Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of July 20

Burning Bridges

It was the Whisperer’s birthday last Tuesday and as some of those who loved him gathered and celebrated, he had cause to reflect on the many paths he has walked on, the many things he has seen and the many places he has been in.

The Whisperer, over the years, has crossed many bridges into unchartered territory and like many others who have gone before him, has wondered whether it is appropriate to burn the bridges he has crossed. Let’s get the analogy right. When soldiers go to war, there are times they are compelled by their commanding officers to cross bridges as they retreat or advance to occupy new places and to burn these bridges down after crossing them. This burning might serve several purposes; prevent the enemy from following them into the new place or prevent the men who have themselves crossed the bridge from deserting and running back across the bridge in the face of a fierce attack. It is an order that tells the men involved they have no options; they must stay and fight for the land they occupy, and sometimes to the death. The situation can be the same in relationships. Often, we enter into new relationships and it seems it is the most beautiful thing in the world, the best place to be, yet for some reason, we are unable to burn our bridges completely and give our total commitment to the ‘new land’ we have found.

We do not cut ties with former ‘soul mates’, aspiring suitors, ‘close friends’. We save them for a rainy day, for who knows what might lie across the bridge and the bridge is left intact for the day we might need to race across it in retreat. Sometimes people leave their bridges unscathed without even realizing it, but it is left whole, nonetheless. In this matter, it means the person who has refused to destroy bridges is either leaving an escape route (meaning he or she will not fight too hard for the new place) or is subtly permitting all his or her old ties to cross over when those ties finally make up their minds they want to do so.

The bridge that is left intact is in itself a message to whatever or whoever might have existed in the past that a chance still exists for enemy activity. It doesn’t matter whether this is physical betrayal or an emotional one. Sometimes, betrayal is betrayal.

The problem that occurs in the matter of the bridges left intact is that a subliminal message is passed to all those who were once important in the life of the person in question. The message is that there is still room. It is a message that also indicates your respect for your partner is not total and predators, new and old ones will cross the bridge when the time comes, throwing your relationship into disarray.

The Whisperer speaks today. If you notice the existence of a bridge in the life of your partner (some of them build mighty bridges with suspensions that divide so ships can pass under and then come together again), bring it to his or her attention and make it clear there is a problem that needs resolving. I’m not talking about bridges made of straw that cannot bear the weight of a man; the ones in issue here are those built so firmly by structural engineers that earthquakes cannot shake. Calmly point out the complications the existence of this bridge might cause in your lives, making clear that a person who does not let go of the shore will never see new horizons. If this person refuses to blow up the bridge, you cross that bridge yourself and burn it down behind you so that this disrespectful partner may never be able to cross over again to you.

Drastic remedy, you may say? Yes, there are no apologies for this recommendation, drastic situations require drastic remedies and the stakes are high- your heart. If your true love still says the company of a former partner is where he or she needs to go to find rest, it’s time you did a rethink. Regard yourself with the respect you should have and move on.

Some would ask- ‘What if I burn my bridges and I find out too late that it is a bad place I am in and there is no way to get out?’ The mark of adulthood is that you pause to reflect before you step into any situation. It’s your life and you cannot hold another responsible for the position you are in. Look carefully across the bridge before you cross over, and when you finally decide to walk across it, make up your mind it is coming down. For a relationship to work there can be no alternatives, no options.

So it’s the Whisperer’s birth-week and as he sits and reflects on the many bridges blown up behind him and as he contemplates the smouldering ruins of entire cities obliterated so as to make a new life for himself, he remembers people he has come across and who have become great friends.

