Friday, 24 June 2011


What are Dreams?

A dream is, basically, a hallucination. Your deepest feelings and thoughts are always "in there somewhere," but during R.E.M (Rapid Eye Movement - Deep Sleep). sleep, something's different.

During the day, your brain produces a chemical that keeps you focused on reality. That chemical is the only thing standing between you, and a constant state of confusion. Without that chemical, you'd never know the difference between what's really happening, and whatever fleeting thoughts you might happen to have.

Without that chemical, every feeling, memory, bout of inspiration, and analytical thought process would all seem to be "out there" in the real world. You'd see, smell, hear, taste and touch all your thoughts as if they weren't thoughts at all.

While you sleep, that chemical is suppressed, and after a few hours of solid sleep, its effect wears off in the brain. That's when you start to dream.


"I'm Being Chased!"

You are entering the mysterious and fascinating world of dreams, where the rules of reality do not apply.In understanding your dreams, you will gain a clearer view on your personal relationships, an uncensored view of your real feelings and a better perspective on life issues..your dreams are unique; no other individual can have your background, your emotions, or your experiences. Thus, every dream can only be connected to your own "reality". In interpreting your dreams, it is important to draw from your personal life and experiences.

A dream has the power to unify the body, mind, and spirit. It provides you with insight into your own self and a means for self-exploration. In understanding your dreams, you will gain a better understanding and discovery of your true self.

"I'm Being Chased!"

Chase dreams are one of several common dream themes, stemming from feelings of anxiety in your waking life. Flee and flight is an instinctive response to a physical threat in the environment. In such dreams, the scenario often features you being pursued by an attacker, an animal, a monster or an unknown figure, who wants to hurt or possibly kill you. Consequently, you run, you hide or you try to outwit your pursuer. Your actions in the dream parallel how you would respond to pressure and cope with fears, stress or various situations in your waking life. Instead of confronting the situation, your dream indicates that you have a tendency to run away and avoid the issue. Ask yourself who is chasing you, so that you can gain a better understanding and insight on the source of your fears and anxieties.

The pursuer or attacker who is chasing you in your dream may also represent an aspect of yourself. Your own feelings of anger, jealousy, fear, and possibly love, can manifest itself as the threatening figure. Or the shadowy figure can symbolize the rejected characteristics of your Self. You may be projecting these feelings onto the unknown chaser. Next time you have a dream of being chased, turn around and confront your pursuer. Ask them why they are chasing you. What are you trying to run from?

If you are the one doing the chasing, then the dream may highlight your drive and ambition to go after something you want. Or perhaps the dream suggests that you are falling behind and having to catch up with everyone else.

Consider the distance or gap between you and your pursuer. This indicates your closeness to the issue. If the pursuer is gaining on you, then it suggests that the problem is not going to go away. The problem will surround you, until you confront and address it. However, if you are able to widen the gap between your pursuer, then you are able to successfully distance yourself from the problem. In essence, the problem is fading away.

A more direct analysis of chase dreams is the fear of being attacked. Such dreams are more common among women than men, who may feel physically vulnerable in the urban environment. These dreams are often brought about by the media, who magnifies fears of violence and sexual assault.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

PERFECT MEMORY(how to use your brain)

In this series i will try to help you get info on how to best use your brain/mind......i will cover topics such as ,how to remember speeches,directions,how to create a mental diary etc......we'll start of with a simple list....this can be a shopping list,to do list,process list...for those times when there is nothing to write with or on..and give feedback on topics you would like featured .thank you.



A list of ten items, whatever they are, should not present a challenge to our
memory, and yet it does. Take a simple shopping list, for example. Try
memorizing the following, without writing any of it down, within one minute.

• fish • football
• margarine • ladder
• chess set • clock
• milk • tape measure
• light bulb • dog bowl

Most people can remember somewhere between four and seven items. And
there was I announcing in the introduction that you have an amazing memory.
It wasn't an idle boast. By the end of this chapter, you should be able to
remember any ten items perfectly in order, even backwards in under one
minute. To prove my point, try doing the following two simple exercises.


