Monday, February 19, 2007


I am fine and still maintaining my sanity in Lagos. I am sure ya'll have been worried. Me too I have been worried about you guys oh. I have not been living up to expectation and filling that void for you guys and trust me I know how that can be. Anyways I wrote the post below nearly two weeks ago but with not having an adaptor, reliable and fast internet, a flash drive and a private helicopter to fly from one end of Lekki Express to Cool Cafe on Etim Iyang because of the traffic jam that takes two hours to get out off, I am left to browse only like twice a month. But things will get better as soon as I get my Apple G4 Notebook that was on one of my many Christmas wishlists. It might not seem like a big deal to you but too me it is because that means I can retire my 600x that IBM has long rejected. But before you continue reading, there are a few updates. Singto Thanks so much for thr Gummi Bears. That must be the most expensive and well travelled packs of Gummis. I mean all the way from Connecticut via NC to Abuja then Port Harcourt and finally Lagos. WOW!! Dedication. You should have seen how I almost hugged the mail man when he showed up at my door.By the way I am no longer 'sese de' or 'johny just come'. I have managed to blend in and lose a few 'Rs' in my accent. In fact I had to pull out my accent CD and book over the weekend to get a refresher course. You know how it is in Lagos. With an accent you can get a few more zeros in business negotiations and a few more boyfriends. I got my shopping fix on Sunday at Tejuosho. I bought like 18 yards of fabric, a pair of flip flops and some 'payeents' aka pata. I don't know how but my yoruba is actually on point. I decided to play around with the bra-and-pant woman and asked if she had 32D bras. She brought out some A cup bra for me and was like 'try it first'(ladies for those of you who followed your moms to the market way way back in the day to buy training bras, you know the deal now). I looked at the woman and was like 'Ah ah mummy e wo oyan mi.. se mo kere l'oju e...ele yi kole gba osan o' (ah madam take a good look at me, do I look small to you, this bra can't even carry an orange.) Speaking of which, why do the market women insist upon singing their wares to you as you are walking by? 'Anty come and buy ya payeent, bray-zee, singlet, night gown'....'sister mek-up, lipstink, ayi-pensool, ayi-shadoh, weave-on, fixin, nail-painting?'. And the igbo boys there are still the same. I almost slapped one the other day when he addressed said to us, "oh what pretty p***ies come and buy from me." I swear I almost forgot where I was and the next thing that came out of my mouth was 'Your Mother'. That sort of thing is very normal and sometimes going to the market can be rather agonizing. But I just had to go there on Sunday especially because it would be less crowded and most igbo peeps go to church. Then Valentines day was interesting. I got a cute white teddy from someone and I named it 'Commander Lee'. Then I hung out with another friend listening to his dad's collection of fifties oldies love songs. Bougie Nigerians!! But it was neat and one of the coolest Vals day in a while because I was doing something and not watching Lifetime. And yesterday we went on a 'date by the Lagoon'. Lol. It sounds very romantic but it is very normal around here. Shoot... your tire can decide to blow on Third Mainland bridge and there you go...a date by the Lagoon. God forbid you don't have as spare tire. There is no Triple A here and chances are you will wait forever to geT that tire fixed. This week I will be heading to Port Harcourt to see if I can find any interesting stories in the Niger Delta. Did you guys see Jeff Koinange's report. See why I just love him. Fearless and one of the best. Don't mind what Information minister Frank Nweke is saying. The only sad thing about that story is that it was not a nigerian journalist who got the story. Firstly there is no respect for journalists in this country and secondly if one had gotten it chances are the reporter would have been jailed by now and the SSS would have raided whichever TV station that dared to broadcast the story. SO KUDOS JEFF KOINANGE. Hopefully I will find some thing interesting and worth telling. Anyways, I miss BLOGGINg like crazy and I miss reading all your comments. Don't worry I shall be back in the mix soon so stick with me... NAIJA LOUN WA !!! (NA NAIJA WE DEY)

