For Nam, my friend.

You might know her as 3frenchens, contributor and editor on this site.

I know her as Namrata, a close friend who over and over has shown me what it means to be kind, and for whom I will do anything, make any sacrifice.

Today is her birthday.

This is for her.


I do not often feel a sense of loss, but I do now. My memory card crashed some time ago, and I can no longer find your pictures. I had only one of us together, taken at Capto’s wedding, and now it’s gone there’s a hole in my chest. But a lack of pictures does not diminish you in my heart. Those memories are clear, stark, embossed on my heart, impressed in my mind.

My memories of you are warm, cheery, glowing with my happiness and your tinkling, sincere laughter. I remember you dancing to Jasi in the back of my car. I remember the long discussions on love and Christianity and prayer, and how your Bible rested at the head of your bed. I remember you on ShopRite queues, and your absolutely delicious jollof. I remember you with Ms Karen, and the frissons I felt as you told your story. I remember you in Barcelos, and holding my brother as he cried and I ran around. You are kind and wonderful and a special, remarkable lady, Namrata, and I am blessed to know you and be your friend.

The memories almost make up for how much I miss you. Almost, but not quite. I miss you something powerful. It’s almost a physical ache. You would think the passage of time will soothe, but it doesn’t. I speak 5 languages, and I cannot fully express how much I miss you in any one of them. Absence might indeed make the heart grow fonder, but the void it leaves is cavernous.

I wished I had started to be your friend much earlier. If I knew then what I know now, on that day with the red teddy bear in Foodco, I would have seized the chance. We had but a short time to be in the same physical space, but what a time it was! It’s true what they say: quality beats quantity everyday.

I want to say thank you. For being my friend. For Enugu. For stopping me from losing my faith. For Sunday lunches in your room. For showing me a better way. For UCH A&E, wherein, for the umpteenth time, you showed me what love is. For praying for me. For Ranchosblog. For Abu Dhabi. For everything.

I have prayed for you, Namrata, and God knows I meant every word. He sees my heart, and he knows I have nothing but the very best wishes for you. When He begins to manifest and show Himself in and for you, receive it with thanksgiving. Because He will bless you. He is a just and fair God, and He will do far more for you than you’ve done for me, far more for you than you expect or imagine. So be ready, be prepared, for His awesomeness.

May God’s light shine upon you and light your way. May men go out of their way to favour you. May the works of your hand, the fruits of your lips, everything you do be blessed. May God be happy with you. May the blessings of Abraham be yours, world without end. May Jesus come through for you. May God keep us till we meet again.

Happy birthday, dear Namrata. I love you.


2017, or something about eggs. 

I ate two boiled eggs today.

If you don’t know me, this will not sound like much of a deal. If you know me, you would have realized by now what a giant step this was for me.

For as long as I have known, I have hated boiled eggs. A hard-boiled egg stinks, the yolk is the disgusting yellow colour of a tetracycline capsule, and boiled eggs do not lend themselves to garnishing and efizi in the way, say, an omelet does. I have had arguments with girlfriends, refused to touch meals and salads, and vomited at table because of boiled eggs. 

But I ate two boiled eggs today. Because I have committed to facing the things that scare me and doing things I do not like, if it will lead to me breaking new grounds and  hitting more goals. Eating an egg is not much, but it is a metaphor for something deeper, something much more serious.

Compliments of the season, and a happy 2017 to you. Those boundaries? You will break them. Those heights? You will scale them. Those eggs? You will eat them, and in doing so discover that while you still don’t like them, you no longer feel as nauseated. Progress, no?
Here’s to 2017. Onwards and upwards.



2103hrs. 6th October, 2016. Port-Harcourt, Nigeria.


Aunty Nene was family, although we had no genes in common. She worked for my aunt. She came in every morning and stayed till around 5pm, cooking and cleaning and providing company. When I visited my aunt, I often went to her house. She was there when I was born (the last time I was in Enugu, she pointed out the hospital I was born in), and had watched my cousins, siblings and myself grow up with the fondness and pride an old Japanese lady takes in her bonsai plants.


