It’s Okay to Not be Okay

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A few days ago, I had a cold; my chest and head hurt badly, my throat was sore and my nose ran intermittently. In light of the current situation, I wondered if I could have been in contact with anyone who could possibly have the virus. However, because we have learned that the virus is transmittable, even when you are asymptomatic, I couldn’t be sure.

So I took some painkillers and medications for cold. It’s been a few days and I’m better. In interacting with people, I’ve realised that there are quite a lot of people with similar symptoms that ‘look’ like COVID-19. A lot of people are even afraid to speak up about their symptoms for fear of being stigmatized. My dear, we are in the rainy season and the weather is cold; so many people have the flu. Some have also imagined the COVID-19 symptoms even when they don’t have the common cold.

Then there’s the mental health implication of COVID-19. There are those who have to live with their abusers – my heart goes out to them. I have seen a few NGOs and CSOs reach out, asking to be contacted as necessary. If you qualify for this, please reach out.

There are those who had pre-existing mental health issues and the current situation cannot be easy on them. At the very basic, for people who need some form of order in their lives, the disruption to their daily lives, livelihoods, routine and all will not be easy.

Then there are those who are alone at this time. I cannot imagine the difficulty of having to be indoors, all alone.

On the flip side, there is also the fact that some ‘regular’ families were able to coexist because they were not in each other’s space 24/7. Funny as it may seem, this will also be a difficult time for those. News out of China is that the divorce rate has increased as a result of the lockdown. Indeed, for some, this is a difficult time to be alone while for others, it’s a difficult time to not be alone. Whatever side of the divide you fall on, remember that it is okay to not be okay.

Beyond the physical and mental health implications, there’s the economic impact of all this. Many have lost their sources of livelihood already, many will – post lockdown. All over the world, economies are wobbling and it’s affecting everyone. Many organisations were unable to pay salaries for the month of March, many will not be able to pay April’s. Nigeria has a large number of SMEs, petty business people who absolutely need to hustle daily to put food on the table. Having them locked down cannot be easy on them.

I know someone reading this is saying- where there’s life, there’s hope, health is wealth, keep an open mind, and all that. I agree. All the positive words don’t mean everything is going to be fine and dandy. For some, it will. For others, it will not. Truth is – the world as we know it will change post-COVID-19 pandemic and it’s okay to be anxious about what the future brings. It is possible to acknowledge the peculiarity of the times and still stay positive. We shouldn’t sweep our feelings under the carpet of positivism.

Although we want to believe that after this lock down, we should have been able to flatten the curve, identify all positive cases and people can go back to their business as usual, we still are not sure if the shutdown will extend beyond the initial two weeks. Other nations have been on it for months and aren’t sure of when life will return to normal.

As an employer or employee, a function head or a team member,  this cannot be easy on anyone. If you’re wondering if you will get paid at the end of this month or worried about how to pay your staff, your fears are valid.

Nigeria does not have an adequate social welfare system to take care of its people. Your rent will still be due when it ought to be – regardless of how your finance has been impacted by the pandemic. You and yours still need to eat and the cost of staple foods has skyrocketed,

For those of us who still have to go to work (essential workers), there’s the fear that you are putting yourself at risk daily. There’s the fear that you’re exposing your loved ones by exposing yourself. You’re conflicted between duty and self-preservation.

In all of this, it’s okay to not be okay.

I don’t have any answers, but here are some tips that might get us through this:

  • Acknowledge the situation for what it is. It’s totally out of anyone’s control; we are all just trying to find our way through it. Nobody has it figured out, including those sharing beautiful videos.
  • Keep a healthy mind, read and meditate. Your mind is your greatest asset, so feed it with positive thoughts, books, and meditation.
  • Rest, relax, unwind, play. Listen to music and see some movies.
  • Talk to someone – a therapist, trusted friend or family. Just stay connected
  • Exhale: There’s are lots of content out there for entertainment, pick and choose what works for you and lose yourself in it for a while.
  • Strategise for a comeback: The lockdown will be lifted eventually. Make plans to resume your normal routines, prepare for post-COVID-19.
  • Learn a new skill: You can learn any and everything online and some are free. Use your data wisely and upskill yourself.
  • Eat healthily and drink water: Adding weight is a major concern in this period. Lol. Eat healthily, practice social distancing from your fridge (or the kitchen). Drink water, not sugary or alcoholic drinks, exercise and generally try to stay active. Don’t be a couch or bed potato (like me on days when I don’t go to work). Haha.
  • Stay healthy through this period, wash and sanitise your hands, don’t touch your face, don’t self-medicate.
  • Stay home if you don’t absolutely need to go out. Don’t spread the disease further, help by not pressuring an already strained/ inadequate health system. The disease doesn’t spread – we spread it

Special thanks to our health workers; from the security personnel to the janitors to the admin staff, doctors, nurses, etc. We see you, we appreciate you. Our appreciation also goes to other members of society working to keep the world going at this time – the food and pharmaceutical manufacturing and trading businesses, the supermarkets and street shops, the fast-food restaurants and the roadside buka. The downstream petroleum products, the law enforcement agents – we see you all, we appreciate you.

