i want my u’s arghhh

I thought about naming the post, “The Perils of Writing in American English”, but I think the above title, “i want my u’s arghhh” is very appropriate in showing the frustration that rises up in the situation I’m talking about. Let us just jump right in (like how Nigerian kids learn how to swim).

Because of years of mental torture and blackmail that Microsoft is the greatest thing ever, my default program to use when typing is Microsoft Word. And I’m not slamming Microsoft Word or Microsoft itself, it is quite useful. I still use it for homework and things that are on that level of seriousness. I don’t know why, but when I open a Microsoft Word document, I just assume that whatever the document is about, is important. So for less important things, I open those little text documents/notepads and they satisfy most of my typing needs.

My default language on Microsoft Word is English Language (United States). I really have no idea why. When I started on Microsoft Word I was just fascinated that there were so many different English languages. The only language I can speak is English. People always say it’s good to know multiple languages. There are 16 different English Languages on Microsoft Word. So to me, I can speak 16 different languages. But of all sixteen, I liked English Language (United States), because I liked United States. To me back then, there were only two options. Why would I pick English Language (Zimbabwe) or English Language (South Africa) when I could be English Language (United Kingdom) or English Language (United States). Now I wish I was English Language (Zimbabwe), just for the fun of it. But I’ve been with the US for many words of my typing life. And generally I have no problems with it. Except one.

This. labour

I went to a secondary school school that taught the British curriculum. So my English was styled after my colonial masters. I got used to it and I kind of liked it, much like the mirrors my ancestors liked back in the day. Now skip a few years, because of my Writing and Rhetoric classes, my adult self is at peace with English Language (United States). I’m going to college in the US, I should get used to writing in the format that will be expected of me. And I have accepted most of it. Except for taking my u’s away. What did ‘u’ ever do to anyone? Without the u, colors just don’t seem as colourful. Labor doesn’t come across as cumbersome. And I don’t feel the love/affection in favorite.

I’m imagining a meeting with all the badass American leaders back in the day. The discussion is centered (you see I’m even willing to compromise here) around how the Americans can distinguish their language from the British. Boos fill the room when someone says ‘the British’. So the mood is pretty hostile. Obviously the English language, which is completely full of contradictions, will be fixed. Surely. Someone brings up the issue of ‘teachers who taught’. “Shouldn’t preachers praught?” he declared. People began to mutter around the room, but soon it dies out. Not a big enough issue. Someone else brought up that fought is the past tense of fight, but lit is the past tense of light. More muttering. But once again, it dies out. Then someone says, “Why don’t we scrap the u’s from some words?” “Yeah!”, the people chorused. “We don’t need u’s in colour, or favourite, or labour.” “We’ll show those pretentious British people what a language really is.” And just like that, meeting adjourned.

In all seriousness, can someone help me out? Which oga at the top do I need to talk to? Please explain why the ‘u’s were cut out. I beg of you, America, reinstate the ‘u’, ‘u’ won’t regret it.

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Why I want to become president and write a book.

The first time I had the idea of writing a book, I was very small. Maybe about 8 years old. Or was it 10? I am really not sure at this moment in time but during that time period the books I was into were the autobiographies and biographies. And so reading all these biographies, I thought, I too would like a biography when I am rich and famous in the future. All the biographies I read were funny and quirky, so mine too would be funny and quirky. I had started putting away memories that would be very useful when it was time for writing. It was a very selective process. The memories had to reveal enough about me, without making the people that knew me personally judge me. Since I do not recall of the memories I selected, I assume nothing made the cut. My bubble was burst when I found out that not all these biographies were written by the people they were about. It made more sense, there was no way ALL these people were funny. But I still wanted to write my own autobiography, for the personal flavor that only I could give. But first I had to be rich and famous.

