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.

Starting A Side Hustle, Here are 5 Sources of Funds

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Some people are multi-talented and as such cannot stick to one job-hustle-duty. Still yet, others are forced to hold multiple jobs of create additional sources of income to supplement their income and meet their living expenses. Whatever your reason may be, the side hustle has become a fixture and norm in our lives today. We live in a world today where not monetizing your passion is very detrimental. Cue in the side hustle. What makes a side hustle peculiar is the fact that it’s run alongside your day job or main hustle. Its main aim is either to supplement income or to fuel a passion. Regardless of its reason; the side hustle like every business venture needs money is to thrive.

Sourcing for capital is a pain, particularly in Nigeria where you have to go through hoops with the banks and the interest rate is KILLING! There are some other sources of funds though, and regardless of what stage your business is at: Seed stage (start-up phase) or growth stage (scale an existing business); cash is important.

In order to ensure you don’t inadvertently kill your business with a cash injection from an unwise or expensive source, here are a few pointers on sources of funds to fuel your side hustle or business.

  • Savings

A large proportion of businesses in Nigeria are funded from personal savings. However, DO NOT INVEST ALL YOUR SAVINGS in your side hustle. Being that our society doesn’t have the safety net available in developed countries by way of health insurance, etc. It is advisable that you ALWAYS have back-up funds for emergencies, so you cannot afford to invest all of your savings in a business. Particularly because there’s a risk as with all business ventures, it can go south. Savings is however an interest free, stress free means of cash inflow.

My advice though is to treat whatever funds you inject into your business as an investment. Have a payback/ dividend plan, treat it as business funds and ALWAYS ensure you keep your personal funds separate from the business funds.  

  • Family and friends

Another source of funds is your family and friends. This source of funds will most likely be low-interest or interest free. However, as with all sources of income, we need to be careful as to the terms of repayment. Do not promise and unachievable payback period as that would have ruined the relationship. Do not also take your family and friends for granted; be honorable. And if they would rather treat the funds as investment for equity- be smart and business minded. Don’t be sentimental. Don’t sign over shares in your company for less than its market value due to sentimentality. And….. My personal favorite; always include a buy-back clause with every equity transaction.

  • Customers

Your customers are your cheapest source of funds. If you have customers willing to pay upfront for goods and services; that’s a great way to fund your business. Reputation however is everything. Do not accept payment for goods and/or services which you are unable to deliver. With Social media, there is no hiding place for bad service. You can find your business in ruins due to one bad customer review.

  • Grants

They are a number of local and international organisations willing to provide grants to SMEs. Do your research and apply accordingly. Some are grants with no refund needed, while others are meant to be refunded. Whichever you get, do ensure you read the terms and conditions and abide by them strictly. You won’t want your budding business to be associated with an organisation of questionable character, will you?  

  • Loans or equity

These can be bank or VC loans or investors funding your business in exchange for equity. With these, you have to be really smart and have a professional look over the terms and conditions. Even if you are one yourself, there is the value in having an independent agent look over the terms to ensure they are fair. Your sentimentality might cloud your objectivity, your desperation and passion might also cloud your objectivity. Have a professional look over T’s & C’s. Ensure it’s not a cash injection that may end up crippling the business.

Beyond the 5 options identified above, there may be some other funding options available to you. What’s important is that regardless of your source of funds, if there are conditions; ensure it’s looked over by a lawyer, to ensure its fairness and that it will stand the highest legal scrutiny.

Also, like I said above, if for any reason cash is being exchanged for equity; always include a buy back clause lest your company ends up in another’s hands against your will.    

As the year ends, some of us are already thinking and documenting our plans for 2020 and beyond (#teamresolution), others are making plans on how to scale their business. if your 2020 plan includes starting or scaling a side hustle, this article is for you. I will probably share another article on how to merge a main and side hustle seamlessly sometime in the future.

Asides the sources identified above, are there other sources of funds open to SMEs, please share with us.

Image credit: Google.com

I Just Want to be CHAIRMAN!

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A Guide to Human Resourcing for the Startup and SME

During an interview, one of the questions posed to the candidate was to explain- in his own words the relevance of his course of study in a Manufacturing company. In other words, how relevant is his schooling to our operations.

