Wednesday, December 27, 2006
It is 4pm on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. I am still in my pajamas, which means that I am stinking up the house. I insisted on staying home today because I have not slept in my house for 5 straight nights. You know how it is with Lagos trips. You cannot drive on Third Mainland Bridge after 11pm because of armed robbers patrolling. Another fuel related tragedy happened at Abule-Egba, which I think is near Alagbado. A pipe line exploded killing several people as they were lining up for fuel. The scarcity is not letting up so it sort of pays off that I am staying home today especially after spending 5 hours in a queue with my friend on Christmas Eve. Actually she spent 5 hours, I only spent 2 and that was because I felt bad. As per she is the one carrying me around in her ‘Fashion Wagon’ as it is called.
Well let me try to recap on the past 3 weeks so far in Lagos. Did I mention that it is hot as hell? But ironically that has been good because it is oxidizing my skin. The food is very peppery and my stomach is not used to it yet. The other day at Soul Lounge when everybody was ordering ‘ASUN’, I was like ‘this sounds very exotic let me try it’. BIG MISTAKE. Basically, this so called delicacy was a bowl of stewed crushed raw ‘ata-rodo’ (an equivalent of habanero pepper). The next morning I had to go buy ‘some things’ for my stomach. I am seriously avoiding spicy food because it can be embarrassing when you are crashing in someone’s crib and you ‘have to go…as in go’. Hmh…not cute.
Let me start with the day my fellow musketeer landed to complete the crew. Mat-Mat’s arrival was highly awaited because that meant that I could shake off my small sisters and not rely on my brother for his car. We started the afternoon out at the infamous SUPREME hair salon where I ran into some avid ‘According to’ readers from Boston. Shout out to them for stopping by to say hello, they were very nice and basically kept me company as the hair dressers performed their miracle on Mat-Mat’s busted weave. I am sorry my jand sister’s but you people need to boycott the hair dressers till they get some training. I swear I have never seen any sister from jand yet with a good weave. I am sure some people will support me on this one. In fact I am angry on your behalf. Anyways we then went to La Hacienda. You have to excuse me for not knowing exactly where on ‘the Island’ these places are because Ikoyi and Victoria Island have always been confusing to me since I was a kid. I swear that I don’t know my way around there. I tried their Nkwobi (cow feet in oil beans) but it was not that great. I have had better. Anyways L’Tizzie, T-Opizzie and Ayisola aka ‘Shelele’ came to meet us and we ended up at A-bar for a little early ‘happy hour’ of sorts. I only drank Fanta and Red-Bull. We didn’t go out that night so I stayed home and just ‘warmed’ my parents up to the fact that my two weeks with them and doing what they wanted to do was so over. You know you have to psyche them a bit into realizing that you are not a kid anymore and it is not news that you plan to stay over night at wherever you are, otherwise they will set the curfew for 10pm. But I think my parents are getting in touch now that they won’t even call to harass you and disturb your fun. All they say is stay where you are and don’t attempt to be on the ‘Bridge’.
Thursday came around and I had business meetings much of the day including one with a reporter for the Associated Press. Later that night, I went out with a friend to Saipan. Mat-Mat wanted to warm her dad up so she stayed home and made dinner. The live band at Saipan was TIGHT but whatever happened to the AC because it was like a box of sardine in a microwave. Hopefully this would not be the case when I go there again because I was really digging their live band. I left early not just because it was unbearably hot but because I was also paranoid and concerned that there was no visible alternative exit in the case of a fire. I’ve noticed that many places in Nigeria, including the new structures have no fire exits or sprinklers. I would think that someone would be thinking of these things as they build these magnificent and well intended structures. Make me just wonder. Anyways, I ran into a few people I knew and it was pleasant seeing them (ok may be that’s not true for one or two but it is Christmas so I am happy to see everybody)
Friday came around and I am not sure what I did that whole day, but that night was the most fun I have had in a non-wedding setting in a while. We went to the very famous La Casa. In my head I was like ‘finally’ as I had been hearing so much about this La Casa place. They played a lot of old school music that took me back to my diaper days. That is about to be my joint of Friday nights. Now I have to look for my Saturday night joint as these are the only two nights that I will be out once I get in work mode. Anyways I don’t know what happened but when I left I am sure I had downed a bottle’s worth of alcohol. It all started with mixing sprite and white wine. Then I graduated to just the white wine. It tasted like grape juice now so I didn’t know when I had three glasses. Then came the champagne…and it was ‘Pink Mo’. Not that I have ever had it before, it just always looks cute when all those model chicks and celebs carry their glass of pink champagne. So me too I was trying to carry my own glass, but unfortunately for me it was sweet. I knew I had had enough when my speech was all slurry and I just could not stop dancing. I even took off my shoes. I am sure people were like who is this crazy girl. After a little while I calmed down, but Mat-Mat on the other hand was a goner. According to someone’s description, she was ‘just jumping anyhow’. A friend came by and was like make sure she is drinking a lot of water. We had to abandon the car because we were blocked in and crashed at a friend’s place. Mat-Mat gets the award for longest hangover because she did not recover till Sunday. While I am on the subject, I had no idea there were so many single-older women in Lagos o. I guess that explains the ‘Sugar-Mummy’ trend these days as observed in the few ‘City-People’ mags that I have been able to lay my hands on. That is the way forward now. Men have been doing it and are still doing it so now I guess it is time for women to feel free to do it. So props to the ‘Nigerian Cougars’ doing their thang, and not limiting their options.
Meanwhile, on Saturday morning I was able to sneak into bed at 8am, before my dad woke up. Just on time to avoid the ‘evil eyes’, ‘the talk’ and to get money to continue the trips. Saturday was Tunde’s wedding, which I almost did not go to. Everyone who could take me out was in line for fuel. My folks were traveling the next day so the option to have my dad’s driver to take me out to Lekki was out. I was kind of upset because I had this nice dress that I had a tailor make for me. The woman collected N5000 for express service especially for this wedding because I was not sure what to expect considering it is an ‘ATL CREW’ wedding. Ya’ll know how ‘dem folks’ can be with their ‘BCBG’…ha…I should now go there and start looking like the house girl of America. But as they say sha, where there is a will, there is a way, turned out that Mat-Mat’s sister was headed to a party in the high brow estate called ‘Park View’. Ok…now I know there are rich people in my country but WHO THE F*** are the residents of that place…let me shake their hand. Lol. Those houses are magnificently massive. I never knew of that place but apparently it has been around for a while. Interesting discovery it was indeed. Next stop Banana Island. I hear those are even gynormous. It is good sha, because as I was driving past, I was feeling like I was when I was in Beverly Hills, admiring the houses. I have become a tourist in my own country. Lol. (Eureka!!! Business plan radar/ money making scheme; An Air Conditioned Bus tour through the ritzy neighborhoods of Lagos, which would include a 'cross-continental' lunch buffet at Eko Hotel and Take-Away Suya from Ikoyi Hotel. Irresistible!! N5K per head)
I got to the wedding party really late in my alternative dress, hung out with the folks there and had some small conversation. Later the party ended up at Bullet’s crib. Mat-Mat braced her hang over and came to pick me up and we went to another house party. It is Christmas season so there were enough parties. At this very party though, some of the gentlemen were seriously clowning me and decided to give me a nickname, Maria, because of my ‘Americana ways’. I slept through the story but could hear them laughing really hard. It wasn’t till I woke up and everyone was calling me ‘Maria’ that I realized I was the butt of the joke. We stayed over at another friend’s house again because it was too late to be driving home (we should just move to ‘the Island’). On another note I was worried because my parents were traveling to the village and were bound to wake up at like 5am. That meant that my runs would be busted. My sister’s were calling to find out where I was and when I would be coming home. We tried to sync up our stories. I sent my dad a text and avoided the unforeseen ‘wahala’. We didn’t get home till like 1pm Sunday. We slept like bats. I went to take a bath and Mat-Mat went to queue up for fuel. I joined her later. Sunday night I think we went to Park and Shop to do some ‘grocery’ shopping. We ran into our neighbors, the Adekoya’s who were having a Christmas party and were stacking up. We also spotted Ms. Funmi Iyanda and ‘her extra long legs’. As in ‘Word to Yo Momma,’ because if I had legs like that, I too will be in booty-shorts every frigging day of my life. From there we went to Victoria Crown Plaza to meet a friend and have drinks. I stuck to my Fanta. We swore we would not spend X-mas eve away from home so we braved it home at like 1am and that was it for Sunday.
Christmas day was odd. No parents in my house, no house girl, no food. You would think that with 3 grown women in the house someone would have boiled some rice. Nah...Not my house. The only food that was available was reserved for the boys. The rest of us were on our own. We all got dressed for church. My sister Onyi went off to spend X-mas with her ‘potential future family’, Nene was at the Adekoya’s (in fact she spent X-mas night there because she was locked out…Onyi slept off and didn’t hear the phone ringing). I spent the day with my fellow musketeers, Mat-Mat and Ayis. We went from house to house dressed up and looking for food. We found it at Deyo’s. Her mom had a ‘spread’. Moi-moi, fish, fried rice, jollof rice, fried chicken etc. We had our fill, rolled out to Mr. Biggs for Ice-cream and then La Hacienda for pepper soup. We ended up at L-Tizzies’ where I ran into Eldee, Ikechukwu and the Koko-Master, D’Banj himself (with his ‘wearing-sunglass-at-night-self’ when there is no sun :). My darling friend Ugo was also there (hey Ugo let’s get married if we are still single in 2010…seriously). Anyways we ended up at 11-45 for a Salsa party. That in itself will require a special blog entry but before then all I have to say is that these Salsa dancers (especially Boomsy and Wale) can put the Salsa dancers in clubs in America to shame because they were just all over the place. I guess because there was so much space that the dancers had room to ‘show-off’ their skills. Ehm…me too I am thinking I should go and take lesson too so I don’t feel out of place when they are spinning and wining and throwing their legs about. As usual we did not sleep in our house that night. Lol. Hence I find myself just waking up at 1pm with a cracked voice, drinking lime and hot water, and trying to update you with the gist. I am sure I have lost some weight. By the way the next person that squeezes their face when they tell me I am very skinny will get a ‘konk’ on the head. They should go and tell that to Agbani (who is now on a commemorative Nigerian stamp) and Oluchi (who if you have not noticed is expecting a little atootoo-poyoyo).
