The Adventures of Tola


IMAGE from: Jide Odukoya

In this country, a boss should always be bald and have a big belly. My uncle isn’t bald, he hasn’t got a big belly, and you don’t realise, the first time you see him, that he’s the actual boss of a big office in the centre of town. I have been to his office only once, when Mummy could not pick me up from school. Uncle Ahmed unlike many bosses in Lagos did not even have a car of his own. On this day he came to get me not with his car but with an okada. Uncle held both my food and school bag and the okada man propped me right in front of the handle bar, while Uncle sat behind the okada man. I imagined I was the one riding the okada alone as I placed my hands on the handle bar enjoying the wind brush my face and dry my sweaty uniform. It did not bother me that my feet could not reach the pedal or that we were not wearing any helmets, or how upset mummy would be if she found out Uncle had not used a taxi as promised.


The Okada man did not know his way around, so Uncle had to direct him through narrow streets to avoid the traffic, the okada man whose attention was divided between my Uncle and the road did not notice the black jeep at the junction. It happened so quickly. I found myself in the middle of the not-so-busy street.


My Uncle and the okada man had fallen off the okada a few metres from where I was lying.

The jeep drove off as if nothing had happened.


“Uncle Ahmed” I said in a whisper as I tried to get up.


The okada man was already on his feet as if this was normal, he helped my Uncle up and picked up my bags from the road. Uncle’s shirt was torn at the sleeves and his blue tie was stained.


“God go punish that man!” the Okada man cursed loudly. He picked up his okada and inspected it.

Uncle walked towards me, pulled me up and hugged me. He looked at my face and touched my forehead

“Tola, you are bleeding, I need to get you to the hospital.”


“Oga, one hospital dey for the next street make I carry una?” the Okada man cut in starting his motorcycle.


“No. No. You have done enough for today no worry, we go use leg.” Uncle said quickly.

“Haba Oga, no be my fault na, make I at least drop you there for free.”


“No worry ehn, thank you”

Uncle picked up my bags and carried me gently over his shoulder.


“Tola, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. What will your mum say? I wanted to make it back to the office in time…” Uncle Ahmed went on, sobbing lightly as he carried me in his arms to the hospital.


I wrote this short story as an entry for the AFREADA writes Tomorrow I’ll be 20 competition with Alain Mabanckou in June 2017. I stumbled upon it recently and I absolutely loved it! So I am considering doing a mini-drama series out of this (“The Adventures of Tola”). Did you like it? Please share your thoughts below.

Like Dancing Chairs…

I had gone through this route before. Countless times, but today I connected with it all.

When the traffic lights turned red they marched in a procession toward the shiniest cars. It was like a game of dancing chairs- who could get the most money before the lights turned green. Except this was not a game, it was a fight for survival.

The little ones, bare feet and unassuming moved through traffic quickly trying to reach as many cars as possible. I was sure they were timing themselves- 15 seconds, or less if the driver was ignoring them.

The disabled were there too, plenty. Few on wheelchairs, many with long walking sticks while double amputees were on make shift ‘planks-on-wheels’. The latter had it hardest, rolling their way through traffic to salon cars, avoiding the 4 Wheel Drives- too high to get any attention- only the very ambitious  bothered.

I saw the able bodied- mostly young men, with worn out glass cleaning wipers and Eva bottles filled with green foamy liquid. Though fewer in number, these ones I could tell pride themselves in their ‘service’. They were in search of ‘dirty windscreens’ and of course spare change. In spite of it all they were no different from the others they ignored the dirty commercial buses and taxis favouring only the shiny cars.

The clock was ticking; the lights would change in no time. The little ones had just about gone to all the cars, while the adults played catch up.

 In this race, this fight for survival they had to contend with the vendors. They were the undeniable winners of attention, with many more willing to trade than empathise.

