Becoming royalty

So a little birdy told me about Emir of Kano’s 18 year old new bride – not too bad, its only 36 years old age difference.

My people argue tirelessly on whether or not 18 years lady is old enough to make decision on marriage especially a royal bride where one’s life is pre determined.

I know getting out of secondary school at 18, the last thing on my mind was to be someone’s wife, let alone ‘baba ban gbesi’ Well, that was me.

I also know that when Kate and William got married a few years ago, the reason they were able to change history of British royal succession was because they were both adults who knew the damaging impacts of gender inequality in society, because of decision they made before having children, now their daughter Princess Charlotte will be a Queen before Prince Harry had chance to the crown.

I hear my people saying, that was the British. We are Nigerians and different – yea, of course we are!

18 years old who has spent all her years being catered for have no idea what she is entering to so very likely to nod her way into many things that are not in her best interest

I heard Emir’s decision to take on a 4th wife is in line with his Islamic faith – all good, I can also hear my royal families in the south saying their decision is because of tradition – yeah right.

Oh well, one of Oba Okunade Sijuade’s three surviving wives is in her 40’s, and according to the tradition she is not allowed to re marry, however she can be ‘inherited’ by the new Ooni (this is if all the ruling houses ever agree and choose one person).

My all time favourite Yoruba royal father with a swagger is Alaafin – likely that the age difference between the new wife and the king is well over 40, the king turning 77 in October and word on the street was that the young woman was 17 at the time of marriage last year.

Unlike many of our royal families, Alaafin carries all his wives whereever he goes with the attitude of ‘let them say‘. Here he was enjoying the British chill, in front of Buckingham Palace, perhaps waiting to see the Changing of the Guards – if that wasn’t fun, what is?

Now back to the Emir of Kano – Something that keeps coming to my mind – if this is about keeping in line with the faith, why not marry one of the divorcees that we all know are plentiful in Kano? Less than 2 years ago over a thousand women were married off  in a state sponsored mass wedding – just saying.

Now I wonder how the Emir who is educated and has been preaching importance of education since his coronation going to keep up with this important message given his recent nuptial.

 

Osun river, Osogbo

This is an interesting documentary of Osun Osogbo festival,  inspiring to see a local festival presented in a positive light.

My favourite spot of Osun river is on the bridge, where one can see the river flowing effortlessly with no end in sight. I think it’s a wonderful thing to have this site preserved for generations. I have only visited The Grove outside of Osun Osogbo festival and each time I always thought only if we could respect all of our rivers like Osun, then there will be no more Omiyale (flooding).

I agree with Mrs Diedre Badejo on the calmness of Osun river. Here in 13 – 15

I find traditional religion interesting especially that it’s often about stories of ancestors. This is one of the reasons I don’t understand why anyone would get out of their way attacking one thing that celebrates the richness of shared language and culture as displayed in 38:09.

Where fruit of the womb has a price tag

Same story different offenders.

The story of Ayangbiles is one of the dozens that I have read this year. The couple got married in 2009, had fertility issues, pay some guy to get them a baby. Tale such as this is common that it has become another ‘negative’ story that people automatically tuned out of.

Ayangbiles, in their quest to seek for help with their fertility problems met a traditional doctor in 2013 who then became the family’s Fertility Specialist Consultant and friend.

Idiat Babatunde, a Polytechnic student had a baby she was unable to care for, when she had to return to school, she gave days old baby to Mr Onalaja, the traditional doctor to look after the newborn on her behalf.

The father of the child and the mother were not on speaking term.

Mr Onalaja contacted his friends, the desperate couple – money exchanged hands,  Ayangbile’s became ‘proud parents’ of days old baby boy.

Going rate for newborn in Nigeria is around 300k naira.

Ayangbiles’ joy was short-lived when their landlord who knew the couple had no child saw them with a new baby. The landlord alerted the police to investigate the case.

Ayangbiles and the traditional doctor were arrested by the police for interrogation.

Baby boy returned to the mother – likely to sell him out when the dust settles.

Story such as this is very common in Nigeria, almost every week someone is caught stealing a baby from neighbours, hospitals etc for the purpose of selling on to childless couples.

