By Morenike Taire
There is so much health to be bought, so how come we’re more unfit than ever?

A nice oldish friend had invited me to one of those pretentious online seminars they have on these social networking sites. Its topic went something like: Health is the new Wealth. Or something.

I call her up and ask her what it’s all about; afterall, the attached rider promised a dollar income in the six figures. Apparently, the seminar would teach how to sell these belts that are supposed to make you lose inches in your midsection just by wearing it. “you should get one yourself”.

“How do I know it works?”

“Well, it comes with a manual”.

I am too polite to point out that the manual of a devise might be not the smartest place to find the absolute truth about it.

What the conveners of this unlikely seminar probably meant to do was take an old, well worn cliché, rinse it out and pimp it up in order to turn it into a marketing soundbite. If this was the desired effect, it was not accomplished. Perhaps the sheer lack of originality of it was its undoing; or maybe it is the political incorrectness of actually coming out to make the health industry look as if it is doing something as blatantly sacrilegious as making money from people’s ill health or the fear of it.

In his book What the Dog Saw (it is as controversial in its arguments and conclusions as all the others by the same author), Malcolm Gladwell insists, by implication, at least, that a good number of people receiving therapy for breast cancer probably never had it. By the same logic some women who probably have it never discover that they do, even after a mammogram, and live with it for the rest of their lives without falling ill by it.

But which pharmaceutical company worth its diplomatic salt would actually come out and not pretend to be doing the entire universe a huge favour by driving the fear of ill health into it? The greenhorns.

All of a sudden, pharmaceutical is no longer pharmaceutical. It is now healthcare, a much wider industry which mixes myth, motivational speaking and pharmacology (?). Pyramid schemes abound. In one seminar, not virtual, I attended after much pressure from a lovely young neighbour one bright Saturday morning, the speaker tells the very moving story of how a fisherman in a village became a millionaire by participating in one of these pyramid schemes masquerading as a company distributing heathcare products. If you thought  that at the end of the powerful powerpoint presentation,  the hero would be introduced to his already adoring audience, you were bitterly disappointed. The whiz old man was in far away Nairobi, safely tucked away where we would never see him. He just exists to make us dream.

Suddenly, we are all conscious of our health- not conscious in the I’m-going-to-be-alright way but rather in the I’m-willing-to-buy-health way. We check our blood pressure and our blood sugar. You just never know. Once upon a time the gyms in National stadium and the big hotels were the only gyms, and they were cheap. These days there is a gym in every street corner which we pay top dollar to be members of them. We compare designer sportswear as earnestly as we compare pounds (lost, that is, to pounding the treadmill). Everyone jogs on Saturday mornings, and network while at it, then proceed to spend the whole week slouching before the computer and dying rather than take a little walk down the road to buy plantains or pick up the dailies. No one really thinks about the contradiction in it all: We are fatter, weaker and less stressed than ever. Everyone either has a blood pressure or sugar or back pain or an outsized booty.

Sorry, Sophie…

Sophie Gemal, the sultry contestant in the wildly anticipated Most Beautiful; Girl in Nigeria pageant this year was tipped to win that contest but alas the crown went to Miss Taraba . The sultry beauty drove hopes to dizzy heights again when came time for the Miss Universe pageant, for which she was to represent Nigeria in Brazil during the week. Again, she lost, to another black woman from Africa. The 22 year old however came in top ten in the costume contest, stamping us in the sands of time once more as a seriously stylish nation. Tomorrow’s another day…

The Wildest Rumour

Speaking of which, rumours have been making the rounds of model and beauty queen former Miss World Agbani Darego being engaged to ex-NDDC guy Timi Alaibe. Rumours of their romance have been filtering through, but an engagement? Seriously?


Tonto Denounces Mercy’s Friendship

Sugar sweet relative newcomer to Nollywood Tonto Dike was one of those who did not show up for the supercontroversial wedding ceremony bombshell colleague Mercy Johnson. This was in defiance of Guild of Actors boss Segun Arinze, whose efforts were merely geared towards having unity within the celeb union. When quizzed the light skinned beauty said she did not attend the wedding because Mercy was not “her friend”.“You can’t just be a friend to everybody, it’s a normal thing and Mercy Johnson is not just my friend,” she said.

“Everybody is doing well, it’s just because we are not close, and we only did about two or three movies together. We have never been close friends”. Wonder why.

Obviously, if Mercy didn’t give two about the “hubby”s marital status, why would she care about Tonto Dike?


Tuface not there to Honour Ubah

Legendary Tuface Idibia has the reputation of supporting upcoming and established acts alike  in the Nigerian entertainment industry. It was therefore a big surprise and indeed a disappointment to find him conspicuously absent at the 40th birthday bash of the new wizzkid of the downstream oil industry Chief Ifeanyi Ubah last Saturday in Lagos.

Close associates say his absence was as a result of the skiing accident he had while holidaying last month at the Turks and Caicos Island. Efe, his publicist, had announced he was recuperating and doing well in August following wild rumours of his demise after the skiing accident.

Miss Angola, Leila Lopes, is Miss Universe. She won the keenly contested battle of beauty and brains with her wits, down to earth attitude and ‘sheer determination. She is also, at 25, one of the oldest girls to clinch the coveted title.

Speaking  about her big win after the pageant, she says: “As Miss Angola I’ve already done a lot to help my people. I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV. I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs … I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.”

One of the best fits in the cabinet of the hundred day old Jonathan administration is Chief Edem Duke, tourism minister whose knowledge and achievements in the very field of tourism is beyond question.

At a media parley he said: “whether you are skilled or unskilled, you will be able to find employment directly or indirectly in tourism. Tourism is pro-poor.”.

Everyone knows tourism is the future of the economy. What no one knows is how we intend to convince foreigners- and even neighbors- that Nigeria is safe enough to visit. How does the minister plan to achieve this?

Nothing would have gone on in the United States on the 11th of this month but the tenth year commemoration of what has come to be known as the 9/11 bombings, even if the progenitor of the whole show Osama bin Laden had not been killed. But he had, and the most visible person responsible for this is American president Barack Obama. Yet, the heroes of 9/11 are, without the shadow of a doubt, New York mayor Rudy Gulliani, the people of New York and the brave uniformed persons of that state.



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