Wednesday, 9 August 2017

LS1 - On Half Tank

Every morning as soon as I hit the road I close my eyes briefly to pray. A much specific, different kind of prayer from the morning 4 a.m./5-ish general prayer. This time I cast and bind reckless okada 'motorcycle' riders and the unavoidable danfo 'yellow' bus drivers who are and will remain the king of Lagos roads, regardless of what Governor Ambode does.

In fact I have 3 critical spots where my heartsong and whisper to Baba God is loudest. Make that 6. First would be CLIMBING the Ojuelegba bridge with steady hands. Second would be MAINTAINING a single parallel lane on the entire stretch of that bridge. Third would be CLIMBING the Kalakuta bridge otherwise known as Mosholashi bridge; you know that one connecting Fadeyi bus stop. And fourth would be what? You guessed right! MAINTAINING a single parallel lane on that bridge, without wavering at the sight and sound of all cars, trucks and tankers (As a driver and as a 'drivee' passenger, my fear for tankers, trucks - all huge vehicles is extreme). Fifth critical prayer spot would be that Ikeja computer village bridge. Goodness me! The white and black, zebra-like pattern on the culvert makes me dizzy and lose focus. I almost rammed into it on a return drive from the office…

Let me hold the last tightly to my chest before you figure out my commute to work J

Anyway so I set out this morning ready to begin my ritual. Normally I would drive through service lane once I burst out from Stadium and link the Ojuelegba bridge after Barracks because I don’t have enough liver to join the express drivers descending Stadium bridge. Today was no different except for one major glitch, TRAFFIC!!! I suppose it is inevitable to live in Lagos and not be held still in one. That Barracks area in particular has gained some notoriety in press. It almost always makes headline with news of one tanker toppling over or something as strange and depressing.

This morning I faced that dread on half tank! AC off because I had no idea how long it was going to take to ease. Windows all up because of fear of being attacked and smartly robbed, yes I have heard it happen in broad daylight. I put my mind to work as we all waited. I thought of all the things my instructor taught me about defensive driving. Could I apply any? Imagine being sandwiched between a long truck and a BRT bus, not knowing which lane to fall into. No shakara on Lagos road mehn. No ‘headstronging’ anywhere. Using your trafficator light won’t cut it for you. You have to look meekly into their eyes - that always paves way. Eyeball to eyeball ‘lo le se’ (only direct eye contact can do it). I wound my glass down, just a bit and begged oga truck driver to let me take position in front of him. A mistake? With every small movement I would feel the truck drag behind me and shake the very core of the ground we drove on. Everything was vibrating. The bridge. My car. My legs. Any small move, tanker will follow. I was tempted to wave at oga tanker driver to keep his distance as we neared a slope. I mean it wasn’t exactly gridlock but switching lanes was impossible! At that moment when oga tanker climbed the slope in preparation to descend, I unhooked my seat belt, unlocked the doors and remained alert…well you can imagine why.

The first breather I got, I switched lanes straight up.

After wasting precious time and battling emotions in traffic(conflicting emotions like if I should park somewhere and jump bus to work or if I should randomly pick up someone who could drive at the bus stop), my DH has agreed and promised to show me an alternate route so wisdom will be profitable to direct me next time.



Till my next #LearnerSeries XoXo

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Faces and Phases

I once wrote a letter to my father; it was the heyday of postal service when we could trust the swift power of multiple stamps.

I remember how, weeks before that day, I had suffered sleepless nights trying to summon courage to pen my thoughts. My father would receive the letter, as I later heard, in the company of his friends where he also chose to read aloud the carefully sealed letter from the first fruit of his loins.



The letter read:

Dear Father,

******************
Home had become war zone. Shouting bouts and words match. My father would rain “thick” abuses and my mother would retaliate with heavier insults. Wanting to remain unscathed, she would add some good measure of jeering and name-calling of all his ancestors, clapping her hands in demonstration. Sometimes it was funny to watch because, hours before the verbal onslaught, my father would proudly parade my mother to the envy of his friends; praising her culinary skills to the hearing of all that were near. He would even invite neighbors three houses down the street to come sit and merry on the current feast.

Father was such a talker. He would at every gathering recount how he chased my mother while teaching at Townsville Grammar School, somewhere on the outer border of Ijaiye in Abeokuta. “She was just a little downtown girl,” he would say…” but a very beautiful one as you all can attest to”.

“Folake,” my father bellowed, “Isn’t the egusi and eba ready to be served? My jolly friends are salivating already”.

“I am about serving my king,” she called out in response

“Salewa, come quickly. Carry these basins of water to your father and his friends. Be careful to set them properly on the wooden stools without spilling,” my mother warned, handing over the large tray to me.

As soon as father saw me approach them in the veranda, he reached for his belt buckle to release the pent-up space in readiness for the heavy sumptuous meal that was soon to follow. Bowing my head and slightly bending my knees as was customary, I set the four bowls on the stools as directed; one wash-hand basin for each man.

From the kitchen, while we washed the pots and other cooking utensils, I heard my father belch aloud. I could almost picture him rubbing his rotund belly and imagined Baba Wale, our neighbor who lived in the same compound with us doing same – he strived to follow my father’s every step. The meals always turned out good as in truth my 'mother could cook for Africa' and this meal was no exception. My father even held her in his arms for a while, playfully pushing aside her wrapper to gain thigh access while his head rested on her ample bosom as a sign of satisfaction and appreciation.

It was a big surprise then later that night when things took an ugly turn as my father threw the carefully hidden cutlass saved for armed-robbers at my mother. I had thought this fight would end in their usual five-minutes-verbal-sparring but no, the witches on duty that night had fiercer powers. That was the beginning of my nightmares. In the dead of the night, my two sisters and I huddled in one corner of the parlor praying to God that Baba Wale would come to mother’s rescue. Baba Wale never came. We crouched in the corner scared of father’s fury and unable to save mother from that burning fury. That night he beat her black and blue. The cause? I’ll never know till this day.

