The More Things Change…….

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As a child, my uncle taught me how to compare price and value through different periods and across currencies. He said to pick a relatively stable currency- the US Dollar or the British Pounds and compare value. i.e. a product of service which cost N50 in say 1990, the value today will be determined by getting the value of N50 in dollars in 1990, converting that dollar value to Naira today. Not sure if that is a universally acceptable standard of conversion but that lesson has stuck such that I always find myself converting price to Dollars to really ascertain the value of a product or service. My regular vendors know already that I always ask them what the dollar price is for every commodity/ service. I will find out the dollar price of a product, add some for shipping and profit and if the difference between that and your selling price is still too much I will call you out for attempting to rip me off. (Before we are tempted to get into the Buy-Naija-To-Grow-The-Naira conversation, honestly ask yourself what percentage of goods we use isn’t imported. We are an import dependent economy and as such should always be concerned with how our Naira values against the stronger currencies. In any case, that’s not the purpose for this article).

Sometime in 2015, I got a job in Lagos that paid N210k. Wasn’t bad for an entry level job, 210k was a thousand dollars at the time. Unfortunately, in a few short months, my salary commenced a downward slide, it depreciated and kept on depreciating until it got to this current sustained plateau; which isn’t where it started though! Sometime in 2017 it got as bad as 420 dollars (in Naira of course) when the dollar exchanged for N500 to a dollar. Standard of living fell, I was poorer through no fault of mine, the economy just worsened with each passing day. (Before they come for me and try to make it as though I’m referring to luxury items and the likes of imported rice, chicken, seedless grapes (thank you Tolu Ogunlesi), etc. It’s not about that. We all know the basics like pineapple, ogbono seeds, even garri are now imported. Prices have skyrocketed, income keeps declining. How are the people expected to survive?

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Fast forward to 2018, through a few promotions and compensation reviews (my organisation was also affected by the economic downturn and had to constrict salary bands); I’m not yet where I was three years ago. To earn the same salary I was offered in 2015, I would have to earn about N360k- but I’m not there yet. So, although I’ve moved up on the Naira income band, it’s been a downward move on the dollar income band, with expenditure on the upward slide on the dollar band.

The economy, ideally should reflect our collective efforts as a people, but in truth is largely dependent on the actions of a few- those in government and the people they have appointed to steer the economy (because we continue to largely be a mono-product economy, despite all white noise to the contrary). And we all know how well those in Government and their hirelings have steered the economy.

So, to repeatedly read on the news in these past few weeks that we are back to the same politicking and politricking witnessed three to four years ago, with the same politicians cross carpeting and/or realigning with no evidence of any change is just sad. The populace are cheering when we need to ask ourselves the hard-mercenary question: what’s the value of this drama? In hard currency! Like the recent bank ad wars; how did it translate to value for the customers? Answer is; nothing changed. Will XYZ moving to 123 party make for better governance? If no, then its just comic relief, the kind which leaves a depressing aftertaste.

Tunde Leye

These guys (and ladies)- who represent about 1% of Nigeria’s 180million people are just sorting themselves out without any care for the common man- whom they are supposed to be representing, and…. we are entertained! Cheering them on and picking sides, arguing based on our (current) god-fathers and patron. To what end? What change/ benefit did the fence jumping antics of old translate to? (recall when Dino Melaye and co had to scale fences to get into the National Assembly premises) What’s the value of the change received so far? What benefit did we derive from demonizing the hazel-eyed minister? How did the change mantra translate to more money in our pockets? Better infrastructure? Better equipped schools, or even more children in school? Better access to funding for entrepreneurs? We unraveled the snake eating up funds in Jamb, social media was awash with the stories, we’ve put it out that Jamb now remits more into the TSA, but how has that translated to an improved education system?

e be like say- tuface idibia

The answer is: nothing has changed. Rather it has worsened. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is not about pointing accusing fingers, this isn’t about ethnic or party lines or affiliations. It’s a question of: how have we fared? Let’s have a look at a few examples that will help explain it:

  1. We all know at least one person that has lost a job due to the organisation down-sizing or closing. How are those families supposed to survive on a reduced or no-income? We have become the poverty capital of the world. What this means is we have more people sliding into the poverty bracket daily. Let that sink in.

The more people who are out of jobs, the more people we have tending to crime. It’s not an excuse, it’s a basic fact of life; hunger, need, leads even the most honorable to misbehave.

  1. Canada (and the western world) has become the ‘migration destination’ of our people. Everyone is migrating and rightly so! Abi? They cannot come and die. Let’s explore how this migration affects Nigeria- serious brain drain! A colleague joked: the only doctors left in the hospitals are the ones who haven’t gotten Canadian visas! As it stands today, we have outsourced healthcare to religious bodies and other such miracle centres.

