Thursday, February 9, 2017
Some days were better than the others. Some blossomed with hope even of the little we owned. Some were just as calm and non-spectacular like the long days without electricity here in Rainbow. If we had electricity how could we even know? our bulbs had not been replaced for as long as I can remember. Rainbow! I lived here with my siblings born of different fathers by Mama. "Go slow dey da side.” The good ones would announce breaking our long chains that left us chasing after customers. Kai!I have seen sege on the streets of Port Harcourt. I had started hawking apples when it was as low as eighteen naira then Mama had not had my three younger siblings who completed the unintentional football team housed in our home at Rainbow. To call that place a home... the most dignifying title I would ever know. For the rest of the world anyone born out of our appalling settlement was a never do well. In disgust, I watched passersby hold on to their bags whenever I walked with my older brother Soba as if he was going to steal from them. The circumstances of our birth had not defined our living patterns or corrupted our choices but who would believe that with Soba’s overgrown hair and beards? Yet there must be one thing that created this divide which made these fortunate beings in fine cars think that I, Queen a twenty- two year old apple hawker could steal from them as well. Sometimes they dragged the apples and threw their money at me as the traffic lights turned green. Poverty is a bad thing. I hawked the different locations Aba road, Air force junction I sold there and I dreamed there. If we did not sell above a thousand five hundred naira daily we had no edible entitlements. Soba hawked boiled groundnuts and he was occasionally unlucky. After gathering the amount Mama had ordered us to bring home each day, I swapped trays with Soba as the male folk were quicker to buy from women especially as I was light complexioned and well curved. Mama had taught me the ways of men yet I refused to earn by her trade for there could be some other way. I set out very early and I could tell the time by some of the car owners who frequently plied my route. It was midafternoon when I turned around and could not find Soba. I scouted his possible spots vainly then I relaxed. After all he was a grown man and if he did not know better than waste his chance at supper. I touched the cars I hoped I would ride in someday I took note of how long I would wear my hair and how I would possess my steering with my left hand too and those wardens and school security officers who chase us will respect me and flash toothy smiles when I ride in my own car. I walked back to rainbow. “Queen ehhhhh Soba don hammer” “wetin…” “I say our brother don make am abi you be learner?” I was too tired to get into the details of his story. I dropped my tray half filled with apples and began to scoop rain water from the big drum outside our batcher as Gozie paced the compound in his sagged brown trouser. He kept talking about a game Soba had predicted and had won a whooping sum which was too good to be true. “We dey leave rainbow, una go go skul” That was how Mama had concluded the meeting after Soba had told us how he had made over a million naira from a sports game or whatever it was. I could go to a supermart and buy icecream without Mama bringing from her man friends, when Soba took us around in his car I felt like those women I wanted to become only that I did not drive with my left hands. I wore fancy clothes to the university as I hoped these days I prayed for not to end, I knew that I wanted something more than this was it my overly big dreams that Mama said were bigger than me or could people have these days and yet want something else to complete them?
