Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Angst of a Generation in Transit: I Remember

I belong to a generation of Nigerians I would like to refer to as ‘transitional’. We were birthed at the threshold of a country’s descent from the sturdy, high grounds of magnificence as it began another into the peaty waters of obscurity. Our predecessors were spoilt and overwhelmed by the rents of an oil-rich nation to the extent a government arrowhead had to declare they had no idea of what to do with the wealth in the nation’s coffers! The forerunners imperilled the emergence of an African power, by engaging in an unprecedented squandering of public till, civil wars, coups, counter-coups, ethnic, political and religious vices.

Terms a la austerity and ‘structural adjustment’ that were hitherto alien to a top-notch nation eroded the middle class stratum and commenced the eventual journey into socio-political and economic anarchy. I can remember clearly, economic situation was so bad in the early 80’s that families had to queue up to receive rationed essentials like groceries, toiletries and basic food items. In fact, many families had to lock these items up in bedrooms in order to ensure shrewd consumption.

I was born, schooled and lived a better part of my growing up years in the city of Ibadan – a city that premiered the first TV station in Africa, the first tallest building in Nigeria, the first university, and many infrastructures, investments and industries of great impact. It was home to several conglomerates, famous book publishers in the league of Evans, Longman, Heinemann, and Spectrum and research institutes like CRIN and FRIN with the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo dictating the velocity of development for the western region, using Ibadan as the launching pad. Tunji Oyelana, Wole Soyinka, Mike Adenuga, Akinwumi Ishola, Mike Nwangwu, Reuben Abati, Bayo Faleti and many other prominent personalities had their roots in this city of copious hills and valleys. At the moment, Ibadan is a shallow apparition of its once brilliant self. The same could be said of not a few cities in Nigeria.

Growing up, our aspirations were anchored on values that have no semblance with what obtain in present times. During pre-high and high schooling, what we prided ourselves on was the type of books read (academic, fiction and non-fiction) and the number of times they were re-read. Amongst favourite authors, series and titles were Mabel Segun, Sidney Sheldon, Charles Dickens, Nick Carter, D.O. Fagunwa, Stephen King, Akinwumi Ishola, Enid Blyton, Kola Onadipe, Danielle Steel, Adebayo Faleti, Eddie Iroh, Enid Blyton, Mills and Boon, Béllò àti Bíntù, Archie, The Hardy Boys, Táíwò àti Kéhíndé, Bumble Bee and African Writer series, Ògbójú Ode Nínú Igbó Irúnmalè (A Forest of a Thousand Demons) My Father’s Daughter, Eze/Akin/Sani Goes to School, Silas Manner, etc.

Electricity supply was almost constant. Our sanity was in one piece as we were saved from the noise and pollution from generating monsters. Generators (often referred to as ‘plants’) were used only by the society’s high and mighty. Television was not sophisticated but was fun, learning and entertaining with super-engaging (local and foreign) soaps, comedies and cartoons like Matlock, Wonder Years, Famous Five, Terrahawks, Basi and Company, Checkmate, The New Masquerade, Bàbá Geébú, Flaxton Boys, Fraggle Rock, Ifá Olókun, Some Mothers Do Have Them, Jolly Train, Fawlty Towers, Friday night Indian movies, The Village Headmaster, Òyìnbó Ajélè, Super Ted, Mirror in the Sun, Ilé Ìwòsàn, Schools Debate, Voltron, Rent-A-Ghost, We Can Tell You A Story, Kóòtù Asípa, Atom Ant, Do Your Thing and of course the ever-scintillating, Sesame Street.

Other indoor activities meant making our toys from paper, cardboards, newspapers, crayons (I remember the big, fat wax ones) and other materials. I had an indoor, self-built aquarium which was seeded with fishes I caught myself. Headrest and TV covers were knitted during our pastimes. House chores were apportioned and done without delay.

Outdoor activities were fun, likewise. We got our hands dirty on a farm, reared pets and livestock within premises that were not completely paved and heavily spotted with both crop and ornamental vegetation. Parents had interests in what we did and happened to us – school assignments were done with prompt supervision. We were not left alone to our own devices – when parents had to be absent, an older relative was always around to take care of us. Holidays were spent in rotation from one cousin’s to the other. Birthday parties were fun with jollof rice, moinmoin in abundance and Green Sands Shandy drink to go with. Souvenirs were toffee candy, whistle-shaped sweets, cabin biscuits, plastic miniature animals like gorillas, elephants, etc.

Both public and missionary schools served as the melting point where the wards and children of the society’s lofty and lowly shared common experience. Teachers were revered either out of respect, fear or both.

Manners were explicitly imbibed with ‘Thank You’, ‘Please’ and ‘Excuse me’ being regulars during conversations. We were taught to leave our seat for standing elderly either in a bus or a public waiting area. You dared not eat without a glass of water in close proximity. And of course, talking with one’s mouth full is often accompanied with appropriate punishment. If we had to eat in between meals, parents or guardians must be in the know. Being hard working, truthful and trustworthy were not negotiable. In fact, they were values to be proud of.

I am not attempting to sound like a grumpy, old fellow that had seen it all, but alas it is painful to witness how this endowed nation plunged into the abyss of subversion having savoured remnants of the “good, ol’ days”. Ours is a generation that was handed a country that was set on a journey with no clear destination or road map. At the moment, we are caught in a web of psychological confusion, mental frustration and economic agitation as we live in a contradiction of what we grew up learning and the present complexities of an incredibly materialistic, self-centred, insensate and hollow society.

I remember!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Independence Day: Before the Celebrations

Almost half a century ago, the colonial frontiers of the British government were rolled back and the freedom to attain sovereignty was accorded the geographical enclave called Nigeria. 49 years ago, Nigeria had all the makings of an uplifting tale: an emerging socio-political and economic African (and possible world) power with all the trappings that made the not-too-willing colonial masters break their siege on Africa’s most populous and promising nation at that time. The extrapolated trajectory of this country’s future made even the most affluent nation in Europe and the Americas green with envy. Everything looked possible, but alas 49 years thereafter everything went awry.

Many Nigerians reminisce the emotion of great delight and patriotism that engulfed them as they watched the British sentinels lowered the Union Jack while the green-white-green striped flag climbed in its stead. With the rising of their symbol of independence rose the promise of a future with endless possibilities. 49 years later, most of those senior citizens could only stretch their memory band to relive the ‘good old days’ in order to escape the misery of the present as they continue to gape at and question what went wrong with a country that had it all. For many Nigerians who never witnessed this symbolical event, they might have been saved from such agonies of past-present comparison (or better put, contradiction). Howbeit, the horizon holds no promise for them either. 49 years subsequently, a nation that was expected to dictate the socio-political velocity of a continent is still bugged down with the basics of starting a journey to nationhood.