Think back over what you have done so far today. What time did you get up?
What was on the radio or television? Can you remember your journey into
work? What mood were you in when you arrived? Did you go anywhere on
foot, or in a car? Who did you meet?

Frustrating, isn't it? Your memory has no problem at all recalling these
everyday, mundane experiences (ironically, the forgettable things in life) and
yet it can't recall a simple shopping list when required. If you were to take this
exercise a stage further and write down everything you could remember about
today, however trivial or tedious, you would be amazed at the hundreds of
memories that came flooding back.

Some things are undoubtedly easier to remember than others, events that
involve travel, for example. When I think back over a day, or perhaps a holiday,
the most vivid memories are associated with a journey. Perhaps I was on a
train, or walking through the park, or on a coach; I can remember what
happened at certain points along the way. A journey gives structure to the otherwise
ramshackle collection of memories in your head; it helps you to keep
them in order, like a filing cabinet.


If, like me, you found the first exercise a little depressing, revealing more
about the ordinariness of your life than about your memory, you should enjoy
this experiment. Try to imagine a day. Exaggerate and distort your normal
Wake up in an enormous, feathersoft bed to the sound of birdsong; a beautiful
lover is lying asleep beside you; pull back the curtains to reveal sunsoaked
hills rolling down to a sparkling sea. An enormous schooner is at
anchor in the bay, its fresh, white linen sails flapping in the Mediterranean
breeze. Breakfast has been made; the post comes and, for once, you decide
to open the envelope saying 'You have won a £1 million.' You have! etc, etc.
Your dream day might be quite different from mine, of course. But if you were
to put this book down and I were to ask you in an hour's time to recall the fruits
of your wild imagination, you should be able to remember everything you
dreamt up.
Imagined events are almost as easy to recall as real ones, particularly
if they are exaggerated and pleasurable. (No one likes to remember a
bad dream.) This is because the imagination and memory are both concerned
with the forming of mental images.
Returning from the sublime to the ridiculous, you are now in a position to
remember the ten items on our shopping list, armed with the results of these
two experiments. Keep an open mind as you read the following few


To remember the list, 'place' each item of shopping at individual stages along a
familiar journey - it might be around your house, down to the shops, or a bus
For these singularly boring items to become memorable, you are going to
have to exaggerate them, creating bizarre mental images at each stage of the
journey. Imagine an enormous, gulping fish flapping around your bedroom, for
example, covering the duvet with slimy scales. Or picture a bath full of
margarine, every time you turn on the taps, more warm margarine comes oozing
This is the basis of my entire memory system:


Later on, when you need to remember the list, you are going to 'walk' around
the journey, moving from stage to stage and recalling each object as you go.
The journey provides order, linking items together. Your imagination makes
each one memorable.


Choose a familiar journey. A simple route around your house is as good as any.
If there are ten items to remember, the journey must consist of ten stages. Give
it a logical starting point, places along the way and a finishing point. Now learn
it. Once you have committed this to memory, you can use it for remembering
ten phone numbers, ten people, ten appointments, ten of anything, over and
over again.


Stage 1: your bedroom Stage 6: kitchen
Stage 2: bathroom Stage 7: front door
Stage 3: spare room Stage 8: front garden
Stage 4: stairs Stage 9: road
Stage 5: lounge Stage 10: house opposite

At each stage on the map, close your eyes and visualize your own home. For
the purposes of demonstration, I have chosen a simple two-up, two-down
house. If you live in a flat or bungalow, replace the stairs with a corridor or
another room. Whatever rooms you use, make sure the journey has a logical
direction. For instance, I would not walk from my bedroom through the front
garden to get to the bathroom. The sequence must be obvious. It then becomes
much easier to preserve the natural order of the list you intend to memorize.
If you are having difficulty, try to imagine yourself floating through your
house, visualizing as much of the layout at each stage as you can. Practise this
a few times. When you can remember the journey without having to look at
your map, you are ready to attempt the shopping list itself. This time, I hope,
with markedly different results.
That shopping list again:

