Amala with gbegiri and ewudu soup…………………….

Banjour All. I have just returned from the airport after picking my mother and my aunty Sheri who arrived from NYC.  It was a lovely reunion but I am exhausted and I still have not finished my final report for Zmirage.

Everyone who knows my mum knows she is warm, friendly, humorous and very very very sarcastic. I haven’t seen her for a couple of week and I was really happy to see her. Within an hour of her arrival her sarcastic nature came out in full force. I asked her “ki ni ago wi” (what is the time). With her usual sharp wit she replied “oni ko lo ra ti e” (my watch says go and buy you own). That was when I knew we were back to where we left off in London.

Yesterday was a slow day; I worked at the hotel on the report which I can’t seem to finish. I met a couple of friends for lunch at the local buka where I ate amala with gbegiri and ewudu soup (Nigerian don’t know how lucky they are having a buka on every corner). After lunch I made my way back to the hotel, I need to cross the road so I decided to cross at the zebra cross. I waited for cars to stop which they didn’t, in-fact they were speeding.   Traffic built up which caused the cars in the first two lanes to “slow down” I began to cross, as I got to the 3rd lane the driver of the car which I forced to slow down pressed his horn loudly and motioned angrily for me to cross the quickly. As he drove past me, he rolled down his window and shouted an insult at me, I shouted back at him “olodo, don’t you know are supposed to stop at Zebra crossing. Idiot”.  A man who had crossed the road behind me also shouted insults at him. After all that agro, he got stuck in traffic and could only move few yards at a time after the zebra crossing.

 

Nigeria is the only country I have been to where crossing at a zebra crossing poses the same risks as crossing a six lane highway…….. Till tomorrow KKB out.

Btw: my entourage have reunited

Entourage Reunited

Entourage Reunited

entourage have reunited.

One chance buses………….

Waa blo people. Hope you all been well. Thank you for your support and following my blog. I hope I can continue to entertain you all.

I am starting to feel like I am settling into my new environment. I woke up early on Wednesday and decided I would take public transport to work by myself. As I handed my room key in at the reception, I asked the receptionist how I could get to Maryland. She kindly gave me the direction, I said thank you and asked her to tell my mother I loved her if I was never seen again.

I walked to the bus stop and there was only one taxi waiting, from the passenger side I asked the driver if he was going to Maryland, without looking up he said “Leventis, Leventis”. Okay, are you going through Maryland” I asked. I suddenly felt somebody push me out of the way by my shoulders, I turned round to see a little old woman push past me while saying “he is going to Leventis, are you deaf”. I was stunned and I just stood and watched as she got into the front seat with her load.    I got into another taxi with for other people, during the short 10 minute journey I gave the drive =N=200. I was the last passenger to get off, when we got to my stop the driver didn’t look like he was making any attempt to get my change. Where’s my change, I asked in an aggressive tone. “How much did you give me”? “I gave you 200, you owe me =N=150”. He ruffled through his glove compartment and gave me my change somewhat reluctantly.

I needed to take a commercial bus to Anthony bus stop, this was where I had to have my wits about me. My uncle had warned me against taking buses knick named “one chance buses”. These were buses which would contain three or four people pretending to be waiting to pick up passengers. They would actually be waiting for unsuspecting people to enter the bus at which point they would shut the door and speed off. They would rob the person and abandon in a deserted spot. I heard a conductor shouting Ikorodu, Ikorodu which was the direction I was going, but there were only three males on there, with my Uncle’s advice ringing in my ears I ignored them and waited for a bus which was full on arrival and entered.  As we got near my bus stop, I told the conductor, “Antony wa ooo”. I got off the bus and made by way to the office.

My colleagues were equally surprised and proud that I made my way to work by myself. I took the commercial buses a couple more times in during the day to attend a meeting with my colleague Abeeb, it was an interesting and exhausting day. Till tomorrow…………….KKB out

People you meet-Part 2…………………..

King Prawns

King Prawns

I apologize again for the late post, I was not inspired to write yesterday and I did not want to post any old rubbish but I woke up this morning in the zone so here it is. Yesterday was both difficult and satisfying. I got to work late because I was supposed to take public transport but changed my mind at the last minute.

One of the key objectives was to assess the potential of implementing Quality in SME’s in Nigeria, I have realised that it is going to be a much more challenging than I thought or ever imagined. There is a very totally different working culture here and the lack of infrastructure would make things difficult. I spent a day writing a report before finding out that half of what I wrote is redundant. I could not carry out the training I had planned because most of the staff were so busy. Exhausted, I left work and returned to the hotel at 4pm. My room was being cleaned so I went to get a drink at the hotel bar, I had a debate with the barman about my nationality. He tried to say that because I have lived in the UK for over half my life I am British. I emphatically told that although I have British citizen I am still Nigerian. I offered to take him to my family house in Igbore Abeokuta to prove that I am Nigerian. I gave another barman some advice about the realities of life in the UK.

