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Stories by Hillel Gilboa
Mokola's Instance Justice
That scream I shall never forget. Olehhhh … a woman shouts, Ollleehhhhhh, Olehhhh. Wow!! I didn’t know the meaning but I knew this is really bad.
I saw Olabode's reaction and I knew this is not just bad, this is terrible. I asked Olabode, the driver, what is going on here. Olabode says – first let's get out of this Mokola area. So, we drove as fast as impossible until we got to Bodija.
Few days later Olabode tells me what happened and I tell you what he told me.
He says - every community have certain rules. In this Ibadan there is a traditional justice system with a procedure called "Instant Justice".
One such a case that require Instant Justice is when a thief is caught in the market, and particularly in Mokola Market in Ibadan.
The procedure begins when a Market Woman start shouting - Oleh!! Oleh!! Oleh!! (Thief in Yoruba). The entire market starts boiling. No one knows what happened and who stole what, or if anything was stolen, but all are terrified of the outcome. These screams are bloodcurdling since all knows that very soon blood will be spilled here and no one wants that it shall be his blood.
All knows it shall end with Instant Justice which, many times, is just a simple act of burning someone with a used tire. No one really know if that person, on the fire in the tire, stole anything or if he is the one that the Market Woman refers to at the beginning. Justice must prevail and instantly.
It might jolt those ignorant with this Instant Justice system, especially if they come from places where the justice system cooked their customers for years about different cases. It is even more mind blowing when every woman and man are aware that the living torch is not necessarily the actual thief or that anything was stolen, for that matter.
The case is very simple, a market woman screams Oleh! Oleh! and it shall end with fire.
That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years, or at least that what the Market Women in Mokola believe.
Olabode explains - usually, there are some kinds of pauses because all women and men need to know what is the screamer's status. If the screamer is heavily respected, then the rest of the market women will join her without any hesitation, and that's mean that without a doubt that a thief will be burnt, no matter what, even if nothing was stolen.
That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years, or at least that what the Market Women in Mokola believe.
Before anyone can tell who is what or how, there is a hunting team, chasing after a poor young boy. I am willing to bet with you, that this poor boy has no clue of why they are after him, nevertheless, he knows well what would be his fate if he is caught.
That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years, or at least that what the Market Women in Mokolaa believe.
Now, Bolade tells me, this boy was agile, fast and smart enough and after few corners of the narrow alleys around Gbadebo Street, the hunters lost him.
In a short time, the hunters' team have a leader and he is Judge Adebamgbe, a self-appointment. Of course, Judge Adebamgbe is not a judge and was never at the vicinity of any court. He is not familiar with any law except the laws of Mokola Market, and call himself "judge" because he likes it.
Whenever the Oleh scream sounds, he is the first to start a chase and anyone who knows Adebamgbe say that Adebamgbe can't afford losing a thief. It is not an option. For one it's a total disrespect for the Madam in the Market, the one who started the Oleh scream. Second it is an embarrassment for Judge Adebamgbe, a small petty market trader.
But no matter how respected Judge Adebamgbe is in Mokola Market, the boy has disappeared around Gbadebo Street, and that can be a big embarrassment. Adebamgbe looked at all directions angry and frustrated. No way Judge Adebamgbe return empty handed.
Suddenly, the Judge saw a goat, right at the corner where the agile boy turned and disappeared. According to Adebamgbe, the goat behaved somehow suspicious. The Judge instantly knew what is going on and shouted - this is him! pointing at the goat.
The Judge said proudly - he can't fool me. It was true and they all knew Adebamgbe. No one can fool Adebamgbe. At least this is what he is telling all those that are willing to listen.
Judge Adebamgbe arrested the goat and took the goat to the Mokola Market center. In front of the crowd, he challenged the goat - you are the thief and you did JUJU to become a goat, you think you can fool me, ha?! - I am Judge Adebamgbe.
So, the Judge brings the goat to the screaming Madam in Mokola Market for identification. After all, no one would like to punish innocent boy, just like that; only if he is the thief without any doubt.
That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years, or at least that what the Market Women in Mokola believe.
So, after the heavily respected Madam in Mokola Market listen to Judge Adebamgbe telling her how the thief, using JUJU, became a goat to avoid justice, the Market Woman inspects the goat and manage to identify the goat as the thief. The Market Woman said - now I am very sure that the goat is the thief, they have the same eyes and same smell! she said with confidence.
At this point Judge Adebamgbe arrange a trial at the Mokola Market center, in front of the crowd. The Judge scolded the goat and demanded that the goat will admit he is the thief that became a goat by JUJU. The goat was definitely in a shock just by the presence of Adebamgbe, but at a certain point the goat bleated – mmmeeeeehhh! and that was enough for Judge Adebamgbe to announce that the goat confessed that he is the thief.
Anyone who knows Adebamgbe say that Adebamgbe can't afford losing a thief.
Someone from the crowd brings a used tire and give to Judge Adebamgbe. The judge took the tire, placed the goat inside the tire and set the tire on fire. They call it Instant Justice.
This is terrible – I tell Olabode, and he says – The moment we are born we get the death penalty. This is life.
Think about it.
And that is the end of the story, except that a week later, my driver Olabode tells me, that the goat's owner looked for his goat and asked few people around Mokola until someone told him about Judge Adebamgbe. He caught Judge Adebamgbe, brought him to the market center, put a used tire on him and lit the fire.
They call it Instant Justice.
By the way and no connection –
I once read in a newspaper about Judge Foolman sitting as a judge in a terrible case. Three criminals brutally raped a young girl. Judge Foolman said that they behaved like animals. Judge Foolman don’t know that animals don't behave like these people. Someone should inform Judge Foolman.
Adedeji says that new technologies are the most critical to understand development processes in the civilization. All other elements, such as social, economy, politics, military and other merely follow the new technology.
For example, he brings the development of the printing machine, electricity, engines and as of more recently the "smart phone" or more precisely the mini-computer.
This is true in Nigeria as well as any other place, Adedeji says.
Back then, the residents of Nigeria had no way to know what is going on around and beyond unless via shortwave transistors. One could get music, news, sports and general be informed about Nigeria and the world.
Now such a transistor is a small box that worked with batteries and inside this magical box there many wires and items and the residents could get radio stations from places all over the world.
Unfortunately, in Nigeria, the shortwave transistors had many interferences to the degree that it was impossible to hear the radio stations such as the BBC or just music, the interferences and bustle was too much.
Adedeji brought me a Nigerian newspaper dealing with the latest developments of technologies and science.
He points to the article in the newspaper that describes the wonderful and important development of a noiseless radio developed by one Amandi Iboro, entrepreneur from South East Nigeria. Such an invention was extremely important for the citizens of Nigeria since the shortwave's transistors are the only way for them to know what is going in and around.
That newspaper article dealt with music and radio. For example, they ask if there is relationship between noisy music and youngsters vs. quiet music and elders. And if there are such relationship, then what are they. Fantastic question.
Another article asks if we are genetically programmed to like or dislike a certain music. The article goes deep and mentions that – of course we have preferences accumulated during childhood, following our culture and experiences, but there must be something else.