Other times it is baby factory whereby pregnant teenagers are housed and cajoled to  let go of their newborn babies in exchange for cash. Sarah’s story in the video was 2 years ago, since then many more have been uncovered.

Like many social issues in Nigeria, adoption, surrogacy is frowned upon, because of this, couple with fertility issues would rather go through extreme measures to get a child than to speak openly about it and seek for help in a dignified way.

While we have good Samaritans such as Ayangbiles’ landlord who feel compelled to speak out for the sake of the poor child, I don’t see any end to the problem of baby factories in Nigeria.

Each time cases such as this is ousted, either on an individual level such as Ayangbiles or corporate level such as baby factory: we hear about arrests but no follow-up updates to inform citizens.

How is a crime such as this ever going to be reduced when we failed to address the  cause of why children are treated like merchandise?

Undercover investigation and Nigeria fake doctors

I first learnt of Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his amazing work as a Ghanian investigative journalist last year. His Tedtalk ‘How I named, shamed and jailed’  has plenty of stories that most people from West African can relate to. 

Checking briefly to see if Anas Aremeyaw Anas has done any work in Nigeria as I knew too well that we have a lot more in common than joloff rice. In the clip below is Anas and his team exposing Nigeria fake doctors, as shocking as it seems, sadly it’s the reality for many people both in the city and rural areas.

Many people in rural Nigeria rely heavily on what we called ‘ Sokingbo’ ‘bush doctors’ A lot of these guys are trained nurses with lots of experience, some admittedly are lifesavers – they do their best and would do referrals to hospitals for health issues they don’t fully understand or unable to treat.

Also, as can be seen in the video here, some are just plain criminals whose primary aim was to dupe poor and uninformed patients – many of these guys work in our midst and go undetected for years.

At 13:43 – is Dr Sapele pouncing on the poor patient (undercover journalist) in the name of abdominal examination – the label Quack Doctors fits in perfectly.

It is a situation that I have heard too many times, people being diagnosed of malaria when the problem is something completely unrelated, many times it is too late before the patient and family realise they had falling into the hand of a quack doctor.

Three minutes from 10:00 to 13:43 sums it all up.

 

I hope Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his company goes from strength to strength – I believe dealing with social and moral issues in our society today can only be properly tackled with ordinary folks playing their part.

Whistleblowing for social good

Abeokuta North Nursery and Primary School, Ogun State recently received a well deserved refurbishment, thanks to a kind-hearted Adeola Fayehun for being such a good Naija girl, bringing the obvious to the attention of Ogun State government or whoever is in charge of primary school maintenance.

Judging from the before and after photos in the clip, this is probably the first time this school has seen maintenance since it was founded.

What to do but thank those who saw the call out from Fayehun as opportunity to make amends. Let’s hope the positive trend will continue.

The relevant bit is timestamped at 20:40 and less than 1 minute.

 

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela

Apathy not an option for Nigeria youths

I can’t believe I was just listening to this tedx talk for the first time today, how embarrassing! Better late than never, I suppose.

Fourteen whole minutes and Mrs Sonaiya touches on issues that most Nigerians can relate and even most importantly is encouraging youths’ to make more demands of our leaders.

At 7:09 – she reiterates how youths can not stay been angry or disinterested in lending our voices to issues that affect us all.

Check out the rap at 10.54 – how cool is that to have a Nigerian first female president that is well-informed.

Mrs Remi Sonaiya was a presidential candidate under Kowa Party during the last general elections. Now that presidential election is over, I hope she will continue with her wonderful work so many of us can get to know more of her better.

 

Relative ability and character as keywords for the new Ooni

What is going on with my royal family isn’t anything to write home about. Everyday it gets murkier, it isn’t giving anyone joy.

It has been over a month now since the passing of Oba Okunade Sijuade, yet there is no agreement on which ruling house to present credible princes. If chiefs and princes can not agree on a ruling house, I can not imagine how messy this would get when selecting a single prince amongst many within a ruling house.

Oba Okunade Sijuade was on the throne for almost 35 years, I would think that is enough time to have ironed out who the next Oba should be.

As if that is not bad enough, Chief Omisakin is now fast running out of words to qualify the next Ooni.

Today, the new qualifiers, a prince with Relative Ability.

