THE SECOND PASSENGER IN THE FRONT SEAT by Opeyemi Adebari

THE SECOND PASSENGER IN THE FRONT SEAT by Opeyemi Adebari

THE SECOND PASSENGER IN THE FRONT SEAT

by Opeyemi Adebari

6th August, 2017

Ibadan to Abeokuta is not much of a distance. With a sensible driver and a vehicle in excellent condition, one should make the trip in 90 minutes at most.

We had just crossed over to the other side from the car park. We had stopped about three cabs before getting one going our way. “150 ni onikolobo oooo” said this elderly driver authoritatively as we walked briskly to enter.

We quickly made ourselves comfortable before giving baba an idea of a reasonable price, jokingly though. Since I was born and bred in Egba, I am no novice to transport pricing. 150 naira was fair for our destination. Furthermore, I do not like bargaining much. It often leads to unnecessary exchange of words.  Forgot to add, if you are too much of a bargainer, you might be plastered with so much insult and would have to wait for someone whose hobby is carrying people for free to their destinations.

My sister and I were the two passengers at the back seat with a young man in the front seat. Just moving a little bit, a passenger waved calling, “moore junction!” She entered making the backseat filled up. On reaching Salawu Abiola Comprehensive High School, some women waved down the car. I can’t even remember where they said they were going because my mind was calculating the extra seat that would be manufactured as the driver stopped to pick them. Before the women got to the car, they had chorused “awa meji ni o”, meaning we are two! This elderly driver told them to come because moore junction was just one more zoom and that the lady in the backseat would alight soon. I was greatly angered as the driver told the three passengers to adjust to accommodate an illegal fourth passenger as well as a second passenger in the front seat. I was furious and became the spokesman for the all passengers in the bus, telling this Baba that it was not possible for us to adjust as the seat was made for three not four. I guess my words had no effects in him, as he replied, “ti o ba le sun ko bole. If you can’t adjust get down’’. Angrily, I told my younger sister that we should alight. The two illegal passengers started pleading that we should not be angry. Well I didn’t care much about the woman who was to seat in front but that fourth passenger at the back was enough to make me mad. Without fear, I told this Baba that he should not use his old age to cheat younger ones so that his respect would be intact. I am not sure if it had been men of his age sitting at the back, he would have taken such a selfish decision!

(7TH August, 2017)

We had reached the tail end of Challenge to begin our journey to Iwo Road when, suddenly, this young driver who had been a good boy since we left the Panseke Garage in Abeokuta blew the remaining passengers in the car a kiss of surprise, as he parked and asked us to board another vehicle to Iwo Road, which on agreement, was supposed to be our last bus stop from Abeokuta. I said, to myself, as he parked, “hope he is the one paying the fare down to Iwo Road?”. I stylishly voiced it out as I got down and my seat mate responded, “of course, awon lo ma san wo, he will pay!”

To my surprise, and displeasure, there were already two passengers at the back seat, and we were three that alighted from the space bus, and our driver had paid this Micra driver. The Micra man said “o ti pe be yen, sister e wole si waju pelu mummy, enter and seat in front with her’’. I told him I didn’t want to seat in front with another passenger; besides, this mummy was two times my size (I said this last part in my mind ooo and of course it was obvious). By this time, my smart, lepa co-passenger had made herself comfortable as the third passenger in the back seat. Eventually, she was called upon to come and seat in front with me. My heart agreed that I could manage with her, but my head disagreed. I remember this lady telling the driver to watch her leg and avoid the gear from violently romancing her thigh at intervals. To compensate my heart, I decided to start a conversation with this driver on our way. I asked him, in Yoruba, why they always carried two passengers in the front seat, and whether they are not aware that the white man made the seat for just one. He responded, “Nigeria lawa, this is Nigeria’’. What an amazing response! I was not surprised, after all this is Nigeria where standards are disregarded. I told him that it is wickedness and greed that make them carry two “incompatible” people in front. He responded, in Yoruba, that drivers can’t force people to share the front seat, if they don’t want to. He added jokingly that if people were also to seat in the boot or on any part of the car they will still pay. For me, the conversation ended there, because if I did not stop the questions, my heart could explode. Soon a passenger alighted from the back seat and I relocated. My heart smiled again. Before I forget, he also said if the opportunity existed, they would carry four people at the back and if we want them to start carrying just one person in front, the road transport officials in “white and green” should stop collecting levy at every bus stop.

I used to be the second passenger in the front seat for many years, and this was more pronounced during my five-year study at the University of Ibadan (UI). The only time I was freed from being the second passenger in the front seat was whenever I boarded a cab at the university car park. In UI, it is an offence for both the driver and the drivee (lol). Okada riders in the University do not take more than one passenger on any trip. Thumbs up for the transport Administrators for this because I’m sure if stringent rules were not laid down, there would be no sanity in the university transport system.

