Returning to Nigeria | Featured Artiste: J.Clone

So, December 31st is here at last. 2011 has been quite a year for Relentless.  For one thing, it was the year this blog was born (Why am I referring to myself in the third person? Maybe this should go on the New Year Resolution list).  I want to start out by saying a very big Thank You to every single person who has visited, commented, sent me a private message, stalked, etc ... I really and truly appreciate your support this year.  As you have watered, so shall you also be watered in Jesus name.  May the Lord God cause all your endeavors to prosper and be fruitful in 2012.  E se gan-an.

[Image Source]
I know when you saw the title of today's blog post, you were probably wondering whether Relentless was moving back to Nigeria.  I am keeping my lips sealed on that for now, but I really want to address this issue, i.e. the issue of relocating to Nigeria, for those who live in the diaspora (US, Canada, UK, Jamaica, Togo ... LOL!) It is not something I can cover in one single blog post, but I wanted to get started on it before the end of 2011.  I guess you can tell I am a last minute person ... *sigh* (Another item has just been added to my New Year Resolution list).

Anyway, over the last couple of years, I have observed within my own personal circles and also amongst Nigerians in general, a growing trend, i.e. people who have lived in various countries outside Nigeria for several years, suddenly moving back to Nigeria for various reasons.  In fact, the reasons are just as varied as the people who move back and they include:

Intermingled Smoke | Featured Artiste: Mofe

I can hardly believe that 2012 is just around the corner! But it's true.  How was your Christmas? Boxing Day nko? Wonderful, I hope. I want to say a special thank you to all those who took time to send me Christmas wishes.  Many, Many thanks! E se gan-an!

The inspiration for today's post (well, just the title sha) came from an article I read a few months ago written by Tolu Ogunlesi.  Specifically, this part caught my attention:

I imagine that the smoke from her “kitchen” mingles happily with that emerging from the luxurious kitchens of the nearby 5-star Eko Hotels – evidence perhaps of the classlessness that distinguishes smoke from the human existence.

[Picture from HERE]
The mental picture that that sentence evokes has stayed with me since I read the article and it stirred something else in my heart that I had not really explored extensively before, i.e. what would be the yardstick to measure progress in Nigeria's educational system.  I still don't have an answer to that question, but I believe I am making progress sha.  For now, what I have come up with is this: Until people like Iya Seun, mentioned in Tolu Ogunlesi's article, can get good quality education for their children without paying an arm and a leg, we have not yet made progress.  (As an aside, I wonder how this statement will change by December 2012 ... I will just have to wait and see to evaluate that, won't I?!)  If there is anyone who needs free education (or the next best thing to free education, which I believe is highly subsidized education), it would be this woman's children.

14 Pillars | Featured Artiste: Jahdiel

A few months ago, I watched a video of Fela Durotoye, a respected motivational speaker and mentor based in Nigeria, where he discussed one of the subjects that is dear to my heart: Education (Duh!) He outlined 14 Pillars of Education on which the educational system in Nigeria rests.

[Picture from HERE]
He actually described them as 'COBWEBS' (Interesting choice of words) because he said that no single strand of a cobweb can stand alone, but they are all inter-connected, i.e. one strand of a cobweb ALONE and by itself cannot catch all the problems that exist in Nigeria's educational system.  Please see the video below:

No means NO | Featured Artiste: KingJames

[Picture from HERE]
I don't know how many ways a person can say "NO" to get the message across.  But for the sake of sanity, let's assume that No means NO! In case you were wondering, I am referring to that dirty word, 'Rape.'  However way you define it, it is non-consensual sex, i.e. whether the victim is a man or a woman, if he or she did not consent to the act, it is rape.

While I don't want to make this post an all-encompassing "let's-discuss-every-possible-aspect-of-rape" post, there is one particular excuse I have heard, one particular justification that irks me to no end, i.e. the victim was dressed provocatively.  I mean, COME ON! Even if a person walks around the streets stark naked, you cannot and should not use that as an excuse to justify rape.  I am all for decency in dressing (more on that later) and really advocate dressing the way you would want to be addressed (cheesy, I know, but you get my point), but we live in a diverse world and we are not all on the same moral frequency.  If a woman (or man) says NO, just assume that the person really means NO and don't go any further.

One Kobo | Featured Artiste: Gogo Majin

*Quick Note: I think I have resolved the problem with Disqus.  Thank you so much for your patience :-) *runs off to next paragraph to begin post*

[Picture from HERE]
[catching her breath and fanning herself] 
Even if you have never vocalized it, you have a philosophy on money and finances which dictates how you handle your finances.  The question is: how did you develop that philosophy or better still, who taught you the value of money? If you really examine yourself, you might discover that consciously or unconsciously, you have adopted the philosophy and / or attitudes your parents (or guardians) had towards money.  Depending on what that philosophy is, it might be a good or bad thing.  You might have had parents who were very frugal or spendthrifts or an unhealthy combination of both.  More than likely, it rubbed off on you. 

