22 Things

1. End SARS

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” — J.R.R. TolkienThe Two Towers

2. How do you kill someone you love? How do you leave someone you love? You do it the way Okonkwo killed Ikemefuna. This is the summary of my January till August.

“As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete, Okonkwo looked away. He heard the blow. The pot fell and broke in the sand. He heard Ikemefuna cry, “My father, they have killed me!” as he ran towards him. Dazed with fear, Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak” – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.

3. Della. Daniel. Samuel. Oluwatosin. Israel. Thank you.

“‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’” — E.B. WhiteCharlotte’s Web

4. Today, someone asked me how I was feeling. And I told him I was feeling high and happy. And he would think I am happy because it’s my birthday and wishes will come in. But then, it’s not just that. Be sincere with yourself. How can it be just that? I am happy because finally I can erase the past 365 days and begin with a clean sheet. You know how we humans deceive ourselves and tell ourselves things that are not real? Like how any other day can as well by Saturday but then it is today. And if you say today is Sunday, someone will correct you. And you begin to wonder, why is today Saturday? Why do we just stay with history and never change it? Do you know why today is Saturday? Today is Saturday because centuries ago, Emperor Constantine, the then Emperor of the Roman empire said so. The Babylonians were the ones who began this idea of naming the days of the week after gods and celestial bodies. And so the Romans picked it up. Sunday is named after the Sun god. Monday is named after the Moon. Easy right? It’s like what these guys do with our mathematics, they teach the simple and obvious ones and then on exam day they ask what “Wednesday” is named after and then you go blank. If Sun-day is for the sun and Mon-day is for the moon? Is Wed-nesday for….weddings? That’s how some of us failed mathematics in secondary school.

5. You can enjoy love without being in a relationship. I will repeat that: you can enjoy love without being in a relationship. Have sweet friends

6. 2020 was a year of mistakes. I use “was” because a new year is starting for me today. It’s called 2020 and a half. I made a lot of mistakes this past year I hate myself. I made mistakes I cannot say in public. I made mistakes I cannot say on the pulpit. I made mistakes I feel will come back and bit me in the butt. I made so many mistakes I spent more time in depression than out of depression at the beginning of this year. 2020 was a bad year from day one. From January to March, I was always crying. There was a day I was with Favour and I was sitting down in my pool of depression and Favour and I were trading stories of sorrow. Funny how she never knew the reason for my depression until it all ended few months ago and I told her. I was in Owerri when I told her.

Her reply: “Michael, I don’t even know what to say. You mean you were going through all this under my roof and I did not know?” Yes, baby. I was going through all this shit and I was holding up, working hard, making money, eating pizza with you.

7. Show up in church. Always show up in church. Aside all the valid reasons why you should show up, a day would come when you will need a shoulder and you won’t want just any shoulder. You will want that shoulder that you call SU. Because, of all things, you know you can trust that shoulder. Not just because they are trustworthy but because they are spirikoko and even if they want to betray you, their God won’t allow them. So always show up in church baby.

8. Be happy. Be humorous. You need to understand that life is messy and it is not going to stop being messy just because you are angry. So learn to smile and try and be happy. Here’s a story for you: While I was in 300 level at Obafemi Awolowo University, I was heading a writing club. So I gave them a writing prompt. It was a weird and mystical picture of a woman growing leaves. And my club members were supposed to write something inspired by the picture. One evening, I met Nwani Faith, one of my club members in front of Alumni Hostel and I asked her how the writing was going? You know what she said? She said, “Mr. Michael, I have been starring at that picture for hours and the only thing coming to my head is, ‘there is no leaf, there is no root.” Kosewe, kosegbo. Thanks to Olamide Baddo, Nwani Faith is seeing weed in my writing prompt.

9. There are 7.8 billion people in the world. 1.4 billion in China. 1.3 in India. 330 million in the United States of America. 270 million in Indonesia. 220 million in Pakistan, 212 million in Brazil. And there comes our country, Nigeria with two hundred and six million people. Now, imagine a world with all these people. How can you possibly agree with what everyone has to say? How can you possibly agree with the kind of music everyone listens? How can you possibly agree with what everyone wears? How can you possibly agree with what everyone tweets? You don’t have to agree with everything about a person before you respect them or acknowledge the good they do. I do not listen to Naira Marley (because I don’t understand half of what he is singing) but I appreciate his effort in the EndSARS movement. I do not even know any song by Small Doctor but I heard he dragged the whole of Agege like a bedsheet and brought them out to the protests in Lagos. For that alone, I am grateful to Small Doctor. I may not agree with their lifestyle or their music style but I will not deny the 1% of their life that I like because of the 99% that I dislike. Life doesn’t work that way.

“We shall all live. We pray for life, children, a good harvest and happiness. You will have what is good for you and I will have what is good for me. Let the kite perch and let the egret perch too. If one says no to the other, let his wing break” – Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.

10. Mental health does not respect age. Our parents also get tired and anxious and depressed. Call your daddy and mummy today. If you are still trying to bridge the gap, send a text message. Put ‘I love you’ at the end of the message. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the same house with them. Send that message. When life is rough, they will check through their messages, they will see that ‘I love you’ and they will shed tears of joy.