In March 2017, I decided that I was going to stop being the second passenger in the front seat. I had taken a cab to visit a brother of mine and his wife for the weekend. I must say the journey from UI to Total garden was an inconvenient one, talking about the forceful romance of the gear with my left thigh at various intervals. Of course, the driver was less concerned. He felt I should be the one adjusting to give way to “Mr. Gear”. The pain I felt in my left thigh, the following morning, reminded me of several discomforts I felt in times past in my left thigh which I didn’t trace to being the second passenger in the front seat. That was the end for me! Of course, my convictions were tested several times, but I always refused to exhale my conviction because change truly begins with me. I must be the New Nigeria I want to see by refusing to be exploited in the front seat.

Wait a minute! It seems to you that my reason for retreating was a selfish one, right? Far from it. When you refuse to do what is right, you will learn your lesson the hard way. Whatever is not right will eventually bring pain and regret, it just a matter of time. I decided to take an inventory and I realized that I didn’t learn my lessons early enough by buying into such unhealthy norm.  It is only in Nigeria that unhealthy norms are stronger than written laws.

In March 2015, the University had just resumed for a new session.  On this fateful morning of March 24, I had gone to Guaranty Trust bank, Mokola, to collect a new ATM card due to the expiration of the old one. Upon collection, I used the ATM, withdrew the amount I needed for my school fees. Transaction successful. I crossed to the other side of the road to take a cab back home. It was an unfortunate afternoon. There were four passengers in the supposed cab; three (all men) at the back and one in front (female). I was the second passenger in the front seat they were waiting for. I entered the front seat and tried to close the door but it was difficult. I tried it several times. The lady tried offering me some help. She held my bag while I kept trying to close the door. Suddenly, a forgotten past of when I was much younger came to mind. My mother sent me to deposit some money in the bank. After the transaction, I took a cab straight home. I remember that at the point of dropping at the junction of my house that there were just three of us in the cab; myself in the front seat, the driver and a supposed passenger at the back seat. I tried opening the door forcefully when the man wasn’t stopping at my destination. Alas, the locks were released and I made my way out of the car. I was scared. They thought I had money on me or probably saw me as a potential ritual sacrifice. (GOD ALWAYS SAVES HIS OWN!).

Back to the Guaranty Trust bank, Mokola, I shouted, “leave me, I am not going again!”. I snatched my bag from the lady holding it for me, as the driver shouted at me, “be going!”. I quickly checked the smaller zip in front of the bag to confirm that my money was intact. It was.  I made up my mind not to take a cab again, but bike. I walked some distance away and hopped on a bike after proper scrutiny. I didn’t know my heavy cute bag was empty. As the bike was almost approaching Elewure, I felt the urge to check the main compartment of my bag, only to confirm my fear, my Samsung galaxy tab was gone! My spirit was at rage as I removed the heavy papers and books used to stuck the pouch of the tab. My very being cursed those wicked souls. It was one experience I didn’t get over in good time because my mother gave me the tab after much pestering. It was a big one for me. Above all I thank God that I am alive to share my experience. The lesson I took away from this experience was that you should never take transport directly in front of the bank, and one should watch carefully the cab to ensure that it is a registered cab having the NURTW sticker at the top right of the front screen with the correct cab painting. These bad guys are everywhere, so know your God and walk closely with Him.

For personal security, no one should agree to seat with another person in the front seat. It seems to me that money is more important to Micra drivers than the security and convenience of passengers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Opeyemi Adebari is a law graduate from Nigeria’s premier University, the University of Ibadan. She is a passionate writer and poet. She believes in equity, justice, and value. Her works focus on correcting ills, Revealing injustice and promoting value on every possible plane. She is equally passionate about entrepreneurship.

MY DAUGHTER IN AN IRON PANTY by Olusegun Ogunmola

MY DAUGHTER IN AN IRON PANTY by Olusegun Ogunmola

MY DAUGHTER IN AN IRON PANTY

by Olusegun Ogunmola

Amina spoils the holy streets of Sokoto
With the stench from her fistulated tract,
As grandpa struggles to tame his libido
That keeps begging for more of the act
 
Ada is silently driven madly insane:
The horror won’t cease to replay in her mind,
But kin ties must unclipped remain,
So she must learn to feign mute and blind.
Eight rotten minds with altered senses
(End of substance use and pornography)—
Rob the poor teenagers of their innocencies,
Alas, one errand turns out too many!
 
