Wasted Night

A night without a sleep
Is not a night yet
Every night, someone, somewhere;
Somehow nights without a sleep

One man stands in unanswerable
prayers. Another sold his sleep
to an already failed exams. The
wisest of them tried his best
clutching and straining his eyes

It is always fun when we choose
to run and skip under the rain
But when it arrests us between the boulevard
the trees cannot hide our disappointment

With his clutched and squeezed eyes,
he tossed and turned; he wished
the nights could turn to day and
scramble to the doctors to save his health

The last thing he thought of was death—
“People don’t die because they’re sick
People die because they’re alive”;
But the wasted night and wasted dreams.

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A Quick Nap in a Courtroom

 

A dirty Nigerian flag teetered and waved to the tune of the fan;
It stood above the head of the judge; screaming from lack of grease
An old air conditioner stood in oblivion, was last on since the 1960s
During the intense proceedings, the registrar slept on the case files
Ripping them like the walls of the court room, left, right and centre
The walls barely carrying the rusted ceiling on its bald head. Just
as the fan made another screeching sound, as if snoring in a sleep,
A lawyer walked into the court — barely walking. The lawyer was
carrying the laws of the land on his small head; mea maxima culpa
It was a wig from his call to bar- ten years ago- when his mother
hit her stomach, fondled her breast; and mused- this was once
upon a time, the sole food a lawyer, sound the alarm, sound it
The lawyer walked crisply, with his once-black robe trailing
His once-white shirt and bib had barely made it to court today
The law and it’s accoutrements seem to despise the lawyer
He cast his eyes on the wall clock, looking for hope in time
But the bad clock has yet to change it’s battery since bought
And the time is still Oh O’ clock from the day when the
secondhand kept chasing the minutehand in full glee
A lawyer stood from a half-broken bench to adjourn his case
The judge wasn’t ready, neither was the defendant or clerks
The case was therefore adjourned to another day, What day?
No one asked, too wilted to — at least it will be someday!
The lawyer took a quick nap in the courtroom before he left.

That Time of the Year

 

It’s that time of the year, when we
need to be told how pretty we
all are, if suddenly we choose to be
It’s also that time of the year, when
our scared voices locked in an oven
reemerge like Phoenix, refusing to burn
despite the deafening whispering wail
of a smothering black electric kettle
My dear, it’s that time of the year
invisibility has never been more clear
Warriors and hunters trail at the rear
Boys and girls with tales to tell
It’s that alarming sound of the bell
Makes me wish I was a black girl
Paint my face with egg white
Pretend I’m ready for any fight
when I know my bones are light
It’s that part of the movie
when characters who were groovy
are forged until they become stony
It’s that time, when time doesn’t matter
eat all we want without getting fatter
and tales of heaven seem quite closer
It’s that part of the lie that’s true
And the remaining part grue-
some, oh dear, that was some brew

Family’s Fare and Friend’s Fair

I
Family was created on a weekday
It started on a busy monday
In a haste, keys lost in a haystack
It stalled to Tuesday, for the mark
of the sun, setting in the east
the moon to wait till noon first
Family continued on Wednesday
Oceans watered with barrel’s fey
Islands the most beautiful of them
Meadows sleeping like a gem
The wind spinning it’s first mill
Family yet again on a standstill
The twilight trail above it’s head
An epitome of the light of God
Finally on Thursday, the galaxies
Perfectly prod along the axis
Family will wait till friday,
First flowers born that day
Then black and purple hibiscus
Friday finally family underscores
But spent the night at the clubs
Came family scowling with scars
Creeping tears down it’s face
Moulded them into a clay
and threw them far away

II
Friends were wrought
His adrenaline he fought
On weekends, after a hangover,
A sleep with no slumber
Sane and sober, free and convivial
The world was lonely and spatial
Headed for his ribs, soft like an wool
yanked from an ass, sat on a stool
one stitch at a time, he gave
the gift of love, wrapped and crave
in a silk gown like Cinderella,
Friends are:
Birds chirping your name
out of a small beak, like a game
Silent night, surreptitiously
From the viciousness of the
bird of Minerva, from
scaffold of family’s fare, cum
petals of friend’s fair, and
he got lost in the fray, had
the battle of the bounties
The beauty of the beatific’s
Begets bulging goosebumps
Angry bra-fighting nipples
It ended with a black out
Memories of how I tapped out
Now I remain cast out, dear
Friend’s fair to family fare.

