Mayo Kam 

I am not originally a Backpacker®.

I only signed up for this trip because I was tired. I was tired of life.

I was tired of being alive. I actually went on that trip hoping to die. Misadventure, murder, animal attack… Anything. Even via the auspices of the pack of prescription sleeping tablets I had stashed away just in case my mind got made up.

Mayo Kam.

River Kam.

Yes, I believe ‘Mayo’ means ‘river’. The waters were deep, clean and cold. We were soberly lectured by the park rangers that a tourist fell in and drowned about a year ago. I so wished it had been me!

Listen, Mayo Kam is an excellent place to camp. Especially during the dry season when the waters have shrunk and left more sand and land in its wake. There is no mobile service in the Gashaka Gumti Game Reserve. If you are Nature’s kid, you have a home there. It is truly amazing. It is beautiful, pure and largely unsullied.

We were eleven Backpackers in all. Two heavily armed park rangers and four local fishermen that met up with us by the camp site.

Leinad, Raj, Rebecca, Henry, Bashiru, Noorah, Joanne, James, ‘Long John’, Sarai…and me. Enez.

Lovely, lovely people. Diverse experiences, countries and character. Never a dull moment with the Backpackers. Yet I was dead inside.

I was not sure of the time, but I was positive that the day was Saturday. For two reasons:- Firstly, there was going to be a Super moon tonight, and a lunar eclipse of some sort. Secondly, today was supposed to be my wedding day.

Cards printed. Venue paid for. Ivory white sleeveless wedding gown bought. Everyone that knew me in any capacity was aware. And why not? I was twenty five years old, I was in love with the only man I gave my spirit, soul and body to. He knew that even Jesus took a back seat when he arrived. Yet… Yet… He PUBLICLY called off the wedding after mandatory blood tests revealed that we were both HIV positive. As in, why?! Who does that?!! HE knew that he had infected me, I was his submissive emotionally and physically!

My mum consequently suffered a stroke. My dad tried to kill me twice. I tried to ‘kill me’ twice… I was the brunt of every joke. An object of pity and ridicule. The subject of many conversations. All of these inside a week.

And so I fled with the Backpackers, to this remote and dangerous adventure, hoping I would die. By my own hand or otherwise.

Leinad was making it hard though. To kill myself I mean. Or to even suffer injury for that matter. He was clearly interested in me. Men! They are so predictable, they would fuck anything given half the chance.

The fishermen arrived at dusk and immediately set about fishing roughly five hundred meters away upstream. They brought their own gear and so ours was redundant. While the rest of the female Backpackers fussed over roasting yam tubers and frying tomatoes, onions and peppers to make a sauce for the imminent fish, I somehow anchored three hooks together and found a spot on a boulder and began to fish.

Faithful and loyal Leinad tarried beside me in abject misery until my dark mood forced him to seek lighter spirits. He joined the group by the large fire and soon forgot about me.

A short time later, I got a bite and expertly reeled it in. It was a foot long indigenous catfish specie. It paled in comparison to the humongous sizes the fishermen were catching and so I killed it just as my dad taught me years ago and decided to use it as bait. I had just tossed my line into the water when I got called to supper. I wedged the flexible but strong fishing rod in a two foot deep crevice, and left.

I woke up reluctantly sometime during the night. I badly needed to pee, but my sleeping bag was very cosy. Besides everyone, including the park rangers, was asleep. I guessed that it was about midnight. It was pitch black outside the influence of the camp fire light.

One look at the sky decided me. I got up and walked towards the river and did my business in a hole I dug in the sand. I was just rounding up when I heard something thrashing about weakly in the water. I intuitively knew that my line had caught something big. I was up the boulder in a flash and back down with my fishing rod.

I think that all three hooks played a part in my catch. I think that the crevice helped wear down the fish. I think that the super moon and it’s unusual brightness lured that fish from the deep.

It was the largest fish I had ever seen in my life! It was not a shark or anything predatory. I think the locals call it ‘water elephant’ or ‘Giwan Ruwa’ in Hausa.

It was beautiful. I was not afraid. Death by this fish if it could would be welcome anyways. And so I darted knee deep into the treacherously cold and fast flowing water and dug my left hand into its gills and began pulling it ashore.

I came to pee in the bikini bottom of a two-piece swim suit, with just a hoodie over me and the bikini bottom. The rocks under the water were slippery and sharp. The humongous fish clearly did not want to leave the water… I was almost drowning within seven minutes.

Whatever I lack as a woman; big boobs, bubble butt et al… came to my aid that night. I used all of the six feet of lithe physiognomy I possessed to lever my catch out of the water.

The fish was only a little shorter than me. My left hand was still locked under it’s gills. That hand was now numb. I locked my right hand into the gills on the opposite side of its head, sidestepped the last foot or so onto the sand and lunged, pulled and lifted in one explosive move.

