Monday, December 31, 2007

A year of new beginnings

2007 was for me a year of new beginnings. Not in the things that were obvious and external, but where it mattered most- internally. You'd have to get into my head an see what goes on there to understand what I mean.

I had spent most of the last years walking the thin line between doing what I felt was right or pleasing people. Sometimes I failed and on such occasions, I beat myself up about it. 2005 and 2006 were years in which I felt really unhappy- basically because I had failed to please the people I care about - although many of the expectations which I failed at were, when I look back now, unreasonable demands anyway.

Anyway, I started 2007 with a trip to the UK on the 1st of January. I did very little socially - spent lots of time sleeping, hanging out with family and reflecting on my life. I returned back home, refreshed and determined that whatever happened, things were going to be diffrerent in my life in 2007. I was not going to be satisfied with the Status Quo.
I have ended this year with another trip to London. As I look over the last 12 months - which have flown by, I must say- I can say that even though I did not achieve my goal of radically changing everything- a lot has changed and I am satisfied.

I have made new friends, reconnected with old ones, been to Florence twice - it is fast overtaking London as my favourite city. I am learning Dutch and have decided to continue next year, I am learning to be less reserved with my feelings, without caring too much when people don't understand. A couple of friends have died this year - leaving me with a sense of urgency to do the best I can when I can. Its been a great year for my husband and I.

I have made some friends on blogville - some are no longer here. I have reached out to say hi and been named a stalker- which I find a bit hilarious with hindsight. All in all I am happy to have found this avenue to share my thoughts even when they are not always worth reading.......

I am glad to go into the New year continuing to change things - more determined than ever to try to do the best I can to be worthy of every extra minute that God may chose to give me.

To anyone who reads this - a blessed and prosperous 2008 to you. In the words of Steve Jobs: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish in 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

In London

Hubby and I arrived in London last night. Time to get off the internet and go explore........
(more like go visit friends and family)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Zwarte Piet

I was recently in the Netherlands, the first time I've ever been there around the Christmas season. As I walked the streets, in a bid to do some Christmas shopping, I came across what was for me a shocking spectacle. It was the Sinterklas, the dutch version of Saint Nikolaus or Father Christmas, accompanied not by Elves, Knecht Ruprecht, or Sneguruchka, his granddaughter like the Russian Ded Moroz usually is. No, the Dutch Sinterklas is accompanied by his "black" , nowadays clownish, previously sinister servant Zwarte Piet. Zwarte piet as I saw it in Holland was a white person with their face painted black and wearing red lipstick, a curly, essentially afro wig, gold earrings, like those worn by the slaves of old. And on almost all shop windows, there were the too numerous to count essential stickers of the black, goggle-eyed, red lipped, curly haired Piet. You can read more about Zwarte Piet and see pictures on Wikipedia

As I walked through that shopping center, I was in shocked that the very "tolerant" dutch people should have such a tradition, and should live it in the 21st century with such gusto. And still wonder why integration isn't happening. For me the fact that Dutch people try to justify this practice when a considerable part of the population is non white says it all. It all reminds me of the carnival in Germany last February, when a colleague told me he and his wife wanted to dress as Africans, asked me where the could find African fabric, which I told him. I even showed his wife how to tie a head tie. Only for him to send me pictures later on and I see that the had also painted their faces black and of course applied red lipstick as well, with the required gold rings in their ears of course. I guess I should be grateful that they at least wore clothes.

As for Zwarte Piet, I am pretty certain black people in Holland are taunted with that name. God help any balck parent who makes the mistake of calling their kid Peter. Maybe one day the Dutch will finally move into this century, and I don't mean by allowing all sorts of junk to be smoked in their coffee shops or sex shows in every street corner.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

In twos

I saw a white Jesse Jackson in the Tram yesterday. He was smiling at me, but I couldn't work up the courage to ask to take a photo of him. It might be true what they say, that we come in pairs....

Monday, December 03, 2007

Totally random

-I was on the brink of a breakdown, due to exhaustion, both physical and mental. I needed some time out, and I feel so much better after a few weeks off from everything. Note to self: next time, don't wait till you've almost lost your mind to switch off.


-I was in Nigeria in between. For the first time, I slept through the nights, probably due to fact that I was mentally exhausted, although after the gen was switched off, I left a candle on my bedside table- I wonder that I did not burn down the house.


-I am discovering family again, friends come and go, but your family sticks by you forever( mainly 'cause they haven't got too much of a choice, lol).


-Got my hair nicely braided by "the cotonou boys" in Ikeja, decided to get braids all the way to my waist, they are really nice, and I am already saving for the next trip home to get my hair braided, and if I have a bit of time also visit friends and family, lol. If anyone needs their phone number, let me know. I now realise that all the stares I've been getting are probably due to the hair, pity, I thought I had somehow magically grown more beautiful :)


- Was able to get money with my debit card in Nigeria, and no, I wasn't ripped off- Zenith Bank takes Mastercard and hence also Maestro cards, and Standard Chartered takes Visa. Took my first picture of an ATM in Nigeria, might put it up here if I have time.

- Zenith doesn't give receipts so I was worried I'd get back to find my bank account empty. I obviously didn't.

-Went to the new local airport to see it with my own eyes.


- Lost patience with my shallow, I think, 22 year old cousin. I hope she doesn't end up with a guy who breaks her heart. She is so shallow!


-I got copies of "Everything good will come", "Yellow-Yellow", and about 6 other books including two Segun Afolabi books at NuMetro. I tried getting Kemi's Journal, even contacted Cassava republic, but my trip was too short and I left a few days before the new copies were released.

-Spoke to Jeremy of naijablog. He sounded different from what I expected. I wonder what I expected him to sound like though.


-My husband gave me a lovely Moleskin "London" Notebook yesterday. The best thing about it is that it doesn't have any dates. Anyone who reads this blog has probably realised by now how much of a moody writer I am.


- I saw a comic book with a black girl on it in a bookstore on saturday. The background sort of hinted at the fact that the setting was in Africa. Out of curiosity I bought it. Curiousity and the fact that I try to buy afrocentric books and cosmetics especially from mainstream stores, to encourage them to keep stocking them. I even bought a Bobbi Brown lipstick once- big mistake; it tasted like ink. Anyways, the comic was titled Aya 2. I loved it! Infact, I am ordering Aya 1 this weekend.



-Having internet at home in Lagos is affordable, but exorbitant if you compare the cost to the cost in the west. It was much faster than I expected too.


-I can't believe its Christmas time again. Where did 2007 disappear to?

- I hope to be here more regularly again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Generating sets......

I have read several articles this week, in which some governor has promised to provide groups of people with generating sets and boreholes. In one case it was the traditional rulers in Ekiti state, in another people about to be renderred homeless by the expansion of the Oba of Lagos' new palace.
How about making sure PHCN works properly, and that the water corporation does its job like it used to? Sometimes I just can't understand how Nigerians think!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dreams

What are dreams and where do they come from? How come some dreams come to pass and some do not? Can we chose our dreams?

I have had dreams in the past which came to pass, or through which I got to know about some happening in someones life which I had no other human way of knowing. These have typically been very far in between, and quite scary for me. Now, in the space of one week, I have had two such occurrences. I did not ask for this "gift", and I do not want it. But I would like to understand it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On Ahmadinejad's visit to CU: Watch your back!

Eastern and Neo-western notions of hospitality are eons apart. In the East (and my East here includes Africa, the Middle East and Asia), a visitor is respected and honoured. In many Eastern cultures, this "guest worship" is such that some hosts give up their beds for the visitor, empty out their pantry to produce a feast and generally treat an invited guest like a mini King. In the Neo-western society, things are to say the least, a bit different.

This is the background of the "this is so wrong" feeling at the pit of my stomach after reading an account of Ahmadinejad's visit in this article on Yahoo dotcom. I can't believe how Ahmadinejad was introduced according to the article:
where the school's head introduced the visitor by calling him a "petty and cruel dictator."


There are so many things that I feel are so wrong about the way he was treated, when he came at the invitation of the University authorities. Let me state here that I do NOT like this man at ALL, or support any of the ridiculous policies of his homeland. All his anti-western stance and drama is a ruse to distract Iranians from his failure in the area of the economy, and if recent reports are to be believed, I think that some people in Iran are beginning to wake up from the deep hypnotic sleep they have been put in. I can't believe that anyone would question the Holocaust, even though I can understand Arab sentiments, that maybe responding by giving the Israel "Palestinian land" was not the best solution (as a Christian, I say here "it was written"). I do grudgingly think he is brave for standing up to the world community on the issue of nuclear weapons? even while shuddering at the thought of this madman and his extremist regime getting a hold of WMD. What gives the west the right to decide who can or cannot have weapons(weren't these same self righteous people Osama's sponsors while the going was good?).

