Posts Tagged ‘Fairy GodSister’

2016 has been an interesting year for me like I can imagine it’s been for a lot of people. For starters, my niece was born in February so I’ve got two shining lights in my life now. My family is great, work could be better but it’s good too, and pieces of my life have fallen in and out of place at different times.  The vagaries of life, isn’t that what some would call it?

In the past few days, I’ve been reading a book by Jon Ronson, “So you’ve been publicly shamed” talking about the democratisation of public shaming ab how people online and offline have developed a voice, one empowered to dispense justice as occasion serves.

From Max Mosley to Justine Sacco, Ronson chronicles stories of public shaming, the manifestation of deindividuation and how shaming is becoming a form of social control. Deindividuation refers to people partaking of things in a group they probably wouldn’t pioneer if, they had to individually. A more relatable, somewhat simpler term would be ‘The Mob’.

The book was personal for me in several ways, explaining a few concepts I want to work on in the New Year. I thought about the relief that confessions bring, and even though I’ve never said “Father forgive me for I have sinned” in a booth, I have felt (and I imagine it’s the same for a lot of people) the relief that comes from opening to God, a friend, partner, colleague, or parent. The “I don’t have to carry this alone” feeling, the belly-deep peace, the flat feeling equivalent of ‘he who is down fears no fall’, ground zero. At that point, emptiness is welcome. Feeling spent is almost a positive.

Shaming as it applies to men and women is also something this book explores in detail, how sexual issues (impropriety, idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms) are more likely to taint and damage women than men. ‘Slut-shaming’ as the offence and the punishment, an interesting concept, is also discussed. For instance, a woman is involved in a sex-scandal with a man, and the commentary naturally weighs more on her end, as snarky as it is hurtful and unforgiving. The man is mentioned, but it is the woman whose story is told with relish, her person and career hacked into. Women rarely ‘come back’ from the scandal.

As the punishment – a woman is in the spotlight for something the mob sees as wrong, whether it be financial impropriety or the misspeaks that are all too common online these days. The responses most of the time will bear on her sexuality, prescribing some sort of sexual punishment that deviates almost completely from the crime. Blame patriarchy, blame globalised expressions of ancient practices, blame anything you want.

How do people recover from a shaming? The truth is some people never do. Some others take years to rid themselves of the stigma, and even then, never completely succeed; it resurfaces every time they do, a permanent reminder of a wrong decision taken. Some others ignore it, and in doing so ‘take the power’ away from their traducers. There is a Yoruba saying that goes, “You cannot remove a man’s cap in his absence”. Not that a person cannot be shamed in their absence, but they must mentally enter that ‘dock’ for it to have any effect.

It might explain the ‘lack of shame’ that we say is ostensive in Nigerian/African/fix in your country’s leaders; the mental absence from the ‘gibbet’ where the shaming should occur. Think African leaders who have buried their umbilical cords in their offices and refuse to step down or hand over. But, I digress.

There is also ‘disrespecting the narrative’ created by the shaming which was influenced by the narrative of the action by creating a third narrative. Stay with me. Let’s say Ada does something ‘bad’ – narrative one. The public shames her – narrative two. She can decide to curl up and hide, or completely ignore the shaming, or she can flip the situation and create narrative three, make it anything she wants. That narrative disrespects one and two and is where my interest lies.

There are variations to shame, and the trauma caused by shaming. Various things trigger this trauma, and it differs from person to person. Same way grief, its manifestations and triggers are personal and differ from person to person.

Perhaps this is a good place to stop and express the rest of my thoughts when I finish reading the book and reflecting. Perhaps a nice concluding statement would be to take an extra minute before losing ourselves in the mobs that play judge and jury online/offline. Even when we think we have all the facts. Even when we convince ourselves that the person is worthy of the vitriol. Wait. Think.

Maryam is a firebrand. Passionate about things she is passionate about, and it’s always very nice to see. She has a blog called ‘The Amba Imprint’, with an interesting meaning for ‘amba’. I like! Maryam takes the stage for the second instalment of the #31Days31Writers project, writing on “Things I am Grateful For.”

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama Baloni, my dear friend. In 2016, she was someone who I felt confident had my back (we all need such people in today’s tough world) and I’m also grateful for the trust she put in me. She is someone I will always be grateful for, my confidant.

I am grateful for the things I can’t count. Like the warm hugs and kisses from my nieces and nephews, the amazing young people I have met who have inspired me to do more for myself and for others.

