Posts Tagged ‘Abuja’

So, if you didn’t know already, I am in Nigeria! Good news! Wondering how you will wrap your head around a social media campaign for your cause, idea or business? Holla! Email chioma(at)chiomachuka(dot)com, or tweet @chiomachuka.

You’re welcome to book a social media consultation,  and I’ve got great rates per the hour. Get in touch already!

 

Now, let’s get on to the flights and the chronicle for the day. One of the first things on my plate soon as I came in was a trip to Lagos, and that happened on Monday. When I was booking the tickets, I told myself I wanted to use an airline I had never used before, and somehow I ended up with Medview.

Cost? N19000, probably that high maybe because I booked it on the day; Aero was 19k too). Arik was about 24k for a single, and since I’m not minting money in my room, I decided on Medview.

Flight time was supposed to be 4.30pm but we started boarding at that time, meaning that we took off about 5pm.

Got into Lagos ok, we thank the Lord for safe travels. Lagos was great, working out of Red Media’s offices, planning big things, meeting people I’d known only on social media, I really had a good time!

All good things have an end though, and Wednesday evening was the time appointed for me to return to Abuja. Thanks to all the warnings about traffic, I set off for the airport about 3.30pm (for a 6.45pm flight). Got there about 5.30pm (hallelujah that I heeded the warnings), and I started reading, passing time.

At 6.45pm the first delay (for 25 minutes) was announced and I started berating myself (again) for picking a flight that late. A further 20 minutes delay was announced about 7.25pm. I quietly started making arrangements to spend another night.

Just before 8pm we were called to board, and there was a bit of drama when one passenger threatened to beat up one of the airline officials. Apparently the customer was lamenting the delays and the staff said something like, “am I the pilot?” Of course sentences like ‘do you know who I am’, ‘I can pay your salary’ etc., featured in the argument. Reminded me of a very despicable person I’ve had the misfortune of knowing and I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes.

We boarded and the pre-flight announcements began. Oh wait, not before some lady convinced herself she was going to have my seat, even though my seat was clearly marked ‘window’, and hers was marked ‘aisle’. Of course it didn’t happen. SMH.

The pilot came on and apologized for the delay, citing horrible weather in Abuja. Even though I’d seen tweets telling of the really shitty weather, I still rolled my eyes, and was going to keep rolling them when it hit me that the pilot was singing!

Oh my word! He was actually singing! Something along the lines of, ‘thank you for flying Aero Contractors today, you’re the reason we’re in business, we’re sorry for the delay, may God bless you, la la la la’. It was so cute! I was so amused! And he used the tune of a popular song (can’t remember which) but by the time he was done, we were all laughing and clapping, all the anger forgotten.

Concert done (lol), he mentioned there would be some turbulence as we approached Abuja but it was nothing to worry about, and then said to enjoy the flight.

As I am wont to do, I dozed. Was woken up by the hostess to take my snack pack, and I didn’t wake up again till we touched down. Either there wasn’t any turbulence, the pilots did a good job of maneuvering, or I was just too tired to wake up and notice. Of course God was in charge of the flight (let’s just get that straight).

It’s the first time I’d flown Medview ever, and the first time in a while I flew Aero, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the Aero flight. Shame I didn’t catch the pilot’s name; I would have asked for an autograph. Or even better, a selfie.

*Written on Wednesday the 9th of April

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It’s been a while I had an entrepreneur on the blog, and so when I sent @IamuzayAp a message on Instagram and he graciously said he’d give me a few minutes, I was thrilled!

Yusuf Abubakar (Mr Tumi) is a computer engineer, designer, stylist, personal shopper, and a serial entrepreneur. He is a watch ambassador at Ritmo Mundo, and you can find a bit more about him here.

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Ready? Let’s do it!

FGS: First off, thanks for taking the time to chat, and at such short notice! I was going to make the meet and greet you had in London, say hello personally, but I was reminded last-minute of another engagement and there was no way I could merge the two.

Yusuf: The pleasure is mine, we had the event on a short notice so I wouldn’t fault you on that ha, but your keen interest is much appreciated.

