21 October 2020

No Longer Afraid

Buhari has murdered sleep. He’s shed the blood of innocent young protesters. We are nailing our colours to the mast of freedom. We are no longer afraid.

This is 2020. How come the Nigerian government and its handlers think they can continue to fool us. This was a premeditated massacre. CCTV cameras were first removed, before innocent young people were mowed down for protesting against extrajudicial killings and bad governance. To the government, our youths are dispensable. Big mistake! Every Nigerian is a Lekki Protester from now on.

We know the president and the political elites see peaceful protests as inconvenient. So, in the name of acting tough, and because of the fear of losing control, the man who swore to defend our constitution very swiftly engaged in killing its young. For five years, Buhari had no credible healthcare agenda for the country. For five years, he couldn’t bring up a coherent strategy to end child poverty, build new hospitals, but in two weeks he unleashed the military to kill our young who were protesting lawfully and peacefully.

No doubt, the government will argue that they acted because hoodlums had hijacked the protests. These are the same state-sponsored actors sent to create confusion a day before. For two weeks, this young people had proven their patriotism by their civility and high level of organisation. They did not loot, and no violence was recorded. If anything, they created a mostly carnival atmosphere. The questions for the president and our politicians are:

Why is it that it was only after two weeks that the hoodlums came?

Why did you not send the police to arrest the hoodlums and protect the protesters.

Why did you have to remove CCTV cameras if you wanted to stop the hoodlums.

This protest started because of extrajudicial killings by the police, it is ironic that the response is extrajudicial killings by the president. Sad indeed.

It is clear that the governor of Lagos State has taken sides with the oppressors by coming on TV today, and oozing with practiced sincerity announcing there were no fatalities. No one is fooled, the soldiers must have been real professionals trained to shoot only people’s legs in the dark. As soon as the shooting started last night, eye witnesses reported dead bodies being mopped up by the military.

It is now time for real believers in democracy to get out of this murderous government. History will not forgive you for sitting on the fence. We know history is too far off for many of you to be bothered, but we are all watching.

It is time for our legislators, governors and ministers to choose whose side they are on. Are you for the people or a government that shoots its citizens?  Osinbajo, Lawal, Gbajabiamila, Amaechi, what do you say about the crimes being committed gainst humanity under your watch? We are watching.

This is the time for the army to disobey unlawful orders. There is still time to redeem yourself. The people want to know whose side you are on.

It is time for civil servants to down their tools and not go to work. It is time for market women and men all over the country to stop trading. It is time for judges and lawyers to make their voices count. Everyone must choose whether they are for the people or for the president that shoots our children. Buhari and his government will have to shoot everyone as we are no longer afraid.

Nigerians everywhere will not stop. We will petition the International Criminal Court to bring the people behind this massacre to justice.

Buhari has shed the blood of the innocent.
We will never forget. Their blood cries out for justice. We cannot fail them. This day 20.10 2020 will become the dawn of a new Nigeria.  The day will come when Aso Rock, from where the order came, and Lekki Toll Gate, the site of the massacre will both become monuments for the EndSARS martyrs. PostcardfromLagos


20 October 2020

Nigeria's Long Walk to Freedom

The #EndSars protests of the last few days in Nigeria is the start of a new nation. Successive politicians have for long taken the people for granted. Not only are they not interested in making life better for Nigerians, they also oppress the people by flaunting their wealth. The political elite kill softly with their inactions and spit on the graves of the innocent dead. For far too long, different political parties colluded to deliberately keep a social underclass that is powerless and repressed. Or so they thought.

Now the youths who were tagged lazy by the incumbent president have shown that they are resourceful and organised. Like everyone else, I have been greatly impressed by the way they have conducted themselves in this protest. They have shunned violence and looting. They have not allowed ethnic or religious divisions to rear its head. Instead they have embraced diversity, Muslims and Christians have prayed together. Men and women are labouring in the fields of protest. Young Nigerians have, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr,
recognised that their freedom and destinies are tied to each other.

