Marriage fixer prophet

I thoroughly enjoy this Tedtalk Nairobi by Caroline Mutoko, my take on it is what I hold dear – women of today must play their part to build a future for the coming generations of women. Leaning in, as Ms. Mutoko puts it is no longer enough, a lot was fought for before our time, hence many things were a lot easier than it was for women before us.

One thing that I notice in a place like Nigeria is that often in times the most courageous women look the other way when other young women were being lead astray especially when this is done by a self-proclaimed men of God – we watch and get confused internally as we sure know the end is disaster but chose to be quiet because speaking out to enlighten the women of the likely consequences might hurt the ego of the men.

Take for example the case of a group of women being made to think getting married to men they barely know is the best option for their lives because their prophet says so.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared a clip of a church program that looks like a scene from a Nollywood movie, a few young men in the congregation who wanted a partner were in a queue, young ladies in the congregation who are supposedly desperate for  husbands were asked to line up behind their preferred men – the prophet said he was going to ‘marry for some people for this church… I will sponsor all the marriage in one day,’ hearing this statement, the congregation cheered.

In the end behind each man, there are a few women, some up to 7. Men were instructed to take a look at these women behind them, mastered their faces and after the service, they need to introduce themselves to their choice – this all done during a church service.

I am only learning of Prophet Jeremiah Fufeyin of Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministry for the first time. Watching a few minutes of his church service online, he is charismatic, loves dancing, people seem to believe everything he says.

So many things are going on in Nigeria that we brushed aside but in the real sense is social malice with serious consequences. The practice whereby a religious leader declares himself as the ‘marriage fixer’ is the genesis of a bigger problem in the Muslim north today. It all started with the religious leader, now in many parts of the northern states, the state government takes it upon themselves to see that all women must be married, so they paid for the marriage to be a third or fourth wife to someone they barely knew. And in a couple of years after a child or two, they are back on the market waiting for the government fix, and those children are often thrown in the streets, hence we have Boko Haram replacement so easily. Kano alone has over one million street kids.

Now in the south, just as we love to copy just about anything that is socially awkward from the north i.e pilgrimage in place of schools/hospitals, we are doing it here, in the name of Jesus as opposed to Allah – but in the end, it is bound to have the same outcome.

Here I wondered, where are the mothers in this church were they thinking of their prophet erratic behaviour? If one has to pick a pick a husband like one does fruits in a bazaar paid for by a stranger prophet – after the marriage with no job to fend for oneself, what will be the end of this?

Both potential husbands and wives in this clip are educated, at least up to secondary school perhaps even higher. If this happens in the north, we say they are illiterates, so we the southerners and educated – why do we keep copying the same ill-fated lifestyle?

Correlation between this story and Ms. Caroline Mutoko’s Tedtalk? Not much, I just think women who learn to invest in self would work towards getting a job to fend for self first, then life partner will eventually come if that is what they want. Being treated like a cattle whereby anyone comes to take a pick isn’t the way to go even if one is in a religious congregation.

Ajala of our time

Our new royal father enjoys travelling, I have no problem with that. People who finds joy within and outside of their palace seldom have time to dwell on little things or cause people in their community needless grief.

Having said that, there is high hope for what is expected of Ooni Enitan Ogunwusi at home, people have an endless list of disputes he is to resolve and I agree because b’íná kò tán l’órí ẹ̀jẹ̀ kìí tan léèkánná (it is not over, until it is truly over).

A 76 years old friend of mine (age matters here to show different eras of Ooni of Ife), said in a message the other day how he has not being able to see any value of Oba in the local community he represents. My friend, Baba was referring to Ooni’s travels while there are plenty of issues yet to be resolved at home – a case of hope deferred making the hear sick – Proverbs 13:12.

I understand where Baba was coming from, it is only those who are not directly affected by the last crisis that say people ought to count their loses and move on, but for many people the scar is still raw.

Coincidently a few weeks ago, there was another meeting by good people in town – the meeting was between Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and our very own Ogunsua of Modakeke, Oba Francis Adedoyin. The meeting was about finding amicable resolution to many outstanding issues – seized farmlands being the topmost.

It is pleasing to know that we have elders who are not relenting in being the voice for the voiceless farmers. Also, from that meeting I learnt that Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi who is another prominent Yoruba Oba has not set his foot into Ile Ife in 50 years – that is a big plus for Oba Enitan Ogunwusi for being the force of unity.