Now, I want to write an unorthodox, young adult book. Problem is, I don’t think I know how to write. Over the past week, I have read two exceptional pieces of writing [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/priscilla-takondwa-semphere/broken-english-mother-tongues_b_7698634.html and https://medium.com/matter/everything-is-yours-everything-is-not-yours-d6f66bd9c6f9 ]. Those are writers. I am a somebody the internet allowed to have a blog. There’s a difference. Also, I have crippling commitment issues. (To the friends I have told I do not have commitment issues, that’s in terms of relationships. I’m talking about writing here.) I have been unfaithful to the world of blogs. Before this blog, there was another. I didn’t even have the decency to call it off with the first before cheating with this one. Even this one I have neglected for months at a time over the past 1 and a half years it has been operational. Because of these commitment issues, and my inability to write, I am scared of writing a book. Which is sad because I really want to write one. Not a novella either, a hefty volume of pages that I can slam down on a table and say, yes, eja nla [big fish] has landed. The idea of taking a couple of Creative Writing classes at college has crossed my mind a few times. But those classes are usually for writers, and I’m not sure I qualify, because to pass those classes, usually some type of structure in writing is needed and I’m not a fan of leashes on literature. Besides, all the authors I’m beginning to really like don’t seem to follow any type of structure. I told a friend recently that these authors go to college to learn all the writing rules and then completely ignore them in whatever bestseller they decide to publish. So anyway, I want to write a book. An unorthodox, compelling story. Probably about a boy. Yes, that’s one detail I have. And I want this first book to be a success. Just one book, and I’ll just blow (blow means to become famous). [I also want to act in one major film and just blow so I can go for all the award shows for the rest of my life]. So wish me luck for whenever I decide to write this Nobel Literature Prize winning (or at least Caine Prize winning) book.

I also want to be president [or an technocrat]. Yes, I’m declaring for the elections a couple of decades early. When I was much younger, my older brother said he wanted to be president. I don’t know if he still wants to but it’ll be pretty awkward if we both declare for the 2039 elections. I have been playing with the idea of running for president over the last couple of months and I think it’s important I say it because now I have the internet to help keep me accountable in pursuing my dream. If I don’t become president, I don’t think I would go wrong in being an autocrat. The most important thing is creating change on a macro level. Which is pretty ironic because I don’t believe that the relying on the government is the best way for a country to develop. However, I do believe that there needs to be institutions in place for the private sector to truly make the nation grow, and those institutions aren’t set in Nigeria. Being an autocrat wouldn’t be bad either because I could help make decisions that would lead to the change I want to see.

Now that I know I want to run for presidency, I wish I have never watched Scandal. Now I know that there are so many intricacies involved. I can only speak English. What kind of Nigerian president can only speak the colonial language? Between you and me, I’m planning to learn my father’s language. Kalabari is spoken by a couple of thousands of people, so even if I am not fluent, I can say rubbish, no one will know. It’s like I have to re-identify myself as a South South boy. Even though my mother is Yoruba, I can’t choose that one, there are too many of them. Even the Twitter presidents are Yoruba, how will I distinguish myself? So I’m happy with my South South identity, already there’s a kind of mystery about the man from the small tribe. Besides, if I’m from a small tribe, those big big tribes, they can’t hate me. But the other thing that bothers me is the issue of marriage. It’s common knowledge that the spouse is almost as important as the candidate. Even though that may not be true right now in NIgeria (*cough* Patience), but in 2039? It’ll be important. Because I’m from a small tribe, I can’t go for the ‘tribal’ vote, what am I doing with 10,000 votes? When I’m not in KOWA or HOPE. I have to hook myself up with a wife from one of the big brother tribes. My vice president too has to be from one of those tribes. It’s too much. As someone that still doesn’t believe in relationships (of the romantic kind), thinking about marriage has got my head spinning. But it shall be well. Remember to vote for me in 2039.

Usually, I always apologize and promise to write more. This time will be different. I’m tired of pretending that there are actually enough of you [the reader] that care that I write. I will write when I write.

Hollywood, how could you?

Hello imaginary readers,

I apologise for waiting so long to post, it’s just, I don’t really get inspired that often (lies, I do. I just get overwhelmed by a wave of laziness anytime it comes across my mind to blog. Besides, you’re imaginary, I didn’t think you would mind so much).

This term, my school is kicking off the year with seminal readings. This means the whole school community meets in small groups to discuss different readings around a central themes (more or less). For my year group, the theme for this term is “The Good Society” (or something like that). The first reading we were assigned was ‘The Giver’. ‘The Giver’ is an incredible book, I would definitely recommend it to everyone. I enjoyed the book so much that I finished it ahead of schedule. So with a lot of free time, I thought to myself, why not watch the movie. Big mistake. Oh my.

