When I started TechHer in August 2015, more than anything I was interested in some sort of convergence point for women working in or around or with technology. In the same way that the ‘boys club’ exists and men grab drinks after work and that’s where the proverbial big decisions are taken etc., I wanted a community where women would feel safe to ask anything, say anything, and feel confident to be (or at least dream of being) anything.

By the way, if you’re female, working in technology, interested in enhancing whatever it is you’re working on via digital, please find us online – @TechHerNG (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or visit our website – http://www.techherng.com and stay in touch with us! Alternatively, you can join our whatsapp group; send a text to 09083041940 and someone will sort you out. Okay?

Back to the story. In the course of running TechHer I’ve been privileged to meet all sorts of women running similar or different initiatives all geared towards increasing digital literacy amongst women or enhancing already existing skills. I’ve been privileged to meet, chat with, sometimes share a stage with people like Oreoluwa Somolu-Lesi of W.TEC, Helen Anatogu of iDEA Hub, Aisha Bello of Jango Girls, Titilope Sonuga, Ambassador for the Intel She Will Connect programme, Simi Olusola of Abocoders, the wonderful crew at Women TechMakers, etc. I’m always excited to meet new people, listen to their stories, understand why and how they do the things they do, figure out how we can collaborate, and learn what mistakes they’ve made I can avoid.

One person I’ve been really fascinated by is Simi of AboCoders. Simi is a freelance project management consultant. AboCoders empowers young women from low-income families in Northern Nigeria with software development skills. They set up a training centre in Minna from which they have trained 23 girls and out of which they are training the next set of beneficiaries (40 ladies between 18 and 30), all on coding. They have also set up collaborations with 5 schools in Minna to establish and run coding clubs for girls in their schools. Exciting stuff!

Even more exciting is their Camp AboCoders, a one-week residential coding camp for girls that held in Abuja recently. It’s the camp I want to talk about though.

I was invited, with four other ladies to the closing day of their camp last Friday, and it was really nice to meet the 16 young ladies, wide-eyed, excited, and very interested in what we had to say. Something else I really enjoyed was the speed geeking session (which is the same thing as speed dating once you exchange geek for date).

So, I spoke to the ladies in different batches about TechHer, what we do, what the opportunities are, how they can fit into our community (after they cross 18, lol), and then all of us speakers had a panel session where we shared on our experiences from choosing careers, support (or not) from our parents/family for our work, to things we did we wouldn’t do again if we had the chance to go back in time.

I asked the ladies what they wanted to do with themselves post secondary/university education, and their responses were as diverse as they were interesting. I even learned something; someone wants to study mechatronics (be honest, did you know about that before now?) and she knew exactly why she wanted to do that.

Here’s the thing. Of the sixteen of them, only four have access to computers, and very indirect access at that. Whether it’s from business centers, their relatives, etc. I thought about it long and hard, and decided I would try to do something about it. Maybe not I, but we.

Here’s what we can do.

We can buy them computers. All 16 of them. We’ve searched, and a decent second-hand computer costs N50, 000. TechHer has committed to buying one, leaves us with 15 to purchase. Who’s in? Can we do this in 30 days? Please contact Simi (email – simi at abocoders dot org dot ng, Twitter – @SimiOlusola) and help us buy computers for these young girls. Please. We would hate to cater to some and not cater to the others.

My pledge on this:

I will do one update blog post when the money for the 16 laptops is complete, or when the 30 days are up (whichever comes first). I will also do a blog post when they’re handed over to the girls. One of the updates will include a receipt for the laptops purchased, photos of the devices, and photos of the handover.

Thank you for joining us on this. We’re so thankful!

ARIK: Shaking my head.

Posted: August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

So, the first part of this post published a few days ago talked about me going to Lagos for #TechPlus2016 and all the interesting things around that abi? That post is here if you missed it (you’re welcome).

I remember saying that the journey back home was a different story in itself, and I am here now to share it! Ready? Let’s do it!

So, we had been so well treated by the organisers, so well taken care of, I was fresh from church and that really lovely message by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, and I was looking forward to returning to Abuja, excited and refreshed and getting back into the arms of family and loved ones. Sounds simple abi? Lol… I don’t think I’ve been more mistaken in my life!