“Whoever will emerge should just have, relative ability, character. The kingmakers will determine who has the relative ability. They are the ones the law allows to determine who has relative ability.” The Obalufe of Ife, Oba Solomon Omisakin.

‘Relative ability’ – I suppose it is safe to choose words that people (like me) would not pick on but when did Nigeria powerful chiefs ever have to be careful with their words?

Anyway, according to the Punch newspaper article, the new king should emerge in the next 40 days – yeah!.

I really do hope that day comes soon as ruling houses dragging each other to court as one of them is planning on doing tomorrow is embarrassing and makes one wonder why do they want to be the king so bad?

Nigeria to reduce the number of foreign missions

President Buhari is looking into the possibility of reducing Nigeria 119 missions abroad to a more manageable number in order to reduce cost and to re evaluate available services.

I’m hoping he’ll start from the UK.

There are many things that just don’t make any sense going on at our Nigeria High Commission, Northumberland Avenue, London.

As Omo Nigeria rere, I’ll give the president a pointer;

To obtain a Nigerian passport is a 2 day visit; one day to submit the form (the wait could be anything from one to 3 hours), after submitting the form, one still have to wait some more upstairs to take passport photography – this in 2015!

Then the second day, a week or so later is for collection whereby one has to be present and sign the passport before final issue.

The drama that actually goes on inside the embassy is iroyin ko t’afojuba (one need to visit to have full picture).

On the other hand, to obtain a British passport, most Briton have mo idea where their passport office are located because they don’t need to. One only have to out the form with required documents and send it off by mail. Within two to 3 weeks, you have your passport in hand.

Maybe this is one area this investigation should start from – what is stopping Nigeria embassy in the first world running as efficient as their counterparts in the host country – allowing passport renewal by mail?

While on this subject, why is Nigeria High Commission where Nigerians apply for passports at Northumberland Avenue like another Oshodi market and the Fleet Street where visitors apply for visas a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere?.

Talking about reducing costs of running foreign missions – now as an outsider I could not get the fact that when applying for Nigeria passport we had to pay two separate – one online payment and the other,  a £20 money order to be submitted with the form. Maybe a more efficient way is to consolidate all the payment to be online.

The last time I was at the embankment post office, I leaned in to tell the gentleman where to address my money order, he was faster than I was and when I seemed shocked that he knew, he told me “used to be worse, sister” before given me earful of how bad it was years ago.

An important move I agree, hopefully the move would mean improved service quality to all Nigerians.

Cocoa and Cassava production in Nigeria

The following infographics are from Gro Intelligence. The founder’s presentation here about making food more affordable is as informative as the infographics below: helping those who care have clearer pictures of the state of our agricultural products in Nigeria.

chocolate

 

Going by the data here, I doubt Nigeria farmers are any better off than Cote d’Ivoire in terms of price paid for their cocoa seeds. In our villages today where cocoa seeds are grown and harvested, hot chocolate (Bournvita/Milo) isn’t regular drinks for many folks, this is hardly surprising given they receive 6% of the price paid for chocolate.

Interesting is the fact that in spite of the increase in demand for cocoa seeds, the price paid to the farmers has significantly gone down compared to the 1980s – I can see why so many people are complaining, I actually didn’t know it has gone this bad.

There are too many middlemen with cocoa trading in Nigeria, farmers are always the one bearing the brunt as most rely on produce buyer to give them the best price. These buyers often have to pass through two or three people before cocoa seeds get out of the country.

cassava

This is just unbelievable about cassava. In south of Nigeria, cassava is our thing and one of the easiest root vegetables to grow. Now, it makes more sense, when I came across hectares of cassava plants in Thailand few years ago, I wondered if they too consumed cassava as much as we do but I know better.

To increase cassava processing, we’d undoubtedly require stable electricity, area we still shy away from but must be developed if we are to move forward.

But for how long can we rely on others to supply basics we could have easily produced ourselves?

 

land

My favourite infographic – inspiring to read that Ghana is taking a lead in land registration. In Nigeria, this is a hot debate. How can we ever move past ‘dark’ age when most rural land is undocumented?

Thank you Ms Menker for sharing these infographics.

Running out of criteria for the next Ooni?

With the rate we are going on the search for a credible prince to be crowned Ooni of Ife, maybe all that we needed is a well-informed prince.

