Thursday, August 30, 2007

Travel notes, asking questions, the demise of NNPC and a legislative boob

Luxembourg was bland, sanitized, international, a bit like my experience of Geneva; bits of it, on the outskirts were surprisingly green forests, which came as a bit of a surprise as I had conjured a vision of the Grand Duchy as a pristine, modern,urban city-state.

Stuttgart, the bits that I saw were largely grim and industrial. My local colleagues had organized as a "treat", a tour of one of the local luxury car manufacturing plants. The hour passed pleasantly enough except for the irritating questions from one of our party who kept echoing the guide's words and asking questions that the guide had already answered in his spiel. Discussing this later with a colleague who admitted that she had been irritated too, she argued that our irritation was cultural. The offending tourist being American, she argued that we would have been more sympathetic and less irritated by the questions if we had been American too....I reflected on an earlier class years ago, taken with people from many different countries. We soon got used to the Americans asking questions a lot, not always timely or relevant, but it wasn't till later that an American friend explained that in some US universities, you get marks for participating in class hence the flurry of questions.... I didn't get to ask the question I had really wanted to ask which was whether the workmen who crafted the parts so lovingly ever got to own any of the models....looking at the staff car park, it did not appear that way...

Yaradua continues to chart his own course, setting up a panel to reform the electoral process and acknowledging that the April elections which brought him to power were riddled with irregularities. Today I see that he has announced plans to split up NNPC, the behemoth that has straddled the Nigerian petroleum sector for decades. I remember the lavish lifestyles of friends whose parents worked there and wonder if there will ever be a proper audit there.....It'll be interesting to see what the new structures will look like...

I was blasted back into blogging having been sent this quote relating to the "boobs" of the embattled Nigerian speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh who is accused of having awarded inflated contracts for the renovation of her residence and going to the US for a lavish 54th birthday party. A male legislator, purported to be her supporter is quoted as saying:

This woman told us, on the floor of the House, that she’s got two boobs. That the old can suck one while the new would suck one. Honestly speaking, we are sucking. We are enjoying the sucking. We are doing that right now. So, for anybody to say that there is an apathy or favoritism to either the new legislators or the returning legislators or those with cognate experience, honestly, it is unfortunate and it is uncalled for.

Such language! And from an "honourable" too......To read the whole interview, see here

I enjoyed Helen Oyeyemi's The Opposite House- it's an amazing book although I suspect that it may not appeal to the mass market. It is dreamlike and bold and tackles so many issues; from second generation immigrant children to the relationship between mothers and daughters, to faith and religion, all written in lucid languid prose that is infused with a wisdom and music and replete with historical references, subtly worked in. I think it is a very 21st century novel...



23 comments:

Omodudu said...

Sigh.. at the NNPC move...

Atutupoyoyo said...

Good to see you are having fun(?)

NNPC split comes at least a decade too late. I question the number of new arms but would like to see a clear manifesto for each one before commenting further.

Haven't read Oyeyemi's 'Opposite House' as I did not greatly enjoy 'Icarus girl'. Might add it to the list. Cheers

raven chukwu said...

Haven't read "The Icarus Girl" (which I guess is unforgivable) but I did get to hear Ms Oyeyemi read the first chapter of "The Opposite House" at the London Literature Festival. Definitely on my list of books to read.

Rather unfortunate that she keeps getting classed as a "Nigerian writer" and part of the the so-called Nigerian literary renaissance. She even complained about that herself - how the "African" label scares off much of the audience she's actually writing for.

UndaCovaSista said...

I have an American colleague and she used to do my head in with her constant perkiness, enthusiasm and opinions on everything. She grew on me eventually tho', and now she's leaving i'll actually miss her.

uknaija said...

