Tuesday, 31 August 2010


With superb eagerness Novuyo asked Chimamanda “what sorts of things do you like, and like doing?” She replied “hmm… online shopping, push up bras…and more online shopping”.

It’s quite interesting how remarkable and exciting your life is expected to be just because a few more people know your name. I find myself in a narcissistic daze whenever I get to social gatherings.
It is because my job has come to define me in their eyes and they find nothing they want to talk about besides my callers, finishing up on the conversation they heard me having on Wednesday morning or what the song I played at 8.15 today was titled.
The omniscient question of how many famous friends I have or how many I have interviewed does always make its persistent invasion. The downer seems to be that I am not well acquainted with D’banj . So at that point, my coolness quotient depreciates atrociously. Sadly, I do indulge them.
When im not in the mood I pronounce my name with its Ibibio intonation when asked, and I tell them I work in the production department of a radio station. Now that’s always a conversation muter and trust me with that you get no complementary cards or phone number swaps. Essentially, your capabilities become completely futile.
At other times though, they still ask me about me, not knowing it is me.(hope you get my drift) Then they comfortably start to air their sentiments both good and bad about me to me.( hope I haven’t lost you at this point)

It is still a bit incomprehensible why anyone would think that a conscious awareness of the sum of people that love and loath you, makes you more fascinating, or being paranoid because you aren’t quite sure if the people you meet really like you or are just looking for free endorsement. (it doesn’t really help when you are naturally pre-disposed to receiving people and the things around you)
In my case when there is music involved, the excessive “checking up on you” phone calls and text messages can seem a tad bit sketchy.

I will never come to terms with how an association with Dbanj of all people increases my coolness quota. Don’t get me wrong I do gyrate to his “Koko Rhythms”, but seriously?
To be honest, quite a lot of famous people are actually boring. Well not all but quite a lot. Principally, because they get asked the same questions over and over, so they always anticipate your question or potential topic of conversation, but just in a slightly remodelled variant. At times they even start to make up answers and they don’t even know it. Because really people are always expecting something and they have to deliver. So the job doesn’t necessarily stop at the working premises. There are times when the lines of fact and fiction become a bit blurred because they have used the same anecdotes so many times; even they have to alter a few truths to make the stories more engaging.

Not that I deem myself anything close to popular, but like me, all I do in my spare time is lock myself in my bedroom, burn candles, incense, lavender and listen to Portishead. Most times it’s Rokia Traore, Incubus, Simphiwe Dana and recently I have taken to Ellie Goulding’s “Starry Eyed” on repeat. I’ve had the same best friends since I was nine years old which my family finds equally diabolical as it is annoying. Well at least they feel compensated that an obsessive friendship beats taking drugs. I also spend a large chunk of my life in my head, day dreaming and running through mental slide shows of familiar images. When im thoroughly bored and need to snap out of my palatial depression, I watch a foreign movie with subtitles or write conceited blog posts forcing myself to believe that this is a style of participatory journalism injected with some cynicism, sarcasm and sprinkles of my divinely bestowed acerbic wit.

Thanks to CNN, one of my famous friend’s can barely get out of the house without being propositioned by her pedestrian and motorist appreciation society. A previous bacterial infection which led to minor skin surgeries coupled with her crippling shyness means that she has to keep the handshakes and hugs to a minimum. (Believe me she lives with a jerry can of sanitizer)
This has of course led to a general consensus of her person as arrogant, pompous and overall unpleasant. The weird thing is that we never talk about work. We mostly discuss our paranormal experiences, spirituality, organic living, family, men, memories, insecurities, music and books. Pretty much what everyday people talk about. When we walk on the street and they hurl her name out, we pretend she is not the one they are calling or sometimes we pretend we can’t speak English. Believe me it has become quite amusing especially when we recall the days when our birth name were simply what they were and not conversation starters.
The most interesting part of this fame malarkey is that everyone thinks you’re minted and rolling in it.

