It is midnight in London and I am ecstatic. Earlier, I was stretching my hands, tapping my feet and singing aloud to Fireboy’s Glory. Damn it, I have won 2022. I never lose, glory to God.
I told you that Midnight in Lagos was the final post in the midnight series. I explained my reasons and meant everything I said. I suggested, blindly, that I would only return for a Midnight in London. I assure you that at the time, this was only a wish; I did not know how I would make it here, I did not possess a valid international passport. Now, say after me, miracle no dey tire Jesus.
Beyond my location however, I am writing because once again, I genuinely feel the overwhelming urge to share with you; I feel convinced that it is the right thing to do, for reasons that will become apparent as you proceed. Oh well, welcome. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Midnight in London!
The Good Life.
It is winter in London and I am not the most prepared. On some days, my face whitens, the blood in my palms freezes, and my lips turn to crust. I am pleased, however, to finally put my coats to proper use. Yes, years ago, I would curiously wear trench coats in 40 degrees Ile-Ife weather. I consider it providence; my chi always knew that I was meant for cooler climes.
It is all new to me so I pay attention. All the time, my head is full of observations. Beyond the chilly weather and the darkness arriving by 4:30PM, here is my most important observation—London is strikingly (or maybe just relatively) efficient. While London and Lagos are both expensive cities, the clear difference is that London works. Everything works here—everything in my apartment, commute, sanitation, payment systems. There is an assuring certainty to everything. Whenever I leave the house, I know exactly how long my trip will take. When I go the store, I know exactly how much every item costs, I know the exact ingredients of every consumable. I get what I pay for — no opaqueness, surprises or fraud. Contrarily, nothing works in Lagos. I wouldn’t know where to begin with that end of the comparison.
London is a city for the people, as many and as diverse as they are. A lot is well thought out— from rights and housing for everyone to access for the disabled, communication for the illiterate, clothing and transportation for the less-privileged. It is as if the government cares about its people — very unusual stuff. Ikoyi works for Tinubu and his friends. In a country that is the poverty capital of the world, in a city where all transport systems are failing, you cannot access an entire town (Ikoyi) through public transport.
Beyond London, I am pleased that my year has taken an assuring, stable turn. It has been a year of many transitions. In the first quarter, I was desperate for emotional stability; in the second, financial stability. At work, I was moving from one business unit to another. In July, I was concluding a tedious, overdue NYSC year. In August, I suddenly decided to leave my place for another. In between, I was homeless for 20 days. In October, I was preparing for this trip. And this past month, I have had to learn fast, acclimatize. I return to Nigeria tomorrow but I see clearly now. I see how the next year will pan out; I will be present, stable, calculated. I see how I can return to my pre-pandemic goals. I am pleased.
But as always, I feel an array of emotions, my happiness is not alone. I must have told you about my nostalgia problem — one that leaves me reaching, crippled. I try, more often than I should, to return to moments in my past, to relive the simplicity, naivety; to deludedly romanticize them; or to simply salute myself for trying. Oh God, I have tried.
I have always tried, you see—when I had to attend lessons and rewrite UTME; when I had to work, walk long distances and starve so I could save for that Nokia, then that Tecno, then that Blackberry. I tried in uni; I would study for 14 hours non-stop, on that table, opposite that wall, beside a failing lamp. I was trying when I carried over Political Science to LLB3. I was trying when in 2015, I would write two articles a week for N1,000. I was trying when I learnt to compere events so I could buy things for myself. Damn, I used to be dead broke. It is interesting that even though I share a lot here, the real story of my life is largely untold because there are parts of it that I am still too embarrassed to disclose.
I was trying when I would fetch water, wash cars and iron clothes at this uncle’s or that aunt's, just so I could live with them, just so I could intern at some firm in Lagos. I was trying when I would stay up to prepare for this debate and that moot; I was trying when South Africa denied me visas, twice. I was trying when I made those many applications to this firm, that bank, that institute, only to read “unfortunately…”. I was trying when I fought to have The Tax Club established in 2016 and stuck with it until I graduated. I was trying when I would pack my bags at a moment’s notice and leave for Lagos, because the opportunities were there.