As a young Nigerian, though I may not have been opportune to live in the ‘good old days’ but I have heard, read and before my very eyes, seen how a country with utmost potentials crescendoed to lofty crest of fete and how it unfortunately descended to the miry trough of discomfiture. Ours is a land where the only thing that is predictable is dashed hope, where certainty only spells uncertainty and the future indeed is what it is – futuristic! Of a truth, we may have enjoyed occasional stints of resplendence and (inter)national honour that once in while prop our self-pride and patriotism as Nigerians, often times the norm is that of failed governance, collapsing institutions and infrastructures, shame, sectarian violence, political murders and assassinations, malformed morals, corruption and other brothers in arms. Week in, week out, searching for a pint of good news is akin to looking for a pin in a haystack. Even those events we usually fall back on (like watching our national football teams play) in order to temporarily drown our despair have conspired to add to our gloom.

Of course, I ca n hear the ‘positive’ Nigerian telling me if I look around enough, I would definitely find reasons why I should roll out the drums on the eve of another Independence Day celebration. While I may not be the most optimistic, patriotic Nigerian that constantly hopes against hope in the face of almost a failed nation, I have often times stuck my neck out for my dear country in spite of realities that do not support this stance. True, I can count (on my fingers, though) a number of instances and individuals that have brought our dear country to brilliant limelight as they stamped their clout on the world stage.

Indeed, what shall I say of literary giants à la John Pepper Clark, Dan Fulani, Ken Saro Wiwa, Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri, Chinua Achebe, Helon Habila, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Mention must be made of music icons in the league of Fela Kuti, Stephen Osadebey, Batili Alake, Àsá, King Sunny Ade, Beautiful Nubia, Dr. Victor Olaiya, Lágbájá, Dan Maraya Jos, Bobby Benson, Comfort Omoge, Tunde Nightingale, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Roy Chicago, Onyeka Owenu and many others. I shall not forget to list many accomplished individuals in their various fields of endeavour and who through intelligence, initiative and industry have brought pride to our collective existence as a nation: Adeoye Lambo, Oluchi Onweagba, Mary Onyeali, T.O.S. Benson, Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Hakeem Olajuwon, Nuhu Ribadu, Philip Emeagwali, Dora Akunyili, Aminu Kano, Nwankwo Kanu, Richard Mofe Damijo, Okonjo Iweala, Wande Abimbola, Sheikh Adelabu, Gani Fawehinmi, Aliko Dangote, Ben Enwonwu, Justus Esiri, Murtala Mohammed and many others. In fact, the list is endless.

However, on scrutinising this catalogue there exist a couple of discouraging issues. The very obvious is the fact that these names are always recurring in our register of (inter)national honours. That is pointer to the reality that we (as a nation) have not moved forward and if we had, many a time we have retraced our step backwards from a much desired destination. Secondly and not too evident: most of these people achieved based only on their individual efforts that exclude an enabling environment that should be a given in their homeland. This can be extended to explain the reason why many Nigerians have resorted to self-help: A situation where every individual battles to meet their needs in order to ensure continued existence. Therein lies our problem (and probably, solution) as a nation.

Individual efforts, self-help/-government can only ascertain individual achievements and most assuredly a disjointed and disorganised society where everyone aims to preserve self. Everything rises and falls on leadership! Until we get the leadership project right, we may continue to wallow in abject failure as a nation and possibly proceed on a retrogressive trail. As Nigeria prepares for another general election to change leadership batons at various levels of government, this serves as the ultimate poser: ‘What manner of leaders do we desire?’ Of a truth, a leader cannot be different from the society and process he emerges from. We must tinker the process that produces leadership. It will be foolhardy to expect our situation to change either by expecting a credible leader to emerge by chance or through our usual laidback attitude. In fact, it is folly!

While we may not be able to correct the leadership errors of the past that have maintained us in a state of doldrums and subnormality, we do have the opportunity to determine our future by addressing the national leadership of the present. A word of advice to President Umar Musa Yar’Adua: As he prepares either a we-have-reason-to-celebrate or this-is-a-sombre-time-for-reflection Independence Day celebration speech, let him be aware that the onus lies on him to determine how we celebrate next year (and many more) Independence Day.

Being honest and possessing an amiable mien are not the fundaments of leadership. You can be the meekest and most incorruptible individual and still be an off-beam material for headship. Theodore Roosevelt once said: “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Moreover, courage is a principle he may want to adopt. A leader must always have the courage to act against an expert's advice. Whoever is providing leadership needs to be as fresh and thoughtful and reflective as possible to make the very best fight. Most importantly, vision is key to the success (or otherwise) of a leader. A leader is a visionary and not just a propagandist of mere agenda or beautiful catchphrases.

While I am still in a confused state of either ‘counting our blessings’ as a nation or switching to a reflective mood on Independence Day, I would want to implore Nigerians who are jaded by the present conditions to take active roles in determining the quality of leaders that will take over the reins of affairs in the coming years. If we fail to do so, I will be saved the hassle of writing anything different from this, in the years to come, except maybe changing the ‘49’ to ‘89’.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dear Sir

The New MD/CEO
Inter-Lagoon Bank PLC
Plot 419, Distress Avenue
Victoria Island

18th August 2009.

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your SMS and subsequent email assuring me of your bank’s financial stability after the CBN’s ‘Hammer of Thor’ struck the bank’s executive ménage relieving its directors of their most lucrative positions and the CBN’s consequent ‘dole out’ aimed to address your insolvency.

You may want to know that I received your missives in good health as I have developed a thick tegument and a vibrant lion’s heart to trounce such occurrences. Who could do without these anyway, if survival is vital in a country like ours? I am convinced without the minutest of doubt that both the SMS and email were not meant for measly customers like me because the information was disseminated en masse for a commercial purpose. Sir, be aware that this memo is neither to spite you nor ‘our’ bank. In fact, your new role in cleaning the augean stables is one no one will envy or touch with a long pole. I can only wish you the best and pray you succeed.

