Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Peckham murder blues, avoiding jangrover rides, Costa Book awards & EFCC wahala

I moved to the UK not long after the tragic death of Damilola Taylor which had captured the attention of the Nigerian media. I remember a few friends asking me if I was really sure I wanted to move to a country where such a tragedy could occur. Of course the irony of their well-meaning questions, I mean it wasn't as if Nigeria was the safest place in the world, was lost on us. In any case Peckham loomed large in the Nigerian consciousness. Sadly it seems as if this is set to be revived with the murder of a teenager born to Nigerian parents in his bedroom in Peckham less than a kilometre from where Damilola died. It's believed that he was the victim of mistaken identity- everyone says he was a quiet regular churchgoing member of the Celestial Church of Christ in Peckham. Peckham of course is arguably the heart of the Nigerian community in London. On the radio this morning, somewhat predictably the usual suspects are rolled out to explain why this is happening- this was the third murder in a week in the area. Whatever the reasons are I personally find it sad when an immigrant dies in a tragedy like this. I don't for a minute suggest that other lives are worth less, but there is something about travelling so far and enduring so much that makes it that bit more tragic for me...

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with friends just before Christmas. We were walking through Leicester Square where the usual Christmas fairground had been set up - the rollercoaster rides, the contraptions that throw you right up in the air and then swoop down again and so on. So this friend visiting from Nigeria tries to persuade us to go up on the scariest of the rides with him. Another friend who lives here declined asking him "If anything happens to me up there what will I tell the people in my village? That after all the sacrifices and struggles, I threw it all away on some cheap fairground ride? Let the native English people seek all the thrills they want, me o, I am on a mission here...I no come London come begin climb jangrover..." (By the way where does that word Jangrover come from? Did I spell it right?)

I've finally finished Helon Habila's Measuring Time. He's a great writer- his prose is dreamlike, engaging and thoughtful. He paints a vivid picture of life in rural northern Nigeria and reminded me of my youth service days there. And Mamo, the main character who loves history and writing and books struck a deep chord. Yet,there was something about the storyline that I struggled with. I can't really put my finger on it, but while I enjoyed reading it, it didn't quite hold me as captive as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I think it's a good book with great language and ideas and I'd recommend it...

I'll be starting A M Homes This Book Will Save Your Life tonight. It's also on the Richard and Judy selection for this year.

Meanwhile the winner of the Costa Prize (formerly known as the Whitbread) which is awarded to books by writers based in the United Kingdom will be awarded tonight. The shortlist in the various categories are here http://www.costabookawards.com/awards/shortlist.aspx and the winners in the various categories are here http://www.costabookawards.com/awards/category_winners.aspx I haven't read any of the winners, although William Boyd's Restless has been on my to read list. Even on the shortlist, the only one I'd read was Cloth Girl by Marilyn Heward Mills which is set in colonial Ghana. I quite enjoyed it. And so the to-read list grows...

Meanwhile back home in Nigeria, the EFCC has apparently written to all the political parties with a list of 130 candidates for the upcoming elections who are considered unfit to hold office because of alleged corrupt practices. Topping the list unsurprisingly are three of Obasanjo's fiercest bete noires - Atiku, Tinubu and Orji Kalu. I understand that Nuhu Ribadu, the EFCC boss is a lawyer, why then does he on the basis of allegations write such a letter? What if the allegations are in the end unproven? Again, Nigeria takes something that on the surface sounds laudable and twists it, thereby undermining the whole process....Na real wa! I hadn't even realized that Bola Tinubu was planning to go to the Senate- what is it about power in Nigeria that makes people unable to let go. Why can people not simply say "E do. I don try, make anoda person try? " I guess the answer is patronage - politics is the only business in town. I tire.

Meanwhile I stumbled across this blog by a new father in London and it turns out he's Nigerian (sort of)
http://firsttimefather.typepad.com/the_first_time_father/2006/10/week_32_and_you.html

I also stumbled across...this http://anijawife.blogspot.com/ I couldn't believe the post about her husband denying her sex for four months in order to "punish" her - this is in 2007, and this is an investment banker? Jeremy, Ore, Everchange and all the Naija feminists you have your work cut out o!

18 comments:

londonnaijachic said...

OK! am first!!!
Its so unfortunate about the life lost yet again.Not only one sef, three lives in that area.I thought peckham was actually getting better cuz a lot of refurbishments were being done but i don't think anything is being done to tackle the youths who roam about causing trouble.God help us all!And JANGROVA,Lol! cant remember the last time i heard that word.

Pilgrimage to Self said...

Chei, ma broda you dey read book oh!! Anyway, read now becos when wife and pikin land those days of reading go be like distant memory. :-D

You have me sitting on the fence with Helon's book now...

Chxta said...

It is jangolova...

Anonymous said...

Ha! That nijawife's blog is something. 4 months?? Mmm... I like her intro sha.. She is very right.

"Women in Africa are made to understand that they are incomplete without marriage and kids but whether they are happy or not, the society does not care but to continue to smile and suffer".