An hour later my uncle invited me to dinner by the pool side with him and a couple of his friends. My uncle’s friends were the most interesting dinner companions I have had in a while. They were both successful business men, one of them in particular inspired me and I inspired him. He is an internationally renowned emergency doctor from South Africa who has traveled the world and treated victims of major disasters. He told me a few stories which made my jaw drop. I talked about my book and they were both very impressed with what I had accomplished and they eagerly wanted a copy. I told about the journey I took while writing the book, the ups and downs and a new project I am initiating which is to donate my book to schools in Nigeria. I also discussed the concept for my documentary which they found very very interesting. One of the traits I have always admired about my mother and my uncle TJ is their ability to draw and relate to people at all levels and all walks of life. The night before, my friend Titi had said that my mother, I and my siblings had the ability to draw people to us seamlessly especially my little sister Karimot. Speaking to these gentlemen confirmed that I did have this ability, these gentlemen had travelled the world, they were heavyweights in the fields and I am sure they rolled with big boys (if you get my meaning) yet I was still able to engage with them effortlessly and keep their attention without breaking a sweat. I did not stutter once and I did not have to repeat myself because I was speaking too fast, I spoke with confidence which made my words come out clearly and eloquently. I wonder why I don’t speak like that all the time; I believe that self-confidence is the key. They shared stories about life in South Africa and while discussing literature it was like talking to one of my boys about football, effortless. I was amazed about how much I inspired the doctor, I mean he is a World Renowned doctor with awards and life experiences I could only dream of but meeting me gave him the encouragement to do what he was wanted to do for year- write a book. He said he had been keeping notes about his experiences as an emergency doctor and treating patients all over the world but he had not started writing his book because he was unsure about how to structure his stories. I advised him “just start writing, don’t worry about the structure, it will sort itself out, just write, trust me when you start writing you won’t stop”. The look of appreciation and admiration on his face is not something I will forget in a long time, he looked at me like I had given him a new lease of life. The feeling of inspiring somebody is priceless, and I hope to continue on the path I have found myself.

One of the discussions which caused me to reflect the most was when they found out my age. When I initially told them about my book they were astonished at what I had accomplished at such a young again. The doctor asked if I was married, before I could answer his companion said “leave him alone, he is still a young man, let him enjoy himself, do you think everyone is like you”. Uncle TJ joined the conversation “young?, he’s not a young man anymore; by the time I was his age I had three girls”. The doctor then asked me how old I was, “I am going to be 33” I said. The silence was stunning; all I could hear was the clearing of throats and an attempt to hide the surprised looks on their faces. “OK! Wow! I thought you were about 25 or 26. Don’t worry you got time”. One of them said. They now gave me some advice about relationship and finding a wife. We talked more about the potential Africa has and why we are not as developed as we should be. For dinner, I had King Prawns, when I say King Prawns I mean KING PRAWNS, not those tiny things you buy at the supermarket in the UK, judge for yourself in picture above.

Following my “Crossroads” post i think am beginning to find my path……. all i need now is how to make a living following my dream. Till tomorrow……………….KKB out

The people you meet………………………

Veronica, Peter, Lucy, Victoria and Alan

Veronica, Peter, Lucy, Victoria and Alan

 

KKB & Friends

KKB & Friends

Odiya All  (Idoma Benua state) Hope you are all good.  Exactly a year ago today I launched my book with my close friends and family in the UK.  My family have been there for and with me; I love you and miss you all. Thank you all for the support over the past year, special thanks to Tega and John, you have been there for me through what has sometimes been a very difficult year. It is a long post today so settle down before reading……

