Saturday, December 18, 2010

Man’s Inhumanity to Woman

Boyfriend: (Hugging tightly and stroking gently) Hey, baby I want you so much.

Girlfriend: But am not ready.

Boyfriend: Please, I really do care about you. I have always wanted more than friendship. You are everything I dreamed by woman would be. Thoughts of you crowd my mind, day-in day-out. I can hardly concentrate on my job and sleep is far from me.

Girlfriend: I appreciate all that but I want us to build a relationship founded on friendship and not sex.

Boyfriend: But sex will make us closer.

Girlfriend: (Sighs) Hmmmm. I only agreed to come spend the night because you promised nothing would happen. O naïve me!

Boyfriend: I didn’t make any promise. (Silence, he spreads her legs)

Girlfriend: For the records, I don’t do pills and you must use a condom.

Boyfriend: Baby, condoms kill my mojo. You won’t get the best of me if I use a condom. Just trust me. Am clean; I get checked every three months. I can even show you my latest HIV results.

Girlfriend: I haven’t had unprotected sex in 5 years. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Boyfriend: oh Baby, you’ve gotta trust me, I want to give you my best. I can’t do that with a condom. I trust you and it will make us closer.

Lights out…

Two weeks later…

Girlfriend: (in a phone conversation) Hi dear. The fever doesn’t seem to be going away so I went to see the doctor. Rather unfortunate how we assume every symptom to be a sign of malaria. The fever was manifestation of an infection, I could have died slowly. I’ve got an STD. I’ve been placed on antibiotics and advised to be very careful.

Boyfriend: I absolutely don’t know what you are talking about. Am clean; I get checked every three months. I can even show you my latest HIV results. Sounds like you’ve got a toilet infection.

Typical girl – guy scenario! What is it about getting in between a woman’s leg?

He begs, cajoles and tells a lie even cries to get her to spread her legs.

Her mind boggles but he doesn’t care, he’s temporarily insane at that moment willing to undertake the risk of unprotected sex. He forgets class, marriage vows, children, fidelity, religion and reputation in his desperation. And then he hears the forbidden words; I am pregnant.

He goes on his knees and begs to sleep with his maid, impregnates her and suddenly realizes she’s the maid and not deserving of him and begins to maltreat her. He sleeps with an illiterate girl impregnates her and when her family insists that he marry her, he suddenly realizes that he can’t marry her because they do not belong to the same social class. So what is it about that thing between the legs of the dirty, poor, illiterate housemaid or village girl that sees him obsessed and out of his senses one minute but suddenly awakened when the consequences hit?


Why so much inhumanity to woman?

Like Asa in her album Beautiful Imperfection, I’ve got so many questions on my mind; will I ever get answers?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Governor Fashola and Lagos, the Mega City

I am not a big fan of Governor Fashola good as the mega city idea sounds. Much as Eko o ni baje sounds. As a matter of fact I was angry on February 14, 2009 when he contracted Elizabeth R to distribute balloons to Lagosians as his show of commitment to Lagos. For me the big question was na balloon we go chop? I was even angrier at the investment in xmas decorations in the streets of Lagos, pretty as they were. My sentiments are that we need good roads and lots more infrastructure as opposed to Governor’s BRF show of affection.

However, one thing came to mind recently, beggars on the streets of Lagos. I don’t recall seeing beggars while in Lagos traffic anymore. Just like me, you may unconsciously not have noticed. Its either that or I have become a bigz girl that I failed to notice. Here’s what I mean.

Begging in our streets especially at bus stops and areas where traffic lights are pitched used to be cause for anxiety as beggars were a big menace. At some point in Lagos, it was a source of livelihood and to some others a profession or vocation (you’ll understand soon enough). For me distinguishing between the destitute and the beggar had proven an arduous task. Some used to beg in-style and others did it the traditional way.

