JS3 and SS3 were exam classes so if you were in either of those years, school holidays were non-existent. I don’t know what Jesus said to my mum but when I tried my luck and asked if I could be a day student during JS3 extension, she said yes! My mother, the chairman of the pro boarding association, said yes! It was a miracle. Every morning, I would take a cooler of food for my boarder pals (I gatchu girls!) and take a spare empty cooler for myself. I’d pick up my friend Toni, who lived round the corner from me, and we’d swing by Ghana High or Mama Rita on our way to school.

Directions. You are welcome.

Directions. You are welcome.


Ghana High was THE BUSINESS! Their jollof rice, ewa agoyin and fried stew were out of this world. One morning we got there and they hadn’t opened so the driver (my mum’s office was in the area so he knew all the hot spots) suggested we try Mama Rita whose shop was right across the street from Ghana High. See discovery! It was thanks to Mama Rita that I fell in love with rice and stew. Some days we’d be so torn as to whom to patronise that we’d end up buying food from both places. Lord, take me back!

…End digression.

One day during a free period, a bunch of my friends and I went to hang out in the class directly below mine (JS2T). We were gisting and fooling around when someone brought out a banger and match box. Why she brought that stuff to school, I will never know. We started daring each other to light the banger. We passed it round and each person would pretend to ignite it and we’d burst into fits of laughter.

When it was yours truly’s turn, I lightly struck the banger against the match box, thinking it wouldn’t ignite. That was how I found myself holding a lit banger in my hand. In hindsight, I should have just thrown it on the ground and stamped it out but since when have panic and logic been friends? Not knowing what else to do, I flung it out of the window so it wouldn’t go off in my hand and blow my fingers into oblivion.

As you can imagine, the explosion brought staff and students flying out from every nook and cranny and my friends and I fled the crime scene as fast as our legs could carry us. The noise very obviously came from the junior block and some people who had been standing by the phone booth in junior block, spotted people running out of JS2T so it was only a matter of time before all JS2 girls were summoned to kneel on the gravel.

“Who threw the banger?”

It was one thing to get in trouble with seniors but when teachers got involved, it was a whole other ball game. I wasn’t too bothered though. They could very easily suspend one person but there was no way they would suspend the entire year group, not when we had exams coming up; we had a position on the academic league table to maintain. Worst case scenario, we’d probably have to kneel for a while so I figured my year girls could take one for the team. Apparently not. #alakoba

Shouts of “If it was you just confess o!” started circulating but I stayed silent. Seriously, what’s a little kneeling between friends eh?! :-) My dear BFF as usual had entered into a state of panic. Honestly girl, you owe me your liver!!! :-)

My friends and I were kneeling in silence when a voice interrupted our peace.

“Are you Waila?”

I looked up to find one of the deputy head girl staring at me.

“Yes, I am.”

“Follow me.”

At this point, I knew that someone had casted me. As I walked with her towards the gathering of teachers that had amassed by the junior phone booth, she turned round and said, “It was you, wasn’t it?”

I had two options;

  1. Lie and compound my predicament
  2. Accept my fate

I weighed up my options and decided to accept my fate. I was enjoying being a temporary day student and figured worst case, I’d be suspended and be a day student for a bit longer…which was very alright by me. Ironically, I was terrified of fireworks so I knew that if the news reached my mother, she would at least know it wasn’t deliberate. It wouldn’t have saved me from a sound brushing but at least she wouldn’t have bought the idea that I had deliberately tried to wreak havoc.

Thankfully, the teachers who had gathered to behold the culprit were Z listers. There was only one A lister in their midst; an English teacher whose daughter might be reading this. Hi Aisha! J

Mrs Lawal was once my English teacher and I was not her favourite person. I was generally unloved by my teachers because I rarely paid attention in classes but still did well academically which really pissed them off! We had locked horns many times before so the woman hated my guts and thought the absolute worst of me.

“You! I knew it, I am not surprised! If you are not there, who will be there?!”

After telling all the teachers what a terrible child I was, she sent me to kneel in front of English room to wait for her. Thankfully, the day was almost over so I knew the driver would soon arrive to whisk me to safety.

As soon as I got word that the driver had arrived, I dusted off my knees, grabbed my bag and sprinted to the car. Between NEPA, traffic, armed robbers, mosquitos, NITEL, dodgy mechanics and all the other problems that plagued Nigerians then, I figured I’d be the least of her problems. But just in case, I offered up a prayer for God to wipe out her memory.

