Saturday, May 30, 2009

This was inspired by Bibi, BSNC & Miss FlyHigh’s cool audio blog. And partly Nice Anon. They were talking about ‘firsts’- first crush, first fight… you get. I had a little time, so I thought of some of my random, okay ‘firsts’-

- First blog I read:
Her username was Chikito, and I was thrilled by her hilarious F.G.G.C Owerri tales. That was in 2007, and I never knew what a blog was. That was the first time I was reading a story written by a Nigerian (on the web), and I was blown away. She had stopped updating since 2005 though. Since then, I have been exposed to interesting blogs… like yours :- )

-First Fight:
My first and last physical fight was in Primary 5, with a boy who always bullied me. While I have forgotten the names of many classmates, I still remember his name and surname. The annoying thing was that he wasn’t bigger than me (we were the same size). He just had the ability to tell the softies from the tough no-nonsense ones. Well one fateful day, I’d had enough when he threw a chair at me. I started slapping and beating him and he managed to put in a good number of kicks before people came to my rescue.

-First Female Friend…
…will always be G’green (one of her nicknames in school). In such a mixedup world, she who findeth a true girlfriend findeth a good thing indeed. We attended the same Primary and Secondary school, and we talked about everything, till Uni. separated us, and it hasn’t been easy keeping in touch since then. But she always has a special place in my heart (I take a moment to hold my right hand to my heart… and my left to my phone) :- )

-First book my Dad bought me, titled Luka and the Television. Excerpts as follows:
There was a boy named Luka who loved to watch television. As soon as he came home from school, he would rush to the tv, switch it on and would watch it for hours, still in his school uniform. Sometimes he never even noticed that he had not eaten. His father was very disturbed by this, but regardless of all his threats, Luka remained engrossed with the tv. His results in school became increasingly terrible, and Luka himself was becoming a terror in school- he had developed a vicious temper which resulted in fights on an almost daily basis. One day his weary father called him aside and said to him, “Luka, you know that what you are doing is not good. All this television is causing you to misbehave. Why don’t you want to change?” Luka replied, “I don’t want to change. I want to be used by the devil to do his works.”
So Luka never changed, and soon he paid the price.
The End.

Never mind the (weird) story plot, esp. Luka’s where-did-that-come-from response; I was totally silent when I finished reading it many years ago. I was wondering, this story book was bought specially for me. ‘Did Daddy browse through the book before he bought it, or does he actually consider me as terrible as Luka?’ Yes I watched tv a lot, yes my results were not vey good, yes I was quite rude to my Aunt, but haba!
Though I have forgotten the exact phrasing of the story, and even the price Luka paid for his disobedience, I always remember that response he gave his Dad. And I still wonder.

This is related to my next ‘first’, titled Cider Eats a Big Slice of ‘Humble Pie’-

-First major lesson I have learnt this May:
I wrote a job aptitude test some weeks ago. My GMAT (job aptitude tutorial book) has 5 sections of mathematical skill tests, comprised of quantitative reasoning and comparison, data sufficiency, and graphical analysis tests. The probability of being asked to analyse graphs is therefore 1/5 (my thinking).

I had precious little time to study-thanks to my love for dvds-so I decided to really concentrate on the other parts and completely ignore those weird graphs. Besides, in the few tests I’ve written, I have never been asked graphical questions. Well, as good-for-you stories go, the only math questions we were asked were graphical- and not the simple graphs I’m used to.
Now you know you’re in for a rough time when you cannot give correct answers to examples the examiner is guiding you through. But things were only about to get worse. I’d never bothered to ask anyone about the type of questions they thought the company would ask. I just thought, ‘ok, make sure you practice so and so very well’. And I knew I should have practiced the secret-but-famous SHL questions, but time was gone man. At the test center, it seemed I was one of the very few people that didn’t know wassup. We were going to be asked over 40 hot thermodynamics questions.
For someone who claims to be good enough for cutting edge organisations, ‘careless’ doesn’t come close to describing my attitude at all. As my bro. in-law would joke, “You don’ fall your hand two times abi?” (Bcuz this is the second time I’ve botched a major job test). It’s somehow funny- people think I read like crazy. They always tell me to take it easy (Big LOL). Anyway, I am happy to say that the laziness that used to overpower me whenever I was about to read has been vanishing per day. No more self deception; I am seeing the light:

