Category Archives: Free Reading

Girls Must Cut their Hair: Why Do Schools Make this a Requirement?

Generally, Nigerian school girls are expected to do something with their hair, especially if they attend public schools and government schools.  Private schools are more liberal, in my opinion, and some of them even allow students use hair extensions (attachment) during the school year.  But, I suppose with all the millions their parents sink into their school fees, that’s a minor trade off, ba?

However, most students attend government schools or public schools for secondary school, and it is these schools that tend to have restrictive rules for girls’ hair.

For the girls who attend these schools, the choices for grooming their hair fall into two categories:

  1. Braid (or thread) your hair
  2. Cut your hair

We have already looked at some of the popular hairstyles for Nigerian school girls.  It does not matter whether you choose that hairstyle yourself, or your school picks the hairstyle for you every week.  Bottom line is you can’t just “pack” your hair and come to school.  You must braid your hair. Period.

But, what about those girls who attend schools where they are required to cut their hair?  What then?  

Well, for starters, it means they don’t get to pick any hairstyle.  That has already been decided for them.  There is one single hair style, and it’s called “low cut.”

Why do schools have this requirement?  I have a few answers, but you can add your own too.  Here are my answers:

  1. Uniformity:  Since schools already regulate their students’ appearances with uniforms, it makes sense that the students’ hair would also be regulated.  So, for the sake of making everyone look uniform (in a good way, hopefully), they insist on having all students keep their hair in the simplest, fuss-free way possible, i.e. low cut.  My problem with this is that you can still achieve uniformity without making students cut their hair.  I think it’s a control thing.  Which brings us to # 2.
  2. Control:  Schools already control other aspects of students’ lives: their schedules, what time they go on break, etc.  That’s just the nature of schools.  Hair is just one more aspect they can control.  
  3. Economics:  Let’s face it: unless you braid your hair yourself or have someone who does it for free, braiding your hair every week or even every two weeks can really add up.  It’s an expense.  Not to mention the horrors of braiding your hair in the market, for example.  However, maintaining a low cut is also an expense, but it is definitely cheaper than braiding your hair every week.  Possibly schools realize this and insist on students cutting their hair to keep the cost of maintenance down.  But, I am not buying this argument.

I think it makes more sense to give students the choice to decide what they want to do with their hair, with some guidelines, rather than flat out insisting on low cut.

What are your thoughts? Why do you think schools insist on girls cutting their hair? Do you agree or disagree? Kindly share.

There is love in SHARING

How Many Boyfriends or Girlfriends is Too Many?

One of my favorite Yoruba movies, which is now classified as a Classic Yoruba movie, is Aya mi Owon (Madam Dearest)by Tade Ogidan (2005), starring Opeyemi Aiyeola, Sola Sobowale (a.k.a Toyin Tomato), Akin Lewis, Yemi Solade and Gabriel Afolayan among others.  This was my first Gabriel Afolayan movie, but that is not the only reason why I remember this movie with fondness.

The movie tells the story of a woman (played by Opeyemi Aiyeola) who wants a child of her own, and the subsequent drama that unfolds.  It’s not your typical predictable Naija movie, so if you have never watched a Yoruba movie ever before, I highly recommend this one.  It’s worth your time, believe me.

Without ruining the movie for you (in case you haven’t watched it), there is a particular scene where Sola Sobowale (who acted the part of Toyin Tomato in that Super Story series “Oh Father, Oh Daughter,” the “Suara” story) tells Opeyemi Aiyeola that she had 32 1/2 (thirty-two and a half) boyfriends before she married her first husband. 

Now, without worrying our heads about what exactly “half” a boyfriend is, let us assume that she is telling the truth and she dated that many men.

Let us also assume that by “dating” these men, she actually means she was in a committed relationship with each man, though the possibility of that is very low if you watched the movie.  If you assume this, then the question that you need to answer is this: isn’t 32 and a half boyfriends too many? Or even 32 and a half girlfriends too?

I would say Yes.  I know a woman might have to kiss many frogs before she meets Prince Charming (not the one in Shrek, please), but 32 and a half ke? Chai! Chai! Chai! At some point, that person should have taken a long break from dating and decide what they really want in a relationship … or in life, for that matter.

What about you? Do you think dating that many people is over the top or just a necessary path to tread before meeting the right person?  Please share your thoughts o!

P. S. What is “half” a boyfriend? The jury is still out on that one.  We shall find out together.

There is love in SHARING


Ibidun was just like every woman, she wanted to be the first to use the best or something new. So, it wasn’t a wonder when she scurried about to look for something to break that hard-as-stone maggi that refused to break.