What got me thinking about this was the fact that inasmuch as many Nigerian parents insist that their children should choose certain professions, they do not emphasize financial education.  Apart from finding fulfillment in your profession/career, it is supposed to supply your immediate needs e.g. food, clothing, shelter, makeup, perfume, Brazilian weave, Yaba weave, fake eyelashes, over-priced designer shirts (the one where the horse is flogging the man and not vice-versa *wink*), iPad, bicycle, generator, bucket, etc …LOL (I couldn’t help myself … I just had to have fun with that list ... I think I got carried away and added stuff for NYSC camp *smh*) The list is endless, but you (and not your aristo or “sugar-mummy”) are supposed to be able to afford these expenses based on your income.  My point is this: parents often say “go and read law, go and read medicine, go and read ______ (fill in the blanks) so you can make plenty money like Uncle So-and-So,” but you usually don’t hear parents talking about how these kids should acquire financial wisdom/intelligence to manage the supposed “money” that they will spend the rest of their lives making. 

The Kitchen Sink | Featured Artiste: Hadassah

Quick Note:  I am having issues with Disqus, so please bear with me as I try to get it resolved.  But you can still leave comments in the meantime :-)

[Kitchen Sink / Flickr]
So, how did your Thanksgiving go? Any left-overs? LOL! I had a lovely Thanksgiving ... thanks for asking :D

I don't know if you are still in school or you're already done (like moi).  Regardless though, you might have to take exams and then, it would matter what style of exams you prefer or tend to excel at.  Without forcing you to relive any exam nightmares, I was wondering what style of exams you prefer.  From my own experience, I am aware of these styles (please add to the list if you want):

Misprints of a Recipe | Featured Artiste: Samsong

[Picture from HERE]

No, I am not about to launch into a detailed recipe for 3 ways to prepare garden egg (Does anyone actually "cook" garden egg? *curious*) or how to make guava pie for Thanksgiving. The title was inspired by a section from H. L. A Hart's "The  Concept of Law" where he discusses mechanical jurisprudence.  Without boring you with the details, I thought of that phrase again with respect to the education plan for Nigeria.
Apart from the infamous "6-3-3-4" system, I wonder if the current educational system was constructed with the Nigerian child in mind.  While I do not advocate re-inventing the wheel, there surely is a need to tailor the educational system to fit the unique needs of the Nigerian child while still making him/her competitive at the international level.

You see, I am not saying anything new, neither am I even referring to something Nigerians in general have not thought about and even debated.  At some point, we did have a system that worked, with degrees from our universities such as the University of Ibadan being recognized as solid and respected degrees due to the rigorous training and instruction that was given to students before they graduated.  I don't believe in lamenting about the "good old days" because I believe there are better days ahead, but we absolutely have to figure out what went wrong and learn from past mistakes before we can hope to make any progress in the future.

Original Photocopy | Featured Artiste: Vivien Stephen

[Picture from HERE]

First off, Congratulations to 9jaFoodie on moving to what I call “the next level.” She has moved to so please check out her new website and support her as she starts out on this new phase.  And now off to today’s business. *clears throat*

For the last couple of years, Nigerian music in general has been going through some sort of renaissance, and since gospel music no dey carry last, it has also been part of that process.  Parties, weddings and other social functions have noticeably reflected this trend as there are considerably a lot more Nigerian songs played at these events than used to be the case in the past.  I can’t really pin-point what series of events led to this, but I am definitely loving it.  Nowadays, it is so common to hear songs sang completely in pidgin and/or another Nigerian language.  In fact, that seems to be the winning recipe for the more popular love songs.  It is like all of sudden we woke up and discovered that our culture (which inevitably includes language) is something worth exporting, so to speak.  I can’t really explain what happened to me too, but I know that all of a sudden I pretty much lost interest in music that did not have that Naija flavor and have even come to see it as the standard.

The Honest Businessman [Featured Artiste: Tolazee]

Picture from HERE
I have struggled with this idea for a very long time, i.e. whether or not it is possible to be an honest Nigerian businessman/woman. The Nigerian economy still needs a lot of work, but right now it is essentially made up of many types of businesses. I am of course referring to the private sector. It seems that there are very few honest businessmen in Nigeria and this has nothing to do with the size of the business. This cuts across the various social classes and dishonesty seems to be the order of the day from the market women selling groundnuts to the CEOs of banks. In the light of all the financial/ethical scandals that have rocked the financial sector, I have really asked myself this question: Can one really be an honest, God-fearing, “drama-free” businessperson in Nigeria? How does one stay on course in a rotten system? You can say that this is the same thing anywhere in the world. I get that, but in Nigeria the problem seems to be a lot more acute. I mean, if the folks at the top of the private sector are “hammering” with unclean hands, then what message does that send to those hoping to hammer one day?

