Friday, December 22, 2006

A Poetic Christmas with Taban Lo Liyong and Obu Udeozo

This morning I dashed off from the office to do "Christmas card delivery" at Bookshop House, Marina. (Cards for my lawyer uncle whose chambers is on the 8th floor, and my grandmother).

Stupid building had a refugee-camp queue for the lift. Nigeria has its wonders, which wonder itself has no knowledge of! After a few minutes of waiting for godot's lift to arrive and belly us up into the building, I decided to "step" up. 8 floors.

You should have "seen" the pain that radiated from my waist upwards as my nimble feet gobbled the concrete! The staircase was tucked away in one corner of the building, and, if you're a fan of the TV series 24, all sorts of conspiracy theories and lurking shadows and disguised cleaning-personnel begin to pop up in your mind and around the corners of the staircase.

Suddenly, I was on the eight floor. Uncle not in office. Dropped the cards, and began the descent. Much easier. Lost my way briefly.

On the ground floor of the Bookshop House is the CSS Bookshop -- I'll be damned if that isn't why the building is called Bookshop House!


I decided to step inside - in case I never told you, bookshop haunting is one of my top 5 hobbies (University ofIbadan bookshop and Booksellers anytime I'm in Ibadan, Numetro in Lagos, the secondhand b/store at Yaba busstop etc etc).

When I emerged onto the hustle and honking of the Marina, about twenty minutes later, I had added to my library 3 books - all collections of poetry:

1) Stimulus and Other Poems by
Obu Udeozo (FAB Educational Books, Jos, 1993)

2) Excursions by
Obu Udeozo (FAB Educational Books, Jos, 1993)

3) Homage to Onyame by
Taban Lo Liyong (Malthouse Press, Lagos, 1997)

Globalisation


From the May 15-22, 2006 issue of Newsweek:

A BOEING OF ASIA?

The prototype of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is being built in a virtual factory so big, it effectively spans continents.

Engineers in Japan build the wings, Koreans add the raked wingtips, Brits refine the Rolls-Royce engines, while Italians and Texans fit the horizontal stabilizer and center fuselage. Project managers in Everett, Washington, watch it all take shape with 3-D glasses that allow them to walk around the digital prototype and monitor every change made by their 6,000 workers worldwide, just as if the model were being assembled in a real factory.
Read the rest of the article here.
And then, of course, you want to ask, where are the bleddy Africans?
A: They're the stowaways on board, stupid!
Now that's what I call true globalisation.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From the Archives: On Happiness

Article first written by yours sincerely in 2004. Back in the day, when I used to suffer Acquired Immune Delusions (of "philosophical" grandeur) Syndrome. (I wrote it around the time Nigeria won the award of HAPPIEST COUNTRY ON THE EARTH). Needs major overhaul ;-) -- a bit on the stilted (is that the right word?) side esp towards the end, parading a scattered reasoning... ok, maybe I shouldn't always resort to self-deprecation... but it does need to be reworked anyway...

AM I HAPPY? YES I’M NOT!
by BOA (c) 2004


The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness – Eric Hoffer

1

Some time ago, some organization crowned Nigeria as the country with the Happiest people on Earth. Now, if you knew Nigeria well, you’d almost think of that as a kind of Joke. I’m not too sure how they came up with their Judgement. Did they judge our Happiness by the astonishing amount of parties we organize every weekend. Or by the exploding number of stand-up comics our society is churning out by the day.

Is there a Happiness Index? Y’know, a kind of :

Happiness Index = The Odds Against Happiness / Sum Total of Happiness Opportunities

Or is there another equation, one that would rival Relativity in its profoundness. Is Happiness the elusive “x”, the unknown and unknowable? Is the value a fluctuating decimal? Is it like water, existing in a multiplicity of states? Is Happiness the direct opposite of Unhappiness? Can it be learned, and taught, imitated and practiced? Can it be stored or stolen, or even copyrighted? Is happiness a fleeting fancy, or an assured ambience? Isn’t one man’s Happiness another’s Dampen-ness?