Our flight was for 3pm, we left for the airport at noon. Got there about 1.15pm and we sashayed to the Business Class check-in counter. To be fair, I noticed there was a crowd and wondered aloud about the efficiency of the staff and why people weren’t getting catered to quickly. Only for us to be told at the Arik counter that they weren’t checking anyone in, and that we should wait.

Huh? I made the mistake of mentioning to the staff that we were flying Business and then she said, “And I’m telling you that no flights to Abuja from Lagos have left here today; there is no aviation fuel”. My heart sank so quickly I felt it would take my stomach with it. Brethren, that was the beginning of what I will now call ‘drama in the highest’.

Nana and I took ourselves to a restaurant within the check-in area to get a seat, apparently seats were only given to paying customers. So we bought the most ridiculously priced jollof rice we’ve ever had, and we got seats. After we’d spent an hour there, we got in touch with the organizers for #TechPlus2016 and they said they’d send a car for us, and we’d just fly back to Abuja the next day. Bless them.

We decided to go to the other terminal to see if we’d catch a flight back (you can tell how eager we were to get back home abi) and it was even worse there. Airlines were pulling flights off their websites, touts were reselling tickets for passengers who couldn’t wait hopelessly for hours on end; it was a hot mess.

Funny story. One guy bought a ticket for a 5.10pm flight and then called his friend (maybe in the next terminal) to come get a seat on that flight. Friend rushes in and goes to the counter where he is told there’s no flight for that time. His friend comes to the counter and asks how that is possible seeing as he’s just purchased a ticket for that flight and then he’s told to hand over the ticket and get his money back, that there’s no flight at that time. Lol! Funny but not funny at all I tell you.

We spent another hour at this terminal and after turning down the touts who wanted us to buy economy tickets for about N45, 000 each and we wouldn’t fly with our names but the names on the tickets, we decided it was time to take our hosts up on the offer to stay in a hotel close to the airport and try to fly early the next morning.

By this time my spirit and soul was ruffled; I was tired and the fact that all of the discomfort we’d endured hadn’t produced a flight was even more frustrating.

We jumped in the car and headed out of the airport when we got a call that two Arik flights had just landed from Abuja and they’d be going back. Whattttt? We sped back to our original terminal and circa 40 minutes of pushing, pulling and shoving later, had our boarding passes. Phew!

Then the queuing began. I stood on a queue for about 50 minutes straight, brought us to about 7pm or so, and then it was time for everyone to board. Arik officials suddenly said they would board folks from the 11am and 1pm flights. God bless the two young men who insisted that they board all their flights or none of them. The simple question was, how do you ignore the folks who’ve been waiting from 7am and pick and choose who gets to fly?

That argument took another 30 minutes or so and plenty more pushing and pulling. There was a woman with a little baby who started screaming about wanting to get home; apparently she had been stuck in the airport since the wee hours of the morning (or was it the day before) because there was no flight to PortHarcourt. I heard she’d just come into the Lagos from having the baby in South Africa and had gotten stuck there. No showers, nothing. My heart went out to her.

We finally took off about 8.10pm, and touched down in Abuja past 9pm. God is a great and merciful God. And Arik is an absolutely rubbish airline.

PS: Did I mention they had threatened to call security because we were being ‘unruly’? Lololol. Jokers.

First off, two fingers in the air for period pain if you’re a lady reading this; it’s 4.40am and I’ve been up now for close to an hour because my belly is talking to me in ways I’m sure can be nicer and definitely less painful! In fact, can I get two fingers in the air from the guys as well, for obvious reasons? Done? Thank you very much.

Now that I’m awake, I started reflecting on a lot of things and first off is my round ups should be a lot more frequent! So I’ll work on that. A quick second is that I am blessed. Like, God has really crowned my year with good things, things money can buy, and the things money cannot buy. Especially the things money cannot buy! So grateful.

My niece turned six months old yesterday, and she’s an absolute beauty. Gosh! Just watching her grow, all the developments we’ve seen and continue to see, and her smiles. Sweet baby Jesus my niece’s smile can melt ice! Thank you God for such a gorgeous, healthy, happy baby!

In other baby news, our flu has cleared! So for three weeks or more Talia and I were coughing, runny noses, etc. Like cough syrup after cough syrup, one antibiotics course after the other, the flu refused to clear. At some point it occurred to me we were probably just re-infecting ourselves, lol. Glad to announce that we’re both fine now (the devil is put to shame once again, whoop)!

