Hey everyone!

So I’ll try to make this quick. How are you? Good weekend? I had a really busy last 10 days, but lots of learning and successes. More about that later. And I started my morning by going to the gym! I haven’t been in about a month so I was really excited about the 47 minutes spent trying to whip my body back into shape. Gosh, such a struggle!

So, as I headed out of our estate about 7am this morning, I saw two young men surrounded by a mob. Both men had been stripped naked, and had car batteries on their heads. I was told these men were in the habit of stealing car batteries from parked cars in the estate. The estate security had set a trap for them and voila. They looked like they had been beaten, but they also had been told to “start going”. So I asked the security man where they were going, and why they had to be naked. His answer? “Madam dem be thief na, dem go waka the whole estate today”.

As I drove off, I thought about the fact that in that entire mob, no one mentioned the police or any law enforcement agency. Shame because it shows the distrust in our systems, where people take laws into their hands because justice from the state is too slow, or a mirage. I also started thinking about nakedness on a few levels:

I also started thinking about nakedness on a few levels:

  1. There has got to be something about stripping a person naked that takes away their power and confers it on the mob.
  2. I didn’t see anyone molesting the men, touching their private parts or assaulting them sexually in anyway. Also, no one was filming. The opposite would be the case if the criminals were female. They would have been groped, fingered, and people would film. There was one horrible case last year where two women had ground pepper poured into her vagina by a mob. Horrifying stuff. One of them died. Another woman who stole at a mall was stripped and had an iron rod inserted into her vagina. Google is replete with stories like this.

Why? What is this need to remove the clothing of an offender?

I did a quick skim of Wikipedia, trying to find roots of this madness, and this article on public humiliation is interesting. From wearing badges to getting their feet unshod and flogged, to getting them to recount their crimes in the market square or some other public place, humans seem to have devised several ways of punishing offenders.

Going back to Bible times, nakedness was used as a form of punishment. There’s the tale in Ezekiel 37 about a woman who was essentially whoring about, and she got her comeuppance in the form of nakedness, losing her children, and then death.

Islam also cites nakedness as a punishment for offenders, going back to the days of Aadam and Hawwaa (Adam and Eve). Apparently when they disobeyed, listened to the serpent and ate of the fruit they had been warned not eat of, they were made (aware of their) nakedness. Longer narration here.

Away from religion and back to history, Hesiod, a renown Greek poet implored people to “Sow naked, and plough naked, and harvest naked if you wish to bring in all Demeter’s fruits in due season.” Demeter was the goddess of seasons and harvests. Now, this was optional, but there are records of men (and women) ploughing their fields without a thread on.

Back to this morning. I hope (for the sake of the men caught stealing), that they are handed over to the police. And I hope that we slowly start move away from humiliation and on to rehabilitation, or at least punishment that leaves people’s clothes on.

No I’m not writing about the (in)famous “follow me” sometimes perpetuated on social media. I personally will consider requests on a case by case basis but I know quite a few people who don’t brook it at all. Thankfully, on Twitter, you can leave your DMs open for private messages so that’s not an excuse for the request anymore.

But that’s not what this is about.  So I was in a bit of hurry a few days ago, don’t remember where I was headed but I remember I was in a hurry. And then at some point where it was a single-lane road, we were all held up. I waited for a little while, then I left the growing queue only to find out that the person in front of the line was waiting behind a parked car.

Sigh. I had spent a few minutes I didn’t have in a queue behind a parked car? Sigh.

Made me wonder about the many times we expect to make progress but we’re headed in the wrong direction or even stagnant.

I’ve written about this before – one time when I’d spent the night at a friend’s and I was really hot, even after I took after everything I was wearing. Turns out I’d been working the radiator wrong, and therefore not getting any results for all the effort I was putting in.

So think about it. Are you not hitting your targets because the targets are wrong or your process is wrong, or you’re headed in the opposite direction of that target?

The exigencies of today mean that we must be on point as far as direction and focus is concerned. So we cannot afford to be headed in the wrong direction, not even for a wee minute. I read somewhere that it is better to run back than to run the wrong way. As in it’s never too late to retrace your steps and take another stab at achieving whatever you were trying to that hasn’t yet worked out.

Dr Seuss said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

I wish you all the best with that!

Can I just say that I really missed blogging and I’m enjoying the moments spent writing these days? Thank you to everyone who’s liked an article, left a comment, and/or shared.

