Inside my letter to Melania: I am so sorry

In the midst of all the Trump bashing, the person that draws my sympathy the most is Melania.

Trump Inauguration
Melania Trump – 45th first lady of the United States, walks into her husband’s inauguration, looking charming in baby blue.

I mean look at the poor girl. Yes she’s charming but this wasn’t part of the bargain. She was content just being married to this rich guy and having enough to take care of her lifestyle and son. She knew well how to massage his ego and had completely acculturated to the Donald Trump lifestyle and person. And then he lands her here.

In the very shoes of her distant idol. How is it that you ask me to replace an iconic, very celebrated and almost flawless woman? She was nearly perfect all round – education, check; parenting, check; humour, check; grace, check; compassion, check – what positive boxes does she not check?! She rapped, danced, exercised, loved dogs and gave badass speeches even extempo! How do you measure up to an Ivy league lawyer??!!!

There are two things Donald can do for Melania, if he is not too busy learning to be Mr President seeing that he’s been Mr CEO all his life.

  1. Give her a great team and
  2. Respect and adore her like or almost like Barrack did Michelle.

When I say a great team, I do not mean the ones that helped her choose ‘cyber-bullying’ as a ‘project topic’ when Donald was busy naming and shaming people for being different on Twitter and during his campaign.

By a good team, I mean the ones who would look in her background and find her something to be genuinely passionate about. She speaks five languages; let it count.

A bunch of people who can help her find her strength and emphasize it. It’s easier to comment on and cultivate what one is truly passionate about. The truth is that right now people do not care whether she planned to be FLOTUS or not. In fairness, there are no requirements for this position, you just have to be married to the president. But because of predecessors like Michelle, the bar is so high in terms of what is now expected of a first lady.

Back to my point, Melania dropped out of school in her first year to pursue modelling as a career. Now, a good team can make a project and campaign from that part of her past. She already dresses well and has good poise and comportment it would seem but we are yet to see her under pressure. For every time she opens her mouth in public space now, she is going to have to sound bright. Don’t make fashion statements only.

Take this as a challenge to develop yourself, Melania. Surprise yourself. Surprise Donald. Read and read and read. Ask questions. Don’t ask Donald. Befriend Ivanka (if you aren’t friends already); she seems to have a good head on her shoulders. And if this is not too much for you, befriend Michelle. Reach out to her. Ask her how she did it. You have more to gain. I bet she can be discreet if you ask her to. The press doesn’t have to know. Yes, Donald will not approve. But this is about how bad you want this. You may have to stand up to him for once.

Barrack was conspicuously the wind beneath Michelle’s wings. Yes, she has the best education the world can offer and was (very likely still is) smarter than Barrack in class yet it was he who gave her the room and confidence to be such an amazing first lady. The whole world knows you do not have that kind of support system. Your man wouldn’t  even pretend to be a gentleman in full public glare. And considering that being president is a new role for him, I expect he’d be very focused and overtly selfish about making that mark every president before him didn’t. In other words, don’t count on him.

Whatever you do become Melania, just don’t be that trophy wife. I wish you the very best. You can succeed.

 

Signed,

A fan and wife

 

Tonto and Mercy’s PDA: This is how to preach the gospel!

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The olive branch from Tonto

Can you believe that this just happened? Is it motherhood or marriage? Is it religion? Is it Christ? Someone even mentioned the Holy spirit. Read on.

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The confession continues

Forget about new year resolutions. See, there is something very deep about motherhood. I know not everyone goes through that phase. But a lot of mothers will tell you that they learnt selflessness when they became mothers. Every mother thinks their child is the best and deserves the best. Doesn’t it put us all in competition, you may think? But it is not so. It is a kind of love that is immediately activated the moment you see a little human anywhere, yours or not. It is why pictures of starving children from our IDP camps or of wounded ones from Aleppo always torment us. It is also why you think some women overreact when they hear of a mum who kills her child(ren) or why we coil when a child is raped. It’s also why it is never right to tell a mother who loses her infant to ‘look on the brighter side, you can have another one’ or ‘We don’t know why God allowed it’. How did I get here? Okay, Tonto and Mercy.