After that disclaimer, which makes me sure that you are clear that I do not support Ahmadinejad at all, let me say that I think it was not a very wise decision to invite Ahmadinejad to Columbia University in the first place. Yeah, Bollinger, Columbia University's president has scored some cheap points by asking the tough questions. But, I am pretty sure that he will have deepened Arab anger at America by this act. I can assure you that Ahmadinejad was expecting to be treated with the same public courtesy that he would give an invited guest in his own country. Note: the keywords here are PUBLIC and INVITED. I understand and respect the freedom of speech and the right to information, but isn't this taking that a bit too far?

This is another display of a lack of what is popularly called intercultural competence in my opinion. A westerner would probably have known what to expect, I am convinced that Ahmadinejad did not. And that made his public ridicule all the more dangerous. America, thanks to Bollinger, you need to watch your back even more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Plastic roads: something for Nigeria?

I just watched a report about the Plastic road technology, which was developed in India.
The technology of using waste plastic to lay durable and cost-efficient roads, developed and patented by the Department of Chemistry of Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE) here, has attracted countrywide attention. 1

Trials have shown that roads tarred with the Bitumen and Plastic mixture seem to be more durable than road tarred with just Bitumen/Asphalt:

The New Prabhadevi Road laid by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation using plastic-bitumen technology has withstood the onslaught of two cruel monsoons.
Today, the road, laid on December 7, 2004, is stable and has no pothole or crack.
The same is the condition of 4-year-old Jambulingam Street in Chennai.
1

500 metres on the Chavadimukku-Pullanivila stretch in Thiruvananthapuram is an
example of the strange mixture used on roads. There has been no damage to
the stretch even after one-and-a-half years, the Chief Minister said. The
technique of mixing tar and plastic is used in Tamil Nadu, he said.
2

Using this technology would help in job creation:


A unique feature of this exercise was that 3700 women's self-help groups were
involved in the collection of plastic waste. Each group was paid Rs.12 per kg of
plastic collected.
1

It is environmentally friendly, if the material is properly processed:

A km of road with a single lane will consume one tonne of waste plastic 1

And maybe, just maybe, Lagos would become at least a little bit cleaner!

Sources :

1 http://www.hindu.com/2007/01/28/stories/2007012817030300.htm

2 news:www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEO20070906023351&Page=O&Headline=Plan+to+try+out+plastic%2C+tar+mixture+on+roads&Title=Thiruvananthapuram&Topic=0

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some of my favourite books

Reading is my hobby. I read anything and everything, from non-fictional works, to chick lit, to crime fiction, depending on my mood. The only thing I refuse to read (or watch) is anything in the horror genre. Here are some books I love and have reread more than once(apart from Nr 9!), not in the order of preference:

1) Barchester Towers - This is the second book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope(1815-1882). Actually I love anything by Anthony Trollope, but this is my favourite, probably because I discovered him through this book. It is also arguably his best known work. Read more on Wikipedia.







2) Emma - I fell in love with her before it became hip to read Jane Austen, lol. Her short stories are also quite good.

















3) The Mystery of the Blue train - again, this book represents my love for Agatha Christie crime fiction. I have read almost everything she wrote, and more than once!














4) The Mayor of Casterbridge - tragic story by a great writer.










5) James Herriot's "All things": I remember reading the first of this series once when I lay at home in a doped on chloroquine trying to fight Malaria, at the age of ten or so. All Creatures great and small was the first book I read. You do not have to be a veterinarian to appreciate these books. I was so excited several years ago when I found a battered copy of The Lord God made them all in a flea market in Moscow.


6) Eats, shoots and leaves : The zero tolerance approach to Punctuation -
hilarious book, and quite useful too.

















7) For Matrimonial purposes: This book is about the family pressure on a twentysomething Indian woman to get married. It maybe about an Indian, but it resonated loudly with me, and was funny on top of that. I definitely recommend it - it is light reading:













8) The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. First of the slightly
naive, very touching, definitely addictive series by Alexander McCall Smith. The Audio version of the book is also very good, for a nice quiet evening. This series is currently being made to a movie in Botswana. You can read more about it here and I am really looking forward to seeing it. By the way, it was mentioned just a minute ago on CNN and you can watch Inside Africa this week to learn some more about the series.




9) The Lord of the Rings - very great read, unfortunately verry long. I have not been able to bring myself to watch the movie, since I felt it could not possibly match the book, but I have heard that the movie really does justice to the books. So maybe I'll watch the movie soon. It would definitely be a lot faster than reading it again!

10) How to be a Nigerian - this is one funny book, no matter how many times
I read it it still cracks me up. I have not been able to purchase it on Amazon (last time I checked they were out), but I hope I'll be able to get it on Albiris (I set up a notification for it) or when next I'm in Nigeria. Or maybe it'll be easier to filch my dad's copy from his study lol.




This list is in no way exhaustive. I wonder if there is anyone else who likes the same books out there.
**This Template makes such posts look disastrous. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time right now to work out how to transform this template to how I really want it to look.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Things that meant a lot to me growing up: My cards

We are a letter writing, card giving family. I got Birthday cards appropriately filled with gushing words from adoring parents for as long as I can remember growing up. I remember poring over the cards for days on end, they made me feel warm and loved by my parents. It gave me a warm protected feeling, taking the place of hugs and goodnight kisses. Since my parents settled back in Nigeria, for some weird reasons, I had become highly uncomfortable with the rough hugs my father gave us. I know it is his way of showing love, but he hugs in a funny way still till this day trying to force my 20 something head on his shoulders. I bear it nowadays because, heck, I only see the man about once a year. But I digress.

I got Birthday cards from my siblings and friends as well. I got Success cards when I had exams and Congratulation cards when I passed my exams. I got Easter cards and Christmas cards as well. I got Get-well-soon cards and Be-my-val cards. Well only one Be-my-val card, but it still counts, doesn't it? I also loved to give cards. I pored for minutes in gift shops trying to pick out the exact card which would convey the intensity of my feeling for my mom/ dad/ siblings/friends, in fact for who ever it was I was getting the card for.

I have saved all my cards since I was about 10, maybe, and I carry them around with me. That is one of the few indulgences I allow myself in my worldwide voyage. I have left furniture behind without batting an eyelid, shed a few tears over some books before eventually leaving them behind, left things behind with the hope of eventually returning to get them sometime, but never my cards. I always take them with me. They are of the utmost importance to me. Even if I only pore through them once every year, or sometimes even more irregularly, yet I know they are there waiting to take me years down memory lane, to that card from daddy on my 13th birthday, that card in which my mummy wrote how proud of me she was, that first handmade card from Eddie or that christmas card from my friend T whose becoming a mother anytime from now........The only thing that means more to me than my cards are my letters.......but that is a post for another day.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Childhood Memories: Billy the Goat


When I was 10 or 11, my grandmother gave us a goat for a Christmas present. We took the goat with us from Ibadan, all four of us excited. It had to stay in the boot for the duration of the journey, and we kept worrying if it had enough air. While driving, we decided on a name for him. We decided on Billy. Billy was a she though, and we put her in our BQ. Finally, we had a pet of our own, we'd always wanted a dog, but Billy would do just fine.
Billy was such a sweet goat, she ate grass from our hands, stood on two hooves on our chest, was just perfect! She was white, with black spots, and had two outgrowths from her neck that looked like tiny bells. Billy had Betty, about a year later (she was probably pregnant when we got her). Betty was white with brown spots. Later, Billy had Bobby; I don't remember how that happened. He was a light brown colour and it was immediately obvious that it was a he goat (apart from his organs); he just looked very masculine, for a goat. How I loved those goats. I remember my best friend T teasingly calling Billy my sister, when we only had her. These animals affected even my parents.
We totally loved those goats, and didn't even mind too much having to clean after them. They totally rubbished the BQ, practically tearing down the door of the room where they lived, and inspecting all the other rooms, obviously leaving behind evidence, :)
Knowing Naija parents, I guess you know what came next. Billy was the first to go. Then went Bobby. We kids cried our eyes out and were inconsolable for a while. We ended up eating some of the meat later though - its sort of macabre sha. Betty had twins, which we had to give away, because my parents had had enough. Betty was the last to go.

I'll never forget my darling goats, and especially Billy. Thinking about them evokes wonderful memories of all the innocence and carefree happiness of my childhood, of a time when all was perfect, to mind.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The ethic of reciprocity

I have been on vacation and thinking deeply about a lot of things recently, about my present, my past and my future. Somehow in spite of all the happenings around me and in my head, or maybe because of them, I have not had the urge to write recently. I will be writing about some of the things going on in my head.

My friend C and I have been through a lot together. Even now that we don't live in the same city anymore, we talk regularly on the phone and share most of our secrets. We are so different that I would not have believed that we would remain friends.

C doesn't trust anyone. It doesn't matter who you are, make a "misstep" and she doesn't give you a chance to explain, you are just cut off or harshly judged. We argue about that a lot. As much as I love C, I know she is the type of person who will always look out for number one. That has happened many times even towards me. I have often wondered what happened in her past to make her like that.

