Stomach leaping for joy

We were five girls – except for Mama T, our parents weren’t home so when Mama T’s mother says, ‘come in for a drink of water, you girls must be thirsty’ usually we obliged and sometimes, we stay ’till evening doing homework or just playing about.

Decade passed that we have seen each other, but  years ago, a few of old friends met talking, so from there Mama T came up so I thought I must get in touch – too much of sweet memories to end just like that.

Thank goodness for the mobile phone, my text message was responded to within seconds with the first line:

“Ore mi atata, (my dear friend) infact my stomach leapt for joy when I saw your message.”  – The message and the use of words was just perfect.

Stomach leaping for joy? I teased Mama T on the phone, we were both excited to reconnect.

“Have you forgotten” Mama T asked. “No, I did not” I responded. Regardless, I really just want to hear your voice, keep talking and I will listen to every word” I pleaded.

That was January 5th 2013.

Subsequent communications were by text messages, which was just fine.

Friends worry endlessly how Mama T was coping losing hearing as an adult but instead of wallowing in what she had and lost, she adopted a positive attitude – not too surprising given she had the most  joyous stomach ever.

——–

I had missed Auntie Toyin’s call, I made a few mental suggestions of what her call might be about. To say hello?  So I returned the call as she was the sweetest Auntie I never had.

Auntie Toyin kept the news for a whole week before she decided to inform your childhood friends – it must have been really difficult given you were like her first child.

She had no strength left to cry.

“I am sorry” I had to plead to Auntie Toyin “But, How?”

“Please don’t say death, I know that but how did it all happen?”

I knew that piece of information would help with me making peace with the fact that I will never see you again, that the belly laugh you were known for was gone.

Mama T, you’d be happy to know your family loved you even in death –  Auntie told me, she put all the cultural restrictions aside, she was not a forensic expert or anything, but she was there to give you the last bath, she said she checked every inch of your body just to be sure there was no foul play involved – no obvious bruise, you looked beautiful as ever.

Your husband was devastated, your neighbours and church members were all there to pay their last respect – I smile amidst tears when Auntie Toyin said this – I knew you would have won them over with your warmth.

You have been well as far as anyone around you could tell, you prepared moinmoin that your family ate as dinner. On your way back from the bathroom, you made some sound, uncomfortable one, before anyone could get to you Mama T, you were on the floor – And that was it.

You left us all, at 41.

“Could it be cardiac arrest?” I asked –  Auntie Toyin had the same thoughts, so she agreed. I am sure you’ll be smiling now knowing witches would not be blamed for your untimely passing.

Those typical Nigeria new month message full of prayers and the GBUs (God Bless You) signature will be sorely missed and many more sweet memories of the younger years.

I’ll miss you Mama T.

Boko Haram, the novel

Boko Haram is a work of fiction by Yas Niger.

Boko HaramBoko Haram was set in the northern city of Nigeria. It started with a controversial mosque in the middle of the road. Apart from the obvious annoyance the structure has caused the growing population of this once peaceful city, also there is a serious concern about the haphazard manner in which mosque was constructed – thirty seven auto accidents up to date had been recorded, some of which were fatal. The reluctance to do something about the mosque remained heated debates among the local residents of multi faiths and the worshipers at the mosque.

Uma, a well-off Western educated Muslim who has undergone Jihadist training in Mali walked into the local Imam’s life as an innocent devout – he was trusted right away given his calm and respectful attitude. He gained the hearts of the local people and offered to sleep in the mosque to relief Imam of some of the religious duties.

Aisha represents the new generation of Nigerian Muslim women, a university student who found herself at home for a prolonged time due to the industrial strike action by the Nigerian university lecturers. She is a hijab wearing devout with strong belief in Islamic values and teachings, however, she believed herself to be a person that is capable of contributing to the society in equal measure as men.

Meeting Uma was like a godsend to Aisha, she was mesmerised by Uma’s intelligence and reasons. She loved a Muslim man with liberal views of the world – so she thought.

Uma, during his time in his adopted city lived mostly in disguise. Overtime, his extremist views became transpired especially during conversations with many educated folks around him. He has made it clear on many occasions to Samson, a PhD Egyptian whom he befriended that nothing in Islamic needed to be amended, that the 7th century rules must still be applied in all ways.

