What I Learned Playing Softball In Dakar

Me and my gorgeous valentine ❤❤❤

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Being a baeless singu pringu, I had no qualms signing up to join a ragtag team to go play softball in a social tournament in Dakar over the valentine weekend. This team would be made up of colleagues, friends of colleagues and families of friends of colleagues (don’t ask). There was a healthy balance of males and females on this team. This team would also be made up of former athletes, softball aficionados and people who had never played or even watched a baseball or softball game in their lives (I fell into this last category. Lol). Lastly, this team was made up of grandparents, middle aged folk and young adults who were mostly meeting each other for the very first time. Basically, there was tons of diversity going on.

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Ogas at the Top

Only a week earlier, I donned a baseball glove for the first time ever. At that point, I couldn’t decipher between baseball and softball. I didn’t know how either was scored or won. Couldn’t tell when a batter ought to swing at the ball and when to not. I had no idea what the positions on the field were besides the pitcher and the batter. There’s a lot I didn’t know about baseball/softball that Sunday. I only had a fair idea of what a home run was and why it was so special. I knew there was a home plate and then there were first, second and third bases. And that was pretty much it.

On the day before valentine’s, when we played our first game, I still didn’t know half of these things and I wasn’t the only one. Some team mates had to scream what “the play” was at different points in the game for the benefit of those of us who were there primarily for the experience and still had no idea what the heck we were doing. Haha. Needless to say, we lost our first two games. Again, haha 😥 Well, we did win our third game. Haha! 😀 Before we lucked out and dropped out of the competition after losing our 4th game. Ha. Ha… 😩

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The gorgeous Ebbets Field… on which we never played. Because we never advanced far enough 😢

These are the things I learned from that experience.

It turns out baseball was originally a Red Indian pastime, which would explain why it’s so deeply rooted in the American culture. It also explains all the leather involved in the sport and the superior craft work that goes into creating a baseball glove. Those things are a work of art.

Softball is the far less aggressive form of baseball. It’s less of a contact sport, the pace is slower and the clearest definer is the slow pitch, in which the ball must be thrown up into an arc towards the batter. Softball is the version played in children’s, all-female and recreational/social leagues. There are also competitive all-men softball leagues but, as expected, these are quite aggressive and the only real difference from baseball is the slow-pitch which ensures it’s less likely for folk to get hurt, seeing as the players are probably not professional baseball players.

I must point out something here. A softball is farrrrr from soft. I learnt this the hard way… no pun intended. Actually, it’s the same very hard balls used for baseball that are used in softball. You wonder how these Americans then came up with the term SOFTball, don’t you? Me too… Me too.

A lot of the terms I’ve become familiar with in everyday [American] speak are actually adapted from baseball. Everyone is familiar with the sexual connotation of “getting to 1st, 2nd or 3rd base” so I’ll just slide right by that one. There’s “bring me home, [name of batter]” used by a runner on 3rd base when (s)he’s hoping to make it back to home plate and score a home run. I finally came to understand the original context of “3 strikes and you’re out”. That one I was first introduced to in a John Grisham novel in relation to the justice system and how offenders are given 3 chances to commit misdemeanors before they’re really locked away. I became familiar with the term “heavy/hard hitter” in mafia films and novels. Turns out the term was originally used in baseball to qualify batters. The one baseball movie that really impressed on me growing up was Angels in the Outfield, which starred a young Joseph Gordon-Levitts. I finally came to grasp what defined the outfield. That’s the area beyond the only curved line on the field. The rest of the field is the infield.

Interestingly, there are probably a few terms used in baseball which are adapted from elsewhere. One that comes to mind is the dugout. This is the area the team which isn’t “playing the field” (another baseball term now used in other ways) sits in while they field batters. The dugout is kind of like the sub bench in football. Well, the term “dugout” was originally used in the 18th century for canoes/boats that were made by the indigenous people of the Americas who would literally dig out a tree till the canoe shape was derived.

Beyond the technicalities of the game, some of the best lessons I learnt were the social and cultural ones. In the American culture, sporting is not only for the young and the athletic men (as is the case in the Nigerian culture). Everyone is encouraged to be a part of it. Part of the rules of playing in the social league was that each team had to sport at least 3 women. And there were no age restrictions on who could or couldn’t play. There were also rules put in place on the field which help balanced things gender-wise and ensured men respected the women and their presence on the field.

My team, the Ogas at the Top, was a potpourri of folk of both original genders and with an age range of late 20s to early 60s. We played and witnessed other teams made up of several generations. One team we played was called the Leftovers and was basically a single family spanning three generations. They had players with papa pizza, day-old pizza, guacamole, etc scribed across their backs. Another team was made up of only women, also of many ages. These ones were aptly named the Cougars. Haha! These people were a very creative bunch.

