Whatever could be wrong with exposure?

In September 2014 I attended a service with my girl Tokes at her church, Trinity Chapel, in Barking. It was a special service, and Prophet Gilbert from Ghana was the guest minister.

His topic was “Exposure: good or bad?” and he opened up stories from the bible in ways I didn’t know were possible. See ehn, it’s one thing to read the Bible, and another thing to be given a clear/different understanding of the words you’ve read.

Anyway, let’s get on to the message right? Prophet Gilbert started by saying, “before Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden they were naked and they knew it. It was the exposure (their eyes being ‘opened’) after eating that brought shame.

In the same way, sometimes we would lead better lives if we hadn’t become ‘exposed’ to certain things/new knowledge. Some things we become aware of destroy us. What have you suddenly become discontented with because you’ve been exposed to something else? How many spouses/partners are no longer happy with what their partners bring home because they’ve heard so-and-so have it better?

Enlightenment should bring development/improvement, not the comparison that leads to destruction. The Bible says that, “comparing themselves with themselves, they became unwise”.

Now, on the flip side, when Adam and Eve became exposed, they covered themselves. Are you covered? What are you covering yourself with? How do you dress?

Prophet Gilbert talked about the image of a person being the sum of their appearance, behavior and communication. Are these three things in your life saying three different things? Are you professing Christianity with your lips but appearing/behaving like a devil?

He also talked about ‘knowing ourselves’ and how people not knowing who they are and what they are made of being the reason they are swayed by every wind of doctrine.

He ended his very thought-provoking message by saying that in five years we’d be products/mash-up of what we’ve read and the people we’ve interacted with. Who are you hanging with? What are you exposing yourself to? Who are we allowing to influence us?

And then we prayed. Sweet baby Jesus we prayed! For direction, for blindness from the exposure that will derail our destinies, for the strength to say no to the wrong influences, we prayed ladies and gentlemen.

I had a great time in the service, and I’m grateful I was there. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and I pray that we receive grace to do as we have read. Amen!

Have a great rest of the week!

The ‘whole truth’ about women in the work place

A few weeks ago I sat with some friends in one of my favorite places in Lagos (Terra Kulture) and we talked about everything, ending somewhere between relationships, entrepreneurs, that kind of thing.

How did it even start? I know there was a statement made about the scarcity of good men and after both males and females argued a little bit about generalizations, we talked about the difficulties young people face in relationships, either in starting or keeping them.

I totally forgot about that conversation till I was going to blog about Social Media Week Lagos and as I was noting talking points, I remembered the session on ‘Women in Tech’ and how disappointed my friends and I were at the gloss that was slathered on the entire discussion.

Matter of fact, my friend Saratu asked a question that echoed all my sentiments. She wanted to know why none of the speakers spoke about the challenges they’d faced in building their businesses, why no one was telling the real stories behind whatever successes they were currently standing on.

Here’s a personal experience. In 2012 I was in a bank, frustrated with my account officer because they’d said I could get pounds from the branch and then I drove all the way to Area 11 and I don’t remember what excuse they’d given but I was pissed off.

While I was discussing with the said account officer, a much older man asks to borrow my pen. I give it to him and when he’s done, he says I’m pretty and he wants my number. Now, if you read my blog you’ll know the day before I travel is normally the crazy day where I have 1000 things to do, I’m literally running/speeding everywhere and even 26 hours wouldn’t do. Plus, I was ticked off at the bank so a much older man asking for my number was the last thing I was in the mood for. I refused with the last bit of respect I had and after he asked why I was sweating and in a foul mood, I mentioned I still had a client’s office to visit, I had a trip to get ready for etc.

Long story short, we exchanged cards, he wanted me to prepare a social media strategy for the ministry in which he was a director of finance or something. I did, adapted one I’d written for another client, and emailed it that night.

My quote was at least 60% cheaper than the other proposals he had received (he’d given them to me when I swung by to collect a brief) and with the elaborate document I handed in, to my mind it was a matter of when.