Item 1: fish Item 6: football
Item 2: margarine Item 7: ladder
Item 3: chess set Item 8: clock
Item 4: milk Item 9: tape
Item 5: light bulb Item 10: dog bowl


Using your imagination, you are going to repeat the journey, but this time
'placing' each object at the corresponding stage. The intention, remember, is to
create a series of bizarre mental images, so out of the ordinary that you can't
help remembering them. Have you ever seen chess pieces standing six feet
high and shouting at each other, in your spare room? And what are all those
hundreds of smashed milk bottles doing on the stairs?
Make the scenes as unusual as possible. Use all your senses; taste, touch,
smell, hear and see everything. The more senses you can bring to bear, the
more memorable the image will be. (For instance, if we want to remember a
word on a page, we often say it out aloud.) Movement is also important, and
so is sex.
Don't be embarrassed by your own creativity. There are no rules when it
comes to exploring your imagination. You are the only member of the audience.
Shock yourself! You will remember the scene more vividly. The more
wild and exaggerated, the easier it will be to remember. Let your imagination
run riot; it is the only thing limiting your memory.


To show you what I mean, here is how I would memorize the list:

Stage 1:
I wake up in my bedroom to find that I am holding a fishing rod. At the end
of the line is a huge slimy fish flapping frantically at the foot of my bed.
I use all my senses: I see the rod arcing, I hear the spool clicking, I feel the pull
of the line, I smell the foul, fishy odour, I touch its scales.

Stage 2:
I go to the bathroom to take a shower. Instead of hot water, a thick margarine
oozes from the shower head and drips all over me.
I feel the warm, sticky texture and see the bright, fluorescent yellow colour.

Stage 3:
I walk into the spare room and discover a giant chess set. Like something out
of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the pieces are coming alive.
I can hear them shouting obscenities at each other, insulting each other's king
and queen.

Stage 4:
The staircase is cluttered with hundreds of milk bottles, some of them, half
empty, even broken. The milkman is standing at the bottom of the stairs,
apologizing for the mess.
I pick my way down the stairs, smelling the stench of decaying milk. I hear the
noise of crunching glass, and the squelch of curdled milk underfoot. What was
the milkman doing there in the first place? The more mental 'hooks' and associations
you gather, the greater your chances of recalling the item
Stage 5:
I open the lounge door. Instead of seeing the lightbulb dangling
unobtrusively from the ceiling, it is sprouting from out of the floor, huge and
growing bigger by the minute.
I walk around it, feel the heat its enormous filament is generating, raise my
hands to protect my eyes from the glare. The bulb explodes and shatters into a
million myriad pieces. A sudden violent experience is always memorable. It is
important, however, to vary the scenes; overuse or repetition of a particular
dramatic effect will only confuse you.

Stage 6:
A football match is in progress in the kitchen. Crockery and ornaments lie
smashed on the floor.
The referee's whistle is shrill. Keep your surroundings as normal as possible. It
might be in disarray but it's still the same room. When you come to remember
a different list, the journey itself will still be the same - familiar and reliable.

Stage 7:
Someone has left a ladder leaning against my front door. I can't avoid
knocking it over.
My front door is not a room, but it is another stage on the route. I try to gauge
my reaction and timing. How quickly do I grab the rungs, or do I jump out of
the way? I hear the clatter of the metal as it crashes to the ground.

Stage 8:
A large grandfather clock is ticking away in my front garden, its hands
whizzing around backwards.
I am now outside. What is the weather like? Is it raining? If so, it will damage
the clock. I walk up to it, round it, see my face reflected in the glass. What time
is it? I've never heard such loud ticking.

Stage 9:
A tape measure is stretched out on the road as far as the eye can see.
I press the release mechanism and listen to the shuffle of metal as the tape
begins winding back into the spool at an ever increasing rate. I see the end
bobbing up and down as it catches against lumps in the road. I am frightened in
case it whips past and cuts me.

