Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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”

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children of God!!

How have you been? Good? How’s work, your family, your life?

Greetings from Leamington Spa, green, quiet, quaint, serene, providing such a connection to my spirit.

Nope, I’m not going to apologise for not being here for a bit. I needed the time away. The past few weeks have been difficult, and I decided that instead of masking the things I was going through with activities (like climbing trees, lol… that story will be told soon), I wanted to drop everything, go away, think, cry, pray, workout, jump (happening soon); everything to bring myself back to myself, if you know what I mean.

In a few days it’d be another anniversary of my aunt’s death. My darling aunt, who we still talk about everyday, who I still feel very close to. Puts to shame all the ‘time heals all wounds’ talk people say, except two years isn’t classed as time. I miss her. Yesterday, today, everyday. Some days are hard, some others are harder, some days are a damn blur.

Keep resting aunty. I love you so much. So damn much!

So I woke up about 4am this morning, couldn’t sleep anymore. Maybe cos I left the curtains open and summer means the sun rises about 3.50am, maybe my eyes were tired of sleep (like my aunt would say, lol), dunno. I just couldn’t sleep.

Anyway, so I started catching up on emails, articles, all those kinds of things, and then I remembered two songs I heard in like 1995, maybe I even danced to one of them in a group, don’t really remember. And so far I’ve played both of them back to back like 10 times each, and they’re so uplifting I thought I’d share with anyone going through a rough time/patch.

This is from an era when music was truly uplifting, not the rubbish we have to endure now. Sigh. This is ‘Count it all joy’ by The Winans.

And then there’s this one by Sound of Blackness called ‘Hold On’. Fun, really great song. Check on it!

I’m talking to myself as I say this. You will feel better. That pain will pass. You will want to get up and work again. Your morning will come. That heaviness will lift, hard times will pass. Just keep holding on, keep working at it, hanging in there, keep looking up, to the One who has our manuals and the perfect story of our lives.

Today’s a great day, whether you like it or not! God’s got you!

Light, love, and God’s great blessings,

FGS!

PS 1 – God bless Ruona for me today. Not tomorrow. Today.

PS 2 – I stumbled on this website yesterday, and I haven’t been able to close it. Such a profound story, such a representation of the absolute love and mercies of God. Have a look, you’re welcome! http://www.heatherllindsey.com/?m=1

Now this was one interview that I enjoyed, but took the longest time to sort out! And it’s my fault… The process of getting an entrepreneur, scheduling and having the interview, and then writing up can be a lot but nope, not making excuses. Just trying to get you to temper justice with understanding!

Right! We’re bringing this interview right after the one with the King of Interns with a personal friend and all-round gorgeous lady, Adetola Taylor. Now Detola is a mom, a Dentist ( the prettier ones are usually put in Dentistry she says *wink*) who graduated from the University of Lagos and has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Warwick.

She’s also the brain behind MsNella products. The range currently features hair and body butters made from a Shea butter base.

Let’s get into it already!

FGS: Let’s start with the number 3 – if you were told everything you had would be taken from you and you could only keep three things, what would they be?
DETOLA: Hmm, do these three things include people or just inanimate objects?
FGS: Any three… you decide if you want to mix them or not!
DETOLA: My wedding rings, my family, my memory
DETOLA: Phew! Never had to answer that question before. Definitely a difficult one.
FGS: Love your answer! Let’s talk a bit about your work – how does a doctor dabble into hair and body butters?
DETOLA: Haha! I’ve always been fashionable I guess. I repressed it cause I thought I needed to be taken seriously. And spending all that time in medical school never really leaves room for much else.
DETOLA: I stumbled on the hair butter by accident. I had just had a baby and while I have been blessed with good hair all my life, I realised I was losing hair because the pregnancy hormones were slowly leaving my body. My hair was coming out in tufts. So I decided to give my hair a breather from relaxers (I usually used to apply relaxers twice a year prior to baby)
DETOLA: While on the break from relaxers, I started researching into products that would help me restore my hair and nurse it back if you will, to former status and that’s how the hair butter came to be.

Detola 1

FGS: You must have hit gold with your research because you now produce the hair butter and distribute across continents! How easy was it going commercial?
DETOLA: Not very easy, because now that I am no longer selling to friends and family I have to put systems in place.
DETOLA: I now have to register the business, get a NAFDAC number and think about an advertising budget and distribution.

FGS: Do you have that locked down now? Can I apply to join your sales team?
DETOLA: Ha ha! I wouldn’t say I do. You see money answereth all things. I am working on raising capital to execute it all though.