The article claims that certainly there are sounds or music that no resident of earth like to hear. Clearly, it must be easy to play a piece of "music" that shall be rejected by all or almost all. Look how we react to snake hissing, with fear.
So, regardless of each person background there is some basic common taste. If we all dislike a certain music or sounds, then we must also share the liking of certain music. But how can we prove it? They ask.
Then they suggest a test where few residents with similar background will hear 5 unfamiliar bad pieces of music for few times with one piece exceptionally popular. The article assume that all will pick the popular music as their choice and the article ask, why? Is it genetic? Maybe it relates to our survival instinct in nature? After all, there are natural sounds we like and sounds we don't like.
Anyway, this is to show that we are dealing with a serious newspaper for intelligent people. Adedeji says - The more intelligent you are the more curious you shall be.
The main article that morning, that Adedeji drew my attention to, is about Amandi Iboro's invention. The article describes how after a long research Amandi Iboro finally succeeded in developing an advanced technology far overtaking the technology of the peeled people from Europe.
The article explains how wonderful it shall be for the residents of Nigeria if they can get a noiseless radio without all the interferences and noise. This article became a noisy news.
According to the article, Amandi Iboro explained to the reporter how he developed the noiseless radio fundamentally from fruits and vegetables such as purple onions and cassava tubes.
The reporter is then asking Amandi Iboro to demonstrate how the radio works without noise. Amandi Iboro ask the reporter if there is a specific station he would prefer and the reporter suggest the BBC.
Amandi Iboro say – look Oga, for now it is not possible to receive any radio station; but, if you insist on the BBC, try to add banana and small piece of coconut. Especially coconut!
Think about it
The Kainji Dam
I love Nigeria, especially the Nigerian people, and particularly where I lived more than 20 years, which is south of the river. That is the Niger River and its sister the Benue River. They are beautiful, good people that love other people. If you don't understand them, there will be eventually, misunderstandings. That is how the system works and that is how the Europeans misunderstand the Africans in general and the Nigerians in particular.
Nigeria situated in West Africa and has an estimated 200 million people, the most populated country in Africa. No one really knows how many people live in Nigeria, and obviously, no one knows how many die in Nigeria, let alone the causes of death. No one, except of course few international organizations that provides questionable data.
What we do know is that about 50% of the Nigerans are Muslims, 50% are Christians and 90% are in different types of paganism, to be on the safe side. There are hundreds of ethnic groups of people, which speak around 300 different languages, but most are manage to speak a “broken” English, called Pidgin English, which is a communication system based on English, hands gestures and different meaningful vocal sounds.
Nigeria is divided into 36 states and one territory around Abuja, the Capital of Nigeria. The current Nigerian borders were drawn by European during the Berlin Conference in 1884 when the Nigerian land was given to the British by the other European rulers. The borders were determined without any consideration to or understanding of the people who lived in this area, and who cares about them anyway.
The Niger River is the third largest river in Africa and 13th in the world. The Niger is a major source of life in Nigeria. The Kainji Dam is a big dam that Italians built over the Niger River, in Niger State, Nigeria. The dam has created a lake of 135 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide. The residents around are happy with this lake that the Italians created, which supports irrigation, agriculture, fishing and very important, astonishingly, produce electricity.
When we were there, something was wrong. A young and well educated Nupe guy by the name Balukuku, meaning "the pigeons guard" was our escort. The Nupe (traditionally called the Nupawa by the Hausas and Tapa by the neighboring Yoruba) are an ethnic group, or about 5 million Muslims, native to the Middle Belt of Nigeria, and are the dominant ethnicity in Niger State, one of the 36 states of Nigeria.
Balukuku tells us the following story and it is interesting story, quite all right, even if it is not a true story, and he make a long story a bit longer. The Kainji Dam is located in Niger State, where the Nupe People are dominant, but other people live around the lake such as the Lopa, Tsikimba, Tsishingini, Tsuvadi and Cishingini and all enjoy the lake built by the Italians.
Anyway, Balukuku tells us this story, that I now tell you as Balukuku told me. He says that Italians built this Kainji Dam some years ago and later managed its operation for few years. The Nigerian government preferred the Italians design, build and later operate the Kainji Dam since they believed that without the Italians management there might not be electricity and the main purpose of the dam is to produce electricity.
The most senior Nigerian manager was Eng. Idogbo, a very good Yoruba engineer from Ibadan, working with the Italians in the past 6 years. Eng. Idogbo wanders around the site as the Chief of the Dam, planning how to take over the Dam Management.
According to Balukuku, Eng. Idogbo is a Nigerian patriot and his ambition is to manage this dam is quite reasonable. Eng. Idogbo holds the idea that the Italians are not required for the operation of the dam anymore, when he, as a Nigerian engineer, is capable and even better. What, Eng. Idogbo is asking, are the Italians the only people that can manage it successfully?
Balukuku agree that in fact, not only the Italians can manage the dam successfully, but he is fully convinced that Eng. Idogbo is grossly incapable of managing this dam, or any dam, or anything and I trust Balukuku. Mr. Balukuku himself is a Mechanical Engineer, with impressive communication capabilities. He is 1.8 meters tall and can communicate successfully with a wide range of people around the Kainji Lake and even with Yoruba people. He speaks excellent English and when he wants to say something he carefully articulates. He suspects that Eng. Idogbo is cooking something with the Honorable Minister of Power, sitting in Abuja.
On the other side, Balukuku is a Nupe and that might make some people think that he likes to complain, because some people think the Nupe people like to complain as a matter of a popular hobby, especially when they have nothing else to do. In fact, one of my friends tells me, that they are trying to complain on every possible element, such as the weather, the car condition, the problems they have with their wives, that they don't have enough money, and especially that they don't have enough money.
So, it is not easy to make judgement. I tell my friend that I personally know some Nupe people that always complain that they don't have enough money, just like everyone on earth, including Eng. Idogbo.
Balukuku said that Eng. Idogbo approached the Honorable Minister of Power, also a Yoruba from Ibadan, and they speak between them Yoruba. As a matter of habit and tradition, the Yoruba people speak Yoruba between them.
Anyway, Eng. Idogbo tried to persuade the Honorable Minister to come over to the dam by himself to see the situation. In such a visit, Eng. Idogbo will demonstrate to the minister his professional capabilities and show the Honorable Minister that, anything the Italians can do, he can do better. Anyway, that he Idogbo is the one that does all the work.
Eng. Idogbo tells the Honorable Minister how he has mastered the entire control panels, almost the same as the Honorable Minister's secretary control the typewriter; blindly and easily. And so, after some nudges here and there, the Honorable Minister decides to personally undertake a visit to the dam.
The Honorable Minister's visit is a huge event of biblical proportions. Eng. Idogbo and the Honorable Minister's team invite the area dignitaries, traditional rulers and chiefs to receive the Honorable Minister upon his arrival. Thousands of locals, gather around the premises to watch the rare event. The area where the ceremony is to be held is a dusty land and, on the side, a big tent was erected. The tent's floor covered with carpets giving the place a flavor and aura of king's palace.
On the tent's sides there are big fans, since this area is very hot and humid. Big speaker playing music at deafening volume. The ceremony is impressive and includes dancers, drums, and bands playing traditional local songs.