Stage 10:
My opposite neighbour has placed a huge, unsightly bowl in his garden.
'Dog' is written in garish red letters around the side. The bowl itself is yellow
and is so large that it completely obscures his house. Dog food is spilling over
the lip; great clods of jellied meat are landing in the street all around me.


Once you have created the ten images of your own at ten stages around your
house (try not to use my images or stages), you are ready to remember the list
by walking around the journey, starting with your bedroom. Review each
image. Don't try to recall the object word immediately. You will only get into a
panic and confirm your worst suspicions about your memory. There is no rush.
Put down this book and move calmly and logically from room to room in your
What is happening in your bedroom? You can hear a clicking sound...the
fishing rod...something slimy: a fish. You go to the bathroom, where you shower
every morning...the shower...something yellow oozing out of the head: margarine.
And so on.


I am confident that you will remember all ten items. If, however, your mind
went a complete blank at any stage, it means that the image you created was
not sufficiently stimulating. In which case, return to the list and change the
scene. Instead of the ladder falling at stage 7, for example, imagine climbing
up a very tall ladder and looking down at the tiny front door. It is windy up
there; you are swaying around a lot and feeling giddy. The simple rule of
thumb is that your brain, much like a computer (only better), can only 'output'
what you've 'input'.
Don't forget, you are exercising your imagination in a new way. Like any
underused muscle, it is bound to feel a bit stiff for the first few times. With
practice, you will find yourself making images and associations at speed and
with little effort.


Using a combination of bizarre images and the familiar routine of a wellknown
journey, you have stimulated your brain to remember ten random items.
You have done more than that, though. Inadvertently, you have repeated them
in exact order. Not really necessary for a shopping list, but very useful when it
comes to remembering a sequence, something we will come to later.
For now, content yourself with the knowledge that you can start at any stage
on the list and recall the items before and after it. Take the clock in the garden,
for instance, you know the ladder by the door must come before it, and the tape
measure in the street after it. The familiar journey has done all the work for
you. It has kept everything in its own logical order.
Don't be alarmed or put off by the seemingly elaborate or long-winded
nature of the method. With practice, your brain responds more quickly to creating
images on request. It can visualize objects in an instant (images that
might take a paragraph to describe); you just have to learn how to train and
control it. Before long, you will find yourself 'running' around the route, recalling the objects as you go.

There is also no danger that your head will become too cluttered with all
these strange images. The next time you want to remember another list, the
new images will erase the old ones. It is just like recording on a video tape.
The journey, of course, always remains the same.
It is comforting to know that you are merely developing the way in which
the brain already works, rather than teaching it a new method. It is generally
accepted that we remember things by association. If you are walking down the
street and see a car covered in flowers and ribbons, for example, an image of
your own wedding might flash across your brain. This, in turn, reminds you of
your husband or wife, and you recall, with horror, that it is your anniversary
tomorrow and you haven't done anything about it.

I will now show you an easy way to reinforce these associative images. I
know this all seems strange to begin with, but remember: your memory is limited
only by your imagination.


I have shown you how to remember ten items on a shopping list by placing
them along a familiar journey. Using image, colour, smell, feeling, emotion,
taste, and movement, you were able to recall the wilder fruits of your imagination
and, in turn, the relevant, mundane item.
This method is adequate for remembering a simple list; sometimes, however,
further reinforcement of the images is required, which is where the 'link
method' can be used. At each stage on the journey, try giving yourself a taste of
what is to follow.

For example, on our original shopping list, the first item was fish; the second,
margarine. I remembered the fish by imagining one flapping around at my
feet, hooked onto the end of my line. This time, I imagine the fish basted in
margarine because I am about to cook it. Or perhaps it flaps its way over to the
bedroom door, where a thick yellow liquid is seeping through by the floor.
The linked image should merely serve as a reminder of the next item on the
list. Be careful not to confuse the two items. The focal point remains the fish
and the bedroom.

