Thursday, September 3, 2020

Two Reasons Why People Avoid You

Have you ever wondered why people avoid you like the plague? It may not be because you did something horribly wrong. There are a multiplicity of reasons why people would want to avoid you, but I deemed it wise to give only two reasons so the article isn't too long.

1. Your personal hygiene can make or break you - if you don't know okhow to take care of yourself, don't be surprised when people avoid you. A lot of people are easily put off by bad smell. Some people have very poor oral hygiene that their mouths always give off an offensive odour. You need to learn to take care of your mouth so you don't torture people with your bad breath. It's surprising that some people don't know that they should clean their tongues when they brush their teeth. It's even more surprising that a lot of people don't know that they should brush their teeth twice per day: after breakfast in the morning and before going to bed. The plaque that forms on your teeth also forms on your tongue. The whitish stuff that forms on your tongue is what is responsible for bad breath. You can use a tongue cleaner to get rid of plaque on the tongue or a tongue brush or a very good brush. Brush your tongue very well until the gunk comes out.

Also, the toothpaste you use matters. I used to use an Oral-B Pro Health toothpaste, but I upgraded to Longrich toothpaste. The former is 600 naira, while the latter goes for 1800 naira. Use any of these toothpaste for the freshest breath, and people will flock around you.

2. Don't expect people to flock around you if you are not successful. Success is the magnetic force that pulls people to you. Have you ever seen a rich person who doesn't have friends? The answer is a resounding no. Make yourself the sort of person that people would want to be identified with.  Everyday I see how people fawn over DJ Cuppy on social media. She trended on social media just because she swore allegiance to a different club when her club experienced a string of defeats. The reason for her popularity isn't far-fetched - she has a billionaire dad and she has carved a niche for herself as a DJ. Now, ask yourself this question, " Who would care if I stopped supporting Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, etc?" The truth is, nobody would care because you are not important in the scheme of things.

Make yourself relevant. You don't even have to be rich to be relevant. Strive for excellence and you will enter the hall of fame. Wole Soyinka isn't rich, but his words carry a lot of weight. This is because he excelled in his chosen profession and won the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature. Be successful in what you do and people will gravitate towards you.

Image credit: wikihow

Monday, August 24, 2020

Poem by Meka Wrights, title 'Hope'

Darkness hovers like a blanket. Insecurities lace my sky like the scars lace my skin.

I am a shadow of my own body. A stranger even to my own soul.

I lay amongst demons I have birthed. Demons that control my mind 
Whispering mockery.

My low self esteem keeps me company, constantly reminding me of how much of a mediocre I must be.

But I still eagerly seek the tiniest star in a sky full of dark clouds

I await a lamp to my path to guide my soul through this darkest nights.

Even on bleak nights I hope that the stars will shine, to lead me home

Where is the light? I'm at the end of the tunnel? The stars fought to hide themselves under the clouds.

I still try to mend this broken pieces, so that when the light comes in, it comes in proudly.

And once again, life would be beautiful.

I gathered together the lemon life threw at me and made a lemon tea, forced to looked back at the same light that shines in me....

—Meka Wrights

Monday, August 10, 2020

Mass Protest in Belarus ( A Lesson for Nigerians)

Protests have erupted in Belarus, the only country in Europe under a dictatorship. The protests were occasioned by the outcome of the recent presidential election that pitted the incumbent against the wife of the former presidential candidate.

Following announcement that President Aleksander Lukashenko had won a fourth term in office, protesters thronged the streets to denounce the results and call for the president's resignation. Scores of protesters have been arrested, but the opposition is undeterred.

When people know their rights and yearn for freedom, they go all out to defend it. Some people cherish their freedom so much so that they are willing to put their lives at risk to defend it. This is the opposite of Nigerians, unarguably the most oppressed people on earth, do.

Nigeria has the hallmarks of a failed state. The economy is in recession, bandits and Islamic terrorists have a field day maiming, looting and killing, taxes are being raised here and there in a time when it's ill-advised to do so. 

The Nigerian government has inflicted untold hardship on the people, but so far, it has gotten away with it. Other government around the world are financially propping up businesses to keep them afloat, but the opposite is true in Nigeria. The government is burdening businesses and households with taxes at a time when tax relief is needed.

What Nigerians endure would cause massive crisis in other countries. The people are docile and apolitical and they let their government get away with incompetence and mind-blowing corruption.

What is happening in Belarus should serve as a wake up call to Nigerians. The excesses of the government can only be curbed if the people know their rights and forcefully demand they are not trampled on. Until the people take to the streets in protest, the exploitation, humiliation and suffering they endure will only continue to exacerbate.

