The Young and Disenchanted

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Yellow Fever

It happened again, you fell asleep on the wheel. You wake up to the sounds of cars honking around you, people passing by a shouting expletives and throwing finger signs and speaking in a language you dont understand, totally drenched in sweat, you look like you just took a swim in the lagoon. Sounds of the newest Dbanj song are blaring from your car radio. You look around quickly, say a word of apology to the passers-by, start you ignition and move your car forward. But alas, you only moved about 2 feet. Goddamn it, your air conditioning is not working, you are stuck in a traffic jam and you have to keep your windows down and enjoy the loud noise that surrounds you.

You look over at the danfo (small public transport buses) and you see a young lady, you would eye flirt but you are just way too pissed to work your mojo right now. On any other day, a sweat drenched lady with her shirt half buttoned down would be quite exciting to any heterosexual male. You look more closely at her and you see she is wearing a look on her face akin to someone about to take a crap, so not sexy. She looks squeezed like a sardine in the vehicle sticking her face out the window for a gasp of fresh air.

The young lady in question sits in the packed danfo, a slave to the sweat. She unbuttons the top two buttons of her shirt and looks at the window and notices a man in a car looking intently at her. She shrugs, whatever tickles his fancy, I m gonna try and get some air so she sticks her face out of the window. The guy sitting next to her has been basically copping a field the whole ride but she cant complain, 5 people are sitting in a row meant for 3, her thighs are so together they almost look like they are one piece. Behind her, an elderly lady continues to preach. She is shouting amidst the noise and in the traffic, she has been talking for the last 2 hours they have been in traffic telling the crowded bus to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. The young lady almost has a good mind to tell her to shut up but she knows that the rest of the bus will tell her to keep quiet and ask her if she got not respect. So she sighs and continues to look outside.

Two motorcycles/scooters/okada manoeuvre past in between vehicles as they often do in such choked up traffic. One hits the other and it falls down with the passenger on it who hurts his knee. The man driving the okada and his passenger stand up and grab the man who hit them as he tries to make a quick escape on his okada. Its amazing how they just yank him and the motorcycle moves on hitting a car. They proceed to hold him by his shirt and keep yelling at him. In the meanwhile, the owner of the car that got hit comes out and joins in what soon becomes a brawl. The other people in the vehicles watch on as this further complicates the traffic situation that was at least moving an inch at a time. Eventually the man, whose car got hit, gets back in his car, no insurance exchanged or nothing. He is satisfied to have vented some of his frustration by hitting the okada man in the eye. The okada man and his passenger, who were hit, get back on their okada and continue to wade through the traffic congestion.

In the midst of this mayhem, you would be missing something not to mention the men and women who manage to sell their wares in the midst of this traffic in the hot sun. From the man selling sausage rolls, cold drinks and candy to the man who sells paintings, rat poison and cane chairs. The traffic jam is like a supermarket, visa and mastercard accepted although I doubt you will get it back if you decide to give them your credit card.

The traffic picture isn’t complete without the white couple in the jeep behind you. Their windows are wound up, they have their air conditioning working and they are being driven by a chauffeur and I kid you not they seem to be drinking white wine or champagne in the back.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a snapshot of what traffic in Lagos, Nigeria can be and is actually based on some of my experiences commuting in the city. Hell hath no fury like a traffic jam in lagos, stuck in a vehicle with no air conditioning. I think I ll take freezing cold Siberia for a $100.

The title of the blogpost is from AC/DC, as an 80s baby I love me some 80s classic rock. It your boy!

