What you have over them

Nigeria is a nation of unequally distributed resources. This is one of the most bandied about truths of the day. In fact it cannot be overstated. Our middle class is becoming almost eroded. Now we mostly have two groups. The rich and the poor. With the middle either rising to join the rich or collapsing to join the poor.

The question we don’t ask is where am I? Because we all know where we belong. Most of us are either in the lower rungs of middle class, hanging on by a hair’s breadth or outrightly poor. The question which we ask is what do we have? Is it enough to get us out of these depths we inhabit? Do we in fact have anything? The gaping gulf between the rich and the poor and near lack of a middle class can in fact lead us to believe that our situation is so much worse and we do indeed have nothing. How do I mean?

To illustrate. A half decade or so back, I was attending my first student law dinner. It was being held in Eko hotel. You all know the biggest, priciest hotel in the city of Lagos. And we students were coming all the way from the less glamorised mainland. There were white coaster buses to convey students enmasse to the venue. At the time I was unperturbed by the distinctions of class. So I took one of those buses even though it’s not what one of the ‘bigger boys’ would do. The bigger boys would go in a private cab or even their own car. I was not perturbed by this. Though I was aware of it.

Perhaps it is inaccurate to say I was not perturbed, being aware. For only in total ignorance can true dispassion exist. So it’s more accurate to say I was not overly perturbed. Perturbation grew however as our bus moved into the choicier parts of the state and choicest parts of this unbalanced nation. Luxury cars the likes of which I only saw in movies drove past me while I was in the bus. I began to feel less comfortable about taking the bus, about how low the coaster bus was and how wonderful it must feel being in one of those cars.

At some point I had begun to feel ‘oppressed’ and totally miserable about my ‘condition’ and think about how unfair life was. Then it began to rain. While it was raining, there was a mild holdup on my side of the road. And a truck-pusher, one of those miserable souls who engaged in the most strenuous jobs in less than wonderful conditions for the most menial pay did just what they were known for. He pushed his truck passed my bus. I, sitting by the window caught a good glimpse. Bare chested, his muscles strained with the load he was pushing. It rained on him. Grimy water on his skin from what must be a combination of dirt, sweat and the sky’s liquid endorsement.

Here I was feeling bad about being in a bus. Then the guy pushing his truck in the rain passes. Oh I almost forgot, there was a younger person, little more than a child atop the heap he was pushing in the rain. Perhaps he was a partner, to switch and take turns with the current pusher when he tired. The upper part of his body was unclothed too and I could see where his nutrition might need to be augmented. So here I am feeling low because of the sight of people driving in luxury cars. Then the truck pusher passes. And I wonder how they must feel seeing those luxury cars. If there’s a wide gap between me and the luxury car drivers, what’s the gap between the truck pushers and them? You can fit a good sized planet, maybe Saturn into the gap.

This is to illustrate that I understand the gap, between the rich and the poor. I know this not from this incident alone of course but from numerous other instances, both experienced and observed. But despite all of this, i realised something; everyone had something. Nobody has nothing. On the road that day, someone had a Benz quite alright. And two other people had something even though nothing on that level. One had a truck to push, and the other had a bus to ride in. Your eyes must be widening in incredulity at his. But yes. You must have heard the saying that life is unfair, but it’s fair because it’s unfair for everybody. It is well, sort of true.

But be calm. The aim of this article is not to dismiss your inadequacies as irrelevant or belittle your pain and lack but to teach you to focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have. And when you focus on what you don’t have, you do so only to perceive that not having something as something that you have. You see, I believe that everyone has something. No matter how minute seeming, how inconsequential it may be, we all have something that gives us an advantage over the next person. Even having nothing is an advantage. And that’s what we all have. An advantage. Of course some advantages are bigger than some, more glaring, easier to exploit. But I never said we all have equal advantages. Only that we have some.

If two men stood to do battle, one was bigger and the other smaller, the bigger would have more mass, stronger blows, usually. Be able to use his bulk as a weapon more. But the smaller would be less a target, probably be quicker as he was moving less balk. You see where I’m going? Let’s take some of our favourite celebrities as cases in point. WizKid and Davido. One born poor, the other rich. The rags to riches story Vs the riches to fame story. People often argue who is doing better. Lots of people say Davido is. I think WizKid is. But that’s not the point. The point is that even those who say that Davido is doing better, agree that Wizkid’s rags to riches story is more impressive. That simple. His past poverty in this case is Wizkid’s advantage. No matter how much better Davido eventually does, we will always point to that part of Wizkid’s life and say he made it from nothing. So he can never really lose if there were some sort of contest between the two which there probably is. His poverty, his suffering, is an advantage now. If someone had told him back then that he had something over Davido, or any stunningly rich scion of a politician, would he have believed? If we had told him his poverty, his suffering, his uncertain chances of success was an advantage he would have cursed us. But I am telling you now. And try not to curse me.

So there we go. Poverty can be an advantage too. And riches, Davido’s financially advantageous life and story is a disadvantage in this case. You may not think so with all the screaming OBO all over the place. But I tell you it is. And even he must admit to himself even if when alone, in his bed at night, away from all his fans and friends that support him, that he does indeed admire his rival Wizkid’s grass to grace life. Because it is truly impressive. You see what I mean? Your disadvantages are advantages. And your advantages are a disadvantage too. So life is somewhat fair. We all have both. God in his or, nature in her own unique way has gifted us weapons to fight life’s battles. Another case in point is our popular football stars, C.Ronaldo and Messi.

