Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Champ Is Humbled

I’m sure every single one of us has had a bad day at one point in our lives. No matter your regular good fortune or talent, there must have been a time when things just didn’t go your way.Admittedly, there are those who, to us, seem to be as consistent as traffic in Lagos. As far as consistency is concerned, there are two Nigerian comedians who I strongly feel easily rank as the best & most reliable comedians in Nigeria. Who are they, you wonder? Yes, you may have guessed it: Julius Agwu & Basket Mouth. However, for the latter, yesterday was a horrible experience he would pray he could forget for the rest of his days. The occasion was the hugely successful, Xmas-season music/comedy show, Rhythm Unplugged. After a typical delayed start, the show got into its full flow with infectious music, great dance performances & extremely funny comedians. This was till it was time for Basket Mouth to take the stage for his routine. Although this top comedian started out with an unusually low tone, I had thought it was just a different way of starting his performance this time around. I was sure that in no time we would all get to hear the normal rib-cracking jokes the Edo-Born young man is best known and respected for. Sadly, it didn’t come. His jokes were astonishingly dry (save for one or two moments) and the crowd, many of whom were amongst his huge admirers, were merciless. They kept booing and, at a point, were asking him to leave the stage. Understandably, Basket Mouth (real name: Bright Okpocha) refused to. Simply because that’s one of the worst things a stand-up comedian should do. Especially for one as successful & cherished as Bright. So he resorted to insulting some members of the public. At a point, when someone in the crowd screamed out that he was messing up due to the obvious wealth he’s accrued in recent years, he tried to convince us of his down-to-earth nature by informing us of his regular visits to a popular amala joint in Yaba.Truly sad. The boos only got more consistent & louder. He seemed confused, seeking support by asking those who truly loved him to shout out loud, a desperate wish they duly obliged (probably out of pity). This was like an ‘I’m still one of the best out there’ taunt. When it became apparent that he had undoubtedly overstayed his welcome, he humbly made his way off stage. I was shocked and deeply saddened. My Basket Mouth. The man who can crack people up at a funeral.Humbled.Embarassed.Well, if this is still one of the undisputed Kings of naija comedy I know, then we look forward to him coming back with a huge bang. He has to, as there’s no other choice. The whole incident was made all the more humiliating as his fellow colleague, Julius Agwu was at his trademark best(at times assisted by his partner-in-crime, Okey Bakassi).
Basket Mouth, I know yesterday night must have been hard to swallow. Like you said, you’ve never been booed off by your fans before. Only God knows what really went wrong, but I’m confident you’ll prove to your dear fans that yesterday’s disaster was simply a one-off which would never re-occur.Please, I beg you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jingle Bells

It's that time of year again,guys.The Christmas season.The period of time each December when kids get all excited and most workers are at their most buoyant.I vividly remember the excitement i used to feel as a kid this time of year.The presents,the turkey,peppersoup,my dad's extra-generosity,the numerous hampers & goats we received from family friends and fairweather associates of my father's.Those were really fun times,but i guess nostalgia works that way.Anything that happened many years ago seemed like the best of times.So i guess if that nostalgic theory is consistently accurate,we'll all be reminiscing in the year 2040 of how wonderful power supply was in 2007.Hahaha.I rebuke that in Jesus' name,as that simply means we'll probably have electricity 5 minutes a day or something then.I'm digressing,so back to the feel good moments of the xmas season.These days,December is a period for shows,concerts,weddings & temporary nightclubs(i.e. arranged by sharp dudes who briefly rent & convert someone's home or office to make quick cash from those who treat every day in december like it's friday).On the not so pleasant side,the season is also the time when the men of the underworld are at their most alert & industrious.Afterall,everybody wan enjoy christmas.Business is also brisk for venue owners,bars,airlines,hotels,makers of hampers,sellers of rice,goats and so on.If only we had a proper data collation system in this country,i would have loved to know the amount spent by nigerians in December yearly.Must be in the billions.
After all the fun is over,things change really fast.The month of joy quickly passes the baton to the month of financial sorrow for most a.k.a January.The month when the pockets have dried up due to the early payday most employees receive in December as well as the extreme partying,drinking & reckless spending indulged by many.It's all so routine each time that it seems like a scene from Bill Murray's Groundhog Day,a movie where the actor's life follows the same sequence every single day from the moment he wakes up.However,it's truly a period to be merry,grateful to the Almighty for all the blessings received during the year and most especially for our lives being spared to see the final month of the year.
Whatever your views on xmas and it's associated season,it's undoubtedly the time of the year with the most activity.Especially for one's seemingly leaking wallet.
Happy & safe holidays,everyone.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It Promises To Be 'Sick'

According to Websters dictionary,one of the definitions of the word 'Sick' is:'Dwelling on or obsessed with that which is gruesome,sadistic,ghoulish or the like'.However,when it comes to black people-speak,sick means any of the following: 'hot','too hard','lovely','special','daammmn'.For those who still find this difficult to understand,i'll give some examples of what sick is,as far as street-talk is concerned:'Buy U a Drank' by Tpain is a sick joint.The Range Rover Sport is a sick ride.Beyonce Knowles is a sick chick.Get it now?Well.i'm sure you do.So,you know what else is sick?Simple.This upcoming friday & saturday i.e Dec 14th & 15th.The reason is clear as one those 2 days,Lagos would be rocked by a huge array of hot artistes from the States.At Friday's Star Mega Jam,8 time-2008 Grammy nominee Kanye West & America's hottest singer of the moment,T-Pain would thrill fans at Ikoyi's Polo Ground.T-Pain is so popular currently that he was featured in 4 singles on the US Top 10 Chart last week.
On the next day at the Thisday Centre in Lekki,music fans would be treated to performances by Lil Kim,super-rapper Lil Wayne,Amerie,Brick & Lace,Ying Yang Twins & recently debuted Jamaican star,Sean Kingston.
Nigeria has impressively seen a vast amount of popular singers/rappers grace our soil over the last couple of years, unarguably highlighted by the appearance of celebrity couple,Jay Z & Beyonce last year.I was chatting with a friend in England just last week and he was quite envious of the fact that many in Nigeria had seen more stars perform over here than he has in the UK.
Understandably for many,security seems to be a big concern for those interested in attending the upcoming shows in Lekki & Ikoyi.As such,i hope that the organisers & authorities rise up to this challenge & pass in flying colors.
To steal a phrase from a chart-topping song by two of this weekend's performers i.e Kanye West & Tpain,all i'll say to the true music fans attending the concerts is 'Welcome to the Good Life'.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Respect Thy Stranger

What you are about to read is a true story.Yes,so true.I heard it from the guy involved,myself.I had met up with a friend last week for drinks.Two other friends of his had later joined us.This factual tale was experienced and relayed by one of them.Now this guy had,not too long ago,met a very pretty and intelligent chick at a gallery in ikoyi.You see,his cousin was an upcoming painter and had gotten an opportunity to showcase some of his works at an exhibition being held there.Under pressure from his cousin to show some support,he decided to attend the occasion.So while at this event looking at the displayed works,him and this hot girl got talking.They hit it off so well that they swapped numbers.Over the next few days,they spent loads of time chatting & texting.They then met up for drinks at Churasco and had dinner a couple of times.The thought even crossed this guy's mind that she could be 'the one' as she seemed heaven-sent,due to their incredible compatibility.
So one weekend,she invited him to her family house in VI for the first time.Earlier that day,this short-tempered chap's mechanic had pissed him off,as he had spent way too long servicing the guy's Honda.On his way to the girl's place,he was caught up in traffic on the island which added to his earlier fury.He later found himself in a queue of cars waiting for the traffic warden at the Adeolu Odeku junction to give them the go-ahead to move.When the traffic guy beckoned for his line to proceed,he noticed that the guy driving the Toyota just in front of him was stalling.Apparently,something must have been up with the man's car.After blaring his horn for a while,this guy impatiently decided to move out of his lane.As he swerved out,he uttered 'idiot' loudly at the 'sluggish' elderly man whose window glass was partially wound down.
He then spontaneously decided to stop at Park & Shop to get his 'new' chick some bars of Twix,which happened to be her favorite.As he was getting out of his car at the supermarket,a man in his early 50s,wearing a blue linen shirt walked up towards him.He soon realised that it was the guy he had just abused less than 2 minutes ago.The well-spoken,older man man asked 'Why did you have to insult me,young man?Would you have liked it if someone your age abused your father like that?'.
For some unexplainable reason,the young chap simply hissed and walked away unrepentantly.
After he bought the chocolate bars,he set out for the babe's house excitedly.
20 mins later,he was in her living room gisting and giggling away.He was quite relaxed as her mum was sleeping upstairs and her dad was out.Shortly after,the doorbell rang behind him.The girl stood up to open.As he heard her say 'Welcome,daddy',he spontaneously rose and turned to meet & greet his 'potential' father-in-law.It was the man in the blue linen shirt.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