@omodudu- as my English literature master used to say- "expatiate, please"
@atutupoyoyo- fun? indeed. I preferred Opposite House to Icarus Girl but if you like more traditional storytelling, it may not be your thing
@raven- Lucky you to hear from the horse's mouth- and please not that old chestnut about who or what is African or Nigerian. We will claim everyone we can whether they accept it or not. Besides I dare you to read Opposite House and not find the Naijaness lurking there...very cleverly disguised as Cubanness- which is part of what I applauud her for...and pray what audience is Ms Oyeyemi writing for? Did she say?
@undacovasista- I know

Chxta said...

Concerning Madame Etteh's case, for me it is a case of Thank God!

A few years ago, we'd never have heard a word of the whole brouhaha...

Raven Chukwu said...

"We will claim everyone we can whether they accept it or not."

LOL. That's certainly what we're doing because it seems that Ms. Oyeyemi is one of the unaccepting ones (describing the whole "labelling" situation as "exasperating"). At one point someone in the audience rose to ask a question and began "I address this to all the Nigerian writers on the podium - and you are all Nigerian because regardless of when you moved to the UK you still eat eba at home . . ." And you could see Oyeyemi shaking her head in disagreement.

Nigeria (its various myths and cultures) has obviously been a strong literary influence on her but my impression (from a distance, that is, having read none of her books) is that she looks on this from the outside. Closely connected but nonetheless removed.

Jaja said...

Your writing has that effect on me: relaxed and relaxing, like an old friend giving you correct gist about some long-ago people and place

Always with a littering of useful information

UndaCovaSista said...

@jaja - Get a room..........!

Snuffleupagus said...

Makes me think politics here aren't so bad after all...

Jaja said...

@Undacovasista: I should get a room for you and I?
Whatever for??

Let this my naivete not be my undoing...

TRAE said...

i'm not bothered about the language, the quote just amuses me,"...Honestly speaking, we are sucking. We are enjoying the sucking..."classit sh*t :)

Nyemoni said...

What utter rubbish! How do Boobs equate to this? I dont get the analogy...as for Yar'Adua's policies...let's just see..

Helen Oyeyemi? I never read the Icarus girl, so I'm still some steps beind, tell me how good was that book, do you know?

Jaja said...

About Patricia Ettah... What I find more interesting about it is the fact that its on national news and everyone is debating...

it may be that, slowly, our(Nigerian) civil society is changing..

This is me in my most optimistic!

catwalq said...

where r u?

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

He called her a boob? That's rude. She should slap him with her left boob and then right boob. lol!

Then, if it is 'determined' that etteh committed fraud, we can flog her or something.

I must sound crazy, haven't slept in days....

Waffarian said...

I find that statement truly disgusting. Why would anyone say such a thing? did he say it in vernacular?(is that the right term for speaking one's language in Nigeria?) I find it hard to believe that any educated person would say something like that.

As for that greedy woman, so much money, for a house and birthday party? What is wrong with these people? How the hell do they even think of such nonsense? I am amazed.

...toyintomato said...

..NNpc..= no comment
ehm..what are we suckin?? is the suckee enjoying the sucking, who is to tell the suckee how to measure the value of the boobs..haha
dont mind me
my own 2 cents

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

lmao@your irritation being cultural... DAMN Americans!!! lol.. its kinda true though about the university participation marks although i will say canadians are way less obnoxious about it... and the boob comment is very 'north carolina teen beauty queen'... what the hell?

great writeup uk... youre sha having fun with this your tripping... the rest of us are stuck breathing the same air... seeing the same people(some of whom have really bad breath... lol... ok so i'm talking about one person in particular but worreva)

UndaCovaSista said...

@jaja - pls ignore me o! I think i made that comment at 3am or some such ungodly hour. It's just that you sounded so much 'in love' with mr uknaija, the next logical step was.... oh forget it! Lol

Manda said...

lmao @ suckee n all! Naijas can humiliate folks wit their wrong use of words! see me see boobs trouble!

Bitchy said...

What was with that boob comment? I am very confused! Is that the trash they spout in the House of Reps?

pam said...

Boob sucking? WTF! I live in Naija.. how did I miss that?