Thursday, 17 August 2017
"My friend Gbolahan and I used to be at the University together in America...he's very intelligent" he laughed as he explained to Alhaji what he meant.
"Yes, Mahmoud and I came out tops in our class, our professor commended us saying that he didn't realize that black people were very smart"
"Apart from being patronized, we got the quality education that our parents paid for, then it is our duty to build our country with what we have learned"
All the men burst our laughing at that. Gbolahan was half laughing because what Mahmoud had said was true but whether that promise would be executed was a very different matter.
They talked and laughed for two hours later before the Alhaji Danladi appended his signature to yet another contract that Gbolahan and Mahmoud would execute together.
Two women was walking down a hallway or more appropriately, a woman in her thirties was leading a five year old down a hallway. They shuffled along together the five year old unaware of the place where she was being taken to.
She licked a red lollipop soundly as she walked with the woman who was dressed shabbily as was the five year old girl. It was obvious that they were very poor and it would be difficult to get out of poverty because they obviously didn't have any education.
As they moved closer to the door, the woman in her thirties began crying, she was crying and questioning her actions and the motivation for her actions. She wanted to stop but it seemed as if she had no choice.
As she got to the door, a white man opened the door and gestured for the young lady to come in, but no, not the young lady but the five year old. The man put a wad of notes in the hands of the thirty something year old and then took the hand of the five year old and closed the door.
The woman put the wad of notes into her shirt and began to retreat slowly from the place where she had deposited her package. She was neither happy nor sad. She was non existent, but even the none existent still had to eat.
Ada sat in her room, in front of the mirror simply looking at her reflection. She was everything any warm blooded man would desire even though she was in her forties, and had the accomplishments a man in his fifties would be satisfied to be making.
She was satisfied with her life. She was a very successful woman also married to a very successful man with children schooling abroad and yet something was eating at her insides, the satisfaction she craved was nowhere to be found. Even her accomplishment and success gave her no satisfaction. She was in church twice a week when she was in town, yet she recognized the gaping invisible hole in her chest from which her life force seemed to drain out. All the joy in her soul had long since drained out and she had no idea what to do to make it better.
Being a woman in a high position, having a close friend who knew everything in her life was equal to having someone who could make and break her.
She came downstairs for a drink of tea. If she consumed alchohol everyday like some people who lacked control, she would understand what the emptiness was.
She gulped down the tea and dialed the number of her close friend.
"Cara, I am bored, can you come over"
Cara picked up the phone on the other said, "Ada, it's midnight, why do you want me to come over, how..."
"I don't know why, I just know that my memories are driving me crazy and hubby is enroute Canada to see our youngest, his phones are switched off and I just needed to talk to someone"
Cara opened her eyes wider and cleared her eyes, she had been in prayer for Ada for almost 4 years, praying for her heart to thaw towards the Lord.
"So what do you want to talk about?" asked Cara gently.
"Anything" Ada muttered "Would you pray with me so I can go to sleep"
"I will. There is nothing to fear. In Jesus name..."
Meaning of words:
Dashiki: a loose brightly coloured shirt or tunic, originally from West Africa.
Damanga: Hausa cap
Wednesday, 26 August 2015
He was dressed to the nines with a snazzy new suit, not the expensive designers, but designer enough for it not to be described as a 'coat' by all the no longer struggling comedians. He had on the right shoes, socks and tie, he was even wearing a watch which was a gift from his pastor that was purchased with a small fortune.
He remembered the days when comedians were still struggling in Nigeria, then their jokes were funny, it had to be because that was the only opportunity they had, that was their platform so that they would not starve, now all he ever heard were recycled jokes.
On the job, he was every bit efficient, so efficient that he still had enough time to hang out and mingle in the office, he mingled so well he was already 'crushing' on someone. There she goes now, he thought.
She had the right kind of boobs, bum and a great face to go with it. She was his perfect wet dream. He was yet to tell his pastor about this crush. He wanted to hold on to it for a long as he could, hopefully not too long but just a little more time to savour it.
You like ladies for funny reason. He loved her body but he fancied her because she was constantly talking. Her mouth never closed, it was always in a constant pout as she took those ridiculous selfies she was constantly posting on instagram. She was a pretty somewhat tall lady in the office. He smiled as he walked to her table.
"What can I help with this morning, madam?"
She leaned over to him and explained something his brain could not understand because she was standing too close.
"Look at the papers" she lifted eyes up to his and he hurriedly grasped the papers from her and turned his attention to the papers
"I think I can handle it, Caro"
"I knew you could" she smiled and then suggested "Why don't you come and hang out with us this Friday night?" she smiled as she invited him out for a drink.
He choked on his words knowing that they wouldn't come out right "I don't have the time, I would really love to hang out with you but..."
"You don't drink, I understand..." She pursed her lips and smiled, tapping him on the shoulder. "Okay, see you later"
She was everything his pastor found wrong in a woman but she was the one he wanted.
She had a son that she loved very much and took care of, he didn't know the story behind her getting a son but he knew that she was responsible, she paid her rent, had her son in a good school, worked hard and brought in the profits and she cooked for her son every morning before work.
She was not the typical christian sister in church who were posturing and fighting one another for who would date him now that he has a job on the island as wannabes were wont to say. He knew what they would say about him in church, that he was dating an older woman because of her money and her car but that wasn't it, he just felt drawn to this woman and didn't know what to do about the attraction. She worked in a different department from him which was a good thing because otherwise he would not be able to concentrate at work. You can't kill the goose that bears the golden eggs, you won't, not if you are smart.
"Bright, are you done?"
He looked up and smiled a bright warm smile. The masks of smiles he saw on some of his colleagues faces were disheartening. Their souls were so lean that it was impossible for them to conjure up a smile that meant anything.