At stage 2 of the journey, the bathroom, I imagine margarine dripping from
the showerhead. This time, using the link method, I see the vague image of
chess pieces moving around through the steamed-up glass door. And so on.
Try to make similar links for the rest of the list. The clock hands could be a
couple of rulers; the tape measure might be a dog lead. As it begins to recoil, a
large dog comes bounding up the road.

Once you feel confident about linking ten simple items, you will be able to
extend your journeys and the number of things you can memorize. When I
remember a pack of cards, for example, I use a journey with fifty-two stages
rather than ten. Sounds daunting? As long as you choose a journey you are
familiar with, nothing could be easier.

please try it and let me know how it goes...remember the secret is in practise,practice,practice

The Diary of A Nigerian in jo'burg -- Part 3

The Diary of A Nigerian in jo'burg -- Part 3

Clients come from all over greater Johannesburg. Others from other provinces who're
flying to their home countries from Johannesburg International Airport, make use of the dealers.
The dealers also have agents at the airport — some disguised as trolley-pushers. Their job is to
persuade African foreigners to come to Hillbrow and exchange their foreign currency at better
As usual, risk is not in short supply. Some foreigners never get to see Hillbrow. They lose
their money at gunpoint before they reach the black market. Others exchange money successfully
only to fall prey to scavenging thugs or patrolling cops.
Despite the clear and present dangers involved, it is easy to understand why many
African immigrants are cajoled into dealing on the black market and not with legal financial
The black market offers better rates of exchange than banks and other financial
institutions. But that's not all.
For Chibike and many other hustlers the problem is much bigger than opening bank
accounts. They all fear their money will be confiscated.
"If you tell di bank you're selling fufu and stew along di pavement an' in tree monts'
time you have R70 000 in your bank account, how will di bank react to dat? It's straight
confiscation, my brodda."
Outside Witberg's dark corridors, Chibike makes a call, speaking in broken French.
About 10 minutes later a black, luxury sedan with tinted windows pulls over. The door swings
open. Chibike gestures for me to sit in front.
"Nang ga def," I greet the pitch-black figure with thick gold chains wrapped around his
"Denge Wolof?" he asks me back in a thick Senegalese accent. Mbaye is his name. I tell
him I speak some Wolof (the common language of Senegal.) He heaves a sigh of relief and asks
if I trust the Nigerian, because some Senegalese have recently been killed. I ask him why he does
business with somebody he doesn't trust. He says risk is the name of the game.
"Naka ligi yebi?" — "How's business?" I ask. He replies that Allah is great. He tells me
we're heading to Kempton Park, on the East Rand, to meet the Russian black market dealers. If
the sum to be traded is more than $5 000 they go to the wholesalers. He says normally he would
go to the Pakistanis in Fordsburg, the Chinese in Bruma or the Italians in Norwood. But with
the death of the two Senegalese, black market retailers are playing Russian roulette.
We drive to his apartment in Berea. He lives with his Indian girlfriend and the apartment
is very oriental. The sofas are expensive. We sit and wait. Quarter-past-eight and Mbaye tells us
we leave in 15 minutes. He keeps his money under a thick, red Persian carpet. We root about
under the sofas and the carpet and stumble on wads of money.
He refuses to allow us to count the rands. He says he knows exactly how much there is.
We stuff the money inside torn soccer balls and squeeze everything into an expensive leather bag.
His girlfriend makes some strong Senegalese tea. He offers us two cups and tells us Allah will
protect us. He takes off the African dress he is wearing and reveals charms and amulets around
his waist and arms. He brags that no bullet can penetrate him.
Then he puts on boots, black jeans and a jacket. There are drawers underneath his bed.
He pulls one open. Out come an AK47 and magazines. He loads the AK and throws two full
magazines into the bag of money. He opens another drawer and removes a clarinet case. The
third drawer reveals all sorts of medication. He puts syringes, morphine, bandages, plaster and
a small iodine bottle inside the clarinet case.
"Dis is for GSW — gunshot wounds. If you get hit, make for de car before it's too late.
My advice: let de bullet go tru your body. I don't want screaming if de bullet is stock in your
body. It's easier to treat EW — exit wounds."
We hit the highway to Johannesburg International. "Can you drife at 180 and winding de lef
window down?" asks Mbaye.
"You're crazy," I shout back. He pulls over on the highway and asks me to take the
wheel. He says he wants to show me how to develop double concentration when I'm on the
"You have two seconds to look ahead of you and memorise de road and two seconds to
reach for de window winder. By de time you reach de winder, de road's two seconds have past.
