Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I picked up the phone at the second ring. “Hey, brotherman! How the go dey go now?” said the voice on the other line. As far as I knew, there were only two persons in the world that used the term brotherman when referring to each other; me and Toyin, my long lost friend.

“Toyin baba!” The realization hit me almost immediately.

“Yeah,” Toyin laughed in that deep-throated way only he knew how to. “The one and only. Long time no see, man. How have you been?”

The last time Kayode and I saw was three years ago, just a few months after we finished our NYSC.

“So, what’s new, brotherman?” I asked him that unexpected parting weekend.

“Man, I think I have to get back to the North,” Toyin replied.


“I miss that place. Man, it was fun during service, wasn’t it? He reminisced.

“It sure was,” I replied. And put one and two together. “This is all about Rekiya, right?” I asked him.
“Yes. I miss her so much that it hurts.” He had been broaching the issue of relocating to the North for weeks. But I had passed it off as a joke. Toyin had lived all his life in the South. Why move up North all because you discovered you ‘unbelievably gelled’ (according to Toyin) with someone you only met during your service year?

“But, you guys talk on the phone every other day”

“It’s not enough. I have to bring her down to Lagos with me, body and soul,” he said.

That was the last I heard of him, until his phone call today raised a lot of questions why time flew so fast.

“I just breezed into town some hours ago. There is a lot to catch up on. How about a drink on Friday?” he asked.

“Man, you’ve not changed,” I laughed. Toyin had a reputation for always being business like with his conversations. ‘My first question is, where have you been all these years that we couldn’t reach you?”

“Venus,” he chuckled. “We would also talk about that when we see. I promise, okay.”

“Okay o, anyhow you want it. But, it’s so good to hear your voice again,’ I said.

“Same here, brotherman, same here.” He replied. There was a pause. And a thousand memories flashed through in three seconds. After a little banter, we agreed to hook up over the weekend.

As I drove home, father’s words about keeping in touch with your friends kept ringing in my head. Michael Jackson, the king of Pop, has passed on a few days earlier. Father had always idolized him for what he called his passion and creativity. How MJ singlehandedly wanted to make the world a better place but was let down by his friends.

“No one was really there for MJ to still his troubled soul,” father said about him. And he berated some
particular persons who came out in public to eulogize MJ to high heavens as being their best friend.

“Those guys are leeches,” father fumed. “They rode with MJ when he was on top of the world only to leave him on the ground.” Father continued, “Your best friend should be one who would stick with you through and through,” father said. ‘He would be your ally in the face of enmity, your truth in the midst of lies. He would criticize you and praise you when it calls for either. He is your best critic and admirer.” For father, MJ’s so called best friends were none of these.

“You are saying these because MJ was your idol,” I argued. “C’mon, MJ had personal insecurities he couldn’t deal with as well. Don’t just blame his friends for his untimely death.”

“But, how come they all deserted him during his trying times?” father retorted. “Surely there was something they could have done” he said in a question-statement manner.

Suddenly it hit me that I never bothered to find out what happened to Toyin after we lost contact. God, I hope everything has been okay with him all these years, I prayed silently.

“No matter how hard we try to be sometimes. Truth is, everybody needs a friend, a real friend, somewhere, somehow,” father’s words rang in my ear as I pulled into my neighbourhood. “Keep in touch” were Toyin’s last words to me when he left then. Why didn’t he do same? I wondered. Whatever happened to friendship without conditions? My conscience replied me.


Sunday, October 11, 2009


But, what did you expect at the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards, MAMA? It was conceived to be Africa’s own Grammy awards to honour African artistes and not an African-American show. So, it was fitting that, despite being nominated with global Hip-Hop heavyweights such as Kanye West and Jay Z, M.I won the best Hip-Hop Act at the 2009 edition of MAMA. Incidentally, one of M.I’s musical dreams is to perform a duet with Kanye West on the same stage. Maybe that is the signal.

