Culture, Ethnicity, Lifestyle, Religion

Nigerians and foreign first names – something dey worry una!

Usually, I do not care about whatever name a father decides to christen his child. He can name the child Hitler, Pol Pot, Anini or Ivan The Terrible; I don’t care. It’s none of my business. But when a loi-loi-eating Nigerian father looks down joyously upon his chortling newborn and decides to name him ‘Heineken’, then I’ve got to weigh in. 

Heineken. Really, daddy? A beer? Nine months in your tummy, mummy, and you allow him name me after a beer? You guys might as well have named me 33. 

This Heineken chap; that is not his nickname or a term of endearment. No. It is the name on his birth certificate. Curiously, neither he nor his parents are German or Dutch. They are all proud Izon, or as popularly known, Ijaw.

By the way, I looked up the meaning of Heineken. It means “son of little Hein” (Henry). But I don’t think Heineken’s dad was named Hein. Nein. The man wasn’t little.

You see, in Africa, people’s names are not whimsical blasé appellations. We don’t wake up and name a child Hooty McOwlface. In Africa, people’s names have weight and depth, even a metaphysical import to them. Our names tell stories. They signal the culture, beliefs, circumstances of birth and hope for the future.

Now, there is also this bloke in another clan. His name is Pentecost. Like “the-day-of- Pentecost” Pentecost. His parents are devout. But not Pentecost. If he is spirit-filled, it is often with kai-kai. This bloke knows all the brothels and watering holes between Warri and Diobu Water Side. 

I love Ijaw people. I did my NYSC in riverine Bayelsa and it was one of the best times of my life. But there must be something evil in the water they drink. For why will proud tribespeople like the Ijaw rise and give their children such fiendishly hilarious names?  

Government. Advantage. Suffernomore. Thywillbedone, Election. Colonel. Consider. Inspector. Appearance. Boysdaddy. UpJesus. 

UpJesus. I bet you were expecting to see ‘DownSatan’. I haven’t heard that one yet.

But, yup. Those names above are real names. Names people bear. 

I’ve got my beef with the Ijaws on naming. I do even more with Nigerians who give their scions Caucasian, Jewish or Arabic names. I’m gently miffed. What gives? I have never seen a Brit name his son Obunezi or an Israeli name his daughter Oyinkan. But this good Òduà tokàn tokàn sister from Oke Ila Orangun names her son Jayden. 

‘Jayden’ how? 

‘Arianna’ wetin? 

‘Shaun’…of the dead? 

‘Bella’? As in Bella Schmurda?

‘Jason’ Ekechukwu? Like Jason and the Argonauts? Jason Momoa? Jason Bourne?  

My homeboy named his son Xavier. Really, Rahim? Xavier. You might as well name the boy Wolverine. 

Look, I’m a Christian. I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. And I like the meaning of some Christian names. But I’m not from Jabesh-Gilead or Kiriath-Jearim. I am Yoruba. Omo Káárò Ojíre. You are therefore never going to catch me naming my daughter Zoey, Seraphina or Naomi. African names are too rich, too cool and too unique to trade down to Lachelle. 

Oh, did I tell you how I named my second daughter? Here goes!

When my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, we wanted a name that was Yoruba, was uncommon, acknowledged God, and whose short form would be easy for everyone to pronounce. I know that’s a lot for a name to do. But the brief is the brief.  It was the same brief we followed in naming our first daughter so why should this be any different?  

As the self-professed creative in the union, I had to rise to the occasion. So, I journeyed once again into the creative ether. 

After many moons of wandering and discourses with the Muses, a name emerged from the spectral mist. 


That is the short form of Mapolongojesukakirigboboagbaye. 

It means “I will proclaim Jesus to the ends of the earth.”

I thought it was absolute aces. It was uncommon, it was Yoruba and it acknowledged Jesus. 

I came back to earth and presented it to my wife.

She cleared all the bottles of liquor in the house and muttered something about stabbing me in my sleep.

I took it she didn’t fancy being called Mummy Polongo.

She marched me back to the Muses. Me and them dey craze together. 


