No, this isn’t a ‘Dear President-elect letter’; trust me I am as exhausted with them as the next man. I am not exhausted with the trekking (and cycling, and swimming, etc.) though, young men and women traversing between states on in various ways in honor of their preferred leader, whether outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan or incoming Muhammadu Buhari. I worry about them, exposing themselves to the elements, the very real security implications of walking our highways, the health implications ( I don’t want to bet but I would be very surprised if any of the trekkers did any form of practice – in the way athletes do – before pounding the pavement). I wonder about hygiene (showers, potty time), I wonder about food and drink and their safety/security (I mentioned this again on purpose), but no, I’m not exhausted with it. I salute their courage in fact.

This is a ‘Dear Nigerians’ letter; one that we should all write ourselves, and our parents, and our children, and our friends and our enemies. It’s a letter to the man selling beef in the market, a letter to the female executive, and a letter to the chairman of a conglomerate.

The resounding rhetoric is we (or the people who voted/rigged for either party) used the ballot to demand better than what we’ve got currently, to unseat an incumbent; that all will be well because we have a new president whose unique selling point is an abhorrence for corruption. He will make everything ok. Perfect. People are starting to warn others that “Buhari is coming, better behave”, and the words ‘Buhari’ and ‘change’ are literally interchangeable. Sweet.

Who will this Messiah be working with however? The local government chairman who caters to his community in ABC state from the Federal Capital Territory, the man in charge of electricity for a region who owns controlling shares in a generator company; the woman who redirects money meant for youth corps members to her private account, the one who colludes with the bank to withhold teachers salaries for months on end so there is interest to share.

Our Mr. Incorruptible will be working alongside young people who think that a few important names in their phones or cheesy photos with high-profile people make them invincible, with people who think full spellings of the simplest words are too much work. He will work with law enforcement who are so gifted they can tell which drivers will give them ‘something for the weekend’ from a mile off, with religious leaders whose words of prophecy are dictated/inspired by the gift offered, with Nigerians who have been so deprived everyone sets out every morning determined to get one better over the next man.

Guess what? In four years we will be back here. In this place of frustration, of pain, hunger, of extreme queues for fuel and no electricity (at the time of writing this there hasn’t been power in my area for SIX days), of dwindling oil prices that determine the mood of our economy because fancy words and presentations and half term/end of year reports aside, we’re living off sod else.

We will be even more broken, and disappointed, and braying for this Messiah’s head, when we should be tightening the noose around ours for not being the citizens we elected in our President. We would be broken because the ‘office of the citizen’ we created/became aware of was more for the optics than an actual reorientation of our minds and consequently, our actions.re

This word ‘change’?

Starts from you and I. As we begin this journey today as a country to where we want/dream/hope to be, it has to start, and end with us.

Aristotle in discussing the three types of people who exist said “the common run of people betray utter slavishness in their preference for a life suitable to cattle…” To put that very simply, if we do not elevate our existence and actions from pleasing self alone to honor derivative from the happiness/growth/development of others, Nigeria will fail. Buhari will try, but he will fail.

Final word? Congratulations, fellow citizens of Nigeria on our election into the house of change. Let’s be guided accordingly, and God bless Nigeria.

I am an associate member of the Royal Commonwealth Society, have been for just under a year now. It is such an honor and a privilege to belong/be inducted into/volunteer with/ be called to be part of these prestigious organizations and I keep praying that I live up to the expectations my membership of these bodies bring.

So, I was informed by the headquarters that there was a commemorative lecture organized by the Nigerian arm of the Society (interesting because I didn’t know there was one) and I said I would attend.

Incidentally it was to hold on my birthday so I hoped it would be worth my while. The event slated for 10.30am eventually started an hour later but my minor upset was wiped away with the rendition of the national anthem. I don’t know about you but there is such a joy/deep-seated pride I feel whenever I hear/sing the national anthem. Is it the same for you? Sometimes it leaves me teary-eyed, other times I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have been born Nigerian (warts and all), and then I get teary-eyed again. Lol. My prayer everyday for this country is that our dark nights turn into truly sunny mornings. In Jesus name, amen.

Back to the event, I won’t speak about the parts of the events before the keynote address/lecture because Momma said to shush if it won’t be nice. Can I just say though that we really need to agree on the age for youth in this country? I don’t see how people who can casually have drinks with my dad and uncles are classed as youth or leaders of youth.

The theme of the event was ‘Democracy and good governance’ and the rest of this post is dedicated to snippets from the guest lecture delivered by first chaplain to the State House, Rev. Prof. Amb. Yusufu Ameh Obaje.

Fun fact about the former chaplain: the entire time he served under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he refused a salary the entire time he was there.

Fun fact 2: He wants to be governor of Kogi; matter of fact it is a calling from God for him.

*Nigeria has left the practice of democracy and has been practicing a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich for a while now.