He had the money now that they also had but there was a freshness about him that they didn't have and he knew it must be their pursuits that were showing up on their countenance. He knew this because those expensive creams and perfumes that they used, he didn't much care for them. He used deodorant, perfume and a non-extreme, non-bleaching cream but because he had been in lack, having much showed in his face like it hadn't ever before but that was 6 months ago and he still looked better than them (maybe they wouldn't agree) but the looks on the faces of the middle level managers told him that he did. Good looks were a gift from God as was everything that he had.
"Yes sir, I am done" He answered his 'Oga'.
"Good, excellent work"
The robust man in a wide suit glanced at Bright's work and said, "This is good, I will be visiting one of the banks by 12 noon, I would like you to come with me"
Bright smiled and went back to his desk. He noticed a couple of heads look up as his Oga said that. One of the things he hated the most about the offices the competition. If your Oga liked you, people gravitated away from you because they were afraid that you would be the one telling tales, if the boss was angry with you they gravitated away, they only came around you when they wanted to give you more work including the work that was theirs to do.
Ada was in America visiting her children. All three children were in boarding house in America and her sister was their guardian when she was away which was most of the time because she had a very demanding job in Nigeria, she was one of the big decision makers in Nigeria and didn't have as much time as she would have loved to spend with them.
She couldn't blame them/herself, this was her dream and they all wouldn't be happy if they were not fulfilling their dreams/purposes (herself included). There had to be a way around it without being a stay at home mom, many women nowadays didn't want to be just stay at home moms, they wanted to be more and that was okay.
She tapped her glass with her spoon and then lifted the glass of juice to her mouth. She sighed as she thought of her friends. There were friends for all the seasons of life and she had them all. Knowing who to call when you wanted to discuss your heart was what she found tasking. Discreet women were hard to find and when found were necessary to keep by making those emotional investments.
She picked up the phone and called her office in Nigeria giving instructions and generally running her business from miles away.
Tinu Tade sat on her bed playing games. She had a couple of movies "Son of God" and "Bible Series" on top.
A friend gave them to her during Sunday School weeks ago. She had not gotten around to watching it. Partly because she was busy, the other reason was that she was worried about her parents marriage. She was so worried she was reading relationship articles on the internet. Most of the stuff on the internet seemed recycled. Finding something on relationships and how to build them was difficult. She had been praying so hard daily now like she had never prayed before.
Marriage? That had not existed for a while, she thought.
She did not know much about marriage been 14 and all but she knew enough to know for a fact that her mom would not continue to live life unloved. She wished her mom would reach out but her pride prevented her from reaching out. She loved her dad and mom and refused to take sides but it was tiring.
Her father was present but "not there", she could not quite describe it but she knew he was absent even when he was spending time with them. His heart was not quite in his words.
" Why won't Mommy make it better? " she yelled into the empty air. She didn't' want to blame her mom but she believed that her mom had a clearer picture of where she and her dad were.
There was no one to hear her and no one to care. The help was downstairs, the gateman in the gatehouse and yet she felt so alone that she wondered if anything would ever fill that hollow space inside her.
She lay down on the bed and wanted to die. What was the use of anything else if mom and dad were not together? Maybe she'd watch the movie, maybe not. All she wanted was for the Ebola thing to die out so she could go to the Galleria to hang out. She had too much time to think. That must be the reason for all the morbid thoughts.
She shook herself then flung herself on the bed. She opened a new site and began reading something that would add value to her life.
Tanya watched the campaigns on TV with this pissed look on her face.
"What is the point of all this mud slinging?" She muttered
"We can't know who would rule better, based on the amount of mud one sends flying"
"Na you know" her best friend muttered as she fried chicken in a deep frying pan. Tanya's best food was fried chicken and fried yam, she could eat them together or apart.
Tanya took one of the chicken amidst the attempt of her friend to slap her hands off.
"Chill babes, if you were not my favourite cousin's wife, I would not love your chicken so much"
"Like we were not best friends before I met your adorable cousin..."
"Adorable? You call that my jaguda cousin adorable..." She grimaces, then mouths out "I agree with you, love does wonders"
Her friend slaps her arm then smiles in a sheepish way, "Since you won't get married or show me your boyfriend, I have arranged a blind date for you..."
Tanya gasped threw all the chicken, then sputtered, nearly breaking down into tears.
"Why do you think I need a blind date?
She denied half heartedly. She knew she would go on the blind date but when she didn't open her heart, what was the point? It would just be a lot of exotic food eaten that would end up in the toilet. She was finding out some things about the heart. You could make your body go on a date but you couldn't open your heart just by giving it a command. The heart had a mind of its own. The same way, you can't make it enjoy Sushi by telling it by Sushi is expensive when the heart knows that sushi is raw.
She threw her hands up in the air.
"You know your problem? You think say you be oyibo" Her best friend shook her hands in her eyes warning her. "You no be oyibo and na naija guy wey you go marry as I see you so, as you no wan comot from the country even go holiday"
"I for just marry oyibo make I no dey worry my head dey wonder who beta pass but all these oyibo boy wey be gay, abeg I no fit"
"You know say you no fit vex for me, I am your best friend and I have no reason to want to hurt you. Please go, just promise me you will at least stay an hour before you leave"
"Okay, I will" she breathed out a sigh before adding "but you have to promise me, that if I go, you will give me a 3-month break before you set me up on another blind date. Promise?"
Her friend harrumphed and blurted out "I will not be making any stupid promise I know I won't keep"
"Whatever, you can't make me go on another one until I am ready"
"Sometime I think you are just asexual, stupid girl"
"At least, I am certain that I am not gay, I am just not in a hurry to shackle myself to anyone"
"Okay. God will help you make the right decision"
"Amen, love" she breathed a sigh and hugged her friend. "Thank you for no pressure and the vote of confidence".
"I promise you, you will be the first to know, when I make up my mind"
Friday, 15 August 2014
Now it was week three and word was out that some of the staff in the First Consultant were infected. The WHO had said that the survival rate was 20% and the mortality rate 80% so Nigerians were scared stiff.