But the idiot wouldn’t bulge and she couldn’t use stone to break it, so she was compelled to throw it into the boiling red soup like that with no fear. It would melt by itself.

When her daughter, and luckily for her, her friend arrived, she was beaming and ready to show them the soup, the grand soup she had just cooked and the wonderful taste it would have. She, like her friend, was a good cook who cooked and didn’t need to taste it for salt or other things because with instinct of a master, they knew their soup was good.

‘ Whoa’, she said rejoicing, ‘I just got a maggi that you’ve never tasted in your life. You people will be the first to taste from the master’s soup’.
So, when she dished it for them and they frowned, she recoiled.
‘ What’s wrong with it?’

‘ Ibidun, did you use sugar to cook?’
‘ Sugar? May God not let us see fire in a well. When Maggi have not finish in the world’.
‘ That’s imposible’, she said and tasted it for the first time and dropped the spoon as though it had become fire,’ my head oooo’.
‘ Where’s the maggi you use. I mean where are the wrappers?’
‘ No need for wrappers, I still have more’.
She hurried inside and rushed back, staring at it.

‘ It’s milo Maggi’.
‘ Ah mummy that’s not maggi. That’s choco milo. It’s a sweet’, her daughter said and gave her friend a side-glance and they buckled in laughter, while she stood staring at them, calculating how much she spent on the soup.

There is love in SHARING


Here is the change we see

Economy of low value
What a dirty low down trick
Liqueur of ancient taste
Your agenda of change
Here is our dignity, our peace
Nobleman of ancient linage
Lets taste the race
But to run with force fear
Hard tough fellow
Calm and quiet
Go through your peaces
As the evidence suggest
Responsibility as a father
Disappearing quickly from sight
We could not think of it
You need an even surface to work on
Children do not learn at an even peace
Act in order to avoid an unpleasant situation
Our faces are force with anger
Our mouth can’t even say what we see
The heart so smooth is bitter

There is love in SHARING


She stood just as he sat in the seat opposite hers. He smiled. ‘ Are you afraid I’ll make you fall in love’.

She seemed rattled, eyed him and walked away. He sat still and knew she would return, for something, to show him he was not as handsome as he presumed.

He began to count time and continued even after he ordered for a drink and a pie. When he got to 250, he knew he was wrong but she would think of him that day.

Suddenly, she came back, sat opposite him and started bringing things out of bag.

‘ This is Samsung Galaxy S7, this is my Hyundai Sonata’s key, this is my duplex’s house. So no, you can’t make me fall in love with you. I fall for men of higher status’.

He had none of those, just his good looks and his mother’s rented apartment and maybe few certificates that showed a good future.

‘ But I’ve done that already. All I need now is to..’ he said and took her phone and typed his number into her phone and stored the number. ‘ put my number here’.

‘ You’re an arrogant fool’, she growled as she smatched her phone on the ground.
He stared at her, shrugged and stood from his seat. ‘ So, if we marry this is how you will destroy everything I’ll work for. But I will teach you’.
‘ I won’t fall in love with you’.

‘ Let’s meet for dinner here tomorrow’.
‘ You are stupid. See this guy o. Wetin you get. See him cut and sew trouser. idiot with no value.’
He walked out and home.

That night, a call came in. He picked the call nonchalantly.’ I’ll meet you for dinner and would show you you can’t make me fall in love’.

There is love in SHARING


There was no noise anywhere for the first time in a long time as I moved to urinate in the toilet. The silence was extremely unbearable.

Did I sleep till the next day? I rushed to the parlour and went outside. The sky was dark and there were light in the different houses of our street. There was an unusual silence.

Oh I lie! There was the regular noise of Tunde and Segun, my playful four-year-old friends (they were actually twins); there was the noise of our neighbour Mr. George and Aunty Grace, another neighbour whose moan and cry of ‘oh more!’ never ceased to filter to my ear. Mum had told me to always leave that side of the house whenever I hear that noise that it would corrupt my heart, and I believed her.

But I still searched for that humming, buzzing, head-pounding noise which was not there again. I hurriedly ran inside, to the kitchen and tugged my mum’s wrapper, not minding that she was still shouting instructions to my elder siblings- Segun and Tofunmi- to put water in the fridge and to dust the pepper-blender we had never had cause to use in a long time.

‘Mummy, everybody have buy big generator.
They have off their generator and we also have light’, I said half delighted, half surprised that we who couldn’t afford generator (whose father still returned home with his dusty, tattered shoes, distraughted after searching for jobs, whose mother was the bread winner )would be able to afford a generator.

