How The &@#! Did You Get Here?

by Sola Osofisan

Denizens of the Internet have come to agree that it is a vast wilderness, an uncharted and definitely untamed jungle that leads nowhere and everywhere!

It even leads to Africa!

I hollered that for the benefit of those who have ears but refuse to hear, and so continue to think my family house in Nigeria is on a tree and my mother still ignites her cooking fire by slamming rocks or chasing lightning strikes. The wilderness that is the Internet has encroached on the “wilderness” that is my Africa.

In the seven years or so that the world has been winding its electronic way into a web of information, misinformation and the usual disinformation, many emerging countries like Nigeria have plugged into the network, defiantly refusing to be left behind. Expectedly, those who seek to know more about these countries once thought to be in the dark place scour the Internet using Search Engines to harvest much more than they ever imagined.

Search Engines…These wondrous web crawlers sniff around the Internet to index all that’s publicly hosted thereon, in the hope that someday when you need to find something about anything – from the fantastic to the mundane, from the peripheral to the critical – they will be pulled up like magic, Voila!

To facilitate this, the operators have developed extensive technology that allows them to gather, store, analyze and then spit out data on demand. That means every single word you have ever typed into a Google or Yahoo or Altavista is stored in some vast database someplace where it is crunched around the clock into statistics that make the engines work better (yap, and make more money. That too!).

Pay a visit to the Yahoo Buzz Index, a continually evolving chronicle of the most popular items people search for in Cyberspace… It is a revealing place to visit. For instance, during the height of George Bush’s war, 9/11 was the most researched topic on the Internet. Right now as we are all running in circles trying to beat the tax deadlines in America, the Internal Revenue Service is another favorite. But the examples above are the seasonal entries in the top 20 list. There are perpetual items that never seem to leave the list. Britney Spears is one. She hops up and down like a basketball that has assumed a life of its own. Other perennial list members are the NBA, Dragon Ball Z and Jennifer Lopez.

You will find the same set of top search terms on the Lycos Internet 50 list. And then you will find some more. The World Trade Center and New York City are still here. So’s Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, WWF, Playstation 2 and Sports Illustrated (you guess the edition!). The more mature minds run searches on cloning, Greek mythology, Shakespeare, WW1 and The Bible (oh yes, the good book is still hanging in there!). Others, of course, look for the pictures of Pamela Anderson.

Websites all over the Internet want to occupy positions of prominence in these search results. They have in turn developed scripts that record the last page a browser visited before hitting the website. If it is a Search Engine, the script can also capture the exact words the visitor typed into that engine to generate the result. It’s all about demographics and targeting and advertising and all sorts of uninteresting gobbledygook. It also reveals the precise things you’re looking for so that the webmaster can make more of it available, indirectly ensuring your return.

The word “Nigerian” is the key culprit that brings people to these website – Type it into any engine and it drags this website up by the scruff of the neck! (You know what I mean). There are others of course. The visitors who come from all corners of the globe are not all Nigerians. The following is a light-hearted look at some of the combination of words that have brought people to my website in recent weeks. I may do more of this sort thing. It was fun!

“Names of African countries + eat + human beings”
– Can you beat that? Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water! We should provide him with these countries as quickly as possible. Whoever it is may have discovered he has similar inclinations and would rather go someplace where he will fit in!

“The white man is the devil dot com”
– I am not! I don’t have horns, do I? Do you see a tail someplace? Sure, I can breath fire, but every monster in the movies can do that. And don’t you start thinking I’m calling myself a monster now! How dare you think like that? After all I have done for your stupid continent and country? After I rescued you from barbarism and all that self-loathing? The wonderful policies from my IMF are dragging you out of the economic quicksand you blindly walked into… Do I get a thank you for that? You can’t please people! Hmph!

“Nigerian baby names”
– Reminds me of the African American lady who named her son after our very own Hakeem Olajuwon. Asked by another, do you know the meaning of that name? The response? “The Dream”. Enough said.