I am not a huge football fan. But I hear the first is hardworking and the other is more talented. I hear the first is doing better. Let’s go with that for the sake of this discussion. He, CR is less talented. Yet he’s doing better. Because he works harder. Why does he work harder? Because I assume, he’s less talented. In this case, his less talent is an advantage. And it’s getting him further. But I am sure if he were given a choice at birth, he would choose the most talent, never understanding that less is an advantage that could propel him further. We all fail to see that not only obvious advantages are advantages. If we only saw what we had as an advantage perhaps we would seek and succeed in exploiting it to such. Some play better when they are losing, fight better when the odds are against them. Because being down is an advantage for them. In those cases it would not help them to start off well. And they have learnt to exploit that advantage

I will use a less popular or glamorous case in point. Myself. I was born with chronic sinusitis. As a result I was called names as a child and shunned almost into adulthood. This contributed or even resulted in me being a loner and introvert. I was my own friend. Me and just my books. I told myself jokes. Jokes I heard from a myriad characters. I conversed with them. Wittier and more knowledgeable conversations than most people around had anyway. I loved them, these characters. They were friends, and brothers and lovers. And here I am. The depth of thought, that comes from introspection which I have, do many who did not go through what I did have it? No. Because they lacked my advantage. They didn’t have what I had. Sinusitis, is what I had over them. It wasn’t obvious to me then and I am sure I wouldn’t have appreciated it if I was told then. But it is now and I do appreciate it. I do often say that pain is my oldest friend. It is not an empty metaphor. And I do believe that if I were divested of that pain I have I would indeed miss it. I would have lost something I had, my advantage.

Take a light skinned and dark skinned girl who both want to be models. Someone wants both a light skinned model and a dark one. You just need to find the place where what you have is an advantage. Or create such a place if you don’t have it. Look at he guy pushing a truck on the road at the beginning of my article. He doesn’t have a Benz or even a bus. But he has his muscles. Supposing he became a bouncer, or an MMA fighter or entered the World’s Strongest Man competition. He would have a chance to win fame and money which neither I nor the guy driving the Benz would have. I do admit it would likely be a longer and more difficult journey for him. But it would be more the glory and respect for it. That’s two things he has over us already. Muscles and respect for making it despite his situation.

Recently a cripple graduated from the faculty of law, University of Lagos. He also went through a lot of financial difficulties asides being a cripple. On graduation, he was widely applauded. News websites carried it, and he was summoned to the National Assembly and honoured by the senators. Nevermind that they are corrupt individuals and reprobates. It is an honour nonetheless for the position they occupy and not their persons. Thousands of people graduate yearly. Why was he singled out? You see, his condition was an advantage.

So everybody has something. Even if it’s pain, poverty, sickness. Riches, good health, strength. It’s all an advantage and a disadvantage too. I am sure the crippled guy wouldn’t choose the advantage he had if he could. Most of us would not choose the advantages we have. Wizkid would likely choose riches early on, C.Ronaldo more talent, me, good lungs. I am not saying ours are the most fantastic. Sickness, poverty and the like. That is not what I am saying. But since we can’t choose, why not have the mindset that what we have is all well and good and be happy for what it’s possible to get out of it.

You may not be convinced yet. So I will tell you something about humour. I can identify two kinds of humour The first is educative and witty. Clever, based off knowledge that is not very common. A reference to some book, or piece of history or play on words. I call this clever comedy. The second is insultive and crass. It has to little to do with impartation of knowledge and hardly makes use of anything educative. Not to be hateful of one’s own but I find most of our comedians are the latter. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condemning them. Their audience is largely uneducated so they are merely doing what will work for them. What I am trying to point at is the difference between the two. Each has an advantage over the other, no matter which you prefer. There are the ones who make jokes on CNN, talking about economic and political issues relevant to advanced nations. They can be considered well educated, some of them are authors and academics. Then there is the other groups that make what I would like to call dumb jokes.

The dumb jokers make insultive jokes, and are usually offensive and sexist. So the clever jokers have something over the dumb ones. Their cleverness. Do the ones who can’t do that type of comedy focus on their inadequacies and go home? No. They take their ignorance, their lack of education and all the things that makes one capable of making those kind of jokes and do something with it. They can’t write books, talk about world economy and politics. They are crass and vulgar. But that’s an advantage. They found a way to harness what they had. I may not admire that kind of comedy but I admire the comedians. If that makes sense.

In Nigeria now, comedy is an industry and lots of these people are well to do, having gotten fame and money. Nevermind that their jokes might be harmful to young minds. The point is, everybody has something. Even the uneducated has something over the educated. The dumb has something over the clever. The one considered ugly has something over the one considered good looking and vice versa. There’s this Emmanuella comedian. I hear she’s been signed by Disney. I don’t particularly find her funny but that’s an admirable thing there. And while she’s no Miley Cyrus I do find her accomplishments rather impressive. There’s also the Broda Shagi fellow whom I rather like. He’s no Stephen Colbert but I find his act rather creative and his jokes which occasionally touch on our own economic and political situation insightful. So there you go.

Recently I read about a writer. She has an illness. A sleep disorders that makes her half asleep, half awake and drowsy most of the time. She’s susceptible to nightmares and hallucinations. The lines between reality and dreams can be blurred for her. It’s a terrible thing for sure, When you think of it. She doesn’t have control of her life, body, mind. But that was later. The first thing I thought was advantage. Where they said hallucinations I thought visions. Nightmares could be source material. Inspiration. But no need for me to be presumptuous and tell her how to harness what she has. For she already has. She is a brilliant, accomplished writer that I aspire to be like. You see she has something over me. I don’t aspire to what she has but I aspire to do what she has done with what she has with what I have. So whenever you see someone who has what you don’t no need to envy them. Merely strive more to utilize what you do have to the best, to be the Wizkid’s to their Davido, the Ronald to their Messi and vice versa.

I am sorry if I appear to be focusing on a particular group of people. Those with less talents, money and obvious things. This article is indeed more for them. They are the ones in doubt of what they have or that they have anything. For the rest, it’s a bit more obvious what they have over the others. It is indeed true what they say that life is unfair, but it’s fair because it’s unfair for everybody. Not entirely true but true nonetheless, on some level. You have an advantage over the next person by virtue of existing differently from them. They may be cleverer. If so then they are not dumber. You are and being dumb is something they lack and which you have over them. There’s a place dumb people are celebrated and they can’t excel there as much as you can. They may be richer, but they can’t be poorer too. They may be healthier but not sicker at the same time. That’s what you have over them. Even poverty, sickness and lack of knowledge or education can be an advantage as much as a disadvantage if we but view it so and treat it so.

So that’s it. All who are groaning and in pain, go ye and bask in the glory of what you have. Whenever you think of how unequally distributed resources are in the nation, remember this. When you are pushing your truck through the muck of life and the rain is beating down on your soul and you see that bright blue Benz shining it’s light on your pain, don’t feel bad. Just remember what you have over them. The guy on the road pushing his truck that night, I never quite forgot him. I think about him from time to time. I hope he gets to read this someday.