Apologies in advance, this is going to get a little gross. So, my niece (who has inspired a few of my recent pieces), is seventeen months old. In other words, she’s a proper baby. Her favourite song is Twinkle twinkle little star, her eyes widen when you’re telling her a story, she’s a confirmed foodie like her aunty, and she loves a good cuddle. Her repertoire now features words like ‘bye’, ‘maami’, and the consummate sounds to replace ‘love you, juice, and food’. She will wave to say goodbye and sorry, and will occasionally accompany the latter with a hug.

My niece is absolutely adorable.

Remember her age? Okay. It means she also (occasionally) looks for trouble. It’s a bit of a funny struggle for me sometimes, reminding my 5-year-old nephew he’s not supposed to hit his sister (in retaliation, or any female for that matter) but then reprimanding this 17-month old about the inappropriateness (and dangers) of looking for trouble.

Her age also means that she sometimes she does the yuckiest things! I’ll tell you what she did this morning. So she wears diapers (obviously), and she pooped after a generous helping of golden morn, some ribena, and some mountain dew (I told you she’s a foodie).

Anyway, then she takes the diaper off (I apologise for the picture currently in your mind), walked to my room, and stretched out her arms to be carried. I looked at her, and knowing fully well her diaper was off (and not knowing what to expect), I carried her. Yep. I did. Cleaned her up, put on fresh diapers, and sent her on her merry way (back to the living room to watch a cartoon with her brother and hopefully not annoy him).

After she left I chatted to The Boyfriend about how we go to God. You know the term “come as you are?” I said to Him that I imagine that God looks at us sometimes and the only reason why He picks us up is love. Simple. This His love that is overflowing, never-ending, and free-flowing. I imagine that sometimes we come to Him and we’re so messy looking, so smelly, so everything not presentable, but He picks us up, cleans us, caters to us, and sends us on our merry way. What a loving father!

Anyway, that’s my niece and I today. In a lot of ways as we hang out and she grows, I imagine our relationship with God and the many parallels to be drawn. It’s the sweetest thing. Really, it is.

Question: What things/people in your everyday life remind you of relationship with God?

So my friend Bella put up a Facebook post recently, and it spoke to me in a very distinct way.

Screenshot 2017-07-03 16.34.19

My comment? “Ha ha ha… I love it! Plus I love “rehearsing my rights in my head”… sometimes God has stuff in store for us but we resist the change, holding on to what we think we have…” Somehow the thought didn’t leave me so I thought I’d write about it (and I have Bella’s permission to share).

Picture this: we’re holding on to something we think is precious, maybe something we achieved by ourselves, or might even be something He put in our hands.

And then God says, I want to give you something better, want to upgrade you, and we refuse. We go up in arms because we’ve gotten comfortable wherever we are or with whatever we have that we refuse to let Him have His sweet way in our lives.

Interesting how a lot of us can relate to this, and how much God rolls His eyes at us sometimes. We know He doesn’t do any less thing, we know He gives only good and perfect gifts, we know we are the Apple of His eye and He is aware of every hair that falls from our heads, yet we don’t trust Him enough to give us better than we have? Sigh.

Was a learning moment for me, more like a reminder that sometimes it’s okay to let go. Let go of good so we have room for better, let go of better to receive God’s best. It’s for our own good.

Have a good one!

PS: This photo is so super! I have to find a rooftop to get a photo like this, and soon!

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I was in church a few weeks ago, and this hymn jumped at me in so many ways. I downloaded it after the service, and by the end of the week I had listened to it about 100 times. Imagine if I had 1000 dollars for every time I listened to the song, lol.

Anyway, so I remembered the hymn today (the one sung in church today didn’t really grip me) so I thought I’d share. And with lyrics too. This version is by the Bill and Gloria Gaither Band, it’s fabulous. You’re welcome.

1 Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters,
Chained like a slave I struggled in vain;
But I received a glorious freedom,
When Jesus broke my fetters in twain.

Refrain: Glorious freedom, wonderful freedom,
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus the glorious Emancipator,
Now and forever He shall be mine.

2 Freedom from all the carnal affections,
Freedom from envy, hatred and strife;
Freedom from vain and worldly ambitions.
Freedom from all that saddened my life.

3 Freedom from pride and all sinful follies,
Freedom from love and glitter of gold;
Freedom from evil temper and anger,
Glorious freedom, rapture untold.

4 Freedom from fear with all of its torments,
Freedom from care with all of its pain;
Freedom in Christ my blessed Redeemer,
He who has rent my fetters in twain.

