Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

time_trap_by_nairafee-d2o3a9r_thumb.jpg

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

I woke up this morning thinking of Nkem –that beautiful ebony girl with sleepy eyes and seductive smile. I woke up this morning thinking of her –the way she laughed, the softness of her voice when she said OK, and the awkward manner in which we ended our conversation last night. It is not just the silence that hovers annoyingly in our chat these days that worries me. It is not just the occasional “How are you” repeated over again to make up for the lack of something concrete to say. No, not that. It is this nagging feeling that our relationship has entered into that phase where conversations become clichéd –filled with the same hollow vowels and consonants and very little passion that are insufficient to justify two hundred, a hundred, fifty or ten naira credit spent in making the telephone conversation possible.

I woke up this morning arguing with myself whether I should call her or not. Perhaps, this is what idleness does to people, having been in this state for over a year, I must confess that I am a slow learner, because I’m still figuring it out.

The time was 9: 23 am and I was just waking up, though still rolling and turning on my bed wrapped in my bedspread. The sun rays were pouring into the room like columns of hungry ant in search of food. My shirt was soaked through with sweat –there have been no electricity for two days now. I staggered to my feet and reached for my blackberry. It was off. I had switched it off last night to conserve the battery. What can a poor man in Nigeria do? I forgot about Nkem, and my thought went to my Mom. I saw her in my mind sitting under the rain with an open umbrella in her hand, selling okpa on the street. “What would she have said about situations like this?” I thought to myself. “When the desirable becomes unavailable, the available becomes the desirable.” Yes, that was what Mother usually said whenever she found herself in an unpleasant situation that she could not change –like when my father took a second wife and stopped taking care of his kids, or when she fed me and my siblings only pap for breakfast, lunch and dinner due to lack of money to make a decent meal, or when she withdrew us from private school and put us in public school. Mother was a typical Nigerian –resigned to her fate, irredeemably optimistic, always religiously hopeful that I wouldn’t be surprised if she found a way to crack a joke if faced by a firing squad. I smiled dryly at this thought, and switched on my phone. I had 35 new emails, most of them facebook notifications. I skimmed through them, and finally went to the ones with job adverts.

An hour later, and with 3 job applications sent, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. My thought went back to Nkem, and every emotion, every fear and feeling gradually returned accompanied by the argument –should I just call her or should I not. It was now becoming a tug-of-war –a fight between my ego and that little gentle voice. I took some water and rinsed my mouth with it. Then I spitted out the water, and I looked long at the broken mirror on the bathroom wall. “When did it come to this –debating and looking for a reason to call her?” I asked the reflection on the mirror. “This is Nkem.” I thought to myself. I could still remember the time when we had something interesting to say, when our love burnt bright, and our chats were long and intimate, full of longing and love for each other. “What happened to us?” I thought out loudly to myself as I stood there at the mirror, looking at my reflection. My eyes were still pale from sleep, and two stretch marks ran through my face. My beard was bushy and needed shaving. I ran my hand on my hair and sighed. “I need to call her. I have to call her.” I said wearily to myself.

A knock on the door just then interrupted my thought. I came out of the bathroom, and opened the door. It was my landlord’s youngest son –a boy of nine. He was standing there at my door half asleep, completely unaware of the battle going on in my mind. He must have just woken up then. His hair was untidy and so was his clothe. He was also barefooted. He always has this disarming smile, and a hopelessly naïve outlook on life even for a 9 year old. I smiled when I opened the door.
“Arinze, how are you? How may I help you?” I said to him.
“Good morning Uncle Val.” He muttered with a forced smile hanging conspicuously on his face. “My daddy wants to know if we can borrow sugar from you.”

I scratched my head. My six day old St Louis sugar was almost finished from overuse. I bought it initially for my personal consumption, but it had since become a public property, serving me and a family of six. I just couldn’t refuse to share something as cheap as a packet of sugar, or salt, or my only belt, or the occasional two hundred to one thousand naira I borrow to them which are never paid back. I left the door, went into the kitchen and brought out the packet of sugar and handed it over to him. He smiled, thanked me and ran off to their side of the house.

I went back into the kitchen, washed the dishes from yesterday, warmed the leftover foods, and put the kettle with water in it on the stove. Tea and bread –that would be my breakfast. The water boiled and I poured some into a cup with Lipton in it. I searched for the sugar and remembered after few minutes of ransacking my cupboard that I had just given it out. So I ran over to my landlord’s place to retrieve whatever was left of it.

11: 07 am. I was sitting on my bed slowly sipping my tea, and going through my phone at the same time. I noticed a status on facebook that read: “How can something so sweet, suddenly becomes stale.” It was from Nkem. The time stamp said that it was posted about 11 hours ago, which was less than an hour after our last phone conversation. Guilt and anger both swept through me.
“I should have called immediately I woke up. I should call her.” I said loudly to myself. Still I made no effort to dial her number. Instead I sat there sipping my tea. “If the relationship was becoming stale, it was also her fault.” I thought, almost smiling to myself then like I just discovered a cure for Aids, “yes she should have called me this morning too instead of posting trash on facebook.”

I finished breakfast and tidied the room. Then I made use of the toilet, showered and dressed up. I checked the time after I put on my clothes, it was 12:52 pm. NEPA as Nigerians prefer to call electricity was still unavailable. I picked up a book to read but it was hot inside the room. I opened a window, the sun rays that flooded the room were so irritating to my skin that I quickly closed it and drew the curtain. The room — stuffy — sat in uncomfortable dullness. I decided to sit outside. I picked up my phone; the battery was already almost down. “I should at least text her and see how she was doing.” I thought to myself as I paced the room, searching for the right words, and the right way to put them in order not to sound too needy and less in charge. After about ten minutes of soul searching, or to put it more aptly vocabulary searching, I typed: “Hey babe, how is your day going? Hope all is well? Do have a nice day. Love you.”
I erased the last two words, then typed them back, then erased them again. I typed “missed you” in their place. I scratched my head and thought about it. “Love you. Miss you. Love you. Miss you.” I repeated the words to myself as if saying them over and over would deliver me from the sick feeling in my mind. I looked up at the ceiling. Besides the dilapidated and worn out plywood which leaked water during the rainy season, there was nothing there for me. “Just call her.” The little voice in my mind whispered gently to me, “Just call her.” I shook my head, switched off the phone without sending the message, and stepped out for a walk.

More than three hours later, I still haven’t called or sent the text. My phone had been switched off since then, so I didn’t know if anyone tried reaching me through it or not. I had initially intended to walk around my street and back, but on stepping out, I’d bumped into an old friend. We both had a lot of catching up to do, a little more strolling, and two bottles of beer to help water the garden of our friendship. I came home at around 4:22 pm. NEPA was still unavailable. I took a shower, changed my clothes and lay down on the bed. I switched on the phone, nine emails and one text message. The text message was from Nkem, and it read, “Hey Val, how are you? Hope all is well. We seriously need to talk about everything. Hear from you soon.”