I think about death a lot, in a philosophical, academic way. Do the dying know they are dying? How does it feel on the other side? Is dying better than living? People condemned to die fascinate me. If you knew the hour and minute destined for your death, how would you approach it? What would you do differently?

The worst thing about death is its impact on those left behind. The dead are gone, and what happens here does not concern them. We are left to mourn their demise, celebrate their lives, sorrow and weep and accept grudgingly that we will not see them again.

The joint worst thing about death is how final it is. It is irreversible, a giant period sign at the end of life.

The next worst thing about death is how abrupt, how sudden it often is.


My mother called me about 30 minutes ago. I was lying in the dark, debating whether to sleep or not.

‘I noo n’ulo?’


“Aunty Oby kpoolum kita. O si na Grandma kporo ya, na Aunty Nene nwuru this afternoon.’


‘They were watching TV and she shouted “my head, isi’m”, and the next thing she was dead. Grandma is in shock. O daghi a zaa phone.’


Death’s suddenness struck with my uncle. One minute he was standing to his full 6ft7in height and planning the future. The next he was lying on his back in the hospital, complaining of malaria symptoms. 2 days later, he was a corpse.

It has struck again with Aunty Nene. I can only hope she felt no pain.

Goodbye, Aunty Nene. You were one of the most caring, selfless people I have ever met. I hope you find peace on the other side.


A Short Treatise on Friendship.

A few days ago, I clashed with my friend of 15 years. It was rather messy and was very public, but thankfully it was a misunderstanding that has now been cleared up. When the matter was settled and things were back to normal, I remembered this post. I wrote it 2 years ago, and it is me thinking of what friendship means to me. 

I consider friendship one of life’s greatest gifts. Good friends are hard to find, and are often the difference between a great life and a bland one. But what makes a good friend? I do not know, and I promise to let you know when I find out. What I DO know is what makes a bad friend.



On 10th December 2014, I was in Ibadan, the penultimate leg of my 5-day, 5-city, cross-country travels, part of my Ajala Travels® persona. I was exhausted from the trip of the day before, but I dragged myself to the campus of the University of Ibadan. I was looking forward to seeing a dear friend and sister, someone I hadn’t seen in a while, and not even the hounds of hell could have held me back. In spite of how I felt, it was a good day: the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and my stomach was full of some excellent jollof rice and moinmoin. I was excited and happy, and was looking forward to having a great day.


You see, I’m a friendly guy. I take after Proverbs 18:24a and show myself friendly, ergo, I have quite a few friends. Because of this, while I was on the university campus, I ran across another old friend. One thing led to another, and I was presented with the quite astonishing bit of news that I was a heavy smoker. I was not only informed that I was a human chimney capable of processing and releasing copious amounts of cigarette smoke, In addition, I received information that it was thought by the general populace that I was partaking in the illicit pleasures and dubious happiness associated with and obtained from burning the dried leaves of the shrub known botanically as Cannabis sativa. I was also reliably advised that I was, in addition, quite the drinker, in spite of all my protestations that I had not tasted a drop of alcohol since December 28, 2009.


It was an extraordinary, earth-shattering piece of news, shaking all I knew to its very foundations. It was like me discovering that I was really Angelina Jolie’s younger brother and the complexion of my skin was really only a minor inconvenience that could be fixed by lifting the skin at my fingertips and peeling off the overlying layer of black to reveal the Caucasian underneath. A few minutes previously, I had been convinced that I had never lifted a stick of cigarette to my lips in my life, but as she continued talking, I began to have doubts. Here was unimpeachable evidence from an utterly trustworthy, impeccable source who had no doubts whatsoever she had seen me taking a few deep puffs behind the wheel as I drove, and I began to question my convictions. Could it be that, in a moment of weakness, I had unconsciously taken a few puffs of the good stuff? Could it be that, in that fuzzy state between drowsiness and full sleep, I had repeatedly lifted a bottle of premium quality whisky to my lips and then downed it?