At the end of July I was invited to #TechPlus2016 to speak; had been pencilled down for two panels – one on cyberbullying, internet security in the age of social media, and the other one on increasing digital literacy for women. Both panels featured very interesting panelists, and I enjoyed speaking about TechHer, things we do, lessons we’ve learned and how they intersect with the topics.

So my friend Nana was a panelist as well, and so we were in Lagos together. I’ll attempt to chronicle the trip.

First off, that morning our flight was scheduled for 9.30am, and I had a prior engagement for 7.15am on NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) to talk about social media, entrepreneurship, etc. As you can imagine I had to be up really early to pack, head to the station to say my piece, and then sped off to the airport… Found a really nice, safe, but quick cabbie to drive me, and of course we’d detailed one of our friends working at the airport to check us in.

He calls and says that our tickets were for the 22nd of August, not the 22nd of July. W-H-A-T? And so the calls began to the organizers, they called the travel agents who booked the flight, we spoke to the airline, plenty talk. From no seats on any flight that day, to none for our class of ticket, to rescheduling us to a 10am flight that got delayed till 1pm.

We went into a restaurant to wait and encountered a very rude, uncouth man. Fathers and mothers, train your sons. Some things are unacceptable, including raising your voice or trading insults. Am I perfect? No, but in the last few days I’ve met some very uncultured young men. It is shameful.

Anyway, we finally took off about 1pm, and got into Lagos safely (praise God for that). Soon as we touched down, we were in the able hands and care of the #TechPlus2016 team, and I must take a full moment to appreciate the warmth and stellar logistics ground team they had in place to cater to us.

Got to the hotel, checked in, and barely had enough time to freshen up and head to my first panel. Interesting, intimate, just the way I liked it. Was nice to bump into my brother Chude on the way in…always a joy to see that man.

Panel done, we explored the exhibition area and I was so impressed! As a child of God planning an exhibition for TechHer myself, there was so much to be impressed by! We will get there, and very soon! I copped a ring, some bangles, and some gorgeous fabric, and I can’t wait to see what my designer #NitazCouture does with it! Been a long time since a designer/seamstress/tailor excited me, and it’s so refreshing that Francesca, head honcho at #Nitaz not only knows her craft, she knows my body and what works. So great!

Next day was easy. My session was about 4pm but we went to Nana’s session at 2pm and wandered off into the exhibition area again. We attended a few other sessions, including one with Teju Ajani, Frank Donga, and a few other people. Interesting how content is so dynamic but totally reliant on the principle of relatability. Can people relate with what you’re going to put out as a producer or curator? If it’s a yes, you’re on the road to doing well!

Sunday morning I worshipped with Pastor Ituah Ighodalo’s church, Trinity House. Amazing! It was the sixth anniversary of the church, and I remember the prayer his wife led, both in thanksgiving and committing the rest of the year into God’s hands. God is amazing I tell you. I had a great time, and I must visit again. By the way, their choir is amazing! Something the choir sang resonated with me so much, “my status is changing, no more decline, I’m on my way to better days”. In Jesus name!

Then, it was a dash back to the hotel to grab our bags and head to the airport. Airline? Arik. And that means that is a totally different article by itself. I’ll write it!

How’s everyone doing?

Good weekend? Ready for the week? This is going to be one of my busiest but I thought I’d take a few minutes and say a big hello to everyone, play catch up a bit.

So my niece and nephew were ill, one had malaria and a tummy bug, and the other one had a cold that stretched at least two weeks, and she still had it after she gave it to me. We spent small time in the hospital, and that’s where the story about blood donation came from (I published that recently).

I’ve also done a bit of local travel, looking forward to when I can take a proper holiday… I owe myself two – one for my birthday and the other because life is short and we should take time off to rest and be quiet when we can. Amen?

God dey.

Work is alright… Moved into a new office in June and we’re getting settled in really nicely. Really thankful to God for that, and the immediate possibilities I see for expansion.

Still on work, got two interesting referrals recently, a stark reminder that clients, no matter how little, matter and an excited client post your custom might make a difference as much as 24 months after. I’m really thankful for the referrals, and now just need God’s help to ensure that we beat the standards we’re being held to. Amen?