 

 

The Name of God in Vain: The Story of a Rape City

Last week marked the end of my externship at a State High Court in Kano, a city in the northern part of Nigeria. It has been six weeks of a herculean task of sitting through all court sessions and reporting same in my journal. This exercise, is supposed to be among others, a preparatory exercise to shape me into becoming a lawyer. I’m not going to bore you with the legalese among other jargons I learnt in the process, but rather, I want to use the raw information I got from the court as a mirror through which to view the society.
But before we go any further, a little background is important of the area called Kano, and why this incite becomes significant. Kano state is one of the many states in northern Nigeria that pride themselves as God’s viceregents and morality exemplars. It is one of the few states that have domesticated Shariah law and instituted a state moral police to watchdog specifically religiously reprehensive behaviors in the area, viz: Prostitution, alcohol, unsupervised mixing of men and women, unislamic dresses among other things that the state finds important and worthy of tax payers millions.
This background helps us to understand clearly, the penchant for self-righteousness that has been institutionalized and has become a fundamental part of the identity of many people in this area. This tendency to fight God’s war by enforcing by any means necessary, Shari’a law, is replete in the history of people in kano. A little recent history is important here:
In 2014, a certain Mubarak Bala declared publicly that he was an atheist, as a result, he was committed to a psychiatric institution for ten day; how can a sane person declare that there is no God, this was seen as an outrage and an affront. It became a matter of state security, and many people in kano state supported this state sanction until after about ten days before he was released; perhaps the psychiatrists have curbed that madness in him.
Mubarak’s case is the tip of the iceberg, the people of this area are beyond absurdity. What is Kafkaesque? Who is Meursault? You remember “The Stranger?” Oh that’s nothing, the people of Kano State embody a literature that can, if written with same craft as Kafka and Albert Camus above, be classics of profound repute.
In a town in Kano called Bichi, a non muslim wore a shirt with Arabic inscriptions on it, this became a matter of public debate. What? A non muslim wearing a dress with Arabic inscriptions? This is the preserve of muslims and as such this must be seen for what it is, a blasphemy! An insult to the prophet and therefore he was sentenced, this time, to kangaroo justice by an angry mob in the area- which one might argue, is a quicker justice, remember justice delayed is justice denied. I know you are thinking of the courts… Errr, follow me.
In january 2016, a kano upper sharia court sentenced one Abdul Aziz Dauda to death by hanging for allegedly insulting the prophet. This reminds me of a similar case of Akaluka, who was imprisoned for toying with the holy Quran- good for Akaluka, an angry mob of fanatics broke into the prison and gave her the quick justice.
With this background, you might understand how much my expectations were betrayed when, sitting in that court, on a daily basis, the most recurring cases that came up were that of rape, of little boys and girls, by men in their 30s and 40s. Not a single day will pass without one form of rape case coming up or the other.
One case that stuck my memory was in my first week as an extern, two men in their late thirties were brought to court on charges of raping a young boy of barely ten years. The two accused had their prayer beads rapped around their wrists and I couldn’t help myself but think- the name of God in vain.
But what sparked my curiosity most was when they were both called to give evidence, I came to realize that they were both teachers of the victim in an Islamic school somewhere in Kano, where the words of God were taught.
This continued as a routine, on two different occasions at the end of my externship, two men were brought to court for rape, one for raping his nephew and the other for luring a little girl to his room and raping her. These two men, on these two different occasions, were dressed like they were going to the mosque and holding prayer beads in their hands.
I couldn’t help but deduce a pattern in the behavior of people in this area, given that, months ago, a certain Maryam Sanda was accused of killing her husband while he was praying, and when she appeared in court to be arraigned the following day, she appeared with a Holy Quran in her hand.
While it is still unclear why people use God to commit violence, here are a bunch using him to evoke pity, penance, and reassert self righteousness. But the pattern that we can’t ignore, is that of people using Him to serve different purposes; this is expected in a holier than thou atmosphere. It is a very serious society that has little or nothing to toy with but God.
This is not to say that crimes, of any kind, are exclusive or most recurring in a particular area over another; I don’t have the statistics. But it is a glimpse into the motivation, justification and the protection of crimes and criminals in this area. Human beings generally have an evil instinct and the general tendency to commit evil, it is a mode of assertion of power, over the vulnerable. It cannot also be denied that it is, in certain situations, a reflection of the failings of the social welfare of society. In the instant cases of rape, we can blame it on misogyny as much as on the failings of our sex education and orientation.
But the case is different when you assume an almighty position in society. When you represent yourself as a champion of morality, the standards and expectations are different. So when you fall short, you betray yourself and the name of the person you always scream to back your actions. It might lead to a lot of assumptions; like the effectiveness of your God, who you associate every act of yours to, it raises a question of whether you understand or even adhere to him as much as you claim or you are just addicted to calling the name of God in vain.
It is characteristic of criminals on death rows or in the accused dock to evoke pity and penance, but there is also a fine line between a sincere remorse and a veneer representation of self righteousness. It is even arrogant and disgusting, to, even at the point of serious allegations, seek to present yourself as a viceroy of God- a way to suggest your innocence and foolproofness. It might surprise you to find out that these shenanigans go a long way to infer the innocence of these people. On one occasion, I heard one of my fellow externs say, “the man looks so responsible, he couldn’t have committed that crime”.
I think we need psychologists to study the relationship between the idea of penance and forgiveness, and complicity of people in committing crimes and still standing tall while they do so.