HiTV:The Mother Of All Rip-Offs

I just want to ask one question.Realistically, I doubt I’ll get an appropriate answer but I’ll ask anyway. Why do most things Nigerian always have K leg? As I type this, I’m no longer as angry as I was around this time yesterday. Simply because Arsenal won & our rivals Man Utd lost, giving us a 3 point lead at the top of the premiership table.Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the game despite having two satellite dishes at home and religiously forking out N13,000 a month on combined subscription fees. So how come I wasn't able to see my darling club play yesterday? Simple: HiTV.The ‘sadly Nigerian’ cable company did it again, but this time it was on an unprecedented scale. For close to 4 hours yesterday, all I, as well as hundreds of thousands of soccer fans across the country, saw on the soccer channel was ‘scrambled’. As most of us know,’scrambled’ is reserved for only those whose subscription have expired and as such, have had their access disconnected. Well yesterday, even one with a 10-year subscription was in the same boat of non-visibility. Every football lover who had eagerly awaited the game was left stranded.I also feel sorry for Liverpool fans as the signals vanished 20 minutes into their team's exciting game with Newcastle.No explanations. No mercy.Helpless.I had to keep checking the internet for updates on the goings-on at the Emirates. All we got later was a silly, arrogant 10 second apology from the studio’s so-called soccer analyst. I can’t remember his name, but ‘airhead’ would suffice as an appropriate substitution.
What makes yesterday’s events more annoying was because this was the umpteenth time we had been subjected to similar rubbish from airhead's employers. From delayed transmission of live matches to poor, unwatchable signals for a significant portion of games, we’ve seen it all this season. Their company slogan should read ‘Mediocre Are Us’,instead of the laughable 'Correct TV' they stupidly claim.That's as blasphemous as calling Whoopi Goldberg the sexiest woman in Hollywood.My people, we don suffer for this country. Some apologists keep saying ‘give them time’, ‘it would get better’ etc but that’s just a load of hogwash. I’m tired of always having hope & faith in most Nigerian ventures only to be sent crashing back down to earth, every single time. I actually had a feeling all this would happen when I heard that this joke of a company had, through some Abuja connections, obtained the right to broadcast 80% of the premiership games this season.
Personally, Osama Bin Laden can have the broadcast rights for all I care.Just give me uninterrupted access to what I paid for.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The PR In Marriage

As i write this,i'm still a bit shocked.Since i took a few days leave this week,i had become a bit of a couch potato trying,mostly,to finish my recently acquired season 3 DVD of the medical drama,House.In between,i was involved in channel flipping on DSTV.My fiddling with the remote on wednesday evening took me to Mnet,where i noticed that the recently launched talkshow,Moments with Mo,was about to air.The topic of the day was 'Finding & Keeping Mr.Right'.One of the guests on that episode was a TV presenter called Catherine,wife of a certain presenter of a popular quiz show.Now,as some may know,quite a lot of girls are attracted to him,primarily due to his good looks & on-air charm.
Catherine was basically giving tips to viewers about relationships as well as the many reasons that make her husband such a wonderful partner to have.As she spoke that evening,it was clear that many women in the audience were a bit envious,especially as she kept going on & on about her man's special qualities which made her such a lucky spouse.When asked by Mo' what advice she would give ladies looking for their Mr.Right,she simply responded 'Smile'.According to her,that's important because you just never know if that soulmate is lurking.
So,to my aforementioned shock.I was browsing this morning when i came across recent stories of Catherine publicly proclaiming that her 'Knight in Shining Armour' was a physical abuser.So bad that he had even hit her in public places such as the airport.To steal a quote,she alleged that he 'batters her at the slightest provocation'.According to the reports,she's currently seeking refuge away from her matrimonial home while her husband's making frantic efforts to reconcile.
Expectedly,i'm curious.Was he a 'wife-beater' when Catherine was probably deceiving audience members that day on the show's recording?If so,that's quite sad and just goes to show the smokescreen involved in many marriages.
Or when she gave the 'smile always' tip,was she actually referring to Fela's similar message in 'Suffering & Smiling'?Hmmm.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

England,Let's Face It

I’ve seen this happen over and over again. To the extend that i now feel like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day'.Last night was the latest reoccurrence. Once more, the English national team disappointed the naive millions across the European country who had again placed their hopes & trust in them. The occasion was the final round of qualifying matches for next summer’s Euro 2008 football tournament. In a game where at least a draw would have sufficed for qualification, England failed to deliver. In front of 90,000 spectators (most of them supporting the homeside) at famed Wembley stadium, the founding home of the incredible game couldn’t deliver. After coming back from 2 goals down against the group leaders Croatia, they were dealt the final blow by substitute Petric’s 77th minute 25-yard strike. As expected, the English press was ruthless in their headlines this morning, raining insults on everyone that had anything to do with the squad. Predictably as well, the FA were swift to respond by sacking Steve McLaren, the ineffective Manager employed 18 months ago under controversial circumstances.
I spent the better part of this morning watching on Sky News (with glee,I must confess) the views of fans & reporters about last night’s nightmare. One gentleman’s perspective caught my attention. It was as if he was a mind reader who had snatched my exact thoughts from my head. Simply put, he hit the nail on the head: England isn’t good enough and the earlier the English people realize that, the better for their footballing growth & progress. These guys feel there are amongst the best in the world. Yes, they do. Pathetically so. England’s only ever major achievement was their 1966 world cup triumph, a tournament they hosted & won under dodgy circumstances in the final game that summer. And they do not want to ever forget it. Wake up, Guys.That was over 40 years ago. What else has the country won since then? Absolutely nothing.True, England is home to arguably the most exciting football league in the country, but as I keep reminding people, this is simply due to the enormous amount of gifted foreign players plying their trade there. Indeed, there are some English world-class players like Wayne Rooney & Steven Gerrard, but that’s evidently not enough to become a great team. What makes last night’s loss even more painful for their fans was that their team was playing against a Croatian side that had nothing to play for, since their qualification for next summer’s tournament was already previously guaranteed.
So now, the search is on for McClaren’s successor and certain names like ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s & Aston Villa’s Martin O’neill have begun making the rounds. Although Mourinho, aka The Special One, has always stated that the only national side he could ever manage is that of his home country Portugal, let’s not forget that money has been known to sway even the most rigid of men. According to media reports, the estimated financial impact on England’s absence from Euro 2008 is close to $4 billion. In other words, those English nationals who have business ties with the England team have another reason to be disgusted today.
Well, while we wait to see who’ll bravely accept to fill this existing vacancy, one thing’s for sure: He has a lot of work to do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

God's Own Country

It seems, these days, like there’s one natural disaster or the other happening somewhere with such alarming regularity. The latest of such tragedies occurred in far away Bangladesh. The cyclone has claimed thousands of lives, with much more rendered homeless. Only recently, Mexico & Chile had Mother Nature leave destruction in it’s wake as well, the latter courtesy of a massive earthquake. We all remember clearly the severe impact Hurricane Katrina had in America’s New Orleans & the Tsunami that ravaged Asia on Boxing Day a few years ago. We i.e. Nigerians should be so grateful that our country’s spared from such catastrophies.Seriously speaking, I feel that we don’t get to experience such devastation simply because we would, as a nation,all be probably extinct by now if such fate befell us just like other countries across the globe. Can you take a moment to imagine the consequences on lives and property if, for example, overpopulated Lagos experienced a hurricane or an earthquake? What emergency plans & resources would this nation muster to save people and homes if a calamity like that ever happened here? The mere thought of it gives me goosebumps the size of pebbles. In this country where it took almost 24 hours to locate a plane that crashed on dry land.
As far as tragedies here go, the one that probably comes to most minds was the Ikeja cantonment episode several years ago. I vividly recollect the sad story of hundreds of young women & children who met their untimely end while all running away en masse, due to the general panic that ensued in the nearby environs.Yes, even developed nations who are regular recipients of nature’s wrath experience significant fatalities, but their emergency teams save many more due to the personnel’s advanced training and availability of required tools to deal with the circumstances. Over here, most of the few fire trucks that function don’t even have water in them when they get to the scene. It’s so strange that it’s almost laughable, despite the seriousness of the matter. Also, when last do you think the emergency & rescue units here ever did a drill to ascertain their readiness for any eventualities? We know the answer to that question.
Indeed, America is regularly referred to as God’s own country but I’m sure we follow very closely behind.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