I was trying when I made Law School notes throughout the pandemic. And when my physical and mental health went to shit, I held on to jobs in content creation. I am trying when I live below my means, so I can save and invest, only to lose it all to Meffy. I was trying when I enthused in the interview for my current job, I was fighting for my life. And since I resumed the role, I have never reached peak performance because I am tired. Since I left university, I have never had a break—it has been either school or work, non-stop.
I sometimes wonder if I had to try that hard. Was it all worth it? Would I have gotten here if I did less? I will never know; but all the time, it does seem as if everyone around me did not try as hard. I look through my archives and tears fill my eyes. My entire adult life, I have never gone on autocruise, or had my parents intervene, or given the wheel to Jesus, I have always tried. I am tired.
I am also emotional about losing people. As I approach the end of the year, I realize that it was a controversial one. Many of my relationships worsened, ended. You could tell that the main theme in Midnight in Lagos was my hurt. I hit reset after that point, I returned to indifference. It would thereafter become apparent to me that I was the main driver of many relationships. If I was not going to try, that conversation, hangout, resolution, was not going to happen. I also returned to protecting my peace, aggressively. Maybe I tried too hard.
Sadly, I am coming to terms with temporary people and fleeting experiences. You meet people, you share information, interests, and jokes. Then you fall out and return to strangers. I keep meeting new, amazing people. In spite of the tired suspicion and pretension, I am trying to make new friends. But I am also guarded now, too aware of impermanence. I leave the door open for everyone now; leave as you please. I am more intolerant now, let us all be grown ups.
What a melodramatic year. I remember waking one morning and realizing, “I don’t have to argue with this woman ever again!”. So I didn’t. I remember the one who told me she had received spiritual word to avoid me. I think about the one who used to tell me she loved me, only to turn around and love my closest friend. I remember the one who failed to send me birthday wishes, in a manner so glaring, I saluted the effort. I remember the same old dishonesty, pretension, narcissism. I remember my many flings. I remember being amused. Now, I am thinking about the people who said, “oh, when you come to the UK!” but have been quiet since I arrived. It is an effective way to hurt me — not showing up. So if you did this deliberately, well done. It got to me, this once.
I am thankful for closure however; for the few explanations I gave and received; for self-awareness and apologies. I am immensely grateful for open, honest, patient conversations. I had one of those days ago with an ex and it became a highlight. She unearthed a memory I had buried many years ago. She explained how I had hurt her, how it influenced her decisions, what she thinks of me. I listened and apologized at every turn. I believe we are friends now, thankfully. But while she went on that evening, an important realization returned to me—people give me too much responsibility, I am far more oblivious than they think.
On Being Oblivious.
It is a problem — people consider me more intentional than I actually am. Indeed, I can be quite meticulous, calculated. I write everything down and I do not like to take chances. Even my social media is a big puzzle, a fastidious game of clue I play with myself. If you look closely, you might see that there is a pattern to everything I do. It does not help that I write these things which make me appear aware, thoughtful, profound. I assure you, my life’s experiences are not more complex than yours, I am not that clever, I am only articulate — skilled at presenting the little I know/think.
Part of my life’s complication, one of its banes, is how I embody opposite characteristics at the same time. I could be both the most practical and the most emotional man in the room, the most humble and the most conceited, the most organized and the most disorganized. It can be distressing, suspicious. So in spite of my many calculations, I can be quite oblivious. I am often distracted and forgetful. This is why I love open people who give me the benefit of the doubt. You have to give me the benefit, a chance to explain myself, or I will easily become a villain in your eyes.
Intelligence threatens. When we convince ourselves that other people are smarter, we may become guarded around them. We give them more credit, responsibility. When things turn out well for them and well, not as well for us, it is easy to assume that these things were a result of their complex masterplan. I suffer because people erroneously believe that I am some manipulative mastermind; they assume that everything I do is premeditated. It is not. You must believe that I do not have anything figured out; I am learning in real time, just like you. Some of the time, I am genuinely clueless. I am neither the protagonist nor the scriptwriter, you are not the victim.
Pain and Victimhood.
In Midnight in Ebonyi, I wrote about being privileged; I admitted that for most of my life, I have been male, intelligent, good-looking, middle class, able-bodied and talented. The problems I complain about do not affect me the most. All the time, I could care less. I am not always offended or enraged but I will fight for the right of others to be offended and enraged. I do not fully understand many conversations but I think that they should exist, for the benefit of those genuinely affected. But it does now seem as if a few people enjoy victimhood a little too much. It does seem that now and then, a new group vie for the status of least privileged. It does seem as if the minority status gives people license to be mean and categorical, to avoid accountability and worse, to oppress an even smaller minority.
