The Failure of Nigeria; We Are No Longer At Ease

If you are a Nigerian living in a developed country, especially If you schooled there, you would — at some point — have had a burning desire to go back home to either serve politically or with entrepreneurial skills you might have garnered from schooling. This desire is often innocently driven by a strong belief that Nigeria can be better than it currently is and all it needs is a few educated people like yourself who have lived within a working system, to have a seat at the table and steer the country on the right course. Other times, when interrogated properly, this misguided notion is driven by a messiah complex.

The truth is Nigeria cannot be saved by just “Quality foreign education and good intentions”. The country is not bereft of well-educated elites. The political problems in Nigeria are as a result of our social problems. In other words, until there is a change in our overall consciousness, no imported idea — no matter how good and tested — will work for us the way it works for others.

I do not believe we are capable of producing leaders — in or outside Nigeria — that can make Nigeria a better country politically. You would agree that there are no shortages of well-educated elites in Nigeria. The problem is that before most of us are anything else, we are Nigerians first. Until we clearly define what it means to be a Nigerian and collectively discard the cultures that no longer (or have never) serve (d) us, Nigeria will continue to be a failed state. The cultural diversity of Nigeria reduces any chance of this happening. Education and good intention wouldn’t matter. At best, we would make minuscule improvements but it wouldn’t matter because other serious countries would grow at a hundred times more than ours.

I was thinking about this few days ago and I remembered Obi, the protagonist from Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at ease.

In this book, Achebe exposes the psychological and moral impact of the Nigerian society on the mind of the “good educated people” who go into politics with good intentions.

Obi was an idealistic young man with European education who had just returned from England to Nigeria, detribalized (so he thought), and bursting with hope and determination to serve with selfless devotion.

His schooling in Europe had been made possible by the people of his village, Umuofia, through the Umuofia scholarship scheme.

On his return, here is (an excerpt from the book) the chairman of Umuofia introducing Obi:

“We are happy that today, we have such an invaluable possession in the person of our illustrious son and guest of honor.”

In Nigerian context, the expectation of the people of Umuofia is very clear. Obi is some form of investment that must now repay them back by elevating their status in the society as quickly as possible, with the benefits and access his European education has granted him. After so much war with the system and tussling between him and the people of Umuofia, he yields to the societal pressure and succumbs to corruption.

Is there a difference between the uneducated people of Umuofia and the Nigerian educated elite? The answer will depress us. We are the people of Umuofia. They are us!

During our small talks with our friends who have any sort of power in Nigeria, we remind them that taking care of us and their immediate family must be their priority; we remind them that duty to immediate family and friends must trump individual integrity required to selflessly serve the society at large.

We can hold the Obi(s) in Nigeria accountable for their actions, but we also have to acknowledge that they are victims of social and political forces beyond their control.

Nigeria is a state that thrives on profiteering, racketeering, rent seeking, and more broadly, favoritism (Cronyism+Nepotism). Add every other form of corrupt ism known to mankind. Any form of probity or selflessness within the same system is immediately treated as an aberration and so will not survive as a result. The entire system runs like an extended polygamous family. Hardly anything can be achieved on merit. Even as illiteracy rates nosedive, no substantial development is happening. Instead, young educated Nigerians are fleeing the country in droves for a better chance at life.

I do not believe that Nigeria can produce leaders with the sheer Will-Power to break away from the society itself and do what is necessary. It is but a pipe dream.

To all the Nigerians with quality education, scattered around the west and nursing an innocent ambition to go back home and make a change in the Nigerian political sphere, I hate to break it to you that you are likely to end up like another Obi in Achebe’s book. Until there is a change in our overall consciousness as a people, Nigeria will not grow politically or socially at the rate we wish it to.

P.S. If you want to understand grassroots politics in Nigeria and how painfully difficult it is, pick up Aisha Oshori’s “Love Does Not Win Elections”.


Random thoughts on Books, Movies and Afrofuturism

A friend who saw and read my written thoughts on Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone said to me “But you tolerate futuristic movies, why then are you knocking Tomi Adeyemi’s book this hard?” It got me thinking, and I decided to share my thoughts.

Most of the Nigerians I know who read the book share my sentiments. Do you blame them?