Plus STV, Voters Registration etc

Today, my friends, is yet another public holiday in Nigeria. The Federal Government declared the holiday in order to avail the exploding population an opportunity to perform their civic duty. I decided to do my own part yesterday when I stood in a line at Unilag waiting to register after church. Unfortunately for me I wore a dress and became lunch for sand flies. My legs now look like candy canes because I have been scratching. But now that I am registered I am looking for whom to SELL MY VOTE TO because as I see it, the next president of Nigeria has been selected and whether I vote or don’t vote, I have already been voted for by the powers that be. Just keeping it REAL and if you don’t like that I have said that go and take Panadol/Tylenol. I will shed more light on all that another time.
The Public holiday however is not for everybody though, because just as in America , television doesn’t go on vacation in Nigeria either, so I find myself at work today instead of sleeping at home. Actually I take that back. One can forget about sleeping in my house past 6.30am (God forbid it’s Sunday) thanks to my mother insisting that ‘so long as praise is from the heart, God takes pleasure in hearing even a crow’s voice.’ You can figure that proverb out. Anyways my weekend was interesting. I went to my high-school mate’s wedding. Yippie!!! My first Aso-ebi experience. I bought the uniform gele (head wrap) and not the lace. My alibi being that I just bought shares at Transcorp and I am a youth corper. Riiiiigghhhttt!?!. Ok ok. For real men the lace was fine but a bit pricy for me, at the moment. I had to think about how far that money would go at Forever 21 versus ‘one-a-day’ baff. So I tried to go and buy fabric that would be closer in color but I was very very off point. Anyways no condition is permanent. I shall soon start working on my stock of lace and aso-oke. Speaking of shopping, I am pulling my hair out because I have not bought any new pair of shoes or clothes in the past two months. I am having some bad shopping withdrawals. In this part of the world, the average upwardly-mobile individual does ‘real shopping’ once a year. Give or take twice a year when they travel abroad for Easter, summer or ‘go to Dubai ’. The above average upwardly mobile go to London every other weekend or month and some sell stuff to the average…you get the picture. So right now, I am looking for those types of people because it is crucial. It is so crucial that I have opted to going to Tejuosho every Saturday to buy Akosombo, Woodin, London Wax et al. as a quick-fix. Don’t blame me, it is not my fault. I am a typical woman and I am wired like that. And the fact that the news paper vendors keep sticking that bloody City People/ Hint Style monthly every time you are stuck in traffic makes it even worse. As in I want to give them a slap when I call them because I want to buy a copy of This Day or Punch Newspaper and they bring all their glossy magazines instead. As if to say, ‘What is a fine girl like you doing reading about political jargon, you need to read this instead to keep up with the latest fashion and know ‘What Lagos Big Girls are Wearing,’ because you look like you need help.’

Area Boy Encounter
So I gather from the comments in the other post that some of you have seen some of my news reports on STV. One of the stories I worked on was on Children Hawking. That story was truly an initiation process into ‘how things work in Lagos .’ So the idea was to find a child-hawker and ‘get his/her story’. For some reason, that day, it was either all the street children in Lagos had gone on strike or went underground because they knew I was coming. We went from Marina, Obalende, Balogun and we could not find a single child on the street selling even pure-water talk less of groundnut. I figured probably it was too early for them and then there is this social service agency called NAPTIP ( National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons) that takes children into custody if they are seen on the street during school hours. I know it’s not an efficient agency and is just another lip service government agency because on other days I have seen up to 5 converge on one vehicle. Fortunately for us we found one boy selling bananas and we started talking to him. We found out that he was 13, had been pulled out from school because his parents were poor and he had to sell the bananas to help them feed the family. It was too good to be true, we finally found one with a great story. We felt we had hit the jack pot, not realizing where we were. APONGBON!!!! The headquarters of the Area Boys of Lagos. The ancestral home of all Lagos touts. You think Compton is bad, wait till you get to Apongbon. Forget 9mm, in Apongbon, the sharpest double-edge machete is what rules. Even mobile police men dare not show up and try to misbehave. So that’s where yours truly went to go and be speaking phonetics. After like 10 minutes, which we owe to the grace of God, one of the touts came to us, speaking in Yoruba and asking us what we were doing and who gave us permission. You know in America and any other reasonable country where things work as they should, when you are on the street, you are on public property and since your tax is what was used to build the road, you have as much right to it as anybody else. So ordinarily when a joker like this chap steps to you, that’s usually the first thing that would come out of our lips after looking around to make sure we are on public property. God save me that I did not make that mistake to quote law for this short individual, even thinking about it in my head. I would have gotten a fine, as opposed to dirty slap. My camera man told me not to open my mouth so that my accent will not give me up and that he will handle the situation.
Tout: What are you people doing, from where and who gave you permission
Cam : Ni suru...calm down…We are working o, see our ID, we are from STV.
Tout: Really, I hope that camera is not on
Cam : Ah no sir, we are doing a story on children that sell stuff (awon omo kekeke lon t’oja)
Tout: Ehn Ok… ehn you ‘av to pay (e san wo)
Cam : Ah we can’t oh… you will have to go and talk to our manager. Ok manage this one (brings out 2 N200 bills)
Tout: EEEEWWWOOOO….Kile eleyi…what is this… you can give this one to the beggars …. You see all these small small Fulani and Niger children yeah…this one is for them (despite rejecting it he still put the N400 in his pocket…two of his boys hear his loudness and join in)
Cam : E ma binu…Don’t be upset….By the way how much are you asking for (by now he sees we are in trouble and tells me to start making my way to the car.)
Tout: 10 thousand naira….ehs…Aunty where are you going, come here (nbo len lo… e sumo wan bi).
Addy: (smiling and looking the guy in the eye and trying to pull the puppy face) Leave me I am vexing now, you have spoilt my work. (E fi mi le jo, moun binu fu eh, oti da nko ti moun se)
Cam : (Talking to tout and now carrying his camera like a football under his arm) you see she is my madam and she is vexing. If you want to get anything you have to talk to her gently o.
Tout: Ahn... imagine…she is vexing for me…she can continue to vex na… if not that she is a fine girl I would beat you and her together.
Addy: Beat me ke… ah… ok…so after beating me how will you collect the money from me. Ok o…my guy lets go (signal to the cam guy to make his way to the car and throw the camera into the trunk because that is what they were after)
Tout: Ok Auntie I won’t beat you but if you want to work here you have to pay.