Nigerians and churches were praying, officials and ministers were on the move working to minimise damage. In light of the happenings, he smiled at the woman who was refusing to collect the 100 naira from the hand of the scrawny Sudanese looking lady. This had been going on for the last three weeks.
Everyone was scared of the foreigners because people were escaping from the affected African countries to hide in Nigeria, in hotels and motels and any place that could be a hide-out.
One of the things that was affecting the Nigerians currently was fear. It was flowing in the minds, hearts and all over Nigeria. The fear was so potent against human beings, or so his pastor said.
Many Nigerians reacted by bathing with salt because a bbm message had made the rounds that if you bathed with salt daily, you would be protected against the virus. Someone died from that rumour until the appropriate authorities went on TV and strongly advised people to desist from drinking salt.
He kind of understood her because in the last three weeks he had felt one symptom or the other to magnify his fear and unease at what he perceived was in the . He had been working for about four months now and it was quite challenging but he was glad to be providing solutions and not just occupying space.
He was glad to be adding value to the world. He was happy to be putting a smile on his mother's face just simply because she could now tell her friends that her son was working 'on the island'. To be deigned important enough to be working on the island earned you superstar status by those who hadn't yet gotten the opportunity.
'This was what I was born for'. He thought to himself.
He was distracted again by the pretty lady who wrapped herself in a scarf. She was afraid of Ebola plain and simple. Everyone was avoiding body contact in the bus.
The TV, Newspapers and the internet were buzzing with how it spreads. They were also buzzing with death even doing a count. The minister of Information had even gone on TV to warn the media on how they were causing fear amongst the populace that would be counterproductive.i
The news said over and over again that some crazy American-Liberian sneaked into the Nigeria on an Asky flight and the health workers, doctors and nurses of a certain hospital in Obalende got infected because they initially suspected malaria or HIV and conducted tests which the man cleared in flying colours. The consultant on duty would be famous in a couple of weeks if he survived quarantine. There were almost 200 people with either primary or secondary contact. No one was eating ‘suya’ again apart from the die-hard drug addicts who did not believe that Ebola existed. Bright sighed and closed his eye to catch some shut eye before tomorrow’s hustle began. Catching sleep in the bus was a past time he had recently adopted when he knew the sleep wasn't enough.
News was hot cake on the island, last week, it was the Muri Okunola palaver that saw W.H.O shutting down the NNPC hospital since a case with Ebola had been found there. All and sundry kept asking, 'how far, what's the latest gist, has anyone died?'
Bright shook his head in pity, everyone was eager to hear bad news so long as it wasn't in their vicinity. Why wasn't everyone as eager to hear good news? There was glad tidings to be heard and few were committed to paying attention.
The last two weeks he had been in terror of all that he touched, the frenzy to wash his hands constantly was eating at his soul. He almost considered calling in sick and staying home where he would be safe for at least two weeks. Enough time for those quarantined to be let go.
Going to church was his saving grace. When he heard his pastor preaching on how Ebola was one of the curses and how that the cure for the curse was the cross. He berated himself quietly wondering how his focus had shifted so easily to the corruption in the world and how he had forgotten that he wasn't an earthly sibling stupid as it may sound, he had found it to be true in his life.
After hearing the message, the peace of God filled his heart and his heart was now steady and confident. As he went home, he collected some hand wash from the usher and sanitised his hands. He walked home with confidence in his heart.
"I will not be afraid of the terror of the night or the pestilence that wastes at noonday" he chanted to himself believing that it would get into his heart. He smiled to himself. He was experiencing the blessing and it felt good. He was particularly glad that he was able to give money towards the furtherance of the kingdom in church.
He didn't have to hide his frustration in public complaints of colleagues, his fellow bus riders or vendors about pastors and how they spent money, he personally chose to leave them to God. He knew that as much as it was human beings who physically handed him an employment letter, God had a hand in his getting this job.
The favour of God his pastor talked about, and told him that he had the right to because of the covenant he had with God was working in and for him. He felt so humbled that God would be so good to him. He smiled and thought of how he would be in church the next day. All he wanted to do was hear his pastor preach. This word of God was liberating and he was eager to experience freedom in all the areas of his life.
Tanya Williams sat up in bed crying. She was wearing a blue tank top and blue shorts and her socks. She had called her partner to report that she was under the weather and couldn't make it to work. Her friend teased her lightly. 'I hope it’s not D'ebola o'.
She glanced up at the TV set and saw the face of the devilish Sawyer-man who had allowed the devil to use him to bring Ebola into Nigeria and cause a panic in some of the most wonderful 170 million people in the world. She should be afraid of Ebola or worried about getting it. She wasn't even interested. All she could think about was that Mukhtah from NYSC was getting married and he had the guts to invite her and he expected her to come. She smiled through the tears that were falling down her eyes.
'No' she sniffed. 'I have not touched anyone, I'm safe'. She responded to her sister-in-law.
She was so spaced out, all she wanted to do was drop the phone and sleep. She wasn't interested in everything she liked this moment. Her dear doctor friend would tell her she was exhibiting signs of clinical depression. She was Christian enough to know that clinical depression was of the devil. Even though her friends from other quarters would disagree.
'Okay, take care of you, love. I'll call you later today'.
She sniffed and blew her nose not ready to stop crying. She was upset at Mukhtar. He had sent her a text that he was getting married. His mother was uncomfortable with him marrying a southerner and other crazy stuff like wanting to see her grandchild before she dies.
Mukhtar was granite black and totally nondescript, she had followed her around camp like a puppy dog and she treated him as such. She was sweet and nice to him in the way girls are sweet and nice to guys whom they could never marry. It was a trap though and she never knew when she became fond of him.
She didn't know when the puppy love had changed into something that she would even consider. She hoped this was not desperation smelling through. She felt like Mukhtah was even gloating somewhat. Drats! Stupid boy, she’s sure he was hurt and wanted to show her he had finally fond someone.