My no-brainer position in your bank’s scheme of priority customers have been reiterated many a time and via diverse means. Not a few instances abound. Whenever I have issues, your ever-sassy customer relation officers only warm up to me (or do otherwise) as a function of what my account balance reads at the particular instant of time. Moreover, several times when many individuals (including my humble self) highlighted (often times on the pages of newspapers and through various means) unwholesome bank practices, manipulated share prices on the floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, unrealistic profit declarations that do not match with realities of our economy (particularly in the manufacturing sector), unhealthy inter-bank competition and rivalry, unsustainable banking operations and expensive corporate governance lifestyle, debasing marketing strategies and many more; we were treated like an infant’s fart.

I also remember with pain when all banks went on rampage to secure our meagre funds through all means devisable. I joined the bandwagon (against my convictions) to purchase your bank shares and many others. Alas, I had my investments reduced to a paltry figure. During the run, I observed with dismay how you gave loans to your cronies to cash in on short-term gains because you issued their share certificates without delay while those of long-term investors like us are still in transit many years after. Their voracity eventually crashed the stock market. It seems to baffle me why would and should I ever matter to you or your bank at this point in time? As a matter of fact, it leaves a suspicious taste in the mouth.

As much as I would have loved to play a role (major or minor) in rescuing ‘our’ bank out of its present financial ‘kettle of fish’ and doldrums, regrettably I am handicapped beyond imagination. My salaried job which is presently my only source of income has merely guaranteed me peanuts with a safe abode under my mattress or sometimes my pillow. Unfortunately, the prevailing global financial meltdown (which the CBN once claimed we are immune to) has done exactly that to my remuneration – melted it. My salary now perfectly fits into my back pocket. You would agree with me that it would not make any smidgen of sense to drop this trifle into your bank coffers where predators, waiting (in the forms of VAT, hidden bank/transaction, ATM and other undefined charges) will further ravage whatever is left to nothingness.

Other businesses that could have brought me immense prosperity and whose subsequent returns could have accrued to your bank’s purse never saw the light of day. No thanks to the stringent conditions given by the bank which snuffed life out of my numerous business proposals when I came knocking for loans. The impossible interests requested for snuffed life out of the brilliant business ideas and the collaterals you asked for dealt the final blow – the only thing you did not ask for was my life. It is heart-rending however, to discover that most of your bank mega debtors that have brought it into this pickle secured these loans with no collaterals. It is more painful to observe how the CBN doled out many parts of a trillion naira to correct a few individuals’ (trusted with public funds) inadequacies and exuberances. It looks like robbing Peter to pay Paul. These are monies that otherwise could have been used to address issues that will directly impact the lives of not a few Nigerians in the infrastructure, power, education, agriculture, health and manufacturing sectors.

Of course, I do consider your bank not to be the only scourge creating its present condition. Many ‘culprits’ should not go absolved. First is the CBN itself – the supposed watchdog – who cannot claim it was oblivious of the rot being exposed now. Moreover, the piecemeal audit and exposure of the banks’ true conditions is not without some clandestine schema (of which you played into its gallery). Rating outfits that led you on a deception trail should also be blacklisted. They enjoyed the funfair while it lasted. They created a mirage of confidence that never existed either through their ignorance or deliberate cover-up. Also on the malefactor list are the ‘big boys’ – the mega debtors. They borrowed money to execute awry, failed businesses that left you the lenders to lick both your wounds and theirs. In addition, the arrogance with which they carry themselves should tell you that retrieving the borrowed funds from them will be almost impossible.

Do not be deceived by the harangues of the toothless bulldog tagged the EFCC aimed at helping you recover your funds from the untouchable ‘big boys’. It is all part of the script. Moreover, the Federal Government has also placed itself in a position where it cannot afford to throw stones because it resides in a glass house – otherwise where would the funds for the 2011 elections come from?

Sir, if indeed I matter in your bank scheme of operations I would like to lend my layman ‘non-expert’ advice aimed to help retrace ‘our’ bank steps from ignominy to fete.

Douse the voracious thirst to be the biggest – it has been proven now that the biggest is not the brightest. Flee unhealthy inter-bank rivalry – it will grind all involved to nihility. Do not covet accolades and approval from rating agents. Remember, once beaten, many times shy. Be reasonable with your lending rates – your mega debtors never argued the inordinate interests you slammed on their loans. They could not have or otherwise you might change your mind. Directly empower the manufacturing sectors while reducing investments into rent-seeking sectors and high-risk-high-yield businesses like the one that is almost causing your ruin. Trim down operational/overhead costs – flashy cars, glamour, expensive globe trotting, reality TV shows and adverts, imposing office buildings and exotic locations. In the present world of high-tech automation, banks can function well in small well-serviced office spaces. Play down on expensive corporate governance lifestyle. Finally, be open at all times. Say it as it is even if your balance sheets are more of a red colouration. Remember, public trust is the greatest asset.

Accept my widow’s mite.



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Decade of Democracy: The Proverbial Elephant

Various opinions have indicated what a decade of democracy in Nigeria means to diverse individuals. Like the proverbial elephant visited by some blind men, one cannot but be overwhelmed by the many-sided, manifold interpretations of “10 years of democracy in Nigeria” as given by these individuals. Happy reading.

Adamu Bebi

Profile: Adamu is a Special Adviser to the Personal Assistant to the Senior Special Adviser to the minister of state for enjoyment matters and sundry. Prior to his appointment, Adamu was a tanker driver with a long-distance haulage enterprise and a leading, staunch supporter of his state governor during the electioneering in his local government.

His take on democracy:

“I zink democracy has come to stay in our country wezer we like it or not. I just want to use zis offortunity to imflore my feofle and pellow citizens to be fatient wiz government. A journey of a zousand mile starts wiz a step.”

Romanus Uwaeke

Profile: Romie (as popularly called) is a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology from one of the state-owned universities. After fruitless job searches, Romie now runs a private phone call centre.

Hear him:

“Abeg Oga. Which kin yarn be dat one? You dey ask me about 10 years of democracy in Nigeria? As you see me so, I be graduate. I leave school 4 years ago. Since that time, I waka tire I dey look for job. Na hin I come think make I no waste time dey look for wetin I no fit get, na so I start this phone call business. God dey bless me I don put phone charging business join am. Demo what? Na ‘dem all crazy.’ Me I no send this government or this country. Abeg, bros make you carry this your interview go somewhere else. Make you no disturb my business.”

Senator Ojuoriolari Olowolagba

Profile: A retired school principal, Senator Olowolagba who once lived in a commune facility with his wife and 6 children before his (s)election to represent his district is now a proud owner of several vehicles and real estates which dot exotic portions of the FCT. He is often rumoured to be a stooge of Alhaji Lateef Omilabu, his state political godfather.