FGS: Welcome to the 3, 2, 1 series! Let’s start with your Skype profile message which says, “when I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single talent left….” What does that quote mean to you?

Yusuf: it basically means using all the talents we have on earth to the best of our ability based on the fact that when we go back to the creator we won’t need any of those. I want my talent to be part of my access to paradise by helping as many people as I can and doing the best with whatever I have on this earth.

FGS: What are these talents you speak of? Put differently, what gets you out of bed every morning?

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Yusuf: Funny but I don’t see my self as being talented, I only get told I am.. I have been involved in a lot of things all my life. Let’s start from my secondary school days when I came up with a month-long campaign to adopt a class project and my mates laughed at it. The idea was to get parents to adopt classrooms and distribute laptops, tiles, electric blackboards, etc. I pitched the idea to parents on visiting day because it was a boarding school. At the time I calculated that a class would be transformed for about 5million or so. Before I left the school we had almost 7 classes out of twelve adopted and that’s excluding staff room and other facilities!

I have always tried to initiate things on my own; from a promotional event company, to working with a radio station in Leicester. Then I came up with my brand as a university project in 2011 – I love sketching. I may not be as good as I was anymore but that was my starting point of designs.

FGS: Incredible! Tell us about your brand. After the university project, were you totally convinced building a label was what you wanted to do, or was there a turning point moment?

Yusuf: I made a design for our entrepreneurship module and when I posted it online, my mates went crazy for the shoes. It wasn’t even any good based on the quality but they went ballistic so I registered my company immediately!

I got Leon Best to wear my jacket; he was with Newcastle and we were supposed to do a project together; he plays for Blackburn Rovers now. However, Ivory Coast play Tiote Check Ismael of Newcastle United saw my design, liked it, got in touch, and now we’re working together.

FGS: Speaking of football and footballers, how was that connection born?

Yusuf: To be honest I don’t know, I think if your work is good people will come through. I say hard work spotlights the character of people; some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.

FGS: Question 3 – If you had three wishes that you were sure would be granted, what would you ask for?

Yusuf: Hmmm. First, I’d wish that Nigerians and Nigerian companies embraced their own, supported other ventures besides music.

Second, I’d wish for checks. Africa has great designers but no product checks, no material checks, size charts, nothing. We need to focus on that.

Finally, I’d want to see bigger companies sponsoring African brands in Europe and supporting their standalone shops like the Christian Dior’s, LV’s, Bottega Veneta’s, Margiela’s, Gucci’s, etc.

FGS:  Awesome!  Looks like it’s all about the brand and the fashion for you; I notice you didn’t even have a private/personal wish!

Yusuf: Ha ha, I thought we were speaking just about the brand.

FGS: Nope, I’m interested not only in the brand, but the person behind it!

Yusuf: My personal wish would be for everyone to be successful… and that one day they could have my statue at Madame Tussauds.

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FGS: Ha ha ha! How many working hours do you have in your day?

Yusuf: To be quite honest I have exceeded my limit but let’s say about 17-19hours.

FGS: out of 24? Or are you one of the select few that have 30 hours in their day? What’s a typical day like?

Yusuf: I don’t think I ever have a typical day o. I could be checking what Forbes is saying or doing a Data Flow Diagram of an app I am working on or maybe I want to travel to a vintage city with a lot of English or any cultural history.

FGS: Question 2 – what are two things that an upcoming fashion designer needs to have to succeed in the business?

Yusuf: Business plan, supportive friends, inspiring environment, finance, work on retail outlet or if you can do it yourself fine, deliver well and deliver great

FGS: Lol, Yusuf I said two o! Do you have a ready to wear collection or you stick to bespoke outfits/couture?

Yusuf: All my stuff is ready to wear. We have our products in Cannes stores at the moment and we’re working on other places. Plus, I’m very easy to contact.

FGS: Cool. What was your biggest challenge with starting the brand?

Yusuf: Finance, support and knowing your target market. Then you need a feasible plan and measurable deliverables.

FGS: So did you have a pot of money when you started out?

Yusuf: nope I just had better networking. if I had a pot of money, my secretary would probably be doing this interview (lol). Truth is everyone has different strategy but money is king we all know this. I’ve been very fortunate.