A quick survey of some of my friends revealed that they were privy to the same information I had received, and most of them had believed it for months. I started to believe they were right. You see, the Chinese say that if many people call you a horse, it may be time to buy a saddle. All of a sudden, all the pointed glances, roundabout questions and knowing nods I had been receiving made sense. I had been wondering why so many people I hadn’t talked to in a while suddenly felt the need to check up on me and inquire about my life and my relationship with God. I had thought it was because I had the best friends in the world, people who, despite the challenges of distance and busy-ness, had not forgotten me. As I stood on the sun-drenched tarmac of the parking lot, I received clarification: some of the people I called friends were actually complete idiots.


“A good friend should, on receiving stories about you, defend, correct, or confront you.”


You see, my problem was not the accusation. I have been accused of much worse in my stay on earth, and so it didn’t really get to me. My real problem was that so many people I thought of as friends had heard of (and/or spread) the rumor for months, and not one person among the hearers and spreaders thought it necessary to bring it to my notice or challenge me to my face. I can’t possibly imagine why. I look like everyone’s chubby, friendly uncle, and even my mortal enemies agree I’m a good listener. I cannot imagine why no one wanted to come and say stuff to my face.


It is said that I keep to myself and do not let people get close to me. This explains a lot. Among many others, it explains why certain ‘friends’ couldn’t NOT imagine me as an igbo smoker. It explains why they did not burst into uncontrollable laughter upon receiving such asinine, albeit juicy, bits of information. It is because they do not know me. Among my inner circle, any such gist would have been met with the waves of dismissal and derisive laughter it deserved.


This is neither denial nor explanation. I could go on and on, but I want to keep this under 1,200 words, so I’ll summarize here.

  1. You have more idiot friends than you imagine.
  2. Any ‘friend’ that does not confront, defend or correct you when s/he hears gist about you is proof you need new friends.
  3. The ones that confront, defend or correct you are your real friends. Keep them close. If they do it to your face, marry them, same sex or not.
  4. Some of your friends will spread stories about you, but since they are not very close to you, it will be gist about the kind of things you can never do, lacking in factual accuracy. Some of your idiot friends will believe the stories. Ignore both spreader and believer. Their suits are not alright.
  5. Your real friends know the kind of things you can or cannot do, and will filter gist accordingly.
  6. Looking friendly is not guarantee enough that people will want to tell you things about yourself. Also, it doesn’t help you get a girlfriend, which is why I have decided to grow a beard and look more sinister.


That will be all.


Knock knock.

Bablo: Hello everyone, and welcome.

Nam: No, your eyes are not deceiving you. It really is us.

Bablo: You can’t greet ba?

Nam: Why are you shouting?

Bablo: See this one. You people, it’s Nam that knows why we have not been here since last year o.

Nam: So it is me you want to blame?

Bablo: Better start explaining to us why this blog was inactive for so long.



Unlooks steadfastly

Bablo: Talk. People are waiting.  


stand up comedy cant explain


Bablo: SMH. Just look at yourself.

Nam: We will make it up to you, you hear? Send us your bank account numbers.

Bablo: We wil…wait, what?

Nam: *ignores me and starts hugging people and sharing crisp N1000 notes.* 

Bablo: What’s all this, Jackie?

Nam: IMG_20160608_022405_265

Bablo: It’s like you have you not heard that the economy is tough.

Nam: No, I have not heard. Money is not a problem.

Bablo: Oshey, Sarkodie.

Nam: We are sha back.

Bablo: Like Terminator.

Nam: Like a mother from the market.

Bablo: Like the Prodigal Son to his father’s house after his sufferhead sojourns.

Nam: Like gastric acid regurgitated from your belly.

Bablo: Urgh. Such a nerd.

Nam: -_-

Bablo: You had to spoil it.

Nam: It’s not my fault.

Bablo: Os courfe.

Nam: Guys, we’ve missed you.

Bablo: Yes, indeed. We really did miss you.

Nam: And we will make it up to you.

Bablo: As long as it doesn’t involve bank accounts, I am all up for making up.

Nam: SMH. Broke man.

Bablo: Thanks. 

Nam: Thank you guys for commenting and asking and keeping in touch.

Bablo: It was very touching. Pun intended. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.

Nam: This time we will do better and not run off.

