THE BLOG
04/10/2013 11:54 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Parental Advice - Nigerian Style

Maybe it's the Nigerian in me, but when it comes to my parents, any insult, intentional or otherwise, will always be met with forceful brimstone and years of grudge-holding. And yes, my father has been dead for 13 years. Nigerians are just like that.

We may share many things with Black Americans, but it doesn't extend to the 'yo mama' thing. In fact, I know many people who still nurse injuries visited upon them decades ago for forgetting that fact.

With that introduction out of the way, you can just imagine how the Daily Mail/ Ed Miliband war of words is playing out in Nigerian homes across the UK. If you don't have a friend of Nigerian background, get one quick and enjoy our unique views on unreserved parental reverence. You can thank me later.

So, what exactly did the UK's 2nd best-selling newspaper say and why is the leader of the UK's most popular party (if you believe the pools) so irate?

In the spirit of brevity, here's the condensed version:

The Daily Mail, in the wake of Ed Miliband's speech at the Labour Party conference, published an article entitled 'The Man Who Hated Britain,' in which the paper honed in on the Marxist beliefs of Ralph Miliband, Ed's father. In that piece, they contended Miliband Snr nursed anti-British sentiments which could have influenced his son and as such ".....should disturb everyone who loves this country".

As if that wasn't enough, just for added vitriolic relish, they included a picture of Miliband Snr's grave with the caption, 'Grave Socialist'.

Clearly, the Milibands were not going to have this depiction of their late father stick. Ed managed to get a 'right to reply' which in turn was cynically neutralised by the paper's re-assertion of their story in the same edition! It became clear there was no concession from the paper and the war of words ignited into a free-for-all.

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's erstwhile enforcer and sworn enemy of the paper got into the ring with impressive gusto, as he took the paper's position apart and savaged the paper's deputy editor, Jon Steafel, on Newsnight. In case you live under a rock, here's the evidence:

http://youtu.be/w-GMTxycAXY

Unsettling as that verbal execution was, one could almost say it was well deserved. Although, you couldn't help but wonder if Mr Campbell was morally positioned to do the hatchet job. His bully-boy vocals whilst accusing the paper of bully-boy tactics, wasn't exactly a golden moment.

Personally, an execution delivered by Mehdi Hassan is more my style. Low-key, incessant, witty and ultimately destructive. His BBC Question Time savaging of the Daily Mail was a class act.

But getting back to the paper's accusations. Ralph Miliband was a 17 year old who said things which underlined his conflicts at the time. He went on to serve the country and laid his life on the line. Yes, he was a confessed Marxist and yes he hoped the Britain lost the Falklands War, but I am not aware of these sentiments being crimes.

Anyone who thinks our armed forces is full of people who love everything the UK does, needs medication. Furthermore, anyone who reads the article and genuinely comes to the conclusion that Miliband Snr did indeed hate Britain....well, they need the whole medicine cabinet.

Yes, ironically, Ed Miliband would want a 17 year old to get the vote, so I guess there will be those like myself asking why we should then disregard the views of someone that age. But at the same time, I am prepared to wager there are civilians and members of the armed forces (of all ages) who have said worse things. And I am doubly sure they still continue to root and fight for this country.

Civilians and Soldiers alike are not robots, consequently, they sometimes feel frustrated, but it doesn't diminish their patriotism.

Interestingly, as the row went into overdrive, The Telegraph newspaper, in a subtle rebuke to their 'noisy cousin' reprinted their 1994 obituary of Professor Ralph Miliband, in which they described him as a balanced socialist, leading many on social media to praise the right-wing paper, whilst continuing to pummel the Daily Mail.

The Telegraph's move was delivered with so much class, it reminded me of how the Tories deliver the same messages UKIP struggle to impart into the national psyche and in the process, manage to steal some borderline supporters.

In any case, in the preparation for this post, I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to eat some Nigerian food. Perhaps my writing about Nigeria had made me nostalgic and only a meal of pounded yam and egusi stew could douse the flames. I contemplated on the best venue.

Whilst deliberating, I received a call from my Sarah, my English friend who loved all things politics and even more so, foreign food. She had pestered me earlier in the year about wanting to try Nigerian cuisine. I decided to invite her to the 805 restaurant in London. It was going to be the blogger's holy grail: food, chat and booze.

Once at the venue, I quickly brought her up to speed on my project and how I came to the restaurant for inspiration. As we chin-wagged and waited for our food, a long-lost older friend walked towards (without invitation) our table.

I quickly warned my friend this could be my opportunity to get that unique aforementioned Nigerian view. She swore herself to complete silence. Secretly, I was elated the older friend clearly wasn't capable of same.

He had gleamed my folded newspaper and went into full throttle.

"Can you imagine the disrespect? The man is dead and not here to defend himself."

"Margaret Thatcher is not here, but she got torn to shreds by some Labour people and Ed Miliband did not exactly slam them," I replied feebly.

"Is Thatcher the mother of the Daily Mail?"

"In a way, yes you can say that. She was someone they will claim they hold as dear as the Milibands' hold their father."

"What? Do you think you are white? Sometimes I think you have lived in this country too long! How can you say something that silly?"

I reassuringly nudged my friend under the table and prayed there would no further mention of race. Still, I had to continue with the conversation.

"This is what some Tories are saying. I'm just repeating...."

"Would the Tories have been happy if a newspaper came after Cameron's father? Please don't say anymore. I need to get a bottle of Guinness to erase the memory of your last statement."

I sighed heavily as I ordered his drink. It was my weak attempt at placation. Although, as he gulped down the contents of his glass, it became obvious it hadn't worked.

"What were the parents of the newspaper people doing when Ralph Miliband went to war for this country?"

"They were probably at war too, although I heard the editor's father, Peter Dacre, may have not gone as he was a journalist in London."

"A journalist? Jesus Christ of Nazareth! So he is questioning what someone else's father did, but his father avoided fighting for the country. You see where we are going wrong in this country?"

"But the editor is not contesting for the country's most powerful job?"

"Really? But he already has a very powerful job. Mark my words, I have lived in this country for a long time and it is my prediction the Daily Mail will apologise. Imagine this was back home, the editor will be in serious pain by now."

At that point, just to ensure my friend wasn't confused and had heard him correctly, I decided to drill further.

"You mean if I wrote same article about your father, you will come and hurt me?"

His answer came in form of a glaring stare. His erstwhile joviality was now a distant thing.

I could feel the sweat trickling down in my hidden places. Worse still, I could see my friend's increasing discomfort. I couldn't say for sure if it was the spice in the egusi stew or the intimidating stare. Either way, she had gone completely red in the face.

Either way, it was a relief when he lowered his stare and finished the contents of his drink.

"Thanks for the Guinness," he said menacingly as he left the table.

(This article is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend, Deji Falae, who lost his life in the October 3 Lagos air crash. May his gentle, witty soul rest in peace.)