Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day in Lagos

A man sleeps in the doorway of a shop; policemen patrol the yaba area; 2 Northerners find simple pleasure in posing for a Christmas day picture.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of December 21, 2008

Zero Tolerance

I’m not certain about the feelings the Governor of Lagos State evokes in the average law-breaker (which used to include half of the citizens of the state). Prior to him, most things went, most laws could be manipulated, could be side-stepped. If you felt like using the Marina as a toilet in broad daylight, in full view of all the expatriates and potential foreign holiday makers we keep trying to make tourists, you could. It was a captivating scenario to behold each morning. Row upon row of men, crouched low and engaged in their morning toilet, cigarette dangling from one corner of the month, rumpled newspaper in hand doubling as a fly-whisk and as toilet paper, but all that has come to an end now. He’s grown flowers there and his commissioner for tourism has placed a large boat at the end of the Marina, which they say is a hotel and restaurant. All of a sudden, there’s a man with an army on the streets, pulling down illegal structures, arresting people for driving down the wrong end of one-way streets, a ‘minor’ offence in previous times and horror of horrors, these law enforcement agents are asking for proof of tax payment. Yes, his internal revenue officials now roam the streets. There are residents of the state who are afraid if they go home for their holidays, they won’t be able to come back because Raji Fashola’s men will be stationed at the borders asking for tax returns. Just as an aside, that’s can’t happen, particularly in a state governed by a lawyer turned politician because there would be fewer acts more xenophobic in the history of Nigeria. Still, those who are afraid won’t be reading this newspaper. However, his ‘armoured’ vehicles proclaim the legend, ‘Zero Tolerance’ and it appears he is determined not to tolerate the nonsense that once reigned supreme in this city.

Personally, I am awed by the determination of this man and even though I am one of the ‘law breakers’ he has forcefully converted (I own a 750 cc Suzuki motorcycle, which you know as ‘Power Bike’ in lay terms), he has forced me to obtain a ‘rider’s card’, some form of licence with a personal registration number that permits me to ride a motorcycle and a ‘road worthiness certificate’ to prove my motorcycle is not a heap of scrap held together by wire. Which brings me to ‘Fashola’s army’ that’s in charge of enforcing these laws. The guys who issued the licence on Lagos Island are okay, but those he has put on the streets to enforce the possession of these things are some of the most clueless people on the face of the planet. They ask for the strangest things, hackney permits, local government stickers on private bikes, just the same way the maniacs from the local government offices used to try to ‘arrest’ you for changing lanes in traffic. I was chased once while I rode down a quiet road by a rabid man in a fluorescent green bib with painted-on words I didn’t bother to try to read, his only identification as a ‘government’ official. Hazy offences, manic enforcers; great laws, disturbed enforcers. The governor needs to add more enlightened men to the ranks of his enforcers.

Zero tolerance- Could you run a relationship with a partner that way? Give no room for mistakes, for errors in judgement? You catch her giving an admiring look to a sculpted guy whose muscles ripple under his shirt and you’re forced to unobtrusively try to hold in your own stomach. Upon your return home, you announce to her, ‘It’s all over. I saw the look that you gave him’. Zero Tolerance. You see she holds your good-looking, rich new friend’s hand for too long after a hand shake and you fiercely whisper into her ear even before the party’s over that it’s not going to continue between you two, because you can’t take her lascivious ways. Zero Tolerance. It’s a good thing relationships aren’t like the government’s laws. If they were, there’d be none left standing. The only way a government can get its business right is to be determined to enforce its laws at whatever cost. Pull down illegally constructed houses (Remember El-Rufai in Abuja), arrest military personnel that beat up a young female for not getting out of the way of their screaming cars on time, and apprehend army officers driving down the wrong end of a one-way street. I saw a picture of Fashola lecturing a sheepish-looking soldier once who had decided to take a shortcut because he was one of the untouchables. Yeah, maybe you could do that before the entrance of Fash The Cash as governor. Fashola’s busy repairing Lagos and he’s raising the money to do so anyhow he can. So all those who used to think obeying laws was only for when holidaying in the cities of Europe should be afraid. Be very afraid.

On the other hand, a personal relationship cannot survive on Zero Tolerance.

You cannot have a relationship in which you are not bending to accommodate your partner. Note that the operative word is ‘bend’ not ‘break’. Human beings differ, one from another, and the one sure thing in life is that your partner will err. You will consider some acts by your ‘dream partner’ as unacceptable and worthy of a relationship review, but you must think again. If you wanted to date the perfect person, you should have made a clone of yourself... or married your sister.

Now you see where I’m going. Sometimes, our rigidity does not allow us fully appreciate the beauty others can add to our lives. If we only give room for the fallibility of human nature, many relationships would be better. It’s often wiser to have done your ‘screening’ of your potential partner well before the relationship starts, and not halfway into the affair when your change to a sudden zero tolerance stance is inexplicable.

Remember, a personal relation is different from that of a government and its recalcitrant citizens. Love really does conquer all. Amor Vincit Omar.


I drove into the Redemption Camp today, almost a decade after the last time I was there. The changes were enormous, sprawling edifices everywhere and accommodation for church workers and apparently any others the authorities see fit.

The planning is impressive and shows foresight. And it creates the impression of a city within a city, a place with its own government, far away from the anarchy that sweeps across urban centres like Lagos from time to time.

These houses among others, caught my attention but there were many other well-constructed places that weren't as expansive.

Outside the green house which reportedly is the accommodation of the General Over-seer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, but which is still uninhabited, I noticed a female who appeared deep in prayer or meditation. As I drove back fifteen minutes later, she was still there, still concentrating, lips moving just outside the deserted house and it crossed my mind she was trying to reach her Creator in some way and felt that would be a good place to meet with Him.

And I remembered a story I heard thirteen years ago, of a woman who desperately wanted a baby, and wrote a letter to God. She didn't post it, but waited for a programme she knew Adeboye would attend and then slipped the letter under the door. Her theory- God would be where Adeboye was. Apparently, the letter was delivered because she was reported to have had the baby.

My name is laspapi and I make bold to say there are a number of 'church' leaders I contend are frauds. But I believe Enoch Adejare Adeboye even though I am not a member of his church. And this country would be a better place if there were more like him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Took photos with my phone as I drove down to the office. Top pic shows the only structure left on the formerly crowded and claustrophobic space that once housed the Tejuosho market at Yaba. The 'Iyaloja' or female head of the traders stakes her claim on the new edifice she believes will rise up there again.

Pic 2 is a driving school's vehicle in the Casino Cinema, Yaba, area. Some of the vehicles used for potential drivers are really no different from this forgotten heap.

Pic 3- an alternative means of travel on the busy streets of Lagos. Laspapi owns a bicycle and motorcycle too.

Pic 4- a new approach to advertising Church programmes. This pedestrian acts as a living billboard as hundreds of his church members probably do. I wondered at perspectives and backgrounds as I studied him. I know I would never wear this to advertise a church. But why not? My education? My station in life?

Pic 5- A plastic skeleton on the Ojuelegba road tells of what awaits in its owner's shop.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of December 14

Memories of another Day

I’m sitting up in bed, lap-top open, half-watching the muted television screen showing the Sky News broadcast and my all-time favourite news caster, Eamonn Holmes,a man who seems to exude pleasantness even though I have never met him outside a television tube. Today, my thoughts drift into the distant past and how things used to be. The greatest relationships were those that had no intimacy issues, no sexual undertones, and half of the satisfaction was just being able to say with pride that a certain person was your beau.

I spent a lot of my holidays in the staff quarters of the University of Lagos when I was in my pre and early teen s and so became friends with a lot of the kids growing up there at that time. I also seemed to have massive crushes on all those lovely story-book girls that lived there, and today a smile crosses my lips as my thoughts dwell on each one.

