Micah Stephen: AFRICA AND KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION (2)

 “Before political subjugation comes intellectual subordination”-Tataalo Alamu, Invention Of African Intellectual Tradition, The Nation Newspapers, November, 2011.

Everything was created from a thought, including nations. Success and failure are most often products of what was executed from thoughts. The question is, was Nigeria and indeed Africa a badly conceived idea or a badly executed one? This question begets many answers. But I dare say Nigeria, nay Africa, was a well conceived and well executed idea, as a colonial plantain plantation. But an economic plantation cannot be transformed into a viable political nation overnight. It must be done with persistent, coherent and committed intellectual exertion.

As I continue from where I drew the curtains last week, I shall attempt to link scarcity of knowledge in the evolution of our nation to our misadventure. Herein lies a caveat, in attempting this arduous task, I may dabble too much into our problems more than focusing on the topic of knowledge production. I apologize in advance as it will not be deliberate. As I have said previously, writing is a writhing task especially when you try to isolate and extricate one problem from another in Nigeria.

I believe the mind is a vacuum; an open book. Every man was born tabula rasa. It remains that way until experience comes to play as man grapples with the extant realities of his environment. This is why nations with ambition, try to isolate the mind of their people and impel them to think in terms of productivity, creativity and innovation. The mind is such a big thing to trifle with. I make a biblical detour as I try to expatiate. When God created Adam, rather, after God created Adam, he left the job of “sub-creation” to him. Adam had to use his intuition to give names to all animals, plants etc, such that they still the names we call these things, language variation notwithstanding. Adam used his skull to perform his tasks. God created man, with the intuition to grapple with his realities and engage his circumstances with scientific precision. God will not do for man, what He has created man to do for himself. You can pray for His inspiration and guidance in directing your affairs, but you do not expect Him to put food on your table, provide your shelter and govern your state. God created us to create something.  gods don’t build nations, people do. Wealth creation and national liberation can hardly be accomplished without productivity. Productivity can only be increased via the window of knowledge. For instance, less than 1% of the American population feeds the over 300 million Americans and other nations. They have taken advantage of the unquantifiable potentials of the human mind to navigate their way to the summit of human affirmation and dominance. Nigeria cannot even feed itself. Africa, lacking in knowledge, depends entirely on commodities. We rather export cocoa than chocolate, oranges than juice, cassava rather than ethanol etc. you cannot sustain a nation on commodities in this era. We import finished products, and export jobs. Again, this was the objective of the imperialists. This was the reason why colonialism happened and why Africa was created in the first place. We have continued to own fidelity to this founding charter. We produce raw materials, export them, they are returned as finished products. Our leather becomes their shoes, our cocoa becomes their chocolate, we are still the slave plantation and they are still the slave holders.

Lack of knowledge production is the reason why we lack ambition as a nation. You cannot overcome what you do not despise. This is why we still use hoe and cutlass to farm and we expect these to feed a nation of almost 200 million. We generate lesser electricity than Paris, Germany with a population of 80 million generates more than 300, 000 Megawatts of electricity, while we are struggling to keep ours at 3,000 Megawatts. We leave policing to the centre and expect the centre to understand that the topography of Buguma is not the same as Kafanchan. We still use hammer to crush stones, camels to carry goods yet our engineers are gainfully employed in banks! In fact our leaders visit dibias to proffer solutions to economic crisis. Some governors have even attributed our economic woes to divine orchestration. Vain religiousity cannot take the place of detailed perspicacity. Thoughtlessness should not be mistaken for godliness. God is too big to be reduced to such vanity. Abdication of what is a primary responsibility cannot be redressed by patronizing God’s sovereignty. It is a futile effort.

The challenges that has bedeviled our generation, bogged down to clear this debris of acute ethnicity, wholesale butchery, internecine wars definitive of our continent are staggering. But it is only when we appreciate the roots of our problems that we can prescribe solutions. What we see in the form of corruption, nepotism, stark inhumanity on our continent is the manifestation of what is a deeper malady. We should not mistake the symptoms for the disease. A faulty premise begets a faulty conclusion. Embedded in the faulty answer is the faulty question. A bad diagnosis attracts a wrong remedy. The question, dear readers, is not why we have these effects, but what is the cause of these realities? The problems I dare say are the inability to achieve elite consensus even at the most minimal level and knowledge production. Most other problems are outgrowths of these two. While the first is crucial, the second is to me more fundamental.  Our people currently find it had to grapple with realities. Like I earlier stated, the mind is a vacuum which must be filled either by knowledge or ignorance. Once the latter occurs, the human is in darkness with no hope of emancipation. What is begotten is irresponsible leadership which has led to the capitulation of many states in Africa. There is therefore an urgent need to anchor national evolution on knowledge production and elite consensus. Now, by knowledge production, I do not mean being credentialed or certificated as is our wont, which hardly refines the human mind. I do not propose the regurgitation of 19th century syllabus as is our culture. It is of great danger to the nation to the “miseducated” than the ignorant. The miseducated does not know that he does not know. I am talking of the type that will stimulate the mind towards articulating sound solutions for the liberation, management and preservation of our continent. Africa will always lag behind if she does not transform herself with knowledge. The “trade ahead of aid” slogan bandied about by our leaders is not inspired by an aforethought economic plan, coherent policy formulation, educational roadmap that will power such motive, but it is chaired by  people who are neither partakers nor believers in the vision they profess. It is difficult to see how a Pierre Nguruziza will entrench sound political principles and economic master plan that will liberate Burundians. His immediate concern is Bujumbura, the seat of power.

A senior friend and mentor, asked on twitter, if anybody could articulate the Nigerian dream. Yours sincerely replied, with caustic relish, that I could articulate the Nigerian nightmare. In one fell swoop, there was a summary summation and dismemberment of a shared contradiction and circumstance. He, an evolving administrator (he was unarguably the best student leader of his time; the most innovative, creative and articulate faculty president in his time at the University of Ibadan), must have been miffed and agitated by his inability to comprehend Nigeria, Africa and their litany of problems. As a faculty president, he ensured he had an elite consensus and executed his many programmes using the best of human resources the faculty of law U.I could offer. It is therefore heart renting to see what was successfully done at the micro level of a university with a community as diverse as U.I’s, being difficult to achieve at the national level. I share his anguish and exasperation. Our anger is not directed at a dead past, but a dying future. Our generation seems distracted rather than surefooted. We are yet to extricate ourselves from the mindlessness of yesterday. We are being good sons of our fathers. This concern is even exacerbated by PMB’s second coming which is crumbling and a far cry from the messianic encore we had envisioned it to be.

At this juncture, I must say, we do not need anybody to tell us of our horrible state when the food we eat, the cloth we wear, the movies we see, our leisure, our history, our identity, legal system, our drugs, are given to us by nations who in the name of “common humanity” and globalization will prefer us bound to their apron strings. This is the reason for the epigraph at the beginning of this article. We need an urgent national rebirth.

