Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FLOATING



It is here on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital city that the perfect metaphor for how you feel presents itself to you. It is dancing delicately on the edges of this almost-still body of water called Usuma dam: empty plastic bottles and cans of soft drinks, polythene bags, disposable cups and plates, the condom wrap torn in a way that you think suggests urgency, a lone leg of worn out slippers… 

You say it to yourself: flotsam. But then you think, flotsam is debris and wreckage from a ship so technically the detritus from people picnicking at the dam isn’t flotsam. You like the word, so you use it anyway. Flotsam, you say out loud. That is how you feel these days, how the city makes you feel. Floating, aimlessly in a place with no soul, no flow, no character to its movement. Flotsam, because you feel like you have fallen off the grid and can’t say what you have been doing here for six years. Flotsam, because much of the wealth this city boasts of, feels like the debris from a country wrecked by open theft and corruption- the cars, the vulgar mansions, the money. 

You have always wanted to climb the hills around the dam but they always looked too steep from the ground, not something that any of the shoes you had could execute. You have always skirted about the hills, enough to contemplate its magnificence but not enough to experience its beauty, the view, the thin freshness that you imagine the air up there must have. This is perhaps another metaphor for how you have lived, for too long. Skirting, never really going the whole way. 

Skirting. Like when a lovely journalist you barely knew asked you to be spontaneous and come with her on a road trip and you said you’d think about it. You packed a bag but thought, what if I have an accident, there are always accidents on Nigerian roads, what if there are people killing people on the roads, these things happen. Skirting. Enough thought about being spontaneous to contemplate what nice things could happen, enough to pack a bag and feel the rush of blood to your head, but not enough to leave the house. 

The dam is lovely on a weekday because there is no noise or activity, no lovers looking for a quiet place to fondle, nothing to upset the balance of things. Only glossy colorful wild lizards that you think might be five-lined skinks with bright blue tails and olive to brown striped bodies everywhere. You hope for a snake or a monkey. You walk gently trying not to scare all the things creeping and crawling because you realize you are in their space. Sometimes the city does this to you- makes you forget whose space you are in. Or maybe it is Nigeria, where personal space means nothing, where a person can start screaming in the name of Jesus in a crowded bus, or your neighbor who is fasting can play Quranic recitations loud enough to give you a headache. You walk trying not to upset the balance of things.

You stare at an empty bottle of wine, Don Morris, between two large rocks up on the side of one of the large hills. You imagine two people, or three, sharing a bottle, passing it around, laughing, maybe smoking- you look around for cigarette butts. Maybe the rain has washed it away. You are careful not to leave any stories behind in the form of a bottle or disposable cup. You think these bits of trash upset the balance of things.

Finally you decide, after torturing yourself with thoughts of all the things that could happen- you sliding down a slippery part of the rock and scraping all the skin off your body, you tripping and plunging down to the rocks below or just losing breath and collapsing after the reaching the top- finally you decide that you are tired of skirting; tired of being afraid to die, tired of feeling like flotsam, tired of being afraid to upset the balance of things in your life.

You start climbing. Slowly at first, crouching, walking sideways, gauging the steepness and then increasingly, more confidently, taking bigger strides, straightening. Halfway up and panting, you realize that most of the steepness was imagined. 

At the peak, you find it all undisturbed. No debris. Even more five-lined skinks. And air, the quality of which you cannot remember breathing. Before this city hardened you, you might have cried. This is beautiful you say to yourself but suddenly ‘beautiful’ seems like such a bland word to describe this. You stop trying to describe. And just take it all in. 

You have not just discovered the meaning of life and yes, your problems will still be there when you go back down. But in this moment you feel many things shatter inside you- walls and fears. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of death - for now. In your head you go, if ever I want to kill myself, I know just where to come. You mean it in a nice, this-place-is-a-good-place-to-die way. 


And as you climb down you think, smiling, of all the things you need to do which will upset the balance of things, but which will stop you from just floating, aimlessly: write more about your dead brother, trust someone, love without fear.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

HOW TO ENJOY NIGERIA IN 2017 - A recession manual


Nigeria has gone through a rough patch in 2016. We officially entered a recession and experienced one of the worst shortages of foreign exchange. The Naira took many hits and plunged far below the dollar. A lot of expectations have not been met and many that I know have experienced difficult moral situations trying to respond to actions of the current government. It would be a shame to go through the same in 2017 so I have come up with a little manual on how to enjoy the new year with no stress or moral dilemma. 

