It’s been said that we purchase more self help than literature. Religious or secular, those gems move faster than any Saro Wiwa prize winning stunner would any day. So face it we sell more motivational books than pains taking works of art. I know more people that would quote “Ginger Jargon”, like it were the lines to a bad Nollywood plot. When a major telecoms company starts importing motivational gurus as a ploy to solidify its status as the number one premium telecoms brand, you know the motivational disease is about to become about to take a life of its own. I accept we all need a bit of quick and cheap therapy resulting from our collective state of mind. But how much of it can one really stomach before you start wearing incontinence pads due to a leaking backside.
Just drive through Falomo in the morning or underneath Ikeja bridge. You will feel the urge that wells up inside of me intensely on a daily basis. The urge to pound a hawker to a pulp with a pirated copy of “The audacity of hope”,then pin him to the ground with a kung fu style hand stroke to his throat as though about to rip out the jugular, (or maybe just an artery) with my thumb and middle finger, then I would say “how the hell can you have any reason to hope”. Don’t even get me started on the audacity part. But then the thought of a night in Area F police cell places me back on a path of clarity, with a simple nod through the car window, I signify, “I am not interested”
I am often intrigued by titles like, “unlocking the chains to your inner success” or “accelerate your destiny” perhaps “ the power within”. Not like I have ever opened any piece of extended motivational epistles to actually ingest or even masticate its content, but there is this perplexed feeling that resonates strongly within and it goes thus; how many times do you really need to be told that “preparation is the only means to success” or “you have to take risks and go the extra mile”, “focus” and one of my personal favourite’s ,“put up a middle finger to the world and just do what makes you happy". My neighbour says he is a motivational speaker. He looks as jaded as his mongrel Hans. He merchandises weight loss products as a side hustle and I my mother says he awaits his father’s death so he can own the semi condemned property he inhabits which smells like putrid waste. I suppose his motivational strategy is to work as the property caretaker and sooner or later, he will unlock the chains, release the power within and inherit six flats built on a plot of land.
Recently I saw a children’s motivational series authored by one of Nigeria’s premier gurus. I heard a certain state government was about to make it an official part of its educational syllabus. What happened to the McMillan English text books with its stories like Ali and Simbi. Whatever happened to “Eze goes to school”. I thought all kids needed was just a bit of a moral seminar at the end of a story and wham… Bang.. we could go out to play. Pretend you are cooking with flowers and leaves, or play table soccer with bottle tops and buttons. I never realised they needed to be “gingered” as well to unearth the CEO that laid deep in their poor naïve and innocent souls. Between flashes of insanity and lucidity, I do wonder what a replicated life of sixties America would feel like. Sex, narcotics and rock n roll, or as my favourite rapper puts it “sex, church, wine and bread, we are trying to be one with the environment”. What more motivation could one ask for?
BY WANA UDOBANG “When you move to Nigeria, you won’t have any problems; phonetics is already in your favour”. That was all I ever heard. Never realising, that the foreign accent would eventually annihilate every fibre of my achievements and multiple personalities I toiled so hard to attain. I met a girl schooling in the north of England who baffled me with a very potent American accent. Another friend of mine grew up in Warri, schooled in England but of course she speaks like a Yankee valley doll. Three words best describe this phenomenon. “ONLY IN NIGERIA”.
A few months ago at the radio station where I work, we ran a competition called the next radio superstar. The alchemy of accents and dialects surpassed my very own powers of impression and impersonation. As a Don Juan of accents and dialects, if I must say so myself(I do about fifteen to twenty accents in total..don’t mean to brag), this degree of R rolling tongues and squeaky vocal cords brought me to my knees. Already considering handing over my crown as I was way too advanced for a tiara, I thought to myself, eight years in the land of queen and country? Does that legitimise my twisted tongue. Or doesn’t it? I watched one of the numerous reality TV song contests, whose audience cuts right across West Africa. The male presenter was a nice young dark skinned man who sounded like he had been doing a bit too many commercials for such a long time. His female co-host was the young beautiful British/Nigerian lass who looked very appropriate for television. And yes she did have a strong Brit accent . I’m not big on conspiracy theories but at times I do wonder, Is this imperialism revamped? Or could it be an upgraded strata of post-modern neo colonialism? Where “The Phonetics” has become the preferred apparatus used to disseminate this finely tuned ideological impetus.