All are already waiting more than three hours for the Honorable Minister’s arrival. Most Ministers ensure that as many as possible people shall wait for him and they should wait as much time as reasonable. The more they wait the more important is the honorable minister is seen to be. That is the system.
As the Honorable Minister's entourage is approaching, clouds of dust welcome the entourage. The crowd is excited. The honorable minster's entourage consists of 74 vehicles, most colored black with tinted glass, and if anyone will bother checking, they might find out that in those vehicles there is only a driver and even that is doubtful. The reason for the entourage size is simply related to position of the honorable minister.
A federal minister, such as the honorable minister of power, can't allow himself to arrive at a ceremony with 3 vehicles, which is what the honorable minister really need. Coming with only few vehicles would be regarded as an insult to the honorable minister. If this explanation is not enough for you, to establish the rationale behind such a long entourage, then read this. A week earlier, the federal minister of works arrived on a visit to Ilorin with 72 vehicles and such a long entourage put the number of vehicles required for the visit of the honorable minister of power at no less than 73. So, once we are aware of the limitations that the honorable ministers have to deal with, we begin to appreciate the modesty involved with such a short entourage of 74 vehicles only.
Everybody, around and above, north and south, clearly understand that the honorable minister of power is not in a position to allow himself an entourage shorter than the minister of works, bear in mind that the minister of works is Hausa visiting Yoruba town. There is no question here.
Now, in front of the entourage there are 6 noisy motorbikes and behind at the entourage end there is a vehicle with soldiers and chakalaka that provide the necessary ambiance, which is to terrify the entire population of this area.
Clearly, Eng. Idogbo is fully excited from the unfolding event and the huge honor bestowed on him with the attention he is receiving. The dignitaries, together with Eng. Idogbo, are all gathered around the Honorable Minister's car greeting him with long bows as a sign of respect. Eng. Idogbo himself is actually prostrating on the ground vocalizing generously welcome statements, telling the Honorable Minister how happy is he to see him.
Out of the noise, the hustle and bustle and the dust, comes a group of about 50 dignitaries and chiefs with Eng. Idogbo leading the gang toward the Control Rooms. No Italians are to be seen. Idogbo updated them on the event and explained to them that the nature of the event is a Nigerian political matter and there is nothing more resentful to Italians than be involved somehow in Nigerian politics or in Italian politics for that matter.
Idogbo is no doubt XXXL size and he leads the honorable minister and associates with full confidence, moving his hands up and down left and right, since there is a meaning of itself to the hand movements. The show must be perfect. He must successfully utilize this "once in a life time" opportunity. This is a life changing crack. If he will manage to manipulate the honorable minister, he shall possess immense power. Someone in the class of Idogbo, sitting on the chair of electricity “ruler”, be in charge for allotting the electricity to different areas of the country based on his educated judgement, this is a biblical dream.
At this point, there is not enough electricity produced in Nigeria to meet the demand. The supply of electricity is so low that Nigeria is probably one of the world leading importers for generators.
Some areas get 2 hours electricity, others might get 4 hours and yet others might not get at all. Now, the one who decides which area gets power and how many hours every day, shall face no argument whatsoever until he is removed from that post. Such a power provides enormous respect from citizen all over and all will be greeting him with very deep long bows and some may kiss his shoes as a matter of a total respect. Most shall laugh loudly from the driest joke that the chief electricity officer might say.
Reps from villages, towns and corporations make sure the chief electricity officer, which Eng. Idogbo dreams of being, shall be the happiest person on earth, so he shall provide them with electrical power. He shall be gifted plenty Naira and Dollars and make friends. Representatives from the different areas and villages will make sure that he will be very-very happy and that in return he will provide them with electricity, on account of the other villages, of course.
Accordingly, the representative come up with creative marketing moves. Sometime they send him one or two goats, with corn and casava tubers, some pineapples and mango. If it doesn't work, they might send him a young beauty that will persuade him to provide power, no matter how, since tomorrow there is important event.
You got the idea.
Idogbo is very well aware of this traditional system and that is why he is so anxious to see the Italians go back to Italy.
All these thoughts are moving across Idogbo's mind once he is leading the honorable minister with the chiefs toward the Kainji Dam's Control Room. He knows this is his chance for glory and he must show how good he can be in mastering the control panels blindly and easily, exactly as the Honorable Minster's secretary tap the keys on the typewriter. Nothing less, so the Honorable Minister shall not doubt his capability to control the Kainji Dam's panels.
The moment has arrived. Eng. Idogbo approaches the control panels with extra showoff with his eyes on the honorable minister and his fingers push buttons here and there off and on as he brags with his engineering art. He describes to the Honorable Minister about the different buttons and lights. He speaks up and down, left and right and makes sure no one will understand what he is saying. The honorable minster shakes his head in different directions as a signal to the others that he is listening, which is a rare phenomenon, since the honorable minister doesn't tend to listen to citizens, especially around the Kainji Lake.
The Honorable Minister looks around wondering if other associates are impressed with Idogbo's capabilities pressing buttons here and there when a sharp beep sounds and thereafter horrible bang and then an earthquake. Everything is shaking up and down.
The dignitaries flee, terrified, chiefs fall down and panic everywhere. The chiefs pray to different gods with their last wishes. The minister's bodyguards pulling out guns and pistols ready to shoot.
Coincidently, Idogbo had opened the dam's gates with the emergency click. Huge water wave washed whatever was in the path. 60 villages and small towns were submerged without trace and no one really knows how many good people with wives and children were buried in Idogbo's mud. Who counts anyway?!
Think about it.
Eng. Idogbo is telling the Honorable Minister that he has no doubts that the Italian displaced that button, Ah … Ah … these Italians.
And this is the end of the story, Balukuku tells me, except that few weeks later, after recovering from that horrific experience, the Honorable Minister decides to send the Italians back to Italy and he had two reasons.
One reason being Idogbo telling the Honorable Minister how the Italians installed the wrong buttons and the second reason is that these Italians came from Italy and it is only reasonable that they will prefer to go back to Italy.
The Honorable Minister knows very well that Idogbo's story about the wrong button is isokuso (nonsense in Yoruba) but, Idogbo promised the Honorable Minister that if he will send the Italians back to Italy, or to any other place for that matter, then Idogbo will make sure that the Honorable Minister's village will receive electricity every day for at least ten hours and the village chief will not have to send Idogbo two goats, some corns, pineapples and casava tubers, and in any case the village certainly will not have to send any beautiful girl to explain to Idogbo what is the importance of electricity to the village.
I miss Nigeria and particularly I miss the Nigerian people. More than twenty years I lived in Nigeria, with different people and different cultures in a mixed society. Part of me is definitely a Nigerian, from the different cultures, such as the Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Efik, Ijaw, Bini, Ibibio, Anang, Anyema, Baushi, Eket, Etong, Igala, Nupe, Oron and more. I am a mixture of them all with their rich diversity.
Ten years I lived in Ibadan. The capital city of the Yoruba people, considering Lagos as a multicultural city. There are 6 million Yoruba residents in Ibadan, but it looks more like a big village with rusty roofs, open drainage systems, open sewage systems and a system that spread the garbage around the city, allowing all to equally enjoy it.