He has this to say:

“Thank you. You see, we have made progress. This is not where we were 10, 15 years ago when we were still in the iron grip of the military dictators. For many us, our monthly pensions were more of privileges than rights. We were dying in our thousands. But as fate would have it, I can tell you confidently that things have improved. And in confidence, I can also tell you as a senator of the federal republic (sitting up, with his voice lowered and an impish grin on his face) things have more than improved. I now have a chieftaincy title to my name, I married my third wife just last month and I go for regular medical check-ups abroad, among other goodies.”

Mrs. Adeola Martins

Profile: Mrs. Martins works with a human resource development outfit.

Her contribution:

“Excuse me; I don’t think I want to indulge you. Are you a journalist of some sort? I don’t want my comments to be that of one of the numerous faceless Nigerians whose opinions only adorn your newspapers but never count. However, if you may know, this government sucks. Do you say we have a government, when I generate my own electricity and water, provide security, send my kids to expensive private schools, patronise expensive private hospitals and many more? Spare me; I’ve got better things to attend to.”

Chief Edosa Omoigbe

Profile: Chief Omoigbe is a foremost newspaper publisher.

He speaks:

“My brother, I will say it can only get better. Democracy is good for business. Going by the copious congratulatory messages placed by political hobnobs preening their political benefactors (for the most frivolous reasons which range from coronation, marrying a 5th wife to 419 days in office); we’ve never had it so good. In addition to that, our bank accounts now burst at their seams courtesy of “open letters” warring factions of socio-political organisations flood our newspapers pages with.”

Madam Aminat Usman

Profile: Madam Aminat owns a stall at a local market where she sells foodstuff and other sundry items:

She expresses herself:

“Me I thank God for this democracy o! Before before, na only big men fit use telephone but now people like me fit say ‘hello’ too (she laughs heartily). I just want dis government make dem no forget we poor masses. Things too cost. Make dem reduce price for petrol and kerosene, give our pikin free schools and drugs for hospital. We also need cheap cheap house, water and light. If dem do all these for us, we go happy and our lives go better.”

Ronald Uhkile

Profile: Ron, a barrister also expresses his mind on “Democracy at 10 in Nigeria.”

In his words:

“You’d agree with me that within the last decade as compared to the hitherto years of ignominy, Nigerians have been privileged to express their fundamental human rights. Political activism and “oppositionism” (whatever that means, these lawyers sef) have taken centre stage. Though the high-handedness employed by the two democratically elected presidents in dealing with some issues still portray we’re not yet there but we’re making progress. Our election tribunals have experienced “rejuvenism” and the court has made ordinary people’s votes count and indeed is the last hope of the common man (only God knows how many times that phrase has been mentioned in the last 2 years).”

P.S.: Barrister Ron fails to mention how he was transformed from an ordinary, “charge-and-bail” lawyer to one who can now change his grimy cloak and wig, move to an upscale office downtown and replace his rickety, smoke-puffing, 1985 model Honda Accord car. All thanks to the several election petition briefs he has to hold for aggrieved election candidates or those instigated by him.

Professor Jade Ososalo

Profile: Professor Ososalo a seasoned poet, writer and human rights activist, is a fellow at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs.

He bellows:

“You call this a democracy? I’d rather define this as autocracy devised in the dungeons of military aristocracy. Democracy stems from the mutual agreement of a people thereby producing binding terms otherwise christened a constitution. Our “constitution” is a lie against itself and the people whose testament it is meant to represent. It was spuriously and cunningly cooked by design and forced than our throats when military shenanigans decided to transit and change uniforms from khaki to babariga. Tell me, what has changed? What’s the disparity between then and now?”

Olaniyi Kolawole

Profile: A veteran journalist, Olaniyi is the Chief Press Secretary to one of the state governors.

His take:

“The problem with a lot of Nigerians is that they are determined to see no good thing about this government. They take the slightest opportunity to slight government and its workings. Without gainsaying, this regime has relentlessly doled out dividends of democracy to all strata of the society without prejudice or discrimination and is still positioned to do much more in subsequent terms of which we’re sure of a return. We appeal to all impenitent critics, opposition parties and so-called activists to be very careful so as not to pull down this nascent, democratic experimental set-up. Our plea is neither a sign of inaptitude nor compromise but of reason as government likewise will not stop at crushing all evident enemies of democracy.”

NB: All above-mentioned individuals are fictitious. Near semblance or real existence of these is mere coincidence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Her Excellency, Mama Ebe

We all called her Mama Ebe. It was much later I got to know “Ebe” is the abbreviated version of her last child’s name, Ebenezer. She was the cleaner assigned (by the maintenance outfit) to manage and see to the cleanliness of the staircase hall of our end of the office building. A woman of diminutive but plump stature, at an initial encounter, Mama Ebe would come across as someone with not so much of a fascinating personality. However, on a close study I must confess I have met not many individuals like this cheerful, pleasantly optimistic, hardly literate, elderly woman (probably in her late fifties).

The ever-cheery cleaner did not consider it a bother to greet or pass a word of admiration (or prayer) to people, passers-by and colleagues for the umpteenth time within a day. Even when we marched across the floor area she would have painstakingly cleaned during her mopping sessions, she would graciously remove the patches of stains without any complaint, murmur or scurrilous scowl on her face as was usual of other cleaners. Instead, Mama Ebe would step aside with a big, warm, hearty smile on her face to allow passage for the pedestrian and with a compliment to complement (pardon pun):

“Enjinia, iyawo ati omo mi nko? E ya’se o.” (Engineer, how’s your wife? And baby? Have a splendid day at work.)

“Enjinia, Oluwa a bukun fun wa. A o ni p’ofo. Yio dara o.” (Engineer, God will bless us. We won’t be losers. It shall be well.)

“E kaabo. E rora sa. Alaafia o.” (Welcome sir. Peace.)

In her characteristic manner, whether she was cleaning the window panes, sweeping and swabbing the floor, dusting the balustrades or sitting idling in her make-shift abode tucked under the staircase, her sonorous voice could be heard within the vicinity as she either hummed or sang most times, hymns.

Many a time when most of the cleaners had either closed for the day or skulking somewhere (within the premises) avoiding duties, Mama Ebe was customarily seen doing multiple rounds of cleaning even when it seemed not necessary. This baffled me and I made a mental note of casually asking her. The opportunity was made available when I had to make a trip to Mama Ebe’s end of town which coincided with her close of work. In her amiable manner, she asked if I was going her way as I reversed out of the parking lot. Mama Ebe stayed in a semi-slum part, uptown. In spite of the inconvenience encountered navigating through that end of town, I willingly gave her a lift.

