Posts Tagged ‘United States’

First off, two fingers in the air for period pain if you’re a lady reading this; it’s 4.40am and I’ve been up now for close to an hour because my belly is talking to me in ways I’m sure can be nicer and definitely less painful! In fact, can I get two fingers in the air from the guys as well, for obvious reasons? Done? Thank you very much.

Now that I’m awake, I started reflecting on a lot of things and first off is my round ups should be a lot more frequent! So I’ll work on that. A quick second is that I am blessed. Like, God has really crowned my year with good things, things money can buy, and the things money cannot buy. Especially the things money cannot buy! So grateful.

My niece turned six months old yesterday, and she’s an absolute beauty. Gosh! Just watching her grow, all the developments we’ve seen and continue to see, and her smiles. Sweet baby Jesus my niece’s smile can melt ice! Thank you God for such a gorgeous, healthy, happy baby!

In other baby news, our flu has cleared! So for three weeks or more Talia and I were coughing, runny noses, etc. Like cough syrup after cough syrup, one antibiotics course after the other, the flu refused to clear. At some point it occurred to me we were probably just re-infecting ourselves, lol. Glad to announce that we’re both fine now (the devil is put to shame once again, whoop)!

At the end of July I was invited to #TechPlus2016 to speak; had been pencilled down for two panels – one on cyberbullying, internet security in the age of social media, and the other one on increasing digital literacy for women. Both panels featured very interesting panelists, and I enjoyed speaking about TechHer, things we do, lessons we’ve learned and how they intersect with the topics.

So my friend Nana was a panelist as well, and so we were in Lagos together. I’ll attempt to chronicle the trip.

First off, that morning our flight was scheduled for 9.30am, and I had a prior engagement for 7.15am on NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) to talk about social media, entrepreneurship, etc. As you can imagine I had to be up really early to pack, head to the station to say my piece, and then sped off to the airport… Found a really nice, safe, but quick cabbie to drive me, and of course we’d detailed one of our friends working at the airport to check us in.

He calls and says that our tickets were for the 22nd of August, not the 22nd of July. W-H-A-T? And so the calls began to the organizers, they called the travel agents who booked the flight, we spoke to the airline, plenty talk. From no seats on any flight that day, to none for our class of ticket, to rescheduling us to a 10am flight that got delayed till 1pm.

We went into a restaurant to wait and encountered a very rude, uncouth man. Fathers and mothers, train your sons. Some things are unacceptable, including raising your voice or trading insults. Am I perfect? No, but in the last few days I’ve met some very uncultured young men. It is shameful.

Anyway, we finally took off about 1pm, and got into Lagos safely (praise God for that). Soon as we touched down, we were in the able hands and care of the #TechPlus2016 team, and I must take a full moment to appreciate the warmth and stellar logistics ground team they had in place to cater to us.

Got to the hotel, checked in, and barely had enough time to freshen up and head to my first panel. Interesting, intimate, just the way I liked it. Was nice to bump into my brother Chude on the way in…always a joy to see that man.

Panel done, we explored the exhibition area and I was so impressed! As a child of God planning an exhibition for TechHer myself, there was so much to be impressed by! We will get there, and very soon! I copped a ring, some bangles, and some gorgeous fabric, and I can’t wait to see what my designer #NitazCouture does with it! Been a long time since a designer/seamstress/tailor excited me, and it’s so refreshing that Francesca, head honcho at #Nitaz not only knows her craft, she knows my body and what works. So great!

Next day was easy. My session was about 4pm but we went to Nana’s session at 2pm and wandered off into the exhibition area again. We attended a few other sessions, including one with Teju Ajani, Frank Donga, and a few other people. Interesting how content is so dynamic but totally reliant on the principle of relatability. Can people relate with what you’re going to put out as a producer or curator? If it’s a yes, you’re on the road to doing well!

Sunday morning I worshipped with Pastor Ituah Ighodalo’s church, Trinity House. Amazing! It was the sixth anniversary of the church, and I remember the prayer his wife led, both in thanksgiving and committing the rest of the year into God’s hands. God is amazing I tell you. I had a great time, and I must visit again. By the way, their choir is amazing! Something the choir sang resonated with me so much, “my status is changing, no more decline, I’m on my way to better days”. In Jesus name!

