Posts Tagged ‘United States’

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!




Merry Christmas to you and yours. Depending on who/where/what you are, this season might either be the “most wonderful time of the year”, or just another day filled with dread, rancour, or even worse, nothingness.

I’ve spent the last 20 odd minutes browsing through social networks as people exchange the warmest greetings with friends, family, and loved ones. And it made me think that there might be some who at this time won’t be unwrapping gifts from Santa, heading out for a day of festivities (maybe debauchery), or staying home to host the tons of people who will visit to share a laugh, drink, and a bite (and maybe a pressie or two). And so this is my message to you, you, and you.

Here’s my list, you’re welcome to add to it.

1. Nigeria’s security forces, especially the rank and file, and even more for the ones serving in the North East. Merry Christmas to you keepers of our land (second to God of course), first in line for whatever havoc Boko Haram and other evil entities think up per time. Especially under the poorest of conditions, the most demotivating remuneration, and appalling, unacceptable gear. The petty extortion on the roads, allegations of human rights abuses, appearance of cluelessness on the one hand, on the other you are our heroes. And to the ones who were sentenced to death for mutiny (apparently more soldiers have been added to the number), you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

2a. Internally displaced persons, who by no fault of theirs, have become refugees in their own land. Merry Christmas to you now without homes/farmland/livelihood, now dependent on the selflessness of groups like #SantaGoesToYola #ChristmasOnTheStreetz (God bless you guys), and the pungent hypocrisy of politicians who only visit for the photo ops. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering, I cannot imagine the questions you sleep and wake with every day, I won’t even try to imagine the conditions you currently face, despite the fact that you have state governors, house of assembly members, local government chairmen, and all the others who from the comfort and safety of their plush mansions in Abuja condemn the insurgency.

2b. Families who have lost brethren to the insurgency. Is it ok to say Merry Christmas? Whatever could be merry about it? From October 2010 and the bombing at Eagle Square, families have sent off their loved ones to work/school/play in the morning, only to receive their lifeless, decapitated bodies in the evening. Some have not been fortunate to receive more than a body part, some others, nothing at all. Where do I start from? Is it the Buni Yadi boys? Or the ones blown up while standing at morning assembly at Government Technical Science College in Potiskum? The hapless ones who got blown up in mosques, churches, bus parks, markets, malls? My thoughts and prayers are with you today and everyday.

3. Parents of the Chibok Girls. We must never forget there have been many kidnapped before these girls taken on the 14th of April, and many taken after (less than 10 days ago it was 185 taken from Gumsuri, a village near Chibok, also in Borno state). Eight months after, it’s moved from windy tales to the ‘only thing that matters’ – the elections in 2015. Never mind that Boko Haram might be breeding an army (one of the girls who escaped was four months pregnant in September, that there are chilling stories of how many times they get raped), and that these girls are walking shells of confusion, hurt and psychological trauma. All that matters to our government is getting re-elected in 2015, whether there are any of us left to vote or not. I am not a parent, but I felt separation anxiety for a toddler on his first days at school; I cannot imagine your grief (which has killed some), or your disappointment in this Nigeria we call ours.

4. Dr Stella Adadevoh’s family. Very special mention must be made of this strong, principled daughter of God who single-handedly (shame on the government for accepting the praise for her work and then wheedling out of giving her a national honor) put a plug in what would have become the biggest outbreak of Ebola this year. You (literally) died so we could live. You are our hero. Today, and always. Merry Christmas to the family you left behind.

5. Nigerians. Merry Christmas to us, wherever we are. We weathered another year, bumps, warts, and all, and must (all things considered), appreciate the fact that we are alive to see another year come to an end. Some of us have lost friends and family to disease or natural causes (rest in peace Lami, aunty NK), children have been born; loves have been won or lost, life has been what it has been to us. Devaluation of the naira, extreme insecurity, abysmal electricity, and the general feeling of hopelessness aside, we’re here. Still here. And it is at least one thing to be grateful for.

Merry Christmas.

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!

In the final post from the #ChroniclesFromBonn series, you’re invited to catch up on the previous stories. You can find them below

1. #ChroniclesFromBonn – The trip!