Personalized [Featured Artiste: 'Motara]

[Picture from HERE]
Have you ever received a gift that was specially crafted for you or at least “seemed” like it was specially made for you because it was somehow personalized? It may have been a gift that had your name engraved on it or something that was literally made from scratch for you alone like a painting / drawing of yourself.  If you have, then maybe you know the warm, fuzzy feeling (LOL) you get from that gesture (if you haven’t, “Klismas” is around the corner, so you know what to do *wink*)

Thinking of personalized gifts made me think of the names of God, i.e. the names we use to describe God.  In a lot of songs, we tend to hear the same names repeated over and over again e.g. Ubangiji, Alagbada ina, Alawotele orun, Igwe, Abasi, etc.  I don’t even know what some of these names mean, but I embrace them as long as I know they are somehow ascribing glory to God.  So what names do you personally use to describe God?  I think your answer would reflect the way you view God and your own personal experience of who God is to you.  I also believe that you can create a special name for God that no one else uses and that can help to build intimacy in your own private worship life.

Anatomy of a Bad Song v. 2 [Featured Artiste: Mr. Eddie]

Picture from HERE
In continuing with the Anatomy series (see Version 1 HERE), the second version addresses a trend I am sure you are familiar with.  You might not even think there is anything wrong with it, but I do.  I am referring to the phenomenon that someone I know refers to as “STOP-OVER MUSIC.” Well, what is Stop-over music? A simple answer is that it is “Cut and paste” music.  That doesn’t help much, does it?! LOL! Okay, what I am referring to is a scenario where a gospel artiste takes the beats / music of a very popular “secular” song and the only thing he (or she) changes are the lyrics.  In other words, he uses (or attempts to use) “sanctified” lyrics with a secular song, which may or may not have sexual undertones.  

Think of a typical “bump-and-grind” song and then for a minute try to imagine that same song with gospel music lyrics instead.  Outrageous, isn’t it? It just does not fit, just like a square peg can never fit in a round hole.  No matter what you do to the lyrics, at the back of your mind, you are still thinking of the original secular song.  And in fact, you might even catch yourself singing it sef.  If you’re like me, and you like to distinguish between secular and gospel music, then you’ll appreciate the need to avoid creating stop-over music. 

Packaging that works [Featured Artiste: Ozichi]

Image Credit: Godiva 
First off, I want to celebrate with Michael of @moifrequency.  The occasion? His blog is up and running again after a nasty scare.  Hallelujah!

I have personally heard a few Nigerians say that “oyinbo man sabi packaging.”  I agree.  However, I don’t think “packaging” is a peculiar skill you’re born with.  It can definitely be learnt.  By packaging, I am of course referring to how you present a product, i.e. in a way that is attractive to potential customers while still ensuring that the product is functional and of good quality (Whoa! What a mouthful, but you get the gist, ba?) In the context of music CDs, I am referring to the album cover / album art.  I don’t know why, but I have often seen a good album with a (for lack of a better word) “crappy” album cover.  Inasmuch as I purchase most of my music online nowadays, the album cover is still a major factor in helping me decide whether or not to even preview the songs in an album. 

This is where Graphics design would be very useful.  I am not sure the folks who design these album covers have any formal training (not that it is necessary, but it could be useful).  I am guessing that they are skilled at using the various software for graphics design, and that is it.  I hate over flogging the issue, but there is a glaring lack of creativity here as well.  And of course, since we are dealing with Nigerian gospel music, you can be sure that there are even more serious offenders.  The reason why I said that is because we (Christians) tend to come up with the same ideas for album covers.  Let me illustrate (here we go!)

Fresh Meat [Featured Artiste: Tolucci]

Picture from HERE

There is something that has been bugging me for a while now.  It has been giving me sleepless nights and making me break out in cold sweat. My heart skips several beats when I think about this pressing issue, and I can’t keep it to myself any longer.   I have decided to come out and tell the truth, and here it is: I want to eat my neighbor’s chicken! (*evil laughter* … Gotcha! What secret did you think I was going to divulge?! Odeshi!)