It must have worked because she never came looking for me. #thankyoujesus

Once Upon a Boarder: 8 Signs You Were a Bubbler

Disclaimer: Please locate your sense of humour before you read this post! :-)

Being a bubbler was not a joking matter. EVERYONE wanted to be a bubbler. Those that hated bubblers, hated them because they wanted to be them. Really, have you ever met a child that doesn’t want to be one of the cool kids?!

There were a few ways to gain bubbler status in QC.

A few people had a natural swag that certified them as bubblers without any effort on their part. Those ones were called “bubblers by nature” aka BBN.

Then you had those ones that did everything humanly and supernaturally possible to receive the seal of approval. Those ones were called “bubblers by force” aka BBF.

There were also some people who met all the criteria but just did not have the personality required for bubbling. Those ones were on the border; not quite in but not quite relegated.

The vast majority of bubblers however, had a combination of the bubbler personality and most of the criteria listed below.

If you are feeling brave, feel free to take the bubbler quiz and see if you qualified!

  1. Did You Wear Pop Socks?

pop socksIt was not possible to be a bubbler without owning pop socks. Like seriously, were you kidding with your cotton socks?! There was also a clear difference between the janded pop socks and pop socks from Balogun market so don’t think you were fooling anyone.

It was one thing to own pop socks but did you roll them all the way up or fold them down?  If you folded them down, gerrarahere shawty and take a seat in the non-bubbling zone.

  1. Was your School Bag a Satchel?

satchelBackpack gang, please tell me, were you going off to climb Kilimanjaro?! If you did not have a satchel that you slung across your body, tell me what you are looking for here?

  1. Did You Have Fancy Folders and Refill Paper?

Refill paper was the most useless thing in the world…but you needed to have it. There was no argument paperthat notebooks were the sensible place to store your notes and you needed to have those but really, no fancy folder and refill paper? Your life was not complete.

  1. Did Your School Shoes Have Heels?

mocksNow this one is important, very important. If you had mocks with heels, come in and take your rightful place. If you had mocks without heels, enter but don’t feel too comfortable. If you owned any shoe that has not been mentioned here, don’t bother knocking, respect yourself and leave this place. But wait o, if you had the audacity to wear wannabe mocks, kneel down, raise up your hands and close your eyes…shior!

  1. Did you know KC Boys?

kcIf you did not know KC boys, really, what are you looking for here? I didn’t say A-Hall boys o, KC boys because they were allegedly the baddest boys in town. If you knew A-Hall  AND KC boys you can stand up but A-Hall without KC? I beg have several seats.  Your aje butter is too much.

  1. Did You Attend Parties with Names?

First of all did you attend parties? Not the types with bouncy castles and Uncle E o. If they didn’t do “all boys out” at you parties and there were no obtainers collecting shoes and shirts from awon boys, shift to the side.

Then did you parties have names? Certified? Let’s Play House? House Party? No? It was fellowship you were going to, not party. The lord be with you as you leave this place.

  1. Did You Jand in the Summer Holidays?

Wait first, did you have a passport? Because if you didn’t, I don’t care if you have pop socks or not, you had no business attempting to bubble. Any bubbler worth their salt janded during the summer holidays. If you janded every other year, we will give you pardon, but any less frequently than that and you are a joker… gerrarahere mate!

  1. Did You Date a Lag Club Boy?

Knowing KC boys was one thing but dating a Lag Club boy? Give us a minute while we all rise and clap for you. With your A-line skirt and beret, you managed to conquer the most coveted boys in Yaba. I beg open your mouth and chop knuckle.

If you scored 6 out of 8, well done, you were a bubbler. Any less than that and please, don’t disgrace yourself; just pretend you didn’t take the test and when your friend tells you about it, roll your eyes and say, “I beg, I beg, , I have better things to do!”



Once Upon a Boarder: Arrange Those Chairs


JS2 was a fun year. Not only did my BFF become a boarder AND get posted to my dorm, her older sister who was in SS3 was also in our dorm #residentvoltron. I tell you, “Yea though we walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we feared no evil!” There was no trouble we found ourselves in that she didn’t rescue us from…and the troubles were many.

One Saturday evening after dinner, the furniture prefect summoned all JS2 girls to the assembly hall to arrange the chairs for the church services the following day. JS2 girls were responsible for assembly hall work. It was also inter-house sports season so marchers were marching day and night on the stretch of road that connected the school gates. It was dark and no one was interested in going to arrange chairs. Heck, couldn’t people just grab a chair off a pile and sit down?!