The hospitals, parastatals, banks, startups, conglomerates, etc. people are leaving. In droves! How does it affect us? Decrease in quality of service, decrease in quality of deliverables- your employees are using work hours to fill out visa applications. The ones that are left behind are thoroughly demotivated. But we are happy, right? After all, it could be worse; so and so could have been president and sell us to Cameroun and other such stories.

  1. The third point I would like to point out is that the world is watching. While we are being entertained by the antics of our politicians, the world is watching us and making decisions on the degree of our foolishness. Very embarrassing.

The investor you are courting reads in the news of the traffic gridlock in Lagos- which the government has been unable to provide a lasting solution to for years, and he/she is asking himself if you are wise investment decision because of your operating environment. How productive will the staff who spend half their day in traffic be? If you are now unfortunate to have offices in Apapa and its environs- don’t bother. Because they will ask themselves how people and products will come to you and how the difficulty in navigation will affect product/service availability and pricing.

Your investors read of the mayhem the cattle herders bandits are causing across the nations and how it has affected farmlands. Do you think he/she will be keen on investing in your agricultural endeavor?

 

  1. The current difficulty with the PVC registration to me is also a sign of a failed system. We are expected to be at the registration centres as early 5.00am to put our name on a list, then wait around all day and you still might not get to register on that day. Bear in mind, that the information you are required to provide is similar to that provided for your international passport, national ID card, BVN, sim registration, etc. we keep re-providing this information and someone hasn’t had the bright idea that we can synchronise information? We could synchronise all of the previously collected information and have a portal where you can update details like current residential address- make life easier for the citizenry? Possible? Na! how else would we appreciate INEC but through the rigor and difficulty with which it takes to get things done. We are stuck in a rut where we only appreciate something based on the difficulty with which we got it. Cue the- nothing good comes easy people! #FrontlinersinthesufferingOlympics!

I could go on and on, listing the ways the polity has been negatively affected by these present and past politicians, who lack foresight or simply the will to do that which is right. This article probably won’t end. These guys will continue to treat the polity with disdain and we will continue to be a country where anything goes if we do not rise up and demand for better governance.

Here we are in 2018, a good time to remember Tuface’s e be like say.  It’s that time again when they come to woo us with promises that will never materialize. To entertain us with the theatrics which always characterize the electioneering season. Should we continue to allow ourselves to be entertained and perhaps to receive the crumbs that may flow as campaign funds? (did I hear a God forbid?) Is that ideal behavior today- 2018?

Now isn’t the time to be entertained with their antics, this isn’t the time to argue what party is better at corruption or the disregard of the rule of law. Now is the time to demand better from those whom we have elected to rule us. Emphasis on rule us, not rule over us.

office of the citizen

In addition to that, we also need to get involved, participate. At the party level, the electoral level. Participate, not in looking to line your pockets, but in looking to better the economy. It’s not about joining one cool kids movement that you don’t know the purpose. Let’s be as selfish as the politicians have proven themselves to be, but let’s be selfish for the common interest; we need to demand for policies that will better majority of the people and not a few. We need to transit from praise singers and bag carriers to active citizens. These politicians are not entertainers, we have Nollywood for that (like Peter Obi said). Its time they stopped these theatrics and got down to the significant business for which they were elected; which is governance.

Someday in the future, I hope to write on how we need to pay attention to people in governance at any level, particularly the state and federal legislature, because therein lies the true power of governance.

Until then, we must be committed to real change and not buzz words. We need to fully occupy the office of the citizen. Because we must.

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The Other Woman

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This article was conceived in Lagos traffic. There’s nothing new about Lagos traffic; it’s where talents are developed and lost, and majority of the population waste away, slowly, daily, unknowingly.

The Other Woman, Chinma Eke Blog

So, there I was in home-bound, distracting myself with twitter when I stumbled on an article about the late Princess Diana, and since no article on Princess Diana can be complete without a mention of Camilla Parker Bowles, I also did a quick google search on Camilla. I had always been curious about her and it beat looking out at the sea of cars and wondering why we aren’t yet closer to our destination. I had always thought of Camilla as ‘the other woman’, I bet that’s how most of the world sees her. I think I read somewhere there was a time she was the most hated woman on earth! That evening I tried to read up on the woman for whom Prince Charles was willing to give up the throne, I tried to keep an open mind regardless of my views. I’ve always had this feeling this is not the life she would have chosen, it couldn’t have been easy being the world’s most hated mistress.

I’m staunchly #teammarriage or perhaps #teammonogamy I don’t care if the love is written in the stars by the gods, if they are married; leave them alone! It doesn’t matter if they are reasonable in the marriage, you shouldn’t date them until they decide they want out of the marriage. However, the same me loves the series- Scandal, as a matter of fact I loved it better when Fitz and Mellie were married and Olivia was the other woman. Olivia had gumption, she was the strong ‘single’ lady who could make or break the American presidency; while Mellie, though no push-over was constrained by the ‘Mrs.’ title, I think the script writers didn’t do her character justice.