As I conclude, my question is what is our expectation from governance? How do we expect our nation to be for ourselves and our children? Our answers will be the core of our consideration as we make our decisions in 2019. Our reality cannot be bigger than our expectation. As alliances are being forged ahead of the elections in 2019 over sticks of suya and cups of palmwine, will merit and knowledge play a pivotal role in 2019 or our pockets and ethno-religious solidarity? Our misbegotten past is going to be our future, if we embark on the same path as our fore fathers. For Nigeria to emerge as the unique torch bearer of the emancipation of the black race, it must ensure that knowledge guides its deliberations and policy articulation. Without knowledge production, we cannot be a worthy contemporary in the league of nations with high cerebral power. After all, only the deep can call to the deep.

Epilogue

Thomas Paine, the redoubtable campaigner against imperialism, in his treatise “Age of Reason” insisted that man should be the ultimate decider of his own fate since he has been empowered by God with the capacity for such assignment. Yours sincerely may not share in every piece of his stipulations but he undoubtedly was an enigma. As an ardent student of philosophy, history and an avid reader of Obafemi Awolowo’s philosophy, policies and postulations, I shall make concerted effort at critiquing Awo’s vision for national actualization and development. It is also important to see how Awo tried to establish a nexus between micro nationalism (tribe) and macro-nationalism (nation). We shall espouse Awo’s understanding of man and his roles and how this structured his policy formulation, articulation and implementation; his famous policy being the free education programme. It is an attempt to project his thoughts and not his person lest we engage in mindless ethnically induced polemics. Till then, adios!!!!!

 

Micah Stephen, combines his love for law with a deep appreciation of history and classical studies. He considers himself to be an admixture of a lawyer, classicist, historian and entrepreneur.

 

Micah Stephen: Africa and Knowledge Production

“for a mind that knows is a mind that is free………” Unibadan Anthem

Writing is such a costly and exerting endeavour. Out of the abundance of the mind, the hand writeth. The writer at crucial times faces the challenges of paucity of events that rightly catch his fancy or a ridiculous surplusage or torrents of issues to battle. He either sets at dawn or he gets smacked down. Cerebral Achebe felt that it is the job of a writer to engage in a bit of activism, not to just be there, to partake in his own little way as his nation battles with the crisis of self-actualization or self-immolation. He must be the gauge of a collective conscience. The writer must engage his reality head on, not just drag the audience along the road of fantastic presentation and representations, but he must address and redress the immediate concern of his environment. Writing is “righting”. In Africa, there are too many wrongs to right. This is why writing is writhing to the African writer.

Something is inherently different about Africa. If evolution were true, it is either the black man evolved prematurely or evolved differently. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution deserves a revisit. What is referred to as Africa must be recognized as a tapestry of European settlements. It is hardly an apt description of a group of people as they had always been. Africa is a product of alien bargaining not native consensus. It was first alienated, emasculated, mutilated and then delineated over bottles of scotch at the Berlin |Conference of 1885. Licenses and assignments were created in favour of interested merchants, hardly by any beneficial owner. It was the first classic case of giving what one does not have; mortgages were granted colonial slave holders to ingratiate economic rewards. Hitherto, the African had been a master of himself far before Europe’s incursion into its body polity, up till Arab incursion at least. The Kingdom of Songhai was established in 1350 Years AD and lasted until 1600 AD when the kingdom was invaded and ransacked by forces from Morocco with substantial financial and military support from the English Tudor monarch, Queen Elizabeth 1st.  There were two hundred English artillery mercenaries in the invading force. Arabs had rattled and decimated much of old Mali, Gao, Djenne and Timbuktu by the 12th century. Universities were established at Timbuktu and Sankore. After Arabian hegemony was toppled around the 14th century by transatlantic trade, the resulting carcass was to be the object of the frenetic carnivorous appetite of the marauding Europeans from the beginning of 14th century. The image Africa presently bears is the image of Europe. It may change tomorrow. There was no Nigeria, at the beginning of the 20th century. It can cease to exist before the end of the 21st century. States are made not divinely created. Humans nurture states; they hardly have the imprimatur of gods.

After the departure of the European imperialists from its colonial plantations, it has been a disaster for the infantile states to assume a different shade from what was its original design; a European banana plantation. Europeans did not owe their settlements the duty to look after their political wellbeing, once their economic interests were safe. After a night of amorous torrid passion, Frederick Luggard foisted more than 200 polities together to form Nigeria. He learned from the Bismark chaired conference in 1885. One of the participants even stated that they knew not what they were doing; they only drew straight lines across the map. Over 20, 000 different empires and tribes were coupled that day. What was birthed was a leprosed continent constantly battling with itself, a collage of ethnic chauvinism, acute human depravity, extreme corruption, animalistic pogroms of unimaginable scale and scope, exceptional level of bad governance, biting unemployment rate , all scattered and shattered along primordial ethnic  lines, combining to form human suffering of epic proportion.

The transformation of Africa from colonial serfs into post-colonial modern states have been nigh improbable, if not impossible. The primordialism, archaism, obsoleteness of the mode of organization in most African states in the 21st century is befuddling, if not graphic. The challenge with Africa is knowledge. This is the reason for the adoption of the epigraph at the beginning of the article. It is the last verse of the University of Ibadan’s anthem. The challenge with Africa as a continent sequestered along alienating nation states is that of knowledge production i.e a continent midwifed by intellectual and philosophical exertion. I must state that most nations are hardly consummated with amicable resolutions. But they are ceaselessly and meticulously nurtured by deep philosophies that make them look immutable. To be precise, I do not mean that no form of knowledge has ever come out Africa. In fact, to the contrary, this piece is written to ensure that African states emphasize the need for production of autochthonous knowledge. Knowledge production sits at the base of any human advancement. By knowledge, we talk first about the mental agility by which the environment is explored, exploited by human reasoning. We are not talking about the collection of wise sayings, idioms; all strung together into a coherent cosmogony. To be exact we are talking about the need to build thoughts and philosophies as we engage our environment, battle savagery and barbarism in the production of a “native” civilization. After God created man, He left re-creation to him. Man therefore can only dominate his environment with the knowledge of his environment. The most advanced states are those who use knowledge of their world to better their lots. Civilization is simply the state in which a society is able to solve its problems with knowledge and scientific certitude. Civilization therefore has nothing to do with westernization. In Tataalo Alamu’s words, “we are talking of the capacity for conceptual formulation and rigorous abstractions; the ability for sustained intellection and paradigmatic speculation”. We are not talking about the echoing or regurgitation of knowledge from other centres of civilization. While that itself is not avoidable, it should not be the only consumable.

Nations with the greatest advancements are also the ones with the most developed means of knowledge production. There is nothing divinely orchestrated in western ascension to world dominance and its current and ongoing displacement by the Asians, it is conditioned by knowledge production. Japan negotiated its way to the top after Meiji Restoration of 1868 through a radical reform of its educational system and her political institutions. Lee Kwan Yew transformed Singapore by transforming the mind. You must know before you are known. Africa is still largely crude, absolutely unrefined. Recently, as the Fulani marauders unleashed mayhem on hapless compatriots across the nation, the reaction of the government to it showed a stark clarity regarding the dominant mode of mind-set that powers our polity. The orgy of bloodletting notwithstanding, the government opted to continue funding programmes that encourage herding as against the urbane method of ranching. A state government decided to pay thirsty murderers to placate them. At play was the interplay of ethnic loyalty, religious sentiments and intoxicating ignorance. Knowledge was entirely displaced in arriving at the conclusion. This was when Americans, having conquered the earth are conquering mars. Modern societies with pre modern mode of existence are ravaged by the conflict between knowledge and myth. The infestation and manifestation of myth and its superior logic is evident in Africa’s mode of grappling with realities. Subsistence mode of agriculture, evasive form of democratic bargaining, tired and wearied political institutions, crippled madrasahs, mangled understanding of religion, a total and shambled organization of geographical space. These are exactly what to expect from societies with the mind-set to dominate nature and reality with myth not knowledge. The current mode of reasoning is that of voracious consumption powered by myth. Reliance on brawn not brain, mediocrity is ahead of meritocracy. We feed on all, we produce nothing. Africa is Africans’ greatest inhibition. Indeed, our people perish because of lack of knowledge…

to be continued.

