Epsilon (Pt.1)

“Charm is the ability to insult people without offending them; nerdiness the reverse”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I wasn’t sure what to title this post as it’s still a work in progress. Maybe when it is done I have a name. It’s about what occurred to me a few days ago regarding social grace. The rules of charm and social etiquette are universal but have various cultural modifications. An Italian girl may swoon if you kiss the back of her hand when introducing yourself, the Bini girl will cringe and wonder what has gotten into your head.
However, I think some tips can be utilized across both sides of the Atlantic

1.) Footwear
It is a bit ironic that the most iconic part of a man’s appearance lies at the feet. It is commonplace but underutilized knowledge that you can tell a lot about a man by just looking at his shoes.
Footwear are among the first three things to be noticed about any man ( along with his handshake and his fragrance). They send a message and put you on a pedestal. If possible, have clean, non-torn socks (nothing more annoying than removing your shoes and seeing your big toe poking its head through the window in your socks.) Look for shoes that fit your style. There is a type of shoe for every body type, depending of course of what needs to be achieved and what image needs to be projected. You want to look like a classic man, maybe you should go for some Oxfords. You like something with some versatility, maybe Brogues. Then there are sneakers and loafers and others.Personally, I favour Chukka boots as they fit my evolving style.
No matter what you do, no matter where you stay, have a pair of black leather dress shoes for that special party, wedding or meeting. A man must have a pair of black leather dress shoes.
And for those who choose to wear slippers a.k.a palms a.k.a sandals, you might want to invest in basic skincare and grooming. It is not ‘un-masculine’ to rub Vaseline or body cream on your feet. Nobody (sane) will doubt your manliness if your cut/trim your toe nails every once in a while. Even if you don’t know your way around a scissors, there is probably an aboki in your neighbourhood who will trim your nails to perfection for a very small fee.
You don’t have to wear slippers by Kene Rapu, just have one or two pairs of quality slippers and strut your stuff

And for Heaven’s sake, don’t forget to polish your shoes

No!   No!!   No!!!

No! No!! No!!!

2.) Be inquisitive . . .

. . .but don’t be intrusive.
Everybody loves to talk about themselves. That’s Psychology 101. For some, it comes naturally. They’ll almost bore you to death with endless tales of their achievements and/or acquisitions. There’s that thing that is said ’bout empty barrels
Other more refined people will need a bit of coaxing before sharing themselves with you. Man is a creative spirit. There must be an outlet for the products of the mind. There is no such thing as a person who does not like to talk. An individual may not like to engage in conversation at that moment, that place or that current state of mind. However, given standard conditions, they’ll demonstrate the worst case of oral diarrhoea ever seen.
Be genuinely interested in the person. Let them be the expert in something and massage their ego by sucking up their information.

Be quiet, listen more and try to learn and remember more about the other person. I know somebody who had a small exercise book filled with nitty-bitty details he had gleaned from conversing with people. Later, he would call back and discuss their lives with them in a a non-creepy way. It can look creepy or stalker-ish
‘Why do prefer Tecno phones, most people are Blackberry people?’
‘If you could go back to your primary school self, would you do anything differently?’
Be fascinated about everybody

And for Heaven’s sake, if somebody bluntly tells you to butt-off, you had better butt-off

. . . to be continued

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. .Waiting for the ‘robust reply’

ese-walter-biodun-fatoyinbo-coza

Being labeled as something you aren’t can’t ruin you.

Being accused of something you didn’t do can too

Eight months ago, a certain Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo (of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly) was accused of sexual and spiritual manipulation. The accuser/alleged victim: an upwardly mobile young woman named Ese Walters. The salacious details of the affair were fodder for gossip blogs and a topic for heated discussion at your local watering hole.

