/or shameful? Must humans have clothes on to be seen as moral beings?

Ultimately, if we cannot accept our own nudity, without immediately sexualising it and then proscribing it, can we ever fully accept our own humanity?

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Obasanjo still President

At least, according to the National Planning Commission website as of today. Thanks PK for spotting it.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lagos Transport update

From today's Guardian Nayjeeria:

Lagos to boost water transportation with seven routes

By Ajibola Amzat
ALL the major waterways are to be developed by the Lagos State government to ease congestion on the roads.

Already, the state government has identified seven routes on the waterways, which it plans to develop to achieve mass movement of the residents to their offices and business places.

The routes are Badore - Marina, Ijede - Ipakodo (Ikorodu), Oworonsoki-Elegbeta-Marina, (LASU) - Mile 2, Oke Afa - Festac, Mile 2 - Marina and Ikorodu - Marina.

At the luncheon organised by the alumni of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Ibadan in his honour, the Commissioner for Transport, Professor Bamidele Abiona Badejo, said that road alone cannot solve the problem of transportation. The new routes, he said, would go a long way in solving the problem of commuting in the metropolis.

Badejo said that the dredging of the routes though took off during the administration of former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, but much of the work was yet to be done. He assured Lagos residents that more efforts would be committed to complete the exercise and make the new routes work.

According to him, the government has formed a transport advisory committee to give administration feedback on the state of traffic in the state.

Badejo, who declared his intention to make the roads free of traffic snarl within a short time, said that the trunk terminal at Orile had been opened for use by tanker drivers. "We have asked the tanker drivers to park their vehicles at the terminal to give other motorists chance to move," he said.

The terminal, he said, can accommodate 500 tankers, "so also we are setting up parks where other vehicles owners can park their vehicles, we need to make transport flow well in Lagos."

On the problem of over population, Badejo lamented the dearth of Government Reserved Areas (GRA), saying that there was a need to build more of such estates in the state. "Lagos being the sixth most populated city on earth should have several GRAs in order to reduce the high density in the state. There should be GRA in Ikorodu, in Mile 2, in Ipaja area and others."

The chairman of the event, Professor Kunle Adeniji advised government to focus less on road transportation, especially in populated states like Lagos.

Adeniji said any state having up to 17 million people requires rail transport system.

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Dreaming of Jos

and all the good things that spill forth from the Jos soil. Here is Norma's weekly vegetable order:

Hello customers,

We had one nice day last week (on Saturday) with lots of sun, and no rain. It was lovely. But by Sunday morning the rain was back. We are still struggling with the weather, and still hoping for a real break in the rain (which sometimes happens in August). On the brighter side, although it is still cloudy and damp, the amount of rain we had last week seems to have diminished a bit, with only a couple of heavy downpours.

In anticipation of a break, we are preparing beds for new plantings of courgettes, beans and other items. Meanwhile, the veggies are managing to survive, and we should have a reasonable amount and variety to supply for next week.

For next week, there are some changes in the availability lists.

Our new Bok Choi (small size) is coming on stream and is ready to pick. We also have some nice Chinese cabbage (Napa type). Green cabbage is also very good and fresh. However, our present batch of red cabbage is finished, and there will not be any available for a few weeks until the new batch is ready. Other items available by way of greens include sorrel, kale and collard greens. There is also a limited quantity of spinach, which really doesn’t do well in the rains. We are just managing to keep some of the plots producing, but we never know how much we will be able to pick because this depends on how heavy the rains have been.

Broccoli is doing surprisingly well, probably because it enjoys the cooler weather, although sometimes the rain tends to rot the heads. The heads also do not grow as large as they do in the dry season. But we should have some to supply – order early if you need it, and we will probably have to ration to half kg per customer, as there is never enough to go around.

The new courgette beds have also started producing, and we should be able to get a limited amount for next week. The older batches had been spoiled by the rain, and for the past few weeks we have not been able to pick more than a couple of kilos. But we have been planting continuously, and the new plants should start to produce a reasonable amount by next week. However, we still have no yellow courgettes, and very little cousa (light green Mid Eastern type). We have planted more of these, and hopefully there should be some in a few weeks time. Still no winter squash, as these take much longer to mature, and our previous batch had rotted before they had a chance to get ripe.