Oba Lamidi Adeyemi not visiting Ile Ife in 50 years is not too surprising – Ooni  Okunade Sijuade and Oba Lamidi Adeyemi were the perfect ọmọ ìyá awùsá (cat and dog relationship).

Baba was happy to hear of the meeting between the three Obas and elders, Guardian Newspapers did an okay job with the story, the real reason of the meeting in the last three paragraphs – good to see it in prints. 

Resolving many of our many land dispute issues is not going to be easy but it can be done and it is only fair.

As I was thinking about Baba and a slight impatience that I sensed from the tone of his texts, then it occurred to me why Baba has a high hope of Ooni Ogunwusi.

Baba came to the UK in the 70’s to study, this was when naira was strong. He has seen three different eras of Ooni in his life time, the most painful one being one and only Ooni Sijuade.  Baba, like many people in diaspora of his age built his first home in Akarabata area of town with the hope of retiring there one day.

During the long drawn crisis of 1997, his house was razed to the ground, in it was his niece who has mental health problem – everyone left the neighbourhood but the lady refused to leave so she was burnt with the house.

Also, Baba’s village was Ògùdù, one of most hard hit during the crisis – all of Modakeke people in that village that were not killed, fled their homes. The only farm baba knew was Ògùdù. 

Baba is happy with his life now, his children all grown. He could move to Nigeria if he wanted and he will still be happy. Like many people from my area, he is well aware that he is privileged to have options but he is still concerned for those people who still live in limbo.

We are happy that almost two years into the reign of a new Oba, our towns have been in relative peace – I am still hopeful that the meeting between our Obas will yield positive outcome – if we are all omo Yoruba then it is only fair that those chased away from their farmlands get adequate compensation or be allowed to return to their farmland. The latter option is very thin given some part of the land is being used for projects.

We are still hopeful for a fair outcome.

 

 Ajala Moshood Adisa Olabisi was an international student in the States early 1970s, he was known for his love of adventure. He travels several miles within the States and around the world on his bike and vespa. 

Locally we call people who enjoys travelling Ajala

Sankofa

At a training session with a fellow Nigerian. The lady was quite passionate about Nigeria, she hopes to return home after her retirement to set up a practice with her son – she would love to give back in her own way.

Hope is good, it is hope that has kept us still believing in a country crumbling on itself, that one day enough people will realise nothing will change without us changing our focus.

I enjoy meeting people from different parts of Nigeria especially when talking about important social issues, to learn if things are done differently in their parts –  we are all in the same boat, enough of us just don’t want to acknowledge that much.

The lady is from Edo and in her 50s. Her age is relevant here to show how little has changed over the years.

Conversation started on the ‘others’ and their rigid views of the world. In the end I was glad we both agree everyone has a role to play to steer the country in the right direction – we have been made to finger-pointing for way too long that we don’t pay attention to our own closest neighbours who aren’t necessarily acting in the best interest of all.

Take education for example, from long time ago, southern Nigeria have embraced western education – this much we are always eager to point out, however for the last 30 years quality of our public school education is on downward spiral, this is obvious on our streets.

Not funding public education means a sharp rise in private schools which many people could not afford  – can we from the south, the ‘enlightened ones’ blame the north for that?

Just because a group decides keeping people around them ignorant by denying them any form opportunities to be independent thinkers, should we continue to do the same even when we are well aware of the consequences?

Perhaps the best way to see this is to stop worshiping those who are elected to represent us at the top. We should hold our representatives (from the south) to accounts and stop taking them seriously when they are pointing to the ‘others’ as the bad guys.

And the self-appointed messiahs who we know are not acting in our best interest need to be shown many instances where they have failed to support us.

Gender issues is a good example here, the GEO bill was raised to highlight many key areas where Nigeria women today are still being treated as a less of. The bill was raised by Senator Abiodun Olujimi, a southerner, it has faced many backlashes and now being shelved collecting dusts.

When GEO bill was being discussed last year, the only strong and loud opposing voices we heard were from the northern religious leaders – which I actually appreciate, at least we know what we are working with.

In the south none of our outspoken christian leaders spoke, they all kept quiet as they prefer not to be identified as the one who oppose GEO bill – I am sure there are plenty of bible verses to back up their preference.