Today, the Whisperer salutes two of these beautiful people, Nwando also known as dscr?be, and aramide whose other name is mona. The world would be a much better place if it had more of this sort. Birthdays are for reminiscing and for resolving matters. May the future be joyous for all those who love the Whisperer. For those who might not love him, well... they must look elsewhere for prayers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

50 years on, Theatre@Terra presents

live on stage,

Chinua Achebe’s classic work-

Things Fall Apart

Every Sunday in August

Written by Chinua Achebe
Adapted for the stage by Biyi Bandele
Directed by Wole Oguntokun

Assistant Directors-Kenneth Uphopho, Sunkanmi Adebayo

(Plus a pre-show bonus of drama sketches written by Wole Soyinka)

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

A Terra Kulture- Jasonvision Ltd -Hyve Ltd Production

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

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kachifo Limited, the publisher of Farafina Magazine and Farafina books, is proud to announce the release of Weaverbird, a collection of exciting new work written by Nigerians and exploring the major themes of our contemporary experience. Weaverbird is out in major bookstores and is sold at a recommended retail price of N1500.


Weaverbird is a collection of fourteen short stories touching all aspects of Nigerian life—from the deeply personal to the overtly political. National crises like corruption and conflict in the Niger Delta are explored, but also individual experiences of love, sex and pride. Many of the stories also balance the complex interplay and contradictions between the individual and the social, so that Ayodele Ayogbami's "Shadow of Eclipse", for instance, is at once the tale of a young girl's desperate choice to sell her body and a commentary on the national condition. Other authors in the collection are bold, even provocative, in their choices: Uche Umezurike in his "A Night So Damp" confronts homosexuality, an issue most Nigerians would rather silence, and Tolu Ogunlesi writes about how corruption in Nigeria corrupts even the seemingly incorruptible.

Edited by Akin Adesokan, Ike Anya, Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Ike Oguine, Weaverbird presents a wonderfully thought-provoking body of new Nigerian writing.

Featured authors are: Ike Oguine, Adebayo Ayobami, Unoma Azuah, Khalidah Bello, Ike Okonta, Ikhide Ikheola, Mogbolahan Koya-Oyagbola, Ayodele Arigbagbu, Tolu Ogunlesi, Shylle Shonoiki, E.C Osondu, Victor Ehikhamenor, Tade Ipadeola and Uche Peter Umez.
The Girl Whisperer

as published by

The Sunday Guardian

of July 13

Damaged Goods

Somewhere out there, we all know one, if not several people whom we and the rest of society, could term as damaged. In our eyes, their appeal is lessened because they have had bad relationships, bad marriages, or gone through terrible times, ending up being 'wounded' in the process. They bear this mark like the mark of Cain after he killed his brother, Abel, and all cringe at their arrival into gatherings and their joining of conversations. Being damaged is not about physical injuries; it’s the loss of face in front of friends, the disgrace in the eyes of the society, the shame that hits us harder than a physical blow ever could when a partner walks out on us, the stigma that follows us like we have the plague when we make mistakes in relationships. It is what we assume to be the loss of our place in the strata of society, the inability to look the Joneses in the eye and relate to them as equals because we are now alone. It is a sad place to be, a heavy cross to carry and many never recover, never finding their strength or pride again. As an aside, those who do not think it possible to rise up from that twilight zone of defeat should learn from the Whisperer, you can get up, you can get back to your feet and walk away with your head held up high. Nothing is impossible except what we allow to be, and in the hazy land of half-shadows where loss and defeat lies, it is good to remember that life was made for us to keep moving, and forward too.

People can be ‘damaged’ in many ways; getting entangled with the wrong sort and not recovering from the trauma of a break-up with this person, the physical loss of a loved one, a betrayal of trust on either side and other examples too many to mention.

Dolly Parton sang of a broken heart and the desire to start a new life in her song, ‘Bargain Store’- ‘My heart is like unto a bargain store, you may find just what you’re looking for; if you don’t mind the fact the merchandise is used; with a little love, it could be as good as new’. The problem however, is that many are content to wallow in self-pity, to take defeat as a personal friend and stay in its company for indefinite periods, instead of grabbing life by the scruff of the neck and continuing on the journey they started on irrespective of who has left them for dead.