Mr. K was a married man when we were students who had asked C out. She told me that he had taken her out a few times, I knew that he called her sometimes, but she told me he was just her friend and I believed her because I could be friends with a married man, but I would never knowingly have a relationship with one. Besides, everyone knew that Mr. K had another girlfriend.

A mutual male friend of Cs and mine, Chima once told me I was just being naive and thought that everyone was like myself when the subject of C and Mr. K came up, and when I said "they are just friends".


Chima cheats on his wife.

Some random thoughts in my head:

Are we untrusting because we are untrustworthy, or are we untrustworthy because we are untrusting?
Are we harsh and critical because we have been harshly criticised, or are we harshly criticised because we are harsh and critical?
Are we unloving because we are unlovable, or are we unlovable because we are unloving?
Could "do onto other as you would be done by" have a more pertinent potential positive effect on our lives, christianity apart?

My own opinion is, yes. Living by The Golden Rule can have a positive effect on your life even if you are not a Christian.

Read more about the ethic of reciprocity here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yardy's new cabinet and Why politicians steal

I have been doing serious internet research to find out who was named to which ministry, but apart from the information about the Finance Ministry and that Yardy is keeping the Oil portfolio to himself with three junior Ministers, nothing has been so far forthcoming. Please if anyone has access to this list, post it o make we see.

I found this interesting piece from Simon Kolawole via compgovpol.blogspot.com

Simon Kolawole is the Editor of THISDAY newspaper. He holds a B.Sc. in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos and a Master's degree in Governance and Development from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom.His predecessor, Olusegun Adeniyi was appointed a Special Adviser in President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's cabinet.

Nigeria: Why Do Nigerian Politicians Steal?

Simon Kolawole
Lagos

Why is there a mad rush for public office in Nigeria ? Let's toy with a few guesses. One, the desire to serve "my people". I have heard a lot of politicians say this a million times. It is always the preamble to the declaration of intent. Even those who go for second term usually say that it is the "wish of my people". A slogan that is becoming increasingly popular is "one good term deserves another". Good poetry, that is. Two, the desire to "make a difference". Politicians say things like they have seen the afflictions of the people and they are offering themselves for service so that they can put their expertise and experience to use for the sake of "my people". Three, "it is our turn". The other village has had it, the other ethnic group has had it, the other senatorial district has had it. It is now "our turn". Four, and most interesting: it was "my people" that asked them to run.

How do you now actualise your ambition, having decided to run for office? It depends. If you have a mighty godfather, you don't need to start from the scratch. He will do all the spending and handle all the logistics. The bill is usually in billions of naira, and you are expected to pay back as soon as you enter government, and then pay "compound interest" for as long as you are in office. In other words, you are imprisoned for the life of your tenure. If you are your own godfather, or you hire a godfather but you are picking the bills yourself, you will still be indebted to the tune of billions of naira. Perhaps, you raised a group of rich persons to fund your campaign, you are morally and financially indebted still. In a situation where you paid your bill all the way through, you are indebted to yourself. And there is no limit to how much you pay yourself back.

And then you are sworn in as, say, governor. The last thing on your mind is your campaign leaflet, with all the promises to construct roads, provide clean water, rebuild classrooms, provide healthcare facilities and transform your state to " London ". It is not your fault that you can't remember your campaign promises again. There are more important and urgent issues to deal with now. The first item on the priority list will be to build a new government house, which is modern and befitting for a governor anywhere in the world. You also need the latest bullet-proof cars, preferably imported from Germany . You may not need another wife, but it is becoming glaring that your wife can no longer handle your libido so you look for several "helpmates", especially as you now have to be travelling abroad often to look for foreign investors. You are usually alone in First Class aboard the aircraft, so it makes sense to go with a company. No, not your wife all the time.
What next? You start thinking of the next elections so that one good term can deserve another. You need to build up funds. You need to create youth associations that will be singing your praise over the place. You need to have significant interest in the media and entertainment industry so that you can celebrate yourself as much as possible. You need to "encourage" the private sector so that you can round-trip public funds to finance your re-election campaign. You need to reimburse your godfathers and financiers. You need to keep your party very happy. In fact, you have to seize the party machinery as quick as possible. You must be in charge from ward level to state level. You must "settle" the security chiefs and electoral commission bigwigs ahead of the elections. You must buy the latest cars for traditional rulers and their chiefs. You must buy over politicians from the opposing parties so that they can defect or make their parties available for your use. It's a matter of cash, Your Excellency.

With this huge bill on your neck, it makes sense that you have to raise funds to satisfy your libido and ego. Will the money fall from heaven? Not yet. Will it grow on the trees behind your house? Not sure. Most likely, it will come from the state treasury. So you sit down and prepare a budget for education, health, electrification, ecology, security and other items of interest. You also make sure council funds don't go to them; just give them enough money to pay salaries and settle a few bills. Prepare a very good budget. Send it to the legislature for appropriation. Meanwhile, you must pay "appropriation allowance" to the lawmakers, if not the budget will not see the moon of the night. Or the light of the day.
All contracts must be awarded by you and through you. If you budget N3 billion for health, make sure you take half of it and transfer it to some personal accounts. Then the remaining half should be judiciously shared among your commissioners, directors in the ministry, the permanent secretary and other leeches. Make sure at least N50 million gets to the state hospital. The Chief Medical Officer will have to cut his own share, as well as his fellow directors. Therefore, there will be no drugs in the hospital, even though, officially, the drugs have been "purchased" and "disbursed".
Also, if you want to award a road contract worth about N1 billion, increase the bill to N2.5 billion. Award it to your politician friend or your front who will kick N1.5 billion back to you instantly. The best way to go about it is to make sure no road is constructed, or the same road is constructed again and again, perhaps 20 times during your first time. That will fetch you a handsome sum.Having built up significant funds ahead of your election, you can now begin to spend more time abroad. You visit South Africa . What a beautiful country compared to yours. The best way to make sense out of it is to buy one or two houses there, so that when you run into some harsh climate at home, you can escape for fresh air, even if only for one week, in company of those tiny girls who fly first class with you. Who likes stress? You come from a country where the roads are rough, the hospitals are horrible, the electricity is erratic (to use a mild word), and education is empty. So why not send your children to school abroad? Why not spend more time in Europe , America and South Africa to escape the stress? Will you allow humility to kill you? Even ordinary mortals send their children to school abroad, much less Your Excellency, the Executive Governor.

Oh gosh, you also forgot to build for the future. Having amassed enough financial resources to run for another term in office and having bought houses abroad and stashed a couple of millions of dollars away for "official use", you need to make sure you are not like the governors of the First Republic or Second Republic who shrank in size after their terms of office. You must have enough wealth to last you for a lifetime. So, buy a bank. Set up an airline. Buy up shares in telecoms companies. Secure your future and that of your children and grand children, and great grand children. Start a wealthy dynasty. Your descendants must not know poverty again!
After serving "my people" for two terms, you can now relax and enjoy the rest of your life. On your way from the parade ground after handing over to your successor, please close your eyes. Don't see the potholes that have become deeper and broader after your eight years in office. Do not look at the children hawking on the streets to keep their families alive. Do not give a damn in the world about the schools that remain dilapidated after eight years of budgeting and appropriation. Do not bother yourself about dozens of communities without water, access roads and electricity-eight years after you decided to answer the call of "my people". Find better things to do than to start worrying about the fact that the billions of naira you "made" while in government could have turned your state into the "mini-London" you so much admire and nearly bought up. Please, there are more important things to worry about in life. By the way, if you are called upon to serve again, do not hesitate. Your country needs you. Heartless looter.