You hold de winder and look ahead for two seconds again and back at de winder. If you can't
do it, you can't drive and spray bullets at de same time."
I try it at 120 km/h, running all over the road to a cacophony of hooting motorists. He
urges me to try again. By the time we hit the off-ramp to Pretoria I've mastered it. "Now 180.
It's de same technique," he shouts over a Youssou N'Dour mix playing in the background.
I indicate left as if going to the airport and then head straight to a Kempton Park
location where we park outside on the street in front of a white house with a red roof. It's dark
inside. Our only source of light is from a street lamppost.
"Is dis it?" inquires Chibike. Mbaye nods and asks us to cock our guns. "If dey ask
to si our stuff witout firs bringing deirs, know it's a set-up. Shoot your way out of here, or fall
My heart starts pounding. The silence becomes spooky. The dealers economise in
personnel as if wanting each one of us to be the hangman of the other two. "Dey're watching us,
trying to si if we wan to set dem up," Mbaye whispers.
I'm thinking "ambush". Looks like Chibike is thinking the same. "Wat's up with ya
guys?" he asks Mbaye, pulling out his gun. Mbaye gets out of the car, digs for a cigarette lighter,
lights it and holds it up in the air. Immediately lights are seen inside the house. The gates of
Hades flip open. No one need tell us that all who enter, lose hope of redemption.
Chibike is sweating. His eyes scrutinising like a medieval inquisitor; his finger on the
trigger. "Nigga, can we trust dem? If you make it out of here, don't forget what I told you at
Parklane. My bodi cannot be buried in South Africa."
"Welkom, three kings. My name is Dubronovich. Vwee spoke on ze phone. Jhust call
me Dubro as in Diablo." He's a huge unkempt Russian with tattooed forearms. He lets us
see his gun tucked in his tight-fitting jeans. "Zis is Katarina. She is strip-tease in our club in
Bedfordview. And zis of course is Balakov. He is short, but very good fighter."
We make our way into an elaborately furnished East European-style living room. Dubro
reaches for a remote and blasts gangster rapper 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying. "Okay, let
Katarina do drinks. I bring zer papers."
He comes back with three blue travelling bags. "Kongratulation, you zust won jhackpot,"
he says throwing the bags at us. The smell of blood and methylated spirits rises from the bags.
"Some of zer money is clean. Odder not. Is one for 5.5. You make point-five profit.
Now, are Roshans not best? Vwhy you buy from dose Italians? Zay fucking rob you," he says,
crashing heavily onto a sofa.
Chibike empties his bag. "Seventy tousan. Clean."
"Good. Zer is $13 000 in zat bag and $20 000 in odder two. You can keep change,"
says Dubro tearing open the bags.
Mbaye insists on cleaning the bloodstained notes before leaving. Chibike wants us to
leave ASAP. "I'm not going to count yor money. It better be right or vwee coming to Hillbrow,"
continues Dubro.
Spending so much time in the underworld has skewed dealers' visions of evil. Murder,
kidnapping or petty brutality are not in their purview. Instead, they've developed heightened
sensitivity to homely transgressions like cheating or failing to keep a promise.
The Russian dealers loan money to those who've been blacklisted, pawnshop and
nightclub owners, moneylenders and car dealers with no collateral to secure bank loans. Clients
pay back in dollars — usually after losing a lot of blood. The dollars are traded to black market
Dubro is a debt collector. He says they beat up a loan shark who borrowed money from
them and his blood spilled on the notes. I watch Chibike and Mbaye dip cotton into some liquid
and rub off the blood.
Moments later, without a rumour of a blush, Katarina asks if I've ever had a "Roshan"
massage. I shake my head. She gestures me upstairs. The music upstairs is Sergei Rachmaninov's
Adagio Sostenuto, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Number 2 in C minor, Opus 18.
A few minutes after she begins straddling me, rubbing her warm and soft breasts on my
back, I notice two shadows inside the room. I push her around to get a clearer view. Two pistols
are on my skull. Katarina soon adds hers.
"You are not black market dealer. Vwee see it in your eyes. Vwhy are you here?" It's
Balakov. Before I utter a word they cock their guns.
"Who are you? Tell us or vwee take you to basement."
"Easy guys. The cameras say he entered here without a gun. He is a man of peace," says
an elderly Russian standing in the doorway. The guns are withdrawn. "If you've never spilled
blood before, don't flirt with the devil. We always observe people doing business with us. When
you refused to touch blood money my men began feeling uneasy. If you're in this business, blood
becomes like water. Let him continue with the massage."
I refuse, telling them I've had enough. I join Mbaye and Chibike downstairs and ask if
we can go.
The Russians are laughing on their way down the stairs. I'm too shaken to handle the
steering wheel. Mbaye speeds us off back to safe Hillbrow.

