When I hear the counsel “Accept your loss and move on,” it is often delivered with an unkind or compassionate intention. Said with unkindness, it reminds me of the ignorance or outright folly of the counsellor. Losses, I am certain, are measured in terms of the degree of necessities they create for the recipient. Incidences of hunger, sadness, confusion, pain, destitution, estrangement, loneliness, and bereavement are one side of loss I have witnessed many times. People do exaggerate their losses for various reasons. The other side of loss, as I have seen it, is experienced as freedom, unexpected new opportunities, wisdom, better choices, and more personal space. The man who benefitted from his loss may not share it with those he no longer trusts. The overcoming of loss is sometimes more contrary and less visible than observers may expect.
A strange event floated into my quiet space like an aimless freak and stunned me harder than a shockwave. The idigo lights had come on indicating a great personality or deity was scheduled to visit Davy Jones Locker for some unpur knownpose or is it unknown purpose. Then the light went out, making my eyes fall to the ground then return to its sockets with a little dust that itched them. Such a one-in-a-billion chance event had to be a cancellation or an error. I was worried.
Hitherto that moment of the lights, I was there alone in the gigantic cavern brainstorming the fate of Davy Jones Locker if Nigeria breaks up. “Against Tribalism,” I said aloud. Will the 4-7 Creed be scraped or revised or undergo its own Tower of Babel? What concerns a map-maker with chromium content of stainless steel? I was shivering a little despite wearing thick woolly socks, a trouser over tracksuit bottoms, two jumpers, a black beret, and a great coat. There were only a few candles burning with still flames and darkness seemed ready to pounce on me. Not a place for the gregarious.Continue reading
“Academic jazz” is a phrase that startles me. What does it mean? Today jazz music, jazz dance and jazz poetry are mainstream academic subjects. Libraries of books on jazz theory, performance, improvisation, history, analyses, events, styles, and personalities abound. Many believe jazz, particularly in its bebop and Avant-Garde forms, are intellectual, making it suitable for academic inquiry. If public intellectual giants such as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Cornel West, Jack Kerouac, Amiri Baraka, have been steeped in jazz and its expression, it has to be intellectual. Nevertheless, jazz music was not created in university departments or conservatories of music. It came out of Africa, a continent perceived as backward. Most of the earliest practitioners of jazz in the USA could not read nor write English or music. They learnt and played their musical crafts by ear. That said, we may be confronted with the question, does academic jazz or the jazz of academics’ matter?Continue reading
Ayo Odebisi, also known as Paramole, would have turned sixty-five Wednesday, 28th of April. He was not a man you could forget. The aura he projected on those around him and his immediate environment contributed to the weight of words and ways. I never met anyone as sincere with himself and about the whole palate called life. He stood as an exemplar of the human spirit. I never get carried away by his thought; he was not superhuman, he was human and humane.Continue reading
In this month of January 2021, I have been overwhelmed by many friends, acquaintances and even strangers with questions about what a couple of words I frequently use in speech and sparingly in writing mean. The words that have generated this unexpected spate of curiosity are “Mufugbenous” and “Mufugbeneity.” Mufugbenous is defined as the… I would have offered the appropriate definitions for the words but the undue accusations that have come with the questions put me off. A word is either right or wrong, I agree, but to say I am wreaking mischief or being obscurantist or intending to discombobulate with my diction is something I thoroughly reject. Mufugbenous and mufugbeneity, certainly have meanings and serve to communicate.
Yesterday, as I was making octopus pepper soup, I decided to have a sip of seaweed kinkana, a mild alcoholic spirit. Paramole had given me the recipe to make the still when he returned from the Great Gangway. The Davy Jones Locker rendezvous was quiet, cold and sterile as usual but also inspirational and unencumbering. I must emphasise I love the place; it is my kind of place; it is my home now. I only use my submarine to come onshore these days, which is not often.