Then, it was a dash back to the hotel to grab our bags and head to the airport. Airline? Arik. And that means that is a totally different article by itself. I’ll write it!

Hello everyone!

So I’m  having a look at my drafts, and apparently I started trying to write this post in 2014! Sigh! I can be so bad sometimes… Lol! And this was March 2014 o, not even the end of the year! Sigh.

At the time, I noticed a strand of grey hair and if I remember correctly, I was both amused and panicked! I remember thinking, it’s all over, I’m old! Lol! Forgetting that at some point in this my short existence I was so in love with patches of grey, and one of my friends actually dyed her hair white! Loved it but didn’t think it would suit me so I never tried it.

Anyway, with the realisation of aging (lol) come a few other things that I must either take note of or suffer the consequences, and I thought I’d share some of them with you today, and maybe you can share how your bodies have changed as you grow older if you’ve been looking out like me🙂

Do we do that? Cool!

Acid Reflux has become a thing! Normally I could eat whenever, wherever, whatever and not think about it. I had my first episode of acid reflux in 2014, and while I’m very sure it’s not because I started inching towards 30, I’m sure something about my metabolism and general digestion has changed. By 2015 I had to start carrying a bit of medication around for it, but the biggest help for me has been watching what/when I eat, and avoiding positions (like lying down to eat, lol) that trigger it. So I’m doing ok.

Milk. I know, we’re still on food. So, I grew up on milk, like my parents didn’t spare that at all. I remember being sick as a child and mom mixing malt and milk for me to drink morning, afternoon, and night. Yum! The gorgeous thickness of that drink is a memory that will never go away, and unfortunately remain only a memory. These days, my belly says no to milk. Like, not a maybe or just a little bit, it says no. I disobey that at my own peril. Sigh. I don’t want to grow up!

Sleep. I actually had insomnia between 2012 and 2014, and I remember years before surviving a full week with less than 16 hours sleep (in total) and not feeling anything. Lol, I remember the period in Greenhithe when I couldn’t sleep for like 3 days straight, and my boyfriend at the time got a little weary with my phoning him in the middle of the night to gist because I was awake. Lol! These days though? First two days not sleeping ok might be alright, but anything after that and Chioma the Grump comes out to play. And we don’t like Chioma the Grump…

Confidence. There’s a quiet confidence that comes with facing things you’ve faced before, and most of the things that we go through now we’ve either gone through before, heard/read of someone who’s been in similar circumstances, etc. My point? We’re at the point where ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ starts to hold proper meaning, and that brings a certain ‘been there done that’ kind of confidence. At least it does that for me.

Decisions. You’re responsible for the decisions you make. Good, bad, with rewards or consequences. You, alone. Gone are the days when you can blame the sun, moon, stars, friends, and even chickens for the wrong steps you take, the foolish moves you make, etc. Not happening any more Boo, everyone (including yourself) is a little less forgiving of the ‘passing the buck’ game.

Friends. I’ve gotten a firm handle of my buddies, best mate(s), friends, acquaintances, and the monitoring spirits. Lol! I said I wasn’t going to but hey, what’s a blog post without some good candour? We all have those friends who are close enough to monitor our progress without contributing more than snarky comments that might sound funny but are actually nasty when  you think of them later. Take a minute, think about it. You have those ones too? We all do! On the other hand I’ve figured out the buddies who can ride through a storm together, the ones who will help you hide a body (figuratively o), who will uphold you with prayer, amen to great friendships and working to keep them in the face of whatever disagreement or provocation!

God is everything. When I was younger and heard things like He’s everything, it didn’t hold as much meaning as it does now, how much I’ve learned about God that shows me I know nothing! Walking with God, stumbling, letting Him hold my hands and lead me has been one of my most defining changes; knowing that Someone so big and great and mighty and awesome loves this little person (me) so fiercely is everything. And that love isn’t conditional, just like I love my niece and nephew fiercely even when they offend me. God is everything.

That’s a few of the things that have changed for me, either regarding perspective or physically. What’s changed for you?

PS: Must do a giveaway soon, haven’t done one since 2014. Sigh. You this Chioma sef.

