Saturday, 21 November 2015

You Saw My Sexuality by Seun Idris.

Dear Africa,
 
Seun Idris
You are the continent of cliché. Africa the conventional continent of
customs and traditions. Africa the enigmatic continent. Africa the
game continent. Africa the Africa. I write this letter to let you know
about your irrationality in disguise. I will begin from the minute I
became a citizen in you. Hear me!
    My childhood was as innocent and loyal to you as the child who
was born yesterday. I respected you as much as I respect my parents. I
adored you more than I thought anyone would. But I never knew, until
now, that you are as brutal as the ISIS terrorists to me. You lost
your value from me the same day I realised your backwardness and
adversity towards nature and diversity. You lost your value from me
the day I realised you are unequal when it calls for judging. You
generally refuse me and deprive me of virtually everything that I am
entitled to as a citizen, simply because I am different.
    Listen to me, Africa. Please, submit a little more of your time to
me. Do you remember me as Seun Idris at all? The child who was born in
one of your compartments on the 22nd of July 1996. Let me remind you
that  I cried like any other child did as they were born. I remember I
smiled at you as a sign of peace and joy. I thought you'd be glad to
have me as your citizen, as  I think you were to those you term as
"normal". I didn't have an idea that you saw my sexuality and I as
"abnormal". You are not fair. I initially felt you'd fight for the
rights of everybody equally, not selectively. It's disheartening.
    I am a gay man, and I have been gay since I've known myself. It so
sad that the moods in your territory for gay people are; prejudice,
bullying, social-isolation, unemployment, adversity, disease,
death, homelessness, I could go on. Why should  it be so? Why? Is this
rational? Yet, you give excuses of  "anti-  custom and tradition", in
place of liberty and expression. All this said,there are some citizens
who kill to become rich. There are some people who kill to live. There
are some people  who kill to appease a "god" in the blindness of
religion. There are terrorists in you. There are some who embezzle the
resources that belongs to everybody, for their interest.  What have
you done to all this? Where were your customs and traditions? Where?
Nowhere to be found! So down-pushing.
  I vividly remember my encounters as a closeted gay man. I remember
the uncountable bullies
,assaults,taunts, verbal attacks- because I am different. I remember
when I couldn't help my poor self from trauma. I remember when these
words pushed me to the wall and left me with no other option than
committing suicide, which I attempted. I remember when I was tortured
by my parents based on my sexuality. You planted a lot of negativity
in your citizens. Too bad.
  Africa, I'd like you to pay attention to this hazardous brief story
of mine that happened some weeks behind. After this story, I will
judge if you are still as inhumane as you've been or not. Recently, I
came-out as gay on my Facebook page. And mind you, my Facebook is a
welcoming arena for all kinds of Persons. Moving on, after the
article, the turnout from people wasn't welcoming. The threats were
venomous and totally spiteful. The vitriol has been my breakfast
every morning. Why should it be so? Why can't my rights be protected
as a citizen?  Why, Africa? Devastating.
  Africa, when would you learn that diversity must take place- that
it is a natural thing? When would you realise all cars can't go on the
same track? When would you realise that all cars can't reach the same
destination? Even if you compel us to go by your rules, we may
eventually lose out. 


Africa, learn!!!!

Monday, 26 October 2015

The Career Prospects of the Twenty First Century Nigerian Legal Practitioner.



