The debate over abortion and contraception in Africa

The unwritten rule that we need to agree with fellow Nigerian women or unlook and shake head when the argument do not have head or tail. Well, in the case of safe abortion and the need for more education on the use of contraception, I found Ms Obianuju Ekeocha points of view very interesting (let’s just put it that way).

Ms Ekeocha says Nigerian women do not need abortion/contraception, all that they want is food and safe drinking water. She argues that western countries subsiding contraception on the continent is Ideological Colonisation – learning everyday.

I saw a clip online somewhere of women with placards chanting they don’t need abortion or contraception backing Ms Ekeocha claims – unbelievable.

Ms Ekeocha lives in Ireland and is a devout Catholic –  that explains quite a lot. Even with that it is well known that hundreds of Irish travel to the UK and Europe every year for abortion due to various reasons. 

The irony of this is that while abortion is illegal in Nigeria, abortion is actually still accessible even in small towns, they carry high risk as they are performed in an unregulated environment so we have many unfortunate cases of needless deaths.

Wouldn’t it be great that we have safe and regulated clinics where people can go without intimidation?

Abortion tablets are readily available in Nigeria markets – people self medicate, many of these drugs on the market are generic and entered into the market through back doors without passing through drug regulating body, NAFDAC.

My niece’s roommate was only 17 when she got pregnant in the university, she bled for days before she was persuaded to go home so her parents could look after her. My niece knew it was abortion because the drug sachet bought from a chemist was found in a bin.

A good friend of mine at 23 also took abortion tablets that was readily available on the market, she nearly lost her life. She stayed at the hospital for over a year as the drug did a lot of damage to her internally. She was survived but lost her hearing and started limping afterwards.

Wouldn’t it be great if abortion tablets can only be bought in medical outlets that are monitored?

The argument about western imposing their ideals of contraception on us Africans does not add up. Does that mean that a married woman can only be intimate with their husband/partner to procreate? Even when people preach abstinence, what we have on our streets is a good indicator of what has happened behind doors.

Talking about side effects of IUD, Implanon and other contraception methods – sure, which drug doesn’t come with likely side effect warnings? Isn’t this why we have so many options so people can choose what works best for them.

Admittedly, contraceptive options in Nigeria are quite few, some are not tested properly – if we have a problem with options presented by the west, why can’t we invest in research to determine the best for our people.

Isn’t the purpose of abortion/contraception to prevent unwanted births? Why would anyone want to live in a world where women are forced to carry to terms pregnancies they do not want?

Abandoning children because of disability or accusation of witchcraft is not unusual in the south of Nigeria, some as young as 2 years old. If we are a country with such a moral high responsibility to populated the world, why do we have communities alienating their children once they had them?

Interesting also is the fact that the argument is all about why we must having children especially in a country where fathers are allowed to walk away with no one imposing child support on them – where is the child’s right?

On the safe side

We are nearly there.

We had Brexit. The school mock election provides the girls with a little taste of what real life leadership selection is like. Then we had to deal with The Donald, I remember my 10 year old was concerned for the Mexicans and how it will be too tough for them if they were made to pay for the wall. I said to her that politicians say quite a lot of unbelievable things when they hunt for votes. Time will tell and we will all be alright in the end.

Here we are here now,  I find school mock election quite interesting, I didn’t know school children do this. Most of what the girls know about politics is what they learn from school so they get home seeking definitive answers to some questions – well, real life isn’t that clear cut.

Thankfully, mock election gives a taste of how the process works and how people learn to live with whoever wins even if not their choice.

Year six students were divided into groups to represent all political parties. Children cast their votes based on presentations. For my 8 year old, personality and policies are equally important – not voting for any boring politician.

Yeap, she casts her vote for Monster Raving Loony Party and here’s why:

Green Party: Their presentation is too long, and they say too many greens.

Labour: Not that bad, but one of the presenters had to read from a book, didn’t prepare ahead.

Tory: Too boastful. (this reminds her of weeks leading up to Brexix) so not impressed.

Monster Raving Loony Party? They are happy people with colourful outfits, made everyone laugh so she is won over.