Every now and then you meet someone (even if virtually) who is such an encourager they act like they’re not on this same earth with all the attendant issues. That’s Eloho. From the first time she popped up on my timeline (I don’t know how) I’ve never seen her say an unkind word or anything that doesn’t uplift a spirit.

And she loves Jesus. Icing on the cake, or maybe the cake itself!

It’s so magical though, the way she is. And I’m sure you’ll love her entry as much as I did! She’s super special, and that’s why she’s up today, Christmas Day! Merry Christmas to you, and you, and you!

My name is Eloho, I am a financial analyst in Lagos, Nigeria and when I’m not doing that, I love to sing, read and just live life one day at a time experiencing God’s ‘stupendous grace.’ I also love kids, and love to see people happy and walking in purpose.

What did I learn? Let’s say I learned a whole lot. Let’s go

  • I learned that God IS!!! He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Like a pancake, seems like God turned me over just as I turned light brown to give me this assurance.
  • I learned that what we know will be tested and we had better be ready. 2015 tested my faith, my resolve and trust in God deeper than the most recent years. But I learned that God’s grace is sufficient, He doesn’t allow more than we can bear.
  • I learned about perspective and timing. It’s a new day at midnight, you know. But the only reason I can celebrate the new day is because I have knowledge and a clock. It’s the same thing with life. My attitude and response to the darkness is a function of my perspective.
  • I learned from my 6-year-old cousin, that ‘nice is different than good…’ Doing what is right and good doesn’t always feel nice but it is the proper thing to do. I’m still learning not to let the fact that the right decision might hurt someone stop me from going ahead to make it.
  • I learned that wisdom is greater than weapons of war. Not every time fight, sometimes just apply wisdom.
  • I learned that ‘Peace is a radar’, far above anything. It is the compass for my life’s journey. Constantly in my face is the image of boiling water and the lack of a reflection therein. Peace is all I need for clarity and if anything ceases to bring me peace, it has to go.
  • I learned that when we think we are infallible in a certain area, we set ourselves up to fail because we are least prepared in that area. Let Him who thinks He stands take heed lest he fall became very literal for me.
  • I learned that we cannot by an act of the flesh bring the promise to pass. Desperation and listening to people may make us feel as though waiting on God is not enough. But I learned by my own Sarah type experience to ‘lean in.’
  • I learned to appreciate the small moments. I lost a friend, Hammed Ajiboye this year. I miss him and wish I made some more time for him.

These lessons didn’t come easy. But I’m grateful that as painful as the experiences that birthed them might have been, I AM better.

Adjusts mic to an appropriate height at the award podium, smiles and pulls out a tiny sheet of paper.

  • I am most grateful for my stupendous wealth in family and my friends. I could go on and on here. God brought amazing people into my life as well. I was NEVER alone.
  • I’m grateful for favor. God continues to surround me with favor everywhere I go.
  • I am most grateful for revelation and clarity. Slowly and steadily, I am gaining a better understanding of what I am here for.
  • I am grateful for ‘discontentment’ and how it’s pushing me out of my ‘comfort zone.’
  • Grateful for my journey so far. Not the script I would have written but it has strengthened me and left me in awe of God’s sovereignty.
  • I’m grateful for service and the opportunity to give back. I derived so much joy from a lot of those moments.

To what I would do differently if I could? I would be a little easier on myself. Gosh, I was quite hard on myself for the mistakes I made but now I have resolved to fail forward and trust that everything is working out for good.

I would also imagine some more. Think I got jaded at some point and just existed. But no, God is able to do far more than I can ask or IMAGINE. So it is time to imagine wildly and boldly and LIVE again.

31 days of gratitude

She’s such a gorgeous soul! I can’t wait to meet you, has to happen in 2016! Merry Christmas @Eloxie (That’s her on Twitter, I say follow her, you’ll be glad she did!)

At the end of May I was inducted into the highly coveted Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI), along 26 other truly inspiring young people. I keep saying of the weekend we spent at Epe Hotel and Resorts that I was challenged, inspired, challenged, inspired, you get the drift right?

I think that weekend deserves a full post in itself, and I will get to it I promise. Before then however, let’s talk about this invitation I received. It was in June, a card sent to me through our Alumni Officer inviting NLI to dinner with the Indian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador A.R Ghanashym. We all confirmed attendance, and on the said day, congregated at his beautiful residence somewhere in Maitama.

