Wednesday, 14 November 2012

La Familia

How we all start

Everyone can tell

How it ends

No one can guess

Like the eyes and nostrils


And yet ironically,

So distant

Blood should only deny allegiance

When the body breaks

But families…

Can’t wait not to meet

Except someone’s wedding

Or someone’s dead

We think 3 cows will suffice

To ease emotional heartaches

Of course, they don’t !

I know my Aunt on TV

Though we’ve never met in the city

Cousin has my 3year old pictures

Yet, doesn’t know it’s me in the bus every morning

We all have phones, internet and transportation

And yes… the world is a global ‘village’

So, I wonder how we don’t see

When we live in the same ‘village’

Of myths, our ears are full

‘… Aje ni, o n po mo je!’

(They are witches/wizards, they kill!)

Our thoughts, ego rules

‘…They only want my money!’

There’s nothing like family…

Or do we need orphans to remind us?


Monday, 12 November 2012


What’s real about you?
Is it your nails?
From somewhere in downtown Taiwan
Or your hair?
Probably from neighbouring Korea
Your skin-colour’s been replaced
For a more appealing ‘bright’
Thanks to European cosmetology
Oh! So you also have a flat belly?
Like we don’t know where that came from…
Now, you’re set to get silicon parts
‘Cause your chest-size suddenly troubles you
At first, I thought your eyes were yours…
But guess what?
They’re made from timber too!
Hmm… you seem to be lost
Bits and pieces of you everywhere…
But, in case you find yourself someday…
I would very much like to meet the real you.

Monday, 17 September 2012



Where art thou?

O beautiful and bountiful maiden!...

Show thy face…and put shadows to shame

End agony to aching loins…this verse make worthy O maiden!

Why do you conceal ripeness so?

What evil is this?

Mine thoughts will do me death save care

I pray thee, show me you absent garment

Would that you’d come unto me O maiden!

Set me afire in finger doses

Do me until I’m undone

Expend till I lay spent

Would that you’d lower heaving chest to parched lips waiting

For as long as staff guides weary feet,

Loyal I am to thy watering hole

This bittersweet agony

This unending thirst…

If I may expire thence…O maiden,

Let it be in the cool of thy watering hole

Guide me to thine heart

Through the door between thy thighs…

And let at last my staff know peace.

Ilu sioni II

Water roughly splashed across his face roused him. It took his eyes several minutes to adjust because they were hurting and his head was also pounding. He was still in the same alley but now had the unwanted company of all five of his assailants. Their leader judging by his stance was an almost toothless heavyset man-ape, tattooed generously across the face with “ancient oyo” tribal marks. He looked more burnt than black. Even in his dazed state, Fido concluded death would be scared of the man.

          “E joo sa…” {Sorry, sir…} Fido started to say.

          “Nomuba wan, mo hate ki eeyan ma pe mi ni sa” {Number one, I hate people who address me as sir} The man said.

          Unconsciously, Fido looked around for hidden speakers. The man’s voice seemed to be that of many speakers tuned to bass mode, combined. He couldn’t tell if it was because his brains were scrambled at the moment or if it were really so.

          The man continued.

          “Awon alabosi lo ma n lo sa fun ra won, nitori na ti o ba feran emi e, ma pe mi be” {only hypocrites address themselves as sir, so if you value your life, stop addressing me as such”.

Fido didn’t really understand the man’s reasoning and really couldn’t argue, so he nodded his agreement furiously with every word the man uttered. Every single word.

          “Nomuba tu, mi o feran ebe, jo ma be mi” {I hate apologies, please stop begging me}

          Fido noticed the man had ironically begged him but he was too busy nodding to dwell on the thought. He wished the man could see that he was also nodding in his mind. Every part of his body including his ­… was synched to the same nodding activity.

          “Ki awa to de aiye la ti n payan. Ta ba tun ku gan, a si ma ma payan. Ninu oyun ni moti koko payan. Mo te kehinde mi fo lori danu ni! S’ori oye kin pa e ni, nitori o ti gbe mi sare, sugbon awe wa loni, nitori na, ma saanu fun e” {I started killing before I came to this world and I will continue in the afterlife. The first person I killed was my twin in the womb. I stomped him to death! You see, I should kill you because you made me run but I’m in the middle of a fast so I’ll show you mercy}

          Fido was sure the world was grateful there was only one of the man. Two of him would have been an apocalypse. That moment, the man smiled at him with his countable teeth as if he’d just awarded him a prize and calmly shot him in the kneecaps of both legs.