Uma in the end found himself extremely frustrated with everything and everyone, he could no longer stand anyone with a slightly different views from himself on social and religious issues. Anyone who disagrees with his extremist views deserved to be taking out and this included his crush – Aisha, because she has in one occasion said there are a few things that needed to be amended so Islamic could fit in well with modern time, here Aisha was referring to gender inequalities in Islam that presents women as subordinate – this was her offence and to Uma’s mind she deserved to die as she was not Muslim enough.

Boko Haram, though a very serious subject in Nigeria and indeed the world today, is an easy to ready book, entertaining and provides unbiased views of the state of religion influence in the life of Nigerians. It can be difficult reading Nigerian authors without feeling uncomfortable with religious imposition, Boko Haram is an exception to this as throughout, both Christians and Muslims were presented in objective manners leaving readers to read, enjoy and drawing their conclusions.

Available from OkadaBooks  and Amazon 

African illegal immigrants – life in limbo

Illegal immigrants dying at sea is one of many devastating endings of African illegal immigrants to the green pastures. Some would enter into the country of their dreams where it is impossible to change minds before their misery begins.

Whose job is it to stop this inhumane treatment of immigrants? Whose job is it to tell both sides of the story? Undoubtedly, many do survive through migration ordeal, but for one person that made it, how many hundreds were wasted, at sea, at detention centres?

How about if Africans did its part by never to be part of a family member entering illegally – fewer people to throw hate words at on the street.

The subject of illegal immigrant is a tough subject which we all especially Nigerians try hard to avoid talking about – is just sad.

Sometimes, the type of risks that my people take is incredible nerve-racking because when it didn’t go according to plan, too much is at stake.

I got to know Sade in early 2000, she is kind and hardworking just as many Nigerians in the small American city. She came to the US with her husband and both worked hard for everything they had. She had a decent salaried job at a US Bank and on the side she had an African grocery shop, and on top had another website design project – she worked round the clock and had a very big American-style home. Husband was a university professor – All was well.

The couple is the type of Nigerians one wants to associate with as plenty to emulate from their lives, I would stop by her shop sometimes twice a week mostly just to speak Yoruba and to laugh, I have more recent jokes and she fed me with the old ones.

I once had to visit the Immigration Centre to renew my work permit as you were allowed another year or so after studies to work legally in the country. Waiting about to get my work permit card, I noticed some banging upstairs and incoherent noises, the lady beside me said not to worry, those guys were illegal immigrants waiting for verdicts.

Uhmn, was my response. All in the name of Coming to America.

Rachel was Sade’s niece, the kind of niece who loved their big Auntie who lives in the west and tend to believe every word without much questioning.

Sade said to me that she is bringing her niece over to help with the shop, while she focused on the website design project as evening and weekend hubby. Her husband thought the route she was going to take was a very bad idea and that he would not be any part of it.

Rachel was 17 years old and was promised of going to university in America. She did not question any of the processes she was handed to memorise – Auntie knows best.

At the airport thousands of miles away from her Abeokuta home, just five minutes stepping on to the Land of Opportunity – which America is truly is, only that for Rachel it wasn’t – she was put amongst hundreds of people just like her in an immigration prison.

It was a while before I knew what went wrong. I did once visit a lawyer with Sade – all I heard in the meeting was fee negotiations – obscene amount of money to get Rachel out of immigration prison – A young Christian girl who has never been stopped by police before, who failed miserably to recite lies – that sad.

Rachel would have started a decent business with $10k in Nigeria and would for the rest of her life be grateful to Sade or use the same amount to pay her tuition for a state/federal university for four years – hindsight…

In the end, Rachel was moved from one immigration prison to another – never saw America she dreamt of. She was returned home after two years of gruelling fight.

America and other western countries are Heaven for many Africans – literally. However, it is only worth it if one enters legally, there would still be challenges but it will be all worth it.

In this video 2:29 shows Nigerians in Italy. 23:57 shows the life lived in regrets.

Butterfly effect and Nigeria education system

What has Butterfly Effect got to do with Nigeria school system abysmal condition?

It all started from the early 1980s, most schools around were government-funded schools and teachers were for the most part of reasonable quality.

Admittedly, federal government is not solely responsible for the failure in the education sector – however, they failed to put strict monitoring system in place to be sure every child should matter. Also to maintain those at decision-making offices are sensitive to local needs.

My niece had all along had thought her mother did not finish secondary school because my family was poor and on top of that her mother can’t cope with academic rigour.

