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.

I was born in Kano, and raised (amongst other cities in Nigeria) in Kaduna and in Abuja. My mother says we spoke Hausa fluently at some point, and having lived in some western cities at some other times, we spoke Yoruba too. Matter of fact I vividly remember acting in Yoruba plays in primary school and coming top of the class in Yoruba. My parents are (still) fluent in three Nigerian languages, while I currently struggle with all three. Life isn’t fair.

Like every good student, I know the states and capitals and having the privilege growing up in at least thirteen locations in Nigeria cutting across most of the geopolitical zones, I have a fairly intimate understanding how people in these parts behave. Except the North Eastern part of Nigeria though – Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Taraba, Borno, and Gombe. My parents were never transferred there, and my travels as an adult never ventured there either.

From 2009, we heard bits of the North being famous for things other than agriculture, vehicles, fabric, or even cattle. Religious extremism (in various parts of the country), like a pot silently boiling over, peaked. Not the brand Kano, Kaduna, Benue, Nassarawa, and even Plateau had seen, a new wave challenging the tenets of Islam and more importantly, condemning everything Western, especially education. Say hello to Boko Haram.

With this sect came a wave of devastation and destruction I dare say Nigeria had not seen before, ravaging whole states, especially Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa.

Fast forward to 2016, my work with a client focused on the reconstruction of the devastated areas, and therefore an assessment trip to Borno.

At first, I had said no as the trip coincided with another trip I was to make outside Nigeria. Fluctuating forex policies/restrictions, an agent with an interesting attitude, and a lot of back and forth communication after, it was obvious to me I wouldn’t make my flight date, at least not without spending approximately #150,000 more than the ridiculous amount I had already spent. I decided I couldn’t afford it, retrieved what I had already paid, and said yes to Borno. Note that three months after I made that trip out of Nigeria at about half the cost of the original ticket I initially turned down.

The next few pieces chronicle the trip with all the accompanying visuals; I hope it comes just as alive for you as it was for me.

DAY ONE: The Trip.

We start as always, with movement. I woke up on Thursday morning, first off smarting that I didn’t wake up in Frankfort connecting to Houston and then suddenly afraid of what Borno might have in store. I had read the briefing notes and known we would be going to Maiduguri and then to Bama, using the same route the UNICEF workers had been ambushed on a few weeks prior. Apparently, we were scheduled to visit twice: cue apprehension.

I cleared my movement with my family (sans my mum, lol),  and my dad’s excitement helped me feel a lot more positive about the trip. And then there was the dash to the market to get a jalabiya (outer, over-all type garment commonly worn in the North) and a veil. The plan was to blend in as much as I could.

Quick stop at TATA’s for Brunch, some goofiness and emergency Hausa lessons(lol) and it was off to the airport to catch 1.30pm flight which didn’t leave till 3pm. We will skip that point and talk about my intense feeling of nakedness when I met the rest of the team.

I had assumed (erroneously of course) that I only needed to don my extras on the way to Bama. The other females (mostly northerners) on the team, however, were dressed to the neck with veils, hijabs etc. – one person was even wearing socks. Yours truly was blissfully sporting my favourite pair of jeans, my sister’s pink and grey tee, and my favourite slippers. Guess who had to dig through her checked in luggage, retrieve her jalabiya and veil and become culture/religion complaint before we touched down in Maiduguri? Yup! Me!

As we took off I prayed a few prayers, especially for safety, strength (both physically and mentally), and the presence of mind to be able to get solid work done/think through creative solutions for my clients. I wanted to have an interesting tip too, something to write about.  And then I prayed for safety just a bit more.

One hour five minutes later, we touched down , Maiduguri International Airport. Nothing remotely international (or even national) about it, but we’ll discuss this and more tomorrow morning when the next instalment is up. Tomorrow.

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree

Just some quick thoughts about the New Year, what we want to do/be/achieve and how quite a number of us erroneously believe that wanting a thing (even bad enough) is all it takes for us to do/be/achieve that thing.

I found this quote yesterday in the course of fulfilling a committment to an organization and it literally jumped out at me. How do you want to see different if you don’t do different? My dad says it’s insanity to plant corn and pray to reap strawberries. Lol. But really. Think about it.

*Let’s not be like the Nigerian government who want to increase the quantity of rice in the country and decide the best place to plant the rice is on rocks. Without irrigation or watering of any kind, fertilizers, nothing. Yet the plan is to increase the quantity of rice for everyone. Sigh.

