Have you ever gotten lost before? Whether driving, walking, boating or flying, have you ever just stopped and thought, “hang on, I’m lost, I don’t know where I am?”

I know I have! I’ve blogged about wandering off as a three-year old so you can imagine I started doing this early, lol. J Most recently I dropped a friend off after a night out and in the midst of navigating my way out of her zones, I realized I’d been driving for at least 22 minutes.

Now, I was going to ring her to say the inevitable had happened (because she’d teased that I’d lose my way), then I remembered we’d lambasted the electricity companies because there wasn’t any power when we got to hers and her phone was dead.

So I said a prayer, focused on remembering how I got to where I was, and then I retraced my steps. 20 minutes later, I was home safe. Read all of that as God took over, and led me home.

What if I didn’t find my way though, in that dead of night? What if it wasn’t in town or anywhere in civilization but in some desert, the woods, a thick overflowing forest, you know, all those things Hollywood movies are made of?

To be honest, these were the thoughts that crossed my mind when Alexandra from ManCrates got in touch to ask what I’d fit in a potential survival kit. For the purpose of this article, I’m allowed 4 items, a 5th because I am a good person :) . Also, all the items are important to me, so don’t laugh!

  1. A duffel bag that would never empty of my favorite foods and drinks. Don’t even laugh (remember my warning) – how am I supposed to live without food and drink? How am I supposed to tell this story if I die of starvation? Very important biko.
  2. My Bible. Not because it sounds like a must-have, or because it formed one of the three items Agbani Darego, Nigeria’s only Miss World said she’d have in her survival pack. The Bible is ageless, timeless, and a source of great comfort and reassurance. Besides, who else to maintain direct contact with than God? Definitely on my list.
  3. My Moleskine. Wherever I go, I see/find a story. Truth be told, if everything I wrote in my jotters could automatically appear on my blogs, you would either spend your lives on my blog trying to catch up on pieces or you’d run away! How much more when there’s a proper, proper story of my surviving (whatever) to be told?
  4. My fleece. I call it my ‘comfort cloth’; it is dark blue, wraps around me nicely and is light enough not to be heavy yet keeps me warm when I need it to. And incredibly, regardless of how many times I wash it, I can always (somehow) sniff my nephew and my late Aunty Pat on it. My everlasting reminder of everyone I love dearly.
  5. An Internet-ready smartphone. Take pictures, make a video or two, play a few games maybe (particularly in love with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and The Weakest Link), and most importantly, call/tweet for help! Am I supposed to stay lost forever?

What would you have in yours? What four things can you not do without?

The bible says, “take heed what you hear”; ever come across that before? I know I have.

Based on the three stories I’m going to share below though, perhaps for both males and females, we can/ should introduce “take heed, who you marry”.

Before then, am I married myself? No; matter of fact I’m single (so we can get that out of the way early).

Ready to share 3 stories with me? Without messing the facts up, I’ll try to protect the identities of all three couples (Or ex-couples)

  • Boy meets girl who is in her late 20’s and under a bit of pressure by her married siblings and of course her folks. Therefore, she ‘allows’ a lot if things and her family foots the bill minus (N15, 000/ $90) that the guy contributes to the entire preparations. Less than a year later, he’s moved out of her house (where she pays rent) because amongst other things she’s not ‘submissive’, and her family has returned the dowry they collected. The End.
  • Boy meets high-flyer type chic, get married, have a beautiful daughter. Husband invests the Mrs.’ money (huge sums) in a string of failed deals/leads. Of course they start to have problems, wife starts to suffer emotionally and at the peak of their trouble (when he stops her from seeing their daughter for a period of time) she develops high blood pressure, and is said to be acting ‘weird’. At the time I wrote this, she’d been buried less than 10days ago
  • Boy meets girl and everyone thinks they’re a gorgeous couple except the ones who knew the inner workings of the relationship. She hits him, continuously, ridiculing him sometimes in the presence of his friends; did I mention they were engaged to be married? Man snapped one day and called it off. Now she says he ‘used’ her, and has wasted her time.

