Friday, November 27, 2015

NAIJA TOUR (4)

It must be the fact that we had crossed over into Kogi from Ondo that gave me so much rest of mind that I fell into what I can describe as a POWER NAP, and that was despite the uncomfortable atmosphere that the contraption that is the bus we were in provided. We were close to Lokoja when I came to, and I knew then that Abuja was just a matter of time, though it seemed that by the speed with which the driver was now going that he wasn't so keen at arriving Abuja before noon, a long shot from our ETA.

Lokoja, as beautiful as always had in its background intimidating mountains and hills, which in some areas, just like in Abeokuta, Ogun State, some less intimidated indigenes had taken the battle up to the mountain in erecting their abode in its belly, as far up as they figure they could go and yet be safe. The pictures they make is an interesting one to behold, so much so that I wonder if I could have something like that in the future, even though a beachside condo appears more appealing to me than the former.

You really have to witness the vastness of Nigeria when you travel by road to understand why foreigners come into Nigeria and make it. You can sell virtually anything here, and you'll find a market that asks very little questions, though like a mob they'll troop to patronize you when you don't disappoint, but will be quick to go the other way once their expectations aren't met. That is how fluid the market is, but they can also be very forgiving. It is painful that those in leadership position haven't been able to inspire among the people the much needed confidence to aspire to be the best they can be. The land surely is blessed and flows with milk and honey, of potentials. Unfortunately, the challenges are such that on all sides the country is pulled by centripetal forces aimed at dislodging it at it's centre, a painful sight to have to witness and live through.

Ok, enough of me waxing patriotic to noticing that Kogi might just be doing to me what Ondo has always done to me, but I will put that to anticipation or longing for the as yet elusive Abuja not necessarily because it is such a great distance to cover as such. I could see the many plans lined up for the time I was spending on the roads cancelling themselves out gradually, while others rescheduled themselves. Man as usual can only propose, as it is our inalienable right (amongst others) to so do, whether we get to carry out our propositions is another matter entirely, one which many times is beyond our control.

One of those plans was to put out online-real time everything, as I see them in my tour of some towns in Nigeria and there I was, barely into the first major city and Airtel Nigeria my phone's network for data knocks me off with more than 700MB to burn even after 24 hours I couldn't still be linked to the outside world besides the call I could make to my acquaintances. Anyway, before I knew that the situation would last that long, we managed to make it to Abuja but unlike my frequent visits, I elected to alight at Lupe before the bus made it into its terminal at the Utako area of Abuja, which going by the speed the driver was going in, could take another hour. From Lupe I boarded a cab to Area 1, from where I jumped into another to Mararaba but again alighted just before that ever busy part of the outskirts of Abuja for what looked like a newly developing park a few kilometers to Mararaba to board a cab to Keffi, in Nasarawa State where I had a deal to seal. With suicide bombers targeting notable parks to make their statements I intended to avoid major parks in Abuja as much as I could.

Something interesting happened though, when we approached the military checkpoint on the road to Keffi, just a few kilometers after we had passed Mararaba. I had gotten a call from Lagos over an issue I had to resolve with business there, and was doing so as we approached the checkpoint. That was when the Yoruba driver shouted in Hausa something I couldn't make out and couldn't care less because I was sure he wasn't talking about  or to me, until the boy sitting next to me snatched my phone from me and held tightly to it while we careered past the checkpoint, and I stilled myself from throwing up my custom "WTF" because of the end of the soldiers' AK-47 that was dangling close to my head by the window side of the back of the cab where I was seated.


ONE OF MANY MILITARY CHECKPOINTS IN NIGERIA.


Once we were out of hearing range of the soldiers, the boy apologized and returned my phone, explaining to me that we would've been made to alight, even punished (as "erring" passengers were sometimes asked to frog jump, I also learnt) had I been caught by the soldiers making a call. He had to do what he did when I didn't heed the drivers' rant to stop making the call on my phone as we passed by the checkpoint. My anger soon turned to a feeling of appreciation when the ramification of what had happened became clear to me, so I thanked him while wondering why the driver could've thought I could understand the Hausa language when I spoke the Yoruba, which he as well speaks fluently, but I put that to the terrain. When I narrated this event on Facebook much later, George said the ban on making calls at checkpoints was because suicide bombers used phones to detonate their baggage, and Robinson Onogu said I was lucky that my phone wasn't reduced to shreds while I got the pulp beaten outta me till I proved to the soldiers that I wasn't a member of Boko Haram (Islamic Fundamentalist group behind series of suicide bombings in Nigeria's north generally, and the Northeast in particular). I was left aghast!