          The shriek that emanated from Fido was nothing like the familiar type that came when his grandma used to thrash him all those years. This was far worse and alien. He started feeling in all parts of his body at the same time. It made him realize how dead the body was to feeling without pain and he prayed to die just then. A scuffling sound introduced another presence in the alley and the five men tensed, alert. They relaxed when the person turned out to be familiar.

          Fido heard the newcomer say “ohun ko, ohun ko” {it’s not him, it’s not him} just as night came during day for him again the second time that day and the third time in his life.


          He awoke to a smell which informed him it must either be heaven or a hospital and he prayed it was the latter. It was, and he sighed in relief. His face was bandaged and felt heavier. He struggled to move it to view his legs. They were still there but now were presently held apart by some tube-like cords. He heard footsteps outside his door and closed his eyes as fast as he could manage. He wasn’t ready to see anyone in this state.

          Two people had come into the room and were talking about him. The male voice had a certain serene authority and probably belonged to the doctor while the other voice was the agitated yapping of his grandma.

          The doctor was saying… “…ko si nkan ti a le se, a ma lati ge ese mejeji kuro ni. Infection yen ti spread ju” {…there’s nothing else to be done, we have to amputate both legs. The infection has spread extremely}

          The words caused Fido to open his eyes but he never saw anything before night came again.


          Most of the times he awoke he didn’t know if he was still alive or dead, existent or non-existent. He had so many dreams he didn’t remember. They seemed to making fun of him. He lost all track of reality or what was real or not.

          But the time he woke to find his legs gone, he knew it was real. The tears came and came and never seemed to stop. He thought of football, “Obesere fc”, “Agege bread” and “Ewa agoyin”, he thought about “Garri” and the bees and inwardly cursed the five men for taking all that and more away from him forever. The thing that saddened him the most was the fact that they had picked the wrong person. He’d not been whoever they’d been sent to kill. Night came again for him.


          The next time he woke he was free of the facial bandages and the heaviness. He wanted to look downwards but didn’t. Not because he couldn’t move his head but because he knew it was a bad idea. What was there to look at but misery?


          The sun rays shining through the window blinds interrupted his dream and he woke. He felt sorry for waking. The sleep had been an enjoyable one. He caught a big yawn and stretched, his joints making all the usual agreeable pops. He swung his feet over the bed and got up to adjust the window blinds that had rudely interfered with his syrupy sleep. He got back on the bed when the room was well shrouded in the veil of darkness once again and proceeded to recapture his sleep.

          He curled his legs to his stomach to achieve the fetal position he found so pleasing when sleeping and that was the moment it hit him. He’d just walked! He sprung from the cherished sleeping position like a “magun” possessed acrobat and checked his legs. They were back! His legs! Real, fine legs! Fine, real legs! And they belonged to him. He jumped down from the bed and ran out of the room into the hospital’s waiting room which was full of patients, nurses and a handful of doctors.

          “Mo le rin! Mo le rin! Ese mi wu pada! Ese mi wu pada!” {I can walk! I can walk! My legs grew back! My legs grew back!” he shouted as loud as he could.

          Then he stopped shouting when he realized the whole room was silent. The people in the room were looking at him with different expressions. The silence didn’t really bother him. It was the worried looks from majority of the people that unsettled him. A few of the female nurses were chuckling secretly while the available male ones looked ready to spring on him.

          The closest doctor approached him and whispered to him.

          “Beeni, kosi tun tun ninu iyen, ti ese ba ge, a wu pada. Apa, ese, gbogbo re lo ma n wu pada. Se o gbagbe ni? so da e loju pe ori re wa ti jina?” {Of course, there’s nothing new in that, if a leg is amputated, it grows back. Arms, legs, they all grow back. Did you forget? Are you sure your head has fully healed?}

          …and then Fido remembered. It was true, legs and arms did grow back. What had he being thinking? Embarrassed, he turned to the doctor and meekly nodded.


P.S - What if the real world is an illusion and our dreams were real? What if we could make things happen by dreaming hard enough? What if? Don’t blame me, I’m a Joseph person…just trying to use a little imagination here. Thanks for reading.