Micah Stephen, combines his love for law with a deep appreciation of history and classical studies. He considers himself to be an admixture of a lawyer, classicist, historian and entrepreneur.

Fadeke: Episode IX

Fadeke made it to final year of medical school with great effort. It was a busy year for her as she spent most of it working on her first studio produced solo album. By this time, she had won the hearts of many music lovers in Nigeria. Agreed that she was no party-crooner, her music could not fit into the average Nigerian party but it did fit into corporate events and that was her market and there she made waves. She appointed a manager to lessen her burden so she could worry less about scheduling and all whatnots. Throughout that year, she was very selective about the events she attended, she had learnt from the previous experience that she was not meant for every show, or concert or event. When she could no longer handle the requests, and due to Tade’s similarly busy schedule, she agreed to appoint Smart Ode as her manager.

Smart had worked his way up the ladder, having begun as a personal assistant to one of the greatest manager of human talent the country had ever seen, the legendary Martin Kay. Martin Kay during his active years managed about eight ‘A’ lists artists at different times in their careers, and they all agreed they could not have reached the heights they did without Martin Kay. Smart Ode learnt all he knew from Martin Kay, he learnt how to speak like a manager, dress like one and dish out instructions like one. Most importantly, Martin Kay taught Smart when and how to be humble when speaking to an artist. “That artiste is your employer, even if he or she is probably younger than you are. You are an employee, just a different kind and grade of employee. Never forget that my boy” Martin Kay would often say. Smart was smart enough to listen and follow the footsteps of his mentor, he  however went one step further by recognising talents in artistic fields other than the stage, this was the basis for his appointment as Tade’s manager.

“Fadeke, I honestly think that you need to attend more events, for two key reasons” Smart Ode knew his job really well and he tried to be as persuasive as he could “The first reason being that you need to stay in people’s consciousness, that is how you stay relevant. And the second reason is simply that you need the money for us to complete your studio release” Smart concluded

Fadeke wanted to laugh at Smart’s effort at persuading her, she knew though that he was merely doing his job, so instead she patted Smart on the shoulder and responded “No worries Smart, let me decide that. I have the final say on every invitation. Are we clear that?

“Loud and clear Ma’am, loud and clear” Smart responded and curtsied to lighten up the mood.

****

Fadeke’s first studio solo album was released in her final year; it was an instant hit as it rocked the airwaves and stayed on the top chart for weeks. The tune of her soul music captivated the hearts of many and soon, she was sought after by different individuals who wanted her to perform at their events. She had to turn down most of the offers as she needed to fully concentrate on completing medical school in good time and in style. She restricted her performances to one Saturday a month and carefully selected the events she accepted. Her practice time and performance time were the only time she spent outside studying and keeping it real with the love of her life, Tade. She was often embarrassed when even her classmates tried to mob her and ask for autographs. She had become a star but she felt she needed to complete it by concluding her medical education. She thought about the sacrifices of her mother and felt a tingle in her heart. She was finally going to reward Mrs. Onifade. She wrote her final exams with confidence and joy, she had an assurance that she had done all she needed to do. Her oral defence was also well received; her professors were particularly impressed at her self-taught knowledge of music therapy. She gave her a rousing applause.

“I understand you are musician too” a professor said and nodded his head as if saying ‘you have done well’.

“Yes o” another professor responded “my daughter would not let me rest. She wants an autograph”

Fadeke beamed “Thank you for your kind words Sirs and Ma’ams. And tell your daughter to come around whenever she is available ma, I will be glad to sign one. Though I’m trying to get used to all that” they all smiled at her and waved her off with admiration.

***

Fadeke was ready to pack out of her dorm room at school and move back home briefly before her induction into the medical profession. Tade and Mrs. Onifade came to assist her; she had officially introduced Tade to her mother earlier during the first semester of her final year. Both hit it off immediately, Mrs. Onifade became particularly fond of Tade. From the way she doted on him, any person who did not know otherwise would conclude that Tade was Mrs. Onifade’s only son. This made Fadeke jealous sometimes but she was also very happy, it was a happy jealousy.

They helped her pack her things and whilst they journeyed back home, Mrs. Onifade could not stop talking about how Tade had redesigned Fadeke’s room and how beautiful her room was. Whilst at Yaba Tech, Tade had garnered experience in interior graphics and designs, she had seen some of the works he did and they were breath-taking. Tade’s abilities were spectacular and she was so happy for him and at their future together.

“Mummy I don’t think it is as beautiful as you are painting it o” Tade laughed and tried to play down her mother’s ‘exaggerations’.

She snuggled close to him and whispered “I’m sure it is impressive”

“It is more than impressive o, o fine gan ni” her mother interrupted. Fadeke could not honestly understand why her mother was so excited, but she was happy to see her mother so happy and excited. She had not seen her in such high moods since her father left them, so she felt good.

She did not want her mother to continue her one-woman show so she quietly mouthed a ‘thank you’ to Tade. She closed her eyes and tried to picture what they would look like as a married couple and she felt herself blushing. She opened her eyes and caught Tade starring at her; there was some message in his eyes. The way he looked at her made her excited and she could not wait for them to have their alone time, without her mother’s excited Yoruba chatters.

When they got to the house, Fadeke rushed to her room. She was really excited and was so eager to see the magic Tade had performed on the outlook of her room. But she was not prepared for what she saw. Indeed her room looked more than perfect, everything were in the right place, her favourite art works were well hung and he had added a few portrait of some of her stage performances. Her room was a beauty but none caught her heart and made blood rush to her face like a beautiful inscription on the wall of the room, just above her reading table. She felt the tears rush to her eyes as she read the words

Fadekemi,

This wall is not big enough to show you how much I truly love and cherish you. Will you please marry me?

Signed

Tade

She turned with tears in her eyes; Tade was right at the door and on his knees holding a beautiful diamond ring. He looked at her and whispered “Fadeke, you came into my world and changed everything. You told me I could make it and you stood by me as I did. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life without you. Please say yes”

Fadeke could only shake her head in confirmation as he slipped the ring into her finger. She embraced him, still teary.

She heard her mother sob behind the door. ‘this woman, such a drama queen! She thought and smiled, without letting go of Tade.

