I LET HIM DO IT

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Family is overrated. Those who say that blood is thicker than water could not be more wrong than those who said the earth was flat. Blood is thick, but only in relation to what it is meant for. Blood is blood. Water is water. Piss off if you think there’s a relation to using the relationship between these two elements to describe familial bonds.

We’re all alone in this world. We came alone. We only make alliances that benefit us for a stint or stretch of time. Family is one of those alliances. Long running, yes; but overrated as heck.

I realised this when my sister threw me out. My sister. Far from our home back in Abia, we were supposed to be all we had to ourselves in this unforgiving city of Lagos. And what did I do to deserve it? Nothing that would warrant an eviction. But I get it, big sis needed her space and I was cramping it. Besides, how could I, the last child in the family go toe to toe with my elder sister during arguments when I knew she practically held all the aces?

I had nowhere else to go. My sister decided that the best way to punish my feistiness and big mouth was to throw me out and really show who’s boss. My brother beats me at will when he can’t offer a superior argument. I’m a woman and I shouldn’t talk back to men; it is his responsibility to teach me with his fists before my future husband gets the honour –just so he wouldn’t conclude that my family did not train me well.

I couldn’t go to him. There’s no comfort in his presence because he would only mock me and I wouldn’t take it on the chin. The end result would be a black eye the next morning and sore joints so I passed on another lesson about how the good gift of pain could make me a good woman.

It was 10PM. I lived in Ajah with my sister. Getting out was not exactly easy at that time of night and my closest friends lived on the mainland. So I called Osita to see if I could spend the night at his place before figuring out my next move when day broke.

He felt like a safe option. We were close. We should have been closer but I didn’t want what he wanted at the time. A month later, he found a girl he liked and we moved on like nothing happened. He was the only friend I had at the moment.

Osita was happy to help. He knew my struggles and my pain. Once, he was so angry when he saw my bruises that he wanted to go after my brother but I stopped him. It would only have gotten me into more trouble for involving an outsider in our family drama and I’d suffered enough already.

But you never know with men. His mattress was on the floor of his room and he said he would sleep on the rug so I would be more comfortable. But he wasn’t on the floor when I woke up a few hours later to find his hand cupping my right breast, fingers kneading my nipple the way someone would tune a transistor radio.

I jumped like the bed was on fire. Caught in the act, Osita’s face was a brief mask of shame under the dim green night light in the room. He said he couldn’t contain his feelings for me; I was irresistible and had a hold on him that even his girlfriend didn’t have. He would break up with her if I gave him a chance with me. All he wanted to do was be with me and feel my warmth against the harmattan chill.

He tried to kiss me but I held back. Rather than let it go, he grabbed me. I would feel differently about him if we made love, he said. He’d always wanted to make me feel like a woman, he said. All I needed to do was to let him.

You never know with men. That was my mistake; mistaking his kindness towards me and willingness to remain in my life despite the rejection as signs of maturity. I’ve been in this situation before and I didn’t win – the blows made me submit.

This was different. I let him do it. Like a peaceful rainforest assaulted by bulldozers, I let him part my legs and invite himself into me. It was different. There were no blows.

The next morning, Osita barely said a word to me beyond a murmured apology and the devil using him. He wouldn’t have touched me if I wasn’t his weakness and being the man that he was, he succumbed. He told me to drop his key under his doormat when I was ready to leave; his girlfriend was coming to spend the weekend.

There were no blows then because I couldn’t fight. I only had a big mouth which got me into trouble with my brother and sister so I kept it shut for the time being. I let him do it. What I wouldn’t do is to let him get away with it like the others did.

Photo credit: Mohammed Alnaser via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

HANDCUFFS AND WEDDING RINGS

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December 20 – 21, 2013.

Some days are just made to go sideways.

From almost hurtling off the top of an uncompleted bridge to landing in a police cell with the groom’s best man, crazy got as crazy got. Maybe if we had all stayed at our hotels instead of having that night out; maybe if men can truly be men and stop being men for a bit then this wouldn’t have happened.