“Nigerian prostitutes pictures”
– Now, why would anyone be looking for this? If you want to sample smut, it’s all over the Internet, free and not so free. And to the best of my knowledge, a black body anywhere looks the same. Why is this party interested in the ones from “Nigeria”? Is there something to be seen in their pictures that’s not readily available elsewhere? Someone must email me about this so I can go and sample it too! A man should know what to look for, right?

“Ashamed of being African”
– Ah, buddy, you need help.

– I can dig that!

“Ayotunde meaning”
– Is this your name or a friend’s? The full name is likely Ayo-mi-tun-ti-de, which means my joy has come back again. Lovely loaded name in Yoruba. Turn it to English and it reads like a Nick Carter novel.

Aso Oke & Buba & Sokoto
– That’s the ultimate men’s attire, friend. You gotta see it on the neck of royalty, with a flywhisk in hand. Suits don’t even come near it.

“Nigeria (what kind of people live there and how they act)”
– Are you planning a trip? I can help you! The Nigerian people have two legs, just like other people you know. They have two ears, hands, eyes… Okay, you get the meaning. Some of them actually speak English, although it is of a wild variety that you cannot even begin to understand. When they’re happy, they climb walls and leap over houses. When they’re sad, they grab all foreigners around, cut them into tiny pieces and eat them. Those Nigerians. Stay away from them!

Truth be told, friend, you gotta go to Nigeria to get an answer to that. Whatever you read on the Internet will be someone’s opinion and if they had a terrible time in Nigeria, they’re going to tell you terrible things about Nigerians. Get offline and go. It’s getting close to our beheading festival…

“Ibo try to shake off an accent”
– Nna, why now? Na the social secu-rity number be dat o. Na identity card. The thicker the better, ya hear? No try am at all at all.

“Picture of Nigeria yam fields”
– You might as well be searching for a picture of the groundnut pyramids of Kano. Yam fields? What science fiction novel did you pull that from? New York Times? The only yam fields you find in Nigeria now will be in Obasanjo’s farm. We import it now.

“Skinny models in Germany”
– Fat one dey? No be all of them dry like bonga-fish? Abegi!

“What kind of housing do Nigerians live”
– Real ones, made out of brick and concrete and cement and iron and slate roofing… Very much unlike all these wooden structures you have here on the East Coast where the whole building knows every time Mr. and Mrs. Peterson are getting their groove on – in the morning and afternoon and evening and night and night and night… Real brick houses that stand in one spot forever. It takes forever to burn. Good thing too, since it takes just as long for our fire brigade to respond to emergencies. We moved off the trees because they have become uncomfortable. Besides, we don’t have enough to go around anymore. We cut them all down to sell to you so you can build your houses out here!

“Nigerian short stories Wole Soyinka”
– Obviously, you know nothing about the dude, dude.

“Naked women crying”
– Oritshe! There is something grievously amiss with the technology behind some of the Search Engines out there. What in the world has my website got to do with a woman crying? Naked ones for that matter? And why would the dear woman need to get naked before she cries? I have no problem with how people get there jollies, no. The naked right woman will get any man chanting “Father, lead us not into temptation”, but crying is like a rush of wind gusting indoors back home in Nigeria on one of those nights when NEPA has struck and you have candles lit all over the place. The breeze extinguishes all the light. Crying is like that to amore. It snaps a rubber band in its soft behind. Naked women crying… God dey sha.

“Cloning Italian scientist”
– Am I missing something here? Is there another level of genius attained by Italian scientists that the ones from Nigeria or America cannot reach? Is that the explanation for this search? Good idea buddy. Spread the genius equitably. Clone them all. And while you’re at it, why don’t you clone Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Michio Kaku, Michael Jackson… On second thoughts, leave Michael Jackson out of it. One masquerade of his ilk is enough for one planet. Besides, that list was already getting confusing with all the Michaels on it!

“Sharia + Terrorism + Nigeria”
– Sobering, isn’t it? Once upon a time, Nigeria wouldn’t have been found in the same sentence with those two preceding words. Now, you can write a book on it! How times have changed! Is the rest of the world beginning to associate our country with Bin Ladenism because of Sharia and bizarre decisions to stone a human being to death? Well, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.

