Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why I Blog

How do you feel today? I have been wrapped up in the euphoria of the blog nominations but  snapped out of it when I realized that it is posting truly interesting and inspiring blogs that got me here in the first place.
I took up blogging in Oct 2010 amidst calls from my friends on Face book. I had written my first flash memoir on my birthday 23 rd Sept and some people thought they heard a voice there needing to reach the world. I've gone on to write these amongst many others.

Short Stories

Cold Feet,
Cock Crow At Dawn,
For The Love Of BlackBerry,
ButterFlies In My Stomach,
Familiarly Pushy,
Small Pikin
My Three Patients,
Mad World
Choir Blues (1)

 non fiction pieces

How Not To Be A Rat In My House
Dear N
Of Legacies And Remembrances
You Need Me To Feel Good
The Fragility Of The Artistic Ego
Humor's Limit
Association of Witches and Wizards... Seriously??
Correspondence Between Berry Feisty Pen and Mr Aliyu Umar
This Is Some Bizarre Stuff; Like Seriously?
The Perfect Church; How Perfect?

Pilgrim Progress on

How Not To Be Spirit Filled
Will You Really Walk Past?
Who Do Men Say I Am
Let's Paint This Town Red
The Fourth Man In This Furnace
Too Young For A Legacy?
My Mess, My Growth
New Beginnings; Starting All Over Again
Thou Shall Not Compare

Opinion Pieces

Our Apathy, Our Undoing(Sahara Reporters, Bella Naija)
What Exactly Is Your Colour (234 Next)
Madam, Your Hair Is Due (234 Next)
Fela, Not Without Honour ( Bella Naija)
Lives; Not Federal, Not State (234 Next)

I blog to
Keep my creative juices flowing- It is incredibly difficult to keep getting better at writing if you don’t write. I mean, it’s really that simple and I owe whatever more I know about writing to the blogging experience.
Find an outlet to encourage and inspire- Sometimes, there are just words in my head that I feel I shouldn’t be the only one hearing so I blog to let out the voice.
I do not blog:
For popularity- I am not moved by the number of followers, the comments etc and certainly not blog nominations. Encouraged by it, but not driven by it. I simply love to write.
To belong to a certain clique or group- I actually cringe at the thought of being herded into some kind of clique. The group effect never quite got me. I am a professional writer and take what I do very seriously.
For financial reward- When I write my novel and get it published, then I would expect people to buy it and of course earn money as a result but this blog is sacred; like a scrap book of sorts and a repository of all I’ve ever written that makes sense. I will not blog just anything to get a certain number of hits or reduce quality so that the Google ads can be clicked on.
The 7 nominations are well deserved in my opinion. I would have felt like a fraud any way else.
Read this blog and then VOTE if you think Feisty Pen deserves this
I love you for free sugars

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vote FeistyPen for the Nigerian Blog Awards


How are you doing today? Voting for The Nigerian Blog Awards has started. Feisty pen had 7 nominations!! *Drum Roll Please* Thanks to you lovely people out there who nominated me. The categories are

3. Best Blog by a Nigerian Based Blogger

4. Best Book, Poetry or Writing Blog

14. Best New Blog

26. Most Humorous Blog

28. Most Inspiring Blog

29. Most Unique Voice in  a Blog

30. Nigerian Blog of the Year

All you do is enter your name and your email adress (a valid one) and click beside Feisty Pen to vote in each of these categories.

They will send a confimation link to your email adress so that you can confirm that it is indeed you sending the vote. Thank you guys as you vote for me.

Here is the


Please drop a comment if you have any problems with this process. Please and please vote and vote and vote and tell your friends and family.  I am very grateful.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lives; Not Federal, Not State

The recent road accident involving the deaths and injury of school children along the Lagos Ajah-Epe Expressway is a failure of government, especially at the local and state level.
The driver of the Corner Stone school bus was said to have been speeding while trying to negotiate a bend, thereby running into vehicles coming at breakneck speed from the opposing lane.

Parents have lost their heirs; one woman lost the two children she had after waiting for years to conceive. Wait or no wait, they were her babies.

The Ajah-Epe Expressway is no stranger to accidents. Just two days after the school bus incident, a mangled saloon car was seen at the side of the road, along with a bus and another saloon in different states of ruin. The fate of its occupants are unknown. God help them if they were rushed to the chronically inept health facilities that line the corridor.

