Monday, 1 July 2013

2013,I'm back , I'm back ! :)

I started this blog in September 2008 with so much excitement . As the years went by , I got caught up with work and so many other things. Today marks the beginning of the second half of 2013 and I am happy to say I am back. I am happy that in the past few years , I have successfully completed 5 manuscripts and still waiting for publishers and literary agents to find them interesting enough and now I am trying my hands at a collection of love stories. Since I have relocated to Abuja from Lagos, I might not have much Lagos gist to give you guys but trust me , there will always be gist about so many things, ranging from the Abuja wannabes and the ups and downs in the search for Mr right!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

phew !

Can't beleive its been almost 2 yrs since I blogged ! Would be back soon :)

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Priceless Memories !

I couldn't help laughing as nostalgic memories came flooding back when I came across these plastic dolls in Suleja market a few days ago. All nice and smooth very plastic, no hair exentions. I haven't seen them in over 20 years and I was very surprised to discover they still exist! hahahaha, back in the days these plastic dolls were the it dolls most parents could afford and others just bought the dolls because that was what other little girls had and it would only be appropriate for their daughters to own one. These dolls came in different colours back then like I can see they still do now and most of us who owned one in the end chewed up one or two parts of it. Usually the nose or the feet. I had a red one back then and if  I remember correctly I chewed off the feet!Its a little sad that children of the upper class might never get to play with these dolls today nor understand what they meant to us back in da days.... These memories are priceless.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


My Dear Unborn,
Even though you have not been conceived, it gives me great joy and fulfilment to write you these words of prayers , blessings and love. God bless you. I cant wait to carry you within me and feel you grow , kick and play around in my womb which will be your playground for nine months. As I nourish, speak, sing and pray for you. I am not looking forward to the agony of labour but I can’t wait to hear your scream as you make your grand entry into this world. One flesh and blood together for nine months and meeting for the first time as I hold you in my arms for the first time , suckling you and bonding with you.

What will you be? A son to be my strength? Or a daughter to be my peace? Would you have big brown eyes and soft curly black hair? Or would you settle for kind small dark eyes and thick kinky hair like mine ? Would you be peaceful enough to let me sleep when I am tired and need to? Or would you cry a lot to remind me that you are mine, my responsibility , my joy and my headache?
What should I call you ? Do I name you after heroes of old or give you a name that belongs to you because you are unique? Theres more to names than just the way they sound, so I hear.

Oh my unborn, theres no doubt , I would love you with all my heart because I will be your mother but spare the rod I will not. Discipline and the fear of God are part of my obligations to both of us. As daddy would not always be home all the time to see the naughty things you do. So any time I raise my voice or my hand in caution, try to understand that I do it for love and the fact that I want you to be great and live right. I want your life to have more meaning as the days progress. Anytime I kneel with you in prayers, know that I’m not trying to deprive you of your precious sleep . I just want you to understand the essence of life and the Supremacy a higher being, that is the Almighty.

Well my beautiful unborn, I will not say too much for now as I still await your arrival I can only but take one day at a time as I await the lessons we will teach each other in this journey we call , life.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Trains at Yaba....

The last time I actually saw a functional moving train in Nigeria was in the 80's. As a child growing up in the North, it used to be some sort of luxury for those who were opportuned to travel by it. I used to play on the rail tracks as a child and we were told by adults back then never to stick chewing gum or leave syringes lying on the tracks as these could cause the trai to run off the tracks!! Goodness! the things we beleived. Whew! well it felt good to see a train again today almost twenty years later and I couldnt help but capture it!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Singles Thou Art Loosed !

What is it with churches and singles again?? This morning I saw a bill board with the words "Authorization to marry" and here I am sitting in my office flipping through a news paper and there are the words "Singles Thou Art Loosed"! I agree there are low days in the life of a single but the same also applies to the married and those in commited relationships too! Why make the single life sound like bondage??

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Da Vinci's Woman...

Like I said on my face book status , "I'm drowning in Divine Favour" as I received fantastic news 2 days ago and still soaking in its warmth. I started this blog as NOSTALGIC MANGO and today decided to change its name to Da Vinci's woman. Question , Question? Well the answer to that is very simple, I beleive he is the most intelligent man that ever lived! I have read the book the Da Vinci Code twice and at the moment I'm still reading another controversial book "Holy Blood , Holy Grail" and still marvelling at all the "secret" codes hidden in Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings on the folly of man.As a girl with a voracious appetite for Knowledge, books and history.Despite all the controversies with regards to the supposed connection between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the secret bloodline, the Holy Grail and the insinuation that Christianity might just be nothing but a great big HOAX!!I laugh when I remember the fact that there was no place or point in time when any of these books ever mentioned that there is no God.For me it is very important that both historical documentations still acknowledged the existence of a Supreme One.Well I find the man Leonardo Da Vinci very intriguing even though hes been dead a very long time, the puzzle (thats if there really is one !) he left behind is still being unravelled by curious ones. Just this morning I read online that theres a probability that Leonardo Da Vinci was a woman and that the painting of the Mona Lisa might be a painting of himself! Well I believe he was a genius and many other things but definitely not a woman! So as his biggest fan I have decided to go by the name Da Vinci's woman until I finish reading my novel and see what happen's after that!. If nothing interesting comes up I might go back to being NOSTALGIC MANGO...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Help I Am Single.......!!!