She smiled brightly at me and shook my head playfully, ‘no honey. PHCN has restored our

I nodded and the light went off and returned again then I learnt a new phrase, ‘ Up NEPA’. Then, the light went off again. And the generators resumed their duties.

Seeing the need to take count, I began to watch out for the day people would cry the phrase again, but it came only twice in November- once on a Sunday and the second time on Friday for five minutes.
It came again last month, but nobody put off their generator for two hours. But the light remained, till 5 a.m and went off. This was February.

We are still expecting the shout of ‘Up Nepa’.

There is love in SHARING


**Apo Filling Station Enugu**

(A Den for the Wayward Boys)

For those who have had the experience, the very mention of “Apo Filling Station,” rakes up ashes of old bitter memories. It is NOT a filling station as the name implies in case you are wondering. This corner of the universe which is a junction, situated somewhere around the out sketch of Garki, is regarded as bandit territory. A breeding ground for thieves that are well trained for the ‘snatch and run’. It also has been a front for many ‘dark’ activities where some budding number of misguided youths, converge to harbour dark thoughts and of course, put to practice their street learned craft.

But painful enough, it is the wrong kind of craft. Here, their minds are bent, their heads turned, their promising hands taught to handle contrabands, weapons, wrap ‘weed’, while their fresh untainted lips are taught to drag it in one more time. Most importantly, they are sensitized on how to survive on the streets.

First thing you notice about Apo filling station is that supercharged energy in the atmosphere as a result of its teeming population especially during the evening hours. The buzzing loud speakers from record stores, the incessant honk of car horns, the chit-chats and laughter. This is from people who engage themselves in the act of road side trade like buying, selling, hawking and not forgeting, window shoppers. As it should be, it brings about daily routine of slow traffic which sometimes goes into a stand still. All these activities happen on a single lane, so you can understand the basis behind the “hold up”.

Submit your Gists here @africanentertainment.infoIt is the nerve center for commercial activities within that axis, but don’t let ‘anything’ snag your attention, while you are on that traffic, not even the sound of your own car stereo. Keep it down! Keep your eyes peeled, your ears pricked and your sensitivity level a hundred. And while you are it, make sure your valuables like phones, tablets or laptops are not within sight especially if you are sited close to the window. If possible, wind up.

These miscreants are well bred in spoting a potential ‘snatch’. As soon as that bright glow from your phone’s screen runs into their ‘beady and shifty’ eyes, they will approach you with careful stealth like a hunter who just caught sight of an unaware deer. Behind you, they will continue to trail, waiting for the perfect second to engage their fast fingers and that will be the end of it. Their strike is always lightening fast. You will never see it coming. Gifted with perfect reflexes and quick legs, they will disappear into the nearest street corner before you even get a chance to unlock the door.

And if you decide to chase after them, be sure to have more than your own legs. Engage the services of about four to six more legs. That way, you stand a chance of apprehending the thief. Because by virtue of their congested neighbourhood and fascinating road network, you will find it very challenging staying close to their heels. They cut corners real fast. That is because they know every street corner and hideout like the hand knows its way to the mouth even at night.

At Apo filling station Enugu, phones and valuables change ownership within minutes. This thing is real and not some fabricated tale. And yes I know every town has got dreaded territory, but I had to bring this one to light for the unaware brothers and sisters.

Stay at alert…
Stay at alert…

There is love in SHARING


He died twenty-three days ago and today was his funeral.

So many people have come. He had been that popular and that well-loved.

His mother was wailing. I could hear the loud, piteous cries from outside the window of the room where I was kept. He had been her only son, her most priced jewel.

She wasn’t the only one crying; his sisters too were; his uncles and aunts, with his innumerable cousins, they too were crying. Crying, not wailing like Mama. Somehow their grief had a measure of self-restraint. No one consoled the other. No one from the teeming number of family members. They were all the chief-mourners; none was more aggrieved than the other. They had all lost a priceless, irreplaceable gem.

I wasn’t wailing. Not in Mama’s way.

I wasn’t crying, not in the restrained relatives’ way.

But the glistening of tears covered my eyes and blurred my vision as I stared straight ahead in that small mourning room that was provided me in his parents’ home. It was just his mother’s home now as his father had passed over a decade ago. I sniffed, intermittently, and blew my nose into the ragged, green face-towel I held crumpled in my hand. It had belonged to him. It is odd how now it dried my tears and bore the burden of the phlegm that came from my nostrils.