A nation of 200 million people should live up to its defacto name as the 'giant of Africa" and be a beacon of hope to other African countries. The Nigerian people must borrow a leaf from Belarusians and protest until concrete changes are made. The status quo that benefits a select few must stop. And it won't stop until the people make their voice heard and demand it stops.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Real Issue is in the Secret

"People are more what they hide than what they show."
Before you proceed, to fully enjoy this piece, kindly read up on the other series as they are foundational to this write-up.

Let's begin.

The night before was exciting and fun for him.
He was the talented young guitarist for his band & they were about to record their first debut album.
It was like a dream come true for the young man in the year 1983.

Did I mention that he contributed heavily to the wordings of the song to be released. You could say that he was truly LIVING.

The next morning, Dave Mustaine (that young man), considered to be one of the most brilliant and influential musicians in the history of heavy metal music, was told to leave the group as his services are no longer needed. Quite sure, his group members had to wake him up(see as his sleep was disturbed ) to deliver that news, As he had to also get on the bus leaving to his home place in the next one hour.
No reason. No warning. No discussions whatsoever!

Story has changed after he promised himself that he must be very successful, even more than his previous group "Metallica." He was that charged for success.
That his name MUST be heard over the radio, television & every media outlet. Then he went on to establish his band "Magadeth" & had since then sold over 25 million albums, And tour the world many times over. With his new group, won't you admit that he truly succeeded?

Having achieved all this despite the setback and disappointment initially, he won at last! Yet, in an interview in 2003, he admitted that he still considered himself a failure. This was how he puts it in another interview, "The thing that really upset me was that they never gave me a warning & I never got a second chance." He says. "It was just, 'Hey man, you are out'. See ya later." I respect his drive to be well known.
You might be saying " But he accomplished a whole lot & yet he's feeling like he lost. How ridiculous! " However this is the reality and a good thing to be aware of, especially at that time. My experience over the years has made me understand that, "Our real struggles are not the ones in the open, but in the secret" Reason being that they are the foundation.
The building block of what he had become was hinged on " I needed to be better than them "

Despite all he accomplished, he didn't feel that way.
I know that it can be quite frustrating and shocking receiving that news or something in that manner.
For you, The issue might have occurred years back.
Maybe it is one that you devoted a whole lot to, and just can't let it go. You could even have the mindset that "it is too late." But I tell you, there's no time to deal with it than now, simplybecause you are indicating that unconscious interest to LIVE,
And life is urging you too.

This is that period we bring the issue to surface, no longer running or thinking it doesn't matter, or it would all go away like a bird and return no more.
After being aware of it, we begin to ask questions like, "Why am I angry at this person/issue?" "Why am I holding onto this person even when he/she is damaging my life & it is visible?" "Why do I feel this way & tormented by it as a result?" Before answering,
when it comes to situations as these, ACCEPTANCE becomes what we need to embrace to move forward.
Which I have discussed in the previous series and would delve further in the next one.

Let me end with this quote, "Stop fighting  your 'demons' funny enough, they have no intention of winning, they are rather interested in pointing you to that issue you neglected or are trying to cover up."
Remain shameless in order to be free. You are evolving.

The Power of Reading

In the long run, it's not really the number of books you read that matters, but the number of books that you reread. (Read that again)

What are you trying to say? You may want to ask.
Can you just try to cast your mind back to a movie you have watched or a book you have read just once? How much of its details do you remember? Most likely very little right?

Now do the same for a movie you have watched or a book you have read at least two times and more. You probably can give more details without stress isn't it? Many things just STAYED WITH YOU...

What is the difference between the two scenarios?


Repetition aids learning and assimilation.
"Reading a book really is better the second time round - and can even offer mental health benefits" - Rob Waugh
Rob continues thus: The first time people read or watch through, they are focused on events and stories. The second time through, the repeated experience reignites the emotions caused by the book or film and allows people to savor those emotions at leisure.

Did you catch the drift?

Facts, figures, details, and so on embedded in a book or material of information sinks in easier and faster with repetition.

So rather than obsess over getting new information (of course it is good to seek more knowledge), go back to soak in more of the ones you have once contacted. That way, you position yourself better to be a "doer" rather than just been a "hearer".

Let me end with this:
“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God” (Psalms 62:11).
How can a man hear twice what was spoken once? I am sure you know the answer by now.
Have a fulfilling week.

By Tony Echem

Cultures Where Farting is Acceptable and Encouraged

There are certain cultural practices peculiar to every tribe that would elicit a puzzled reaction from an outsider. 

For instance, in Tiv culture, it is customary for a husband to let his wife spend a night with his male guest. I don't know if this culture is still practiced. In certain parts of Yoruba land, if someone farts, it is akin to them hurting themselves and if it is done in public, those around are supposed to console the farter ( I coined this word). Odd, right? An incident happened some years back that still leaves me wondering if an outsider would find certain cultural practices of my tribe repulsive.