Postcript

Fadeke was inducted into the medical profession. At the induction, Fadeke received the award for the best result in Anatomy. Mrs. Onifade was so proud of her daughter.  She could now be famously referred to as “Mama Doctor”; her lifelong dreams were fulfilled not only because of Fadeke’s achievement, Mrs. Onifade made some giant strides of her own. With Fadeke out of school, Mrs. Onifade was going back to school. She had timidly applied for admission to the Lagos State School of Nursing and never thought she would get in but she did. The admission committee were particularly impressed that she refused to let go of her dreams despite her age and they gladly offered her in place. Her joy knew no limits as she accepted the offer, after-all, age is nothing but a number

As for Fadeke, she felt fulfilled and proud of the woman she had become. She would now focus on building a long career in music and as a music therapist; and off course try to out-love her lover boy!

 

I guess that is the end. I hope you enjoyed the series.

Oluwatosin

Fadeke – Episode VIII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

Fadeke was not happy with her performance at the event; she began to doubt her abilities and any future career in the entertainment industry. She felt that her path may not be music but medicine and that perhaps, that was the reason she had the fortune of studying medicine. She was disappointed with herself. Tade made concerted efforts to encourage and cheer her up but her mind seemed made up. She had resolved to channel all her energy into medicine. She studied hard for her test, became more serious with her course works and within a little space of time, she moved to the top five percentile of her class.

Fadeke totally withdrew from music, when she went back home Mrs Onifade noticed that the excitement Fadeke had for music had suddenly faded. She also noticed that Fadeke was withdrawn; she was no longer the excited little girl who giggled at every sound of music. She was both happy and sad about this new development, a part of her was happy and hoping that her indifference with music will help her focus better on her medical studies and in the long run, maybe she could fall in love with the idea of being a medical doctor. However, she was not happy with the lethargic Fadeke, music was a core part of her and the absence of music reminded Mrs. Onifade of the things she wished she had done rather than settled for the life she eventually settled for.  Mrs. Onifade decided to ask Fadeke why she had lost her love for music.

“Fadekemi, I hope all is fine. I noticed that you no longer sing as you used to, se ko si o? she asked, sincerely concerned.

“Mummy, there is no problem. I just think that music may not be the right career path for me” Fadeke responded.

“Ehn? How do you mean? Music makes you excited and very happy. I don’t like this new you o” Mrs. Onifade tried to look Fadeke in the eye, she knew if she could get Fadeke to look her in the eye, she would be able to tell for certain whether she was telling the truth or otherwise. She felt and knew that all was not well, but she could not exactly place her hand on what the issue was. “Fadekemi, so fun mi, kilo sele?

Fadeke began to cry when she saw that her mother was genuinely concerned. She realised that despite her many strange tendencies, her mother was truly interested in her overall state of affairs. She opened up to Mrs. Onifade and explained how she messed up at the biggest stage of her life and how there may never be a second chance. She explained all that Tade had done to encourage her and help her back to her feet, without much success. This was completely new to Mrs. Onifade, she was pleasantly happy that Fadeke had made such tremendous progress both in medical school and as a musician. She was also happy to hear about the young man Tade, whom her daughter was apparently very much in love with. She pulled Fadeke to herself, let her weep while telling her that she was good enough.

On her part, Mrs. Onifade began to appreciate Fadeke’s strength of character and became encouraged to push herself; maybe, just maybe she could still become a trained nurse.

***

Tade thought that Fadeke would eventually come around and that she only needed time and constant reassurance. However, months after months, Fadeke’s enthusiasm remained at ground zero. She told Tade of the conversation she had with her mum and how Mrs. Onifade had not stopped to talk about reigniting a career in nursing despite her age. Tade was happy that Mrs. Onifade was encouraged but was sad that Fadeke remained disinterested in her music career. He called Phebean and told her about the concert and Fadeke’s lack of interest in music thereafter. Phebean had a strong influence on Fadeke and because she had also experienced failure at different points in her career, she knew the right motivation Fadeke needed to get back on her feet. She paid Fadeke a visit; consoled her and told her to research on great legends in the music industry. She asked Fadeke to read their stories and how they also had bumpy rides in their early days but succeeded against all odds. Fadeke confided in her that she still loved music, only that she could not get over the fact that she failed in the spotlight.

Phebean insisted that all she needed to do was read about music icons, their epic failures and how they overcame such failures. Fadeke read about music greats who failed at first but picked up themselves. She was particularly impressed by the story of Elvis Presley who as a young singer was kicked out of the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country-music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee. He was told to stick to his day job of driving trucks but he did not allow that deter him, he continued until he made it big.  She realised that she must not let rejection and criticism get in her way as it was merely a part of the music business which must be handled positively. She began to understand she must learn from a “bad” situation and move on and that the only positive way to silence critics is to prove them wrong but first she needed to prove to herself that she was good enough.

Fadeke was inspired, she started to dream again, she resolved that the world was her oyster and she was going to write beautiful stories in the chapters of her life. From then onward, there was a drastic change in her outlook to life, she became aware that there was more to her, she activated this consciousness and continued to ace her exams.

In her 5th year in medical school, Fadeke started researching on musical therapy once again and thought to work on same as it fascinated her. She started to dream big and plan her life. One of the best decisions she made was leaving 360 degrees. When she left 360 degrees, she had more time to write more songs, do solo videos and she learn to play the guitar. Tade enjoyed watching her sing and play the guitar. He made a portrait of her playing the guitar which she loved very much and hung same proudly in her room.

Tade resumed posting clips of Fadeke’s solo songs on Instagram and the feedback was phenomenal. Her fans were still very much in love with her. This was a confidence booster; this time, she knew she was ready to take on the world.

 

Interpretations

se ko si o? – I hope all is well

so fun mi, kilo sele? – tell me, what the matter is

Fadeke: Episode VII

Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo

She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it.

In her first year at Medilag, Fadeke found music and medicine to be overwhelming and was smart enough to know that her grades may suffer if she didn’t focus on medicine; consequently, she decided to reduce her participation in 360 degrees. She limited her involvement to only participating in rehearsals twice a week but attending just one show in a month. She learnt how to manage her time better and limited the activities she participated in. She also realised that her workload as a medical student would only intensify. She resolved to combine her love for music with her need to make something out of medicine. She learnt to work efficiently, to focus her brain when a million other things are swirling in it. Her grades were impressive that first year and she was proud of herself. She stepped out of her comfort zone and understood what her limits were. Indeed, her first and second year in medical school was a learning curve for her, she became smarter and wiser. She felt at some point that perhaps she was giving up on her dreams, perhaps she ought to spend more time doing music than medicine, maybe she would have got her big break in music if she devoted more attention to music. Phebean had graduated and was among the rising artist in some Nigerian ‘Broadway styled’ shows. She kept in touch with Fadeke and often encouraged her that she was on track. Tade often reassured her that she was making progress. She had not missed her weekly rehearsals in two years and she remained the crowd’s favourite on campus and at shows outside the campus. The only snag was that she did not know how to grow her social media followership, as she had no time to play with.

During her third year, one of her professors spoke in passing about music therapy and she was fascinated by it, thus she became interested in it. Using the internet, she read all she could on music therapy and felt she had found the right combination for music and medicine. She was going to pursue knowledge in the field of music therapy. She considered that it should not be difficult for her to do so in view of her good background in music. She determined that she would carve a niche for herself as the first musician and music therapist in Nigeria.