This is all for now. Pictures will come later. On Thursday I am off to go fishing and farming in my village for 5 days. Please God let the roads be clear of traffic, pot holes and armed robbers. Ya’ll have a good New Year; fill me in on whatever I will be missing out on. Right now I am off on a date...ALREADY..HA HA HA...Peace.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
HERE'S TO WISHING YOU A VERY MERRY XMAS AND A JOYOUS ENTRY INTO THE NEW YEAR. I WIL HAVE TO GIVE YOU ALL THE GIST ON DELAYED MODE. I AM TOO BUSY HAVING A BLAST DESPITE THE HICCUPS THAT COME BY WAY OF NO RIDE, MOSQUITO BITES AND OVER SIZED CLOTHES (I SHALL EXPLAIN LATER). I HAVE RUN INTO ONE OR TWO 'FANS' BUT IT IS HARD TO COORDINATE IN LAGOS BECAUSE THEIR IS JUST TOO MUCH TO DO AND FOLKS ARE ON BORROWED TIME. THAT SAID I CAN'T WAIT TO GET INTO WORK MODE EITHER. ANYWAYS I DOUBT I WILL HAVE RELIABLE INTERNET ACCESS TILL AROUND JANUARY SO PLEASE BEAR WITH ME. HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK OF FESTIVITIES. PEACE OUT!!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
On Sunday night I sat down for two hours trying to watch this piece on ABC news by Brian Ross Scamming the Scammers. It is dial up Internet and it is FREE so I should stop being an ingrate and keep psyching to get broadband. As for T-1 connection, I am not sure that is in Nigeria yet. However that might be facilitated with the recent agreement that Microsoft just made with the Federal government "to allow the Nigerian government and agencies the use and deployment of its software at the cost of N324 million," according to the aily Champion. Anyways after watching that, I feel this is the right time to unveil some 'scrolls' that I have been keeping. Before I go ahead, I have to point out in sarcasm an irony in Brian Ross piece and emphasise the 'DELETE UNSOLICITED EMAILS' part. This is a case of penny wise pound foolish. So basically in order to save himself from being scammed out of his money, Mr. Ross decided to 'spend' money to fly first class, ship equipment to go and do a 3 minute report to show us 'he is no mugu after all'. Ok Mr. Ross, you just spent probably $10,000 when you could have just clicked 'delete'. Thank God for Minnie and Mickey. But interesting report none the less, would have been better if it was balanced with another report on what the Nigerian Government is also doing through the E.F.C.C. I am sure a sound bite with Mallam Ribadu or even a mention of how to report the scams to the body would satisfy that purpose. But ya'll know the deal with reporting about anything that has to do with Africa.
But back to my scrolls. I should have taken my own advice because this guy 'blascattered' my head with his English but I was angry the day this whole thing started and I was surprised I even got a response. It all started with the scam emails we were getting at work. You know how that can be. Every time one came, someone would never fail to mention or ask me about it. That is like saying to a blind man, "You are blind so I guess you cannot see that rainbow," or telling the mother monkey that her child is ugly. Anyways, just as other Nigerians in diaspora I would just laugh along, roll my eyes or curse under my breathe. But this day, I came in to work at 7am only to be greeted by the email. Knowing what I would face at work, I quickly replied. Usually when we get viewer emails at the station, if someone replied, you send an email out so no one else does. So I sent an 'I've responded to this viewer' not just to be funny, but just so that no one will come and start disturbing me. Lo and behold, one of my supervisors came in and the first thing he said to me after exchanging greetings was in reference to the scam email and we laughed about mine. Anyways enjoy the email exchange, I found it quite interesting and hilarious. Please do excuse the typos on my part and the poor use of the English language and lengthiness on Mr Dennis Audu's part. (PS: For the purpose of full disclosure, after my second reply, I moved the exchange to my personal account and did the rest from home.)
From: Denis Audu
Subject: Help this new change
Goodday,i am sorry for any enconviniences this letter may cause you in
trying to understand my purpose and why i have choosing to solicit for
your assistance .its true that i dont know you personally but my
previouse experience and the situation i found my self has thought me
have more faith in looking deyond my imidiated environment and being
that i have lost my confidence in human nature more especially people i
have laboured so much to fixed in strategic places who has choosen to
bit the finger that feed them instead of appreciating my kindness,but
now i have choosing to follow gods direction of faith and for you to
understand me please its important that you first put your self in my
I am Mr Denis Audu of the The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)of
ZIMBABWE the S P A to MorganTsvangirai,the c opposition leader . who
is currently facing more treason charges of plotting to kill President
Robert Mugabe the treason charge arises as a result of Tsvangirai's
meetings with a Canadian political consultant in which Robert Mugabe
allegedly claimed that Tsvangirai spoke of "eliminating"him Mugabe
of presidential polls, MorganTsvangirai If convicted risks the death
penalty. The new treason charges arose from mass anti-government
protests Tsvangirai organised last year in which he is accused of
Zimbabweans to oust Mugabe.
The state accuses Tsvangirai of inciting supporters to overthrow the
government and engage in acts of public violence ,Pitabely during this
our prodemocratic campangne rally which we are being accused of public
violence a lot of our member were assassinated openly and secretely by
police and hudlums suspected to be the killer agents of the
government.ever since then or party have been subjected under heavy
attack by those incumbent masterminded forces as a result of our
continue oppositon stand against the incumbent president Robert Mugabe
and his porported tenure elongation .
Today as i am talking to you the president with the support of his
corrupt ruling Zanu PF party officials and members in the pailiament
are pressing for the manipulation of the arrangement to restrict
MorganTsvangirai from contesting the next general election there fore
negetting chapter IV of the constitution, section 28, subsection
(1),which states that a person qualifies for election as president if
he is "a citizen by birth or by descent, has attained 40 years and is
ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe". its against this background that we
have decided to remobilise with all our members nomatter what it will
take both home and abroad in readyness to resist his constitutional
amendment and for the forthcoming general elections through our youth
co-odinator in other to enable us resist any eventuality as is
expected,note that the national chirman of my party who was a former
Agricultural minister in my country is awear of this development
needless mentioning names including the part director of campaign
mobilization and finance comitee.
However,upon the above introduction of my person and purpose i have
directed to do all the international consultations associated to
every body defence technologies which we may need in the course of
acheiving our objectives.having seen your contact in the search
directory thought it worthy to contact your person for possible
negociations in this update and how its going to work out smoothly,as
articulate this project we particularly search for men and women of
proving integrity and reliable due to the sensitive nature of this
transaction i assure you that your intrest is fully guaranteed and the
bases for your co-opration negociable.
Meanwhile i am to negociate the purchase outside Zimbabwe since the
money for this has been maped out from part of our party reserve fund
with a security company in europe totaling $21.5million us dollars by
the party ,being that i accompanied my boss MorganTsvangirai here in
europe where the deposit was made with the intention to utilize it by
our party before he was arrested, its upon this development that our
party wants me to continue with every party maped out plan scince i
a comprehensive details of every deposite made by my boss inrespect to
the party.what you will do for me is just to stand as the party
beneficiary contractor abroad to help secure the reserve first then we
look for a body defence company for the purchase and the party beleive
that i am the only person who has the capacity and the sagacity to do
the international consultations it takes.you will only party me to
utilize the confidence i am already enjoying in the party leadership by
being honest in my future dealing and correspondence with you.as we go
on i am going to provide you with all the neccesary logistics support
enable you function well in this project.
Do contact me via e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your cosideration,
For (M D C).
From: Achumba, Adaure
Subject: RE: Help this new change
YOU CAN WRITE OH!!!! WHY NOT PUT THAT ENERGY AND TALENT INTO SOMETHING
BENEFICIAL INSTEAD OF EMBARRASSING YOUR PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD BY
SENDING THESE 419 LETTERS-- THAT IS NOT GOOD OH. EVERY TIME I GET ONE
THESE LETTERS AT WORK THAT IS THE JOKE OF THE DAY. NOT VERY FAIR TO
THOSE OF US WHO ARE HARD WORKING. GO WRITE A BOOK OR A FILM SCRIPT AND
WORK FOR YOUR MONEY.
YOUR SISTER IN THE DIASPORA
I do appreciate your effort in finding time to read my letter and your
advice well noted.
Yes first off all can you indentify the country whose image your trying
to protect ,as soon as you give me this information then i will be in a
position to address your questions more meaningfuly.