My new friend is religious, far more than I am. Gender inequality is one subject that bothers her too, here she shared her experience of a church in Nigeria where there are handbooks for women and children to guide them as they navigate this sinful world. This church has no handbook for men as they were born to know all from birth and women from babies to old age must be guided by those who didn’t need to follow guidance handbook – how interesting.

The above is the view of many Nigeria christian leaders on women ability and reason their view on gender issue is hushed.

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with this lady, it is nice to chat with a religious Nigerian whose sense of reasoning is not clouded by tribal or religious sentiments.

While there are enormous work for Nigerians, we can not continue to pretend all is well when the oppression is coming from our tribe or our preferred religion – if we can not see unfairness in the way we are being treated with the so called ‘our own’, how can we ever be united to fight for against external forces?

 

Sankofa “You must reach back to reclaim that which is lost in order to move forward”

New music, old dance

‘When the music changes, so does the dance’ This is an adage that serves as a reminder  of importance of awareness to the changing world.

 

There is a lot of assumptions made on behalf of Nigerians, most of which were not true representation of what Nigerians stand for or genuinely believed.

For about two weeks now, there has been discussions about secondary school curriculum and how Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) has been deliberately merged with Religious and National Values by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) while Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) still maintains its status as a stand alone subject.

Regardless of the purpose of the proposed amendment in the curriculum, any conversation around religion always get attention of Nigerians.

The news going around was that the changes was meant to islamise Nigeria – I still do not understand how this could possibly be believable in Nigeria.

Why is all the fuss? What is wrong with replacing CRK/IRK with Religions and National Values?

 

Nigeria top pentecostal pastors were not left behind, they reiterate how important it is that we keep CRK in the curriculum and of course they jazzed up their message to make people think that is all that we needed to lead a happy/fulfilled life.

I have nothing to say about these pastors drumming on this non issue – all of the three big names mentioned grew up in a Nigeria when we had fewer churches on our streets. Now, with more churches, more religious preachings, people are fed with false hope, distractions from reality on the streets with promises of wealth and eternal home as if there will be a separate heaven for Nigerians and they are the gatekeepers.

Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has this to say:

“it would lead us to a godless nation with violence and all forms of ungodliness as the order of the day” – the statement was credited to CAN president, Rev Samson Ayokunle.

Thinking on the CAN president’s statement – which part of Nigeria is ‘godfull’ today? Funny people – Nigeria is so ‘godfull’ that northern Nigeria had to leave CAN to form a separate body last year citing corruption in the top office as their reason for leaving to create their own more representative group of Northern Nigerian Christian Association (NNCA). 

Like all subjects, periodic reviews are important to see how to best get important message across to learners. NERDC were appointed to do specific jobs, we all can see the influence of religion in our society – why must we continue in the same old way and wishing for better times?

In this case, I thought instead of CAN and top religious leaders speaking on behalf of everyone, why not encourage NERDC to do a nationwide or south-wide survey to get figures on what people are thinking about religious studies in secondary school?

Deut 17:6  says  “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses…”

I did CRK in the first three year of secondary school, I still have a picture of my teacher in my mind’s eye – if the course was not compulsory, I would not have sat in that class.

Everything I remember about bible teachings today are from home and involvement in church activities. It is parents’ responsibility to teach their children religion of choice.

A few people I spoke with on the subject agree that Nigerian students likely to benefit more from religious studies being merged with national values, might even awaken people to the reality on ground as opposed to outward proclamation of religiosity that leaves many reciting verses that bear no resemblance to the life on the streets.

If I had to raise my children in Nigeria today, I’d rather get them to study Religious and National Values where they are exposed to a religion of their choice as well as how that fits into today’s Nigeria realities.

The outcry was to get people thinking Nigeria is about Them Vs Us however, in reality southern Nigeria education is heading towards downward spiral with too much emphasis on religion and far less on other very important subjects that get people employed for today’s world.

School is meant to open minds to all possibilities not to further create needless division/isolation.

We are at a different time, we need to get comfortable to dance to the rhythms of today.

A house divided

Nigeria is what it is, new day presents itself with a whole new story. Here is a story that affects most today’s Nigerians but we often ignore until it is too late.

The Cable did a good job detailing events leading to the deaths of three school girls at Queen’s College aged 12, 13 and 14. Out of 2,180 boarders, 1,200 students were reported to have been sick of stomach ache or other similar ailment that was traced to lack of general hygiene/contaminated water at the school hostel.