However, it does not take away the fact that M.I truly deserved it. With the prevalence of rhythmic jibes against one another, M.I’s entrance into the Nigerian Rap/ Hip-Hop music scene was welcomed as a breath of fresh air. Moreso, he came on stage with even more creative punch lines and intelligent lyrics that kept most listeners thinking deep after his music was done. Mr. Incredible aka M.I certainly chose his stage name well. M.I truly represents what RAP music should be: Rhythms And Poetry. Undiluted. Uncorrupted. Original. Beautiful Poetry in motion.

But, M.I was not done yet. He also took home the Best New Act award. Congratulations M.I! The world is your stage. Keep the music playing.

Oh, by the way, Wyclef Jean was there with Akon! Wyclef also paid tribute to late South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, who was honoured with a post humous award, the (newly introduced) MAMA's Hip-hop Legend Awards.

2009 MTV Africa Music Awards: List of winners

1. Best New Act – M.I.
2. Best Hip-Hop Act – M.I.

3. Best Listener’s Choice Awards – Nameless
4. Best Group – P Square
5. Best Female – Amani
6. Best Performer – Samini
7. Best Male – Nameless
8. Best RnB Act – 2Face
9. Best Alternative – Zebra & Giraffee
10. Best Video – HHP
11. Artist of the Year – D’Banj

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Edna and I have been going out, officially, for three years now. But before then, we have been an item for… like forever. Well, since our university days, that is. Before I was finally ‘convinced’ to get my own mobile phone, I used the land line at home as my contact phone. Since my folks were not always at home, I gave father’s number out as well, but only to a few friends – the ones I could really trust. Of course, Edna was one. She always called home, at weekends, whenever we were on holidays or ASUU was on strike.

Those days, there was a running joke in my house. I could always hide the identity of my other ‘girl friends’ from the rest of the house whenever anyone of them calls. But, if it was Edna on the line, my emotions always gave me out. “Edna!” I always answered her call with the excitement of a besotted toddler. So, the joke was, whenever the phone rings for me, everybody in the house goes “…Edna!” Or sometimes, when they want to be mischievous, they just scream “Edna!” to my face, for no reason at all. Most times, I made a face back, especially if it was my sisters that were the pranksters. But I relished it silently. Everybody in my family had always known this particular girl friend of mine was ‘special’ to me. Not only that, even before they met her, they fell for her voice. It was the same thing for me. Okay, I admit I am a sucker for beautiful voices. But, Edna’s… was different. It was poetry in motion. Hers felt like ice cream on a stick or a refreshing drink after a long thirst. Edna’s voice was so full of music and soul. You would feel the same way if you had met her. Okay, I would tell you how I met Edna; but, not today.

“What do you mean, father,” I asked.

“Son, have you decided on Edna yet?” he asked. We had talked about Edna recently and father wanted to know the latest. “There are so many things involved,” I told him then. “For now, I’m not so sure about how to fix it.”

“So, have you,” he asked again.


“That’s good,” father smiled. He had developed a fondness for Edna, almost like she was already his adopted daughter from the cradle.

“But I still have butterflies in my stomach,” I said. He put his arm around me and looked at me in that sort of fatherly-like assurance.

“Son, listen to your heart. But, let the Lord lead you,” said father. “It matters how and when you say it, do you understand me?” he searched my eyes as if they were running away from the obvious.

“I understand, but….”

“No ‘buts’. Be decisive. Pick your favourite spot. Or better still, give her a surprise. But make sure you do it right. Seize the moment and make her yours. You have to take a chance to stand the chance,” father said.

“Aye, Aye, sir!” I stood up and made a mock salute to him while he sat down.

He waved me off with a smile. “Life is full of bogus things, but never lose your focus, son. Choosing whom you would spend the rest of your life with needs all the concentration of your mind, body and spirit, a hundred percent.” Every successful relationship, he noted, was built on as much careful planning as any other successful business enterprise. There goes father, the consummate business man and relationship/marriage counselor. “Sometimes, love is not enough. Both of you must be compatible. Be certain about your road map for the future, and how you truly feel about her. If she fits into it, then she fits. The rest will naturally fall into place. Just trust God.”

“Don’t always trust your feelings. Instead, learn to understand your instincts.” As father stood up from the sofa, he did the unexpected.

