Friday, March 28, 2008

Gentleman No Dey O!

I read somewhere that when Jackie Robinson was signed as the first black man to play Major League Baseball, he was told there were certain things he could not partake in. These included foul language, alcohol, cigarettes, and (naturally) women. He was told that he had to be a model citizen and human being if he wanted other black players to follow in his footsteps. Of course, the white players on the team could cuss like sailors, drink like fishes, smoke like chimneys and hump like rabbits, but ole Jackie would only be allowed to watch them with longing in his heart.

Today, there are several black players in major league baseball (in fact, the MLB now says there aren't enough) and is consequently doing its level best to rekindle interest in baseball among black kids. But, like typical persons of African descent, they're mostly interested in basketball and football, which are the sure-fire tickets to large paydays. Baseball is doing ok, but many black kids dream of being like Mike.

Also, in today's MLB, the black players may use whatever swear words cross their minds, swim in bath tubs of beer, snort cocaine, smoke weed, and have orgies that would put the Romans to shame. America came around, and decided it was ok for the black guys to do whatever the white guys did. And boy, have they revelled in their freedom.

Now, we have one Senator Barack Obama (D, Illinois) or B-rock (thanks kulutempa), who is the first black man to be allowed to play American politics on the grandest stage of them all - the race for the White House. And like countless black men before him to challenge a white dominated establishment, he's had to be a gazillion times better than any of them just to get his foot in the door. And he's been pushing the door wider with every passing week.

When the race for the Democratic Party's nomination began, everyone expected it to be a coronation of Hillary Clinton. She'd been hotly tipped for the nomination as far back as the day her husband left office. Indeed, in the elections for New York's Senatorial Seat, coming in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks (during which Rudy Giuliani covered himself in glory for his handling of things in New York City) she proceeded to wipe the floor with Giuliani. During the last presidential race, she didn't run, mainly because she hadn't put enough on the ground, but even as the contest between John Kerry and Dubya was rounding up, Hillary let it be known that she was coming in next. At the time, there was no visible, credible opposition to her ambition, and she strutted around, probably choosing the drapes she would like in the Oval Office.

Then, the junior senator from Illinois stepped up. At first, people tended to dismiss him as another Jesse Jackson, who would make some noise, then fade so Queen Hillary could strut her way to the nomination. Hell, even this writer didn't think B-rock had as much chance as a snow ball in hell. (I'd have wagered money on the snowball, truth be told.) Then B-rock started winning. After he picked up his first few, Hillary went on air and shed some tears, then picked up a win. Then B-rock went on another long streak of wins, handing Hillary resounding defeats in primary after primary, and caucus after caucus. He picked up endorsements from some of the powerhouses in the Democratic party, including the entire Kennedy family, and overtook Hillary in campaign fund raising (a lead he still hasn't relinquished).

Then things started getting muddy, as Hillary and her husband decided to go to the Karl Rove School of Political Chicanery. Pictures of B-rock in traditional Kenyan dress, including headgear, were released by Hillary's campaign. The intent was to portray B-rock as a muslim. The staffers responsible for the incident "resigned" and Hillary's campaign went on. After that, they started mentioning his middle name, Hussein, and trying to whip up some of that good ole anti-Islamic sentiment. Through it all, B-rock refused to participate in the mudslinging, even though it ended up costing him California. Then she complained that B-rock was getting favourable coverage by the media! I mean, he's wiping the floor with her in vote after vote, and she wants them to talk about her? One of her campaign staff then said that if B-rcok wasn't a black man, he wouldn't be in the position he was in, ovbiously telling people that B-rock's wins were some kind of affirmative action. At first, Hillary merely distanced herself from the statement, without asking the woman to resign. Eventually though, Hillary bowed to pressure, and the woman "stepped aside."

Then Hillary started talking about B-rock's "lack of experience" and ran a "ringing phone" campaign ad calculated to whip up fear in voters. These enabled her to take Texas and Ohio. B-rock's controversial pastor then entered the equation, and this was used by Hillary to its maximum potential. Only the fact that B-rock is a gfted, nay brilliant, orator, was able to save his skin. Never mind that the said controversial pastor was received in the White House by Bill and Hillary Clinton while the former was POTUS.

Chxta has pointed out that it is perhaps time for B-rock to get into the gutter. While I am no fan of gutter politics, I certainly know that it is the single dirtiest game on earth, and American Politics is the king rat in that particular sewer. There is no way you can say "I'm a clean fighter" and get into the ring with Mike Tyson. In a certain video, Bruce Lee pointed out that in order to win a fight, you must be willing to adapt your style to match you opponent. He once grabbed a fellow actor from behind and held him in a choke hold. When the actor asked what to do in that situation, Bruce Lee simply said, "Bite me." The guy looked shocked that the undisputed king of martial arts would advocate stooping to such "underhanded" tactics. Then Bruce Lee said, "If you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. If you pour water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Be water."

The long and short of that video was "Fuck Queensbury rules." I hate to say it, but B-rock must be willing to take the fight to Hillary on her own level. If that means dropping the Harvard inflections, and becoming more "street" so be it.