I landed on my right side painfully with the fish’s head between my thighs. Both my hands still gripping it tightly. I was exhausted! My breath was raggedy and labored. I was wet and cold, I was shivering and shuddering – (from hypothermia, shock and adrenaline).

As I slowly caught my breath, the fish too started to calm. As I slowly warmed up from the heat my body was producing, so did the fish.

But I knew that something was wrong… and so I slowly eased off my painfully cramped fingers and looked down at the fish.

It now had long hair and was a naked girl. I could feel her cheeks on the insides of my thighs. I could feel her cleavage on both sides of my right thigh.

I was by now hyperventilating in shock. But I was spent, lactic acid had built up to the detriment of my muscles. I simply could not move.

And then she started convulsing; flopping about in a most unnatural way. I did not need to be told, she was dying.

I successfully struggled to sit up. I held both her shoulders and began to push her back into the water… But the sand and my tired body impeded my noble intentions.

I began to weep. Not just because of there and then, but because of before. I finally got to cry at the injustices, at the curse of being a woman in Africa, at being ‘the weaker sex’. I was simply so exhausted and tired on the inside and outside. All I could do was to keep stroking her hair and back babbling, ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…’ over and over again.

I learned something that night; we are spirits and we live in physical bodies. At some point she stopped shivering and translated. I felt her leave. She was not her body, she was gone. Her body went limp, numb and cold. I saw her stand beside me wearing a look of slight confusion and wonder.

“Please, I didn’t mean to… I am so sorry!” Were my exact words to her.

She looked down at me for a while and then her beautiful face softened. She knelt beside me and then blew softly on my face, and then lightly kissed my lips.

“Enez…baby girl… Wake up!”

“Did you frigging catch this behemoth?!” Leinad’s handsome face inquired in disbelief.

It was about dawn, not quite bright yet. I made him help push the fish back in the water. We watched it bob in one spot eerily before it sank suddenly.

I shivered suddenly and hugged myself. To my utter amazement, I was bustier! I groped my new and improved breasts in confusion. I looked up at Leinad and the look of pure lust on his face terrified and thrilled me.

I am no longer ill. Have not been ill since that day, not a cold, rash or headache. I am at peace. I am rich and I am wealthy. I am happy.

P. S: “Please, I didn’t mean to… I am so sorry!”

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The Auditor 

Felix realized too late that he had made a mistake. 

Chibuzor was too much of an ass to be this nice. Plus, the shady character Chibuzor had arrived with did not help curb his feeling of foreboding. 

As they both leaned over his shoulder, their fetid halitoses reeked of cannabis. That fact did little to ease his growing sense of unease. 

They had both failed his subtle tests of focus and concentration, they were clearly too high to vet or verify his accounting. So, they were in his hotel room for something else. 

 “Does the printer have paper at all?” He casually asked glancing toward his right hand side. 

Predictably, Chibuzor went towards the contraption, Felix rose swiftly but the other character was faster. Felix felt the sharp prick in his buttocks through his pajama bottoms. He immediately delivered a mule kick backwards. The grunt and satisfying squelch of the characters’ testicles was all the proof he needed as assurance of success. 

He swung his laptop viciously into the head of Chibuzor in one fluid motion. Chibuzor crumbled noiselessly. 

He felt the debilitating pain seconds later. He collapsed gently. From the floor he groped for his infinix hot note 2 on the table and feverishly punched in his password. He opened the application be was looking for and hit ‘OK’. With rapidly blurring vision he inputed his secret password and pressed ‘OK’ again. 

He managed to lock his screen just as the most intense flash of pain shot from his heart to his brain…and then everything went black… 


Monica sat forward, I had her attention. Her identical twin Monique favored me with intense scrutiny. 

They were usually very attractive sisters. Exaggerated vital statistics on women that were not tall… A very pleasant sight to behold, very easy on the eyes and soul. Please take it from me. 
I have been Felix’s account officer for over a year now. 
He was transferred into town to be with his wife Monica. They had been married for a little under two years. 

Felix came into town with his social guns blazing. He was a HASHER® through and through. A MANTREKKER® also… He was a very active participant in both hiking associations. He naturally (as an accountant and a Certified Financial Analyst) handled the post of treasurer in both groups. All payments for hikes and tours were made to and through his accounts. He was impeccable with money. The HASH® was almost three hundred members strong. MANTREKKERS® about a hundred and fifty members. The sheer volume of bookkeeping he had to handle was bewildering. Yet his finances were always conducted and balanced impeccably. 

I watched as tears coursed down her face as I handed over Felix’s statement of account and the contents of his safety deposit box. 

Ordinarily, your husband owning a home in a decent part of town should be good news. But this was a unique situation. 

Ordinarily, your husband transferring a hundred million in cash to your company account should be good news. But this was a very unique situation. 