After exchanging some pleasantries, I led off the “interrogation” in vernacular as we headed towards the suburbs.

“Mama, hope you had a good day at work. Please if you don’t consider it a bother, why are you often cleaning the staircase hall many times daily even when it appears it is not required?”

Mama Ebe beamed in her typical fashion accompanied by a chuckle that could only come from the depth of a heart that is at ease.

“Enjinia, ise ti won sanwo e fun mi ni mo n’se.” (I’m doing the work I’m being paid for).

“But Mama,” I interjected, “you do it with more than required commitment, at least compared to what your colleagues do.”

She sighed and replied. I tried as much as possible to translate and sum up:

“Engineer, you see, that’s why I’m a cleaner. What you observe as clean is not always so. Often times, though my physical eyes may be feeble, I can observe through my third eye as every speck of dust, every mote of debris travels and settles on the floor or window panes. And since it’s my duty to get rid of these I do it without hesitation. More so, I’ve learnt early in life that never let a mole of task accumulate to become a mountain of duty, which is more difficult to handle. In the same vein, frequent removal of specks of dust will eliminate having to remove almost permanent stains from floors and windows if the dirt is left to accumulate. So you could see I’m even making my task easier when I clean frequently. This I do with utmost commitment not because I’m better paid than colleagues or I seek a wage increase. Neither am I doing this to spite nor put other workers in bad light. It’s a standard I’ve set for myself. It’s my own definition of excellence. After each round of cleaning, I step out of myself and critically look at the work done. I query: If I were the employer, would I be satisfied with the quality of work done? Remember, what’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well. It’s only at one’s duty post, one could be judged lazy or otherwise.”

As we got to her neighbourhood, Mama Ebe insisted I pay her a visit and more importantly drink a glass of water all to express her gratitude. I indulged her. I parked by the road entrance leading to her quarter – vehicular access was almost impossible. Judging by the avalanche of greetings from various neighbours, Mama Ebe was certainly a well-known and respected figure in this hood. She equally responded with much zest showering her usual prayers.

After opening the door to her apartment, she stepped in murmuring obviously a word of thankfulness to her Creator. I was inquired to take a seat in the living room while she got some drinking water. Obviously, the not too spacious living room did not spell any jot of affluence or form of magnificence going by the scanty furniture, unpainted walls, bare floor and an old piece of electronic. But one could almost grab a feeling of tangible tranquillity and decency. Though the fabric of the curtains and furniture was almost worn out, they were clean and evidently well-maintained. Other items in the room (wall photos and calendars, books, a cupboard and utensils) were also neatly arranged. I took my leave after drinking a glass of water she served in a manner that was befitting only for a king. Unknown to her, this grateful woman had made a lovesome lasting impression on me.

Ergo, months later, it was with great shock and a seared heart I received the news of the death of Mama Ebe as a result of a late diagnosis of severe diabetes conditions. I cried at the demise of a woman who taught me excellence is not copyrighted to the heights or berths of nobility but it can also be redefined and expressed on dirty floors and window panes – the duty post – of an uneducated, benignant woman. Their bona fide “Excellencies” are those individuals – grand or lowly, schooled or crude, enabled or disabled – who daily make every effort to accomplish not just what is obligatory but also go the extra mile in doing more than required in spite of the incentives or limitations.

I also learned from Mama Ebe that fulfilment may not necessarily be experienced through wealth accumulation or possession of goods. Howbeit, it will never elude a self-contented heart, affluent or not.

May her ebullient, contented and excellent soul, rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Nigeria of Our Dream (I)

This a sequel to The Nigeria of Our Making

“That one day this country of ours…will find dignity and greatness and peace again.” – NC (1899 - 1973)

The year is 2064 AD. The pulse of the epic crowd can be felt. It is one of hyperbolised but true elation, nationalism and oneness. Eye-catching and almost blinding are the colours, grandeur and fireworks that grace the Eagle Square. Seen on the mammoth-size videosonic boards is the equal stateliness and pomp that deck other venues – the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos and the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt.

The promenades, cultural displays and high precision arrays of sentinels could not have made one more proud of res publica and country. The state box is studded with a regalia of intimidating personalities and dignitaries: 47 heads of states, presidents and prime ministers (both past and serving), 13 Nobelists, 4 kings from the oil-rich middle-east region, 3 monarchs from Europe and Asia, the UN Secretary-General with a convoy of officials from various UN departments, the Roman Catholic pope sandwiched by a fleet of cardinals, World Bank executives, international business moguls, state governors and innumerable luminaries.

The national event being celebrated is the 150th anniversary commemorating the amalgamation of the former realms delineated by rivers Niger and Benue and their resulting fusion, coalescing distinct regions of diverse landscape, culture, history and people into one nation, christened Nigeria. Even the vestiges of the artificer of the name would congregate in the grave to marvel at the turn of events for a nation that was previously marked for doom and perdition.

Through my mind’s eye, I try to imagine the possibility of what otherwise could be happening on a resplendent day like this – probably a disintegrated Nigeria where resulting seceded nations are still battling with issues that had plagued their mother nation right from origination: Corruption, insecurity, lack of essential amenities, civil wars, dire leadership with equal ominous followership, resource control, notoriety and other menaces.

With tears of ecstasy cascading down my cheeks, I consider ‘self fortunate to witness a day as this, more so at the twilight of my years as an octogenarian. I am still astounded at how the formerly ignominious Nigeria metamorphosed into a feted nation. Just yesterday, the headlines were flooded with news, rating Nigeria as one of the choicest destinations for foreign investments with a robust GDP (the fifth largest in the world), huge foreign reserves, a life expectancy of 93 years, state-of-the-art transport systems, healthcare facilities that are now the envy of once industrialised nations à la Germany, France and Italy. Not surprisingly, the Nigeria story has become a case study for many developing nations of how to transform from a failed state to a blooming nation.

