Thursday, November 20, 2008

The 42nd

I’m evolving.
I didn’t notice it at first. It crept slowly on me like the slow song of a relationship. You meet a girl accidentally at breakfast, you talk to her, you laugh at her jokes, you buy her dinner and then you wake the next morning to find out she has been your girlfriend for the last 3 years.
Well I woke up yesterday and realized that I have become a different kind of blogger.

I have no idea exactly what type of blogger I am becoming. I am unsure if this lethargy of mine is some seasonal hiccup which will change with the eventual passage of time or if It will remain, grow and eventually claim a full hold on me forcing me into the graveyard of bloggers where the once mighty—Ozaveshe, Littlemissme and lately ( dear God no) Afrobabe—now rest in undefined hibernation. I am full of hope that it is the former but caution prevents me from completely ignoring the later. Doing so would be a dangerous thing. A complete disregard for an unwelcome possibility.
Like a girlfriend who comes back home to find lingerie in her boyfriend’s bed.
Well in line with her wardrobe colors and designer but unsettling in that it happens to be two sizes too large.

I have been a blogger for over a year now.
When I joined Blogville it was for two reasons. I sought a medium in which I could share some of my insanity without the recriminating snorts of disgust or looks of perplexity that normally followed my voiced opinion. My year long sojourn has made me realize the flaw in my plan. It seems everyone else on Blogville joined for the same reasons. Now I wonder what I was thinking. A community comprised of bookworms, nerds and intellectual socialites—where did I get off thinking that I would be the lone alien in their written world. Back then it certainly left me shocked.
The discovery of a world where aesthetics was accepted and insanity condoned as Talent.
A world which I delightfully explored.
The second reason was just as important. I sought to become a better writer. I had at the time just finished writing a 60 paged short story that I was half satisfied with(I read it once and thrashed the story into some nameless folder on my hard drive). There are two things vital to writing a good book. Talent and Discipline. The way I saw it, if I could manage a year of regular blog writing then I could consider myself firmly on the path of the later. As far as talent was concerned I figured showcasing my writing would give me an idea of how good or terrible I really was.

A year has gone by and I have formed some idea on the subjects.
It has been an entertaining, if indeed slightly alarming, ride. I honestly do not think this fun ride of mine will come to an end. But that will depend a lot on my determination, resilience and creativity. Factors you would expect a boyfriend to have when he returns home one evening to meet his girlfriend of two years with her bag all packed up and the dining table all set out.
Served on his plate is the flaming red Bra.
Two sizes too large.

And so I write this fully determined to ensure that this is not my last post.
In truth there is very little to suggest that I have become a slow blogger. Looking over my archive I seem to have maintained a steady average of posts over the months. But blogging, as I have come to know it is not just about the posts. It is about the play behind the posts. The little comments we live from page to page, tiny notes that say we are here. We read you. We care about you. Notes that I have failed to deliver in quite a while.
I suppose this is what work does to you. A year ago I was a complaining student. Now I am an annoyed African struggling to fan his tiny life into a roaring start. My days seem more taken with work related matters and when I think of blogging, it is with the fond air of a period when I was able to find an hour in a week to type out the story of my last 7 days. An hour in which to go visiting dear friends. An hour to read the running debate for the week whilst laughing at the undefined flirting. An hour which, my watch now warns me is almost up.
This is my 42nd post. I write this fully confident that I shall return to write a 43rd. I am only uncertain as to when this will happen. It might be next week or next month. I do not know. What I do know is that I have deeply enjoyed the time I have spent with you and plead that you forgive my silence. My slip is not because I love you any less but because I love you more and wish to fulfill the high standards we have all, inaudibly, set for ourselves.
A line of defense that might have better served the philandering boyfriend had he decided to use it, instead of his blasé retort that the Flaming Red Bra belonged to his favorite Aunt who had visited him.
An argument whose shaky foundation was even further weakened by the fact that the last time his Aunt visited him, she was recovering from a Mastectomy.
A recovery which sadly resulted in complications and her death.
6 years ago.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

O' bummer!

It is hard to say who made the first call.
What is certain is shortly after, within the space of 2 minutes, almost a million more were made. The fact alone was hardly news in a country recording a population of 120 million. And then you took into consideration that the calls began at 3 in the morning. You marveled at the fact that it happened on a Tuesday—a working day. You gasped at the fact that the million calls spurned millions more. And then suddenly the news of the abnormality became worthy news.
The facts were these. Still exhausted from the rigors of a demanding Tuesday, millions of people were forcefully woken from their sleep. The reason was quickly explained. Thousands of miles away, in a country which had its time zone 6 hours behind ours, history had been made. The phone calls called for celebration. Reactions of delighted joy followed the breathless announcements. People called each other to spread the historic news.

