Books | A Review of Tafa Osisiye’s “Sixty Percent of a True Story”

60 per cent of a true story by Tafa OsisiyeGROWING UP in the 21st century can be fun, especially for the young and vibrant. Different people approach the fast-paced life in the city differently. Some folks are more adventurous than the others.

Tafa Osisiye’s “60 per cent of a True Story” is a confessional spiced with as many elements of fiction as possible to shield its author and other characters from outrage and judgment from the prude and censorious. It captures select portions of the life of a brilliant young man, sometimes too curious for his own good, who navigates through life in the big city that is Lagos.

Osisiye starts out with vivid recollections of childhood far away from Lagos – a distant memory that establishes him as an ever-curious soul. “Am I too short to be in the university?” the teenager asks his elder sister, often changing topics once he perceives intolerance in the disposition of the subject of his torture. The talkative boy soon morphs into a Political Science undergraduate at the University of Lagos from where he eventually graduates top of the class at age 21. Amidst experimentations with sex, booze, clubbing, advance fee fraud and what not, he gets called to be part of a Presidential candidate’s cracker team of young vibrant strategists.

The narrative is sublime and swift. It keeps you glued to the pages as the writer introduces interesting people he encounters in the university. “If people were colours, my roommates were a kaleidoscope,” he writes. “You meet Sir Henry the short and compact man who had been married twice and liked to make long calls at night. Brawn, six feet tall, sports an afro, has bowlegs, walks in carrying a large bottle of 501 Brandy, and has a guitar strapped across his back.” Brawn would introduce Osisiye, “a simple lad from Akure” to weed smoking and other vices: “I met people who smoked the substance and were very intelligent or claimed to use it for creative purposes like making music,” Osisiye muses.

Osisiye battles to understand faith and the religious folks. He tries to keep his sanity as depression forces him to seek help. He learns, unlearns and relearns; always moving with the ‘bad’ guys, yet wriggling out of tight corners and living on the fast lane.

The story begins to fall apart towards the last 40 per cent as the story shifts to the voices of some other key characters – Korede the eccentric and Chris the wealthy – to whom he dedicates entire sections to. The engaging dialogues from the first half of the book begin to give way to lengthy narratives that struggle to hold the reader’s attention. While these sections could have been better strewn together, Osisiye somehow gets the reader moving along.

The shortcomings notwithstanding, “60 per cent of a True Story” is a brilliant documentary of the realities of a young man’s life in contemporary Lagos. It documents the UNILAG that I also attended between 2006 and 2010 from interesting angles. It also reminds one of a similar book – Phil Adel Leigh’s “Diary of a Jambite,” which I read several years back before UNILAG.

Originally published in The Guardian Newspapers.

In 2012: It’s 100 Books or 20,000 Pages! – Plus BONUS link!!!

I recall with nostalgia, how much I loved books – especially new books. The smell of the print brought joy and tranquility to my soul. Though she had never gone beyond the elementary school, my mum always ensured our books for the new session were bought in good time, often a week after the beginning of the third-term vacation. Books excited me, and they still do, and the storybooks were the ultimate. (Did you read “Ralia, the Sugar Girl”?) I was so lucky I never had to be forced to study; it just came natural. We would eagerly take turns to read passages from those lovely books in the English language class.

When I saw story books I did not have with my classmates, I never hesitated to borrow and read. I remember reading “A Tale of Two Cities”, “The Three Musketeers” and “Oliver Twist” after I spotted them with Omobolaji Nubi, one of my ‘tom-boy’ classmates in Primary Six. She would later be my contemporary at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos where she studied Electrical/Electronics Engineering. She would bring several novels from home and we would all devour the content, whether they were brand new or relics from her family library. It was fun and I believe she still reads tonnes of pages now.

