Saturday, November 17, 2007
Started off with Djibouti... endless sun, salt and sand... and night clubs. There are over 40 night clubs in the small town... as well as a US army base...and a base for the French legionnaires. Talking about the legionnaires, surely, you will find it hard to find a stranger military uniform... khaki shirts... tucked in short tight khaki shorts (sokoto pempe)...and the strangest caps you ever saw... think of a face cap made from a tin of bournvita... painted white...and of course black socks and black boots/shoes.
From the heat of Djibouti, I strayed into the freezer called Brussels... the airline lost my luggage again... (haven't found it). I had to deal with some kind of food poisoning I got in Djibouti... Thankfully, not the rush you to the hospital in the middle of the night kind, but it was the rush to the toilet 1 zillion times in the middle of the night kind... I survived. My laptop charger was in my lost luggage... Wait for this... I visited almost 20 shops in Brussels, before I found one that could order it for me (moral of the story... don't lose your luggage)
Spent all my time (almost two weeks) in really annoying meetings... became a night owl by default... my meetings finished late in the night... the only time I had to see the city was late in the night. So did a lot of late night exploring in the freezing cold...and rain... had to change hotels three time for different reasons... Didn't have time to check out the strip joints (intellectual curiosity of course)... Checked out all the sex shops (more intellectual curiosity...besides, they were the only shops open at that time of the night). The shops are a genuine monument to human ingenuity, creativity, invention... and desperation. The things I saw... deserve a blog of their own... Porn to cater to every degree of depravity that you can imagine... or more likely that you cant imagine... a variety of devices, gadgets and contraptions that will put James Bond to shame... hell, you probably need a PhD to figure out how some of them work.
So I bounce into the shop, all wrapped up like a Christmas present because of the cold... All the customers looked alike... Men of a certain age, stature, race... all wearing the same type of jackets... all avoiding eye contact. Well, I guess everybody avoids eye contact with people they meet in sex shops. Anyway, there is no point telling you what I bought (if I bought anything) or what happened to what I bought (if I bought anything). However, I strongly recommend dear reader... (if you haven't) to broaden your education...and make time to visit one near you... But I warn you, it is not for the faint hearted.
I finished my meetings eventually, and got to spend two days in Amsterdam... old hunting grounds. So many irresponsible young people! I felt right at home! Hooked up with old friends...always a pleasure. Almost got high by strolling along the streets. Got lost once. Didn't get arrested... or deported.
Got back to Kigali... And more work! Was exhausted for a week. Anytime I opened my computer to work, I started feeling sleepy... was almost tempted to call home to ask my mom to talk to people. Anyway, it all passed before we contracted external consultants.... the amazing Egbe Afadurajagun, home town chapter.
Anyway, I am almost back to normal now... declined another trip to Kampala for this week...was just too tired to contemplate it! Settling down to work... and started preparing for xmas in naija...
I remain... yours.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Got back from Madagascar Monday night... ended up spending upwards of 50 hrs of my life at various airports... the trip was eventful to a certain degree..although at certain points I thought I was jinxed. I misplaced my passport twice, my return tickets once, misplaced my phone at the airport, found my phone at the airport, got my wallet stolen at a night club and last but not the least.. the plastering of the roof in my hotel room collapsed on my bed during my last night ...no I wasn't on the bed at the time it happened.
Antananarivo (Tana) was nice... The capital of Madagascar... a few hours from the beaches and rain forest (I learnt that 80% of fauna and flora in Madagascar is endemic to the island..which supposedly broke away from the rest of Africa about 80 million years ago). I didnt get to see the beaches or the forest of a thousand strange animals.
The people are a curious mix... Polynesian descent mainly, Indian, Chinese, some African etc... They are not very large boned, but they seemed friendly enough, perhaps.. too friendly.
Tana reminded me of home quite a bit...partly because I heard them playing "sweet mother" the french version, on the street in front of my house... partly because of the hustle and bustle of the street trading and the aroma of all sorts of food being fried and sold on the street... driving through some of the streets felt like I was driving through Pen cinema, Agege (on a smaller scale) or any possible number of streets in mainland Lagos. I swear... the shops and stalls were even laid out alike... complete with ajinomoto adverts and small lemon green and orange banners to identify call centres. There was also the aching familiarity of the poverty though... but I digress.
Lest I forget, I must tell you about how a fool and his wallet were soon parted.