Okay, I think I’m going too fast. Let’s start again.

It was finally Sir T’s wedding. We all thought he was joking when he announced the date and told us to get ready. Knowing him, we all expected some kind of drama and a last-minute cancellation but Friday morning met us all confirming hotel reservations. Unlike the others, some of us couldn’t leave Lagos for Ijebu-Ode till late on Friday evening because our offices were closing for the weekend. I had to attend a party organised by my office for the less privileged and finish my annual report before going anywhere.

Sir T isn’t our boy; he’s more like an elder brother to us. The other guys were his peers but I and my friends were a few years younger even though we all shared a unique bond because we graduated from the same university one year apart. I, Scooby, Ephizzy – we also call him Epps – and El Flint all lived in his apartment during our National Service year in Akwa Ibom. We were there when he and his guys threw and attended all the parties from Second Base to Lounge Uno and others; we covered for him when one side-chick came calling and another side-chick was around, helped out with his sales job and generally enjoyed a service year many others could only dream about.

Not attending Sir T’s party wasn’t an option; besides everyone we knew from Akwa Ibom was gonna be there and we’ve missed them.

Epps finally called me by 7:30PM. He’s the one driving and I was the first person he had to pick along the way.  Scooby and Pinana were already waiting at Berger so we just had to stop for a few minutes to pick them before hitting the expressway. They brought bread and drinks, and after the initial greetings, I and Awo dug in. We had no idea how hungry we were.

Even at that time of the day, the Lagos Ibadan expressway was still being a bitch but thankfully, the only one among us with the driving skills of a Lagos Danfo driver was Epps. One minute he’s finding pockets of space to manoeuvre, the next he’s driving off road with the impatient interstate bus drivers.

Two hours later we got to Ijebu-Ode. Other than the harmattan haze which reduced visibility to about fifteen metres, It looked different. There was a flyover bridge at the intersection where you’re either headed towards Benin, turning left into town or heading right towards Ikorodu. A few minutes after passing the Lagos Garage, we realised we were driving up another bridge where there was formerly none. Thankfully we stopped and backed up; we would have dropped off the top if we kept going because the bridge wasn’t finished and the signs weren’t readable at that time of night.

By 10PM, we were settled in our hotel rooms. Surprisingly, Sir T was in his room instead while the others were at the club. Nothing we said could get him out; he said he was tired and needed to sleep. He said he wasn’t really in the mood and didn’t want to wake up with a hangover. It was as if he saw what we all didn’t.

When we got to the club, everyone was there; Kay, the best man; Boyo had been transferred to Imo from Akwa Ibom but he came in with Folly; Tony, Boyo’s childhood friend was home for the holidays from England. We didn’t know the others but it really didn’t matter; a friend of my friend is my friend. Besides, new friendships can always be forged over bottles of Absolut and Johnny Walker.

There were very few women though.

Kay was outside with some guy in a white kaftan. He’d been told by Kaftan Guy that he could get some female university students to join us because they lived off campus. Boyo was not interested; his fiancé was at the hotel. Tony was having a nice conversation with a pretty bartender who happened to be from his hometown in Edo. I, Scooby, Epps and Pinana weren’t bothered either but Kaftan Guy somehow managed to convince Kay to goad Awo into drive them to go get the girls.

About fifteen minutes later, I got a call from Epps so I stepped away from the loud music

“Guy, police don arrest us o. You guys should come quick abeg!”

“What the fuck! How?”

“They said I’m driving a stolen vehicle o. I don’t even know how that’s possible. We’re at that police station that we passed on our way to the club –”

The call disconnected.

I ran back inside to tell the others and within one minute, we were all parked at the gate of the police station. Alarmed at the sound of screeching vehicles bathing the entrance with multiple headlights, some officers rushed at us with their assault rifles.

“Who una be? Wetin una dey find?

“Oga, two of our friends were just arrested. We’re here to see them.”

“Which two? Na six people our people carry enter station!”

Apparently, they were returning with the girls.

“Two of our friends are among them.”

“Okay. Come back tomorrow.”

