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A parliament of owls? A wake of vultures? English, you beauty!

The last time I thought about collective nouns for animals was last year when my daughter was writing exams into secondary school (high school). She was impressed with my knowledge. Well, that’s what fathers do – know things. 

But my esteem was bruised a few days ago when I was writing a blogpost and needed to use the collective nouns for owls. Turns out the collective noun for owls is – wait for it – a parliament of owls. 

A parliament? 

Like owls voted by their peers to deliberate on avian matters? That’s crazy. Birds don’t vote. Then I made the connection. Owls are supposed to be wise! Parliamentarians are supposed to be owlish. And owls do have a solemn and brooding look about them. Best candidates for feathered parliamentarians. 

They probably do a better job than their human counterpart. 

Anyway, below are collective nouns for animals. Some you know. Many will knock your socks off. 

  1. A shrewdness of apes.
  2. A cete of badgers.
  3. A colony/cloud/camp of bats
  4. A sloth/sleuth of bears (like a private detective bear?)
  5. A swarm of bees.
  6. A gang/obstinacy of buffalo (bullies!)
  7. A caravan of camels. 
  8. A clowder/glaring of cats (what?!)
  9. A destruction of wild cats.
  10. A quiver of cobras.
  11. A bask of crocodiles.
  12. A murder of crows (yea, those ones look ominous). 
  13. A drove of donkeys. 
  14. A convocation of eagles (hope they graduate summa cum laude) 
  15. A parade of elephants. 
  16. A gang/herd of elks
  17. A cast of falcons. 
  18. A business of ferrets. 
  19. A school of fish (how come they aren’t smart)
  20. A stand of flamingos
  21. A skulk/leash of foxes
  22. An army of frogs
  23. A gaggle of geese (Listerine or Colgate?)
  24. A tower of giraffes (but of course!)
  25. A band of gorillas (G-Unit!)
  26. A bloat of hippopotami (perfect!)
  27. A cackle of hyenas ( I have a bone to pick with this one!)
  28. A shadow of jaguars.
  29. A smack of jellyfish.
  30. A troop/mob of kangaroos.
  31. A conspiracy of lemurs ( Never take lemurs into confidence then)
  32. A leap of leopards.
  33. A pride of lions.
  34. A labor of moles
  35. A barrel/troop of monkeys. 
  36. A pack of mules.
  37. A family of otters. 
  38. A team/yoke of oxen. 
  39. A parliament of owls.
  40. A claw of panthers (Wakanda forever!)
  41. A pandemonium of parrots (naturally!)
  42. An ostentation of peacocks (show off!)
  43. A drift/drove of pigs.
  44. A prickle of porcupines (of course!)
  45. A herd of rabbits.
  46. A colony of rats.
  47. An unkindness of ravens (What?They were kind to Elijah!)
  48. A crash of rhinoceroses. 
  49. A shiver of sharks. 
  50. A stench of skunks (expectedly)
  51. A nest of snakes. 
  52. A dray/scurry of squirrels
  53. A fever of stingrays (really?)
  54. A bevy/game of swans (if they are in flight: a wedge).
  55. An ambush/streak of tigers.
  56. A knot of toads. 
  57. A gang/rafter of turkeys.
  58. A bale/nest of turtles. 
  59. A colony/gang/pack of weasels (needed a more cretinous name)
  60. A pod/school/gam of whales.
  61. A pack of wolves. 
  62. A wake of vultures (absolutely brilliant!)
  63. A zeal of zebras. 

Then there are a couple of funny ones:

  1. A scandal of politicians.
  2. A fringe of lunatics.
  3. A gossip of mermaids.
  4. A blessing of unicorns. 

Naturally, those gave me ideas and I started coming up with mine: 

  1. A prostitution of whores/politicians.
  2. A sanctimony of priests.
  3. A merry of drunks.
  4. A vanity of celebrities
  5. A bent of criminals
  6. A mammon of bankers
  7. A scrubs of nurses
  8. A faraday of electricians
  9. An acrimony of side-chicks
  10. A fib of marketers
  11. A pity/shame of beggars.

What crazy collective nouns can you come up with? Rather enjoying this!

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Our ethnic fault line and the keg of gunpowder.

ERIC LAFFORGUE/ART IN ALL OF US

Ingratiating commentaries are profitable. I’m tempted to get on that gravy train. But sadly, it is not for me. By a cruel hand of fate, it turns out I am allergic to bull. I tend to serve my juice without sweeteners. And as everyone with a sweet tooth knows, juices without sugar taste anemic. Truth is vinegary. Bitter, in fact, in many circles. It is why you never see Alomo Bitters or Kasaprenko in State Houses. Only honeyed speeches to soothe itchy ears. 

But let me state, in case there is somebody out there willing to buy me a house on easy street; I do not detest being rich. I do not mind farting Chanel and sneezing Dior. I consider it not vanity to take my medicines with caviar and ease my gastric upset with lychee.  

