"Healing, a simple act of kindness bring such meaning
A smile can change a life let's start believing
And feeling, let's start healing"

The GTBank "737 Moments" Commercial That I Was A Part of

One could say this commercial has literally colonized Nigeria. I hear it at every corner. It’s GTBank’s clever attempt to create something catchy from one of its widely-used products - the USSD code, *737. It is especially popular with young people. It only makes sense to create content that resonates with them. Hence, I teamed up with other creatives to create the commercial.

I’m proud to have been a part of it. It was quite an experience scripting it, casting the models, and especially working with a cool team.

Trevor Noah's Book Is a Beautiful Memoir

I finished reading Trevor Noah's memoir - "Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood". Simply put, Trevor's mum is a riot. No woman should go through her version of hell. And not many women have the doggedness that makes her the most admirable and pitiful character in the book. In a way, she reminds me of Frank McCourt's long-suffering mum in his epic memoir - "Angela's Ashes", only differing in her charming rebellion. She's introduced as unruly with a modicum of extreme piety, which makes her a good comic material for her narrating son. She risks herself in an apartheid South Africa to get pregnant for a white man and challenges everything that threatens to muffle her freedom. The biggest irony however is left for the ending pages where the once untamable lady resigns into a life of enduring domestic violence from Trevor's alcoholic step-father. The way he handles this aspect of his mum, one gets the sense that Trevor wrestles with the mystery of how women stay in abusive relationships.


Trevor finds her Christian piety funny. Some of the funniest passages are those where he argues with his mum about the role of Jesus in their lives. The mischievous child once poo-poos in the living room and the stench produces a community-wide panic that made his mum and grand mum suspect a demon. He finds the whole panic funny. It's easy to theorize that families like his are fertile triggers for a creative existence. Whereas his mum deploys Jesus, Bible and the Church as survival tools to navigate a crazy world, Trevor considers these Christian elements nothing more than placebos.

Dude has a healthy cynicism about the whole Christian enterprise. Again, one may theorize that he is like those kids whose extreme pious upbringing, spiced with enough liberal tension, prepare them for an adult life marked by cynicism or creativity - or in the extreme - Unbelief.

There are more thematic concerns in the book, including racial dynamics in South Africa, the struggles for love, etc. but I'm mostly fascinated by his profiling of his mum.

It's sheer brilliance how he blends the realities of ghetto, with his coming-of-age struggles, with his innocent love-life, with his family drama, against the backdrop of apartheid South Africa, all with his characteristic humor.

Charming Ads Promoting a Bookstore

The charm is in the text - "A Good Night Starts With a Good Story", and how it features characters from classics.

Kinokuniya in Dubai is the biggest bookstore I've ever entered. Since it's located within a big mall, I had to warn myself never to enter the bookstore if I planned to check other stores. The few times I forgot this warning, I ended up not visiting somewhere else. I was literally lost in it.

 "Charles Dickens"

"Charles Dickens"

 "Williams Shakespeare"

"Williams Shakespeare"

 "Jane Austen"

"Jane Austen"

My Family's Slave: An Epic Story

For a few days now, this article has been making the rounds on the internet. Some of my friends have read it and asked if I have too. Some shared excerpts on their social media accounts, which only heightened my restlessness. I figured it was a long piece so I shelved it for the weekend. I've just finished reading it. It's a depressing account of a reality that seems familiar but, as written, becomes more dispiriting in ways that tug at a fragile human capacity to absorb another's unfortunate misfortune. I couldn't finish it at a single read. No way. I needed breaks. Same way I read more miserable accounts - my favourite non-fictions nod to this type of narrative - Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes" fucked with my mind but the humour and the dazzling narration was enough to tame any possible melancholy that the book sought to evoke. Same as Dave Egger's "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius". I recovered from the misery of the books.

But this.

It's a long personal essay that exposes a family's treatment of a nanny, against the backdrop of America's promise of individual freedom and prosperity. It feels very familiar. Everyone can relate to the mistreatment of houseboy, housegirl, omo odo, house-help, house-maids, nanny, or whatever fancy name they are given these days. There's something inhumane and unforgiving about an economic and social arrangement that elects some people into domestic servitude, in ways that strip them of their humanity, that turns them into second-class, third-class citizens. This happens everywhere. They are the unreported victims of the darkest forms of domestic violence. Not those celebrities mining their domestic woes for showbiz attention. Not those attention seekers skewing details of their private frapapa or emotional imbalances to earn social media points.

I don't like the writer for how he held the narrative. It at once seemed unpretentious especially with the rather reader-friendly narration but you keep reading and then you realize that you're not being entertained. This is gloom. This is tales-by-moonlight with horror toppings.

The hero of this essay - there's really no way to describe her, was robbed of everything. I wanted to believe this is fiction but I realize that similar reality obtains. Growing up, I knew a family where the mother was so horrible I couldn't stand her even as her children and my siblings were acquainted. The way she treated those on her domestic salary roll was the stuff of Patience Ozokwor's witch characters, raised to power nuclear bipolar. She knew I didn't like her. But I still ate her food and played in her fine apartment.

Until there's a social arrangement that respects and protects domestic staff, I will never like the idea of house-helps. Maybe I'm just a silly empath.

I Agree: Political Satire is the Antidote to Trumpism (and Everything Else)

Despite the characteristic embarrassment and chaos of his presidency, some credits for Trump for ushering in an unprecedented wave of satire. And comedians are having a free cake. It’s a common refrain in discussions around creativity that creativity loves chaos. Trump provides comedians a dose of chaotic materials to work with.

We need Nigerian comedians to step up. It's my fantasy that comedians will be taken "seriously" here when they start probing fault lines, challenging social protocols and causing discomforts, of course, within reasonable boundaries. (Alibaba used to attempt political provocations during Obasanjo's era. Whatever happened to him. I think my favourite and smartest African comedian, Basketmouth, mellowed down on his materials after the supposed offensive rape joke. I had my reservations about the hoopla but I shelved it seeing the daggers aimed at him. But now, dude seems overly commercialized that I wonder if he hasn't compromised on the purity of his wit. Or maybe he's given in to the typical Nigerian quality of political and religious and tribal correctness).

I believe it's the finest comedian’s job, like the finest polemists - Christopher Hitchens, Adebayo Williams, Hunter S. Thompson, Abati (pre-Goodluck), Okey Ndibe, Gimba Kankada, etc., to challenge mediocrity, to discomfort the orthodoxy, to deliberately cross lines with the aim of pushing the society forward.

(I noticed a new show by Linda Ikeji, of a guy in a Late Night-type studio, making social commentaries. It looks cool, so far. I hope they can furnish their materials beyond the typical trope of yabbis humour. Provoke, people! Cross the line, people! The society would be better off. Or I should stop fantasizing).

That said, John Oliver and Trevor Noah are currently my favourite Trumpian satirists.