Posts Tagged ‘Digital storytelling’

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.

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.

It’s been a while since we had an interview with an entrepreneur and so it is with great pride and excitement that I introduce ‘Kayode Ajayi-Smith! He is a Social Entrepreneur with over 7 years cognitive experience in the third sector; and  currently leads a youth-led Non-Governmental Organization called Joint Initiative for Development (JID), famous for its Internship Connect Programme. So far, they’ve placed over 100 graduates on internships in Lagos and Abuja and in organizations like Dafinone Consulting, SHI, NOI Polls, CSR-In-Action, Goge Africa, and a host of other reputable organizations.

FGS: Hi Kayode! Very simply, the 3, 2, 1 series talks to entrepreneurs to capture the real life situations/experience of starting/building a business. The aim is not only to showcase their work but also to see that the next young person is spared the errors these entrepreneurs made because they now know how to get around them.

Kayode:  okay, let’s do it!

FGS:  Awesome… First off, what are three things you are most afraid of?

Kayode:  Number 1 would be not fulfilling my purpose according to God’s plan, 2 would be being a bad influence to the younger generation, and third would be marrying a wrong wife and partner but I am sure that has been taken care of.

FGS:  Ok, just to jump on your third point, are you already married or you’ve popped the question somewhere?

Kayode:  Yes I have popped the question; we’ll send invitations soon.

FGS:  Whoop! Congratulations!

Kayode:  Thanks

FGS:  Now, tell us about yourself, what gets you out of bed every morning?

Kayode:  I would say, it’s the need to make our communities a better place

I know I am engaged in other activities that all lead to that same goal of making our communities a better place. I guess that was why I chose to follow a career in the Third Sector (Non-Profits).

FGS:  And are you happy here in the Third Sector?

Kayode:  I am but it can be better.

FGS:  How?

Kayode:  Well, I think the sector needs a lot of accountability and legitimization; accounting and making the credibility of what we say we do visible. We also need to think sustainability especially in terms of ensuring that funding does not only come from donor sources but also from sustainable initiatives driven by collaborations with the organized private sector.

FGS:  What led you to grooming interns? Tell us about Joint Initiative for Development…

Kayode:  Okay, Joint Initiative for Development is a Youth-led Non-Profit Organization whose key goal is to increase citizens’ participation in the development of their communities. We are also keen on ensuring that more young people are involved in the development of their communities thus the reason the organization is led by young people between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. We have reached over 3,000 young people through our programmes, supported over 300 MSMEs and mobilized over 10 million Naira worth of donations to public schools.

 Kayode Ajayi-Smith

FGS:  How old is this business?

Kayode:  4years

FGS:  Wow! That’s a while… How many interns have passed through your organization?

Kayode:  The Internship Connect programme started a little over 2years ago. We commenced with a Pilot called Volunteer Training Scheme where we placed 27 interns in Abuja and scaled up into a full social business in August 2013. Today we have almost 150 interns placed in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

FGS:  What are two things that would make you change careers in a heartbeat?

Kayode:  God and the sustenance of my family.

FGS:  Ok. Back to the internship connect. What challenges have you faced with it?

Kayode:  Hmm, the recipients, and funding. By recipients I meant unemployed graduates. You see, our motive for starting the Internship Connect programme came from the rising unemployment figure in the country with youths being the worst hit. Private organizations’ constant lamentation of the poor quality of graduates from our tertiary institutions led us to find out what they really want and that helped us to develop our 2-day Employability and Competency skill training which helps unemployed graduates understand what the 21st century workplace requires.

I however think there’s a huge need to change the orientation of our youths and that of their parents.

FGS:  Hmmm. Explain please?

Kayode:  Okay, a lot of our graduates have a funny get-rich-quick or small work-huge-pay mind-set. This mentality has played out in all our interactions. We also observed that a lot of our young graduates are very lazy

FGS:  Tell me about that!

Kayode:  I will actually tell you. We started with collecting CVs from interns to submit to organizations; we observed that a lot of our graduates do not know how to prepare CVs. 8 out of 10 CV’s were rejected on average so we decided to organize the competency training.

After soliciting funds from individuals to cover the cost of the training so that lots of young people can benefit from it, they were surprisingly lackadaisical towards it! Some of them arrived 2 hours into the training

Sometimes, the facilitators (who work for other organizations and are around because we pleaded with them to give hours of their time) would have to wait for them to arrive.

We decided to charge a fee for the training sessions, and to our surprise (again) they started showing up, and on time too.