FGS: How does your family feel about their doctor mom/wife/daughter’s side hustle?
DETOLA: Very supportive (well except my dad who doesn’t know that I have a beauty side hustle). In actual fact, they believe producing these products are way better suited to me than being a doctor. Oops!
FGS: Two things that make you keep on whenever you feel like giving up?
DETOLA: 1. Testimonials from customers. It humbles me to have a product that someone actually wants. 2. My husband. His total belief in this business leaves me no room to throw a pity party.
FGS: How do you juggle the home, school, and your business?
DETOLA: Hmmm!
DETOLA: Honestly? I don’t know
DETOLA: Sometimes I think I’m mad
DETOLA: Ha ha. My friends have called me mad
DETOLA: But I grew up tough and I think that has helped shape my perspective of life. Someone out there is doing this and has not died so why can’t I?

Detola 2
FGS: Lol… What would you tell a young potential entrepreneur to watch out for?
DETOLA: Hmmm… Amass a war chest.
DETOLA: I’m no entrepreneur honestly. I just found a business doing stuff I like. Hard-core entrepreneurs go all out. I just believe I have been lucky and even I don’t believe in luck:)
FGS: But surely you have done a few things right to be where you are today…
DETOLA: I must have ☺. Knowledge is not overrated. If you’re going to do something, know it in and out. If there is a part of your business you believe you will need help with, get the best help you can find. I am totally poor when it comes to doing the books but I get help with these things.

FGS: And I have to ask, how do you source your ingredients? Locally (Nigerian) or from international locations?
DETOLA: Since I’m currently in the UK, I source from here. Back when I was in Nigeria, I used Nigerian sources. Either way, I find the cheaper source and keep my products affordable.

Because I was rounding up my masters, I put the business on hold. Attending a cosmetics course in the summer and relaunching with new packages. Keep an eye out!
FGS: Ok. Finally, one thing you’ve done that you’d do again, again, and again…
DETOLA: Not see the whole staircase but take the first step.
FGS : That’s it!
FGS : You’re amazing Detola. Thank you!
DETOLA: No, thank you! Thank you!!

And that's my gorgeous friend and brain behind Ms Nella, Detola!  PS: Her efo riro is not even of this world! Dang!

And that’s my gorgeous friend and brain behind Ms Nella, Detola!
PS: Her efo riro is not even of this world! Dang!

All MsNella products can be purchased from the online store msnella.me or physically from SocialLagos-94 Awolowo road Ikoyi. You can also find MsNella products on Konga.

Over the last few days I’ve trained my eyes to tell distances from my fuel gauge, no thanks to the scarcity that means cars congregate on fuel stations like they’re sharing something else there. Of course I went to fewer places as the dial danced closer to the ‘E’, and then last night, I knew I had to humble myself and queue.

Why use the word humble? Well, I braved a black market purchase the last time there was a queue. It not only cost me double the normal thing, but the fuel was bad so there was the cost of changing the injector and something else when the car refused to run properly the next morning.

So this time my darlings? I finished all the work I had to do, and at 9.30pm, I joined the queue at Forte Oil, opposite Transcorp Hilton. While I was there, I started tweeting a few things I’ve had on my mind for a few days, starting all the tweets with ‘shout out to…’. Did you catch them? Lol…

About 10.15pm, it was my turn, and typical me, I started chatting with the attendant. Apparently, the station is open 24 hours, and they run shifts. Which sounded nice till the guy said he resumed at 4pm and wouldn’t get off till 5am the next day!

What!! That’s 11 or 12 hours! So, two shifts, and these attendants are on their feet the entire time. And this is a very busy period, because very few stations have fuel, and so the lines are like the never-ending lists we tale before God. Daily.

It gets even more interesting. Guess how much these guys earn? Attendants – N10, 000 per month. Not per shift, or per week. Every 30 days. No wonder they’re trying to fleece everyone every chance they get. No wonder they connive with their managers to fiddle with the meters and sell you N500 fuel even though you pay N1000. Am I excusing theft? No. Stealing is wrong. All shapes, forms, and sizes. Even the Bible says a thief who stole bread because he was hungry should still be punished. However, the same Bible says that if eating meat (or paying a deplorable salary) will cause your neighbour (or staff) to sin, don’t do it.

How do you pay a man (or a woman) N10, 000 in Abuja where everything is triple the price? Not in any of the really cheap states where money goes further? How are their bosses able to sleep at night? In their million dollar houses and bourgeois lives? What are their staff supposed to do with N10, 000?

I didn’t bother asking if they had health insurance or a pension contribution from their management – didn’t want to waste my time. Or his.

Interestingly though, he was very excited with this job because it was hard to get, and it was only because his brother knew someone who knew one of the managers that he got it. So, I also didn’t talk about leaving this or applying for any other jobs. Again, I didn’t want to waste his time. Or mine.