“Officer that’s not possible. We have to see them now.”

“I say make una dey go! If I count to three and una never comot here…” The officer cocked his rifle.

We didn’t wait to hear the rest as we scurried into our cars and drove a few metres across the road. Then we got out and decided to send two people over. It was while we were debating who to send that we realised Tony didn’t leave with us as we left the entrance to the station.

Some of us began to panic. Boyo however told us not to, he was just going to join Tony to plead with the officers but Tony was with us before we knew it.

“Guys, dem say we fit enter.”

How did he do it? How come they didn’t manhandle him? Tony somehow felt we had questions so he told us he only showed the police his ID as an officer in the British Navy.

Bloody hell.

Buoyed by this little progress, we got to the counter to see Epps and Kay stripped down to their boxer shorts. Awo had forgotten his licence and ID card at the hotel. Since the car belonged to his company and the officers couldn’t find anything to link him to the company, they simply arrested him, Kay and the girls. Unable to keep his big mouth shut, Awo had further infuriated the officers by insulting one of them.

We had no choice but to beg. The officers said we had to pay N20,000 but they were only going to release Kay, the girls, Kaftan Guy but not Epps and his car. We refused; everyone needed to be out though we didn’t care much about Kaftan Guy and the girls. And damn, those girls were so not fine! Looking at them, it was as if they’d just arrived from the fufu Olympics. Awo said he overheard one of them talking about leaving her two kids with her mom.

Folly suggested calling Kay’s dad since he retired as an Assistant Commissioner of Police. Boyo suggested we shouldn’t because Kay’s fiancée might find out. How would she react when she got the details? It wasn’t going to be pretty.

So we continued begging and hoping they’ll let everyone go for twenty grand.

At around 2PM, they finally agreed to release everyone but the female officers at the counter demanded an additional 10 grand to let them go. These were a greedy bunch and it seemed we had unwittingly become an ATM for this bunch.

All this time, Folly was generally being Zen just sitting outside the station with a flask filled with liquor when a muscled, bare-chested cop closed him down and asked to know what was in his flask.

“Officer, na Black Label o. I no fit let this harmattan cold kill me for outside.”

The officer laughed, before adding that Folly could have emulated him, seeing as he wasn’t fully dressed in the cold.

“Bros leave that thing jare, you’re used to staying outside on patrols and all that. And I sure say you go dey drink too. Follow me go car make I give you better drink.”

When they got to the car, the officer was surprised at how much alcohol Folly had in the boot of his car. Folly just shrugged and told him that it was the way he and his pals rolled in Akwa Ibom. Now the officer was curious because he did his National Youth Service in Akwa Ibom too in 2009, Batch B.

Boyo also served in Akwa Ibom in 2009, same batch.

Folly couldn’t hide hi excitement at this new piece of information, “Bros some of my people for here dey the same camp with you for Akwa Ibom. Make I take you go meet them.” He gave the officer a bottle of Jack Daniels and half-walked, half-ran back to meet us at the counter.

“Boyo!”

At that time, Boyo was pleading with the female officers who refused to sign out Epps and Kay without something for themselves. After an agreed 20 grand, we weren’t gonna budge but the officers were just as adamant.

When he got to Folly, the look of recognition on his face was unmistakable as he stared at the officer with him.

“I know you. Akwa Ibom NYSC 2009. You contested for Mr Macho when we were at the orientation camp.”

Kay, a fair skinned dude who hadn’t said much since we got to the station suddenly shouted, “Agbara!”

That was what they called him back then because of his muscles and body-building. The crazy thing was that Boyo, Kay and the officer all lived in Uyo with Folly’s elder brother for a while before they got their own accommodation.

We were now so confident because we had a friend who was willing to help us – it was a breeze from then on. Fortunately, we hadn’t even paid the 20 grand the police were asking for so we halved it and asked Officer Agbara to settle things for us. The female officers also got nothing.

As we left the station at about 3AM that morning, I asked Epps if he was going to drop off the girls they went to pick up.

