Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of February 22, 2009


I parked my bike at a petrol station a while back, waiting to meet up with the dulcet-toned Kaka, the female voice in D banj’s smash hit, ‘Fall in love’. It was getting late and I looked out again and again at the major road that passed in front of the station. And then my phone rang, it was her and she was already there but couldn’t see me. I looked around, saw her and waved, and she began to walk towards me.

I ride a rather large motorcycle, a Suzuki 750cc called a ‘power bike’ by the everyday man on the streets. It’s a wild beast, and when riding, you can feel it pulsing, barely restrained from tossing you into the nearest gully. In the very early days of riding (I was one of those foolhardy enough to buy a bike before learning to ride), it threw me into a couple of walls; I bruised a few ribs, injured a forearm, damaged a shin, had a few other ‘minor’ abrasions and many escapes from being maimed. I thereafter, learnt the wisdom of wearing protective gear. You know the sort that makes you think Spider Man just sped past; a proper helmet, not the paint-buckets that some commercial riders place on their heads, black leather gloves with hard plastic etched on their knuckles, a jacket with protection over the chest area, the elbows, the forearms, the shoulders, the spinal cord area; and to cap it all, shin/knee guards, just in case I had an uncontrollable urge to smash my knees into the tarmac.

That night, as I waited for Kaka, I was decked out in the full ‘combat’ gear I just described, a sight to put the fear of God into little children. Our eyes met and she began to walk towards me, smiling and waving as she came. I noticed another female walking rapidly behind her and gesticulating, trying to catch up. ‘Old school friend’, I thought, ‘and Kaka hasn’t noticed.’

Kaka reached me with a smile and said hello and right behind her was her ‘friend’. I showed Kaka the female trying to catch her attention, a female about five feet and three inches tall, dark skinned, passable in the looks department and Kaka turned but showed no recognition. “I’m Shadé”, our new acquaintance said to Kaka, “and I want to get to know you”. I watched in amazement; it was dark, a time when people were hurrying to the security of their homes, there I was, seated like the angel of death in all that gear and this female standing about two feet away, was talking to Kaka as if I was invisible. “I saw you on the road”, she said, “and I liked your hips”. I swear that was what she said. Kaka and I were struck dumb. The girl continued, “Don’t embarrass me; I just want to get to know you. All I want is your number”. Kaka finally found the words to answer, “But I don’t know you”, however our strange guest was undeterred. “It doesn’t matter, we can be friends”. Kaka said, “I’m with someone here”, pointing at me and our new friend replied, “Him?” I knew I had to be in the presence of an alien. I mean, who goes ‘Him?’ when someone points out you’re intruding on a private meeting. This girl didn’t even bat an eye-lid at what I felt was my imposing presence. She acted as if I was a part of the scenery, just an extension of the filling station’s gate or some insignificant speck.

I thought it was time to play the alpha-male part and I addressed our intruder. “Hello, you can see she’s with me.” The rabid girl looked at me and fearlessly asked, “You?” She looked again at Kaka, “Don’t embarrass me, just give me your number”. This conversation was carried out in normal tones as if she was asking what the time of day was. I didn’t know what to feel; anger, annoyance, amusement or worry. One thing I knew however was this girl couldn’t be in complete control of her senses. There had been some compulsion, a driving force that had made her continue to pursue Kaka even though she could tell that her quarry was meeting with someone else. I don’t know how many girls would cross four major lanes at night to search out someone of their own gender and then pointedly ignore the fact that their attention was unwelcome.

I knew it was time to leave so I told Kaka to ignore her. Our new friend stood, slightly embarrassed, and then made her way out of the station. We stood shell-shocked, Kaka and I, and slightly spooked, there haven’t been many moments in my life much weirder than that.

I am the Girl Whisperer, a legend in matters concerning females (let those who will bay at the moon in annoyance at that pronouncement feel free to do so) but that was the first time I would see female on female action at such close quarters. Maybe my Whispering abilities on gender-related issues is limited to those between men and women. My circuits seem to crash when a girl decides another has taken her fancy.