Yes, believe it or not, one of my neighbors keeps a chicken (or should I call it a hen?) in his yard. Alice (yes, I have christened the chicken “Alice” after that chicken dish at Outback Steakhouse called “Alice Springs Chicken.”  Please don’t ask me why! LOL) has an identity crisis: she thinks she is a dog because she hangs out with them (or rather tries to ... they chase her. So much for being open-minded, dogs!) 

I am not sure what my neighbor's philosophy is (maybe Alice is there to lay eggs … after all, we are right smack in the middle of a recession), but the presence of that chicken has given me cause to evaluate just how fresh the meat I eat is.  I think Alice would taste so much berra than that Wal-Mart chicken, especially when she it has been seasoned right.  I even made a list of spices and seasonings for Alice’s “birthday” including: curry, thyme, garlic, onions, Knorr cubes, paprika, partminger leaves (my grandma used to grow it back in Naija to season Alice’s distant cousins and other relatives who made our acquaintance at the local market), etc.  Is your mouth watering yet? *grinning from ear to ear*

She sings this way [Featured Artiste: Ogecha]

Picture from HERE

Although I support the advancement of women’s rights, etcetera all over the world, I would not describe myself as a feminist at all.  I said all that because I get very excited when I come across female gospel artistes in Nigeria.  Now, it is not like their male counterparts do not matter or are irrelevant, but the female artistes are outnumbered by the male artistes.  Furthermore, finding a female artiste who is actually talented (yes now, not all of them are talented … abi na lie I talk?!) is more difficult than finding fresh agbalumo in a regular grocery store in Yankee.  Well, okay it is not THAT bad, but you get my drift, i.e. they are a rare breed indeed. 

What I have observed is that female gospel artistes tend to be pigeon-holed into particular genres or types of songs, i.e. praise and worship type songs (I guess you can tell by now that I am not a real fan of praise and worship type songs.  I just feel that gospel music is so much more than that traditional “form” of music).  Frankly, I can make this argument for just about any artiste, but the focus is on female artistes today.

Versatile Blogger Award [Featured Artistes: Tolu Okeowo / Kelechi Ify]

It is always nice to have your work appreciated, and that is precisely what the lovely Toinlicious did when she gave me the “Versatile Blogger” award.  Thank you so much, Toinlicious.  I truly appreciate this.  As you kuku know, there must be a catch somewhere, and in this case, the “catch” is more like a set of conditions, i.e.
  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it

I know I just met the 1st condition, but I feel almost a compulsion to do it again… So, from my anonymous but truly grateful heart, thank you again Toinlicious! (I almost wanted to add “Ile ise yin o ni jona o” (Your workplace will not go up in flames) until I remembered where I was – Blogsville).

Now, for the rest of the conditions….

Anatomy of a Bad Song v. 1 [Featured Artiste: IBK Spaceship Boy]

Whoa! Christmas must have come early for Relentless this year.  The lovely Toinlicious just gave me the "Versatile Blog" award. To say I am ecstatic would be an understatement.  Baba God you too much!  Thank you so much Toinlicious.  I am deeply grateful, and I shall address the award in the next post *bows and curtsies*

Now, to the business of the day.  

Whenever I listen to a song, there are certain elements that just irritate me, to say the least.  Hence, I am starting this “Anatomy Series.” It is an open list of elements that make me want to scream (or itch or pull out my hair, strand by strand … or all of the above) when I see or hear one or more of them in a song.  Since it is an open list, it means I will add more “offending” elements as I discover them.  And this one is “v. 1” for “Version 1” because I decided to do copy-copy and copy the style of those software updates.  If you happen to be a musician / an artiste and have ALL these elements in your song …. I will give you a nice present: 20 strokes of the cane (insert sound of koboko being fired up here).  Seriously though, these are just my own ideas.  Feel free to share yours (or disagree with mine).  So, here we go.

Your Own Signature [Featured Artiste: Tega]

Some things just never change.  But, my handwriting has changed over the years.  Although I type a lot more now than I write in long hand, what applied many years ago, still applies today.  I noticed (when I was in secondary school, of course) that whenever I wrote with a sharp-pointed pen (think Eleganza biro), my handwriting was neater and finer than when I wrote with “blunter” pens.  That was probably why I preferred to use Eleganza pens to Bic pens any day, despite the fact that Eleganza pens had a knack for leaving little “presents” in your pocket (ink stains).  Maybe those were fake Eleganza pens, but even the blue color of the ink was a deeper, richer color than Bic pens.  So where am I going with this?