Her reputation was taking a hit and some measure of her heart. She wasn’t in love with him, she had inadvertently let him in.
"Stupid, stupid guy, you are nothing to me. I don't even have the energy to prove it to you that I don't give a hoot"
Tanya felt like burrowing into a magical hole and disappearing into the hole never to be seen again. But that was not to be. She was an adult and it was preposterous for her to think that she could lie in bed all day when other adults were working and making a life.
She had to do her part even though it felt like her world was falling apart. She couldn't call her mom and her best friend was in the UK, she had just delivered a daughter.
'Selfish friend, you' she muttered. You haven't even gone to see your bestie, the ones who are important to you, here you are crying over a guy who doesn't accord you the respect you deserve. 'O ga o!'
That acted like an elixir that restores self-esteem, she sat up in bed and started laughing hysterically.
"You sha like to take unserious things serious, I am not going for the wedding sha. He is not important enough for me to spend valuable resources travelling to Abuja to attend the wedding of a stranger and someone who she thought was her puppy".
She wasn't a feminist at all even though you might interpret her actions to be that of a feminist. She was just practical. Her cousin and siblings had advised her over and over that marrying a Muslim was out of the question. She was catholic and didn't see what could go wrong. Getting born again in college didn’t count. She knew right from wrong but she couldn’t say that she was categorically committed to God.
After all everyone was worshipping God in their own different way. When the world is over, God would decide whose good deeds outweighed the bad deeds and let them into heaven. Although she had never read it in the bible, she knew the basic doctrines by hearsay*.
Mahmoud sat down with Gbolahan Dada for a drink. He was a big man effortlessly. He was one of those people who never had to do 'fake it till you make it' because he was born into money. It smelled all over him. He came from wealth and it showed.
"Thank you for the intro, I am indebted to you"
Mahmoud laughed it off and waved his hand but he didn't forgive the debt. They had just concluded a business meeting that yielded a couple of millions and they were excited at it. Mahmoud looked at him suddenly with that faraway look in his eyes.
'You know I wouldn't normally ask but we are as good as brothers. Did you say you saw... that you saw Ada at the Abuja Airport?'
"You know I did?" Gbolahan laughed knowing "the firewood is still burning eh?" He looked at him sympathetically "Did I tell you that she is now born again also?"
"It couldn't go off just like that. I'm sure all I have to do is see her for the fire to start burning in her" Mahmoud said.
"I knew Ada from the age of 16-21 years, I can assure you that born again or not, I can still have her. Her body would not have forgotten about me".
"I'm sorry about everything that happened. Life sometimes happens that way”
Mahmoud sighed and sat down, reminiscing, “It is possible the stars weren't aligned or whatever it is those damned astrologists say, twisted people. My mom would always say, the heart wants what it wants but sometimes it’s not meant to be and she is usually right".
Gbolahan apologised to his friend.
He could have told him that lust was the issue but it was more than that. It was first love for both of them and it had left the both of them deeply wounded. Love, properly defined as a love-attraction, when not properly managed can damage the souls of the ones involved. Ada, being the woman had faced the challenges she would have being the wife of a Hausa man squarely and decided she couldn't go ahead with it.
Whether her parents or Aunts strong armed her, no one knew. All they both knew, Mahmoud and he, was that Ada did her traditional wedding without informing anyone of her best friends at college.
When she returned to college, the day Ada came to inform Mahmoud of her traditional marriage, Mahmoud strong armed her and they had sex. Ada left there crying, sex or no sex, she was still married and it couldn't be annulled because of course she had slept with her husband after the Ngba Ukwu.
Ada had probably gotten over it but Mahmoud never had.
Everything had seemed to be going on fine with their relationship or so Mahmoud said. She had visited home for holidays, and came back married. Her parents apparently took advantage of Mahmoud's naivety. They had done the Igba nkwu and she was married in the eyes of all her family even though the white wedding wasn't done until 6 months later.
She gave birth three months after the wedding. Gbolahan didn't tell Mahmoud about it immediately. Gbolahan became Mahmoud's bodyguard because for that period of 6 months leading to her white wedding, he was lost. He was drunk every night. It was a nightmare for Gbolahan because he had to stay sober and get them back to their apartment every night.
He was afraid Mahmoud would die.
Ironically, when he returned, he switched off from relationships and threw himself into managing his father's company and after a suitable time had passed, he asked his mother to find him a beautiful wife, he got married and that was that.
They had three beautiful boys and he had a resemblance of a life if you couldn't call it happy. Gbolahan worked with him the first six years then he cut him loose and started his own company.
'Will you throw a party and invite her?' Mahmoud looked at him, a carnivorous glint in his eye.
"You must be nuts. No. I won't do that to both of you".
'Her daughter is what, 16 years? I'm not planning mischief. We are close enough to be family'
'Do you think I'm stupid? She’s no family of yours. Even if you suddenly became her husband's best friend, I won't believe you. You guys were too close. The attraction was the stuff that everyone dreams off’
'She won't come to my party, but she will come to yours' Mahmoud continued as if he hadn't heard Gbolahan's answer.
'I am so sorry' he breathed. 'I have a conscience. I won't help you break up anyone's marriage. My mother taught me how to respect covenant'
Mahmoud snorted ' You that breaks covenant with your wife from time to time. Please stop that rubbish and start planning the party"
'I have enough fear for God to not be blatant about it. I am not proud of it. We won't speak of this again'
"No problem. I'll find another way. You know how creative I can be"
He smiled in a sinister way and Gbolahan found himself praying for mercy to sort everything out. He was not even sure he believed in God anymore but as soon as he clashed with something that was more than him, he automatically turned to God. That was weird right? He smiled at Mahmoud and said, "You throw a party, I will come with my family".
Mahmoud looked at him and laughed.