This recession manual is about saving. The recession means that our government no longer has the spending power it used to have. It also means that there will be less money that will trickle down from the biggest spender in Nigeria. Saving and cutting down on expenses can save you a lot of stress. Here are ideas on what you can cut out of your life for peace of mind in 2017:

  1. Side lovers: See, I am not here to judge anybody. It is your life and only you can decide how you want to live it. But facts are facts. Side lovers are a major source of expenses and many people, men especially, do not realize how much more they spend with each additional lover they have. You can negotiate with your main partner or wife. You can say no to them especially when you have been together for long. But once that new side lover opens their mouth to ask for something, you are falling over yourself (like investors falling over themselves to come into Buhari’s Nigeria) to please them. It is not your fault. It is nature of forbidden love (or sex). Consider sticking to your wife, girlfriend or partner in 2017 and see how much you will save on movie tickets, popcorn, data for Skype or FaceTime, nails, weaves, clothes, gifts, and even fuel. As one who has recently become monogamous, I can swear by this and how much savings is involved in it. I do not know how you are going to break off from them — as a child of God that is not my area of specialty. Some people I know have pretended that they found Jesus and told their lovers that they didn’t want to keep living in sin. Others I know have told their side lovers (especially ones they were financing) that they have become bankrupt and those side lovers who were there mostly for the money disappeared. The danger of this is that if you have a side lover that has caught deep feelings, then this excuse cannot work. In that case, I sympathize with you.
  2. Pretentious fruits: This is a thing in the big cities — Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt. Seedless grapes, kiwi and the like which are imported into Nigeria, cost a fortune. These pretentious fruits are hardly even ever fresh because of the distance they have had to travel. Pretentious fruits are often involved in (a) above because one often needs this with side lovers. If you cut out side lovers it is easier to convince your main partner or wife that these overpriced fruits are not really necessary and that it is far better to buy whatever fruit is in season in Nigeria. Fruits in season are fresher and often come from around, so you will be buying healthy fruits but also patronizing Nigerian farmers which will in turn grow our economy. #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira
  3. Weddings: If you have done or helped organize [or even just attended] a wedding in Nigeria, you will agree with me that if you are on a budget, no matter what you do, people will still find something to complain about. Unless you give out iPads and Smartphones at your wedding, people will complain about the color of your jollof rice [and say you were stingy with the tomatoes even now that the price of tomatoes has dropped] or the fact that the meat was too tough or too tender [hence overcooked or already going bad when it was boiled], or that the DJ was probably a jealous ex of the bride [and thus played the worst music to ruin her wedding], or that the takeaway packs were too small. Something. So don't stress yourself. Also, if you have been invited to a wedding, do not feel pressured to buy the too-expensive ashoebi. Buy the couple a gift and if they are really your friends, they will forgive you for not being able to indulge in their extortion. 
  4. Walking and car pooling: I know how the people most ashamed and tormented by signs of poverty, are poor people. Poor people are afraid to be seen trekking. Poor people are afraid to ask for things, before somebody will abuse them and call them long throat. Rich people are not afraid to take a walk. I remember once I was taking a walk some people saw me and said poverty was worrying me and I was trekking up and down in Abuja. So I stopped taking walks pending when I would become rich. That has not yet happened but I am trusting in my prayers this holiday season. My point is, don't be like me. Sometimes, walk. It is healthy. And you get to see your city in a way most people never see the city. If you have a car, sometimes see if someone is going your way so they don't have to use their car so that they will also feel free to offer you a ride another time. That way you cut costs. 
  5. Beans: Look, I know the stigma that beans has. I know that if you have visitors in Nigeria and you offer them beans, that will be the beginning of foul rumors about how you have fallen from grace and you are so poor that you offer visitors beans. But see, beans is nutritious. It is tasty. It stays in the stomach for a long time. It is cheap. There is no plastic beans. Don’t allow the devil use rumor mongers to stop you from saving money. God will judge rumor mongers. Beans also helps with weigh loss if you eat more of it and cut out the heavy carbohydrates and starch. Just make sure to balance with vegetables that are in season. 

