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!

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 III

Over the next couple of months, Fadeke and Tade saw each other more often. Tade was very good with brushes and pencil; he would often say that his paintings were his medium of expression as they told his story and that of others around him. Fadeke became fond of Tade; initially it was due to the fact that she wanted some paintings and other art works. After a while, it was not just the paintings, she began to look forward to seeing Tade. At first, Fadeke felt the friendship was parasitic as she had nothing to offer in return for the paintings. She hated this and once tried to offer him money in return for the paintings but he would not accept, she then offered to buy some of the frames and coloured pencils; this was fine with Tade. Fadeke was not satisfied with this. An opportunity then opened up one afternoon when Tade told her he wished he did not have to offer physics; that was her opportunity to make their friendship symbiotic and she took it. She asked him some questions and noticed that he was very poor in physics. He was practically struggling with most topics in the curriculum for that year. She was a ‘B’ student in physics unlike chemistry which was her forte but she was good enough to tutor him. Tade made art works for Fadeke and she helped him with physics. Prior to them becoming friends, Tade had done his homework; he knew where Fadeke lived, who her mother was and that she loved music.

It was usual for St John’s boys and Agnes’ girls to mingle, Tade used this to his advantage by asking the girls in Fadeke’s class. He heard from the girls in her class that Fadeke was very brilliant and had always finished top of the class. The only snag according to the girls was that she was not sharp with boys, otherwise she would have won all the boys at St. John and even some of the university students that often visited St Agnes in search of what had come to be termed as ‘big boy love’ by Agnes’ girls.  But as fate would have it, Fadeke seemed to like him, perhaps because of his artistic hands.  The socialisation between St. John’s boys and Agnes’s girls was customary, the presence of boys at Agnes or that of girls at St. John was never questioned, either because the management of the both schools did not care or they felt it was not wrong. It was therefore easy for Fadeke and Tade to meet in either of their classes after school.  Their usual meeting point was Tade’s class because Fadeke took extra classes three days a week in preparation for the West Africa Senior Secondary School Examination, which she was to write the next term. On those days, Fadeke would meet Tade in his class working on some sketch, as is his usual custom and they would talk for about one hour, so Fadeke could get home early enough to complete her homework and prepare dinner.

It was on one of those afternoons that Fadeke brought up a conversation about their future ambitions. He seemed to have concluded that he had no chance of ever attending a university or any tertiary institution. Fadeke could not understand why he would arrive at this conclusion; there were many things Fadeke did not understand about him. He never spoke about his family or background, she was not sure who his friends were and she definitely did not know where he lived. He somehow dodged her questions and focused on her plans, and for once, Fadeke failed to dig deeper. She had always wanted someone to listen to her, to ask her what she wanted to do with her life. Tade lend her his listening ears and she poured out her heart.

*********

Her Mum had drummed it into her ears how much she needed to ace her papers so she could gain admission into medical school. Fadeke was going to live her mother’s dreams. No one bothered to ask what she dreamt, how she foresaw her future, where she wanted to be, what she wanted to do. Her teachers seemed to have conspired with her mother. They simply looked at her examination results at the end of each term and tell her she was destined to be a medical doctor. No one asked if this was her dream, they simply assumed she would want to be a medical doctor. After all, she always aced her chemistry with such ease each term.

She had never been able to picture herself in white overalls walking down the long corridors typical of hospitals. Whenever she tried to imagine herself in those realities, the images that dropped in her mind were never ever clear, just blurred images of someone who looked like her, but was not her. Rather, she had always dreamt of stages and massive crowds dripping in their sweats, pushing, shoving and screaming her name out of frenzied excitement. The dreams were repetitive both at night and at daylight, they never left. She often dreamt of tours around the world, meeting her favourite artistes, watch them perform and even perform with them. She had only ever attended a live concert, one of the concerts at Liberty Park, Lagos. The images in her mind became much clearer at the concert. Initially, she was irritated at the girls behind her because they screamed so loud during the performances. She wanted to enjoy the lyrics and listen to the harmony of the instruments. These girls would not let her; they were over excited at the band playing their favourite songs, so they screamed all through. She missed some of the lyrics as a result. It was at this point she understood that musicians and artistes were performers and without the screams of the audience, performances were pointless. She wished she had more chances to attend live shows at Liberty Park but her mother would not agree, first, she would not allow her ‘waste’ her life and secondly, the shows ended late into the night. She was too young to be all alone at such ungodly hour, her mother would often say. She was only able to attend that one show because her mother had agreed after much persuasion to reward her brilliant academic performance.

Fadeke knew she was her mother’s joy and perceived ‘only hope’, she understood how much she meant to her mother, despite her sarcasm. She loved Fadeke very deeply, but she was like every average Nigerian parent. Nigerian parents dream dreams and hang the manifestation of their dreams on their children. Mrs. Onifade was not to be persuaded, her daughter would read medicine. She often rebuffed every attempt by Fadeke to turn her heart with the Yoruba proverb a fun o lobe o tami si; ogbon ju olobe lo?