It’s well over a decade since those days, but I still love books. I love to search and digest new information and share useful bits with friends, and acquaintances who might find them needful and relevant. Reading liberates and engages the human mind, and from the storehouse of processed information, a writer finds substance. I must also acknowledge that reading has helped my vocabulary and register over the years. In the secondary, I succeeded in getting my mum to buy the Punch Newspapers for me every day, then every weekend, and then we couldn’t afford to do that anymore. Also, studying for a degree in Engineering robbed me of considerable time which would have otherwise been spent reading a lot of fiction and top-quality non-fiction. This year I dare to stretch myself a bit.

My goal is to read 100 books or 20,000 pages in 2012 – between January 1, 2012 and the midnight of December 31, 2012. Guess, that’s a tall dream, right? See my Books & I page to follow on my progress as time ticks away. Of course, for every such project, challenges arise which may threaten to make you give up. But, I will not give up. I believe I can do this, and I will. You can also watch out for periodic reviews of some of the selected books on this space. Next week, I should do a post on the challenges and progress so far on the 100-book project.

Below is a tentative list of books I am considering. The titles with asterisks are those I am yet to purchase. Please, feel free to comment and perhaps suggest some titles of books you think I should/must read before the end of this year. I might just add them to my list and purchase them.

BONUS: I stumbled upon a website recently where one could download up to 85 full novels, most of them classics which had been on the Times list. Here’s the link: Do enjoy the rest of the week, and have a great week ahead. Ciao!

Christian Living & Inspirational
1. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
2. In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon
3. The Purity Principle: God’s Safeguards for Life’s Dangerous Trails by Randy Alcon
4. Personal Notes to the Graduate by Laurie Beth Jones
5. How to Hear from God (Learn to Know His Voice & Make Right Decisions) by Joyce Meyer
6. Following God’s Plan for Your Life by Kenneth E.Hagin
7. The Final Quest by Rick Joyner
8. The Call by Rick Joyner
9. The Kingdom Lifestyle by Gbile Akanni
10. Living with Eternity in View by Gbile Akanni
11. Becoming Like Jesus by Gbile Akanni
12. Silent Labours by Gbile Akanni
13. From Bleak to Bliss by Gbile Akanni
14. Tapping God’s Resources for Life and Ministry by Gbile Akanni
15. Understanding the Concept and Conditions for Discipleship by Gbile Akanni
16. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis*

Management, Leadership & Business (Strategy)
1. Make Today Count by John C. Maxwell
2. Called to Lead – Be the Leader Your Family Needs by Dr. Stephen Adei
3. The Dignity of Manhood by Gbile Akanni
4. The Next Generation Leader (5 Essentials for Those Who will Shape the Future) by Andy Stanley
5. Pathway to Leadership by Gbile Akanni
6. God’s Pattern for Christian Service by Gbile Akanni
7. What God Looks for in a Vessel by Gbile Akanni
8. Man in the Mirror (Solving the 24 Problems Men Face) by Patrick Morley
9. Giants of Enterprise (7 Business Innovators and the Empires They Built) by Richard S. Tedlow
10. The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma*
11. The Rules of Management by Richard Templar
12. The Art of the Start (The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything) by Guy Kawasaki
13. How to Understand Business Finance – Robert Cinnamon, The Sunday Times
14. The Rules of Work by Richard Templar
15. The Google Story*
16. The Toyota Story*
17. It’s not About the Coffee, it’s About the People: The Starbucks Story*
18. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim, Renee A. Mauborgne*
19. Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy by Joan Magretta
20. Passion and Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders by John Coleman, Daniel Gulati, W. Segovia*
21. HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials by Clayton Christensen, Thomas Davenport, Peter Drucker, et al.*
22. Manage Your Image (HBR OnPoint Executive Edition) by Diane Coutu, Jodi Glickman, Soumitra Dutta, et al.*
23. Guide to Persuasive Presentations by John Clayton, John Daly, Isa Engleberg, et al.*
24. Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance by Boris Groysberg*
25. The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less by Tony Schwartz*
26. Nine Things Successful People Do Differently by Heidi Halvorson*
27. The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Clayton Christensen, Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen
28. Winning in Emerging Markets: A Road Map for Strategy and Execution by Tarun Khanna, Krishna Palepu*
29. The Innovator’s Toolkit by Harvard Business School Press, Harvard Business Press*
30. Good to Great*
31. Success Built to Last*
32. Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform by Edward Hallowell*
33. Stop Making Plans; Start Making Decisions by Michael Mankins, Richard Steele*
34. Betterness: Economics for Humans by Umair Haque*
35. The Brand You 50: Or: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion! [Hardcover] by Tom Peters (Author)*