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Thin line between prostitution and side-chick.

Right. 

I crawled out from under my rock to hear the ruckus about a newfangled men association. Stingy Men Association of Nigeria. Quite unexpectedly, men have come to their senses and will no longer let their phalluses lead them to ruination. 

Phalluses, by their unique biology, pay no mind to bankruptcy and good sense.  Once in the presence of a nubile female, they demand the master login to the mobile app. Money, after all, is only a means to an end.

Women, of course, are not treating this illiberal fraternity lightly. It’s an affront and a denial of a fundamental woman right.

“How dare men! It is a woman’s right to be feted! It is a woman’s right to help herself to a man’s wallet. In the history of mendom, there has not been a single man in distress. It is always a damsel in distress. Why will men seek to redress the order of nature? But two can play. If the wallets won’t open, then the legs won’t open either. They shouldn’t worry. When a god starts acting out of line, we show it the wood it was carved from. Radarada. Jatijati.”

It’s all chucklesome.  

But let me get this out of the way. Unmarried people shouldn’t be bonking. It is a sin. Abba Father says not to do it. Yoruba people, ever the dramatists, have a frightful name for fornication – panságà. It sounds dastardly. If we can’t scare you with the consequence of the word, we’ll scare you with the sound of it. Pasángà sounds like you killed a hundred infants with a panga machete. 

Besides, sex is more than physical coitus. There is the intertwining of emotions, and dare I say, spirits.  I’d hate to see you bond with Zelda. 

You do remember Zelda, don’t you? From Terrahawks? 

I forgot; you lot are Generation Zilch.  

This is Zelda. 

Now, to you, my married friends engaged in cuckoldry. “Stolen water is sweet”, right? “Food eaten in secret is delicious”, ba? Well, here’s what the Good Book says to you: 

“Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.”

I didn’t make that up. Crack open Prov 6:27-29 and see for yourself. At any rate, I’m sure you don’t mind someone else bonking your wife or husband. Or do you?

Back to the Stingy Men Association of Nigeria. 

The farcical association is topical because of the prevailing poverty in the land. It has become normative that a boo bears the cost of living of a bae. It’s ridiculous. Dubious justifications are advanced. 

“A girl needs to look good for her guy.” 

“When a girl is happy, she is able to make her man happy too.”

“Providing for your girlfriend is a sign of responsibility.” 

It’s a heavy dollop of codswallop. 

Spare me the porky pie that you sweethearts buy expensive hair to impress the menfolk. No, you don’t. Because we the menfolk can’t tell the difference between a N300K and a N700K hair. You buy the hair to show off to yourselves.

Several years ago, the missus badgered me into buying her Brazilian hair. I didn’t understand the need. She is from Osun State, the ‘State of Virtue.’  Why does she want to naturalize to Brazilian? Is a Brazilian passport visa-free to the US?

Eventually, I bought the hair. It was a small fortune.

The day she made the hair, I didn’t notice. She tossed her head about like a teen so I’ll notice. But I didn’t. I knew she looked pretty but couldn’t place what was different about her.

She got angry and asked me what I thought of her new hair.

Oh, that was it! The hair!

I said ‘nice.’

She only forgave me five years ago.

So, if the girlfriend needs to wear the hair of fifty horses, by all means, do so darling. We only request you buy it with your own money. If you want to ‘glow’ and buy Beyonce-level cream, grow a large posterior, or slay more than David and Gideon, be our guest. All we ask of you is not to insist the expenses are for our spreadsheet. And why on earth would a bloke buy his girlfriend an iPhone 12 when he uses an Infinix? You think it was only Eve that loved Apple? 

Look, I’m not a Scrooge. I believe in gifting. Gifting stokes affection. It’s good for the boo to splurge on the bae now and then. But a dude is a finite being. He can’t be the source of infinite beneficence. The boo should give because he wants to, not because he must. 

Well, except the relationship is between a married dude and a side chick.

In such relationships, the side chick has my blessing to ransack, pillage and plunder the married boyfriend. Fleecing and gouging should come with the territory. After all, it is a waste of sin dating a broke married man. 

I saw that on a t-shirt.    

Any erotic relationship premised on ceaseless material and financial provision is faux love. You are paying for the ‘love’. The way you pay a prostitute for her favours. It’s only in movies that prostitutes develop genuine affection for their patrons. 

Most married-men-and-side-chick affairs are no more than prostitution by a more benign name. Or why is a single girl dating a married bloke? Because there are no wonderful single guys around? Because of true love’s kiss? Greed and lust, ladies and gentlemen, are at the heart of it. Those are not traits that will make Pete open the Pearly Gates to you.

Anyway, here’s a good joke for you: if you’re over 30 and still dating another woman’s man, you are a side hen, not a side chick!   

   

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Ladies, cats are not witches. Witches like blood not milk!

Nisian Hughes/Getty Images

Man, I like cats. 