Living as an immigrant in England, I completely understand the intense sense of identity that comes with the accent. The more of a cockney I sounded, the more working class they thought I was and essentially they felt I empathised with their proletariat revolution. The same went for my posh tuffs who thought of me as a little less “scum of the earth” the more I sounded like I had a plum in my mouth accompanied with a stiff upper lip. I hate to admit it , but it made my life a lot easier when I started to get conversant with the fact that my accent would become my all access pass through every socio-economic/political tribe. Former Mr Madonna, Guy Ritchie has forsaken his posh accent in order to be taken seriously as the king of cockney gangster flicks. The same can be said for Britpops Damon Albarn. Although theirs works in the reverse as they subscribed to the gritty talk to authenticate their street credibility rather than be perceived as over opportuned bourgeois pedigree. For us Nigerians, it’s just a little different. I work on a breakfast show where I speak with my Brit chick accent and then I get a bit carried away as a New Yorker ghetto hood rat. So yes, i receive my conviction and say guilty as charged.Of course I have to sprinkle a bit home grown flavour just to ease the guilt of my foreign tilt. So here I am getting increasingly irritated with phoney phonetics. I stare at my generation with disdain in my eyes and venom on my tongue, while I offer myself to this city of fourteen million as the imperial sandwich to be consumed. Who knows, even the holy sacrament divine.
In our quest to communicate the underground, here is a new video from one of our favourite hip-hop groups. They go by the name STR8BUTTAH. They kept the video gritty and guerilla. Here is FIRE for your viewing pleasure
Recently, my friend and I were having our usual chit chat and banter on our way to work. Yes it was within the 5am hour. We somewhat delved into the clichéd relationship subject as we always do. But this time round it was more about him. During the conversation, we covered the omnipresent subject of cheating, how women cannot be trusted and the ever so important “there are no good girls around”.
So yes we did cover the bulk of the relationship hemisphere. But then we went further and he started disclosing the reasons why he has to marry his current girlfriend. With intense conviction in his tone, he said to me vehemently “she is fine, a top class student and I know that she is going to be successful”. He did strangely over emphasise the word “carriage” stating there was a way that she carried herself that was very proper. To top it all of; his girlfriend as a package is something he will not let slide. I was so perplexed by the number of boxes one human being could tick, that I had to ask in bemusement, “So do you actually love her” Of course he did, though he got a little caught up in the packaging and how good it would look beside him in his grand scheme of things.
He showed me her picture on his Blackberry and indeed she was pretty. The girl next door, with black hair and a side parting. I could tell that her makeup was always muted or earthy toned as the experts call it, probably consisting of black eye liner, chocolate brown lip liner and gold eye shadow. She would never dye her hair blond but just admire yours. Would never cut it either just a little trim every now and then. I couldn’t help it but had to open my big mouth and ask. “does she like wearing jeans and tops a lot?” nothing less was expected but a resonating yes.
Nothing about this was a discovery or revelation. I had heard this before. As the saying goes “if I got a penny for every time I heard this….” However, the thesis always came in its multiple versions. The most familiar interpretation is the one that claims there are girlfriends and there are girls you marry. It sounds a little confusing at first but believe me its not that grand. Girlfriends excite you, they thrill you and they are always fun and apparently it doesn’t have so much to do with sex. But , the girls you marry are proper. They are appropriate. They come as a package. They are like my friend’s girlfriend. They are the “MOULD”. This mould got me thinking about the others that break it. Those that have voices decibels higher than normal it becomes a little inappropriate. The ones, who grow afros, dye their hair in two tones and chose professions with no obvious financial security in mind. So yes it got me thinking and my natural instinct was to take it to the facebook masses and it all boiled down to the same result “take heart, there is someone out there for you guys”. They did forget to add that chances are they are only ten percent and they are already gone. As they always say, packaging is the way forward to stay ahead in the game. These days, they call it “Personal Branding”