I do not know if you recall a most interesting group of child-beggars. Cute little girls with their tanned fair skin and silky curly hair (which most of us would give anything to have) who used to go on bare feet or bathroom slippers! Rumour had it that they were children from Niger. They would follow and glue to pedestrian (ladies in particular) like magnet to a metal, flattering to get what they wanted. Now, these ones used to insist and would embarrass you if you refused to let go of your money, some even attempted to seize ladies bags with a lot of aggression. This worked at a time but as time went by they lost audience. So they reinvented themselves and began to parade at bus stops with trays of sweets singing in the three Nigerian languages interchangeably, asking that you support them by buying their sweets, since you have constantly reprimanded them for begging. Yet again they are very persistent. What was most absurd about these beggars was the fact that their parents sat across the streets calmly waiting to collect the proceeds of the child-beggars.

Another no-longer popular group of beggars is the breast feeding mother with her suckling twin babes on her nipples under the heat of the sun. Hers was an emotional game - hoping that you’ll take pity on her at the sight of the poor little ones (even when she failed to do so herself) and let go of a few Nairas. Quite selfish of her and to her detriment most times, passers-by turned deaf ears disgusted at the sight. Her male counterparts who also used ‘pity’ as his strategy were those with either an amputated arm or leg. Some say they are victims of the Sharia law. Could it be true? If true, did judgment passed on them justify begging? I still see a few of them around Maryland but no longer rampant.

The most appalling of this pity driven group of beggars are a popular sect on the Falomo Bridge and Kingsway Road. A perfect picture is a child or an adult on a wheel chair with a growth or swelling on the face or neck which has caused the body part to be distorted. This syndicate would usually use an amplifier pleading for help on behalf of the sufferer while other members share leaflets as well as collect donations from well meaning Nigerians. I wonder if they really used the proceeds for the treatment as claimed. Afterall, the sufferer is handicapped and cannot fight!

“…Excuse me madam, am actually on my way to Iyana-Ipaja, CMS to Iyana-Ipaja is a hundred naira but I just have sixty naira, could you please assist me by giving me anything you have. I really don’t mean to embarrass you, thank you….”. Does that ring a bell? Those are the professionals who had perfected the act. I bet this is familiar both for the motorist and pedestrian. I call them corporate because they are polite, well dressed, well spoken and present their case very well. The first thing that comes to mind when such walks up to you is that he wants to ask for directions. Hell no! You’re wrong, he’s a beggar. But who has perfected the act.

Back in 2003 when I used to ride home with a colleague after work, I was introduced to the Allah bà mùsà. Those were the magic word to dismiss the fail old beggar (the Ba bi Allah, beggars). I realized that each time the Ba bi Allah-beggar approached my colleague dismissed them by saying Allah bà mùsà. When I probed, I learnt that Allah bà mùsà meant “God will provide”.

The Ba bi Allah, beggars are the traditional duo of a frail old man mumbling with his walking-stick and plate, guided by a child. They are not aggressive trusting God to provide and satisfied with whatever goes into the plate no matter how small. To them, it is okay for some to have more than others and for he who doesn’t; it is more dignifying to beg than to steal, so they beg willing. They do not make a fuss about it and are willing to move on to the next vehicle if they do not get any response.

The question is - Did God really provide or is Governor BRF gradually succeeding at cleaning the streets of Lagos? If the answer is yes, then I guess Governor BRF’s mega city plan is working and I cannot but give him Kudos.

Eko o ni baje o!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Love Vs. Romance

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 says ’Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’.

Rhythm FM presenter IK aka the Wild Child says “Love is a decision to give yourself to someone” while Dan Forster of Inspiration FM says “Love is TIME”.

Their definitions of love both strike me although I was more impressed by the fact that they could define Love somewhat unlike the majority of Nigerian men who say they are in Love but cannot define it. I guess for IK he continues to reassure the Vitamin O by saying ‘hey baby, there are so many hot ladies out there but I choose you!’. Am sure you’d be wondering where that came from, but if you are a follower of IK’s radio show you’d know him to drop lines that sound like that. He plays out to be a ladies’ man and a natural flirt so much so that even the Vitamin O has become his partner in crime.