When I was 10-years old, my friend, Abu, and I went to visit a mutual friend, Jamiu. The visit was occasioned by a football match we had agreed  to play with kids from the next block. Jamiu, our star player, was conspicuously absent so our captain delegated two of us to go and fetch him.

We went to Jamiu's house and met them having lunch, Amala and stew made with chinge( termite). That was their delicacy so we weren't surprised at the combo. They offered us food but we declined. We stated our mission and since he was almost done with his food, he told us to wait.

All of a sudden, we heard a thunderous sound. The walls vibrated and I can swear I felt an earth  tremor. Guess where the sound emanated from? It came from Jamiu's dad! The man unashamedly farted! No sooner had he farted than the entire family started saying, "Pele, Sir! Pele, Sir! Pele Sir! Pele, Sir!" In the Yoruba language "Pele" means "Sorry".

An overpowering stench permeated the room. I was nauseous and I felt choked. It was as if I was in a gas chamber. While I was disgusted and beside myself with rage, Abu's reaction was that of confusion, amusement and disbelief. He started to giggle. When I saw him giggling, my disgust gave way to amusement and I almost burst into laughter but I managed to stifle it.

Mama Jamiu looked at us angrily and said," Won't you say sorry? Don't you have home training?" We said sorry to Baba Jamiu multiple times in quick succession. In fact, Abu and I tried to outdo each other in saying sorry, just to prove that we had home training.

The smell that enveloped the room was suffocating. Just imagine the stench caused by the putrid smell of a carcass, the pungent smell of rotten eggs and stew made with termite. That was how bad the odour was and a miasma hung in the room until we left. If there were an infant in the room, I have no doubt that it would have choked to death.

In their culture, breaking wind, another word for farting, is seen as perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. In another culture, it is mortifying and considered an antisocial behaviour.

Are there cultural practices peculiar to your tribe that you think an outsider would frown upon? Have your say in the comment section.

Covid-Organics: Madagascar's Remedy for COVID-19

As scientists in advanced countries race to invent vaccines and medicines to tackle the novel coronavirus, the highly commendable research efforts of scientists in the African nation of Madagascar has gone unnoticed by the international community.

When the Malagasy president, Andry Rajoelina, announced the invention of Covid-Organics, a blend of herbs for treating Covid-19, made by a group of Malagasy scientists, the news was greeted with skepticism because its efficacy had not been proven. But why hasn’t the so-called advanced countries offered to test the herbal remedy to determine its effectiveness as a potential treatment for Covid-19? Could it be an attempt to belittle Africa’s contribution in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic?

Covid-Organics is a herbal tonic made by scientists at the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, and it is purported to have curative and preventive properties, but scientists and governments around the world have ignored its potential as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

In a world where frantic efforts are being made to flatten the curve of the pandemic and develop a potent vaccine or medicine, one would expect that there would be excitement about this Malagasy innovation and its potential as a treatment for Covid-19. The herbal remedy is made from a plant called Artemisia that is popularly used as a prophylactic against malaria. What makes this herbal solution special is that, of all the global efforts being made to find a cure or treatment for covid-19, it is the only African-led invention that is a direct result of research carried out by African scientists, but so far, it hasn’t received the kind of publicity that was generated when chloroquine or hydroxychlorine was touted as a possible treatment for covid-19. I put it down to racism and the western propagated notion that Africa is a continent where nothing good but hunger, famine, disease, war and chaos emanate from.

If chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, is championed as a potential treatment for covid-19, I see no reason why covid-Organics that is derived from a plant with prophylactic properties against malaria cannot be considered as a potential treatment. It is not surprising that western countries have refused to acknowledge the giant strides made by African scientists in the fight against covid-19. However, what is surprising is the reluctance of other African countries to appreciate the fact that this invention puts Africa on a pedestal. Of all the 54 African countries, only a handful, Nigeria, Tanzania, Comoros, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Chad and Equatorial Guinea have asked for and received supplies of Covid-Organics. It is understandable that a lot of countries have reservations about using a herbal remedy that hasn’t been clinically tested and certified safe for use by international standard.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a veiled criticism of Covid-Organics when it a warned that people should refrain from using drugs that haven’t been clinically tested. The warning could be the underlying reason why a lot of African countries are unwilling to import the herbal tonic from Madagascar. But would there have been such skepticism about the efficacy of Covid-Organics if it had originated from the west? Absolutely not! It’s sad that Madagascar is the only African country that has sought to provide a solution to a global problem. This could be the reason why other countries aren’t taking this invention seriously. The African continent is not seen as a place where solutions emanate from. To the outside world, we are a continent bedeviled by a multiplicity of problems, ranging from abject poverty to disease and war, and as such, it is hard for the world to picture the African continent as a center of scientific innovation. It’s hard for the world to picture Africans as a people that are brilliant, innovative and creative. It’s hard for the world to consider an African innovation as good enough and worthy of recognition. We need to change this narrative. But as long as our continent remains poor and largely underdeveloped, we will not be taken seriously. T