Ordinarily, your husband making you his next of kin to his estate which included accounts totaling hundreds of millions should be good news. But this was one hell of a unique situation. 

The commotion outside was becoming calamitous. I rose and held out my hand to her, weeping she took my hand and rose. I led her outside… I made sure I had my arm around Monique’s waist, I had long range plans for her. She hadn’t gotten that memo yet. 

We were greeted by  a cacophony of cheers, screams, catcalls and a rousing ovation. 

“God bless you madam!”

“Oga Felix dey for heaven!”

“We are solidly behind you!”

“Aunty, nothing do you!”

I watched Monica’s face as it froze in a curious mask of sorrow, surprise, shock and happiness. Over three hundred people were gathered within the grounds and outside the gates. Powerbikes could be heard lustily roaring nearby. 

Felix was a ‘biker’ too. 

Monica glanced at me in dire need of some explanation. I drew her voluptuous twin tighter to me as I elucidated. 

To say Felix committed suicide was as ridiculous and as improbable as a child meeting a suicidal tiger for a Chicken Caesar salad in a restaurant in Abu Dhabi. 

To say that Felix embezzled close to a billion naira was as ridiculous and as improbable as a child having sex with an unimpaired giraffe in the middle of Trafalgar square. 

Yet, the official cause of death reported was suicide.

Yet, Felix’s office had attempted to freeze his accounts through various antigraft agencies and via multiple court injunctions, citing fraud. 

He had been in touch with me the entire time he was auditing the company headquarters in Lagos.

Felix was my friend, we go way back. He was a hothead. A speed freak. A gym rat. And a very good and honest Christian. His word was his bond. He had integrity. 

He was the natural choice to head the audit of the curiously defunct head office. Within days he had evidence on the scope and magnitude of a number of large-scale fraud.

And he would not play ‘ball’. 

One of the drawbacks of wire transfers… About a billion Naira was wired into his account overnight and the perpetrators sought to blackmail him. Either way, he was screwed he told me. These people were old aristocracy, had old ties in government and with access to old enchantments. 

One of the drawbacks of Internet money transfers (and an account officer that is your friend and high up the management ladder); at some point before he died, Felix transferred millions of Naira from the cash intended for his blackmail into the accounts of every HASHER®, MANTREKKER®, CHOIR MEMBER, BIKER AND FRIEND. It would seem that every account detail he ever handled, he inexplicably stored. It seemed that Felix transferred at least a million Naira to every account he could remember just before he died. 

The crowd here comprised of gratefully ecstatic Hashers®, Mantrekkers® et al, gathered to offer thanks (and swear allegiance and protection) to his widow, Monica. 

The Eleventh Commandment

I was standing upstairs on my balcony one hand on the steel railing. The other hand a scalding hot mug of herbal infusions.
The door of my neighbors balcony slid noisily open. 

Just then my totally impossible sibling joined me outside. 



She was wearing a kimono. No hijab this morning. Her beauty is exotic. Smiling she faced me squarely. Eyes locked. Then she curtsied and then bowed in greeting. I raised my hand in reply. She turned and sashayed back inside.

“Dude what the hell was that?!” I turned to smile at his handsome features.

As I opened my mouth to explain he quipped, 



“Nigga, I know you’ve heard of the eleventh commandment?”



I turned away. Yeah, yeah…

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I stay in the heart of town.

Four majestically built semi detached units of condominiums atop an exclusive piece of prime real estate.
The mini estate is surrounded by droves of pine trees planted as one would erect a fence.
Wind blowing through the pine tree leaves cause a soothing orchestra of whistles to continuously delight the senses. Hence the name ‘Whispering Droves’.

The horticulture is groomed from flower beds to an orchard to hanging gardens.
The constant release of oxygen by the plants leave residents euphoric and mellow if you sat outside, on your porch or balcony.

The overall effect is an impression of class, taste, opulence and affluence.

It is a very highbrow part of town. It is frightfully expensive leasing or owning a condominium here.
Naturally, we the residents, know that each of us (here living) is stupendously privileged.
Naturally, we the rich, then proceed to snob and ignore each other. We are isolated and private.

Apparently the condo to my left was not yet sold. When the fact got to my notice I immediately set to acquiring it. I lost the bid ultimately, someone richer (or more desperate) won.
I have nurtured a mild curiosity about the identity of the buyer.

Six months later a portly Muslim gentleman showed up with a lady covered head to toe in a hijab. The street was blocked off by cars, vans, trucks and a cargo container for about six hours. There were mobile policemen, police dogs, a few soldiers, a dozen aides and even a holy man…according to my CCTV.

My CCTV impartially revealed that my neighbor was the real deal. He did not disappoint.
The Whispering Droves was back to normal by the time I got back home.