Hollywood, it is time for us to have a discussion. Now, as a fellow capitalist (don’t judge me), I understand the need to amass wealth by (in your case) pouring out tons of movies. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re…… ehn. However, when one of your cronies thinks, “Hmmm, (insert very good book here) would make for a good movie and in turn, make us a lot of money”, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO COMPLETELY WRECK IT.

I mean, the job is much easier for you. You don’t even have to make up the plot, just assign lines in a script. Then do all your directing things and voila, you have a movie. But noooooooo, obviously, you believe the original just isn’t good enough and you have to put your greedy little capitalist hands all over the story and mess it up. (spoiler alert, if you think you might want to watch The Giver, skip to the next paragraph). HOW COULD YOU TURN THE GIVER INTO A LOVE STORY? HOW COULD YOU? You made Asher serious. You turned him into a drone pilot, TO FIT YOUR TWISTED PLOT. You changed Jonas’ number, FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON. You changed Fiona’s assignment, TO FIT YOUR TWISTED PLOT. You made Lily a year older, FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON. You changed how the Chief Elder worked. You…. I’m not going to get myself into a frenzy. But if you changed so much, why even call it ‘The Giver’. You could steal the main idea and just rework to make a new movie. We all know that’s what you do most of the time anyways. That’s why I don’t understand why you’ll have an original story and still mess it up. Do you not value the essence of stories?

I hope you have children. I hope they grow up to read ‘The Giver’. I hope they watch your ‘rendition’ of it. I hope they come up to you, teary-eyed, disappointment written all over their faces and ask, “Why did you do it? Why did you kill ‘The Giver’? Because you did kill it. YOU ARE A MURDERER. What good is the justice system for situations such as this. Who is going to hold you accountable?

Between the last paragraph and this one, no one stepped up for the job, so as the self appointed judge, I declare you guilty. I sentence you to your millions billions, your fame, your…… So yeah, I can’t really do much to hurt you, which is not fair because you’ve caused me so much pain. But please, I beg of you with my hearts of hearts, let it stop. Please.

‘African Respect’

A couple days ago, I was walking to the school gate to pick up my pizza and I passed an elderly South African lady. Awaiting the Pizza Perfect delivery man, I was shocked to hear an unfamiliar voice say,

“How are you?”

I turned around slowly, in the split second I saw the lady, I realised she was addressing me. Confusion written on my face, I replied,

“I’m fine thank you, how are-”

“I’m fine too,” she interrupted. “It’s just, in my days, we were brought up to respect our elders.”

In her head, she must have been elated. She had just put a wayward teen in his place. Her face told me that she was disappointed in me, the youth of today and ultimately, mankind. She was disappointed, I was angry.

Let me provide some context. It was about 10 minutes to one on a Saturday afternoon. I had ordered the pizza almost 45 minutes before. On a regular day I wouldn’t mind waiting around for my food, but it wasn’t a regular day. I had a full SAT practice test that begun exactly at one. I didn’t have a phone so I had spewed some rubbish when the pizza guy asked for my number. Therefore I had no way to know if the pizza was on its way. Apprehensive and nervous about my food and the four hour test I was about to dive in, I didn’t even notice the elderly woman who was on the wide right of my vision.

When the lady walked away, I was fuming. I went into a mini-rant in my mind about respect. That is what I will try to articulate in this blog. Beware, it will still seem ‘rant-y’.


The elderly lady had no idea what was going through my mind, didn’t know me from my village, wasn’t even sure I saw her. But because she saw me, she thought she deserved ‘respect’. First of all, greeting someone doesn’t equate respect. Also, no one ‘deserves’ a greeting. You don’t know the person’s story, you don’t know if they just lost their job or a home or a relative, you can’t expect anything from them. Respect is reciprocal. Because of my home training, I approach everyone with respect, but I should get the same back on the other side. (Another issue that bothers me greatly is, why do older Africans [sorry for the generalization, but you know what I mean] feel the need to correct everyone younger than them according to their personal values. It is embarassing. Stop that.)