However, the problem we have is two pronged. Firstly, our leaders lack the capacity to grasp the logic behind the protest. They are so deluded, and out of touch to understand the reason for the people’s agitation.  If they did, they would have done something about the injustices of police brutality, lack of healthcare, poverty, poor education, poor transportation and the likes. Tell me, how can this president solve the healthcare problem if he does not see the shame in going abroad for medical attention.

And if he can't see this, how would his subordinates. Even if they try, these people cannot proffer solutions to Nigeria's ills as you can't solve a problem you do not acknowledge.

Secondly, our leaders will not willingly let go of their privileged lives. So, this is going to be a long walk to freedom. Every Nigerian must be ready to get on this marathon journey. It may be arduous; it may be treacherous but we as a people will surely prevail. PostcardfromLagos


Postscript

I started to write this article earlier today. I have now heard of the shooting of protesters in Lagos by the Nigerian army. If people are protesting against extrajudicial killings by the police, how come the response is extrajudicial killings ordered by the president. The president has killed softly by his inactions, now he kills openly with guns.

As I tried to put my young children to bed this evening, the most difficult thing was how to tell them that the president of our country ordered our youths to be mowed down.

I still feel that the event of October 2020 is the dawn of a new day for Nigeria. Nelson Mandela whose words I have borrowed as the title of this piece says “no power on earth can stop an oppressed people determined to win their freedom.” I know justice will be done one day. I just hope it is sooner rather than later.

25 September 2020

Wait! Time is a Revealer


Loosely translated, the Yoruba saying 'eefin ni wa' means character is impossible to conceal. The inference is that just as smoke finds a way to escape, a person's true character would ‘eventually be revealed. Of course, some people are masters at trying to defy this saying. They have a ‘Dr. Jekyll’ and ‘Mr Hyde’ lifestyle of a dark private persona that is the opposite of what they portray to the public. These types of people are good at keeping up a pretence for a rather long period of time. Ironically, 'time' is also the solution to handling such people. If you give anything or anyone time, their true self, will manifest.


I wrote this essay because I have seen many people whose lives were badly disrupted because they made the mistake of marrying the wrong character, or in some cases, got involved in business with a ‘funny’ person.


In the case of marriage, I have noticed that the pressure to get married and have children often supersedes what should be a straightforward ability to apply common-sense. We all know that when a marriage breaks down, it isn't just the couple that are thrown into the mix of the acrimony. If children are involved, they may be seared for life. I know of a man who violently assaulted his wife in the presence of their three-year-old son, then drilled into the poor boy the importance of not letting a woman dominate him. Other family members too are not immune from a toxic marriage. They suddenly become the ground that bears the full weight and venom of two wrestling elephants. Their loyalties are tested, and churned in the furnace of the warring couple's bitterness. Even when it is their own kin that is careering towards a ditch, family members are often unable to voice out what they know is true, or call their intransigent son/daughter to order because they don't want to draw their ire. This situation can be rather stressful especially for the person at the receiving end and their family who would have to pick up the pieces, and also support their son/daughter.


I have had to handle many of these situations, and I can attest that it is not to be wished on anyone. Which brings me to my point. If you are a woman and you are reading this, please note that certain men should never be given any opening to your life.  They may be outwardly successful, but internally, they are a damaged good trying to offload themselves to a na├»ve woman. Some men are petty, extremely controlling and overly suspicious. Some cannot be faithful even if they try, and some are, for lack of a better word, 'degenerates' in need of the Saviour, if only they could humble themselves. Ironically, many of these wife-abusers quote the Bible. I know of a husband, who, blinded by the log in his eyes, would send his wife the biblical attributes of a virtuous woman. These scriptural quotes are usually preceded by a stream of expletives and threats.


Of course, I have seen one or two cases of very nasty women who have preyed on very good men. However, my experience is that, in almost all the cases I have been privy to, it is women that have been at the receiving end. They married raving psychopaths who should never be allowed near any woman let alone have children with. In trying to control or 'deal' with their wife, they care less about the collateral impact on their children. They are driven by their evil desire to prove a point, or seek revenge for being belittled. Everything their wife does is below par. It is almost as if they have an incurable, rabid dislike for the woman they married.