Obstacles to good governance include:

  1. Spiritual blindness: there can’t be good governance if the leaders do not pay sincere attention to their spirituality, denying them any cognizance of the relationship between God and man, and man and man.
  2. The tripartite evil of wickedness, poverty, and ignorance. The former chaplain told the story of some young men he saw in 1982 in Ilorin, Kwara state breaking the pavement because their money fell inside. How much? What is this sum that will make you destroy infrastructure provided by the government for your use/enjoyment? N50.

He also talked about this evil we perpetuate when we drive – someone is driving slowly (most likely on the speed lane) and then when you try to overtake them and they can see an oncoming vehicle, they start to speed. Has it happened to you before? Have you done it to someone before?

  1. Misplaced priorities. Nigeria has no national ideology or strategic objective. What is that one thing that makes us inspired, makes us dream, or makes us do the things we do, not for self, but for the development of our country? Nothing.

In 1946, the North, West, and the East merged with the ideologies that political power, education, and material wealth (respectively) was the key to power/domination/all things. How many coups and elections after, the three zones still think the same way, and so we are where we are.

The professor, who has over 50 publications to his name also talked about the five things humans originally have/had no control over – gender, place of birth, ethnicity, complexion, and religion. Why then discriminate and fight with the next man over things you had no control over at birth?

Of course advancements in science can tweak two on this list… lol.

He rounded up with a bit of talk about what good governance looks/feels like, saying that the fear of God at the center of leadership gives it all the weight/responsibility it should carry.

Corruption first takes root and is bred in the mind before it manifests as viament, theft, misappropriation, etc. If a leader is strong in mind, it will be next to impossible to get him to soil his hands.

He ended by saying religion and politics are two sides of the same coin; religion being the spirit of politics, while politics is the body of religion; and that regardless of how we try, we cannot separate the two.

I really enjoyed listening to the Professor, especially since he chided the organizers for making noise outside the hall and then they would make the same mistakes the crop of rulers we have now are making/have made because they couldn’t suspend their discussions to listen to a lecture they organized! Choi!

Anyway, that was my morning. I left immediately he was done, and the rest of my birthday story is here.

Greetings from my lodgings in Earls Court, where I am holed up for a few days, trying to collect my thoughts, sleep uninterrupted (by my thoughts) for a few days, and just breathe air that isn’t disturbed by fuel scarcity, PHCN, or expensive data.

I went to church on Sunday, and guess who the Minister for the day was? Pastor Brian Houston! The man himself! No way! I was ecstatic! The title of his message is the title of this post (centered on temptation), and I hope it brings hope, light, and encouragement to you like it did for me!

James 1: 12-15 (and we read The Message version)

12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

13-15 Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.

There is no shortage of ways we can or are tempted for the sole reason that we are human. For every temptation, there is a pain/pleasure route that presents as options and determines if we have pleasure or pain at the end.

1 John 2: 16

Hebrews 4:5

12 things about temptation

  1. Temptation is a control freak and a manipulator. Romans 7: 18 – 20
  2. Temptation targets our weaknesses and our most vulnerable seasons
  3. Temptation reasons like a seasoned academic or an articulate debater. That’s why there will always be a ‘justification’ for sin. 2 Corinthians 3. Our thoughts lead to Imaginations, which lead to High things (or arguments in favor of the sin) which lead to it taking a Stronghold.
  4. Temptation rationalizes the irrational and defends the indefensible
  5. Temptation’s seduction is as masterful as its abandonment is stunning.
  6. Temptation promises like a friend and disappoints like an enemy.
  7. It is overwhelmingly self-indulgent and has no regard/thought for the people you love and respect
  8. Temptation is a mocker – mocking God’s plans and desires for us
  9. Temptation will inevitably come round for another round
  • Temptation magnifies the immediate and clouds the permanent or the eternal.
  • Temptation blinds you to wisdom and opens us up to folly. Proverbs chapters 1 through 9.

James 1:5

Here’s the thing though – we cannot beat temptation through fear but by the love of Christ. Understanding God’s love for us and His sacrifice on our behalf and living our lives to show Him our love is a great tool to triumph over temptations.

1 John 5:2

Temptations are rooted in our desires or passions but the truth is not all desires/passions are bad. So how about not killing them but repurposing/refocusing them? How about consciously focusing on God and things of God? There won’t be much room for anything else.

So, a few things

  1. Don’t go there in your mind.
  2. Don’t underestimate the power of our friends on us – sometimes we need to cut some people out of our lives because they help create a conducive environment for sin to thrive.

I was thoroughly blessed by that word, and it is my hope that this has encouraged you. Another thing during the service that touched me was the encouragement we got before we gave our offerings and I will attempt to share that with you.

The pastor read from Luke 15 (the story of the prodigal son) and talked through how sometimes it is our sacrifices in church that pave the way for others. So, the Prodigal Son had stuff to come back to because others continuously labored. So, when next you’re putting an offering in church, cleaning, or serving in some unit or the other, have it at the back of your mind that your service is preparing the way for someone else to come to Jesus.