We love being victims. We love to go on about how we were doubted, wronged, abandoned. It attracts sympathy, it absolves us of responsibility and it makes our grass to grace story even better. How often have you heard a person go on about how all their many exes were bad people and how all their relationships failed because of others? More often than not eh? You are not accustomed to hearing “that was my fault, I fucked that up!”
Importantly, convincing ourselves that we are victims can be productive. We can channel negative motivations and emotions for positive outcomes. We can commit to our goals, just so that we feel vindicated in the end, just so that we prove a point to that person who doubted or exploited us. To motivate ourselves, we create imaginary enemies. In Midnight in Lagos, I wrote that while I preferred to believe that things happened to me because I let them, I had since learnt that others are worthy antagonists in my life. While I acknowledge the correctness of this statement, there is sometimes a thin line between acknowledging the role others play and blaming them entirely for our life’s complex outcomes. An important difference between my 2021 and 2022 was that I became less of the victim. I chose to recount events differently. Instead of making others into actors, I acknowledge that I was complicit, clueless. Instead of pitying myself, I laugh and say, “I will never do that/let that happen again”.
In September and October, I would complain to my friends about feeling bored and unmotivated; and after thoroughly interrogating the cause for weeks, my finding surprised me. I was unmotivated because my life’s challenges were fewer, my pain was less. I had emptied emotional baggage, no one was undermining me, the streets were not showing me shege. Nothing was going wrong; my family was fine, I was hopeful, earning more, acquiring stuff; I was not around people who made me feel inadequate. I was used to lying on my bed, alone, for hours, staring at the ceiling, seething, trying to find sleep. Instead, I was eating a shawarma and drinking juice, seeing something, fucking, cuddling. I was used to sweating in traffic, for hours, with seven others; now I was nodding at the back of an air conditioned cab, arriving at the office in 20 minutes. Life had become routine, easy. There was less to overcome. What would I do with myself? I missed it—my pain.
You will observe that on a grander scale, victimhood and pain are essential to the male experience. Our generation is conflicted, because there is no great challenge or adventure—no wars, disasters or inventions. We do not know how to be men without these things; we can not be protectors, martyrs. So we are desperate and bored. We need a tragedy to awaken the superhero in us. Spider-Man must lose his uncle, Ironman and Batman must lose their parents, Captain America must be thrown into the Second World War. Yet, here we are, privileged, idle, with no origin story, no great stakes ahead of us. So we are forging things.
We are holding on to exaggerated mishaps from our childhood, using to it justify the cold, insensitive man-child we have deliberately become. We want to remember that girl that broke our hearts, so we can decide that it is a cold world, women should not be taken seriously and we only have ourselves to trust. Really, dude? Because of Amy from JSS1? We want to create enemies, buy guns, join gangs, forge territory, end lives. We want to look forward to a warped, dark conception of parenting; it is our role as fathers to thoughtlessly provide for our children and protect our families. From what though? Menace on TikTok? Not the same as a civil war, is it?
We want to be like the men of old but we do not have the same experiences. We go on podcasts to romanticize them but we are not the primal, dangerous men of old, we are lost, lousy gym bros.
Much Ado About Masculinity.
From my perspective, we have a masculinity crisis, not because men are less masculine or because women are less attracted to masculinity, but because there is too much polarizing talk about masculinity. Have men become less masculine? Who knows? What does masculinity mean? What makes a man masculine? Is it the features he is born with or those he learns? Is it his natural appearance— his height, muscles, beard or voice? Is it his behaviour? Is it his forceful heterosexuality? Is Andrew Tate the specimen? When you pay attention to the people who peddle these masculinity arguments, you will painfully observe that even though they are the most likely to mention “logic” and “objectivity”, they never really question their conclusions. Beyond reference to some book or podcast, they simply do not know what they’re talking about.
Are women less attracted to masculine men? Or are they unattracted to you, particularly? Again, who are the masculine men? Here, here is the real crisis, the painful truth that our gender must confront: with increasing opportunities and rights, women are less reliant on men. A lot of men, who were raised to hinge their entire self-esteem on their value to women, are desperate. The equality of men and women is not only increasingly advocated, but increasingly apparent. In response, there are silly, repetitive attempts by insecure men to elevate “masculinity”, since it is apparently a thing women could never have.