Thanks for now,
What a pleasant surprise to read your note. I was truly not expecting
you to reply. To answer your questions (which is not really one) about
which country's image I am trying to protect. Frankly I am not trying
protect any image at all. The image of Africa and her countries is bad
across the board so trying to protect it is a futile effort. It is like
protecting Firewood from Fire, the two have an inevitable path of
destiny to cross, hence the given name. Changing the image of Africa is
what I am about and I cannot do that when there are people like you who
insist on taking that fast route rather than put that god given talent
and ability towards a skill or trade. You write very well, what will it
take you to hone that skill and broaden it in to something. There are
people who went from painting lipstick on their face in the mirror
morning and shining their teeth in vanity to painting the faces of
people as a business venture and owning their own make up line. There
are people who have gone from mixing coke and cherry fanta with brandy
for Christmas parties to being the primary mixed-drink and punch
supplier to events to owning a catering outfit. These are all people
who could have resigned to fast schemes like every degree holder who
cannot get a job, every high school certificate holder who cannot pass
university entrance exam, but they choose not to resign to that fate
put heir energy into exercising their talents and becoming
entrepreneurial. I hope this will help you address my question more
meaningfully as I am curious to hear you defend yourself and your
attempt to defraud an unsuspecting victim who may unfortunately be
gullible or even greedy enough to give you their information. I look
forward to your response and I hope we can share our views more on
Dear Sister Adaure,
I will appreciate a situation where by we try to be more direct in our approach,
because you are trying to be a bit diplomatical in tackling my questions just be open there is no problems since you have dicided to correct a wrong but remember there is a background to every injustice and by the time you indentify your self well,i am ready to give you a more comprehensive insight to this problem you are trying to address maybe it will even aid you incase you wants to write a book.
Before i forget in your next letter please tell me that country in the world you think as having the best image not even continent and the yadstick used for such assesment by whose ever is that later day saint that produced that report.
My Brother Dear Dennis
I am being as open as a calabash. How much more direct can I really be. You want me to fly inside the computer. I am not being 'diplomatical' as you put it. Just stating a fact. And why do I need to 'indentify' myself, it is not like I am hiding behind a fake name or email address like you are. I am all ears to your comprehensive insight into the problem and yes may be your insight can help me understand where you are coming from and the background on the injustice that you speak of. I am sure they will make good material to write a book. I can even have you as the co-author so that you can stop your illegal hustling. To your last statement, you are right there is no country that has the best image neither is there a country to which a yardstick assessment can be attributed to. I don't think i have said that or even hold that position. But just because some things are uncontrollable and are over looked doesn't mean it is right or give it any justification because that is basically what you are trying to say. Anyways bros, I think you are the one being a bit indirect and not being very open. If I may go further, what is your story, why do you chose to send the email scam instead of doing something else. Please educate me since you are seem to challenge my claim to the moral high ground on this matter.
Your Dear Sister Adaure
Dear Sister Adaure,
I am happy atleast that you have accepted the fact that there is no country with a clean image, i have lived also in the so called advanced countries and i know how they came about there advancement, you may also have been out side Africa.i was motivated to responding to your first mail because you said this mail comes always everday and that your co-workers reads it with you with the impression that the mail comes from your brothers in Africa.So i actually wanted to get to those your co-workers and lash them incase they are white people.
Well your theory is real but can only work out in a just society,i also enjoy your writting for so long i have not been in contact with ladies that writtes so mavelousely.
Lastly i am writting you from here in Madrid Spain if you wouldnt mind this is my telepohe number 0034-650-677-802.if we must contnue in this chart let me know you better.
Thanks for your intrest.
This is interesting. So are you saying you are NOT AFRICAN? Amazing!! I am aware that some of these emails do not originate from Africa directly but I was not expecting a non-African. I was afraid you would be Nigerian because you answer my questions with nothing but more questions and try to take me off the subject. Very typical. Perhaps you have too many Nigerian friends.
So you are in Spain? What do you do in Spain? Do you have a real job or you just rely on revenue from your email scams.
Per knowing me better, I am not sure what you mean? I am sure we can continue this dialogue on our ideology via email. I honestly don't have time to talk on the phone, plus I would like to document our conversation for that book we talked about. Anyways go through my previous email and re-read them because there are so many questions you have left unanswered. Cheers Brother
Your Sister (I guess no longer perhaps) Adaure
Now two things a imperative i gave you an option to reveal your indentity if you must have an insight about my activities which you refuted,instead your intrest revolves around record my converstions with you.perhaps if that is your only intrest then that will cost you small money.
You are certainly right, my interest does revolve around recording our conversations and getting insight into what you do and why you do it. I apologize if I did not make it clear that I was a journalist. I assumed you would have made that inference from my email address or done some research of some sort. Anyways I am a journalist from Nigeria but live in the United States. You are a fascinating character and I am interested in hearing your story. It is amazing, especially when it can help dispel the myth that these email scams all originate from Nigerians and Africans. You did give me the impression that you are neither.Is that correct? Anyways it is unfortunate but as a news journalist I do not pay to get stories. Even if I did, how am I sure you would not turn me into a victim and run away with my money. That being said I am enjoying this exchange and look forward to continuing to hear from you. Again please go over my previous emails and answer the questions I have asked you elaborately. You may also chose to decline and discontinue this exchange. You also gave me your phone number but I must get your consent as well to have the conversation recorded. Again this is only for journalistic purposes and does not involve any law enforcement so you can relax. I am just after the fascinating story that you have to tell. Believe me no one will pay you for your story so here is your opportunity to turn your scam into something good. I await your reply. Cheers
Subject: For your comprehensive insight.
I thank you for your effort intrying to bring me to a talk,well that’s not bad.
However,I can see that your privilegded to be hard working in the United states as i was mearnt to know in your first mail but please note that working hard is a function of income and environment that is the demand for labour and some of your brothers and sisters are not exposed to such opportunities at home i dont realy know your antecedentes but atleast your parents some how could afford it in one way or the other.
I am sorry maybe if i could not tackle your questions directly it is not deliberate as i try to give you a more coincise details which could offer a more valuable answers to your questions, but incase if your not satisfied, your free to resend it back to me for an appropriate answer.
Listen cearfully may be I don’t know what is your fathers position about Nigeria because he is the only person in a position to tell you the truth,but when he fails in that duty then as an adult you can search for answers to your own questions.
In 1914 one man called Lord Lugard carried out the amalgamation of north and southern Nigeria to the British intrest to suit the police of indirect rule and consequently placed north in a more political dominating power in Nigeria polity which positioned the north in getting a lion chair of what ever that comes out of Nigeria,even when geographically they are located in a barren desart and having boundries with the poorest African state Chad.
Before independence a man called Tafawa Bellewa was a primary school teacher and the british empire being leaded by a woman in England finds this man more qualified to be the priminster more that Zik and Awolowo and other elites that paid the price of our independence struggle,this is not for the intrest of me and you and Nigerians but for the intrest of the northern muslems and british because the England government felt it is only the muslem north will remember and guarantee there intrest when the go. I will send you an appendix to this points.
The british government masterminded the killing of the ibos in the north with there constant arminitions and personel supply to Gowon after the fall of Tafawa belewa the stuge they installed in Nigerian as a priminster. The coupe that huasted Belewa was never an igbo coup which Britain makes the world to beleive , why ?because General Ironsi who crippled the coup was an igbo man and ojukwu also an igbo man rendered the coup immobile in the northern kanu where he was serving as a brigade commander then.
Sister I have washed the western intrest and finds out that it chages over time ,so it is never permanent .eg in Nigeria they have demonstrated an all time support to the muslems than the Christians whom seams to share the same christian faith with them contrary to what we see in the case of irsael and lebanon,in iraq they propagated Saddam when they wanted to use him against Ayotala komeni of Iran ans they succeded later because of the difficulties in respecting a dishonest father Sadam fallout of there favour and was accused of possesing a weapon of mass distrutions which uptill now is still being looked for.
I am not drawing this inferences in other to divert my focus from the original subject but to capture your understanding of the historic background of the problems your trying to address.
I had listened to the American independence speech and I saw there was really a promise and it is upon this promise that Marthin luther stood and libreted the black negros from the chains of slavery to the promise land of freedom for all irrespective of color and that promise is freedom to every American. I had gone to search for Nigerian independence speech and could not fine the content of the speech instead Tafawa Belewa was busy thanking the that woman in england and the people of England for handing over power to him so there was know promise from where to continue as a people .Even in Biafran struggle there was a promise and that promise was Self determination and it was that promise of self determination that sustained the will to continue the struggle without any armunitions at our disposal upto 1970 when the Nigerian and Britain lead attack with higher fire power got fed up of drinking the innocent blood of the igbos,and the America and the rest of the world was behind washing as our fathers, mothers , brothers and brothers ,young and old died defencelessly,and we are still Christians together sitting and worshiping the same god,I wonder who will go to heaven.since that brotherly love we were thought as young growing Christians was greatly betrayed when we see them joing hand with muslems in killing there own Christian brothers and sisters.
Today in Nigeria an average igbo young lady that comes out of the university can not get a job unless she gave out her body to the northern directors in different government institutions men even older that there own fathers,and young men from the eastern Nigeria who came out of the university could not be employed while illiterates from the north occupy executive government positions. as if that is not enough, they introduced what is called normadic education in the north so that that cattle rearer can also oneday become the manager of financial institutions while our well trained graduates are parading the street with nothing to show for, there by making education non attractive in the eastern Nigeria and you want us to sitback and die of hunger in the missed this delibrate policy of crpplling us psychologically and economically..They even went asfar as introducing what is called cut of point in the university entrance examination so that sobody who scoure 300 from the east and west will gain the same admission to read the same course with somebody who score 50 from the north so that those who scoure from 150 to 200 from the easth will be denied admission as if it is a course to become intelligent ,what a sell out to the system,when they were doing privatization the northerners being present in the government used the same money they stole from government pocket to bought over all the privatized government enterprise and our retied fathers could not even afford there pensions as at when do, takless of investing on privatization.
