HANDCUFFS AND WEDDING RINGS

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

WHAT UNCLE FANI AND I HAVE IN COMMON

First published on 21 August, 2013. My little known response to Femi Fani-Kayode’s incendiary remarks after the much derided Lagos relocation (deportation) episode.

I have a confession to make: I’m really beginning to like Uncle Fani Kayode. Since it’s possible we’re going to be on a nick name basis really soon, I’d just refer to him from now on as FFK. He must like this acronym, after all there’s a JFK, an AVB at Spurs, my dear RVP and Uncle Raji (BRF) of Lagos. Oh my, I almost forgot our dear GEJ! Sorry President Jona, you’re not really trending now; maybe that’s a good thing. Acronyms are endearing, so if you get your name coined in the press as an acronym take it as a show of love.

Fani Kayode

I also like his look, his sleepy eyes will fool anyone into believing he’s harmless. But he’s a lion like he once said. Our dear ‘attack lion’, Doyin Okupe is only trying to imitate him. Besides, he looks like a black, better looking version of Steve Buscemi. I like Steve, he makes me laugh. Since FFK looks like Steve, I think I like him too.

See what I mean 😉 ?

I know you must wonder where I’m going with this; please be patient. Some angry person recently said FFK is a drug addict and a Yoruba bastard due to his recent comments on the relocation (deportation) of destitute Igbos from Lagos State. I find those comments interesting.

The drug part caught me. I couldn’t place a finger on it before but it’s clear now. You have to be high on something really special to be saying what FFK has been saying lately. I only hope it’s not cocaine or heroine because I want none of that. But if it’s kush, I just might change my mind. I had the misadventure of eating beans laced with kush once and I don’t want a repeat experience. But FFK’s weed has to be really special so I’d like some of it.

I do not know how that person arrived at the conclusion that FFK is a Yoruba bastard. I do not care. But I had the opportunity to speak my mind on a website that published FFK’s article – the one in which he denied being a person with tribal prejudice towards Igbos. I like the way he cited his credentials of being a detribalised Nigerian by saying he’s had intimate relationships with some admirable Igbo women. Like I said, you’d have to be high on some really special stuff to tell the world the way he did.

I however disagreed with his points on who owned Lagos and all that. You see, I’m from Ondo State but I’ve lived in Lagos most of my life. My parents work in Lagos, the same way I do now. Tax is deducted from our salaries to embark on projects in Lagos and fatten the treasury temporarily in Uncle BRF’s custody. In a way, our money is used to run Lagos. Therefore my family owns a small part of Lagos, at least the half-plot of land we have our house on. An Igbo man can also argue like this and he’ll win. That is where FFK went wrong. He’s almost always wrong though – cue his ran’t on Obama being the Anti-Christ and other misguided vitriolic essays.

I wouldn’t even go into what the constitution says. Femi Falana has written extensively on that. I like the way Daddy Falana talks, always smiling when he’s arguing on legal matters on TV. I think he loves his job, I like that. Contrary to what FFK says about Lagos being the patrimony of the Yorubas, the fact that I’m from Ondo and a Yoruba doesn’t give me any right to Lagos. If you’re not an indigene of Lagos, you’re not from Lagos. It’s that simple. So when people say Lagos is ‘No man’s land’ let’s not take it out of context, it’s more on the cosmopolitan outlook of the city than anything else. To have a stake in Lagos, FFK says he’s half Lagosian; I don’t know what that means. FFK is a genius though, taking the concept of sucking up to a new level; small people suck up to big people, big people like FFK suck up to states. Maybe I’ll try it on a smaller scale with a local government should the need arise.

I’m Yoruba. However, I’m more Nigerian than Yoruba and I do not agree with Femi Fani-Kayode. Yes, Lagos is in Western Nigeria and is a Yoruba state but it is part and parcel of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. When the Ibos say Lagos is no man’s land, I agree because as far as you’re Nigerian, you have as much right to Lagos as an Awori does.

Today, we pronounce Oyingbo with a Yoruba accent but Igbos have settled there as far back as the 1500’s. I know Yoruba’s who have been in the North for so long that some of them have chieftaincy titles. FFK and BRF make me wonder if the Mayor of New York can deport an American citizen who is from Chicago. You don’t deport a citizen of your country. I wonder how BRF managed to do what he did while attempting to even justify his position under grounds of resettlement. Maybe all this politics has made him rusty in the law. If this is the case, I think he needs to borrow Daddy Falana’s notes.