So do you need to change a habit, eat better (read as less, lol), sleep for longer (or less), get a hobby (or hubby – gosh I’m so silly); do you need to get closer to God, hit some milestones at work, be a better friend/partner/parent, make money so good you’re not swayed by any of the exchange rates in Nigeria at the moment? Nice!

So, what’s the plan? What are the concrete steps to getting there? In a conversation very early this year I figured I have close to no knowledge of project management and it is something that can smoothen the processes for a number of things I am involved with. So, off I went to register for a course, classes start in a bit.

There are a couple other things I need to work on, sort out, and be better at, and we’re on the road to that. Amen to God’s help and strength, and grace to stay the course.

So, away from me, what are you doing? Better yet, what are you doing different?

Happy New Year.

2016 has been an interesting year for me like I can imagine it’s been for a lot of people. For starters, my niece was born in February so I’ve got two shining lights in my life now. My family is great, work could be better but it’s good too, and pieces of my life have fallen in and out of place at different times.  The vagaries of life, isn’t that what some would call it?

In the past few days, I’ve been reading a book by Jon Ronson, “So you’ve been publicly shamed” talking about the democratisation of public shaming ab how people online and offline have developed a voice, one empowered to dispense justice as occasion serves.

From Max Mosley to Justine Sacco, Ronson chronicles stories of public shaming, the manifestation of deindividuation and how shaming is becoming a form of social control. Deindividuation refers to people partaking of things in a group they probably wouldn’t pioneer if, they had to individually. A more relatable, somewhat simpler term would be ‘The Mob’.

The book was personal for me in several ways, explaining a few concepts I want to work on in the New Year. I thought about the relief that confessions bring, and even though I’ve never said “Father forgive me for I have sinned” in a booth, I have felt (and I imagine it’s the same for a lot of people) the relief that comes from opening to God, a friend, partner, colleague, or parent. The “I don’t have to carry this alone” feeling, the belly-deep peace, the flat feeling equivalent of ‘he who is down fears no fall’, ground zero. At that point, emptiness is welcome. Feeling spent is almost a positive.

Shaming as it applies to men and women is also something this book explores in detail, how sexual issues (impropriety, idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms) are more likely to taint and damage women than men. ‘Slut-shaming’ as the offence and the punishment, an interesting concept, is also discussed. For instance, a woman is involved in a sex-scandal with a man, and the commentary naturally weighs more on her end, as snarky as it is hurtful and unforgiving. The man is mentioned, but it is the woman whose story is told with relish, her person and career hacked into. Women rarely ‘come back’ from the scandal.

As the punishment – a woman is in the spotlight for something the mob sees as wrong, whether it be financial impropriety or the misspeaks that are all too common online these days. The responses most of the time will bear on her sexuality, prescribing some sort of sexual punishment that deviates almost completely from the crime. Blame patriarchy, blame globalised expressions of ancient practices, blame anything you want.

How do people recover from a shaming? The truth is some people never do. Some others take years to rid themselves of the stigma, and even then, never completely succeed; it resurfaces every time they do, a permanent reminder of a wrong decision taken. Some others ignore it, and in doing so ‘take the power’ away from their traducers. There is a Yoruba saying that goes, “You cannot remove a man’s cap in his absence”. Not that a person cannot be shamed in their absence, but they must mentally enter that ‘dock’ for it to have any effect.

It might explain the ‘lack of shame’ that we say is ostensive in Nigerian/African/fix in your country’s leaders; the mental absence from the ‘gibbet’ where the shaming should occur. Think African leaders who have buried their umbilical cords in their offices and refuse to step down or hand over. But, I digress.

There is also ‘disrespecting the narrative’ created by the shaming which was influenced by the narrative of the action by creating a third narrative. Stay with me. Let’s say Ada does something ‘bad’ – narrative one. The public shames her – narrative two. She can decide to curl up and hide, or completely ignore the shaming, or she can flip the situation and create narrative three, make it anything she wants. That narrative disrespects one and two and is where my interest lies.

There are variations to shame, and the trauma caused by shaming. Various things trigger this trauma, and it differs from person to person. Same way grief, its manifestations and triggers are personal and differ from person to person.

Perhaps this is a good place to stop and express the rest of my thoughts when I finish reading the book and reflecting. Perhaps a nice concluding statement would be to take an extra minute before losing ourselves in the mobs that play judge and jury online/offline. Even when we think we have all the facts. Even when we convince ourselves that the person is worthy of the vitriol. Wait. Think.