I called a few times from Blighty and he said they didn’t have ‘network’ in the office for him to read it, and one day he talked about him coming over so I could explain it to him. A director of a ministry flying (all the way) to England so a prospective strategist could explain her proposal? Lol.

Let’s end the story quickly. I refused to play nice, so he stopped taking my calls and one day told me he was going on a one-year course and not/never to call him again. And that was that. I remember ranting on Twitter, and Ruona Meyer encouraging me in my DMs. I won’t forget that.

So, back to the discussion at Terra Kulture, I said something about unconsciously putting up walls whenever I interacted with men partly because of work and how the slightest smile is misconstrued as ‘consent’ and then a ‘no’ becomes a problem because you led them along (by smiling). I talked about how it was easier (and better) for me to be first seen as mean/hard looking and then soften up (maybe) as the work takes off properly instead of being taken for a ride from day one.

I mentioned how those walls then become a problem when you’re with your special someone because they might feel like you’re not completely open with them but it’s just you forgetting that you can take a break from protecting yourself because relationships should be safe spaces. It’s just you transferring your protective shell/demeanor to a space where you can/should be vulnerable. And that causes problems.

That’s just one challenge.

How many women have to work twice as hard while the rest of the world preaches ‘ empowerment/inclusion’ and ‘giving women a place on the table’? How many women become who they are politically only because they are married to or are children of the Old Boy’s Club? How many of us are frustrated day in day out with the weakest links around our projects?

Here’s another reason why I feel like women should be just a bit more ‘open’ with these conversations. We have these events and everything sounds like a piece of chocolate cake, freely handed out to us because we’re ‘whoever we say we are’. And so the young women listening press forward, maybe even decide to switch careers because we have it so good here.

Then they come and are buffeted with all sorts of challenges they didn’t imagine were possible or are prepared for in the slightest. And then they run away. Or they give in to whatever pressures they have find they have to (furthering the ugly stereotype). Very few will dig their heels in, and fight to get that place on the table.

At the next gathering of women we’ll lament that there are very few entrepreneurs. There will be, because they’re not ready!

It’s the same thing for relationships to be honest, but that’s a totally different discussion for another day.

Final word – can we be a bit more honest with these things? Sure. So let’s do/be that.

On your way yet? January’s over in a bit!

Good morning!

Happy New Year! How did you spend the holidays? Did you have a good, restful break? I did. I sure did! I spent time with family in San Antonio, Houston, and of course, London. What a great time of refreshing, of love, of fellowship! I will blog about that trip in due course, don’t worry…

What are you up to this year? What plans/goals? Are you in the New Year resolutions gang? I stopped bothering with those a few years ago, prefer to work towards goals following on from the previous year. Profits me more to be honest. Are you on your way to ticking off those goals? January’s almost over!

What’s new, wherever you are? In Nigeria, we’re living and breathing the coming general elections – exciting, yet very tense times. One piece of advice if I may? Go out and vote. Please, go out and vote if you have your permanent voter card. If you don’t have it, try to collect it. Do it.

It’s 4am, and I’m working and watching my nephew sleep like a clock on my bed – dude is literally turning round in his sleep! He’s formed the habit of coming in for a cuddle at bedtime these days; sometimes he falls asleep here, other times he leaves. Today was one of those ‘sleep with aunty Boo Boo’ kind of days. God is gracious I tell you, who are we that He entrusts the care of these precious ones in our hands? Truly gracious.

What’s new for me this year? Work (duh, lol) – God is opening great and effectual doors and I am more than grateful. Like, jaw-dropping doors, and I can only receive grace to be effective, efficient, and of course to remain grounded.

What else is new? I have a new-found love for all music of South African origin. I’ve become hooked on people like Solly Mahlangu, Keke Phoofolo, Zaza, Benjamin Dube, Ntokozo Mbambo, etc! Vocals are incredible, the intensity of their worship, I’m in love! And I found this site where I can sing along to the lyrics of my favorite songs – what a blessing!