Africa, Economics & Business
1. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
2. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
3. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
4. The State of Africa (A History of Fifty Years of Independence) by Martin Meredith
5. The World is Flat (The Globalized World in the Twenty-first Century) by Thomas L. Friedman
6. Africa Rising (How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More than You Think) by Vijay Mahajan
7. The Rules of Wealth by Richard Templar
8. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working by Dambisa Moyo*
9. How The West Was Lost by Dambisa Moyo*
10. The Changing Structure of the Nigerian Economy – Edited by Charles N.O. Mordi, Abwaku Englama and Banji S. Adebusuyi*
11. Africa’s Odious Debts: How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled a Continent by Léonce Ndikumana and James K. Boyce [Publisher: Zed, 2011]*

(Auto)Biography & History
1. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson*
3. Business at the Speed of Thought by Bill Gates
4. You Must Set Forth at Dawn by Wole Soyinka*
5. Fela: This Bitch of a Life
6. This House Has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis by Karl Maier (Amazon)*

Relationships & Family
1. How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere by Larry King (with Bill Gilbert)
2. Make Your Contacts Count (Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success) by Anne Baber & Lynne Waymon
3. Connecting: 52 Guidelines for Making Marriage Work by Harold J. Sala

1. Every Day is for The Thief by Teju Cole
2. Open City by Teju Cole*
3. Elegy for the Easterly by Petina Gappah*
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak*
5. ‘And thereby hangs a tale’ by Jeffrey Archer*
6. Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro*
7. Disgrace by JM Coetzee*
8. Life and Times of Michael K by JM Coetzee*
9. Memoirs of a Porcupine by Alain Mabanckou*
10. Oil on Water by Helon Habila*
11. Life of Pi By Yann Martel
12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
13. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
14. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
15. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
16. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
17. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
18. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
19. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
20. Frankenstein by Mary Wolltonecraft Shelley
21. Dubliners by James Joyce
22. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
23. Paradise Lost by John Milton
24. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
25. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
26. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
27. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
28. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
29. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
30. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
31. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
32. 1984 by George Orwell

Creative Non-fiction
1. London Life, Lagos Living by Bobo Omotayo
2. One Day I Will Write about this Place by Binyanvanga Wainaina*

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Memories: Naija Stories Lagos Meetup

As I make this post, I am at a cyber cafe where the speed is far slower than that of a snail! :( I’ve been in all day, reading up stuff in a relaxed manner, and it’s been worthwhile. (I just thought to hibernate and keep really solo this weekend.) Anyways, it’s been a week since the Naija Stories Lagos Meetup, so I decided make this post. I’ll be updating this with more pictures and more gist as soon as I get better internet tomorrow or the next. Here goes:

Last Saturday, January 8, 2010, was indeed a memorable day. Members of the Naija Stories website met in Lagos to mingle, have fun, engage in literary discourse and brainstorm the future of the online portal which has now become a rich repository of literary works by Nigerian writers who largely represent the future of our great nation’s literary dynasty.

The event which held within the premises of Verdant Zeal Marketing Communications Ltd on Sowemimo Street, in Ikeja GRA, thanks to Dipo Adesida, brought together eighteen members, including Myne Whitman, the founder of and her sweetheart, Tola Odejayi, who edits entries and moderates the website. (By the way, those are both their pen names.)