On Saturday I was privileged to speak at my church’s business/entrepreneur summit, and I drew my topic/talk from some work I’d done for a client recently. I spoke on minding the gaps and facing the direction of travel. Corny I know but it was a good opportunity to fuse my love for trains with my experiences as a student, an employee, and now an employer. It was interesting for me to talk about some of the lessons I’ve learned, and how each step leads to the next, and the next, and the next. It was also very instructive to talk about the place of God in business, and the mistakes I’ve made simply because I ignored the still small voice telling me no. I had a good time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

What else? I’m happy. Sweet baby Jesus this daughter of God is happy. I am joy-like-a-river, peace-like-a-fountain, love-like-an-ocean brand of happy. Such a beautiful feeling. Everything in my life; experiences, joy, sadness, mistakes, successes; everything that I have seen has prepared me for where I am now, and I am thankful to God for His many blessings and precious gifts. There’s a new mercy every single day! And I’m loving it!

Finally, I need to get back in the gym. Don’t know why I’m typing this instead of renewing my membership but yeah, this child needs to be back in that place where more calories are burnt than piled on. Yep. This week is out of the question sha, and I’m not bothered in the least what you think! *sticks tongue out*

Finally finally, lol. My nephew moves to reception next school session! Whoop! He’s officially a big boy now! Interestingly, he’s slowly outgrowing the millions of hugs and kisses I drown him in, and he’s only four! I thought they didn’t start all of that till much later? Arrrrrghhhh! Bring back my baby! *sad face*

Finally finally finally, I got a birthday gift yesterday… I know o, this is still for the birthday that passed in May. Is the Lord laying it on your heart to send me a pressie? Harden not your heart biko!

How have you been? Are you keeping okay? Are you doing well? Want to share? Please do!

Mwah!

PS: A song in the back of my mind for a few days now has been “we are h-a-p-p-y, we are h-a-p-p-y, we know we are we are sure we are, we are h-a-p-p-y!” (If you went to primary school in Nigeria this should ring a bell… or two… or three… or four… I’ll stop here)!

In March, social media woke up to a really startling story: a young girl, a 13-year-old child that had been kidnapped from Bayelsa, taken to Kano state, rechristened Aisha in an apparent conversion to Islam, and married off to a young man. The girl? Ese Oruru. The man? Yunusa Dahiru, aka Yellow.

The contradictory reports in the media were as frustrating as they were ridiculous. First, it was said that she was eighteen, despite her family’s cries to the press to the contrary. Then the poor child was demonized, something about her dating the man, writing him love letters, and being in love with him, like the word of a child on those matters should be acknowledged. Then it was back to the arguments about her age again, and how she was 14 years old and not 13. On and on and on, splashing her face in the papers, in the hearts and minds of Nigerians that choose, very conveniently what to forget, and what to remember and stigmatize others by.

Interestingly, while this was going on, a number of other parents cried out about their teenage daughters getting abducted, married off and raped. Yes, rape because that is what this is. Non-consensual intercourse is rape, compounded in these cases by abduction, and of minors.

Back to Ese Oruru, we were confused with the back and forth that freeing the girl and returning her to her parents threw up. A lot of conversation between her not getting released till HRH, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi gave instructions to that effect because she was in his custody, the Royal’s swift denial, convoluted messaging from the police, on and on.

Amidst hashtags, commentary in the press and extreme pressure on the consciences and sensibilities of people involved in the matter, Ese Oruru was finally returned to her parents in Bayelsa in March 2016; seven months after her abduction, and recently gave birth to a baby girl. A baby birthing a baby, rife with the risk of VVF, and the total disruption of her life as we know it.

Yunusa Dahiru was charged to court too, a five-court charge of criminal abduction, inducing by the use of deception and coercion, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.

We woke up to reports on the 11th of July that Yunusa, with expensive legal representation, has been released on bail and whisked back to Kano. The news story was garnished with a photo of this abductor and rapist at the airport. The end, literally.

Screenshot 2016-07-11 16.41.23

Some responses came back on how long it took for the alleged abduction and rapist to get bail, the constitution and laws being the problem, rape being a bailable offence, the quality of our laws and the attendant handicap of the judiciary etc.