The female who spends seven long years in a relationship with a male she once loved and trusted and who suddenly gets ditched by that male for reasons she cannot begin to comprehend, must learn to shrug off the pain like water off a duck’s back, take the blow on the chin 'like a man' and continue moving. You must never let anything grind your life, your ambitions and your hopes to a halt. We often only get one shot at life, it’s important to make sure the shot is a clear one, free of obstruction and any other distractions. If you are slapped in the face by a situation that has no precedence in your experiences, you must remember that even though the situation is one that is new to you, there are millions of others who have gone through what you are wading through and lived to tell the tale. You must make up your mind (like the donkey that was rejected for its age and worth, and thrown into a large ditch where there seemed no escape) that ‘you must shake it off, stomp on it and rise a little higher’. The need to feel sorry for ourselves is what leaves us on our knees when we should rise to our feet and continue the journey that was interrupted for whatever reason.

If you are unprepared for a blow, anyone can hit you without warning, making you fall to your knees. It then becomes your responsibility to decide whether you want to stay down or get up and re-join life’s race at a fast trot. You do not need a tag to let you know how valuable you are. Self-worth comes from within and no other man can validate you. Many years ago, I fell in love with a D.H. Lawrence poem. It went thus- ‘I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself; a small bird will drop frozen dead from its bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.’ When life and society gives us a tag, we must remember it is our prerogative to choose to accept the tag or to decline. Surrendering to the tag ‘damaged goods’, is a sure sign of a defeated mind and spirit. Humans naturally, are given indomitable wills but often we tend to forget that the heart has the ability to bend like a reed but is a very hard thing to break. If the partner of your dreams walks away from you, do not spend the rest of your life castigating yourself and paying penance. If in truth, the break-up was his fault and you were left without a chance to salvage what you had hoped would be forever, gather your dignity around you like a cloak, hold your head up high, and let your pride support you in moments like this. Finally, the Whisperer says, you are only worth as much as you value yourself. No one will ever lend value to damaged goods, therefore, reject the tag and open your heart to new business. One’s life is an important possession, be careful about whom you let give it names.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kachifo Limited, the publishers of Farafina Magazine and Farafina books is proud to announce the release of the West African Paperback edition of Chris Abani’s new novel Becoming Abigail in Nigeria. It’s available in all major bookstores.


Becoming Abigail is a coming-of-age story of a young girl who has been forced to grow. A girl whose childhood is lost in the shadow of a mother she doesn’t even know and whose innocence has been sacrificed on the altar of experience. Chris Abani in this novella gives us a graphic representation of Abigail’s sufferings, the inhumane treatment she undergoes in the hands of Peter who claims he’s taking her to London to give her a better life and the struggle to find her identity and establish it in her father’s heart.

The book explores human trade, sexual abuse, identity struggles, re-incarnation, love and death.


“Moody,lyrical prose reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Beloved… Though the fictional Abigail exists only on the pages of Abani’s novella, her character will seize the imagination of everyone who reads her story.”
• Essence Magazine

“Becoming Abigail,a spare yet voluptuous tale about a young girl’s escape from prostitution is so hypnotic that it begs to be read in one sitting… Abigail is sensitive, courageous, and teetering on the brink of madness. Effortlessly gliding between past and present. Chris Abani spins a timeless story of misfortuneand triumph.”

• Entertainment Weekly

“A darkly poetic investigation into the past’s deceptive hold over the present … Abani writes in dense, gorgeous. Abigail is not a creature of pity but inspiration.”

• The Nation

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I recall writing I was senior script writer on the 4th Season of Mo Abudu's hit talk-show, Moments with Mo. Well, a conversation I had with the legendary bush doctor, Baba Willy, reminded me that I'd failed to mention I'm a producer for the show as well. I'm working directly with two extraordinary associate producers, Toyin Faj and Chris, the Senior producer- Sebari Diette-Spiff, two other producers and a line of Associate Producers.

'They ask us, how we do it....'

