Sunday, March 27, 2011


The magical realism that I see in this impending revolution or devolution in Nigeria, is something we have not even realized. I didn’t realize this too, until I reflected on this acronym; from its colloquial meaning: Rice and Stew Very Plenty, to its original meaning: Repondez S’il Vous Plait (please reply or respond), and to its election meaning: Register, Select, Vote and Protect. It dawned on me that everything, everything including the power to rig, bribe, or protect your vote is with YOU! No one else. … RSVP!

No doubt, this year’s election is showing some promise not because all the candidates have promised heaven on earth but because Nigerians are interested; especially the youths! In fact, we are the ones in charge. We have witnessed the primary elections, we have seen presidential and gubernatorial debates, and all that there is. Most of us are convinced and some of us are yet to be. still, a good number of us want to follow our hearts… no problem.

For some weeks now, it’s been everywhere; from those who want Goodluck, to those who want Ribadu and then those who want Buhari and those who want Goodluck but not PDP, to those who want ACN but not Ribadu and those who think Buhari doesn’t need to prove anything; He fought against indiscipline, thanks to him but leadership is more than that or to those who think Bakare should not use the religious or prophetic sentiment. And to those who think, ‘if you like vote they already know the winner’. For all of you, I have answers:

On Goodluck: do not look at his luck, x-ray his abilities, his achievements in office for almost a year now, look at his policies; the good, the bad and the ugly; yes look at them. And if after all these, you think he is worthy; you think he can bring that revolution that we seek. Forget PDP, forget hearsays and go for him.

On Ribadu: forget the EFCC stunts, more importantly; forget his traumatic days. It is not failure. Look out for those things that he did while in office, do you think he can rule Nigeria? You know he was the EFCC bravado. If after all these, you think Nigeria is on its road to greatness. Please vote for him.

On Buhari: thanks to him for the War Against Indiscipline, be critical. If you want Buhari, then go for him, forget the strategy of Bakare, Screen him; check his abilities, forget zoning. If Buhari is the leader we have been dreaming of, so be it.
On Goodluck PDP and Ribadu ACN, I will advise that you forget their parties and focus on the man who will lead. Or better still, on a lighter mood; when you think Goodluck, think ACN and when you think Ribadu, think PDP. It might just help.

On Bakare: give him a benefit of doubt, you think he can’t serve two masters at a time? But what if it is another calling. Screen him still, forget the religious stunt; focus on his personality. But hey, don’t use that against him, have you thought of the fact that this could be solving a problem of religious crises, when these two become one? You see.

For those who want to follow their hearts, I have stated earlier… no problem. Follow your heart after a good research and assessment, and you have come up with a good decision about the right candidate not after your pocket is filled with some candidate’s money. Or, you have been sweet talked into voting for their ‘man’, or you are judging by the good looks. It is your future, remember.

And for those who think they already know the winner: the answer is simple, it is because you have not taken a stand or you have decided not to. It is because you don’t want to vote or you have decided to throw your vote away because you careless. Whatever problem you cause because of your thought, I just hope you are ready in future.

Now back to RSVP: I meditated on its different meanings and the power is just with YOU! If you do the right thing and the ‘Rice and Stew’ becomes very plenty, you will get the reward of being filled and satisfied. If you respond or give the right reply, then revolution will come. And, if you Register, Select, Vote and Protect your vote ‘gidigba’, then revolution is on its way. That is the magic, it is with YOU, YOU and YOU. No one else. Nigerians should come to the realization that no European country was not built in a day, it started with one person who wanted to do the right thing, one person who stood his ground and everyone followed suite. Think about the revolutionary bravery of Martitn Luther King jnr and Nelson Mandela. It simply called commitment, integrity, passion for what is right. Nigeria can never be the same if you do your part, you can’t expect everybody to change at the same time, it could start from you. Please do your part and don’t bother if it will count or not…

One more thing I have to tell you about RSVP, take it or leave it: it is an oath, your national pledge. There are no two ways about the fantasies of European countries, it is integrity, it is passion, it is commitment, it is fighting for what is right, it is damning the consequences and doing what is right, it is flinging their money back at them and telling them ‘I know what I want’. If you want it then RSVP!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Civilization is fulfilling, and fashion? More fulfilling! When I reminisce some hundred, thousand years back, where our foremothers make do with natural textile; you know the green leaves thingie and later they moved on to animal skin. Fashion worked for them too, you know, because they moved on to tying wrappers around their chest and waist down to their knees. it didn’t matter at that time if they were slim or plus sized, or if they had the right and perfect colours on, no no no; it didn’t, as long as they were fertile: they remained the target audience to their husbands.

And in our 21st century? All thanks to fashion, still. Ladies needn’t walk around with green leaves on or bother about tiger and snake skins—no. Fashion has done us real good and the men look beyond fertility. We don’t just wear clothes because they cover us, we wear them because they enhance our beauty as well. But we also cannot wear these clothes without knowing our types of body shapes and what kind of dress will suite our different body shapes. This is why you are reading this… SHAPE UP.