P.s: This article in saying that we all have something is not ignorant of the extreme cases of poverty in the nation, of people that lack basic amenities or a way to live and cannot even utilise in any way what they have. It is in fact speaking to the more general cases who though disadvantaged have a way to use or harness their disadvantages. As for the first set I mentioned, may God and men who have the means come to their aid. As they say, ‘Cow wey no get tail, na God dey help am.’

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How to Win

By Donald PenPrince

So I have this friend. He works for one of these tech companies in Silicon Valley. He’s a programmer. He earns thousands of dollars yearly, drives a Benz and lives in a house that’s the size of the one my father built after working all his life till retirement in one of the best oil companies. This guy is in his early 20s meanwhile. He’s ‘ballin’, doing all the fascinating things. I know what you want to say, he’s into internet fraud(yahoo yahoo) or something sinister. No he’s not. The idea that every rich Nigerian is, is wrong. Some of us can be smart, clever innovators.

So he’s smart. I know because I lived with him for a long time. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people I know. I even wrote a story about him.

So before Silicon Valley, before the Benz, before the house and beautiful girls, he was studying Forensic science and doing tutorials for white chicks abroad, also heavily in debt. And before this he was living with me in Abule Oja and we were drinking garri for days and brainstorming on how to change the world while struggling to get by. We had to share clothes and a couple other things. And no, not girls you pervert.

So I am opening an article about winning with this guy’s story. Is he winning? That’s subjective. But most of you would agree that a guy who drives a Benz, lives in a huge house and goes around with beautiful women is. Me, the part I pick is that he’s doing something we always talked about, making money from his trade, his craft, something he always dreamed about. And that’s what I consider winning. Doing the things you always dreamed of. So long as your dreams are worthwhile. Also of note is that he’s very young. Still in his early 20s now. And that’s young by Nigerian standards. I mean, we develop late here. Early 20s is not a bad time to be writing Jamb so I think he’s doing particularly well. I’m sure you do too. I mean, the Benz.

So me and this dude are still in touch. Still close. We talk all the time, he sends me money every now and then. And I asked him one day. How do you win? How did you? And the answer he gives me is one sentence; find something to do, start it and keep at it. What??!! That it? Too simple. It sounded nonsensical to me who was looking for a magic-elixir answer then. It Sounded like typical Naija people telling you how they made it. ‘The Lord did it.’ But was that what he was doing? No. He was telling me the simple truth. It was a bit more complicated. But he wasn’t one for many words. I had to break it down over the years and I am now trying to explain what I got in so many words.

Find something to do, start it and keep at it. That time I thought, wasn’t I already doing something? So I just had to keep as I was already doing, nothing new? I wasn’t happy with that. I wanted to be told what to do. A specific action that would take weeks and then I would ‘blow.’ When this my guy bought his Benz, not his first car by then, the caption that went with his Instagram post of it was the famous Drake line ‘all it took was patience.’ Is that really all it takes? Mostly. If you have found what to do and started it. Not magic or secret wisdom. Sure those help too. If you can pay the price for magic. Even secret wisdom takes time to discern.

So this my guy. I’ll tell you a bit about his background in an attempt to disambiguate his answer on how to win. His dad was a Shell worker. They lived in Shell estate. One of the things he had access to early was the internet. He spent a lot of time on the internet. At a time when the internet was an extreme luxury. You had to spend thousands for a few hours and go for overnight browsing in cafes. Before then even. You needed millions to set up a browsing cafe. Most of us saved to use the internet then and only for a few mins. He had unlimited internet this early. The results, like I said he was very knowledge. He was also very savvy. He understood trends. He didn’t read books so much but he was very knowledgeable as I said. He knew a lot about everything and could give you indepth info on almost anything

He was a science student and I was the arts, the writer. But I recall he had more technical knowledge of writing and arts than I did. I think if he wanted to write he could have gone further than me. Not written better but gone further. Like I said he was knowledgeable. He understood trends. Not just trends. Things generally. Indepth understanding of .how they worked. But that wasn’t his biggest asset. I think the greatest thing he got was learning how to learn things from the Internet. This dude could teach himself anything from the internet. Tutorials and what not. He learnt how to produce before production was hot. He made beats, recorded songs himself, shot videos using a small camera we bought, learnt editing, edited them, learnt promotion and put out these videos which had thousands of views.

He also learnt programming, before it was a thing. Before this, he had this music database site where he uploaded thousands of gb of data daily. You see he had found something, his thing early on and had been doing it from the start. His thing was tech. I remember this idea he had. He said it would revolutionize the music industry. So he drew a plan we carried our bags. We were going to see the people who would make it work. Just like that. We walked into the offices of Kennis at the time. We said we had a plan to change the music industry. So they ushered us in. The board of DaarSat were having a meeting. And they heard us out. And they said what they thought of the idea, what they liked or didn’t like about it, what would make it work and why they wouldn’t buy into it.

The point is, they listened. All these important people whose time was worth millions. Billions maybe. It was a feasible idea. Something he cooked up randomly in his room while drinking garri, his favourite food at the time. I was already a fan before now. But I tell you my mind was blown. This was only one of his myriad ideas. This guy had greatness in his head. Anyway, before the DaarSat office, we had visited Coson, NBC office and a couple other places with our idea to change the music world. Somebody had directed us to somebody who directed us to somebody else who directed us to somebody else. It was the same thing after the DaarSat office and Kennis. Eventually, he abandoned the idea. Exams were coming up. He wasn’t ready to go Zuckerberg or Bill Gates yet and drop out. So we quit chasing the idea and went back to Yaba. After exams he found out some foreigner had gotten a contract with the government to implement the same plan. Someone he couldn’t compete with. He wrote to the person saying he wanted to work with him and all. But that never happened. It was at this point that he decided he wanted to travel abroad and Nigeria wasn’t the place for him. Whoever was slated to implement that idea still hasn’t done so now by the way.