Monday, 20 August 2012

Ilu Sioni I

…Fido raced on like a mad dog out of hell. it was one of those adrenalin controlled moments in ones’ life when the brain and its’ reasoning capabilities suddenly go on vacation or take a back seat and let reflex drive. there were four…no, five hefty guys on at his back and they were not about to ask for his autograph. He was no star, at least not today, maybe tomorrow. Sneaking a quick look back through his peripheral vision, he corrected his earlier judgment that the guys behind him were hefty. In all fairness, ‘immense’ was the correct word to adequately describe them. They were like moving houses; the kinds nobody could build where he lived.

Suddenly, night descended upon the afternoon. At first, he thought it was an eclipse and then he realized it was still day time behind him. It was no eclipse, it was the goalkeeper blocking his way, obstructing the sun and determined to keep him from scoring.

The game had been going on goal-less for 119:48 minutes though to him it seemed like forever. It was the final game of the Borogiri Youth’s Football Championship and his team; the 50 kobo cubs had never reached this stage, ever. He was the tallest player in his team at 5ft, 7inches and stood shorter by a good two inches than the opposing side’s (Kila People’s United) shortest player; the goalkeeper, nicknamed goliath who was currently bent on either catching him, the ball or both.

Although blinded, his sprint was still on autopilot and sight impediment could do nothing to disturb the final phase of his flight. He suddenly found himself flying over the ‘Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Juggernaut’ combined goalkeeper with the ball in between his ankles and straight into the finish line underneath the goal post. A shrill whistle went off the instant the ball crossed the line and his brain chose to kick-start at that same exact moment, it seemed. Sounds of “goooooaaaallllll” rang out and seemed unending. Seconds later, the final whistle sounded and he became a star overnight.


Fido had no parents and wasn’t sure the grandma he lived with was even his. They only talked when she nagged. Not that he talked back, he didn’t dare. All he could manage were mind retorts. His warmest memory of her was when she once caught him stealing meat as a teenager at midnight and pitifully shook her grey head and went to sleep. She probably had been too tired that night to have gifted him the usual ‘beating of your life’ she seemed to have in excess. He would forever treasure that singular moment of warmth. That had also been his first experience of a miracle. In his life, that was a really scarce commodity. Thoughts of miracles nudged him to the present as he reflected on the championship win two days earlier.

Yes, that was his second experience of a miracle. Scoring that goal, lifting the trophy, getting all the smiles and important handshakes, that was a miracle. He had even been approached by a football scout for the biggest club from the city; Obesere FC, and he, Fido, from the gps-less village of Bogobiri, had signed preliminary papers guaranteeing a month’s paid trial at the club on the spot. The second miracle of his life had forever transformed it.

Though, he had very minimal possessions, he knew that would soon be history. He promised to visit the popular Yakoyo restaurant and treat himself to N120 Agege bread and N150 Ewa Agoyin the day he got his first pay.

He had no girlfriend and had almost abandoned hope of having one. The girls he liked just didn’t like him and the ones that liked him scared him so he’d just decided it was best to be single than dead. But, that was soon to change, he was sure of it. He had a certain philosophy about life. A man’s Life was like Garri. The price of Garri could change overnight but the Garri itself remained Garri. The price of Garri had changed for him, forever he hoped. He had found honey and now the bees would come, surely.

He loved football especially when he was playing it. He cherished the game. Today, he cherished it more. School had started and ended for him on the streets. He’d graduated from hawking vegetables and finally advanced to class VII; apprenticeship at a roadside mechanic shop. Football was the one thing he did well and loved doing. Ironically, his legs were the most treasured part of his body.


Five guys were chasing after him, again. However, this time, it wasn’t on a football pitch. These guys wanted another kind of ball from him it seemed; the one beating in the left part of his breast. Some (3 of them) of them had guns and were shooting! His autopilot wasn’t doing him much good because his assailants were closing in on him, fast.

It was afternoon but it could as well have been midnight, for the whole neighbour-hood was deserted and stayed silent as sin. The gunshots were responsible, no doubt.

One of the goons, the closest to him dived in a bid to tackle him to the ground but Fido had anticipated it and he swerved suddenly without breaking his run. He negotiated the next turn between two buildings and found himself in a dark alley. He kept running even though he could hardly see and realized too late that the blurred shape before him was a wall painted badly just as he ran headlong into it. Night came during day for him the second time in his existence. (To be continued)

Monday, 28 May 2012


My mind’s been pilfered
Whom shall I tell?
These thoughts are not mine
Shall I scream?
Alien memories in my head
So terrible; this invasion…
Shall I yell?
Foreign words on my tongue
Whose dream do I dream?
Betrayed, used, abused
Vulnerable, SELF-HATING

