05 February 2018

BEFORE THE SPOILERS CAME!



Just as some people would easily take to and appreciate you, one of the certainties of life is that some people are not just going to like you or like your face. PERIOD. Some may even go further to put you down. This may happen in relationships, marriage, in the workplace or anywhere else. For many people, being put down, subjugated or being unfairly treated can be a very difficult thing to handle. So, here are a few things to know if you ever have to face any of these scenarios:
  1. Before the spoilers came on the scene, God had already created you. And to Him, you are precious, beautiful, and of great worth. So, the view of the spoiler is not only secondary, but irrelevant.
  2. In most cases, those who put others down have ‘issues.’ They either have low self-esteem, lack interpersonal skills, or they are themselves victims of past and present put-downs. Some misbehave because they are unable to handle a position of authority, or unexpected wealth. Therefore don't allow such people to get you down. Instead, let them own their issues.
  3. When it is necessary, or if the occasion presents itself, confront the abuser and let them know how you feel about their actions. In many instances, spoilers are not aware of the effect of their actions on others. When you let them know, you may well find that they retreat or apologise.
  4. Even if you feel they may be justified, do not allow anyone to get you down. Know spoilers for who they are. Spoilers! Never allow an external person to dictate your mood, question your self-worth, or force you into depression. Remember, you were created by God before the spoilers came.
Finally, avoid being a spoiler to others. Watch what you say or do. The same way you feel when people put you down is probably the same way others feel when the abuse comes from you. So, don't mess around with other people's emotions.

31 December 2017

#MeToo – So Where do you Report Rape or Sexual Harassment in Nigeria?




So, Harvey Weinstein has finally got his comeuppance for his evil behaviour towards women. With the number of people who have come out with allegations of rape and sexual harassment, it is no longer a case of who he molested, but who did he not molest? What is peculiar about this incident is its domino effect. Women all over the world who have suffered one form of harassment or another are beginning to come forward. The UK defence secretary was forced to resign for historic harassment allegations. Three law makers have had to do the same in the United States. In the US, UK, and in France, politicians, celebrities, actors and comedians are quaking in their boots for past misdemeanours. What is clear is that this singular case has had a Jimmy Saville/Bill Cosby effect - one allegation was treated with credence and it felt easier for every victim to come forward.  

Like many evils in our world, it has taken decades for this to come out partly because Weinstein was very rich and powerful. But came out, it did. This may be little consolation to those who were abused, molested or allegedly raped, some of them no doubt, have been scarred for ever and may never recover from their ordeal. Hopefully, justice would be done, and all of them would be able to move on with their lives. 

While all this was happening, my thoughts were nearer home. When is the dam of sexual predatory going to burst in Nigeria? And will it ever happen? It isn’t just the odd cases of locker room talk or male flirtatiousness that takes place in Nigeria; but serious harassment and sexual exploitation of women. We all know of men - politicians, religious leaders, captains of industry, entertainers, bosses - long associated in the rumour mill with sexual predatory on women. In the culture of Nigeria, sexual harassment is pervasive. I hope for a backlash against these miscreants, just like what is happening in Europe and North America at the moment.

We all know of banks that tacitly support the exploitation of female staff through the bullish way they are pressured to sign on rich customers or lose their job/promotion.

We all probably know of someone who had taken advantage of a woman either recently or in the past. He may not consider it to be rape, the victim may not even cry foul because she believed she placed herself in that position. But think again! If a woman was raped in Nigeria, where would she report the crime?

We know what happens in our educational institutions. The question is: Are we ever going to declare a zero-tolerance stance on university and college lecturers who sexually harass, abuse and exploit female students? This has gone on for ages, and very few, if any had ever faced justice. We all know it goes on. It is in fact, an accepted part of college life in Nigeria that a female student would be propositioned by many, if not most of her lecturers.

What about the bullying and sexual harassment in offices across the country. It is well known that many male bosses pester their female subordinates for sex. In most cases, it is not a mutually agreeable contract. It's purely a show of power – I am your boss, and you must play ball, otherwise, you would lose your job. Many women in this situation acquiesce. Even for some that are mentally strong, how many can resist the bullying, the threats, the cajoling, and the constant pressure? As this is so rampant, any regular man with a wife, daughter or sister should be riled, and must be concerned.