My mother loves eucalyptus oil. Like she loves it with every fiber of her being! And she, just like a lot of other moms, believes it is the answer to a multitude of illnesses/symptoms. So when we were younger somehow I believed eucalyptus oil was that panacea that could cure everything because momma had a different  method of application depending on what symptoms you presented. So cold/stuffy nose? Put some behind your ears, on your neck, pulse points basically. More intense cold? Use some for a steam bath. Period pain? Put some on your belly and massage it in. Tooth ache? Put some in a hanky and dab…okay I’m going to stop messing with you… momma I’m sorry, I love you! Ha ha ha!! I always had a good time teasing her about eucalyptus oil, still do! God bless you Momma!

For my late aunt, fried rice was the answer. Like, it was the ‘weapon’ of choice when the situation was mild, serious or grave/super, and the ‘application’ depended on that too. Ha ha! So, let’s say I had a bad day at work and I moaned about it a bit, we would buy fried rice and chicken wings from Southern Fried Chicken. When I got my heart broken in the middle of 2010, she bought me fried rice from Chopstix, an upscale Chinese restaurant. When I got my job at the BBC though, we cooked the rice in the house! 

The reason why buying fried rice was a smaller ‘medicine dose’ than cooking was the amount of effort that the latter came with! Proper labour of love. Like cooking fried rice in the house was an activity that EVERYONE partook in, from the nanny to the security man. Lol! I can still picture her sitting on the stool in the kitchen, mixing the rice. Wait, let’s even back up a bit. 

First there’d be the conversation preceding the “make we cook fried rice” proclamation. Boom! Then it would be nanny and driver to buy chicken, vegetables and whatever condiments we didn’t have (including a big tub of Blue Band butter), and then every soul in the house getting involved with chopping or peeling something. I remember that the guys were excluded, but not every time. 

I remember her micromanaging the process every single time, like each time was our first. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. If she didn’t ask, we would pile into the living room one after the other to ask questions, silly or relevant. Because aunty was the king and queen of the business of cooking fried rice!!

I remember us laying out all the blanched, steamed, chopped, boiled, plucked ingredients out in separate bowls strewn across the kitchen floor, surrounding the big pot (very big because everyone was welcome to aunty’s pot) with her stool there in the middle too. I remember her nonstop conversation as she mixed in all the ingredients, whether it was giving advice, singing, scolding whoever for whatever reason, or gisting us of a number of things, maybe even the last time we all cooked! 

I remember she would insist the onions be blended because she knew I can’t stand seeing them, and I remember her asking me to taste. I remember always scooping rice onto a plate just to taste, her protesting that, “na only this pikin must chop half the food to taste am”, and the laughter that would always ensue.

I remember the laughter. Gosh I remember her laughter. With her gap teeth, mischievous twinkle in her eyes, and absolute love of God and man in her heart. It was loud, it was rich, it was welcoming. Aunty invited everyone to laugh with her laughter, regardless of your state of mind. If she was laughing, even if it was at you, you would laugh too. I promise.

I remember sitting down to eat our finished work of art with her white tray, big purple cup of Fanta and ice. Aunty loved life abeg! And we would pair the meal nicely with a Yoruba film, because we could never eat fried rice quietly. Nah, it wouldn’t go down well that way, there had to be extra activity.

Meal over, your problems were either over, or in the midst of the preparation or cooking we would have discussed or agreed on the way out of the issue. And if we were celebrating, there would be a small, off handed prayer of thanksgiving for the joy, and a word (or two, or two million) of advice on how to manage it.

Meal over, it would be time to retire to her room or ours, to “fire sleep.” I remember her in any of her wrappers, room temperature mirroring the Arctic, and her giving any of us her phones so she wouldn’t be disturbed. Sometimes we would cook fried rice on a Sunday after church, for Easter, Christmas, any of the Muslim celebrations in a nod to her Northern upbringing, birthdays, or just because she felt like the whole house needed something to do. Lol. What a woman.

I would give anything to cook fried rice with you again aunty. Maybe because it’s Christmas, maybe because there’s so much to talk about, maybe because I miss you ordering us about, maybe because I want to hear you laugh one last time.

Sleep well aunty. I love you forever.

Maryam is a firebrand. Passionate about things she is passionate about, and it’s always very nice to see. She has a blog called ‘The Amba Imprint’, with an interesting meaning for ‘amba’. I like! Maryam takes the stage for the second instalment of the #31Days31Writers project, writing on “Things I am Grateful For.”