Yesterday's stripping of Adamawa Governor Murtala Nyarko's title by the state elections petition tribunal made it no.5.He became the fifth Governor to lose his position in the last six months.Others preceding him were the Governors of Kogi,Kebbi,Anambra & Rivers States(the last two being declared null & void by the highest court in the land).As expected,most well-intentioned nigerians have heaped praise on the judiciary for standing firm & ensuring that the rule of law was a vital prerequisite for a respectable democracy.I strongly agree.They are indeed the ones who've impressed me so far in this new dispensation i.e Yar' Adua's administration.
On the other hand,the man who should bury his head in shame is undoubtedly the INEC boss.As many observers know,the electoral body's helmsman has consistently beat his chest with pride for conducting 'successful' elections earlier this year.Even recently,after a damning report on the tragically flawed process by the EU,the Professor went on air to condemn the european body's objective findings,maintaining that his commission had done a commendable job despite the many challenges they faced.Wait a minute.If 5 governors have lost their honorable positions based on glaring unconstitutional irregularities ranging from illegal removal of candidates' names from ballots(despite winning their primaries) to wrongfully exempting certain individuals from contesting the april polls,then it's clear the electoral body & it's Chairman have many questions to answer.Even a 10 year old probably knows that the so-called elections held in April was a complete shamble,ranking among the worst in our political history.There were gross irregularities & countless cases of rigging experienced all across the nation.An ostrich with connections & cash would have won a seat in the House of Reps,if so desired.You know it.I know it.So why do these jesters constantly say things that indirectly seem to call us 'stupid'?To be honest,many nigerians were basically more concerned with the civilian-to-civilian transition happening,as against the elections being annulled.Yes,that may be understandable due to the shameful fact that our dear Nigeria had never had one democratic government successfully hand over to another.
Ladies & Gentleman,this West african country with 140 million souls has gone through so much deceit,ridicule,corruption & everything humiliating under the sun.But for how much longer?
There's only one logical event that needs to happen in the next few days & that's for the Professor to honorably step aside.
But knowing this country,i wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The 'Jungle' In Justice

I was on my regular morning drive to work. Same old drive I’ve made for about a year & a half. Along my usual route, as my car moved slowly through rush hour traffic,I noticed a large cluster of people walking on my right hand side. I then observed that this group of individuals was drawing interest from practically everyone else around. As my iris probed further, I quickly noticed that the main centre of attention was this dark, naked mid-20s looking chap. He had a thick silver chain tied around his neck, handled by another hard-faced dude. It instantly became obvious that the clothless guy had probably being caught stealing, allegedly at least.
As he was being dragged, some other guys in the contingent were kicking,slapping & flogging him as he moved along weakly. The chained guy was crying and had some blood stains on his face & parts of his upper body. At first, I thought to myself, ‘Good for him. Everyday for the thief, one day for the owner’. As this ‘centre of attraction’ was been paraded to everyone’s viewing pleasure, I noticed some policemen about 20 yards away. They too had their eyes locked on the group, visually following the increasing crowd’s march. They just stood watching, like everyone else, as the men passed. It was quite clear what was extremely likely to happen to this guy. They were probably going to decorate his naked frame with fuel, throw a tyre around his neck & then light a light, making an instant barbecue of the alleged criminal.
So,I then wondered ‘Has jungle Justice come to stay?’. Part of me said ‘This wicked man,who has probably caused enormous grief for many families, deserves what fate was about to bring him.Afterall, he chose his path & should bear the natural consequences’. But my more sympathetic, 'rule-of-law' side responded, like it was a mental debating session ‘Should people take matters into their own hands?What example is that setting?Isn’t there a constitutional, legal process that every criminal should go through?’ That politically correct perspective gave me some worry,though. In this country where N20,000 could possibly get a police station’s DPO to tear your case file to shreds, even if you are under arrest for murder, robbery and rape combined. I was really in a dilemma here, as to what should really happen to this so-called crook. I then recollected the situation Jodie Foster faced in her latest movie ‘The Brave One’ where she had to take laws into her own hands after her boyfriend’s brutal murder, since the law enforcement officers(aka New York's finest) seemed in no mood to handle the case effectively.
As I settled down in the office, I wondered if the guy had already been executed.
Well, maybe sadly to say, I didn’t feel too bad.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sleeping With An Eye Open

I’ve just finished hearing a really frightening story. A friend & colleague had her house in Lekki visited in the early hours of this morning. The 8 robbers spent over an hour trying to break into her home. They eventually made it in through the guest room window, subsequently entering her room(where her husband, mum & two kids were hiding)via the ceiling. After her & hubby received severe beating, the men of the underworld took every valuable they could possibly cart away.Money,clothes,phones,jewellery,wedding rings etc.The cruel men even at a point threatened to shoot her 4-month old baby if she & her husband didn’t produce pounds sterling, proving their intent by pointing a gun’s nozzle at the innocent infant.How traumatic that must have been.
I’m sure you are probably saying ‘But the thieves tried entering the house for a long while, so she had ample time to call the police.’Yes, she had time but despite calling for help at around 1a.m, the esteemed protectors of lives & property didn’t show up until some minutes to 4 a.m.I’m sick & tired of hearing of cops getting to crime scenes long after the criminals have fled.Gosh, we are in trouble. The closest I’ve ever come to an armed robbery was when a petty burglar entered my VI home through the living room window in the mid-90s and made away with a video cassette player.Thankfully, we didn’t notice anything till the next morning.
I can only imagine how scary it must have been for this family knowing that dangerous, armed criminals were trying frantically to come into their home in the dead of night. It must have been even more terrifying when they were actually face to face with the armed devils. The crooks even took the tiny bracelet on her baby daughter’s fragile arms, as well as the son’s clothes.
Like we all know, what’s most important after such an experience is that no one was hurt. If something had happened to anyone, the material losses would have been the last thing on everyone’s mind. For that we are extremely grateful.
Lord, please protect us it’s obvious no one else can.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Worrisome 'Moments with Mo'

I had been looking forward to the show for a couple of weeks. I'm refering to 'Moments with Mo', the new talkshow by Mo Abudu which debuted on Mnet yesterday at 6pm. With the prior knowledge I had about this well-connected founder of Vic Lawrence Associates(recruitment specialists & consultants), I enthusiastically awaited the show’s imminent arrival. Her strategy of using the show as a platform to empower Nigerians/Africans & showcase the continent in a positive light, was also something that got me excited. The debut episode had ex-footballer/Deal or No Deal Presenter, John Fashanu & JJ Okocha’s wife, Nkechi as guests.Now, there were both fabulous. John told really nice stories about the ups & downs of life as a successful footballer,marriage,as well as his childhood years in the UK.Nkechi, on the other hand, discussed the paparazzi, desperate girls constantly chasing her husband,as well as the interesting way she & Okocha had met. Engaging indeed.
The set was also visually appealing with the nice background,cozy sofas & classy rug. So I’m sure you are saying: what a wonderful, new Nigerian talkshow ‘Moments with Mo’ is.Hold it right there. Not exactly up there yet,a la Oprah Winfrey & Tyra Banks-type quality. The key components of a successful talkshow aren't too many: great topics, exciting guests, an articulate host who asks the right questions, a nice set & the AUDIENCE.Yes, I purposely spelt that in capital letters. Simply because they were the ones who failed to make the grade in yesterday’s debut show.Yes, people are people but the audience looked scary.Like i was in Oshodi market.With all due respect, if I was amongst the lot, I would have been constantly checking to see if my phone was still in my pocket. They were not exactly n-sync with everything else about the premiere i.e.the general good quality of the hostess, guests, set, editing etc.The audience clapped for almost everything that was said by Mo, John & Nkechi.If Mr. Fashanu had said he was a terrorist, these guys would have clapped.Seriously.Here's a little tip: Clapping is meant for when a guest says something really interesting or moving that excites the audience. Not for every single word that comes out of their lips.
Also,did the fact that the topic was about footballers mean that half the crowd had to wear jerseys of almost every club under the sun?Haba.Naija.Worse still, when it was time to take audience questions, the 'shelling' was legendary. Not to add that those who got the brief spotlight to ask questions seemed confused & as out-of-place as a Pastor in a Strip bar.
Let’s remember that this show, impressively,is being broadcast in dozens of countries across the continent during a virtually primetime slot.6pm in the west,7 pm in SA,Kenya etc.Sadly, I know the entire 1st season has already been pre-recorded so there might not be much that can be done in that regard, but there’s an opportunity to correct this problematic key area as season 2’s recording starts this month. I’m optimistic that feedback would get to Mo’ soon before her crew’s cameras start rolling again.
Fingers crossed…actually, hands pressed together (in prayer mode).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Best Things In Life Are Free