Three stories done. Might seem like it’s all doom and gloom ladies and gentlemen, but I promise you it’s not. For each of those tragic stories, I promise you there are ten, hundreds and thousands of success stories around. Even better, you have friends and family with super successful marriages, so you’ll agree it’s not a myth.

I stumbled across a blog today (dunno how I didn’t hear about them before)- Naijahusband.com where a man and his wife (Naijawife) chronicle the ups and downs, happy and not so happy times in their marriage. Not a hundred percent sure it’s a real life or brilliant scripting but you should have a look. Really interesting stuff there!

Also, I read somewhere once that marrying the wrong person is not only hell on earth, but will lead you to hell because of the amount of mistakes/missteps you will make.

Ladies (especially), no pressure at all. Don’t let anyone put you under pressure, and don’t do it to yourself too (I know about self-inspired pressure don’t worry). When he comes, he will come. There’ll be no shadow of doubt.

Guys too, no pressure, whether from family/peers or self-imposed. When you meet the ‘her’ that God designed for you, trust me you’ll know.

Who best to confirm your choice than The One who created you two? Get on your knees ladies and gentlemen, and ask Him to bring them to you! And He will!

While you wait, improve yourself, strengthen /solidify your relationship with your God (who is your first love ANYWAY), and have fun!

PS – Written on the 12th of July.

 

 

 

 

I’m a part of what you might call the generation of today, a part of the 68% of the 170 million Nigerians that is ‘young’. Not the ’60-year-old’ ‘yoot’ status political party members ascribe to themselves, the true demographic.

And I am different. I neither corrupt nor thieving, I do not appropriate the allocations or benefits of others to myself under any guise. I am a hardworking entrepreneur on the one hand, and an employee on the other. Why? Apart from the fact that I love to do both, and there are more than enough brain cells to allocate to both ventures, if I don’t hustle in the days of my youth, when will I?

There are millions of others like me, braving one unfavorable circumstance or the other to stay in their jobs or keep their businesses above water. Some of them have moved from being employees to employers themselves, others (just for the love of it) have founded social enterprises and devote the 24 hours they have each day to making sure that the next man has a better quality of life. All of this independent of government.

When ‘dependent’ on government, there are loads more who will not touch bribes, muddle figures, or taint themselves for a quick buck. They prefer to receive their wages with joy (or murmuring), and either find a way to augment it, or adjust their lifestyle to fit their budget.

People say of Nigerians that we are the happiest people on earth, regardless of fuel scarcity, epileptic (or non-existent) power supply, deplorable schools and Boko Haram (amongst others). We have also been described as the most hardworking and resilient. I believe all of that because I know how hard I work, and I have peers who make the hours I work look like child’s play.

I have a ‘Mama Put’ I patronize every time I’m in Abuja, I could swear by her meals! I was there recently, and my favorite, beans and plantain, was lukewarm, and I’d gotten used to piping hot food from there. Even worse, I bit on a stone!

Did I complain? Of course I did. Did I stop going there because of one incident? No. Why? Because one bad experience cannot be enough to cancel out all the brilliant meals I’ve had there. Same way you don’t bin a crate of eggs because you cracked open a rotten one. No, you try again.

It would be foolhardy to paint every Nigerian you meet with whatever evil brush you inadvertently acquired via the news, a local or foreign blog, or even worse, off hearsay. If you were wont to do that before, we forgive you.

Nigerian youth have excelled in spite of a glaring lack of good role models to follow. Where are they? From Babangida, to Abacha, Shonekan to Obasanjo, down to what we’ve got now, where is the inspiration? Just how much inspiration do all these great men muster between them? So precious little.

Yet we have thrived, soldiered on bravely in a landscape barren of support. We’re asking questions, championing causes, holding this government to account, and most important, we’re providing solutions.

I might not be able to say this about the others, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that this generation, my generation is different.

PS – Written in May, after a discussion with @bubusn. Edited after a conversation with @eyooekpo.

 

 

 

I decided to go visit my folks in Asaba (especially my dear Momma who I haven’t seen in 11 months) and so I packed a bag (or box, since my Royal Majesty doesn’t know how to travel light), and off to the airport I went.

