Friday, October 10, 2014

How I am beating Type 2 Diabetes


I was diagnosed with diabetes in late July. At the time of diagnosis, my blood sugar was at 365 ml and my vision was already very bad (I couldn't make out the features of people who are not standing right in front of me. If I know you, I would know you are the one, but I wouldn't be able to describe your features if asked. My fingers were constantly tingling (A symptom of nerve damage caused by the extreme high blood sugar) and I felt like a total wreck.

I knew I was overweight, but didn't feel it was that bad (I weighed like 90kg, weigh below 80 now). At least I was hardly ever the biggest person in the room. I do drink, but very passively—once in a long while—mostly while hanging out with friends and at most 2 bottles.

I didn't consider myself a candidate for diabetes as I didn't know of a family member that had it. So getting diagnosis that read diabetes was a shock.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Linda Ikeji When Not to Call a Spade a Shovel

Linda Ikeji shows off her wheels. Photo: Linda Ikeji's Blog
Photo: Linda Ikeji's blog
As sad as the whole Linda Ikeji saga is, and I admit it is sad on all fronts, we need to look beyond the sentiments and face some very fundamental facts. And one glaring fact is that Ms Linda Ikeji did take materials from people without attribution, and she made good money in the process. Another truth is that we all talking about this because a Linda Ikeji is involved—this story would not have gotten to Google if it was a Mazi Nwonwu complaining about Intellectual Theft.

I must admit that I am a fan of Linda Ikeji. Her story is a testament of what a motivated person can achieve.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Untitled (discarded work)

1972 Soviet Union 16 kopeks stamp. Mars 3 lander.
1972 Soviet Union 16 kopeks stamp. Mars 3 lander. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


11: 15 am, June 1 2089, Abuja, Capital city of the Union of West African States

Very little has changed in the spaceport. Not that I was expecting much to have changed in the time that I had been away from home, but I had not expected things to remain the same. Near the exit doors, just beyond where the customs desk ended, the touts, not so camouflaged by well-sown but low quality Aba-copy business suits, still lurked, hungry eyes searching for the next victim.

Behind them, closer to the exit doors, loitered taxi drivers, pick pockets, potters, and an assortment of humanity who make a living from transit ports of any kind.

I felt the touts edging closer from the corner of my eyes and marvelled at how much space they covered while appearing not to move at all.

A lifted palm was all I needed to ward off those that my stern mask did not discourage. Outside the port the same approach served to scoot away the throng of taxi drivers and potters, who wanted me to believe that my simple shoulder strapped hand luggage was an encumbrance I needed to be rid of.

As I walked towards the extended storage area to retrieve my car, I felt the need to look back at the shuttle that had carried me back to earth. I didn’t look. I knew what I would see: a needle shaped, rust coloured bulk that lacked the majesty of the real space going ship. The rocket functions merely as an escape vehicle, one that takes you from earth to orbit, where you would switch to a space going ship.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Virulent Part 5 (The end is only the beginning)



I walked to the communication hub and as I dialled Chike’s call code on their high-end video phone, I could feel Bisi’s hostile eyes burning holes in my back. At least she is not crying anymore, I thought.

Chike’s face came into view on the large view screen; he seemed relieved to see me. “what is going on?” I asked.

“Mr. Dotun. Thank God. I can’t talk much. Thinks are getting crazy out here. Things are worse than I thought. But tell me, the rats, did you notice any strange thing as you buried them?” Chike was tense, he kept looking over his shoulders, even though he appeared to be in a sort of enclosed lab.
“Yes,” I said, somehow knowing what he would say next.

“That means the plague has already reached the mainland and will soon climb up the food chain. You have to leave Eko now. Please take my wife with you; force her if you have to.”

I was about to inquire further when the screen went blank, but not before I saw the door behind Chike burst open and two burly soldier types enter the room.
***


We left Eko the next morning, way ahead of the mass exodus and death that turned that beautiful city-state into hell-on-earth, but not fast enough. By the time we made it to Benin four hours later, the quarantine was fully in place in Eko. We hoped to cross Benin and make it to Enugu where Chike’s brother promised safety in the form of a close-knit clan of hill dwellers, but a hastily set up quarantine zone for people coming in from Eko negated our plans.