It's funny how little things can trigger or inspire something else.This article was significantly induced by words from a rapper.More specifically,from a video by Kanye West.I was watching 'Good Life',his current single featuring T-Pain,when i observed it.Yes,as a fan of the Chicago rapper/producer,i've heard this track many times over on my ipod & tv,but some of the lyrics actually just dawned on me today.A line from one of kanye's verses in the hit song goes:'Having money isn't everything.Not having it is'.Hmmm.True,we know such a line's to be expected from an arrogant artiste who's nicknamed 'Louis Vuitton Don'.However,this got me thinking,especially as it relates to love etc.We've all heard at various times that the the best things in life are free.There are those who say that 'air' is the only thing that comes without a fee.Many true romantics claim that true love can't be bought.I also remember Eddie Murphy's popular comedy ''Coming to America'',in which he hides his actual wealth from a girl he liked,just to see if she truly loved him for him.As it was a Hollywood picture,it had a sweet ending as she genuinely fell in love with Mr. Murphy's wonderful,poor self and later discovered that he was actually the prince of a rich african king.Now,back to reality.Does that really happen in most societies? A rich guy marrying a girl who's probably drawn to him mainly for his cash has its own share of risk.How about if his wealth unfortunately evaporates,years into the marriage?Any guarantees she'll be there for richer or 'poorer' like she affectionately promised to on the wedding day?Will Smith's situation in the fact-based 'Pursuit of Happyness' is a tragic case study.
As we know,there have been cases where woman have married 'poor' men.Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez's short-lived marriage to her ex-dancer Chris Judd easily comes to mind.Although in that scenario,it was convenient for her to walk down the aisle since she was already a millionaire at the time.Truthfully,one can't tell how partners would react if rosy times suddenly turned drought-like.It's true that with money,the courtship/toasting is obviously easier as wining,dining,gifts & co. are catalysts for a 'faster' attraction between toaster and toastee.So is not having money a path to doomsday,romantically speaking?Or should a broke chap cut his coat according to his size(pardon my cruel analogy),i.e lower his taste?Yes,more times that not,the wealthy get hitched to beautiful partners,but are the hottest necessarily the best?Remember the adage 'don't judge a book by it's cover'.Well,i guess the debate can go on for years.
I know some who read this piece would be saying ''see the rubbish this 'poor' man is uttering''.

Monday, November 5, 2007

RE:D-Day Is Nigh

Well,it's come and gone.However,i must confess that was one of the most tension-soaked 10 minutes i've ever had to endure in my many years of following the beautiful game.I'm refering to the time in between Ronaldo's goal & William Gallas' last gasp equaliser deep into injury time.Phew.Imagine if the frenchman hadn't scored,or worse still,if Darren Cann,the wonderful assistant referee hadn't noticed the ball was indeed way over the line.We would have had to endure months of taunting & abuse from man utd fans as well as a cynical,fairweather friend in the form of the british press.At least until April when the return fixture at Old Trafford is scheduled to take place.The mere thought of that is frightening enough.Even though it wasn't Arsenal at their ruthless & eye-catching best,we still preserved our unbeaten run this season.And more importantly,the north london side is still top of the league with a game in hand.Over a billion people watched the lunchtime clash on saturday and as i rightly predicted,it was full of drama.
How lucky those 60,000 people at the Emirates were.

Friday, November 2, 2007

D-Day Is Nigh

People, it’s almost here. A little over 24 hrs away. The day many premiership faithfuls have been waiting for with indescribable anticipation.Similar in excitement to a kid’s first visit to Disneyland. It’s been dubbed 'The Clash of the Titans',for the umpteenth time. The title decider, some others have naively & prematurely termed it. Well, in case you’ve been in a coma the last couple of weeks, it’s Arsenal vs. Manchester United at the Emirates.Kick-off:1.45pm. Arguably the top 2 teams in the country, both are about to go head-to-head. The gunners, with an amazing start to the season, are at the summit of the standings, albeit by the marginal differentiating stat of ‘goals scored’. Who can forget the last time these two sides met in late January? On that Sunday evening, it was the ex-arsenal legend Henry’s blistering last-minute header that settled it, a catalyst for rapturous celebrations across North London.
Despite United’s sloppy start to this season's campaign, they’ve since bounced back to the traditional title-contending standards most premiership followers are used to, scoring 4 goals in each of their last 4 matches.Two key characters in tomorrow's masterpiece:Belarusian Aleksandr Hleb & Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal’s mercurial midfielder,who's been in sparkling form this season, scoring his 10th goal in last weekend’s mouth-watering battle against Liverpool. On the other side,the Rooney-Tevez duo have many Manchester United supporters excited, especially as they seem to have struck up a productive partnership in recent weeks. Can the Gunners, with the league’s deadliest attack, break down their arch-rival’s defence, currently the meanest in the land? One thing’s for sure, it promises to be an explosive & fascinating affair. As they say, time would tell.
Final note to the non-football loving ladies with partners: expect to lose your man’s attention for 2 hrs tomorrow…and a lot longer afterwards, if your guy’s a United supporter(wink).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And Then There Were 3

Well,it's crunch time now.Time for millions of viewers across the continent to determine who would become the 2nd ever winner of the extremely popular reality tv show,BIg Brother Africa:a title that comes with a mouth-watering cash prize.What a huge difference 3 months can make.Who honestly would have thought,from the first couple of weeks,that the final 3 contestants would be richard,tatiana & our own ofunneka(whose selection many nigerians were initially disappointed in)?Not me anyway.I felt max & my birthday mate,Bertha would be almost certain finalists.
The show,as is usual with most reality-based concepts,gave viewers loads of entertainment,drama & an almost infinite doze of controversy,largely ensured by the 'interesting' relationship between Richard & Tatiana.I guess there are some lessons to be learnt from this year's show.For me,the key learning is:being humble & nice pays.Who can forget the weekly evictions of the unpleasant & inappropriately nicknamed,lerato-led 'untouchables',whom the viewers ensured left one after the other in a seemingly choreographed manner?To be honest,the road to these final 2 weeks hasn't been easy at all.
The housemates have endured numerous tasks,starvation,countless emotional moments and being confined in a bungalow with people they didn't necessarily like.All this crowned with no contact with the outside world,except the very few times they had guests.If you really think about it,that's no easy feat.The opportunity has now come for us to influence who walks away with the potentially life-changing $100,000 prize on Nov.11th.Well,i've started the process towards having a say in the outcome by sending my first batch of smses.Who did i vote for?
Here's an easy clue:my candidate & i share the same passport colour.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brains & Race

Every now and again, someone or something seems to stir up a bit of controversy. In this situation, it was sparked by a well-respected DNA pioneer & one-time Nobel Prize winner for Medicine, James Watson. The 79 yr old scientist had, in a recent interview with a British newspaper, insinuated that Africans are genetically not as smart as whites. Yes, exactly what he said.Expectedly, this ignited condemnation from all over the globe. As a result of those shocking remarks, Mr. Watson was suspended from a renowned U.S Laboratory where he served as chancellor. He also had to cancel his planned book tour, as well as a visit to London’s Science Museum where he was to deliver a sold-out lecture. Even though he’s since apologized for his obviously ‘un-wise’ remarks, there are still a lot of displeased people (particularly of African descent) out there. Well, here’s my brief take on his brave, but politically incorrect utterances. We all know that this continent is largely underdeveloped,economically & democratically, compared to our western counterparts and that’s a big chunk of the problem. We are victims of our environment. There’s a lot of poverty here which restricts proper educational advancement & consequently literacy levels.Let's not forget the impact of corruption as well.Funds meant for educational infrastructure etc are diverted into private pockets.Also, racism & bias worsens the situation as many educated Africans, say who schooled/live abroad, find it difficult to get good & fair growth/job opportunities,a key avenue for intellectual progression.
However, for Mr. Watson to claim that,because of one's dark skin color/ancestry,you are inherently dumber than the average white guy is grossly untrue & has no scientific evidence.
On a more worrisome note, if an intelligent Nobel Prize winner like James Watson could have made such remarks during a newspaper interview, who knows how many more share similar views like his?
Worrisome indeed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

O Timi,Where Art Thou?

4 months & 3 weeks. That’s how long it’s been since that electric Saturday evening at Planet One, Ikeja.The occasion was the final show of the captivating, inaugural season of Idols West Africa. As a lover of music & talent, I had watched the show religiously over the several months it ran, right from the rib-cracking auditions at the start. So, with some connections, as well as a strong desire to personally witness which of the 2 Nigerian finalists would be crowned the first ever Idols West Africa champ, I was present at the immensely entertaining finale. I must admit, I had been a big supporter of Owamunmi’s.Like many others, I was impressed by the remarkable way she stepped up her game in the season’s closing weeks. It was obvious she wanted it badly. I also felt that she had the total package: physically attractive, great stage presence & a powerful personality.Timi, the show’s frontrunner, had an amazing, husky voice which constantly reminded me of nigerian-born singer, Lemar.
After lovely performances by both competitors that day, it was time to announce who came out tops.Timi Dakolo, the 26 yr old from Bayelsa was declared winner, the catalyst for deafening screams & mad celebration from his overwhelming no. of supporters. The people’s favorite had emerged tops with 63% of the votes, a victory that was accompanied by a lucrative recording deal with major label, BMG. In true Idols fashion, he had to perform his own show-closing song, the catchy & evidently appropriate ‘’I Love You’’.The crowd, myself included, went wild singing along to the appealing chorus, like Karaoke enthusiasts. As I drove home after such a memorable event, I was looking forward to hearing the potential hit played over & over again on the radio, with a video to match on several local & continental channels.
Well folks, I’m still waiting. I kid you not, I have not heard Timi’s song anywhere since the next day (i.e. Sunday, May 27th 2007) when the show was broadcast to millions across Africa via DSTV. In other countries where Idols has become almost culture-like, the record company granting the winner a contract quickly releases the artiste’s competition-ending song to various radio stations & record stores as a 1st single, with the album to follow months later. This strategy is wisely used to capitalize on the show's popularity & with the Idols winner still in the minds & hearts of the viewing audience, the speedy release is vital. Examples of this approach abound: Ruben Studdard, Fantasia & Kelly Clarkson in the US version & Will Young with chart-topper ‘Evergreen’ in the UK.Well, call me cynical, but fact is fact. Why must our own style be different? Over 140 days & not even airplay,talkless of a musical video on MTV Base or even ‘Nigezie’.True,The Idols Top 10 have been going on various road shows nationwide, aided by the show’s headline sponsor, but like the popular question goes ‘’na that one we go chop?’’
If I was the young man, I would demand to know, from either my publicist/manager (if any) or the record company execs, why ‘my progress is being stunted (unintentionally or not)’.After all, like he said in the opening line of the ‘I Love You’ track, 'I have a Dream…’
Ok,Mr Dakolo,grab it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Scofield or Bauer?