2. #ChroniclesFromBonn –Welcome to school, meet the team!

3. #ChroniclesFromBonn – Opening Day

Ah ha! Now that you’re up to speed, welcome to the most incredible of the days!

I had a very interesting conversation with Maria from Ukraine on the walk to the session, which was both saddening and heartwarming at the same time. We talked so much about the difficulties both our countries are facing, and I won’t forget the really big hug she gave me.

So what did we talk about? Loads of things – the unrest in both our countries, Nigeria may be a bit more severe (and multi-buffeted) – including the hopelessness that accompanies ‘international claims/offers for help’. The fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, each country stands alone. There might be some fraternization on the basis of prevailing interests at the time, but at the end of the day, you’re alone as alone can be. Or is it plausible that a country will love your country more than they love themselves? No!

Look at the Nigerian example. More than a month after the American, British, and French governments (and the Israelis I think) came into the country to help with the search and rescue of the 219 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram on the 14th of April, nothing. *Remember this trip was at the end of June* Like sometimes, it’s even hard to believe that any of them showed up.

Moving on.

I sat in on a lot more sessions today, starting with the keynote given by the Federal Foreign Minister, in German. Translators (you know those little devices?) always amuse me. I was reminded of just how much when I used this one. At some point I was listening to both the translator and the Minister, trying to match the words with the translations. Funny only when you take into cognisance that the only German words I know are ‘good morning’, ‘thank you’, and ‘please’. :)

Anyway, so I attended a session that really spoke to me, one about activism and citizen uprisings et al in Africa. It was one I really enjoyed, but one that also annoyed me on several levels. What makes people feel that because a certain form of citizen disobedience worked in country A it will work in country B? I was so amused/impressed/annoyed by the discussion that I wrote this – Africa’s Revolution: The Inaccuracy of Labels, thankful to Future Challenges for publishing it.

We (Digital Participation Camp) held our fishbowl session today too, and even though I HATED the idea of balloons (I have a living, breathing fear of them, and the sound they make when they burst), everyone else loved the balloons, the format of our session, and how interactive/fun it was! So, it didn’t bother me a lot.

Then, it was time for the boat ride! Whoop! I ran back to Bonnox, changed into a small white dress, and then I was river ready!

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Gorgeous, simply gorgeous!!

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Party time! Whoop!!

We got on the boat, and it was really lovely! The view, the music from the band on the upper deck where we were for most of the evening, and the food! There was a barbecue going on, so chicken, sausages, potatoes, and a really lovely salad! Then, Aya and I saw an ice cream tray floating around, and we followed it to the lower deck, only to find there was a full on buffet down there, including the amazing potato gratin I had a few days ago!


We had a bit, wandered around the ship for a bit, and then went back up upstairs, where it was really lovely to meet Isabel from Irrepressible Voices, and Eva from Tea after Twelve! I first met Eva in February in Hamburg during Social Media Week, and that meeting culminated in this post for their magazine – – Lagos is truly the greatest city in the world!

I also met this lovely, really tall guy who goofed around with me! I remember staring and saying, “you’re very tall”, and then he said, “are you sure you’re not taller than I am?” Lol! Bless him!

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Wow… I take back every time I’ve ever said I was tall!

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…because life is too short not to have a laugh when you can!


Then, it was time for the party!! Whoop! We all went back down to the lower deck, and the GoodFellas played the entire time we sailed to (Sepideh where did we go again?) and back! Incredible music, 2000+ people on the ship dancing and having a really fun evening. Ready to see some videos? Cos I made some!




We docked about 12.30am, and I was so wired from excitement and exhaustion! The girls (Ruth, Aya) and I walked back to Bonnox, not before missing a turn that translated a 15 minutes work into an hour’s trek!

But, we got home ok, and everyone tumbled into bed immediately!!

Next day, the conference ended with speeches and a few other sessions, and the next day after that, it was off to Frankfurt to catch a flight back to Abuja, Nigeria. Bring on GMF2015 already!

PS – I blogged about GMF 2014 for Deutsche Welle, published by Future Challenges – a condensed version of this series. Find that here.