You can’t miss them if you live in a country as hugely populated and as diverse as Nigeria, more so if you live in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos. They remain a part and parcel of the metropolis. Even though beggars are not unique to these parts, the method and manner of soliciting for cash on the streets is certainly unique here. I first really began to pay attention to the growing aggression of beggars when I was observing the compulsory National Youth Service programme in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State years ago. One time, I was in a colleague’s car in traffic when this man walked up to us to beg for alms. Apparently feeling ignored, he began to rap on the side glass in an attempt to get our attention, and probably force us to part with some cash, if not out of mercy, then as a way of escaping the nuisance he was constituting. It didn’t work.
One of the thoughts that got me excited when I was about to conclude my University education was the fact that I was going to start earning a living soon. That I was going to be financially independent for the first time in my life. I also figured that as the last child in the family, I would have little or no responsibilities in line with having to share my income with anyone (even though I knew I of course was obligated to my family in some ways), after all as the baby of the house I was allowed to take, but hardly expected to give. Looking back now, I can’t help but laugh at my naivety, as I have since realized how completely deluded I was.
A full grown adult man decides to park his truck right in the middle of a busy express road, not minding the several other people who are also legitimate users of the federal road embarking on a trip through the same route, because…wait for it – he needs to say his prayers. This man could have veered off the highway, parked his truck properly to enable others continue on their journey without any unnecessary delay, but he chose to do otherwise. I think the most shocking and annoying part for me in all of these was how people around him, and even law enforcement officers found the whole episode amusing and opted to take pictures instead of calling this individual to order, and possibly getting him arrested for obstructing free flow of traffic.
The 2016 Rio Olympics have come and gone, but like any other sporting event or tournament it has left us with memories. The good, and the not-so-good. There were surprise marriage proposals beamed around the world, an athlete who had a bad case of diarrhoea while he ran his race, a medal winning swimmer who quickly went from hero to zero after he was found to have told a disgraceful lie, and another long distance runner who burst into limelight after making a gesture in protest of the treatment meted out to his ethnic group back home. Records were set. Records were broken. Individuals and teams defied the odds to excel beyond their limitations. For an event that kicked off amidst controversies and plenty of difficulties, the 2016 Summer Olympics sure wasn’t shy of happenings. Happenings, heroes and villains. But, villains are hardly worth dedicating time and space to, so I’ll be highlighting my top five heroes of the just concluded Summer Games in Rio.
“Wherever the crowd goes, run in the other direction”- Charles Bukowski
When an undeniably important voice makes controversial comments on any subject or issue, there’s bound to be plenty of conversation and argument for and against their opinion. And the case was no different when renowned writer and author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stated her dislike for the term “baby bump”- a colloquial term for a woman’s obvious pregnant state. She had made the comment in an interview with the UK’s channel 4 News sometime last week. In her words “I wanted my pregnancy to be something I shared with the people I love, with the people who know me. There is a kind of pregnancy as a trendy thing that I find very uncomfortable and I deeply dislike expressions like ‘baby bump.’ I find it very irritating…”
It’s best to keep things as simple as possible. But like many other things, it’s easier said than done. In a world that constantly conspires to subdue and overwhelm, staying calm is one of the difficult things to do. Life is short. The average person out there desires to achieve as much as they can in as little time as possible. There are personal desires…desires which the world oftentimes indirectly and sometimes pointedly oppose. The cacophony of voices that tend to drown out our own inner voice. A lone voice in the wilderness.
The third and fourth lines of the Nigerian National Anthem read “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” It’s supposed to be a profound declaration of assurance. An unequivocal guarantee that come what may, our country will be there for anyone who has made an unforgettable contribution to the Nigerian State, but has succumbed to the cold hands of death in one way or the other. It’s a statement of promise from a nation to her citizens. If anyone ever doubted the veracity of that promise, their skepticism must have evolved into full blown disbelief with the events surrounding the burial of former Super Eagles Skipper and Manager, Stephen Keshi last Friday.
“Our motto is: When they go low, we go high”– Michelle Obama
I had all but concluded the piece for this week when I stumbled on a short clip of Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech. I immediately rued missing out on watching her give the speech live as I was instantly intrigued by the little I saw on CNN. Of course I had to see the epoch-making speech as soon as possible, for I had heard and read that she stole the show at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia which had thousands of people, and millions watching all around the world. I saw the full video at a later time and took time out to read the transcribed version of it, and to say I wasn’t disappointed would be a huge understatement.
Two lawmakers butt heads and engage in a war of words on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. One is the controversial Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district, while the other is the lawmaker representing Lagos Central and wife of the equally controversial former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu. The feuding senators belong to the same party, but have been able to get their colleagues, fellow party members, other politicians and the general public divided on whom to queue behind.
It’s exhausting to be black at this time, perhaps more than ever before. In the past week two black Americans were shot and killed by the same set of people who were supposed to be protecting them. In the last couple of years hundreds of unarmed black people lost their lives to police brutality. A worrisome trend that necessitated the creation of the black lives matter movement. Racism is the hydra-headed monster that has plagued the black race since time immemorial, and while one hopes that this monster would be slain once and for all, recent events point to the contrary. Truth be told, the prognosis looks gloomy.