On a traffic free journey from Opebi to Maryland, it’s easy to loose count of the roadside beggars as their heads plunge relentlessly through your car window. Being a typical Lagosian accompanied with my invisible placard that screams “Hustle is my trade” I can’t even describe how easy it is to become increasingly desensitised from the world in front of you. Simultaneously, life as a Londoner is not very much of a departure. I can recount how many times my friends and I have dismissed most homeless people to being mere “piss heads” and “scag heads” alike.(alcoholics and heroine addicts).
This Christmas I decided to volunteer at a Crisis center where they care for homeless people during the holiday season. My first job was to work the floor otherwise known as speaking with the guests. It wasn’t an easy task. Some were still quite high, some withdrawn and some just didn’t want to talk. But then I met Robert. He was 60 years old, decked up in his Ecko hoodie and Arab scarf. Robert was an alcoholic and had been coming to the crisis center for over 10years. He had two children Maria and Benjamin from his previous marriages. He hadn’t seen them in a very long time. Actually he didn’t know where they were .He told me he was a Mod(Modernist) back in the day and took part in the Brighton riots between the Mods and Rockers. He still had his purple vesper but most of all he was in love with Bob Marley’s music.
Then there was Drummer. He had curly hair and olive skin. He asked me where I was from and I said I was Nigerian. Then he spoke to me in Yoruba “Do you understand Yoruba” I replied yes. We started conversing in both our adopted tongues from then on. (he is Itsekiri and im Ibibio) He then proceeded to ask me with a lot of sarcasm in his tone “Are you doing work experience because Nigerians don’t usually do this type of things”. I told him it wasn’t work experience and it was something I wanted to do. He eventually started praying for me and thanked me for all my help. Drummer had the demeanor of an “Alaye boy”, he was cheeky, funny and everyone in the center knew who he was. He showed me his prized possession. She was a recorder called Philomena. During my shifts I got to know more about Drummer. He lived in Surulere and studied Art and Design at Yaba Tech. He looked like he was almost forty. He came to Britain in the 1983 on a six months visa and now he was sleeping in a car park in Shepards Bush. He told me his mother and siblings lived in Hays and they had severed ties with him due to his debilitating alcohol problem. I met Karl an Italian bloke who once used to be a lawyer. There were people who used to be bankers and had lost everything due to the credit crunch. They only had enough money to cover their mortgages for about four months and they were on the streets afterwards. There were kids who were transitioning from foster care to adult hood. There were too old to be in foster care but were not able to care for themselves either. There were a lot of Polish men and women who came to Britain when the labour market was on the rise. The recession had caused a rapid decline in their field of work, and now they were left with nowhere to go At the center offered them a hot bath, a haircut and a hot meal with lots of tea and coffee. There was even a voluntary masseuse on deck. Most importantly we kept them company over the holidays. At the end of the night we found some guests spaces in rough sleepers centers but others had to go back to the street. The interesting thing was that they were all immensely grateful and some made cards and thanked the volunteers individually. I cried after every shift. I cried when Drummer played amazing grace on with Philomena (his recorder) and I cried when a skinhead, tattoo clad guest came over gushing thanks and praise to me and a couple of other volunteers. Most of all I cried because I realised I still had a long way in mastering this art they call humanity.
1 When you have a BA, MSC, MA, MBA and you are still working in customer services….stop telling people that you are trying to gather experience cos CS don’t really do much on your professional CV. Oopsy …I forgot to mention those with two BA degrees
2 When you are having visa issues and you apply for a PHD or join “investment banking” in a dire attempt to stay in the country( sorry guys credit crunch mania )
3 When you find yourself telling everyone that you are celibate because you want to see how serious a guy is about you (stop deceiving yourself…the other name for that is lack of man)
4 When you have to travel from south London to North London to collect Indo Mei noodles and groundnut from your friend that came to visit from Nigeria ???
5 When you are staying with different relatives every week, assuming the perpetual housegirl role as your contribution to the household and sleeping on the floor. Those of you that carry travelling bag as fashionable handbag….take note cos WE KNOW YOUR P(trust me there is spongecase, pant and anything you need in there)
6 When you find yourself applying for a job in McDonald’s and you actually get rejected
7 When you start dating people that you end up warning your friends about the way they look before you introduce them.(because sometimes anything is better than nothing)
8 When you start fare dodging on the underground and looking for the stations that don’t have barriers in order to avoid buying a £6.00 travel card
9 When you start fighting for MAN…..all those girl fighters in the work place and the KOKO bar…TAKE NOTE
10 When you start growing dreads because you cant afford to get a haircut anymore…. dudes that claim to be expressing individuality…LONG TINS BROV
11 When you start asking people around you to answer your phone anytime it rings…I need not say more. Oga landlord is asking for his rent…Meanwhile did I miss out the bailiffs from your unpaid British gas bill…houses don’t warm up by themselves you know.
12 When you bust out the calculator after having launch with friends…..sometimes it feels like a GMATs exam on the launch table
13 When all you listen to is “wine am well” 247 and you watch BEN, OBE, AIT international, Nollywood channel and Nigerian homevideos online…Time to audi, no?
14 When all you do is complain about how hard life is when anyone calls your phone…. Always sayin “JD is Hard, nuttin dey for here” WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE ?
15 When you find out your library card stops working because you cant afford to pay your school fees (as in monthly payment not even yearly)….Warning to those taking years out in between semesters…cos home office aint gonna renew dat visa. So you might want to consider UNILAG cos Ghana cost duch too.
16 When all you do is talk about Nigeria and surround your room with city people, true love and Genevieve magazine and you haven’t even been there is 6 years….Again time to go …No?