They were Nollywood arch-rivals. It was a Coke and Fanta fight. They were the younger versions of Omotola & Genevieve. Theirs was worse because Tonto was vocal about it. She has (or had) a caustic tongue. Then Mercy fell in love and married this Prince. Two babies later, Tonto meets this guy, settles into marriage and becomes a mum too. Very instructive is the way the former rivals began to brandish God following this development. They found God when they found love or did they find love when they found God?

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Olive accepted: Mercy professes forgiveness and love

Whichever way it happened, I am all for this sweetness. This is what we like to see. Love. Unhindered. See Tonto’s moment of realisation came after she had her child. It is why many women still think the ‘highest point’ of being a woman is to conceive and bring forth a child. I do not agree. But I do not deny the transformations that can happen to a woman from child bearing. Note also that not all women are so transformed after child birth. There is however a higher chance for women who go through pregnancies in the presence and with the support of a partner, to become so transformed. That is also why a lot of these women experiencing this indescribable joy can never understand bitter feminists who are largely old spinsters.

I expect that this morning’s conversation would have continued in the DMs. I expect it would have ended with the proposal of a get-together at someone’s house. I suspect it will be at Mercy’s house since she has more kids. The kids will be in the picture too when the Okojies meet the Obasanjos. It may be a beginning of playdates for the children, if all goes well and they don’t live very far apart. No, the husbands will be absent. Now we await pictures from the tea party. Thank you sisters for this public display of reconciliation and affection.

Come, let us be silly! aka ‘The Wedding Party’

The best time to write a review is always while the taste is still in the mouth. This doesn’t refer to food alone. It covers the entire spectrum of the arts. It’s pretty much like saying, the best time to write an exam is when you have just finished reading.

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I thought I already missed my chance to review ‘The Wedding Party’ movie since I didn’t grab my keypad right after watching it. Plus, loads of glowing reviews have popped up on almost every Nigerian blog or website you can think of – even if more than half of them are sponsored. So why add my own mite to the already loud noise? Because it’s been over two weeks I saw the movie and I still find myself burst out in laughter when the scenes replay in my head. Truthfully guys, I just HAVE TO let this out.

Who rang the bell for foolishness? Mo Abudu and Kemi Adetiba have some explaining to do. Do you remember the opening lines of singer Faze‘s once famous ‘Kolomental’ song?

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Omo na mental case

Start to dey crase

Na who dey rock in this place

It’s Kolomental

That song must have been playing somewhere in the background of this movie when it was being shot or during auditions. I have never seen Ali Baba so ‘foolish’ (read, silly) all my life; not even at his annual January 1st comedy show. I always knew Ikechukwu had some foolishness (or goofiness) in him and I was so glad Kemi (the director) decided to hand him this script that provided the perfect opportunity to bare it all. Sola Sobowale was tastefully dramatic and this was such a brilliant outing for debutante actor, Banky W; as well as Features director debutante, Kemi Adetiba.

Between spilling blood in club fights and screaming, ‘my name is Ike-chukwu!’, I have always diagnosed martial art expert and rapper, Killz, to be a pleasant next-door guy with a high propensity and deep yearning to be foolish – if society wasn’t so patriarchal and condescending towards men like that. I’m glad he found that liberty in his role as Sola – the bestman. And oh! that Caucasian bridesmaid stole my heart – such a hopeless romantic overly flattered by the prospect of a Nigerian Prince.

Let me tell you about the Banky W we saw. It was the innocent-looking 2008 newly-relocated Banky that came to act in this movie.

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Back in the days: Ladies’ man Banky W

The singer channelled his Western loverboy personality – the one that endeared him to Nigerian ladies when he introduced the songs; ‘No regrets’ and ‘Don’t break my heart’ to us and stole our hearts. When he found and reconciled with his runaway bride at the beachside in this movie, I almost heard him break into singing:

You’re the only one for me

Why can’t you see

Girl, I knew it from the start

Don’t break what’s left of my heart

In fact, I will not be surprised to find out that he suggested singing this song but was overruled by the director (who is also his personal friend), while filming this scene.

