Posts Tagged ‘Africa Cup of Nations’

So this past week has been filled with people dying or the remembrance or interment of dead people. Not anyone I knew personally, but you all know how I get about death. It’s the sharpest wake up call for everyone, myself inclusive.

First off, Stephen Keshi passed on the 8th of June, he wasn’t up to 60. Keshi holds quite a few awards and records (which I’m sure you all already know so I won’t go into them). He is however the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, and the second person in history to win the competition as a player and as a coach after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt when he led the Super Eagles to win the tournament in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Whoop!

His wife of 35 years passed on sometime last year (she had cancer), and news reports say he never really recovered from her death. News reports also say he had a heart attack. A few things.

  1. His four children are now orphans (incredible how one event has now changed the course of events for their children)
  2. Even people who gave him great grief as coach for Nigeria’s football team were singing his praises after he passed.

The 8th of June is the anniversary of former military dictator Sani Abacha. He died in 1998. I think everything I think about that is summarised in this tweet I pushed out same day.

Screenshot 2016-06-11 07.30.12

Then, last night I watched the memorial service for Muhammad Ali, an inter-faith service in his hometown Louisville Kentucky and attended by the leaders of just about every religion. I read somewhere (and I think Lonnie Ali, his wife mentioned it too) that he had planned his funeral this way, just like he planned his mom’s.

Quick recap from the BBC’s website about Ali.

Screenshot 2016-06-11 07.35.37

I don’t think I’ve watched a ‘richer’ memorial service, overflowing with stories about this one man who was and will always be the greatest. Everyone talked about how he had helped, inspired, rewritten the rules, stood for what he believed in, on and on, and on; his vanity and great sense of humor not excluded. It was really beautiful and makes me want to do so much more with my life. So much more.

Then, this morning, just seen on Twitter that the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amodu Shuaibu, has passed on, aged 58. Apparently he complained of pain in his chest last night, and didn’t wake up this morning.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead, and I pray God in His mercies provides the comfort and strength that only He can.

We need to have an urgent national conversation about life expectancy in Nigeria, and healthcare services beyond the workshops, conferences, and stakeholder meetings that do not achieve anything tangible beyond per diem and pretty stationery.

A bigger conversation we need to have within ourselves is the one about what we’re doing with our time here, and what we want to be remembered for. And also about life being short and therefore striving to make every single day count.

I heard this quote last night; John Ramsey, family friend and former radio host said Muhammad Ali used to say, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” He said Muhammad not only paid his in full, he’d paid it forward.

What’s up with your rent?

Welcome to the third and concluding part of the ‘That Irish Weekend’ series; parts one and two are here and here. 

Before I go on, I think (read as I know) I would do well as a travel writer, I just can’t help moving around! For me sometimes I think the buzz lies in the fact that ‘oh I’m going somewhere’; mode of transportation, accommodation don’t really count (even though I have a low threshold for inconveniencing myself, lol), the joy is in the ‘movement’. So this is me putting myself out, need someone to explore a destination? Hola!!

Back to my weekend. Had a massive breakfast (whoop), and then it was time to head out to visit St Valentine‘s shrine. Matter of fact, one of the greatest incentives for this trip was finding out I would be able to pray at his Shrine, especially in this month of love! We set off for Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church, and it’s such a magnificent building! Truth is Dublin has loads of ancient buildings, and I’m always, always at home in such places. It feels like there’s so much history in the air, so much to explore, to learn, and to encounter! Found this site with a bit of additional reading on St Valentine

We got in, and I lit a candle, said a prayer, wrote a prayer, and then….. took pictures! Don’t even scrunch your nose or anything, it’s a major tourist site, and how else would I convince you I was there?

Writing a prayer request.... St Valentine pray for us!

Writing a prayer request…. St Valentine pray for us!

Lighting a candle for my family....

Lighting a candle for my family….

Pious mode, there was so much to be amazed by, was just in awe!

Pious mode, there was so much to be amazed by, was just in awe!

This box contains a tinge of St Valentine's blood!!! Awesome!!!

This box contains a tinge of St Valentine’s blood!!! Awesome!!!

View of one of the shrines....

View of one of the shrines….

Not really sure who's on the sides but I know that's Jesus crucified in the middle....

Not really sure who’s on the sides but I know that’s Jesus crucified in the middle….

After a very fulfilling time at the church, we set off to find a place to watch the Nigeria vs Cote d’Ivoire African Cup of Nations (AFCON) match. Went to a spot called the living room but they were charging €5 entry. Why on earth? The day before Ireland played rugby, wonder how much they would have charged then, SMH. We went back to The Woolshed Baa and Grill, and had a really lovely platter of nachos with guacamole, cheese, and chili! Then we watched the match, and the Super Eagles did us proud!!! We won!! Whoop!! 2-1!!

