Articles

A generation thriving on distraction

Posted on Updated on

Starve your distractions, feed your focus.” – Unknown

The path to achieving little or nothing is feeding your distractions. Our generation seems to have mastered this vice; social media only acts as a magnifier. We want to know what’s trending and if there are no trends, we create them. From tweets to FaceBook shares and Instagram posts, we live for the buzz, the comments, the shares and the likes. That might be a good thing, until we take it too far like we did with Pastor Adeboye’s comments on marriage.

Whether I agree or disagree with the comments is irrelevant. What mattered more was our actions revealed our true nature; a bored generation thriving on distraction. Oh yes, we thrive on it! From Tiwa’s marriage breakup to #SaveMayowa ‘scam’ to the most recent, Pastor Adeboye’s comments, we seem to be waiting by our smartphones for the next ‘scandal’. This informs our obsession with any topic that has the potential of going viral. Let’s think it through, did we really need make such a fuss about those comments? Did we? If our intention was to convince others to get on the feminism train and change their mindset, I very much doubt that we succeeded. All our discussions, arguments and fights about the subject only served one purpose; populating the trending topics on Twitter. At least, in that regard, we achieved something.

More importantly, the way we handled it, the criticising, the condemning and the name calling only showed our lack of tolerance. A lack of tolerance for differing opinions and an inability to express dissent respectfully. If we preach tolerance, then we should in fact practise it, not minding the sour taste it leaves in our mouths. We should realise that sometimes, the wise way to treat differing opinions is to walk by especially since such opinions are not binding on you.

Social media is our space, our zone, our hood, our own thing. It’s also our safe haven. No wonder we fought tooth and nail when the ‘old school’ generation tried to compromise its sanctity under the guise of the social media bill. No, we do not want to be regulated, especially not by those who have disappointed and continue to disappoint us daily. So, we bask in our unrestrained power and freedom of speech. However, to justify our unhindered liberty, we must act responsibly and let decency and common sense be our watchwords. No more copying and pasting writing stories without verifying or descending to insults to show disagreement. We should learn to manage conflicts by treating dissenting opinions with maturity and mutual respect. Because with liberty, comes great responsibility.

Keep it open

Posted on Updated on

A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it’s open – Frank Zappa

I’ve always been a ‘stick to the winning formula’ kind of person. I mean, why change a method that works?! So I’ve taken the same routes to work, had the same friends, and literally built a tent in my comfort zone and stayed there. Once in a while, I explore, then jump right back into the zone. Of course, that influenced my career choices. It was either law or the media or I’m uninterested.

Then, I found myself in banking. From the word go, I told myself ‘I can’t stay here, this isn’t my passion’. Imagine my dismay when all my alternatives – getting a Masters, DV lottery (oh yes I applied!) and even getting an LLB didn’t work out. I kept counting my days and the days kept growing longer. So, I began to pay attention. Today, I’m not head over heels with banking, but I didn’t fail at it like I thought I would. I may try a different path later on, but this experience exemplified a popular Yoruba* saying; Ona kan o woja**.

There’s a lot of talk about finding your passion; some say the path to ‘true success’ is finding your passion and living it. That notion is limiting because your passion is more of who you are than what you do. In essence, true success lies in the energy and drive you bring to whatever it is you do. Scripture says, ‘Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it well’. Pour 110% of yourself into anything you do, passion or not and you will be amazed at the results.

It’s important to focus on your strengths and maximise them but you must realise that you have strengths you haven’t even discovered and you are capable of much more than you dare give yourself credit for. By all means, find your passion, but while at it, do not make the mistake of believing there’s only one route to your destination. For there are several, if you will be patient and open minded enough to discover them. Truth is, many will go to the grave without discovering their passion but that’s nothing compared to leaving this world without an enduring legacy.

 

*tribe in South West Nigeria
**there are several routes into the marketplace (of life)

#weneedanewnationalassembly but…

Posted on Updated on

image

Yesterday, the Nigerian twitterati was literally on fire after the Senate, the upper house of the National Assembly rejected the gender equality and opportunity bill. According to Senator Olujimi, the bill sought equality for women in marriage, career and education. It had quite important provisions, one of which was: if a woman’s husband dies, she gets custody of the kids and inherits his property. Yet, the Senate struck it out.