This beach scene was the only Non-Nigerian element in ‘The Wedding Party‘. I mean, which runaway Nigerian bride escapes to be by herself at the beach with a bonfire in the background? Who helped her gather the sticks?

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Ali Baba (Mr Coker) dances with his wife – Sola Sobowale, in one of his ‘silly’ moments. Peep Sola’s manicure…

I could go on and on about this movie. Ultimately, I would say the casting director made excellent calls. Every role was correctly cast and the scripts, meticulously guided. The movie had every opportunity to derail but the director kept it steady on course. I think Ireti Doyle and Emma Oh My God had the best written scripts. Ireti was impeccable in delivery and Emma’s prayer points at the wedding reception was so carefully thought out. Who knew Madam planner, Zainab, could speak such brilliantly intoned Yoruba? And Beverly, she was the classiest bitter slut ever!

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The strongest and most important unit of society: family!

The Wedding Party is such a happy movie. I saw it twice in Asaba during the festive season and it put the ‘merry’ in my Christmas. I will see it again in Lagos, once the cinema crowd subsides and I can get a ticket. I hear the Lagos experience is the real deal.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts?

Goodbye Indomie! Saving cost this economic season

I was at the grocery shop earlier today and the place was packed with items all the way to the gate. I just calmly respected my debit card by picking only what I went in for. These days, no one needs a reminder to stick to the list.

 

Grocery store aisle.
Grocery store aisle.

I know some people still struggle with handling shopping pressure so I have compiled a few tips I employ, to help keep my shopping budget sane.

 

Don’t just believe the housekeeper, look around the house yourself
You see, the times aren’t very friendly. A lot of thinking and pruning need go into the shopping list before one exits the door. Before now, I only wrote shopping guides (more like type a draft text message or Evernote) so as not to forget the necessary items. These days, I write, contemplate, edit, negotiate with the nanny, look in my kitchen store, ransack the freezer, then crosscheck the list again just to be sure that only the required are purchased and no pressing need is forgotten. There are hardly rooms for inclusions outside the list.

What's in the fridge?
What’s in the fridge?

 

Look in the computer as your goods scan. Who shame epp?

This is always easier than scrutinizing your receipt after you already paid.
I have stopped spending time at the till asking explanations from the attendant for why prices increase as rapidly as daily. I have decided to save my energy as the conversations never impact on my bill. These days, I feel absolutely no shame in staring at the computer to see the price of each item as scanned before my total is announced. This way, you can quickly spot multiple entries or identify which items to reduce or remove if your total is going above budget and the attendant is still computing the items. No shame. No pressure.

Don't let him woo you. Look at the screen yourself.
Don’t let him woo you. Look at the screen yourself.

Keep receipts from different stores or a price journal
I now stock receipts from different stores, comparing prices to decide which store to get what item from and who still has old stock. The downside to this is that you have to plan your shopping. You don’t just dash into any store. It may also mean that you will be spending more time getting your same old purchase. If eggs, fish, and plantain are cheaper at the green stall around the bend, why buy same from your one-stop shop?

 

Get creative. Trade time for money
My toddlers are eating a lot more home-made food. The N450/550
that goes into buying a bottle of Beechnut or Cow&Gate bottled food, can no longer be spared. I now use the same bottles to store and freeze her home-made sweet potato porridge, pasta, rice and peeled beans. Yes it means I have to devote time to cooking her special meals and even look up recipes on how toddlers like their meals made. The good effect this has produced is that she’s more open to trying adult meals apart from saving me a good amount of money.

 

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Porridge, beans, pasta stash… 1 bottle = 1 meal

 

Form alliances
My eggs and yams now come in from Ibadan – a neighbouring city. I found out that my friend, Funmi, always has someone come into Lagos weekly from Ibadan. This someone, brings her supplies from her parents. I have therefore teamed up with her and now get eggs for N750 a crate in place of the N1100/1200 which I pay in my neighbourhood shop for the same item. Yes, the Ibadan eggs are smaller, but I couldn’t care less.