It was a spicy evening at a club called Pandora.. We had wandered into the club, my fellows and I... honoring the time worn ritual of sampling the night life in every place we visited... I had wisely left my money and other stuff at my hotel but rather unwisely left my favourite Chelsea wallet and on me ..with some change in the local currency. I am doing my big boy...corner of the dance floor move (hands in pocket, eyes roaming about aimlessly), when one of my friends (an interpreter) drags a couple of the "ahem" local talent towards me. Immediately the talent begins her dance...which consisted largely of feeling me all over or rather...feeling for my wallet all over. She begins... and I think to myself... this girl does not know me o! She thinks I am a mugun like all these oyinbo tourists! I run through my mental check list, my wallet is in a pocket...close to my groin... my phone is in the other pocket...close to the other side of my groin... absolutely safe, I think... my tight jeans... my vault.
To flash my street wise creds, I take a break and go over to my friend and i tell her that his "friend" was trying to steal my wallet, and if it happened, he would compensate him for my loss. He laughs.. he knows that I am a naija omo ita... a sun ma fori le pillow... a jokuta ma mo mi... The girl spots me again and recommences her dance... two minutes later a girl walks up to her and whispers something to her ears... 30 seconds later.. I do my security check for my valuables... my wallet was gone.. I smile, and I politely ask her to return my wallet... her English deteriorates... and she switches to french.. I smile back and ask her... even more politely... to give me back her wallet, the one she gave to her friend... she asked me where i put it, I said it was in my pocket... this one? she asks, pointing to the pocket where I put my wallet... my smile becomes broader... yes, I said, the one I put there... Her friend comes over, i go through her pockets... no wallet. I grab her hand, and drag her to my friend the interpreter... the one I was flashing my street creds to.. I told him to tell her, that I will give her money if she returns the wallet... there were no cards and just about 30 or 40 dollars in the wallet in local change... but it was my favourite Chelsea wallet...and I did not want it lying in some ditch in Madagascar... But alas, it was too late, the denials had become too firm. My friend asks me to give up and take it on the chin... that they might return the wallet, if they discover there was nothing very significant in it... indeed. The rest, as they say is history... My wallet is lying in some ditch in Madagascar, I hope there are Chelsea fans in Madagascar.
Of the stories about the hotel, my passport.. the strange souls that I met while loitering at Johannesburg airport... I will save for another time.
Once again... I apologise for my delayed posting.Special mention goes to Ibilola... for shaming me into putting up this post.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I have been busy, busy, busy.. again. That happens occasionally.. Spent a week a in d.c for some more meetings/discussions/negotiations... It was a highly vexatious trip... Spent over 12 hrs a day in meetings.. I hardly had time to do any thing else... Of course, the airline had to misplace my luggage from Kigali, I got it back the night before I left d.c... after a lot of inconvenience and expense (strangely, I was expecting that to happen).. . I wasn't compensated though... I know, I know.. I should have made hell..after all, I am a Nigerian...and a lawyer..
Didn't encounter too many stereotypes about Nigeria on this trip... although... Kenya refused to grant me a transit visa at the airport.. so I had to spend hours in the airport... I will have my revenge in this world or the next. Surely.
I now declare my intimacy with the nooks, crannies, shops, joints, nice attendants, rude attendants, bathrooms etc of a number of international airports... I may be publishing a book about that at some point... feel free to encourage me.
They refused to serve me alcohol at a restaurant in d.c... they said I looked too young... don't be deceived... it was my friend that looked too young... she promptly produced her id and was served... I didn't produce mine, and I was not served... I made a great show of sharing her drink in public of course... encouraged her to buy as many drinks as possible... I wasn't arrested...and I didn't get drunk.
Spent a day in London...spent way too much time on the metro... smiled and posed at as many surveillance cameras as I could find... You never know, you may see me first on Sky TV. Saw friends and family in London. That was a pleasure, it is always a pleasure.
High point of my trips... the people I saw... low point.. the people I did not see (bro..no vex abeg)
Still very busy.. I have workshops all through the week, and meetings all through next week...
I know, I know... I owe, I owe, off to work I go.
Friday, August 10, 2007
It’s the evening,
The neighbors are gone now
The music has gone quiet
The celebrations are over
Its just us now…
Mama and I
She looks at me.
I look away.
She reaches for me.
I pull away.
I reach for her.
I am not the son she lost,
I am not the boy she missed
…the one that left.
The one she loved.
Would she love,
the one that came,
In place of the one she lost?
It’s the evening
The neighbors are gone now…
But the questions remain.
