4/9/12: The pressures of lagos life

Slowly but surely I am starting to understand why Nigerians behave the way we do. Although I still believe that some of our behaviour is backward and unnecessarily aggressive there is often some logical motivation behind it. I mean maybe it is better than the random stabbings that happen to random people in the UK? Often it’s due to the mounting frustration of a life where even the basic amenities aren’t consistently working or provided for by the government. Driving in Nigeria is something that I could never do; firstly, the roads are so ridiculously impossible to manoeuvre that I’m certain any car that I drove would get stuck in a ditch within a day. Don’t even get me started on the time my friends and I almost died when our car got stuck in a big ditch in lekki when it was raining, and Lekki’s supposed to be one of the upper class areas, KMT. Secondly, I’m sure you are all too familiar with the failure of the government to provide clean running water for all, tarmac roads, high quality education and consistent electricity for the people. Oh, and not to forget that no financial benefits are available for those seeking a job, the elderly, disabled or even the parentless. The problems that arise as a result of these issues are so many that I don’t even need to explain why this results in a general attitude of bitterness and nonchalance amongst the people.

I’m sorry to say but this country STINKS! I’m guessing no thanks to the open sewer system. I mean, if you ask a random male naija graduate what he studied at uni, 80% of them would proudly state ‘engineering’. Yet the country has nothing 2 show 4 it! Why can’t they engineer a better sewage system? Preferably one that isn’t openly exposed, so little children who are innocently playing nearby don’t skip a step too far and topple into pools of foul-smelling, urine, shit and a concoction of other unfathomable things, contracting diseases that could end their short little lives. When I got typhoid I literally thought I was going to die; could hardly walk, eat or sleep and all I could think about was how I would be leaving this world without seeing my beloved friends and family that I love so much. Would you believe that there was a time that I collapsed naked in the bathtub whilst being chaperoned by my younger cousin, screaming, crying and drooling because I just couldn’t take feeling so low. This is what Naija does to you peeps, takes you to the edge of sanity and back. Even to this day my right bum cheek is paralysed from the multiple shots I got in my ass, they were supposed to combat the typhoid but let’s hope they didn’t give me hepatitis instead. Anything is possible in Naij, especially since the dude that did my blood test seemed utterly unconcerned by the significance of maintaining a sterilized environment in the hospital, seeing as his dusty feet rested happily on the work surface where the samples lay.

But I guess Naija isn’t that bad when you’re surrounded by some cool peeps. I have never enjoyed the company of my family as much as I have in Naij. My aunt from the UK recently visited and the woman CRACKS ME UP! People call me Oyinbo but she is an Oyinbo extremist. The way she squirms at every little thing. Her rendition of her visit to Church had me peeing myself. Firstly she described how she had to queue next to a creepy crawly infested STANKULATING sewer which reeked so strongly she swears wisps of green smoke were emanating from it. So after the gas chamber she entered the church, eagerly followed by the green fog. After half an hour of witnessing the eccentric shrieks and dance moves of her fellow worshippers, and dubiously tolerating the incomprehensible vocals that they sang, she grew uncomfortable and started suspecting foul play. She explained that no one and nothing can be trusted in Nigeria. Even in church you need to be careful; their so called hymns could be incantations to conjure witches and all sorts of unspeakable creatures, and not to mention that the offering which should be used to glorify god and uplift the church is likely going towards the pastors new Rolls-Royce.

Some may call me skeptical but I’m just being real. This is what Naija has done to me. You cant trust anyone. Now that I work in corporate communications I read a lot of articles, and one that seems to have stuck in my head is the story of the little boy being sold by his aunt (his father’s sister) to some random men for rituals. What makes It worse is how this woman deceptively joined the search party to look for the boy along with many other worried relatives whilst knowing all the while that she had sold him! tut-tut. Oh, and let me not forget the story of the young women who innocently entered a bus at a bus stop to find that the driver drove them into an unknown bush and attempted to behead them for ritual purposes. I mean WTF!! It’s bad enough knowing that this country is full of psychos, and admittedly England along with many other countries has its fair share of mental patients, however the motivations behind the evil deeds are what really scare me. The fact that people are willing to stoop sooo low to use other people’s bodies or blood as sacrifices to these unknown evil spirits, scares the heck out of me. That is something that I never want to come across in my life, and unfortunately it’s a reflection of how desperate the Naija citizens have become to having wealth and power. Unbelievably it seems like so many people in Naij have a few stories about their encounters with pure evil, whether human or supernatural, and to be honest that is not something I can come across and still have my wits about me. All I can say is that the pressures of Lagos are enough to drive an individual insane or dead. God help us all!

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4/9/12: Transport in Naija

OMG I take it back! I don’t want to become a hateful individual but I can’t stand them Okada dudes! I mean would u believe that my valiance at riding to Silverbird, racing through the frenzied traffic to meet my impatient friend for a film, was rewarded by me being slapped by some dirty Okada driver? I mean slapped; two dirty, grotesque, grease covered hands forcefully shoved into this fragile, innocent-looking face??! What an abomination! It happened as I was patiently waiting by the side of the road, tryna find a gap within which to dash across the furious traffic, seeing as Lagosians drive like manic lunatics! Desperate to get to their destinations regardless of how many victims result. So I’m standing by the side of the road, eyes darting furiously to no avail, and here comes the crazy Okada man driving recklessly around the cars, dodging pedestrians and jumping over sewers, driving relentlessly towards me! It’s next victim. Dude obviously wasn’t satisfied with driving on the road and decided that he would stupidly mount the dusty pavement where innocent bystanders were standing, and as he carelessly did so he felt the need to throw his hands in my face and shout some incoherent babble as I jumped back aghast, outraged at this mindless man who was escaping in the mud, seemingly proud of his shameful achievement.

