Saturday, 19 October 2019

Life Embassy



I was thinking this morning...... about life embassy. A close family of mine who was applying for the US visa for the first time was apprehensive when they finally got a date for a visa interview. While the children could not hide their joy at the prospect of visiting Yankee soon, the parents did not know what to expect as the interview date drew closer. The day came, they set out and by mid day we received the call. Disappointment! They were refused the visas. But why? Everyone wondered. This is not the first time they will be travelling out to Europe or the Americas. No need to have a headache waiting for a sensible reason, the US embassy officials owe you none. But why is it that someone with genuine intention to go on holidays will be denied visa while another with no intention of coming back will be granted visa? 

As I sympathise with this family, I remembered my very first experience with these same US Embassy officials many years back. We all had lined up on the rows of seat waiting for one of the three interview counters to free up for the next person in line to step forward. Where we were sitting, we observed a lady (who I would refer to as 'the rejecter') in Counter 1 rejecting almost everyone that came to her, while her male colleague ('the giver') in Counter 3 was granting visa to everyone that came to him. The only problem was that you do not determine what counter you will visit. It is entirely random, depending on the length of time any of the three persons at the counters will spend. I was praying, like I was sure everyone else was, that I should not fall to the lot of 'the rejecter.' Thankfully, I fell to 'the giver' and got my visa, while the person before me fell to 'the rejecter' and got rejected. I have been thinking about what determines whether one falls to the giver or the rejecter? Some will say luck, but I say favour. What I also know is that life is like the US Embassy visa interview. You cannot determine whether you meet a good or bad interviewer.

It starts with our birth. You cannot determine the race, nation or family you will be born into, otherwise you can guess where I will be. Parents are like the interviewers at the embassy counters waiting to take up applicants. The applicant (child) has no say as to the parents they go to. He may fall to a poor parent in a village in Sudan or to the Prince and his wife living in Buckingham Palace in the UK. Wherever he ends up, there he will grow up. Truly, life is like the US embassy visa interview. 

You know how sometimes you had prepared well for the visa interview. You have the right intention and your documents up to date. Yet, you stand before the interviewer and he looks at you and say 'I am sorry, I am denying you the visa.' Meanwhile, a friend of yours that is least qualified for the visa and has only a one-way ticket goes before the counter and gets the visa. Many times in life, you can't explain why, though eminently qualified, you are denied some good things at the time you need them, while someone else that is seemingly less deserving gets it. My friend, do not despair, life is like the US Embassy visa interview. Sometimes there will be no logical reason why you are denied a visa.

Truth is though it may seem that the outcome of your interview is not in your hands, it is expedient that you prepare and be ready for the interviewer. Having done your part, leave the rest to God, because it might just be for your good. Life is like US visa application, where the first sentence in the last paragraph of the rejection letter reads 'Today's decision cannot be appealed.' When a decision is reached on the outcome of your life, there will be no appeal. This much Ecclesiastes 11:3 says 'If the cloud are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.'

Cheerio!

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey 

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Do You Have A Menthol?


I was thinking this morning..... about mentorship. Sitting among the guests at the Grand Award Night for 2019 Nigeria Prize for Science and Literature, I was enjoying the glam and glitz of the night but was wowed by some Nigerians doing exploits in their fields of endeavour. I was particularly thrilled by the 12 years old girl that wrote a beautiful book that made the shortlist for the $100,000 Literature Prize. Who and what inspired them to achieve these great feats? As I listened to the eventual winners make their acceptance speech, I understood their secret. They had mentors. It is trite to say everyone should have a mentor, but new to discover that some people have 'menthols.'

You won't be wrong if at this time you are thinking of the hot balm, Mentholatum. That was the direction of my thought when I saw the picture of a banner put out by the Mainland branch of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) who wrote that they were rejoicing with their 'Leader and Menthol.' Many that saw the advert shook their heads in disappointment because they thought the actual word should be 'Mentor' and not 'Menthol,' but they were wrong. 

Menthol, also called Peppermint camphor, is a waxy substance obtained from the oils of corn mint, peppermint, or other mints. When applied topically to the skin, ingested, or inhaled, menthol produces a cooling sensation. Menthol does not lower the temperature of the body or skin. Instead, it produces a cooling effect by blocking the calcium current along the nerves responsible for detecting temperature.