Usually, a tale of this nature is bound to elicit emotions and reactions from all and sundry. There’s shock, denial, surprise and even disappointment. Some sour pussies will even whip up the I-told-you-so card. This WalterGate was no different. Miss Walters was called a mudslinger amongst other unprintable names. How does a grown up woman have consensual sex and then publicly accuse her partner of manipulation? Not a small number of ‘Christians’ rose up in defence of the vocally talented Pastor. Was she not an instrument that the devil was using to batter one of the fastest growing churches in Abuja?

The man himself, Pastor Biodun, was morbidly aghast.

He mounted the pulpit the next Sunday and addressed the matter

“I’m sure you read some things about me in the social network. I’ve been receiving calls from different people even big people in government… They have been advising me; ‘don’t talk, we understand’. We are going to speak but we are consulting. We’ll come out with a robust reply…..My wife and I love you”

Thus, we decided to wait and hear from Pastor B before coming to conclusions.

We waited

. . .and waited

Time went by. The Sochi Olympics came and went, Russia invaded Crimea, Nelson Mandela died and was buried and there were episodes of fuel scarcity in Nigeria. . .and still, we waited.

The next time I came across Pastor B in the news, he was receiving a brand new Rolls Royce ; a robust gift from American preacher Mike Murdock. The next time I decided to google him, he was treating Abuja denizens to a round of free Valentine’s Day shopping

Meanwhile Ese Walters found a man to put a ring on it. She got married to her friend, Benny Ark.

. . .and here I am, still waiting for Pastor B’s team to finish consultations and issue a robust reply.

Defending a pastor is not equivalent to defending God. Some individuals Pastor Biodun is human, Ese Walters is human and I am human. We often hold our religious leaders to superhuman expectations. They have become brands, almost celebrities. We have so deified them that any whisper of frailty is  swiftly shot down. We need to have heroes and we can’t bear to lose them

On a side of this crooked coin, I could say: If you did it, say you did it; and if you didn’t do, say you didn’t do it.  More duplicitous advice would be: Whether you did it or not, say you didn’t do it. That would settle the matter and send everyone to bed.

I can understand, but not tolerate, the quietude from Pastor B’s camp.Imagine he admits to a dalliance with Ese Walters, the reaction would be scandalous, to say the least. He will forever be known as the ‘Pastor that slept with That Girl’. He may show contrition, ask for forgiveness and even do penance; but still, our desperation for holy heroes will ensure that our views of him will be forever jaundiced. People may forget his wonderful sermons and lovely attitude, but the moment(s) of weakness will be indelible. That is the nature of human existence, we always see the blot of ink in the bowl of water. Even if he denies all the allegations, he will have to provide some serious explanation and this will provide Miss Walters with fodder for another attack.

Thus, the silence leaves us second-guessing and those who love their heroes will still have this last straw to cling on to. Those who hate him will have nothing to work with and no words to trap him with. He will be able to hide under the umbrella of  forceful inaction- don’t say anything & don’t do anything-  and slowly, the passage of time will paper over the cracks and we will forget and move on to the next scandalous piece of steaming gist.

Thus, let those who wait continue to wait and let those who are tired of waiting move on with their lives.

Happier days

Happier days

 

 

 

The Death of Ndubuka John

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John Ndubuka
(Husband, Father, Friend)

I’m not sure the number of Nigerians that will die before the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) challenge this issue of ‘accidental discharge’. That’s why the average Nigerian is scared of coming near the average police man. The chap’s finger may just be on the trigger and nobody is sure if the officer is drunk, frustrated, tired or even trigger-happy.

John Ndubuka was a cousin to Engr. Chinedum Orji, the son of the governor of Abia state. This husband and father was shot dead by a police man who was on duty at a civic reception for the governor. Eyewitnesses claimed that the trigger was accidentally pulled as one of the policemen on duty at the venue held his gun with one hand and was clearing the surging crowd with the other hand.

So, in other words, a police man had his fingers on the trigger of a LOADED gun and was attempting to control a civilian crowd at a peaceful event!

WTF!! (Where’s the fufu?)