 
I find it extremely disheartening that far too many women allow themselves to be used as a pawn in the self-immolation of these men. I know  that women are intuitive and they can often smell a fake from a mile off. However, it appears that many ignore the warning signals and woefully fail themselves by not allowing the passage of time to reveal the true character of the person for whom they open up their lives.


So here is the deal. No matter the pretence, note that time is a revealer of things. No matter the pressure, give a relationship time. Wait! Never ever rush into a relationship especially in our neck of the wood, Nigeria, where people are not usually what they pretend to be. Don’t ever forget that some are little Hitlers looking for who to control. Some have serious low self-esteem that even wealth and position cannot cure. Some have personal issues they have refused to acknowledge. Instead, they transfer their anger unto an innocent wife. The list can go on and on.


The solution is 'time.' In due time, all would be revealed. No matter how 'fine' and outwardly nice a man appears to be now, don't be fooled, don't rush into anything. If he is the right person for you, he would wait. After all Jacob endured 14 years of servitude to marry the woman he loved.

 
Don't be fooled by his 'nice' family too, there may be deep-seated background issues. Often times, some families are in on the plan to offload their black sheep to an unwitting good woman who they hope will help give him stability. Stability they couldn’t give him for over 30 years. Stability that they know is elusive. So, do yourself a favour. Wait! Don't take his father's word for it. Don't take his mother's either. Do not take his friends word for it. Check the motive of your family members and friends too. Let time do the work for you, for time is a true revealer of things. You will be glad you did. PosctcardfromLagos

Photocredit - expatkings.com

21 June 2020

WHAT FATHERHOOD MEANS TO ME


Fatherhood was and is always a big thing to me. I love being a father, I desperately wanted to be a father. For 16 years. So, when it came, it was bigger than winning the lottery.

I have two daughters, so I am the only male in our family of four. I have tried to take this responsibility quite seriously as I realise that I am a template, not only of what a father should be, but also of half the human race.

Coming into fatherhood rather late meant that, perhaps, I have been a bit more intentional with the responsibility. I planned a lot of things before my children were born. We have family meetings so they can learn to be confident. We go for walks, the theatre and cinema so that we can have family time together. I have a reminder for family quarterly holidays. Not always possible. But I have taken them to the National Portrait Gallery, the Natural History Museum and a few other museums which I can't remember. Our holidays are strategically planned to be an educational experience. We take in lakes, waterfalls, botanical gardens etc. I even took them to the University of Cambridge, and while rolling on the grass, I informed them this is the university of choice. They were five at the time. And they have totally forgotten this experience.

Although there is no fatherhood manual to follow, a few principles have guided me. I want them to know that fathers must be present, so I have had tried to re-engineer my work as a trade-off. The simple logic for me is that once children go to university at 16-18, that is it. So, it makes sense to get optimal advantage from this period when I have them 100%. Because I know that presence is not enough, I cook, do the school run and homework, we go for picnics, I wash, dry and iron their clothes. I enjoy doing all these and I hope they do too. I do not like DIY, neither do I claim to be the archetypal physically strong dad, but I have taken to doing the odd things around the house and I oblige them by carrying them each time they request I do.

My wife and I are no tiger parents, we do however want them to have an idyllic childhood. And this for me means memories, so I try to create as much as I can. That's why we have Sunday roast every week and games night too. It's also the reason for the holidays and the hours of video and audio recordings I have made of them.

Although we freely talk about most things, we have shielded them as much as possible from the matter of race. But they are no fools. They are aware of the killing of George Floyd, and we have had to answer difficult questions as diplomatically as we could.

I was away as the coronavirus was spreading, but I got back just in time before the lockdown was announced. This meant that the last three months have been a time of being together 24/7, learning together and trusting together. I would have been devastated had I not been able to make it back before the lockdown. I recognise this period is a challenging, even tragic time for many, and I hope that they can begin to find some comfort in the days and months ahead.