Maybe you are one of those who don’t see anything good in Nigeria. Or one of those who signal their ‘exposure’ and contemporariness in the inability of their children to speak a local language. I know folks like that.

“Nne, Chucka can’t speak Igbo. He only speaks English and he’s taking Spanish classes. Let’s not confuse him,” she says with a conceited air to her mother.  

Shame on you, Adaeze! 

Your son will never be English enough for the English. Even if he dines with world leaders and has dual citizenship, they’ll still ask him “But where are you really from?” 

I get it, though. In an increasingly globalised world, we don’t want our children’s names to give their ethnicity away. Racism and profiling is a real thing. Names can be a crutch. I understand all these. But I fear we are throwing the baby away with the bath water. Our name is who we are. Opting for a Caucasian name is another form of colonization. It’s mild colonization but colonization nevertheless. At any rate, if white folks can pronounce Giannis Antetokounmpo and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, they can also pronounce Chimagozielam Bunkechukwu. All is fair in love and war. 

Before I go, did I tell you guys the beautiful name my grandfather gave me?

It is Ògúnmódedé.

It means “Ogun (Yoruba god of iron) has brought a hunter.”

The older members of my extended family fondly call me Bàbá Odę (Chief Hunter)

Man, I love the names! I am the hunter of hunters, the stalker of stalkers, the abitoshaker and ganduka-gandusha! Best respect me. 

My grandfather and his fathers hunted game in the presumably haunted forests of South West Nigeria. I imagine they encountered many goblins, sprites and deadly beasties. But thanks to Ògún, their lives and livelihoods were preserved. 

I do not believe in Ògun anymore than I believe in Zeus or Odin. But my forebears have no such intellectual and Christian encumbrances. For them, Ògun was real. And he had brought them another huntsman. But great must have been their tears in Òrùn Alàkeji when they saw me trade potent amulets, daggers and guns for a life of segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Sorry, grandfather. Civet and snake meat are not my thing. I prefer sirloin.  

In a world with cool names like Mmesoma, Chelchi, Kiitan, Fiyin, Toni and Boma, you decide Keisha and Rhonda are finer names. Something dey do you, aunty.

Culture, Lifestyle

Living on the Island and Nigerians’ warped definition of quality of life.

So, I find myself moving to the ‘Island.’

I enjoy going to the Island now and then but never fancied living in that neck of the woods. I’d lived all my years on the ‘Mainland’. I love it there. Life is simple, inexpensive and less vainglorious. In contrast, I esteemed the Island as extortionate, bougie and full of affectation. But I don’t beef the place or the people. I’ve got peeps who live there. You do you and I’ll do me. Horses for courses.

Then Island people started denigrating the Mainland. They created a condescending dichotomy. They were the bourgeois. We were the place Mufasa warned Simba never to go – a sunless, joyless land. We became the ‘Mainland people.’

Mainland people? You hypocrites! Many of you sprouted from the Mainland, some of you from places like Akute-Alagbole, Oke-Koto, Cemetery or Abaranje. Now your bougie butts no longer ‘do bridges’? You pharisaical faux-elite gits!

I was wroth indeed.

So, a silent war ensued between us the Mainlanders and they the Islanders. A war whose chief weapons were snide remarks and deprecation. They speak in a patronising manner about the Mainland and we in turn tell them to return to Atlantis. Naturally, as a Mainland boy, I took sides with my kith and kin in the war. Forza Mainland!

But here I am, now living on the Island. I sold out.

Now, before some of you think I have come into money and want a rummage in my pocket, no, I have not stumbled on some lucre. I moved to the Island for a practical reason; I simply could not afford a house on the Mainland in the areas I liked. I lived in Omole Phase 1, a very nice gated community. The houses are well-spaced. That means you can’t extend your hand from your window to help your neighbour unhook her bra. And we enjoyed at least twenty-one hours of power at N80/kilowatt.

But a four-bedroom semi-detached duplex in Omole Phase 1 is upwards of N250m. I don’t have that sort of moolah. The other nice places I’d prefer to live were Magodo Phase 2, Ikeja GRA and Shonibare Estate. But those places cost a king’s ransom. Properties in those areas will set you back some N400m to N600m.

