Being a Nigerian stammerer

It is tough enough for a child to be bullied by peers in school or in the playground but when you were teased by people who should know better, then it hurts – badly.

Evelyn was not very happy with Nigerians, all Nigerians combined, her son was teased by a relative, she was shocked and at same time furious that they were uncles and aunties who should know better that stuttering is a speech disorder.

It was a five-year old Patrick that got teased at a family gathering, it started with a few children of his age picking on him, he ran to Mama crying as he was clearly hurt, the last people he expected to be teased by was his own family. The mother intervened and asked the children to be nice, that caught attention of the in-laws who busted into fits of laughter repeating what their children were being cautioned for. Evelyn was furious about this and could not believe the insensitivity shown by the adults, so left the party.

She told the story to me still angry after hours. How I wished I could say “That was unfortunate, because at home, we were understating towards stutterers.”

I once had a brother whose stuttering was terrible. Mayowa at some point would close his eyes out of frustration just to get a word out. Within the family we understood and barely noticed it anymore. Outside of our house, his name was Akololo – Stutterer, this was said to his face, in a big crowd, everywhere, not just by children but even adults would pat on the shoulder before calling him the new given name. At school, he didn’t say much to avoid being teased. Being teased daily was his life in primary school.

Mayowa’s few years at SDA Grammar School was better. He met a girl who lived around the corner from us that goes to the same school, he was happy as Funke became a good friend, she understood him and allowed him time to express himself despite been painful for both the speaker and the listener.

To Evelyn I told of my experience, also add to not take her ignorant in-laws too seriously.

Too bad I can’t call on Mayowa for tips but Patrick is blessed – visiting Speech Therapist and increasing confidence by the day.

We can support better by reading up on stuttering  

 

Grandfather’s chest box

“If someone has bitten you, he has reminded you that you have teeth.” Kenya proverb.

I asked my father what the deal was with his Iroko chest box. I have known this box to be special since I was little, it stays under his bed and in it were journals and diaries of my father from before I was born.

“Apoti Baami nuu” – “My father’s chest box”, he said to me. Your father’s? I was ecstatic! All of my grand parents from both families were long gone before I was born  and apart from the house in the village and the farm that belonged to my paternal grandparents, there were nothing personal around that I knew of, not even a photo! By the time I was old enough to appreciate stories about my paternal grandparents, my father had lost his voice so took solace in his pens and journals.

My mother chipped in to talk about my grandfather’s dentures and how they became his ‘little babies’ the first few weeks he got them. My grandfather had dentures? How could he have afforded those close to sixty years ago? Where did he get them done?

Everything becomes clearer by the day why there will always be endless conflicts and lots of it in Nigeria if government continue to turn deaf ears to landownership crisis like the one in Modakeke and Ife

My grandfather got his dentures fitted at Ibadan, likely to be LUTH.

My grandfather’s dentures and his chest box have nothing to do with what really is boiling in me however, they were crucial clues to the lives people of his time lived in the village – He was not rich, however, he was content. He lived well, he was able to afford the cost of his health services and food for his family.

What has changed:

My grandparents had seven children, four were male so family farm was divided between them (leaving gender inequality for another time). Only one was educated to Standard Six, others enrolled in various apprenticeships. At one point all of them returned to the village, each working on his portion of the farm.

Any mystery as to why there were ongoing conflicts when Ife insisted on Modakeke to continue paying Isakole on three hundred years old lease?

There’s just not enough to keep feeding idle hands of great grand children who relied on proceeds from informal lease between great grand parents. Simple.

The same piece of land has not and will never increase in size, however the population has quadrupled in the last century – why is our elders not seeing this and find constructive ways of dealing with the conflict in the way that a group of people are not alienated on their land?

Lease on land met brick wall in the 1980’s after Oba Okunade Sijuade decided to reintroduce his rights to absolute power for good reasons but now outright chase of people from their farms is the new strategy.

My question is, those people especially in Ogudu Village, will they remain quiet for ever? They are hurting, no one is listening or think they are making any sense.

Yet, our president Jonathan Goodluck had time to visit the “Notable Yoruba Kings” yesterday in my hometown to discuss politics – Well, we all know these Obas do not give a hoot about the common people and neither did GEJ.

I have a word for all of them – Ile ti a fi ito mo iri in yio wo – A house built of saliva will collapse when dew hit.

Plights of our fathers, now with the sons

International students often times when in host countries learn much more than academic studies, especially the ones not included in the brochures.

Rachel and I have quite a few things in common, to begin with we were both from Africa and have a thing or two to say about injustice system in our individual countries so we were always grateful to be in a country where for the most part justice reigns.

Sometimes in early 2000, there was a shooting at Seattle University District in which a police officer killed an unarmed young black male. It was all over the news, lots of people were furious.