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Either way and inspite of my love for Olivia Pope, I’m still #teammonogamy! I believe marriage is a binding contract and like all contracts should be adhered to with all parties abiding by its terms. At any time either of the parties chooses or needs to walk away all they have to do is notify the other party, have a conversation and observe the terms and conditions of disengagement. Like an employment contract; it’s unethical to be in full term employment with ABC industries and at the same time employed by XYZ industries. The moment you get the employment with XYZ you must leave ABC. Clean break!

Then I thought of the side hustle, most people have one and it does not actively interfere with their day job. Could the relationship with the mistress be termed ‘the side hustle’? Let’s not go down that lane because then we have to think of the sequence of activities that have to take place for *Chike to move to XYZ. He must apply, attend interviews, negotiate with XYZ, while still at ABC! Now liken that to a marriage, the application and interview process is already termed cheating in my mind. For me, the moment you see the XYZ ad and decide to apply; please let’s have a conversation and agree to part amicably. I cannot come and be thinking you are still on my team while you are testing the waters outside. But then, how can you resign when you aren’t sure you will get the new job or that the terms they will offer will be favorable? Also, you could see an opportunity that doesn’t require your full-time attention and allows you to merge it with your day job successfully without either suffering. There are even cases where the boss and colleagues know of the side hustle and even patronize you- lol, I can’t liken that one to a relationship o! It’s mind boggling; very French!

So, I tried to have this conversation with my friend to be sure I haven’t fallen off the #teammarriage wagon by beginning to understand what drives ‘the side hustle’.  She made matters worse by trying to rationalize why people look outside and the economic importance of ‘the other woman’. She cited the 2014 rom-com: The Other Woman. She was of the opinion that Leslie Mann’s character- Kate didn’t have that extra pizzaz a fine young upwardly mobile man’s wife should have and even her biological children will have cheated on her! In her opinion, it wasn’t all bad; Carly and Amber took off a lot of pressure for Kate, her husband came home happy not snappy, etc. I need new friends!  

The other woman

We did distil that thought though, Kate probably wasn’t like that before marriage, she most likely had the ‘extra’, enough to get herself to the alter. Whatever happened after the vows, in the movie she said she gave up a lot for her husband, but we all saw how it turned out. But why are we like that; very promising before marriage or before we are offered a job but quick to get complacent once we’ve settled in be it at our job, in a relationship, everywhere (happens with the best of us). You know, when that happens; we leave room for another to shine just by standing beside our lack-lustre form be it the other woman or a colleague.

Another argument is that it’s not always about the other woman being better, it just might be that: the heart wants what the heart wants! Lol that could be it right? That might explain why Prince Charles knowing he couldn’t marry Camilla at the time never stopped longing for her even after marrying Princess Diana. If is do say so myself, those two have proved their affection wasn’t just a fluke by having been together these long. (I can’t believe I am understanding their relationship! Where’s my #teammarriage hat)?

I refuse to attempt to understand what drives or fuels ‘the other woman’, it could be love, greed, the wife’s inadequacies or plain old curiosity. Neither can I fathom living with that arrangement, no matter how hard I try (I’m too selfish to understand the concept of sharing in the context of marriage). I was once tempted, guy was tempting for days, we gelled, within a day of meeting him it was like we had known each other forever; finished off each other’s sentences, had the same tastes; well except on the tiny issue of monogamy. And it was on that point I stood to say; not today devil!  (be like me, where’s my white hat?) It doesn’t matter if the African society is traditionally polygamous and we actively or passively share depending on our religious inclination or the choices of our partners. I’m firmly #teammarriage!

So, here are my questions; for what reasons can we justify the existence of ‘the other woman’, have you ever found yourself knowingly or unknowingly as ‘the other woman’ or if you are #teammonogamy like me but admire Olivia Pope or any other mistress, how do you cope with the double standards?

xoxo chinma

Images Credit: Google Images

For Adults on Children’s Day

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Children

Aunt Nikki* called out to me as I walked past her shop. I was hoping she won’t see me as I walked past, but alas I wasn’t so lucky. She spotted and called out to me.

I summoned up my trademark smile and turned to her. “Kaa Aunty.” (Good evening aunty) I greeted her.

“Chinma imelagi?” (Chinma how are you?) She asked in response.

“Adim mma. I lua le?” (I’m fine, are you back?) I asked her. I asked her referring to the trip I knew she had taken recently.

“Alua lem. Mommy gi a?” (I’m fine. How is your mom?) She responded and asked.

On and on the conversation went. When I finally continued my journey, a thought occurred to me: I had become my mother!