Today was very fully in terms of my interaction with people. I learnt some new things about myself and made some new friends which were one of the objectives of the trip. The day started off well, I had a very good night’s sleep after relaxing day at the beach. I ate breakfast and tried to do some work in the morning but I was feeling a restless so I went for a swim.  This is the first exercise I have done in months and I felt good, I was energised.  I returned to my room and continued to work on my report. After about an hour I felt restless so I decided to go out buy some munchies from a local supermarket. I asked the young lady at the hotel reception for directions to the nearest bust stop to take me to where I wanted to go. Following the young lady’s instructions, I walked to the bus stop, there was only one bus there with a conductor touting for customers. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if the bus was going to the army cantonment. Brashly he said “enter” pointing to the backseat. I took my seat at the back but the bus didn’t move for another 10 minutes as the driver waited for more customers so the bus could be full. Only one more customers entered during that time and the driver only moved when the customers began to complain.  I asked the gentleman next to me how much the fare was.  =N=50!!! He saw that I was holding a =N=100 note, and he said “take his =N=50 from him” pointing at the man sitting on my right. I was confused, why would I take money from a total stranger I thought. He suddenly took the =N=100 note from my hand while repeating his previous statement but in a more stern tone “take the money from him now haaa”. I only realised what was going on when the passengers in front of me began passing money forward to the driver and stating how many people it was for. The gentleman was actually trying to be helpful; he was helping me to make change.  I got off at my stop and began to walk in a direction which was familiar.

I crossed the road (I have become more adept at doing this) and walked into a local fast food joint.  I asked the door man where I could find a supermarket. He pointed in a far off direction and offered to get me a taxi. He hailed a taxi on my behalf and I had to tell the taxi driver I didn’t need him yet. I decided continue my search for a supermarket across the road. The point I wanted to  cross was heavy with traffic, I saw a group of people waiting at a spot and I assumed that they were trying to cross.  I felt it would be better if I crossed the road with them, safety in number and all that. I waited with them for about a minute and nobody budged even when the road was relatively clear, I thought that there must be a good reason for them not crossing so I waited a little longer. They began to shift sideways as a yellow danfo  (transport bus) approached and before it even stopped they were fighting to get on the bus. * (I had a momentary flashback to the first time I took a book at Bashorun market over 22 years ago). This was when I realized it was a bus-stop.

I crossed the road but my search for a supermarket was fruitless so I returned to the fast food joint. I purchased some snacks and as I stepped outside the taxi driver was waiting for me. I asked him how much it would cost to take me back to my hotel. Looking at me with his beady eyes, he said “=N=1700”. “What you smoking”? I exclaimed. “Don’t worry I will walk, 1700, you must be nuts”. I would rather walk, it is just down there.   “Ok, ok  pay 1,000.” “1              000?? “Oga I beg move, I go walk”. “Ok ok, how much you wan pay” he asked meekly. I will pay you =N=500. “Ok enter”. With that I entered the cab and few short minutes later I was at the gates of my hotel.

This is where my day became interesting . I went to hotel bar to buy a bottle of water. While there I got talking to a young lady called Lucy behind the bar, she said something which was I found profound. “She said that I never talked to people, I only ordered things and left”. I was not upset because people have told me all my life that sometimes come across standoffish. I apologised for my perceived aloofness and I introduced myself.  We got to chatting and I also introduced myself to the bar man, Alan. I really enjoyed talking to them and the seemed to enjoy my company, Lucy just laughing at anything I was saying.  I made a point to introduce myself to the receptionist who had given me directions earlier and apologised for not doing it earlier.  

G picked me up and we went to the watch the West Brom vs Arsenal match at the local sports bar. (Arsenal drew but Spurs lost so I will count that as a good day, there are no Spurs fans here in Nigeria so I should be safe!!!!) We were joined by my friend Bisi and after the match we returned to the hotel. Bisi and I went bar and I continue my earlier conversation with Alan and Lucy.  Alan gave me some insightful advice which I really appreciated and I introduced myself to young lady called Veronica. (Prettiest smile I have seen a while).   While talking to my new friends, I realised something about myself, I have the ability to draw people to me if I don’t think about it. I am sometimes too aware of myself which sometimes makes it difficult for me to engage with people. At the bar, I was talking without thinking and these people were fully engaged, they seemed to find me interesting and funny which made me feel good.  As I told them about my day they just kept on laughing at my stories. A young man named Peter joined our conversation, within 30 mins I was friends with 5 new people without even trying. They were all interested in reading my blog and I amazed as Lucy laughed when she read parts of my posts on my phone. They saw a copy of my book and they were so interested in reading it I felt compelled to give them a copy to read.  Peter began to laugh when he read the forward. They were all appreciative for my gesture but I am truly grateful because they have made this a day that I won’t soon forget ……………………. Till tomorrow KKB out.

*those who have read Memoirs of a Young African will understand.        

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s a beach………

IMG_1773

涨. Today was my first day of relaxation since I arrived in Nigeria and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For some reason or another I didn’t get a full night’s sleep, I woke up around 3am and began to watch a movie ‘Scent of a Woman starring Al Pacino`. I woke up around nine, did some work, went to have breakfast and came back to my room to carry on working on my report.