'kovich

PHOTO CREDITS:
- http://beegeagle.wordpress.com

NAIJA TOUR (3)

There's usually nothing to see while traveling at night, just to mark time and find out where one is at every point, or at stops for which to stretch the legs when such opportunities present, so I simply let my mind roam. My recent visits to Ogun State in recent times have shown me how really small Lagos is, making me wonder how smaller still it would've been before part of this same Ogun State was carved into it to become what it today is. I have raised this issue because of another state that is a travel determinant for many (or maybe just me) who travel cross country especially from the west to and from other parts of Nigeria.

It is from my frequent travels from and to the southwest (Lagos in particular) that the hugeness of Ondo State became quite apparent to me. When we had our initial delay, the only thing I could think about was Ondo and many times I had wondered as to how journey times by road could greatly reduce if Ondo was excised from journey paths to and from the west to other parts of Nigeria. Interestingly, for travelers at night, there's hardly any traffic, so its just that going-and-going feeling that's there that gnaws at one's innards. It's disappointing to find after travelling for so long that one is still within Ondo State, and had I not known better I would've surmised that the contractors that handled the federal roads through Ondo incorporated into that stretch of road, a labyrinth. 

Not a few of us passengers were highly disappointed to find that by 5am, after leaving the outskirts of Lagos by past 11pm last night we were just at Òwò in Ondo State. I took it in my stride remembering how getting to Òrè (also within Ondo State) when traveling to the east from the west does that too. I don't know if it will help the psyche if Ondo State is split into two or three states, which I doubt will shorten the journey, but at least one will be glad that one doesn't feel s/he stuck within just one state for what seems like unending hours.

I allowed all of Bob Marley's more than a hundred and twenty offerings on my phone stream into my ears in alphabetical order while watching time and space waltz by. He is one of the few musicians (dead or alive) that I could listen to tracks and albums on end without replay, but seamlessly move from one track to the other. They don't make them like that anymore sadly, but this here is what I will use to counter what Ondo State does to me when I travel. I am sure there's no way passing through Ondo will be longer than my array of Bob Marley songs. I win anyhow.

Lokoja in Kogi State is usually another landmark spot. It was one of the reasons I almost considered putting off the journey to Abuja, or deciding in favour of going to the South-south from Lagos, before the east then northward than the other way round.  After the death of Prince Abubakar Audu (the late APC guber candidate who died last Sunday, while results of an election he was forerunner in was being collated), pundits had predicted chaos in that axis, but till now not much in terms of violence have been noted, making it unnecessary to alter my itinerary. The way Ondo conspired to hold us within its claws made me wonder if we would ever reach Lokoja. I wasn't surprised when by 6am we were still in Southwestern Akoko area of Ondo State, and my heart sank further, only to receive strength from the Bob Marley music in my head. 

It did turn out for good much later that we had to make the latter part of Ondo State in daylight, at least for me because then I could size up those huge rocks and hills that part of Nigeria is very famous for. Many of those sites are visited by tourists outside of Nigeria while those under whose noses these nature's beauty sprang up could give no hoot about them. It was getting increasingly cold now and I wondered if it was due to the elevation of that part of town or the harmattan from the north had already landed in that part of the Southwest. It occurred to me then, that I hadn't come with any form of warm clothing in my backpack, but even that thought was overtaken by the view I was enjoying. Not much appears to have changed with the settlements in the Akoko area of Ondo State, there were signs of electricity but there were more mud houses than the modern block houses, but I know now that that situation is not so much due to poverty than it is because the people in such places see buildings made with mud as more a temperature moderator especially in times of extreme temperatures. 

Over the years, I have only associated military roadblocks with the roads in the north, but this time around we have encountered several since we made it into Ondo State and I guess going further we will encounter them more frequently. Only on one occasion though did we come across a police patrol team. The current security situation in Nigeria could be blamed for this state of affairs, and even the misstep by President Muhammadu Buhari days after assumption of office, in which he ordered a dismantling of roadblocks, led to his having to swallow his vomit, when the terrorists struck almost immediately in response, as if in some kind of celebration at the lifting of obstacles that had hampered their operations in recent times.

Nothing gave me greater joy, when we eventually navigated our way out of Ondo into Okenne, Kogi State, for me that milestone is always worth celebrating so I let my innards jump for joy, the best they could do in the limited space allowed them.

AT A STOP IN LOKOJA FOR PASSENGERS TO STRETCH THEIR LEGS AND HAVE SOME REFRESHMENTS.