FGS: I totally understand. It also means I should be grateful you don’t have a pot of money (yet)… Lol. Where’s the place of family in your business?

Yusuf: Family? I like to be discrete with that; I try not to mix them at all

FGS: I understand about that too. Final question. What is the one thing in the world you cannot do without?

Yusuf: wow… let’s say my Laptop, power, Internet; gadgets in general to be honest.

FGS: Lol, Yusuf, I said ONE thing!

Yusuf: Am I safe then to say technology?

FGS: Ha ha ha, that’s a sly answer, but it will do! Thank you so much Yusuf for chatting with me today, I really appreciate it!

Yusuf: The honor is mine, much appreciated dear!

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Exactly one week ago, I packed up, and left chilly Greenhithe for 28 degrees plus temperatures in Abuja, Nigeria, my home for the next month and a bit.

From the Asian on the leg from Frankfurt to Abuja who wouldn’t stop coughing (and couldn’t be bothered to cover his mouth), to the really lovely spaghetti bolognese I had on the flight, my trip was good, safe, pretty much uneventful. I watched ‘Frozen’ (that’s all I could stay awake for), and it’s amazing how little but very poignant life lessons can be contained in cartoons!

Massive thanks to my buddy for a ride home, and even though there was no power, it was really great to be home, and see my family, especially my darling nephew Boo Boo!

Went to the gym on Wednesday, big thank you to @EddieMadaki for an intense workout! Dang!

Woke up on Thursday morning, and bad news – there was a power surge, and my darling HTC One was slain. And so phone numbers, messages, EVERYTHING, I lost. And it was just the beginning of a horrible day. Massive thank you to my main squeeze Tokes for talking to me and cheering me up. Love you boo!

By Friday I was thankful for nighttime because I so needed an escape! I was overwhelmed, and even working out so hard my joints were burning didn’t make me feel better.

Wasn’t all doom and gloom though. I got a Samsung S4 to use (really grateful), but here’s my review of the device in one tweet.

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On Saturday I was up really early to play lawn tennis, and I had a fabulous time! Would have been nice though if they had warned me my arms would burn afterwards…but I had a great time! And the coach says I am a fast learner. Whoop!

Came home to meet my dad (yay), and it was nice to unload and rant about the incidents and drama from Thursday. Really nice. Was also really cool (always is) to watch him play with his grandson, who calls him ‘Tampa’ (Grandpa). Cute! Cute! Cute!

Had to babysit afterwards so Boo Boo and I went to get amala from my favorite Mama Put joint (it’s his favorite meal these days), and then I went off to a fabulous lunch at Salamander.

Mash, salmon, and wonderfully steamed vegetables. Love! Love! Love!

Mash, salmon, and wonderfully steamed vegetables. Love! Love! Love!

Food was great but their service really can’t be any slower. As in, service is courteous, waitresses are pleasant, ever smiling, all that good stuff but their service defines the word S-L-O-W. It’s incredible!

Went off to Designer Market Place (DMP) afterwards, and it was so lovely to finally put a face to some voices and names, and also to catch up with my old buddies! I was excited cos it was my first time of attending, and I had some really lovely cocktails too!

Got some fuel after that (and in that lies the curious case of the guy who appeared from nowhere and attempted to shunt the queue). SMH. Quick call to catch up with my girls Amanda and Deborah (miss you lots), and then after a fun hour spent with some other friends, it was finally home and bedtime.

House on the Rock The Refuge on Sunday, meetings, some major mileage with work and supporting my fabulous sister at an audition later in the day, and the day was over as quickly as it begun.

Monday I was stuck with a really somehow attendant at a cyber cafe I went to print some documents at, a really pleasant Medview flight (first time I used the airline and I’m sure there’ll be a second time), I learned that I can be over dependent, and learning to use my new phone, an Android called BeMatel. Really cool.

And that’s how my week went!

P:S – Greetings from Lagos, the land where taxi drivers use their brakes like they are an afterthought!

PPS: God has been super merciful to me! I can’t even tell it all, but He has!

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Right.