In my opinion if Nigeria wants to progress even a little bit it would ban okadas from being on the road, or at least make sure that the divers undergo a rigorous training course so they are not driving around like headless chickens, or maybe put strict regulations on drink driving or using mobile phones. But noooo Naija being the joke that it is has instead decided to implement half-hearted traffic rules, such as banning drivers from eating whilst they drive. OMG and those Danfo buses need to have capacity restrictions! How can the door be wide open with people loosely blowing in the wind, putting their lives in the hands of a loose grip, and not to forget the random dude wearing sooty clothes and loose slippers, clinging to the exhaust pipe for dear life with his big toe. Just the other day I was told how one of those buses manically drove off the Falomo Bridge, plunging into the watery abyss that swallowed the lives of its poor passengers. When I look at that bridge I can’t fathom how the driver managed it. He must have been going so fast that the wheels flew like a bird over the TWO barriers resulting in the devastating accident. Ultimately it all comes down to lawlessness and poverty. The government is at fault because they don’t guide the people, educating them on what is right or wrong, additionally it’s likely that the Danfo drivers were victims of poverty, just desperate men desperate to exceed the rent of the vehicle and bring in some income to their needy families.

But these accidents don’t just happen to the impoverished. Recently a fellow youth corper and Oando colleague died in a fatal car accident. When I heard I was deeply saddened along with many others. Dude was just one of us; Young guy who journeyed back to Naij from UK just to do his NYSC. To be honest it just angered me. Travelling in Naij is not safe at all at all. I know accidents happen everywhere but in Naija death is so common that you can’t help to become zealously religious or call upon some omnipotent power that transcends this world for protection. And rather than conveying their sympathies some heartless people made ignorant comments like, “Well that’s what happens when you drink and drive!” Well you Ignoramuses! For 1) there is no proof that dude was actually drinking. In fact it seems he was speeding home to meet up with some friends. 2) Everyone is human. We all have accidents. And although a lot of deluded people think they know it all. YOU DON’T! So get off your high horse and show some human compassion because you never know, it could happen to you.

Unfortunately, we never know when our time will come. This impending doom is heart-wrenchingly scary but I guess it’s a horrid fact of life that we are definitely going to have to live with. What kills me is that people seem to be dying so young, like roses they were blossoming and reaching their peaks, when death sinisterly decided to uproot them. So many innocent people died in that Dana air crash and so close to home: s not to forget the numerous people that have been crushed by rusted old oil-tankers on the road, or burnt to death due to oil spills. God help us all. I wish people would realize that it isn’t all about making money. Cutting corners in quality can ultimately lead to the death of so many people, but in this corrupt country that is Nigeria nonchalance has poisoned the minds of many and making money is all that concerns them in this dog eat dog world.

10/7/12:Not too long now

Wow it seems that the last time I updated this blog was in March. To be honest it’s because I just couldn’t be assed, along with the fact that I have been doing more work at work thus leaving me with less time to just faff around. Thinking about it, maybe it’s because I have been spending every ounce of time and energy within me counting down the days till this godforsaken service is over.

I officially have around 3 months left till I pass out and finally conclude this monumental suffering that is NYSC. I’ve been through so much ish over this so called service that I am now mentally and emotionally drained. I just don’t care anymore. I mentioned earlier that I was contemplating playing the game and investing in some bribery, well… let’s just say that things have been looking up and I have been spending less time melting under the relentless Naija sun. CD was becoming kinda unbearable seeing that most of my friends were in batch B who have now passed out, thus my days were spent sitting on some dusty rock somewhere carving out random symbols in the mud with a dried out twig. Fun times! KMT. General CD is still a chore though. A new local government inspector (LGI) has been appointed. This dude has strolled in head held high and whistling a hopeful tune. The first meeting he held, he went on and on about how stories had been circulating about the waywardness and problematic behavior of the corpers in our LGA, thus he was here to save us! Put a stop to this wayward behaviour and lead us away from the road to ruin and down the path of righteousness. LMAO We’ll see. The first change he put into practise was making us sit through several lectures before he finally signed the cards of the Special CD group then, one by one signed the cards of the DRAMA CD members. As you could imagine signing our cards one by one was no mean feat, firstly because it meant that we all had to queue up in the cramped passage outside of the office, hundreds of frustrated sweaty corpers ebbing back and forth, fighting to make it through the narrow door for the golden signature that would rid them of this hell. In such a situation all manners go out of the window, everyone is genderless and out to reach their desired goals regardless of the consequences. I’m quite ashamed to say but I thrive in such situations and find it gloriously entertaining; maybe because I am a tomboy at heart and revel in this power battle, or possibly because I am deceptively good at dodging and diving, ultimately snaking my way to the front without a hair out of place. You know! 🙂

So apart from CD life isn’t so bad. Recently I met up with my cousins from my mother’s side. It is really heart-warming to discover that you have such a big family. So many people that love and adore me that I don’t even know. Initially I found this really freaky seeing as they could recall personal details about me when I had no idea who they were, but after a while I grew accustomed and even started to revel in it. At least now if I got kidnapped by some ruthless armed robbers or run over by a mindless okada driver then someone would be looking for me, or available to fundraise for my ransom. YAY for family! Another great thing is that I feel really protected. I don’t have any brothers so having so many older male cousins is refreshing and slyly beneficial seeing as I can get them to drive me around, take me out and most importantly PAY!! Hehehehe I must say that being in Naija has unleashed the gold-digger in me. I am most definitely taking advantage of the Nigerian male’s ego and his desire to prove that he can provide. If you wanna pay then you’re more than welcome 🙂

25/3/12: The Low down on Naija dudes

As I type this, I type in frustration. I am just annoyed at how annoyingly arrogant some guys can be. One guy in particular is pissing me off to the extreme. Dude says girls from England are rude, okay I guess to some extent we are because we have been raised according to a totally different culture. At least I can admit it. The fool seems to think that everything he does is right even when he’s soooo wrong. I mean seriously wrong. I blame myself for taking on his wahala in the first place. I really shouldn’t give him the time of day but being the slyly manipulative child that I am, I figured that being friendly would mean he would be more willing to do me favours. Unfortunately there has been one in particular that I have been in need of occasionally, causing me to reluctantly call upon his assistance, this being due to the fact that I get to and from work via the assistance of a really nice guy that lives in my apartment, but lately his work schedule has been getting so hectic that he cant always take me and I’m left rideless :(. It is then, and only then, that I resort to idle chit chat with this other dude, expertly slipping in how I’m left rideless in an all so innocent and alluring voice, ultimately resulting in him generously making an offer briefly saving me from the predicament. I mean, anythings better than wasting 3,000 naira on some run-down, foul-smelling, overpriced taxi, and I was genuinely starting to like him (AS A FRIEND). He was cool to talk to, seemed down to earth and was actually generous enough to adapt his working schedule to better suit me, not to forget he had some peas from working in a good oil company. Plus at times when I was seriously suffering from boredom, dude would offer to take me places to just hang out, like shoprite or a bar or whatever.

