Chikezie – The Man That Arrested a Police Officer

A lone policeman came to the old homestead to arrest him. He met Chikezie sitting under the udara tree eating his afternoon meal of pounded yam and soup made with stockfish.

“You! You bloody criminal! You thief! I have caught you today. Get up. You are under arrest” the policeman shouted and brandished a pair of handcuffs at Chikezie.

Chikezie, rolled a large ball of fufu in the soup and pinched a piece of stockfish into it with his thumb. He bent over the plate slightly as he put the mound in his mouth and swallowed. He looked up at the policeman.

“I’m eating. You cannot arrest me while I am eating” he replied chewing and turned back to his food.

“Come on get up! I said you are under arrest” the police man shouted and knocked over the stainless tray, with two stainless plates and a stainless steel mug of water on it. There was a metallic clatter and the pounded yam rolled away in the dirt and stopped in front of a startled billy goat eating his afternoon greens. The soup made a blotch in the dust as the plates rolled away.

Chikezie stared at the remains of his food. He had given his mother NGN1000 earlier in the morning to prepare it especially for him. He looked up at the police man with a spark of fire in his eyes.

“I said you are under arrest. Come on! Get up! You are coming to the station!” the police man shouted again and grabbed Chikezie roughly by the collar.

Chikezie sprang to his full height and stepped back, the police man stumbled against him, tried to hold him to steady himself and dropped the handcuffs. Chikezie brought his knee hard into the police mans groin and as he doubled over he took another knee into the police mans jaw. The man went down like he was pole axed. He came to a few seconds later found himself handcuffed and Chikezie removing his belt and boots.

The police man tried to shout for help. Chikezie shoved a piece of foam he tore out of an old mattress into his mouth.

Chikezie went to the police station with the man’s belt, beret and boots.

“These items belong to one of your men.” he said to the police man at the front desk from the relative safety of the door “He is in my cell in Ahumareze’s homestead. Go and bail him.”

He fled before they could stop him or ask him anymore questions.

An hour later a squad car arrived at his homestead with five police men. They found their colleague hands cuffed behind his back, a piece of dirty foam in his mouth and a rope around his ankles under the udara tree.

Chikezie watched from a distance while the police stomped around and made threatening noises. No body else was in the homestead, there were no witnesses. He smiled when they took the renegade cop away, hands cuffed in front of him.

Njaba River Copyright Lesley Agams 2015
Njaba River
Copyright Lesley Agams 2015

We Want People!

Its hot as hell. The days merge into one shimmering hot day after another. Hades was not this hot. The heat saps your strength and dulls your mind. A cotton wrap is the only suitable attire. I walk around the old homestead with my wrapper threatening to fall off. I never did learn how to tie one securely.  And I won’t tie it tight around my chest. I worry that it will flatten my already sagging breasts.

A child crawls on her hands and knees, dragging her legs behind her. Her father says it is some curse on the woman that reincarnated her. They have dug up the poor woman twice already and still the child does not walk.

“They did not do the ritual well. We will do it again” he reassures me.

Poor woman. If she had known that her reincarnation would bring such distress to her corporeal remains would she have come back?

“You are the reincarnation of Nwa’Anu, Aga’ekwe’s beloved sister” they told me.

Nwa’Anu died childless. The elders nodded wisely when I got pregnant at 15.

“She is in a hurry to have children in this lifetime” they had said sagely to my disappointed father.

We never talked about it, me and him. We never talked about why. He never asked and I had no word to explain to him the torment that sent me running into a lovers arms before I was old enough to know what love is.

On hot days like this there is nothing to do but sit under a tree and wait for the sun to go down. Then after a brief respite it is time to go to bed. Unless the moon is out and the natives stay out a couple hours longer in its cool illumination.

I sit under the big udara tree that my great grand father planted. In its shade I feel him near.

“Talk to me!” I demand of him roughly but there is only silence. Can I no longer hear the voices of the dead?

“Agwubuo lei! You must talk to me! You must tell me what I must do because I no longer know.”

My brothers are happy to see me.

“I always wished you were a man.” Ebere says to me. Its meant to be a compliment.

“I am Agwubuo’s mother” I reply and surprise myself.

Where did that come from? Why do the words ring true? My feelings towards them are motherly, tender, nurturing.

“Yes, you are. You are our mother.”

The mother that saved Agwubuo from his enemies. The mother that fortified the son to prevail against his enemies. The mother that protected her sons inheritance, his lineage and his dynasty.

Agwubuo the only son of his father and the father of a multitude. The multitude squabble and fight.