At the moment, Nigeria is a stout source of credit to many countries including the US, UK, South Africa and Australia. What is more, the Nigerian naira has attained a world currency status seconded by the Chinese yuan and the US dollar. Over the years, Nigeria has also evolved to be one of the most prominent exporters of agricultural products like cassava, palm oil, cocoa, cotton, cereals, rubber, groundnut and other mineral merchandise (coal, tin, columbite, iron ore, steel, limestone, kaolin, etc) while the one time (in)famous resource she was known for as the 7th largest exporter – the crude oil – (which fouled her environment, stained the hands of her politicians, jeopardised her future while bringing more damnation than boon to her citizenry), now meagrely contributes to its foreign exports. Interestingly, a country that once groped in darkness both literally and figuratively, currently exports electricity in modules. Other export products include much sought-after, made-in-Nigeria clothes, shoes and processed fruits/foods. Nigeria-manufactured cars are likewise in high demands worldwide especially brands like Geria, 9ja and Tiwantiwa.

Besides, the literal heart of Africa is an outsourcing destination for all manner of human resources. A couple of years ago, Silicon Valley entered into a bilateral exchange programme with the Ikeja Computer Village (ICV) in Lagos, Nigeria. In addition, the Zaria Security Academy (ZSA) (in Kaduna) popularly known as The Phoenix also in conjunction with Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) has been rated as an international top-notch centre for state security/intelligence personnel training in the same league with the Scotland Yard and CIA.

Seven of Nigerian universities are sitting pretty on the world-top-50 list with enrolment featuring almost 50% international students. Incidentally, among the Nobelists sitting in the state box is the Nigerian Nobel Laureate who clinched the coveted prize for his revolutionary discovery in the field of Medicine by founding a permanent therapy to an hitherto incurable virus.

Over the last 13 years, tourism has boomed to the extent that most Nigerian states now place embargoes on traffic of international tourists that flood their domains enriching their coffers, annually. In a similar manner, the Nigerian entertainment industry has not been denuded of accolades and exceptional achievements. The organised Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood has secured 8 Oscar Academy awards to its credit while its own annual, red-carpet movie laurels ceremony is a superlative event, no aspiring or contemporary star would want to miss. In the last two decades, not a few Nigerians have dotted the Orange and Pulitzer lists winning scores of prizes in all available categories.

As I continue to muse over the triumph story of how a quondam inglorious people traced their steps back from notoriety, bedlam and vice to honour, eminence and glory, I can see the Grammy-award-winning Nigerian musical group (a crop of young and brilliant individuals) mount the state podium to render the Nigeria national anthem in order to jumpstart the ceremony. With national pride exuding from and obviously visible on the face of every individual named “Nigerian”, we all rise to give harmony and meaning to the words that express the aspirations of long-gone visionary leaders, a call to service and fostering brotherhood, and an unrelenting occupation geared towards nation building.

I can feel a tug at my shirt. I believe it should be my 4-year old great-grand daughter seeking attention as she is wont to…………


“Honey.” I could faintly hear the familiar voice as the tugging continued.

“Honey, c’mon. Wake up and put off the generator. It’s late already.”

My wife jerked me back into the present urging me to switch off and rein in the generator so I could retire to bed.

Could what I just dreamt of be a reality?: I self-queried as I reluctantly swayed from the couch launching outside to locate and silence the noise-making, smoking-transuding monster-machine called a generator – a companion we have had no other choice but to live with it since the Nigeria electricity company has long-decided to now supply electricity in kilo-dark hours.
To be continued. Watch out for subsequent parts.

If I were a Girl

Relationships (particularly the ones that provide a unitary emotional platform for opposite genders) have always been a phenomenon – sometimes marvellous and most times baffling.

I casually queried Rita (not her real name) a colleague, why she chose Beyoncé Knowles “If I Were a Boy” (from the “I am…Sasha Fierce” 2008 album) as her mobile phone ringtone.

She giggled and asked “Have you watched the video? You guys seem to have all the fun at the expense of the girl’s feeling.” Suddenly, her disposition changed.

“How do you mean?” I questioned.

“You won’t understand.” she replied obviously trying to hold back some emotions.

Then I knew we had a serious issue at hand. I often don’t attempt to dabble into private issues particularly one that borders round matters of the heart. However, seeing Rita snivelling probably made me probe her for more information. Although initially reluctant, she poured out a very interesting, touching (nonetheless, not unusual) story – one of infidelity, perfidy and misadventure.

Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to divulge the contents of our discourse; however, certain mind-boggling questions about a man-woman relationship once again, came to the fore. I’m aware this is a sensitive and complex matter but there are clarifications to be made particularly from the men-studded side of the divide:

Why is it that ladies endure making a relationship work while most men would enjoy the pleasure of experimenting?

Why would women love whole-souled while their male counterparts will skirt the edges of marital allegiance?

What is that beguiling thing about “the other woman” that makes a man want to leave the quilt and solace of a committed heart in an adventurous search at the expense of betraying an unyielding love and breaking a heart full of warmth and affection? What is alluring about the gaze of her eyes, the soft touch of her fingers, the lusciousness of her lips or the warmth of her bed?

You’d call me a “woman wrapper” or an ardent woman flag-waver but it doesn’t change the fact of the obvious within our society: More men are wont to (or often succumb to the temptation of) “trying out” other seemingly “greener pastures” on the plains of promiscuity (Ladies, can I get a witness?). Why? Answers any one?

As for many of us that are fortunate to enjoy relationships/marital unions with little or no infidelity hiccups, congrats! Let’s keep on waving the commitment banner but lend credible, real advice to the troubled soul.

I’ve adapted Beyoncé Knowles’ and titled mine, “If I Were a Girl” (Pardon my clumsiness - I'm not a musician or lyricist). This is dedicated to all ladies out there who’re doing all to make their relationships work. You’re not just girls. Just hold on – he’s coming back home!
If I were a boy
Even just for a day
I’d roll outta bed in the morning
And throw on what I wanted then go
Drink beer with the guys
And chase after girls
I’d kick it with who I wanted
And I’d never get confronted for it
Cause they’d stick up for me

If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I’d be a better man
I’d listen to her
Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted
Cause he’s taken you for granted
And everything you had got destroyed
If I were a boy
I would turn off my phone
Tell everyone it’s broken
So they’d think that I was sleepin’ alone
I’d put myself first I’d gladly be a wuss
And make the rules as I go
Cause I know that she’d be faithful
Waitin’ for me to come home (to come home)

If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I’d be a better man
I’d listen to her
Cause I know how it hurts
When you lose the one you wanted (wanted)
Cause he’s taken you for granted (granted)
And everything you had got destroyed
It’s a little too late for you to come back
Say its just a mistake
Think I’d forgive you like that
If you thought I would wait for you
You thought wrong
If I were a girl
Even just for a while
I’d stay in the bathroom all day
Doin’ all my facials and ‘cures
Shoppin’ with the girls
Enticing the guys
But surely I ain’t gonna do those
‘Cause he will come and lose to blows
And I want him for keeps