All through the drive, we had kept abreast with developments. Though the truth was still scanty and bitterly guarded by the Eko government, Chike had managed to get the story out and the net links were abuzz.
I worried for a while, when we could not get clearance to travel further into Chike’s ancestral home where we felt we might find safety.

In the quarantine camp, which grew by the minute as more refugees flowed in, we waited two weeks for the second round of test results to either clear us, or sign our death warrants. My wife and Bisi, more like sisters now, comforted each other, they both lost family in Eko. Then Bisi died, not from the scourge, no, I think of heartbreak. Of Chike, we heard little. Some say he they placed him in a government facility safe from the plague; others said he tried to help the afflicted and contacted the late stage of the infection.

Because we left when we did, we managed to cross Ogun before the militia blocked all exits. From there, only horror tales escaped.
***

‘Sir...sir,’ an urgent voice intruded on my thoughts, drawing me back to the present.

I look up to see a Guardsman looming over me, blocking the rainbow hue from the cathedral windows.

‘What?’ I ask, grateful for the intrusion but wondering what he wanted. The Guardmen were notorious with how harshly they’ve been treating people since emergency law came into effect last week. Adunni says it is the tension, they are human after all.

‘Please head to the meeting tent, the result for the tests are out,’ he say, turning to walk away.

‘Wait,’ I call out, stopping him in mid stride, ‘What happens now?’

The Guardsman looks at me as if he was pondering how much to tell me, then he just shrugs and continues on his way.


I stand up from the plastic chair, take one last look at the Cathedral, and enter the tent to fetch my family. 


Friday, August 15, 2014

10 Nigerians climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Down Syndrome

English: January 15, 1938. Mt. Kilimanjaro: Th...
English: January 15, 1938. Mt. Kilimanjaro: The snow-capped summit containing the nearly perfect crater is flanked by deep furrows of lava flow and glacial erosion. C. 20000 feet. C. 07:00. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Six Nigerian professionals are embarking on a 6-day hike to the peak of Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. This is happening as part of a fundraising drive for the Lagos based Down Syndrome Foundation.  The Charity climb tagged Climb for Down syndrome, the brain child of Inspired by Charity, a social enterprise, is scheduled to take place 16th-23rd August, 2014 in Tanzania.

The hiking party hopes to use the climb to raise awareness about Down syndrome and help to raise 10,000,000 naira for the Down Syndrome Foundation (DSF). DSF is a renowned charity that works to provide leadership, support and advocacy in all areas of concern as it relates to persons with Down syndrome in Nigeria.

Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding Mountain at 5,895m high, attracts over 40,000 people every year who seek to climb the mountain. Of the seven summits, it is the easiest to climb, requiring no ropes, or special mountaineering gears or previous climbing experience.

The Climb for Down Syndrome Party will be climbing through the Machame route, one of the seven routes to Uhuru summit. The choice of the route according to Dotun Eyinade, the convener is to ensure that everyone acclimatizes quickly and to increase the chances of success. “Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro remains a physical and mental challenge and for many of us it will be one of the most physically exacting things we would do in our youth” he added.  Inspired by Charity views the experience as more than an adventure but a purposeful intervention in  support of the Down Syndrome Foundation, as it executes its charitable mandate in providing critical succor to a vulnerable community. Eyinade, a Fellow with Acumen Fund said the team would leverage the media, especially new media platforms to raise awareness about Down syndrome and the Foundation. As socially minded professionals, we consider the hike a transformational experience, one which requires courage, grit and determination; we are excited about the prospect of using the hike to fundraise for Down syndrome foundation and help to place down syndrome on the front burners of public discourse again.

The professionals are drawn from the KPMG, Seven Energy, Generation Enterprise, Acumen Fund amongst others. Accordingly, Climb for Down Syndrome has received the endorsement of the Down Syndrome Foundation.This is a worthy and unique concept which I believe must be the first of its kind in our country. We would love to thank the team for believing in our cause and finding our Foundation worthy to benefit from this unique event,” said Mrs Rose Mordi, President, Down Syndrome Foundation.