What says I can’t push off to South Africa to watch either (or all) of them in concert this year? My birthday is in May so that’s a gift idea for you. Yes you!

This was intended to be quite short and so let’s stop here. I pray this year is all you dreamed it to be, and I ask for grace and strength so that we all put in the work it takes.

Have a fabulous 2015!

Love,

FGS.

 

One day one travel – how many miles can I go?

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!

One year ago I was on @Forakin’s blog!

Ok, let’s start from the fact that I don’t know the exact day Akin Akintayo (@Forakin) started blogging, and he featured me on his blog on the 1st of this year; I just know his 10th anniversary month was December, so I’m starting this month with that post!

He did such a gracious introduction for me on his blog that day, I blushed till I turned purple. Lol. The original link is here.

By the way, happy eleventh blogging anniversary Akin!

Taken outside @hillsongLondon on the 22nd of December 2013! There's me, @Forakin, @Detola, and @Aninoritse from left to right! Credit: @MrNonsoObi

Taken outside @HillsongLondon on the 22nd of December 2013! There’s me, @Forakin, @Detola, and @Aninoritse from left to right! Credit: @MrNonsoObi

Here’s what I handed in, titled ’10 things I’ve learned in 10 years’.

10 years of blogging? Wow. Means Akin started blogging when I was…never mind. I’m in my 5th year, and totally looking forward to my 10th – wonder how it feels, to have stuck with this for a whole decade.

When Akin asked me to write for his 10th anniversary as a blogger, I was excited for him, honored to have been considered, and then I became stumped because I couldn’t agree within myself on a topic. Somehow I started thinking about stuff I’ve been up to, and voila! What you have below.

Everyday in the last 10 years I have groomed myself, eaten a meal or two (or three or four or none – depending on the diet or religious circumstance). Everyday for all of those years I have had a nap during the day or at night, or not at all, dependent on the severity of the insomnia.

Everyday I have tried to improve myself a little bit, reading a paper or book, watching a talk/sermon/presentation; I have met and exchanged experiences with people, in the quest to sharpen iron with iron. Never mind that while some people rubbed me till I was splitting hairs, others were soaked planks of old wood each day I tried.

In the last 10 years I have loved. Not really 10 years though, 9 is a bit closer to the truth (shame on you if you feel you are a step closer to uncovering my age). I have loved and been loved, burned, and been burned, even scarred in one instance.

In the last 10 years I have owned three dogs: German Shepherd – Sir B, Italian Shepherd – Izzie, and Alsatian – Waffles. Losing all three of them at different times has made me appreciate animals, and convinced me that I won’t get another pet until I’m 100% convinced I won’t have to entrust their care to the hands of another.

In the last ten years I have learned ten things I want to share

  1. Procrastination is the thief of time. And friendships, and ultimately, success.
  2. If you work at something hard enough, you will either succeed or you’ll satisfy yourself that there is nothing there for you.
  3. Half justice is just as bad as injustice. Maybe even worse. Same thing as one half of any story.
  4. You are addressed the way you dress. And paid as you price yourself.
  5. 10 friends will not play together for 10 years.
  6. I love cooking, reading, sleeping. There are 10 other things before watching TV.
  7. Garbage in, garbage out applies to everything, including your body, your work, relationship, etc.
  8. Music is underrated. It is spiritual, magical; sometimes it works as a panacea.
  9. It’s ok to be selfish. Do stuff for yourself every now and then.
  10. You are your biggest fan, except you have my mom, and then she’s your biggest fan!

I’m thankful I know you Akin; you’re a perfect gentleman. And I hope that I’m on your blog again when you hit twenty; simply means you can’t ever stop writing! Congratulations dear, well done!

Hugs,

The Fairy GodSister.

May we not become… Here’s my phrase for the week!

A few times this week I’ve had cause to use this phrase “may we not become the thing/person we criticise” and after I used it this evening while chatting with my darling girl/expert tensioner Francesca, I decided to write about it!