There have been many times I have stood beside good-looking females (Eat your hearts out, I know many of them) and members of my own gender have cast longing glances at them. These men have given looks of frank admiration, smirks, leers, winks and even lustful looks but no one has ever walked up as I stood, completely ignored me and tried to start a ‘friendship’ with the person I was with, not caring who or what the person was to me. It took a female who apparently was in heat, to give me perspective and remind me that there is another side, a side we rarely get to see but which exists nonetheless.

There’s no art to seeing the mind’s construction in the eye, Mr. Shakespeare said.

I agree.

Theatre@Terra presents 'Prison Chronicles', the story of a country...and its people...

Starring AMAA Award Winner Sam-Uche Anyamele, Future Award Nominee Nkiruka J. Osammor, Gbenga Adekanmbi, Sola Roberts Iwaotan, Olarotimi Michael Fakunle and Precious Anyanwu-Marcous.

Every Sunday in March 2009 at 3pm and 6pm

Written and Directed by Wole Oguntokun

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Girl Whisperer

as published in the Sunday Guardian

of February 15 2009

An Open Letter To Ariyike

You and I met under the strangest circumstances. There had been a strong possibility that you would not be there that day, and we would have missed each other, like ships that pass in the night. Your name would have been mentioned by your friends as an aside, and I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, not knowing the beauty that was in your heart and the graciousness of your person, never finding out that you and I were truly meant to meet.
I do not believe in coincidences, Ariyike. I do not believe it is accidental that you wake up to think of a fellow one morning, and then as you step out of your house, there he is, way down the street, walking towards you, waving. Some things are just meant to be. You and I were meant to meet and to enrich each other’s lives through the beauty of our acquaintance.
Your eyes were the first things I saw that day at dusk, warm and friendly, laughing eyes, cheerful eyes. You stood and took in the unfamiliar landmarks, and as you looked at the newness of it all, I looked at you. I stood, bemused for a few seconds after I met you, for who is it, that has ever seen true magic and not stood in awe?
And then gradually, I got to know you better and understood that there was a great heart to go with that lovely person, and that heart had been through great pain before, but had recovered, had regained strength and still dared to look life full in the face. You are a curious mix of suavity and naivety; in one moment, seeming to have great insight into the most complicated issues in the world and in another, almost childlike in your vulnerability. From the first few moments I heard you speak, I wanted to stretch my hands out, hold you close and protect you from the troubles of the world. I still hear your voice in the mornings, your eagerness to start the day, your enthusiasm and your purpose. I can still feel your charm as we set out for the day, on another journey, hoping, believing that only goodness will come out of our endeavours.
I hear the contentment in your voice in the evenings, the satisfaction you would show at having had a fulfilling day, of meeting your objectives and goals.
There are differences between us, Ariyike, for there are no two people born of women that are in perfect tandem, but even at the same time our similarities and shared outlooks are striking.
You are who you are, confident in your personality and your background, as even I am, but there is a meeting point for us both, and that place is one we found easily; a place where there is no lack of ease, where the sun shines gently on the lovely flowers in vast fields and where we can sit and talk and think and muse for hours on end, unafraid that life might throw us a curve ball. You have shown me the truth in the saying that there is beauty in this world, just by your very existence.
The world can be a complicated place, a place where terrible things happen, where there are no rules of fairness and where pain comes easily to the undeserving. This may be true but I ask you one thing. Do not forget me, Ariyike, no matter how far you go, no matter how many rivers you cross. Do not remove my thoughts from your heart no matter how many mountains you climb or hilltops you descend from. Remember the wonderful moments, the few snatched moments where you and I , both, would both sit and reflect. When you walk the sun-bleached corridors of the world, remember he whom you laughed with as you sought the shade then. And in the days when the sun will set early and you will walk on those dark, grey and lonely roads, head down to protect yourself from the biting cold and you pass the quiet streets lit with the soft yellow glow from overhead lamps, give thought to him, that laughed and sang by your side, and sometimes touched your soft hair in very quiet moments.
I will remember you no matter where fate takes me or the winds of time blow my ship’s sail towards. I will remember the beauty of your heart, the wondrous workings of your mind, your kindness and the greatness which accompanied you like a halo.
In our march through life, you will meet other people as I will. Promise me, that you will create a place for me in your heart that no one else can take. Keep a small place for me there, a place you can go to, when the dark storm clouds gather and you will be absolutely sure of shelter and safety. Promise you will remember me when the skies are grey and when the sun breaks through.
When my footsteps are heavy on the roads I must walk on here, I will bring up my sweet memories of you, smile a little to myself and walk with a much lighter step. In the bleakest situations, I will remember I have you, Ariyike, I will remember I have sat and communed with you, I will remember I have made you laugh and no one, no circumstances, will ever be able to take that from me.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Nigerian writers, at home and abroad, willing to enter their new works for the Annual Literary Prizes of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) may do so now.

