Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nothing Funny About It....

I believe that a major reason why customers, of anything from a restaurant to a concert, are constantly treated shabbily in this country is because we (the customers) always accept it. If one treats a client like crap and gets away with it, chances are that there would always be a repetition. When I say ‘shabbily’, I’m referring to stuff like long delays for shows to start (aka African Time), rudeness and general disrespect for the customer in this country. One of the chief culprits of this type of behaviour are concert/show organizers. Although there are so many instances to serve as evidence to back up my assertion, I’ve decided to use an event that occurred a few weeks ago. The venue was the almost-overstretched Muson Centre, Onikan. The event: Comedian AY’s show. First of all, if a show was meant to start at 5pm, then why in the Lord’s name can’t it start at the pledged time? I so would like an answer. Maybe I’m very strange for expecting it to?It actually sickens me.
I gather that after the 'usual' situation of delaying guests outside the venue for a few hours, the show finally got underway (after a mad stampede as people struggled to get into the hall). It soon became clearly apparent to everyone that the show’s organizers had sold tickets almost twice the amount of seats at the renowned events venue. Why? Well, as that’s definitely a rhetorical question, I wouldn’t hold my breath for an answer. As the greedy/inept organizers realised that there was bound to be a major ‘seating’ headache which might not go down too well with guests (as N5k had been prepaid by the attendees), they decided to take a shockingly drastic, but low, step. As many guests(being typical Nigerians) had obeyed the unwritten ‘African Time’ rule and arrived late, this unlucky batch were told to wait for hours as there would now be,spontaneously,2 shows instead. Some of you may ask this good question: Were the scheduled performances by D’Banj,P-Square etc to happen twice for the two batches of guests?Answer:HELL NO.I guess the only way that was going to happen was if the show’s coordinators were ready to double the appearance fees to be paid the KokoMaster & other artistes. So what did the sharp events people do? They got P-Square to perform for the 1st batch of early-arrivers and saved D-Banj for the late-comers waiting for over 2 hours outside (2nd show). As for the ‘jokes’ department, they got about 3 up-coming acts to perform briefly for the latter show. A friend’s sister who had bought a VIP ticket had to share a seat with another friend as there was no space for her to seat during the first show. The passageways that were to enable guests/food & drinks sellers to move freely was fully taken over by newly arranged seats & previously stranded people.(The exact thing that happened at last Xmas’ Rhythm Unplugged in Lagos).As such, many guests couldn’t get something to drink and/or eat. Similar dilemma faced by those who wanted to make use of the restroom. One look at the difficulty of making it to and from the bathroom, and most realised it was smarter to hold their bowels. After all the terrible experiences endured by those who attended this ‘disaster of a show’, nobody prostested to the organizers. They seemed to just accept it,as if it was a free show they were privileged to attend. Why didn’t people in the 1st batch ask ‘Where’s D-Banj?'.Afterall, that was partly what the N5K was meant to cover, right? How about those who did ‘sufferhead’ waiting for the 2nd show to start at 9pm? Didn’t any of them demand for P-Square, as the Show’s adverts promised? Or feel belittled for being kept standing outside for so long? Oppression seems truly a thing of the mind, guys.
Given the evidently ‘passive’ behaviour of those who were cheated/maltreated that crazy Sunday, I’m quite confident we’ll see a repeat at next year’s edition. I won’t be there to experience it, though. That’s for sure.

Monday, March 17, 2008

All Suffering...

