Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dat Nigga

Nigga Raw emerges as a very big influence on 9ja's youth today. This icon invented the infusion of modern techniques of rap with the local dialet which results in something of a new cultural phenomenon. Infact Raw is undoubtably the father of modern 9ja rap. Dat Nigga has built an awesome fan base and of course got great reviews from fans and critics alike. A great number of our youth today who have chosen careers in the music industry have become influenced by this enigma: and have begun to reshape their individual brands. Raw won the 2008 Nigezie Icon of Style and is posed to definitely collect lots more of silverware. Outstanding musicians who have emerged from his shadows include Timaya, Decumzy, Smartman, Duncan Mighty, Desperate Chicks -( i absolutely love those chicks), Blackdog and a whole lot of others. Raw's latest album - Everything Remains Raw reputedly sold 250,000 copies in the first 3 days of its release, now sale figures are in millions of copies. Nigga Raw has always been loyal to his roots and manages to intwine his loyalty to his hometown - item with that of Enugu - where he grew up. I hereby appoint him the Honourable Ambassador for Youth and as he currrently tours Europe on a promo, i say to him, "nwanne enwero, keep on waving the green flag bro"

1 on 1 with an 'alaye'

His story is the stuff of fiction: the son of a commercial sex worker and raised in an orphanage, Samuel Mensah fled the orphanage and Accra when he was about 11 and roamed the streets of the harbour city of Tema in Ghana for 2 years, then woke up one day, got on a bus with six of his friends and headed to Lagos, Nigeria. “I choose Lagos because opportunities plenty here more than Ghana”, he says is the reason for his somewhat impromptu decision to leave Ghana in 2001 for Lagos. Samuel and his crew had one thing in common: vague plans for survival but each determined to brave the odds.

Samuel is in his early 20s – he doesn’t know his age, “My mama born me around 1987, drop me for motherless (orphanage) go continue im job for ashawo hotel” – he radiates a feeling of being wild and free. On arrival in Lagos, Samuel slept in buses parked in garages at night and roamed the streets by day in search of jobs. He worked in an MrBiggs outlet as a cleaner for six days before his boss found out that he was an illegal immigrant and sacked him. Samuel was deeply disillusioned by this and according to him, drove him to, “copy as area boys take dey survive”. Thus a new member joined the swelling population of street boys in Lagos. These boys constantly engage in a variety of jobs; however they mainly congregate in selected areas; lay claim to such and shake down any unwary pedestrian or motorist who fall into their trap. Samuel describes his daily routine as washing face and feet with sachet water, (bathes fully only on Sundays), hit the roads with his gang, and at the day’s end - usually about 2am – sleep anywhere possible, usually in same area that they operate. George is also a Ghanaian and part of Samuel’s gang; he admires Samuel’s resilience and admits that, “Samuel na rugged guy, na correct survivor.”

Samuel currently lives and operates along the western pavilion of Tafawa Balewa Square. He appears relaxed, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of evening rush hour as we sit on the concrete ledges that fence the pavilion. There is a suffocating stench of urine and pedestrians, predominantly workers, hurry past. Samuel doesn’t care, he is relaxed and happy that he is soon going back home. Ghana has experienced enormous economic growth with recent discoveries of oil and last year’s re denomination of the Ghanaian Cedi. . Samuel is excited about the wind of change and says, “Now na people from here de go Ghana. Me and two of my paddy don arrange, we dey go next week”.

Samuel wants more of his compatriots on Lagos streets to join him in going home; he is currently convincing 7 others to join their party. He is aware of the challenges, “my mama don die, I no get family or anybody in Ghana”, he says. He is however apparently not bothered, and believes in meeting hurdles head on. In trying to convince his compatriots on joining him on the trip back home, he has this to say to them, “We no know anybody here before we come, and we survive, how we no go survive for our own country?” Life, as he adds, is all about, “being on the move”.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The new immigrant and housing in Lagos

He was fifth in line, on a queue at dawn, to use the sole bathroom in the 14 room apartment. Chidi had arrived Lagos the previous day and was really bewildered with life in the city. First, he had to pass the night in cramped arrangements with his uncle and family in a single room; and then, at dawn, to be confronted with tons of tenants spilling out of the other rooms in a rush to make use of the facilities.

Overcrowding in housing units has assumed alarming proportions in Lagos especially in predominant slum areas. Abdulhakeem Akinola identifies accommodation as the greatest problem in Lagos City; he observes that, “too many people are jostling for inadequate building structures.” It has become common to see situations where as much as 10 people live in one room.

Migration is a big issue in Lagos; the city has attracted millions of people seeking for a better life from Nigeria and beyond. The last population census in Nigeria gives Lagos population as 9.6million which makes it the second highest in the country after Kano; however the Lagos State Government contests these figures, alleging that Lagos population should be about 13million and thus the most populous city in the country. Lagos is literarily bursting with over population and people still flock to the city in alarming numbers; statistics reveal that approximately 21 new immigrants arrive Lagos every hour. In 1999, the United Nations predicted that the city's metropolitan area, which had only about 290,000 inhabitants in 1950, would exceed 20 million by 2010 and thus become one of the ten most populated cities in the world. Mr. Shina Odunuga of the Lagos State Ministry of Housing says that, “The heavy influx of immigrants contribute to the strain on housing in the city, however Government is trying its best in providing more housing units to accommodate as many people as possible.”

Construction of economic housing units is an important responsibility of Government. However new immigrants like Chidi asks, “Where are the low cost housing projects?” The Lagos State Government recently built 2 housing estates at Oke Eletu, Ikorodu (where 2 bedroom flats go for 3 million naira) and Abraham Adesanya, Ajah-Lekki (where 3 bedroom flats are on sale for 12 million naira). “Do these qualify as low cost housing?” asks Mr. Casimir Ehirinne – an Estate Agent. “What we really have here is Government building houses for Its high ranking officials to purchase and either live in or lease out to rich tenants”, he adds. For mid civil servants like Chidi’s uncle –Tony, these housing projects are out of their means, “I definitely can’t afford that on my wages, and I can only improve by searching for another public yard where I can get two rooms probably in same filthy conditions”, he says.

Living conditions in these ‘public yards’ are quite unhealthy. In Tony’s case, approximately 50 people live in the 14 room compound and use one bathroom and toilet. There is no water; residents have to buy water from a commercial borehole some 100metres away. A greater population of Lagos residents live in similar conditions; recent studies by the World Bank reveal that Lagos has 42 slums, with the figure actually outnumbering well managed neighbourhoods.

Chidi finally got his turn at using the bathroom and as he dressed up, he couldn’t help wondering if he emerged from the filthy bathroom cleaner or dirtier. He is determined, however, “To work hard and rent my own room as soon as possible, hopefully with a cleaner bathroom.”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

what's with palin? has the united states gotten to this point?