My Warri Chronicles 8. The Library



My favourite place in all of Warri was the local library. It was situated on Swamp road, at one end of the GRA. It was just a short stroll from my school to the library. The day I discovered that little building, my life changed forever!

I was always a bookworm, and though we had quite a rich library at home, it was never enough. I read anything that was written on a piece of paper, even the ones I did not understand.

One day, during the “Long break”, usually about 30-45 minutes, a friend told me the library was just around the corner; and off we went. As I went through those hallowed doors, I thought I had entered Heaven! How could so many books be in the same place, all waiting for me to devour? I wanted to borrow ten books at once, but the librarian, a stern-looking buxom lady, would have none of it. She said I could borrow one book and read for a week, and if I finished it then she would allow me to borrow two books per week from the children’s section.

Me? One book per week? Okay na.

I filled the form/card and was issued a temporary library card. And I went home with one book. The following day at break time I was back in the library with the book in hand. And the librarian was mad! She said she knew we were not serious! I had returned the book without even attempting to read it, bla bla bla infinitum!

I was a very quiet girl, so I politely waited for her to finish pouring the verbal venom on me. When she finally ran out of steam, I told her I had read the book and could tell her the entire story if she wanted. Of course, she did not believe me. So I told her the story, almost word for word. She went quiet, and looked at me ‘one kind.’ Then she let me borrow another book, slightly bigger. And I returned it the next day.

After that, the library became my personal space during the break, and that lady became one of my favourite human beings. Soon she was letting me go home with five books at weekends. And on Mondays, I would return them and we would discuss books like two equals.

It was in that space, I discovered Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, and so many wonderful writers that helped to shape my brain and probably, that was when the secret desire to be a writer began. I’m not too sure, but it did contribute a lot to my all-time love for books and libraries.


Yes, my Warri was not all rough edges; we had the panache that exists only in bookish towns.

That was my Warri. And we will bring it all back again. Soon.

#MyWarriChronicles #Warri #HomeTowns #WarriNoDeyCarryLast #BornTWriteWell #ElsieWrite


My Warri Chronicles 7. Trekking


Trekking in Warri was not necessarily an indication of poverty or non-ownership of a family car. At, least, not where I lived. It may seem strange to some people in this era but in the time in which I grew up, your family could own several cars, but you would walk to school, or the neighborhood shops and markets. And very often you would walk to church or fellowship too.

Case in point: I had a schoolmate in primary 5, who was from a wealthy home. They lived somewhere on/around Idama street, close to the Rerri family, I believe. I do not have their permission to write about them so I will not mention their name but they were quite well-to-do back then. But we all trekked home from school every day.

We would trek from our school, close to the Warri library, through Ginuwa road, turn into Father Healy street, pass through Nelson William street and then go down Ogboru road till we got to Idama. From there, people began to turn into their various homes.

Trekking for us was neither poverty nor punishment; it was fun, and it was an accepted mode of transportation. We would tell stories, jokes, and riddles. And we would laugh with glee. Sometimes, there would be a quarrel and two people would break into a fight. And that was another form of entertainment. But we played much more than we fought. And of course, the language of communication was pidgin, the Warri pidgin.

In those days there was no DSTV, or any form of cable Television for that matter. And we did not have the freedom of going out whenever we wanted, so the time spent walking home from school was our time of bonding and deep friendships.

In my Warri, we had no issues of kidnapping, child rape and some of the evils that make neighborhoods so dangerous today. We were kids and we had the freedom to be young and carefree. And we trekked. No shame, no pain.

Of course, there were kids who didn’t trek. I doubt if the Mabiakus, Rewanes, Edodos and such other Warri “Bill Gates” did any trekking, but no matter; some of us did, and we thought nothing of it.

It was our Warri, our way of life. And it was good.

#WarriChronicles #MyWarri #HomeTowns #IAmAWriterByChoice#BornToWriteWell #ElsieWrite









My Warri Chronicles 2.

The economy of Warri back then rested squarely on the oil exploration companies, and on the companies that served/ serviced them. Shell was the de facto government in Warri. NNPC followed a close second. They owned beautiful housing estates that had swimming pools, well-manicured lawns, clubhouses and an otherworldly ambiance. If you had friends and family living in “Shell Estate” then you were a big man for sure.

You never went quietly to visit your relatives in those places. If you were a shy and quiet kid like me, you would whisper it in a few choice ears that you would not be around after church on Sunday because the family will be visiting that your uncle that resides in NNPC quarters. That was all. Your status went up several notches. And you were hated the more.

And then more kids would want to befriend you so they can come over to watch TV. And so on and so forth.

