One day it will all make sense- I hope!!!!!!

Happy New Year ladies and gentlemen

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Greetings and Salutations

First and foremost, I thank all my followers for their support over the past few months; I hope to continue the relationship into 2015. Secondly I must apologise from the bottom of my heart for being inconsistent with my posts over the past few weeks. I suffered a severe case of writer’s block, brought on by events, which I alluded to in the preceding post. I have made the decision not to elaborate on some the events for now- but I promise one day it will all make sense. It is with sadness that I have to report that my visit to Nigeria in December 2014 did not yield the results I was hoping for or expecting. It was financially and emotionally taxing but as they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The trip wasn’t all bad though, I had a nice but uneventful Christmas. There are so many stories, which I wish I could have written (if you get the chance, ask me about my nightmare experience at the bank) but I will share two conversations, which gave me serious food for thought. While working in Port Harcourt, I had a rare evening off so I went with my colleagues to the local nightspot. After everybody had drank approximately two bottles of Guinness, Star and Gulder, conversations inevitably turned to the state of our great nation-Nigeria. Sadly, we were having the same conversations I used to listen to my parents have with their friends over 25 years ago; endemic corruption, poor leadership, inequality, substandard education etc. etc. etc. Each one of us imagined what Nigeria could be like with good leadership and unselfish leaders. Then somebody made a statement, which made me fear for the future of our country.

“If I get there, I go chop my own o”

I was expecting my fellow drinkers to rebuke the utterer of this statement but each one of agreed.

“Confirmed”

“Of course”.

I listened with disbelief. What made the statement even graver was that it was made by a 21 year old? 22 years after my parents left Nigeria because of endemic corruption, poor leadership, inequality, substandard education; it was with sadness to hear these words from a representative of Nigeria’s future generation. This round of conversation unfortunately demonstrated the depths of apathy for corruption had embedded into the all aspects of society. My friends cursed the causes of their circumstance but if they had the opportunity to be a position of leadership, they would act in the very same way. Based on this, what hope do we have as a nation?

Some of the stories these guys shared with me about life in Nigeria would best be described as harrowing. They had lost all belief of a better a Nigeria and each one of them (10 of them) were actively searching for ways to leave the country. A couple of them said that if they ever got the opportunity to get out of the country, they would never return. I listened to them intently, and with all the humility I could muster I explained to them that in many ways I was jealous of them and in many ways, they were the envy of many of us in the diaspora. They looked baffled until I explained my reasoning. I shared my personal experiences and struggles with quest for belonging & identity in a foreign land. They all listened keenly as I explained that one cannot monetise the feeling of freedom and belonging. In one respect, we in the diaspora are in a “better position”, but they had access to the language, culture, traditions and heritage of our forefathers- a priceless position. I also shared some of the experiences of others, I enlightened them on the life as an illegal immigrant. “Although things are hard here, you are free; believe me, it’s better to live a life of hardship amongst your friends and family rather than watching your back all time in a land full of strangers”. They all listened in silence as I counselled them on some of the realities of life in diaspora. “There are people who have been in UK for 15, 20 years who have not been able to come home to bury the mothers and fathers because they don’t have papers”. I told them that I would not wish for them to experience the indignation of being treated differently because of their skin colour. “You can live in the UK for 100 years, you will never fully belong. I have been there for over 20 years but I am still asked where are you from originally”.

IMG_4086For at least fifteen minutes, I made them forget all the hardship they faced and enabled them to value the benefit of having access to their language, culture and heritage. As I watched the sun go down over the horizon, I had to face the reality that the effects of the stories I imparted that evening would only be temporary. I would have been naive to think that these gentlemen would remember my words when hunger seizes them and they would have to sell their mobile phones to buy food.

Do not despair, I saw one thing that cannot be vanquished in the hearts of all Nigerians- the hope of a better tomorrow. Despite all the hardships and the pain-hope still reigns strong.

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Till next KKB Out

One love, one People……Blast Off-Caniriv 2014

Watin Happen, How you dey my people

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It’s been a busy couple of days, been working in the back ground with the crew of ZMirage to build the biggest stage in Africa. We were all working towards a mind blowing opening ceremony for the Caniriv 2014 and it was a mind blowing success.