She has seen quite a lot of people arguing on Labour/Conservatives, so her stance was why vote for people who keep talking over each other while being funny and happy is an option.

She chose the safe side, how many adults does the same thing only to regret a week later?

Her sister is a polar opposite on this, she wants to talk about who has the best policy on education, especially secondary school. She is not affected but aware of 11+ exams for grammar school and how a friend still didn’t get in after preparing hard for exams – no MRLP for this one.

I had a chance to talk to a friend whose child is about my girls’ age. Her school is closed for election. I asked her if she were to participate in the mock election, who she would vote for? She would vote for a party that promised free lunch for schools.

Then I said which one would she prefer, free lunch with limited choice or mommy and daddy to get more money for the value they bring to their work which in turn means she has cash to choose whatever she likes to spend her lunch money on?

While she was nodding along, I told her to relax but we must learn to cast our votes not just for bread alone.

I have done my civic duty by post last weekend, in the morning we will know where we are. The good news is that whoever wins, the UK is not likely to be discussing about Russians interference in six months.

I find this School of Life views on democratic voting system food for thought.

 

 

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.

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.

 

Education inequality due to lack of funding

Sometimes last week I read about a group of Nigerian students stranded in different parts of the world because the government has not been up to date with tuition and living expenses payments. The students, as always reached out to Nigerians online home and diaspora to echo their voices.

This is not new, last year a group of students studying in UAE were recalled as the state responsible for the scholarship could not keep up with the costs.

Firstly, I emphasise with students in this situation. I wish them all well and hope the government would listen and do the needful.

Sometimes stating the obvious is the least that we want to hear, however, many of the promises (some blatantly ignorant) that Nigeria government made a few years ago were based on oil prices so now almost everything and everyone is affected as the prices has gone down significantly. The only people that still in the bubble are the government officials.

That is for study abroad students.

For home students, who is looking after the interests of millions who are ready to learn but were left unattended to?

The other day, a friend ranted endlessly about the state of LAUTECH and the fact that the school on no lecture. Both Osun and Oyo are supposed to sort out maintenance of the institution – the school is not free by the way, state university tuition is still higher than most of our federal universities.

In January Governor Ajimobi of Oyo got backlashed after addressing students with disdain attitude in public. A week later in February, there were news saying students are now back in school after 8 months strike orchestrated by unpaid lecturers’ salaries. They were only back to write 2015/2016 first semester exams. Lecturers were not happy enough with the settlement received in February as they are still being owed 5 months salary so the school is back to no activity after exam.

Being enlightened and educated is one thing that we like to talk about in the SW, but sometimes I wonder who have we been educating for 2 decades with public schools in terrible state.

Our governors are happy to spend hours unending to recite same story on Obafemi Awolowo and his education policies but yet, public education don’t get necessary funding in the same region.

LAUTECH has a teaching hospital too, the story is the same. Workers protest half salary that started last year. I have a friend with three children whose husband works at this hospital, she has a side hustle of a grocery shop to supplement her teaching wage. Even with that it is hand to mouth.

Yoruba elders especially love to remind us how much being older means they know all.

Bola Tinubu is the Chancellor of the school. As far as politics goes in the SW, whether we admit it or not, he is very powerful. Yet, I don’t see him getting involved in this.

Governor Aregbesola is arguably the best governor Osun has ever had in terms of restructuring public education. From what I have heard, he is the least bothered about the strike of LAUTECH lecturers, does it make sense to continue with many projects, most of which are on credit which all of us are going to eventually pay for and yet finds no money to pay existing workers?

Same goes for Governor Ajimobi of Oyo – why do our governors find it easy to unite on endless Owambe events but yet can’t see the damage being done to future of the country when adult students spend more time to protest strike on the streets than they do in classroom?

I hear they plan to reduce the workforce. Then go ahead. Pay staff owed salaries and let them go. Everyone will be alright in the end.

No point talking about the former president Baba Obasanjo, he doesn’t care about anyone at all, also the fact that he too owns a private university so no incentive to care for children of unimportant people – being a two-time president is a lucrative venture in Nigeria.