I recall a lady who worked in an oil company and pondered quitting her job to audition as a presenter. I smiled at her an wished her good luck but what I really thought was that “I hope you have a human ATM because this kind of work is built for a special breed of hustlers with an incredible kind of perseverance” some of us acquainted ourselves with gypsy living a very long time ago so we are very comfortable with a subsistence lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong. Popularity can be a lot of fun, especially when it gets you to meet certain kinds of people who you wouldn’t have met on a random day or perhaps who wouldn’t have listened to the things you wanted to say prior to your fame. It’s something you have to get used to, the parasitic world we live in. Look at it as more symbiotic, that way you become less bitter.The best part though is when you get offered gigs that cause an upward shift in the content of your bank account.

Still wanna be famous that freaking bad? As the sign post says, “PARKED AT OWNERS RISK”.

Monday, 23 August 2010



I am a former pressure addict. I was always under pressure. Not from anyone but myself. It is why I find myself doing too many things at the same time. It makes me wonder whether I was trying to prove a point to other people or myself. Perhaps the successes of certain endeavours mask and compensate for all those mundane insecurities.

Then I beat myself up when I don’t attain the feat I expect, or anticipate. The most part of my University years were spent in the library and working on extra projects that weren’t even part of my allocated school work. Although it paid off, but I reckon I could have done with getting drunk a bit more, hung out at more bon-fire parties in the woods, and indulged in more mindless gossip, a few campus flings more pub quizzes and costume parties.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a complete square. I was still very sociable but sadly that pressure muscle in my brain was always working overtime in a dire attempt to get that Janet Jackson six pack.

I realised a little latter that life seemed to be passing through me. Like Ekene Onu described, I was becoming one dimensional. Completely obsessed with achieving huge heights at my then chosen field and anything contrary to that made me a failure. It was a do or die affair. At its extreme, I would find myself sinking into manic phases of depression because it all wasn’t going as fast as I wanted it to. As far as I was concerned, I worked my backside to the bone so it’s only natural that it adds up the way I expected and wanted. Of course my manic dejection was a sign that the pressure veins were about to rupture and this inadvertently became my “Intervention”.

Pressure rehab for me involved a bit of “cold turkey” and a re-wiring of my thinking process. The experience of living is fun, perplexing and exciting all at the same time because you are surprised by the events and activities that life throws at you on a daily basis. You never expect it, but life expects you to trust it, challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone and just work with it. Because you either learn or gain unbelievable pleasure in the end. I did realise that most people don’t get to even indulge in things they love but I got to do it for a living. Whether it was on the side at times or full throttle. What more could anyone ask for than to do the things they enjoy.

It’s not always easy keeping these demons at bay though. Recently, I almost had a relapse. An older friend of mine said to me, “ lets talk”. He said “what is your long term plan and what are you working on right now”
I found myself replying “I have registered my content provision and production business and im working on changing my blog to a mini website to enable me incorporate a few more features”. I started detailing the futuristic possibilities of different projects I would be working on. Then he said “you seem sound and focused. Don’t let me ask next month and you say they are still working on the website ”

My friend's question and answer session almost got me feeling a little neurotic but somewhere along the line I re-enforced the re-wiring.
As part of my rehabilitation, I had substituted full plans and blue prints for pencil tracing on disposable paper. So lets say before, I had fully built miniature models in my head but now I just have erasable outlines on tracing paper.
Sadly, a few deaths had kept me “Pressure Clean” and age made me understand that I would discover newer and more exciting things and all that excessive pressure pill popping was a bit unnecessary.
A young high school girl sent me a message saying she watched my TV show and liked the way i dressed. she said she wanted to know what to wear because she was "FAT" too. I haven't replied yet but i think i will tell her to wear what she feels like wearing because those so called fashion faux par memories she will accumulate will become priceless. I will tell her to enjoy being a kid and forget about the pressure of being cool. It's all overrated and impressing other people is purely undue self-imposed stress, which lets face it you don't even get paid for. I wish she could see me on a normal day, she might just have rethought sending me the message.

