Archive for the ‘DAY 2 DAY’ Category

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.

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!

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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

About 13 years ago, I was playing with Momma’s luscious locks (my mother has gorgeous hair), and I noticed isolated strands of grey. Guess what? I started crying. Quietly at first, but because all mothers have eyes at the back of their heads, she asked why I was crying. Of course I immediately became louder.

But why was I crying? I didn’t want my mother to get old. *smile*

She comforted me, we cuddled, and then she told me everything I already knew – everyone gets old, white hairs are a sign of increasing grace and wisdom, and all those other nice things. All I could see however was my mother getting old and leaving me. And I was terrified to the heavens!

My mom’s a PhD holder, defended her thesis at the ripe age of 61, and I couldn’t be prouder of this unending miracle God gave to us.

However, this song is not about her. It’s about me, and the white hair I now have!

Hian!

So I looked in the mirror yesterday morning after my shower, admiring the beauty that God took his time to mold, and while I was trying to decide what next I want to do with my hair (been through the #TeamNatural, #TeamLocks, and all the other ‘team’ phases) and there it was. Right in the middle of my head, this long, silver strand. Shock, curiosity, awe, fear; I felt them all at once.

“I have white hair”, I tweeted, like I was trying to confirm that to myself.

Here are some of the responses I got.

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I’m turning 29 in a few short weeks (whoop) so obviously the white hair is waaaaaaaaay before it’s time but I’d be lying if I said seeing it didn’t make me stop and think for a minute, ask myself a few questions I will now share with you.

  • What am I doing with my life?
  • Am I happy?
  • Is God proud of me?
  • Am I on the way to where I want to be?

Yeah, that’s it, didn’t want to overthink one strand of hair biko. I’m happy with the answers to those questions, and there’s a fresh resolve to cater to the ones I wasn’t that happy with.

So, what next? Maybe dye a few more strands white?

*wink

 

 

On the 14th of January I attended a parley between 36 young people and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), organized by the Abuja Hub of the Global Shapers Community. The event, which doubled up as the launch of the AMANA Initiative and the Abuja Dialogue Series, was hosted by the U.S. Embassy Abuja. The Commissioner of Police (CP) for the FCT, Wilson Inalegwu, came through with the force PRO, and some other members of his team.

The Cultural Affairs Officer at the Embassy, Bob Kerr, received us, and soon after the introductions were done, the question and answer session began. I made note of things that really stood out for me, and I’ve reproduced that below.

Q: What’s the relationship between the NPF and young people in Abuja?

A: Quite cordial except when they get involved in unwholesome behavior. Apprehension and arrests are never pleasurable events.

On the elections, the CP said the NPF was more than ready to ensure people across the country could go out and cast their votes without fear or concern for their safety. He said we would have noticed, “Already, motorized, static and mobile policing has been increased around the country”.

He also talked about the collaborative nature of the work between all the security agencies, giving an example with the relocation of Internally Displaced Persons  (IDPs) affected by the insurgency in the North East to camps in Abuja. He said the Department of State Security (DSS), military, police, civil defence, etc. worked together to register people so that fleeing combatants and terrorists wouldn’t be able to infiltrate the camps.

The Commissioner admonished young people to eschew (and I hate to sound like I’m writing for a Nigerian newspaper) political thuggery, drugs, and bad behavior.

In response to a question about the time it takes the police to show up when they are called, the police boss said community policing meant it was everyone’s responsibility to secure their areas, and be vigilant. Why? Simple reason is because the police cannot be everywhere at the same time. There are less than 16, 000 officers covering Abuja (morning/working population of about 4.5 million people, reducing in the night-time when people have returned to their homes within and outside the territory). For the entire country, there’s about 387, 000.

What else? Yes, on killings of civilians vs. killings of police officers, the CP said, “the NPF does not condone extra-judicial killings. It is their duty to apprehend, link the accused with the crime, and charge them to court, or let them go. They are only allowed and empowered by law to defend themselves to the full extent.” He also talked about various checks and balances in place to curb excesses and urged us to use the available helplines, Human Rights Desks within the police stations, and the Public Relations Officers to air our grievances.

