Sunday, October 29, 2006

ADC Plane Crashes

Another plane crash and the fourth fatal one within the last year.

A Sokoto-bound ADC plane crashed shortly after take-off from the Abuja airport, killing about 104 people. There are believed to be 6 survivors. The flight manifest has not been released yet, but the Sultan of Sokoto and his son were among the victims.

On October 23, 2005, a Bellview Airlines plane crashed near Lagos killing all 117 passengers.

On December 10, 2005, a Sosoliso Airlines plane going from Abuja to Port Harcourt crashed, killing all 108 people on board. Many of the passengers were schoolchildren going home for the Christmas holidays.

In September 2006, 10 senior army commanders were killed when their military plane crashed.

In November 1996, an ADC plane crashed and killed all 146 people aboard the Boeing 727 as the pilot tried to avoid a head-on collision with another airplane.

The poor air safety record is something that Nigerians have had to live with for a long while, though this last year's crashes have created a growing sense of unease. Last night I read a BBC journalist's experience with engine problems on a local flight. The story was meant to highlight Nigerian's ability to laugh in the face of adversity. It was funny and sad at the same time. Nigerians may have been deemed the "happiest people in the world", but perhaps it's time we started facing our issues with a greater degree of seriousness and less laughter.

The Cost of Doing Good

One of the projects I oversee at work is a youth career initiative and this is easily my favourite part of my job. However, raising money to fund the program's activities has been tough. Since we are currently planning the last event for this year, money is most definitely on our mind and I have been thinking all week about how we can raise more money for the project. Reading Jeremy's blog, I realise that our predicament is far from uncommon. We have a program that we believe whole-heartedly to be worthwhile and cannot understand why it is not attracting more support.

During a courtesy visit to a national paper this week, we received a lot of encouragement for our work but the journalists easily identified why we appear to be having a hard time. Nigeria is so much about who you know and who knows you. They advised us to lean on personal contacts a lot more than we have been doing. This will enable us to reach the people who need to hear about our work and who have the resources to support us. They also advised partnering with the government to establish a more stable source of funding and effect wider-readching changes.

Ah, the government! I see the wisdom in their advice, but previous experiences reaching out to various government institutions has been tedious and fraught with multiple levels of bureaucracy. If anything, it has taught me patience, which I freely admit that I am lacking in.

How do non-profits and NGOs manage to sustain their work over a long period of time, aside from relying on the grants that come in every now and again? Work doesn't stop just because your grant has! So, how do they manage to raise enough money to keep going from day to day?

An Evening of Contemporary Nigerian Music

The annual MUSON (Musical Society of Nigeria) music and arts festival started this week. I remember attending some of the events in the festival last year and was so tripped by how quickly 2006 has zipped by. It'll be December before you know it (another birthday and another year older) and 2007 will come knocking. For some wierd reason, I prefer even numbered years to odd (what can I say? I guess we all have our little quirks).

Back to MUSON, the concert I attended on Friday night was a celebration of contemporary Nigerian music and featured Beautiful Nubia, Dafe Oghoghome and the African Liberation Band, Wura and Glorious Golden Voices. No, I hadn't heard of any of the performers before that night, but I still had a good time. The headline act was Beautiful Nubia and he apparently has a huge following (more so in Canada, where he was based until recently it appears). Although I enjoyed his music, I resisted buying a CD afterwards because it is never quite the same experience. There's so much to be said for live performances.

I was surprised that there were so many young people in the audience. MUSON events tend to be dominated by old fogies (apologies to the old fogies reading this).

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I have been following the 3rd season of Project Runway, via iTunes and hadn't yet watched the final two episodes. I found out who the previous season's winner was before-hand and I didn't want that to happen this time around, so I have been desperately avoiding all entertainment websites and blogs (yes, Angela, Seke told me that I had better add yours to my list of Blogs Not to Visit).

Anyway, I just watched it and can breathe a sigh of relief. No, my favourite contestants (Ulli and Micheal) did not win! But now I can surf without restraints.

I didn't really like Jeffery's collection, though I liked a lot of his work during the season. I cannot profess to be a real fashion expert (I know what I like, to be sure), but I agree with the judges' assessment that he is very innovative and takes risks. I felt bad for him when he was accused of not making his clothes by himself. I thought that the fact that he looked genuinely stunned by the accusation and did not spew out a stream of invectives (which would have been a more typical Jeffery reaction) was an indication that he was innocent. It was clear that the other designers felt intimidated by his collection - especially Laura.