FGS:  Ahh! So you’ve learned something!

Kayode:  I must say that we have had quite a number of very good interns but we have had a lot of very terrible ones too. We once had an intern who we called a day to the interview (because the host organizations determine when and where interviews take place) and she said she couldn’t attend simply because we can’t give her just a day’s notice. Even when we informed her that it was at the employers’ request, she declined in an impolite manner and ended the conversation.

FGS:  Oh wow. Since you’re actively engaged with young people seeking employment, what is one thing you believe they should know/do/be?

Kayode:  I think for young unemployed graduates, the one thing they should know is, Service comes first if you must penetrate any system. I am and I still am, a product of service.

FGS:  That’s very nice

Kayode:  when I graduated I went to work for free and I walked my way into full-time employment. I have stories of several young people around the world and it ended the same way and even sometimes better. When you don’t have a job, I think it is best to be prepared to go work for free. It not only helps you to sharpen your skills but also helps you acquire new ones. It also helps you build a huge professional network, one that you will not get seating at home.

FGS:  Thank you very much Kayode for taking the time to chat with me today, for all the insights you’ve shared. Most grateful!

Kayode:  I was glad I could share. Thank you.

Kayode

 

Find more information about JID and internship connect here: http://www.ji4d.org/index.php/about-us and http://www.internshipconnect.net/whatwedo.html

 

So, have you been following the story?

Part one is here,

and

Part two is here.

You’re welcome!! Now, let’s get on with part three!

Hello Johannesburg! Na wa… First thing? There was a certain coldness I saw with the officials at the airport, seriously. I can’t explain, and I don’t want to sound prejudiced to all the stories I’d heard about the place, but there was that coldness I noticed.

Anyway, so when it got to my turn I walked up to the officer and said why I was in the country and that I was leaving in 48 hours. He asked a few questions about my visa and while I was rolling my eyes (in my mind), I noticed some guy trying to explain away his life to another officer and the officer repeatedly saying, “ I don’ believe you, I don’t believe you will leave.” No the young man wasn’t Nigerian; his accent was from a region (in Africa) I won’t mention because I couldn’t see his passport so I’m not sure.

As I took my passport back and walked away, I wondered if they would bounce him, and what fine his country would have to pay. And then I thought about a world so equal (or close to equal) that people could come and go as they pleased. Sigh.

Got my suitcase and the driver was waiting. His name is/was Max, and he gave us quite the tour as we drove to 20 West, Morningside, somewhere in Sandton. Benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed so much money for a 48 hour trip; now I have to find/squeeze another trip to SA to spend it. I’ll explain this sentence later.

On the way, we listened to radio, and at some point a song came on which I heard for the first time in San Antonio last Christmas. Guess what I did? I rang my cousin Chuma so he could hear the song! Lol! Such a laugh.

20 West is beautiful. Repeat after me, 20 West is beautiful. It’s both a hotel and self-catered apartments, and somehow, because my room was given out by mistake, I was upgraded to a self-catered apartment. Thank Jesus for mistakes that turn out to be blessings. Somebody shout halleluyah!

I went upstairs, and after oohing and aahing over the place, I took pictures! Want to see? Of course you do!

2015-03-22 15.02.08

All of this and I’m just here for two days? Please, amen to another trip already!!

2015-03-22 14.58.36

I gushed about the view so much I forgot to take a picture! Lol…

2015-03-22 15.01.29

Err, my photography skills were not up to the point of getting everything in this room. I missed the shower (left the toilet bowl out intentionally though, nothing special there biko)

2015-03-22 14.58.24

Then I hid my #FitFam uniform in a closet and ordered the juiciest burger I’ve had in a bit, complete with an extra helping of avocado. And a hot chocolate ( I know, I can’t be helped). And then I went to sleep. Peaceful sleep.

2015-03-22 15.45.21

Look at all that cheese… get in there!!

 

Woke up a couple hours later, caught up with Ruth Aine (who I first met in Germany in july 0f 2014), and after I spoke to friends and family, had a shower, watched a bit of TV, it was dinner time.

All about the Braai

Truth is, I would have passed up on dinner if Ruth didn’t mention we were having a “braai”which is the local name for a barbecue of sorts of different types of meats. So if I said, ‘I want to braai it’, I could easily have said ‘I want to barbecue it’.

Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed. The meats weren’t super tender/exciting, and there weren’t enough options for it to really qualify.

Even the potatoes weren't all that...