I suppose my principal role as a father is to provide anchor and love, both of which I have found in my heavenly Father. I am trying to model Christ to them. I often fail. I shout "go to bed" when I see them faffing around at 9pm. They waste no time to remind me of the Biblical instruction that "fathers should not exasperate their children." This is one of the perils of making them read the Bible daily. I know how very important faith is becoming to them. I place my hands on their head in prayer every night. Even if I am busy when they go to bed, they expect and know I would come to pray for them. I also have to create new stories most nights. This is their preferred bedtime reading. If I claim a lack of inspiration, they would offer me a plotline. They pretend to love my stories even when it is evident, I have lost the plot.

I am aware other peoples' experiences are different. I am also aware of the many limitations I have and the many times I have failed. I am aware mums are indispensable. I know that whatever I bring to the table, my wife's is double. But I feel the dads who read this must know they have a role to play too. We must not miss out the rewards of being a responsible father. We must not make our children miss out on the memories a responsible father can create.

Last night, my daughters got me to do 10 press-ups . This morning, on Fathers' Day, they brought me breakfast in bed (cover picture). This afternoon, they are baking a cake for me (they will eat most of it), and they have given me a 30-minute private performance of Little Red Riding Hood with their own twist, complete with about 15 dolls. I enjoy being a father. I believe it's one of the greatest privileges of life. Certainly, the greatest of mine. PostcardfromLagos



30 March 2020

After The 2020 Pandemic


I don't know whether the coronavirus pandemic is from God as many commentators have suggested. I am not sure whether it's the devil that is behind it either. What I know is that what we are witnessing is unprecedented. Whilst the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the Bubonic Plague of the 14th Century killed several million people; the whole world has never experienced this near-total shutdown.

Exactly how the coronavirus jumped from a wild animal to another animal and then to humans remains a mystery. So, although I'm not a doomsday prophet, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that perhaps, just maybe; there is an underlying trigger. Maybe, God is in the ‘shaking’ we are currently experiencing.

What is clear to me and to everyone however is that our great grandchildren will learn and talk about the pandemic of 2020 in school. Some of them may base their PhD thesis on it.

It is also clear that the world after coronavirus will be a different place. The way we work is bound to change for good. Many people will question the need to travel to work post the pandemic, particularly if they have been able to successfully execute their deliverables from home. It's not impossible that having bonded with their respective families, some will give up the rat race altogether.

As a Christian, I think the church will be profoundly affected by this pandemic. As someone who occasionally worships at home on a Sunday with my family (most recently in February), I have always found the experience very rewarding. Now that they have been forced to taste and appreciate its authenticity, many people may want to continue with this new refreshing way to worship. I also hope that people will find it easier to follow Christ rather than a pastor or denomination.

Given the enforced home-schooling, many more dads would hopefully engage the more with their children's lives and school work. Apologies, if you already do so.

In some countries, a silent revolution may start with regards to politics and political leaders. Why vote for clueless leaders who have no strategy to protect their people from a pandemic? I sincerely hope that even the poor and uneducated will see the naked emperors for whom they really are. 

Sadly, democracy could yet become the next victim of the virus as dictators find it difficult to give back powers they acquired to fight the virus.

It is also likely that countries of the world will question their fanatical reliance on China for everyday necessities such as medical equipment, drugs, syringes, building materials etc.  

I suppose that in nine months, there may be a baby boom in this country and around the world. PostcardfromLagos


01 December 2019

The Visitor


What do I know. After all, I am not a woman. What I know is that, in the past, I didn't like it whenever my wife had her monthly period. Not for the reason you thought! Just that at the time of pining for children, the appearance of the visitor was a stark reminder, a veritable proof that no baby was coming anytime soon.

Fast forward to now. Not seeing the visitor can be a cause for panic as neither of us want any more babies. How things have changed? I never knew I would be in a position where I would not desire to have children.

So, menstruation as I see it is about life, sacrifice, fertility, unfulfilled hope, despair, time is running out, fear of impending menopause, and many more. Perhaps it is known as 'PERIOD' because it's for a time and season. The time will come when the flow ceases.

