Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Welcome to Day Three! Parts one and two are here and here. Not in the mood to muck about so we’ll jump right into the trip to Bama. Or a few things that happened before. Ready?

BAMA

Remember how I slept? I woke up cold, tired, and very angry. I was mentally exhausted from calculating all through the night how cold the room needed to be to stop me from being eaten alive by mosquitoes. And then, calculating how covered I needed to be to not freeze to death. Mind you, the air conditioning had no remote so I was standing up intermittently to turn it on and off.

A little note about the mosquitoes. They were massive. As in, really big. Not the “not seen but heard” type some of us endure everywhere else, these ones were massive. Like ‘I am a mosquito and I am here to suck (or drain) your blood’ size mosquitoes. I mean the insecticide of choice here is Rambo! Not Mortein, not Raid, not even Baygon. Rambo! Gosh! Meaning of course that except the room was icy, they were fully operational on the one human in the room – me.

By the time it was morning, I was sneezing uncontrollably, my eyes were puffy, and I had a headache the size of Africa. Did I mention that even though I asked (and very nicely) the hotel staff ended up not spraying any insecticide in my room? So I had bites all over as well. I swear I was a sorry sight.

Time check? 9am. We were at Government House, waiting for the Governor’s delegation so we could drive to Bama together. I remember being a little irritated that we’d been hurried out of our hotel in the name of “we’re leaving early” only to come here to wait. Plus, I was hungry.

Breakfast was digestive biscuits, a coke and some medicine I was given to ease my symptoms. I remember telling my best friend Wunmi I had been given a pink pill by someone on the team who was feeling sorry for me. I didn’t know what it was, and I was in too much distress to care to be honest. And it helped! Better yet, God had mercy on me.

An hour, some biscuits (thank you Alkayy) and a super cold coke after, we were ready to head out. I’d been on the phone with my dad and the deal was I would keep talking /chatting with him till we got out of service area and then message as soon as I could. Momma was in San Antonio at the time for my favourite cousin’s wedding and the general consensus was to not tell her I was not only around the North East but I was headed to the heart of the conflict and devastation.

We set off and the 3-hour drive (should be 90 minutes but the road is treacherous) was rife with the most reckless, dare-devil driving I’ve seen in my life! Gosh! There were about 32 cars inclusive of an armoured tank, a gun-carrier, trucks overflowing with civilian JTF armed to the teeth, soldiers, and then the Governor’s people. Everyone wanted to be closest to any vehicle with the armed guys. Alas! There was a very real danger of getting ambushed by Boko Haram so the racing was doubly inspired. At some point, I was more concerned about cars colliding about a tire bursting or falling off, or generally harming ourselves more than anything we were afraid of.

We were in a Toyota Hiace Bus, brand new and our driver was a veteran on that route. I imagine he had seen and heard enough to not want us to be a part of the number attacked by Boko Haram so he was as reckless as the others maybe even a bit more reckless than most.

Our route went from Maiduguri to Dalori, past Konduga, and then to Bama town, where IDP camp is located. From the minute we left the centre of Maiduguri town, it was an eyesore. Stretches of wantons’ destruction, nothing was spared. Banks, local government buildings, upturned cars. I saw a cap inside one of them and wondered about the thoughts were before the car turned over. Some buildings had massive holes like sequins adorning a dress. I must have asked a thousand times “what do these people want so bad they are willing to cause this much devastation to achieve?” God forbid.

Some photos. They’re all watermarked. Message me if you need a version that’s not watermarked.

We got to Bama safely (somehow my heart hadn’t left my body) and after some government talk, we went into the IDP camp. That’s a different story literally.

 

 

“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.

My mother loves eucalyptus oil. Like she loves it with every fiber of her being! And she, just like a lot of other moms, believes it is the answer to a multitude of illnesses/symptoms. So when we were younger somehow I believed eucalyptus oil was that panacea that could cure everything because momma had a different  method of application depending on what symptoms you presented. So cold/stuffy nose? Put some behind your ears, on your neck, pulse points basically. More intense cold? Use some for a steam bath. Period pain? Put some on your belly and massage it in. Tooth ache? Put some in a hanky and dab…okay I’m going to stop messing with you… momma I’m sorry, I love you! Ha ha ha!! I always had a good time teasing her about eucalyptus oil, still do! God bless you Momma!

For my late aunt, fried rice was the answer. Like, it was the ‘weapon’ of choice when the situation was mild, serious or grave/super, and the ‘application’ depended on that too. Ha ha! So, let’s say I had a bad day at work and I moaned about it a bit, we would buy fried rice and chicken wings from Southern Fried Chicken. When I got my heart broken in the middle of 2010, she bought me fried rice from Chopstix, an upscale Chinese restaurant. When I got my job at the BBC though, we cooked the rice in the house! 