Fresh eggs
Fresh eggs

Find alternatives. Bye Indomie!
A carton of 40packets of 70g Indomie noodles has gone from N1450 to N2200. I never thought there could be an alternative to Indomie. The maggie taste and reduced size post-cooking had become so annoying, I vowed to try another brand. Yes, I had some concerns. What if my children don’t take to it? What if my husband (a major noddles consumer) doesn’t like it? What will I then do with the carton of 40packs? But my mind was made up. I’d been exploited long enough. So I asked at the store, 3 days ago, for another brand. I got Mimee. And we have all eaten from it. I LOVED IT. Asked for my husband’s verdict and he said, he didn’t miss Indomie. N400 saved. Case resolved!

 

New favourite: Mimee!
New favourite: Mimee!

 

Conclusion

In the midst of the different survival tactics people are engaging to get by these days, no brand is indispensable. Brands should be sensitive enough to be content with marginal profits or creative enough to source other ways of augmenting income. Don’t be deceitful like Beloxxi cream crackers who in spite of raising cost price, still went ahead to reduce the number of biscuit in each packet. They were deceitful in putting no information on the carton to the effect so that consumers can buy fully aware of the change. I got home with my usual packet of biscuit only to be informed by my son’s nanny, days after purchase, that each packet now contains 2 biscuits in place of 3. Shame on you Beloxxi. I’m now searching for an alternative.

On top is the 'New' carton and under is the 'old'
On top is the ‘New’ carton and under is the ‘old’

Trump, the American ‘Change’

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I’m still stupefied. I can’t believe it happened. I sort of saw it coming, but I never  thought it’d land. It happened – in the United States of America! A President Donald Trump.

I never campaigned for Hillary because I didn’t see the need to. I felt she was unfairly matched. How could she be contesting with a Trump? I assumed the choice was obvious. No contest, I thought.

In August when my husband visited Washington D.C, Georgia and Louisiana for business meetings, he returned saying Trump could be the next US president. He said a large number of the people he spoke with in the streets including cab drivers identified with his character. He was as shocked as I was that this dude actually had fans. Fans that multiplied greatly, became more aggressive and passionate enough to storm the polls on November 8.

Like Britons that exited the EU for the simple reason of wanting a ‘change’, the Americans have responded with their own ‘change’. Fed up with the system, educated and uneducated white voters, even evangelicals, voted overwhelmingly for the man who, in his campaigns, agreed with the closet anarchists they are. People love ‘new’ and Trump is ‘new’: rookie politician; unruly, fraudulent, chauvinistic, ridiculous and openly thoughtless; fragmented the GOP successfully, defeated the Democrats, outsmarted traditional media and the pollsters; and rubbished career politicians all over the whole world. It’s a collective shame I feel here.

Now that he is president-elect, how will he fare come Jan 20, 2017 when he’s sworn in and in the four years that will follow? Let me remind you of some of his proposed policies.

When the panic, devastation and elation across the world subsides, America will come to terms with their new reality: that there will be no more cool videos from POTUS and FLOTUS because Donald has replaced Barrack and Melania is the new Michelle.

On a more serious note, somehow I dare to think that President Trump will feel pressured to outperform the past Democratic presidents he castigated in his campaigns; especially Obama, Bush and Clinton. Also, I dare to think that Mr Trump will do his best possible to present a better image of himself than the one he projected at his rallies, debates and on social media. As the 45th president of the most powerful country in the world, Trump will struggle to be the best version of himself; we just highly doubt that his personal best will be enough.

With a strongly Republican Senate, one can only hope that the coming policies will bind more than divide, build rather than break, assuage rather than scathe the already fragile tolerance among Americans and with other countries of the world.