At this time, school children were already out and on their way to school. Interestingly, all the passengers blowing hot as to how last nights' delay will cost them their appointment this morning were silent, some even still asleep, except maybe like me they have surrendered themselves to fate. Like I always thought, things could've been worse.

'kovich

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NAIJA TOUR (2)

When people we know travel and intimate us of their departure time we are wont to predict where they could be considering the time they left to the time such thoughts come to mind without considering unexpected events that may lead to delays. I have been involved several times in such situations where I had just bid farewell to an acquaintance at the park only to be stuck for hours just a few kilometers away from the point of departure, with the last person I saw or those I called to inform that the vehicle I was traveling in had left, thinking I'd have by then gone far.

I have since learnt to be humble in the face of delays when I travel (even when it had the tendency to upset well laid out plans or alter appointments, the failing of which will impact negatively on me), as that couldn't possibly be the worst that can happen to a traveler, in fact I have always felt somewhere in my mind that delays sometimes, protect us somewhat from something worse that could happen to us if we had continued. I welcome most delays sometimes with that at the back of my mind. When the replacement bus turned up after three hours and we eventually continued the journey by 11:11pm, it occurred to me that those I'd informed of my departure time would've put me at Ondo or seeing the end of Ibadan at the time, without the slightest inkling that we had barely just left Lagos, having only just only scratched the surface of what is that journey to central Nigeria from its western coast.

It is because of incidents like this that I make it a priority to travel using well established transport companies, as situations where passengers would be stranded without the transport company sending spare buses to come takeover the journey are not what you would normally associate with them. Though the replacement bus wasn't as spacious as the one that brought us thus far, passengers were just relieved that at least the journey to Abuja can continue, and soon enough angry retorts gave way to jocular insinuations, especially of what could've been had the bus failed to turn up or something even more sinister had happened while we waited. 

Interestingly, once the journey resumed, most of those who had expended much energy engaging the driver of the former bus in expletives-laden banter, became somnolent. I thought about how I used to be like them in the past, throwing tantrums each time I felt shortchanged by the services provided by the transport companies. Nowadays even for the best of them, I retain very little expectations, even to the extent of refusing to eat their heavily monosodium glutamate-soaked complimentary jollof rice, preferring only their bottled water, while I sorted my own food.

I didn't get my favorite window seat this time but I couldn't care less, as I could clearly see out of the huge windows on all side of the bus, and was amazed at seeing children still hawking snacks even as it neared midnight at each of the points on the Trunk A of the southwestern roads, where vehicles are forced to slow down for one reason or the other. Things are really tough in Nigeria, and many families have to make tough decisions like the ones involving these kids to make ends meet. If only those at the helm of affairs, the politicians and policy makers who feel they know better than the rest of us, what to do to alleviate the sufferings of the people of Nigeria, can only get down to doing exactly that, maybe things will turn around for good. Unfortunately, there's nothing on ground, even with this government that won elections on the CHANGE mantra that suggest that things will soon or eventually change for the better.


INSIDE OF THE LUXURY BUS CONVEYING ME TO ABUJA


The night journey that I am familiar with had finally come, so once again I blocked my ears , this time not listening to radio stations but music streaming from my phone on MP3 and nodding off my head to it, while other passengers slept. Gone are the days when luxury buses provided en-bus entertainment of music, even movies. The case for security has ensured  that all of that, had to be sacrificed on the alter of expedience, especially during night journeys, and I couldn't even care less, as when such held sway what was usually on show was the same brain dulling movies off the stable of Nollywood, that I couldn't stand for all it's worth. I searched my eyes for any sign of heaviness, finding none, I knew immediately that a long night awaits me!

'kovich

NAIJA TOUR

When I travel cross-country by road for a journey that will take not less than ten hours, especially to a destination (like Abuja) I am not too familiar with, I prefer to travel by night. Apart from the fact that I wouldn't like to waste precious day hours starring into nothingness while the journey lasts, it is also so that I can arrive at my destination in daylight.

My choice of transportation for these journeys are the huge luxury buses traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria mostly at night, and not any smaller vehicles that though exposed to the same dangers appear to be safer or rather much more successful in bringing passengers to their destinations in one piece most of the time.

When it became imperative that I will be travelling to Abuja as well as other towns and cities in my itinerary, I did what I would normally do- travel by night, by the transport company I had severally tested and trusted. In fact, because of my frequent traveller status I didn't anymore have to divulge much information when buying my ticket as the other details easily come up. They also have e-portals via which one can even book seats for travel.


