Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

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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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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Every time I put out a call for people to write in (for whatever reason), I almost always believe that it’s only people I know I’m going to get responses from. And so I am humbled each time when people read whatever I’ve asked for, and deem me (and my blog) worthy of their experiences and stories. Really humbling!

Chidozie is one of those I’m super grateful for, and he has a really interesting story too. I’m humbled (again) that this series inspired him to start his, and I wish him all the best with everything! Enjoy it! 

2013 ended with a punch on my left ear, I had concluded my compulsory youth service scheme in Ekiti state as a corps member of batch C 2012 with the mind-set that I would get a job and start making some money ‘sharp-sharp’, but I guess God had a better plan ahead. 2014 was ushered in as I led the praise and worship section in church, and when the time came to make the prayers for the year, I spoke from the heart and boom, July is already here!
 
Oh, where are my manners, my name is Prince Chidozie Okechukwu Nwachukwu, emmm, there is no space to put the Nelson, a.k.a, NELLYDOZZY. I am a Microbiologist, a Production Executive/Quality control personnel at Beloxxi Industries Ltd, a blogger/writer  (my sweetest hobby), a lover of good music/singer and most importantly a Nigerian to the bone marrow.
 
Sincerely speaking @chiomachuka, if I had to detail (in detail), elucidating each event that occurred from January 1st till June 30th, I’d be writing a book, but I will play by the rules (600 words). January 2014 saw me going from one aptitude test to another, from Access bank to NLNG to Ernst and Young, to PZ, to Unilever, kai, I waka no be small! You need to see the multitude of people seeking for jobs or better offers. Truth be told I passed all their tests, but one way or the other I just didn’t make the final lists (shakes his head); it got so serious that a friend of mine said “Guy, you sure say them no dey pursue you for ya village ni“. It taught me something though, to never despise small beginnings.
 
I started small as a primary school teacher, I taught Computer studies, and Physical and Health Education, sincerely I put in my best in that job, channeling my time and love to make my students future leaders of Nigeria. Remember it is the foundation of a house that determines its durability.
Maybe that was why God put a smile on my face around April – yes, I initially thought I was being ‘April fooled’ but lo and behold, it was real. Today, I am most grateful to God that despite my going late for the aptitude test and doing an interview with other four candidates, I got the job with Beloxxi Industries Ltd, Nigeria’s number one producers of cream crackers biscuit as a Production Executive, it could only be God.

In the second part of the year, I look forward to concluding my project #31Days31Epistles (inspired by @chiomachuka) on my blog (www.generaltatafo.blogspot.com and www.nysctatafo.blogspot.com). I also intend to conclude my plans to study for a Masters in the United States.
Most importantly I look forward to finding my other half; I really wonder why it is looking difficult (hisses), “abeg make una help me tell am say where ever she dey make she cross my path o, after all if Mohammed no gree go mountain, the mountain suppose locate Mohammed na, abi no be so dem dey talk am?”
Finally, I intend to join forces with like-minded people to organize a youth empowerment camporee in August; I guess that’s the little way I can give back to my community.
 
Shalom.
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Whoop! Thank you Chidozie for sending this in! Here’s to finding your better half, sorting out your Masters, and a truly productive second half of the year. And, I love Beloxxi biscuits!

I met Kalat (we preferred to call him ‘Dale’ then sha, sounded very posh and all) on the NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) camp in Abuja. There was a bunch of us who would hang around together, Simi, Ini, Dale, David Barau, someone else who’s face I can see but whose name I can’t remember, and myself.

Camp got done with, and Dale was in my Community Development Service (CDS) group, the one and only Editorial Board. And the camaraderie continued, I remember the park at Area 1 where we’d have CDS meetings, and the awesome support Dale and our other friends gave. Super people!

Dale is married now, with a gorgeous baby girl, and I’m so proud of what he’s become!

Enjoy!

My name is Kalat, I am Nigerian and I practice Law in Abuja.

I started this year with a decision, a resolution really. I resolved that this year I was going to be more together, more competent. Half way into the year I’ll have to say the biggest lesson I’m learning is to take one day at a time.

Multitasking. Pulling everything off seamlessly and coming out of it all looking unflustered without a hair out-of-place. Some people seem to have that gift. Not me. It seems like I’m always busy, juggling 101 things at the same time. Sometimes I feel like such a scatter brain.