For starters I was super excited because a dress I’d not been able to wear since 2012 fit (I will write about my weight loss soon too, don’t worry), and so my ‘self-love’ levels were peaking like no man’s business! Got in, met associate members I didn’t know before, and in chatting with Aisha Augie-Kuta, learned that eating a handful of almonds is akin to taking aspirin. Who would have thought?


The chicken samosas were everything! For my main I stuck to closest to familiar with the … and for dessert I tried the icecream. It was actually lovely! Indian food always wins doesn’t it?

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Starter was a lovely avocado salad, and the wrapped thing is fish cooked in leaves… so imagine moimoi where beans is exchanged for fish.

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Mr Yinka Oyinlola, CEO of NLI and the Indian Ambassador

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Totally here for the naan!! Then there was the chicken curry and chickpea vegetable thing that was a little odd-tasting, but quite nice!

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Three sauces… one curry, one beef, and the third was a vegetable cream with nuts. Yes, I tried everything!

The Ambassador is a very funny, down-to-earth man, so much that I didn’t know he was the one we were gisting with; somewhere in my mind I was expecting an announcement and then he would come down a flight of stairs or something (I know, my mind is most active), but then I asked someone where he was and she was like, that’s the person you’ve been chatting with na! Smile.

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He told us so many stories too! First off, he and his wife are career diplomats, and his wife is currently India’s High Commissioner in South Africa! He said they met former President Goodluck Jonathan at a function and GEJ asked them how many megawatts of electricity they generated between them because they defined ‘power couple’. Lol!

There was also serious talk, with the Ambassador admonishing us to dream. He said it so many times, that we had the opportunity to dream and so not to deny ourselves of ambitious dreams. And to work towards actualizing those dreams because we could, if we put our hearts to it and worked hard. He spoke about traveling within Africa and knowing from his interactions with a lot of people that Nigerians are intellectually superior to any other country on the continent. I scrunched up my nose at that but hey…

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Sharing a smile with Chairman of the APC Youth Forum and fellow NLI associate member, Barrister Ismail Ahmed

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We were joined by Blossom Nnodim! More smiles!

When we were done with dinner, he introduced us to his staff, from the chef to the butler, to his personal assistant. He told us about caring for staff and how their output/productivity was greatly enhanced just by knowing they had an employer who not only cared about the work they put in, but cared about them too. He said (and I quote), “Care. Find out about the people who work for you. The inane things – birthdays of their family members and make sure to send wishes on those days. Let them feel special, because they are.”

Food for thought there ey?

Then he told us about the (now late) President of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (A.P Abdul Kalam for short), and used his life and the story of the country’s first missile launch to explain true leadership.

He also told us of Devi Prasard Shetti, a globally renowned cardiac surgeon who is as famous for his brilliance as he is for the scheme he personally designed for financially disadvantaged people in India to access a quality of healthcare that would have been beyond their reach. Shetti’s heart hospital Narayana Hrudayalaya is the largest in the world, with a 1000 beds, more international patients than any hospital (their surgeries cost one-tenth of what it would cost in the United States), and performing over 30 heart surgeries a day. Wow!

Shetti wanted to become a heart surgeon from the time (as a child) he heard of the first successful heart transplant. As an adult, he always believed that healthcare could be cheaper, and he kept on thinking about it. The thought birthed Yeshasvini, touted as the world’s cheapest comprehensive healthcare insurance scheme. Farmers pay what comes to about 20 cents a month, and are covered totally. There are over 4 million people signed up to this scheme, which has earned Shetti many awards all over the world.

I was so inspired! I decided to do a bit more reading on the guy, and found this video of a TedTalk he gave I thought you would enjoy.


We took lots of photos, presented the Ambassador a gift, and then it was home time! I had a truly exciting, inspiring evening, thank you NLI! When’s the next dinner?

All of us!

All of us!

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Our gift to the Indian Ambassador. He loved them!


We must have taken a million photos that night!

Why hello Mr Gandhi!

Why hello Mr Gandhi!

In the last five days or so, there has been one reference to my aunt or the other. And each time I’ve smiled. Not because I don’t miss her (and I miss her terribly), but because… I don’t know.