By the way, Abuja folks, there is this new taxi service at the airport called ‘Viko’. If you take them to or from the airport, your next trip is free. All you need to do is text them your desired pick up location, time, and contact details 24 hours before your next flight and someone will come for you. And on time too! I used them so I can tell.

So I got to the airport, and funnily that’s where I met Emem who I’d tried to meet up with the night before. We had a quick discussion/meeting before her flight was called and she pushed off.

I went into the Biobak in the departure lounge and bought a pie and donkwa (Northern snack made of groundnuts and peppery spices). My flight was called, and I went to board. Waiting for my boarding pass to be checked, some lady came and stood before me on the queue. Of course I didn’t stand for it but it made me smile. What was she thinking? I tweeted…

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Then I went to board, and because I have the habit of leaving this particular handbag open the person to do the body scan saw my small bottle of water and said I had to drop it. I tried to explain that I needed my water and wasn’t a law against water on the plane but you know how we Nigerians get when we only have an instruction in our heads; no room for discretion – we just keep repeating the instruction over and over again. By the time she she’d said, “ madam you cannot take the water on board – it is not allowed” the 4th time, I left the water with her. Yes I was fuming. Ok, only maybe just a little bit.

Got to the door of the aircraft and I met two members of the cabin crew and a/the pilot. I turned to the one smiling (a guy) and asked how much water I was allowed, and he said one. I was thinking of the miniature bottles they offer and so I asked if I could get a second one because I’d been asked to drop mine and I’d been feeling pretty dehydrated all day so I was a little upset.

Pilot (who I wasn’t talking to) said, “you are not allowed to take liquids on a plane anywhere in the world”. Fallacy. So many things wrong with that statement (including the fact that I wasn’t speaking to him in the first place) so I said, “it’s not true”. Then he goes, “ don’t teach me my job”. Ticked me off so I very quickly said, “don’t have any plans to teach you your job. More importantly, I wasn’t speaking to you so if you’re not the one who will serve refreshments later please let me conclude this conversation”. Turned back to the guy, confirmed I would get an extra bottle, and then I went to my seat (after warding off some politician who had said hello earlier and now wanted to hold my hand). Why? Cos I’m blind or unable to lead myself to my seat? Arrghh!! Tweeted…

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Of course there had to be someone on my seat (because it doesn’t rain but pour). While I tried to gather my composure enough to say so, another hostess came to say it was free seating. I thanked her, and moved to the next row that had a window seat only for the lady sat on the aisle seat to roll her eyes at me when I asked her to let me get in. Made a big show of standing up for me to get through but I was too exhausted (physically and mentally) to even bother. No energy.

I sat down, took a few deep breaths and smiled. Then I brought out what I’m reading at the moment, “The Social Media President”, brought out my donkwa too. Next few tweets capture what happened next.

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Beggi beggi, after rolling her eyes at me. Took all of me not to chuckle.

Got to Asaba ok, and ran into the loving arms of my Momma (after helping some lady trying to coordinate her infant, handbag, and a small box), and as soon as we started gisting on the drive home, everything else (pilot, beggi beggi, lady at the foot of the aircraft) paled. Felt super to be home!

xx

PS – I got my water. Two bottles.

PSS – Liquids are allowed on planes, depends on airport, quantity, where you got the liquid (naturally Duty Free Area works rather than before you cross security). I wasn’t just channeling drama. At MM2 in Lagos, normally depending on who it is, they’ll ask you to take a sip of it and then it can go through. Lord knows what (all over the world this ‘international pilot’ was referring to).

PSSS – this post was written on the 10th of July. :)

PSSSS – Flew from Abuja to Lagos a few days ago. Flight was hella smooth! Let’s not forget the smooth, soothing voice of the pilot *wink* …Slept right through it, and of course, I tweeted… And learned his surname is actually Norton.

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*wink*

Henry is deep. So deep. I don’t know what else to say. He’s been my friend for like 4, 5 years, and he’s just deep! Does he annoy me? Of course! You need to see us arguing debating stuff on Twitter. But there’s always something to be learned, and what’s a relationship if there’s no growth?