“Whoa, that’s what you thought happened?” I spoke through fits of giggles.

My sister had underestimated how much children make up stories to draw conclusions that make sense for them if adults around failed to share past experiences in a simple way to enlighten.

No, your mother did not stop going to school because my parents were poor. Remember, most people are poor but one thing that people in the south takes great efforts to achieve was education and this is very common with people in the villages and small towns.

Your mother, I explained to my niece, stopped going because in early 80s government decided that educating the masses was not that much important so they stopped funding schools at all levels – giving selected few scholarships to study abroad.

No concern to what happens to local schools, so everyone at all levels of authority did as pleased – social welfare of ordinary citizens amount to little.

Well, it backfired, as it is evidenced today that educating everyone to a quality primary school turned out to be much more important to a successful nation than sponsoring a few thousands to study oversees.

It was 1984, Jibola was looking forward to leaving primary school behind. In my mother’s dream – Jibola was to become a nurse – Moomi had a nurse friend and loved the uniform.

Jibola was given admission to Iyekere Commercial Grammar School, Ile Ife (under new name now) No Modakeke indigene in their right mind would send their child to a school in Ile-Ife because we were at war with each other.

1984 was superficially calm because It was a military regime – uniformed men about town from the north – they don’t speak local language, worked under strict instructions – you cause trouble, they kill, ‘Kill and Go’ they’re called –  also we were under curfew.

Oba Sijuade feared Military regime so kept it all under wrap but perpetual killings still went on underground – everybody knows this including children like myself.

My sister’s school was state-funded, this makes no difference to the average person on the street but what it means in reality was that Jibola had to supply her own locker and a chair to take to school because the school is basically a shell.

Preferential treatment even for entering government-funded schools, thousands of school children even locally didn’t have to do this but Jibola had to.

“Ask your mother to show you the two gold bracelets she has,”  I told my niece. They were the only leftovers from our mother’s wedding jewellery – Jibola hid them away insisting mother should not sell them to the Mallam (neighbourhood Hausa gold dealer).

Your mother had all her text books, notebooks, pens, tuition and developmental fund paid.

Jibola was determined to face the challenge. Every morning she’d walk about two miles to school, the walk was never the problem but each time she crosses to the other side, she’d panicked holding her breath – never felt completely safe.

It was someone’s job to make sure school allocation is sensitive to the local people’s needs – whoever was in charge underplayed how constant anxieties could easily kill motivation in school children.

“Moomi is going to kill you when she gets home” I told Jibola when I saw her coming home with locker and chair to signal she has had enough.

“Daddy, is home, he’ll protect me” She replied, not very sure but knew she is tired of that school.

My mother was defeated, her dream of a nurse daughter dashed away, she didn’t make any fuss – she saw it coming, only trying too hard to see how far Jibola could go.

My niece has been quiet for a while, I could see her renew appreciation for her mother but being a young woman, she could not help but broke down…

“Oh please, don’t get teary eye on me” I said to my super sensitive 23 year old niece. “Time to start working on Dreams from my Mother, that’ll worth all the tears.”

Oh, least I forget “Your mother’s school shoes was my mother’s 1961 wedding shoes” – Now that’s the whole truth Omo Iya.

Using secular nature of Nigeria constitution as the weapon to fight Boko Haram

Prof. Soyinka is one of the very few Nigerians of his age around today that does not disappoint. He is not shy away from telling the simple truth just as is.

Inspiring to see an elder whose idea of a peaceful nation goes beyond regions knowing we are all in it together and we must collectively deal with the elephant in the room.

Hope those insisted this is northern Nigeria was can see WS points, especially in relation to the forth coming election.

Nigeria: When gender inequality goes beyond the surface of skin tone

Prejudice is damaging – it kills motivation and self-esteem. Children especially are likely to believe it is true so end up living their lives creating walls around themselves when they realised stereotypes ingrained at home is manifested in the society at large.

My old guy was excited as he just returned from the village to collect his yearly palm oil from Mama Monday, although palm oil from my father’s farm is no different from any random one bought from the market but there is a little sentiment attached to.

“That woman is hard-working, dependable and always sticks to agreement” My father talked fondly of Mama Monday.

Then my father went on about this woman and how she spent most of the time in the farm going from one chore to the other and how she is a fantastic mother because her children were at school.

So I said “Is Mama Monday like Iya Dele from where we used to live long ago?”

“O ti gba tan!” – “On point!”, my father enthused.