Donations in support of the Climb can be made directly to the bank accounts of the Down Syndrome Foundation as well as on www.234give.com, a crowdfunding platform.


The climb is supported by Premium Times, The cable news, Development Diaries and the One Life initiative

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Virulent part 4 (pandemic)


“What do you mean they’d not apply the poison?” My wife asked for maybe the umpteenth time.

“Just that, Adunni. Chike asked me what poison we used and where we bought them. Why would he ask that question if they applied it?” I said, knowing that she was not exactly hot, but was warming up as her paranoia kicked in.

“Daddy twins, I can’t believe how easy you agree to his lies. He’s just trying to divert attention, especially since they left the cleaning to us?”

“No. He sounded very sincere to me.”

“He would, Dotun Akintoye, he would. You can so be gullible it hurts. Who would’ve spread the poison? Who else lives in this house with us? We didn’t apply it, so it must be them. I intend to speak to that condescending woman and her husband o. I don’t care if her father owns this house.”

“Calm down, Adunni,” I said, for she was already shouting, not caring if anyone was listening. “It could have come from any of the houses nearby. You know rats socialise a lot. One visit to a poisoned meat and the scourge spreads through the four legged kingdom.”

My intention was to diffuse the tension with some light humour. Her sour look at me told me humour would not work. I persisted, no humour though. My reward was the sight of her beautiful smile replacing her scowl. However, it would be much later that I found out my summary of the situation was right.
***

Life went back to normal, kind of, Adunni still refused to be on friendly terms with neighbours. We never saw another rat again, not inside the house, not within the compound. We felt that a good omen. We never talked much about the issue with the poison as my hypothesis of the poison’s source carried even with my cynical wife. Perhaps the neighbours had overheard my argument with Adunni about their culpability, because Chike never mentioned the issue to me again. Perhaps this was because there were no rats left to kill? Whatever the reason, I never asked.

We would have gone on living our lives, happy that the brief pauses and quick darts of the rats across the living room and those irksome scratches they inflict as they make their way across a sleeping body were now stories to be told with relief. We—I to be precise—maintained a somewhat cordial relationship with our neighbour, trading polite greetings and swallowing the anger of having to mow the lawn and care for the compound alone.


Things did not remain normal for too long. No, the rats did not come back, they never did. It was something worse that came.
***

It was late afternoon when I returned from picking the kids from school. Adunni’s car was in the car park but the silence of the house, despite the scent of fresh disinfectant, baffled me. The kids’ shriek of “mummy we’re home” went unanswered. I walked into the bedroom, checked the bathroom, the guest room, and kitchen too. Adunni was not in the house. A quick check at the backyard showed she had been weeding her vegetable patch. The old-style hoe she was very fond of was lying between the ridges she had made me dig for her beloved plants, beside the hoe where uprooted weeds with clumps of earth still attached.

I went back into the house, ignored the twins “where’s mummy” and stepped to the front yard. I was crossing the spiral stairs that led to the second floor when a faint whimper reached my ears. I paused, cups my hands to my ears. Sure enough, the sound came again, accompanied this time with soft whispers. I looked up. The window to the Nwaogu’s living room were open, the sounds came from there.

My legs where rubbery when I began walking up the stairs, and they got more so by the time I was turning the door handle to get into the room.

I opened the door and thrust my head in, the sight before me was enough to stop me in my tracks, and it did.
 Mrs. Bisi Nwaogu, Chike’s ajebuttter wife and my Adunni were in each other’s arms on the single settee in the Nwaogu’s sitting room.

I heard a noise behind me and turned to see the twins coming up the stairs. I pushed the door all the way open and stepped into the room, the twins came in behind me. I stood in the room, numb, saying nothing, staring at my wife and Chike’s wife.

 The twins stood beside me, silent, hanging to my hands as if staking territory, watching the scene.
“what’s going on here?” I asked.