We say to women—you have come this far, but you will never reach these heights because you simply have no balls and these completely natural attributes. This way, we convince ourselves that we will always be superior and they will always need us. When you do not know how to be a person, when your self-esteem is a stack of cards, you will find this masculinity talk very useful. It excuses your inadequacies, tells you that even though you might be a bumbling, insufferable idiot, as long as you comply with a subjective, narrow definition of masculinity, you will always be a worthy man, permanently superior to women and children. Meanwhile, we must first be people with interests and values. People are kind, patient, authentic, self-aware, resilient, humble, attentive, fashionable. There is not a certain degree of these values we must possess because we happen to be male or female. To be desirable, being a man is not enough, we must be qualitative people. We cannot force desire, especially now that an increasing number of women are empowered enough to be alone.
We are desperate to reinforce the significance of traditional marriages; we hate women who trivialize the institution, we claim that they “mislead” other women. We desperately suggest to women that irrespective of their many achievements, we must find them worthy of matrimonial coronation. Insecure, low-quality men need leverage. Meanwhile, it is men who need marriage; because many of us lack culinary and self-care skills, because it is incredibly convenient to “provide” and outsource everything else in a home. When we remove the desire to procreate and societal pressure to marry, we may confront the frightening possibility that women do not need us as much as we think.
I must ask, however, why this desirability debate exists. Why is the non-desirability of certain men considered a global crisis? Are women expected to find men attractive, are men entitled to it? The recurrent narrative in media suggests to me that there is a massive incel culture, bigger than we would like to admit. Your journey with the culture often begins from a moment in your childhood—the moment you are led to believe that women cannot reject you for no good reason, or that those who reject you must be punished somehow. It is the beginning of a pathetic, entitled, defeatist journey. It is why you will wish unspeakable evil on women (who look like the women) who reject you. It is why you will argue, incredulously, that the women who rejected you years ago are now past their “prime”, that you are somehow better of.
It is why you will shame women for wanting more for themselves. Women must be content with you. You, on the other hand, can pursue the women you really want, once your life improves. It is why you will hate yourself when you are broke; why you convince yourself that amidst the many flaws you have, the only reason why you are undesired is because you are broke. It is an easy fix after all — all women want is money, they are simple commodities.
Incel culture is why you will stand with problematic men, not because of the merit or value of anything they say, but because they make certain women angry—those very women you secretly want, but can neither attract nor subdue. This is why you will accuse successful women of sleeping their way to the top. It is not because you happen to be moral, but because you are not at the top, the supposed sleeping is not happening with you.
Gender, Identity and Phobia.
I never weigh in on the gender conversation because I do not know much. I once argued that trans women are not women, they are trans women. If you were not born female, it is difficult to compare yourself with those who did not have a choice, or to compare your limited experiences with theirs. I know that I find the existence of a trans woman suspicious, and I readily oppose it when it denies women of rights and privileges. I think that if it must, sports should have a trans category. If in a certain competitive sport, athletic ability is influenced by sex, then people who were once men, should not be allowed to compete with women. I think that is fair. I know that when someone says they are not “just a woman” because they identify as non-binary, it is startling because what about being a woman is “just”? The female experience is full, sufficient, broader than the male experience. Even biologically, women are capable of more. I will never ovulate, birth, or breastfeed. Women will never produce sperm?
I fear that this is the limit of my understanding however, all I have left are questions. While I agree that sexuality is fluid, I do not know if sex/gender is. What is gender anyway? Is that a question for debate? Is the distinction between male and female unclear? Is it not a binary world as a matter of irrefutable evidence? When genders are changed, is there a threshold that objectively confirms the transition? Is there a certain body part or hormone one must remove/modify/install? If gender is a social construct, isn’t it contradictory to make changes to my body, as if to make my gender more believable? Is gender a matter of self-identification? If we say gender is a social construct, that a person is a man because they identify as one, wouldn’t that be begging an urgent question? What then is a man? What is this thing you now seek to identify as?