Something jacked off in my brain. The stubbornness — those walls that I built — which had prevented me from calling her all day gave way and in its place; fear. “What exactly does she mean in the text message?” I thought to myself. I stood up and started pacing the room. My mind was racing and I was also biting my tongue. I dialled her number immediately. She didn’t pick up the first time. On the second try, she answered.
“Hey My love, how are you baby.” I said as gently and as lovingly as I could.
That was when my phone battery died.

THE END

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo, photo by Emmanuel Ezeh

by Chimezie Chika

I
Finding Q-dance Centre was what drove me onto the streets of Lagos
that morning. I felt something leap in me when I saw throngs of people
milling into the streets from the thousand avenues and nooks like
ants, saw yellow buses hop by, and their conductors howling in Yoruba
for people going to Mile 2, Mazamaza, Festac. Maruas trotting like
hungry dogs. Hawkers screaming. On the pavement, a bend-down-select
book vendor. I bought a book.
II
The bus left me at Tejusho market, at the corner of the modern
shopping complex. A kind tall mallam in a white skull cap directed me
to the rail line where I had to wait, with other people, for a snaky
rickety train pooh-ing in agony to pass by. The Okada I entered there
dropped me off at 194 Herbert Macaulay—a tall edifice with a blue
façade.

I was the first to arrive that day but, ironically, I would become the
prize-winning latecomer for the rest of the workshop. I was not really
looking at the young boys and girls who were cleaning up; I was
thinking about my not having had a bath that morning. Chidimma came.
She is a colleague at IMSU. We talked a little and then Basit came.
Basit—the smiling talker. He was silent that morning. The rest came.

III
I was struck by how young we all were. How our eagerness was moon in
our eyes. Eagerness is a character that has resonated with writers for
generations. We write it into our blood. Did I hear Dami?—everything I
say is subject to your personal acceptance; I mean, you mustn’t take
me seriously.
Dami: white-smiling all over the place, talking: medical doctor at
day; writer at night. Did I—or did I not—imagine him bending over
writhing patients—(psychosis, neurosis, Freud)—at day; sitting quietly
in a room and clanking away at his small laptop, the screen lighting a
limited vicinity in the dark. I think of Chekov, Ekwensi, Imasuen, and
all clinical people who find time for literature. There is something
about writing that erases professions.
My muse had long become this gathering of twin souls. I had not
thought of those ancient Greek scions of the imagination. My Aphrodite
is that amber-lit room; my Bacchus, that water bottle.

IV
Ukamaka, in all her resplendent beauty, was, to my surprise, down to
earth. Qudus was passionate about inspiration. Mazi was so engaging. I
did not think these people had any drab illusions about what they do.
They were proud of it. Loved it. We were quiet and they talked. We
were quiet and drank in their wisdom. Some people are not talking
here.

V
I wonder if I mentioned Socrates, the Kenyan brought-up who somewhat
acted like his Greek namesake. Socrates, adupe!

VI
Lagos is so big. The maze of roads is confusing; snaking over each
other; bigger roads eating up the smaller ones. Brigdes. Too many
bridges. Under Bridge. The conductors gabble their words; so you might
miss your way.
I found myself in Ebutte-Meta, the railway headquarters. I walked
through that gigantic railway establishment, the industries associated
with it—they were in forlorn shambles.
Everyone was already seated when I arrived at the Centre for
Contemporary Arts. Punctuation. Dami reads his story to illustrate.
Tricky story. I think of John Barth, William Gaddis, and Pynchon.
Ukamaka reduced every literary equation to the simplest understandable
unit. She was so eager. You could see it in the way she talked, the
way she tried to build upon every point made. Marlon James—Point of
View: technique. Exercises: wonderful. Tolu (always smiling) wrote: I
am sitting here, hungry. I doubt if I will remember everything Dami
said in the next 24 hours.
I walked home with Chidimma.

VII
There are some people you know only on Facebook. Uzoma was so quiet,
his chubby cheeks hardly moving. His eyes changed shades. Something
was going on in that head; you could tell.
Memories of the third day are muddled up. Maybe because I am writing
three days after the workshop, or perhaps, because I scooped some,
raw, and ate right there and went to toilet.
It was a Sunday and, on the way, I bought five books from a roadside
vendor. Winesburg, Ohio; VS Naipaul; Michael Cunningham; Junichiro
Tanizaki; others. The talk progressed seamlessly. Ukamaka, Mazi, the
charming Bola.
It did not end with any elaborate fanfare. But—but then we were all
happy. Something had happened to us: writing. For people to meet,
actually, in conducive Art-mosphere, to talk about writing is
uplifting. So we can now go home and sit at the desk and bleed? The
personal thing is that a picture—a horizon—has been enlarged.
I snapped a ‘wefie’ with Ukamaka, Dami autographed Clinical Blues for
me; I held a short discourse with Mazi. One thing about these people
is their lack of airs. They are so humble and helpful. I think of
Dami. Thank you. I thank all of them.

VIII
After everything, did we not sit down and talk? Did we not discuss
literature; our interests? Uzoma, Gbolahan, Basit and I. We shared
files, movies in the fore-room, talked about our work, of continuing
the Writivism ’15 spirit. Talked about Chimee, Olisa—Basit wants to
meet him. I said to Basit, You are so exuberant. Suddenly, we all
laughed. We started talking of how we saw each other at the Workshop.
Evening was descending, we would go. Downstairs, Uzoma and Gbolahan
climbed a bus to Ojota. I walked down Macaulay street with Basit. Then
he crossed the road. Goodbye, Chimezie. Goodbye, Basit. Buenos. We
shall meet again in the place where there is no darkness; someday,
somewhere, someplace, in this vast city of bridges.
Writivism2015.

Chimezie Chika

Chimezie Chika

charlie hedbo

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

“The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity.” — Cf. Qur’an 5:32

On 7th of January 2015, two masked gunmen armed with assault rifles and other weapons forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is [the] greatest”), fired many shots, and killed twelve people including a French National Police Officer and injured eleven others. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. Five more persons were to be killed later and another eleven were wounded in related shootings that followed in the Île-de-France region.
The same day information started trickling of a much bigger massacre in Baga, Nigeria, by the Islamic sect known as Boko Haram. The official number of the dead and missing is still yet controversial, with local sources and international media reporting that it was in the region of two thousand, while the Nigerian Military gave a more meagre (though still very high) number of around one hundred and fifty people.

Map of Nigeria

Map of Nigeria  

While outrage for the much bigger death toll in Baga was very minimal and in some quaters non-existent even in Nigeria where the incident took place, that for Charlie Hedbo was far more extensive and widely expressed.

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Victims of Charlie Hebdo Shooting, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

Procession and protest was held in Paris for the victims of Charlie Hedbo and for free speech, while in Nigeria, the victims of Baga were send gently into the good night without so much as a whimpher.
The publishers of Charlie Hedbo has since cashed-on on this publicity. The magazine now has about seven millions subscription for its latest issue, which has on its front page cover the cartoon image of a weeping Prophet Muhameed holding a banner which reads; I am Charlie.

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo

Vigil for the Victims of Charlie Hedbo, photo courtesy of Wikkipedia

This has generated serious outrage and condemnation from the muslim world which the massacre in Baga did not generate, which the massacre of innocent people in Nigeria and Cameroon by Boko Haram did not generate. Now this is both an abnormal and contrasting reactions to two incidents.