BTW, his girlfriend's mohawk was very cute. Hmmmm, I wonder how I would look with one .....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Eating Out

I love to eat. I especially love to eat out - a passion acquired, I suppose, in my years away from home. I just discovered the blog, Boston Chomps, devoted to eating out in Boston (courtesy of The Boomer Chronicles). I visited a lot of restaurants while I lived in Boston, but there were still so many left undiscovered (maybe that was one of the sadder aspects of my leaving the city).

I can tell I'm going to have fun reading both blogs.

I Love My Job

I saw this on Nurse Ratched's Place and thought it was so cute. I am sure it totally describes the way most people feel about their jobs - NOT!

I Love My Job
By Dr. Seuss

I love my job, I love the pay!
I love it more and more each day.
I love my boss, he's the best!
I love his boss and all the rest!

I love my office and its location,I hate to have to go on vacation.
I love my furniture, drab and grey, and piles of paper that grow each day.
I think my job is really swell,there's nothing else I love so well!
I love to work among my peers, I love their leers, and jeers and sneers.
I love my computer and its software.
I hug it often though it won't care. I love each program and every file.
I'd love them more if they worked a while.

I'm happy to be here. I am. I am.
I'm the happiest slave of the Firm I am.
I love this work, I love these chores.
I love the meetings with deadly bores.
I love my job - I'll say it again - I even love those friendly men.
Those friendly men who've come today,
In clean white coats to take me away!!!

Book Meme

Tagged by tuckergurl. I got this from Angela ages ago, but some memes are harder to do than others and even though I love reading, this is one of those that I had to think very hard about. Oh, my poor brain!

1. One book that changed your life?
Dont' you just hate it how you can think of answers to questions like this when no one is actually asking for your opinion, but when they do, you can't even recall the last thing you read?

Okay, contenders for this might be Martha Quest by Doris Lessing and So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba. Well, I'm not sure that I can say that they changed my life, but they both had a big impact on me. Also, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume.
Well, I'll probably think of something to add to the list later.

2. One Book That You've Read More Than Once.
I haven't re-read a book in the last 10 years or so (no time), so this will have to be one of the books I read as a girl. Where do I start? All of the Mallory Towers and St. Clares' series by Enid Blyton. Infact, anything by Enid Blyton. Or Judy Blume or Paula Danziger. I loved the African Writers' Series and read and re-read many of the books, especially Welcome Home, Chijioke.

3. One Book That You'd Want On A Desert Island.
This would have to be something light-hearted and funny so that I could re-read it as many times as I wanted. Maybe one of the books in the William series by Richmal Crompton.

4. One Book That Made You Laugh.
See # 3. Ake by Wole Soyinka was also really funny.

5. One Book That Made You Cry.
Again, where do I start from? Recently I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and that was very sad, but I don’t think it made me cry exactly.

Possibly A Fine Balance or So Long a Journey by Rohinton Mistry. His characters tend to get clobbered by an avalanche of misery like I have never seen before. Again, I can’t remember whether these actually made me cry or not.

6. One Book That You Wish You Had Written.
I remember really loving In the Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai and thinking that the writing was just so beautiful.

I really love dry, sarcastic wit a la Margaret Atwood (probably her essays more so than her books) and wish I could write that way. I would also love to write something like one of the William books (by Richmal Crompton).

Edited to Add: A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipul.

7. One Book You Wish Had Never Been Written.
It’s hard to say something like this about a writer’s work. Writing a book is hard work and sometimes books don’t turn out the way you had hoped they would. Also, writing is a skill that you are continually honing so what one might call a crappy book may really be helping the writer get to the next level of skill and experience.

Okay, I’m sure that by the time I post this, I would have thought of a really God-awful book.

8. One Book That You Are Reading Right Now.
Boaz Brown by Michelle Stimpson. It is a Christian romance. I have never read one before and it is one of the last things I ordered from Black Expressions (an African-American targeted book club). I was very curious to know what a Christian romance novel would be like. It has been interesting so far.

Before I started Boaz Brown, I started Persuasion by Jane Austen. The story caught my interest and I have never read a Jane Austen book. I thought that it was about time.

9. One Book That You Have Been Meaning To Read.
Hmmm, how much time do we have? I bought Vanity Fair by William Thackeray in March and have been waiting for my next vac to read it.

I haven’t read a Charles Dickens book as an adult and started Hard Times about four years ago. I picked it up because it was the slimmest of his books that I found. I still haven’t finished it, but the bit I read was very funny. After that, I want to move on to Great Expectations, a present from my brother who felt that I would enjoy it.