“I can sell fire in hell and water to a well. Put me anywhere on God’s green earth and I will triple my worth,” he said, gesticulating like a hip-hop artiste would do. I thought I didn’t hear clearly, but my father actually rapped those famous lines.

“Father, that’s Jay Z!” I said incredulously.

“I know,” father laughed. “Just because you think I’m ‘old school’ doesn’t mean I don’t have to learn the new school,” he said.

“Hmmn,” I remarked. “I could sell condom to a eunuch or a priest too,” I replied him.

“Don’t. It would corrupt the whole monastery,” We both laughed.

“Thank you, father,” I said as I hugged him. His words were just the necessary prompting I needed to make the next big decision of my life.

I made a mental note to call Edna as soon as I got home. Just then, my phone rang.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I've been thinking: maybe we should suggest a change of name for the organizers of MOBO. That is, from MOBO to MONO.

Yeah, instead of Music Of Black Origin, it should now be known as Music Of Nigerian Origin. Or how else would you reward the undisputable fact that Nigerian music and artistes are the hottest commodities from Africa today?...Okay, just kidding!

But, it is noteworthy that Nigerian artistes have been dominating MOBO for the past three years. First it was Tuface, then 9ice swept MOBO Best African Act, now it is our very own NNEKA as MOBO Best African Act 2009! The 2009 edition was held in Glasgow, UK.

Abegi, everybody give Naija people three Gbosas jare... Gbosa! Gbosa!! Gbosa!!!

Nneka’s musical influences include Afro-beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill. She also cites writer and human rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa as an inspiration. Just before she travelled to attend the MOBO awards in the UK, the singer and song writer told me about her musical influences. ‘They express themselves in a very simple manner,” she said. Nneka is obviously a gifted artiste with a lot of musical depth. Her gritty style, haunting voice and political lyrics have already won her a worldwide audience.

"I hadn't even heard of the MOBOs until two weeks ago," said the 27-year-old, who described herself as a daughter of the Niger Delta region. Born and bred in Warri, Nneka is a study of the sheer power of determination to succeed. She has beauty, brains, brawn, and an amazing talent. One of her songs, "Heartbeat", has also been nominated for Channel O Awards in the following categories: Most Gifted FEMALE VIDEO/Most Gifted NEWCOMER VIDEO/Most Gifted WEST AFRICAN VIDEO. Watch out for that too. One thing looks certain though, the world is going to hear a lot more from this gifted and beautiful Nigerian artiste (she also paints).

"It will help more people hear about my music,” she said about her winning the MOBO award. “But it's not about me it's the continent and its music." Amazing. No matter where a diamond is, it would always shine through to farther places. And there is no bigger stage than a global audience for Nneka to shine through.

Despite her mixed parentage, German/Nigerian, Nneka is passionate about Nigeria as her motherland. “If you’re not proud of where you’re coming from or who you are as a person, how would you expect someone else to be?” She said to me earlier, just before she left for the MOBO Awards. Nneka’s albums include Victim of Truth (2005) and No Longer at Ease (2008).

Once again, Congratulations, Nneka! Keep representing Naija at the top and making us proud!


Best African Act - Nneka

Best UK Act - N-Dubz

Best Newcomer - JLS

Best Song - Beat Again by JLS

Best Album - N-Dubz

Best DJ - Trevor Nelson

Best Hip Hop - Chipmunk

Best R&B - Keri Hilson

Best International Performer - Beyonce

Best Video - Beyonce, Single Ladies

Best Reggae - Sean Paul

Best Jazz - Yolanda Brown

Best Gospel - Vic Tizzle

Thursday, October 1, 2009


"Happy Independence celebrations!” One of my colleagues greeted me. I replied cheerfully. “Happy Independence celebrations!” she greeted another. He sneered. “What is there to celebrate?” “Having not being kidnapped is something worth celebrating,” another of my colleague quipped. Funny, but sad.

Nigeria clocks 49 today. But a country that chooses not to learn from its past would grope in the present and stumble into the future.

