He doesn’t even know it, but Naira Marley is a cult leader. All of a sudden, there’s an army of Nigerians all over the world calling themselves Marlians. They follow the philosophy of the Great One aka Afeez Fashola, who is only 25 years old. Their doctrine, it appears, is smoke a bouyant amount of weed, rage against the authorities, have a lot of sex, and secure the bag aka naira.
“There’s nothing we won’t see in this world,” they said. “This small girl of yesterday is our CEO. What does she even know?” The staff didn’t like it when her dad brought her to run the company. Some of them are as old as her grandfather. They knew her when she was a little girl and used to run around the office in diapers. Now, she’s their boss.
When we were boys in the 90s, we liked Shabba Ranks. You don’t know Shabba Ranks? Okay wait. His dancehall was beautiful but Shabba himself was ugly. And I say that with all due respect.
Ayo, in Yoruba, means joy. Alayo… literally means a person who owns joy. The word also means someone who’s spoilt rotten. When I was growing up I had a friend whose name was Ayo and he was also spoilt rotten. That was a problem.
Yesterday we were looking at ten thousand naira and we thought hey, it’s been a while, let’s try that grilled catfish they sell at Osata Supermarket. “Oh my god,” someone said, “the sauce on that thing is fire! I bet it’s a family recipe—guy probably inherited it from his grandmother.” “I swear.”
Did Regina Askia have green eyes? Remember her modelling shots for Collectibles back in the day? What was the colour of her eyes in them? Black? No. Lailai.
Okay, that’s reckless hyperbolism. My grand arrival in that famed continental magazine was anything but sudden. That story took me all of three weeks, plus a couple of extra sleepless nights—factoring in interviews, research, transcriptions, rewrites, edits, and reverts. But one day, just as I languished in one of those Lagos traffic jams on Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi, I saw Ayeni Adekunle and Steve Babaeko on the cover of Forbes Africa and I was like, Wait, that’s my story.
Every time I send an idea to any of my friends, I cross all my fingers and say 300 hail-Mary-mother-of-Gods. As I proclaim, “Hey, check this out,” I put a fake smile in my voice and ask like everything’s cool. “What do you think of this one?” While I tiptoe around my room waiting for their feedback, my head screams: Damn, I have gone and done it again. Shouldn’t I know by now that nobody wants to see another hot new brainwave from me!
WARNING: IF YOU’RE ALLERGIC TO CHEESY, FEEL FREE TO SKIP THIS ONE. I’ve got a secret that has tugged at my conscience for many months. In my head, there’s been an epic battle: should I expose myself? I knew that if I did, one of two things would happen: you’d either love me or despise me. But the more I’ve kept the truth about myself hidden, the worse I’ve felt about depriving friends and family the one thing I’ve done for many years to acquire the quality of life I’ve lived for at least 15 years.
I’m deeply honoured to be named to the grand jury of the New York Festivals Advertising Awards. Which is a super big deal.