 

Have a fabulous rest of the week (fuel, electricity scarcity notwithstanding)!

Light, love, and God’s many blessings!

*Written on the 10th of May.

It’s been a while since we had an interview with an entrepreneur and so it is with great pride and excitement that I introduce ‘Kayode Ajayi-Smith! He is a Social Entrepreneur with over 7 years cognitive experience in the third sector; and  currently leads a youth-led Non-Governmental Organization called Joint Initiative for Development (JID), famous for its Internship Connect Programme. So far, they’ve placed over 100 graduates on internships in Lagos and Abuja and in organizations like Dafinone Consulting, SHI, NOI Polls, CSR-In-Action, Goge Africa, and a host of other reputable organizations.

FGS: Hi Kayode! Very simply, the 3, 2, 1 series talks to entrepreneurs to capture the real life situations/experience of starting/building a business. The aim is not only to showcase their work but also to see that the next young person is spared the errors these entrepreneurs made because they now know how to get around them.

Kayode:  okay, let’s do it!

FGS:  Awesome… First off, what are three things you are most afraid of?

Kayode:  Number 1 would be not fulfilling my purpose according to God’s plan, 2 would be being a bad influence to the younger generation, and third would be marrying a wrong wife and partner but I am sure that has been taken care of.

FGS:  Ok, just to jump on your third point, are you already married or you’ve popped the question somewhere?

Kayode:  Yes I have popped the question; we’ll send invitations soon.

FGS:  Whoop! Congratulations!

Kayode:  Thanks

FGS:  Now, tell us about yourself, what gets you out of bed every morning?

Kayode:  I would say, it’s the need to make our communities a better place

I know I am engaged in other activities that all lead to that same goal of making our communities a better place. I guess that was why I chose to follow a career in the Third Sector (Non-Profits).

FGS:  And are you happy here in the Third Sector?

Kayode:  I am but it can be better.

FGS:  How?

Kayode:  Well, I think the sector needs a lot of accountability and legitimization; accounting and making the credibility of what we say we do visible. We also need to think sustainability especially in terms of ensuring that funding does not only come from donor sources but also from sustainable initiatives driven by collaborations with the organized private sector.

FGS:  What led you to grooming interns? Tell us about Joint Initiative for Development…

Kayode:  Okay, Joint Initiative for Development is a Youth-led Non-Profit Organization whose key goal is to increase citizens’ participation in the development of their communities. We are also keen on ensuring that more young people are involved in the development of their communities thus the reason the organization is led by young people between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. We have reached over 3,000 young people through our programmes, supported over 300 MSMEs and mobilized over 10 million Naira worth of donations to public schools.

 Kayode Ajayi-Smith

FGS:  How old is this business?

Kayode:  4years

FGS:  Wow! That’s a while… How many interns have passed through your organization?

Kayode:  The Internship Connect programme started a little over 2years ago. We commenced with a Pilot called Volunteer Training Scheme where we placed 27 interns in Abuja and scaled up into a full social business in August 2013. Today we have almost 150 interns placed in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

FGS:  What are two things that would make you change careers in a heartbeat?

Kayode:  God and the sustenance of my family.

FGS:  Ok. Back to the internship connect. What challenges have you faced with it?

Kayode:  Hmm, the recipients, and funding. By recipients I meant unemployed graduates. You see, our motive for starting the Internship Connect programme came from the rising unemployment figure in the country with youths being the worst hit. Private organizations’ constant lamentation of the poor quality of graduates from our tertiary institutions led us to find out what they really want and that helped us to develop our 2-day Employability and Competency skill training which helps unemployed graduates understand what the 21st century workplace requires.

I however think there’s a huge need to change the orientation of our youths and that of their parents.

FGS:  Hmmm. Explain please?

Kayode:  Okay, a lot of our graduates have a funny get-rich-quick or small work-huge-pay mind-set. This mentality has played out in all our interactions. We also observed that a lot of our young graduates are very lazy

FGS:  Tell me about that!

Kayode:  I will actually tell you. We started with collecting CVs from interns to submit to organizations; we observed that a lot of our graduates do not know how to prepare CVs. 8 out of 10 CV’s were rejected on average so we decided to organize the competency training.

After soliciting funds from individuals to cover the cost of the training so that lots of young people can benefit from it, they were surprisingly lackadaisical towards it! Some of them arrived 2 hours into the training

Sometimes, the facilitators (who work for other organizations and are around because we pleaded with them to give hours of their time) would have to wait for them to arrive.

We decided to charge a fee for the training sessions, and to our surprise (again) they started showing up, and on time too.

FGS:  Ahh! So you’ve learned something!