The Girl Whisperer

as published by

The Sunday Guardian of July 6


According to a theory I once heard, there are other people (or at least one person) out there that you are tied to even if you are in what appears to be the perfect relationship. The way it’s described, they say if you have been intimate with another person, someone you really ‘loved’ at one time, and there is a separation for any reason and for any length of years, you are still in some manner, tied to that person or people. This is different from you finding your soul-mate as some of us say of spouses and long-term partners. The soul-tie is a pull that is as strong, and probably more damaging because of its ability to reach out from the past and touch, often adversely, relationships in the present. For those who have long boasted that they have found the perfect relationship, it can be a disconcerting revelation to discover that your partner might in some way still be ‘connected’ to another, whether or not he or she talks of this person. This might be a good time to ask your great loves whether they are soul-tied. Apparently, according to the school of thought, you feel the connection periodically, it ebbs and flows like the tide, like the pull of the moon, and even though the person the connection is with, might be continents away, the link is never broken.

Now, for the Whisperer, this is a convenient way of saying you still find another person attractive outside your relationship. While this is a natural phenomenon (anyone who says there is only one attractive person in the world is lying through the skin of his or her teeth), the unnatural thing is to have the mind-set that because it is a ‘soul-tie’, there really is nothing you can do about it. This kind of connection then, is almost a viral thing, an infection you can never get rid off, that raises its head even in the midst of your happiness with other people.

The Whisperer says if you have found happiness with someone you intend to share your long-term future with, and you intend to stay with that one person, you must sit down and think, plan how you will preserve what you have. Oh yes, love has strategy too. Ask anyone who has doggedly pursued a prospective partner for months or across continents. The way forward in a relationship you intend to hold on to, is to ask if you are willing to give up everyone else for this one person (if you believe in exclusive relationships). If you do not intend to give up the ‘pleasures’ of the past, then you need not make any further plans and you may live life as you wish. However, if it is your intention to stay true, it might be a good thing to make a decision that you will walk away from all other forms of ‘temptation’, soul tied or otherwise. Often, we ourselves allow room for instability in our relationships, allowing encroachment by other factors (and people) and then we blame the difficulties that are sure to arise, on circumstances beyond our control. If you do not show discipline and a willingness to protect what you have found, your ‘soul-ties’ will destroy your happiness.

You must understand that the human memory is a wonderful thing, just ask all the parents who have at some point told their children that in their days, they topped their classes in school. Often, the memory is tinged with a rosy hue, and truths are often altered. Same thing with our recollections of the soul tie. We forget the reason there was a separation, painting this person in magnificent hues, the scent of the person’s perfume, the understanding, the laughter and happiness, and then meet the ‘tie’ five or ten years on and remember only the good times, and in foolishness are willing to jeopardise whatever beauty we have found. Life is short they say, and some are willing to live dangerously.

The soul-tie is one you must watch out for. This is an off-shoot of the now world-famous law of attraction propounded by Nigerians, known as “Okafor’s Law” where it is said that you can be ‘intimate’ again with someone you were once intimate with, no matter how long it has been since you last saw each other and no matter who either of you might be with.

The acceptance that there will always be Soul-Tie(s) is an acceptance that your relationship will always be in mortal danger. When you enter a serious relationship, you must ask yourself if you are willing to let go of the past. There will always be attractive people, in existence in the past and the future but the secret to success in relationships is to be like the aborigine in Australia who would choose a particular kangaroo for its meat and then set off in pursuit of the kangaroo. It didn’t matter whether in the course of this pursuit, slower or bigger kangaroos passed by. A decision had been made and would not be varied until the kangaroo being pursued dropped from exhaustion. It is a state of the mind. A relationship that will succeed needs those in it to pursue their mutual happiness, not looking from side to side to observe distractions. This can be applied to all spheres of life as well. Make a decision and stick with it, if you can. If for some reason, you cannot stick to your resolution, do not blame it on the soul-tie. Your resolve fell apart because you were weak, because you lusted after another person, nothing psychic about it.

Sometimes, fidelity even to those we most love, can be a hard thing, an obstacle race, but the longer you keep at it, the better you get. The Whisperer’s advice- start jumping the hurdles, life’s got plenty of it, but your muscles will soon get used to leaping over temptation.
The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of June 29

They Take No Prisoners

I sat with the beautiful television show presenter, Mo Abudu, a few days ago at a meeting with her producers and other members of her staff and during a break, an associate producer’s conversation drifted to that special cadre of humans who thrive in negativity. She spoke of people who are comfortable with dwelling in that eerie twilight zone where half-truths, malformed intentions and outright deceit lay in wait, those who have no reservations about misinforming the world where others are concerned and whose aversion to success is often palpable when you meet them. Their mission is simple, ‘obliterate all traces of success in others and at whatever cost’.