There was Ekaetté who stayed next door to our relatives there and was my first ‘girlfriend’. The manner of our ‘love’ for this then-twelve year old was such that I would get full like a person who’d just had a large meal just from watching her walk past. There were the sisters, Yemi and lola (Yemi, I hear, lives somewhere on the island now) Yinka, Mopé who became an engineer and the lovely iféchukwu and her equally beautiful sisters. Iféchukwu’s father would answer the phone in a deep bass voice, announcing his surname in two syllables. It took a secure youth not to hang up the phone after that voice. There were the sisters, Bunmi and Taiwo, Bunmi is a corporate big-shot now according to the newspapers, the snazzy Uzo who didn’t really stay on campus but was a great friend of those who did, and Tola, the student of Queen’s College who was my ‘school mother’. I thought Tola was the most beautiful school-mother in existence. I wonder where she is now and what she’s doing.

Those were the glory days of love, friendship totally without guile and lacking any ulterior motives. For me, those friendships were genuine as were the professions of ‘love’. When I consider the subterfuge and manipulations of ‘grown-up’ love, the plotting and subversions, I long for the days when the grass smelt green and your friend really was one in word and in deed. Now, as in all other areas of life, these kids are scattered across many continents, some bracing for the harmattan winds, and others against the bitter cold of winter. Adulthood is funny, the time when you can make rational decisions for yourself, and more importantly, stand by those decisions. The environments we often create as a result of our adult decisions however are often ones that leave us in the bleak states we are forced to inhabit, states where we are forced to endure a lack of genuine love and friendship. Maybe it really is true then, that everything we needed to learn, we learnt in kindergarten. I cannot call to mind many friendships that are truer than those I found in my teens. It may be that the template is one that is developed at a very young age and as we grow older, our newer experiences make us forget we once knew the magic formula. Now I remember John Borough’s verse- ‘To his sorrow he learnt this truth, you may return to the place of your birth, you cannot return to your youth’.

I recall the problems that video cassette recorders caused by coming in two forms, VHS and Betamax tapes, and how VHS gradually won the war, bit by bit, step by step. And now with a wry smile, I remember that even these are long gone, assigned to the dusty heap of obsolete inventions, replaced by the DVD, and there is now an entire generation that never experienced the VHS.

In the corridors of my mind, I walk across the grassy lawns of the road that was known as Eni Njoku and then renamed Oritshejolomi Thomas. I stroll down the lonely, tree-lined roads that lead past the house of the quiet Orode, and come across that beautiful child known as Tayo, Yinka’s sister. There are many memories on these roads as I walk; the winged termites that would fly against the golden street lamps that illuminated the night streets, the click-clacking of the legs of crabs on tarmac as they came out of the marshy woods and marched down to some nameless destination. I remember watching the James Bond movie, ‘Diamonds are forever’ in the quiet, dark theatres of the University, and the long walk with my cousins back to their home.

One of the greatest things parents can do for their children is to help them have great childhoods through keeping friends that are true. As children, there was little or no wickedness in the things we spoke about and did. Sometimes in my mind now, when I come in contact with road rage, malice, rumour-mongering or some other form of ‘adulthood’, I make myself immune to these external onslaught by creating a shield that is woven out of memory. I remember the times we would sit by the lagoon and look out at the placid waters, and talk and make plans for a future we believed would be ours for the taking. I remember the comic books, ‘Buster’ and ‘Battle’ and ‘Crunch’, ‘Roy of the Rovers’, ‘Tiger’ and ‘2000AD’, and I know I will never stop smiling. Adults must never taint the lives of children by intruding in this period of development, where character is forged.

I may never be able to return, physically, to those great days, but I can sit and reflect and muse on the beauty of days long gone, and promise myself, that my children will have at least as much beauty as I found in my childhood and much more, if the Lord allows.

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of December 7, 2008

The Bluffer’s Guide to Romance

Years ago, I came across a series of books on bluffing. There were titles like ‘Bluff your way through journalism’, ‘...through literature’, ‘...through publishing’ and a few others. It struck me then, how many people go through many aspects of life, bluffing and calling bluffs. There are many synonyms for the word, ‘bluff’. They include ‘trick’, ‘con’, ‘fake it’, ‘deceive’, ‘lie’, and ‘pass off’. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll use ‘pass off’ as our alternative to bluffing.

In the Whisperer’s ‘days of thunder’, he pursued a female we’ll call ‘Short Wave’ or SW. He would drive across half the country if she beckoned, totally devoted to all her whims and caprices. This devotion on the Whisperer’s part brought about a remarkable turn of events. SW, the object of the Whisperer’s undivided attention, wasn’t particularly grateful for all the devotion. Time after time, she showed how little weight she attached to the affection she received. Once, after a particularly blatant show of disrespect by SW in which she had been asking after another man she admired in the presence of this writer who-was-not-yet-a-Whisperer, SW turned to him and said, ‘Women don’t like men who are too enthusiastic’. And thus, a phenomenon was born. There is nothing wrong with loving a man or a woman to the death, the problem is ensuring that love and affection is not taken for granted. Thereafter, the Whisperer, a quick learner even then, learnt a life-saving skill and SW learnt from the Whisperer she wasn’t a living goddess after all.

People, as a rule, rarely appreciate what is given to them on a platter and what they do not have to fight or pay a price for. Free tickets to shows are not as well appreciated as tickets paid for. A person who rarely falls ill (the Whisperer is in this category) does not appreciate good health as much as a person who wears the smell of hospital disinfectant like some others do perfume. The person who stays slim no matter what she eats, never fully understanding the joys of this as much as she who has to fight for every kilogram she sheds.

The people you meet on the romantic level and often, in other spheres of life are in some way playing a game with you. If you’re one of those who take life as a tragedy, here’s where your ears begin to emit smoke. But a game it is, no matter how you look at it. The would-be employer who tells you you’re free to answer your ringing phone in a job interview, the boss who wants to see how you react under pressure by not reining in a rude subordinate.

At every point in your life, there are bluffers all around you. The vendor at the market who gives a fantastic price for the product you so desperately need. Your need must never be apparent. And as in all cases of calling a bluff, you must be able to walk away no matter how painful it might be for you.

In romance and love scenarios, there are few people who totally appreciate partners who are so dedicated to them or seem to have no lives outside their partners. You must love your partner, it is true, but you must never forsake building your own life and improving on the things that make you whole, because of another. You, as a person, must be as totally free of hang-ups as much as possible so you can be of benefit to others. ‘He completes me’ is not the stuff of enduring romance.

The Bluffer is the person you meet, who is totally smitten by you upon the first meeting but refuses to show anything. You might be allowed to see a bit of it, but that will just be enough to show the promise of what lies beneath, not reveal that person as one capable of becoming a blubbering idiot because you are in the same room. Bluffers win all the time in issues of romance. When the Whisperer was taking a Masters degree at the University of Lagos, a beautiful undergraduate he had long admired and whom we shall call ‘Thanks-giver’ walked up to him and in the middle of the conversation, uttered the legend, ‘I have no boyfriend’. This was as direct as anything the Whisperer had ever heard. Yet even with the direct admission and ‘green light’ as the more pedestrian like to call it, there was nothing cloying about the Thanks-giver. She was as bright as she was beautiful and she never gave room for her feelings to be abused. You must have the ability to walk away from a bluffer. Not walking away for five or ten days, but walking away for all time if you recognise your feelings are being abused.

The Whisperer totally appreciates Aesop’s fable about the fox that couldn’t reach the delicious-looking grapes on a tree and decided they had to be sour. You must be able to call a bluff, wearing the look of a player in a game of poker. Like the song goes, you must ‘know when to walk away, know when to run’. Or when to hide your thoughts. The Whisperer bought a generator off a very beautiful young woman on Victoria Island very recently, neither having met or spoken before the actual purchase. The first impression was one of startling good looks and he looked at her well (the female form is of great interest to the Whisperer), head to toe, eyebrows to forearms to calves. And then the hood came over the eyes. It must always be standard operating procedure, to bluff, or call one.