If you are a huge fan of TV shows like i am,chances are you're an ardent follower of '24' and/or 'Prison Break',two addictive american series that have gotten tv viewers hooked in the last couple of years.These innovative shows,with powerful & crafty scripts, are focused primarily on 2 special characters:Heavily-tatooed Michael Scofield in the conspiracy-fueled 'Break' & Jack Bauer in terrorism-themed drama,'24'.Scofield is the calm,intelligent schemer who never panics & always comes up with a plan.Jack,on the other hand,is the patriotic govt. agent who packs energy like that of a Boeing 747's engines,has a cellphone with miraculous battery life & has even woken up from the dead before(well,sort of).So,if you were ever faced with a life-threatening situation,which of these 2 cape-less 'superheroes' would you wish was right beside you?Scofield or Bauer?Comments please,if any.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Top Ten

Today,I decided to do something different. I was watching an interview with a multinational company’s CEO on CNN the other day.During the chat,the reporter asked the gentleman who his most inspirational people were. Now,this simple (but deep) question got me thinking. Who’ll make my own list?Well,I’ve decided to share my top 10 names with you(in no particular order).As you’ll notice, they are individuals from different works of life, but they all constantly inspire me.
Nelson Mandela:
A man who was convicted for his anti-apartheid struggle and sent to prison for 27 yrs.After his release, he ruled his nation for one term (voluntarily) & forgave everyone who wronged him. Today, he’s adored & respected by many all over the planet. That says it all.

Oprah Winfrey:
The 53 yr old Mississippi-born multi-award winning host of the globally famous Oprah Winfrey Show.Oprah was born into a poverty-stricken family,raised by her grandmother & sexually abused by some of her family members.Today,she’s worth $2.5 billion making her the planet’s only black billionaire(in US dollars).

The Grammy-award winning Chicago native who,just 17 yrs ago,was screaming his lungs out with fellow group-mates after winning a $25,000 talent contest.Today,despite his recent controversial legal woes, the self-acclaimed ‘King of R&B’ is a respected multi-millionaire singer, songwriter, producer & multi-instrumentalist who’s been consistent in the music industry for the last 16 yrs.

America’s 35th president (& one of its most popular) who was shockingly assassinated just 2 yrs into his presidency in Texas, by unknown gunmen. Up till this very day, conspiracy theorists still ponder over who was responsible for his untimely demise.Mr Kennedy was 46 when he passed.

Princess Diana:
It’s been over 10 yrs since that unfortunate Sunday, yet she still makes today’s headlines. Diana was kind, humble, beautiful & loved by millions across the globe. Easily the most popular princess the world has ever had.

Will Smith:
The rapper-turned-actor from Philadelphia who,despite his $20 million per movie paycheck,has managed to stay grounded, away from controversy & well-shielded from the media’s intense scrutiny.Currently,the Oscar-nominated & grammy award-winning artist is Hollywood’s most bankable actor with 7 consecutive smash hit movies & last starred in ‘’The Pursuit of Happyness’’,one of cinema’s most tear-inducing films.

Roger Federer:
The 26 yr old Swiss tennis player/philanthropist (with a South African mother) has been the world’s no. 1 for over 3 & a half yrs,has won 12 Grand Slam Singles titles & is poised to become the greatest player ever to grace a tennis court.

Michael Jackson:
The controversial King of Pop whose masterpiece ‘Thriller’ became the 1st album in history to spawn 7 US Top 10 hit singles, and is the world’s biggest selling album ever with over 104 million records sold to date. Need I say more?

Denzel Washington:
An incredible, humble African-American actor from NY with 5 Oscars nominations (& 2 wins) who, in my own view, can never make a bad film. When asked, by a reporter in a recent interview, why he wears a $60 dollar Timex watch despite his millions in wealth, he simply responded ‘’It tells the time, doesn’t it?’’.

George Akamiokhor:

A hardworking gentleman from Etsako East L.G.A in Edo State who, despite rising from absolute poverty to helm a major FG parastatal for 17 yrs,stayed principled & refused to loot despite obvious temptation. Today,his many years of service & dedication has evidently paid off in the nigerian capital market(even though he never got to see it for himself). I think somewhere in the Bible says ‘’A good name is worth more than silver & gold’’.How true, dad.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Is Success Now A Crime?

The nigerian music scene has blown up over the last few years. Within the period,a countless array of artistes have sprung up with innovative, original songs that have been prominently featured on many radio & nightclub playlists, alongside american singers & rappers. For me, the special thing about this musical revolution is the fact that our musicians have become original with the lyrics, beats & general vibe in their tracks. One artiste at the forefront of this remarkable crusade is 2face Idibia, an ex-member of male group, Plantashun Boiz.Mr Idibia, with 2 critically acclaimed(& commercially successful) albums under his belt, has clearly become a favorite amongst many Nigerians for his impressive vocals & catchy, anthemic tracks. His tall frame & good looks have also drawn him to many female admirers across the nation (& the continent in general).This MTV Europe Award winner also has the admirable record of being the first artiste to have a music video (African Queen) played on MTV Base Africa. With 2face’s commercial success, his financial status predictably changed.So it was based on this that,2yrs ago in his Festac residence, men of the underworld decided to pay the hardworking musical icon a late night visit. This happened shortly after returning from Portugal where he had just received the newly introduced ‘Best African Act’ accolade due to the tremendous success of his debut solo album,'Face To Face’. The naïve crooks had probably assumed that 2face’s MTV award came with a hefty cash price which he had stored at home. Displeased with the unfruitfulness of their mission, the airheads decided to leave the young man with some physical injuries before they fled.
Fast forward time to Thursday Oct 4th, 2007.A lot has happened, career-wise, for this hugely talented crooner since that unfortunate night in Festac Town. He’s released another classic CD, Grass 2 Grace, which spun various hits like ‘For Instance’ & the nightclub special ‘See Me So’. He’s also firmly shown consistency with his vocal gift, become a household name & expectedly increased his bank balance. On this Thursday night, the one-time barber had just returned from the UK, where he had collected the MOBO Award for ‘Best African Act’. He was on his way home from the international airport when bad boys came calling once more. This time, they seemed more desperate and shot him in the thigh while he was trying to make a life-saving getaway. Apparently, word must have spread, possibly from an insider, that our musical ambassador was returning from London.Again, the robbers probably believed that he had thousands of British pounds in his possession.
The extremely lucky gentleman is currently recuperating at a renowned Victoria Island hospital where he’s being treated for his gunshot wounds.At this rate, it wouldn’t be surprising if he decides to relocate to a sane neighboring country like Ghana in the near future.As a massive fan of the guy’s musical ability, I wish him a speedy recovery & look forward to many more addictive CDs from this multi-award winner.