The River’s State Government made the concert free for all at the Liberty Stadium and by 9pm there were approximately 40 to 50 thousand people in the stadium, most of the field some in the stands. Then the fireworks began, the people went wild- the curtains shielding the stage were dropped and it was pandemonium. People wanted to party and they were not disappointed, the stage design, lighting ,gain  TV screens, and sound made it the biggest open air party in Africa probably the world that night.  The first artist was a gospel artist; it was a fitting opening to show. Over the course of the even, an array of artist from rivers state performed, some were better than others but it was still a good show. I knew my age when the DJ said “let’s take it back to the old school” and he began playing Mo Money Mo Problems by the Notorious Big, I was the only one dancing in the stadium.

The highlight of the night was when Davido came on stage, the crowd went crazy. He gave a fantastic performance, energetic and professional. It was a great opening to what will surely be a great festival.

 

Till tomorrow KKB Out

The Coffee Shop without Coffee and a Hotel without food…… Wa

Coffee Shop Design

Coffee Shop Design

 

Was up all, KKB writing from Port Harcourt, been an interesting 1 hours or so. I left my hotel around 1pm yesterday and my way to the local airport via taxi. Upon stepping out of the taxi when reaching the departures, I was surrounded by four or five people, each offering a unique service.

“I got carry your load”

“No thank you”

You wan use trolley

“No thanks”

“You wan buy ticket”

“I go help you check in quick quick, no wait in the queue”

“NO” was my firmest response

But they just kept on coming.

Before making my way to the check in desk, I had to go through the health check for Ebola, my temperature was taken and I proceeded to my airline check in desk. I stood at the desk which had the sign Port Harcourt above it. I waited patiently for about 10 mins when an airline employee instructed me to make my way to another desk to my left- I duly obliged. A fat security guard approached me a couple of minutes later and began to reproach me for jumping the queue. I calmly explained my reasoning for being where I was standing. Before I could finish he said

“Why didn’t you ask where you should be standing before you stood there”

Something in me just flipped

“My friend what kind of jargons are you talking, that sign over there says Port Harcourt, does it not”

Game over, he humbly walked away.

I went through security through to the departure lounge. Feeling a little sluggish, I made my way to a coffee shop upstairs to get some coffee obviously. Ladies and gentlemen you guessed it; there was no coffee to be served. The decorations and designs in this coffee shopped offered everything from Americano, to Espresso to a Macchiato but alas they had all other drinks in the world apart for what they were advertising. (Actual Pic from coffee shop) You should have seen the look the attendant gave me when I asked for coffee; one would think I was asking for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese at KFC.

If you thought that was bad, I woke up this  morning at the hotel, went to restaurant at 9:30 am only to be informed that breakfast was not ready…..

I love my country.

Stay tuned for my regular posts on the Canirive- you wont want to miss it……trust me!!!!!!!!

Till next time…..KKB OUT

Poor Education vs No Education…….

Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and our people rediscover their identity and thereby increase their self-respect. Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.” Malcom X

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

I am sorry to say that I woke up in a very sombre mood this morning. This is because of something I witnessed yesterday. One of objectives of my visit to Lagos was to conduct some research for my new book (due for completion 7th December 2015). Part of this research was to visit a public school, but because I couldn’t make it to Lagos on Tuesday  I couldn’t make the pre-arranged visit. So I took an opportunity to visit a random public school, I will not name the school for obvious reasons. My cousin Habeeb and I took an Okada to a local secondary school, the sight that awaited behind the high walls and iron gate was truly shocking. What I saw put my head into a spin, I could not believe that what I was looking at was a place of education. Ladies and gentleman, I can’t fully describe what I saw and experienced but I was totally numb throughout my 15 minute visit. I can’t even describe where students were taught as classrooms, they were four ramshackle, depilated brick building with a tin roof. As I am writing this post, tears are flowing through my eyes. I was emotionally drained through the visit and I became angry after we left.

I am firm believer in not washing one’s dirty laundry in public, but for all the accolades that Nigeria has been receiving about being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, popularity of Afro Beats and NollyWood etc etc….We must remember the forgotten generation, the kids who cannot afford private schooling, but still have hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow.

As I left exited the school gates, I heard laughter from the few school children who were in the playground…so I took solace in the fact that despite the conditions there were there to receive an education. I guess poor education is better than no education. But I cannot testify to the quality of what was being taught in the school which gives me some hope. The child who wants to learn will gain more from being taught under a mango tree than one who is forced into the most prestigious classroom in the world.

I know inequality is not exclusive to Nigeria, but what I saw yesterday was a wakeup call for me personally. Once I return to UK, I will put plans in motion to try to enact change and I will be calling on my fellow Nigerians in diaspora to give their support.