I once used to write poetry, then I started writing on the web, then magazines, and newspapers and now I am trying out short fiction and screen plays.
Once I used to make documentaries on the radio, then I co-hosted a breakfast show, now I co-anchor a drive-time show and present a style programme. Maybe soon I will teach, or become an art dealer, or indulge in interior décor or own a restaurant, perhaps open a theatre, make a French or Hausa film,
or even become a stay home mother who performs trip-hop induced spoken word with a band on weekends.
All I know is that I discover new gifts, and new interests and I try to dedicate sometime to explore, at times build and most of all enjoy them.
Two year and pressure clean. Sobriety is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010



San Francisco, CA – Link TV’s ViewChange.org, a next generation multi-media website launching this Fall, today kicks off an online short-film competition, with a Grand Prize of $20,000. The ViewChange Online Film Contest aims to find meaningful stories showing how international development efforts are impacting and improving the lives of the world’s poorest people and making progress towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These eight international goals, adopted by UN member countries, aim to improve the social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries.

Online voters will help select the finalists and a celebrity panel of judges will select the winners. The judges’ panel includes: Gael García Bernal, actor and director; Wim Wenders, director; Danny Glover, actor, director, and UN Ambassador; Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Chair of the Committee on Appropriations; Angélique Kidjo, Grammy Award–winning musician and UN Ambassador; and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of “Purple Hibiscus” and a MacArthur Fellow.
“There are countless beacons of success in eradicating poverty, hunger, and disease in the developing world but those stories rarely get told,” said Danny Glover, actor, humanitarian and Link TV Board Member. “We know that stories have the power to change the world for the better and these films will allow us to clearly show and share the meaningful progress that is happening on a daily basis.”
ViewChange.org, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is calling on professional and amateur filmmakers to submit short videos that will be used to raise awareness, inspire action, and accelerate the worldwide movement to improve social and economic conditions in the poorest nations around the globe. Entrants will be required to submit films of five minutes or less, in one of six categories, reflecting the progress being made in achieving the MDGs. In addition to the Grand Prize, a winner will be selected in each category and will receive a $5,000 prize. The categories include:
1. Sustainability: Solutions that last. Growth and development with a plan. Programs that will continue when the foreign aid ends.

2. Innovation: New solutions to old problems. Creative ideas for otherwise stagnant or persistent issues. Emerging technologies in health, agriculture, education, and environmental protection.

3. Overcoming Conflict: Stories of success in the face of conflict—anything from cultural barriers to war or oppression. Grassroots efforts to overcome overwhelming obstacles.

4. Empowerment: Stories of initiative, of people improving their own lives and the lives of those like them. Transcending barriers like gender.

5. Leadership & Governance: Steps forward in accountability, freedom, or citizen engagement in government. Advances in civil/human rights; progress toward reforming broken systems.

6. Local/Global Partnerships: Teamwork between on-the-ground efforts and governments, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, and private initiatives.

In addition to cash prizes, the videos of winners and finalists will be broadcast nationally on Link TV and other television channels worldwide. Films will also be available for high-quality streaming at ViewChange.org. The contest launches April 30. Final film submissions are due August 31, with voting beginning September 1 and closing September 15. The online voting community will determine two of the five finalists; Link TV will select the other three. The celebrity panel of judges will review only the finalists’ entries (six categories, five finalists in each category) and choose Category Winners and the Grand Prize Winner. Finalists will be announced in mid-September. Winners will be announced in mid-October. Contestants can upload their short film submissions at: ViewChangeFilmContest.org and download the film contest rules and regulations here: http://www.linktv.org/viewchangefilmcontest/about/rules.

Link TV is launching ViewChange.org—a new multimedia website that uses the power of stories to improve the lives of people in developing countries. The site is expected to go live at the end of October. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the site combines powerful video stories with the latest articles, blogs, and actions and makes them easily shared. ViewChange.org uses new semantic technology to pinpoint the most relevant information when you need it, with unrivaled search accuracy. Users will save time and increase impact, by using the rich media to change attitudes and inspire citizens to action. www.viewchange.org.

Link TV is the nation’s largest independent television broadcaster, and is devoted to providing diverse global perspectives on news, current events, and world culture not typically available on other U.S. networks. Link TV regularly airs a robust selection of award-winning films and documentaries that explore the human condition from diverse multi-cultural perspectives. Link TV is available as basic service on DIRECTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410 and on more than 50 urban cable systems, reaching a total of more than 47 million U.S. homes. For complete background information, program schedule, and internet streaming of Link TV’s original programs, music videos, documentary clips, and artist interviews, visit www.linktv.org.