Covid-Organics will not gain worldwide acceptance anytime soon even if its efficacy as a treatment for Covid-19 is established for the following reasons: 1. It all boils down to racism. It will be an affront to imperialists and racists in the West and elsewhere that a pandemic struck the world and African scientists came to the rescue. A potent herbal made by Africans defeats the narrative that Africans are not scientific geniuses. Their goal is to maintain this narrative at all cost even if it means denying countries ravaged by Covid-19 pandemic a herbal solution that has the potential to save lives. As far as they are concerned, Africa must be denied an opportunity to bask in the glory of its invention. 2. If Covid-Organics is proven to be an effective remedy against covid-19, it would augur well for the scientists who made it, the Malagasy government and Africa as a whole. It would be patented and billions could be made from its sale. This will not sit well with pharmaceutical companies around the world who are rushing to develop a vaccine or a medicine to treat covid-19 so they can cash in.

There is a rumour that coronavirus was created in the lab and purposely spread so that a vaccine that has already been created would be sold and billions of dollars would be made. Of course, this rumour remains unsubstantiated, but it’s enough reason to raise eyebrows as to why the west is reluctant to consider covid-Organics worthy of a clinical trial. 3. Accepting that Covid-Organics has any merit puts an end to the wrongly held notion that only Caucasians and Asians have a monopoly of scientific knowledge. A lot of black believe that they are not as smart as white people or Asians. As painful as this is, it is a deep-seated belief amongst some black people. Some of my friends have told me how the world would have been devoid of modern technology and civilization if there weren’t white people. There are lots of black people who still believe that the exploitation and colonization of Africa and the enslavement of its people was a good cause. They argue that Africa was a continent inhabited by cannibals, and that human sacrifice was the norm until Europeans arrived and brought civilization and redemption. This narrative deliberately seeks to counter the fact that Africa had a vibrant civilization and that one of the earliest universities in the world is situated in Timbuktu, an ancient city in Mali.

Covid-Organics hasn’t gain traction because the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t certified it fit for use. When we lack the capability to carry out clinical tests of medicines and herbs we produce, we put ourselves at the mercy of people who always seek to rubbish our scientific breakthroughs just to frustrate us and render our efforts useless. America shouldn’t have the final say on the efficacy of covid-Organics. Even though there are international bodies that are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that food and drugs meant for public consumption meet the required standard, such bodies cannot be trusted because they are prejudiced against African scientists and inventors.

In May, South Africa, the most industrialized country in the African continent, offered to help Madagascar test and analyse samples of Covid-Organics. Nothing has been heard from both countries. It would be interesting to know if South Africa carried out a test and what the outcome was. If South African researchers certify the herbal remedy as safe for use, it would shine the spotlight on Madagascar and the wonderful Malagasy scientists who invented it. Nations that have refused to buy the Artemisia-based Covid-Organics would have no choice but to reappraise their stance and consider carrying out their own tests and analysis. The African Union (AU) should be playing a big role in the fight against covid-19 and any research geared towards the discovery of a vaccine or drug, but unfortunately, the body isn’t living up to its expectations. I expected the body to put in a good word for Madagascar and encourage other nations to carry out their own independent tests and analysis of Covid-Organics to ascertain its efficacy. It’s not good that other countries in Africa, especially North African countries, are not even talking about the potential of the Malagasy herbal remedy.

Africa needs to have its own broadcaster with global reach. The reason why Covid-Organics isn’t getting the publicity it deserves is because all the international broadcasters are owned by countries where racism is deeply ingrained and a negative portrayal of Africa is the order of the day. They are not fair enough to give an accurate depiction of Africa without the usual stereotype, and this is why there is very little news out there about Covid-Organics. Talking about Covid-Organics would give some measure of glory to Africa and this doesn’t align with their agenda. That is why we need to tell our story or they’ll tell it for us. An African adage goes: until the lions have their own historians, the history of hunt will be will always glorify the hunter.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

How the Nigerian Government is Cashing Out in this Pandemic

COVID-19 pandemic is having ripple effect all over the world. Economies have been thrown into recession, jobs have been lost, dreams have been shattered, and a lot of people have been impoverished as a result.

Governments around the world are thinking of ways to help their indigent citizens cushion the effect of the ensuing financial crisis, but the Nigeria government is doing the opposite.