My mother is the strongest woman I’ve met, just by being, she challenges me to be better. Let’s not even get into her beauty; my sister and I have concluded our family’s beauty is one that gets better with age. That’s the only way to get through the ‘your mom is more beautiful than you’ comments. I love and admire my mom very much, so much that I love it when people say I’m just like her. But I don’t want to be ‘all of her’. There’s some of her character I would rather do without. Top of my mind is the ‘Nigerian’ greeting culture.

The greeting/ conversation with Aunt Nikki that just happened, was exactly how my mom would have greeted her. And if I were with my mom at the time (or maybe a few years earlier) I would have said a simple ‘good evening’ and walked ahead a few paces to wait for my mom and aunt Nikki to ask about everything and everyone while silently wondering why they couldn’t just say a quick good evening and walk away.

But here I am, replicating that same behavior I would love to not do. I imagine a lot of young adults are in my shoes, wondering how we got to replicate behavioral patterns we dislike. Some of us have come to realise that the world isn’t so black and white and issues aren’t so clear cut. The clarity of our childhood and youth has been eroded by this adult thingy and we are on our way to being our parents, guardians, teachers, mentors.

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I have used an example that’s easy, almost a non-issue, but when you really examine every other of your behaviors and mannerisms, you will find yourself replicating your parents or the people you associate with. In the good and the bad. That’s how issues like polygamy, domestic violence, lawlessness, drunkenness, etc. become family traditions. A child will do what he/she sees you do a hundred times befre he/she will do what you have asked him to do once. In the words of Dr. Gregory House of ‘House’ medical series: monkey see, monkey do!

Try as we can, we cannot run away from the influence of our formative years, which is why as parents we need to nurture our children with this consciousness. Knowing fully well that we are the bows from which our children as living arrows are sent forth.

Children 2

For our sakes as much as theirs, we need to do better. We need to be the future we hope to see. It’s not enough to want to do better, we need to actually do better. Ko ba le da! (so that it can be well).

 

Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults. – Abraham Lincoln.

Have a happy Children’s day!

*Not real name.

xoxo chinma

 

What’s in a name?

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meaning-name-name-definition1

A name is an identity, something for which you’re known, which you stand for.

So what’s my hang-up about names?

People have done battle because of a change of name, society attaches so much importance to a name; whatever it may be. Well, as it rightly should. So if I say my name is bla-bla-bla, it is my name. You have no right to change or refine it! Or misspell or mispronounce it.

Here’s the thing: I meet you or I write to you and I introduce myself as; Chinma. What that is saying is; please refer to me as Chinma. Please don’t go fishing, it’s not a time to ask: will that be Miss, Ms. or Mrs. Chinma? Like those irritating customer care agents. Neither do I expect you to reply me mispronouncing or misspelling my name, if you didn’t hear me clearly please seek clarification. Thank you very much.

It’s particularly irritating if it’s a written correspondence and I have written ‘Chinma’ or ‘Chidinma’ as the case may be, and then you reply or refer to me as ‘Chima or Chindinma’. Haba! I know us Nigerians struggle with names of people from other tribes or complicated names, but: the name is there, written in plain text, all you had to do was copy and paste. That’s not difficult nau, I haven’t asked you to spell my name, and it’s not a test, just get the spelling of my name.

You see us Nigerians are finicky about such things. For some, it’s the title: Chief, Dr., Professor, High Chief (definitely different from a mere ‘chief’), Mrs., etc. we all have our names and titles and are finicky about such things.

I think it stems from the fact that our names have meanings and importance; a letter added here or taken out there gives a name a totally different meaning. See the Chinma- Chima example: Chinma- Good God, Chima- God Knows. See why someone will have a problem with you misspelling or mispronouncing his/her name? Or it could be about Chidinma- God is good, Chimdinma- my God is good. In this case, just one letter differentiates the names and its wrong to think just because you don’t understand it that it’s the same. Seyi is not the same as Sayo. Pay attention to the details for that’s where the devil is lurking.

This is like a person saying; this is who I am and you (respondee) are saying; this is who you are! Like seriously? Who are you to change my name? Who are you to decide not to use my title or whatever?

There’s also this thing about special names for certain people based on relationship. If I’m walking on the street and I hear my name it’s Lagos, I won’t turn. Lol, I already have an idea of what kind of relationship I have with the caller or where we’ve met by what he/ she calls me. So that provides clarity. Caveat: If you are present at that meeting, it’s not a call to start calling me honey bun or sweet cheeks because you heard my dear aunty call me that! No, stay in your own lane with regards to what you call me.

There’s also the thing about given names vs preferred names. Say; mama and papa decide to name their child; baby boy, and the child grows and decides to be known as; wizchild. Lol. The rule I will follow for this is; call the person what he has insisted he should be called i.e. what he has introduced himself as. QED.