I must say, I am grateful to be a part of the Not Too Young To Run campaign; it has opened up my mind to another level of political consciousness and involvement even with life in general, it has kindled a fire in me. I am grateful for cake, for seeing my afro get a bit bigger and for hearing God whisper secrets to me along the way.

I have learned more than in any other year that I need to depend mostly on God and myself, every other thing or person can falter at any moment and that it’s okay for humans not to be completely dependable, we are all flawed after all. I’ve always been someone to speak up and make clear what I want and even go for it, I have learned how much more important it is to be a go-getter this year.

I have also learned to be less stubborn and more flexible. One must be pragmatic to survive in this world that is everything but idealistic.

I learnt that the land of opportunity would rather take an honest racist and sexist man than a flawed but experienced female leader. There are many angles that analysts have looked at to explain the situation and its causes but there’s no explanation for me. I guess I have learnt that some things will never have an explanation and sometimes that is fine, one must simply learn the tiny lessons from them.

If I could, I’d change the harsh way people communicate with each other if I could and I would start with Nigeria. I am never able to look at these Jungle Justice pictures that have been going around for too long. It breaks my heart that human beings can be so heartless. If I could, I would bring back to life Col. Abu Ali because he was a symbol of the hope against Boko Haram that many soldiers still held on to. Knowing someone like him is lost is tough even for many of us who never knew him personally.

Another thing I wish I could change that this world has held onto for too long is gender inequality. I wish, and also work, for a world where women are given the freedom to make choices, be free from oppression and violence and be given equal respect, pay and opportunities. Having that happen would be fantastic but the challenges are many and we continue to fight, speak and advocate for it. Realistically, it may not be a battle that will be won in my lifetime.

 

One Local/ Global Event That Has Shocked Me

So many wonderful and terrible things have happened all over the world in 2016 that have incredible shock value. Because so many of these events have been happening, it is really difficult to find anything so shocking now. Shocking events seem to be happening back to back and have for me resulted in desensitisation.

 

Finally, I asked myself what I would do for myself more in 2017 and I realised I am happy and I haven’t thought about any extra thing I can do for myself when the calendar changes. I have found myself asking- What More Can I Do … to make this world a better place? Maybe that is what I will do for myself. I will see what I can do to make this world a better place so that if I am blessed enough to be alive at the end of next year, the sense of accomplishment and joy from putting good out into the world will warm up my pillow as I lay down to sleep into the new year.

Fiery, passionate, but with just the right amount of warmth. Thank you Maryam, here’s to a 2017 full of everything your heart desires!

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

I think I’ve written about vulnerable people and metrics for giving alms etc.; how I’m more disposed to women with babies and people with disabilities over people who look ‘okay’ at first glance. I’m also more likely to give food /edible items to younger children instead of money. Just my thinking and how I feel those things should happen.

What do you do when someone shows up at your office though? Yes, there’s a story here.

Two Fridays ago, about evening time I was trying to finish up an application, write an article and send a couple emails; talk about being super busy! My team had just come back from facilitating a step-down training in conjunction with Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) and were putting away their things possibly to start heading home.

I was on the phone to Tata, when one of them came to say someone was waiting to see me. I recorded off the call and asked that she be ushered in.

Frail didn’t capture the woman wrapped from head to toe who entered my office and asked if she could sit. She did, and I asked how I could help. She said she came from Nasarawa State because hospitals were on strike and she couldn’t get her anti-retroviral medication. So she came to Abuja and after going to a few hospitals, got two months’ worth of medicines, and for free. She paused long enough to remind me that ARV are free from government hospitals once you have ‘your number’. I didn’t bother asking what the number was.

Anyway, bottom line was she had spent the money she had moving about and buying food and didn’t have any money to get home. She said she couldn’t beg on the streets and that God told her to walk and somehow she got to where our office is situated. How much was she looking for? N1500 only (less than 4 dollars).

I gave her the money, got my people to give her a pastry and drink from what was left over from their training and her smile is something I will remember for a while! Big, warm, and stretching from ear to hear. Then she prayed for us and left. Ah, she took my number too, said “so I can tell my daughter Chioma when I’ve reached home”. I haven’t heard from her since then, and I really hope she got home okay.

Now she could have just schemed me out of N1500, or she could really have been directed by God to seek help at our office. Either way it felt really good to be there for her and to not have had a plan or standard for that kind of request. May God wanted to disrupt this process of mine.

I dunno. And I think sometimes it’s okay not to.

So it’s been a little while since I reproduced my notes from church, not because I haven’t been attending, but because… *sheepish grin* I’m sorry. I’m glad you’re here though because today’s sermon you cannot afford to miss!

I attend HolyHill Church, and if you’re regular here you know I’m always talking about how I enjoy worshiping there, the choir ministrations, the Word of God that feeds my spirit, and the focus on charity the church has using HolyHill Relief Foundation. I love it! 

On the other hand, I’ve heard a lot about Pastor Poju Oyemade; a number of my friends swear by his messages, and I keep hearing great stories about him. Interestingly, I’ve never listened to any of his teachings, and even though I’m in Lagos a lot, somehow I’ve never been to his church.

Then it was announced that Pastor Poju would be at church on Thursday and for some reason I was super excited in my spirit. I knew I would attend.

Fast forward to Thursday evening, I was in church (EARLY), and a really intense worship session, after which Pastor Sunday Ogidigbo introduced Pastor Poju. Cue my thumping, really expectant heart.

The rest of this post is my reproduction of the notes I took during the sermon. Ready? May God bless the entrance of His words into our hearts, amen.

Title: The Economy of Faith – God’s Economic System

Exodus 6:3

El-Shaddai – God of the field. When God revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He introduced Himself as the one who causes fields to produce in abundance… as the God of the marketplace. God is the God of the fields, the one that teaches our hands to profit.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (Amplified Version) “And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity.”

Such a powerful scripture! (There and then I downloaded the Amplified Bible onto my iPad; no time!)

Deuteronomy 11:10, 8:17, 28:11

When you refuse to work at all, there is nothing for God’s rain to fall on. You’re not in the game. Joseph was working in jail and God met him there.

The mystery is, how can anything good come out of Nazareth? Mark 4:30

Give God something to work with – He needs a seed in the ground for His rain to fall on. Even if working for free is the way to get in, do it. Get in the game.

The History of Money

Barter system – French Opera singer (there was a story here about the barter system starting to fail and this singer who was paid in sheep, goats, pigs, and thousands of coconuts and then had the problem of transporting her pay home, lolololol) – value system for products and services. Money moves when products and services of value are exchanged.

Entrepreneurship – using your skill to open the doors for business. Offering – giving a gift without expecting anything in return.

Wisdom creates labor-saving devices. We, as Christians should be full of this wisdom which is a product of the rain of heaven.

Warren Buffet said, “Acquire skills that no one else has, or invest in those who have these skills”.

The ideas God wants to give to me will be too much for me so I will start to trade in them – consultancy/strategy.

The value is not in the ground but in the idea applied to the product in the ground. For example, crude oil. It was just this black, gooey substance in the ground till someone figured out that refined it could do all the things that earned it the name, ‘black gold’.

The starting point to operating God’s economy is this…

  • When we start doing anything, whatever we make from it is not the point. Whatever we are given, whenever we are given, take God’s part and give to Him. Then He will pour out A Blessing that we won’t have room to contain.

But we need to start doing something first. The strategy of the church is (and should be) “…wherever the soles of our feet tread upon…” Where are your feet going/treading?

  • No matter what we’re doing, praise God there. Give thanks – the earth is waiting to yield increases for us when we praise.
  • Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. John 15: 5 God is the husbandman though, John 15:1, and the scriptures say the husbandman is the first partaker of the fruit. So why do we deny him the first fruits?

Anything I release of my own freewill without any demands on the recipient (implied or not) God rewards by Himself. Prosperity is not in material things but the next big idea God drops in your heart.

It was Daniel, it was Joseph, it was Jacob; God is quicker to put His people as right hand, influential men/advisers rather than kings.

Final word: Get to the office excited tomorrow and pray down God’s rain on your place of business. Glory to God!!

And that was it, the message ended while I was still on the edge of my seat, waiting to drink just a bit more. Argh!! Ah well, means I’m hooked on his messages now jor. Totally!

Good news; the message is available for download on our church website, and you’re welcome to fellowship with us in person or online.

God bless you!

 

 

How’s everyone doing?

Good weekend? Ready for the week? This is going to be one of my busiest but I thought I’d take a few minutes and say a big hello to everyone, play catch up a bit.

So my niece and nephew were ill, one had malaria and a tummy bug, and the other one had a cold that stretched at least two weeks, and she still had it after she gave it to me. We spent small time in the hospital, and that’s where the story about blood donation came from (I published that recently).

I’ve also done a bit of local travel, looking forward to when I can take a proper holiday… I owe myself two – one for my birthday and the other because life is short and we should take time off to rest and be quiet when we can. Amen?

God dey.

Work is alright… Moved into a new office in June and we’re getting settled in really nicely. Really thankful to God for that, and the immediate possibilities I see for expansion.

Still on work, got two interesting referrals recently, a stark reminder that clients, no matter how little, matter and an excited client post your custom might make a difference as much as 24 months after. I’m really thankful for the referrals, and now just need God’s help to ensure that we beat the standards we’re being held to. Amen?

On Saturday I was privileged to speak at my church’s business/entrepreneur summit, and I drew my topic/talk from some work I’d done for a client recently. I spoke on minding the gaps and facing the direction of travel. Corny I know but it was a good opportunity to fuse my love for trains with my experiences as a student, an employee, and now an employer. It was interesting for me to talk about some of the lessons I’ve learned, and how each step leads to the next, and the next, and the next. It was also very instructive to talk about the place of God in business, and the mistakes I’ve made simply because I ignored the still small voice telling me no. I had a good time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

What else? I’m happy. Sweet baby Jesus this daughter of God is happy. I am joy-like-a-river, peace-like-a-fountain, love-like-an-ocean brand of happy. Such a beautiful feeling. Everything in my life; experiences, joy, sadness, mistakes, successes; everything that I have seen has prepared me for where I am now, and I am thankful to God for His many blessings and precious gifts. There’s a new mercy every single day! And I’m loving it!

Finally, I need to get back in the gym. Don’t know why I’m typing this instead of renewing my membership but yeah, this child needs to be back in that place where more calories are burnt than piled on. Yep. This week is out of the question sha, and I’m not bothered in the least what you think! *sticks tongue out*

Finally finally, lol. My nephew moves to reception next school session! Whoop! He’s officially a big boy now! Interestingly, he’s slowly outgrowing the millions of hugs and kisses I drown him in, and he’s only four! I thought they didn’t start all of that till much later? Arrrrrghhhh! Bring back my baby! *sad face*

Finally finally finally, I got a birthday gift yesterday… I know o, this is still for the birthday that passed in May. Is the Lord laying it on your heart to send me a pressie? Harden not your heart biko!

How have you been? Are you keeping okay? Are you doing well? Want to share? Please do!

Mwah!

PS: A song in the back of my mind for a few days now has been “we are h-a-p-p-y, we are h-a-p-p-y, we know we are we are sure we are, we are h-a-p-p-y!” (If you went to primary school in Nigeria this should ring a bell… or two… or three… or four… I’ll stop here)!

So, this is the year of doing things I haven’t done before. A number of them I won’t talk about till I’ve done them, but some others I can share, including my plans to run a half-marathon. 21.0975 kilometres. Yep.

Stop. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. I know it sounds like a lot (and it is, who am I kidding?) but yeah, I want to do it. According to experts, the best way to get that done, is to run 5km first, and then build up from there.

Brethren, up till Sunday, the 26th day of June 2016, I’d never done that before. I remember trying to run with Tokes one morning in London; I ended up blogging about the scenery and how I threw up, hurt my knee, developed a headache, let’s just say I wasn’t very successful!

To be fair, I love to walk. I’ve walked 19 kilometres before (Look at my Instagram if you’re a doubting doubter) but running is a problem. Not only because I’ve got a bum right knee (no I’m not making excuses) but also because it’s not something I really took to. And I want to change that. Plus I hear the cardio from running is super, and I need to drop a few more kilos, raise my stamina/endurance levels, all the good things.

So this time, I was pumped! Whaaaaat!! Get it girl! I had tweeted about wanting to run the half-marathon and gotten a few people who had offered to train me, including Bosun Tijani of CCHub and Truppr. If you’re in Abuja, Lagos (I think pretty much everywhere in Nigeria to be honest) and thinking of a FitFam family that allows you to pick and choose events (and even create some) that you’d truly be interested in, I suggest you download the app. Yeah?

Anyway, so Bosun had created a 5km event on the app, and the date was Sunday, time 5pm. Boom! I went to church that morning, clocked a meeting afterwards, went to the car wash (my darling nephew had created a biscuit and ribena explosion in the back of the car), and then ran home, ate lunch, sent a couple emails, and headed to Sheraton, where we were to meet.

Some other Truppr folk showed up, and interestingly, I saw an old friend I hadn’t seen in like 6 or 7 years. She was checking into the hotel and apparently had seen me outside so came over to say hello. She ended up going up to her room to change, and then coming back to join us!

This is where it becomes fun. I was so pumped. Like I had tweeted, some people had tweeted support, I was dressed warm cos it was a bit nippy out to be honest, playlist was ready, calorie and heart rate monitor checked, I was ready! I even downloaded another app, Runkeeper which should ‘train’ me to run by keeping track of the runs and times etc.

Then we started. First kilometre was alright, I was playing YCee’s ‘Jagaban’, Phyno’s ‘Fada Fada’ and a few other songs that are boosters so I was alright.

1.5km? My heart nearly stopped. Dang! I didn’t believe there wasn’t something wrong with me. Of course I stopped running, started walking. Of the six of us who ended up running, I think it was only Bosun and Shola who didn’t take walk breaks. Of course I took the longest walk break.

At some points (while I took the walk breaks) I was tweeting… Maybe I should share.

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Lol… I remember the panic I felt. Thinking of it now makes me chuckle, but I actually panicked!

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Please, don’t even judge. Look at this photo and move on, God bless you.

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What!!! Cue Kanye West’s ‘Touch the sky’, R.Kelly’s ‘World’s greatest’ and other songs in that category!

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Yeah….

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Anyway, we got the 5k in, and I’m really excited about that. Plus, I made a few cool friends, and I’m looking forward to my next run. It might be this Wednesday if I can make out time, or I’ll create an event and see who else wants to get this in.

A few more photos…
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So, that’s it! I can’t wait to get to the point where I’m running the entire stretch non-stop! Whoop!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope is a currency more valuable than the dollar, more desirable than the pound, and yet the most easily dispersed, if you’re in prison.

I visited Kuje Medium Security Prison on Friday the 22nd of April 2016, my first time ever in a prison, home and/or abroad. I had heard of prison visits by charities and fellows given to philanthropy in the past, but a chance meeting with Big Mo of Wazobia FM and I was off to ‘The Committee’ to tell them we needed to contribute towards the visit.

The trip to the prison was moved a few times due to high security alerts issued by the authorities, and the calibre of people housed in the prison and at some point I lost hope that the visit would happen. But, on Wednesday I was informed that we had received the all-clear and Friday was the day.

Thanks to monies graciously approved by The Committee, I drove to the assembly point, back seat full of toiletries – toothpaste, petroleum jelly, bathing soap, washing soap, dettol, sanitary towels, and bleach – and I had to change into something totally hiding my figure. Yep, I had been warned that the less *insert a word of your choosing* females look when they visit prisons, the less excitable the men will get.

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Me, in my sister’s maternity kaftan!

And then we set off to Kuje, which is a right turn off the stretch from the city to the airport, and transforms from urban to underdeveloped with each kilometre. Unfortunately, there is a stark difference between state capitals and satellite towns around them; stark differences in what we present to outsiders, and what we really are.

The entire drive, my mind was racing, almost crashing into itself with all the emotions I was feeling and the stories of prison visits I’d heard. Would they pee on me, would anyone be really injured? Would they be hungry, angry or just stoic? I tried to distract myself with music, with very little success.

As we turned onto the dirt road leading to the prison, the butterflies in my belly doubled, trying to keep up with the increasing military presence we encountered. I was reminded of the absolute power of celebrity and the media (read as radio) when we were stopped at one of the checkpoints and told to go somewhere far to park. Then Big Mo introduced himself and it was magical how all the soldiers started hailing him. Fist bumps, laughs, the once tense mood melted into camaraderie because the soldiers matched a face with a voice they listened to maybe everyday.

We got into the prison reception, and the ladies were taken into a room to be searched. I’ve been body searched on three continents and I tell you, none have been as embarrassing and almost invasive as this search. The body search in America comes close, but these guys take the cake abeg.

We were led to a courtyard where there were at least 100 inmates sitting under canopies and laughing as one of us cracked jokes. And there was more laughter, raucous laughter as comedians thrilled the inmates. It got better, there were comedians drawn from the inmates themselves. Hilarity!

Beyond the laughter though, I was bawling like a baby at different points. One of them? One of the comedians was told he could only do one joke. He finished it, and when the mic was going to be taken from him, he said he’d been locked up for 8 years and he didn’t know when next he’d hold a microphone. Cue my wiping my eyes furiously.

When each performer finished, he would give out a tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap, or any of the little household items we had. The joy on their faces as they received the items, the look of longing on the faces of their peers, cue my wiping my eyes furiously.

Sometimes it was easy to forget we were actually amongst inmates. The thunderous laughter, hailing their own performers or ours, and the clapping would have been great joy to a politician at a rally. Each time an official asked them to move back, or sit down though? I remembered, all over again.

I wondered what crimes they might have committed to get there, wondered about their friends and family and if they were missed, if some of them had families waiting for them to get out, or if they had moved on. I was told of people who were locked up (for years) because they couldn’t afford bail of N5000.

A pastor from House on The Rock The Refuge gave a brief exhortation, and he led us in the song ‘Everything written about you is great’ by Steve Crown before that. Watching the prisoners standing, waving their hands in worship? Kai. Pastor TJ preached hope, courage, and Jesus being able to turn their lives around.

We danced too, even me! The performers all danced with the inmates, the prison officials danced with themselves, and then us females (two of us) were asked to come out to dance. Took all of me not to cry all over again as they hailed us to the ‘stage’; couldn’t manage beyond shuffling from side to side.

And it was a teary Chioma who gave soaps and toothpaste to the inmates, including one really old, frail man as afternoon turned to evening and we had to leave.

I was turning everything we’d experienced in my mind as we walked to the reception to be processed out. Only to see prison officials whipping one really rough-looking man so quickly it seemed like every step I took coincided with a swish of the whip. I started begging the official to stop, tears flying down my face. One of the officials told me not to waste tears on the man; apparently he’d been released from this prison after spending four years for raping a female; he had just been arrested, caught in the act of raping a four-year old boy. Yes. A four-year old. A boy.

I left.

PS: A very big thank you to Big Mo, Chuks D General, Willy Willy (all of Wazobia FM and who have organised these prison visits for a number of years), all the comedians and entertainment guys who came along on this visit. You guys are awesome.

ADVANCE WARNING: This is going to be a bit all over the place, like my mind is at the moment. Ready? Cool.

Have you ever been lied to? From the so-called little lies where you say you’re on the way but you’re just about to jump into the shower, to the yes you’ll buy one but you know you can’t afford it and you were just trying to save face, to the fibs told to save yourself from trouble, on to the intentional half-truths or outright falsehood that rips hearts and minds apart.

Before we all jump on our sanctimonious horses with tales of the evildoers around us, have we lied to others too? It’s easy for everyone to talk about how they’ve been hurt or wronged, but do we remember we might have wronged others too? Hope this explains that this post is as much for me as it is for you.

So I’ve just found out a friend has been lying to me for a bit, and I’m gutted, and on a number of levels too. First because I’m not innocent and there’s that bit about coming to equity with clean hands (I think it should be changed to a clean heart though). Second because sometimes I’m as trusting as a child who’s told to go inside the room to get her slippers so she can go out with mommy. Even though I know I’ll get left at home (again), I still trust that this time it won’t happen. But it does, and I’m crushed all over again.

Away from me, there’s the lie by omission which involves leaving out facts so that a different narrative other than the truth or true representation of things is formed. It is also refusing/neglecting/deciding to leave existing misconceptions as they are.

Exaggerations are also lies. So you have nine pencils yet you say you have 300. Do you have pencils? Yes. Do you have 300 though? Sigh. In the same vein, under representation is the family of falsehood too. Very simply, you say you have 9 pencils, but you really have 300. Why lie?

What other forms of lies do you know of? Which ones are you guilty of? Are you a habitual, compulsive, or pathological liar? Is it as natural as the air you breathe? Do you feel bad about it? Trying to stop or slow down on them?

I found this poem by Isaac Watts here, thought it was apt.

O ’tis a lovely thing for youth
To early walk in wisdom’s way;
To fear a lie, to speak the truth,
That we may trust to all they say!

But liars we can never trust,
Even when they say what is true.
And he who does one fault at first
And lies to hide it, makes it two.

Have we not known, nor heard, nor read
How God does hate deceit and wrong?
How Ananias was struck dead,
Caught with a lie upon his tongue?

So did his wife Sapphira die,
When she came in, and grew so bold
As to confirm that wicked lie,
Which just before her husband told.

The Lord delights in them that speak
The words of truth; but every liar
Must have his portion in the lake
That burns with brimstone and with fire.

Before anyone comes at me for making it a religious matter (why anyone would think to separate the spiritual from the physical is a totally different matter for another day), here’s a little reminder about the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple.

Before you tell that next untruth, think about how you would feel if someone said it to you. I’m going to do that too.