In the midst of a global health crisis, Nigerian legislators have received sleek, bullet proof cars they bought for themselves with tax payers' money. The cars were all imported and each is worth tens of millions of naira. There was public outcry when news emerged that lawmakers earmarked more than a billion naira for the procurement of cars for themselves. People argued that a country that is cash strapped shouldn't waste billions importing cars when local alternatives should be patronized. Public outcry wasn't enough to dissuade the senators, as they went ahead to import the cars.

Foreign governments and NGOs have given billions of dollars to the Nigerian government in aid, but the money is unaccounted for. The government has not used the money for the intended purposes as palliatives, and cash haven't been distributed to those in dire need.

People are struggling to get by and the Nigerian government is compounding their struggles by implementing policies that are unfavorable. As if refusing to help the poor isn't bad enough, the government has made stamp duties compulsory for almost all business transactions. 

Is this the appropriate time to burden the people with stamp duties? Why is the Nigerian government bent on making life difficult for the average Nigerian? Shouldn't the governments be providing palliatives like their counterparts are doing abroad? Why are the Nigerian people so docile and afraid to confront the political class?

Until these questions are answered, and the masses demand that the status quo needs to change, I don't see any change in the foreseeable future, and the people will continue to suffer.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Should parents allow their older children to discipline the younger ones?

Zara, a beautiful lady in a mid 30s, has a problem with her left eye, so she visits her optometrist every month to have it checked. The doctor has told her that she will lose sight on her left eye eventually. 

After trying everything humanly possible to reverse the deterioration of her sight with no avail, she has resigned herself to fate. She wasn’t born with a failing eyesight though, her elder brother, whilst beating her up for an alleged wrong she committed, landed a blow on her left eye, and that was when her problem started.
I grew up in a family where my elder brother had the leeway to discipline us, and he took it too far. He would hit us for failing to take our bath on time, for watching television when we should be reading our books, for eating our meals too slowly, for not waking up early for morning devotion; for playing with our friends for too long, dirtying our clothes etc. in cases where verbal warnings would have sufficed, he would rather hit us. We grew up being afraid of him and that fear soon morphed into a deep-seated hatred. He literally tortured us for years, and he derived pleasure doing so. The end result was that as we grew older, the fear we had for him gave way to resentment.
Sometimes, I blame my parents for all the ill-treatment our elder brother meted to us when we were little. The torture we suffered wouldn’t have happened without their express permission. I blame my mother especially because she often told my elder brother to discipline us. She egged him on and turned a blind eye to the numerous beatings. My father, in all honesty, tried to rein in my brother’s tyrannical disposition towards us, but the fact that  hewasn’t always around meant a lot of abuses were swept under the rug and we were afraid to report such abuses for fear of reprisals.
Most kids in Nigeria and other African countries have scars that remind them of the abuses they suffered as children from their older siblings or parents or both. Unlike the west, spanking hasn’t been outlawed in Africa and this has given rise to situations where children are brutalized and tortured by those who should cater for them, guide and protect them.
I have seen horror stories of children disfigured by a parent or a sibling in the name of discipline. The absence of strong laws in Africa, protecting the rights of children makes such abuse commonplace.
If parents shouldn’t allow their older children discipline the younger ones, what should happen in the event that the younger ones misbehave when their parents are not around?  First of all, it’s perfectly ok for parents to delegate authority to their older children when they are not around. This would ensure some orderliness. Parents should also tell their older children the type of punishment that should be administered if the younger ones misbehave, and such punishment shouldn’t involve spanking or any form of corporal punishment. This would go a long way to ensure that boundaries are not crossed.
Were your older siblings allowed to punish you when you were little? How did it affect your relationship with them in later years? As an older sibling, did you punish your younger ones, if yes, do you think they are/were resentful of you?

Was Kanye West Right about Harriet Tubman?

Kanye’s comments stating that African-American abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman, didn’t help free black slaves because he alleged that she only freed black slaves, so she could make make them work for other white people, drew criticisms from different quarters, as well as, concern for his mental health.

Who was Harriet Tubman? And how true is Kanye’s allegations?
Harriet Tubman was born circa March 1822 to enslaved parents owned by Mary Pattison ( and later her son Edward). Harriet’s parents married around 1808 and the couple had nine children together. Harriet’s mother, Rit, stuggled to keep the family together, but her efforts proved abortive when Edward Brodesss sold three of her daughters ( Linah, Mariah Ritty and Soph), separating them from the family forever.