I’m sure some of you may be wondering. If this guy is so cool then why don’t you like him more than a friend? Errrr for one, He’s Nigerian! I know it might sound bad like I’m rejecting my own people and that I’m in denial of my Nigerian roots but ABEG FORGET THAT ONE! I ain’t in denial of Jack! I want a guy with European citizenship so that under no circumstances will I find myself married and a prisoner to this wayward country. Another thing, I just don’t find him attractive. Yeah he’s tall but no other feature on his body is attractive to me, if you don’t have a face that I can look at over and over again and still think you’re subtly beautiful then forget it! Plus he’s old! I mean going on 30, and his taste in music and out-dated, disjointed dance moves just scream OLD MAN. One time he took me out to this nice, chic and stylish bar. The music was good, the atmosphere was nice and the milkshakes were killer! The only thing that killed it was the fact that I was with him. Don’t wanna be mean but dude cramped my style on another level. I was dancing, jamming expertly to the groove as I do 🙂 and dude just breaks out with these crazy embarrassing grandaddy dance moves! I was like WTF. And he wasn’t drunk because I’d been keeping an eye on his alcohol consumption (Nigerians seem to think they are immune to alcohol). He simply thought his eccentric bordering on epileptic dance moves were cool. I must admit, the first time I laughed. I mean, who wouldn’t? such a sight was monstrously hilarious! but after he repeated the moves again and again with such a strained look of concentration on his face I gradually realised that the dude was in fact …trying. Yes trying, not flaring his limbs manically in a vain attempt to get some laughs but actually trying to coordinate his limbs in a manner which looked vaguely acceptable. I tell you, his little jig was anything but acceptable, and what made it worse was the fact that he was dancing near me, all attempts at hiding in the corner and pretending not to know this strange man were futile. He kept waving his arms around, punching both hands simultaneously in the air, all whilst bopping his head and skipping back and forth towards ME. Lord have mercy! I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole! dude was just too embarrassing. My laughs were soon replaced with scorching tears. The only thing I can think of that even vaguely resembles such a horrific scene is Simon’s dancing from the inbetweeners, with everything down to the passionate lip bite. If that wasn’t enough, dude had the nerve to act all animalistic and territorial when around me. Some guy approached to compliment me on my dance moves, and like a crazed gorilla he picked me up in his arms and squeezed me so tightly, I could feel the air draining from my lungs. I had to kick and punch so I wouldn’t pass out. WHAT A TWAT! It was like he was trying to make some sort of statement to the other guys. Might as well have grunted “This gal mine” into the DJ’s microphone then roared and beat his cheat. What kinda foolishness??? One thing I’m noticing is that Naija guys are really possessive. Take a female friend out and feel like they own her. This is the second time I’ve been out and a Naija guy has had the nerve to lay his hands on me as a sign of being my possessor; the first time I was in the club and might as well have had a gag, handcuffs and shackles on because dude obviously thought he was my master. They definitely need a reality check. Until I have an engagement ring on my finger the only people that can lay claim to me are my parents, God and myself. Simples.

Anyhoo. So after this incident I kept my distance from this manic-dancer dude. But then he genuinely apologised and said he didn’t mean anything by it, so being the amazingly kind person I am I forgave and forget. Anyhoo I made him make up for it by giving me lifts to a few places. My NYSC friends couldn’t stop laughing. Kept calling him this word that I cant quite remember but I’m sure it had something to do with him being my Bitch. Lol and at that time, I think he actually was. If it was me, unless I was trying to woo the person I wouldn’t care enough to be giving them a lift, however he claimed he didn’t like me like that and since I was getting free lifts and wasn’t giving anything back then what the heck? ! A week or so later dude begged me to be his valentine. To be honest I wasn’t the least bit interested in being any Naija boys valentine. No valentines could ever compare to the one I spent last year with my ex, which was definitely a day to remember. But dude kept trying to convince me that valentines day wasn’t only for lovers, but friends could share it too. I told him there and then I wasn’t interested in him but he persisted, claimed that he wouldn’t be asking me if he actually had someone to be with, he merely wanted company on Vals day. So reluctantly I was like ok…. if you get me a nice gift and deliver it to my office so all my colleagues are jealous. And so he did. Unfortunately delivering the gifts in person, which kinda pissed me off because I didn’t want people to be thinking that me and this dude had a thing, couldn’t he have had it delivered? GOSH! Anyhoo, with a cheeky smile I quickly snatched the presents and ushered him out of the building. Low and behold, in a nicely decorated bag was some chocolate, wine, wine glasses and coco Chanel perfume. Mmmmm not bad considering I’m not giving him anything in exchange. As I was finishing up with work he told me to take the taxi home and he would pick me up to take me to some swanky restaurant. To be honest I actually started looking forward to it since he’d assured me he’d try to pull out all of the stops. So there I am. Waiting at home for this dude who claims that he’s still stuck at work because the mechanic hadn’t returned with his bike. YAAAAWN. I knew that once it had passed 7pm and he was still saying the same thing, this swanky restaurant deal was not going to happen. If I had genuinely liked him I would have been distraught, but since he was giving and I was just getting I was disappointed but not really upset. I had the presents, all I wanted was the fancy food, then I could go to sleep a real G ;), but instead I was forced to sleep through the rest of my vals alone 😦 oh well.