My unfailing experience was, an hour before a Forgone Terrors arrives at the Davy Jones Locker rendezvous, the Entrance would turn deep indigo or even purple. It is a signal for me to get ready to Mascot a Forgone Terror to the Great Gangway in any manner I choose. Now, for the first time in my experience, the Entrance turned blood red. It was a signal that an unauthorised person was arriving. I had never seen this happen and wondered who would appear at the Entrance. Was it the Devil himself, Sir Francis Drake, Vasco Da Gama, Black Beard, William Kidd, Calico Jack or the god, Poseidon? I knew it had to be a man by the laws of natures. The pepper soup was ready and scenting fine, and what a meal! No more sips.
Ideology can be such a blinding and narrow-minded state of mind, individually or collectively. Accurate history informs us that plagues and pandemics have devastated the world several times and for millennia, long before socialism and capitalism came into existence and the human race is still here. But not because of the excessive passions that drive ideology. My conservative friends of Nigerian origin seem to think otherwise. Continue reading
There is an old African tale in former times used as a universal allegory. There was once a flourishing pond with an environ full of animals and provided enough for all their needs. Strife was minimal. A Monitor Lizard in the pond had a big reputation for perpetrating wickedness, slander and treachery against other animals that inhabited the environs of the pond. The pain of others was his chief daily joy. His stripes, complexion, eyes and movements made him look both alien and wretched – perhaps the source of his deformed personality. Lying by raising reasonable doubt or obfuscating facts was the essential deception he used to harm and ruin others for no good reason at all. He also had gotten many animals severely punished and banished from the pond despite their innocence. Above all, he was a master flatterer who could easily get former victims to support him and his many schemes. Alas, the animals that lived by the pond accepted the Monitor Lizard’s evil ways as inevitable possibly because they dreaded him. Then a day of reckoning emerged.
In the Summer of 2015, I met and briefly befriended an interesting and pretty British-Nigerian lady in London for a couple of months. She was a focused intellectual type and an ardent seeker of knowledge. She was introverted and I extraverted. For some inexplicable reason, there were many popular and unusual topics we debated for hours. Unexpectedly, in September 2015 she announced to me she had gotten a scholarship to study for a PhD in the USA and promised she was going to miss me. I was flattered. That was the last I saw of her and her company. Despite having spent so many hours talking with her about a variety of topics, we never exchanged surnames. It was a sincere Platonic relationship we had.
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Obor ri guono ughwume sonobrughwe rovwo na’a
Obor ri guono ughwume sonobrughwe rovwo na’a
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Oruru ro w’egbedere ko taghra
Abortu ri guono ughwu r’Okpan Oghene rovwo na’a
Itu ri guono ughwume Oghene rovwo na’a
Saturday the 25th of April 2020 was cold and blank in the Davy Jones Locker. A few sailors had passed through the rendezvous to the other side after becoming victims to Covid-19 and other causes but this Saturday there were no forgone sailors arriving. For the first time in my experience there, a particular case of forgone reversal occurred. The Great Door had open and solemn song could be heard accompanied by restrained okombo [drum] beats. I became very concerned and might have tricked myself I was not scared. The Great Door only opened when a sailor was about to cross the Great Gangway. Why had it opened without a forgone arrival? I began to hear footsteps, they got closer, and a man emerged, Paramole himself. About 7 feet away from me, he stopped. His face was listless. I was frozen all over with amazement, and he did not seem happy to see me where I was.
I had a dream last night that I had died while dreaming. Then nothingness, Okuku [total blankness]. It was all over, no points of return available or imaginable. However, when I woke up this morning and found that I was still alive, fresh and sexy [Gbogborogbo!], I almost fell unconscious with the shock of surprise. The unconsciousness that one recovers from I have experienced endlessly, and it can be pleasant but not the one who felt permanent as in my dream. Sleep, inebriation, general anaesthesia and over-high fevers, I have all woken up from, but it seemed impossible for me to do so in this dream. I have never been knocked out in all my many fights, though I am no longer a youth.
Knowing that one is living with oppression is a blessing whenever it decides to come, not knowing is a curse that will forever leave one much worse off. – Guynes
Before attempting to answer a few interesting questions arising from readers of the article Oppression as a Test: A Metaphor for the Nigerian Youth (https://wp.me/p1bOKH-P5), it is important to explain a simple taxonomy of oppression.