PEAR: Add volume to your shoulders and bust to create balance; Slenderize the appearance of beneath and move the observer’s eye to the face. To measure if you are pear shape, your hips must be two inches more than bust.

HEART: Slenderize the appearance of above. Move the observer’s eye to your face. To measure if you are heart shape, your bust must be two inches more than hips.

BOX: Create the optical illusion of an indentation at the waist. To measure if you are box shape, your hips must be eight inches less than waist.

HOUR-GLASS: Balance your top and bottom while showing off the your best assets; your waist! Your clothes should not knock off the natural proportion. The clothes industry creates clothing specifically for you. So the guideline is – not overdoing or exaggerating! To measure if you are hour-glass shape, your hips must be eight inches more than waist. Also, if your bust and hips are within 2 inches of each other, then you are either box or hour-glass.

SPOON: Show off the smallest part of your torso with an empire waist.

INVERTED TRIANGLE: Add volume to your lower half to balance your shoulders and create the illusion of curves.

OVAL: Structured jackets with flattering lines and just the right flare can help you create the waist you have always wanted.

DIAMOND: Balance your bottom with a flirty sleeved structured jacket.

Still on Shape up, you know, for the plus sizes, the mediums and slims. This will also enhance that perfect body shape; they are factors that affect optical illusion. Try it!
• For the plus sizes and the mediums, you can use dark colours to slenderize, and for the slims, use light colours to widen.
• For the plus sizes and the mediums, vertical and diagonal lines slenderize, and for the slims, horizontal lines widens.
• Finally, the larger the print, the greater the appearance. the thicker / richer the texture, the greater the appearance.

• You are unique, precious, valuable and irreplaceable. “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” – John Mason
• “I will treat you as I see you”
• “I always think that the best way to dress is when the person notices you first and the dress after.” – Oscar de la Renta.
Hmm! Shape up it is…

Monday, March 14, 2011


He sells his wares to young and old
Car spare parts all bright and bold
Boring and technical bits too
Down to even to very small screws

From sunrise to sunset he works
The merchant of Nnewi is a horse
He slaves away until dusk sets
Then slips away to his warm ofe

A man of modest means and ways
The Nnewi merchant does not spray
He eschews the owanbe path
Thinks nothing but about those cars

Into his trade his brothers come
With time they too become someone
As business grows they all expand
Nnewi alone produces such a man

No one can understand his ways
They know not how to break his trade
Both those from near and far away
Cannot breakthrough into the trade

Nnewi man travels far and wide
Taking his kiosk to every clime
No doubt his success is envied
But Nnewi merchant ignores enemies


Africans do polygamy
Like others too in southern seas
Unlike like their brethren of the north
They see more brides as a good cause

In times gone past a while ago
It was that way everywhere you go
But now monogamy is in vogue
Philandering has become a new ghost

Which of the two is best to be
Polygamy or monogamous infidelity
Are concubines more dignified
Than gathering brides as lawful wives

What do you daughters of Eve think
Given the choice which would you pick
To be a nice bit on the side
Or be indoors with all your pride

Are Xumas ways the rightful ones
Or do you find them pugnatious
Are men's hearts not big enough
To love their wives with more than lust

Has man departed from the path
By switching to a monogamous heart
Other mammals are still polygamous
Are we not too multi amorous


It's not about handbags and gloss
Feminism's about a woman's loss
It should be about the cancer jinx
Ovarian type and the cervix

About maternal mortality
Child marriages in infancy
Providing girls good education
Ending reliance on male attention

Although liberation comes in too
They must be allowed who they choose
Not with an old man twice their age
But someone whose on the same page

I weep for Ngozis and Adas
Iyabos, Maryams and Halimats
They face near death at child birth
And then have to rear boys and girls

With little in the way of help
From these commissioners of health
They toil from dusk to dawn poor souls
Looking for ways to break the mould

Women in power are little use
For they do not suffer abuse
They do not share the pains we see
As they just enjoy the cash party


Ayo Akinfe, born in Salford, Manchester, is a London-based journalist who has worked as a magazine and newspaper editor for the last 20 years. Ayo attended Federal Government College Kaduna and obtained his first degree in history from the University of Ibadan. He returned to the UK in 1990 and did his post-graduate studies in journalism at the University of Westminster in London.

After working in journalism for 19 years, Ayo decided to switch to book writing after realising that there is simply too little out there on African history. Fuelling the Delta Fires is one of a series of novels aimed at highlighting Africa’s sorry plight and the misleading image peddled about her.

A big Wilbur Smith fan, Ayo plans to make his series about West Africa similar to what Wilbur has done in southern Africa. Ayo has read all of Wilbur’s 33 novels and believes what has been done there can be replicated in the West African sub-region.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Excerpt from Chioma Sylvie Mgbaramuko’s Oja!