The previously empty house now boasted of two G-Wagon Mercedes Benz’s. One white, the other black.
The motion-triggered security lights and the ominous non-blinking red-eye of motion – sensor CCTV were all the signs I needed to show me I had new neighbors.

I saw him on the playback of my security footage. I know him by reputation. He is high up in government. He is a big deal.

But I am bigger, richer too.

I have bribed him twice to win a contract or two. He could not afford to live here. The cost of the condominium was slightly lower than his net worth. It made no sense to me why he would use all his money to buy a condo.

Over the next few weeks I became better enlightened. Whilst on an official trip to Egypt with our president (yes he works with the President, blow me!), he met an oil tycoon and a lucrative business concept bloomed into a mutually beneficial concern. As a pious Muslim, entitled to four wives, the first daughter of the Egyptian was given to my neighbor as a wife.
The business concern was not yet profitable, but it was a certain cash cow. He wanted this wife away from the others. He was living above his means. He had married upwards into the upper echelon of society and was keeping up with the proverbial Joneses.

He was 69 years old at the time. She was 23. Thank God for the Internet.

Surely you know by now that I am the creepiest neighbour ever?

He developed a pattern; one week with his bride, one week off. These days, less than six months later his comings and goings were as predictable and as beneficial (to a roadside hawker) as global crude oil prices.

She hardly came out. She was depressed, repressed and bored shitless. Do not ask me how I know, but I am right.

She did patronize a skinny and unkempt ‘foreign’ tea vendor.
The unbelievably dirty, scruffily-turbaned and berobed ones that constantly hold blackened aluminum kettles with attached braziers that seem to contain tea or coffee. I know you know what I mean.

I did not like the character of the man. He was a lech and had a very shifty mien. I naturally do not like many people (blow me!), but this man I particularly detested.
He was trouble loading… 78%…

The security outfit contracted by The Whispering Droves was robust. Hawking, soliciting and sightseeing were banned.
One of those security men was ‘foreign’ however, so I understood how this scallywag always gained entrance. In all fairness, the said scallywag always presented himself at her electronically controlled gate. He never buzzed, he would just stand by the gate and in less than ten seconds it would slide noiselessly open. In another fifteen seconds she would saunter out holding a mug which he would fill up. They would chat in Arabic for about thirty seconds and then she would go in to get some money. Come out and pay him and never collected change. He would get up and leave. One minute thirty seconds maximum. Every day.

He would ogle and drool whenever her back was turned to him.
Over time it seemed like she had taken to not wearing anything under her hijab. If my CCTV could pick up that detail, I am sure Mallam scallywag could too.

I work from home. I get to see a lot of my environment.
One day he actually stood up to push down, pat, and lasciviously stroke an obvious erection.

I know things. It has always been my strength. Give me variables and constants. I can give you permutations of possible outcomes with ninety-plus percentages of certainty.

The next day I was on the porch in my rocking chair hidden from view. Mallam scallywag presented himself as usual.
When she went inside to get money, he noiselessly followed her inside. Even though I anticipated his move I did not see or hear anything. It was her muffled yelp that galvanized me into action.

I was at her door in seconds. Luckily the door was slightly ajar. I walked in and saw that he had her facedown on a plush settee. His hand was pressing her face into the seat of the rich leather. He had simply flipped the hijab over her head. She was stark naked underneath. She was flailing ineffectively, he was fumbling with his robes trying to extract the cause and proof of his temporary insanity.

He freed his uncircumcised phallus. It was turgid and hideous to me. I waited until he bucked backwards to drive the devious tissue into her unwilling orifice, before I struck him on the temple with my baseball bat. He fell forward atop her.

Wheezing and suddenly able to lift her head she pulled free. His weight combined with the smoothness of her silk hijab and I’m sure, her smooth skin simply peeled the rest of the garment over her head.

She suddenly stood before me in her total glory. Her robust and gravity-defying bust heaving as she gasped for air into already tortured lungs. The result was a violent bout of coughing.

Her eyes were bloodshot. The cruelty had caused a capillary to burst in her left eye. That one was blood red. She was in a state of shock, she was retching and drooling, coughing and fainting…

Incredibly I sensed rather than saw her reaching out for me as she fell forward in a dead faint. Funny thing is that I broke her fall only by reacting from pure reflex. You see, seconds earlier I had turned my back to afford her some privacy. I caught her by the elbows and gently laid her on the pure white angora rug beneath a curiously low ornate center table.

She came to about thirty minutes later with a moan of sorrow. Her eyes instantly alert. She clutched her bosom and started to sit up, confusion etched upon her stunningly beautiful features as she found herself fully clothed.

“How are you feeling?” I gently probed.

She held her heart with one hand, the other a fistful of her hair and began gently swaying from side to side wailing softly in Arabic. It sounded like she was mourning. She was distraught.

“Tell me what happened luv.” I ventured again.