The women, who until then were oblivious of my presence, turned to look at me.

No, not my Adunni, I know her well enough. There must be a reasonable explanation for what I am seeing, I thought.

I noticed tears on Bisi’s cheeks. Adunni was dry eyed, but I knew her enough to know that what I saw in her eyes was sorrow, tinged with something akin to fear.

“What is going on here?” I asked again.

Adunni did not pull away from the woman’s embrace. She opened her arms wide, beckoning on us to come to them. I held the Twins back, stood my ground, my eyebrows quirking, askance.

“Darling, did you not get my message?” Adunni asked.

Darling?  Could she be so brazen? She only calls me darling in the bedroom, the only place she lets go of that stern exterior of hers and lets me be boss. Yes, that is fear in her eyes.

“I did not, the twins were singing all through the drive back.” I said, throwing darts at her with my eyes, at least I thought I was.

Beside her, Mrs. Nwaogu went from gentile sobs to open wailing.

Adunni looked at her for a moment and shook her head sadly. I flexed my fingers, my hands felt limp. The bewildered twins squirmed out of my grasp and ran to their mother.

What the hell is going on?

 “Eko Atlantic City is under quarantine, Chike is there,” Adunni’s voice was flat and devoid of emotion, as if she announcing yet another curfew for the twins.

“Quarantine, what quarantine?” I asked, wondering what game they were playing at.

Adunni did not answer; she instead managed to free one hand from a twin and pointed. I followed her finger to the left and saw a hologram that filled one part of the sitting room.

All my attention, when we walked in, had been on the women on the couch. I had not even noticed the hologram.

In the projected image, men in protective gear were leading several sickly looking people into tents, others, too weak to walk, or perhaps dead, lay limp on stretchers. However, that was not what struck me. I stood there, stunned, trying, but failing to deny the suggestion that came to mind. The sick people all had bluish secretion coming out of their noses.

Captivated by what I was seeing, I moved closer. “How are you getting this?” I asked, noticing that the screen was without a media logo, so it could not be coming from a mainstream news outlet.

“Chike planted a spy camera yesterday. He suspected that something is going on and wanted to get first hand information. He says an epidemic is upon us. I told him not to go, I told him not to go.” Mrs Nwaogu said through her sobs.

“How come this is not on the news then?” I asked no one in particular.

“Chike’s camera’s streams to Bisi’s allincom, those are real-time images from his camera. I’ve tried reaching my colleagues in Eko Atlantic but the connection’s busy,” Adunni said, finally coming to stand beside me. The ever-perceptive twins stayed with the sobbing Mrs. Nwaogu.


To be continued...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Virulent Part 3 (car envy)


Never in all my years of rat baiting, poisoning and outright stumping, had I seen such secretions on dead rats.

“Don’t know,” Adunni turned to look at me, a worried look on her face, “Think this must be a reaction to the poison they ate, though I’ve never seen or heard of any substance that could cause this.”

“Neither have I,” I said, but I was sure I felt a twinge of recognition somewhere at the back of my mind. Not being much of the analytic thinker my wife and children are, I did not dwell on it.

I do not recall who suggested we check the rats already collected in the plastic bucket inside, but I recall it was my wife who suggested sending the twins back indoors, away from the excitement, but not before they had thoroughly scrubbed their hands with soap and rinsed it with water.

“Know what,” Adunni said to me as she closed the door behind the protesting twins she had just scolded thoroughly for acting naughty and not shutting up and doing what they were told, “What pains me is not that someone killed off these damn pests, but that that person is calmly watching behind a curtain while I clean the smelly mess.”

I did not respond, not that she expected me to. I know enough about the neighbours to know that the wife was not one to get her manicured nails dirty carrying garbage or smelly rats. Although the petite woman had not been wearing a surgical mask when I spied her earlier, I had expected to find if cupping her face. Without doubt, the stench would have reached their floor—it was that strong. Anyway, my wife insisted she was responsible for the bunch of dead rats thrown from the top floor towards the general direction of the bins. The husband would not be callous enough to not bring the rats down to the garbage, she said.

