“The heart of man is desperately wicked” – the Bible is so true.

I saw something on Twitter last night that I’ve seen manifested in a number of ways online. People who claim to be friends, maybe even best friends have an argument and next thing, all their secrets are out on the web for the world to read, be entertained by, and store as arsenal for later.

The other, more troubling manifestation is the hilarity and glee with which people share the misfortune of others online. I’m sure we’ve all seen this but last night I was just shocked.

Some lady tweeted about her friend getting played by some guy she had basically kept house with. So this lady had cooked for the man and his friends, taken care of his needs, etc. and then the man left her, married someone else and now has a child with them. The amount of laughter emojis this so-called friend had in that tweet scared me.

Like, how do you take pride in someone else’s unhappiness? Is this for the retweets or you’re just really awful?

I tweeted a response, but by this morning the matter still hadn’t left my mind. A lot of us have been burned in telling our stories or sharing our burdens with so-called friends who do nothing to ease the pain (besides -oohing and aahing), but hasten to spread tales every chance they get.

Personally, this is one of the biggest lessons of this year: be slow to speak. We are the X and Y generation with social media, the ones who are expressive, the ones whose voices have been amplified thanks to digital tools. But, be slow to ‘share’. Be slow to by yourself, make yourself the dinner table topic. Be slow to betray confidences reposed in you, especially when you are angry or offended. Be slow to share that secret with another close friend. There’s a place in the book of Proverbs that says, “In the multitude of words, there is sin”. Technically, shut up a bit more.

See, we must protect our circles and our joy. Not to induce paranoia, but not everyone smiling with you is truly happy for you. Sometimes they’re smiling and just counting down to when you suffer so they can share the story and lol. Some so called friends are just staying close to have stories to tell when you fall. Awful people.

Brethren, be careful where you share your business.

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How you doing people? To my Nigerian readers, what did you get up to for the holidays?

I went to Lagos, spent some quality time with my best friend Wunmi, and her son (my godson, duh). Nothing like family!

Dodging the sun vs. basking in the awesome lighting! This is such a great and awful photo at the same time, lol.

I must also confess that my diet was abandoned (which is what good people do during holidays, lol) so I’m typing this from the treadmill, trying to redeem myself.

It was also a good opportunity for me to focus on myself, and the exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately. I’m grateful for the massages, the sleep, the absolute rest I was able to achieve. So thankful.

A bit about my best friend before I move on… She’s an amazing, real chic. Like, I know I’m going to contend with her swollen head later but she’s one of the strongest women I know, an amazing worker, even more supportive wife and mom, and I’m just thankful for her today. Get yourself a bestie like mine!

Okay, Wunmi worship done, here’s the reason I decided to write this. So, it’s still raining in Abuja for reasons I cannot fathom. It rained from 4pm yesterday till about 11pm when I fell asleep. Why? Sigh. Plus it was thundering like God was scolding us (anyone understand thunder-speak?) and totally defeated the ‘weather for two’ purpose of the rain. Just as well since Bobo is far away at the moment.

Anyway, so I was trying to get home when the rain subsided a little bit and there was traffic. Not the Lagos type of traffic that can last an entire pregnancy term but it was bumper to bumper on what should have been an express lane.

I trudged through it, and then around my area, I ran into some traffic as well. A little pissed off at the time I’d already spent navigating traffic, I decided to leave the inner (speed) lane I was on, and get ahead using the outer lane. Was quick for all of five minutes and then I realised I hadn’t factored in that I would have to contend with the ‘keke napep’ riders who use that lane.

I struggled in that lane a little bit, trying to avoid the keke riders who do not see the need to indicate but feel the need to stop abruptly wherever they please, or even the ones who tried to scrape my car in the name of driving rough getting ahead.

When I narrowly missed one of them rear-ending me, I asked myself why I was raising my blood pressure on a lane that ended up not giving me the speed I’d hoped for, and then quietly moved back to where I was earlier.

I thought about it before I slept last night and tried to relate it to everyday living and humans switching lanes thinking someone else has it better than we do. In truth, sometimes they do but we don’t know what else they have to deal with that we don’t. So before we jump into something we’re not ready for in the name of the grass being greener on the other side, maybe think through it a bit more carefully?