Slowly, she started to tell me what I already knew.
In truth, she was reporting herself. She recounted the scenario like she was the guilty one. She came off sounding like she was damaged goods.

I could empathize:-
1) Two men that were not her husband had seen her, a Muslim woman not only without her veil, but naked as well.
2) She was almost raped, though I suspect she was not quite sure at the moment if she had indeed been raped or not.
3)I would call security and her husband would be called in. The inevitable investigation by her husband, the police and estate security. The disgrace, the shame, the dishonour to her husband and family back home.

“Where is your attacker? ” I asked rudely.

She froze and frantically started to look around the opulent living room. She eyes came back to rest on mine. Confused.

“What did you say happened here?” I asked. This time I allowed ambiguity and neutrality creep into my voice.

She stammered and mumbled incoherently.

“Nothing happened luv. I am not even here.” I answered.

I watched her face entertain suspicion as she gauged me. It shone briefly as the plausibility of hope illuminated her grim reality. Then her face crumbled into grief, then tears as she gazed into my face.

“Help… Please…” she begged with a lilting, throaty whisper.

I stood up nonchalantly and made for her front door. I remember turning and telling her only those in trouble needed help. I told her I was never here. I told her she had had a bad dream. But that it was over. The situation was a figment of her imagination.

She held my gaze for a long time. She took her time processing the reality of what had happened versus the promise of what I was saying.

Her eyes took in my tattoos, my henna-tinged full afro of dread-locked hair, my earrings, the rings and bracelets I was wearing… And misjudged me to be someone, something I am not. She nodded in agreement and smiled for the first time.

“Thank you.” she said with a curtsy and then a bow.

“For what?” I replied with a wan smile and returned home.

This incident took place a year ago.

Since the incident, regardless of witnesses about, as soon as she sighted me she would stop. Turn to face me, curtsy… And then bow. No matter the distance, her eyes would be riveted to mine. As long as she saw me that ritual was inevitable. One year and counting.

Her husband passed away last week.

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My Oga (Boss) At The Top

Charles was always the epitome of the henpecked husband.
I suspect a bit of a cuckold too.

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He is married to the most cantankerous and the most garrulous woman you would ever see.

He is as skinny as she is fat.
As silent as she is loud.
As intelligent as she is… (Charles is going to read this story. Fill in the blanks for me).

They are a mismatch formerly made in Heaven. But currently living, (and with full recourse to emotional abuse) in Hell.

He is such a nerd.
A very rich and wealthy nerd.
An architect per excellence.
Brilliant, brilliant mind… I’m not saying these just because he is my mentor. Seriously, his intelligence quotient is stratospheric.

I have been trying to be his friend for years. Rather unsuccessfully I am afraid.
So I switched tactics and tried baiting him with sweet business ‘connects’.
Hey, choose your company wisely, you will ultimately mirror them.

Unfortunately, I am a mere protocol officer he met thrice at separate fundraising dinners; the Hilton, the International Conference Center and the Sheraton. I have kept in touch. I need him permanently on my contact VIP list.

I am a CDM – a Can-Do-Man.
You have a problem, come sit and talk with me. I will find you a ‘connect’. For a small fee of course.
I am a high network individual… That is why I graduated with a very weak “Pass” from the University… I was networking, building my wealth of contacts. Hehehehe…

I like people. People like me. I make friends easily. I am dependable once I commit.

I know models, pastors, plumbers, assassins, dancers, real estate agents, prostitutes, policemen, politicians, judges, all sorts.

And I know Linda. (yes, real name withheld.)

If you lived in Abuja, and frequented ‘hot spots’ there, you would know Linda too. (yes, real name withheld).
Beautiful, eloquent, curvaceous socialite. She is a valued friend. Yet we know nothing of each other.
Except that she drives a Range Rover Evoque and is a bona fide millionaire. Money earned from a jewellery franchise and some high profile agency commissions from sales of property.

There exist rumors that she is a lesbian.

There exist rumors that she is the mistress of a billionaire businessman.

There exist rumors that she had her fiance killed and then used for a money ritual to get rich.

Yeah… The circles I roll in… Sigh.

Charles recently ran into a glitch. His firm was awarded a contract worth hundreds of millions to build low cost housing units for a state in Nigeria. The commissioner of works and housing was being difficult. I overheard him complaining to someone over the phone last week.

I dug deep and pulled some favors. The said commissioner agreed to sit and talk with Charles whenever he (the commissioner) was in Abuja. He was in Abuja yesterday morning and called me up. I convinced him to accompany me to Charles’ house later that evening. He agreed.

I have never been invited to Charles’ house. But I know the address. His mansion sits atop a knoll in Ministers Hill, Maitama. I was going to gatecrash knowing I would be forgiven and then loved for doing so.