I write…and as I write, I see the ink from my pen… as my blood.
I write in my own blood… my blood flows from my pen.
I write… and as I write, I spend myself. The more I write the more I spend.
I write… and as I write I grow weaker…weaker and weaker.
But I write.
And as I see what I write, I understand.
I understand what I have become.
I have become what I write, no more, nothing else.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The sadness leaks out at times
Like oil from a broken jar
The trickle becomes a stream
The stream will be a flood
The memories I have of us
Escape from their prison at times
And I remember when I’d rather forget…
Tomorrow never came for us in the end
And I want to forget our yesterday.
We thought our love could move
the sun, the moon and the stars.
And that it will be constant…
Like the sun, the moon and the stars
But our love can only be as strong
As we ourselves are, it seems
In the end,
I was not strong enough to move
the sun, the moon and the stars.
And you were not constant,
like the sun, the moon or the stars
Chasing after the shadows
Looking for what will set me free.
In the strange little places…
In her eyes
In the books
In your touch
In my mind
I wonder why I put up these posts.
I am having that strange feeling again... That drifting, floating, restless feeling... I am not quite sure what I am thinking about. I only know that I am thinking. At least I think I am thinking... the poetry is old, the words are old, the feeling is old... make up a story for me...whoever you are.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
“Whisper into my mouth,
The things your eyes say…”
I went to her and I kissed her,
I kissed her with my eyes, my lips
I kissed her with my heart,
I kissed her, as she cried
I tasted the sweetness of her lips
…the bitterness of her tears
I kissed her again…and again
As I whispered into her mouth
Promises I could not keep
I kissed her
And I felt her heart break
And my heart broke
As her heart broke
I kissed her
Because I did not know what to say
My words had lost their way
I kissed her
And I walked away
I walked away and did not look back
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
The freedom to be whoever, whatever…without fear or shame, pride or joy… just the exultation, the freedom of being… I miss the way I am afraid at the beginning… before I start. The way my heart skips, and I cannot breathe… I cannot think… I feel it all, and I feel nothing. And then I start and I just forget… I forget to breathe, I forget to be afraid, I forget to think… I just become… for them.
I miss the rhythm, the steady beat of the unfolding scenes, and the cadence of the different parts we play… one after the other… as we create, becoming more than just ourselves… creating a whole that is more than the sum of our momentary parts… Everything fades, everybody fades … It’s just you… and me … and them.
I miss holding it all back… to give it all out. The sweet, sweet exhaustion that follows... the emptiness of the space that is between the time I become and the time I return… I miss the release, of not having anything else to give… the calm after the storm… the quiet that I have in my secret place afterwards… because I have nothing else to give… to them.
You never refuse me, you always accept me… You will always be home… my stage and my home.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Dream of me sometimes
I do not ask that you love me
I ask only that you should not forget me
That you remember how we were
Who we were
What we were…
Maybe we didn’t love enough or try enough
Or maybe we tried too much
But there were those times…
When for me
The sun rose in your eyes
And I made the music play in your heart
Remember us for those times.
Sometimes I see in Technicolor
The colors in my world are brighter
than they should be…
I close my eyes
and wish for some darkness
Then I wake
And discover that the colors…
were in my dream.
And the darkness is my life
Thursday, May 31, 2007
I have a domestic servant that speaks neither English or French. Things are... complicated. My sign language and general non verbal communication skills have improved tremendously. But there are still challenges...
I am developing a cunning mix of basic french, basic English, a drop or two of the local lingo as well as a smattering of Yoruba (yes Yoruba) to deal with the problem... Nothing quite compliments a rueful shake of the head like "o ga o"... Nothing passes the message across to suicidal motorcycle riders (yes...there are okadas in Kigali).. like WERE! ( mad man..or woman) unless of course you remember your employers expect you to behave with decorum, and you instead mutter it under your breath like a prayer... But I digress.
Anyway, in spite of my dangerous cunning and adaptability, I am still faced with daunting challenges... particularly with my all purpose domestic assistant..
Boiling water is fine...But how do you say that you like your food spicy and dangerous without too much oil. ...That shrimps, crabs, prawns and their ilk must be avoided at all costs... How do you explain the difference between salads and vegetable mishmash... that you do not need onions in your fruit salad...
How do you explain to him that you would send someone to the house at 11 o'clock to pick up something for you ( I got stuck after pointing to 11 on the wall clock)... That you would be out of town for a few days and you wont be sending someone to pick your car for servicing ... or your TV... or your fridge... or the entire bloody house for that matter...How do I tell him I don't expect him to sleep outside..."guarding the house"... when it is raining cats and bad things.. without insulting his professional pride?