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
According to the Albino Foundation an estimated number of over two million persons are affected with the condition of albinism in Nigeria. Albinism is a defect of melanin in the skin, eyes and hair. Ignorance of this genetic condition has unfortunately put a lot of individuals at risk resulting in ill treatment and death of affected persons. Individuals nurse wrong beliefs as to the significance of this health condition and rather shelve their ignorance with barbaric notions such as the possibility of using their body parts for rituals, and beliefs that such affected persons are evil and have no cause for existence. Those who have escaped these barbaric practices and sentiments are caught up in the web of discrimination and psychological trauma. Albino’s are a fine shade of black as well and should be given equal opportunities in the society, shown more love than they get around the world. The first step towards putting an end to discrimination of albinos is the affected individual to believe he is a fine shade of black, while organizations individuals raise more awareness that a pigmentation defect has no nexus with spirituality, families of affected individuals should also be more supportive and careful as to the management of the condition such as avoidance of sun rays and adequate provision of sunscreens by the government for persons affected while efficiently ensuring practical steps towards an unbiased treatment in any sphere of the society. This article speaks for the relatively unheard voice of a section of the society that has been meted with a great deal of ill treatment and discrimination. This discrimination is not as a result of any social or moral wrong done by them, but the glaring fact of being born with a lighter pigmentation. As a result of this, they are being treated with so much disdain by ignorant individuals. It is important to note that the foundations of great societies are built on the principles of equality and respect for the dignity of the human person. Without theses core values any society will fall into barbarism and chaos. In Nigeria, the constitutional provisions of chapter IV, precisely sections 34 and 42 protects citizens from any form of discrimination for any reason what so ever. Section 34 of the constitution provides that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and more so section 42 provides that “ A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:- be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject”. The combined reading of these sections clearly seeks to nip in the bud any form of discrimination against any sect of people for what so ever reason. The provisions of the law does not only seek to call out such acts as wrong and prohibited , but also provides a remedy in a situation where in such prohibited acts have already been carried out, or is likely to be carried out. Section 46 of the constitution provides thus” Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress”. It is sad that irrespective of these properly articulated provisions of The Constitution, fundamental human right abuse is on a steady rise and more particularly inhuman treatment being meted out to albinos is a daily occurrence. It is a fact that the dead letters of the law on their own are nothing more than words with no effect irrespective of how properly drafted they are or what good intentions they seek to achieve. The aspect of enforcement of the law is way more important than the making of law; an unenforced law is as good as the non existence of such law. In reading this, most of us will naturally push the burden of enforcement to the government. In as much as it is the duty of the Executive arm to enforce the law, in cases such as this relating to Fundamental Rights Enforcement, collective effort is most desirable. Section 46(3) of The Constitution empowers the Chief Justice of Nigeria to make rules with respect to practice and procedures of the high court for the purpose of enforcing the rights under discussion, in the exercise of the above mentioned power the purview of those who can apply for enforcement of fundamental human rights has been enlarged from allowing only those whose rights are being infringed upon to also allowing; 1. Anyone acting on behalf of another person 2. Anyone acting as a member of a class, or in the interest of a class of persons. 3. Anyone acting in the public interest; and 4. Association acting in the interest of its members or other individuals or groups With this wide range of people allowed to fight for the protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of others whose rights are being infringed upon, posterity will not forgive us if we sit, fold our arms and watch while the basic rights necessary for survival as humans are being deprived of a sect of people. It is indeed our duty to stand up and make a difference. Albinos are humans, they deserve our love and care. NO DISCRIMINATION! Merit Gogo-fyneface Esq. Uzoma Otogbo Esq.
Friday, July 8, 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016