Kayode:  I must say that we have had quite a number of very good interns but we have had a lot of very terrible ones too. We once had an intern who we called a day to the interview (because the host organizations determine when and where interviews take place) and she said she couldn’t attend simply because we can’t give her just a day’s notice. Even when we informed her that it was at the employers’ request, she declined in an impolite manner and ended the conversation.

FGS:  Oh wow. Since you’re actively engaged with young people seeking employment, what is one thing you believe they should know/do/be?

Kayode:  I think for young unemployed graduates, the one thing they should know is, Service comes first if you must penetrate any system. I am and I still am, a product of service.

FGS:  That’s very nice

Kayode:  when I graduated I went to work for free and I walked my way into full-time employment. I have stories of several young people around the world and it ended the same way and even sometimes better. When you don’t have a job, I think it is best to be prepared to go work for free. It not only helps you to sharpen your skills but also helps you acquire new ones. It also helps you build a huge professional network, one that you will not get seating at home.

FGS:  Thank you very much Kayode for taking the time to chat with me today, for all the insights you’ve shared. Most grateful!

Kayode:  I was glad I could share. Thank you.

Kayode

 

Find more information about JID and internship connect here: http://www.ji4d.org/index.php/about-us and http://www.internshipconnect.net/whatwedo.html

 

First off, there is a reason why I’m posting this the morning after – the way I felt yesterday morning wasn’t exactly the way I would have wanted to feel when I was writing this so I said I’d wait. And I’m glad I did!

So!! How did my birthday go?

I took a couple calls past midnight, and then afterwards I couldn’t sleep. You know when stuff just makes you think about your life, think about what you’re doing with yourself and how you want the rest of the year to go? Those kinda thoughts? Yup.

Finally fell asleep about 6am, was up at 7.45am when my sister sang happy birthday to me. Promptly pissed off my nephew who wanted to sing first so we had to beg him, and we made up for it by carrying him downstairs to the car. Na wa. Whoever said parents are slaves to children didn’t lie! Not like I’m complaining though, this munchkin has my heart!

Right. After they left I made myself boiled potatoes and egg sauce, and then I walked a mile with one of my exercise videos. I would have used the Brutal Hiit one but my sides and thighs were still super sore from the routine I did on the 19th. Na wa. This #FitFam life!

Had a shower, wore a new dress (very simple and pretty) and then it was off to Sheraton for a lecture from the Commonwealth Royal Society. I made some notes so expect that post in a bit. After the guest speaker was done, I went off to ‘chase money’. Did some work for some guys and how many months after, it just seemed like it was taking a while. Apparently it was God who asked me to go there because the person who was handling my paperwork had gone on leave. And didn’t hand over to anyone. Why? I was out of the country myself a week ago but I was still in touch. Why do people do that?

Anyway, that bit sorted, I went off to two banks to sort some transactions, then it was off to Chloe’s Cupcakes to get bites for the guys at the office. I think they loved the cakes!! Found out later that the POS transaction which I thought didn’t go through, went through. So I paid twice. Will definitely go back there today. Guess what? I didn’t even have a cupcake!

Got to the office, did some delegation (always great to do that, especially when the hands are competent), and then I had a quick, cheerful chat with one of the best bosses I’ve had in a while. I got the biggest compliments ever, that I had lost weight!! Yes! Yes! Yes! I know, normally, I’m annoyed with people commenting on my weight (and Nigerians loooooooove to do that) but abeg, I’ve been working hard for the past three weeks and it was nice that there was any change. Whoop!!

Sped off to a quick meeting which I will sign off on at 9am this morning, and then it was off to meet my sister and nephew at our aunt’s place.

Was nice to play with her children and just catch up with her, and she loaded our car with fruits as we were leaving. Team #FitFam in the building! Whoop!

We went to grab Indian, took it home, sat on the floor and ate it joyfully, and then my nephew insisted I carry him on my back. I did, and he was asleep two minutes later. By the way, my boy’s class have a sports competition on Friday and apparently, guess who’s representing his class? Ahh! Nothing on earth is going to stop me from attending! So excited!

Climbed into bed, took a couple more calls, and then it was lights out. A truly beautiful, fun day. Friday, we turn up!! Like, all the way up!! Massive love to my friends who are coming in from out of town to share that day with me, thank you!!

All through the day people were calling, others were texting, Twitter went crazy, folks put up messages on Instagram, Facebook, everywhere! God bless you guys! By the way, I found (thanks to @MrBankole) another Chioma on Twitter whose birthday was yesterday as well! Talk about namesakes and birthday mates!!

I’m grateful for a new year, for life, family, the opportunities in the offing, the lessons I’ve learned, people I’ve met, everything I’ve been blessed with, and the miracles I see every day.

I remember this day! It was a concert just before the elections! With these two guys (there's one more, Andy), I can confidently look for trouble anywhere!

I remember this day! It was a concert just before the elections! With these two guys (there’s one more, Andy), I can confidently look for trouble anywhere! And it does look like a mugshot!!

