Archive - October 2017

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October in review: comme ci, comme ća
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G.L.i.B -bed: There’s nothing funny about war
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The beast in our breasts
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G.L.i.B – bed: The Islamist
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G.L.i.B-bed: The house my father built
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A toast to all …certified and otherwise
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Nigeria’s 57th: Independence day thoughts

October in review: comme ci, comme ća

This 10th month felt unfulfilling to me. In terms of my plans for it. Yes, I did read books – three of them – The Islamist, The House My Father Built & Burma Boy. Yes, I did my work out, quite diligently too, save for the time an upset stomach halted me temporarily in my tracks for a couple of days. My 9 – 5 was humdrum, snail – pacing along. No private jobs were bagged this month either. No, I didn’t blog in the manner I’d have preferred – more posts about books read than insights on other everyday events – but I attained my target for the month. It didn’t feel me with any form of satisfaction. Somewhere in the month, I prepped (inadequately too. Let’s see the outcome of that this time next month) for NaNoWriMo. If I can call the three pages of plot notes that! Then I began and completed several editing tests in a frenzy of 14 days for self- improvement and career development. I am yet to attempt any more in the last week or so. Life happened but I intend to return to them and include in my weekly or monthly learning path. And I ended this month doing some female – related health tests. Sobering stuff. Like I said in the beginning, an unfulfilling month but I’m grateful to have seen all of its 31 days.

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G.L.i.B -bed: There’s nothing funny about war

If I hadn’t listened to a review before reading this book, I’d have been blissfully unaware obtuse fact that Kyaffin, Farabiti and Samanja were English words spoken with an Hausa accent. Recounting the WWII experience through the eyes of young African/Nigerian soldiers was equal parts entertaining, sobering, hilarious and depressing. Ordinary fishermen, farmers, traders, most of whom mere teenagers, saw themselves transformed into soldiers of wars from their simple vocations. Their days of mundane working hours, filled with the occasional excitement, seemed a lifetime ago compared to their present situation of terror – filled days and bomb- blasting nights. There’s nothing funny about war. The hellish conditions on the battlefield. The Armageddon that erupts between the warring factions and fight for the ultimate win. Little sleep. Fear of life. Casualties. Diseases. Traps. Landmines… But somehow Biyi Bandele injects a sprinkling of humour and laughter alongside. Perhaps, it’s just as well. Fighting and surviving within breathing distance of intentional enemy fire is one of the most daunting feats any body can experience, capable of altering regular people physically, psychologically, emotionally. A little laughter, a little teasing can do a lot to retain humanity, sanity and purpose. Burma Boy delivers, in minute, excruciating detail, the gory and, dare I say, the glories of war and its effects on the human race and its communities.  

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The beast in our breasts

The call came through on one of those days when I had the second dose of malaria medication flowing in my veins; the time when I was hovering between sickening nausea and weakened limbs. The last thing I craved was answer a call and expel the last vestige of energy I had left. No, I’ll pass. I picked it up. What the caller (a former colleague and friend) had to say made my sickly situation grossly inconsequential. My response, instinctive as it was, was equally news to her as her pronouncement had been to me. A former supervisor (a truly beautiful soul who morphed into a friend, sounding board, co-conspirator and big sister) had died…of breast cancer. I had been aware of her condition and her subsequent relocation to the US for better, further treatment. The reports of her situation sounded good. Last I heard, she was in excellent health. Not anymore. The cancer had won. And I thought she had won.  Going to the States and all. Getting the best of care – chemotherapy, constant monitoring, mastectomy even. I thought she had won. I was not privy to the prognosis of her affliction but whatever it had been (early/last detection, the stage at which it was, metastasized or not), I was confident it wouldn’t win. It might have defined some aspects of her life; it never crossed my mind it would take it eventually. After all, a family friend’s wife had a double mastectomy two years ago and was still a breathing proof of her fight and win against this beast that attacks one of a woman’s discerning traits. The comedian, Tig Notaro, bared it all (her double mastectomy sans reconstructive surgery) to her audience, completing the remaining part of her set Boyish Girl Interrupted topless, unashamed and glad to be alive. Breasts or not. I never thought N. wouldn’t make it out. The news of her death hit very closely home. Until now, I have paid no more than the required attention to my mammary glands – keeping them clean, often times encasing them in snug – fitting”more

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G.L.i.B – bed: The Islamist

With the rise of terrorism, ISIS and Boko Haram right here in our backyard, the choice to read this book was a no – brainer. With a subtitle like Why I joined radical Islam in Britain, what I saw and why I left, did I need any other compelling reason to dive into it head first? Nothing to lose and everything to gain. Though published exactly a decade ago, its contents are just as potent and relevant today (if not more) as they were at the time of release. And who better equipped to reveal the workings and process of radical Islam than a former ardent, active member of the group? Incredibly detailed and, often times, disquieting, the author chronicles his religious, educational and social choices spanning a period of ten years (from mid – teenage years to his early/mid – twenties). In so doing, he lays bare the inner, systematic indoctrination into Islamic extremism of young, impressionable minds; effectively using the foolproof strategy: Teach a child the way he should go and when he grows up, he would not depart from it.  The outcome of which have manifested in present day ISIS’ rampage, global terrorism and our very own Boko Haram, all of whom continue to wreck relentless, senseless havoc, equally, on sympathizers to their cause and non – sympathizers alike. As I thumbed through the pages of this memoir, it also recalled a certain Christian religious group here whose fanaticism, I suspect, (God forgive me) follow the same pattern of indoctrination and concept drilling of radical Islam. If not, how do you explain away their persistent, public – addressed enhanced preaching at insane hours of the morning? Or their they-are-all-sinners attitude towards everyone else except their own devotees? Back to the book. Fortunately, as the author matures, he begins to question the concepts that have been repeatedly drummed into his mind for years. This births a quest for the true Islamic way and what it stands for. Personally, besides opening up the mechanisms of the minds of extremist Islamic groups, this memoir revealed another side of Islam to”more