My friend Gbolahan (G) discussed the plans for the day, we had arranged to go to a beach in Lekki so that I could go jet skiing.  He contacted a couple of his friends and we arranged to meet them on the way. The drive was smooth, no pot holes on the road, the streets were clean, and I could have easily believed I was driving on the streets of Miami.  As we approached a toll gate, I was impressed with how orderly things were. Drivers were waiting patiently for their turn to go through the barriers; nobody was pressing their horns or shouting.  (Pic 1) I said to Gbolahan, “so there can be order in this country”.  No sooner had I finished my statement did I see mini bus drive past us and try to force his way in front of the vehicle in front of ours. (Pic 2).  Within 10 seconds, three other vehicles were attempting to copy the mini bus; all I could do was shake my head.

pic 1

pic 1

pic 2

pic 2

We picked up G’s friends and made our way to the beach. The first beach we went wasn’t lively enough so the group decided to go to a livelier beach which was about 10 mins away. We paid the =N=1,000 entry fee and settled at table with a beach umbrella.  We ordered Suya and smoked fish.  I took a walk on the water, as I stood on the edge and looked into the distance I felt a total sense of peace and tranquillity that I haven’t felt for the past year or so. The see breeze was soothing and I felt I had floated into my own little space in the world.  Basically, I was a good day.

I should going to watch the Arsenal match tomorrow in between doing some more work. I am getting a little worried because I have because I have not had any inspiration for my book which was the main objectives of this trip.

Today marks the 1st year anniversary of the launch of Memoirs of a Young African. Thank you all for your support and compliments over the past year, it has opened a whole new avenue and perspectives on life for me. I aim to continue on this path although I don’t know where it will lead which makes it more exciting ………. Till tomorrow KKB out.

Motor Boys of Lagos……..KKB salutes you.

First and foremost, my condolences to the families of the victims of the plane crash this morning. My prayers are with you all. Fayekemi, sorry for your loss, keep your head up.

Insido everybody (Efik, Calabar) If you remember my first blog, I said Nigeria was a writer’s paradise, well today proved the point.

When I woke up this morning, I wondered if I would write a post today. I didn’t think there would be anything to write about, all I was going to do was go to work and return to the hotel. My uncle was busy so I would not be receiving my daily dose of life lessons which I had become accustomed to.  My day in the office went smoother than yesterday, by 2pm I had decided that there would nothing for me to write about. I was sad that I would let down the legions of fans who were expecting their daily fix of stories. At 2.30pm I felt hungry, usually I would ask the office assistant to get me lunch but I decided I stretch my legs. I left the office and walked to a buka (informal restaurant) which was about half the size of a shipping container. The Alhaja invited me inside to take a seat. The only seat available was with two traffic enforcement officers (LASMAR) and a policeman carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. They were having a heated argument, from what I heard it was about sharing some money. I ate amala with awedu and washed it down with a bottle of super malt. I asked the Alhaja how much I owed after I ate, she said it came to =N=470. I gave her a =N=500 and I considered telling her to keep the change, and then I thought she probably owned a 6 bedroom mansion so I waited for my change.

As I walked back to the office, I heard someone shout “motor yen tin jo no ooooo”. I looked across the six lane highway and saw a minibus which had crashed into the guardrail and the undercarriage was on fire. In a flash I saw about 20 motor boys run across the six lane highway towards the burning vehicle and tried to get driver of the minibus out.   Within a spit second, everyone had a duty, two of them were directing traffic, another two where running back and forth across a busy highway to get water in an attempt to put out the fire which was getting bigger by the second and was bellowing thick black smoke. The scene was chaos, cars pressing their horns, speeding trailers slowing down at the last minute, traffic began to build up but these motor boys continued to put their life in danger in order to help this complete stranger.  They were fearless and daring. I was so upset that I did not have my camera with me.

What amazed me the most was when I looked to my right and saw two policemen and three traffic officers watching the whole thing unfold from a safe distance. I was amazed and disappointed simultaneously. The motor boys successfully put out the fire then a policeman walked to the scene and feebly began to direct traffic but the motor boys were the ones in charge.

The motorboys have a bad reputation for causing trouble and they are blamed for the traffic in Lagos because they park their danfos (commercial vehicles) anywhere to pick up passengers. On this day they did themselves proud in my eyes.  The irony of the situation was that the motor boys felt a sense duty while the official failed to perform their duty.

The desire to do good is in most of us, the ability to be bad is in all of us. Till tomorrow KKB out…….

 

Crossroads……….

Crossroads……….

Whatagwan people. Today has been interesting day. Noting really exciting happened per-se but it has been a reflective day. My uncle and I left Abeokuta at approximately 9am and as usual a journey with my Uncle is never dull, my way of thinking seems to develop abundantly every time I am with him.