On the other hand, I have a gut feeling that Mr.Idibia’s insurance premium has just gone up.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Party Animals We Are

Nigerians love to party.Actually,most do. Give us a hot, infectious beat & our feet would do the rest. In a recent trip to SA, all I heard from people I met was how our people loved to rock. This was quite flattering coming from a society where clubbing is taken quite seriously as well. In Naija, a track could contain lyrics inciting terrorism but people won’t mind,as long as they could boogie down to the song’s catchy beats.
Back in my university days, weekend partying was something that came naturally for many students regardless of social affiliations. Whether one belonged to a club or cult (or just plain neutral like yours truly), people looked forward to the next rave or Bachelor’s Eve happening in town.
There was one such party in Apapa during the semester that many undergrads had flocked to, in presidential convoy-style. It was at a massive staff club that belonged to a major oil company. By 1 a.m, the groove was in full swing, largely aided by the steady flow of drinks that ensured everyone had involuntarily loosened up, as well as the slamming tracks being spun by the party's hired DJ.
One of the hottest songs at the time was Kirk Franklin’s 'Stomp', a catchy tune that happened to be the 1st gospel video ever played on popular music channel,MTV.Mr Franklin had, in various interviews, stated that he wanted 'Stomp' to be extremely funky so as to attract music-obsessed youths to the spiritual message within.
Now, the crowd at this hot Friday night bash had just gone wild over Biggie’s no.1 hit,’Mo Money,Mo Problems’ when the guy at the turntables decided to introduce ‘Stomp’.Expectedly,the rocking on the dance floor continued seamlessly.I,however, noticed a guy & girl rocking just beside me. As Kirk was belting out his passion-infused lyrics through the powerful speakers, this girl was gyrating around her partner. They started dancing erotically like salsa champions. For me, I got a little bit uncomfortable. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had just seen them ‘sinfully’ wind to the ‘Jesus your love is so, is so amazing’ portion of the hit track.
I systematically shifted away from the 'immoral' duo (with my own dance partner in tow), for fear of being caught by the lightning that was likely to strike them from above, for their physically blasphemous conduct. The couple’s stomping seemed endless and more erotic with each passing second, not helped by the fact that the DJ was spinning the extended mix of the song that featured Salt of female rap group, Salt n Pepa. True,the track was clearly made to be moved to.However,i doubt it was intended to get 2 intoxicated individuals so close together that they could be mistaken for siamese twins.
Luckily, the 2(& every other culprit on the floor,i guess)were spared imminent fatality as Puff Daddy's ‘Can't Nobody Hold Me Down’ was next to follow.
In subsequent years,more catchy gospel-laced jams,such as Mary Mary’s ‘Shackles(Praise You)’ & Winans Phase 2’s 'Send Me’ have featured in many DJs’ party playlists.Simply because they were sweet, funky tracks that partygoers & clubbers were destined to physically get down to, regardless of the spiritual theme.
Now,i may be wrong but something tells me that wasn’t exactly what Kirk Frankin & co. had in mind.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Genevieve,a VI Supermarket & I

You see,I'm not a big fan of nigerian home videos.Most times,i watch them simply to criticise & laugh at the dodgy acting.I must confess that i also enjoy watching those 2 popular,little actors who can almost literally crack your ribs with their consistently hilarious roles.However,whenever my channel flipping on DSTV took me to Africa Magic(the abode of nollywood movies),one thing was certain to make me stay to view for a while.Actually,one person.Genevieve Nnaji,one of nollywood's most popular & beautiful actresses.If Miss Nnaji was starring in the movie been screened at the time,i was sure to watch it for at least 10 mins.I guess,from this,it's obvious that i like her.Yes,i admit.I always have.From the first couple of movies i saw her in,i became drawn.Why?Well,she's cute,determined,hard-working,doing great as a single mum & so on.I even bought her disastrous debut CD,in which she comically tried her hands at singing.Now,it'll be of no surprise to you that i would have seized any opportunity to meet her.I had seen her from a distance at a fashion show my company sponsored 3 yrs ago,but that was the closest i got.
So,about a month ago,i was in VI on my way to join some friends for drinks when i decided to quickly stop at a well-known supermarket near the Mega Plaza mall,for some urgently needed toiletries.

I was scanning through the shelves when i turned round to see the one & only 'Queen of Nollywood' right behind me.Genevieve,in the flesh-up close and personal.Just 2 feet away,looking at some facial products.I froze.Miss Nnaji was right in front of me,but i did nothing.She even stole a glance as she moved over to my shelf in continuation of her shopping activity.As a typical naija citizen,i inexplicably acted as if i didnt know her.Like she was just any 'ok-looking' female in brown shorts & a yellow tank top.I stole glances intermittently,but that's where my bravery stopped.After she picked up what she wanted,my eyes escorted her to the till like Secret Service men on President Bush.I then noticed that the female cashier was star-struck.She kept smiling sheepishly at the petite home video star.By now,so too were half the people in the store who had clearly recognised her.Shoppers & workers alike.She smiled back at the visually excited cashier,paid for her stuff & left.

Can you imagine?Genevieve was 20 inches in front of me & i didn't say a single word(or even an alphabet for that matter).Nothing.Why didn't i at least say hello?Or just say 'Hi,I'm a big fan of your work'?Or ask how her daughter was doing?

I guess it's true what they say.There are more questions than answers.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Fuss Over Facebook

Looking for that buddy of yours from primary school who hasn't been seen in over 2 decades?Or wonder what the long-lost eye candy from your early teen days finally did with her life?You don't have to hire a private detective to help quell your curiousity.Chances are you could get those answers from Facebook,the enormously popular(& addictive)social networking site that comes complete with pictures of friends & foes.The madness over this site has caught on big time amongst young Nigerians & millions across the globe.It's quite surprising that it's only been in existence for a little over 3 yrs.
This great idea was conceived by 23-yr old Mark Zuckerberg(in picture),an ex-Harvard student who wanted to create a virtual place for his fellow students to network & communicate with ease.It eventually spread to other Ivy League schools in the States,after which institutions in other continents got involved.A year ago,the owners decided to make it available to everyone on the planet with a valid email adress,prompting protests from existing users who knew it's 'exclusivity' status was potentially over .With that decision,the craze took off.There are about 40 million registered users today and the online company makes over $100m annually through advertising.
On Facebook,users can join hundreds of networks,share photos with friends,post articles & videos,exchange views,virtual gifts & basically interact with each other constantly,irrespective of location.Currently,an average of 8.5 million pictures are uploaded onto the site daily & many can't pass through a single day without visiting the website.
Just last week,Microsoft was rumored to be offering $500m for a 5% stake in the business.I guess that sums it all up.
Facebook.As addictive as cocaine,but as sweet as Mother Theresa.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This Thing Called Lagos Traffic

The passage of people or vehicles along routes of transportation. In case you are wondering,that’s's definition of traffic. Well, for me, the meaning is somewhat different in lagos.Specifically, it’s more like 'the daily hell lagosians go through on the city's roads’.
What has gone so drastically wrong? In the last couple of weeks, traffic in the nation’s commercial capital has been monumental.
Only a naïve individual can today give an accurate Estimated Time of Arrival for his/her journey (from one destination to another)in our dear Eko.Every foreigner who's been here rightly accords it with the undisputed title of ''universal champ''in this regard.
Recently, a friend of mine likened lagos to New York in America. I largely agree, from the perspective of 'daily hustle & bustle, huge population & diversity of its residents'. However, the major distinction between the Big Apple & Lagos is this: there are alternative & effective means of transportation over there e.g. trains.
The reasons behind the current madness in the nation’s ex-capital are quite obvious & seemingly endless. Overpopulation in relation to habitable landmass,overwhelming inbound migration,bad roads,disregard of basic traffic rules, no efficient/alternative transportation options, the shockingly unwise BRT lanes, significant volume of businesses setting up in one particular area of the state as well as lack of govt. commitment to strictly comply with residential /commercial masterplans.Even the State Govt's agency,LASTMA,seems to have psychologically given up.

Gosh,I miss the 80s.I grew up living on the island during my dad’s public servant days. Every weekday then was like a Sunday, movement-wise. You could drive from Ahmadu Bello Way, V.I to say, Church of Assumption, Falomo in 5 mins.Fact.Not with an okada, guys.These days,one's fortunate to make it in less than an hr on a Monday or Tuesday.

To add insult to injury, the previously sweet Saturday has now joined its cousins (i.e. Monday-Friday) in this notoriety. A drive from Dolphin to VI on Saturdays can keep you on the road for 2 hrs.The only respite most lagosians enjoy at the moment are on Sundays. Not being intentionally cynical, I fear that this lone day of sanity would soon disappear with the way our dear city is going.
Most people(smartly)don’t leave their homes till Saturday evenings nowadays.However, what of those who have weddings, mechanic visits, important appointments,shopping etc during the day?
I must also mention that some areas are considerably worse than others.Lekki & infamous VI easily come to most minds.
I heard there’s a ferry that currently takes people (& their vehicles) from lekki to some other part of the city but that’s another safety risk that personally, I’m not ready to take. I’d rather be pissed off in a standstill than risk drowning.

Seriously,even developed countries experience traffic but at least there are efficient alternatives. Even when the situation gets really bad, you can see clear efforts by the authorities to urgently address them.