There was a time in this country where you could leave your door open and your neighbours would keep watch for you, even if you were gone for days. No, we don’t even know our neighbours. When we do, we can’t trust them. Security of lives and property is a big issue. There was a time when stealing N100 was a big deal in this country. Today, even a child sneers when you give him N20 as ‘dash’. Today, when some politicians steal a N100 million naira, they are given chieftaincy titles. Age and figure falsification is an acceptable practice today. Ask the Golden Eaglets. There was a time when a 21 year-old Nigerian was really 21. “Everybody does it,” some would say. See? What more shows a warped up value system than a country which runs on dishonesty (no matter how simple it looks), sneers at its heroes and glorify thieves? There was a time when Nigerians obeyed the simplest of traffic laws. Today, the other man on the steering deliberately bashes the side of your car because you are trying to do the right thing while driving. There was a time when the cashier at the supermarket or filling station would run after you to give back your N5, N10, N20 ‘change’. Today, they would tell you, “Haba, bros…” or “na dat small change dey make you hala?” Materialism is celebrated, ‘it doesn’t ‘really’ matter how you made the money, as long as you have it’. There was a time when the right amount of fuel is sold at filling stations. Today, air is pumped into your car or jerry cans and you wonder why after buying 25 litres worth of fuel, your 20 litre can is still not filled up. It’s a long list of there-was-a-time for many Nigerians (you can share yours too). Maybe when we remember how things used to be in a ‘sane’ society, we can start doing something to change the present situation in the country.

The problem with Nigeria lies in the corruption of our value system.
It reflects on the kind of poor leadership the country’s had over the years. That’s the reason why Nigerians vote crooks into government and encourages thieves into positions of authority.

“What is there to celebrate? Nigeria is like a bomb waiting to explode,” my colleague complained. So many things need to be fixed in this country, yes. But ‘this bomb’ shouldn’t be allowed to explode. You and me can make a difference. By what we do with our lives and to our personal value systems in this country. A corrupt system is created by a society who by action or inaction of its people encouraged the erosion of the right value system. There would always be bad people in society, but a functioning system would ensure checks and balances. Haven’t you wondered why Nigerians are so law abiding when they go to foreign countries? It’s because those countries have built up the right value systems.

Nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice. Yes, Nigeria got independence on a platter of gold. But we don’t need a bloody revolution. What Nigeria needs is a mental revolution; a re-orientation of her value system. The sacrifice lies in us giving up tribalism, nepotism, corruption, dishonesty and hypocrisy. It lies in us sacrificing our vast differences on the altar of unity and the right ideals. That is when true independence freedom starts. Until there is a tangible commitment from the leaders and the led to imbibe and promote the right value system as one people, it would still be a long road to salvation. But I believe things can work well for this country. I have faith in my generation to change the course of this nation for good…to greatness.

I welcome you into a new Nigeria where we would be our brothers’ keeper, where equality would be the name of the game in the practice of politics, where institutionalized corruption would be a thing of the past, where things work. 24 hour electricity, good road networks, good governance, a functional education system, robust financial services…; when one, two, three generations after, the presently unborn Nigerians can look back to this history (today), smile and say, yes, these people made the sacrifice for us to be this great nation. Nigeria can be made better, by you and me; because WE can make a big difference, by first adopting the right value system – patriotism, honesty, truth, hardwork, determination…. (fill in the gaps) - and running with it.

“Let us be the change that we seek in the world,” Mahatma Ghandi once said. It takes a small stone to spread a ripple effect on water. Simple things matter. Look into the mirror. A positive national change can start from you; in your family, school, church, work place or community. Then, the ripple effect begins.

Recently, I asked Dr. Myles Munroe how the gap between Third World countries (which include Nigeria) and the First World countries can be reduced. He said “when we begin to see that we don’t need the first world countries to become successful, that the secret of our success is in our own countries.” Nigeria must be built by Nigerians, on the right values.

“There is a lot to celebrate, other than not been kidnapped,” I replied my friend. ‘It’s the divine opportunity to influence a positive change in my generation.”

Happy Independence Celebrations, Nigeria