So I am trying to demystify my friend’s mysterious answer on how to win with all these stories. I’m the many words guy like I said. Do you get it? Let me tell you something about my own self briefly to buttress the point I am trying to make with these stories. I am a writer. Lately I feel like I am making some headway. Won a few awards, worth hundreds of thousands of naira, been shortlisted, longlisted for several more, been published both home and Internationally, in some of the best magazines in the world and paid unbelievably well for it. I am now angling for some of the hugest awards and my seven figure deal. It could be 8 but seven is ok too. I’m not high-minded, don’t hope for too much. Now this is the current and future position. Before this I was a readaholic. My own story is not so fantastic as my friend’s. But here it is.

I grew up in the library. I and my siblings. We lived next to the local library. So we used to get dropped off there daily when our parents were busy and picked up when the library closed. Then we borrowed books to take home and continue the reading at home. Before long we exhausted the library’s novels. My elder brother started reading the encyclopedias. He read them page by page, volume 1-10. He’s doing his PhD on a scholarship in the UK now bdw. A scholarship worth thousands of pounds. Anyway that’s his story. This is mine. I focused on fiction, novels. After this my siblings went to a boarding school, Kings College in Lagos and I was home alone in Warri. My parents wanted me close and on hand because of my fragile health. So I was lonely. What did I do with that? I read. My brothers used to come back every holiday with dozens of second hand novels they bought from Yaba and CMS. These were what I read after they had gone back. I usually finished them long before the next holiday and eagerly awaited the next batch. I loved my brothers but at some point, I started to look forward to the books more than their coming. The times they didn’t get too many books I wondered why they even came.

So that’s the abbreviated story of what spurred my writing. Books were to me what internet was to my guy. How do you win again? You find something, not just anything but something you have flair for, are good at, and you do it. I had to tell all these stories to be able to explain it this way. My guy is a programmer, I’m a writer. You see, in everyone’s childhood, upbringing, experiences is something he or she has been exposed to that gives him an edge, that prepares him, confers on him the ability to win. You have to find it, and do it. For my guy it was the internet. He was exposed to internet. For me it was books. Different people have different things. It may be growing up in a family of lawyers. It may be having a social media account with thousands of followers. It may be your looks. Though I don’t advice that. You will just be hooker or aristo 😃. Just kidding. There is modelling. I had this friend who could draw. She became a fashion designer and is featured on @asoebibella regularly. It could be your ability to run, jump, converted into sports.

For some it’s the ability to fight. They become martial artists, then gymnasts or gym instructors. You have to find the thing/things you are uniquely suited for and start them. Don’t do the most lucrative thing or the fanciest or the flashiest or the coolest. Do that thing that is yours. It could be comedy. It could be jokes. It could be acting stupid on social media No matter how good I was a writer, how much it benefited me, My friend never attempted to be one. It wasn’t his thing. And no matter how fascinated I was by tech I never tried to be a programmer. It just wasn’t for me. Everyone has a thing they can do well with minimal effort. Better than everything else. Most people jump on the bandwagon and end up jumping out after a short period. You find that thing, that is yours and you start it. So you find, you start, and you keep at it. That’s what my guy said right? Yes. We have explored two. Finding and starting. The last part is the hardest. Staying the course. We mentioned how jumping on the bandwagon is bad. This is why. If it’s not your thing, if you don’t have flair, love for it, you won’t stay the course. If you don’t find it easier than everything else you will quit. It was their thing, that’s why they could say all it took was patience. But that’s not entirely true. It actually took blood, sweat, tears and other fluids. They just didn’t know when they were bleeding.

About the last part, keeping at it, after finding and starting it, that’s the key part. You see even if it’s your thing, you love it, you have, flair, talent, whatever, when you start a thing, you start as novice. I don’t care how good you are. It’s time that hones that ability. You gotta do it for a long time. Then you start to adapt, adjust to the ways that work. No matter how dumb you are, if you do a thing long enough you will get good at it. I have been writing for 15 years plus. But my actually sensible part of my career is like a year old. If I had quit even two years ago I would not have found what I did or gotten to where I am. That’s where staying the course is important. My guy was into tech a dozen years ago. But he started making headway a few years ago. So after finding and starting, you gotta stay the course. Even when nothing good appears to he coming out. You are learning, growing into an eventual winner. That time will refine your craft, help it adapt, evolve.

So that’s it. We are not billionaires or anything. You can go read a Donald Trump or some other financial book written by some rich guy and I am sure they have other things to say. But if your father doesn’t have millions of dollars to fund your ideas and government connect to get contract in a nation that’s the world’s biggest economy then this is how you win. Is it guaranteed? No. That we will all die is the only thing guaranteed. But as near as I have discerned, and I have discerned., observed a lot, it’s the way that’s worked for most number of people in my, our shoes. And that’s all we can offer. Not the best way but the way that’s been tried the most and worked the most. And if you want to win, isn’t it sensible to play the hand that’s won the most? So that’s it. Go ye out there, find your thing, and win.

 

You can live, now

So I am sitting down in one restaurant like this in Abule Oja where I went to eat unnecessarily expensive food for 600 and drink bottled water 100 naira just so I can charge my phone. Because, electricity has become like menstruation, coming once a month. My regards to Ambode. No hate speech because that one carries death penalty and I am not ready for that yet. In fact you can see the title of this article.

So anyway I am listening to old jams I have on my playlist. And the Live your life song by TI and Rihanna song comes on. And what TI is saying and a couple things I have been thinking about lately propel me to write this article. So the song starts and TI does his shutouts and all and says something.

Be thankful for the life you got.’

I know you have heard that a lot. From pastors and motivational speakers and your mothers. But it goes on

Stop looking at what you ain’t got and start being thankful for what you do got.’

That’s the part I found poignant. And what I want to add to that, even though I am not a super rich and successful rapper and I’m just a humble writer is

Make the best life out of what you have.’

In other words, live your life, now. Or as another rapper, Nas put it in his song, Live, now. You might wonder why I am making so much of this. Several things that have been happening for a while and some more recent events made me really think of it and realise lots of us aren’t living. And even more worrying is the reason.

