Pray Against the Beast

So I'm reading a report from work about happenings around the country and one thing jumps out me. Apparently on June 6, 2006, many markets around the country shut down completely in order to go home and pray. Why, you say? Because 6/6/6 is the mark of the beast. Simple. This shutdown affected industry output in quite a major way since the largest bulk of manufactured goods passes through the open market. So many of you that live abroad (almost all of you!) imagine losing up to 20% of your sales in one month, simply because it was 6/6/6 - Mark of the Beast, Coming of the Anti-Christ, and so on.

Ron L. Hubbard, founder and spiritual head of Scientology once commented that the best way to make money in America is to start a religion. I think Nigeria has that beat. I mean, I have a friend whose neighbour is a pastor. Now my friend and this pastor are on the same NEPA link but while he almost NEVER has electricity, Mr. Pastor-Neighbour has electricity 24/7, aided by his automatic generator which I am absolutely sure is provided by his church. Now why it's part of his spiritual rights as a man of God to live in perpetual supply of electricity while his entire congregation and the building itself has no clue what that even looks like. Let's consider something else. 70% of Nigeria's population lives on less than US$1 per day, yet our pastors own yachts, private planes, investment accounts etc. I went to a church New Years Eve and during prayers the lead pastors gets up and shares his "revelations" with the church: 2 people will get a visa, 3 people will get married in the church - everyone start praying, it could be YOU! I mean really....

This whole thing just makes me really skeptical about and downright disinterested in churches in Nigeria. Since I've returned here, I made the decision to just frequent orthodox churches exclusively. The Baptists, Methodists, Anglican....these churches seem more attuned to my own spiritual needs. And it's a strong decision too. You know Nigerians now...everyone wants to invite you to their church/fellowship/gospel concert etc....ESPECIALLY if you're single (but that's a whole 'nother story!) so I just tell them, looking straight into their eye, blank faced...."sorry, I don't do pentecostal churches in Nigeria". This is like being the Anti-Christ itself in Nigeria and automatically you can see their eyes twitching as they itch to convert me from my terrible ways. (Remember I didn't say I don't go to church o, just simply, I do Methodist or Anglican).
THEM: but why
ME: nothing. don't like them. too active
THEM: (slightly confused) but God is everywhere
ME: Yes, that's why I like MY church.
THEM: So try mine.
ME: (still blank-faced) No this point they tend to live me alone! Actually this also reminds me of another "religious" type conversation I had. This one at work. For some reason, people pray EVERYWHERE, even in the workplace. I mean, prayer is not bad, but i'm used to freedome of expression/religion, etc...and in NIGERIA, no such freedoms exist. Your freedom of religion only goes thus far: CHRISTIAN (pentecostal of course) or MUSLIM. Notice I didn't say AND, I said OR. so prayers at work, doesn't mean both muslim and christian prayers. Anywho, I get dragged to this employee union meeting, and i stress AT WORK, i'd never been to and didn't even know what is about. I walk in and sit at the table quietly. The lady (who's never seen me and just met me not quite 2 seconds ago) beats the gavel, it's time to start the meeting. So here it goes..
LADY: Welcome everybody, glad to see you. Comrade Lola why don't you pray for us.
ME: (looking around like me?!?) Uhm......
LADY: (looking at me expectantly) Yes, Comrade Lola
ME: Sorry, you need to pick someone else

You can imagine the shock! Here's the convo after I had with her:
ME: Excuse me dont' feel it was right for you to call me out at a meeting i'm just attending for the first time. Plus I don't feel comfortable with mandatory public prayer at work, it's against my principles as a human being.
LADY: Uhm...........uhm.....o..k...

I'm sure that lady is now sure of my Anti-Christ status. She probably prays for my soul every sunday at her mega church where she gives her Pastor money for a 24/7 generator while her husband is secretly planning his afternoon rendezvous with his UniLag girlfriend.

Leave my Nigeria Alone!

Ok, so I know i've complained on this very blog about some of the nuances of living in this country - and there are many - but I do that because hey, at the end of it all, I still live here, day in, day out, so I should know what i'm talking about. It irks me when someone who doesn't live here, and hasn't for a long time, starts bashing my Lagos. Jeez. (Yes, people, get over that shock, I did say MY LAGOS). Things are just done differently in Lagos. It's kinda like New York, you can't just come to NYC and complain about why everyone's walking fast, why you see cross dressers walking freely and openly in the streets, or why the subway is dingy and dirty. It just IS. You like it or move to Benue. Simple. And yes, some of this sound downright hypocritical but what can I's one of those things where I can say nigger cuz i'm black so it's all good but when a white person says it, he should follow those words by bending over and kissing his ass goodbye.