First off, I was pushing off to Lagos on Tuesday for a meeting/meeting some actors on location and I met Nasiru at the airport. Now, Nasty (what we affectionately call him) is a long time friend and former boss at the BBC World Service Trust while I was there.

Nasty is a very good friend of mine (offline and online), and probably doesn’t remember how he encouraged me sometime in 2009 when I had a really rough period because of one silly diary I found. I remember everything you said to me Nasty, and I’m super grateful!

Anyway, so we talked about our old office, and how things have changed, how people we thought of in one way became a totally different thing, and I expressed fears about the corrupting effect power has on people. Nasty was quick to remind me that not everyone is misled by power, and we wrapped that conversation with “may we not be the thing/person/people we criticise”.

The day before I was trying to register for a voter card (didn’t happen eventually), and I remember thinking all sorts of angry thoughts because of the really stressful day I ended up having. These thoughts included everyone who had something to do with the really shoddy preparations for the registration, including the policeman who threatened me (chronicle coming up soon). And while I talked to someone about it later that evening, he tried to make excuses for a few of the people I had it really bad for. Of course I didn’t want to think of it, but I did (later), and I hoped people would give me the benefit of the doubt when I needed it.

And then there was the conversation with Fran earlier this evening, we talked about a somewhat mutual friend and the drama she gets at home. While I agree that she definitely could have it better, I also know that it’s very few parents who would intentionally set out to hurt their kids. And so I said to Fran that I pray we don’t become the parents our kids talk to their friends about, the ones who give them loads of drama.

There’s at least two more instances this week that I’ve used this phrase, and I honestly don’t remember if I came up with it or if I read it somewhere, or if someone said it to me. I just know that it’s worth taking a minute to reflect before we chew the next person out. Not saying to cover evil or condone ‘anyhowness’, but people make mistakes, and we can too.

Have a smashing new week!

 

PS: It’s Francesca’s birthday next week, and I’m super excited! Francesca is a beautiful daughter of Zion, and has become one of the strongest arms I lean on, always there when I need her. I would go on and on now but there’d be nothing to put in the card, and she’s the kind of person who would refer me to this post just to tell me I’ve said the same thing twice! Love you long time B!

PSS: She wrote for the first #31Days31Writers series, and she’s so intense! Loved her piece!

PSSS: God please do not let anything happen to Joan Rivers (who is reportedly on life support). She might have a really caustic mouth but I really like her!

#31Days31Writers – The Entrepreneurs Edition

A few things told me I was ready to do an entrepreneurs edition of #31Days31Writers:

  1. I’d run the entrepreneur interview series on my blog several times, and not only did the articles get great feedback, they opened new doors of opportunities for the business owners. I have however been remiss in sourcing entrepreneurs for that category on the blog and so I thought, why not get the entrepreneurs sell themselves?
  2. #31Days31Writers (again on the blog) was a massive success the two times I’ve run it! Again, great feedback, the amazing stories and perspectives from the writers, and it was such a joy having fresh content every single day of the month!

And so I thought, why don’t I dedicate one edition solely to entrepreneurs? Why not celebrate the brilliant young men and women braving the odds working through unfavorable circumstances to keep their dreams visions alive? Why not offer them this platform to showcase their services, strengths, and unique edge?

Why not?

And that’s it folks, this is your space!

Criteria

Be an entrepreneur (defined by Google as “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”). Is this you? That’s all the criteria you need!

 

Send 500 words, covering the following

  • What do you do?
  • Why you stated your business/what gets you excited about it?
  • What year did you start this business, and where?
  • Immediate challenges you faced then and what you did to deal with them?
  • Where do you see your business at the end of the year, and in five years?

That’s it! Please send in a photo with your submission – could be of your products/address/whatever you feel compliments your work; feel free to create one for this if you want. Send it to dfairygodsister(at)gmail(dot)com with your name and #31Days31Writers as the subject of the mail, and you’re in!

I’ve got 25 slots open, and the first people to send in their entries, get it!

Start sending in your entries in already!

 

#31Days31Writers: “So I need a turnaround, but a turnaround from what?” Boom!