There were also less sane responses about Ese’s case not being a peculiarity because underage girls get abducted and raped daily, it took three months to secure bail, and then of course the ultimate expressions of ignorance couched as insults or the representation of the matter based on ethnic sentiments.

Both sets of responses ignore the fact that we’re talking about a child. Both sets of responses ignore the fact this case already stinks to high heaven. They ignore the fact that by not speedily prosecuting this case, securing a watertight conviction, and dispensing punishment that is a deterrent to potential offenders, we have lost yet another opportunity to protect our children. We keep failing them.

I have written about child molestation, rape and other crimes against minors before, taking time to narrate not just the horrors the children have faced, but the helplessness the parent feel, and the stark failures of our systems to mete justice.

We have a Child Right Acts that took 12 years (1991 – 2003 after Nigeria signed the convention on the Rights of the child with UNICEF support) to go through the National Assembly, and more than 10 years after that, only 24 states have passed and given gubernatorial assent to the law in their states. That means that our children, the most vulnerable in our society, left unprotected and we do not feel any sense of urgency. Implementation aside, it means that the appropriate legal framework for the protection of the rights of our little ones is still a pipe dream. There is no urgency from the Judiciary or the Legislature whose job is it to empower the courts.

Unfortunately, this sad story probably ends here, and this statement is based entirely on precedent. No rehabilitation for Ese, no clear deterrents for the society because we don’t protect our children. No justice because we have a National Assembly that is filled with self-serving paedophiles who do not agree that people under 18 are children and so will scuttle privately and in public any plans to protect them. A National Assembly with officials who will uphold anything other than the laws they were elected to (and swore to) protect.

While Gambia and Tanzania ban child marriages, Ghana considers raising the age for marriage for girls from 18 to 23; we have popular commentary in Nigeria that posits that child marriage is the preferable, dignified and honourable alternative to child prostitution. The Giant of Africa lagging behind where it matters the most.

We can do better. We must do better. This 8th National Assembly has the opportunity to write its name in the annals of history, and we hope they take it.

First published on Premium Times, and on Future Challenges.

In 2007, I went to hang out with my sister in Ibadan for a bit; she was a house officer at the glorious University College Hospital, and it was one of those periods my dad and I couldn’t really agree on anything. So, off to spend some time with my sister.

Ibadan is an amazing place. Like, if I could choose, I would raise my children there. First they would learn Yoruba (yes I love the language), but they would also be exposed to the culture, the music (and the world knows Yoruba’s are the kings and queens of ‘turn up’); all of this in a cheap, ancient, picturesque-type (depends on where you are to be honest) city. I have very fond memories of/in Ibadan, memories that won’t leave me in a hurry!

Anyway, so at UCH they had this blood drive week, and everyday people were given gifts for donating to the hospital’s blood bank. I wasn’t really moved by it till my sister came home one day with her own gifts: a pretty jotter and pen, a mug I think, a can of malt, and one of those pin-up stickers that said she was a life save because she was a blood donor. Whaaaat! I made up my mind to go the next day.

And I did, got there early, and presented my arm for a sample to be taken. A few minutes later, the matronly, much older woman came out and asked

Nurse: Who is ‘Sheomah’?

Me: It’s me (excited)

Nurse: Follow me

(Inside her office)

Nurse (loud enough for the folks in the waiting room to hear): Are you on ‘ya menses’ (on your period)?

Me: (cringing) No

Nurse: Did you just give birth?

Me: (wondering why she has to be that loud): No

Nurse: Did you do ‘aboshan’ (abortion)?

Me: No. Why are you asking me these questions?

Nurse: Ah. Your blood is not enough for you se! How do you want to give someone else?

Brethren, I don’t know if it was the embarrassment, or the way my excitement was punctured, but I left the clinic feeling very inadequate. Why didn’t I have enough?

Suffice to say, I never tried to donate blood again.

Till Sunday the 4th of July 2016. My niece and nephew had been really ill for a few days, and we had to take them into hospital when it didn’t look like they were getting better. We saw the doctor, I endured watching my nephew scream and wail while the IV line was set in his wrist, and then we went up to our ward.