Father would go on to play romance in the day, throwing effusive praises on mother and become a beast at night. One would think a certain demon had been unleashed from the deepest part of hell! To the beatings he added drinking to stupor. Weekends when my own friend came around to study with me, he would come in, in his drunken state ordering me to get his shoes put aside and his toes s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d, according to him.

“Salewa, come here you good-for-nothing daughter of this illiterate poor excuse of a wife,” he would say, “take these shoes inside for me before I spank you. How dare you look to my face you little filth?”

Embarrassed at the turn of things I discouraged my friend from visiting. Too ashamed to keep my head high in school, I pleaded for transfer to another school through one of my teachers. He had spoken to my father to allow me enroll in another school out of town on the basis that the school rated high in the West African Examination Council state performance. There I was to spend 3 terms and live in the midst of other boys and girls. There I would come to see and hear how glowingly they spoke of their daddies. There I would also read and learn all the big grammar I could use as weapon to break my father’s spirit, or so I thought.


Dear Father, I had written.
With a thumping heart and trembling hands, I find the courage to write you. You are not the father I know or thought I knew. You are far from the father I hoped for – something really gigantically drastic has changed inside of you. I watch my classmates and listen to how they converse freely about their fathers, without loathe. Dread fills me every time one of them turns in my direction to hear me talk. What good thing is there to say about you truly? What imitable, enviable characters do you portray worthy enough to be shared?? How you display your manliness hitting your own wife and spewing venom? How you parade the joints leaving stench in your wake? The devious father, who cleverly disguises his ferocious fangs in the day only to unleash wicked words in the nighttime? Only a weak-willed man instills fear in another, not to talk of his own blood; children at impressionable age. You, dear father, are the hideous creature of pure disgrace. You have morphed into this beast-like form; a killer of joy and respect and I dare to pronounce to the entire world, YOU ARE EVIL!

He had driven to see me some few days after to forcefully withdraw me out of school.

“If this is what they teach you in school Salewa, to humiliate your elders especially your father, I will show you today”. He had dragged me by the ears, pulling my lips as if to destroy my wayward mouth, pushing me into the back seat of his Peugeot 504.

That night, I caught a full view of heaven and hell only I wasn’t allowed in, in either of them.

All pleas to let me return to school fell on deaf ears. His most beloved brother and a few other relatives had tried, hammering on how I am but a child, still he would not budge. I was so close to starting my Biology practicals but father was adamant on my punishment – I was to live with and care for his mother, my grandmother who suffered chronic arthritis and bed sore.

My mother would come to hate me because somehow my foolishness and boldness had toppled the state of things in the house. The issue had weighed heavily on father's mind, he almost sent her packing.

But then we would come to sit together again, each taking responsibilities for grave human errors that could have been easily avoided.








Writer’s note - I missed my deadline. Happy Fathers’ Day nonetheless.

'Mother could cook for Africa' - This slang is Nigerian depicting how vast and adept one is at doing things. Any verb will suffice in place of cook.  

Image source - Silhouette Design Store

Thursday, 16 June 2016

What's with the cut?

France versus Albania - Euro 2016

Been wanting to show-off my brogues *-*

Home early, just in time for the face-off between France and Albania. I was happy to slouch on the couch ready to enjoy an evening watching the host nation slug it out with Albania in the group play. After the usual hand shaking and this time some sixty seconds silence observance in respect of a murdered French policeman with his wife, the line-up was shown. Before then, when the players and officials assumed the pose for the customary anthem, I remember looking them over. I remember making a snide remark about Nigeria's Super Eagles not being as cute. I remember recognizing Patrice Evra and feeling the sense of pride that I hadn't lost touch after all - been inconsistent with following football but I still know my people. Sadly, his was the only face that registered.

Then the line-up list of France flashed across my TV screen. Bacary Sagna's name jumped out! Of course I know Sagna (wella in fact) but I DID NOT SEE HIM DURING THE ANTHEM RECITAL!!! If I am naturally inclined to betting, at that moment I would have dropped my last million dollars arguing over Sagna's presence on the pitch. I mean where was his eye-catching trademark dreadlocks? What's with the cut Sagna?

Sagna was on the pitch alright only his unmistakable locs had suffered some terrible fate :(

One could argue he looks perfectly responsible sporting a low but this is not the 'Sagna-brand' I know. A total emotional disconnect. No face recall whatsoever. The change wasn't even subtle!

Now you'll probably understand why negative reactions trail companies' sudden decisions to change brand names/logos. It is a different thing when modification occurs with product packaging/content (all these still have their down sides) but a total name change or logo overhaul? Are you Google? Even Google, as strong as its gravitational pull is still put out a video to the public to explain and justify reasons for such logo redesign. Consumers are wary of change no doubt but where there is a shared thought process, negative reaction is quelled.

Re-branding is a very radical decision which signifies the end of a brand; like a full stop to what used to be. Equity will be lost and all prior investment gone. Making this sort of decision should be because the brand CANNOT continue as is because it probably has a negative equity. To re-brand would then mean to offer a completely re-engineered brand. It is more of a re-definition; a re-position or a re-start. Are there pointers that your brand needs an overhaul?  Is the branding outdated? Have your products or services changed? You are not reaching your target audience or you are simply preparing for growth?