Are we obliged to believe people who self-identify where there can be important consequences? What should happen in prisons? What happens to affirmative action? Should opportunities reserved for women be handed to trans women? How much more can people identify as before it becomes a serious legal problem? How many more categories can we create? Are blanket categories offensive? Is it okay if people identify as inanimate objects? Does it affect their human rights and privileges?
What is phobia? If I say I have a phobia for heights, it means I am afraid of it. If I say I am claustrophobic, it means I am afraid of confined spaces. What does homophobic mean? The dictionary says homophobic means “having or showing a dislike or prejudice against gay people”. So why then is homophobic used to refer to rejecting affection or advances from men? Is a man homophobic because he rejects a kiss from a strange man? Or is he just being a normal person with boundaries? Would it make a difference if in the same circumstances, he accepted a kiss from a strange woman? Should he be considered homophobic or is he demonstrating heterosexual tendencies?
How does one become transphobic? By restating the biological fact that there are two sexes? Is this inconsistent with a person’s desire to change from one to another? Isn’t there a difference between scientific truths and social preferences? Is the rest of the world obliged to abandon fundamental biology as we know it? Is the binary nature of sex a biological truth? Were we lied to? What is the truth? I do not know so I do not speak authoritatively. Some people do.
Everybody Caps, Everybody Stans.
Everybody caps. Everyone, whether you hold them in high esteem or not, often, or will one day, be incorrect. Everyone. And people are more likely to cap if they speak frequently, on a range of topics. Most people have specialty; no one should (pretend to informedly) comment on every subject, no one is always right. Remember this and reserve your respect for those who admit their mistakes. In Midnight in Lagos, I mentioned that the ability to withdraw, reevaluate a situation and take a right turn with ease and openness is singularly the most admirable thing.
Everybody caps. This is why self-awareness and honesty are important. Now and then, we must reflect on the opinions we hold dear, we must expose them to challenge. We must also keep friends who are unafraid of offering their measured, dissenting opinions. We all need friends who privately say, “err, McCoy?” because McCoy, now and then, caps.
However, I have observed that contrarily, some people respect those who double down on the nonsense they say. You could say the worst thing in the world and garner even more support when, having had time to reflect on your indiscretions, you simply refuse to apologise. I know that a few men will hail you for being “real”.
There seems to be a formula for vindicating today’s male villain. Whenever you say or do the most objectionable thing, double down, never apologize. Reference a conspiracy theory, say that you are thinking outside of the box, or the matrix—everyone else is asleep, you know some precious, hidden truth. Then, suggest that you are a victim, say that you are being persecuted by a large mass of people or some unknown super power. Then, make sudden references to religion—talk about God’s protection against these super powers. Yes, now stir nicely. Some buffoons on the internet will immediately and ceaselessly come to your rescue.
Apology is interesting to watch — how our brains manufacture excuses to erase or downplay the bad behaviour of others. As I said in Midnight in Lagos, most people do not care about right or wrong, they do not hold on to indiscriminate values, their assessment of a situation mostly depends on how they feel about the actors. We have darlings we worship, protect. When we stan, we lose the important and moral freedom to criticise. I try, to stan no one, to criticize everyone. I reject environments where people cannot be criticized. I hate that certain people are considered infallible, unquestionable. Look at religious leaders and how pathetic followers fight to protect their authority, threatening judgment for non-followers and isolation for dissenting followers. Apparently, we disagree with your pastor, not because there is the remotest possibility that he is wrong, but because we are possessed by the devil. Are you sure that is what God wants? Is it not giving cult?
These days, there is this recurrent, interesting pushback on the criticism of Nigerian TV and cinema. I oppose it. All art forms are criticized everywhere in the world. No, it is not inherently malicious or sanctimonious to criticize art. On the contrary, it is important to keep commentary alive—it is exactly how Nollywood, particularly, will improve. Nollywood must step up, we must tell plausible stories, we have an ingenuity crisis.
The Nigerian audience seems to believe however, that criticism is always personal, malicious, diabolical even. Does the public owe a creator gratitude, loyalty? Is it some form of patriotism to praise art I genuinely consider subpar just because it is indigenous? If we cannot criticize, how then would we distinguish good from bad, valuable from basic (and the many shades in between)? How would we see any real improvement, if we never admit that there is room for more?
Religion, Value Systems, and the Dignity of Labour.