I choose to begin this with a good laugh so pardon me hehehehehehehehahahahahahhohohohohohoho LOL LOL.Many thanks for your patience.I guess at the title you would assume I am asking for help? Yeah right! Well this is what was written on a church banner I saw the other day on my way home from work.Unfortunately , I didnt remember to take a picture of the banner so I could put it up for you to see.Dear readers, since when did being single become a problem? . Another advertisement I saw said "My Spouse Appear Now!". If people did not attend these things I doubt if we would have them.It is interesting how churches these days are using the high youth population to their advantage or do I say making mountains out of molehills. I am not saying it is wrong to serve the Lord as I am a Christian and I also beleive that some battles are beyond flesh and blood but hey,"Help I am Single??" Come on, what on earth is that? Love and companionship with the right person is beautiful but I also beleive that some people are better off single or the problem might just simply be you and your deficiencies in the manners Department. Of course picturing the congregation of this spirit filled hours of prayers and kabashing, one does not need to be told that the congregation would be made up of 99.9 % single women hoping to find partners.My question is, why are churches hammering on the whole single state?Yes it is alright if you hold talks and seminars where you advice and speak positively about being single and handling relationships in preparations for marriages and qualities you should look for in prospective partners, but in a situation where it now becomes the fault of a demon or the devil... that gets me asking many more questions.Is it fair to capitalise on people's thirst for salvation by making them slaves to certain situations?Has it ever occured to anyone that some people are single by choice because they have just not found the right person? I'll list some scenarios from personal experience and air my views from a woman's angle.

1- Imagine meeting a guy and on your first date you end up footing the bills for the meal!Or meeting this fellow in a bus who tries to chat you up and when its time to pay the bus fare, he pretends hes looking out of the window and then resumes his boring chat after you have paid your fare. Or is it those particularly irritating ones who see you at an eatry or supermarket and wait for you to finish paying for your stuff before inconviniencing you with the same boring pick up lines again? Pah!I agree that I am a hard working woman but for your information brother I am not working so hard to end up feeding you!and when you are insulted, you rave and rant that you are a man.Well many things like shame , self respect and dignity makes a man, my dear friend.I mean this should give you a clear picture of what that relationship or friendship is going to be like. Plain parasitic, with me as the host and you as the parasite. Well no woman wants to be around such a man!! You start by footing some bills and then we can start talking!

2- You are on a first date with a guy and he spends his time telling you how good in bed he is and how he enjoys great sex! Excuse me, I have known you for about 30 minutes and I actually thought a first date is for getting to know each other on basic terms and even if we need to talk about sex, I dont really need to know what a sick pervet you are, Thank you!

3- Over the years I have developed and obsession with washing my hands as soon as I get to work and every opportunity I get because some guys just think its okay to dip their hands in their trousers at every opportunity or grab their crotch or pee at the road side and decide to take a romantic walk with you hand in hand!What on earth happened to washing hands and appropriate behaviour in public spaces?

4- Cleanliness is next to Godliness.So whats with men who simply would not use deodorants or perfumes?I mean you do not need to buy an expensive one. The annoying thing with these group of guys is that they love body contact and would not stop hugging you or sitting so close!Or is it those with bad breath who love to whisper stinky nothings on your nostrils? And why wont some people just buy their clothes size?I hate it when you walk up to me looking like a clown in trousers that are obviously too short or shirts that are too tight.My instinctive reaction should be to burst out laughing but as the nice woman that I am, I just smile and say no thank you.Speak about total packaging!