It’s like one multi-millionaire I used to know… who would owe his staff for months on end (and he was paying the exact definition of chicken change) yet they would see him flaunt his wealth on his children and associates. And expected loyalty and honesty, feigning surprise that they were pinching sums whenever/wherever they could.

Again, for absolute clarity, theft/fraud/misappropriation/add other synonyms in all forms is wrong. Wrong, and should be punished.

However… Think about it. What are you paying your hired help? Not saying you should pay beyond what you can afford, but would you accept that with joy and gladness if the positions were reversed? Even if you had no option and the job in itself was a favour?

To paraphrase a saying I’ve heard several times about racism and slavery… there is the bad thing the government has done to its citizens, but there is also the bad thing that citizens have done to themselves.

This thing about the golden rule sha…

 

PS: I got home a few minutes to 11pm. Exhausted, but with high spirits. I have fuel!

Feels like…

Posted: February 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Feels like I haven’t been on here in ages, like I haven’t poured out my heart in a while. There’s so much noise, I feel like I’m driving, speeding like it’s going out of fashion. I feel like I don’t have time to stop, have a laugh, enjoy the outdoors, shoot the breeze. Which would be fine in itself except that now I feel like I don’t have the time to write.

That’s a problem. A big one.

I miss blogging. I miss a lot of things. Maybe people too.

Right now though? Sleep. God’s automatic reset button!

Good morning!

Happy New Year! How did you spend the holidays? Did you have a good, restful break? I did. I sure did! I spent time with family in San Antonio, Houston, and of course, London. What a great time of refreshing, of love, of fellowship! I will blog about that trip in due course, don’t worry…

What are you up to this year? What plans/goals? Are you in the New Year resolutions gang? I stopped bothering with those a few years ago, prefer to work towards goals following on from the previous year. Profits me more to be honest. Are you on your way to ticking off those goals? January’s almost over!

What’s new, wherever you are? In Nigeria, we’re living and breathing the coming general elections – exciting, yet very tense times. One piece of advice if I may? Go out and vote. Please, go out and vote if you have your permanent voter card. If you don’t have it, try to collect it. Do it.

It’s 4am, and I’m working and watching my nephew sleep like a clock on my bed – dude is literally turning round in his sleep! He’s formed the habit of coming in for a cuddle at bedtime these days; sometimes he falls asleep here, other times he leaves. Today was one of those ‘sleep with aunty Boo Boo’ kind of days. God is gracious I tell you, who are we that He entrusts the care of these precious ones in our hands? Truly gracious.

What’s new for me this year? Work (duh, lol) – God is opening great and effectual doors and I am more than grateful. Like, jaw-dropping doors, and I can only receive grace to be effective, efficient, and of course to remain grounded.

What else is new? I have a new-found love for all music of South African origin. I’ve become hooked on people like Solly Mahlangu, Keke Phoofolo, Zaza, Benjamin Dube, Ntokozo Mbambo, etc! Vocals are incredible, the intensity of their worship, I’m in love! And I found this site where I can sing along to the lyrics of my favorite songs – what a blessing!

What says I can’t push off to South Africa to watch either (or all) of them in concert this year? My birthday is in May so that’s a gift idea for you. Yes you!

This was intended to be quite short and so let’s stop here. I pray this year is all you dreamed it to be, and I ask for grace and strength so that we all put in the work it takes.

Have a fabulous 2015!

Love,

FGS.

 

Why Buhari?

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

Feyi is one writer you must read every now and again. Straight up facts, no bile; a discussion you can make an instant decision on. He’s on Twitter as @DoubleEph

Enjoy.

Agùntáṣǫólò

Opposition parties don’t win general elections, governments lose them – British adage

How does someone go from really disliking Buhari to openly supporting him in 4 years? I doubt I’m alone in this – certainly I know a good number of people who wont have touched him with a long pole a couple of years and are now just waiting for their ballot paper so they can vote for him. I think that Nigeria will have a new President come May 2015 and it will be Muhammadu Buhari.

The first thing to note is that Buhari is actually quite easy to beat in an election. He is a very popular politician and I doubt any other politician in Nigeria today can come close to matching his numbers purely on name recognition and character. The man is not a crook and in Nigeria of today, that counts for a lot with…

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GTB and I. One week one trouble.

Posted: December 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve been a GTBank customer since 2003 or 2004; I’ve written about GTBank twice. First when I went to their bank to get my ATM and after delaying me for about two weeks, I went into the bank, and the staff felt they needed to finish taking their photographs before they attended to the customers. Ended with them sending the card to my house in London via DHL.

Second time it was in praise of Ikalone Udo, a super-efficient lady who set up my business account in one visit to the bank after because of stress I’d abandoned the idea 18 months before. I was so impressed I wrote about the experience, tweeted the link at GTB too. Unfortunately she has since left GTBank, won’t be surprised if they hurt/upset her.