Hillary has handed him the perfect weapon - her lies about Bosnia. And simply saying things like "Experience, huh?" don't cut it, I'm sorry. He has to get in there and force people to take a good hard look at her so-called "experience" and realise it's all just smoke and mirrors. I know the Republicans are waiting for it to get really nasty so they can preserve their dirt-digging energy, but B-rock, despite everything, is still outraising John McCain, the Republican Presidential Candidate, by a whopping 5:1. A few choice revelations about Hillary, some more uncovered "misstatements" etc. Get people to know the real Hillary, not the one parading about in public. Strip her of her cloak of respectability, and bring out the woman who spat four letter tirades at Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair and hurled a table lamp at his head.

B-rock needs to get under her skin in the same manner. And adopt the following as his new campaign slogan:

Dis wan dis wan, gentleman no dey o!
Dis wan dis wan, gentleman no dey o!

Take her down.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gunshots, Flak Jackets, and Videotape

Recently, Hillary Clinton, as part of her "foreign policy experience" campaign soundbites, stated that she recalled landing in Bosnia under sniper fire, and having to run straight to her car and get whisked off to the U.S. base located therein. While making this speech, Hillary laughed a little when mentioning the gunfire, as if to say "Hey, I'm cool about it, I've been shot at before, you know, gunshots ain't that big a deal. In other words, I can be cool under serious pressure."

Then the video of the event surfaced. Showing Hillary and Chelsea Clinton walking leisurely down from their plane, shaking hands with some military commanders, then stopping to have a poem recited to them by a little girl. Then strolling to their cars and driving off at the break-neck, sniper-fire avoiding speed of 20-25 mph.

Hillary now says she "misspoke". And that there was gunfire "in the hills around the airport". In other words "Fuck, where the hell did that video surface from? I thought we got all the copies." And "Ok, so they weren't, like, shooting at me, or in my general direction for that matter, but it was still pretty intense." She went further to say "They told us there would be gunfire, and that we'd have to move quickly... There was a little girl there, but I just took the thing from her and left." Gimme a break! I mean, "they told us"?! What about what actually happened? What she "remembered"? Was it a transplanted memory? Has she even seen the damn video? It was as scary in there as a kindergarten pillow fight for Christ's sake.

She's been caught in a massive lie, and now she looks like what she's been all along - Bill Clinton's wife. An American comedian (whose name I forget) once lampooned Hillar's foreing policy "experience" as follows: "I've been a comedian for 20 years, and I've been married for 10 of those years. But I'll bet if my wife gets up on this stage she won't be that funny."

Hillary's foreign policy experience is actually limited to 8 years of pillow talk with her husband while he was President of the United States. It is my humble opinion, therefore, that she should kindly stop telling the world she has any knowledge of how to deal with it.

And next time, she should make sure she gets all copies of the video before going out there and shooting her mouth off.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Ok, my friends know I am a man of certain peculiar contradictions. I only drink socially, and then only Guiness, but my fridge is stocked with all kinds of genuinely hard liquor (the only thing missing so far is a bottle of gin, which error I am assidiously working to rectify).

In The Mafia Manager, V said that a thief with no opportunity to steal considers himself an honest man. Of recent, I've found myself relating to that statement. And no, it's not the way you're thinking. See, since I made it out of puberty alive, and began wandering the haphazard minefield called women, I made it a rule to cast a wide net, but once a "fish" was hooked, discard all the rest, and concentrate on she that was "in hand". In other words, I fancied myself a one-woman-man. All these years of clinging to that belief, and now I find my principles being seriously tested. Perhaps I never was truly afforded the opportunity to double-date, and so felt free to take on the label of non-playa. In recent weeks, however, the said opportunity has, shall we say, presented itself. And, to quote my Wafi brothers, na me take my own hand find trouble.

I'm currently in a relationship with someone, I shall refer to as E, and she's fantastic. She's smart as a whip, disgustingly beautiful, and I wouldn't trade her for all the Angelina Jolies in the world. The catch is, she's not here. We talk on the phone a lot, but the last time I saw her was in January. I had to spend Val's day doing, erm, something, erm, of a private nature. Nuff said. The thing is, I love her. She is my heart, my soul.

So, where does this post spring from? About three months ago, I met this other lady, M. At first, it was all "harmless" flirtation, nothing serious. I'd go to her office to transact business, and we'd shoot the breeze. I was on a roll. I became a favoured customer, allowed to jump queues, which in Naija, is a nice option to have. Somewhere along the line, our business relationship became more personal. I'd call her after work, and we'd hang out. Some weekends, we'd spend the whole of Saturday together, indoors, watching movies (get your mind out the gutter). My cousin, who's a girl, started flashing these warning signs in my face. Reminding me I had a girlfriend, and telling me M was some serious competition, and telling me I was allowing M become part of my life. I laughed and said we were just friends, and if it made her feel comfortable, I'd tell M I had a girlfriend, as M had told me she had a boyfriend. Soon after I delivered that piece of news, M and I had a falling out. She picked some issue to quarrel with me over, told me I didn't care about her, and told me not to call her again.