But here’s what struck me even more; a guy once called into Chaz B’s show, sharing life’s issues and asked his fellow men to grow up. Why? According to him, Pastor Paul Adefarasin of the House on the Rock church defines Romance as this simple equation: ROMANCE = MONEY+POWER+SEX. When I heard that, I said to myself, wow! How profound. Really if that’s what romance is, then why bother about Love given that Nigerian men truly are incapable of loving?

I came to a submission some nine years ago that Love doesn’t exist, at least in this clime. Nigerian
men tell you they are natural polygamists and that that’s the way they were created. That they are genetically wired differently from Oyinbo men. They use lines like: ‘How can a man continue to eat only Egusi? Variety is the spice of life’, blah blah blah! So, I gave up expecting Love to happen and as a rule tell every man I have known since then not to make me any promises. And like Demi Moore in the movie Ghost, I vowed not to use the word LOVE. When men ask me what I want from a relationship, I say ‘I don’t know’. When they ask me about myself, I say ‘You’ll find out as we get along, let’s just have fun'. I have replaced the word LOVE with phrases like: ‘I am falling into you’; ‘I really care about you’; ‘You make me happy’ and ‘I am getting emotionally involved’. These phrases work just fine, as far as am concerned. My very last escapade can tell you that when he mentioned that he was falling in Love with me, I stopped chatting and laughed-out-loud and in my head I was thinking, 'who are you fooling?!

My girlfriends and a very fond ex-boyfriend tried to make me see or think otherwise but I refuse to.
Tell me, how many Nigerian men can achieve 100% or a close 80% of what 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 defines as love? Yet that’s the most quoted text on LOVE. Moreso, how many are capable of giving themselves to just one woman as IK suggests. As for TIME being equal to LOVE, that’s the most practical definition of all three mentioned, yet our men can't even achieve that.

The truth is that I cannot but agree with Pastor Paul because no woman wants to be with a man 24-7, 365 days a year if he hasn’t got JOB, has no money, is not in control of his finances, lives in his mother’s house, if he’s a mummy’s boy that does all his mother says, is not seen to be in control of something, hasn't got the suave or panache, doesn't make her melt at his touch, if he says YES to all his woman says but is available all the time to hold her hand, listen to her and meet her sexual needs. By inference, such men define love as: LOVE = BROKE+TIME+WEAK. But we no fit chop Sex na, check am!

Some ladies settle for such men because according to them you have peace and are guaranteed of his fidelity. But the truth is that such women envy the woman whose man is a suave Mr. Fix it. They also wish to be pampered because truly a little vanity doesn’t hurt. Nigerian women love strong men.

Like my friend Yinka Ijabiyi says…’whose mumu switch are you pushing?’. Is it the weak low-life or the high and mighty? According to him in his write-up keys, ‘If all you’ve got is some 'small-fry-hiding-their-tiny-head-in-a-puddle-somewhere-pretending-to-be-the-king-or-queen-of-the-zanga’s mumu switch, then you my friend are a bigger idiot than the mumu you’ve got their switch’.

As for me, I'm not really interested in the mumu switch. I settle for Romance because the only kind of Love I want is that between a mother and her child. Our mothers love us conditionally. Good or bad (pikin wey bad na im Mama get am); fat or skinny; ugly or good looking (monkey no fine, im Mama like am); tall or short, black or white. My mum Theresa, and I have quarreled countless times but we kiss and make-up so easily that the reason behind the quarrels cease to exist and stop hurting. But it hasn’t been so with me and the opposite sex. The biblical injunction of forgiving as many as 70x7 times has only applies to Me and my Mum but has failed to apply in my relationships with men. My roommate told me back in our university days that friendship is like a piece of china (tea-cup), once cracked can never remain the same. You may try to mend it but it will never be the same. My love for my mum and vice versa has defied that rule yet the rule holds true for my relationship with that particular friend and a lot of men I have come across in my life.