Bablo: We ain’t going nowhere. We promise.

Nam: We’ll be seeing you around.

Bablo: Like next weekend, when a post will go up.


Fatherhood is mostly a thankless job.

As I grow older, I realize this more and more. A lot more praise and gratitude is given to mothers, and their sacrifices are lauded and proclaimed from the rooftops. While I do not have a problem with that, seeing as mothers already have 3 days a year to be appreciated, I will try and keep the focus on fathers today.

Fatherhood is a lifelong, underappreciated job. So much of what fathers do is treated with (not quite) disdain (as a certain sort of comfortable indifference). Fathers are not allowed to blow their trumpets- they are not doing anything special; they are only doing what they are expected to do. A man’s responsibility is to his family, and unlike Nigerian politicians, he is not supposed to demand for a parade and celebratory fireworks simply for fulfilling expectations.

For the most part, fathers do not mind. The onus on a man to provide for his family does not depend on the feedback he receives from them, and so they just put their backs to the task at hand and work to provide for their families.

On days like this, I reflect on how heavy the burden that is fatherhood really is. I am working and earning a living, and with each passing day, I appreciate just how much sacrifice my father had to make to provide for us. There is only so much that can be done with a paycheck, no matter how robust, and paying bills has opened my eyes to the fact that a man often has to ignore his desires and needs so his family is comfortable and not open to ridicule.

It gets even more overwhelming with the realization that fathers are not only head providers, they are heads of the home. That means a father is the head support-giver, the head driver, the in-house handyman, the one who takes the tough decisions, the one who negotiates with armed robbers for the lives of his family, the one who provides a marker for his children, the one who plots the course for the affairs of the family, the spiritual leader in the home, and so much more.

All this with almost no appreciation or recognition. It is true what they say. To be a man (and even more gravely, to be a father) is not a day’s job.

This is for our fathers. We do not always appreciate or acknowledge the extent of what you have to go through for us, but on this day, Father’s Day, we solemnly salute your struggles and sacrifice. We do not always give you the honour and gratitude you deserve, but today, we raise glasses and chins and celebrate you, thankful for what you have done and the roles you have played in our lives. We do not always agree with your decisions and actions, but we who bear your name are today standing under your flag, here to tell you that when the going gets tough, you can keep counting on our support.

We believe in your government.

This is for my father.

They say that by the time a man realizes that his father was right about most things, he already has a son who thinks he is wrong about most things. I have the good fortune of both not having a child yet and appreciating that you were right about a lot of things early on.

We are simultaneously alike and different, two men who are enigmas to everyone else, that are multi-capable and extremely versatile, and will do what it takes, keeping with our principles and conscience, to achieve goals and get results.

I want to say thank you. Every day, as I journey further into this time-space continuum that is life, I appreciate how much of a burden you had to bear for us. Thank you for providing, for guiding, for praying for, for loving in your own way.

Thank you for supporting me, even though you don’t always agree with my decisions. Wole wrote something that is in line with what I feel, and I will paste it here.

…a mother’s love and care is something special, but a father’s support is worth more than a trailer load of diamonds.”

People say I take after you, and pride swells in my breast. You have taught me how to take charge, how to bear responsibility, and that is something that I treasure greatly. When you call me to check up on the house while you’re away, I feel that warm glow that comes with your trust, with the quiet assuredness that I will not let you down. When mum or one of my brothers calls me to help them solve a problem and they speak with the conviction that I will solve it, I get to work, certain that I will not fail them. You see, you made me think that way. You made me banish excuses from my vocabulary. You made me aware of the delightful little pleasures that come with solving problems and bearing the burden that is responsibility.

More than anything else, I want to make you (and mum) proud of me. There really is no better feeling than a father saying “that’s my son”, and I want you to be able to say that both in my presence and away from me. You know how when after Jesus was baptized the heavens opened and the voice said “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…”? I want that.

You are a good man, and you have done your best to be a good father. May God bless you and grant you both the life and health to reap the fruits of your travails. May your dreams come true, and may you always be happy.

Happy Father’s Day daddy. I love you.


Mother’s Tears.