(Economic Situation in Nigeria) + (Current Economic Recession) + (Exceedingly Large Number of Job-Seekers) + (Tek Company) – (‘Connections/Long Leg’) = “Critical Assignment”

- First (trivial) news piece I found amusing this month:
Our Minister of Health promised to give each household in Nigeria 2 mosquito nets; nets that are “special and very efficacious in tracking down and killing mosquitoes” (Sunday Punch, 3rd May 2009). Talk about Madam Kwoskwos and Other Scary Tales. I hope I never see the net while it is doing its tracking and hunting down operation sha ;-) ;-)

June is here = 6/12 = half of the yr already. As you go all-out to achieve your goals for the year, don’t mind the setbacks; rejoice in the days the Lord has made (shebi I sound like a ‘Christian horoscope’? Lol, that’s d first oxymoron I’ve come up with). PS: I am fully utilizing MTN’s free dictionary, as I had to confirm what ‘oxymoron’ was – “conjoining contradictory terms, as in ‘deafening silence’” Yay! I was correct.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some Nigerian Food Taboos

By Mabel Segun, in her book Rhapsody- A Celebration of Nigerian Cooking and Food Culture.

In Yoruba culture every lineage has its food taboos which members must observe strictly. The penalties prescribed for breaking a taboo are sometimes deliberately drastic in order to frighten people into complying with the prohibitions. These penalties include sterility, a breast that will never produce milk, a child who will forever crawl, and- death. But in reality, many of the prohibitions are commonsense rules meant for the good of both the individual and the community.

She categorized the taboos, and I’ve picked only a few (I don’t really know if I’m breaking any copyright laws oh! (scratches head). But I won’t tell if you won’t). It’s informative, though:

1. Yams must not be kicked. (Yoruba)
Penalty- The culprit will become lame.
Real Reason- According to Yoruba legend, Yam was once a man, hence it should be respected. Yam was the most popular staple food in the country before the introduction of manioc. Kicking a yam tuber might break it and this would speed up deterioration. In any case, this is not a clean habit.

2. Salt must not be trodden underfoot.
Penalty- The soles of the offender’s feet will ooze water. (Yoruba)
Real Reason- In ancient times, salt was so scarce that it was exchanged for slaves and therefore should not be wasted through being spilt.

3. Women must not cook late at night. (Igbo)
Penalty- Evil spirits will put a spell on the food.
Real Reason- To prevent women from neglecting the welfare of their family by keeping them hungry.

4. A man may not eat in the home of his wife’s parents and they may not eat in his home. (Hausa)
Penalty- It will prevent the wife from bearing children.
Real Reason- Probably to avoid friction between the two families.

5. Yam must not be peeled inside the house. (Yoruba)
Penalty- The inmates will quarrel
Real Reason- Houses in ancient times were dark inside because they had no windows or had very tiny ones and someone coming from outside might slip on the yam peels and injure himself/herself (which, of course, could lead to a quarrel).

6. A wife must not allow her husband to see her eating. She must first cook his meal and serve it to him in the open courtyard and later retire into the house to eat with her daughters and young sons. (Hausa)
Penalty- Community censure
Real Reason- It is said that she might open her mouth too wide and so anger or disgust her husband.

7. A child must not eat a chicken’s gizzard. (Edo, Igbo, Yoruba)
Penalty- He will not grow.
Real Reason- The gizzard is reserved for the head of the family or household since it is considered a delicacy.

8. A child must not squat to eat. (Yoruba).
Penalty- The child will never be satiated.
Real Reason- Squatting encourages farting, and this would cause pollution at mealtimes.

9. A woman must not eat too many kolanuts (Igbo, Yoruba)
Penalty- She will have an ‘abiku’ (Yoruba) or ‘ogbanje’(Igbo) child, that is, a child who dies young and keeps on reincarnating and dying again, thus causing its mother great misery.
Real Reason- Traditional Nigerian societies did not know the cause of infant mortality but believed that a woman who ate too many kolanuts would not feel hungry and so would not be well nourished or healthy enough to bear strong children.