The reason why buying fried rice was a smaller ‘medicine dose’ than cooking was the amount of effort that the latter came with! Proper labour of love. Like cooking fried rice in the house was an activity that EVERYONE partook in, from the nanny to the security man. Lol! I can still picture her sitting on the stool in the kitchen, mixing the rice. Wait, let’s even back up a bit. 

First there’d be the conversation preceding the “make we cook fried rice” proclamation. Boom! Then it would be nanny and driver to buy chicken, vegetables and whatever condiments we didn’t have (including a big tub of Blue Band butter), and then every soul in the house getting involved with chopping or peeling something. I remember that the guys were excluded, but not every time. 

I remember her micromanaging the process every single time, like each time was our first. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. If she didn’t ask, we would pile into the living room one after the other to ask questions, silly or relevant. Because aunty was the king and queen of the business of cooking fried rice!!

I remember us laying out all the blanched, steamed, chopped, boiled, plucked ingredients out in separate bowls strewn across the kitchen floor, surrounding the big pot (very big because everyone was welcome to aunty’s pot) with her stool there in the middle too. I remember her nonstop conversation as she mixed in all the ingredients, whether it was giving advice, singing, scolding whoever for whatever reason, or gisting us of a number of things, maybe even the last time we all cooked! 

I remember she would insist the onions be blended because she knew I can’t stand seeing them, and I remember her asking me to taste. I remember always scooping rice onto a plate just to taste, her protesting that, “na only this pikin must chop half the food to taste am”, and the laughter that would always ensue.

I remember the laughter. Gosh I remember her laughter. With her gap teeth, mischievous twinkle in her eyes, and absolute love of God and man in her heart. It was loud, it was rich, it was welcoming. Aunty invited everyone to laugh with her laughter, regardless of your state of mind. If she was laughing, even if it was at you, you would laugh too. I promise.

I remember sitting down to eat our finished work of art with her white tray, big purple cup of Fanta and ice. Aunty loved life abeg! And we would pair the meal nicely with a Yoruba film, because we could never eat fried rice quietly. Nah, it wouldn’t go down well that way, there had to be extra activity.

Meal over, your problems were either over, or in the midst of the preparation or cooking we would have discussed or agreed on the way out of the issue. And if we were celebrating, there would be a small, off handed prayer of thanksgiving for the joy, and a word (or two, or two million) of advice on how to manage it.

Meal over, it would be time to retire to her room or ours, to “fire sleep.” I remember her in any of her wrappers, room temperature mirroring the Arctic, and her giving any of us her phones so she wouldn’t be disturbed. Sometimes we would cook fried rice on a Sunday after church, for Easter, Christmas, any of the Muslim celebrations in a nod to her Northern upbringing, birthdays, or just because she felt like the whole house needed something to do. Lol. What a woman.

I would give anything to cook fried rice with you again aunty. Maybe because it’s Christmas, maybe because there’s so much to talk about, maybe because I miss you ordering us about, maybe because I want to hear you laugh one last time.

Sleep well aunty. I love you forever.

Baby Fever! I’m a god mommy!

Posted: November 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

This month two people very close to me have birthed gorgeous, healthy children; a boy and a girl. Well, one person on the 31st of October and the second born on the 2nd of November. I’m excited I’m a god mother to both of them and for the honour of filling out the birth certificate for my bestie’s son!

I’m also happy to not be doubly pregnant anymore (lol) because, believe me, I joined in incubating both babies, more emotionally and spiritually than physically but just as demanding trust me!

Can we take a minute to think about how great God is? Like nothing says we couldn’t have been able to pick our children off shelves at a supermarket or mould them from sand just like Adam and his babe were made. Nothing also says we couldn’t have had to be pregnant for two years like , or five days like … It’s just really amazing, this whole birthing process, and I’m so grateful that two cycles started and completed without incident, and without any evil reports. Not because we’re extra righteous or deserving, but because He’s a good God and forever in the business of finishing what He starts. Glory!

I remember when I got the call about both of them being preggers. Both times I was reduced to mush (because I have excess tears I’ve been told), both times my heart was bursting with joy and pride (believe me, I understand that pride is a weird emotion to feel here but allow me enjoy it thank you very much). Both times I imagined what they would birth, but being an aunt to the most gorgeous nephew and niece, I knew I would be grateful for whatever sex we were given. Long as they were healthy, happy, and chubby (I have a thing for chubby babies – my late aunty Pat used to say it was harder for them to cry because of all the weight, lol).

Anyway.