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G.L.i.B-bed: The house my father built

After the unsated feeling left behind by Diary of a Dead Nigerian and Like a Mule bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, one would have thought I’d steer clear of small – sized novels. But neigh, the first read of this month, The House My Father Built by Adewale Maja – Pearce, fits perfectly into the little mould, and promptly leaving me with a sense of unfinifshedness (if there’s a word like that!) as the other two previous books did. Third time’s the charm, right? Perhaps I’m a sucker for short, well – written book. The pull to devour them always triumph over thick tomes with promises of more reading time. For me, it’s not how big; it’s how well – put together. And thirdly, (didn’t know I was counting), sadly, small novels tick all the right boxes for me. I am willing to risk the Oliver Twist’s feeling it would elicit when I turn the last page. No disappointment there. I was left wanting more after consuming the book in less than 48 hours. The landlord-tenant relationship in Nigeria is a rather unique one. At some point in time, the tenant could be mistaken for the owner of the house because s/he has lived there so long, it has to be his/her own property, abi? Or why else wouldn’t said tenant vacant the premises when required to do so by the landlord? Even after the stipulated notice period has elapsed? Or dare to take the landlord to court on grounds steeped in lies and half – truths? Or threaten the life of the landlord, disrespect him and strip his house bare of fittings and fixtures upon eventual evacuation? The Nigerian tenant is a rare, evolving specie. Little wonder landlords have taken to protecting their lives and property against such by founding their own house rules and leasing only to certain approved individuals and ethnic groups. As the protagonist detailed the lengths and troubles in the process of evicting all the tenants off his property, he dredged up two unpalatable house experiences for me. The first took place in my”more

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A toast to all …certified and otherwise

If you’ve held a child and jogged along as s/he learnt to ride a bicycle on your instructions… If you’ve pointed out words and painstakingly pronounced them properly for another to repeat and remember and read… If you’ve effected an attitude adjustment where there was once deviant behaviour… If you’ve trained a child, a sibling, a protege in the way s/he should go and s/he is yet to depart from it… If you’ve inspired confidence, kindness, gratitude and a pay-it-forward way of life… If you’ve nurtured and mentored a dream, a passion into full-blown tangible reality… If you’ve instilled discipline, obedience, respect, courtesy, empathy in another… If your guidance, nudging, support and frequent yelling have resulted in a better human… If after reading the following quote: “The mistakes of a doctor are buried underground, the mistakes of a lawyer are locked behind bars but the mistakes of a teacher walk up and down the streets ” you think of all the other possible options you’d have taken to instruct, impact effectively… Then raise your glass with mine in a toast to us. However, if you’ve done all of the above (and so much more) as a calling, in a controlled environment which is time – based with certificates and students (past and current) to show for it, Then raise two glasses and chop knuckle as well, if you can. It is not easy, biko. You are truly a gem! Happy teachers’ day!    

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Nigeria’s 57th: Independence day thoughts

This time last year, I wrote a laundry list of Nigeria’s faults and foibles, dwelling on our various disappointments and disgraces, reliving the country’s shams and shame. It was basically a scorecard with a large X mark in bold and bright red colour. The question I asked was: If Nigeria were to be likened to a person, would s/he be considered successful at 56? This time yesterday, God knows. I was geared up to reprise the incident on a larger scale, replete with caustic remarks and snide sides. It was already in the works; use the words of the national anthem or the pledge (or maybe, the coat of arms) and take them apart, line after line. An hour – long radio progam interrupted my dangerous intentions. A special in commemoration of the nation’s independence anniversary. Both anchors of the show – male and female – urged listeners to call in and mention any national achievement that made for personal pride. The first person started it off with Nigeria’s first world cup appearance in ’94. Then the female anchor chipped in with hers – the GSM revolution and the ease it had brought into our daily activities. The next couple of callers latched on to that ‘achievement’ and its offshoots – mobile banking, the cellphone as the be all and end all of our lives. As I listened in, this article began to veer, ever so slightly, in another direction entirely. It was the last caller who vocally externalized my version of a national pride moment – Agbani Darego’s Miss World win. It made history, broke stereotypes and surged the hearts of many citizens of the most populous black nation on earth, as well as the only continent regarded as dark, with enormous pride. Right now, Nigeria may not be where a lot of us hoped it would be. Scratch that. No one imagined the country in the position it is today on October 1, 2017. Time and again, it has failed us.Woefully. Devastatingly. In frustration and despair, a lot of us have abandoned it to seek out foreign lands”more

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