5-Arrogance is another turn off. You start by asking that stupid question, "SO WHATS THE NAME?". The name of what? My dog or my cat? Would it kill you if you asked me nicely, WHAT IS YOUR NAME?I mean, I am an individual too.Then you just sit there and waste my precious time talking about YOU, YOU, YOU and oh- YOU again because you think the fact that you are wearing a TM Lewin shirt or Paul Smith T shirt and Gucci sun glasses spelt wrongly makes you the best thing that ever happened to the world of women? and expect me to feel honoured to be in your presence as you are doing me a big big favour? PULEEEZ

6- With infidelity and insincerity, I could kill. I mean you took vows at God's alter to love and be with your spouse for better for worse and here you are sitting in yout big car with your pot belly mercilessly pressing against your steering wheel and trying to make me understand that I am a big girl and would benefit a lot by associating with you! Yes I am big enough to actually give you a dirty look and walk away.Or you've been dating someone forever and after all the ups and downs you discover hes been lying to you all this while. Lies , lies , lies.... Or you have this guy who cliams hes really into you and he calls you like once in 6 months to tell you how much he misses you and blah blah blah.Txt mssgs cost about N15 if calls are too expensive for your cheap self.If you are not into me then just say so, why waste my time?

The list is endless.I am not saying that we women do not have our flaws too. Oh yes we do, with nagging all the time, hair extensions we carry for too long , two timing and all - but hey, we learnt from the masters of the game.I beleive some people actually choose to be single until they meet the right one and this decision should be understood and respected. What have evil spirits got to do with it? Is'nt
happiness and peace of mind important any more? In the case of "My Spouse Appear Now", I am totally lost for words as I have always assumed I should actually get to know the person first and there should be a connection before we take it to the next level? Standing at a voloptuous 5:11 in size and height do I have the right to say NO if I attend such a gathering and a 4ft pot bellied brother or a 45 year old jobless bachelor comes my way or could it just be the guidance of the spirit or something else?

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Gift of Life....

Ever heard the saying, "I wept because I had no shoes until I saw a man with no feet" ? Well as human beings there are situations we sometimes find ourselves in this journey called life and beleive its the worst of all situations and no one else has ever been in such.Well the interesting truth is, yours can never be the worst case or the first nor last there would be.Which is why we should always make it a habit to thank God for all situations.When I returned from Britain, I dreamt and prayed I would get a job in Abuja where I could drive to work in my nice car from the comfort of my Daddy's big house with tap water, a water heating system, water purifier, a standby generator, an in door gym, cable - and all the comforts you can think of.Fortunately and Unfortunately , I ended up getting an interesting job in Lagos and with a heavy heart, I packed my bags barely a month after my return from the land of the queen and relocated.I came to Lagos with many fears and assumptions and beleive me the first month wasn't easy.First was the filth, the rains, waking up early, rushing to catch the bus, the agression, the area boys , the crazy okadas and worst of all the accomodation.After searching for a decent and affordable place to stay for months while I was hanging at my uncle's place, I and my cousin finally found a mini flat. I still remember the day we went to inspect the place , I shook my head and said to my sister and cousin, "I dont like this filthy place and cant live here!".

Any way, I ended up moving in there with my cousin who is the same age as me and we did some serious work on the flat despite the environment.Even at that, we still grumble at the leaking roof and bath tub which the landlord has refused to fix and has caused us to turn our living room to a living room in the day and an emergency bedroom every night where we stretch out on my red (my favourite colour) rug with blankets to sleep.When we moved in there we had no chairs all we had was just the rug and the Television, until our neigbour moved out and gave us his blues chairs which nicely complemented my red rug!We pay the Hausa Abokis to fill our drums with water everyday as we have no flowing water, when NEPA strikes, we only have my torch light or candle light to give us light,I cant drive in this crazy town, so everyday I have to take an okada and a bus to and from work and as I love shoes and spend good money on them I cant afford to get them ruined by walking up and down these bad roads, well I have adapted to the Lagos style of carrying them in my tote bag and putting them on when I get to the office while I do my okadaing and bus chasing with comfy slippers!The gym closest to me is too far away , so I try to take brisk walks with my cousin some Saturday mornings to stay healthy. The last time we went for a walk, I took time to obeserve the little world around me.The rift between the rich and the poor and places people call home some are actually wooden shacks or zinc structres.I agree that I am very far away from the luxuries I am used to and have to endure the occasional frustrations I cant avoid, but you know what? It doesnt make me a lesser person than I have always been as I am still me and still surrounded by the little things and colours I love. Which does not mean, We are not looking for a better and cleaner place to live but I have learnt to appreciate God more and the little gifts of life because there are people out there who have never known better and might never have the opportunity. I am grateful for the gift of life and know that things would eventually fall into place. Its just a matter of time.....Please take a look at the environment some people call home...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

An Apology to Mr Devil....