So when are we going to learn? Good luck to LAUTECH students and shame on Aregbesola, Ajimobi and all Yoruba elders who are indifference to the plights of these students.

Why do I relate home school to the study abroad students? Their stories is similar now. Imagine if all these money were spent on providing quality education at home, perhaps w’ll be a bit better off.

Now both home and abroad suffer the same fate of government neglect.

A Nigerian Aunty

Rape is a serious case in Nigeria but we seldom talk about it, victims don’t report due to costs of involving the police or even the fact that victims likely to be shamed for reporting.

Mrs Michale Matthew in Lagos is one of those aunties that we all need close to us. The kind of aunty who perhaps have read enough about rape to know that preventing it happening is the best gift one can give to young girls. She bravely stopped a group of secondary school boys from raping their female classmates in broad day light.

The story goes that Mrs Matthew was just leaving her office with her son while she noticed the commotion around her workplace, after enquiry she was told that the group were there making noise ready to take turns raping their mates in broad day light – where is the pride in that?

Mrs Matthew being a good Naija Aunty could not bear the thought of just ‘minding her own business’ because as I also believe, it is all our business to set good example. Anyway, she was appalled to see school kids just finishing their final exams breaking laws with no concern about possibility of any consequences – those who were not participating are busy filming the ‘show’.

In the articlewe can see the girl’s skirt already torn. Apparently, this rape has been going on for a while as of right of passage after final exam. 

Not only did Mrs Matthew foiled this criminal act, she also led the girls to the bus stop so they are safe to return home. She also collected enough information about these guys, follows through with reporting them to the police.

A few of the boys have now been arrested and are helping to smoke out others. The original post on this incidence as narrated by Mrs Mathew is something that would make any parent shiver a little. While she was helping these girls, her own son was there witnessing her mother, going out of her way to prevent violence and rape – what a great way to show by example.

Rape in schools is not limited to Lagos alone, it is in all of our regions. A couple of weeks ago, an Osun University student was boasting about raping his female friend because she ‘wouldn’t let him’. A few people talked about this online but I doubt any arrest was made.

As citizens with no real power, we can only report and echo one another’s voices, it is the job of officials to investigate and bring criminals to book, if we ever want to see end to violence against women in our society.

Since Nigerians now celebrate both UK and USA Mother’s Day, the more the merrier I suppose –  this is to Mrs Matthew for her courage and for being a good Nigerian Aunty!

Final resting place

In diaspora, I have seen different ways in which people choose the last resting place for their loved ones.

A few years a go, an elder man who had lived in the UK for about 50 years went back home for a visit. He was from my town. During his trip, he fell ill and passed away, the man was said to be in his late 70s. His children were not very familiar with home so they made an arrangement for their father’s corpse to be repatriated back to the UK for burial. He had pre-existing health condition known to his family so paperwork was easy to sort out.

This incident was a new twist to the popular way in which I heard many Africans  especially first generation immigrants in the UK deal with deceased family members.

The ones I have heard is people in diaspora sending corpse of parents back home for final burial. This BBC article shows how trendy repatriation of corpse amongst Africans.

In this article, a Ghanaian had to crowd fund in order to afford the costs to send his uncle’s body back home, he did so due to family pressure.

Another lady said she had to bow to family pressure of repatriating her husband’s corpse to Zimbabwe, even when she knew it would’ve been better to bury him in the UK where she could visit graveyard as often as she is pleased.

News of Nigerians taking body of family members to be buried back home is quite common here in the UK, many people prefer it that way.

Then I think about home where significant number of people have left their villages and small towns to settle in the city. How do these people deal with the corpse of loved ones? Were they buried where they had worked and have homes or do they insist on taking the corpse back to the village where only few (if lucky) remember them?

Looking at a few examples, different patterns emerge. My mom’s younger brother settled in Lagos in the 70s on his return back from schooling in Canada (good old days when jobs await returnees) so decided Lagos was the place to put his root.

So when he passed away a few years ago, the children and his widow decided Lagos is the most appropriate place to bury their father and husband, it is the place he had his home and had raised his family. Extended family from home with no question asked were happy to make the trip to Lagos for the final burial and Owambe.