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Kumbaya

Imagine a world of no conflicts, a world where everyone believes in the oneness of the human race. A world where people of all races sit down together and share equally in the wonderful resources the earth has to give. Africa and the Middle East are peaceful regions. The distinction between the third and first world, the developed and the developing, no longer exist. Racism, tribalism, xenophobia are all things of the past. The human race respects nature and the environment is safe. On that day, human beings shall hold hands together and we shall sing “Kumbaya” in unison.
Now to the realists/cynics amongst us, this vision of the world is unattainable. For such a world to exist we would have to give up the selfishness which marks us individuals, part of what defines us. While I do generally agree that this Kumbaya existence in unattainable, I do however feel that as humans we have the responsibility to try our best to eliminate bias and prejudice in every area of endeavor.
The reason I’m even thinking about this “I have a dream” scenario is because as an African, and specifically as a Nigerian, I come across all sorts of bias and prejudice in my daily life. I have always been of the opinion that education and exposure helps to lessen ignorance and hence helps to stem the tide of bias. It then surprises me that as a Nigerian that people, educated or not, are more concerned with what ethnic group I belong to than anything else about me. I say this because within the context of Nigeria or even Africa, people find it hard to place my ethnic group based on my name and hence I get all sorts of questions, “Are you really Nigerian?” “Are you this tribe, that tribe or the other?” – all of which are typically wrong. I am yet to meet a Nigerian even when I was in the US who wouldn’t, knowing that I’m Nigerian, ask as a follow up question to “What is your name?” what my tribe was.
Now there are people that would blame this on the colonial strategy of divide-and-rule. The colonial rulers played one tribe against the other to ensure easy rule although before the colonialists came, I am sure tribes were conquering each other and fighting. You would think over time people get over certain prejudices. Then again, it’s almost 50 years after the end of colonial rule and to the best of my knowledge Nigerians and Africans in general have been traveling to other lands and getting educated on the bigger picture. I say this because from my own experience, going to study outside my country provided me the opportunity to see the issues that are affecting my country outside the lens of tribalism. It gave me a sense of the bigger picture in the sense that I began to see my fellow Nigerians not as people of this or that tribe but as my fellow Nigerians. I also began to see my fellow Africans as brothers with whom I could share some common experiences. I would even venture further to say I see African-Americans as cousins of some sort and, in the complete Kumbaya state of mind, I judge a person by their merits and not by their skin color or culture. Of course as a human being, I’m not immune to all forms of bias, but I try to not let these biases be the major decision-makers in my life.

To put my thought process in context, I recently came back to Nigeria after studying in the US, and I am settling in for what could be a year or more in Africa. What has struck me while I have been back is hearing supposedly educated people spew stereotypes about a person of one tribe or another. You can walk through the streets and hear stereotypes that the Yoruba man, for instance, is dirty by nature, the Igbo man loves money and the Hausa man is an uneducated Islamic fanatic who rules and consumes all the country’s wealth. I am from the northern part of the country, where the Hausas/Fulanis are the majority tribes so anytime I tell someone I am from the north, it is assumed that a) I am a Muslim b) I am uneducated (they are surprised to discover I have finished university) and c) I come from an area that is wealthy. Of course all stereotypes have an element of truth: Nigeria is a country with enormous wealth and the north of the country has held power for longer than the other regions. The country is also has an illiteracy rate of almost 50%. The surprising thing about these stereotypes is that there are sometimes physical attributes that go along with them: the tall, skinny Fulani man, the light-skinned Igbo chap, the dark-as-hell Yoruba man and so on and so forth. If you look closely though, these so called physical attributes are almost complete hogwash as many people defy these parameters of identification. It still amazes me that people treat me a certain way because I look like I’m from a part of the country that I’m not. When I am in the northern part of the country, people sometimes treat me with disdain and speak in the language not knowing I understand, whereas when I’m in the southern part of the country, people speak their language to me and are surprised when I don’t understand them.
Now I am not anti-culture, nor do I advocate the adoption of European culture where all ethnic barriers are lifted and Africans sing Kumbaya with a Yorkshire accent. I say this because I have often been accused by people of my own ethnic group of having no respect for our people or culture because I feel we aren’t so different from others. I feel that there is a strong problem when people of different tribes do not take the time to appreciate and learn from each other’s cultures. I feel there is a problem when people of one tribe make it difficult for people from two different tribes to marry. Of course, times are changing and there are intercultural marriages, but there is still a deep suspicion of people of different tribes often steeped in the stereotypes many people already hold. I think there is a problem when as a governor, minister or president in my country, if you don’t provide dividends for people of your tribe as opposed to for all people in your constituency, you are seen as a traitor. Now I ask you how such a country hopes to progress even with loads of oil wealth. Would the US, for instance, expect President Obama to develop only Illinois at the detriment of the other states in the union? That would be ridiculous. It is a problem when people look at political appointments on the basis of ethnic affiliation, not in terms of merit and experience. There are very few technocrats working in the Nigerian government. And they are hoping to achieve the millennium development goals? I call bullshit on that one.

The same discussion could apply to religion in my country. Nigeria is statistically almost 50% Christian and 50% Muslim. As a young kid from a Christian family, I always wondered growing up why none of the Muslim kids would come and play with me. As I grew up and eventually made Muslim friends in places such as boarding school, it occurred to me that sometimes Muslim parents and Christian parents alike, depending on how fundamentalist or firebrand they are, often discourage their kids from playing with kids of the other religion. Now I wonder, if I had some Buddhist kids around, would my parents have let me play with them? I can speak for Christianity since I grew up in a Christian family. Christians in my country take religion more seriously than the damn colonialist missionaries who brought it to them. Nigerians are highly religious – it’s the only country I know where literally every street has a church or mosque on it. It doesn’t just stop there: in certain volatile parts of the country politicians often use religion to incite violence. The Christians often even argue amongst themselves, along the Catholic/Protestant line, each believing the other is wrong. It is a Nigerian Anglican archbishop that is spearheading the move by the African Church to leave the English Communion for appointing a gay bishop. I find it ironic that one of the most religious countries on earth is also one of the most corrupt. Now I wouldn’t want to make any inferences here on the role of religion in corruption because that’s a whole other discussion.