Bluffers go far, and you will too, if you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of Nov 30, 2008

The Time Machine

Music is the closest thing we have to time travel. Sometimes, as we walk down a quiet road and hear the soft strains of a song we once knew, we are transported to another dimension, visible to those around us, but mind, heart, spirit are gone elsewhere, to the place where we first heard that song or where it first made its impact.

For me, there are many; there’s the Boys II Men song, ‘End of the Road’, which transports me back to the end of my youth service year in Akwa Ibom State and the young nice girl, Victoria, I knew there. Daughter of a Minister (of the gospel, in this case), she was a delightful person to be friends with. ‘End Of The Road’ was a song played at the farewell party organized for our set of Corp members that were finally leaving the state, a song that played as I danced with Victoria, leaving the world behind.

Oleta Adams’ ‘Get here if you can’ provides one of my saddest memories. It is that of the girl who had to leave me, when she relocated to another continent many years ago. Gabrielle’s ‘Dreams’ reminds me of the same girl, it was a song she loved very much and more than a decade after, I would still rather not listen to these two songs.

There’s the Jim Reeves song, ‘ This world is not my home’, which reminds me of my father on quiet Saturday mornings as I grew up, as I’m sure it reminds half the world of theirs, and ‘The Jamaican Farewell’ which recalls my sister, Bande when I was still a teenager and how she would painstakingly go over every line so I could get it right.

There’s ‘walk on by’ by Dionne Warwick, an all time favourite because it reminds me of one of the most beautiful spirits I ever met, Kemi; truly a sad song, but there was nothing sad about her. I first heard the song at her home and would request for it each time I visited. Years later, I would watch a programme that would declare it the ultimate heart-break song.

Then there is Shaggy’s ‘Angel’, a song that never fails to transport me to Gypsy Hill, home of my friend and brother, Edmund, who stood by me many years ago as a stranger in a strange land.

Today, I am transported back to my first day at the university because I remember two songs, Whitney Houston’s ‘All at once’ and ‘Saving all my Love for you’. It was October, I’d been admitted to study law and resumption was meant to be the next day but I couldn’t wait any longer and boarded transportation from Lagos to ‘Great Ifè’. It was night when I got there and a fellow I met at the disembarkation point in the school informed me that ‘Angola Hall’, home to new students, wouldn’t be open till the next day. He as well as his classmates had to be in school because of their practical classes. This fourth-year student of Agricultural Science, whose name or face I can no longer recall, led me with my large suitcase through the grassy fields of the sports centre, down and out of a little valley that separated Adekunlé Fajuyi Hall from the sports centre, and to the room he and his other colleagues had been stationed in. I wondered at the marvellous architecture as we trudged on, for indeed, Great Ifè is a beautiful school. As we walked past a few people playing and watching a table tennis game, a short lad broke away and danced around me, laughing at the fact that I was new in school. It was good, clean fun and even though I was very self-conscious, I was glad I was a student of the school. I never let a year go past after that, without ambushing self-conscious new students and making fun of them. Rites of passage.

That night, I sat in the midst of my new friends, all fourth-year students and watched quietly as they went about their businesses. After a while, I stepped out onto the corridor to stretch my legs and looked up to see Bomá Iruenè, my childhood friend and next door neighbour at my father’s, walking towards me. It was wonderful to see a familiar face in such unfamiliar surroundings. He, now a 2nd year student of International relations, told me he and another childhood friend of ours, Dokun , a 2nd year Political Science student, had ‘occupied’ an empty room (student patois for breaking into a room)and would be there until they could sort out their accommodation for the new year. Along came Dokun and we laughed and talked. We hadn’t seen each other in two to three years before that but we were not strangers. I thanked the fellows that had saved me at the bus-stop and given me the free use of their room and then followed Dokun and Bomá out. They showed me the school and then we went for a meal. Those who knew the ‘new bukateria’ where one could easily get food in those days would know how thickly over-grown the bushes that surrounded it could be after the long holidays. We got lost somewhere in the dark bushes that looked like a horror-movie set; big, burly Dokun shouting, ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic’ at Bomá and then himself, taking off like a hunted buck. We finally made it back to civilization, laughing at ourselves.

That night, as I lay in the dark room on the bed Dokun and Bomá had found for me, I listened to the sounds of the school, other people murmuring as they in turn prepared to lie down, listened to the rhythmic breathing of Dokun and Boma now long asleep and heard the voice of Whitney Houston from the music box in the room, sing quietly the songs, ‘All at once’ and ‘Saving all my love’. It was a new phase in my life, a new beginning, and my first day at University, an end to so many worries, and my heart was full. I still sit quietly when I hear these songs, taken back in time to that new beginning.

I wish you new beginnings that will lift you to higher and safer ground. And I wish you songs that will bring to mind many happy times, and loving people to share those happy times with.

presents live on stage,

Wole Soyinka’s

Death and The King’s Horseman

Every Sunday in December 2008

Written by Wole Soyinka
Directed by Wole Oguntokun

Venue- Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island
Time- 3pm and 6pm
Tickets – N2000

Produced By Wole Oguntokun

A Terra Kulture and Jason Media Production

For Tickets and Enquiries, please call 0702 836 7228, 0808 123 9477 or e-mail

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of Nov 23


The Whisperer is in the process of directing Wole Soyinka’s timeless stage comedy, ‘The Lion and The Jewel’, and he remains perpetually in awe of the mastery of Soyinka over the craft of playwriting. But the thrust of this piece is the wiliness of the old fox in the play, the acclaimed ‘Panther of the trees’ and ‘Fox of the undergrowth’; the man known as Baroka, who entraps a young village belle, Sidi, who on her part is famed for having more than her fair share of vanity than anything else.

The sixty-two year old Baroka has a rival in the beginning for Sidi’s affections in Lakunle the school teacher , who in his naive way seeks Sidi’s love in a very genteel way. In the end, age wins the prize and Sidi becomes another adornment on Baroka’s mantelpiece.

The Whisperer, in moments when he is not pondering the genius that propelled such a gifted play wonders about the relationships between the world’s many Barokas and Sidis. The legendary Paul McCartney, who made his name (and an incredible fortune) as a member of the Beatles, met a woman decades younger than him and ended up marrying her. That turned out badly in the end, the marriage ending up in the divorce court and the lady in question seeking half his fortune among other things. Then there’s Hugh Hefner, Lord of the Playboy mansion and playboy bunnies he’s three decades and more, older than; a true Western Baroka , if ever there was one.

Let’s lay the premise right in this matter. What is it about men that makes them ‘change to newer models’ of women, the older they get? This trait has disgusted women from the beginning of time, and many find it incomprehensible that many men approaching dotage suddenly find ‘love’ and satisfaction in women thirty and forty years younger, abandoning their wives and partners of many years and seeking warmth and body heat in younger bodies. If I recall aright, there was a story somewhere that the sage, Mahatma Ghandi, when he was alive, would lie next to pretty young girls through the night in his old age, as a test (or proof) of his ability to overcome lust and temptation. I don’t need to lie next to anyone to tell them what the outcome of that would be.

There are many who say that young women who find much older men attractive are gold-diggers and are only interested in monetary returns. That may be true, but people are usually after one thing or the other in relationships. Still with reference to ‘The Lion and The Jewel’, Baroka was no ordinary man. He was highly intelligent, possessed a kind of rusty charm and was as cunning as men come. He laid a systematic plan to beguile Sidi and it worked brilliantly.

We cannot doubt that a lot of older men or ‘powerful sexy grey’ as I once saw it nicely put in an article, have a lot of appeal for young females. For one, they are usually not given to ‘drama’ or uncontrollable emotions. They will not threaten to hang themselves by the neck or take sleeping pills over-doses because the girl is threatening to leave. Often, they are more self-assured and financially comfortable and life’s experiences have mellowed them the same way it adds zing to fine wine. They are more patient, often much kinder and seem to take everything in their stride.