Boko Haram have been kidnapping and killing innocent Nigerians, many of whom are muslims. ISIS have been kidnapping and killing innocent people in Iraq and Syria, mostly muslims. Al-Qaeda has been kidnapping and killing people in Yemen, majority of who are muslims.
All these they do in the name of Islam.

There have been some condemnation against these actions from some prominent muslims leaders, scholars and imams. That is the truth, but what was not seen is a protest in Niger Republic condemning the actions of Bokoharam, or a solidarity vigil in Turkey in memory of the victims, or a procession in Pakistan demanding the elimination of Boko Haram or ISIS, or a huge banner in front of a mosque in Nigeria denouncing the sect and their violence.
In Nigeria these are what you mostly hear:
-A fight against Boko Haram is a fight against Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram should be given amnesty like the Niger-Delta militants.
-Boko Haram members are not from Northern Nigeria, in fact they are not even muslims.
-Boko Haram is the military wing of CAN, Christian Association of Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is working for President Goodluck Jonathan, they are Igbos trying to destroy Northern Nigeria.
-Boko Haram is a conspirasy by France, by Usa, by the west and their media to discredit Islam and divide Nigeria.

In all of these, Islam is never part of the Equation. Muslims are never the aggressor, it is someone else, it has to be someone else. Yet when a mediocre magazine in France published a cartoon of Muhameed, there was widespread condemnation from the Muslims. There was violent protest in Niger Republic, there was a vigil for the terrorists in Turkey, there was a procession in Pakistan, there are banners now in some Nigerian Mosques condemning France and the cartoon.

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Violent Protest in Niger Republic against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of ABC News

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

Protest against Charlie Hebdo, photo courtesy of CNN

As an independent observer, I am compeled to ask if the sanctity of human life, the sacredness and preciousness of this one and only life that we all have got, if it is worth less to some people than how others percieve their religion?
The Death of an innocent man is the death of humanity, does this no longer apply?
How can someone claim to love a God, whom he/she has not seen, who might not even exist, when he/she does not love (by love I mean appreciate the sanctity, the sacredness of) the life of his fellow human being that he can see?
How does one justify publicly and privately the murder of 11 cartoonist, the burning of churches, the pains of an opponent, the death and destruction of an enemy and yet bows his/her head in prayer to a God who is all merciful?
What happened to love for an enemies and prayers for those who persecuete us. What happened to turning the other cheek, to forgiveness, to tolerance, to patience, to moderation?
Is it that the actions of those two men at Charlie Hedbo is not murder –a mortal sin? Is it that the actions of Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other islam sects who go around killing innocent people all in the name of a God who is all Merciful and his holy Prophet, cannot be classified as blasphemy, as a terrible insult and as a major threat to Islam?

The world is becoming a more dangerous place. Good men are behaving more cowardly and evil men are becoming bolder and bolder, but in the words of Edmund Burke: all that evil needs to triumph is for people of good conscience to remain silent. So I ask; Is it so difficult for some of us to put aside our biases, our religious inclinations and to look solely on our humanity and choose that which is right between our creed and conscience?

Okoye Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You may reach him @mr_charlze

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this write up is solely those of the writer, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Liberty of Creativity

by Tim Nwaobilo

I woke up, for the 2nd time that day, one cold Saturday afternoon feeling lazy. It’s those kind of Saturdays that you don’t feel like doing anything. Well, maybe not like doing anything exactly, but you don’t feel like doing anything that will stress you or make you leave your bed. Actually, I had hardly left my bed all morning. The cold was a bit numbing here. The cold always started from 7:00 pm on an average day and lasted till around 12:00pm the next day. That’s the Nigerian harmattan season. My uncle who I chatted with by 9:00 am that morning while still lying on my bed informed me that it was just 23^C there in “The State of Osun”, that was the way the APC governor of “State of Osun” instructed everyone to called it; State of Osun, and not “Osun state”. Just like he preferred his name being prefixed with “Ogbeni” instead of just “Gomino Rauf Aregbesola”. Ogbeni means “Mr” in yoruba language. One could be jailed for failing to properly address His Excellency.

Why this was the first thought to cross my mind immediately after waking up, I still wonder. Ok…honestly it must have been the 2nd or 3rd thing that crossed my mind post-sleep, after the Football Manager 14 game I was playing on my smart phone before I dozed off; and definitely after the fact that I had possessed intentions to go and pray to my God somewhere quiet earlier in the day. Maybe it was because everywhere I looked all I saw was Jonathan and Buhari posters and billboards, telling me why I should vote for Jonathan or why I should vote for Buhari, Or that everywhere I listened, all that people were discussing was how evil Buhari used to be, or how Jonathan could have been a “nicer” president, or how Buhari was the better of the two evils or how Jonathan …and so on and so forth (you see what I mean already?) I woke up thinking WHERE IS THE GEJA I USED TO HEAR ABOUT?

You must be wondering what GEJA means and what it has to do with anything. In 2011, during the Presidential campaigns in Nigeria, some people came up with the acronym GEJA—Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Azikiwe. Adding Azikiwe to Goodluck Jonathan’s name was to sort of idolise him, and to portray him with this saviour-like personae that was normally attributed to the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president. I do not know if they realized that reconstructing GEJA could also give JEGA. Professor Attahiru Jega was the chairman of the INEC, the electoral body. If GEJA=JEGA, I think the deeper interpretation is best left to your imagination.

So, where is the GEJA I used to hear about? After years of military rule, 8 years of a controversially democratic Obasanjo aka OBJ rule, and 4 years of an OBJ proxy-rule, Nigerians sought for some deliverance, someone who would wipe away their tears. They wanted change. They craved for a leader who would feel their shoe-pinch and live on their heart-beat. It’s no wonder then that the “shoeless” Jonathan fitted this mental picture and Nigerians were all too willing to fit him into the physical frame. The people I used to hear then promoting this, kept preaching at every available opportunity how poor he had been in his early life and how much of a commoner like us he was. If he didn’t have shoes in his childhood days, we surely could give him a chance to rule us, right? I don’t think many people asked how many pairs of shoes he now had.

Jonathan was from a much maligned tribe, so he might have been the voice to raise up a people that had potentials for greatness, but had remained buried. It’s apparent that in the past 4 years (make that 5), Jonathan has been the president of not-the-Ijaws but of Nigeria. After all, wasn’t that what he was elected to be? Southern Nigerians who were feeding on the fantasies of a president who would turn the South-South into a heaven must be chewing their fingers (or whatever is left of it) in regret and disappointment.

Where is the GEJA I used to hear about? Yes, the GEJA I used to “hear” about. I repeat for emphasis: HEAR about. What sweet tales did we not hear! Nigeria would become America if you waited for a meagre 4 years, we can wait right? After all, we have Patience as our first name…scratch that…first lady. We were told that Power supply would be so stable that it would be visible and tangible. GEJA, where are you? They said corruption was devilish and since we were electing an angel, corruption would naturally (I reckon supernaturally is more appropriate) die off. If you are a Nigerian or based in Nigeria, I suppose you know where we are on that. It is now obvious we were fed fat French-baked pies in the skies…hmmm, yummy! The name Boko Haram is now synonymous with Jonathan’s incompetency and lack of quality leadership. That is one of the most shameful blemishes of the Jonathan presidency.