When Harriet was five or six years old, she was hired out as nursemaid to a woman named “Miss Susan”. She was ordered to care for Miss Susan's baby and rock its cradle as it slept. When it woke up and cried, she was whipped.  As a child, Harriet worked other jobs, and even after she contracted measles, she was made to work until she became so ill that she was sent back to her mother, who nursed her back to health.
As an adolescent, Harriet suffered an head injury when she was struck by a two-pound metal that was directed at an enslaved person who was attempting to flee. She bled and was unconscious, but was unattended to for two days.
Harriet recuperated from her injury, but started experiencing visions and vivid dreams which she considered revelations from God. Although Harriet was illiterate, her mother toldhtold Bible stories and she became very religious. She rejected the New Testament that admonished slaves to obey their masters and found guidance in the Old Testament.
Around 1844, Harriet married a free Black man named John Tubman. Since the mother’s status dictated that of the children, any children born to the couple would be slaves. It's not known if this was the reason why Harriet didn't try to have a child of her own.
Harriet’s value as a slave was greatly diminished when she became ill in 1849. Angry at Edward Brodress for trying to sell her, she began to pray for him to change his ways, and when he didn’t change, she prayed for his death and he died.  In order to avoid being sold after Edward’s death, Harriet and her brothers, Ben and Henry, escaped from slavery on September 17, 1849.
Harriet would use the Underground Railroad, a well-organized system composed of free and enslaves blacks, white abolitionists and other activists, to free her family members and other slaves. Harriet was said to carry a revolver that she used to protect herself and escaped slaves, as well as, threaten other slaves, who decided to go back to slavery because they thought the road to freedom was perilous.
When Civil War broke out in 1861, Harriet served with the Union army in various capacity. First, as a nurse, and later as an infantry. After the war, she worked different jobs to support her aged parents. She continued her philanthropic works and was heavily involved in the fight for woman’s suffrage.
Harriet has been immortalized in artistic portrayals, literature, film and television, monuments and memorials and visual arts. On April 20, 2016, then US Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, announced plans to add a portrait of Harriet  to the front of the twenty-dollar bill, but the plan was put on hold by Steven Mnuchin, Jack Lew’s successor.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Friday, November 22, 2019

To What extent are stereotypes true?

When I was a kid, there were certain stereotypes we were brainwashed to accept as truth. For example, kids who wear prescription glasses are often stereotyped as intelligent, well-behaved, creative and studious. I grew up believing this because Amaka, my primary school classmate, wore glasses and she was our teacher's favourite because she was brainy.

There are lots of stereotypes about people, tribes and countries which begs the question, to what extent are stereotypes true? I have heard men tell their sons not to marry from certain tribes because women from such tribes are promiscuous and violent. It is often said that Igbo men take good care of their wives. This is the antithesis of what Zaar men are said to do.

In other countries, Nigerians are stereotyped as dubious, corruptible and loud, which is definitely not true but I guess this conclusion was reached because of what a person or some people observed amongst the few Nigerians they have interacted with. Nigerians are generally animated people. They tend to be loud when they are excited and they gesticulate as they speak. It's easy for anyone to misconstrue this.

Here in Nigeria, almost every tribe has a stereotype. Let me start from the  major tribes: the yorubas are considered loud, treacherous, deceitful, gossipy and foul-mouthed but scholarly. Igbo people are regarded as parsimonious, miserly and overly ambitious. It is believed that if a shady deal would fetch money, an Igbo person won't mind being dishonest. To them, the end justifies the means. Hausa women are said to be virtuous and submissive and their men are thought to be fanatical, protective, domineering and good in bed.

Marghi women are said to make loving and dutiful wives but they have a jealous and vindictive streak. They won't hesitate to send an errant husband six feet below the ground. Idoma women are said to be faithful in marriage: they stay true to their spouses in sickness or health, whether rich or poor.

Ijaw people are said to love alcohol but I'v met an Ijaw teetotaler. Igbira people are said to be aggressive, argumentative and rude. Calabar women are said to have culinary skills and love making skills. I have not sampled a Calabar woman before so I wouldn't know if this stereotype is true.

I hate to admit it but some of these stereotypes are partially true. I have met someone who is gossipy, treacherous and loud but he's not Yoruba. The world's greatest miser is not Igbo, but someone from my tribe. My mum makes palatable meals and she is not from Calabar. I have met men who are not Igbos but they take care of their wives. I know an Idoma lady who can't keep a man because she is promiscuous. Stereotypes start when a lot of people from a certain tribe exhibit a certain behaviour over a long period of time that it would start to be assumed that such a behaviour is characteristic of that tribe, but in most cases, it's not always true.

By Darius Aminu

Would you remain faithful to an infertile or sterile spouse?

Infertility or the inability to conceive is often cited in divorce cases as the sole reason or one of  the reasons why a union has to end. In Africa where a man has to have children who would bear his name when he eventually passes on, infertility can result in divorce. Having only female children may result in divorce too because the average African man needs a male child to bear his name.