At lunch next day, I shared my thoughts with Rachel about the shootings and how I could not believe a cop had to shoot eight times because he had to protect himself from an unarmed member of the public. Rachel response was that we don’t know much about African American history so not to get into it.

I agreed with Rachel however, my point was that no one needed to shoot eight times perforating the stomach and chest with bullets just to be sure the other person didn’t have a gun.

Prior to this day, I had spent 3 terms listening to the horrible deeds of President Mugabe toward white Zimbabweans. Rachel’s family was chased out of their farms, the family had to leave all that they owned and relocated to Scotland – I felt for Rachel. The talks about President Mugabe became our conversation starters whenever we met – I agreed then and even now that the old man is hurting everyone including the blacks he proclaimed to be protecting.

So if I could see your points regarding Mugabe narrow-minded attitude, how hard is it for you to show the same sympathy towards the killing of this young guy? Don’t you see that I could get killed that same way if I happened to be a male?

It is okay and even expected that I voice my opinion against President Mugabe that I don’t know and very unlikely to ever meet but I don’t know African-American history well enough to think killing an unarmed civilian less than a mile from where I lived is irresponsible and demanded justice?

Hatred is powerful and perceived hatred is even more so.

I woke up yesterday morning to the video clip of Mike Brown Killer – Darren Wilson. Watching Officer Darren Wilson admitted to have shot Mike in the head just brought back memory of years ago. What happened to other parts of the body, the wrist, foot, anywhere else that wouldn’t mean immediate end to his life?

Rachel still lives in the US today, she must have seen enough of shoot-to-kill of young black males in the last decade, hopefully, she would remember the talk we had that day.

We all need to see the bigger picture to end racism.

Condolences to Mike’s family and friends.

Chickens and Foxes

Creating a peaceful world must start from everyone’s backyard.

A few years ago, I received yet another fatality news about Modakeke farmers at Ogudu Village. This is because the villagers believed the superficial instructions given by our ex president General Obasanjo that there will be no more killings or farm grabbing so everyone should go about their normal business peacefully. Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade also openly agreed to this. Given our history, people were sceptical but after a few months, they have to go back as their livelihoods depended on tending the farms.

The farmers, upon getting to their village were met with machetes and guns – those who escaped were lucky, a few others, not so much. Farmers at Ogudu Village were predominantly Modakekes (>50%) the rest were people from all over Osun state i.e Iree, Gbongan, Ode-Omu etc.

As I went through my inbox that day, in came another email from Adeoye with the same prayer request for the war-torn nations of the world:

” Please let us remember the nations of Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Israel, the US, DR Congo, the Palestine, the rest of the Middle East region and  other troubled spots of the world in our prayers.  Let us pray for the peace, justice and protection of GOD over all HIS children and their possessions in those countries. GOD Bless you as you do so.

For at least a decade now, I received daily inspirational messages mostly along religious line with bible quotes from the same person. The quote above is the signature to all of Adeoye’s messages – I used to read them all religiously. So I called him up to have a chat about his campaign for world peace when he is oblivious to the fire burning in his backyard.

As it turned out although Adeoye has lived in Yorubaland all his life between Abeokuta and Lagos – about 200 km from Modakeke and Ife,  still he was not aware of the recent crisis in Modakeke and Ife.  ‘You must be joking’ I exclaimed. Adeoye was aware of 1980 crisis just after the new Ooni was crowned however, he had no idea that the 1997 to 2000 one was very serious.

Well, tens of houses were burnt in both towns and village houses razed down, hundreds of lives wasted and even today more than a decade later, some neighbourhoods remained deserted and wreckage of burnt houses visible.

After all these wasted lives and properties, are we close to resolving the problem. Not close. For one, Ogudu farmers are still roaming the town and not able to return to their farms and secondly, Yoruba elders would rather beat about the bush than call a spade its name with Oba Okunade Sijuade.

Nigeria newspapers do not carry news of event under their noses, and when they did the news would read more like fights between foxes and chickens.

Yoruba heritage – Cultural narrative on batik

Folakemi

Sangodare Ajala Initiation – Oro sise

Batik here is an amazing creation of Sangodare Ajala – Obatala and Sango priest was unveiled at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford by Prof Wole Soyinka 04 May.

The story of Yoruba initiation into Obatala priesthood – god of creation as well as that of Sango, god of Thunder was vividly told in this artwork. From the little child in the basinet being welcomed to the world through the rituals of esentanye while the whole village stood, with tilted heads towards the sky in unity pleading to the gods on behalf of the baby. According to Baba Ajala, initiation can be done at anytime during lifetime, giving everyone opportunity to connect spiritually.

Also visible from the painting were market women with their produce well-balanced on the heads as if on the way to the market – colourful outfits, chatting happily along. Men in their elaborate agbada outfits in mood…

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Building bridges with children when relationships fail

In a situation where the children are involved, how does one managed a not so happy situation so the children were not the one that bear the highest brunt of the break ups.