The younger girl is often mesmerized by this man who is able to relate with them on all fronts (apart from maybe, the night club scene). Oddly enough, many older men can actually relate with younger girls on just about every topic under the earth. The girl is often taken in by the sense of self-worth and the ability of the older man to meet her financial needs is a great advantage.

The Whisperer’s point? It is not every relationship between the old and the young that must have an angle or one of the parties seeking an advantage. Sometimes it’s just plain love. Please note that the Whisperer is not encouraging men who trade-in ‘older’ models for newer ones. I am particular about instances when both parties are free of all encumbrances and genuinely decide they want to be with each other.

As an aside, I was listening to a radio station as I drove through the streets of Lagos the other day and heard someone phone in to a programme on the station to complain about an altercation he had with an Indian as they both drove on the streets of Lagos. The show presenter on some community programme mimicked an Indian accent as the caller vented his annoyance and both went on and on about ‘people abusing me in my country’ and other such gibberish. Our politicians and governments abuse us so much and in so many ways, we should be deadened to external abuse now. Driving down the Mile2 road to the Lagos State University at night, one of the most dangerous roads in the country because of the menace of bandits at any time whether day or night, is enough abuse by any government. Politicians who loot the treasury and are treated as heroes show another form of abuse. The crux of the matter was that the caller and the called were so xenophobic, it made my stomach turn. Nigerians are known as a very accommodating lot, and so a presenter on a public station sowing seeds of hate was appalling.

I would hate to be in a country where their radio show hosts mimicked African accents and treated outsiders as unwelcome. It showed a distinct lack of sensitivity by these parties. It is also quite possible that the Indian in issue is Nigerian by birth or naturalization. We’ve come that far in the world now. If that kind of conversation took place in the ‘developed’ world, there’d probably be a sacking except it was on a station owned by the British Nationalist Party or the Ku Klux Klan. The singular fact that there was no outcry shows we’re still a long way off from where we should be in some things that matter.

So back to my point. The next time you see a Lion in pursuit of a Jewel, remember you might be witnessing genuine love, each side giving to the other, something they cannot find elsewhere. Sometimes motives are pure and it is a meeting of two philosophies- ‘If age could; if youth knew’.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WANTED - Governor Raji Fashola for causing Grievous Bodily Harm, Attempted Murder etc

Was driving to Victoria Island on the morning of the 2nd of November when I saw this. The driver of the van had run off the road into a large ditch 'created' by the government's construction workers. The problem is not in the 'cutting' of Lagos roads as former Governor Tinubu's billboards used to creatively describe the act; it is in the lack of warning signs and street lights at night in Lagos.

Lagos drivers move at night with full beams on and add any extras they can find because the death traps that masquerade as roads are ill-lit (while of course blinding other road users in the process). I have driven down an Ikorodu Road that was a black as soot, done the same on the 3rd Mainland Bridge, while praying, hoping...

A few days ago, an officer of the Federal Road Safety Corp stopped laspapi and said it was an offence to have fog lights on your car (a jeep in this case) because the car's lights were already powerful enough etc etc I didn't get the ticket because I told him (with a staight face) that I didn't drive the car at night and I had no idea about the law which bans car lights that can save your life.

Fashola is one of my favourite all-time governors but he's responsible for situations like this.

By the way, Lagos had trams way back in 1906 and we still haven't been able to duplicate it in 2008. Time for us to get a move on, Guv...

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of November 9, 2008

Yes, We can!

It’s 5am now and I am watching what has delayed the writing of this article, play out before my very eyes. I am half-seated, half lying, watching the television screen, watching one of the greatest things I will ever see, unfold. An African-American has become President-elect of the United States. In the primaries, I was in support of Hilary Clinton, primarily because she was wife to the ultimate come-back kid, Bill, and I wondered if the smooth-talking, charismatic Obama could lead the Democrats to the Promised Land.

There were many things that appeared to be disadvantageous to Barack Obama. The most obvious was that he wasn’t white. Another was that he had a Kenyan father (and family scattered around hinterland Kenya). His Kenyan grand-mother looked just like any regular African grandmother (Africans will get that) and he wasn’t very experienced at the foreign policy level. I seriously doubted if mainstream America would take him for what he was. His defeat of Hilary Clinton made me sit up. America truly is a strange land and we all have a lot to learn from the people of that country. In my state of origin, Oyo, a half-Ghanaian would have a hard time convincing people he should be governor.

Back on the television, I can see the Rev. Jesse Jackson crying silently, he who marched alongside Martin Luther King and ran for the position of President of the United States himself. He weeps for joy and for the fact that his fellow Americans have done the impossible. I can see the talk-show host, Oprah Winfrey, crying softly too and I am listening to the Senator John McCain who fought a long, hard and bitter fight, accept his defeat in a manner so graceful, I cannot believe it is the same man who was once Obama’s opponent. I know this is a moment that will be with me forever. McCain’s most striking words, ‘America has decided.’

I can see Barack Obama walking to the podium to give his acceptance speech, his wife and two daughters beside him, and now I truly believe the phrase, ‘Yes, we can!’
I hear him give the example of a 106-year old woman who endured the elements to stand in line for hours so as to cast her vote in Atlanta, a woman who was born just after the days of slavery and who has seen America evolve into what it has become now. And I hear Obama ask, ‘what will our children think of how far we have come in another one-hundred years?’ Not many people will have the answer to that, but one thing is certain; the process has started. Americans, despite their diversity, the medley of races and tribes have shown why they are known as the United States.

They have come together to choose a candidate, confirming that democracy still works and it is a thing of great beauty. The choice is clear and unequivocal. It is loud and resonant and it is one name that sounds over and over again, the name of Barack Obama.

Today, I am lifted above the mundane, taken to a level that shows me the entire world through new eyes and I have learnt a very major lesson with the minimum amount of fuss; the majority of people will do what is right when it matters the most, if you let them.

This moment in history for me is not just about African-Americans over-coming hardship and prejudices, for white men also marched alongside Martin Luther King and fought for the abolition of second-class citizenship on behalf of the African-Americans. The old, the young, new voters, liberals, Hispanics, formerly apathetic African-Americans, whites, blacks, all rose to accept and elect him; it is a victory for the world, for humanity, a victory that shows us we have come a long way from the back-waters we once nestled in. There are many countries in the world where such a feat would have appeared impossible a few days ago. Not so anymore. With this victory, the world’s peoples are lifted higher and nothing seems unattainable now.
It is a victory that makes me feel proud to be human, that lifts my spirits high and shores up my belief that there are truly no limits to what one can do, if you believe. This is about the American people becoming one entity and showing the world the way to go. It shows we have the innate ability to rise above pettiness and prejudices and be all we are meant to be.

What we can take from this? There is a core of greatness, of elevation above meanness, in all of us that we can latch onto; a core that can take us above prejudices and lead us to a point where we can become better people.

There are things that are more important than colour, creed and tribal differences. There are life-changing choices we will be faced with, that should not be hinged on mundane factors but on all that is decent and just. Today, in accepting his election, Obama reached out even to those who did not support him and asked to be their President too. The world became a very different place today, and it is a truly obtuse person who will see this election outcome on a superficial level or refuse to see that we have reached a point we should never again return from.

Obama bears the torch for a future of promise, for a world that is moving on to a level much higher than where it once was, and I am glad I am alive to see this moment.

Yes we can!

Traded in my Suzuki 400cc bike for a 750cc. Talk about living life on the edge. The speedometer's capable of 240km and its 10 times lesser in size than a car which shows I'm sitting on a lightning bolt. Good thing I don't do speed. Max I've done is a 100km and that was on a very free road (the 3rd mainland bridge on a Sunday morning)

Showing part of my kit just before moving from yaba. The shoes are crocs, not quite bike wear but... I was in a hurry.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of November 2


I love to stand outside my house and watch people go by, wondering about their history, their lives, their joys and pains. I look at children, and inspect adults, wondering, and in some way vicariously living their lives, even as I watch them go by. It’s one of the reasons life is interesting, this trait from childhood, to imagine Aladdin and his flying carpet, Sinbad and Gulliver’s travels in everyone I see.