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Senator Hillary Clinton was the most qualified and touted-to win Presidential candidate. She lost the election to Mr Trump but won the popular votes. she would have been America’s first female president among many other firsts. #I’mstillwithHer

Long live the United States. Congratulations America (I guess that’s in order?)

How I bought N200 meal in Lagos

Nigerians are indeed a resilient lot. In the middle of this stinging economy, someone still sells cooked rice in N50 bits and meat in N50 chunks. But before I get to that, I’ll walk you through the journey.

 

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Ofada! As it should be.

It was my birthday yesterday so I thought to wear a new look. I called an old hair stylist and confirmed he was free to make my hair. I drove up to his plaza on Opebi and while I struggled to find parking space, I called him to assist. Then he said he was standing outside but couldn’t see me. When I inquired where, it turned out he had moved to another plaza on Allen avenue (about 5minutes away). I turned the car around and headed to this new place. While walking me from the car, we had an interesting conversation.

Me: So when did you move and why?

Martin: Ha! This is the second place since Amazing Grace o (the Opebi plaza). I was paying 50k (50 thousand Naira) before (monthly). Suddenly, she (landlady/caretaker) said I should bring 80k. Where will I see that? So I moved to one other place, still on Opebi. We no do 3months, court came to seal the building. I didn’t know there was a problem before moving in. We just came to work one morning and saw government people. It was after that I moved here.

This new place is a whole floor milling with people: hair stylists, nail technicians, boutique operators, make-up artists; were the much I could count. Each had their corners and ‘hustled’ customers. Martins’ corner is well defined and partitioned away from others. His space was well pimped with mirrors on the wall, chairs, a hanging TV, standing fan and the usual accompanying salon equipment.

Barely had I sat when a young lady came with smiles, greeted, and asked if I would be making my nails too. I told a polite ‘no’. Another well made-up face came to market beauty products to me. I said, ‘no, thank you’. Before I would finish my hair, four more people came, greeting warmly first, then marketing one product or service; all beauty related.

It was while I sat in Martins’ chair, that the ofada (a local rice delicacy) matter happened. Martin asked a female assistant to get him N50 rice and two pieces of meat. I thought I didn’t hear right. Who still sells N50 food and how far can that go in filling a man? The food came, covered. Then I ordered for N100 rice and two pieces of meat. It came; concealed in black nylon, placed on a plate with a spoon.

When my hair was done, I grabbed the plate and began to eat from the nylon in complete market style. It was so tasty. Then I ate and I ate and ate and continued to eat until my tummy was FULL. I could not believe I paid N100 for this portion of rice. The beef was sizeable and well-spiced too. It was almost finger licking good.

It was when the rice seller came for her money that I found out the meat was N50 a piece. What?!!! Incredulous!!! People, that’s how I filled my food tank spending N200 in Lagos, Nigeria in the year 2016. I always have a bottle of water with me so I didn’t have to spend on water.

Back to Martins. He used to own a beauty parlour in a fairly big space in Opebi. He had an in-house nail technician and about four hair assistants. He ran his own generator and controlled who and what came in his shop. He even had a small boutique section.

In this new facility, everything is shared: space, water and power. They all use a central generator that kicks in when government power fails. There’s a floor manager to whom they direct all concerns. For the two hours or less that I was there, power must have failed about six times. I heard an assistant grumble about the ‘useless generator that ought to be sold’ and how the ‘useless (erratic) supply’ had damaged two of her plugged phone chargers only last week.

Perhaps the most frightening and singular most important new challenge is that: Martins just moved in with competition and there’s little he can control. This is how he copes in this economy.

The many inconsistencies that won’t make us great…

Yesterday, I ran a couple of errands that had me go through LASUTH, Opebi, Ikosi and CMD Roads. Every stop I made brought new revelations that made me marvel at how fast things are retrogressing  and how hard the government is trying to reward people’s tenacity with frustration.