Can I stop for a minute and wholeheartedly recommend Angelic Care Hospital in Area 3, Garki to every parent in Abuja who reads my blog? The nurses are truly angelic, and the hospital is truly intended for little ones. The stairs are a bit steep, but that was the only complain I had. Happy, friendly nurses, very clean environment, and their food is not bad at all!

Away from gushing about the hospital, there was a woman with a severely jaundiced baby in the same ward with us, and apparently the baby needed an exchange blood transfusion which simply involves exchanging (in very little bits) the baby’s ‘unhealthy blood’ with healthy blood to stop the excess bilirubin from wrecking havoc. Yeah?

So the baby’s daddy got screened, but he apparently had hepatitis B and so couldn’t donate; the mom obviously couldn’t donate too. They were going to reach out to a relative to help when I offered. The parents were desperate so it was a really emotional moment, and then I headed to the lab with the nurse. On the way I prayed, asking God to please let my blood be enough, to let it be just right for the baby, literally every prayer I could think of.

We got there, she took a bit, and I waited. Then she said I was good to go! I settled in on a bed, and she brought the bag, needle, tourniquet, etc. Then I remembered my fear for needles so I looked away. I had said I would film but the prick of the really big needle stunned me for a moment; my sister explained the size of the needles ensures the cells are not crushed.

I still made the video, a bit shaky but a goody!

Donation over, I had to lie down for a few minutes, and then I went back to the ward.

The transfusion was done that night, and I’m happy and really excited to say the baby is doing better today. And we’ve made new friends. And I’m thankful I could be useful on such a personal level. It is such an amazing feeling, and I enjoin everyone to contribute to a blood bank close to them.

Even better, we’ve been discharged, and my babies are doing a lot better! God is great!

 

 

 

I made a few friends yesterday (all of them much younger than I am), and created memories that will stay with me for a very long time.

I talk about my church, HolyHill Church a lot, first because of the Word of God I’m exposed to there, and second because of the focus on charity the church has. Such a focus on charity and the community, and I am very proud to be associated with them. Matter of fact, my pastor, Sunday Ogidigbo once said it was better to give to charity than to give to the Pastor, saying God would ask about the former, not the latter (Matthew 25: 35-40).

And it’s not the pretty, applause-hungry rhetoric that is rife in churches these days, my church actually has a charity arm (www.hrelieff.org) that is focused on education, agriculture, medical and shelter support, and economic empowerment.

To be honest, the focus unit I know and have interacted with properly is the relief arm, and I am forever grateful for the privilege. I’ve dropped a (download) link to the HRelieff-2015 NewsLetter so you can have a read for yourself, while I tell you what I got up to yesterday.

So, there are 10 children I’ve been ‘catering’ to, students of Government Secondary School, Jiwa. More girls than guys, and all of them in junior secondary school. Most students have closed for summer holidays, and when I received their term reports/results, I wondered what they would do for the holidays. To be honest, we’re still thinking. Any ideas? Let me know.

Anyway, so I decided it would be nice to meet them, and HRelieff graciously facilitated the logistics of their coming to Silverbird Entertainment Center. I was really nervous (I don’t know why) but I was also really excited as well.

We met, and it was super awesome to match the names in a document to real people with real stories, real dreams, and real smiles. Real dreams. One of them wants to be a banker, another one an accountant, a scientist (because she loves the moon, sun and stars and likes looking into the sky to understand it); another one wants to be a footballer, and one of them wants to be a soldier. He said his father was a soldier who died in battle, and he has his father’s uniform in his bag at home. He’s 20 years old, and the only thing keeping him from applying is the fact that he isn’t tall enough yet.

Apart from asking him if he was eating enough beans, I tried to get him to aspire to be a lot more than a recruit, which is what he wants to be. Interestingly, he’s also an aspiring fashion designer, and wants to join the people sewing army uniforms. Again, I tried to get him to aspire to being the owner of the tailoring shop where the army uniforms are sewn (he beamed when I painted the picture of him being the boss, having people sew for him, and getting job orders to make for the army nationwide). Ehen. Death to small dreams biko.

Then, they went in to see a movie (Teenage Mutant) armed with popcorn and sodas, and I dashed downstairs to have a quiet, yet fun lunch with a very dear friend of mine. We talked about the children (they’re about 80 on average per class, despite having several arms) and he spoke about investing in the teachers as much as investments are being made in the children. And he’s interested in paying for extra teachers on a permanent basis for the school. Glory to God! Whoop! I have since relayed the message to the good people at HolyHill Relief, and I’m looking forward to us jumping on this offer soon!