The given topic comprises of rather general terms which, I perceive, collaboratively tackles the theme: The Survival of the Modern Nigerian Lawyer in a world getting faster and faster.
 Globally, the twenty first century is characterised by spontaneity, change, speed, increased efficiency and effectiveness, development, serendipity, novelty, freshness....These have saturated almost every human concern. Also in this light, the world has witnessed a rather interesting stretch in the scope of tasks that are well within the career prospects or can be part of the job description of the twenty first century lawyer. Fortunately, this diversification equally applies to the twenty first century Nigerian lawyer.
Photo from the movie 'The Great Debaters'
Before this flash age, lawyers merely played the roles of litigators and intermediaries between the state and society, as advocates, advisers, solicitors, teachers and custodians of the law. This is more so the case as they focused primarily on the ‘practice of law’- litigation. However, the late Larry E. Ridstein in his paper ‘Practising Theory: Legal Education for the Twenty First Century’ speculated that in the twenty first century lawyers may fill five new roles.[1]
Photo from the movie 'The Great Debaters.'
These five specified roles were those of: Collaborator(carrying out transactional work alongside professionals from other fields  in multidisciplinary establishments instead of just purely legal ones); Manufacturer (developing and producing off-the-shelf, brilliant solutions for as wide a market as possible as opposed to only drafting and interpreting documents for his/her clients); Law Maker (managing and overseeing the enactment of new regulations such as in the course of the mediation process); Information Engineer ( as an information broker; using  the increasing ability to make more accurate predictions of legal results; the use of computers in predictive and data analysis; creation and maintenance of legal software); Capitalist (making money from being able to play a support role in the research and evaluation of the probability and values of legal cases). Fortunately, most of these- and much more- are already in play. Interestingly, this does not mean that the modern legal practitioner has to abandon his/her regular tasks as these additions fortify his capability to be more efficient and effectiveness in his/her delivery.
However, increasingly, in the twenty first century, some lawyers are moving out of law firms and court rooms into new legal practice settings as leaders in government and actors in political scenes. They are also moving into quasi-legal roles in lucrative part-legal and part-business ventures such as freelance research and journalism by way of putting up their well researched articles in the regular print media, online media and even for publications at international conferences. It is pertinent to note here that the litigation license obtained at the Law School is not as important as the solid background of good legal training- undergraduate, post graduate and personal studies.[2]
Consequently, in today’s Nigeria, there are so many legit paying ventures that the Nigerian lawyers can participate in within Nigeria and internationally, within the scope of the legal profession- especially as it is now strapped around the growing interest and need for computer literacy; internet compatibility; speed and creativity.
As a legal practitioner in the twenty first century, the first points of call as regards career prospects is serendipity, openness, respect out of courtesy- instead of an unwise over reliance- for vintage solutions.  By this, I refer to a constant appreciation and articulation of the evolving society- and the world at large- in order to always be in the know of the needs of the current age and the legal- and professional-solutions that are needed – and more in demand.
With this taken care of, such a practitioner can then move on to his role as manufacturer of these needed solutions. Some of these unique solutions which are in demand in the twenty first century are instant responses to occurrences in our community (both nationally and internationally) outlining the legal issues, consequences and recommendations. Furthermore, there is the need to make those instant moves through instant methods which are twenty-first century compatible and well sought after media such as blogs, vlogs and status updates on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
More in this light, the lawyers may avail themselves as cyber secretaries or assistants for freelance research jobs online wherein they are paid to conduct research on certain themes and titles by interested parties over the internet on websites such ‘www.freelance.com’. Also the lawyer can connect interdependently with other professionals (both legal and non-legal) within Nigeria and internationally over social networks to organise webinars to sensitise the public on some salient issues and solutions (both legal and non-legal) that they should know about. They could also establish, maintain and monetize an online electronic audio-visual libraries- which may also host written text materials- either on a wide range of subjects-or something specific- thereby making available simpler, faster and more comprehensive materials for public consumption. An instance of this is the United Nations Audio-Visual Library on ‘www.un.org/law/avl’.

Further in this light, the rigours of human rights activism are further simplified as legal practitioners and activists can carry out their activism through amassing support for human rights courses through social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Googleplus) and the websites of Non Governmental Organisations such as Amnesty International on ‘www.amnesty.com’. Thus, with constant contribution to humanity through novel methods, a Nigerian lawyer simultaneously creates more publicity for himself and his services and further prepares himself for job opportunities in various capacities in international establishments such as the United Nations, African Union and international courts and tribunals. 
It is fair to point out that this stretch in the economy of the legal profession is not just a function of the time that we are in, but also that of the demand and necessities that have risen in this time. Clearly and increasingly, a reasonable portion of these are demands cannot be met by learned gentlemen, but by the learning ones who are not scared to embrace serendipity in a world that hardly ever stops changing. As such the legal education system at the Nigerian Law School- as well as those of other jurisdictions- inclines towards this by adopting a rather proactive academic curriculum which engages the Nigerian Law Students academically, practically and mentally in preparation for the very vast- and still diversifying- window of opportunities and possibilities that are already here.
Globally, the twenty-first century lawyer’s career prospect is marked by change – and the embrace of that which is fierce, and increasingly stretches from the convenient and familiar. Then again, as Lord Denning put it, ‘... if we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on and that will be bad for both.’
Nonetheless, the Modern Nigerian Lawyer is bestowed with a greater need and responsibility to be cautious in the light of knowing when, where and how to draw the line in order to preserve the professionalism in the legal profession even while seeking and producing modern solutions in this modern age. But then, it is fair to say that the professionalism and survival of the modern Nigerian Legal Practitioner seems to have stretched from being just black and white to incorporate several other fresh and interesting shades of grey.