Hello you!

Been ages! I’m sorry, and yes I missed you too.

A few things have happened in my life in the past three months, and I would share except I’m not sure yet if the changes will be permanent or if there are bigger changes in the offing. So maybe wait a little bit.

How have you been? My condolences to Nigeria and the shittiness that is our country at this time; only bright spot seems to be the Acting President and his strides across the economy, security, and national unity. There’s so much going on, rulers across federal, state and local levels perpetuating foolishness on levels I didn’t think were possible in 2017. Anyway, Nigeria, this post is not about you.

This is about my one-year-old niece Talia, and how she made me reflect on a few things today. So her older brother, my nephew is 5, but she sometimes believes she is older. Of course when she tries to lord it over him sometimes she ends up crying. Not because he hits her or anything, but because he stands up and runs walks away for instance. Or because she falls or in some other way, causes her own tears.

When she cries she looks for me, I comfort her, maybe give her a treat, and send her on her merry way. And then in less than 20 minutes I hear her voice (and it breaks my heart to hear her cry), and the cycle continues till she falls asleep, she’s distracted by something/someone else, or she comes and stays with me. Sits or lies on my bed for a good cuddle, some tickling, a snack, a cartoon, or whatever fun thing we decide to get up to.

After a particularly hilarious incident today (with plenty tears) I reflected on our relationship with God and how sometimes it is akin to my relationship with my niece. He keeps calling to us, and if you’re His child you know His voice. He doesn’t stop asking us to abide under His shadow where no one can harm us, to drink of Him because every good and perfect gift comes from Him, etc. But sometimes, we act like we know it all, like we created ourselves; like we have the manual for our lives.

And so He sits and waits because we will doubtless come back, bruised, in tears, in pain, everything He warned us about. But He takes us back, cleans us, heals us, and off we go again, like an unending cycle. But that’s not how He intends for us to live. His wish is that we prosper and be in good health even as our soul prospers, but we won’t enter into that without Him. We cannot.

Are you tired of running around in circles? Just some food for thought.

 

Just did a short form post of this on Facebook but the matter hasn’t fully left my spirit so I thought I would come here and elaborate a little bit. I’m talking about advocacy and how some people believe (obviously erroneously) that they have a right to your beliefs and consequently social media posts.

So, someone posts about something and instead of identifying with it and moving on, or disagreeing with it and moving on, you come with, “but you did not talk about XYZ.”

For starters, this is absolute nonsense. I have very little patience for it. Nigeria is beset with so many issues everyone should be speaking about stuff, and all the time too!

Like, who has the register for what people should speak up about? Who made anyone the keeper of advocacy topics? And how does speaking (or not speaking) about one issue take away my right to speak about something else?

I am one person. I am somebody, but I am not everybody. The issues that affect me or I’m passionate about might not be the ones that awaken your activist bones. That‘s fine. The issues bothering me today might bother you tomorrow, and vice versa. That’s fine too.

This entitlement to the content people post on their personal social media profiles is silly, and the reason why Nigeria is what it is today. We talk about social media giving us a voice, yet refuse the individuality and ripple effect it affords us when we speak up. So confusing.

So we consciously or unconsciously ‘select’ people who should somehow know what we’re interested in, and talk about only those things. Otherwise, we heckle them. We outsource our civic duties and responsibilities to a select few, then cry when the monsters we’ve bred come of age. Sigh.

I read about a person who started #DistractionFreeFridays with a friend to get people to commit to driving without their devices on Fridays. We’ve seen hashtags like #SaveBagega, #NotTooYoungToRunBill, #CommonWealth4Peace, even #BBNaija. Do we tell one set of people to stop using the internet because we don’t subscribe to their hashtag? No. Live and let live. Advocate and let others do so.

You want to talk about female genital mutilation? Do it. Child marriage? Already. ‘Grasscutters’ and the other aberrations going on in the North East? Make it louder for those in the back. Audu Maikori and Elrufai’s sudden preoccupation with him? Go for it.

Whatever you want attention drawn to, start it. Gather information, and share it in ways that will resonate with people. Create a plan detailing what message you want to get out, who your target is, and what you want them to do when they’re aware of your messaging. Craft your messages in simple language, think about graphics if you can (the diversity of content is great and images are awesome as far as shareability is concerned). Sell your idea to your friends and get them to put it out for you at times when you know your audience is online, and keep posting/publishing. As it resonates with people, they’ll like, share, repost, retweet, whatever. And hopefully, they’ll take the commensurate offline action.