But there were other companies that gave you status, set you apart somewhat. I already mentioned the oil- servicing companies; they paid well and had “class.” I remember McDermott, although, for many years, I could not accept the idea of McDermott as a company; I think the street on which the company was situated was named after it, and McDermott road became more popular than McDermott company. But they were an okay company to work for.

There was NPA- Nigerian Ports Authority- they were high up there with the oil coys. My best friend, Toma, was an NPA kid so I could flex some on her account.

Lower down the ladder were companies like Kingsway stores (Kingsway Rendezvous was the first fast food company of its kind in Warri, I believe it gave birth to present day Mr. Biggs. They had the best meat pie in the entire universe!)

And then there was AG Leventis, which was where we belonged. And we were alright too, in our own way. There were many other companies that made Warri the vibrant city it was back then; long before the militancy and the nyamanyama that followed.

Soon we shall make Warri great again. Who will blow the TRUMPet?

image courtesy:

Warri rig

#warrichronicles #mywarri #Elsiewrite #IAmAWriterByChoice

My Warri Chronicles 1.


I grew up in Warri-Okumagba layout. It was neither a slum, nor a GRA. Everyone had their level, and respected it.

But there were interactions and jealousies across the divide.

Let me explain.

If you were living in a flat or bungalow that had its own toilets, kitchen etc, you were an object of envy from the neighbourhood kids.

To avoid being ‘waylayed’ and beaten up, you had to allow the neighbours watch TV in your living room. Your close friends would come in and sit on the carpet or on the arms of the chairs, (the chair itself was off limits), and the others who were neither friends nor foes would watch from the window.

Sometimes you had upwards of twenty kids between the living room floor and the window side.

And when they got very noisy you just had to say, ‘shhh!’ The message was well received.

You were hated/envied for speaking ‘simple and correct English.’ In Warri, pidgin is king. If you didn’t speak it you were suspect. Speaking your language was an offence though, pidgin was the thing. That was Okumagba layout.

That was my ‘hood for a time. Soon, I shall make a literary journey back there, but not yet.

Some holidays, we travelled to Trofani (Rivers state then, Bayelsa now). I hear there’s a bridge that links somewhere to Trofani now. Back then, we made the trip by boat. It was terrifying, and fun too.

This time I returned to Trofani. Without going there.

That’s the beauty of the written word. You can go anywhere you like and be anyone you want.

#NewBook #Elsiewrite #BornToWriteWell #IamWriting #IAmAWriterByChoicemap of Warri

Between the kitchen and the other room

Last week we celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child with a lot of noise. Michelle Obama celebrated by drawing a lot of media attention to her quest to educate girls around the world. Groups around the world did various things to show where and how they were standing with the girls. Our own First Lady, though not in direct celebration, displayed unusual spunk when she spoke up against her husband’s administration on international radio. No matter how you look at it, that has never been done before; that a First Lady would say something uncomplimentary about her husband’s administration. What we have had in the past are First Ladies who were ready to defend everything their husbands did, especially in the public. What they thought or did in private was nobody’s business. So when Aisha said what she said, the feminists applauded, believing that of a truth, the day of the girl child had come in Nigeria.

But alas! Oga President Buhari poured the proverbial and sand-sand in our garri with his response to the issues raised by his wife. The President, sitting next to a highly successful and achieving female leader of Germany, said that Aisha belongs to his living room, his kitchen and his ‘other room.’

What! He says stuff like that in the 21st century? President Buhari made nonsense of the gains of the week with his few careless remarks. And therein lies the problem of our society for me. Buhari by that statement shows that he is one who believes the education of women is a waste. Why do I say that? You do not need any fancy education to belong in three rooms. All you need is a front and a back. A Harvard degree is of little use in the living room where you sit and watch Zeeworld or in the kitchen where you stirring ‘tuwo’ and okro soup. Indeed you do not even need Primary school certificate to ‘remove cloth’ in the unnamed ‘other room.’ So if the President is saying all of that it shows where he stands. It is inexcusable though he was talking about his own wife. By virtue of her position, she represents every woman in our society, just as he represents every man in our society. That is the burden of leadership; his own opinion matters on every issue.

I do not consider myself a feminist but please allow me to ‘vex’ very well for the man and to attempt to put him and all men who think like that where they belong.  When a man says that his wife belongs in his kitchen and two other rooms in his house it says to me that he is living in delusion. Such men belong in the cave, hunting wild animals and berries for food. Women passed the kitchen stage a long time ago and no man should attempt to take us back there, not even as a joke. The fact that it was the president who aid it makes me want to weep for the Nigerian girl child. Between the three rooms in the President’s imagination are Doctors, Lawyer, Astronauts, Bankers, Engineers, Professors, Ministers and Governors. And let us not forget that, he was being hosted by someone who had escaped the kitchen and the other room. A woman who is shaping policy on an international level. Buhari should not forget that his minister of Finance is an escapee from his 3-room world, telling him how to run his economy.