Please before I forget you asked me while I am doing this job ,but note that higher educations exposes one to a certain level of life that is why the Nigerian first civilian regime introduced car loan to fresh university graduates as an offer of entitlement upon employment these lasted upto 1980 when the military northern oligachy took over power again and turned the whole system upside down.i can not afford to be looking my father who gave me education and my younger once die of hunger.
Frustration does a lot of things especially when equal opportunity is not given to every one in the same society,i am happy atleast that after the British and Nigeria invasion which left Biafran igbo totally naked we did not resort to terrorism like the arabs but repositioned our energy towards economic survival.which one is better.
I have to live your ,a word is enough for the wise.
HE THEN SENDS ME A COPY OF PRIME MINISTER TAFAWA BALEWA'S ADDRESS TO THE NATION ON INDEPENDENCE DAY, OCTOBER 1ST 1960 AS WELL AS AN ARTICLE TITLED WHY THE IGBO MAN IS NOT TRUSTED BY Justice Eze Ozobu. SEARCH FOR THEM ON GOOGLE AND LET ME KNOW IF YOU CANNOT FIND THEM AND I WILL POST THEM. I GUESS HE WAS TRYING TO DRIVE SOME POINT TO BACK UP HIS POSITION. I WAS LOST.
Hmh...very interesting write up. I did see your other emails as well. So you are Nigerian after all and saddest of all an Igbo. You dashed my little glimmer of hope with that revelation. While I understand where you are coming from and agree that the environment in Nigeria is harsh and wealth is not distributed fairly, I do not agree that one should resort to unscrupulous means to make a living. I also do not agree that my being in the US is the privilege that provided me the opportunity to work hard. That is self determined regardless of where I would have ended up in life. From your email you seem to have some level of education. What is your educational background and qualification and are you in Spain legally. Perhaps if you are not, that's an added reason as to why things might be hard for you. Have you ever thought of starting your own business and if so what was the result of that. See optimism and hard work goes a long way.
You say "Frustration does a lot of things especially when equal opportunity is not given to every one in the same society,I am happy at least that after the British and Nigeria invasion which left Biafran Igbo totally naked we did not resort to terrorism like the Arabs but repositioned our energy towards economic survival.which one is better"
It is interesting they way you are rehashing history as a means to justify your being an ill to society and the Igbo heritage. Is this your way of acting out or getting back at society. I am all for economic survival, that's why many of us leave the shores of Africa in the first place to seek economic opportunities where they are abundant. As you too are one of the 'fortunate' one, using your inference, why aren't you utilizing the opportunities available to reposition your energy and wits into something more tangible and honorable rather than dupe people? I mean. let's get real here, what you do is criminology and nothing else. Artfully using your education to perpetuate crime without a gun. How can anyone in his or her right mind try to justify that? I am just wondering because you still have not explained that aspect. Thanks for the Nigerian history lesson but I think I got enough of that to earn straight A's in the subject secondary school. But I appreciate the refresher course, however it is truly a digression from my original questions which I have also rehashed in this email.
(ps: Na wa for you sha. Why do Naija people like to play Maradona when they are asked simple questions. Bros na wetin...abeg time na money o...just ansa me jare.)
Repeat that question your talking about,may be i could not capture that.
Thanks for your speedy response
Here are some questions I have written out that I would like for you to answer to help me understand you and get insight into what you do and why you do it.
<1> What led you into this art of sending email scam letters and how successful/ profitable has it been for you. How often have people fallen to the trap.
<2> Are you gainfully employed? If so why do you choose to do this? If not employed, why not?
<3> How do you justify this criminal activity as repositioning your energy towards economic survival, s you have eloquently put it.
<4> What is your back ground; educational, family, cultural and economic?
<5> Do you care that the emails you send are embarrassing to other Nigerians and Africans. For example, when I get emails like this at work, it is the joke of the day because people assume ( justifiably) that they are from Nigerians.
<6> Why do you not value hard work as a means to an end.
<7> What would you say is the psychology behind people who become victims to this email scam and fall for your elaborate stories.
<8> What is your immigration status, are you in Spain legally? Are there no jobs for you there and is that why you resort to 419
<9> Have you ever thought of starting your own business and if so what was the end result of that.
<10> Do you have a family, children, wife and kids? Or are you just a young hustler looking for the fast lane to wealth.
<11> Basically tell me your story, Who is "Denis" the man behind this artfully crafted letter. Where are you coming from? Take me into your life journey and your philosophy. I want an honest and true story with well thought out answers and responses that are real to you and not a coy or made up. I find you to be very interesting and intelligent and I am fascinated by that and would like to read more from you.
Feel free to add whatever else you would like. Will be looking out for your response. Thank you for your time in doing this. Cheers
Your questions are too many are you working for fbi or what?meanwhile i am single in case if you may like to marry me.
I have ideas of buisness but i dont have money to put it to reality so am worried bucause of my burning desire to sustain the dream alive.i dont have papers to do normal job and if sudenly you work with another persons paper such persons normaly eat our money here and you cant complain otherwise you will be facing security risk.
i am a higher school leaver my attack is basically a focused sustained asult on white people not people like you.i have never gotten a good client to raise money for my trade otherwise i would quit this buisness as it cant guarantee steady means of lively hood.which ever psychology they will suffer will never by equal to that one suffered by that negro slave that was moved from his ancestral root whose soul is still in search of final resting place both the living and the death.dont tell me about image of country again because i have knoe country my country Biafra is still yet to be they only country i can stand and defend her image anywhere.
I hope with this you will be okay.
I am not with the FBI, I am just a reporter and as such I tend to ask very many questions. You did not give me the answers that I was looking for. Are you bored already? C'mon now, see all the questions I gave you and you are giving me this short answer. I cannot even write one paragraph with that. Try to answer the questions each specifically because you have all these ideas going on and you are confusing me a little bit
Meanwhile as I wait for you to really answer my questions, lets talk about Biafra since you do not care about Nigeria's or Africa's image. How do you think you are helping Biafra's image with this. I am ashamed you are trying to twist this into a debate about Biafra's existence or lack thereof and trying to use the past (slavery included) as justification for your lifestyle. Biafra died with the Nigerian Civil war in 1970 and you seem to be a prisoner of ideology. Do you think that if Biafra did come to fruition in 1970 that it would not be another mess that most african countries are. Do you think Biafra would be any different from Nigeria or that it would not share the same history as other countries. Your argument bears no substance. By the way how old are you? Where you born during or after the war?
Awaiting your response
At this point, I guess he either chickened out or found a 'MUGU' that bought his first scam letter BS. I never heard from this guy again.
Anyways I am unable to read through so bare with me. I have to rush out and find where to go as 'NEPA HAS STRUCKETHED' and their is no juice in my lap-top battery. Anyhow please do share your thougths on this rather silly exchange.
Finally, I have managed to find some spare time to actually sit down and put together an entry that will make a little sense considering this internet connection of mine lacks juice. The reason I am up past 2 am and watching Nigerian music videos is because I cannot sleep. Yes, I am stamped and certified jet-lagged. This is the second night in a row. Exerting all that energy crooning at the karaoke bar did not make a difference. I am going into my 5th day in Nigeria and all I have to say is that it is good to be with family again. The yelling, the door slamming, the harassment, the abusing and cursing, the duping and the dodging. That’s my home sweet home. The cacophony and canter chorus sounds rival that of the London Philharmonic Orchestra at practice. The sole reason I ran very far away to America, refusing to look back. Now I ask my self, what I’m doing back here. As they say, love is blind and blood is thicker than water. I did miss the silliness though. Like this morning I had a perfect aim with my slippers. My brother Chibuike, who basically tries to be a thug but will be at your mercy if you serve him a plate of fish, thought he had me and was running away after he smacked me. Little did he know that I had mastered the art of 'slippers-weaponry' very well. Despite the fact that I almost slipped trying to chase him and pull my slipper off at the same time, my aim was so on point that it drew the map of Africa on his back. Oh the joy and jubilation. He was so shocked. My sisters you will hear more about, and as for my mother, she is still paranoid and is only relevant when it is time to eat. Her middle name is 'mummy where's my food'. My father aka 'aka-gum' (hand of gum) is still allegedly stingy according to his other children and is only really seen when it is time to negotiate some monetary dealing. In some cases when a victim of 419 is needed. For example yesterday, the poor man got duped twice in the same 'graduation fee scam' perpetrated by my sister. She told him that the 'exit fee' for her and my brother was N9000 each when in actuality it was N1500. Now you would think that as a professor my dad would know what the University he works for is charging the students, but I guess he must have been aloof about it. Anyways, he got smart later in the day, after he had dished out the money, when he asked one of his graduating students what they were charging. By then it was juts a bit too late. I am sure the conversation went like this
Student: Ah Prof...Good after'oon sah
Prof: Ah how are you my dear... are you ready for the d-day
Student: Yes sah... we thank God. In fact I just went to pay my exit fee sah. The line was too long sah. I even saw your daughter there this morning.