By this time, Tade was already a big deal on social media and had received an offer to study Fine Art (Painting Major) at the Yaba College of Technology. Fadeke was very excited at the fact that he had progressed and found his way out of the dump under the Lende Bridge. He was an example of persistence and resilience. Yes, he had a little bit of luck to aid him but his talent created the path. They were both excited at the prospect of being close to each other. Tade was very popular both on campus and on the ‘Gram’ with many folks using his works as their display pictures on Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry Messenger. Although, he felt it was not necessary, Mr. Jimi encouraged him and insisted that he paid some tokens for the promotion of his pages on social media. It worked and his popularity continued to soar.

Fadeke and Tade were in love; they could not and did not hide it. It was evident to everyone who knew them. Their love was young and innocent. Fadeke was not so much into social media but she often heard what sounded like jealous whispers from her female classmates, she would hear them talk about his Instagram posts. Tade was a lover boy and would often write beautiful words, often described in millennial lingo as ‘mushy’ on Instagram or post some interesting picture of her with the caption “She brought light into my dark world”. His posts about her always had that statement; a mantra it was.

Tade decided to take over Fadeke’s social media accounts; he knew he had enough content to grow her social media accounts and felt bad he had not thought to do that all the while. He had several video recordings. The videos were mostly when she sang with only him as her audience. He noticed there was usually a confident edge in her voice whenever she sang to him. She was at ease with him and he needed to let the world see the beauty he was blessed with. So he began to post the videos on Instagram and Facebook. It was an instant success, people loved the videos and the invitation started coming in their trickles. Tade had on Mr. Jimi’s recommendation, appointed one of his friends as his manager. This again, proved to be a smart decision, as Smart Odey took charge of the promotion of Tade’s works. He was able to secure more corporate endorsement deals for Tade within two months of taking over management of Tade’s talent promotion.

****

With Smart Odey in charge, Tade had more time and he dedicated it to growing Fadeke’s social media platforms. He got one of his friends who was studying Industrial Graphics at Yabatech to edit most of Fadeke’s videos. He had learnt that with Instagram, when you are trying to grow a followership, good contents and consistency were keys to unlock the door. He consistently posted videos of Fadeke from his archives and gradually she began to garner followers and people started talking about her. The beauty of social media is in its cross-boundary propensities. People from all around the world saw the videos and commented on how good she was and why she needed to perform at the biggest concert in their area. Tade would respond on her behalf, thanking each person who commented. The picture that generated the most conversation was a picture of Fadeke in her laboratory coat detailing how much work she has to put into medicine and music. Many commented to say they were inspired, some congratulated her and others encouraged her. When Tade showed her the comments, she could not hold back her tears; there was just too much positive vibes from those comments. She was inspired and all fired up to make her dreams come true.

***

About two days later, Fadeke received an email inviting her for a show at the Tafewa Balewa Square, Lagos. The email listed several ‘A’ list artistes scheduled to perform, but the organisers wanted to also give young talents the opportunity to perform to a bigger audience. Tade was excited and encouraged Fadeke to accept the invite. The event was just three days away, when they checked their calendars, Fadeke had a test the next Monday whilst Tade was expected at an exhibition in Abuja. They had mixed feelings about it but Tade insisted that he would try to get back into Lagos as early as possible on the Saturday of the event. Tade responded to the email on her behalf and accepted the invite.

***

The show was the biggest live event Fadeke had ever attended. The Tafewa Balewa Square was occupied with thousands of music fans, all screaming and shouting at every turn. As the time inched closer to Fadeke’s performance, she became scared; she seemed to always have stage fright when she is performing at events that were like milestones in her career. It was similar to the fear she had at the restaurant at Victoria Island, she needed her friends. The only familiar face at the backstage was Jim, who was one time a member of 360 degrees.

Unfortunately, Tade arrived at the Muritala Mohammed Airport very late as his flight was delayed for hours. For some reason, there was a serious traffic at Ikeja which further delayed him. Phebean was in Warri for another event so she could not come to lend her support to Fadeke. She wished she appointed a manager as Tade had once suggested. At the time, she felt it was not yet time but at that moment, she wished there was someone around who could give her a hug and tell she could do it.

She explained her predicament to Jim and he suggested that there was a fix, a very quick fix for the problem. When she asked what the fix was, he gave her a small nylon foil containing some white substances. Fadeke immediately knew what it was and her mind told her otherwise, but something else told her she needed it if she hoped to perform to the billing that night. Her mind went quickly to many of the stories she had heard from Tade about the wreck that the white substance and Indian hemp had done to the boys under the Lende Bridge. She saw his eyes of disapproval and then handed the foil back to Jim. No, she was better than that, she told him.  Instead, she called Tade and his voice was the calm she needed. Tade told her she had just won another battle and that she was ready. By this time, he was on the third mainland bridge in a moving traffic.

****

Fadeke took the big stage, she sang with all her energy but the reaction of the audience was cold. Disappointment was written all over their faces. She had flopped! Tade got to TBS just as the next artiste was introduced. Fadeke was given two VIP tickets, one of which was with him, so he got in very quickly. He ran to the backstage and after some hassle with the bouncers, he was allowed in. He found Fadeke in a corner, he eyes were blood stain from tears, he pulled her to himself without saying any word; he knew that was all she needed!

The City Circle – Much Ado About Jollof

MUCH ADO ABOUT JOLLOF….

I spent the festive period in the kitchen. And we did not travel to the village o! Anyways, my mom who sat and watched while I cooked most of the time tried to engage me in the usual marriage conversation (single ladies, raise your hand if you had this conversation during the holidays)

She started. “We need to teach you how to cook other delicacies apart from Jollof rice, you know what they say about the way to a man’s heart, how are you going to find a man with only jollo…”

“Mom, abeg abeg we? Who is “we”? ….”I didn’t let her finish.

I had a mental picture of me on the mainroad with a bowl of Jollof rice in hand, searching for a man and it made me hiss. You see, my mom does not cook. That chore has been shared unequally between my dad and I since I can remember. He likes to cook and I have to cook when he is not around. I am only happy to cook when I am called upon to make Jollof rice which I think sums up enough culinary prowess to grant me passage into any man’s heart. (Yes I said it. My Jollof rice is badt like that).

I found my talent for Jollof rice in 2010 but quickly abandoned it in favour of vegetable soup. Now that I think of it, I don’t know what my mom was talking about. I can cook other things too… anyways, back to Jollof. With the media frenzy and constant hype of the staple food, I had to tap back into my Jollof talent and our love affair’s waxing stronger every day. There are so many hush hush secrets and methods to the art of Jollof rice preparation. And there is the constant pressure to surpass the success of your previous pot of rice. So most days, ladies (and gentlemen like my dad) are on the internet, Tv, searching for ways to enhance our Jollof cooking skills. Because you cannot carry last in this Jollof race. If you sleep on the bicycle for too long, you’ll find yourself making Ghanaian Jollof (no shade intended) in a Lagos home. One day you will wake up and the Jollof ship has sailed….it is that serious. The number of brands churning out “Jollof rice spice” nowadays… because once the shopper passes by a shelf and sees “spice for Jol…” gold niyen.