From then on, it was strictly business between us. My "favoured customer" status was revoked, and I whenever I did get to her, it was all mechanical, the banter was gone. I shrugged. No skin off my nose, and all that.

Then I found, to my instant dismay, that I was missing M. It made absolutely zero sense. I even told myself that I must be loco. I asked myself why I cared. But the feeling wouldn't go away, in fact, it got worse. Like an OOBE, I found myself doing things to get her attention. I changed my evening run route so it passed by her office, and then her home. Didn't go in, though. I'm not a stalker. (Feel free to trot out the "opportunity" statement here.) In any event, after doing some things I will not repeat here, M and I got back on speaking terms, then laughing terms, then post-work terms.

The thing is, I have wondered how it was that I allowed M get so deep under my skin. Whether I like it or not, she's actually become E's fierce rival in my head, and once my head goes, the rest of me follows. I know it's not fair to E, since she's not around to directly defend her territory. M is very much like E, especially in my most important category - the ability to have a conversation without feeling like I'm speaking Greek to a Chinese mule.

My feelings for E have not diminished in anyway, in fact they're as strong as they've ever been. But somewhere along the line, I have developed feelings for M that are steadily growing stronger. And I don't know what to do. I could break up with E, which is impossible. I could cut M off completely, which, judging by recent events, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with impossible. Or I could yell "geronimo" and see where this roller-coaster is headed.

Either way, I've now learned what Fela meant when he said "When trouble sleep, yanga go wake am..."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Red Light, Green Light

Ed's Note: I think it's high time I had this particular rant. In fact, it's been a long, long time coming.

When I was a kid, there was a game we played called "Red Light, Green Light". The game was based on the colours of the traffic lights, so someone got to play the traffic light, and the others got to play cars. So, when you heard "red light", you stopped, and when you heard "green light", you moved. The purpose of the game was to get to the position of the "traffc light", and in so doing, you got to take over and exercise some iron-fisted, dictatorial control over the rest of your playmates since no one could move without your say so. But if a player moved before green light was called, the person either got thrown out of the game, or ordered back some steps. And no, no one could play the role of a bullion van.

Now I am an adult, living and working in Abuja, and sometimes I wish I could play that game with Abuja drivers, only, instead of throwing rule breakers out of the game, I'd get a fucking car compactor and crush their fucking cars. Preferrably with them inside. The amount of broken glass I've seen on the road in the last year is enough to build a glass car, complete with glass wheels and a glass engine. I don't know if referrring to many Abuja drivers as maniacal psychopaths would be construed as an insult to true maniacal psychopaths everywhere. They don't stop when they see red lights, they drive on the pedestrian walkway if there's a hold up, and they see absolutely nothing wrong in staying in the turning lane, then heading straight, usually running into someone who was turning.

And don't even get me started on the speed. I know that for many Nigerians, the idea of a road that is both wide and smooth is a fairy tale. But many, on arriving at just such a place, react like they're in heaven, and decide to find out whether the 200 on the speedometer was just put there by the manufacturer or if it's actually an attainable speed. And then, with screeching tyres and melding metal, they're reminded that they're actually on good ole earth.

A couple of nights ago, I watched some idiot total an Inifinti QX9. He approached a corner way too fast, and instead of heading straight and looking for the next U-Turn, he jumped on the brakes and tried to make the turn. (Perhaps he'd just finished watching "The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift" or something.) In any event, with loud squeal of tires, he slammed into the road divider, went airborne, and came to rest against a stop light. And, just to prove that Fortune is indeed blind and takes care of fools, he stumbled out of the wreck with nary a scratch. The wonders of modern engineering, perhaps. Others, though, are not so lucky.

Nigerians appear generally incapable of exercising any sort of self regulation when the authorities decide to abdicate. Whenever I stop to allow others pass, I am assualted by a cacophony of car horns, and other drivers decide to zoom around me since I apparently don't have a destination in mind and am just wandering aimlessly.

Now, in the event of power failure (insert hearty guffaw/snide snicker here) the human back up is expected to kick in to prevent accidents. It is a notorious fact that at several junctions in Abuja, the traffic lights have not worked for so long it would be safe to assume they were installed by an ancient and wonderfully idealistic civilisation.

At these junctions, which are entirely in human hands, you must screw your courage to the sticking place if you're driving towards them at any time between 12 and 2pm. Because that's when the traffic controllers choose to retire to some leafy shade to gist and watch the traffic control itself. Of course, when the inevitable accident occurs, they hop out adjust their uniforms and haul out the trusty rope and blue chalk to apportion blame for the incident. Never mind that they are being paid to make sure that the accident wouldn't occur in the first place.

And, before they start bitching about the lousy pay and poor work conditions, there are some of them who take some pride in what they do. There's a particular guy who can be found at his post rain or shine, and not only does he do his job, he fucking dances while doing it. I guess that makes him special, huh?

In any event, it's only God that keeps one out of the crosshairs of these fucking wacko drivers. And I pray I never run into one. Because I'll fucking murder the bastard.

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I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...