Owning up to our stories

Not always do we see a prominent Nigerian telling our story as is.

Yesterday, I read two different stories about northeast Nigeria. One says life is back to normalcy in Maiduguri highlighting this with people jubilating at a wedding ceremony having fun and celebrating life. This is a great news to see that peace is returning at last.

Who doesn’t love good news? In a country like ours, there is something that I have found more comforting than short-term good news as I am aware there are some underline issues that must be dealt with strategically for sustainable improvement. This is why I found Aliko Dangote and Bono appeal right step forward.

The first twenty-two seconds of this video highlights a very important issue that is prevalent in the north; child marriage.

Bono expressed his surprise seeing a nine year old child bride and Alhaji Dangote also reminded him of a 15 year old girl who recently gave birth.

Even as a Nigerian, I still feel shocked whenever this comes up, maybe our men can live with this insanity but how on earth can a mother, a grandmother allow this cycle of abuse to continue is beyond my understanding.

How could we ever get out of this rot if Nigeria has two different rules regarding appropriate age limit for marriage – south is 18 years old and north? That one changes with the weather, some say it’s 12 but as we can see here it is nine.

Can one even call a union involving a nine year old girl marriage?

I believe that the northeast issue affects the whole of the country, I believe everyone is feeling the effect. For one, the number of beggars is increasing by the day in the south.

I also believe that this is a huge threat to the country and international communities if the displaced people did not receive needed help so they can ease in to normalcy of life before crime is the only way out.

However, this fundamental issue of child abuse aka child-bride that Nigeria has refused to deal with effectively needs our leaders’ attention, I mean women leaders. Stripping up childhood from people is human right abuse.

I hear people talk about high poverty rate in the north, this is unfortunate, however, how is that going to ever end when girls aren’t allowed to be children and be educated so they can at least make a decision on their own accord?

Awon t’emi

Awon t’emi = My people.

I know that one day my people who are at the receiving end of social injustice will learn to speak up when their voices were required the most.

This BattaBox video clip is well done, not for the reason they intended but for highlighting important social issues in our rural areas.

This short video of Wanikin Grammar School is a mirror image of most government schools in our rural areas. This is because maintenance of public properties is not one thing that we do.

The message here was that people, general public should come to the aid of this school to help with windows, roofs, and all the general repairs that the school obviously needed.

Wanikin is a village that I am familiar with, only a few kilometres from Ife and Modakeke. I have visited a few times and know a bit about why the village is in this state today.

The the old man in 2:57 was being honest in his second point. He said they once had a heavy windstorm that ripped the school rood. As I said earlier, Nigeria don’t repair public property.

The other reason is in 4:54 – this gentleman was being truthful too. As can be read from the subtitles the ‘Omo Onile’ he is referring to are the Ifes, they may be living in the village but their children do not attend this school so no incentives to put pressure on the representatives (local and state) to spend allocation as intended.

My people are becoming like our very ‘close pal’ from the north (forgive me Aboki Yas), we are begging for generosity of outsiders for the things we refuse to do ourselves? Maybe all we need to do is drink a little potion of Self Awareness.

Baba Agba in 2:45 said this problem of the deserted and ruined school was as a result of Modakeke/Ife crisis. Well, this is like saying UK is losing their European doctors after Brexit.

I wondered what would have happened if Tìmì & Alágbára’s families were not ripped apart. People left when their homes were burnt and livelihoods handed from generation taken away from them. 19 years later, poor kids suffer the aftermaths.

I am glad that the youths in the village are talking. Many of these students were not here 19 years ago, what they should be asking their parents was that if a group of them have to attend this school because their parents could not afford private education – what is the need for a crown king four years ago in a village with such an eyesore public school? The state government could have declined Ooni Okunade Sijuade’s requests for obvious reasons.

We know where our shoes hurt the most, this is where our solution lies fine bara (begging for alms) don’t last for ever.

 

PP: I saw a new clip on Battabox that shows an update on this Wanikin school. A local lady (presumably from the area given her name) took on the project and renovated the school. This I love and appreciate.

Afterlife

 

In the middle of all many Nigeria wahala; plenty of them: President Buhari disappointing people with approving lower naira to dollar exchange rate for Mecca pilgrims, this in a country where beggars are at record high even in our southern towns.

