Reflections

1
The older I get, the better I was
2
Are you my mentor?
3
Tailor – made
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Just do it
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A new order, a new Nigeria…I hope
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Mcts: Monday came too soon
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A cry for help
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Sai Buhari: Memories of Collating Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Polls Results
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The Second Best Thing You Can Do With Your Lips.
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Finally, it’s happening: Nigeria is deciding.

The older I get, the better I was

A friend’s t- shirt, back in the university, had that scrawled across it (beginning at the front and ending at the back). I wondered about the statement every time I saw it. I mentally compared my vainer, younger self with my ever – growing, worldly – wise older self. Cuter? Yeah. More hair? Yep. Easier life? Definitely. Carefree? Uh hu. Eager to please everyone? Oh yes. More organized? Yes. More selfish than a cat? Check. Quite shallow? Oh yes. So superficial? You got it. Prim & proper? Yes, yes, yes. Large helpings of impatience? Yeaaaaaaah. Bashfully shy? Loads. Read voraciously? Uh hu. The more I compared, the less I liked the outcome. The statement didn’t hold true for me. Scratch that. I didn’t like that it didn’t ring true for me. I wanted it to. So badly. Almost two decades later, this thought has gone through a total transformation. I think of that inscription today like I do every year on my birthday as I begin to compare last year’s me to this year’s. Today, yet another birthday of mine, is no different.               On becoming a vulture. I prefer the woman I currently am who can deliberately manage her impatience and reign it in when she feels her grip on it is slipping. A decade or so ago, I was incapable of this or even the willingness to try. My goal is to be almost like a vulture waiting to devour a carcass. Grey matter. In my life now, there is a grey shade that is ever – widening. Before, black or white was good, very good, enough for me. Unless, of course, it was the rainbow or colour spectrum being talked about, don’t you go telling me about grey or its varying shades. Miss Prim & Proper. That was my middle name for as long as I can remember. In my speech, habits, writing, the way things ought to be done… Today, I am not quite so rigid. Yes, there are correct and formal ways of doing things but the times have”more

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Are you my mentor?

Are you my mentor?                 Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg doesn’t like anyone asking that question of someone else. Yes, I’m still on about her book Lean In. Go read it if you haven’t. She encourages her readers to ‘excel and you’ll get a mentor’. As I read that line, I bit my lip knowingly. I plead guilty to asking that question because I once had a mentor more than a decade ago. My first job was at an NGO geared towards encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship amongst youths and adults. To facilitate its numerous programmes – classes, workshops, mentorship, trainings, etc – it recruited volunteers from all works of life in their professional capacities to share their expertise, to teach, to mentor, to consult. And whenever there was a workshop taking place, most staff pitched in to assist the department responsible for organizing it. Often, I’d offer to register participants or write up mini – bios for all the speakers. That day I chose to write. His resume was the second amongst the small sheaf of papers given to me. As I put his qualifications and experiences together, unconsciously my mind wandered a bit. Blame it on the work environment then and all that talk about the importance of a mentor. I knew him vaguely. I knew what he looked like and had formed an impression already. However, it had been his written words on paper that had made me sit up and take notice. (He had helped the organization conduct interviews and some of his thoughts were blunt, abrupt, harsh…). Later on, I walked down the corridor towards a colleague’s office and saw him being interviewed by the press, just before he was billed to speak. My mind wandered again. This time deliberately. By the end of the workshop, I had wrangled out an introduction from a friend of his who was also a colleague of mine (one of the workshop organizers), and he had invited me to dinner with them. I still remember the moment I asked him: ‘Would you be my mentor?’ as”more

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Tailor – made

Few people I know have good, all round stories about the individuals who make their clothes. From ‘He’s so good at it’ ‘It fits perfectly’ ‘She’s a genius’ to ‘It’s too tight!’ ‘It’s too big!’ ‘This is not the style I wanted’ ‘What nonsense! How am I supposed to wear this?!’ I have heard it all. I have been there too. And at some point, I have told myself: ‘No more tailors! I’d only buy my clothes and save myself the headache of an unreliable dressmaker.’ But how do you deal with asoebi matters for that special event? In addition, there are just some outfits that need to be made and not bought off the rack. The first (wrong) cut is the deepest Back in school, a classmate introduced me to her ‘fab’ tailor. And to test him out, I asked he reproduced a quite complicated, long – sleeved top with pockets and slits. The result? A perfectly executed job, right down to the finishing. He was ‘fab’ all right. Thrilled that I had a tailor I could trust, his next job was a simple, black, knee – length skirt with a slit at the back. Disaster! The front of the skirt was longer than the back; it was a little too wide at the hips and there were three buttons on one of the slit’s flaps! How did that happen? What was he thinking? Where did the ‘fab’ go? A Ghanaian was my first seamstress in Lagos. Large shop. Countless assistants. Even more countless customers. Would she have time for me and my little business of one outfit in three months? The white lace ensemble she made was complaint – free. She got my statistics and style down pat. She also got the feeling I like to have when wearing a well – made, well – fitted attire. I sang her praises to whoever listened. So when a cousin was getting married, a few months later, who else did we give the family’s asoebi to work her magic with? No contest there, it had to be the Ghanaian. The”more