I am told there really is an ‘Igbo Irumale’ (a forest of a thousand daemons) somewhere on the way to Ondo and someday I intend to take a drive there. Foreigners come to this land, (particularly those young ones on exchange programs) and thoroughly enjoy themselves, taking in all we have, all over the country but not us. Sit and think. When was the last time you took a holiday, a proper one? When was the last time you paused to watch a bus conductor perform his routine? And you don’t have to be a non-car owner to watch bus-conductors. They abound everywhere.

I love to sit and watch people go past, I love to watch the rain fall, I love to hear the call of Muslims to prayers early in the morning, and that is not the Whisperer’s faith. It is a keening call and it has poetry in it for those who care to listen.

I love to sit in almost empty cinema halls and share the beauty of what is being shown with perfect strangers, all cocooned and sitting separately but still sharing humanity in some indescribable way.

I did my youth service in Akwa Ibom state, a land of very clean people, and I remember that place with a smile each time. I was in the town known as Abak and one of the people I remember with the most fondness is the man who was in charge of the security of the premises, Mr. J.L. Udoh also known as ‘Bright Photos’ (apparently he picked up photography at one time).He and I would go to the ‘water-side’ and spend time talking of the country, the civil war, the past and the future of our country. He was a good man with a kind heart and I wonder where he is now, years after, and hope that I will be able to get in touch with him again someday.

I believe in the slogan of that commercial product that says ‘Just do it. I have done a lot of things, I have made a movie, produced too many stage plays to recall, I have produced my own television programmes, I have driven across the country on my own because I was in love, (Lagos to Abuja), I own a bicycle, I own a power-bike, I have written books on drama and poetry, I have thrown punches, I have taken punches, I have taken academic degrees because I could, I have loved and lost, I have cried and I’m still laughing.

I think life has many simple pleasures, pleasures that can greatly enrich your existence but for some reason we miss them because they are not shrouded in designer clothes or wearing expensive wristwatches. Someday, pause to ask the security guard at your office or the woman cleaning the office floors what his or her story is, and you will never be the same again. Everyone has a story, everyone. And all stories are unique. You will feel your universe expand as you listen to them, and you will understand what it means to lead a rich a life.

The Whisperer enjoys his life, does the things he can and tries not to dwell on things that are not beneficial. Life is beautiful. Sometimes it has very sad moments but on the whole we should try to live lives without regrets. When we get it wrong, we should try to set it right and then move on.

The Whisperer’s ideal partner is one that can laugh at herself, that understands that life is what you make it; that you must play with the cards you’re dealt in this game; someone that knows you cannot spend time raging at the sun because the hand you’ve been dealt isn’t fair. At one time or the other, we all must tell ourselves, ‘Shut up and play ball!’. As I watch the American elections unfold, I think of how many of us will never be able to expose our lives to the intense scrutiny that follows the candidates of both parties. Every action, decision since they became adults has been raised to the light, turned round and round, picked up, dropped, and picked up again for further scrutiny. In this regard you regret you were not a nerd growing up, concentrating on all things that were ‘right’. But then you think, 'who wants to be President of America and live under pressure so intense your every waking moment is scrutinized?' Ask George W. Bush what he thinks of his ratings now.

But life has many pleasures, and since all of us cannot become Presidents of America, we wish the few who can well, and we concentrate on the many other beautiful moments life has to offer and we take advantage of them. We were born to live life, not go through it with guilt complexes and burdens we should have thrown aside a long time ago. Time flies when you’re having fun; make a decision to smile hello at a complete stranger today, without any strings attached. You bless a life and everyone’s the richer for it.

Kachifo Limited, publishers of the Farafina imprint is pleased to announce that one of its writers, Nnedi Okorafor – Mbachu was on Sunday, November 2, 2008 awarded the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. Nnedi's award winning book, Zahrah the Windseeker, was published by Farafina in July 2008. The award ceremony took place at The Ballroom - Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos and the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, presented the award in person. The prize money which is $20,000, is administered by the Lumina Foundation.

Also present was one of the other finalists, Wale Okediran, author of The Weaving Looms. Uzodinma Iweala, the third finalist and author of Beasts of No Nation, was unavailable.

Nnedi has several short stories which have been published in anthologies and magazines. Zahrah the Windseeker is her first novel. It is a tale of adventure, friendship and courage. Nicely illustrated and beautifully told, Zahrah the Windseeker makes a good read for both adults and children.

The recommended retail price is N1000 and it is available in all major bookstores in Nigeria. It can also be purchased online at or at Kachifo Limited, 8th Floor, SIO Towers, 25 Boyle Street Onikan, Lagos.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Venue: Hall 1, National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

Date: 3rd November - 9th November 2008

Time: 5pm

Further information:

Adedayo M. Liadi
Director/Producer TRUFESTA
Office/Studio Address: Rm 2, Block 4, N.C.A.C,Artistes Village,
National Theater Annex,Iganmu, Lagos, Nigeria. P.O.BOX 903 Surulere,Lagos,Nigeria.
Tel:+234-1- 8928692
Mobile: +234 80-33015983 , +234 80-58583078

Monday, October 27, 2008

Theatre@Terra presents live on stage,

Wole Soyinka’s masterpiece-

The Lion and The Jewel

Every Sunday in November

Written by Wole Soyinka

Directed by Wole Oguntokun

Assistant Director: ‘Sunkanmi Adebayo

Venue- Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island
Time- 3pm and 6pm
Tickets – N2000

Produced By Wole Oguntokun

A Terra Kulture and Jason Media Production

Supported by GT Bank

For Tickets and Enquiries, please call 0702 836 7228, 0808 123 9477 or e-mail

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I took my bike down to the Moshalashi area to see Rotimi Fakunle, Theatre@Terra's Production Manager. A complete stranger walked up to me and asked if her daughter could sit on the bike. After a while, the little girl tried to jump off the bike forgetting her plate of dodo on my rear seat.

In photo, Rotimi, far right takes a picture with his phone. For those who wonder how my bike changed colour so fast, I did a trade in. Its a Suzuki 750 cc now. Give me a wave when I go past.

I rode down to the monthly 'Poetry Potter' this saturday. The dance/drama/performance poetry fiesta takes place at the National Library,Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba. It's produced by Remi Adegbite's Kowry Kreations.
Special guest was Dayo Liadi (Ijo Dee), one of Nigeria's foremost dancers and whose face is easily recognizable through Infinity's Olori Oko video.
The unassuming Dayo has been to more than 55 countries on dance missions. After speaking with (and questions from) the audience, he did a dance routine (top pic)for those present to Lara George's 'Ijoba Orun'.
In bottom picture, Dayo is flanked by the lawyer and literary activist, Deji Toye and laspapi.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by

the Sunday Guardian of Oct 19


You don’t have to be an Einstein to know that the Whisperer is fascinated by the female form. (Interpret that anyhow you like) He loves the beauty of womanhood and the grace by which many of that ‘tribe’ are naturally endowed. About two years ago, the Whisperer stood waiting for a food order with a friend somewhere in Surulere, and somewhere in the conversation, the phrase, ‘Anatomy of a Woman’ was birthed.

So the Whisperer wrote a stage play about it and had it performed several times at the Muson Centre and Terra Kulture. It focused on gender relations, the complications and undertones that continuously affect the manner in which men and women regard, and relate with each other. One of those performances (March 2007) featured one example of some of the best forms of female beauty to emerge from this side of the planet, Stella Damasus.

What reminded the Whisperer of the ‘Anatomy of a Woman’? As he stood by the ticket stand at Terra Kulture waiting to produce another play last Sunday, a vision of loveliness appeared. It was Peju Alatishe, the architect and writer of the work of literary fiction known as ‘Orita-Meta’ (Cross Roads). The Whisperer has known her for more than two years now and Peju continues to fascinate him the way the writer, Chimamanda Adiechie, fascinates his big brother, the geologist and man-about-town, Toyin Akinosho.