Back at the hotel, Chibike counts the dollars. $13 000. Two thousand more than he'd
expected. "Nigga, we've journied togedder. Here's some bush for us." I decline the trophy. "Give
it to the brother of the Nigerian who got killed in Durban. It's my contribution to send the corpse
"What happened upstairs, Nigga, you never tol mi."
"The Russians had a gun to my head."
"Was dat your firs time? Did you feel dat headache?
"Di street huzzulers have a name for dat," he says. "We call it fire in the brains."



Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Diary of A Nigerian in jo'burg -- Part 2

Have you ever felt the sub-zero chill of a gun barrel on your skull — execution style?
When you have a gun to your head, thinking seems impossible. No coherent answers come in
response to the queries your assailants pose. Your brain’s vaporised — like 10 minutes ago.
Then the unmistakable happens. You develop a splitting headache. I call it the omega
headache. The kind that crowns all the headaches you’ve ever had on earth, as if to say: your
earthly headaches are over.
I’ve had a gun to my head twice. Kingston, a few years ago outside some ghetto club.
Two knock-around Jamaicans thought they’d found the tooth fairy in me. They wanted a Rolex
watch, credit card, coins and anything sellable. We wrestled in the dark. The Uzi spewed no
bullets. It wasn’t loaded. Jerks.
Fast forward. Kempton Park. The gun’s loaded. It’s South Africa. Don’t fumble. They
are Russian black market dealers. Three of them with drawn guns stand around me like a pack
of starving wolves over a bull calf. I’m helpless, half naked on a soft pink duvet — the one on
which moments before, a Russian blonde was massaging me. Soon it may be covered with blood.
I know the end is near. I can smell it. I’m certain my name’s already inscribed on a tombstone.
With guns gaping at me inside a love nest filled with the sweet fragrance of air freshener and the
blonde’s Chanel, my emotions become horrid premonitions as I try to recollect the odyssey that
has brought me here.
It’s true: At the point of death, your past hustles and bustles at you at the speed of
Like many scribes, I refuse to be inoculated with a vaccine the ancient Greek scholars
called Elected Blindness, or what crawlers of the underworld call “mind your own business”.
If I hadn’t taken an interest in the restless people around Hillbrow’s defunct Mimosa
Hotel and the nearby petrol station, I wouldn’t have met the Nigerian drug peddler Chibike.
After meeting him, I could have resisted the temptation of accompanying him to change his
rands into dollars on the black market. In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe writes: “What kills
a man begins like an appetite.”
Inside a room at the Park Lane Hotel, I watch Chibike count the money we’ll be trading.
R70 000. He’s hoping to get $11 000 from his pile of rands. It will be the second time in four
months he’ll be changing rands to dollars. He says he intends going home this Christmas with
no less than $35 000. He changes money when he has a rand equivalent of $10 000.
I urge him to check the news for the exchange rates so that he can bargain better. He
refuses. On the black market it’s R6>$1 and it will remain so until the rand appreciates. Then the
Senegalese will adjust their prices to about R5.50 to the dollar. After some persuasion he agrees
to watch the news. The rand’s trading at R6.42 to the dollar. No luck.
We pack the R70 000 in several pairs of black socks. We top up the medium-sized
handbag in which we pack the socks, with shoes and other clothing items. Then we place fruit
on top to discourage cops from searching the bag too thoroughly.
“Karri dis,” Chibike says to me, handing me a 9 mm pistol. “You know di rules,” he
says. Then he whispers something to his South African girlfriend, Thandi. She walks slowly out
of the room.