THE LUXURY BUS ABOUT BOARDING TIME


This journey was very much anticipated by me because of the many things I intend to pursue and accomplish before returning to base in Lagos, mixing business with pleasure when and where I can. The formalities of boarding completed we soon set out of Lagos to what seemed to be the routine, not-out-of-place journey. I had blocked out the world (including the man hawking drugs to passengers while the bus waltzed it's way out of Lagos at reasonable speed) as usual with my earpiece strapped tightly to my ears, listening to the news at six on Inspiration FM, 92.3 Lagos, followed by the news on Classic FM, 97.3 by 6:30 and finally "Kubanji Direct", a current affairs programme on Radio Continental 102.3 FM from 7pm, while downloading a remix of Ini Kamoze's "Worl'A Reggae" before I noticed that the bus wasn't keeping pace with the other vehicles on the road. 

The driver eventually parked the bus right beside the gate of "Redeemed Camp", and after a while informed us passengers that the bus had developed a clutch problem and the journey with that bus couldn't continue. We would have to disembark and await the arrival of another bus to come in about an hour or two, reboard before continuing the journey to our destination. I have learnt in situations like this to keep my cool, assess the situation before deciding my next action, so while other passengers raised their voice in attack and insults hurled in the direction of the driver and his assistant, I simply looked out for escape routes I could employ should the night become sorrier than it is already.

The police patrol vehicle that was just a few meters from where our luxury bus was parked was soon moved away by the police in it, and I wondered why and how they could do that seeing that we were distressed passengers, left out there by a freak of happenstance with nowhere else to go but wait for the replacement vehicle, we had been promised will come for us. Those policemen further cemented within me, and I guess with my co-travelers the truth that the Nigerian police have come to represent over time, the opposite of their popular slogan to the effect that "THE NIGERIAN POLICE IS YOUR FRIEND", when they conveniently become inconspicuous when you need them the most.

So, I surveyed the height of the small fence of the Conoil Petrol station, and how easily I could scale it into the expansive compound of the Redeemed Camp, should the unexpectedly unwanted happened, while appreciative of the full moon that provided the much needed illumination on that part of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, while awaiting the "replacement luxury" bus that is to come and relieve us from our state of traveling limbo, now even after two hours.

'kovich

Monday, November 23, 2015

PRINCE ABUBAKAR AUDU'S DEMISE AND KOGI STATE'S POLITICAL HULLABALOO

Twas my friend George who intimated me of the demise of  Prince ABUBAKAR AUDU yesterday evening and I couldn't help expressing my shock in the way I stammered when he gave me the news. I had never doubted information (many of which he broke long before they made headlines) from him, but this was such that I expressed some doubt over, not because the late Prince was immortal but because of the political ramifications and circumstances around which he had to die.

When I checked Twitter and Facebook and didn't find anything of sorts, I whatsapped 'Luoye, who also gets most of these things firsthand, but this time around, he also didn't know, so I elected to wait before posting such a news on Facebook. Events over time has taught me to exercise restraint in posting news of the death of high profile people in Nigeria or outside of it, till it becomes official, especially as many people have died even severally on Twitter before they eventually died much later or even still lived. This time around because of the integrity of the one who gave me the information, what I did was to simply try to confirm by posing it as a question on Facebook and Twitter seeking to know if anyone had information about Prince Audu's demise.

Soon enough Twitter became abuzz with news of the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, with different reactions to it. Some diehard supporters and those who felt any news that doesn't come through them could only be false, talked about how they just came off the phone with some close family sources to the late politician and were informed that the former governor of Kogi State was still alive, asking followers on Twitter especially to disregard any news of the politicians' death. Unfortunately, by last night speculations were put to rest as it became official that the sixty-eight year old, Prince Abubakar Audu had suffered a stroke Saturday evening, and on Sunday complained of a stomach cramp, then began vomiting blood, and while he was being rushed to Abuja, apparently to be flown abroad, he suffered another stroke from which he couldn't be resuscitated.

The late Prince Audu, the All Progressives Congress, APC Gubernatorial Candidate in the Guber elections which held on Saturday in Kogi State had appeared at his polling booth earlier that day to cast his vote, in elections which by the time counting was concluded on Sunday, was leading his closest rival of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and incumbent Governor IDRIS WADA by about forty thousand votes, but the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared the elections inconclusive as the number of cancelled votes (in areas where supplementary elections will now be held next Saturday 29th, November) was more than the margin between the leading candidate (Audu) and the runner up (Wada).

