THE THING IN THE NAME AKPOS

Ejiro saved my number with “Igbudu Monkey”. I asked why “Igbudu Monkey and not Akpos” she said that Igbudu Monkey was the only name she would remember me by, since she had too many Akposes in her phonebook already.

I wanted to be in the limelight in Warri. I thought being Omo Eko Gaan Gaan will do the trick without my trying too hard, but I was to learn that only a paltry few like Akpos have ever had the limelight beamed on him. In warri you either work it out or you arrogate prestige to yourself, walking the walk and talking the talk, and if you are lucky you get as popular as Tompolo of MEND. Only Ibori has ever made fame here, and he’d worked his ass off for it. So I finally thought of a name Change. I adopted the famed name Akpos.

Ejiro was the first Warri Girl I told I was Akpos, and she educated me: She told me, without mirth, that I was the namesake of seven of her brothers, and four boyfriends. It was from her that I learnt that Akpos, as a name, is the short of such, rather mouthy, Urhobo names like Akpodhero, Akpobome, Akponovwe, Akporoghene, Akpokororo and many, many, many more. We exchanged phone contacts that day, and she preferred Igbudu Monkey to Akpos as my name on her list of contacts.

The first live Akpos I met mystified me. He’d asked me where I was from, I said “Lagos”, he asked if I knew I Go Die The Comedian I said “yes o! I Go Die na my very friend na, we dey do everything together even dey flush each other shit”. The growing interest on Akpos’s face and the excitement in his voice was remarkable when I declared that I am familiar with I Go Die. Akpos started to nod ominously. I was going to claim that I Go Save, Gandoki and Gordons were my friends too, but Akpos interjected “bros abeg, you know Alibaba house?” cutting me off in that crude manner that is peculiar of Warri boys. And I replied “Alibaba? Comedian? The same Akporobomemererealluyahajunyota? Him na my bigger bros for area na; Big Bros Akporobomemererealluyahajunyota aka Alibaba dey follow me for Twitter” I declared impressing Akpos further.

“Thank God I don jzam person wey know Alibaba residential address. Ashually eh, I don dey find opporshunity to go warn Alibaba make him no take me dey jzoke again? My name don spoil finish for comedians hand. I no too know Lagos but I know Ojota, but how I go take go Twitter from Ojota.

There must be something about Twitter Akpos wasn’t getting. I said Alibaba was my friend and he follows me on twitter, to Akpos, this probably means I and Alibaba are neighbours on a geographical Twitter. How do one correct a misrepresentation once it is made?

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NOLLYWOOD FANATICS

Nollywood. I have never been big on Nollywood. But this evening, the one showing on African Magic got half my attention, and the baba who seemed to be enjoying it so much, got the rest of my attention. I don’t even know what the title of the movie was, and I guess, the Urhobo Man don’t know it either. He is an Urhobo Man, judging from his accent. The Baba had walked into the tombo joint, and took a seat on the same bench I was sitting on, and order a a drink for himself earlier.

The movie featured, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Chioma Chukwuka, Patience Ozokwo et al. Patience is the overbearing mother of the character of Bob Manuel Udokwu and Oge Okoye; Chioma played the part of a naïve village girl whom Bob put in the family way, Married (unwillingly) and introduced to city life: she soon became corrupt by the company of her new city friend played by Oge Okoye. Chioma had fallen into bad company and is in police net. The comments of the Baba Urhobo was what got me riveted to the drama climaxing on the silverscreen. In his undisguised Urhobo accent, he said:

“You see now? You no see now? Women eh? All this Women dem eh? Na one day dem go kill all of us finish for this world. Very dangerous people like that. Aha”.

He was raising his voice, shaking his head, and violently waving his fist at the screen. His passion is something to be seen rather than told. Soccer fans could learn a few trick from this Man. I kept watching him, as he kept shaking his head, his fist and my nerves.

