Ibinabo’s jail term: The Law vs My thoughts

There has been a lot in the news lately about Nollywood actress Ibinabo Fiberesima and her 5 year jail term. I read about it for the first time here. I’ve been filled with nothing but pity for her since I heard about the court verdict. A few days ago, her first son Sean penned an open letter to Nigerians saying his mom needs our prayers and support. Being the emotional nut that i often am, i cried was sad after reading the letter. Please don’t ask me about the incoherencies in some of the ‘facts’ he stated. Don’t ask me why he says his mom was in a coma when eye-witness reports say she fled the scene of the incidence and ‘tried to tamper with evidence’. Don’t ask me what it means to tamper with evidence. That phrase could only flow off the tongues of the self-acclaimed intelligent bunch we call lawyers.

I admire lawyers. I’ve always been intrigued by the practice of law. I remember as a child, the nerd in me would wait all week for my dad to bring home the Tuesday papers just so I could go through the articles in the law section. I moved on to binge-reading John Grisham’s novels which usually had a plot centered around the life of a young lawyer. Till date, one of the best compositions I’ve ever read is one in my high school English language textbook titled “the law is an ass”. I’ve even gone as far as attending mock trials. I have great respect for anyone who can lay aside sentiments and oftentimes a conscience when passing judgement.

Back to Ibinabo’s case. Firstly there is what the law has said- a 5 year jail term. Secondly there are those of the school of thought that the judgement is too lenient because she hasn’t been “sober enough” in the 10 years since the incidence. I really wonder who made us judges of someone else’s sobriety. I wonder what the S.I unit for sobriety is. Thirdly there are my fellow emotional brethren who would always let sentiments becloud their sense of judgement and would rather Ibinabo and the family of the deceased settle the case out of court.

Fourtly there is Iember. I don’t know where i stand on this one. One minute I’m thinking we could never have a sane society if the law isn’t enforced, and the next minute I’m thinking what would become of her kids if their mom ends up in jail? I hear her youngest child is 8. She would be 13 when her mom is out of jail. The time between ages 8 and 13 are some of the most impressionable years in a girls life. Should an 8 year old girl be deprived of her mom for 5 years? It’s sad just thinking about it, but I guess when it comes to the law, justice overrules feelings.

Will this jail term give the family of the deceased doctor the much-needed closure? I wish I knew. Would I pursue justice if a loved one was knocked down by a reckless driver knowing well that nothing will bring them back to life? I don’t know, I really don’t know.

Is the 5 year jail term enough to pacify those who say Ibinabo hasn’t acted ‘sober enough’? Once again I wish I knew what the SI unit for sobriety is. By the way, I think a 5 year jail term should be the punishment for jumping queues. That has got to be my greatest pet peeve! Why won’t people just wait their turns? But I digress. But wait, I need a minute to rant on this issue of jumping queues. That thing dey vex me! Why can’t we be orderly? Why didn’t you set out earlier if you’re in such a hurry? Are the rest of us on the queue there to play? End of rant. Back to the matter.

What’s your take on Ibinabo and the jail term? I can’t seem to take a stand. I’d just sit on the fence and await your reactions.

No, I.G is not my real name…

Away from the daily depreciation of the Naira, Dasukigate and other pressing issues, it’s amazing how the Germans in my office pronounce my name better than most Nigerians. After one or two attempts, they get it and it sticks. I tell a fellow Nigerian my name and the usual response is; “Don’t you have an English name?”. No I don’t, I don’t even have a middle name. No, Joy isn’t my middle name, it’s the meaning of my name. No I don’t know why the name starts with 2 consecutive vowels, ask an Ian that also. No, it’s not pronounced the way it is spelled. No, I don’t know what Gavar means, I doubt that my dad does. Yes, it’s a Nigerian name.

I grew up in Benue thinking Iember was a common name till I got sent off to University in Zaria, Northern Nigeria. Then the ‘murder’ of my name began. I cringed whenever an attendance list was called out during classes. Anytime it got to the name before mine, my classmates would prepare for a bout of laughter. I got called everything from Lemba to Lambey. I can’t fathom why the ‘I’ was always replaced with an L. I got tired of correcting people, and made do with being called I.G. Maybe that would explain why I went from the noisy naughty person i was in secondary school to somewhat of a recluse in university. I hated social situations where I’d have to introduce myself. I hated the questions that followed whenever I said my name. My friend Tola told everyone who cared to listen that I was from Congo. Very silly girl, that Tola. 8 years later and I left Zaria with an MSc certificate that reads ‘Lember Cava’ instead of ‘Iember Gavar’. How this error came about is simply beyond me. Thank God for court affidavits.