C’mon, what the heck is wrong with the Nigerian police. I have never attended a police college and yet I know a cardinal rule of gun safety- keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Even if we assume that his finger ‘slipped’ to the trigger and he ‘mistakenly’ squeezed it, the gun should have been locked with a trigger lock ab initio

I don’t what they teach them at the police training colleges/academies but I know that some of them are in a deplorable state.What exactly do they teach them there? How to collect 100 naira? (they don’t do 20 bucks these days and some even demand American dollars) It took an undercover visit by Channels TV for the College at Ikeja to wear a new look. I’m angry because there is a woman somewhere who has been robbed of her husband because a ‘trained’ police officer could not handle a gun.

I don’t even want to talk about whether or not the erring policeman will be prosecuted. Those asking me if the NPF will compensate the deceased’s family will have to answer the question they are asking. This case has generated a lot of ruckus because the individual involved was a Somebody; a cousin to the Governor’s son. What happens to the Nobody danfo driver who is shot for refusing to part with some naira notes? What happens to the Nobody detainee who is shot for being ‘too stubborn’.

And yet, the government is playing politics with our security. Police Service Commission has been plagued by the spirit of jeun koku. I can confirm that many Nigerian legislators are either Citizens or Permanent Residents of a developed European country or America.

It shall be well. I may be angry now, but I know it shall soon be well

May God console the families of all the Nobodies who have been discharged accidentally by the Nigerian men-in-black

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Let’s flog our kids. Please!

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My aunt invited me to her house at NICON town in Lekki. It was another opportunity to waltz into those high-walled exclusive estates on Lagos Island, where all the generators have silencers and all the residents’ passports have American or British visas( that is, if they are not already second citizens of a developed country across the Atlantic).

After having a very nice lunch, i noticed that her six year daughter, Chichi, was throwing a terrible tantrum. Honestly, I don’t know what she wanted but my aunt was unwilling to give it to her because she felt her daughter had had enough of it. The little madam was screaming and acting like a stubborn little monster.  After the intense altercation, my exasperated and exhausted aunt then issued what must have been her ultimate threat;

“Be careful or you will get a time-out”

Hian!! Time-out ke! Are we playing basketball?

Long before the tiff escalated to this present stage, my mother would have slapped the earwax of my ears. When she was feeling merciful, she would only anoint my disobedient buttocks with some strokes of Hausa koboko. The memory of ‘buttocks-past-flogged’ would prevent me from be stubborn in the future. Corporal punishment seems to be on the decline in Nigeria. We seem to think that it is inhumane to flog an errant child. Some believe that children who ‘feel good’ will ‘act good’. Other ‘no-spanking’ apologists believe that children grow up to hate their spankers and spanking damages the parent-child bond. If you scour the internet, I’m sure there are more than a million more reasons.

Firstly, it is important to separate spanking from violence. Any form of discipline carried out in anger becomes violence. Anger beclouds objectivity. It makes you lose control and it turns you into a bully It is often better to ‘hands-off’ from a child when you’re angry. Even what you say to the child in anger often leads to regret. Personal experience has taught me that discipline is better effected without the emotional overload of anger or frustration.

Children, by nature, have a lot of foolishness. It is often a benign foolishness. The barriers of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour are not very distinct to six year old. Telling an erring child to go sit in her room and think about what she has done is one of the most ridiculous forms of discipline I have ever seen. Granted, children are different and some will exhibit amazing maturity at a tender age, nevertheless, stubborn children will always need a firm child. Constant negotiation with a child, all in a bid to preserve self-esteem, is often futile.

In 1979, Sweden became the first country in the world to pass a blanket ban on spanking, arguably creating a nation of brats. Leading experts have warned of the possibility of breeding a generation of ill-mannered children in Sweden. Children are different and parents should be able to implement different methods of discipline. Despite all the flogging from my parents, I still love them all the way from Lagos to Maiduguri.