[1] Lee, Keith, Five New Roles For Lawyers in the 21st Century, http://associatesmind.com/2013/03/07/five-new-roles -for-lawyers -in-the-21st-century/(retrieved on 08/05/2013).
[2] Penus, Dana, Out of Practice: The Twenty- First Century Legal Profession

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The girl who could have been my sister

photo sourced from http://sciencenordic.com/what-drives-prostitute
Just outside my hotel, across the road, in the dry chilliness of central Abuja, I saw a light skinned well curved woman run after a dark coloured SUV that was zooming off. The street was well lit but lonely. And Catholic establishments like guest houses and pharmacies flourished on both sides. I saw her strut back to where she stood. I watched her strike a pose under one of the street lamp poles as the sepia tone rays lit her up like a candle. My heart froze when she looked at me. I spun on my heels and walked briskly into the hotel and back to my room where I watched from a 'safe' distance, the window. I would see many more versions of this midnight beauty in the course of my brief stay in Abuja. And the celebration of my new career will not be as sweet because beside me is a girl who has been left no choice than the prickly mercy of brief insensitive lovers. A girl whose heart may never know aspirations beyond breakfast and dinner, or worsestill, just breakfast. And yes, this same girl, came to Abuja because, like me she once thought that it held greater chances of a better life. This same girl who could have been my friend, my neighbour, hero, mother, sister. This same girl whose stare terrifies me. Whose presence makes me uneasy. Just outside my hotel, at some place the Abujans call Wuse, I saw a dream that has been dazed once too many times by life, but still insists on reliving every night in the chilly dryness of Abuja, smiling beautifully beneath the sepia light with SUVs and smaller autos stopping and zooming off. Some day, inshallah, I shall cross those roads and take her hand to some place other than Abuja, and show her something better than her streets, bigger than the love she has known, brighter than her nights... because she is my sister. And interestingly, she is part of my part of my life.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Write Me a Forever