“Abeg, fuck that shit. I didn’t ask for this in the first place.”

The laughter that erupted among us was palpable. It’s been a crazy night.

We barely had two hours of the sleep at the hotel before Sir T came knocking on our doors to get us ready for the engagement. The lucky dude was just laughing his head off as we narrated our ordeal, thanking his stars that he wasn’t with us as it all went down.

I’m not gonna talk about the wedding but I know you’ll be wondering about how we all made it through. It was really fun but let’s just say we were a bunch of groggy-eyed groomsmen for the first couple of hours.

And then…we took pictures! 😀

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Epps and 1 – My favourite pic of the day.

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Flint and my goggled self

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Myself, one of Sir T’s friends and Epps

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Pinana, Epps, Myself and Flint that can’t photobomb with dignity

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Sir T le badass groom!

 

Featured image credits: Sugar Six Photography, https://isgphotography.wordpress.com

#SecSchInNigeria- Time Traveling With Epic Memes

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State High School, Oko-Oba (now Progress College)…

I was in JSS 1, barely a month in when the annual Inter-House Sports competitions took place. It was too early to get involved in anything and I hated competitive sports of any kind back then so I went somewhere else to play ‘Four Posts’ with my new classmates.

After finding a spot where we wouldn’t be disturbed by overzealous teachers and prefects, we all took off our shoes to get comfy. I was wearing a pair of rubber Kito sandals; I dropped my knapsack containing 16 Onward notebooks and took off my shirt, leaving me in my school shorts and undershirt.

Game done, I realised my sandals had developed wings. Mom was definitely gonna kill me this time around. My bag and shirt? Gone too.

Long story short, I found my bag some hundred meters away. The notebooks I hadn’t used were gone. Oh well, I took my half bread and continued my search for my sandals. In the end, I went home with one – Kito, my size. Till today I doubt if it was really mine, it was a jungle out there and they’d succeeded in making an animal out of me (Sharrap, onye ochi).

That was day school. So imagine what I had to go through when I became a boarder. I remember the fight I had with Hamid on the assembly ground at dawn over MY coal iron.

But that’s not why we’re really here (all of you looking for short story, yaa wrong :p).

For those who are Twitter lazy, here’s a compilation of some of the funniest tweets from the epic #SecSchInNigeria trend last week. Check the pictures, read the captions.

Enjoy!

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Mr Osadebe was skilled in the dark arts back then😭😭😭😭😭

Mr Osadebe was skilled in the dark arts back then😭😭😭😭😭

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HATE SPEECH: WE NEED NEW LAWS

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Okay…let’s get serious shall we.

Two days ago, I came across this screenshot of a series of tweets done by one dude – King With No Crown (@mcvaaey). The subject: the need to kill all Igbos for being ‘sellouts’. He called Igbos a number of unprintable names and called on all ‘well meaning’ Nigerians to embark on a ‘purge’ or ethnic cleansing of sorts.

We’ve always had this tribal e-warfare but never since Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country book drama and Fashola’s deportation of Igbos have we had it this bad. This time it really reeks, like Fani Kayode’s underwear.

Obviously the guy has never heard of Rwanda and Sudan to mention just two. The guy obviously never heard of our own civil war. History isn’t his forte.

These are difficult explanations to come up with. And they’ll stand.

But I’ve got an easier answer: this guy is a bigoted cretin who should be time jumped back to WWII and labelled a Jew. And that goes for the rest of them. Everyone else who would only open their mouths to spew vitriol against people of other tribes, nationalities, faiths, ideological leanings, etc.

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Funny this is that this moron and others like him will still bitch about Boko Haram and wonder why the terrorists act the way they do. Are they any different? Just because they do their nonsense from behind a keypad doesn’t make them any better. And I only feel pity for them. Because they are the first to cry if they land in Russia and someone makes a monkey sound or brandishes a banana at the sight of them.

It’s not just talk. No. Stuff like this can start riots. And they’ll go to church and sing ‘My hands are blessed’ when they’re in fact stained with blood. Some will take communion or say prayers with that same hateful tongue.

