Monday, March 30, 2009

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Guardian

of Sunday March 29, 2009


In the banking industry, there is a phenomenon known as ‘Hurricane Cecilia’, and legend says this hurricane who heads one of the country’s mega banks hit the industry like a force of nature, hence the nickname; taking what was just an average outfit and turning it into an enviable organization.

Why does the Whisperer remember her? A while back, as I sat at a dinner organized for the patrons of the Muson Centre, the ‘Hurricane’ swirled in, surrounded by a phalanx of aides, secretaries and assistants. A noticeable thing was that all those who were with her were men; suit-wearing power-types, the kind that puts fear into you if you can summon the courage to ask a bank for a loan or if your loan return-date is overdue. All these men were kow-towing, showing the highest level of respect to her and one was carrying her handbag. Read the rest of the story before your feminism kicks in.

I’d never seen a man carry a woman’s handbag no matter how powerful the woman was, and an affluent-looking man at my own table shook his head and sighed at the spectacle without saying a word but his message was clear, ‘What has the world come to?’ He probably held his peace for a number of reasons; he owed the ‘Hurricane’ or intended to owe her. The first rule to attaining true affluence is knowing when to be quiet.

The Whisperer fancies himself a learned man yet that scenario gave food for thought. One of the most powerful women in the country had her bag carried by a man. Yet, that scene would not have disturbed the sensibilities of the men in that hall if it had been an affluent man’s briefcase carried by his female aide. Not one man would have blinked an eye-lid, but the reverse was played out and it irked many, but not this Whisperer. That day, the ‘Hurricane’ broadened my horizons; people who are powerful, no matter what gender, will have their briefcases and handbags carried. Finis.

So what is it about a powerful woman that might be difficult for the average man to handle? I have known a few personally and at work; Bolanle Austen-Peters, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, Alhaja Roli Raliat Daniju, Funmi Iyanda, Agatha Amata, The Ibru sisters, Mo Abudu, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal... The one underlying theme that runs through all is an air of confidence. A bravado that leaves the insecure... well... insecure. Without an exception, they are audacious and dare to go where many cannot. Generally, they are very likeable, caring people (there is an exception to every rule and this list has its own as well) but the sense of assurance they all have might be unpalatable to the insecure man.

I had a discussion with a friend one day, a hurricane in her own right. My conclusion was that an unsure man might be afraid of a woman like her. The sort that wakes you up in the morning to say she’s on her way to Abuja to sort out her work. All the notice you get is fifteen minutes. You cannot object, or do anything but mutter under your breath, because she was self-made before you met her and except you’re willing to meet all her needs, an unhealthy proposal at the best of times, you had better let her get on with her work.

It is a well-developed, secure man that can overlook this independence, a very secure man; or a kept one who dares not ask questions. However, there are men who understand it is only a matter of time until they’ll be where they want to be.

Men should take a hint from the Whisperer, that we all cannot have the same measure of success, at the same time. Some arrive at the gates of success before others. If your partner arrives there well before you do, don’t let it emasculate you. I learnt a long time ago, the truth of Henry Thoreau’s views on non-conformity. He said ‘the fact that a person does not dance at the same pace as his companions does not mean that there is something the matter with him. He might be listening to a different drummer’. We all dance our way to success in different ways, and therefore arrive at its doorposts at different times.

A man who allows a hurricane’s success disturb him will lose all sense of well-being and contentment. He will be unable to sleep and will treat each disagreement as a slight and personal insult. He will read meanings into the most trivial of things and banality will become his creed. You must remember that when envy sits on your heart in relation to matters concerning your partner, the relationship is finished. If you’d rather not have a hurricane as a partner, this is the time to look for the type without ambition you have always fancied. There is a type that does not push or add incentive to be a better person, one content to remain where she is for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, not only does this sort keep herself down, she weighs down whomsoever she is with too.

The Hurricanes themselves must be wary of what success turns them to. They say you never know which man is going to become an alcoholic or skirt-chaser until he has enough money. For many self-righteous men, it is a lack of funding that keeps them so. The same goes for women. You never know who’s going to become a harpy and a virago until she becomes successful. Then she looks at you down her nose and tells you where to get off.