Iya Dele, like Mama Monday is an Igbo woman who was our neighbour in the 80s. She has a vegetable farm (akuro). As it’s the custom for many Igbos in the area, both of their husbands were palm wine tapper (ademu) which means their work is seasonal so are around a lot during the day.

There is a stereotype of Igbo men being drunk, this is where that came from, well from my observations.

Now, I am getting clearer picture of what I have been thinking about for quite some time – Gender inequality in Nigeria affects every woman in the land, however, breaking it down, people are always quick to single out Yoruba and Igbo women for comparison.

Even when both have the same education, exposure and material wealth – for some reason, igbo women are seen to be better in everything – they are stronger, more fashionable, cleaner, more beautiful and ha! more romantic so make better lover.

How true is this, and how much of it has just been as a result of repeated stereotypes based on false claims?

My old guy just spent a few minutes describing all women that I have grown to know. Most women in my village are in the farm all day while their men often in time return to the village for news and lunch.

So Yoruba women have similar workload and no credits for it from their men, why?

So when a friend who is a Yoruba but has lived in a few continents given father’s job read some very skewed views on Yoruba women when compared to their Igbo counterparts – he wanted to know if that was true as he’s been away from home for long and he was sure none of the attributes were true of his mother.

“It’s all stereotypes that has got out of hand.” And from what I have learnt, they were propagated my men – Yoruba men not for anything else but for their ego.

It is complicated but unless we can go to the root of all this, many more women especially Yoruba will waste their lives chasing shadows just so they can feel more accepted by their men.

US is a very good example on this, everyone knows it is a false notion that the fairer skinned you are, the brighter or more beautiful one is but yet fair-skinned folks get more attention for just about anything than their dark-skinned sisters – it’s damaging – time for Nigeria to get hands on Dark GirlsOr our own Nollywood version of the same to raise awareness?

The reason for the fairer skin for many Igbos isn’t a rocket science given the presence of the European explorers in the early days.

If our history – the true ones were taught in schools from primary level, stereotypes like this would have been put to rest long ago.

Tradition of Ada in Igbo land can not be ruled out as a contributing factor that has empowered women in that region, this is evidenced from the lifestyle.

It starts from fairer skin tone of a region, and from there it gets way out of hand. And instead of women uniting to fight gender inequality together, already there is a bias within the same gender group – women allowing themselves to be put against one another making less to none progress on the real battle – closing the gap of gender inequality.

Like many of our challenges, unless we can see Yoruba vs Igbo women from the perspectives of those that bear the brunt of the unfounded attributes – we will continue to glorify the stereotypes.

Giving back to parents: Health Vs. Funeral

Funeral is an important ritual in Nigeria – it is our way of honouring the dead. Our funeral ceremony can be elaborate as is also a way of catching up with families given people from far and wide come to pay their last respect to the beloved family member.

When I was growing up, I learnt that funeral is mandatory in a quiet way that everyone feels the sense of obligation not just for the burial but ceremony that involves shedding of  ‘blood’ usually cow’s.

The reasoning leading up to death becomes irrelevant in most of these cases.

Aisan laa wo, enikan kii w’oku – We treat disease not death.

This Yoruba proverb is an emphasis on the fact that traditionally family do make great efforts to look after the sick.

Something has been lost along the line somewhere that we no longer care as much as we used to. Today, family and friends would volunteer to lend money for all that you ever wanted so as to have the biggest party in town after the passing of a family member but very few are willing to financially help when it comes to getting proper diagnosis of illness let alone hospital bill for the same person.

A few years ago, a cousin called from the local teaching hospital mortuary to say he was on his way to taking his mother for the final burial and in preparation for the ceremony the next day – he was excited that  he’s able to afford ambulance with siren (emphasis on the latter) so everyone in town knows the day his mother was buried.

I was excited for him.

Then he said his mother can now rest in peace with no pain. “Rest in peace, she would but no doubt looking down now shedding bloody tears on you.” I added.

Everything is a curse in Yorubaland, cousin flipped and thought I was cursing. I apologised but told him his mother was one of the strongest women I have ever met, raised 3 boys and 3 girls with father who passed on when the last child was only in his teen.

All of the children had at least primary school education and those who didn’t went for apprentice of one form or the other.

When I was young, Mama was taken from her village to live with the children in town. All was well initially as plenty of grandchildren around – common practice to take parents away from the village in my area especially if they were alone as a way of helping.