PRINCE ABUBAKAR AUDU CASTING HIS VOTES IN LAST SATURDAY'S GUBER ELECTIONS IN KOGI STATE, HOURS BEFORE HIS DEMISE.


The sudden death of Prince Audu has raised concerns amongst stakeholders who feel that his demise is likely to throw up a constitutional crisis, but the truth really is the political permutation of the state which appear to have been turned on its head by this unfortunate event, as the late Audu's running mate is of the Kabba stock (a variant of the Yoruba tribe, that readily dissociates itself from the Yoruba, if and when political advantage is afoot) and a strong minority in the state which had never made governorship since Kogi was created (compared to the majority Igala who routinely produce governors) just like other tribes such as the Ebira, Bassangi, Nupe amongst others whose people have also given up on ever governing the state. It is because of the sharing of political positions amongst these ethnic groups with the Igala at the top that it now seems that the demise of the Igala guber candidate of a party set on the path of victory, that is making the hue and cry about constitutional crisis rise to the top of the heavens when logic should suggest that the deputy guber candidate should naturally assume the position of his principal, as was the case when President Yar'Adua died and the senate had to invoke a DOCTRINE OF NECESSITY to allow his deputy Goodluck Jonathan to rule in his stead, though in this case the death can be said to have occurred before the conclusion of the election, and a different kettle of fish entirely.

Now, many people are of the view that if the supplementary elections take place next Saturday as planned with the APC retaining the deputy guber candidate as the substantive candidate, currently a member of Nigeria's House Of Representatives representing an area not in Kogi, but in Lagos with many people thinking that his new anticipated position (as deputy guber candidate in Kogi, where he originally hails from) must be the deal the late guber candidate had to agree to for the Jagaban of Borgu's (former Lagos State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and an APC leader and Strongman of Southwest Nigerian- and to some extent even Nigerian politics) support to win the APC nomination as well as prosecute the guber elections in the state, which he appeared poised to win before his untimely demise. The fear that the whole 49,000 votes to be cast in the supplementary elections will go the way of Idris Wada of the PDP and also of Igala Stock can't be said to be unfounded, as many people view the possibility of a Kabba person becoming governor in the state an anathema, and would rather give the block votes to the Devil they know in Wada (having lost in Audu, the Deep Blue Sea alternative) than the Honourable James Faleke who they fear might be the puppet at the end of the Lion Of Bourdillon's strings from Lagos, as some of the state governors in the Southwest are totally subject to him,  so much so that the Lagos State governor recently represented him (Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, aka Jagaban Borgu aka Lion of Bourdillon, etc) at an event he couldn't attend.

It even came as a surprise to me how Prince Abubakar Audu emerged as candidate of the APC, even though he had a corruption case leveled against him by the anticorruption institutions including that of embezzlement of about eleven billion naira in Kogi States' funds, which a notable figure in his party was said to have promised that the late Audu will pay back if he becomes governor. It seemed that Audu's popularity was more the driving force behind his winning the party's nomination over and above any other consideration, even when it turns the party's anticorruption agenda, as well as President Buhari's Body Language against corruption on its head.

I knew the late prince in his first term as the governor of Kogi the way you'd know someone off the pages of the newspapers. Months back however he made the news howbeit tabloids after he married a very young woman, many would say a teenager, raising dust amongst many who read the item and saw the pictures of him kissing (more like "eating" her lips) the damsel to the disgust of not just a few

THE PICTURE OF PRINCE ABUBAKAR AUDU AND HIS NEW BRIDE THAT SENT TONGUES WAGGING.
people who saw the pictures. The other angle many people considered at that time when politics wasn't even on the cards was that he may have done that to appease a section of the Kogi society by marrying from there, having before married from other senatorial districts. The creation of the APC from several opposition parties in order to wrest power from the then ruling PDP threw him back again into the limelight, and he remained there till his demise yesterday. Though he encountered many obstacles on his path to reclaiming the governorship position he lost many years back after just one term, he still couldn't achieve it after he seemed to be coasting through to power against all odds, as his life was required of him. Today, the issue of the state of health of our politicians have been brought to fore, with many of them logging about huge bodies that may be indicative of the possibility of them living with some chronic conditions, fueled by the frequency with which they proceed abroad for treatment even for what one could consider minor health issues.