I got a call that night.
Mine was for a different reason.
It carried behind it none of the general urge to share the good news which was propelling callers around the country. I was being called to be laughed at. I was the guy in the looking glass—A singular being of agnized negativity living amongst fellow humans—who nobody could understand.Simply put, I was one of those weirdoes who did not support Obama.
“You lost you idiot!” The first caller yelled.
Barely opening my eyes, having been asleep for a little over 4 hours and hence ignorant, I surmised quickly that this probably meant so also did McCain.

It was almost expected of me not to be in love with Obama.
I was rarely asked “Who do you support?”. Instead the assuming line of “You don’t like Obama do you?” was more often used. Born renegade, ever in need of interesting debate, it was not difficult to find myself on the other team against Obama.
In the beginning it was easy. I loved Hillary and completely supported her bid. This was no fickle cheer by some stranger who watches matches during the occasional weekend. This was the obsessed study of charts by a fan as he peers through glasses emblazoned with the logo of his club. My love for Hilary was no new thing. Ever since the Lewinsky era I had admired her strength, focus and loyalty. Attributes I believed no good leader could do without. With Hillary as president, and the equally intelligent ( and less philandric) Bill behind her, America could not hope for a better champion.
And then she lost.

I don’t hate Obama.
A lot of people have come to assume this and I, in keeping with my renegade image, have done nothing to correct that impression. I actually like him. I once sat with my youngest sister and watch her cry as she listened to him talk. The strength of his rhetoric coupled with the steady confident gaze is as powerful an attraction as a siren’s song to sailors. I admire his confidence and his discipline. His composure against attacks thrown at him which criticize his policies and question his loyalty. When Obama walks the stage he does it with the grace of a panther. Effortlessly charming the audience whilst leaving them with no doubt of the strength of his character. As I watched him with each passing day after his party nomination, I became more confident that if there was ever a worthy replacement to my candidate Hillary, he was it.
So why did I appear not to support him?

Very simple.
I was worried about the trend that seemed to be plaguing the world. Everywhere I turned more and more people seemed inclined to have Obama as a president not as a result of the attributes that I was in love with, but for a simpler basal trait. He was an African American. It seemed ridiculous to me that a person’s vote was based primarily on the appearance of his candidate’s skin. All over Nigeria everyone was pro Obama. Not very many people had listened to his debate and even fewer had any idea of what his policies were. Nonetheless, everyone was in complete support of his bid for presidency. Everywhere I turned I was swept with the wave of Obama-mania carried by people who had no substance behind their glee.
I pondered the logic of the situation. The irrationality of voiced sentiments. The absolute danger behind the ecumenical movement.

History warns of the blind worship of new leaders.
Hitler. Idi Amin. Obasanjo.
All three were welcomed into office with loud cheers in the streets. All three ended up being dismal failures at their jobs, spawning a sad tale of irrational murders, kidnapping and unrestrained corruption. Even more interesting was the period at which each assumed power. Their individual nations were at all time low with the economy in stutters. The general public walked with their backs hunched against the mantle of the nation’s ill health. The people were sick of the way they were living and demanded an end to their suffering. Unsurprisingly, in situations of domestic revolt the first head to be chopped of is usually the leader. The people demanded a new king. One who would fix things. One who would ease their burden. One who would bring about that which their every cell called for as it churned in the blood of wretchedness.

I believe it is possible for America to change. I, in fact, fully expect her too.
I am not worried about that. I am worried at the perception of everyone that a singular change of government is going to bring about an immediate change. 46 years ago Martin Luther king asked for a change in the country. 46 years later his wish was answered with the election of the first African American.
46 years.
America is at an all time low. Never, since the great depression, has her economy suffered as badly as it currently is. There are some who would suggest that compared to the depression of the 30’s this is even worse. That is not the issue. What is is how long the much needed revival is going to take. In his acceptance speech Obama pointed this out to everyone saying “….It might take a term to achieve this but , America, I have never been more hopeful.”(A paraphrase). I personally would have been much happier if he had used the word “confident” instead of “hopeful” but the man knows his politics. It would be suicide for anyone to promise a change of the magnitude expected by the American public. I realize that. I do not expect much to change until his second term simply because it will take years for his plans to show fruit but how many voters actually know this?

The issue of America’s health is a serious one in that it affects us all. The Terrorist can groan all they want but if they did eventually get rid of the “Infidels” like they keep threatening to do , they would wake up to find they had an abundance of unwanted goats living in pens feeding on the sparse vegetation the arab desert and occasionally swimming in pools of unused ,by virtue of its niemity, crude oil.
The truth is the well being of the world assumes a precondition that America is equally well. If the United States falters (as it has) then inevitable other economies world wide will falter as well. (As it did.)
If a country’s well being is assumed as important to the health of the world then it follows that more attention be given to the leader of said nation. More thought should be paid to the decision of a successor than the color of his skin.
Barak Obama is an impressive man with incredible potential. And yet I dare say that were this not so—if by some weird chance some idiotic African American with the backings of the Democrats was nominated as presidential candidate—the just concluded wave of singular trait worship ,coupled with the desperate need for change, would have swept him just as overwhelmingly into office.
This is not impossible. How else did George W. Bush get elected president?