So, yeah. I moved to the island because I haven’t got quite enough dosh to be posh and have less dough than a Pizza Hut.

But isn’t it ironic? How houses on the much-maligned Mainland can be more expensive than houses on the Island?

Oh, lest I forget. There is an important bifurcation to make. There are people who live ‘on an island’ and people who live ‘on the Island.’ I’ll explain.

See, if you don’t live in Ikoyi, Banana Island, Victoria Island or Lekki Phase 1, you don’t live ‘on the Island.’ You live ‘on an island.’ Don’t let’s pack luru with shapa.

Now, if you live between Marwa and Chisco, an area encompassing Elf, Ikate, Chisco, Ilasan and Salem, you live on an island. You are the broke cousin of Mayweather. You are still a Mayweather and can be ringside. But you are not Floyd.

Hang tight. It gets dire.

If you live at Igbokusu, Jakande First Gate, Jakande Round-About, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Orchid, Idado and Chevron, your residency in Lagos is tenuous. You need to verify your bona fides with LASRRA.

Igbokusu, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Idado? Really? And some of you have the shamelessness to mock Onipetesi, Oke-Ira, Alakuko, Arepo and Mungoro?

But it gets worse. If you live anywhere between Eleganza, Ikota School, Ikota Bridge, Mega Chicken, Ikota First Gate, Ikota Second Gate, VGC, Ilaje and Ajah, you need to recheck your deed of assignment. They sold you a house in Ondo State.

And suppose for some reason your house happens to be at Ajah, Badore, Okun-Ajah, Sangotedo, Bogije, Abijo, Lakwe, Langbasa or along Ogombo Road; in that case, Nigerian Immigration will need to see your Nigerian visa or passport before you can cross into Ajah. You, my friend, do not live in the Federal Republic. You are to Nigeria what El Paso and Tijuana are to the United States.

Now, before you guys wield your pitchforks and you ladies get on your brooms, know that myself, per my delineation, barely live in Lagos too. All of us are faux big boys together. But that is not to say there are no nice places after Lekki Phase 1. I like the houses and layout in NICON Town, Pinnock Estate, Cowrie Creek Estate, Friends Colony and some estates that dot the Island.

Anyway, I was going to contrast living on the Mainland with living on the Island (make I sha call all of us Islanders bebe). I have lived in this neck of the woods for two months now and have mixed feelings.

One of the vaunted propositions in favour of living on the Island over the Mainland is the former’s purported high quality of life index. On the Island, there are many nice places to go, many nice things to do and many nice companies to keep.

Only nobody told me there were nice prices to pay too.

The Island is soooo expensive!

I can’t have a good meal on the Island without paying upwards of N6,000. And that’s at Foodies or Amala Sky. If it’s at Cafeteria, Cilantro, Eric Kayser or the like, bless your soul, it will be upwards of N14,000. The other day the missus and I went to a Nigerian restaurant in Lekki Phase 1. We ordered what they labelled ‘complete Fisherman Soup’ and pounded yam. The soup alone was N23,000 per person.

Now, people, when a Fisherman Soup costs N23,000 per person, I expect it to contain all the works: a mermaid, a Kraken, the crab in Moana and maybe the fisherman himself. But what did we get? A mediocre catfish, a crab on minimum wage, two punny snails and shrimps that failed prawn test.

God bless Ola-Oluwa Jollof and Amala Amoke.

The pricing on the Island is a mugging. The other day, I bought a pack of Mentos chewing gum at Ebeano in Lekki for N3,450. The same gum was N2,050 at the Ebeano in Ikeja GRA. It was N1,880 at Grand Square Supermarket in Ikeja. I pay N220/kilowatt for electricity that’s not up to thirteen hours. Anini and Monday Osunbor no rob pass this before them face firing squad!

And I don’t want to hear the bunkum about rent and the cost of operation on the Island being higher than on the Mainland. It’s utter tosh. When big retail chains buy goods, they buy in bulk to distribute across their stores. They thus negotiate better pricing from suppliers. This naturally should result in better prices or the same prices for the consumers across their stores. But no, sellers on the Island enjoy bloodletting. They bleed us and collect our blood to drink with their meals.