The lettuce situation continues pretty much as it has been – we have very little red lettuce, and for supply there are mostly green, leafy types. There is also some iceberg. As we noted in previous newsletters, we have to pick the lettuce when it is quite young to avoid rain damage, so the heads are quite light. In fact, it is more like baby lettuce, rather than the very large heads we tend to get in the dry season.

For next week we should have some endive frisee and also a bit of escarole. We had thought our new radicchio would be ready, but I think the lack of sun is affecting it, and it has not started making large heads, so we will probably have none to supply.

Beef tomatoes are still fine and available. We are in between batches of cherry tomatoes – the old batch has finished, and the new ones in the greenhouse are producing but the fruits are still not ripe. I think they will take about two weeks before we can start picking. (Timing of maturity of vegetables is very difficult this time of year because of the sunless and cold conditions – things don’t ripen as fast as they should). Reasonable plum tomatoes are also available.

Aubergines are doing well, and we have them in good quantity – black, Italian purple and striped varieties are available.

There are nice leeks, spring onions and radishes available, and most of our herbs are still good with the exception of Genovese basil, tarragon and thyme. Other basils are available, along with other herb varieties.

We are starting to plant specialized peppers (coloured bells, Italian, Hungarian, and a couple of types of chili pepper) against the next dry season. They take many months to produce, and don’t do well in the rains. However, if we plant now, we should hopefully expect to be able to pick by the time the drier and warmer weather arrives. Meanwhile, we have only green bell peppers to supply, and a few Jalapenos.

Beetroots are a problem during the rains, and are in limited supply at the moment. However, we have started picking our new carrots, and they are quite tasty despite the wet weather.

Celery will be in limited supply. What is available is new and young and rather small, but the new batch should be mature in a couple of weeks. Celery takes several months to grow to full size, and big heads are not available now.

Our fennel crop is finally mature enough to pick, and we should have reasonable amounts for next week.

Pickling cucumbers and salad types are available and lovely, since they thrive in the rains.

Still no oyster mushrooms – they are not likely to be available for some weeks. We will let you know when production has resumed.

White onions continue to be a problem – they tend to get mouldy in the damp weather. If we can source nice ones we will supply. If you order white onions, let us know if we can substitute red ones in case we can get good white ones.

Nicola potatoes are beautiful right now, and all sizes are available. Let us know what you need. Last week we had supplied some of the red skinned floury potatoes for mashing, and advertised that they would be available. However, over the weekend when we went to the potato market we found that they had completely disappeared. I can’t predict whether we will be able to get them again or not, since they are produced in small quantity, and are available for only a few weeks in the year. If you need them you can order, but we can’t guarantee to supply them. There should be some still around, and we will keep looking.

For details of availability of other items, please consult the lists below. If you need a price list, let me know and I will send you one. Prices continue unchanged from the list I sent earlier in the month.

Thank you all for your cooperation and patience during this rainy season, the worst time here for growing vegetables. We will continue to try to give you the best of what is available. We promise that by October (if the rains finish) the situation will be much improved, and we will be able to provide you with higher quality and more variety.

Until next week.

Best wishes,

Norma

AVAILABLE for next week: (N1500 minimum must come from this list)
Aubergine
Beef tomato
French Beans
Green Cabbage
Carrot
Bok Choi
Chinese cabbage
Collard Greens
Salad cucumber
Pickling cucumber
Green pepper
Kale
Leek
Lettuce (limited varieties)
Red onion
Radish
Sorrel
Spring onion
Herbs (all varieties, but basil limited)
New Potato

LIMITED AVAILABILITY (You can order but we cannot guarantee supply or we will supply limited quantities on first come first served basis)
Broccoli
Beetroot
Celery
Endive frisee
Escarole
Cherry Tomato
Plum tomato
Courgette
Cousa
Crookneck squash
Yellow courgette
Fennel
White onion
Jalapeno pepper
Passion fruit
Physalis (Cape gooseberry)
Ginger root
Turmeric root
Sweet corn
Spinach
Flowers (mixed bunch, roses)