So I came across an article about one year anniversary of the late king of Ife, Ooni Okunade Sijuade, with him also going straight to be seated in the right hand of the Nigerian God.

Can it get any messier with Nigeria and the weird way God is portrayed?

All of the quotes attributed to the late king in this article were laughable and blatant lies – why do we do this, I will never understand. When our lives are all lies, then we turn around to complain youths of nowadays don’t respect royal family, elders, and the new addition, clergy – well, maybe because people are tired of people with no moral at all?

This particular bad bits is laughable:

“…late Sijuwade lived well and died well. He was a follower of Christ. I had personal relationship with him when he was alive.  “He was a follower of Christ. He will remove his crown, kneel down and direct all his courtiers out of the vicinity before praying to God.” Former Bishop of Ife Anglican Diocese, Rev. Oluranti Odubogun.

When a statement such as this is altered, the idea is to believe that the deceased is in a safe place somewhere above resting in everlasting peace.

I beg to differ.

With Nigeria christians, the idea is that if one is lucky enough to be born in Nigeria, it means you get away with all your ‘sins’ as Jesus has washed them all away with His blood.

Well the monarch was first of all a Yorubaman, and a king to his people so I am holding on to my belief of Yoruba Afterlife – that is a lot easier to swallow and sweet to imagine.

So if I were to follow comments from Punch Online after the news of Ooni Sijuade’s departure, then I would not say that the king’s life on earth is a life I wish on anyone. Within 24 hours or so 359 comments that were recorded say a lot about what the public thoughts were – the fact that the article with its many colourful comments were deleted says volume – late king’s family can never rest until they erase any hints of truths regarding the late Ooni – shame.

I didn’t read all of the messages at the time but I read enough to be glad the universe is in perfect alignment.

Nigeria christian God forgives easily that is why we are here today, I will just leave the clergy’s remarks where it is.

So I am going to stick with Yoruba belief of Afterlife. The idea is that those that spent their years on earth following their selfish plans with no thoughts of how their actions affected others will be treated with a taste of their own medicine when they reached afterlife.

How did Yoruba ancestors know Nigeria will grow to be land where justice is scarce today? They indeed have foresights.

There is a likelihood of Oba Sijuade sitting next to MKO Abiola (that should be so fun) and thousands of Ife and Modakeke people who were unjustly killed, now it feels good to imagine how these folks in afterlife reacted to the king’s arrival last year.

According to Yoruba belief of Afterlife, Ooni Sijuade will not come back to life given his records of the last 35 years. That’s a relief.

Well, am I ever going to stop talking about Ooni Sijuade and his negative impacts on our communities? Never. Because our people don’t read enough so we keep falling into the same pit over and over again.

How else are we going to appreciate the work of the new Ooni Ogunwusi in pulling the two communities together if we forget that less than two years ago, people still get killed on their way to villages?

Our stories matter. Maybe we’ve had great kings in history, that is fantastic, the one we witnessed between 1980 and 2015 is not one of them and we will not forget.

 

Nigeria can not develop in darkness

This is a fatalistic Tedtalk from Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

 

 

From the time Dr Okonjo-Iweala was the Finance Minister, I loved that she likes to repeat the statement that I believe is the way out for Nigeria:

“In our countries, nobody, nobody is going to fight corruption for us but us.” 

 

I am just going to pretend this talk is meant for Nigeria alone. Good that there were balanced views of where the continent stands today. True, there is hope and plenty of opportunities for development but why is Nigeria the way it is though, why are we so hostile to innovative ideas that clearly is beneficial to people and certain to pave ways for other social and economic improvement ideas?

We have perfected this so well by disguising behind ‘homegrown’ products. This is evidence in many of our industries – a few people benefitting at the expense of larger society.

I am glad that Dr Okonjo-Iweala mentioned Kenya mobile-money and its benefits and how the innovation has paved way to others such as easy access to solar energy as the money can be paid by mobile.

6:02 to 6:29 –

” In Kenya, the development of mobile money — M-Pesa, which all of you have heard about — it took some time for the world to notice that Africa was ahead in this particular technology. And this mobile money is also providing a platform for access to alternative energy. You know, people who can now pay for solar the same way they pay for cards for their telephone. So this was a very good development, something that went right.”