After that I didn’t want to talk to dude again. I mean, he went through the hassle of convincing me and then for some lame reason or another he couldn’t turn up on time? WOTEVA MAN. What really pissed me off was how the arrogant old man just couldn’t seem to see past his ego at why I would be annoyed in the first place. Making statements like ‘you’re not my girlfriend’, ‘I only asked you because I had no one else’ blah blah blah. All of this ish I knew anyway. But the matter of fact is, I didn’t wna spend vals day with him, he went out of his way to convince me, thus if you’d made that commitment to someone and made them to expect something when before they weren’t expecting anything, aren’t you obligated to try as hard as you can to fulfil this commitment that YOU forced upon me and made? But nooooo dude tried to make me out as a jealous wife who had been abandoned by her hubby! and kept saying because we were just friends he wasn’t obligated to turn up in the first place. The words egotistical, self-centred, vaginal-wart-faced man come to mind! ahhhh he gets on my nerves. So after that we stopped talking for a while…..until I needed a ride. hehehehehehe

So rapidly I mended the friendship and a few rides later he offers to make me feel better after being quite ill, by taking me to dinner. That was cool, until we both ordered our food and he insisted that he needed to make a phone call to this girl he has been trying to woo. To be honest, dude is almost 30 so I was more than encouraging, trying to give his arrogant ass some advice on this girl. I didn’t mind him calling her, naturally assuming that he would have had enough manners to talk to her a short while and then tell her he’ll call her back later because he was with a friend. But I was way too kind to assume good of his character, because dude strutted off out of the restaurant and 2 hours later with the phone still pressed against his ear he returned, sat in the chair and continued to talk in front of me for 10 more minutes. By the time he finally got off the phone I was in shock, paralysed by a combination of fury and complete and utter outrage! For the first hour I kept myself company by bbm messaging frantically so I didn’t look like a complete loner. But after an hour passed I started to look suspicious. I had finished my food and his was on the opposite side of the table completely cold. I’m sure the waitresses were strolling past wondering whether dude had up and left and I was now stranded with the bill. I was thinking exactly the same thing! I had seen it happen in Nigerian movies but never did I think it could happen to me. The only thing flashing through my mind was the image of how they stripped the guy because he couldn’t pay the bill! God forbid that would ever happen to me! could it? Ahhhhh the thought alone filled me with crazy anxiety. I phoned him several times and he didn’t pick up, after a while I was gaining the courage to ask the waitress if she could direct me to the ATM so that I could pay the bill and up and leave. Mere seconds later he strutted in. All proud and broad shouldered, rolling his eyes as if she’d just told him a funny joke. I was trembling with annoyance. Can you believe that rather than an apology, the first thing that came out of this dudes mouth was a giggly ‘Bim, how far now?’ I felt to slap the smirk off his dirty face. What’s worse is that I couldn’t communicate my anger by ranting and screaming because my throat was sore and I was losing my voice . I simply said “I cant believe you would do that. You obviously have no respect for me”. In response that cheeky MTF had the nerve to go on about how I’m always overreacting, how women say one thing and mean another since I’m the one that said he could make the call. Before my vision turned blood red I ran to the car and blocked my mind from the world, just concentrating on my breathing. Since that day I haven’t seen that self-centred ass-licker again! neither do I plan on doing so.

On a lighter note…. not all Naija men are all that bad. There’s one in particular that has gained my confidence and we’ve become best of friends. Even if he likes me like so many others have been whispering in my ear, he acts gentleman enough to control his feelings and cares for me like a great friend would. Taking me out every now and then, checking up on me when I’m sick etc. Have a feeling we’re gonna be friends for a long long long time. However guys at my workplace have been hounding him because he spends too much time with me and is apparently blocking them. Hahahahahaha how amusing! regardless of whether he was there or not they would have no chance so maybe it’s best he stays just to protect their egos because if they happen to get past that obstacle I wont hesitate to put them on the WALL OF SHAME, WALL OF SHAME!

15/3/12: NYSC a waste of time or a waste of time

In case anyone ever plans on doing this Shameful, disgraceful, near-blasphemous excuse of a scheme called NYSC I figured I would give you the most detailed explanation of it that I could, so that you could make an informed decision about whether you want to put yourself through such suffering. Honestly, I cant say that I regret the decision because I know that in the future it will definitely benefit me, but at the same time being here is so frustrating that I often question whether I was in a sane state of mind when I made it. Okay, so basically NYSC consists of 3 weeks of orientation which takes place in a barely habitable camp, most likely resembling the conditions of a slum or possibly a concentration camp, thereafter you are forced to undergo 11 months of slave labour/extreme exploitation working for a company you’ve been posted to. Unfortunately not all are as elite as myself, failing to have the adequate contacts to manipulate their posting to a suitable company where they would actually be doing some sort of work that would prevent their brain cells from slowly decaying and wasting away. But even if you are posted to a good company it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presence would be valued and that your time would be spent carrying out tasks which could better your knowledge of anything in any way. Number 1 thing to remember; NYSC is a completely selfish scheme that is not made to benefit the fresh graduate desperate to soak in knowledge and gain work experience, or members of the community who could genuinely use a little help cleaning up the streets and educating the children, but in fact the organisations who get cheap labour and save money that goes into the pockets of the already illegally wealthy. Corpers are the lowest of the low, made to survive on a meagre allowance which can hardly pay for ones transport and feeding for the month. And yes the government has increased the allowance to 19,800NGN, however due to the subsidy removal the price of more or less everything has increased, plus the NYSC government rarely even pay people’s allowances regularly. I haven’t been paid since I started in December, and I have some friends that have been serving for around 8 months and haven’t been paid once. I’m thinking that they’re hoping we would get so fed up with the chaotic and nonsensical system that we wouldn’t be bothered to chase up the money, but these peeps obviously don’t know about me. MATE I’m too much of a stingy Ijebu kinda gal to let anyone, let alone the pot-bellied goats in the government chop my money. Even if it takes me bribing police to raid that place and collect my just dues. Life’s a hustle man, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. And what if the Corpers were actually surviving on that money? literally relying on it for the basic necessities. These people are so selfish they don’t even think about that, or should I say they just don’t care. Sadly it seems like many Nigerians have the attitude that they are doing you a favour doing their job, thus if you want something you better beg, wait and watch me take my time. If it gets done it gets done, but if it doesn’t well…. meh. CUSTOMER SERVICE OH CUSTOMER SERVICE WEITIN U DEY GO?