I pray that as you make those phone calls cutting off those side lovers, God will meet you at the point of your needs in 2017 and cushion the effect of the recession. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

HOW TO SHOW YOU LOVE THE PRESIDENT (AND BY EXTENSION, NIGERIA)


There is no greater subject to write about than to write about love. Because really, there is no greater thing that one can do but be in love and show this love through deeds and words. In one of the holy books it is written: “The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love the God whom he has not seen.” I know the President is much more than just our brother but this applies perfectly. 

Love does not keep account of injury. However before we talk of injury I must state that with our president we live in a post-injury world. His extreme integrity makes this so. The president is beyond reproach and anyone who tries to cast aspersions on his good name must be deemed our enemy or at the very least an agent of our enemies. The constitution may call him the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and make the buck stop at his table. However, if it is a bad buck, we must intercept it and stop it from reaching his good and clean table. Because he does not deserve to be associated with those who spoil his name even if those people are his friends or employees. 

To show you love the president carefully analyze every bad policy, gaffe, embarrassment and impropriety of government to make sure that you find the exact person responsible. It does not matter that political appointees work for the president and that for as long as they continue to work for him after their impropriety, this might seem like a vote of confidence. Sometimes, someone you are confident in can be involved in wrongdoing that has nothing to do with you. I had confidence in a certain priest who was popular growing up, until it turned out he was sleeping with our neighbor’s wife. It didn’t turn me into a bad person. Just a disappointed person. 

To show you love the president do not distract him with pressure to investigate a certain minister who is said to have financed a large part of the campaigns. These are mere rumors. Dangerous rumors even. He might have been a very good and frugal politician who knew how to save. Also his wife might have been running a huge poultry farm like that of our former president and this may have made them very rich — rich enough to contribute billions to the presidential campaign. And really this is none of your business. Love does not keep account of wrong. In fact even if this rumored minister is corrupt, it is not the president who is corrupt and he has no responsibility in this. Think of Buhari like that my neighbor whose wife was sleeping with the priest. If anything, we should feel sorry for him and his good name. 

To show you love the president, distance him from his appointees who have actually been discovered stealing money. Even if those appointees work closely with him. Sometimes in your office you will have a secretary who committing crime on the weekend to augment his or her income. Would it be fair to blame you for the crimes of this secretary? If your secretary chooses to come to Abuja on the weekend to be a sex worker or grass cutter is that your fault? Then it should be no different for the president’s secretary. I am not saying the president’s secretary is a sex worker or a grass cutter or anything like that. I don't even know if he can still have sex. I am just saying that we must love the president enough to have confidence in those in whom he has confidence. In fact, let us assume (without conceding) that the president has a secretary who is a thief on the weekends, our love for the president would make us shield the president from any blame. The worst case scenario for those who love the president is that they should be upset at the president’s secretary for making the president look bad. Because you can have thieves led by a man of integrity. (But like I said, none of this is the case.) 

To show you love the president you must not blame him for the violence that occurs when the army kills unarmed civilians whether they are Shiites or Biafra protesters. We know he is nominally the commander-in-chief bla bla bla, however he is not the commander-in-chief of the guns that individual soldiers hold. If they go out and kill people while the president is talking to his wife about his daughter’s not-so-royal wedding, how is this the president’s fault? And shouldn't we ask those dead people what they did to provoke soldiers in the first place? We all know you should not provoke soldiers. Even those Amnesty International people who write about human rights and all know this. Love for the president will make us protect him from any allegation. 

Love for the president is love for Nigeria. And if the economy is doing bad in spite of all of his integrity we must trace the root of the problem: the last president. If there is inflation, we must direct the blame at the last president whose poor handling of our commonwealth led to this crisis. And if children are starving to death in the dozens every day, we must wrap that blame in foil paper and yellow-and-black polythene bag and drop it in the lap of the former president who caused the war in the first place. Some times in spite of your best efforts, you cannot fix a broken mirror. But you can still appreciate a broken mirror. 

