The last time Jaiye was in London, we were supposed to meet up to catch a movie, and I got to him late. The way he scolded me eh! Wow… but that’s just the kind of person he is. Big brother, super writer, someone I really look up to. After all the scolding, we had a great time watching Thor 2, and then munching on wedges and potato skins!
I don’t remember how we first met, but I remember catching up at lunches in Abuja, and Jaiye being gracious enough to do an interview for a class project during my Master’s Degree. I’m super excited he could write, I literally bullied him into doing this on a weekend he was very busy! What else are big brothers for?
My name is Jaiyeola Jeffrey Ifihan, I’m a Geoscientist and I’ve been set up.
Life for a writer with long-standing memory block becomes extremely daunting when alter-egos are suspended just for the real person to show up.
Outside my Nine to Five, I have/had pretended to have a life as a writer, Poet and I’ve been to the studio to record severally, most of which found their way to some lone archives in my computer while some made it to blogs. A video made it to TV but was ‘too revolutionary’ to last on air. Come to think of it, who does a video about Nigeria’s dark history when there is an unwritten gag order on it? (Four years after, it would be the turn of Half of a Yellow Sun to receive a post-dated unwritten memo on this gag order).
Okay, focus Jeff. Your alter-egos are not here to help you.
I lost faith in the Nigerian project sometime somewhere. Perhaps there are species of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (yeah, keep the two) who go to bed full of Faith and wake up Atheists, I think mine was a slow process.
The emotional drain of the Occupy Nigeria protests of January 2012, the disdain the green passport attracts almost everywhere in the world, the realization out of the blue that Nigerian Youth have morphed into ‘uber-divisive’ beings. Somewhere in-between, my Faith got lost.
When it comes to the Nigerian, the 3D body scanners just won’t do. I once travelled in a track-down to avoid the pull-your-belt syndrome, but that was the very day that I got an extra security-smooch in Schiphol. It hurt when I observed people with a lighter tone of skin underwent lighter scrutiny.
It is a paranoid world. Everywhere you go, you are constantly reminded. Dogs willing to sniff out the bush meat in your baggage, airport P.A Systems warning you not to crack jokes with airport security, buying TSA padlocks because the requirement for visiting Yankee is to surrender the privacy of your baggage. Yet, the Airport Terminals connecting Flights to Nigeria are super crowded. No love shown outside, we return, to a Nation that shows us no Love, just MMIA (Murtala Muhammed International Airport) heat.
Somehow, the past 6 months had me crossing more time-zones than I have in a life-time, and passing through more Airport Terminals. Each experience fuelled my despondence about Nigeria.
Imagine we had the Underground Rail in Nigeria. Imagine we had a Country that issues 14 day Visa just for tourists to visit and spend their hearts out. Imagine our Airports had Museums where you can catch a glimpse of our ‘Heroes Past’. Scratch that, who are our heroes?
Our heroes are regional household gods who become villains once their names cross their geopolitical zones.
Read the blogs, then try and read the comments that follow and watch your heart bleed.
The car bombs in Afghanistan used to sound strange until few years ago. In the last six months, I have tried to clutch at sanity by avoiding headlines…but then there are blogs and micro blogs (tears non-existent hair)!
I used to find therapy in writing, channelling the anger and passion for change through my blog and the vocal booth. All of a sudden, that passion vanished.
Change came, but it is that kind of change that changes the change maker.
Lest I forget, I am Nigerian.
Jaiye Jaiye!! (That’s what I have stored on my phones for him!)
Jaiye went hard!! Love it! I told you he was a super writer didn’t I?