Finally, I agree that child-rearing is a difficult thing. Reasoning with kids can be great, but what do you do when it fails? Besides, flogging doesn’t last forever. As children grow, there should be a phasing out. Some parents flog all day, every day. That’s terrible. There’s an igbo adage about not flogging a child the day he throws away palm oil. I can’t remember it now.

There is talk of a ‘rod’ in the Biblical Book of Proverbs 23:13(KJV). What do you think?

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Let Girls be Girls. Please!

 girl lipstick makeup in pink vanity with mirrorSome time ago, I attended an event at a popular hotel in Asaba, Delta state. At the end of the occasion, Lady Boredom cajoled me into taking a stroll around the hotel, savouring the evening air and engaging in the proverbial clearing of the head. A little later, I stumbled upon a children’s party in full swing.  It had bouncy castles and face painters, gaily dressed clowns and pink candy floss; infact, all the paraphernalia of an upscale kiddies shindig.

And then I saw some of the dresses.

Little girls, surely no older than eleven years, seemed to be the most sorely plagued, as some were decked in heavy make-up and skimpy dresses. My eyes fell on short skirts and ridiculously long hair attachments. As I sat on a plastic chair under a canopy, wondering the last children’s party I attended, a very fat middle aged woman strode past me with two children in tow; the boy had a blue t-shirt and black khakis while the bespectacled girl, who I presumed to be his sister, was wearing the shortest pair of jeans shorts I had ever seen on a prepubescent girl. The children disappeared into the party while their fat mother engaged in banter and back slapping with other grown-up guests.

Maybe I was surprised because I had always assumed that a child party would be characterized by girls in elaborate frocks and boys in shoes with multicolour shining lights, all jumping about whilst waiting for cake and Styrofoam packs of jollof rice and one piece of meat. Well, maybe that’s why I’m a bit old-fashioned

I was still caught in thought in the plastic chair under the canopy when the DJ changed the song. Chai! The new song was a horrible choice for a gathering of children, majority of whom may have barely started secondary school. The lyrics were flavoured with ‘18+’ words like ‘ashawo’ and ‘ukwu’.

*eyes open in shock*  Nna mehn, come and see dance steps

The very small children were twirling about happily without a care in the world; they were largely left to their own devices. All the attention and applause was lavished on the ‘elder’ children who were seriously wriggling their waists like their next meal depended on it. They knew all the right directions to pull and push, the right time to gyrate downwards and then slowly come back up, in summary, the way to do some serious ‘rocking’. Fast forward a couple of years, delete the under-sixes and throw in some booze, and I might as well have been in a night club in Ikeja.

After I left a while later (I didn’t want to be accused of staring), a part of me dismissed everything as harmless fun. They were kids and they knoweth not what they do. The oldest child at the party would not have been more than 14 years and such interaction was good for self-esteem.

Today’s world is a tough & terrible terrain for a child to grow up in. Parenting has become individualized and thus more difficult to practice properly. Schools are ‘in loco parentis’ in name only. Parents are either too arrogant or too ignorant to ask for help.  Exempli gratia, try correcting another woman’s child in a public or private setting. More often than not, your attempts at discipline will be rewarded, by the mother of the erring child, with a big Ghana-must-go bagful of insults, pressed together and running over.  Some parents have hectic schedules and alternative care is scarce and expensive. Your cheerful next door neighbour might be a child molester. The end result is that children are forced to grow up faster. They have become little adults instead of just being kids. I accept that look after growing children can be a bothersome chore but we’ll have to put our backs into it. The television pedigree for babysitting is deteriorating beyond repair. You never know when Iyanya or Timaya would jump on-screen demanding for ‘waist’ or ‘ukwu, treating us unabashedly to quivering derrieres. Don’t put MTV and Trace in place of playing in the sandpit or with LEGO. Many children can’t sing the second stanza of the national anthem but they’ll gladly sing how they are ‘looking for Caro’

Sometimes civilization comes with a lot of silliness. Maintaining the status quo will yield a morally bankrupt generation. This vicious cycle will even be more detrimental for our grandchildren as you can’t give what you don’t have.  Parents have to roll up their sleeves and become good examples as the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Spend good time with your child as children are highly impressionable. Every action always has a reaction (at least Isaac Newton thinks so).  Let them play soccer, chess, ludo, scrabble or ten-ten. Let them learn musical instruments. Maximize that developing intellect.