The main objective of this trip is to assess my Quality Management implementation within the Nigeria, to be honest I am not on track with that at the moment. My schedule for working at Zmirage is way off balance, I didn’t get to the office till about 2pm and everybody was so busy I couldn’t do what I had scheduled but the day was not a waste. On our way to Lagos, we stopped off to greet Uncle TJ’s mum and I blessed with the opportunity to carry a baby that was approximately 14 hours old. I was in the presence of 4 generations. Grandmother must have been about 85 years old but she had the liveliness of a teenager.  Seeing Grandma and carrying the new baby filled me with so much energy I felt I could carry a mountain on my shoulder.

During the journey my Uncle said that I should be writing more than I am currently doing. I feel he is correct but I want to enjoy my writing and not turn it into a job. I write best when I am in “the Zone” but I have not been in “the zone” for a few months now. I shared a few ideas with him about putting my books in schools in Nigeria which he was totally supportive of. I wish I could write more than I am doing now, I have been working on my second book since November 2012 and I have not made dent. I have noticed over the past few months that I get truly excited about life when I talk about writing or creating something or working on my documentary. QA is a job but writing to be my life. This is where the crossroad comes in;  I don’t know if I will be able to dedicate sufficient energy to both but I gotta eat no??

What do I do, what do I do……..the more I find out about myself and make strides to define my place in life the more lost I feel.

Are we fighting………?

School children march

School children march

Army march

Army march

Namaste all, to all my Nigerian followers, Happy Independence Day.

My Uncle TJ and I started off for our trip to Abeokuta from Lagos around 8am this morning.  Last night when I asked my uncle what we were going to do in Abeokuta, he said we were just going hang out with the boys!

The journey was enlightening. My uncle is a very philosophical individual, he dropped some knowledge on me, some deep stuff that I am still trying to decipher it as I am writing this post. The one I did fully understand was the proverb “Aiye loga, orun ni ile” (Life is the market, heaven is home), there was another one about all Swans being white which I didn’t understand. He told me a few jokes about Nigeria but the funniest one was:

“Nigeria is the only country where you count your money after withdrawing it from the ATM/Cash Machine to ensure you haven’t been cheated”.

We arrived in Abeokuta at around 10am and made our way to the M K O Abiola stadium to join the Independence Day celebration. There was a military parade, then some marching by school children from primary schools in Abeokuta, then some more marching from some secondary schools, then the boys scouts marched, the girls brigade marched, the young butchers of Abeokuta marched, the mechanic union of Abeokuta marched…………I think you get it by now. There was a lot of marching!!!!!! I watched the marches by approximately 150 different groups which lasted approximately 90 mins.    After the celebration, we joined the Governor of Ogun State’s   motorcade back to the Governors  residence to have lunch with Governor Ibikunle Amosun and some specially invited dignitaries. (The Senators entourage and my entourage back in Ibadan are like an Elephant and an ant on seesaw).   I had the great pleasure of meeting the honorable Alake of Egba-land.   After lunch, I was driven around my home town Abeokuta,  and had the opportunity to see the Kareem family home in Ibgore.  

Kareem Family House in Abeokuta

Kareem Family House in Abeokuta

I was dropped off at the hotel at around 4pm. After taking a quick rest, I decided to take a walk around the area. I walked past the swimming pool and considered taking a dip after my walk. As I walked towards the gate, a pretty young lady approached me and told me she liked my stature, physique and the way I carried my myself.  I am a gentleman so I will leave it there, but I decided   against the dip in the pool.  I didn’t want to disappoint the young lady by showing my actual physique- the asaro I had for lunch hadn’t digested yet if you catch my meaning.

After returning from my walk, I decided to have a cup of tea so I went to the hotel restaurant. I asked the attendant “can I have some tea please”.  “Tea?  she asked with a look and tone of astonishment. You want teaaaa?? “Yeah I want some tea, you know Lipton, Tetley”. I replied.  “I know what tea is sir”!!! From her reaction to my request, anyone would have thought I asked her to go and cultivate fresh tea leaves from India or China.  After drinking the tea which was served promptly and politely I must admit by a different attendant, I went to the original attendant and asked her how much my bill came to. She tore out a receipt, thrust it at me and said =N=500!!!!. Picking up the receipt,  I said “do I pay here or at reception”. You pay here!!!, she barked. With a smile I said in a Nigerian accent  “haaaaa, madame are we fighting, I haven’t been here before I am just asking”.  At this, she let out wide smile.  The ironic thing is, she had a beautiful smile that most people would kill for………….

We should return to Lagos tomorrow. Till tomorrow-KKB Out.