There was no night prep on Saturday nights so unless there was some sort of social or you were avoiding seniors, people tended to hang out in the boarding house area.  As a mass of us grudgingly crossed over to the assembly hall, some of us got side tracked by the marchers marching. For those of you that know, QC marching was so cool…at least we thought it was! Ha!

“Left, right, raise and stamp, raise and stamp!”

Instead of carrying on to assembly hall like we had been instructed to, we stood by the road watching Obasa marchers practice. The senior in charge of the marchers was not pleased to see us.

“Junior girls, leave this place.”

We shuffled a few centimetres and stayed put.

“Junior girls, I said leave this place!”

Again we shuffled a few centimetres and stayed put.

“All of you standing there, kneel down.”

Not good. Not only had we gotten into trouble with this senior, if the furniture prefect found us there, we’d be minced meat.

For those of us with liver, there was only one thing to do…RUN! As we made to kneel down, I whispered to my BFF, “run!” As if on cue, a number of us took to our heels and sprinted all the way to assembly hall, sharply blending in with those already there.

It didn’t take long for the senior to come looking for us. Lucky for us, it was dark so she couldn’t identify us.

“If you were just watching the Obasa marchers, come out.”


A few people fessed up but I refused. I had no desire to serve punishment that night. My darling BFF, who I have had to borrow liver several times in the course of our friendship, began to tremble next to me.

“Should we just go out? What if she catches us?”

I eyed her in response.

Satisfied that she had enough scapegoats, the senior left with the fallen soldiers.

The furniture prefect, apparently fed up with having to chase us around every Saturday night, decided to punish the entire year group. After arranging the furniture, we were all summoned to quadrangle to kneel down. The hustle for the concrete was real! Quadrangle was a large square divided into quarters by stretches of concrete. If you weren’t kneeling on the concrete, you were kneeling on wet (think scrubbing water) sand/grass and whatever crap people had chucked over the balconies that day.

My BFF and I swung by our dorm to drop off our stuff before heading for quadrangle. As we were about to head back out, her sister asked us where we were going.

“We are going to quadrangle. Senior Safia punished all JS2 girls.”

“Go and sit down jo. If she asks you why you weren’t there, tell her you were with me.”

And that ladies and gentlemen, was how we escaped that punishment. #thanksbetogod

Once Upon a Boarder: School Mother Drama

NOTE: All people will remain nameless, especially as Senior Little is something of a local celebrity these days. I don’t need her fan club sending me death threats! :-)

School daughters were all the rage when I was in JS1 and it was something of a privilege to be selected because only cute girls, aje butter girls or girls with boyfriend material older brothers, got mothered. Unfair? I did say QC was a baptism in life lessons. :-)

Personally, I didn’t care to be mothered by anyone.  I didn’t need some agbaya eating my provisions and parading me like a show horse, in exchange for protection.  I had a cousin who was in SS3 at the time and she did a fine job of looking out for me…without guzzling down my Rice Krispies and Peak milk.

One evening during night prep, two SS3 girls walked into my class. One was tall and skinny, and the other, short and child-like in appearance. But for the prefect badge she wore, I would have mistaken her for a junior. Looking around, they decided that my class was the perfect place to prep so they settled in for the night.

A little while later a voice rang through the classroom;

Emotan girl, what’s your name?”

It was the tall skinny one. I wasn’t sure who she was talking to so I remained silent.

Emotan girl, are you deaf, I said, what’s your name?”

I looked around at the multitude of Emotan girls in the class. How on earth were we supposed to know who she was talking to?! She pointed at me and I realised I was the chosen one.

“Come here.”

She asked me a series of personal question; which primary school I came from, where I lived, where I spent my summer holiday (yes, best believe it!), if I had siblings. Interrogation over, she pointed at her little prefect friend next to her and said, “This is Senior Little. From now on, she is your school mother.”

And that was how, without consultation, campaign or any characteristic of democracy, I landed myself a school mother….and I wasn’t a happy bunny. I could see her being ground to dust by her hefty colleagues; how did she intend to protect me?!

I was the worst school daughter in the history of school daughters. I never visited her, asked for her help or paid any special attention to her; besides saying hello when I saw her of course. She was nice enough and under different circumstances, we could have been friends, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that I had been bullied into having a school mother.

My lack of school daughter etiquette did not go down well and soon enough Senior Little decided to teach me a lesson. One day I received a summons to her dorm. I arrived there to find her and her side kick waiting for me.

“Kneel down and fly your arms.”

After about 10mins, I decided to enquire as to what sin I had committed.

“Please Senior Little, what did I do?”

