Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’

Day six already! Whoop! God is great!

Right, so who’s on today? It’s Titi!! I’ve known her for a few years now, from my days at the BBC. She’s been producer, scriptwriter, director, kai, you name it! One of my favorite things about ‘working for the Queen’ was the number of skills we all had to pick up. Like it was an aberration to only be able to do one thing, and I’m better for it.

When Titi sent in her entry, it resonated with me, especially when she talked about Northern Nigeria because I spent a good number of my formative years there, and I hate what it’s become no thanks to the insurgency and wanton destruction going on there. Sigh.

Anyway, let’s get on to Titi’s entry!

My name is Titilayo Olamide Margaret. A few people call me Maggie, very few call me TOMA and a lot of people call me Tai Tai or Tintin lion. I am a graduate of English and Drama but as at the time I went to get my certificate, my department decided to adopt a new name and so I am forced to say I am a graduate of Theatre and Performing Arts from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I live in Zaria, Kaduna state.

2015 . . . . hmmmmm, a year to always remember. I am thankful for a million things that I am sure I can’t remember some. But what stands out most in my head is the fact that I am thankful for life and the spirit to let go.

With the elections in 2015, a lot of apprehension about the outcome permeated the air especially for us living in the North. The fear became real when each day we saw people clearing their houses to return to their villages for fear of the aftermath of the elections. But today, I am grateful that it all ended well.

I am grateful for the lives of everyone around me, 2015 despite all its economic strains, insurgency and fears, and I am thankful that we never had to deal with anything greater than us.

Most importantly, I am grateful for the spirit to let go….. I laugh a lot, play a lot and open to people but I am also a me person. I hold on to a lot of things especially the negatives and I might not say it out, I keep it in me and keep on chewing on it in my heart. This year, I told myself I will not hold anyone or any event responsible for whatever or wherever I find myself. I have learnt and been able to let go of all the aches, the hurts, the bitterness and disappointments that life has thrown at me and I have drummed and believed in my mantra, ‘I have not given anyone or anything the power to ruin my joy’.

My name Titilayo means joy for ever and I am living and determined to live my life in total joy.

What I will do differently, love more, do more for those around me and keep on making people especially children around smile and be happy for as long as I can.

What I will undo if I can is the choices I made in holding unto those that hurt me. Doing that did not made me better and at least I am glad that I am still friends with them.


Amen to letting go of people who have hurt us, such a powerful, lightening message to carry into the new year. I know I have some letting go to do too… Thank you for sharing Titi!

By the way Titi, so which is it now? Do I graduate into calling you Toma or Tai Tai or Tintin lion? Choose, or I will choose for you!

PS: Amen to your joy lasting forever! Big amen!

Like every other Nigerian desirous of movement between two states with airports, I bought Arik Air tickets to Asaba for the 23rd of April, paid for them online.

That morning I rang our friend at the airport to get my boarding pass only to be told the airline had issues and wouldn’t be flying at all that day. I saw in the papers later that day that they were owing airport authorities over a billion naira and so were stopped from flying. The shameful thing is they were still selling tickets, with no plans in place to cater to customers with disrupted flights apart from “we apologize for the inconveniences caused!” Why?

Anyway, since Aero unceremoniously stopped flying to Asaba about two weeks to this date (their site said no flights till the second week of May – again for no reason at all), my only option was to go by road and get a refund from Arik. Suffice to say, one full month plus after I’m still talking to Arik about this refund – it’s incredible.

Road trip abi? I haven’t done this in a loooong time so I was excited, very curious too. The entire gist about roads getting fixed, etc, I was more than eager to see. I was also curious about the rest stops on the way, like has anything about them changed from the time my main means of interstate transportation was by road? Would I sleep as soundly as I do on planes? Would I have a neighbor who wouldn’t shut up? Questions, questions, questions.

Friday morning I got to Dunamis Motors (a long distance car service) where I would have just taken a car by myself, and they said all their cars had been chartered. No surprises there at all.