Kidnapping is Child's Play (II):
My argument, last week, was that nobody should be surprised with what is happening in the Niger Delta today. The seed of marginalisation and neglect was sown over a period of forty years, and the wildest seed was sown in the Abacha years when he used the military to repress the Ogoni people. Obasanjo contributed his own quota with the destruction of Odi and the mass murder of innocent people in the Ijaw village in 1999. Also, the Niger Delta politicians, with unbridled access to petrodollars, recruited gangsters and cultists to help consolidate their hold on power. These factors combined-that is, the neglect by oil companies and government, the official repression and the politicians' heartless greed-are responsible for the increased agitation and criminality we have today. To focus on the criminality, which is just a symptom, and gloss over the root causes will not be helpful in this matter.
Relevant Links
West Africa Nigeria
To stem this calamitous slide which has led to the kidnapping of toddlers, I suggested, last week, that all tiers of government in the region must, as a matter of urgency, embark on massive public works by engaging the services of the local people, not foreigners who may not wish to go there anyway for the fear of being kidnapped. Employing locals should produce at least two results: one, reducing the recruitment into militancy and hostage-taking gangs; two, giving the people a sense of ownership (I don't expect Niger Delta "militants" to continue to kidnap Niger Deltans who are building Niger Delta roads, schools etc to the benefit of Niger Deltans and with Niger Delta's money. There is an extent the criminal elements can go before facing opposition from their own people, I think).
I want to add today that I fully support the "constructive engagement" approach of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Many people will be uncomfortable with this strategy. Some will ask: Why negotiate with "criminals"? The military in particular may not be happy. They would never like to be seen as being overpowered by militants. They would want to be seen as all-powerful and as conquerors of the Niger Delta militants. It is a matter of pride! But as the American experience in Vietman and Iraq has shown, military might does not win a war all the time. A more workable way of handling conflicts is to look at the root causes and negotiate as much compromise and consensus as possible. If you are dealing with armed robbers, you may need to fire bullets to cage them. But when you're dealing with ethnic, religious and other sectional agitations, you must win the peace to win the war.
I also advocate that the Niger Deltans must begin to ask their political leaders questions. The amount of money that has gone into the Niger Delta since 1999 is enough to turn the whole place into a Dubai . There are too many wastages and leakages in the system, and having more money seems to have aggravated the condition. This same argument can be extended to the rest of Nigeria . How many governors are truly accountable to the people? But because it is said that to whom much is given, much is expected, the people of the Niger Delta must show particular interest in the management of the extra billions that get into the hands of their governors and council chairpersons

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Doppelhammer

As we sat having breakfast on Sunday at our favorite pub, where you can have a "Hammer" breakfast consisting of cheese, a boiled egg, ham, fruit, a small glass of orange juice and some bread, all for 2,5 euros(I wonder how they make a profit, its much cheaper than eating at home), we discussed a wide range of issues, inevitably getting round to the controversial pronouncement made by the Catholic church last week. Apparently, I had been deceiving myself in thinking that heaven is my destination. I have it on the authority of none other than Pope Benedict XVI that I was deceiving myself.

I am Pentecostal, although I begin to feel less and less at home in the disorderly services that are sometimes credited to the Holy spirit. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the manifestation of God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I even speak in tongues and believe in miracles. Yet, I do not believe that God can reside in the midst of the chaos and personality worship that many pentecostal churches have become. Maybe I have backslidden without knowing it? Somebody help me here.

How does this have anything to do with the Catholic church's pronouncement? My hubby has a deep respect for the Catholic church, even though he is Lutheran, because he says it is the only church that has remained unappologetically "conservative". Some of the Catholic church's doctrines are very impractical, and have definitely not stemmed from the bible- at least not the bible as I know it- maybe they have developed sometime in the almost 2000 year history of the church. However, unlike most of the other churches around, and the worst of all are the unregulated pentecostals, especially in developing countries, the Catholic church is not moved by every wind of doctrine. Its changes are usually well thought out(at least compared to the other churches). I guess the political clout of the Catholic church, not to talk of its huge financial resources make it easier for it to have an independent voice.

The Yoruba say, only God knows them that serve him, I do not dare to judge any church, all I wish is that every once in a while these religious "leaders" would pause and take a look in the Book they claim to live by.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sieben

Hello. I'm still here, just too much happening and its been difficult putting pen to paper. Doing the seven things post after being tagged by Chxta:

1) Sometimes, my brain moves too fast for the people around me. So we might be discussing topic a, and I make a random statement about topic b. Can be embarassing.

2)I have a peculiar birthmark in the middle of my chest. I always wondered if it has any meaning, and if it does, what it means.

3) I sucked my thumb until JS1. My parents despaired- they tried all they could to stop me- from rubbing bitter leaf to plastering my finger to rubbing hot pepper on my thumb. Nothing stopped me until I found out how embarassing it is to be caught sucking your thumb by classmates. After I caught my cousin sucking her thumb, at 21, I wondered what it would be like to suck my thumb again. It was comforting.

4) One of my greatest wishes is to find my best friend in primary five again. Her name was Janet Quijano, she was Philipina and we did a lot of stuff together. One day she could not go for P.E. and when I asked why, I learnt for the first time what a period is. She also told me how to stop your period if you want to. You have to drink a very strong saline(salt)solution. It works. I tried it once when I was 13 and on holidays at my grandma's. I was too shy to ask for a sanitary towel, and besides I wanted to go out with my uncle. I took this saline solution, and my period stopped. Never mind the excrutiating pain. Jane and I started to write our first novels that year of primary five. She moved back to the Phillipines with her family after primary five. Someone stole the only letter she wrote to me, so I could not reply her.

5) I am a sucker for underdogs. I take other people's pains too personally. Sometimes, the person is not even as bothered.Its like that Yoruba proverb- a lara lara o roun, o lo ku arun......(the person whose body it is says its doesn't ache and you are saying sorry....) - i'm not sure about the ending of that proverb, but you get the gist.

6) I always wanted to adopt a kid. As a teenager, I would say, mummy, I am going to adopt a kid someday. Typical Naija style, my mum would try to discourage me, saying "God will give you your own kids". I plan on having my own kids, God allowing, but I would also like to make a difference in some kid's life. I feel it doesn't make sense having four kids when you can have two and adopt two. Not that I want to have four kids.....

7) Wow, I'm already at number seven. I would love to blog as me, but I'm not yet sure it's the right thing for me.



I tag....



Nyemoni
April, whenever she returns
International Home
Ugo
Omodudu


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Must read article

This article from Dr. Gary Busch on the Nigerian Village Square has left me beyond speech.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Of "Christian" names**

"Oh you had your baby, congratulations", they said. "So what are you going to call him?"
"Oluseun"- answered she
"Wow, what a nice name!, so what is his Christian name?"
"Oluwaseun is a Christian name, it means 'Thank God' "
"Okay, so what is his English name?"
"What is your Yoruba name?"

The above conversation was held between my mother and her classmates at university in London, in the late seventies when my brother was born.

I don't have an English name. That bothers some people. As a child it bothered me as well. For some weird reason, I loved the name Victoria, and always wanted to be called that. But over the years, I have come to appreciate my mother's fierce belief in the fact that having an English name is no prerequisite to being Christian, or necessary in fact. Her stand is ironic given the fact that her first name is English, her having been born Anglican.

I love the fact the everytime my name is called(the original version, not the bastardised version my Oyinbo colleagues call everyday at work, mind) it means something. I love the fact that my name and the names of my siblings tell a story. I love the fact that my middle name was passed down from my grand mother, and that both set of grandparents wanted me to have that name, I feel like I have the name by destiny. I know that I will pass that name on to my daughter and make sure that she has the name of her greatgrandmother, a strong woman. I love the uniqueness of my name. I love the fact that I don't have an English name.

Have a great weekend.


** This post was inspired by the first paragraph of this article about Chinua Achebe, who once again has proved that gold will always shine through, no matter what. Congratulations to Chinua Achebe on his win, as well as to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose wonderful books have kept me glued on many recent evenings. May the spirit of the ancient storytellers live long!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Enjoy where you are at

"Too many people miss the silver lining because they are expecting gold" - Maurice Setter

Could this be the reason for a lot of the discontentment in our lives, as well as the inability to reach our potential(or the constant dissatisfaction with achieved goals)? Lets learn to I must learn to see an opportunity in every obstacle.


**Will post again soon, I have been travelling.....

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Nigeria in the news

Africa has many problems, no sensible person would argue that fact, but by reporting only on the negatives, Western news organisations are helping perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices which are a major part of Africa's problems. No reporting at all is better than the constant negativity which Africa in general and Nigeria in particular gets from the major news organisations.

The fact that the Niger Delta issue must be reported is not one that I am disputing, the lack of objectivity is what one questions. I have seen several reports that aim at showing that the Iraqis are just like “the rest of us”, in spite of the inhuman, atrocious activities of the insurgents there. It would seem that there is nobody in Sub-Saharan Africa, or Nigeria at least who is living normally “just like the rest of us”. Things are moving on in Africa, markets are emerging and growing. There are millions in Africa who do not depend on aid, who are studying and working, who are doing a honest day’s job and are being innovative, and living decent honest lives whose stories have never and will never be told if it is left to Western news outfits. Only 419 stories and atrocities make it to the screens. No wonder millions in Africa are tuning to the Al-jazeera English service to get their news.

Reports like this photo essay on Time magazine website, are just absolutely imbalanced. While there are millions of people in Africa who live in such conditions as the refugee family pictures in this essay, can someone please tell me how that refugee family fits into the set of pictures which were shown? If they had been comparing the victims of Katrina, families from the slums of Calcutta, the Voksal kids of Russia and Indonesia’s Tsunami victims etc etc, I would not bat an eyelid, but to compare a refugee family to the other non-refugees is just plain stupid. Or are there no families in Africa that are not displaced and who are living normal (even if sometimes poor) lives? I am sure in the prejudiced mind of the Time reporter, every African lives in a camp. The other week, they had another photo shoot titled “The two sides of Nigeria” and the only people who live well that they could come up with were some Lebanese. So there are no Nigerian’s who live well or what? When I saw that photo gallery, I was irritated, but I let it go, but now, I just have to speak out.