Speaking of judgment, I was once asked how irreligious people tell right from wrong. It was a confounding question. I have always considered it a great flaw in one’s personality, if they need belief in a supreme being, or the fear of eternal damnation, to be decent to others. Is religion truly the origin of morality? I honestly wonder. If there was no belief in God, would we eat each other? Do we need divine compulsion? Are irreligious people bad people or are they just irreligious? Is the existence of the morally upright atheist a contradiction, or is it a truism that disproves an incredibly faulty belief?
My morality is defined by a simple question— does it harm? What I consider right or wrong is a matter of how an act affects others. I think lying is bad because it misinforms, I think selfishness is bad because it often deprives, I think violence is bad because it literally hurts. I hold political and religious leaders to high standards because of their influence on the behaviour of others. On the contrary, I do not frown at drinking (where there are no ripple effects), masturbation or prostitution, for instance. Why should I condemn prostitutes? They provide a service that is in high demand. Why should I condemn homosexuality as long as it involves two consenting adults? Why would I even start a conversation about indecent dressing? Why do we let men say plenty about the dressing of women? Isn’t it weird, creepy, some kind of self-own? Oga, don’t you have business to attend to, instead of ogling women to assess the lengths of their skirts?
We are a conflicted, hypocritical people. Our idea of morality is absurd. When a Nigerian says “immorality”, he never means the evils that do the greatest harm, such as murder or embezzlement of public funds, he usually, hypocritically means curious things like “indecent dressing” or fornication. The latter stir up more conversation than the former. Somehow, we are more appalled by a harmless homosexual than a politician who misappropriates funds meant for a public hospital. The Nigerian scale for good and evil is confounding, we are curiously keen on things that harm the fewest people.
Moreso, as authoritative and judgmental as it often is, there are too many lacunae in our morality for it to be taken seriously. Our morality is devoid of important, nation-building values like honesty, delayed gratification and dignity of labour. We discourage the long, honorable route. We praise the “sharp guy” (a dubious person who probably gets along by exploiting others) as long as he is generous. Like Chief Chimamanda Adichie wrote in Americanah, we are a confident people but we are so obsequious. It is not difficult for us to be insincere. We have confidence but no dignity.
Therefore, a vendor may hide the price of a basic item so he can grossly exploit uninformed buyers. A person employed to clean can steal eggs as far as they are poor and “ogini, how much is egg?”. A bank cashier can price clothes while customers queue for service, because “what if it was your mother?”. A politician can steal as long as he caters to his kinsmen and constituency. A person may commit advance fee fraud as long as they are poor and subject to a corrupt government. We are full of excuses, qualifications, apology. We speak about theft, fraud with some kind of relish, we place all the responsibility on victims to be careful, alert, “sharp”.
Make no mistake, Nigeria is a very perverse place. This is why we must tell good stories.
Why we must tell stories.
Last week, I took the train to Soho Square, to see a new friend. We had a rich conversation, many lessons were learned.
One of the many things I discussed with her, which I must now share with you, is something I now refer to as the morality in sharing. Simply, I believe that if you are a young, successful Nigerian who lives an honourable life, you have a duty to share your process and results. Why? Because dishonorable Nigerians are working overtime. Yet, good must win. I explained that my many posts on Instagram and Medium, although admittedly vain, are not entirely about self-gratification, I also see them as service to others.
I accept that I am an influencer of some sorts, people look up to me.
Years ago, I decided that it was my duty to show other young people, that school was not a scam —academic success is still the most reliable means to self-sustainability. I decided that my stories must be told, my pictures must be taken, and they must clearly support the motion; that if we seek clarity and discipline, we can achieve our goals; that in this opaque society, everything good can still come legitimately; that although we are held back by existential crises, we can be many great things at once.
Although I never admit it, I hope that people learn what is possible by simply watching me. I do not have to give them daily advice, I only have to go on, living as honestly as I can, sharing my beliefs, experiences, processes, failures and successes. I decided that everything I share must reflect the immutable principles of beauty, love and justice. Does it reflect passion? Is it beautiful? Does it seek to correct an ill or advocate for justice? These are the things that matter.
My words and visuals must also resonate my defining belief in will, options and words — that we can become whatever we set our minds to if we are relentless; that through good planning, we can be many things at once and; that words, when used properly, are humanity’s greatest invention.