Hasn’t the time come when people are more concerned about what the candidate can do for the country and less about who he is? Today the media announces that the election was not about race. I beg to differ. It was mostly about race. If indeed the well being was chief in the minds of the American public then Obama might never have survived the primaries. The polls show that Obama was voted in by an overwhelming number of the black and young demographic. If ten were to be picked and asked what informed their decision 9 of them would reply with words associated with “Change”, “African American” and “being cool”. In an election designed to select the leader of the free world it is absurd that this is what it boils down too. The cosmetic plebeian perception of the masses. A selection based more on racial profiling than on the candidate’s official qualification for the position being lobbied.

Do not get me wrong.
I believe there were millions of people who made an informed decision to vote for Obama. In all likelihood there was very little in way of preventing a Democratic return to power. The Republicans had done such a good job destroying the virtues of the nation that the people would have had to be extremely blind to have returned them to power. Obama’s victory was surprising not because of the Party’s triumph but because of the person who the Democrats approved to ride their Seabiscuit.

The very play of sensation against sensibilities was evident in the final lap. Barack Obama picked a vice president because he understood that, for the few Americans out there who were not caught up in the hebdomadal countdown to possible history being churned by the media, his foreign policy and knowledge was reason enough to lose him some of their votes. Hence the choice of Biden—a man designed to satisfy those who demanded enterprising leaders instead of entertaining one. Senator Mc Cain on the other hand astutely realized that where common sense was involved he would be hard put to gain a following outside that which he already had ( The diehard republican faithful.) and so he seized on the genius idea of riding the wave of sensationalism. Sarah Palin was a good counter to Obama’s social fame. With that singular act Mc Cain sought to pull with him more people. People from the demographic where race, sex and a candidate’s glass were good enough reasons to get voted into office. And unsurprisingly, up until the financial meltdown his daedal plan was actually working.

I argued with people to make them think.
A time must come when we make decisions based on individually contemplated review and not on the hand painted presented worth given by the media and ultimately the majority public. There must come a time when we vote with reason. There must come a time when a man’s rhetoric, as charming as it might be, will not be enough to sway our decision not to support him if his mettle does not charm us accordingly. Eloquence is expected of leader. Fustian and witty rhetoric is the trademark of a politician.
Being a successful leader requires the ability to charm your followers.
Being a successful follower requires the strength to look through the charm and point out the murk that exists beneath—if any. If we do not study our leader we end up with the Hitlers of the world.
A nation is only as strong as its people.

I am delighted with Obama’s victory.
I am excited about what it stands for.
My only wish was that his victory was more as a result of confident belief in the man and less on the public need of hope and the infantile decision to change the history books just because…we can. Obama sought to be elected as president but instead got an approval as a savior. I look forward to his administration and pray that the American people find patience with him. Something they normally would have had, had their decision to vote for him been based on a realistic idea of what he could achieve and not (as it mostly was) on a dream of some Messianic president who would fix everything with his African wand in his very first year.

Writing this blog the irony of my situation does not evade me.
Many of the people trapped by sensationalism do not read. They are dependent more on the word shared on the streets and the glitz of cameras. Writing an article complaining about the social situation is an exercise drenched in futility. The only people who will ever get to read this are people who really do not need too. People who are used to reading and listening and then thinking.
There is little more I can do but that which I have always done. Persist in my role as a part time renegade—Challenging commonly accepted truths in a bid to make people search for the ingrained reason that makes it true. If it makes me appear a hater of Obama and spurs them on to find reasons to effectively counter my assumed disloyalty then I shall have done society some small service.
Come January I shall welcome Obama into office with a content smile.
But deep in my heart shall lurk the dark worry that despite thousands of years of painful experience the human race is still terribly fickle. Still worryingly pliable to the whims of the majority and the circumstances of the time. Particularly in moments of crisis. History will always be a willing teacher as long as we keep returning for the same lesson.
There is very little I can do, I suppose.
Except give little lectures, annoy a few more clueless Obama supporters and answer amusing early morning calls.
It is every man’s right to vote.
I only just wish, we all voted for the right reasons.

God bless us all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A month gone.