Thank you Boss, the one and only Big Mo! Still waiting to come on your show!

Thank you Boss, the one and only Big Mo! Still waiting to come on your show!

Dearest Mimi!! Thank you boo thang!

Dearest Mimi!! Thank you boo thang!

My one and only chekeleke who's flying in for my party on Friday! Love you boo!

My one and only chekeleke who’s flying in for my party on Friday! Love you boo!

Hello brurva!! Lol!!! Only Henry and the rest of the 'family' will understand...

Hello brurva!! Lol!!! Only Henry and the rest of the ‘family’ will understand…

Ha ha ha!! I sacrificed the photo of me for the message Anino wrote because it totally cracked me up! Last year I did the Sky Dive, and this year I think I'm going to climb Kilimanjaro. Hence all the warnings!!

Ha ha ha!! I sacrificed the photo of me for the message Anino wrote because it totally cracked me up! Last year I did the Sky Dive, and this year I think I’m going to climb Kilimanjaro. Hence all the warnings!!

Welcome to November! Whoop! Like play, like play, we’ve come to my favorite part of each year, Christmas! Whoop! Even though technically we’re still like 40 days from it, I’m still excited!

Anyway, a bit about the last week of October and the things I got up to –this last week was super interesting, with lots of mixed feelings/emotions. Start from Monday, and of course I had meetings to attend, and general business to take care of. Met up with my mentor/principal, and spent the evening at an event with him and a few others. Good fun, even though I wished it ended at least 30 minutes earlier than it did.

Tuesday I did quite a bit of reading, prepping for classes I would teach on Wednesday and Thursday. See, I’d been invited by Gatefield Learning to facilitate at training for Nonprofits. Of course it had to do with social media, would I have been teaching them aeronautics or neurology? Ha ha ha. Great things in the offing with Gatefield, and I’m looking forward to a consolidation of that working relationship.

On the first day I taught the basics and history of social media, auditing the social media for their organizations and personal vs corporate communication via social. And on the second day, I took the class through a bit about mobilization via digital, focusing on ingredients for a successful campaign.

So, Wednesday morning, bright and early, JT and I pushed off to the venue of the training, and after standing (and talking) for two hours, I had a bit of lunch, watched a bit of Scandal (more like I binged on 3 episodes at once), and then I went home. I can testify to being marvelously helped, and I was on a high, ready for day two!

Screenshot 2015-05-19 14.27.08

Second day my class started at noon so I didn’t have to run out of my house early in the day but if you know me well, you’ll know I still ran. Lol. Got there, delivered my presentation, and had to leave immediately cos I had other things to do. On the way I chatted with a lady, fresh from university and she told me she was always scared of networking, the thought of meeting new people always terrified her cos she was scared of getting snubbed. It was nice to encourage her and tell her of the benefits these meetings offer.

Then, I went off to a 3pm meeting that didn’t start at 3pm because the person wanted to ‘quickly dash somewhere’. Meeting eventually started at 3.45pm, good thing was it was super fruitful. Couldn’t be more pleased.

Dropped a colleague off about 6.27pm, and then I was battling within myself whether to take JT to be bathed and primed, or to buy Indian takeout for dinner with the fam. Somehow the car wash won over the Indian and I went to give JT a good bath at one of my favorite shops in Wuse 2. Did I mention that for some reason, JT who would go from 0-80 in seconds was having trouble picking speed? I felt like it was God getting me to go slower so I didn’t bother.

I drive into the car wash and the attendant motioned frantically for me to get out of the car. I grabbed my laptop (sigh) and jumped out. Apparently, JT was smoking and my royal majesty didn’t notice!

According to them, I was a few minutes from a ‘knocked engine’ or even worse because the temperature dial of the car was hitting the red notes! My dear, the realization of how bad things could have gone pissed me off and made me super grateful at the same time.

After I gave the car dealer an earful, I rang Ace who dispatched a driver to rescue my now shaking self. Where would we be without friends who give life to being literally ‘a call away’?

Anyway, so the next day they fixed whatever upset JT and made her overheat and all of that unpleasantness. And I still grabbed my Indian that night.

I’m just super grateful for the mercies of God that kept me safe and directed my wheels to the car wash over the Indian restaurant (considering that I love food). So grateful.

 

*Written in November 2014

So, have you been following the story?

Part one is here,

and

Part two is here.

You’re welcome!! Now, let’s get on with part three!

Hello Johannesburg! Na wa… First thing? There was a certain coldness I saw with the officials at the airport, seriously. I can’t explain, and I don’t want to sound prejudiced to all the stories I’d heard about the place, but there was that coldness I noticed.

Anyway, so when it got to my turn I walked up to the officer and said why I was in the country and that I was leaving in 48 hours. He asked a few questions about my visa and while I was rolling my eyes (in my mind), I noticed some guy trying to explain away his life to another officer and the officer repeatedly saying, “ I don’ believe you, I don’t believe you will leave.” No the young man wasn’t Nigerian; his accent was from a region (in Africa) I won’t mention because I couldn’t see his passport so I’m not sure.