*********

Fadeke sat for her examination and was confident that she was going to make excellent grades. While the examination lasted, Mrs. Onifade treated her like a baby and made sure she had no house chores. After each paper, Mrs. Onifade would ask for details and with her daughter’s confident response each day, her confidence in the dream began to take wing, ready to soar.

Unknown to Mrs. Onifade, Fadeke with the support of Tade, had put in psychology on her university matriculation examination application. Fadeke had asked Tade to accompany her to the cyber café to submit her application. They asked the cyber café attendant what course was close to medicine but less stressful. The attendant told them psychology or physiotherapy, so Tade and Fadeke told her to submit psychology. At least it was close to Mrs. Onifade’s dreams…

 

Interpretations

a fun o lobe o tami si; ogbon ju olobe lo? – We gave you some stew, you added water; you must be wiser than the cook.

 

 

MICAH STEPHEN: Africa And The Globe (Part Two)

[Continued from Part One]

Consequently, globalization created by liberalization, continues to be maintained by the liberalization of economic policies in several key areas. This presupposes that globalization is part of a broader trend called Marketization, which by its nature tends to generate international market failures, because it is uneven in intensity and scope and also because it impacts differently on different classes of people.

The paradox implicit in this point is underscored by Irene Fernandes, in “Globalization, the Economic Crisis & the Challenges to women”, when she attributed to globalization a three stage historical process. To her, Globalization, for the economies of the South, has three phases; the first phase came with Colonization where the North plundered the resources of the South. Colonization was fought and independence was presumably gained. However, the universalization of production and consumption patterns of already industrialized North which typified the second phase made the joy of independence pale out. What this phase did was to substitute traditional consumption patterns with contrived western states accentuated by the process of industrialization of essentially the North (the growing penchant of Africa of abandoning “local” markets, stalls and imbibing the glorified culture of shopping in Spar, Shoprites, Walmart not only changes consumption patterns but stifles the growth of small and medium enterprises which consequentially further deepens the rate of unemployment of the unsuspecting many).

The third present stage of globalization is that which emphasizes commercialization, trade liberalization and deregulation of most facets of life under the auspices of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization. This phase in terms of production techniques is marked by the tension in genetic engineering technologies.
Therefore, the tragedy is that Africa has to develop in tandem with the discretion, whims and caprices of her imperialists and their goons. So it was in 1885 in Berlin, so shall it continually be. In establishing the current order, the mind of Africa must be eroded, its essence must be distorted that she no longer recognises her own. What we are grappling with is a fundamental defect of pre-creation (as imperialists wove hitherto contrasting ethnic habitats into inconvenient states), pro-creation (inability of nationalists to answer or reconstitute the new states anew during creation) and post-creation (the complicity between the rudderless African leaders and the insistence of the imperialists to forge Africa to their taste). Thus to recreate Africa, Africans must be recreated through the process of acculturation.

Globalization therefore has a toxic effect on a continent trying to understand herself after years in the imperialists’ animal farm. It is still stagnated and left to clear the debris of misconception and misinformation that has pinned her down.
Ali Magrui captured the resultant paradoxes of the acculturation of Africa relative to Asia, and the consequential impact on economic growth of the two continents. First, he noted that despite a shared experience between the two continents (territorially almost the whole of Africa was colonized, while only 60 per cent of Asia was Temporally, however, Africa was colonized for a much shorter period than Asia), African values and cultures were disrupted much faster in spite of the brevity of the colonial experience.
So if Africa was culturally westernizing faster than Asia, why was Asia economically westernizing faster than Africa? While western culture may be good for economic performance in the west, this is not necessarily the case outside the west.

To be meaningful, there has to be the right balance between western technique and indigenous culture as the example after the Meiji restoration of 1868 shows. Singapore under Lee Kwon Yew also epitomizes the importance of not surrendering your cultural initiative in the face of spiralling interdependence of nations. Simply put, the more globalized the world gets, the more you deepen your indigenous values to withstand the erosive tendencies of the western ideologies.

To borrow, you may compromise on certain fronts, but you must not surrender. However in Africa, what is happening is cultural westernization without economic modernization. Thus, Africa is suffering from double jeopardy; westernizing too fast, and in the wrong areas of western culture. The effect is what Mazrui called Mal-modernization – a state of urbanization without industrialization, western states without western skills, capitalist greed without capitalist discipline, western consumption patterns without western production techniques.
With these negative indices, the competitive edge needed to cope with and derive the benefits of the globalization phenomenon, is lacking. This will make nonsense whatever economic and political structures or processes are inherited from the phenomenon.

For there to be the entrenchment of the essence of Africa in the consciousness of the globe, in order to accentuate the necessity of the development of Africa as a continent and as a people, the mind of the African must be imbued with the substance of knowledge of self. The environment of Africa must be explored with the support of other nations as colleagues, not as bosses who sit in Hague, New York or London to create a typhoon that Africa has to battle with. Africa must be wary of the toxic nature of globalization. In seeking for “a good society”, we need to be careful as to what constitutes it. Development antecedents have shown that culture, tradition and indeed values of the society in question are imperatives, as the Asian example typifies. This means that we should avoid the reflexibility belief that excessive individualism, freedom and western political systems are prerequisites to economic success.
Societal values and culture must be part of the political process so that a sense of belonging is felt by the people. Before political subjugation comes mental and intellectual subordination. African intellectual elites must be at the vanguard of leading the restoration of the continent and in the formulation of sound political ideas, ideals and ideologies.