Now it’s time for me to give you the low down on CD. CD stands for community development, and is something you have to take part in every week till service finishes. The only reason I go is because you have to have at least 75% attendance or you don’t get your NYSC certificate at the end, or so I’ve been told. For me CD has been an experience and a half. First and foremost, do not be deceived by the name ‘community development’ in know way is your time spent enhancing the community in anyway. Initially I dreamt of partaking in fundraisers, building schools, educating and entertaining the young, but as soon as I arrived in Naija I knew that any chance of organised activity was out of the question. 1) because people just don’t care 2)because people just don’t care. After I realised that, I just joined any CD group that took place on Friday so that I could have a 3 day weekend, just hoping that I could go, get my card signed and get outta there! But low and behold nothing in Naija runs so smoothly. Every Friday I go to CD wearing vomit-green coloured khaki trousers and a baggy white T-shirt. Not the most flattering of numbers but can’t say I expected more considering the Naija fashion sense lol. Some people tailor their trousers to fit, but I refuse to spend any money altering this piece of ISH I am obligated to yet detest wearing. Anyway, it’s not like there are any fine, well mannered, cultured and relatively BAWLIN’ Naija brothers out there I want to attract so who cares?

So CD takes place in this ancient, broken-down disgrace of a building called the L.G.A (Local government area) where you’re forced to stand around in the blistering heat and under the scorching sun, weeping as the the pungent smell of your skin slowly burning fills your nostrils. I mean it’s just madness! My once milk chocolate brown skin has now become a charred dirty brown colour; kinda like when you’ve eaten a lot of ish and you force out a sturdy poo that looks like charcoal from the furnace. Not that I’ve ever done that :/. So after roasting for a few hours the bipolar leader of my CD group finally decides that she has wasted our time enough and reluctantly signs and hands out the CD cards we are so desperate to collect. I mean, the woman has issues. Sometimes I overhear her grumbling to herself, having some deranged argument over whether she should hand out the cards or leave them to fester in her possession. There have been times when I’ve politely asked her to sign and shes replied by screaming manically “clear this place Jo!” and furiously gesturing for me to go away, so of course I hastily make my escape, for her to start laughing and giggling about me being her daughter whilst violently pulling me back into place as she scribbles over my card. What on earth?! her eccentric ways never fail to surprise me, but then I guess it is to be expected. There are few mental facilities in Naij so the mad get to roam free with the ‘normal’. But then again is anyone in Naij normal? hehehehe.

Even though the woman is crazy she is smart in the sense that she knows when she meets someone special. Although annoying she has seemed to take quite a liking to me. Sometimes signing for my clearance when she isn’t the main person authorised to, and even pulling me to the front of the queue to sign my card in return for pleasing her by talking wickedly fast in my foreign English accent. It leaves her in hysterics, which is actually very amusing, like watching a baby after you make a funny face or googly noise. I must say that sizzling in the desert as she signs the cards is no fun, but sometimes there is a little drama to keep the desperate corper entertained. Once during clearance (when we have to queue up to hand in forms that make us eligible for our allowance), whilst we were wrestling with each other in our sweat drenched uniforms to get to the front of the queue, a guy and a girl broke into a fight. Apparently the girl was trying to get to the front of the queue and the guy wasn’t letting her. In naija they have this stupid thing they do where they leave a queue telling the person in front “I’m at your back”, only to return a considerable time later, when the queue has grown longer and the crowd more hostile and shove their way to the front clinging determinedly to the person they’d left. So basically the guy was fighting with her because he rightfully wouldn’t let her go to the front, to which the girl slapped him, only to be returned by a super slap from the guy. And I mean this slap was Immense! The dude literally reached his hand to the sky to tickle the clouds, and then brought it soaring back down at the speed of lightning, to land on the side of this frenzied girls head. LOL the SLAP echoed for miles around, attracting the looks of astonished corpers. LMAO I wish I could have snapped her picture and put it on the WALL OF SHAME WALL OF SHAME. She was a MESS looking all dishevelled and embarrassed. BIATCH you shouldn’t have slapped him in the first place. That’s one of the lessons I’m learning; beware of Naija gals, since most of them are sly biatches.

I’m sad to say but this country is slowly influencing me, whether in a negative way is for you to decide, but one thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I’m slowly becoming less sensitive. I’m sure that’s down to the fact that Nigerians are so bloody rude and lack manners considerably. The simple ‘thank you’, ‘please’ or ‘I’m sorry’ is totally alien to them. Not to forget that they use hurtful words like fat and ugly incredibly loosely. Today I walked in to work to find myself surrounded and being heckled by a gang of older female colleagues. They were picking at my clothes laughing about how my outfit would be perfect for fancy dress and that my dress sense was so bad that we needed to sit down and have a ‘talk’, not to forget the time I was diligently working at my desk to be hurled insults of my weight gain and being an orobo. I mean really?! There was a time I would go home and cry, but now I just laugh it off, reminding myself of how ignorant and rudely blunt Nigerians are; forgiving them as I would a clumsy child. I think I’ve also become a lot braver than I used to. Now I can attempt to argue with a taxi driver about his extortionate price (although my English accent doesn’t help) and hustle my way to the front of a long queue without feeling too guilty. I am not quite fearless or guiltless but surely but slowly I’m getting there, gradually acquiring some of the die-hard skills necessary to survive in this jungle.