NOT AVAILABLE for next week
Avocado pear
Red Cabbage
Cauliflower
Kohlrabi
Shiitake mushroom
Turnip
Mulberry
Oyster mushrooms
Pawpaw (papaya)
Radicchio
Roma beans
Rhubarb
Snake beans
Strawberry
Snow peas
Swiss Chard
Sugar snap peas
Winter Squash (butternut, kabocha, other)

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Felabration

Site dedicated to the whole Fela-10-years-after celebrations in October in Lagos.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

1000 memories: the Jehovas Witnesses

During weekdays, my sister and I were back home before mom returned from teaching at her school in Stafford. That hour gap before the Mini Metro would appear in the drive, she’d open the door, let out a sigh, undo her bra and fix herself a stiff gin and tonic, was always a space of opportunity. In the winter, the tasks piled up and the hour quickly passed: I had to get the coal and logs in for the fire (and then light it using firelighters and kindling), feed the dog and cats and then take the dog for a walk along Monk’s Walk. In the spring and summer, the absence of fire preparation gave me more time for mischief.

One spring day after school, when I was twelve, there was a knock at the front door. Two men wearing overcoats, and a woman wearing black, were standing in the street. The two men had briefcases and serious smiles, the woman stood impassive. I invited them all in. When mom got back she found us all in the living room, with my guests sipping tea and munching on MicVities, with their literature and pamphlets spread around the coffee table. Alarm wrote itself across her face in thick indelible ink. As soon as the teas were over, they made their excuses, and left me with one of the booklets.

A few days later, Mom gave me a tape. It featured an ex-Jehova talking about his experiences, and listing the key arguments against the faith. The one that most impressed me was the suggestion that there are too many Jehova’s for them all to get on the guest-list to Heaven – given that only 144,000 or so can be allowed (based on the number in the Bible about the twelve tribes, or something) and there are 3 or more million Jehovas. With this and other little conceptual snags, I felt armed with the facts and ready for battle. The next time my new grown-up friends knocked on the door, I asked them this question as they stood outside. They decided not to come in this time. The philosophical spirit was born in me.

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Hotel Doris Dey


in Benin City. All it needs is a lick of paint and a ballroom..

Thanks to PK for sending the pic.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nigeria's e-readiness

The Economist Intelligence Unit's 2007 Global E-readiness Assessment ranks Nigeria as 62nd out of 69 surveyed countries, a fall of 2 places from last year. Click here to download the full report.

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Albert Speer Jr in Abuja..

The news that Hitler's architect's son, Albert Speer Jr, is in charge of the Beijing Olympics Master Plan reminded me of his earlier work helping to design Abuja. This article gives some useful stats on the largest building in Abuja, Speer's Federal Secretariat Complex, which took five years to build. Apparently the building consumes 500,000 litres of water and 6MW of electricity every day. I'm sure Prince Charles would use the word 'carbuncle' to describe it..

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Habila on Nigerian writers

In the Times last week. I discovered it through this blog entry from Naijaman.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sub-prime meltdown

The past few days, the bods that present the financial/business news on CNN, the BBC etc have looked increasingly frisky and nervous. Its been a bit like watching fake news within some apocalyptic film. What is going on?

The narrative is familiar by now: interest rates are raised by the Fed Reserve bank to kick-start a flagging economy nearly a year ago. This knocks-onto the riskier end of the US housing market (going by the euphemism of the 'sub-prime' market). Given the globalised, interwoven nature of equity markets, its only a matter of time before financial institutions overseas are aversely affected - specifically those who have invested in the US mortgage market by buying passed on debt. The worst hit are those playing for high stakes anyway - the hedge fund magi. The knock-on effect of this is a huge credit global credit squeeze as risk-fear spreads across and within financial institutions like a forest fire. The European Central Bank and the Fed Reserve bank respond by pumping billions of dollars into the money markets to stop the credit market from freezing over.

Quite where all this is heading, no one seems to know. Of course, canny investors will make a killing, as solid companies momentarily slip beneath their real value on global share indexes. For the US economy, I'm not sure what the way out is: the housing market looks set to continue to slump thanks to rising interest rates, continuing to increase risk in the wider credit sector. Inflationary pressures will continue to flare around the world, threatening a global depression. Energy security remains the threat on the horizon for the US (and Europe), with China offering more bang-for-the-buck per barrel.

Its not looking good.

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Starbook - an interview with Ben Okri

Ben Okri interviewed by Maya Jaggi in today's Guardian.