The vendors were more than them- men, women, children hawking  plantain chips, biscuits, mints, garden eggs, books, drinks, yogurts, inflatable beds, teddy bears, handkerchiefs, tissues, stationary. There was an endless stream of them; all moving fast only stopping when there was interest. They were attentive and ready to jump off the road when the lights turned green.

Just as with dancing chairs, the music stopped, the lights turned green and everyone ran to  the kerb, the disabled first, the traders last- always trying to hold up traffic.

For everyone it was a two minute hustle on repeat every six minutes when the lights turned red again and every participant was ready to try their shot at this hustle till the night came when the grid-lock began and they were more cars to visit.

She knew she’d have to run alone, she always knew.

She did not know how sad it would be actually doing it.

It’s been several years coming, her income was low, and drugs were high.


What sort of mother abandons her daughter? She thought. The fight was internal, one she knew she would not win.

They soon arrived at the orphanage; she nudged the little girl to the door.


A day had passed but she could still hear her calling, ‘mum’, ‘mum’, ‘mum’

She kept telling herself this was the best decision, and soon she believed it.


This was my attempt at a 100-word story. Did you figure out what was going on?Let’s know your take on this. #SometimesLessisMore.

She sat on the chair just facing the window sill, it was the first time she had sat there- in this position. Usually she was never up this early to see the sun giving off this amazing colour- it was a bit like twilight but it wasn’t. In all her years of living in this house it was the first time she noticed the plants on the porch, how they blossomed recovering from the  morning due. She remembered when Edna insisted on planting them but she had been to busy to argue, she longed for the days when things were back to normal when she got flowers from strangers and felt loved. All alone she sat on the porch with regret wishing for a different life, where she appreciated things more, where she was not so busy…

“What are you doing up so early?”

She stared at him and noticed just how old Brian had become. The wrinkle across his forehead was apparent and his eyes were dark and baggy apparently from insomnia.

“I couldn’t sleep. I just realised the sun rose from this part of the house”

Brian was not one who cared much about nature, she knew he wanted her to go back in to the house. But she was stubborn and was prepared to start a fight if he uttered those words.

Time to De-clutter


My wardrobe is not the biggest in the world, but it is sure well over its capacity. Some of the clothes in it have been in there for over the last decade, some have only been worn once, others never. Let’s not even start with the shoes and bags! I feel guilty each time I bring a new item into the ‘collection’. If all my items were alive, I am sure I would have had to answer to some authority (thank goodness they’re not). Lots of people around the world have one time or the other felt this way, it might be right now as you are reading this article, or last year. But what did you do when you felt this way; did you ignore it, or in the words of my friend, did you give in to the voice saying, ‘you never know when these may come in handy? Perhaps you had a huge quarrel with someone because they called you the ‘H- word’, HOARDER.

The first time I encountered this word I was quite certain it did not apply to me, I mean how could it? There was just something negative about that word; this moral and medical element about it. I had weirdly connected ‘hoarding’ with another word ‘kleptomaniac’, I know it doesn’t really make sense why I made that connection, but I would tell you why. Hoarding refers to the accumulation of items, while Kleptomaniacs are those who take anything they see (in simple terms). So the connection I used to make was that hoarders become that way because they were Kleptomaniacs and were therefore bad, ill people. Hence, why I felt I couldn’t be a hoarder. Of course, two things were faulty with this thinking; one, I obviously didn’t understand the difference between Kleptomaniacs and Hoarders. Two, I had succeeded in logically excluding myself from a class of people I genuinely felt did not define me. Therein lay the problem- I was in denial.

For many hoarders, they only start feeling guilty when their wardrobes won’t shut, or when they cannot find the space to keep new items. Others have to be verbally assaulted by loved ones to get the message. The only way to ‘un-guilt’ is to admit you have a problem. Acceptance is the key to de-cluttering. What are you accepting though? That you have too many items or that there is something wrong with ‘the self’ that has these items? You guessed right, the latter. Only through self analyses can you understand why you have so many items. You can ask yourself, ‘when was the last time I went shopping? Did I really need to buy this item? How often have I used this item?’ The best way to overcome a habit is to question the habit. Many impulse buyers are often held captive to the lure to buy what they don’t need. What if you naturally think through anything you purchase, does this mean you cannot be a hoarder?

