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. 



29 June 2017

Why Your Children Should Not be Your Pension

Disclosure - Before anyone sics their dog on me for being tight-fisted, I must first disclose that for many years, my siblings and I placed our parents on a monthly allowance. The idea behind this was to provide them with regular income they could look forward to. We also cover all their medical expenses, and retained the services of a cook/butler to look after them. That settled, now I can say my mind.

A common prayer in Nigeria is 'wa jeun omo.' Loosely translated, this means that parents will derive financial and other benefits from their labour over their children. Ordinarily, this is not a bad prayer track to travel. It isn't essentially a good one either, partly because, on close inspection, it exposes the entrenched intent of the hearts of many Nigerian parents. When it comes to securing the future, I see a clear blue sky between our culture and that of the West. In Nigeria, many parents see their children as the key to their financial future. However, most Western parents see themselves as the key to their children's financial future. As basic as these two opposing propositions are, they influence the approach to money, spending behaviour, and the financial/savings culture of each of the protagonists throughout their lifetime.

No doubt, parents everywhere in the world feel they must not only educate their children, but also give them the best start in life. What makes Western parents to stand out, in my view, is that they often do not ask for anything in return. They almost always do not expect to be taken care of by the children at their old age. Rather, they prefer to make their own provisions and shy away from becoming a burden to their children. Yet, and most importantly, they have a lifetime commitment to their children that continues even after their death. Many Western parents see it as their duty, almost in a messianic way, to make their children better off on their own death. In order to achieve this, they scrimp on food, what they wear, the car they drive, holidays and even heating of their homes so that they may leave a substantial inheritance for their children. I once worked with an English lady who was probably in her forties at the time. Although she had no known illness, she set up a payment plan to pay for her funeral. She did not want to burden her only daughter with any expenses whenever she dies. As far as I know, she is still alive and kicking. In many parts of Nigeria, the converse is the case.

I must admit that African parents often work harder than Western parents to secure the education of their children. However, African parents also see their children as a means of shoring up their own future financially. The effect is seen in reckless spending on cars, ostentatious living and hard partying, which means that many parents leave their children with nothing when they die. This ordinarily would not have laboured my mind but for the entrenched and acceptable belief that it is the right of parents, having worked hard over their children, to sit up and enjoy the fruit of their labour. Some parents would place a curse on their children if this so called 'fruit of their labour' is not forthcoming. Some demand the type of car, clothing or regular gifts they want their children to buy for them. I have heard of parents who threaten fire and brimstones if their children do not give them a debt-imposing 'befitting' burial when they knock it off. Others prefer certain children to others depending on the largesse they enjoyed from each one. Few have any strategy for their grandchildren.

Am I suggesting that Western parents are better? Not in the least! But their approach to money and securing the future for the generation after them certainly is.

I must say that I have a huge respect for many of our traditions and I appreciate the efforts of my parents over my siblings and me. I also feel that children must show courtesy to their parents and ensure that they live their old age in joy and comfort. However, my advice to my generation and readers is to begin to act responsibly. While children should give parents the respect, dignity, care and love they need in their old age, it is the responsibility of parents not only to give their children a good start in life, but also to ensure that at their passing, their children get another generous stab to financial security. In other words, children are not a financial insurance for the future. Parents must in fact see themselves as the financial security to their children's future.

For parents who do not have the means to provide for their old age, it is of course the responsibility of their children to ensure their twilight years is generously taken care of. This, in my view, should be the exception, and not the rule as is common in our culture. We must desist from 'eating' the present, and then having the future for dessert.

Perhaps, I should end with this very clear instruction from Proverbs 13:22 "a good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children." This suggestion may not only refer to money, but it is a good principle to adopt. As Paul suggested: "after all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children" (2 Cor 12.14)