Happiness, to some elation,
Is, to others, mere stagnation

- Amy Lowell


Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. I think these lives of quiet desperation are somewhat like longwinded sentences. I therefore suggest that Happiness Are the commas that punctuate these longwinded sentences. For the minority who are privileged to (on the other hand) lead lives of desperate quietness, who have Expensive Toys to show for their Ambitions, Happiness for them Exists as Full Stops. Rests in the scales of the Sym–phonies of Existence.

Kin Hubbard said it is pretty hard to tell what brings happiness, since Poverty and Wealth have both failed. I say it is pretty hard to tell what happiness is. Is it Joy, or Excitement? Yes? Okay! What then is Gladness?

Happiness seems to drag Questions along, like a huge electric tail. You then begn to wonder why John Stuart Mill says “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” Does he mean that Happiness is allergic to questioning, to probing? Yet we have come to the conclusion that Happiness itself is almost one big Question. A question averse to questioning?

More questions: How long can a man exist or survive without the faintest piercing ray of Happiness illuminating. For how long can the engines of existence operate without the lubrication of Happiness?

2

You are seated by the River of Life, feet nestled in the salt-ness. Assume that Happiness is in the form of the fishes that inhabit the depths. You sit still, silent, prepared to wait as long as it will take you to catch some fish. You mind swirls with the pictures and names of super-achieving people who had Happiness elude them, how they suffered in silence as an oblivious world worshipped them and envied them. You can recreate in your mind how so many of them ended up – an overdose, a slit wrist, a noose, an Asylum ID….

The sun is beginning to exchange it’s yellow for a bright, dull-orange. The dough of night rises slightly. Yet your line remains unmoved, unmoving, in the still glory of slackness. Suddenly, Something tugs hard. Not on your line though. The pull seems to be more on your heart, your soul. Despair sets in. By the way, Despair is only one of the numerous variants of Non-Happiness.

You gaze into the water and watch the illusions and mirages created by an absence of Happiness. You stop seeing your reflection in the water, you stop seeing the periodic ripples triggered by your restless bait, instead you begin to see the Bright Darkness of your Unhappiness, and the Bright Unhappiness of your Darkness.

You can’t help giving Power to your Despair and Despair to your Power. You are a self-pitying statue. (Interestingly, self-pity turns out to be another variant of an absence of Happiness). It is as though ice has seeped into you, and you can sense your Free-"ze"-dom. Your Happiness can only return by Positive Thinking and by Positive Comparison.

Positive Thinking says “ C’mon, cheer up. Everyday isn’t Xmas! You may have caught nothing, but at least you sipped of Nature in its stark nakedness (sic) all day long.

Positive Comparison thinks of Rwanda and Iraq and Afghanistan and Gaza, and says “C’mon, yours ain’t that bad. Folks there are worse off than you, so you must by implication be happier than they are.”

Which is not true, since you remember that Nigeria is the happiest country in the whole world, not America.

Seye Oke Book Event @ Nu Metro, Sat 23rd Dec, 2006

Date:

Saturday, 23rd December 2006

Time:
4pm

Venue:
Nu Metro Bookstore, Silverbird Galleria, VI, Lagos

An inspirational writer, Seye Oke was born in Lagos. Her first novel, Debbie’s Diary was used as a reference book in school libraries. Seye founded Splendour Dynasty in 1998; an organization committed to creatively publishing God's love, mercy and grace. She presently works with an International Management Consulting firm and writes monthly newsletters on her site http://www.seyeoke.com/

She will be reading from her new book, Love’s Lie and discussing her life, works, writing career and her thoughts on inspirational fiction in the exquisite ambience of the Galleria.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Crash Landing @ ThursdayNite.com

Saw a movie on channels tv last thursday night. Channels movie slot starts around 11pm. I missed the opening portions, but still I think I must have started to pay attention quite early on in the movie.