A Conscious Music Album in a Very Sick Society: An Appraisal of Brymo’s Oso

Shout out to Imrana Bambale, a guy with a fine taste of music. ‘Listen to this album, it’s amazing’, he said to me in one of his many music recommendations entreat. There began my journey into theosoproject. The project is one of the many daring escapades of Olawale Ashimo Olofo’ro, popularly known as Brymo. It consists of an album, a concert and a book; the album is out-which is the subject of this piece, while we still await the book and concert.

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“Oso” is a Yoruba word that loosely translates as “The Wizard”. It is indeed some sort of black magic, what Brymo has done with this album. It is unconventional and eccentric and unknown in the Nigerian Music sphere.
To put up a swift disclaimer, this is not one of those attempts to dictate to people the kind of music they should listen to. Every kind of music has a role to play in the profound field we know as “the music industry”. While sometimes we want to dance aimlessly and have a free madness (shout out to Terry G) other times we want to bundle up with our other, while we cuddle and listen to Adele or The Weekend on weekends (I know, don’t mention it).
But, the bifurcation between conscious and unconscious music is a reality. In the consumerist society we live, it is overly daunting to decide to go into the grim task of writing conscious music. This is because, when you write a conscious music, you appease to a meager class of audience in an ocean of an unthinking majority. It is suicidal and self-destructive. Unless you are Kendrick Lamar, then you defy the laws of nature and go platinum.
What will pass for conscious music in Nigeria are mostly gospel music and music that criticised government of the day by the likes of Fela Kuti (the father of Afro beats), African China, Eedris Abdulkareem, and Oritse Femi to mention a few.
Oso is in all ramifications, a conscious music album. In addition to the textbookish themes of gospel and politics, and oh, love (how could I forget that), Brymo in this album raises both existential and ontological questions. The album is laden with philosophy and radicalism, and it walks us through what it means to be an anti-establishment. For example, in “Time is so kind “, Brymo gives us a tidbit of insight into his fundamental unconventional nature:
“I know I don’t make sense to you
How I just rain like a cloud, it’s true
And everyone is asking me to slow down, it’s a cruise.”