The government of Lagos State has failed the users of this expressway in many ways.
Actually the use of the word express is an oxymoron. Expresses exist out of town, where they link metropolis to metropolis, and are usually not located in heavily-populated areas.
The Epe Expressway was once an express. It no longer is. Many people now live on either side of the road. From the Ajah but stop to Epe, houses, businesses and churches line the aisle, with citizens, including small children, walking unguarded along the road.
When you then consider the speed at which drivers (who are still of the illusion that they are driving on an expressway) use, it is not hard to imagine why there are so many accidents.

The government and its relevant parastatals have not carried out any public awareness campaigns concerning the speed limits that should be obeyed on this road. Mobile accident units like those available on the Third Mainland Bridge are visibly absent. The road is being treated as a no man's land, when it is actually home to thousands of Lagos' nouveau riche.

Another major contributor to the incessant accidents is the large number of trailers and tankers that ply this route. They carry the materials for use in constructing the many buildings sprouting up in areas along the corridor. From Sangotedo to Awoyaya to Lakwe, the trailers and tankers zoom past, despite being heavily laden with materials. One tanker driver once confessed that after working back and forth, day and night, he gets so exhausted that he places a large rock on the accelerator, so that his leg can get some rest.

What time will this man have to awaken from his stupor to kick that rock out of the way when he is seconds away from a head-on collision with a bus filled with school children?
By now, the Fashola-led government of Lagos State should have threatened these trailer and tanker drivers with a ban from plying this route if they fail to comply with simple common sense safety measures when driving on this ‘express'.
The driver must be of a certain age, chosen as an indicator of maturity, must not drink alcohol, must be of even temper and must be able to drive!

Hidden dangers

On my way back from work the other night, our cab driver suddenly let out a loud yelp. A form had just whizzed past the front of the cab, which had been moving ‘expressly'.
We missed the man by a hair's breadth. He was wearing black and looked no different from the area around him. There are no street lights. Of course, this is not a Lekki-Epe problem alone, but it is a problem and it is costing lives. One may argue that the street lights can not be put up now, because the Hi-Tech construction workers are advancing the work towards the area and may eventually pull out any light poles when road expansion begins.
But, something must still be done before a large number of citizens for whom the road is being made die from invisibility related accidents.

Floodlights, reflectors and speed breakers and are some of many short-term interventions that may be used by the government to ensure that drivers can notice things and persons on the road. Encouraging people to wear brightly-coloured clothes when walking on the road shoulders at night is a public safety strategy which the locals must be made aware.

The construction of the road also needs to be hastened because of the importance of the proposed extra lanes where the vehicles turning into the other lanes can signal and wait without causing accidents and traffic.

It is interesting to note that when all the noise was on about the presidential elections, I held it close to my chest that the local and state government elections of the executive and the legislature were more important because they affect the daily lives of the citizenry much more than the government at the centre. And the argument that the road is a federal Road, and should not be part of the state's burden does not hold any water. Our lives are lives. Not federal or state lives.

Hi guys, this opinion of mine was published in the Next Newspapers print and online edition in May 15 2011. It didn't get much coverage because I only knew it had been published a week after. But I would like you to read this and tell me a few things. I have written and published no less than 7 opinion pieces since I began serious writing in 2010. I have always favoured the humorous, conversational style. I would like you to read this and offer your opinion not only on the content but also on the style and if you found it engaging. Gotta know if I should be publishing any more opinions.

Thanks much.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Choir Blues (1)