Here’s to your success, and leaving others to use their social media the way they want to.

Early in October 2016 I spent the day with my day one girl, Francesca. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with someone who not only gets it, she gets me completely. She’s gorgeous in and out, and is one of the realest people I know. But this post is not about her, it was about a ‘meeting’ we went to.

We went as a group to see Fela Durotoye and it was one of the best evenings out I’ve had in a long time! Anyone who knows or has interacted closely with Fela Durotoye knows that he’s such a profound and prolific speaker. And when you add that to the fact that he’s a Christian and has the wisdom of God flowing through him, any/every interaction is one that’s sure to be a blessing.

And so it was, that we spent the evening with his beautiful family. One of the first things I said to myself after spending a few minutes was I would work very hard to raise children that would bring God, us, and their societies joy. Pure joy.

When we eventually got to chatting with Mr Durotoye, I started taking notes, and I’ve reproduced them as is, simply because I stumbled on them recently and I was so blessed all over again I wanted to share. Most of the talk was centred around relationships, marriage (in the 21st century), and pleasing God.

Ready?

  • Love (in addition to the many definitions that exist) – genuine desire and pursuit of the best well-being for another person. How do you measure love? Sacrifice
  • Honour – Recognition of the glory of God in another (to the maximum). How do you measure honour? Adoration

The onus of admiration doesn’t lie on the woman but in the man… he must be admirable.

You can decide to love a person, even in spite of themselves. But you cannot honour them in spite of themselves.

How do we build a generation of admirable men? How do we prepare men that women will honour?

Proverbs 12: 4 – A prudent wife is the crown of her husband. It is the man who bejewels his crown.

There are stats to show that the economic, social, and psychological values of a nation are tied to the family unit.

And then we moved away from family, love, and relationships into nation-building.

Any generation must leave three things for the next’

  1. Values
  2. Environment (that allows the values to thrive)
  3. A good name  (that opens doors of opportunity for the values to thrive)

If we’re going to build Nigeria into a desirable place to be and live in, we must fix the next generation of marriages.

The following are very key to passing on our values to the next generation

A. Transcend bias (religious, cultural, etc)

B. Show personal benefit

C. Be communicable (Messaging must be consistent)

D. Demonstrable

How could the devil who was described as perfect have pride in him? He discovered he was perfect, and his focus became in himself. That’s when he decided to ascend to the place where God was. It became about ‘self’, about ‘me’.

The mentality of ‘other centric’ – leadership… ‘self-centric’ – rulership

If you don’t frame and know your values, ou will acquire values as you go, and they could be positive or negative.

Every generation will have to explain why they ‘didn’t’ or ‘how they ‘did’ – which of them will we be?

Finally, Mr Fela talked about the tripartite, triangular relationship between vision/values, a road map, and people/projects, and how a mastery of all three will ensure you never have unfinished projects.

And then it was time to go home, because good things come to an end. Like this post. 🙂

 

 

 

Welcome to Day Three! Parts one and two are here and here. Not in the mood to muck about so we’ll jump right into the trip to Bama. Or a few things that happened before. Ready?

BAMA

Remember how I slept? I woke up cold, tired, and very angry. I was mentally exhausted from calculating all through the night how cold the room needed to be to stop me from being eaten alive by mosquitoes. And then, calculating how covered I needed to be to not freeze to death. Mind you, the air conditioning had no remote so I was standing up intermittently to turn it on and off.

A little note about the mosquitoes. They were massive. As in, really big. Not the “not seen but heard” type some of us endure everywhere else, these ones were massive. Like ‘I am a mosquito and I am here to suck (or drain) your blood’ size mosquitoes. I mean the insecticide of choice here is Rambo! Not Mortein, not Raid, not even Baygon. Rambo! Gosh! Meaning of course that except the room was icy, they were fully operational on the one human in the room – me.

By the time it was morning, I was sneezing uncontrollably, my eyes were puffy, and I had a headache the size of Africa. Did I mention that even though I asked (and very nicely) the hotel staff ended up not spraying any insecticide in my room? So I had bites all over as well. I swear I was a sorry sight.

Time check? 9am. We were at Government House, waiting for the Governor’s delegation so we could drive to Bama together. I remember being a little irritated that we’d been hurried out of our hotel in the name of “we’re leaving early” only to come here to wait. Plus, I was hungry.