A lady who was used to running about found herself with little to do. She coped well going for lots of church activities and markets – selling a few items to keep body and mind healthy.

Not so far from this time, Mama developed diabetes. I didn’t know anything about diabetes at the time but there was a talk of polyuria, as Mama urinated more frequently than it’s normal for her. We had a trusted local doctor who prescribed some medication – Mama got better – a bit.

We have gotten better with getting proper diagnosis when one is sick however, there is a lack of understanding of the length it takes to heal properly from any illness and reality of what might be lifetime treatment especially for diabetes patients.

The house that once filled with grandchildren are now replaced with tenants, three grown children moved away to their own homes with their family, all living in the same town within 3 mile radius to Mama.

Prior to her death she hasn’t been to church for about a year – that is a big deal for Christian woman, she was too weak and yet more prayers and not hospital visit.

————–

“She was younger than my first child!” My father said of Mama Toyin. Mama Toyin is 52, but got married very early as my father and his mates liked to joke about how young Mama Toyin was when she married Baba Toyin. “Was she sick?” I asked my father. “Yes, for a while now”,  “Same thing that killed Mama Eleja?” I asked – untreated high blood pressure and complications from diabetes.

“When is the funeral?” Next month, they were deliberating on the number of maalu (cows) now, Samuel, the eldest son has a good job in Abuja.

Enjoy, daddy. Say hello to Moomi.

Two strangers: Who would you trust your teenage girl with?

A priest and a school teacher both are not known in personal capacity with the family – who to trust with a fifteen year old girl for an overnight trip?

My 15 years old niece was excited about her upcoming trip to Lagos, it will be her first time on her own with no family, she was going from the church to an event whereby selected members meet to see who could recite bible verses the most.

“Fantastic” I told her. So I asked “how many of you are going from your church”, “Just me” she replied.

She must be very good at cramming, I did my part of commending her efforts, I used to be like that so great to be part of something.

I only started getting concerned when Sola said she was the only one going from my town and this is the church with at least a hundred branches, she is going with a 35-year-old church evangelist, he is a nice man, has a family. Sola and the evangelist will be in Lagos for two nights then return home the third day.

Really?

Sighed and said polite goodbye wondering if Sola realised how ridiculous the whole trip sounded.

God, why do I have to be told about this trip, it has nothing to do with me. Sola did not need my approval for the trip, which is a good thing as I was free to share my thoughts – she is under no obligation to listen to me.

Sola lives with her grandparents, Sola’s mother is easy-going and seldom question any decision made about Sola – she trusted my parents’ judgement.

After back and forth talking about Mr Ade, the only reference to trusting this guy was that he was a church goer who earned his living teaching bibles to people. No surprise there.

The only person I was concerned about was my niece.

Sola is a perfect bait – lives with grandparents, stubborn which I admire because one needs to have own mind active in Nigeria otherwise easy to be swept away when the tide is high.

However, she is still a child, she has no idea how manipulative adults can be when they are desperate. I did not question the event but have issue with her going on her own with the guy nobody knew well.

So I told Sola of my friend in secondary school – the talented Rachel – envy of all her mates.  On our valedictory service day, Rachel collected the prizes for all of our subjects. She is known throughout my school as bright.

Sometimes a year or so before we graduated, Rachel’s father who was the sole provider of the family was involved in a fatal auto accident in Lagos, leaving the family shattered. Rachel became very reclusive, so poured all her energies in to her studies, not that she needed to try but this time everyone was trailing behind her academically.

A few months before we graduated, she stopped going to her parents’ church to join a new church everyone was raving about in town that focuses on saving youths from worldly influence.

Apparently, Brother K was sacked from a church where he used to work because he was overwhelmed by the number of secondary school girls needing ‘deliverance’ in my town – his ‘actions’ was putting the church in serious jeopardy.

It was Brother K that took Rachel along with another girl to found a new church. At this time Rachel was 17 years old. Brother K rented a room near my best friend’s house so I heard about late night praying, delivering monsters from the young girls’ minds and bodies.

Long story short, Rachel got pregnant. Drama all over the place mostly among those who wished they had half of Rachel’s brain.

Getting pregnant at 17 need not be the end of one’s ambition, but for Rachel it was. And for most girls in my area, this is the reality.

My mother asked why I was excited for Sola when she was going on a school trip crossing the borders to Accra a year earlier – Well, simple – teachers likely to deviate from doing things that can cost them their jobs, especially those in a good private school.