So, when the NURTW folks said they were rejoicing with their 'Menthol,' they knew what they were saying. While a mentor trains and advises someone particularly a younger colleague to be a better version of himself, a 'Menthol,' on the other hand blocks your ability to use sense, giving one the feeling of being cool with himself. Think about it. An 'Agbero' from the motor park, mobilizes his boys, inflict maximum terror on harmless voters and stuff ballot boxes for his boss. As a reward, he is made a lawmaker or commissioner in a government where competent hands were overlooked. How is that possible? Because he has a 'Menthol' and sense has been suspended. 

A society that encourages 21 morally challenged youths to be cocooned in a house for 99 days and the winner goes home with N60 million worth of prizes (N30 million cash, an SUV and other fantastic prizes) but cannot encourage same organisations to give similar or better prizes for excellence in science and literature is developing 'Menthols' and not Mentors. Sense will be suspended. A people that fights on social media wasting the money they don't have on data and spend a whopping N7.1 billion (higher than the monthly allocation of three Nigeria states) in voting for the 'Pepper Dem Gang' should not be surprised when their children start 'showing them pepper' because these children now have 'Menthols' instead of Mentors.

It is an anomaly for people with 'Menthols' to rule over those with Mentors. The incompetent ones are ruling over the learned. The no-good of the society have become our leaders. But I guess this is not new because Ecclesiastes 10:7 says 'I have seen servants on horses, while princes walk on the ground like servants.' Thank God for Organisations that have continued to support the growth of science and literature, but the question is 'are you bringing up your children to have Mentors or Menthols?'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.



Sunday, 6 October 2019

Relationship is a Currency

Lagos Traffic 
I was thinking this morning..... about relationship. My wife and I were on our way to my son's school for visiting day last Saturday, when suddenly we were frantically waved down by an unknown face by the road side. We wound down to hear the stranger saying we should stop immediately as the engine of our car was almost knocking. It was at this point we heard the strange noise from our car engine, having not noticed the signs on the dashboard. After parking the vehicle, it was obvious we can't continue the journey with it. 'What do we do? Abort the trip? Not an option because our son was waiting to see us? Go back home to pick another car? No, we will lose too much time if we did, because the traffic 'tie wrapper. At this point, I decided to call our regular and trusted taxi man. 'Oga, I dey Osun state o' was his response. Wow! Then it occurred to me that our position was a few metres away from the house of a friend and brother in church. 'Hello, MOG, where are you?' I asked as he picked the call. 'I am just driving out of the house now. Hope no problem?' He asked. 'My car has just broken down in front of your street.' As we spoke, I saw him driving out with his wife sitting in front of the vehicle. Having jointly considered all my options, we agreed that I drive one of their cars while the mechanic handles mine. I suggested that we walk back to his house to pick the saloon car but they both insisted that I took the Toyota Prado they were driving while they walk back home to pick the saloon car. In spite of my reluctance to take the Prado, they convinced me otherwise. As I drove out with my wife in their best car, wondering why they made that sacrifice for us, it dawned on me that relationship is a currency. The value could be worth more than money.


I pondered and wondered as we drove on, the import of what just happened lingered. 'Is relationship really a currency?' I questioned within me. I remembered how recently I had the opportunity of recommending someone for a handsome paying job. No room for multiple CVs, just one person. As I looked at all the CVs in my database, I was confused. Who do I recommend? My eventual decision was made on the basis of relationship. Truly, relationship is a currency, whose value could be more than money. 

Some will argue that you need money to build relationships. Sometimes true, but in the most important relationships in life; that with your spouse, your children or with God, money is least important. Having a rich account of relationship could deliver peace, joy and other dividends that money can hardly give. I am talking about genuine relationship, not Facebook-type friendship. 

I found out that we spend so much time and energy building our financial portfolio. That is great, but how much do we invest in building your relationship portfolio? You can invest in your relationship with your spouse, your children, colleagues or even with God by showing genuine care and being available when needed. A robust investment in relationship will deliver more value than money could ever give. Note that it is not the number of acquaintance you have that matters but those you have a genuine relationship with. No wonder Proverbs 18:24 says 'A man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey


Sunday, 29 September 2019

The Life in Our Years

Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix 

I was thinking this morning.... about the life in our years. From where I sat, I observed the lugubrious look on everyone as they listened to the priest give the homily at the Service of Songs (SOS) of a friend last Wednesday in Port Harcourt. She was only 51 years but had lived a good life. Two days later, being Friday, I was in Lagos to accompany a brother in Church to commit the dear wife to mother earth. She was just 50 years. Unlike in Port Harcourt where I was part of the crowd, here in Lagos, I was assigned the unenviable task of praying for the family at the graveside. It is well! At both occasions, I observed how so many energetic souls among the lot that had gathered to pay their last respect have suddenly been humbled and sobered up by that bitter coffee called death. Like we say in Warri, 'all our katikati fade sharp sharp.' 