Lagos was "both a shock and a delight. I saw it was possible to be a human being in a totally different way. It was like going into a multidimensional world. That gave me my aesthetic matrix, where a sense of alternatives became natural. There was no one world-view, but as many worlds as there are ways of seeing."

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Gay Nigerians to be stoned to death..

Here is the story. Even more disturbing than the story are some of the comments at the bottom. I'll never understand how Christians can defend their belief in the death penalty in the context of their faith. That said, how many Christians know their ten commandments?

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Slowly, the screw turns..

The boss of NNPC is for the chop; the DG of the Bureau of Public Enterprises is to walk the plank thanks to a whistleblower - business as unusual in Nigeria. Yar'Adua's game is slowly slowly catchee monkey. The rules of the game in Abuja are changing. Its a pleasure to be here to watch it happen...

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The Jam

25 years on, The Jam sound as good as they did back then: the early snarls of This is the Modern World, the menace of Down in a Tube Station at Midnight, the delicate strength of English Rose, the lacerating anger-chords of Private Hell - all sound fresh and full of blood in 2007.

Listening to Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and co with a nice bottle of Les Collines Blanches Sancerre Rose, I connect back with my adolescence in a flash: that room in the attic with Byron's words written on the wall, the ghost ill-at-ease down the corridor, and the narrow confines of the village outside. All I wanted was a Vespa ride out of there..

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Chris Abani at TED

Click here to download the mp4. Thanks Natasha for the link.

SUMMARY
In a funny and personal talk, novelist and poet Chris Abani searches for the heart of Africa through her poems and narratives -- including his own narrative of artistic and political awakening, starting with an inventive teacher who taught him the forbidden history of his own people.

How, he asks, can we reconcile stories of terror and war and corruption (and these, he points out, not only in Africa) with one's enduring sense of pure wonder?


BIO
Chris Abani's first novel, published when he was 16, was Masters of
the Board, a political thriller about a foiled Nigerian coup.
Whatever its literary merits, the story was convincing enough that
the Nigerian government charged him with planning a coincidentally
timed real-life coup -- and he was thrown in jail. Imprisoned and
tortured twice more, he channeled the experience into searing
poetry that Harold Pinter called "the most naked, harrowing
expression of prison life and political torture imaginable."
Abani's best-selling 2004 novel GraceLand is a searing and funny
tale of a young Nigerian boy, an Elvis impersonator who moves
through the wide, wild world of Lagos, slipping between pop and
traditional cultures, art and crime. It's a perennial book-club
pick, a story that brings the postcolonial African experience to
vivid life. Based in Los Angeles, Abani published The Virgin of
Flames in 2007. He is also a publisher, running the poetry imprint
Black Goat Press.

Read more...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Goodluck reveals his assets

The VP finally caves into pressure to reveal his assets. Will the Governors now do the same, so we can have a before and an after? See the story below from today's Guardian Nigeria.

Jonathan publishes assets, worth N295m
From Madu Onuorah, Abuja
VICE President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday succumbed to public demand that he release the details of the assets he declared before the Code of Conduct Bureau. In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, the Vice President put his total assets at N295, 304, 420.

On June 28, 2007, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua published details of his assets, which he put at N856.64 million.

Details of the assets, which Jonathan declared on May 30, 2007 before Justice Muktar N. Dodo of the Abuja High Court, show that the Vice President has no foreign account or assets.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President (Media and Communications), Mr. Ima Niboro, who released the details of the assets to journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said in a press statement: "This merely shows that in the affairs of man, there comes a time when even the law must take a second place, and the public mood must define our actions."

Niboro added: "To the Vice President, this is such a time, hence the choice to send you a copy of his declaration for publication. There is nothing to hide, as you can very well see!"

A breakdown of the assets showed that the Vice President's private buildings are worth N67, 990,000. These include a four-bedroom duplex in Kpansia, Yenagoa, valued at N15 million, a four-flat storey extension of the family house in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, valued at N10 million and a four-flat storey building at Otuoke, Ogbia Local Council, which was bombed days before his inauguration as Vice President, valued at N18 million. There is also a five-bedroom personal residence in Gwarinpa, Abuja, worth N24.99 million.