Not terrifying and petrifying felines like Mufasa or Shere Khan. But cats like Garfield and Puss In Boots. Cute, sneaky, disloyal and manipulative beauties. I’m particularly drawn to black furry cats. I like the outcast and maligned.  

Why do I like cats? Cats live life on their own terms. They know they don’t have nine lives so don’t waste their time trying to please you. You are the one who wanted a pet, not them. 

Also, cats don’t care about titles. Dogs can continue to be ‘Man’s Best Friend’. Cats don’t give a hoot. They understand that titles come with responsibilities. Responsibilities are for humans. So, you are not going to trick them into it with some title. They might chase down a mouse. But understand that it is because they want to do it and not because you expect them to. Back in the day, in the village, my grandma had three cats who never chase mice. These beauties just love to eat fufu and efo-riro and chill. 

Can’t blame them. Egbado (Yewa) people make the best fufu in the galaxy. And my grandma’s efo-riro could make Netanyahu kiss Hassan Rouhani.     

But I don’t have a cat. That is because I love to have a wife more than I love being divorced. My wife hates cats. For her, you can’t trust cats. Cats are gossips. They listen to your deepest secrets and spill them to the neighbours. And they are agents of witches and wizards. They expose your home to fiendish influences. 

It’s all baloney, of course. Cats are no more capable of witchery than cockroaches are capable of holiness. But arguing that with cat haters is like arguing the merits of sobriety with a tippler. 

We have a small white wolf in our home. Spin doctors call it a dog – an American Eskimo. But I didn’t start eating bony fish yesterday. It is a wolf. Only it is smaller and cutesy. Wanders from room to room. It’s pampered like William and takes a piss like Harry. My wife and daughters dote on this canine. They feed it before they feed me. Cuddle it more than they cuddle me. He enjoys the attention and then sneers at me.  

I am going to poison the mutt one day.

Do you old geezers remember the horror movie, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell? A German Shepherd bred by Satanists. The dog grew up to colossal devilry. Killed the maid in a fire. Possessed the minds of its owner. In the last scene, the frightful demon in the dog came out to perish the soul of the ‘actor’. The symbol of a crucifix seared onto the man’s palm saved the man. Dog bursts into flame and is imprisoned in hell for 1,000 years. That movie spooked me into my early teens. 

The title of the movie is instructive. It was Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell, not Devil Cat: The Feline of Hell.

Anyway, I outgrew my fear of dogs. I realise that devil-dog movie was all phoney-baloney. Now, I love dogs. I am going to get me a big hairy doggo soon. Probably a Leonberger or a Giant Schnauzer. If only to scare the bejesus out of the frisky wolf in my house. 

See how easy it is for people to change? I went from dog-indifferent to dog-liker. So, why can’t people outgrow their abhorrence of cats? What does a cat have to do to get some love from Nigerian women? Buy them hair? Help them lose belly fat?  

The sad part is the missus has infected my daughters with cat-hate. They started out loving cats. I’d take them to a friend’s house and we’d go with tinned sardines and milk to feed the queen and her kittens. My girls loved feeding the pusses. They gave them names and were always eager to visit. 

Once the missus discovered what we do in said friend’s house, she set about cooking our goose. Of course, it didn’t help that we purloined her sardines and milk for the visits. But as a good Christian wife, she ought to remember that love keeps no records of wrong. But cats make Nigerian women forget the Scriptures. 

Or remember it. 

The missus proceeded to indoctrinate my kids on the vileness of cats. And once a mother abuses a mind, it is tough disabusing it. 

Once at a bar – beer parlour – I came across some despicable fellows who loved to eat cats. 

Eat cats!

Folks, I don’t care what you believe: if you can eat a cat, you can eat a human.

One of these repugnant fellows went ahead to describe how scrumptious a cat was in egusi soup. He particularly relished the paw. The cat’s paws grip the egusi and you pry them open and lick the egusi balls trapped beneath and around the pads. He said it was quite a heavenly experience. 

I stopped going to that beer parlour. 

By the way, do you know how they kill cats for food? They put it in a sack and smash the sack repeatedly against a wall till the cat dies. At other times, they tie off the sack and proceed to batter the poor thing to death. They argue it’s the only safe way to kill a cat. 

Murder most foul. Only Bayern Munich is capable of such wickedness. 

So, what myths and ideologies are holding you back? What are the long-held beliefs you are going to disabuse from your mind in 2021? 

While you ponder on it, check out the two beauties below. A black Maine Coon and a Siamese. Aren’t they gorgeous!

Maine Coon

 

Siamese

 

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Paternity fraud. What makes a child yours?

 

Your Wife and I. 

Nigerians have the cruelest humour. We banter and satirize like no other. Pity such creativity seldom shows in our advertising. 