This name thingy, it can be as e get o, people take serious offence to being called something they will not prefer or not being called what they prefer. It can be the difference between getting a lucrative contract and not getting it. It can be the difference between getting a job and not getting it. Front office and customer facing staff kind-off understand it, hence their asking us; will that be Miss or Mrs.? But…. I think the rule you should follow is: refer to the person as the person has introduced himself. Imagine sending me a request mail referring to me as Chindinma!!! You have successfully pissed me off already nau, case closed.

To avoid this, I will suggest the use of the ma and sir rule. Trust me you can get away with that any day or time. Just politely refer to the person as ma and sir. Uber gets this one, their drivers are trained to ma and sir their passengers to death.

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So, in conclusion; what’s the big deal about a name one might ask? I would say it’s about the fact that it is a differentiating nomenclature. Differentiates A from B, it tells of a story. Mine says my parents looked at me and thought how good God is. Yours might testify that your parents looked at you and felt joy unspeakable or prophesied goodness into your life. Whatever the case may be, it is your name and no one has a right to change it.

For all of you who specialize in misspelling and mispronouncing names; God is watching you. For those who have had or constantly have their names destroyed; I feel your pain, share your story.

Till next week, wishing you love and light!

xoxo chinma

We should all have filters!

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rose colored glasses

My friend Eka* is the go to person when you need honest, no bullshit advice. She serves it hot. However, as time went on we began to notice Eka’s honesty was bothering on brutality/ fault finding. We quickly crowned her the ‘chairperson- fault finders association’. However, as the days rolled into years, we found her ‘frank speaking’ to be a little too…. I don’t know: too frank, tinged with bitterness, I don’t know.

Eka termed it: us being allergic to the truth, she believed we were ‘beginning to do bad things’ which we knew couldn’t hold up under the light! Lol.

I don’t think so, matter of fact; I have this sneaky suspicion Eka is kinda seeing the word through (what’s the opposite of rose colored glasses?) muddy glasses and sees everything as muddy. My thoughts, but in the spirit of this article; I won’t be the one to tell Eka. And if you’re my friend and are reading this and think you are Eka; maybe, maybe not, sha call me.

These days I’m so scared of stepping on people’s toes, I’m literarily working on egg shells and if you know me you’ll know ‘I’m as clumsy as I am elegant. Like one minute I’m balancing a stack of fine china in my left hand, and the next I’m shattering well-arranged on a stack china’- that was just a figure of speech and if you can’t understand it; I can’t help you. Or, sorry; I can and will interpret when I can speak it in plain English.

The point to this whole song and dance is; people are on edge and we should all have filters. I should have completed this article yesterday, perhaps with it fresh in my mind I would have a ‘zen-ful’ evening.

I lost it yesterday evening; like a lot of people have been doing. You see ehn, I’m just as human as the rest of us. Matter of fact, I’m the first to claim our humanity- like I wear it like a badge so no-one ever expects me to perform miracles. Mi le se ju ara mi! So, as I was saying; I totally sincerely regret loosing it last night, but the actions of the other person; like ki lo de? Why is it so impossible difficult for older ones to listen to the younger ones, even when you have been proven right time and time again (that I believe should be a conversation for another day)?

Anyways, back to this article; as we go about our daily activities, we all need filters.

For those not in the know; filters in this case or as used in this article refers to the picture filters used on photography apps. Filters can be used to enhance or edit a picture, blot out or cover the defects we will love to hide. We need these filters to be able to blot out, cover, ignore defect; so we can see the beauty in everyone and everything. As against ‘fault finding’ like Eka.

Filter is what will have you saying; ‘not today devil’ in the face of provocation and avoiding that provocation. Filters will get you to a place of zen, everything looking all peachy; seeing lemons as a call for lemonade and overripe banana as a chance to bake banana bread! Lol!

Why should we have filters? Because you and I are on edge, our reality today is that to survive in Nigeria is HARD! People are struggling with a lot and you don’t know what just might tip the other person over. The economy is in the gutters and nothing spreads despair like lack of money. Wait a minute, the economy is also DEPRESSED! So you can understand why I’m on here asking you all to spread love and light, right? Because you just might not know who is close to the doing something stupid, I’m sure we don’t want anybody’s actions weighing on your conscience.

Here’s what I advise:

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  1. Remember the old saying: ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything’? Revamp it. Learn to hold your tongue if you don’t have anything positive to say. This might be a tad difficult if your opinion is sought and saying something nice will be falsehood. This is where you need to apply the next rule:
  2. Speak with tact: diplomacy. You know that art of speaking where you can ask someone to go to hell and they will reply: ‘with all pleasure’? Learn it. It is profitable.
  3. Count to a hundred, or at least twenty. Sha do some mental calculation before you respond. Not easy to do, yes, but learn it. Lest someone’s foolish action weigh on your conscience.