In other words, people in Nigeria often have no problem being buried in Lagos state even when they see other state as their ancestral home. This is likely to be true for the Yorubas.

Conversely, a few months ago, my sister’s mother inlaw passed away. She was in her mid 90s. When I asked my brother inlaw where his mother will be buried, he said ‘home’. ‘Where is home?’ I asked.

The ‘home’ that his mother wanted to be buried at was not Ife the town she has lived at for 70 years, definitely not Lagos the place she died at and not even her husband’s town. Her wish was to be buried in her birth town infront of her house. The wish that her children honoured.

Beliefs around burial and final resting place is fascinating. Everyone seems to have strong opinion to support beliefs they hold dear.

No, I am not dying but I found this topic very interesting and a lot less depressing than Nigeria politics of these days.

Women and family structure

During 2014 National Conference divorce rate in the country was one of the many serious issues brought to light. Attention at the time was mainly on the northern city of Kano where divorce rate is the highest however, from what I notice in the south customary courts, we are catching up fast following similar pattern.

Take for example the case of Mr Alaba Aigbe, a 65 year old who recently divorced his wife at Agodi customary court on the grounds that she was an adulterer and a witch.

Reading through the press release, the couple had seven children. Adultery issue came about when Mr Aigbe was away for a year to work in a different town. Mrs Aigbe had an affair with the husband’s typist.

Fair enough if the union had run its course due to breakdown in trust and mutual respect.

Here is the pitiful bits:

“In his judgment, Chief Mukaila Balogun, the president of the court, dissolved the marriage and ordered the complainant to pay N17,000 to the defendant for her to pack her load.”

After 38 years of marriage, the couple likely to have built their wealth (house, and other assets) together, the only thing the wife got out was ₦17k to move her belongings?

And:

“Balogun further directed that the defendant should take custody of the seventh child while the husband should pay her N5000 monthly allowance or the upkeep of the child.”

With the little information presented, it seems their seventh child is the baby of the family and perhaps in secondary school. How on earth did Chief Balogun arrive on ₦5k monthly upkeep in a city like Ibadan?

I bet Chief Balogun has a wealth of experience in this matter. However, I think this is grossly unfair that after 38 years of building a life together, Mrs Aigbe was made to leave with nothing from the life she helped build.

 

The second example was that of a civil servant in Lagos who wanted out of the marriage because, in his own words,  “… wife wants to kill me with children; she is bearing them like rats.”

The couple has six children during 9 years of marriage, he did not trust his wife would get family planning sorted so he wants a divorce.

Is that even a plausible reason to seek for a divorce?

Glory did not appear in court two days ago so case postponed to two weeks’ time.

Given that the six children are all under nine years old, the wife likely to be awarded custody of them all. Who is moving out of the family house? If I were to speculate based on the way things work at home, Glory likely to end up renting a house or move back to her parents’ while the husband stays in the family home.

I hope the court’s president turns down Mr Ayinde’s request. And if the court must grant his wishes, he should be the one to move out of the house and not Glory.

How about if customary courts pay a bit more attention to the children of the divorced couples, then make decisions with care of the kids as priority.

This kind of judgement is a wishful thinking, but fair to me.

On the surface in Nigeria we tend to focus on the north alone as the place that needs serious reforms in terms of children wandering about with no real parental support – this is true, no doubt.  However with the frequent ease of granting divorce in the south without setting out terms that include adequate provision for the children, I can’t stop thinking that our customary courts are mirror image of what has been perfected in the north – wife left alone to cater for children when men stay in the family house and sought for a new mate. Another cycle begins.

According to Nigeria HealthWatch, in Urban Nigeria amongst educated ones such as Ayinde in the south we still have average birth rate of 4.7 per woman – national average is 5.67 – All of these numbers are too high in this age. We are a living testimony to the fact that uncontrolled population brings more misery than joy.

Easy access to family planning and education work.

This to me is one of the many reasons we need Gender Bill to be passed into the law so children of the divorced don’t automatically becomes the load women alone have to bear – good for the family and society in the long run.