I looked up the origins of the word Hoarder and I was surprised with the search, it comes from a word that means to ‘treasure, valuable stock or store’. So the notion of this word comes along with it a connotation of ‘subjective priceless value’. In other words, it is possible for someone in a few years or month to acquire a skyscraper of items, provided it is of value to the person, regardless of whether it was pre-thought or not.

Is it possible for everything a hoarder has to be objectively valuable? How can a hoarder sieve through what is valuable and what isn’t when deciding what should be thrown away and what shouldn’t? To overcome this nature the first thing is to under-value the items held in esteem (this has to be the harshest thing I have ever said, but it is for the best). See things for what they are, not from your mind’s eye. Honestly, those items are tired of not being used, they want a new home, don’t deceive yourself that someday you will use them, you wouldn’t- You know it. Where is the time to wear all those dresses, to wear all those shoes, to clean all those items drenched in dust and cobwebs? Did I hear you say antique? Did I hear you say you are saving it for the next generation? Seriously, that’s your mind at work, rationalizing again. Try to rationalize differently- base it on fact not on untruth. Have/Can you really use all of these items regularly in the next year? To be fair, did you succeed in doing this in the last six months? You know the answer don’t you?

De-cluttering is hard work; I would advise anyone who intends to do this to set realistic goals, by sorting out all the items in stages. The hardest part about de-cluttering is not the physical work, it is the emotional task of ‘detachment’. Some items might have been given to us by people we love/d; thus each item is like a strand of memory. Think about it, if you have so many memories lying around your house or bedroom can you form fresh ones freely? At times, we just have to let go and move on. To de-clutter, the hoarder needs to detach any memory and stick to the goal in the list. One of the best ways of doing this is to use a time-plan. You could say, ‘I plan to take out any item I haven’t used in the last 6 months or 2 years’ (this all depends on the rate of acquisition) then take out any item that doesn’t fall in the list. Try and avoid making exceptions. The meaner and dispassionate you are toward the items the better you would be at de-cluttering.
Don’t get anyone to do this work for you (if you can manage). With a good plan you can succeed!

Today I look at my wardrobe and I smile. It not only shuts, but it makes a bang when I slam its doors. For the first time in years I notice its beautiful mahogany color, and even its inner mirror! Looking at this mirror, I see a happy sweaty faced girl looking at all the black bags around her, preparing to send them to where they would be needed. She doesn’t feel guilty anymore- her space is de-cluttered and so is her head, those cherished memories are settled where they belong.

*** The above article is not a professional manual for overcoming the psychological disorder of Compulsive Hoarding. It is only a mini-guide on dealing with the social problem of de-cluttering. The word ‘Hoarding’ was not intended to label or cause any form of anxiety.

Have you felt this way before, what did you do? Give us suggestions on more de-cluttering techniques .Feel free to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE. And if you enjoy my write ups hit the ‘follow’ tab to receive updates on latest posts.

Much Ado about Hair

I recently completed Chimmanda Adiche’s new book Americannah and I must say it is the most down to earth book I have ever read . One of the issues she got me thinking about is the issue of hair versus identity.

The hair believe it or not is one of the most emotional part of our body. There is a direct relationship between our hair and our self image. Just a slight change to our hair- new hairstyle or haircut, our friends can tell the difference a mile away. I’m not quite sure why we tend to be so self conscious when we have something new on our hair. We tend to peek into any mirror we see (even reflections)just to remind us I guess, of what we look like. We tend to run our hands over the new hair more often than necessary. And we often find ourselves taking more pictures, compare them with older pictures, post some on Facebook and wait for comments virtually or physically.

If our hair is so crucial to our self image should anyone prescribe to us what hair we should have on? Well there sometimes tend to be an ‘argument’ among black women whether or not it is okay to have natural hair or weaves. In the end, these arguments tend to collapse in to preferences and orientations.