Article originally published on Bellanaija.com

Social Distancing? What’s that?

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As the world navigates its way through the coronavirus pandemic, there are a few words that have become buzz words in a bid to prevent the further spread of the virus: there’s social distancing, tele-commuting (working from home) hand wash, sanitizer, etc.; previously existing terms, products and practices but magnified by the virus. What’s even more interesting is that some of the ways to protect ourselves are ‘basic hygeine’ practices, which we have ignored over the years because- something must kill a man or germs cannot kill a Nigerian.

It’s become current practice to wash our hands at least every hour for about 20 seconds with soap. For a people who most walk out of a toilet without washing their hands- it’s certainly taking some getting used to. Let’s not get started on the sanitisers- something previously thought to be used by the germophobes and those who are just ‘extra‘ have now become mainstream and common place. Everyone; male and female are carrying their little jars of sanitizer and covering our entire existence with the blood– sorry- anti-bacterial sanitisers. We are submitting to temperature checks at various locations and all round just trying to be careful not to expose ourselves to the virus- because, remember; everything in Nigeria will kill you– like Ayo Sogunro says.

So, we’re learning and evolving. I feel like we should be grateful to the virus for enforcing or embedding good hygiene. There’s always an upside to this things. The one precaution we haven’t been able to imbibe however, is social distancing. Ki lo’n je be? I doubt if you can literally translate that into any Nigerian language. It’s so un-Nigerian. How can you ask us to practice social distance when our very existence depends on our communal relationships? What is social distancing: we need to avoid: group gatherings, sleep overs (and other gum-body activities), play dates, concerts, etc.

However, in situating all this into our circumstances, we need to include hugging and other gum-body activities on this list.  But,…. Covid-19 will go, and when it’s time to pay school fees, uncle Bolaji will remember I rejected his handshake because- social distancing! Or big mummy will forever hold a grudge because I flinched and moved a few steps back when she tried to pull my cheek fondly- which equals me saying she has coronavirus! Or, when I send my asoebi to my aunty, she will remember how I rebuffed her hug in the name of social distancing? Let’s not even get started with the pervs who are constantly touchy-feely because- as Africans we love to show love.

The wahala coronavirus will cause will transcend our collective health, health infrastructure, the economy and even affect our personal relationships. I’m sure most clerics have had to really rehearse not asking people to touch their neighbor’s in any form over the past few weeks.

I saw a video which explained social distancing and how it stems the spread of diseases- the illustration with the burning match sticks- my first thought was rara, this match stick isn’t Nigerian. It would have run into the fire if it were- either in a bid to save its loved ones or in a bid to get first hand gist to share. While the latter is fast becoming a societal problem, the former is the very structure upon which our society is built. Eniyan laso mi– literal meaning: people are my covering– our strength is in our network. Even our people are constantly rising above the limitations of the nation- Nigerians as a collective are arguably greater than Nigeria the country.

So how do you want to teach us social distancing? You want to teach an old dog new tricks? When we have our religions, herbs, and the fact that very little thrives in Nigeria- diseases inclusive. After all, our weather is too hot for it to survive or Africans cannot get the virus and other such tales that have been disproven.

Las las, this too will pass, but we need to ensure we don’t destroy our relationships before it passes, right? Let’s not peddle fear and destroy ourselves before the disease gets to us, right?

Guess what? Maybe this is a good thing. We all need to learn to love from a distance. Take this as a lesson and perhaps learn to be less in people’s personal space. Doable?

It has to be, because as we have learnt- the virus is still contagious when the carrier is asymptomatic. There goes your excuse of- but he/she isn’t sick.

Truth is we need to situate what we’re used to versus what we need to do to ensure this virus and other communicable diseases doesn’t continue to spread, because for us- prevention will always be better than cure. Let each do a frank assessment of our health infrastructure and contemplate if it can withstand a viral outbreak. We haven’t eradicated malaria, it’s now coronavirus!

Prevention is key! I’m repeating it for those at the back. We all learnt that in primary school. We need to follow the preventive measures as advised by the public health specialists- wash our hands frequently and thoroughly with soap, in the absence of soap; use an alcohol based hand sanitizer; cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue or your elbow; if you’re sick, please go to a hospital; avoid high traffic and public areas, and please maintain some distance.

Article originally published on Bellanaija.com.

Black Friday: Don’t Go Broke Over Sales

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Every year, the last Friday in November is Black Friday; and all the stores ‘supposedly’ crash their prices.

Supposedly

Black Friday comes after thanksgiving and with Cyber Monday and Christmas around the corner everyone is in a festive mood- making merry, giving, shopping, etc.

Many have confessed to having bought unnecessary thing in the lure of lowest prices. Many have actually been caught in the frenzy only to realize later it wasn’t actually a good bargain.

Here’s my advice on how to navigate Black Friday, this is also a note to self, lol:”

  1. Make a list of necessary purchases: prior to Black Friday, draw up a list of what you need, and adhere to it religiously. Don’t move a little to the left or right. Don’t add any extras because you have gotten a good bargain on another. All it take is a little deviation and you’re lost down the drain of unnecessary purchases.
  2. Carefully research your purchase: While drawing up your list, ensure you know their prices- pre-sales. That way, you are able to identify what purchases are a save and which isn’t.
  3. Last and most important: Don’t Get Tempted. Do 1 and 2 above and do not get tempted to deviate from your list.