I think of all the times she said things like, “it will get better, this thing you don’t seem to have now, no be this life? You go get am tire.” If only she knew how true her words were!

I stumbled on one of the songs that helped me get through her passing this morning, and I played back the 22nd of July 2013 real quick… how from a phone call about 5am my life literally became a blur for months on end. How I refused to go to church for a while after she passed, and then getting super angry the day I finally went because the pastor started preaching about how God could heal everything, including cancer. I remember I was like, “yeah, and you had to preach this after it killed my aunt abi?” And of course that meant I didn’t go for a bit after that.

I remember when we checked to see if my nephew would remember her (he was like a year old when she passed), and of course he didn’t (I wonder what we were thinking). I felt a little upset he didn’t remember the person who was literally his nanny when we all went to work, who was there from the first day of the pregnancy, encouraging my sister, spoiling her (because of her own struggles with pregnancy pregnant women could do no wrong in her eyes, lol), how she spoiled my nephew with gifts, and how he loved playing with her, and then falling asleep on her big body. I think that was all the children around then, who didn’t want to sleep on Big Mummy’s body?

I miss her o, kai.

I remember attending Winners’ Chapel Durunmi, and us queuing for puff puff every Sunday after service. It was like an unspoken ritual. Even if we were all angry with each other, we would still buy and so would start talking to each other from eating the puff puff in the car.

Aunty was a unifier; like she couldn’t stand for malice, quarrels and all of those kind of things. I remember quarrelling with an ex once and he called her to report me (the gall of that man). She invited him to the house and we were sat in her office. She was trying to ‘settle the fight’ but I guess we were arguing too much. Know what she did? She got up, left the office, and locked us both inside. Said she wouldn’t open the door till we had sorted out whatever was making us argue like we were strangers. Lol!! I nearly popped an artery from anger! But she didn’t open the door! We eventually settled down, had a conversation, and then she opened the door.

I love her. I really do. Years ago someone stole my parents’ numbers from my phone and sent them lies about me. My parents (resident outside Nigeria at the time) rang her and she stood up for me. Not only did she do that, she went to the person I had wronged according to the lies, had a conversation with her (that one had only sweet things to say about me), and got the woman to call my folks to tell them not to be bothered about whatever message they had received because it was a lie. I didn’t know she’d done this till my folks called to say, “this is what your aunty Pat did”.

God bless her, I have stories for days! Interestingly, she ended up telling me which of my friends had done the texting, and about a year or so later, we were right. She’d been cautioning me about a friend who she said had envy in her eyes and would rubbish me if she could; one who would come spend nights with me but would say things like, “na wa, how can only you have this or that?” I never took it seriously, till an incident involving a job a few years later. I’m sure I heard the Yoruba proverb, “the insect that kills the vegetable lives on it” at least a million times when she was alive.

The memory of the righteous is blessed. You’re blessed aunty. I love you and miss you everyday.

The weirdest thing happened yesterday… Really scary stuff. I can laugh about it now, but yesterday I was frightened as anything, and really upset at the lackadaisical attitude we have here in Nigeria about security, identities, and things like that. Of course let’s leave customer service alone because that would be reaching for the stars where we have not first learned to walk!

I will provide commentary for my tweets, but they pretty much tell the story.

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So I get to the airport (and ON TIME) because I’ve had a rough time with my health recently and so I’m not in the mood for any adrenaline-fuelled stunts involving airlines and me trying to make flights. I have about an hour to spare and I’m looking forward to a quiet time in the lounge before my flight is called. Then this happens.

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Was really confusing. Would I ask someone to check me in and then not remember? I had a suitcase to check in. Would I ask someone to check me in and not give them the suitcase? I asked these questions, asked if the person presented any identification, nothing.

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One thing that really frustrates me is people upsetting me/others then asking me/them to ‘calm down’. It’s like pinching a child and getting surprised when they cry. What else were you going for? Why should I calm down when you’ve given my boarding pass to God knows who? And then sound like it’s my fault?

They write something on my boarding pass, inform the boarding gate of the issue, then ask me to go wait to board. What if this person…never mind.

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Of course all of this drama meant that I got upstairs to departures and had barely found a seat when they announced boarding. Soooo stressful. I was panicking!