Parents were well aware of the health risks during last December break, many children were sick and treated for infections.

Amongst many issues highlighted in that article is the divided PTA – that is very bad for any school especially when the welfare of students becomes the secondary reason for the group.

Here I am not blaming the parents, especially those that have to deal with nursing their sick children back to health / those that have to deal with the loss of loved children. We can only do our best to protect children in our care, however, if my child comes home complaining of similar ailment to her friends, I am not sending my child back to that school until the issue is resolved.

I totally understand the culture under which we operate in Nigeria, whereby parents’ opinions are outright discarded and the pressure of saving face that forces people to go along with terrible decision – we can be better.

Here is my experience dealing with PTA with divided opinions.

My niece informed me that her hostel was broken into while at school, there are 6 girls in the room – money, phones, study tablets were stolen. They were at school at a different site during the burglary.

The school is for A Level Cambridge and JUPEB exams – a year program. Age group between 16 and 20.

I would never sleep on information such as this if it were to be any of my girls, so I sent a message to the MD asking for his plans to keep students in his care safe given recent development. He did not respond.

Next day was a Sunday, my niece called to say her next door neighbours’ room was broken into at 3am while the girls were fast asleep, they stole similar stuff as they did during the day.

This time two parents showed up at the hostel by 6am, they have had enough. By the time my niece returned from church, the parents have called the police, MD was there. Police took notes and end of story.

It occurred to me that there is no communications at all between the parents, so it works well for the school owner that parents are at arm’s length of one another.

This is very different from what I have grown used to here where emails, phone numbers of parents were known to everyone which in turn makes it easy to raise any concern or arrange for events.

I managed to collect 7 parents’ phone numbers from their children. Parents were appreciative of the call, everyone seems to be worried, alone. I set up a WhatsApp group so we can all meet.  The plan was to get the school to investigate the culprits, and to assure us that children in their care will be protected going forward – is that too much to ask?

We set a date and time for the school visit, everyone agrees.

The day before we were to visit, one of the parents called to say that we need not visit the school anymore because the school had promise to put measures in place on the phone. Up until that point everyone is talking to their children with updates, nothing has changed not even after the police visit.

I update the group and asked them to decide.

One of the parents pm’d saying ‘my sister, now you see why Nigeria and Yorubaland is the way that it is today?’ We agreed to be there for our children and one man because of insane religious sentiment went behind our backs to the school MD and then came to us to discourage the group from visiting.

Needless to say, I removed that parent from the group, my sister and good people went to the school. MD was apologetic and promised there is a plan to move the kids to their other site where security is better. Students were moved that week.

I am just so happy my niece and nephew have finished their exams and left the school. But I am concerned that people coming next session are likely going to face the same issue.

It is frustrating when PTA get their priorities twisted. No need to have a committee if welfare of the students isn’t the top most priority.

Queen’s College case is terrible but not unheard of in Nigeria, many are swept under the carpet with the help of parents who fail to realise the next victim could be their own child. I hope Dr Lami Amodu and team are made to provide reasons for the gross negligence.

As a parent, if I don’t care enough to fight for my child’s welfare, no one will. We like to think Nigeria poor are the only ones suffering, I beg to differ, everyone suffers due to silence where our voices are needed the most.

In the west of our dear land

I received a text message a few weeks ago warning people not to use their photo or that of their family members for social medial profile because there are messengers of devil lurking around determined to take children of God away.

This message came to me from a friend that I respect, we’ve known each other for a long time, so I replied asking her to think about that message for a second in relation to the present situation in her family, town, state and Nigeria and to see if there was any sense in it.

It is interesting the number of messages people forward without reading or believing it.

Why is it so hard to give common sense advice without making everything about religion, devil, or God? Wouldn’t it be enough to get people to understand the need for a bit of privacy while on social media without scaremongering people with nonsensical tales?

Thankfully, I no longer receive chain messages that only serve to propagate myths or scare the daylights out of people. However, occasionally, I receive ‘gems’ from new friend/acquaintance, such is the case the other day when someone in a group that I belong sent a ‘warning’ text.

The text was long, but the gist of the story was that we should not pick a call from a number with country code +263. Two different numbers were provided. The reason for the warning was that the person on the other end is a ‘devil’, he has managed to kill 11 people via calling them on the phone. There is something about blood sucking devil in the text.