Micah Stephen is a practising Lawyer. He tweets via @Micahesq

MICAH STEPHEN: Africa And The Globe. Part One

It is time to be bothered about fatherland. We might have coiled into a cave of denial just to escape from the corrosive effect of our malady: from the distasteful effect of colonialism on our psyche, the near impossibility of Africa to transform from a plundered, pillaged and thieved hemisphere, into a genuine modern state. Let us go the full cycle to acceptance, we are in a limbo. What she has as reality is a beehive of political bedlam, inter-tribal hubbubs caused by the forceful union of diverse empires into nation states. Unity achieved by the cudgel of force. But of more importance is the fate of this continent, in the hands of her former masters and their cohorts. We are being globalized, changed and short changed. They are the first world, we are the third world.

It must be noted that the largest chunk of the Third World is powerless and backward and will continue to be powerless and backward because it lacks the production of organic and indigenous knowledge to power its political, economic and technological development. Yet, the very notion of a huge chunk of Africa and some parts of Asia and Latin America as the Third World is steeped in remarkable ironies. Before it became a veritable and enduring marker of backwardness and underdevelopment, the radical and progressive leaders of these countries such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Surkarno of India, proposed the term at the Bandung conference as a way of distinguishing countries within their spheres of authority – countries which pursued a middle road policy of mixed economy as against capitalist and socialist countries which belong to the first and second worlds respectively.

Yet after the collapse of the Second World and actually existing socialist countries, one would have thought the term “Third World” would itself disappear, but it has clung to these countries like an ugly limpet. Tataalo Alamu has opined that the fact is that if knowledge is power, the production of knowledge is the production of power. Those societies that cannot produce organic and authentic knowledge will only produce powerlessness and utter poverty. This is because poverty of knowledge cannot lead to knowledge of poverty.

This poverty of knowledge is at the roots of Nigeria’s and Africa’s abysmal poverty and its continuous production of powerlessness in all its dimensions and ramifications despite outlandish oil riches. So the question is why has Africa been unable to produce her own knowledge? An endless list of corruption, nepotism, tribalism and at the apex of this pyramid is globalization.

There is a general agreement that the history of mankind (as of the world) is a history of one world order or the other. As Popoola puts it, “man’s existence has been one continuous struggle for the maintenance of an existing world order or the search to create a new world order”. To begin with, even though, globalisation as Ohiorhenuan, Mowlana, and Oyejide, Grieco and Holmes respectively opined, is a positive or powerful force for the improved material well-being of humankind, that would aid developing countries to “create better economic environments”, to “leapfrog” into the information age; improve their access to technology; speed development and enhance global harmony”, its effects on the political, economic, social and cultural nerves of the weaker member states cannot be ignored without severe consequences. In other words, the seeming near-consensus on the agenda of globalisation, notwithstanding the unrelenting encouragement of its “uneven thesis” does not give room for comfort, as it is exorbitantly costly to the developing nations. This is particularly so. in that globalisation affects developmental thinking and actions of the developing polities; relegates ethical equity and social concerns behind market consideration and reduces the autonomy of the independence states. According to Ohiorhenuan , it challenges the mediative role of the state vis-à-vis external pressures. It threatens the discretion of the state everywhere. Not only this, globalisation encourages “decreasing National control and increasing control over the (Internal) economy (of the state) by outside players. In fact, the gospel of globalisation through its economic liberalism “has been elevated to the position of absolute truth, a sort of pensee unique (or single theory) against which there is no credible alternative”. Indeed, globalisation is an awesome and terrifying phenomenon for African countries.

Concretely put, the planetary phenomenon of globalisation is nothing but a new order of marginalisation of the African continent. Its universalization of communication, mass production, market exchanges and redistribution, rather than engendering new ideas and developmental orientation in Africa, subverts its autonomy and powers of self-determination. It is rather by design than by accident that poverty has become a major institution in Africa despite this continent’s stupendous resources. Indeed, the developing countries/world burden of external debt has reached two trillion dollars (World Bank, 1994). In the process, it has enlivened the venomous potency of mass poverty and, its accompanying multidimensional depravity of the citizenry of all the requisite essence of meaningful living. It has disintegrated or disarticulated the industrial sector of most, if not all polities in Africa. This has been particularly evident in the areas of cost of production which has become uncomfortably high in most of the developing countries (e.g. Nigeria); also in the lack of government’s incentives to encourage local production; subversion of local products through high importation, currency devaluation; and depletion of foreign reserves. This clearly raises the problems of marginalization which is in reality, the dynamics of under development – the development of under development by the agents of development, Akindele, Gidado and Olaopo have submitted.