I see the mobile money in action myself and was amazed of how quick that was without having to step into a bank. Families in remote areas get help from loved ones quickly with cost being a fraction of what a bank would have charged them.

All the articles I read around delay of mobile money were pointing to the government strict regulations of protecting local banks, really? When will the interest of majority of Nigerians ever matter in any decision making?

http://www.iea.org.uk/blog/why-mobile-money-transformed-kenya-failed-to-take-in-nigeria

And talking about mobile money as mentioned, I see this being used in a couple of resorts that I visited while in Uganda, one would have expected this to take off in Nigeria first given our over reliance on deafening household generators?

A note to those in charge of Ikogosi Sring Ekiti on this one, instead of apologising to guests and telling the same old stories about shortage of petrol to power the generator or NEPA issue, installing solar power will keep people coming, not the excuses after full room charge has been collected.

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Between the Pearl and Giant of Africa

 

My trip to Uganda Safari was fantastic. Visitor visa to East Africa is surprisingly straight forward that one can either apply for here in their London offices or at the point of entry. I did all here for peace of mind.

The following photos were taken at Murchison National Park, it was incredible seeing these wild animals in their natural habitats and more so that the area is well looked after and tour guides taking pride in their job.

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The sunrise is at Heaven Resort, Jinja. One morning as I unzipped my camp tent, right opposite was this breathtaking sunrise over the Nile – hard not to pulse and appreciate the break of a new day. Only a couple of hours drive from Kampala.

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From ease of visa processing, clean and organised airport area to stable electricity, uninterrupted water supply and in general (compared to Nigeria) good sanitation and environmental hygiene – hard not to reflect on why these basic needs and necessities remain big challenges in Nigeria when a country like Uganda with a fraction of our population and non of our oil wealth are keen on improving.

I made a trip to Baha’i Temple one morning for no other reason than to visit another interesting feature in the city – architecture and amazing view.

Baha'i Temple, Kampala
Baha’i Temple, Kampala

The young man working at the temple was as soft spoken as most Ugandans, he was very helpful explaining that Baha’i Faith is a unifier religion connecting all religions of the world together – didn’t even know Baha’i Faith existed so good to know. Inside of the temple was clean and dead quiet that a drop of pin will be audible so I sat down for a while admiring the details on the ceiling.

On the way back, I decided to walk back to the city centre rather than taking a taxi or boda boda – best way to see everyday people minding their businesses.

The sun was up and doing its job of biting the back of my neck, but the walk was a lot more pleasant as I realise one more thing about Uganda that is quite different from Nigeria.

For the last five years at least, we have heard a lot of increases in the number of Nigerian students being sponsored to study in Uganda universities, this is mostly from the north.

The increase in the study abroad for the last decade has been political (in my opinion), so if one wants votes, offers of oversea scholarships is one sure way of getting it – this is very common in the south, that much is obvious. Only last week there was a report of medical students in the Caribbean taking to stealing, they blamed it all on the Rivers State government for non payment of their tuition/allowances. – This by the way is not limited to Rivers State alone, common with most of our governors. 

Salary payment isn’t one thing Nigeria do well at. Not too much surprises that state government continue to fail on their promises of oversea scholarship payments.

Now coming to Uganda, on my waka about from Baha’i Temple, What I noticed for the first time was that all of the schools that I found on my way for the most part were different from that of Nigeria government owned schools. I don’t know anything about Ugandan schools other than what I observed on the surface and the news about government sponsored Nigerians. However, one thing that is obvious is that their primary and secondary schools seem to be a lot more organised – I didn’t see one make-shift, side of the road schools in the area I walked past.

In Nigeria significant numbers of government sponsored students from the north were sent to Islamic university in Uganda, this could be for many reasons, here I will assume so that they could continue their studies within a set etiquette. Here are a few that we know were sent to Uganda in the recent year.  Sokoto, Kano and this one from Kaduna

“Mr Ocheger (Ug commissioner to Nigeria in Kaduna) said that about 750 Nigerians are studying in one Ugandan University alone, maintaining that this will encourage interaction among different social and religious backgrounds and different nationals that will bring about social harmony and exchange of ideas.”