By Wana Udobang I can never forget my days as a church prostitute, mind you it wasn’t intentional. We just had a few problems here and there. Like every other Nigerian family desperately seeking and hunting down the good lord to cleanse us of all our gigantous afflictions. Name the church, I had been there. Christ Embassy, Latter rain, Zoe Ministries, Agape worship center, Christ faith tabernacle, Mountain of fire RCCGsssssss and even Synagogue. Of course I had my field day at all night mosquito vigils, deliverance services intercessory prayer meetings and oh less I forget the forever staple fund raising ( toilet fund, chair fund, pulpit fund and even carpet fund). At this point my mother implored her skills as a former parish woman’s society member to head the toilet fund committee into the eventual erection of the major under bridge church toilet. The church was situated in a dilapidated building under Ikeja Busstop Bridge. There were forms for prayer requests and special deliverances. Paper cost money and exorcising special demons also incurs its very unique charges. There was Ogechi who made her hour long confessed after her deliverance session. She claimed that she was a mermaid and had very long hair in the spiritual realm. She said she drank over hundred litters of water a week which was given to her by the queen of the coast and so in the physical realm ( earth slash Lagos slash the face me I face you where she resides), she is somehow incapable of consuming fluid. Then the plot thickens. She had a tee shirt which she wore everyday and for some majestic reason was unable to take it off. Now Ogechi was free from her afflictions and the numerous demons that tortured her family, all for a price of course and some holy pure water. The pastor always dried to spin me around during his sessions just before the end of the Friday vigils service but I became tagged as the stubborn candidate. Apparently I wasn’t opening my heart enough to embrace the temporary psychotic episode that came with the intense wave of the holy spirit’s special anointing. With its anointing came its very absurd physical manifestations. The body usually starts contorting into different positions, just before the part where you start spinning like candy swirls. But most importantly, there is the “cabashing” in tongues which ends with a collapse to the floor. Then they wake up at the end of the vigil sometime around 6am in the morning. My general interpretation was this. It was a chance to do the routine and take a long nap just before the closing prayers. There was the church situated at a dark corner alley way somewhere in the center of Agege. I remember the leader seizing my gold earrings after a prayer session saying the demons had gotten to me through the earrings. He asked with a very stern look on his face “who gave you this earrings”? My mother responded quickly saying it was hers and he had to let it go as he realized demon infested or not, we were going home with our gold trinket. My week was always full; I had immersed myself in all their activities. Monday prayer meeting, Tuesday deliverance service, Wednesday midweek service, Thursday choir practice, Friday night vigil and of course Sunday service. Saturday had something going on but I choose to take a day off. Then there was synagogue. I was staying with my cousins at the time so this really wasn’t out of choice. Back then it was just a tin roof held together by vertical planks. The congregation prayed ferociously and waited as early as eight in the morning till five PM, just to touch the hem of Josh’s robe. (TB Joshua) It was a bit overwhelming and bewildering to watch, but most of all I just couldn’t fathom spending my whole Sunday under a tin roof with people that smelled of different concoctions they drank and rubbed for strange ailments. After a few weeks of attending, I realized that Pastor Josh was their Jesus. He was truly their messiah. They had substituted “Temitope” for Jesus in quite a lot of popular praise songs and they eat special eggs to get pregnant. They took baths in the gritty stream nearby as a certain kind of spiritual cleansing. Unfortunately, even this became a bit too much for me. Sadly, this all led to an amazing collection of angst riddled rock album. I was raised with an atheist as a father and my mother only became catholic because they were the best schools for your children to attend. Without a doubt her sense of faith was a bit warped as well. After a few years of my sojourn into the world of rock lyrics and new age Babel, still uncured of all my very many issues, depression and self loathing to name a few, I decided to delve back into the world that I knew best. Despite the stories of child molestation, sexism, and fanaticism.( reading purple hibiscus didn’t redeem the sect either) rosaries, incense and novella prayers were still my one stop destination. Though I now categorise myself as one of the few finally emancipated from dodgy Pentecostal sects, I still get a bit confused by certain things. I always thought all men were equal in the eyes of the good lord. Why does every page in the daily devotional “Rhapsody Of Realities” has a picture of it resident “jerry curled” pastor, Chris Oyakhilome or his wife Pastor Anita? Why do all his trainees have “jerry curls” too? Why do they call Pastor Adeboye Daddy? Why do most Nigerians practically worship church leaders? Are we building a nation of cloned Zombies? Or are we already operating on a certain alkaline battery shoved into our backside? As my favorite angst riddled lyric says “not all of us are heaven sent, and there was never meant to be only one..hey megalomaniac, you are no Jesus, hey you are no Elvis…..wash your hands of your sins maniac step down. I sure hope the good lord sees all of this.
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