When I was a fresher at the University of Ibadan, I stayed in the hostel. The prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall to be precise. There was this girl who was also a fresh undergraduate. We didn’t stay in the same room, nor had friends in common, but I got to know her because she became quite…
It’s something that has been playing around in my mind for a while, but became more ensconced this past week. I was part of the judging panel in a writing competition, and last Thursday, there was an event to celebrate the winners. It was a privilege and honor to see young literary geniuses in the making. Teenagers from various secondary schools in Lagos who wrote brilliant fiction stories about the menace of terrorism in the world today. Beyond the giving of prizes, there were talks to encourage the students about the numerous advantages of reading and writing, and generally having a good head on one’s shoulders.
I don’t like writing about Nigeria. I try to shy away from writing about Nigeria and her problems. The reason is not far-fetched really. Even a visually-impaired person knows that the country’s woes are self-inflicted. With a leadership that constantly seeks ways to outdo itself when it comes to incompetence and a set of followers who lament everyday, but in the same breath defend the political class who subject them to untold hardship, it’s difficult to believe we aren’t suffering from a collective Stockholm Syndrome. The more our government and political class subject us to different forms of abuse, the more we are wont to vote their ilk when election day arrives.
First it was Melania Trump, wife of USA president-elect, Donald Trump plagiarizing the outgoing First lady, Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. Then, just as Nigerians joined a host of other nationals to poke fun at the Slovenia born ex-model, it was revealed that our own president was guilty of the same offence. His “Change Begins With Me” campaign speech was discovered to have some too-coincidental-to-be-ignored similarities with that given by President Barack Obama during his 2008 victory speech. And just when one would have thought any other presidential team, speechwriter or public figure for that matter would be extra careful not to fall into the same pit of embarrassment, the newly elected Ghanaian president, Nana Akufo-Addo took his a notch higher by plagiarizing not just one, but two presidential inauguration speeches; passages from speeches delivered by Bill Clinton and George Bush were lifted in President Akufo-Addo’s inaugural address.
Not many emotions can contend with the level of euphoria and feigned piety that happens upon a lot of people, and Nigerians in particular at the anticipation of the dawn of a new year. As the previous year begins to wind down, everyone puts on a reflective vest, waxing philosophical about the past and future. It’s not out of place actually. On the contrary, it makes absolute sense; at least the part where one feels the need to take stock of the past and the outcome of their actions and inactions throughout the year. The effect of decisions taken are vivid at that point. So, people overtly or covertly make resolutions. A resolve to do things a little differently in the new year – Start that business, lose the extra weight, save a little more, make that 6.0 GPA, be a better husband. But for some reason this resolve begins to wane almost as soon as the year kicks off.
Since last year I started to document and do a post on the lessons I have taken away from each year. It’s a form of yearly insight on the events that have shaped my year, and offers some sort of assurance that I am going into a new year wiser. A number of slogans resonated with me during the course of the year because they went from words which were passed down from a sage or generation to experiences I actually went through in my personal or professional life. It’s been a rather interesting and challenging year for me. If I thought 2015 was tough, then it was because I was totally ignorant of what 2016 was preparing to dish out at the beginning of the year. But, with everything that happens to me, I like to take away lessons…lessons which I summarise below;
Bright lights! Gift boxes! Hampers filled with plenty of goodies! New clothes and shoes! The well decorated Christmas trees, and not forgetting the parties! The paraphernalia and pomp and pageantry that were unmissable indicators of the Christmas season once upon a time. Christmas is here once again, and I don’t know if I’m the only one who has observed it, but it really doesn’t feel like it. In the last couple of years the usual celebrations that accompany the yuletide season have seemed forced; a trite attempt at making things happen instead of the fluidity and ease of merrymaking which naturally comes with festive periods.
To say the year 2016 has been a tough one for the average Nigerian would be a gross understatement. This year has been nothing short of brutal, and anyone who still enjoys good health and can afford at least 2 quality meals a day should be thankful that they have made it thus far. It’s also safe to say that the most common word this year has been “Recession.” Even villagers who hardly have an inkling of what city life looks like let alone keep up with its intricacies or the whims and caprices of its inhabitants now have an idea of what that dreaded word connotes. The year has also been an interesting one, and like every interesting story, it hasn’t been without the attendant heroes and villains that make any story tick.
I know the title of this essay is a paradox. I know… it’s borne out of a discovery I made only last week. I wasn’t going to comment on Toke Makinwa and her marital woes; at least not in the way many news sites and blogs have jumped on the story, but I made a discovery which struck me profoundly, and it would be selfish of me not to share, especially with the female folk. Before now I didn’t know, nor would I have ever have imagined that a woman could be legally married to a man, yet wear the toga of the mistress or what we colloquially call the side chick. I was totally unaware of this until I read the much talked about memoir by the Media Personality, On Becoming. Yes, you can be the wife and the side chick all at once.