Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

She’s all of me.

From the first light of morningForbidden_Love_by_Maz6277

When I awake to a brand new day

To nighttime when I lay my head to rest

And drift into oblivion.

For her, sleep eludes me

And when it comes

It brings visions of her smile

Of her presence

Of her wondrous mind

Of her svelte body

And her amazing heart.

In her I find inspiration

And when I falter she shows mercy,

In forgiveness she encourages me,

Helping me across bridges from fear to hope.

She’s not mine

But this life is meaningless without her.

Her embodiment has filled my being

And my soul wholly consumed.

I have lost all worldly desires as she possesses me,

Praying to God that she leads me home….

 

For Onyinye

A few days back, the Nigerian President signed into law a bill criminalizing same sex marriages and unions in Nigeria. The bill I must say (even from a layman’s point of view) is as ambiguous as it gets. The position of the Government and most of the supporters of the new law is three pronged; One, Homosexuality is foreign and not in line with the cultures of the over ethnic 250 groups that make up this country called Nigeria. Secondly, they argue that the activities of gay people are against all religious doctrines and teachings. This in a Secular state. The third arm of their pitch-fork is that homosexuality is a neo-colonialist practice, being force fed to us by the West. They make these wonderful assertion from the comfort of their western invented iPads and smartphones, blind to the fact that homosexuality has existed in African societies before a white man ever landed in these parts.

To clear the muddy waters of this whole issue, my friend Ayo Sogunro, a lawyer and a writer whose latest book SORRY TALES has received much critical acclaim, has written the article below. He is as straight in his sexual orientation as Solomon (well, maybe without so many partners)  and has been one of those calling for reason in the face of the homophobic display of ignorance being peddled by most Nigerians, including some very notable persons in the entertainment sector.

In the article, he breaks down the law and its true (read Nigerian) interpretation. Bringing to the attention of those who are prematurely applauding the law as the best thing since the introduction of the GSM, that the ambiguity of the law puts all Nigerians at risk of witch-hunting and invasion of privacy by our dear officers of the law. Read the article below.

 

 

Congratulations, straight Nigerian, this article is for your benefit. Now that the Same-Sex Marriage Act has been signed, you can breathe easy—or so you think. Well, not so fast—and the following paragraphs will explain why.

However, as is usual in my articles of this controversial nature, I will assume you are a reasonable Nigerian (maybe one who hates homosexuality a tad—or even a whole lot—that’s fine) but not one who thinks stoning a homosexual person to death is some sort of divine injunction—or that armed robbers are preferable to lesbians. If you’re the latter type of person, don’t bother reading this article, there are more important things for you to do: like amending your new law to allow you to directly murder gays and rape lesbians and save costs on the whole jailing thing.

But for the rest of you, well meaning, straight Nigerians, here are a few things that you should get—well, straight—about the new anti-gay law. So you can keep up with me, download a copy of the Same Sex Bill here.

1. The Law Is Not About Marriage: Fine, the proper name of the law is titled “Same Sex Marriage Act” and the general rationale from the sponsors of the bill is something to the effect that “gay marriage” was a devaluation of African and religious family values and similar nice sounding ideas taken right out of the holy books—which sounds like divorce ought to be a crime too, though nobody seems to mind that. But don’t be deceived by the PR, the anti-gay law is just that: an anti-gay law. As a matter of fact, homosexual marriage has always been invalid in Nigeria since British rule—this so-called innovation is simply about punishing homosexuality. Let’s start with s.1(1) of the law: “Marriage contract or civil union entered between persons of same gender is hereby prohibited in Nigeria”. Did you notice the “civil union” part? That means, even non-marital relationships are prohibited and criminalised. And just to drive the point home—in case you’re still arguing from the “marriage” angle—the law goes on to describe “civil union” to include: “independent relationships, caring partnership, civil solidarity pacts, domestic partnerships, reciprocal beneficiary relationships, significant relationships”, and a host of other non-existent types of relationships borne out of a level of paranoia that is matched only by the political system’s level of corruption. In short, gay/lesbian relationships of any type are criminalised—whether marital or not. And this is why, before the President could even pocket his signing pen, Bauchi State had already arrested people under the fresh law. Did these people organise a marriage ceremony while the law was being signed? If that is not proof that this has nothing to do with marriage, then you tell me what is proof.