Even worse, how does he tell you that he needs a raise, that he needs to visit his sick mom...or that Mr Johnson came and dropped an urgent message for you to give to Mr Jackson... In the first two instances I was helped by neighbourhood translators, I haven't experienced the third instance..perhaps Mr Johnson did come... and he did not know how to inform me..
Flummoxed in Kigali
Monday, May 28, 2007
December 2002 - The promise and the fear
I promise to be there for you... no matter what
That you will have my heart
For as long as I live... and even through eternity
I promise to be true to you...
even if I am not being true to myself
I promise that you will have my strength to use as you will
... and if that were not enough
to find enough strength..somehow, somewhere...
I'm afraid at times
that I might love you too much.
That my love
instead of bathing you in the warmth of its tenderness
might be like the raging fire
consuming you in its fervour
That my embraces,
instead of warming you and loving you
might choke you
and crush you
I am afraid.
My words mock me oldeyes... They fly off the pages laughing and screaming into the air... Some of them are crying...wondering what happened to their power, their meaning? They disturb me...but I have no answers for them oldeyes... I have no answers for them...
I beg them to leave me alone ...that their pain is my pain... but they refuse oldeyes, they refuse. Sometimes they sit in front of me and stare.. They do not talk...But their eyes accuse me..."Liar! False Prophet! Hypocrite!" their eyes say. I cringe but they do not stop... Fool! Madman! they scream...
I ignore them at those times oldeyes... Yes, oldeyes, I ignore my beautiful children... My beautiful, empty children ...
And worst of all oldeyes, when I call them sometimes... they do not come... My words are leaving me oldeyes...my children have turned their backs on me... My beautiful, empty children... Tell me, oldeyes, tell me... Why have all the words lost their meaning?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
What shall we do to your old eyes?
What could make them new?
Perhaps, if you cried
Some of the age would leave
And your eyes will be new
Would you cry for me then, little girl?
Would you cry for me
and make your old eyes new?
I remember the first time I saw you oldeyes.
I remember...but I cant remember how it started. This was the first one oldeyes. I cant remember a lot now... But the little I remember is enough.
I cant remember what I wanted to save you from. But I remember that saving you was supposed to save me. Did I save you, oldeyes?
Did you save me? Was it all just a futile battle against the inevitable?
Time will tell oldeyes, what other use is there for time anyway...
I cant remember oldeyes...Time has also done that to me. I will remember you occasionally oldeyes...through the bits and pieces... the fragments and the words that have frozen our times forever for me.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I probably wont go home early... Home is a houseboy that does not speak English or french...and Satellite TV. The life of the expat is quite lonely you see. Hmmm..who do I call? What do I do?
Was in Nairobi 2 weeks ago..excellent place...mad people..beaucoup restaurants and pubs and bars..and oyinbo people. Very ambitious traffic hold ups for a city of 3 million. Very aggressive professionals (females) at some of the clubs too. The trip was too short to get a full impression. Didn't do the Safari...didn't do the country side...did a number of restaurants and bars and clubs...Didn't really meet anybody...
Meanwhile...is there any country apart from those in West Africa that Nigerians do not need visas to enter? I mean, the only passport that is probably more inconvenient that the green passport might be the Pakistani passport...but then again..
I havent invited anybody to my blog yet...but what is the point of writing if nobody gets to read? That would change..soon.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
What should I muse about today. Should I muse about being a Nigerian in this sad, funny world? Rage against the system and the politics and the pride and the shame and the disappointment and the cruel, cruel hope that leads to more disappointment and more hope in the vicious cycle that I hope will break before I quench. But that is not fun.
Should I indulge again in my favourite drug - melancholy, and wander a little along the emotional corridors of my past? I do that a lot. Even when I'm not indulging, I cannot escape the melancholia that follows me about like a pesky, unwanted friend. Always turning up, always present and who by virtue of alwaysbeingthereness becomes your best and most familiar friend.
Or maybe today I will be happy. Share my happy places in the hope that I would be surrounded by its reflections and in doing so increase my happiness in multiple folds. But then again, Dear Reader... I am afraid. Afraid of letting you into my secret places...letting you into places no woman (or man) has gone before.
At any rate, I am late for a meeting... Catch y'all later.
I gotta go.
Peace to the Middle East