Peju is beautiful in every sense of the word, honestly. For those whose hearts are not large enough to accept when another woman is being...ahem... praised, there are no apologies. It’s like saying Raji Fashola, the Governor of Lagos is a good governor. It’s a given. The world realizes that, even with the discomfort the citizens’ face with his machines chewing up the streets of Lagos. But I digress.

Back to the purpose of this piece. Many of us have people we are smitten by. They are people we find attractive, and are easy to converse with, They have keen minds and seem to fit our bill on all fronts. Yet even with this, women and men practically live on different planets. And it is a patient man who makes up his mind that he will attempt to unravel all that is mysterious about females. Or a very foolish one.

The things that are considered important by women are often disregarded by men. Men tend to judge their contribution into a relationship by the things they physically do. ‘I bought a return ticket when you went for your summer holidays last December’. In the mind of a man, it’s a grand gesture, the same as having bought a car for her or something of earth-shaking importance as registered on the Richter scale that rules in the world of men , and should be enough to hold her for a year at least. The man expects gratitude all the way, no complaints, no grumblings and cannot figure why a woman would act in the next breath as if it was nothing. If another man is the recipient of such a ‘magnificent’ gift, the receiver is grateful for all of eternity (well, most would be). He would find it hard to expect another gift until time had lapsed on that one. Not so for women. In the mind of a woman, giving her the Eiffel tower weighs the same as remembering her birthday. To her, there isn’t much difference, really. A gift is a gift, an act is an act. Men are the ones who carry measuring scales and shake their own heads in self-appreciation when they remember how generous they have been.

The Whisperer was once like this, unable to figure women out, until the calling came. He had read in a book that the ways in which women and men perceive the world are different, but had ignored it. He learnt the hard way.

Now it doesn’t really matter what colour or creed the woman in question is. Women are basically the same all over the world, (after you factor in the cultural differences). They speak Armaic, and the men, Greek. There are no similarities, no reference points. Both languages have been around for a long time, but are spoken by entirely different groups.

It is a rare man that can make an extended conversation on the phone with a woman if it is not a life or death issue. After the initial period of wooing when you spend hours on the phone and they seem to be only minutes, there comes the point where your phone habits diverge. A woman can move from topic to topic, glossing over or harrying the subject-matter depending on how the mood takes her. She will expect her partner to concentrate and give intelligible replies. The man on the other hand, is ‘gone’ after a conversation that takes more than one and half minutes. He might appear to be grunting replies but is really on auto-pilot, reading newspapers, packing his stuff for work the next day, gesturing at his friends standing by and waiting to go out with him. Different worlds.

The man comes home after work and is silent but the woman comes in and wants to have a ‘discussion’. One of these two species really is from another planet. Yet, living in harmony means you must find one, (I speak to those who are monogamically inclined), learn her quirks, her likes and dislikes, pray hard, close your eyes, and jump. Attempting to figure out what makes a woman tick is to attempt to count the stars in the skies. You get frustrated and the stars continue to look down coolly at you.

So, I’ll continue to appreciate lovely people like Peju Alatishe, while understanding that she and her specie speak a code that is state-of-the-art while most men still use sign language. And I’ll think to myself, ‘what a wonderful world’.

Many of my friends have expressed their concern on the web as to my safety on the bike. Here's a picture from last Sunday at Terra Kulture (I rode to the island) to show that I could double as 'Robocop'.

I'm as prepared as can be. Now we pray...

Monday, October 13, 2008


1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.
2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.
3) If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.
4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.
5) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.
6) Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
8) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
9) Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
10) The best place to be when you're sad is Grandpa's lap.


1) Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.
2) Wrinkles don't hurt.
3) Families are like fudge...mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
4) Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.
5) Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside.
6) Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.


1) Growing up is mandatory; growing old is optional.
2) Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
3) When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you're down there.
4) You're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
5) It's frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
6) Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
7) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


My mother told me how at Nigeria's independence (whatever that term means), she had willingly traded her British passport in (all citizens of the colonies had a right to the British Passport at the time) for a Nigerian one.

Many Nigerians who had studied in Great Britain returned home to help move the young nation forward. They settled everywhere, with Lagos receiving its fair share. There was no real demarcation between areas then- Iwaya, Onike, Surulere, Mushin, Ikeja...Opebi was bush-land, no one wanted it.

And the high-brow places were where the colonial 'masters' had lived- Ikoyi and Victoria Island.

They obtained mortgages, car loans, had steady jobs, paid back the loans. A Head-Of-State (Gowon) told the world that Nigeria's problem was how to spend money. There was too much of it.

Then the melt-down. Mismanagement, avarice, nepotism...all came disguised as Nigerian leaders and they tore through the treasury like rabid dogs in a cage of canaries.

When the final feathers floated to the ground, there was nothing left and a generation that had known the security of colonial influences had nothing. The security they had thought would last forever was gone and the economy was a shambles. A sitting 'President' (Babangida) told reporters he had no idea what was holding his country's economy up.

Those who had trusted the country to look out for them found they had nothing left. There was no where to go, no one to turn to. And old men who should have retired into quiet country homes to live out the rest of their lives in peace, returned to work. Some to offices, some to construction sites, carrying rubble in the tropical sun with their failing strength side by side with boys they could have been grandfathers to.

They roam our streets now, these tired old men, weary to their very souls, feet dragging as they walk in search of employment, but who will feed them if they stay indoors?

There is a generation though that has refused to be quiet. Some of those who studied abroad decades ago, gave birth to their children in those countries and now the children return in droves, seeking solace in distant, less-confused lands. Those not so 'lucky' to be born in those places, look for loop-holes, stow away in ships, walk across deserts. Some reach their promised lands. many fall by the wayside.

Some stay in Nigeria and make headway. It is my prayer that our country becomes a much better place, a place where many can thrive. It is my prayer that those who betrayed a people will someday pay heavily for their crimes.

The next time you walk past that tired old man on the street, spare a thought for him. He was once like you...before the betrayal.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

published by the Sunday Guardian

of October 5, 2008

Duress and Undue Influence

I thought I’d go the way of the lawyers today, seeing that the Whisperer has actual degrees suitable for that calling. Whether he uses them or not is a different matter, entirely. For today’s purposes, we shall define acting in duress as taking a position or doing an act you would not normally, because you are under pressure from an external source. Undue influence is an integral part of acting under duress because the person putting you under pressure is often in a position of influence over you and has the resources to put you at a serious disadvantage.

Let’s run through some of these things so we can be clear. The bank managing director who states you must bring in a quota in deposits, and he doesn’t really care how. You, the married or engaged female (by the way, it’s as criminal even if you’re single and free as a bird) are told there’s no way you can continue to be retained by the bank if you fall short of expectations. Deposits by hook or by crook and every which way but loose. He (or she) doesn’t really tell you what to do to bring these deposits in from lecherous money-bags, but you get the feeling that you must use what you have to get what you need. Sometimes in these matters, talking is kept to a bare minimum yet all positions are made utterly clear. If you do not go through with this, there are repercussions you will face. Duress and undue influence.

There’s the lecturer/teacher onto student type where the student has a borderline pass or fail score. The lecturer can defend his decision to fail the student and the student knows what must be done to prevent this. Kind of ugly, but these things happen. Like my friend, Funmilola Iyanda likes to say, all you have to do is work really hard, and then you can challenge any unjust score. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to pass borderline, what with MTV and the numerous distractions that hold the attention of the hare-brained.

There’s the one that’s sanctioned by some families. Dad (or Mum) says I can’t afford to pay your school fees, buy this or that for you. ‘Uncle’ so-and-so, who is a good friend of the family, has made it clear he thinks you’re adorable and has hinted he would like a hand in your education. Dad (or Mum) and sometimes both together send you off to go greet Uncle on a quiet Sunday. Uncle’s wife is long gone, children are abroad. You’re alone with this man and somewhere deep down in your heart of hearts, you know your parents have placed their seal of approval on this liaison. Impossible? You may doubt the evidence of your eyes when a magician shows you his arsenal of tricks, you may doubt the strength of a skyscraper to withstand the gusts of heavy winds, but do not doubt the Whisperer on this matter. There are parents who do this.