There are some efforts in developing public infrastructures and one of the projects was a semi-circle modern cultural center or theater.
Now, this Schroder is a 61-years old project superintendent. He is accurate and discipline with German roots. He loves teaching and explaining his staff the construction techniques. Specifically, he likes Adewale, the foreman, since Adewale already have some knowledge in construction techniques.
That evening, Schroder tells me that he feels badly.
Why? - I ask him.
Well - Schroder says – This morning, the challenge was to construct a curved wall. The drawings show that the stairs are going up to the second floor along the curved external wall. So, they should build the internal wall curved, like a semi-circle, to enclose the space under the stairs for any wrong access.
Schroder said that he demonstrates to Adewale how to place the bricks with small twists such, that the wall will go with the stairs and close the space under it. Then - Schroder says – I went for my "Schlafstunde." Schroder always go for a break by 1pm.
Before Schroder goes for his Schlafstunde, he asks Adewale - who will he give this complicated job? Adewale suggest Babatunde, since he has good hands, on one hand, and since there is no one else on site, on the other hand. Schroder confirm the choice and disappears for his "Schlafstunde."
Schroder tells me - I returns from my "Schlafstunde" around 5pm and I am amazed with the high quality of the wall built by Babatunde. I was very pleased with the results – he says. He calls Adewale and praises him for a well-done job. Adewale too is proud. He knows Schroder will give him a nice bonus for a well-done job. Plus, a bonus for Babatunde, of course.
Schroder ask Adewale – and by the way, where is Babatunde?
Adewale hesitates – Mastaaaa … he says - we have a big problem, Masta.
Schroder – okey Adewale, what is the problem?
Adewale - You see Masta … Babatunde, he is trapped behind the wall, under the stairs. How can we get him out?
And that is the end of the story, except that few years later I am passing by the theater and decide to have a look. To my very big surprise, Babatunde is the person in charge of this site. It is good to see Babatunde getting such a promotion.
I ask Babatunde if he can arrange tickets for the next show.
Babatunde gently says - right now there are no tickets for at least the next 2 weeks ahead. Two minutes later he admits - there are no tickets at all.
The new governor decides to freeze the project. He doesn't want his predecessor to get credit for such a nice project.
Thus, in the meantime, for the past 3 years, Babatunde is using the site as a goat's pen and grow cassava around the parking lots.
Think about it.
The Writing System
Professor Ogunleye Shakale tells me that he teaches Aeronautics in the University of Ibadan. The reason of his intimating me has to do with the road to his house on the hill, over Salami Estate. Professor Ogunleye Shakale approached me with the idea that I could help him arrange for a layer of asphalt on the road, especially with the coming rainy season. Of course, I can't help with the asphalt, but we gradually become friends. He is a wonderful person, even if I have some doubts about his professor title.
He is well dressed with three-piece dark suite, and red handkerchief in the left pocket of his jacket. His English is perfect, thanks to his time in London and he tries hard, without success, to speak with a British accent. I wonder how Professor Ogunleye Shakale is creeping into my office when there is a clear instruction at the gate not to allow entrance for people without appointment, particularly professors from the University of Ibadan.
But here we are sitting in my office speaking about different issues, especially this and that, but also other issues, when Professor Ogunleye Shakale tells me that he has an appointment with the Honorable Minister of Transport next week and he wants me to join him at the meeting.
Professor Ogunleye Shakale tells me that the Honorable Minister asked for his advice regarding the situation of the Nigeria Airways and he would love me to accompany him at the meeting.
Coincidentally, I plan to be in Lagos next week, and out of curiosity I decide to go along with the Professor since meeting the Honorable Minister is a great honor anyway, at least until you meet him.
It is 9AM in the hot and sunny morning in Lagos. We are driving from Ikeja to Lagos Island. This morning it takes about four hours. Without the usual Go-slow, it should take about 20 minutes, but there is no Lagos without a Go-slow, which is simply a slow traffic or more precisely, a traffic jam.
Upon arrival at the Ministry of Transportation, it is already 1pm. The Professor introduce himself and me to the minister's secretary and she pleasantly show us the waiting room and advised - the honorable minister is coming any moment from now.
This is - I am telling myself - good news.
The day is as usual hot and humid. At the ministry's waiting room there are 6 air-conditioners. The secretary say that they are not working for the past 3 years. The floor is wet because Lagos is close to the equator and that's mean it is tropics, humid and sweaty. By 2pm the Professor is asking the secretary if she heard anything from the honorable minister, and she say - the honorable minister is coming any moment from now.
At the ministry's waiting room there about 15 well respected Lagosian discussing on this and that, along the walls. One respectable Lagosian tells his neighbor that the Oyinbo, (peeled people, as the Yoruba refer to white people), know so little. Yes - the Professor says - but it is enough to destroy the world.
A third one says - the more we know, the more we know that we don't know and the danger grows, the more we know. Now you can see that waiting in the honorable minister's waiting rooms can be quite enlightening and perhaps more than a class in the University of Ibadan.
It's 3pm and it looks like the heat cause us to lose our mind. The Professor is asking the secretary if she heard anything from the honorable minister. Her name is Jibola and she insist that - we need to be patient - and that - the honorable minister is coming any moment from now.
I have to move around a bit to keep my knuckles out of troubles and I coincidently notice a familiar face, so I am mentioned to him that I have been waiting for the honorable minister of transportation for few hours now, and that Jibola the secretary say - we need to be patient - and that - the honorable minister is coming any moment from now.
The familiar face tells me that this is actually the truth, but - he advises me - come in 3 days since the honorable minster is now in London. There is no contradiction, say the professor when he discovers signs of my frustration. You must be patient - the honorable minister is coming any moment from now - as Jibola say.
I certainly need more patience. The Professor is staying in a small hotel at Ikeja and I stay at a Guest House in Ilupeju. I use the time to see a dentist. The Nigerian dentist check my teeth and decides that I need seven tooth fillings. This is unexpected for me, however; a dentist is a dentist. Seven fillings!? After the dentist complete the fillings, my dentist in Israel says - the way I know your teeth, the dentist in Nigeria had to drill seven holes in your teeth. When the Professor hear what happened, he says - after all, you need holes in your teeth, so you can make the fillings. That is the system.
Professor Ogunleye Shakale explains the dentist's conduct. He says - the decision on the fillings number depends on the Dentist's need at that time. For example – he says - if the dentist has some extra expenses, then he needs more Naira, and if he needs more Naira then he will increase the number of fillings. Professor Shakale says - the number of fillings required, determine the number of holes that the dentist drills in your mouth. It is really so simple. Even a new comer to Nigeria should understand this math.
After some investigations, we find out that the honorable minister will actually be in his office on Tuesday. Jibola apologizing to us for the long waiting. She smiles and say - I told he will come any moment, didn't I?
Jibola and the minister are both Yoruba. Great people and culture existing thousands of years. There are about 35 million Yoruba, mainly in Nigeria and they have an old tradition to speak Yoruba when they are talking with each other and that makes it difficult to understand what they are saying because I don't understand Yoruba.