I am not disappointed. No, I am not. I am not disappointed in GEJA. This is because I didn’t expect anything better from him, other than what OBJ or the OBJ-proxy had previously offered. I, for one, was of the notion that Jonathan was simply an appendage of the OBJ dynasty, and therefore of the conclusion that he wouldn’t offer more than OBJ had stuffed down our polluted throats for some years, except he was offering more in the negative order, which he actually seems to have contrived to achieve, arguably. If puppets were held on strings, Jonathan was probably held on bridge draw-strings, the kind used on the River Thames. It’s interesting to note however that he seems to have outgrown his master’s ropes and has imbibed a similar trait from him—stubbornness. I ensured I didn’t raise my expectations of his government so that in the case he couldn’t fully rise to the challenge, I wouldn’t be chewing my nails, like most of my compatriots are doing now.

I was on the election queue that day in April, 2011 when some people awaiting their turn to vote produced a newspaper. The paper was a complete derision of Jonathan’s main opponent. It had many people confused that day. I could see and hear from conversations that many people who hadn’t given Jonathan a thought previously were now doing so. If his main opponent was such a devil as seen in that particular paper, then Jonathan might as well be the lesser of two devils. In fact, some well enlightened members of my family who were with me that day advised me not to waste my vote by not voting for Jonathan. I was not moved, as I am up till now. Jonathan ended up winning that election and Nigerians have been reaping the dividends, haven’t we? However good or badly his government has performed is a matter for critical discourse and dissection, but the fact that Nigerians are now seeking for another change, the kind of change which they thought the Jonathan era was to introduce in 2011, says a whole lot about the present administration. If indeed Nigerians have found their saviour, would there be all the on-going tremor and anxiety? Wouldn’t the majority of Nigerians be clamouring for a continuity? Would they be willing to consider another “change” so soon? I doubt that.

GEJA no longer inspires the downtrodden like he used to do. GEJA no longer means god. GEJA is after all a human, not an angel. The GEJA camp no longer adds the ‘A’ to his acronym lest they be lynched in the burnt and deserted streets of Chibok! Where is the GEJA I used to hear about?

I calmly closed my laptop which I had been working with while lying on the bed, got up and prepared to step out to watch an English Premier League match with my guys. I think Chelsea was playing. I would rather give my support to and raise my expectations of Chelsea (like winning the UEFA Champions League this season) than expect anything good to come out of Nazareth-Otuoke. At least Chelsea is on top of the League.

Tim Nwaobilo is a Mechanical Engineer, writer, poet and programmer. He writes from Port Harcourt.

Liberty of Creativity

nigerian-map.jpg

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

This useless man everywhere, this useless man again –that must had been her thought as she ripped another poster off the wall, -that or something more sinister, something more derogatory. Who could read the thoughts in her mind, or exorcise the demon that assailed her that morning. I found her action to be somewhat intriguing, somewhat amusing though I did not know what her story was, or the reason why she was standing by the side of the main road, ripping off only the campaign posters of Mr President from the wall.

Perhaps it was the heat. The temperature that morning was over thirty-five degrees centigrade, and was enough to drive anyone off the edge. Perhaps it wasn’t something physical or something that could be easily quantified. It should take more than an increase in temperature for a person to engage in such act of public spectacle -I thought to myself as I sat on a wooden chair of a decrepit bus at Ikeja bus-stop, staring at her. She neither stopped to acknowledge the increasing crowd of onlookers that had gathered around her, watching her work, nor did she pause to wipe off the rivers of sweat that ran across her face and met at her jaw. The posters was all she cared about and she was determined to rip them all off.

Indeed it must be something serious, something much deeper, something indelible like a crack on a mirror or the breaking of a camel’s back that had endured fifty-four rigorous years of marsh and misrule.

Perhaps she was a mother of one of the Chibok girls. Perhaps she had lost someone dear to her in Baga, or in Mubi, or in Gwoza, or to the rising wave of insecurity that had engulfed the nation in recent times. She looked exasperated like someone tormented by an unseen demon. They say: a hungry man is an angry man –perhaps it was just plain hunger, or poverty or the burden of two months unpaid salaries which had been attributed to fall in global oil prices.

The face of Mr President on those posters was wearing a smile that was somehow queer, somehow mischievous, like he was smiling only at her, taunting her, daring her to rage, daring her to rip him off, to vote him out if she can. It must have been so frustrating for her.

A part of me felt sorry for her as she stood there all alone in the sun like a lone soldier staring straight at the nozzles of a thousand enemy rifles. I felt like calling out to her from where I was sitting in the bus. I felt like walking up to her, to ask if all was well, to tell her that it was going to get better, but I didn’t, I couldn’t. The look in her eyes was enough to stop anyone from coming close to her. It was filled with pain and bitterness. It was clear to me that she was ready to fight anyone who tried to stop her. In fact she would have killed Mr President if he was there in person, but since he wasn’t there, she was contented to destroy all his posters, as if doing so would hurt him physically in some unexplainable way.

Nigeria is really a crazy place and it does get to people sometimes, and make them do crazy things. I have seen a well dressed man in suit and tie; fight a bus conductor over ten naira change. I have seen federal legislators jump gate on national television amidst fanfare and solidarity songs. I have seen policemen change their uniforms into civilian clothes in the face of armed robbery attack. Ours is a crazy country, and the people living in it are crazier. It can only take a full-fledged Nigerian to appreciate the force acting on that woman -a wife, a mother, at that very moment.

Sometimes I wish that solutions to Nigerian problems can be as easy as ripping a poster off the wall, so that I can go about tearing down the posters of corruption, tribalism, nepotism and religious intolerance from our land. Alas! This is far from the case. In fact, in our society, the act of ripping campaign posters from walls can constitute both liberal and criminal offences.

I do not condone her action. I think it was crude and barbaric, and to be carried out in such a public manner without fear or shame, set a negative precinct that might have disastrous consequences for us all. Ours is a young democracy, which has witnessed many rapids and cataracts in its 16 years of existence. We do not need this kind of occurrence especially at this time when the nation is tinkering on a knife edge. It is worrying to read on paper about the shooting of APC supporters during a rally in Port-Harcourt, or the burning of PDP campaign buses in Jos. What is more worrying is the huge number of educated Nigerians on both sides of the divide, who cheer at this kind of news, urging the perpetrators to carry on.
Indeed I do not support her action at all, even though I can relate with whatever it was that she was passing through.

Still she continued her work, ripping the posters with one hand and squeezing it with the other hand. The crowds continued to swell. There were nods of approval from some sections, and in other sections there were angry murmurs of discontent. Someone raised a voice to applaud her, another shouted angrily at her to stop. There was a suggestion that she should be forcefully stopped, someone even said that she deserved a beating. The atmosphere was already charged with accusations and counter-accusations, suspense and suspicion. Just then the driver of the bus I was in, started the engine and drove the bus away taking me with him.