 

My first stop was at a friend’s office in Opebi, to pick up the aso-ebi for his wedding, which is holding next week. While I was with him, his intercom kept going off and he’d repeat into the receiver, ‘I’m in a meeting. I said I’m in a meeting’. After the third such call, I asked if he needed to be elsewhere. Then he explained that a group of people from one of the many Lagos State government agencies were in the reception insisting on seeing a senior officer. This was the third team visiting this week (as at Wednesday) allegedly to ‘audit’ the company account.

 

Of course, he was reluctant to see them. The company he works for, an advertising agency, has already laid off half its staff in the last twelve months just to stay afloat. Parking is no longer a problem for guests as the hitherto inadequate car park now boasts only a few cars, a testament to slow business and the reduced staff strength. Yet the government is more desperate than ever to bite off whatever it is that is keeping this company open. As my friend saw me to my car, we walked past the team of 3 – donning black polo shirts with the Lagos state colour symbols on their arms. I shook my head wondering how the conversation would go.

 

Still smarting from that, I proceeded to the Lagos State High Court on Oba Akinjobi Road. I needed to swear an affidavit. As a Lagos girl, I parked outside and made sure to avoid the court touts who saw me arrive in a car. Then I went straight to those tiny buildings on your right, just by the fence, inside the court premises. To my surprise, the former office now carried a chalk inscription saying ‘mosque’. There were maybe another 20 touts and photographers hanging around there and one (who couldn’t be older than 21) approached me. He billed me ₦1500 for ‘typing’ the document, and securing the court stamp. He wouldn’t take less than ₦1000.
I was last here in 2007, when I lost my wallet along with a couple of I.Ds and bank cards. My entire transaction at the time took place in this ‘mosque’ for a few hundred bucks. My kid brother, who also swore an affidavit two months ago, said he spent less than ₦500,. so why pay this third party ₦1000? I tried to find the legal route even though everyone around me were interested in helping me in another way. A security officer later pointed me to the building where I could ‘stamp’ my ‘typed’ document (which was what I asked him).

 

On getting there, it was another tout (who I first thought to be an officer) that led me out to the reserved car park and asked that I wrote out my particulars: Name, Religion, Address, correct and incorrect dates of birth. Then he said, ‘your money na one-two (₦1200)’. I was already tired from walking around in the sun. With my car key firmly tucked away in my bag, I proceeded to negotiate. ‘Ha oga! Na ₦1000 dey my hand o and I go enter transport go house. I dey stay for Ketu. Make I give you ₦700.’

 

My brothers and sisters, this man gave me a seat in another building, and left for a couple of minutes. He returned with a COMPUTER PRINTED document, asked me to cross-check my details, collected the 1k note and went for the stamps. About 15 minutes later, my transaction was done. I walked out to my car wondering how our systems are created with deliberate loopholes to service corruption. What’s wrong with hosting a website where anyone can download these documents so that completed ones are physically presented for stamping in court? Why the ‘type’ scare when computer print outs are also acceptable?

 

As I journeyed home I saw hawkers scamper with their wares as zealous green-uniformed men (and women) jumped down from a black van. Ikeja is the state capital and hawking is forbidden. CMD Road and environs are currently under fire with demolition of ‘illegal’ structures going on left and right. Many of these house small businesses run by their CEOs and a handful of workers. As the economy crumbles and big organisations downsize, Lagos wages war against people trying to make ends meet legitimately. A friend who has produced her own juice in her Mum’s backyard, and is now trying to set up her factory, approached NAFDAC for approval. NAFDAC referred her to a consultant who she MUST ‘work’ with. I leave the rest of the story to your imagination.

 

When the hubby came home and I narrated my court experience cum negotiation tactic, he said: “Welcome to being a criminal. Lying in a courthouse is perjury.”

 

My reply? “I wasn’t under oath, please.” Sigh. The things Nigeria make you do.

 

How ACOR unveiled in Abuja

We had a 10-day vacay in Abuja and it was such a tremendous time. One of the highlights of the trip, for me, was this book unveil I attended.

 

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Book cover of Othuke Ominiabohs’ new novel

 

I met Othuke Ominiabohs via his first book released earlier this year. ‘Odufa’ was so romantic and well written, I craved for more materials from this prolific first-time author and desired to meet him.