And…….. if you feel like you will be ‘losing out on deals of a lifetime’, remember there’s also Christmas sales around the corner.

It’s Coming For Us All

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metoo

My colleagues and I were discussing the spate of sexual abuse allegations and we are outraged at the perversity of the situation. All in the room were very righteous in our anger; we couldn’t believe how the ones charged with guiding; protecting and leading us are the ones abusing us.

Then a wrench was thrown in the conversation and the question was asked- you know we have these abusers among us? Right here in this office. Or did we build a special screening into our recruitment process to weed out the abusers? Then the conversation dwindled, because we could suddenly see the other four fingers pointing back at us either as the abusers or the enablers.

The widespread perversity of these allegations leads one to the conclusion that we are all sitting on our pedestal because the book of remembrance hasn’t gotten to our page!

For a people as moralistic as Nigerians, the number of sexual harassment stories coming out of us is alarming!

For a people as moralistic as we are, the number of corruption and fraud cases is alarming!

Or, should be alarming! Perhaps we are the ones making a bigger deal of it that it is.

From the father to the brother, to the sister, uncle, aunt, driver, Teacher, Pastor, Imam, Doctor… Tales abound of abuse. It’s so bad that we have internalized it and it has become…. Normal.

Yes, Normal!

What do you call something that is so pervasive and widespread in the society? What do you call something that with every pair, one has been a victim, witness or abuser?

What do you call this if not normal?

Perhaps we have it wrong and it’s actually not a crime or sin and is just normal. Like a rite of passage, the norm that everyone must suffer sexual abuse at one point or the other in their life. Right? Maybe if we normalize it we will stop forming all the faux outrage. With each story that comes to light, we shout and scream and rage, and tomorrow, it comes for someone else.

It’s coming for us all! Yes it is. As enablers, as abusers it’s coming for us all. Because we turned a blind eye, because we covered it up, because we suppressed it; we emboldened the abuser and they continued their spate of abuse. And the abused becomes the abuser, perpetuating that culture of abuse,  the witness also went on to commit his/her own perversion- afterall uncle lagbaja got away with it, why won’t I?

We have a culture of sexual abuse!

There, I said it. Can we accept it and move on? It’s a culture as ingrained as our cultural attires and food, it’s a culture as old as time.

I can hear the rape apologists taking up their arms, I can hear the ‘moralistic Nigerians’ clearing their throats to refute this claim, I can hear the voices saying but it’s not just in Nigeria! I can hear them all, but I can also hear the voices of the abused- and what’s funny about the voices of the abused is- some of them have been conditioned to believe it’s the normal, it’s their fault, their voices are united with the voices of the apologists and this only serves to strengthen my point- We Have a Culture of Sexual Abuse!

When Ochanya’s story broke, it was befuddling to read that the extended family wanted to suppress the case. When Busola’s story broke, many- till today, made excuses for the abuser. When Ondo state opened a sexual offenders register and commenced the naming and shaming of sexual offenders, it was cringe worthy to see the number of people who were more sympathetic towards the family of the abuser than the abused. When the #sexforgrades story broke, many as usual blamed the exploited girls. Have you seen how they dress? Even a saint will be tempted! These girls offer themselves to the lecturers for grades! On and on the excuses go…

I could go on and on citing examples, it’s all cringe worthy and makes one just want to bathe self in a mixture of hot salt water and bleach, in a bid to get clean of the bile we spew. Or, to bury ones head in the sand for the reality of this is too far reaching.

The reality is- these people, these abusers are us. Your partner whom you can vouch for his/her purity is/ was someone’s abuser. Your parent whom you believe hung the stars is harassing the office cleaner, secretary, junior colleague, contractor. Your sibling who will do anything for you abused the child in the neighboring flat. Your friend, your ride or die, who says all the right things and joins you in taking up arms against the sexual abuser is equally guilty. These abusers are us!

Ex-colleagues from one of the big four accounting firms were reminiscing on the escapades of their ex-bosses and some conditions for progression and my eyes literally bulged out of its sockets! Huh? All-of-them sleek suit wearing, polished people are also demanding sexual favors?

The day the book of remembrance will get to that page………

Someone asked why all of this are coming to light now, is it a new culture, a sign of the times?

The answer to that is an emphatic NO! It’s not coming to light because it’s a recent trend, rather it’s coming to light now because we are SPEAKING UP now. Like someone said, we didn’t inherit our mother’s silence and timidity.

And for those who have a problem with all of the sexual abuse coming to light, I hope it isn’t because you have skeletons you would rather remain buried? Because if you do, berra be prepared, It’s coming for us all, ensure you aren’t on the wrong side of a #metoo campaign!

Article originally published on bellanaija.com

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?

naira-dollar-exchange-rate-1

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.

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.

scandal-saison-4-lauren-bowles-true-blood

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:

find-the-bright-side

  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