I read an article by Mark Sommer who proposed four critical questions that should be asked and carefully weighed before going this route...
  • Why are we proposing change? What are we looking to stop? What are we looking to start or gain? Critical brand decisions need to be underpinned by robust investigations of cause and effect.
  • What should our customers look to us for – and can we deliver that, or improve on that, in our current form? This is about quantifying what is possible within the brand structure that you have and what lies outside/beyond the current core.
  • What will we be able to do as a result of this change that we have never been able to do up until now – and how do we know that? It’s one thing to see the possibilities, it’s quite another to realize them. This is about making sure that the logistics of what you can deliver will marry with the brand changes you are proposing.
  • If we took a more/less radical approach, what would we gain/lose – and would that be worth it?This is the trade-off for change discussion. It helps you determine the level of brand change that’s required and the differences that varying levels of investment will enable.
There is something called 'Brand Integrity'. You will do well to have few tweaks here and there in order to preserve that existing integrity. Don't lose us along the way...be guided!


P.S It would seem the hair shaving started last year, Honiilols just caught up on that ;) 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Give him to the gods

The child I was is just one breath away from me" - Sheniz Janmohamed


This was the wrongest time to arrive in Lagos, he knew but then again, this mega-city sprawling with a multitude of both two-legged and four-legged at 4 a.m had never been known to posses the calmness of a millpond; no matter the hour of day. The hooting sound made by the many vehicles is a killer trigger for his migraine.The weather isn't right for his delicate radiation-exposed skin either and as his doctors had foreseen and forewarned, his exposure to viruses and germs was damn sure! Everything seems to be against this trip like boats against the current, but it was now or never, he thought. Picking up his noise-cancelling ear muffs from the hand luggage which nestled against his thigh - unfazed by the Lagos drama - he dons it over his ears like the protective shield it is meant to be. Lagos is so unkind to him, unsurprisingly as it had always been, but the penetrating noise is one evil he can squash.

As his Muritala Mohammed International Airport-chattered car speeds through the busy streets, he takes his time to study the view from his back seat, watching as firewood crackle to life; as a petite-looking woman singlehandedly positions a 3-ft high steel pot upon the stoked fire to begin the day's cooking. Food selling is one business that remains viable around the world, after all man must eat and Lagosians obviously need their food early - however it is prepared. He takes a few seconds more to study the gigantic buildings that seem to have sprung up in the once bare area, some things have sure changed. Then his gaze shifts inwards towards his driver and the Quran proudly placed on the dashboard. Mr Jamal, according to the name tag appears somewhat decent - or shouldn't that be assumed when you see Arabic scribbling and Quran around a man? Convinced of his safety for the remainder of the drive to Igando, his destination, he let his eyes droop as a response to nature's call.

"You'll never believe, let alone accept a word that any of those worthless uncles of yours say to you Akubundu.  Ozoemena is mine and I'll nurse him till I take my last breath. You shouldn't even open your mouth to tell me these things! Do you know how many years it took for me before bearing this child? How I cried and prayed? Accepting concoctions from this same family of yours? Visiting your dibias and letting my own faith slide, do you?" 'Mena's mother screamed shifting her weight from behind the door to face her husband. Her face was a contortion of emotions, her chest heaving loudly even as she forced herself to remain calm and to refrain from throwing objects at her husband. 

"Nwanyi!" Akubundu, seeing the fierce anger on his wife's face started, "my words are final in this house. I do not care for how long it took you and don't forget that I waited too for the gods to turn around your barrenness without succumbing to the pressures of my people to take another sturdy wife, I waited. If after waiting with you for e-i-g-h-t good years and all I have to show still is this thing only you have chosen to call child, then I will not be a part of it. Take it back to where it came from. In fact a better use would be for it to be sacrificed to the gods in the village and that is my stance on this!"

"GIVE IT TO THE GODS! GIVE IT TO THE GODS WOMAN!! GIVE IT TO THE GODS!!!"

"Ooga. Ooga fassenger" Jamal taps again hoping to rouse his ajebo passenger. "Walahi, me I no dey phaind this kain trouble for early mo'nin o," his voice sounding solemn and shaky, he watches again as his passenger's body convulse, his arms flailing in all directions. "Ooga fassenger..." 

A succession of taps. A quick jolt. More voices in his head. Someone else is screaming out of fear and it isn't his mother...

'Mena opens his eyes to see another pair of eyes peering at him. It is a scared Jamal with his cap in his left hand and his right hand on 'Mena's shoulder. "Ooga, make I call anoda moota phor you or make I drop you phor one clinic across that road? Igando still phar small o".

An embarrassed 'Mena now fully aware of what must have happened forces a sincere smile at the distressed driver, "No it's fine Mr Jamal. Just take me to that address in Igando. I'll double your pay to N20,000. In fact I'll come sit with you in front so you can pinch me when it appears I am dozing off again,that's the only time these ehm 'anjonus' come," 'Mena pleads with his head slightly bowed. He makes a switch leaving his hand luggage at the back seat, sweat trickling down his palms.

"Ooga, if you say so. Gaskia no more sleeping," Jamal eyed

And so the drive continues, uneventful till he reaches House 406.

The house looks familiar, it had once been his inheritance before the family decided otherwise. His mother had told him the stories. She had told him how the house with the vast surrounding acres had been in his father's family for generations. How they were part of the few Igbos in Lagos who could lay claims to lands. How it had been a tradition to pass on to first sons or the first son of the next son peradventure the first son had no surviving one. 

So it was no surprise in the end that all the coons eyeing him and his mother several years ago when they would make the frequent trips to the clinic to treat whatever was ailing him, would eventually win over his father's mind over a generational property.  

He drags his luggage to the gate of the house to the joy of Jamal who is quick to bid him farewell. 'Mena knocks on the gate, the very same black-colored gate he grew up knowing, with a lot of corrugation this time. He listens for footsteps and hears none. He raps on the gate again using a stone he picked from the floor. Still no sound then a sudden creaking sound transported over the quiet Igando air. He wonders who it will be...his father? 