I sat and listened quietly, a collision at my weekly Friday football game which caused three bruised ribs and an injured collar-bone, forcing me to curb all superfluous movement. The truth of what she said rang true in my heart, for I too, have met these people who take no prisoners.

Success, in whatever form is attractive and brings them like moths to a flame, and then they single-mindedly pursue their mission. Annihilation. Mo Abudu and many others like her are prime targets- Any combination of success, talent and persistence can awaken the demons asleep in those who seek wars even where there are none.

In my mind, I thought of all the ways I had sought to keep far from me all those who give no quarter in battle. My thoughts drifted, remembering the many doors I had closed and fortified so I would not let the dark army in, aspiring relationships I had shut down to protect myself from dangerous situations. I have since honed my skills at keeping them far from me, but still, sometimes, the human factor causes dangerous mistakes to be made.

But all these were before the advent of face book, probably the largest meeting point for humanity now. Face Book, a web-based interface created by a bored college student for his college community and now used by millions of people all over the world is one of the most intrusive inventions ever made by man. It allows access and provides a forum for finding many old friends (as well as meeting new ones). I can testify that great, great friends have risen from the many places they had gone to hibernate and have shaken the dust off memories. Some of these meetings have been surreal. ‘Vinuyon Ramos wants to make you her friend’, the page says and you are thrown in a time-capsule, the years peeling off, faster and faster as the mind swirls, remembering true, true friendship and relieving great, great memories. ..George Mashigo, Olumide Laniyan, Tokunbo Moradeyo, Taofik Longe, Yemi Ayeni...The times when looks were innocent and no one disliked you because you appeared to be doing well.

So the virtual device known as face book is both a blessing and a curse. Time after time, I have seen people I dreamed with when I was a teenager, people with whom I had planned how we would make our own impressions on the world, contact me. I have allowed them access into my new life as they have allowed me into theirs and it is a safe place to be, still.

My earlier suspicion when I first saw face-book, and I have been known to yield to conspiracy theories from time to time (aliens landed in the town of Roswell in the U.S.A. in 1964, J.F.K. was killed by the Mafia) was that it was created by the secret service of some country. It was too interested in everything and everyone who called you a friend could ‘see’ who you were talking to at any particular time, where you spent time and the notes you were leaving for others. People could ‘tag’ you in photos, adding your name to pictures you had no idea had been posted on the internet, and making you better-known than you might aspire to, at times.

There are many people out there who will never be able to run for political positions in the future because of the amount of stuff on them on the world-wide-web. One click of the finger and you see statements he made, not worthy of a ten-year old child’s train of thought or pictures taken of him while drunk at a party and tagged by a ‘friend’ just in case the identity of the fellow whose head was half in the toilet bowl with a bottle of whiskey in one hand, was in question.

For those who believe, like I do, in the mantra of the boss of Intel, that ‘only the paranoid survive’, there are many things to be wary about concerning face book, but it is addictive for many others , and they have withdrawal symptoms when they cannot ‘change their status’ or ‘scroll’ through the lives of other people.

The great positive side to this forum that allows others to be voyeurs in your affairs, is that it can be a source of great happiness too- the long-lost friend, the flash-back to memories when the world was a nicer place and smiles were genuine, long-forgotten emotions that showed the real you, and not the veneer worn now so as to protect one from the wild dogs that bay at the windows at midnight.

Still in all this, the Whisperer advices caution. The mistake that is made in relation to predators is that because we cannot see them, we imagine they are no longer there. Often, they still are, only they are quieter now, lurking, looking for gaps in the fence. The stakes that are being played for might be much higher than you imagine. Sometimes it is a wise thing to have a siege mentality.
The Girl Whisperer

as published by

The Sunday Guardian of June 22

Cat Among The Pigeons

I like women.

