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

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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

Of GRE, TOEFL and ASUU

It is no longer news that the conduct of GRE & TOEFL examinations in Nigeria has been suspended indefinitely. The Educational Testing Service (ETS), the organizers of the exam, cited “security concerns” as the major reason in slamming the suspension on good ol’ Naija.
For those who have been living under rocks, or in very dark places, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are exams that are written by individuals desirous of pursuing post-graduate education in the United States.
The ETS didn’t state the nature of these ‘security concerns’ and it has become anyone’s guess. The grapevine has been abuzz with speculation that the actual reason for the suspension was the fact that -um- people had started ‘runzing’ these exams so much so that the ETS had become embarrassed, but could not admit it, of course. This news has undoubtedly ‘spoilt market’ for companies that made meals from serving as test centres for GRE & TOEFL.
US admission hopefuls now have to go down to Ghana (no surprise there) and, yes, Benin Republic to write these exams. I’m no economist but I reckon that these candidates will probably contribute to the Ghanaian & Beninoise economies before they leave. They will lodge in hotels. They’ll pay for food and transport. Some will pay for entertainment. I’ll leave it to the math whizzes to calculate the enormity of our loss.

Anyhow, let’s leave GRE and TOEFL …for now.

Some people have argued – and rightly so, I believe- that a time is coming when Nigerian students will attend Nigerian universities as an exception rather than the norm. It will be a case of mothers gently advising their son to try universities in the US, Canada, UK, South Africa and Ghana before they admit defeat and settle for lives of recycled lectures and buying handouts in UNI-whatever. Our local universities will probably be left for two sets of people: those who are too broke to go abroad (the spirit is willing but the pocket is weak) and those who have failed, repeatedly, to gain admission to a foreign school. Local private universities could introduce an interesting dynamic into this equation, but for now, let us blindside them.
ASUU embarked on a strike for many months and nobody was ‘shaking bodi’. Nigerians were inundated with, and are probably tired of, mere rhetoric and grandstanding during the fiasco. The end result is that Nigerian students are now described with choice terms like ‘half-baked’, ‘semi-cooked’, and my favourite one: ‘unemployable’. Tens of thousands of Nigerians are contributing billions of naira to Ghana in the quest for better education.
This does not undermine the merits of hard work and discipline. Some people refused to allow themselves to be half-baked, toiling into the night in order to come out well-grounded. However, there is always a limit beyond which a man can be pushed no further. Studying is enough hard work to be complicated by the Nigerian factor. A wise man once said, ‘you can’t make a baby in one month by making nine women pregnant’.
The majority of individuals who went in search of foreign degrees will soon be back. In fact, many are back and their numbers will soon reach critical mass. Armed with evidence of better education, available jobs are theirs to lose. Some employers already show discriminatory tendencies.
I recognize the certainty that no matter how good Nigerian universities are, some people will still strive to go to ‘obodo oyibo’ and study. That’s all well and good. Maybe they desire a new cultural experience or they simply have money to blow. But there is a scenario where many foreign certificated students come back with foreign solutions to local problems. What may improve consumer spending and boost the US economy may flop like a limp fish when applied in Nigeria.
And thus, it may come to pass on that fateful day, that a recruitment consultant will sit in his swanky office in Victoria Island, think awhile, and then favour the Bachelor in Engineering from Aberdeen over that from FUTO.