When discipline in schools goes too far

Is there a need to reassess discipline in Nigeria schools? I think so.

During a conversation a few months ago, my sister mentioned my nephew was slapped at school where he is doing his A Levels. My nephew called his mother immediately after he was slapped by the housemaster because he thought it was uncalled for. My inlaw called the school to hear the other side of the story, the school administrator’s explanation was as my nephew had stated, the case was left hanging – not much of apology, more of emphasis on what the boy did wrong. He was home for a week holiday and still could feel the pain three days after the incident that requires pain relief.

My sister was not happy but didn’t want to call the school because exams is coming up. Nephew is fine, however there was a need to clear the air.

I was curious to know what my nephew did to deserve a slap, the type we call ‘dirty slap’ in Nigeria. The explanation given to my mind is just too flimsy for the punishment given.

So I called the school.

According to the school administrator, the story goes that there was a problem that needs resolving at the hostel so boarders were called to come downstairs for a meeting. My nephew was the last one to get downstairs, this angered the housemaster hence the slap.

The school did nothing to hear the boy’s side of the story or provide comfort, instead she was comparing my nephew with his cousin who is ‘well behaved girl’.

Here I cut in. ‘foot dragging?’ I continue to let the lady understand how absurd it sounds that a post secondary school establishment could not find better ways to make students in their care adjust their behaviour without resorting to violence.

The lady tried so hard to defend the housemaster’s attitude. Then I cited a few examples within the region where students have been put through needless sufferings due to adults’ temper. She was able to see my points. She apologised and said the case has been resolved.

If a child was slapped and still feels the pain a couple of days later, suppose he has permanent damage to his eardrum, should he just live with that? My sister was perfectly happy for her son to stay at home to redo his JAMB this year. I was the one who went out of my way to convince ‘sell’ an A levels – god forbid anything happens, my name is on the line.

With this in mind, I decided to call the school owner/director just to be sure my message was taken. He was aware of the case. He said the housemaster was new ands with them temporarily. I told the owner of my disappointment of them using physical violence towards A levels students. I made known to him that if in the near future my nephew has any problem with his ear on the side he was slapped, he should be prepared that we are coming after him.

He apologised in a way that I feel he meant it. I was pleased.

Initially, I did not want to make these calls as I don’t want my nephew isolated, then I realised this is the same reason kids get ill-treated in our schools. We seldom report serious issue at the onset and often leave things until it get way out of hand.

While I was thinking of my 17 year old nephew. My mind went to a 14 year old girl in the same city who was slapped by the school secretary a couple of years ago. The girl’s eye literally popped out of the socket. Sadly she passed away due to infection on the eye and lack of proper care immediately after the incident. We didn’t hear anything about this secretary, not in the press at least.

We are not in shortage of horror stories due to corporal punishment in Nigeria schools. Another girl was blinded by a school teacher  with cane for being late to school in Kaduna in February.

These are a few we hear about, those that were bullied to silence are unaccounted for.

How do we get schools and teachers to think about consequences of their behaviour – well, parents need to share stories such as these so we all can help get more attention to dangerous and unwanted treatment of students in schools.

As Nigeria goes, assault in schools can happen to just about anyone.

My nephew is totally fine. Housemaster moved to a different hostel, which I think is amusing. I hope he has learned better ways to vent his frustration.

Summertime traditions to avoid

This time of the year there are always news articles about FGM informing the public about Africans travelling back home and how some people use this time to catch up with traditions of FGM and labia pulling. Part of this is to give young girls a voice that it is okay to say no to harmful practices that involves their body, also to remind adults about laws of host country.

I read an article about the practise of FGM in Nigeria last year that was quite revealing. What was a bit concerning was that apparently Osun state has the highest prevalence of FGM in Nigeria, and was said to be 76% prevalence – how can that be?

I know that people still practice FGM and that it is beyond religious beliefs or traditions. I grew up thinking there was only one form of FGM. We call it circumcision, my understanding was that it has to do with religion.