The reason for this price gouging is because of the vanity on the Island. Island people don’t seem to care about high prices. Dudes and dudettes roll into supermarkets, restaurants and lounges in their Mercedes and Lexuses and strut about as if money is no object.

Not me. You can’t mug me with my permission. Don’t give me Titus egg and call it caviar.

I hear this attitude of suffering and smiling is rife on the Island. According to friends who have lived longer on the Island, the perception is that when you complain about prices, it shows that you can’t afford the lifestyle and maybe shouldn’t be living here.

Una papa!

Look, I know what I spend my money on. I’m more likely to travel to Tromsø to see the northern lights or take the Shinkansen to Kobe to eat wagyu than show I’m doing well by buying overpriced chewing gums.

Besides, it’s all hypocritical codswallop. If all these people can afford the pricey lifestyle, they shouldn’t buy food and groceries from Mushin and Mile 12 markets. Abi them no dey sell goat meat and garri on the Island?

But the condescension on the Mainland is pervasive.

A few years ago, a friend and I were going to buy Coke from a hawker on Water Corporation Drive in Victoria Island. I like those glacial-type Coke that hawkers carry. The woman priced the Coke at N200. We baulked. Coke was N100 on the Mainland at the time. We told the woman we were only going to pay N100. She retorted.

“Eyin ara Mainland ti de O.”

In pidgin, it means “You Mainland people don come be dat O!”

It was unbelievable. Just because we haggled over the price she made us out. She instantly knew we were from the Mainland. Island people don’t haggle over prices.

She sold the Coke to us at N100 with a smile that implied ‘game recognises game.’

And oh yeah, there’s the issue of potable water

At Omole Phase 1, we cook, brush our teeth and do our laundry with the water straight from the tap. We didn’t have to install missile-looking filters in our backyard. We didn’t have to run dialysis for the water with a Reverse Osmosis machine.

My fellow Islanders, that type of water is called potable water. And it runs bounteously on the Mainland. You can drink it if you want. You won’t kick the bucket. But bless your soul if you drink the water straight from your borehole in Lekki. There will be a service of songs for you with sweet puff-puff.

I used to mock a friend who lived on the Island but always brought jerrycans along to my house to fetch water. What ridiculousness! How can you not use the water in your house? You are in Lekki, for Pete’s sake, not Kolokuma-Opokuma.

Now, the joke is on me. While the water coming out of my tap appears clean, I still had to construct a mini Water Works behind my apartment. That Reverse Osmosis machine isn’t cheap. And it requires quarterly servicing.

If this Lekki doesn’t kill me, nothing else will.

Why are there so many urchins and area boys on the Island?

Let me tell you what else is not a high quality of life: the innumerable company of urchins, homeless people and area boys! The place is festering with them! Yes, we have urchins and area boys on the Mainland. But this is ‘the Island.’ It is supposed to be premium! When you live in a premium place abroad, you enjoy peace, quiet and security. Not urchins deluging cars at traffic stops and constituting a menace. My wife has panic attacks when these vermin swarm her car. Freedom Way, Chisco Junction and Jakande First Gate are hotspots. The number is incredible.

When we were moving our stuff to the Island, we had to make provisions for area boys. No mattress or sofa can get into the Island without paying area boys. They man every street and every junction. It’s ridiculous. I’ve never had to contend with such brazen extortion on the Mainland.

The scary thing is that this innumerable company of urchins and area boys live in shanties and abetes that neighbour well-off areas. They are a time bomb. A friend who lives in one of the nicer estates told me that during the END SARS protest, his estate had to contribute money to give to the urchin kingpins, so the urchins and touts would not swarm the estate and loot it. Incredulous!

Traffic congestion

One other thing that has not endeared the Island to me so far is the insufferable traffic. It takes about fifteen minutes for me to get to Victoria Island from my office on the Mainland. But between the Lekki Phase 1 Toll Gate and House On The Rock Church, it’s absolute bedlam. This distance is less than two kilometres but could take you more than thirty minutes. If you live on Orchid Road or drive from Ajah, you’ll be a year older by the time you get into VI. The illusion I had about better traffic on the Island was dispelled. December was harrowing for me.