You have to forgive me, I was still a rookie. Evidently, I had not yet learnt to only speak when spoken to.

“Are you mad? You have the audacity to ask me stupid questions! You must be crazy. In fact, get up from there and hang on that bunk!”

Huh? Hang what where?!

Seeing the look of confusion on my face, she called one of the juniors in her dorm to demonstrate my new punishment. When I saw what I was expected to do, I wished I could reverse time and keep my big mouth shut!!! I really don’t know who came up with that punishment but they must have been closely related to the devil.

spiralbunkThat was how I found myself suspended from a bunk bed, sweat oozing out of just about every pore on my body. I had been hanging for about 15minutes when I heard heavy footsteps thundering down the corridor. Suddenly the door to the dorm swung open and in marched my cousin. Later on I found out that one of the seniors in Senior Little’s dorm was friends with my cousin and on seeing my predicament, sent word to my saviour.

“What is the meaning of this rubbish?! Waila, GET DOWN FROM THAT BUNK NOW!!!”

I didn’t need telling twice. I jumped down so fast, I lost my footing and landed on my backside.

I had suspected that Senior Little’s powers of protection were non-existent and I was right. I watched in utter glee as my cousin proceeded to verbally pound her and her lanky sidekick to dust. Satisfied that her threats of bodily harm had been understood, my hero grabbed me by the arm and marched me away to victory.

And that was how I once again became school motherless.

Senior Little and her friend still prepped in my class so I had to make sure I was always on my best behaviour. I would sit quietly and stick my nose in my books, knowing that if I as much as sneezed, I’d be dead meat.

Maybe that was why I did so well academically in JSS1.

Let Courage Speak


On Thursday mornings, the wind of excitement that got caught in his Agbada and swept out of our house whenever he left, returned to lie in wait, ready to welcome him when he breezed in without fail come the evening.

When I was younger, I looked forward to Thursdays. It was the one day in the week when she woke up on the right side of her bed, the one day I didn’t get beaten for existing. She would sing loudly, out of tune, as she made breakfast, and pepper my face with kisses when she dropped me off at school. Wisdom taught me to save any requests I had till then because joy turned her into Santa, doling out gifts and granting wishes like it was Christmas. As I grew older and began to understand it for what it was, Thursdays became the worst day of my life. It was the day my mother dolled herself up and allowed that man treat her like a prostitute.

I would come home from school to find him dressed in his white vest and briefs, sitting in front of the TV watching CNN, a tray of eba and ilasepo balancing on his thighs.

Omo mi, my daughter! Come, come and greet your daddy!”

I hated it when he called me that. Technically, I was just a girl he saw for a few minutes on a Thursday evening before he dragged my mother off to her room to earn her keep.  I never debated the point though, after all, it was his money that kept a roof over our heads and food on our table. I would shuffle over to his side and pause as I reached him, unsure of what greeting him entailed that day. Some days, he would draw me onto his laps and wrap his arms around me in a cassava infested hug. Other days, he would gently push me to my knees saying, “In our culture, we kneel to greet our elders. Your omo igbo of a mother is teaching you her nna ways!”

I hated the way he breezed in and out of our lives, an unsettling wind knocking over everything in its way and leaving pandemonium in its wake. She would be angry and irritable the second he left and a cloud of danger would hover over my head, raining down drops of hell. In that state she was quick with her hands so I learnt to disappear, donning my cloak of invisibility.

I hated that the whole world knew I was his bastard child. I hated that even though he provided for me financially and deemed me fit to adopt his name, not once in my 18 years had he acknowledged me publicly. According to his company website and all his media profiles, “Chief Cadrew is blessed with a lovely wife; his childhood sweetheart, and four beautiful sons.”

The devil must have taken her sanity captive when she insisted I attend the same high school as my half siblings. The one time I tried to explain to her how it felt to walk past my brothers in the corridors at school and have them look through me like I didn’t exist, she beat me so badly I couldn’t sit for a week. Her beatings I had learnt to live with but I couldn’t live with my brothers’ indifference. I wasn’t even worth hating; I was nothing to them.  The whole school knew we were related but no one talked about it. They had parents who loved them and friends that idolized them but I, little miss bastard child, had no one. None of the kids at school would talk to me and I didn’t know why till one girl decided to inform me that they were all afraid my mother would decide to target their fathers.