If I were a girl
I’d never cease to wonder
Why I always love whole-souled
It’s difficult to be a girl
‘Guess I’d talk less
Cause tatty words pester him
And I don’t wanna lose my love
Even if I’m taken for granted
‘Cause I don’t want everything destroyed
If I were a girl
I’d keep a tab on him
Askin’ all for his location
‘Cause I know he ain’t in no biz meeting
I’d gladly be a wuss
Letting his excessive whims
‘Cause I know that I’d be faithful
Waitin’ for him to come home (to come home)
If I were a girl
I’d never cease to wonder
Why I always love whole-souled
It’s difficult to be a girl
‘Guess I’d talk less
Cause tatty words pester him
And I don’t wanna lose my love
Even if I’m taken for granted
‘Cause I don’t want everything destroyed

Yeah right now I wanna come back to you
I’ve realised my mistake
I know it ain’t easy to forgive
I’ve been keeping you waiting
Please forgive

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More than Typos (Vol. 1)

This is a collection from signposts/boards, handbills, stickers, billboards, banners, adverts, newspapers, magazines etc. acquired in recent times cutting across all sorts of people, events, vehicles and places. These are more than typographical errors. It highlights the folly of having little or no education, neglecting or not paying attention to details.

I’d have complemented them with appropriate photographs but a not-too-toothsome experience of almost being lynched sometime ago taught me photography-oriented reporting genre might be a mission only for the felo-de-se. You need to be a sharpie particularly on Nigeria streets. A friend of mine was once assailed by a policeman during his stint (actually, more of a stunt) as a street diarist. What he (my friend) lost in his camera he gained in a black eye. Let me spare you the details. Enjoy
“More than Typos”, the first in the series.

“COLD ICE WATER AVAILABLE HERE.” Thanks, but I need hot ice water.

“Because He Leave, I Can Face Tomorrow.” What happens if he stay(s)?

“**** Nursary and Primary School.” I bet you don’t wanna send your kid there.

“2006: My Year of Supernatural Brakethroughs.” Surely, you’ll need a load of brake pads.

“WELLCOME” Boldly written on a massive doormat at the entrance of a bank!

“Horn B/F Overtaken.” I’m speechless.

“Awelewa Food Canteen. We Sell Rice and Bins….” It couldn’t be served better.

“The God of Impossibilities Ministries.” What a G(?)od!

“We Are Specialise In All Kind Of Japanese Car Like Toyota, Mustubushi And Others.” Also tells you what we can do to your vehicle.

“TO THE CONVINIENCE” Found in an eatery. But I think Microsoft Word spelling check still works.

“VEHICLES ARE PACKED AT OWNER’S RISK.” Where are they sent to?

“NO KING HAS GOD.” Indeed!

“Bye Your Recharge Cards Here.” Goodbye, recharge cards!

“Remember Sixth Feet.” Should I forget the fifth one?

“ALL VISITOR ARE TO COLLECT GATE PASS.” Hmmm! The multiplicity of one – all in one.

“Make Piece With God.” How many?


“Your Heeling Awaits You.” That’s a place to avoid.

“VULGANISER. POMP UR TIRE HERE.” I dare you to “vulganise” and “pomp”.

“I Shall Live In Abundance Prosperity.” Choose one.

“BARB YOUR HERE HAIR.” This is my favourite! The sign writer must either be confused, absent-minded or both!


“BUY YOUR ICED BLOCK HERE.” I never knew (brick or sandcrete) blocks are iced for sale.

“Recharge Your Cards.” What would I do with my phone line?

“BUY YOUR FROZEN CHICKEN AND TORKEY. WE SELL IN KILOS.” Torkey? You also sell that in kilos?

“FOR SELL” This was a plaque placed on top of a car.


“Hajj Know One Knows Tomorrow.” Figure that out.

“Original Spear Parts Available” Sorry, I need dagger parts.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Jungle Justice in the Jungle

My official redeployment to Aba came at a time (if truth be told) I considered a change (from my almost-becoming-irksome stay in a quiet little village tucked somewhere in the Niger Delta) would be well received. Not that what I opined mattered much, I was “whisked” according to my wish and as a matter of urgency to my new place of assignment with less than 12-hour prior notice. I could not even carry out any proper handover or necessary preparation. Posting in the secret service or other security outfit would have been a cinch compared to mine. Already accustomed to the profession of a peregrine engineer, the nomad in me was delighted to move on. Attached to one of the most prominent projects in Nigeria nothing could have been more welcoming or alluring. So pack my baggage I did: Aba here I come!

An initial impression of the city at entrance made my heart sink. Approaching the city core via Ogbor hills presented an aerial view of a city planned and developed with only one thing in mind – bedlam! Descending the hills into Aba-Ikot Ekpene road made my heart not only to sink more but also to shrink. The massive mounds of dirt lining both sides of the carriageway drainage (and reducing the right of way) were offensive to sight. More bewildering is the ease at which residents and roadside shop owners carry on with their duties in this untidiness. True to my observation after my week-long stay here, the situation does not differ anywhere in Aba (except for a couple of well-monitored GRAs). Common denominators remain: Crater-size pothole-infested roads (with insufficient feeder roads); tout-controlled parks; mounds, ridges and hills of refuse dumps; lawlessness (I was told everyone here is a law to him/herself); disorderliness; self-preservation at its smuttiest; exasperating traffic congestion; etc.

I have always been of the opinion that Lagos is the zenith in the comity of anarchic cities and if you can survive in Lagos, you can do so anywhere else. Alas, I was wrong. I am sorry to let Lagosians know they have no credible claim on chaos and madhouse living. A visit to Aba will convince many. Aba has showcased an unimaginable order of lawlessness. It is mind-blowing. Words will fail to describe.

I must not fail to mention the usual and often seen activity that dots Aba metropolis: At anytime, you could be stuck in traffic for the most unthinkable reason – touts, drivers and/or other road users are having a scuffle ahead of you. There is no free flow of traffic until they have their fill. Do I hear you inquire about the police? They cannily look the other way. I was told here, the hunter might become the hunted if he does not mind his business. Howbeit, the police have some other toll-inclined duties they do with scrupulous dedication.