In Nigeria and other parts of Africa where infertility is grounds for divorce, some families won't let their male child get married to a woman until she takes in. This is done to ascertain the fertility of a prospective wife.

Other couples, especially those from a strong religious backgrounds where premarital sex is frowned upon, only run fertility tests to determine if they'll be able to conceive and once they get the greenlight, marriage preparations begin.

There are times when a fertility test is done, the result will be positive, but after marriage,the couple won't be able to bear children. Situations like these abound and in most cases I have seen, it has led to the split of the marriage.

I recently watched Emmanuel TV where a man from Plateau state, Nigeria, gave a miraculous testimony about how God healed him from infertility and he wife was able to conceive. According to him, their visits to different fertility clinics in Nigeria and different countries in Africa for solutions were abortive and when they finally resorted to do an artificial insemination, it was discovered that the man had no sperm cells. Having dead cells is better than having no cells at all because dead cells can be revived but having no cells is a hopeless case that medical science cannot remedy.

For those who might not know, artificial insemination is the process where semen is taken from the man and is used to artificially fertilized a woman's eggs and then the fertilized egg is inserted into the woman so it can grow. This is what the couple resorted to but the unfortunate discovery that the man had no cells at all put paid to their plans. When they exhausted all possibilities to no avail, they decided to visit Prophet T.B Joshua's church, the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

The man had been previously married but his first wife left him because he was not able to get her pregnant. She got married to another man and they had children.

Prior to his testimony, I had never heard that a woman left her husband because he couldn't get her pregnant. It was always the other way round: the man leaves the woman or the woman gets thrown out of the house. This is what usually obtains in different parts of Africa. Attitudes are changing but the woman is still apportioned blames for her inability to conceive even if it's the man's fault. The woman is also wrongly assumed to be responsible for determining the sex of a baby when it's actually the man who has the X and Y-chromosomes that determine the sex of the baby, depending on which one fertilizes the female egg, which is always an X-chromosome. A lot of Nigerians are oblivious of this fact and consequently, a lot of women get thrown out of their matrimonial homes because of their inability to bear male children for their husbands.

After they were prayed for, the man miraculously received his healing and his wife conceived that same month. Before this, the woman had resisted advice from friends and relatives to desert her husband and find another man who would get her pregnant. She remained faithful, stood her ground and stuck with her husband.

Watching the man testify how the wife stayed true to him made me realize that true love exists and that when someone loves you, they will will stick with you through thick and thin and weather the storms of life with you.

Can you stay true to a spouse who is infertile or sterile?

By Darius Aminu

Saturday, November 16, 2019

What My Dad Encouraged My Brother to Do to a Bully Would Shock You

By Darius Aminu

Do you think kids should be encouraged to stand up for themselves when they are bullied? There will always be a bully who picks on other kids and makes their lives a living hell. Kids,as innocent as they look, can be really mean and I'm putting it mildly. I have seen kids bullied by their peers to the point where they took their own lives. Bullying can come in different forms. It can be name-calling. It can be physical abuse or threats of physical abuse. It can even be online trolling. 

Back in the day in elementary school, I used to bear my grandfather’s name “Dawa” until my classmates bullied me into hating the name. They”d call me “dawadawa” whilst covering their nostrils as if I stank. “Dawadawa” is a northern flavouring made from locust beans and it has an offensive smell. I hated the name so much that I pestered my dad to come to my school and tell my class teacher to take it off the register. I wish I hadn’t done this because I later grew to love the name but it was too late. 

My parents knew I was being bullied at school but they did nothing about it. They only told me to ignore my bullies and that for me, wasn’t enough encouragement. 

My elder brother had his fair share of bullying too while growing up. Our neighbour’s son was the bane of my his life and a thorn in his flesh. He would beat my brother every now and then and my brother would come home crying. My brother literally lived in fear of this kid. They were age mates, of course, but the boy had an athletic build while my brother was skinny. Whenever I saw my brother running like some wild animal, I’d see the kid in hot pursuit. Let me coin one of Pete Edochie’s proverbs, “ Whenever you see a kid running in the day, it’s either he is pursuing something or something is pursuing him. This proverb encapsulated my brother’s life. He was always being chased, as Tom would chase Jerry in the popular cartoon series “ Tom and Jerry” and my father was irritated by it. He felt my brother shouldn’t be chased about like a rat by a boy his own age, so he devised a plan: whenever the kid chased my brother home again, he would throw my brother out and shut the door.

One day, the kid chased my brother home and unluckily for my brother, my father was at home. Suspecting that my brother was being chased again, my dad peeped through the window and saw the kid standing outside. He held my brother by the hand, dragged him to the door and threw him out, then he shut the door. It was like handing a thief over to an angry mob to be lynched. 