As I took my passport back and walked away, I wondered if they would bounce him, and what fine his country would have to pay. And then I thought about a world so equal (or close to equal) that people could come and go as they pleased. Sigh.

Got my suitcase and the driver was waiting. His name is/was Max, and he gave us quite the tour as we drove to 20 West, Morningside, somewhere in Sandton. Benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed so much money for a 48 hour trip; now I have to find/squeeze another trip to SA to spend it. I’ll explain this sentence later.

On the way, we listened to radio, and at some point a song came on which I heard for the first time in San Antonio last Christmas. Guess what I did? I rang my cousin Chuma so he could hear the song! Lol! Such a laugh.

20 West is beautiful. Repeat after me, 20 West is beautiful. It’s both a hotel and self-catered apartments, and somehow, because my room was given out by mistake, I was upgraded to a self-catered apartment. Thank Jesus for mistakes that turn out to be blessings. Somebody shout halleluyah!

I went upstairs, and after oohing and aahing over the place, I took pictures! Want to see? Of course you do!

2015-03-22 15.02.08

All of this and I’m just here for two days? Please, amen to another trip already!!

2015-03-22 14.58.36

I gushed about the view so much I forgot to take a picture! Lol…

2015-03-22 15.01.29

Err, my photography skills were not up to the point of getting everything in this room. I missed the shower (left the toilet bowl out intentionally though, nothing special there biko)

2015-03-22 14.58.24

Then I hid my #FitFam uniform in a closet and ordered the juiciest burger I’ve had in a bit, complete with an extra helping of avocado. And a hot chocolate ( I know, I can’t be helped). And then I went to sleep. Peaceful sleep.

2015-03-22 15.45.21

Look at all that cheese… get in there!!

 

Woke up a couple hours later, caught up with Ruth Aine (who I first met in Germany in july 0f 2014), and after I spoke to friends and family, had a shower, watched a bit of TV, it was dinner time.

All about the Braai

Truth is, I would have passed up on dinner if Ruth didn’t mention we were having a “braai”which is the local name for a barbecue of sorts of different types of meats. So if I said, ‘I want to braai it’, I could easily have said ‘I want to barbecue it’.

Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed. The meats weren’t super tender/exciting, and there weren’t enough options for it to really qualify.

Even the potatoes weren't all that...

Even the potatoes weren’t all that… Ah. Sausage was lovely…

But, the corn was super tasty ( we had a lot of corn), and Benjamin Mipanghi, the Food and Bar Supervisor said yes to our request for fresh custard for our brownies. That was lovely!!

You can never go wrong with fresh custard!

You can never go wrong with fresh custard!

He also told me about a local dish I know I’m going to try when next I’m in South Africa; it’s called papa and mogudu, which is a maize meal and beef/tripe/offals stew. Even though I’m not one for offals (you’ll never find me in line for ‘assorted’ meat), I’m looking forward to trying this one. Really looking forward.

Dinner over, it was back in the room for a bit more work, a bit more TV, and then bed. Not before I took this incredible picture (if I must say so myself) of the view of the pool from my floor. Incredible.

Incredible.

Incredible.

Good night everyone, come back for part four soon!!

I was at Winners Chapel, Dartford on Sunday the 23rd of September 2014, first time in almost 4 months… was good for me to have attended, because the sermon was brilliant! I enjoyed it so much I want to share it with you. And I pray it does for you what it was intended to, bless, uplift, and inspire.

Bibles out everyone!

The topic was, ‘loose him and let him go’, and the focus was on faith. The pastor started by saying; “there is no excuse tangible enough for you to remain under hurt and oppression”.

According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, we have the God-given capacity to triumph over every challenge we ever face; every time we refuse to take up a challenge it’s because of laziness, not an inability to surmount it. So says Proverbs 22:13.

3rd John 1:2. Ephesians 1:20-22; 2:5-6

Now, Luke 10:19 says there’s a provision for us to triumph, and hurt-free at that. Not pyrrhic victories as in the case of boxers where their battered bodies tell the tale of their wins.

Isaiah 11: 9

Psalm 91:1-7. Technically, our enemies would have to hit God to get to us; possibility of that? Nil. How do we get into that hurt-free zone though? We get there on the platform of our faith; violent faith. Matthew 9:29

Ephesians 1:3. Galatians 3:14. Faith is the only instrument that translates what God says to what we see; it changes the ‘promise’ to an ‘experience’.

Habakkuk 2:4. Know that we are not at the mercy of the devil, we’re at the mercy of our faith.

 

How To Operate Violent Faith

  1. We must get a word from God
  2. We must believe without doubt
  3. We must confront fear. Job 33:25

Hebrews 2:14-15. Every time I am afraid, it is a sign of distrust in God

So let’s say you’re trusting God for, let’s say a raise at work, and you’ve found a scripture where it says that the path of the just is like a shining light shining brighter and brighter unto a perfect day. You believe the word, appropriate it to your situation in prayer, and confront the doubt in your mind that no one in your office has been given a raise in two years because you know your case is different. Right?

Let’s move on.

Acts 14:3 – Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

2Timothy 1:12

Daniel 11:32 – When we realize our backing, we won’t be wavered by anything because we enter a strange realm of dominion. We need to wake up to our backing!!

Isaiah 53: 5

  1. Make declarations. Psalm 8:10. 2 Corinthians 4:13 faith that does not speak is fake!
  2. Engage the spirit of just men made perfect: taking advantage of the hand of God working in the lives of his servants. 2 Kings 2:12-15

So, back to our desire for a raise, now we start to declare that word, in secret or in the presence of other believers (because wisdom must be spoken to the wise). We can also key into testimonies of others (in the Bible, at church, through messages, etc.) to shore up our faith that God is able to do the impossible.

It is possible to see the transference of the workings of God from one person to the other, long as faith is in place.

How To Remain In The Violent Faith

  1. Be obedient. 1 Peter 3:13. Be committed to obeying God.
  2. A life of prayer ensures a steady hurt-free zone because then we keep hearing God, and that shores us up, makes us unbeatable! Ezekiel 9: 1-6

Do I already hear a prayer for the strengthening of our faith? I’m standing with you in prayer dearies!

Have a great rest of the week!

Right! So two days ago we started on the prep and the trip to South Africa via Addis Ababa for Foresight for Development’s Africa Roundtable. Of the options I was given for travel, I chose Ethiopian Airlines because I wanted the stopover story…

Good idea or not? We’re about to find out!

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We got into Addis about 8pm, and I was starving! We had to fill out forms with our seat numbers, country of departure, etc. thanks to Ebola, and then it was time to retrieve my luggage and find the bus which would take me to the hotel I’d been allocated.

Apparently, the name of the hotel was, ‘Ethiopia’. Turned out to be horrible. Jesus Christ! The WIFI only worked in the reception, the porter was rude, the food was (I cannot explain), and the room? On and on and on, I could complain for days, and you know I’m not exactly finicky. Kai.

Looks lovely, but believe me, this explains the 'not all that glitters is gold' saying perfectly!

Looks lovely, but believe me, this explains the ‘not all that glitters is gold’ saying perfectly!

Kai. I’m just upset. However, I bought a really lovely satchel I want to use as a laptop bag. Paid $10 for it, and the strap cut before I left the country. Tourist behaviour I know.

Next morning I got dressed and went down for breakfast before the ride to the airport. Note that I slept hungry (two bottles of coke helped, but only a bit), so I was looking forward to a good meal.

The 'orange juice' tasted like all those concentrates we used to dilute in secondary school, only that this one had been diluted waaaaaaaay too much! Ended up eating only the bread roll (with their sexy butter).

The ‘orange juice’ tasted like all those concentrates we used to dilute in secondary school, only that this one had been diluted waaaaaaaay too much! Ended up eating only the bread roll (with their sexy butter)… The other things I didn’t understand.

Left for the airport and the entire stretch there was a heavily armed policeman (more like army if you asked me) every block or so. Seemed weird, too much policing biko. Also seemed like everyone was running in one direction or the other (in the name of #FitFam), sometimes completely unconcerned by oncoming cars or bikes. I asked someone and she said the punishment for a driver knocking anyone down (especially if the person dies) is life imprisonment. Wow. Premium placed on the lives of their citizens as far as I am concerned; don’t know that it means people shouldn’t have common sense sha.

I was also told that you’re encouraged not to invest in the country if you’re not Ethiopian. Like, it doesn’t profit you and the government will work to frustrate you out. So much for foreign investment that Nigerian leaders are always junketing about for.

Ah! Before I forget, the sun rises very early in Addis! Like really early! About 5am it felt like noon… and there were a lot of people playing footie when we went outside. Looks like a lot of interest in fitness if you asked me!

I was excited to be back at the airport and away from that horrible, horrible hotel. Please don’t ever go there if you want a good night’s rest. The plane to Johannesburg was a lot better (did I mention in the first post that my seat was dodgy) and the food was lovely. Sexy butter anyone?

2015-03-22 11.21.40

On this flight I watched Penguins of Madagascar (love it), and B is for Boy, a film in Igbo. B is for Boy was incredible, and even though I didn’t like the way it ended (felt like the writer got tired and just wrote ‘the end’ in the middle of the story), it was a good film, telling the struggles of women trying for male kids because of tradition. It was very touching, the tribulation she suffered, and reinforced for me that in a marriage, the strongest tag team is between the man and wife. Not the man and his mother. Meaning that we (myself included) have nothing (or should have nothing) to do with grown ass men who great and intelligent and gorgeous and everything else that are, still work around connected to their moms via an umbilical cord made of heavy metal. Know any such people? Sigh. Back to the movie, it was really good, I remember tearing up at some point.