Wherever you find a pot (or plate) of orange rice, there’s a hash tag for husband/wife material (mostly 100 yards) beside it. So many memes for “when bae makes Jollof rice” and there’s the ongoing battle between two countries over this rice.

Jollof is the cheat in this “way to a man’s heart” struggle. If it comes down to “the cooking skills or no husband”, do not even fret. Just take a crash course on Jollof and you’re in… Jollof to the rescue!  There is no inappropriate occasion to cook and eat Jollof Rice.

She is economically friendly. Jollof does not discriminate. Snails, chicken, panla and sardine can play together with Jollof. She can sit with you at Iya Ijebu and Radisson Blu. Jollof has friends in high places.She is popular with Tech entrepreneurs, world class billionaires, (ask Mark Zuckerberg), oil tycoons…nobody is immune or allergic to Jollof rice (I dare you!)  Jollof has class and standards. You cannot treat her anyhow or she will tarnish your culinary image. Jollof is the mistress that has turned to family. She has her own day (August 22). She is the queen of rice. Period.

I wonder who told this Orange rice that she can be / cause all these things. Who elevated Jollof Rice? (Taste buds. duh!). Who is attaching all this importance to Jollof? How can we just let Jollof waltz into our lives and take over like this? Where did this Jollof craze start from?

Fadeke: Episode VI

Fadeke resumed at the University of Lagos. She introduced Phebean to her mother during her matriculation ceremony. Mrs. Onifade noticed that Phebean paid particular attention to Fadeke so she pleaded with Phebean to help keep an eye on her. She told Phebean about the challenges she had with Fadeke regarding her choice of career. Phebean responded that it was important that Fadeke does what she loves, she however promised to keep an eye on Fadeke.

The first few weeks were totally exciting for Fadeke. It was fun exploring campus and meeting new people. She was also officially inducted into the 360 Degrees music group. She was surprised to find out that 360 degrees was very popular on campus. She performed with the group at different ‘fresher’s welcome’ events on campus, she soon became the crowd’s favourite and the name Fadeke became a so popular on campus within two weeks. Phebean noticed that Fadeke was getting carried away by her rapid rise to fame and she took it upon herself to ensure that Fadeke had her head in the right place.

Phebean had grown very fond of Fadeke and had nicknamed her ‘Queen F’. “Queen F, sit down and let me tell you somethings that will help you get out of this place alive” Phebean said. “I know that you want to be a big star but right now you need to set your priorities right okay?”

“Ok. Is there something I’m doing wrong” Fadeke honestly asked.

“No, but you are young and full of energy which must be properly channelled so that you don’t derail. I’m taking personal responsibility for you because I was the one that introduced you to this group and your mother instructed me to keep an eye on you. You have a lot of prospect but you need to know how to manage this new found life. Medical school is not a joke. So you will need to channel all your energies into both music and medicine. I don’t want you to lose sight of the reason you are here, your academics should be your top priority. That is why your mother sent you here and nothing less than excellent grades will do” Phebean advised.

“Medicine is not really my thing. This is just for my mum, you know. All I want to do is Music” Fadeke responded.

“I know and you have said that to me several times. But, listen girl, life can sometimes be funny such that the thing you are pursuing may not happen. I know it’s good to have positive vibes always but have you ever asked yourself what you will do if music fails? Phebean asked.

“Not really. I always think that music will happen” Fadeke said.

Phebean gave Fadeke a long look and asked “So what if it does not happen as you expected?

“Errm…. I don’t know. I have never thought about it” Fadeke responded.

“You should think about it. Take medicine very seriously. Try and surprise yourself. Break new barriers, you can succeed in medicine and in music. But I would not watch you play away your time here on campus. I’ve got my eyes on you”

“Thank you Phebean. I’m very grateful”

****

Acting on the advice he got from Phebean, Tade quickly became serious with his Facebook account. He also opened Twitter and Instagram accounts. His followership on Facebook began to increase at a fast rate, people liked and commented on pictures of his artworks and he began to receive instructions from people to make one artwork or the other for them. He also met with the curator of a popular art exhibition in Lagos who encouraged him to bring his art works to the exhibitions.  Mr. Jimi, a senior management staff of one of the telecommunications giants who attended the exhibitions saw Tade’s works and was very impressed with the quality of his works. He asked to speak with the artist and was surprised at his age.

“Your works are beautiful. Where did you learn to paint so beautifully? Mr. Jimi asked him.

“Thank you Sir” Tade beamed and then continued “I grew up in Ogbomosho. We had a neighbour who was an artist and painter. I would often go to his workshop after school and watch him as he painted or drew. He encouraged me and that was how I started. But I have learnt most of the things I know on my own”.

“That is quite impressive. Your future is bright!  Mr. Jimi said cheerfully.

“Thank you” Tade responded beaming with pride.

The telecommunications company where Mr. Jimi worked had some advert series which promoted young people with talents in music, entertainment, arts and culture. The adverts typically ran on television, radio, newspaper. The adverts series was loved by customers and often trend on social media for days. Mr. Jimi arranged for Tade to feature in the next series of the adverts. Within a short while, Tade’s popularity began to soar, with his Twitter and Instagram accounts receiving several followers on daily basis.

Tade and Fadeke were constantly speaking throughout her first semester, she was excited at the progress Tade was making and insisted that if he continued that way, he would be able to sponsor himself or even receive a scholarship for his university education. She also encouraged Tade to buckle up on physics so he could make good grades in his senior secondary school examination, which was just a term away.

They still kept their friendship away from Mrs. Onifade. They knew she would not approve because of Tade’s background. Against their initial fears, distance was not stopping them; they were quietly growing together, as best buddies, cheering each other on.

 

The City Circle with Aunty Rose

The Voicemail situation

I am not sure if I want a lot of pidgin or strictly “queens English”, whether I want to be informal or formal. But I do know that the purpose of this blog is to rub minds on daily real life struggles and relationships.

I have thought about the structure of this column for months. After wrestling with myself for an appropriate name (I eventually opened two blogs since I could not decide so one day, I might introduce you to the second one), I battled with the form and tone of the blog. I am not sure if I want a lot of pidgin or strictly “queens English”, whether I want to be informal or formal. But I do know that the purpose of this blog is to rub minds on daily real life struggles and relationships. I also know that there is no set structure for talking about all those things. So instead of putting it off further, I am just going to start blogging today and hope that you help me with it along the way. After all, this blog is about you my dear reader. So welcome to the City Circle (excited much!). A little mind hub where we can unwind from all the political and economic struggles that plague our days in the city and talk about other mundane (or not) issues that are being overwhelmed by all the “seriousness” out there. Today, I am thinking about the “voicemail situation”………………

My sister just marked her 29th birthday last month. When I called her to wish her well, she sounded very sober for a birthday girl. I didn’t have to probe too much before I found out why. My sister thinks that she has entered “voicemail” in the marriage department. After consoling her and getting her to cheer up, I hung up the phone feeling sober myself. As if we had exchanged moods. My sister has tried the Yoruba demons, Igbo patriots, and Arab monies. No luck. She has a good job, her own apartment, a small car that she’s managing and she dresses well.  Oh, and my sister can cook! She has very good manners. Make e no be like say I just dey blow her trumpet because say she be my sister. The point I am trying to make is that there are many reasonable and well packaged ladies out there that cannot find reasonable men to marry. To answer those that will comment here later to say that she should reduce her standards and consider poor people; it is one thing to not be financially stable at the moment with prospects and another to just be a throwback with no ambitions. And if you are a reasonable Nigerian guy with prospects that is willing to marry and move into her tiny flat with her, biko drop your email address in d comment section. Lol.