Which leads me to my moment of revelation this morning. I was walking past the vulcanizer (or fuckanizer, means the same in Lagos), and I noticed that while the people congregated there really resembled area boys (or street thugs for my non-nigerian readers) my heart didn't even skip a beat, i just strolled past. I had noticed that yesterday too while I was waiting in the car for my colleague on Lagos Island, but not the cool, posh parts, i'm talking right in front of Sura Market. The place was packed and crowded with all sorts of elements, people where walking up to my window and pissing right in front of (i'm still not sure why), some random area boy just got up, cut a branch of tree and started whipping bus conductors unless they paid him money......remember I said randomly! Anyway amidst of this chaos, I was just chilling. So I thought to myself, where did i develop this sort of non-fear of area-boys???? Especially considering the fact that once upon a time I was scared of groups of African-Americans in freaking Buffalo (yes, it's true, Canada will do that to you)? The only difference between then, and now is..............................B-ROCK!!! Maaaaaaaaaaan...............once u do B-Rock High, you develop this thick skin........who knows, maybe docking bullets from a drive-by will do that to you......ah, the good ol' days!
Oh my, it's been some time! Crazy Crazy much to write i don't even know where to start from. Well, let me sort of set the scene here. Been feeling sorta dreary lately. About work, about Lagos, about Nigeria, everything. My hallucinations of MacDonalds or butter scrambled eggs with toast, baked beans and a turkey sausage, OR pancake breakfast at Perkins or IHOP has been fueling this dreariness to new heights. I mean WHY can't MacDonalds come to Lagos really? I swear if i eat one more Fried Rice with Chicken, i think i'm gonna walk right up to the Sweet Sensations counter and throw it all up. In their face. Seriously. Sitting in my room waiting till 6:00pm to turn on the gen, I come to this specific conclusion: I hate Nigerian food. I mean I never really liked all starchy things anyway. I could stand it in North America, because there it was like......delicacy, once in a while and you're done. But here???? every day all day baby. It's like a woozy sea of eba, semo, fufu, iyan, eba, ground rice, eba, semo, fufu, iyan....well, u get the point. I swear the entire diet consists of just four foods: maize, cassava, rice, and yam. Well, at least it's more than that remote tribe I was watching on BBC Prime where they had two foods.......the bark of a some local tree or slugs.

Anyway, here's the week so far:

I feel pretty good. No work due to corper's week. Went to work to collect my NYSC clearance form (u need it to get paid the great NYSC allowance of N8000/month). Bumped into my boss and of course right there, impromptu, she asked if i had a flash drive and gave me work to do. Ah.....i'm used to it though. Work NEVER stops. Trust Me. EVER. I'm still depressed until someone told me Virgin Nigeria was having a sale to London for N60000. So I start praying fervently and running back and forth between airline offices trying to get something good. I mean it's not too late right? right? RIGHT????? Emirate Airlines?? yeah, i'll go there....wherever, just get me out......boy was i wrong. Looks like Nigeria it is. Depression is back briefly followed by resignation. I think Sango is punishing me.

Ah, another day. Gotta do clearance today. God of Mercy, I hate this place (local govt, not Nigeria, keep up!). I mean once i start nearing the gate of the local government my heart starts beating like crazy, and i start feeling faint. I feel like running. Fast. But can't. The place is crowded with all sorts of people. I'm still amazed that some of these people ACTUALLY got a higher education. I mean, university in Nigeria can be VERY expensive considering the stories i've heard of professors withholding your grades until something greases their palms. NYSC really sucks. We get there at 9am and basically we have to wait till whenever the zonal inspector decides she's good. I'm not playing. people have waited there till 8pm at night. And then when she does decide to start signing, EVERYBODY rushes to the front table and the serious gra gra starts. Pushing, shoving, yelling, cursing, biting, punching. Under the hot sun. Three quarters of those there don't even know what deodorant is. over 400 people. Scratching and biting for ONE lady to sign their form. Oh yeah, did i mention that this whole thing sucks? i wasn't feeling like hustling. At about 3pm, Mrs. S begins. For once, she decides to go by numbers. YOu would think that would calm down the mob at the front table...but noooooo. Nigerians always want to one up the next person. The crowd remains. To cut this story short sha, after waiting, I see this girl who just walks up to the table signs her shit and moves on. So i decide hustling can be the only way out of here. But lady is a witch. She seizes my NYSC ID card. See, whenever this happens you're supposed to either die, or give her your first born son. I just stand there, not really caring. She yells i should come back on Thursday to do it. Punishment. Whatever lady. I ask her rather rudely if she really believes i'll come here on thursday, smirk, and walk away. Ladies and Gentlemen, don't know if I will be shamelessly discharged from NYSC because of this, but do i care? NO. Egg McMuffin....Egg McMuffin.....

NYSC Charity Walk. Apparently from National Stadium to Alausa! These people are stark, raving, mad. I laugh. Home was fun.