Happy New Year, everyone. Rancho here. Thanks for being with us through all of 2014. May this year usher in new vistas of joy, happiness and fulfilled dreams and expectations for you and yours.


Apologies are in order. No, we did not run off from The Graduate Monologues. What happened is the kind of thing that is wont to happen when you have a doctor and an engineer running a blog. Somehow, we got swamped by work so that we have unfinished business here, and for that, we are sorry.

I’ve been writing, however. In particular, I’ve been writing a series for The Naked Convos, and it has been keeping me very busy. Eight episodes have gone up, and you can view them by clicking on the links below.









I trust you will enjoy the series.

Now, today’s post.

It’s my mum’s birthday today, the one special woman in my life. I have an interesting relationship with my mum: I am her first child, the closest to a daughter she has, and frequently, her 2nd husband. 

I have tried to weave a story about mothers into the Graduate Monologue theme. (As an aside, I find that stories about mothers and motherhood are a recurring theme on this blog. Fascinating.) This story deals with feelings and emotions a lot of people can relate with and recognize, and with an often-overlooked aspect of growing up. 



Your mother cried when her mother died.

You were a curious preteen of 11 or 12, and you could not understand why mummy was crying. Crying was not what adults did. Crying was what the 4-year old in church to get the attention of his parents. Adults did not cry. Even if adults cried, mummy did not cry. Mummy was strength and solidity. You couldn’t understand. Grandma had lived to be 85, and she had lived well. You barely knew her: you could tell she was fond of her first grandchild when you met her the few times you went for holidays, but you didn’t understand old people, and sometimes it was hard to make out the words that came out from between her dentures. You were confused. Mummy hadn’t even grown up with her, and you couldn’t figure out why she was crying over a stranger. But you wrapped your hand around her waist as she stood by the brown gate of your house on her way home for the funeral. Even then, you wanted to comfort her. You did not like how she cried like your neighbour’s baby, and you wanted to follow her on the trip and make her smile. But she had decided that the journey was too far and stressful, and she shook her head and smiled at you through the veil of tears and slowly disentangled your hands from around her waist. She waved at you through the rear windshield of the car as it pulled away, and you stood outside and watched her as the road swallowed her from view.

You are grown now, an adult man with a deep, gravelly voice better suited to breaking up fights and loading Lagos danfos than any choral activity. You have arms that have won more arm-wrestling challenges than lost, and the way the shock absorbers of your car sink when you sit in it not only reminds you that you should start saving money to replace them but proclaim to the world that you are on the wrong side of 80kg. You are increasingly at an age where talk of ‘digging roots’ and ‘settling down’ begin to look less like a faraway dream and more like a looming target. You are acutely aware that your own father got married at 25, and that age is not really an excuse. You have a job and live in another city. By all appearances, you are the typical 20-ish year old developing a career and a life.

You cried the first time you left home. 

It is your dirty secret. Of course you had not planned to. You had noticed your mother making sniffling noises around you as you made your final preparations for the trip, and, like the real G you are, you ignored her. One emotional person was well and truly over and beyond the recommended allowance per family, and two was grounds for exile and loss of citizenship. By the time you stood shivering in front of the house to take a family portrait and hug your mother, she had given up trying to hide it and was doing her best Nkiru Sylvanus impression. You were remarkably clear-eyed as you hugged her and listened to her advice about life, prayer, Jesus and destiny-snatching women, and you are almost relieved to jump into the car taking you to the motor park. It was only when you got into the bus that the gravity of your condition hit home fully. You were heading into a new vista of life in a new city you had never been to, and the one person who always had your back was in a city falling rapidly behind you at about 120km/h. You still didn’t cry, though. Real Gs may worry about the future, but they never flinched from meeting it head-on. The treacherous wuss somewhere in your head looked and you and chuckled before beginning to play the words you had read on Osemhen’s blog over and over like an endless reel. By the time you got back into the bus after calling your mother the first time the bus stopped to allow passengers stretch their legs, the tears had built up behind your eyes, and a few drops had evaded your self-control and found their way out. You faced the window, bowed your head and rehearsed the lies you would tell if anyone asked why you were crying.