Ladies get in here! What can we do about this “voicemail” situation? There are so many desperate men and women out there. So many scams. It affects the married women too! Because person no go fit chop belefull for front of hungry lion o! (na me talk dat one. lol). What is the way forward?

Let me know what you think.

Ps: of course it is a really long post. It is, after all the first blog post (not that the subsequent ones would be a lot shorter seeing as I blog from the heart and this blog is sort of structure-free).

Please feel free to send your stories, experiences and topics you want to discuss to auntyrose16@gmail.com. I promise not to use your name if you do not want me to.

Fadeke: Episode V

 

Fadeke began to attend shows more often at Liberty Park. She made efforts to talk to some of the performing groups and met one of the dancers in 360 Degrees, a campus musical and dancing group. She spoke with Phebean, 360 Degree’s best dancer who was much older than her. From her reception of Fadeke one could tell that she really liked Fadeke. They had a lengthy conversation regarding Fadeke’s dreams and how best to achieve them while studying medicine at the same time.

‘If you believe that you have what it takes to make it to the stage, you will have to take chances and grab any opportunity that life throws your way. Just wait; the right opportunity will come along if you just wait’. Phebean explained to Fadeke.

“How did you become a dancer? What inspired you” Fadeke inquired.

“I have always been fascinated by dances in musical videos and I knew my body was very flexible. When I gained admission into the University, a friend who used to be a member of 360 degrees encouraged me to start taking dancing classes. He introduced me to 360 degrees and I started going with them for shows. First, I only helped out with costumes. Fortunately, luck smiled on me one day when one of the group’s dancer was sick and I was pulled in as a replacement for her. I took that chance with all I got and the rest, they say is history”.

“So what do I need to do?” Fadeke asked.

“Don’t worry, I will introduce you to the top guys at 360 degrees, they will like you. You are resuming on campus in September right?  Phebean inquired.

“Yes. I believe so. I wrote the post UTME last month and I’m waiting for the admission list, resumption is in September”.

“Great, that is just a month away. So you can join us on campus right away” Phebean promised to speak with the team lead of 360 degrees. “We perform here every Friday, so make sure you are here next Friday and I will introduce you to the guys.”

“Thank you” Fadeke said with excitement.

“You are welcome dear. I have to go now. Take my phone number, you can call me up anytime” Fadeke took Phebean’s number. Phebean hugged her and left. “See you next week” she said.

*****

The next Friday, Phebean introduced Fadeke to the 360 degrees team as she had promised. Gabriel, the team lead of the group told her that she would have to do her best to prove that she could be allowed to come on stage. He explained that regardless of the talent, no one in the group got to the stage without great effort, each person had to put and always put their best foot forward. If she proved herself, she would be given a microphone. Just like Phebean, she was handed costumes duties the first Friday she joined the group. She selected the costume for each member and helped arrange them after the show. That first evening, she watched them rehearse and saw that Gabriel was a very firm and disciplined leader.

‘Look Blackie, you need to raise the tenor, I was unable to pick you out from the rest. If you don’t get it right, you will not perform this night. So stay apart and get it right. I give you 10 minutes’ He said to one of the members.

“Uncle, what is that? He shouted at another, who apparently looked much older than he was. “Don’t get me started oh”. He said.

Fadeke watched and it began to dawn on her that talent, raw talent was never enough. She would need discipline and consistency.

****

“Hey girl” she heard Phebean call to her.

“Hi Phebean” Fadeke called the name shyly. Phebean had insisted that her name was Phebean and not Aunty Phebean. Fadeke’s Yoruba inclinations needed to adjust to that.

“I have an invite to perform somewhere on the Island tomorrow. Will you like to come?”

“What time is the event? My mum may not let me go out on two consecutive nights.”

“Nah. It is at 2pm, so not to worry”

“Okay. I will ask her for permission. Hopefully she’ll agree”

“Great, let me know. I will send you the address and cover your transportation cost”

****

On Saturday, Fadeke was woken up by the jubilant noise of her mother. Her mother had received a call from one of her friends who worked at the University. The admission list was released on Friday evening and Fadeke was accepted for Medicine. Fadeke was excited. Unlike her mother, her excitement was not at the prospect of studying medicine. Her excitement was at the prospect of moving away from home, the prospect of joining 360 degrees fully, and the freedom to attend more shows and other similar events. Fadeke and her mother were both jubilant; jubilant for different reasons!

Fadeke shared the news with Tade. He was excited and sad at the same time. He was sad that his time with Fadeke may be over. He had heard stories from the boys at school about what happens at universities, he had heard several ‘October rush’ stories and he knew that his chances of a lasting friendship with Fadeke may have ended but he refused to let that affect him. He was truly excited and happy for her.

Given her mother’s excitement, it was not difficult to get her to approve Fadeke’s attendance of Phebean’s show that Saturday. She invited Tade who said he had no transport money. She agreed to pay for their transportation cost.

The event was at a restaurant in Victoria Island. The restaurant, a five star restaurant was tastefully furnished with contemporary Art designs from all over Africa. It was also famous for its contemporary African Cuisine nestled with the tasteful designs of rich African art and culture. The event was a birthday party which the celebrant had invited Phebean to perform at as part of the program for the celebrations. Fadeke told Phebean about her admission and they both screamed in excitement.

“Yaay!  We will finally be able to hook up. That is awesome” Phebean exclaimed.

Fadeke also introduced Tade to Phebean. Phebean asked if Tade was also due at the University in September. Tade responded in the negative. They got talking and Tade told her that he was good with brushes and pencils. Phebean told him that he needed to take his talent seriously and he could use social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to post and market his artworks, that way, he may find  people to patronise his works.

****

“Fadeke, will you sing while I dance? The initial plan was to dance to music played by the DJ but now that you are here. This is an opportunity” Phebean said.

“No. I’m not prepared. I cannot do it” Fadeke said.

“Remember what I told you about opportunities? Never let go of opportunities without exploiting them” Phebean said with a scowl on her face.

Fadeke looked at Tade, who nodded and said “You can do it.”

Fadeke looked around the Restaurant, people were talking in groups while sipping from their wine glasses, the looks were friendly and at that moment, she began to think that just maybe this was the start she needed.

Fadeke took a deep breathe, released it and asked “what type of songs do you want me to sing?

“Yes” Phebean and Tade exclaimed simultaneously.

When Fadeke climbed the elevated platform used as the stage, she gripped the microphone really hard. It almost dropped off because her hands were trembling. She tried to sing but her voice refused to make any sound. She was so scared. Suddenly, the faces at the restaurant did not look as friendly as they looked before she mounted the stage.

At that point, Phebean took the microphone from her, gave her a warm hug and told the small audience “My young friend here has a beautiful voice, and has some very nice lyrics she composed herself. She is only 17 but trust me, she is good, she’s just scared. Will you help me encourage her?” everyone at the restaurant clapped and shouted “You can do it.”