The honorable minister invites us to sit and after the usual greetings I take my place at the table. The Professor introduces me as his long-time friend from London, to add some legitimacy to my presence.
Of course, I am trying hard not to ask what they are talking about because the minster might suspect that I try to find out what they are talking about. This might be regarded as a disrespect. Nevertheless, from time to time I receive a short translation.
The Honorable Minister of Transportation and Prof. Ogunleye Shakale discuss the unfortunate condition of the Nigerian Airways, the national carrier of Nigeria. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) suspended Nigeria Airways in early 1987 from the Clearing House (which meant the airline could not issue tickets to fly on other IATA member airlines and the converse).
Few years earlier, the former minister of transportation, a well-respected army officer and politician, dismissed the excellent KLM staff after they did a good job of operating the airline and the new terminal and send them back to Amsterdam. There were two reasons why the honorable minister sends them back to Holland. First, the Nigerian teams was believed to be able to do a better job than the peeled experts of KLM in operating of the Nigerian Airways and second, these peeled experts came from Holland, so it is reasonable to send them back to Holland.
The carrier started accumulating significant debts and losses that outstripped its revenues, which is nothing unusual, except that when aircrafts belong to the Nigeria Airways landed in Europe, they were detained or impounded in Europe for unpaid debt. This was seen as very rude and impolite attitude of peeled Europeans that unfortunately misunderstand Nigeria.
In light of the above, Prof. Ogunleye Shakale shared his frustration with the honorable minister and blamed the peeled European for their unfair tactics. He angrily reminds the honorable minister how Columbus, a renown peeled explorer, is regarded by the European as if he discovers America, when there were already millions of good people there. And Columbus was sure it is India. Ignorant!
Prof. Ogunleye Shakale explains to the Honorable Minister that the entire problem of the Nigeria Airways could be saved if there was a Nigerian writing system.
Professor Ogunleye Shakale explains - when other cultures and members of the homo-sapiens developed writing systems, thousands of years ago, to improve their communication, in Nigeria it was completely unnecessary.
Villages and residents in Nigeria were always very communicative and manage very well with each other, plus, they had nothing to write about.
I later asked the Professor why there was no writing system in Nigeria. Professor Ogunleye Shakale always have at least two reasons for everything. So, he says that in fact there are two reasons; One, they didn't know how to write and two, they didn't know how to read.
Prof. Ogunleye Shakale clarifies his remarks and share with the Honorable Minister some of his childhood memories in the village somewhere near Ogbomosho. Prof. Shakale says - those days they had an advanced technology that allowed them to travel to London in a minute.
Prof. Shakale described the exceptionality of that technology. No need for air crafts, no fuel is required, and the operating cost is minimal. No need for favors from the peeled European.
Prof. Ogunleye Shakale criticizes the technology of the peeled people, forcing Nigerians to use aircraft just for traveling a long distance. He says - such a technology is not efficient. He adds – this is why Nigeria is completely dependent on the peeled people's technology.
The Honorable Minister listen carefully and asked Prof. Ogunleye Shakale how can we implement the fantastic technology in Nigeria.
Prof. Shakale says - Honorable, that is the problem, we have no writing system, so we couldn't keep record of the details and the process required for that good technology.
Prof. Shakale remembers - one of the village elders is making smoke from a special fire. I am not sure what type of smoke was it – he says - the next thing, the village elder disappeared in the smoke. Then, after a minute, the village elder was back from the smoke – he says. Prof. Ogunleye Shakale was a child than and he remember the village elder telling them that he was in London. Simple! Just like that.
After we left the Honorable Minister of Transportation's office, Prof. Ogunleye Shakale, the Aviation expert from Ibadan, tells me - it is unfortunate that there was no writing system in Ogbomosho to record the details of the Chief's technology for the benefit of the next generations. Who needs these peeled people's aircrafts anyway.
Think about it
Tankers Under the Bridges
Bamidele Adedeji is a cement tanker driver. He is a Yoruba man from Oguro, Osun State and he works with Oyinbo (Peeled People) for 12 years, collecting cement from Shagamu and Ewekoro and delivers the cement to many projects around the South West of Nigeria.
It is the correct approach to call Bamidele Adedeji 'Chief Tanker', since he holds responsibility for the life of others in his extremely high responsible job.
Now, Bamidele Adedeji said that under many bridges in Nigeria, you might find rusted tankers ruins. It could be water tankers, cement tankers or fuel tankers.
Chief, why is it? – I asked Bamidele Adedeji, the chief tanker.
So, Bamidele Adedeji explained to me why so many tankers end up under bridges and box culverts and I tell you this story as Chief Adedeji told me.
Bamidele Adedeji tells me that in Nigeria, there are Traditional Traffic Laws that, under the local circumstances in Nigeria, makes much more sense than the Oyinbo's (Peeled People's) Traffic Laws in Europe.
A driver approaching a junction should first look right and then look left and only then carefully cross the junction if the road is free or, if his car is bigger or stronger than the other cars approaching the junction. That is the Traditional Traffic Laws representing the Right of Way.
For example, Adedeji explain, a trailer has the Right of Way over a private car. However, army car has the Right of Way over a trailer, especially, if there are soldiers with guns in it.
At the top on the hierarchy, there are the tankers. Fuel tankers, water tankers, cement tankers. They are the biggest and heaviest. No one should challenge them.
Chief Bamidele Adedeji say that each tanker is managed by a very important Chief Tanker, like himself, with one or two Motor Boys, like those he has. Bamidele emphasizes that normally the motor-boys come from the same village or even from the same family with the Chief Tanker, like in his case.
Bamidele Adedeji's Motor Boys admire him for his ability to control the giant machine. They are doing the less honorable jobs, such as cleaning the tanker from time to time; parking the tanker when required; pushing there and around to clear the path when the chief is stuck in go-slow.
Chief Adedeji is wearing a traditional Agbada with wide-sleeved robe worn by honorable men in the Yoruba land. The Agbada makes Bamidele Adedeji look much bigger than he actually is. At the same time, even without the Agbada, Chief Adedeji is extra-large. It is important for very important people to look bigger than they actually are. Because it helps to discourage others from arguing with them on one thing or another or money, especially about owo (money).
His size and his job as a Chief Tanker provide Bamidele Adedeji a special position in the hierarchy of the Oguro community and Bamidele Adedeji is indeed highly respected among the residents of Oguro and the surrounding villages.
Obviously, Bamidele Adedeji drives on the road without slowing down the tanker, even not as slightly as it might be necessary. Bamidele Adedeji says that all the other cars' drivers respect him. He is proud and pleased when cars stopped on the roadside, clearing the way for him, allowing him to go ahead, as a sign of respect.
It will be a total disrespect, not to say embarrassment to Bamidele Adedeji if he should slow down just as a consideration of a smaller car that is coming from the opposite direction of the road. Those small cars must respect the tanker and specifically respect Chief Bamidele Adedeji, the chief tanker from Oguro.
Of course, the simple fact is, that those driving the cars coming from the opposite direction, have no clue who is driving the tanker, and never heard of Chief Bamidele Adedeji from Oguro. On the other hand, no one wants to drive opposite a tanker that doesn’t slow down on those narrow roads. Apart from it, these are the traditional traffic laws.