Monday, 16 August 2010


I have never been to South Africa but Steve Jacobs made me feel like I had been there in the hot long summer of 1990 when a middle aged lawyer, Jeremy Speilman decides to defend a young, confused, helpless black man accused of a horrible crime.
The book opens on a thrilling note with Themba grabbing a baby and running for his dear life, a murder commited by a seemingly crazed lunatic but the excitement stops right there.
The story revolves around these two major characters who form an odd bond and of how apartheid and racism in the mindsets of people shook up the whole nation during this trial and all its consequences. It is told through the voice of Jeremy Spielman, the narrator who is also the centre of the whole plot.
Jeremy is the reason I love this book because his voice rings so clear and true. Not only does he make me see the things he sees, he makes me feel the things he feels. There’s a lot more going on than just the trial and Jeremy tells you all about it.

Another interesting angle is the perspective of his girlfriend, Elmarie, who is an out right racist bigot. Through her character, we see the blatant hatred and racism that is rife during this era. She also helps to paint a clear picture of the inner struggle that consumes him. The drama that ensues from their relationship is one of the reasons you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens in ‘The Enemy Within’.
The Enemy Within is filled with interesting characters like Jeremy’s mother, Elmarie’s mother, Marie Coetzee, the crazed attorney in his building and Jeremy makes them seem just as real as the people in your own home town. Here’s how Jeremy describes Elmarie’s mother,

“She wore a yellow tracksuit and white running shoes although her stocky figure had not known much exercise. Her weather beaten face, pounded by years of smoking and drinking, betrayed traces of the beauty she had bequeathed to her daughter.....She came in with a cigarette dangling from her mouth.......”

The larger theme of the story is racial intolerance but Jeremy never tries to make it a lesson, it is simply part of the world he describes. That’s why ‘The Enemy Within’ rings true and why it all seems so real.
The trial of the accused Themba Tshabalala takes place during the time of apartheid and segregation. However, Mandela is released from prison at this point and you wonder, Will things change? 
What will happen to Jeremy, Themba, Elaine and all the people who live and breathe inside the pages of ‘The Enemy Within’...

Published in 1995 Heinemann African Writers Series

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


It can get a bit annoying sitting in a room and watching a bunch of women swap tales of their fad diets. Actually, scrap that, it is incredibly irritating, especially for someone who has tried them all. Weight watchers, Atkins, Vegetarianism, Carb Curfew, Glycaemic index, Slim fast, Calorie counter and even laxative popping.
But, it becomes perplexing and intriguing watching men do the same. I always thought men had a little extra will power. To be honest half the time the belly bulge is really down to special brews and what has now been categorised in the new food group as “Swallows”. All thanks to the “Mama Calabars” across the nation.

I was in attendance at an official meeting with two guys and a passing comment about one of the attendees decrease in waist pouch led to much more revelation than I imagined, becoming a pre- conference slash seminar to our actual meeting. He revealed that he had been taking a pill that cost 40 thousand naira (per pill). Apparently, the duty of the pill was to exterminate the stomach of all its excess gases and rid the colon of any left over impurities. This would be the cleansing before the meal replacement milkshakes. Of course in the milkshakes were fibre pellets which dissolve in the fluid and act as a filler to suppress your appetite. Don’t forget in biology class, we were always taught that the role of fibre in nutrition was to enable bowel evacuation. I suppose a more intellectual way of saying self induced diarrhoea.

I could have just told him, just go on a juice and fruit fast if you were really serious about the detox, or take it old school with a jerry can of Ugu juice.(nothing like increasing the iron content in the blood ey). That already gives you 40k in your savings account. As for the shake, eat a meal that is equivalent to the amount of calories in the milkshake. That way you don’t feel like you are starving yourself. The weight is not guaranteed to stay of permanently, but it’s a start.