Couldn’t she try and understand how it felt to see my father come to my school on parents day and not as much as glance in my direction? The same man who called me “omo mi” every Thursday. I would watch them from a distance; him and his wife. I could never get over how beautiful she was. She looked so regal, spoke so eloquently. And when she smiled, her eyes sparkled like the diamonds on her fingers. I could see why he wouldn’t even consider trading her in. Pretty though my mother was, she was in a class a lot more ordinary.

I hated that she thought the life she was living was good enough for me.

“My dear you don’t need an education to survive. What you need is a good man that will look after you and provide for the children he will give you.”

I wanted to go to University, to make something of my life, but she wouldn’t hear of it. I should have known better, shouldn’t have dared to dream. What else did I expect from a woman who had earned every kobo in her bank account by lying on her back?

I hated that she had turned me into a show horse, parading me before rich old men, like a lot at auction.

“Someone is coming to see you today so you had better wear a nice dress and put on some makeup,” she would say, her eyes twinkling with excitement.

I was her retirement plan, her pension fund.  As much as I hated her, I hated myself even more for not having the courage to stand up to her and demand better, fight for better. Every night, I cried myself to sleep knowing it was only a matter of time before I caught some slobbering old man’s eye.

I rehearsed my speech; planned the words I would use to express the pain I had endured over the years, the shame I felt at the circumstances of my birth, the life I envisioned, the dreams I longed to achieve.

But every time my feet found the boldness to walk up to her, my mouth couldn’t find the courage to speak.

Once Upon a Boarder: The Beginning

QC GirlI vividly remember my first day in Secondary School. I woke up that Sunday morning with a spring in my step. I was finally going off to boarding school and not just any school, the famous Queen’s College aka QC! Every single item (useful and useless) on my check-list had been bought. Between my mother and myself, we knew that I didn’t need 12 dozen name tags or 10 dozen handkerchiefs…but if the school said I needed it, so be it!

I walked through the gates of Queen’s college in my oversize Sunday wear, dragging my matching suitcases behind me. I had bought the cases while on holiday that summer and refused to tear the protective covers off until that morning; I needed everything to be brand spanking new. The confidence with which I approached the check-in desk was impressive. I refused to let my mother speak on my behalf, determined to handle the process like a big girl. I banished her to a corner while I sorted out the formalities. I didn’t want her escorting me to my dorm room either but she insisted so I grudgingly let her. The corridors were filled with the sounds of JSS1 girls bawling as their parents left but no, not me. I all but shoved mine out of the door so I could explore my new found independence in peace!

The reality of my situation didn’t dawn on me until I woke up at 1am the following morning needing to pee. There was no light (power cut) and the silence that engulfed the boarding house area was deafening. All the stories I had heard about witches, wizards and some female spirit that wore stilettos (madam koikoi), visiting students in the middle of the night, came flooding in. For the first time I wondered why the hell I was not in my mother’s house where her fervent prayers were sure to keep demonic forces at bay. I didn’t want to be the newbie that wet her bed though so I grabbed my Rosary, flicked on my torchlight and sprinted to the toilet. I have never peed so fast in all my life. I raced back to my dorm and buried myself under my bedspread in record time. Clutching my Rosary, I chanted Hail Mary’s until God had mercy on me and put me to sleep. That was how I survived my first night.

My first shock came when I was woken up a couple of hours later to have a shower. I stared at the well-meaning junior dorm captain (JDC) like she had lost her mind.

“But it’s 3am!”

She patiently explained to me that junior girls didn’t dare venture near the bathrooms after 5am, especially not a fresher like me. Earlier was better if I intended to attend my first day of classes smelling fresh.  And that was how I found myself having a shower at roughly 3.30am. In the coming days I discovered that that shower had been a welcome present from the gods; for it was one of the only times that year, water flowed in the bathrooms!

If you went to boarding school in Nigeria, you will know there is a hierarchy and JSS1 girls are at the bottom of the food chain. I didn’t know this till I had my first encounter with a senior the very next day. I was lying on my bed hatching my escape plan when my thoughts were rudely interrupted by a senior shouting my name.

At first I ignored her, I really wasn’t in the mood for conversation, but the third time she screamed my name, I sensed danger.  It was too early in the game for drama so I dragged myself out of bed.

“Take this bottle to slabs and fill it with water.”

It didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have the right to refuse, so refuse is what I did.

“Sorry but I’m not in the mood to go anywhere.”

I knew I had said the wrong thing when all the seniors in the vicinity, who had been lazing in bed half naked, sprang to attention.

Shouts of, “Ehn, junior girl what did you just say?!” filled the dorm and in hindsight, I would like to thank God for sparing my life that day, for only He can explain how I dodged a bruising!