Beyond that, we should all be guided in the way we live our lives (like we could be gone the next minute), as death isn't a place we can come back from, isn't a respecter of person, and like a thief in the night can come to anyone at anytime.  Nigerian politicians who rule with impunity once in power can be admonished from this, as well as many other incident of such, because when death comes calling, not even their ill-gotten wealth or legally accumulated wealth can save them, especially when it becomes too late to fly them out of Nigeria for proper medical care abroad, as they failed to provide same for their fellow citizens who couldn't afford such. As Governor Wada has declared today a public holiday, and the next one week as "days of mourning" even for his political opponent, this is wishing the late Abubakar Audu's family and the people of state of Kogi, the fortitude to bear the loss that's come upon them.

'kovich

PICTURE CREDIT:
- http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com
- http://www.gistpartner.com

Thursday, November 12, 2015

VYBZ KARTEL'S "LIFE" TO LIFE

I grew up loving REGGAE under the influence of BOB MARLEY songs and still do, following it up with offshoots such as RAGA, then DANCEHALL, though Reggae never lost its pride of place with me. Dancehall doesn't cut it for me most times because of the lyrics, which unfortunately seem to be the foundation 'pon which it is built, or if not but apparently so because of the direction of the purveyors of the game. The beats of dancehall and the miracle the DJ's are wont to perform with the beats usually is what draws me to the genre once a while, and seriously you don't want to see me in the club when any of those become the choice of the DJ for the night.

VYBZ KARTEL (Real names, Adidja Azim Palmer) is one of those I took a liking for and actually still pay some attention to in the Dancehall genre, alongside others like Bennie Man, Bounty Killer, Mavado etc. Although, many times I'd rather not hear the lyrics of most of his songs because of their explicitness (for which his songs have at various times received bans across much of the Caribbean), but each time I heard any of his songs devoid of the trademark luridity I do my best to enjoy them to the fullest. Indeed, while at it I followed his meteoric rise from the days of collaborations with already established acts like Bounty Killer back in the day, to equal collaborations with Mavado before they fell out, and their reconciliation involving even the Jamaican government at the time, and how that also broke down. I was intrigued at how government at the highest level could be involved with street battles amongst dancehall artistes, juxtaposing that with how Bob Marley intervened between politicians when he was alive to calm tensions ahead of national elections in the late seventies.

VYBZ KARTEL


I haven't been to Jamaica before and stories like that make me wonder if that Island of a country is so small as to require the Prime Ministers' involvement in such trivia (but sounds more reasonable in the light of the fact that lives have been lost, blood shed, innocents and others alike maimed, and property worth millions of dollars destroyed in such duels, and negatively impacting on Jamaica's tourism industry), even including that of the extradition of the drug dealer Christopher Dudus Coke, whose attempt at arrest by the Jamaican forces led to days of standoff between his loyalists and government troops. With what I gathered back then, it appears that there's an unholy alliance among street gangs, musicians/artistes and the government, as highlighted by a BBC documentary I was privileged to see months back, at the time Vybz Kartel's murder trial was ongoing, and it was stressed that the situation had always been such, so much so that even Jimmy Cliffs movie debut highlighted it in the 1972 movie, "THE HARDER THEY COME".

Vybz Kartel's "LIFE" remains to this day for me, the best of his songs. As it ministers to the youth of Jamaica, and indeed the world to do the right things to especially make ends meet and survive. Many times, as today it has come up as my SONG OF THE DAY, or NOW PLAYING, not only on my social media platforms but most importantly from my earphones to my ears, and days that I am less busy, the whole day it is 'pon dah replay! It is disheartening how it is, that someone who managed to articulate such life impacting message in his own rudebwai/street way in LIFE still managed to get himself in so much trouble as two counts of murder (apart from other cases mainly involving drugs and the likes) for which he is now serving a LIFE SENTENCE for one, i.e. the murder of a former associate Clive "Lizard" William, and now due for parole in thirty-five years, with possibility to record from incarceration amongst other freedoms he may be able to afford.

I suppose that jail time for him may be slightly different from that of his compatriot BUJU BANTON (who didn't even help himself with his 2007 "DRIVER A" offering, which glorified drug trafficking) held for drug trafficking in the U.S. as he may be allowed some freedoms that the latter will definitely not have, though it appeared like Buju's cameo for the remix of Steve Marley's "JAH ARMY" was done from jail. Regardless of how "free" Vybz Kartel can be in jail, it doesn't remove from the fact that he's a convict and for a crime as murder which isn't so good considering that many youths see him as a model (regardless of what you think of him).