Under the vehicles and household items, Jonathan declared a total assets of N41.8 million. They include a BMW car in Abuja valued at N15 million, generators, electronics, air conditioners, furniture, kitchen utensils and others in Kpansia, Yenagoa, Otuoke, and Gwarimpa costed at N26 million. The BMW was declared as a gift while the other items were said to be gift or procured from savings.

He also declared some vacant and undeveloped plots as worth N60.538 million. They include five undeveloped plots of land in Bayelsa State, two undeveloped plots of land in Cadastral Zone BO2 and AO6 in Abuja .

Jonathan listed N62, 072, 200 million as accruing from income yielding investments. This comprises investments in stocks managed by City-Code Trust and Investment Company Limited. He categorised them as 16 different stocks in Nigerian blue-chip companies.

The Vice President said that he has four 16-seater passengers' boats for hiring by companies and other agencies.

According to him, total cash in Nigerian banks (Bank PHB, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, UBA and others is N58.984 million. He stated that the total income includes personal savings and income from his investments, among them performing stocks and hiring of the boats.

Niboro said that the assets declared did not include those of Jonathan's wife, because "the wife of the Vice President is a public officer, being on the staff of the Bayelsa State Ministry of Education, Yenagoa."

"She could, on her own, being in service, declare her assets through laid-down procedures," he added.

Niboro added that Jonathan's children, being under the mandatory age of 18, do not own assets.

Noting the controversy that Jonathan's reluctance at releasing the assets had caused, Niboro said: "There is no question that the issue of the publication of the Vice President's assets declaration has been the source of vigorous debate in the mass media in the past week or so. There have been strong opinions on both sides of this emerging, if unnecessary, divide."

He added: "His Excellency, the Vice President, is a firm believer in the rule of law, and this has guided his conduct in public office through the years. It is this belief that also guided his position that having fulfilled the requirements of the law by declaring his assets for a total of seven times, there was no point in going further to publish the declaration."

The Vice President's aide regretted that "this position has generated an unfortunate storm, which is not only distractive but also quite unnecessary. We are worried that some newspapers and citizens we hold in high esteem have joined the fray. To the Vice President, this is such a time, hence the choice to send you a copy of his declaration for publication. There is nothing to hide, as you can very well see."

Jonathan's failure to release the details of his assets had generated a storm particularly because President Yar'Adua had set the standard by making his own public.

The public, which had lauded the President's action, had expressed concern that the moral high ground on which the government could proceed with its avowed anti-graft war would be undermined if the Vice President did not follow suit.

The Code of Conduct Act, which prescribes the declaration of assets for public officers, is silent on whether the document should be made public or not, therefore leaving it at the discretion of the affected persons.

Jonathan, had in the defence of his decision not to make the assets public, cited the bombing of his country home in Yenagoa shortly before he took office as a strong disincentive.

He also challenged key officials of the opposition party, the Action Congress (AC), which had been at the forefront of the campaign, to also make public their assets.

Jonathan particularly threw the challenge at the current Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, his predecessor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and AC's national spokesman, Lai Mohammed.

None of them is yet to accede to the request.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

RCCG bans trousers for women

I was sent this by email earlier today. On top of the recent stories in Lagos banning so-called 'indecent' dressing (and Funmi Iyanda's recent sorry story), it looks like the Christian fundamentalists are starting to borrow from their Islamist counterparts. Perhaps RCCG should order in some burkhas and force their female flock to wear? Better still, why not ban women from going to Church completely? They should perhaps stay in doors, with the lights turned off, with their Christianised burkhas on...

No More Trousers For Redeemed Ladies, Pastor Adeboye Orders
By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Outlandish women who attend the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)
are in for trouble as the General Overseer of the Church, Pastor Enoch
Adeboye, has banned them from wearing trousers to church.

The man of God, popularly known as Daddy G.O., decided to shed his garb
of softness and impose punitive measures on female worshippers who
always wear skimpy dresses and tightfitting trousers to church.

Adeboye was said to have warned and threatened to sanction female
members who flout the order.

The General Overseer's riot act to female worshippers was published
in a recent bulletin of the church.

The enforcement may begin at the RCCG annual convention which is going
on at its Redemption Camp, Km 45, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where millions
of worshippers gather for the annual event.