Watching CNN’s “Inside the Middle East “ and comparing it to the same Channel’s “Inside Africa” is like comparing chalk and cheese. Not that I watch these programs regularly, but the only normal stories I've seen in a long time on Inside Africa was one about fish farming in Nigeria, and the report about Oprah’s girl’s academy. Unlike Inside the Middle East, where you get a balanced view of what is happening in the Middle East and Northern Africa (Egypt is constantly featured on IME), Inside Africa only ever portrays Aid workers or refugee camps etc, or children singing for visiting westerner celebrities. I think they need to take the program off the air, because they air enough of those on regular news shows anyway. Who needs another 45 mins dedicated to how wretched Africa is when that is all we ever hear day in day out.
You can read Chxta’s post about CNN here.

In my personal opinion, the BBC currently offers the most balanced reports on Africa at the moment.

I issue a challenge to Nigerians out there to come up with a channel and/or News Magazine that portrays our nation in a balanced way and reports our news objectively, at a high quality. There are enough good journalists out there who can satisfy the yearnings for our balanced and unprejudiced reports. They can make their money by satisfying our need for information – it would be a sort of Social Enterprise. It seems CNBC is about to pave the way by launching Sub-Saharan Africa's first international business news news channel.
To the Western news organizations that insist on reporting from Africa, let me borrow from Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and say: How to help Africa? Be objective in your reporting. Here is positive news about the strengthening of the Naira, to cheer you up a bit.

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Make we join hands, to make Nigeria better

The inauguration of Yar'adua has come and gone. Although I condemn the elections that brought Yar'adua to power, I am realistic enough to know that if the elections were repeated right now, the same thing would happen. I do not believe that the bad, bad PDP rigged and cheated the poor honest other parties. I think that all parties cheated, and rigged. In fact, if they did not want to cheat, someone would cheat on their behalf, because that is how things are done.

I read somewhere today that Orji Kalu must be a good govenor because he is the only governor whose party won the governorship in two states. I laughed to myself - so, being a master rigger is now an accomplishment necessary to achieve praise as a Nigerian governor. The same people now proceeded to blame his underperformance in his state on Obasanjo. If Obasanjo had left him in peace, he would have achieved something in his two terms. Make I just no comment on that statement sha.

I think more can be achieved by reforming INEC and the system, and making sure that the next time things will be done right. Even though it might seem like cowardice, I am just thinking pragmatically here. If the elections are annulled right now and the elections are conducted over, with no reforms, the same circus will result, imho.

The many sides of Yar'adua

In trying to understand what type of person our new president is, I found this article a few days ago. I have since discovered that a lot of bloggers posted it sometime in 2006, so instead of posting it all over again(its quite long), here is a link to the post on Chxta's blog.

Battle of the wives

Meanwhile, it is highly unusual for Nigeria that not much information is available about his family. I have been able to find out that he is married to one wife and they have 7 children, but it seems his wife keeps a really low profile, no picture of her has popped up, in spite of my thorough web search. It seems Mrs. Goodluck will more than enough compensate for the lack of gra gra on Hajiya Yar'adua's part! I predict that things will be interesting in that area, me I dey go get popcorn.


Me I like my country
I like the land and people
Everything e dey for Nigeria
Make we join hand, to make Nigeria better!!!!

I like am, I like am ohhhhhhhhhh

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Picture of the day: Victorian Era Nigeria?


On a lighter note, was I the only one struck by the ridiculous outfit of the Chief Justice of the federation? Seriously though, this outfit is one relic of the colonial era that we need to chuck, and fast too. The ruffed sleeves made me laugh even more than that wig.
Okay I know that we are probably closer to the Victorian era than we think, what with the lack of basic modern infrastructure we face, etc, but the sun too hot for such attire now. If the poor man don quench because of the heat for there as Yar'adua dey repeat the oath, dem go say na someone do am.

Picture culled from Yahoo! News

The Nigerian Proclamation

Today, five months short of 47 years since Nigeria attained independence, the first democratic handover of power from one civilian to another has taken place. On this day, which was to be a history-making occasion, the farcical elections overshadow the important occurrence.
Since independence, leader after leader has fallen over himself, each seemingly in a bid to outdo his predecessor in destroying the nation further. Millions are hungry, in a land endowed with plenty. Many values have been lost to the expedience of survival. Basic human values have been sacrificed in the survival of the fittest that is the reality of Nigeria.

I am posting the Nigerian Proclamation, as part of a laudable initiative of Solomonsydelle's, in a sign of protest against the sham, which has been forced on us in the place of democratic elections. I will however not be true to myself if I do not state that the blame for the state of things not only rests with our leaders, but also with us as a people.

When we make excuses for mediocrity, and give bribes because “he also has to feed his family, the poor policeman”, when we put pressure on our friends and colleagues who have attained political office, when we get someone to “work” our NYSC posting, so that we get posted to Lagos and not some dead end village, when we harass female students, when we mistreat our drivers and house helps- treating them lower than humans, when we get an electrician to connect us to the NEPA pole without paying, when we charm and buy our way out of a mess, when we accept questionable gifts, when we cheat our way into higher institutions, when we live so far beyond our means that the only recourse is to be corrupt, when we do wrong things and then claim it is “God’s will” to justify it, when we see injustice being done and refuse to speak out “because this country is not worth dying for”, we are contributing to the mess that is Nigeria.

Nigeria might seemingly not be worth dying for, but it’s the only country we have. There is something deep down inside one which will ever be irreversibly linked to the land of our birth.

May this proclamation be taken, not only as an accusation to our leaders, but also as a wake up call for each one of us -

Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s Call Obey!


THE NIGERIAN PROCLAMATION

IN RECENT HISTORY, NIGERIANS HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMINGLY BETRAYED BY THOSE CHARGED WITH ADDRESSING THEIR NEEDS. INSTEAD OF SERVING THE PEOPLE, PUBLIC SERVANTS HAVE SERVED THEMSELVES TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE MASSES.

THE RESULT IS A NATION LACKING ADEQUATE INFRASTRUCTURE, ORGANIZATION AND SECURITY. THE INEFFECTIVENESS OF NIGERIAN LEADERS INDICATES A LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE CONSTITUENTS.NIGERIANS ARE NO LONGER RELEVANT TO THE LEADERS, THUS, LEADERS DO NOT FEEL RESPONSIBLE TO THEM.

THE RECENT FAILURE TO CONDUCT A FREE AND FAIR ELECTORAL PROCESS WAS YET ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION THAT THE NEEDS OF THE MANY ARE SECONDARY TO THE WANTS OF THE IMPORTANT FEW.FROM THIS DAY, ALL NIGERIANS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FUTURE OF THIS GREAT & POWERFUL COUNTRY.

CONSEQUENTLY, ALL NIGERIANS MUST COMMIT THEMSELVES TO THE FOLLOWING:

- WE MUST DEMAND THAT ELECTED OFFICIALS BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS AND IN-ACTIONS.

- WE MUST EXPECT DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES TO BE HONORED, RESPECTED AND MAINTAINED.

- WE MUST BELIEVE THAT ALL NIGERIANS ARE EQUAL UNDER THE LAW AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH.

- WE MUST APPLY OURSELVES TO IMPROVING THE LOT OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL NIGERIAN REGARDLESS OF GENDER, RELIGION, TRIBE OR SOCIAL STATUS.

- WE MUST STRIVE TO MAINTAIN A UNITED REPUBLIC DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES.

ONLY UPON ACHIEVING THESE PRINCIPLES CAN WE AS A PEOPLE FULLY LIVE UP TO OUR POTENTIAL AS A LAND OF GREATNESS. FOR OURS IS A COUNTRY RENOWNED FOR ITS ILLUSTRIOUS PEOPLE, AMPLE RESOURCES AND SHEER PHYSICAL BEAUTY.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Africans, North Africans, Black Africans........

I have just read this article on the BBC about the new french Justice Minister. The emphasis on this article is that she is now the highest ranking North African in France. It got me pondering about why the western media so loves to distinguish between the various types of Africans.
Africa is Africa, I think the constant division into Sub-saharan, or black africa, as it is known on cnn, and North Africa is an expression of the underlying racism in peoples minds. I have had people say " I've been to Morocco or Tunisia, but I would like to visit Africa."
Duh, Morocco and Tunisia are part of Africa. There are cultural differences and even ethnical differences, but I think in all African countries have managed to live very harmoniously with one another. I think in the west, where the notion of a multicultural soceity is a fairly new one, its impossible for them to imagine people living together peacefully, inspite of racial or ethnic differences.