If you are a Nigerian, you will struggle to like the book. I suspect that Tomi wouldn’t even care too much about what Nigerians think of her book. The truth is that we aren’t her target audience. She didn’t write it for us; and that is fine. We can’t afford her. We don’t buy books. She has sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide but I’d wager that only a tiny fraction of that was sold in Africa. Not that it matters, but purchasing powers isn’t the only problem here. For context, in 1980, Nnayi Achebe’s TFA cheap paperback edition sold 800 copies in Britain and 20000 copies in Nigeria. It sold about 2500 in all other places. No surprises there. Tomi’s story reads like it was written for or by Black-Americans who fantasize about going back to a mythical Africa.

There is also Nnedi Okorafor, another brilliant Nigerian/American Writer whose books have also been placed under the Afrofuturism category. Although, she has fought and resisted this label and has instead called her work Africanfuturism. Whatever! I don’t want to get into that.

Moving on — — — —

For me — and this is very personal — the only futuristic art I can tolerate is the one conveyed through movies.

Even though movies and books are similar and are forms of arts, I don’t engage them in a similar manner. For me, movies should just be direct and entertaining. I just want to enjoy it. I’m not hoping to encounter any deeper message. Maybe because I’m a Nigerian who grew up watching Nigerian movies and have made peace with the fact that movies can’t offer me what I look for in books. I just want it to be casual. I can watch it with people (cinemas, home with family etc.). It makes sense that this is how I feel about movies, because I also cannot stand History Channels or whatnot. Movie(s) is like the girl I want a casual relationship with; nothing too intimate and I don’t mind sharing her with my best friend or any other man or woman, if she swings that way. I don’t feel the same way about books. A book is more personal to me. I want to read it alone. Just me, experiencing different realities while looking into the dark and beautiful minds of different writers. Good, bad, dark, ugly. A book is the girl I want to wake up to every morning; the one I want to have a deep meaningful relationship with. The burden I place on writers is not the same I place on movie directors. A movie director can lie to me. I don’t mind. I can stand watching movies or shows that are futuristic and thoroughly enjoy them. I loved Wakanda (Black Panther). If Wakanda were a book, I don’t think I would read it. I can’t stand Afrofuturism. Don’t tell me that a gigantic rat is transporting people Nigerians between Ilorin and Lagos. I can’t bring myself to imagine it. Achebe reminds us: “while fiction might be fictitious, it could also be true or false.” I don’t mind being lied to by the movie director as long as the lie is fun and entertaining. Writers don’t get that pass from me. I guess I consider writing a more serious art and movie a less serious piece of art in my approach to consumption of both types of art.

Of course, this is ONLY about me and how I approach both arts. Movies, perhaps, have a wider and bigger influence on societies than books. It reaches a wider audience. Little wonder movies have been more successfully used as a propaganda tool by politicians in the past and even in the present.

I bought some books written by Tomi Adeyemi and one by Nnedi Okarofor. I have stacked them on my bookshelf for my unborn children. They might read them, and I suspect they would love them.

Here is a description of both writers I saw into on Twitter:

I know it’s a joke. But if you have read any of these Afrofuturistic books and are being honest, you can’t deny that somewhere hidden in the shadow of this tweet is an undeniable truth. Maybe I will change my mind when someone on the continent who actually knows about Nigeria writes Afrofuturism. Until then, I am not holding my breath.


Quick one On Becoming by Michelle Obama

When I first read that Michelle Obama would be publishing a book, I started counting down to the publish date. I like Michelle Obama, but my interest in the book goes beyond my liking of her.

I came to America in 2013, and quite frankly, that was the first time I actually cared enough to want to know what Obama was made of, and how a man like him rose to arguably the highest office in the world. Before I started living in the US, American politics never really interested me. I did not know much more than the fact that in 2008, a black man called Barack Obama became the first black president in America and that got the attention of the whole world. My thinking at the time can best be summed up as “what is the big deal?”

Living in a racially homogeneous country at that time — Nigeria, racial difference was not something I gave much thought to. Blackness was not a problem that needed to be solved, it was not something I needed to be proud of or ashamed of. It was simply being human as far as I knew.