Several days have passed since that day but I can’t get the incident off my mind. Right now as I sit at my writing desk, staring at the map of Nigeria on the wall, I still hear clearly the shouting of that day. I still feel the heat, see clearly the woman rip the posters off the wall, and somewhere in my mind, hope for this country is gradually being ripped off as well.

Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on Twitter via @Mr_Charlze

Liberty of Creativity

By Chris TILEWA

We go great lengths for satisfaction and realisation, and after the basic needs of food, emotion and, perhaps, sex is met we seek luxury, beauty. But when real life is not making this happen, it becomes our aspiration and life goal. We create new realities, in our hearts, in our arts. Between our reality and our dreams are a yawning space and a great, optimistic ocular faculty that curiously observes the reconciliation of our artful dreams and our exacting realities. In spite of our outrageous realities we are all patrons of beauty.

Aesthetics is a universal objective; though what we see as beautiful and artistic is determined by culture and perception, and hence we say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, still, art cuts through the barriers of culture and times. Whatever our culture and civilisation we want to hear a song; write, listen or read a piece of poetry out loud to a friend; see beautiful paintings; watch breathtaking movies and take photographs of happy little moments. We are at awe of nature’s order and the things around us- the hills, valleys, plantations and space, – that may seem chaotic still have about them the awesomeness of impressive creation.

There is a piece of art in everything, in everyone. And the ultimate end of art is not merely in the beauty it expresses; the scenic portrayal of striking reality and phenomenal concepts, but also in the feelings it arouses. For that is what we remember of it all, of people in our lives, of moments, of memories that shape our lives: did they make us weep, frightened, irritated, angry, and secured, or did they enchant us. Every experience, like the ornate and subtle features and element of art, does their part in us to ensure those enduring gestures.

And that is how we approach everything else in life. We naturally give the first hearing to our feelings. It is most real to us. What we feel, we feel and there is no talking us out of it. Except of, course, if there is an alternate feeling purveyed. We seek things that make us comfortable, happy and loved. Our desires and dreams are made real to us by the prospect of what they make us feel about the world and ourselves, and in the pursuit of these things we are advised to ‘follow our heart’. Because no matter how we try to evaluate things by reasoning, by data and facts, (which nevertheless are of immense importance in maintaining a balance perspective) our sincerest judgements lie in the ultimate question of art; what we felt about it rather than how nice it appeared.

We are all in a way artists; always in the business of making ourselves look good and come out better, there is a picture of our perfect self upheld in our hearts- we are our own most venerated masterpiece imaginable. Like in clean canvass we wish we can make ourselves whatever we desire, make amends for our imperfections by the flick of a brush, erasing and dabbing again till we reach what exactly pleases us. We have the idea how we want our stories told; whether for the record, expressive, didactic or aesthetic end. But our canvasses are not so clean after all, and things, some things, had gone out of our control. The world had messed with it for quite a while before we took charge- this canvass, our minds- and had set the backgrounds it will advance in. And when we should take charge of it, we have in our hands tasks, either to correct and re-pattern, or make final touches and finishing strokes. But every inclination towards change in our lives, towards creation, begins with a ‘wash of black’, an inertia void, because all things in nature, according to Leonardo da Vinci, are dark except where they are revealed by light.

Chris Tilewa

Chris Tilewa

Chris TILEWA is a young Nigerian who writes. He has written a number of short stories, essays and poems. While he writes prose; fictions and non fictions, he also nurses a mild love for poetry. He holds an anaemic faith that he will soon contract the demon required to write a book.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

President Goodluck Jonathan (left), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari rtd (right)

President Goodluck Jonathan (left), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari rtd (right)

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

Now that the issue of who the major contenders for the 2015 Presidential election has finally been resolved, the i-s are gradually being dotted and the t-s being crossed, the debate rages of who is better and who is worse, and the mostly unhealthy rivalry goes on, the momentum keeps building up, and insults continue to be hurl on both candidates by opposite fans, the stage is finally set for what might actually be the last nail on the coffin of an ever-disintegrating Nation.

Nothing has sharply polarised this Nation since the dark days of the counter-coup of 1966 as a Buhari-Jonathan rivalry. A fight between the core muslim North, together with a large section of South-Western Nigeria on one side, and the Christian South-East and their South-South partner on the other side. Judging from online media news; the rhetorics and militant speeches spoken by supporters of both men, one is left with this unnerving premonition of an impending bloodbath, no matter who emerges winner come February. It is quite an unpleasant sight to watch the continuous unravelling of the already worn-out stitches that hold this nation together, the steady tearing of one thread after another, all for the sake of two men whose known portfolios show clearly that both are neither qualified to run nor fit to lead a nation as complex as ours.

On 31st of December, 1983, Buhari and his fellow coupists overthrew a democratically elected government. With a bold and militant speech, filled with contempt for democratic and civilian rule, he ended the second republic and ushered Nigeria once more into the dark days of military rule which was to last for 15 years. This act was initially met with joy and celebration among the citizenry. Little did he know back then that the same citizens would rejoice 20 months later on his overthrew, or that 31 years on he would be contesting as a civilian in a democratic setting for a record four times in a row.

Image of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State, & Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria

Image of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State, & Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria

Time is a funny thing, and Nigerians with their chronic amnesia are even more funny. Our infinite capacity to forgive and forget is incredulous, and borders on cheer insanity. A man who advocated brutality and torture as a means of getting things done. Who scorn on the rule of law, who had people incarcerated without trials, and kept them in prison even after their acquittal under the most inhumane of condition is today the messiah we need. A man who had no problem serving under Abacha; that corrupt mantra, who was reported as saying that Abacha had no case to answer in terms of corruption, and who currently is working with Tinubu, Amaechi and other ex-PDP thieves and co, men who had and are looting their state and constituency dry, that same man is now an anti-corruption general. What hurts me the most is when I see youths of today; many of whom are 21 years and below saying that Buhari; a 72 year old man, who was governor at the age of 30, minister at 30-something, Head of State at 41 is the future for Nigeria. The irony of this statement is neither palatable for me, nor is it beginning to make sense beyond it being a figure of speech.

Looking that Goodluck Jonathan; our president for the past 5 years (going to six), who appealed to us back in 2011 with his speech of fresh air and change. A lot of us believed him even though we had our suspicion of PDP. The Truth is that we were already tired of the old guard who have been there since Flora Shaw seduced Lord Lugard into naming this entity; Nigeria. Thus we threw our lots with him believing that at least, President Goodluck would break the old hegemony and give us something different. 5 years and counting, with fuel selling at a higher price ever, a growing and embolden cabal, zero conviction of corrupt public officials, pardon for convicted public officials, high insecurity in the land, rise in terrorism, disarray of the army, decrease of Nigerian status in international circles, civil disobedience, unpatriotic and treasonous statements from political proponents and opponents, growing inflation and unemployment, high level of youth restiveness etc, a lot of us are beginning to repent from our previous decision.