I heard the sound of a snuffle close to me and I added my own, dragging mine out as I blew my nose noisily. One must not mourn more than the bereaved—that was the saying of our people. The one bereft must cry loudest, sniff more and moan more miserably at the loss of their loved one. But some wanted to compete with the true mourners. They would cry longer than you and sniffle repeatedly as if the loss was personally their own.
Grief Parade.

The term I have recently coined for their gratuitous display of grief. I did not consider sane thought something a bereft person was capable of until I became a widow and the long days and quiet nights provided the hours I seemed to have lacked for reflection. He was gone and suddenly I could think, and for myself. He was gone and for the first time in years, my thoughts were not prompted by another person and they were not rebuffed even before they were fully formed. I spent hours in thought; there was little else I could do sitting on the mat laid out for my mourning.

My thoughts journeyed from the past to the present and then travelled far into the future. What was will be no more. What is will change as each new day dawned. What will become swirled with its waves of uncertainty and possibilities.

My life has changed. He was dead, and without warning, my life was changed. The change still stunned and bewildered me. The change still shook and overwhelmed me. The change was still yet indefinable. It was not yet clear what it will be, but it has come and it will never go away. Not to the past, at least.

The rustle of a rising body pulled me from my pondering. I blinked and a tear dropped as I raised my head to focus on my mourning partner. She wasn’t really a partner; we were not co-wives, or even co-widows. She was only assigned to keep watch over me and console me when I grieved too hard. Tradition, no one can escape it. I did not need her and something told me, she did not wish to be constantly imprisoned and punished just because I had lost my husband. But it was tradition and duty, so neither she nor I could violate it.

“Time to pay your last respect to him.” She said.

Her voice was raspy from her crying. She too was a cousin; three times removed, I think.

I said nothing. A response wasn’t expected as talking lessened the depth of one’s grief. The only kind of speech expected of me was the wailing words that accompanied the loud, rather dramatic, howls of grief. Any other kind should be low-toned mutters of request to do the natural and inevitable.

She led me out to a white decorated room that had until the night before been the living room where visitors were welcomed and entertained. There were people there now but they were not visitors, not today. Today, at his funeral, everyone was a mourner, none was a guest.

“Honour him for the last time.” My mourning partner instructed, nudging me forward towards the casket that was set on a white lace decorated table and left open.

His coffin was black, I noted even as I stepped forward with heavy, grief-laden steps. I thought it apt. Black was his favourite colour. And even more apt, he was dressed in a black suit. I knew the suit. It was one he’d worn on our wedding day two years and three months ago. They hadn’t asked my opinion on what he should be worn for his interment and they hadn’t asked where they could find the suit. They hadn’t needed to; they now kept the keys to our flat in the city. Everything that was his was now theirs. A wife had nothing acceded to her when she lost her husband, except the change in title. And for that change in title, she was expected to mourn a full year, at the very least.

I looked at him. Through the blur of my tears, I could see him. He did not look like himself. Once he was tall and big and vibrant. Today, on the silky white bed of the black coffin, he looked shrunken, small and lifeless. He was indeed dead. The realisation hit me, afresh, and it brought a wail, high-pitched and drawn, through my lips.


A single cry that earned many grunted sounds of consolation, some even of approval, at the reverent show of grief.
He was indeed gone. My husband was gone. My marriage has ended. My lips trembled and shuddered against each other as my wails dropped to groans and soundless cries. I looked at him. I did not touch him. That was not expected and would probably be rebuffed.

I looked at his face. It was blank, without expression. But I saw, in fast-moving succession, the different expressions his face had worn in the two years and three months of our marriage. I saw myself seeing those expressions and cringing visibly before them. I would never again have to cringe, not before those dreaded expressions.

I moved my gaze to his mouth and remembered his kisses. Passionless and brutal. I bit my lips and sniffled because the future before me would spare me those silently-endured kisses.

My reverential gaze of grief swept over to his hands. These were the hands that struck me, each in turn, against the cheek and when clenched into fists, dealt me blows for having unwittingly erred. These hands, constricted around my neck, had nearly snuffed the life out of me one Sunday morning exactly a year after our wedding day and all because I had allowed his cousin, a younger male, to hug me in church that day. After today, when they would be swallowed up by the already six feet deep dug earth with the rest of his body, they would never again return to chastise me with physical pain.

No part of him—not the mouth that viciously kissed and hatefully cursed me, not the hands that brutally and repeatedly struck me, not the feet that rammed into my sides or back when his hands were not enough to do the job and not his manhood which he plunged into me, without affection or passion, to satisfy his God-given husband right—none of them would ever again possess the power and the right to bring me pain.

I was free.