The National Assembly has so far, been the most castigated arm of government in our 16 year democratic journey. So much has been said, ‘our lawmakers work only for their interests and pockets, they are a huge cost centre with minimal benefits, Nigerians do not feel their impact’…etc. Most of this is true and yes, we need new members of Parliament; those with the right mindset, to create laws that end oppression and inequality and restore the hope of the common man.

But beyond changing members of the National Assembly, we need a change of our collective mindset. For every Yerima and Ndume in the Senate, there are a thousand more in their constituencies urging them on. Think about it, how many people in the hinterlands actually think women are equal to men? How many thousands still believe every spinster’s prayer point is to get married so she can ‘be under a man’? How many still subscribe to Ali Ndume’s notion that ‘the first care of a woman is marriage’? Even in ‘developed’ Lagos, women are constantly reminded, subtly and not so subtly that the ‘man is the crown of the woman’. It’s ubiquitous; we see it in church, we see it in the workplace, comedians make jokes about it and we laugh.

Let’s face it, the Senators are just a reflection of the majority of the Nigerian people. We say they embezzle and earn bogus allowances for doing nothing, buy exotic cars and live in palatial mansions at the expense of the Nigerian taxpayer. But don’t you and I know people who envy them and their relatives wishing they also had access to the ‘national cake’, saying totally ridiculous things like, ‘It’s their turn to enjoy’ and using the Name of God to justify their obscenity and impunity? Aren’t there employers in the private sector, creating policies to enrich themselves unjustly, jetting out on vacations at the company’s expense while denying employees their wages?

The Senators aren’t the only ones with broken moral compasses. As a people, our moral compasses are in need of serious repairs. Yes, we need a new National Assembly but more importantly, we need re-orientation as a people. We need to come to the realization that empowering women is not emasculating, rather it a symbol of freedom. Most pertinent, we need to be aware that chauvinism and misogyny will only take us backward and farther from our dream of a united, prosperous Nigeria.

 

Photo credit: dailypost.ng

IWD

Posted on Updated on

In the spirit of International Women’s Day – I see guys rolling their eyes, chill out, women gat this week 😊 – I read a bit about this year’s IWD celebration. I found some really depressing statistics; like it would take another hundred or so years before we achieve gender equality in the world. Just imagine that! Many women will remain marginalized and still earn less for equal tasks than their male counterparts for 100 years! Quite saddening!

The debate for women empowerment and gender parity has been a continuous one. And a lot has been achieved even though ‘the promised land’ is still far off. Although men in their own ways, have tried to promote the cause by creating more women friendly work policies, to make giant strides, we need more women in positions of authority. Be it in politics, business or the private sector, women just have to step it up. Understandably, a lot of factors inhibit this ‘stepping up’, least of which is our responsibility at the home front; a factor whose mitigation lies only in spousal support. Even with the needed support, in many ways, our actions and inactions as women show our readiness or otherwise for the top.

Ever heard of the book, Nice Girls don’t get the corner office 101 by Lois Frankel? I read that book a couple of years ago and it literally changed my perspective. Lois basically said in that book that your dressing, hairstyle and makeup choices (among other factors, of course!) could tell if a woman was ready to play in the big leagues. And I thought about it, almost all the women in senior positions (and there are a lot of them!) in my organisation, dress and look the part. No loud makeup, tight skirts, 26 inch weaves or 6 inch heels. Nothing to allow ogling. I think it’s more of a strategy than a coincidence. No ogling, no distractions, the boys men focus better. Think about the successful women you know; Hilary Clinton (whose femininity is totally de-emphasised in her presidential campaign, but that’s story for another day) or Ibukun Awosika or Olajumoke Adenowo, the list goes on, they are covered up. Not to sound cliché, but you really are addressed the way you dress.

In some cases, we just need to speak up for ourselves in the workplace. Men can’t always do it for us. In my organisation, we have a weekly knowledge sharing and we take turns in coordinating. Last month, the administrator asked me to handle the ‘Spread love this Valentine’ theme for that week. I was curious because I had never been nominated to handle topical issues. And he gave me the dreaded answer, “well, because you are a woman, you know”…I had been stereotyped. Luckily, I was able to wiggle out of it. It happens to a lot of us. Some women don’t mind, but trust me, it’s not in your best interest to have a wrong stereotype.

We really need to take more chances, more calculated risks. I understand we are naturally cautious but please join the #DoitAfraid bandwagon. At the risk of sounding motivational, you just gat to go for it anyway anyhow. I watched a video recently, of Tara Fela-Durotoye talking about raising funds for her business. She had gone into an interview with a bank MD, hoping for a N500, 000 loan but instead summoned courage and asked for N40m! And she got it! That’s what I’m talking about.