I lived and worked in Lagos for a bit after university. It was there that I heard for the first time that my name sounded exotic. Lagosians and their love for the term exotic though… That’s a topic for another day. I remember going for a job interview while I was there and the interviewer told me when my name was given to him, he expected a Dutch guy. I laughed at his ‘joke’, but what I really wanted to say was “Sorry dude, Tiv babe coming your way.”

Tiv names and their funny spellings though. My friend Zainab has this Tiv neighbor, Kwaghter pronounced Kwaa-tay, or something close to that. Zainab got home one day and met a note from her neighbor. She immediately called Kwaghter over the phone with so much urgency in her voice that Kwaghter started to panic.

“Hello, Kwaghter!” 
“Hi Zainab. Is everything alright? You sound worried. Did you get my note?”
“Yes, that’s why I’m calling.”
“Hello, Zainab are you still there?”
“Yes. Your name  has G.H.T in the spelling!?  Kwaghter, why in God’s name are there three consecutive consonants in your name!?” 

No, it wasn’t the note that bothered my dear friend. I doubt that she even read the note. It was the spelling of Kwaghter’s name that was the issue. I’m surrounded by dramatic friends. I truly am.

Away from my dramatic friend, i wonder if my name really is so difficult to pronounce. I understand if you get it wrong when it’s written down, but if i say it out, by all means please make an effort to pronounce it instead of asking cynical fulani questions especially when you’re as much Nigerian as i am. We can’t all be Bose or Mary or Emmanuel or Ada or Halima.

Anyhoo, this is part rant and part shout out to my fellow Nigerians who like me may never find their names on a coke bottle with not-so-common names. We love our names all the same.

Of ghosts of erstwhile lovers (1)

I’ve always been your easygoing girl-next-door kinda girl. Lazy some say, but let’s just say I have a wide comfort zone ; ). One of the perks of being laid-back was that i never really had the drive to pick a fight or be mistrustful of other people. I found those things energy-draining. Whenever people made statements like ‘don’t trust anyone’, I felt they came from another planet.
Fast-forward almost three decades into her life, and your girl-next-door has ‘hired’ a friend to help investigate her new ‘love interest’. When did I become this person that gets a panic attack because someone saw someone in her man’s car? Hey, before you judge me, let me give you a background story.
The first blow life dealt me in the area of trust was subtle but numbing. It was sometime in 2011, during my NYSC. Orientation camp was thick with ‘relationship fever’. Every girl wanted a boyfriend. Single girls, married girls alike. For the guys, it seemed they all had a common goal; to get in between as many thighs as possible in the three weeks that camp lasted. As for me, I wanted no part in all that frenzy, I hated every minute of camp! I couldn’t get past the dirty toilets, the boring lectures, the endless military-style marching, oh the endless marching! And don’t even get me started on the ‘illiterate graduates’. Grammatical errors flew left, right, centre like missiles during a war. What sort of graduates are our Nigerian Universities churning out? My heart bleeds for our education system. But I digress.
How I met this guy on camp, I honestly do not remember. Was he in my platoon? Did I randomly bump into him? Did I see him with a book and ask to look at it? It seems my brain simply refused to store that memory. Anyway let’s call him Johnny. He came around and warmed his way into my heart. Suddenly camp didn’t seem so bad after all. I even started to catch the relationship bug, but I had a criteria any potential ‘camp boyfriend’ must meet; it’s either he schooled abroad or he had a Masters degree. Why? Just because.
Johnny schooled in Malaysia, so even with his not-so-good English laced with misplaced Ls and Rs, I entertained his presence. We remained friends even after camp, and started to date a few months after we met. I wasn’t in love with him, but his persistence won me over. My instinct told me I had no business dating him, but I always told myself I was single and bored, so I stood to lose nothing. Little did I know i was setting myself up for the seed of mistrust to be sown in my life. I should have listened.
Things went well with Johnny. There were occasional dates and visits. I went with him to his church most Sundays. After every service I would throw a tantrum on our way home, but the next Sunday, yours truly will get dressed again and wait for Johnny to come pick her up. You see, it was a few months to the 2011 general elections and I found services in Johnny’s church rather political. Every service felt like being present at the manifesto of a political party. In retrospect I wonder if my tantrums were justified. But once again I digress.
My cousins and friends liked Johnny. It was hard not to like him, with his calm endearing nature and all. I never really nursed thoughts of him being ‘the one’, but I got very comfortable with him. Comfortable until a certain name ‘Joyce’ started appearing too frequently on his phone. Comfortable until I noticed his phone was always on silent mode when I was around. Comfortable until I noticed Johnny’s phone that usually lay carelessly around his living room was now always hidden in his pocket. I decided to do some investigation on his Facebook profile, and I was able to match the name to a face. I confronted him, and was told some cock-and-bull story. Naive as I was, I believed him.
I got to work early one beautiful Wednesday morning and decided to browse through my Facebook page while I waited for my colleagues to arrive. The first thing I saw on my timeline were photos Johnny had put up of himself and Joyce hand in hand, with that smirk typical of new lovers plastered on their faces. Wow, i certainly didn’t see that coming. STRIKE ONE!
I moved on after Johnny, met and fell in love with this amazing guy, Uzo. He was the perfect gentleman, mature, and did I mention tall, dark and handsome? We had our little disagreements of course, but these were nothing to be compared to the good times. It should have been the perfect relationship. Perfect if I wasn’t constantly nursing the fear that someday Uzo would pull a ‘Johnny’ on me. Uzo handled my mistrust with a lot of maturity, and we got along fine till I got a job elsewhere and had to move to a new location. Neither of us put in enough effort to make our long-distance relationship work, and we eventually drifted apart.
I moved on with my life, new city, new job, new toasters; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the dude that dealt me STRIKE TWO! He belonged in a category of his own. Let’s call him Abel. Ah, where do I start from with this one!?
Our meeting was boy meets girl at the bus stop, they connect instantly, share a cab, and then…
To be continued… una too like gist
DISCLAIMER: This may or may not be fiction…