Ultimately, if Love with the man-in-my-life cannot be as it is between Me and Theresa; then I settle for Romance!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Corruption in High Places

It’s been forty-months since I last visited my birth place, Benin in Edo state located in the south-south region of Nigeria. The sand is still dark red; the mud as thick as ever; the roads still full of gullies and the flood after every rain at as notorious as I can remember. The flood on Uselu road such a nuisance that it is now referred to as Uselu-river. I’m nostalgic when I am served soup in a clay pot and even more so when I taste the roadside crunchy bean cake locally called Akara; but on the flipside, I am saddened when I see my people at the bus stops and realize that they are still as poor as I left them. I recall the spate of development in the Middle East also world producers of oil and deep within me I wonder why we cannot have rapid development. The question is why? After all, we are an oil-rich nation. The answer I get: corrupt leaders!

I heard about Transparency International on the radio and its rating of countries in relation to corruption and so decided to run a Google search on it. According to Wikipedia, since 1995, Transparency International has published an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ordering the countries of the world according to "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians". The organization defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain". Nigeria is rated one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and it was interesting to discover that the corruption perception index has been criticized because the definition of what constitutes bribery, tipping or corruption vary from one country to another. There’s without a doubt that Transparency International’s definition of corruption points accusing fingers at our leaders. But what struck me in the definition are the words ‘abuse, power and gain’ and here’s my thinking.

It goes without saying that Nigerians are after what they can get from their neighbours each person using the other as a stepping stone to achieve his own goals. As my colleague puts it, our appetite for evil is huge. We all use our power to the detriment of others. My friend’s experience captures it vividly. He had reason to see someone somewhere in Surulere, Lagos. The particular street was unfamiliar to him so at a point he decided to stop and ask for directions. He beckoned on a young man along the sidewalk and asked him for the needed direction. He was lucky, the man was familiar with the vicinity and so he turned out to be helpful. As courtesy demands, he said “thank you” but guess the reply he received in return, “Oga na thank you I go chop”. My friend said he was absolutely short of words and taken aback. The summary of his experience, nothing goes for nothing in Naija.

In our higher institutions, bribery, cheating and extortion are the order of the day. This is disheartening considering that the academias next to parents are responsible for character formation and instilling knowledge. You know what they say, “education goes beyond reading and writing”. And on the other hand, our students, the future of tomorrow; our hope for a better Nigeria are jointly guilty of corruption. You may wish to take me on but so many examples come to mind.

For instance, the Faculty officer who insists on a tip, before registering a student’s courses for an academic session and the hard-headed student who on the other hand, refuses to bribe the faculty officer but decides to forge the necessary signatures to facilitate the submission of his course forms failure of which would mean he cannot sit for his semester exams. Both faculty officer and student have ‘abused power’. If the student, the future of tomorrow, has already begun to imbibe this practice of forgery; how can we then adduce corruption only to our government?

Still in our higher institutions, we have the lecturer who decides that lecture notes otherwise known as hand-outs will be imposed on students (even if he/she already acquired one from a senior course mate) and as a matter of fact conducts continuous assessment test for only those who purchase his lecture notes, or even decides to score his patrons arbitrarily, while leaving the grades of others to their fate all in a bid to make money. Isn’t he guilty of abusing power for a personal gain? Yet, he is quick to blame the government under the camouflage of ASUU. I listened on the radio recently as an undergraduate student narrated her ordeal of how she had to bribe her lecturer with $1,000 for a single course in order to pass; her other option of course would have been to sleep with him, so she choose the ‘lesser evil‘ in her opinion.

I have also learnt of a school’s principal who when approached by a corporate body that wanted to provide some infrastructural support under its corporate social responsibility initiative was more interested in her personal gains instead of the welfare of the students.

The policeman who harasses drivers at check points under the guise of doing his job by requesting for particulars and the driver too who fails to renew his license because he believes he can get away with the expired document with the aid of a few Naira notes; is another example that comes to mind. Wouldn’t you agree with me that both policeman and driver are corrupt?

During the military regime, I’m told that a lot of agile young men decided to join the army simply because they hoped to become a military state administrator some day and amass wealth. That is obviously corruption pre-meditated.

You would agree with me also that are we all jointly responsible for fast tracking applications for passports, driving licenses and jumping queues because we have the power to pay a premium.

These are the sorts of scenarios we are faced with in Nigeria today and they convict YOU & ME. We can go on and on but the common excuse given is that people are corrupt because they are poor.