Prof: Yes... I gave her the money this morning. After paying school fees they still want a whole ‘9 towzan’ just for graduation, when it is not Cambridge.
Student: ‘9 towzan’ sah? But sah it's only one towzan five hundred sah.
Prof: WHHHHOOOOOTTTT!!! One towzan five hundred?
Student: Yes Sah
Prof: You don' meanit....chai umuakanu egwuolem wayo (these children have tricked me)
(Picks GSM, calls the house...my brother Chiwuike picks up. Yes I know. I spelt his name differently. My confused parents can’t figure which it is. That, my and Ejike’s real birthday.)
Chiwuike: Hello. 9 thousand... (Sounds surprised) It's one thousand five hundred!?! Ehn ehn...Ok… lemme call her sha (places phone down) Onyenachi... your father is calling you…he has found out oh, the plan has scattered; find what you will tell him because this money is not leaving my hand.
Onyenachi: Hallo... who told you that? He must be an eediot. The department fee is this, the cap and gown is this. The scroll too is not free. Add that that and that and that is even 10 thousand. I even had to take money from my own pocket sef to add to the money. I don't know which graduation that person is paying one thousand five hundred for but it must be for University of Iwaya not University of Lagos. Ok...I will bring receipt. Bye Bye.
Some things never change. Meanwhile, I was at the corner inflating the amount that the tailor charged. What? I am taking my quota for the past 10 years so allow me.
Anyways I was supposed to meet with one of my contacts but he had to cancel and so I planned to meet my friend Ayisola at the Galleria Mall at 5pm. She was stuck at work and could not show so my sisters and I were perambulating the mall till 7pm. We ended up going to some smoke filled bar called Havana's to meet my sister's 'suitor' (the word boyfriend is forbidden in my house because according t my father, just because he has 3 daughters does not mean his house should be turned into a brothel). After that we headed to the karaoke bar and acted a hot fool miming to Candy Girl and This is How We Do It. Funny enough I’ve never been so this was another interesting first and I loved it. As usual I took off my shoes, but that, my not wearing jewelry, no make up or nail polish seemed to be the focus of attention for one of the persons in our company so I take it Lagosians are not all entirely fans of the 'hippie-nearly-deeper-life-chick-thing'. But the experience had me thinking, gosh darn it why didn't they think of this place when I was a juvenile. But I am upset with the management though. WTF!!! How can you have a karaoke bar in an African country and not one musician on the list of the songs is Nigerian or African for that matter. What's that? I mean even a whole MTV Award winning song like African Queen by Tuface is not even on the list. Imagine the insult. Abeg the manager had better put some Fela, Shina or Majek on that bloody list before I write a boycott letter some newspaper.
I kinda told my story back words because I skipped the part of my horrendous ordeal with KLM Airlines, my gas problem on the plane, how the heat hit me and how I went weak at the share amount of people and baggage at the one and only baggage claim section that the airport has had since my mother first brought me through there in 1980. Just thinking about that alone can mess up the rest of ones stay in Nigeria, not to mention the traffic, bad roads, touts, mosquitoes, lack of light, water, abject poverty amongst other things. But we thank God for places like 'The Island' (and its inhabitants) where we can all create and live out our fantasies, as well as the glossy and gossip magazines that never fail to show what we should all aspire and aim for in order to get away from the reality that is Nigeria. A reality which can cause a brain tumor if one should think too much about.
Anyways ‘they’ are supposed to be going to church in the morning at 7am. Emphasis on they because I know I will still be in bed at that time (I’ll actually be bitching at them to stop disturbing my sleep). Anyways I have a phone now but that credit situation is rather interesting. I have to keep reminding myself that this is no AT&T or Sprint-to-Sprint. By the way those of you that are landing need to land quick quick abeg make the Xmas festivities begin. As chairwoman, I don clean chair finish put leg for table dey wait una. Ngwa biko bata bata osiso osiso kam ma wedar if it is skinny jims k’obu akwa kam ga wear (please land land fast fast lemme know if it’s skinny jeans or wrapper that I’ll wear)
Monday, December 04, 2006
(saying Africa just sounds sexier and cooler)
Yes it is down to just hours. This long awaited decision is finally coming to fruition. Being able to freelance in Africa. It was a very long and contemplated one but my internship this fall at CNN (along with other positive factors) sealed the deal for me. So dear blogspot friends, this would be my last post from California and America for a while. I quit my job at KCOY, packed my s*** up, moved out of Santa Maria and currently posting on a friend's couch looking at the clock and saying to my self 'Gurl you must be crazy.' That's because I am heading to Nigeria to try my hands at freelance reporting (amongst other things) in the West Africa region.
Like a wanderer in the wilderness, I found myself in America nearly ten years ago. I was unsure of what my purpose would be but I had a vision. It has been a rough sojourn with its good times and bad times. But America's purpose in my life has been served for now and yet again I am off on another journey from whence it all began. This time I am a pilgrim with the purpose. Ok so I admit I have just been trying to use some of you to do my incognito research. I didn't quite get that camera and back-pack gear yet but I'll be teaming up with a local outfit to make things happen. Who knows, perhaps if I wow them, they'll pick me up and pay my bills;) I'll also be writing and pitching stories and articles from the region to American newspapers. The excitement has not set in yet because I don't know what to expect. But what I do know is that I can't sit behind a desk with a deafening scanner, clock ticking away, old age creeping up and waiting for other people to decide my future. Don't get me wrong, my job was cool and moving to Santa Maria was the best thing this year although I did bitch about both every now and then. But after a while I started to space out, miss my friends and family, miss the hustle, miss writing and story telling and most of all the adventure of going from getting a story idea to creating it for air. Hence I am seizing the moment because I need to do while I am still young, single and brave otherwise fear, apprehension and skepticism will get the better part of me. Can't let that happen. Plus what do I have to lose. It is a big and huge gamble, not to talk of risk. But as they say, if you risk nothing you stand to lose everything. The worst that could really happen is for me to be married off to one chief and be very pregnant in some mansion. You guys know how I am scared of being round and pregnant and having kids so 'ttttrust' me when I say this is some risky business.
So what else did I do during my last moments in America? Well considering that it will be Yam and Eggs, Bread and Butter or akara and akamu for breakfast , I had to go and get my fill of I-HOP pancakes and omelets. Also had a nice Country fried steak with mashed potatoes and sweet corn on the cob at Chilis and a Sausage Egg biscuit sandwich from Mc Donalds yesterday. I had to get my heart attack and fattening food considering the fact that the sun will melt whatever fat I have left and burn the calories without me even moving. Was on the phone much of this weekend and spent some time with some friends. I also went to Walmart and as I was walking through the aisle I was thinking to myself 'Chai so if I want to buy gummi bears does that mean i have to go to Sabo market?' Hmh...we have to find a solution. So Ndidi and Singto will be my official gummy bear suppliers. But on the flip side...NO WINTER just sweltering heat the way I like it.
Anyways wish me luck guys. If you have any great and interesting news story ideas/interview/contacts (including press) in the West Africa region or suggestions please pass them along. I am open to any angle; people, places, politics (please don't send me to one where they'll start to look for me abeg...my parents want grand kids to carry on their lap and since I will probably be having my first born at 40 it is not my time yet). You just never know where a great story will emerge from and who knows, your pitch could turn out to be the get that lands me my big break. Remember unless the lion gets his own story teller, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Help me tell Africa's story.
I'll stay in touch through the blog of course because it is such an effort calling and emailing everybody. If you are on my IM you'll get my number in a weeks time. If you already have my 919 number it means you are supposed to have my new number so please send me a note if you don't it in a weeks time. Still keep my 919 number for when I do visit. It's been a ride and I truly appreciate each and everyone that I have met. Keep watching this space for more exciting news about 'Addy's Excellent Adventures in Africa', but first I will spend the next month chilling and relaxing. I'll post pictures too, especially from my trip to my village. I am sure you guys can't wait to see those since I talk about my village so much. Hopefully my battery won't die on me man because the nearest convenience store is quite a walk. Which reminds me....I should never wait till my tank is on empty because I can't just run into a gas station like I used to and hiking is not my forte so 'Mr. Future President;)' I'm coming for my jerrycan of petrol since you have so lost this bet. Ha ha!!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Today's blog is actually on another blog. Cute. This week Bella Naija is featuring other bloggers. Check my post out today on Celebrating Nigerian Women Writers. From Zulu Sofola, Flora Nwapa to Chimamanda Adichie and Sefi Atta women are penning their thoughts and giving us great literature. Check it out, leave a comment there and if you would also like to continue the dialogue here you are more than welcome to do so. Again remember to get someone a book this Christmas along with whatever gadgets you get them. Books are priceless and most of all highly valuable because they contain knowledge. And when you do get one don't just let it be a block and decorate your house, share the knowledge and pass it around (all you borrowers sef u need to return books and not stain it with soup o. I am still looking for who has my Purple Hibiscus)
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
It is that time of the year again when we give thanks to God, family and friends for all the things they have done. I have to say that 2006 has truly been a year of unlimited progress for me and I give all thanks and glory to God for that. Funny how this time last year I was singing a different tune in my Thanksgiving 2005 post. Looking back on that and laughing, I must say that I have truly come a long way. I don't even know where to begin my Thanksgiving this year because there's so much to be thankful about, some that I am not yet even privy to speak about. First let me start with the grand testimony of the year that is evidence that God has truly been good to me in spite of my backsliding (you know we all deal with that). I had been holding this one back because I wanted it to be my Thanksgiving Testimony. Again I don't write to brag but rather that you might read and be encouraged to pursue your own blessings, never take NO for an answer and trust in God. Before I continue read this Prayer of Thanks and A Prayer by MLK that I found very moving.