*
Two girls are in a car (one of them is driving) on a road that winds across a cliff. The brakes fail, the car loses control and leaps off the edge of the cliff into the water below, with a sickening splash (sounds like the car broke on impact).

*
A girl is preparing to take her bath. She undresses, and goes into a filled bath. Camera also follows the movement of a gloved intruder in the house, watching the girl, preparing to strike. Girl settles comfortably into the water. Intruder picks up electrified object (hair dryer?) and from where he is standing tosses it into the bath. Girl jerks to death. Obvious electrocution.

*
Girl enters train, and makes her way to an empty coach at the back, in search of a seat. Man (already seated) gets up and begins to follow her. Once they are alone, he begins to talk to her. Apparently she knows him. Next thing he’s flung coach door open and pushed her off, to her (instant) death.

At this stage, anyone watching is (most likely) going to be hooked. You start to see a connection between the strange deaths that open the film. Why are girls dying? What’s happening? Serial killer?

Then your fears get confirmed when, a few scenes later, two men (pathologists) converse in a morgue, and examine the bodies of the two drowned girls. And one of them says something like: “It’s a bad day for air hostesses!” he goes on to explain to his perplexed colleague that this is the fourth air-hostess corpse he has seen that day.

And then the hook gets hookier.

Then, when a plane carrying a billionaire’s daughter and her “revelryous” friends is hijacked by the crew (the supposed “hosts” and “hostesses”), everything becomes very clear.

Now we know why the real hostesses were done away with.

The billionaire’s daughter’s bodyguard is the hero of the movie, taking out all six (five fatalities, one arrest) hostage-takers through the course of the movie, and landing the Boeing 747 on an improvised runway on an atoll in the middle of nowhere (atoll populated by American soldiers doing God-knows-what) , whilst a not-small storm is raging…

One has come to expect these things from Hollywood. Blissful suspension of belief ;-)

Twice, when he is at the mercy of a gun-totting hostage-taker, seconds away from the trigger’s last dance, the billionaire’s daughter saves him by
1) hitting attacker from behind
2) arrowing attacker from behind (with something that looks like an arrow-gun)

There’s something we say in Nigeria: Actor no dey die!

I enjoyed the movie, apart from the co-pilot who was killed by the hostage takers, there were no fatalities amongst the passengers (Pilot was shot too, but he made it). Unlike in Snakes on a Plane, where the snakes carried out a massacre of plane passengers. Shudder, shudder!

When the credits were showing, I thought I might see the name of the movie. I didn’t, but I made sure to take the name of the hero. Antonio Sabato, Jr.

This morning I turned to Wiki. Wise, wise one, tell me the name of the movie. To my disappointment, Wiki said “sorry, can’t be of help!”


IMDB eventually turned out to be the saviour.

Movie Title:
Crash Landing (2005)

PS. Channels was acting stupid that Thursday Night. Early part of the movie they were showing adverts every 3-4 minutes. They do that often though. Crazy. Eventually, I guess the guy pressing the “show advert” button dozed off. The adverts died along with the kidnappers ;-)

PostScript

Below is a "murderous" ;-)) review of the film by mianobekes from Hungary, on the IMDB page

"This film was embarrassing in its clich├ęs, poor acting and generally low production values. It starts out badly with the long haired 3 star general calling the hero, Masters, "major" when he is obviously wearing the silver oak leaves of lieutenant colonel. But what was most distressing was the crew of soldiers on Neptune Atoll. How out of touch with any kind of reality can you get? They were all experts on flying a 747 and the scenes of the soldiers digging the ditch were beyond comical.
WARNING: THIS FILM IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR INTELLECTUAL HEALTH! WATCH AT YOUR OWN PERIL! "

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lamentations: Why I Can't Marry Valyusha

I got this loving email on Monday from a certain Valyusha:

From: "Valiusha" <allenluv@btopenworld.com>

To: "Thomas" <>

Subject: Hello, I want to know you!

Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006 16:56:58 +0200

Hello, Dear!

I am looking for a man who can make me happy. I want to hear the whisper of tender words in my little ears every morning I wake up. Iwant to feel the tender touches of his strong hands every evening when we are alone. I want to smell his perfume and to see him smiling when we are together out in the restaurant enjoying each other. I want to make his life a miracle... I am looking for a husband and I am here: http://loveonlyme.com/goodforlove

If my words found an answer in your soul, I am waiting for your note...

Warm hugs!

Valyusha

***

Dearest V,

I got your letter, and read it utmostly flattered to be on someone's longlist/shortlist for human husbandry.

However, sadly, very sadly, I regret to inform you that I will not be able to husband you; for the following reasons (apart from something to do with an abnormal "SPAM COUNT") -

1) You will not hear my whisper of tender words in your little ears every morning when you wake up because I sleep till NOON!

2) You will not feel the tender touches of my strong hands every evening when we are alone because we will not be alone in the evenings. My second job takes the evenings.

3) You will not smell my perfume because I am allergic to ALL perfumes. And you will not see me smiling when we are together out in the restaurant enjoying each other because in the restaurant we WILL NOT be enjoying each other. Not when I will be thinking of the bill I alone will have to pay afterwards.

4) You got my name wrong in your email; you called me "Thomas". Conclusion: If this is the kind of "miracle" you intend to be performing in my life, NO THANKS!

5) On this page of your site where you list gifts you want from me, you did not consider the fact that I am from Africa. You asked for chocolates and flowers and private email lessons and email access, instead of asking for African things like, uhm, uhm, an assurance that I will not marry more wives after you.

Yours Lovely

And loads of feline (not bear) hugs,

Moi.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2006 Nigerian CEO of the Year, Bunmi Oni, Booted Out

Bunmi Oni, 53, erstwhile Cadbury (Nigeria) CEO, was today sacked by the Board, for his role in the falsification of the company's financial statements over the last few years. Also sacked was cadbury's Finance Director, Ayo Akadiri.

This is nothing less than tragic. Reason? Oni won the award of Nigeria's most highly respected chief executive on September 14, 2006. And, very ironically, it was the same Price WaterHouse Coopers (International audit consultants) that conferred the award on him, that was engaged by Cadbury barely 3 months later to investigate the alleged manipulation of results by him.

Bunmi Oni was awarded the national honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) in 2001, and was Cadbury helmsman for eleven years.

Here are excerpts from a tribute in the Tribune (Monday 25th Sept. 2006), written just after he won the award:

...As reported in the press, if profit was the most crucial factor in the survey, Oni would not have ranked that high, nor would his company. But, he is acknowledged by peers as a CEO who would rather make less profit than cut corners. In a country that has been almost completely quartered by “corner cutters”, Oni would rather see his company go through tedious and complex litigation with local and state governments than pay “a simple bribe”...

...We salute the integrity, excellence, industry, innovativeness, vision, and exemplary leadership of Oni, not only in Cadbury, but also in the larger society where his contributions have provided the needed light in the tunnel...

"Can there be two Kings in a Palace?"

Those were the rhetorical words of Adebayo Alao-Akala, deputy-governor of Oyo State, in response to a TV journalist who enquired about who was truly in charge of Oyo State. That was on the 12th of January, 2006, the day Akala "became" Governor after the super-controversial impeachment of his boss, the Governor, Rashidi Ladoja.

Ladoja, protesting the injustice of the jungle impeachment, had vowed not to relinquish power. Akala, on his own part, has been "sworn in", and was exerting his authority as the "Last Man Standing in Agodi Govt House". So, you see why that question may have been relevant then.

Interestingly, at this time, eleven months later, that question is proving relevant again.

Why?