The result of this traffic has to be overpopulation surely. The inconvenient truth is that the Island is densely populated. The Atlantic is on one side and the lagoon is on the other. It is just a long strip of land crammed with people. From the number of cars I see on the road, there must be five billion people living here.

The Island’s false notion of a high quality of life.

The WHO defines quality of life (QoL) as “an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns.”

Per Wikipedia, standard indicators of quality of life include wealth, employment, the environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, social belonging, religious beliefs, safety, security and freedom.

Perception of high (or low) quality of life is subjective. There are no quantitative measures for it only anecdotal evidence. Thus, the claim that the Island has a higher quality of life than the Mainland is indefensible. What matters to people varies. No doubt the Island knocks the Mainland out of the park in recreation and leisure. It has many fancy restaurants, bars, lounges and beaches. You’ll also find better-paying jobs and opportunities on the Island. But living outside the Island, and even Lagos, can also offer a high quality of life. I’d love to retire to some rural place with lots of green, clean air and no noise. A simple cottage close to a stream, river or ocean. Yam and pepper sauce for breakfast and pounded yam and antelope in the afternoon. Then in the evening, I’ll drive to my homie’s house in my Wrangler Jeep to eat fish peppersoup with half-ripe plantain. That’s a high quality of life for me. But to you, it may be access to a N200K bottle of Casamigos at Quilox or eating a N65K seafood platter. Again horses for courses. But remember, quality of life is subjective.

So, which is better, the Mainland or the Island?

Neither. Both have their merits and disadvantages. I don’t mind living on the Island. I don’t have buyer’s remorse buying a house here. But what I won’t have is you lot deriding and slandering the Mainland. Especially from you broke, fake-bougie ignoramuses still paying rent on the Island. The Mainland rocks. The Island rocks. It all depends on which Dwayne Johnson you like.

Happy New Year folks!

Branding, Culture, Reputation, Social Cause

Will I eat NASCO cornflakes?

So, I’ve been thinking. In light of the explosive revelation that the NASCO Group may have financed terrorism in Nigeria, if I was starving and NASCO cornflakes were the only edible thing around, would I eat it or not?

You bet your butt I would!

Unlike you lot, I’m capable of separating the sin from the sinner, the man from his product. If some bloke kidnapped school children but makes the best nkwobi, man, I’m buying from him. He may even be my best friend if he also made a mean isi-ewu. It makes no sense to be hating on grub. Grub is just grub. It didn’t ask to be made. So, it can’t and shouldn’t be held responsible for the transgressions of its maker. It’s like refusing to spend blood money. It’s money, people. A legal tender. If you used it to buy a car, the car will not wake up in the middle of the night and strangle in your sleep. Duh.

You guys know I’m joking, right? It’s satire. You can sheath your broomsticks and erasers. I don’t like terrorist-funding organizations any more than I like terrorist sympathisers. We should all take turns in kicking NASCO in the groin if their alleged transgression proved to be true. All 200 million of us. I’d like more than one turn.

By the way, do you know that if you eat the two goat eyes in isi-ewu at the same time, you see the last thing the goat saw before it died? Which of course will be Chijoke coming at it with a cleaver.

I don’t eat NASCO cornflakes. Not since I grew up and started making money. But NASCO biscuits and NASCO cornflakes are familiar brands. The cornflakes stood by me in my trying days at boarding school. It didn’t mind if I had it with milk or water and sugar, or if I crunched it in my mouth with despair. It understood. It was loving like that. But I am that kind of dude that forsakes the wife of his youth for some chic damsel. I don’t care if Kellogg fluttered her eyelashes at me only when I started having money. Nobody wants to date a broke smart guy. Love me and take my money.

I have nothing against NASCO cornflakes though. I haven’t had it in over 27 years. But I can eat it if I have to. It may not be “the brand for me,” but I’m not averse to trying it again. My memory of it was not of a terrible product. Only as I grew up, my palate changed.

The point of all this drivel is of course not NASCO cornflakes or the veracity of the company’s alleged perfidious past. The point of this piece is about the impact of scandals on brands in Nigeria. If scandals can and do, in fact, affect brand sales in Nigeria.