Also top on the list of outlawry is reckless and lawless driving. Indeed, I make bold to say once more, Lagos drivers might want to consider registering for a 1-hour crash programme in irresponsible driving particularly in okada manoeuvring. Moreover in Aba, as far as motorcyclists and their passengers are concerned (if they are at all), the new FRSC law enforcing the use of crash helmets is only meant for faint-hearted motorcyclists – if you are an adept hasty driver here, no type of crash helmet will save you from impending disaster that will eventually occur as a result of unruliness. So why waste time (and money) using crash helmets in its various forms – calabashes, paint buckets, factory helmets, etc.?

Aba is well-known for its commercial activities. However, as I moved through the major and popular Cemetery, New and Ariara (international?) markets I was taken aback by conditions of infrastructures in these places – horrendous roads, non-functional drainage systems (if and where provided), refuse dumps and shambolic shanties called shops. During the last few days it rained lightly in these areas. I tried to extrapolate how these conditions would be in the approaching rainy season. My mind shuddered at this realisation. We make money from our major cities in Nigeria by almost squeezing life out of them. The least we could give in return is to make these cities fit for habitation.

Surviving in Aba might include being in possession of the following (these are not luxuries): A savvy and tout-like driver with local knowledge and map of the road network (especially of streets and cul-de-sacs not on the map) stamped at the back of his mind (I want to use this medium to thank my pilot-driver, Austin). An air-conditioned four-wheel drive SUV will be more than handy to avoid sweating it out when stuck in traffic and manoeuvring through hills and valleys of gullies called roads. If you (or your company) can afford it, service of mobile police attaché (not women-beating ones) will provide not security but prevent frequent stops by same to “check” your vehicle particulars. The only way to ensure your security here is to be circumspect. Lastly, a generator in good working condition to supply electricity to douse excessive heat and prevent giant-sized mosquitoes from feasting is a necessity.

Aba (like many other Nigerian cities) is akin to a modern day jungle.

Now to the crux of this article: On my way to work this morning, Austin (my driver) made a sudden turn, off Aba-Port-Harcourt motorway to show me an atrocious sight – an utterly burnt human body! I could not take a second look at the gory spectacle hence I told him to leave the spot. With much gusto he explained to me how this is a common sight in Aba. Once you are caught pilfering, the immediate, undisputed and unwritten judgement meted out by your captors is incineration – without any ado. Thereafter, everyone goes about their normal business leaving the burnt corpse either to putrefy (causing awful odour and adverse health effects) or be carried away by a non-existing environmental service. It is generally believed here that an individual must work with his hands in order to cater for himself and the opportunities abound to do so. Considering and acting otherwise will spell doom for shop lifters whenever caught.

I could not believe at this age and time such penal measures still exist. I bombarded Austin with a salvo of questions: What if the person is innocent? Is the possibility of being framed considered? What action do the policemen seen around take when such a suspect is caught? Is the local/state government aware of this? How do residents take this development? All Austin did was to smile matter-of-factly telling me “Oga, that one na Aba for you. Welcome to Aba!”

I never knew jungle justice still exists in the jungle! Indeed, a welcome to Aba cannot be more intriguing.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Lighthouse is 3!!!

This article was scheduled for posting, 8th January 2009 (3 years exactly after the first online posting on Lighthouse). However, as usual the “thief of time” robbed me. No grudges, after all I’d get it posted eventually.

I’d remember clearly the urge and feeling I had exactly 3 years ago – I was stuck between my prison-size bed and desktop. The night before, I had a chat with Molara Wood who encouraged me to float a blog after reading hers and learning how to develop one (she might not remember this). Howbeit, I daunted the reluctance to stay in bed and I wrote and posted my first article (a line of poetry) online – for the first time!

My writing then was scurfy and tawdry. I was one of a lacklustre writer (not that I’ve been any different – let me try to be modest) but reading through my postings over the years, I’d say to myself “Boy! You’ve come a long way.” I’ve since learned that the way to “knowing” is by “doing” and “doing” more. The best way to write is by writing and writing more.

Over time, my articles bothered round various issues ranging from age to banking, comedy to leadership, love to urban legends with the most frequent on human development, society and Nigeria – a country I’m passionate about. My articles have featured in various newspapers, blogs, online journals, portals, etc and edited for a weekly TV series (coming soon).

More than a thousand days after the first posting, the objective of Lighthouse has remained unchanged:

“To provide thoughtful provocations all geared toward insightful and purposeful living, presented in a cynical, humorous and/or abstruse manner in order to guide to the ports of purposeful achievement.”

The name was fashioned after a literal lighthouse whose purpose is to guide passing ships against running into shoals or other obstructions. Over the past three years, I’ve tried as much as possible to provoke insightful thoughts in my readers regardless of the manner it’s presented – profound or sarcastic – with the goal of guiding them through issues of life, from my perspectives.

Writing has availed me the opportunity to vent my pent-up thoughts, discover a previously terra incognita part of me and most importantly establish forever-cherished contacts.

A writer’s world can sometimes be incomprehensible, exhilarating and uninteresting, all at the same time. I’ve had my fair share of a writer’s block the acme of which was experienced in 2007 – not a single article was posted then. The light of Lighthouse was dimming. Lighthouse was almost going the way of most blogs: Oblivion Avenue. No thanks to conducting an academic research/fieldwork, joggling between two continents, preparing for a wedding and changing location. Nonetheless, the Goddess of Blogville smiled on me. Lighthouse was overhauled and revitalised in 2008.

In 2006, I had a total of 7 posted articles. As aforementioned, 2007 was a year of writing drought while 2008 recorded an unprecedented number of posted articles – 25, without missing any month out on posting from March to December (July and August had the highest number of postings: 5 each). 25 postings in 10 months might not call for celebrations on certain blogs (I’ve read blogs with over 60 postings in a month!) but as far as Lighthouse is concerned, this is a feat (considering my schedule and other responsibilities) and I’m rolling out the drums!

Incidentally, my first posting on Lighthouse articulated in poetical lines the first time I experienced a natural phenomenon. The article was titled “The First Time.” (I started out on this line of creative writing but it’s arduous. I’ve evolved to be more of a casual, social affairs commentator with occasional fiction writing). As I write, I try to ponder how many times I’ve done things for the first time and how the accompanying emotion feels like.

As Lighthouse steps into another year, I look forward to doing things, meeting people, writing on new perspectives, visiting places, reading books (and probably doing other things you may get to know as events unfold) – for the first time!

My physical and mind registers are filled with many articles yet unwritten. As a senior friend of mine once prayed:

“I wish ‘self pen that glides well on paper and fingers that strike the right keys.”

Long live the art of writing!
Long live blogville!!
Long live Lighthouse!!!