Above all, we should always bear in mind that we are first human, then female. I like the way Sefi Atta put it, when asked her perspective as a female writer in an interview, she responded, ”I’m not a female writer, I am a writer”.

It’s still International Women’s Day (everyday is!). Be happy. Be inspired. Be all of you and more!

 

Don’t Adapt!

Posted on

It has been said before that Nigerians are the world’s happiest people and have an exceptional ability to adapt to adversity. However, at this juncture in our national existence, adapting to adversity – a more polite term for sufferhead – is no blessing but a curse. Yes, a spell which must be broken. Yes we must realize that having unreliable power supply in the 21st century is nothing short of a national emergency. We must know that obtaining your degree through harsh conditions, ASUU strike and sadist lecturers is an abnormality. It is an aberration that ARIK delays your flight by 8 hours, but instead of a formal complaint, we shrug it off and thank God for safe arrival. It is a misnomer that our country has no foolproof formal structure in place for our ubiquitous SMEs. How about we come to the collective awareness that Danfo is a painful reminder of a nation that places the lowest premium on its citizens? When are going to stop glorifying adversity in our land?!

Beyond glorifying adversity, it’s almost like we compete in suffering, more or less, my suffering is more than yours. How? You complain about your daily commute from Ikeja to Victoria Island, your colleague thinks you are privileged because he commutes from Mowe to Victoria Island. Really?! The most absurd is when privileged kids join the sufferhead competition. It almost seems adversity validates their stories. In the process, sometimes, they sound emm… ridiculous. Do you really need adversity to validate your story?

I understand that some of our experiences prepare us for the world, but I just don’t see how drinking spirogyra water in secondary school or scouting for bathing water on an exam morning in undergraduate days prepared me for anything. How does sharing toilets with about 10 other students prepare one for the world outside? I was discussing with some colleagues and they tried convincing me that my experiences toughened me and raised my chance of ‘making it’. Very flawed!

Until we stop glorifying suffering in our society, we can’t demand better from our government. We cannot say to them it’s not okay that in 2016, it’s a privilege to have power supply for 12 straight hours! We can’t say how annoying it is that the safety of our airspace cannot be taken for granted. We just can’t move forward if we keep adapting.

Let’s ask for accountability!

Posted on Updated on

Here we are at a crossroads as a nation; we can decide to continue down the slope into insolvency or rise above our past and craft a new future for unborn generations. The choice is ours.
Reading through Budgit‘s report, ‘State of States’, I realise our demand for accountability has been one sided so far. We focus so much on the Federal government and ignore the state and local governments. But governance begins at the grassroots. We know the states receive 48% of the revenue and also utilise IGR. What has been achieved? How many roads have been repaired or newly constructed? Let’s ask them. If a road hasn’t been fixed, pay a visit to your local government chairman to explain the cause of delay. If he’s stalling, take a few friends along and keep asking peacefully until it’s done. We need to engage the government at the grassroots. We pray, yes, but we must also engage our leaders and demand accountability.

More on the Budgit report here.

Quit criticizing us!

Posted on

Yesterday, my beloved country was 55! I spent the better part of the day listening to speeches at the Platform. From the thought provoking Pius Adesanmi to the hilarious Segun Adeniyi and the ‘professorial’ Pat Utomi, the speakers did not fail to impress. However, one thing I leant from their ‘lessons in history’ is that the older generation has NO moral ground to criticize and condemn the younger generation. You can’t criticize us when we see glaringly the dismal results of your 55 year political experiment. No, it don’t work that way.

Don’t criticize us that we have lost moral values when you marry 18 year olds ‘gifts’

Don’t tell us we resent delayed gratification when you institutionalised corruption

How could you say we are mentally lazy when quality education was free in your day

You say to us, your songs are bereft of imagination, yet our music industry is respected outside the shores of our land and contributes significantly to GDP

You take advantage of us, paying N20,000 as salary because we are greenhorns, yet you earn millions as commission on transactions we make possible

You say, ‘Don’t look for jobs, think entrepreneurship”. But how do we fund our ideas, when you have misappropriated all the SME funds?!

You call us wasteful, but I ask you, where is all the revenue from the oil boom?

Quit criticizing us, we aren’t perfect, but guess what? Neither are you. So can we end all this criticism and join hands too build one Nigeria?