Nation-states in Africa today, rarely define the rules and regulations of their economy, production, credits and exchanges of goods and services due to the rampaging menace of globalisation. They are hardly now capable of volitionally managing their political, economic and socio-cultural development. S.T. Akindele, Ph.D; T.O. Gidado, M.Sc; and O.R. Olaopo; Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University in their article; “Globalisation, Its Implications and Consequences for Africa” explain that” globalisation has imposed heavy constraints on the internal management dynamics of most if not all the polities in Africa (e.g., Nigeria) where the government now finds it difficult in most cases to meet the genuine demands of the governed on many issues of national urgency (e.g., the June 1st, 2000, 50% hike in the prices of petroleum and related products and its attendant crippling national strike by the Nigerian workers). The reality in Nigeria today, as it is for most African nations, is that globalisation has made it immensely difficult for governments to provide social insurance – one of their central functions and one that has helped many developed nations to maintain social cohesion and domestic political support”. Trends like this have been largely dictated by the asymmetry of powers that accompany globalisation (i.e., inequality in the status of the members of the “villagized world” and, their inability to resist imposed policy options). In fact, this asymmetry which is undergirded by a system of production where capital rules has been clearly amplified by Madunagu (1999) when he claimed that ; “the result of globalisation in Africa, is basically a competition between the palatial centres (Developed World) and the slums (Africa) of the village where a preponderant majority of the people daily sink deeper into poverty and misery.”

The transition of the world from a bipolar to a unipolar world particularly in the last decade or two of the 20th century, in reinforcing the dominance of the US in world affairs, means the dominance of liberal philosophy regarding the political or economic or even legal affairs of man- a necessary offshoot of the present globalization process. Consequently, development today seems to be the adoption of liberal processes (democracy, human rights and liberal (market) economics) especially with the “demise” of communist world led by Russia and the gradual assimilation of China in the field of liberal economics. This imperialistic cultural dimension of globalisation, particularly in the area of “internet connectivity” which has often been used as a bait for luring Africa and other developing polities into the villagized world, has recently been put into perspective; thus the world is gradually moving in a unidirectional manner and, the tendency towards uniformity has never been so appealing as it is now. Consequently, there is a serious concern that nations like Nigeria whose contributions to the internet pool are high may lose their identity. A sort of cultural imperialism which will seek to enslave the African mind, leaving in its wake a cultureless or culturally-disoriented people may become a permanent feature of Africa and her people.

Two issues, consequently, stand out for clarification here. The one as to the type of development necessary for the people of the developing economies (including Nigeria) and the other as to whether globalization impacts positively on these peoples so as to attain that type of development. This analysis is necessary if we are to have a better picture of how we should build our state.

First and foremost, globalization is understood in economic and financial terms, where it seeks to broaden and deepen linkages of national economies into a worldwide market for goods, services and particularly capital. With the revolution in telecommunications and information technologies, dramatic increases in trade linkages, cross border capital flows as well as changes in form, structure and location of production have been witnessed. Benedict Kanyip in the book, “Consumer protection in Nigeria: Law, Theory and Policy” explains that these national linkages have however brought two additional impacts. The first is that because of developments in media technology and communication, globalization brings with it a growing tendency towards the universal homogenization of ideas, cultures, values and even lifestyles. He explained further that the second is a corollary of the first, which is, given the homogenization of ideas and indeed the dominance of western liberalism as exemplified by the United States, it is now fashionable to the economic growth and development with liberal democracy and its attending imperatives such as human rights. Although good governance is stressed, the impression given is that a necessary fall-out of liberal economics which emphasises such imperatives as privatization, deregulation and commercialization of developing economies is indispensable if they are to come out of their relative underdevelopment. This is in addition to other imperatives like right-sizing and retooling the civil service, upgrading the standard of personnel management, decentralizing and rationalizing government structures etc

………to be continued

UDOFIA JOSEPH: Chop my money

DISCLAIMER: ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ANYONE DEAD, NEAR-DEAD OR UNDEAD IS AN ABOLUTE MYSTERY
“Chop my money, chop my money. Chop my money, cos I don’t care”
(P Square’s song plays in the background at the Villa, as Daskuki strolls in)

Oga Egbele: Colonel. How far naa. Chop knuckle. Please have a seat
(Egbele pauses the song and takes a sip of his Jack Daniels. Do you mind some)
Daskuki: Don’t worry Oga. I came to discuss business
Oga Egbele: Ok. Go on.
Daskuki: We have exhausted the little you gave us. We need to bless more people
Oga Egbele: The only money available now is the Arms money.
Daskuki: Oga let us use it like that. My men can manage the one we have on ground. Just speak Iwe Alla. We need enough money. You know AFeeCee is gaining grounds
Oga Egbele: No problem. It is sorted.