Interested creative writers should send six copies (6) of their entries (specifying the category being entered for) alongside a covering letter to the General Secretary, Association of Nigerian Authors, Suite 67, National Theater Complex, Iganmu Lagos. The entries which can be for any of the following categories must not have been entered before and must have been published between 2008 and 2009:

ANA/Cadbury Prize for Poetry $1000
(Published works only)

ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for Women Writing N100,000
(Published works only)

ANA/NDDC Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry N100,000
(Published & unpublished works)

ANA/NDDC J. P. Clark Prize for Drama N100,000
(Published & unpublished works)

ANA/NDDC Ken Saro Wiwa Prize for Prose N100,000
(Published &unpublished works)

ANA/Chevron Prose Prize on environmental issues N100,000
(Published works only)

ANA/Jacaranda Prize for Prose Fiction N50,000
(Published works only)

ANA/Funtime Prize for Children’s Literature (prose)
(unpublished works only, Ages 8-15) N150,000
Winning entry to be published by sponsor (Funtime Publications ) with a sign on fee of N250,000

ANA/Atiku Abubakar Prize for Children’s Literature N100,000
(Published works and picture books only; Ages 0-7)

ANA/Lantern Books Prize for Children’s Fiction N100,000
(Unpublished works only, Ages 8 - 15)
Winning entry to be published by Lantern Books

ANA/JAMES ENE HENSHAW PRIZE FOR PLAYWRITING(unpublished playscripts only)N100,000.
Playwright of winning entry to work with an experienced director for the production of the play.

ANA/NECO Teen Author Prize (prose) N100,000
(Published & unpublished works)

See below for specific guidelines

ANA/Mazariyya Teen Author Prize (poetry) N50,000
(Published & unpublished works)

See below for specific guidelines


1. Entrants must be students in any secondary school in Nigeria

2. Entries must be a collection or a single story of between 25 – 40 pages for prose, or between 25 – 40 poems for poetry.

3. Illustration (optional).

4. Accompanying documents are:

(i)Letter of identification from school principals on letter headed papers bearing name, signature and stamp with the entrants’ two passport photographs, name, school, age (attach birth certificate) (II)entrants admission letters; (III)current cumulative record of entrants’ academic performance (Junior or Secondary School); (IV)letter of consent from parents; (V)entrants’ email addresses and phone contacts.

5. Unpublished entries (in six copies) should be properly bound.

Deadline for the receipt of all entries for the 2009 ANA Literary Prizes is Teusday 31st March 2009. A shortlist will be announced in the first week of October, 2009. Winners of the prizes will be announced at the Awards Dinner in Minna, Niger State during the 28th International Annual Convention of ANA in October ,2009.


General Secretary

26th January,2009.

Friday, February 13, 2009

laspapi is looking for material to continue writing the Penile Monologues (A working title)...

Any males (or females) with issues out there? (Excuse the Pun).

Please send mail to laspapi@yahoo.com

25 Random Things About Me.

(Was tagged on Facebook by Peju Alatishe. Thought I'd put it up here as well)

1. I don't drink tea or coffee or take custard, Quaker oats, macaroni, spaghetti.

2. I hate to carry long conversations in the mornings.

3. I'm a borderline tv/cinema addict.

4. I'll always read comics, I have a PS3 in my office.

5. EVERYTHING you really need to know, you learnt by age 12

6. I never smoked or drank.

7. Your blood are not those you are related to but those you would shed your blood for.

8. There is no one who knows what love is.

9. The world is full of talented, homeless people. Consistency is the key.

10. You'll succeed in what you're passionate about.

11. I have selective amnesia concerning sad things.

12. I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.A bird will drop frozen dead from its bough without ever having felt sorry for itself - D.H. Lawrence.