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Just do it

              I haven’t posted anything on this blog in more than a month now. Maybe it was intentional.  Maybe it wasn’t. I had plans to put finishing touches to the general look and feel of the blog but, judging from the ‘nothing new’ or ‘still – the – same – look’ of the blog, I am yet to achieve that goal. I was side – tracked by a book project which has been pending for more than a year now. I spent the entire June fine – tuning that contract and all else that went with it – agreeing on cost, sorting out timelines, materials, man hours, resources and references, googling and mentality preparing myself for the task ahead. Yes, it took that long. Then again, my contractor didn’t move as fast as I’d have liked. Now that it is well under way (I’m at the tail – end of the first part of the book; there are seven parts in all), I can come up for some air…and blog just a teeny bit. I do not know when I’d be adding the necessary finesse to the blog as I had earlier planned but it would certainly be in this lifetime, as I am currently engulfed in this project with a rather distant monitoring eye from my contractor. Not that I mind it, though; it kinda keeps me grounded, focused. And to think I had originally rejected this offer a year ago. My contractor (a former boss and a lovable one too), on the other hand,  wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He spent weeks (and mails with loads of exclamation marks) convincing me that I was the right woman for the job.           I finally changed my mind. Albeit halfheartedly. Blame it on his persuasion skills and one of my resolutions to face my fears, and try new experiences. Then it took months that piled up into a year before we could meet and discuss the project’s details. Scattered all around me are his notes as I write this. They”more

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A new order, a new Nigeria…I hope

        Even though I was going to dedicate all the posts of this month to the children (because of children’s day and all the other holidays), I knew it was going to be difficult not writing about the significance of today. Not after starting the countdown since March 31st.  And I know I wasn’t the only one. This day. May.29.2015. Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for it arrive? How long I’ve been hoping, praying, believing for this change alongside millions of other Nigerians? And like the coming of the morning after a long -drawn night, this day has dawned. It is here. Finally. No, the change hasn’t started but the symbol of it begins today with the inauguration ceremony (I’m watching it on TV right now and can’t help smiling as the president- elect arrives). With the change in government. With the arrival of a new governing party. With the dawn of a new era. This change is on the heels of hope. Something else I and many others have held on to, maybe even longer than our need for change. Hope. That things can and will get better in this country. For all classes of people. That the very basic amenities and infrastructures will work and I’d be more than pleased to continue paying my taxes. That the government in place has mine and every other citizen’s welfare and well – being at the centre of all its operations, and won’t take us for granted while leading us. Hope. Change. These two words are synonyms for the new Buhari – led government. For his sake and all the millions of others who believe in him, I hope he won’t fail us. Today, he takes charge and the affairs of Nigeria would not be business as usual, I hope. I want change to be more than just a campaign slogan and I’m prepared to wait for it to unfold. Not in the first ‘100 days in office’ yardstick used for our leaders but in a year or two. Nigeria is too far down the”more

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Mcts: Monday came too soon

Where did my weekend go? What happened during the weekend? Oh yes, elections. No vehicular movement. Ghost town. After that. Church. Chores. Chilling. And poof, like a flash, that’s where my weekend went. With boring bits flying out. No sooner did I lay me down to sleep than I’m here at 6.15am, tapping away at my laptop. The quiet of the morning, and indeed the house, a soothing companion to my early engagement. My head is uncluttered. My mind is free. My fingers fly of their own volition. I can hear myself think. I plan my day, my week. Collect my thoughts. Enjoy my company. Reminisce. This is one time I’m at my best. Before the dawn. Before the noise of another day. And definitely before my children awake. It’s always a ‘me time’ I look forward to. So even if I’m complaining about a short and uneventful weekend, I’m glad for the start of another work day, work week. Hello Monday, it’s good to see you. I have quite a list of things to do. So let’s get cracking!

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A cry for help

            I was halfway through making breakfast when the sound pierced the quiet of that Sunday morning. It was forlorn. Sad. Like the owner knew his/her fate was approaching fast and hoping to avert it with a desperate, last – minute appeal for mercy. At first, I ignored it and went about my food  task at hand. Breakfast was an untried recipe and I needed to get it right in order to add it to my repertoire of meals. There were also several hungry mouths waiting for it after expending energy in church earlier on. I couldn’t afford a burnt or under cooked meal or one that didn’t turn out well with the right blend of sweet and savoury tastes the recipe required. All eyes were on me and my (improving) cooking skills. So there was little or no time for distractions of any kind. I had just lowered the heat to allow the various components slow – cook to delicious goodness when the sound came again. This time  sustained for a longer period than the first. After that, coming at frequent intervals and for longer. As I put used kitchen items into the sink for washing later on, it accompanied my actions. When I set out plates to receive portions of the food once cooked, it provided a solemn soundtrack to the clink of crockery.  And as I tasted the meal for a balance of spices, there it was. It dogged my every move; an unhappy, background music. As though meant only for me, an SOS message in unrefined tones. Each succeeding one more heart – wrenching than the last, making it absolutely difficult to ignore now. Unless I was made of stone. By this time, I knew where the sound came from and why. Two weeks ago, my next door neighbour invited my beau and I to a party she’d be hosting in her home. The day of the event was here and some  hapless animal just realized it was going to play a star role in the party’s meal courses. Its constant”more