Riding with Danjuma feels like charging into forever on a comet-off-course Mouka, foam padded, red-wine-serving, air-conditioner-fitted and citrus air-freshened. It is like the feeling of warm chocolate flowing down the torso just before it meets the ice-cold tickly tongue of a naughty lover. It is like the rush of heat from a virgin body that shocks the world with its candid cravings. In a perfect world I would never have such cravings. But Danjuma strangely inflames me. Shockingly, his existence makes me bisexual.
No man taps my core the way he does. No man before him ever tapped me at all. I had once thought it was the things he said to me. At another time, I thought it was the way he said them. The way he is firm with me, instructing me without warning, steering me unbothered that I could get hurt - perhaps knowing that it is impossible. He knows how to take me to the edge just before ‘crazy’.
And he knows to insist that I study. He will not have any of that ‘I’m not in the zone’ nonsense.
When my last exam timetable came out, he zapped us from Abuja to Jos to study. Lodged in his two-bed room flat for a week, breakfast and lunch he catered for. Dinner was either a carrot or an apple each and compulsory exam quizzes, followed by reading the Psalms (from my Bible) in alternate verses right there in his room. With my phones confiscated, and the almost eternal pin-drop silence punctuated only by Westlife tracks and the occasional door squeaking to usher in hairy Danjuma, stripped to his briefs bearing a glass of juice or water, it was an interesting week.
Sexually, he knows how to make me want things that I ordinarily abhor - things that, in a perfect world, should never cross my mind.
He loves me enough to see through my shakara.
You see, Danjuma loves like a festival, then a single sword - cutting, cutting, and cutting through. Like a hundred metal wings, then like a single rose. He insists that we are boys. And boys should embrace every chance to make their mistakes early on. He says that boys are like stainless steel. No scars no smudges, fierce enough to mock our youth, our scars healing almost instantly. That was in Jos.
In the ‘perfect world’, Port Harcourt, we stopped being boys because they said we had outgrown our dreams. They said that we were too manly to pretend that we were back in Jos, cuddling in the prickly Harmattan. In the perfect world, we should not talk all night. And Muslims should not be caught reading the Bible, let alone in alternate verses. Here also men have no business being men’s desktop photos or screensavers. As such no one can explain the burning passion between two men without a splash, if not a full bath, of disgust at the picture. To keep the world perfect, we agreed, they should neither know nor see. Passions unseen are passions ‘undisgusting’.
So we are boys everywhere but here.
We can see the world everywhere else and be whatever we want, however we want. But here, I am sane. I am Nkemdilim Okolo.
I desperately needed to confide in someone here - anyone who was not Danjuma who could objectively validate my insanity by telling me that I had struck gold, and should never let go. But I am wise enough to share only the version compatible with the perfect world.
You see, the version I proudly use is:
 ‘An Abuja flower has stolen my heart, and I want to run away with the flower. We want to travel the world. Besides, the flower is too Muslim for my Catholic parents. And I’m too Catholic for the flower’s Muslim world.’ I am always very careful to avoid pronouns.
‘Hmm. How can you dream of travelling the world with this madness when there are more pressing things to attend to? ’ most of the people I spoke to said.
The rest of them simply turned it into a joke. Others added that I was aspiring to join and birth a fresh Boko Haram troop.
I think closely about everything save the Boko Haram bit.
Perhaps this is the universe conspiring to tell me that Danjuma is a tooth cavity I can avoid. This has been said too many times to my hearing. And like a man I must listen to the voice of reason. As if this is not sour enough, my being effeminate is becoming a bigger wahala than it was, between my girlfriend Fisayo and I.
‘A man should be firm and better comported,’ Fisayo said to me one morning after I had finished arguing with my kid sister Amara about whether or not Omosexy’s sexiness had a shelf life.
‘Just see you,’ Fisayo continued, ‘throwing your hands about, clapping and arguing like a little girl.’
I eyed her and did not say anything. She has been nagging her – and my – life away since I got my ears pierced a few months ago. Saturday. No Sunday. Or was it Monday? No, it was definitely over the weekend.
I had just returned to Port Harcourt after having passed my degree exams. It was extraordinary to have hit that milestone, but somehow I was too dazed to be festive. I did not pre-inform anyone of my returning. I was the only one in my class who did not post any Facebook status update. I had drafted one: ‘Forever is a string of 'right-now's’. It had absolutely nothing to do with my having graduated, and I had not the energy to explain it either.
One of those days I was in bed, very, very, very close to drifting away when Fisayo jumped on me from nowhere. Iska - the part of me that will have none but Danjuma - yanked her off. She landed with a crash, knocking over the side-table. Regret flushed through my insides as I rushed to help her up.
‘Nkemdilim, what’s the matter?’ she asked, confusion in her eyes.
‘Please get up.’  I said as I stood above her, offering her my hand.
Amara came barging into my room. ‘I heard a crash,’ she said
After an awkward moment, and ignoring my outstretched hand, Fisayo struggled up, snatched her bag from the table and left. She heard words that I did not say. That I did not have to. She did not know that my body was now repelling everyone else. She must have thought that she was still the one key that could unlock me. She used to be. That changed.