Until recently, a large number of women who wore trousers to the church
were tolerated in their quest to attract male worshippers.

Unknown to these women in skimpy dresses, they had unwittingly divided
the RCCG into two camps: the conservative worshippers on the one hand
and the radical ones on the other. The radical ones are the modern day
worshippers who feel they could wear anything to church, no matter how
skimpy it is, while the conservatives are the old time Redeemers who
still keep to the standards in the Bible in their mode of dressing and
general comportment while in the church.

P.M.News gathered that it was in a bid to sanitise the RCCG that Daddy
G.O. decided to ban women from wearing trousers which is offensive to
other worshippers.

Adeboye's ban coincided with the ongoing onslaught by the police
against women who wear trousers and skimpy dresses on the streets of
Lagos.

The police onslaught is also to sanitise the state and discourage
prostitution and commercial sex workers who often habour criminals and
other anti-social elements.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A smart move by Yar'Adua

The consequences of the President's recent decision to order that the EFCC and ICPC report to the Attorney-General will be far reaching. Rather than a demotion in powers as a tactic to halt the ongoing investigation of ex-Governors, as this article in This Day suggests, it actually extends the remit and validity of the Executive.

First, it cuts dead in its tracks any suggestion that the President has selective powers over the work of the EFCC - an accusation that haunted the previous administration. Second, it is a strong signal that Yar'Adua is intent on strengthening the rule of law - the This Day link above highlights sections of the EFCC Act which prescribe the reporting lines through the AG. Third, and as a consequence of the first two points, it opens the field for the neutral investigation of all suspect parties in possible economic crimes and corrupt practices. The final consequence is that it will put extreme pressure on the current crop of Governors to limit the widespread practice of funds diversion. What is the point of buying that fifth house on Bishop's Avenue when it may be taken away from you at any time?

It may well be that this move is part of a wider strategy by Yar'Adua to reduce the powers of the Presidency, de-centralising reporting lines across the Federal Government. This will lead to a healthier democracy at the centre, with the Legislature and the Judiciary balancing out the powers vested in the Presidency. If this is the case, a deep, structural re-balancing of the polity may be about to take place. Let's wait and see.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

In the Wine Shop last night..

I drive to the Wine Shop next to Tantalisers in Wuse II to buy wine for our evening get together with friends. Buying wine in Nigeria fills me with a vague sense of dread: no matter how nice looking the bottle - a Chianti, a Soave, a Barolo, the liquid that comes out of it is always a disappointment. Days of being overheated inside a container on the high seas is probably the reason why the wine you buy in Nigeria has almost always lost its joie de vivre.

As I enter the shop, I am struck by that familiar feeling in Nigeria: things are not quite right here. To the left, a man is sitting on a crate eating corn and chicken. To the right slightly behind a column, two men and three women are grouped around a little table, with two bottles of wine. The wine shop has been turned into an impromptu wine and snacks bar, with the poor guy behind the till powerless to stop the transition.

I peruse the shelves, which are mainly stocked with South African cast-offs, the Nigerian equivalent of going to a discount book shop in North London to buy pulp fiction for a pound. I avoid the Nederland reject stuff, and find a stack of Chiantis. Meanwhile, another part of my brain has tuned into the slightly unusual conversation that is taking place behind me.

Of the two guys, one is the alpha male, the other his wimpy cohort. The alpha male has options on all three of the women. It is clearly at his discretion whether he leaves one available for his hireling or not. The Big Man is wearing shorts, and is bespectacled. He reaches over to the girl sitting right next to his friend and holds her hands in his. Her face is pockmarked, the consequences of adolescent acne.

You are a fine looking girl. You know that?
She lowers her head shyly and says 'Thank you sir.'

A woman like you, you know what you want. You enjoy sport?
She stays silent, waiting for him to continue.

A girl like you, is used to physical exercise. You like fucking, is it not so?

His voice is husky. He is already in foreplay mode, turning himself on, here in the shop.

You are not one of these girls to stay indoors. Or do any of that lesbian stuff, are you?
His wimpy friend laughs out loud at this question, as do all the women. The alpha male is spurred to continue,

Why do all that lesbian stuff when you can be fucking a guy like me, is it not so? You know, although I am a bit older now, I still have my steel. I am still strong, and still made of steel, you know what I mean?