The Whisperer, fortunately, has no single bone of envy in his entire frame. He may have an eye that speculates on the female form a bit longer than others do but envy is not a Whispering vice. We have all been given gifts, blessed with talent from birth in diverse ways. Take yours and run with it and create your own hurricane.


Pic 1- laspapi poses on a commercial motor-bike on the way to a meet on Victoria Island after leaving his car at another end of the Island. Traffic!!!

Pic 2- The back of a bus. Painting shows a weeded-out gun-slinger/armed robber/vagrant psychotic waving guns around as a woman flees.

Pic 3- English is not my mother-tongue.

Pic 4 - The Nigerian Police Force joins in the War Against Indiscipline.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

March 22, 2009

The Players Club

In affairs of the heart, there are many people all over the world who play and have been played. For the uninitiated, we shall define the player as a person who speaks of, and does loving things to his or her partner, whether prospective or substantive, without serious intentions. That last line means ‘whether the player has acquired the target or otherwise’. Pardon me, but the lawyer in me breaks out from time to time.

Players can be of either gender and of any age. The young male player may be a college student or a working professional. To this one, the world is his oyster. He is awakened to the immense possibilities females have to offer and he takes this opportunity with open arms. Excuse the pun. He may be brash or quiet, gentle or aggressive in his approach to life. This young male is the least skilled in the cadre of players but this is on account of age. There are some things that can only be learnt through experience. The female equivalent of this player might be good at ‘multi-tasking’ too. The Whisperer has met young women who have more than one partner and are able to keep the different parts of their lives separate. The undergraduate who has a boyfriend in school and is also dating a ‘man from town’ is a perfect example of this. Each partner hears her say ‘I love you’ and in some deep recess of her mind, she might mean it but her aim is to keep juggling for as long as she can, until the house of cards falls, if ever.

I once knew a girl whose boyfriend used to be a friend of mine. She was the one who first approached him, a fact the Whisperer has no problems with. There’s no problem with being direct if you want something. He was rather well known then and she picked her target well and they started a relationship which appeared to be going along well but there was this little problem. She was a student and he worked. He would say goodbye to her in her hostel at night, the ever-conscientious boyfriend and she would hit the night clubs a few hours after. As an aside, the night-club frequenters get there well after midnight. Even if you laid siege till midnight, you would never catch a partner who is inclined that way. He later found she was running other relationships simultaneously with his. He would go home and she would get into the car of another fellow and park in some quiet corner of the school. If you have a playing partner and you know in your heart (we always do but refuse to face up to it) that the stories you are told, don’t fit together, take a long walk away from the relationship. We make excuses all the time for those we think we love. My friend found out of how he had been deceived when his girlfriend fell out with a female friend of hers. That female told him things about his girlfriend that made him physically ill. It is important we choose the right partners.

Just in case there are men reading this article who think females are the only ones capable of deceit, the field is an open one in this matter.

A female undergraduate (It’s undergraduate day today) met this nice young man who was home on holiday from England where he lived. He told her he loved her and all the other things men say to women. On one of his visits to the country, he told the girl, who loved to boast of their relationship, that he had to go to his hometown. Loving girl accepted his story and sent him along his way with flowery kisses. The next Saturday, as she and her friends sat in her room listening to the radio, they heard someone call into the radio station to wish a couple getting married that day, congratulations. It was her boyfriend’s name that was called. He had come into the country to marry and the undergraduate was a plaything for him.

The girl who had been played, fainted, and her friends had to revive her. But they say ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ The scorned girl and her friends plotted against the day the fellow might return to see her. He must have had some kind of active sixth sense because he never showed up again. But a close friend of his, who was married, did. And the girls exacted their vengeance on that one. There are few things more dangerous than a cloud of girls in their hostel. They are in their element and you might lose your dignity if you fall into the wrong hands.