The other guy said he had been drinking some Chinese tea that tasted a bit unsavoury and wasn’t agreeing very well with his stomach. I guess he realised he couldn’t really be as productive from a toilet bowl. Though this all went on for a few more minutes, I uncovered that all the men at the office were part of a “ waist pouch crew” and were on a very desperate mission to rid themselves of their misery. It seemed like a fat boys support care club. A lot like the “plus size anonymous” girls meeting. I heard that they had tried drinking some concoctions from the “Iya l’agbo” down the road, they had a brief stab at the 40 grand pill but became that became too expensive a sacrifice, they did glasses of freshly squeezed lime juice as they had been informed that the citric acid of the lime emulsified fat and some how the body magically passed it out. They also tried stem ginger juice, copious mounts of green tea and they had now moved on to a new one called “The Fat Flush”. With the “Fat Flush”, they would dissolve a strange granular substance which mimicked miniature pebbles of rock sea salt in warm water. Something told me they had been duped with Epsom salts as their miracle solvent.

This again like the 40k pill would be the cleanser. Then the diet will be followed up with another cheap cocoa powder tasting fibrous milkshake. The shake looked revolting like Garri that had been soaking in a Bounvita looking drink. It all never made any difference because they just simply ate too much and couldn’t stay off the booze. I mean, what was the best way to spend your day away from a nagging wife and your attention seeking Rugrats than a bit of male bonding and drenching yourself in booze. As sad or desperate as it all seemed, I kept telling them, “it will never work and if it actually does, it’s only temporary”. Get rid of the fried food, the booze, a lot less of “Swallows”, the excessive carnivorous dietary habit and get of your backside and do some physical activity. But hey, I am really not the prototype to give dietary advice now am i. They might just have to keep punching that extra hole in the Louis Vuitton belt.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


I spend a lot of my time escaping with films. Particularly, foreign language films, and Independent cinema. I like tender stories and gritty stories. Social realism mostly. One of my favourites is British director, Mike Leigh’s award winning Vera Drake. Set in 1950’s England, Vera is a jolly working class woman who takes care of her family and sick neighbour. She works as a cleaner for a living and she possesses a heart of gold. The Drakes are a happy family. But Vera has a secret occupation. She is a back street abortionist. Vera helps girls get rid of their unwanted pregnancies. I say help because that is what Vera believes she is doing. It’s 1950’s England. Some of them could be disowned by their parents and the others could have their lives completely altered by their mishaps.

Vera doesn’t take a penny from any of them. For her its just part of her compassion and good will. In the course of the story, a middle class young girl is raped by her boyfriend and is brought to Mrs Drake when she becomes pregnant. Unknown to Vera though, her friend Sally who brings most of the pregnant girls for abortions has been collecting money behind Vera’s back. Sadly this particular middle class girl becomes septic as a result of the chemicals used during the termination process. Her wealthy parents find out, Vera is arrested and her secret is unravelled. Vera maintains that she never did anything wrong. She was just helping them out.

The debates between pro-life and pro-choice have weathered many protests and political manifestos. It was even a key element in the Obama campaign. Many will continue to argue about whether or not a foetus has any form of life to it under any certain number of weeks. For the religious right, a child is God given, a life tampered with is simply murder. For others anything under twelve weeks is just a mass of cells.
The fact remains that each box, either of the right or the left are neither black nor white. There are cases of rape, incest and extreme illness. Sometimes you just don’t feel equipped for motherhood.
On the other end it seems a cop put from a mishap.

Sometimes pro-life is just a word and pro- choice really has no choices. The women whose bodies go through this will tell you. The physical pain involved in suction termination. Pessaries placed inside the cervix to soften the neck of the womb then the womb slightly punctured and its contents sucked out with a vacuum like apparatus. The coldness of the forceps between the legs, and the realisation of what your body has just experienced after the decent from auto-pilot. The rush of a lingering pain as their teeth digs holes in pillows to stop their lungs from perforating with a scream. Of course for those those choose to stay awake.
The alternative though might not leave you with much variety.
Vera Drake was eventually imprisoned for performing illegal abortions and she met a lot more women like her in prison. Sometimes, life and choice is never that simple.