Chief Bamidele Adedeji said that every car that stops in front of the bridge, is a gesture of respect to him. Rest assure that the motor-boys will tell the story when they will be back to Oguro.
Now, Bamidele Adedeji is telling me - from time to time, as it happened to him, another tanker is approaching a bridge from the opposite direction right at the moment he approached the bridge. The traditional traffic rules are not specific on such a case when two same-size vehicles approach a narrow bridge.
Chief Adedeji said that only later he realized that the other tanker's driver is also a Chief Tanker, like himself, and he also have motor boys coming from his village. Naturally, the second driver can't slowdown too.
The motor-boys of the second tanker can tell the village community that the driver slowed down, and that could be huge embarrassment and humiliation for the chief tanker and his family.
Bamidele Adedeji tells me that if he knew that the other tanker's driver is Chief Adebola Oladayo then he would slow down. Although, Bamidele Adedeji is saying – I can't understand why Chief Adebola Oladayo didn't slow down?
Now, both Chiefs Tanker are on full speed with their tankers and they are not considering slowing down. One can imagine what is going in their head. They have few seconds to make a decision.
Bamidele Adedeji tells me - at the last second, he realized that the Juju is not around and he can lose the respect he gets in Oguro earlier than planned, so right in front of the bridge, he quickly turns the tankers to the road side to avoid the impact with the bridge. Chief Adebola Oladayo did the same.
Adedeji believe that the more intelligent you are, the more fearful you shall be. I said – that is sounds logical. Even Andy Grove, the famous Intel CEO, wrote a book 'Only the Paranoid Survive'. So, it makes sense after all.
Chief Adebola Oladayo had no chance to tell his story. His tanker was a fuel tanker and caught fire immediately. Clearly, Juju was absent at that moment
And he adds - that's why under many bridges in Nigeria there are the remains of tankers.
Think about it.
Watermelons in Old Bodija
Abupepo always provides some kind of a complain to keep life interesting. One of his more original complaints was about watermelons. Why are there no watermelons in Ibadan? – he asked me one evening. Usually, his complaints come in the evenings.
Since the issue was raised by Abupepo, the ears of the guesthouse residents are on alert to capture any piece information about watermelons in the South West of Nigeria.
Rumors started flowing, without specific directions, that some Dutch Oyinbo (Peeled Dutch people) started experimental farm somewhere near Ogbomosho in an effort to grow watermelons in Nigeria. Nothing goes faster than rumors in Nigeria especially when it is about watermelons.
After some investigations, Abupepo manages to get one pale watermelon which didn't remind him of the watermelons of the Valley. It was a Dutch whitish pinky color, rather than the red sweet common watermelon from the Valley. In fact, Abupepo was so disappointed with Dutch watermelon that he considered never to fly again with KLM. Abupepo couldn’t eat it. Instead, Abupepo took the seeds and planted the seeds in his Old Bodija guesthouse backyard.
Abupepo tells me that he cleared a small area of the weeds and carefully placed the watermelon seeds.
Generally - Abupepo says - I am against the term "weeds" because it is an indication of contempt toward local indigenous plants that have flowers and fruits, like other plants. Just because people don't want them there, at that point, they call them "weeds". But, for the sake of the watermelon dream and the story, he also calls these plants, weeds.
Abupepo continues - when planning a landscaping, anywhere, the Landscaping Consultants should always consider using local indigenous plants, instead of imported plants that birds and insects are not familiar with. Imported plants cause confusion in the eco system, whenever and where ever Landscaping Consultants put them. Frustrating!
As I tell you, Abupepo is a very interesting peeled person and I fully support his view.
Abupepo tells me from his experience that generally, a typical Nigerian, at least back in those days, would not plant flowers for any purpose or for decoration in their backyard, nor in the front yard. Especially, not for decoration! A typical Nigerian plant corn, yam, cassava, pawpaw, and even watermelon.
In Nigeria, the yard is used for a true meaningful purpose. This is Nigeria for heaven's sake, not peeled people land. If there is a small yard, Nigerians grow food to help survive, to live!!
Food is more important than white roses – Abupepo tells me. In Europe, the land of the peeled people, the aim is to live better!! In Nigeria the aim is Live!!
There is a huge difference in the basic values between "Live" and "live better". A completely different set of values and another world. And that's goes also to what we plant in the backyard, including watermelon.
In Nigeria everything grows fast. Humidity is high and temperature is warm and tropical. Abupepo tells me that one morning he couldn’t open a drawer in his office. When he checked he saw that from one of the drawer's joints came out a root, scarry!?
Rainfall in this area is heavy and sudden and only the Nigerians know how it works and behave. The sky might be clear blue and suddenly dark clouds open, and it pours.
Abupepo finally continues with his story. The watermelon's seeds sprout in a short time and to be sure, Abupepo asked Madam Apunanwu, the cook, to water the seeds a bit everyday around noon, so that the shoots would not dry. This is very important. Abupepo fully trust Madam Apunanwu to water the watermelon shoots everyday around noon or so.
Madam Apunanwu was a dedicated, hardworking house keeper and cook and she is an expert in preparing food which under specific conditions can be edible.
Work was not easy for her. Especially, moving between the rooms was never easy, since the doors manufacturers did not consider Madam Apunanwu measurements when they designed the doors' openings. Madam Apunanwu had fundamental dimensions to considered under any circumstances.
Madam Apunanwu size is somewhat, associated with her food tasing habits. Like a good and responsible cook, she tastes the food before serving and during preparation, like the big chefs do.
Madam Apunanwu tasting requirements can reach up to 50% from the food quantity she originally prepares to ensure that the food is not tasty. Sometime, Madam Apunanwu tastes 100% of the dish if she finds that the food somehow tasty. That's how her impressive size was developed.
Madam Apunanwu's measurements are a huge advantage in several areas, particularly when she goes to the market and especially when she goes to Mokola. Those Market women would think twice before they shall consider an aggressive negotiation with Madam Apunanwu. Nothing in Ibadan markets is purchased without an aggressive long negotiation. But with Madam Apunanwu the negotiations were friendly and it was evident that the market women acknowledge her good proportions.
Generally, Madam Apunanwu is a very intelligent madam, thus she has good understanding capabilities. She is chasing the cockroaches as if it is green mamba. She cannot understand how the cockroach is back after she smash him few times. For 2 months she kills him again and again and he is coming back to life.
Abupepo gave her the explanation. He says that these cockroaches exist 320 million years. For comparison, humans (homo sapiens) exist about 200 thousand years only. That show you that those cockroaches are very successful in surviving with the worst enemy, such as humans.
Madam Apunanwu opens her big eyes. Abupepo says that humans fight those cockroaches, with chemical and biological weapons that cost billions and yet, those cockroaches survive these wars. These cockroaches can survive nuclear war.
Abupepo says that even if we take the best scientist and give them 100 billion dollars, with all the materials a cockroach is made of, they will not be able to produce a living cockroach, that's how sophisticated are these cockroaches. Abupepo tells Madam Apunanwu that we should respect the cockroaches. Madam Apunanwu is in a shock.