I got to the venue over thirty minutes after the scheduled 10AM, no thanks to my addiction to my laptop screen. When I quietly walked in, Abby was the one talking about herself and a bit about how and what she writes about. I also recall her explaining the origin of one of her stories because she wanted to write about her ‘alter-ego’. Remi-Roy was not so difficult to recognize as we had just become Facebook friends and exchanged a number of e-mails that same week. She was first to give that warm smile and spill my name out. She sounded so excited to see me. There was a space in-between her and the gentleman sitting close to the door, so I responded to her welcome to that seat. Oops! Let the meeting begin!!!

It was soon my turn to speak so I made some noise by clearing my cold-stuffed throat like former President Obasanjo would do before speaking. I tried to keep the whole thing as short as possible (I think I could be a lot talkative when given the chance and I become more comfortable). Other people introduced themselves while other latecomers trudged in to cause subtle distractions. The king of distractions was Christopher Ogbuehi (a.k.a Cikko) who caused the biggest stare and drew the noisiest guffaws when he told us his NS username. Apparently, he had written some mind-blowing stuff on the website and most people had hitherto been trying to imagine what he actually looked like in real life! My own surprise at seeing him was that we lived in the same hostel (Mariere Hall) at the University of Lagos four years back. Then, he was in his final year studying Law in UNILAG. The only other thing I’d share with you right now about him is that he was a king at Pro Evolution Soccer! I was in room C308 while he must have been in C305.

Tee Akindele will be remembered by me as the man with Charisma. Plus, I observed that whenever he was going to give comments, he would go on and on, never lacking substance to spit! Really, that amazed me. He also has a way of gesticulating when talking as he passionately aired his views. This he did before and after Tola Odejayi gave a little talk on his observations about most stories submitted on NS as well as useful tips about writing and making submissions. In his opinion, before a writer finally decides to submit her/his story for publishing, she should check for the flow of the story, logical consistence, and how technically sound the story is. Also, before pushing the send/submit button, you should be bold to say, “This is how I feel is right and this is why I feel it is right”.

Amazing Couple: Myne takes a shot while Tola looks on...

Thereafter, there was plenty of room to ask questions and engage in more useful discourse. Some of the popular questions/debates bothered on writing for financial gains versus writing highly literary stuff for the name. Must I pander to western sensibilities to become a famous/rich writer? To what extent should I consider my audience when writing? Am I to write to suit my audience or just write what’s on my mind? Should writers write more about real/existent places and to what degree of details? Must I tone down my use of the literary elements, my excellent grasp of grammar and rich vocabulary bank? There were so many questions to ask and deliberate on! Eventually, suggestions and observations were made about the future of the NS website. Some of the major points were the need to drastically improve the graphics and layout of the website. Myne and Tola currently run the website on a voluntary basis and as such are beginning to look into ways of sustaining the website whilst compensating writers, especially the top writers who have made exceptional contribution to the growth of the website. Some wonderful ideas are being considered and we definitely should be looking forward to a bigger and better Naija as the New Year unfolds.

The Unveiling of Abby! :)

It was soon time to call it a day, after generous refreshment and the vote of thanks. In fact, someone who just joined NS that same day thought there was going to be a gate fee of sorts. No, thanks to Myne Whitman and her admirable sweetheart (Tola Odejayi), as well as Dipo Adesida (who provided the meeting space), and Remi-Roy who also helped in organizing the programme. I took so many snapshots as you can see and really, some of us found it difficult to leave so soon! We bantered for as long as our legs could permit. Abby was perpetually bespectacled and naughty, poking jokes at everyone, such that we became very curious to see the eyes behind the dark glasses. Perhaps, what was more intriguing was her earlier disclosure that she wanted to be a sniper as a child. I was smart enough to catch her off-guard!

Altogether, it was fun meeting up with hitherto virtual friends and networking further. Sometime past three in the afternoon, after about 15 more minutes of exclusive gist, Remi-Roy and I finally parted at the gate of the venue. We were the last to leave the venue. Perhaps, I’ve found a new aunty to gist with anytime I want to. Just maybe!

Random Notes and Reflections on a Christmas Day

After a week of drought on this space, I’m back, at least for today.

Merry Xmas Blogville folks!