They stood face to face staring at each other. My brother was stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. He had two unpleasant choices: summon the courage to fight or be beaten to a pulp. The kid inched forward and pushed my brother and my brother retaliated. The started wrestling and surprisingly, my brother beat the kid mercilessly. That incident marked the beginning of his freedom; freedom from harassment and torture. He faced his worst nightmare and won.

I do not subscribe to my dad's actions and Iwon’t take such a drastic decision if I feel my child is being bullied and I definitely won’t encourage my child to fight unless he/she is cornered and it’s a life or death situation. Would you have handled the situation differently if you were in my dad’s shoes?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Why Are Nigerians Accepting of Their Government's Failure?

By Darius Aminu

Nigeria which prides itself on being the most populous black nation on earth,  has another unpalatable achievement under its belt: it is the capital of the world's poorest. Aside this unenviable record, Nigeria is bedevilled by a multiplicity of challenges - corruption is endemic, ritual killings are daily occurrences, unemployment is at an all-time high, the cost of living is sky-rocketing, fulani herders kill rural community dwellers with impunity, banditry is the order of the day; abductions for ransom is rampant, bad roads cause accidents that result in hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths daily. Accidents that can be averted if a government official who fears God, as Nigerians would say, decides not to help himself to funds earmarked for road construction and maintenance. Nigerians have a million reasons to throng the streets in protest.

Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, has not only reneged on his promise to grow the economy, improve security and overhaul the country's healthcare, he is proudly Nigeria's number one medical tourist to the UK, a damning indictment of his ineptitude. Nigerians tolerate their government's excesses and it is unfathomable. Half of the challenges they face and endure would  cause political turmoil in other countries. Why are Nigerians so accepting and forgiving of their leaders' glaring incompetence? One answer lies in religion.

In a country where there are more places of worship than schools and companies combined, religion is the reason for the docility of Nigerians and the unlikelihood that they would protest against their grossly inept government.

Nigeria's incumbent Muslim president is hero-worshipped in the predominantly Muslim North and most Muslims condone his failures and excuse it even though the country is in dire straits. Buhari's supporters claim sixteen years of misrule by the opposition precipitated the country's decay despite the fact that the  country is going on a downward spiral on Buhari's watch.

Any call for protest will not garner the support of Muslims and if such a protest were to go ahead regardless, it would breed tension and culminate in sectarian violence and political unrest. Likewise,if the incumbent president were a Christian and there were calls for protest against him, Christians would denounce it as an anti-Christian campaign. That's how much Nigerians are blinded by religion. They baulk at demonstrations when the person at the helm of affairs professes their religion.

Judging by precedents, the Nigerian government will not brook any protest and ,most certainly, will not hesitate to use lethal force in the event that one occurs . The government is ruthless and high-handed and Nigerians are acutely aware of this. In 2015, Nigerian soldiers killed hundreds of Shiite protesters in the city of Zaria, Kaduna. In another incident last year, Shiites protesters demanding the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-zazaky, illegally detained by the Nigerian government since 2015, were dispersed with deadly force and casualties were recorded. Despite court rulings that El-zazaky should be freed from detention, the government has blatantly refused to comply. The government's high-handedness and ruthlessness strikes fear into the hearts of Nigerians and dissuades them from demonstrating. The fear Nigerians have for their government is further compounded by the inaction of the international community as regards human rights violations by the Nigerian government. This has emboldened the government and undermined the people's confidence.

Caged by fear, blinded by religion and ignorant of the leverage they have and the power they would wield if they set aside their differences and collectively demand for positive change, Nigerians give their grossly inept leaders a free ride and enable mediocrity and until they awaken to the realization that they can hire and fire their incompetent leaders, their hope for a better country remains a wishful thinking.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Morning Alert - Have a productive day

By Darius Aminu

Morning people!

Waking up every morning comes with a joy that is inexpressible and a heart filled with sheer gratitude. I thank the LORD for waking me up this morning, I don't know about you.

Whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, go on your knees or assume whatever posture your faith permits and give thanks to your God. People die every seconds and many people are lying in their hospital beds gnashing their teeth in pains. Some are lying sick at home because they can't afford medical treatment. You that you are alive and kicking should find a place in your heart to give thanks to God.

It doesn't matter your financial situation. It doesn't matter that you don't know where the next meal is coming from. It shouldn't even matter that you do not see any hope on the horizon. What should matter to you is the gift of life. When you think of the fact that a lot of people were denied this gift and a lot more are about to lose theirs, it should make you appreciative.

Go out this morning and make your day productive. Do whatever it takes, within the bounds of the law, to earn a decent living. Be diligent and consistent in what you do and someday, your hustle will bear fruit. Learn to love unconditionally and give freely but also learn to be selfish sometimes so people don't take advantage of you.

Have a nice day!

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