In Sudan, they say its the Arabs killing the black Africans. While I agree that the Dafur people have a dark skin tone, in my opinion, it takes a large stretch of imagination to say the sudanese president is an arab. If being one or two shades lighter is what makes them Arabs, then , then many northern Nigerians and Malians and Niger republic people and Somalis have an even more visible claim to being Arabs. While I'm not saying that what is happening in Dafur is not genocide - it is, I think its quite unnecessary to say its arabs to black, when the parties involved are obviously all blacks. The genocide in Rwanda happened even though all parties were "black african" in foreign media speak! Instead of looking for other more obvious reasons for the horrors of Dafur, like desertification of the area and just oppression of the poorer people by those in power, it must be reduced to race.

Left to the west, there would be a three tier society in africa, with Black Africans occupying the bottom layer. Oops, I forgot we are already there.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tales out of school-part 1

Reading about Mandy’s experiences in school brought back memories of my secondary school. I really loved my secondary school and I have mainly warm memories. All the same, there were some not so pleasant memories of this one teacher – Mrs. S whom everyone called “Mama”.

My first encounter with Mama was when at ten years old my parents dropped me off on the first day of form one. My school was a girls’ only school, and I was to start as a day student.
I had always wanted to be a boarding student- in fact I had recurring dreams about me in boarding school throughout my years in secondary school- but as their eldest child (eldest children are guinea-pigs!), my parents said either I waited and finished primary six before they would consider letting me go to boarding house, or if I so wanted to go to secondary school from primary five, then I had to be a day student.

Anyway, so our parents had to drop us off and we were herded off to a hall, where a woman called out names and sorted us into groups- different arms of form one. She called a girl’s name and the girl answered “ yes”. This woman barked “ I am not your mother’s age mate – you are to call me Mama and barked fear into our young hearts. There were legends about Mama, and it was generally acknowledged that the fear of Mama was the beginning of wisdom. I managed to steer clear of her for the first year, taking another direction whenever she passed.

Mama was my art teacher in form 2. Since I cannot draw to save my life (although I have been told that is a mental model I have to get rid of, that my art is like abstract art – another story for another day), Mama and I had a few confrontations. That is to say, she confronted me, and poor, timid and shy 11 year old that I was, I could never say anything to justify myself, all I did was mumble.My art work, painting, drawing etc was so bad that she taunted me regularly in front of my whole form, and sent me out of the class for daring to submit such homework. On one of these occasions, she sent F. out of the class as well, for not doing her homework. F. is a sickler, and she had been off school for a few weeks due to a crisis, so it was understandable that she had not done her homework. Mama said to her – “get out of my class, I won’t even bother to cane you, you will die soon anyway, and your family is only searching for someone to blame for your death.” In spite of the fact that she had humiliated me time and again, that was what made me start to hate this woman. I stood outside, an 11 year old and comforted F, also 11 at the time – “don’t worry, you won’t die, you will live and when you are an adult with a great education, I’ll help you hunt this she-devil down and we’ll remind her of all the hateful things she has said today”- or at least some childish version of that. The only good thing that came out of that episode was that F and I became really close friends. I am glad to say that she is well and alive and currently pursuing a Phd in the good ole USA.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Coo coo

It has been a hectic time since I last posted here. April was a hectic month at work; May has so far been busy as well. I have missed blogging, but was so fagged out that I could not put hand to keyboard. I have been worked really hard... all sorts of unholy hours, weekends as well... but I am really enjoying my job. I feel my confidence in my abilities rising. That is not a bad thing at all.....

Here's a happy birthday to all fellow Taureans, out there. I'm also a May girl, turned 29 at the beginning of the month. Had a nice get-together with several friends. I had not celebrated my birthday in several years, but I decided to see out my twenties with a bang lol. Got a huge bunch of 29 red roses from my hubby, I got so many flowers from people - I had not received so many flowers since my wedding day! My red roses are currently hanging upside down on my toilet ceiling - hoping they dry properly as a momento of the day. I really do not feel 29 - I always thought I'd feel older......A lot has definitely happened, grateful to be alive..

Spoke with many classmates from secondary school in Nig, several weeks ago. It was really great to speak with people after 5, 6, 7, 10 years and still instantly feel the connection. I have always gotten easily attached to people - sometimes even when I have not had any conversation with them. I remember after leaving Nigeria, feeling nostalgic for a guy who used to attend lectures with me, (and it was nothing romantic at all).
This issue of me getting deeply attached to my friends has always made it difficult to make new friends - because the older you get, the more difficult it is to become intimate with someone. It can also be a disadvantage because I feel things concerning my friends sometimes too deeply – as my mum liked to say “alara lara o ro un, olo ku arun…(lit. the owner of the body doesn’t say its aching, but you are saying sorry). One day I'll write about Adeola O. and the first time I got into hot water at eleven for taking someone's problems too much to heart, and for trusting them too much.

Started learning Dutch. Somehow I know deep down inside me that I'll probably never become good at this language, but I feel really mentally relaxed during the lessons, that I'll just keep on at it.

Met some Indian colleagues at a conference recently. It was really interesting to listen to the new generation still talk about arranged marriage like it was perfectly normal. Still I have to say, I think that Nigerians and Indians have a lot in common culturally -although we also differ in many ways. Anyways, I'm rooting for M, who is hoping to convince her parents to allow a love match(in India talk, that is when you get to marry the person you love and chose yourself as opposed to having an arranged marriage).

My best friend is pregnant. I am so excited, we've known each other for ever, she is like my sister, and even when we have not talked for ages cos she lives in Lagos, we are always comfortable with each other. We have taken most of our major steps in life at the same time, and she said "hurry up and get pregnant now". I can't admit to anyone that I'm scared of becoming a mother. I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone, but I love children so much and have always wanted to have a child so much that I'm afraid reality won't match all my daydreams. What if I can't be a good mother? What if I'm too strict? What if my child doesn't like me?..... I know totally stupid, most children love their mothers. Since my parents prayers are probably sounding with a hysterical frenzy now, I am hoping God waits a bit before answering them. Meanwhile, C.K. and I had a near miss in March. It was not funny at all. I only allowed myself nostalgic feelings after I was certain it was a miss.

I can't believe I have written so much, considering the fact that I have been having a blogger's block the last few weeks.
That's all for now folks.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lecturers prey on Nigerian women, girls

More naija dirty laundry HERE- thank God it is being aired though!

Imagine, girls as young as 11 being sexually harassed by teachers; it's a pity that this malaise of our higher institutions has gotten to younger girls, but it was only a matter of time. I remember hearing whispers from classmates in the primary school I had just joined (we just moved cities) about a girl having gotten pregnant for our Yoruba teacher the year before. I was in primary five, nine years old, almost ten and this was several months before I learnt, also from a classmate, what menstruation was - so you can imagine how innocent I was. This girl must have been around 13 or maybe slightly older and she had reached what would probably be her adult height and was very "ripe", that did not in anyway make it right!!! It is sick for any adult man to take advantage of a child entrusted to their care, where is the honour of these paedophiles??? Oh, they probably do not see themselves as sick people sha. It is just enjoying "perks of the profession"!

Its things like this that make me very disdainful of the people blaming the west for all of the erosion of values in society - as far back as over 60 years ago, my aunt was impregnated by her principal, in a very traumatising experience, that has her rejecting her child. Lets face it, many of our men don't know how to keep their trousers up, and it doesn't have anything to do with oyinbo!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hair issues

I finally got my weave on out last week after having it in for a record period of 3 months. I just had to wash it in between, because I kept imagining that my colleague had changed departments and subsequently moved out from the office I shared with him, because he could no longer stand the smell from all the hair products and sweat emanating from across the room.

Speaking of which, why do I always get the guys who are hygienically challenged in my office? The guy who moved out loved to poke his nose,and he had a perpetual cold- the type you can smell several feet away(sorry to gross you out). He sometimes used my phone or touched my computer - my skin positively crawled, and I had been debating a polite way of telling him not to use my phone before he had the good sense to move. Just as I was sighing with relief, he was replaced, and his replacement not only pokes his nose, but also picks it and puts the stuff straight into his mouth. EEEWWW. I must urgently tell him to try and limit that to when I'm away from my desk. I do not need to see that after lunch!

Anyway, I digress from my topic, so I finally had my hair relaxed and it reaches just below my shoulders now. The reason for my jubilation over this perhaps to you not necessarily long hair was that one and half years ago, one preoccupied Jamaican hairdresser in London decided "everytin 's bad, ei trim it for you". As she was more intent on discussing the latest misdemeanours of her baby father with her friend than listening to my objections about cutting off all my hair because it had some minor split ends, I ended up with a cut that looked like this: as in not nice looking at all, more like some rat had gotten to the back of my head. I am almost sure the fact that my dad and I had an argument later that evening had to do with the fact that I came back from the hairdresser’s with my head round as a ball and shiny with my hair funnily plastered around my face.
Seriously the hair looked quite nice enough when I left the salon, but trying to maintain a sane look with that 1/2-inch of hair at the lower half of my head was very difficult.
That is why I have been jubilating at my regained hair length and have spent my whole weekend perusing http://www.growafrohairlong.com/ trying to find out ways of ensuring that I never return to that state where I cannot pack all my hair in one again.