The senior, under the influence of grace, sat me down and gave me the lowdown on how things worked. In this new order I found myself in, I was the equivalent of a slave, the property of my seniors. If I dared disobey them or be rude to them, they would send me to join my father in the afterlife.  Once she was satisfied that I understood my place, she thrust the bottle in my hand and ordered me to find my way to slabs. The JDC pulled me aside and kindly informed me that slabs were the rows of taps by the Sick Bay, where students fetched water.

And that was my first encounter with a senior. Much as I hated the fact that I was rudely ejected from my bed without a choice in the matter, I like to think I won that round. If she looked closely, she may have spotted traces of saliva floating through her bottle of water. Or maybe not.  After all, I did give it a good shake!

New Series: Once Upon a Boarder

Hi folks!

Guess who’s back, back again. Waila’s back, tell a friend! #hieminem

Yes, we’ve been here before but let’s not dwell on that.

It feels good to be writing again but I must admit I’m a bit rusty. I don’t remember it taking me this long to churn out a post. I guess that’s my punishment for neglecting the craft for so long.

I’d like to thank the Twitterati for shaming me out of hiding. I’d been meaning to snap out of the funk and resume blogging but when one of my old blog posts suddenly started making the rounds on Twitter, I logged into my blog and was shocked at how long it had been since I had last published a post. I honestly thought it had only been a couple of months. Somebody say deluded!

Well, I’m back with a brand new series!

QC LogoYou know I like to document my memories and what better memories to pen than those I amassed at Secondary School?! If like me you went to a government boarding school in Nigeria, you will know that it was a life changing experience. For those of you that don’t know, I am a QC girl…that’s Queen’s College to my non Nigerian readers. It was one the most popular schools in the country and while I will admit it was one of the better government schools, there was nothing posh about it. Really, nothing!

Lack of ‘poshness’ aside, I don’t regret my time there. It taught me so much about the world and life in general. I always say that QC was a pretty good replica of the real world. There aren’t many schools where you will find the daughter of a driver sat next to the daughter of a multimillionaire. We had students cutting across the tribal, class and financial divides and it really did give you a glimpse of real life.

Many of the relationships I made there are still going strong and while academically I didn’t learn a damn thing, I did learn how to pass exams, iron without an iron and rebel without appearing rebellious!

In this series, I will share some of my secondary school stories with you. Each story will be complete so there’ll be no waiting for part two. It will be interjected with other posts though so if you find that next week I write about something different, be not confused.

The first story will be up this week. I am not active on Twitter so it’s not the best place to look for me. If you subscribe to this blog, you will get an email alert when the post is published. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates!

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/waila.caan

Instagram: @wailacaan

Happy Wednesday!




19 Bush Street : Part 2 of 2

For eight years we pleaded with God to bless us with a child. I prayed fervently, cried diligently and fasted religiously, starving myself until my pot belly deflated, my cheeks became hollow and my collar bone threatened to break free.

“Eat my darling, please eat!” she would cry, fearing for my life. Eat? Was food going to improve the quality of my sperm?  How could I eat, knowing I was the reason we were childless? Every night we knelt to pray, I asked God to forgive me for not telling her the truth; for not telling my wife that my non-existent sperm count was the reason we were childless.

My fast was a signal to God; I needed Him to feel my desperation, needed Him to see how much I was willing to sacrifice if He would only make a real man out of me.

“It is God that gives children,” they said, but that was no encouragement to me. Had I done something wrong, something that deserved such a severe punishment? I gave to the poor, fed the hungry and looked after widows hoping that God would see what a good person I was and have mercy on me.  I clung to hope, to the belief that the God I believed in would end my misery.

And then one day, the very thing I had been praying for, we had been praying for, finally happened.

That day, the day she told me she was pregnant, everything changed. Hope turned to the darkest form of despair, sorrow to a blinding rage. I knew then that I had surely offended God. After everything I had done for him, given up for him, how could he sit back and let this happen to me?

I saw fear in her eyes as she stood before me, silently begging for my understanding.

Shame embraced me tightly as the reality sunk in; another man had given her what I couldn’t. A better man, a real man, had stepped in and excelled where I had failed so miserably.

Shame turned to anger and I struck her across the face; twice. She stood still, tacitly urging me to carry on if it would make me feel better. It didn’t but I slapped her a third time for good measure. Still she said nothing, gave no explanation and in that moment, I knew that she never would.