This message was not directed at me, if I was not part of this group, the sender would not have included me, here I can’t really be bothered.

Out of curiosity I checked to see where the ‘blood sucking devil’ is calling Nigerians from, it turns out to be Zimbabwe.

Why would someone in Zimbabwe want to suck Nigerians blood, don’t they have their own people or do Nigerians have special sweet blood?

The +263 warning text is a bit easy to crack, I sense some Televangelists competing for the same audience, my people are one step ahead making sure they scare folks from listening to morning devotion from rivals – Oh well, I know this message will go round the world and come back before people realise the motives behind the texts.

Let’s assume that it is true that there are some agent of darkness somewhere who really wanted to kill people through WhatsApp calls, why would anyone target Nigerians when there are plenty options of people using VOIP around the world?

Whenever texts such as these are sent to people, there is always a sense of urgency to act, ‘send this message to all your friends and family members’ even if forwarding such a message makes one look like a  douchebag, deed is done before they had a chance to ask simple question such as:

Why is it always us spreading rumours that make no sense?

People are facing enormous challenges with skyrocket inflation, kidnap for ransom and on top of it, an absentee President – do people need more miserable tales to scare them of one more thing they need to do or not do so as not to die?

Do people actually still believe this? It seems so. If they don’t we would not have more churches than schools today. I have seen a building with three different churches – everyone competing for a share of the market.

“In the west of our dear land…” is the first line of my secondary school anthem, the line came to me today while I was thinking about how much some people rather than using technology to inform and educate, they insist on using it as a tool to further instil fear into the people.

Many people genuinely do need help, may their eyes be opened in good time.

Rhythm

One way to enhance understanding of Yoruba language is by  listening to stories during events, also by paying attention to the usage of words – stories often have sayings/adages that lead listeners to a whole other stories – they work to shed lights to certain events that are similar.

At this year’s Drums Festival at Abeokuta, quite a lot of elders were in attendance.

Here’s is what I learned.

I found Alaafin Oyo, Oba Adeyemi’s speech quite entertaining and reflective. He was in a cheerful mood. Here he talks about many functions of talking drums in Yorubaland as a medium where messages are passed to the Oba or audience by drum beats without having to speak out the words.

As a wakeup call:

  • Olayiwola dide ko bo sokoto, a kii f’ise igbonse ran omo eni.

This is waking up the Oba early in the morning by reminding him of day break. (not Yoruba translation but that’s the message).

As a warning:

  • M’ọ̀sà, m’ọ̀jà, la fíi mọ akínkanjú l’ójú ogun, akínkanjú tó bá m’ọ̀jà, tí kò m’ọ̀sá, níí b’ógun elòmìí  lọ.

Rough translation – Knowing when to fight, and when to quit is the best way to spot a brave warrior. A warrior who knows how to fight but loses sight of when to stop, loses the war.

“O d’ifa fun Adesuyi nigba to fe jagun, won so fun wipe asiko ko tii to…”

Here Oba Adeyemi cited an example of one Adesuyi but he did not finish the story. The indication is that in history there was someone named Adesuyi who perhaps failed to recognise the signs around him.

…………

  • Ikún kìí j’ẹun ẹni, kó pani, nínú ilé Ọ̀yọ́ kọ́ o.

The above ‘spoken’ by the drum is to remind the Oba not to eat outside of his home

………..

Reminder of shared history

  • Ò̩rọ̀ pọ̀ n’íkùn, a kò r’ẹ́ni ‘re ba sọ́

The above means that people have quite a lot they would like to share but they don’t have trusted people to speak to. This drum beats is used to warn the Oba to be cautious of how much information he divulges with unfamiliar people.

As a prompt.

If an Oba is out at an event  and he his carried away  socialising with the host, the drummers instead of going to him interrupting the meeting, they use the drums to remind the Oba that his time was up to head home

  • Agbe gbe wa dele o, agbe. Alaafin kii rajo, ko ma bo, agbe.

……..

Ọọni Ogunwusi’s  speech was on the same theme of encouraging Nigerians and Yoruba people to unite together for grater good. I wonder if Ooni could pull off Ife accent.

As a word of advice, Ọọni too dropped and adage.

  • Tiwa, ni tiwa, ti akisa ni ti aatan

Rough translation: Let us embrace what is ours.

…….