It’s sad. really.

And for anyone who really knows me, I can’t just deal with ethnic bullshit. Some of my closest friends aren’t Yoruba. Hell, if I don’t tell you my name or speak Yoruba, you’ll probably think I’m Hausa. My mom is Yoruba, grew up in the North, schooled in the East and her bestie is an Ibibio woman who married a Yoruba man and gave birth to wonderful kids like Seun Olayemi​, Olayemi Oluwatosin​ and their siblings.

This is where I’m going: if I meet an Ibo man who happens to be an asshole, I won’t call him an Ibo asshole. He’s simply a jerk and will be a jerk whether or not he’s from a tribe that isn’t mine. And this is where we need new laws. I’m not a lawyer but I believe our constitution is pretty weak on hate speech. Help me out here Sir Okwudilichukwu Obu​.

In a sane country like the UK or US, the dude that tweeted such nonsense would already be behind bars. Anton Ferdinand accused John Terry for racist remarks on a football pitch and it became not just a football disciplinary issue but a legal one taken up by the authorities. Last year in the US, Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clipers was banned for life and practically stripped of his ownership because he made a snide racist remark against black basketball players. And here’s the clincher, he said it in private.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a tweet, facebook post, blog comment or meme, you’re gonna get what’s coming – just ask Mario Balotelli.

We need these kind of laws here. You can insult all you want but eave race, gender and religion out of it. That way, you can ensure that some moron won’t wake up one day and start killing people that don’t speak his tongue. And when we do have those laws, it’s our duty to make them work. It’s our duty to report such people to the authorities and make them realise that you can’t type hateful stuff about people and hope to get away with it.

Rwanda is pretty pretty now but we can have an awesome Nigeria without going through what they did. Nigeria is. Let Nigeria continue to be. See the headache most Eastern European nations are still having after their split? I want none of that.

Hate isn’t pretty, and its children are bloody ugly.

THIS OUR ‘FLEE AND FEAR’ ELECTIONS…

Okay, it would only make sense if I say this today. And it’s probably gonna be my last post about the presidential elections.

If you’re hoping for relatively free and fair elections in Nigeria, stick to the cities and major towns. Anywhere else is a sham. I don’t know, the PVC and card reader might help – a bit. I hope so. I also hope a lot of heads won’t be bashed in, in the process.

No I am not going to vote. No it isn’t because I don’t want to. It’s because I can’t.

You see, I did my voter registration 4 years ago in Ukanafun Local Government, Akwa Ibom State, Ward 4, Unit 6 precisely. Transferring proved to be hectic and I’m just gonna chill till INEC gets it right. It’s only common sense that people relocate.

Now this isn’t even the point.

Back then I functioned both as a Registration Officer 1 and Presiding Officer. Fortunately, I had to work in my local government and my village home in Ikot Oku Usung happened to be in the same ward 4. A few people already knew me, I taught their children in school even though I was really supposed to be at the Local Government Secretariat.

Registration was a major headache because people would bring 13-year-olds and you dare not question them. “Corper, nsido, you sabi my pikin age pass me ni?” So you shut the hell up and register the kid. I’m not gonna get my head broken for some town I really had no stake in. No. Once I asked my ward supervisor and he said, “Please do, for your own safety,” I registered em all and ate bush meat while at it.

Then elections came and I was still gonna work in Ward 4 but another polling unit. The man who took us there later called me aside into a Qua Iboe Church nearby and offered me 20 grand, 15 for my assistant and 10 for another official. He said the governor just wanted to ensure we were well taken care of. That wasn’t my problem but hey, if you are gonna bribe me, it shouldn’t be inside a church (I remember seeing that same man two Sundays later at the Winners Chapel I used to attend in the town, seated in the corner exclusively reserved for elders – but that’s a story for another day) I think I told him to hold on and let me finish my job first.

I thought it was just us. I was wrong.

Everyone else had been paid! Even agents from opposition parties who now rallied everyone they were canvassing for, to vote the ruling party. He was their man and it didn’t matter if he was in another party. He’s Annang. They’re Annang. He will get 100 percent votes in Annang regions.