We drove into the grounds of Charles’ spectacular edifice at about 8 pm. We were using the commissioners convoy; pilot, escort, sirens. We were ushered in speedily at the gate.

His staff saw us into the waiting room and a maid came to offer us refreshments. I was standing by a handsome fireplace admiring an exquisite painting at the time. I heard the commissioner request for some soda with ice.
Through my peripheral, I saw that the maid was dressed, uhmmmm, like a maid. In a proper ‘maid’ uniform (stop being stingy, if you know what the uniform is called, inbox me. Politely!) .
I saw her walk toward me and I turned to face her.

Few things have the ability to shock me. But this situation stunned me into inactivity and silence.

Linda (yes, real name withheld) was the maid.

She looked at me like she had just seen the grim reaper.
My body felt like I gazed into Medusa’s eyes. I was a breathing statue.

I heard Charles’ wife coarsely screaming instructions as she approached the waiting room. She barged in like a frenzied baby elephant escaping from poachers. Charles was trailing docilely. His head down.

She barged in from my right hand side and made a beeline for me. Her eyes scrutinizing my face in search of recognition. Her eyes momentarily settled on Linda. That look alone conveyed disgust, contempt and dismissal. Linda excused herself and I saw her walk past Charles. She must have given him a signal of some sort, because he turned on a dime and speedily followed her out of the room.

I introduced myself and the honourable commissioner. Just then Charles walked back in. I made the introductions again and after they shook hands, Charles clasped my hand in both of his. Pumping it gently, warmly. He was pleased.

Linda walked in with the beverage for the commissioner. She asked what I would care for. Before I could reply, Charles insisted that we raid his bar together. Dismissed, she quietly left. The commissioner was making small talk with Charles’ wife.

Charles guided me out of the room through another door.

“I see you know Linda.” He quietly stated.

“We are acquaintances.” I offered.

“She works here, and I would like that fact kept as a secret. Can I count on your silence?”

His body language was suddenly assertive. His eyes glittered almost maniacally. His spine erect. His enunciation so crisp that his lips and teeth curled into a snarl each time he spoke.

It was in that instant I saw the real Charles. I understood right then how he built and maintained his vast wealth.
In that instant I saw many things.

“You’re shagging your maid. I get it, my lips are sealed.” I assured him with a wan smile and a wink.

“No.” He corrected me with a righteous wince of tolerance,
“My girlfriend works in my home as a maid. Outside of Linda and I, you’re the only other person that knows. I would have it kept just like that.”

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Of a truth, an elephant can fly.

A myriad of thoughts flew about in my mind. And I arrived at the conclusion that Charles was perhaps one of the most dangerous and the most ruthless men I know.
Keeping up the appearance of timidity and somehow managing to get your lover employed as a maid under your wife’s nose was brutal, cunning and almost downright devilish.

I whispered in total submission, “Master, teach me!”

He stared at me for a moment and then threw his head back roaring with laughter.

“Come, let us go and make some money first.” He answered.

Myths About Naira Devaluation

…according to the data, we do not have an import problem… However, we do have an export problem, highlighted by the fact that crude oil accounts for 90% of our recorded exports and crude oil prices are volatile. Recognising this key difference between an import problem and an export problem is very important because it determines that kinds of policies that should be implemented. Import substitution policies and policies that look to limit imports probably won’t work because they do nothing to tackle the real problem, which is an export one.

The naira issue has been the topic of debate for a while now. Should we devalue or not? Can we cope with the effect of a devaluation? What happens if we don’t? And so on. Over the next few days, I and other colleagues-experts in their fields-will give views on a variety of issues regarding the naira devaluation debate.

To kick things off, it is useful to discard some bad ideas which have been tossed around for a while.

Bigger Number = Stronger Currency?

The first myth to debunk is the false idea that if you exchange a bigger number for a smaller number then the currency with a bigger number is weaker than the currency with a smaller number. You typically hear people say:“Wow, one dollar is exchanging for 16 rand. The rand is weak. The dollar is strong.” That kind of thinking is faulty mostly because it doesn’t take into account the purchasing power behind the currency.

For example, if an individual living in the US earns 300 dollars a month, then that is technically identical to an individual in South Africa earning 4800 rands a month, given that 1 US dollar exchanges for 16 rands. So long as that exchange rate holds then the rand is not weak or strong, it’s just the rand.

In reality, the strength or weakness of a currency has little do with what the actual exchange rate is. So although one Ghanaian cedi exchanges for 30 Japanese yen, you cannot say the cedi is stronger than the yen. Similarly, although one Turkish lira exchanges for six Mexican pesos, you cannot say the lira is strong and the peso is weak. That would be wrong.

In reality, the strength or weakness of a currency has little do with what the actual exchange rate is. So although one Ghanaian cedi exchanges for 30 Japanese yen, you cannot say the cedi is stronger than the yen. Similarly, although one Turkish lira exchanges for six Mexican pesos, you cannot say the lira is strong and the peso is weak. That would be wrong.

