Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Case for Linda Ikeji

Linda Ikeji, the most successful Nigerian blogger was
recently accused of plagiarism. She wasn’t sued but  majority had already sentenced her to death.
Fortunately, Google has found her not guilty. Mr. Ayedee whose real name has
been rumoured to be Muhktar or Emmanuel or both  claims she used content from his blog without
his permission or giving him due credit. Linda insists it’s not true; she
didn’t seek permission but she credited him.(The post was taken down). She
further adds that she has no time to wait for permission as she’s in the
business of breaking News but she always adds ‘culled from’. Is this enough? I
do not know.  I’m no lawyer. But from a lay man’s perspective,
I did not think Ayedee’s case would survive in court. I was really hoping this
would end up there so I would be proved right or right.

I am not a big fan of  Linda and here’s why. I’m uncomfortable about
people who display their material wealth. 
It worries me that owning Prada bags have become more important than
content of character. I feel that celebrities birthed this trend. From the
musician who posts pictures of his new house online to the actress who
instagrams her entire shopping trip in Italy, one designer bag after another, to
Linda who recently posted pictures of her newly acquired Range Rover.  
What are we teaching our children? But I
respect the young lady. She’s worked very hard and she’s made me very proud of
my generation and gender. This is a clear case of building something, something
very big out of nothing. I stood up for her because I felt she was being
bullied. I still do not understand why we chose to swallow an anonymous
blogger’s allegations hook, line and sinker and completely disregarded
Linda’s. I believe in crime and punishment but it must be in a bid to correct and not to destroy. Linda's case seems to be to me, a matter
of class. How dare Linda succeed when she didn’t go to an Ivy league
university, when she didn’t return from the Diaspora to show us how to do
things, when she doesn’t speak with an acquired accent?

Ikhide Iheloa, a literary critic pointed out that while he
is not dismissing the allegations against Ms. Ikeji, he wanted to understand why
she was being singled out, he reminded us of an online magazine
who still owe him money and other atrocities they commited, If
anyone responded to him, I missed it or they missed  his Tweets. They were too busy
chanting crucify Linda! Someone even said, in justifying Google’s take down of
her blog, that she had gotten away with murder for too long and it was time
justice caught up with her. Hian! It reminded me of our political class,
patting politicians on the back for stealing millions, and sentencing a goat
thief to life imprisonment. This is Nigeria. We choose whom we love. And hate.

I am a writer, as such I understand intellectual property.  But Ms Ikeji is one of the very few young
women who have excelled at her craft with very little or no help. It is not
what she does but how she does it. That girl is diligent!  We should seek to build and not destroy her.
Did any one of the intellectuals write her,since they know so much, telling her to
stop using other people’s content? Did anyone reach out to her to help her take
LIB to the next level? She could be Nigeria’s Oprah. LIB could easily become a
talk show, a TV station, and more but she cannot do it alone.  We cannot continue to berate the younger
generation while we make no attempts at helping them grow. Mark didn’t build
Facebook alone. People  identified the
talent, the potential and helped him take it to the next level.  Nigerian youths deserve the same if they must
shine bright.

Ironically, the person who encouraged her would turn around
to be the person who would seek to destroy her. 
History has shown that many people who bring cases on Twitter are
seeking vengeance and not justice. People who want justice go to courts of law.
But Nigerians do not remember history.
Even when it repeats itself a thousand times.

In a lot of ways, Linda reminds me of Nollywood. An industry
that has built itself from nothing and is constantly condemned by the middle/
upper middle class.( I initially typed upper class but upper class people don’t
watch films, do they?)Why? Because it didn’t come from them.  A people with basic or no education built
Nollywood and sustained it. As Linda Ikeji built her blog. Deal with it.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Can I sit on the fence?

Long ago, when I was an active blogger, I wrote on homosexuality. My stance was and still is: I cannot judge what I do not understand.

This is probably one of those articles one should use an alias but I will brave the verbal stones that will be thrown my way, and use my name.
I’ve heard from the pro-gay and the anti-gay. Now, I will attempt to speak for those of us who are neither here nor there.