Teachers for the most part would not be bold enough to request for an overnight trip with a minor because he is sensible, pastor on the other hand will exhaust the trust people have for the church hence Mr Ade made the request thinking being a ‘man of God’ is enough to earn trust.

So I asked my mother, “Jungle justice aside, have you ever seen a ‘man of God’ being punished for any wrong doing by the state, in Nigeria? In her almost eight decades, she could not recall of one instance.

Nigerians to heal Nigeria

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s interview with BBC, Will Ross on the missing USD$20 billion oil revenue in March 2014 would not be too surprising to any Nigerian, well those who have seen enough to realise our challenges run deep and we can not scratch the surface and be expecting miracle transformation as far as corruption goes. At one point during the interview Mrs Iweala got frustrated with Will Ross as it seems her interviewer wanted specifics about how $20 billion waka comot NNPC safe unnoticed, he’s not going to get that and we all knew it – there is oga at the top to be weary of.

4:12 of the BBC video clip 

“… Ross, you are British, are you going to come to Nigeria to fight corruption for us…nobody but us (Nigerians) can clean it up.”

That is true, Nigerians are the ones to heal themselves in all their empty shattered places, the quicker we realise this, the better for us all.

The likes of Mrs Iweala are inspiring – it must be frustrating working with people who are not only unfit for purpose, but also have lost all sense of dignity to care for their reputation as leaders.

Postponement of election for six weeks so President Jonathan could have enough time to fight Boko Haram that he failed to defeat since 2010?

GEJ and his team are scared is all.

Presido has exhausted all the main sensational ministers of ‘God’ in the land and people don’t seem to be bothered much – most backfired.

The one I found most amusing was talking about Buhari’s past human rights abuse records when GEJ of today has nothing to show he is any better. 

So will 6 weeks make any different to election campaign and safety of the people? Absolutely not. Maybe I am too cynical of GEJ administration but I have seen the same desperation at work in Osun state during August gubernatorial election whereby religion was strongly used to the points that neighbours are resenting one another needlessly, this is just because the incumbent governor happened to be a Muslim so we all waited in anticipation to see whom GEJ would nominate as the opponent.

Then GEJ in his capacity gave us this man – below! The man who despite all his paper qualifications from different universities from around the world learned only one thing that being close to grassroots is synonymous to a lone road side corn eater. Thank goodness he lost the election.

I hope Senator, Dr. Omisore would be nearby to provide support for his Oga at the top – fingers crossed.

From web
From web

Making sense of 70% of rural Nigeria

Positive change need not be expensive nor drastic. How about small gradual solutions all around?

Tweaking perception the seventy percent Nigerians living in rural areas could be all it takes to effect positive change that will be felt by all.

Agbopa Village, Ibadan
Agbopa Village, Ibadan

I took the above photo a while ago during a visit to Agbopa, a village in the outskirt of Ibadan. As a fellow villager, this photo is not out-of-place, I only turned my attention to the woman when I realised she has been standing on the same spot for about two minutes chatting happily with her friend – she was on her way to ẹkù (a designated place for palm oil processing).

The woman above could have been from any of our villages in the south where daily activities revolves around farm work. Most people work day in day out but very little to show for it.

Most of the village folks especially in the south tend to have a few common aspirations educating their children is usually at the top of the list, this is after primary needs have been taken care of.

Getting insight to the state of Nigeria today need not be tedious. There are lots of document produced by lots of trusted organisations i.e UN on the state of Nigeria rural areas. Some of these documents were very thorough, highlighting lifestyle challenges of the seventy percent Nigerians in rural areas.

If we can afford to spend so much money on data collection, why aren’t we implementing recommendation, especially when it need not be expensive?

In the last few years, lots of focus groups and plenty of conferences held by several government bodies, most of which have glamorous themes – paid VIPs and speakers invited to give endless talks on how to improve our country on all fronts.

At the end of these meetings, one thing that I have noticed is preparation for yet another talk/conference when little/nothing is done with the outcome of the previous gatherings, so it feels like endless cycle of Owambe. 

How to best help pull along Nigeria seventy percent?

Repair school buildings so family can stay together in one place –  Not too  surprising the seventy percent especially in the south understood the benefit of education and would go the extra mile so their children could have what the parents lacked.