The devil is a bastard Amadi yelled in mild tones. He had eaten nothing, hung on his lanky frame an old white t - shirt and a black jean trouser underneath the only one with an undamaged zipper. He had not cleaned the bus; sweet wraps littered the seats behind him. The loose tongued girl who had bleached her original identity into an irritable outlook of coloured veins and an extremely dark knuckles had left them there the day before. She had said too much for the petite frame she possessed all in a bid to condemn Amadi’s inability to round up her balance. “common ten naira,” he had yelled. “thief! he goat, foolish man , nincompoop…” She had called him all sorts while he beckoned more passengers. Then he began “Your father thief, your father he goat, your father foolish man…” The girl’s father was every wild curse that flew out of her pink coated lips. Now he sunk into his seat, tucked the two hundred naira notes he had carefully stolen from his mother’s safe and with loud disco music, he began his day. He stopped at Rumuokoro to convey some passengers. “Hold your change ooo now na morning” he howled as they boarded his bus. From Rumuokoro it had been a speedy uninterrupted ride to Chakiricha, and as he headed towards Rumuigbo his nightmare awaited him. On seeing the lengthy traffic, he tried vainly to suppress the growing urge for lawlessness, swerving to the opposite side of the road. He sped cautiously and was more excited discovering other defaulting drivers on the one way path he had veered to but the stupidity of his heroism ended faster than he had envisaged. Like the speed of lightening, the bus ahead of his landed in a parking space and the driver flew out leaving his car door wide open, passengers fled in the same manner flies would at the scent of kerosene. Amadi realized what this meant, only he was not as swift as the other driver whose shadow could not even be invoked by the most powerful medicine man in Isiokpo where Amadi hailed. He heard the long gun against his side mirrors, the determined footsteps behind him closer and closer but he ran still. Luck had failed him and his prayers could not penetrate the high heavens. The devil is a bastard! He yelled again as the last footstep of the soldier ended the chase. Punches followed in quick successions which denied Amadi the sight of the folds on the soldier's face before deciding he was a brutal one. “You dey craze?” he asked, dishing more blows and an angry stare in his blood shot eyes affixed on a robust face which he hung in the air like the left palm of a newlywed bride. Now he unintentionally gave Amadi some time to catch his breath as he wiped his face from his forehead downwards with the index finger on his right. Amadi had no answer, pain robbed him of words and strength yet he thought the soldier man smelt of what he could liken to a compelled obedience such that if their lives were swapped Amadi could bet he would have plied his bus in the same lawless manner that had fetched him this trouble. Then Amadi’s guts heightened and he forced a frown which as he intended was acknowledged by the soldier only that it had earned him more beating and the last punch had left him lifeless as the money he had stolen from his mother's safe fell off his pocket.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
White places on initial display presents as a collection of short stories chronicling the individual lives of a generation-the first generation of Akelachi Nicholas,comprising her immediate and extended family. The book which is predominantly set in the south-south of Nigeria, Port-Harcourt to be precise, takes you on a journey through the western and northern parts of the country depicting the harrowing experiences of several characters who have their roots in the south except for Alex Gonji. In as much as White Places ends on a somewhat joyful note, it cannot be classified as a comedy. It is a compilation of heartrending real life experiences fictiously told to evoke the readers empathy towards revolutionising our value system. Hence the book, White Places, is a coming of age story White places opens with the story of Alex Gonji- which narrates the ordeal of a slum boy who more than anything else desires to live the kind of life his father failed to provide them before his demise. The life his neighbourhood gossips feel they don’t deserve. Gonji’s sojourn in Mr Stone’s house brings to mind Ferdinad Oyono’s house boy where Toundi works as a domestic staff in a white man’s household. This takes you to pre-colonial times in remiscent which contradicts with the present day reality of the demolition saga that once rocked the capital city Abuja. The past and present are neatly fused together as one tail. Edeva Kolade loses custody of her son after serving a jail term for killing her husband Kolade. A man whom she gave life by donating her kidney against her mother’s wish. According to her “a rootless bastard” like Kolade deserved nothing but death. But Edeva herself is a victim of certain societal ills which is a bye-product of poor parenting. As a parent, teen and sex education counsellor, I can relate closely with Edeva’s plight as a case of child sexual abuse and its attendant challenges of sexual perversion, which has in no small measure contributed immensely to the trending LGBTS- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender society. For the sake of the love they lack, they seek love in aberration to the natural laws of desire, thereby angrily seeking attention. When parents become too busy and preoccupied with their selfish ambitions and societal class, predators like Evangeline are inevitable. Edeva is a prototype of many women- she is the pervert who becomes a faithful and sacrificing wife and then metamorphoses into a murderer, avenging her husband’s infidelity with Nse, her maid. The story of Edeva Kolade one I find most intriguing. Sandra Minima loses both parents in Northern Nigeria, Kano. Her father to insurgency, and her mother to the shock of the news . She finds her husband on her return journey to Port-Harcourt. This story with its northern lexicon aptly describes life in northern Nigeria, and the plight of soldiers at the fore front of insurgency. This gives the book it's plausibility. Tosin Alakija is the fearless one, she will not accept violation and intimidation by her step father, Nicolas. A