I will suggest a local champion.

One do not have to live all their live in town to be a champion for local people, but if the prince is homegrown so be it, here a prince who genuinely love people and capable of earning the title bestowed upon him matters the most.

I am well aware of our obsession with all thing international, however being a local king shouldn’t require one to be of national or international repute. I am not sure why Prince Aderemi think being a good-hearted local prince isn’t enough to becoming a superb king that everyone would love and genuinely respect.

 According to Prince Aderounmu Aderemi, the next Ooni of Ife:

“…should not be a local player alone. He should be an international and national player. He should add more values to the stool of Oduduwa by making Ife to become a great city, if not the greatest in Nigeria.”

Why Ooni need not be an international player:

Being an Ooni comes with many privileges. To begin with it is the place that many people home and overseas believed Yoruba people originated from so without making any effort at all people would naturally be curious about Ile Ife, their interests will grow as they read more about lives of local people. What would motivate them to visit is hearing good news from the cradle in terms of development and all round peaceful coexistence.

On being a national player:

We already have too many elected official for these roles. A king need not dabble in politics. We have too many examples for the last 35 years of the last king, if Ife people benefitted from the last king’s national reputation, Ife-Ibadan road wouldn’t be in its current state.

Here is an example of how a national king thinks, Ooni Okunade Sijuade at a Lead City university event sharing his thoughts on Nigeria private versus government education.

“this is my first time at the Lead City and with what I saw here today it is better for our children to attend private university than government own university. I can say with all emphasis that Lead City University is better than many of the government owned universities around. I am very proud of the university.” Ooni Okunade Sijuade.

The problem here is that if Oba Okunade had spent any time at all to be a local king, he would know that most of Ile Ife people today could not afford to spend 500k naira per annum to send their children to a private university – the disconnectedness from reality of everyday townspeople is uncanny.

People deserve an Ooni who can re-establish trust amongst his people (hopefully one day we will have another ‘she’). An honourable prince who is not afraid to kick sand with his feet and visit all the villages under his domain and takes pride in connecting with other Yoruba Obas for important meetings such as preservation of language and culture.

Please ditch the national and international reputation mindset – the most important honour comes from the local people.

As we say in Yoruba, Ile la ti k’eso r’ode (charity begins at home).

Social mobility

This is a fantastic project – We Rise Initiative Nigeria.

  • More women breaking the barriers of silence
  • A future where women are not treated as 2nd class citizens

All the points in the slide below are interrelated but the two I copied up here are very important. When women can collectively speak up together in one voice, the battle is a lot easier.

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I especially liked the picture here – a woman stirring her boiling palm oil. I have always believed that for African women or indeed Nigeria women to truly rise, rural women must be carried along. Many rural women in this woman’s shoes sell their palm oil very cheaply the day after making as there is no other option to turn to. For many rural families today, educating their children takes the lion share of their income. SME fund with low-interest rate would afford folks to preserve their products for raining days.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a bigger initiative where all women can work together with one voice.

Priapism: Medical condition or fair lady’s charm

One day, soon I hope we will all have stories to tell about Nigeria’s very own snake oil salesmen.  I know we all want to believe in miracles and the power that lie in the hands of the anointed ones, however sometimes one can not but ask some questions.

In this video Mr Omotosho is suffering from a condition called priapism, a painful penile erection lasting for more than four hours (more on it here), caused when blood trapped in the men genitalia area is unable to drain.

Prophet TB Joshua delivered him from the pain with a flick of hand after he blamed the whole incidence on the fact that Mr Omotosho had an affair with a fair complexioned lady who had cast a spell on him – only in Nigeria. 

Learning more about priapism, apparently it is a rare condition that if left for too long before seeking medical attention could lead to other medical complications. Also I learned that priapism is common among men with sickle cell trait especially folks that are on medication for the condition. Nigeria is high risk for sickle cell.

So who do we believe here –  the fair lady’s charm or the science?

Also, isn’t it interesting that the Prophet labelled the ‘fair’ lady and sees Mr Omotosho as the victim?

Hope is that soon there will be right avenues for people to get help and perhaps peer group interventions so that folks can differentiate staged miracles from reality – that day will come eventually.

The first two minutes of the clip is the most relevant.