The two situations here were narrated by both Mr Thomas and Mama Ajana. Both had failed marriages but today in old age, one is in touch with the children the other, not so much.

Mr Thomas left Nigeria in the 1960s to study in the UK, a few months down the line he started a relationship with a lady at his university – they had a baby girl. Mr Thomas went back to Nigeria after his studies with his Oyinbo girlfriend. The girlfriend was not approved by the family and had to leave after one week. Mr Thomas came back to the UK to work but did not keep in touch with the mother of his daughter. In the late 1980’s Mr Thomas relocated to Nigeria permanently. During this time his ex girlfriend sent photos and news about their daughter to Mr Thomas and when the said daughter wanted to get married, she informed Mr Thomas about all the arrangements but Mr Thomas did not attend. Now the daughter has long relocated to Canada – that much Mr Thomas knows.

Mr Thomas is 76 years old now he told this story when I asked if today he would do certain things differently from what he had done in the past- he wished he kept in contact with his daughter. But you can do that now, you can search for her, we just put words out, I suggested but he does not want to look for his daughter as he fears it has been too long and that she may have written him off.

Mama Ajana’s story is very similar to the Mr Thomas’  however the approach in keeping in touch with the children was different.

Mama Ajana’s  marriage broke down when their two children were 7 and nine years old. Her ex relocated back to Nigeria from the UK and prevented Mama Ajana from seeing the children. Mama Ajana recounted that for several years she didn’t know where the children were as the ex did not go back to their old home in Sokoto. By sheer luck she says she managed to locate the children when they were in their teenage years. She did not seek any legal help as ex remained in Nigeria.

However, Mama Ajana joy shows all over her as she revealed that since she found the children, she kept in touch with them and gets updates about their schooling. Now, it is even better as they are grown and independent. Mama Ajana spent quality time with her children today, and in her old age feels she is glad to have managed to build a bridge – can’t be easy I bet.

Maid from hell

A few years ago, a lady asked if her potential new boss could contact me for a reference. Mr Ade, when he called wanted to hire Blessing as a maid, Blessing would be required to look after two children under five, expected to do some house keeping duties as well.

I told Mr Ade all that I knew about Blessing – being an Edo woman who has a son of her own, she is hard-working and cares about her own family. I have known Blessing for a couple of years at the time, she worked as a house keeper for a friend in Victoria Island, Lagos. She is honest.

I could hear Mr Ade’s excitement from the other end that he has finally found a good woman to look after his children. In the end I added that he must do his own personal fact-finding about Blessing because her new role is completely different from the role I knew her from. Working for a single man who is barely home is different from looking after two toddlers.

Two sides to one story:

A resent case of Jolly Tumuhiirwe, a 22-year-old Ugandan maid is a very sad one, however not new. Jolly, was caught on hidden camera torturing the poor toddler in her care. I have over the years heard several horror stories of maids torturing children in their care as well as maids being tortured by their bosses. This one is especially very sad, Jolly’s wickedness towards Aneela is inhumane.

Sometimes when a maid is this sad like Jolly has displayed in the video below, it is not unusual to learn she is being paid next to nothing for the care she provides for the family. She is home all day, her life revolves around looking after a child or two. They barely have any break, and seldom allowed to visit their family in the village. I am not excusing Jolly’s attitude in any way, what she did was horrific and must be punished for it but I always wondered if parents who thought they had a good ‘deal’ with a maid ever thought how important it is that the maid has a break as well as being paid well, going rate at least.

Kamanzi, the toddler’s father did what any loving father would be tempted to do after watching the horror clip – he came down on Jolly a little too hard – Jolly now in a wheelchair from so much beating.

Now this is what we have – Aneela, the toddler in hospital seriously unwell and Jolly, the maid from hell also fighting for her life and on top waiting for her sentence for the offence committed.

Disclaimer: This is a very distressing video clip, only 1.58mins long but took me four attempts to finish, but it is worth seeing.

 

 

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Updates:

– I am happy to report that Aneela is well and in her father’s arms.

– Uganda civil right lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi is willing to defend Jolly. This I am happy about because in the process, Jolly has to be completely honest with her lawyer. Maid abusing children in care is too common to just punish the maid without thorough investigation.

– Another interesting perspective to this horrific event.

Abortion in Nigeria

Folakemi

A few months ago, a cousin called to share a story about her roommate at university to see if I could be of any help. Her roommate just had an abortion, very ill and bleeding more than you would for a normal period. Julie wanted to know what she could do to help. The only proof that Julie had was the pills that Tola had taken, a brief online search revealed it was meant for abortion.

I thought the best way was to be nice to Julie and try to see if she could to go home to her parents or to go to the hospital in town. Julie did all that she could, they were closer than they ever had been. Tola did eventually go to the hospital, she felt better later on. Did I mention that Tola was 18 years old and a born again Christian? She goes to a Pentecostal church, the…

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Remi Fani-Kayode – When telling the truth means betrayal

I have always wondered about the opinion of the elders of the past and how they dealt with the local crisis. I want to know if there were any significant differences in the way that the educated elders and the illiterates of the past handled disputes around social issues that we still struggle with today.

I appreciate whenever I am lucky enough to be in the company of elders that witnessed some of the events of the past first hand and did their own documentation of it so generation to come could have something to reference.

The event of the early 1950s when Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode returned to Nigeria from Britain that caught my interest. Being born and raised in Britain, I wanted to know how he felt about Ile-Ife adamant on letting go of 300 years *Isakole imposed on Modakeke. This was during the time of Oba Adesoji Aderemi, whereby there were relative peace however, there were numbers of local Senior Chiefs at the time who grew up on being fed on the hard work of others, the elders were harder to please however, Oba Aderemi managed his ruling years with grace as he knew better.

In 1954 Chief Fani-Kayode got involved in politics to represented Action Group in Ile Ife. It was during this time that the Chief was able to see first hand the injustice going on underground between Ile-Ife and Modakeke. This was alien to him and could foresee future with no meaningful development in Ife if the mentality towards their close neighbours did not change.

Chief Fani-Kayode education both at King’s College, Lagos and his law degree from Cambridge University was not lost on him. As a young black man studying in Cambridge during his time, he must have spent considerable amount of time learning a lot about himself, country and humanity in general. Chief refused to be content with what was going on underground of Ile-Ife.

Chief’s political campaign was well received  in his town however, he met heavy resistance from the rigid-minded elders. Modakeke at the time appreciated Fani-Kayode’s honesty so they rally round him. It was because of the chief’s insistent that no one should pay Isakole as it was not only unlawful but also outdated that lead to AG in Ile-Ife to split into two – Erin and the youths groups. Erin being the elders group. Youths from both Ife and Modakeke were his major political supporters.

How could any Nigerian grew up in Britain of the 1920s, studied and being active part of Nigeria readiness for independence be ever content with injustice in his own small town? This was difficult for the chief because he knew better and stuck to his gun.

Ile-Ife chief branded him as a betrayal for the ideals and did not vote for him as AG leader in the 1959 general election.

Story like this refreshes my faith in my elders that after all we have many in the past that remain on the side of justice even when their career suffered as a result.

Sixty years on after Chief Fani-Kayode made it clear that collection of isakole has no place in modern time, that with this mindset, neither Ife nor Modakeke will move forward in a meaning way – Modakeke no longer pays isakole that came about through plenty of blood shedding, however, land grabbing goes on underground by the great ground children of those that believed 300 years lease must continue, this was led by Oba Okunade Sijuade when he was crowned on December 06 1980.

Perpetual killings because of land grabbing goes on underground till today.

 

*Isakole is a form of lease imposed on Modakeke from Ile-Ife for being on the land. This started more than 300 years ago and some people still want the lease with the same condition to continue today.

Black women skin bleaching – to what end?

Just read a bit about Snail White, a popular bleaching cream in Asia – Interesting to know that not only blacks are brain washed about wanting to look white.

Folakemi

Skin bleaching or skin toning as some people prefer to call it has been around in Nigeria for a long time. In the ’70s Satina Skin Tone Cream was quite popular among the youths as the “thing” to do for a lovely skin complexion. I have known for a long time now that one main reason we have people peeling off their skins to be lighter than their original skin tone is lack of self-love. Most of what we were made to belief about what skin bleaching or toning would do to self-confidence only exists in the head.

Photo Credits: TJ Bello @ Nigeria Nostalgia Project Photo Credits: TJ Bello @ Nigeria Nostalgia Project

Black women bleaching their skin to oblivion always makes headlines on newspapers not because it’s any positive news but because it shows how insecure the person under the skin was. Oftentimes, this is triggered by the fact that the society tend to equate light-skinned shades…

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Girls circumcision in Nigeria – Who are the 10 – 25%?

Folakemi

There has being a huge drive in many UK African communities in recent years, putting shame aside and telling their stories of the scars left on them by female genital mutilation (FGM). The pains were real and memories raw for all of the women especially those who went through the extreme form of FGM. Good news is that while we Africans live in denial and didn’t see what the fuss was, UK government got involved and fully support the campaign. From next month, University College London is opening a clinic to provide both Psychological and medical treatments for the FGM victims.

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Afusat Saliu, a Nigerian seeking asylum after her visitor’s visa expired begged not to be deported from the UK on the basis that she feared her two daughters will be forced to undergo FGM in Nigeria. She lost her case and was deported in June this year.

Many online commentators especially Nigerians were not empathetic towards Afusat, saying her…

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