With Buju Banton (doing 10 years for drugs) and Vybz Kartel (at least 35 years for murder), and a host of others out of circulation for one offense or the other, and easily replaced (though sometimes with less artistry and mastery of the dancehall genre, for which they get better later) by new kids on the block. It has become pertinent that the industry do some soul searching so that situations where the best that Jamaica's music industry has to offer, as well as their biggest exports are whisked away to jail, in or outside of the country for one offence or the other, are either  drastically reduced or nipped in the bud to make such a thing of the past. The BAD BOY image of the dancehall genre must be shed, if that brand of music is not to face impending doom and extinction. It isn't enough to just put out a good one like "LIFE" and live a life that suggests to ones' fans that they are to live as one says but not as one does. Na my two cents be dat.

'kovich

PICTURE CREDIT:
- http://www.herald.co.zw

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

MY CANDY CRUSH SAGA EXPERIENCE

This CANDY CRUSH SAGA game must've been meant to be played for life. For me the whole thing started on Facebook with invites from friends to play coming up frequently in notifications to my annoyance and frustration. I even had to block a friend at some point as the "invite" notification seemed to be the only activity he had on Facebook, besides the annual birthday notification. Such was my dislike for the game even before I saw what it looked like or had the opportunity to play it.



A female colleague at work played it to a fault, once she found free space off work. I don't know if it was because of the game, or for the fact that that was the only thing she thought worthy to use her high end HTC phone (at the time) to do that got me angry, and she continued even till now that she has an IPhone 6. All of that just put the game in bad light for me, and I would've stayed my anger had my wife not been stricken with the bug, leading to her making her phone her boyfriend, if not her husband, for all intents and purposes (and I wouldn't even want to further expatiate). This was CANDY CRUSH SAGA, CCS bringing the battle home to me I thought, but if the intention it had was to put asunder my fledgling marriage, then I was prepared to have none of it.

Before you begin to get the wrong impression of me, you must know that I am a gamer, probably not the "ghen-ghen" type, but I have paid my dues and still paying. From the SUPER MARIO BROS. (with "Ibè lo ma kúsí" sounds like those you'd hear in the old Ebenezar Obey and Sunny Ade Juju music albums of yore)  days, to Nintendo, Brick Game, before mobile phones came with encore Brick Game, to SNAKE XENZIA of those torch Nokia Phones, to Video Games and Computer Games, where my love was more with Car Racing especially the ASPHALT and NEED FOR SPEED Series, and now looking forward to my next birthday gift of a PS4 which I may gift myself, if after shouting myself hoarse, none of my so called friends haven't deemed it fit to take it up as birthday gift for me.  Only that I had determined to not make CCS a part of my menu.

Providence was yet going to bring Candy Crush Saga my way in much a direct manner than I could have ever imagined, and it came in the most unexpected of ways. Before the launch of WINDOWS 10, I had gotten a message from MICROSOFT that my laptop has been chosen as one of many worldwide that will be able to download the latest offering free of charge. When I was eventually prompted to download the close to 3GB program online a few weeks back, it came with it the game, as the only game in the package while other games where routinely advertised on XBOX, like they knew that there could be no way in Hell I would be made to download CCS from STORE if it hadn't been gifted me on a platter, except if I had a gun pointed to my head.

The fact that I saw it as part of the "Windows 10" baggage didn't even encourage me to play the game until a fortnight ago, after watching a movie on my laptop. I intended to have my bath that Sunday morning before planning how to lazily burn out the day, when in attempting to power off the laptop, my finger mistakenly moved the cursor to the CCS part, which didn't waste a second to come up and begin to load. I decided to play just one game and see the heck that drives people crazy about the game. One game, then two, and then I didn't have my bath at all on that day, took the next day off of work, only finding free time to do other things when I find it difficult to advance to the next stage, for which I call my wife (if at home), or my female colleague at work, to use their expertise to see me through, before I go back to the game.

It was the fact that besides playing the game for years and months on end, these ones were yet to finish it that made me conclude that it must be a game meant to be played for a lifetime. I have learnt not to always play the computers' suggestions  except where there are no other viable or better options, as well as the trick of moving time forward and then back to deceive the game when it tells you that you need to wait hours (even as long as seventy-two hours) before you can continue to the next stage or repeating a stage you failed to cross severally, amongst others. I had thought, in the early days, that I would never be like "CCS Believers" but with each passing day I find myself doing otherwise. Not even my refusal to download unto my phone has in any way abated my penchant for the game, and I hope that very soon I won't have to need rehab to be weaned off this game. Hmmmmmmn!