What then determines a currency that is “weak” or “strong”?

A weak or strong currency is one that is changing, or that everybody expects to change soon. For example, if the naira changes from 150 to the US dollar to 165 to the US dollar, then during the period the change is taking place the naira is relatively weak and the dollar is relatively strong. The same applies if the currency is expected to change soon. If everyone expects the naira to change from 197 per US dollar to 300 per US dollar, then the naira is weak relative to the dollar. The weakness persists as long as the expectations about the change persist. If the change eventually happens, the naira moves to 300 to a dollar, and everyone believes that is the end of it, then the naira is no longer weak. It is just the naira.

Weak Currency = Bad Economy?

The second myth to dispel is the idea that a country whose currency weakens consistently over time cannot grow. This could not be further from the truth.

The poster child of why weakening currencies do not imply slow growth is South Korea. South Korea grew its GDP per capita from about 1100 US dollars in 1960 to about 24,500 in 2014. What happened to its currency over the period? In 1960 one US dollar exchanged for about 63 won. Today one US dollar exchanges for almost 1200 won. In short, over the period where South Korea has “developed”, its currency has also weakened consistently.

…a currency that loses value over time is not the doom it is made out to be.

Similar patterns can be seen for some of the other fastest growing economies over the period, such as Chile, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The majority have grown relatively quickly even with weakening currencies. In fact, many countries try to weaken their currencies to boost growth. One of goals of Abenomics, a fancy name for policies implemented by the Japanese Prime Minister, was a devaluation of the yen to boost growth. China was accused for years of artificially weakening its currency.

There are many other examples from around the world. The Vietnamese dong trades at 22300 per US dollar today from about one dong per US dollar in 1983 and Vietnam still managed to grow at an average of 6.5% per year over the period. The Indonesian rupah trades at 11,800 per US dollar today from about 600 rupahs per US dollar in 1980 and Indonesia also still managed to grow at an average of 7% per year over the period. Bottom line, a currency that loses value over time is not the doom it is made out to be.

Devaluation = Uncontrollable Inflation?

The third myth is the idea that devaluations lead to runaway inflation, an idea that is not technically true. To be clear, devaluations do lead to inflation but not nearly as much as people think.

For example, the South African rand has devalued by about 40% in the last year yet inflation has ticked up by less than one percentage point to 5.2% from 4.4% a year ago. The Russian rubble has devalued by 126% since the middle of 2014 yet inflation has gone from 8% in mid-July of 2014 to about 13% today, although it peaked at around 16%. A significant increase, but nowhere near catastrophic.

…the reality is, devaluations do cause inflation but not that much… Ironically, according to some studies, the black market premium, i.e. the difference between the official exchange rate and the black market exchange rate is a bigger driver of inflation than devaluations.

Finally, we can look at Nigeria where the naira lost about 20% of its value between October 2014 and March 2015. Despite the devaluation, inflation, which was about 8% then, is still below 10%. If you add the fact that the dollar prices of some of our largest imports, fuel and wheat, have fallen to almost record lows then the inflation worry is minute.

So the reality is, devaluations do cause inflation but not that much. Despite a devaluation, the Central Bank still has lots of tools at its disposal to keep inflation in check. Ironically, according to some studies, the black market premium, i.e. the difference between the official exchange rate and the black market exchange rate is a bigger driver of inflation than devaluations.

Does Nigeria Have An Import Problem?

The final myth to bust is the idea that Nigeria has an import problem. You typically hear statements like “How can we be importing everything from toothpicks to fish. It is unsustainable.” Often left out of such statements is the fact that we have a N90tn economy. And you cannot have a N90tn economy that does not import. Is it odd that a N90tn economy would import N100bn worth of building materials or N26bn worth of shoes? No it’s not.

According to comparable data compiled by the World Bank, Nigeria imported only about 12.5% of GDP in 2014. Of the 160 countries for which the World Bank has data available, Nigeria had the lowest imports to GDP ratio. Côte d’Ivoire imported about 38.9% of GDP in 2014, Ghana imported about 48.9%, Mauritius imported about 63%, Belgium about 83.1% and Ireland about 95.4% of GDP.

Of the 160 countries for which the World Bank has data available, Nigeria had the lowest imports to GDP ratio.

So according to the data, we do not have an import problem. Even if you assume that 50% of our imports go unrecorded, that still leaves us at a healthy 25% of GDP, which is still not a problem.

However, we do have an export problem, highlighted by the fact that crude oil accounts for 90% of our recorded exports and crude oil prices are volatile. Recognising this key difference between an import problem and an export problem is very important because it determines that kinds of policies that should be implemented. Import substitution policies and policies that look to limit imports probably won’t work because they do nothing to tackle the real problem, which is an export one.