One of the questions thrown at the Police Commissioner was about the welfare packages of force men who died while carrying out their duties. He said their families would receive N100, 000 towards burial costs, a minimum of five hundred thousand naira minimum insurance, and death gratuity. He also mentioned schemes like Police Officers Wives Association (POWA), and the Police Reward scheme that cater to the family of deceased officers. He acknowledged it wasn’t enough but said like other things that needed fixing, this was being reviewed.

Out of the tons of questions he had to cater to, the commissioner mentioned that they were in talks with Microsoft to develop an app that using geo-tagging, would enable residents reach the police in an emergency, pinpointing their exact location and therefore reducing reaction time. Nice! Amen to development, even though I remember saying he didn’t need to go all the way to Microsoft. Nigeria has more than enough developers to deliver on that!

Finally, the CP shared the helpline numbers for the police (08061581938, 08028940883, 08032003913) pending when they sort out their short code numbers. Store them, and even though the general hope/idea is you don’t have an emergency, there’s nothing as comforting as knowing you have the police close by if you do!

PS: Originally written for and posted on the Global Shapers Website.

First off, no it’s not yet 2015 where I am, still got like 3 hours to go…so start the party without me! Can I just digress real quick and say I can imagine God is having an absolute laugh with these time zones? I think it is genius (of course it is, God is behind it) even though it is one of the hardest things for me to work through!

Anyway, let’s talk about 2014, wrap it up real quick. 2014 was super interesting for me, like really, really interesting. I remember that at the end of December 2013, I was just relieved the year was over and nothing else could go wrong. The things my eyes saw, dang – I’m sure I was the definition of pain, patience, long-suffering, and endurance. I lost people really close to me to death, accidents, etc., and I remember one day I was at the point King David was in the Bible where it said “he cried till he had no more power to weep”. Like I was so cried out, I couldn’t be paid to produce a tear!

Not saying there wasn’t any joy in the year o, of course there was. Just that balanced on a scale, the unhappy easily outweighed the happy (same way everything this current government can claim it has achieved falls flat on its face when it is mirrored against the insurgency/insecurity plaguing the country). People, events, family, friends made 2013 special, there were bright spots in 2013 but it was a difficult year. It was.

Blessed  be God however who causes us to forget the sorrows of the former years, whose love and mercy cancels out our transgressions and qualifies us of things we otherwise wouldn’t be deserving of in a million years. Yup! That’s the God I serve!

In January I felt such a strength within, felt like I knew exactly what I wanted to do with myself – the heights I wanted to attain, the circles I wanted to roll in, and generally, I projected what I wanted to be writing about now. That inner strength carried me through the entire year.

“From your lips to God”s ears” was more than a saying for me this year – I saw/handled things I didn’t even think I was ready for. Like, at some point I was cancelling/rescheduling holidays because I had to accommodate new work! I woke up one day in April and looked at my calendar, and it made me smile. A big, toothy, cheshire-cat type smile…little did I know God hadn’t even scratched the surface of things He had lined up for me!

From addressing 60+ people from three continents at The Hague, to that speaking engagement at the House of Lords, to starting a teaching career (social media of course) both professionally and to youths at church, to working with a team to write a book in 5 days, it didn’t stop. On, and on, and on. God used people to open up fresh opportunities, to push me, force me to be/do better, to push myself, to keep at it. Dr Titi Banjoko, Justina Mutuale, Emilia Asim-Ita, Jacque Onalo, and all the others, God bless you!

And when I crashed in November, God healed me. I was exhausted, my body was screaming for rest. I remember waking up one day and having a mini panic attack because I felt overwhelmed. But God was there, and He healed me, showed me what/how to get through it. And I’m grateful.

My family? Rock solid. Love em to bits! My baby boy is advanced way beyond his age, speaks clearer than any two-year old I know/I’ve known. God is increasing all of us on every side. Momma finished her PhD this year (at 62, whoop); Grace and Progress Family Chapel was born this year too, and is doing great! God is building His church, and nothing can stand against it! I love, love, love you guys!

To Tokes, who knew that meetings in December 2013 would forge a bond so strong we now feel like we’ve known each other for years? Wunmi, bestie of life and destiny, whatever would I do without you? Our latest iyawo!! To Francesca, my personal support system and human chill pill, thank you for sharing your house and heart with me, for real talk, and for that Sunday in April you prayed for me when I literally fell apart. To my sister Adaora, thank you, thank you, thank you. Chief Sista, I just love you. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, I  do!