10. One must not put a live duck in an overturned pot.(Yoruba)
Penalty- It will turn into a snake.
Real Reason- To prevent it from suffocating. Since snails are kept in this manner or under an overturned mortar for a few days but do not die as they can hibernate, some people might be tempted to keep more delicate creatures in the same manner.

Mabel Segun is also the author of children’s book, My Father’s Daughter (which I haven’t come across yet but am sure will be a v. nice read) and books for adults such as Conflict and Other Poems. “She has a varied professional career that includes teaching, broadcasting, editing, public relations and a two-year diplomatic appointment as Nigeria’s Deputy Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.”
As an aside:
Is it that the people back then were too stubborn to handle the “real reasons” behind these rules or what?? If you’re curious about what people were like before-before, Ellen Thorp’s Ladder of Bones will come in handy. It gives the pre-colonial history of Nigeria, dating back to 1853.


Monday, May 18, 2009

"Good People, Great Nation"

I just read this article on advertising the Nigerian brand. Though it is 3 years old, it really addresses the current feelings people are having about the rebranding issue-

"What we need to ask ourselves is simple: what is the current image perception of Nigeria? (How do people outside of our country see us – rightly or wrongly)? What problem has that created for us in economic and political terms? And finally, how do we solve the problem?The solution is not always a one minus one equals zero solution.If for instance Nigeria is noted for corruption, violent crimes, political turmoil and poor infrastructure, the advertising idea should not necessarily be around the inspector general of police announcing to the world that Nigeria is now a corruption-free, crime-free state. The better approach would be ignoring the negative and focusing on our strong points. In any case, whatever the IG says would be purely political and would never be credible in the international media. This means that having identified our current international image, we should determine our desired brand image. What do we want the rest of the world to believe about Nigeria?
What may be more pertinent to us economically may in fact be projecting ourselves as an accommodating people, open to foreigners, welcoming investors, friendly to the international community. A simple television commercial showing happy, friendly, and cultured men, women and children would do the job. If we flog this idea well enough, international perception of Nigeria as a friendly nation will overshadow any other negative image being peddled in the world media. Brands have their strengths. They have their unique selling points. When you say Ariel, you think of tough stains.When you say Maggi, you think of great taste. When you say Bagco, you think of super sack. Nations should have their selling points as well. When you say Brazil, what comes to your mind? Soccer. When you say Japan, what image crops up? Technology and cars. When you say Nigeria, what should come to mind?"
By Paul Ugoagwu

He went on to talk about how we must also do ourselves a favour by fixing our roads, improving our standard of living, and so on. If only the people on top would listen. On our part (individually) we are ready to "represent", shey? The full article can be read at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Lie To Me"

According to Will Smith’s character in the romantic comedy Hitch, statistics show that 65 percent of what we say doesn’t come out of our mouths. Our bodies do all that yakking, and this is the idea behind ‘Lie to Me’, one of the newer series created by Samuel Baum and the producers of the hit series 24.

The main character, Dr. Lightman, can tell if you’re lying by studying your body language and micro-expressions, and this helps him solve many criminal cases, because he believes that gestures of contempt, fear, anger, deceit, etc are universal. He buttresses his points with clips of Bill Clinton, Nixon, Condoleeza Rice, Barrack Obama, and other influential people in the news. Real, convicted serial killers’ expressions are also analysed. Of course, the cases covered are all fictional.
The series reminded me of an exercise Big Sis and I did a few years ago, on facial expressions. It has been said that “men can rotate 3-dimensional objects in their head and women are better at reading emotions of people in photographs”- Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott – so I uploaded some pics for you to test your facial expression intuition (lol).
PS: Sis is doing very, very well (God 14points; Satan 0). I thank you for all your prayers and kind wishes. May God give you peace that surprises understanding in every situation you face, amen.

My answers: disgust, sadness, surprise, and of course, sadness. Accurate answers can be gotten from