In general, I’d say no. Misbehaving brands get an easy pass in Nigeria.

Nigeria is not the US or Europe where folks wear righteous indignation like a jacket in winter. In Nigeriana, morality and principles are heavy baggage. Nobody has time to log them behind him. It slows you down from thriving.

If the NASCO Group were a company in the UK or US, it’s not inconceivable that some employees would resign. What they stand for, they’ll argue, is at variance with the company’s actions. Suppliers could even stop doing business with the company. Regulators and government agencies will be all over NASCO like chicks over WhiteMoney. A consumer boycott is expected.

Fat chance of that happening in Nigeria. No thanks to poverty and limited choice.

But these oyinbo people are crazy.

I was amused at the videos of dudes in America burning their Nike sneakers when Nike ran the Colin Kaepernick ad.

I mean, these dudes buy a pair of Nike kicks – not some Chinese wookies – and then set it on fire. It’s the most ridiculous thing. It’s like setting a $100-bill on fire. Rage at Nike, boycott Nike; I don’t care. Just don’t burn stuff you bought with your own money! If I came home and saw my wife emptying NASCO cornflakes in the bin, I’m getting a side chick!

But I digress.

There are two frameworks under which a scandal can affect a brand. The analytic and social frameworks. I’ll explain.

The Analytic Framework

Here, situations like (a) brand strength and consumer affinity, (b) the medium where the story breaks, and (c) how the scandal personally affects the consumer impacts reactions to the scandal.

Brands with strong affinity will weather scandals much easier than smaller brands. Brands like Indomie, Coke, MTN, Dangote, GT Bank, Guinness Stout and many others have bulwarks against scandals. These bulwarks are made of perception of quality or responsibility and consumer trust. They are built over several years. I’m more likely to trust Coke much more than Bigi Cola, for instance.

Second, if the news of the scandal breaks on social media, it’ll likely reach more people than if it broke in a newspaper. That’s because it’s easier for people to ‘share,’ the story thereby giving it more fuel. Most brand fires are ignited by social media.

Finally, if I perceive that the company’s wrongdoing has a direct effect on me or people I know, I’ll likely take it more seriously. In NASCO’s case, it’s about funding terrorism, which has claimed the lives of many Nigerians. I’m justly pissed. Unchecked, it’s a matter of time before it gets to me.

Again, let me stress. This is not about if NASCO is guilty or not. This is about brands and scandals.

The Social Framework

The nature and attitude of a people matter in how they view company wrongdoing. I haven’t done a sociological or psychological study to prove this theory, only relying on anecdotal evidence. So hold your horses!

The values and the types of society a consumer lives in influence how that consumer processes company misdeeds. In an accountable society, individual or company wrongdoing attracts revilement. But in a society like Nigeria burdened with corruption, injustice and lack of accountability, folks get inured to company or government transgression. They stop caring about what is right or wrong. They may even accept some form of wrongdoing as ‘normal’ to doing business in the country.

Plus we are a forgiving people. Which is great because the missus should have thrown me out long ago. I get exasperated when she asks me to help her zip her dress.

A question: why can’t women buy dresses they can zip themselves? What if the dress catches fire while they are in?

Anyways, Nigeria is a great place for brands to do business. We’ve got no consumerism and we are satisfied with a minimum viable product. And there is a gazillion of us.

About time I launched that snake soup business.

Culture, Faith, Lifestyle

Gen Y, Gen Z and general degeneracy.

“What is called Western Civilization is in an advanced state of decomposition, and another Dark Ages will soon be upon us, if, indeed, it has not already begun. With the Media, especially television, governing all our lives, as they indubitably do, it is easily imaginable that this might happen without our noticing…by accustoming us to the gradual deterioration of our values.” – Malcolm Muggeridge


Watch African American stand-up comedy for only a few minutes and you’ll realise it’s not what you watch with kids around. There is no two-minute period without the copious use of expletives. Communication is impossible in that genre without profanity.

Now, I don’t have a brittle spirit. Nor am I pharisaical. I just hate having to explain what ‘coochie’ is to a 10-year-old. I assure you it is no laughing matter. 

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