For the strictly religious and traditionalists, the value and sacredness of virginty is undeniable. Over time some of these values which were once held in high esteem because they were the INSTRUCTIONS of the ALMIGHTY or the expectations of culture, have today been thrown to the dogs and in the gutters with premarital sex and adultery being the order of the day for some and the rise of a dying specie known as virgin brides. What I find most interesting is the fact that when most discussions on the values of virginity arise, the image that comes to mind is of women and not men. Why does the society hammer on the beauty of the virgin bride as the crowning glory of her husband and not the virgin man as the crowning glory of his wife? Why do some men pride themselves on the number of sexual partners they have had with some claiming to have lost count or even lying about it? Whereas women either tend to lessen the number, claim virginity or just remain silent about it? Why? Because decent women should not talk about such things and blah blah blah.Its bad enough that some women are circumsised as a way of protecting them from promiscuity.Yeah right.Just the other day a friend of mine was bragging about how she had kept herself for her husband and blah blah blah.Abeg, I simply said to myself, "Whatever you chose to do as a woman or man, do it for yourself and God as no human being is perfect and we are all bound to err.What if the person you KEPT yourself for cheats on you?"Then, you feel really bad because he/she does not appreciate your SACRIFICE.. Wouldnt it be very interesting if people came out to say things as they truly are?E.G Instead of an unmarried couple saying to the other, "lets make love.". I think, "Darling lets FORNICATE" would sound better.While for the married and their away matches, "Honey lets commit adultery." hehehehehe

I shake my head at some painful truths which the society does not bother to look into without bias. Truths like when a Married man cheats or beats up his wife , it is explained as the nature of men to be easily tempted by other women because they are weaker vessels or its the devil's fault that the wicked shameless man beat up the poor woman who is unfortunately not skilled in the art of self defence because if he knows she could defend herself with a few well targeted punches, beating her up would be the farthest thing from his mind! On the other hand when a woman gives in to temptation which we all encounter in our everyday existence she is called a whore! Why doesnt anyone ever bother to think or understand that maybe this poor woman found a little affection which she wasnt getting at home somewhere else? Or make the usual excuse for her too, "Na devil cause am?'.Picture this scenario, you see this nice looking, caring man with a six pack out there who is so nice to you and then remember the annoying pot belly of a man at home who doesnt appreciate your effort. Who no go fall? Body na firewood abi mind na Winch? . In unfortunate circumstances where a woman beats up her husband,even if he deserves it! The usual response is either, "the man is not a man" or "the woman has no respect!". Abeg whats the big deal in being beaten up by a woman, if shes stronger than you? Where I come from in Edo state, if you push your husband or beat him up, traditionally you have to kill a goat but if he beats you up you have to understand that he is a man!Back in the days in Benin we had a couple from my place who were always fighting and the man was always getting beaten up. I used to joke about the wife owning a goat farm where she just picks up a goat regularly and leave the rest to keep breeding knowing full well that if the man misbehaves again he'll get a good beating! hehehehe. On another occasion when I was living in Britain a white woman once asked me what our divorces were like and I simply replied, "Well from whatI know , the women simply get thrown out as I have never heard of any divorce settlements or alimony being paid to anyone". If una don hear make una let me know.PLEASE PARDON MY SARCASM but I am really not laughing here! I am indeed very sorry Mr Devil for all the false accusations laid on you because for once you are innocent in some of these matters!.

Well as I was saying before I veered off and got mischeivious like I always do. I talking about virginity.How far is too far? Does a virgin bride guarantee you a good wife? Why the stress on only women?Is it forbidden for men to be virgin grooms and why dont they proudly boast about it? In the course of my research, travels and photography, I have come across creams, soaps , liquids and all sorts for restoring virginity for women of course and I'm still wondering why some women go through all the stress? Just tell the truth girl, if he's not ok with it, then let him try the next shop! How come we dont have any of these products for restoring man's virginity? Once again pardon my sarcasm as na devil cause am - Oops i just remembered I'm supposed to be apologising to it ( wont say is a he or she so its safer with an it).Abeg no vex! Well all I have written here are not authority but stritly my opinion, check out some of these pictures...

Monday, 19 January 2009

Blinging In Balogun Market

Talk about Vanity! Nigerian women no dey take their blings play ooo.... Check out the variety and splash of colours. We sure do love to accessorise!The best part of it all is that these blings are very very affordable as they range from N100 -N1500.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Suya Spot Lagos

Interesting the way these Hausa men swiftly cut up the beaf, liver , kidney and gizzard.Attach them to sticks roast them over the fire, spice them with Yaji (a mix of dry pepper and other condiments I dont know, but hell it does taste nice !) , and onions and then wrap them all with your order in newspapers and hand it to you. e be like say the newspaper dey give the whole thing special flavour! hehehe.. Well you can find this place in Mende Maryland Lagos. Its called Suya Spot.People (mostly Ibo guys) hang out here with friends and enemies every evening to relax with suya and bottles of beer, stout and etcetera (for those who drink).I wouldnt reccommend the spot as an ideal place for a 1st date though (guy u gat to protect your rep na)!Its more like the kind of place you hang out with ze boiz or pals....