The thing that struck me hardest playing on that field was the acceptance and support on display. People of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and leanings were playing together… against each other, but also together. Because we were in the social league and not the competitive league, there were many a folk who knew jack squat about what they were doing. No one hassled us or put us down for making mistakes or being slow. Everyone was patient with us and very encouraging, at times, even our opponents. Something I heard quite often was “Good hustle” said to encourage a person when they’d tried their best but it wasn’t good enough or they’d just been rather out of luck. It was most often said to one’s teammates but I also heard it said a lot to members of a team that had just suffered defeat and even to the vanquished by the victorious team. The spirit of sportsmanship was strong and that in turn encouraged a sense of belonging despite the many shades of skin, textures of hair and choices of ideology that were on display.

A culture of inclusion is something I’ve always believed in and I’m all about a society where no one is made to feel like they are somehow inferior to others or that they do not belong. I truly believe all humans are equal regardless of race, gender or creed. It’s just tragic that some human societies have ensured their equality is more deeply rooted and far stronger than others.

In Nigeria, discrimination is the order of the day and the lines across which we are divided are all too obvious and are constantly being highlighted, justified and entrenched. One party is endlessly trying to distinguish themselves from and establish their superiority over the other(s) and when they have done so, the individuals in that group proceed to find other divides along which they will separate themselves and on and on… until each person stands alone upon their little island, completely isolated from everyone else, even if only in their minds. Tragic.

We can do so much better as a people. So much better.

 

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The Demystification of the Yoruba Boy

There’s a storm sweeping across the world. From Ibadan to Kotangora. From Harare to J’burg. From Tokyo to Alaska. From Mercury to UrAnus. A consensus has been reached by pretty much all females. Somehow, without holding an international retreat, a conference call or even running an angry feminist group on Whatsapp, these women have come to the conclusion that…

“Yoruba Boys are demons”.

This is a decision that every member of the weaker sex who has ever dated a male person who hails from south-western Nigeria has unanimously arrived at. This is an undeniable truth. It’s a statement of fact. And it comes with an immovable, unshakeable mountain of evidence which spews from the charred lips of every woman (and some effeminate men, I would assume) who has ever tasted of the sweet demonic poison which erupts from the lips of a furiously persuasive son of Oodua.

Yoruba Boys are Demons.

Every Yoruba Boy who has ever walked the face of the earth is a son of the devil. They specialize in finding the finest specimen of a daughter of Eve and proceed to acid-uously break down her walls of defence against his irresistible charms until he has invaded her castle and gobbled her virtue, dignity and self-confidence up. Big bad wolf style. Following which he goes forth to roam the earth, looking for another female to devour. Of course, there’s no shortage of these women. Thusly, all across the world, and I daresay, the universe, horrific tales of Yoruba Demon conquests abound and the skin colour of the bearers of these tales vary very widely.

Yoruba Boys are demons.

Beware of them. Fall for them at your own peril. Dine with them with a long ladle. See them and run. Kiss them and burn thine tongue. Let them ravish you and their all consuming fire shall ravage you from within and without until all that is left is a smoldering heap of bitterness. The bitterness that comes with tasting poisonous nectar and savouring it until the taste goes from sweet to flat to sour to blinding pain.

Ladies, these are the things Yoruba Boys aka Demons will do to you:

They will kiss you and they will tell.

They will kiss you and moments later, kiss another.

They will kiss you and deny ever kissing you.

They will kiss you and make you fall in love with them. Then not love you in return.

They will kiss you and drive you crazy.

They will kiss you and make you feel indebted that they ever laid lips upon you.

They will kiss you and make you beg for more… then deny you of any more.

They will kiss you and you will just die from pleasure.

They will kiss you and you will end up hating them for it.

They will do all these with no guilt whatsoever.

This is what every Yoruba Boy will do to you, ladies (and gentlemen of that leaning). Every last one of them. No exceptions. This is how they operate. This is the model which is hardwired into their very DNA. It is the blue print every male with yoruba blood coursing through his veins will follow. This is the one generalisation that is not a generalisation. This is true. This is fact. This is Yoruba Boy policy.

Now, here’s the most intriguing part…

This demonic behaviour inherent in all Yoruba Boys was discovered by and is most loudly spoken against by Yoruba Women. This behaviour is also instilled in every Yoruba Boy and encouraged by… Yoruba Women!