Of Wedding colors and Bridal train brouhaha…

I love weddings, I really do. What’s not to love? I absolutely cherish the look on the groom’s face when he first sights his bride walking in. While everyone else is up and fixated on the bride, I’m busy studying the groom’s expression. Yes, I’m eccentric like that. For me, that look never gets old. I love the exchange of vows and all the emotions that come with it, especially when the couple writes their own vows. Read More

Of Lagos Danfo Drivers, Abuja Cabbies and Iya Bose

Moving to Lagos in 2010 for my compulsory National Youth Service came with a huge dose of culture shock, having done Primary School in Benue, Secondary School in Plateau State and University in Zaria. Everything fascinated me; The seemingly seamless stretches of water, the fast-paced nature of the city, the strong commercial presence, the crowd, the way fights broke out spontaneously and insults were hurled out so easily, that awful stench that lingered everywhere from the backstreets of Ebuta Meta to the posh parts of Ikoyi, the yellow ‘danfo’ buses that literally drove bumper-to-bumper.

Bus rides were an exciting part of my stay in Lagos even though I didn’t care much for the sweaty bodies that pressed against mine in the crowded buses or the way the bus conductor shouted abruptly at every bus stop, leaving me with palpitations. The names of bus stops in Lagos usually left me amused- Oshodi-Oke and Oshodi-Isale (which i never got right till I left), Transformer, Century, all sorts of unlikely names, even Cemetery. Uncomfortable as the rides were, I relished the opportunity to watch and study people; the careless drivers, the aggressive bus conductors, the impatient passengers, the drug peddlers who always had that one miracle drug that could cure everything from cancer to a heartbreak. The most amusing passengers were the religious preachers. These ones seemed to have a similar calling to declare an eternity of fire and brimstone for all fornicators and knew it was time to collect an offering when they had successfully manipulated the passengers into feeling guilty. The drivers particularly amazed me, with time i came to look at their recklessness as simply a survival instinct.

I moved to Abuja in January 2012, and it felt like I had lived in Lagos all my life. Every thing seemed so different. Everything except that reckless attitude of commercial drivers, especially the cabbies. This recklessness seems so out of place in Abuja with its wide paved roads, bright lights and easy-going populace. Four years later and I have come to the conclusion (true or not) that it’s the same danfo drivers in Lagos who moved here to become cab drivers. I however won’t make an excuse for the Abuja cabbies like I did the Lagos danfo drivers. Here, It’s beyond a survival instinct. It seems they are simply on a mission to frustrate me to tears every morning.

Have you ever questioned if the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is manifest in your life? Just visit Abuja for a week and drive around or commute by taxi.
Abuja taxi drivers will test your patience and self control! They will make you question your love walk. I can assure you the week won’t pass by without one ‘along’ driver making an abrupt stop right in front of your moving car because he sees a potential passenger. Yes, the 50 Naira he’s about to make is more important to him than your life.

Then the old Yoruba cabbies? Ah, they will test your gentleness! Those ones understand English perfectly till you guys get lost or it’s time to pay, then all he understands is Yoruba. The younger Yoruba cabbies aren’t as annoying as their fathers. But i must warn you that those ones have to make a stop at ‘Iya Bose’s’ to ‘make change‘ and have a quick shot of agbo, especially those mornings when you’re late for work or an appointment. By the way I noticed that the Iya Bose around the corner from us now sells ‘kpomo‘ in addition to the agbo… But I digress

What have been your experiences like with the cabbies and bus drivers? What has been the greatest test of your patience with these guys?