We touched down, and people started clapping. I was confused. No turbulence, no incident, nothing. Why clap? I mean I’ve heard tales of people clapping on the Dubai to Lagos route but I didn’t understand this one at all! Na wa.

By the way, Ethiopian ladies are beautiful. And their hips don’t lie! Gentle reminder for me to pick up on my squats, not about to ‘carry last’ biko.

Also seems like everyone is married. I don’t think I saw any lady without a ring on her ‘wedding finger’ Not one. Hian. Pressure us small small biko; there’s already so much pressure at home. Sigh.

Part three’s up in a few days, and it’s all about Johannesburg! Don’t miss it!

 

 

Sometime in February I got an email from someone representing some people I’ve been writing for for a little while, inviting me to a Roundtable Discussion in March. First off, I didn’t see the time to attend (was that busy I promise you). Second, I wasn’t sure if it was a hoax. So I clicked ‘maybe’ on the calendar invite and let it go.

Two days to the day when we were supposed to indicate by I got a reminder and then I read the email properly! Somehow I just said I’d like to attend. And then boom, invitation letter, choosing a flight path, any dietary requirements, all of that started to happen.

This is the chronicle of my first ever trip to South Africa, noting of course the trip (to and fro), the people, the food, the event itself, and any other business. Ready for it? Let’s start with,

The Prep!

So, I went to VFS to drop off my application, and there I found that my Yellow Card was expired (last time I needed it was in 2010) so I had to run off to the Ministry of Health, navigate the treacherous area (no thanks to road blocks and road diversions because of Boko Haram) and dash to get a new one. Dashed back to the Application Center and was told the processing would take 45 days. Lol… Even if I was trying to get into heaven! Let’s not even talk about the meeting being like 16 days away.

I got home, spoke to a friend who spoke to a friend, and I had my passport and visa back in 4 days. Boom. Thank you Lord!

Easy bit done.

The Trip!

The night before (Friday), I was at work till 9.45pm. Sigh (some days are like that). I got home, started packing, and dozed off (thankfully it was my little suitcase otherwise I’m sure I would have slept inside! Lol. I woke up at 1.50am to pee, and then changed my nail polish, finished my packing, went back to sleep.

At 9am, I joined Ismail and Seye to conduct interviews for a potential intern for the Abuja Hub of the Global Shapers. Very interesting time, even though I was shocked on many levels; that story is here.

Interview done, I dashed back home, flung my things in the cab, and dashed to the airport. VIKO car services need to up their response time walai. I’ve written about them before so I won’t waste space complaining but there’s no point saving 1000 or 2000 but gain high blood pressure because I’m trying to reach them or their driver! Final warning guys, SMH.

Brethren, do you know it’s easier to go to Europe than it is to travel to South Africa? Hian! First off, they looked through my passport, asked for my invitation, return ticket, hotel booking, etc., and then let me go check in (that’s never been done for me, ever). While all of this was going on (I had to get the hotel reservation I was sent off my laptop), some guy walks up to me and starts mumbling about needing my help. I asked what the issue was and he said his BTA wasn’t enough. When it clicked that BTA = money I was like huh? Then he says if I don’t give him money to make up his BTA he wouldn’t be able to travel, that he needed a thousand dollars. Lol. I smiled, and just walked away.

Later, I spoke to an official who told me that South African Immigration are famous for deporting people, and the cost is borne by the home country, plus a fine, all in dollars. So, it’s only natural that they are extra vigilant with people headed there. Especially for people who aren’t frequent fliers. So they wouldn’t be letting that guy fly. Eh ya.

Finished checking in, and went upstairs. Now, my time in SA was literally for 48 hours so all I had was my hand luggage which I didn’t check in. The lady searching my box in the departure lounge had whispered about ‘something for the weekend’ but I didn’t smile or acknowledge that in any way. Then she says I need to drop my perfumes etc, and what can WE do about it. Lol. I asked her to close my box, quietly went downstairs, checked it in, and came back. This time, she wasn’t smiling. Lol. SMH.

Now, I’d asked that my flight be booked through Addis Ababa each way, only because I wanted a richer story. Other options were to go to Lagos and fly direct via South African Airlines but that didn’t sound as interesting.

Then we boarded. My neighbour wouldn’t keep quiet, even after I put my headphones on. Why do people do this? He would tap me to say something, I’d reply, put my headphones back on, only for him to tap me again! Sigh.

Ahh. The butter was sexy. I remember it as I type; shame I didn’t note the name or anything. Want to see a photo?

Now that I look at it, the salad was lovely too!

Now that I look at it, the salad was lovely too!

So that’s one! Let’s look to parts two and three and four!