Same thing happened at the presidential elections. He’s South-South, they’re South-South. Their kin must get 100 percent. CPC and AC agents rallied their people to give 100 percent to ‘Their Man’. It was a blatant sellout and i saw tribal politics at its best both for state and national level elections. This was for a governor who only came to campaign and didn’t do shit for those people but 200 Naira per voter was all right to sway them. He’s their man!

So I gave up. Wait up sir, I’m coming for our money!

One dude, came over at some point and snatched the box and ran off, the others pursued him and brought it back “den never put anything officer, everything dey there.” At some point they took the ink pad and ballot papers and created a desk for themselves to thumbprint at will -PDP. It was messy. Well I heard the others did the same at their strongholds. Some dudes were there with cutlasses and hoes, “We dey go farm after voting oga. No worry.” Yes sir, by all means. No, nobody is gonna farm on my head. I don’t live here. I won’t pay taxes here. I don’t have a Chihuahua in this fight. I will siddon look and go home to my family when the time comes.

When we got back to the collation centre, I realised some of my colleagues had been badly beaten for being ‘too stubborn.’ Oh oh, na so dem go kill person for matter wey no be my own? Iyo!

Now what also worried me was that there was basically a 100 grand budget for every polling unit per election. We had about 10 per every ward in that LG – 20 wards, about 200 units. Do the maths, the. Do the same for the remaining 29 local government areas. When salaries wasn’t paid on time that month end, I laughed.

It was more violent in some other areas. Some colleagues lost lives. Over what? Bullshit. Sure it was fine in the more accessible areas where the observers camped out. But in the far flung villages, it was something else. The people didn’t know their right or what to do. And this is why I believe that you don’t wait 5 months to the general elections before sensitising people. What do you have 4 years for?

Despite our reports, nothing was canceled. Not even places where friends were beaten up. They wanted 100 Percent, they got it.

It’s all about numbers and those in the cities don’t really count for shit. Now tell me where the bulk of the voters are and you’ll realise that what we have so far is a sham.

Free and fair elections? Not until we install sense 2.0 in our heads in this country. As for the candidates we have, its a shame on us that there seems to be only two to pick from. Darn shame. Why didnt APC go with Rochas and seal the East? Why not KOWA? Ah yes, she’s a woman with no ‘experience’.

Oshi.

Vote wisely, your life isn’t worth losing for this. Friends shouldn’t be lost because of political differences. I hope we get it righter. Receive sense! Amen.

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DEAR NOLLYWOOD (YORUBA)!

There’s isn’t much so I’ll get right to it. And no, this isn’t to disparage the Nigerian movie industry – the Yoruba segment – but an appeal to see things done right. Sometimes I wonder I it’s really that hard to write in simple, correct English – it isn’t! So why do we still get crappy subtitles? Is it so compulsory?

Yeah, I know English is a second language in Nigeria but it’s one we’ve been speaking now or almost a century. In any case, having subtitles in a movie production should be a professional undertaking so I expect a decent level o subtitling. These days, I cringe when I have the ‘misfortune’ of seeing a Yoruba movie. I’m an editor, so it’s really headache-inducing and embarrassing to see messed up subtitles on the screen.

The world is a global village now and locally produced movies aren’t restricted anymore. These movies are shown on satellite TV to audiences outside Nigeria who understand the English Language used in subtitling but not the Yoruba language spoken in these movies. People travel with these movies; you can find them on YouTube and blogs. So it’s not too much to ask for if a movie you know will possibly be aired internationally has correct subtitles.

I know these producers mean well but some things are only worth doing when done right. I can’t stand seeing a movie while my mind mulls over who’s laughing his head off in Ghana (those ones are always looking for fodder) or Kuala Lumpur. Yes, the aforementioned also produce movies with horrible subtitles but they’re not our movies and definitely none of my business. My concern is strictly about what we put out there and it really should be done with excellence as the watchword.

I’ll just put a few examples below for the heck of it.