To every man of God whose word blessed my life, whether in person or online, God bless you. I never sat under a teaching that didn’t bless me, and for that I’m grateful. Very grateful.

For safe travels in 2014 (and it’s been my most mobile year), for provision, for protection, for healing, for direction; the fact that I’m alive is more than enough reason to bow down and worship.

Here’s to incredible things in 2015!

 

 

December 25th 2013 – one Christmas I will never, never, ever forget. For starters, it wasn’t exactly the ‘white Christmas’ I had planned because it rained rather than the romantic snow I was expecting.

Just as well that it didn’t snow though, because there wasn’t any romance to be had either. Due to circumstances beyond my control (also known as not in any way directly orchestrated by me, lol), I became single two days to Christmas. Not like my partner would have been with me on Christmas Day anyway.

Good thing was I had spent the greater part of the 23rd and the 24th cussing myself out for not going to Nigeria and spending the holidays with my family (not an orphan remember) but hey, we live, we love, we learn. So, by the 25th I was spent, and determined to have a day devoid of self-pity, regret, or any form of sadness.

So, what did I do on the day? I woke by 5am, spoke to a friend like 40 minutes after, and we must have talked for an hour or so (thank you so much). Then I watched ‘Eve’, a sitcom my niece introduced me to on YouTube before she left for Nigeria. Hilarious!

Then I downloaded a few songs (Solid Star’s ‘Oluchi’, Flavour’s ‘Ada Ada’, Labirinth’s ‘Express Yourself’, Maverick Sabre’s ‘I need’, and Dr Sid’s ‘Surulere’). And I worked up a sweat dancing to them. Whoop!

What else did I do? Yeah, I spoke to my sister, brother-in-law, and the highlight of my day? BooBoo telling me ‘eeeyah’ (the sound he makes when he gives one of his many, many hugs). Plus he kissed the phone when I said to ‘give aunty kiss kiss’, and I felt it from here! Warm fuzzies!

I spoke to my folks, chatted with my darling brother, watched a bit more of ‘Eve’ and then I must have dozed off. I woke up about noon, had some cereal, did my laundry (thank you Lord, lol), did quite a bit of writing and responding to emails, and then about 6.30pm I went downstairs again to have my Christmas dinner. I had beans, plantain, and turkey, and then I had a lovely chocolate cheesecake for dessert! Yum! #TeamFood

I watched episodes of Hustle, renewed my crush for Adrian Lester, finally caught up on recorded episodes of X Factor USA (is it me or does that show need a complete overhaul both in England and in the US), and after a bit more writing, my day was over.

I was changed and in bed by 12.10am. And I slept very well.

Thank you Jesus.

P:S – Written @5am on the 26th of December 2013. I wonder what Christmas next year will bring?

Sunday the 30th of November (exactly two weeks ago) was supposed to be my day of rest. Long story (which is found in the Chronicle from Ibadan) but let’s move on swiftly to today.

Just as we entered Lagos, we stopped at a traffic light and two young boys (on closer inspection I found out they were girls) came to clean the windscreen with this apparatus that looks like a cross between a selfie-stick and a mop.

Without stroking any feminist embers (I hope), I wondered when young girls (or any females for that matter) had started this business, and my friend and I traced the trajectory of female existence on the streets and the possible unpleasant scenarios those kids were looking at. We asked ourselves (rhetoric of course) about their parents, and it reminded me of some tweets I’d seen the night before. A young Nigerian lady, internationally acclaimed designer had talked about not wanting to have kids because she was going to adopt. She said (and after seeing those girls I am even firmer in agreement) that there were not enough parents in the world for the children around; “why bring more in”, she asked.

The only problem though, was what people said each time she said that – what society thought of and interpreted her decision as. Think on it. What would people (fit in anyone here – friends, family, peers/colleagues – say if you took that decision)?

Photo credit: Events by Bani! This photo was in the thank you email they sent us! Love it!

Photo credit: Events by Bani! This photo was in the thank you email they sent us! Love it!

The society. People. Who defines right or wrong? Flip that a bit – who defines beauty, sets the standards for it? Who determines what is acceptable and what is weird? And how do these standards affect who we are (or try to be) and the things we do?