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan in his 5 years as Head of State, and Commander in Chief of the armed forces have failed majority of Nigerians, especially the lower class and the lower-middle class. He has not shown leadership quality, and a-times had appeared unwilling to seize the initiative or to make the hard decisions needed to secure Nigerians and Nigerian interests. His decision to remove petroleum subsidy instead of persecuting the beneficiaries of subsidy scam exposed his lack of willpower to make the hard choice, rather he chose the path of least resistance, which is to dump the burden on we; the ordinary people of Nigeria. His lack of imagination and innovation, strong-will and strictness in handling the Boko-Haram mayhem betrayed his lack of judgment and understanding of what the role of government is; which is first and foremost the security of lives and properties of Nigerians. This actions and more have led to the loss of faith in his administration, by many previous supporters, save a few who are currently benefiting from his rule, and others who are driven by tribal and religious sentiments.

Hence with election 41 days away, and with the presidency (if there will still be a Nigeria after the election) going to one of the two, the future for Nigeria is dire. The foot soldiers of the two are getting their arsenal ready to cause mayhem in the eventuality that their candidate loses. I don’t want to be a prophet of doom (God know there are so many of them already) but if care is not taken, and with the way things are developing we might be having two or more nations, or a civil war by the end of the year.

To be fair the both candidate; I must concede that there are some factors that mitigated against the two of them. Buhari ruled for only 20 months, in which time he oversaw the persecution of large number of people for corrupt practises albeit mostly southerners and members of the opposition party. He tried to instill a rule of discipline among Nigerians who before then (and after then) had carried on their unruly and rowdy behaviour of jumping queue, dumping of refuse indiscriminately, urinating in public places etc. He also tried to put a rigid and disciplined hold in the handling of the economy, which was a failure though, but who knows what might have been if he was allowed back then to continue to say; 48 months.

President Goodluck Jonathan, on the other hand have ruled beyond the 48 months period, and I am not blind to some of the developmental strides he has tried to introduce in a decayed system such as ours. Such as the revival of our rail system, the rehabilitation of our roads, the containment of Ebola, the building of schools especially in the core-northern areas, the increase of minimum wage, the privatisation of power, conducting of credible elections among other things. Being from a minority tribe and having little political weight in Nigeria, plus having an very powerful and ever-power-hungry cabal of Northern origin who are not only opposed to his presidency, but have continued to agitate what they see as the lose of their turn to rule. I must confess that the challenges before him is enormous and calls for some pragmatic steps, and one might be tempted to sympathise with him.

But the truth is that after 54 years of taking scraps and shit from our ruling class, Nigerians can no longer afford to vote based on “What If” or “Sympathy” or tribal and religious affiliation. We saw hell during those 20 months of Buhari’s draconic regime, and Nigerians are seeing hell during this over-gentle and over-indulging regime of Jonathan. Who would have taught that two very opposite regime; Buhari and Jonathan, military and civilian, draconic and civil, brutal and gentle would have such similar effect on a Nation. A lot of us will not like to admit it, but Buhari and Jonathan are birds of a feather, and no matter the weather, will always flock together, and if past experiences are anything to go by, both will take us nowhere greener. I do not envy Nigerian voters at all. Having being asked to choose between the duo; Buhari and Jonathan, Nigerian voters are now left with no choice except the Devil and the deep blue sea.

The statements, views and opinions stated in this write up is solely those of the author, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

Guinness Made of Black; photo courtesy of guiness google

Guinness Made of Black; photo courtesy of google

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

It was a fine harmattan evening with bright stars upon a clear sky. On my table, a bottle of Guinness beer –the bottle chilled and dripping of sweat, or ice or whatever the evening has in store for me; which was not looking so good. I sat in this fancy beer parlour, trying so hard to enjoy my overpriced beer. My team was losing, and my mind was going gaga. Externaly; I was an image of solitude, internally; I was breaking into multiple jagged pieces of broken bottle. I was trying hard to ignore the painful taunting of an opponent fan. He was loud, and he was also painfully gifted in the art of taunting, I just had to give it to him. Just then, the Guinness advertisement of ‘Made of Black’ appeared on the tele. I don’t know if it was for want of escape or the need for enlightenment, but something in me was stirred. I was forced to start a conversation with my jeering neighbour, who as it appeared was skilled in other areas besides taunting. We had a very interesting conversation about what Guinness meant by “Made of Black” and what being black was really all about, but I must conclude that besides the commercial gains to be made by Guinness from the advertisement, we both ended up being more confused about the notion: “Made of Black”.

Made of Black. What does it really mean to be black, to think black, rep black, act black in this 21st century of bleaching creams and Brazilian hairs…in this age of bimbos and bambinos. I saw in the advertisement that black is an attitude, and I must ask which kind of attitude? Is it positive or negative?

In my NYSC days while I was serving in one beautiful village in South South Nigeria, I met all sorts of artistic local hairstyles and cosmetics. And I fell in love with them, and with the women who wore them. But I now know that I was all alone in my love affair. One particular incident confirmed my solitary-ness. A young village girl in my compound had just plaited one of those beautiful and artistic hairstyle, and when I saw her, I loved it, and I told her in no little way. She thanked me, and left. Less than an hour later, a guy in that compound saw her, and told her that her african-styled-hair made her to look like a maid. I overheard that, and I came out of my room and rebuked the guy and told the girl that her hair was beautiful and unique. By evening time, I saw the girl wearing a new, different and weavon-fixed hair.

Some would say that this is just an isolated event, but I have rolled with women to understand that this is a norm among them. My ex girlfriend nearly fought me one day because I wanted to see her natural hair. She was beautiful and fair, the kind that turns heads everywhere she goes. Yet in all her beauty lies this unquenchable desire to makeup for the blackness in her blood. That day, she had just removed the wig on her hair and was in the process of putting it on back when I entered the room. I being my inquisitive self wanted to see the beautiful damsel in her natural state, but the damsel was indeed distressed with her own self.

I have always ask african ladies especially those who are so ashamed of their hair, why they feel so uncomfortable with their short kinky hair but so completely at home with loads and loads of wigs and weavons. The answers have always ranged from excuses to downright foolishness.
This has left me with the belief that many black people are not comfortable with their morphology. Is it the case of whitening soaps, creams and bleaching toiletries, those ones are another case on their own.

Another incident that informed the inferiority complex of many dark faired folks especially women took place sometime last year. I was in a park to board a bus one very hot afternoon, the weather was dangerously hot, and my queue was longer than the anaconda. I was contemplating cancelling my journey before my fairly black skin becomes baked cake, when this much more dangerously hot ebony chic came and sat on a bench near my queue. My conflict with the weather disappeared that instance. I was no longer worried about the queue, in fact I became worried that the line was moving too fast. I didn’t speak to the girl, I only wrote a quick poem there in my head, and secretly blessed her for the solace she gave me. I told this story later to a female friend of mine without mentioning the colour of the girl. It was she who brought the colour up, when she said that she believed that the girl was light skinned. I had never quite appreciated the fixation and flirtation with light skin before, but that day it dawned on me.

Women being women crave attention and fair or bright skin calls out attention better than dark and dull skin. And I now know that this pressure for women to be fairer than snow white is mostly applied by men, men who deride darker girls. Black men are less affected by the need to lighten their skin colour than women are, but the attitude of many black men to blackness and black girls help in no small way to fuel the problem.