So, why am I writing? Numerous reasons. What has GTBank done again?

5th of December: I called GTConnect, and after explaining that my brother in Malaysia was stranded because they’d blocked his card again (FOR NO REASON) and didn’t tell him, they allowed me conference-call him and 27 minutes after, his card was unblocked. Emptied my phone of airtime but, no worries.

GTB’s naira Mastercard prides itself as being able to work anywhere in the world.

Screenshot 2014-12-20 11.41.53Apparently Malaysia isn’t part of that world because he hasn’t been able to use his card on a funded account to pay his fees. Why? That’s for GTBank to tell us.

So he doesn’t miss out on school, we decided he’d transfer the money to my naira account, and then I’d either do a transfer directly to the school, or send via MoneyGram back to him. First off though, he’d have to move the money to me.

He doesn’t have a token (it wasn’t ready the last time he came) so he got in touch with the bank and they asked him to fill out a form adding me as a beneficiary so this could be sorted.

He did this, sent it back. TWO days and a phone call after he was told his signature and house address were irregular. He changed them, sent them back. Sent a follow up email, called, nothing.

I called the bank this morning (19th December); spoke to a Chima Ikpe (gave him reference numbers (39xxxxxx, 39xxxxxx), his 01xxxxx and my account details 004xxxxx, etc.) who said the bank contacted my brother and that I should speak to him. He sounded extra confident so I rang my brother who confirmed what I knew: he had called the bank again and was asked to resend the documents (third time now), which he did immediately. No response.

I called back, this time spoke to an Oluwadunsin Mogaji who I was a little firmer with. I said I’d stay on the phone till the form was sorted, insisted on a resolution because I’m out of Nigeria next week. She placed me on hold, came back and said GTCare said they’d get in touch with my brother before close of business.

4.50pm. He said they’d emailed him asking him to call them so they’d verify/authenticate his request. I have a one question. Couldn’t they call him? You have his customer bio form. Why not call him?

Anyway, so he rang and after waiting on hold, network acting up et al, he hung up and asked me to call. I did. Spoke to a lady who said I couldn’t conference him in so I asked to speak with a manager. Exactly what happened on the 5th.

This lady put me on to Adeniyi Adeola, supervisor for the day. After I related the entire episode, gave them my name, brother’s name, our account details, and the reference numbers for the entire experience, he said the following

  1. For security purposes they couldn’t do a conference call
  2. They wouldn’t call him because their desk phones are not secure
  3. He has to keep trying.

So much for being customer care. I was upset, raising my voice et al. Who refunds all the money we’ve spent calling just to remain on hold? How can one transfer form be rocket science?

Time? 5.35pm. Mr Adeola said to me that call traffic at this time was low and so my brother should call again and ask for him.

Can I say that there’s 7 hours time difference between Nigeria and Malaysia? So it was almost 1am – he was awake at that time JUST for GTBank.

He called, and was on hold till his airtime ran out. See screenshot below.

2014-12-19 22.03.10

I was furious. Rang GTB, of course I was on hold again. By the time I was finally put through to the Mr Adeniyi Adeola, I was smoking from my ears. Told him of the time difference, reminded him I have to travel on Monday, reminded him of his false promise that traffic would be low, and asked what to do next, what he could do for my brother. He said, “Madam if there was anything else I could do I would have told you; your brother has to call.” That’s it.

I started saying something, I don’t remember what I was saying (I know I raised my voice well though) because I stopped, almost immediately. Why? He was laughing. GTB’s customer care rep, was laughing. I asked him what was funny, he said he wasn’t laughing; I’m neither daft, deaf, or without the ability to distinguish between speech and laughter. I knew I was spits away from tears so I thanked him for his time, promised to report to management, and I hung up.

Dear GTB, I’m tired. Exhausted. This is truly a most abusive relationship. Yesterday I was charged N9450 on an 800k withdrawal because the POS machines INSIDE the bank weren’t working (and my card didn’t work at the Hilton); I needed to pay for flights so I withdrew the money. Your staff (Christian somebody) couldn’t offer any solution to the faulty POS; afterwards he said I didn’t tell him I’d withdrawn money before, that there was nothing he could do.

I applied for an ATM card for my business account since August, I was only told in December (after I yelled) about an irregular signature. There is no week I’ve been in Nigeria I haven’t gone there. I didn’t complain because even though five months is a disgrace, the customer care guys in Abuja are lovely. Very lovely.

This isn’t healthy. I wasn’t born to talk to your staff, neither was my Twitter account registered in your name/for your benefit. Laughing at a customer? Apparently there are new depths you must explore.

I hear everything in Nigeria will kill a person. You currently top the list for me. So as soon as I get back in January, I will leave. I have tried. I will take my pennies and leave.