Two years of sorrow, anguish and regret, and finally, I was free. The future before me was uncertain but in its uncertainty, there lay too many possibilities. I placed my hand against the child that was warm and unseeingly present in my womb, and allowed the last of my reverential tears to fall.

Then I turned and walked, with my child, into that future.

There is love in SHARING


Akíntayo Akínjídé

Dedicated To All Nigerian Soldiers

Some of the other soldiers in the bus sang that sad song that became popular after Paul Walker died. Jesse never cared to learn the lyrics. The song was definitely too sad to be learnt. And he hated negative energies like the one the song emitted. The only thought on his mind was what waited for them ahead. The truck danced wearily in the forest till it couldn’t go any further.

They jumped down and filed out like ants. Their antenna were ready to scan out the hideouts of the Boko Haram sect. Jesse checked his backpack and the knives he kept at strategic places.

‘ Jesse, from you, I need a head count’, their captain shouted.
‘ One’
‘ Two’
The number circled through the voices of the comrades around him. He loved the way the sound came become the forest seem to be devoid of any sound. Even, the tree refused to shake or making any noise.

‘ Good, welcome to a new world’, the captain said with his hands behind him. ‘ I know many of you are ready to fight for your nation, but I must advise you to be cautious. No one must leave the camp without a partner’.

His partner, Murudeen, nudged him. They were buddies who had clawed their ways to the top of their class and into the heart of their teachers. Jesse smiled warily. He was prepared for Sambisa forest. If he died there, his girlfriend would have no cause to weep. Even if he died, he must have had a lot of blood bath in his wake. He would see the red liquid splashing from a battered head and he must relish the yell of the enemy lest he became the victim.

Before he left home, he had done the unspeakable. His girlfriend, Mide, was mad at him when she met him sleeping with another woman. Normally, he wouldn’t have left home, Fortune City, without making her know the truth, without making her know that he was the one who hatched the plan.

Yet, it was a better information. He preferred her to feel hurt, to cry, to be angry, to nurse the wound of being hurt emotionally than for her to know he had left home for Sambisa forest. She didn’t have capacity for such fear, such news. Worrying about him might kill her before he returned home, if he ever returned.

African entertainment ‘ Now, soldiers are you ready? March out’.

The soldiers chanted in response, and used their boots to crush the grasses on their way to their new camp. They moved to their Anthill, from where they would launch their attacks and watch many of their men die and prepare for their own death.

There is love in SHARING


“Hmm, I think I did well today”, I said to myself. The morning never seems so promising, I thought losing my turn that morning was the last for the day. Sam had her 100% attention, I was left standing alone, greeting my other colleagues, saying “hi” wasn’t much  fun for a day like this. All I wished was walking up to her and starting all over again like I was seeing her for the first time. Just this time, I will be the one saying “hi” first.

My thoughts were cut short when the course supervisior and a park of group captains and sub captains led the way to the temporary venue we’d use for the day. ” Shet! I can’t believe I’ll ever receive lectures in this hall again”, I thought, as I made my way gently to the top floor of the complex where the lecture was set to hold for the day.

I found myself a seat at the back of the class as usual. “Hmm, first day of resumption and I can’t even change sitting position”, I said in my mind, I’ve not been much of a serious student the previous class, I had been a lone quiet backbencher. ” I can’t really believe I’m doing this again”, I said to myself. My imaginations and thoughts were interrupted by Chichi, one of the girls I spent my holiday chatting with. “Ola”, she said as she walked towards the front of the lecture room. I couldn’t even reply before she zoomed off. ” Well, it’s all good jare”, I said to myself.

Throughout the lecture, I was stalking her. Watching her every move, every dude or babe she spoke to. I was busy thinking of what to say just in case I get another opportunity to speak to her. ” I must make a good impression”, I thought to myself. The lecture was a long and boring one, I could barely make a sentence.  The public address system was not available and as expected the noise was to much for interested backbenchers like me to hear clearly.

Finally the boring lecture ended. I stood up to adjust my tie and ensure my shirt was still as smooth as ever. I waited patiently for her to walk my way so I can make the so called good impression. Before I knew it, while I was a little distracted complimenting my guys, she was already with Sam again. “This time I must not retreat so fast”, I said to myself. I approached them, greeted my guy and with a smile I said “hi” to her. I wasn’t even worried about what they were discussing. I finally had the opportunity of getting her to tell me what she’s been up to, how she likes my new haircut and co. Well, the whole sweet moment was interrupted by my roommate, it was time to return to the hostel. I said goodbye with hopes of chatting with her later at night. “Hmm, I think I did well today”, I said to myself as matched back to the hostel.

There is love in SHARING