Addy: Ehn.. Let me go to the car and call my boss, plus I don’t have any money here.
As we are making our way the car, the driver sees immediately and understands and makes his way to his side of the car. As the driver was about to put the key to open the door, this short imp of a tout rushes from behind me and just lands the driver a slap. I stopped dead in my tracks. It happened so fast that if I did not go and stand in the middle he would have landed the guy another one. Then just right and quickly I came out of the shock and said to my self, this Negro could just bring out a weapon now and won’t mind to redesign all our faces. So just as I went in the middle I jejely took the key from the driver, came out from the middle and left them to sort themselves out. I opened the trunk and threw the camera in. By then I breathed my first sight of relief… Ok you bastard Area boys, if you like break the windscreen of the car, it is only a ‘made in Korea ’ there are plenty in Lagos . Lol. The next hurdle was to get away. My camera man was being held hostage in an argument and trying to explain our way out. Some older market women had come around to find out what was happening. This was a good sign because the women started abusing the area boys and telling them to leave us alone, especially after we had explained to them the story we were doing and they took pity on the boy. The driver was still upset from the slap and tried to speed off as the camera man was trying to make his way into the car. Why did these touts literally carry the camera man out of the car? HA!!! Abajo!!! They threatened to puncture our tire if we dared to drive off. The camera guy insisted I bring some money to just get them to leave us alone so we could leave. Since this was a Tuesday I still had some money that I had ‘obtained’ from over the weekend but the only problem was that I had allocated my funds. N500 for Lunch at Mr. Biggs( Am I the only one who loves that place especially their chicken, meat pie and jelly doughnuts…I mean donut. Everyone raises a brow when I say I eat at Mr. Biggs. I know Tantalizers is the ‘it’ fast food but their food has way too much pepper), N1000 phone credit, N500 for True Love, N500 for City People Style and N2000 for gas. It was between City People style and the life of my camera man. I had to save the poor guy. I was so glad when we left that place and each time we drive through I am always hoping the touts won’t spot us in the traffic and come to harass us. But I can be an idiot sometimes though. How about the other day we were driving through and I am looking out the window at all the absurdities that people are hawking and I spot one of the touts. Now if it were a regular person, they would have boned face, but being that I have my days, I started waving at this chap as if I had just spotted Tom Cruise. The guy started chasing us and we stopped on the side of the road. Trust these Lagos touts to flip the script once you have crossed their path.
“Ah Auntie Mi….My Aunty…Anything for Boys?” The idiot is now shaking the camera man that he almost killed as if they were frat brothers and have an understanding.
“We are just coming from Ikeja but we will see you later sha,” as if. But truly we probably would because we have to go through Apongbon quite often.
Anyways I’ll be working with STV for chop-money while I wrap my fingers and work my way around this freelancing thing. But do keep watching, I’ll try to load the video up so that those of you on Time Warner can enjoy it too. If you have any story ideas or any constructive criticism do shoot me an email.