I have found out I’ve rediscovered that life’s going to keep throwing curve balls at me and the best I can do is plan and prepare for what I can foresee. For everything else, take it as it comes. So for rest of this year, I’m still going to keep crossing all my “t’s” and dotting the “i’s” as much as is within my power. For everything else, I’ll do the best I can and won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t go as I planned.

Recently I posted this piece on my blog, it’s called “Just for Today”. It has helped me put a lot into perspective. Don’t know who wrote it but I’d like to share it with you. Please take a look if you have the time. I hope it helps you as much as it has me.

What am I most grateful for? I’ll have to say love. The love of my family helping keep me sane, a lighthouse in this treacherous storm called life. The love of my friends who put up with all my foibles and my constant abandonment, and the love of a God that I will never understand.

Love keeps me humble because I’m convinced I hardly deserve any of it, so I’m grateful and constantly looking for a way to pass it on. Not to earn it mind you, but to show love to someone else who may feel as undeserving as I do in the hope that they will do the same. Love might just change the world.

Kalat is on Twitter as @talakbags. Thank you Dale!

Just look and remove your eyes, I told you he's married!

Just look and remove your eyes, I told you he’s married!

The last time Jaiye was in London, we were supposed to meet up to catch a movie, and I got to him late. The way he scolded me eh! Wow… but that’s just the kind of person he is. Big brother, super writer, someone I really look up to. After all the scolding, we had a great time watching Thor 2, and then munching on wedges and potato skins!

I don’t remember how we first met, but I remember catching up at lunches in Abuja, and Jaiye being gracious enough to do an interview for a class project during my Master’s Degree. I’m super excited he could write, I literally bullied him into doing this on a weekend he was very busy! What else are big brothers for?

My name is Jaiyeola Jeffrey Ifihan, I’m a Geoscientist and I’ve been set up.

Life for a writer with long-standing memory block becomes extremely daunting when alter-egos are suspended just for the real person to show up.

Outside my Nine to Five, I have/had pretended to have a life as a writer, Poet and I’ve been to the studio to record severally, most of which found their way to some lone archives in my computer while some made it to blogs. A video made it to TV but was ‘too revolutionary’ to last on air. Come to think of it, who does a video about Nigeria’s dark history when there is an unwritten gag order on it? (Four years after, it would be the turn of Half of a Yellow Sun to receive a post-dated unwritten memo on this gag order).

Okay, focus Jeff. Your alter-egos are not here to help you.

I lost faith in the Nigerian project sometime somewhere. Perhaps there are species of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (yeah, keep the two) who go to bed full of Faith and wake up Atheists, I think mine was a slow process.

The emotional drain of the Occupy Nigeria protests of January 2012, the disdain the green passport attracts almost everywhere in the world, the realization out of the blue that Nigerian Youth have morphed into ‘uber-divisive’ beings. Somewhere in-between, my Faith got lost.

When it comes to the Nigerian, the 3D body scanners just won’t do. I once travelled in a track-down to avoid the pull-your-belt syndrome, but that was the very day that I got an extra security-smooch in Schiphol. It hurt when I observed people with a lighter tone of skin underwent lighter scrutiny.

It is a paranoid world.  Everywhere you go, you are constantly reminded. Dogs willing to sniff out the bush meat in your baggage, airport P.A Systems warning you not to crack jokes with airport security, buying TSA padlocks because the requirement for visiting Yankee is to surrender the privacy of your baggage. Yet, the Airport Terminals connecting Flights to Nigeria are super crowded. No love shown outside, we return, to a Nation that shows us no Love, just MMIA (Murtala Muhammed International Airport) heat.

Somehow, the past 6 months had me crossing more time-zones than I have in a life-time, and passing through more Airport Terminals. Each experience fuelled my despondence about Nigeria.

Imagine we had the Underground Rail in Nigeria. Imagine we had a Country that issues 14 day Visa just for tourists to visit and spend their hearts out. Imagine our Airports had Museums where you can catch a glimpse of our ‘Heroes Past’. Scratch that, who are our heroes?

Our heroes are regional household gods who become villains once their names cross their geopolitical zones.