How would he face his old man now after these years? There is still so much bitterness from the years of deprivation his mother and him had to endure. He closes his eyes to stem the tears that threaten, after all he is a man and men don't cry. How would he inform the family that Chimamkpa, the son whom his own inheritance had fallen into his hands had somehow lost sight of what was meant to be tradition and sold the family land to a stranger in a foreign man's land - him? How would he explain to whoever was resident there now that they needed to vacate his property? How would he also explain that mama Ozoemena, his estranged wife had forced him to come all this way to mend burned bridges? How will he say that in his hand luggage is the urn which holds her ashes and her single dying wish was to be in the hands of her first and only love even if it was in death?

"Who is there this early morning?" he heard a voice ask. It belonged to his mother's husband no doubt, the man that sired him. 

"It's Ozoemena, papa. Your son". 

Silence follows, then a sudden struggle with lock and bolt. The gate flings open. 

Father and son stare at each other. Father with an old-looking cane in hand, his long kaftan almost as worn. 

Him and his family had thought he would die. A boy at ten who couldn't walk. Their gods had written off his destiny. Yes, it is true that he is still sickly and dying twenty-something odd years later after that confrontation between his parents when he was ten but he had so much to be thankful for; a happy wife and two healthy boys await his return back in America. His work as a Director for Instructional Design and Technology at McDonough School of Business is very fulfilling. 

The silence is disturbing...'Mena makes his speech. "This urn holds my mother's ashes, she wanted you to have it. This is my call card and a phone for your use too. These are the pictures of your grandchildren - your only ones I believe. I also know you've been living in that playhouse behind the main building over the years. This house and the surrounding land is now in my possession, you'll be moved to another location - comfortable I must add. I return to my home tomorrow and that's all I came to say," he finished, never once looking into the eyes that is just like his. 


“In the life of everyone there is a limited number of experiences which are not written upon the memory, but stamped there with a die; and in the long years after, they can be called up in detail, and every emotion that was stirred by them can be lived through anew; these are the tragedies of life.” 
― James Weldon Johnson





Image credit - Dream Imagination

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Legendary Yoruba Hips

My father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give me this day my desired fanny like *inserts name* forever & ever
Amen

Simple and succinct! That's a little girl's prayer. Yoruba too from Oke-Igbala in Irepodun LGA of Kwara State. Necessary or unnecessary prayer?

As a young girl I remember making similar supplication; one would have thought I was praying for life itself. Daily I obsessed over how rotund my hips would be. I remember sitting in front of my mom's shop one of those days, as far back as 1998 - she had this very long wooden bench which was always positioned between her shop and Alhaja's from the next store who was a big merchant of rice and other food items. That bench was my mini bed. It practically took all forms of activities I indulged in; sleeping; sitting; squatting; standing for purpose of elevating my height; playing WHOT and all else - I was seated but not alone as there were others sharing space with me. They were two older guys actually both of whom were our landlord's sons, *Akin and *Bode. "Buroda" (Brother) was the usual prefix before their names but I ditch that for smooth reading ;-) 

Bode, the younger of the two, made a show of whispering something into the ears of his elder brother and I heard them laugh out really loud. That caught my attention. My eyes trailed their line of vision and finally settled on the 'object' of  their amusement - my sister from another mother. There she was 200 meters away standing in all her glory. Full height about 5.5". Legs with weight on one foot. We saw her side view. She had on a bright colored off shoulder top very well complemented with a black ripped jeans molding her figure from waist down. Her figure even at the time is what you will rightly describe as a triangular shape. Yes she was endowed and still is. I kid you not the next second my sister made a turn to wave at her friend putting her rear in our direct view. Bode screamed "yeepa" then he went tumbling off my mama's bench. No the fall wasn't intentional, it was truly the effect of a glorious buxom and posterior. That was how my daily supplication started...I needed to have that kind of neck-craning hips. Hips that cause men to fall off chairs. I prayed that prayer for years(till I knew the difference between objective and motive) and even though I didn't exactly turn out all curvy I have had to smile at comments such as, "Honiilols the hippy fashionista" (Hey stop trying to remember what I look like! No mental checks!).

Every shape is beautiful truly.

Few dress up tips:
As a Pear Body type (sometimes called triangle), your hips are larger than your bust and you have a nicely defined waist. You have an elegant neck and proportionately slim arms and shoulders. You first gain weight in your bottom and legs followed by your tummy and upper body. Your waist is your best asset so don’t be afraid to show it off ;-)

How to Dress a Pear Body Shape
The key to dressing a pear body type is to enhance and add volume (or the illusion of volume) to your upper body while emphasizing your waist and de-emphasizing your lower body to create a balanced, hourglass appearance. Always look for tops that will will help balance your lower half while accentuating your defined waist:
  • Tops with nipped or fitted waists
  • Off the shoulder, boat-neck tops, wide V or U necks
  • Structured shoulders, princess or flutter sleeves
  • Embellishments around the bust and shoulders
  • Bright colors and bold patterns
Read more HERE

No doubt she's Yoruba
I have quite a number of Yoruba friends with the legendary hips. *Asucon is one(I refuse to divulge her details). Only very few of us seem to have fallen from the wrong tree. Is there some mixed blood somewhere? The other day I was walking down the road and I did something truly silly. I took a picture *covers face* Blame it on the advent of camera phones.

Isn't it funny how certain physical features are attributed to particular tribes? I would have continued on a weekly series tagging it #TheLengendary but let's see how the blogger community will run with this one. So here is the challenge: make a version of your own legendary post e.g The Legendary Igbo head *hahahahahahaha* It could be a physical feature or character attributed to any tribe in the world. Please drop a comment here or notify me somehow so I can read up. Is this a contest? Not exactly. It's just something different and maybe unblushing.