PS: I will blog more. It’s a super distraction while I’m jogging on the treadmill. Been using this app called Couch to 10k, I’m in the 7th week, and I did 2.5miles today (25 minutes non stop). Talk about progress, when I started I was barely doing 5 minutes without gasping like I was being strangled. Can’t wait to do a full 5k! Yeah, I’ve never done that before.

It’s been a while I wrote about my niece, my little princess. But here we are, again using her life and the things she does to draw analogies with our reality.

So, little madam is about 19 months old, with the personality and spunk of a three-year-old. She knows exactly what she wants, and derives quite a bit of pleasure from getting her way.

She’s also way ahead of the curve as far as new words and conversations are concerned. So no, she’s not talking philosophy, driving, or writing novels yet, even though I’m sure she can biko. As an aside, I’m now convinced I will be one of those moms whose children can do no wrong. Not to say they won’t get corrected when they misbehave, just saying they will fart and I’ll probably smell roses and patchouli. Yep, that kind of mom.

Okay, why am I writing this? So Talia understands what it means to put something in the trash – so biscuit wraps, empty Ribena packs, those kinds of things, she will drop them in the trash when you ask nicely (read as ask at least three times while she repeats what you’re saying). But, eventually, she goes and drops whatever item in the bin. Sometimes I can get her to go drop it back in the bin by herself, other times I have to be really firm.

The curious thing though, is that, especially for wraps for edible things, she’ll drop them in, then go take them out in another 3-5 minutes. She’s not trying to be naughty or difficult, but I guess she doesn’t just understand why something that appears shiny or pretty should be dropped in the bin. The interesting thing is even if I have a new, full pack of whatever she’s disposed of, she still wants the one she’s picked out from the bin, which she threw away in the first instance because it was empty, finished, done with.

And that last sentence is the thrust of this piece. As adults, we end up going back to things, or people, or situations we know we are done with; we know there’s nothing left, that no matter how we squeeze, the juice is finished.

But we’re afraid to reach out for new, to seek (and receive) our due. We’re scared of the unknown, and potentially not being satisfied in the new. So we go back, get stung (or unsatisfied), but keep going back. And sometimes God is beckoning on us, asking us to stretch out our hands and receive from His bounty. But no, we want to go back to the bin, because there’s comfort in familiarity. Even when we’re absolutely sure what we have in our hands is trash.

All I’m saying this morning is, a closed hand can’t receive new things, ditto for a hand that’s full (with, in this case, trash). Trust God today, that thing, situation, person He’s been speaking to you about? Trust that He knows the end from the beginning, sees the full picture, and has your best end to heart.

I hope you have a great week!

 

 

So, online media has had a field day analysing MI’s recent appearance on Osagie Alonge’s podcast series. To be honest, I avoided it; I kept on telling myself I would stay away from it, and I was successful, up till today.

A colleague played the #LooseTalkPodcast in the office this afternoon, I listened, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the bits I listened to. Tweeted a bit, even made a Facebook post on it, but the matter didn’t leave me so I thought I’d provide some more context here.

For starters, here’s the video. Make sure you have approximately three hours to set on fire, and note that it’s not suitable for work because of all the cursing.

Again, I’m not a ‘hip-hop head’; this is to preempt the ones whose only basis for disagreement with this will be “you do not understand hip hop, you’re not a hip-hop head. I agree in advance.

Fact: Osagie Alonge was rude; there are no ifs, ands, or buts about that. Also fact: MI’s calmness is #goals. Either that or he has a liking for masochism. If my memory serves Osagie has taken quite a few swipes at him in the past, almost, as it were, building (or attempting to build) notoriety off ‘critiquing’ Jude.

I thought I would take a few minutes to look up the word ‘critique’, because Osagie went on and on about people saying he was negative when he was only ‘critiquing’ their work. Here goes.

Critique – to evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way. It refers more to literary, theoretical or philosophical bodies of work, but stretches to other forms of artistic expression. It is from the Greek word kritikē, from kritikos meaning ‘able to discern.’

Where was the analysis? Where was the careful, structured presentation of fact backing the many wild allegations he made? Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Even law has it that “he who alleges/asserts must prove.” At some point he was yelling, “we have the receipts, we have the facts.” Where were they? The reference to his colleague as his data back up?

Yet, there was no desire to brook any facts countering his opinions. MI came back with a few statistics on album ranking, money he’s made off the album in question, etc., Osagie disputed them, citing the difference in demographics. So let’s get this straight – you make a claim (without facts), it is countered with facts, you reject the counter (without facts), but somehow we’re all supposed to take your opinion as law?