Read the blogs, then try and read the comments that follow and watch your heart bleed.

The car bombs in Afghanistan used to sound strange until few years ago. In the last six months, I have tried to clutch at sanity by avoiding headlines…but then there are blogs and micro blogs (tears non-existent hair)!

I used to find therapy in writing, channelling the anger and passion for change through my blog and the vocal booth. All of a sudden, that passion vanished.

Change came, but it is that kind of change that changes the change maker.

Lest I forget, I am Nigerian.

 

Jaiye Jaiye!! (That's what I have stored on my phones for him!)

Jaiye Jaiye!! (That’s what I have stored on my phones for him!)

Jaiye went hard!! Love it! I told you he was a super writer didn’t I?

Ladies and gentlemen, did you go to church? Yes? Good! No? Oya go and kneel down in that corner there,seriously! And raise up your hands, close your eyes, stick out your tongue (if you went to secondary school in Nigeria you should have a little chuckle somewhere inside you)!

Seyi wrote this piece in answer to my call for reflections on the year, and whenever people I didn’t know before send in pieces, it amazes me how the internet and indeed emerging technology shrinks our world so easily, making us interact and learn about people we probably would never have met!

I’m grateful to Seyi, and I know you’re going to love his piece!

My name is Oluwaseyi Ige. I’m unrepentantly Nigerian.  I’m a broadcaster, author, publisher and media consultant.

The other day at the office a colleague walked up to me. It’s a scene that has played out several times.

‘This your hair, why don’t you cut it?’ she said, with a matronly look straddling her face. She was saying it for the umpteenth time! (Now, I’ve been wearing my hair that way since 2005. I trim it quarterly. I love it lusciously ‘bushy’.)

‘Really?’ I said, sounding as mischievous as possible. I enjoy the look on their faces when I give my reply.

‘If I’m your wife, I would have cut it while you were sleeping’. She said.

‘No, she won’t. She’s used to it already, and she understands’, I replied. I wanted to be diplomatic, you know, take it like a good sport.

Within me though, I wanted to give her a very tiny piece of the angry part of my mind. Really, I would have told her: ‘how is my hair any business of yours? Maybe that’s why I didn’t marry someone like you, amebo’.

Truthfully, I don’t get why I have to be civil always. I should have kind of given it to her, maybe it will keep others away.  For crying out loud, there is no ‘hair code’ in our staff regulations, and I don’t understand this concept of having a prepared picture of how others should wear their hair, makeup or even socks.

We always want to fit others into our prepared cells for them in our minds, because we know what is best for them, even the person to elect at the polls. And when they refuse to fit in, as it happened recently, they are half-developed Neanderthals as far as we are concerned. Maybe that’s one of our country’s problems.

Neither can I really comprehend why I can’t always say what I think.

Aside from such instances of people trying to help me mind my business, it’s been a smooth year so far. I didn’t make any resolutions in January, which means so far, I’ve not been disappointed. Every achievement – and challenge (read problem, and they are so many!) have been taken in stride.

I’ve learnt that people are never who they seem. They could be better or most times, worse. I wish I had stuck with more of my ideas. Right now they look good on paper!

I am actually grateful for all the people, privileges and pleasures I enjoy. And the grace God has given me to be alive.

I’m really looking forward to a better rest of the year (don’t we all have that wish!). But to aid that wish coming to pass, I have to start doing what I really want to do, even if it looks weird. Life is too short to waste any moment of it. Maybe I can re-invent me. I should reach out to people some more too.

And I must pay more attention to my spiritual convictions. Very important.

So, maybe at the end of the year I may have had enough courage to go do the dreadlocks I’ve always wanted, hoping it will make people stop asking me to barb, and I would have expressed my mind a few times.

@thisverySeyi

facebook.com/seyi.ige

thisveryseyi.blogspot.com

http://www.rmedleys.gnbo.com.ng

DO THIS

PS – I loved this! Oh how I would love to say what I really think sometimes! But there’s the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ question that just ‘offs’ that fire…

Back to the girls and out of Nigeria, we’re off to The Netherlands and a guest post from Paulien Boone, a super amazing lady I met in May! Before I talk about her successfully coordinating 70 delegates from three continents for the Hope XXL Summit (think applications, visas, travel, etc), can I just say she has a new initiative called the Paris Declaration? Check on it!