The candidate- a graduate of Business Administration- in explaining said: a Business Administration graduate can work in any business, as they are trained to manage businesses.

While the rest of us had the ‘why’ question on our lips, one of the panelists drew his attention to the fact that he had previously said Accounting was his least favorite course as ‘he doesn’t find it interesting’. Accounting is however key in managing a business, so how do you manage a business if you cannot understand Finance.

His response was he will hire a ‘strong’ accountant to handle the finance bit.

This got the panelists laughing and we joked that his management style will be to hire people to do the work, while he will be Chairman!

We moved on from that interview but then it got me thinking: there are two ways of analyzing the young man’s ideology. Firstly; there’s the school of thought that believes to effectively manage a business you have to be able to understand finance and most of every other aspects of the business. This is both very true and very right. You need to be able to understand the numbers and what they mean for your business. This is truer if you are running a start-up or small business; because in the early days you might not have the necessary funds to hire the needed Finance professional- or to outsource. You may need to wing it for a while and if you are unable to build a simple cash-flow system or understand how best to utilise your funds, your business may be in trouble.

On the flip side; there’s nothing that says you as a business leader or a founder needs to be able to do everything: finance inclusive. The rule of thumb for resources is to: buy (hire), borrow (outsource- in-plant or consultant), or collaborate. For a going concern with funds, all of these options are available, but for a young business there are slight modifications which can still work for you. The following are some of the options available to start-up.

  1. Of course there’s always the option to hire. At the early stages you may not be able to afford an experienced hire which equals expensive. You can however hire someone relatively affordable but good (you however either need to know what good looks like to deduce someone is good or you work with a recruitment consultant to source for the best candidates within your budget).
  2. A second alternative is to outsource – there are many affordable but standard financial institutions who can handle even the basics of your operations leaving you free to do the creative- which is most likely your forte.
  3. Collaboration is similar to outsourcing- this is collaboration between 2 firms where both might exchange services. Pretty much like trade by barter- a cleaning services firm can exchange its services with an accounting firm for a duration. A caveat on this is- as with all contracts, both parties must be clear as to expectations and where possible (but strongly recommended); have an independent law firm draw up the contract such that it’s fair and binding.

Another way you can collaborate is to partner with a co-founder who has the desired skills and is willing to perhaps provide services in exchange for some stake in the business. Same caveat as the above applies- everything needs to be neat and tidy contractually such that neither party is left holding an empty basket in future.

  • A fourth option is to train; working with the available resource and providing training to bring the resource up-to-speed. This builds some form of loyalty; your people grow and develop with you. A downside to this is; unless the people are aggressive about their own personal development, they may not develop beyond the training which you provide; which might not be good for your business.

While all of these are available options, it doesn’t negate the fact that as a business leader- be it a start-up or a Plc.; you cannot get away from understanding some Finance, Law, HR, Operations, Business Development, etc. Creativity alone isn’t enough. Neither is it enough to throw passion into the mix. You cannot be creative out of a labor law issue if you do not understand the tenets of labor laws or have an adviser who does.

There are a few incubator labs and boot camps for start-ups associated with certain reputable organisations from which you can learn some of the rudiments of running a business. You can also take advantage of a mentor-advisory scheme when growing your business, be mentored by someone who has walked the path you are on now and can guide you through. Another option is to maintain contacts with peers who are on the same path as you are; you all can help each other navigate the obstacle course which is entrepreneurship. There are many options available to you, explore them and toe the path which works best for you. What’s important is to ensure you aren’t going about it blindly.  