Everyone, give a big and resounding round of applause to Yoruba Mothers!

These Yoruba Women have handed down this conundrum from one generation to another since Oduduwa’s chicken first laid the egg from which the world as we know it today would burst forth.

Yoruba Women, on one hand, educate their daughters of the dangerous nature of all Yoruba Boys. They drum it into the young ladies’ ears how they suffered greatly at the hands of Yoruba Men – first their fathers, then their husbands and soon, inevitably, their sons. They motivate their female offspring to beware of Yoruba boys and ensure they never suffer the same fate… All of this while insisting they must not bring home “omo Ibo” or “awon Fulani” or “Kalaba” or “oyinbo” or, God forbid, a lesbian lover! Who come remain?! Oh, the confusion these young girls suffer.

On the other hand, these same Yoruba Mothers are grooming their young sons to be the perfectly typical Yoruba Boy: An arrogant, entitled and self-sufficient son-off-a-gun who sees himself as a gift to all of womankind and is determined to pass that gift around to as many recipients as possible. Because he is Father Christmas. Or more aptly, Broda Christmas. All Yoruba boys are the way they are thanks to their Yoruba Mothers. These women will treat their sons as the kings they are until the poor boy must believe it and goes on to preach this gospel to every feminine ear that will hear it. A king must be paid homage after all, and for that to happen, he must have loyal subjects. Many of them. So how can you blame him when he goes forth to sow the many seeds (usually wild oats) of this truth in every fertile ear and heart he can find?

The great irony herein is that when these Yoruba boys bring their Yoruba girls home, it is the Yoruba mothers who give their potential daughters all the headache in the world. They grill them, stress them, prick and prod them and carry out background checks to ensure this unworthy commoner is worthy of their little kings. The girls who are strong enough to weather the storm survive the baptism of fire and eventually, inevitably go on to hate their mother-in-law, as is typical, while trying to wrestle the heart of the men they love from the vice-like grip of her wrinkled claw. The ones who cannot run screaming to the world and rather than apportion the blame accordingly, the one thing you hear over and over again in their tirade is…

Yoruba Boys are Demons.

These girls eventually marry someone – perhaps of another clan, tribe or race – but more often than not, they end up with another Yoruba boy and bear their own offspring and teach them the truth about Yoruba boys, graciously contributing to the vicious cycle which knows no end.

Now, seeing how I’ve laid down all the realities in this situation, you tell me: who are the real demons?

The Yoruba Boy Conundrum

The term ‘Yoruba Boys’ might seem self-explanatory, right?

Well, it isn’t.

Please, allow me educate you…

Click on any of these tweets to see the thread on twitter and feel free to share

🙂

Story For The Gods – A Deconstruction.

As promised, Tola wrote a rejoinder to my ‘exposition’ on Olamide’s Story for the gods. I’m glad for that because her piece provides context by providing insight into the song as an entirety, rather than just a/the major part like I did. I’ve learnt many things from her piece.

In spite of this though, I maintain many of my reservations. Some of which she shares at the end of her piece.

Please enjoy.

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Olamide SFTG

There’s been a theory making the rounds recently, that the club smash by the rapper Olamide, Story For The Gods, is an ode to date rape.

I read Toixc’s views on the joint and I kept shaking my head like, nah….

As with most folk accusing homie of glorifying date rape, dude examined the chorus, which on its own can be rather misleading,

Mo ti mu dongoyaro, dongoyaro, dongoyaro

And monkey tail, monkey tail, monkey tail

Aro bami gbe claro, claro o, claro o

I want to do sina today, sina today

She said she cannot wait o

She said its getting late o

She said she want to faint o

Ah, story for the gods

Now she saying mo r’ogo

O ti kan mi l’apa o

O ti kan mi l’eyin o

Story for the gods, the gods o

Translation:

(first four lines)

I’ve been drinking (dongoyaro, monkey tail)

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Olamide’s Story for the gods: An Exposition

Mo ti mu dongoyaro (dongoyaro, dongoyaro)
And monkey tail (monkey tail, monkey tail)
Aro bami gbe claro (claro claro)
I want to do sina today, sina today

She said she cannot wait o
She said its getting late o
She said she want to faint o
Ah, story for the gods

Now she saying mo r’ogo
O ti kan mi l’apa o
O ti kan mi l’eyin o
Story for the gods, the gods o

Olamide’s Story for the gods is a jam and a half!

It’s also a terribly, terribly inappropriate song.