Come to think about this, Uganda with 40M people with only 12.1% Muslim and Nigeria with 41% Muslim out of  182M estimateAnd all these years Nigeria with the numbers of professors can’t build good enough Islamic schools in our nation?

So, when are we ever going to realise it is better now and future for our country to use the scarce resources to develop our own schools? 

In my two weeks, there was only one time of power outage for about half hour (the whole country was affected) and back up provision kicked in with minimal interruptions, this is such a big deal that the company in charge  issued a report.

I had a great time in Uganda overall.

Giant of Africa needs reality check on all fronts.

Crooked preachings, follow at your own risk

Pastor Adeboye’s checklist of must have for marriageable women is not accident, many people see the clergy as the mouthpiece of God. There is a reason for that. Nigeria is obsessed with material wealth, the man has enough of it. Nigerians are obsessed with title, the man is called their Daddy. Nigerians are traditions crazed, the man is a typical Yoruba man thinking ‘it’s okay she has good education and all, but still must shrink herself with all she has accomplished so men around could feel better, if religion is not enough to justify the crooked views, drag tradition to it. So he must the right.

Hear him here:

To the girls: Marry a guy with a job. That is all there is to a man – a job.

 

To the girls: As usual, my sisters are meant to be all.

 

  • Must be able to pray one hour straight
  • Can’t be lazy, because she might not be able to cope when she has children.
  • Must be able to cook

Here I am surprised he didn’t mention bedroom duty, I suppose that’s a given, that shouldn’t be too hard anyway, I’d be too tired to say no to any advances, and if am asleep, he could just find his way easily. Great to be a Nigerian girl!

And the man of God has a tape for sale, my people will rush to buy his tape, they’d memorised all the messages because the man of God has spoken. But they will forget about their day-to-day realities.

As it’s always the case, most people in his congregation are women.

I just can’t be bothered with the likes of Pastor Adeboye and their twisted views of what women must be anymore, at least not as much as in the past because I read better books now, one of which is dear Maya Angelou, may she continue to rest in peace.

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou.

A few months ago on a Saturday morning, I asked my girls’ father if they had taken packed lunch with them to the gymnastics. He said yes and proceeded to explain what he had packed. Ayé is our little girl, if she’s given an option to ask for what she would like for lunch, often she asks for something that is more than a simple sandwich. On this day, the 8year old asks her dad to make ẹ̀bà (product of cassava) and he did. Having ẹ̀bà as packed lunch is a bit tricky as one needs two separate bowls for stew and eba. Aye loves ẹ̀bà and beef stew with okro, and that is exactly what her father prepared for her.

And no, the father didn’t just start cooking that day, just so happened that eba for packed lunch was a new addition.

Actually, when I met Yeye’s father about sixteen years ago. Shortly after we met, he invited me over for dinner, his gift that evening was pounded yam and beef vegetable stew, he made an effort to show how much he could learn to prepare our local dish. It was meant to be pounded yam, but truthfully it was more like yam pottage, I appreciated the effort and ate the meal. I am not a picky eater, as long as I recognise the ingredients I am fine.

Needless to say, we now have two girls together. Now he cooks, cleans, change the girls nappies (when they were little), oh, he has a job, had enough education and sense that it takes more than ‘a job’ to be a father.

Not our tradition? Well, daily I am ditching any tradition that sees me as a mere piece of meat, and an ‘option’.

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.” 
― Maya Angelou

Ha, this is one of the reasons why it will be extremely hard for any woman in Nigeria especially in the south to be in any meaningful public leadership position because we are meant to keep shrinking ourselves in the presence of our male counterparts to keep their ego intact.

As for Mrs GrammarPolice wanting to be our president? Forget it, unless she changed her strategy. We need women that is ready to provoke thoughts, you can not be an ideal Nigeria woman and go very far, we all know that.

All Pastor Adeboyes in Nigeria will change their views if our women change the way they spend their time. Take on new hobbies not church/mosque related, pay attention to the life here on earth, self-improvement ones that add values to yourself, our girls do not deserve to listen to this crap in this age where they see fathers all around the world pulling their weight.

Learn to drive that family car you help pay for, stop depending on ‘daddy’ or driver to control all your moves, if you have time for endless religious meetings, you sure have time to learn – this one goes to my sister.

Shut them all up with actions.