I’m a little upset tonight, and I’ll tell you why in just a minute. First off, apologies I’ve been inconsistent. I know I owe chronicles from my Hamburg and Abuja trips, and I will get to them in good time. This piece however couldn’t wait.

It is inspired by a post I saw on Joy Bewaji’s page on Facebook this evening, and because I want this piece to have the right context, I’ve got a screenshot for you.

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My comment was along the lines of I’d make sure I gave the person a permanent injury, and even if my breast was hanging out of my top or if I put it on my forehead (because it is my body part), it doesn’t give anyone the right to touch it. 

Then I saw a comment from a guy who said “You see — I have two daughters, one much younger and I tell them always to dress up and cover up — so that they don’t have crazies stirring at them in an unwelcome manner”.

And that got me really ticked off. For some reason it just really annoyed me. My comment’s below.

http://fairygodsister.wordpress.com/…/this-has-got-to…/ 

Did the 4-year-old in my blog from 2010 dress ‘indecently’? How does a 4-year-old entice a 45-year-old man?

I am not a parent John* (I see you’re throwing that around a little bit now) but I have this thing that my folks (who are parents) taught me, and that is self-respect. They taught me boundaries and God bless them, I have a brother who they taught him the exact things too.

Some men are animals. Not all, but a good number of men are animals. Animals because they lack self-respect, and self-control. Tis’ the absence of those two that make animals in the forest eat one another, do numbers one and two ‘anywhere belle face’, and all the things that generally separate man from beast.

In my first comment I said even if her breast was hanging out, heck even if it was on her forehead, he had absolutely NO right to touch it. That is what separates man from beast. It’s spring now, and the teens here are preempting summer and wearing the tiniest bits in their wardrobe. Are you saying because they are dressed that way they are ‘not being cautious’? Are you saying they are asking to be molested?

When I have children (and therefore become a parent), I will teach my children to dress decently only because it is the decent thing to do, not as a shield against molestation. 

It is these excuses we give for depravity that tire me. Absolutely grates.

Following on from that, here’s an experience that’s barely two weeks old.

I was in Nigeria in the last week of February, and amongst a number of meetings was one with a Senator. Venue? National Assembly. Now I’d never been there on my own, so I was already a little apprehensive. And it was HOT.

Got there dressed in a knee-length, sleeveless, black corporate-type dress, and brown heels. I got to the gate and was told I couldn’t go in because they had a policy against sleeveless dresses so we wouldn’t “entice the Assemblymen”. 

I swear I pinched myself to be sure I was neither being pranked, nor starring in my own horror movie. After all said and argued, ladies and gentlemen, I had to go home to change.

Got home, changed into black trousers and a blue top, same heels and the taxi drove me back there. Went in, met the children of God who are the ‘special assistants’ to the Senator, and when my business was done, I started the long walk under the sun outside to where my taxi was waiting.

Next thing a car passes me, reverses a bit, and stops. The right back window goes down and a man tells me “fine girl, leave the sun, come into my car”. I looked at him, gave him the dirtiest look I had, and continued walking. Brethren, the car followed me till I rounded the corner, and then it drove off. It had senate plates.

Wasn’t it for an animal like this I incurred bills on my taxi, and suffered more exposure to the sun than necessary? Isn’t it for these ones I was sent home because a sleeveless dress would entice? Who on earth are we kidding?

Ladies and gentlemen, you are either an animal or a human being. This excuse we give about women inviting molestation or rape on themselves because of the way they dress is sickening.

What did this girl on the way back from her grandfather’s funeral do to invite rape, by 6 men who threw her in a ditch and left her for dead afterwards?

It is also hypocritical because, like I said to the creature of God who asked what a young lady was wearing when she was molested by thugs posing as officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Bureau, the easiest way to show that your argument is a lie is to let your sister or mom be raped or molested. 

Let’s have this argument if your first question is about what they wore to ‘invite it’. Otherwise can we please train our children up in the way they should go already?

P:S – I did a blog (can’t find it) once where I said I’d set on fire anyone who ever touched my kids inappropriately. 