So, babies are here, and a new phase opens for everyone. The parents (including Godparents thank you very much), the families (nuclear and extended), and indeed our society. I look forward to spoiling them, lots of kisses and cuddles, and watching them grow. I also look forward to sending them on tons of errands o, we’re not African for nothing!

Here’s to you my latest prince and princess, welcome. God bless you today, tomorrow, and always. You will not disappoint destiny, you will not bring sorrow to your parents; you will excel in everything your hands find to do. We will not bury you, you will live long, healthy lives and be everything God has destined you to be. I love you two, loads! Hurry back!

So the US election campaigns started about 18 months ago, and I’ll be honest and say I was largely uninterested in the debates, rallies, etc. until very recently. Of course there were the very many days the world was jolted by any of the inappropriate (inappropriate here also meaning scary, unacceptable, criminal, etc.) utterances from Republican Candidate Donald Trump either during rallies, interviews, in the locker room, pretty much everywhere. On those days I would be forced to catch up on the outrage, but that would be all.
Not because I don’t care who the next leader of the free world is, not because I don’t see the incredible importance and leap it would be for a woman to become the next president of the United States, but because my people say that “when a man’s house is on fire he does not bother about the fufu he had on the stove.” There was (still is) just too much “what on earth is going on with my Nigeria” going on to focus on what’s happening in the pond an entire continent away.
TV ads forced me to care. Stickers, posters, heck even conversations a little too animated forced me to join the US Election frenzy. With or without my consent, I’ve had to actively follow.
So, I’ve been in the US for the past 4 weeks now and the excitement/apprehension/tension is palpable. Not the Nigerian flavor of ‘we’re voting for x and y not because we know what they will offer but because our leader says to’, but the ‘we’ve listened to both (major) candidates, know their history and believe overwhelmingly that x is better than y’. Or maybe even that x is the lesser of the two evils, whatever personal reasons.  
It reinforced a thought that led to this tweet“Dear #Nigeria, when we’re done climaxing over the #USElection rallies, our candidates MUST debate in 2019. Anything else is unacceptable.”
I believe that tweet with all my heart, and I hope you, Nigerian, tax-paying, voter card-wielding, pledge-reciting, daughter or son of the soil who has followed the US Elections has been reacquainted with a love for oratory, a respect for facts and figures, an appreciation for the media (and the 2016 expression of the Social Responsibility and Hypodermic Needle theories), and a renewed belief in yourself as a citizen whose vote is worth more than screaming rallies without any substance.
Anything less than debates with concrete plans, economic policies that can be argued for or against, and interventions that directly impact the lives of Nigerians is unacceptable. No more platitudes, no more empty promises, no more roaring rhetoric. 
Our state and national representatives must clearly articulate their plans for us, the people they represent. We cannot applaud the levels of transparency we’ve seen in this election and be content with declarations of assets that end up being as vague as they are untrue.
We must elect representatives who will not subvert but uphold the Constitution, and indeed open up the black hole that the National Assembly budget currently is!
Sigh. Deep breath Chioma. Moving on.
I’ve also thought very deliberately about how technology has been deployed for these elections. I’m not referring to diaspora voting which ensures citizens all over the world are not disenfranchised, and sounds like a brilliant idea till you remember that Nigeria has not come close to perfecting our local, physical processes yet. We cannot guarantee votes cast by human beings we can see and touch (’see and touch’ excluding the era when we had Jamie Foxx and Michael Jackson on the list of accredited voters); yet we’re currently fascinated with diaspora votes. Maybe add that to the things we will blame next for inconclusive elections?
Anyway, I was referring to citizen-centered technology. Technology deployed to make voter education and the voting process as seamless and inclusive as possible. First from the government with the listings/helplines on social and traditional media, to parties and politicians constantly reminding the electorate why, how, and where to vote;  broadcast media and state-specific voting information, to the digital titans deploying doodles, stickers, and other ‘make it cool to vote’ paraphernalia for the electorate to perform their civic duty. No stomach infrastructure, sharing of rice, or bread, or corn; no ridiculous photos where fancy wristwatches meet extreme poverty, none of that mess. 
Anyway, it all ends in the next 24 hours. Those who didn’t already vote have until 8pm to get counted, with a collation and announcement devoid of candlelight, midnight miracles, meme-worthy drama, or any funny business. Governance should also start in earnest immediately after the swearing-in, not 9 months after. 
Quite frankly, these elections rank high on the list of things Americans should be ashamed of – the blatant mudslinging, disrespect for candidates/American History/the American people; the divisive nature of the campaign, the hate it’s inspired, ugh. Shameful.
However, for us, there is a lot to be learned, and I hope we’ve all been taking notes. 2019 is coming. 
PS: Originally published on Huffington Post

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.