You would also agree that all scenarios (forgery, exploitation, extortion, bribery etc.) involve some form of abuse of power for a personal gain. My point is “corruption in high places”, is not a thing of today in our society and involves the high and mighty just as it involves the common man on the streets. The truth is that the high and mighty, already had engaged in one form of corruption or the other before attaining their high and mighty positions. Things are no longer done on merit in Nigeria because each one seeks to favour his accomplice who aides him in perpetuating corruption. Even those who strive to steer clear of corruption find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. Corruption has become inherent in every one of us!

Poverty has a role to play too, but I dare say it’s not a justification for doing wrong. For as long as we (the masses) continue to see poverty as a justification for corruption rather than seeing corruption as the reason for poverty, we are not significantly different from those we accuse so gravely; and we will all continue in this vicious circle, corruption beginning in the lower places and graduating unto higher places and poverty would continue to thrive!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Five Things I Hate About Living Single.

A few weeks ago after a hard day’s job, I got caught up in Lagos traffic and just as the traffic eased-off and I released my car brake in order to move,to my surprise the car began to jerk and gradually came to a halt. I watched as everyone else progressed while I was at a standstill. I sat in the car for a few minutes wondering the next step to take. It was 8p.m on a Wednesday night, there was no telling that the Kia service centre would have closed for business for the day. In the midst of my thoughts, I realised that I was soon to receive the outburst of Lagosians who had been enraged by the traffic, so the wise thing to do was give to an indication that there was a problem with my car.

As is customary, I turned on my hazard lights and got out of the car, opened the bonnet and looked into the engine in search of what was wrong. Unfortunately, I saw nothing strange. Perhaps, it was so because I hardly knew a thing about cars. For me, driving a brand new car was living the life! I never bothered with the daily top-up of engine oils or water. In my opinion, that was the burden of the driver of a fairly-used car. I would normally wake up every morning, get dressed and hit the road. It was my firm belief that as long as I was faithful with my quarterly car service I had nothing to worry about.

In my pandemonium, I looked up but there was no superman to rescue me so it occurred to me that the next best thing to do was call for help. So I reached for my Blackberry and as I scrolled through my address book, I came across the number of a friend that lived very close to the point I had found myself stranded. I called him and yippee, I was in luck! He was home. Being a reliable gentleman, he answered my call for help. I no time, he got my car back on the road and I continued home.

When I got home, I heaved a sigh of relief. It was good to be home. All I wanted was a quick dinner, a hot bath and some beauty sleep. I got into my bedroom, switched on the bulb and it failed to come on. Subconsciously, I switched it off and on again and it still didn’t come on. It was then that I realized that the bulb was burnt. I headed for the kitchen to light a candle and as I got into the kitchen before I switched on the bulb, I felt something smooth and swift run over my leg. I hastened and switched on the bulb, thank heavens, it wasn’t burnt; I saw a rat starring right into my eyes. How many troubles could a single lady handle in one night, I thought? I was in no mood to chase a rat let alone attempting to kill one. I had my mind set so I lit a candle, went back to my bedroom, took off my work clothes and slipped into something more comfortable. Thereafter, I went across the street, bought a new bulb and replaced the one in my bedroom. After changing the bulb, I decided to do a quick check on my pink halter neck dress which I was to wear to a Gala Nite at the weekend, and behold it had a golden-brown patch right in the middle. I had no clue where had the stain had come from? I had to get it to the drycleaners fast. It was a pink ball and since I wasn’t a fan of pink, I didn’t have any alternative so I had to get that dress dry cleaned before the event. It was Wednesday night; my itinerary for the next day was tight how then would I get my dress dry-cleaned before Friday evening, I thought to myself?

In the midst of it all, I was famished and I had to make a snappy dinner. I got a clean pot and I placed the pot on my gas cooker, struck a match to light the fire and alas! I was out of cooking gas. Could it get worse than that in one night?