Brace for impact…

I’m pretty sure we all know what he’s saying and what the subtitle should be. But by Jove, how hard can it be to spell armed robbery?!

I’m pretty sure we all know what he’s saying and what the subtitle should be. But by Jove, how hard can it be to spell armed robbery?!

Maybe I’m a bit slow. But there are tons of words to use here. A simple ‘relax’ would do. How the flip-flops am I gonna put my mind at ‘arrest’ when it should be at rest?

Maybe I’m a bit slow. But there are tons of words to use here. A simple ‘relax’ would do. How the flip-flops am I gonna put my mind at ‘arrest’ when it should be at rest?

Good Lord! No words here people. No words.

Good Lord! No words here people. No words.

Double slam right here. This right here is funny and I can’t really say why; is it the situation or the translation? But what does ‘tight together’ mean?

Double slam right here. This right here is funny and I can’t really say why; is it the situation or the translation? But what does ‘tight together’ mean?

If we’re gonna be literal here, this man is dead already – the prayer killed him. The Almighty should ‘Ill’ an ill person? Why not just write, ‘Kill him Lord!’? Obviously, we know ‘heal’ is the correct word to use here.

If we’re gonna be literal here, this man is dead already – the prayer killed him. The Almighty should ‘Ill’ an ill person? Why not just write, ‘Kill him Lord!’? Obviously, we know ‘heal’ is the correct word to use here.

Finally…

I’m not calling this one out because there’s no real blunder except that it should be ‘trousers’. That’s forgivable.  But damn, this is awkward.

I’m not calling this one out because there’s no real blunder except that it should be ‘trousers’. That’s forgivable.  But damn, this is awkward.

I understand that we might not have the best movie technology, we might not be able to afford the best cameras or best production quality but having to read subtitles without stress shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

RAMMED

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It so far looked like the best he’s seen his father bring in. White of hair, strong and sturdy, it had a confident look about it as it pranced royally in the pen. Yes, it’s the best ram his father had ever brought in for the Sallah celebration. Maybe dad has hit it big, Mukhtar thought. Or maybe it’s because Saheed, his elder brother was sponsored to the Hajj this time around by their Mosque. Last year’s celebration was low key, the ram was small and skinny and it couldn’t go round the people they wanted to share it with. This will surely be a good celebration, and Mukhtar was as excited as ever.

He loved watching the ram eat, as much as he loved feeding it. Mukhtar had just been promoted into his final year in secondary school so he was afforded a lot of free time. He sought every opportunity to go into the nearby field to fetch grass with his friends so they could pile the pen and watch the ram move its jaw from side to side as it ate. He even tried to eat like that once at dinner; his grandmother noticed and thought he was becoming epileptic. For three days the old woman kept staring at him whenever he was eating to be sure her grandson wasn’t manifesting signs of warapa and he couldn’t tell her the truth. Which was worse: having to explain why he was eating like a ruminant or being monitored for signs of epilepsy? He chose the latter.

Sometimes, Mukhtar wanted to untie the ram and walk it to the open field to graze but was scared he would lose control of the ram and it would run off. He had a small frame compared to some of his friends. Hamid was bigger and singlehandedly took two rams on a leash to the field every morning. All Mukhtar did was cut grass. Hamid was the brawn in his group of friends, and the only other Muslim. Their other friends in the neighbourhood practiced Christianity but always came over during Sallah, just as he went over during Christmas and Easter. Festive periods had a certain thrill about them and the boys didn’t care where they spent it as long as they were free to roam the streets, moving from one friend’s house to the other to eat and drink lots of soft drinks without restrictions.

It was during one of such feeding periods when he went to cut grass alongside Hamid who was as usual, holding his father’s rams by their leash that they overheard some other boys talk about going taking their rams to a fight in the evening. Up until then, Mukhtar always went to see fights but he never participated in one because the field where the fights took place was a far off and he wasn’t sure he could handle such a distance with a ram. So he asked Hamid,

“How far Mido, make we go see this fight?”

“Yes o, before nko. We fit even carry your
ram go.”