Thursday, 29 May 2014
These words escaped Gbolahan Dada's lips as he walked past the lithe figure of a very beautiful dark haired, light-skinned Nigerian woman. She projected the picture of the 21st century career woman. She was dressed in a white sequinned shirt and a pencil skirt with black pumps and a suitcase bag.
She turned around in the newly renovated Abuja Airport and looking asking at the tall dark, Yoruba male standing before her, who was dressed in a dark blue dashiki shirt and trouser.
She murmured a hesitant "Hello"
She pursed her lips and then her mouth broke into a smile as she flew into Gbolahan's arms.
"Dearest" she whispered the words from perfectly painted lips.
She was a picture of elegance, elegance that spoke of the highest excellence. She had a personality that broadcast to the world 'nothing but the best would do for me'.
They separated but their hands were still linked and slowly swinging back and forth.
"How have you been?" she smiled
"I am doing great, dearest. How have you been? Have you been living under a rock?"
"No. I have actually made quite a mark for myself. You have probably been too busy to notice other people's successes. I see you have done quite well for yourself"
"Likewise" He tried to quell the pride that welled up in him at her words "You cannot be classified as a Lagos big girl or an Abuja big girl; you are somewhere up there in a class of your own"
"We ought to spend some time together, chatting, catching up" still smiling "Would you mind having my card?"
"Definitely" He thought for a while and then said, "I am in Abuja for a couple of days, why don't we meet up?"
"I am catching a connecting flight to Gombe"
He frowned "Gombe? Why Gombe?"
He asked without words what she was going to do in Gombe when everyone was slowly avoiding the North.
"I have to see my husband urgently. He is doing some business in Gombe"
He nods understanding. "I don't have to tell you the north is not safe and it hasn't been safe for a long time; but lately, some things are going down. You shouldn't be there."
"Okay." She smiles. "You have not changed. How is your wife? I always did like her. Warm, giving..."
She trailed off.
"She is doing great. Let's get together when you return to Lagos then, if I am not mistaken, your first flight was from Lagos"
"We have homes in Lagos and Abuja. I hate the impersonal feel of hotel rooms unless I have to use them, too stuffy!"
"You are still as choosy as ever" He hugged her "Let me catch up on business in Abuja"
"Take care and it was good seeing you"
She blinked and then continued on her way to catch her next flight.
She looked back at him, smiled and kept going to her destination.
Gbolahan looked back at her elegant figure and fleetingly considered that the both of them had never mentioned Mahmoud. It was a silent thing, the choice to pretend that Mahmoud, their once dear friend and his still close friend, did not exist.
He let it go and hurried to catch an airport taxi to meet up with his business partner at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
Bright Okopi walked down the street in Surulere heading for his pastor's house. He caught the bus from VI into Costain and then got a bus going into Surulere. The beauty of the sights and sounds of Lagos sank into his spirit. He loved the bridges, the billboards and the energy of the place called Lagos. His friends laughingly called it Las Gidi, the city that never sleeps. It was known as 'Centre of Excellence' by the local government bosses, the governor made the slogan 'Eko o ni baje' popular on the lips of all Lagosians.
Although the current governor had made many doubt their honorary position as Lagosian when he deported certain people, some Hausas and some Ibos. Rumours had it that he was averting war and possible strikes of the deadly Boko Haram sect. His pastor called them cowards because only cowards captured women and children. Only cowards killed defenceless people or killed children in their beds while they were still sleeping.
"Good evening ma" he greeted his pastor's wife as he entered the living room
"How was work, Bright?"
"Fine, thank you, ma." He muttered as he shook the rain off his raincoat and stride into the sitting room.
"He's in your study," she pointed in the direction of his study.
The study was made of wood, carved, beautiful, ornamental wood.
"Good evening sir"
His pastor looked up from his study of the bible "Good evening Bright how was your first week at work? Did you enjoy it?"
"Great. Everywhere and everyone is so beautiful and I am enjoying the orientation. I will be living for Port Harcourt after my second week".
"Hmmm" He nodded
"I had great time learning a lot from my supervisors. The boss came to address the ten of us that were chosen from the recruitment exercise this morning. I like him"
"Remember to cooperate with you bosses and supervisors. It is God's divine organization."
"How do you mean?"
"Any man who is going to make impact in the world and the next must learn to follow God's divine organization?"
"Does that mean that I must do anything my boss says?"
"No, my son. God is God. He wants you to do all things in the fear of the LORD. Give him first position. Remember Joseph"
"Okay sir" he nodded and even though he did not understand it fully, he knew that his pastor was right. His pastor was always about the word.
"So what are we learning today?"
"Authority. The Believers Authority"
"Hmmm. You are a great student. Let us start now and pray afterwards. "
"Repeat after me, this is very important." Bright looked intently at his pastor. "The head of every man is Christ. The head of Christ is God. The head of the woman is the man..."
"The head of every man is Christ..."
Toke Dada wore a bright yellow tank top and white shorts with sneakers. She was watching a movie with her mom. She had the best mom in the world. Her mom made time for her on Friday or Saturday night. They spent it watching a movie and Daddy sometimes joined them.
She looked up at her mom in a white tank top and navy blue shorts with sneakers. They were watching the latest captain America movie. The Ibo mafia were still working. The movie was not out in the United States yet but the Ibo mafia knew how to get those movies once it was out in box office. When they failed her kid cousin, Tunde, had creative fingers.
"Mom, do you know I love you?" she smiled into her mom's eyes.
"Yes dear." Her mom smiled a little preoccupied with the movie. "What prompted that, dear?"
"I was just thinking about you and dad, and how I love you both"
"Hmmm" she smiled knowing her daughter had more to say.
"I noticed that you somehow ignore him lately," she said in a worried voice.
Her mother looked at her alarmed. "Whatever makes you think that?"