As Daskuki strolls out, Egbele returns to his song. “I don’t care, don’t care don’t care”

LATER AT NIGHT….
Oga Egbele: Madam Iwe Alla. How are you doing. Hope you still keep contacts with your IMF friends. We’d need them in the future
Madam Iwe Alla: (Iweala speaks big grammar): Trust me.  I am doing just what you have me do.
Oga Egbele: How about what we discussed – Dasuki’s money.
Madam Iwe Alla: I’d forward it to your office so u append your signature in the morning.
Oga Egbele: Welcome my dear. That is why I love you. If only Mama Peace can speak good English like you.
Madam Iwe Alla: (Stifling a smile). Mr President. It is a good thing. At least, she can connect with the grassroots.  One more thing, Lamide is giving me issues at the Central Bank. You need to do something about him.
Oga Egbele: Trust me. I have started looking for a replacement. We’d see in the morning, good night
Madam Iwe Alla: Good night

MEANWHILE, AT BAFANAWA’S RESIDENCE, SOMEWHERE IN ABUJA
(Pastors speaking in tongues. Deliverance session going on in the Parlour. Incantations are heard in another room)
Daskuki strolls in

Daskuki: As salaam wa alaikum
Bafanawa: wa alaikum salaam. Please have a seat. To what do I owe this pavour?
Daskuki: I see you are a very spiritual man
Bafanawa: Yes o. You know politics demand us to be closer to God. You can see all these religious leaders are seriously praying.
Daskuki: So what is God saying about the elections
Bafanawa: (Consults with the spiritual people) They’ve been fasting for a while. The latest revelation are that Buhari will win. We need to act fast.
Daskuki. Name the price
Bafanawa: We need to appease the Christian God, Muslim God and the God of our forefathers. For the Christian God, we’d do that in collaboration with Pastor Ayor. I think his God will be content with Gold chains. For the Muslim God, we’d send the Senior Imam some Tasbih and some slim ladies. For the God of our forefathers, they quite demand a lot. Let me get the list
(Bafanawa leaves to consult with the Spiritual head)
Bafanawa: Here it is. We need two coconut-white fowls with pepper-red combs, Two he-goats with ponmo brown skin, Cotton-wool white attire to be worn by seven 40-year old virgins, some palm wine. Everything should amount to N100m
Daskuki:  I’d send you the money tomorrow

DASKUKI RETURNS TO MEET OGA EGBELE THE FOLLOWING DAY
(A call comes in while in the waiting room)

Bafanawa: Thank you very much Oga. I have gotten the money
“I don get alert, na GodWin”, a line from Korede Bello’s Godwin,  is heard playing in the background
Daskuki:  Don’t thank me. It is our national cake. Just get the job done
Bafanawa: Yes Oga. Nagode

(OGA EGBELE’S SECRETARY USHERS DASKUKI INTO THE THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE)

Daskuki: The last stop are the Party Chieftains. If we get them on our side, we’d crush AFeeCee.
Oga Egbele:  That’s a great suggestion.
Daskuki: Any suggestions. The AFeeCee is strong in the S/West.
Oga Egbele: Try Pa Ifalaye. He knows a lot about the Presidential Race. And lest I forget, arrange a dinner few days to the election. I need to appreciate everyone that is contributing to my re-election.
Daskuki: Yoo waa….

(DASKUKI STEPS OUT TO CALL PA IFALAYE)
Daskuki: Pa Ifalaye. How are you doing?
Pa Ifalaye: Colonel. I am doing great. To what do I owe this call?
Daskuki: I have a small parcel coming your way. We need your support against AFeeCee
Pa Ifalaye: Hehehe. I understand. You know the rules, rub my back, I rub your back
Daskuki: Correeect! 100 units is coming your way in a moment
Pa Ifalaye: Fee Dee Fee
Daskuki:  Power to the people

Minutes later, a black SUV arrives Pa Falaye’s office
A young man is ushered into Pa Ifalaye’s office:

Man: Good day Sir, We have the parcel

Pa Ifalaye: Thank you. My regards to your Boss.
(Man exists the office)

(He inspects the Ghana-Must-Go bag and begins to ruminate)
Ahh. I can’t tell them they sent 100 million. Ki ni ma s’ofun awon omo yii. These Yoruba people are smart. Errm.
Yes. I will stage a kidnap. I can say I bailed myself with N95m. I’d just give the kidnappers 10m to keep quiet and keep 85m. Hehehhehehehehhehehe

FEW DAYS TO THE ELECTION
Presidential Banquet. Iwe Alla strolls in on hot spaghetti with gele to match. Ladoje is adorned on faded Ankara. As Oga Egbele walks in on his Texan cap, the DJ plays “Stand up for the champion”
Daskuki: Oga Egbele. Truly you are a champion. Congratulations in advance
Oga Egbele: Thanks a lot. Hope you covered your tracks, else America will know

All present exchange pleasantries and dance into the middle of the night

DELE OMOARUKHE: Premier League Wednesday Preview.

CHELSEA V WEST BROMWICH ALBION (KICK OFF: 20.45, STAMFORD BRIDGE, WEST LONDON)

The feel-good factor is back and results are steadily improving- The players are responding to Guus Hiddink’s methods to positive consequences.

It is fascinating that a Chelsea team that were struggling to pick up results have suddenly developed a winning mentality, a lesson to all coaches that no matter how good you are, you must have good people management skills to get the best from a team.

This Chelsea team has been totally transformed in recent weeks, with players playing with broad smiles across their faces and performance levels seemingly raised. However, much should not be read into this mini-revival as one poor result could burst their bubble.