Breakfast was digestive biscuits, a coke and some medicine I was given to ease my symptoms. I remember telling my best friend Wunmi I had been given a pink pill by someone on the team who was feeling sorry for me. I didn’t know what it was, and I was in too much distress to care to be honest. And it helped! Better yet, God had mercy on me.

An hour, some biscuits (thank you Alkayy) and a super cold coke after, we were ready to head out. I’d been on the phone with my dad and the deal was I would keep talking /chatting with him till we got out of service area and then message as soon as I could. Momma was in San Antonio at the time for my favourite cousin’s wedding and the general consensus was to not tell her I was not only around the North East but I was headed to the heart of the conflict and devastation.

We set off and the 3-hour drive (should be 90 minutes but the road is treacherous) was rife with the most reckless, dare-devil driving I’ve seen in my life! Gosh! There were about 32 cars inclusive of an armoured tank, a gun-carrier, trucks overflowing with civilian JTF armed to the teeth, soldiers, and then the Governor’s people. Everyone wanted to be closest to any vehicle with the armed guys. Alas! There was a very real danger of getting ambushed by Boko Haram so the racing was doubly inspired. At some point, I was more concerned about cars colliding about a tire bursting or falling off, or generally harming ourselves more than anything we were afraid of.

We were in a Toyota Hiace Bus, brand new and our driver was a veteran on that route. I imagine he had seen and heard enough to not want us to be a part of the number attacked by Boko Haram so he was as reckless as the others maybe even a bit more reckless than most.

Our route went from Maiduguri to Dalori, past Konduga, and then to Bama town, where IDP camp is located. From the minute we left the centre of Maiduguri town, it was an eyesore. Stretches of wantons’ destruction, nothing was spared. Banks, local government buildings, upturned cars. I saw a cap inside one of them and wondered about the thoughts were before the car turned over. Some buildings had massive holes like sequins adorning a dress. I must have asked a thousand times “what do these people want so bad they are willing to cause this much devastation to achieve?” God forbid.

Some photos. They’re all watermarked. Message me if you need a version that’s not watermarked.

We got to Bama safely (somehow my heart hadn’t left my body) and after some government talk, we went into the IDP camp. That’s a different story literally.

 

 

This is the second instalment of my Maiduguri trip tale. MTT. Sounds nice. Dope abbreviation. Sounds like something serious. This is serious biko. As serious as serious can get. But I digress. Part one is here. Let’s get on with it.

So! One of the first things that hit you once the announcement about the descent into Maiduguri is made and you look out the window might be that there is the Maiduguri we all hear of and the Maiduguri you meet (in person). Perfect opposition, especially if you’re besotted with foreign media reports.

It’s the red roofs and cream-colored buildings, the wide expanse of uninhabited land; it is the land itself. Green and luscious one minute, dry and scorched the next. This contrast presents itself throughout the duration of this trip exaggerated many times over by the insurgency.

Immediate thoughts on sights at the airport?

  1. Maiduguri international airport, like several international airports in Nigeria, is, unfortunately, international only in name. The absence of an arrival lounge reduced hopes for a carousel or conveyor belt to mischievous thinking. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long for our bags, and it was off to our lodgings in a convoy dotted with an armed security truck in the front and at the rear.
  2. Decrepit buildings, chipped away at some corners, time, negligence, and incompetence ensuring that even the lettering on the building announcing the airport was barely visible. I confirmed the airport had never been attacked. What was the excuse for this eyesore then?

The second thing I noticed (or that hit me) was the heat. Dry, prickly heat, and yours truly was wrapped in a jalabia and head scarf. I genuinely thought I was going to have heat stroke.

So, we got into our cars and drove in a convoy to our lodgings, a place called Lake Lale Guest Inn. Here’s an idea of the sight I became accustomed to for the rest of the trip.

military

The first room I was given had bad locks and because I didn’t want any how stories starting from “while she was sleeping…” I asked and was given another room which was cleaned while I was there. Tut tut tut.

We were to have a team debrief at 8:30 pm. I had been warned that the restaurant was a bit slow but I forgot meaning that the chicken and chips I ordered weren’t ready before our meeting. By the time the meeting was done, I got back to my room and asked for the food. It was brought and the rest I captured on twitter.

borno-2016

Anyway, I ate it like that, spoke to Tata and my folks, and slept off, grateful for safety, a roof over my head, and the privilege to be on the delegation to a place I had only heard about. A few mosquitoes, but nothing the airconditioning wouldn’t handle. Or so I thought.

The evening and the morning, the first day. Tomorrow? Bama.