Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Remember

by Jonas Dogara
I remember when I small. No kind play children no been dey play - backflip, cartwheel, rubber leg, running, high jump, long jump and even poju poju. My street na 100m track for us children. No evening wey you no go hear ‘On your marks, set, go!’ outside our house. Our parents dey actually come out for our houses and watch us as we dey arrange ourselves dey run. We dey make small small ‘machines’ wey get wheels and dey push dem all over the place. Some of us dey carry old bike and motor tyres dey run for street. Sometimes they tyre dey even big pass the pikin wey dey try to push am. We been dey wrestle too. Those of us wey from villages wey dem dey wrestle come introduce am to us. But we no dey do am where our parents go see us. If not, na cane we go wrestle with. We bin play many games wey if to say we do am till we grow we for be professional play play people. I mean, I been dey very good with my catapult. I dey shoot anything wey dey move. I enter trouble a few times because of am too.

I remember say the navy men wey dey stay for the NNS Pathfinder Base (that time na NNS Akaso) dey like to jog for morning. And dem no dey mind if people join them to jog, provided you no go try to slow dem down. If you dey slow down, dem go run pass you. If you fit run like dem, you go just join dem dey sing dey go. As teenagers, some of us dey follow dem dey run, because e just dey sweet us to fit run with these military men. Even on days wey navy men no dey run, a lot of people - both old and young, dey still come out for morning to run.

I remember say for our different cultures, e get many things wey people de do to enjoy themselves and to stay fit. Some tribes get special days for wrestling where people go gather dey beat drums, chant songs for their person and cheer the wrestlers until one person back go touch ground. You remember the famous Okonkwo and Amalinze the Cat, from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe?

I remember play play for school. We extend a lot of the play from house to school. Break time no be small thing. Then inter-house sports competitions dey too. Na the biggest event for the school calendar every year. In fact when at  a certain time of the year, every weekend you go see children wey wear their different House colours dey go school with their parents for inter-house sports. Na our own Olympics be that. For primary school my house dey like Nigeria for London 2012, but for secondary school my house dey like USA! Plenty singing and dancing when dem go award us the trophy o.

Now I look around and most of the things wey I remember, done disappear. We all dey sad say Naija perform very badly for Olympics and everybody dey shout about reform of the Sports Ministry and Sports Federations and grassroots sports development. That na good shout. But you see, the problem of our sports no be just say nobody send for grassroots development. E pass like that.

When I small, I no know how small pikin fit take stay inside him house when others dey play outside. E hard o. If you look around now you go see children wey no dey play at all. Dem either dey watch Africa Magic or dem dey watch cartoons, depending on their level of aje. As dem dey grow up, e go change from Cartoon Network and Disney Channel to MTV and E! where dem go discover the Kardarshians and My Super Sweet 16 and na there their own finish! Dem papa and mama no de allow them go outside. So, dem no fit run around or mix with other children or climb trees.

But wait first o. Even if parents allow dem go out, na which tree dem go climb sef? All the trees wey been dey around, done disappear finish. Government done sell or dash dem to people wey done build house everywhere! I remember the parks and playgrounds wey we been get all over Port Harcourt. Public places dey to play football and basketball and even swim. For places like Elekahia Housing Estate, gardens dey where people dey go relax and children dey go chase butterflies. I no fit remember the last time I see butterfly sef. That garden done enter voice mail since! The one garden wey the present government do now, fine well well, but dem put am for express road! I no sure how person wan let him children go play for express road garden o!

Now, even if the parks and playgrounds still dey everywhere, people go really let their children go play? The primary duty of every papa and mama na to take care of their children in the best way wey dem fit. And our country be as e get now, which person get strong mind to let him pikin comot for house just to go play? People wey dey kidnap dey one corner dey do their own, while people wey dey bomb dey their own corner too. Then you get plenty people for road wey dey drive motor and ride bikes like say evil spirits dey pursue dem. How any papa and mama, wey their head correct, go wan let dem pikin just go outside to play na?

