Posts Tagged ‘Online Communities’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS – Written on the 23rd of April.

Now this was one interview that I enjoyed, but took the longest time to sort out! And it’s my fault… The process of getting an entrepreneur, scheduling and having the interview, and then writing up can be a lot but nope, not making excuses. Just trying to get you to temper justice with understanding!

Right! We’re bringing this interview right after the one with the King of Interns with a personal friend and all-round gorgeous lady, Adetola Taylor. Now Detola is a mom, a Dentist ( the prettier ones are usually put in Dentistry she says *wink*) who graduated from the University of Lagos and has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Warwick.

She’s also the brain behind MsNella products. The range currently features hair and body butters made from a Shea butter base.

Let’s get into it already!

FGS: Let’s start with the number 3 – if you were told everything you had would be taken from you and you could only keep three things, what would they be?
DETOLA: Hmm, do these three things include people or just inanimate objects?
FGS: Any three… you decide if you want to mix them or not!
DETOLA: My wedding rings, my family, my memory
DETOLA: Phew! Never had to answer that question before. Definitely a difficult one.
FGS: Love your answer! Let’s talk a bit about your work – how does a doctor dabble into hair and body butters?
DETOLA: Haha! I’ve always been fashionable I guess. I repressed it cause I thought I needed to be taken seriously. And spending all that time in medical school never really leaves room for much else.
DETOLA: I stumbled on the hair butter by accident. I had just had a baby and while I have been blessed with good hair all my life, I realised I was losing hair because the pregnancy hormones were slowly leaving my body. My hair was coming out in tufts. So I decided to give my hair a breather from relaxers (I usually used to apply relaxers twice a year prior to baby)
DETOLA: While on the break from relaxers, I started researching into products that would help me restore my hair and nurse it back if you will, to former status and that’s how the hair butter came to be.

Detola 1

FGS: You must have hit gold with your research because you now produce the hair butter and distribute across continents! How easy was it going commercial?
DETOLA: Not very easy, because now that I am no longer selling to friends and family I have to put systems in place.
DETOLA: I now have to register the business, get a NAFDAC number and think about an advertising budget and distribution.

FGS: Do you have that locked down now? Can I apply to join your sales team?
DETOLA: Ha ha! I wouldn’t say I do. You see money answereth all things. I am working on raising capital to execute it all though.

FGS: How does your family feel about their doctor mom/wife/daughter’s side hustle?
DETOLA: Very supportive (well except my dad who doesn’t know that I have a beauty side hustle). In actual fact, they believe producing these products are way better suited to me than being a doctor. Oops!
FGS: Two things that make you keep on whenever you feel like giving up?
DETOLA: 1. Testimonials from customers. It humbles me to have a product that someone actually wants. 2. My husband. His total belief in this business leaves me no room to throw a pity party.
FGS: How do you juggle the home, school, and your business?
DETOLA: Hmmm!
DETOLA: Honestly? I don’t know
DETOLA: Sometimes I think I’m mad
DETOLA: Ha ha. My friends have called me mad
DETOLA: But I grew up tough and I think that has helped shape my perspective of life. Someone out there is doing this and has not died so why can’t I?

Detola 2
FGS: Lol… What would you tell a young potential entrepreneur to watch out for?
DETOLA: Hmmm… Amass a war chest.
DETOLA: I’m no entrepreneur honestly. I just found a business doing stuff I like. Hard-core entrepreneurs go all out. I just believe I have been lucky and even I don’t believe in luck :)
FGS: But surely you have done a few things right to be where you are today…
DETOLA: I must have ☺. Knowledge is not overrated. If you’re going to do something, know it in and out. If there is a part of your business you believe you will need help with, get the best help you can find. I am totally poor when it comes to doing the books but I get help with these things.

FGS: And I have to ask, how do you source your ingredients? Locally (Nigerian) or from international locations?
DETOLA: Since I’m currently in the UK, I source from here. Back when I was in Nigeria, I used Nigerian sources. Either way, I find the cheaper source and keep my products affordable.

Because I was rounding up my masters, I put the business on hold. Attending a cosmetics course in the summer and relaunching with new packages. Keep an eye out!
FGS: Ok. Finally, one thing you’ve done that you’d do again, again, and again…
DETOLA: Not see the whole staircase but take the first step.
FGS : That’s it!
FGS : You’re amazing Detola. Thank you!
DETOLA: No, thank you! Thank you!!

And that's my gorgeous friend and brain behind Ms Nella, Detola!  PS: Her efo riro is not even of this world! Dang!

And that’s my gorgeous friend and brain behind Ms Nella, Detola!
PS: Her efo riro is not even of this world! Dang!

All MsNella products can be purchased from the online store msnella.me or physically from SocialLagos-94 Awolowo road Ikoyi. You can also find MsNella products on Konga.

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

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

Kayode:  okay, let’s do it!

