*In Fela's voice* I want to tell you a story......seriously I do.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Ene’s dry spell didn’t last. Exactly six weeks in, five weeks after they moved in together his alarm bells went off.
Ene suddenly developed a thing for mouth rinse. On closer observation, Tonye realized that it was a bad sign. Empty bottles of Listerine fluoride rinse littered the bin. He didn’t need to ask. He took a swig from the almost odorless content of the mouth rinse bottle, Vodka. The roller coaster that had stood still whirled back to life. Even her parents sympathized with him. He held on strong though. He loved Ene, through thick or thin.

Most nights Tonye fell in bed bone tired. Why was he coping with this? They were not even married. She hurtled through life like she had a demon on her heels. 
On those torturous nights when he had to nurse her, his heart broke. And when hangover set in he felt her pain. At those times she’d swear off alcohol, a vow she never kept. She chewed whole peppers, sometimes she insisted on sleeping in the bath tub. On the bath tub nights Tonye’s next working day was hell.
Every day dawned with Ene in stupored slumber. Tonye had the permanent job of hunting and fishing her out of joints (he made her make out a list of her hang outs). Throw in the Lagos traffic and you can only imagine the nightmare that it was.
She’d made friends with a decrepit drunk, Akpan.
Akpan was an alcoholic, a street drunk. He was the type, who got fished out of gutters by good Samaritans, because his family (if he had one) had given up on him. Their friendship was conducted over the phone and in beer parlors. Akpan stuck to Ene like a leech. Free booze.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Many a family meeting had convened over Ene’s issue. Tonye had become a fixture at these meetings.  Ene remained adamant. He couldn't help but blame her parents; they should have been more attentive. 

He would come back from the meetings brimming with resentment but almost certainly Miss "Life is one big party" had something up her sleeves that triggered his insatiable hunger for her. 
One time it was absinthe. He had never had it and wasn't particularly eager to find out exactly why it had such a bad reputation. Tonye is naturally cautious....but she was wearing the tinniest edible gummy panty. Tonye had been ordered to take a bite as soon as he walked in. From then on, he was a goner. He watched trance-like as she knelt before the coffee table, where her paraphernalia was assembled. He remembered wondering if the edible underwear would hold up. Well, It did until the absinthe was drunk.
She put a special perforated table spoon across a wine glass with the green liquid in it. On the spoon, she put a cube of sugar over which she slowly drizzled cold water. The sparkling green liquid turned opalescent milky green. All of this he observed from the effect of the caress of her voice; "As the water liberates the essences of absinthe, so will it liberate your mind, Tonye". The atmosphere had an unnatural charge like she was putting a voodoo spell on him..She didn't need to. She handed him the milky green drink. It was bitter at the first taste but more herby with subsequent sips and quite refreshing too. He suddenly felt super alive. All his senses were on super charge. How is it that he heard for the first time the exquisite composition of the drawn out guitar riffs of Bon Jovi's "Bed Of Roses"?  Eating the alcohol infused edible underwear afterwards was erotica in more ways than one, the tips of his tongue tingled as he took bites off her and shared with her. Her hands on him was spine tingling, his hands on her, spine tingling; the sexual charge was on a stratospheric level. Wow, no wonder. Absinthe equals magic. Ene equals magic. Tonye was lost. 

On this night of profound feelings and sensations, she gave him the only explanation that she ever would about her distillery dream. She was challenged by absinthe. That was it. 

Mrs. Oga’s love for Tonye knew no bounds. She’d given up on her wild, weird child’s chances of ever meeting a man brave enough to cope with her eccentricity or even that Ene herself would ever be interested in settling down.
She pleaded with Tonye to make her see reason about the distillery idea. It really riled her father up. When Tonye could think rationally, it riled him up too. He tried to appeal to Ene’s better judgment but she remained adamant. He insisted that she at least clue him in on her business plan. She insisted, he wouldn’t understand. He lost his temper and gave her an ultimatum, she begged him to have patience. “The end product will justify me”. 
He succeeded however in getting her to dry up. This was good for his ego. Poor Tonye always felt that as far as they had come, Ene would still heed the call of excitement and leave him without much thought at any time. Her agreeing to dry-up seemed to him a positive statement. Dele, his psychotherapist friend guided her through clearing the common societal misconception that an alcohol problem is a sign of moral weakness. “As a result people feel that to seek help is to admit some type of shameful defect in their nature. While in fact, alcoholism is a disease that is no more a sign of weakness than is asthma.”
The sessions were good for her. She appeared more stable and was keeping clean. The sessions were confidential so all he knew was that she was responding well. As part of her therapy, she "shared" with me how she started drinking. She had started drinking actively at thirteen years old. Being an only child of filthy rich and equally busy parents, she’d been left very much to her own devices. The Oga household was a full one with servants, relatives and all. Despite this everyone pretty much left Ene on her own.