Living One-Tenth of My Dream
Except for this past weekend, I have been working straight and going like an energizer bunny for the past two months. Yes I had to even work today and Friday as TV does not take vacation. I have been waking up at 4 am early Saturday morning to drive to LA from Santa Maria and sleeping on floors and couches. Do you remember the 'Immigration Matter' and the 'Praise Report'? Well that was really about an internship at CNN LA bureau. Yes... I am officially a CNN'er and this weekend is my last weekend on the internship. I almost gave it away with all the hints that I threw in. I was bursting so badly to spill the beans but I had to be principled and save the gist. It was short and only for two months, might not be a big deal to some of you but to me it is huge and massive for my resume. Do you know how long I had been applying for this internship. Since the year 2000. God is good and no about of discomfort will deter me from keeping my eyes on the prize. Basically He made me move out to California to fulfil this destiny. And it does not end there. The devil (yes oh him)tried and failed but when God has said it is yours, it is yours no questions asked. Upon all the requirements that I did not meet due to man-made error (in the nature of wrong information from the UNC dean's office) CNN overrode all that because they liked my resume. I was floored when they said you can start. As in I came close to returning the key-card they had given me on the spot because I didn't know how I was going to come out of this one. Prayers do indeed work and you guys were part of it. THANK YOU!!! So far the internship has been great. I have not met Larry King yet, but they used Addy to test his light on the Sunday before the election.. ha ha ha. I was like 'Na me be this' as I was sitting in Larry King's chair. I met Chris Lawrence, Kareen Wynter and my supervisor Sarah Weisfeldt whom I work closely with is just the best. I'll have an exit meeting hopefully next week. As normal I had been planning and strategizing how to hustle to get a gig there but God prepareth a table before me and my cup runneth over, so CNN will have to wait its turn. It is not time for me and CNN to get married, we are still doing our romancing the stone plus I am still fresh and unseasoned. The time is still coming and believe it will. When I told my friend JG he was shocked and thought I was lying because he remembered me telling him as far back as 1998 when we met that that CNN....I go make am. Even if it is to be serving coffee. This internship is just one step towards the bigger picture and thank God for opening the doors so that I can breeze in without having to do house girl. Like my brother said to me once, "Instead of serving him coffee, aim to have lunch and drink coffee with Larry King". Seeing as he is scarce and I have just one week left, I dunno if that is possible this time around, but God dey and we shall have a date. Program that into your PDA Mr. King.
Truly moving to California was a great move, even though it was bad for my social and mental life. As in my MOJO is gone, out the window and in need of a jumpstart. I don't even have energy to scope blokes talkless of hitting on one. I have only been out clubbing like 3 times this whole year. Chai!!! Anyways I thank God for giving me this job at KCOY, a great boss who is like a teacher, the wisdom and especially the courage to be able to pack and go to strange places. California was truly strange for me. Being here has allowed me to make the biggest and best decision for me and opportunities have come in ways I cannot imagine. The moving ain't over yet and I know there's more in stock and I thank God in advance for that.
Family and Friends
It is normal to thank family and friends but my thanks is not a cliche at all. My family has been great to me this year. Helping me with moving out here and calling and checking up on me all the time. They know I don't like it that much out here being by myself and all so they have been making the extra effort to call me this year. I thank God for all of them and for giving them good health. Yes we lost a few family members but I thank God for their lives and the the lives of those that have been spared. On the flip side we gained a whole lot more family members. Of the top of my head, I recall 5 babies. Wow!!
I am also very thankful to my friends who have been there for me. At first I was not going to make a list but I just have to give a shout to a few special people.
Ndidi--I can't remember the last time I did not spend thanksgiving day at your house. But we are not joined at the hips so I guess I'm on my own today. This will be short because there's Sunday, but I just want to say thank God for you and I love you.
Singto-- My darling, I know I made you mad yesterday but it was out of love and I tried :). Thank you for being yet another sister. How does the saying go... 'misery loves company'... You hate New Haven, I hate Santa Maria. I guess we can thank each other for all the phone calls and instant messaging that we did this year. It was very necessary.
Desmina-- You hardly call unless you are bombarded and harassed. But when you do we talk for hours. About what I just am not too sure but you are also special and that's what counts.
Beedee-- I cannot even start to say how much I appreciate you...you've been like an invisible co-worker. If I could have my way I'll move to ATL because of you but seeing as I cannot be in three places at the same time, we have to make do with IM. Sometimes all one needs is someone to be available to listen (in our case read) and offer advice or encouragement. Thanks for doing just that. You are loved.
UYI-- You get my Addy's friend of the year award. I cannot thank you enough because no amount of Thank you can be sufficient. True friends are selfless and noble. You are truly a friend in deed. I pray that God will bless you in immeasurable manners for you magnanimity and keep his light shining upon you. You just wait and see. When you see me on the tube please gleefully tell your children how you had a hand in getting me there. You are greatly appreciated. Thanks again.
Mo-ho-- Hmh.. what can I say. You are just special like that and I am sure you know it. I thank you for all the calls, concerns and consultations. I got nothing but 'Agape love' for ya.
Mati, Ayi, Adaeze, Maj, Enuka-- I carry you guys in my heart and though distance sometimes is a hindrance I still love you guys no less than I always have. Thanks for being my dearest and oldest friends.
To everyone else who has served a purpose in my life this year, ya'll know your selves; THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ABUNDANTLY.
To those for whom I have served a purpose, I humbly say 'you are very welcome' to your 'Thank yous' :)
2006 has been a WONDERFUL year for me. I dunno about you. I am looking forward to 2007 because it can only get better. I am very very excited about what it holds and I am so ready for whatever challenges that will definitely come up. To those challenges, let me just warn you now now, if you love yourself you better go and find one gutter to chill because Addy of 2007 is going to be twice the Ninja that she was in 2005. In this 2007 be ready to find an Indiana Jones + Rambo + Terminator if you think you can try Addy. Believe when I say I have a very big God who is on my side and He shall not suffer my foot to be moved. Word Up and hallelujah to the Saints!!!
Monday, November 20, 2006
It is 2.15am pacific and I just drove in from LAX after returning to CA from the biggest 'Owanbe' to grace NC in all the nearly 9 years that I had been there. As someone put it, parties/weddings like this only occur once in 4 years in North Carolina so you can imagine how high we were on the 'faaji & miliki'. Anyways I wish I could stay up and give you the full report but I have to try to catch some 3 and a half hours of sleep so I can be at work at 7am. But I shall be back with the report and my pictures by Monday night so keep watching this space. Meanwhile, I am sure there are enough Kodak Galleries being created today so please feel free to post your photo links (or commentary) in the comment section. Have good start to the week. Later.
Here's the first set of pictures courtesy of Singto and Oyinkan
Here's My Gallery... I didn't take a lot.
WEDDING REPORT UPDATE
For those of you who were doing shakara and waiting for invitation to come before you showed up...lets' just say you missed. HA HA HA!!! As you have heard by now and seen from all the pictures, this weekend was more than just bananas in NC. It was PLANTAINS. MEEEEENNNNN....BONE!!! Ya'll must be wondering whether NC is this bush to be hype about one party. Yes oh believe. NC is the boondocks when it comes to Nigerian festivities but we are finally on the MAP. Yes O we have finally arrived oh. So ATL and MD ya'll berra watch out, we are climbing the social ladder with a vengeance. Anyways let me too come and give you my full blow by blow coverage from the perspective of a guest. Bring out your guguru and epa because no amount of popcorn can help you enjoy this gist. Let's first breeze through the boring part (for ya'll at least)So I landed on Thursday morning at the ungodly hour of 6.30am. Ndidi came and picked me up from the airport. I was so excited to be back in NC and to see my girl. We analyzed our baffs and I can tell you that I started having my aso-ebi complex right there and then, especially when Ndidi told me she was going in trad not English wear . DAMN. This is just earth shattering. Ndidi agreeing to wear traditional without me begging and convincing her. I think I left my girl with these darned Nigerians for far too long. They are turning her into another creature. My outfit as you can see was still lace sha so it's all good. Anyways we went to the salon and then to the tailor to go pick up her outfit. After that we branched into SRI to see if there was any last minute shopping. No need. I came prepared. Went home had dinner. Ndidi made her special Lasagna. The girl can cook o. Ok.. fast forward to Friday evening. Singto lands and meets us at the mall where I am trying out those skinny jeans once again. I am trying to convince myself that I need a pair but I am just not feeling them at all. We go to my cousin's house to see my new nephew. My cousin had just come back from the engagement ceremony. After she finished giving us her own version of the engagement ceremony we were like 'hmh... this one go be helele'. We left and went to Ndidi's to go get ready for the Denim and White singles bash. Desmina would meet us there. We were all excited to be together once again.
