Category Archives: Nigeria

Another Form of Child Abuse?

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I saw something interesting today. My occasional bus ride to work when I want to beat certain traffic and not get stopped on the way for it, yields me delight every time! Today I had mixed feelings and this is why.

After I got into the vehicle, followed by two other ladies, the last occupant was a girl-child with her school bag, carrying her brother with his school bag behind him and they sat by the door! I could hear the mother’s plea to the Conductor not to leave the door open. But we know in Lagos, it is style to leave the door open, hang on the door or behind the vehicle answering calls as the driver speeds on as if chased by a demon! STYLE!

What the Conductor did was to block where the children sat with his body (his head was in and derriere jutting out for stability) as he collected his charge and gave change. Being concerned for the child, I kept asking him to shut the door, he politely ignored me, at some point the lady beside the girl-child took the brother and positioned him in front of her and it felt a little safe. When a passenger got down by the next stop, the Conductor moved her into a better location. Phew!

Before that move, we saw her brother collect money from her and tried bending down from his tight spot but the lady held him up. He tried it again, this time his sister did the same too. We noticed that they were sticking their balance (apparently for lunch or snack or transport back) into their socks, to prevent it from being stolen! Hmmm. LOL. See wisdom.

Why am I saddened?

She fell asleep during this trip after her relocation to a better seat. I started imagining what time she woke up to prepare for school. I imagined the long trip to school. I imagined how she will ‘drag’ aka ‘compete’ with other bus users (who are going home tired and not in a pleasant mood to allow a child get on the bus before them) for a space on the bus home pulling her brother with her (and their bags). I wondered, why they had to travel this distance to attend a public school unaccompanied, when they had other public schools near their home they could attend.

You might argue that this one is cheaper. But by the time you add the cost of transportation to and fro, the different hazards on the road, you will agree their parents should have a re-think.

Guess what, He is 3 years old and she is 9!

ChildAbuse

Pix credit: Child Abuse

©2017. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved.

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Why I love my country…

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I might get stoned for this, but hey, it’s my opinion so you go get yours! I was discussing with Oba the other day and we realized (yet again) that Nigeria is just a sweet place to live in. I tell you no lie.

  • Has the dollar rates come down? No!
  • Is the cost of living better now? On the contrary, harsher.
  • Are our policies being followed through without hitches and endless bureaucracy? Nope
  • With all the plenty churches, prayer centres and mosques around, have all our prayers been answered? Not yet.
  • Seeing we have ample foodstuff, mineral and human resources, are we better off? You know nah

So what is the craze about my country?

It is in the way we make jokes, home-movies and songs out of every situation.

I refuse to mention names, you are chuckling already because you know them.

The intelligent way we discuss national issues on radio and TV (sometimes).

I’m not talking about political discussions o! I mean when forward thinking people proffer solutions.

Sadly, I don’t think that the leadership have people that work with them listening up for creative ways to change and move this country forward. They should.

It is the fun things we do to ease tension.

The bus-conductor and his passengers plus driver.

The Okada with the horn of a trailer.

Nah only for Naija, dis dey happen.

The road marshals (including agberos) and the very creative ways some collect levies from motorists. Hmmm, this one is something else.

It is the beautiful places surrounding us, the many talented people we have here, the many fun activities that are available week in and out.

It is in the different foods she has to offer. The well-dressed guest to a wedding reception that is neither friend nor family to the bride or groom or their friends’ friend!

Was passing by and saw an opportunity to eat free food and collect souvenir, the guy/babe turned in!

It is the ready-to-help-you-with-answer to any question attitude, even the one they know nothing of.

Hyenana indeed! LOL

Nigeria SHA!

Proudly Nigeria

(c) 2017. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved.

The Nigerian in me ;)

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I’m Nigerian, proudly AK, I believe in transformation, excellence (thank you Pst Paul of Lagos…LOL), all things leading somewhere to happen, impacting lives and changing statusquo. I’m Nigerian (I repeat) and I’m proud. Corruption has got nothing on me (no thanks Cameron).