Besides the foregoing however, it is granted that we must also share for self-gratification. At this event I hosted in 2019, the backdrop read “celebrate success, glorify the process” and I never forgot those words. Often, we are too fixed on our destination, we ignore the journey. There will always be a next thing, it is important that we celebrate today.
I am thankful for the many pictures I take because record-keeping is important to me; I like to remember what I wore on that day, what I had done, who I was with, where I was and how I felt. I like to connect past and present events, to appreciate my journey. I share things so I have them in my archives; so that they tell a linear, climatic story to my audience of one. My social media is a record of the most defining moments in my adult life. I am not committed to mystery, minimalism. My IG highlights and LinkedIn profile are categorized and comprehensive so you can see everything I am proud of.
Always, I place consistent over viral. One day, you are on coverpages; people are calling you genius, and your rise, sudden. But those who follow you know you have always been at it. You just blow but you know your set. And at whatever point in your journey people discover you, they can browse through your profile, to see the story, to mark the turning point. Exactly like Zinoleeskly said in that song.
I get what I want.
In August 2016, the theme of the month in Holiness Model Parish, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Magodo Phase 1, was “I get what I say!” On Sunday, July 31, 2016, Pastor Magnus Maduka mounted the pulpit to declare, “We are heaven bound, tongue-talking billionaires!”. I remember this because I referenced it in a WordPress post dated August 4, 2016. Yes, before I created this Medium account, I ran a WordPress. So no, I did not suddenly appear in 2019, I had been blogging since 2014.
At the time, I was living with my uncle in Isheri-Magodo, so I could intern at KPMG Nigeria (150 minutes away). It was my first internship, it was a turning point. I concluded that blogpost with the following words:
“I guess we all constantly need that reminder that the world is big and amazing things happen…. I get what I say. I believe in possibilities. I believe in the biggest and highest things. I do not care what is happening now. No matter how steep the triangle is, I’ll get to that very top. I refuse to be myopic, limited, bound. I shall be optimistic. Nothing is too hard, no amount is too big.”
For years, I have been trying to find this 19 year old; this confident, inspired version of myself. In Midnight in Ibadan, I went on about how 2020 broke me; how my focus, discipline, control, bravery, commitment and sense of purpose broke. Hey, roll the carpet, I think I am rediscovering myself. I am returning to ambition, self-belief, the delusion I need to execute big goals. I am returning to audacity, because verily, verily, I say unto you, who will beat me?
I think I am at a turning point, dawg. I get what I want, I believe it. I say it, it comes to me. Well, not exactly. Nothing comes to me, it’s more like we run towards each other. I put in the work but I also speak into existence. Dawg, this is midnight in London. Can you believe it? Well, since God reads my Medium, can I talk my shit? Can I manifest? Hold my glass, dawg.
I am getting my dream job, I am buying my crib in my dream city. I am affording all the aesthetics for my surreal interior—colours, flowers, paintings. I am returning to my childhood pleasures; I am acquiring everything I once wanted—every musical instrument, every console. I am starting my own orchestra. I am getting my absurdly large TV. When she asks for the cinema, we might just go downstairs. I no longer interact with money from a place of fear.
My taste is elevating—I dress different, eat different, talk different, want different. I am packing my bags and doing weekend vacations at Instagram explore locations, because smoke and dust is not my portion. I am not alone — all my friends are coming with me because they are individually flourishing. They are doing what they want with their lives and making big bag. We are rolling dice to decide on our next vacations.
I am rewarding my parents — my mother is standing with her hands at her waist, she cannot believe what I have done for her. My father too, I am retiring the old man. I am the elder brother that advances the gameplay for my siblings, I am the rich uncle. I am buying my firebabe everything she stares at, our love is sweet. Money is not the problem. I am getting international passports for all my kids, they are reaching for the moon, they do not need to try as hard as their dad.
I am successful and inspirational. I am writing to you from a different foreign city, you are emotional because you remember that it all began from a mattress in Akure. I remain aware of my background, rooted in my principles, loyal to my friends, aware of the plight of others. I am legendary, iconic. My story is told, the movement is documented, the revolution is televised.
It is still midnight in Marlin Apartments, Southwark, Central London. It is 16 December 2022. I am nodding to Stormzy’s latest now. I refresh my Revolut, I see the alert. It is nothing mega but I will shop plenty tonight.
Yes, yes, this is what I mean.