This was pretty much the thrust of the girl talk session organized by Glory Edozien and Wana Udobang, hopefully, first in a series. Below are a few things I took from what turned out to be a no-holds barred, straight up evening. I’m writing this way so I don’t make mistakes with attribution, and also to keep privacy. Yeah? Here goes.

  • There is real pressure on all women to look, smell, and carry ourselves in a certain way.
  • Everyone, I repeat EVERYONE has that one bit of their bodies/life that they don’t regard as perfect. From the skinny to the slender, the curvy to the chubby. Everyone.
  • Our society has placed such a premium on appearances to the detriment of mental capacity so bad that ‘pretty girls’ are unconsciously expected to be unintelligent. Ever heard, “I didn’t know you were this intelligent?” There you go!
  • Children today pay a lot more attention to their appearance (especially the females) and have a greater say/hand in what they end up wearing than we did in our time.
  • There is intense pressure for children in schools to be ‘seen’ and ’accepted’ as beautiful. That has led to insane (in my opinion) behaviors like dieting, experimentation with makeup, etc. amongst much younger children.
  • Parents must (of a necessity) affirm their children; let them know they are beautiful and are expected to be knowledgeable as well. In other words, it is acceptable to be both.
  • You are what you think/tell yourself you are. You will fall apart (literally) if you allow yourself be blown around by every wind of doctrine, especially as fashion/looks/our bodies are concerned.
  • Is your young child suddenly acting/wanting to look different? Before you rake/shout/bring the house down/spank them to infinity and beyond, ask what the reason for the change is.
  • It’s ok to want to have natural/permed/textured hair. Don’t allow yourself to get pressured into doing anything because it is popular at the moment.
  • Some people by genetics and no fault/action (or not) of theirs will be skinny. Others will be chubby. Some bits you can change

Bottom line? Do you. Be you. More importantly, be happy. Life is too short to be anything else. Funnily, in 2012 I wrote something revolving totally around beauty, perception, and being happy.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, there’s nothing like babes being honest with themselves, sharing real issues, and not putting up this facade that ends up giving people false hope and misleading them. And I met Uche! (@cherox) Nice to meet you babes! Finally!

It was even nicer to finally meet Wana Udobang (@Misswanawana) in person! I think she’s gorgeous, in a class of her own,  super talented, special, I could go on and on! Did I mention down to earth, and talented? Gosh…

And I met Glory Edozien (@MisGloryEdozien), who says she’s read/she reads my blog!! What are you saying!! Am I blessed or what! I was super pleased, grateful, and just chuffed to be in the presence of effortless brilliance.

Took some selfies afterwards with my main chic, @ZanyFran (wrote this for her birthday).

Selfie this, selfie that!

Selfie this, selfie that!

Thank God for the person who finally took a photo we liked!

Thank God for the person who finally took a photo we liked!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we’d all gisted a bit, we headed to Bogobiri for a night of performances from people like Titilope Sonuga (from Gidi Up), Efe Azino, Femi, Wana (whoop), and a few others.

Truly incredible evening!!

 

I interrupt my #ChroniclesFromBonn series to tell you what I did on Monday, and the person I met!

Monday was a super interesting day, even though I did quite a bit of running around. Actually, the day started out kinda funny. As is my custom every once in a while, I couldn’t sleep the night before. Not sleeping late, but I couldn’t sleep at all. And not because I had a nap in the afternoon either. I just couldn’t sleep, guess my enemies were working overtime. Shame to bad people!

So, by the time my eyes agreed to close on Monday morning about 6.40am, I knew the rest of my day would be distorted by no small measure. And I resigned myself to that.

So I was up at 10am, had a bit of a lie-in till 10.20, and then it was time to get out and start my day. Top on the list, shopping for JT, my new baby, meeting up with Olamide Craig and his lady (whoop), and then meeting up with Lizzie’s (fellow owner of my blog, lol).

Digress a bit? I remember the first time Lizzie got in touch – she’d read my blog from the very first post I put up so when she was telling me about myself I almost freaked out. Ok maybe I freaked out a little bit, but Lizzie’s good peoples. Lol.