Now imagine a world rife with conflict, where each group is at another’s throat, where fighting between tribes and genocides are common place. Imagine a world where we murder anything that we perceive as different from us. I think it doesn’t take a genius to see that such a world needs progress. So my dear friends, what experiences in your life sometimes have you wishing for a world of equality and equal opportunity under the sun?

The song I had in mind as I was writing this was “If I ruled the world” by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill. I certainly miss Lauryn Hill, homegirl needs to get back pronto. Nas has always been one of my favorite rappers, dude speaks knowledge, if he listening, we need another “Illmatic” bruv.

Sleep is for chumps 

So I m up at 6am in the morning on a Saturday morning, wondering why in hells name am I hearing moaning from the next door. Maybe not why am I hearing this but more like how. I got my music on, listening to some Jason Mraz “I m yours.” Yet the groaning and moaning coming from the next door pierces through the sound coming from my $50 speakers. That’s what you get for not getting BOSE speakers. Now I shall move to talking about pipes (code word for sex). I am proud of the plumber next door; I figure he is fixing the sink pretty well. Using his wrench, he seems to be twisting it harder and harder. Yet the sink seems to be gushing and making a weeping sound. The analogy of sex to plumbing always cracks me up. You are talking to one Negro that can never hate on the player so I shall stop talking about some other Negro getting some and focus on why the hell I am up this late.

Before I came to college, I slept pretty regular hours. Maybe I lie a bit but I can hardly remember ever seeing the sunrise. The latest hours I can remember were like maybe 2am or even 3am. Those ‘late’ hours mostly involved watching late night TV because during the regular hours TV was on news courtesy of my father or TBN (gospel channel) courtesy of my mother, both of which in my younger days I didn’t care for. Actually I still don’t care much for watching the news, I rather read it online or hear a dude with a British accent deliver the news on BBC because my ass is so colonized. My late hours in my teens include my first experience of pornographic material. In my case, it must have been when I was 13 or 14 years old. I actually stumbled upon it. If you have lived in English-speaking Africa in the last decade you have heard of DSTV. Our South African Satellite Company that provides western TV to Africa for some cheddar in expenditure. Anyway their movie channel progressively got more adult on Saturday nights eventually culminating in soft-core porn. The thing is I almost got caught several times by my light-sleeping father but alas I was too legit to quit. Got my hand on the ‘alt’ button and switched it to CNN with the quickness and acted like I was sleeping, simply genius. Of course, kids or people of hyper conservative leaning, I am not advocating porn I actually have a point. The reason I remember this is that that watching soft core porn on a weekend at 13 included me hearing some moaning and now 8 years later sitting in my room typing this also has me hearing moans except I am not seeing any ‘titties’ now. It amazes me how things remain parallel after so many years.

I can’t blame my insomnia completely on college. I could see the signs at an early age. I don’t want anyone to misconstrue my sleeplessness for hard work or dedication. Hell to the No. Some of the best sleep I have is the day before an exam. In the beginning AKA freshman year, I was introduced to red bull. I walked into a seven eleven and asked my Indian brother behind the counter for something to keep me awake. I felt like I was going to fall apart. Homeboy pointed me to a gray can with some blue on it and I had of course seen the commercials that said it gave wings. The red bull called to me and was much more enticing than a naked Angelina Jolie beckoning to me. All it took was a sip and I felt like a super human. My life was never going to be the same. I felt like an evangelical that had just accepted Mr Jesus (Hey-sus) into my life. Eventually, I acquired the ability to stay awake without the caffeine or red bull. Now as I speak to you, I have the ability to stay awake till 6am without the use of any substances. I have become quite the nocturnal creature. I always joke with people when they ask why they haven’t seen me around that I am like Batman, I only come out at night and in the day time I am so fast like Bruce Wayne in his Lamborghini.

Why do I enjoy this? I think a part of me has always been in love with solitude. Growing up as an only child I had more time to my thoughts than other people. Late at night when other humans are sleeping is the time I like to sit down and plot how I can take over the world, just kidding. I gather my thoughts together and potential things to think about include ex girlfriends who seem to be planning evil against lil ol me, my general lack of trust of people and accompanying paranoia, my money making schemes, ‘love’ (think it’s a bunch of hooey) interests and all things young and disenchanted people think about. Another reason is that sometimes staying awake is the only way to run away from my dreams and nightmares. Dreams scare me as well. Sometimes dreams reveal things that you aren’t ready to deal with. Some of these Things are seemingly good such as new relationships and potential ones that are exciting your subconscious. I detest dreaming about women/girls in a romantic way. It confuses my life. Some might call this me trying to run away from my emotions. When you dream about kissing a girl you thought you weren’t romantically interested in, it creates problems when you see her the next day. Sometimes the fear of rejection could make a dream turn into a nightmare. No one likes nightmares; yes I do state the obvious. Like having a dream I met the devil and his name was Christoff and he was blonde with a black trench coat and smoking a cigarette. Don’t ask me about these things ask my subconscious.

lovely song by Jason Mraz, I m yours. Soothes my soul.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Z2EvsOhFw

Why do you stay awake? I’d love to hear from you.