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama Baloni, my dear friend. In 2016, she was someone who I felt confident had my back (we all need such people in today’s tough world) and I’m also grateful for the trust she put in me. She is someone I will always be grateful for, my confidant.

I am grateful for the things I can’t count. Like the warm hugs and kisses from my nieces and nephews, the amazing young people I have met who have inspired me to do more for myself and for others.

I must say, I am grateful to be a part of the Not Too Young To Run campaign; it has opened up my mind to another level of political consciousness and involvement even with life in general, it has kindled a fire in me. I am grateful for cake, for seeing my afro get a bit bigger and for hearing God whisper secrets to me along the way.

I have learned more than in any other year that I need to depend mostly on God and myself, every other thing or person can falter at any moment and that it’s okay for humans not to be completely dependable, we are all flawed after all. I’ve always been someone to speak up and make clear what I want and even go for it, I have learned how much more important it is to be a go-getter this year.

I have also learned to be less stubborn and more flexible. One must be pragmatic to survive in this world that is everything but idealistic.

I learnt that the land of opportunity would rather take an honest racist and sexist man than a flawed but experienced female leader. There are many angles that analysts have looked at to explain the situation and its causes but there’s no explanation for me. I guess I have learnt that some things will never have an explanation and sometimes that is fine, one must simply learn the tiny lessons from them.

If I could, I’d change the harsh way people communicate with each other if I could and I would start with Nigeria. I am never able to look at these Jungle Justice pictures that have been going around for too long. It breaks my heart that human beings can be so heartless. If I could, I would bring back to life Col. Abu Ali because he was a symbol of the hope against Boko Haram that many soldiers still held on to. Knowing someone like him is lost is tough even for many of us who never knew him personally.

Another thing I wish I could change that this world has held onto for too long is gender inequality. I wish, and also work, for a world where women are given the freedom to make choices, be free from oppression and violence and be given equal respect, pay and opportunities. Having that happen would be fantastic but the challenges are many and we continue to fight, speak and advocate for it. Realistically, it may not be a battle that will be won in my lifetime.

 

One Local/ Global Event That Has Shocked Me

So many wonderful and terrible things have happened all over the world in 2016 that have incredible shock value. Because so many of these events have been happening, it is really difficult to find anything so shocking now. Shocking events seem to be happening back to back and have for me resulted in desensitisation.

 

Finally, I asked myself what I would do for myself more in 2017 and I realised I am happy and I haven’t thought about any extra thing I can do for myself when the calendar changes. I have found myself asking- What More Can I Do … to make this world a better place? Maybe that is what I will do for myself. I will see what I can do to make this world a better place so that if I am blessed enough to be alive at the end of next year, the sense of accomplishment and joy from putting good out into the world will warm up my pillow as I lay down to sleep into the new year.

Fiery, passionate, but with just the right amount of warmth. Thank you Maryam, here’s to a 2017 full of everything your heart desires!

Sometimes we plan things and they don’t go as we plan – fact of life. Other times we don’t plan things, and they happen – another fact of life. Any other variations to this statement? Don’t think so. 

I’ve got five voices to grace the blog this month, and I’m most grateful to them for taking the time to chronicle their year for you, my glorious readers. Meanwhile, 2017 has to be better, I must write more! Gosh! I miss it!

We kick off the series with a personal friend of mine, Ehimen. He is dependable, a lover of God, and has the most gorgeous wife! God bless you for writing in Mr Wordsmith!

Appreciating the value of Today while it is today

Many men would rather wear a luxury timepiece on their wrists than wear their emotions on their sleeves, especially if those emotions are powerful enough to make them cry. Well, I’ve learned to do both and as someone jocularly noted recently, look well put together while at it. He was referring to the fact that I cried at my own wedding –an occasion for which I was suitably attired, complete with a finely-crafted wristwatch peeking out from under the sleeve of my tuxedo- but I somehow managed to avoid the pictures of me crying going viral, unlike another gentleman who also got married in 2016 and cried like a baby at his wedding.

Why did I cry at my wedding? It wasn’t only because of the profundity of starting to learn the awesome mystery that marriage is, nor was it only because my wife is the walking exemplar of the word “beautiful”. It wasn’t only because my entire lifetime flashed before me in an instant and I was grateful to GOD for the many times He saved me from death. It wasn’t only because I remembered my father who died when I was nine-and-a-half years old and left me in a world where I was told (a bit too early) to “be a man for your younger ones”. Those are small contributors to the whole truth. The whole truth is at that time, my body, soul and spirit sent commands to my eyes to produce tears and I didn’t know how to not yield. I am human.