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!

#31Days31Writers: Abimbola says “Nigeria is our collective responsibility”

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!

#31Days31Writers: “Beauty fades but character is enduring” – Rev Dr Craig!

Olamide is one of those friends that I cannot do without. Does he drive me up the wall? Absolutely. Is he one of the closest friends I have on earth today who I can go to with anything and not feel judged or looked down on? Absolutely. Is he one to uphold his friends in prayer, with words of encouragement, with love, and with physical manifestations of that love? Yes Sir!

I love Olamide (lots and lots), and can I say congratulations on your engagement? She’s a gorgeous lady (in and out), and I wish you both all the joy possible.

I give you @RevDrCraig!

A few days ago I got a surprise call from a friend from school I hadn’t seen in many, many years. That call birthed this piece you now read.

This week I met up with that old acquaintance, a lady whose exceptional beauty back in high school made all the boys go gaga.  She was vacationing in the capital and wanted to know if I could show her around. After picking her up at Euston station, we went to Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Madame Tussauds, Westfield Mall, and goofed around like tourists taking pictures of everything and anything that caught our fancy. As we caught up on the 15 years that had gone by, I couldn’t help but wonder where the ‘wow’ factor went. She was still quite good to look at, but the exquisite beauty she once had seemed to have faded away, or at least paled into a less blinding glare. For the first time since I’d known her, I actually saw who she was, talked to her, wasn’t carried away by her looks, and realized that there was more to her than was so obviously apparent. I wondered how many people, like me, had missed out on seeing a wonderful person simply because all we saw was ‘a fine face and a hot body’.

I really enjoyed spending the day with her and as I walked away from the platform at Euston, I pondered at the absurdity of our generation that ubiquitously employs beauty as the foremost yardstick in the selection of a potential mate. This absurdity was first made apparent to me when, after I announced my engagement a few months ago, an associate of mine clapped me jocularly on the back exclaiming, “You’ve done it bro! Congratulations! You have finally found a woman finer than you who has agreed to marry you”. You see, I met my fiancé last year, just when I was coming out of an extended period of deep self-reflection following a string of very bad decisions. For months, I had been acting out of character and ironically chasing after beauty, weaving in and out of fragile relationships with some of the most beautiful women I had ever met; tall, short, curvy, straight, dark and fair. It took falling in love with this one to make it clear to me that the true worth of a woman is vested, not in the beauty of her face, or the curves on her body, but in the depth of her soul.

When pictures of my fiancé and I emerged, the most frequent comments were those praising her beauty and what a beautiful couple we made. One friend asked jokingly, “Did you conduct a beauty pageant and then propose to the winner?” LOL! Sure, most of these comments were made in good faith and were not in the least bit intended to offend nor did it mean that those who made them were shallow or anything of that sort. They were merely commenting on what they saw weren’t they, admiring a beautiful couple that were sure to have a beautiful marriage? Maybe it was all harmless banter, simple admiration, and unveiled praise.

Unfortunately, the reverse might also be the case. I know this because I too was once stuck in that place where deep in my heart I held to a primitive notion that the more beautiful a couple are, the more likely it was that their marriage would succeed. Perhaps the Disney fairy tales of beautiful princesses and handsome princes that ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after had fatally tainted my view of reality?  I know for certain, that a handful of those reading this now also share this view I once held, for it seems to me that the Ovation wedding culture of the past, once the preserve of the super rich has trickled down and has become the BellaNaija wedding culture of today. It is no secret, however, that some of the most celebrated high-profile weddings of the most gorgeous couples do not even last a year!

So to answer Chioma’s question; “What have I learned?”

I have learnt again something that I should never have forgotten. It took talking to a woman whose beauty once mesmerised me to remind me of a truth I used to know; Indeed, Beauty fades but character is enduring.

To all the beautiful girls out there who have character but are only sought after for their looks, I apologize on behalf of all men. But remember, if that’s all you put on the table, then perhaps that’s all we are inclined to see.

My name is Olamide Craig. I am Nigerian.

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