Love for our president will make us not remind him of his campaign promises because we know that his party was responsible for those promises not him. He is not God that can take all our problems away. He is only godly. He is our president, who can do no wrong, who sometimes may have corrupt people lurking around his office, who may have relatives that whisper in his ear, but who will not let any of these things affect his integrity. And like the man who has a priest sleeping with his wife, we must say only comforting things to him. 

We do all these because if we have not loved the president whom we can see, how can we claim to love God whom we cannot see?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

REMOVING BATS ONCE AND FOR ALL


The ugly, diminutive crocodile that governed the crocodile quarters, Sir Na, had had enough. He was dealing with a fellow crocodile wanting to remove him as crocodile leader and with bats whose main home was in the trees above the crocodile quarters. Even though Sir Na had climbed up the trees when he was seeking the support of bats to become crocodile leader and rolled over on his belly to beg the leader of the bats for his support, he made a public declaration that in fact, all this while, the bats had a plan to take over the farm by blocking the sun in large numbers and destroying everything. Sir Na joined White’s genocidal farm hand Dick-Tai in killing bats, swearing to finish them off and have none of them above his quarters in the trees. 

“They defecate into the crocodile swamps below,” Sir Na said through his burnt lips, “and they want to tie us all and turn us into their slaves and turn all birds into bats but we will not let them.”

Sir Na declared the bats non-animals and said that the farm was a place only for animals whose species could be verified. “They are neither bird nor mammal and they must be destroyed.”

As he did this he kept his ear to the ground just in case the pain in White’s side would become more serious and prevent him from wanting to continue as farm manager. 

Meanwhile there were games being held between farms and the animals on White’s farm were taking part. The farm hand in charge of games, Longman, a cock with a red crown that was always foaming at the mouth, always had his feet entangled by strands of hair or ropes. His walk was awkward and unstable and he was always getting drunk from eating fermented grain. He had no idea how to handle animal games and even forgot to pay the animals representing White’s farm. When they returned, having won the games, Longman told the sports animals that he didn't realize they would come back safe and so did not have any grain or food to pay them. 

“We did not know the journey would be a success. We were sure you would be in an accident and never come back home. We are sorry.”

And animals blamed Longman for being such a horrible farm hand and not White for choosing such a horrible farm hand. 

In the South of the farm another farm hand was screaming over elections to choose the leader of the marshlands and other local animal officials. Being from the marshlands himself, the farm hand, Rot In Me, was very concerned about animals not loyal to White winning local elections. “If they attack you,” Rot In Me told Whitist worshippers, “attack them back, gouge out their eyes and break their bones.” He could not afford to have his own marshlands being controlled by animals who were disloyal and not believers in the religion of Whitism. 

In the north east of the farm, the wild dogs, energized from the recent ransom that White and his farm hands had paid to release some sheep and lambs, were attacking and setting animal quarters ablaze. White had declared that he had defeated the wild dogs but every week, the wild dogs attacked. And the animals in the north east suffered from famine because they were unable to cultivate crops or even buy and sell. The farm hands had closed the markets and no one dared till the ground. There were now more animals in danger of starving to death than there were in danger of being attacked by the wild dogs. And animals came from outside White’s farm due to the stench of rotting bodies and the wailing of emaciated animals. 

“There is a crisis on your farm White,” they said, “allow us help you get food to feed your starving subjects.”

And White got incensed at the suggestion that his animals were dying of starvation. He denied that animals were dying of starvation and that millions of animals were in need of urgent food supplies. 

“No one is starving on my farm,” White grumbled, “they are fine. They are just slimming for fashion. We have a fashion show coming up soon and they are all not eating so they can win this competition that has a huge grain prize. How dare you say my animals are dying of starvation?”

And the animals continued to die of starvation.

And Sir Na continued to kill bats. 

And wild dogs continued to attack sheep and lambs. 

And the cost of grain continued to increase on the farm. 

And all the worshippers of White blamed everyone but White for the deteriorating state of affairs on the farm. 