13. I love history.

14. Amazing things happen sometimes which make me feel I was predestinated for some things (Hitler must have felt the same)

15. As a child, I wondered why people weren't all made of shiny steel so they didn't have to suffer pain or die terrible deaths.

16. As an adult, I'm still puzzled.

17. Sometimes I wake up and without forethought tell myself I will cease talking to someone (Some unconscious computing?)

18. There is no such thing as spontaneous combustion. The underbrush was on fire all the while.

19. I wept like a child when I heard Rashidi Thanni, my friend from childhood who roamed the streets alongside me on dusty feet had died.

20. National Geographic and the History Channel are dangerous to the thinking Christian.

21. You're dead if you take life too seriously.

22. I'd like to retire to a comfortable, spacious house, with a grassy frontage, lots of books, a well-stocked fridge, soft music and a large tv.

23. Sometimes I buy stuff from people because I feel sorry for them.

24. My default setting is not to give beggars money.

25. The world has many good people. Sometimes you have to remind them of who they really are.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Empire Strikes Back

I'd wondered for eons how people in Europe and America get scammed by some of the stupid scenarios painted by advance-fee fraudsters. But finally, I wandered onto nneoma's blog and read of a 'victim' who scammed the scammer.

Read the hilarious (and long) story here.

The picture's of the 419er, 'Joe Eboh', who met his match in an English man.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Change-a-Life Foundation Launch

Lagos--February 6, 2009 -- The Change-A-Life project in partnership with the Lagos State Government has announced its plans to become formally institutionalized as Change-A-Life Foundation. The event will be televised live on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) on February 21, 2009 between 7pm -9pm.

The project, which is championed by Ms. Funmi Iyanda, began in 2002 with the support of the former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Sixty-eight people were awarded grants of N10,000 each for micro-businesses and educational projects.

Henceforth, Change-A-Life has been intervening in the lives of people when they need it most. One of the original beneficiaries of the scheme Ms. Sekinat Ayeyemi is now the current project co-coordinator. She says that “Change-A-Life is about people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. It’s about changing the face of humanity one person at a time.”

With the continued assistance of the Lagos State Government, the project has evolved into a family support scheme for exceptional but indigent young people who come from one-parent homes. Over the years, Change-A-Life has affected 150 children and over 3000 people with its scholarship and health care support services.

Speaking about her motivation for the project Ms. Iyanda remarked “we were just doing what we thought was right at the time--helping hardworking people who just needed a hand—it is really about human dignity.”

After six years of operating as an arm of New Dawn with Funmi Iyanda, Change-A-Life, is being launched as a full-fledged organization able to accommodate more deserving youth and families with exceptional potential.

The Lagos State Government in partnering with Change-A-Life continues to show its support and commitment to the less privileged in the state.

Change-A-Life calls on all Nigerians to support the project by volunteering their time, effort and financial contributions. “We are asking everyone to get involved, it takes only one person to change a life.”

For further information please contact

Eniola Harrison
Phone: 08057710212
Email: eniola.harrison@gmail.com

Thursday, February 05, 2009

laspapi was made a consultant to the British Council and the U.K.'s National Arts Theatre. It's in anticipation of the upcoming run of Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman. The play will be produced for a mimimum of three months in England, starting April.

Since Monday the 2nd of February, some members of the crew and I have been to Abeokuta (2ce), Ibadan, Oyo town and Badagry. We returned to Lagos at the end of each day.

The crew's met with Professor Soyinka in his Abeokuta home, shopped for enough clothes and props for the show to open a well-stocked store and generally learned much more about the Oyo (Yoruba) culture and the play itself.

I'm looking forward to the production. In the top picture, the London-based Nigerian choreographer, Peter Badejo (O.B.E) who's part of the show discusses with the director of the production, Rufus Norris, and Sabine LeMaitre.

In bottom picture, seated from left, Katrina Lindsay, production designer and 2008 Tony-Award winner of best costume designer for her work in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Olamipo Bello of the British Council, laspapi and Sabine LeMaitre try out their new hats purchased on the streets of Abeokuta