Here in Lagos, I can’t feel the harmattan haze, but many speakers are blaring diverse tunes on the streets and open fields. People, young and old, rich and not-so-rich, are trying to catch as much fun as they can, but here I am trying to break away from the grip-in-the-neck of my excessive muse, plus sleepless nights, that has made me feel rather giddy and unable to pen my thoughts down, or even strike out my words on the keyboard. Okay, I have managed to complete a short story up to 60% this week, but it’s really been a busy week at work, though it’s mostly been away from the usual location.

Talking about Christmas, I have a small confession to make! *Sssshhhhhhh* It’s simple, but may also sound weird: I hardly stay at home on Christmas day! In retrospect, one way or the other, I seem to run away from home every year. (Remember I wrote about a certain brand of boredom that descends on me at this season of the year in a recent post?) Since 2006, I have been able to find a reason to be away from home. In fact, I have found my way to UNILAG every Christmas day since 2007! In 2006, I had just moved into Mariere Hall of the University of Lagos in November (I think) and for some reasons I needed some time alone. I went home on the morning of 25th December and by the next morning I was back in C308, Mariere Hall. All my roomies were gone -to their families, but there I was, surrounded by empty mattresses, piles of books, my ‘ideas’ and ‘dreams’ journal, pen, clothes, my bible, a radio, and other random essentials. The hostel was quiet and was just perfect; the silence was pin-drop mostly. I spent the rest of the year even into first week of 2007 all alone in the room. I had a very refreshing time in God’s presence because it turned out to be spectacular! There was a lot of time for prayers, worship and what have you? I received directions for the following and, sincerely, I made several giant leaps in 2007. Less than two months into the New Year, I became the Music Director of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union as a 200 Level student. That marked the beginning of a beautiful journey I do not intend to write about just yet. I went on to do a few consulting jobs and experienced life and God’s grace in explosive dimensions.

LVCU Folks: L-R: Tomi Ajayi, Moi, Onyekachi Isiguzo, Chibuikem Atueyi (Committee Chairman), Emeka Okoro, Toyin Taiwo

In December 2007, I remember I was on the Exco Camp (2) Planning Committee of the Lagos Varsity Union (we were having meetings around the time) and somehow I still found reason to be in UNILAG on Christmas Day, even though there was no meeting for that day. I just needed to be away from home! Same thing happened in 2008 when I joined Toyin Taiwo (then Prayer Secretary) and a few of the brethren at the Christmas Day service at the Chapel of Christ Our Light in UNILAG! After the service, the church soon became deserted; we continued to gist and even ‘broke bread’ but soon, out of boredom staying back inside Divine (the name give to one of LVCU’s buses), we decided to pay a visit to the Akinnibosun’s. Two of their daughters had been members of our fellowship and the elder sister was particularly friendly and we were quite familiar because I often teased her (I can disturb people o!). There we ate poundo (you need to give me thumbs up because that must have been my first and definitely the only time eating swallows outside home and LVCU camp meetings, which is another home anyways!) and I used the spoon as usual, and no I don’t try form ‘ajebutter’ with that; I just prefer taking sallows with spoons and not hands. We watched a few Yoruba movies and just laughed. Their mum proved good company as we all paid attention to the TV screen and joked in-between. (Pastor T, thanks for suggesting that visit!!! *smacking my lips now*) In 2009, it was more of a solo run as I still found my way to UNILAG again on Christmas Day! I must have just wandered around, trying to gather my thoughts and fiddling with my (erstwhile) Sony Vaio laptop… Earlier today, I was there again in UNILAG! I’ve found a little extra explanation, though. I think it’s the power supply thing. PHCN hardly respects us to provide 24 hours of power supply, not even 6 hours at a stretch, and my restless self is not patient enough to endure the heat and other similar punishments meted out by the outrageous degree of power outage lol! (By the way, I think a few days on a personal retreat is in order for next week. I need it badly enough to run away from home again!)

