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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.
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Living, reading and setting goals
7
Helping the Help
8
A conversation I might never have
9
One down, eleven more to grow
10
This sugar is made of salt

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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Living, reading and setting goals

                Two weeks ago, I joined an online book club. I’m hoping this move would help me read more books this year and improve on that achievement as I go on. We are a 21-member, all – female group called the bookshelf and I feel really good about it. A few days ago, I posted the article below on the group’s page: What is your reading target? 10 minutes a day? 30 minutes? An hour? A book a week? A month? Quarterly? Annually? One of my 2014 resolutions was to read two (or more) books a month. For someone who claimed to be a voracious reader, this , I admit, was way below my reading standards. But while I played with the idea of increasing my monthly book count, I also considered other areas of my life. I had to be realistic; that’s what the R in the popular S.M.A.R.T goals setting acronym stands for. Because setting the goals are easy. Achieving them…not so much. 2014 started off brilliantly. By the end of February, I had six books under my belt – Mastery, The Art of Speaking Well, Life’s a Pitch, Dreams from my Father, Secret of the Ages & Creative Confidence.               I                 I was on fire! My next book in March was Footprints of an Iconic Diplomat. It took me four months ( shame, shame and more shame) to finish a book that had the word ‘pictorial’ as part of its subtitle! They say it’s the middle months , March – August, that truly tests your determination to stick to your resolutions. I just got proof of that statement.                 My reading went downhill from there and almost crashed into a valley. It was June already. I fell ill in July and just became strong enough in August to travel for my brother’s wedding. All the while I tried ( I really did) to get back on my reading track”more

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Helping the Help

By now we would have had a president – elect/governor -elect/whatever – elect, all things being equal. But no, we had to go and postpone the elections by six weeks (starting February 14) because of Boko Haram. With the security agencies stating they’d defeat the insurgent within that period. I’d like to optimistic about their claim but is it really possible to achieve that? Maybe. Already some good news of the security agencies winning the war are trickling. They’ve reclaimed some of the towns taken over by Boko Haram and have also killed some of their members. Then again, maybe not. Shekarau, the head of BH, declared in a new video recently that they’d disrupt the elections on March 28 and April 11 while children suicide – bombers are doing their thing in every public place they find. So unless the insurgents are totally destroyed, wiped out, chances are their reign of terror would continue unabated and even more at the end of six weeks. God help us in this country! To totally defeat BH. To conduct credible and successful elections. And to experience some semblance of peace after both events. Amen. In my last post, I mentioned once having a cleaner who came only on Saturdays. She didn’t last more than six months. Why? I couldn’t rely on her and she came in only once a week! In addition, I was distracting her from her earthly journey towards heaven which was invariably tied to her unreliability. How? I’ll let you know in a bit. When I was in search of a cleaner, I knew I would, most likely, be spared 75% of the drama that came with domestic helps. Even then, I was still wary. The horror stories were still…horror enough to question my decision and put me on my every guard should I go ahead with it. I wondered what she’d bring along with her — her attitude, her beliefs, her habits, her dress sense. Nevertheless, I put the word out to friends and family. I’d never confirm or deny my doubts if I didn’t make an attempt,”more

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A conversation I might never have

Last week I overheard my younger sister, Pru, on a telephone call. She is in town for a while and staying with us. ‘Good evening. How are you?’ … ‘What’s your name?’ … ‘Ok. Have you done this work before?’ … ‘How old were the children?’ … ‘Ok, Abigail. As you can see my children are younger, so you have to be patient with them. Once they get used to you, it will, hopefully, become easier to take of and manage them. You can always ask the other girls in the house for help until you find your feet. Ok? All right. I’ll speak to you tomorrow. Goodnight.’ Pru is in town without her children. She just finished talking to the new domestic help hired to take care of her children with her husband and mother – in- law closely monitoring. She’d call in often to check with them and the help for updates. I suppose she’d have preferred to interview the new hire face –to – face as well as approve of her but…here she is hoping this five – minute cell phone conversation and subsequent ones will prove that the hire was a good one and give her the peace she needs concerning the well-being of her children. What heartache! I tried hiring a help a few times, a few years ago. T was still less than a year old and my mum was leaving us after helping out and, I was ready to go back to work. A former boss made the necessary contacts and a 20 – something year old showed up at my doorstep, bags in hand. I never got to see her but my mum and my beau did. They interviewed her. My mum thought she was ok. My beau hedged and hawed. There she went, never to be heard of by us again. We settled for crèche – care for T and I juggled mother, wife and career somehow.  I did, however, get a cleaner who came in on Saturdays only. She lasted for about six months. Besides cleaning the house, she was”more