For #teamweaves or #teamperm they often believe that the quickest way possible to look good is what they want on their hair. They often don’t care so much about the cost of this decision. Looking good is all that matters. So there’s nothing wrong with putting chemicals in the hair if it will make it look good. There’s nothing wrong in rocking a 22inch Cambondian weave. Anything that looks good, they don’t mind having on. They often crown it all by saying, ‘I am not my hair’

The second end of the argument #teamnatural believe that the best thing to do is to give their hair a chance. So they are not worried about the texture or uncanniness… They pick up the challenge and work their hair. What I have often noticed however, is that #teamnatural (not on purpose) tend to be critical of others who don’t join in the movement. They obsess about hair- research about products and talk a lot about hair. You know how people obsess about food are called foodies, I call those who do the same to hair ‘hairist’. If u meet a real hairist you might just become one! Usually, #teamnatural women mostly have had bad experiences when they were in the other teams I mentioned and vowed to love their own hair.

So now you know a little about these two teams. What do you think? Is hair really a means of identity or it is just an accessory like clothes?

I would really appreciate your opinion.
Please feel free to LIKE. COMMENT. SHARE
If you loved this post and others
On this site. Hit the FOLLOW button and subscribe to my post

I never thought I’ll make it

It’s been two months since I got out, but I still remember those 21days clearly.
No, I’m not talking about prison or rehab, I’m talking about the NYSC(National Youth Service Corp) orientation camp. Part of the service* every graduate of Nigeria must render to their country. Basically, Nigerian graduates who intend working in Nigeria have to give back to the country by serving for a year. The first part of this whole program starts with the ‘dreaded’ orientation camp. It is usually the hardest part of the service year for many because for three weeks you have to live on a camp site with different people, eat differently, and change your entire lifestyle!

Before I set out for camp, I spent several weeks, may be months researching on survival techniques I would employ. I read a truck load of blogs, and asked a zillion questions. The response was always the same, “Don’t worry, you will do just fine”. A few might add, “when you get out you will be a stronger person.”

Growing up I heard all sorts of ‘camp stories’, to be honest, there were all negative. There were the gruesome stories of how soldiers punished Corpers* severely when they were caught breaking the law, stories of how some Corp members fainted during ‘endurance trek’, how difficult it was using the wash room because of its debilitated state and of course the most common were the shotput* adventures.
I think those years of listening to these tales were the formative stages of my ‘camp phobia’.

After picking up my posting letter*, the anxiety kicked in. I worried about whether I had bought every thing on my list , whether I had enough money, about who my roommates would be, about what i would eat…. The funniest thing however was that I didn’t look like a nervous wreck, I just became a lot more quiet as my boisterous thoughts ate me up.A few of my friends were posted to the same state as me, so we were excited that no matter how bad it got, we had each other.

I remember rolling my suitcase in to the premises and looking back at the gate and wondering if i would come out the same. The camp site for Lagos state isn’t much to take in, I was just too happy there were no bushes. The first thing i noticed however, was the big red dusty field on the right, it contrasted with the tarred roads within the compound. I would later find out that this is the location of ‘Mami market’.

Registration started an hour after we arrived, and i must confess it was exhausting. I think i made too many photocopies and too many passport pictures (talk about over preparation). After receiving my kit, I remember asking if it was over… lol.