And the next time some religious person argues  for the law on the premise that marriage should be only between a man or a woman, ask the person: “Fine, but what about a reciprocal beneficial relationship?”

Whatever the hell that means.

2. The Law Doesn’t Care About Deterring Homosexuality: See, ordinarily, an activity becomes worthy of criminal status when people keep reporting to the police that it has begun to affect them negatively. And so it becomes necessary to deter that rampant activity. Crimes don’t come out of the blue—they are a result of problematic activity in a society. Well, this law is notdeterring gay marriage because gay marriage isn’t an activity in Nigeria. It’s not even deterring gay relationships because gay relationships are virtually secret in Nigeria. Secret to the point of non-existent. Instead, it is a witch-hunting law—one that punishes people whose opinions differ, even if the said opinions are not causing any problems. The law is a solution to a non-existent problem. Take, for example, s.4(1): “The registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, their sustenance, processions and meetings are hereby prohibited.” Meetings? Even armed robbers are not guilty of merely “meeting”. A meeting—and nothing more—doesn’t even hurt a fly. That’s like jailing union leaders for meeting to discuss a strike—in a democracy. Come on, they were probably meeting to discuss how not to be gay in a homophobic country! The law isn’t interested in the substance of the meeting; it is only interested in jailing the attendees.

And if anyone should be jailed for meetings that harm the country, it should be the Federal Executive Council!

3. The Law Punishes YOU, Even If You’re Definitely Straight: Take s.5(3), which is probably the most unfair punishment ever given to anybody for just being nice to another person: “Any persons or group of persons that witnesses, and aids the solemnisation of a same sex marriage contract or civil union or supports the registration of gay clubs, societies and organisations, processions or meetings in Nigeria commits an offence and liable on conviction on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.” Here’s the deal: You will go to jail for 10 years, because you were cool enough to look the other way when you saw women making out. Why? Because you supported a same-sex civil union. In short, you will get jailed for having an opinion differing from the government’s opinion. You get jailed for being a reasonable straight person. Remember the “meetings” part? You will be sentenced to 10 years in jail forsupporting a meeting. In other words: report any gay/lesbian persons and activity or go to jail with them. Don’t forget, the law isn’t limited to marriage—it affects other types of homosexual relationships.

Summary: This law also affects heterosexual relationships. Because God wants to see straight people sent to jail for refusing to be judgmental.

 4. The Law Doesn’t Safeguard You: Fine, so you’re straight through and through. And fine, you have no problem about informing on gay people in your neighbourhood—in fact, you are positively excited about this particular civic duty. But what happens when YOU are accused by someone else? See, there are no standards of proof beyond being involved in a “civil union”, a phrase whose definition means a whole lot of nonsense. Take s. 4(2): “The public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly is hereby prohibited.” “Same sex amorous relationship”. This means, kissing, hugging, hand-holding, or other forms of affectionate—amorous—contact between the same gender is now prohibited in Nigeria. If you think this is a safe risk, wait till you are arrested and then try to prove otherwise. Maybe, a judge may ultimately find you not guilty, but think of the Nigerian justice system, and you will shiver at what powers to investigate your sexual life has been handed over to the Nigerian police.

5. The Law Is Set Up To Violate Privacy: In case, you didn’t know it, here’s what s.37 of the Nigerian Constitution assures every Nigerian: “The privacy of citizens…is hereby guaranteed and protected” which is a principal reason policemen are not allowed to spy into your bedroom without a warrant. Now, instead, the anti-gay law states in s.5(2) that “Any person who…directly or indirectly make a public show of same sex amorous relationship commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.” Now, tie that law to the police powers of investigation and you will get the problem in at least 4 steps.

Step 1: the law ordinarily permits the police to investigate and arrest a personsuspected of committing an offence in Nigeria.

Step 2: It is now an offence in Nigeria to directly or indirectly display same sex affection.

Step 3: the police (or someone else) is suspicious that you are committing this offence and the police wants to investigate your sexual life—to prove you’re not gay.

Step 4: There goes your private life.

Now, repeat Steps 1 to 4. This time between a male police officer and a female suspect.