For the perpetrators, it is perhaps simply a numbers game. The more women they harass, the more they increase their chances of success. The fact that most Nigerians; women included, are essentially non-confrontational also make sexual predators to assume that their advances are welcomed. Ironically, these predators have so many things in their favour. Firstly, sexual harassment is tacitly accepted and expected. Everyone knows a boss who sleeps with his staff. I must reiterate that these arrangements are usually not mutual. Secondly, we don't have strong laws to encourage women to come forward and complain about sexual harassment, so victims hardly ever do so.  Importantly, we have a culture that essentially trains men not to respect women. Our systems and traditions still see women of any age or marital status as preys to be had by men. For example, we have a sitting senator in our national assembly that openly married a 13-year-old girl. The press who should hold these people to account is for all intents and purposes useless. Many of our media houses implicitly collude with the high and mighty leaving serious misdemeanours unreported and unchallenged.

Sadly, our fainthearted churches lack the stomach for the fight against sexual exploitation of women too. While the church leaders (who are mostly male) may feel they do not directly condone harassment, however, the deep worry is that the biases against women that encourages sexual harassment have proven difficult to identify and correct within individuals. So, there are many cases of religious of leaders who consider any attempt by women to exert themselves, as rebellion against their husbands, against the church, and by extension against God. Our women get this, and do not want to rock the boat. In fact, many of them who are highly intelligent make every attempt to diminish their talents just so that they can conform to societal expectations and mores. Because women have sadly been this socialised not to make a fuss at harassment, they are subjected to a barrage of profanity, and humiliation that no one should have to deal with.

In other words, social attitude, mores, lack of legal protection, cultural acceptance that men will be men, have all seen to it that victims of sexual crimes are effectively silenced, and perpetrators emboldened. How can we then expect people who have been abused to come forward if they are going to be attacked by their accusers, ignored by the press and ridiculed by the public. This evil virus has continued its spread for too long in Nigeria because even the good people are assailed by doubts about how much should be done to stamp it out.

But now is the time when everyone who knew about a sexual predator pastor, boss, neighbour and did nothing need to ask the question: What type of person am I?

Now is the time for us to challenge our religious leaders to talk about this issue. Never mind whether paying tithe is biblical or not, now is the time for the church to be bold and champion the fight against harassment of women and women subjugation in general.

Now is the time to confront and rebuke those who prey on women at work.

Now is the time to petition our legislators for strong anti-harassment laws

Now is the time to expose bosses who bully their female subordinates for sex.

Now is the time for lawyers to come forward, and judges to join them in ensuring speedy prosecution for perpetrators of sex crimes.

Now is the time to change our attitude of blaming victims of sexual violence for their own indiscretion. A crime is a crime, so blame the criminal, not the victim.

Now is the time for justice for Nigerian women who are raped, bullied and sexually exploited by employers, aristos, lecturers, money-men and even boyfriends.

Now is the time to look again at the issue of female domestic maids many of whom face the double whammy of violence and sexual exploitation. Let’s remember the epidemic of violence against women in our society disproportionately affects low income women who are silenced by their economic situations.

This is a moment of great social change. It may be painful, it may provoke attacks. It may even lead to a deep rupture in our social culture. But we must brave it. We must encourage victims to brave it. We must expect attack on credibility. Your past may be up for scrutiny, but we all must continue to bat on the side of those who are seeking for justice. If not, injustices and evil will thrive on our watch.

Now is the time to signal that as a country, we want this model of culture-based backlash against women upended.

Like most Nigerians, I am hardwired for a kind of stoic pessimism. This goes with the near certainty that nothing will happen even when it should. But I truly hope my pessimism is dealt a blow this time. And that the dam will burst. And sexual predators will be brought to justice. I truly hope so.

As we say, every day is for the thief, but one day, just one day, the thief will find himself in the net of justice. I hope the chicken of sexual predators in Nigeria will come home to roost one day. I hope it will be sooner rather than later. PostcardfromLagos





Photocredit: mightynurse.com

14 November 2017

WHAT SHOULD A YOUNG LADY WHO LOST HER HUSBAND DO?

I found out from a young lady earlier this year that she lost her husband nine months before. I was truly gobsmacked. I had met her two weeks before then, and she stood out with her wit, smile and impressive contributions to the meeting. I was fascinated by her interesting last name. She told me this was her married name, explaining how her husband's family came about it. She gave nothing away.