My room was packed with so many bunk beds. I got a top bunk, that meant i had to vault myself up to my bed all the time as these bunks didn’t come with steps. For several days i couldn’t identify all my room mates. It was impossible. There were just too many of us. I only knew those on my side of the room.
I remember my first full day. It had been announced the previous day that the bugle would be blown by 4.30am, by 3am the next morning all the girls in my room were up. It was a frenzy! The bathrooms were in a state. There were minor arguments and the constant noisy chatter everywhere, you would think it was 3 in the afternoon.
It was drizzling that morning, and I was cold to my bones, the soldiers blew their super loud whistles at us as we made our way to the parade ground. The darkness was intense, I refused to believe my watch that it was morning. I could hear the crickets, feel the dew on my skin, the moon was big and bright, and the stars were twinkling! All I found myself asking was, what on earth was i doing outside at this time of the morning?
There was the meditation, the public address, physical training and man’o’war chants. It was annoying and tiring doing exercises so early in the morning. But after running round in circles and singing the most ridiculous songs… I didn’t feel tired anymore. What i found most interesting about these mornings was the gradual awareness of daylight, the fact that i could suddenly see everyone clearly noticing their sleepy eyes and raggedy whites…

They let us return back to the hostel before 8am and we were expected to come down again for drills. I hated drills. I hated the idea of marching under the sun for four bloody hours, I hated the constant thirst and tiredness. After three days, I began to doubt if I would survive it. I was down with a cold, and a cough that altered my voice. Evenings were the best. Those were the only times I really could socialize. There was Mami market- the only place you could buy ‘anything’ you wanted and get ‘any’ service you required. From photographers, to launders to tailors to restaurants… everyone was out to make money from us.
Mami market was most vibrant at night time. Most corpers came out to have a good time. Once there was good music, food and alcohol- it didn’t matter the location, corpers were determined to have fun. I remember the last days of camp, i wasn’t sure if i was imagining it, the parties grew bigger and louder. There were so many social events and activities that made camp fun during the final days. With each day i counted down to the day i would return home to my comfortable bed, to sleep as long as i could.

Now that i think about it, I really doubt I remembered to use any of the advise i received prior to camp… the only thing that kept me going was my Ipod and friends. My friends from my uni were totally awesome, don’t know how I would have coped without them. And my camp friends were so much fun also; there was always a reason to laugh.

The soldiers were not as evil as i anticipated, I didn’t have to do shotput and there was no endurance trek. In the end, there was nothing to be afraid of! My experience has taught me that ‘nothing’ is difficult, it only gets difficult when we believe ‘it’ is hard. It begins and ends with our perception! Would i want to go back and do those 21 days again? Most definitely No. My only advice to anyone going to do their service is, ‘Don’t sweat it! It’s not as bad as they say it is’

*service refers to the NYSC
*corpers/corp members are used interchangeably to mean Graduates who are currently doing their NYSC
*shotput is a popular term used to describe the act of crapping in a nylon bag and throwing it away. Done when toilet facilities are usually not available
*posting letter is a letter from NYSC indicating were you are required to serve.

Have you gone to camp yet? what was your experience? what do you make out of my story? Feel free to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE. And if you enjoy my write ups hit the ‘follow’ tab to FOLLOW my blog and receive updates on latest posts.

Writing Challenge: The Devil is in the details

Sitting on the marble cold step, I try to balance my laptop on one lap while reaching for my phone on the top step which contained the details of the writing challenge. I enjoy sitting on the middle of the three steps that lead into the living room. It is one of the only locations I find myself writing my best. One reason perhaps is because I can admire the living room area just in front of me. It is a rectangular room having paintings and sculptures hanging on each side of the wall graced with a huge red Persian rug in the middle and four leather couches on either sides of it. There is a huge brown clock hanging on the wall facing me, it is slightly higher than rest of the paintings. On the same side of the wall is an air condition and opposite it- where I sat is a white standing fan. The living room area was never warm provided one of those two was switched on.

I’m staring at my laptop screen and trying to type every detail from my visual focus, when I hear a mosquito. The buzzing gets louder with every second, and I get upset. “SWAT”. I missed. The buzzing continued. This insect was determined to derail my train of thoughts. I turned on the standing fan to ward it off. It worked! I sat back down to write some more, but I didn’t know what next to write.The clock kept ticking loudly.