YAY!!!!! Going to abuja!!! Love, love, love abuja. It's absolutely, clean, quiet and gorgeous. Plus you can literally smell power and oil money in the air. Hmmmm..........what sweet sweet smell. Every trip i've taken to Abj via Virgin has been great. Always, always meet really cool people. Joke Silva, NLNG folks, and some others i won't mention in case their wives are reading. lol. Travelling as a single woman to Abuja is like having a target on your back. Like there's a rule in Abuja that under NO circumstances must a woman be alone in the city. If u see one, it's a man's duty, absolute duty to work towards rectifying that. No. I don't mean hot, young, men, i mean old, randy, old filthy rich men. well, there are hot young guys too but they generally don't do the approaching. Just to clarify here.......i generally LOVE my independent single girl routine here and DONT respond well to approaches at all. For me, it's an opportunity to collect business cards. Business cards and networking are the soul of any businessperson in nigeria worth his/her mettle.

Continuing on sha............met Nnegest Likke, director of Phat Girls on the plane, she gave me an invite to the premier of the movie in Nigeria. Went. Delightful event and very chichi pu pu with Ministers of this and Ministers of that's wives. Tuface was there. Performed. Generally good time! Wanted so badly to take pictures but got to Abuja to find out that i left the memory card at home. Bummer. Met the guy who played Tunde too (his wife was GLUED, just GLUED to his side the entire time, can't say i blame the gal, Naija babes no dey play). Went with a friend. A Hausa friend of mine who kept on seeing girls he knew. Hausa babes now, all covered up and everything. I felt uncomfortable for a minute, i mean here I am in a see thru top (tank top under but still, my arms, my arms!!! they must think dude has taken to dating prostitutes.........I'm so self conscious here, I really don't want to offend anybody and get stoned but I really don't want to have to dress all covered up either.....hmmm, dilemma..

Going to the chapel....

It's wedding fever time.....i don't know what it is really, since it's always Summer here and the addition of the rains make it a not-so-perfect wedding season, but weddings are everywhere. My absolutely, absolutely lovely friend Joe is getting married to the girl of his dreams on the 19th and my sister's friend, who's like a sister to me is also getting married soon. I think the excitement is spilling over!!! These things are soo romantic....(at least for that day/week!). I'm really pessimistic about the institution but like my friend Wale says...I get the logic, I get the logic....

Either way that brings me to my latest obsession. Ever met someone and just thought, if only...or wow, this person's perfect for me? well, it's that sort of thing. Except I have no shame in pursuing this sort of ideal....once i can convince myself, i want, then I must get. I think it must be some stubborn wiring in my DNA...i mean why must the "terrorist" win all the time? Anyhoo...this has really gone to shameful lengths at this point oo!!! In fact, i'm 100% sure this is case of be careful what you wish for but.........jeez, i can't help it. Don't worry i'll post my wedding invitation on this very blog as a sign that you really can do whatever you put your mind to! (either that or look for my hiatus as i *visit* a rehab clinic....

It's bird, it's a plane,'s TOMTOM!!!

yes people, I get excited about advertising. and outdoor advertising no less! But I finally concede that I may have a problem after my outburst this morning. So a friend and I are driving to work, complaining about all the strange radio ads in Nigeria - he's from the UK -and out of nowhere i yell "Oh my TomTom billboard, look!!!" Needless to say he was a little scared, then concerned about my mental health for a minute. I don't know what it is out of all my brands, I think TomTom may be my favorite. There's something about being involved, to an extent, in a brand and seeing it to fruition on a large billboard....EVERYWHERE, that's really exciting. The only thing is i have to work on my being "discreet". That is the one thing i never bargained for. I mean, everyone that knows me, knows this girl can's to my blessing that most of the time my friend's around me to confuse people after I've let out a big clue.....i mean this damn topic shouldn't even be talking about TomTom.....

Oh Johnny............

ok, so i have good news and bad news so I'll give the bad first....

Well, it's also a bit of good depending on how you look at it. It is a well documented fact that I am in love. I have been for a long time yet. The first time I heard his voice, I melted. So deep, so meaningful, so rich, and full of knowledge, he said "Let's go....." and I've gone since then. Ah.....yes, Johnny has been so good to me. No........not Johnny Walker, silly......John Legend. Only a few of us close enough to him are priviledged to call him Johnny. But now, he's up and left me. And for another naija girl no less!!!!

Ladies and's true. Johnny is dating model Tayo Otiti. A fine, fly, naija babe like me....Here's a pic of them together at an event. I'm not sure whether to be ecstatic that Johnny of course would pick from our pool of gorgeous women, or to hate the biatch for stealing my man. I mean I coulda had him at that intimate event last year.....note to self here, man shall not survive on vodka alone............

Ok now the good news..................apparently next week is corper week, pretty much didn't care until someone told me they're using that opportunity to go to Europe. It was like a lightbulb moment. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think i'm going to move heaven and earth to leave this land of the dreary. I can't wait to go to McDonalds, and Starbucks, and Nine West, and Gap, and Banana Republic, and take the tube, and, take a bus somewhere, and, and, and.............oh god, i think i'm gonna hyperventilate!