This is one piece in the entire series that resonated so much with me, it made me emotional.

The carnage caused by terrorism so far in 2014 is unprecedented. The insurgents have become even more brazen. They have made it look as if there is nothing security forces will try that will work. It has been harrowing.

While I walked to church this morning, with roads across and adjourning the church premises cordoned off with armed, anxious looking soldiers and policemen standing on guard at the entrances and at strategic positions, my mind did a very quick time travel to what life was about 5 years ago.

Sunday mornings were days of bliss, with everyone out dressed in gay attires, with smiles and expectation of a miracle from their God. There was no need for soldiers to be around, except maybe they came for Armed Forces Remembrance day thanksgiving. Police was around, in very few places, just to maintain law and order. Barricades in front of a church would have been seen as strange. There was peace then, relative peace. A kind of peace we took for granted and would do anything to have now.

We are at war.

The other day after the EMAB bomb blast at the end of June, I came across footage of what actually went down that fateful afternoon. The first thing that caught my eye on the video was a hand, lying lonely on the sidewalk, blown away from the wrist. I saw a girl, a “pure water” hawker. She couldn’t have been anything more than 15 years old. She was dead. Burnt with only her hair remaining. She died face down with her legs blown off. I also saw a man, badly burnt. So badly burnt all you could see was the blackened form of what used to be his body. Both of his legs had been blown off. He laid still. By the time the camera panned back to him, he was moving. He opened his eyes, tried to get up, he couldn’t. He looked down at his legs and collapsed again. He wasn’t dead, but I doubted if he knew where he was. I saw a lot of things I would rather not continue describing.

5 years ago, these kinds of things were alien. People don’t just get blown up by a car that a well dressed man parked in front of a shopping mall and walked away.

2014 has been gruesome.

A guy I used to do some work with, Emmanuel is still in hospital recuperating. He was a victim of the Nyanya bomb blast. He had only just got married 2 weeks earlier. We don’t know if he is ever going to walk again. He is only one of the lucky who are alive to tell their story from the two blasts that rocked Nyanya Motor Park.

The first half of 2014 made it evident that we can’t take peace and life for granted anymore. Every day we are told to avoid crowded places like markets, places of entertainment, places of worship, motor parks and bus stops. Places we didn’t need to think twice before going to in the past.

It is sobering that our lives now have to be remodeled so that we can at least have a chance to remain alive. We don’t know where the next bomb will go off. We don’t know what next the terrorists are planning, we don’t know if all of a sudden a bullet will whizz over our heads and hit the unfortunate man in front of us. We don’t even know if that unfortunate man will be us or our family member.

My name is Henry Okelue, Nigerian and a Public Servant; I miss the peace I used to know. I miss it so, so dearly.

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I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I’d been in that service the day before where the pastor talked about losing his wife of 41 years to cancer, and I felt so sorry for him, I’m sure I was tearing up. To be honest, I was thinking about a relationship I was in at the time, and while not expecting either of us to pass on to cancer, was wondering what we’d say of each other in 30, 40, 50 years.

I remember I refused to think about the purpose God had even in his wife’s passing – I didn’t even want to hear of it. I remember my mind drifting to the letter I’d written my Aunty Pat, seeing as I’d been unable to speak to her in about a week. I’d written it in both pidgin and in plain English, and pretty much done a roundup of gist on everyone we knew… Aunty loved tatafo, the good kind.

I got home, had lunch, day went on pretty normally, but then I couldn’t sleep. Anyone who knows me knows I have the worst sleeping patterns every side of the universe but the night leading into the 22nd was different. I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t figure out why. Didn’t quite have pending work, I wasn’t upset, or hungry; I just couldn’t sleep. I tried, but I was bored with the movies I tried to watch.

About 5am I got a text. “The doctor said she’s gone”. Didn’t register, and I didn’t have the number stored, so I rang. And then I screamed. And then…

Apparently she’d passed on @ 6.55pm, exactly one year today.

I remember collapsing in Olamide’s arms when he got off the train at our stop, remember him? The one you’d call ‘ajebo’ because you couldn’t get over a grown man having a water bottle!