Professor Wole Soyinka can be quite charming when he is in good mood (Nigeria situation can get under anyone’s skin). I enjoyed his speech particularly when he touched on how our people today somehow see everything about tradition to be diabolical/paganism. I agree with Prof on this, we tend to fear what we don’t know.

Prof. too dropped an adage:

As a reminder to acknowledge significant event/thing.

  • Àjànàkú kọjá mo rí nkan fìrí, t’ába r’érin, ká sọ pé a r’érin

Rough translation: An elephant is big enough that one can not confuse it for any other animal. In relevant to the Drums Festival, it is a big deal and this is the second year of such.

 

 

 

All sorts of schemes

Earlier on this year a friend’s mother sent a text to say she’s in town, wanted to meet up and all. She is a very likeable woman with zest for life, conversation with her is always funny and reflective.

I will call her Ma.

We didn’t get chance to meet so she called introducing me to a scheme to invest in. On the phone I was very polite and said I will think about it.

Admittedly, I don’t know anything about any of these schemes – anything that is not publicity registered private or government, it is shady so I  tera morin ese (walk away)

I later received a detailed text that I only have to put in €275 and then recruit 2 people to join me, the more people we recruit the more our rewards will be. Gold trade is lucrative, will forever be in demand.

I have already indicated on the phone that I was not interested but I really do not want to offend Ma.

I did a bit of research on Swissgolden so I know what to tell Ma other than ‘why on earth do you think I would ever be interested in a pyramid scheme?’

I was quite surprised to see Swissgolden doing rounds in Nigeria. We are indeed a special breed of people, MMM crashed last November and Swissgolden swoops in – same people, same scheme different name.

Swissgolden operates very similar to MMM. You + two = gold points, the process continues like that, as long as new investors keep joining in, old ones will keep getting paid = Pyramid scheme. 

Pyramid schemes are illegal in many countries including the UK.

In Nigeria, everyone is free to do just about anything, as long as you avoid getting government officials involved, you are all okay. My question is if Swissgolden does not honour its promises, who would anyone in Nigeria call to fight corners? Virgin Islands or Russia?

Last year, just before Christmas, MMM had a crash on their system so stopped paying out. There are so many heart breaking stories of people whose money had been bamboozled.

Nigerians are used to disappointment that possibility of crash is not enough to deter people as long as you promise returns that can only happen in afterlife.

With social media, it becomes quite easy to show people lots of unbelievable returns on their investment. This is what Swissgolden is doing, people contacting friends of friends to be involved in schemes they have little or no understanding of.

Ma is not even a Nigerian but told me there are many of ‘my people’ in the meeting she attended in Stratford. I told Ma, since she already has a few of ‘my people’ she is better off sticking with them. Nigerians being part of the group is all that matter, I of one not that kind of Nigerian.

All in good spirit, we both laughed and she got the message. Smart woman.

As Nigeria goes, reading through what people are saying online, they were asked to put in as low as 42k naira, which just go to show that people are being encouraged to pool money together to get on the scheme.

Swissgolden, because the process is based on a very risky pyramid scheme, it means it is a long term investment that requires money that may not be needed in few months or years.

Even if this Swissgolden is indeed a valid investment opportunity, it is definitely not for many of our market people who depend on weekly/monthly earnings for next spending. For example next term school fees for children or replenish monthly stock.

It is sad though that this is exactly the people MMM and Swissgolden are targeting.

A bird in hand is what I say to these type of schemes.

Here is a skit by a local comedian warning people of the danger of diverting school fees to Ponzi schemes – funny, but the message is clear.

Cerebral Palsy

The story of Oluwalonimi (Nimmy) is hard to ignore, the first question that popped to my mind after reading the story was, where are the parents of this child?

Nimmy is a 4 year old girl with cerebral palsy. Nimmy’s parents hired Bisola Abajomi-Ojo, a registered physiotherapist to work with the girl three times a week.

Nimmy’s mother, Bukola Ayinde did her homework, like many women in her shoes, she read a lot about her daughter’s condition. Travelled with her family to Hungary for a month with her child all so she could learn how to better help Nimmy live a normal life.

She got to know Bisola Abayomi-Ojo through reading a church magazine – if one could not trust a referral whose name appears in a church magazine in Nigeria, who else can one trust?

I am not particularly sure why Ms Abayomi-Ojo was this nasty to the little girl. She seems like an informed person, who is aware of challenges facing disabled people in Nigeria. Even the girl’s mother said she thought Abayomi-Ojo was her friend given how she related with the family on the progress of their child.