People, when would we ever get to the promised land?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Now Those Were 'Good Times'

I love tv.People close to me can easily attest to this.Actually,most of us do.There's something captivating about being visually entertained with diverse programming.TV must rank amongst mankind's greatest inventions(along with planes & the internet,of course).
Now,I was about to write a completely different article this evening when i decided to quickly see what was airing on Hitv.I had subscribed to this cable company,in addition to my existing relationship with dstv,because of Multichoice's loss of exclusive English premiership rights this season.
Although there were no scheduled football matches,i was curious to see what else was showing on the non-sport channels.While channel flipping,i came across an episode of the hit 70s show 'Good times'.Yes,'Good times'.The show about a struggling,but hilarious african-american family that many grew up watching.Remember JJ,the tall,lanky clown of the house?And then there was Esther,the matriach & moral pillar of the Evans family who passed away in 1998.James(John Amos) was the father who kept having difficulty making ends meet for the family.Things were so bad that they were always eating oatmeal,to JJ's constant displeasure.This show educated me on oatmeal's(aka Quaker Oats) association with poverty in america.

I watched this episode on Hitv like i was in a trance.I hadn't been this glued since watching Beyonce perform at last year's Thisday concert.It felt so good to see their 'hot' first daughter again,mock the dodgy old-school clothes & hear those hilarious jokes.And of course,absorb the moral message which the scriptwriters unfailingly embedded in each episode,which simply was:no matter a family's bad situation,always stay strong,have faith, be united & morally grounded.

By the time the closing credits were being posted on my screen(there was no scrolling technology then),my eyes had started to water.Why?It had reminded me of those days,back in the 80s.The good old days when life was so much fun,dad was still very much around & all i seemingly had to do then was eat,play,sleep & do homework.Nostalgia is such a pleasant experience.It's like having a sweet dream or mentally escaping to a special place for some time.
I also enjoyed the show's theme song:''Good times..temporary layoff..good times..easy credit rip-offs..''
Wow.Those were good times indeed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Dozen Indomie Packs For Dinner

Now this was an unusual evening.Simply because ordinarily,i would have sent my gateman to get it.Get what,you might ponder?Indomie Noodles,Nigeria's favorite & arguably cheapest meal.Enjoyed by both rich & poor.Easy & quick to prepare as well.
On that thursday night,i was in the mood for this national bestseller.Like i said,i would have sent Bashiru,the pleasant car-washing custodian of my compound's gate.
Instead,i decided to stroll.This was because,sadly,i hadn't done any exercise in a long while.Even my dust-coated cycler could attest to this fact.
So i said to myself: Use this opportunity to walk & stress your legs,albeit for a 60 metre distance.
I ended up in a provisions-stocked corner shop two streets away.Now,the reason i went this far was because i was trying to seem like a 'serious stroller'.This was less embarassing than exercising only to the mallam's kiosk about 10 steps from my house.So i decided to patronise a store farther away from home.

When i got to the indomie store,i noticed this little girl sitting all alone.She couldn't have been older than 5 yrs old.Seriously.From her look & stature,anyway.I looked around,my eyes searching for this kid's mum whom i was sure was somewhere around.No one else in sight.

''Uncle,what are you buying?'' abruptly halted the strain on my roving retinas.
My surprise,was replaced with an involuntary smile.This cute kid was kept in charge of this gigantic(well,in her eyes)store with hundreds of items.The pressure she felt must have been like that on a newly appointed CEO in a failing company nearing extinction.Wow.However,she looked very confident.

I suspended my thoughts to answer.'Chicken flavour?',this self-assured mini CEO continued.

Her questions showed no sign of easing up as she asked the following ''How many,uncle?'',''What of eggs?''

I was almost in laughter,watching this confident store manager.I then thought to myself.If this was,say the States, her mum would have been behind bars on charges of child labour,neglect etc & I for suspected paedophilia.

But in our dear nation,it's perfectly normal to the vast majority of citizens.It's probably regarded as ''infant empowerment''in many homes.We don't even give a 2nd glance to(or stare in surprise at)kids on our streets selling oranges,washing windscreens etc.I know the general view is that it's due to poverty,but it has simply become culture for most.

Well,back to the baby entrepreneur.I was so impressed with this kid's marketing & managerial skills that i decided to buy a dozen packs,instead of 2 as i originally planned.
Chicken flavour,of course.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

At Your Service

The world today,is a global village.Without a doubt,that's largely a good thing.Through technology,the internet,satellite tv etc we are constantly kept abreast of what transpires in other developed,advanced countries.Be it daily news,global culture,best practice or general goings-on, someone in abuja is today as well-informed as another in San Francisco.
As such,best practice & behaviorial patterns in 'modern' nations are usually mirrored by those in developing countries.
One such replication can be found in our service industry(particularly in the restaurant/bar business).This is understandable since the 'reputable' customer care experienced in western societies is something all sane service-oriented businesses constantly aspire for.This brings me to my observation a couple of weeks ago.

I was at one of my favourite Island joints,having drinks with some friends on a friday evening.
A girl with an obvious american accent was sitting with a gentleman at a table just beside ours.Apparently,they had ordered for a bottle of red wine.The waiter,on his return with the requested order,had opened the wine and poured a little into the lady's glass.To my surprise,he stood upright,evidently waiting for the lady to take a sip first,before pouring further.The reason i was astonished was because this only happens in western countries.The explanation behind this in foreign restaurants is simple:The restaurant/bar owners are so confident in their wines' quality that the waiters pour a little into the customer's glass so they(customer) can assess the wine first.If the guest isn't pleased,the wine is immediately returned 'unbilled'(notwithstanding it's opened state) & replaced with another,if the customer so desires.

My pleasant surprise was short-lived though, as a result of what occurred next.The lady,probably to test the seriousness of the joint's seemingly impressive gesture,took a sip & spontaneously told the waiter that she didn't like the wine & so couldn't accept the bottle.

My words can't accurately describe the perplexed,helpless look on the waiter's face.He was,in one word,confused.''But madam,i've already opened the bottle'' was finally blurted out through the guy's shaking lips.

At this point,i was tempted to rudely get involved in this comedic drama.However,the lady spared me the effrontery.''But why did you give me to taste first,if my view of the wine was of no consequence?''she responded.
I would have paid money to hear the gentlemen's reply,but as was realistically expected,he was speechless.It took the lady's male friend's plea to get her to accept the bottle,to the waiter's enormous relief.
A few times after that(even at the same joint)when i've been in the mood for wine,waiters who served me still did the exact same thing i.e. waiting for my approval of the wine first,before they pour further.

I just tell them ''please fill the glass,my friend.What's the point when i can't reject the bottle,even if it tasted like cough syrup?''
Fellow countrymen,if we must imitate,let's go the whole 9 yards.Not 50%.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And The Winner Is...

Sept 11th.A date that many around the world would never forget.The day America was humbled by terrorists.Although today marks the 6th anniversary of that terrible tuesday in New York & Washington,it would also be remembered for something less life-changing,but still significant to many.Well,to hip-hop lovers & music fans in general.

Hip-hop heavyweights 50 Cent & rapper/producer Kanye West both release their eagerly anticipated,third CDs today.And everyone wants to know who'll come out tops,sales-wise.
50 Cent has even gone on record to say that he'll retire from doing solo albums if Kanye's 'Graduation' CD outsells 'Curtis',his self-titled album.
Both gentlemen also make front cover of acclaimed mag,Rolling Stone 's current issue,posing like boxers a la Ali & Frazier back in the day.This has only helped to fuel the excitement & anticipation across the music industry.
Clearly,50 has sold more records than Kanye,largely assisted by huge club hits like 'In da Club' &'Candy Shop' while Kanye is a 6-time grammy winner who's critically acclaimed for his creativity & production skills.
Vocally,i feel 50 cent has an edge but Mr.West has gained valuable first-hand tips while producing countless hits for label mate & close friend,Jay Z.Also,his innovative style earns him priceless respect from critics as well as peers.
They both have a huge fan base & are viewed by many to have taken arrogance to new heights.To buttress this fact,Kanye's nickname is 'Louis Vuitton Don',while 50 can hardly record a track without the words 'money' or 'bank' in its content.

The weekly album sales figures are to be released by music chart mag,Billboard,next week wednesday.
Now that's a date the music world(including Kanye & 50,of course)can hardly wait for.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nigeria's Most Dangerous Road?

Yes, many may know this already but i'll mention it once more.Lekki Expressway is the most dangerous road in Nigeria.Personally,i've lost count of the number of armed robbery cases that occur on this infamous stretch of sand,gravel & tar.

There are 2 major contributing factors to it being a highly lucrative location for criminals.Lack of street lights & horrendous traffic.

Just yesterday,a colleague of mine witnessed(live,not hearsay)an attempted robbery of a man in a jeep between the 1st & 2nd roundabout around 7.30pm.In fact,this happened just 2 cars in front of hers.She was stuck in traffic while on her way to Ikoyi after visiting a friend in inner lekki,when she noticed a guy wearing a long trenchcoat,with a bowler hat to match.The strangely dressed individual walked up to the jeep,said a few words & in what seemed like a split second,shot at the jeep's driver-side window with the previously concealed weapon.Just as she attempted to reverse,another suspicious-looking dude started tapping at her window.She immediately swerved out of her lane,climbed the curvette in desperation & made a fortuitous getaway.As she hustled her way out of the chaos,she heard another shot & noticed blood splattered all over the jeep's side window,with the door flung open.