 

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I heard of Danny and Sylvester’s deaths just about six hours apart – both were in the same age bracket, in the same industry, and both victim to the short, brutish life that Nigeria is gaining critical acclaim for by the day.

In 2008 I was selected to attend a BBC World Service Trust (now Media Action) training on “Reporting HIV and Aids”.

We must have been about 13 or so participants, all drawn from different radio stations in Abuja. I remember quite a few  of them, Sophie Petra, Danny, Chimdi (from Aso Radio as well, where I was at the time), Nonye, Ehi, if I’ve missed names they won’t be more than two.

I remember our per diem (more than my youth corper allowance at the time, the awesome tea breaks with a different set of pastries each day, and of course I remember filling out lunch cards and eating ‘whatever I wanted’ for lunch.

The banter and camaraderie amongst all of us was real, even though sometimes I felt like I couldn’t voice an opinion cos technically I was the youngest. Used to tell myself it was Danny in my head, but it’s a good thing I never said it out, cos I’m wrong.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I stayed in touch with at last 60% of the team. So from those I’m tight with, to the ones whose names I only remember when Facebook says it’s their birthday,  I’ve pretty much kept those doors open.

I saw Danny last around the end of 2012. I’d been invited to Kiss FM to be a guest on Nike Coker’s show and I went in to do the recording. I spoke on basic essentials for security online, just tips and tricks for people to stay safe in all their dealings online. I remember it was about the time that Cynthia Osikogu was lured to a hotel in Lagos and killed by some men she met/spoke to on Facebook.

I was excited to see him! Teased about him becoming a big boy at Kiss (I remember at a point wasn’t very excited with RayPower FM), and he teased me about being chubby. SMH Danny!

I heard Danny passed the same morning Sylvester’s death was confirmed, and all I could see in my head was the twinkle in his tiny eyes, the dimples in his smile. I could see the spring in his step, and the laughter which I couldn’t place at some point.

Danny, I don’t know the proximity of the candle to the generator that exploded that night, but I know your heart was pure, and you would do anything to make the next man happy. My heart goes out to your family and I pray God’s grace and comfort in this time.

Sleep well Danny Danosaur – keep making music!!

Danny

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I met Mr Ekpo in May 2012, when I worked as the social media consultant for NERC as they implemented the MYTO 2 (price increase in simple English abeg). It was my second ever interaction with bureaucracy as personified by government, sigh. I remember having to explain what exactly social media could/would achieve for the organization so many times I could recite it in my sleep, but it was worth it when things started to change!

I infected some of the principal officers at the commission with the social media bug, and it is a thing of personal pride that Elecoblogs exists.

When I first toyed with the idea of asking Mr Ekpo to grace my blog for this #31days31writers project, I worried it would mete a ‘familiarity breeding contempt’ kind of reply. So you can imagine my excitement when between an introduction to another young person to provide a service, I mentioned it, and he replied, ‘sure, what is it about’? And voila!

It is my honor to present Mr Eyo Ekpo’s submission for my #31days31writers project!

My name is Eyo O. Ekpo, Nigerian, working with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja. There, I lead the Market Competition and Rates (MCR) Division. I’m also a newbie blogger, on electricity (of all things), at Elecoblogs. I’m planning to be 48 in June (can’t wait to be 50 and see what the fuss is all about) and have fended for myself since I became a lawyer on 22nd October 1987.

My Lessons Learned (or, Perhaps, Re-Learned)

I sit here in the garden at home in Calabar and ask: “What do I say to readers whose average age is less than 35? I have no common ground with them. I dislike their music, their loud voices, their hurry-hurry, their dressing. I dislike everything about them!!” Then, I say to myself: “But you do know quite a few fantastic young people o”. The list runs through my head and…it just keeps growing. From my two out-of-this-world daughters, 20 and 16, to the bright young guys and girls of NERC, to @ChiomaChuka, my Media Adviser, who opened up for me a new world, social media, of which I was blissfully ignorant, on to the irrepressible people I’ve met and conversed with in that youthful, vibrant and colourful world.