The tools or instruments you use to make music can affect the final output of your product.  Makes sense, ba? Certain elements like the vocal strength of the soloist or even the balance between the instruments and voices can make the difference between a song that is okay and a song that is … well, 'more than okay,' if you get my drift.  Regardless of what combination you choose, it should not (and to me, it does not) diminish your own signature or unique stamp on the final product (song, in this case).  True artistes leave their own signatures on their songs, regardless of who produces them or what tools were used to produce the songs.  Each song has to have a distinct flavor that is decidedly yours.  Unfortunately, I have found very few artistes who put this into practice and it is always a delight to listen to them.  In other words, there are very few artistes who are ORIGINAL.  Hopefully, over the next few weeks, you will see what I mean, in action.

Happy Birthday, Nigeria [Featured Artiste: Nosa]

I knew without a doubt that I wanted to write something in honor of today’s Independence Day celebration, but I had no idea what to write.  Then my mind went to the second stanza of the National Anthem:
Oh God of creation, direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace and justice
shall reign*

I don’t know what your personal dream for Nigeria is, but I want to encourage you today to give that dream life.  If you are connected to Nigeria in anyway (yes, I am drawing the circle very wide indeed), then you have a responsibility to help Nigeria. If you have benefited from Nigeria, you definitely have a responsibility. Here’s the test: If Nigeria can be mentioned anywhere in your biography (or autobiography) or history, then you have a responsibility towards her. I am a product of Nigeria’s educational system (as are many of us), so I suppose Nigeria did some things right. Plus, I believe in giving back. Do your part to help Nigeria attain those "great, lofty heights."

Well, Happy Birthday Nigeria. Since we all make up Nigeria, I suppose Happy Birthday to “US” is appropriate. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Featured Artiste: Nosa

Nosa (Full Name: Nosa Omoregie) is no stranger to this blog as I featured him in an earlier post titled "Capture It".

One Lovely Blog Award [Featured Artiste: Jeremiah Gyang]

Did I mention that I LOVE surprises? Boy, was I surprised today to find out that Uduak of Finally Me had passed on the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ to me! *Does a little “komole-ing,” gives Jesus a wiper and quickly decides against doing a “split” for obvious reasons … Oush!* Thank you so much, Uduak! I am truly grateful. Please check out her blog (if you have not already done so) HERE. You will not regret it.

Now, to pay the price of being tagged. So, here are “ze RULES” (in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice):

Link back to the person who gave you the award
Complete the form below
Tell seven random things about yourself
Nominate 15 bloggers

*Takes in a deep breath* … Here we go!

Simbi goes to school [Featured Artiste: Psalmos]

Simbi / Image Source: BBM
Remember Ali and Simbi from your primary school textbook? Well, the picture on the right should refresh your memory.  Let’s assume for today that Simbi has graduated from secondary school.  The next logical step for her to take is to go to the university, right?  Once upon a time, Simbi had no choice, but to go to a public university (federal or state), since private universities in Nigeria were more or less non-existent.  Fast-forward to 2011.  Simbi can choose to attend either a public or private university.  Okay, let me snap out of this third person narration mode for now. 

One problem we can all agree on that plagues Nigerian universities is cultism.  It used to be that this was a problem that was peculiar to public universities, and that the private universities were “squeaky clean” and did not have cults.  But the reality is that regardless of the affiliation of the private universities (e.g. Bowen University is owned by the Nigerian Baptist Convention, and Babcock is owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Nigeria), there is a growing problem of cultism in private universities. It does not matter whether the cultists in private schools are ex-cultists who were rusticated from public universities or whether some students feel that their learning experience is not complete without cultism (hence the need to create cults in an otherwise “cult-free” environment).  What matters though is the implication of this trend for private universities in Nigeria.  

The Myth of the Nigerian Accent [Featured Artiste: T Sharp]

Image Source: Tumblr 
Apart from the shock of seeing a certain cousin in a gospel music video today, my week has been quite good. How has yours been? So-so? Ah well, stay positive. Like Nigerians say, “God Dey.” Speaking of which, today’s topic is something that has been sitting in my heart for a couple of years now. I debated on whether or not to actually discuss it, and after torturing myself and oscillating between two choices, I settled on this one, i.e. to air my views on this singular issue. Now, this is highly subjective, so feel free to share your own thoughts as well.

In several classes in college here in the US, I found myself to be the only black person in the classroom, and consequently, the only Nigerian (Well, duh!) I still do not know if it was just culture shock, or just me having a “deer in the headlights” moment (more than one moment, actually, if you count all the classes I took). But what usually happened was that when the teacher or professor called on me to answer a question, my own voice sounded very different to me, like the voice of another person. 