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*is a guy

So I get to the boarding gate and while they’re checking mine, I see another boarding pass with my name on it! My eyes follow the hand holding it up to the face and lo and behold, it’s a guy! Hian! Even better, when I said to him that he had my boarding pass, he started arguing! Said it was his. Uncle your name is not/cannot be Chioma Chuka (which was spelled out on the thing, not initialed o) and then he raises his voice, etc.

Obviously the airline made a mistake (a most stupid one) but you don’t compound it by not having a ticket to hand, talking about your office bought the ticket and checked you in so you don’t have anything on you. What did you present to the officer who gave you a boarding pass? My boarding pass? *Rolling my eyes*

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I was asked to go board while they sorted the ‘other’ Chioma Chuka out, and as I walked to the foot of the plane, I played out all the ways this could have gone really wrong. What if he was a really bad person, like a terrorist or something?

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Very scary. Very unserious too.

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I was terrified. Truly terrified.

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I noticed I was sweating really bad. For some reason I was afraid. So I called one of the hostesses, explained the issue to her, and said I wanted her to check what name was on his boarding pass. In my mind, if he still had the Chioma Chuka one, I would deboard. No two ways about it.

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Said hostess didn’t come back to me, so when the plane was taxiing, I got out of my seat and walked to the front of the plane to ask for the outcome of her investigation. Again I was furious. I was in my seat, breathing and sweating crazy from fear, and our dear hostess couldn’t take two minutes to come back to me with an answer!!

Even worse, this young man apparently just shares one name with me. Therefore, this is a very stupid, incompetent airline, and that official who made this mistake deserves to be whipped. What if I had a bad heart? What if I’d passed out from fear? What if this man was a truly evil person who had evil designs for me or even for that flight?

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Then, they announce during the flight that they’re launching flights to the United Kingdom later this year. When you cannot execute a local flight without incident? Rubbish. I’m still considering my options, I should sue.

PS: I forgot. I wasn’t worse off on the plane! When we touched down there was a Navy guy who got off the plane and said, “ahn ahn! This is not Port Harcourt. I was supposed to be going to Port Harcourt.” Made me laugh, like it was hilarious. Didn’t he hear the announcement about where we were going before he boarded, didn’t the hostesses check his boarding pass, didn’t he listen to the pre-flight announcement, didn’t he… I have a million questions!!

Hello folks! Welcome to a new month! How’s the year been? Good? Great? Achieving? Working hard? Feel like there are some things you need to work on, change around? It’s all in your hands!

Let’s start by catching up a bit – won’t dedicate a full post to it because honestly I’m tired of writing about the effects of drug use/abuse. Ditto ranting about drug trafficking, especially to countries where the penalty is death. So, I’m not saying drug trafficking is ok (God forbid), I’m saying that if you have given yourself over to the devil (or allowed the devil to use you according to former President Goodluck Jonathan), why not help your career by staying out of countries where the penalty is death? Na wa.

On drug abuse, and the recent death and internment of Bobbi Kristina Brown, I have a few things to say. Not to her family (who must be in so much grief all we can/should do is pray for them to be comforted) but to the rest of us who are still privileged to be in the land of the living. Not because we’re better, more righteous or whatever. God is just merciful. But we have a part to play.

Illicit drugs were, are, and will always be a bad thing. There is no way abusing drugs (even if it is cough medicine I hear people sniff to get high) will ever produce a positive result.

Michael Jackson – 50.Whitney Houston – 48. Phillip Seymour Hoffman – 46. Cory Monteith – 31. Bobbi Kristina – 22. She’s the latest entrant to the list since the post I wrote titled, “learn from it, don’t be it”. How hard can it be to say no to the first whiff, injection, smoke? What are you even doing amongst people playing rough play like that? Let me sound like my father a bit and say that do you think Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, etc. would be where they are today if they spent their time sniffing whatever it is that ends up destroying the mind and the body? How do we by ourselves become the architects of our own destruction?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death hurt me in a different kind of way. This man was an addict, cleaned up, was drug free for at least 8280 days, then fell off the wagon again. And this time it killed him. Would to God he had stayed clean another 6 months from the 8280 days; he might still have been here.