I remember begging God to bring you back, I remember promising to be a better person, anything. I remember asking my dad one month after at your funeral if you could still wake up. I promise I wouldn’t have been scared, I would have hugged you!

I miss your hugs aunty, you always had one for me. You always had one for everyone.

I could talk with you about A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G, anything on the face of this earth. you were the perfect mix – heaven bound yet earthly aware; super ‘churchy’ but in touch with the earth and the inhabitants thereof.

Aunty also had a laugh (with her tooth missing on the side), she always had a word of encouragement, a prayer, and she never delayed to put resources in things she believed in. So if you met her (and this could be random people), she’d talk, pray with you, then deploy money towards solving whatever the issue was.

And she was so discerning! She could tell just by looking at my friends which of them would screw me, and 11 times out of 10, she was right. I remember Skyping with ‘a potential’ one night and she was watching tv close by. She said, “I have no faith in that person, his voice doesn’t sound right”. That relationship never took off, lol.

I miss you aunty, this past year has been incredible. Everyone has grown! The kids, the adults, true natures have risen to the surface, there have been births, progress in different areas, and some places have been just a bit dodgy. Everyone misses you though, that’s one constant in all of this. The number of times I’ve heard ‘why did she die’, ‘if to say Pat no die’ (and other variants), I’d be a millionaire if I was stacking coins each time.

I’ve missed you everyday since you passed – God I miss you. I feel alone sometimes aunty, wish I could borrow you from the angels just to play catch up a few hours each month. I will never understand why you left aged 41, I’m done trying to understand it.

I miss you. I love you, forever.

 

When I put out the call for writers, Abimbola said she was up for it, and promptly sent in an entry. For some reason, I didn’t find it, and so I emailed two weeks after asking if she was still interested. Right after I sent it I found her piece, and I apologised (truth is I’d had a really dodgy day), and somehow we exchanged emails that told me her piece would be perfect for today. Today, the 21st of July, 2014.

Thank you dear for writing in, and for taking the time to email back and forth the other day. You don’t know what it did for me. Hugs!

When I started writing this, the rains had just emptied out in a ferocious, torrential display of annoyance. Another Nigerian had just died; my aunt and the downpour reflected all that no words could say yet. Getting the email from Chioma around this time I could only think “what the heck, not like I’ve got any business to promote?” and the still small voice reminded me “what about the message burning in your heart?”

I am Onaoluwa Abimbola, 100% Nigerian and Health Care-for-all Advocate.

Despite the disparities or perhaps because of it, disease and death is definitely a leveler. Everyone dies and diseases do not discriminate these days. Previously labelled “big-man’s” diseases are now rampant in the general population no thanks to GMO foods (if you believe that propaganda anyway).

This first half of the year has been an extended period lesson on the importance of appropriate health care access for all regardless of class or personal station. Watching mothers cry on two occasions now and lament the wickedness of the “doctors” who kept on treating malaria for two weeks without benefit of a monitoring electrolytes screen till a patient crossed over into renal failure; I felt the weight of the system failure. Perhaps with regular laboratory workups on hospital visits (which incidentally was one of the conclusions of my project thesis at UNN), Mama Wale would still be with us. At the time her doctors ordered an Electrolytes /Urea/Creatinine test, her blood urea levels had already hit the roof and she was referred to another hospital for every other day dialysis. Referral Thursday evening, dead Saturday morning! She had shown no physical signs of kidney disease, no edema of limbs, no swollen belly; even in death, she had remained her ultra-slim beautiful self.

Still I am grateful to God, who always loves us, providing the right help at the exact time of need; a smile, a word - ‘hello’, a text message, sometimes comments by complete strangers on social media and a life is renewed. We die daily and that which reawakens in us the urge to keep fighting is aided by the love we get from wonderful family and friends; found even in unexpected places. That has been my testimony from late last year… an unexpected hospital admission far away from home, mismanaged Malaria and the sequelae of drug side effects that followed inspired a post on HAID Initiative’s blog.