As when Bob Manuel’s character was throwing out his wayward wife (Chioma Chukwuka’s character) Baba Urhobo was cheering him on, his passion-ladden voice increasing in decibels. He said:

“Pursue am, pursue am well-well, otherwise she go plan kill to you one day one day if you no take time now, now, now!

Yess! …Pursue am comot… Pursue am well-well.” Laughing raucously, and stamping his feet.

I expected to seem him foam in the mouth, but he wasn’t. I wanted to say, “baba take easy o! It is only a movie ke!” But just then, he ordered a round of Tombo for everyone present. I was the only other person apart from the bar maid, so I got my mug refilled with the frothy juice. He had not touched or covered the round he’d ordered for himself. He seemed so riveted the movie, and the flies kept drowning themselves in his mug of tombo. The better part of valour dictated that I take it easy with bursting his bubbles. I am one man who would not tamper with another man is religiously passionate about. I am not a Nollywood buff, but this Baba is, obviously.

The anger that Baba exhibited at the misdemeanour of the character Chioma Chukwuka’s and the joy he exhibits at the chauvinistic disposition of the character of Bob Manuel Udokwu was nothing short of the febrile frenetic fervour of religious folks are inclined to. You would wonder if that fanatic Baba has ever sucked the breast of a woman- Mother, Wife, Girlfriend, or Concubine, he seemed diminished on regard for the feminine mystique. The mystique I subscribe to, the mystique I worship. Well, we are different- he’s old school and conservative, I am new school and progressive.

Me, I was rooting for the Character of Chioma Chukwuka (privately) a woman should be at liberty to exercise her God-sanctioned “right to life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, even outside the bounds of marriage. I knew I will be stoned to death if I expressed this opinion, so I kept mum, and judge and condemn Baba Urhobo in my mind.

What the character of Chioma Chukwuka did was actually wrong. She was only a village girl of 17 when Bob Manuel Udokwu’s character got her pregnant. Coming to the city to live with her husband, she should have been discerning enough to beware of the corrosive influence of the “city bright lights” (the red ones). She should also have been wise enough to remember her sunday school lesson that “evil communication corrupts good manner. Well, all my opinion went unexpressed, and the chauvinist pig, who’d offered me a drink, never got to know my mind. This is Warri. We the people of this embattled city could use tolerance in working out their tribal, political, and generational differences. Nollywood could be a binding factor, even if not all of us subscribe to mediocrity.

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TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME

When I get posed with questions I cannot answer without my ego showing, questions like whether I am a machine or a stud, I keep mum. Instinctively, I just wanna hitch up my belt, suck in air to swell my chest, cock my head to the side, and get my swag on. But I always catch myself in the middle of that primal biological give-away sign of a big ego- I am that self-conscious. I check it before I wreck it. The rule is not DO NOT PLAY YOUR CARD FACE UP. The game is DARE. Two can play that game.

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BBC RADIO CALLING ON WRITERS

The BBC Radio Drama Readings Unit welcomes unsolicited submissions from writers new to radio for their annual series, Opening Lines, which is broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

The next window for sending in material is October 29th – December 14th, 2012.  Stories submitted outside this time-frame will be left unread. 

As well as broadcasting the three strongest stories we publish transcripts of the best stories submitted within this period on the Opening Lines programme pages.

CONTENT & FORMAT:

We are looking for original short stories which work being read out loud i.e. with a strong emphasis on narrative and avoiding too much dialogue, character description and digression. Pay particular attention to how the story opens and closes.  We’ll be looking to see whether the beginning of a story successfully links to how it ends.

We are interested in seeing stories which cover a broad range of subject-matter but material which explores particularly dark, harrowing themes is not best suited to Opening Lines.

We recommend following the links on the right to read transcripts of the five stories which featured in the 2012 series.

The BBC has a rigorous taste and decency policy so we cannot accept stories of a sexist or racist nature, or those which use the stronger swear words.