There was no miracle about her pregnancy; no divine intervention or immaculate conception. Someone had impregnated my wife and neither I nor God was responsible. I knew it, God knew it and she sure as hell knew it. For months I had been unable to handle matters in the bedroom. The pressure to father a child and the guilt of the secret I was carrying had taken its toll on my libido.

Anger coursed through my veins as I imagined another man flooding her womb.

Did she love him? Did he love her? Was it a one night stand or were emotions involved? Who was he; someone I knew or a stranger she just met? Did she even know or were there a number of potential candidates?

Months went by and the bigger her belly grew, the hotter my anger burned. I wanted to tell the world she was no better than a common prostitute, selling herself for the seed of a man. I wanted the world to hate her for betraying me in the worst possible way but to do that would be to admit that I, the same man who cruised the streets of Lagos in cars ten times the size of my flowing agbadas, could not impregnate his own wife.  So I smiled when people congratulated me and sang praises to God on my behalf. And the more I had to smile the more I loathed her for making a fool of me.

I gave him my name but even before he was born, I knew I could never love him. I watched him as he grew to see if he resembled anyone I knew but he was the spitting image of his mother. I saw how her eyes would light up when she looked at him and hated him with every fibre of my being. He was a constant reminder of my inadequacy as a man and yet I had to feed and clothe him and pretend he wasn’t some faceless man’s bastard son. I prayed she would go and take her trash with her, but I should have known better. If my prayers didn’t work when I was giving away my wealth and starving myself, it certainly wouldn’t work now that I was at war with God.

I pummelled her, hoping she would pack her bags and leave, but she didn’t. I beat the crap out of him hoping the so called love of a mother would compel her to whisk her bastard to safety, and still she stayed. No matter how mean I was, how monstrously I behaved, she wouldn’t leave me.

I knew what she wanted, what she craved more than anything, but over my dead body would I give it to her. She would have to turn to God to absolve her of her guilt because I would never forgive her for defiling our marriage, for taking what was left of my pride and burning it to ashes.

19 Bush Street : Part 1 of 2



His face was redder than I’d ever seen it, eyes bloodshot and spilling hot tears, scalding tracks along his cheeks. I’d see him cry many a time, usually in silence, but this, the state he was in, was new territory. I heard the cracks as his heart splintered, the sharp edges piercing his lungs, drawing blood and cutting off his air supply. I caught him in my arms as his knees gave way. It was then I felt the throbbing welts peppered across his back. Anger burned within me.

How could he do this to him?!

Yet I was powerless to act. I lowered myself to the ground, taking him down with me, gently rocking him as he cried out in agony, silence, no longer an option.

“It’s okay Baba, it’s okay,” I whispered over and over again as I continued to rock him in my arms.

“Why does he hate me so much, Tega?! What have I done to him?! I want to die Tega, I want to die! God please let me die, I am tired of living!”

I wanted to tell him everything would be alright but knew I’d be lying. If the things I had witnessed in the two weeks I had been living with them were anything to go by, it was only a matter of time before Baba’s wish would be granted.


I’d met Big Uncle once before I came to live with him; when he came to Warri for Papa’s funeral. He was the golden boy of the family, the only one for generations to break free from the clutches of poverty. His hands fed many mouths, mouths that multiplied as poverty continued to breed poverty. He was a demi god, the saviour of the family. When he mentioned in passing that he was in need of domestic help, Mama latched on to his words like a baby suckling its mother’s breast. She offered me up speedily, eager to please her saviour. With Papa gone, life was about to get even tougher for her. Being in our benefactor’s good books was of the utmost importance.

I was excited, eager to see Lagos, the land of opportunity and the birth place of Big Uncle’s fortunes. The schools they said, were better and to Mama’s horror, Big Uncle had agreed to fund my education when I cheekily asked. The only reason she didn’t beat me black and blue was because He seemed pleased with the idea. I would go to school during the day and cook and do chores at night. I had dreams of going to University and the thought that I could potentially be the second ever graduate in the family, a student of Unilag, made me giddy with excitement. My chest thrust itself outwards and I walked around the family compound like a peacock about to take flight.

The day I told Papa I wanted to go to University, he laughed so hard, Mama had to pat his back furiously to stop him from choking. To prove a point, I sat JAMB and passed with flying colours. Not that anyone cared. I wasn’t going anywhere when Mama needed a hand frying akara in the market. Yet, here I was, packing my meager belongings, getting ready to leave the smell of stale oil and soaking beans behind.