Movie (and my lunch) done, we headed to Chicken Republic to grab some lunch they’d take home (much as I wanted to hang with them a bit more, it was super important to me that they got home while there was still light in the sky.

They got me a card, a beautiful thank you card that was as emotional as it was hilarious, with the varied spellings of my name. God bless them!

Amazing Saturday, very well spent. And I look forward to seeing my babies again soon.

Have a great week!

PS: This post is devoid of photos on purpose.

PPS: You can sponsor children through school too, or even join the volunteer teacher squad! I did that for a while but my insane schedule did not allow my greatness shine through. Visit the website, tweet @HRelieff, or call any of the numbers in the newsletter for more information.

 

So, this is the year of doing things I haven’t done before. A number of them I won’t talk about till I’ve done them, but some others I can share, including my plans to run a half-marathon. 21.0975 kilometres. Yep.

Stop. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. I know it sounds like a lot (and it is, who am I kidding?) but yeah, I want to do it. According to experts, the best way to get that done, is to run 5km first, and then build up from there.

Brethren, up till Sunday, the 26th day of June 2016, I’d never done that before. I remember trying to run with Tokes one morning in London; I ended up blogging about the scenery and how I threw up, hurt my knee, developed a headache, let’s just say I wasn’t very successful!

To be fair, I love to walk. I’ve walked 19 kilometres before (Look at my Instagram if you’re a doubting doubter) but running is a problem. Not only because I’ve got a bum right knee (no I’m not making excuses) but also because it’s not something I really took to. And I want to change that. Plus I hear the cardio from running is super, and I need to drop a few more kilos, raise my stamina/endurance levels, all the good things.

So this time, I was pumped! Whaaaaat!! Get it girl! I had tweeted about wanting to run the half-marathon and gotten a few people who had offered to train me, including Bosun Tijani of CCHub and Truppr. If you’re in Abuja, Lagos (I think pretty much everywhere in Nigeria to be honest) and thinking of a FitFam family that allows you to pick and choose events (and even create some) that you’d truly be interested in, I suggest you download the app. Yeah?

Anyway, so Bosun had created a 5km event on the app, and the date was Sunday, time 5pm. Boom! I went to church that morning, clocked a meeting afterwards, went to the car wash (my darling nephew had created a biscuit and ribena explosion in the back of the car), and then ran home, ate lunch, sent a couple emails, and headed to Sheraton, where we were to meet.

Some other Truppr folk showed up, and interestingly, I saw an old friend I hadn’t seen in like 6 or 7 years. She was checking into the hotel and apparently had seen me outside so came over to say hello. She ended up going up to her room to change, and then coming back to join us!

This is where it becomes fun. I was so pumped. Like I had tweeted, some people had tweeted support, I was dressed warm cos it was a bit nippy out to be honest, playlist was ready, calorie and heart rate monitor checked, I was ready! I even downloaded another app, Runkeeper which should ‘train’ me to run by keeping track of the runs and times etc.

Then we started. First kilometre was alright, I was playing YCee’s ‘Jagaban’, Phyno’s ‘Fada Fada’ and a few other songs that are boosters so I was alright.

1.5km? My heart nearly stopped. Dang! I didn’t believe there wasn’t something wrong with me. Of course I stopped running, started walking. Of the six of us who ended up running, I think it was only Bosun and Shola who didn’t take walk breaks. Of course I took the longest walk break.

At some points (while I took the walk breaks) I was tweeting… Maybe I should share.

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Lol… I remember the panic I felt. Thinking of it now makes me chuckle, but I actually panicked!

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Please, don’t even judge. Look at this photo and move on, God bless you.

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What!!! Cue Kanye West’s ‘Touch the sky’, R.Kelly’s ‘World’s greatest’ and other songs in that category!

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Yeah….

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Anyway, we got the 5k in, and I’m really excited about that. Plus, I made a few cool friends, and I’m looking forward to my next run. It might be this Wednesday if I can make out time, or I’ll create an event and see who else wants to get this in.

A few more photos…
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So, that’s it! I can’t wait to get to the point where I’m running the entire stretch non-stop! Whoop!

