You finally secure a job after years of job hunting. Prior to that time, you had to spend a gruelling year doing the compulsory NYSC (a mandatory year of service imposed on all Nigerian fresh graduates). You were posted to a remote village with almost non existent supply of water and electricity. And just before then, you spent six years studying a four-year course. It wasn’t because you weren’t brilliant enough and kept having to retake courses, far from it. You had simply been a victim of perennial lecturers strike – something you had no control over. At the end of the day, you got through all of that. The strikes, the energy-sapping service year and the seemingly endless years of job search. You survived it all.
“Yoruba men are demons”
“Short people have an inferiority complex”
“Feminists don’t make good wives”
“Ijebu people are stingy”
“Northerners are dirty”
“Whites hate Blacks”
…and now “Men are scum/trash”
All of the above statements are only a few of the popular generalizations many of us are familiar with. They probably started as a product of one person’s personal experience(s), but have somehow gained traction and have now sadly become a fundamental part of our thinking. They are stereotypes which like many other fixed notions discourage an independent assessment of a situation.
Over the last couple of months, the #MenAreScum has become a regular hashtag on the streets of Twitter. It started as some sort of curious joke – A typical social media reaction to the endless tales of how men continue to “play” and mistreat women especially in romantic relationships. However, things escalated quickly, and what started as a joke has morphed into a man hating campaign.
“At Queens, we are classy. We are excellent in all we do, we are the best, Queens College leads, others follow”- Mantra
The above mantra represents all of what Queens College, Lagos is not right now. This assertion is not up for a debate. There is nothing remotely classy about the news that over a thousand students fell ill due to water contamination, and certainly nothing excellent about three pupils losing their lives as an aftermath of this illness. Queens College, like many other erstwhile prestigious institutions of learning in Nigeria appears to have gone to the dogs. It’s another painful failure of the educational system in Nigeria, and by extension the Nigerian State.
The Big Brother Reality TV show has been a subject of debate since it began broadcasting in January. And as the days have progressed the arguments for and against its relevance have become more heated on social media. It’s not a new development. Since the first Big Brother Africa show made its debut in 2003, and the Nigerian version was first aired in 2006, it has courted controversy; plenty of controversy. Apart the “strange” idea of having a group of strangers live together in a confined space without the trappings of gadgets and activities that accompany daily life, there was always going to be concern about what the housemates who are full-fledged adults would get up to within a period of three months where they would have nothing much to occupy them save for interacting with one another.
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…
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.
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.
Call it a gaffe, an embarrassing social blunder, a joke in bad taste, or a slip of tongue, one thing is sure it’s a faux pas of gigantic proportions. As far as slip-ups go, the statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari when asked about his wife’s criticism of recent developments in his administration will always rank high in the annals of history when compared with sundry errors made by his predecessors. In a joint press statement with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, President Buhari had said his wife belongs to his kitchen, his living room, and the “other room” (whatever that means), even though virtually everyone has assumed the other room the president referred to is the bedroom. A conclusion that is hard to argue with given his slightly mischievous countenance.
You can’t miss them if you live in a country as hugely populated and as diverse as Nigeria, more so if you live in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos. They remain a part and parcel of the metropolis. Even though beggars are not unique to these parts, the method and manner of soliciting for cash on the streets is certainly unique here. I first really began to pay attention to the growing aggression of beggars when I was observing the compulsory National Youth Service programme in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State years ago. One time, I was in a colleague’s car in traffic when this man walked up to us to beg for alms. Apparently feeling ignored, he began to rap on the side glass in an attempt to get our attention, and probably force us to part with some cash, if not out of mercy, then as a way of escaping the nuisance he was constituting. It didn’t work.