He cooks himself another exorcism session
(Who’s delivering who— I really can’t tell):
Wooli  and inchoate Aanu in a hot horny session,
Ah, church on a par with a stinking brothel!
What’s left to be heard in this millennium:
A nine-month old smeared with seminal pap;
Doctor says she has a traumatised perineum
(But she had only sat on big uncle’s lap)?
One more body infected—
HIV, gonorrhoea— maybe;
One more issue unwanted,
Another “baby” bears a baby
(Sighs)
 
Daughter, shall I weld you an iron panty
Secure and safe as Fort-Knox?
Shall I put your “under” under lock and key
To save you from unbridled cocks?
 
Daughter, should I weld you an iron panty
Secure and safe as Fort-Knox,
Mum would not let even me have the key,
For daughters now taste daddies’ cocks!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

‘Segun ‘Mola (Olusegun Ogunmola) is a budding poet, singer, songwriter, and musician. He chooses to see his works as media for baring his mind on various subjects, from the perspective of his faith and convictions. He places much value on “little things”, as he believes that great things more often than not emerge from the seemingly small and insignificant ones. He is inspired primarily by personal vicissitudes, society, and relationships (with God and man). He is a graduate of university of Ilorin, Nigeria, where he studied Health Education.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT on Chinua Achebe

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT on Chinua Achebe

Author Spotlight On Chinua Achebe

Arguably the greatest novelist to ever come from the black continent, Chinualumogu “Chinua” Achebe is a towering figure who needs no introduction whatsoever. With the African Trilogy and his Man Booker International Prize win, Achebe has cemented his name in the soil of time. It’s no surprise that the maiden edition of our “Author Spotlight” starts with the unraveling of an African literary sage of his ilk. However, with all his numerous accomplishments, it is easy to overlook certain significant events which occurred within his lifetime.

Humble Beginning
In 1948, having scored highly in the entrance examinations to the University of Ibadan, Achebe earned a scholarship to study medicine. It was not until he fell deeper in love with literary writings that he later switched to the department of English. This, of course, meant that he would have to forfeit his scholarship and pay his tuition from his own pocket. Bagging a second-class degree, Achebe was so disturbed by missing out on a first-class result that he relocated to his hometown to regroup.

Chinua Achebe

Photo accessed via WW Norton

Magnum Opus Dei – Things Fall Apart

Achebe’s first novel, Things Fall Apart, which was published two years before he turned 30 provided the blueprint for African literature. The novel paints the influence of colonialism in Nigeria in a picturesque style garnished with a stint of the Igbo culture. It excavated the realities behind the scene but the truth about the conflict between the Igbo tradition and the Christian doctrines. It is often considered as his best work and most widely read book in modern African literature. The language, the style and the uniqueness of the book made it a household name in many African homes. The universality and relevance of the book are second to none in African literature; it presents echoes from our past, shows us the details of the present anomalies on the canvas and shares in lucid ways what the future holds.

Despite being the book which began a cultural renaissance of enhancing the visibility of Africans in global literature, “Things Fall Apart” was upon publication generally ridiculed in West Africa. The book has sold over 20 million copies around the world and translated into 57 languages making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time.

Contemporaries

Achebe was a writer of global relevance despite having his roots in the African heritage, his wide span of contemporaries contains literary titans from different corners of the world. The list is not limited to these outstanding writers and poets: Margaret Atwood, Wole Soyinka, Kofi Awoonor, Christopher Okigbo, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Nadine Gordimer, J.P. Clark, Ferdynand Oyono, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Robert Gibson and Okot p’Bitek. His vast influence earned him the worldwide respect of fellow writers at the peak of his career and even after that.

Awards

A global celebrity, Achebe, received over 30 honorary degrees from universities in England, Scotland, South Africa, United States and others.

Achebe twice refused the honor of the Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, citing the chaotic socio-political atmosphere in the country, particularly his home-state as the reason.

Chinua Achebe

Photograph accessed via New York Times

The book, Things Fall Apart, has sold over 20 million copies around the world and translated into 57 languages making Achebe the most translated African writer of all time.

Controversies

Despite his achievements, Achebe never won the Nobel Prize – a phenomenon which has widely been condemned. He has himself been ambivalent in his own feelings about this.

Following a lecture at Amherst in February 1975, during which he accused Joseph Conrad’s much-beloved book “Heart of Darkness” as promoting racist narratives of Africa, Achebe became the object of academic outrage, particularly from the white academia. In fact, immediately after his speech, it has been reported that a professor walked right up to him, screaming: How dare you! Achebe would later stand by his criticism till his death.

