The year was 2015. The date was 31st of August. I had traveled to the United Kingdom to spend my vacation and had just one day left before I was due back in Nigeria. So when a friend offered to take me to see the annual Notting Hill carnival, I was excited as I figured it would most likely be the highlight of my holiday. I had heard about the carnival, and watched it a couple of times on TV, so I was quite enthusiastic about finally being able to experience it firsthand. We set out, and two trains later we were joined by four of his other friends, consisting of three guys and a lady.
I was watching the clip of the interview of a young lady who was responding to the unfortunate electrocution and subsequent death of 30 young men who had gone to see the Europa League Quarter Final match between Manchester United and Anderlecht at a viewing center in Calabar. A high tension electricity cable had fallen on the roof of the building, and sadly many of the football faithfuls lost their lost lives before they could be rushed to the hospital due to the lack of first aid treatment and equipment that could forestall or at least reduce such fatality. But that’s a topic for another day.
They say men are moved by what they see. These days however, I am tempted to believe that both men and women are moved by visuals. The word “Goals” is one that is bandied around a lot on social media. It is often used to express a person’s desire to achieve what someone else has or a longing to be like them in one way or the other; usually regarding some marital, career or any other real or perceived significant life accomplishment. However, as with most attributes that are peculiar to the virtual community, the word “goals” is mostly used when for instance, a couple put up their pre-wedding pictures, or a good looking family post photos of themselves. And so, beyond liking the post, some of their followers can’t help but express a longing to be like them. This desire is revealed in phrases such as “marriage goals,” “family goals,” “couple goals” and the likes.
A man decides to end his life by plunging into the lagoon on a glorious Sunday evening. He was a medical doctor. To the average observer, he appeared to be comfortable, or at least better off than most people. In different circumstances, but in clearly another act of suicide, a final year student of a University opts to take his own life by hanging himself in the hostel room he shared with two of his colleagues. They return after a night of reading to find him dangling from the ceiling. Both incidents have sent shock waves down the spine of many Nigerians. A country where the concept of committing suicide is still somewhat alien.
It starts with a promise. “To have and to hold, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us apart” Everyone in that space can’t help but shed a lone tear. He looks at her. She stares at him. They made it! Theirs will be different. They will show others what a real union should be like. They’ll school intending married couples on how to treat the significant other in a marriage. 2 years down the line the story is different. Daggers are drawn, the once inseparable lovebirds can’t stand the sight of each other anymore. One of them has reneged on all the vows made that fateful day. The situation degenerates to a point of no return. A divorce is filed by the party who just can’t take it anymore. Another once promising union bites the dust.
At one time or the other, a couple of people have asked what I thought about the idea of being a celebrity, and if I ever wanted to be one. My answer was the same each time. I don’t want to be a celebrity in the sense of being so physically recognizable that I would hardly be able to buy roasted plantain by the roadside if I wanted to. I want to be known solely for what I do, my craft, and nothing else. I don’t want every Sade, Nnamdi and Hassan all up in my personal business, or thinking they have a right to tell me how to live my life because of some silly celebrity status. I always tell them I want the radio kind of popularity. I want people to know my name, not necessarily my face. Being a celebrity is a burden I am not quite sure I can bear well. The fuss about singer and songwriter, Simi’s mode of dressing is one of the reasons I never crave to be popular.
The Nigerian story is one that never ceases to fascinate. We are different in so many ways. Our lifestyle, our outlook to life, our resilience, our sorry socio-economic state, our lying and thieving politicians. You name it! We are a different breed of people. Even among our neighbours, we stick out like a sore thumb. If it were for good reasons for the most part, it would have been great. It would have been something to boast about. Unfortunately, most of the attributes and situations that mark us out as different aren’t exactly things to be proud of. The sudden and unfortunate death of young gospel singer, Eric Arubayi reminds us of this once again.
Muyiwa Dixon is this week’s guest blogger on Lolo’s Thoughts. He is a petroleum engineering graduate of the University of Ibadan. He loves to read, play football, and write in his leisure time. Muyiwa is an advocate of a new and progressive Nigeria.
In Nigeria, it’s commonplace to balance or justify the ills and failures of a present administration with that of the previous. For every devastating error perpetrated by the All Progressive Congress, it’s admirers and supporters find solace in making reference to one or more similar errors which had also been committed by Peoples Democratic Party during its long and debilitating tenure.
It’s something that has been playing around in my mind for a while, but became more ensconced this past week. I was part of the judging panel in a writing competition, and last Thursday, there was an event to celebrate the winners. It was a privilege and honor to see young literary geniuses in the making. Teenagers from various secondary schools in Lagos who wrote brilliant fiction stories about the menace of terrorism in the world today. Beyond the giving of prizes, there were talks to encourage the students about the numerous advantages of reading and writing, and generally having a good head on one’s shoulders.
Bright lights! Gift boxes! Hampers filled with plenty of goodies! New clothes and shoes! The well decorated Christmas trees, and not forgetting the parties! The paraphernalia and pomp and pageantry that were unmissable indicators of the Christmas season once upon a time. Christmas is here once again, and I don’t know if I’m the only one who has observed it, but it really doesn’t feel like it. In the last couple of years the usual celebrations that accompany the yuletide season have seemed forced; a trite attempt at making things happen instead of the fluidity and ease of merrymaking which naturally comes with festive periods.