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Love at first read: Odufa

Now I’m not used to meeting authors whose books I enjoy as years of reading ‘strangers’ have taught me that you don’t meet writers. I mean they aren’t rockstars so they don’t reach out to fans like in a concert, press conference or red carpet events. Even when there’s a ‘meet and greet’ or ‘book signing’ (which is common for touring best-selling authors outside this clime), the venues are small and seldom packed full. But things are changing.

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A saxophonist entertains guests at ACOR unveil, Abuja

 

The book bug is catching on quite rapidly in Nigeria as more Nigerians are beginning to read and love Nigerian books and by extension, authors. Yes, local authors still have problems convincing some bookshops to stock their books but I’m glad we are making progress. Yes, we haven’t sorted our distribution problem as many authors still have to go bookshop to bookshop if they  are to have national circulation but we are moving. Yes our publishing houses are so few,  fledgling and struggling but we’re still sailing. One can authoritatively say Literary appreciation is on the rise and we have the likes of Othuke to thank- People writing Nigerian stories in our everyday language such that one can almost substitute the characters with a neighbour or high school friend’s name and the story would fit. So it was quite some excitement for me when about 190 people attended ACOR unveil.

 

A Conspiracy Of Ravens is a Nigerian thriller built around the oil struggle in the Niger Delta. It’s fast-paced and action-packed and I think Othuke did a really good job, so far. I’ll do a proper review when I’m done reading. I took a few pictures of the event with my Tecno L8 phone. Venue was Thought Art Pyramid, Wuse II, Abuja.

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Beautiful ladies at the book stand

 

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With Public Health advocate, Ijeoma Mba

 

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Readers queue for autographs and interaction with author

With man-of-the-moment, Othuke Ominiabohs and a mutual friend, Chia.

 

Meanwhile, before Lagos folks get all jealous, there will be a Lagos edition on Sunday, October 2nd. Venue is TerraKulture on Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island and you are invited.

 

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In this economy, Chicken is chicken

Have you gone shopping recently? If your barber still cuts hair for the same amount, you should collect the hair he shaves off you at your next cut. And if you are one of those who have a haircut twice weekly, I leave you to God.

 

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In this economy?

 

Suddenly, everyone knows the word ‘economy’. My eleran (meat seller) won’t cut N300 beef again for my children (I’m #teamFitfam now so no red meat for me). Meat pricing begins from N500. My preferred Titus fish is now N400, 450 – the same sizes I bought two weeks ago for N300, 350. Funny, how tomatoes has stayed afloat – the Yoruba kind; not the fat, round, strong, succulent type.

 

Ugu is even worse. Six flowered sticks for N50. To cook a medium-size pot of Edi Ka Ikong these days, you will need to spend at least N500 on buying leaves (in place of N200). Yes, leaves; so you better stop weeding the Ugu and water leaf growing behind your house and ask your children to begin watering them when they return from school.

 

children-gardening
Children gardening. Photo credit: bloominthyme.com

 

Chicken is healthier than red meat, says my fitness coach, so I was at my poultry seller’s on Saturday evening. As I waited for my turn, the woman before me – clothed in full Owambe regalia – contemplated her purchase.

“How much is chicken?”

“N1000 ma”

“Live nko?”

“Two-five, Two- eight ma. Depending on the size”

“Ha! But Sallah has passed nau”

She contemplates a bit. Fidgets with her purse. Some crisp N100 notes she probably sprayed or was sprayed at the party fell out as she took out her handkerchief. She ‘weighs’ the chicken laps in her hand, not trusting the scale. 3 laps make 1 kilo. She eyes the live chicken staring her from the cage, mutters something under her breath and from nowhere says,  ‘gimme chicken wings please. Chicken is chicken’.

 

 

I burst out in laughter. Our eyes meet. She explains, ‘my sister, this economy ehn…we don’t even know where we are going”. I nodded and sighed in agreement. She collected her chopped chicken wings and left. Then it was my turn to contemplate.