The husband, a jolly fellow with a taste for flashy cars, was a cyber journalist. Though I worked for myself as a building contractor, I made it a point of duty to leave home at the same time with the blue collars. As such, we ran into each other now and then as we readied our cars for the day. We do not talk about much–sports, a little bit of politics, how exorbitant car parts were getting, and of course, the newest 4X4s.

Anyway, it was on one of those mornings a few days after we had buried the last of the rats that I ran into the neighbour. Like me, he was on his way to work and had left the spiral staircase leading to their flat a few moments after I walked by. I turned at the sound of footsteps behind me to behold his sheepish grin. Why does that guy always appear to be laughing at something?

“Good morning Mr. Dotun,” he said with more enthusiasm than I had ever noticed in him.

“Good morning, Chike,” I responded, not willing to endure his habitual frown at any use of the officious ‘Mr.’ for him.

“Well,” that annoying smile crossed his face again, “we haven’t had the time to thank you for what you did with the rats.”

Despite myself, I felt a touch of anger. Not only was the guy trying to apologise for letting us clean up their mess, he even had the audacity to tell me “we haven’t had the time to thank you.” I bite down my anger and turned to him (yes, I had looked away to hide any tell tale sign).

“No problem Chike, the rats constituted a serious nuisance to us too, it was no bother.” I managed to say this with more civility than I had hoped possible in the circumstance. Anger and its attendant violence are so tedious. So, while the grimy job of finding and burying all the dead vermin was a lot of bother, I did not say so, couldn’t say so. I tend to leave all the heavy lifting to my wife. I am used to it.

We walked together to our cars. Mine was closer. I stood by and watched as the door of his opened on auto as the installed AI responded to his sub-vocalised command. I know I shouldn’t feel envy, but I couldn’t help myself when the cool smell of real leather hit me. Chike’s car was brand new, equipped with auto-nav and full body protective cocoon. It was the type of car the guys in my club were all salivating over. I looked away. I thumbed my remote, and my ever-reliable Tokunbo’s door slide open, silent as a night hunter, a conventional door, unlike Chike’s eagle wing affair. Yes, we did not have the “in vogue” feel of Chike’s Benz, but we are not far off—even if the look was of a third model Toyota Catcher, from five years back. Chai, it is not easy to not envy, not when the thing in question was parked opposite the disused storeroom I call my home office.

I was trying my best not to look back at Chike and his very becoming car interior when his voice forced me to turn again to behold that wonder on wheels, with its wing doors, now extended to their full height, appearing to kiss the skies. “By the way Mr. Dotun,” he began, eager like, “what kind of poison did you guys use? My wife and I had wondered for long whether it is a new variety. It sure doesn’t work like those stocked by rat-keller hawkers.”

I cannot exactly remember what I mumbled to Chike, whatever it was, it must have been satisfying for I recall stepping aside for him to edge past and with a cheerful wave of his hands, drive out of the auto-gate.

They did not apply the poison?

To be continued...

New to Virulent? Catch read the previous chapters via the links below. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Virulent Part 2 'What the rats foretold'


I did not think anything was amiss when rats no longer scurried across our living room, their movement only captured by the corner of the eyes.

This was because the rats tended to disappear, or reduce in number, from time to time: victims of poison or the stray cats that now and again made their home under the water tank at our backyard. Perhaps I should have been alarmed when less and less rats darted away from my headlights as my car felt its way into its customary parking space beside the large water tank where the charging units stood, regal, blinking in an electronic symphony. I was also not alarmed when first the compound and then the house proper was saturated by the stench of putrefying meat. I was not too bothered and easily laid the reason for the deaths squarely on a highly efficient poison.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Virulent: Part 1 (Dead cows on the street)


Dusk was playing a lullaby on the stained glass windows of the catholic cathedral across the street as I sit, pondering about life and death, in front of the blue and white tent that has served as home for my family for two weeks now. The tent, one of hundreds in an internally displaced refugee camp in Benin City, is part of a tent village. It started life as a screening centre but now houses more than a thousand families. The number will grow and this place will become crowded. We would have to move then, for more people would mean less hygiene and death would follow.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The life of a Soldier: Kabir Salisu, a Candle in the Wind