One thing I can say that I am mastering is how to use my looks and charm to get me what I want. Lol, Finally my psychology degree is being of some use. I tend to get myself out of trouble or doing things by talking really fast and high pitched with my accent, which ultimately irritates and confuses the person I’m out-manoeuvring to such an extent that they just shake their head in bewilderment and usher me on grumbling under their breath “oyingbo..”. YHHHH BOI! Unfortunately for the Naija man being in Naija is influencing me so much that I am gradually taking on the mindset of a Naija gal. Not so much the spiteful, cold, bitchy and disloyal characteristics but more of the shrewd and manipulative side. So many guys have chased after me, trying to show off with their material things that I have been given no choice but to chop it. Feast on the buffet of free lunches, dinners, gifts and outings that they offer, purely just to show them that I am not blind to the fact that their supposed kindness has ulterior motives, and no matter how much they try they will not get anything from me, apart from my occasional company if proven worthy. All I know is that I know what I want, thus neither my body or my mind can be bought by your material gifts. Ultimately as a woman, Nigeria is instilling in me a confidence I never knew I had. It’s almost like the men work to woo you and are persistent in their affection if their feelings are true, hence why I’m getting fat with so many free meals; the men must think I’m worth something, maybe a green card? On the other hand, the UK man overlooks a black woman like she’s the last choice, rarely is she wined and dined and doted on because of her indescribable beauty and persona like she deserves. Honestly, that is the best thing I can say about Nigeria so far. Although some of the guys may be treating you to show that they have the money to do so, others do it because they see you as a beautiful woman, thus you should be treated like a fragile rose, well until marriage anyways lol.

By the way I’m contemplating bribing the old lady to sign my CD card so I can skip a few weeks. Wish me luck 🙂

13/3/12:Education fuels revolution

Almost 5 complete months in Nigeria and I haven’t been randomly gunned down in the streets by ruthless police, kidnapped by armed hitman, or possessed by the incantations of a juju doctor, I guess for that I am thankful. Someone was telling me the other day that sometimes people go to church and the pastor simultaneously rings the bell whilst calling out the enemy/offenders name, and then bad stuff happens :s I hope I haven’t made too many enemies :/ . Anyhoo I still cant really say that I am enjoying the country. Everyday still feels like a chore, another weight on my anchor dragging me down into the bottomless abyss hat is Naija. I know it sounds depressing but sometimes that’s how I really feel, like Nigeria may as well be plunged into darkness, so little progress has been made that the light at the end of the tunnel is too dim for me to even perceive, yet I am constantly reassured, don’t worry Bim things are getting better. Starting to wonder whether the picture perfect smiles plastered on these multiple faces, as they once again regurgitate this line, are for their own reassurance rather than mine; the face trying to convince the brain that they are happy, and ultimately Nigeria will be okay. Regardless, I’m not falling for it and doubt I’ll ever be convinced till I start to see with my own very eyes some progress, concrete evidence that this crumbling empire is being rebuilt with sturdy bricks rather than the second hand filth many would prefer to use just because it would profit them. But the problem is how does one eradicate corruption in a country where corruption itself has now become the culture? so deeply ingrained in the ways of society that the absence of corruption would be corruption in itself, if that makes sense. It’s sad but I feel that in order for things to change someone would have to pull a Ghana and eradicate all of the higher corrupt powers, but even then would there be any point? the greed is so strong that it could flow through the blood of the younger generations; a weed that could weave itself around the most righteous of people. I would be naive in thinking that I could just come into this estranged country and charm people to such an extent that they would bow at my feet and relinquish themselves of all unrighteous ways. Unfortunately Nigerian people have proved a tad more ignorant and difficult to charm than most, thus for now, all I can do is offer my prayers and cultivate ideas for the future.

So rather than being this aimless radical activist (totally inspired by Fela by the way) I figure that for now I will protest implicitly,educating myself on the literature of Nigeria, for a time when I will be called forth to play a part in the ascension of my country. Note how I am now addressing Nigeria as ‘my country’ To be honest I must admit I was in serious denial, fiercely protesting whenever anybody tried to link me to this place they call ‘my father’s land’. What’s up with that anyways? I am just as much my father as my mother, in fact even more so, she carried me around in her womb for 9 months and it were her meticulous eating habits that provided me with the nourishment to grow and even survive till now, so why not call it my mother’s land? Nigerian’s are so chauvinistic it pisses me right off, but I’ll talk more about that later. Ultimately what I’m trying to say is that whether I like it or not Nigeria is a part of me so I better embrace it right? it’s not like my name gives me any leeway to fake any otherwise. To be honest I only recently and reluctantly came to this revelation. My experience in Naija so far hasn’t been very enjoyable, but because I have a whole load of family here I was lucky enough to find one uncle who is heavily connected and could direct me towards a place to embrace the India Arie in me. And over the last few days that’s exactly what I have been doing. Trying to find out how being stuck in Naija can turn into a more enlightening and enriching experience.

And I think I’m in love! ‘The life house’ in Victoria Island is THE SPOT. Went with my friend to sit in on a musical performance.The place is welcoming and relaxing I cant help but vow to return. You walk in from, the dustiness, pollution and rollercoaster roads to a place of tranquillity; oil lamps glowing on benches, freshly cut grass adorned with exotic palm trees, and a chic and simple hut decorated with beautiful artistic pieces. It’s the kind of place you would just go to lose yourself. Forget about the hustle and bustle of Nigeria and appreciate some of its FEW good points. Like the talented musicians. The other day some pianist came to accompany a new jazz artist. Personally If I saw dude in the street I would avoid any eye contact, since he appeared a lil disheveled. His hair hadn’t been combed for lord knows how long and he was convulsing seriously to the beat, banging his head violently as he mashed up the keyboard. All I could think about was dodging the grains of dandruff and other debris that were flying from his hair and catapulting in all directions, but everyone else seemed to enthralled by the serious tunes he was producing. Is it wrong that it all sounded really out of tune to me? kinda like when a lil baby is enthusiastically yet randomly bashing tunelessly at the piano keys. But each to his own. Every melody seemed to be sugar sweet to the other listeners who savoured every last bit of it, dancing along to the beat and zealously applauding. It made me think that maybe just maybe I am so used to a certain type of westernized music that I’m not appreciating this true, raw talent. Is my exposure to Naija changing me?