Chopping Fish In Abuja....

A good friend took me to this Interesting hang out to enjoy locally roasted fish and chips over the xmas break in Abuja.Forget the environment ooo. The fish is actually very affordable, well prepared and very tasty and you actually get to watch the women roast it over the fire while you wait.The fish is served in a tray with well chopped cabbage and tomatoe sauce and you enjoy the delicacy with your fingers..... Well I'm not a big fan of salad not prepared by me, so I just settled for the spiced fish. I also couldnt enjoy the sauce because it was peppery and I dont eat pepper, but I could tell from the expresion and seat on peoples faces and necks that they were really enjoying the fish and that also explained why the place was so full of people. We almost couldnt find seats!

Fat Thighs, Flabby Arms and a Pot Belly…

The tabloids and media today are swarmed with the images of celebrities either spotting the ideal bodies or those who need to work on their physical images to look the expected and accepted way (slim). Gyms and health spas today are a common sight as they are springing up in all corners of urban centres with imported diet tablets, herbal diet teas and other “healthy” meals and snacks which would help achieve this ideal image infesting our markets in the last decade. It is interesting to know that the modes of usage on some of these imported drugs are not even written in English! Not left out too are the traditional African herbal mixtures which also aid with weight loss.

It would be easy for one to assume that the concept of the beautiful African woman began with the younger and more “expressive” or “enlightened” generation that is gradually being blindfolded by western ideals. Yet, a deeper look by the more inquisitive mind however, would reveal that, which really was beautiful and ideal before the infiltration of our thoughts by western ideas, ideals and the rephrasing of terms for the beautifully voluptuous with words like “flabby, fat and etcetera.”

If the stick thin shadow of a woman of today, was ideal and appealing to the African man; why in the early days did the African man who was either a farmer, hunter or warrior look forward to coming home after a hard day to the warmth of his wife’s body? How do we explain the description of beautiful women in African literature? How also do we explain the undeniable high level of sexual energy generated by some of our very vigorous and sensual dance movements passed through generations and still in existence today? [2] Or the waist beads that adorned the thick waists of some of the maidens of old, our mothers, grandmothers and even some of our women today or voluptuous bodies once referred to as birthing bodies? Or even some of our present day popular hip up lyrics which says “shake what your mama gave you”?

Dance and Mate Selection……
The Makosa dance which originated from Cameroon, that has been made popular by our new generation musicians and the Mapouka dance, which to the closed minded is a vulgarization of the Makosa dance are very good examples of these sensual dances for the beautiful voluptuous African woman . It involves the movement of well rounded thighs and buttocks sensually which in later years men too have also adapted their way of dancing to the same rhythm. Interestingly, these dances are neither a recent development nor discovery. In some African cultures it was used as a practical means of mate selection for young men and women of the community and marriages built on such choices were believed to last the couples entire life time without any need for divorce! It is unfortunate that some of these dances in recent times are being judged by western or so called “moral” standards as being vulgar and indecent without much thought to the cultural relevance or reverence of the dance it self[3].

Our Waist Beads and Body Shape…..
Another phenomenon are waist beads. Why waist beads? These beads, traditionally worn by African women mostly around their waists (under clothes these days) and on the wrists or ankles in other cases have several meanings. The ones worn on the waists was held in place by the buttocks with its uses, ranging from enticing your husband, rites of passage, to healing and rejuvenation. Traditionally they were constructed in the “fattening houses” used as initiation lodges for young girls in the Old Kongo Empire. They were a symbol of the beginning of a young girl’s reproductive cycle and this was a rite of passage to the mysteries of womanhood. It was also a time of learning from the older women who linked the physical mystery of these beads to menses, courtship, sex and childbearing [4].

Since the art of self adornment has been practiced in Africa since the beginning of time, in Egypt, waist beads were uniforms for teenage girls ignoring any sexual nuance and they were called girdles. In Ghana, women believed that these beads helped achieve the hour glass figure and sexually stimulate their men just as some Islamic cultures allowed women wear these beads under their clothes also for a husband’s pleasure. In other parts of West Africa, women went as far as dipping their beads in scented oil or made them from fragrant material like sandalwood and wore them with tiny bells around their waist so that they jingled as they walked by. This signaled to the man that they were clean and ready. These days it is interesting to know that the waist beads of old are once again becoming more visible especially amongst the youth as our jeans are getting lower and lower and people are showing more skin [5][6]. The fit of these beads around the waist, is also used as a means of maintaining women’s body weight and figure, especially after childbirth, which simply shows that they were health and beauty conscious despite their large frames.