I don’t recall when I first met Kabir Salisu. It is very difficult to put dates to when you met people that you encountered when you were a kid. For Kabir Salisu, I could mention any date in the late 80s and it would be true. This is because at the time I was a student of Army Children School, New Cantonment ‘A’, Kabir was in Government Day Secondary School, a school that shared the same land with Army Children School and Command Children School. However, the more definite meeting came later when he was courting the lady that later became his wife. The then Miss Ofuoma Obruche lived at EB 2 Dutse Close, Angwa Shanu, Kaduna, the same house where I and my siblings were raised and which tend to find ample mention in my fiction and nonfiction.

I still recall, like it was yesterday, the group of dashing cadets that hung around the compound waiting to see Miss Obruche—I think a friend of his was at that time also courting another lady in our rather large tenement building.

I also recall that we danced all night when Kabir and Ufoma finally tied the knot in a simple ceremony that rightfully took place in Eb 2 Dutse Close.

So celebrated was the love the 2 couple shared that even when many of us moved away from Kaduna as life happened, we still kept in touch, still looked out for news of births, of marriages and… deaths.

With the coming of gsm and social media, keeping in touch became easier and one by one we all somehow reconnected on Facebook. Of the several success stories that this rekindling of contacts highlighted, Kabir’s growth as an army officer was the least surprising. A man whose humility and intelligence was obvious as first glance, his high flying career was no fluke.

I recall communicating with Kabir on Facebook when he was serving in Sudan and jokingly requesting for a Janjaweed scarf and him laughing and telling me: “ok, if that’s what you want, you will get it”. I recall him sending me his phone number when he returned to Nigeria, without my asking, and asking that I come and see him. It is to my eternal regret that I never took up that invitation, that I stayed away, luxuriating in the semi-closeness that is social media connectivity.

I can’t claim to be close to Kabir Salisu—his wife, family, colleagues and a host of others rightfully holds that distinction—but I knew him and followed his career keenly and fully expected him to reach the pinnacle of his profession.

I believed him to be one of the bright lights in a nation fighting to beat the encroaching dark. It is this light that has now been extinguished.

The much I know about him tells me that this humble man was a patriot and if we had more like him in Nigeria, we will do better as a country.

Kabir Salisu was killed fighting for his country on Monday, April 7 2014. He was a Colonel in the Nigerian Army. The last post under his name on Facebook was on the same day he died, it read: ‘The life of a soldier’.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Danfo Chronicles: When masquerades go to church and gays become criminals

It was a few years ago, at the time citizen news reportage was gaining traction across the nation, that news of masquerades meting out corporal punishment on miniskirt and trouser wearing young ladies somewhere in the Nsukka  axis reached social media.

As usual, the Nigerian social media reacted true to type with that outpouring of anger that occurs whenever vestiges of the ‘devilish’ past of our ancestors appear to be in conflict with the sacred untouchable manifestations of the new religion.

Caught up in outrage, most of us missed the big story, which was not that masquerades enforced a dress code, but that this dress code stemmed originally from the Christian church.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Old Van in a New Bus


Most people who use the danfo or any other yellow bus for commute through the mad dash that is the average Lagos route are not unaware of the fact that the cars served as a goods conveyance van in Europe, this hardly registers. However, even if they don’t know what for sure, they know the tokunbo cars must have served another purpose in its previous incarnation, especially when they contemplate the dress ripping makeshift seats and rough hewn windows that just about serve the purpose they were meant for. They know that the iron-rimmed seats are not standard issue, at least from whence they car came, and that the chance of bodily injury if an accident occurs was amplified by their addition. They know the drivers are largely reckless—early morning shot of paraga and Igbo reckless—and the buses disasters waiting to happen. They know this, but throw their lives into the arms of in-time-of-trouble-and-need-gods as they clamper aboard the buses every morning, afternoon and night. The need to transit overshadowing fear, caution, and whatever sense of impropriety they might feel.