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).