Some have argued, and I tend to agree, that no matter what you do, pikin wey wan spoil go spoil’. But every child is a product of nature and nurture. Many children are exposed to things that they are not ready for.

So, instead of allowing society to teach your child how to dance ‘azonto’ read her a nice story.

*listening to Mike Okri’s Hear your papa, hear your mama

Listening to the 90 percent

the people

Depending on which side of the cultural divide you’re on, the Federal Government’s anti-gay bill is bound to stir up cheers or jeers. Thanks to a number of factors – religious, cultural et al, only a few Nigerians are indifferent to the matter of homosexuality. There are no shades of gray, no sitting on the fence and no I-don’t-care opinions on this dicey issue.

Officially the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, the law promises 14 years in prison for anyone who enters into a same sex marriage or civil union. It also ensures jail time for anyone who, let me paraphrase, gets involved, directly or indirectly, in gayish, gay-like or gayesque activities and events. It defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, nothing more, nothing less.

That being said, homosexuality is an ancient but tricky issue in the socially conservative geography of Nigeria. Thus, I would rather not delve into how such an interesting bill was passed in secrecy; how very important bills (e.g. National Health Bill, National Tobacco Control Bill, Petroleum Industry Bill) are still stuck in limbo; how some theorists believe that the law was pass to gain political goodwill; how the Bauchi state police seemingly (and swiftly) produced a list of 168 gay people and, finally, how this law would affect a certain Senator who married a thirteen year old girl (from our definition of marriage, it’s clear that it’s an institution for women, not girls.)

The comments made by President Jonathan’s spin doctor, Dr. Reuben Abati, regarding the anti-gay bill, have given me cause to . . . reflect. The erstwhile Chairman of the Editorial Board, The Guardian Newspapers, was quoted as saying that

“More than 90 percent of Nigerians are opposed to same sex marriage. So the law is in line with our cultural & religious beliefs as a people.”

“And I think that this law is made for a people and what the government has done is consistent with the preference of its environment.”

I wasn’t really sure I understood Dr. Abati correctly. He seemed to be suggesting that in Nigeria, things are done in favour of the majority, the masses, the 90 percent; that the foundation underneath decision-making was the preference of the majority, the 90 percent.

Really!! *eyes open in shock*

Time and time again, past and present, our leaders have demonstrated a gross inability at palpating, talk less of counting, the pulse of the majority. Many actions seem to be taken solely for the benefit of a select few. Corruption in high places is raping the country dry of its resources. The 10 percent keep recycling through the corridors and chambers of power, taking our commonwealth for themselves and their cronies. The Senate is now a resting ground for former governors and party chieftains; people with vested interests keep oppressing those who are attempting to make the country better.

I wonder what goes on in the minds of the elitist 10% those who have come-to-chop and are never tired of chopping.

Airplane travel is unsafe. What the heck? Let’s get customized bullet-proof BMWs. Millions of Nigerians live in poverty. And so? Let’s spend billions of naira on a new banquet hall at Aso Rock. For years, precious litres of Nigerian blood have been spilled on our highways. Hmm interesting; let’s bang some millions of dollars on a new Presidential jet. We flyin’ high, baby. Life expectancy is low and maternal mortality is high. Ah ahn, no wahala; we are going to spend millions of naira on two animals for the Aso Rock Zoo.

I could go on and on.

Therefore, if the anti-gay law signifies the government’s readiness to listen to, and act on, the choices of the majority -the 90 percent; then Oluwa be praised. Excelsior