Trump, the American ‘Change’

trump-quote-republicans-are-dumb

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.

hillary-clinton
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.

 

ofada-rice
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.

 

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.

 

haircut
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!

checkers-2
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

Screenshot_2016-08-20-14-20-59

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.

IMG_20160820_134350
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!

IMG_20160820_134451
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!

IMG_20160820_151910
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:

Screenshot_2016-08-20-13-50-09

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t sell your generators yet!

NEPA has been frighteningly constant. Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? Well, it was when it never happened. And now that it’s happening, it takes a conscious effort not to panic. Somewhere in my subconscious, I still feel this a trick. Oh yeah. And when this trick is over, we will be worse off. So, chide me not when I beg NEPA to revert to status quo so that I can have peace of mind rather than this palpitating heart on top 72 hours of uninterrupted power – when I haven’t moved to Aso Villa. Yet.

Since this is a strange situation, I’ve been trying to figure how to control my supply. You see, before now, we take what we are given when they feel gracious enough to supply us. And as such, once power is on, the brain goes into overdrive trying to prioritise chores based on power-dependence. So now that the light is steady, I find myself going round to ensure the water heater is on only for a brief period. Yesterday, I actually turned off my freezer during the day and powered it through the night. It’s called ‘load sharing’ and Ilearnt it from my neighbors in Cotonou.

Freezing fruit and cabbage

This afternoon, on finding that my fruits are freezing in the fridge, I tried to think up the best way to make this power supply work for me and not against me. If you are one who stores fruits in the fridge too you’ll agree frozen watermelon, cucumber and pineapples are no good. So I remembered this knob in the back of the fridge, just by the light. Like every other Nigerian fridge, this knob is set to 7, coldest. So I reduced it to 4.

Then I crossed over to the freezer and tuned the temperature knob on the bottom right to 4 too.

That way, if (more like when) NEPA decides to revert to status quo, I shall not be caught unawares! For now, they are in a race to exhaust my power units purchased since Dec 31, 2015.

Good luck NEPA.

On Brexit and Money Monster

 

stream_img
U.K Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigns.

Did you see David Cameron nearly break down at the end of his speech? I felt really sorry for him.

He had been the ‘Stay’ champion, touring schools in different states across the U.K trying to encourage young people on the merits of staying in the EU. Somehow he got across to this demography but some of the older folks feel differently – as the Brexit vote analysis shows. Such a narrow margin but democracy prevails. Sadly so.

Cameron said he doesn’t see a future for the UK on this path and he can’t lead without a vision (paraphrase).  Now there isn’t anything more astute and honourable than that. He resigned because he is no longer the right person to lead the U.K in this new direction. I was so awed I tweeted, “OMG David Cameron nearly broke down in the last sentences…awww. Where do they sell this ‘resignation pill’ make abroad pple buy come Naija”.

Screenshot from 2016-06-24 10-06-50

Really the West make me think. Honour is more meaningful to them than virginity is to an Asian community. They are an inspiring lot sometimes, many times.

The Western environment allows individual development so that there can be a progressive challenge of the status quo. As a matter of fact new knowledge is very important so they will support researches in science and discoveries in art. You are groomed and nudged to always speak out – bare your mind. In fact the rarer your thought patterns the more likely you are sought for opinions and that is what has built their political landscape.

In the Brexit build up and many TV debates, it was not rare to find people from the same party having opposing views on the matter. I recall particularly the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, advocating that Britain remains in the EU while Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn felt differently. These are major figures from one party.

Screenshot from 2016-06-24 11-39-54
Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan

In Nigeria, APC will say they have met and agreed on a position; so will PDP. Innocuous stands like this don’t allow for intellectual conversations and arguments in our media and extension country. People are not required to think unless you feel spurned enough. And God help you if you have a political affiliation, you will be promptly labeled a black sheep and disowned if DSS or EFCC don’t visit you first. Meanwhile these so-called party positions on any matter isn’t a result of collective thinking or vote of party members. Rather, it’s the position of party stalwarts and sponsors. Sigh. Nigeria.

I just feel the need to make a case for intellectual development and outspokenness in Nigeria. Look at how interesting presidential elections build up in the West. The arguments and conversations make radio and TV a joy to listen or watch (Trump is another topic, biko). We really need to start looking inwards and try to raise our children better-stimulate their minds early and let them bare it.

Yesterday I saw the ‘Money Monster’ movie featuring George Clooney.

George Clooney Money Monster
George Clooney in Money Monster

An aggrieved young man found his way into a TV studio while a live show was airing. He held the show host (George Clooney) at gunpoint, wore him a suicide vest and demanded to speak with the CEO of a company whose stocks crashed and rendered him bankrupt. He got his wish eventually and confronted the CEO so brazenly about his lost $60,000.

Jack Onell Money Monster
Bankrupt gunman seizes TV anchor in Money Monster

Recast this scene in real life Nigeria. A poor ‘nobody’ meets Otedola, Dangote, Ambode or even his LG chairman. This average person CAN NOT have a conversation with any of these people even if one of their factory trucks just killed his only child! It is sad. The complex – under the stupid guise of humility, religion, culture or respect is EVIL!. We are a generation of YesMen. Forget the social media noise, half of us cannot confront in real life the people we spend day and night cursing on Twitter! Very very sad reality.

It’s time we began to speak up. But before then, let’s read up perhaps we’ll catch up. And remember, question EVERYTHING – in your head first, and don’t stop till you find answers.

thinking
Yes, think. That’s what a brain’s for.

Use your mobile data wisely.

 

Oliseh, the drama king

Sunday Oliseh
Nigeria’s Coach Sunday Oliseh

That Oliseh would open his mouth to blame his failure on these conjectures calls for a mental evaluation of the coach. Dude was essentially running a one-man show because he did not trust his staff! Who does that for a team sport and smack in the middle of a competition?

Whoever knew that my Feb 8 blog would ride on last week’s concern. Well, ex- Nigerian international and current Super Eagles coach – Sunday Oliseh, has elected to demonstrate, rather than write, his own episode of How to Run Mad Quickly!

Famous for his temper, Oliseh resumed coaching the Nigerian side in 2015 and his first assignment was to lead the team to CHAN 2016. Disappointingly, Nigeria crashed out in the first round; and expectedly, there’s been a barrage of excuses from the coach, chief among which is that he and the players are being owed. Oliseh iced the excuse cake with a melt down yesterday which he videotaped and posted (and later deleted) on his YouTube Channel.

The Vanguard explains that the coach suffered spiritual inhibitions and was the subject of various metaphysical attacks (occultic manipulations)  – real and imagined, actual and attempted, hence the cause of his paranoia. Oliseh was so tormented he suspected and accosted his back room staff, going as far as telling some to desist from shaking his hands.

This grand illusions ensnared Oliseh and cost him an opportunity to make a mark. There are witches and wizards everywhere and especially here. For hoots sake, this is Africa the religion headquarters! That Oliseh would open his mouth to blame his failure on these conjectures calls for a mental evaluation of the coach. Dude was essentially running a one-man show because he did not trust his staff! Who does that for a team sport and smack in the middle of a competition? Little wonder, we crashed out so soon.

A word for the coach: Oliseh, every level has its own devils. If you can not stand the heat in the kitchen, be gone already. Who coaches from diaspora?