Now anybody wey think say the children fit play for school these days no dey live for Naija. Because most of our government schools dey useless, anybody wey get small money dey put him pikin for private schools. Every year, more and more people dey send their children go private schools. And if you done see most of these private schools, e dey easy to understand why children no fit play. Most of them no even get enough classroom space sef, before dem go get playground. So where the children wan play and how dem wan take do inter-house sports?

The Paralympic Games done almost start. And na wetin make me remember Olympics wey I done try to forget. You done see our primary and secondary schools for disabled children? Na just like most government schools. Dem dey rotten dey go. Unfortunately, we no get private schools for disabled children. How this people dey manage, na only God sabi. But we dey expect medals for the Games abi? Yes, by the grace of the Nigerian god.

At the end, the question be say ‘how children wan take develop interest for sports and develop whatever talents dem get, if dem no get the chance to play?’

We all agree say government need to do something about sports urgently. But no be just about more money for the ministry or kicking out the corrupt officials and putting new blood. Government need to go back to their basic work. That work na to care for us just the way parents dey care for their children. Government need to keep us secure, protect our environment so that we go fit enjoy life, provide education of a high standard for our children (including the disabled ones), provide world-class health care facilties, etc. If government do these things, children go begin play again. And if children begin play again and our Sports Ministry plan well and implement the proper programs, e no go tey before we begin do well at every level of sports.

I go still dey follow the Nigerian athletes for the Paralympic Games. Maybe, dem go give us wetin we no been get for the Olympics Games. But even if dem no fit, I go still dey hail dem. To do wetin dem dey do, no be beans.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter

I dedicate this piece to the special person wey write am with my hands.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

O Na For Opposition

by Jonas Dogara
If e get something wey we sabi do for this country, na to yarn. Nobody fit accuse Nigerians of not talking. The only wahala there be say we dey spend too much time dey yarn about the things wey no really important, and we no dey yarn enough about the important things.

I read Nigeria: A Case Of Too Many Purposeless Cooks by Debo Adejugbe last week with a mixture of happiness and sadness. I happy because e be like say the guy dey read my mind as e dey write. I dey sad because, I get a strong feeling say if we continue the way we dey go today, we go dey sing the second verse of the song we dey sing now after 2015. The song of ‘how we manage enter one chance?’ So we need to talk about am again and again and again…

On the fact say we need our country to start to move forward, we get general agreement. On how the country go take change, agreement no dey. Everybody get him different idea. Some of us believe say the change wey we need na personal thing. So, if you or your person manage enter government, and things begin happen for una side, then life go change sharply, therefore Nigeria done change. Make una fall inside gutter and break leg! A good majority of us done leave am for the hand of the Nigerian god. Dem believe say if we continue to dey pray without season (or maybe na ‘ceasing’), one day the country go change. I wish dem good luck. I no sure if I intend the pun.

The one I wan really talk about na the third group of people. Dem know say for the country to change, we need a change of personnel. And na every four years we dey employ, sack or renew the contract of the ones wey we already get. Na elections I dey talk about. We know say most of the people wey dey lead us today deserve ‘sacking’. But if we sack dem, we need to put in people wey we believe say go give us wetin we dey look for. And that na where the opposition suppose come in.
In other parts of the world wey their heads correct, if government dey misperform and the opposition dey offer the people something wey make sense, the people dey kick the government out and give opposition the power.

This opposition wey I dey talk about no mean people wey their party different from the ruling party o. I mean parties wey dey actually ‘oppose’ the government. These na parties wey dey monitor wetin government dey do and offer the people something different if dem no agree with the government (and that disagreement na almost everytime). And normally dem suppose to dey do this work in a way wey all of us go see say dem different from the government. In the way dem dey talk, in the way dem dey stand on matter wey dey enter the legislature (both national and state) and in the way dem dey address national issues.

Naija Opposition: Same as the government?
For Nigeria, the opposition suppose be the ACN, ANPP, CPC, etc. But look all of dem and see if difference dey between dem and the PDP. If tomorrow we vote ACN or CPC into the presidency, how dem go dey different? I no sure. As Debo Adejugbe talk, e be like say the only thing wey the non-PDP people get for their mind na to ‘capture power’. So after dem capture power, what next? E no be like say dem dey sure wetin dem wan use the power do.