So they cornered the friend of the player who swore he knew nothing of the evils his mate had committed. The girls slapped him around a bit, swore they would openly disgrace him and then made him pay a ransom for his release after detaining him for more than four hours. He staggered out of the female hostel at about midnight, his wallet considerably lighter. And then remembered he had another hurdle to face, his wife waiting at home, wondering where he was. So he rubbed his hands on the earth around him to give a dirt, soiled look, deflated his own spare tire and when he got home, told his wife he had lost a tire on a bridge and had not been able to replace it for a long while.

There are times when a player gets played. When a person who feels he has life exactly where he wants it, underestimates a partner. I had a relative who felt he’d found a girl he could walk all over. She was about two decades younger and professed her love and her willingness to serve him forever. So he invited her to England where she was meant to be his wife and she took off once she landed on those shores. Apparently she had been biding her time. I felt pain on his behalf too and wondered why he didn’t see it coming.

The Whisperer assures you that if you look closely, you will know if a person truly loves you. The eyes never lie.


Best available tickets usually £30, just £10.
When booking on 020 7452 3000 quote 'Travelex' or enter promo code '1753' online. Valid for performances between 1 and 9 April.
Tickets are subject to availability

Friday, March 20, 2009

Death and the King’s Horseman

By Wole Soyinka

Nigeria 1943. The King is dead, and tonight his Horseman must escort him to the Ancestors. Set against the conflict of indigenous and invader, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s extraordinary play uses the Yoruba custom of ritual suicide and the transition from the living to the dead to examine the power of human will. This vibrant production boldly celebrates the rhythm of Yoruba customs through dance, drumming and storytelling.

For those of you who care to remember, laspapi was the consultant to the National Theatre (UK) Crew (consisting of Rufus Norris, Katrina Lindsay, Javier De Frutos, Peter Badejo and Sabine Lemaitre) which came down to Nigeria to research this Soyinka play. The crew and laspapi travelled to Ibadan, Oyo town, Abeokuta (to shop and see Soyinka), Badagry and the more ethnic Lagos Island markets.

The play will continue at the Olivier Hall of the National Theatre in London until May. For the Nigerians (and friends of Nigeria) who miss the ol' country, this is a must-see. It promises to be a different experience.

Check out exclusive rehearsal photos:

From 1 April

Travelex £10 tickets.

Monday, March 16, 2009

CNN's Lagos
When CNN Lied


Wole Oguntokun

published in the Guardian of Monday, March 16 as 'CNN documentary misses new face of Lagos'

I was on my way out of the house two mornings ago when I heard a reporter on the Cable Network News (CNN) mention ‘Lagos’. I stopped to listen. It was a story on the worst places for expatriates to work in the world, and apparently, Lagos topped the list. The report was based on Business Week’s findings and other places mentioned included Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and some city in India but we had pride of place as the very worst host of all the world’s countries to expatriates.

The reporter, some fellow whose name I can’t recall at the moment, told the CNN desk anchor he was trying to reach an expatriate in Lagos who would talk about his experiences here. He didn’t forget to throw in a jibe when he said the difficulty in reaching that expatriate confirmed his theory about the state of affairs in Lagos. According to the reporter, the issues in Lagos included severe crime, horrendous traffic and many other major problems.

He finally got through to the Lagos expat and it turned out to be Roland Ebelt, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company, makers of Coca-Cola, an expat who had been resident here for eight years. Roland Ebelt didn’t put a foot wrong once, saying the city wasn’t as bad as some painted it, and he actually had had a good time, majorly, for almost a decade. When asked what his greatest challenge in Lagos was, Ebelt said it was the housing issue. Now, that made me smile. Apparently the M.D. of Coca-Cola has difficulty with finding a home. Would that be not finding a house with Olympic –sized swimming pools?

As the CNN report on Lagos went on, pictures of the city were shown, overhead shots of cluttered-up roads, clumps of bananas in busy markets and hundreds of dirty, cracked feet, “moving in despair.” When skyscrapers were shown, the lenses of the camera had heaps of refuse in the foreground. One can only make wild guesses as to the underlying reasons for this approach to the issues in Lagos. To add some spice, a shot of some East African city was added. How did I know that wasn’t Lagos? All African faces might look the same to the CNN editor who spliced the tape, but we know who’s who when we see them. The skin hue and shape of head were East African, the landmarks in that particular shot were not recognizable to any Lagosian and the vehicles had registration numbers alien to Nigeria. Not the most intelligent piece of editing I’ve seen in my life.