Apart from greeting, the idea of respect from both sides extends to many aspects of life. Many times in Nigeria, when in an argument, the older one will say, “Am I your mate?” That is ridiculous. If I’m arguing with you, I will not be dismissed just because you were born before me. I will not accept your thoughts/theory/philosophy just because you are older than me. You are not better because you are older than me. And “because I have been there” isn’t a worthy explanation for why I must agree with you. It doesn’t work that way. You know why? NO TWO SCENARIOS ARE EVER THE SAME. Similar? Maybe, but not the same. So give concrete arguments.

If you do not respect yourself, I will not respect you. If you are at fault, accept it. Don’t believe that because the other person is younger than you, you can not concede. And to the older people, we know you used to ‘do things’ a certain way. We know you think it is the best way. You need to consider the possibility that maybe that’s not so. And adapt. That’s what we all need to do. Adapt. Adapt to the society we live in today. Accept that not everyone will greet you. Be willing to change and accomondate. Don’t be stuck in the thick mud of times past.

P.S I had to eat the pizza in the test room while listening to instructions from the instructor. Bacon, pepperoni, chili and extra cheese. Beautiful

Meeting new people is the best thing ever (inspired by YYGS [Google it])

I’m not one for favourites (Yes Americans, it’s a ‘u’. I’m not writing the SATs for a few months, I’m not bound to your rules) and so I’m not one to say a particular experience has been the “best of my life”, but the past two weeks have been wonderful. I should provide useful context for the people I don’t constantly text with the details of my life. I spent the last two weeks at Jonathan Edwards College at the Yale University participating in the Yale Young Global Scholars Program (YYGS, yes, I know you didn’t Google it). I would never forget these past two weeks and the people I met here.

This brings me to my topic of the day 

“Meeting new people is the best thing ever”

Meeting new people excites me, especially when it’s people from across the world. You find like-minded people and you are satisfied because with a sigh of relief, you think to yourself, “Finally, someone who understands it the way I do.” And it could be on so many topics. Someone from Argentina could agree with your stance on gun control rights but disagree with you on abortion, but the Mexican kid gets it.

And the arguments. Oh my goodness, the arguments. This is a very biased statement. As someone who loooooooves to argue, I am very much pro-arguing. Unless the person isn’t making sense. Then they need to stop. You can’t make up facts, or not acknowledge truth (*cough* Abishek *cough*). Arguing with new people is a great way to start friendships. Unless the argument gets too heated. Then you’re probably not going to be friends with the person.

Here’s a list of argument topics I’ll suggest for occasions where you are meeting someone for the first time:

  • How bad was the old Spiderman movie series?
  • Does Tobey Maguire suck badly, or really badly?
  • The role of the Internet in society today

or anything in that vein.

Here are things you never argue with someone after meeting them for the first time:

  • LGBT rights
  • Abortion
  • Religion
  • Gun rights
  • Israel and Palestine

No matter what your stance is on those topics, NEVER discuss these things with people you just met for the first time (and sometimes people you’ve known for a while too).

So that’s arguments. Also, meeting new people is incredible because of the bonds formed. After just two weeks, the bonds and relationships I made at Yale are incredibly strong. People you didn’t know a few weeks ago start making you wonder how you’ll cope without them. It’s tough to deal with. You have to start relying on social media to keep in touch. But when you know those friendships you made are for real, it’s all worth it.

(To my YYGS people) I’ll miss you all, and I’ll keep all the memories. (Seriously, I’m laughing at some of them as I write this. Who remembers the day James decided we dress up all formal and try to get Insomnia cookies?)

Till we meet again (because I’m not done with you lot. Not even close. You thought you got rid of me? When you get up on stage to do anything, I’ll be there standing up clapping.)

more and more ramblings

Dear imaginary readers (I like to believe you’re real, but then I don’t know for sure)

I apologize for waiting as long as I did to post. I just got caught up with life, exams, graduation, people and all of that stuff. So sorry. 

Onto the good stuff. I finally found some inspiration to write something. Today, I travelled to America. I coincidentally finished Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie for the second (or is it third, I’m not sure) time and so my ‘race’ senses were heightened. 

Now, race has always existed in my world. Not just white and black, but also light-skin and dark-skin (which is something that annoys me so much that it’ll probably inspire another post sooner or later), but still I cannot claim to be an expert on all matters race and I cannot pretend to be offended by racism.