I’m curious about what brought on the bill. Did an important wife find her husband in bed with another man? In Nigeria we have learnt that there’s always more to it than meets the eye.
I think a lot of the anti-gay people are extreme in their stance but so are the pro-gays.  I do not have the right to decide for you your sexual preferences but neither do you have the right to insist that I accept them.  If it is live and let live as you claim, then should you not also let me live? I think both parties should give each other respect and perhaps space, then the road might begin to smoothen out.

Since the announcement of the gay bill, many have lost friends. I, personally have unfollowed and muted several gay activists on twitter.  I do not have anything against people. How can I? But I have everything against someone trying to beat me up to accept or fight the homosexuality battle.
I stand against violence against women and rape etc. Some other people are fighting poverty and global hunger etc. We all reserve the right to choose our battles. If you want to fight for the gay, by all means, do so. But to insist that I must do so with you is to trample on the same right of choice that you accuse us of trampling upon yours.

In our very gossip filled industry, I have come to believe that some people are gay for pay. We hear stories of who is sleeping with one big man or the other. I cannot judge them anymore than I can judge the married woman who spends weekends in Abuja, sometimes to her husband’s knowledge.  Perhaps some people are biologically homosexual. I do not know.
I have friends that are gay. I love them dearly and cannot be bothered about their sexuality, the same way I do not expect them to be bothered about mine.  But it seems to me that often, the gay is asking to be defined by his sexuality. This is what bothers me.
I will only define people by the content of their character; not by their religion, nor class, nor race, nor sexual preference nor anything else the world might come up with tomorrow.
I agree that criminalising homosexuality is unjust and unfair. It should not be our business what two consenting adults get up to particularly behind their closed doors.

At a recent festival, a gay film was screened, when two teenage girls started to kiss, I stepped out. I was uncomfortable. The act makes me uncomfortable. I will not apologise for my discomfort. But my discomfort does not in any way make it a criminal offence.

I refuse to judge homosexuals. The Lord alone reserves that right, and He will do so on judgement day.  But if you’re asking me to accept homosexuality; I can’t. Forgive me.

Monday, 26 August 2013

While we were yet sinners......

I don’t know if this is a rejoinder to Tolu Ogunlesi’s article on Punch mobile but it was certainly inspired by it.
I will start by saying that I got born again at 13. I might not have been the brightest student but I wasn't dull so it wasn't out of a desire to excel at school. It wasn't so I could pass JAMB, find a good husband, have a successful career etc. Much as I have most of these things now, and will attribute them to God’s grace and favour upon my life, at the time, I was simply seeking the kingdom of God.
Although it hasn't been all smooth, I have fallen several times and a few more for good (okay, bad), measure. And every time, He has picked me up, His mercy being new every morning.

A lady has recently come out to speak about an affair with her pastor. My first questions were: was she raped? Was she drugged? Is she underage? NO. Then, accept my apologies, but I cannot sympathise with her. If you’re a woman in Nigeria, you’d be very aware of sexual harassment. Sadly, it’s not really frowned upon. When we’re still fighting over rape? If you get raped here, you’re likely to be blamed. What was she wearing? Why was she there etc? In my Movie, Kokomma, a 17 year old maid is raped by the Oga of the house causing his wife to leave him. While censoring the movie, a greater number of people thought she took it too far. ‘It was only rape and not murder’ they said.  Very recently, an acquaintance of mine was raped, she reported to the police and they laughed at her, asking if she didn't enjoy it. This is the present reality for the Nigerian woman. So the woman needs to learn to protect herself. I see no reason why a woman should visit a man be it pastor, carpenter, senator or guardian in a hotel room alone except she absolutely trusts the man.  That’s why hotels have lobbies. I think it’s a failure in the family system. What are mothers teaching their daughters? Where are the values? The man will always be attracted to the woman, and the woman to the man.  It is nature. In the early days, they had chaperones keeping their eyes on suitors. In our days, you couldn't accept gifts from just any man, now the toaster hasn't started if he has not yet bought you that smart phone.
My friend says I'm double minded because the lady could have been raped, and had it been rape, my stance would have been different. And it would have been. I insist that nothing justifies rape: It is a criminal offence and must be treated as such. But consensual sex between two adults? That’s a totally different story.  We have to be careful not to confuse crime and sin.
Is adultery/fornication a crime? I don’t think so. Is rape a crime? Most definitely.
I think that most Nigerian men still see the woman simply as a sex object. Perhaps it is cultural, perhaps it is the woman who has first put herself out as a sex object but that is a debate for another day.  The more women you've had, the more pats on the back you get, never mind your marital status or political or religious positions.