So I have this friend, who hasn’t had a girlfriend in like 5 years. This is not a problem normally if he didn’t want one. But he did. I have nothing against young people without girlfriends believe me. If you have your reasons. Perhaps, religious, or otherwise. But that wasn’t why. This guy was a rapper. He loved women and girls. In all shapes and sizes and colours. He talked about them all day everyday for five years now. And I am forced to listen. I believe that gives me the locus standi to write about him.

So he loves females. Human females but has never had a relationship with any in as long as I can remember. I ask him why one day and he tells me the reason. I can’t believe it even though I have heard it from several other people. The reason is ‘he doesn’t have money.’

And that is the problem. Not just him but a lot of people believe that you need not just money, but a lot of money to be in love or have a romantic relationship. Not just relationships, but everything. A lot of Nigerians have this fallacious, idea. And yes it is wrong, false and as I said before, fallacious. Look at the girlfriend issue. There’s a girl/female for everyone/situation/condition/creature/person. I know broker people than him with girlfriends. Myself I didn’t get one because I struck gold and found a lot of money. I mean I still don’t have a lot of money now.

You see, he could have gotten a girlfriend that wasn’t materialistic. He could have gotten a rich girlfriend that didn’t require him to spend on her. There are a number of inconceivable ways around the issue. And don’t say all girls are materialistic because that is not true. And on rich or independent girls being hard to get, being the provider is even harder. It’s one or the other. So if you can’t get one, you can get the other. That’s the beauty of life. There’s always a way to get what you want, to live.

Don’t get this wrong. This article is not about girlfriends or getting one. You don’t have to unless you want to. And that is what this guy wants. But he won’t live his life because is convinced that he needs a lot of money to do so. He has given up on himself and won’t make any effort, even try. This reflects the attitude of most young Nigerian men.

I was talking with another friend, almost the same day. And he said randomly that one of his dreams was skydiving and ocean diving(whatever that is really called). So he says this is his dream, and one of the things he really wants to do and he will do it someday when he has ‘a lot of money.’ You see what I am saying? Someday when he has A LOT OF MONEY. That right there is the problem. This one too has given up on himself without even attempting to live his dream or life. He has convinced himself that there is no way to do it without plenty of money. This is horrible. He has never tried to find out. I mean it may be expensive. I don’t know. But if it was my dream I would find out, the price of diving gear, parachute, paying an instructor. For all he knows, these things cost under a hundred thousand naira, money I know for sure he spends on things he doesn’t want as much as he wants this.

So like I said, he might be able to get these things at second hand value, if he can’t get new, I don’t know. The point is, he never even tried. This like I said is the mentality of most Nigerian youths. It’s a very materialistic society and this is being encouraged by all of us unconsciously with our expectations and attitudes. A lot if us have convinced ourselves of the false fact that we need plenty of money for everything when in fact we really don’t.

You see, there are myriad ways to do/achieve what you want without ‘plenty of money.’ It merely requires that you may have to work, save, plan, hustle, be dexterous or creative. You could downsize your goals. For example, instead of ocean-diving, you can go river diving(if that’s a thing. I’m no expert. Like I said, that’s not my thing) So you can downsize, you can still do what you want, though you might have to sacrifice some other thing or things. You might have to compromise, say forego having flashy clothes or a gadget for something else you want.

There’s a company somewhere in the world offering a discount for that service you want. There’s a person somewhere waiting to discard that item you crave so badly. You just have to search, find a way to get it, live. And even if you don’t, you gotta try. TRY. That’s the point. Don’t give up on yourself, even if the Nigerian government has given up on you.

So whether by dexterousness, finding discounts, saving, compromise, sacrifice, downsizing, there’s a way out there for you to live your dream/life. You really do not need ‘plenty of money’ to do so. Who is going to give you plenty of money anyway? White people who believe they have met an African Prince? Naa. Don’t do that. Everywhere I go I see that most of us have convinced ourselves we need plenty money to live. And this is a very harmful, dangerous mentality.

Dangerous? Harmful? Yes. How so? You see firstly you will die brokenhearted because plenty money will never come from anywhere. You keep hearing people not doing anything saying life is turn by turn and ‘their turn’ to have money will come. But that’s not how it works and their turn never comes. They die having never lived even for one day. If a broken heart was all that was involved I wouldn’t worry. But these people that don’t live are a danger not just to themselves with their mentality but to others as well.

There are a lot of frustrated people being horrible out there. The waitress that gives you and your gf attitude when you go to eat because they think you are enjoying and blame you for their not doing so. The civil servant who thinks you are a spoilt kid because you are simply well dressed. Bro and sis we are all just civil servants and waiters. Some people just want to live. So you owe it to yourself to live, and to others to not be a wet blanket and piss on them while they are having their much worked for life.

If broken heart and disgruntlement was where it ended it would still be nothing. But the danger is still greater. When most people have spent their lives having done none of the things they wanted and with the firm conviction that they need lots of money to do so, they become desperate. So time is going. You haven’t done anything because you need ‘lots of money’. you start to try to acquire that ‘lots of money’ fast. Before you die, you gotta live. So you will do anything to live. ‘Yahoo yahoo’, MMM and other ponzi schemes and fraudulent activities, things that will hurt both yourself, your friends, family and society.

All this, starting with a simple false but innocent thought that ‘plenty money’ is the crux of life. Sure there are things we can all use plenty money for. Me, I would like to propose with a Bentley, bring Taylor swift to sing at my wedding and go to the moon for honeymoon. Believe me people are doing that now. Out of this world huh? I know right. But if I don’t earn plenty of money, I will still find a way to do the things I want, in the best way I can, with what I have.

This really doesn’t mean YOLO. Don’t die trying to live. Quite the contrary, live the best you can without dying to do so. And nothing will kill you faster than trying to speedily acquire ‘plenty money.’ It’s counterproductive really, if you think of it, a snake biting its own tail. Some of the things we even think we want or need to be happy, we don’t really want. But you will never know if you don’t try on some level, measure to live that thing you want. So in the end you could be trying to steal, cheat, get plenty money fast to do something you don’t really want. Or want as much as you think you do. I mean, what’s the difference between the guy who goes to a classy hotel or restaurant on his birthday and the rich yahoo boy who lives there? It’s the same experience. And sometimes one day is all you want, can stand. But you’ll never know if you don’t try that one day.