What did Abayomi-Ojo do wrong – sometimes in 2016, she made a visit to Nimmy’s school for a physio session. During the session, it was just Abayomi-Ojo and Nimmy in the room. The school has a CCTV camera in the room. The whole time that she was in the room, she was on her phone. Nimmy, given her condition fell off the chair several times, at one point, Abayomi-Ojo tied the girl’s hands together – all of these were done in a hurry, she seems to be preoccupied with her phone throughout.

There are video clips online clearly showing all of these including hitting the girl whose parents are paying lots of money for ‘professional’ help. How sad can one be?

After the school showed the clips to Nimmy’s parents, they were clearly devastated but wanted to handle the case with care, eventually they got Nigeria police and Registrar of Medical Rehabilitation Therapist Board involved.

Getting justice through normal routes in Nigeria is difficult and can be frustrating to the point of withdrawing the case.

Only few weeks after Nimmy’s abuse at the hand of a well paid and trusted physiotherapist was reported, Abayomi-Ojo left Nigeria for the USA, now doing her masters.

Child abuse is not unusual as Nigeria goes, but for authorities to push aside a case of an abused disabled child in the hand of a trained professional is another rock bottom, even for Nigeria standard.

If Nigeria middle class can’t get justice on a case like this with proven evidence, what hope is there for more than half the population?

I am glad that Nimmy’s mother realised she is the best person to look after her own child. She has decided to write about her experiences and sharing it with Nigerians – I think this is crucial. Often, we rely on success stories of raising disabled children in the west, reading from people within the country is very important and hopefully will lead to government paying more attention to paediatric needs.

There is an ongoing petition urging the USA to revoke Abayomi-Ojo’s visa so she could go back home to face consequences of her action, only few more signatures from justice loving people from around the world to reach 10,000 target.

I hope justice prevails in the end.

Women and hair

With all the sorry stories about Nigeria lately, it is uplifting seeing women taking care of business that is theirs.

I am quite pleased to read about the work of African Hair Summit, they are working to promote beauty of African hair amongst many other worthy objectives. I like that the event was well attended last year, this is going to open up long due conversations amongst women within Nigeria. 

As a mother of two girls, I often forget that the older my girls grow, the more assertive they  become so now they ask for reasons I don’t allow them to use relaxer. The relaxer question is easy to answer because it damages hair.

My girls are in primary school. I know that kids talk and ask one another questions they are curious about during playtime, so if a 10 year old was asked why she applied relaxer to her hair, what could she say to her mates that will not translate to ‘my hair is not good enough?’

Sometimes last week, I was trying to get my daughter ready for a school trip so I asked which hairstyle she’d like to do given it is a full week away. Out of nowhere, the girl flipped, for a moment I thought the spirit of Yemoja has entered. She was upset saying nothing she did ever worked.

She loves her hair, she says. Why is the outburst if hair is not the problem?

Background – the day before, we were talking about getting hair done, so she went online to get hair style inspiration. She liked this. She thinks the girl has the coolest parents ever to allow that hair style. I think the hairstyle looks cool too but I think it is more appropriate during summer holiday.

I have just realised that while my girls seem to agree when I give reasons they are not ready for some style yet, it is only temporary, every holiday we tend to go over the same topic all over again as there is always something new in town.

I am excited for this hair summit, and really hope that as time goes on there will be more interested people across the country. My girls are always quick to remind me of friends and family who allow their kids to have hair extension, then I have to explain that each family is different, I wore low cut throughout both primary and secondary years and most importantly hair politics in Nigeria is on a whole different level from the west.

I don’t want my girls’ hair to become the only point of reference. Even their dad was amazed to read all about black hair talk that now the only thing he has not learned is to braid.

By the way, now I am learning to hear the girl out so we meet in the middle. She likes Willow’s hair so we did cornrow to match – everyone is happy. She later told me she will be careful not to get hair wet, I don’t even know where she got that from so I said she is allowed to get her hair wet everyday, if friends are dunking their head in water, go ahead and do the same because it is fun, dry it off like everyone else.

She smiled and gave a big hug.

People seem to think mixed race kids don’t have black hair wahala, I laugh at this because being mixed race is even trickier as whatever they do or don’t do get measured against which part of them they are most proud of – silly world.