What’s left of 2014 and beyond? I look forward to a Nigeria where force no longer wins rights, where violence and anarchy are not the ready tool for making demands.  As a corollary to that, a beautiful dream of mine is of a Nigerian health sector where the key players recognise that a team made of only a lead horse tied to several others behind is more prone to accidents: a united team of horses in their majestic beauty does the job and excellently too. When Presidents, Ministers are able to trust our hospitals again, the man on the street will no longer feel that where healthcare is concerned ‘OYO’ is the buzzword. Perhaps, even our beloved Dora would be here, as regular checks in the land where she lived and worked would have meant an earlier detection. A first sign that this dream will become possible for Nigeria, would be the suspension of all strikes in the public Health Sector henceforth and hopefully a renewed willingness by all involved in the business of healthcare provision in Nigeria to bury the hatchet and begin to chart a new course - forward.

I remain unapologetically Nigerian and the task of ensuring Nigeria trumps all her teething problems is our collective responsibility.

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Kindred spirit!

Olamide is one of those friends that I cannot do without. Does he drive me up the wall? Absolutely. Is he one of the closest friends I have on earth today who I can go to with anything and not feel judged or looked down on? Absolutely. Is he one to uphold his friends in prayer, with words of encouragement, with love, and with physical manifestations of that love? Yes Sir!

I love Olamide (lots and lots), and can I say congratulations on your engagement? She’s a gorgeous lady (in and out), and I wish you both all the joy possible.

I give you @RevDrCraig!

A few days ago I got a surprise call from a friend from school I hadn’t seen in many, many years. That call birthed this piece you now read.

This week I met up with that old acquaintance, a lady whose exceptional beauty back in high school made all the boys go gaga.  She was vacationing in the capital and wanted to know if I could show her around. After picking her up at Euston station, we went to Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Madame Tussauds, Westfield Mall, and goofed around like tourists taking pictures of everything and anything that caught our fancy. As we caught up on the 15 years that had gone by, I couldn’t help but wonder where the ‘wow’ factor went. She was still quite good to look at, but the exquisite beauty she once had seemed to have faded away, or at least paled into a less blinding glare. For the first time since I’d known her, I actually saw who she was, talked to her, wasn’t carried away by her looks, and realized that there was more to her than was so obviously apparent. I wondered how many people, like me, had missed out on seeing a wonderful person simply because all we saw was ‘a fine face and a hot body’.

I really enjoyed spending the day with her and as I walked away from the platform at Euston, I pondered at the absurdity of our generation that ubiquitously employs beauty as the foremost yardstick in the selection of a potential mate. This absurdity was first made apparent to me when, after I announced my engagement a few months ago, an associate of mine clapped me jocularly on the back exclaiming, “You’ve done it bro! Congratulations! You have finally found a woman finer than you who has agreed to marry you”. You see, I met my fiancé last year, just when I was coming out of an extended period of deep self-reflection following a string of very bad decisions. For months, I had been acting out of character and ironically chasing after beauty, weaving in and out of fragile relationships with some of the most beautiful women I had ever met; tall, short, curvy, straight, dark and fair. It took falling in love with this one to make it clear to me that the true worth of a woman is vested, not in the beauty of her face, or the curves on her body, but in the depth of her soul.

When pictures of my fiancé and I emerged, the most frequent comments were those praising her beauty and what a beautiful couple we made. One friend asked jokingly, “Did you conduct a beauty pageant and then propose to the winner?” LOL! Sure, most of these comments were made in good faith and were not in the least bit intended to offend nor did it mean that those who made them were shallow or anything of that sort. They were merely commenting on what they saw weren’t they, admiring a beautiful couple that were sure to have a beautiful marriage? Maybe it was all harmless banter, simple admiration, and unveiled praise.

Unfortunately, the reverse might also be the case. I know this because I too was once stuck in that place where deep in my heart I held to a primitive notion that the more beautiful a couple are, the more likely it was that their marriage would succeed. Perhaps the Disney fairy tales of beautiful princesses and handsome princes that ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after had fatally tainted my view of reality?  I know for certain, that a handful of those reading this now also share this view I once held, for it seems to me that the Ovation wedding culture of the past, once the preserve of the super rich has trickled down and has become the BellaNaija wedding culture of today. It is no secret, however, that some of the most celebrated high-profile weddings of the most gorgeous couples do not even last a year!