Abupepo have many turns while he is telling me the story, but he returns to the watermelon. Usually, Abupepo came around 1pm for lunch at the guesthouse. It was Thursday around noon and Abupepo is going to the guesthouse when his driver tells him that he spots a suspicious, nervous cloud.
The driver tells Abupepo that he is familiar with this awọsanma wuwo (heavy cloud) because this awọsanma wuwo was around about three weeks ago and even than he didn't like this awọsanma wuwo. And now the awọsanma wuwo looks even more wuwo. Abupepo's driver understands awọsanma wuwo.
He was born four times under the spirit of Abiku, the Juju that allow babies to be born, die, and reborn, until the Juju is satisfied with the results.
Without much of a warning the super awọsanma wuwo drops his merchandise on the land. Just the noise of the rain on the car's roof could turn Abupepo deaf. Strong streams of water wash the roads and the sides become small rivers.
Abupepo arrived to the guesthouse and asked the driver to get near the door as close as possible, allowing a jumping distance and he jumped in.
It didn't help and I got completely wet – Abupepo say.
Abupepo went straight ahead to the kitchen. Madam Apunanwu was not there. He started calling her Madaaam …!! - Madaaaaam …!! Madaaam …!!, but there was no madam. Abupepo started getting worried. Madam Apunanwu is always there tasting the food.
Abupepo says - It was when I raised the curtain, that I saw her.
As Abupepo asked her before, Madam Apunanwu stood outside, in the backyard, above the Dutch watermelon shoots, completely wet, as the heavy rain pouring, in her left hand, she holds a blue plastic kettle, watering the watermelon shoots.
It important that the young watermelon shoots would not get dry.
Think about it.
And that is the end of the story, except that Madam Apunanwu had to go to see her family somewhere in Anambra state, and Abupepo continued watering those shoots by himself. Within four days the shoots did not survive.
They missed Madam Apunanwu.
The Minibuses Trap
In 1978 the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was under construction. Accordingly, smart drivers, that were sent to collect Oyinbo (peeled person) from Ikeja airport to Ibadan, used the unpaved route, after bush clearing.
Mr. Abupepo Menashe, a peeled person from Israel, arrived one evening to Nigeria, after a long anxious trip. The driver took him through the unpaved route. Abupepo said that he checked it on the maps. The distance from Lagos to Ibadan is about 140 KM.
The next morning, I heard shouts. In fact, everyone in the head-office building heard these shouts. And I will not be exaggerating if I assume that the entire community around Agbegba heard those shouts too.
Abupepo told me later, that his manager, Eng. Rosen, which; he just met for the first time, was very irritated by something he said.
I asked Abupepo - what could have made Mr. Rosen so hysterical?
Abupepo says – it is all started when Rosen asked me how was my trip from Lagos to Ibadan and I answered that it was fine. I mentioned that it is only 140 KM, no big deal. On hearing my reply, Rosen sprang and said that I was wrong.
Rosen said that he is three years in Nigeria and the distance is 500 KM.
Abupepo said - I gently told him that I checked it on the maps and I am sure that the distance is 140 KM only.
That is when Rosen exploded and started shouting at me – Abupepo said. How dare you argue with me on your first day here? Rosen shouted at Abupepo.
Of course, it is unheard of and unacceptable for a new comer, especially someone like Abupepo, on his first day in Nigeria, to say that the distance from Lagos to Ibadan is 140 KM, even if the distance is actually 140 KM and specifically when Eng. Rosen, who is already three years in Nigeria, is saying that it is 500 KM.
There is a saying in Yoruba, "Even if you are right, it doesn't mean you are wise".
Abupepo tells me – I know I made a mistake. it is totally unwise to insist on the correct distance and argue with Eng. Rosen on my first day. Especially, when my name is Abupepo and his name is Rosen. You know, I am an Arabic Jew.
Here we need some explanations. Rosen is a European Jew. In Israel, he is regarded as Ashkenazi. Actually, there is no place in Europe by the name "Ashkenaz". There are some speculations about the source or reasons for calling those European Jews as Ashkenaz. The name appears in the bible as one of Noah's descendants. Abupepo said that it is time to simply say "European Jews" or even "European Israelis."
Abupepo's family came from Iraq. In Israel, the common practice, is to call them "Spanish Jews" (Sepharadim). Of course, these Israelis are "Arab Jews" and not Spanish at all.
Abupepo said that his parents speak Arabic not Spanish. They listen to Um-Kultum, Fareed Al-Atrash and Abdul Wahab, just to name few Arabic great musicians. His parents never heard of Joselito nor Los Machukambos. they are an "Arab Jew" from Iraq that came to Israel and became an Israeli. Anyway, not Spanish.
I asked Abupepo - Why they are called "Spanish" and not "Arab Jew?"
Abupepo says - I don't know. But it is possible that Rosen was disappointed when he saw that I am an "Arab Jew."
Abupepo has not yet calmed down from that episode. By the way, Rosen was so stubborn, he reminded me a class mate, many years ago, trying for five (5) hours to convince me that she is not stubborn.
A wise man said before - it's more difficult to believe the truth you hear for the first time, then a lie you heard many times.
I like Abupepo. One evening, Abupepo and I went for a dinner in Kokodome. A Lebanese Restaurant, one of the three places where 'Oyinbo friendly’ food is served in Ibadan.
Abupepo starts telling me about these minibuses near Lagos. Hundreds of minibuses parked on top of a manmade hill with very steep walls of 3 meters height. No way that the minibuses were driven to the top of that hill and there was no way for the minibuses to come down. The minibuses were trapped on top of that hill – he said.
How did these minibuses get trapped there? - He asked me.
I don't know – I replied – but I will try to find out.
One day I met a wise man by the name Ayodele Temitope (or in short Tope) and he is or was a Catholic Priest in Lagos. We met at a certain event in Lagos. Tope told me many stories and he sounded like a very wiseman.
Tope said that as a catholic priest he took the vow of celibacy, which does not permit him to marry or to have his own family. Now, according to him, some people in the Yoruba congregation don't understand how can he counseling them on family matters when he himself has no family.
Why not? I asked him. You can't fool these Yoruba people - he says.
So, I thought, such an intelligent priest might be able to explain to Abupepo what is the story behind those minibuses. I introduced Ayodele Temitope to Abupepo and this is what Abupepo told me that Tope told him.
Abupepo told Tope what he saw near the Express Way.
I am very curious about these minibuses – Abupepo tells Tope – how they got to be on top of that hill?
Tope starts with – Well Sir, you are surely a curious man, the more intelligent you are; the more curious you will be. As for the minibuses, it goes like this;
The soil in that area was made of laterite which is a good material for road construction. The German Contractor of Lagos-Ibadan expressway needed large quantity of laterite.
To reduce cost, the contractor looked for laterite close to the road. This is to minimize the transportation cost. Therefore, Tope says, the contractor started excavating the laterite near the road, immediately after he was awarded the contract from the Federal Ministry of Works.
Unfortunately, there was a parking lot, full with just-imported minibuses, belonging to Lagos State, parked on small area owned by important local chief. Lagos State used that area as a parking lot and paid the chief a monthly rent.