So I came again, but this time to a jamming session. Nothing serious or expensive. Just a time to sit down, kick of your shoes and appreciate the sweet music produced by the band. This time I truly felt like I was in my element. The most comfortable I’ve felt in Nigeria so far. The room was half empty apart from the band and a few people scattered around and relaxing on some cushions, whilst sipping on some gorgeous cocktails. As soon as the band started doing their thing I knew it would be a night to remember. They played the tunes of soooo many talented artists like KC and JoJo, Lauryn Hill, Beyonce, Stevie wonder, John Legend, Neyo and sooo much more. By the end of t.he night I was dancing around and drunkenly singing into the microphone, along with the 6 or so other people that occupied the room. Initially I was cautious and afraid of what people would think of me if I tried singing and the whines of a tortured cat escaped from my mouth. But one of the guys said “go ahead. Have fun. We’re a family here”, so I did just that and had a whale of a time. By the end of the night my happiness had turned to melancholy, and hearing all of my favourite tunes brought back so many memories of home, leaving me floating in a sea of nostalgia. OH HOME how I do miss you. But I was called to Naija for a purpose right? I’m constantly tryna remind myself just that. In the end, by gods grace I will leave here a stronger person.

8/1/12: Orientation camp

3 weeks later and I’m still standing; although rather shaken, a few shades darker and a couple of pounds lighter but yes I’m still standing. Orientation camp was an experience and a half. I expected to meet lots of other international students who had bravely uprooted their lives and decide to venture into Nigeria, however the joke was on me because there were next to none. A lot of them were Fresh from the streets of Naija and were so stunned by my accent that they often stood for minutes at a time gawking; heads tilted, eyes wide, and drool slowly slivering down their mouths. I know I am stupidly sexy but really should I be attracting that much attention?! 😉

Anyhoo, registration at camp was an adventure in itself. I arrived to find thousands of people standing in agitated clusters under the scorching sun. As usual there was no sign of order, thus many people were stumbling around in confusion; scratching their heads and hissing in frustration. After asking many others I eventually worked out that the first step in this long and extremely tedious process was to line up for the hostel. I was surprised to find that the hostel largely resembled archaic castle ruins thus I really questioned whether it was inhabitable, regardless groups of up to 30 Corpers at a time were shepherded like lost sheep into the different cells. I was kinda scared because lots of family and friends had warned me about protecting myself and my things from people at camp but luckily I shared a room with a few nice girls and my overly protective cousin so no stealing occurred. The room was extremely cramped so any hope of privacy was lost. Those girls saw me naked more times than any guy ever will, and I must admit that I saw my fair share of boobs and bums too. After a while I started feeling comfortable walking around half naked; if the girls covered in stretch marks, or the ones that had tiny boobies or even the ones that were overly hairy could comfortably flaunt their assets then why couldn’t I? One time my friend even admitted that if she was a lesbian she would soooo fancy me because I have amazing boobies. Not sure if I was flattered or rather scared, either way my ego did get rather inflated 🙂

So that dirty little room was the place where I spent much of my camp, either gisting with my friends or hiding from the ruthless platoon leaders who demanded our presence on the parade ground. I’m sorry but waking up at 3.30am to bathe in those intolerable bathrooms then go outside to endure hours of pointless speeches and ill-prepared drills grew rather tedious, so I found a way of faking illness or simply just hid under my sheets to enjoy a few hours extra sleep. In my room I became friends with a lot of the girls, many of whom behaved really motherly towards me; laughing at my antics and advising me on how to survive in Naija. They were all besotted with my strong English accent and my childish naivety in respect to Nigeria, therefore I enjoyed some special treatment, but mainly they took me under their wings because I was a baby in comparison, with many of them being a great deal older than me due to the ridiculously flawed educational system that left them spending more years in university than their course entailed. And the worse thing is that many organisations have age restrictions for the graduate trainees that they take on, so if you have been unfortunate enough to go to a public university that has been on strike for several years then you are automatically at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a job. You could go to a private university where strikes don’t happen but then the fees are seriously pricey and their rules tend to be unreasonably strict; they went around cutting peoples hair at my cousins university because it wasn’t shoulder length. How the length of someones hair effects their performance in school is beyond me. Anyhoo, back to my room mates…… Not all of them were friend material. Some were a lot closer to my age and were noticeably more immature, always talking about boys, sex, money and drinking, plus they were the least willing to engage in activities. I could tell that they were the richer, spoilt girls, the kind of superficial and materialistic girls that bombard the Nigerian movies. Whenever you walked past they were either sleeping, drinking, gisting about boys or bitching about girls. Exactly the kind of people I DON’T need in my life.

One thing I’ve learnt about Nigerian girls is that some of them have NO SHAME! I remember having to bathe in the revolting cuticles and other girls just walking in, placing a bucket before me, and proceeding to shit. They would literally just shit in front of me with no shame whatsoever. I had to fight to finish bathing with the little oxygen I had left in my lungs because I knew that if I caught a whiff of that foul stench I would vomit. And all over their shit-filled bodies! what killed me most is that as the shitter moaned and groaned, straining to push the shit out of their rectum, they would look at me, shamelessly scrutinising my wet body as I cleaned all of my parts that were supposed to be private! I felt violated, as if my breasts, bum, poonani and all were for show, and I weren’t getting paid! KMT.

Another thing is that many females have seriously warped perceptions of men. I was having a conversation with some of the girls and they said something that really got to me. One girl was telling me about how she knew a girl who went to her boyfriends house and on arrival she saw another woman who he’d been secretly sleeping with in his home, but because the man told the other woman that she had to leave because his ‘madam’ was home this automatically showed that he respected and loved his woman. Errrrrr what kinda foolish logic is that?! I don’t know about you but for a man to cheat on me, keep a mistress on the side, and then proceed to hide this, he must be a low-down, sleazy, dirty, mother fking dog that has no respect for me at all! what an abomination! What killed me most is that a lot of them thought that this was okay. Do Nigerian women really think this way? is their lack of self-worth so great that it’s acceptable for a man to cheat on them as long as he hides it? If that’s the case then I’m not surprised the men are as promiscuous and unfaithful as they are when it’s accepted rather than fought.