Till next time- KKB Out

 

Fight at the pumps

Was up everybody, hope all is good. I am writing this post from Lagos Nigeria. It’s been a stressful couple of days. I was meant to arrive in Lagos yesterday but my Uncle passed away on Monday morning so I escorted my mother to the funeral in Abeokuta.  The most intriguing thing happened on Monday night. My friend Muyiwa and I were on our way to the University of Ibadan, with the car running low on petrol so we pulled into a petrol station. Although there were six pumps, only one was working so there was a long ques. There were two rows of cars waiting patiently either side of the pumps; we were the fourth car in our line. At the pump itself, there were about 10 people with jerry cans, and three of four Okadas (motorbike taxis).

The second car in queue we were in had totally run out of petrol, so the driver had to push the car every time the queue moved. We had been waiting for about 10 mins when the first car in our line drove off after being served. All of the sudden I saw a taxi zip past us and planted himself at the pumps- at the beginning of the queue. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I thought that maybe he wanted to ask directions or he saw someone he knew at the pumps. Muyiwa and I and all the occupants of the cars preceding us got out of our cars simultaneously.  While walking to the pump, I still wanted to give the man the benefit of the doubt; surely he wasn’t trying to jump the queue so blatantly.  I was shocked upon reaching the pump the man had his fuel tank open ready to be served. That was when the arguments began. He was actually arguing that because the car was not in the right position next to the pump, he was right to take the unused space. I listened to the argument, mind this wasn’t no argument like the ones during prime minter’s questions in the UK parliament, this was hard core shouting, eyes bulging, pushing and shoving. Anybody new to the scene would actually believe that the man was in the right, so cogent was his argument. Sorry to say that the conkness of the Ibadan Yoruba insults being traded, yours truly was not able to join it. But I did help push the  taxi out of its ill-gotten position. As he drove off, he was not sheepish having lost the war, he insulted all our mothers and disappeared into the distance.  If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes and not heard it with my ears, I wouldn’t have believed it. He actually believed that he was the injured party.

I will be travelling  to Porthacourt tomorrow to begin reporting on the canirive festival. I am exhausted, gonna go take a nap… gonna be a busy week ahead.

Till tomorrow, KKB OUT

 

 

KKB IN 9iaja Part 2

Welcome to Nigeria

Was up everybody, apologies for not posting for the past couple of weeks. A combination of other projects, work and prepping for my trip to Nigeria made it impossible write anything.

As the long term followers of kilonshele-kkb will know, this post started last September with the objective of recording my adventures during my six week stay in my mother land in 2013. Well, I am back for another round in December 2014. Amongst other things, I will be blogging from the 2014 Canirive in Portacourt, should be interesting so stay tuned.

Those who followed my adventures in 2013, welcome back. New followers, get ready for a fun ride.  I am pleased to tell you that the adventure began at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4, gate 3.  The flight was scheduled to take off at 9:30pm. At 9:25pm, upon hearing the ding dong which precedes a public service, 95% my fellow Nigerians all stood and went towards the gate. The mad dash towards the gate reminded me of the scramble for a danfo at Oshodi market in Lagos. I guess you can take the Nigerian out of Nigeria but you cannot take the Nigerian out of him.  The announcement calling for women and children to come forward was totally ignored and the announcer finally gave after three of four more futile attempts. You all know how we Nigerians pack, people wanted space in the overhead lockers.

The melee continued on the plane, as I was putting my hand luggage onto the overhead locker I heard

“Madame that is my seat, 27B”

“But where is 27C”?

“Watin concern me with that; that is my seat”

That response caused that some passengers to get involved and began to berate the man for his response.

“what is your concern”??

Mind you, we are still in London but inside of the plane was Nigerian territory. The exchanges reminded of the exchanges between passengers in a danfo. The flight was pretty smooth and uneventful. When we disembarked, we had to go through Ebola checks before proceeding to passport control. As I waited in the queue, I watched as officials took the temperatures of my fellow passengers using a device pointed at the forehead.  The hall where the checks were being taken did not have an air conditioner and it was hot and humid. I found it counterproductive to check people’s temperature in a room where the temperature was about 30 to 40 degrees. We were all sweating like pigs in a barnyard. I pointed out the irony to the man who took my temperature; all he said was “Welcome to Nigeria”.

Till tomorrow KKB Out