I chose to write about menstruation because of its importance to life. And also because of my respect for the way women handle this 'issue' (pun intended) for 30 or more years of their lives without as much creating any scene.

It takes me all of one minute to shave my beard each day, yet, I find the process mildly stressful. So, you can understand why I doff my hat to women for the incredible dignity with which they handle this 'monthly visitor' that often stay for several days. I know this can be an extremely discomforting and discomfiting period for some women.

Talking about discomfiture; growing up, I attended this church that barred women from entering the church building during their menstrual period. Each week, a few women, from teenage to middle age had to make do with worshipping outside the church building. They could come for the service quite alright, but they get confined to the outer court like despised in-laws. Everyone walked past this line of women to get into the church building. It must have felt like running a gauntlet of men pronouncing them unclean! unclean!  I wonder why none of the women defied the rule. Of course, they had been made to believe that this would be disobedience to God. But what if the cycle suddenly starts when a woman was already inside the church building? What I remember was that the women took the experience in their strides, but imagine the feeling of knowing that everyone around you is privy to what was going on in your system.

Given that I am male, I have no window into the psyche of a woman on this matter, and can only conjecture. I can never truly understand the whole gamut of emotions surrounding menstruation. My aim was to write from the perspective of an external observer awed by the very little I know of this phenomenon that has an overwhelming impact on every life, male or female. 

So, for the incredible lightness with which women handle what to me is a very big deal, they have my full admiration.

31 July 2019

The Geography Lesson Experience

It was a Geography class in the  fourth year of secondary school. Each subject ran for about 40 minutes. However this particular session was what we referred to as a 'double lesson' as it ran non-stop for 80 minutes. Our Geography teacher was Mr Ojoxxxxx who was notorious for his tendency to be tough and uncompromising.

Mr Ojoxxxxx was very good at teaching his subject and seemed to enjoy doing so. I can still hear his booming voice enthusiastically talking about 'Pampas of Argentina, Prairies of Latin America. My memory of Geography lessons was that they usually take place in the afternoons. The tropical sun would be out with fury and would easily have created a river of sweating students but for the cross ventilation in the classrooms. In the outside sweltering sun, one can make out a lone pupil digging up a large tree or using machete to tackle a sea of very tall grass in one direction. A different direction may show another pupil on their knees.  Both would be under punishment for a misdemeanour which may be as mundane as being two minutes late to school that morning.

Mr Ojoxxxxx was also fond of using what we referred to as 'Black Maria' as his instrument of choice to discipline eering students. A student may err in many inumerable ways including being late to his class, not answering a question correctly, dozing while he teaches, talking in class, failing a test etc.

The 'Black Maria' is a thick round cable of about one inch in diameter with a hollow inside. I suspect they were discarded phone cables which somehow found their ways into the hands of teachers determined to prove their miserable prowess at 'teaching difficult pupils a lesson.'

It was not exactly Mr Ojoxxxxx that we feared, it was the Black Maria and the pain it inflicted when it hits your back, buttocks or hand with brutal force. It wasn't only him that was fond of this instrument of torture, some other teachers including our former principal Mr Faxxxxxxx also wielded it with glee. Those were really difficult days to be a pupil. On a bad day, you could be subjected to 'corporal punishment' from multiple teachers, many of whom picked offences easily and derived a sadistic joy from this form of abuse.

Years later when I briefly taught at a high school, I remember that a fellow teacher publicly flogged a female student widely known to be his lover after their affair had gone awry. These were the different faces of abuse prevalent in those days.

Back to the Geography class that sunny afternoon, we had only just begun the lesson when I felt a deep and pressing need to use the toilet. I approached Mr Ojoxxxxx to inform him, but he rejected my plea to leave the class. I couldn't believe my ears. The knowledge that it was a 'double lesson' compounded my dilemma. It would take almost one and half hours to the end of the lecture. There were no options. I was only 12 and did not have the mettle to walk out of the class. It was not the done thing in those days. I stayed in the class and employed every skill a 12 year old could muster to hold myself back. It must have been one of the longest 80 minutes of my life.