Anyway, so lunch with Craig and the Mrs to be over (of course there’s a food picture, patience is a virtue jor), and then my ever faithful Cabbie drove to where we picked Lizzie and then did a bit of a drive around looking for the perfect JT. Lizzie I’m sure you know what JT is now, don’t tell anyone biko, it’s our ‘lirrul sekweet’ (‘little secret’ for people who don’t understand baby speak)

 

Starch and banga soup...food of the Gods!

Starch and banga soup…food of the Gods!

Anyway, search for JT over, we ended up at Salamander, one of the favourite chill spots for me in Abuja. Never mind that I’d had a few words with their manager just a few days ago cos the salmon they served with my couscous (priced at a princely N4500) was one miserly piece.

Anyway, so we went to Salamander, and we had drinks. Well I had two bottles of water (I was parched), and Lizzie had something to eat.

It was just really lovely to meet Lizzie, and absolutely hilarious to see that our meeting was the source of discussion with people including… (dunno if I should mention their names, don’t have their permission). Just know that at different times in the next 40 days, I should meet both of you, barring any unforeseen circumstances. So get ready to pepper her back!

From work, to careers, to potential studies in the future, to my sharing the testimony of a ‘mentee’ friend of mine (mentee used quite loosely) who I encouraged to write an exam and follow her dreams of higher level studies. She called me from her school! Whoop! So excited! I’ve promised to visit next time I’m close by, which is soon!

And then we (Lizzie and I) took selfies (which I was super proud of) but Lizzie wanted regular photos (boooooring). So, you get to pick which ones are better; just know that if you pick hers I won’t talk to you again. Note that this is a free and fair election regardless *straight face*

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Selfie one (don’t forget to vote wisely)

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Selfie two!!

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Photo one…

Photo two...

Photo two…

Nice to meet you babes, let’s do this again sometime!

So I’m in Bromsgrove, Birmingham for the weekend; it’s the 3rd installment of the Women and Leadership residency programme for us 14 African women resident in various parts of the United Kingdom.

Yeah? First off, it was great to meet up with everyone last night, see all the ladies again, catch up on what we’ve all been up to since the last time we saw each other in May, and all of that! The weekends away are an absolute blessing, a time to reflect/take care of myself, build my leadership and community interaction skills, and enjoy fabulously prepared food!

The Center is set on a sprawling estate – loads of green, peace and quiet, and because the farmers and butchers are local, all the food we’re served is fresh, organic, authentic, and so full of flavor!

So, first night we had baby potatoes and chicken wrapped in bacon and cheese. Incredible. I brought my own veg (anyone say team #FitFam), and I truly enjoyed the meal. Dessert however was toffee cake in a lovely toffee pudding (did you see my weight loss plans jump out of the window)?

Dinner over, we did an interesting exercise which was to randomly list things that influence our values on a flipchart (so things like society, environment, other people, education, religion, etc.), and then we did drawings depicting our life’s journeys and talking through them in groups. Very nice to do that, basically plot our life’s graphs and explore how different things that happened to/for/around us have shaped who we are and how we do certain things.

After all of that happened, I retired to my room to try to connect to the WIFI in the place. And then Amanda came over, and it was really nice to have a ‘catch up’ type conversation, a little more in-depth than what happened in the group. We were up till 1.20am (yes I checked) and then I went to sleep.

I woke up laughing about 5am because of some hilarious dream I was having (involving PSquare), and heavy as my eyes were, soon as my phone beeped to tell me I’d connected to the internet, I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. We are currently expecting the same miracle for my computer.

Decided to go for a run about 7am and I was reminded that I’m such a wuss! Walked for like 7minutes, and then it dawned on me that no one knew I’d left the building. Remember the entire gist about green and farms? Here’s a look!

2014-09-21 13.31.57

Beautiful, serene… I could live here forever! (Long as they give us wifi jor…)

2014-09-21 13.32.35

 

And then I thought, hian! What if something/someone comes out of nowhere and grabs me? Think ‘Criminal Minds’, ‘CSI New York, Miami, Aba, Oshogbo (since it seems there’s a different CSI for every city)’, or my recent favorite, ‘Person of Interest’ (which I started watching because of something Gbenga Sesan said at a training I attended in August).

And so ladies and gentlemen, I started running, and back to the Center building! You can say what you will, laugh all you want; I’m not listening! Lol!