Things took a different turn when I got to America. I needed to be proud of my color. I needed to be aware that there’s black and there is the other. I became interested in Obama’s story and then proceeded to read his first published book; Dreams From my Father. It was an incredible experience for me; an epiphany that changed my life in ways I will forever be grateful for. The book awakened a curiosity within me that made me rage-search for any sort of story about Barack Obama’s father. I started scouring the internet for something close to an autobiography of him. Finally, I stumbled on “The other Barack” by Sally Jacobs. I did a review Here.

Having read “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, I am now satisfied because this book feels like the missing puzzle in the jigsaw story of the Obamas. My reaction the day I finished reading was “It is now complete”.

For me, I like books that make me feel. Books that drive me through a rollercoaster of emotions and this book did just that. It took me through a paroxysm of different emotions because of how familiar and relatable the stories are. I am always grateful to people who are brave enough to share their stories because of the hope their stories afford us. There is comfort in knowing that our experiences are not entirely unique and the demons we are fighting can be conquered.

The book was grouped into 3 sections:


Here, she took us through a rollercoaster ride of her childhood, taking us through the plains of Race, Family, and growth. This was my favorite section; the one devoid of Barack. She wrote about her parents, grandparents, and her extended family. She talked about her protective brother, Craig; her father who was simply a superhero; her mother who is simply her everything; her stern and tender great-aunt, Robbie who owned the house where she lived as a kid and also taught her how to play the piano; her grumpy grandfather, Dandy, who had to let go of the idea of going to college and instead trained as an electrician but couldn’t get a well-paying job as an electrician because the color of his skin made sure he couldn’t join the Union. The way she dovetailed these stories and the adroitness with which she told them was incredible.


In this section, she talked about how she met Barack and how they ended up getting married. The bonus in this section is the sneak peek into the early life of Barack Obama and that of his parents and grandparents. If you have read Dreams from my Father, you will already know some of those things and be able to fit things together. She talked about miscarriages, the challenges of marriage, and the balancing of both marriage and career. She also talked about the fulfillment — or the lack thereof — that comes from career choices. She talked about the strain Barack’s political ambition put on their marriage and how they had sought professional counseling to guide them through it.


This section was unsurprisingly political. She talked about her time as the FLOTUS. She talked about growing into the role and the how she was held to a different standard by the American press. She also had some words for DT.

My favorite line in the book surfaced very early (in the preface): “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child — What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.

It had never occurred to me that no one becomes one thing or that we become one thing and then we stop and become fulfilled. Life is an endless metamorphosis; an endless unraveling of who we are. I dreaded that question as a kid. I used to just answer with “I want to be an engineer” for the simple fact that my mathematics was quite good. Now, I am an adult and I am not just an engineer. I have never really thought of job fulfillment or the lack of it. For me, fulfillment is a luxury only the privileged can afford to think of. Only the privileged would dare attach fulfillment, meaning, or happiness to a job. For me, it is all about the paycheck — for now. I also know that privilege is relative because, in a lot of circles, I would be tagged as privileged.

Another message from this book — which pains me to admit — is that Michelle Obama is never going to run for office. Her genuine dislike for politics envelopes every page in this book. I had once predicted she would run for office but I no longer think so.
On the last page, she writes: “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there is grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

This is not a book that needs recommendation. The book sells itself; I mean, Michelle Obama is the author. If you have kids, I can’t help but emphasis that you really want them to read this book.


“Easy Motion Tourist” by Leye Adenle

Anyone who knows me well enough knows I always scavenge for the latest Nigerian Literature books. My latest read is “Easy Motion Tourist” by Leye Adenle.

In this book, the author calls our attention to the lack of social justice and inequality crippling our society. He reminds us that prostitutes are humans and they also deserve our protection and respect. He challenges us to protect even the low income earners in our society and in an amazing style reminds us of the repercussions of ignoring our restless youths, the powerless and the voiceless in our society. He also brings back the debate on the regulation — or the lack of it — of prostitution in Nigeria. Should prostitution really be illegal?

The author addresses prostitution, police brutality, money ritual and corruption in Lagos, Nigeria.