So around 10.30pm we headed out to Cary where the singles bash was being held. It was supposed to start at 8pm but trust now. I actually wanted to get there at 8pm considering I came 'from far'. I needed to maximize my time. Lol. Folks started trickling in in their denim and white and all manners of 'abortion belts'...dunno how many future generations were choked. Anyways the party started shortly after. Omo, i didn't know we NC peeps sabi how to 'ROCK' sha. The place was packed and rowdy. After a little gallivanting and butterflying, you know looking cute for the pictures and all and saying hi to a number of people , I jejely found a clean spot on the fire place to take of my high heels and do my own dancing. I brought flip flops but I forgot them in the car. Anyways Ndidi, Des, Singto and I were just having a blast. I was even moon walking to Michael Jackson. Let's not even mention how wild it was when Shina Peters came on. Honestly I was not paying attention to anybody at the party, I was just in my own world dancing the night away. So was every body else. It was too crunk. I also met my twin, Audrey. Love her already. She takes off her shoes too when she dances. Imagine I leave NC and what do they do, they find a copy of Adaure, down to even the name. Left for me I would have stayed a bit longer just to get up to no good and be mischievous by being razz and looking for trouble. By that I mean harassing men folk...easy target. Unfortunately we had to go home and sleep so that we can have power for the next day... the D-DAY.
The Wedding Day
So on Saturday we woke up. Ndidi being the perfect hostess made us pancake and eggs and was just serving us. The girl is just wifey-material and I am sure we shall soon dash her away. After that we went to pick up some pins to tie the gele and pick up my pancake powder from the MAC counter. I sha used style to tell the girl to organized my face abeg. Considering the fact that I was not going to be wearing trad I just had to 'make-up', no pun intended, in other areas and enhance my beauty biko. The wedding was scheduled for 1.30pm but Singto was still washing her hair at 1pm. They said pastor already gave warning so the bride and groom guaranteed would be on time. We managed to leave the house soon after and on the drive I engaged everyone in a very interesting conversation that I shall not get into. I sat in between Ndidi and a friend of her's who came from out of town. I bet he must have been like this girl can talk sha. We got to the church and true true sha, like say na magic, it seemed as if every thing started with little delay because we got there at 2.30pm and one of the other preachers was already delivering the message. Damn it... I always miss the wedding solemnization. As we walked into the church, meeennn, the array of red and brown geles and aso-okes was quite intimidating. I was not sure whether I was at United Methodist in Cary or Arch Bishop Vining in Ikeja. But me and Singto were holding it down for the 'white-people-wey-their-papa-black' aka Americanas. I was just scoping out the get ups. I am not a fan of brown but the bridesmaids dresses were tres fab and the girls looked gorgeous in them and so did the bride. Then the suit that the groomsmen were wearing made us go 'hmh... that sure as heck ain't no David's Bridal suit'. Turns out it was from a pricey specialty store (we don't have Zara in NC, so it is specialty o). Speaking of the groomsmen, my homie Mo-ho was representing well and looking bunz as usual. Big G too represented at the traditional engagement with the groom and his boys as they 'dobaled' for the elders
I mean people, I am not about flamboyance and flashy flashy stuff but men I will make exceptions for weddings anysay anytime. GO ALL OUT IF YOU CAN AND WANT TO....it happens only once in a lifetime. Enjoy it and make it memorable while you are at it. That was my disclaimer. Bros and Sis, if I tell you that I have been to a party like this in this America before, I would be lying. Even in Nigeria sef, I can't recall which party it was that I attended that was blazing like this. The last thing of the sort to grace NC happened in 2003 at the Durham Millennium Hotel when some dude was throwing a party to celebrate his acquisition of a Phd (till today I swear I don't know from which school or which degree the man received, but we still went to celebrate it sha). That one was just because there were a lot of people with Mercedes Benzes. Even that medical doctor guy that appeared in Ovation, that has that massive house in Charlotte is yet to throw a party like this. Once in a while it is good to indulge oneself o, but I don't know if anyone in NC should attempt to top this one. Let's just go back to birthday parties at Chuckee Cheese and Maggianos and naming ceremonies in balconies men. Just let's marinate on this one for the next 4 years. So as we landed the Hilton, there was no parking at all. We had to go and park in some open field because all the spots were taken. Word was that there were supposed to be 800 guests. I was like where will 800 people come from, when it is not Nigeria. Omo after a while seats ran out because there were 800 people if not more there. On my table alone, there were different people taking turns at some of the chairs. The place was packed and there was soooo much grub. The menu included, Fried fish, Asaro, Puff-puff, Shish-Kebob, Ewa Agoyin, Fried rice Jollof Rice, 'designer stew' (I wanted to ask which designer, if it was Louis Vuitton or Calvin Klein but they say all that means is 'assorted' meat). I was on the look out for Iyan but by the time I went through my goat meat from the designer stew that I collected from Dare and Des's plates I was full. I couldn't even go for a second round because I was too full.
Do you recall my wedding trip of the summer in New Jersey. That wedding to was hot and in a class of its own. Everybody was rocking BCBG and other manners of designers. That was fitting of the crowd because that was an original Aje-butter wedding and all of us too that were attending were on the aje-butter level, with the exception of myself. I just happen to be able to infiltrate. But men this one was on the other extreme because BCBG would not feel welcomed at all. It would mean Biko Come Begin Go because of the aso-oke oppression and depression. No joke, this was a serious Ijebu wedding all the way...no fronting neccessary and I mean that as flattery. If you couldn't go to Isale Eko to get the lace, it was brought to you LIVE and accompanied with a juju band. The assortment of styles and geles floored me completely. Let's not even talk about the bridal aso-okes and stuff. Ahn Ahn....Where the hell did they bring that from. May be it is because I am igbo and I am not used to seeing that kind of aso-oke and lace. I mean when it comes to George , Abada and Akwete I can yarn, but aso-oke and lace is on a whole 'nother level. As we were eating we were scoping out the get-ups, these two girls had this red outfit that were made from ankara. It was very very nice and they wore it very well. They got my vote for best outfit. Ndidi and another lady had the same lace and of course we took a picture of them together. I was just taking notes of the ladies in the cream and brown lace, ya'll will soon see me rocking the knock-off version. Too dope. Let me not even start about the professionally tied geles that were just every where courtesy of Mr. Segun of the Bride's" Escort. I have heard of this guy in the past and seen his website before but I didn't know he had MAD talent until I saw for my eyes. I mean I can tie gele but this dude is the King of Gele and me I am the house girl. I mean Lagbaja should have had him in his Sketele Skontolo video because that song was made for him. I am not one to promote added expenses to wedding budget but BABES if you can you need to employ this dude to tie your gele for your wedding day. It is well worth it. The gele can do a million things for your outfit and wedding pictures. Just check this spread out.
MUSIC and DANCE
I have to admit that I am an undercover yoruba girl because I was actually rocking to juju music like no man's business. The last real Owambe that I had been to was in like 1989 or so at the one year anniversary of my landlord's death. My landlord was Igbo so you can imagine the surprise when Shina Peters and his band came to our house. We were tripping like mad (We were actually expecting Osondu Owendi because they are from the same area). We watched him play from the balcony while all the 'agbalagbas' were dancing. We too we were dancing on the balcony and trying to hide from our parents by turning off all the lights. Anyways the MC at the reception meant business when he started at exactly 5.25pm. It is like he knew what was in store. The live juju band came from Maryland as I am told and they really brought the house down. I didn't even get to see the first dance or cutting of the cake because there was just too much 'Owambeing' going on. From calling one family or group to the dance floor. Then come and seee spraying. I have never seen so many one-one dollar bills in trash bags. Even the common guests sef that were not a part of the wedding or any group were being sprayed like it was going out of style. I swear I made enough to pay for one of my excess luggage to Nigeria. Oyinkan too made so much money. Random guests at the Hilton were gazing from the door to see what all the festivity and commotion was about. Then we danced and dance and danced till we could dance no more. There was one Chinese man that was just really digging it and keying it down. All manners of Konko below, Komole, and all the ko-ko's you can think about. It was really serious. Some times I think I was born to the wrong tribe because I just cannot see an Igbo wedding being like this one. The only option we have is to bring Bright Chimezie and Oliver De' Coque out of retirement or find a knock off highlife band to play renditions of Rex Lawson and Joe Nez if at all (Ndi men we have to discuss this one with Aunty Amaks o...we have to represent for the Eastside). Kai...oh God.. this means I may need to seriously consider weighing the options based on what kind of wedding I'll end up with. The matter is perplexing. Hmh.... we'll have to get back to that on another date. But back to the dancing, once again I took off my shoes and tied my pashmina around my waist, I was not going to be out done by the mamas o. Speaking of taking off shoes and Chinese men, the only freebie that was missing were chinese slippers. You know, the mesh ones with sequins because I am sure some people's feet were hurting from all the gbedu gbedu dancing. As in what wedding freebies/favors did we not get. Coasters, cup, plate, plastic bowls, fan, gift bag with the couples picture so you can carry the stuff, name it... even SALT. WOW...that's deep. Taking it straight to the root men. It was just too authentically Nigerian. And yes we did take two containers of salt. As in enough ideas and that's just the stuff that I saw. We had to wait till the end because Ndidi's friend was playing the saxophone that accompanied the band. Singto was very tired and jejely found a chair, wrapped herself up and slept. She must have slept for a good 2 hours. The party was finally over at like 2am but by the time we got to the car it was knocking 3am. We were so freaking tired. And we were expected to go to church for the Thanksgiving service. Omo I just don't know how we made it to church, and on time too. But we were there and ready for praise and worship.
Church service was the bomb as usual, everybody should try to attend Jubilee Church in Durham when they visit NC. You will truly be blessed. It was truly GREAT seeing everybody, meeting new people and being a part of the celebration. I had a blast and a fabulous time and I miss all the familiar faces so much. My trip was well worth it. Not sure when next I will be back in NC (may be summer) but as Arnold says' I'll be back'. To the newly weds, the wedding was the absolute best so here's to wishing you guys the best blissful marriage ever, one full of love, happiness, compassion and plenty of kids. Speaking of kids, any chance you can throw another slamming bash for the naming ceremony....he he he...I kid I kid.