“It is better to have many descendants that squabble than to have no descendants to remember your name and your sacrifice for them.”

The multitude is in need of a mother.

Bahia 2008 Copyright Lesley Agams
Bahia 2008 Copyright Lesley Agams

Security Personnel in Abuja Abusing Pedestrians & Citizens

On Friday March 23, 2015 after the jumat prayers, Michael Adindu Olumba was walking past the Naval Building, the Ship House. He was coming from Area 10 where he had gone to print some brochures. There were no taxi’s going in his direction in the area so he decided to walk towards the next junction where he had found a taxi before.

He was wearing his earphones, listening to music and couldn’t hear the sounds around him. Suddenly he felt a slap. As he walked along the sidewalk in front of the Ship House the soldiers on sentry duty had tried to call him. Apparently walking in front of the Ship House isn’t allowed. When he didn’t answer they attacked him with a vicious slap and threw him to the ground.

Terrified and disoriented he didn’t resist and they dragged him back to their look out tent where the apparent leader was in mufti. They all held guns.  He said he was scared they would shoot him.

“Why are you walking in front of here? Don’t you know that this place is a security zone? We have been calling you? Why didn’t you answer? What do you have in your pockets? We will deal with you today!” the man in mufti shouted at him and started searching him.

They took all his money and were about to drag him further into their tent when a man at the gate gave a signal for them to let him go.

“You are lucky” they told him as they shoved him out again.

This wasn’t the only incident of over zealousness against citizens by the security forces. Mr. Mike Enahoro’s driver was severely beaten before witnesses at the gate of CBN earlier on the same day. His offence? He was allowed to drive in without a tag but when he tried to drive out and couldn’t give one to them at the exit gate he was dragged out of the car and assaulted by the soldiers on duty.

While I appreciate that we are on high alert in the capital due to the activities of Boko Haram violent abusive assaults on citizens are unconstitutional and infringe their fundamental human rights. I am now representing Michael Olumba.

Michael Olumba demands an apology from the men involved, disciplinary action against them and reasonable reassurances that it won’t happen again. Reassurance that the armed forces of Nigeria will respect his rights as a citizen, that where they must needs infringe on his rights and liberties for security reasons they inform him so he can cooperate with them. Reassurances that they will put clear and obvious signs around all security zones to enable pedestrians identify and avoid them. Reassurances that the Nigerian Army will invest in its personnel and provide necessary capacity building for them.  He also wants compensation for the mental and physical trauma that the Nigerian Army through its soldiers caused him.

We would like the national Human Rights Commission and the Nigerian Army/Navy to investigate and determine the precise circumstances of the matter and act accordingly and in manner that will send strong signals to all security and defence staff – that human rights abuses will no longer be tolerated.  We would like the NHRC to make policy recommendations to the armed forced on treatment of citizens in a democracy.

Restles Me II

If I wasn’t restless – I may have stayed in that backwater village all my life and had 10 babies and been married to one man all my life. Or ended up a director in the state civil service. Or a judge or a magistrate. Or something. Shudder. But I always wanted MORE. BETTER. I always wanted to build things, better things, make better, improve.

I’ve always been the scout. In my never ending search for something more and something new I find the new things, the new territory. And report back to those that will do whatever they will do with it. Sometimes I even participate in that phase but sooner than later I move on to look for the next thing. The new idea. The new way. The new possibilities.

I’m a ENFP on the Meyer Briggs scale. Its pretty accurate – I’m a visionary and I hate routine of any sort what so ever. I work best with a collaborative team that leverages its diversity. I need a strong finance and admin manager and strong program managers.

You have kept me from drifting off into the ether, Restless Me. Because I fly. Love you. I might have drifted right into a straight jacket! I may have lay in that field of clovers – dreaming – for all eternity.  God bless you.

The Energy that moves the Universe is restless too.

Yet I am also rooted, so strongly in that little village by the banks of the Njaba River. There is a silver thread that follows me to the edge of the Universe. And leads me home again. Where the heart is.

I embrace Restless Me and Grounded Me. They are one and the same. Or maybe just two sides of the same coin. Can you think of another cliche?

Alu Nwanyi Na Mma

Her name was Alumma. She was the first daughter of Agamekwe. She led a hard life. Her mother died when she was 15. She had three brothers, the youngest was just 7 when their mother died. It fell to her to cook and look after them. Agamekwe had four wives. Each wife took care of her hut and her children.

It was a heavy burden for a young girl. She was petite, just 5 foot 2, and slim of hip. She coped the best she could. She went to the farm, she went to the market, she came back and cooked for her brothers. When her older brother turned 22 he got married but the expectation that his wife would cook for them were never fulfilled.