He chuckles a smoky husky chuckle, then continues his grunt monologue.

I have selected two Chiantis and a vaguely ok-ish white. I go to the till to pay. In the corner of my eye, I see the guy in shorts pouring more wine for his retinue. The silverback gorilla is going to play tonight. And three women have their sense of the value of men reduced that bit further to a narrow slice of life that goes by the name of economic survival.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Covenant University HIV testing

I blogged about this about a year ago, and now the story about Covenant University's compulsory HIV testing has come round again. Bishop Oyedepo's University requires that all students take a test as a condition for graduation. Pregnant female students will not be allowed to proceed to graduation; it is not clear about the fate of those who test positive.

This Day has weighed in with its typically erudite, nuanced and sophisticated perspective here. We can only be grateful that such strange practices are being swiftly and decisively dealt with by those powerful critical minds who populate our fourth estate..

Thanks to Bella Naija for the link and the story.

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Fin gets into biking at an early age..

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Charly Boy Boulevard


The bike at the bottom left is a Honda Gold Wing 1500; the yellow bike behind is a Ducatti.

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Billboard near Charly Boy's house

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Shrine to Charly


In the yard. I think he likes bikes.

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Bike-sculpture-thing in the yard

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Punk Palace, exterior..

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Feature in Charly's yard..

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Harley in Gwarimpa


This guy had just arrived from Lagos on his sleek low-slung Harley. A couple of bikers nearby had come up in a party (phallanx?) of 30 or so, also from Lagos. They said if not for all the pointless roadblocks, they could do Lagos-Abuja in under 4 hours. One of the guys said he hit 270kph (167mph) earlier in the day. Nearly 170mph on Nigerian roads, on a bike? These people carry death in their pouches..

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Charly Boy's Bikers Convention 2007


Lizzie is an Abuja-based biker. She regular rides at 240kph..

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Languages of Nigeria

Wikipedia (here and here) dispells the myth that there are around 250 or 300 languages in Nigeria. As I blogged back in March last year, there are in fact over 500 recorded - and already quite a few have died out, and some more are about to (click here for the list of 478 listed from last year's post). Its hard to believe the figures of numbers of speakers on the wikipedia pages however - only 18 million hausa speakers in West Africa, and similar numbers for Yoruba and Igbo? That is quite silly. On the list of 478 - I never tire of reading this list: it is pure poetry..

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Motorbike Rally in Abuja this weekend..

Charlie Boy is hosting a motorbike rally this week-end, starting on Friday evening at his Punk Palace mansion in Gwarimpa, followed by a ride through town on Saturday. Should be quite a show..

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Birds

One of the hidden joys of Nigeria is its birds. North European birds don't compare (apart from the honourable exceptions of our kingfishers and owls). Of course, twitchers the world over long ago cottoned on to this little secret. Check this for an example of some of the stunningly beautiful birds of Nigeria.

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Dr Mrs Chief Engineer

Article on the Nigerian love affair for titles, courtesy of the Beeb.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

George Ayittey at TED


Some of the key speeches at the recent TED Africa: the Next Chapter conference are now online. The talk by George Ayittey, author of Africa Unchained, is well worth watching. The hi-res mp4 version can be downloaded here - for all those fortunates with broadband out there. Also worth checking out is the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala talk.

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Love in the time of the rains

We have just entered the height of the rainy season, with monsoon storms slating down on Abuja. The roof on our house is jerry-built, like most houses in the city. The rain flows in rivulets from the corners of our bedroom, drenching the floor. In my spare moments, I towel up the water, filling bucket after bucket. It is a losing battle. Our landlord said nothing will be done until we have paid our yearly rent (which is due this week). For the moment, it is not possible to sleep in our bedroom - the dampness forces itself into the throat.

Meanwhile, the BQ near our apartment has become a pig sty. Piles of rubbish lie about, spare engine parts and used tires and the like. The shared bathroom is filthy. It is time for our very own Kick Against Indiscipline process in the compound..

High on Minister's Hill above us, various huge mansions are being hastily constructed. They look like Southfork through migraine eyes - columns aplenty, no trace of architecture, simply buildings for the philistines. One day, there will be design culture again in Nigeria. It has not happened yet.

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