I'm very careful not to judge people by my own moral standards. However, because I openly say that I am a Christian I expect to be judged by the precepts of Christianity and if you are Church leader, you’re not just accountable to God but to the thousands under your flock and more. In Timothy 3:2&3, the Bible says that the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a love of money. I suggest you read the whole chapter.
None of us is above sin, yes. We live under grace, yes. Does grace justify sin? NO!

If the allegations on Pastor Biodun are true -- this is my theory and nothing but a theory -- that it might not be the first time, that the church and his wife might have been aware but swept it under the carpet, I think the church board should have cautioned him, prayed for him and found a way to help him and if he was unable to control himself, he should have been made to step down.  The Church would have been spared this embarrassment.

But unfortunately, our leaders - Religious, political, and corporate - have come to see themselves as demi-gods. And we the people have fuelled this belief. From the madam who kicks his house girl at home, to the church leader who uses his position and power to manipulate his audience, to the politician who steals from the nation’s treasury to the boss who calls his staff  ‘fool’ every other day.
How can we ask them to be accountable when we have shared in their loot, when we have come to enjoy our docile position? The pastor said so, then it must be right. It’s easier to take his word than to read the Bible and know God’s word.

Because I am by nature simple, I attend a simple church presided over by a simple pastor. While I cannot beat my hands on my chest for my pastor(can I even beat my hands on my chest for myself?) there are some things that I can say for him.

I often wonder what it is that attracts people to churches where the pastor is boastful, does not give, does not impact society, is more concerned about the crispiness of his shirt than the welfare of his members.
As long as we continue to go to church to seek husbands (you would have thought husbands were to seek wives), wealth, miracles etc instead of God then these things will keep happening.

So while we must check the church, we must also check ourselves.  
The Bible says that the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.1Tim 4:3.

Again, I suggest you read the whole chapter. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The police is your friend.

May 4. Morning.

There’s bird shit on my windscreen. Usually means good luck but not this time. This time it’s different. The left side of my eye’s been twitching since I woke.

Bird shit and a twitching eye, more than enough reason to visit the mountain.

On the mountain, I’d be made to shake my head violently and declare my enemies dead.  The ones who sent the bird or became it. But I didn’t go. And bad luck came.

At a hotel. In Aguda.  Afternoon.

We’re filming at the bar. A pot bellied man is following one of my artists around. He wants to see her AGN ID card, he says. I step in and ask for his but he cannot produce it. He’s a member of the AGN task force. Everyone around there knows him.  Of course they would. The stench of alcohol oozing from him is enough identification. He calls for reinforcement. They threaten to disrupt my set, I threaten to sue them. Reason prevails.

3pm. Aguda. Another Location. 

‘I’m the landlord’s child, this is my father’s compound.’ A cracked voice bellows at us.  ‘But we’re not in your compound, we’re on the streets,’ I retort, attempting to reason with him.

‘Arrest the Production Manager and seize their equipment,’ He barks at the truck load of policemen he’s come with. The policemen look confused. We soon learn that the landlord’s child – this barking man - had a quarrel with our PM, his tenant, and this is open season for his vengeance.

The policemen regret that they made the trip but the order came from above. It had to be obeyed.  Naturally, they cannot return empty handed.

I shake my head, disillusioned. I remember when we called the police during a robbery. They had no free car, they told us, but here they are. Here to settle a squabble between neighbours, nay, here to settle their thirsty pockets.

8pm. Police station.            

The Location Manager has arranged a police station for us to film in. We arrive there, and Cally, the DCO, asks to see me. He wants to renegotiate, he says.  I do not have many options, not at 8pm. I agree to his terms. He’s not a bad man, he tells me.

And I believe him! 