I was at Combo Hotel that night with Danjuma. He was in town for business engagement. We had agreed to talk about our relationship. I was trying to walk away. We did not have much luck talking. His tongue started a tsunami on my nape. Our hearts lashed out at each other. We were naked as our mothers made us. That night he put ice behind my earlobes and sunk a cold needle through them. The evening should have been a silent sober one but Danjuma wanted more. He is about the only one who can command Iska the way that none other can - in the way that I shamelessly like. Blood trickled down one of my ears. It felt like sweat. The sweetness of his kiss choked the sting as the needle pushed through the cartilage. It was a crazy night. We did not break up as we had planned.
The Iska in me grows less and less afraid with every encounter with Danjuma. I hate them – Iska and Danjuma – when I am sober. But in my wildness, I love Danjuma more than I had ever imagined that a person deserved to be loved, and Iska breaks free and rails like a hurricane at everything.
When I returned home to Amara and our parents the night I was pierced, I still had the taste of Danjuma on my tongue, and the feel of him in me. I would not have anyone tarnish this heaven. I skipped dinner and went straight to bed. No one had noticed the coloured studs in my ear lobes. No one noticed that I walked on clouds.
Iska frightens Fisayo. He is not the boy who had sexted her for two months, not Nkemdilim. But then, Iska is nothing like the rest of me. He is unrealistic, overgrown, crazy but submissive, yearning, in love with Danjuma. Nkemdilim, on the other hand is firm and everything else a man should be. Nkemdilim still wants Fisayo. Part of me still needs to have her. This dynamic drives me crazy. Knowing loving two worlds uncontrollably without either ever sitting down to learn or listen to the other: that I cannot trade this madness for something more unilateral, more comprehensible. Knowing that at every given time I could be one of either peacefully and completely, or both at once savagely, at war.
It’s not about the sex with Danjuma: it is the peaceful certainty in his eyes. He carries on like every moment is all we are about, like I am really part of his world - a world that had been solidly built prior to my arrival, without me but for me.
Whenever I am with him, I find an unshakeable validation that I have found my place and I need not move any further.
Danjuma is my dream, the man I want to be like when I grow up. He is also reality to a devout wife, muse to a trusting daughter and pillar to an observing church. Danjuma is a dream that came true too soon. Yet I love that he marks me the way he does.
 When Fisayo noticed the studs glinting in a selfie I sent to her on Whatsapp, she stopped messaging and called back.
‘Nkemdilim?’ she asked almost in a whisper.
‘Yes babes,’ I answered, thinking we were on whispers now.
‘Are you gay?’
My heart skipped. ‘How can I be gay and in love with you?’ shot out of my mouth before I could think of anything. Danjuma says it so many times.
‘Why are you wearing studs then?’
‘It’s just fashion, babes,’ I said. ‘Lots of men do. Nothing to it.’ I was still, sweating and unable to blink.
When I told Danjuma about our conversation, he asked me to travel to Dubai with him for a week.
‘Didn’t you hear what I just said?’
‘Come with me.’
‘You can’t be serious.’
‘Come with me.’
‘She’s suspicious enough as it is, Dee. Besides I can’t just up and leave, man.’ I said.
‘I’m not asking you to up and leave. I’m asking you to do what you need to do: to come with me.’
I said I thought he was being unreasonable, he asked me whether I had an international passport. Crazy man.
I still have to figure out what it is that we share. Stamp on a label of some sort. Try to keep my life tidy, the way it had been before Abuja. Before he kissed me. Before I kissed him back. Before he made me laugh. Before I had preferred him to my classroom. Visiting from campus every other weekend. Before Aisha, his wife, almost knocked me down on campus with her SUV. Before all three of us had that awkward lunch-date when she bathed me in tomato sauce. And he hit her so hard across the face. Before she cursed me. Before she kissed the floor begging me to leave her happiness alone. Before she offered to trade me all of Abuja for her husband, in tears.
Danjuma has never been mine to keep. He is Aisha’s forever. Yet he is not mine to give up. Initially, when he came after me, I ran. I wanted to go far enough to escape him, to escape all this. But I also wanted to be caught. Now my conscience is ravished by guilt. My heart roars in passion. My life spins in complexities. I hate myself for ever desiring, for wanting this madness, for basking in this mistake.
I have walked away from him one time too many. Not just for Aisha.
I am a man with a girlfriend. Sex with her takes my breath away, It fills my mind with ideas for now and next time. We are smart. We play rough but we play safe- no compromises.
I am a scholar fated to be a star. Structured to be lightning, a standard, even a god.
But being a boy feels light years better. Danjuma says, ‘We are boys naked in the sun, like our mothers made us. Boys who dare to dream, to write their own forevers, live out their creeds! ’
It was Fisayo, my girlfriend, who informed Amara that my ears had been pierced. Amara ran into my room, and took a long stare at me through squinted eyes. She then knelt by me to feel my earlobes. I looked into her eyes, hoping that she would not judge me.
‘Awwww...your studs are pretty’ she said. ‘Do you have them in blue?’
‘I’ll get blue ones for you’
‘Sweet!’ she said as her thumb rubbed gently across one of the studs.
She does not know jack about Danjuma. She knows that I am in love with Fisayo. And she thinks I am Superman. I search for a suitable style to explain that I am not - that I have never been.
My phone rings. It is Danjuma. Fisayo just walked into the room. I feel her eyes stabbing me. I shut my eyes. My heart lashes at the world, pounding my insides. I do not understand anything.
It is the tenth call today. I wrench the battery out of the phone. Saying good bye to Danjuma is not an option, because I have never been successful. God help me. Please, write me this forever. He is calling my second phone.