And if you feel what’s against you is mre than what’s for you? Please read Mountains or Miracles

  1. Finally; it’s never that bad! So long as the person hasn’t killed someone, it isn’t ever that bad. Think this, do not take anything to heart, share love and light wherever you go, and may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God. Amen.

xoxo chinma

*Not real name.

Images credit: google.com

Mountains or Miracles

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What do you see?

Suicide hotlines

Between the devil and the deep blue sea. Whenever I think of that those words I always put on my analysis hat, like what are my options were I in that position:

  • The devil: death- physical and spiritual
  • The deep blue sea: I could thread water to safety for as long as my strength can carry me, I could be rescued, or I could drown; and die physically. But with the hope of life everlasting.

It’s never that bad.

It really truly isn’t ever that bad!

I had a whole different post ready and in my drafts, but this came to me and I just had to type up and share. The recent reports of suicide is alarming. I’m just going to stay in my neck of the woods and talk about Nigeria’s recent suicide crisis. We never used to be like this. We used to be so resilient. Remember the jokes about how if you pushed a Nigerian to the wall he/she will break the wall down and keep going, surviving, thriving. Recently it appears as though everything has gone south and a lot of us are taking the suicide route. The despair and hopelessness I see in people is alarming. People are sad, and solace, through joy can only be found in God (I don’t care what anyone thinks).

A lot of people are weighed down with the cares of the world and with the feeling that no one knows what you’ve been through or are going through. Truth is; everyone has their own pain, no one lives on easy street.

There’s always hope!

We need to move beyond seeing the mountains and seeing the miracles. Take each victory and mining it for all its worth.

Where have we gone wrong?

I think part of the problem is our judgmental attitude as Nigerians (my opinion). Every one of us are ‘Judge Judy’ prototypes and card carrying members of ‘The Fault Finders Association’. We are always seeking for where to lay blame or a fault to highlight. I’ve heard people share their burden and find themselves being blamed for something or the other.

Mistakes, Chinma Eke

We have such a terrible culture of shaming and judging the victims that people are wary of opening up. There’s no shame in being depressed, in every mental illness; it’s an ailment such as malaria and typhoid. There’s also not shame in having made bad decisions; financial, marital, career, etc. There’s no shame in having done something bad. Truth is, as much as we like to think we grow older and wiser; we still and will still make mistakes.

PSA:

Dearest Nigerians, it’s not all the time find fault, or proffer solution. Sometimes, just listen. Half the time a solution comes to the ‘sharer’ by just voicing the thoughts. I think Nigerians generally have a problem with listening in silence but….. that’s a topic for another day.

Another reason I think could be responsible for this is the fact that we have few licensed mental health practitioners. And please this does not read: motivational speaker, life coach, religious leader or community elder. The available ones are few and far between. Psychologist and Psychiatrist are not glamorous professions! I remember when in school and even currently, people do not understand what Psychology or Psychiatry is all about. They read Psychiatry to mean; Mad people’s doctor and Psychology to mean: mind reader, and they are like: ‘why should anyone spend school time studying how to read minds’. The more enlightened will think: counselor, and think: anyone can be a counselor. Yes some people are naturally gifted in counselling, but hello?? Are you licensed?

The few times I open up myself to listen and counsel, it almost always ends with; ‘Chinma you are good at this, I feel better already, you should practice your discipline.’ I always remind the person that a first degree in Psychology does not a counselor make, in fact I need at least a Masters with PhD in view to be able to practice. What helps me and what people find most valuable is a lesson I actually learnt from my sister. She might not remember this conversation but years ago she had once unburdened herself to me and I responded in kind. She later told me that there are some times when the person just wants to be listened to and not joined in the pity party. I never forgot that lesson. It sunk in better than the classes my mom paid for. Added to the fact that I’m more of a listener than a speaker.

A problem shared is a problem solved/ halved?

Depends on who you share with, it can quickly become a problem compounded. I know for a lot of people it’s about not being able to see past their problems and getting to a neutral point where they can give good advice, for some others it’s also about not having the full picture of the situation. Which is why full disclosure is required to be able to be helped.

If someone happens to approach you for counselling, listen, pray with the person, encourage the person to get professional help (prayer and medical help are not mutually exclusive). Don’t counter with a ‘if I tell you my own problems you will feel sorry for me’. Listen and offer advice as your opinion, not as the gospel (except unless you are quoting the gospel purely and not giving it your own interpretation).  Help the person to see the miracles and opportunities that can arise from the situation no matter how bad. Don’t give advice you won’t take, if you are at a loss for what to say; don’t say anything, refer the person to someone else you think can help. A hug, a prayer, a reassuring ‘it is well’, will serve better than a judgement or ill advice.