When, by sheer coincidence, we met again two weeks later, I asked for further details about an exceptionally deep and curious contribution she made at our previous encounter. It was then she told me what informed it. Her husband had died nine months before. I was lost for words. She was still smiling. Yet her face spoke the language of someone who had packed several experiences into her young life. I did not know what to say. From that moment, I had a different perception about her, yet throughout that day and the next, she continued to be her usual self  - witty, pulling legs, assisting me to critique every presentation. Who could imagine what she was going through raising two children under the age of six alone? It then occurred to me that I actually know a few people like her. How do they cope? What goes through their minds? What does society expect of them? What if they decide to re-marry?

Whether male or female, it is never an easy thing for someone to lose a spouse. I have heard of one or two much older men who after losing their beloved wives became totally lost. This was because their wives organised everything about their lives, including the clothes on their back. Even with exceptional cases like these, what is not in doubt is that it is doubly more difficult when a woman loses her husband. In many instances in Africa, this means a rapid descent into poverty or at best, sub-standard living, as men are more likely to be the main breadwinner. Often, the husband’s family descend like rampaging vultures to complicate things for a woman soon after the loss of her husband. The fact that she is vulnerable and sore does not stop the vitriol of 'she does not respect her husband's family enough', 'she did not pick our calls', 'we saw her eating only a few days after her husband died,' 'she is withholding information from us.' She may even be accused to her face of killing her husband. Within a few days of her husband's death just a few years ago, a young widow was asked by her husband's family if her late husband had any plots of land.

More than anything else, what stands out the most between men and women who lose a spouse is the real fact that men could remarry within a reasonable length of time. It is in fact expected of them. They are advised to do so as soon as it is practicable. The story is not that easy for women. They tend to grieve for longer, though they may brave it. They have to suddenly find their mojo in an already crowded field of women, and dwindling responsible suitors. I suspect they may also feel they are betraying their dead husbands by dating, so they often hold back. They also have the welfare of their children, their own welfare, and what people would say to think about. Would the new man be as good as the previous husband? Plus of course the fact that men usually marry younger women so nothing changes if they lose a spouse. They can quickly plump for another woman. For women on the other hand, it is not that straightforward. For a start, they are disadvantaged because it is men, not women that still do the chasing in most societies. Even if a woman succeeds in getting married well after her husband's death, there is that suspicion hanging over her for life - Did she kill her husband? Was she dating the new man before her husband died?

So what should a young lady do if she lost her husband? 

Given all the pressure of society, and the real limitations of being a woman:

  • Could she ever find love again?
  • Would society allow her to find love again?
  • Would she allow herself to find love again?

Your guess is as good as mine. One thing is clear; it is definitely not a level-playing world. PostcardfromLagos


21 September 2017

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE NOT THINGS!


The best things in life are not things! They are people. And people are important! Nurture them, relate well with them. Don't discard people. You don't leave a group or company, you leave people; you may leave an organisation or company, don't leave the people. Make the effort to build relationships. Don't go around life being angry at the world. Think about the impact of what you say, what you do, and sometimes what you don't do on people. People are important!

The best things in life are not things! They are moments. Moments spent with family, moments with your wife, moments with your husband, moments with children. Moments with sisters and brothers. Moments with your mum, moments with dad. Moments you go on holiday to Yankari Game Reserve, to Erin Ijesha waterfalls, to Jos Wildlife Park, to Snowdonia mountain. Moments you eat and laugh together with loved ones. It is these moments that become time. And time becomes history. Create those moments. Enjoy them. Don't be distracted. Don't squander them. Take them in. Cherish them. Long for them. Make them happen!

The best things in life are not things! The best thing in life is love. Love is a language. Everyone understands it. Love is constant. It covers a multitude of sin. Love prefers. Love believes. All things. Love is patient. Love does not hate another ethnic group. Love does not hate people of other religion. Love does not mistreat women. Love affirms men. Love protects children. Love is not conditional. Love is kind. Love endures. Love is passionate. Love is beautiful. Love is action. Love is difficult, but love can be learned. Love lasts. Love is a choice. Love is the greatest. God is love.

