Before I proceed, I want to thank an astute young man, Uche OtiChukwu (I think) 😂 Sha correct me if I’m wrong.
Uche encouraged me this morning, with a lot of nice words. So I have some things to say as well.
It isn’t just that Uche can sing and rap. It is that he is learning Christ. When I mean learning Christ, he not only knows how to focus on his Bible study, but has learnt spiritual respect, and allows himself to be led by the people he believes have received better knowledge of the things he seeks.
One night at the CLASFON Abuja family house was enough to fully understand these truths about this young man. In a prolonged talk, I knew he loved to learn, and would readily be open to other people’s ideas and thoughts. In previous discussions with people who thought like him, it was always a difficult feat getting them to see my point, and to know we weren’t at odds. I gave up, quickly. But with Uche, I think I am able to believe there are reasonable people out there.
Uche, thank you. Thank you for allowing yourself disturb me this morning. You are great.
I missed Garri For Breakfast.
The launch was on Christmas Eve and I thought I could attend until I couldn’t attend. Sucks.
It saddens me somewhat that I couldn’t attend. Many reasons.
While it would have been a good way to support a long-time friend, and also be able to get a copy of the collection of poems easily, I would also have been able to meet some other friends, friends I haven’t seen in years. I would have gotten a copy of Yewande’s Voices. I so love the cover image. I would have seen the Lagos Lagoon from the UNILAG end, and I would have shown Chuks he’s not the only one who can handle a camera.
Most importantly, I would have had garri, groundnuts, and sugar for lunch. I haven’t had that in a long time.
Now I probably have to hustle to get those two books, seeing I have limited time in Lagos. I might have to wait a few more days, weeks, or even years to see Theophilus and Leye and Kenny and Ejike and Mario and Kemi and Yetunde and Ayo and those pretty girls from Class of ’13. And I have to take garri from my own (mother’s) kitchen, buy my own groundnuts and sugar, to drink. Drink, alone.
I figured if I said a few nice things about Seun Lari-Williams here, he might FedEx me a copy of the book. Maybe Yewande will have mercy and add hers.
I was privileged to have attended UNILAG with Seun. He was my roommate in 100 Level, Room 209, Biobaku Hall. He orchestrated a lively war against Room 208, the room to hate, which had the likes of Aileru and Theophilus.
We were cool guys in those two rooms, with a dash of conservation down in 207, but it was perhaps Seun’s effortless charm and charisma that attracted the bulk of Class of ’13 boys to Biobaku, particularly 209. No single male, who was any male in that class, made it through the first year without at least one cursory visit.
Seun created that link, alongside the Yorùbá thinkosopher, Theophilus and the (not so) gentle Ajaja, with our females from Kofo Hall. It started when the ladies, Omoleye particularly (🏃), would call him out at night, and he would just rally “support” from us. All that ended in the loud walks we all had almost every night, some singing, some arguing, and others just trying to get in the romantic zone without getting into romance. All that was fun, until UNILAG scattered us in many ways we cannot talk about here.
Seun loved memories, taking pictures of every thing, and time and time he would have to sit and lament about how full his phone storage had gotten. That Nokia phone saw life, and was the year book for quite some time. That phone introduced me to some serious jazz. I’m talking Nat King Cole, Sinatra, Armstrong, and the crazy trumpet of Sandoval. There was Galway’s essential flute, and then down to Kanye and Andre3000 and on and on.
That phone also got calls from she who must not be named. Crazy days, as Seun would rather have his phone without him. Oh, how we teased life out of him.
It became pretty much obvious that, apart from being intelligent and studious (to an extent), Seun was the definition of common man. Common man, with common questions and common answers. Public life will suit him, because he’s interested in the common good.
And he’s able to get people together, to commit them to a certain work. It was evident in how he rallied us to do things he never wanted to do alone. Or maybe he was just too lazy. At least, I learnt delegation from him. “I don’t have to do it. Just get a group of people, let them like your idea, and let them do it“, he said to me one night.
That was probably how he got the things he wanted. He was never too afraid, because to say he was never afraid would be to lie. Please I’m a Christian.
Seun did bold things. Like calling out for garri in the night, in Biobaku, until someone who wanted peace gave him garri. Like leading the Mariere boys to protest high prices of food items within the school.
He had a way of telling people off nicely, without hurting their feelings. Matter of fact, I learnt how to insult people in a good way, from him, the kind of insults the insulted would laugh at, and pat you on the back, and he’d never know he had been insulted till hours later. Maybe this isn’t a good thing, but it saved me some serious dents to my features.
He has gotten me into trouble many times. I think I started reading over-night because of him. As usual, we always had the exam-panic reading.
One time, we went to Ozone Cinemas. We only had so much money and we were not ready to buy the overpriced popcorn and drinks. Seun had made us buy suya and drinks earlier on, and we smuggled that in. No one could easily concentrate on the movie except us, just because the rest couldn’t place the aroma of suya.
Another time we were to go to see 2012, and Seun made that announcement to the hearing of some of our friends, females. Of course, they wanted to go. Being the gentlemen that we are, we had to empty our bank accounts that evening. Of course we had fun. Of course, we had no food to eat for a few days. We were broke.
We had to turn to garri for salvation.
His poetry is basic, simple and straightforward. There is no deliberate attempt to confuse anyone with high-sounding words. It is just every day life, words that tell the stories of real people, and real situations, and the real world we live in. Poems that are local, and deliberate, relatable.
It is hard to distinguish Seun from his poetry; that’s exactly the way his words flow from his mouth.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether he will go onto politics. At least I know he’s a musician, and now a poet. But his leadership acumen is a quality that time has not, and cannot erode. I believe the best politicians put people first, and from years of rolling with this guy, I know he cannot sleep if he remotely believes people are unsatisfied, or that he has not taken action in the best interest of the regular, average person.
I learnt a vital lesson from him as he ran for the office of Law Society President. As a leader in the faculty’s Christian community, I had been quite withdrawn during the campaigning. It was an attitude I learnt from the prevailing attitudes of Christian leaders in the country who shy away from politics and express support of any candidate. Of course, this is in order not to sway the electorate unfairly, but I have come to know that it is not an approach that is entirely perfect.
Seun Williams expected my support, and when he didn’t get it publicly, he came to my room and told me how unhappy that made him.
I was so sad. I couldn’t justify not supporting him, or not campaigning for him. I’m not God. I’m a human with opinions and I can share that, regardless of what position I hold. Insofar as I am not making the other party look evil, I’m okay.
And so it was that I entered the arena of political campaigns, talking to the people who came to me, and sharing why I thought my man was the best. Maybe it was too late, but he won.
He won, and I shamelessly made the victory lap along Usman dan Fodio Boulevard.
I will do that again, the politicking and all, if Seun runs for any office in this country.
My only hope is that the darkness of Nigerian politics does not get too dark, and discourage light from being light in darkness. If you get it, you get it.
Congratulations Seun Lari-Williams. Garri For Breakfast is a book I would love to review, poem by poem. I hope I will get the opportunity to do that soon.
This post is too long and if you made it to the end, have garri on me.