In the last couple of days, Twitterverse has been awash with the alleged indiscretion of a bank MD. As expected of senior management, this good sir had spotted promise in a married employee. Since where a man works is also where he ‘chops’, an amorous relationship soon ensued. If we believe the blogosphere, this good sir had even sired two strapping kids from said adulterous relationship. Kids the husband of the unfaithful wife thought were his. Sadly, the good husband has deprived us of his side of the story, having succumbed to a heart attack. 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked,” said my homeboy Jeremy.

That is Jeremiah to you.

But how Nigeriana seethed! You’d have thought we were a pious lot. Men wielded pitchforks. Women got on their brooms. The MD has blood on his hands. He has coveted Bathsheba and killed her husband. We want his head on a pike. 

I am angry myself. The story rings home. A close friend was in a similar spot several years ago. 

But I have a solemn question: what makes a child yours? 

We’ll get to that in a bit. First the story about my friend.

We were in our second year at the university and the philandering of my homeboy had come home to roost. He’d knock up a girlfriend. We’ll call her Two-Time. 

Naturally, my homeboy, whom we shall call Marvin, denied responsibility. One, he learned he was going to be a pappy six months into the pregnancy. Two, the maths didn’t tally. He knew when last he was with Two-Time. Third, he didn’t have two pennies to rub together. He was so po, he couldn’t afford the other two letters. 

So, yea, no way we were going to be a daddy. 

But Two-Time swore with her life that the child was Marvin’s. She hadn’t been with any other.

She had allies in Marvin’s mum and aunts.  

“What do you mean ‘it is not your child’? You two have been fornicating wantonly before Gomorrah. She is always cooped up in your room like a hen hiding from a hawk. I don’t think you two were studying Efficient Markets Hypothesis in there! And what do you mean the math doesn’t figure? What are you now, an obstetrician? You now know how God works? These things happen, son. Don’t deny your child. Don’t let your child suffer. We have your back. We will all raise the child together.”

Mothers and aunts. They talk a better game than snake oil salesmen. 

But to assuage any doubts, Marvin’s mother went to enquire of some prophet. The verdict: the baby was Marvin’s.

Armed with such incontrovertible evidence, the family pressurised Marvin into accepting paternity.

In the end, he did. But he would not see the child until three months after her birth. The child was born in Jos and Marvin lived in Lagos. 

Oh, she was a cute she-Marvin. His spitting image. Same ears, same face, same complexion. An angel. We’ll call her Munchkin. 

Munchkin lived with Marvin and his mother at their face-me-I-face-you apartment in Lagos. All the fellas hung out in that house. So we contributed to raising Munchkin. The money we should have used to buy second-hand Timbolo (Timberland boots) and fake Ralph Lauren shirts. But she was our child. Marvin took on odd jobs to raise extra cash. 

And Munchkin was coming along mighty fine. She was precocious. She called the boys by our nicknames. I was Jydo Weere(Jide The Mad One). Another friend was Junkie. Marvin was Elemu (Drunkard). 

In the year 2000, when Munchkin was 7 years old, Two-Time came to pick her for the holidays. Nothing unusual about that. She did that often during the holidays. Only on this occasion, she did not return Munchkin even when the school had resumed. There was no GSM in those days so Two-Time could not be reached by phone. 

Marvin stomped to her house. 

She had moved.

Along with her mother with whom she lived.  

The neighbours didn’t know where they’d moved to. 

Houston, we have a problem.

Most of the boys had started working by now. Marvin worked in a bank. So Saturdays and Sundays were the only days available to search for Two-Time.

After a few weeks, Marvin got hold of the address of a Two-Time aunt. He constituted himself into a proper irritation to this woman. He’d show up at her house every Saturday morning at 6 am. He claims he only went there to ask the whereabouts of Two Time but I suspect he crouched beneath the woman’s window and sang Saheed Osupa and Dauda Epo Kinkin. Drove the woman mad. The aunt eventually spilled the beans and told Marvin where Two-Time was. 

Marvin stormed the address and found Two-Time. But Munchkin was not with her. 

She was with her real father. 

Say what now? 

Two-Time told Marvin Munchkin was not his child. 

You two-timing, lecherous and treacherous wench! 

And she wasn’t going to tell Marvin where Munchkin was. 

Over the course of several days, Marvin became suppliant. He apologised for his sins and the sins of his ancestors. He promised to marry her and be the love of her life. He’ll change. They even shagged. 

So, Two-Time fessed up. She told him Munchkin was with her real father in Jos. She had got pregnant for the bloke but he’d rejected paternity. She told her mother who then asked her to explore the possibility of foisting the paternity on Marvin. So, she’d turned to Marvin.

We had all been suckers.

All you lot whose mothers go to enquire of some prophet which of your suitors to marry, best tell them to stop. Those prophets don’t see squat!

It all felt like some B-rate Nollywood movie.

Only it wasn’t.

This drama was playing out before our eyes and we were part of the cast.

Now, at the same time Marvin was schmoozing Two-Time to know Munchkin’s exact location, Marvin’s mother had swung into action. 