As I understand am, opposition no dey start 6 months to election. Opposition suppose start from the day dem swear the government in, and e suppose continue till the government commot. Opposition suppose dey mark government like defender dey mark attacker for football, and once in a while we suppose dey see sliding tackle! As the government dey bring policy, the opposition suppose dey bring their own to show Nigerians the difference. That way, the government go dey think twice before dem open mouth to yarn or decide to do something.

The fuel price increase of January 2012 na huge opportunity for the opposition for Nigeria to show us wetin dem dey about. The way I see am, na big New Year present wey the government been give dem. A gift of very strong rope wey dem for use hang the government. In other correct countries, the opposition for jump on top am and by the time dem finish with the government, you no go buy government with 10 kobo! But wetin our own opposition do? Nothing. A few people come out against the fuel price increase, but no be wetin I dey talk be that. As political parties, these people suppose show strength. That for be the time to tell Nigerians how dem dey different. E for be the time to tell us say dem go be government for the people if we give dem power. Instead, wetin we actually hear be say the non-PDP governors been done already agree to the fuel price hike na him make dem all close their mouths.

What about the opposition legislators wey dey the National Assembly? I mean the Minority Leader and all him people. How far with them? How dem dey try to attack and modify the policies of the government? How many bills dem done sponsor and try to push through? Apart from ‘I concur’ and ‘I second’ e get any other thing dem dey talk for there? Or true true na a case of ‘when you dey chop, no talk’? Because, opposition or not, plenty pepper still dey rest for their side!

We need to begin focus our energy on the opposition as we dey focus on government o. Because we no go bring people from another country to come take over the government. A strong opposition na the only alternative.

As e be now, plenty time done already waste, but time still dey to clean the mess before 2015. Because when play play go turn to players, no be me and you wey dey use Twitter and read news online go matter. Na the millions of Nigerians wey no sabi wetin internet be or get time to read newspaper go go out there to vote. Dem plenty well well and na their votes go make the difference. Na the people wey the opposition suppose dey try to reach now with their structure, yarning and most importantly with their actions. That way, when the time come, Nigerians go do the right thing.

I done talk my own, but make the talk continue. Make e continue until we begin do the right thing.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Naija Grammar

by Jonas Dogara
Today yarn go start like say na English class. Abeg no vex. I know say you no been like that your English Language teacher for secondary school. Try no extend the hatred reach my side. But if you no fit hold yourself and you still dey provoke, then just take the annoyance read wetin I write finish and drop comment about how I make you vex!

We be country of people wey sabi yarn. And if we manage sabi one or two big word dem, then the yarning dey even sweet pass. Normally, the way people dey yarn no dey worry me. But e get two things wey we dey yarn all the time for this country wey dey worry me. Dem dey worry me because we done bend dem from wetin oyibo say dem be to wetin we feel say dem suppose be.  Forgive me for the plenty grammar wey you go soon read, but I need to quote wetin dey for book so we fit see the real meanings.

Empower (Oxford World English Dictionary)
[with object and infinitive]
give (someone) the authority or power to do something:
                members are empowered to audit the accounts of limited companies
[with object]
make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights:
                movements to empower the poor

carry along (Longman Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs)
1.    to carry something with one (synonym carry about)
2.    to cause (someone) to share one’s feelings, opinions, etc.
3.    to encourage (someone), as to keep trying.

A few years ago, just some months after Amaechi become governor of Rivers State, I been dey one joint dey do joint things and gist with my guy. As e dey always be with boys talk, the gist come enter government matter. The guy say Odili (a former governor) better pass Amaechi. So I ask am why e talk so. The answer e gimme na simple one.

‘Odili been dey carry people along. Amaechi no dey do like that.’ Na wetin e yarn.

I look my guy with shock. ‘Just that?’

‘Yes o! The guy no wan empower people.’ E continue. Then e go on to explain wetin e dey talk about.