I don’t expect the wheels of this growing  Chelsea machine to fall off against an inconsistent West Brom team, who have not set the world alight this term, no thanks to the uncertainty surrounding the future of star forward Saido Berahino. As a punter, I will look no further than a comfortable Chelsea win
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION: CHELSEA 2- 0 WEST BROMWICH ALBION

MANCHESTER CITY V EVERTON
(KICK OFF: 20.45, ETIHAD STADIUM, MANCHESTER)

Almost every pundit’s favourite to lift their third EPL crown in five years. You still feel this Manchester City side have a lot more about them than they are offering.  Often times, it seems like they are playing on a second gear. One fears that this inconsistency may deny them glory when the top prize is given out in May.

I feel this city team will get into gear come the business end of the season, thanks in no part to their in-depth strength, and there is the belief that if they can get Kun Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva all fit for sustained periods, added to the obvious talents of Yaya Toure and Kevin de Bruyne, they have more than enough to lift the title.

Tonight, I also expect them to beat a highly entertaining but inconsistent Everton side, which guarantee great entertainment. In Romelu Lukaku, the league has the top flight’s in-form forward, but there are doubts that Everton have the necessary grit to see out this win and move up the table.

I expect a great performance tonight against this City side though. Expect goals and a City win.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION- MANCHESTER CITY 3 – 1 EVERTON

SOUTHAMPTON V WATFORD
(KICK OFF 20.45, ST MARY’S STADIUM SOUTHAMPTON)

What a difference 12 months can make! At this time last year, we were toasting to a refreshing Southampton side, making all the right noises, challenging the so called “big boys” and refusing to be overwhelmed by their might, playing a fearless and refreshing brand of total football, and well-orchestrated by boss Ronald Koeman which culminated in European qualification. Fast forward 12 months and this Southampton side are struggling to regain their identity, no thanks to the sale of key players. Worse still, they are facing the ignominy of a relegation battle.

Their season has unravelled due to gross indiscipline on the field and transfer saga off it.  Ronald Koeman has a job on his hands but not that this Watford side will readily make it easy for him, as they have been highly impressive all season. Gritty, yet entertaining, credit should be given to Quique Sanchez Flores for masterminding their push for Premier League survival and probable European qualification.

His intelligence and calm nature had rubbed off on the side and in Troy Deeney and especially our very own Odion Jude Ighalo, they have a front line to trouble any defence, Ighalo has proven himself to be the real deal and better things are expected from him, including a move in the coming summer, to a bigger club.
In this game, considering the strength of both sides being equally matched and the stakes involved, I will go for a safe score- A draw
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION-SOUTHAMPTON 1 – 1 WATFORD

STOKE CITY V NORWICH CITY
(KICK OFF 20.45, THE BRITANNIA STADIUM, STOKE ON TRENT)

A battle involving two possible mid-table sides should make for captivating viewing. It’s been amazing to see the evolution of Stoke from the boring and irritating long ball side of yesteryearS (ask Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans), to a thoroughly entertaining attacking outfit. This is credited to their recruitment and scouting processes, led by Coach Mark Hughes.

Stoke boats of 4 European Cup winners in the team, a feat hard to match, considering how hard it is to sign players these days. These signings have given them a fresh attacking impetus and a refreshing continental flavour, and in Bojan Krkic they have one of the top performers in the division.The only hindrance to their progression as a proper outfit, is their inconsistency, a trait Mark Hughes should cater for, if he wants this team to fulfil its great potential.

In their opponents tonight, they have one of the brightest young coaches in Alex Neil. His rise from Hamilton Academicals to taking Norwich to the Premier League while shocking the EPL big boys has been nothing short of outstanding. He has drawn parallels with another great Scot who ruled the EPL with his genius.

Norwich come across as a plucky side but are willing to play football if given the opportunity, and I expect them to give the survival battle a good go. Looking at the intimidating imitation of hell in the Britannia and also against this impressive Stoke outfit, I can only see one winner.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION- STOKE CITY 2-  0 NORWICH CITY

SWANSEA CITY V SUNDERLAND
(KICK OFF 20.45, LIBERTY STADIUM, SWANSEA, SOUTH WALES)

It is a mystery how Swansea’s season unravelled after their impressive win over Manchester United. In the heat of it,  prodigious manager, Gary monk was axed. Credit to new manager, Alan Curtis, he has steadied the ship and halted the decline with some good results.

Swansea still have good players but they need their confidence levels to increase and they look a side short on numbers and on goals, and with the sale of Jonjo Shelvey to Newcastle they look increasingly light. They will struggle but I don’t expect them to be relegated, they are too good a squad to.
At Sunderland however, I can’t say the same about their survival prospects, but if they do survive, I believe their best transfer acquisition is the appointment of Sam Allardyce as their manager. His appointment has given Sunderland their best shot at survival because he is versed in the survival game, we all know what we get with ‘Big Sam’, the football might not be pretty but he gets the right results.

With him at the helm, I expect Sunderland to give the survival rat race a good fight but in this game of low scoring sides struggling at the wrong end of the table, I feel they will come unstuck at Swansea.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION-SWANSEA 1-0 SUNDERLAND

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V LEICESTER CITY
(KICK OFF: WHITE HART LANE TOTTENHAM, NORTH LONDON)

A prospectively thrilling game involving two of the stories of the season so far. These two sides have reminded us neutrals why we stay glued to a television set at pubs, viewing centres and in our homes. We were given an awesome audition of what we expect tonight, in their thrilling F.A cup tie over the weekend.