Yesterday, I was minding my own business when a married lady asked me if I'm praying seriously about marriage as if I have a confirmed problem. Were it not for civility, I would have said some things but no need... She will never understand why at my age, I will still be sitting down considering yes or no to a marriage proposal. As far as she is concerned, the only reason why I'm not married is because there is no man. Maybe she should come and read the nijawife blog. I agree I shouldn't be too cynical but it unfortunate that life's experiences shapes some of our beliefs...

uknaija said...

@londonnaijachick- That's what everyone was saying- I guess regeneration is more than fine fine buildings
@pts- who tell you say dey neva land. Go buy Helon's book
@chxta- I beg to disagree- na jangrova we dey call am
@anonymous- That is so true- they will harass you into getting married and will also be the first to carry the gossip when the marriage runs into problems. I really felt for nijawife reading her blog

Uzo said...

I love this blog. You are an avid reader too? Very nice.

Calabar Gal said...

Its so sad about Dosunmu's death. The news today is that his case is one of mistaken identity. How sad!!!

LOL at ur friend not coming to london to climb jangrover. Me I dey find jangrover to climb sef!! Its all part of the fun. Abeg tell ur friend to cool down for jesus. (smile)

9ja Opeke said...

It still beats me (the word"Jangrover")...Imagine it is your whole mouth that you will use to even call the word. Well, thanks for sharing what you stumbled upon...

firsttimefather said...

Hi,

Thanks for the recognition in your blog. And for inducing my latest crisis of confidence ('sort of Nigerian, etc)

No harm done :-)

I'll tell you the problem with Helon Habila's book. He's writing (or trying to write), and a very limited audience at that; that literary set over here in England for a predetermined audience. It is full of flowery, evocative language that actually doesn't go anywhere or do anything. The book is full of good intentions, but has no heart, no passion, no conviction. Personally, I think it was badly edited, but I may be wrong. (I would hope that I am wrong - Simon Prosser, his editor, is the wunderkid editor at Penguin - Zadie Smith etc)

Love your blog, by the way. I've been lurking around for about a year, but never quite plucked up the courage to post a comment.

firsttimefather

Waffarian said...

Okay, my dear people, as the one and only official waffarian, I have to put the record straight. The word, as chxta corrected, is "jangolova". My theory, considering the phonetics of pidgin english, might come from the the action to "jingle all over". Ehhhhhhhhhhn, na my own theory be that! I challenge una to come up with another explanation.
As for nijawife........men,I don't know where to start.....it is too much.

Patrice said...

I will challenge waffarian's etymology for "jangolova" with "jangle lover". The jangle refers to the sound your change makes in your pocket when on a ride.

Talatu-Carmen said...

Just finished Measuring Time. I quite liked it. It's quieter and less flashy than Waiting for an Angel, but it's just as deep... i think. i can also see what you and firstimefather are saying about it. I'll mull over it for a while before writing it up... But i can see so many continuations of what he was doing in Waiting for an Angel (i'm writing my never-ending thesis on that), that I find it exciting.

uknaija said...

@Uzo- thanks. Love yours too (blog I mean:-)
@Calabar Gal LOL at "Cool down for Jesus"- who else but a fellow Nigerian can understand and appreciate that phrase
@9jaopeke- you're welcome
@firsttimefather- Thanks for your Helon analysis. I didn't mean to challenge your identity but when I stumbled across your blog there was nothing in it to indicate where you were from and then I saw the post about identity and there you still didn't wholly plump for the Naija label, so I simply followed your lead...
@waffarian and patrice- I remember in primary school, there was a metal contraption in our playground called a "jungle gin" (at least that's what it sounded like to my six year old ears). Many years later I came across the term- jungle gym- in an American book- do you think that's where jangolova or jangrova may have come from?
@talatu-carmen Yaya dai? Looking for your academic take on Measuring Time :-)

Wordsbody said...

You say the Naija 'feminists' have their work cut out with 'Nijawife's post.

Before getting to the subject of her post (and I have not gone on the blog), I can't get past the fact that someone needs to define themselves by the fact that they are a 'wife' - as if it were an accolade.

Society may have its expectations, but it's up to every Nigerian woman to resist the urge to perpetuate such back-leaning posturing.

It's great if you are married, and it's great if you are not. Either way, it's no big deal.

I'm reading 'Measuring Time' presently, as it happens.

Waffarian said...

Ah ah!Patrice, so fear no catch you, you wan challenge, let me break it down. First of all which naija pikin dey carry "change" for im pocket for jangolova? dat ya theory no fit pass!if na the sound, that one dey worst, dem no for no say coins dey "jangle or jingle" dem for call dat sound "krikri"!
uknaija, I take God beg you, if na from "jungle gym" as you talk, na there e for end, dat word no too hard.
Jangolova certainly comes from a sentence or phrase wey take style twist people tongue!

TRAE said...

i'm with Waffarian, the origin certainly relates to "jingle all over". wish i could do the book thing as religiously as you. but i ain't one for buying books on the regular...a library would have eased my situation.

uknaija said...

@wordsbody- good to see you here. There are quite a few blogs where people define themselves that way- free world "innit"?
@Waffarian and trae- I bow o

uknaija said...

@trae- if you're still in Abuja- try the British Council Library- it saved my life :-)