Don’t start. Don’t try it. If you’re sad/depressed/feeling bad, pray. Shop (more like window shop). Go out, hang out with your friends. Call someone close on the phone. Pray. Sing. Dance. Sleep sef!

But in the name of everything pure, leave drugs alone. There is no light at the end of that tunnel.

Love, light, and warm fuzzies,


So, today was day one of the Regional Training Workshop in Civic Education on elections and governance organized by MINDS.

I started an abs challenge this morning, bestie and I; sides are burning seriously but I see cropped tops in my future so werk! As in near future!

I forgot to mention that yesterday; we went to a little market in the town. For me, it was absolutely necessary, for a number of reasons. One, I needed cash and two, I needed an adapter! Let’s start with needing money. Before I left Abuja, I thought the dollars I had in a bag were ‘reasonable’, it was the morning I was supposed to leave I realized it was like $150, and then lots of $1 bills! And of course there was too much going on with the yellow card I was looking for, etc. to hazard going to the bank to get some more.

Then I got to Addis and because they’ve buried my umbilical cord in the perfumes section of their Duty Free stores, I spent all but $9 there! Why I didn’t pay with my card I still cannot explain satisfactorily to myself, but bottom line is I got to Abidjan with the princely sum of $9! About the adapter, I have like three of the Cote D’Ivoire friendly ones back in Abuja, I remember reading the logistics note that specified what adapters to bring, but in my wisdom and uniqueness, I had to bring the one from South Africa! Sigh. I can’t be any more special.

By the way, I feel like ‘okrika’ (second hand clothing) is big business here; either that or this market had a healthy helping of sellers. we bought some delicious boiled corn too, and we took incredible pictures eating corn on the streets of Abidjan! Can’t find the photos now, still looking!

Here’s something else – the time difference yesterday was crazy sha! In Addis I was two hours behind Nigeria, in Cotonu it was one hour ahead of Addis, and here in Abidjan it’s one hour behind Nigeria. I’ve given up on my devices giving me different times and am now content with just asking when I need to know the time.

Back to today, their tea cups in this hotel are an aberration. Kai! What is this?

Look at the size of the tea cup compared to a tumbler or bottle... Sigh...

Look at the size of the tea-cup compared to a tumbler or bottle… Sigh…

And they’re not just for espressos or anything, this is what we had for tea as well! For people like me who love a nice brew of like three teas, it was just super frustrating. Arrgh!

On to happier things! We were told they had a surprise guest for us, and interestingly, first place my mind went to was that Nelson Mandela was coming through (he founded this), then I remembered he’d passed, and then I wasn’t really excited about whoever it was. Till the facilitator, Cecile (that’s a very nice name by the way) said we had to stand up when the person came in, she was really excited, etc.

Turned out our surprise guest was Mr Donald Kabureka, former Finance Minister in Rwanda and outgoing Africa Development Bank boss. He sat opposite us in a swivel chair (interesting point to note because as he answered questions he would sway from side to side, lol) and the question and answer session started.

Here are a few things he said

* Being young doesn’t confer on us any special legitimacy or entitlements but responsibilities based on the very things we use to feel entitled; age, strength, and numbers.

*Young people the world over have reversed John F. Kennedy’s saying – it is all about what the country/world can put into our hands rather than what we can do for our countries/the world.

*Technology means that whether it is a discussion about climate change, terrorism, agriculture, etc, young people no longer think in the context of their countries alone anymore. Thoughts and intending actions are global.

*Youth participation in politics must not necessarily be about electing/appointing young people into positions of power; there’s a lot more to it.

Interesting fact from the discussion about economies in Africa and leadership – 92% of Tunisians own their own homes. So, only 8% are renting. Incredible!!

Personal thoughts about the man? Obviously after 10 years of leading Africa’s premier bank and interacting/negotiating with Heads of States on a daily, you must have pretty much seen everything there is to see, right? Perhaps that was the reason for the hint of a little too much confidence he wore, I don’t know.

In answer to a question about ADB creating jobs for young Africans (I swear I cringed as this person was mouthing the very words), Mr Kabureka said, “jobs are not created by the ADB, or the EU, or any of those bodies. They are created by the public/private sector, with the government providing the enabling environment for those businesses to thrive.”

The 'Anglophone group' working on a class task... Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia, and Sierra Leone represented!