The story was narrated through the voice of Guy, a half-baked British Journalist sent to Lagos to cover the upcoming elections. In the churning city of Lagos, Guy soon got caught up in its frenzy when he got picked up by the police as a witness to a gruesome murder case of a lady whose mutilated body was discarded just outside the bar where he had decided to hangout.

The protagonist, Amaka, is a fierce young lawyer and the only child of a Nigerian Ambassador. She devoted her life to protecting sex workers from abusers and ritualists in Lagos. To take one from the smorgasbord of Pa: There are feminists and there are feminists, Amaka is a double feminist. She has a database for the sex workers and their prospective customers which she had built over time. The prostitutes would text her the plate number of the car of a prospective customer and she would respond by letting them know if it was safe or not. Once they got there, they texted her other details that could be used to identify the clients. Amaka’s character is not patronizing; she is not perfect. Sometimes she is the angel who protects sex workers, take some off the streets and even send some to school. Other times, she resorted to blackmailing men who maltreated the working girls as a means of revenge. Amaka is gutsy; she raises a middle finger as she takes on the rich and powerful who try to harm sex workers in Lagos.

In her own words to Guy: “Prostitution is illegal in Nigeria so nobody watches out for these girls. They are molested, extorted, short-changed, raped, killed, you name it. What you saw, it has happened before. Not like that, not so openly, but at its worst that’s exactly what we try to prevent.”

There are lots of characters in this book. They were mostly all over the place but Leye masterfully interconnects them — albeit fleetingly in some cases. Each character feeding off others as they grow into their own uniqueness. Amazing stuff!! I thought there were some well coined monikers for some of the characters in the book that are worthy of a mention. To name some: Catch-fire, Go-slow, knockout, and the hot headed police officer, Sergeant Hot-temper. The author used the character of sergeant Hot-temper to highlight the brutality and recklessness of the Nigerian police. The impetuous police officer killed prisoners for the fun of it, with little or no accountability.

Leye also reminds us that the Nigeria Police force is structured to — primarily — protect the rich and powerful in Nigeria.

It is also important to point out that the title of the book was inspired by one of the songs of the king of Highlife, the late Guitarist, Fatai Rolling Dollar — “ Easy Motion Tourist” which was about a nocturnal misadventure.

Easy Motion Tourist” is a deliberate book that awakens ones sensitivity and awareness.

Grab a copy, read and enjoy. I got mine on Amazon.

On Language and Nigerian Literature

NB: The target audience — to me — is very clear. The characters were not overly explained. Leye didn’t write like someone trying to prove his intelligence, he simply wrote. I thoroughly enjoyed it and not once did I roll my eyes because a Nigerian colloquial was overly explained for the benefit of the other. That was the only problem I had with Chigozie Obioma’s “The Fishermen”. Listen to Obioma describe Molue: A beat up squeaking yellow painted bus with a constant metallic rattle”. For what? Ordinary Molue? I understand the need to overly explain indigenous words for the benefit of the other; the reason may be economic and I don’t blame those who do it. I don’t blame those who feel the need to prove their intelligence too. We are all humans. I’m also guilty.

I gave my Chinese-American colleague Americanah to read and for the past one week, we have been talking about the book; she has a ton of questions. She totally loved the book. Here is what she told me about some of the Igbo words: “Olu, I came across some words that seemed to be Nigerian language, I had to google some of them to understand what they meant. Some of them are just expressions”. I was proud of her. That is a serious reader who gives a damn about the space she’s reading about not someone with a shocking sense of entitlement who thinks everything should be overly explained for them.


On growing up and other random musing

I’m from a lineage of hopeless romantic lots–in our own way of course. We walk the talk, ask my mother. You will find her on WhatsApp, blessing her contacts with daily Open Heaven devotionals. She doesn’t know about Instagram or twitter yet, when she does, una go hear am. I imagine her on Instagram; gleefully posting Pastor Adeboye’s picture every day, with each day’s daily devotion as the caption–unapologetically. I would probably unfollow her—quietly; she might not know. I love my mother.

You know, some of these things are genetic. It is what it is. I see a lot of my father in me, even more than I would like to admit. I suspect, that, for him, love is a duty. To be there when we need him, to put our needs ahead of his and nothing more. Not so much of affection is involved. Again, it is what it is.