Duress and undue influence. All around the world, these are major factors in decisions taken daily. The refugee who knows she must share body heat with the official of the camp she is compelled to live in if she wishes to eat well; the policewoman who knows she’ll never get beyond the rank of corporal, if she doesn’t yield to the very subtle advances she perceives from her superior. ...numerous examples

The females who have to face these twin-tidal waves should be differentiated from those who willingly yield themselves to anything for the sake of advancement. In the latter case, there is no duress, no undue influence. There are those who deliberately go on the hunt for their tutors, confident in the belief that their academic futures are secure if they can catch him alone in a private room. There are many who advance far above their colleagues at work and in business because they are ready to go to any length to attain the corner office. For those who have this tenacity of purpose, this single-minded obsession to achieve their goals no matter the cost, the Whisperer has no word for them, not praise or an iota of condemnation. These things have existed before time and will continue to, long after we’re gone from the face of the earth. Some go to war to extend their lands and the borders of their countries, other fight smaller wars to advance themselves. It’s the way of the world.

My concern is with those who are forced to give up the things they hold dear, their most sacred values because they are under duress from people in positions of authority in their lives. When the person who has put a roof over your head asks you for some things, it takes a very brave heart to say the word, no.

Still, you must sit and ask yourself, what things are most important to you. You must ask whether you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror the day after, or you will spend the rest of your life cringing in misery each time you remember the event. There are those whose consciences are dead, who hold nothing dear and can do any act to get to any position. That kind of state of mind cannot be cured by one article written by the Whisperer and what they really need is therapy. Therapy and a re-orientation to lead them back to the things that are right and proper. Many of us instinctively realise that the confidence with which we speak about things attained through merit is different from the things we took corners to get to. If your first thought at this is that the end justifies the means, your value system needs an overhauling.

For those who face this kind of dilemma, you must balance what is being asked of you against your sense of self-worth. If the sense of self-worth weighs more, it is better to be true to yourself. No matter how hard it might seem when ‘tribulation’ hits you for holding on to what is dear to you (and repercussions will come, don’t be fooled), you must stand by what you believe.

Keep this in your mind always, however: A person who doesn’t stand for something will fall for anything and good guys don’t always finish last.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


“Writing Our Rights Creatively: Workshop on Engaging Literature in Education.”

An Internship Project for Young Nigerian Writers

Date: November 22, 2008.

Invitation is hereby extended to young Nigerian writers (ages average 18 – 30 years) to participate in an internship writing workshop organised by PEN NIGERIAN CENTRE.

The interactive internship workshop, which will be under the direction of two established Nigerian authors, is slated to take place at the University of Ibadan , on November 22, 2008.

Post-Workshop Activity

Each intern shall execute a post-workshop activity in expanding on the objective of the project, that is to teach and disseminate the function(s) of writing to a selected audience, emphasising on the role of literary creativity in the education of the civil society.


Prospective participants are required to send in a proposal for the follow up activity they wish to carry out as part of their application to attend the workshop. The proposal should include details of where the workshop will be held, who the audience will be and when it will take place. All workshops are to take place before or by the end of January 2009.

To apply for participation, please send a statement of interest including date of birth, contact details, favourite genre of writing, and a post-workshop activity proposal to:, and

The deadline for submission of application is October 21, 2008; invitation by email or telephony will be sent for confirmation of participation in the workshop.


Femi Osofisan
President, PEN Nigerian Centre

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The bikes that laspapi bought.

Two 400cc motor-bikes, a Suzuki and a Honda, much too powerful for first-time bikers but life is short, let's live dangerously. One's for myself and the other for the hard-working production manager of Theatre@Terra, Olarotimi Michael Fakunle.

The man-hours lost in Lagos traffic are mind-boggling and I've been known to hop on a bike to beat the log-jams but it's much saner to trust myself on a bike than believe a complete stranger who probably arrived on the ferry from his village two days before and took his first bike ride 24 hours earlier, just because he alleges he's an okada rider.

Fallen off twice already, smashing a hole in the fence at the back of the house in the process of one of the fallings (swollen shin, bruised rib, sprained wrist) but I'm much better now, Thanks.

But really, I'm quite a ...ahem...hell's angel, now. The principles that govern bikes are very car-like.

A couple of weeks ago, I put up a picture of a building that appeared as if it would crash any day on the heads of Lagosians, right in the city centre.

The government must have read something somewhere (maybe Governor Fashola and his commissioners read my blog :P) but it was announced on the radio that it would be brought down and down it came, safely too.

This should have been done a long time ago. Well done to the government though, it'll take a while to correct the many things about our city that have to be fixed but it's obvious real work goes on.

Pictures show the building a day before demolition and then a less dangerous landscape.

laspapi at 'play'

Rehearsals for Professor Wole Soyinka's 'The Jero Plays' continued at the office last monday.

In the room along with me (you can't tell by looking) were 21 artistes.

The plays will be part of the Theatre@Terra series showing at Terra Kulture every Sunday in October at 3&6pm.

Cell-Phone Photo by Segun Ogundipe

The Girl Whisperer

as published by

The Sunday Guardian of Sept 27

The Last Bus-stop

What would you do if the next decision you made would be your very last one?

The reason many of us make irresponsible decisions is because we feel we have all the time in the world. The strange thing about life is that all our yesterdays are made up of memories alone. It is a wise person that tries to ensure that recollections of the past will be happy ones.

When the Whisperer was a teenager he made many reckless decisions as many young men do. He would ‘love’ a girl for her hips, her perfume, for the way she crossed her legs or walked down an empty street. The way she stood out in a group of girls would be enough to make his heart race and give him sleepless nights. And in the light of the next day he would regret his decision the night before. He would stop taking her phone calls, and he would find alternative routes to the one that led him to her. As he grew older, he continued to make hasty decisions until he came into his own as the Whisperer.

There are many people who are unconcerned about the far-reaching consequences of their decisions. There are also many naive people who have put their own lives on hold for the sakes of philandering partners. They have met people who profess love without serious intentions and have totally believed people who are glib of mouth. There is nothing so damaging to the human psyche as finding out that the person you have given your heart to is really a ‘tourist’ who is just enjoying the sights. There are many people who do not want permanent resident permits in another’s life. They are there for the short term and will refuse to renew their visas when their term expires. You cannot make another love you, against his or her will.

There are ways of identifying a person who has reached his or her final destination. It is not a completely fool-proof method but it is a useful guide. What you must learn to do is not to listen to the words being said to you, but to the actions that follow the words. A man who tells you his heart is yours alone forever is quite different from the one who goes to great lengths to severe himself from previous, complicated relationships. Like the old saying goes if you really want to know what a person thinks, look at the person, don’t listen to the person.

There are many instances of people who have loved and lost because they chose to follow partners who are tourists-for-life. You cannot cure and should not make it your mission in life, to change a person who has wanderlust. A restless soul will remain that for all eternity no matter how hard you try. It is the same as trying to make a tiger a house-pet. No matter how hard you try, the tiger was made for the wilds.

So you must trust your instincts to identify a natural-born runner. No matter what the person with wanderlust says, he is designed to keep moving from person to person. His default-setting is that of a person who changes base as often as he can, and when it matters the most to you is when he will tell you he has to go. The same way a computer or a camera will return to its manufacturer’s setting when there is a problem, is the way this partner will show his true self if he meets a stumbling block. We must all learn to weigh the decisions we intend to make before we make them public. We live in a world in which the actions of one can have far-reaching repercussions in the lives of many others. Good things really do come to those who wait and sometimes tasting from too many dishes can kill the strongest appetite.