No problem, I’ll dust them up for you Tunde 😀


Due to my position against FFK’s opinion, some folks on social media said I’m ‘omo ale Yoruba’ – a bastard Yoruba. That’s where I think the similarity with FFK lies: someone called him a Yoruba bastard; some people have called me a bastard Yoruba. They’re two different things but we share a strange kinship in our social media conferred ‘bastardhood’. I’ll take that.

I’m not a bastard Yoruba. But I’d rather be a bastard Yoruba than a tribally prejudiced Nigerian whose actions will be inimical to the progress of this country. I do not have to say Onitsha is no man’s land; I can live there for as long as I want and thrive there too. My mother was raised in Jos. My great-grandparents lived most of their entire lives there and they didn’t have any problems. We all have to wake up, we won’t be here a century from now if Jesus tarries and don’t be shocked in your grave if your great-grandchild has Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo and even Idoma blood mixed in his/her veins.

I refuse to be a contribution to the problems in this country and if I have to be a bastard Yoruba to improve the lot of this nation, so be it. We do not carry Yoruba passports, but Nigerian ones. When a white man calls a Nigerian a monkey, he vexes and froths in the mouth but what we’re doing now is no better.

I’d rather be a disgrace to race than be a disgrace to humanity. So what if the Igbos did it? Do you reciprocate inhumanity for inhumanity or choose to be a beacon of truth, justice and kindness? We’re deporting each other here and northerner’s are killing your brothers over there. Because of what: land and the rights to it? Does it make sense? I proudly wave my Ondo identity in anyone’s face. Being Yoruba doesn’t give you a right to Lagos; being a Nigerian does. Who’s fooling who?

The truth is, at the rate which BRF is going, it won’t matter if you’re from Lagos or not, or if you’re Yoruba or not. It will only matter if you’re rich or poor. Every student at LASU now pays the same exorbitant tuition fee – indigenes and non-indigenes.FFK is rich and can say whatever he likes but we shouldn’t allow those people to set us against each other while they keep looting and scheming. They spark the flames; we grab the bellows and fan the flames of disunity.

Till this country breaks up (if it ever does), I remain a Nigerian and nothing more. That’s all.PS: I’ll give my kids a lesson should they be rebuffed when making advances towards Non-Yoruba ladies for marriage. They should simply say, “You can run from us now, but sooner or latter we’re gonna hump you. So if we’re gonna eventually mix why not start now?!”

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT

We’re tired
We’re worn
Faces ground to ground by tyrants’ boots
But we turn the other cheek
And embrace the caress of Italian shoes
Welcomed into arms proffering rotund bellies

We’re suffocated
We’re chocked
Tarrying for the gutsy wind of transformation
Wasn’t it called a ‘breath of fresh air’?
Still we await a draught
Slipping through a sliver of hope
To assuage troubled pharynx

So we grow restless
And chant
Backing the new dark horse on the track
Hoping to outmanoeuvre the loathed stallion
We just might win
This just might work
The odds look good, don’t they?

We want change
That unyielding constant clothed in variance
What if it’s garbage-in-garbage out?
Leave that worry for the dirt cart pusher
A flushing of faeces with clean water is welcome
Even if to await impending shit

We pray for our champions to take over
Robes for robes, rogues for rogues?
A change of colour with the vagaries of location
But remaining a chameleon still
Oga tabi Oga?
O ga!

Barabbas is freed
Silver Judas is damned
Ole ji, jaguda gba
A rogue for a traitor
Jesus is slain
Salvation has come
Really?

#APC

PS: Yeah we’ve cheered the registration of the Alliance for Progressive Change (APC) as being good for Nigerian democracy. It just might be. But I wonder if they’re the change we really need or if we just want any kind of change – anything to get the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party out. Is it a matter of any change being good; same roguish intent but different affiliations? Till then, fingers crossed.

PS 2: Native language use:
Oga tabi Oga? (Verse 5, line 5): the two words have the same spelling in Yoruba language, but are pronounced differently and mean different things too. The first word means chameleon; the second, master. The sentence is roughly translated to mean, “Chameleon or master?”

O ga in verse 5, line 6 is just for effect. In the context in which it is used, it indicates a feeling of resignation, like saying “Oh well…”

Ole Ji, Jaguda gba (verse 6, line 3) is a Yoruba saying used to imply a common thief stealing for a robber to claim. In essence, nothing’s changed.Apologies for the lack of a Yoruba keyboard to include the different markings indicating a change in the application of stress and sound variations.