As e explain am, for Naija ‘empowerment’ and ‘carry along’ get different meaning o from the ones wey I copy from dictionary. When we talk say we want our government to empower us, we mean say we want dem to dash us money. When we say we want dem to carry us along, we mean say we want them show us where we go dey thief our own money as dem dey thief their own! When the guy finish the explanation, I no know where to begin address am from. So, maybe the meaning of ‘carry along’ no too far from wetin oyibo talk. Dem say na ‘to cause someone to share one’s feelings, opinions, etc.’ I dey suspect say we interprete ‘etc.’ to mean ‘loot’.

Just like the other guy wey I recommend ‘government slap’ for last week, na wetin been dey my mind for this guy too! No part of wetin the guy explain to me get anything to do with to good government and leadership. The only thing wey matter be say extra money dey enter people pocket.

During Odili time, our state turn to playground for every young man wey wan become Rambo. Our politicians wey say dem must win election or siddon for political seat for second term, buy weapons give these young men. And dem turn Port Harcourt and the towns and villages wey surround am to battle grounds. Small boys go just enter one backyard, dem flog dem 24 strokes, cut their body with blade, rub some white chalk put inside, give dem coloured kaikai to drink, give dem gun to carry and dem done turn gang member/cultist. Na so wetin we dey call militancy now for the Niger Delta start. Where the thing change from fight for political power to fight for the progress of the Niger Delta na tori for another day. But the thing be say, people been no know peace that time. When Amaechi come, things change. Most of that nonsense stop. This no be endorsement for Amaechi. Na wetin happen be that.

So e dey turn my belle say some people still think say Odili time been better pass, because him ‘empower’ dem and ‘carry dem along’. Na serious matter wey suppose make us begin think well well. So if  money dey enter person pocket, e no matter if bullets dey fly pass him head, eh?

‘So you for like make e carry you along, and then you go hide inside house dey drink this drink because you no want somebody to come shoot you, abi?’ I ask am and e no fit answer me.

The sad thing be say, no be only that my friend dey think like that. Na very common way to think for Naija. And trust our sharp politicians. Dem be part of us, so dem understand how we dey think. Dem know who to ‘empower’ and who to ‘carry along’ and things go dey move well for dem. Dem go come up with one ‘Youth Empowerment’ or ‘Women Empowerment’ scheme and people go begin jump and clap hand. Some people go gain small because pepper go rest for their side. For others, contracts, wey dey benefit only the contractor and the politician, go reach their hand and dem done carry dem along be dat. But for us, as people and as communities, nothing dey happen.

We need to live in peace, make money and live well o. But for these things to happen, our infrastructure, economy, and security need to improve. And those things na government work. We need to ask government to do government work wey be to provide the correct environment, so that ordinary citizens fit do the citizen work, wey be to work hard, start business and to create jobs.  That na empowerment. And when government dey do this government work, make dem dey yarn with the citizens, so we too fit put mouth, and we fit tell dem the way those things go work well for us and we fit understand each other. That na to carry us along.

The change, wey we dey look for, dey for our hand.

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter


Friday, August 3, 2012

E Dey Sexy To Know

by Jonas Dogara
‘Imagine that! So, even the British can make mistakes, eh? Look at how they spelt Switzerland.’ The babe dey point television dey talk. This na the day after the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and we dey watch a replay of the ceremony.

I look wetin she dey show me and I tell her say ‘That no be mistake o. Na Swaziland be that and na country of its own.’

‘That’s not true. Is it because the people are black? They have black people in Switzerland too. These guys have messed up! How can they change Switzerland to Swaziland and you say it’s not a mistake?’ See the babe dey blow grammar, dey drag wetin she no sabi with me.

‘You wan bet?’ I ask her. ‘Then we fit use Google Search for your Blackberry take check am.’

‘Well, I don’t have Google Search on my phone, but I know Switzerland and it’s in Europe’ She dey yarn with open eye.

I just shut up my mouth and gum my eyes for television. Because, if I look her two times, I fit yarn something wey I no suppose yarn. So this girl no know say her Blackberry dey do things apart from BBM, Facebook and Twitter, eh? She never use Google search for anything for that phone since she get am! 

This yeye discussion make me remember one like that wey happen two weeks ago. I hook up with one of my friends wey I never see for a long time, and as those kind things dey always be, we begin dey gist about our friends wey we never see for some time too. When e ask me about one of our guys wey be petroleum engineer, I tell am say the guy done get transfer go Norway and na there e dey work now. The thing wey follow next, just make me tire.

