Archive for the ‘DAY 2 DAY’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appreciating the value of Today while it is today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My heart is full. Very full. Everyday I am reminded of how blessed I am, how privileged I am to be who/where I am and the countless opportunities I have to do and be better.

Today I am particularly thankful for TechHer, and all the joints that supplied, keep supplying and future suppliers.

In the past one year of ‘babysitting’ TechHer, I’ve met so many women at different levels of proficiency with technology, listened to so many stories and started on a truly exciting journey that culminated in our first anniversary event on Friday the 30th of September.

I’ve also learned a lot of stuff, from managing people all the way to realizing when I’m crumbling under work and in need of help or support.

It’s been an interesting year, a truly interesting year. From coding classes taught by the good people at LearnCode and TechNigeria, web development classes led by Damilola Olawale, our super legal counsel Nana Nwachukwu, and the other actors who have ensured we have done pretty much everything we set out to do, my heart is so full!

Post the event on Friday, it is very important I thank everyone who helped make yesterday successful, all the people who worked tirelessly to ensure we had a great outing. First to my team, especially Andy Madaki, friend, brother, business partner. Thank you for being the voice of reason, thank you for the ideas, thank you for always showing up or sharing off your knowledge and experience at our event. We are so grateful!

To the wonderful people at Andela, thank you. Starting from Iyin Aboyeji who midwifed the idea and never more than a DM or text message away, to Chioma Uzo-Kalu who hopped on a plane to be with us after exchanging emails, despite her busy schedule! Thank you so much.

To the best spiritual family anyone could belong to, HolyHill Church and Pastor Sunday Ogidigbo.  Thank you, Sir, for taking TechHer as your own, for the unfettered access we have to technical equipment and the expertise of staff, thank you for listening, for encouraging us, for always being there for us. Thank you.

A very big thank you to our partners who have been in our corner from the first day we opened the doors to our community. Jackie Farris of the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Center, Tolu of PlayHouse Communication, HolyHill Church, iblend Services, Social Good Nigeria, and the Swedish Embassy. Thank you for believing, for taking a chance on us.

To the great people at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) led by Udo Jude Ilo, thank you for coming through for us and the lessons on budget reconciliation. Thank you!

Hello Intel West Africa and the She Will Connect Programme, you guys rock, absolutely! Thank you for standing by us!

In planning our anniversary event we were introduced to a member of partners to collaborate with and receive support from. And here’s a big thank you to Aniedi and Mercy at Google Africa and the entire Women TechMakers community for their love, trust, guidance, and support.

To British Council for access to and the use of your space, thank you, thank, thank. And a big thank you to Ojoma!

To Mr Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communication Commission, thank you for your support.

To the people who matter the most – our community of smart, exciting, hardworking women. Thank you for trusting us with your stories, your needs, your insecurities. Thank you for being patient with us, for learning and growing with us. We couldn’t exist without you.

As we go back to the drawing board and unveil our activities for the new year, I invite you to come with us. How can we help you be better? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp (@TechHerNG) or e-mail us -hello@techherng.com.

Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

I think I’ve written about vulnerable people and metrics for giving alms etc.; how I’m more disposed to women with babies and people with disabilities over people who look ‘okay’ at first glance. I’m also more likely to give food /edible items to younger children instead of money. Just my thinking and how I feel those things should happen.

What do you do when someone shows up at your office though? Yes, there’s a story here.

Two Fridays ago, about evening time I was trying to finish up an application, write an article and send a couple emails; talk about being super busy! My team had just come back from facilitating a step-down training in conjunction with Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) and were putting away their things possibly to start heading home.

I was on the phone to Tata, when one of them came to say someone was waiting to see me. I recorded off the call and asked that she be ushered in.

Frail didn’t capture the woman wrapped from head to toe who entered my office and asked if she could sit. She did, and I asked how I could help. She said she came from Nasarawa State because hospitals were on strike and she couldn’t get her anti-retroviral medication. So she came to Abuja and after going to a few hospitals, got two months’ worth of medicines, and for free. She paused long enough to remind me that ARV are free from government hospitals once you have ‘your number’. I didn’t bother asking what the number was.

Anyway, bottom line was she had spent the money she had moving about and buying food and didn’t have any money to get home. She said she couldn’t beg on the streets and that God told her to walk and somehow she got to where our office is situated. How much was she looking for? N1500 only (less than 4 dollars).

I gave her the money, got my people to give her a pastry and drink from what was left over from their training and her smile is something I will remember for a while! Big, warm, and stretching from ear to hear. Then she prayed for us and left. Ah, she took my number too, said “so I can tell my daughter Chioma when I’ve reached home”. I haven’t heard from her since then, and I really hope she got home okay.

Now she could have just schemed me out of N1500, or she could really have been directed by God to seek help at our office. Either way it felt really good to be there for her and to not have had a plan or standard for that kind of request. May God wanted to disrupt this process of mine.

I dunno. And I think sometimes it’s okay not to.

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 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 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.

Screenshot 2016-06-11 07.30.12

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.

Screenshot 2016-06-11 07.35.37

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?

Whenever I hear the word ‘galaxy’, my mind strays to somewhat unfamiliar terms like asteroids, comets, intergalactic activity etc., and to better known terms like stars, planets, rotation and revolution, etc.

I wonder which of the stories we have heard or learned are true, if there was indeed a big bang (and sometimes how big it was), or if God created all we know and can see as the Bible tells us, starting with “Let there be light.” (Obviously I know God is true)

I also think of things like Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), and allow myself a stretch of imagination as to their origin and final destination. Are the movies we’ve watched expressions of creativity, or do they really exist? Is there really life elsewhere? Do they look like we do? What do they feed on, burgers, fries, or healthy greens? What systems of governments are in place, and have they graduated to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) like we did?

I allow myself to ask all these questions, maybe even search the web for any new knowledge. It would be nice to know an alternate universe existed devoid of the pollution we have in ours, one without wars, hunger, poverty, climate change, and terrorism.

So far that’s what they’ve stopped at though, questions.

PS: This piece was in response to a question, “write 150 words on the topic – Galaxy”