11. Three days ago, I had a dream and in the dream, I saw one of my secondary school mates. I do not remember the dream but I remember the mate. So I got their contact, reconnected with them after five years, and told them I dreamt about them but I don’t remember the dream. They laughed and I laughed and we are trying to catch up. I do not know why I am telling you.

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” — Mary ShelleyFrankenstein

12. I am more fascinated about the history of places than the history of people and events. Like, why is Bodija called Bodija? Why is Mokola called Mokola? Why is Ikorodu called Ikorodu? We know why Rivers is called Rivers but why is Owerri called Owerri? Places are interesting and they are fun. They are so fun. People are so boring. They break your heart. They disappoint. They die.

13. Igbo people are yellow. By Igbo people, I mean Igbo girls. I mean, why would I notice the Igbo boys anyway? I am still me. I often wonder if there is a kind of colorism (racism, but color this time, not race) amidst Igbo people. These are things I am supposed to be studying but my intellectual study partner, Tolu Oguntayo has japaa. I need new names.

14. To the queen, thank you for always coming back into my life like you never left. And how, with each time, the pain reduces, the hurt fades. I am writing your words: You were always in my thought. I could feel you even when you’re not there. And your touch. You were always with me.  Everywhere. I don’t know when it happened but that changed. Maybe when we stopped talking or what. And when we tried to get back together, it never felt the same.

I am writing my words: I think it is the way we love home. How that we may be so away from it for so long but it’s still home. And we may be at so many places and even  enjoy them better than home. But they are never just the same as home. Home is always home. We can’t leave it even if it frustrates us. It’s still home. It’s like a permanent state of affairs

Sometimes I wonder if you can ever say it again. If the words can come out of your mouth. I want to hear you say it. I want to hear you say it. If it is true that the universe joins people together even before they come into this world, I think we must have been joined together and it must have been said that one cannot be without the other, how the Dark Lord and The Boy Who Lived were inseparable. And how scary this is, the sway you hold, so scary that I am scared that I cannot have anything real again because you are here. you are always here. Do you feel it too? Does it scare you that although you cannot have it, you still cannot run away from it? Tell me the crown feels weighty sometimes. Let me know I am not alone in this mystery.

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” — Emily BrontëWuthering Heights

15. 2020 was a year of mistake. But I met people who have been a blessing to me.

Tolulope. Keyukemi. Deborah. Temidayo. Tennis ball. The One we wrote a blog post for. The One who brought me into the House. Caleb. Moyin. Temidayo. Fountain. Granddaughter.

16. I often wonder if it makes sense, the night you told me that you knew me before you knew him. I often wonder if you think about it sometimes, if it ever crosses your mind, the idea. But then, who am I fooling? It is the single one that worries about psychology. The busy one keeps busy. Anyway, if you must know. I think about it.

“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” — Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore

17. Read number 9 again.

18. Influence is important. You should know that with the EndSARS protest going on. Remember how at the start of this all we were calling on celebrities and influencers to notice us. To see that we are sleeping on the streets in front of Alausa. To see that we are being killed in our country. And remember the joy we all felt the night Cardi B tweeted that singular tweet asking about us, saying, ‘you know I love Nigeria.’ Imagine the joy on our faces. Cardi B just tweeted about us to her 15 million followers. That is the population of Lagos. That is the population of the whole of Switzerland. A whole country is following Cardi B on Twitter. Even though her account had an issue and she could not engage, that tweet did its thing. And remember how we began calling on all the influential people that had ever identified with Nigeria at one point in time or the other to come to our aid, to lend their voices to our struggle. Why? Why did we need them? Have you ever thought about that? Why did we have to call them? Go to 19.

19. In 1967, the Igbos had had enough and they decided they were done with this experiment called Nigeria. They seceded and declared themselves the Republic of Biafra. They were done. They were starting on their own. In retrospect, this was the best decision for all of us. If Biafra had worked, it would have succeeded. And the Yorubas would have followed. And I am so confident that we would have succeeded. But Biafra lacked something. For three years, it did not get one important country to recognize and acknowledge her as a country. Not Germany. Not Britain, whose prize child was Nigeria, the thorn in the eye of France.

I sometimes think about the cruelty of Europe. how they used the countries of the world, especially Africa to play cards. How Britain and France used West Africa to play ludo and tossed us to and fro like dogs. how can you ever be forgiven? The white walkers slept for thousands of years. But when they came. They came strong. Africa is still sleeping. for now.

Not the United States. Definitely not Russia. France…well, France did not speak up. It was disguising. So for the three years that Biafra existed, it was not a country. It was, well, another failed experiment.