“Trees in Germany which spell out Allah’s name”
– Deep. Very deep. Too deep for lesser minds like mine. The chap probably typed this while tripping on one of those new fangled elevator drugs they sell on the Internet. Deep. May I be excused?

“Nigerian Gods”
– Which one? We have many o! Three kinds really. We have the imported ones – I mean the Christian and Moslem gods. But they don’t interfere too much with our affairs. We screw things up all by ourselves.

– We also have traditional gods. The white man stole many of them away when he sneaked in to colonize us. That’s why things have remained askew for so long. The funny thing is what kind of gods do total strangers steal away in the night? Why didn’t they turn the Oyinbo man into a monkey or tree or something, right? How do you expect a god that cannot protect himself to keep an eye on you? How? All those traditional gods that used to be so powerful and potent, once they were placed in the Oyinbo man’s glass prisons in the cold cold museums, they lost their powers. “Just like that”, to borrow from Fela. Nigerian traditional gods don’t like it in air-conditioned rooms. They thrived when they lived in open spaces at the Orita or under the Iroko tree or in the deep dark forbidden forest! Marbled floors cripple them. The cold of winter has surpassed the mild harmattan chill.

– Finally, we also have gods in human skin. Our soldiers are gods. Actually, gods raised to the power of 10. As Fela sang, “everybody get him power everywhere”. Our policemen are also gods, although they don’t feel so invincible in the presence of armed robbers’ or OPC bullets. They only flex their muscles in front of people who cannot shoot back. Our politicians… They are so powerful they can re-write the Nigerian 10 Commandments. Take the Senate and Representatives for instance…when we do it, they holler. When they do it, they modify the law and make it legal. Governors, president, even common counselors who never finished primary school are gods in Nigeria. George Orwell was writing about us when he wrote, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. You don’t want me to go on bro. You know enough about our Nigerian gods now.

“New York Times slavery Africa Children lie”
– As Majek Fashek sang, “leave us alone o”

“Then I gave it to her from the back doggy style”
– Now, why in the world would you want to type that in a Search Engine? Why? You did it buddy. Are you hoping to get a picture or video of the experience on the Internet? How on earth did that get you on my website anyhow? Look, you can give it to her from whatever angle you fancy. As long as she’s willing to take it, it isn’t a crime. But keep it to yourself bud! And keep it quiet too!

“Underwears + style + sex + man”
– Hopefully, it was a woman that ran this search. Hopefully.

“Hot cheer leaders naked”
– Sick computer user honey.

“Africa the nation of poetry”
– Now that’s what I’m talking about boo! (Did I just write that?).

“Kin Saro-Wiwa”
– Try Ken. You will get a better result.

“Igbo girls online”
– E be like say my broda dey find ogbonge babe to marry. Time don reach sef. Make man no dey take grey hair father quintuplet. But girl online get as dem be o! Abi na Oyinbo Igbo girl my broda dey find? Abeg carry somebody Benz pose make you nack fine picture. Send am go meet mama for village. Dem go send better girl come jam you for dis side via airmail! Online Igbo girl? Dem no dey different from online Yoruba or Hausa or Ijaw girl o. The Internet dey liberate and woman wey don open eye dey fear person o! I don talk my own o!

“Transplant shock immigrants”
– Is this a residual backlash of September 11? Or is he telling me that immigrants will first be given transplants and then given some sort of shock treatment… Be afraid. Be very afraid…

Okay, I’m all tapped out. You will here from me as soon as I can put together another collection of Internet searches. Time to giddy up and get outta here!

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Anonymous February 4, 2006 - 8:37 am

who can help me with my visa to the USA am a nigerian still in lagos

Anonymous October 11, 2005 - 11:53 am

Loads of humour fresh perspective absolutely interesting…Sola Osofisan you missed your calling…I really think you should have been a comedian.

-Tae Lagos Nigeria

Anonymous August 7, 2005 - 1:44 am

It is very funny.


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