The song was released a few months ago and like everyone else, I got taken with the melodies and rhythms. Top notch production. I’d hear it come up on the radio while driving and turn the music up. It would turn up on my music playlist and I’d leave what I was doing and zone into it. My jam. Dude’s lyrical dexterity, the way he bandied the words together, his now-typical mesmerising english and yoruba flow. Madness. The many lingo I couldn’t relate to because they were either too street or too deep for me. Those didn’t really matter.

Or did they?

One day, I zoned all the way in and felt the need to know what dude was actually preaching to me in this awesome song.

I was distraught.

It’s interesting that this song is still a hit on the radio while Olamide’s labelmate and protegé, Lil Kesh’s Shoki, which was released after Story for the gods, is getting banned. What is the NBC looking at? What is their criteria for the suitability or otherwise of a song to be aired on radio or its visuals be viewed on tv? They claim Shoki is a street synonym for ‘quickie’, but very few people knew this and it is not a subject matter of the song; whereas…

Story for the gods glorifies narcotic/alcohol influenced date rape.

Let me translate the chorus for you as literally as possible:

I have drank dongoyaro (a local herbal drink)
And monkey tail (another local herbal drink, sometimes used as an aphrodisiac)
Madman, give me the claro (a local slang for weed)
I want to do sina today, sina today (sina is street lingo for adultery or fornication)

She said she cannot wait o
She said it’s getting late o
She said she wants to faint o
Ah, story for the gods

Now she’s saying “I’m in trouble”
“He has broken my arm o”
“He has broken my back o”
Story for the gods, the gods o

“Story for the gods” is street speak meaning “what you’re saying is of no worth or value”. Other iterations you may be more familiar with are “You’re yarning dust” or “Story for tortoise” or “Bull shit.”

Now you know what you’ve been singing or humming along to all this time. What does this make you feel?

Dawning realisation? Anger? Shame? Befuddlement? Denial? Disgust?

What are your thoughts? Perhaps I’m mistaken about something or the other. Or perhaps I did not do the translation justice in some way.

Leave a comment.

Honk Your Horn For Practicality

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Today, October 15th, is Lagos Horn Free Day and from the title of this post, I bet you think you already know where I stand on the subject. Walk with me.

I love scenarios. They make it harder to argue against sensible points and make bad points more apparent. Now, let’s paint a few scenarios:

You live in one of those nice, enclosed estates where the street lights (which somehow exist in the first place) still work and where, on a quarterly basis, they harass all residents for estate dues as they drive out of the estate gate in the morning. Like many people in Lagos, you leave your house really early in the morning, before the sun even comes up. As you drive down one empty, well lit street, you come across reverse lights. They are backing out of the open gates to a residence, right towards your car. You can see the head of the young lady in the driver’s seat swinging this way and that to use her rear mirrors but you can also tell that she somehow hasn’t spotted you. You have only a split second to alert her… and you begin flashing your headlights at her, even though you know the eager street light overhead has swallowed them. She runs into you. It’s Lagos Horn Free Day, so you didn’t honk for her.

Another scenario:

You hit the highway and you’re gunning up one of the numerous bridges when you hit a little ‘hold up’. After years of living and working in Las Gidi, you know now that every second counts and the smallest pocket of traffic could be the one responsible for making you late. You’re growing impatient. You take a peek around the avensus in front of you at the road in front of the danfo further up front to see if you can perhaps spot the reason for the traffic and… Behold, the road is free, bereft of vehicular or human traffic. The danfo is picking up passengers and is neatly parked on the road so no one can pass till it’s done. The avensus in front of you won’t toot his horn to let the danfo driver, his conductor and their passengers know that this is utter madness. You won’t toot yours to let the avensus know you agree. The passat behind you can’t honk to agree with something you haven’t expressed. No one presses their horn because it’s Lagos Horn Free Day.

Final scenario:

You arrive home late from work, tired. You point your car at your gate and pause for a moment debating what to do next. Typically, you honk and the gateman, who knows the sound of your horn like he knowns his mother’s voice from even a street away, scurries to throw them gates wide open like he’s overjoyed to see you. But today is Lagos Horn Free Day. So you throw your car in reverse and proceed to three-point-park right in front of your destination, so you can go knock on the gate or just open it by yourself. Stress.

And those are my scenarios.

I believe the Lagos Horn Free Day initiative is a laudable cause. It strives to reduce noise pollution in Lagos, which is undoubtedly an issue which needs tackling. I doubt there’s any real research out there but I’m sure if there was, we’d marvel at the amounts of cases of stress disorder, mental illness and depression that are direct results of an abnormally high level of noise pollution here. Something is being done and that is good.

