On repeat: Iya Basira…

One of the unintended consequences of my little 10 day holiday was rediscovering some styl-plus music from back in the day (and being made to watch Nigerian home videos ad nauseam). I somehow have been unable to remove the Iya Basira one from my head…. 😦

The Idiot’s guide to…… Looking busy!

When you bill per the hour, looking busy is of paramount importance… The criticality of this black art is never more obvious than when you sit in full view of the Oga and can ill afford to be found playing solitaire, surfing the internet mindlessly, blogging, or God help you – being nabbed on ogling the goodies on offer on Page 3. Below are the top tips I have gleaned from the best – trust me I’ve learned from the very best – a stellar cast of international pedigree..

  • Grab a cup of coffee every twenty minutes – nothing gives the impression that you are seriously at work than a steaming cup of coffee.. And that knotted brow that seems to convey intense concentration.
  • Have multiple spreadsheets open complete with loads of exotic graphs and illegible legends – as long as the boss doesn’t get too intrigued by the data, you’ll be fine.
  • Stop at the intern’s desk a few times: It helps that it feels like summer, it’s a Friday and the average distance between her neckline and her hemline is tending to zero… Being seen around the intern adds credibility to your mentoring credentials.. Plus its a lot less risky than being c aught on Page 3..
  • Occasionally lean back in your chair , place your hands around your neck and pretend to crack a thorny problem – insert some muttering too – it’s an occupational hazard for the thinking man and adds to the aura of intensity around you.
  • Get on the phone to a client – pick the bloke you know is an absolute laze-r and engage in some serious discussion. Speak in hushed tones though and appear to be fine-tuning a strategy together. No one (aside of snooping IT smart alecs) will know that the discussion was centred around what  club to hit at 5.30pm.
  • The ultimate joker? Talk to the boss – chances are that he was on a game of solitaire also….

Job Application Agent…..

This is an automated email response from Home Careers.com in relation to a Job Application you made.

Our Ref: JustDB-09-20/2011
Category: Multiple
Location: StuckVille, Limboland

Dear You,

Further to your recent application, we regret to inform you that after careful consideration it has been decided not to proceed with your application on this occasion. Please be informed that in line with our Corporate Recruitment guidelines, you are not eligible to reapply for this or any other position till December 31st, 2012.

May we take this opportunity to wish you every success in your future career and thank you for the interest you have shown.

Yours Sincerely,

For the Company.

What kind of ‘Worshipper’ are you?

I have been involved in a mini church crawl – attended several churches over the past few weeks with the aim of finding someplace to settle. In the process, I found that people in church  largely fit into one of the following classes.

  1. The irresponsible bloke: This bloke dey feel like gangsta for church. Jeans wearing, ear ring totting, chewing gum splitting type, he is often singled out for the sinner’s prayer/ deliverance.
  2. The scammer: O boy dey scan all the fine babes for the church. Instead of worshipping the Lord, bros is watching the screens -and depending on his confidence levels he might try to catch a wink occasionally. If it is a church where peeps are asked to move around and shake hands or welcome each other, free pass for bros o. He will shake and hug all the fine sisters.
  3. The Spiri bros/ sis: These types are the real members of the church. They have come to worship God, but sometimes they can over do it too o. Like skabashing very loudly, singing off key, or like one bloke in my non-Nigerian church, sway as though a strong east wind is blowing only him. These types usually gravitate to the prayer group, evangelism, sometimes Sunday school and the money counters – not very visible positions.
  4. The fine boy usher/ fine girl protocol member: These are the types that cause the most trouble in church. Dem can pose! Bro is usually decked out in a powerful perfume, correct suit and tire, and the phonetics! Chei, wahala! They don’t sit still in church o, always prancing around, so people can see them. I suspect that at least 65% of church members know them by name!
  5. The choir chic: The typical choir chic can foine! This type is usually decked out gloriously every Sunday, and when there is a need to print a handbill, oh yes, na dem dey dey the front o. Normal songs for worship, become opportunities to showcase their Carrie Underwood-esque voices.
  6. The groove man/ groove chic: These types are your semi-reformed bubblers. Dem don groove so tey, as soon as the songs start to play, especially in Naija churches, they break out into the latest adaptation of a P-square, Wande Coal or  Makossa dance steps (You get the drift). Needless to say, they usually sleep through the sermon as they have over spent their energy.
  7. The would-be intellectual: This types – usually blokes – think they have heard it all. From Aristotle to Socrates, from Blaise Pascal to CS Lewis they have heard all the finer arguments for and against the existence of God. They usually appear in church once in a while, sit at the back and look condenscendingly at the delusion of others around them.
  8. The Gizmo Kid: These types are usually blokes again, but I have seen quite a few female versions. Bible on the iPhone or iPod, ear phones plugged in until church starts, dem can pose!