Nonso Obikili holds a PhD in economics and works as a researcher and consultant. He has published peer-reviewed articles in various international academic journals and blogs frequently on Nigerian economic issues. Follow him on twitter: @nonso2.

The Writers Wife

Trust me I understand his absences.

Was it not I, his official muse, that set him upon this path?

He is all over the world now; awards, book signings, book readings, CNN, even Bollywood want deals.

He is in Abu Dhabi this weekend… Al Jazeera interview slash a book signing.
And I’m stuck in Abuja presently… Tormented by our two boisterous kids, kids I’m struggling not to kill.

What manner of person travels on Valentine’s day?
Without recourse to the marginal propensity of forfeiture of life? Only my husband!

In fairness to him, he accepted the dates months ago. He told me, and I accepted. But I didn’t know it would be this fourteenth of February!
It sounded like just another day nine months ago.

So I picked up my Sony video camera, the youngest of our two kids and then headed to the man-made Jabi Lake to make and record some memories of my Prince for posterity.

Our daughter looks like her dad.
Our son looks like me.
Our son is me.
He is without doubt the cutest two year old I know. Trust me, its not just because he is my son. He is beautiful.

I had him on the screen of my video camera wearing a life jacket, rain boots and gleefully waving at me. His vocabulary isn’t quite there yet, so his replies to my questions are dazzling smiles and waves.

We are at the water front. The spot is ours. It’s about five thirty pm. There are a few people scattered along the water front to my right. But about half a kilometre away.

My phone rings.

I look away from the video camera propped on a tripod stand to my phone. It’s his dad. Smiling I pick up and look back into my video screen.
Duration of the action, five seconds or less.

My son is still playing about two metres from the water front. Still speaking on the phone I straighten up to ease my eyes and stretch my arched back.
As I lift up my eyes to see my son in real time, I see my son standing face to face with another child. A baby girl. About his age.

I remember looking back into the screen and back at my son, over and over and over again…
All I could see was my son with another child whose image wasn’t coming up on my screen!
On tape, on my screen he was alone. But from where I was ten meters away he was clearly with another female child.

I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs.
I believe that evil exists and I believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. I crossed the distance in seconds screaming my son’s name.

I knelt down in the sand and protectively cradled his startled body. He tried to squirm free, simultaneously pointing to his new companion.
Heart thunderously beating I followed his finger. Sure enough, she was still there.

She was a beautiful girl. Almost too beautiful in fact. Upon closer inspection she seemed to be about four years old. But her eyes…her eyes were older, like the eyes of a twenty year old. She had on a wet, simple cotton dress. Her natural – looking hair was braided all the way back, down to her waist. Very intrinsic braids.
The pattern and style of her hair I had not seen before.

Her gaze and smiles were for my son only. She ignored me completely. Like I was not there. My son was as though hypnotised, he was smiling back arm stretched out toward her.

He kept squirming and trying to pull free of my grip, fully intent on holding the equally outstretched hand of the girl. Puzzled I held on tighter, their eyes were locked on each other. Arms stretched out, straining to clasp. I innately knew that my sons hand could not be allowed to touch the girls hand.

He suddenly threw his head backward, I reflexively turned my face to avoid the reverse head butt hitting my nose. He caught my bottom lip, I felt it split open like a ripe mango hitting the ground. The pain was searing and debilitating, the only two reactions I could manage was to hold him tighter and to cry out “Jesus!”

Instantly he relaxed and whirled round to embrace me. Face in my neck.
The spell was broken.
I could feel blood from my split lip running down and onto the back of his t-shirt.

For the first time, the little girl locked eyes with me. Her arm was still outstretched, but she was no longer smiling.

The malice and hatred she bestowed with her looks upon me could tenderize elephant meat.

I saw malevolence in her eyes. I saw lust. I saw covetousness.
And I saw love. Yes love… For my boy.
She wanted him.

Mothers worldwide can back me up on this; that instinct, that mummy thing just welled up from within me and burst. My eyes blurred in blind rage, I rose to my feet speaking in a tongue previously unknown to me… She recoiled in terror backing up into the water.

I held her gaze, my son and those strange words…she glared at me and then screamed, her tiny mouth wide open. I could see all the way down her throat… But no sound came out.

She pointed ominously at me and then dove into the murky waters… and until I gathered my stuff and beat a hasty retreat to my car I did not see her again.

Book Promotion: “1” By Dan Ochu-Baiye

My first e-book is suddenly making waves.

Funny because it’s been over a year published exclusively on Amazon.

Just in case you missed it, I think you should check it out.

Remember the popular quote about not judging a book by its cover? Yeah… Case in point…

image

Leave a kind review? (for my ego).

Thank you.
Here’s the link :-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00N4L1QHI/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1455259602&sr=8-1π=SY200_QL40&keywords=1+lovealways