That was a major shift from the two years I spent in UNILAG where everyone pretty much sounded the same way. It was a lot worse in law school where they practiced the so-called “Socratic Method,” i.e. the professor can “call on” you randomly to answer a question, and depending on the professor’s teaching style, he might call on ONLY you for the entire class period. Needless to say, for those who were caught unawares (which was pretty much everyone), “boys were not smiling.” In fact, I have had a few people (Americans obviously) tell me that I sound Jamaican! *rolls eyes* Of course, there is nothing wrong with sounding Jamaican, except for one thing: I am a NIGERIAN. And that begs the question: What does a Nigerian accent sound like?

Capture It [Featured Artiste: Nosa]

Image Credit: Flickr
I recently came across some old pictures of myself and immediate family members from the time when we lived in Nigeria and also shortly after we moved to the US. Apart from the obvious nostalgia that accompanied this discovery (and not to mention seeing how I looked several pounds lighter), it made me wonder at what my philosophies on life were back then. I have a few journal notes that I wrote back then, so I can refer back to those. But for the most part, I have to rely on my memory. I journal a lot more now more than I did back then (and also take a lot more pictures, thanks to the proliferation of digital cameras at affordable prices), so I guess it will help in the long run.

Speaking of pictures, did I ever mention one of my favorite pastimes? I love visiting photo blogs to see pictures of weddings and other events. Pictures speak volumes you know. I particularly find these interesting: pictures of grooms who look trapped and brides who look "triumphant," pictures of a groom crying as his bride walks down the aisle towards him, pictures of the faces of the in-laws as they receive their new daughter or son in a traditional wedding, and of course, pictures of wedding favors and memorabilia with captions like "Nene HOOKS Obinna." (That word "hooks" is so hilarious to say Obinna be fish and Nene be fisherman .... Poor Obi! LOL!)

Introducing: Essay Competitons

Image Source: Flickr 
When I was in secondary school (senior secondary, at least), I participated in a couple of essay competitions.  Of course, I did not win all the time, but I did win a few. Regardless of the outcome of each competition, participating really helped improve my writing skills and made me more inquisitive.  It was a defining point in my life because I realized that I could write and be taken seriously.  But, I would not have participated if I did not KNOW about them.  So knowledge of the competition was key.

In light of this, I have decided to feature any essay competitions I come across on this blog.  I am not sure secondary school students read my blog, but I would like to believe that those who read the blog know secondary school students or university students who might be interested. I mentioned those two levels because for the most part, the competitions require you to be "in school" (secondary, university, etc).  Anyway, enough of my rambling.

UGreen Foundation, an organization based in Ebonyi State, Nigeria has organized a "Change your World" essay contest in honor of the United Nations International Year of Youths, which runs from August 2010 - August 2011.  You can find more details at The Bookaholic Blog.

Please note the following RULES:

The Peacock and the Egg [Featured Artiste: Midnight Crew]

Male Peacock / Image Credit: Flickr
Do you remember that age-old question, “Which comes first: the chicken or the egg”? Well, I thought about it recently and frankly I don’t care which comes first as long as they all end up well-cooked and seasoned on my plate (*dodges tomatoes, lettuce and even okra from animal lovers*). But I decided to name this blog post “The Peacock and the Egg” for two reasons:

1.  I wanted an excuse to put up a picture of a peacock on my blog (How shallow…I know *covers face with hands*); and

2.  I was thinking of music videos and how they remind me of peacocks.  Oya, let me explain.

The Nigerian music industry as a whole has undergone a serious makeover in the last couple of years in terms of audio quality, but the music videos have made this even more obvious.  If you examine the quality (not necessarily the content….leave that one for now) of music videos today, they tend to be much better than they were about 10 years ago.  Agreed? The music video is not just the next logical step after releasing the audio version of a song on radio; it is a very potent marketing tool.  At least, I think so (*smiles*).  Music videos today tend to be quite colorful and well…interesting.  The gospel music videos are of course not left out. You don’t just see some sisthren and brethren wearing gloves and waving (or worse still dancing “choreography”) anymore.  Well, “anymore” is too general.  Let’s just say it is on the decline! The videos are actually now more…emmm… “watchable” and presentable.  

Dear Diary [Featured Artiste: J Bones]

Image Source: Flickr

The format is a bit different, but I decided to have some fun with today’s blog post.  Enjoy!

Dear Diary:

I am humbled.  I can’t believe I won that poetry competition! Yes, that one I almost didn’t participate in.  ‘Almost’ is such a strange word now because it no longer applies to that *ahem*…. I won’t repeat it.  And to think I stood in the kitchen and wrote those four lines.  I am not even a poet, but I wonder at all the opportunities that I have allowed to pass me by, just because I did not even try.  Well, that was yesterday.  Tomorrow is pregnant with so many possibilities and that is something I can look forward to.  But this poetry has put me in a reflective mode again.  You know, that mode where I ask many questions and the answers suggest themselves too hastily. Or sometimes the answers hide away for days, weeks, months, years enticing me to seek them out. 