Instantly, I had a quick recap in my head; first, it was my car, secondly; I had to change a bulb, then; I would have had to chase and kill a rat but for my decision to co-habit with one. Next, I saw a stain on my dress. And to crown it all, I tried to cook against all odds only to discover I had run-out of cooking gas. How I hated this life, having to remember and do all these myself and not having any help or shoulders to cry on. At that point I was very tired, more tired than hungry. I could have gone to bed without food, but my stomach rumbled badly so I decided to settle for cereal as my dinner.

As I had my lean dinner in misery, I wondered how the Beijing Conference or the agitation for ‘Women Liberation’ came about. So much for ‘what a man can do a woman can do better’; so much for women being great at multi-tasking; so much for not needing men. It was all a bit too much for me to handle. That night I had relied on a man to get my car back on the road. If there was one around, he certainly would have sorted-out the bulb and dealt with the rat. I came to the conclusion that despite how much we try to deny it, every woman needs a man. “It truly is a man’s world”.

I had always been very excited about living single. I bragged to my friends about how I enjoyed absolute serenity and had discovered myself even more after I took the bold step of paying for my own apartment. I guess that night was just a reminder that there are always two sides to the coin. Or like artiste Desree put it, "Life indeed can be fun if you really want it to…sometimes living out your dreams ain’t as easy as it seems”.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What’s luck got to do with it?

Yesterday, May 29, 2010 marked yet another Democracy Day celebration in Nigeria. My thoughts this year were far from the fear of the future or what the future holds for Nigerians. This year, I fell deeply in thoughts seeking answers to a long-standing question on my mind.

For a long time, I have struggled with the issue of luck and the role it plays in the lives of humans. The belief that some are born lucky and others unlucky and the mindset that life happens for some simply out of LUCK!

My friend fondly called Mr. EBENEBEN recently had a profile message on his BlackBerry messenger which read: ‘chance favours the prepared mind’. When I read it, I couldn’t but agree with him and so, I sent him a message saying “very profound” statement. This was of course before the events of May 5, 2010 and the consequent swearing-in of Goodluck Jonathan as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Prior to the swearing-in of President Obama on January 20, 2009 as the first black president of the United States of America, I had struggled with the issue of destiny but on that historic day, I conceded that Obama was born for such a time as this. Now with the coming of Goodluck Jonathan, I face a greater dilemma!

I am bedeviled by numerous questions like: “How far did luck take Jonathan before he was called upon to be Deputy Governor?”; “In the early years of Jonathan’s life especially before he decided to pursue his political ambition, did he consider himself lucky?”; “Did his values or temperament play a role in the manifestation of his goodluck? ”; “Can a man thwart his own luck or destiny?”; “Is Goodluck Jonathan a man of chance simply favoured by preparedness; as may also be the case with Obama?”

In my soul searching, I have drawn from the experiences of revered people in the Bible, Joseph and the Virgin Mary noted for their self preservation, King Solomon who chose wisdom amid all things as the one gift he wanted from God and his father David who so loved and honoured God such that he became acclaimed, the man after God's heart. In all of these cases, ‘chance and the prepared mind’ come to play. The Bible gives account of Joseph telling his brothers that he being sold into slavery was as God purposed it. I guess by inference we can say that Joseph was destined to be Governor of Egypt. My question then is: “If he had fallen for the temptation of Potiphar’s wife would that destiny have been fulfilled?”

There’s just something about success that gets people talking. I’ve heard that success has many friends. The scenario that usually plays-up is that, as soon as a man becomes successful, on-lookers latch onto his present successes and achievements and instantly tag him LUCKY. And the reason is not far-fetched because those friends-of-success fail to realise that the one they celebrate more often than not, had a humble beginning backed with many days of toiling and sacrificing.

My conclusion is that inherent in luck or destiny our individual values come to play.

Celebrating Mothers: A Tribute to My Grandma

It’s the month of May in which both mothers and children are celebrated globally; and today, I celebrate mothers but pay special tributes to my grandma, Asana fondly called Mama Nokhwa meaning ‘Big Mama’ in Uwano language of Etsako land in Edo State, Nigeria.

It’s been almost ten years since Mama passed away but memories of her are still so vivid in my mind. I wake up in the morning and I find myself singing choruses in her local dialect. At work I exclaim in her local dialect once startled. Only a person who impacted one’s life tremendously can have such lingering memories. I guess the saying that as you grow older, you begin to appreciate your mum more is indeed true.