Phebean returned the microphone to Fadeke while mouthing the words “You can do it.”

Fadeke took the microphone and gradually found her voice with each renewed shout of “you can do it”.

Phebean danced so beautifully to her melodies but Fadeke was the victor, the victor of her own fears; for the first time she handled a real microphone, facing a real audience whose faces said it all; we love you!!!

 

Fadeke: Episode IV

She struggled hard to believe that Fadeke could be so callous to make such decision without letting her know and then pretend like nothing happened when asked. She felt that it was heedless for Fadeke to behave the way she did.

Mrs. Onifade often carried out routine clean-up of the apartment, when she entered Fadeke’s room to do some cleanings. She discovered Fadeke’s prank as she found the application slip for the Jamb examination on Fadeke’s table. When she saw it, she was riled. She struggled hard to believe that Fadeke could be so callous to make such decision without letting her know and then pretend like nothing happened. She felt that it was heedless for Fadeke to behave the way she did. She immediately confronted Fadeke.

“Are you out of your senses?  Why did you register Psychology instead of medicine? Her mother queried angrily.

Frightened Fadeke stammered “I, I, I thought Psychology is fine, it is in the medical field”

Mrs Onifade retorted with rage in her voice “don’t you dare. Do I look like a fool? So, I don’t know the difference between psychology and medicine abi? I don’t blame you, it is my fault, I should not have trusted you to do this on your own” there was no hiding place for Fadeke, her mother was infuriated. She felt her mother’s anger was unjustified. Fadeke believed she had the right to choose her career path.

“Mummy, I have said this many times, I don’t want to be a doctor? Fadeke responded with a hint of bitterness in her voice.

“You don’t want to be a Medical Doctor? is that why you deceived me ehn? Your future is bright, you this girl study to become a doctor. Iro ni, orin ni sha. Is it this music that will put food on your table?

“Yes, Mummy, with music I will do well, and fame and money will come, even better than a Medical Doctor” Fadeke responded sharply.

“Look I will not sit down here and let you ‘spoil’ your future sogbo? A ngba omo adiye lowo iku, oni won je ohun lo atan lo je. Nko ti o ye o poju eleyi to ye o.  You will change that course, you have no choice, you just have to.”

Fadeke looked at her mother with teary eyes and blurted out “I don’t understand why you are trying to force me to do what I will probably regret. Why do you want me to live your dreams?” She ran out of the houses crying profusely.

After she rushed out of the house, Mrs. Onifade sunk into a chair, tired and exasperated. Before long, she began to cry for the past she wished she could have created and the future that seem evasive and elusive to achieve at her age. She had undertaken a Nursing Education program out of frustration, after three years of waiting for admission into the University to study Nursing. Her plan was to proceed to study for a Nursing degree after her National Certificate Examination but she lost focus of that dream after she got married. It was not that the marriage in itself was the hindrance but she on her own lost focus and got carried away with other matters.  She could not understand why Fadeke would not be interested in pursuing such a noble and interesting profession.

Later that day, Mrs Onifade sat Fadeke down and told her the reasons why she desired medicine for Fadeke.

“Nothing will make me prouder. I agree that it is a partially selfish decision because I want to be called ‘Mummy Doctor’.  This decision is however out of sincere love for you”

Fadeke then explained that her dream was to become a well-respected and best-selling musician. Mrs. Onifade reasoned that it was wrong for her to insist that Fadeke study medicine, even though her intention was good but the end result may not be favourable. Despite this, she thought to still to push the idea further.

“Mummy, I love you so much and as much as I want to make you happy, I want to do the right thing for me. I know people say that I act older than my age and that you give me too much freedom. I know that many of my classmates are going to read law, or medicine, or engineering, but for most, it will not be what they really want to be. They will simply be living their parent’s dreams and not theirs. Fadeke urged her mother “please let me choose my path, please. I promise I would not disappoint you”

“Fadekemi, try to understand. I really do not think that music is the path for you. And let us even assume that it is the path, how do you intend to do pursue your dreams? Go to music school? How many musicians and artistes studied at music schools? So why not study medicine so that you can always have something to fall back on, in case music fails. Mrs. Onifade said, in a bid to persuade Fadeke.

After much tears, Fadeke reluctantly agreed to change her application to Medicine. In return, her mother agreed to let her attend more concerts and be free to participate in any of them.

—–

After she wrote her final senior school examination, Fadeke and Tade’s usual love-meet could no longer continue as it used to. Having graduated from St. Agnes, Fadeke had full access to a phone her mother had bought for her as her last birthday present. Mrs. Onifade had insisted that she would only have full access to the phone after her exams. Tade also bought a cheap Techno phone from the little savings he had. They would speak on the phone for as long as they could afford. Sometimes, Fadeke would creep into her mother’s room to take her phone so they could use her call credit to continue their conversation. Half the conversation was usually Tade listening to Fadeke sing. Tade would critique the songs as much as his understanding could comprehend. Just simple “I don’t think that line makes sense” or “why not add this?  Although there were little rain drops, they helped Fadeke improve. She was always excited to sing for him and to him. She looked forward to it every day.

Fadeke informed Tade of the conversation that ensued between herself and her mother over the phone. Tade responded “I agree with her. Don’t get me wrong, I think you have a good voice and that you will make a good artiste but what if it does not work? What will you fall back on?” Tade asked Fadeke.

“I have agreed to change the course but deep within my heart, I know that I won’t do well.” Fadeke whispered to her phone.

“I don’t think you should say that. I think you are one of the smartest people I know” Tade responded.

“Hmmn! I hear you o, keep flattering me. Well, the good part is I have negotiated for me to be able to perform at shows. So I have to start looking for shows where I can get to sing. Will you accompany me to Liberty Park tomorrow evening?”

“Of course” Tade replied.

Apart from the calls, they found a location close to Fadeke’s house where they could sit and talk. It was on one of those occasions that Tade came out clean and told Fadeke his story after much persuasion.

He told her that there was no chance of him ever attending a tertiary institution and that St. Johns was the final stop for his education. He also told her that he depleted all his savings on call credits and that she may have to do most of the callings going forward. Fadeke was deeply touched by the efforts he made to stay close to her. She hugged him and cried on his neck.

“What will I do without you? I will miss you when I go to the University” she whispered. She looked at him with teary eyes and continued “You must pass your WAEC examination, something can happen. I can get my mummy to support you. You cannot give up after secondary school. Please?”

“Number 1, she does not even know me, number two, she has enough on her hand, you are handful” Tade teased.

“I’m serious” Fadeke said with a straight face.

Tade looked at her and maintained the gaze for a while, heaved and responded “I can only be hopeful, I can only be hopeful”.

“Yes” she said excited at her victory in the mind game. “But I will still miss you though” she poked him.

“Me too” he said shyly.

Interpretations

Iro ni, orin ni sha – All you do is sing, everytime!

A ngba omo adiye lowo iku, oni won je ohun lo atan lo je – We tried to save the chicks from death, its only concern was that we prevented it from finding food at dunghill.

 Nko ti o ye o poju eleyi to ye o – Your ignorance far outweighs your knowledge

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