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Speaking of opinions, Isaac Asimov said, “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Emphasis on ‘your’ – no one is under any obligation to agree with you, even if you’re their fan.

I do not know that I would ever be able to sit through that amount of swearing & disrespect in the name of critique or fandom. I know quite a few Nigerian artistes who would have walked out, who might have even thrown a few punches.

Call me old-fashioned, but there are still standards for public-facing conversations, even private ones. Some might say interviews for podcasts cannot be viewed through the lens of textbook journalism, but do you want to be taken seriously or not? Hiding behind ‘my opinion’ or ‘I said what I said’ or ‘I can say this because I’m a long time fan’ to put down your guest is unprofessional. It was worse because both guest and the lead interviewer kept referring to being friends. Friendship? Who needs enemies?

It’s not even about my respect for Jude Abaga (which has quadrupled since listening to this); it’s about the decency of engagement that was missing. Talking over the guest, interrupting him the entire time, downright rubbishing his work, this was painful to watch/listen to.

In my short time facilitating learning around strategic communication and advocacy I always warn against inadvertently drowning out the message because of the language, the messenger, or even the design. In engineering it’s referred to as the signal-to-noise ratio; where the background noise adversely affects the strength and utility of an electrical signal. This was quite messy, overflowing with emotion, and lacking the coherence to justify doing it in the first place.

Finally, I probably won’t ever endure listen to #LooseTalkPodcast again; I cringed for all of the 90 minutes I got through. I probably don’t like music this much, or maybe my expectations for 2 hours 47 minutes are just too high.

It’s raining – the thunder woke me up, and I’ve been unable to go back to sleep. My niece is beside me, snuggling a little closer every few minutes, so much that if it isn’t morning soon she might edge me off the bed, or put her fingers into my eyes. Lol. Bless her.

What’s going on with/around you? I’m in Abuja, Nigeria and a few things are – there were floods in Makurdi, Benue State about a week ago, displacing between 80, 000 to 130, 000 people. Kudos to my friends Andy Madaki and Alu Azege, and everyone else who has worked tirelessly since then, collating and disbursing donations, providing temporary shelters and emergency care for the people. The Vice President finally visited the state (yesterday) the 6th of September, approximately 10 days after the incident.

 

In other news, Friday and Monday were public holidays to commemorate the Big Sallah. Tuesday would normally have been Federal Executive Council meeting but the Ministry of Information released a statement saying the holidays didn’t allow them time to prepare for the meeting. I don’t get it. From Boko Haram to universities and now resident doctors going on strike, internally displaced people in Makurdi adding to the IDPs we’ve had in the north for a few years (and the outbreak of cholera there), where is the urgency? I’m so confused and hurt. Nigerians are certainly not the priority for this government.

What else? Nigeria’s officially out of a recession. Difficult to celebrate that because one pronouncement doesn’t undo the suffering of the last 18 months. Plus, analysts say we ‘wasted’ the recession, have no clear plans for stabilizing or even increasing this growth, so we might slide back in again. Dreary thought. Ugh.

I saw a discussion on Twitter an hour ago, some admonition for women going to restaurants with guys and ordering the cheapest thing or at least what the guy ordered. Beyond rolling my eyes and wondering if women will ever graduate from the school called ‘How Do We Please Men Today’, I have no other comments.  It’s almost Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Looks like this year Christmas will be different; I can’t say how yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

What else? It’s almost Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Looks like this year Christmas will be different; I can’t say how yet, but I’m looking forward to it. God keep us.

Finally, I miss my aunty. Yeah, same one who died in July 2013, 6.58pm on the 21st. So much to talk with her about. Sometimes I wonder how much different my life would be if she were still alive. I don’t know.

What’s going on around you?

By the way, it’s still raining. Ugh.

PS: Sending love and light to the various locations around the world reeling from excessive rainfall and flooding, mudslides and hurricanes. My heart is with you.

PPS: Thoughts and prayers for the Rohingya in Myanmar. May we not see our heroes turn into oppressors. Aung San Suu Kyi I’m looking at you.

PPPS: The uptake of African rulers shutting down the Internet to drown opposing views/punish their people is scary. 50% increase so far from 2015. Togo’s just shut down their internet. Crazy times.

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.

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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.