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

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

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

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

FGS:  Whoop! Congratulations!

Kayode:  Thanks

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

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

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

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

Kayode:  I am but it can be better.

FGS:  How?

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

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

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

 Kayode Ajayi-Smith

FGS:  How old is this business?

Kayode:  4years

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

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

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

Kayode:  God and the sustenance of my family.

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

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

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

FGS:  Hmmm. Explain please?

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

FGS:  Tell me about that!

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

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

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

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

FGS:  Ahh! So you’ve learned something!

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

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

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

FGS:  That’s very nice

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

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

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

Kayode

 

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

 

Welcome to the end of March! Have you had a good month? I know I have!

Much earlier in the month, I was invited to Warri to facilitate at training for some officials from various organizations working in the Niger Delta. And I was excited, for a number of reasons. Since I ran a couple sessions late last year I discovered that training is something I really enjoy plus I hadn’t been in Warri since 199something and so I was really excited about the trip.

Flight was uneventful except I must mention that Arik Air thrive in the midst of confusion. It’s incredible! So my flight was for 8am, and I was at the airport before 7am. There was a rapidly lengthening queue, Arik Air officials doing what the Lord alone can explain because there wasn’t any progress.

And then of course people started jostling about and getting rowdy because their flights were getting announced. Guess what? They delayed the flight. Lol…

Anyway, we finally boarded the miniature plane, and off we went. Landed in Benin, and then did the 45+ minutes drive to Warri. I was taken to my lodgings, a place called Denaj Hotels. I was a little concerned when I saw these two signs but I said I’d be a good girl and not make a fuss about anything.

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This was at the bar.

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This was at the gate.

Have you noticed that when we say we’re not going to do something bad it seems like all the devils in hell relocate to our ends just to make us renege on that promise?

Children of God, the sheets had funny stains on them – not even going to hazard a guess around that. Then the toilet seat looked like there’s been a pissing contest for blindfolded guys.

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I was confused. There was no menu in the room either, and I was starving.

I called for someone to clean the bathroom (not change the room – remember, no fuss), and then I ordered jollof rice, plantain and chicken. Food came on a tray without cutlery, and the cleaner still hadn’t come.

So I went downstairs, and had to get cutlery myself, and pried a lady attendant from her phone and argument with the receptionist about her not being the person to clean my room. I ate (don’t ask any questions – I was starving), and then had a meeting where I complained to the heavens about the entire situation (by this time chill had departed), and then I spread my mom’s wrapper on the sheets, and slept. The evening, the morning, and it was time to prep for the first day of training.

First off, I woke up with some sort of itch on my arms and feet. There was no hot water. I’d finished my water and I didn’t even feel okay buying water. So, no shower, and I settled for gargling with my mouth wash.

Was I grumpy or what!! Hian! I mean it was lovely to meet the class, 21 bright-eyed people who I was supposed to be useful to, but I couldn’t shake the itch and it was all so disorienting, two mugs of my favorite brew didn’t help.

We were moved to Protea that evening, and guess what I did first? Phew… Thank you Jesus! I had a proper dinner as well, three-course type of business. Talmabout getting my groove back!

So what did I teach the class? We did an introduction to social media, tools and platforms, what their organizations might need (or not), and the personal vs corporate communication. We also learned about keeping ourselves safe online, hyperlinks, infographics, blogging, and developing articles for their organizations. Of course there were lots of things we tried our hands at (internet permitting), and I ended up creating a WordPress blog for one organization, a Facebook page for another, and personal Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for members of the class.

I also met Samson Idoko, a very brilliant young man and co-facilitator who taught Microsoft Office in a way I’ve never seen/heard it taught before. Tips, shortcuts, tricks across Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, and it was a free class for me!! I learned so much!

There was also Frank, a staff of the organization who ensured we were always overfed! God bless him, one afternoon I said I wanted fish and a salad for lunch, and here’s the fish I got! I shared mine with Samson and we gave his out – walai I would have dozed if I ate that alone!

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There was James who drove us around, and had this hilarious bad eye he would give other people who were driving dangerously. Thank you for making me smile everyday!

And the icing on the cake? The feedback from the class! I grabbed a bit of it, and then there was the email from one of the attendees, which was the sweetest thing I’ve read in a while. Sweetest.

I learned lessons about myself, about people, and about social media on this trip. Start from confirming that Lagos, Abuja are on one level with social media, and the rest of the country on a totally different level. Totally different ladies and gentlemen. It might not mean much till you juxtapose that with political communication, numbers and expectations for these elections.

And now for a shameless plug: want a social media trainer for your organization? Get in touch, already!

Warri was great, I love the class, and it was my privilege to share my skill/knowledge; massive thanks to the organizers and technical adviser for the opportunity, and for ensuring that we were comfortable. Let’s do it again!

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!

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.

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.

 

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!

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.

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!