Now I know better that not only did circumcision not tied to religion but also that different forms are being practised and with one common goal – stop women from being promiscuous.

We now know this myth is untrue, hence we need more women, courageous women like the women I use here to tell their stories for awareness.

I don’t know anyone personally that was traumatised by FGM because it is usually done within 40 days of birth and usually without children around. If memory serves right it is more like incision or a small cut so they get blood out of the area – either way it is pointless pain.

Reading a story such as this woman, from Swansea is an eye opener. She is from Benin City, she was cut as a baby which is the practice that I once thought was the norm in Nigeria south. However, she said she witnessed all her younger siblings being cut, she talked about witnessing her seven-year old sister being cut at 12 – that is truly traumatic. I know this because I witnessed a 11 year old being cut at Garage Olode in 1992 and I can see why that memory can be quite disturbing.

Here is the twist in this story, she says that intercourse was a painful experience for her both during and after the act. She was unable to give birth naturally and had to have c-section with the birth of her three children – sounds like a torture.

I wish BBC gives more details of the type of FGM she had. At least to enlighten more people.

About my state of Osun, while I do not believe the 76% of prevalence across the state I know that a few town practice this religiously. It was a relief to read that fourteen communities were identified by the state as the place where FGM is in full swing. To eradicate harmful practices like this one, women must lead and throw away shame, knowing that we are shaping the future, so I am glad to read that Mrs Sherif Aregbesola was also in full support and talking openly about it.

Another form of FGM is labia pulling. The UK government is classifying labia pulling as another form of FGM because children involved are forced into it with narratives too complex for their age.

The first time I heard about labia elongation was a couple of years ago. I was excited but not for the reason that those who clicked on that post thought. The post is still the most read on my blog, this just shows how desperate people are to learn about the subject we shy away from.

Learning about African sex and sexuality is exciting because we seldom hear anything. The whole labia pulling was not the most interesting thing for me but the reasoning behind it, although the large part of it was about satisfying men but there are emphasis on the woman’s pleasure as well.

The obvious negative with labia pulling is that it is forced on children at a very early age when they thought adults around them know best.

Here is the other side of labia pulling that I am learning for the first time. The lady in the video below at 1:23 talks about girls using strings to pull their labia for quicker result and during the process, sometimes the flesh pulled with the string. Ouch! This is enough to make any young person goes deep into low self esteem.

Why is the UK getting Africans who have experienced both FGM and labia pulling to share their stories especially traumatic ones? If you live in the UK, it means the government/other tax payers are picking up the tabs of costs associated with these old practices for no good reason.

We can do our bits to take a closer look at what we see as traditions and make informed decision.

Bonding and building trust

Time flies by so fast that things that seem so far away at one point are now past event.

My girls school from year three have one residential trip per year. We have all being looking forward to these. Many things that we have to do are as new to me as they are for the girls. School trips are something that always excite me, more so for overnight school trips. Kids will have loads of fun bonding with mates, learn and build trust with other people different from their parents.

When Yeye first went to an overnight school trip, 2 days and a night. The school was awesome in providing detailed information on activities. She and her friends had fun.

Year after, it was 2 nights – the build up over the last three years has been fantastic, each time they were away was a great opportunity to bond with year group, adults around and learn new things.

I did not have this kind of experience growing up, not even in secondary school let alone primary school so it is such a big deal. There are so many reasons why this was not something that is on offer for students in my primary school. Funding is an obvious one but beyond that, is lack of trust.

I had one school trip in my secondary school. It was a trip to Alawode Factory on Famia Road, maybe there was a proper name for this factory but the owner’s name was Alawode. We went there to see people making furniture. What I remember from that trip was walking up the road and vague memory of heavy machines. Nonetheless, it was my very own excursion experience. That said factory now is no more.

My dear Nigeria, upholding positive reputation can only be good for us all.

This year my girls for the first time went on an oversea ski trip with the school mates. We have signed up since last year, we were all excited. All our concerns were addressed by the school.

The school was brilliant, got kids to call every evening (well almost), but we do get pictures of the day’s activities on the school hub so even the day that they didn’t call, one could tell that they were definitely up on the mountain earlier in the day having fun.