I’ve re-learnt a lesson as old as time. I am you and you are me and the river just keeps flowing. Time is timeless. It stands still. In order to be alive in it, we are the ones who must keep moving. Stand still and die. Looks indeed are deceptive. During the year, I looked more closely and saw that the youth of today are me of yesterday, not even as good. The same all-embracing fire of idealism, expectation and desire for progress that I had in October 1987. Now, my biggest desire is not to become one of those masquerades that have dedicated themselves to killing that fire.

My Gratitude

Kahlil Gibran, for whom my 8-year old boy is named, said about Friendship in his timeless magnum opus, ‘The Prophet’: “Your friend is your need answered.” I am eternally grateful for the blessing of friendship; and grateful to my friends who have provided all I have ever needed. Three of them, two female and one male. Don’t ask and I won’t tell, except to say that one of them is my dearly beloved wifey, Oluranti.

2013, in spite of its daily anxieties and worries, was signposted along the way with a few happy events that served, at just the right moments, to boost a flagging momentum. It has also proved to be a year in which were validated, reinforced and sometimes learnt anew, many of the lessons from 26 years of a multifaceted professional career. Lessons of life. Hard work, character, ethics, paying what is due, the constant striving to learn, perfection never having upper limits, leadership and people management. Above all, lessons about responsibility, a word deep with meaning.

And…My Futile Quest for A Time Machine

If I could go back, what would I do differently. I hurt two people I love dearly. We live in the present and I can’t go back but I can make amends, which, thankfully, they have allowed me to do.

I am most certainly a very fortunate pilgrim. I couldn’t be more thankful for the experiences that life has brought me in 2013. As the year ends, I look forward to 2014 with eagerness for a year that would be filled with activity, even more beneficial to all around me than in 2013.

Thank you Sir!

Thank you Sir!

Frank is another person I have never met, but we had probably exchanged a few tweets before the Sunday I threw open the challenge for people to join my #31days31writers project. He said yes, and when I was editing his entry, I was grateful for the good sense to welcome submissions from people I ‘technically’ didn’t know!

His lessons from this year resonate with me so much I had to convince myself this was someone else’s story, not mine. Say hello to Ewoma, and the 18th day of this project!

So 2013 gradually grinds to a halt and with it comes the experiences, lessons and the many stories that we will tell. I am one of the lucky few picked by the Fairy GodSister to tell my tale so I’ll just share; I’m not good with stories but I can share my lessons!

Oh, the introduction! I am Ewoma Frank Uruemurie, a Nigerian and I own a small business. I am a football lover, a fan of Manchester United; I  a social media addict and I am always seeking out new information.

I have gleaned a lot these past few months, permit me to number them as I share:

  1. When you feel disappointed by the things going on around you, just take a break and see your life from the outside, you will be amazed how quickly things will turn around.
  2. Trust your dreams, don’t be afraid to try new things, to take bold steps. Never allow fear deter you from exploring the possibilities in your life.
  3. Family is everything. They will sing your praise and will not be afraid to tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear. Stay true to your family, you will always need them.
  4. You will fall a few times but don’t give up, keep pushing and slowly but surely you will get there no matter how long it takes. Your flaws do not define you.
  5. People change and so do you, so don’t always expect people to fit into your plans. Accept people for what they are not what you want them to be.

Sometimes it was really hard for me especially as I was trying to set up my firm but as I kept moving these lessons came alive for me and trust me, learning has not been easy but facing my fears head on helped me survive falls. So there you have it, those would be my five major lessons for 2013.

What am I most grateful for?

I could be Captain Obvious and say I am grateful for a lot of things so I’ll just say I am most grateful for FAMILY. Without the support that they bring it would have really been a hard year for me. I spent the first five months of the year in the Northern part of Nigeria with the whole Boko Haram crisis but their words, prayers and endless encouragement pulled me through. I  came back home and there was the business to set up and the whole fear of the unknown but still my family was there every step of the way so definitely I am grateful for them.

If there was one thing I could do differently in 2013 then it would be to TRUST MY DREAMS and the coming year will be so much better! I wish you the best of 2014!

By the way, I am on Twitter as @IamEwoma.

Uruemurie

Thank you for writing in Ewoma!!