Even the potatoes weren’t all that… Ah. Sausage was lovely…

But, the corn was super tasty ( we had a lot of corn), and Benjamin Mipanghi, the Food and Bar Supervisor said yes to our request for fresh custard for our brownies. That was lovely!!

You can never go wrong with fresh custard!

You can never go wrong with fresh custard!

He also told me about a local dish I know I’m going to try when next I’m in South Africa; it’s called papa and mogudu, which is a maize meal and beef/tripe/offals stew. Even though I’m not one for offals (you’ll never find me in line for ‘assorted’ meat), I’m looking forward to trying this one. Really looking forward.

Dinner over, it was back in the room for a bit more work, a bit more TV, and then bed. Not before I took this incredible picture (if I must say so myself) of the view of the pool from my floor. Incredible.

Incredible.

Incredible.

Good night everyone, come back for part four soon!!

Right! So two days ago we started on the prep and the trip to South Africa via Addis Ababa for Foresight for Development’s Africa Roundtable. Of the options I was given for travel, I chose Ethiopian Airlines because I wanted the stopover story…

Good idea or not? We’re about to find out!

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We got into Addis about 8pm, and I was starving! We had to fill out forms with our seat numbers, country of departure, etc. thanks to Ebola, and then it was time to retrieve my luggage and find the bus which would take me to the hotel I’d been allocated.

Apparently, the name of the hotel was, ‘Ethiopia’. Turned out to be horrible. Jesus Christ! The WIFI only worked in the reception, the porter was rude, the food was (I cannot explain), and the room? On and on and on, I could complain for days, and you know I’m not exactly finicky. Kai.

Looks lovely, but believe me, this explains the 'not all that glitters is gold' saying perfectly!

Looks lovely, but believe me, this explains the ‘not all that glitters is gold’ saying perfectly!

Kai. I’m just upset. However, I bought a really lovely satchel I want to use as a laptop bag. Paid $10 for it, and the strap cut before I left the country. Tourist behaviour I know.

Next morning I got dressed and went down for breakfast before the ride to the airport. Note that I slept hungry (two bottles of coke helped, but only a bit), so I was looking forward to a good meal.

The 'orange juice' tasted like all those concentrates we used to dilute in secondary school, only that this one had been diluted waaaaaaaay too much! Ended up eating only the bread roll (with their sexy butter).

The ‘orange juice’ tasted like all those concentrates we used to dilute in secondary school, only that this one had been diluted waaaaaaaay too much! Ended up eating only the bread roll (with their sexy butter)… The other things I didn’t understand.

Left for the airport and the entire stretch there was a heavily armed policeman (more like army if you asked me) every block or so. Seemed weird, too much policing biko. Also seemed like everyone was running in one direction or the other (in the name of #FitFam), sometimes completely unconcerned by oncoming cars or bikes. I asked someone and she said the punishment for a driver knocking anyone down (especially if the person dies) is life imprisonment. Wow. Premium placed on the lives of their citizens as far as I am concerned; don’t know that it means people shouldn’t have common sense sha.

I was also told that you’re encouraged not to invest in the country if you’re not Ethiopian. Like, it doesn’t profit you and the government will work to frustrate you out. So much for foreign investment that Nigerian leaders are always junketing about for.

Ah! Before I forget, the sun rises very early in Addis! Like really early! About 5am it felt like noon… and there were a lot of people playing footie when we went outside. Looks like a lot of interest in fitness if you asked me!

I was excited to be back at the airport and away from that horrible, horrible hotel. Please don’t ever go there if you want a good night’s rest. The plane to Johannesburg was a lot better (did I mention in the first post that my seat was dodgy) and the food was lovely. Sexy butter anyone?

2015-03-22 11.21.40

On this flight I watched Penguins of Madagascar (love it), and B is for Boy, a film in Igbo. B is for Boy was incredible, and even though I didn’t like the way it ended (felt like the writer got tired and just wrote ‘the end’ in the middle of the story), it was a good film, telling the struggles of women trying for male kids because of tradition. It was very touching, the tribulation she suffered, and reinforced for me that in a marriage, the strongest tag team is between the man and wife. Not the man and his mother. Meaning that we (myself included) have nothing (or should have nothing) to do with grown ass men who great and intelligent and gorgeous and everything else that are, still work around connected to their moms via an umbilical cord made of heavy metal. Know any such people? Sigh. Back to the movie, it was really good, I remember tearing up at some point.

We touched down, and people started clapping. I was confused. No turbulence, no incident, nothing. Why clap? I mean I’ve heard tales of people clapping on the Dubai to Lagos route but I didn’t understand this one at all! Na wa.