Men who shy away from being emotional often miss the privilege of having Father Time and Mother Nature tell them what time it is better than any man-made time-telling device ever can. I received a sobering reminder of this truth just a few days before I composed this. The routine of everyday life had stealthily crept into my marriage. You see, “the two shall become one” promise of marriage doesn’t happen instantaneously and can take gruelling work. My wife and I were just sheathing our swords from killing a giant marauder so the lovey-dovey “I love you’s” weren’t being exchanged with the gusto we started off with. I hadn’t done anything major to honour her in public in a long time, which was counter to what I’d learned that good women deserve. I subscribe to this truth King Lemuel’s mother told him about virtuous women:

“Her husband brags about her and says, “There are many good women but you are the best!” Give her the reward she deserves. Praise her in public for what she has done.”

A few nights ago I tiptoed out of bed and went to post on Facebook in appreciation of my wife. If I pulled it off right, it would almost be the equivalent of sending her flowers at work. By the time she saw my post, it was past noon and I wasn’t even at home. However, her appreciation of my romantic effort was muted as we found out that morning that someone very close to us had just died. While my wife was in tears and my mouth was agape in shock, I realized that at the very same time that I was putting up a picture and celebrating my wife on Facebook, we lost someone dear who we’d been procrastinating calling to appreciate. In fact, as I was rifling through the pictures on my computer to pick the one I eventually used to celebrate my wife, I saw some pictures of the now deceased and was contemplating sending them to her, not knowing she had just left this world. Every like and comment we got on that Facebook post was a jarring reminder to love each other and make the most of every moment as we’re not promised the next.

So to those who hide their love and appreciation of others while waiting for the perfect time, this is your wake-up call. Don’t just add this lesson to your “New Year Resolutions for 2017” list; start it now! One thing I’m deliberately doing right now is pouring out my heart into all that I do so that I can be the best version of myself while I have the time to do so. I’m working on a project aimed at reducing the impact of hate speech online and offline in Nigeria so that as a nation we don’t repeat the mistakes that led to the horrific genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994. That’s my way of showing love to people and helping them stay alive to love others.

A sad thing it is when the sun sets on our lives and those of our loved ones because we failed to seize the day while it was day.

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Thank you for writing in Peter, here’s to a fabulous holiday and an ever greater new year!

 

Baby Fever! I’m a god mommy!

Posted: November 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

This month two people very close to me have birthed gorgeous, healthy children; a boy and a girl. Well, one person on the 31st of October and the second born on the 2nd of November. I’m excited I’m a god mother to both of them and for the honour of filling out the birth certificate for my bestie’s son!

I’m also happy to not be doubly pregnant anymore (lol) because, believe me, I joined in incubating both babies, more emotionally and spiritually than physically but just as demanding trust me!

Can we take a minute to think about how great God is? Like nothing says we couldn’t have been able to pick our children off shelves at a supermarket or mould them from sand just like Adam and his babe were made. Nothing also says we couldn’t have had to be pregnant for two years like , or five days like … It’s just really amazing, this whole birthing process, and I’m so grateful that two cycles started and completed without incident, and without any evil reports. Not because we’re extra righteous or deserving, but because He’s a good God and forever in the business of finishing what He starts. Glory!

I remember when I got the call about both of them being preggers. Both times I was reduced to mush (because I have excess tears I’ve been told), both times my heart was bursting with joy and pride (believe me, I understand that pride is a weird emotion to feel here but allow me enjoy it thank you very much). Both times I imagined what they would birth, but being an aunt to the most gorgeous nephew and niece, I knew I would be grateful for whatever sex we were given. Long as they were healthy, happy, and chubby (I have a thing for chubby babies – my late aunty Pat used to say it was harder for them to cry because of all the weight, lol).

Anyway.

So, babies are here, and a new phase opens for everyone. The parents (including Godparents thank you very much), the families (nuclear and extended), and indeed our society. I look forward to spoiling them, lots of kisses and cuddles, and watching them grow. I also look forward to sending them on tons of errands o, we’re not African for nothing!

Here’s to you my latest prince and princess, welcome. God bless you today, tomorrow, and always. You will not disappoint destiny, you will not bring sorrow to your parents; you will excel in everything your hands find to do. We will not bury you, you will live long, healthy lives and be everything God has destined you to be. I love you two, loads! Hurry back!