I blame work.
I’ve been chained to it.
It has taken upon itself the task of making me a better person. It swings at me every morning−forcing me out of bed−Drawing from me moans which, given the early hours of the morning, might be mistaken as erotic moans of protest against a continuance of coital activity. It goes with me when I go to the bathroom watching as I struggle not to pass out on the loo. I take a cold bath in the shivering cold of the morning praying that come sunrise, my day will be a lot easier. It’s usually too early because most of the time God is asleep and doesn’t hear my prayer.
Lately I have been considering the annoying possibility that maybe he does hear my prayer. Maybe he just reads my prayer and then tosses it aside with an unconcerned chuckle as he moves over to attend to prayers from his current favorite son−Some big eared humanoid that goes by the unimpressive name of Obama.
If God does have a hand with the workings of my last month then I hope he realizes that, unlike Job, a couple of hundred sheep will do nothing to soothe me. It probably will take a thousand of sheep. Each with an attending and obedient shepherd girl (preferably dressed in French maid outfits) and an accompanying secretary.
The 100 cars are a given.

So yes.
My ranting aside, there lies the reason behind my month long silence. I have been working. In the last one month I have visited 4 different states. Some for only a night and some for more than a week. The two most important of these visits would be Abuja (The source of my last month's headache) and Bayelsa, home of the only other thing that takes residence in my mind aside from work. Andromeda.

Two weeks ago I was in the Nigerian Senate. In retelling this tale it has come to my attention that whenever I mention the fact that the last one month I have being doing some work for a Senator, people gasp with delight, roll their eyes and proceed to peek out the window in search of the flashiest car--which no doubt ( Nigerian logic dictates ) would be mine.
I hope I won’t have to put up with that here.
Yes I did do a bit of work for a Senator, but sadly (so says my mum) my life is pretty much the same. I was given none of those insane payments that NTA seems to talk about so much. In fact, if anything I was actually underpaid. A fact that didn’t bother me then because I was counting on the fact that work for a Senator would look pretty impressive on my resume not to mention open further avenues to more lucrative ( think high profile) work.
The Jury is still out on whether that was a smart idea on my part.

By far the most interesting part of my senate sojourn was sitting with a Senator’s Aide and some other important people and listen to them groan about how lazy some Senators were. It amazed me because their irritation and concern was genuine. They really wanted to do some honest work to help Nigeria. It greatly helped repaint the image I had of our Nigerian senate. One that involved parties behind closed doors and nonstop wild bacchanal orgies. Hope it appeared still floated in the halls of Epimetheus. She was just taking to bloody long to get things done.

The second part of my interstate travel involved Andromeda.
There are three reasons why I hadn’t blogged about her much.
1.) I was worried about jinxing what we had. Call me old fashioned but I have come to experience that when something is too good to be true, talking about it will probably make it disappear. I am yet to get over the shock of Santa Claus. You don’t want to get me started on Santa Claus.

2) Probably even more worrying was the fact that I really didn’t know what we had.
True; we like each other.
True. We had spent the last 4 months hanging out every weekend (save two weekends when she had to travel).
True. We had become very good friends.
True. We had broken the MTN texting record 7 times (our current record stands at 253 messages sent in one day).
And yet despite all this established truth I was uncertain as to where exactly our relationship stood. Or where it was headed too.

3) I hadn’t blogged much about her because--well-- I hadn’t blogged much.

And so it was that three weeks ago I took a trip to Bayelsa to see Andromeda. My intentions varied but chief on the list was a determination to have some sort of definition given to our relationship. I had to figure what exactly the last 4 months between us was. What it had been. And what it was going to be. A month of being prodded by work had thought me the merits of efficiency. I was going to Bayelsa to see Andromeda. I was going to do something about our relationship status. It just didn’t make sense that I would wake up in the morning only to spend the rest of it in a dream involving her. My friends had stopped answering my calls because (they claimed) I was no longer fun.
One way or another something had to change.

I spent 4 days in Bayelsa.
IN retelling this tale it worries me that whenever I get to this part the listener gives out a gasp (something between shock, delight and surprise) and immediately looks at my fingers in search of some glittering ring. Romance it seems lurks in the hearts of most Nigerians and nothing makes better gossip than a hasty engagement.
Really! It’s so ridiculous at times I wonder at the sanity of most Nigerians. I blame Nollywood. Fortunately I will not have to put up the same with the Blog folk. There is something to be said for anonymity. Gasp might be uttered out there in cyberspace but I am not obliged to hear it. If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it. Has it fallen?
SO yes. I spent 4 days in Bayelsa. Yes we came to some sort of understanding. Yes I did not work those lovely 4 days. Yes it is an interesting story.
I see your eyes all widened with interest. What was the nature of our compromise you wonder? How did my four day sojourn end?
Well I’ll tell you.
Or rather. I would tell you. Except I don’t want to have it jinxed.
Yes Jinxed!
Haven’t you been reading?
You really don’t want to get me started on Santa Claus.