You see, Marvin’s mother, whom we shall call G-Mama, was gangsta. On her own, she had tracked down where Munchkin was. How she did that is still a mystery. She discovered that Munchkin was not in Jos but was in fact in Lagos with an aunt of Two-Time. 

Hell hath no fury like a grandma pissed. She barrelled to that address. 

She saw Munchkin. 

She.Gave.Them.Hell. 

She invoked Sango, Ogun, federal law, state law, Thor, Fadeyi Oloro, MC Oluomo, Voldemort, Osama Bin Laden, the Host of Heaven, Roy Keane, and just about any other peril that came to her mind.

The aunt simply handed Munchkin over without an argument.

There. We have our Munchkin back.

Marvin took Munchkin for a DNA test. The test confirmed what we’d all feared. Munchkin was not Marvin’s child. 

G-Mama didn’t want to give her up though. “How could she not be ours? She looks like Marvin! The test must be wrong. Something must be wrong. We’ll fight for her! Lai-lai, I no gree!”

But the emotional toll on Marvin was too great. His life was spiraling out of control. He wanted the drama over with. After a few weeks of struggle, he drove Munchkin to Two-Time and handed her over.

This is the part where you cry.

Then Munchkin’s real father showed up. 

Same ear, same nose, same forehead, same complexion. 

Munchkin looked more like him than she looked like Marvin!

What witchery is this!

Folks, don’t ever believe that because a child looks like you, s/he is your child! Biology can be cruel!

Munchkin’s father came with his family to apologise to Marvin and to offer compensation. The guy was a good dude, only caught in the web of some jiggery-pokery. Marvin turned down the offer of compensation and told them he was OK releasing Munchkin to them. Only they’d better come good in her life.

Man, I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall when Two-Time went back to charm Munchkin’s father. 

“Hey darling, guess what? Remember that your spermatozoa that hit home run? It is now a beautiful 7-year-old daughter in Lagos. I was going to tell you but on my way a meteor hit me and I lost my memory. We are dying to come to you and be one happy family.”

Oh, I forgot. Flies don’t have ears. And even if they do and I heard everything she said, nobody will listen to me. Nobody listens to a fly.

Bugger.

But one thing is for certain; she must have spun a good yarn. I mean, it’s not every day you wake up and realise you have a 7-year-old kid in Kathmandu. 

Anyway, the bloke didn’t marry Two-Time. Bummer. He accepted Munchkin but married someone else. Munchkin lived with the bloke’s aunt and grandma. On Munchkin’s account, her stepmom didn’t take to her. She had a torrid time living with family.

Marvin also didn’t marry Two Time. Double bummer. He married someone else and has his own kid now. ‘Own’ kid because he did a DNA test. He passed.

Munchkin is now in her mid-twenties and in Canada. She relocated with her father over a decade ago. Marvin had also moved to the US in the early 2000s. She and Marvin keep in touch.

But she’s pretty messed up. She has a host of psychological problems and is on some serious medication. She’s dropped out of four colleges and amassed huge debt. She now lives in a shelter. 

Our Munchkin.

I was with Marvin at his home in the US recently. He showed me a recent convo between himself and Munchkin. A line brought tears to my eyes. She told him: “you’re also still my dad….” 

Which answers the question I posed earlier: what makes a child yours?

It is not your blood coursing through the child’s vein or you share DNA. Neither is it likeness in looks or mannerism.

It is belief. 

The belief that the child is from your loins. For s/he may well not be. After all, you didn’t do any paternity test, did you? 

It is all mind over matter. Your child is your child only because you believe s/he is your child. Blood and DNA are secondary. 

So, should you do a DNA test? Only if you don’t trust your wife or you’ve been sowing your wild oats in dubious farmlands.

But what if you do the test and it confirms the child(ren) to be yours? How will your wife feel? Trust is shattered. And when trust is gone in a marriage, everything else is gone. 

I guess the question then is: what is trust worth to you? 

“For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” – Ecclesiastes 1:18

 

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#EndSARS. We are all guilty of profiling

What is it about a hairstyle, torn jeans and youth that makes a dude delinquent, a crook or a con?

 I’ll tell you what it is. It is because we distrust people who are different from us. People who don’t dress as we do, talk like we do or incline their ears to our wisdom.

It is not a problem only the Nigerian Police has. It is a problem of the Nigerian society. Sometimes it is subtle. Sometimes it spits in your face and insults your father. I’ll share three personal stories.

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Psst…aliens are here. Attracted by 5G

nypost

“Psst…have you heard? 5G tech caused Covid-19! It’s a ploy by the New World Order to get us chipped. Remember 666? The mark of the beast? That’s the end game!”

 “Psst…the 2004 tsunami was caused by a secret underwater nuclear test by India.  US and Israel scientists were involved.  

“Psst…Diana was killed by the MI6 on instruction of Her Majesty so Diana won’t have an Arab child for Dodi Fayed. Imagine Williams and Harry having an Arab sibling!