As soon as the class ended, I dashed out of the class towards the school toilet some 150 metres away. As I made my way through the lawns, I could not hold it any longer. I continued to run perhaps faster than Usain Bolt. Although I was not amused, I however felt free from the bondage of Mr Ojoxxxxxx. I was relieved. It was not a good experience. There was no change of clothing. It didn't matter. All I felt was relief. PostcardfromLagos


Postscript - When I wrote this essay on a Sunday afternoon in February 2015, I naturally included the name of the Geography teacher. However, when I decided to publish it recently, I took the decision to protect his name. My intention was not to blacklist him. Perhaps Mr Ojoxxxxx felt it was an attempt to play truant on my part. Or the session that day was so important that he didn't want me to miss out. I would never know but even if there was no justifiable reason for his action, I still consider him a victim of his time.  

27 May 2019

WHY DO WE MAKE LIFE DIFFICULT FOR SINGLE PEOPLE?



In the opening statement of her romantic novel 'Pride and Prejudice' published in 1813, Jane Austen observed "it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." That was in the early 19th Century. In 21st Century Nigeria, we have flipped this statement, and assume that every woman over 20 is in desperate need of a man. It's a stereotype that unleashes the 'poor Ola,' or 'poor Ngozi' look.

Undoubtedly, one of the most shameful characteristics of our society is this unspoken, but widespread grand design to make life unnecessarily difficult for people who are not married. You probably have done so recently without given a thought to it! Although this action is directed at both men and women, it is much more pronounced against young women. The approach includes the subtle, pseudo-religious 'it is well,' 'I am praying for you' phrases, or the pained 'I feel for you' look. Sometimes it is much more aggressive - "When are you getting married?" "Do you have a steady boyfriend?" "When are you settling down?" "If you don't 'package' yourself very well,  you may miss the boat" etc. As we all know, the phrase 'it is well', borrowed from the Biblical Shulamite woman is a popular euphemism for desperate situations in Nigeria. It has become our own version of 'Houston, there is a problem.'

I suppose, it is understandable if this kind of pressure comes from parents. After all, it's in parents' DNA to be concerned (even unduly) about their children. However, what is loathsome is how friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, and sometimes strangers make it their responsibility to impose the marriage rule on innocent people. The fact that this may not be malicious does not absolve anyone of the damage being done to those at the receiving end. Our society makes it look as if an unmarried lady has a problem. We have honed this rule so well that we check people's ring finger to find out where they belong. To us, there are two categories of people - the 'lucky' ones (married) and the 'unlucky' (unmarried).

As stated above, our ladies fair worse in this categorisation. 'Yours will come o,' 'you will not be left behind o,' are more of the pressure phrases we routinely employ to nag unmarried ladies, some of whom are barely out of their teens. 'Naggers' who are not content with these little niceties take things a step further by asking pointed questions about a woman's competitiveness in the bridal market.

Our churches have not helped either! Not only have they not taken a stand against this unhelpful situation, they encourage it by creating the belief that being unmarried is linked to being jinxed. We treat unmarried people as if they have been hexed or are in the throes of a deadly virus. Innocent parents or family members are often accused of being the ones behind an unmarried person’s perceived 'misfortune.' This phenomenon creates fear and a path for naive singles to be controlled and exploited by dubious religious leaders. It also creates an impression of women as commodities that must be traded off before a sell by date. Sadly, this belief is so ingrained that many ladies have become complicit. They get into a panic mode if they are not married at 25. I blame them not! It is difficult to shake off a narrative that has been driven into you from birth. 

The consequence of these hydra-headed pressure is that some ladies, against their better judgements,  date, and in many instances, marry guys they know are clearly not right for them, just so that they could keep the pressure away. Our society thus clearly become complicit in pressuring young women into doomed marriages. That's not the end. On their wedding day, we start to put the newly married couple under a different form of pressure often using the avenue of prayer. 'In nine months’ time, we will come and rejoice with you again.' This generates a loud response of a-a-a-men from un-thinking listeners. What if the couple are not ready to start a family? What if they want to climb mountains, and explore the world first? What if their career plan is not in tandem? Why pile on them the pressure of children when they hardly know each other? What if there are unexplained fertility issues? All of these appear not to matter. To us, what we want supersedes what an individual or a couple wants. I think I might just know what I am talking about as I was married for 16 years before I had children.