"I am a kid" Toke smiled to herself "...but in case you noticed I am also growing up into a beautiful young woman"
"You are one smart chic" she smiled. "I am just a little upset with him"
"Do you think he's cheating?"
"I shouldn't be having such conversations with a 14 year old"
"Hmmm, you're always saying you want me to grow into a responsible adult" she smiled "If I am going to succeed at that, you cannot be shutting me up when I want to clarify things".
Bimbo Dada swallowed and then looked in her daughters eyes, tears sprang in them immediately
"I think so"
Toke nodded emotionless
"What do you want to do about it?"
"I don't understand" Bimbo blinked back the tears. "What do you mean?"
"I have been around you both a number of years to know that Daddy is crazy about you. If some woman is distracting him, you must have left a gap. Daddy does not seem like someone who would enjoy playing a fast one on you. Maybe he's lonely"
"What about me? Look at me here with you on a Saturday night, instead of with him".
"Are you saying, 'I'm boring'?" Toke shrieked in mock offence.
"No. I am just saying I am human too"
"Do you want to be right or do you want to remain married in every sense to my daddy," Toke asked in a very serious voice. "Let me say that I really want you guys to be really married on the outside and on the inside, I am tired of the cold air that has been blowing around".
"I do," she said in a quiet voice.
"Then be present in the marriage, when he wants to talk to you, talk. Drop the grievances of a day on that same day no malice. You are a Christian, remember?"
"Is that blackmail?"
"No mom. I want you to love my dad. I want us to be one big happy family. Please"
"Okay dear. I promise you I will fight for my marriage. I will do my absolute best to keep every promise I have made to God. I promise you, I will forgive your daddy"
Toke launched herself into her mom's arms. She was crying betraying the teenager that she was.
Bimbo Dada held her daughter tight in her arms. This child was her blessing. She had directed her thoughts away from thought of separation to thoughts of love. God help her. She almost gave up. She looks up to the heavens and gave thanks and then murmured
"Father, give me the grace to forgive that man"
As those word left her mouth, she remembered her mom's words and then set out to do God's will for that day with an added prayer that she would remember to do his will tomorrow.
"Father, protect my husband" she said out loud.
"Do you still want to watch the movie?" She said brushing Toke's hair.
Toke shook her head "No mom. Maybe tomorrow. I am just glad being with you."
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN
Friday, 23 May 2014
Tanya Williams walked down the corridor to her office. She had been in the office 2 hours and already she had to do some transactions. 'All in a day's job', she mused.
She slipped off her red pumps and put on her black flat shoes. She was dressed stylishly in champagne coloured trouser suit and a red camisole with a watch and a pair of earrings.
'If she was going to stay on her feet, no need staying for long hours and having cramps that would steal half her sleep' so she thought as she slipped out of the office.
She walked elegantly across the street to the nearest bank. The Nigerian Government changed their minds the way young women changed their outfits.
Today they wanted more banks spread across the nation. The next day, they wanted only banks that had a certain amount of money in their vaults.
Today stealing was corruption; tomorrow stealing was not corruption. It all seemed a little like every Nigerian was a character in the book 'Animal Farm'. It was almost as if life was a game of chess.
"Good morning" she greeted cheerfully as she entered the banking hall.
It was impressive but what she needed more than decor; was quick service delivery. Some banks seemed a little dense when it came to fulfilling their promises. She entered the bank and made her payments in record time. She exited the bank and entered an eatery to take some lunch before reporting to the office.
She entered an eatery and walked straight to the counter.
It was directed at the under paid overworked young lady behind the counter. She was having a terrible morning emotionally. She knew to deliver but handling her soul was a little difficult. Sibling rivalry was getting to her.
The #BringBackOurGirls had succeeded in being noticed but whether it was succeeding in bringing back the girls, she was not quite sure. The news reported three new bombings in Jos and one or two in Kano. She was not quite sure. A popular pastor said on twitter that physical battles were to be fought with physical weapons and spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. She wasn't sure if the government was listening or if they cared. There was no word. All she wanted was for those girls to be released back to their parents.
These were some of the bitter truths of the country called Nigeria. She was far from perfect. A few minutes later, the overworked eatery attendant was free and in front of her.
"What do you want, madam?"
"Hi, I am Tanya, I'd like some fried chicken and rice with a milkshake". She smiled to put the young lady at ease.
The young lady worked as though scared of losing her job each minute. It gave her a subservient attitude and no room to innovate or no hope of a promotion. Life was not meant to be lived like this.
"I would love to invite you for something I think you need"
Life was meant to be savoured.
"Here's the card. It is an outfit that trains and equips young people with skills to get better jobs" The girl collected it hesitantly.
"I would love to see you there on Saturday; it could be a turnaround for you if you would practice what you hear".
Most people thought you were going to hand out money to them at such events. What they didn't realize was that learning to add value was better than just collecting money. If you learned to add value, you would always be able to serve out of choice and not out of fear.
"I will think about it".
Tanya mused about silly answers like that. 'I am not a man and it is not a date, it is a chance to get more skills and give you a chance to make more of what God has gifted you with' she thought to herself.
She wanted to give her some advice but refrained, most people got offended when they got advice from strangers. They were more defensive than willing to learn. That was the story of the life of a growing economy and its peoples.
"Thank you for the excellent service" she said as she took her tray and looked for a seat.
She had learnt from one of her coaches to be kind at all time no matter what. It helped make others have a good day.
She sat and began devouring the meal quickly albeit delicately when her reverie was interrupted by a very confident voice. She was not disappointed when she turned to the source of the interruption.
"I hope you don't mind if I join you"
She groaned inside as she gave the clicked response made popular by Nigerian girls who wanted to be polite.
"It is a free world, you can sit anywhere"
She bit her lip. No break, thank God and no blood. She continued eating.
"Where are you from?" No game, brother!
"I'm Port Harcourt but I grew up in Lagos" She murmured between meals
"I am Subomi Williams and I am a Lagosian" He grinned in a convivial manner.