Over the past few years, I’ve carefully examined my strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to relationships. What I bring into relationships, how I compare and contrast to those who came before me (this includes my father, grandfather and one of my uncles whom I have also had the honor to watch from close proximity). I see them in me; their individual strengths and weaknesses. My father is not one to call you to say sorry when he’s wrong or draw you close for a hug, he would rather strike a conversation he knows you are very keen on having or quickly fulfil a request that had been pending-mostly monetary of course, or he would give you money without you asking for it. I could tell that he was making efforts to make it up to me in his own way. In retrospect, it wasn’t always enough for me but as I grew up, I understood that that was his own way of showing love. It wasn’t perfect but it didn’t make his love for me any less. Growing up, I realized, that our parents aren’t perfect and they aren’t supposed to be. I have learned to not see them in the “exalted status” of parents, but as humans who also make mistakes.

Of course, this is not to say I know these important figures in my life like the palm of my hand, but to the best of my knowledge, I have watched and taken what I can from them. Their life—to an extent—showed me some of the signboards that displayed the twists and turns in life and I made sure I paid attention. What this has done for me is not to magically take away my weaknesses or amplify my strengths but it has definitely helped me to understand myself better and also given me a profound  sense of awareness; and so I consciously fight every day to work on the weaknesses and retain the strengths. It is a journey; probably a life time journey, I don’t know.

The love of my life, sometimes, albeit halfheartedly, says to me: “I don’t even know what I’m doing with you”. Make no mistake, I am fully aware that I’m a piece of work. I take solace in the self-awareness of my own weaknesses and with love I am able to sometimes avoid these mistakes. I am by no means claiming that self-awareness has miraculously turned me into the fearless hunter in the forest of a thousand demons, who can wade through the arrows of life unscathed. Of course not. It has only given me the hope that every day brings a fresh chance for me to be better, and that all I can do is to try to be better rather than venture on a futile quest for the idyllic. Utopia is a farce.

It has taught me that—just like those before me are not perfect, I couldn’t be perfect no matter how hard I tried.

Sometimes, I find myself in some situations and think, how would daddy have reacted to this? How would my Uncle have reacted? Which one is best? What should I do? To be honest, it gets scary sometimes, almost to the point of paranoia.

This attitude is borne off my willingness to learn from those who came before me and my acknowledgement of how similar I am to them. The acknowledgement, that some of the demons I’m fighting are the ones they fought and conquered or the ones they are still trying to conquer or the ones that conquered them.

My biggest lesson so far has been to operate at the topmost echelon of consciousness and awareness with those around me, especially my loved ones.

Literature has also helped me a lot. It has helped me to see the imaginations of people that are different from me. It is interesting. Literature has helped me to reduce my biases, and also breached the gap between my strengths and weaknesses. Reading is good. I should read more. Books are powerful; they have the power to ferry one into other people’s minds; even the minds of dead people. I love Chinua Achebe’s mind, I’ve been there several times. Even though he is dead, his mind is alive. I walk in there anytime I want to. Books are beautiful.

I am thankful for the growth. I am thankful to those who came before me; who lived a transparent life that showed me some of the twists and turns in life and gave me their shoulders to stand on so I can see farther than I ought to.



Dear Anímáshaun,

God created you in his own image.
But in your quest for utopia,
You got robbed by Báyò. Olá. Emeka
What about Túndé?
The one who grinded your heart into molecules,
And fed the pieces to his demons of insecurities;
He ignored you like the Americans
Ignore the letter T!
Look at you now,
No, look at what is actually left of you
Nothing but a mimicry
Of what used to be.
Are you still a spitting replica of God’s image?
It is time to rise up and walk back
To the dawn of your days,

To recollect the you of your yesterday.

You were beautifully and wonderfully made.