What not to say to my Nigerian Father…

Growing up in my own neck of the woods was an experience. We nicknamed our Pops the Ogbodons – not sure where the term originated from any more but my back side was a living testimony to his varied abilities and multiplied skills in inflicting pain. Mum didn’t help matters as she was was as resolute in hammering our ‘evil’ proclivities out of our systems. I got the opportunity to contrast that parenting style a few weekends back when I went visiting some distant family members in London. Clearly their less than 3 year old daughter has more leeway with him than I do with my own parents at my (huge) age.

In general, the following phrases got you into serious trouble in my house..

  1. It wasn’t me it was (insert name of younger sibling) – This was akin to adding petrol to a raging inferno. It often provoked a lecture on how you as a senior member of the house needed to take responsibility whilst the parents were out trying to make money to ‘take care of you’.
  2. Good Morning (without the Sir or Daddy) – This was the ultimate faux paus. You were required to treat your Nigerian father with the maximum amount of respect. I didn’t have to do the whole prostrating thing but failing to add ‘Sir’ to the morning greeting was guaranteed to result in some real deep ish – the least of which was some hours of ‘starvati0n therapy’.
  3. It is not true o! – This usually occurred when the Ogbodon was narrating to the ‘maternal unit’ your latest mess up which resulted in forgetting money in the taxi or some more public bit of embarrassment. To one’s young mind, adults were eternally embellishing the facts to make events seem worse than they really were, but woe betide you if you interjected. The initial parental reflex varied from ” I am talking and you are talking?” or worse “Are you calling me a liar?”.
  4. I don’t know – Back in the Abacha inspired days of severe austerity on University campuses, meat was at a premium. When someone surreptitiously invaded ‘Soup Kingdom’ and raided the pot for a choice piece of meat, repercussions were bound to occur. Chaps usually claimed ignorance to no effect. The parental reasoning was that ‘he that is not for us us is against us’ ie if you are not telling, you are implicit.
  5. I can’t remember – This was usually an escape route from a bad lie. When your father is a stellar academic with an amazing memory, you can’t think up things on the fly mehn. If you were lucky, you would only get a lecture after being serenaded by loads of questions.  “What are you thinking of? Abi you have a girlfriend now?” Mumz was the resident girlfriend expert..and she would have risen very quickly to the top of MI6! Believe me.
  6. She hit me first – Beating up girls was a cardinal sin in my house. Two events stick in my memory. One was at school, a couple of dudes were heckling one of the class tomboys – the whole pinching, hitting, and all what not routine and yours truly was watching (ok… and occasionally adding a knock). We were so engrossed that I didn’t realize that it was way past the time Pops would come pick us up. After waiting for a while, he came to the class to see me applying a few deft touches to a knock. I got a few knocks myself in front of the girl (the girl never let me forget that for the rest of my time in the school!) and I got periodic knocks all the way from Ugbowo to GRA in the school run go-slow of the mid 80s.  The other time, I was grounded and made to recite the longest memory verse at the annual Christmas pageant.The plus side was that I got a very cool nickname after the whole debacle… and she and I became best friends.. for a long time..
  7. My little cousin’s favorite words are ‘Don’t smack me Daddy’ – That would have been labelled down right rebellion – with some serious ‘starving therapy’ recommended for redress!

In which ‘Kasala’ nearly burst….

Kpekere was one of them typical razz waffy boys.. Clean shaven aside of a goatee, not too tall, legs slightly bowed and with rippling muscles under the skin tight tee-shirts he wore, he had a menacing look around him. He was suave in his own way though, waffy slangs rolled off his tongue like melting lollipops, enthralling us , especially when he chose to regale us with tales of his supposed exploits bunkering crude oil in the creeks. His skin was a very light shade of brown – a testament to a randy Portuguese ancestor back in the day. With lots of cash to spare, being a tough tackling no-nonsense central defender in the Department’s Football side added to the aura of hardman that surrounded him, and he used it to good effect.