Post title inspired by Moses Obroku


Friday, 1 January 2016

The First Time



The first time I wrote a poem, it was for a boy. Typical you say? We were in JSS 3 going on SS 1. He was the poet; his pen always causing words to dribble atop paper in fine ink, impeccable English too. I was to reciprocate in the same vein and I did. Few words and the rhymes were such a hit :-)

The first time I wrote competitively, it was for my hostel. Too shy however I penned it under another name, not even an alias I mean that was how little I believed in my writing. My girls and I did a recital exactly as I had earlier coached - we won 2nd place and I wished I had confidently put my name.

The first time I cried over a loss, it was for our dog. S-ki-ppy was such a real dear I never ever feared his size and mean barks. We couldn't take long walks but would stand by the house gate for short whiles cos I feared he would cut loose and bite another kid like he once did my little sis. On return from Uni one day I was shown his tiny grave covered with sand. He had died and no one had the courage to tell me. Yes I cried and haven't loved another since.

The first time I saw shrimps 'face-face', Christie showed me. Of course you know this favored sea food cost a bit but Christie would stock them and make everything with...from fried rice to indomie to stew to "okra lasanlasan" (ordinary okra).

The first time I ate watermelon, my papa gave me. Crap that stuff tasted so odd I wrinkled my face in distaste. My papa wondered when I would develop the palate for finer, healthier food and fruits other than my regular eba "garri" in the morning, afternoon and night!

The first time I saw my period, only mama knew. A day later she saw drops of blood on the ground where I stood in front of her shop with a throng of customers beside me. Embarrassed and ashamed on my behalf, she shooed the customers away and called me inside but it wasn't my blood you see...well it was mine only that this came from a cut in my hand not nature's monthly free flow from...

The first time  I drove on the express, it was Christie's Yaris. Damn! My lungs were in my mouth but she wouldn't have me chicken out and yes I so brushed a man's vehicle, it was a forerunner. We flashed our 32 and he let us be but the next second I parked and let her lead.

The first time a boy hit me, it was my best friend Walata. It was during prep and we had no hostel master present. He slapped me hard; a very thunderous slap and he threatened to hit again! Fourteen years later he asks me to marry him and every time I scuff and close the Facebook/Whatsapp chat window.

The first time I got a visit in the hostel after a loooooong dry while, it was my mama. She saw me from afar talking to a boy in the corner. The very same boy she had seen once or twice around me in Lagos live and direct in Ikenne, Ogun State. The coconut rice with "ata sweswe" (fried stew), bournvita, powdered milk and all else she had brought took a journey back with her...halfway through the hostel gate till my matron's plea thawed her heart to drop them for me.

The first time I went to Sokoto State, it was to NYSC camp in Farfaru. I lived like a queen drinking bottled water and eating food ONLY from maami market. The weather was unkind to me but the serving doctors were kinder. I learned to laugh and dance and play like the mallamas without a care in the world.

The first time I fell genuinely in love, it was with myself. Only recently have I come to extremely adore myself and enjoy my own company. I treat me good. I take me out. I teach myself. I laugh with myself. I respect me, honor me and my confidence in me grows daily.

That's a list of a few of my firsts...what 'first' stands out for you?

Happy New Year beautiful people. May 2016 be lovelier, grander and merrier than the last. Today is a first of many...take charge, make it count.





Saturday, 28 November 2015

#AWA

I am naturally an emotional person and when it comes to the state of health of people I am over emotional and concerned. One day this past week as I walked by Ojuelegba on my way home I heard an ambulance blaring its siren and right there was this stubborn driver who parked stoically on the road blocking off the ambulance from making a detour into the adjoining road. I stood and all my senses nudged me to throw a stone at the guy but before I could do such another well meaning Nigerian sprung into action and no he didn't hurl stones at him, only walked up to the driver and told him to make way. I was really really excited to see a concerned Nigerian doing the right thing. God bless that man who stood up to save another - that could have been precious minutes to whoever was being transported for emergency treatment.  
This ties nicely into something that has been strongly on my mind and therefore brings me to today's post #AWA - Age Without Achievement. 
In your own words, what is achievement? To me achievement is simply a great deed to a fellow man and in my dictionary it is synonymous with impact.

A gazillion lot has been said about making impact; using your God-given talent(s) or picked-up skill(s) to positively brighten the lives of others. What is impact exactly? Let's start by creating a little understanding of this English word...

For the purpose of this post, focus will be on above definition but without the 'research' - simply put impact contributing strongly to someone or something(society)/having a strong effect/influence on someone or something. Now to the question: what influence do you have on anyone? How is your lifestyle patterned and skills exploited to create influence?

Truly there is hardly any man in fact no man on the face of this earth without a talent regardless of what his beliefs are - it is just as everyone is being blessed with the gift of sunshine. 
God has given us ideas and wisdom that no mortal man can gainsay so what's stopping you from performing some miracle with it? I haven't asked you to become the President or Bishop head nor have I said you should become the owner of 20 businesses right now but in your own capacity do the bit you can to make another life better, enjoyable and fulfilled. All of the degrees bagged should be channeled to creating businesses and enabling environment for others to thrive. I have read diverse and countless stories of people doing big things around the world that I personally ask myself what my achievement has been. My degrees? My posts? My father's house?  The way I see it the greatest achievement one will have will come through ones gifts and passion definitively. I currently do not own any business that employs other people. I currently do not support any specific initiative that support the development of others but randomly in one little way or the other I contribute to worthy causes. Hopefully someday I'll start my own shelter for the nimble but in the meantime this is how I am influencing my small circle of influence. 