Birthing Bodies and Comfort For The Unborn….
The effect of dance and waist beads cannot be achieved without voluptuous bodies. This is not to say that slim women do not partake in the Makosa dance nor wear waist beads. Of course they do, but before the rave of the western ideal of what a beautiful woman (slim) should look like, flesh was in. This explains the Makosa mate selection dance which by a girl’s movement (shaking her ample bum, hips, belly or bosom) one could tell how good a wife she would be, also the fattening houses where young (skinny) girls were taken and taught about the intricacies of marriage (preparing their bodies for babies) and most importantly, pleasing their husbands and finally the waist beads. Since beads were mainly worn around the waist, women would require either a belly or a bum or both to hold these beads in place. A woman was also supposed to be not just a wife, mother and lover to her husband, she was also literarily supposed to provide warmth. This explained why men preferred women with “something” they could hold on to and why young wives to be were taken to fattening huts to prepare their bodies for the ability to provide a cushion effect (comfortable) for the unborn.

Celebrating Curves and Loving me…..
I sometimes find it interesting that some men still appreciate the well rounded built for comfort type of woman and not surprised at the image conscious ones, who still believe that people should either look or strive to look a certain way (slim) to be termed as beautiful and healthy. What then happens to those born with big frames who just can not be thin? Just the other day I was listening to the lyrics of the song “pot belly” by the South African Group known as Freshly Ground. The title of the song first caught my attention and I wondered what anyone would have to say about a pot belly and when I listened to it , I couldn’t help appreciating and smiling at the chorus which says , “Fat thighs , flabby arms and a pot belly still gives good loving….” . The truth is, I do not need to be thin or a shadow of myself for the society to accept me as healthy or beautiful. In the midst of all this hogwash of what is and what the society thinks should be, it is important to note that we are beautiful just the way we are and that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder with a big heart and mind. I’ll just stand here confident, strong and healthy and celebrate my curves for I know I am beautiful.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Okrika / Bend Down Select Lingerie

It is really interesting how the second hand industry popularly known as okrika, bend down select and many other names is growing. Initially it used to be just cloths and shoes but of recent , theres a growth in the patronage of fairly used lingerie. Here you can buy Marks & Spencer, Christian Dior, La Senza's, Bravissmo and other notable designer labels at very affordable prices. With as little as N1000 you can buy between 3 or 4 articles of sexiness.As a result of increased patronage, dealers in these sexy articles of clothing are raising their prices.Patronage ranges from the upper class to the lower class and from Aje Kpakos to Ajebutters. Most of the ladies I spoke with said , with bend down lingerie, you get broader variety and its not common to find two patterns that are exactly the same.

When I inquired about personal hygeine and the posibility of contacting infections, they just laughed and simply expleined to me that when these precious goods are purchased, you simply soak them in warm water and detergent. Wash and dry as this kills any bacteria lurking any where. Some of the lingerie I looked at , still had brand new tags on them which without prove could mean they had never been worn and some others had tags of different charities abroad, which makes me wonder how the goods meant for charity where diverted to " For Profit" purpose? Well that is not for me to investigate as e no concern me ...

Take a walk down the boulevard of bend down select with me...

Friday, 31 October 2008

Judge Not..( ashawo na work....)

In my line of work, I come across all sorts and as a writer and researcher with an interesrt in gender issues, I keep loving my job as the days go by.I find field work most exciting, as here I am out there talking one on one, eye ball to eye ball,sometimes touching and also feeling with people who are my greatest interest.Commercial sex is an area of work I find interesting and my curiousity thirts for knowledge about the motivating factors and how these women got into this line of work , known to Nigerians as "Ashawo work". Have they chosen this line of work because they are bad people, simply immoral or is it "what I strongly beleive" a means to an end?

I set out with a colleague,Bukky early in the morning for our destination and the first thing that struck me as an individual was that when we got to the area (I have chosen not to mention the location) and started asking for the brothel by its name (i.e. the name boldly written on its fence) no one seemed to know the place. Then Bukky asked a few other people if they knew where we could find the brothel where ashawos , hang out. As soon as she said this, most of the young men we asked seemed to now know and give us precise directions!

A gutter runs past the entrance of the brothel and on entering the compound, you see young ladies going about their chores like every young normal lady. Some are washing, some cooking while others are on their way to the market. My companion informs the manager about our mission before we start talking to the girls who are at first very skeptical as they are not sure of our mission. I made it clear to them that I was not there to judge them but hear their story. In the end only five of the girls were willing to speak to us.