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Oh! I have also observed that the rate at which people ‘throw knockouts’ these days is no more intense as we had it in the late 90’s [now I’m feeling like one old man :)]. Like every child then, I graduated from just playing around with *Ina Olorun and singing *“Ina Olorun ko kin jo yan, to ba jo yan ko kin dun yan”, to throwing ‘Bisco’. Okay this is the gist in English version: as a ten year old, most of my friends in the same age-group were not brave enough to scratch fireworks against the match box and throw away the ‘knockouts’ in good time for it to explode and make some noise! We would go about lighting with kerosene lamps tiny rods of copper which would burn while shining with sparkles of light. We referred to that light as God’s light and in that Yoruba song, we would chorus along that “God’s light does not burn; even if it burns, it’s not painful.” By the time I was in JSS 2, I had long graduated to scratching fireworks against the matchbox. We even would bury the stuff under a bucket or used Milo, Bournvita, Cowbell or Ovaltine cans, quickly cover it and face it down. This way, the sound is amplified when the firework exploded with a bang! There were even more interesting and adventurous sides to it. There was (and I think they still do it in some places till date) always inter-street and inter-house competitions. Adventurous kids would throw fireworks into other people’s backyards and frontages, and the whole deadly competition climaxed on New Year Eve!

One particular year, I wanted to ‘throw a lot of banger’ so I decided to use some money I had saved and you know what? That particular year, my mum indulged me by taking me along with her to the popular Mushin market in Lagos where she bought provisions and other goods she sold at her shop. She surprisingly allowed me shop for exotic fireworks and even added from her money. Till today, I still wonder why she allowed me to do that! Anyways, to cut the long story short, that holiday, I had my last and biggest fireworks adventure. After the New Year eve service at the church, you could feel the pulse right from inside the church. That particular year, some unruly boys even threw some ‘knockouts’ into the church auditorium. It was always like passing through a battle field after church service every 31st December. You were afraid not to be caught in the crossfire. When I got home, it was serious battle with kids from other buildings and, thankfully, there was power supply so the street was well-lit enough for us to see flying ‘missiles’ and dodge them just in time. At a point, the atmosphere was so cloudy from the smoke generated by the exploding fireworks, we could hardly see through. Even we air we breathed was filled with strange chemicals.

Photo credit:

The following day, nemesis caught up with me! I had difficulty breathing properly and again, after about two years of fairly stable health, I had to receive intravenous injections at Jolad Hospital in New Garage! I learnt my lesson without being warned by my mum. I still don’t know why she indulged me, but I guess that’s how God allows us to learn from our own stubborn episodes some times. Needless to say, from that year I never scratched the matches with or fireworks anymore! Since then, I would just laugh at people who still burn money, energy and time doing so.

Back to boredom during this season, I have made up my mind to go for changes in the New Year. By the grace of God, next Christmas will be spent with friends and family in grand style! In fact, who knows? I’ll probably be spending moments seeing places and relishing in the joy of the season in company of that ‘special someone’ (I just discovered that I’m not growing younger lol!). So till then, I’m off to do some strategizing for the New Year so that I can indeed be prepared for those impending changes and move to higher levels (you know?). And again God answered my heart’s cry for company, music, and the piano. Some thirty minutes after ranting on Facebook earlier today, a senior friend has invited me to join her organisation on a visit to an orphanage next Monday! So I’m going to play some music from the keyboard (better than no real piano) for those kids, and even show them a few tricks on the keyboard. Thank you Jesus! I now got company. What a Christmas gift! Now I’m off to listen to some HBR, Creflo Dollar and Joyce Meyer podcasts!!!

Once again, Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year in Advance!

Your Lagos Boy


Fireworks are explosive compounds with carbon, potassium, and sulphur as the prime constituents. The colours are produced by metallic salts (e.g. blue, copper; yellow, sodium; red, lithium or strontium; green, barium), sparks and crackles by powdered iron, carbon, or aluminum, or by certain lead salts.

Exactly one year ago, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab went too far with explosives and got Nigeria’s image dragged in the mud again. Obviously, he took the chemistry of explosives too far! Now, I wonder what kind of fireworks he played with while growing up. :(