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

Brand Review: Zaron Cosmetics

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I feel like I’ve done Zaron cosmetics a lot of disservice. I had used their Oil Control Mineral Loose powder sometime in the past and it was ok, but of course I keep going back to my HG powder (BlackOpal loose powder in Neutral Light). Their lipstick pen in Muse (nude) is also a favorite of mine and yet I hadn’t posted a review. (I’m sorry Zaron).

zaron-logo-web

Zaron is a Nigerian owned brand and one for the brands I identified as I try to #buyNaijatogrowtheNaira. Sometime in March, I walked into their Ikoyi store and bought their Face Primer, Healthy Glow Liquid Foundation, Loose Powder, Maxi-blend Compact Powder and ofcourse the lipstick pen (there was the buy one get one free promo at the time of purchase). I have had a few repeat purchases, loved most of the products I have tried, particularly that the products are non-comedogenic and acnegenic. So, here’s my honest review of their products:

  1. Healthy Glow Liquid Foundation

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I’m currently on my second tube of foundation- the matte variant; and I’ve got to say I’m loving it! It has SP4 30, its medium to full coverage, very buildable, it does do a passably good job of staying matte (although not transfer resistant) and its VERY PIGMENTED! I feel like that’s its greatest quality. All in all, I will give it a 4/5. My only grouse is that it doesn’t stay matte all day, but then- which product stays matte all day in our weather?

  1. Oil Control Mineral Loose Powder

Zaron Loose powderThis is a good setting powder, it also has SPF, is medium coverage, very very pigmented. Everytime I applied the powder over the foundation, I felt my face was SO bright! I tried using a shade darker and still same difference. I just gave up and went back to my fave powder. I tried blending shades, still couldn’t get my perfect shade. Otherwise; good powder. This gets a 3/5 from me though. Maybe cause its mineral powder and I so badly wanted to switch to mineral powder and not being able to find my shade was a disappointment.

  1. Face Primer

FACE-PRIMER-2-300x300This was the product I didn’t really like. My regular primer combines both the priming effect and mattifying effect, this primer did not. Matter of fact, I didn’t see much of a difference between when I wore foundation and powder alone and when I wore the primer. I’m going to pass on rating this product.

 

  1. Lip Stick Pen

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A bit of a background to my love for lipstick pens: I haven’t had much luck with lipsticks- I like a matte finish, but all the mattes I have tried are always too dry; never blending, be it a tube lipstick or a liquid to matte lipstick; just hasn’t worked for me. However, lipstick pen do work for me. Not just Zaron’s, most lipstick pens do work for me.

I tried Zaron’s lipstick pen and I love it. My only grouse is that it doesn’t last. But it takes a lot for lipcolour to last on my lips, I’m forever pursing my lips or biting it. So, this also gets a 4/5 from me.

  1. Maxi-blend Compact Powder

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This purchase wasn’t for me but for my mom. She loved it and I loved it on her. Its medium coverage, not streaky or magnify fine lines, long wear and passably matte. I will give it a 4/5 as well.

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So, while I’m on my Zaron love, the product I would love to try is: Zaron Perfect Finish Spray. This is what Zaron says about it: Instant moisturizing and relaxing mist that freshens and treats the skin with its ultra-fine micro droplets. It’s light comfortable and sets all types of makeup. Prolonging wear even under extreme conditions. I have never used a finishing spray, would probably get one with my next purchase. If you have used this product, please let me know how it panned out for you, or if there’s a better finishing spray out there, please share in the comments section. And of course, you need to tell us what Zaron products you have used and your opinion.

XOXO

Chinma

PS: This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are mine. You can shop Zaron products here or at any of their nationwide stores. 

Happy New Year

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Welcome to:

2018

Hope 2017 was good for you? Good or bad; we are in 2018 and there’s a lot to look forward to: brighter future, fulfilled wishes, greater blessings and Russia 2018! lol (you all know I love football tournaments, right?)

So, this year should be the year of no excuses, write down your dreams, make it plain, hold yourself accountable, kick ass this year and here are my wishes for you: may all your wishes be met, may all your dreams come true, may you find that which you seek. Here’s to a greater 2018; have a blast!

xoxo chinma

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

What’s in a name?

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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

Happy New Month, Welcome to April 

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images (4)It’s the beginning of the 2nd quarter! The first quarter was a blast, or was it? Lol!

Personally, I felt like it dragged. But….. We’re happy to see it go. And this month is Easter!!!!

So, as we begin the 2nd quarter; I  wish us all God’s grace and blessings. May this month be all that we wish it is.

Have a great month y’all, wishing you Joy always.

xoxo chinma