In the past, alcohol abstinence to him, made no sense. Jesus turned water into wine after all, why did he, if we were not meant to enjoy it? He’d been a social drinker, who could hold his drink pretty well. He was a larger man and on a good day could do five to six bottles of beer and still drive home safely. He enjoyed his beer really good. Ene had cured him of that. She’d woken him up to the reality of alcohol. He’d seen all too clearly the dangers, to underestimate its stealthy approach and possession.

Tonye found Ene eerily sophisticated and blasé for a twenty four year old. Her adventures were often over the top, involving globe trotting types. 
She’d recounted the final ritual of the Bacchanalian initiation process in Las Vegas.  The three day celebration and thanksgiving to Bacchus the god of wine. The last day fell on the 14th of June (the anniversary of the lift of the ban on absinthe). This day was chosen for the final initiation rites.
The bacchanalian’s believed that the spirit of the god Bacchus was in essence all about youth, vitality and power. On the third and last day of the frenetic celebration, the six new Bacchanalian’s were blessed and commanded to go forth and excel. That night was the feast of the Bacchanalian. She never really said what they did but later, the younger set had an after party.  Ali brought forth bottles of a 70 percent proof, $2,500 per bottle, ninety two year old herbal liqueur; the Pernod Fils. Ene and Ali would have been the death of each other. According to her, they drank till six am the next day, doing the rounds of clubs and casinos. These people believe that honouring Bacchus releases abundance on  every aspect of a persons life. Honouring Bacchus is revelry.
Tonye never could shake off the feeling that there was a part of the story missing. The original Bacchanalian festivals were not just about alcohol, they were orgies, yes with a lot of sex....., but that was all the information she volunteered about her creed.


Saturday, 17 March 2012


Absinthe is a strongly alcoholic aperitif (55%-72% alcoholic, or 110o-144o). It is made from alcohol and distilled herbs or herbal extracts.
“La fee verte” or “the green fairy” as it is known originally in France and in Switzerland its home country, absinthe was further made notorious by its popularity with artists who were celebrated not just for their talent but their often outrageously bohemian lifestyles, some even went mad.”
Ene paused to catch her breath, while Tonye stared at her in open amazement. “Amazing …” he thought. “What is it about talent and over indulgence?  The mysteries of life ”. 

The Bacchanalia was originated by a group of some of the world’s wealthiest men. They are all connoisseurs of alcohol. Between them they owned most of the world’s rarest and most expensive collector’s alcohol. All of different religions and creeds, they all bow in reverence to Bacchus (Dionysus) the Greek god of wine. They believe he is a generous god. To this cult Ene belonged. Far fetched but true. She’d just been initiated along with three other females, making history in the corridors of the eighty year old cult. The other two women were Caucasian and in their fifties. Ene was twenty five and Nigerian.

All bacchanalian’s were absintheurs. Absinthe to them is the refreshment of the gods . They’d secretly fought for the lifting of the ninety year old ban by the Swiss parliament on absinthe for ten years. Before their eventual victory in July of 2004, they’d worked underground pumping their unlimited resources into bank accounts on the side, and legitimately, on researches disputing the purported “psychoactive” properties of absinthe. Through all this, the Bacchanalia remained what it was. A secret society, their activities shrouded in secrecy. Strange sounding tales to Tonye until she got him to try absinthe.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Au revoir my friend

Britannica stops printing after 244 years and is going digital. I read this with mellow sorrow and a lot of nostalgia as it (the Britannica) is tightly woven in my HD reminiscing of my childhood. A childhood which led me to my love of stories and the art of story telling......and research for story telling.

My dad is a good guy and wanted his family with him at most of his stations hence (why does this word exist?) yours truly is a bonafide military brat. We moved around pretty much. I seemed to always be the new girl at school(s). For a really social child, that hurt. I really wanted to be a part of something but even I never had much hope that it would last. Don’t get it twisted though, I love to travel and meet new people. As the years went by I became quite the emotional nomad but that’s a story for another day.

One thing that was permanent in all our homes though was a library. I most remember the one at Off Ja Abdulkadri Ungwan Rimi, Kaduna, and it's persistent heavy mothballs smell. A connecting door had been installed between two of the Boys Quarters rooms and that was our library. Cramped too it was, books covering all the shelves from ceiling to floor.  My dad is an avid reader. There is a permanent build up of books by/in/on my father’s bedside drawer which my mom would so much rather live without.
What does this have to do with Britannica?
I would spend hours and hours reading everything I could lay my hands on. I travelled the world over seven seas, sailing right from Arabia to Lilliput and to magic and fairy kingdoms.

Hans Christian Andersen, the great big Mother Goose book, Enid Blyton and countless other authors and books were always with me. They were my friends, my world, they who stirred my imagination and set me on this creators’ voyage. I too would possess peoples time, ensnare their imaginations.