I’m no expatriate but I should give CNN, Business week and their employees a crash course on Lagos. The city is divided into three islands adjacent to each other and the mainland. All expatriates are based on two of the islands; Ikoyi and Victoria Island and they rarely leave those places. Those two islands contain some of the finest homes and landscapes on the continent. Expatriates in Lagos live in paradise. The foreigner, particularly the Caucasian-type, is treated like a King here; by the law enforcement agencies, the citizens and in the market place. The respect given to the expatriate borders on subservience and this phenomenon arising from some of the most street-savvy people in the world would be a worthy study for sociologists.

It would be a bad argument and an immature one, to point back to CNN’s home country and say, ‘and you too’ and that land has many of its own “and you toos” but Lagos should be painted in its own colours, and not through the eyes of prejudice. The traffic in Lagos, if any these days, is caused by the government’s on-going renovation of old roads and bridges and the construction of new ones. The huge swathes of new roads all over Victoria Island (where the Expats live and work)is a good example.

The congestion of Oshodi market shown in the CNN report is now no more, cleared of all impediments to traffic by the authorities. Objectivity requires that you tell a story as it is. A report deliberately skewered to tell the reporter’s own bias is dangerous and makes one wonder at the truthfulness of many of the stories told.

Severe crime directed at expatriates is almost non-existent. Which criminal is going to come against the heavily-fortified and well-guarded work-places and homes of the expatriates in Ikoyi and Victoria Island? The CNN camera should have shown some of these homes and estates. The expatriate in Lagos moves off the islands only with armed police guards. Some have been known to drive against traffic (illegally) on one-way streets, something impossible to do in their homelands, but there’s very little you cannot get away with here if you are an expat. Maybe that approach to the report would have been a better one. A friend once refused to give way to an ‘expat vehicle’ driving down the wrong way with an armed escort, telling the ‘expat’, “you do things here you could never do in your home-country and malign this land when you leave.”

For the first time, I truly, fully understand the purpose of the cable television programme, ‘Studio 53’, showing the best this continent has to offer. Time after time, I have seen wondrous, beautiful places in Africa, Lagos inclusive, on Studio 53; things that would not make ‘a good report’ for CNN, and I’d rather no one gave me the example of its ‘Inside Africa’. If we don’t tell our stories, CNN will not.

The Lagos state government shouldn’t take CNN’s lack of objectivity and this rejoinder as proof of how well they are doing. As an example, every time I speed past middle-aged street cleaners on major express-ways and bridges, sweeping the asphalt with local brooms, I cringe. That is hard, back-breaking concentration camp labour, and no one does that anymore. Apart from Lagos. Get vehicles that can sweep the roads so these people are not put at risk daily.

There’s still some way to go and as you can see now, the whole world is watching.

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of March 15, 2009

Hakuna Matata

In 1980, a Kenyan Hotel band, ‘Them Mushrooms’ released that very popular song, ‘Jambo Bwana’ (Hello Mister), which had the phrase, Hakuna Matata, repeated in its refrain. In 1994, the phrase was given worldwide recognition through the movie, the Lion King, and in it, two characters, Timon and Pumbaa encourage the lion cub, Simba, to forget the worries of the past and live for the future.
All over the world, in every doctrine and creed and in most major religions, there is a matching philosophy, one that says ‘Don’t worry, be happy’, sometimes misapplied by those who might possess a disconcerting lack of ambition but always used by those who believe the ugly past should stay where it is.

There are other terms, ‘no sweat’, ‘no worries’, ‘ba wahala’ which have the same meaning. Bobby McFerrin’s famous song goes, ‘Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style; ain’t got no girl to make you smile...don’t worry, be happy’. The public speaker, Mike Murdoch has been credited with a line that lends weight to this world view. The line- ‘Don’t let the pain of your past, poison your future’.
There are many, the walking wounded, suffering from events earlier on in their lives, and even though they are in their thirties, forties and fifties, still bear the scars of careless statements and actions made by others when they were in their teens.