So tell me @ sixteen; @ twenty; @ thirty; what are you thinking? 

Owning a 1001 closets filled with trendy shoes and bags? Don't get me wrong I am a fashionista myself.

Touring the entire continents on the planet?

Working tirelessly to reach top position for the sole purpose of earning megabucks?

Knowing all the ladies/guys intimately such that you know how Miss/Mr B smells?

All these remain right and on point except for the last point obviously *thumbs up* but what is life with mere material things? I repeat,I haven't asked you to become the President or Bishop head nor have I said you should become the owner of 20 businesses right now but in your own capacity do the bit you can to make another life better, enjoyable and fulfilled.

The oldest man mentioned in the Bible is Methusela. What was his achievement? Don't fall into that category. Never age without impacting your world. Say no to #AWA and choose to age with achievement ;-) that's still #AWA right? Define your world and in this case your words...






Monday, 26 October 2015

2 in 1

That's how Toinlicious gave me ginger to write and post something over the weekend but mehn somehow in between house chores and work spillover I got stumped - I'll get to the assigned 'task' in a bit but first of all...

THE 1 IN THE 2
FOR DASH :-)
My colleagues sometimes laugh at me when this particular woman comes in to sell shoes to the ladies and they see me show face. They think I have too many shoes already...well I dunno if that's true because as is I need sandals and more shoes of course *shines teeth* One day I chose to do a shoe count and saw some pairs of shoes still there unworn (oh so you thought I was gonna divulge how many pairs I got...no way) The realization that I have a couple currently not being worn put me in a very generous mood.


Any interested blog reader? Please indicate in comment box ;-) The black is a 40 while the orange is a 39. I actually thought the orange would fit since it's a sandal but nah e nor gree. It's a tad too small for me so I haven't worn either. I give the first persons to show interest and please pick up is on you(one shoe per individual. No double anointing here biko). 


THE 2 IN THE 2



RULES
1.                  Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
2.                  Put the award logo on your blog
3.                  Answer the ten questions sent to you
4.                  Nominate five blogs
5.                  Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer. 

That's what I got nominated for by madame Toinlicious and my simple task is to answer the below questions after which I do the honors of nominating 5 other ladies to continue the tradition. Here goes...

1. What is your biggest pet peeve? MY BIGGEST PET PEEVE WOULD BE EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION. I hate it with a passion and the manipulators themselves!

3. Make a confession about anything. Ah! The only thing that comes to mind will cause me to receive tongue lashing *tongue out*

4. What is the lesson of love that took you the longest to learn? NOT EVERYONE IS AS OPEN-MINDED AS I AM SO I HAVE LEARNED TO HIDE INFORMATION *straight face*

5. If you could spend one day alone with anyone in history (dead or alive), whom would you choose? OLUWAMAYOKUN CHRISTIE SEYE-OLOWOYO 

6. If you had to teach your kids one lesson in life, what would it be? YOU MAY NOT BE AS BRILLIANT AS THE NEXT GUY/GIRL BUT YOU ARE DEFINITELY BETTER THAN HIM/HER AT SOMETHING. EXPLORE YOUR UNIQUE BRILLIANCE!

7. If you could "un-know" one thing, what would it be? THE KNOWLEDGE OF HELL

8. Paint your entire home inside and out a single colour other than white, what colour would you choose? ALL SHADES OF GREEN
9. What is the most terrifying moment of your life? WHEN CHRISTIE PASSED. WHEN I NEEDED TO WRITE AN EULOGY, IN THE DARK AND ALONE. WHEN I NEEDED TO WATCH HER BODY BEING LOWERED TO THE GROUND. 

10. If you could transport yourself to a place/era in d world, where would you go? THE BAHAMAS

Who do I nominate now? All the blogs I follow have been nominated jo :-(


The interior guru Nkem




YOUR QUESTIONS
1. What was your favorite bedtime story growing up?(If you didn't have one don't be shy...skip)
2. You ever had a crush? Who was/is your crush?
3. Recreate one fun moment from your secondary school days
4. Imagine you get N15,000,000 in one month what would you do with the free money?
5. Your guiding principle?
6. If you had a chance to ask for one favor from either of your parent right now what would it be?
7. Assuming I am a Marketing Manager in charge of all brands globally :-) which of my brands would you love to model for and why?
8. What is that one song that causes you to pause to dance every time in comes on radio or TV?
9. Which do you prefer to be seen in at all times - native, formal wears or semi-formal?
10. Who's the last person you talk to before going to sleep?

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Her story...what's yours?

I got married in 2012 and had been trusting God for the fruit of the womb. Then my menstrual periods became irregular. Sometimes, it will show up once in 6 months. I was advised to run fertility tests by my gynecologist and to my amazement, the results were terrible. I was diagnosed of blocked Fallopian tube, PCOS (ovarian cysts) and annovulation ( meaning I was not ovulating). I was so depressed and I wondered how on earth I would conceive without menstruating not to talk of ovulating. So we commenced treatment and I had to use many drugs, we spent so much yet there were no changes, in fact the monthly periods stopped totally. We moved from hospital to hospital and from pillar to post.

One fateful day in church(Daystar Christian Centre) I came across an invite to baby showers by Joyful mothers and fathers forum.My attendance at the program marked a turning point in my life. I discovered that the forum was for couples that were trusting God for the fruit of the womb and couples that were already pregnant who were trusting God for safe carriage and delivery. That day was awesome. I heard so many testimonies and I realized I wasn't alone. I learnt meetings were held every Saturday so I made up my mind to start attending.
The very 1st Saturday I attended, I was presented a book titled God's waiting room written by Yewande Zaccheus. Then a spirit filled teacher revealed so many scriptures to us concerning what God had said about conception and I was extremely blessed that day. That book took my breath away, I devoured it in a day as soon as I read the first page. The teachings at the meetings every week and that book multiplied my faith. I went to the bookshop and realized the book even had other parts so I bought more copies and sowed them into the lives of other waiting couples.
 