By the way, The Hague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go back!

My name is Paulien Boone, I am Dutch and I work for a nonprofit in The Netherlands. In the first half of 2014 I learned that I have a voice.

The year 2014 started off pretty great: I won a national essay writing contest on fundraising. The essay had to be about connecting with donors, and to my great surprise I won the contest and was awarded the title of “Young Fundraising Talent 2014”. This award did not bring about a big change in my life as a fundraiser for nonprofits, but it did make me realize something else: I love to write.

Even before the start of 2014 I had already registered my own website, the Paris Declaration, which is designed to help readers get the most out of their time on earth and change the world in the process. This is something I’m really passionate about, because I believe that it is possible to have a wonderful life, apply your talents and change the world at the same time.

This belief is not something I developed overnight. It is directly linked to the experiences I’ve had so far, with (mostly young) people deciding to become changemakers. It’s amazing to see what happens when someone discovers new talents while working on something they believe in. They grow as a person and as a changemaker, and it makes a big impact on their lives and on the people around them.

Unlocking this potential is something I want to contribute to, and something I want to learn more about by writing about it and connecting with others.

One of the highlights of the year so far was a couple of days during which I got to do exactly that: connect with an international group of amazing, talented and inspiring young people. They were all participating in a conference I organized in The Hague (Chioma took part as well!). This group confirmed the famous saying to me: our similarities are far greater than our differences. It inspired me to continue building the Paris Declaration to support them and many others. It also gave me the courage to launch it and commit to writing a new article every week. The inspiration brought about by this experience is something I’m truly grateful for.

I’m super excited about the second half of the year, which will be all about supporting readers with valuable content and offering an online home to all changemakers out there. The first six months of 2014 were dedicated to starting up, and now, at halftime, I can reflect and conclude that I can’t wait to grow further. Bring on the rest of the year, I’m ready!

Paulien

Gorgeous!!!

Thank you so much Paulien!

 

 

One of the reasons why I love the #31Days31Writers series is because somehow it provides a mash-up of cultures, ethnicities, and people doing the most diverse things! This month is the most diverse yet, and you should look forward to voices from just about every continent there is! SPeaking of which, I need more guys to come through with their pieces! Want to get involved? Email dfairygodsister(at)yahoo(dot)com and I’ll be in touch!

Dozie is a friend on Twitter who saw my call for entries and was super gracious to not only indicate interest in the project, but also sent in his piece on time! Thank you! From his piece he appears to be a serious-minded, eyes-on-the-ball kind of person… 

The phrase “may you live in interesting times” has never been more apt for me than at this time in my life, never mind the purported origin of the phrase.  I have been back in Nigeria for two years and each day takes on its own character!  My name is Dozie Okpalaobieri, I am Nigerian and I am the Special Assistant on Energy to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance.  So for one, the activities in the power sector keeps me busy among other work that I do.

Every day is a learning experience and I dare say, if I had to rephrase, I would say I have learned three major things….We work long hours, meeting with people, ferreting out facts and figures and cranking out briefs and one very important lesson is need to take a break, look after my health and get some rest.  It is certainly easy to keep running on adrenaline, ignoring the headache and curing that obnoxious malaria with yet another dose of Coartem.  As I once learned, seeing the doctor may just be as important as that malaria may indeed be Typhoid and in addition to medication, rest is a must.  It is important that despite pushing ourselves to the limit, we need to recharge our batteries to enable us come back and continue the work.

I have also learned that I cannot please everybody at work and at home even though there is a balance somewhere there and lastly, especially given my experience in the last 18 months, never believe everything you read in the newspapers.  It is always amazing to see something you worked on, reported in a distorted way or with some assumptions that make no sense whatsoever.

Having said that, I am certainly grateful for family, for their support and their patience in the face of my late nights at work and for friends who continually provide support but challenge us in the face of our policies we come up with.  They are also important in making us stay grounded and enable us to understand how others perceive and understand the impact of our work.  I am of course grateful for my direct colleagues and others who help to contribute to responsible development in this country of ours.

NBET3

Ladies, do you want to find out if he’s single?