She’s a fine lady

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Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. But does it? I wonder who came up with that well-worn, but much loved aphorism. Sometimes, I wonder whether the females apostles of that saying use it as balm to soothe an aching and lovelorn heart, assuring it that a shining Prince Charming is just down the corner.
Well, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.
If there’s anything I learnt from the MGBN (Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria) pageant, it’s that beauty has a definition. It may be an unwritten definition but it is a definition nonetheless. All those MBGN contestants are delightful to look at; real eye candy, I wonder how those judges make the final decision. You’ve barely begun to savor the pristine beauty of Miss Lagos when the drop-dead gorgeous Miss Anambra sashays down the walkway. Society is adept at speaking from both sides of the mouth. It belts out fancy rhetoric, “Every woman is beautiful”, “You’re beautiful the way you are”, ” If Agbani Darego can do it, you can”, blah, blah, blah. Yet, we know that there is no way a fat chick will contest, talk less of win, MBGN. They-who-must-not-be-named will tell you, with unspoken word, that the line between ‘curvy and voluptuous’ and ‘fat and shapeless’ is very thin, even blurred.
The typical ‘beautiful girl’ is slender like a lily, her smile is so beautiful. We love to hear her laugh. She is so easy to look at, a sight for sore eyes. People love being with her. She is a work of art. Maybe, her farts don’t even stink. Who knows whether they have a fruity fragrant odor? Lol
Deep down in their closets, most girls know this. They want to be beautiful but can’t see it. They pose like models and dress up real cute but, in this instance, clothes don’t make the man(or woman). Lipstick, eyeliner, mascara and Brazilian hair are recruited in large numbers but when our plain Jane looks in the mirror, she still doesn’t like what she sees. Some bump it up a notch with cosmetic surgery and . . .nope . . . they still hate themselves. A few can live with it, knowing a happy life doesn’t depend (totally) on looks. Others just can’t.

On bleaching, it’s realistic to say that society factors fair women as beautiful. Lupita Nyong’o and Alek Wek are beacons of black beauty, but they are privileged exceptions. Dencia and Whitenicious will continue to spread because there will always be a demand, however subconscious, for light-skinned women. Imagine what it would look like if the next MBGN was black as night!
There is this concept that has been peddled around for quite a while. It is called ‘inner beauty ‘. Methinks it came with the ‘ religionisation ‘ of mankind, but that is a topic for another day. Suffice it to say that the current MBGN pageant is for the beauty you can see. Whether Ben Murray Bruce and his elite band of silvery merry men decide to organize a pageant for ‘ inner beauty ‘ is out of my league.
My question is simple. If I don’t fit into society’s definition of beauty, am I ugly? Sometimes, life abhors gray and comes in black and white. Excelsior!

In the begining

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After much time-wasting and dilly-dallying, I finally got around to starting a blog. Hitherto, I had been comfortable reprising the role of the proverbial chef who purchased all the tools of the trade, read a million cookery books, studied other great chefs but could not pluck up the balls to actually step into the kitchen and cook something.
I spent so much time looking at, and even analyzing, the pros and cons of WordPress, BlogSpot and other blogging sites (Yet, my choice of WordPress was, more or less, a gut decision). I read countless articles on sustaining your blog (Its amazing the sheer number of blogs that are centered on starting and sustaining a blog). I met self-acclaimed blogxperts who promised to make my blog an internet wonder of blogtastic and blognificent proportions. They would teach me all the ‘hidden tricks’ and the ‘sure-fire’ ways of good blogging, for a fee, of course.
After endless scouring of the internet, I knew that, at least, I wasn’t the only young Nigerian bitten with the blogging bug. However, other would-be bloggers seemed to be more interested in “How you can make money with blogging: A four-day guide” or “Big Bucks by Blogging”. Am I surprised? No. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a millionaire blogger like good ol’ Linda Ikeji.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to blog about, but I was sure what I DID NOT want to blog about. Society and Entertainment . . .Yuck! . . . that street is so overcrowded. Technology. . .maybe. . .but how many Nigerians are really interested in being wowed by the itty-bitty features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Blackberry Z10. Local Television or Sports. . .to see a blog in that niche would be refreshing. . . but I can’t remember the last time I caught an episode of Wale Adenuga’s SuperStory. Almost everybody is stuck on Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, Spartacus, Nikita etc .Also, young people are too busy killing themselves-literally- over Arsenal and Chelsea, to be bothered with the season fortunes of Kano Pillars or Warri Wolves.
In the end, I just decided to go for it. After all, it is better to have loved and lost than to have not loved at all. I elected to blog about the kind of things I would love to read on the internet. Personal intellectual property. Something you couldn’t get anywhere else on the Google-wide internet. For Me By Me.
So, one evening, I picked up my phone and registered my blog. A new blog was born. UnfriedGarri?! The peculiar circumstance that led to that name is between me and the chubby Igbo lady who fries akara in front of my house on Saturday mornings. Excelsior!