(I know this was kinda rough, but I have to go and pack a bit more and then go to sleep so abeg manage this write up.)
Friday, November 17, 2006
I want to bitch a little bit. How about I got my FIRST ticket on Wednesday night in Santa Barbara as I was driving from Santa Maria to the LA airport. DAMN THE C-H-P!!! Funny thing was I thought the guy was following me because I was talking on my cell phone without a hands-free set. Isn't it funny how when you are driving and you see a cop or highway patrol vehicle one starts to recite the Nicene creed, The Lord's Prayer and Psalm 123....Ye, though I drive through the valley of the lights of the CHP officers, I shall get no ticket. Anyways this officer ( looked like such a rookie too) decided to follow me a little bit without his lights and I was just praying that he would not turn his blue light on. He did, I cursed under my breathe and stopped my car. Good thing I sent in my registration for renewal when I did because that stuff is so like expired man. To cut the long story short 'chippy' claims I was doing 87 on 65. Is he on drugs. I swear I was doing 70. He started to explain to me how the radar clocked me at 87 and I was like speaking English, in an English accent, and was like 'I dunno what ur talking about 'oi' wus only doin' 65'. He was now like would you like to see the radar. I was like 'yeah'. He went and brought the thing and it read the I was clocked at 87 from 100 feet away. Whatever! That computer must have had a glitch or something. Anyways I guess I have to go to traffic school or some crap like that. There's always a first. Anyways I stopped over in Santa Barbara to meet writers Chris Abani and Ngugi Wa Thiongo at the Upham Restaurant. They were about to go on stage at UCSB.
Then I got to the airport. Another story. Ok America let me just stay this now. ZIPLOC will not deter Al Qaeda. As in I so totally forgot about the whole bring ziploc bag thing. All I knew was that you could bring your make up in small quantity. Anyways I got there and they told me they would throw away my MAC lip glosses because it was not in Ziploc. Na crase. Omo sweat wan begin fall form my face. I was not about to let that happen. I spotted a janitor and asked him for one of his clear trash bags. Ok the purpose of Ziploc is so that you can see the items..right? A clear bag does the same thing....right? Why did they tell me that Ziploc and a tied clear plastic bag was not teh same thing. O-K? I am stumped on this one. Anyways after they had told me they do not provide ziploc why did they finally go and bring one. Anyways travelling is such a hassle, it feels like you are going through screening at a concentration/boot camp. As in why don't they just tell us we can only travel in bra and panties. Why don't we just go ahead and do that. I mean who is to say that some knuckle head will not come up with a weapon of mass destruction that's embedded in the fiber of our clothing. What makes anyone think putting my lip gloss or deodorant in ziploc will save America from whatever may be contained in that lip gloss assuming it was some biological agent. Didn't these guys freaking watch the 'Transporter'. Like Dude let's get real here!!! We need to be fighting and winning the war in Afghanistan, protecting the borders and the ports not harassing travelers.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Ok so I am running around like a headless 'Okuko-Agric' (the black and white chicken) trying to get organized and stuff. No I am absolutely not shopping, rather I am sorting what I know I can part with. I have a huge family and once I land everybody will come around to shop and obtain and seeing as I am a very kind happy go lucky person it will be hard to say no as that one t-shirt, shoe or bar of soap can mean a world to the person asking. That's just how it is. I have already put money aside to buy 'Ncha na Nnu' (Soap and Salt) and 'Akpa Rice' (bag of rice) for the Mamas in the village that will come to see their daughter. It ain't like they can rock my high heels. Giving during 'Yuletide' is something we've always done in our family, just like many others do. Back then we traveled to the village in two station wagons. One packed with all of us and the other packed with food stuff. Bags of Rice and Beans, gallons of groundnut Oil we purchased from Oyingbo Market, Garri from 'Aunty Mary' at Agbor Hill, Dozens of Ejidike and Our Ladies bread from Onitsha, Palm Oil at some blue colored factory just past Benin. It was easier then because we were kids, there was abundance, things had not gotten bad then, but now that my father has 'men and women' to feed and train in university, everything I am sure is on ration. With that in mind, I decided against being foolish with the whole 'going to Nigeria for Christmas thing'. Which brings me to the topic. I had been planning to blog about this before I saw this NE forum post by BGT which captures half of what this entry is about. That bit about taking diet pills just because you are visiting Nigeria is a bit extreme, I hope that friend was just being funny. Anyways I am basically going to add the other aspect of the equation before the yarn becomes stale.
So last night I was talking with a 'wise-adviser-slash-consultant-type' friend of mine in Nigeria (not Ayi, Mati or Nunu; as if you know all my friends...lol) and I was going on about how I would like to accomplish somethings other than just club hopping and visiting all the joints that Bella Naija raves about. As man pikin dey grow old meeeen priorities have to change. Just imagine seeing your friends' kid brothers and sisters, or the ones that called you 'Senior Adaure' backing up their booty to a dude that used to toast you when you were a spring chick, is reason enough for you to boycott the dance floor and become an official wall flower. Anyways as we continued this conversation somehow we ended up talking about how the social circle of Lagos has still not changed and how intimidating it can be. It is about how rich you are, which school you went to, which car you drive, 'who is your fada', where you live, what you wear, who you hang with. People judging and snubbing based on 'stupid and irrelevant stuff'. This is common knowledge, life style of the Rich and Famous on the Island, speak only when spoken to, just like in Beverly Hills. God forbid that you don't know the 'movers' and 'shakers' of town, the ones that make City People on a weekly basis, and I am not talking about the ones that just happen to be there when 'Mr. Onye-Foto' was testing his lens. I remember my last trip how I so broke that rule and one of my girls wanted to beat me up when I gisted her. One 'hot and fine popular banker dude' and his equally tall and handsome brother tapped me on the shoulder and was trying to start up a conversation. He was like 'Hey Sexy Mama'. On a normal day Addy would have been like 'Hey Cutey, buy me a Sprite and I'm your cheap date,' batted my eyes and shined my teeth, after all me too I can be a playa-from-Himalaya ;). But on this day I was a bit reserved and apprehensive, feeling just a teeny wee bit too 'americana-feminist-slash-Shaniqua' for my own good. I almost chopped the man whole for calling me 'sexy mama'. I snapped my neck, crinkled my brow, flipped my hair and was like 'Pssh....Who the hell is your Mama... Talk to the hand'(ok so i didn't really say that but it crossed my mind). How about I went home and was flipping through Ovation and saw this dude in his wedding and was like 'Oh isn't this the guy that was cat calling me?" My friend and my sister were like, 'Ehn... izzzz a lie...did you get his number?". I was like "For what?". My friend grabbed the magazine and thwacked my head and my sister was like 'you be idiot sha'. Lol. They proceeded to give me this dudes background and history, and I was more disappointed because that was a network connection lost than anything else. So from the exchanged I gathered that it was a criminal offence not to have known the gentleman-banker and worst of all not getting his number. That moment in Mr. Banker dude's life is probably non existent to him, but for me that was Lesson 1 of '101'.
Having lived outside Nigeria so long, the whole Lagos social life can get highly irritating, especially in December, when you know that half the people aren't really like that but just have to conform, because that's just the way it it. The only way to avoid it is if you lock your self up at home or at some church.
Addy is not one to shy away from the public and I don't know how to 'shut up and just be looking'. So what then is the problem, well from the conversation it appears the unspoken rules include 'Speak only when spoken to', 'No Dancing Ajasco', 'save the no make up face for your hubby', 'bring out American accent proper', 'None of that happy hippiness', 'learn how to snub if it is not natural' and 'never hit on the guy first'. I think Addy is in a little situation here, especially with the hitting on a guy, talking and dancing part. Some of the ones that are already in our blood as Nigerian women include 'coming correct with the baffs', 'never repeating in a place where you'll be seen' and 'never compliment another chick, she wont appreciate it'. Me when I see a chick in a nice dress I always go a step further and ask where she got the dress because I want one too. I am told that is an abominable action. I think I might be spending 2 weeks in my Village and skipping all the drama abeg.
So the question is how do you guys manage to survive the social circle of Lagos, especially past January 7th when the Christmas 'red carpet', assuming you got one, is rolled up an dthe hospitality turns to 'you are on your own'. How do people function with the silliness. How do you network and build contacts without seeming like a kiss ass social climber, tagged a wannabe (that word in the Nigeria circuit is as bad as being labeled Liberal from 2000 to 2005 and Conservative or Evangelical Republican last week), a hater with 'bad-belle' when you rebel against the norm or worse yet RAZZ when you are just a non conforming oddity and don't fit into the bubble. I am sure there are people who do not subscribe to the above characterization but in general what is so bad about Lagosian being down to earth and keeping it real or am I just exaggerating, over analyzing and pulling shit outta my you know what.
By the way I am disabling the comment moderation temporarily as I won't be able to publish the comments due to my trip. I am off to North Carolina on Wednesday night to see my 'daaalins' including Oyinkan:) and to attend a wedding. I can't wait....so excited. I have missed Bojangles too. Anyways in the spirit of weddings, here are some new links that were sent to me by an 'anonymouster'. They've been floating around so you may or may not have seen them. If you have any more you are welcome to post it in the comment section.