“Psst…Malaysia flight MH370 was shot down over the Indian Ocean to prevent top secret information exchanging hands. There was a spy onboard carrying sensitive information.”

How I enjoy a good conspiracy theory!

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Sweethearts, if you keep your pants on, no one is going to be nicking them.

On my way home yesterday, I was listening to Classic FM. I heard, a rather preposterous report: an epidemic of female underpants theft in Nigeria. Grand theft of what we call pata or p-a-i-n-t in Yoruba.
 
Yup. Female pants are being purloined, shanghaied, abducted and misappropriated all over the land. This making away with underpants are sometimes surreptitious. At other times it is brazen and at gunpoint: “your pant or your life!”

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Signs you may be difficult to work with.

Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) and Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the title character in Disney’s “Moana.” Credit: Disney

A while back, a friend who lived outside the country told me he had met someone who knew me and worked with me in some capacity. He told me this chap had remarked about me: “Jide was a brilliant guy. A good person. But he was sometimes difficult to work with.” 

Remember the movie Ghosts of Girlfriends Past? Where the sins of your past douchebaggery come to haunt you? Well, I was nothing like the philandering and Class-A insensate that Mathew McConaughey was in the movie, but still, I knew there were times when my colleagues must have felt like feeding me to a T-Rex.

Maybe to three T-Rexes.

The irony of it was that I wasn’t aware that I was being difficult. I thought I was doing my job. Doing what the job required.

Which is why I’m doing this post. To help someone out there check if they are on their way to the Jerk Hall of Fame or already awarded. Hopefully, it will help you avoid being that guy or babe.

So here are a few pointers. You may be difficult to work with if:

1. You are combustible too often. Anger is an undeniable human emotion. It may even be helpful. But if you explode at your colleagues or anyone too often, whatever the reason, you may be a difficult person to work with.

The dangerous thing about being quick to anger is that it loosens the tongue (or the pen) to say things you shouldn’t have said or act in ways you might regret later. Anger is good. But wrath isn’t.

2. Impatient with colleagues. People assimilate information or ‘get it’ at different rates. It doesn’t mean they are a doofus. If you think you’re smart or brilliant, I assure you that there is someone smarter and more brilliant than you are in your field or company. I have a hard time understanding Quantum Physics and Astronomy, which I’m interested in. Some guy at NASA may think I’m a dolt but I’d like to sit and hear a presentation from them about making people buy what they really don’t need.

Be patient with people.

3. You think you are indispensable. The feeling of being ‘untouchable’ could lead you into giving subordinates and colleagues a hard time. Please get this into your head: NO ONE is indispensable. Steve Jobs died and Apple became a trillion-dollar company.

Try not to believe you are indispensable. It’ll make you more human and humane to colleagues.

4. People don’t want to come to you. If colleagues don’t want to come to you for help because you are often technically and practically unable to help, that’s understandable. But be wary if they don’t come to you because they think you are a jerk. It is the same if a guy was assigned to you and he weeps and calls his wife to tell her he loves her.

No matter what you may have heard, you need more friends than enemies in your life. Folks whom people tend to gravitate towards tend to be better managers and hence, assume leadership positions quicker and stay there longer.

I’m not saying you should try to please everyone. You can’t. But if you could be a little more pleasant, a little more helpful, a little less arrogant or a little more accessible, please do it.

5. You believe work should be impersonal. One of the Kool-Aid we have drunk and are still drinking is the belief that the workplace should be formal and impersonal.

Bunkum.

Until such a time when Betty the AI or George the Algo are your only workmates, you will have to deal with Chi-Chi the mother of three and Bassey the Pious.

When we believe work should be impersonal, we lose empathy and sensitivity. When people come to work, we don’t know what they may be facing in their personal lives.

There was once a colleague, mother of four, who often came late to work. She was often distracted. It affected her work. The people she worked with were unhappy with her performance. She was put on Performance Improvement Programme, a prelude to being fired if there was no noticeable change in a short period of time.

HR called her in for a chat. She burst into tears and spilt all that was happening in her life. Her husband beats her often. The fella was out of job but needed to show who was still the head of the house. There was little sunshine in her life. When we heard her story, many were remorseful, mea culpa, for the hard time we gave her.

People go through stuff in their lives. Sometimes, really hard stuff. Don’t add to it in the workplace. Before you are tempted to scream at them, be dismissive of them, write them a query or fire them, take a step back to consider maybe there’s something else going on behind the crisp shirt or slim skirt. Be a human. Screw the rule book.

As for me, I have long reformed. I realised that if I wanted to get to the very top, I could not be someone people found difficult to work with.

That and the fear of T-Rex.

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Pepsi’s ‘Naija All The Way’ spot. How I love a good marketing ambush!