I have had a very good experience with using dark and lovely’s oil moisturiser spray for several months now. That has ensured much better moisturization for my very dry hair. I have also been steaming my hair with several concoctions at my hairdressers fairly regularly consisting of motions and fantasia products. In fact, I think a substantial part of my paycheck lastyear went toward financing her new house. My dh does not understand why I cannot relax my hair at home myself- I can and have done that in the past, but since I did not study hairdressing in the university, I decided to give myself over to the experts - not the crazy scissors wielding type, thank you very much. Leave my split ends alone, na me get am!
By the way, if anybody reading this has any tips about re-growing the hairline, I would be very grateful if you shared that with me.

Continue doing your thing, Charles! ( The Prince's Advocate)

My opinion doesn't count for too much on the issue I am writing about, since I am not British. I am nevertheless one of the not very many (so it seems at least from a perusal of London dailies) admirers of Prince Charles.

My admiration of him dates almost 20 years, since I read about his landscape paintings in one of my mother's copies of Woman's own. Being Nigerian, I was impressed that a future king could have other preoccupation apart than chasing small girls or throwing his weight around and making life difficult for everyone. That liking was in no way diminished by finding out over the years about his environmental awareness drive, the fact that the organic food brand Duchy Originals was his brainchild and is owned by him and finally about the Prince's Trust respectively. I was therefore very happy after reading this article, which for once stood up for Prince Charles.

I think it was a pity how Diana died, and also very sad how her marriage to Charles broke down, but I do not think that it is fair to put all the blame on him. Bluntly put, Diana was not a saint either. Whether or not she was pushed to her indiscretions during and after their marriage by Charles's going-ons with Camilla, and/or the disdain of the Queen for her is a point which I cannot argue on, as I do not have enough information. One thing I do know is that, whatever pushed her, a lot of her actions were unacceptable. However it would be too much to expect people to be fair in their judgement of Charles, after all, sex sells and sexy he is not! Besides, these are the same people who have elevated Jade Goody to celebrity status - I rest my case.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I love you

When we met, we fell deeply in love. We said we could go to the ends of the earth for each other and we meant it. I walked around all radiant, because finally I had found my one true love. People had misgivings, parents were worried. Why on earth did you have to fall for someone a world apart? It never works out, it can't be love, its for material gain, what didn't they say?

In spite of that we went ahead. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life. You said to me a few months before we got married, as we discussed problems that could come our way "the problems will probably come where we least expect them". You couldn't have known how right you were.

Somewhere along the line we stopped communicating. We knew we loved the other person, but were no longer sure about how they felt towards us. The voices kept getting louder - get rid of her, he is no use to you. We spent more time fighting than we did having fun. You placed ice cold walls around you heart and kept me out. I started to act out, to try and provoke a reaction from you. You withdrew even further.

We got to a point where we decided separation was the only option. We sadly gave in "everyone was right, such relationships do not work afterall". I was shattered, went about my life like a zombie. I loved you more than life itself, yet I could not continue being the only one working at this relationship. Cultural differences had not helped matters. I would say one thing, you would hear something else. You would say something and I would understand it differently.

Both stubborn as bulls, neither would give an inch, I would thaw and you'd be frozen, and then you'd thaw and I'd be frozen. I lived to receive your calls, yet I was ice cold most times when I answered the phone.

Finally, I started to pray. When I met you, you fit completely the description I had written in church about the Man I wanted to marry, right up to the huggable part. I wondered now, whose voice I had heard. You could not have been meant for me if it turned this way. I had no way of knowing you were going through the same things I was. I knew that the faults were not all on your side, I can be difficult to live with. It had been a difficult time for us both, with settling down and trying to start a new life together.

Then finally, you said the thing I had been waiting to hear - you said you remembered again why it was Me you married and no one else. You said, "let's try again". I was so shocked that I could not react. The one thing I had given up hope upon was happening.

I realised that this was a refining process. I will never take you for granted again. I hope you won't me as well. I am so greatful to God I received back the man I married.

I love you my Huggy bear, I pledge my life to you anew. You make me complete, I could never be the person I am without you by my side.

I love you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oprah's gift and my tears

I shed bittersweet tears this evening after watching these videos about "Oprah's girls".

Tears of joy for the gifted, determined, wise little girls who have had their lives transformed so dramatically by Oprah's gift. Tears of joy that their dreams have come true, that they have an amazing chance. Tears in hope of their reaching their goals and beyond.

Sad tears for the fact that over 40 years after Nigeria gained independence, we have still not gotten it right. There are still millions of girls who are just like those girls in the videos, even worse off in Nigeria.

I shed tears because we have leaders content to ride their Mercedes Benz on roads riddled with potholes, like the shock absorbers make it okay. I weep silently at our "elite", content to live in mini-fortresses which double as lighthouses, because they are the only ones able to afford generating sets in the neighborhood, instead of fixing electricity. They ship their children abroad en-masse to be educated, at institutions they could never afford by legitimate means or private universities at home, instead of fixing the system. I shiver at people who proudly talk about "our culture"- a decayed neo-culture, a caricature of the old values, where one with neither any sense at all nor of a high moral standing is valued more than millions of higher worth, just because of filthy lucre.

My sad tears are also occasioned by the situation of our young people. For poverty is a curse, but a lack of dreams and burning aspirations apart from baffs, a big car and the latest this or that is an even greater curse.

Ask a cousin what you can get for her and you will ninety times out of 100 hear her say perfume, or timberlands or a top. It is rare nowadays to hear "a book" . Even the privileged youth take their opportunities for granted, lofty aspirations are a waste of time, get rich quick schemes in order to "make it" are the in thing now.

I shed tears at my own cowardice, I feel a yearning to make a difference, yet fear of the unknown and a reluctance to leave my comfort zone is preventing me from trying better than half heartedly to make a change.

I shed tears because I don’t know if I will ever be brave enough.

Monday, February 26, 2007

And the Oscar goes to... and the snubbing of Nollywood.

2006 was a good movie year. I haven't seen most of the movies, but the ones I have seen were good. I think Helen Mirren deserved her best actress win. I totally enjoyed The Queen and the droll humour got me all cracked up. I would have liked Blood Diamonds to win something because I thought it was a truly memorable movie and Leonardo Dicaprio and Djimon Honsou were good. Either way, I am particularly pleased by the list of winners this year.

Black actors have not just miraculously gotten better since Denzel Washington won the best actor Oscar in 2001 - the first to be so recognised since Sidney Poitier in 1963. They are just finally working on a more level playing field. I am so happy that Forrest Whittaker won the Oscar, even though I have not yet seen the movie for which he won it - The last King of Scotland.
Now, hopefully the day will come, and soon too, when women of colour(gosh I'm sounding like that cosmetic advert on CNN!) get a truly level field. I fear the battle will be harder - just cos we are women. Anyway, since Halle also won in 2001, I'm believing that other people will be given a chance to play challenging characters. Jennifer Hudson's win makes her a real Dreamgirl! It certainly doesn't get dreamier than that.

I know African-Americans are busy denying Barack Obama is 'black" enough in the American context because his father was African and did not go through slavery. Yet, whatever some people say or think, I still firmly believe that when a black person anywhere in the world breaks a barrier, they have brought all black people around the world one step closer to equality. Their success makes it possibly for us all and our children to believe that all things are indeed possibly for him that both believeth and works hard.
So, I rejoice for the African-Americans who are suceeding in their fields like I rejoiced when Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace prize - in spite of the fact that most Kenyans have an inbuilt - unjustified in my opinion - distrust and dislike for Nigerians( but hey, I'm Nigerian, so maybe that's why I think so).

To other issues, in the last few days, I have seen/read several news reports about the African film industry where Nollywood did not even get a mention. I will be the first to admit that most Nollywood movies are rubbish, but since we all also know that Nollywood is the third largest film industry in the world, I feel that Nollywood deserved a mention. Instead, one was fed with information over the fledging South African move industry. I wonder if they paid for the PR which they got! Nollywood needs to tighten its belt and stop churning out crap - or else no one can complain when its looked over.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ohmmmmm!

I've been very wound up the last few months and an old acquaintance, V, with whom I met up recently after about five years of very rare contact, suggested Tibetan Yoga. I got home and did a google search and found out that apparently, the body consists of seven "chakras"(actually Tibetans say its five, so I bet some westerner has done some wuruwuru- mixing Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian therapies) - seven "principal energy centers" which correspond to the seven endocrine glands, also known as chakras. Abnormal health, stress etc is supposedly caused by the fact that these chakras are not functioning like they should.
These five relatively simple exercises(also known as five tibetan rites) will apparently , according to this website:

"balance the 7 chakras & regulate the hormonal output. They affect our digestive system, cardio vascular system, nervous system and respiratory system.These low profile yogic secrets of the Lamas will unearth all the energies and an awesome power lying dormant within you, aligning it with the cosmic energy to give you the best of both mind & body."