My dream girl when I was about thirteen and fourteen was called Rosemary (and here’s an eye-opener for the parents in denial reading this, your thirteen year old boy is dreaming of girls). I have no idea what she looks like now but I recall then, that I had this huge crush on her and would wave shyly sometimes when she passed. I stayed in the area of Surulere in Lagos then known as Shell Club and she, in one of the red-bricked blocks of flats off Bode Thomas Street.

One day, the greatest honour I could think of was bestowed upon me. My true love (even if she didn’t know it) invited me to her party; I’ve forgotten what the occasion was. I brought out my party outfit (at that age, you had to have a party outfit) and went along with my more socially savvy friends, the brothers Ayo and Segun Idowu. So there I was in my jeans (I suspect they were bell-bottomed) and a matching jeans waistcoat). Okay, you can laugh now, the Whisperer wasn’t born perfect, perfection came over time. So we came into this party and ayo and segun dispersed, leaving me to mingle as best as I could. I tried to be cool and unobtrusive at the same time. In my mind, Rosemary had recognized the chemistry between us and we would profess our undying love to each other. And then she spotted me, and walked from across the room with a wide smile on her face. What she said then, ranks among the ten most incredible lines I have heard till this moment, decades after. This girl who was my very heartbeat said, ‘It’s good to see you. Just wait a bit, someone your own height will come in soon.’ I wasn’t very tall as a thirteen year old and like other teens who suffered that ailment; it was a serious issue for me. But hearing my Helen of Troy say it, was a blow lesser people would never have recovered from. I managed to make it out of the party a few minutes later, without my friends and a humbled man (or boy) choose what your preference is; and went home to sleep.

Thereafter, I learnt the power of Hakuna Matata. You do not have a choice in the matter. You may be knocked down by circumstances beyond your control but you choose to stay down, roll in the mud or to get up. Those who will last the whole ten rounds in the fight will themselves to get up. Sometimes, the best revenge is living well. Hakuna matata should be your clarion cry. Be like the donkey that was thrown into a pit because his owner felt there was no use for him. People would come and throw rubbish in the pit but the donkey would shake it off, stomp on it, and rise a little higher. Someday, the donkey found the rubbish thrown into the pit had become a platform which allowed him to jump out of the pit and make his own way in life. Hakuna Matata.

Everybody is somebody’s fool. Someday, and it is inevitable if it hasn’t happened to you yet, someone will make a fool of you in the issues of the heart. This person will turn you into a blubbering child. You must remember one thing; if you do not pick yourself up, no one else can. It’s essential that we all remember, ‘It’s not who you love, it’s who loves you’.

Learn to laugh at yourself and the pain will go away. There have been other girls along the way, those who didn’t believe. Oh, but they do now, how they do now. It doesn’t matter if no one else has faith in you; the most important thing is to remember the lines of the desiderata that say you have a right to exist, to be happy, and to succeed.

Today, I cast my mind back to all those who had no faith, and I smile to myself and say, ‘if only you could see me now’. As the song goes, “Hakuna Matata! It means no worry for the rest of your days, it’s our problem-free philosophy”

I would like to wish you a future that is ruled by this philosophy, a future where you learn the ability to shake off disappointments like a duck shakes water off its back. I wish you the strength to rise after painful encounters, smile a little and say, ‘that was a mistake, but I’ll get on with my life now, being careful never to walk that path again’.

It’s a beautiful world out there in many ways. Let’s have fun in it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of March 8, 2008


The title, Deep Throat, will bring back many memories to a lot of people, depending on your inclinations or former social habits. For those who are risqué and once walked on the ‘dark side’, it instantly brings to mind a movie that was made for adults only many years ago and simulated the senses in a manner many churches and mosques would consider quite offensive.