Because the Supreme Court of Nigeria has just upheld the decision of the Appeal Court declaring the impeachment a nullity. The picture above is of Usurper Akala being sworn in, last January. Now, he is returning to his position of deputy governor. And finally getting to answer the question he asked many months ago.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Fiction: "SeaHorses" in Litro

My story SEAHORSES will be appearing in this week's (print) issue of LITRO - Original Fiction for the Underground.

LITRO is the literary equivalent of METRO (the free newspaper), and is distributed every Friday at

Stockwell (around 0730 to 0825)
London Bridge (around 0815 to 0845)
Libraries in the London Borough of Lambeth

...and more generally or sporadically in:


Random bars/cafes in the East End
Derby
Trams in Sheffield
Buses in Durham
Munich

You may also read and/or print the story online here:
http://www.litro.co.uk/pdfs/Seahorses.pdf

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Letter to BOA about BOA's Letter To TIME

A reader, Nilla, posted the following comment on my blog

I didn't find your letter to the editor in response to the Fela Kuti article, in the Dec. 11 2006 issue.
9:41 PM, December 05, 2006

And I almost suffered a heart attack. Then I
replied her immediately:

Dear Nilla, Thanks for pointing this out. Perhaps because of distribution delays I have not been able to get a copy of the December 11 TIME issue here in Lagos. Hopefully I should get a copy today. But I made the decision to blog about it based on the (detailed) - and genuine :))) email I received from TIME magazine. I shall withhold further comments until I see the magazine myself. Best, BOA

And then, still dreading the still-loitering heart attack, I fired off an email to the TIME editor for clarification. Still not satisfied with waiting for a reply, and trying to fend off the thought that had started to paint my impending public humiliation in bright colours, I launched an attack on the TIME website. I was going to smoke out my letter at all costs :) the way the Marines smokedMr. Hussein out three years ago.

At long last, I found a lot of things! :)
I discovered that there were as many as four different editions of TIME, all carrying different pieces (Sometimes the same cover story though). I'm sure a lot of you already knew this, but then that's you, not me.

There's TIME
Asia, TIME Pacific, Time Europe, TIME Canada, TIME for kids, and TIME International(?).

Back to my main gist. I finally found my letter on the TIME Europe website, here. It's the second letter from the top. Of course I was very relieved, I hate to imagine the "fallout" had I blogged/bragged about the appearance in TIME of a letter that wasn't published.

The letter is published in the Dec. 11, 2006 issue of TIME Europe magazine. I guess I'm a li'l too old for TIME for Kids :))

So, Nilla, while I thank you for the observation, I also want to say YOU CHECKED THE WRONG TIME! :)))

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More Found Objects




Reality 2 : Fiction 0

Reality always, always, always, trounces fiction - in humor, in "shameless", "ego-less" absurdity, in everything...

Or what else could one say to these:

Ziggy Stardust, an indiscreet parrot in England, blew the cover on its mistress's love affair by repeating her amorous exchanges in front of her companion. The latter, named Chris, realised something was up when the bird started squawking "Gary, I love you."

A 68-year-old man in northern Nigeria told reporters that after having married a total of 201 women in 48 years, he had resolved to make do with the four wives he still had. His main complaint: older wives had an unfortunate tendency to turn the younger ones against him.

Drinkers had to be evacuated from a Welsh pub when somebody realised that a tubular object that the landlord's wife had long used as a rolling-pin was in fact a World War II shell.

Read more

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Letter in TIME Europe and other stories

My Letter to the Editor appears in this week's edition of TIME Magazine (December 11, 2006 issue), appearing on newstands today, Sunday December 4, 2006. I wrote the piece in response to the profile of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti in the recent special TIME issue 60 Years of Heroes (November 13, 2006).


My poem, THE HOUSE AIDS BUILT also appeared today in LIFE (December 10, 2006 Issue), the magazine of arts and culture published alongside The Guardian on Sunday (Nigeria).

Friday, December 01, 2006

Found Object