6. The Law Is Plain Weird, Even By Nigerian Standards: Just take the basics, simple definitions: the definition of “civil union” isn’t closed, and can legitimately mean two girls sharing an apartment; “amorous relationship” is not defined and so even heterosexual greetings can be maliciously interpreted as the expression of a homosexual relationship; words like “support”, “meetings” are used carelessly without defined categories and exceptions; the burden of proof is not stated; the law does not provide for categories of unintentional or “inadvertent” offenders; and worse—it is a retrospective, and even retroactive, law—a type of law strongly disapproved of by our constitution. In summary, it’s a very lazy law—the kind a mob will hurriedly put together just to legalise their murderous instincts. But, you see, you can’t amend such a law to take care of these issues—because they deal with private matters that are difficult to enforce by the public without sacrificing people in the process.

And that is why every sensible legal system understands that what goes on in a person’s underwear is not the business of the law—to the extent that person hasn’t dragged in an unwilling third party.

But Nigeria has never been noted for being sensible.

AYO SOGUNRO

Dear Onyinyechi,

When I began thinking up this letter, my head was not in the least bit clear. I know you’ll tease that Harp must have caused that, but just this once it wasn’t(perhaps the guys at Guinness need to start paying me for all my love for the Harp brand). I was sitting beside you at the only place you said you liked that night. We had done a trip of about 3 clubs looking for where to “chill” on a Friday night, but none until this one seemed to lift your dour mood.

I was somewhat concerned. I had never seen you this detached and guarded. I asked repeatedly if I had done anything to upset you, but you maintained that it was just “your regular mood”. You jest surely. Your regular mood for me is; witty, determined, engaging and not too shy to throw in that distinct laughter of yours to accentuate a conversation.

I have gone so far off course. I am writing this staring at you sleeping. It’s almost 7am, somehow you had slept off midway into putting your hair in rollers, and still in that lovely dress you wore yesterday, your head is ever so slightly on the pillow as you sweetly doze. I should take a picture. Something to record this priceless moment for all eternity, but something within me tells me there will be thousand other moments such as this to choose from.

It’s been so difficult for me these past 16 months to open my heart to beauty and the music that is borne of such a wondrous being such as you. I had sealed myself off from the world, hiding loneliness and the void behind a facade of being a workaholic. It’s been a most interesting period.

I have paused again. Watching the rhythmic rise and fall of your chest as you breathe, praying to God  to keep you till time loses all value. Your cute nose; ever so deftly placed by the grand maestro Himself like on a painting that even Michelangelo would have gaped at in awe. The lips, oh those lips that remind me of succulent grapes nurtured to perfection for the delicacy of near-gods…

I don’t know how this has happened, that one minute, I was devoid of any reason to believe that this life would be smiled upon by cupid, the other now asking myself if there was no need to make my house more comfortable for you as a woman. I make mental notes to get all the things you have requested for but I’ve not been able to provide. You see, my house has always been a house to me. There’s has been no one to share it with, so the business of turning it into a home has always been left on the back-burner. I had been successful at turning my back on love, content with accepting the crumbs of lust and transient obsessions. Anything just to feel the emptiness within. But here I feel the fullness of joy.

These are early days yet, and the fact that the journey is long and full of promise sets forth a fountain of hope in me. And as this New Year begins, I pray it grants us joy unequalled, the sort that God grants specially to those who follow His will.

Thanks for bringing sunshine and rain into this dark, deserted arid land.

Yours always,

Ese

First time I saw the chap, he was round and tiny and hairless. Cutest pink lips one could imagine, and a nose that suggested he was his mother’s son.  Eight days later they named him Oghenetega (God is worthy of worship) and so the journey began.

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I remember his baby tantrums with a smile now; seemed to me like he was going to be one determined man someday. Always wanted to have his way like all babies are wont to, but with Fisayo (his mom) being the disciplinarian that she is, he gradually learnt to make compromises.

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There is this calmness about him; for all of his hyperactivity, there is a stillness in his soul that I believe is as a result of the music of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart my sister used to play to him as a foetus and as he grew. It’s this pensive calmness that drew us to each other. That look on his face when he’s focused on something, as if he is deep in thought contemplating the pros and cons of a particular decision…. Priceless. Just priceless.