So pls brethren. Go therefore, and live. For your sakes, your friends, family’s, nation and single white people searching for love’s sake, live. Live now, in the way that you can. Live before you die and don’t die or kill to live.

Against All Odds

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I am not a deeply religious person. At least I don’t think I am. And I don’t think one could be without knowing. So it’s safe to say I’m not. whether it’s safe to be not is another matter. This is a personal account, not a sermon so rest easy is what I’m trying to say.

Nevertheless I do believe there’s some guiding force in the universe that’s watched over me, made sure I thrived, even if not thrived, survived through harrowing experiences, and against all odds.

The things that convince me so are several. Once I had a motor accident far from my home and was bleeding out by the roadside. My hapless crying mother helpless, the car ruined and passers-bys uninterested. I would surely have died ’cause as my mother recalled there was a lot of blood mixed with white stuff that looked like brains(she must have paid attention in biology class) then all of a sudden, my neighbour, from my far away home showed up impossibly, from nowhere to take me to the hospital and save me. Greatly coincidental his being there at the time. This ensured I survived against all odds.

Separate from this, the times I have been in mortal danger are countless. Four other surgeries, half of which went bad. A world of pain, and lots of blood. But I survived all these when a small thing as overdose of anaesthesia could have killed me. But I survived, each time, against all odds.

Not all my hardships have put me in mortal danger. On the eve of my post ume exam to gain admission into Unilag, my father was kidnapped and tortured, to death. I cannot overemphasize the confusion, grief and senselessness it threw me and my family Into. However I wrote the exam barely a week after this, and that year the cutoff for law was at an all time high, 72. But I was admitted, to study law, against all odds.

I applied for a job recently and arrived wet, late, dirty and without my C.V to an abysmal interview. And I got the job. Somehow, someway, against all odds. I assure you, I didn’t know anybody there. I know this may not sway the agnostics, or the atheists. But there’s definitely something here.

There are a whole paragraphs I backspaced from this account for being too personal for the public ear. Happenings that firmly convince me there’s something. Perhaps someday I will edit this post and add them, but today I will skip the telling for the time is not right.

Of course it could all be a coincidence. Afteral there are lucky, hardy people. But is it their own luck or hardiness that keeps them going? Or are there gods, devils and angels watching over us, ensuring some light illuminates the next step on our nighted path? I choose to believe in the latter.

To whatever obstacle may seek to bar my way, I have thrived, and survived before, and should you go on to set yourself against me, as an obstacle in my path, I will likely survive again, as I have before, against all odds. The question now is have you survived the odds I have? Can you successfully pit yourself against me? Even if the odds are in your favour, remember I have survived before, against all odds.

To those who walk beside me, may the odds be ever in your favour. But should they prove to be not, then look to whatever it is that you believe in. Luck, hardiness, favour, grace, God, gods, devils, demons, angels or even the X-men to guide you and survive. Survive, against all odds.

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Things I learnt in 2015

This might be coming a bit late, considering that this is already the second month of 2015. But you know what they say, ‘better late than never.’ Though never late is better. One of the things I learnt last year.
Just kidding. I learnt that a long time ago. 🙂

So I learnt myriads of things this year. And had a host of experiences. Some things I learnt anew, others I knew already were reinforced. But I didn’t just learn for all life is addition and subtraction and Life the great mathmatician took some things away too. My solid belief in some things were shaken.

Chief amongst the things I experienced was love. It is a confusing emotion to say the least. See my poem Crush for more on love. It can leave you with dual sensations. Blood rushing through your skull, and a fierce pounding in your chest that urges you to move, to act, or it can encompass you in a blanketing wave of peace and calm.

I learnt many things about it. It is fierce and strengthening. Can give you power, make you bold enough to sacrifice anything, brave any fire. But it also leaves you open, and vulnerable. Places you at the mercy of the object of your love. It is terribly powerful, an avalanche that can bury mountains. Yet incredibly soft, a trembling flame that the slightest breath will snuff out. It must in this case be cradled and cared for till it’s a blazing inferno again. But careful lest the roaring fire incinerate you.

I learnt about triumph and defeat. They are things that are not quite decided by effort alone. While it is good to abhore inaction and applaud effort, it is also good to remember that failure does not only stem from inaction or poor action. Neither does triumph from action or right action. So easy with the berating, same with the back pats. All we can do is keep trying.

Apart from these, I also learnt about people. As with love, people are two sided, double edged. They also affect you in dual ways. They will cause you pain and they will bring you joy. You cannot exclude the one. These two emotions they will bring you, even without meaning to. Sometimes their pain will bring you joy, and their joy will bring you pain. In this way, even your bitterest enemies affect you. But it is what they bring you knowingly that matters. Those who cause you pain with intent are a no no. Those who brought you joy, intendedly, rewarded in kind.

All will cause you pain though, some intentionally, most unintentionally, as you will to others. This can be done away with. It is intent that counts.

I also learnt that beauty and the beast is one person. If you are lucky you will find that one person who will be your beauty and your beast. The beauty you will love and even the beast you should understand for it is something we all have buried in us. Those who accept the beauty in you but reject the beast are to be shunned and shown a place to satisfy their cravings not for people but for sweets. For people, real people are like beer; bitter-sweet.

On life I learnt that we run from battles. There are those that would have killed us and those that would have made us heroes. But the difference between the two is unknowable. Keep guessing but never beat yourself up too badly when you guess wrong.

We keep acting out our script. Sometimes afraid to act. someone may be watching. But it is your life, not their movie.

I learnt that  Brandon Sanderson is the greatest writer in the world.

I learnt about self. And it was perhaps my most important lesson. The thought that we are infallibly good or irredeemably evil is a most destructive illusion. One that will either strip us of self worth and damn us in our own eyes or have us strutting about like arrogant peacocks firmly assured of our nonexistent perfection. There is no depth man cannot sink to, and no height he cannot rise to. So constant watching and constant moving will serve to put us in a position that is best for us.

In summary I will say I loved this year. I hated too. But the moments of love far outstripped the hate. And I know which I consciously sought. And though the other reared its ugly head, I know which shone through. In the end. I lived, and I loved. Yes Love was the chiefest of my lessons and my most beautiful experience the entire year round.