And all the While, White walked around, hiding the pain in his side, watching people argue about which farm hand should be fired, silent. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

AN ANIMAL FARM CONVERSATION


Aide 1: Good morning sir. I hope you slept well sir. 
Mr President: I did. Just the pain in my side. But I will be fine. If Nigeria doesn't kill me, nothing will kill me. 
Aide 2: You are fine daddy. You are perfect. You are holy. 
Mr President: Thank you. Give me the run down for today.
Aide 1: Well sir, the old man has decided to come home…
Aide 2: He finally did it sir.
Mr President: Look I know I can do no wrong and all, but I am not a magician. I cannot read your minds. Who do yo mean by old man. 
Aide 1: Oh sorry daddy. I mean Sole Woyinka sir. With the plenty white hair. 
Mr. President: Ah Sole! The white hair is not even that plenty. The man has aged. The hair is thinning out. But that is good. Is he visiting us?
Aide 2: Sir, we meant he is coming back to live here permanently. 
Mr President: What? Like forever? Whatever happened to Amer…
Aide 1: Sir he swore to destroy his green card if the orange man won the elections there. 
Aide 2: And the people online made fun of him daring him to do it sir. 
Mr President: Like on a school playground?
Aide 1: Yes sir, just like the people who, bored of two people staring at each other and not fighting, slap both people and say: whoever feels the pain most should retaliate. 
Mr President: Wonderful. So they made him tear the green card?
Aide 2: Yes sir. And he is relocating. 
Mr President: You are sure he is not going to England? It will be terrible to have him here. You know how he doesn't mind his business. 
Aide 1: Unfortunately sir, he is coming here.
Mr President: This is why I said we should increase the data tariffs. It is because these people can afford to spend all day on Facingbook and Tweeter.
Aide 2: Facebook and Twitter sir. 
Mr President: Whatever. 
Aide 2: Sorry sir. 
Mr President: So why did we not increase it again?
Aide 1: NCC backed down after people protested online sir.
Mr President: So, we can’t increase the cost of data to stop people from protesting because they will protest. 
Aide 2: Something like that sir. 
Mr President: Where are we with the rice harvest? Still expecting a bumper harvest like Audu said ko?
Aide 1: Errrm, not really sir.
Mr President: What is not really?
Aide 2: Sir they have predicted a famine.
Mr President: How did we go from bumper harvest to famine? What will we tell Nigerians?
Aide 1: It is ok sir, we will just blame the previous government. 
Aide 2: And worst case scenario, they will blame the Minister, not you. You did not make the promise. 
Mr President. You have a point. And where are we with the dollar. How much today?
Aide 1: Depends on which rate sir.
Mr President: How many rates are there?
Aide 2: A few sir. Interbank. CBN. Special rates. Your rates.
Aide 1: But the Naira is still not doing good.
Mr President: What is the CBN governor doing? What do I tell Nigerians?
Aide 1: Nothing sir. They already blame the governor. They don't like him. 
Aide 2: They are even calling for his sack. So you are fine sir. No one is blaming you.
Mr President: That’s good. What of 2019? Any more rascals making noise?
Aide 1: Your short friend with the burnt lips appears to have backed down for now. No public moves. He is facing being Governor. 
Mr President: Is he still fighting with that man fighting baldness?
Aide 1: Yes sir. They even attacked his office.
Mr President: Who did?
Aide 1: Well we suspect him but we will find out. He has some insane people working for him. Like that Ub...
Mr President: Who else? And don't tell me about that Senate President. I still have plans for him.
Aide 2: Except the former VP sir. But we are trying to get his file sir. 
Mr President: Ok. I will deal with that tomorrow. I will call Mugu. Where are we traveling to next? 
Aide 1: I’ll check the schedule sir. 
Aide 2. It is time for our first appointment sir. 
Mr President: Ok. Brief me on the way. (Winces in pain)
Aide 2: Are you ok sir?
Aide 1: Is it your condition acting up again sir?
Mr President: Which condition? It is you that has condition not me.
Aide 1: I am sorry sir.
Mr President: Sorry for yourself. 
Aide 2: You are fine daddy. You are perfect. You are holy...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

THE RACE TO REPLACE WHITE


Rumblings were heard all over the farm from the quarters of animals who were hinting at their intention to replace White as farm leader. Dissatisfaction was spreading quickly and the worshippers of White were finding it difficult to defend White for every catastrophe that happened. They however adopted a stance of blaming everything around White without ever blaming White. Sometimes they would blame a farm hand for making White look bad. Like the farm hand who was in charge of storing all the grain in a central location, a baboon called Amen Pele. Amen Pele was a disaster and tried to impose rules that would make criminalize the ownership of foreign grains by animals. He made it hard to get grains from outside the farm and many animals needed this in order to have a balanced diet and in order to produce different types of meals. Amen Pele often walked into Whitist worship services to lead prayers himself. When White had a pain in his anus he would bring balm to soothe it and would follow him around driving flies away from his body. Amen Pele managed the central granary so bad that the whole farm was facing a crisis. But of course, worshippers of White were glad that they had someone who could take the heat for the crumbling central granary. Some Whitist priests even called for the sack of Amen Pele while affirming the perfection of White. 