Instances of racial tension make me laugh. Any kind of racial tension. Then there is also the ‘Africa’ factor. First of all, let me clarify, Non-American Blacks and American Blacks (allow me to borrow Americanah terms) are COMPLETELY different. Forgive me, this is a generalization. ABs are ‘higher’ than NABs, and credit to them, they try not to be overbearing in the way they show this. It’s like they are finally happy to be higher than someone on the rankings. That’s just what I think

And of course, it’s always in the little instances that make me question things. As I tried to buy a pack of Skittles, the lady at the counter compliments me. Hearing my accent when I said my thanks, she asked where I was from. When I say Nigeria, she goes, “Oh I know someone that lives there.” My mouth says, “Oh that’s nice”, my brain is thinking, “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS NEW PIECE OF INFORMATION. THERE ARE 170 MILLION PEOPLE IN MY COUNTRY (personally, I think it’s more like 200) PLUS ALL THE NIGERIANS AROUND THE WORLD (and everyone knows that’s a lot). AM I SUPPOSED TO IDENTIFY WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU KNOW ONE NIGERIAN)

pause…

Let me talk about diversity for a bit. Being a student at the African Leadership Academy, I hear the word ‘Diversity’ a lot more than the regular Tunde. Because I spend time with people from one country does not mean I am not ‘diverse’. Everyone is different, and there are different characteristics that I can identify with. I just feel like nationality is not one of them. Nigerians are so different. Ethiopians are so different. Ghanaians are so different. You get the gist.

Tying this in with the story about the Skittles seller. If she told me she was Nigerian, then it makes more sense, we would briefly talk about Boko Haram or power cuts while I reached for my wallet. But it’s her friend. Do I converse with him/her through her mind? I don’t get it. Now if she told me she had a friend who wears circular glasses like I do, I could have asked, “Did he/she pull it off?” Start a conversation. Because the topic was specific, not something as broad as nationality.

Another thing I find funny is the effort in which people (this isn’t specific to ABs or Americans, just people in general) put into pronouncing African names. They try and try, rolling the unfamiliar syllables over their tongue and seem genuinely interested in learning it. And so when the lady making my bagel-sandwich thingy (which tasted heavenly) said “Swa-lu Ekin”, I smiled in encouragement which seemed to make her feel better. Maybe that’s why my bagel-sandwich thingy was so good.

But just to clarify, racism isn’t funny. I haven’t gone through any severely racist moment, but I know it happens to people. I just find racial tensions funny. That’s all.

Bye

 

The Confused Ramblings of a 17 year old

No. This isn’t about Arsenal. You’re welcome.

I like to imagine I do not have problems. It is not true. No one can not have problems. It is stupid to try to solve these problems on your own. Unfortunately, it is my curse to try. My teenage years started with a best friend that was hours away, and being at a boarding school did not help as I tried and failed to keep in touch. Therefore, I only had a ‘best friend’ by name, not in the real sense of the word.
Let me digress. I dislike the term ‘best friend’. I believe it puts unnecessary pressure on the people involved in the relationship. How do you decide you have reached the stage ‘best friendship’? What if the other in the relationship doesn’t see you as his/her best friend? Who asks to become the other’s best friend? Anyway, it’s not important.
Already an independent person, I began to deal with my problems inwardly, which has its perks I guess. Ironically, I am a very trustworthy person, and people confide in me even though it is never reciprocated. Sure, sometimes I might tell someone something going on in my life, but I almost never want advice or help, I just keep people up to date. This might stem from a lack of trust in humans. To be honest, I am not very sure.
I am a thinker by nature. I believe it is one of greatest traits. Unfortunately, I over think, and this is my greatest flaw. I run every scenario multiple times in my head, I imagine the various different effects of events and I over complicate every thought, grin and word.
Infact, what inspired this post was me spending the last 2-3 hours over thinking some things.
This has made me a very calculating person. I try to put things in percentages, or on a scale. I do not do things till it’s almost certain that I’ll get the result I want. I’m hardly spontaneous. I am very picky with food.
I do like to try new things surprisingly.
All these characteristics shape the part of my personality I never show, the part that bubbles in my head, the part that controls me. And now you know a little more about me. This post isn’t about me saying, “That was the old me, I’m turning a new leaf.” I am not. I kind of like the way I am. Kind of. To be honest, I don’t know what this post is about. I am probably more confused than I was before. But hey, I got an article out of it.