Bukky informed the manager about our mission before we start talking to the girls who are at first very skeptical as they are not sure of my mission. As Bukky is a familiar face, I had to make it clear to them that I was not there to judge them but hear their story. In the end five of the girls gave their consent and were willing to have a chat with us .

* Sandra
Sandra hummed a gospel tune as she invited us into her small cubicle. It contained a small bed, a TV with two bibles carefully placed on it. I sat on the bed while Bukky stood in the only available space which was by the door. Sandra is from the South and was brought to Lagos by a friend 2 years ago promising to get her a job in a restaurant but ended up introducing her to sex work. Poor conditions pushed her into selling sex for money which has paid her way through a fashion designing program which she hopes to take up as soon as she can save up enough money to rent her own shop and buy a sewing machine. When asked if she saw sex work as a long term profession, she explained that it was something she was doing to make ends meet after which she would stop because she saw it as a dirty job she hates. She does not attach any emotions to her job which according the her was one of the reasons she has refused to have a boyfriend as there is no possibility of falling in love with any of her clients. She was just there to make money. Her low points of the job was the little money paid for her service by some clients after bargaining against her initial price and some aggressive clients who fought her. In such situations, the manager usually called the police and had these men arrested She had no choice but to tolerate and accept the fact that not all clients will be well behaved as it wasn’t an industry she was not forced into and she had the option to leave now if she couldn’t stand the ill treatment.. Healthwise, she protects herself by using condoms with all her clients and going for monthly medical checkup so she has no health fears of contracting any STIs or HIV. She has chosen to stay single for now because she believes that, “the men you meet in a place like this are just out to use you (opportunists) and move on. They are not ready to take on any responsibilities”.
Harriet’s cubicle has a picture of her younger siblings hanging on her wall. She was brought to Lagos from the South where she was schooling by a close friend to learn hair dressing which she never did. Now as a sex worker, she sends money home to help pay her brother’s secondary school fees and her parents’ upkeep. Her mother knows she’s a sex worker. In her words, “Any time I visit home my mother never wants me to return to this city. She always begs me to stay back.”. This is her only source of income as she has no other skills and despite her mother’s disapproval, she still accepts the money she makes from the trade.

Starring at us with eyes full of distrust. She describes her job for the past 1year and 3 months as hustling to make ends meet and at the same time pay her brother’s way through the polytechnic . She has a boyfriend, but he like others, has no idea of her profession. When asked if she would have sex with a client without a condom for triple her usual charge , she exclaimed, “Who wants to die?”. when asked how she felt and if any thing could be done to make the conditions of sex workers better, she said, “ I am suffering here and there is nothing any body can do about it. if I get a better option I would leave the sex trade.”
The signs at the entrance to her cubicle caught our attention as one of them read, “use condom”. She seemed educated as her command of language and general conversation was very good. A mother of two, for her it wasn’t a case of being deceived or tricked into the trade and she was here to hustle because she had responsibilities. With the money she makes from here, she sponsors her younger siblings and her two children who live with their father. She would like to learn a trade depending on what it was as long as the training would not take too much of her time or a very long period to master. Her high point of the job is the financial reward at the end of the day as the lowest amount she makes a day is about N2000. Her low points, was the starting rate of N300 - N400 for services which she felt is very low. For her this was just a job to make money and not a place to bond or make friends. Health wise , she said, “Only God protects. Despite the fact that I strictly insist on the use of condoms, sometimes insisting clients use up to two or four at once , there are situations where the condoms bursts open. So only God protects”. When asked if she would have sex without a condom for a higher amount , she said no, instead when she met such clients, she didn’t mind spending time trying to educate and convince them about the advantages of using a condom. “Excellent client service and manner of approach are very important in this business. I have been accused of using juju due to the fact that my clients keep coming back for my services”. She had encountered an aggressive client only once and that was at the beginning. “I charged the man, N400 as he wanted “ short rest”. After his time was up, I asked him to get off me as I was tired. He got angry and asked for his money back that since he didn’t ejaculate, he hadn’t gotten what he paid for. When I refused he started fighting me, in the end, at the instruction of the manager, I had return his money.”

At twenty seven was married and a mother of two. In her words , “I am here for a purpose.” Her husband did not treat her well as a full time housewife. As she had no regular income she was financially dependent on him. His attitude made her take a “bold step” of making money for her self as no one was willing to help her financially. She left her children last year with her mother in law (she still visits them from time to time ) and since she had no capital to start a provision business as she would have loved to, she went into sex work where she charges between N500 to N5000, depending on the services required by the client. She believes that as a woman she should be able to buy herself basic things and also provide for her children.