Among these books were a set of Britannica junior (They are still on the book shelf at my parents house). They were to me at the time, the ultimate in reading material after fiction. Here was a different type of story. Here were the stories of facts. They structured my stories around the real world. I cannot explain it but I knew that just like the stories, these books were going to be part of the jigsaw puzzle that would work itself out into my adult life.

Today, I knock back a stiff drink and another as I reminisce over those books that saw me; a little Nigerian girl who had never been to Poland, write a story of a little Polish girl in Nigeria. I knew her favourite snack; sernik (cheesecake) and that she came from the town of Annopol in Poland. I would write and my sister Lola would do the illustrations and we would sell the books and claim the money was for charity(We really did intend to send the money to South Africa to stop Apartheid) :)

So today the 13th (hmmmm) of March in the year of our Lord 2012, I read that Encyclopaedia Britannica is stopping print to go digital and I can’t help but reminisce; the end of another era; my very first search “engine”.

                                                THE END
*Here are some of my growing up favourites. Tintin, Asterix , Richie rich, Whizzer and Chips, Beano, Buster ,DC comic's,  sweet dreams, sweet valley high, pacesetters.  What are yours? Share, lets see how far this goes.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Hedonistic in our quest for pleasure
we sat and shared the apple.
It tasted so good
we did it
over and over
and over again.

But in between bites,
came the pin pricks.
One from me,
one from you.

We feign ignorance.
What was that?
I ask.
What was that?
You ask.

Still we persist.
then jabbing.

After each apple
sharing occasion,
I sit alone and reflect.

Why do we go out
of our way
to hurt each other
after sharing an
that's supposed to bind
us together.

what makes us share
yet seek to remain detached?
I ask thesE questions
but on the morrow,
I'm anxious and waiting.

Will you come?
Will you come?
You do!
You obviously feel
the same about the apples?

What pride keeps us
from saying
we want more 
than apples together?
Pride goeth before a fall;
but before that fall,
I wish the juice
will drip
and stain me
so i'll forever remember 
our apple eating days. 


Friday, 9 March 2012


"They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".

“Now who said that?”
She reflects gloomily as she stares out the window.
“Benjamin Franklin, that’s who… so very true too”, she thought as  she thought back to the day they met.  

Opeyemi, in all her six feet tall splendor undulated across the car park. Aware that all eyes in the Kaduna Polytechnic female hostel car park were trained on her curvaceous form. 36” 24” 38”, in a mini shirt dress. “La inllah Inhalahu”. One of her admirer’s exclaimed.
Pouty lips twitched, feline eyes crinkled, and light bulb smile came on as Halima’s sermons filled her mind. “Fine babe no dey suffer, use your beauty while age is on your side”.
Opeyemi agreed totally. Beauty and poverty are enemies.

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Is that the gangan I hear?
Or an another worldly sound in my ear?
Indeed it is the gangan I hear.
Oh! Joy, joy, joy to my ear.
I want to break into dance,
Kneel and sieve sand through my fingers.
Feel the pulse of the land,
Swell and thump
In time with minstrelsy fresh yet so old.
Oh! It is, the gangan I hear.
A bit of leather here,
A bit of leather there,
And a bit of shaped wood to prompt
As I answer the ancient call,
Ijo ijo ijo.
My heart pleads
Lulu lulu lulu
Thou hypnotist of old
Do you still do this?
Blending heart beats
And pulse rates
And feet stomps
Into one heady gig that echo’s
In the soul?

Kakaki, Kakaki,
Honoured to have you here.
Thou majestic of instruments.
Emir after emir,
Is turbaned to the sound of your voice.
Queen Amina must have heard you
As she rode away to war.
Your melody must have
Echoed in her head,
Quickening her pulse.
A royal voice,
Powerful, rich, proud of you ancestry
Dignity is the dance, at the sound of your voice.

Oja is that you?
Accompaniment of songs long forgotten.
Still strong, your voice rings out.
Follower of our fathers.
A dirge in time of death.
A sweet intro at naming,
And in war, in war
A piece of bamboo with holes,
Sends off our dikes.
With resolve permeates the soul with
The bravery of your spell.
The spell which won us the wars.
Oja, you still move legs and hands, hearts and souls.
You move us into frenetic oneness with our land.
Who can ignore the mesmerism of your call?

Well spoken child.
Eloquence is a gift,
And you have honoured us with it.
But listen with your heart.
Heed your elders,
And your voice will find audience
When the heat of too many suns
Bleach your hair.
Listen child,
Each alone stands in splendour,
But together in candor
We strip away the hitherto malignant disease
Of individualism.
Listen, to the science of harmonical
Sounds, rendered in ancient tongues.
Listen and you will understand.
Listen, as together we sing one song.
Listen and let the rhythm of the
Truth excite you, incite you and invite you.
As we sing our song of rhapsodic profundity
Over rivers, hills and valleys.
Now your pulse races,
Your heart lurches,
Your feet are possessed with a mind of their own,
Every part of you pulsates
Listen, listen, and listen to the symphony of
Divided we sound
United we thunder!