Also, no one blamed White for the massacres around the farm carried out by White’s genocidal farm hand Dick Tai. Even though Dick Tai ultimately answered to White, whenever he went out on his killing sprees, either hunting down and killing bats or slaughtering protesting animals in the east of the farm, no one made the connection to White. 

Meanwhile another of White’s farm hands, a blind mouse called Dan Daudu had declared that although he had promised a bumper harvest of grain, there was in fact evidence to show that in the coming year, animals were going to starve. Everyone was angry at this farm hand and made fun of his half shut eye but no one made the connection to White. Instead animals who could began making preparations for an eventual period of starvation. 

All of this made it possible for White to still retain some popularity in spite of the farm crumbling. He was still the messiah who saved the farm from Goodhead and his reckless friends who were about to set the farm ablaze. White was still god and Master, Lord and Savior. 

The leader of the crocodile swamp, the temperamental crocodile with short legs called Sir Na, had observed the mood of the farm and the fact that animals, crocodiles inclusive, were still fond of White and it would be foolish to try to kick him out of power. He thus began to scale back his plans to take over from White so that when White had finished his term he could comfortably slip in and try to become farm manager. 

One animal, a snake called Teku was trying to take advantage of the fact that the farm was in disarray. He was moving from one animal quarters to the other reminding them that he was in the running for farm manager. Some claimed he was a thief, especially Sir Na who disliked him deeply. Even though Sir Na had rolled on the floor and kissed Teku’s tail when he was deputy farm manager many years ago. Then, Sir Na would go on his knees to say hello to Teku. But he was always in the camp of animals who never wanted Teku to become farm manager. He said that Teku was a thief. That Teku was a wanted animal in many farms. That Teku was hungry for power. Teku on the hand retaliated, saying Sir Na too wanted to run the farm and he he was just being a hypocrite. None of them could see how much they looked like each other. How much their crawling resembled each other. How in the end they both — snake and crocodile — moved on their stomachs. They both tried to recruit animals to shout on each side. 

And food became more and more scarce.

And darkness continued to spread throughout the farm.

And the farm hands of White continued to be killed by wild dogs even though White swore he had defeated them. 

And the animals continued to ignore the bodies of the dead bats massacred by the genocidal Dick Tai.

And Teku began to recruit people to fulfill his ambition to take over as farm manager. 

And White was mostly silent, preferring to speak to animals outside his farm. 

And White continued to manage the pain in his side while trying to prevent the whole farm from crumbling. 

And all the while the worshippers of White, now fewer in number, continued to shout their prayers loudly:

In the name of the White father
And of the farm hands
And of the holy Whitists…

Bless us White for we have sinned
Bless our thoughts
Bless our desires
Bless our intentions

Blessed be thy name
Thy will be done in every quarter among every animal species
Teach us to love your will
Teach us to be teachable
Teach us to trust your will even when your will may not be clear
Teach us to defend your will before it becomes your will
For thine are the decisions, the thoughts and the glory
For as long as you choose to be farm leader


Amen

Sunday, November 20, 2016

HOW TO LOOK AWAY AND NOT FEEL GUILTY



Empathy is a great quality to possess. The ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is empathy that allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Empathy allows men to understand the woes of women, and vice versa; it allows whites to understand the woes of black; it allows people who belong to a gender binary understand the woes of non binary people. However, empathy can be a problem. Too much understanding stands in the way of useful discrimination or necessary violence. Because let’s face it, discrimination and violence are important in keeping undesirable people away from us. Imagine a world where everyone had the same rights, where everyone had the right to believe whatever they wanted to believe, where everyone had freedom of worship, where every gender, binary or non binary had the same access to healthcare, sexual and reproductive rights. Wouldn't that be too much? Wouldn't life be boring without the hierarchies and discrimination that put some human beings above others, for order and structure? 