I say to you who feels like the walls are closing in on you, get help. Your need, pain, feelings are valid. Get help, professional help! Yes, you are not the worst hit in whatever situation you find yourself, but get help. yes, no be your own bad pass, but get help! Keep seeking help until you find it. And when all else fails, look to God not man. I pray that your eyes be opened like the prophet’s servant in the Bible to see the angels who are for you and to recognize that they are more than they that are against you.

Most importantly, keep your head up!

xoxo chinma

Your Colleagues are NOT your Friends

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Or maybe they are!

Friendly colleagues

Most organizations are high pressured. The 8-5 thingy is long gone, and for organizations that are still compliant to this timeline, to resume for work at eight means you must have left your home by 7 at the earliest. And if you live in traffic filled Lagos and have to do the Island-Mainland commute, chances are you have to leave your home as early as 5am in some cases and you’re getting home by 8-9pm on a good traffic day. So if you factor in your commute time you see your job isn’t really an 8-5, more like a 4am to 10pm (preparation time included).

For some who are lucky to live in the same neighborhood as their colleagues, carpooling is an option. This in effect will mean you are with your colleagues from as early as 5:30am as the case may be until about 10pm. The argument is; since you spend most of your time at work and with your colleagues, why can’t you be friends with them? Valid question.

The thing however is, the work environment is very competitive and you can only be friends in every sense of the word if you don’t report to the same boss and there is never a reason to compare you both. Which in most organizations with cross functional teams is almost impossible.

I cannot totally rule out office friendships, being that the strength or otherwise of any friendship is dependent on the level of maturity of the parties involved. But the thing with the variety grown in the office is it’s subject to all the roforofo that goes with the office environment. Can you objectively assess your friend (if the relationship is across cadres), or if there’s just a spot to move up as there often is; will you let your friend get it or will your friendship be done in as a result of the competition to move up?

I have a friend which the friendship grew in the office space. Matter of fact a lot of our colleagues couldn’t get over how close the sisterhood grew to be. Not just were we within the same department, we were also from different cultures. We’re no longer colleagues but have remained friends. But some friendships haven’t been so successful. Take the story of Jane and Mary* who were colleagues, friends, and sisters. They both resumed for duty on the same day, their husbands knew each other, and everyone knew them as friends. Until their immediate supervisor resigned and their manager needed to make a decision on who will step into the vacant role. The manager chose to place them on a rotational probation; they took turns being supervisors. Before long, cracks appeared in their relationship. It was obvious a decision will be made one day and each of them wanted the decision to be in their favor. They began competing, each trying to outshine each other and when the decision was made in neither of their favor, the friendship had been ruined.

Like I said earlier, the office environment is one filled with intrigues, drama, competition, etc., and it’s easy to see how friendships will be lost in a bid to get ahead. The male folk tend to be able to manage this things better (guys don’t have wahala). Like someone said to me; ‘if I can’t make friends with my colleagues whom I spend the greater part of my day with, then I won’t have friends’. I agree totally, but with a caveat; remember, you are colleagues first before friends.

This article isn’t meant to scare you off friendly relations with your colleagues, for like every relationship; the work space relationship has its own challenges as well. It’s rather meant to remind you; Your colleagues are NOT your friends.

Have a great day.

xoxo chinma

*Not real name

Dear Women, #Beboldforchange

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It is said that ‘women are their own worst enemies’ and this is largely true. Behind the downfall of a woman is another woman. As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s day with the theme: Be Bold for Change, my question to you dear sister is: what change are you driving?

The IWD has identified the following ways in which we can #Beboldforchange:

  • I’ll challenge bias and inequality
  • I’ll campaign against violence
  • I’ll forge women’s advancement
  • I’ll celebrate women’s achievement
  • I’ll champion women’s education

Visit the IWD page to pledge to be Bold for change.

A lot of us might say all of the things on there are beyond my control. That may be so, but the things within your control, how have you changed the status?

  • Things like the way you treat your subordinates (female bosses are the most difficult to manage)
  • It’s also in the way you treat others less privileged than you
  • How about the way you treat your daughters and sisters-in-law (let’s not get started on the mother-daughter-in-law thingy)

If you really examined it, you will see that it’s not so difficult to stand for change. Like the hymn Jesus bids us shine by Susan Warner says;

Jesus bids us shine,

With a pure, clear light,

Like a little candle,

Burning in the night.

In this world is darkness,

So let us shine–

You in your small corner,

And I in mine.

We can shine, change our little or small world. Challenge gender bias, inequality, campaign against gender based violence; be a woman’s woman! Have the back of your sisters the way guys have each other’s back; so when we speak men will listen and not sneer at us.

As we join the conversations and narratives tomorrow in the pursuit of gender equality and fight against cultural biases that inhibit our growth and potential, let us remember that change begins with how we as women see, treat and fight for other women. Change does not just begin with us, it begins when we change!

xoxo chinma

Conversation: The Price of a Car Ride?

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Hello darlins, how have you been. 