ARIK: Shaking my head.

Posted: August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I bought a mop recently… needed to get a new one for my bathroom.

My sister, Francesca, Wumi, and another friend say I shower like an elephant, leaving puddles (and oceans) anywhere I shower. Whatever!! Jesus loves me like that! *shakes off the criticism*

Anyway, so the mop in my bathroom which I’d use to wipe the little drops of water that might occasionally get on the floor when I shower (notice I’m choosing my words V-E-R-Y carefully) seemed a bit old and not as enthusiastic at cleaning like it was when we first got it.

So, to the market I went, to get me a new mop. And I got one, for N500 (not bad abi? If you think I was had just keep it to yourself biko) and I was excited to try it out. I did, and it soaked up the water like a piece of bread dunked in tea (I hope you left that behaviour in your childhood by the way). Whoop!! My new mop is everything! I love it!

Made me think a bit though, and those thoughts are the essence of this post.

When we make friends or get into new relationships, new marriages, new jobs, whatever ‘new thing’ you can fit into this bracket, we’re like my mop. Soaking up everything – promises, joys, memories, everything, including the unhappy moments. And we take it in stride, drying out and coming back the very next time/day (not saying I need to mop my floor every time I shower, SMH) without batting an eyelash.

As we go/grow/progress, sometimes it feels like we can’t take ‘it’ (whatever negative you want to fit in here) as smoothly as we would normally. And so resentment starts to set in, simply cos we don’t absorb (read as wipe the floor as quickly or as thoroughly) as we used to.

Obviously we cannot change marriages (except of course there’s violence of any kind then you have me solidly behind you asking you to save yourself) and some relationships need work instead of changes (again read earlier caveat).

That said, sometimes it’s time for a change.Change is good (obviously not the *unprintable* we’re dealing with now… sigh). A good old dunk in the trash of the old, and the entrance of new life, new experiences; a new mop.

Like mine, and I’m loving it.

PS: I don’t like shower curtains so please don’t advise me to get one. 🙂

Fola (@LitaofLagos) is one of my favourite people online, and late last year we had the good fortune of meeting and working together on a project for Heinrich Boll, the first Book Sprint in Nigeria. Basically we were holed up in a house/hotel somewhere in Maitama, and in seven days went from nothing, to a full book, printed! It was a most amazing experience, and a privilege for me to share time, space, and energy with the wonderful people I worked with on that project.

Fola is lovely, loads of fun, and very REAL. Yep, she’s one of those people I know who are without airs, and what you see is literally what you get! I’m more than thankful she got the all-clear, and I hope you enjoy her entry!

My name is Fola Lawal, and friends call me Lita. I live in Doha by day and Lagos at night. I work as a Senior Project Analyst at my Qatar organization; I also run a personal business as a social media brand-integration marketer and manager for companies and individuals, helping to design effective social media campaigns. Also, I manage a book-publishing business while also developing ideas for, and encouraging my social media folks in, saving the world—one tweet at a time.

2015 started slowly note for me, but picked up pace gradually. I had to decide, with my partner (who, on the other hand, was resigning from the corporate legal sector), whether to go back into paid employment after my few months as a full-time entrepreneur. Eventually, I was able to secure a paying job that still allowed me time to focus on my businesses.

But I was to have a more worrisome time in the course of the year. During a routine medical checkup, my doctor advised me to go for an immediate mammogram as she could feel lumps in both my breasts. Although the scan results were reassuring, my experience during that scary period improved my attitude to, and outlook on, life.

I spent a part of 2015 sulking at how my world didn’t seem to appreciate my merits; and fuming at the challenges that prevented my plans from materializing. I was also faced with the challenges of settling into a new work environment and, sometimes all of these piled on hard on my psyche—but the Egba woman in me stayed relentless.

And so, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for my partner, Ayo: who is always there through thick and thin, to share battles and celebrate wins.

I’m grateful for my family: because I couldn’t have had a better support system.

I’m grateful for my friends: all of whom came through when I least expected.

What did I learn in 2015?

  • I learned that, in Nigeria, hard work is not enough to strategically position me for success.
  • I learned that what will be sometimes, will never be.
  • I learned to be unapologetically ME, that no matter how much I try to please others, people are wired to see what they want to see.
  • I learned that some people, trips, lies, books, or parties aren’t just worth their stress value.
  • And I learned that the key to material success is selfishness.

And what will I do in 2016?

  • Sleep less.
  • Love more.
  • Worry less.
  • Communicate better.
My baby girl!

My baby girl!

Yes o! I’m totally with you on communicating better, it’s something I have to learn; very necessary! Here’s to living the baby girl life in 2016!