Tottenham, under Mauricio Pochettino have been a revelation, their high press- cavalier style of football built on a youthful side has won many admirers. His usage of previously discarded signings from previous managers like Moussa Dembele and Erik Lamela to distinction, coupled with his breeding of budding talents like Harry Kane and Dele Alli has made the Press tip him for greater things, Real Madrid or Manchester United, maybe?

They are on course for European qualification and with the unpredictability of a season, in line to be the lowest, in terms of points required to be Champions, don’t discount this Spurs team to be dark horses for the title.

But for every dark horse and genuine contender, there is a team for the romantics, the surprise package. The Foxes of Leicester are proving to be that, this year. They have been incredibly consistent for over a year now and despite changes in management, they have kept momentum going.

In Jamie Vardy, they have the tale of the season so far (a great advert for Drake’s Started from the bottom smash hit) and also in Riyad Mahrez, they have one of the division’s top performers. In this game between the 2nd and 4th, I will go for a draw, featuring lots of entertainment.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION: TOTTENHAM 1 – 1 LEICESTER CITY

LIVERPOOL V ARSENAL
(KICK OFF: 20.45, ANFIELD STADIUM, LIVERPOOL)
In this game between traditional heavy weights of English and European football, pencil down and anticipate an abundance of excitement, passion, drama and energy.
In Arsenal, you have the division’s most consistent performers. While others have wobbled, the Gunners keep racking up important results and they have developed a harder spine to tackle the general criticism of having a soft mentality. No thanks to their master stroke in signing serial title winner and top performer Petr Cech, and in Mesut Ozil, you have arguably the division’s top performer. Credit for his upturn in form should be given to relentless support from “le Professeur” Arsene Wenger.
There is talk of lack of depth in key areas, but with the imminent transfer of a capable performer in Mohammed Elneny, that should be temporarily masked. Even without signings, they have trudged on and frankly, a fully fit Arsenal team should win this unpredictable league on a canter. Will their constant title race naivety resurface to haunt them?  Your guess is as good as mine.
For Liverpool, they made a shrewd acquisition in hiring world class quality in Jurgen Klopp and despite inconsistent results, I personally see him as the real deal. Owners and fans know they should be patient because he is suffering from the recruitment errors of previous managers and I feel with time a stronger Liverpool team will emerge. An emerging problem though this season, is that the players available are struggling to adapt to the demands of his “heavy metal” high press philosophy which has led to them having multiple injuries particularly hamstrings, evident by the amount of mileage they cover per game.
I expect this game to be tight, with  fireworks, entertainment and passion- Partly how firebrand ‘kloppo’ will like it and partly due to the philosophies of the respective coaches.
Due to the fact that this Arsenal team look more settled and Liverpool are undergoing a mini injury crisis and transition, I expect a close Arsenal victory on the night.
CHARMANT’S PREDICTION- LIVERPOOL 1- 2 ARSENAL

MICAH STEPHEN: THE ARMS, THE ARMY AND THE ARMAGEDDON

The Armageddon is really nigh. There is nothing as precise and accurate an explanation as that. Nationals are increasing their knack to bear arms against the State. As each second ticks, the idea of genuine national rebirth or rearmament of the nation for genuine transformation seems to be as inane as it gets. Nothing can be more shameful. Woe unto a nation that is afraid of its nationals. Woe betides the nation that is scared of imposing its laws within its territory. To the thoughtful, these are strange times. The Shiites debacle that occurred a fortnight ago shows that Nigeria is still an idea, it has not evolved in its fullness. A time will come when this historical and political merry-go-round will come to a halt. When rhetoric of national unity will be exhausted and reality will unfurl. Meanwhile, as always, our responses have been filled with crass indecision and acutely implausible arguments powered by religious innuendos.

Let us lay it as bare as possible; a bunch of miscreants in the name of religious beliefs, armed with machetes, planks and other dangerous weapons, mounted a road block. In the ensuing intervening events, the Chief of Army Staff who by a stroke of sheer fate, was passing by and needed that road as a route, happened to meet a resistant bunch of scoundrels, claiming he had no right of way. A mental replay; the Nigerian soldier that we have grown to know is passing by your neighbourhood and without any reason; you said he had no right of way. Well, without equivocation, a slap and a kick would have been the most civil of responses you would have got. But this Chief of Staff, for some consideration ( I doubt if it is mere dictates of reason, or maturation of the soldier’s mind, or awareness of fundamental human rights which the soldier considers mundane) came down in person to beg the machete-wielding goons to leave the road. A plea they turned down. Their “civil” responses were chants and abuses, with some of them claiming that even if the president was passing, he would not be allowed. Now that is as unreasonable as it can get.  Few hours after the altercation, many were on their way to the afterlife. Well, let the dying bury the dead.