People are entitled to their opinion and so I will grant them their due audience, though I made a covenant with my ears (earlier in the year) not to listen to anything negative – visual or audio. I might look at it or listen so as to know how to address it, but I do not entertain it, invite it into my heart and home or give it a dwelling place in my sphere. There is so much negativity trading and showing off already, why would I go a-searching for more?!

That people say we are bad, ill-mannered, fantastically-corrupt, and all dem bad-bad names dem a call we (forgive the fake patwah) does it mean you should wear the tag gladly without making any attempt to work on what needs correcting? Yes, they have pointed all these out, why not take their opinion as a list of things to strike off our pattern of behaviour and form new and better ones worth emulating?

I’m Nigerian, Born-again and Proud of where I drink from spiritually. I am taught to keep my biscuit and chocolate wrap with me till I get to the bin and deposit it nicely. It has gotten so bad that yesterday, when I walked into a mall, I saw a wrap and then a plastic bottle on the floor I almost picked them up before moving on. No I didn’t pick them for many reasons; but the one we do often (my King and I) is we don’t let you get away with dumping your trash on the road whilst driving. If you attempt to or do it, we would drive up to you and inform you to keep it in your car till you are able to do it. I don’t know what it is, but everyone we have told this, always look sober and apologetic. Whether they keep up with the new-found habit is what we cannot tell or confirm.

Last week, someone close to me, absentmindedly dropped something very tiny from the car and before I realised it, the deed had been done. Oh yes, I gave the ‘lecture’ which the person already knows for your information and I also observed on that beautiful day, the response I got innocently was “It’s the Nigerian in me”. I told the person I would write about it, so we all learn to curb that “Nigerian in us” that wants to remain in the not-going-anywhere-to-become-better-arena. Guess what, the tiny particle even refused to drop from the car and got stuck between the window and the door! LOL. We had a good laugh.

We all have “the Nigerian in us” but here is a call to consciously decide daily which Nigerian we allow show wherever we are and whilst you are thinking about it, I hail o! *Twale!

*AK – Akwa Ibom

*Twale – A form of greeting

©2016. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved

#MondayDrama – An Interesting Conversation

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fuel economy uk

“It looks like this filling station will soon start selling fuel.”

“For where?! Dem no get fuel. Fuel only dey for that filling station for express.”

“NorthWest?”

“Yes, I hear say the woman get mouth.”

And I’m wondering “everyone has a mouth on their face” (technically, except in rare medical conditions). But you see, this is Nigeria and when someone is referred to as one with ‘Mouth’ or ‘Leg’, this means that you have CONNECTION and by ‘connection’ I mean, you can get away with anything or you have influence (in a manner of speaking). Now, I will have to agree to an extent with the fellow and his reasoning, as I’m wondering why a gas station would take 92% of the road and prevent other road users from moving freely to their destination, even when we know that moving freely in Ajah axis of Lekki means driving really slow – a step at a time! But to be so hindered that many people couldn’t reach the other part of Lagos yesterday (is something else), and nobody said anything about it, the woman obviously has connection.

Now, ‘we’ have blamed the woman aka owner of the fuel station. But I’m not done, how about you – the motorist?

She had cordoned off a section of the road to cater for her ever-increasing line of gasoline buyers. One line for the long stretch of cars, but motorist/ area-boys/ fuel touts/ enforcement agents in their all-knowing wisdom moved the rope and cone a bit for one car and another and yet another and soon we had four lines of parked cars attempting to enter the station through multiple access with no regard for other road users. Some others came from the opposite side of the road (drove against traffic apparently) and parked on that end in their own multiple queue to buy fuel. Many people didn’t go to church yesterday o! You do well.

I saw a funny write-up thanking the no-light/no-fuel situation for how it has encouraged family times and bonding, as the men can’t go hang out with the boys, children get to read more and one said that even God was happy as churches were full yesterday because a lot of people went there to charge their phones (that have been dead for days) and if I must add enjoy the cooling atmosphere from the air-conditioning units. LOL.