I have found that many single people can handle their single status but for the unrelenting pressure of the nosey parkers who make their lives hell. Apart from choosing a wrong partner, some have lost their self-esteem, and many are being emotionally damaged by the ocean of pressure from every corner. 

So, what can we do?

1.       For a start, why don’t we just leave people alone. Yes! Leave people alone! However much you may be tempted, refrain from asking any intrusive questions about marital status.

2.       Given that we are outwardly a deeply religious society,  if indeed you are praying for somebody about marriage, keep this to yourself. There is no need to let the beneficiary know. Shouldn't prayer be between God and the supplicant? "But when you do merciful deeds, don't let your left hand know what your right hand does", says the Lord in Matthew 6:3

3.       Let's stop targeting single ladies in our churches by 'blackmailing' them to come out for prayers so that they may find a husband. These exercises can be humiliating and is downright wrong.

4.       While it is the desire of many people to marry, it is not impossible that some people might have chosen, for whatever reason, not to do so. Their choices should be respected and not in any way impugned. 

5.       The reality of life is such that some ladies that do desire to marry might not have been asked. We should never make it their fault that no one has asked for their hands in marriage. 

6.       We should also note that some young men are aware they are not yet mature enough to marry. It would be criminal to pressure them into doomed marriages. 

7.       Finally, we must become a society where people are treated with dignity whatever their marital status. Life is complicated enough. Let's not make it any harder. PostcardfromLagos

22 March 2019

20 Children, 20 Years; 30 Adults, 30 Months - A Story of Human Dispersals & Change

The Yorubas have many interesting concepts and sayings. As a young boy, I used to ponder on some of them, the clear majority of which were simply a conundrum to my then small mind. With many of these sayings, you would first have to understand the context and oftentimes, you also need to make sense of each word. What is not in question however, is the richness of what is being said, pun, fact or fiction. An example is this saying:

"Ogun omode o le sere f'ogun odun, ogbon agba o le sere f'ogbon osun."

In its simplest form, this proverb is about the dispersal of people, the scattering of hitherto young lives to the far-flung corners of the earth as age, desire to achieve and the quest for life forces them to move. Old relationships are shattered or abandoned as the actors seek new ones in their new schools, universities, workplace or cities. Life happens, and people are transported to new destinations in their beliefs, methods, ideas and even political leanings as they grow older. We shift and change leaving behind fractured relationships.

In its morbid form, the saying is about death. It anticipates, even predicts the death of older people. It makes no pretensions about the fact, that in the spectrum of life, octogenarians are far closer to the grave than the day they were issued from the womb. So, this saying pulls no punches about the decay of relationships and the decay of life itself.

The literal translation of the phrase is that it is impossible for 20 children to be in the same playgroup  for 20 years. There is bound to be some trigger that would see to the break-up of the group. This trigger is usually not negative. As stated above, some would move because of school, university or due to family relocation. Whatever may be the cause, the effect is a dispersal. It is inconceivable that 20 children would still be closely knitted 20 years down the line.

In the same vein, it is hard for 30 older people (we are talking of octogenarians here) to be together for 30 months. Whilst senior citizens are not usually concerned with the need to move frequently, the undertone is that at least one in 30 octogenarians who meet up regularly would have moved to the great beyond within two and half years. It is not impossible that a group of death-defying 30 octogenarians may be able to pull off this feat, the overarching moral of this saying is that there is a time and place for everything. Life is seasonal, so make hay while the sun shines.

Here is a simple exercise to end this essay. Think of your classmates at your first school, how many of them have you seen in the last five years or how many are you still in constant touch with? What about friends from church or the community where you lived 20 years ago. Would you ever be able to assemble 20 of them in one place? Even if you could, you probably can't keep all of them in the same place for a week. Change happens, we follow and adapt. PostcardfromLagos