The crew begin to set up. Cally, now brandishing a green bottle, stays with us, sharing jokes. They’re not funny but we laugh, feeling obligated to. Our laughter is poorly executed but then, we’re not actors. They would have better performed but they’re preparing for the scene we’re making ready to shoot.

When satisfied with the level of progress, I leave, and Cally leaves several minutes after me.


Barely five minutes after he’s gone, two police vans arrive from another unit, stopping the crew, saying they can’t shoot there. The crew call me but there’s nothing I can do from the phone. I ask them to pack up. My phone rings again. They want the crew to follow them  to a larger police station close to this one. I call Cally, who says he’ll make a U-turn.

There’s a high tempered officer in their midst. He fiercely cocks his gun and threatens to shoot if the crew don’t follow them to the station. His temper is the kind responsible for police murder of innocent civilians.

‘Who does the actress think she is? Her stardom ends on TV. Here, he I am king.’ His voice is now very high.

‘What’s my offence? Why am I being taken to another station?’ the actress is perplexed. Perhaps this is her crime, for daring to question an officer.

He cocks his gun again but he can’t shoot. Too many spectators. And when spectators become witnesses, that cannot be good for him. He deflates her tyres instead. All four of them. Still, he wants more. It’s become a battle of the sexes.  An ego has been enlarged. The crew decide to follow him and his unit to the other station before his ego explodes, taking them down with it.


Cally proves his worth. He arrives at the station. He insists that he gave the permission to the crew to shoot but still, Divil won’t let his captives go. No one had yet been charged. No officer seems to know what to charge them with or hadn’t decided which they would create.

We make frantic calls. But it’s midnight and not many phones are still switched on.

Divil has now disappeared. Probably gone home to boast to his wife. ‘I locked Awele up’. I can imagine him using the pertinent Nigerian question, ‘Does she not know who I am?’

5th may. 8am.

I arrive the station with a lawyer. A representative of AMP(Association of movie producers) is also here. The DPO arrived early. Cally and Divil are both present.  All I want to know is our offence.

Unlawful use of police premises to film.  There’s a new law that stipulates one must get a permit from the Commissioner of Police after our script has been vetted. We’ve shown the police in bad light for too long and this must stop, the DPO lectures.

But Cally let us in, admitted to letting us in, why hold us?  He tells me Cally has been queried and will face disciplinary committee. I’m still not satisfied. Is this why my crew were held overnight? 

If one of them came home to find us filming in his house and his wife says she let us in, will he punish us or punish the wife?

I don’t get an answer.

The AMP representative calls for a truce.  The Ghanaian among us is apologised to. The Nigerians, we don’t deserve any. We’re lucky to be alive.

Our hotel is in Ajah. Eight rooms paid for. Not slept in. The day is gone. Wasted.

In a country where there are no jobs, where sixty seven million youths are reportedly unemployed, we struggle to create ours and are prevented from working by the same people who swore to protect and serve us.

There’s a poster on the wall, someone has handwritten a word in the middle.

The police is not your friend.

PS. Names are not real names.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Now that we are off the streets

It was a long walk to freedom. For five days thousands of Lagosians walked several kilometres to and fro freedom park, Ojota to protest against the sudden removal of fuel subsidy by the Nigerian government.  A journey that has been long overdue.  A walk that we should have taken years ago, when Nigeria was still pregnant with corruption.  Perhaps, it could have been delivered still born. Unfortunately, the baby was carried to term and delivered as a bouncy baby boy. It now walks tall threatening to destroy our land.

Thankfully, it’s better late than never. Nigerians finally took the streets, protesting, not just the subsidy removal but against the corruption that has eaten so deep into our nation. A country where the office of the president budgets 1billion for feeding in a year while the average Nigerian lives on $2 per day. Where the senate president reportedly earns 40million per month and civil servants are fighting to be paid a minimum wage of 18,000 per month.  You wonder when we became like this or have we always been this way?

On Friday, as we walked back from the protest sight, a car lost control and skidded off the roads, nearly knocking down several pedestrians. The men among us rushed to the scene to offer assistance.  Close by were stationed some policemen. They remained unmoved, unconcerned. One puffed out his cigarette at us when we questioned their indifference. There seems to be such a disconnect between the government and the people.  The protests have been a huge step in the right direction and though we have left the streets now, we must go on to occupy the lives of these corrupt leaders.