The best things in life are not things! The best thing in life is discovering yourself! Find out what makes you tick. Ask yourself the question 'Why am I here?' What do I do well? What do I not do well? What makes me laugh? Why do I do the things I do? The bad and the good. Why do I not do things I ought to do? How do people see me? How do I see myself? What does my spouse think of me? And my children too? A honest, but truthful answer to these questions will start you on the journey of knowing who you are. This knowledge will help you chart a better course for your life.

The best things in life are not things! It is how you use your time. You already have spent a third of your life sleeping, which by the way is good and necessary. But think about the other things you do - surfing the net, social media, watching third-rate movies on African Magic, squandering it on activities that are not important. Time is ticking. Don't waste it. Think about what is important and concentrate on them. Family, recreation, planning, building relationships. These are important. Lavish your time on them. Time is money, don't spend it on irrelevances. Time is life, so don't waste it. Time is limited, redeem it by spending your time on what is important.

The best things in life are not things! It is how you handle situations. Master your own emotions. Everything is an opportunity. There is always a third choice other than Yes or No. Look for what works for everyone even when it appears elusive. Sometimes, 'No' is a good answer. Don't be too afraid to use it. Don't be naive to withhold it. Say 'No' when it matters. Say 'No' when it is necessary. Say 'No' to what will compromise you and your family. Don't join the multitude to do evil. Make your points known without aggression. Be ready to apologise when in the wrong. Only strong people can do so. Manage your own emotions.

The best things in life are not things! It is refusing to outsource your brain. Read widely. Question things. Don't assume things. Check for the truth. Be wise. If you know the reason for doing something, you will probably do it better. Don't follow people blindly. You have a responsibility for your actions. So think before you do things. Begin with the end in mind. Everything has a repercussion. Consider the impact of what you do on yourself and on others. Think about the impact of what you leave undone on yourself and others. Don't be simple. Be wise.

The best things in life are not things! The best thing in life is the quest for discovery. What can you discover today?  A new book perhaps? Discover a long lost relationship. Discover an instrument. Discover story telling. Discover a new language. Discover your discarded passion. Discover the need for holidays. Discover the people around you. Discover your 'dis-used,' overlooked spouse. Discover how to love again. Discover your children. Discover the trees and flowers. Discover the landscape. Life isn't just about how far you travel, but what you discover. Discover something new, something good, something beneficial, something productive. Discover a cause you can fight for.  Discover the future.

The best thing in life is not a thing
The best thing in life is Jesus
Holy and anointed
Risen and exalted
Friend of sinners
Champion of the weak
Emancipator of those in bondage
Maker, defender, redeemer, and friend.

The best things in life are not things! It is Jos, and the people I met there last week.
It is Mailafiya urging us all to keep hope alive
It is Fortune Alaribe who says the best is yet to come
It is Dila changing everyone in the North-East
It is Andesikuteb, the very busy banker who is patient and gentle
It is Odiba, the man from Darazo
It is Ekoja advising us not to settle for less
It is Ande the Governor, Obasanjo's friend and lover of politics
It is Ibiyemi and her sonorous, friendly voice.
It is Odagba, the elephant man who works for the elephant bank
It is the gazelle, Kachollom Chollom, the owner of everything she surveys.
It is Saint Nicholas, the farmer and his spirit of togetherness.
It is Prophet Samuel, the lover of Jesus, Jerusalem and Jos
It is John, my learned friend whose voyage through the Savannah has been eventful.
It is Peter Ossco, the kind-hearted, who got me crisp notes.
It is David, the man with the mandate to make a difference.
It is Mary Magdalene, Mr Farmer. Or is it Mrs Farmer?
It is soft-spoken and wise Mariam
It is the beautiful poet, Comfort who is literally at the marketplace
It is easy-going Bright, brewed and cooked in the fields of Uwokwu
It is courteous Garuba, the husband of the golden woman
It is Abolade Aminu and the party arriving at Yola airport in a few weeks time
It is Hassan Umar who will stay the course
It is Emmanuel Ogra whose truth soothes and dignifies
It is Valentine, the town crier - Eke uka! Eke uka!
It is Mohammed serving a bit of love.
It is Agboola who challenges us to think about orphans
It is Tiza who showed concern for Markurdi
It is Arkibus who wants us to learn humility
The best things in life are not things. PostcardfromLagos



04 September 2017

The Senator of the Dance

I should not have been interested in the dance. After all, the slant was that it was un-dignifying of a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to dance this way.