Of Beads and White Shinning Teeth [Featured Artiste: Chudy]

I can hardly believe we are already in August.  This 2011 is going by very quickly (for me sha!)

Before I begin, I would like to first say “Thank You” to all those who follow and / or comment on this blog. I truly appreciate your support!

And, I would also like to say CONGRATULATIONS to a fellow blogger, Michael Onobote (@moifrequency) as he celebrates the FIRST year anniversary of his blog today. Please check out his blog when you can as he has interesting stuff to share.

And now for today’s post (*pushes glasses further back against her face and blinks at the computer screen*). When I hear the word “Passion,” the first image that usually comes to my mind is that of a dancer swinging her hips (and everything else that can be “swung”) to the exciting beats of a drum. While I won’t claim to be a good dancer (notice I said “good” not even “great”…. *laughs*), I really admire those who are. In fact, if you saw me dancing, you would probably beg me to keep my day job! LOL! One particular type of dance that fascinates me is the Atilogwu dance. 

Atilogwu Dancers
Once I get past the mandatory body odor (for real…I don’t know why, but generally, cultural dancers tend to have serious B.O. Please don’t ask me how close I was to catch a whiff of their “deodorant-less” armpits), I have to wonder how the dancers are able to maintain their balance, keep the audience entertained and wowed, while their faces reflect what their bodies are expressing. They are always smiling, and it is not just a shy, reluctant one, but a big, wide one, with their 303 teeth exposed (Okay, I exaggerated! If I met a human being with that number of teeth, I wouldn’t care about their talents or lack thereof. I would “tu danu!” (run for my life) because that is not normal!) 

Post "SS" Beef [Featured Artiste: 'Motola]

Behold a “rant-and-rave” blog post! (*giggles*) The title of this entry notwithstanding, I am not about to launch into an in-depth analysis of beef and its many qualities and uses.  And no, I am not about to lay out the recipe for banga soup either….LOL! Okay, enough with the intrigue already! “SS” here stands for “Secondary School.”  I must have mentioned secondary schools a couple of times on this blog, but what I neglected to mention was the name of the one I attended.  I am still not ready to disclose that, but I do have a bone of contention with certain “admirers” (Oh, I’m sorry! I do believe I misspelt that word! I actually meant to spell this one: H-A-T-E-R-S! LOL! Or like Yoruba folks who swallow their “H” would pronounce it, ‘ATERS’)

I attended a well-known federal government college in Nigeria, and while I have never had a problem with that, I have noticed that more than a few people do.  

My experience in Nigeria AND surprisingly, here in the US, is that people often ask me what secondary school I attended (no one really asks about primary school) and as soon as I say the name of the school, the comments start rolling in.  By the time I give examples, I suspect you may probably guess at the school sef….LOL!  Oya, here are examples of reactions:

L2: A Second Language [Featured Artiste: Dach-Mo]

My native language is NOT English.  It is Yoruba.  Are you shocked? I doubt it, but I will explain myself nonetheless.  I define “native language” for myself alone, as the language spoken by members of my ethnic group.  Being that I am from Lagos (Yes, I really am from Lagos), it is obvious why I would assert that Yoruba is my native language.  But, the problem with this my definition is that it does not apply to everyone else.  It is essentially “discriminatory,” the reason being that so many other people cannot define their native language the way I defined mine.  In fact, some people would even argue with me that English is their native language.  But, I disagree.  While English is the OFFICIAL language of Nigeria because we were colonized by “Mama Sha-ly” and her people (okay, I ought to just say “The British,” but Mama Sha-ly sounded well….cooler! *grinning*), it is not our native language because we are not originally from England.  

It is amazing how a person’s perspective can change just by living in another man’s land, and that is what happened to me. When I lived in Nigeria, I never really thought about language as per whether English was the official language, bla, bla, bla.  In fact, I never had any desire to speak anything else other than English and maybe other European languages like French (call it “colo-mentality” as in “colonialism mentality” and you’d be quite correct).  Fast-forward to a few years in the US, and my perspective has changed. Not only am I more interested in learning Yoruba, but my interest in learning Hausa has been re-kindled as well.  Okay, let me explain.

Beyond the Laughter [Featured Artiste: Kome]

Whoa! It’s been quite a while since I updated! I need to be more consistent (you don’t say….*loaded with sarcasm*).  But instead of groaning and complaining, I am going to get right to it! (Yay!)