Ode to my Grandmother (Olajumoke Aduke Tinubu)

My mother left me a message on WhatsApp on Thursday;
“Grandma is unconscious”.
I was at the office and I muttered “Blood of Jesus”
I rushed to google to ask her what unconscious meant, did you even know Google Grandma?
She is a know-it-all machine and I trust her, another wizardry from the white man.
She told me not to worry too much, “that you probably aren’t feeling any pain”.
Your heart was beating but your body wasn’t dancing to the beats,
Your body must have been very tired.
Maybe you just wanted to announce your own death;
To give those around you the opportunity to listen to the rhythm of your heartbeat before crossing to the other side.
How kind and considerate of you Grandma,
Although I’m not sure it helped much.
Wumi and I always spoke of your resilience,
You hung on for so long
Against all odds.
And we are proud of you.
I woke up to another message from my mum on Friday,
Saying: “She died”
I thought I had prepared myself for this message,
But it stung me and I felt very sad!
Suddenly, I remembered when I’d visit you at Oke-oniti
And I would run my hands through your fragile body.
You would say “Stop touching me if you won’t give me money”
And then smile and follow up with a word of prayer.
The thoughts of those smiles will forever be etched on my memories.
I have heard stories of your bravery, sacrifices and doggedness
From my Mother and Mummy Dolapo;
I walked in on them several times as they talk about you gleefully.
Everyone is proud of you;
You did well by your children.
We, your grandchildren are all doing well and progressing,
Your children have not tried to separate us.
The family is big and knitted together,
We all keep in touch with each other and
Celebrate some of our victories and pains together.
We will create a museum in our hearts,
And immortalize your triumphant stories.
We will tell them to our children and their children
And watch them with pride as they bask in the tales of your greatness.
You won’t be forgotten.
Even after writing all this,
I am still sad.
Maybe because some pains are our duty to keep.
But I’m sure it will get better,
Because even though the human side of us weep,
The spiritual side of us rejoices as we know this transition is worthy of a PRAISE.  
Sùn re o Àdùké










Many moons ago,

I went to the market square,

Saw a beautiful goddess

And was left bereft of words


I then remembered what my father used to tell me


Metaphor is the horse of words;

And when a word is lost,

A metaphor is used to find it.”


When she was about to walk past me,

I quickly closed my eyes,

And knelt to pray.

And behold, she did not pass.

Today, we celebrate a year together.


Never again – Will I sit on the fence And I wish I could also March with Tu-face Idibia

I wrote this post on Saturday before I read the protest had been called off by Tuface himself. It is not my place to judge Tuface given that I am writing this post thousands of miles away from Nigeria. It is what it is. I believe that the protest is still going to happen but I’m not sure if it would be as effective. Today, I salute those who gave everything including their lives for our freedom, no be beans.

Please read!

I am just a man who was lucky enough to be born into a middle-class Nigerian family somewhere in Osun-State, so I doubt if I would have been able to swing votes or any of that stuff during the 2015 presidential election; not even that of my siblings who were old enough to cast votes. However, one of my deepest personal regrets in the past few years has been my fencist position during the last election. My position during the 2015 election was more nuanced than those who outrightly supported Buhari and presented him as the best thing since sliced bread.

I was utterly disgusted with the ineptness of Jonathan’s administration like a lot of Nigerians that I did not consider a fact — now known — that we could have it worse and not necessarily better. I was faced with a conundrum of desperately wanting the Jonathan led administration to go and a Buhari I knew had nothing to offer Nigeria. I knew that the iniquitous APC leaders were just opportunists who were ready to do whatever it took to get into power — even if it meant merging and repackaging one of the old clueless relics from Nigeria’s past, wear a makeup for him and present him to Nigerians as a messiah. But my desperation for the former outweighed the latter and I kept quiet; I secretly wanted Buhari to nick the election. In hindsight, this decision of mine was vapid and immature and time has kicked my butts for it.

I am happy that Tuface Idibia will be marching on Monday and I wish more than anything that I could be there in Nigeria marching with him straight into the heart of the Nigerian Federal Government until they understand the hardship they have plagued the Nigerian masses with. I expect a huge turnout on Monday. Nigerians don’t need an expert to tell them they are hungry. My only fear Is that the uproar and the anger brewing up in the Nigerian youths would — on this day or — some other day turn into a paroxysm of rage that would be too late to curtail. I say this because I know that the orientation of the Nigerian Police force — just like the colonial days — is to protect the Government and the elites, and not the Nigerian masses.

So please, for those who will be marching on Monday, let us try and make it a peaceful and an effective protest. #ISTANDWITHNIGERIA