Back to the camp experience…..Actual camp was really tedious, pointless and kinda disorganised. To register I had to queue up over 2 days. It just didn’t make sense! You would have to queue up to get a form, fill in the form, then queue up to hand it in to someone else, then queue up to get another form etc etc. If things were just made more orderly and people just used their common sense then Nigerians would see a large improvement. For me it was particularly tedious since, after getting to the front of the queue at 11pm (after a whole days queueing) I handed in my form to be told that my (unique) ID number had been given to another individual as well, which meant that I had to collect my folder and go back to the beginning of the registration process where they would change the ID number and I would change my details on all of my documents. LONGAGE!!! but to be honest, I wasn’t very surprised. In naija the smallest most simple things end up taking ridiculous amounts of time. The craziest thing is that even after all of this shiz my platoon leader had the nerve to call me claiming that she had made a correction in my file, and because she had called me (for like 1 minute) I should send her credit. There lay my first corruption-related dilemma. Do I send this money-hungry witch credit or do I just ignore her demand and just hope she doesn’t ‘mistakenly’ lose my file and render all my efforts to register useless. After that I frantically sought the advice of soooo many of my friends and family, ultimately coming to the conclusion that I would rather send her some little credit than suffer the potential consequences and have my folder go missing. That simple event highlighted to me how F*KD up Naija was. This country is the way it is because there are plenty of people like that shameful platoon leader who abuse their power.

When I remember camp I think about:

The poor hygiene: a lot of the ground was in a filthy condition, largely because a lot of people were too retarded to use the bin or just clean up after themselves (leaving the residual from their plates in the bathroom sink and leaving their freshly loosed extensions all over the floor), plus there wasn’t a constant supply of running water so many weren’t washing their hands or even flushing the toilet.

The thirstiness of the men: The Nigerian men tended to flock to me; maybe because to them my accent meant wealth or a green card. Some of the chat up lines I heard were just SHAMEFUL, and one that sticks in my mind is “Bim you are the epitome of beauty”. Errrrrr thanks??? Obviously this guy had typed ‘shit chat up lines’ into google. What killed me was their persistence. They didn’t understand how to take no for an answer! so many times I claimed I had a boyfriend, yet their response was “we can work around it” or “he isn’t here right now babe but I am, so lets go with the flow”. Some fools even had the nerve to insult me then counter it with compliments. I don’t know whether it worked in the past but it pissed me the hell off. One poor guy in particular felt the brunt of my wrath, after the assault he stood there teary- eyed and begging me to accept his apology, at which I just walked away laughing. Oh yeah! and Naija guys have no sense of personal space! like if I’m meeting you for the first time don’t prolong the handshake, stroke my hand, or even worse massage my knee!! errrrrr can you say sexual harassment?! kmt.

The early morning drills: These things were a joke. They woke us up at 3.30/4am to go outside and carry out a few pointless drills. Not to forget repeating the pledge and singing the national and NYSC anthems. The drills weren’t as tedious as I expected; sometimes a beat would be played in the background and everyone would dance. We would have to sing silly songs ‘If a corper marries corper they go bon mumu’. Often I had no idea what they were saying but just learnt to go with the flow, but every second I was bracing myself for when the song would erupt into ‘hold something, hold something’. Then the sweat-covered, filthy guys would propel themselves onto their desired girls. I don’t think I’d ever screamed so loud in my life; from the shock of being picked up and spun round and round by some random dude, as well as the disgust of having their BO and sweat rub off all over me. EWWWW!!

The shamelessness of the females: I’ve already described how some girls shamelessly shit in front of me, but this wasn’t the only shameless deed I observed. There were various occasions when I’d been quietly brushing my teeth to have my silence broken by some Neanderthal cave-woman who was brushing so loudly my body was trembling with the vibrations, plus she would hack and spit so ferociously she’d put a camel to shame. I mean wtf ever happened to manners?! if the ladies behaved so bush then what must the dudes be like??? And everyday it seemed like a fight broke out. Rather than talking their issues over the girls would holler and shout the house down. I mean, why so aggressive? I found it so hard to tell the difference between when people were having harmless conversations or actually arguing.

The poor standard of English: I guess this was expected but I couldn’t help but cringe every time the instructors would make demands during the drills. Often singing “I go like dis” as they demonstrated the movements, and describing simple movements like put your arms up and open and close your hand as “Put it up and catch the air, catch the air!”.

The mammy market: Without this place in camp it would have seriously sucked. The camp food was often inedible so I would buy some rice, indomi or even semo at the market. The conditions the foods were cooked in weren’t much better hygiene-wise, and regardless of where I ate my bout of diarrhoea arrived on schedule, but at least it was more tasty and the environment was fun. It was here I would eat my beloved chicken and chips, and chill at the fayrouz bar as the horny corpers grinded around me.

The hideously ill-fitting uniform: The NYSC uniform is actually disgusting! I was given 1 pair of shoes 2 sizes too big and another that was too small and without inner soles and laces. The shirts were stupidly shabby, beige instead of white, decorated with holes and so transparent I might as well have walked around topless. The Khaki trousers were made of the cheapest and thinnest material, lacked the crucial buttons to cover my private area, and had so much thread hanging from them I often tripped. But apart from those countless flaws .everything was fine 🙂

The horniness of the girls and guys: One night all of the girls in my room rushed out screaming and flashing their torches because apparently 3 guys and 3 girls were caught having sex outside the hostel. There were loads of other rumours about gays, lesbians and heterosexuals making out in weird places but luckily for me I wasn’t around to see them. I mean Naija must have some serious nymphomaniacs if they cant go without for just 3 weeks!

So basically that’s the downlow on orientation camp. A complete waste of time if you ask me. So now I start work at Oando. Hoping it will be a more positive experience but I sure as hell ain’t holding my breath.