In our sobered state, the Priest at the SOS in Port Harcourt, having made little or no effort to get everyone's attention, had said among so many other words 'It is not the years of our life that matters but the life in our years.' The statement may have been lost on others but it got hold of me. I took a deep breathe, bowed my head and pondered on those words for days. Though both ladies had transited in the prime of their lives, anyone close to them can attest that they had a rich vein of life in their years.

Why do we have to be reminded that it is the life in our years that matters most and not the years of our life? Shouldn't we be focusing on how much life we are infusing into the years rather than merely counting the years of our life? Many had prayed and worked for years upon years but have given little attention to actually living and impacting those around them. Borrowing from Airtel advert, the years of our life is good, but the life in our years is great. As I thought about the years of our life and the life in our years, my mind began constructing what eventually turned out to be 'Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix.'

Many are blessed with so many years of their life but did not infuse life in their years. I recall a colleague that had worked so hard, deferring family vacations or any such luxury. His plan was to save up funds until he hit a magic threshold that will make him live a rich life after retirement. Unfortunately, he passed on years before retirement. Truly it is not the years of our life that matters but the life in our years. 

According to Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix, someone that has impacted humanity but die at 50, would have had more life in his years than another that lived just for himself for 100 years. It is the life in our years that counts and not just the years of our life. The life in our years is measured by the impact you are making on your family, friends and humanity. Where do you stand? My prayer for you is according to Proverbs 3:2 'For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Some Mothers Do Have Them

The odd one out
I was thinking this morning... I was chilling with my wife last Sunday evening when I received an unexpected phone call from a senior friend, whom I have not seen in over 20 years. To what do I owe this call? What could be amiss? I wondered. After exchanging warm greetings, he revealed why he called. He was looking for his younger brother, who was my classmate in secondary school. The brother had cut off all ties with the family and gone underground for years. He told me the family was worried about his welfare and wanted to know he was fine. Having assured him that I spoke with his brother about 6 weeks ago, he heaved a sigh of relief, told me about an uncle that had a similar strange behaviour and asked in conclusion 'why do families always have one of such?' At this point, I remembered the popular BBC sitcom of the 70s, shown in Nigeria in the 80s titled 'Some Mothers Do Have Them.'

'Some Mothers Do Have Them' is the story of Frank Spencer, a well-meaning yet accident-prone chap who tries his best - and often fails - to please everyone he encounters. His wife, long-suffering Betty, loves Frank very much and dutifully deals with the constant anxiety his behaviour creates for her. As I listened to my senior friend, I thought of a doctor and professor parent that gave birth to five children. All but one of them were brilliant, coming tops in their chosen course at the university. But one is an NFA (No Future Ambition), refusing to go to school nor learn a trade. How can that be? 'Is this child really mine?' One of the parents imagined. Don't despair, what I know is that 'some mothers do have them.'

The manifestations of these kids, the odd one out, differ from family to family. For one family, it is that stubborn child or the one that refuses to go to school. For another, he is the son with criminal tendencies or the daughter that chose to be a 'runs girl.' Yet for others, it is that sick or physically challenged child. I am referring to that one child of the family that gives you so much headache or heartache, that embarrasses you every so often. Many have wished and prayed that the child is different and compliant like others. Do not despair but be comforted by the fact that His grace is sufficient and by the knowledge that some mothers do have them.

But why are they different from the pack? While some believe that their destinies were corrupted like a computer file, others believe they were factory errors. They say just like a machine programmed to fill up bottles with pre-measured volumes will occasionally fill one bottle halfway, so one in a number of kids born will be an outlier. They call this blip 'Factory error.' Hmm!! I don't believe any human is an error, because the bible says we were fearfully and wonderfully made. But could there be a scientific explanation to this phenomenon? Is there a pattern? How come a parent have four kids, and there is an odd one, while another has ten and all are great? Truly, some mothers do have them.