I like their thoughts, their form, their beauty and natural grace, and the way a confident woman looks around a crowded room. I like the waft of perfume that follows a woman as she walks past you on a quiet road. There is a kind of woman you see coming down a path and you are fairly certain she’ll be using good perfume. I have been known to wait so she can pass me and I can inhale the heady (and probably expensive) perfume she’ll be using. Cheap perfumes don’t have that effect, I’m afraid, and after the first couple of hours of mixing with perspiration and the sun, smells cheap. For the young and aspiring, invest in a good bottle. If it’s cheaply priced, it probably is. I like women a lot. I think my mother would have appreciated such a declaration, considering it a very healthy one. As a sixteen year old, my mother looked at me one day and identified traits of a Whisperer, but maybe even she did not know how true her intuition was then.

There are some people on the other hand who would have a problem with such a declaration of interest in women by this Whisperer, considering it a fore-warning of unserious intentions. However, it should be noted by the sceptics in this ‘school of thought’ that I did not say I wanted a relationship with all women. Liking the vast majority is enough, really. I spoke with my editor one day and he congratulated me on the popularity of the column. Still, there was a well-to-do woman who said she skipped the whispering page every time she got this newspaper. I knew the reason why; the Whisperer had dwelt accurately on whatever situation she was in and had told the truth. I do not write to pronounce judgement but I will tell the truth as I see it. Sooner or later, you will read the Whisperer. My new friend, Sholape wrote in to grudgingly commend me on the accuracy of my observations. Here’s to her and ladies like her who face-up to the truth when they see it. One of the aims of my writings is to keep women out of trouble; I really hope I have been able to do so.At some point in life, a great number of men are like cats amongst pigeons, stalking, walking with stealth, sniffing the ground, acting as if they are not interested in the prey, but then pouncing without announcing their intentions. At one point in time, even the Whisperer was like this, a cat amongst the pigeons.

It is the unwise woman who does not recognise a cat when they see one because these cats are easy to identify. Firstly and most importantly, they are cats and they have no business where pigeons gather. There is something predatory about their languid movements and you should not disregard your natural intuition in this matter.It is a very foolish pigeon that thinks it can move faster than a cat and the underestimation of the speed of a cat has proven to be the end of many silly birds. What will be left at the end of the encounter are a few feathers fluttering to the ground, and the cat walking away, cleaning its whiskers and its paws after a good meal.

As an experiment, the next time you take the time out to lean over a balcony, or sit leisurely in a park (at the rate the government of Lagos is going, we’ll soon be able to do so, hopefully) look for a cat and study the manner it watches everything and everyone else without seeming to do so. You’ll be more wary of kissing a cat the next time one introduces himself at a party.The cat has no interest in the success of a relationship but seeks his own ends and once he gains entrance to the gathering of pigeons, fixes his attention on a weak pigeon even though he appears to be disinterested. ‘Weak’ in this regard might translate as vulnerable or naive. This cat plays around with the emotions of the prey, able to say exactly what the pigeon needs to hear and the trap is set. By the way, there are many female cats too, looking for male pigeons. I have met them, and in many a back alley, there are wounded cats, licking their wounds and nursing thoughts of vengeance against the Whisperer. Join the line, I say.

As an aside, when this column started about 15 months ago, an acquaintance I met on the web and based in England wrote to let me know her ‘fear’ for the columns that would be written by the Whisperer was that they would deal mainly with issues affecting Nigerian women. That has niggled at me for a long while. Firstly, an American or English writer does not apologise for talking about Manhattan or the East End. Why do I have to tread warily over discussing Surulere or the female trader at Idumota? Secondly, women are the same worldwide, basically. Language differs and the environment plays a part in outlook but the fundamentals are the same. The earth, more than ever, is one global community sharing ideals. Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Nigerian King of Afro-Beat in whatever form it can be found, had a song for that kind of thinking. What we need to do is blue-tooth some smartness around.

The Whisperer came out of Nigeria, and he’ll be looking at women from all over the world with the confident eye that the females of his land are some of the most intelligent and beautiful in spirit, that ever walked the face of the earth.

May their wisdom increase.