My husband and I kept on attending JMJF forum in church and usually got inspired through the uncountable testimonies that were shared and the teachings and our faith was strengthened by them all. At the end of that year,we still had not conceived and my younger sister had her baby. Pressure started mounting from all sides but I won't stop thanking God for the encouragements he brought our way and for not letting us fall into depression. Our thinking had changed and our faith had been renewed. So many scriptures kept me going when I felt low especially Gen 1:28 and Ps 128:3. I and my hubby used to feel bad before whenever we heard someone had conceived or had a baby and we would avoid the naming ceremonies so that I would not start crying as usual. I can't begin to say all the trauma, insults and embarrassments I experienced from various people just because I wasn't yet pregnant. In 2014,We kept on attending JMJF, observed the fasts, and in faith, we obeyed the instructions to buy our baby things, we put our baby's bed permanently on our bed and I remember friends used to giggle at the sight of our empty baby's bed when they had the chance to enter our room. They wondered what had come over us.We prepared a list of our baby's name and put it on the bed,someone once gave us money for our kids so we put the money in the bed too.
We had a prayer meeting at the forum and an instruction was given to us all that we should not doubt God by trying to help God and that we should put our total trust in him. So we keyed in and started declaring that we want all the glory to be to God when our prayers get answered. We didn't want any doctor or drug to share God's glory. Why would we have to pay for what God gives free of charge?
 

2014 was our year of enlargement and we had many testimonies of people conceiving and having their children at the forum. We intensified our faith and joined service units in church because we knew that if we worked for God, he would reward us. We read our pregnancy confessions every morning before leaving the house and we wore customized shirts with our baby's names. In my service unit, we use code names rather than real names and I chose fruity as my name so that I will be called by what God called me. God had called me fruitful and not barren. So people called me fruity though they didn't know why and I used to say "Amen" on the inside.
 

On bbm, I changed my name to a long list of my baby names and people wondered why.Our mindset had changed. We attended many baby naming ceremonies and rejoiced with all we heard had babies and gave them gifts. As it is written in God's word that we should give thanks in all things, we started thanking God over our situation and stopped complaining and we rejoiced with those rejoicing. We refused to focus on what we didn't have but on all what God had given us. We started attending service at the church annex where couples with babies sat even though we did not have any physical baby. I used to take communion twice there, one for me and for my baby in faith.
 

Over time, people said all sorts, some advised us to go to prayer warrior churches because they felt our church prayers were not spiritual enough. Some gave us addresses of some so-called excellent hospitals, some people even suggested spiritualists and traditional midwives. Others advised different types of herbs but we stood on God's word that promised us conception and the fact that we would not help God.
 

When it was Dec 31st, I was a bit discouraged that my prayer did not look like it had been answered because I had made a pledge to God which I promised to redeem if I could conceive in 2014. But then, I still glorified God and danced like never before at the watch-night service because I still had my life. Meanwhile, the last time I went for a pregnancy test was in April 2014 and it came out negative. When we got home that day, I took my biro, cancelled the negative result and wrote positive. I remember my husband smiled and said Amen o and he prayed that the next test I would do would be positive so he stapled that result to the wall in our room. I made up my mind not to go to the hospital again till it will be time for antenatal in faith so I substituted hospital visitations with JMJF meetings and substituted drugs with holy communion. Pastor Kenny declared in church one day that the money we were supposed to spend in the hospital will be used to buy clothes and to enjoy ourselves and I keyed in. I drained my account and went to shop for more baby things, then I went to family first bookshop in church and bought many pregnancy books based on healing by faith.I kept on sowing, I gave out more copies of God's waiting room book and September baby shower JMJF DVDs.
 

In 2015, our year of promotion, on the 24th of January, on our way to JMJF meeting, I had to attend to some issues so my husband got there before me. On my way back, I called him to find out which class he was in and he said he was in expectant class( for those yet to get pregnant) and I replied him that we were pregnant already in faith and pleaded with him to move to pregnancy class. The meeting had ended by the time I got there so I just knelt in the pregnancy class and prayed to God to put me there in this year 2015.
On the 26th of January which was a Monday, I felt so sick and my hubby suggested anti malaria drugs but I just insisted on paracetamol . When there were no changes he dragged me to the hospital and everything happened in a flash, I was confirmed pregnant in the same hospital that had told me it would not be possible if I did not undergo treatment. Me that I had no menses,I did a scan and did another test to confirm and all came back positive. Joy overflowed in our hearts and tears of joy filled my eyes. At last! God had answered our prayers. My husband then took that result and placed it beside the one that had been on the wall in 2014 and we realized that it was exactly the same 26th, 9 months ago that I cancelled that negative result with my pen.


Truly, God is awesome because the scan revealed that I conceived in 2014 so God answered my prayers afterall in our year of enlargement and I went to redeem my pledge. My pregnancy journey was wonderful and God blessed me with extra ordinary strength. I didn't experience most of the negative predictions by experienced mothers, infact I was glowing. God was faithful till the end and he blessed us with a bouncing baby boy in September 2015. God truly makes everything beautiful in his time because in this same 2015, he bIessed us all round and opened greater doors to us miraculously.