10. Tag five others that you would like to do this meme.
I don’t like to tag people. I feel that it is like passing on the pain, but I have to say that I really enjoyed doing this. I tag Everchange/Two, Ayoola, Pilgrimage, Adefunke, Black Looks and anyone else who wants to do it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Kiran Desai Wins Man Booker Prize

On Tuesday night, Kiran Desai was announced as the winner of this year's Man Booker Prize for her novel The Inheritance of Loss.

Kiran Desai also happens to be the daughter of one of my favourite writers, Anita Desai, so I'm happy for Kiran's win. I haven't read The Inheritance of Loss or her first novel Hullabaloo in the Guava Garden.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Sitting in Eko Hotel this afternoon, I felt like I could have been almost anywhere in the world, with the ethnic diversity represented in the people who sat round the pool. I was curious and wanted to go round talking to people there to find out what their stories were and what brought them to Nigeria.

There was a group of mostly Americans (going by their accents) sitting close to us. They were such a disparate group and I wondered whether they were exchange students, expatriates, tourists or part of the entourage of any of the artistes perfoming in the This Day concert. Nigeria is still not somewhere where I imagine people visit for fun. I think that it is still largely one of those countries that you visit for a specific reason - usually work-related - and not purely for pleasure. This is a belief borne from interactions with many foreigners living in Nigeria.

Two of the ladies in the group had natural hair. One wore hers in an afro and the other in a twist-out. I realised how much I miss wearing my own hair out. I have definitely been wearing my hair in more conservative styles over the last 9 months. If I don't step out of the box in which I am placing myself, I will find myself in a braids-only rut. Wait, didn't I blog about this dilemma already? Okay, time to do something about it.

Almost Star Sightings

I hung out at the Eko Hotel for a bit today. When we got there, we found the lobby filled with a lot of young people. My friend and I wondered what was going on. Anyway, we kept on moving to the poolside, where we sat for close to an hour with me in delicious-hot-chocolate nirvana (it is very hard to find hot chocolate in Lagos made the way I like it i.e. creamy, sweet and frothy).

Sometime after we sat down, it occured to me that the stars performing in This Day's Independence concert were probably staying at the Eko Hotel after all it is probably the best and well-known hotel in Lagos. When we were getting ready to pay and leave, we heard a lot of screaming coming from the lobby. My friend and I joked that Beyonce and Jay-Z were probably passing through the lobby. We were silent for a while as we realised that it could possibly be true. In that instant we both hurriedly packed up our stuff and walked as fast as we could towards the lobby (you know, in that walk-fast-while-trying-not-to-run way). Of course, by the time we got to the lobby there was no one to be seen, just excited teenagers peering into their camera phones. I heard someone say something about Missy.

As we walked to my car, my friend wondered why we should care if a celebrity was in the vicinity or not.

"Well, I guess because they are on TV" she offered. "And they appear so glamorous" I added. I felt quite ashamed that I should care at all. I mean what has Beyonce done for me lately?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Visit to the Garden City

There are bloggers who don't post for weeks and "it ain't no thing." I feel itchy (not to mention slightly guilty) when I haven't posted in a few days. Okay, make that a week.

I was in Port Harcourt this last week for work. One of the things that I appreciate most about my job is that I am getting to see some different parts of the country. Prior to my recent trips to PH, I'd gone years ago, while still in secondary school, to visit my BFF who was living there at the time. I remember it as being a rather quiet and clean city. My, what a difference a few years makes.

Port Harcourt was certainly a lot dirtier than I recollect from my teenage visits, but maybe then I really had no idea. Since it's currently rainy season and, like many Nigerian cities, PH lacks adequate drainage, dirty water pooled on the sides of the street making it virtually unpassable for pedestrians, unless they chose to wade in it (which they usually had to do since there was no alternative).

"Ha!" I would exclaim with derision whenever anyone told me about how bad Port Harcourt traffic is. Nothing could possibly beat Lagos go-slow. Well, PH traffic is definitely nowhere as bad as Lagos's, but it did manage to surpass my expectations.

Then of course, there was the 'restiveness' in the air (sorry to use such an over-used word), or maybe this was a result of my own prior expectations from all I had read about Port Harcourt. That there is a heavy police presence is undeniable and it feels very strange at first. I suppose after a while you cease to notice them much.

Having to fly into Owerri or Calabar is quite inconvenient. We flew into Owerri and made the approximately two-hour journey to PH. Despite the fact that the roads were quite bad, drivers still managed to speed down them miraculously avoiding falling down crater-like pot-holes.

The descriptor "Garden City" definitely conveys the wrong impression of what Port Harcourt is like, or maybe it harks back to long gone glory days.