This season, I’m trying well-packaged alternatives. Yes. I’m forced to try out brands I have previously walked past on the shelves. If it can save me a few zeros and is decently packed, I give it a shot. An example is Bird’s 400g Custard jar that now retails for N920. The spirit of the Lord has led me to a new brand called ‘Checkers’ which costs N400 in my estate and N320 outside. Same 400g!

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Checkers yummy custard

Yes, Checkers turns watery quickly if left unattended to after preparation, but frankly I just ensure the kid is ready to eat before I prepare it.
Creativity is so invaluable these days so I have fallen in love with cooking my Okra soup while counting on my smoked Titus fish to secrete sufficient cooking oil. Yes it is healthier dear friend but perhaps more importantly, I don’t have to BUY palm oil! The market conversations these days are truthfully, depressing.

 

This is how my husband helps around the house

How do you enlist your husband’s help in child keeping? I hear some women have it better than others. Are men born or raised domestic? The famous ‘nature or nurture’ question again. While you’re trying to figure out the answer(s), I’ll share a bit of my experience with you.

So yesterday, I asked the husband to help pick up FOUR items for the kids on his way back from work. He bought THREE and came into the house with TWO. My list read:

  1. Size 4 Pampers diaper
  2. Crate of Eggs
  3. Nycil Powder
  4. Packet of big Eva table water

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He bought items 1, 2 & 4. He left item 4 in the car boot because his hands were full and didn’t buy item 3 because ‘they said they didn’t have’. I said, thank you.

My toddler tossed the diaper packs on the floor to play with and I caught a glimpse of the price tag. N2170.

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N2170.Yekpa!

I panicked.

He was napping already. I could barely wait to get answers. Yes I asked for the green packet Nigerian Pampers. But then I’d usually buy the pack of 64 for N2500 or thereabout. Here was a pack of 20 forN2170 and my loving husband graciously bought me 3 packets!

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N2170 x 3 ???!!

So he came out of his nap and I asked and he confirmed he bought each pack as quoted on the packets. I wanted to cry. N6510 for 60diapers! On closer inspection, I realised they were Pampers UK retailing for 4.99Pounds each. But it didn’t matter much to me because UK made or not, my babies change diapers every 3 to 4 hours! Soaked or not! I felt so so pained but couldn’t say much so he doesn’t feel very bad. I kept seeing the stash of diapers that amount would fetch me but then I had to be grateful.

Fast forward to this morning. I boil 3 eggs from item 2 and they were all bad. No, it wasn’t his fault. You see, my husband doesn’t like shopping (except for gadgets). He will point to the first item he sees in the grocery store that shares a resemblance with his list, just so he can get out and be gone. That said, he will rather buy PACKED ‘fancy eggs’ like Funtuna or Ova that now retails a crate of 20 at N870, than have a shop attendant collect a crate of 30 nameless eggs for N950 (He doesn’t even know there’s a difference in price). So, like a good wife, I put the bad eggs back in the crate; retrieve the receipt from the bin, put my son in the car and drive to the neighbourhood mart. Yes good sir, I got my apologies from the store, exchanged the fancy crate for the regular crate and paid the difference.

Not just that. I went to the baby toiletries section, and found a bunch of Nycil powder lying on the shelf. Trust that I asked an attendant if they had just restocked, and the response was ‘no’. Well, I bought one. Item 3 purchased!

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Item 3!

Why I’m blogging about this? Because it’s not a one-off. You see, sometime last month we traveled to a neighbouring country. The kids were having such a good time and Daddy had to go do some work in another country,  so we ( I and the kids) lengthened our stay so we could all return to Nigeria at the same time. There was a problem however. This small country didn’t have my infant’s cereals for sale anywhere so we asked Daddy to ship us some, alongside a few other things, from Nigeria before he left for his trip. He asked for a list and I sent this mail:

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How many of the items came? It will take another blogpost to explain. Let’s just say he took the post script seriously enough so my daughter didn’t starve much.