I went to Delta Line, and there were only buses, the cars had left. Ok. I decided to buy up a row of seats so I would be comfortable/by myself/undisturbed. I explained to the lady selling them said she had two seats on the row I wanted and then one at the back of the bus. I explained (like the 3rd time) that I was the only one travelling so single, scattered seats all through the buses wouldn’t profit me much.

When she offered me the same two seats on a row and then one of the seats in front with the driver, I quietly paid for the two I already had and went to sit down.

When it was our turn we boarded the bus, and I made sure to tell the older gentleman beside me I paid for the two seats because I wanted space, and then I started arranging my bag to fall asleep. A loud voice (coming from a very elderly lady) totally cussing out the driver delayed the sleep; apparently she’d seen him smoking something and asked him if he was the driver. He said no. Then he gets in the driver’s seat and she proceeds to rain curses that reminded me why I should never piss off an elder. She cursed him, his generation, on and on and on till people started begging her, that the guy she was heaping all these curses on was going to drive us (including her) to Asaba. Then she chilled.

Two minutes after the door was shut, THE SAME LADY said we should “commit the journey AND THE DRIVER into the hand of Master Jeses” I started laughing. Hilarity. The same driver you just cursed out? Ahn Ahn!

No jokes o, this old lady started singing and invited us ‘children of the Most High God’ to join her in worshipping the Lord. So from ‘in the morning’, to ‘all glory glory glory’, ‘we are gathering together’, brethren in Christ, we sang. I was so amused!

Songs and prayers over, the driver drove into a petrol station, where we spent the next 50 minutes waiting to buy fuel. I nearly lost my mind. How do you pack all of us into this kind of rubbish movement? What happened to getting fuel BEFORE picking us?

It gets worse. For the hour we spent on the queue, guess how much fuel we bought? N1870. The princely sum of one thousand, eight hundred and seventy naira, including the 10-litre gallon he said he would need (which of course we ended up not needing). Kai. I haven’t been that angry in a while.

Well, we set off, finally, and I can count at least 6 times we nearly hit another car, a pole, ran into the bush, flew over a speed breaker, or some other avoidable incident. At a point I wondered if it wasn’t the curses working a little quickly.

We got to the rest stop (I promise I don’t remember where it was again), and I went to pee. The young girl manning the place nearly followed me inside the cubicle in the name of calling me ‘ma’. When I was leaving I tipped her, and then had to ask her to stop following me. Even if I had a child and didn’t know, SMH.

Got back outside and the bus and driver had disappeared. Hian!! At first I thought I’d taken too long and the bus had left me till I saw a cluster of the other passengers talking at the top of their voices, asking for our driver dearest. I started laughing, and checking that I had WIFI so I could tweet and ask for anyone in the area to come get me. Moved closer to the passengers and someone said the driver went to fix his brakes, that they were bad.

What!!! Bad brakes and we’d come all this way? Sigh. The things we do beggar belief walai. And he couldn’t even tell anyone, it was the lady he bought water from who told us!!

He came back, didn’t apologize to anyone (matter of fact started raking that we should be lucky he noticed the brakes were dodgy). Of course that meant I didn’t sleep from there to Asaba, we were all driving with the guy.

God being most merciful, we got into Asaba ok. A lot later than we should have, but we got in ok. And Momma came to get me from the park, so I promptly forgot the driver. Till I was searching through my bad for aspirin (naughty headache that’s refused to go away) and I saw the ticket for that trip.

And I had a good laugh. And then I chronicled the trip for you.

PS – Written on the 23rd of April.

Last year, I attended an event on Climate Change. Sadly, even though I promised to do so immediately after the event, I’m only just getting to write about it. So, mea culpa…but I did write about the entire weekend, and called it ‘Green Deal Weekend’.

So why am I writing now? Well, I’m in London and we’re currently drifting between 0 and 4 degrees. Interestingly, over the last couple of days in Abuja, Nigeria, everyone I know has complained about the scorching heat. Matter of fact one person made a joke and said,

“why can’t the devil just apologise to God so we can all go back to living naked in the Garden of Eden? This heat is terrible!”