Even simple acts done in pure innocence can be misinterpreted. There are people all over the world who blame the Whisperer for having deceived them by being too friendly or looking too deeply into their eyes. Many actions done without guile can be misread, not to talk of those that are done to deliberately deceive. There is no one that owes us the responsibility to be forthright and honest, we owe ourselves that duty, the duty to check, that we are doing the right thing and that we have finally met the right person. If you value your happiness and your peace of mind, you will ensure that you screen all comers to ensure that they are not just hopping from bus to bus. For the bus-hoppers, they must remember that there is such a thing as the last stop and though it might have been amusing to deceive little girls, there is nothing remotely funny about deceiving fellow adults. The desire to roost can be a very strong one and it is not to be trifled with. If two ‘tourists’ meet each other, then it is a thing of joy. If your prospective partner is not a tourist however, you owe a duty to announce your intentions well before the party begins. It is not enough to say that your partner should have known what type of person you were. Lay your cards on the table so both parties are clear where they stand at all times.

A long time ago, Paul Young sang, “I love them and I leave them, break their hearts and deceive them, everywhere I go.” No declaration of intent can be more forthright than that. Break their hearts and deceive them but let them know first.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Theatre@Terra presents live on stage, Wole Soyinka’s comedies-

The Jero Plays

The Trials Of Brother Jero
Jero’s Metamorphosis

Every Sunday in October

Written by Wole Soyinka
Directed by Wole Oguntokun

Venue- Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island
Time- 3pm and 6pm
Tickets – N2000

Produced By Wole Oguntokun

For Tickets and Enquiries, please call 0702 836 7228, 0808 123 9477 or e-mail

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yinka Craig went to be with the Lord at 6.00am on september the 23rd at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

He was a pioneer radio and television broadcaster, a sports journalist extraordinaire and a national icon.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Kehinde Craig, his sons, Mr. Olayinka Craig and Dr. Olamide Craig and Miss Temilola Craig.

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of 21st September, 2008

Okafor’s Law

I bet that title got your attention. I also bet you’re wondering how I’m going to tackle this topic without offending public policy.

There are very few Nigerians who do not know the principle behind Okafor’s law. For the very few who do not, the Whisperer’s here to bring it to your notice and to educate the world as a whole.

Firstly, just like the Western world’s ‘Murphy’s law’ which states that if anything can go wrong, it will; Nigerians, decades ago, ‘discovered’ a principle concerning relationships which many believe to be true. The law which they likened to infallible laws like that of gravity is that you may continue a relationship in which you and your former partner had a strong bond even if you meet years after.

How did it come about that I decided I was going to write on Okafor’s law? Earlier this week, I got an invitation to a radio show out of the clear blue sky from one of the top guns in that medium, Cordelia Okpei. Cordelia is a very good friend and producer of, amongst many other things, a radio show that deals with relationships and so I went.

Apparently, the host of the show, Tolu, had read an article the Whisperer wrote a couple of months ago, titled ‘Soul Ties’ and had decided it had links to Okafor’s law.

Seated at the table where we were recorded were other guests, including the musician Eldee, also known as ‘The Don’; Dolly; Tokunbo Agbesan’wa; and Kate (a clergyman’s wife). The topic? Okafor’s law. The theme? Can a man continue an intimate relationship once broken, from where he left off if he sees the woman months or years later, irrespective of whom she’s with or what kind of relationship she is involved in? There are numerous test cases that say he can. Like Eldee said, if you’ve been there before, you may return. The Whisperer’s stance? That may be true, but let no man say it is on account of Okafor’s Law or Soul Ties, or whatever reason humans give so as to be able to rekindle the flames of lust. We pursue other people or allow ourselves pursued because we want to, not because there is a principle of chemistry that compels us to do so. The females at the discussion were more or less on the same side, contending that a woman (and even a man) could condition herself not to yield to someone she once cared for with all her heart and who has decided to try to return into her life when she has moved on. There is no one in his or her right mind who should underestimate the laws of attraction. Your spouse, partner, friend will find other people attractive. It is what is done with this attraction that separates us from people without control.

I wrote Soul Ties because I met a female who said she had listened to a clergyman who had submitted that people were soul-ishly tied to others for the rest of their lives. I have one thing to say to the clergyman and her. If you’re tied to anyone, it’s lust and a remembrance of how things once were. It’s because you dwell on the ‘magic’ you once shared with that person and when you meet that person again, the memories you have watered and nourished, kick in and that is all you can think about. ‘Let no man say when he is tempted, he is tempted of God...’ is what the good book says. This female, an adventurer in many ways, found justification in fanning the embers of residual attraction even through a marriage (not involving the Whisperer),in that philosophy. If that is so, the Whisperer is ‘Soul-Tied to seventy females and still counting. It’s a ridiculous concept, the soul tie, purely driven by lust but I digress. Back to Okafor’s Law.

We all commit this ‘transgression’, dwell on one or two special people in our minds, our ‘soul mates’ that we didn’t end up with, our dream partners, those who understood us. So when your current partner is acting oafish, you allow the mind to drift, lending incredible attributes to that partner now gone and sowing the seeds for Okafor’s Law to take root when your paths cross again.

Six days ago, as I drove down a quiet street in Surulere, I saw a female go past, and took a second look at her. She saw me too and raced back to me. We’d met eons ago when I was undergoing that mind-broadening experience called the National Youth Service, she being a student in the University of the State I was ‘serving’ in and travelling back that day too. We’d had a long talk on the journey and agreed to meet again in the state we were both travelling to, obviously attracted to each other. For some reason, we never did, and didn’t see each other until almost a year after. She had come to meet her boyfriend who stayed next door to my relatives whom I was visiting. We joked about it, said it was a good thing we didn’t hook up but the attraction obviously remained. And then, just a few days ago, we met again, attraction still ‘zinging’ through the air around us.

Hear the Whisperer. You will always meet people you are attracted to. It’s the way life is. You have to weigh the situation you’re in, and make up your mind that you will allow nothing disrupt it. Believe the Whisperer, Okafor’s Law will turn your peaceful life inside out, if you allow it to. And don’t think you can get away with it without ‘hurting’ anyone. This Law will make itself known. It always does.

I think I should put Okafor’s law on Wikipedia so when its googled, more of the world can understand this theory.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I saw one of life's moments yesterday. I sat watching bits of the 1998 Spielberg movie on World War II, 'Saving Private Ryan' when an incredible scene unfolded. A platoon of American soldiers led by a captain played by Tom Hanks, had just lost a friend to two bullets from the German Army, as they fought over desolate waste-land. They had tried to save him, shore him up with morphine but nothing worked. Two bullets in the stomach. He died. Blood everywhere, pumping out of the small holes in his body tillhis heart stopped beating.

Then they caught a German soldier who hadn't made it away on time. They made the German soldier dig a grave for their friend and as he dug, it was clear they intended to take their revenge on him for the death of their friend who had fought through thick and thin by their side.

The German soldier, still standing in the grave he was digging, looked up at them and began to beg for his life. He held on to one who had been friendlier than the others and had given him a cigarette, and began to plead in English with a strong German accent. He repeatedly shouted, 'I love America' and tried to climb out of the grave but was pushed back.

Then he sang the first few lines of the American anthem, brokenly, repeatedly, not fully understanding the words. He would sing two lines and start again and again.

The guns cocked around him and he shouted...'f**k Hitler' a few times as well in a desperate attempt to save his own life but he could still see his death in their eyes as they cocked their guns.

Then they pulled him out of the grave, and tied a blindfold over his eyes. And the Captain told the only American who could speak German to tell the prisoner to walk a thousand paces away from them, not looking back before taking off his blindfold.

As he walked away, stumbling over the rocky terrain, uncertain as to what would happen, I waited for the bullets that would knock him to the ground. But they never came. The captain made his platoon let him go.

In those few minutes, I saw the humanity of both sides and I fully understood the futility and senselessness of war. And also for the first time, I totally comprehended John Donne's words-

Every man's death diminishes me because I am involved in man-kind. Therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.