That analysis would work for those that were able to make it to church. For those that didn’t, you don’t want to know what they said in their hearts to everyone connected to this avoidable situation that prevented them from doing so. I went to church o and yes I had to charge the phones very well. But after that, what next? What is the solution to the fuel crisis that we are experiencing? I’m not even sure what is wrong or who to blame, I can only ask that what needs to be done should be done fast before…. I leave the conclusion to you.

By the way, transportation skyrocketed today by 100% increase and I’m wondering if any company did salary increase over the weekend in anticipation of this transport hike. Another thing is that despite all the filling stations maintaining that they are not selling in jerry cans, right beside each station is a trail of boys, men and women with different litres of fuel (from the ones they can carry to the over-sized container) selling black-market at ridiculous prices. Who sold this fuel to them? Just thinking out aloud.

Picture Source: http://www.nextgreencar.com/mpg/

©2016. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved

#FreedomFriday – My Dollar Periwinkle

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Ok…

It’s Freedom Friday and I’m a tad upset about the way everyone is going on and on about the DOLLAR and I’m tempted to ask, what has that gotten to do with the price of Mfi in the market?

What is Mfi?
Mfi aka Periwinkle is that shelled sea food I use to cook my Ekpang Nkwukwo. If you don’t yet understand, find picture attached.

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Periwinkle aka Mfi

I went to the market the other day and the Mfi was small for the amount I requested and the girl said to me “dollar is expensive” and I retorted “did you import the Mfi or you caught it in the stream beside us” and she replies “it is affecting everything.” See me o!

I am not an Economist, I am a woman and a thinking one at that, so if everything is tied to dollar, tell me the last time the market girl used a dollar to purchase anything in Nigeria and that’s if she’s had a dollar before (not being nasty, just asking questions that need answers). You see in Nigeria, we pride ourselves in being updated with information whether it is right, wrong or imcomplete.

In the cab today, someone said he heard over the radio that “dollar has come down (I wonder where it went up to in the first place), therefore he will pay less the amount he agreed with the cab guy before entering the cab.” The cabman didn’t accept it of course. I know it’s a chain-reaction, but I’m only voicing my annoyance and the attempt by dollar to deprive my Ekpang Nkwukwo and Plantain porridge of her MFI!

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Plantain Porridge

©2016. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved

The Queen is back!

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Needing respite and more inspiration, I quickly grabbed the opportunity by my colleague to follow him to an art Gallery just around the corner. Of course I know I’m going to an Art Gallery, so by default, I’m expecting to see Artworks and more Artworks and probably some ‘crazy looking Artwork!’

But nothing…NOTHING prepares you for the world you are about to step into!

I was blown away!

I felt like a child in her favourite toy shop…I went from one section to the other.

I’m told (and I also noticed) that I hadn’t even gone to the other levels yet.

I’m sure you are already itching to know what happened…hold it!

You see, it’s one thing to walk in somewhere and all you get is that ‘nose-in-the-air’, ‘the-animals-with-horns-were-called-for-a-meeting-and-the-snail-went-also‘ attitude. After being weighed, scaled and found wanting on their faulty scale, no one gives you the attention that should be given to a guest. But not so here. It was all warmth and colours and dress-change. You will understand in a moment as I let the pictures speak.

By the way, I went to Nike’s Art Gallery and meet MAMA! So cool abi? We had a little chat, and she shared great joys in simple things. You could see her love for Arts shine through. She talked about how you could easily create art, whilst showing us Artwork from Bicyle tyres, disposable cups and paper etc. I left there deciding not to throw broken wares away but create beauty and more inspired than when I got there.