That’s it really. I showered, had breakfast, and joined the morning session, where I wrote this.

*Written on the 19th of September.

Two weeks ago, I decided to take advantage of INEC‘s registration exercise to get a voter card. What’s all the activism for if I can’t vote? And so far, the chances that I will be in Nigeria during the elections in 2015 are very high.

So it was off to Government Secondary School in Lifecamp that Monday morning to get it done.

Got there about 8am, and if I had any sense, I would have known (from the crowd I met there) I didn’t stand a chance. I would also have known that heels on the day wasn’t the smartest idea. To be fair to myself though, I actually believed I would be able to get it done and then head off to a training I had fixed for past noon; looking back I’m sure even God must have been giggling at me and my plans.

9am and INEC guys still hadn’t come. There was no place to sit and my shoes were starting to hurt. People were gisting with the Police guys and promising them heaven on earth. Me? I was sipping lipton.

9.31am. INEC guys came in a white van, and as they were unloading their stuff a police truck came (siren and PSA included). A lady (whose appearance, voice, and intonation reminded me of Dame Peshe) announced that people who had registered before should leave or they would face the “full wrath of the law”. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that phrase in this our Nigeria I’d be super wealthy.

Anyway, noise warnings from the lady lasted another 20 minutes, and then the police truck left. By this time we’d been asked to write our names on a list so we’d be attended to.

The men seemed to get theirs done without a fuss, but we ladies had to have two separate fights over the order of names on the list. #CatFightTinz

One torn list and a few exchanged curses after, our list was sent in to the INEC guys and the wait began. About noon and no where getting close to getting registered, I left. Plus I had a visitor (and the attendant cramps) that demanded I leave and sort myself (forgive the TMI).

Got back about 2pm, and it still wasn’t my turn. Matter of fact, it became even clearer that it wouldn’t get to me. I chatted with various groups of people and apart from the INEC guys still dealing with lists they collected on Saturday and Sunday, I learned from more than one group that the police (who were at the doors to ensure people were orderly) were collecting money to facilitate quicker entrance to meet the INEC guys.

Still, I waited. Most of my day had been wasted anyway. I was content watching everything from a safe distance.

About 3pm, people started getting testy. Being the last day of the registration, with no extension in sight, people were agitated. The police started using belts and things to get people to disperse. Was really disturbing for me to watch for a number of reasons.

1. Ebola – as we all know, body fluids are a vehicle for the transmission of this virus. The sun was scorching so of course people were sweating. Some others were spitting (yuck), and a few others were cleaning out their nostrils on every inch of ground they could find. Now people were thronging, pushing, a few of them fell, it wasn’t pretty. Absolutely disgusting.

2. Whipping people. Really? Really? Why on earth? Do you blame the people for becoming restive when some of them had been there since 6.30am and then because some others who came about noon had ‘tips’ for the police, they got bumped to the top of the list for registration?

I spoke to one of the policemen whipping people, and the conversation is reproduced below.

FGS – Sir, it’s 4pm. Won’t it be better to tell these people what their options for registration after now are, instead of whipping them?

Police – Did you see me whipping anyone?

FGS – (A little shocked at his question) Yeah! I’ve been standing and watching you for the last 30 minutes. I feel like…

Police (cuts in) – You are making allegations against my person! I am an officer of the law! Do you know what we are doing here?

FGS – Yes I know you’re supposed to keep the peace, keep the people orderly, but you’re not supposed to whip…

Police (cuts in, super incensed now) – Did you see me whip anybody? If you talk too much I’ll take you to the station…

FGS (cuts in, a little ticked off) – stop spitting on me. And are you threatening me? Are you actually threatening me? (To be honest I was a little flustered, but I don’t know why I was smiling)

Police – You can write anything you want to write! I don’t care! I am an officer of the law…

FGS – (cuts in) This is not a productive conversation, you’re not listening to me, and you’re still spitting on me. (And I turned and walked away).

I tweeted.

Screenshot 2014-09-01 16.04.09

And yes, I took a picture.

2014-08-25 16.47.39Good thing was, he didn’t touch anyone else (least till I left about 5pm), and I caught him stealing glances at me from time to time.

No, I didn’t get registered.

The End.