I feel that the problems of blackness is not just artificially made, but also self-sustained. The media we watch or listen to, images and stories we see and read have shaped our thinking over the years to despise black skin, kinky hair, blackness and many things associated with it.
You switch on the TV and all you see are women with hairs as long as River Nile and skin as bright as the sun’s reflection on a mirror. You open a beauty magazine and you are brainwashed by all that you see and all that you read. You go into a mosque and God becomes a foreigner, who has to be served better in a foreign tongue. You go into a church and what you see is heaven made of white and fair beings, and hell full of dark and depressed souls. These images can be tricky. Children playing Jesus and Satan, Student depicting Good and Evil, find themselves equating perfection with light skin and imperfection/ugliness with darker skin.

Some would argue that these are not really that important, but a look at Africa and African countries and communities, would show the big-brother adoration black africans give to people of fairer skin, be they Europeans or Chinese, Indians or Lebanese. It is the same; “I know you are much better than I can ever be.” How pathetic. In Nigeria today, made in Holland peak milk sells much more faster than its Nigerian counterpart even though it is more expensive. European and Arabic names have since surpassed the Native names in number and importance. Foreign accent is now seen as a measure of enlightenment and sophistication. The list goes on and on.

How can a people who are down and downtrodden, rise to develop and better themselves when they have lost all sense of pride and purpose, all sense of dignity and duty, innovation and inspiration. Everything Black is gradually fading away, from religion, to language, from names to traditions, hair style down to skin colour etc.

So I ask again, what is made of black? What does Black being an attitude mean? What does it mean to be black, think black, act black, rep black in today’s world of bleach and Brazilian hair?

Okoye Chukwudi writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You may reach him on twitter @Mr_Charlze

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and does not necessary represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

Some of us want to be loved. Some of us want to be respected. Some of us want to be feared. But few of us have the natural attributes in their right proportions to acquire one or more of these. Most of us don’t even know what we want, where we belong, where we are going. Most of us just have weight and occupy space, drifting through life unconscious of the value of time, of the power at our disposal, merely existing without living.

Love, Respect, Fear. Three attributes that run the world. We all desire one or more of these three. Some desire to be the name on everyone lips, uttered with passion and affection. Some desire to be the ones that get the salute at every turn. To have the world look upon them with awe and admiration. Some desire to be the ones that get the mountains to move. On whose name every kneel bows and every tongue confesses.

Love, Respect, Fear. I have always wondered which of these three is the greatest of all? Which of these three is most vital for a human being to live his life comfortably and effortlessly on earth, without having on his death bed to look back with regret and pain at things done and undone.

LOVE
Love as was preached by Christ; is the greatest of all there is. Yet it didn’t stop him from being betrayed, abandoned, scourged, spitted upon, kicked, denied, dragged on the streets, crucified and killed. Most times people say, Love is all that matters, yet when you look at those same people, you see them living very miserable lives. I have come to understand that when people say they love you, they usually believe that they are automatically entitled to certain favours from you. I believe that Love is a useless weight if it’s without Respect and Fear. Respect; in the sense that there is something about one that you admire or are bound to. Fear, that you are afraid of losing the person, or his/her friendship or association.

RESPECT
Respect; some say is a compromise between love and fear. But this definition already makes Respect a Love-Fear thing. Is it ever possible for people to really respect you, without actually loving you? In my school days we respected the offices of the Principal and teachers. We still respect the offices of the President, Governor, Senators etc. These offices don’t demand that their occupants be loved or feared, they just come with the territory. But for the occupant to really make impact, he has to lean more on the Love or Fear side of the spectrum. Else the respect becomes nothing but a symbolic gesture.

FEAR
It is much better to be feared than to be loved wrote Niccolo Machiavelli. Most people understand well the concept of pain. They are more incline to obey with a gun on their heads, than with smiles and sweets. Human beings are mostly wired that way. But no one is ever really comfortable with something that scares them. They may follow you today, but they will surely despise you tomorrow. Nobody praises a tyrant when he is power, they may remember him ten years after he has been removed with nostalgia, but today they are opened to working against you.
Fear like Love is a powerful tool, that consumes both the giver and the receiver.

Having looked at these three, I feel that Respect is the best of all. Respect you can control. You need not worry if people love you enough, because you know that they fear and admire you. You need not worry if people fear you enough, as long as they love and feel you. Respect is a compromise between the two extremes that is Love and Fear. Respect is in the middle. All you need to do is to adjust the knife edge of your metre rule in the right direction at the right time, and you are good to go.

So how does one get Respect. Real Respect (not official respect) is earned not given. You need to go into your inner chamber and evaluate yourself; your strengths and weaknesses, your gains and losses over the years. Be honest to yourself in order to reinvent yourself. You need love, but you don’t need the world’s love, it is ever changing, ever swinging. You need a first and foremost to love yourself, then cultivate a little love here and there, from your teachers, your bosses, your chairmen. You need to be feared, but you don’t need the world’s fear, what you need is to stamp your authority, mark your turf, and do not compromise unless it’s a matter of life and death, or for the right price. Step on some small toes that refuse to step aside, and people will start taking you seriously.
Remember it is not really love that you want, it is not really fear, many people don’t need to love you, many people don’t need to fear you, just earn their Respect. Love and Fear, a mixture of both, applied in the right doses will gain you admiration, affection and awe.

Remember it is not going to be easy, it will definitely be hard, but with practise, performance and perfection, you will make impart on your society, school, church, association etc. Life is a one time thing. You need to enjoy it on your own terms. Learn today to live it, and not just to exist for other’s rules and regulations.

The statements, views and opinions in this article, are solely those of the author, and does not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Coby Obiora

There was a time when we had Sony Music, Motown Records, Emi, etc in Nigeria. And at one point they all just packed up their things and left us clueless.
The old cats in the industry then were doing their thing, and the younger generation had no clue of what to do till some significant people decided to invent the new nigerian sound.

Even as they tried to, they were criticised by the older music acts and nobody saw them going anywhere. Even the press was not easy on those men but someway somehow, they made things happen, but of course with lot of sacrifices which millions of younger generations are benefiting from currently.

We’re taking time to briefly analyse those significant revolutionary people of our entertainment industry and by the time we are done, we’re sure to have shown the sacrifices these people had to make, and the good they did for our generation.

KENNIS MUSIC

Kennis Music

Kennis Music

Kennis Music is the first indigenous record label in Nigeria, and even though they had a structure that promoted acts under its umbrella, they generally gave the new school artist an enviable status. They were the hype masters, and were undeniable experts of bestowing a larger than life perception to the new school Nigerian music artist and warming them into the hearts of Nigerians via the widest TV network at the time.

Owners of Kennis Music; L to R D1 and Keke

Owners of Kennis Music; L to R D1 and Keke

This often attracted followership for the artist, increasing their fan base as well as big bucks from the corporate sponsors. Kennis music hold the record of getting the first new school Nigerian act (Rapper Eedris Abdulkareem) to be paid N1,000,000:00 for one show

GRAND MASTER LEE

Ben Omoage, popularly known as Grand Master Lee and widely called GML. A strong crusader for the new school act. His voice was on radio and it was loud. His platform had power and he used the power predominantly to call attention to the emergence of a new kind of sound. He was loud and he was heard. GML was known to be kind to the new bunch of musicians and gave them air time they could never pay for.