When I arrived at 19 Bush Street and realised I would have a bedroom all to myself, I danced in circles till I became unsteady. I would no longer have to share a room with all three of my siblings. After years of dodging my younger sister’s fists as her subconscious dealt blow after blow in the midnight hour, I would have a bed all to myself. A proper bed complete with a mattress and bed sheet! Collapsing on the bed, I stared at the ceiling in awe. A fan stared back at me. A fan, a ceiling fan in my bedroom?! Heaven was finally smiling down on me.

The first time I saw Big Uncle beat Baba, I knew for sure that heaven had tricked me. I had traded in a lesser form of hell for the ultimate damnation. I had seen many parents beat their children, received many beatings from Papa myself, but this beating, was like nothing I had seen before. He unbuckled his belt, backed him up against the wall and flogged him till he collapsed to the ground. But for the sound of the leather slapping against Baba’s skin, the room was silent.

The speed with which Big Uncle’s hand contracted and relaxed as he swung blow after blow, left me speechless. Tears pricked the backs of my eyelids but I didn’t think I had the right to indulge in tears. If Baba could lie in silence while Big Uncle beat him for dead, who was I to cry?!

I stood motionless till satisfied with his handiwork, Big Uncle left the room. A part of me feared the blood stained body lying still against the wall, was a corpse. Staring intently, I willed it to come alive. What would people say if they heard that a man had used his hands to kill his own son?!
And then I saw his chest heave. Tears of relief streamed down my face.

Everything would be alright.

Thou Shall Not Covet



Epistle begins.

My relationship with social media is a precarious one. Some days I love it and other times, I curse the person whose idea it was. More than once, I have considered shutting down all my social media accounts and obliterating myself from the internet. Well, I typically consider it for all of a nanosecond and then promptly cast down the evil thought. The only thing that stops me is my thirst for information and current affairs (also known as amebo); how else will the latest gist reach me?!

One of my principal gripes with social media is that is a well oiled envy breeding machine. Sometimes, it’s obvious. We see something someone has and instantly start plotting our ‘get it too’ strategy. Other times, it’s more subtle. All seems well until we wake up one day to find we are no longer satisfied with our lives. Other people are ‘doing big things’ while we stay drowning in the well of relative insignificance.

It is an accepted fact that people tend to portray the best of their lives on social media platforms. You post a selfie when you KNOW you’re looking hot but those pictures where you’re looking jacked up rarely surface. When you are in a relationship, we know about it because your poetic status and photo updates make the rest of us want to curl up in a ball and weep for love, but it is your silence that tells us when the relationship has ended. When you get a new job, we see the update on LinkedIn but we only know you were out of work when you post a new job update and we realise there’s a six month gap between when the last one ended and the new one began. We see the portraits of your feet on Instagram when you’re wearing Louboutin and Zanotti but the portraits of your Atmosphere and Store Twenty-One purchases never get their day in the spotlight.

I’m no wet blanket. I’m happy when good things happen to people and get ridiculously excited when I see people living out their dreams and succeeding too! I also have no issues with people owning luxury items. If you can afford them, knock yourself out! I mean, I’d quite like to play landlady to a Chanel Boy bag myself (hi Yoruba Boy!). This is just me pointing out to the people who haven’t figured it out yet or those who have perhaps, forgotten, that what you see of people’s lives via social media is;

  1. what they want you to see
  2. a miniscule glimpse of their bigger picture
  3. false advertising
  4. all of the above

Let’s consider the possibility that life IS going really well for them (they are happy, rich, successful, in love, famous and everything else you dream of and haven’t quite managed to become) because let’s face it, fortune shines blindingly over some of us mortals. Alongside that, let’s also consider the reality that success is more often than not, the result of the shedding of sweat and blood. Whose blood (their ancestors perhaps), is irrelevant. When we see the evidence of other’s success advertised via social media, it’s worth reminding ourselves that;

  1. It came at a price
  2. Your success has a price too
  3. No payment, no collection
  4. all of the above


I know we’re considering many possibilities here but let’s also consider the possibility that most of your dreams do not come true in your lifetime. This is a likely possibility…and no, I’m not cursing you! What happens then? Does your life become a den of depression, regret, envy and lust?

The ability to find contentment regardless of the hand fate deals us is necessary, mandatory, if you will. If we live life happy when things are going well and miserable otherwise, we will soon turn into self-induced manic depressives.

The moral of this epistle is simply this; be content with what you have and where you are. By all means, aspire for better but on your way there, make the most of the here and now. You cannot stop people from advertising the best of their lives on social media (and I advocate celebrating others’ successes) but you can control your long throat so please, do yourself a favour and rein it in before it stretches to the point of no return.

Epistle over.

Thanks and God bless.