For the politically savvy, it recalls the fall of an American President, Richard Nixon, and the FBI deputy director who leaked his wrongdoings to the press (Nixon had been part of an enterprise that ordered recording devices be secretly placed in the offices of his political rivals and ‘Tricky Dicky’ as the more ungracious called him, had fallen when the deputy director code-named ‘Deep Throat’ clandestinely approached two writers for the Washington Post with this story of Nixon and his team’s illegal eavesdropping)

Nixon resigned and his political career went into a spiral. As an aside, forty years later, it would be impossible for a Nigerian President to be forced to hand in his resignation because he ‘listened in’ into his opponents conversations. Pause and think.

So back to the whispering. ‘Deep throat’ in this case is a spin-off and wild variation of the latter example I wrote; the hound you have a relationship with and then separate from, who tells the world real and imagined things about you, goes to places you couldn’t have envisaged and spreads wild tales, twisting some to suit his or herself. You have to be careful of this sort, for only gnarled and bent trees grow on the sun-blasted landscapes that are the minds of these kind of people.

We’ve all read stories of beauty queens who forgot their ‘first love’ and greatest supporter when ‘they ascended the throne’. Many of these scorned boyfriends who were there when the queen was still a gawky female are unable to accept their relegation to the backseats. They watch their former girlfriends hobnob with the rich and famous and then something snaps. From nowhere, boyfriend becomes a wild beast, cross-eyed with rage, decaying matter on his breath and then he loses his mind. The man develops a ‘scorched earth’ policy like some armies do, burning all vegetation that might serve as food and shelter for the former love. They tell stories; stories of forged academic results, of pregnancies, hidden children, drug addiction, wild nights, secret videos and the queen comes crashing down before the might of a deep throat.

You would think that with all the horrific examples that abound, people would learn; but no, when we ‘fall in love’, we expose every facet of our heart, and we often pay a heavy price. Let’s do some simple mathematics. How many people do you know that have found permanent love in their first relationships? How many in their second, or third? It takes a while (and there are some who go on to forty or fifty. It’s alright, you can’t shock me. I’m the Whisperer)

Now if the probability is uncertain as to whether your relationship will be a permanent one, why would you unearth issues that might affect your very life if placed in the wrong hands? There is nothing wrong with sharing your heart with your ‘love’. Just don’t share what might cripple you for life if the relationship goes sour.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who swore to a man she loved that they’d go to the ends of the earth together and he believed her. But she was very disrespectful, and the man chose to go his way. She refused to accept this and went everywhere; to his family, his office, his friends, spreading horrible tales while all he wanted was to be left alone. For many reasons, many people lack the ability to walk away with dignity and their heads held high. Another went to church to share information on another friend and would stand by the roadside when the fellow would pass and regale complete strangers with tales of his infamy. The men got them both to stop, because information sharing is a two-way thing and nothing works like an implied threat of counter-exposure from an angry ex-partner’s mouth.

The Whisperer also wishes to tell a truth. It’s not everyone you meet that is sound, mentally. Sometimes, it’s best for you to let people sort their issues before you embark on a voyage of love with only the two of you on a boat with an out-of order rudder and no land in sight.

I made the mistake of getting close to the mother of all disturbed people years ago. When I saw her for her true-self, I backed away rapidly but she pursued with ferocity of the kind only seen on the Animal Planet channel. Her stories about me were as crazy as they were wild and she went everywhere I had ever told her of. The Whisperer is notoriously quiet about himself, but this is because of these strange beings; it’s not everyone who walks on two feet that’s human. She found out she really knew nothing of me and the madness receded for want of fuel.

You must remember no one can hang you for keeping quiet. You can be loving and caring and share many intimate moments, but you must protect yourself until you know the person in your life well. People change as we do too and you might regret a moment of rashness after the dust settles.
However, there are the thoroughbreds that you need not be overly wary of. They aren’t those who tell you they’d never drag your name or reputation through the mud but those whose very natures abhor that kind of situation. There are male and female friends that I know who would die rather than subject themselves or others to behaviour so degrading but while you search out these people in your own life, be careful. Don’t go into any situation without checking out the possible costs to your person and reputation.