You might want to read this first: SMALL PIKIN

Mrs Effiong last sang in the choir in Secondary School. When she moved with her parents and siblings to Lagos in 1989, she was quickly enrolled into Form 2 and when the school choir needed a replacement for the Carol Service, she was called on to try.
She had done well at the time. Her singing voice had proven to have the texture and pitch absent in her speaking voice. So when her husband, Udoh Effiong suggested to her that she pick a department in the church where she might serve the Lord, she replied, with a cheerful certainty- Choir.
They were sitting in the parlour after they returned from church. Nsese was on the floor, playing with her rag doll. The windows were open, the curtains pulled to the side; there was no power.
Mrs Effiong threw down her head tie revealing her hair net under which her bob was wrapped.
“I enjoyed the preaching today, she said. I bought the tape for you. They were doing buy- one- get one- free, so I bought you today’s and last week’s. Very cheap, just 100 naira, she said.
“But I gave you 200 naira apart from Nse’s offering, why didn’t you buy all four for the past month? he asked.
“How many can you listen to at a time, next week I’ll buy jo, no use tying down money”.
Udoh didn’t bother replying. He could never win. So he changed the subject and landed on the issue  of what department to join.
Since Nsese’s birth a year and a half ago and throughout the ten months of the pregnancy, Mrs Effiong had been in what Udoh and his Presbyterian leaders would call  ‘visitor in God’s house’ mode.
The Pastor had once preached a message: They that dwell and they that visit. The punch line of the sermon to which several of the congregants all chorused ‘Preach it’ was that people who dwell in homes have the responsibility to clean and take care of it but visitors were exempt as they were going to leave soon after they came.
So, it was understood that the message was an allegory castigating those who didn’t do anything to help in the church but were obviously not visitors. Mrs Effiong was one of them, so while her husband taught the Sunday School children, she became wracked with guilt and dredged out of her memory her choir singing days in Greater Heights Secondary.
“So you will attend the rehearsals on Tuesday, Mr Effiong said.
"Yes", she replied dragging Nsese to the bedroom to change her soiled diapers.
Presbyterian Church was located on the intersection between  Salvation Army street and Macaulay way on the Mainland Bypass. As Mrs Effiong alighted from the bus and crossed the street, she couldn’t help admiring the tall glass building stained with gold and bright green hues. She thought it was beautiful even though slightly outrageous but the church had loved the final creation after what seemed like years and years of sowing and sacrificing.
She met Ijeoma outside alighting from the bike that had brought her. Ijeoma was an extremely light skinned lady who sang lead especially in songs that required a knowledge of Igbo and when she saw Mrs Effiong, she cut her speech to the quick. ‘Are you mad?’ and other such questions were on her lips to ask of the bike man who had just splashed brown, muddy water on her skirt. But as a lead singer, she figured it would be bad example to a young worker.
Mrs Effiong smiled. A look of understanding passed between them. These guys can really be mad, her eyes seemed to be reassuring.
They greeted and walked in together. A man was at the piano at the far side of the hall and a group of men and women were seated along rows of chairs at the front. Mrs Effiong could see a woman slapping at her weave so hard, her head bobbed from side to side.
Although she was already known by most people  because of her husband, she still needed to stand up and say her name and what part she intended to sing. After the introductions came voice training. The choir master who introduced himself as Mr Ben said that she needed to justify her claim by singing the alto part to a popular chorus.
It was to be call and response. When Mrs Effiong sang it exactly how he had sang it; straight melody and without the barest hint of a harmony,  someone at the back sniggered. Mrs Effiong raised her eyebrows. You must not know ‘bout me!

We'll continue tomorrow. Did you enjoy how this started? Tell me in your comments.
Bless! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day: What My Father Taught Me

Yesterday was Father’s day. I dropped a line for my father on Facebook (amazing isn’t it), because he was out of town and I couldn’t reach him by phone.
I started to think about what having him as my father meant to me.
I remember being six in the 80’s and attending Christ Chapel meetings with him.  Tunde Joda’s baritone and the sharp punk he sported are my earliest memories of my Christian faith. My father got an earlier start on the evangelical, way before my mum and introduced me to a world of speaking in tongues, a ferocious appetite for Bible reading and a love for singing husky alto/tenor hymn parts.
He taught me to read and to love language. My mother (of sweet, blessed memory) was always the one who taught me Maths, and my father got the part as English teacher. He helped me construct those English essays, and with his characteristic cursive flourish, he would scribble the biggest words my seven year old mind could appreciate at the time.
He taught me hard work and diligence. Growing up, I watched him like clockwork, up at 4, on the road by 5.30 for that Government job that helped pay our bills.
He taught me laughter and I know that this is where I got my love for humour. He would regale my siblings and I with tales of the same ‘Fatima’ story, and each time with a different punch line. He would repeat the jokes his father had told him in that unique way an Ibibio man gurgles his words.
He sowed the seed for journaling. I remember that he scribbled everything. The diaries that came in each new year were his best presents. I once stumbled on a page where he wrote all the years up until 2020 and how old his children would  be and what he hoped they would have accomplished. He kept all our report cards and school fees invoices (yep you read right) from Nursery School till High School. Of course you know that means he had all the Nepa bills and receipts.
As I grew older and began to romanticise my childhood less, I began to see my father as the man that he was and not the godlike figure I had earlier on adored. It changed me. In more ways than one. But a deeper change superseded all others. And that was a deep, abiding love and appreciation for the human that he is. Strenghts and weaknesses and all. So Instead of waiting until his funeral (which is still far, far off, I hope) I chose today to celebrate my father, my sire, my friend. And in realizing that it took the unique qualities of two people to make me, I chose to celebrate the man as I have celebrated the woman.
To you, daddy, Happy Father’s day, you did better than most.
P.S Take your time today to celebrate the one you choose to call Father. Don’t wait much longer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Knowing Can Do To Your Life