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But that is not why I love this boy ao much, our bond reach deeper into the very soul of things. 2012 was a turning point year for me; jobless, broke and at the end of the rope (or so it seemed at that time) I found strength in watching Tega laugh and smile and fool around. It was as if he felt I was going through a bad patch, and so he bonded with me. Hugged me like life depended on it, sat on me like I was a comfy couch and always so ecstatic to see me.

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I was going through hell, but in this boy I saw heaven and all its promises of hope, strength, renewal, faith and growth become real right before my eyes. I was crumbling within, but here was the sweet chap going happy go lucky with not a care in the world and smiling. After all, he’s a baby and had no care in the world. But somehow I knew better; that unspoken bond between us was such that when he looked at me, I felt he was telling me everything will be okay.

 

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And so I got off my butt and made a vow to turn my life around so I could take care of this boy. I told myself that I would do whatever it would take to make sure that I could take him out to fun spots, buy him clothes, toys, and everything. I stayed up nights praying to God to make a way for me, to help me be able to repay this angel who had been sent to walk me through the wilderness.

God answered soon as he eventually does. Things picked up little by little. In the storm I had lost one of my anchors and prized jewels, but the new dawn that was breaking looked loaded with a more bountiful harvest. I had come out of a dark tunnel to witness the beauty of a lush and fertile countryside, and more importantly it was all mine to cultivate and harvest from.

I haven’t even started making good on my promise to you Tega, but you know that uncle Ese loves you more than anything in the world. So as you celebrate your birthday today, know this for certain: the times will come when you will need me, and I will always be there for you.

Happy birthday mate!

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My love for Michael Buble is actually a recent one. I had listened to a lot of his old songs back in the days not knowing who was responsible for such deep, meaningfully refreshing and poignant lyrics. Yes words move me, and if you go ahead and snicker and mumble sissy, I’d understand. These lyrics below, to Michael Buble’s “End of May” seem to be what I would have written to express how I have until recently been feeling.  Somehow when I look back, I feel no worries,  no tears, no sad words…

I have somehow found strength in places I didn’t use to look. In God, in my work (I love my new job) and in helping others cross the bridge beyond fear to hope. I’ve watched my nephew Tega grown from a tiny baby, to a two-year old who likes FUN’s “Some Nights”, and will cry if you change the channel while a soccer match is on. In my darkest periods, his growth and the way he laughs come what may, gave me hope and helped me heal.

No I am not in denial or regret, there seems to have dawned on me a refreshing clarity of how things were and of how things needed to be. I have seen a past built on nonchalance, on complacence, on the backs of two broken spirits who needed strength to attain independence before venturing onto the crowded roads of interdependence.

In a way I feel like I just took a dive into a cold lake on a humid day, cooling the heat brought upon my neck by the scorching sun at the height of summer. I have found new strength rooted in the love of family and in the goodwill of friends (and the exposal of a few enemies), and still it all seems like I have just started on this journey of self discovery.

So each day, I wake up excited about the possibilities inherent in the new dawn, and I go about my walk much more eager to leave my mark on those I meet along the way. I have learnt that being responsible for others requires that you at first be responsible for yourself; that you take it upon yourself to stay true to the values you have set your heart on to follow.

I digress perhaps from this beautiful song, forgive me. Please download the song and thanks for reading these words….

Michael Buble – End of May

Golden haze,
Another morning feels like yesterday.
End of may..
Now you’re gone and there’s still bills to pay.
And you know it doesn’t help to make believe, you’re sitting next to me.
It doesn’t help, to make believe that you are right behind me
Saying it’s okay.

Longer days,
More time to sit and watch the pendulum sway.
In quiet rage I’m staring at this empty notebook page.
In times like these you feel like you are done with feeling,
You feel you want to stop the pain from healing
Because you feel like you’re the only one,
Who’s ever felt this way.

Some days in a daze, there’s brighter days.
Funny how the feeling never stays,
But I know I’ll have to come to terms when I’m awake,
Thinking about you is the icing on the cake.
Makes me realize the fact you’re gone for good for goodness sake.