“Nigga, if I don’t come back my girlfriend will know what to do wit di rest of di money.
If you make it, remind her dat my corpse cannot be buried in a foreign land.”
“We’re going to change money at the blackies right? We go hand them the money, get
$11 000 and we all go home, right?” I ask tremulously.
It’s the first time I see fear in his eyes. Chibike the brave, talkative, strong, proud ... is
reduced to a slacker of few words. “Hillbrow is unpredictable. Kristmas period is also di period
Nigerian huzzulers become hunted,” he says slowly, his muted despair capsizing my hope.
He asks for a cup of water as if a stranger in his own room. Three short knocks on the
door. That’s how Nigerian drug peddlers herald their presence to fellow tradesmen. “Gimme di
gun,” he whispers.
Slowly the door opens. Two hulking Nigerians fill the room. One carries a pen and a
piece of paper. “Don’t point it at us,” they chorus. Then they begin speaking in Ibo. The face
of the one with the writing materials is frozen in a rictus of grief. I can hear a little bit of what
they’re saying. Someone killed the wailing one’s brother in Durban. They’ve come to collect
money from each Nigerian in the area, to repatriate the body.
Chibike reaches for his special black hat and peels out R1 000 and signs. I tell them I’m
not loaded. They vamoose to the next room. As in rural Nigeria, drug peddlers in Johannesburg
have meetings where members contribute to the wellbeing of others, especially in the event of a
Chibike says Nigerians buried in South Africa were too proud to seek help from their
The door swings open again — this time without any knock. Thandi’s carrying something
in her handbag. She empties it. A sparkling semi-automatic pistol. Chibike tells me it’s unlicensed.
He’s given me his licensed gun so I don’t get into trouble should the cops become involved.
He shoves the semi-automatic into the breast pocket of his brown leather jacket.
“Thandi, don’t forget what I told you,” he says to her and embraces her. She’s sobbing.
Outside, some guys are plastering posters on the wall. The posters are of three Nigerians
killed in separate incidents. Chibike says at this time of the year one rarely finds a building
without posters such as these.
Witberg, along Olivia Road in Hillbrow, is just few blocks away. Chibike insists we take
a cab. He gives the driver R100 instead of the normal R20. “If I die, dat’s how he’ll remember
Although the Witberg apartments have been shut down, its previous occupants,
Senegalese black market dealers, still skulk in its shadows. Suspecting a West African, the dealers
approach passersby, and start negotiating rates. “One for 6.3. Everybody here knows I’m good
for it. If you don’t have 6.3, take my 5.7 for one. Don’t let the banks eat you. You’re West
African and a foreigner here, don’t be stupid. I’m your reliable banker ... ”
By “one for 6.3 ...”, they’re telling clients they sell $1 for R6.30 and they buy $1 for
R5.70. The moment they find out you’re a South African, they either scamper into the darkness
or offer astronomical rates to scare you off. And should you arouse their suspicion, you’re
begging for a bullet.