Let me guess.When you hear the word suffering,you immediately think of impoverished children in a wartorn zone,haggard-looking beggars on city streets or prisoners of war being constantly tortured by their captors.Right?Well,if that's your perspective on what the word means or refers to,you may be wrong.
Now,let me briefly explain what the catalyst for this was.I was at a get-together recently and as usual,the group at the occasion started to discuss the state of things in our dear naija.Armed robbers,electricity,corruption and so on.Then someone talked about the suffering being inflicted on the poverty-stricken masses.At this point,one guy responded that we are all suffering.Yes,all of us.Including those who live in expensive apartments,drive nice cars and have very good paying jobs.And i agree.
According to him,waking up for at 4.30am on weekdays because of one's fear of entering the usual,crazy traffic is suffering.Same with putting off one's generator at midnight(despite no available light from PHCN) and sleeping in that condition is suffering.You get the drift,guys.The commonly held view is that suffering is only synonymous with poverty.However,that's not true.So the simple way to figure out which of the two gentlemen at the party was correct is this:To see what the English Dictionary defines suffering as.The definition goes thus:''To undergo or sustain something painful,injurious or unpleasant''.As we know,being in traffic for 4 hours a day is unpleasant.Going to watch a football match at an uncomfortable,overcrowded joint because of problems with your overworked 'back-up' Generator is not pleasant.Being robbed of your valuables once or twice a month in traffic,while on one's way home,is unpleasant & painful(in some cases,injurious also).Based on this,it's clear we are all suffering.Whether we like to admit or not.It's not just those we see begging half-naked on our streets,people.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mayhem at 25,000 feet

Ladies & Gentlemen, please picture this scenario: You are an expatriate staff working for one of Nigeria’s biggest, multinational banks. Since your bank has a presence in West Africa, you are to visit your company’s operational office in Cameroun.You book a flight via one of Nigeria’s indigenous airlines whose name rhymes with ‘cell-due’. You board the plane for the 90-minute flight to Douala.Although this airline has had one tragic incident in the not-so-distant past, you are relaxed as you have many years of experience flying.Now,take-off goes smoothly and the airliner is almost at cruising altitude.Then,30 minutes into the flight the aircraft starts to shake aggressively. This continues for far too long to seem like ordinary turbulence. Then you hear the captain’s voice. The plane is experiencing some major problems along its route. Consequently, according to the pilot, they would have to attempt an emergency landing: On WATER!!! As the pilot is rounding up his distressing message to the passengers, the much-dreaded oxygen masks automatically disengage & drop down in front of everyone’s seat.Expectedly,pandemonium ensues.Screams,panic,crying,begging,the name ‘Jesus’ being called out by Christians and pagans alike, like it was going to be permanently banned from everyone’s lips the next day. As an experienced traveller of many, many years you are not as worried as everyone else seems to be. At least till what happens next. The flight attendants join in: Screaming, crying, running, begging & jumping up and down in panic like they had been electrocuted with a 1,000 volts of electricity. One female attendant is shouting out the Lord’s name, asking no one in particular ‘Why?’, “Why did I take this job?’’HEEELLLLPPP…Oh God’. At this point, you almost pee in your pants. Who can blame you? If the trained/experienced cabin crew have all visibly given up hope, who are you not to? Your end is tragically near, you think. You wait, in silent prayer, despite the almost deafening screams resonating around you. Seeming louder than that from a football stadium’s crowd after a last-minute winning goal in a World Cup Final.However,as it wasn’t yet the destined end-time for all on board, the pilots are able to avoid the imminent crash-landing by miraculously controlling the 737 and making an air-return back to Murtala Muhammed Airport. You’ve never being happier to land at the nation’s busiest airport in your life, albeit unplanned.
People, all you’ve just read was a true story. This happened about 5 weeks again. The experience was relayed by the expatriate himself. A day he’ll obviously never forget.
For me, I remember a Virgin Atlantic flight I took from Heathrow to Lagos about 6 years ago. Before we took off, the pilot had told us that it was expected to be a bumpy ride when cruising through european airspace, due to the bad pre-take off weather reports they had received in the flight deck. During the flight, we went through terrible and seemingly endless turbulence. Quite disturbing that the worried lady in front of me kept turning back to ask me what was going on with all the bumpiness. As if I was on the phone with the flight’s captain. As for me, what kept me composed during the 15-minute long turbulence was the visible composure the flight crew showed throughout.They kept serving food and drinks, with an accompanying warm smile, as if they was absolutely nothing for anyone to be worried about.That made me relax and feel that we were in no danger whatsoever (whether true or not).So if I was on this aforementioned flight to Douala and had seen the cabin crew doing all the theatrics, I might have done the ‘no. 2’ in seconds.Thankfully,all passengers were safe and sound.And,as you’ll expect, the expatriate changed his choice of airline for his 2nd attempt to Cameroun. Wouldn’t you have?