Golden haze, another morning feels like yesterday.
End of may, a year is gone and I still feel this way,
When we meet again, I’ll ask you how you’re doing
And you’ll say fine and ask me how I’m doing

And then I’ll lie and I’ll say ordinary, It’s just an ordinary day.

It’s just an ordinary day

It’s just an ordinary day

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Edward Israel-Ayide

If we define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance, we can also understand its antonym, anticipation. 

When you work with anticipation, you will highlight the highs. You’ll double down on the things that will delight and push yourself even harder to be bold and to create your version of art. If this is going to work, might as well build something that’s going to be truly worth building.

If you work with anxiety, on the other hand, you’ll be covering the possible lost bets, you’ll be insuring against disaster and most of all, building deniability into everything you do. When you work under the cloud of anxiety, the best strategy is to play it safe, because if (when!) it fails, you’ll be blameless.

Not only is it more fun to work with anticipation, it’s often a self-fulfilling point of view.

 

Seth Godin.

Two very simple truths:

a. Don’t waste your time initiating relationships that aren’t going to thrive and benefit both sides.

b. Productive connection requires mutual trust. You can’t empathize with someone you don’t trust.

If you enter an engagement filled with wariness, alert for the scam, the inauthentic and the selfish, you’ll poison the relationship before it even starts. Those you deal with won’t be challenged to rise to your expectations of excitement and goodwill. Instead, they’ll struggle in the face of your skepticism.

Instead of seeking and amplifying the sharp edges, consider focusing on the dignity and goodwill of the people you’re working with.

Sure, there are people out there who will disappoint you. But expecting to be ripped off poisons all your interactions instead of saving you from a few dead ends.

An open mind and an open heart usually lead to precisely that in those that you are about to deal with. Perhaps we should give people a chance to live up to our trust instead of looking for the gotcha.

 

Seth Godin

@ThisIsSethsBlog

http://www.sethgodin.com

Stop making excuses and start making decisions.

This mantra has been on my mind constantly lately. I’m certain many who hear me say it find it harsh, direct, maybe even rude. I find it liberating, empowering, and cathartic. Having spent 30 years of my life as a victim, the ability to say that to myself has been a godsend. At times I still suffer from moments of excuse making however more often than not “stop making excuses and start making decisions” creeps into my mind and I am quickly moving powerfully into the decision for which I was making excuses just moments before. Powerful.

I often ask myself why it took me 30 years to stop making excuses and become an overcomer of my history. Many of us have similar deals. We have experiences in our lives which have scared us, shaken us, taken from us, broken us. You have. So have I. Yet we continue the victimization by victimizing ourselves and not allowing healing, restoration, and growth. We continue to make excuses as to why it happened, why we are worthless, unworthy, and unlovable. Maybe it was a divorce, a physical violation, a break-up, a bankruptcy, or a crushing blow. Whatever it was, until we stop making excuses and start making decisions we will not overcome. We must make the most difficult decision; to decide to become an overcomer and shed the victim cloak for good. Even the most tattered rags can feel like a gown when faced with a change. But I’m not taking about change rather transformation. Transformation into what we have always been with one great decision. Over-comers.

Shed fear; you are deserving.

Shed pain; you are strong.

Shed hate; you are deep.

Shed loathing; you are worthy.

Shed the past; you are spectacular.

Making the decision to live is one of the most difficult decisions we must make. Yet we must make it. There is an abundant life just beyond the mindset we live in as excuse makers. You deserve to live a joyful, abundant life. Now is the time.

Make the decision.

Sean Moffet

@TheSeanMoffett

http://www.themoffettcompany.com

Used with permission of Sean Moffet 2012

Music or Noise?

Yesterday, popular Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh released two singles from her maiden solo attempt to make a name in the Nigerian music industry. To say the reviews were harsh is an understatement. By evening, joke upon joke and picture memes featuring all sorts of public figures from President Goodluck Jonathan to action film cult hero Chuck Norris had filled the Nigerian social media scene. It was cruel, and I must confess that I also added my own scathing attack to this cruel mix of invectives and derision that was directed her way.