Think of minorities for example. Now as a person who belongs to a majority religion, you get to define what blasphemy is. But the great part is that you also get to blaspheme freely against minorities. For example, as a believer or a monotheist, you can blaspheme against polytheists, calling their gods “pagan” or disgusting or abominable. You are allowed to call them infidels and unbelievers because belief is defined by you. Hence those who do not agree with you are the unbelievers. It doesn't matter that from their standpoint you also are some sort of unbeliever and infidel. You are allowed to destroy their shrines to show the dominance and power of your superior deity. You are allowed to say that they are going to hell. However, being minorities they should never be allowed those same rights. Because you know how minorities are, you give them a Gala and then they want La Casera. Your criticism of their religion is the truth. Their criticism of your religion is blasphemy and must never be condoned. They must be attacked for believing strange things. So, what has all of this got to do with looking away and not feeling guilty? I just noticed that some people were beginning to feel uncomfortable with the rampant attack on Shiites led by Kaduna State. You really shouldn't feel guilty. If the governor needs to use state resources to inflict violence on them and some of them die, this is how to not feel guilty: think of all the roads that get blocked (don’t think of the roads your own religion blocks, it ruins the fun), think of all the beliefs they believe which you do not like, think of the all black that they wear in the heat, think of how much they must sweat in those clothes, and then find something else to do, like weed the grass in your backyard. 

Now at birth we are all assigned a gender. As soon as the doctor or midwife pulls us out and sees our genitalia, they declare: It’s a boy or It’s a girl. This is all that should matter throughout your life. If you have a child you must force all the rules we have made for the genders on your children. Do not allow your boys play with girls toys or with make up because, well just because. And if god forbid a child grows up preferring things different from what society has decreed, then you must feel disturbed even if this has absolutely nothing to do with you. Because without you, the world will be destroyed. So, if people attack a person who was assigned male, for acting like a female, you must look away and not feel guilty (that is if you yourself don't feel strong enough to join in the attack). Ask yourself: why is this man wearing female perfume? Why is this woman wearing male clothes? Why is he wearing a headscarf? Why does he want to ruin my life and that of my children by wearing what he likes? When you think like this, even if such a man or woman gets lynched, you will not feel too bad about it. At worst your will feel bad about that individual’s poor parents. 

When a person is being lynched by a mob, it is generally good to look away. To kill any guilt that may result from you just looking on as a fellow human being is being killed ask any of the following guilt-dissolving questions: What did he do? Why did he do it? What tribe is he? What religion is he?
Asking these questions will help you put it all in perspective. If they tell you the person stole a purse, it is nice to think, see ba, lynching is bad, but oh if only he was not a thief, he would not have been killed or oh, if he wasn't a criminal they would not have tortured him and set his squirming body on fire. These thoughts solve any issues about the mob’s culpability in murder. Just make sure to begin any justification with the fact that you do not support lynching, but. 

The word “but” is very important. In rape, or mob lynching or online attacks on minorities you can make sense of it by first denying that you support the said action followed by but. But allows you to get the PC obstacle out of the way while saying what you really mean. If a woman you don't like was raped, say an annoying woman who always likes to show her body, you get the political correctness out of the way by saying, no woman should be raped, but it is important to get all the facts of the matter. You see what I did there? Or if an unarmed person was hacked and burned to death or extrajudicially murdered by the Nigerian army or police, you can begin by saying, murder is bad, but we need to know the other side of the story. Or something like, killing civilians is not the best, but we need to find out what provoked the soldiers or police. You will never have to feel guilty again. 

It is good to feel empathy. But it is even better not to waste empathy on the wrong people so that we can have enough empathy for all the right people: our family members, members of our religious sect, members of our ethnic group, people who support our political party, people we are sleeping with, and people we generally like. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

THE PIG WHO WON


The world of animals was in need of a new leader. The old leader, an unlikely animal to lead the world — a black sheep — had now finished his term and grown grey from the tedium that was controlling as many animal farms as he could. Understandably, animals everywhere were interested in who was going to run the world from the most powerful animal farm. Two animals, a pig and a hawk were contesting. All the animals laughed when the pig said he wanted to run the world. “How did this filthy pig even imagine that any animal would let him run the world?” animals scoffed. And as they laughed and jeered, the pig waded through the mud and spoke to other pigs. “They are laughing at us,” the pig said. “They think we are scum. But we will show them the power of scum.”