Death

At age 60, Chinua Achebe was involved in a ghastly motor accident which left him partially disabled for the rest of his life. The literary icon passed on during his time in the United States on March 21, 2013, at the age of 82.

Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka

Photograph accessed via Opinion Nigeria

Literary Works

Before we conclude the discourse about the father of African literature, let’s have a look at some of his works.

Novels

  • Things Fall Apart (1958)
  • No Longer at Ease (1960)
  • Arrow of God (1964)
  • A Man of the People (1966)
  • Anthills of the Savannah (1987)

Short Stories

  • Marriage is a Private Affair (1952)
  • Dead Men’s Path (1953)
  • The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories (1953)
  • The Voter (1965)
  • Civil Peace (1971)
  • Girls at War and Other Stories (including “Vengeful Creditor”) (1973)
  • African Short Stories (1985)
  • The Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories (1992)

Poetry

  • Beware, Soul-Brother, and Other Poems (1971)
  • Don’t Let Him Die: An Anthology of Memorial Poems for Christopher Okigbo (1978)
  • Another Africa (1998)
  • Collected Poems (2005)
  • Refugee Mother and Child
  • Vultures

Essays, criticism, nonfiction and political commentary

  • The Novelist as Teacher (1965)
  • An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” (1975)
  • Morning Yet on Creation Day (1975)
  • The Trouble With Nigeria (1984)
  • Hopes and Impediments (1988)
  • Home and Exile (2000)
  • The Education of a British-Protected Child (2009)
  • There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra (2012)

Children’s Books

  • Chike and the River (1966)
  • How the Leopard Got His Claws (1972)
  • The Flute (1975)
  • The Drum (1978)

If you are anything like us, then you must have read his complete works twice. Alright, thrice. Fine, maybe more than four times. Who does not love Achebe? His fine writing and extraordinary use of oral tradition in passing across his message made him an unforgettable sage in the parlance of African writing.

This is a successful attempt to avoid writing an epistle about Achebe but to share a summary of his life and what his works mean to us.

 

What inspires you about Achebe? You can share with us in the comment section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kanyinsola Olorunnisola

Kanyinsola Olorunnisola

Managing Editor

 

Kanyinsola Olorunnisola is a poet, essayist and writer of fiction. He is the Managing Editor of Kreative Diadem. He writes from Ibadan, Nigeria. His writings border on the themes of unease, racism, colonialism, terror and all things familiar to the black folk. He describes his art as that specialized literary alchemy which aims to extract beauty from the frail commonplaceness of words.
His experimental works have appeared or are forthcoming on such platforms as Brittle Paper, Kalahari Review, Bombay Review, Lunaris Review, African Writer, Sprinng.org, Authorpedia, Kreative Diadem, Parousia Magazine and Sampad International Journal. He was the 2016 recipient of the Albert Jungers Poetry Prize.

 

 

Do you want a sneak peek into our latest issue?

Let’s send a copy to your mail right away!

LOVE TALES by Eghele Akpere

LOVE TALES by Eghele Akpere

LOVE TALES

by Eghele Akpere

It was love’s lullaby
That turned the heart blind;
To the unloved one,
The wisest lover is a fool.
 
It was love’s blindness,
That cursed the fool brave;
The lame, for her said,
I’d leap over a hill.
It was love’s whispers,
That forced the fool out of his life;
She said, I’m scared,
 Take my bullet; and he gladly did.
It was love’s sweetness,
That got the heart stuck:
Repeatedly singing,
I’d be blind, I’d be your fool.
 
Yet in love, we all fall,
Always.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 I am Eghele Akpere, I live in Warri. I am the author of a novel, Diary of a Warri Boy. I am a geoscientist, who loves discovering new things. I keep on understanding myself more, and I found out that I love poetry (for the beauty of it). I get better, as I appreciate corrections.

“Poetry is imperfect and it’s that imperfection that makes poetry beautiful” – Interview with Okwudili Nebeolisa

“Poetry is imperfect and it’s that imperfection that makes poetry beautiful” – Interview with Okwudili Nebeolisa

TABLE TALK

“Poetry is imperfect and it’s that imperfection that makes poetry beautiful” – Interview with Okwudili Nebeolisa

We recently met up with Okwudili Nebeolisa, a heavily-decorated Nigerian writer.  His manuscript, “Country” was one of the final shortlisted entries for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets in 2016.

That same year, Nebeolisa was shortlisted for the Writivism Prize for Poetry-in-Translation and earned a coveted selection for the Ebedi Writers Residency. We discussed his beginnings, influences, abandoned projects, creative process and momentary feelings of despair. Enjoy.

KD: Can you please tell us about yourself? What was your childhood like?
 