We must stop celebrating them. Our religious organizations must cease to harbour them. If the polity refuse to prosecute them, then we the people will ensure that they become outcasts in the society. When thieving politicians are booed in public, allowed to sit only at the back seat of churches if allowed in at all, their children snubbed for their undeserved wealth, then would we truly have occupied. As long as we celebrate them and allow them to reign as kings among us, then all our efforts in the past week would have been in vain.

The road to freedom park might have been long but it has brought freedom a few steps closer.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


I had a baby. She’s the cutest little thing in the world and I do not say this because she is my daughter. She really is cute. Of course she has my genes.
I made a movie: OkonLagos which was financed by my brother. It is only family and friends who will take the risk of investing in your first work. I set out to make a commercial movie and I succeeded. It’s done very well, particularly in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states for obvious reasons. My feeling is that of gratitude because it could easily have gone wrong. Despite putting what I considered the elements for a successful Nollywood movie, there are simply no guarantees. As one of my friends would say, Nollywood is spiritual. You can’t explain why one person would rise to become an A-lister in one year and some others will remain D-listers for a lifetime despite being better actors. 
I celebrated 5 years in marriage. Who would have thought. Even my husband is surprised I haven’t yet cooked him for dinner. Yes, he has plenty wahala but so do I.
I visited home: Ikot Ekpene. I couldn’t believe how much it’d changed. Expanded roads, street/traffic lights, more companies etc. PHCN remains a problem. One day maybe. 
Zazugist.com was born. Unfortunately I am anti-pidgin so that one would be passing over me. I do not listen to Wazobia or any of those stations.  I think that there is already a huge divide between the upper/middle class and lower class and pidgin just makes it worse. You know, like we’re saying, we’ll speak Queens English and teach our children same, you guys stay down there and speak your pidgin. Everyone in my opinion should have a chance of getting to the top and language is key.
Steve Jobs died. I didn’t know him much while he lived but in death we seem to be getting close, I know, that sounds spooky,right. I read his Stay hungry, stay foolish speech and what popped out at me was not that he dropped out of school but that he dropped in on some classes, one of which was calligraphy which laid the foundation for the gadgets he would later create. In Nigeria, we’re quick to mention that some of the world’s geniuses were school drop outs but we quickly forget that they never stopped learning.  Something we seem to be averse to in Nigeria. Everyone wants a university degree but no one wants to read and actually learn. Your certificate may get you the job, but it’s your knowledge/skill that will keep it.
I’m making the blog more personal, we’ll still talk Nollywood and Arts but we’ll talk me too.
Enjoy the rest of the week.

 PS. Congratulations to Adeleke Adeyemi who just won the NLNG prize for literature for his children’s book: The missing clock. Adeleke and I attended the first Fidelity bank sponsored Chimamada Adichie’s workshop.  Yes, I’m famzing.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Uche Jombo;The D in Determination

Uche Jombo , a multi award winning actress came into Nollywood in 1999 in the movie: Visa to Hell. I have followed Uche Jombo’s career closely for many years and happened to be on set the day she nearly got fired on the set of ‘Girls in the Hood’ Uche did not impress the director nor the producer and was going to be decast. She asked for a second chance and got it. That second chance redefined her career. Uche returned to set the next day on fire. Her acting skills had drastically improved overnight to the shock of the entire cast and crew. I suspect that she didn’t sleep that night but rehearsed and rehearsed till she could rehearse no more.

When I speak to upcoming actresses, Uche is a name  I am quick to mention. She  is a clear example that hard work, determination and passion pays. She’s climbed to the top of the ladder by sheer hard work and a strong determination to succeed. Just when you think she’s about to slow down, she comes up with something new.  In 2010 she funded and co-produced Nollywood Hustlers. And on Sunday the 31st of July, 2011, Jombo will be premiering her first solo production: DAMAGE at Silverbird Galleria.

Nollyarts congratulates her and wishes her a successful career as a producer.