Month: May 2012

What is in a name…change? (My Opinion)

Is it really all about a name? Yesterday, 29th of May 2012, the good students of University of Lagos, Akoka were presented with a new pronouncement; the name of their prestigious school had been changed by Presidential order to Moshood Abiola University, Lagos.

I would for now ignore the national and historical implications of such an act and instead focus on the subsequent line of action taken by the students of the school. As you all know, the news has not been taken all too well by the student body, they did not hesitate to make their voices heard by firstly leading a protest within the school premises yesterday and by sealing off Third main land bridge (according to wide spread reports).

The issue would have passed without me making a single public comment had it not been for the second protest the students have set up.
Apart from Third main land bridge being a key route in the commercial nerve centre that is Lagos state, there is a very high probability that these students had no official or police permission to carry out this protest (the police wouldn’t have permitted it anyway).

They have simply acted out of the need to be heard. Quite commendable, if they were protesting a much more worthy cause, such as Fuel price increase or better standards of education or a review in the archaic educational curriculum.
Protesting a name change. Not like no one has a right to protest such a thing or I am totally dismissing and condemning the expression of disapproval by the students, I simply find their outlet for venting most in appropriate.
Many will present several reasons for objecting to such a name change, even pointing out the illegality of the procedure but we most of all should not discount one fact here. The purpose of this name change was to honor one man. The late Alhaji, Bashorun Moshood Abiola. A man who in many regards should have been Nigeria’s first truly elected President in a widely transparent, free and fair election.
My guess is most of the students protesting the name change of their beloved university were barely out of diapers when the events of June 12 happened.
Not to discredit their knowledge of history but they were barely old enough to experience the emotions of those events and despite my disapproval of the President’s choice of institution to rename (discussion for another day), I feel the protesting students of ‘Moshood Abiola University’ disrespect the man after whom their school has been renamed by rejecting the said name.

MKO Abiola was a great man. One who we as Nigerians should aspire to emulate.
To be honest, I winced when the news broke. As it is, several monuments, structures and roads in the south west of Nigeria have already been named after MKO Abiola, hence my puzzlement why the President chose University of Lagos.

I advise the students to return to their normal academic activities and lodge formal complaints and petitions with the right authorities about this issue. At least the Presidency is just one arm of government and the other arms have specific powers to check his excesses.

Civil disobedience is not the answer, let MKO Abiola’s struggle not be in vain.

This is simply my own point of view, agreeing with me is not mandatory or solicited.


Liquid Contents Only

“Taju! Taju! How many times did I call you?!”

The look on the mother’s face was one of anger and bewilderment.

Taju stood beside their ramshackle home, holding the rubber ball by his side.
At 8 years old he reached his mother’s waist in height and she had clearly peppered him with several of her famed knocks. His head had a dull throb but the tears in his eyes showed that he had cried enough tears because of the pain.

Iya Taju cursed repeatedly, her voice raised with her hands gesticulating, as if summoning the gods she had prayed to for her child, hoping this one would not die before he turned 6. At 8 and he seemed to always get into trouble.

It was going to be war by the time baba Taju got back from work.

What he was going to find would not sit well with him and if he was as predictable as he had always been, not only Taju would feel his wrath.

Right behind Mama Taju, in the dimly lit room where Taju had previously been having a kick about with his rubber ball, on the floor, right in the center of the room lay what remained of Baba Taju’s bottle of Chelsea dry gin. The faint smell of alcohol littered the air as the contents had gradually evaporated.

Mama Taju had barely made a sale from her small tray of repackaged detergents and sweets, at least not enough to purchase another bottle of Baba Taju’s gin.

Taju was scared as well, wondering why the bottle had not been behind baba’s side of the bed as it usually used to be. All he wanted to do was perfect his ball raising skills before going out to meet Azeez and the other new boy who had used his left foot to raise an empty evaporated milk can repeatedly with unnatural ease.

Baba Taju was an angry and violent man, the long scar on Taju’s left arm was testimony to that, and he was even more violent when he had drank a substantial portion of his gin.

Taju thought about these things while standing in front of Mama. His mind had wandered, barely making out what she was saying, he thought about the array of bottles on a table top, down the road where he usually saw women and little girls pay money to purchase the contents in them frequently. His mother never did and no one had told him what the liquid really was.

Despite the dull throbbing in his head, little Taju had an idea. One that would spare him the painful beating of the night he was sure.

Even as mama kept on with her lamenting and rebuke at the top of her voice, he made his way into the shack, to his corner of the room. He tossed up the thin layers of clothes that made up his bed and fished out an old shoe polish can. In the dim and musty enclosure of his parents home he pried open the container, even without looking into it he knew the contents; just enough to save him from being beaten up for the night, only for the night.

Mama Taju had stood still and quiet for a split second while she watched Taju bolt into the shack, oblivious of her words.

The boy was running mad surely.

She followed him into the shack and found him kneeling in front of his bed in the corner. The rage within her increased exponentially. Her voice was raised, with the intent to sound threatening once again, but Taju didn’t seem to see her. He stood up instantly and started making for the door. He walked right past her without so much as a glance.

At this point mama Taju lost interest. Her husband would surely come home to make trouble tonight so she had better make preparations for damage limitations. She set about cleaning up the mess, picking up and eventually sweeping away the pieces of glass.

Meanwhile, a few hundred yards away, Taju had found a much similar Chelsea bottle to the one he had broken. He found it near the local beer parlor run by Iya sunday. He would not be beaten, at least not tonight.