Alumma got married at 25, a late age for a woman to marry in those days. Her slim hips made it difficult for her to birth a child. Her only baby died at birth but not before tearing her up so bad that for the rest of her life she leaked piss through her vagina. She never got pregnant again and her hut always smelled of stale piss.

Her husband beat her regularly after that. Her younger brother – her champion even when the teachers beat her in school came to her rescue. One day as dawn broke over the horizon, he arrived their house and trashed her husband so thoroughly she feared he would kill him. Then he took her back to their fathers house and promised to take care of her for the rest of her life.

She grew old there, subsisting on a small free hold they gave her to farm and the kindness of her siblings.  Hers was the only mud and thatch hut in the homestead. It was a single room ten feet by ten feet. Her doorway was so small you had to bend over double to pass through it. Her only window was just big enough to put your head through.

Her bed took up half the room, a clay pot for water and her cooking utensils filled the other half. She cooked in a lean-to by the side of her hut and slept with her chickens clucking under her bed. She was the poorest member of the family but she never ate without calling all the small children in the compound and giving them a morsel of her food.

When she was still strong enough to go to the market she sold roasted peanuts. Every few days she would gather sand in a large clay bowl and set it over a roaring fire. When the sand was hot she would add the shelled peanuts and stir them over the fire till they were done. Children would gather round her while she stirred and she would give each one a few hot peanuts.

She was a devout Christian and never went to the hospital or took medication, no matter how sick she was. She had the faith of a Daniel or an Ester. She would pray, drink her holy water, and anoint herself with her holy oil. If she got really sick she would go and spend a few days at her ‘mission’  where her church members would join her in prayer till she was better.

She died sick, poor and broken by a life of poverty and hardship just a few days after her brother – the one that rescued her.

If You Chew Me Baboon, I Will Chaff You Giraffe

My Grandfather Had Many Children  Copyrigtt Lesley Agams
My Grandfather Had Many Children
Copyright Lesley Agams

“Why do you like talking like a man in this compound. Look here my friend so long as you staying in this house I can tell you what to do.”

Really? The patriarchy rears its ugly head. Apparently I don’t talk ‘normal’ which apparently means I don’t talk submissively and hesitantly. Its always getting me into trouble.

“Why are you always giving orders? Are you a man?”

Who has experience with those police men that end an argument by telling you ‘After all I have a woman like you in the house.’

‘No’ I tell them, “you do not have a woman like me, you have a woman that doesn’t talk back and thinks your shit is ice cream, that is not me’

If you are into submissive women i don’t fit the bill. i will challenge you, argue with you, enrage you, maybe even insult you, turn your world upside down and generally rock your boat. I can’t help it. I am like a force of nature. Watch out.

So if you chew me baboon – if you give me attitude – I will chafe you a giraffe – I will react with an attitude bigger than yours. I am the queen of drama. I was brought up by lots of male drama queens. You learn to hold your own against the onslaught or you sink and disappear!

I keep it easy cause I don’t want to lose my cool you know. I have a tendency to use lethal force. And to want to end fights quickly with a knock out. Like a Mike Tyson.

I’m not struggling ‘man’ with anyone so its easier to move out of the homestead. Keep your manhood on! Umuaka has progressed. There are at least two to three hotels now. More if you count the numerous short time joints.

Moving into a hotel is a mini scandal. The natives are completely shocked. What kind of woman leaves the protection of her homestead to live in a hotel?

Where do the natives get this idea that women aren’t or shouldn’t be authoritative? Ever known anyone bossier than your mom?

Sometime Beer Parlour Gist Makes Total Sense


I was in a beer parlour enjoying agidi and goat pepper soup with some young friends and the conversion turned to marriage and relationships. The young men talked about what they want from a relationship.

Two of the  gentlemen agreed that a woman checking up on them, snooping through their phones and wanting to know where they been or how come they are late was important to them. One said he will suspect his woman if she doesn’t. Checking up on them is part of how they experience the love.

They also agreed that there is the other type of man that will and bark and growl at a woman for being snoopy if she makes the mistake of nuzzling his neck while he is reading a text message. Her protestations to the contrary will be dismissed as he aggressively protects his territory.

They said that those type of men are not transparent because they’re are hiding stuff. I asked them if they thought that maybe people just had different boundary tolerance. They agreed that some people are just more comfortable with intimacy than others. And some folks absolutely crave it.