She warmed to him instinctively "I am Tanya" "I am a business man by choice and a lawyer by profession"
"I am a reporter" she smiled
"I am a collector" he smiled again, "I love art".
"Hmmm" she mused as she bit into her juicy chicken "The only art I know is putting words on my blank MS Word document, that's art". She laughed.
"Let me take you out to dinner" he offered
'Does that actually work in Nigeria' she thought to herself. She smiled warmly and informed him sweetly that she was busy all week.
He laughed loudly.
"I don't do this often, If you need to think about dinner, let me give you my card"
He offered his card as he saw she was about to leave. He stood up before she did his card in his hand, his hand in the air.
She hesitated a second before she collected the card. His contact could come in handy.
She walked out with a flourish and slipped the card into her champagne coloured trouser. She headed for her office, and work.
His handsome face and suave manner stayed somewhere in the recesses of her mind. She probably wasn't going to go out to dinner with him.
Bright Okopi was in a brightly coloured room with his pastor. He was dressed in a suit. His pastor had bought him two pairs of suits at the Above and Beyond in Surulere. They had excellent affordable, quality suits.
"Is this me?"
He was grateful inside of him for this help from his pastor. He grew up in Ajegunle and one of the traits was a deep inferiority complex that developed into hate.
Usually a nasty one that said without words but loud all the same thatt the world owed him or Nigeria owed him for him being poor.
The first time his pastor had confronted him about his attitude, telling him that he did not need to have an inferior complex now that he was in Christ Jesus.
He looked up in surprise and then he had reacted angrily; he burst out of the room and went home vowing never to go back. He had stayed away from church for three weeks rejecting his pastor's calls on his phone every day.
As the days went by, he felt the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit that his pastor was right. His pastor was the shepherd God sent to train and equip him for the life that God has planned for him.
Why was he fighting his blessing?
He cried then. After the crying he got up and went to his pastor's house to apologise for walking off saying that he was back to learn how to be a disciple for Christ.
This was 6 months ago. Now God had blessed him with this job.
He had also blessed him with someone to help him transition.
"Thank you sir" he
sighed and looked up. "Can you remember the journey here, sir? I am not poor anymore and it is thanks to you"
"I am just obeying my call to make disciples" His pastor looked up. "In this Christian, we are soldier and our responsibility is to do what the One who called us has asked us to do. Your happiness is just the overflow".
"I won't forget the please and the thank you and to serve like 'Joseph'"
"Hmmm" His pastor laughed out loud "It is a Father's joy to see that His children are walking in the truth. I am sure that God is gladder than I".
"I will report for work early because I aim to be the best and to add as much value that is demanded and over and above it"
"You cannot go wrong when you serve, my boy" he clasped his shoulders.
"Don't forget all the laws of the kingdom now" Bright nodded "Give your tithes, your offerings, this honours God. Honour your biological parents and your spiritual parents, the spiritual laws work for you".
"I won't sir".
Okopi nodded thinking of how he would avoid his friends' questions of how he was spending his money. He would have to keep that to himself. He packed his shoes into the packages and his two new pairs of suits and shirts.
"Most especially, don't forget to spend time with God daily; that is the only place to get divine energy to live a successful life daily"
This man was more than his pastor. He was a father.
"How will I ever repay you, sir?"
"Don't think about me" He smiled into his eyes. "If you want to make me happy, make other disciples, tell them about the great commission, tell them about Jesus".
"Thank you sir" he hugged him surprising his pastor.
"Come and see me and have lunch with my family and I on Saturday every week" the man held his shoulders "I will put you through anything else you need to know"
He smiled and started heading home. Even though his father could not help him in the financial world, God had sent him a father and for that he was grateful. They may not always agree but time had shown him that he could trust this man who was his shepherd.
"Bye bye ma" he said as he walked out of the house. His pastor's wife was cooking lunch on a gas cooker.
"Bright, are you not staying for lunch?"
"No ma, I start work on Monday, I am too excited to eat"
She smiled understanding, then packed some buns in a black nylon and handed it to him with a bottle of plastic coke.
"Eat that on your way home then." He nodded and collected it "Give my regards to your parents too"
He walked out. Making a decision for Jesus was the best thing he ever did.
Now having mentors, his life was changing just as they promised. He looked up as though a some heavenly being.
"Thank You, LORD"
Wherever God led him, By His grace He would follow, he vowed silently.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Gbolahan Dada slipped through the crowd at a party somewhere in Abuja. He made his way in a black suit to a man seated in traditional Hausa attire. In his head when he saw Hausa's he saw turbaned men who cut people's hands for stealing a goat and married 10 year olds.
Mahmoud wasn't Hausa. Mahmoud was his friend. He was what the contemporary Nigerian called the Northern elite. To Gbolahan, Mahmoud was his friend.
"Mahmoud Abubakar" He hugged him "My brother from another mother".
He belonged to a royal family and had the clout to get him into any social circle in Northern Nigeria. They met at the age of 17 in the United Kingdom. They were college friends and soon grew to become close friends. Mahmoud was now married to a 35-year-old woman with ten-year-old twin boys.
They sat together and exchanges friendly light chats.
They were at a wedding of one of the hosts' daughters. This party was sane; it was a very different kind of the party.
It was different from the parties they had frequented when they were still younger. Alhaji Danjuma or as he was fondly called by the London crowd, 'Musa' was a party animal. His parties were characterised by acts that dehumanised humans, men, women and children alike. He had no limits. The orgies he threw by night had nothing to do with Sharia law which he supported by day. You would think he would give up youthful lusts but on the grapevine, he still heard things that suggested that he had not given up his penchant for such parties.
As much as his conscience had seared in many areas, he was not comfortable participating in the destruction of human beings. What these two eyes had seen, his wife would never know.
As an adult, He had to run away from some of the parties organised by Danjuma, after a while he simply stopped doing business with the man. Until Mahmoud rescued him from the dilemma of doing business with Musa, It was not worth losing his soul.