The time allotted for each story is around 14 minutes, which means stories must be between 1,900 and 2,000 words in length.

SUBMISSION DETAILS & PROCESS:

When submitting your work please include a brief covering letter giving your name, e-mail address (if applicable), the story’s title, word count and details of writing track record. Stories must be submitted as either a Word document or typed and double-spaced on A4 paper and it is important to put your name and address on the script itself. 

We regret that we can only accept one submission per writer.  Please send us a copy of your story, not your original work as we are unable to return submissions.

We will read all eligible submissions and get in touch with those writers whose stories have made it through to the next stage of the selection process by March 15th 2013.  We regret that we are unable to respond to those writers whose stories haven’t made it through to this second stage.

If you would like to submit work to the London office you can e-mail your story to us at OpeningLines@bbc.co.uk or you can send it to BBC Radio Drama Readings, Room 7045, Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA

For further information follow the link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007tmq5

OF WARRI: WINE WOMEN AND SONGS

I love alcohol, I love women, and I love music. But these things that I love in Lagos, have become my undoing in Warri.

There are three hotels, two brothels and five beer parlours on my street at Iyara in Warri. Every evening, as soon as it is sundown, the competition starts. The race is of which beer parlour draws the most crowd of drinkers, and which hotel or brothel attracts the greatest patronage of a quick roll in the sack, and which individual turns the most trick.

Every groovy business evening is heyday for the beer parlours. They will all turn up the music so loud, many women will come, and the men too. Diverse music they play, Different booze will flow, and different women will strut their stuff, single girls constantly coming and pairing off with a boy or man. The noise gets so solid you could cut a slice of it out of the air; the booze will be so plentiful you could drown the sky in it, the fine girls too- you wouldn’t know which to pick to have a good time with, money- the main attraction- is always changing hand here in these watering holes.

I suffered greatly that first week I arrived. I had a hell of a time with the assault on my eardrums, the draining of my pocket, and the increased libido But I am coping now. Coping very well as I have blended into the system. My cousin Keme predicted rightly that I will cope. The confused erratic beat of my heart, and the spendaholism, and the spiking libido are all normalized now. Not that I can really take all the hard hitting noise, or the vampiric lucre-hungry sirenes, but I find it is bearable when I am part of it.

So here I am- the table before me littered with bottles (some half full, some half empty, others lying on their sides, drained of their liquor content.. Empty cans, full cans and half-drained cans of energy drinks (Warri people favour Bullet™ above Power Horse™, or Red Bull™. I do too) There is a hopeful besides me. My new friends and drinking mates- Newton, Patrick and cous Bibo have two chics hanging on to each of them, but I am cool with just one. I am a Lagos bobo so I got to do things a little differently to stand out from the crowd.

Talking about standing out. I have created an impression on the ladies here. Do you why? It is because the first chic I laid- Elizabeth she said was her name has spread story of our short time sexcapade. I had made sure she used the female condom I procured, and I also made sure I used the Gold Circle™ I had bought earlier that evening. But my greatest undoing was the emphasis on the use of condoms- both male and female condoms at the same time. All the fun and Love that could have been was lost to the squishy feel of artificiality. I wasn’t on my best. I did not trust a Warri Chic to be STD-free. But to have Faith (even if it is as small as a mustard seed) would have been the saving grace. I could have had a reserved for an exception in Warri Girls Dem. But my skepticism had the best of me. I couldn’t trust that one, though innocent she looked.

Tonight, if her price is right, I will lay this Sweet Thing- Success, she says her name is. I am so high- that is, the liquor is virtually overflowing out of my ears, the beat of the cacophonous music done spiked up my heartbeat, and my libido is over the roof. I need to chill down. Two more Heineken™ and one more Bullet™ and I am good to go.

I will greatly miss Waffi madness when I eventually leave for Lasgidi. But I must return home to Eko. Warri is my Home Town, but Eko Ile.