How do I reclaim my mind?
I forget what brand it is…
If these thoughts are not mine
Then, this is not me
Where am i?
Have I lost my mind?
No…no, it’s been stolen
Sucked easy away as pollen
Vulgar images stroke this mind’s eye
It’s not the right fit; this mind
Too loose a mind it is
Shall I lose it?
Yet, if I do…
What mind shall I mind with?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Figure me

    Half of me sounds like ‘blackmail’
       The other half is what I am
       I’m not Santa;
       But, I’m good in that sense
       I’m not Jesus come again;
       But, daresay we share a thing or two
       I’m not all ‘Parker’, ‘potter’, or ‘kent’;
       Though, I’ve been where they went
       Yes, I’ve wept;
       And yes, like them
       What am i?
Of course, more than the letter after   ‘h’
I know what I’m not
So, believe when I say;
I’m the good news;
The world can’t yet comprehend.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Nut poetry

       This mind, don’t mind, I mind
          This mind, mine, I mine
          This mine, mine to mine
          This mine, rhymes, in it I mine
These rhymes I mine, I mime
          These rhymes rhyme, I smile
I smile at rhymes mine
          Mined from mines mine
          Mimed to rhyme rhymes
          Rhymed to mine smiles
          This mind, mine, mines
          This mind, mine, mimes

          This mind mine,
          Here, mind mines
          This mind’s mine
          This mime’s mine
          So is this rhyme
          All that’s mined from this mind is mine

          This mind smiles…
          The smile?
          Of course, mine…


Religion; opium or sedative?


“Man was born free and he is everywhere in chains…” – Jean Jacques Rousseau (1762)[1]