By the way, Ethiopian ladies are beautiful. And their hips don’t lie! Gentle reminder for me to pick up on my squats, not about to ‘carry last’ biko.

Also seems like everyone is married. I don’t think I saw any lady without a ring on her ‘wedding finger’ Not one. Hian. Pressure us small small biko; there’s already so much pressure at home. Sigh.

Part three’s up in a few days, and it’s all about Johannesburg! Don’t miss it!

 

 

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!

Seasons greetings ladies and gentlemen, readers of the Fairy GodSister’s blog. Welcome! To the old-timers and the new readers, welcome! You are the reason I write; where would I be without your company?

So, what are your plans for Christmas? Mine? I’ll tell you in a minute.

Greetings from Texas, where I will be spending the holidays. Any bloggers in Texas? Say hello or something!

Now, how about how I got here? We’ll start from Friday, where I had a production meeting, did all sorts of running around, was frustrated by Guaranty Trust Bank (will update that story or do a follow up one in a bit), and lost my way close to midnight in the name of helping a friend.

Saturday, 7am we were on location to shoot my latest project, six short pieces on indigeneity, religious freedom, and belonging. I promise you can have a look when it’s ready! Lost an earring, somehow managed to spoil my HTC, but we had a lovely shoot and I’m really grateful to the cast and crew. Really grateful.

Got home about 9pm, entertained a guest till 11pm, then bedtime. Did I mention I’d been invited to Lagos for a meeting on Sunday? A meeting I couldn’t get out of. So it was off to the airport first thing in the morning. Drove to the airport, caught my Air Peace flight. It was alright I guess, nothing extra. Except for the silly man who wanted to pee just before we landed and started yelling at the hostesses when he was told he had to return to his seat. Silly, silly man, with all his “do you know who I am” foolishness. Yuck.

Insert GSD. Big smile.

Meeting was incredible – great minds, even greater ideas, and the outline of a lot of work that God wiling will lead to a greater, even more prosperous tomorrow for everyone. Amen.

Race back to the airport, big thank you to the gentleman who drove, and for pleasant company. Of course, my 5.35pm flight was delayed. Aero Contractors would have been renamed Chioma Contractors if they were on time! SMH. Finally boarded past 7pm, so I got in after 8pm. Thank God JT insisted I pack before the Lagos trip.

Monday morning. 22nd of December. Was up at 5.25am to put finishing touches to my packing. Packing? Yes. I’m off to London. I’d checked in, so I kinda took my time. Wrong move. Very wrong move.

We got to the airport area around 7.50am, and the queue stretched as long as it broke my heart. And there’s some refurbishment going on at the airport so what should have been a straight drive was windy, tenuous, and slow enough for me to come down, get someone to drag my box, and we raced to BA’s check-in counter.

There was only one lady left, and I was told there was no way I could get on the flight. I was directed to the manager on duty, and I was still telling her how I couldn’t miss the flight (if I had a pound for every time I’ve used that phrase, sigh) when she said, “I’ve already told them to check you in”. Oh!! Thank you God! So they accepted my first suitcase, don’t roll your eyes but my carryon was in the taxi. So I ran out, got it, and ran back. I must have looked like a really crazy lady, sigh. Anyway, boarded, slept. Woke up to eat, slept. Woke up, struggled through Rio 2 (yup, watched it again), Boyhood, and half of The Hundred Hour Journey, and it was sleep, a sandwich, and we’d landed!

Immigration sorted, and I got in a pod to head to my hotel. To be honest, I decided to stay in this hotel because I’d be able to take a pod there. It’s the only hotel accessible by the pod so why not? Plus it was waaaay cheaper than Sofitel and the Hilton which I’d considered, and for the price I paid, it was really lovely! A couple selfies, trip to Dartford and back, and the loveliest chicken tikka masala after, it was bed time!

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Morning! How did you sleep? Very well for me thank you… Shower, a bit of work, then it was breakfast (my usual omelettes, hashbrowns, beans, and sausages) and back to the airport in the pod. More selfies! And yup, another trip! Last one for at least two weeks.

Hello Austin!! Ten hours after. With their silly airport without free WIFI. We took a couple selfies, popped into Houston, where we had a lovely dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousins – so lovely to see everyone! We gisted, laughed, recounted stories, and now, we’re at another cousin’s house.

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Thank you Lord for strength. For safe travels. For safety, especially on Friday night. Thank you for family, for love, for peace, for togetherness. Super grateful Lord! Thank you for a the beginning of a fabulous Christmas!