I’ve been MIA a lot of times, I’m sure quite a lot of you have given up on me. E ma binu si mi, ejo!

So, you all know I write based n inspiration, well for a while lady inspiration has gone on a vacation such that I haven’t been able to finish the Breaking the Silence series. (I have faith though, one day I will finish it). 

Rather dear darling Lady inspiration has chosen to gift me with resurrected Random thoughts kind of like the Ms Psyche series of the past. Matter of fact I have a few of this articles in my draft. So I said to myself; I’m just going to post them. Apologies to all ye drama likers (myself inclusive), it’s just not coming, for now. 

So, here you go, I hope you like. Let me know what you think either way.

car-ride

We’ve often had to ride with someone; either by carpooling, ride sharing or good old fashioned asking for a ride. On these rides, I gather social norm and expectation is that the least you could do is to converse the driver and co-passengers and enliven the ride.

However, in my rebelling, anti- all things normal mode, I ask: is it compulsory? Must I gist with you because you offered me a ride?

I’m guilty of a lot of projecting, I imagine everyone is, I just am confident enough to say it. I project my thoughts, feelings, reactions to others and I judge that way. I ask myself: what will Chinma do? That helps me have an idea of what the other person will do. I also try to be fair and flexible, making allowances for individual differences and I wonder why others don’t? Like, you should understand when someone isn’t chatty and just let the person be. Don’t come with the amebo-masked-as-concern and be asking leading questions upandan like we’re in an interview session.

I work a busy schedule- 8am to 6pm at the very least, which demands me speaking with people, and moving around the office (or where I need to go), such that at the close of the day I am tired! Bone tired. So the journey to and fro work for me should be a restful one with me relaxing my brain and not having to keep up a conversation. Does that make me antisocial? I don’t think so. If you meet me in my chatty mood, when I’m with my peeps and there’s gist; you will say ‘this girl can talk! Does she ever keep quiet?’ but if you meet me when I don’t have anything to say, you will think ‘this girl is boring’. Lol! All these sides, are all me, the chatty and the moody (or silent). To be honest, more often than not I just want to be with my books, a movie and some music. The chatty side only comes out when I have gist. Most importantly I can’t get why a full grown adult cannot just not talk. Like keep quiet or allow silence sometimes, but that’s a rant an article for another day.

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So, I got thinking on why car rides cannot just be silent. Or we listen to the radio, music, endless options. The radio presents an opportunity for unplanned conversation. Just tune into a talk show, before you know it everyone in the car has joined in on the conversation. No brain work required. Then I heard some people consider this rude! I really truly threw up my hands in surrender at this point.

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I do some of my finest thinking in traffic and if I’m driving, I do not need you to keep me awake or conscious of the road. Thanks, I will do just fine. I was very surprised when a friend said he will not give a ride twice to anyone who doesn’t talk during the first ride. And I was like; bros kilode! It’s just a car ride! And it isn’t just him, I’ve heard people insist that sharing a ride and not chatting is rude. This summation has me wearing my rebellious hat again! I don’t require conversation when I’m driving, why should you require it of me when I’m a passenger in your car? It’s so annoying that some days I wish for the anonymity of public transport.

And that brings me to another point of confusion: the chatty taxi drivers! Like ahn ahn that’s the height of the whole thing! Don’t get me wrong; I have had one very good experience chatting with an Uber driver, but other than that, please let’s keep the ride as silent as possible. This is not because I don’t find the driver a worthy conversation partner, but because I like my peace and quiet during car rides. Thank you very much.  I once rode with a driver whom I noticed was sleepy; I calmly reached into my bag and offered him chewing gum. No long story, no chit chat to keep him awake; and he didn’t sleep again.

The funny thing is; I think this conversation-in-car thingy is like everything else we have come to accept as a norm. The belief that you have to make conversation during a car ride has been passed down from generation to generation such that it’s become the norm and we who do not find it necessary are the abnormal ones.

Maybe it’s because I’m a big believer in self-sufficiency and not depending on another (not being overly dependent that is), I just think the whole expected conversation being the price of a car ride or like it’s widely believed; contribution towards an enjoyable ride is a bit …… I don’t know; unfair, unrealistic, un-something….  

So, what do you think, is not keeping up conversation in a car ride sacrilegious as some think, or is it just ok. What are your preferences?

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*Images credit: Google.com

As The Year Ends……

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Every year since I started this blog, I write a ‘Motivational’ article which I publish on the last day of the year. This year, I would love for you all to read my epilogue here. That was me sharing a bit of what my 2016 was about.

I have a word for us all, it was a response I gave to Betty Irabor’s tweet sometime ago

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This words are as true today as they were on the 1st of November. It is the year ending and not your life. And just as the age old saying goes; where there is life, there is hope. I wish us all a great 2017; our latter will always be greater than the last.

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