 

Ahh!!! Sista Nike is a sista and half! You know that ‘all that and a bag of chips’ saying? Well, Nike Coker is easily all that, a bag of chips, a fruit, coke, and a chocolate bar! I met her on Facebook in 2008 as a young corps member who wanted to organize an event in Abuja to commemorate World Aids day. Someone said, ‘talk to Nike Coker, she knows everyone you’ll need’.

From that first unsure, greetings-laced message was  born a friendship and sisterhood that has stood the test of everything, least of which is time. I remember calling her one very cold day in 2010 to say I wanted to give up on my Masters and come back to Nigeria… Lol, I made a lot of people panic that day sha! Sista talked with me till her airtime ran out, then she called with her husband’s phone (with the everlasting airtime, lol).

When my aunty passed, she flew in from Lagos on the day of the funeral (my fault she didn’t come in the day before), and came to the funeral straight from the airport with her bags in the boot of the cab. She’d asked two mutual friends to come be with me at the service of songs a couple days before. What more could friendship entail?

I just love her. She’s great, down to earth, smart, accomplished, and I bless her today from the very depths of my heart.

Before this becomes a post in itself,  here’s the one and only Chief Sista! #TeamGrizzly

My name is Nike Coker-Babalola. I am a lady, married, a Nigerian and I work as communications/entertainment junkie, however I’m most popularly known as a defender of the Sistahood.  I initiated a yearly program for women in Abuja that focuses on bringing women out of their shells, learning a new skill or two and seeing the glass as ALWAYS half full no matter what situation they find themselves.

www.sistasistnigeria.net

Twitter : @sistasistanaija

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SistaSistaNigeria

One thing I’ve learnt this year? Be patient! Though that was never really a strong trait of mine but somehow I’ve learnt to let go and let God. I’m my own worst critic when it comes to projects, but being patient and letting issues run its course have helped me realise that the whole world can run on my own efforts alone. I ask for help when I need it and I’m not hurt when it doesn’t meet my exact needs at that exact time.

What’s one thing I’m grateful for? Family! The backbone to every society.  My very own cheerleading squad, the same people who will listen to my endless ideas (both plausible and slightly stupid), give me candid thoughts, arm wrestle me in tough arguments or call my bluff. I can’t toss them away even if I wanted to! My family is here to stay.

One thing I’d do different this year if I could? Make more phone calls. In the new world of Blackberry pings, Whatsapp  messages  and emails on the go…I know I have failed in follow-up phone calls.  That “out-of-the-blue” phone call that brings a smile on someone else’s face. Putting aside my issues to care for someone else. 2014 is round the corner, I intend to make up for that.

The Chief Sista!

The Chief Sista! Love you to bits!!

So I just stumbled on this post I wrote in August, how I haven’t published it before now is beyond me!

Before I get to it, how are you enjoying the voices I introduced on the blog so far? Cool? What are you grateful for this year? What have you learned? And what would you change if you could? Anything? Use the comments section, let me hear you!

‘Let me hear you’ is something an ex-boyfriend of mine used to say, always made me chuckle, but hey, I digress; plus there’s a reason he’s my ex. Let’s get to the post already!

“Each day is a learning experience, each morning an opportunity to add new knowledge. Sometimes, beyond the things we read or seek out, things that happen around us present opportunities for stories or memories. On this particular trip to Nigeria, a couple things happened and I thought I’d share. Some are funny, some are not, and some others will be food for thought.

It’s amazing what little sums of money will do for people whose circumstances are not the same as yours. I asked the security man at my sister’s to help wash my car (correction – a car a friend graciously lets me use whenever I am in the country) and early in the morning because I had places to go. On my way out the next morning I gave him 1000 naira (just about £4), and asked him to give me my change later. To be honest I didn’t mean it, I just wanted to be able to ask him to help clean the car (and my sister’s) later that evening.

So I got back in the evening and as I was unloading my stuff from the car, the guy came up to me and said, “madam your change”. I was like ‘huh’ but I opened my hand and when I counted what he’d put in my hand, it was 900 naira. I was like, ‘what’…and he said, “hope I gave you the correct change, I used 100naira to eat”. Of course I gave him back the 900. Point is till the day I left, my sister’s car and mine were sparkling every morning!