“Mad man, carry ram make my papa kill me abi? You no well.”

“You too dey fear sef. Your ram big naa. He go fit win fight well. You know say these two rams wey I hold for here no big reach your own.”

Mukhtar thought about it. Watching rams fight was exciting; having his ram in the fight would simply be awesome. The problem was sneaking the ram out of the house without his father’s knowledge. Mido would handle the ram but first he had to be sure his father wouldn’t be in.

“So how we go do am Mido? You know say na weekend we dey and Pop man go dey house.”

“No worry guy, dem dey go mosque for evening today. I hear when my papa dey talk say Imam get meeting with all the men. When dem don go mosque, we go carry your ram go field.

“Correct. Mido, you no sabi book but all this scammer sense full your head.”

“Sharrap there, you wey sabi book but you no fit handle common ram nko?”

They both laughed as they continued throwing jibes at each other, while they also strategized on the fights they would pick. As was the tradition, every fighting ram needed a name – something fierce and intimidating. They both had never named a fighting ram before but they knew of many names from the fights they’ve attended. There was Scarface, Hulk, Pepe Pepper, John Cena, Undertaker and a host of other badass names chosen from movies, sports, infamous criminals etc.

They settled for Shina Rambo.
********************

It was almost as if they’d walked into a trade fair for rams by the time they got to the field. There were different rings for rams to fight according to their size and estimated weight categories – lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. Mukhtar’s ram fell into the heavyweight category and he was taken to pick an opponent. The opposing ram was called Hitler and for a minute, Mukhtar was scared Rambo would not make it through. Luckily for him, Mido had some fighting experience that belied his age. He had seen Hitler in a fight with three middleweights a day before and he knew that a fresh Rambo would scale through.

Rambo attacked like a ram possessed. Being set free for just one day in the company of other rams was like a shot of steroids. After taking three steps back and then clattering into Hitler, the opponent was already on its heels and the owner had to pull his ram out of the fight; victory.

Rambo was moved into the next round to fight one of the meanest rams in the competition. From where Mukhtar stood, he could hear spectators talk about the prowess of Awilo, the super ram. Awilo was said to be so mean that it would keep ramming an opponent even when it’s down. They said the ram was so insane that they feared for its opponent. Awilo had never been defeated and it would take something special to defeat it.

“Make the opponent better go buy SK from Sikiru if he wan win. If dem give the ram SK, he go charge well.”

SK. Cannabis. Indian hemp.

Mukhtar urgently motioned to Mido to come over. He was worried for Rambo but he also wanted to win desperately. When Mido got to him he expressed his fears and added what he overheard the spectators said. Mido agreed, a little SK would help Rambo attack without relenting. They went over to Sikiru who was surrounded by a crowd of ram owners who wanted to supercharge their champions for the next round. Mido paid N50 and got a parcel (small quantity) of SK. Sikiru advised that they only give their ram half a parcel so it doesn’t overcharged. However, Mukhtar reasoned that half a parcel wouldn’t do much considering what he’d heard about Awilo so he told Mido to feed Rambo the entire parcel.

Supercharged, they dragged Rambo into the ring to face Awilo. What happened afterwards would be on the lips of spectators for years to come. After five insane clashes of horns and heads, Awilo turned and ran. Everyone was surprised. Awilo, the champion of champions ran off, smashing into the crowd to clear a path. Mido was ecstatic, he carried Mukhtar on his shoulder and started singing.

Winner oh oh oh, winner
Winner oh oh oh, winner
Rambo you don win o, winner
Pata pata, you go win forever
Winner!

Mukhtar didn’t care about the crowd singing behind him. He didn’t care if his father would scold or flog him for taking the ram out to a fight. Rambo won. He did something daring and Rambo became a champion. It was while they were rejoicing that Rambo broke free from Mido’s loose grip and took off.

They chased.

But Rambo ran like hell.

By the time they rounded a corner into the next street, Rambo was a bloodied mess on the floor, rammed by a vehicle.

At that point, Mukhtar wished he was the one on the floor in place of Rambo.