Didn’t make it to the Guinness Storehouse in time for the final admission so I didn’t get to the tour, sigh. I wasn’t too upset though because even though I’m never chuffed by football, it was great to watch our boys play, and win! If we had lost I would have been livid.

I took some pictures outside sha, and like one of the staff told us, it’s an excuse to visit again!!

At Guinness Storehouse, was trying to form vex...

At Guinness Storehouse, was trying to form vex…

Covering my face in mock anger, how could we have missed last admissions?

Covering my face in mock anger, how could we have missed last admissions?

Honestly? Don't know what I was saying here....

Honestly? Don’t know what I was saying here….

Fine gyal!! Bombaclat!!

Fine gyal!! Bombaclat!!

Aha!!! Saw this store, apparently Primark in the UK is Penney's in Ireland!

Aha!!! Random photo – Saw this store, apparently Primark in the UK is Penney’s in Ireland!

I have quite a few more pictures from this trip o, I think at last count they were about 300, but I understand that your purpose for existence is not to look at pictures (lol) so I did 10 per post. Just had to say that.

I’m grateful for a peaceful, extra productive weekend, for finances, safe travels, food, good health, and for privileges I don’t deserve, but enjoy. God is good to me. I must also thank Teju for the awesome pictures, and for showing and taking me around. You rock!

Next trip? Not sure yet, but you’ll be the first to know!

So it’s 2am, and I’m awake. Not because this was one of those nights that sleep eluded me, but because I just got off the most enchanting phone call ever. As people who know me probably know now, I love it when my phone rings. Not every time, and definitely not for every caller. There are some for whom my heart skips – my mother, because she always has a word of blessing and peace (she’s my unending miracle), my father, because he will always make me laugh, my sister, because we always find a way to cheer each other up even in the face of adversity, my brother, because he is the smartest, most handsome brother in the world, with the funniest jokes, and the biggest loads of encouragement for his baby sister.

There are some for whom my heart skips, not only when they call at 1.30am in the morning just so they can fall asleep to my voice; they call and say, ‘tell me how you feel Babe’, and then before the first word is out of my mouth, they’re dreaming it – it’s perfectly ok, and somehow I still think that the next time will be different, that they won’t fall asleep (thought that the last two hundred times now). Thoughts at two, I love you, yes you.

I spent most of my night chatting with a dear friend who doubles as my counselor, and my shrink. We talked about love, about friendships, about the reason why we all shouldn’t judge. We talked about life being various shades of gray rather than black and white like we erroneously ascribe to the circumstances of others, but expect everyone to ‘understand’ when it’s us. I came away from that conversation determined to be a little better at understanding people. Shortly after I watched Chimamanda Adichie‘s Ted Talk she titled, ‘the danger of a single story’ – couldn’t be more of a confirmation of the discussion I’d had.

I also watched Sarah Kaminsky’s story of her father who for 30 years was a forger of documents, passports; you name it, he forged it. Wrinkling your nose in your mind yet? Believe it or not it was for a good cause, to deliver the poor and oppressed; his works were mostly during World War 2. It was such a pleasure that he was in the audience, and took a bow at the end of her talk.

What am I thinking of at 2am in the morning? I’m excited for the heroes welcome the Super Eagles got for winning the African Cup of Nations – I’m excited about the joy it’s brought every Nigerian. I am afraid though, that it is again one of the quick fixes that distract us from the many things that plague us. The boys have been gifted millions of naira by Dangote, by Adenuga; they have received national honors, landed property, and more money from Mr President. That caters to them, with their football ages that would put many a young vixen to shame. What happens to raising the next generation of AFCON, maybe even Olympic gold winners? What happened to celebrating today, but making plans for tomorrow? The celebrations of tonight to my mind are a tad reminiscent of King Herod offering his belly dancing daughter the half of his kingdom but hey, that’s just me.

What else is on my mind? I’m thinking of my nephew, and his two teeth, how adorable he is, and how I cannot wait to see him again, feed him (hopefully I won’t have to force him), strap him to my back (oh yes I can do that), and cuddle, and sing, and coo, and just be with this very precious gift from God to us.

I’m thinking of my future, and what I want to do/be because sometimes it’s really easy to get wrapped up in only the things people want for us, rather than things we really want for ourselves. I’m thinking critically if I want to be in England, or if I want to be in Nigeria, and be one short flight away from my folks, one short drive away from a church where the music is of heaven, and one ‘dramatic’ phone call away from you. I’m thinking of the idea for a charity I’ve had since January 2007, and wondering why six years after, I haven’t been bold enough to start. I know that’s all I need to do, start.

I’m thinking of today, thinking of tomorrow, thinking of times when I didn’t think at all (like this afternoon when I said I’d wash my hair but ended up with a very low cut), and finally, thinking of my yesterday, and being thankful that I might not be where I want to be, but I’m definitely not where I started.

And that’s enough, even for 2am.

That's me, and my new hair cut.

That’s me, and my new hair cut.