I started submitting my work to online journals late last year. Yea I know I woke up late. Just one acceptance so far. So I may not be getting published majorly yet. But somebody’s been reading me even if only to reject my submissions. This at least I count as a success. See my successes. These beautiful rejections.

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Eggshells I – Running Mate

You know, one of the most fragile things we have are eggs. Tender spheres that contain life, our greatest treasure. Impossible to replace, but unbelievably easy to break. You know what’s even more fragile than eggs? Broken eggs. I’ll like to liken eggs to people. Incredibly fragile. And even more fragile are broken people. There’s a lot of broken people out there. In fact, almost everyone you know is broken emotionally, psychologically, and in some cases, visibly, ie physically. These people are hard to find, even harder to care for. So I came up with project ‘eggshells’ to help these ones. I had originally planned to write a self help book titled ‘Eggshells’ detailing the things I have learnt about coping with brokenness. And yes, I am one of the broken. And who better to talk about heat than one who has been through the fire. While I do not feel ready yet to write the book, I will be releasing a series of short essays, a prelude if you will, testing the ground. The book will follow after depending on the outcome or response to these write ups. This is the first of them and it’s titled ‘Running Mate.’ Don’t forget to leave your comments if you benefit from it, and kindly recommend to anyone you think might do so.

Eggshells I – Running Mate

Remember when you were younger? Your biggest problem was finding a playmate. Then eventually that graduated to passing common entrance. After that in secondary school, you needed to get a girlfriend. Now lets assume like me you’re in the university. You’re either battling with grades or you don’t have enough money to spend. Some still have the secondary school girlfriend problem. They graduated but their problems didn’t. Perhaps those were the lucky ones. Fast forward a few years, sift through the possible futures like in Marvel’s parallel dimensions. You have graduated successfully, with a good job and lots of cash, but you can’t find someone to share it all with. Someone genuinely worth it. Everyone around looks to be opportunists or lack the qualities you need in a partner. Suppose you do finish with a college sweetheart, you do so with bad grades as you spent your study time wooing her and your savings winning her. Even if you do get it all right. Mate, cash, all, in a few years there’s kids. What a bother. It may be a sweet one, but still a lot of bother. And as time flies there’s likely to be one health issue or the other. For your aged parents there’s more than one, there’s a multitude. If you’re not already  rushing around in a panic trying to keep them alive. Do you get it yet? There will always be a problem, that’s the real problem. These things don’t go away. Your rising position in life doesn’t let you skip them. They change positions with you. Worries, problems, we will always have them. They are superbly athlete. You can’t outrun them. They pace you every step of the marathon of life. When you think you’ve escaped the problem you’ve only switched partners. That problem has handed the baton to another.  There will always be a problem. Always. If that doesn’t change though, what has to? You. It is you who has to change. The sooner you make this realisation, the better. lnstead of looking for a time where the  sun will rise and hang steady in the sky drying your clothes and warming your ass, buy an indoor hanger and learn to dance in the rain. How to do this? Note firstly that I am certainly not advocating for laxness or relaxedness neither am I rooting for giving up because there will always be problems. By all means try to solve your current ones. Go on, exchange one for the other. Its what makes life fun. Doing so gives one the illusion of progress  as opposed to the disatisfaction of standing in one place. But while  you are doing this, do not expect to someday find a utopia. There is none. Every moment is precious despite its accompanying woes. Try to enjoy it as such and no less for them. When the sun does break through the clouds to show its rosy cheeks, be thankful for it but understand that it will mostly always be cloudy. But not to worry. Every cloud has a lining. Go on, search for it. It is silver. That should make finding it easier. Never forget your silver lining because of your problems. Its the other way around. Your silver lining is supposed to make you forget your problems.  Do that and you’ll be fine.

Review: Sword of Power

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The Sword of Power is a story about love and omens. It speaks to the foundation of power and the place of the metaphysical in shaping human narratives and experiences. The protagonist, Prince Yazidu, is a prince of his father’s ruined palace in the Baghdad Kingdom. He, with his men, sought refuge in Bornu from its King, Sarkin Ali Yaji who gave them Mantuha, a land which has “nothing but breed dangerous animals over the years”, to dwell . As a prince, he was also a valiant warrior who was central to Bornu’s territorial peace and stability because of his rout on the Forest people who were sworn enemies and plunderers of the Bornu people. The book equally tells the familiar story of love and its fragile connection with associated variables like betrayal, privilege, heartaches, failed hopes, customs and traditions.
The story opens with a prologue where Mekwashe, driven by gratitude for a past correct foretelling, craves to know what his future holds. And like a hovering, ominous air, the supernatural verdict he sought, which somewhat mirrors the identical fears of Sarkin Ali Yaji’s consistent thought of the Great Oracle’s warning that the saviour would set his eyes on the throne, his throne, drives the hub of the plot of the story to its conclusion, perhaps, its transient conclusion. The story also ends with another portentous warning from the Magadja who is considered the mouthpiece of Alledjena about how the one who wields the Sword of Power will wreck havoc with it. These two points are separated by the personal narratives of wars, struggles, disappointments, hurts, etc. of Prince Yazidu, Nafisa, Sarkin Ali Yaji, Mekwashe, and Kuruda who are the major characters in the novel.
One of the major strengths of this text lies in the way the writer aptly domesticated cultural narratives with ease. There is an exciting re-presentation of what looked like mythological narratives, historical tale of legends and conquered territories. The writer was also able to give a cohesive plot graph. Even when there was recourse to flashbacks, readers are not left in doubt as to whose past was being narrated and when brought back to the handy scenes in sequence, readers can equally easily connect the lines. I suspect that the novel engages different levels of human existential realities to depict the balance of life especially within the African experience. This is significant. From the natural to the supernatural, to the cultural and community life, to the dynamics of power and the narrative of love, and also to the inter ethnic and inter border wars and clashes that define the sense of life’s totality.
However, there is a sense in which the language appears forced than effortless. One could be tempted to conclude that the writer perhaps wrote cautiously. There is no doubt that the emotions of a writer help in shaping his narrative; the novel at some points is stifled by the feeling that the writer allowed his head get the better of his heart. However, sex scenes are deftly handled with finesse, and with explicit and graphic descriptions. Also, the work seems too dominated by the writer’s imprints. There are moments the text reads more like commentaries. The pacey, lyrical flow of thoughts and conversations often associated with prose works are largely hindered by the writer’s seeming expository interventions.