She told me this morning that her friends in lekki,who gave her temporary refuge after the heart-wrenching experience, heard today that the guy in the jeep had died from his gunshot wounds.Just like that.For driving on a sunday evening.

Personally,i've never witnessed an armed robbery attack & i pray to the Almighty that i never do.

Due to lekki's recent notoriety,i can count on one hand,the number of times i've been to the Palms(i used to patronise Newscafe & Shoprite) in the last 3 months.

It's still baffling that an area which has hundred of thousands of residents(including many affluent ones),as well as the nation's biggest mall,still doesn't have common streetlights on its major passageway.Also troubling is the fact that this massive residential area has only one entry & exit road.Yes,One.Obviously,constant daily traffic on both sides of the dual carriageway is bound to persist.

I agree that the road expansion project,currently in snail speed progress,would help but i feel lighting the entire span of the expressway can be undertaken & completed in a short span of time as a quick win.

Before i forget,i'll like to say congrats to Lekki Expressway for easily taking the 'most notorious road' title away from Osbourne road,Ikoyi.

On a more serious note,I worry for lekki residents(sis & brother-in-law inclusive),particularly those who due to their occupation etc,have no choice but to be stuck in traffic there both morning & night.Godspeed.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Richard,Remember Your Vows

This year's Big Brother Africa was different right from the very start.One obvious aspect was with the marital status of one of this edition's housemates.Richard,the 24-yr old Tanzanian representive,is married to a Canadian.Now,due to this unprecedented situation,i had expected the dreadlocked dude to be a strong contender for the 'most boring housemate' award.How wrong I was.
Richard has,to the surprise of many,started a very interesting physical & emotional relationship with the Angolan model,Tatiana.This has definitely stunned a lot of viewers due to the blatant display of affection by the duo,despite Richard's lifelong commitment with his north american partner.
Some of my friends doubt that he's actually married & believe it was just a made-up story,probably done to make him a more interesting candidate.

Everytime i watch Richard hugging,caressing & saying sweet words to Tatiana,i think of his dear wife.She must be in agony,irrespective of the $100,000 her hubby stands a chance of winning.Another Big Brother fan said she feels the only way Richard's wife could forgive him is if he comes home with the money.

Well,the little i know of caucasian women is that most of them can't stand infidelity,particularly when flaunted in their face(& those of millions,in this case).I've heard of women divorcing their hubby at the slightest boundary crossing.
I actually feel that Richard's thought about this carefully.He clearly fancies tatiana & knows he could tell his wife later that he did it as a strategy to entice viewers to keep him in the house till the very end.However,even if this was indeed his gameplan,it must be tough for any spouse to see her partner getting cosy with a 'hot' chick on international tv.

Richard,you better think long & hard about the special story you'll tell madam when you leave the house,or you might be hearing from a divorce lawyer soon.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Madness at Murtala Muhammed

I had heard it last week from a colleague who had seen off her sister going to the UK.She said the queues passengers went through at the international airport was horrific.My thought at the time was that this was a one-off,which was probably caused by a unique problem or lapse that particular day.

Well,after taking my mum to the airport last weekend,i now know this seems to be a standard,everyday situation.I could barely believe my eyes.After my mother had checked in,we proceeded to the entry point for travellers.There were 2 queues,each spreading in opposite directions like a bull's horns.It was unbelievably long.After staying on what seemed like the better queue for a few minutes,my mum had to go & meet the female immigration officer manning the fast track area(used only by airline crew & first class passengers).

My mum cleverly pleaded with the lady,telling her that she was not feeling well.This ploy worked,especially as my mum looked like the grandmum of 3 she is.

It wasn't smooth sailing from hereon though as the so-called 'fast track' section had a queue of its own,although this was much more tolerable.

Murtala Muhammed International airport was commissioned by OBJ in 1977(during his 1st stint as Nigeria's leader).At the time,there were only a handful of international airlines plying the lagos route.Now,we have close to 30 in operation.Also,the signicant economic & population growth of the nation's capital in the last 30 yrs can't be easily quantified.Based on these,it's strange that the FG has not seen the need to expand the Lagos airport in light of clearly evident changes & demand.
Nigerians are travelling in much larger numbers now,than in 1977 when the airport was opened.

So it was with glee (& a bit of cynicism) that i read the news some days ago,quoting the new aviation minister.Mrs Allison-Madueke made a commitment,while visiting the airport,stating that govt was going to urgently undertake a major expansion at Murtala Muhammed.

As usual,we are reacting to a problem instead of been proactive & forward-thinking.

Well,better late than never,right?

Remove That Sticker

If you are one of many lagosians who have the Nigerian Police Force stickers bravely stuck on your car's windscreen,i advise you take it off immediately(if you are not a cop,that is).The state's police commissioner,at a press conference yesterday,informed motorists that it's illegal for a non-policeman or vehicle to continue to display the sticker.

Since this is Naija,a lot of car owners had obtained this sticker in the past as a way of avoiding 'disturbance' at checkpoints,by our beloved men in black.Someone even said a couple of months ago that he got the sticker to help ward off potential criminals.His logic was that men of the underworld wouldn't want to steal a 'policeman's' vehicle.

Well,from the state police command's warning yesterday,i advise those with these stickers adorning their cars to quickly get them off,or be prepared to face the 'full wrath of the law'.That,i'm sure,won't be pretty.

Too Hot To Fly

A 23 yr old female passenger was at the centre of controversy recently on a Southwest airlines flight to Tulsa,Oklahoma.Apparently,another passenger had expressed his/her displeasure to the flight crew,about the 'sexy' clothes the lady had on.The 'badly dressed' lady was wearing a miniskirt,tank top & a trendy little sweater on top.As this happened prior to takeoff, a flight attendant walked up to the lady asking her to do the needful.This included pulling down her skirt,raising her top up & reading a manual on proper dressing.The young lady embarassingly complied,after which the airline started its scheduled flight.
Now the passenger wants a simple apology,especially as she felt her clothes weren't scandalous.
The airline says it asked her to conform due to complaints received after passengers had boarded.
Now,the age old question.What exactly is the actual definition of decent dressing?
Bizarre indeed.Well,only in America.

The Frenchman Stays

It's been the worst kept secret all through this week.Arsenal's most successful manager,Monsieur Arsene Wenger,is about to sign a new 3 yr contract(valued at $8 million dollars/annum) which would keep him at the north london club till the summer of 2011,at the very least.Wenger,who's been with the club for 11 years,has certainly been the major force behind the Gunners unique style of attacking football that's become the envy of most soccer enthusiasts.His shrewd nature in the acquisition of players at bargain fees was a skill that delighted most football club accountants,especially those at Arsenal FC.

Undoubtedly,his most influential purchase was that of the mercurial Thierry Henry,Arsenal's record goalscorer who departed for the spanish city of Barcelona this summer.

Wenger's future at the club had been in considerable doubt given the sudden departure of his close friend David Dein,the club's vice chairman,who resigned over a disagreement with board members on new investors.

It seems Wenger is staying for one major reason:He's invested a lot of time & energy in building an exciting,young team with a lot of ability & promise.Naturally,in his fatherlike nature,that is difficult to let go of,especially when all that effort is about to bring the anticipated results.

Thank you for staying,Arsene.Personally,I couldn't imagine life at the Emirates without you.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Apple Does It Again?

Are you one of the 100 million owners of the technological marvel we humans call the Ipod?Well,if you aren't,i'm sorry.Luckily,i am..and i've been hooked ever since i bought the mini 2 years ago.My current version is the 30GB video Ipod.To be able to have thousands of songs(& videos) in one portable device,at any time,is truly exciting.Also,the fact that your favorite tunes would never wear or lose quality like tracks on CDs,is also something to attract fellow music lovers.I,as well as my ex-boss,have many Ipod accessories in my posession.The speaker system & Itrip car device(which allows for in-car enjoyment) seem heaven-sent.

Due to my obvious love for this gadget,i waited with immense anticipation for news on the media event Apple CEO Steve Jobs had invited journalists to,in San Francisco yesterday.Apple were about to launch their new range of ipods.

The obvious flagship of the new range of ipods is the ipod touch,a touchscreen 3.5-inch screen music/video player with Wifi capability which gives users unprecendented access to Itunes on the device.

However,the ipod Touch comes only in 8GB & 16GB versions & looks similar to the recently launched summer smash,the Iphone.This seems to have infuriated a lot of ipod fanatics who feel that the capacity the Touch comes with isn't enough to contain their music library,let alone music videos & movies.However,like Nokia bosses strategically do,i'm sure they(Apple) purposely released this evidently-inadequate capacity now,with a plan to launch an 80 or 100GB version in the near future,which would be received with mouth-watering anticipation.

Well,for me,i look forward to seeing the Ipod touch.Who knows?It could be an early Xmas present to myself.