Only a fool tests the depths of water with both feet, is what they say. I believe.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

of March 1, 2009

The Millionaires Club

There are very few people who haven’t, at some time or the other, sat to ponder on why a partner who professes to love one so much, does so. We beat ourselves around the head. “Yes, she loves me, but is it because I’m comfortable?” “What if I didn’t own this car, or live in this area of town, or have this great job?” “Would this guy be crazy about me if my father wasn’t the Ambassador to Spain? (For the sake of those who might start calling to know the Whisperer’s connection to the diplomat just mentioned, the Whisperer randomly picked a nice-sounding job. He has no idea if Shrek is the Nigerian Ambassador to that country or Rafiki of “The Lion King”)

We get used to being admired for what we have become, unable to separate this from who we are, and sometimes, uncertainty creeps in, and in quiet moments, when the sounds of the television sets are muted and the car radio is silent, we ask ourselves what people really see in us. The beauty queen who has a host of admirers and tells her partner he should thank his lucky stars he has her, lives a life that some would term superficial. The Whisperer personally thinks good-looks are accidental; there are millions of very good looking people everywhere. It takes no skill, industry or brain-work to be born good-looking. What will often separate one from the rest of the pack is the power of the human mind and its level of development. We were at a surprise birthday party for a Nigerian television show-host when the Whisperer struck up a conversation with a ravishingly beautiful ex-beauty queen (It wasn’t Agbani Darego. That female can’t put a foot wrong in my opinion)

So this beauty queen and I got talking and the long and short of it was that she expected her husband or future partner, whoever the fellow would turn out to be, to take care of all her needs. She didn’t expect to ever work (or play, if you’re a dramatist) She was taken aback when I insisted both partners in a relationship should contribute to the home no matter how imbalanced the contributions are. It was apparent she had visions of lounging on couches fanning freshly painted, manicured fingernails for the rest of her life. She’s probably found someone to meet her needs, men are like that.

That original member of the Beatles, Paul McCartney, felt he had found true love again after his first wife and best friend, Linda died. He married the ex-beauty queen, who was meant to fill up the space his first wife left, but soon after, they had a fall out, and the new Mrs McCartney went to court to ask for a very large lump of his money and a few houses of his, to boot. I have no intention of causing Mr. McCartney’s former wife or her admirers any pain, but it has probably crossed the minds of observers that Sir Paul’s money might have been an underlying reason (no matter how minor) for that marriage. Those who make prospective partners sign pre-nuptial agreements might insist they have a defence in this case.

This brings us back to our subjective definitions of love. Do our partners love us for who we are, for who we’ve become or for our potential? Do they love us for our family background or for our ability to propel them on the paths they have chosen to walk on through life? On the other hand, aren’t these external things; our potential, jobs, careers and vocations, financial clout, family pedigree an essential part of who we are? Can we separate these elements from our persons?

“Love me for who I am”, many of us like to say. Don’t love me for material gain or my ability to promote your standing in society. How do you perform this surgical operation, the separation of a man from what he has become. A father grits his teeth and with shoes and clothes practically falling apart, sends his child to one of the best schools in the world. That education becomes an integral part of the person you are, inseparable, and some people will love you for it (and for that smooth accent they have difficulty in placing when you talk)

Realists will argue that people must love you for something! They will say love cannot exist in a vacuum and they might have a good point. If people will love one person for his or her ability to sing, why can’t they love another because of that person’s ability to earn money? In this area of ‘love’, there is no black or white.

I knew of a young man once, who would shake his head from time to time and say he was glad he was not of wealthy stock because the scions from great homes and families would never be able to tell if their partners truly cared for them. The problem he had was the possibility the love shown might be based on more earthly things by the more pragmatic suitor. When I pointed out to him that his own success with the ladies might just be because he appeared to have great potential to become a financial success in the future, he was struck dumb for a short while.

At any time, people are caring for each other for a variance of reasons. There has to be something. An “I just love him” does not suffice to make a relationship. Bill Clinton told his wife at their first meeting he was going to become the President of the United States. That kind of confidence was great incentive to love the smooth-talking law student. He did become President which should make us commend Hilary Clinton’s ability to decipher nonsense from straight talk. I mean, how many people announce they are going to become President? Everyone has done that at least once.

As an aside, I’m going to build the African version of 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. Love me now to avoid the rush.