However, I woke up this morning to this Blackberry broadcast from a friend whom I respect so much Steve Harris. He is an accomplished speaker, author, leadership consultant and a life coach. His book “From College Dropout to Corporate Sellout” was published to much critical acclaim, and he continues on his quest in helping to build more effective individuals who will become change agents in their careers and personal lives. He is not someone you take his opinion lightly. This is his view:

“Yesterday, the social media space was abuzz with Tonto Dikeh’s musical debut. While her style, lyrics and vocals were widely panned to unanimous negative reviews, I learned something instrumental (no pun intended) from her.

  • BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

While I may not know her, (just heard about her yesterday) and haven’t listened to her debut, I think it takes a high level of self belief to take a chance on yourself. When last did you take a chance on you?

  • JUST DO IT

Don’t talk about it, be about it! My brother Pastor Jerry sent his broadcast this morning and said “There is only one time that is important in life; It is NOW! NOW is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power over. Have a sense of urgency over your destiny!”

Are you still saying I WILL DO IT or can you say like my fave female rapper, Eva (Alordiah), I DON DID IT!

Year don nearly end o!

  • HAVE RESULTS AND PEOPLE WILL TALK ABOUT YOU!

Nobody celebrates you for a great idea you haven’t made happen! During the last 24 hours, Tonto Dikeh has been the subject of national conversation: from BB broadcasts to mentions and TRENDING on Twitter. (And for a ‘celebrity’ (from the root word, celebrate), fame or notoriety is pretty much everything)

I wonder how many thousand times her song has been downloaded, shared, bluetoothed and broadcast.

Think about it.

Imagine if she was being paid N100 per download…hmm

Where’s YOUR SONG, YOUR BOOK? Where (is) the EVIDENCE OF YOUR LIFE?  Who’s talking about YOU?

So back to Tonto’s music, Good music? Bad music? The jury is out. You decide. The bottom line is YOU COULDN’T IGNORE HER!

And for that, she has EARNED MY RESPECT!

See you on 20.10.12*

Your Life Strategist

Steve Harris

@iamsteveharris

www.steveharris.com

*Steve’s “Mastering the Business of Your Talent” a specialized training that aims to teach you how to build wealth from your God given talent, holds this Saturday. Details are available on his website or directly from him on Twitter.

Music or Noise?

In a bid to augment a barely-existing acting career, that in my opinion leaves much to be desired, Nollywood “actress” Tonto Dike has released two singles “HI” and “ITZ OVA” from her foray into the music industry. What beats me however is how it seems easy for someone who has delivered mediocre offerings in one field to think they will make headway in another. Mediocrity like excellence is who you are.

If this is a sensational medium to promote her “Brand”, if this is an attempt to keep her in the news by presenting something shocking and garish to the public, then I’d say kudos to her and her PR/Management team. But if this by any chance is an honest, determined attempt to sneak a toe-hold in the already nauseatingly saturated Nigerian music industry, then darling Tonto, please go. Get. A. Life.

Of course I know #Poko (Whatever that repulsive #Yolo wannabe word means) adherents and fans will burn me fast, and attack me for not appreciating “One of Nigeria’s top talents”, but I’d say to you: to each his own. Go on celebrating mediocrity becomes it comes in a popular package. Some of us will demand excellence from those who hoist themselves up on the soapbox of public opinion.

On Twitter, Ayo Shonaiya, someone who has been in the industry for years and sure knows his onions, tried to impress on me that perhaps it is important that we allow her test the waters with this attempt, and come to a realization on her own if she wants to stay in the music industry. He said that perhaps “excellence will come through competition” and was of the opinion that music, like cooking or a foreign language could be learnt and perfected over time. Even without initial talent or flair for the art.

I want to believe he is right, and hope that this will not serve as a means for young people who have been pursuing excellence in their art to go “Why worry about these high standards and put so much pressure on myself? Let me just do it anyhow”.

I await the coming weeks and months as I enjoy these hilarious tweets and picture memes that are being spread all over social media, and hope personally that Tonto passes the mic to other more talented ladies and focus more on her acting and improve on that.

In the meantime, this is my review of both tracks:  Poorest display of Autotune I’ve heard in ages. A mediocre production that is lyrically reminiscent of poorly recited nursery rhymes… A mistake waiting to happen that’s finally happened.

It’s all #Poko baby!

Edward Israel-Ayide