Note:
But she did not want to belief that he had changed a bit… (Page 148). That word should be believe.

Of Dreams, Ink and Kerosene lamps

On the 23rd of august 2014, over a decade later, I achieved one of my dreams and provided one of the biggest justifications for who and what I am. How do I mean? Let me explain.
Nearly a lifetime ago, a kid sat at an old, time assaulted dining table with food stained table cloth. The dimly beating heart of an aged kerosene lamp pumped light into the living room and illuminated the fading paint on the wall and empty pages in front of him as he struggled to paint a picture with the meager words he knew. He had been given a pen and told by his older brother that he could be a writer. He didn’t know what a writer was, or why he should be one. But he knew he could and should ’cause he had been told he could be one and given a dream, by someone he loved and looked up to.
He didn’t succeed at producing a wonderful story or beautiful poetry that night. But he kept trying. He carried that dream for more than nine months. He wanted to impress the brother who believed in him and prove him right. He kept pushing, voices in his head urging him on, mental midwives telling him he would give birth to something beautiful eventually. This singular event that night would shape his young life and eventually be the reason he became the person and writer he was. It would give him a goal, focus, drive and a dream. A dream that would keep him awake thousands and thousands of nights and when he slept, fitfully. But more than those, reasons. Reasons to keep going, when there seemed to be no way, something to strive for, a purpose. And these are the greatest things any young man or woman can be given.
Years later, that young man achieved his first dream. He impressed the young man who gave him that vision. It may not be a Pulitzer, or a Nobel Prize or a Hugo award, or the New York Times Bestselling List or even a million dollars but it was his first dream and worth a billion billion times more than all these things combined and he could die happy knowing he met that.
If you are looking for the reason I’m the man I am today, there it is. I may not be where I want to be. May not have achieved all his hopes or maximised my full potential but like the kid with the pen and the fragile wick of the kerosene lamp sputtering and stuttering but still shedding its dim illumination, i will keep trying to shine my light though dim it may be on any and everything that needs the light to see.
There, see my trophies…

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Smaller is better, the gadget reformation

Bigger is better is a popular saying that doesn’t seem to hold water with the current advent of technology. With the passage of time, bigger becomes obsolete and smaller becomes better. From mainframes, to desktop PCs that could easily be managed and handled on the home front, computers reduced drastically in mass, occupying less space while retaining usefulness and effectiveness. maybe improving in usefullness even for the reduction in size. From personal desktop computers, we moved on to laptops, comfy little devices that sat in our laps as we fingered away at their compact keyboards and caressed their touchpads. I bet women just envied these devices. Laptops retained massive effectiveness and increased functionality due likely again to the reduction in size. Instead of immobile gadgets stuck in our homes and workplaces, they became mobile devices that could be slung on backpacks and carried around. Work could be done on the go in whatever location one chose to unsling his device. This was the era of mobility. Another decade followed and a new player arrived on the scene. The most important yet. smartphones are all the craze now. Currently burning up the place, they are definitly a hot item. Small enough to fit into the pocket and packing the power of a mini computer, they are fully worth the buzz, and ping. These devices serve dual purposes as communicators and mobile computers. With different OS companies providing large database of applications that can do nearly everything your PC can and the total mobility thrown in, the smartphone takeover is totally justifiable. There was a bump in the road however where the technological groundnum of smaller is better wasnt followed. Somwhere along the line, cries of small screen, small keyboards began to be heard and a revolution was carried out in the smartphone kingdom. Tablets were born. Small compact devices, larger than your average smart phones but smaller than most PCs. A crossbreed if you will, the best of both worlds, not losing the portability smartphones were famed for and yet solving the problem of screen and keybord minutness. Phablets were born alongside them too, a younger brother, closing the gap even more between tablets and smartphones. These devices  were even smaller than your average tablet and only marginally larger than your smartphone. Large enough though to be distinguished. Both exist side by side now in the same town, having interbred so thoroughly as to be almost indistinguishable. Its 2014 and there is yet another player in the game. One whose campaign begain last year 2013. This one fully in keeping with the smaller is better principle technology operates by. Not just a technological piece but also a fashion statement. computerized wristwatches with
functionality beyond timekeeping , and is often
comparable to a personal digital assistant (PDA) device. While
early models can perform basic tasks, such as calculations ,
translations , and game-playing , modern smartwatches are
effectively wearable computers . Many smartwatches run mobile
apps , while a smaller number of models run a mobile operating
system and function as portable media players, offering playback
of FM radio , audio, and video files to the user via a Bluetooth
headset. Some smartphone models, (also called watch phones )
feature full mobile phone capability, and can make or answer phone calls
Such devices may include features such as a camera ,
accelerometer , thermometer , altimeter , barometer , compass ,
chronograph , calculator , cell phone , touch screen , GPS navigation,
Map display, graphical display , speaker , scheduler , watch ,
SDcards that are recognized as a mass storage device by a
computer, and rechargeable battery . It may communicate with a
wireless headset , heads-up display , insulin pump, microphone ,
modem, or other devices.
Some also have ” sport watch ” functionality with activity tracker
features (also known as ” fitness tracker “) as seen in GPS watches
made for Training, Diving, and Outdoor sports. Functions may
include training programs (such as intervals), Lap times, speed
display, GPS tracking unit , Route tracking, dive computer, heart
rate monitor compatibility, Cadence sensor compatibility, and
compatibility with sport transitions (as in triathlons ).
Like other computers , a smartwatch may collect information from
internal or external sensors. It may control, or retrieve data from,
other instruments or computers. It may support wireless
technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi , and GPS . However, it is
possible a “wristwatch computer” may just serve as a front end
for a remote system, as in the case of watches utilizing cellular
technology or Wi-Fi.
Companies such as  Lg, Samsung and others who develop mobile phones currently dominate this market. Tech Giant Apple is also rumoured to have an iwatch in the works, a gamechanger perhaps. Will the smartwatch era take off and be successfull? Whats next on the table? I sugest you look to owning your own smartwatch as only time can tell.