What did you expect? He had just won an election that he was not meant to win. His brother had held that seat until his death in April. His party did not select him because it preferred someone else, so he did what most Nigerian politicians would do. He defected to another party. Then he won! Then he celebrated and danced, an Oscar-winning dance for that matter. What do people do when they are victorious? They celebrate. The reaction was swift. Why on earth should a senator bring himself this low? One commentator said, "This was a sad day for Nigeria."

However, what I saw was different! I saw a very good dancer, an exceptionally good one for that matter. I suppose I am not meant to comment on the size of his waist and belly, but these two elements, and the fact that they posed no threat to his dancing dexterity made his dance the more beautiful to watch.

Apart from the impressive dance, I also like the music, and the twist and turn of the lead singer who knew how to pump up the tune to elicit the unending dance crescendos. I must confess that I am a lover of music, and I can easily separate the talent from the singer's lifestyle. For example, I like Anita Baker; I also like Prince and Madonna. I like Ebenezer Obey, IK Dairo; I also like Ligali Mukaiba, Haruna Ishola, John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Orlando Owoh, ABBA and many more. I like country, I like R & B, I like Yoruba, and I like English. I like talent.

Back to the dance, I do not think other senators in Nigeria are any better than the dancing senator.  What is un-dignifying is Dino Melaye's nonsense inside the chambers (which by the way, he pronounces as 'shambers'), not Adeleke's dancing prowess outside the national assembly. What is sad is Ben Murray-Bruce’s posturing. What is criminal is that Nigerians are the hapless victims of a national assembly filled with looters, child molesters, wasters, and many others that should be behind bars.

I have no clue what the dancing senator would do, and whether he is the right person for the job. I saw one of his campaign videos where he promised what was clearly beyond his station. However, his dance was one of the best things that came out of the depressingly wasteful Nigerian National Assembly recently. 

Here it is if you haven't  seen the dance. You be the judge! PostcardfromLagos




26 August 2017

My Mother is a Witch!


No! My own mother wasn't. I am only concerned about the rising number of people, many of whom I am sad to say, are Christians, who consider their dad or mum to be behind their life challenges. The vast majority of these people may, in fact be going through mid-life crises. Many of them have not achieved set goals or expectations. Rather than recognise that this is part of living, they look for where to shift the blame. Their conclusion is that there must be a hidden ‘hand’ behind their business, financial or marital difficulties. All other possibilities such as their failure to plan, poor decision making, a serious deficit in people skills, lack of initiative or even laziness are ignored. The cheapest and easiest scapegoat is their parent, uncle or mother-in-law. In many instances, this conclusion is drawn at the instigation of religious peddlers who, fuelled by the belief that nothing happens by chance, take advantage of their gullible clients. 

The questions are:

  • Why wasn't your mother a witch when you were a defenceless baby, and she could have had you for dinner?
  • Why wasn't she a witch when you effortlessly sought and gained admission into university and graduated with flying colours?
  • Wasn't she a witch when things were rosy for you?
  • How would you feel if the tables are turned and your children accuse you of witchcraft?


So let’s just established certain facts of life. It is given that some people would marry later than their friends. Some people would also experience delay in having children. These are matters that are often beyond anyone’s control, and should never lead to a hopeless hunt for, as we say, the ‘hidden snake hands' behind what in the case of infertility may be a simple medical issue. Some people only need to sort out their personal hygiene issues to attract female or male admirers if they are looking for a life partner. Others may need to acquire new skills to be able to find work, or look at their spending habits to stem their haemorrhaging finances.

I am not unmindful of the darkness in our part of the world. However, I have noticed that those who go on this trail never ever get out of their problem. They become paranoid, chasing shadows for years, and end up as pawns in the hands of the religious messiahs that they run to for help.

So admit it, you are either having a mid life crisis which is common to all. Or better still; acknowledge your recklessness, and the poor decisions that might have led into your current situation. Quit the delusion, pull yourself together, and take stock of your life. You have a better chance of resolving your life issues if you admit your mistakes, retrace your steps and apply the right course of action. It is not your mother or father or family stupid! PostcardfromLagos.