HIP HOP WORLD

Ayo Animashaun : The resilience of another pioneer. His introduction was with his magazine that thought a generation the lyrics of all their favorite songs. He was one of the first to play Mongo Park with the hip hop world. Discovering a whole new world of Nigerian music. Ayo also engineered the most enviable reward scheme for the new school act with an Award ceremony that replicated Hollywood’s glitz and glam.

EMMA UGOLEE

Emma Ugolee is A forerunner with the introduction of music videos as the new tool for marketing the new Nigerian artist. On TV, this presenter, producer was the only alternative to the Kennis music dynasty. As inventor of the first ever all Nigerian music video countdown, his TV show was making more artist than we expected. Renowned for his ear and eyes for talent and personal support for most of Nigeria’s biggest music acts today from the early days of their struggle. A force the industry would never forget

DJ JIMMY JATT

Dj Jimmy Jatt

Dj Jimmy Jatt

Dj Jimmy Jatt: An old school Dj with the new school flavour. If Jimmy played your song, it was like getting a seal of industry approval. Unlike many of his colleagues who were still stuck with music from the west, Jimmy celebrated the new Nigerian music by playing at the biggest platforms in his time. Every leader of the new school has a cherished favour given by Jimmy in the wake of his career. In the words of Tuface “back then na Jimmy Jatt na him dey give us instrumental”
  

PAUL PLAY

Paul Play

Paul Play

Paul Play: New school producer extraordinaire. Made that fresh sound for so many of the pioneers as well as himself. Formed one of the first new school RnB groups in Nigeria called Oxygen. Paul Play whose real name is Paul IK Dairo had big shoes to fill with a musical icon of a father, but like Femi Kuti, he too had found his own path and identity but also carried quite a crowd on his back in the process.

KWAME; GLOBAL SOUNDS

Kwame

Kwame

Kwame: Kwame was another voice on radio with a following that was hard to ignore. His style made us all want to listen to what he said. This presenter deserved our attention. When the new school took off. Kwame was a pilot that the journey wouldn’t do without. He used his platform well for the good of the course. His hunger expanded to TV where Nigizzie was eventually born
              

TRYBE RECORDS

Eldee: For an undergraduate in his late teens, his vision was legendary. Forming his solo record label (Trybe records) and initiating trade with the Alaba trader for the industry are landmarks that changed the business, inspiring a whole lot. Attributable all to a man aptly called the Don. Trybe records also went on to create a long chain of successful careers.

NELSON BROWN

Nelson Brown : Another producer of the new Nigerian sound. The legendary Daddy Showkey’s “Diana”  and Plantation boy’s “body and soul” albums are one of the many industry redefining sounds that came out of the stable of Mr Brown’s dove records that operated from a small kiosk in Festac. Nelson’s versatility was amazing as he made hip hop hits for Def O clan, Love songs for P.boiz  and yet sold that Ajegunle new school to Nigeria.

OBI ASIKA:

Heavy weight that enjoyed throwing his weight behind the new Nigerian sound. His backing for Junior and Pretty was one of the early signs that the industry was better off with Obi sticking around. This was made manifest over time as many more owed their blossoming careers to his dedication to improving the industry

SWAT ROOT:

When rap music had taken over the world and we were wondering who could represent the nation with the way it should be done. A team of Northern Nigerian based rappers known as Swat root did not let us wait for long. These intellectual kings of punch-lines made so many youngsters believe that they too could get a shot at this as a means of living. The acknowledgment intro of Ice prince’s ELI album lists their names as OD, Terry tharapman, Mode 9, Six foot plus, Ruclean and EldeeXtra Large

UZO OKPECHI:

The man who took directing music videos personally. Invested for the sake of showing that we too can look like the guys on MTV Europe and Channel O. He was at a time the sole supplier for quality videos to all who played them. His tag team with Mr Emma Ugolee mentioned earlier was memorable as defining what is today called packaging with visuals.

PLANTASHUN BOIZ:

Plantashun Boiz; from L to R Black Face, TuFace Idibia, Faze

Plantashun Boiz; from L to R Black Face, TuFace Idibia, Faze

As Jodeci, New Edition, The boys, Boys to men, etc all got everyday black American boys to believe in coming together to make music magic, Plantation boys did same for the Naija kids. Totally fresh sound from the boys next door, transformed their reality into millions of achievable dreams for music hopefuls who flooded the industry. Body and Soul- the album remains the contact point for many with the new age Nigerian sound

REMEDIES:

Remedies Group; from L to R Tony Tetuila, Eedris Abdulkareem, Eddy Montana

Remedies Group; from L to R Tony Tetuila, Eedris Abdulkareem, Eddy Montana

Another Music redefining band. Made music that opened doors to the acceptance of the new school. Eddie, Tony and Eedris where the symbol of the new school super stars. They inspired many to make that trip to the studio and make the sponsors of entertainment take the new school seriously 

OJB JEZREEL:

OJB Jezreel

OJB Jezreel

Like Paul play and Eldee. Ojb too had opened his doors to the production of talents that congested his studio daily. If he got paid for free beats he gave out, he would have been a millionaire. Responsible for the 1st sounds from Dbanj, Rugged man, Funke etc… He was another one man mopol that defended the new music.

FEMI LASODE:

Here is a man who set up a business to make money out of music with his Africa ‘n Vogue concept but ended up playing father Christmas all year round with free studio sessions and video making ticket to countless artiste who could not afford it. Femi was supportive of the new music and must be proud of where it has gotten.  

TEE JOE

it takes one to know one they say. A music lover but also a business man. Approached by Eldee with a plan to make paper packages for cd’s instead of the expensive plastic cases. Then also to use the Nollywood distribution network to spread this new emerging sound. The catch was for him to provide a bulk sum to finish production and invests in the distribution. That game changing decision in favor of millions to come was made by Tee Joe, and today millions of naira flow through that system

EDDIE LAWANI:

The bearded one is everybody’s uncle. Not only as a sign of respect for his mature, fatherly demeanour, but for his mentorship role that pointed many budding acts in the right direction with his wealth of experience. A technical guru with events production but also used the link to put bread on many tables as a go between sponsors and artistes.

CALLY IKPE:

Cally Ikpe

Cally Ikpe

Cali was also a crusader on TV. The first man to put Plantation Boiz on TV. Cali didn’t believe that we should make our guys look local. He did what he could to equate the hype he gave home grown talents on his show “Live Beats” to the one he gave international act.

CHARLES NOVIA:

Charles Novia

Charles Novia

Charlie as he was fondly called is today more remembered for his contribution to Nollywood but he had long before that been a pillar for the music industry. TV was his medium, and playing videos and interviews was his timely share of introducing and promoting the new era music. His show “who is on” in 1996 forced a lot of Nigerians to accept the new kids on the block with the most popular medium called the NTA network.

Mr Coby Obiora

Mr Coby Obiora Onwuemeli

Coby Obiora is a writer, producer and recording artiste. With a passion for the growth of the entertainment industry in nigeria. You may follow him on Twitter: @theycallmeCOBY

NB: This is the Median Article of Coby-Writes.

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