All posts by richardalijos

Lawyer, Poet, Author of the novel City of Memories.

Lost and Found in Morroco

June 30
Dinner at the Marrakesh Medina

The bane of the Nigerian traveller must be his bank issued Visa dollar card failing to work in a foreign country! Be rest assured I will call them first thing Monday and do some yelling. What saved me was a spare $100 I had else I wouldn’t have been able to pay for the hotel.

In changing said paper to #Moroccan dirhams (MADs), I took an adventure into the old city where I’m staying, in a bid to find a bureau de change. I managed to get lost promptly, found a bureau de change by mistake and got the MAD.

Though still lost, I decided to get dinner. Ordered this. About $6. Tasted okay but meh. But then, I was damn hungry!

How did I get “home”?

I’d downloaded the Google Maps for #Marrakech so I could use it offline. Just on a whim. It proved faithful where GT Bank failed me. I was able to amble about (longer days, shorter nights) and when in the general area, asked a group of kids who led me to the door.

Today’s lesson? Google Maps gets thumbs up. (Unnamed Nigerian) Bank gets a howl of outrage.

Good night.

– Ra.

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On The Rabat – Marrakesh Line

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One the Rabat – Marrakesh line

So, the decision to travel from #Rabat to #Marrakech by train was one of the best I’ve made. Very comfortable 2nd class cabin for $13, about a four hour trip.

Got a sense of #Morroco and its people. The kingdom is rapidly expanding its railways and transportation infrastructure. One senses a country of optimism and ambition to expand its stake in Africa. Nigeria can only cope if we get our act in order and fast.

Else, I’ll flip nationalities. Become #Rwandan or something.

Will share my photos. Here’s a selfie meantime, I was aiming for Indiana Jones as Nerdy Professor.

Wrote a new poem, the sketch of a travel piece as well as of a blog post so a very productive trip too.

– Ra.

The Banana Shot

The Banana Shot

(for Fati K.)

(i)

All the while you want to reach across the table

Place your thumb on her dimple

And say

—O Fati of the golden bed

Zahra of incense and mirrors,

Let me write a verse in sand

Show you a trick with words

That might be true

That I learned to do with a knife

But you say nothing

Her lips move and you think of the undressing of fruit

And long retired Italian footballers

(ii)

There must be a spider at the centre of the universe

That weaves the ways of men, that shapes the path

Whose breath is the wind that sets us to sea

In this life of meetings and partings

Finger prints are microcosmic

A dimple is space

(iii)

Roberto Carlos stands between heaven and earth

The wall of death before him, seeking immortality

The cheers of men behind him, the Spider

Leads the ball home to goal

As I to her

(iv)

I fly a kite over the great Sahara, wonder

Where Fati is right now, if she’d look

Up, if she’d see me thinking

Of her.

On Nostalgia for Destroyed Spaces

This morning seven years ago, I’d gone hiking up one of the Shere Hills (Moses Mountain, Zarazong) in Jos East with Dr. Babajide Agboola. I was skinny and fit once upon a time. True talk.

By the time we came down six hours later (it was a 3 hour trail), there’d been some civil crisis in #Jos. I had to take a very long detour with a brave okada man, skirting past villages beyond Rayfield, through quiet deserted roads, linking up at Sibancho junction then Old Airport to get to my house in Hwolshe which was normally less than 30 minutes away.

I miss those times when I could do stuff like three hour mountain treks. I miss my hometown, for its beauty and for what it used to be. Some say nostalgia keeps us focused, but can we not have nostalgia without the loss?

So, this one is for #Jos and for #Plateau. This one is for #PlateauTheBeautiful #Nigeria

– Ra.

On Swaziland’s declaring war on Nigeria

King Mswati III

TRANSCRIPT: SWAZILAND DECLARES WAR ON NIGERIA

As a result of Nigerian journalist, Richard Ali’s, satire published in The African, Swaziland declares war on Nigeria.

King Mswati: President of Nigeria, on guard! Swaziland hereby declares war on Nigeria.

President Buhari: *shocked silence* (dials the National Security Adviser). General Monguno, where exactly is this Swaziland?

NSA Monguno: Let me get back to you on that, Excellency.

(15 minutes later)

President Buhari: Ah, Your Highness. My people have been able to locate your country…

King Mswati: I will accept an unconditional surrender.

President Buhari: Your Highness…

King Mswati: I am My Royal Highness!

President Buhari: Sorry, Your Royal Highness. Are you aware Nigeria is located 7,000 kilometers from your, erm, country? That Nigeria is nearly 1,000,000 square kilometers in size, has one of the best militaries on the continent on top of 170 million very colorful people?

King Mswati: Hmmm. 170 million people, you say? Hold on, Mr. President.

(15 minutes later). Mr. President, I regret to inform you Swaziland will be withdrawing our declaration of war. Swaziland is a strict adherent of the Geneva Convention and we cannot treat 170 million prisoners of war as well as we should.

Source: Rauters.

On 2017

2017 has been a long year of facing the consequences of my choices. It’s strange to find out just how much you can insist on in service of your No, exhilarating and scary.

Love lost in ’16 became concrete and there was the delicious ability to interpret and understand how people are people. Compatibility came late with someone new who will not be staying too long either, a black box worthy of me, which is interesting to observe as it all complicates itself.

Travel was the high point of the year, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania and then Italy later on. As was my work as non-fiction editor at Panorama Journal. Passports and visas and worlds without borders is the point of platforms. The creation of platforms is my raison d’etre. The Konya Shamsrumi poetry press was started this year. At its centre is an unusual idea.

In this year, I understood that friendship is not worth it when you have widely different conceptions of what it means. What’s lost is a maybe-potential and that’s nothing at all really.

The end of my very brief “career” working in the public sector armed me with (sad) knowledge (of the true state of affairs) I wish I did not have, which will come in very usefully in the coming year. To be able to see your country clearly and holistically is an amazing thing. And the question of language comes up.

In this year, I have been happy for my mother as three of her kids got jobs in banking and with a government department. Off on their little starts. Sacrifice without pressure from a good heart over years should have this reward, the joy. My second sister also got an engagement ring two weeks ago which is very funny and sweet.

And, I learned that I am getting old and cannot multitask as I used to. While this realization is unlikely to change my nature, I doubt I will find myself doing less things at once all the time now, the need to hire people to execute things to expand the scope what can be achieved is inevitable and, with this, maybe I will be more effective than ’17. 2018 might just be the year I create a machine and maybe even set up a basic household too.

Lastly, I made money enough to be happy, which all said and done is a great thing.

Last last, I’d say ’17 was a fine year. 70% good to me. ’18 will see the consolidation of offices into which I came this year, and one other audacious gamble in the retail trade.

Happy new year in advance to everyone. One day slips into another. We live. And try to thrive. That is all.

– Ra.

On Culture

Qudus (left) and troupe performing at a show.

Qudus (left) and troupe performing at a show.

“Culture in my own opinion isn’t and can’t be for sale, to the highest bidder, culture is supposed to arm the proletariat, as to what is worthy of their actions, should be able to raise consciousness and empower people beyond the need for bread and butter, should be able to be a powerful sector for the reengineering of our value system, should be able to be a teacher like Fela Kuti said, culture and tradition should be a major signifier of our underlining philosophy as a people, who still has a lot to do with self imagination, and it is up to the culture people to make the power people understand this in ways at which they understand the importance of education, of security, of good roads and other sectors in which they invest heavily, without any question of how it adds to the gdp, because they know it does, in an abstract way.”

Qudus Onikeku.