So to answer Chioma’s question; “What have I learned?”

I have learnt again something that I should never have forgotten. It took talking to a woman whose beauty once mesmerised me to remind me of a truth I used to know; Indeed, Beauty fades but character is enduring.

To all the beautiful girls out there who have character but are only sought after for their looks, I apologize on behalf of all men. But remember, if that’s all you put on the table, then perhaps that’s all we are inclined to see.

My name is Olamide Craig. I am Nigerian.

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Aunty, do you remember when we signed up at the gym in Bolingo Hotels for a year?

Lol.

It was good fun! I remember heading there early in the mornings, and then stopping at a random ‘Mama Put’ on the way back to buy rice and beans with all sorts of meat. Whether we cancelled out all the hard work at the gym or not, we didn’t care!

Ha ha ha… You this my crazy, super incredible aunty. I miss you to pieces! What didn’t we do together?

I remember you coming into my room (or your room – cos it was yours) without knocking, and when I screamed, ‘I’m dressing up’, you left, knocked, came in, and then said, “as if wetin you carry reach even half of my own”. Lol…

I’ve got stories for days aunty… You made sure of that.

You taught me that hired help can become family – who else keeps a driver and a nanny for 12 years? Everyone was welcome, everyone felt at home.

Remember that time when it seemed like all of us in the house were falling ill? You called for family prayers that evening, including the Muslim nanny. When she protested, you said, “abeg come let us pray jor, as if you’re not just recovering too. You no go come make we beg God?” Lol.

Incredible woman.

I miss you. I love you. Lots and lots.

When I saw the title for her piece, I must confess I was a little puzzled. ‘Do it afraid’ ke? Especially for people like me who underneath a strong exterior are ‘soft and fuzzy’ on the inside. Lol. 

But then I read the article, and I went, ‘Yes Sir’ (which is what I say when I’m super impressed with anything)! And this is special, because it resonates like she read my mind!

I met Jola in October last year, in Djeregbe, which is a town in Benin Republic. Feel free to catch up on that series here, I called it #TalesfromDjeregbe. Jola is gorgeous, a hard worker, and there’s something about people who ‘mix’ professions  that is really inspiring. She’s a lawyer, photographer, and a writer!

Enjoy this really deep piece ladies and gentlemen, you’ll be glad you stopped by today!

 

The trick is to do it afraid…

The most important thing I’ve learnt this year is to do it afraid. My name is ‘Jola Sotubo and I am a writer, a photographer, a lawyer and a Nigerian.

I’m no stranger to fear and I’ve come to realize that, hate it though we may, fear could be one of the greatest things that could happen to a living thing.

I recently made a very big change in my life, the kind of change that could either raise you up to success or leave you down and out. The kind of change that everyone around you says is a crazy idea and tries to talk you out of.

I’ve made a form of reputation out of doing things afraid; I went to law school and decided afterwards that I was not going to practice law like my proud family members expected. Instead I bought myself a DSLR camera to explore my love for photography and then I took up a writing job. Was I certain I was on the right path? No. I was afraid, as I almost always am.

Fear can be either good or bad, depending on how you react to it and what you let it do to you. You can either use it as your springing step or let it paralyze you. If your dreams do not strike fear in your heart, then they are not big enough.

This is why I wake up afraid and I go to bed afraid, not shivering or shrinking up like a wilted lily but rather filled with adrenalin knowing that I can either fight or flee but I have chosen to fight. I fight for my place at the top and the great destiny that awaits me and for this, I must stay afraid lest I become complacent and accept what the world believes is my due.

I am grateful for life and the privilege to wake up with a purpose and with zeal to do the things that I love and live the life that I deserve.

And as for the rest of this year, I have no worries, for I intend to seize every bull by its horns and face every challenge head on, albeit with fear in my heart but it shall be my strength and not my weakness.

Have a great rest of the year loves and stay afraid…

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