'kovich  

PHOTO CREDIT:
- http://fi.wikipedia.org

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

NOW PLAYING: "OYEA RAPPERS" (REMIX) BY MODENINE FEATURING REMINISCE

I saw the end of the musical video on TV late last month for the first time. It sounded nice and I wasn't surprised when I noticed that the song was a MODENINE piece. I had always maintained that he is Nigeria's only true rap artiste, if you think about RAP in the real sense of it, you know, how Tupac and Biggie did it back in the day.

Anyway, back to my tale, then yesterday while having my bath, the song came up again on the radio station I was listening to, that was when I knew I must add it to my collections. Unfortunately, because of the poor data network in my bathroom, I had to keep reminding myself of what I needed to do so I could do it once I finished having my bath.

I couldn't also shazam the song because of the poor network so I didn't know the title, but I simply googled Modenine and it appeared that the Nigerian social media world had been abuzz many weeks before about Modenine's latest offering, so I simply trusted my hunches that it must be the OYEA RAPPERS bandied about majorly online, where he featured (or as most of the columnists said, sampled) REMINISCE's voice, that I was looking for.



I hadn't only been impressed with Reminisce in LOCAL RAPPERS where he featured OLAMIDE and PHYNO, but I blogged about it in - noesis: NIGERIA'S LOCAL RAPPERS http://madukovich.blogspot.com.ng/2015/10/nigerias-local-rappers.html?m=1  (though I was disappointed with his collabo with Davido in "DADDY"), so when his name appeared here again, I followed my hunch and downloaded it, and that was how the whole of yesterday I shut out the world while "Oyea Rappers" alone blasted in my ears, 'pon da replay.

Initially, I thought that it was a response to LOCAL RAPPERS, but seeing that Reminisce was featured in it, I figured otherwise, till it began to appear like "Oyea Rappers" had been done before the former, then I perished the thought, even though I had read several commentaries suggesting that even the former was done in response to the latter, I decided not to be bothered about it. Even if they were indeed rap joints borne out of rivalries and envy, the fruit it yielded only ended up advancing the cause of rap music in Nigeria.

I have always seen Mode9 as/like one of those guys I knew in secondary school who were members of the debating society in the junior school days, but joined so called "bad" gangs in the senior secondary  years, veering into rap. I say this because of the kind of words he uses in his raps, words the normal Nigerian rap artiste wouldn't use, not because they aren't educated enough, but because the normal Nigerian, regardless of academic levels attained, have a limited English language vocabulary (even compared to our Ghanaian counterparts), hence why I feel they tend to easily hide under curse and swear words when they rap, but I later put that to the fact that Modenine is British born (and bred for a while I suppose), though of Osun State parentage in Nigeria.

This offering, a remix I now gather, is quite phenomenal. I have always felt that the mix of reggae and rap will definitely have an edge that sets it apart, when a rapper decides to exploits the benefits in reggae beats to vomit lyrics, and there are very few mixes like that which I have not fallen in love with. When Tupac's "MY BLOCK" was given Damien Marley's "WELCOME TO JAMROCK" beats, I stopped listening to the original, just like how Guerrilla Blacks "COMPTON" featuring Bennie Man is the only rap song of his I know, something that till this day I consider as his "lightning strike"/eureka moment in music, that may see him having difficulties (apparently so) in years to come to replicate the dope beats and rap (which was more of "spelling" exercise) he dropped there, amongst many others that time and memory would hardly permit me to begin to itemize right now.

Interestingly, it was a slightly modified version of the "COMPTON" beats, that Modenine latched upon to do the beats for his "Oyea Rappers", only that unlike the former he introduced his with the original from the Jamaican song, like Reminisce did in Local Rappers when he sampled a Brenda Fassie (late South African musician) song as intro (possibly lifting what he learnt from his short foray into the world of Modenine), and Jay Z in the Lucifer Remix (featuring Kardinal Offishall) did with a reggae beat and making the original (Dennis Brown's "Wolves And Leopards") his outtro, reinforcing my views that a good rapper can never go wrong with a reggae beat in the background. Even Nas can attest to this after journeying with Damien Marley in DISTANT RELATIVES, where I hate to think that Nas' career would've absolutely hit the rocks had he not explored and exploited that window for all it was worth, at the time he did.

I am just glad to know that Modenine is back, and not just back like many of his contemporaries attempted to without regaining their former position in the industry, but that he's back like there was never a hiatus in the first place. Gladly, though he claims that his latest album is more commercial (and I felt a tinge of it in "Oyea Rappers") it didn't lose the quality of hardcore rap associated with him over the years, and for that I am so very grateful.

'kovich 

PHOTO CREDIT:
- http://www.spellsmusic.net