So this past week has been filled with people dying or the remembrance or interment of dead people. Not anyone I knew personally, but you all know how I get about death. It’s the sharpest wake up call for everyone, myself inclusive.

First off, Stephen Keshi passed on the 8th of June, he wasn’t up to 60. Keshi holds quite a few awards and records (which I’m sure you all already know so I won’t go into them). He is however the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, and the second person in history to win the competition as a player and as a coach after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt when he led the Super Eagles to win the tournament in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Whoop!

His wife of 35 years passed on sometime last year (she had cancer), and news reports say he never really recovered from her death. News reports also say he had a heart attack. A few things.

  1. His four children are now orphans (incredible how one event has now changed the course of events for their children)
  2. Even people who gave him great grief as coach for Nigeria’s football team were singing his praises after he passed.

The 8th of June is the anniversary of former military dictator Sani Abacha. He died in 1998. I think everything I think about that is summarised in this tweet I pushed out same day.

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Then, last night I watched the memorial service for Muhammad Ali, an inter-faith service in his hometown Louisville Kentucky and attended by the leaders of just about every religion. I read somewhere (and I think Lonnie Ali, his wife mentioned it too) that he had planned his funeral this way, just like he planned his mom’s.

Quick recap from the BBC’s website about Ali.

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I don’t think I’ve watched a ‘richer’ memorial service, overflowing with stories about this one man who was and will always be the greatest. Everyone talked about how he had helped, inspired, rewritten the rules, stood for what he believed in, on and on, and on; his vanity and great sense of humor not excluded. It was really beautiful and makes me want to do so much more with my life. So much more.

Then, this morning, just seen on Twitter that the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amodu Shuaibu, has passed on, aged 58. Apparently he complained of pain in his chest last night, and didn’t wake up this morning.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead, and I pray God in His mercies provides the comfort and strength that only He can.

We need to have an urgent national conversation about life expectancy in Nigeria, and healthcare services beyond the workshops, conferences, and stakeholder meetings that do not achieve anything tangible beyond per diem and pretty stationery.

A bigger conversation we need to have within ourselves is the one about what we’re doing with our time here, and what we want to be remembered for. And also about life being short and therefore striving to make every single day count.

I heard this quote last night; John Ramsey, family friend and former radio host said Muhammad Ali used to say, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” He said Muhammad not only paid his in full, he’d paid it forward.

What’s up with your rent?

First off, it was my birthday at least two weeks ago (say hello to thirty, whoop) but that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about another birthday. This blog is six years old! Screenshot 2016-06-02 09.52.06I remember the first time I ever blogged about anything. It was on Facebook, in the ‘notes’ section sometime in 2008. I called it Chronicles of the Fairy GodSister and I remember that post was about a Chinese affinity for warm water during and after meals someone had forwarded to me. I didn’t want to forward it on (I’ve never been a fan of mass-forwarded messages), so I decided to flip it a bit.

Interestingly, and I’ve said it before, by the time I registered my first blog on blogspot later that year, I chose ‘Fairy GodSister’ because I wanted to be able to deny it if people didn’t like the things I wrote. Lol. And then when I got tired of the chains that blogspot comes with, it was time to move here. And I did. Six years ago.

Whoop! A lot of things have happened in six years, in my career, school/education, family (my niece and nephew were born, for one), relationships, life and death have happened. And I’m thankful for all the experiences and lessons I’ve learned along the way.

I’m also thankful for people who have read this blog, who have come to know me because of this blog. I remember one time someone took a few weeks and read EVERY single thing I ever published here. How did I know she read? She commented on all of them. Yep. At the time I had over 280 pieces. And she read them all. Gotta be thankful for people like that, and everyone else who either joined along the way, or has been a fan from jump.

I’m also thankful for the folks who have lent their voices and stories to my #31Days31Writers series, the ones who have opened up themselves and their businesses/enterprises to be interviewed, the ones who have trusted me to tell their stories. Thank you.

To the ones who would message me when for one reason or the other I didn’t write as often as they expected, thank you for checking on me, and ensuring in your own way that dust didn’t gather (too much) on the url. Lol.

Happy birthday to The Fairy GodSister. Here’s to many more years of writing, of sharing, of chronicling.