Only Mahmoud knew how much of a Christian he was that being at such parties bothered him.
He wondered how much of a Christian he still was. He still went to church. He just did not talk to God any longer. The guilt would not let him be. His mother could not drive away his nightmares anymore. He was a big boy now.
"We have seen great days together, some connections are divine"
He remembered the days when Mahmoud and Ada were part of their trio. The trio had schooled abroad and sowed a couple of wild oats but nothing as risqué as what was going on in northern exclusive parties set in London.
Ada and Mahmoud were into each other all through college but it had all fizzled out when Ada returned to school in her final year saying: 'Emeka has carried my palm wine, we have to stop'.
Mahmoud lost his temper and tried to convince
her otherwise. That day changed everything for all of them.
Whether he raped her, whether she gave in to their shared passion, no one would ever know.
All he knows was that he came home an hour too late and Ada was leaving teary eyed. She never said anything but her eyes said it all. Their connection was broken just like that.
The relationship shut down. He never asked Mahmoud what happened.
It went to the grave many relationships of people from different tribe go. Ada's father would never have accepted Mahmoud. They have an Uncle who died in the Nigerian civil war. It ended abruptly
"Mahmoud, this life we live, is it enough?"
"How do you mean? Our job is to provide for our families and do the best we can to love them. That is our destiny; we don't need any other".
"Hmmm, you won't understand. I just know that I am not satisfied; the more I get, the more I want".
"My friend, Gbolahan, stop bothering yourself about things that don't matter".
The burden left him and they went on to enjoy the party.
Ada Okonkwo sat across the bay in a purple canopy. She was having a drink of orange juice. She was dressed in grey slacks and white jackets. She was having a meeting with one of her old friends from college days. She was 39 years old and successful in all areas. She had never worked a day in her life.
Her college days were bittter sweet, she was not sure how many relationships she made that added value to her life. College was all about having fun and enjoying her life with family and friends. She had never been good at relationships and now she didn't bother. All she needed was to make goals and meet them and rejoice at her success. She wasn't too sure how that was going. All she knew was that these days the dissatisfaction was killing her.
She wanted sometime more to fill the vacuum inside her.
She belonged to charities because her younger sister insisted on adding her names to every charity that cropped up in Nigeria. She was married to one of the wealthiest eastern men in Nigeria. He had family in politics but had no intentions of ever been in politics. She had three beautiful children and managed to not lose her figure or self esteem.
Unfortunately her zest for life was gone.
She wasn't the kind of woman who had affairs, it was just something about her principles.
Her Yoruba friend, Doyin had suggested she have an affair on one of her many trips abroad, she immediately felt distaste for the woman. She was woman enough to not want to revenge just because her husband did.
She looked down and saw his name on the screen of her silenced HTC phone.
She listened to his voice on the other end, her mind on the convo but her body disconnected from the conversation.
All these years and her husband still couldn't place her moods. He either didn't know or didn't care. She didn't know which was worse.
She looked over the people scattered at different small umbrella canopies. Anyone of them if not all were probably envying her at the moment. She envied them their freedom.
"Okay sir. I love you too"
In the public, everyone saw them as a perfect couple. They were almost that, he had never laid a hand on her, she could give him the credit that. He just never respected her as someone with a brain. He treated her like a kid. His verbal abuse was out of this world. When she was receiving verbal onslaughts in private, it erased the power of any praise he gave her at the public events and global meetings they attended.
She was complicated. She wanted more than he was willing to offer.
To him, she was his beautiful treasure, a trophy wife whether she wanted to be or not. She was a trained medical doctor but was condemned to never practising.
"Tade, book a flight to Gombe for me" she spoke authoritatively into the phone. "I need to see my husband"
"Thank you" She whispered into the phone.
She called home and asked Lara to pack her luggage ready and prepare someone to care for the property while she was in Gombe for two weeks. She asked her to take a break while she was away in Gombe. She was tired of all the charities for once.
Her numerous pharmacies were successful and located all over the country in choice location. They had qualified pharmacists in place to running them.
Maybe she needed a new hobby, something that would add life and meaning; she needed purpose but her husband was too blind to see.
Well she was done. She was the kind of person that could trade all this wealth for some money and a fulfilled life. She needed to find something to spend all her pent up energy on; she needed work.
"Are the tickets ready?" she asked in a satisfied voice as she picked up her once again ringing phone
"No, don't bother about that, I will pick them up at the airport for 7 pm, thank you"
Somewhere on the other side of town, someone's life is changing forever. Bright Okopi is jumping up and down like an 8-year-old.
He has received the job that would metaphorically bail his family out of poverty.
He has no thoughts just yet, he is just happy that his dreams are finally picking up.
He just got the call. He made it.
He was to report for Monday, look in on Human Resources and then head to Port Harcourt for training.
He fell down on the chair and immediately called his pastor.
"Hello sir, I made the cut" he screamed into phone "I got the job, God really is good"
His pastor laughed on the other end. "Walk with God and He will show you His wonders, this is just the beginning"
"Yes sir" he laughed "sir I've never had a job. Can I come for some coaching on how to comport myself?"
His pastor paused then said, "You can come on Saturday, I'll teach you some principles on how to be the Joseph in your office, you'll soon be pleasing both God and your boss".
"Remember the giver of promotions is God and He gives to confirm the covenant He had with Abraham. Honour Him with you, your life and all that you have".
"Yes sir, I'll do that".
He cut the phone and ran to find his mother at the kitchen behind the house to inform her of the goodness he had just received.
"God, I am rich, I can finally say I am rich" he murmured as he went "this goodness is a confirmation of the covenant you have with Abraham; I recognise You as God, I am your people. I belong to you"
He looked up into the sky then dashed out to inform Mama Bright of their good fortune.
Maybe his dad would finally go to church.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN