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Don’t Adapt!

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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!

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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!

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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?

I’m back!!!!

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I feel so baaaad! Been away for so long that I don’t even remember my password not even my username! No excuse is good enough. But I’m back now! Yaaaay!

Chimamanda’s Political Correctness

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Few things surprise me these days.  Like the manipulated Presidential media chat, GEJ suspending Sanusi, Chimamanda supporting gay rights etc. I was taken aback when people kept writing and castigating the President’s suspension of SLS like it wasn’t expected. Might be unexpected if you are a foreigner to Nigeria’s unusual politics but otherwise we all knew it was coming.

In similar vein, I found it quite interesting that some Nigerians are unhappy that Chimamanda has lent her voice to the call for gay rights in Nigeria.  Question is what did you expect?!  That she begin writing articles and short stories on how disgusting homosexuality is and how it is not an option? Or she tell the world that it can be unlearned as many other social vices? Of course not! If you are a follower of Chimamanda, this really should not surprise you.

But really what does Chimamanda stand to gain by opposing gay rights?! Conversely, she stands to lose a lot if she does. She reminds me of Obama who, unenthusiastic about gay rights in his first term became pro-gay just before his second term. What changed? He needed votes and it was politically correct. Chimamanda is also politically correct. But does political correctness mean you are doing the right thing? Well, that’s gist for another day. Think about it, the Nigerian literati, to which she belongs, support gay rights. Her best friend, Caine prize winner, Binyavanga Wainana recently announced he was gay (me thinks that guy is straight but did that to draw attention to his cause, just my opinion though.) Chimamanda’s publishers and readers abroad would have her head if she dare oppose. Why erase all the goodwill she has enjoyed so far? Opposing gay rights would rile people so much that the film adaptation of her awardwinning book, Half of a Yellow Sun (which by the way, I await eagerly) would fall flat at the box office and same fate may befall every other book she’s gonna write. In totality, what is left of her writing career if she opposes? Little or Nothing!

So really if you were Chimamanda, wouldn’t you support homosexuality?!

One of my favourite articles…How to Write About Africa

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Been a way from this blog for sooooo long! Sincere apologies to my readers, I’m back now! Happy new year to y’all! How was the holiday? Hope you had fun.

I came across this article by Binyavanga Wainaina; a satirical piece about Western writers and journalists who always portray Africa as the dark ‘country’ to score cheap points. I read it for the first time a few years ago and loved it. I thought to share it with you. Please let me know what you think. Enjoy!

 

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African’s cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.

Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation.

Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.

Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor who really runs the country.

Continue reading

 

Take A Risk!

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I decided to write about this when I remembered a story a girlfriend narrated to me. Her friend, Deji met this fine girl – emphasis on fine – girl was gorgeous plus she was intelligent as well and rich. Deji however, was just okay looking, graduated with a 3rd class and broke. Deji showed interest in the girl and your guess is as good as mine, she blatantly refused. In fact, she made a fool of him. So my friend called Deji and said to him, ‘This babe is way out of your league now, ahan’. And he gave her a puzzled look like she had gone bonkers and said ‘My dear, such a phrase doesn’t exist. Only two things matter, she’s a living creature and I like her!’ And she pressed further, ‘But she embarrassed you and she might do it again’, Deji said, ‘Well, I tried, better than keeping quiet’. Fast forward two years later, Deji and the girl were married. And it got me thinking, what if Deji had listened to her? What if he hadn’t stepped out in faith to pursue the object of his admiration?

That attitude, not being afraid to take risks, the willingness to step out in faith, to take a risk even if all details are not in place, to take a chance when you don’t know where exactly the road will end is one common attribute of achievers.

How many times have you come across people who have excellent skills and are in terrible jobs but refuse to move?! Even when better comes. Why? They are unwilling to take up a challenge; to leave their comfort zones. I see it all the time, people who cannot even imagine leaving the ‘comforts’ of their jobs; they get openings with great training opportunities, better exposure, maybe a pay cut and they turn it down. In the long run, they know they will be better off but they just won’t take that step.

Consciously or unconsciously, we limit our playing fields when we do not take risks; we create artificial boundaries when indeed there are none. I remember a while ago, I needed to change jobs. I had one, not fantastic at all.  I worked long hours with little pay. And I knew I could get better with my skills. But there was a caveat; since the job took so much of my time, I had to resign and start a proper job search and study for entry tests. That meant sitting at home without a source of income. A lot of people told me not to resign. They said to me; a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. But I left. Guess what? I got a better job with better hours, better prospects and more pay.

So the question is why do we restrict ourselves?  Why do we always confine ourselves? Why do we say things are impossible when we haven’t even tried?

For most people, the fear of failing keeps them from trying new things but in truth, you really cannot escape risk – especially in a nation like ours; by road, air, water or just walking in the street. What’s most important is deciding if the risk is worth it because the fewer risks you take, the higher your risk of failure.  As John C. Maxwell said in his book, Failing Forward, risk should be evaluated not by the fear it generates in you or the probability of your success but by the value of the goal’. Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean said, ‘Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risk. If it is, stop worrying’.

Think about all the successful people we make reference to; Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Aliko Dangote, Strive Masiyiwa; they are all risk takers.

Now when I say take risks, I do not mean make rash and irrational decisions but hey live a little. Try something new. Put yourself out there. As Wayne Gretzky said ‘one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take don’t go in’. Plus you don’t win the lottery if you don’t buy the ticket.

So what’s that thing you always wanted to do? It could be as noble as achieving some career goals, starting a new business or as little as saying hello to that hawt guy or hawt guy who lives on your street, whatever it is, take a risk! You only live once. Really, what’s the worst that could happen?