According to the UN, Nigeria as it stands today is only using half of its estimated 71 million hectares of land suitable for growing crops – great asset left untapped.

One of the key contributing factors to the endless civil unrest in Nigeria is fight over land ownership especially farmlands. Population growth means more people depending on the same piece of land for survival given one group exercising superiority over the other – hence tension and needless loss of lives.

Why are we not opening up more new areas for people even if the government have to foot the bill for the initial clearing of the land?

Well, no single answer to solve our many problems or to help seventy percent of Nigerians living in rural areas but what I know to be true is that we need to change the way we perceive villagers and help where it’s most needed – revamp existing village schools is a very good place to start.

FGM: Clay and herbs

“Clay and herbs shoved inside before being sewn up?” Confused, so I asked, “What’s the purpose of that?”

“To help with healing process.” Lizzy replied.

The use of clay for medicinal purposes is well documented but if one has to live with clay ‘up there’ for years – unbelievable.

A few years ago a friend came to Lizzy to ask for professional advice as she was getting ready to marry. Lizzy was amazed to learn her friend was mutilated years ago and also that she has a clay to be removed before her big day. Traditionally in Lizzy’s friend part of Senegal, herbs and clay were inserted after mutilation to help with healing process, then the area sewn back leaving enough room for urine and period.

Like Senegal, Nigeria is very diverse, lots of traditions are only known within the tribe folks.

Up until I was 18 years old, I only knew of Type I form of circumcision, I had assumed, this was the only type across the country, usually performed when the girl is days old so no real memory of the event. This was until I witnessed Tanwa being mutilated at 10, later learned that was the custom for her part of Yorubaland and it’s done just before puberty. Tanwa’s  story here

Incredible seeing many women who have been through the worse form of FGM coming out to share their stories in order to raise awareness especially those women who had to be reopen for marriage and for child births.

2:30 of the above UN video sums religious influence across Africa today. While FGM has been illegal since 2009 in Senegal, local people listen to their Imam who by the way has all his body parts intact using Islam as an excuse for FGM.

It didn’t take too long to convince a grandma of the harmful practice that is FGM – she has seen it all and perhaps just happy that the truth is now in the open in 3:5.

Given the diverse ethnic group in Nigeria, it was not too surprising that infibulation is practiced in the north especially among the Fulani and again using the same religious excuse.

Here I come again with Nigeria church with Mission House attached, the need to be involved in raising awareness on this important cause is high given many people seek approval from their religious leaders on issues. A child died in my town a few years ago at the church during circumcision performed by the Mission Mother against the father’s wish. 

Dr Momoh’s speech at FGM event was inspiring but I was left with another puzzling question regarding the list of other forms of child abuse facing girls in Africa which were primarily driven by ignorance.

So I turned to sideways to Lizzy, “Breast ironing?”  In Cameroon – this is done by mothers as a way to delay puberty so their girls don’t sleep around? 

So help me God.

Sex tape craze and the toasted genitals

My November blogpost on a Nigerian in Uganda who leaked naked photos of his ex as a revenge for going out with another guy attracted quite some reactions given my humble blog. Here

My stance at the time was that Patrick probably lost his girlfriend to another man who is smart enough to appreciate the moment.

So last month a similar incidence happened in South Africa. A twenty-five year old man had relationship with a 17 years old school girl. Unsuspecting teenager did all while the guy recorded all the acts using his laptop.

Humphrey Khoza denied putting the video online. How did it get to the open?

So the teenage girl’s reaction was to turn to jungle justice knowing she would be mocked than receiving any pity let alone justice. So got her hands on battery acid, poured it on Humphrey genital area, leaving him with needing surgery, if only to urinate henceforth.

Extreme you say? The girl is 17 years old.

Sexual violence is rife in South Africa, with ‘jackrolling’ (gang rape) seen as fun activity to many young male.

Even with roasted genitals which is an awful thing to happen to anyone, Humphrey refused to prosecute the teenage girl as that would do nothing to the indelible scar.

I feel sorry for both of them. The teenage girl, prosecuted or not will have to live with the regret of the harsh reaction to her dignity that was dragged in the mud.

Humphrey will have to deal with the fact that, although he has been scarred permanently – he did this to himself.

Even with digital age and hype of social media, relationships are meant for humans not camcorders.

How I hope that when we, Africans copy ‘trends’ from the west, we can focus on plenty of positive things to emulate and not the ones that we have no law enforcement to help us with.