Also, recently on CNN, I watched a clip about the extremes of weather in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square over a mere 24-hour period. On 23rd January zero visibility, smog and air pollution. On the 24th January, clear and bright as a beautiful summer day. The picture below, courtesy Feng Li/Getty Images has an instructive depiction.

BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 24: (EDITORS NOTE - IMAGE SHOT ON THE 360 PANORAMA IPHONE APPLICATION) This combination of photos shows (bottom) the Tiananmen Square during severe pollution on January 23, 2013, and the same view (top) taken during clear weather on January 24, 2013 in Beijing, China. The air quality in Beijing on Wednesday hit serious levels again, as smog blanketed the city.

BEIJING, CHINA – JANUARY 24: (EDITORS NOTE – IMAGE SHOT ON THE 360 PANORAMA IPHONE APPLICATION) This combination of photos shows (bottom) the Tiananmen Square during severe pollution on January 23, 2013, and the same view (top) taken during clear weather on January 24, 2013 in Beijing, China. The air quality in Beijing on Wednesday hit serious levels again, as smog blanketed the city.

We are witness to flooding of biblical proportions in Nigeria this past year. Hundreds of thousands literally washed out of their farms and homes caused by a supposedly life-enabling natural resource – water. Say hello to climate change, the child of global warming, and to the continuous stripping of the ozone layer. The World Wide Fund for Nature is leading the response with several interventions, and they have most of the terms around climate change defined in very simple, every day terms on their website.

I’ll be honest and say that apart from switching off lights when I’m not using them, recycling plastics and bottles and spending less time in the shower, any talk about climate change before now was just another ‘first world’ problem. Third world countries (including mine) had bigger issues to deal with – poverty, security, maternal and child health, youth empowerment, etc.

Late last year though I attended this Green Deal Nigeria event; one stop in the set of consultative fora organised by Heinrich Boll to foster debates on how to transition Nigeria to a “green economy that is low-carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive“. Beyond the fact that three young Nigerians, @abangmercy, @xeenarh, and @omojuwa, brilliant friends of mine would be making presentations, it would be an opportunity to understand and exchange views on the many issues around the vexed (and vexing) questions around the increasingly urgent demand to treat live responsibly within our God-given environment.

The three major thrusts of the discussion that day were Agriculture, Making the Case for Renewable energy, and Oil.

I focused my note taking on agriculture because it is the least on the ladder of priorities for our government today, oil being at the top.

Climate Change greatly affects agricultural practices – it impacts on rainfall with consequences on soil quality, temperature etc. I have reproduced notes I took on the day below:

  • Agriculture provides a viable, more sustainable foundation for economic growth and youth empowerment. Youth because they are form the largest demographic (60% of the population) and the highest rural – urban migrants too.
  • Climate change is a problem that is escalating by the day in Nigeria. From coastal erosion and land loss in Calabar and Lagos, to desertification in Yobe/Sokoto, to full-scale erosion in Anambra state, at this rate the ecological future isn’t bright.
  • It’s been predicted that Nigeria’s 160 million strong population could rise above 220million by 2050; Nigeria is unable to feed itself, and is currently the world’s largest importer of rice and fish.
  • 60% of the Nigerian population earn their living from farming; the need for training and infrastructural development to complement this sector of the economy should take precedence over oil.
  • Lack of development leaves a lot of room for conflict. The farmer in an eroded area with nothing to do and no source of income is the easiest to recruit and brainwash for extremism.

How do you encourage young people to farm?

  1. Create access to good land that they don’t have to struggle with politicians/government officials for. Ratify policies separating allocations of land strictly for agriculture.
  2. Institute training and commercialisation programmes for farmers.
  3. Provide access to loans with a cap on at most 10% interest, and with collaterals that correspond with their living conditions. So you don’t someone who lives in the village for collateral that includes landed property in Abuja.

What would increase your interest in agriculture? Share!