I knew I wasn’t going to get all the information about the whole trip in one day so I didn’t even try so was just happy to see them back home.

Valuable lesson of parenting that I have learnt over the past years, If I wanted to learn more about a sleepover or overnight school trip especially the ones that was fun-packed, patient is the key otherwise all I would get is be ‘great’ or ‘fun’.

Takes time but now I know that they both enjoyed every moment of this trip. This is the longest overnight school trip  for both. Five nights were just about right for their age. They both said this is the best trip ever because they feel like they bonded well with mates who are in different classes and age group – they were paired together with girls who are in different classes from theirs for sleeping arrangement which I think was fantastic as they learn more about one another and likely to play more together now. They even learned the act of persuasion – getting the only German-speaking girl in the group to translate a TV show – how cool is that?

What to do about Arungún?

Intriguing the way we deal with social issues in Nigeria.

To get a glimpse of what is going on in the southwest, we read news coming out of Lagos which usually can be representative to an extent, however there are some issues specific to a few towns within Yorubaland that never received proper attention that it deserves.

Arungún (vandals), in most cases are people who have nothing to lose and not afraid of destroying what others have worked hard to create.

This post is about last Friday street fight between Asipa and Ipetumodu guys that lead to destruction of some of Akinola Market stalls.

To be clear, within Ife Central, Ife North, Ife South, Ife East and Ayedaade, if any, there are few people whose families are not stretched across towns. Even if one has no family relations in another town, we share villages and local markets so really disputes over borders should not come to people destroying properties they’ve worked hard for.

For example, in my village we have people from Ode Omu, Gbongan, Ipetumodu and of course God’s own town, Modakeke. We share ààlà (borders) that have been established from long time ago, people have learnt to respect each other’s boundaries so why can’t same wisdom apply today?

Like many countries of the world, increasing population growth presents real challenges for people in the rural areas because most people are farmers, it means more people are competing for limited resources – land. The land that used to be enough for a few people has now become a tussle amongst many.

My point here is that how could people have managed to live in peace with one another in our villages and small towns but can not seem to find a civilised way of settling border disputes or trace history to identify rightful owner?

When I was little, disputes over land boundaries and land ownership are what formed significant part of my childhood memories. I know elders have their explanations but I have seen enough of property destruction border disputes can cause, I see no explanation good enough to allow destruction of properties to continue over border disputes – there are better ways and we can surely adjust our thinking to find amicable solutions.

No society can develop if knocking people who have no other source of income over down to their knees every other year is what neighbourhood gangs specialise in.

Again on vandalism at Oja Akinola last week Friday where market stalls were damaged are stalls owned by people from local villages and towns, others bring wholesale goods from the city so people need not travel far from home. Akinola Market is where a few people I know buy their bulk food stuff.

Maybe fight after a football match is not unheard of but why do they have to destroy market stalls? Why can’t we be excited to see progress? Ha, awon arungún.

Vandalism should be made a punishable crime. I can’t say either of the town is my town but I see a developing pattern that I am well too familiar with which should not be ignored.

I could never understand why a fight after a friendly match between two communities – Asipa and Ipetumodu guys escalated to stabbing one another, gun shots to destroying market stalls.

It is only in Nigeria that we think this should be understandable because of unemployment and poverty. If you are poor, one thing that gets drilled into the psyche is to protect the little you have. Poor people keep their head low and don’t destroy the little glory in their neighbourhoods.

I am glad to hear that the state governor has made some arrests and promise to get to the root of the problem between the two communities.

After all the damages, the reason provided had nothing to do with the football match, disputes over  market owner was cited as the cause. This is just not good.

The issue remains the same as it was in 2015, if going by experience, I bet most of the buildings destroyed over a year ago are still there.

I hope that elders and government will work together and settle this once and for all. We have history, land disputes don’t go away on its own. Arungún will always use this as excuses to cause further damage which is unfair to local people and a big deterrent to any meaningful investment.

I am so happy to read from many young people from the area who want nothing but peace in both towns. O ti se se.