So, by now, most people must have either seen the clips of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) pageant or at least “heard” about the bloops and unbelievable ‘ibons.’  (How stale of me, shey?! Weeks after de tin don cool down finish, I just dey yarn my own tory! But I am going somewhere with this, ehn, just hang on) Now, I personally don’t really care for pageants because I really think the most beautiful girls in Nigeria (or in the world) for that matter may never be seen on TV.  They tend to be the ordinary people that just will not be in front of a camera for any number of reasons.  Having said that, I watched the clips of both the “Good, Bad and Ugly” moments before the pageant and the “Silver moments.”  

Where it all begins [Featured Artiste: Gold Help Owen]

First off, I want to thank every single person that has commented or is following this blog.  I truly appreciate it!

Now, let’s get to it, shall we?! (*moon-walks, does a little hyper dance and cracks knuckles before finally sitting down calmly*)

I could not really think of what to call this blog post because although I knew what I wanted to talk about, I did not know how to approach the topic.  So, please bear with me if I seem a little scatter-brained today. So, one thing I have observed with regards to education in Nigeria and particularly, primary school education is that it is probably the MOST important part of the educational journey of a person.  I know you might think it is college that can be the deal-breaker, but primary school is it (in my own opinion sha), because it is the foundation on which everything else is built.  And when it is not solid, it shows in everything that individual does.  Okay, enough of abstract terms. Let me illustrate.

10 FASCINATING Nigerian Names (and why) [Featured Artiste: Ogecha]

Image Source: Kathy Ponce on Flickr
So, I did a little bit of re-modelling and settled on this template (for now, at least).  I had no idea that finding a template could be so difficult. Or maybe it is just because I am so picky! Oh well, either way, I visited a couple of blogs over the past week and noticed that several of them (e.g. Myne Whitman, The Corner Shop) were emptying the contents of their purses (which I thought was quite interesting) and putting them on display.  But you will not be seeing the contents of my purse anytime soon (*sticks out tongue*).  I don’t think I should do that right now since I am just getting the hang of this blogging thing. However, from looking at those pictures, I got an idea: put up a post on some Nigerian names I have always found fascinating and a few random reasons why I find these names…well….interesting (how original, right?! *laughs*)

So, without much further ado, here is my list of TEN (10) Nigerian names I find fascinating IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER (Why ten? I don’t have a good reason for that o! Maybe because all these yeye countdowns usually use “10” for some reason….Or maybe because last year was “2010”….Or maybe because Nigeria’s independence day is in October, the “TENTH” month….Okay, let me stop rambling and get right down to it already!!!)

I see GAPS! (Featured Artiste: Dach-Mo)

Picture from HERE
I feel privileged to have had the level and quality of education that has brought  me to this point. Having gone to school in both Nigeria and America, I have seen the way things work educationally in both countries. Of course, that does not mean I know it all (Does anyone know EVERYTHING except God?), but from my own limited experience, I see HUGE gaps (which are essentially problems) with the way the educational system operates in Nigeria. Now, at this point, I guess I need to insert a disclaimer, i.e. that I do not advocate identifying problems and doing nothing about it (that seems to be what a lot of people do). In fact, this reminds me of a song I heard once (please bear with me…I randomly “burst into song”…I think it’s a part of my thought process…*laughs*):

Everybody said that anybody could do 
The important things somebody should do 
Everybody knows that anybody could do 
All the good things that nobody did

Just in case you need this, the song is called “Everybody said (but nobody did)” by Acapella. As I was saying, I do not advocate pointing accusing fingers at people and just pin-pointing problems, without proposing solutions or better still, implementing sustainable solutions. But I have come to understand that the best place to start when you are trying to figure out solutions to any problem, is to first IDENTIFY the problem. I personally think that the problem with education in Nigeria is not just a simple or straightforward one. It is multi-faceted and can be summarized in this way:

Green Light (Featured Artiste: PITA)

Picture from HERE
There are many things I want to say, but I know that if I say them all at once, you will not understand me.  So, I will take my sweet time to speak slowly, softly, articulately [All these adverbs sef...] and hopefully, you'll finally understand me.  I may ramble on and on from time to time, but please bear with me. Every blog post is purposeful and meaningful.

So with this unnecessary (LOL) introduction, I am taking the plunge into the convoluted and exciting world of blogging. I love Nigeria not just because I am a Nigerian, but also because I happen to be one of those who are incurably optimistic about Nigeria (see, I have used Nigeria 3 times in one sentence...I don't know if that is good or bad...who's counting?!) I also love gospel music (specifically Nigerian gospel music), desperately want to see huge improvements in the quality of education in Nigeria and love writing.  All these will be reflected in my writings and as I embark on this journey, I hope you'll learn to love Nigeria AND Nigerians as much as I do.