I know someone will say he has the right to run his family the way he likes. I beg to disagree. He is the President of the country and people look up to him for direction. He spoke his mind and his beliefs. And that tells me that if he had his way that would be the fate of women everywhere. And even he meant it for only his wife it is still inexcusable. His wife is the First Lady and by that position she represents every Nigerian woman. When a woman at that level is relegated to the kitchen, it says a lot to the woman or man on the street.

Somebody should please help us tell Buhari that we are no longer in the kitchen and the other room. We left there long ago. We are now standing in every room in between.

Lagos Island


“ago! “ago” or something like that. The shout rent the air as people scampered out of the way for safety. It was the shout of one of the many “burden-bearers” pushing a cart that was filled to overflowing with goods and wares from only-he-knows-where. He pushed past with his burden and the sea of humanity closed again.

People, people and more people. Coming and going in every direction; shouting, whispering, cackling and quarrelling until the only discernible sound was the constant hum of homo-sapiens. That indistinguishable cacophony that typifies the African marketplace.

This is the heart of the Lagos Island; centre of commerce, where millions, possibly billions of naira is exchanged every day in goods and services.

The Igbo man pulls you aside and tries to convince you to get into his shop;

“Aunty come and see, I have original jeans from Hong Kong. Come inside I have your size! Or is it T-shirt you want? I have it”

You shrug him off and try to be good-natured as another grabs you with assurances that he has your size in “quality shoes from Italy!”

It never stops. You escape the clutches of one and another is right there in front of you; grabbing, pushing, shoving, scheming for a piece of you, and of whatever money you brought to the market.

“Mummy come here, I will give you good price!”

Finally you walk into one of the hundreds of little shops, shops so small two people form a crowd in its dark interiors. Immediately he thrusts a stool at you and orders you to sit down. If you are smart-like me- you will continue standing, otherwise you could be in the tiny shop for ages haggling over the price of an item! Then you settle on a fair price but then you realize you do not have enough cash and you need to use the ATM to get some cash. Then he says,

“Madam, I will follow you to the ATM.”

Smart man.

He knows you may decide to buy from someone else closer to the bank and not bother to come to his shop. You set out with the trader one step behind dodging and weaving through the endless sea of humanity. You narrowly miss being pushed into the fire. Yes, the fire by the roadside where two young men are frying bean cakes, locally known as ‘akara’ and sweet potato strips. You try not to get distracted by the tantalizing aroma of yams frying and succulent turkey pieces that seem to call out your name. You look around very quickly but no one seems to be looking; no one cares really; this is Lagos Island and everyone is in a rush to get to somewhere important. You stop by the roadside snack stand and buy yourself a hot meal wrapped in newspaper and can hardly wait to dig into the hot deliciousness. A nagging thought at the back of your mind reminds you about the possible dangers of eating fried food cooked by a busy roadside, but of course you don’t listen! On the Island anything goes and if the only danger is the possibility of a little stomach upset then so be it!

This is Lagos Island.

Eko oni’baje!




“So what do we do?’ you ask. I am tempted to say like the Nigerian singer, Omawunmi, “If you ask me, na who I go ask?” but I will not say that because I know there is a solution.

  Let us all agree that there is a problem

  Let us also agree that every problem has a solution

  Let us decide that we have the power to do something about it

  Let us identify what the possible solutions are

  Let us put our hands on the plow

Let us start with the issue of Islamization: what really is our fear of Islamization? If we identify our fear and its root cause it is easier to address the issue and apply the proper solution. Islam will not allow you to practice  your beliefs in the way you want to, and when I say ‘beliefs’ please read ‘lifestyle.’ So what to do? Let me first address my primary constituency, the Christians. The first thing we must do is study the Bible. The book of Joshua, chapter 1 verse 8 says, ‘This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night; that you may observe to DO according to ALL that is written it; then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.” (emphasis mine)

There is a way out of the quagmire and it is found in the Bible. Buhari is not a Christian and you should not expect him to be the one to meditate and observe to do. That is your duty as a Christian. Meditate on ‘this book of the law’ and ‘observe’ then ‘do ALL!’ Proverbs 21: 1 says, “The heart of the King is in the hands of the LORD, and like rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wills.” Selah!

You are a Christian and you do not want Nigeria to become an Islamic country , no problem, the solution lies in your hands~it is right there in the book you have been asked to meditate on.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 lays it out: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

Let us break that down: to be continued..