To my utmost chagrin, many have berated the army for being blood-thirsty and having flagrant disregard for human rights. Many a phrases have been thrown into the marketplace that is the internet, like “the reckless” , “unprofessional” Nigerian soldiers. Without any ounce of apology, I say poo. I think we have been stressed by the caterwauling state of the Nation, that proper analysis of happenstances is no longer our forte. And we are also being dragged along the global penchant for political correctness, that we say things as soothingly as possible, even if untrue. And I must also say that we have evolved an attitude of greeting the efforts of our armed forces with derision and ridicule. Nigeria is a fundamentally flawed state with fundamentally flawed institutions, but our arms men in spite of their much avowed irritability have held their own very well. The political and security architecture of the nation will stress any armed force anywhere in the world no matter how best equipped, talk less of an ill equipped one as ours. Our armed forces are handling the rage of internal security challenges, national orientation programmes in NYSC, external aggressions, international collaborations etc, and still they are always derided by the people they protect. It is as unconscionable an attitude as it can get.

We are currently in a dicey situation, a semblance of terrorist attack against the state, which in the rambling odyssey of our nation, we have never experienced. We have lost many lives and properties, consequentially stretched beyond limits, by the travails of our displaced compatriots and stretchered by the tragedy of the yet-to-return chibok girls. All these oddities emanating from this same zone. We have so much wailed at the number of our maimed friends, but we have not asked ourselves the numbers of dead soldiers. What I saw was a soldiers’ chief who in all civility, tried to douse an unwarranted tension caused by the arms-bearing young ones. He did what we do not always see a Nigerian soldier do. He should be commended not condemned, he tried his possible best.

The militarization of religious sects is the reason we are where we are. There are efforts being put in place to pacify the aggrieved sect. Once again, as always, we dress our problems, we do not address them. Ethno-religious militarization is the effect of the inability of the state to impose itself when it is faced with challenges. People are talking about caution. There is nothing; absolutely nothing to be cautious about, but to uproot this menace totally. These people can never be assuaged. That Iran was the first to raise eyebrow (reports have it that Ibrahim Yakub Elzakzaky even called an aide of Iran’s president), shows that we are yet to see the last of this sect. While rummaging through informations available on the Shiites, I found an open letter written by one Abdussamad Umar Jibia, an associate professor     and Head of Department of Mechatronics Engineering Bayero University Kano, quite instructive and educative. It is crucial to note that this open letter, predates the current hullabaloo as it had been written as far back as May 12, 2015. The academic is a seer. He stated that “it is well known that the original members of the group known as Boko Haram or Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’wati wal Jihad as they call themselves were students of one Muhammadu Yusuf who lived and preached in Maidugri until his death in the hand of the Nigerian Police in 2009. It is also well known that the final episode that led to confrontation between his disciples and security forces was the refusal of his followers to obey simple driving rules like the wearing of helmets by motorcyclists. However, my reason for writing you this letter is not Boko Haram. It is something worse than Boko Haram. Yes worse. It is a sect more dreadful than Boko Haram that has established itself in all strata of Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. They are in the civil service. They are in business. Their members have deliberately come close to several unsuspecting politicians of note. It is Shia”. He stated further that “Shia was embraced by Persians because they saw it as an opportunity to distort a religion that destroyed their kingdom and culture. After the Iranian revolution which was led by Shiite scholars, the government of Iran set an agenda to spread Shia to other countries. In Nigeria, this task was to be carried out by one Ibrahim Yakub Elzakzaky. The man Elzakzaky devised several strategies to achieve his mission. First, he banked on the gullibility of some Muslim youth who could easily be misled by slogans like ‘Islamic revolution’, ‘establishment of Islamic state’, ‘total change’, etc. …….”

He continued “There is plenty more on Shiites and their doctrine. What, however, would be of major concern to your Government is their notoriety in dealing with Government and fellow Nigerians. Way back in the 1990s, the Shiites constituted a major threat to the public in Kaduna state. For a period, any Islamic preacher who dared to criticize Ibrahim Elzakzaky or Ayatullahi Khomaini in his preaching was attacked and beaten in his house in the presence of his wife and children.

The main activities of Shiites are demonstrations which they organize on specific occasions like the Quds and Ashura days. During these demonstrations, they block main roads in cities across the North and intimidate the public including the Police whose permission they do not seek. Last year, this type of event led to a clash between the Army and the sect members leading to the death of several people including three children of Mallam Ibrahim Elzakzaky. In addition, these heretics organize an annual pilgrimage to Zaria for which they trek in large groups from certain points to go and meet their leader. In the process of this long trek, they block major highways and create a lot of havoc for travelers. This is watched by the security agents and nothing is done to stop it. Like the Boko Haram of Muhammadu Yusuf, the Shiites have no regard for any rule, no matter how harmless it is….”

I would have continued the reduction of his letter but for space constrains. What we have at hand is an Armageddon waiting to happen. It is no time for ethnic masturbation or stroking religious egos. Disaster is waiting to occur. If the Northern Elite in the long term refuses to reinvent their region anew through mass education of the populace, that part will be torn into shreds by needless extremism. In the short term, all appearances of extremism should be nipped in the bud. No two ways about it. Else the only way is hell.. Arms must be wrestled away by the Army to prevent this impending Armageddon. I stand by the Army on this.