Why? No recognition. Why am I telling you this story? Because I want you to have influence. Ogbeni Dipo reached out to John Boyega, one influential man to another (though not on the same levels). John Boyega joined in the struggle. And then people went crazy. Calling for help. Obama. Michelle. Ellen. Rihanna. Coldplay. Even Trump. Eventually, we got the attention of Jack, our landlord. And in a few hours, everything changed. Jack tweeted our struggle. He tweeted our donation link. Then he shut us out for one hour and when he opened the door, there, there was our #EndSARS emoji and the multiple verified accounts. It was a good day to be a Nigerian. A good day to be a Nigerian. A good day to be a Nigerian.

Jack had influence and he used it. Wizkid used his in London. Runtown and Falz used their. Davido too. Leke Alder too. Pastor Sam Adeyemi (God bless the man.) And just like that, protests everywhere. Switzerland. Canada. New York. London. SA. Everywhere. Just like that. influence won. God bless Influence.

So when you see people calling Beyonce to talk, don’t shame them. There are people who worship Beyonce. So if she lends her voice, that means Jay Z does too. And that means the American entertainment industry, from Ellen to Oprah to Trevor to Nicki will hear us. So please let them keep calling Beyonce. Let them call Beyonce. Beyonce!

19. I want to be a published writer. I want to be an award-winning author. I want to win multiple awards. I want to be a voice. Today, I saw a white and black photo of Chinua Achebe, JP Clark and Wole Soyinka standing together for a shot. I cried. I want to be these people. I want to have the complex intelligence of Soyinka. I want to have the simplicity of JP Clark. I want to have the memory of Achebe. Things Fall Apart was not easy. How can you write the story of what happened a century before you were born, especially when the place you are writing about did not record their history in writings? How can you create Okonkwo, Ezinne, Ikemefuna?

“We have heard stories about white men who make the powerful guns and the strong drinks and took slaves away across the seas, but no one thought the stories were true.” [said Obierika]
“There is no story that is not true,” said Uchendu. “The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others. We have albinos among us. Do you not think that they came to our clan by mistake, that they have strayed from their way to a land where everybody is like them?”
– Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

20. I try to stay sane but I think the curse that comes with intelligence is this back and forth that my mind plays with me. I try to wonder if Soyinka feels this. I can imagine Achebe getting depressed. For someone who never recovered from Biafra and wrote a whole memoir on it, I can imagine. I can imagine Okigbo getting anxious. But Soyinka, the grey-haired glutton of tranquility? Does he sometimes want to end it?

21. Thank you, Emmanuel Faith.

22. For you, now and always. Because there are daffodils and sunflowers and roses and carnations and peonies and violets. But there is you. there is you. The future is so vague. But you are here. because the whole world couldn’t get a gift to me because I was traveling the whole world but you got one to me anyway. The effort. The will. I cannot forget this. I wake up feeling like I do not deserve you, too broken for this perfect bird. But then you are here.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of forgiveness and remission of sins. I am going to do better. So help me God.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” — Zora Neale HurstonTheir Eyes Were Watching God

This past year asked questions. Hopefully, the coming one will answer them all.

34 thoughts on “22 Things

  1. I relate to some things, sometimes we wonder why things happen, but at the end. What we do is to move on to the next stage and pick up lessons to stay stronger and more resilient.

    More power to your elbow.
    Depths upon depths unleashing the needs of the mind

  2. Wow…. I wanted to scan through all of it,got to no 8, I had to read it all over again.. Thank you for this piece…

  3. Beautiful as usual. Found myself glued to the amazing piece of a 22 year old writer of I’d love to know more about.

    Cheers to amazing and award winning years ahead.✊

  4. I’m happy I clicked on the link that brought me to read this piece. It triggered a lot of emotions. I actually enjoyed reading and that’s a feeling I’ve not had in a long time so thank you for that.
    You’re amazing…

  5. Your dreams are valid Michael and you will leave it. I’ve not read anything this beautiful in a long time. Your number 19 is it for me and I will pray about it for you. Happy birthday

  6. So much to say, but I can’t attach an ink to them. Thankfully, I can spill these words:
    You are amazing and the world is blessed to have you at this time. I pray the new year answers all the questions of the past year, but in the meantime, do not relent. Keep pushing dear one! Happy 22nd❤️

  7. Wonderful piece, Michael. Thank you very much Emmanual Faith for sharing. God bless you two.

    Who else noticed they are actually 23?
    There were two 19s😀

  8. This piece is beautiful, a mix of all things beautiful.
    Well done, Inioluwa. You’re already influential in your space. Your space will grow bigger.
    God bless you Michael.

  9. This piece is so nice… Your dreams are valid and you’ll achieve them all. Stay positive Michael.

  10. Happy Birthday. Thank you for writing this. I would usually put an emoji after this but you’ve made me emojiless.

  11. This beautiful Michael. I read every line and I enjoyed it.

    About the colourist thing you mentioned, it’s actually a thing.

  12. I went back to read 9 again
    I love 22
    19 is so full of life
    18 wants me to love history.

    This is beautiful.
    Your articles are always beautiful ♥️

  13. 🥺🥺🥺
    Thanks for blessing us with this lovely piece, it was as if it shouldn’t end ehn😪
    More wins to come man, all those desires of yours are gonna manifest
    Have a blessed year ahead✊
    One love

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