“Do not be so busy growing up that you forget your parents are growing old.”

You were excited to leave home. All the years of training, education and discipline you had had were aimed at making you someone who could stand and compete in the world outside your house, and you were proud and felt ready to have an opportunity to chart your own course and build your own future. It felt like the attainment of some lofty goal, like some grand accomplishment. Your parents smiled and congratulated you when the news came, and your friends hugged you and pumped your hands and planned going-away parties and offered up words of advice and told you the best places to live and buy food and register in hospital and take buses and shop in your new city. But no one ever warned you of the pain of loneliness, of the dull throb in your chest as you lay in your room at night. No one told you of homesickness or how difficult it could be to make friends and memories in a new place. No one ever mentioned how the sight of a boy playing in the estate you lived could conjure up memories of your younger brother, or how you longed to have dad wave and gesticulate as he held discussions with you. No one told you how you could feel like a third wheel, and how difficult it could be to have a life after work. You had no clue of how overwhelming the urge to sneak out of a boring meeting and call your mum could be, and so you are entirely unprepared when it washed over you.

You become a regular visitor to the woman in the buka near your office: her nsala and stockfish-loaded bitterleaf soups brought back memories of mummy weaving magic in the kitchen and hot, stuffy nights spent shirtless in front of a fan demolishing basins of eba while mummy clucked at the bottomless pit that was your stomach. You miss home. You miss family. You miss the warmth and comfort of friends. You particularly miss your mother. You need to be an adult. It’s hard.

The first time you go back home, you are struck by how everything seems to be the same and yet seems so different. The gate still squeaks noisily on its hinges and the generator sounds like the hounds of hell baying at you, but there is an intangible, almost imperceptible change in the atmosphere. You almost do not notice it. You sink into the warm cocoon that is your bed, snuggling and swaddling in familiar, well-worn sheets, but even that act feels different. There is a tint of maturity in your worldview and actions now, and you can’t tell if you like it or not. You want to be free, to enjoy home and friends, but you realize that things are not the same. Again, you don’t know if this is good or bad, but you have never been one to let your uncertainties stop you from enjoying your present. You notice other things.

Mother asks you to help her get some groceries, and you jump into the car and drive off. She tries to press some money into your hand and pockets when you return, but you tell her she would have more success bathing a cat. You have not watched your parents sacrifice and toil over you only for you to accept refunds from them. She reaches to hug you, and your heart thuds faster. The woman with her arms around your waist has greying hair rapidly spreading from the middle of her head. Laugh lines and frowns have carved elaborate wrinkles into the skin of her face and they have been cicatrized by Father Time. The woman holding you is not the stately, infinitely strong woman you held at the gate so many years ago. This one is more delicate, more wizened, many times more valuable for being so. You have dared to think your mother will always be there, an immortal wellspring of love and support, and the impudence of those thoughts mocks you now.

You find a short-term goal in a burst of mental illumination. You will make your mother proud of you, make her as comfortable as is within your power.

You don’t look forward to leaving home. This woman needs you now more than ever, but she shoos you off. She reminds you you are a grown man with a job and responsibilities and promises to be there when you return, and your heart sinks. She has never had to say that. You look at her and realize she knows your fears and worries. She has always been psychic, able to read you the way no one else can. She smiles and pushed you into the taxi, pressing parcels of meat and small chops into your hand and pocket like you were a small child. You shake your head feebly and accept them. She is mother, and you don’t know when you will see her again. You might as well take some of her cooking along.

You have barely left the house when the pain of longing and nostalgia washes over you again, but you resist the tears and channel your emotions into poetry, composing and sending a text to the woman who bore you and will kill for you. You can tell she is expecting it; your phone vibrates in response almost immediately. You smile at your phone and lift your heart in prayer to the One who can answer, praying Him journey mercies, protection, grace to help you make mummy proud, and health and strength for her to see it. It is your most heartfelt prayer in months, and when you finish, you sigh and return your focus to the journey ahead of you.

Mummy will be alright. Someone was watching over her.

It has taken you more than a decade, but finally, you understand why mummy cried in front of the gate.