Chief "Parking Lot" is a very experienced chief with high skills for negotiations, especially with Oyinbo and particularly Oyinbos coming from Germany. He negotiates with the contractor in an effort to get as much Naira as possible.
His aim is to get a N10,000 (ten thousand naira) compensation. It was a good amount those days. But, as a big chief, he starts the negotiation at N10,000,000 (ten million naira). That is the negotiation system in that area. The German contractor doesn't understand that system at all and think that there is no one to talk with.
From the beginning, the contractor's budget for the compensation to the chief is N5,000. So, the Chief say he would give them a discount and instead of N10 million he can offer N9 million per day. Those Oyinbo are not moving from the N5,000. A budget is budget and there is no management approval to go up.
So, the days are coming and going and while they are negotiating the Oyinbo contractor is excavating around. Every day, the chief is offering additional discount on his offer and every day the Oyinbo contractor continue shaving another layer around the parking lot, in the area that does not belong to the chief.
Gradually, the area surrounding the parking lot became so low and flat compared to the parking lot, that became like an island, a steep hill in the middle of the excavated land, and the hill became so high that it is actually a trap for the minibuses of Lagos State.
Think about it
And that is the whole story as Temitope tells Abupepo, except that, much later, Lagos State forced the Chief to hire a contractor to take the minibuses down from that hill without any delay.
The Chief approached that contractor for assistance, and the Oyinbo contractor asked for N10 million for that job.
Whenever I go to Recreation Club in Ibadan, I meet my friend Alhaji Balogun Ajanlakoko. He is one of those Nigerian that I am always happy to learn something of interest from. In fact, when I ask him a question, he provides me with ten answers on questions I never asked.
For some time, I was wandering while travelling along and across Ibadan, I noticed some Nigerian men, when they pee, they bend their knee and go as low as possible. On the other hand, I saw women, when they pee, they just stand, spread their legs and pee. Without getting wet!
This peeing system puzzled me because where I come from, the peeing system is just opposite. Women sit, men stand.
I told Alhaji Ajanlakoko about that popular peeing system that I noticed in Ibadan and asked him what the rationale behind it is.
At that time, I already understood that there must be a rationale behind such systems, or not. Plus, I learned that in most cases the systems in Nigeria are the correct system, or not.
Alhaji Ajanlakoko looks like someone that is just waiting for such questions and he immediately say - the Oyinbo (Peeled People) don't know how to properly pee.
If you don't respect the spirit of the JUJU, the JUJU will come after you. Alhaji Balogun Ajanlakoko say that the JUJU spirit is all around and we don't want to accidently pee on the JUJU, thus, when a man wants to say hello to his best friend, if he has some respect to the Juju, then he will go as low as possible, minimizing the chance that the pee will hit the Juju. You must be very careful, and respect the Juju.
That is for the men. There is a lot of wisdom behind that practice.
I asked Alhaji Ajanlakoko - what about the women?
Women are completely different than men. In all aspects. Many people do not realize how different women are from men – Alhaji Ajanlakoko says. You know – Alhaji Ajanlakoko tells me – his grandmother talked about the history of his village.
She said that many years ago, ten young friends, about 20-years' old, looked for a new place to settle down. They reached a nice valley with a small river flowing through, cutting the valley right in the middle. For some reasons, they decided to split the group into two groups. Each group had 5 people. A Man's group, consisted one man and four women, settled in one side of the valley. Whereas, the Woman's group, consisted one woman and four men, settled in the other side of the valley.
Can you envision that? – Ajanlakoko asked me. Yes Alhaji, I replied. For twenty years the two families peacefully raised their next generation. Each woman managed to bring 5 boys and 5 girls.
Now – Alhaji Ajanlakoko continues – twenty year later, the Man's group comprised of 21 males and 24 females, together 45 individuals.
The Woman's group comprised of 6 females and 9 males together 15 individuals.
One day, the Man group's elder boy meets the Woman group's elder and tells him that the old arrangement should be amended, since his group is bigger. He is right.
The Woman's elder answer - this is unacceptable, our parents agreed and agreement must be honored. He is right too.
When two such groups are right, without compromise, eventually they fight.
Obviously, the Man's Group easily win, they are 3 times bigger.
Since that time – Ajanlakoko grandmother told him – In our village and all around the proper world, a man with few women has a better chance to survive and be successful than others.
Alhaji Ajanlakoko adds – my grandmother also said that monogamy is unnatural for proper people and that's why it is failing for the Oyinbo, the peeled people.
Look in the Bible – Alhaji said - the powerful have more than one woman, without mentioning names to avoid embarrassment. Surely some choose to live with one woman, which is fine.
Monogamy system is very new and come mainly from peeled Christians and later some Jews in Europe. The reason for it is not clear at all. Alhaji Ajanlakoko wonders - why Christians adopted monogamy?
By the way – Alhaji Ajanlakoko continues - out of 1.5 million animals' species, only exceptionally few practices monogamy and most of them are birds.
As for peeled people, a significant percentage of their marriage end in separation. You can't call it monogamous practice.
And – Ajanlakoko adds - prostitution can't exist in real monogamous society.
In America they did research to find out the reasons why people are waking up in the middle of the night.
2% wake up due to a Full Moon syndromes
8% wake up to pee
90% wake up and go home
Surely, some prefer monogamy and sometimes it works and sometimes not.
This is why my grandmother told me - we are not monogamous. It is unnatural! Says Alhaji Ajanlakoko.
Don't get me wrong – Alhaji Ajanlakoko can't stop - essentially, the woman is far more important than man. What men does? Enjoy life? Women are more important to our life. In the old days, the war winners killed the men and kept the women alive.
Women hold 95% of humanity shares whereas men have 5% of the shares.
In nature, female don't have to fight for the male. On the contrary, the males fight for the females, sometimes to death. One male can easily fertilize many females.
Who do the hard work? Asked Alhaji Ajanlakoko. Who raises the next generation? The woman carries the babies for 7-9 months. She gives painful birth that is changing her body forever. She feeds the baby from her breasts. She raises and educates the entire new generations. Woman is more important than man.
Despite the women's importance, men with their strength and competitiveness take for themselves 95% of the shares and leave 5% to the women. Not fair, says Ajanlakoko, and not good for the world.
We need more women leading the world, managing corporations, and leading communities. The women will do a better job.
Alhaji – I say – I totally agree with everything you say, but why women are peeing standing and how they do it without getting wet?
Ajanlakoko goes on to explain the origin of the practice. The women are doing all the work. Early morning, she goes to the river to fetch water. On her head she carries big calabash or gourd and sometimes a baby on her back. The baby is wrapped on her back with a piece of garment tightened on her breasts.
On the river, she fills the calabash with water and two other women usually help her to place the very heavy calabash on her head. She can't raise the calabash by herself. Now, when the calabash is on her head, the baby on her back, sometimes sucking one of the breasts, she is ready to walk home.
The walking back to the village can take long time. On her way, especially when few drops of water jump on her, the pee start bothering her. Heavy calabash on her head, the baby on her back.
Alhaji Ajanlako says - the only option she has is to pee while standing; so, she spreads the legs and pee. Very normal, correct, wise and natural system.
Think about it