‘That na good one o. I hear say dem get plenty oil and money there. All those Arab countries with too much money. Me sef go like enter somewhere near there o. Somewhere like Kuwait or Qatar…’ The guy just dey yarn dey go.

‘O boy Norway na European country o’ I quietly tell am.

‘Na wa to you o! Dem get oil for Europe? Why you dey yarn this kind yarn?’ The guy wan drag with me.

Courtesy wherearemyabs.com
After a few minutes of argument, the way the guy take finish the gist na ‘If you say na so e be, then I believe you. Na people like you dey know this kind useless things sef. Afterall, wetin I dey carry am do? Dem dey pay person money to know am? I no be Sabinus.’

‘Wetin you come be? Ignoramus?’ I no talk am o. I just think am. I just dey look the guy dey boil. See guy wey get daughter wey dey kindergarten. This guy need somebody to tear am better slap! E no go be me, because I no dey roll like that... I mean say, who go pick my pieces when e finish with me? But I no go mind if e find trouble and somebody just tidy am up. I dey talk of proper government slap. You sabi government slap? Na that type wey when e touch you, the hand dey cover your mouth, nose and maybe eyes, and you dey feel the pain even for your ears. You go also dey hear sounds wey dey like Halleluyah Chorus remix by Terry G.

Seriously though, this kinds of discussions dey make me tire. Nobody on this earth fit sabi everything. That na true talk. But as a person, at every stage you dey for life, e get things wey you suppose to sabi. If you no sabi these things too, no be crime. Afterall, law no dey for that kind of thing. Wetin suppose be offence na when you find out say you no know something and instead of you to jeje learn that thing you either begin dey drag like say you na your papa act ‘Dragon Forever’. E suppose be offence too if you begin dey act like say e dey cool or sexy not to sabi anything.

Most of us love our country well well. Some of us dey pretend not to care sha. But all that na wash. See as people like me wey no too send for Basket Ball stay awake last night to watch as USA wan take their father play! As the game finish, we people just take vex begin ‘twitter-beat’ Ghana people! (Ghana no vex, na where our power reach be that). Seriously sha, we love our country and we all know, our government done fail us scatter. Everyday wey we wake up and believe say e no fit bad pass as e dey, e be like say we dey challenge dem. Before the day go end, dem go show us say we never see anything. So, all of us dey find change. Okay, maybe no be all of us (because as the country dirty like this, some people be like pigs), but a lot of us want change. We go like make our country begin grow again, make we get peace, security, electricity, roads, job, etc. And we go like make this change happen sharply.

But for us to drive that change, for us to push other people to do wetin dem suppose do, we need to ready ourselves with knowledge. We need to know our world and how things dey work for other places. We need to know about each other and our differences. We need to dey learn new things constantly. Even our different religions dey direct us to continue to dey learn new things. No be the Bible wey talk for Proverbs 18:15 say ‘Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.’ [New Living Translation]? What about the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) wey say ‘O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge [Koran, 20:114] and also order Muslims to ‘Seek knowledge even in China’? E mean say excuse no dey why we no suppose to try to improve ourselves.

And before you begin hammer our educational system, make I explain say no be school I dey talk. We know say our bad educational system dey contribute to wetin dey worry us, but as individuals, that excuse no correct. ‘Dem no teach me for school’ no be reason why you no suppose know say Obama na president of the USA. 

As some people wey get sense done talk before, whatever change wey we dey look for need to start with us. In fact, we need to be the change wey we dey look for. So therefore, na each of us responsibility to gather knowledge. Whether na to read books and newspapers or listen to/watch the news or watch films (I no talk say tune to Africa Magic and throway the remote o!) or ask questions, e no matter. The knowledge fit no be something wey we go use immediately; e fit no be something wey go put money for our pockets now now. But, a day go come when we fit use wetin we know to better ourselves, the people around us and maybe our country too.

That my friend wey no fit find Google for her Blackberry just call me. E be like say she done see am…. She dey sound a lot more... ehm…. Off I go!

This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter