“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree
Just some quick thoughts about the New Year, what we want to do/be/achieve and how quite a number of us erroneously believe that wanting a thing (even bad enough) is all it takes for us to do/be/achieve that thing.
I found this quote yesterday in the course of fulfilling a committment to an organization and it literally jumped out at me. How do you want to see different if you don’t do different? My dad says it’s insanity to plant corn and pray to reap strawberries. Lol. But really. Think about it.
*Let’s not be like the Nigerian government who want to increase the quantity of rice in the country and decide the best place to plant the rice is on rocks. Without irrigation or watering of any kind, fertilizers, nothing. Yet the plan is to increase the quantity of rice for everyone. Sigh.
So do you need to change a habit, eat better (read as less, lol), sleep for longer (or less), get a hobby (or hubby – gosh I’m so silly); do you need to get closer to God, hit some milestones at work, be a better friend/partner/parent, make money so good you’re not swayed by any of the exchange rates in Nigeria at the moment? Nice!
So, what’s the plan? What are the concrete steps to getting there? In a conversation very early this year I figured I have close to no knowledge of project management and it is something that can smoothen the processes for a number of things I am involved with. So, off I went to register for a course, classes start in a bit.
There are a couple other things I need to work on, sort out, and be better at, and we’re on the road to that. Amen to God’s help and strength, and grace to stay the course.
So, away from me, what are you doing? Better yet, what are you doing different?
Happy New Year.
Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’
Tags: Being better, Doing different, Growth, New Year, Nigeria, Nigerian Blogger, Nigerian Blogger in Nigeria, Resolutions, Technology, Things to do
Tags: confessional, confessional booth, deindividuation, Democratization of public shaming, Fairy GodSister, Gustave Le Bon, Jon Ronson, Justine Sacco, Kabila, Max Mosley, Mob Action, Narrative, Nigeria, Nigerian Blogger, Nkurunziza, Online reputation management, ORM, PR, public shaming, slut shaming, So you've been publicly shamed, Toke Makinwa, Toni Payne, Vitriol
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.
Tags: 31days31writers, Blogger in Nigeria, Community organising, Fairy GodSister, Maryam Laushi, Nigeria, Not Too Young To Run, politics in Nigeria, Young Nigerians, Young people
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!
Tags: American History, Donald Trump, Fairy GodSister, Feminism, Google, Hilary Clinton, Hypodermic Needle Theory, ImWithHer, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Jamie Foxx, Make America Great Again, Michael Jackson, Nigeria, Nigerians, politics in Nigeria, Republican Candidate, Stronger Together, Technology, United States, USElection, voter education
Tags: Abduction, Bayelsa State, child molestation, Child Rights Act, Ese Oruru, Kano State, National Assembly, Nigeria, Rabiu Kwankwaso, UNICEF, VVF, Yunusa Dahiru
In March, social media woke up to a really startling story: a young girl, a 13-year-old child that had been kidnapped from Bayelsa, taken to Kano state, rechristened Aisha in an apparent conversion to Islam, and married off to a young man. The girl? Ese Oruru. The man? Yunusa Dahiru, aka Yellow.
The contradictory reports in the media were as frustrating as they were ridiculous. First, it was said that she was eighteen, despite her family’s cries to the press to the contrary. Then the poor child was demonized, something about her dating the man, writing him love letters, and being in love with him, like the word of a child on those matters should be acknowledged. Then it was back to the arguments about her age again, and how she was 14 years old and not 13. On and on and on, splashing her face in the papers, in the hearts and minds of Nigerians that choose, very conveniently what to forget, and what to remember and stigmatize others by.
Interestingly, while this was going on, a number of other parents cried out about their teenage daughters getting abducted, married off and raped. Yes, rape because that is what this is. Non-consensual intercourse is rape, compounded in these cases by abduction, and of minors.
Back to Ese Oruru, we were confused with the back and forth that freeing the girl and returning her to her parents threw up. A lot of conversation between her not getting released till HRH, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi gave instructions to that effect because she was in his custody, the Royal’s swift denial, convoluted messaging from the police, on and on.
Amidst hashtags, commentary in the press and extreme pressure on the consciences and sensibilities of people involved in the matter, Ese Oruru was finally returned to her parents in Bayelsa in March 2016; seven months after her abduction, and recently gave birth to a baby girl. A baby birthing a baby, rife with the risk of VVF, and the total disruption of her life as we know it.
Yunusa Dahiru was charged to court too, a five-court charge of criminal abduction, inducing by the use of deception and coercion, illicit sex, sexual exploitation and unlawful carnal knowledge of a minor.
We woke up to reports on the 11th of July that Yunusa, with expensive legal representation, has been released on bail and whisked back to Kano. The news story was garnished with a photo of this abductor and rapist at the airport. The end, literally.
Some responses came back on how long it took for the alleged abduction and rapist to get bail, the constitution and laws being the problem, rape being a bailable offence, the quality of our laws and the attendant handicap of the judiciary etc.
There were also less sane responses about Ese’s case not being a peculiarity because underage girls get abducted and raped daily, it took three months to secure bail, and then of course the ultimate expressions of ignorance couched as insults or the representation of the matter based on ethnic sentiments.
Both sets of responses ignore the fact that we’re talking about a child. Both sets of responses ignore the fact this case already stinks to high heaven. They ignore the fact that by not speedily prosecuting this case, securing a watertight conviction, and dispensing punishment that is a deterrent to potential offenders, we have lost yet another opportunity to protect our children. We keep failing them.
I have written about child molestation, rape and other crimes against minors before, taking time to narrate not just the horrors the children have faced, but the helplessness the parent feel, and the stark failures of our systems to mete justice.
We have a Child Right Acts that took 12 years (1991 – 2003 after Nigeria signed the convention on the Rights of the child with UNICEF support) to go through the National Assembly, and more than 10 years after that, only 24 states have passed and given gubernatorial assent to the law in their states. That means that our children, the most vulnerable in our society, left unprotected and we do not feel any sense of urgency. Implementation aside, it means that the appropriate legal framework for the protection of the rights of our little ones is still a pipe dream. There is no urgency from the Judiciary or the Legislature whose job is it to empower the courts.
Unfortunately, this sad story probably ends here, and this statement is based entirely on precedent. No rehabilitation for Ese, no clear deterrents for the society because we don’t protect our children. No justice because we have a National Assembly that is filled with self-serving paedophiles who do not agree that people under 18 are children and so will scuttle privately and in public any plans to protect them. A National Assembly with officials who will uphold anything other than the laws they were elected to (and swore to) protect.
While Gambia and Tanzania ban child marriages, Ghana considers raising the age for marriage for girls from 18 to 23; we have popular commentary in Nigeria that posits that child marriage is the preferable, dignified and honourable alternative to child prostitution. The Giant of Africa lagging behind where it matters the most.
We can do better. We must do better. This 8th National Assembly has the opportunity to write its name in the annals of history, and we hope they take it.
Tags: Abuja, Africa, Africa Cup of Nations, Amodu Shuaibu, Cassius Marcellus Clay, death, Johannesburg, John Ramsey, Life expectancy in Nigeria, Lonnie Ali, Louisville Kentucky, Mary Keshi, Military Dictator, Muhammad Ali, Muhammadu Buhari, NFF Technical Director, Nigeria, Nigeria Football Federation, Nigeria national football team, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Port Harcourt, Sani Abacha, Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth, South Africa, Stephen Keshi
So this past week has been filled with people dying or the remembrance or interment of dead people. Not anyone I knew personally, but you all know how I get about death. It’s the sharpest wake up call for everyone, myself inclusive.
First off, Stephen Keshi passed on the 8th of June, he wasn’t up to 60. Keshi holds quite a few awards and records (which I’m sure you all already know so I won’t go into them). He is however the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, and the second person in history to win the competition as a player and as a coach after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt when he led the Super Eagles to win the tournament in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Whoop!
His wife of 35 years passed on sometime last year (she had cancer), and news reports say he never really recovered from her death. News reports also say he had a heart attack. A few things.
- His four children are now orphans (incredible how one event has now changed the course of events for their children)
- Even people who gave him great grief as coach for Nigeria’s football team were singing his praises after he passed.
The 8th of June is the anniversary of former military dictator Sani Abacha. He died in 1998. I think everything I think about that is summarised in this tweet I pushed out same day.
Then, last night I watched the memorial service for Muhammad Ali, an inter-faith service in his hometown Louisville Kentucky and attended by the leaders of just about every religion. I read somewhere (and I think Lonnie Ali, his wife mentioned it too) that he had planned his funeral this way, just like he planned his mom’s.
Quick recap from the BBC’s website about Ali.
I don’t think I’ve watched a ‘richer’ memorial service, overflowing with stories about this one man who was and will always be the greatest. Everyone talked about how he had helped, inspired, rewritten the rules, stood for what he believed in, on and on, and on; his vanity and great sense of humor not excluded. It was really beautiful and makes me want to do so much more with my life. So much more.
Then, this morning, just seen on Twitter that the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amodu Shuaibu, has passed on, aged 58. Apparently he complained of pain in his chest last night, and didn’t wake up this morning.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead, and I pray God in His mercies provides the comfort and strength that only He can.
We need to have an urgent national conversation about life expectancy in Nigeria, and healthcare services beyond the workshops, conferences, and stakeholder meetings that do not achieve anything tangible beyond per diem and pretty stationery.
A bigger conversation we need to have within ourselves is the one about what we’re doing with our time here, and what we want to be remembered for. And also about life being short and therefore striving to make every single day count.
I heard this quote last night; John Ramsey, family friend and former radio host said Muhammad Ali used to say, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” He said Muhammad not only paid his in full, he’d paid it forward.
What’s up with your rent?
Tags: Big Mo, Chronicles of the Fairy GodSister, Chuks D General, dettol, Everything written about you is great, Fairy GodSister, House On The Rock The Refuge, Inmates, Kuje Prison, Nigeria, Nigerian Blogger, Philanthropy, Prison visit, Prisoners in Nigeria, Road trip, Steve Crown, Wazobia FM
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.
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.
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.