I met a Prof or Dr. but sadly I can’t remember his name. He stays in Colombia (I think), Oh my goodness, why didn’t I just write this down. I guess I was too overwhelmed with all the beauty. I met an elderly man, I think it’s Mama’s hubby but I didn’t ask him. We had an interesting conversation and I told him I was married to an artist too. He wanted to know if it was the ‘dada-kind’, told him the ‘afro-pops-kind’ and by the time I showed him King’s picture with his afro and suit looking dapper, he exclaimed “Now that’s a proper artist, I’d like to meet him”. So King got an appointment without seeking one! LOL. Yet to go there though.

Did I mention? She signed my book which I bought there (at a discount) and offered us drinks! Who does that?! I’ll be visiting her shortly for a proper interview and to see the other levels of beauty I had missed out on. I think you should go see things for yourself.

© 2016. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved.

Horn Free Day?

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Lagos my Lagos

Land of my paradigm shift…how do I mean?

Trying to escape the pains of a broken heart, I left Port Harcourt for Lagos. You know how heartbreak takes everything from you (for those of us that have loved and lost). For me, I needed to get away from the maddening crowd and breathe fresh air. Was the Lagos the place to relocate to? I wondered about this decision for years. But given the fun I had with my crew (Sunshine and Sweetheart…I’ll tell you about them later) and sister’s family. I didn’t mind the culture and noise shock I met!

Coming from a Garden City (though by the time I was leaving, most parts of Port Harcourt had cease to be anything like a garden but I won’t join the rest to call it a Garbage city), the garbage I met in Lagos by the time I arrived was enough to send me back. Well this is a thing of the past, as thanks to the proactive Governor Babatunde R. Fashola it has transformed before our eyes and the people too (at least most 🙂 ).

Beyond the garbage, Lagos has this fast paced spirit that looks like everyone is on the run to catch up with or run from something. It’s the hurry to catch the bus or jump down from one, while raining abuses on the conductor for not informing his driver on time or ducking from the spittle that comes from his mouth with his diatribes. This I couldn’t cope with as in Port Harcourt transporters would usually stop for you to alight and they only took the bus fare when you were halfway through the journey. In Eko, for where!! You had barely sat when the conductor would breathe heavily down your neck “ bring ya money or Owo da!” Yes, I almost forgot, they thrive on speaking their Lingua Franca to everyone, if you like, be foreigner that nah your business. In Lagos, everyone must learn the language.

All these amidst the blaring Yoruba music coming from the front which is evenly shared to every seat in the bus as speakers have been strategically positioned under the seat or on the windows inside. You don’t have a choice but to endure the noise inside, the blaring of horns outside from your bus and surrounding vehicles, the curses (more noise) from driver to driver, driver to conductor, conductor to passenger – the list is endless. Some had the effrontery of putting up siren though not like the ones the policemen use, but enough to scare you off the road for them to fly past. For the Motorcyclist aka Okada men (by the way these ‘Dennis-the Menaces’ have been forced to particular locations only), their bike horns have modified and replaced with car horns and radio attached to the front.

I said all this to paint the picture of the City, so you would understand why I am wondering if the Horn-Free day would be feasible. As a matter of fact, from my room this morning, my neighbour who was leaving to work by after 5am gave two very loud blares…she usually would forget her hands on the horn. I guess in the spirit of Horn Free day, she reduced it to two. LOL.

Listening to the Honourable Commissioner for Transportation Mr. Kayode Opeifa discuss it on STV news last night, I wondered if they had done enough broadcast about it as I was hearing of it for the first time yesterday. Well, I doubt if those funny bus drivers would agree with this initiative, as some of them even use their horns as drums to honk their favourite music regardless of whose ears suffers. The louder your horn, the more access you get on the road.

Today, is meant to inculcate in the people virtues like Patience, Respect for other road-users, less noise to protect our ears, avoid indiscriminate use of the horn amongst others. Whilst this is good, I would advocate for a NOISE-FREE DAY for Lagosians.

What’s your take on my suggestion?

Eko o ni baje o!

© 2014. Frances Kelvin Otung. All rights reserved