…Shola! Shola! The sound of my name banged in my ear like a cheap Christmas banger. Nkechi’s voice resounded in my ear, like what Ma’mi usually call microphone voice. It can never be subdued, not even in the drone of street noise. I jumped up from the long wooden bench that has become light from age, ‘Nkechi, what is it this time?’ I asked. The sweat on her face shone like glitters but could not hide the worried look she had on. ‘what is it?’ I asked again, this time I nudged her to tell me. ‘dem dey beat Femi’ she rasped quickly, her flair skirt swung around as she spoke. Gbenga who ran in almost immediately with Nkechi , squatted on the floor to catch his breath. I turned to him and tapped him to get up and seat on the light bench, he must have been running from the market place.
Although, the story was different this time, it sounded the same. Femi either stole or was accused of stealing, and he never owned up to any. He would later be arrested and Ma’mi would unfold squeezed ten and twenty naira notes that she had realized from her petty trade to bail Femi.

Today will not be different.

In the evening, Ma’mi and Femi returned from the Police Station, it was like a reunion because for the first time in many months, Femi did not leave the house that night for his usual smoking spree with his gang. Ma’mi managed to buy a derica of rice, two cubes of maggi star and ata gigun for supper. I had lost appetite and could not scrape the bottom of the pot for the sweetest part of the orange rice. I wondered why we were celebrating, we usually had rice meals on important days and sometimes, when Ma’mi made enough sales, but not at night or today that most of the money she realized went to the police. I searched Femi’s face in the semi-lit room for any concern, may be remorse. But there was none, his face was empty and plain. He ate his rice quietly at the corner of the room close to our aged Sharp TV. After the meal, Ma’mi cleaned the wounds on his face and arm with a piece of cloth and warm water.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


In the history of a changing Africa, amidst the nonchalance of some African organizations, far there in the North; Africans have stood up and said to themselves ‘the die is cast, let this madness stop.’ Let this intoxication and misuse of power stop, Africans can no longer be ruled by charlatans who parade themselves as ‘great leaders’. No doubt, revolution is doing the rounds and these by- force leaders are being uprooted. Recently, the story started with Zine Ben –Ali of Tunisia, then Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and now, the self acclaimed ‘great’ leader (of course considering his years on seat) Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Do you ask for how long? How long, is long.

I really have not looked into this African revolution, this is not because I should not, it is because I have decided to pose a blind eye, most especially in this craze of election campaigns in Nigeria; candidates manifestos and posters flying here and there with unending promises, sweet rigging and sweet talking ignorant Nigerians. And now, some forgotten person has come back as presidential candidate for ANPP. He must really have enough to offer us.

The history of most African rulers have not been favourable or commendable, especially the ones who have turned themselves into ‘for life presidents’. Presidents like King Sobhuza, who ruled in Swaziland for 60 years, then his son Nswati took over from him and has been there since 1986 (25 years), Omar Bongo ruled Gabon for 43 years, Sese Seko of Congo ruled for 33 years, Paul Biya has been the president of Cameroun for 29 years, Robert Mugabe has been on seat since the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 (31 years), Houphet Boigny ruled Cote D’ Ivoire for 33 years, even Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo ruled for 38 years. I call it rule because they have turned it to a sacred tradition, like the ritual of culture. Africans must realize that politics is not tradition, it is competence and leadership. It is lead and let others lead; it is not rule and die on the seat; it is not a thing of inheritance, it is merit, it is because you are qualified because you will bring change not because you will enslave citizens and convert them to personal property; I must say that this is not cattle rearing. I’m sorry to add, I do not expect that African Union will condemn what is happening, it has been foreign countries and organizations coming in to mediate, not the so called African Union. As I stated, I do not expect the least, because at one time these for -life presidents have been at one point rulers or strong members of this organization. Really, what do you expect?

I am not talking about 10 years, I am talking about 18, 20, 30, 42, 43, even 60 years! This is ridiculous, even Mandela who slaved for his country did not ask for that much. The mere mention of long is long, long enough for a man to leave the seat. Gaddafi has closed his country from international and political interference, even advancement. What good then does he have to offer? He has turned the country to me, myself and I; self acclaimed great leader and am sure AU is finding it hard because this ‘great’ man who wanted Africa to be United States of Africa… mchew, united indeed. And later baptized OAU into AU, oh! Such ‘great man can do no wrong’.
Rollo May once said that violence arises not out of superfluity of power but out of powerlessness. Libyans are not protesting with ammunition, are they? You have been doing the killing and enjoying the blood show. All they are simply saying in their powerlessness is just ‘go’, we are tired, and like their placards read… 42 years is more than enough. And for that long, I say it is long. Gaddafi, they are simply saying, join your monocratic colleagues; and let your people enjoy the essence of their lives and not be enslaved in your torture. For how long, is too long… exit, please.