I am really pleased to see that there is growing enthusiasm around opening up conversations on our hair. Adults can and will continue to do whatever they are so pleased with their hair, having said that, children need avenue where they can learn more about their choices and to embrace what they have without having to drag other race into the conversation.

There is a hair event coming up in August organised by Curly Treats, I love this, we already know our hair is a big issue, it is our job to make it easier for coming generations. 

The clip here is from Nigeria African Hair Summit last year. It is nice to seen celebrities getting involved.

Deceit

“Would you like to hear a bizarre story?” A friend asks.

“Of course I love bizarre stories, who doesn’t”

The story goes that a lady is behind on her mortgage repayment. The bank had sent the last reminder letter. Now court is involved, she wants to appeal to see if she could be allowed a couple of months grace to sort out her finance issues.

The problem has been going on for a while, needs £10k to clear mortgage debt and must provide evidence to show she’s financially capable to get the payment going for the near future, otherwise her house is at stake. At the court a friend who was there to provide moral support decided to ask the mortgage lady a few questions just to understand what lead to this backlog. Mortgage lady lost her job and it has been taking too long to get something stable. She had £8k in savings reserved for occasions such as this, but somehow she lost the savings too.

Lost all savings? How?

When the mortgage lady was going through her challenges, she confided in her pastor. The pastor got closer and promised to help with job hunting so she wouldn’t have to lose her home.

The catch? She must provide £8k as payment for the work involved – the prayers, the fasting and the pleading to the village enemies back home.

At this point, I have heard enough. I have heard manipulators can be pretty hard to spot, but I could not stop asking why and how would anyone part ways with the only backup in such manner? Why not spend that to clear lion share of the debt?

Needless to say, she lost the house.

Case like this is sad as it is not at all easy to get on the property ladder in this country. And again, how can we better inform our people against scammers such as this man of God?

Another case that has been going around for a couple of months was the case of a guy who visited Nigeria in 2015 from the States. During his stay, he met a Babalawo (not unlike many pastors but with different tools and tend to be tribal) who promised to help him become rich. He is a cab driver in the States.

Kazeem, the cab driver claimed he paid ₦4M to Babalawo in total. Babalawo claimed he only received ₦380k. Bottom line was Kazeem several thousand naira out of pocket and still driving his cab. He would like his money refunded as the charm/potion has not worked.

Poor Babalawo now is being dragged about by Lagos police for failing to provide working get rich charm.

The case here is that Babalawo’s charm did not work as promised. If Babalawo was made to pay back what he had collected/jailed, would it be okay for Nigerians to ask all the prosperity preachers for a refund too? Just thinking out loud.

Good luck to Kazeem getting his refund in Lagos.

Humanising history

What a fresh breath of air listening to Prof Yemi Osinbajo views on Biafra. I especially like that he started by relating to his school mates who went home during the war and never came back.

He talked about how we are better and stronger together and capable of succeeding together if we put more emphasis on the rich diversities we all bring to the table as opposed to highlighting our differences.

Even if he is one of them. It feels so nice listening to someone representing the country speaking eloquently on the subject that many of our leaders have used endlessly to divide us.

I don’t remember learning a thing about Biafra in school. The first time I heard about it was from my mother describing how awful it was. Thankfully, now reading the accounts from books and the internet, I can see why people from that region can’t wait to leave Nigeria.

Then, again I share Prof Osinbajo’s views that separation is unlikely to benefit common people.

This same sentiment goes for all of our regions. Can northerners survive on their own?  Oh well, with Boko Haram and more than 5.8 million people needing food assistance in IDP camps across the northeast. In the same region, many public officials are on EFCC list for corruption, we’ve even seen one hiding raw cash in a safe tucked in a poor neighbourhood.

The answer is common people will continue to suffer.

Can we survive in the SW? Good question, let’s take Lagos out of the equation to see lives of common people in all of our states – from schools, hospitals to infrastructure, it is the same story from decades ago. We wouldn’t kill one another with guns if it is a collective struggle but we will definitely turn one another to zombies through too much grammar blowing off the roof.

By now, I think President Buhari can keep the title, I know a Nigerian president would never resign, not when he can still breathe, assisted or not. But at least, he is welcome to stay in London while Acting President mends the fragile relationships with kinder words.

The first two minutes of Prof Yemi Osinbajo is what Nigerians need to learn more of.