As you read this, don’t worry about me. It doesn’t really matter the time of the day. Night or day, it doesn’t bother me. As you read this, I am having my feet up. You know, if you really want to feel the real impact of having had a very hard day at work (if you work, at all), then get back home, do nothing; just sit on the sofa and put your feet up. Yes, up on the side table or whatever table you have in front of the sofa! You will have find overwhelming, the kind of relief that will come upon your poor, tired body, especially if your activities are carried out in any of the busy cities of Nigeria.
So as you read this, I am having my feet up, somewhere outside. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Jordin Sparks singing No Air with Chris Brown you are listening to, or Salawa Abeni singing Gbogbo Oro La Ye Mo (never mind, I don’t think she ever sang anything by that title).
Oh perish the thought! For those of you beginning the very arduous task of engaging yourself in those very typical: “Is he?” or “Is he not?” questions about whether there’s any vegetarian credentials ascribable to me, let me reassure you that I am not a vegan. You can imagine what would have become of my conscience if I was one of those hard core vegetarians and living in Lagos, where, as is often the case, every left and right turn brings me in contact with one form of ‘murder’ or the other; especially in those numerous ‘point-and-kill’ corners dotted all over the place.
Can you imagine such evil done in the name of satisfying the palate? Of people getting seriously dressed, leaving their homes, and deliberately walking up to a group of fish, enjoying a lovely swim in a big basin of water, oblivious of what’s on the minds of wicked humans, and they stand there and point at an innocent fish requesting that it should be murdered! When military dictators acted in this way in this country, a few years ago, I am sure it was some or all you indulgees, given to this wicked act, who screamed: HUMAN RIGHTS!
My long-time friend in Liverpool, Janet Carvell (a vegetarian), I am sure, upon being exposed to this heinous crime being perpetrated across the country in the name of eating pleasure would surely now see that I am not as bad as she used to think. After all, all I used to do was cajole her into cooking me a couple of small-size frozen fish at a time, whenever I visited, in spite of her being a vegetarian. Well, she used to tolerate what she saw then as my “murderous” food excesses! You can be sure that were she forced to spend some time in this Lagos of today, where she’d be made to come face-to-face with this shameless ‘point-and-kill’ mentality of all you evil indulgees, she would just lose it completely.
But on recovering from such a state of shock, you can be sure that any individual, including me, myself, and I, looking at how much effort is being put into making Lagos beautiful, would begin to wonder and ask, what manner of beauty? The first serious question will have to be what’s beauty if it’s not enduring but only skin deep?
There were times in the past when a number of Nigerian women became Eurocentric and assumed that Nigerian men only preferred a certain skin complexion. That’s how very little they knew and thought of their men. As a result beauty became skin deep. Once you scratched the surface of what was original your lot in creation, you thought you were great. What happened? Women invaded the market for specialised creams and soaps wickedly made for these women to realise their dreams.
If you needed to see how this played out, you only had to find your way to some of those Friday and Saturday parties on the Island in Lagos, and by extension, Ikeja and Mushin, where you’d find your eyes assaulted by the discolouration of the woman, with everyone trying to outdo each other in the display of polished skins. Skin deep beauty was very obvious for all to see, and a discoloured skin showed itself in the way that the veins shot out at you with the transportation of blood in the veins also clearly visible. Beauty was skin deep and it was evidenced in the way the concept was flaunted by whoever was so small minded to think that was the whole essence of the creation of Aphrodite. But we know beauty is not just in the skin, however thick or thin the skin layer is. Does anyone know the trend these days? I await answers upon my return.
If beauty is much deeper than what the women of those bygone days made of it, it is important that the effort to make Lagos beautiful finds a home in endurance. Establishing enduring beauty is the only way that whatever money is being spent can be justified. Take for instance, the effort being made along the Marina waterfront, as well as other such places in the state. I could recall my experience passing through Marina last year. I discovered that the pavements that have been built as part of the ongoing beautification being done on the Marina were collapsing. This suggested the poor quality of work or lack of supervision by state officials. Or perhaps, that the state is more interested in skin deep beautification. If this is not the case, then there should be proper supervision of the exercise so that enduring beauty is achieved instead of the brand of beauty more popular with those women described earlier in this piece, who thought most Nigerian men of their time equated beauty with skin pigmentation.
Should I be made to stand in front of the people involved in these projects across the state, I will be asking: Have you got somebody who understands the vision of this beauty thing, working on it to ensure that it is realised and delivered to the residents of Lagos? If we can’t answer this question, we will just find that a strong wind will blow and expose the backside of the ostrich. Not just that. We will see the veins under the skin. We will see the blood running in the vein and realise that it is actually skin deep beauty!