And all the lowly animals, all the despised pigs, all the hawks who were afraid of a fellow hawk disrupting the balance of things, quietly began to support the pig. And the hawk flew high parading herself like the leader  she wanted to be when it was announced that the filthy pig had just been chosen to lead the world. The hawk was so dizzy that for a moment she began to crash to the earth. The filthy pig who slept all day in muddy waters. The filthy pig that hated hawks. The filthy pig that loved to mount other random pigs without their consent. The pig was now going to run the animal world. 

Meanwhile on White’s farm, there was trepidation because even though White had a few things in common with this pig — like some of what he thought about hawks — White did not want the pig to win. But White congratulated the pig anyway and said that in spite of all of the mud, he would be happy to work with the pig. 

In the north of White’s farm, the crocodile leader with short legs and a short temper Sir Na, was still having his eye on leading the farm. He was also clamping down on crocodiles who didn't like the way he was running the crocodile swamp and throwing them in cages. He was overseeing the clampdown on bats (even though in public he shed crocodile tears when he heard crocodiles were following his lead and killing bats). He was throwing tantrums and getting angry at crocodiles who did not allow him to control them, and all the while whispering his intention ever so softly to animals to would listen. All he wanted was to take the farm someday from White. 

As White grew weary, managing the pain in his anus and his wife who was becoming ungovernable and restless, the wild dogs in the north east that he swore to have defeated started reappearing and ambushing his farm hands. Farm hands were turning up dead and barns were being set on fire. Although the wild dogs did not move as freely as they once did, they now attacked and killed farm hands of White, embarrassing him before all the animals who took him for his word that he had defeated the dogs. 

Animals on White’s farm who had become accustomed to suffering and catering for themselves through years of abuse from successive farm managers resumed their pattern of making a way where there was no way. But White’s farm hands had other ideas. They created rules to make it unnecessarily hard for animals to trade freely among each other. The farm management was not making it easy for animals to exchange goods, instead they were throwing clogs in the wheels in the name of regulation. 

By now the ranks of the Whitist priests and worshippers of White was shrinking but had by no means disappeared. There were still a few vocal priests and worshippers who were committed to the cause of upholding White as god and savior, king and commander, lord and master. And these remnants of the priests were as vicious as ever, attacking any animal they perceived as disloyal. 

White planned to meet at some point with the newly chosen pig leader of the world, hoping that somehow he would get a favorable hearing for all the assistance he wanted. But he was nervous. 
“I am afraid because they say he mounts pigs and other animals indiscriminately. Perhaps we must keep my wife in the other room if he ever visits so he does not do that to her. You know pigs and their long orgasms. Once he mounts my wife, she will never be the same again. Or maybe it is best not travel with her altogether.” 

And White’s farm hands were instructed to keep his wife hidden from the pig world leader if there was ever a meeting. 

And the cost of grain continued to rise on White's farm.  

And animals across the animal world were in shock that a pig was chosen over a hawk to run the animal world. 

And the bats on White’s farm continued to suffer discrimination with their leader tied up, blind and bloody. 

And Teku the fox also continued plotting to take over the farm from White. 

And no one knew how to get the farm back on track. 

And the wild dogs in the Southern marshlands continued to blow up water pipes. 

And it became harder and harder to speak up against White or against any of the animal leaders on the farm. 

And all the while the worshippers of White continued singing praises and praying to White their god: 

In the name of the White father
And of the farm hands
And of the holy Whitists…

Bless us White for we have sinned
Bless our thoughts
Bless our desires
Bless our intentions

Blessed be thy name
Thy will be done in every quarter among every animal species
Teach us to love your will
Teach us to be teachable
Teach us to trust your will even when your will may not be clear
Teach us to defend your will before it becomes your will
For thine are the decisions, the thoughts and the glory
For as long as you choose to be farm leader

Amen