man who commands a worship of an indistinct element to which Tosin’s unyielding attitude fast tracks her eviction from home.She joins her father at Iwo without prior information of life in Iwo. Tosin is fearless and would rather die accepting violation than live facing it. Chikwado Kuforiji- the twenty five year old albino who believes so much in Yemi’s love is stupefied when that love could no longer contain her light brown skin. Yemi dumps her, but not without having his way with her. She takes off her church girl clothes and begins to thrive on borrowed robes. She goes clubbing ,lands herself a marital goldfish in Kuforiji whose appetite for sexual perversion is unsatiable. He makes a whore out of her. Though in affluence, Chikwado lives a life of pain. In a bid to get rid of the pain, she hires a mistress to whom she eventually loses her husband and marriage, gets caught in a web of infidelity with an unplanned pregnancy for Daniel her campus sweetheart. From the story of Rosaline, Akelachi’s maid, we revel in the spirit of resolution as Rosaline begins to connect the stories one after the other. Rosaline’s revelation hit me like the wave of a magic wand taking the scales of your eyes. Edeva is Akelachi’s niece. Her mother, Mrs Odogwu, is Akelachi’s sister , same as Eruchi, Sandra’s mother. Akelachi is abandoned by her husband Nicholas after burning her back with an iron for speaking out against his advances and lustful desires towards her daughter, Seyi, who eventually elopes with him. That marked the beginning of her silent sorrows. Akelachi concludes that all three sisters are under a spell- the spell of failed marriages, filthy cravings and misguided children. Wilson ,Rosaline’s boyfriend is Alex Gonji-the slumboy has become a notorious conman who deceives Rosaline into staging the robbery of her boss with a fake promise of marriage. When the deed is done,he leaves town to reunite with his childhood sweetheart Fatima in holy matrimony. Rosaline's bosom friend, Adaugo suffers the fate of being jilted by her sweetheart, Azania. When Yetunde's bottom power fails to secure her a place in the industry as promised by Danladi, she settles for Remilekun who lives on everything borrowed. Akelachi while on a solution quest to revoke the spell hovering over her generation, finds salvation. White places is a ninety five page fast paced and suspense filled ten chapter novel with every chapter named after a character. The book that raises enormous twenty first century issues which we are still grappling to come to terms with. At this point: let me paraphrase my blurb that White places brings to the fore salient issues which we have hitherto been silent about; feigned ignorance living in denial. But these issues are as real as the word “REAL ". Everyone is shrouded in some form of charade as we all have our peculiar challenges. Sexual issues in marriages are real- beyond that, one is either having too much of it, less of it, or an anomaly of it. Infidelity has great consequences both for the male and the female. Kolade and Abayomi both lost their lives to it. While Chikwado survived with an unplanned or rather an undesirable pregnancy. The signs of an abuser are always there. Mothers, speak up and protect your daughters for posterity sake. Stop protecting husbands. All actions must be carefully weighed to avoid future skirmishes. The consequences of any action are inevitable. Edeva kills her husband, serves a jail term and loses custody of her daughter. At first unremorseful, but bouts of regrets kept painting her memory. Some love to win; others love to lose. Sandra's love story is flawless unperturbed by the ephemeral hassles of marriage. The child you are not concerned about today will become a concerned in the future. Somewhere in the dark corners of a bedroom, a wife is playing whore to her husband. Ever heard of the saying, “a patient dog eats the fattest bone”. What Roseline had patiently waited for in all her years of loyalty slips off her hand like a slim fluid washed off with alum. White places cuts across borders, each story represents a unique sphere of our existence . It succinctly portrays the very essence of literature as a reflection of society.The work is devoid of romantic complexities and explicity Hence it a book for everyone. Through flashback and the first person narrative, Merit tells her stories in a non- linear plot such that each story stands on its own with all the elements that make it a complete story. Merit achieves prosaic aesthetic in her unique and careful selection of diction tomorrow suit the registers of each story. Words make up a writer' s toolbox and Merit's expertise at pulling the right tool for each predicament expressed in this work is highly commendable. Roseline tells her story in the lucidity of a language that befits her status as a maid. The infusion of indigenous names and places flaunts the book as a proudly Niger Delta initiative further spreading our penning prowess. If I were to fault merit,it would be for the effrontery to confront present day realities with a firm resolve to curbing. Merit has contributed immensely to virtue and knowledge. In concluding,White Places is a book for the now; it leaves us with a strong message of restoration and hope via salvation without being overly religious. No matter how messed up we think our lives are; God can still give us beauty for ashes- a second chance! As a poet and writer, I draw inspiration from almost everything. I wrote a two line poem after reading this awesome work of art... White Place! Where we begin and end Walking through life' s bend! White Places is a must have: must read: any day, anytime and anywhere. I want to be like Merit when I grow up. Thank you.