That incident really touched me, and made me even more grateful for what I’ve been blessed with.

Still on little bits of money buying ‘loyalty’, my buddies Andy, Oche, and Eddie run a lounge called Eden Lounge in Maitama. The decor is out of this world! I especially love the walls, and I don’t drink but Oche is a mixologist par excellence! Kai! Dude can have you drinking your own urine and you would love it, he’s that good! Anyway, so I went to visit (first time at the place), and this security guard let me park inside the compound. When I was leaving to drop a friend off I mentioned I’d be back and asked him to save my spot. When I got back, he had saved it and so when I was leaving I tipped him.

VIP Certified

There you go! That was my IV to their opening night, making me ‘VIP Certified’…

The next night was the official opening of the place, and my buddies had hooked me up with a pass (I think I have a picture somewhere), and when I got there I noticed there wasn’t spot for me to park on the premises. Guess what? Not only did that security guy take the trouble to explain the owners of the cars to me, he had saved me a spot outside the gate where he and some other security guys were sitting! Soon as I pulled up they (as if on cue) stood up, moved their benches, and the guy came over to my window to say, “Madam I saved this space for you”.

Did I tip him when I was leaving that night? You bet!

Have you followed this Djeregbe trip religiously? Then you’ll know there’s a post from London to Lagos and Lagos to Djeregbe (in one), the one on devotions, the one with the story about the madman, pictures from the entire trip, Djeregbe to Lagos and Abuja, Abuja back to Lagos, and a final Lagos to London post. All of this in seven days. Phew!!!

Officially available to do travel writing, this trip (and all the other trips I’ve made this year) keep screaming out to me that I should take it up professionally. Don’t even know if Booski will buy that but hey, let’s put out the ads first!

Ok, so all good things have to come to an end right? My girl Wumi and I went to Abuja together, and for the trip back to Lagos, staying true to who I am, we raced all the way to the airport! After we’d checked in, dropped our luggage, and started walking to the security gate, we saw the flight had been delayed and so we didn’t have to run.

When we got upstairs though, I was taking off my belt to place in the basket for the scanner when I was told to take off my slippers as well. Now I try not to wear belts or anything else I’d have to take off when I’m traveling because the ‘stripping’ (I’m exaggerating I know) in front of complete strangers just irks me.  Me taking off my slippers here was doubly annoying because the carpet was filthy and what on earth could I have concealed in flat slippers? Not like they would have noticed if I had concealed anything (because the bottle of water in my bag wasn’t detected) but let’s just move on.

While I was grumbling within myself, I noticed a guy wearing a kaftan who came and waltzed through the screening thing (actually walked beside it), while the officials took a break from their duties to chorus, “you’re welcome sir, your people are here sir, have a safe trip sir”, and all that rubbish.

I turned to Wumi and said (to her, not via a public address system to the entire airport, “looks like some animals are indeed more equal than others. That man wasn’t searched, these people are even hailing him.” In Bible speak, ‘while I was yet speaking’, a lady official tapped my shoulder twice (startling and then thoroughly annoying me), and the conversation that ensued is below

Lady official: Why are you talking like that? Do you know who he is?

Me: I don’t know who he is and I was talking to my friend. You shouldn’t listen in on other people’s conversations.

Lady official: Instead of you to ask, do you know he is the D-I-G? (Deputy Inspector General)

Me: I don’t want to know, and you really shouldn’t listen to conversations not meant for you.

And I walked away, ticked off.

We were walking to board,  and I asked Wumi if I said anything wrong (again talking to my friend and not via any device to the entire airport) when another person in uniform (apparently carrying the said DIG’s bag) turned and said, “how can you not know the DIG”?

By this time I was almost smoking from the ears. I raised my voice and said, “what is it about today that everyone’s eavesdropping on my conversations? Was I in any way speaking to you? Please leave me alone!”

He slunk away.

SMH. There should be no exceptions to the rules, especially in a very unsafe, insecure Nigeria. It is this ‘different rules for the goose and the gander’ that have fed corruption to the point of obesity.

And people shouldn’t eavesdrop!