However, I wonder at the practicality of driving in Lagos today without the use of your horn. It is widely known that Lagos roads are a place of pure insanity and a school of thought I wholly subscribe to says “Drive in Lagos like you’re the only sane one on the road”. I believe this is called ‘defensive driving’ – a form of driving which involves a mix of paranoia, unnecessary bravadoccio and frequent useless bouts of road rage. Sigh. Why should there even exist a thing such as defensive or offensive driving? Why? Only in Lagos.

Here’s how I see things… Honking is the severely temporary solution to a problem and has now, sadly, become a problem itself. Lagos Horn Free Day brings awareness to and attempts to tackle the resultant problem, which is all well and good, except that the initial problem hasn’t been effectively tackled yet. If this time, energy, funds, publicity, etc were channelled more towards curbing bad, nay very terrible behaviour in our driving, we would hardly need to drive same resources towards changing the adaptive behaviour we’ve cultivated.

Also, and rather sadly, it’s worthy of note that our best changes in road behaviour have come about as a result of perpetual policing and not mere education aka nicely suggesting. Cases in point are our better use of seat belts, the absence of hawkers and road side traders (in certain locations) and the more steady application of insurance policy. We are a hard headed people and the only way we tend to see reason is when it is enforced upon us. That’s just the hard reality.

I’d honestly hate to see such a good hearted initiative as Lagos Horn Free Day go from educative to enforced, especially if the previous issues haven’t yet been properly addressed (Lastma, I’m looking at you) but I also have to admit that that’s the only way this will become entrenched.

So in conclusion, my stance is: In Lagos, the use of horns is a very necessary evil… but only for now. I’ll try my best to adhere though, so help me God.

What’s your stance?

Part 2?

All day long, I’ve considered writing a follow up post to yesterday’s. Wanted to address certain things time and word-count constraints wouldn’t let me in that post. However, I couldn’t help but ask myself…

Is it necessary?

So while I hadn’t quite made up my mind what to write, I didn’t think it would be a follow up post to last nights.

Then I’d only just gotten home from work when I was presented with the fact that LIB had launched a new site and I knew I absolutely had to read it before I could write today’s post. And…

Well, I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

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Moving on, I want to tell a very short and simple story.

Story, story…

Once upon a time…

In the days long ago, when Legoland was very small and had little variation and limited options and the real estate was abundant, there was established a small business. A very small business it was. So small, that it only existed as a small shop at the edge of no where.

The business was called The Centre.

The proprietors of The Centre never imagined or anticipated the exponential rate at which their business would grow… And grow it did.

But growing took time and while business was booming, the owners never though to also grow their vision. But some lessons will be learnt, one way or another.

Pretty soon, The Centre outgrew that little store they had in the hinterlands of Legoland and it was pretty obvious where they should move to next: the centre of Lego City.

Only one problem, the wide range of land which had been prime, virgin and available earlier had all been bought up by a set of more forward thinking people. People who, interestingly, had nothing to do with the business but were now charging exorbitantly to sell spaces in the city centre to the highest bidder.

Are these people wrong for owning property they knew was best suited to someone else? Property that was initially available to any and every one.

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N.B.

Real questions:

What is the big deal about cyber squatting?

Should first come, first serve in buying domain names no longer be a thing?

Some context:

The website for the White House is whitehouse.gov/ You know why, because by the time it occurred to them to have a site, whitehouse.com was already taken. Not even the American government could bully the original buyers and as they were not willing to buy it, they got creative and created ‘.gov’ for all government bodies.

Another example, Twitter’s popular video sharing platform – Vine – is hosted at vine.co/ not vine.com/ The latter was taken and rather than engage the ‘cyber squatter’ who’d already taken up the name (long before twitter came up with the concept of Vine), they got creative. They understand the reality of first come, first serve and even though they had the resources, they choose to respect it. Noble people.

Now let’s come down to Nigeria, people are giving a certain someone flak and terming him a parasite because he owns a domain name which is perfectly suited to someone else. Why? I am not endorsing his tactics or strategy but we have to be objective in the specific matter of him buying those domains. Personally, I see nothing wrong in the matter. I work in an organisation that has had to shell out some serious, painful dough to cyber squatters because people did not have foresight to purchase those domains early on. I hold no grouse against the cyber squatters for that. They are simply shrewd business people who have chosen to take the risk of (legally) purchasing something they hope will become more valuable down the line. Emphasis on “hope”. As has been proven, there are no guaranties in the matter.

We see this principle play out every day in real estate, no complaints. Why are folk then so upset about the same principles being applied in cyber space? Online real estate is real estate too.

So again, I ask. What is the big deal about cyber squatting?