“Get Money”

So, the other day I was watching “Boiler Room,” a movie about shady stockbrokers who sell people shares that don’t exist. In the current climate, that story sounds like a Madoff scheme. A quote from the movie boiler room got me and my friends pretty excited. The quote went like this:

“They say money can’t buy happiness? Look at the fucking smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby. Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn’t fucking have any.”

I am a lover of money. Who isn’t? If you are not, something is wrong with you. I digress. As a young lover of money you are definitely going to see kids with the latest cars who travel all over the world first class, who call Donald Trump Uncle Donnie and all that good (or not so good) stuff: enter the world of the Trust Fund Baby (TFB). While we’re trying to get money like the 50 Cent song says, they’ve got it, spent it, played with it and are bored of it.

Who is the TFB? We often have a love/hate relationship with them. On one side, the media paints the picture of a spoiled brat who has everything that the masses envy, and on the other side (weighing two thousand pounds and in red trunks) is the image of the kid who has all this money but is sad on the inside, and therefore does coke and all sorts of drugs to get the illusion of the happiness that money does not bring.

Because unhappiness is when you can say, “Ooh I’m sad because my dad bought me a Mercedes instead of a Maybach.”

Once again I’ll reiterate: don’t that sound like some crap spewed by some Freudian misfit who thinks everything is linked to a crappy childhood? That’s just my opinion. If you disagree, write yours below.

This is what I think of the TFB:

1) They are the kids at every party in college. They have fun, and all they need to do is get a passing grade to claim their wealth (A certain Yale graduate with the middle initial W comes to mind). It doesn’t matter if it is a frat party or a party they host at a club. They buy people drinks and come with a large entourage, even though everyone wonders how such an asshole has so many friends. I say this with no saltiness implied: some TFBs are indeed very nice people, but those are mostly the ones who aren’t too ostentatious. These are the kids that also think up of ideas like an all-naked party or a swingers party in college when clearly they could get into a lot of trouble if found out. No worries for them though: Daddy will pay for a new building to smooth things over with the administration.

2) The really really wealthy TFBs try to keep it on the down low. Yes, they might hang out with regular kids, but we all know that some of these kids might have their own islands and stuff. Believe me, they are purposefully trying to sell themselves short. This comes with the Freudian hullabaloo I was talking about earlier: the exceedingly wealthy kid who was wealthy from a younger age looking for genuine friends and validation. But then again, I might be making gross generalizations. Maybe the wealthiest dude at your school has the Rolex on, rides a big ass car with 32 inch rims that rotate counterclockwise and the sweet ass DVD players on the seats.

3) In most cases they have no comprehension of struggle and can have their parents bail them out of anything. This point though applies to any spoilt brat out there. In some sense, the Trust Fund Baby is dependent and independent at the same time: independent because they got all this money and they can experiment with ideas and can use their money and influence to get what they want, but dependent because this money is not theirs.

From my experience, I noticed that my parents interfered in my life a lot less when I started doing some work at school and didn’t ask them for money that much. Even though the difference was minimal, I was able to do what I wanted: take trips to Vegas if I wanted to without asking anyone because it was my money. In this sense, the TFB is dependent on the source of money because they do not – or cannot – typically do this.

So what gives me the right to write about the TFB when from all indications I am not one? Well, there is the right to free speech. AND I am of the inclination that my hustle as a young and upcoming person is for the sole purpose that my kids become TFBs in the future and have that dynastic wealth. Of course, many of my opinions are somewhat stereotypical, but every stereotype has an element of truth to it. You are partly a product of nurture. Some TFBs vary from this general outline: the above discussion doesn’t completely apply to them.

In my mind’s eye, the Trust Fund Baby is invincible. For all intents and purposes, I will say that for the young and disenchanted, money DOES buy happiness and if it is the root of evil, we all like evil and are naughty so its nothing but a g thang.

I am trying to get money and you know you are too.

Since I tried so hard to embed the youtube video to the 50 song but couldn’t, I will put the link. Not that I am a 50 cent fan – I think he is a schmuck and should have his minoris (balls) cut off. Hip Hop Murderer!

Here is the link:

PEACE, LOVE AND IGNORANCE

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