The Pepsi Naija All The Way spot is the shiznit! Check it out below:

Neat, isn’t it? It’s trendy, bouncy and pumps you up. Makes you want to believe in Nigeria again. The spot reminded us of one of the reasons we are Nigerians: bagful of self-belief and swag.

Well, yea, the Naija spirit also sometimes turn into snakes and make away with money, and may even ask bribe from an archangel. But this spot is not about all that. The spot rather reps us in a positive way.  

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If there are no free lunches, how come we expect data privacy?

In the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, I have thought about how much of my personal data is out there. Data waiting to be harvested by some sick psychologist or ethnographer and deployed to warping my mind. I like to think that I have an iron-clad mind. But at the rate I give in to pepperoni pizza, maybe having an ‘open mind’ is not such a bad thing after all.  

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These ‘shithole’ outrage. Please, give me a break!

Aside from his use of an obscene term, I really do not understand the rage on the continent when President Trump referred to our beloved patch as ‘shithole countries.’

Emmanuel Macron yesterday said he shares the outrage of Africans on the disparagement by President Trump.

Oh please!

If by ‘shithole countries’ the man meant countries groaning under the weight of corruption, nepotism, abuse of power and disregard for rule of law, the social contract and the human condition, then he clearly wasn’t talking about the African continent. 

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Robert Mugabe and Donald Trump. My two favourite personal brands.

Not so many folks like President Mugabe and President Trump. Not me. I’m their biggest fan. I’d give anything to be in the presence of their awesomeness. 

I like the two for different reasons though. For President Trump, I like that the office of POTUS hasn’t sobered him up.  After all, he was Donald John Trump first before he became President Trump. Man is determined to be Donald John Trump with or without Air Force One.

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Shooting Nigerian commercials out of Nigeria. What is true? What is bunkum?

A few months ago, the Minister for Information & Culture announced the government was going to ban the production of Nigerian movies, music videos and reality TV programmes outside the country. Such ban was to help grow the creative industry in Nigeria and to create jobs.

Said the minister:

‘It is Nigerians that pay for the consumption of these products and therefore they must be allowed and encouraged to participate in their production.’

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“The best time to go for broke is when you’re already there.”

Bob Nye/NASA/Donaldson Collection/Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

“Look

If you had one shot

Or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted

In one moment

Would you capture it

Or just let it slip?

Eminem – “Lose Yourself .“ (Soundtrack for “8 Mile.” )

If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures, you should. It is a biopic about African-American female mathematicians working at NASA during the Cold War and its very public expression in the Space Race.

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Managing the Etisalat rebrand thoughtfully.

That Etisalat Nigeria must rebrand is obvious. The UAE’s Etisalat Group has pulled out of the company and written down its value in it to nil. It says Etisalat Nigeria only has a few weeks to use its brand name. Presumably, if Etisalat Nigeria wants to keep using the brand name, it must pay franchising fees. That must be at least a couple of million dollars yearly. We are not aware that this option is on the table though. And if it is, taking it up will be unwise for a business that owes creditors over $680m, the source of its current troubles.

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The thing about loyalty.

“Look out for the people who look out for you. Loyalty is everything.” – Found Online

I came across a YouTube video in which documentary maker Louis Theroux set out hoping to meet ‘MC Olu Omo.’ MC Olu Omo is the Treasurer of NURTW in Lagos and also the Chairman of the Oshodi chapter. According to popular opinion, he is also the Capofamiglia of ‘Oshland’ (Oshodi). The He-Whom-All-Fears. Goon Potentate-Over-Oshodi.

Brave soul, that Louis. There are some deaths that can’t kill a black man. Like those arising from bravery. Per the late Chinua Achebe: “It is from the compound of a coward that we point to where a brave man used to live.”

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GTBank Food & Drink. You can’t go wrong with food, can you?

So, on May 1, my household downed tools. The missus would have me know that being a wife and a mother was work. Hard work, as a matter of fact. So in observance of Workers’ Day, she was taking the day off from most wifely duties. She pointed me in the direction of GTBank Food & Drink for the day’s feeding.

Outwardly, I made a fuss about the denial of my spousal culinary benefit. But the truth is, I am an epicure. A foodie. I’m the sort of guy you’ll find following MasterChef Australia and Anthony Bourdain: Paths Unknown. I consider cooking an art, a creative expression. Much like painting. But the good thing about cooking, quite unlike a Rembrandt, is that you can actually eat it.

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Why approval by consensus never leads to great ideas

I have been involved in a few projects where approvals depended on a motley bunch of people, most of whom had little knowledge of the project, what it entails or what success would look like. It was decision-making by committee. A consensus-oriented process that seldom leads to great work, at least as far as great advertising or marketing goes. One of such projects stood out.

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Nigerian Banks and Product (Un)Truth.

GT Bank is my favourite bank. I use it the most. Not that if Segun Agbaje needed a kidney, I’d give him one of mine. But it’s a bank with a cause. With a value proposition. I’ll tell you two stories.