                The maxim above reads deliciously on paper and rolls even better on the tongue. A cursory glance at it might make one discard it as a possible oxymoron to be left for thinkers to demystify or simplify. However, a closer inspection reveals nothing hidden or cryptic about the message of the quote.
                What it simply states is that, despite the free will of man, man is still bound by the will of secondary agents/institutions outside his will. To elaborate further, let us chart the fictional history of man from inception till death.
                From birth a baby has no choice over what it eats, what it is called, what family it is born into or what things he/she is taught. As his/her power of will increases, society’s binds continue to undermine total free will in a myriad of patterns which take civil, political, social, religious etc  forms. For example, a church priest would frown at and castigate an adherent visiting an Ifa shrine even though the person in question is supposedly free.
                This brings to the fore the concept of reality and perspective. A person born into a Muslim home and that has been well-grounded in Islamic knowledge sees truth and reality often from an Islamic perspective. His world view is Islamic and because of the intolerance that he has been taught for other world religions, he dismisses other avenues or perspectives which in his judgment cannot be true. While his perspective or reality as the case may be is true, it is not in all fairness, objective. To buttress this analogy, examine the case of two belligerents; a community and a minority terrorist cell within the same community. The community as a whole represent humane values; good, truth and sanctity of life while the terrorist cell represent evil incarnated. However, alienate ethics or morality and dissect the metamorphosis of members of the cell and you discover it is not totally their will even when they themselves argue so. Their will has been steadily molded to fit that exact reality in a perpetual process of indoctrination since childhood just like those in the community. If the reverse was the case and members of the community were schooled like those of terrorist cell, it is not unlikely we would still arrive at the same scenario.
Consider these statements; (1) all existing religions and faiths accept that there is ONE                                                                                                               “supreme” Creator (Including polytheistic faiths).
                       (2) All humans are of this ONE “supreme” Creator.
                                                                    (3) Taking another’s life is considered sinful in all faiths.[2]
And so we wonder why adherents of a faith kill each other or kill those of different faiths in the name of the Creator, why there was need for pogroms, jihads or the crusades. Even, if they had sinned against their Creator and deserved to die, was he so powerless and defenseless that he needed human avengers? This was the same creator said to have single-handedly destroyed countless numbers of sinful men in the holy books.[3] How then did he end up needing protectors?
                Theorists have pinpointed the variations in religious ideology as the causative factors for the irreconcilable divide in perspective but this raises further questions like; should religious adherents make mortal enemies of their fellow men in their bid to follow dogmas at the expense of achieving oneness with the Creator and how really dissimilar are the numerous world faiths?
                A zealot would readily step out and reel off a list of differences between the Hindu/Buddhist faith to the Christian and the Jewish to the Islamic as long as or probably longer than the River Nile. Fortunately however, we have documented history to thank for bringing startling facts close to home. These facts chart a yet to be disproved chronology, analogy and history of religion which suggests succinctly that all religions evolved and metamorphosed one into the other. Or how does one explain the recurrence of the ‘afterlife’ in all these faiths albeit with variations? How do we explain the fact that the pig is considered unfit for eating by Jews and Muslims alike or that Hindus also practice ablution before some prayers? How also do we explain the recurrence of sacred sites and pilgrimages in all faiths?[4]
                This debacle or imbroglio calls to mind an ancient anecdote about a group of blind men and an elephant. All were trying to determine what the elephant was by touching a part of it and they ended up disagreeing over their results.[5] Now, it is widely accepted that no one man can fully grasp the understanding of the Creator. If so, let us imagine that the elephant is the Creator and the blind men, humankind. Have we not solved the debacle?
                This same anecdote has manifested in several ways than one, from Buddhist traditions, to folktales, to stories and poems. At the end of one of such Buddhist traditions, ‘The Buddha’ likens the blind men to preachers and scholars who are so blind and ignorant that they discredit the view of others.  ‘The Buddha’ uses the following poem to drive the point home:
                                                                O how they wrangle and cling, some who claim
                                                                For preacher and monk the honored name!
                                                                For, quarreling, each to his view they cling
                                                                Such folk only see one side of a thing.[6]
                Mathew 15:14 also continues in the same stream;
                                                                Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind
                                                                And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch[7]
                It is no secret that religion has always been a malleable tool for political ends. A simple analysis of the pogroms, jihads and crusades will reveal this unsavory fact and it is no news that some strains of terrorism strive on religion. But shouldn’t we ask ourselves if we must continue to repeat history rather than learn from it? Should religion continue to be our opium? Is oneness with God our reason for being religious? Shouldn’t we cross-check what we are being taught? And how supreme can anyone’s knowledge of the Creator be?
                Jean Jacque Rousseau author of the famed ‘Social Contract’ and the quote at the beginning of this treatise believed that ‘in so far as they led people to virtue, all religions are equally worthy’.[8] Castes, the act of proselytization and a dogmatic process of indoctrination have made the monotheistic religions more helpless than helpful in creating a peaceful world. On the contrary, the henotheistic, polytheistic, and pantheistic faiths seem to have an enduring tolerance of other faiths, perspectives, and realities which monotheistic religions really should adopt if global peace is to be attained. The onus thereupon falls not only on teachers/preachers etc but also on followers to seek truth and upon finding it, practice it. Sir Ramakrishna (1836-1886) a religious teacher said thus;
                                “Lovers of God do not belong to any caste… A Brahmin (teacher)
                                without this love is no longer a Brahmin. And a pariah (outcast)
                                with the love of God is no longer a pariah. Through bhakti
                                (devotion to God) an untouchable becomes pure and elevated”[9]

                It is no wonder then that men like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr were so similar despite being so far apart. They led remarkable lives and epitomized these principles, the same principles that Jesus Christ taught some millennia ago.                 Prophet Muhammad was also quoted to have said “seek knowledge even as far as China’ using China then to emphasize how far one must go in search of knowledge. This same quote has been discredited by some scholars who have labeled it weak.[10] This only serves to corroborate the view that man is constantly at war with his beliefs for even though each faith has one holy book, sects keeping appearing by the minute. So, we should ask ourselves ‘why have so many “religious” parties if the ideology is the same? To borrow the famous singer Asa’s question from her song “Questions”[11], why is there so much religion yet there’s so little love?
Nevertheless, that we are in chains is hardly in doubt but how far we remain in them is perhaps the only choice we have. Whether it is Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, Iovis ,Tiu/Ziu, Vishnu, or the big bang, the fact remains that we (excluding atheists) all believe in an unexplainable higher power. So if at the end, one goes to nirvana, moksha, al-jannah, loka, Shangri-la or paradise it would still have served the same purpose, a connection with one’s reality of the Creator just like each of the blind men. Religious bigotry i.e. believing one’s religion is the only acceptable reality is in essence giving the Creator a back-seat in the judgment of man.
                Invariably, religious bigotry is as baseless as racism. Therefore, mutual respect and tolerance is needed for us to co-exist peacefully and harmoniously on earth for religion might just be the machine to trigger the world’s first and only omnicide.


[3]  The Quran, Hud 11:116-118
[7]  New King James Bible, Matt. 15:14
[11] Bukola Elemide; Beautiful Imperfection, Questions.