Understand your own intimacy needs before you decide on a relationship. If you are affectionate and need intimacy you will experience constant rejection if you are in a relationship with someone who feels stifled or oppressed if you call him more than once a week.

And if you are the type that can’t stand having someone underfoot all the time don’t go getting involved with someone that needs constant attention. Understand your needs. Everyone has a someone that meets their needs.

I know a mature Nigerian woman who has a long distance relationship with a married man in the US. She says they speak once or twice a week and see on holidays and during the summer. It suits her, she is happy with it. It works for both of them.  I know another women whose husband won’t let her go to the market unescorted. She loves it!

Then there is a whole school of western biased thought that insists on autonomy (don’t read my phone no matter what) and honesty (I shouldn’t have to snoop through your phone, I trust you)

There is no one-size-fits-all, there is only what works for you. You have to understand your needs and have a relationship with yourself to get there.

The Messiah Cometh! Its the Buhari Effect

Its becoming mildly irritating. Every where you turn there is another reference to some great thing that Buhari will do or has done. By just existing. The stock market rebounded, the falling Naira bounced back, oil prices stopped their decline and Obasanjo gave back $20gazillion dollars. Even the Nigeria Army started beating Boko Haram.

Someone called it the Buhari Effect.

And whats with all the Open Letters?  Folks seem to be really optimistic that somehow he will notice their great ideas to change Nigeria and make them a minister.

I’m usually an optimist but governance in Nigeria has only ever fuelled my pessimism. Every ruler is worse than the one before him, steals more than the one before (him and his cabinet and his cronies) and is generally more scandalous than the last. It hasn’t changed. Ever.

Well actually it has – Nigeria’s corruption index fell under Goodluck Jonathan.  But never mind that – the man was incompetent. It must have been a fluke. Perception and reality.

If Nigeria were the case study for democratic governance we would quickly do away with democracy and bury it next to communism, Stalinism and Maoism.  Maybe its not democracy that’s the problem. Maybe its capitalism and elitism. Maybe it is just a lack of empathy and compassion.

I don’t envy the man Buhari right now. The expectation is ridiculous. The smart man says he will focus on three key areas – security, corruption and employment/economy (the last one is actually two areas and if he doesn’t know that we are in BIG trouble). Meanwhile, his campaign team will be conducting a policy forum tomorrow and Thursday to discuss policy in least two dozen other areas. Just another jaw jaw moment.

I’m an entrepreneur. Tony Elumelu nails it in his recent speech at Georgetown. We need entrepreneur led development in Africa and Nigeria. Politicians will be politicians.


Restless Me

After more than two years of cheap hotels, rented rooms, the occasional couch and when I get lucky a  friends spare room I have returned to the life I was running away from and *gasp* committed to a flat share for three months.

Thats all my restless spirt can handle right now. The thought of even paying one year rent (much less two) makes me go into a fit – I start to shiver and shake and my mind darts around like a mad woman in an asylum shouting ‘let me out of here’!

Baby steps – we can only handle baby steps right now.

And this is perfect …my flat mate shares some of my habits. She drinks and smokes for one. That helps. I’m too old to start pretending, hiding or making myself otherwise uncomfortable.

It has occurred to me that I should stop smoking and drinking and doing all those other things that someone somewhere said that I should but my spirit rises against ‘should’, ‘can’t’, ‘won’t’. Its like a red cape to a bull – I have no choice but to charge. The best way to make sure I do something – tell me I can’t or shouldn’t or something.

But I digress….

Of course I do, I am avoiding or possibly denying or maybe just refusing to look at the fact before me – I have made a commitment for three months!

I know, I know. I have been in my village for more than three months, and before that I was somewhere else for more than three months. And even before that but the moment by moment commitment was weekly, or monthly. I could pack up my bags and go when ever I chose to.


Its little wonder that I have been unable to keep a job more than a few years or for that matter a grown up relationship. I have not lived in the same town or in the same house for more than a few years since….many many many moons ago.

Restless and free spirit.

By the way, I’m about to sign a consultancy contract for one year. I am terrified! One year! A lot can happen in one year! What? A trip to Mars maybe?

The Shadow!

Compromise? Am I going to do this for the next one year and take off for that US road trip the year after that? Or no compromise? Keep running? Avoid deep ties at all costs? Give in to the restlessness? Keep moving.

Restless is part of who I am.

(How have you served me, shadow me, that I may love you?) 

There is a market, a bank and a gym just round the corner. I went to the ATM and decided to finally make that okra soup and pounded yam I’ve been craving since February. Cooking is such an act of love, and cooking for restless me is such a soothing act of self love.

Its going to be alright…