The ‘Anglophone group’ working on a class task… Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia, and Sierra Leone represented!

Then he talked about the Africa Guarantee Fund Bank which provides funding for entrepreneurs with better rates than regular banks. He also said the ADB had periodic grants people could access, details on their website.

Back to his thoughts on leadership, he said there were three qualities any leader had to have.

1. They must have abilities (not necessarily acquired through formal education, but an expandable mind is everything)

2. A set of values.

3. Moral courage to make ‘hard’ decisions.

Of course there was time to talk about his achievements as ADB boss in the past ten years🙂 and he mentioned the bank had spent $27bn in 10 years on infrastructure on the continent. This figure according to him is 40 times more than had been spent on infrastructure before his time.

Then he mentioned that in a meeting with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005, Mr Blair described Africa as “the scar on the conscience of the world”.

In 2014 however, in another meeting, the same Blair said, Africa was “the most exciting continent in the world because of the opportunities available”.


We took photos, Mr Kabureka left, and then it was time for tea, or lunch. Don’t really remember which. But I’m going for whatever it is, and I can’t write there!

PS: Come back for part three tomorrow.


I hear there was a time when jobs were plentiful. Whether white or blue or pink collared, young people were assured of some employment or the other at the end of their education or training.

I didn’t meet that. If I hadn’t heard of it, I would never have known such times existed. Interestingly, this problem isn’t the exclusive preserve of Nigeria; all around the world, countries are groaning under what should ordinarily have been a blessing: the percentage of youth amongst them.

Populations have expanded exponentially, literally taking governments by surprise. Saudi Arabia has 70% of its people under 30 and half of that number under 20. Kuwait has 60% under 25. Nigeria has 75% of its 170 million population under 35. It gets worse; 40-50% of them are unemployed.


That was the thrust of the Abuja Hub virtual #ShapingDavos session on #ShapingWork , held on January 22, 2015, led by former Director General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Frank Nweke. Themed, “Engaging Youth in Work”, this session connected the Abuja (Nigeria), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Orlando (United States), and Chandigarh (India) Hubs via Skype and Satellite to Davos where renowned broadcaster Nick Gowing moderated a panel featuring Omar Alghanim, Dominic Barton, and Nigeria’s own Aliko Dangote.

The discussion? Everyone agreed unemployment amongst young people was an issue even though they had several approaches to it. From a lack of futuristic thinking on the part of governments to the unemployability of youths, to the outdated curricula youth are taught with that don’t ready them to solve any of the problems in today’s ever evolving world, it seems that we have a lot of young people without a lot to do with them or to give them to do. A lot of people share this sentiment.

The rising tide of unemployment was also strongly linked to terrorism simply because idle minds are the devils playground. Perhaps to corroborate that are news reports that said some Boko Haram recruits were unemployed university graduates.

The discussion peaked with this question: “what new thinking and approaches can close the unemployment gap?

One word that resonated with me? Entrepreneurship! Young people taking hold of their destinies (and quickly too) and discarding the “give me give me” mentality, Onyeka Onwenu referred to in the local panel discussion earlier in the day.

Agreed. But can entrepreneurship exist in isolation? What’s the hope of a young graduate from a low or middle-income family who wants to start a business who cannot access a loan? Immediate costs include funds to pay for two years rent, run a generator, sustain himself, and all of this starting from zero? How about Graduate Internship Schemes (and the Federal Government through the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme rolled that out in 2013), mentorship programmes too? How about good roads, stable electricity, and other infrastructure that create the enabling environment for small and medium scale businesses to thrive or at least survive?

One of the panelists said world leaders need to react to unemployment with the urgency the Ebola Virus Disease was given. I totally agree. Another said governments must stop lip service to employment issues and truly map out interventions to drastically reduce the percentages.

I couldn’t agree more.

Another thing I was totally excited by? The talent in the room! During out networking session, I met two dentists, one farmer, one lawyer, an environmentalist, a lady who writes code (whoop), and the DJ/sound guy who is a 3rd year student at university but fends for himself by playing at events.

#ShapingDavos was a rounded, tell-it-as-it-is discussion and I can only hope that the corresponding actions are taken, and quickly too.

Originally written for and posted on the Global Shapers website.

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!