She was trying to save up some money to start a provision business. “Customer service in this business is very important and that is what I give my clients, which is why I have never had any problems with any clients or encountered aggressive or abusive clients”. She says getting into fights is not worth it because she might get injured and at the end of the day spend the money given to her by them in treating herself, so fighting is a waste of her time .She is aware of Sexually Transmitted Infections and other diseases as her motto is “Prevention is better than cure”. Apart from STIs, she said, sex was not the only way through which HIV could be contracted, blades, needles and other sharp objects which could pierce the skin could also transfer these infections. She doesn’t share blades and needles. She uses a condom with all her clients as it would help prevent unwanted pregnancies and infections. Her high points of her job is her financial independence. She believes that where there is life there is hope as her feelings towards her job are ambivalent as she does it to make ends meet. Put in her words “I am not comfortable with it but I am comfortable” .The government could help by providing loans through microfinance banks to help people who are willing to be helped because there are people who actually enjoy sex work and are not ready to leave but if she if offered alternatives, she would gladly leave.

My opinion....
The outside picture of the sex trade is quite different from the inside, as was revealed by our chat. Some assume that women in this industry are immoral and carefree, which in some cases is not always true. What is important to note is the fact that, the desire to escape poverty and its pressures in our society is inevitable and as a result some women, have been forced to sell sex for money so they can fend for family and personal needs. The girls I met here are not different from the general population. Most important is the fact that they are very concerned about their health and well being and also their families. Most interesting is the fact that some of them actually do care about their spirituality too.

Accra Ghana by Road

It all began on Friday. I made up my mind late and then hurried over to ABC to get my ticket to the Gold Coast by 12am. I actually felt lucky when I was offered a choice of two seats until I was actually told where the seats were!!
"Madam", said the man politely, "The two seats are located infront of the toilet and beside the toilet. Which would you prefer?"
I just stood there dumbfounded.It was bad enough that I was going to seat for hours in a bus as I hated road travel and was proudly being a cheap skate by taking the bus and now I have to sit by the toilet??Well I had no choice, so I chose the seat in front of the toilet , as I felt it would be better to have the toilet behind me than beside me.

I ended up seating beside the toilet but thank goodness it was by the window as if otherwise, I would have had to be an emergency toilet attendant through out the journey as most of the passangers didnt seem to understand the working of the door...It was very comforting when a Pastor commited our journey into the hands of the Almighty with prayers and songs of worship but worse when the bus attendant announced that the toilets were only for urinating on a 12hr journey with just a few stops!!(I'LL GIST U MORE SOON...)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

I am sooo My Hair...

My hair is very important to me as it is a reflection of how i feel inside.As it is naturally grey I am content and when I feel red , purple, blonde or whatever colour it may be, my hair changes too.If this is who I am whats the big deal? If these extensions are sold in the market that means people are actually expected to buy them, so why do I get judgemental stares when I walk by with my beautiful coloured hair? Why wont people just ask me why my hair is the colour it is at any given time and give me the chance to either be rude or simply explain?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Ikorodu road...

This is the crazy route I take to work, anytime I am working in Lagos, even though I work here most times, sometimes I wish I could be some where I could at least drive myself around.I cant help but marvel at the different activities that take place on this long stretch.Every day as my danfo eats up the distance to my office and I'm squeezed between body smells and noise,I constantly remind myself that no two days are ever the same here, from the filth and stench, to the reckless drivers, the bus conductors and area boys who seem to be permanently high on something illegal perched like hawks on buses,the beggers in the traffic, the magazine and newspaper hawkers, the gala and plantain chips boys, the Hausa boys selling irish potatoes and friend rice vegetables ( yes oo) and not left out are the hawkers who sell household utensils and other basic household amenities in the traffic close to St Agnes Catholic Church. Activities on the two sides of the road are different with the only constant being the LATSMA and occasional police men. Not Left out is the glorifying BRT lanes with their large blue and red buses,which are a pictoral representation of the late Fela Anikpulapo's song "suffering and smiling" with 50 sitting and 100 standing!! Even after making the already small roads smaller by creating a coprridor for them with concrete demarcators, these large leviethans still choose to squeeze onto the small lanes with regular vehicles.

Ironically this is actually the only time I find to read my favourite magazines and listen to music with my ear phones as I try to shut the craziness out on this therapeutic morning ride as I try to subconsiously aborb the craziness which is the adrenalin to start my day.

Despite the odds and having lived on British soil for a few years, I still love Nigeria which is and would always be home as here I am actually in touch with reality and for my career theres no better place than to be face to face with the problems at hand... abeg I don tire FOR NOW oo. Most of my talking here would be done in pictures.(I'LL GIST U MORE LATER)