My best friend, Bami and I were on our way to shop for groceries. It was the weekend, a time when we did our cooking for the week. But this time around, we were cooking for Bami. I was scheduled to spend a few days visiting my cousins in Badagry. I had met Bami at the NYSC camp and we had grown close, so close that everyone believed we were a couple. And each time any of us denied it, they scoffed or gave us look that told us they thought we were being untruthful. It did not help that Bami’s girlfriend was in Benin and I was without a lover. And while I had a slew of admirers, none had aroused more than a passing interest in me.
The other day, my cousin and I were discussing music and he asked me a question that comes up quite often among Nigerian music lovers. One that centred around two of the biggest artistes in the country and whose music I preferred. I gave my answer. Told him I was more inclined towards the one who had transcended the desire to make hits for the fans and now did music he loved and had grown into. It didn’t matter that he once appealed to the masses too. He had now evolved and his fans would have to come to terms with this evolution.
As 2020 winds down, many things have changed around us. The optimism and hope that often heralds the pending dawn of a new year are missing, for good reason too. Everyone is cautious about their expectations from the coming year because of the many shocks 2020 served. But while a lot of changes have occurred in the way we live and our disposition to events, what has remained unchanged is the deep divide when it comes to opinions about the way Nigeria is currently run. The “hailers” and “wailers” within the polity have maintained their stance regarding national issues.
The year that shook us our core. The year that made us reevaluate our beliefs and life choices. The year where plans went to nought and the need to stay alive trumped every other need. Stating that the year 2020 has been an unusual year would be an understatement. It’s been a gruelling year; one characterised by an avalanche of bad news. Many deaths recorded…many families thrown into mourning, jobs lost, economies in shambles. As 2020 grinds to a halt within the next two weeks, it’s instructive that we do not forget the lessons it taught us. I have chosen to share mine in this post.
Quite often, we talk about how different social media is from the real world. We allude to the interactions that happen between strangers in the virtual community as incomparable to what obtains when people can see each other and gauge firsthand emotions. While online mediums represent ivory towers: a cocoon of sorts where realities of physical living take a backseat, it’s imperative to understand that humans exist behind the thoughts, banters, and interactions on social platforms. It is the inability to recognise this that results in uncomfortable or embarrassing situations.
In the last couple of years, it hasn’t really felt like Christmas was in the air in November or even early December. This year, it’s even worse. The travails of 2020 have subdued many of us. Because we are just grateful to be alive, we aren’t too bothered about the yuletide or whether we’ll get to do our favourite things during that time. However, the realisation that the bills are no respecter of COVID-19 and other sundry challenges is enough to jolt us from the state of inertia if we ever dare to remain in it for too long.
Recently, the Lagos State government delivered the annual Land Use Charge notice to our residence. In previous years, the charge varied between N3,500 and N7,000 in previous years, However, in the year of the Lord 2020, someone thought it was a brilliant idea to increase the tax by more than 1,600%. Yes, you read right. We got a charge of over N113,000 as Land Use Charge when we do not live on a yacht.
Old-time values of empathy, kindness, compassion, and emotional intelligence still reign supreme as evidenced in the results of the 2020 US Presidential Elections, and it’s a huge relief. I couldn’t have dared to bet that Trump would lose. Scratch that. I expected Trump to win. I had been jolted by the outcome of the 2016 elections because I had been certain Hilary Clinton would take the day. As far as I was concerned, the odds were stacked against her rival. Donald Trump was supposed to be the long-shot candidate whose braggadocio and xenophobia irked Americans enough to shun him, let alone the allegations of sexual abuse and gross disregard for decorum. I thought these were more foreboding than the exaggerated sins of leaked emails. But I was wrong.
Image: Channels TV
The awakening is in effect. There’s a tidal wave of renaissance coursing through the socio-economic landscape of Nigeria right now, and those who are at the helm of affairs need to read the room for their own benefit. The #EndSARS protests brought many issues to the fore, one of which is the conduct of politicians and the role they continue to play in the precarious state of the nation. The days of docile youths who are only concerned about reality TV shows and the latest hip hop album belongs in the past and any public officer who desires to court the goodwill of the electorate will do well to accept the new status quo.
The 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus screeched to a halt. stopping just a few inches before the gun-wielding police officer.
The burning smell of a burnt clutch hit the air as the driver switched gears and wiped the sweat off his brow.
The deep creases on the face of the burly officer and his flared nostrils made even more sinister by the pointing gun barrel was all the warning the driver needed to be cooperative.
Some passengers hissed and slapped their palms together. A baby let out a wail, he had been suckling happily before the abrupt stop had forced his mother to withdraw her breast.
“Officer, wetin happen na?” The driver asked in a thick Ijaw accent.