 

I am currently concerned about two things – the security situation in the country and politicians whose verbal diarrhea does not bode well for political discourse.  So for the second half of the year, I look forward to an improved security environment and hope that the politics of the 2015 election does not have a negative impact on citizens.  Generally, I would hope that we can continue to get results and move this nation forward.

From Afghanistan yesterday we go to the greatest country in the world, Nigeria!! Whoop!
Lynda (with a ‘y’) is a really good friend of mine. Don’t remember how we met but I know she’s gorgeous, is both an employee and an entrepreneur, and her posts on Facebook are a super source of information for me on all things legal and political (especially as it concerns her home state)!
You best be leaving pretty comments on this one otherwise she’ll sue (lol)! Without further ado (notice the rhyme scheme there), I give you Lynda!
Ok so here I was lazing through my Facebook and I see a message from my runaway friend who’s been away like forever but somehow we manage to stay in touch because she’s one of those people who stimulate me mentally and intellectually and that counts for something because not a lot of people do that for me so she’s one of my special people. 
Hi there I’m Lynda Inyareghdoo Adzuanaga. Nigerian, legal practitioner by training and fashion designer by choice and interest. 
2014? Wow! The year of my epiphany or rather the year of the manifestation of my epiphany because I woke ‎up one day late last year and realised I wasn’t really cut out for a regular 9-5 job.  Not because I hated order and regimental life but I wasn’t one to be stuck doing the same thing without the opportunity to ventilate my new ideas and opinions and in a way albeit a sad one my chosen profession particularly in Nigeria isn’t amenable to change so that was my first issue.
Secondly, I found that some ordinarily latent talents were coming to the fore and I couldn’t hold them back any more. Having been a tomboy most  of my growing years and then realising my femininity gave birth to my interest in fashion so apologies to the average Nigerian designer whose cliché line is ‘ I always made dresses for my dolls and bla bla’. I never made clothes for my dolls and even though I had a grandfather who was a tailor, when his sight started failing I always ran away when he called me to thread his needles! I preferred to climb trees with my brother or play football in the streets.
I however found myself as an adult drawn to fabrics and designs of clothes and way before I ventured into the foray professionally I started to create my idea of fashion: simple, chic, effortless and decent and this was represented by me in my style at work and at play. Therefore when the day of reckoning came I didn’t have to do much so I practically hit the ground running so to speak. That is the story of the birth of the line Tailleur Ensembles.
2014 has been interesting, I’ve had the usual challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Nigeria: power, funding, a dedicated work force, a drive for excellence and most recently insecurity  amongst others. 
Like most Nigerian designers upcoming and established, I looked to the West African coast for professional tailors because of the niche they have carved over time in the industry (one of the challenges previously mentioned). So I procured ‎ the services of some Ivorien nationals and after all negotiations were done and they were ready to ship out two bombs went off in Abuja and that was the end of Solomon Grundy literally! LOL. I then had to look inward, to source locally and so far I have been working with locals who often need to be reminded of the need for a standard in every chosen field.
Funding has also featured prominently as a challenge as loans and the likes aren’t easily accessible here; the commercial banks ask for such outlandish terms that are in the same range as asking for your grandmother’s birth certificate! I basically started with my entire savings which doesn’t amount to so much for starters … but on the whole it’s been refreshing, a learning process, learning to delay gratification, patience( I’m a control freak), resilience, improvisation etc. Been working from home but working on/ at getting a business premises that’s easily accessible to my clientele.
Gratitude would be in the regard of me killing that spirit of procrastination that had plagued me for the better part of my life and standing up to do what I really love despite all odds. Also for support from my family, loved ones and friends and indeed detractors who felt I was a loser for leaving a professional terrain to venture into the unknown. All of these have contributed to the nurturing and birthing of this dream.
As the second half of the year creeps in I’m filled with trepidation because I’ve not done all I want to but that in itself is spurring me to do better,work harder, train people so I can delegate duties and above all stand out in my chosen field by being excellent in what I do.
Thanks Chioma for this opportunity! I do hope my story inspires someone who’s nonconformist and leftist like me to go out there and ‎just be what they have always wanted to be. Just go ahead and do  YOU!
I love you babe!
Inyareghdoo
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

Awww, I love you too babe! Coming to see you once I get in for a dress!