17 When you get overly irritated by public display of affection or people holding hands on a busy train platform when your trying to get home after a horrid day of work
18 When you find yourself clinically diagnosed with depression….is not only a white mans illness after all now …INNIT THO..
19 When you start auctioning all your possessions on ebay……it does get that bad
20 Finally If this applies to you, YOU ARE FINISHED…To all those who have been affected by the credit crunch…No more bonuses, cut salaries/budgets and redundancies…Our SPECIAL condolences go out especially to Lehman Brothers UNPAID INTERNS who still got disposed off in these times of economic crises … All road leads to where?... you said it..9jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….as my Yoruba brothers and sisters will say “ELERU GBE ERU E JADE”
this note was brought to you by leeville girls.This does not nessasarily reflect the opinions of the writers but was based on extensive field research.
1. Thou shall NOT be a LONG TINS BABE (you know what I mean?) 2. Thou shall not lack in boobs, yansh and hips. If you must, please lack only one and find a way to make up for it. 3. Thou shall NOT be a down to earth, real or ride or die chick. I.e all those ruff, rugged and raw “tell it as it is” girls, NOT WERKING. 4. Thou shall not have dew hair (All those afro/afro-kinky “soul” sisters… FORGET IT). 5. Thou shall not be a non-church goer. Ladies, for extra credit, be an usher, Sunday school aunty or PRAYER WARRIOR (This applies to other religious sects) 6. Thou shall not go to club to find husband... YOU GO JONZ!! 7. Thou shall not drink hard liquor or beers. Stick to 2 glasses of wine, IF YOU MUST DRINK ALCHOHOL. 8. Thou shall not have un-manicured nails (It has to be French manicure acrylic nails). 9. Thou shall not have daddy issues (victims of divorced parents and dysfunctional families … keep it to yourselves). 10. Thou shall not go without makeup (i.e. caked foundation, studio fix but ensure that the make up has a natural look which is purple lip liner, pink lip gloss and chocolate/natural eye shadows) 11. Thou shall not lack culinary skills. Perfect the art of egusi, ogbono and all variations of rice. Home Economics is in order 12. Thou shall not be a “posh sturvs”. Sushi or lasagne…uh ..really? 13. Thou shall not knack ya head when you have a weave. Futhermore, on no account should you be caught scratching and flicking the condiments into thin air. That is simply DISGUSTING. 14. Thou shall not do any strange degrees, such as development, journalism or medical genetics. Ladies, stick to law, engineering, accounting, business or pharmacy. 15. Thou shall not have a sense of humour or try to even be funny (note: SARCASM IS A NO NO) 16. Ultimately, thou shall not go past a first degree, maybe masters (PHD IS AN ABORMINATION) 17. If thou must study a masters, please please, remember to dumb down when hanging with his friends. 18. Thou shall not disclose too much of yourself. You will seem needy 19. Thou SHALL NOT have a sex life or sexual imagination prior to meeting him. Let him “teach” you. 20. Thou shall not listen to anything other than r’n’b or hip hop (common is pushing it). All you World music and rock chicks, NOT HAPPENING MATE). 21. Thou shall NOT an independent woman. (all those “I can pay my own bills” bullshit… Basically , LONG TINS). Refer to commandment one! 22. Thou shall not be opinionated or well informed (WARNING: This might come off as intimidating. Besides, no one likes a miss know it all). 23. Thou shall not go to any obscure University. Please stick to Kent, Leicester, Nottingham, and Reading. (WARNING- YOU WILL END UP ALONE). 24. Thou shall not be overly friendly. All those social butterflies and jovial. Personalities…BEWARE. 25. Thou shall not be anti-social when it comes to his family. You have to GET IN THERE FULLY. 26. Thou shall not explore any originality when it comes to fashion. Stick to T.M Lewin, Hawes&Curtis, pointies or kitten heels, and jeans – Abortion belt always puts the icing on the cake. To complete the look, don’t be seen without your thick framed rectangular glasses (YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO SPECSAVERS). 27. Thou shall not hunt in packs (warning to girls with bossom bodies that cant be separated 28. Thou shall NOT be loud. Keep your voice to a minimum always 29. Thou shall not appear to be having too much fun on the dance floor. When it comes to dancing, keep it simple (Dutty winders and grinders, ITS NOT HAPPENING). 30. Thou shall not think about breaking this next commandment. The ULTIMATE, IF NOT YOU ARE FINISHED.It Will be an OYO STATE (on you own) FOR YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. LADIES PLEASE PLEASE AND PLEASE DO NOT GO TO THE BEDROOM WITH ANY WRAPPER, NIGHT SHIRT, WHITE TOP GEL OR SHELLY ON YOUR FACE. If you must Do all the above, LADIES, BURN THOSE GOLD AND BLACK HAIR NETS. Girls, we are all guilty of owning a hair net or 2. And we know that all the commandments before suggests that you must be a babe on P constantly. You have to FIND A WAY TO WORK AROUND THIS HAIR NET ISSUES. Statistics dictates that one in two marriages FAIL due to this.
Its been a while since we last updated the basement but we just moved location from London to Lagos about two months ago...its taken a while to settle in but somehow we are getting through. In the coming weeks, the basement site will be getting a little bit of an overhaul so please keep showing love and checking us out. In the meantime, here is a recording with the Nigerian music producer Cobhams Asuquo.He was popularly known for producing the eponymous debut album of the artist Asa. He is one of Nigeria's most talented music makers and he is also visually impaired. So listen and enjoy
Experimental,vivid,entertaining, art and life in a way you havent read or heard before..the words and sounds straight from the GUERILLA BASEMENT
From interview features to hard hitting documentaries and all sorts of podcasts that will boggle the human mind