I thank God for giving me a very wonderful and supportive husband who never made life miserable for me because I couldn't conceive on time. I thank Pastor Sam and Nike Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Centre for helping me to know that I could communicate with God directly without having to consult any medium. I thank the teachers in Joyful Mothers and Fathers forum at Daystar for opening my eyes to the power of faith.I also thank those who prayed with us and called us fruitful in our service unit(Starguard) in church. God bless my home fellowship members for their endless prayers. I thank Pastor Moses Oyerinde of EFCC church, Ago-Iwoye for his encouragement, support and prayers from school days till now. He even honored me by presiding over the naming of our son. I thank my beautiful mother and my sisters for their unending support. God bless my friends, my colleagues at Grand Oak Ltd and all those I can't mention who stood by me. God bless Mrs Yewande Zaccheus for writing that book.


My brothers and sisters, with God, nothing shall be impossible! Don't compare yourself with others, we all have our individual races to run. At the end, only God will do what only he can do. He is the one that can do all things. He makes a way where there seems to be no way and he honors our faith.
Part of the pledge I made to God if he answered my prayer was to proclaim his goodness far and wide and to testify to his faithfulness which is what I am doing. Please don't hesitate to help me spread this message to encourage a soul. There is a beautiful future for all those who put their total trust in God. Don't let that negative report depress you. It is what God says that is final not what that negative situation says. God still answers prayers so don't give up. Just believe!


I and my husband did a lot of fasting and praying and God did not let all be in vain. We even prayed for our son all the time when we had not yet conceived. What would we have done if nothing happened after everything? Many people have been trusting God for one thing or the other for decades and they are still waiting. God will have compassion on who he will have compassion on. It has not been by our power or might. Please praise the Lord on our behalf for his faithfulness. I pray that whatever it is you are trusting God for will be given unto you. God will honor your faith and you will not wait in vain. You will have a reason to testify in Jesus name. 


Please join me in praising the Lord of Hosts! The God that changed my name, the Father that took away my reproach, the one that disgraced my negative medical report by giving me a wonderful son without any man's intervention, Awimayehun, Alagbada ina, Asoromatase, the King of kings, Lion of Judah, Rose of Sharon, Balm in Gilead. Oba awon Oba, Oyigiyigi Glory! Halleluyah.


Your testimony is next in Jesus name.

Friday, 9 October 2015

WHY WAS THIS JUST A NOTE?


Right now there are about four different stories practically dancing around in my head. Exciting scenes. Witty dialogue. Role plays. None has found verbal or written expression - sadly. Maybe it is time to make the sought of computers that will extract information/ideas from one's thoughts and act as transcriber...

Where is my muse?

While I await the miraculous appearance of my muse there's this spoken word poetry I performed last year and it beats me why I never put it up as a post and left it only as a note on Facebook! It is my work, my thoughts so why not? Enjoy and of course beyond pleasurable reading, let the central message sink deep.


Life’s journey took me through west,


At age 15 when I first met Jessie

Damn right dirty, this girl was the best

A decade older Jessie got me living on the edge

2-4-7 we pleasured on the bed

Getting stoned on dope and sipping brew

Grass and coke, all on the menu



Ahead of my game I was really living large

Halima, Fatima, Cynthia, Sunita

Long legged, small waist, full bossom were my fondest

All around campus I was tagged the hottest

That was my name…

I lived for the fame

And everything that came with it;

Hot chicks, cool digs

All around town I was rolling

Pleasure was all I lived for

Earthly treasure was all I worked for



Tito…the household name in every bar

The name on the lips of all the women in the spa

Tito…the leader of the gang, dreaded master at shooting down targets

& the go-to guy for everything shady



Then the years fly by and they didn’t do me any justice

20 years on, my features are losing shape

I got doctors round the clock trying to save my face

20 years on I’m more bones than flesh, no strength in my chest

My liver is failing; the dust is calling out to me

All through my hay days, I sought solace & perfection in funny living;

took to parties, whoring and gambling; all of which morphed into pain



But…

While lurking in my bad habits I found something

Something…something worth nothing

It was more demanding than amusing

I found something more close but not perfect

Something so unambiguous

That in my pleasurable lifestyle, I had no content, no joy, no rest of mind



Even I a master had failed at his game

Nothing is certain in life. It is true.

But...who never fails or strays at his game?

Who never changes and remains the same?

My head is clouded…my eyes shrouded…

A name rings, starting to form

Who’s the best, in top form ahead of his game never to stumble?

A know all? A do all?

A conqueror, an unchangeable being? A victor, A warrior? 

Who is?

Who is the upholder of all things?

The everlasting, the rock, the true light, the builder, the foundation, the e-eend?

Who is?



JC? But that’s the Lord Jesus Christ



Yet in all my excitement and this feeling of newness

A voice shrills at me

Horrid thoughts rolling through my mind

Once a whore, always a whore

Once a gambler, always a gambler

Once a thief, always a thief

Once a lesbian, always a lesbian

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic

Once a sinner, always a sinner

I’m lost and helpless to a fault

Whose voice shall I belief

But…

But…who then can condemn me?

For judgement is of the Lord’s

Who is saying unto me…

“All things are of God who hath reconciled us to Himself through Christ Jesus, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation”

He is saying unto me…

"Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts, Let him return to the Lord and he will have mercy on him and to our God for he will abundantly pardon".



That’s our God of love; his sweet fragrance spreading out

He’s calling you too…come home sister, come home brother to the feet of Christ Jesus. He is called the "Unbeatable Best"



Part of this piece was first written by ME in my jotter in 2008/2009 when I performed other poetry in the university under this same theme - "Unbeatable Best". If anyone from CASOR (Christ Ambassadors Student Outreach) Ago Iwoye branch or beyond has a video of me doing any of my recitals, I'll be happy to lay my hands on those again. All the other poems written and performed have somehow faded with the years *whew*


Caught in the art!
Image credit -Ms Baderinwa & Deviant art