He did lack one thing though, which was a commitment to serious study. Too many runs meant that he was distracted, and the never ending stream of campus belles didn’t do his focus any good either especially as he spent quite a bit of time hosting his considerable harem in Buka One. He did however, do enough to pass examinations – ably assisted by the real Google Wave – friends collaborating to seamlessly deliver in examination halls as well as a generous helping of chukuli, bullets, cargo and exam answers tatooed on the inside of palms.

Final year came eventually though, and the sudden realization that the final grade was important hit every one. From the happy-go-lucky students like yours truly who focused more on finding the minimum effort required to get borderline alphas to the clearly uninterested students like Kpekere, we all trooped to tutorial after tutorial.

One fateful day, Kpekere joined in a discussion on Thermal Power Systems, proceeding to be very obvious in the process. The tension was palpable, alphas on this exam were about as regular as PHCN delivering – and a few of the more serious efficos could be seen bristling with rage, angered by the perception that all Kpekere was was a distraction we couldn’t afford.  I, the ever willing student of human behavior, sat aloof sensing there would be a twist.

Up came the lead effico, a pretend Brit whose only claim to a Brit accent was spending three months in London while his father completed an MSc, to whom we gave the sobriquet Prof. His stated intent was to demonstrate to the class how to determine the optimum inter-stage pressure for perfect intercooling at the multi-stage compressors. After going through it the first time, he asked if every one understood.

Guy I no understand o.. How you take find that thing nah? Kpekere butted in, in his characteristic tone, in between teeth actively engaged in chewing gum. We could almost hear the sharp intake of air from Prof.

Can you ask your question in English please? Prof countered.

Guy, which level na? How you take find that thing o! Haba. Kpekere countered, arm motions indicating he was dismissive of Prof’s claim to needing a change of language.

Well, I’m serious here, If you don’t ask the question in English, I will be unable to dignify your question with an answer. Ebo! I muttered under my breath, totally enjoying the developing standoff.

Na your papa language sef? Make you take time o! Wetin dey do this small pickin sef! Clearly, Kpekere was getting animated. It was rumored that he knew people who knew people who could arrange things on this campus. Surely Prof would back down now?

We, all 60 of us,  were suddenly spectators in this battle of wits – the razz waffy boy, wey no send anybody vs the pretend Brit boy..

I insist, ask your question in English, Prof repeated, I thought I could detect a slight quake.

Na only you go better school abi? I no dey speak any English, wetin dey worry you sef ehn??? I go do you strong thing o! This boy, I go do you strong thing o.. . Kpekere was clearly livid and he marched down the stairs towards the front of the class where Prof was standing.  I could sense the tension reach sky high levels. We were caught in two minds – someone needed to put Prof in his place, but losing any more time in this course was not helping anybody.

Prof and Kpekere now stood eye to eye toe to toe, The stocky figure of Kpekere and the plump keggish stomach of the Prof defined the moment. Would there be a slap, or some shirt pulling…. Surely the Prof wouldn’t risk it..

Talk that nonsense wey you talk again make I hear, stewpid boy. Kpekere repeated.

You could have heard a pin drop! Both men stared each other down. I made up my mind and acted.

Guys, we don’t have time… Kpekere and Prof can you take your fight outside?, I interjected. I slipped a detailed solution to the problem into Kpekere’s hands.

Maybe speaking broke the spell, as the class suddenly came alive. Voices rising in a crescendo of placation.

Na your guy na, una wan’ fight cos of book. Life pass this school o! Prof stole one last glare and then turned and headed to his seat beside me..

He was trembling like a leaf in a harmattan gale!


With gratitude to ‘God’ for a life well spent, and with deepest sorrow and condolences to her survivors, I the undersigned wish to announce the passing away of our most loyal, productive and dearly beloved friend, helper, encourager and employee – the one and only Miss Eleganza Biro, which sad event occurred on the 15th of May 2009 after a brief illness.

Miss Biro assumed duties as examination biro at B &A on the 4th of December 2008 and presided over a very fruitful period of examinations, the highlight of which was improving average performance by over 60% year on year. In recognition of such stellar performance, she was promptly elevated to the position of Biro-at-large, one she held until her recent untimely death.

Miss Biro will be forever remembered at B&A not only for her stellar performance, but also for her charitable and amiable manners and her commitment to mentorship which endeared her to all and sundry.

A memorial mass will be held at the Temple of Fire and Brimstone on the 31st of May immediately following which her body will be cremated and spread all over the exam halls of NU as a tribute to the scene of her greatest exploits.

Chief (Dr) Professor, Danny BaGucci.  FIMechE, FIEEE, FASME, OFR, CFR, CON, JP. (Executive Director)
For the Company