The lights from the chandelier just above the rug suddenly seemed deem, I couldn’t tell whether it was the electricity or my eyes. Sleep was setting in and the fan wasn’t helping. I took my slipper off, and felt the cool floor with the sole of my feet; it woke me up a little. My right feet absently stepped on an object; it was small and hard. I picked it up with my toes. Holding it in my hands now, i could see It was the missing letter ‘d’ the kids had been looking for earlier in the day to complete a puzzle. I tucked it into my bag, hoping to give it to them tomorrow. I looked at the wall clock and decided my writing time was over. Then, I hit the ‘publish’ button .

Daily Prompt: Use it or lose it

The engine went dead, and so did my heart. The car rolled down the hill faster than I anticipated. I tried to restart the engine but it didn’t budge. I hit the break hoping for a miracle; the car slowed down only a little, but not for long, the hill was too steep.

My rear mirror showed more trouble; two cars were racing up the hill, oblivious of my situation. I horned repeatedly but they kept coming toward me.  I turned the steering wheel attempting to get the car to steer into the other lane; thankfully it worked. I tried to slow the car a little more, tapping on the breaks gently.

It was only a few seconds before traffic streamed into my lane; the motorists  horned furiously at me in unison. With every second I kept searching for a way to crash the car into a pavement, but it was moving too fast. I also thought of ditching the car and jumping out like James Bond would.

I had reached the bottom of the hill; People could finally see what was happening. I suddenly could hear screams as the car headed toward the busy intersection.


“Lola. Lola. Wake up.”

I was sweating all over. My eyes were wet from tears. It was so hard to believe I imagined it all; as I trembled on my bed.

“You will be fine honey, these are the temporary side effects of…”

I couldn’t care less what the nurse was saying. All I really wanted  was to stop shaking. I knew it was only a dream, but I wasn’t certain it was. What if this was a memory?

I shivered some more finding it extra difficult to stay calm.

“Would you like some more pain killers for your arm?”

I looked down at my arm , then looked back at her trying to decide once again whether I had just imagined the car incident.

“What happened to my arm? Did I really do it?”

She held up some tablets and a glass of water, “oh, my dear I thought we’d never come back from that one.” She watched me carefully and continued, “Just drink up, you’ll feel better I promise.”

I did as she asked, without a protest.

“Don’t push yourself Lola, your memories would come back to you”

Searching for motivation

                                                                                     motivation book

One of the worst feelings in the world in my opinion, has to be searching for something (perhaps your phone) which was just on you a few minutes ago. I mean what can be more frustrating? You know that the item you are searching for is right in front of you, but you just can’t see it.

Searching for a physical object cannot be as annoying as searching for a feeling, a non-concrete ‘object’  like Motivation.

Motivation is that fuel that every human has to have to perform  at their very best.

It is that kick that will make an athlete run that extra mile when out of breath.

It is that attitude that will keep you smiling when you are taunted.

Having motivation can prevent negative feelings or attitudes like inertia and even procrastination.

What breaks my heart the most is that this fuel- motivation is not the kind of natural resource that has a price tag on it. We are the sole producers of that feeling. It begs the question; Why can’t I have motivation all the time? Why must I search for it like I will my phone?

Every writer needs motivation, without that feeling it would be difficult to get the right inspiration to write.  One way I have struggled with mine is by subscribing to daily prompts and trying to post as often as I can. Well it is quite hard to do that if you don’t have the right inspiration. On Tuesday I ran into the daily post challenge and I told myself I should accept this challenge and post something for five days.

For five days I searched for motivation and I could not find him. He evaded me. The truth is the only reason I did not ‘just do it’ was because I spent too long thinking about what to write. The only way to be good at writing is to just write as often as possible.

At the end of the  fifth day, which is today I discovered that the problem with my approach of finding motivation was the amount of time I spent looking for it in the first place. The truth is, when searching for something you don’t have to be the one who will find it, someone else might discover the missing item.

My point is, motivation is not waiting out there; getting on with the task at hand might be a step closer toward that burst of energy and feeling you need to write.

How have you searched for motivation? Please share your comments with me right here one this page.