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One down, eleven more to grow

I got this message from one of my gal pals, Muimui, yesterday: Hope it’s been a jolly Jan 2015. This is just to wish you a happy weekend! From our family to yours. A refreshing change from the ‘Happy New Month’ crap that makes the rounds every time another month rolls in. I told her this much when we saw each other in the evening and it turns out she can’t stand the ‘happy new month’ greeting either. Peas of a pod. Any surprise why we’re besties? So it’s February 1. A new month. The longest month has come to an end. FINALLY. Tired of how January simply refused to end, someone called it the 65th month of the year. I totally agreed with him. It just kept on dragging for days… Not anymore. Welcome February. Hello Valentine. What’s up, elections? Here in Nigeria this month, we’ll be mixing loving and voting on the same day. Subtly telling one another to let love reign and not wage war so that the process of elections (especially during and after) can take occur peacefully. Seriously??? Eh…let’s hope it works. Today, I’m reflecting on the month just gone by. Thanks to Muimui’s message which inspired the idea, I’ll be doing that at the beginning of every month as regards my resolve in 2015. Most days in January, I asked myself: Did I live today well? Did I laugh often? Am I living joyfully, thankfully, prayerfully, in more colour?  Salsexercise, slow down and not multitask? Turning all my resolutions into prodding, slightly uncomfortable queries. Sometimes, I did. Sometimes, I didn’t. Some days, I didn’t even read the resolutions which are saved on my cell for easy access but I never forgot to repeat the inquisition the very next day. Normally, I’d wait until the half year mark before I did a self – assessment of my performance and, most often than not, find myself coming woefully short of my grand expectations. Not this time. Not this year. I read somewhere that it’s the months between March  and August that test our abilities to stick”more

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This sugar is made of salt

In the last decade or so, my food life has altered considerably, and I’m always reminded of that fact every time I visit my mum’s. Last month’s visit was no different. Her vegetable sauce is devoid of the tomato taste I’m now accustomed to in efo riro. My palate waits for the fish and tomato flavour in her fried beans dish when I know there won’t be any because I didn’t cook it. White rice and red stew feature constantly any time rice is the food of choice while that combo begs for a place in my kitchen most of the time. Eggs are always a mix of cream and red (pepper & tomatoes) colours; mine are cream, white and green (green pepper) with the taste of paprika, garlic and Knorr seasoning. All of these (and other meals, habits of hers) I can stand, it’s the cubed – sugar she still uses as a sweetener that I am yet to come to terms with. After all these years. I grew up with them and still see them every time at her house. She doesn’t seem to trust its easily–dissolving sister – the granulated kind. Maybe because there is a tendency to take more than is needed or that a relative jokingly commented about it being mixed with other substances to reduce its potency and increase its quantity or it’s just her genuine love for that particular kind and the brand that makes it. St. Louis should begin to give her a percentage of its profits if that’s the case. Whatever her reasons, we’re stuck with them whenever we are in her house, and every time I use them to sweeten anything, I’m convinced that I made the right choice using the granulated kind. The first time a nephew of mine saw them, he yelled: ‘Marshmallow!’ bringing a smile to my face and his mum’s. But nothing prepared me for Chairman’s reaction when he saw them (and realized what they were) for the first time too last year. His excitement was infectious; his sister caught on too. Perhaps to humour him”more

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