Okwudili: My childhood was quite funny and very normal like anybody’s. I was very inquisitive and, according to my mom, I wrote on any blank sheet I could find, even the back of doctors’ prescriptions. My father loved reading; he was a fan of Achebe and he even had two books by Wole Soyinka. He read a lot of newspapers, sometimes several newspapers in a day, though he didn’t have a tertiary education. He just loved the idea of investing in someone’s thoughts. I got that reading streak from him. I don’t think I read as much as he does, though.
 
KD: At what age did you know you would follow a literary profession?
 
Okwudili: I think I started writing when I was sixteen. I was in SSS 2 at that time. But I started writing seriously two years later in my first year in the university.

Okwudili Nebeolisa

Photo accessed via Facebook

KD: You were one of four Nigerian writers selected for the Ebedi International Writers Residency in 2016. Could you describe your experience and the impact on your writing?
 
Okwudili: It was memorable. At least I got to write a complete poetry collection that got lost when I was kidnapped – but that is story for another day. I was also able to meet Rasaq Gbolahan, a wonderful poet in his own way. I was able to write some poems about Iseyin where the residency is located. I was able to have cherishable conversations with my very good friend David Ishaya Osu.
 
KD: Accept my sympathy. But what effects would you say that ordeal had on your writing? Did you at any point feel like quitting after losing such a body of work?
 
Okwudili: Of course, I felt like giving up in the beginning; but then that feeling of despair dissipates, and then you find yourself writing. I mostly wrote poems about the experience after that event, and then I began to make outlines for stories.
 
KD: How far gone is work on your first novel The Spirit House?
 
Okwudili: It was just halfway gone. That, too, went with the kidnappers. Sometimes I think that was a good sign for me to maybe discard the project.
 
KD: When you said you discarded the project, do you mean you are not going to write this particular book the same way you conceived it before it was lost, or that you don’t intend pursuing it any further?
 
Okwudili: I haven’t totally abandoned that project, but I do hope I will come back to it someday. Writers hardly totally abandon projects. I think I need some sort of luxury like the one at the Residency to return to that project.

But then, I found out that much about poetry is imperfect and it’s that imperfection that makes poetry beautiful.”

KD: You write poetry, fiction and nonfiction. When you have an idea do you immediately know the medium it will take? Of these three, do you have a favorite? Why?
Okwudili: I think, for now, my favorite is fiction, if we go by which genre I read the most, though that may change in the future. But I read across genres. It matters what I want to get across to my audience. For example, if I want it totally fictional, I write it as fiction. If I want it autobiographical or totally true, I write it as nonfiction, if I want it to be both, I normally use poetry.
 
KD: Is ‘The Pages’ in August autobiographical? To what extent do you allow memory in your writings?
 
Okwudili: Partly autobiographical, if by that you mean true. I was writing a batch of poems based on familial and personal themes. Currently, I am still working on very personal poems, trying to assess what I think of things that have happened to my parents (my mum especially), though fictionalizing some part to effect.
 
KD: Who are your favorite writers and what do you value in their works?
Okwudili: It matters across genres. In fiction, I adore Chimamanda Adichie, Marilynne Robinson, Edward P Jones, Anne Enright, Colm Tobin, Chinelo Okparanta; basically because of how they treat their novels on the character level and the relative ease with which they seem to make writing look. In nonfiction, I like Teju Cole, I like the essays of Atul Gawande and Samantha Powers. In poetry, it’s basically a thing of generation: the older generation has Louise Gluck as my favorite. I also like Wole Soyinka (though I haven’t read anything by him lately); I wish Chinua Achebe had written a lot more poetry. I like Sharon Olds, Spencer Reece, Charles Wright, Alice Oswald; in the younger generation, I love poems by Gbenga Adesina, Anthony Carelli, Mathew Dickman, Gbenga Adeoba (he has a way of saying the usual in the unusual way), Kechi Nomu, and Katharine Larson.    
 
KD: Ishion Hutchinson has said that a poem is the vehicle of reciprocal tension between what came before and what is present, not as perfect synthesis but from, and towards, memory. Would you agree with that?
 
Okwudili: That reminds me of a saying Jameson Fitzpatrick told me, ‘that prose proceeds and verse reverses’. I found out that when I am writing poetry, I am often going back to make sure there aren’t redundant statements, and in that sense I think I am trying to make sense of an event. I don’t know whether it’s reciprocal, it may be, I don’t know. But then, I found out that much about poetry is imperfect and it’s that imperfection that makes poetry beautiful.
 
KD: Thanks for your time.
 

Do you want a sneak peek into our latest issue?

Let’s send a copy to your mail right away!

Pin It on Pinterest