A couple of years ago, I was in New Zealand, a country with a 12-hour time difference to Nigeria. I went out one afternoon to use my dollar-denominated GT Bank card at an ATM. It didn’t work. Tried it a second time. Zilch. A third time. Nada. Not good. Needed cash badly. And well, it was also embarrassing. I was the only black man within a 50-kilometre radius. A Nigerian. Spending an inordinate amount of time at an ATM.

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Sleep in the dark. You’ll get used to the monsters.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Jack Canfield. 

There’s something decidedly hare-brained about jumping out of a perfectly good plane. A plane, if it isn’t obvious, is not a boat or a car. A plane flies. In the skies. With birds. There’s a reason we’re not birds. But man has never really been blessed with much discernment, have we?

Sky-diving was something I had always wanted to do. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot. You know, fly around the world and blow bad guys up. How I traded such altruistic aspiration for a life in brand management has got to be as mysterious as Po being the Dragon Warrior. Anyway, now that I have settled for a somewhat sedentary career, I thought jumping out of a plane might be the closest thing to feeling the thrill of being a fighter pilot.

But I had to battle a lot of monsters before my jump:

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New Airtel advertising. Must be the water in Banana Island.

There must be something in the waters at Banana Island. It was just a few weeks ago that I wrote about Airtel Nigeria’s Lost TV spot and how different and refreshing the spot was from previous Airtel commercials, and indeed from category spots. Lost was a marker set down by Airtel against competition, and unwittingly, against itself. The next spot from the company was always going to draw keen attention. Will it match or beat Lost, or will it crash and burn under the weight of high expectation?

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All I want for Christmas is a warm ad

I’m a Christmas guy. I love Christmas. It’s my best time of the year. The harmattan. The lights. The carols. “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen…”“Odun lo so pin O, Baba Rere…” The nice hampers. The dodgy hampers. The teeming malls. Bliss. Joy to the world.

If only brands and companies will give us some really warm Christmas ad. We really could do with some cheer in this country right now.

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LAIF Awards 2016. Not a lot to laugh about.

“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn

So, I attended the 2017 LAIF Awards, my old stomping ground. I hadn’t been to one in some time and I thought it’d be great to see what the advertising industry was up to these days. When I was at TBWA, advertising awards were a big part of the network and my life. A strong agency showing at an award helped the agency get on clients’ radars and in consideration for businesses. It also helped us attract great talents, both creative and non-creative. The Omnicom Group, the holding company of BBDO, DDB and TBWA amongst others, had always been big on ‘doing great work.’ That ethos is reflected in the consistent and strong showings of the BBDO, DDB and TBWA networks at Cannes, One Show and D&AD.

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“Life Without Data.” Easily the most arresting Airtel Nigeria advertising in years.

I have always felt that Airtel Nigeria TV spots were the least engaging amongst all Telco advertising in Nigeria. For a brand that has consistently been in the Top 6 of marketing spenders in that last five years, I’d say this was rather unflattering.

Well, not any more. It’s new TV advertising, ‘Life Without Data,’ seems to be grabbing all the attention, in contrast to the marooned protagonist in the spot.

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How long does it take to make eba again?

The other day a colleague and I went for lunch at one of the ‘posh’ restaurants in Lagos that catered largely to local palates. I have been to this particular restaurant a couple of times. The food is good, the ambience is nice and the service is OK. But I confess that I’m one who believes that for Nkwobi stay with Mama Ogedi, and for soul-lifting Amala, salvation is only to be found at a buka. I’m a relic, yea, but we were never intended to eat cow leg with a fork and knife. That’s why God gave us fingers. Ten of them.

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4G LTE is great. Sustainable differentiation is better.

So, I was reading the papers the other day, and walla, Glo has launched a 4G LTE service (wait, didn’t they launch that stuff in 2011?). I thought that was really great because mobile internet speed in Nigeria waver between ‘damn-it!’ and ‘you-gotta-be-kidding-me!’ So, clearly there is a consumer need there. Any network that meets this need can dip its hands into my pocket.

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You get the talent you deserve.

A couple of days ago, I got a call from a recruiter. There was a supposed ‘senior’ role in her company they wanted to fill and my name came up.

Well, it was pleasing that my name came up in respect to something other than bills, allowances and pocket money. I’d always believed that the only people who thought about me were my wife and creditors. These days I can’t tell the difference between the two.

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The story of Mr Thimble. Beauty and pitfall of brand and line extensions. 

In all of the land of Vuka, there was no better bespoke tailor than Mr Thimble. He catered only to men and his apparels flattered the appearance of all, tall or stout, portly or willowy. The rich and greying, the nouveau riche and debonair, all journey from as far as the Far Kingdom to Vuka to be measured and fitted in Mr Thimble’s exceptional tailoring.  At the annual Vuka Governor’s Ball, it was not uncommon to find the majority of the guests accoutred in the fine raiments of Mr Thimble.

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