Brymo-Organised-Chaos-Concert-9-

Time as the Most Prevalent Theme in Oso
Brymo seems to have indulged himself into the age long debate of time and space in this album. In several songs, he makes important pronouncements on the concept of time, knowingly or unknowingly, he keeps assuring his listeners of the existence of time and how it is central to the cosmos. He sounded like the ancient Egyptian thinker Ptahhotep, who said:
“Follow your desire as long as you live, and do not perform more than is ordered, do not lessen the time of following desire, for the wasting of time is an abomination to the spirits.”
In “Time is so Kind”, Brymo kept chanting, like an evangelical script:
“We are all blind blind blind
Time is so kind kind kind
And everyone is lost, nobody is found
Time is so kind kind kind”
This personification of time continues in “Heya” where he made time ambulatory, painting a pictorial image of time walking by us, as if, sighing at our sheer disregard of it’s essence.:
“I just dey fall, I just dey rise and time just dey pass us by”
Brymo made continuous mention of time in various contexts in several of the 11 songs in this album. One will be tempted to ask, what is Brymo’s obsession with time. This clarion call to time-consciousness is akin to the saying, “make hay while the sun shines.” He seems to suggest that time is an opportunity that doesn’t linger for long, and failure to carpe diem, might be fatal to man. It is indeed true that man is bound by time and space.

Love as Entropy
There is a gloomy and pessimistic tone with which Brymo engages the idea of love. There is a silent tragedy that is associated with an overt seeking of love at all costs. There is also a blindness and inevitability that overwhelms, eventually. In “Heya”, he blames heartbreaks on ignorance. In ” God is in your mind”, he made a powerful caveat to loving:
“I love to be all that you want me to be
But I am not the same man I used to be “
He even goes on to tell us that “love is illegal, love is a drug”, ” you love me now and you judge me later”, “we are money launderers and Heartbreakers”, ” but our heart don turn to stone.” Brymo with this tone, reminds us of Shakespeare’s tone with his love dramas and we can see his characters wrestling against all odds for love. In Romeo and Juliet, right before Juliet drank the poison, she lamented:
“Farewell! – God knows when we shall meet again
I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins
That almost freezes up the heat of life “
But when all hopes seem to have been lost, Brymo seems to submit, in a way that reminds us of the beautiful text of the bible, 1 Corinthians 13:7:
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
It is on this note that Shakespeare and Brymo, conclude their journey of love, Shakespeare in his poem “Carpe diem” writes beautifully:
“O mistress mine, why are you roaming
O stay and hear, your true-love is coming”
“What’s to come is still unsure
In delay there lies no plenty”
And Brymo also seems to have found his love in “Entropy”, where he sang; after all his flights from love, and though his pessimism lingers still:
“And you are always buzzing like neon
I can remember now as the song plays
You became everything I stayed away from “.

Existential Questions in Oso
Soren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher. He proposed that each individual- not society or religion- is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely or “authentically”.
Brymo calls us out for always blaming politicians for our woes, or “pointing fingers at each other”. He reminds us that we didn’t create ourselves neither did we create the world. He went on to suggest in “No be me”, that each individual is responsible for his every action. And that our actions shape our reality.
This is what I guess Brymo meant when he said, “God is in your mind”. He calls for a more individualistic approach in our philosophies. Brymo calls on us to take responsibility for our actions. He sang:
“For the first time, God shall be without a face
For the first time, God shall be without a name
Will no longer, look for self in every mirror
For the first time, God is in your mind”
“You are that someone you are looking for”
These raise deep questions of who we really are and what it is we seek to achieve in this world. This introspection that Brymo calls us to, is similar to that of Tariq Ramadan in his book, “Quest for meaning”, which as humans, is an unending plight.

Humble Beginnings and Meditation:
Another lover of good music I know, a hoarder of Music albums, classic and contemporary, is a High School classmate, Tobi Ojo; he has a twitter trend #daddyojorecommends, where he recommends amazing songs to his verse followers. Reviewing some of Brymo’s songs, particularly, “Olanrewaju”, ” Olumo” and “Ba nuso”, he gave an incite into Brymo’s call for meditation as a means for us to reconnect with our spirituality. Also, how much Brymo appreciates his roots by declaring a song praising his home town ogun state, where lies the great “Olumo rock “.
Tobi Ojo writes: “Patience, persistence, goodwill and honesty are some of the messages highlighted by Brymo in these works.”

On 28th March 2018, Brymo released the video of the lead single to this album, “Heya”, in which he appeared in a G-string like loincloth that exposed his buttocks but hid his genitals, which got him a lot of flacks and umbrages form Nigerians on social media and other platforms. Commenting on his decision, Brymo in an e-mail said: “I decided to appear how my forbearers dressed before the arrival of civilization to Nubian continent”.
This whole saga gives you a glimpse of what it means to be unconventional or dare to be creative in this part of the world. It makes it more plausible that Oso is a rare gem, and has set the pace for similar breakthrough innovations in the creative industry.