“Those who have come to know and trust death embrace it with love. It is the very foundation of freedom. Oppressors love no one, not their wives, not their children, not their friends. How can such a person love death? Behind the empty shell of the oppressor, he fears all the real tests of his worth that are imminent.” – Guynes
Oppression is a test or testing event. Some strange men habitually oppress others, and they commonly do so by the actual practice or simulations of “bone testing”. Bone testing works because it is the violent use of bones by those who claim to be “strong” [bullies?] and can in varying degrees damage the bones, muscles, tissues, and nerves of others, thus securing their submission. Bone testing not only causes ache and hurt, but it also can maim and kill too. Why would the oppressed and opressable not fear it? Such is the stuff of oppression; inducing fear. All resistance breaks down. The next level of oppression is the use of “word testing”. The words of mouth are perhaps the most effectively used human instrument of domination known, mainly, where the hypocrisy of peace and doing good exists. It is the domain of intimidation, scaremongering, perplexity and verbal dehumanisation on the one hand. And deception, persuasion, feel-good-factors and the sale of hope on the other. It is also oppression by mind-control. All dissent or oppositions takes a crushing. Bone and word testing as used to oppress are very physical and psychological, respectively, derived from a wide array of evil incentives.
When the realm governed by the Bad Brother is hollowed out from the inside by the purposeful preponderance of evil, excesses and abuses to the point everything that held it together is so polluted and its rules irreparably unenforceable, a power vacuum is created. That is the art of negotiating oneself out of power by sloth. Folly. The high and mighty in society that once gave credibility and legitimacy to the realm turn their honourable backs and conveniently depart gradually if they were not expelled earlier. The least among men devoid of rectitude, creativity and intelligence then come into ascendance and potentially power by way of hunter-gather style ambition. The realm then gets hollowed out further till the skin breaks from the inside to the surface. Only the memories remain and the smell.
Boiss dey! Boiss always do right where the Bad Brother has done evil, and they invariably succeed in the end. The tables have now turned for the better, and the seating arrangements have changed for good as they should have a very long time ago. Not until the revolution is complete do guynes believe it.
Ayo Odebisi a.k.a. Paramole (1956-2017) was one of the three persons [cum mentors] who never stopped loving me as the human being I am. He loved me despite my apparent unusual and often disconcerting approach to life, perhaps because he was a far more unusual fellow with an even more disconcerting approach to life. Death has changed this dynamic, taking me unawares.
The end of the era of the leaders who are bad brothers need not be obscure, it must never be.
Everyday people in this everyday world of ours bear witness to everyday evil and wickedness every single day, directly or indirectly. To be consistently and confidently nefarious, one has to have some sort of power and loads of impunity to float it. Spectacular evil in the name of power is something we see on television carried out by large organisations and many rich countries of the world with the thought of empire in question. Or it is exacted by extremists. How about the non-spectacular evils of the power-seeking bullies that affect us insidiously every day? The fourth instalment of The Leadership of a Bad Brother is further emphatic witness;
The third instalment of The Leadership of a Bad Brother has the same context and focus on the first two. The random presentation of thoughts is intended to reflect the haphazard manner by which victims of bad organisations and bad leaders order their thoughts privately. Some respondents have questioned where this diary is heading. The author intends to open a dialogue with readers about direct personal experiences of tyranny/abuses, within any kind of setting they have worked or belonged. Whether it is a voluntary organisation, corporation or government agency. The participation of the reader in this dialogue can make open that which is hidden and potentially held change things. Not many contributions received so far.
The diary titled The Leadership of a Bad Brother (http://wp.me/p1bOKH-Db) is herein given its second rendering. It is the case the bad leadership, especially of the professional kind, is an increasing occurrence as well as having gained broad unwitting acceptance in society and therefore nothing is done about. However, bad leadership mostly is unexpected and obscured thrives. We shall continue to examine the nature and incidence of bad leadership as it affects the lives of people individually and collectively, whether formally or informally, legally or illegally, secretly or openly.