I was at House on the Rock The Refuge today the 31st of August, a few hours before the ’ember months’ broadcasts start flying around on Blackberry, Twitter, and Facebook. Miss me with that nonsense please. God bless you.

I digressed; church was many shades of amazing! To be honest, the only church that compares to HOTR for me is my home church, Hillsong. There’s something about the amount of care and preparation that goes into readying their services that makes it super exciting for me.

I was blessed by the testimonies, especially the lady whose sister God snatched from death, and the guy who now has two flexible, well-paying jobs. There was the single mom whose son has now come to Christ and is now in university and away from his rough friends, and yes, there was the guy who heard a word from Pastor Goodheart in 2001, ‘ran’ with it and has now received a mandate letter from the Federal Government to bring his 9-year-old dream to life! Exciting stuff, God is truly amazing!

And then Asu Ekiye took to the stage, and I couldn’t sit down! Yes! Yes! Yes! From the first song till his team left the stage, I was catapulted to several times in 2013 when my darling aunty Pat and I would play loud music on the days before she fell ill, and then days when she didn’t feel a lot of pain.

Sometimes, I would wake up to Yinka Ayefele, some other times it would be Kefee (of blessed memory), and then of course it would be Asu Ekiye blasting through the roof. How no one ever reported us for disturbance I don’t know, and you know how paper-thin walls can be in England.

It always annoyed me when she did that (because I have the craziest sleep patterns); she’d leave the music on (at its highest), and then open my door just so I’d hear her sing along to it. When I opened my eyes she’d say, “eye no go rotten” or “sleep no be death”. If I frowned, she’d say, “I just came to visit you o, you don’t know if I’m an angel”, and that would make me smile. I miss her to pieces.

And so when Asu Ekiye started to minister, I danced my heart out in honor of God, and in honor of my aunty. I flashed back to the times we’d play these Nigerian traditional tunes, and then I’d dance to show her the steps I’d put on during my traditional marriage (even when I wasn’t dating anyone). I remember asking to check if my bum was shaking or not. Lol!

I miss her. I miss her. Kai.

P:S – At this point I shut my moleskine and concentrated on the service. So I wouldn’t cry too much. :)

Sometime in the middle of the month I became a little fed-up of sending countless reminders to people to send in their pieces. By the 24th I’d missed two days, and I didn’t want to miss anymore, so I stopped mailing people and used the opportunity to publish pieces I’d written since June.

And suddenly, people started getting in touch to say their posts were almost ready. Lol. But then Ore emailed his, apologizing for being late, and without reading it (or checking the word count), I replied saying I felt he overshot the word count but I would publish today. He was sure he did 600 words and he said so. He was right, and I’m sorry.

I just read it now and it must have been God who made me pick this post for today. Dang!! Home truth after home truth, homie hit every note with this piece! Like, I’m so excited with it! Whoop! Feels like such a beautiful end to a beautiful series, and I couldn’t be any more chuffed!

Enjoy!

 

I bought a pack of Post-It notes today.

Or maybe I didn’t, I’m not sure.

Okay, I didn’t.

Seems like I need to constantly remind myself to remember.

And also to never forget that my life is beautiful.

Because it is.

But how did I get here?

 

Several times this year I have felt deeply sorry for myself, wallowing in self-generated moroseness as I contemplated my apparent lack of achievements. I would waste hours drawing up comparisons between myself and others who seem to have gotten it together, whatever that means. In the end, there would be no lesson learned and no grand plan for a swift turnaround conceived. A miserable state of affairs, if I may say so myself.

I wasn’t doing myself any good and I knew it, but the habit had become far too ingrained for me to dispatch it with a swift kick. And so I carried on in this pathetic way, patching my doubt-ridden self-esteem inwardly with hollow motivational speeches delivered without any feeling to my equally unbelieving reflection in the mirror, and outwardly with smiles so superficial that could very well have been velcroed onto my face.

Until one day when, out of the greys (the skies never seemed blue then), I asked myself the one question I had never before thought to ask:

So I need a turnaround, but a turnaround from what exactly?

The answers, they tumbled out from the depths of my soul of their own accord:

1. From a family that treats me like I’m a godsend?

2. From a job I’m incredibly good at?

3. From the God who loves me unconditionally even though I have failed Him too many times to count?

And on I went with the list of positives, like a man who all is life had been convinced that he was lame but suddenly found that he could not just walk but fly.