 

Kanye West, My Crush and Plato’s Cave

 

 

So I fell head over heels for this girl. For a very long time, in fact, I was quite scared to approach her and tell her this.

Fast forward to, say… 2 months. I talked to her. It felt good on the first day, just basics… Name, address, I didn’t even collect her number.. Day 2… Hello..hi. It went on and on.

Then we talked again, this time I was trying to find some common grounds; there was none… music, books, movies, politics… None. To be fair to her, she said she sleeps a lot, which is my thing and she cooks a lot, which I don’t. But how do I begin to have a conversation about sleeps with my crush?

I really like(d) her; she’s cute and has a perfect nose, with a kissful lips to compliment it. She’s Kendall Jenner slim, innocent looks, good voice, same height, quite shy etc. But I can’t have a minute conversation with her. I don’t even think she feels my vibes…you know, nothing is more hurtful than a wasted wit, a misinterpreted sarcasm, an unappreciated accent and I have to talk elementarily for her to follow. It was just off.

It’s all the more hurtful, when i think of the days I spent fantasizing about her, how life will be perfect if I get to know her and become friends. Now I know her and she’s probably thinking of me curled on her bed right now; which is a good thing, except that I have ‘moved on’.

I felt something fly out of my chest into thin air that moment when I asked her, curiously, ‘Do you listen to music?’ No. ‘Do you read books?’ No. ‘Do you love movies?’ No. Football? No. Politics? No. I immediately pictured my life with her, married with kids in a small house in lagos; she’s sitting in the parlor and I at the dining room, perhaps with a novel at hand, I read a wittily intelligent piece of writing, but I cannot yell or express my awe, because my spouse won’t understand. Or I listen to a heavenly crafted music on the radio on my way back home and I’m head over heels for this song; getting home, my wife is in the kitchen, pallid of course and I can’t tell her about the song, it’s all BS to her.

Critical thinking time:

I really liked (loved) this girl from a distance, I was sincerely crazy about a stranger (maybe infatuated, if you don’t believe in love at first sight, or whatever – I chose to call it love, for want of a better term). Even after I talked to her for the first time, I was still crazy about her; I went home and wrote in my diary: ‘I talked to my crush today and gawd, it felt good’.

Upon discovering her “flaws”, I got ” disillusioned ” immediately, that crazy reverie just disappeared asap. I let my insecurity take over me, I already catapulted the beautiful young lady to the altar and shoved away her father’s name and put mine behind hers. I fell short of many things that, if I do say so my self, I find very uncritical and unthinking:

1. I didn’t allow “my love” to nurture. I approached her with a bollywood-like mindset of perfectionist love, a mr-right-meets-mrs-right-and-they-were-happy-ever-after state of mind.

2. I had a selfish and perhaps simplistic view of the world and the numerous people that live in it. This dogmatism is even more pronounced if I think of the fact that, earler, I wouldn’t have conceived of a living soul, even hypothetically, who doesn’t do all or any of the above traits which I consider refine, profound and sophisticated; it was the only life I knew. So it was my Plato’s allegory of the cave-like realization moment, it was my realization that our penchant for correctness, completeness and certainty is disgusting and brazenly so, just that we don’t have someone to tell us.

3. I didn’t even aver my mind to the changing nature of human beings. I didn’t care to think of the possibility of her changing because of me (yh…), I didn’t care to find out why she is the way she is and how she is comfortably so. I didn’t bother to learn. I wasn’t open to novelty. In my many years as a liberal and secular values screaming adult, I have never felt so disappointed with myself as I did upon this realization. How I belittled “cooking” and “sleeping” as a strange drive of a person’s life and skyrocketed “books, music…” Etc. is still a misery to me.

But there is a world of difference between sameness and equality. I chide myself for thinking less of her because she dares to be different. We are very much different people, and we have the right to be different. But ultimately we are equal. I also understand why Kanye West lost 9 million followers when he posted a picture of his hat signed by Donald Trump, and started expressing his political views substantially different from that of his vase followers. It raises the question, why did those people love(d) Kanye West? And I ask myself again and again, why did I love(d) this girl?

This, eventually, is a love story never told.