V claims that since she started doing these exercises daily, she has felt much better than in a long long time.

I tried the first exercise , if one can call it that, basically standing with your arms spread and spinning round and it felt good. Like it always has. Now, I didn't know a thing about Tibet when I was eight and spun round and round on that warm evening when it rained heavily and I could smell and almost taste the sand and dust saturated steam that rose as the rain hit the dry season pavements, roaring in my ears as I whirled round and round with my siblings. It felt good then and it sure feels good now.
Spinning is fine, but I am determined not to cross the thin line between therapy and exercises and ideology, which is one of the reasons I have steered wide clear activities like Yoga and meditation in the past. I think I will still do the exercises, but no way I'm "emptying my mind" or meditating. The only meditation I'll be doing is praying! Interesting the way people are into alternative therapy these days.
Another friend suggested Chinese therapy to help me relax- acupuncture, massage, etc. Mmm, it all sounds very tempting, but I'm scared to get involved in something I can't handle. I am sure though that it would relieve my stress, nothing like a bit of massage with oils to make you feel good about yourself.
Meanwhile, V claims she can't drink any alcohol because her "seer" wants to pass her powers to her. Men, I am glad I only see her once in like five years o. Like life is not hard enough, for one to be looking for extra trouble by going to seers, seriously, I found it creepy. In this day and age. Na wa.

On another note, here are is a page I came across as I surfed along the Blogville.

Black people love us - I'm not really sure how to take this website, maybe I have lost my sense of humour?!?! OK,I think they are trying to provoke people to think about their prejudices, but isn't it a bit extreme?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fuel scarcity? Rent a bike.

The Netherlands is quite an interesting country in many different ways, but what has captivated me most about this country is the bicycling culture. I was so amazed on a recent trip to Amsterdam to see the huge bike "flyover" in front of the central station that I had to take pictures. I have never seen so many bikes in one place in my life. And its the same picture all over the country.

Biking(and I don't mean Okada o!) would be a great way out of all the difficulties faced by Nigerians during the regular as a clockwork fuel scarcities in Nigeria. And before you rush to say that its unsafe biking on Nigerian roads and especially in Lagos, I recall reading various reports that likened Lagos to a ghost town due to a dearth of cars on its streets because of the inavailability of fuel.
Infact, this could even be a good business opportunity for some people. Imagine buying several bikes to rent out for a certain amount of money. Minimal maintainance, maximal profit. Almost every damage can be fixed by oneself. A friend of mine once said she had to ride Okadas in her estate because taxis and buses dropped people at the entrance to the estate and it was to far to walk in the blistering sun. Just visualise Mr. X owning a bicycle rental at the entrance to the estate. He would have railings to lock up the bikes both at the estate gate and nearer to the houses so people could return bikes they had borrowed from one end to the other "depot". Please go ahead, steal my idea. I'm eager for you to. The benefits would be great, no more environmental pollution, free exercise, no longer being at the mercy of Okada drivers, bicycle accidents are less fatal, I could go on and on. My people, the pure water business is so out, the new craze should be rent-a-bike. At least this one, it won't leave the roadsides littered with polythene bags.

In fact, I'm thinking of starting a Bike for survival initiative :)! The only obstacle I can see to it is our bigmanism culture, where some people would rather ride in death trap "taxis" or buy resurrected 30 year old Tokunbohs to cutting their coats according to their size and buying good old Kekes. But sha I have faith in the good old younger generation. Infact I think one of those wildly popular people just needs to take up biking in Lagos, and you will see how people will follow. Abeg, bikes are the new Jags.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Duke's blog

Now Donald Duke's blog is only open to invited readers. Mmmm.

Serena's back!


Whoopee!!!! Serana has proved her critics wrong again beating Maria Sharapove 6-1 6-2 in just 63 minutes to take home the Australian open cup . Those who said Serena can't play, would you like to say that again??
I'm so glad she won, Maria, sorry, better luck next year. I have to say though, Maria was extremely gracious in her comments. I'm looking forward to Serena getting back in the top 5 in the rankings again. As it is, with this win, she just moved from 81st to 14th position. Well done, Serena. Now the next big event I'm looking forward to is James Blake making it to world number 1.

Bring up a child in the way he should go

I saw a link for this new short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the New Yorker on Uknaija's blog(thanks for the link) and I must say it is a must read. It reads like non-fiction, but even if it is fiction, it captures one of the dilemmas of modern day Nigeria very vividly. In fact, not just Nigeria, but the fact that the law is more buyable in Nigeria makes it worse.

Many parents care so much about what others think and say and because of that put their children's future in jeopardy by not making sure they are properly and adequately punished when they err.
Many teenage boys in Nigeria go through this stage of stealing and extreme misbehaviour. Their parents raise their hands in despair, and make raise up a lot of warm air, but do not really try to get to the root of the problem. I am speaking from the experiences of friends and family members.

Case 1 - A friend of mine in secondary school sneaked out his british passport and sold it to some mallams for 75000 Naira in those days. And spent the money in a few days. His parents were upset with him, after they finally dragged the truth out of him. They then took him to the british embassy and police station, claimed the passport had gotten stolen, got him a new passport and shipped him off to London. Tell me, is that the right way of dealing with such behaviour?

Case 2 - My cousin who repeatedly stole tens of thousands to take to school to show off. His dad threatened brimstone and fire, locked him out of the house one night, but his mother kept telling the father "jo rora", please take it easy. What was that amount of money doing in the house in the first place? Even today his poor mother is still in her old age making excuses for him. And outsiders are not buying it anymore.

Case 3 - A son who beat his mother up because she didn't give him the money he asked for- simply because he could not afford it. He terrorised his mother so much, brought guns into the house, his father just emotionally withdrew and acted like he was unaware of all the ongoings. He ended up finally being shot dead by policemen during a clash with cult gangs (he was a cult member).

Case 4 - There was a story carried by all the daillies last year about a commisioner in an eastern state who had been shot dead by her own son. This son had apparently been charged with rape years ago and the only fitting punishment his parents could find for him (probably in order to save face) was to ship him off to America, in order to prevent him from facing the music. Since a leopard does not change his spots, this young man soon got convicted of a crime in the USA, and after facing his prison term, was deported back to Nigeria. It was when he got back that he killed his mother and stole her car.


All the stories above demostrate failed parenting very starkly. Our people care too much about what other people will say, etc, so they let their children get away with things they should not be getting away with. And some are just too busy chasing after mammon to be able to carry a punishment through. For them, such behaviour is just irritating and doesn't fit into their well planned scheme. I don't want to generalise, but some Nigerian parents are not fit to be parents at all. In fact, may times the problems with their kids can be traced back to the parents. When a person has no respect for the sanctity of human life, treats other people as a means of getting what he want, does anything to aquire the most important thing to him (in Nigeria, that is usually wealth), has no principles, it is no wonder that the lives of many young people are being destroyed. After all, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. The sad thing is that, as with everywhere else, its usually children from well-to-do and middle class families who have these behavioural problems. When you outsource the upbringing of your children to God knows who, just in a bid to make more money - be ready to one day face the consequences. And blaming the moral decay on western society is just because we refuse to look deeper. Most of the blame rests firmly at the parents' doorstep. I remember my mother randomly checking my bag in primary and making me return every pencil or eraser that she did not buy for me and asking fiercely "where did you get that from?" - most times it wasn't delibrately taken anyway. There was no way you would come home in clothes my parents had not bought for you and it would not be noticed. In fact when my older cousin who lived with us started to do runs, he made sure to keep the newly acquired baffs well out of sight. He could be as cool as he wanted on the street, but dared not bring that past the doorstep.

Almost a whole generation has been destroyed by cultism and other ills, it is important for our generation to take our parenting tasks seriously. If you can't afford more than one child, don't have more than one so you can spend time bringing up your child properly instead of running three jobs to make ends meet and having no time for the four children you decide to have. Also be strict with your children. I'm not saying be a "god of judgement" type of parent, but even while being loving and striving to be friends with your children (as is the modern way- and it good too), remember your child is not your friend. You have a responsibility to God, your nation and your child to bring them up the right way. Otherwise, you'll have no one to blame when they turn out badly.

We are mirrors of acceptable behaviour to our children. If your child sees you beating up your wife or cheating on your husband, filing false tax returns, using a fake title you did not earn, taking bribes or using false documents, somehow, subconciously, it will take it for granted that things should be that way. When you start getting righteous when he steals from you at 16, its already too late to fix things. You need to be consistent from day one. If you do believe that stealing is the only way forward, then teach your child how to steal well, no pretences here. What does the greatest harm is the double morality of our parents. They do stuff which is obviously wrong, and then pretend like you are a fool and can't see it and start preaching to you and taking you to church. Thats why one sees some young people who despise their parents.

Remember " train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he shall not depart from it" Proverbs 22:6
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