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Sai Buhari: Memories of Collating Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential Polls Results

            If you didn’t know this already, we have a new president – elect. All hail Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. Yaaaaaaay! His fourth attempt and subsequent triumph at the polls over the weekend imply a number of things in Nigeria:   1. That Nigerians are beginning to make their voices heard and their votes count. 2. That an opposition party can trump the ruling one. 3. That Nigerians will and can vote out an administration they are unsatisfied  with and disappointed in. 4. That Nigerians want and demand change in the status quo of their daily lives.   Today, we are a happy people, a happy nation because of the results of the elections as well as the electoral process that produced them. However, on Monday March 30  at the start of collating the results from various states, the tension in the country was thicker than a highway divider. Channels TV, a popular news television station, had almost the entire nation(and their friends) glued to their screens watching the proceedings broadcast live from Abuja with Prof. Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), presiding over them. It didn’t help that the process lasted two days. Not all results were ready at the same time nor were they all ready on the same day. Each collation officer (usually from the academia who was also a professor and most likely the vice chancellor/deputy vice chancellor of a university) presented state results once they were ready. By the end of the first day, the tension was still as thick  if not more; fingers nails had been bitten to childish, painful levels; and blood pressures had increased significantly. Some didn’t sleep well that night while others didn’t sleep at all. That’s what a keenly contested election does to the electorate. The second day began with the same tension and trepidation in front of the TV screen and all the other additional screens in our viewing lives – cell phone, ipad, laptop, etc. Papers, loads of sheets, appeared too in front of almost everyone. Suddenly there were more collation”more

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The Second Best Thing You Can Do With Your Lips.

          ‘I’d like to order for a cake.’ ‘What size?’ ‘What sizes do you have?’ She stoops low and brings out all the different sizes of baking pans from somewhere below where she sits. I hover over a  13 – inch rounded one. Undecided. ‘Character cakes. Do you have those? Maybe I can make a choice from there.’ ‘Which character do you want?’ ‘Bubble guppies.’ Blank stare. Silence. Then…’What is bubble…?’ ‘It’s a cartoon of sea creatures: mermaids, mermen, fish, crabs, etc.’ More silence and poker – faced. Then…’We don’t have that.’ ‘Which do you have?’ ‘Mickey mouse, Dora the explorer…’ I shake my head. ‘No, I don’t want any of those. She has outgrown them. What would you suggest for an eight year old girl?’ Silence. Shrug. I raise my brows in anticipation of an answer that never came. Then her colleague right next to her speaks up. Making suggestions. Showing me sample cakes and photos. From there, it was easy to decide on the size, colour and look of the cake. It was T’s birthday on Thursday last week, and bright and early on Wednesday morning saw me talking to a quite uninspiring, reluctantly helpful customer service lady at the cake shop. Any excitement I had on my way there had almost dissipated by the time I engaged in banter with her. Her lack lustre attitude drained most of my upbeat mood and the happy anticipation of another birthday of T’s. She seemed to just be going through the motions of her job. Yeah, it is just another day at work with oh – so cherry, chirpy customers trying to improve my mood towards my job. No, thank you. Leave me to my no – smiling, can’t – help you demeanor. It suits me just fine. They say everyone you  meet is fighting a battle, so be considerate. Because this thought ran through my mind as I stood in front of her, I tried to imagine what personal or professional wars were raging in her world. Man issues? Dissatisfaction with her job? A strained”more

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Finally, it’s happening: Nigeria is deciding.

        I am sooooooooo behind in blogging this month. My apologies. I have been under the weather and had to deliberately force myself to get enough rest to prevent a relapse. But I’m back now and stronger. It’s a good day to post as the country goes to the polls to decide on its choice of president for the next four years. Below is something I received a month ago and decided to share today: This election is not about North versus South nor is it Christian versus Muslim. It is about Nigeria and good governance. Don’t allow politicians divide us. When they share money, they don’t talk about religion. When they want donations from Aliko Dangote, they don’t remember he is a Muslim. When they enter an aircraft, they don’t ask the religious faith of the pilot. When their bosses are atheists, they don’t resign from their jobs. When an alhaji gives them contracts, they don’t reject it. They and their wives go to Dubai to spend money. Dubai is in United Arab Emirates but they have no problem buying houses there. Vote your conscience. If you want to vote for Jonathan, vote for him based on your conviction that he has performed in your estimation and not because he is ‘Christian’. If you want to vote for Buhari, vote for him because you feel disenchanted with the Jonathan government and you are convinced that he will perform and not because he is a Muslim. Say NO to bigotry. God bless Nigeria. – Author Unknown       Photo credit: Google home page

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