Baba Taju came home, having endured a long day at his block making job in the new estate being built some kilometers from their home. Angry as usual, he soon started hurling insults at his Wife, claiming his dinner should have been ready before his arrival. This was surprising considering he had claimed exactly a week ago, not to enjoy seeing his meal already served upon his arrival.
He claimed it was a habit practiced only by women who intended to poison their husbands.

Mama Taju just wanted dinner served, insults now meant nothing to her. She equated it to her husbands loud snoring; a mild irritation.

Taju had been quiet all night, he was usually known to be noisy around the kitchen when dinner time approached but this time he kept to his corner of the shack, taking occasional glances towards his Father.
Baba Taju was just getting around to picking his teeth with a shortened broom stick, making hissing sounds with each accomplished strand of meat fished out from between the large gaps when he suddenly spoke, “Taju, bring me my Gin bottle..” he said gruffly.

At this point Mama Taju held her breath and was about to get up, to her surprise, Taju raced to his parent’s bed and stuck his skinny hand at the back of his Father’s corner of the naked foam mattress and produced a bottle of Chelsea gin. He walk over to his Father confidently and handed him the medium sized bottle.
In the mild lighting of the shack, Mama Taju couldn’t make out her son’s face. She wanted to be sure he wasn’t playing a prank but somehow, Taju made his way back across the room without betraying any emotions.

There was only one question in her head; where had Taju gotten a fresh bottle of Chelsea dry Gin?

Her questions were answered 3 minutes later, Baba Taju dropped the bottle to the floor clutching his stomach, immediately the little contents left in the bottle emptied to the floor, the smell of kerosene filled the entire shack.
Her eyes darted between a writhing Baba Taju and a confused Taju.
All she could scream was “Taju!!!”

A few hours later, as the neighbors finally got word that Baba Taju was finally stabilized in the General hospital, gossip quickly went round.

It was the local Kerosene seller who finally exclaimed; “so na wetin him buy the Kerosene for be that.”.

A Mother’s last moments.

Hello guys. Griffin here.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about life, in a whole lot of ways. From the conception of a child to death itself.
But strikingly I’ve been thinking (not in a morbid way) about death. Its the culmination, the moment of apotheosis if I may say.

But I want to focus on those final moments before the light goes out. Before the last breath is taken.
To imagine in different ways what it could possibly be like.
I know its a pretty uncomfortable topic of discussion, but I’m sure most of us know pretty well that death in itself is inevitable. Not like I’m asking you all to consider death in the immediate future. I just want you to indulge me a bit, consider what those last moments could possibly be like.

We’ve heard stories of near death or out of body experiences where someone’s spirit was said to have left their bodies and most times travelled towards a light. Only for them to be reined back in again, apparently revived.

This time I’m just going to explore those final moments, with my imagination I’ll try to create/paint scenes that I hope will be vivid enough. Scenes I hope could give someone a sense of finality in this mysterious race called life. What could have been going through the thoughts of a loved one as their body gave off its last breath?

I’m starting off with something personal to me…..

She lay in the back seat of the car as her nephew cradled her head in his palms, trying to catch her attention. It was difficult to focus on the sound of his voice, it was one she had gotten used to.

One she perceived as part of the background noise, nothing out of the ordinary.

Yet, he kept talking, he sounded frantic, desperate and scared, she didn’t understand why.
It was difficult to stay awake, her eyes had become heavy, rigged with weights her eyelids were unaccustomed to. It didn’t feel like anything she had felt before but it felt peaceful. Everything else didn’t seem to matter, the pain, the sadness, the loneliness…it was all gone.
She was leaving it all behind.

If only they knew. Her focus shifted from her nephew to her sister-in-law in the passenger seat. Her gaze was on the road but between seconds she kept on glancing to the back seat. Her eyes held no hope, only fear.
Barely minutes ago they had been talking about their children, discussing futures and dreams of grandchildren.
It felt surreal.
Not to her, she felt disconnected. At peace. The pain and loneliness was truly gone. There was no desire to hang on like her nephew was saying she should. His voice didn’t impose it. Not like she wanted it to, there was no connection.

She thought of her children, far away, hopefully happy, with their father. He had been with them far more than she had. Her guilt never left her for leaving them when they needed her the most, and now she felt the least needed. She knew they would soldier on. The worst was past them, she had come back at the right time and urged them on when they needed her the most.

The 3 of them. Beautiful just as she had dreamed as they would be when she was just a child. Just like her own mother had her own; 2 boys and one girl. Beautiful.

Now she knew they would be just fine. She had hopes for all of them. Their dreams were her’s.

The feelings were distant now, they were becoming a memory, a gentle feeling that could have been warm.

Between near closing eyes, she stared at her nephew, his eyes had become watery with tears. She wanted to tell him not to worry, not to cry, that she felt perfectly fine. Perfectly at peace, that the car didn’t need to move so fast. Everything would be fine.

She thought about all those she loved, all those she had lost. They would all be fine, the light assured her.
She heard the car stop, but it wasn’t from within the car. She saw the hospital, a storey building, the car had pulled up to the front, her sister-in-law had run into the building screaming for help, she wanted to tell her there was no need.

In minutes she saw her body being wheeled in, doctors and nurses by her side checking for vitals. She wanted to smile but her present form held no expression, just a ghostly whiteness.

She knew there would be tears, pain and loss. As she drifted towards the light that embraced, she prayed they would heal, that the pain and emptiness would not be long.

It was all she could do, but now she felt peace, the worry had become barely fleeting.

But she still prayed. That they may live, that they may die.

Everyone deserves to die.