In my previous post, I was talking about making choices and how difficult that can be. I ended by asking you to think about what was good for you.
You’ve heard the phrase; ‘make an informed decision’, which presupposes that critical information is the bedrock of quality decisions.
This applies in little things as well as in big things. Do you know that the difference between looking like an old bag lady and looking like a queen (which everybody is capable of) will simply depend on the information of what your body looks like and how you can bring out the best from it?
The decision to order shrimps at Cactus will depend on the information of your stomach’s predisposition to sea food. If you are not informed about your allergies, you could end up with swollen eyes and itchy throat on an emotionally charged first date (like Will Smith in Hitch) and we don’t want that, do we?
So, we need to be informed about ourselves, our dreams, our aspirations. Choices become easier to make when there is information. What information do you have about that man/woman, or that business, or that academic program?
I will also not try to assume you should want what everybody wants you to want.
Deep down in your heart, you may really not feel like being successful. I think you should be though, successful that is. But it’s not my choice after all. You may just be content with being mediocre. But at least, it will be your choice. So when you’re sixty and you look back at your life, you can say, with no regret, “this is what I wanted.”
 Statistics tell us that the No 1 regret among the top five regrets of the death bed is: I wish I had the courage to live a life true of myself, and not what others expected of me. Bitter is the man who arrives at a destination he does not remember aspiring to reach. So if YOU want to be successful, please be by all means.

I know you may be wondering about all the “informed choices” you’ve made in the past that took you to places you did not intend. I’ll say, are you pretty sure they were informed? The right information? Ok, maybe.

Which brings me to my next point. Since you are not the only one in the world, and you have to interact with countless others and exist in relation to the forces of life, animate and inanimate, there is a high probability that the choices of others may affect the results of your own choices. So what do you do then, you ask.  
Make a fresh choice, baby! And each time, keep asking yourself, “what do I want”. Every moment is a choice and choices come together to form your life.
We’ll talk more soon. Remember to make a choice to nominate this blog  for the Nigerian Blog awards at .  An informed choice, I’ll say.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is This What You Want?

Tough Choices: How Making Decisions Tires Your Brain: Scientific ...

I used to hate choosing. It's the reason why I hated shopping. Going up to department stores and looking at racks and racks of clothes, my mind would go numb because I couldn't get myself to make a decision.
I was the kind of person who would say "anything" with a wry shrug in response to "what would you like".
So I usually got anything. Bought any clothes. Let the stylist do anything with my hair. Ordered anything at the restaurant. Because, I simply had a problem with choosing.

Another thing I used to do well was let people make decisions for me.
 "Oh, Akan, which one would you take?"
"Just pick anyone you like, I'm fine with your choice", I would respond to my current choosing contractor.

I abdicated the responsibility of decision making because I thought that as long as I didn't make the choices personally, I couldn't be held responsible for the fall out. But I was wrong. I was. It was my body, my life after all.

In making what you would call big decisions, I've always been a bit impetuous. I reasoned that by deciding quickly, I could get over the stress of thinking and wondering and analyzing. The what ifs. Argggh. I really hated those. It didn't always work out. Sometimes it did. Like when deciding whether to pray or not. I just did. It's always good to pray. But sometimes, not thinking through my decisions have landed me in hot soup. But at the time, I didn't know I turned on the temperature by not thinking through.

I. Am. Now. A. Changed. Person.

I realise now that we are all products of our daily choices; big and small. What that has meant is that I've had to learn the art of decision making. Ah, yes, it's an art apparently.

One of the most important aspects of this is knowing and clarifying what is best for you. So, essentially, everything you do is deliberate because you have a set of guidelines in front of you. Of course flexibility is needed, but even that is within predetermined limits. So you keep asking, "how far am I willing to go?"

If you decide to become the third wife of an Alhaji, it had better be what you planned to do. But I digress.

All I'm saying is you must know what is good for you. So what is good for you? Think about it. I'll continue this in a rejoinder. Stay with me!

Thursday, June 9, 2011