These musings as ordinary as they are have been inspired daily by reflections on the leadership of someone I can best describe as a “Brother”. Put together as a diary, it is an attempt to make sense of the tyranny an individual with the help of a few cronies can exact on people of means but no voice. It also attempts to present an eschatology of the end of tyranny as is observed. Each entry tells part of the story as appropriately as is possible.
The art of making powerful enemies mostly depends on one’s willingness or compulsion [either] not to care or to care so much about what others do in your actions and reactions. When making enemies be prepared. – 30/06/2016
“Bird’s got something to teach us all; About being free, yeah; Be no rain… Be no rain…” – Gil Scott-Heron, from the lyrics, I Think I’ll Call It Morning
I declare myself to be an Opintar sometimes, yet with constant acceptance. Many think Opintar is a fun name. Or of vernacular because they cannot google it. Or the vanity of a man who has experienced severe illness many times in his adult life. It is none of these. Being an Opintar is an apt description of my lot in life and how I should live it. Opinterity is the closest I will ever know of being liberated and of joy, yet it is not a glorious thing to be due to the ambiguous internal costs.
In everyday Nigerian parlance the word “combination”, regarding food, connotes meals that consist of unlikely combinations. Meals are essentially combinatorial products; chips and chicken; a stew made of vegetable oil, tomatoes, pepper, fish and condiments; pineapple fried in batter. People effortlessly appreciate these combinations as customary, but others appear shocking and strange to them.
Take a look at a meal of ‘kola nut and akamu’ (a.k.a. ogi, kunu or pap)! I have seen someone eat that and when I told some people about it, they said maybe the guy was using it as a prescription of magical traditional medicine. I have seen someone eat an ‘amala sandwich’ (bread, butter with a wrap of amala in the middle)! When I first saw an uncle of mine eat ‘bread and coconut’ I was shocked, but a trial convinced me that it was not bad at all. Even ‘rice and yam’ with stew seem odd to many while millions of others eat it.
Increasingly on social media, we are witnessing a tidal wave of swear words as ‘acceptable’ reactions of disbelief, anger, disappointment or shock to the comments and utterance of others. These swear words are coming from decent people, even highly lettered intellectuals. One of the most common swear words (phrases) used is “FFS” (For Fuck Sake(s)) often abbreviated to demonstrate some decency on the part of the user. It is not too surprising but still highly incongruent to observe that the word “fuck” in FFS is interchangeably used or readily substituted with the word “Christ” as in FCS (For Christ Sake(s)). Continue reading
It was an autumn evening in 1996 when I visited the up and coming French jazz bassist, Collard Romain, at his flat in Camberwell, London. Collard shared the flat with an up and coming pianist, Javier. Theirs was a flat of jazz music. I had met Collard and saxophonist Christian Brewer a few months earlier at one of the evening jazz duo sessions at Café Boheme in Soho, and we became friends.
It had rained hard just before I set out to meet Collard at his flat one evening and cold. When I knocked on his door, a black guy in jeans pants and a jeans shirt opened the door and asked me who I was looking for in an American accent. A quick and apt description of the guy was that he looked like the father or older brother of rap artist Snoop Doggy Dogg. On entering the flat Collard warmly welcomed me as usual and then enthusiastically introduced Clifford Jarvis to me. I was amazed.
The guy [who confessed] was overcome by frustration, hopelessness, sadness and non-existent self-esteem. The problem he had was quite unusual or perhaps very usual, but it deflated him. He found out overnight for some strange reason and maybe exacerbated by diabetes that he was impotent, yes impotent. In his own eyes, he was no longer a man. A few women who had fancied him quickly gave him up when he failed them with non-performance at a time when his stature, muscles, looks and height, at face value, wildly suggested he was capable of gonad-watering performances.
“Mantissism” is a revived doctrine of self-sacrifice once developed and practiced in former times to achieve the common good among communities currently emanating and harnessed in Nigeria by a small group as a return to principles that fostered collective prosperity and harmony in coastal West African society and well beyond. ‘Mantissism in practice’ is a potential antidote to legalised, legitimised or impunity-driven greed and corruption as well as misgovernance in society. The potential is not in doubt but the popularity and embodiment of the practice by large sections of the society has to be thoroughly promoted, constructed and developed to be functional and useful. Continue reading