 

Stacked up this way, my blessings dwarfed my mountain of supposed underachievement. You see, I had been wearing my misery-coloured shades for so long that all the good things in my life had become near-invisible and my measure of success was all the stuff I didn’t have, stuff I didn’t even need to be happy.

Bear with me while I struggle not to come off as preachy, please.

I’m truly sorry if you have no place for the God of the universe in your world, He makes all the difference. I’m as sure of this as I have no doubt that if I eat a meal of boiled beans and go to bed right afterwards, I will wake up with an upset stomach. That has never failed to happen, and God has never failed to come through for me. That is no small comfort.

So I am thankful for my faith in Him. That faith will guide me to everything good. At my own pace. In His time. I’m not in a hurry, lest my feet find paths they were not made to follow.

I am no longer afraid of the world’s critical examination of my life, no longer afraid that my shortcomings will be spotlighted and my carefully cultured thick skin will rupture as soon as the shower of prickly insults cleverly disguised as ‘good’ advice begins to rain down on me.

I have learned to count my blessings, and they have begun to grow.

And because I have been counting, I am becoming a blessing myself.

If that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.

The rest of the year will be fine. I look forward to more counting.

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Boom! What did I tell you? Absolutely loved it!

When I put out the call for writers, Abimbola said she was up for it, and promptly sent in an entry. For some reason, I didn’t find it, and so I emailed two weeks after asking if she was still interested. Right after I sent it I found her piece, and I apologised (truth is I’d had a really dodgy day), and somehow we exchanged emails that told me her piece would be perfect for today. Today, the 21st of July, 2014.

Thank you dear for writing in, and for taking the time to email back and forth the other day. You don’t know what it did for me. Hugs!

When I started writing this, the rains had just emptied out in a ferocious, torrential display of annoyance. Another Nigerian had just died; my aunt and the downpour reflected all that no words could say yet. Getting the email from Chioma around this time I could only think “what the heck, not like I’ve got any business to promote?” and the still small voice reminded me “what about the message burning in your heart?”

I am Onaoluwa Abimbola, 100% Nigerian and Health Care-for-all Advocate.

Despite the disparities or perhaps because of it, disease and death is definitely a leveler. Everyone dies and diseases do not discriminate these days. Previously labelled “big-man’s” diseases are now rampant in the general population no thanks to GMO foods (if you believe that propaganda anyway).

This first half of the year has been an extended period lesson on the importance of appropriate health care access for all regardless of class or personal station. Watching mothers cry on two occasions now and lament the wickedness of the “doctors” who kept on treating malaria for two weeks without benefit of a monitoring electrolytes screen till a patient crossed over into renal failure; I felt the weight of the system failure. Perhaps with regular laboratory workups on hospital visits (which incidentally was one of the conclusions of my project thesis at UNN), Mama Wale would still be with us. At the time her doctors ordered an Electrolytes /Urea/Creatinine test, her blood urea levels had already hit the roof and she was referred to another hospital for every other day dialysis. Referral Thursday evening, dead Saturday morning! She had shown no physical signs of kidney disease, no edema of limbs, no swollen belly; even in death, she had remained her ultra-slim beautiful self.

Still I am grateful to God, who always loves us, providing the right help at the exact time of need; a smile, a word – ‘hello’, a text message, sometimes comments by complete strangers on social media and a life is renewed. We die daily and that which reawakens in us the urge to keep fighting is aided by the love we get from wonderful family and friends; found even in unexpected places. That has been my testimony from late last year… an unexpected hospital admission far away from home, mismanaged Malaria and the sequelae of drug side effects that followed inspired a post on HAID Initiative’s blog.

What’s left of 2014 and beyond? I look forward to a Nigeria where force no longer wins rights, where violence and anarchy are not the ready tool for making demands.  As a corollary to that, a beautiful dream of mine is of a Nigerian health sector where the key players recognise that a team made of only a lead horse tied to several others behind is more prone to accidents: a united team of horses in their majestic beauty does the job and excellently too. When Presidents, Ministers are able to trust our hospitals again, the man on the street will no longer feel that where healthcare is concerned ‘OYO’ is the buzzword. Perhaps, even our beloved Dora would be here, as regular checks in the land where she lived and worked would have meant an earlier detection. A first sign that this dream will become possible for Nigeria, would be the suspension of all strikes in the public Health Sector henceforth and hopefully a renewed willingness by all involved in the business of healthcare provision in Nigeria to bury the hatchet and begin to chart a new course – forward.

I remain unapologetically Nigerian and the task of ensuring Nigeria trumps all her teething problems is our collective responsibility.

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Kindred spirit!