Mama’s bigness was not in her physique but in the size of her heart and her warmth. She was big in the sense that everyone looked up to her; her brothers (older and younger), children, grand children, sister-in-law and most especially her nieces and nephews from who the name ‘Mama Nokhwa’ originated. She was so looked-up to that even as she lay stone cold in death on the night of her wake, her brother said to her “what am I supposed to do now that the lioness is gone?” Her generosity knew no bounds; she was never tired of sharing or giving. She loved her brothers (both unfortunately blinded by diabetes) unconditionally and beyond measure. But there was no mistaking what she stood for; discipline. The astute disciplinarian!

Yes, with Big Mama, there was time for everything. A time to study and a time to play; a time to eat and definitely time for household chores; a time for prayer and time for bed. All the kids in our neighbourhood knew that they could only visit us including during holidays if they were ready to recite to the time-table (2 x 1= 2) as it appeared behind the Onward notebooks in our time.

She was renowned for her little bell which rang at 9p.m. just as the NTA network news began, and she’d usually say “early to bed…” and there was no telling that we should hop and run to bed. At 5a.m the next morning, the same bell would go-off; this time she’d say, “Prayer time”. The bell never went-off in the afternoon except at the end of the holidays. The occasion, time to give, which she cheerfully called ‘work of mercy’. Two or three days before the end of the holiday especially summer holidays, she would come round to our rooms ringing the bell and asking the question, “anything for work of mercy?”. When we grumbled that we didn’t have any used or worn-out clothes, she reminded us that the clothes we give out need not be worn-out and she wouldn’t leave until everyone had ransacked their wardrobes and let-go of something. Mama always returned to her hometown, Agenebode with something for the needy; most times, good clothing because she came around virtually every holiday not cutting us any slack to wear-off the clothes. On the flipside, it earned us the position of the loved and ever welcomed grand children of Mama, who people trooped-in to visit or waited to greet in church every time we went to Agenebode for holidays. Better still, she helped us to imbibe the spirit of giving at an early age and to live by the principle of not giving out any gifts which we do not consider befitting enough for ourselves.

At age 9, I began to learn to do the dishes. Am still quite petitie, so at age 9, I wasn’t much taller than the kitchen sink. I was made to climb the native stool (Joko) so that I could be much taller and comfortable enough to do the dishes. Each time I make a meal out of boiled potatoes, I remember my grandma, each time I’m opportuned to eat Akara in Lagos, I remember all the years I made home-made Akara for Mama after she was also diagnosed with diabetes in her old age.

I could go on and on about Mama because of how proud I am of her and the experiences I had that shaped me for today. The key question is: “what do we have to pass on to our kids as mothers of today?”

Being passionate about society and social issues, I am an ardent listener of ‘Sharing lives issues with Chaz B’ on Inspiration 92.3fm’. On a particular day, a question was posed to the male listeners of the radio show. It was: ‘would you marry a woman who cannot cook?’. A few responded in the affirmative and I was quite impressed. But in no time women had taken over the show and the discussions took a new turn. Women became defensive arguing that men have become too demanding, expecting a career woman to get home after the days job and hours in traffic and still get into the kitchen. I share their concerns and belong to the school of thought subscribe to cooking from scratch on weekends while we make do with what we have stocked in the refrigerator on weekdays. However, are women supposed to be able to cook? My candid opinion is that NO, is not an option; at least for the African woman. And for those who were not opportuned to learn and have accommodating husbands who are willing to teach them or let them learn, they need to do so.

In the same manner that we expect our men to cater for the family financially, so is the kitchen and minding the home our responsibility. I doubt that we can attain the standards set in the Bible in Proverbs 31, but it gives an idea of what the expectations are.

God has given us a responsibility as women to nurture the family and difficult as the times are, we must accept that which we have been called to do by our Maker. Money, beauty, family and friends may go away but life’s experiences stay with us forever. What will your children say about you when you are gone? Will you be worth up to a thousand words?