I know many parents, like long-suffering Betty, are frustrated with these kids, the odd one out and probably asking God why. These children, brothers or sisters of ours are not strange, and it may seem their glory is lost but in reality, they are just different. Show them equal love no matter how tough. If none of your children gives you heartache, thank God. But if one is a prayer point, then know that though Hosea 9:11 says 'As for Ephraim their glory shall fly away like a bird from the birth and from the womb and from the conception.' I pray that their glory shall be restored. Don't despair because some mothers do have them.

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.


Saturday, 14 September 2019

Xenophobia and the Fears Killing Africa


I was thinking this morning..... about Xenophobia and the fear that is killing Africa. Last week Saturday, I needed to buy an item from Game Shop at the mall in my axis of Lagos and was getting ready to drive out when I was reminded that the better part of the mall which also houses Shoprite remains shut. 'How can we be punishing ourselves like this?' I had quipped. 'Our best efforts thus far at decent shopping is at the verge of being killed. Is this reprisal attack on South African firms really hurting South Africans as much as it is hurting Nigerians? I asked in frustration, looking at my young wife. I quickly let it be when my wife gave me a dissenting look, like 'really, is that your response to the savage attack on Nigerians in South Africa?'

But what's really going on? In the last two weeks, xenophobia has been trending on Google, mainstream and social media. News of South Africans attacking foreign nationals in their nation particularly in Johannesburg region has been making headlines. At the last count there were 11 dead, many wounded and millions of dollars lost to looting and burning of the livelihoods of many, including losses from reprisal attacks in Nigeria. While most Nigerians were spitting venom against the South African rascals, many missed the little interesting information coming from the Nigerian response.

First, those that looted and stole from Shoprite in Lagos left the bookshelf untouched. Why would the people focus on looting perishables and ignore the priceless value in books? Then began the musing as I took a deep dive as to the reason why? The fear of books....I would have called it 'bookophobia' but the English man has a word for it, 'Bibliophobia.' This is an unusual phobia of books. Haha!!! I get it, the problem is not xenophobia but bibliophobia. It must be bibliophobia that the South Africans are suffering from. If they had been reading books, they would have discovered the role Nigerians and other Africans played in their independence from apartheid. When a people don't read, they will eventually turn against each other out of ignorance.

Governments of different countries responded to the xenophobia incident in different ways. While Botswana, Zambia and Lesotho immediately issued travel alerts to its citizens, others withdrew their reps from the World Economic Forum (WEF) planned for South Africa. The Federal government of Nigeria also took some steps, but when I read the Daily Trust report that the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised the Federal government to take steps to nationalise all South African companies operating in Nigeria to protest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, I was like wow! Why should he make that suggestion? Nothing came to mind but 'Sophophobia.' Sophophobia is the fear of knowledge or learning. Our leaders must be suffering from Sophophobia, they are not learning otherwise they would have learnt from the experience of Zimbabwe and Mugabe that forcefully nationalised foreign companies. If that was farfetched, they should have learnt from the bungling of the P&ID contract that has resulted in over $9 billion penalty against Nigeria.

When a people suffers from bibliophobia and their leaders sophophobia, the natural outcome will be xenophobia. Suffice to say that at the root of xenophobia is bibliophobia and sophophobia. Truth is, I do not worry much about the xenophobia in South Africa, I am rather troubled by the local xenophobia of a scale like we have never seen before, Fulaniphobia in southern Nigeria, Ibophobia in far north, itsekiriphobia in Gbaramatu kingdom, Jukunphobia in Tiv land etc. The signs are ominous if we do not address the unhealthy fears of bibliophobia and sophophobia. Our people and leaders must read books to be free. No wonder Hosea 4:6 says 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.' Read for knowledge to end domestic and international xenophobia.

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Life is a Class of One

Picnic-themed Backyard Reception 

I was thinking this morning..... about our speed in this race of life. Last Sunday, I was privileged to attend the wedding of the daughter of my good friend and former classmate in the University. As I sat as part of the 80+ guests at the picnic-themed backyard reception, listening to the proud MOB (mother of the bride) giving her speech, I reflected on how far we've come as former classmates in Uniben. I considered how her children are of marriage-able age (the youngest just turned 20), while mine are still teenagers. I recalled another classmate of ours whose son just graduated as a medical doctor, but mine just about entering the University. As I pondered on why it seems I am lagging behind, the face of another of our classmate flashed by and I was reminded that his children are still in Primary school. At this point, it dawned on me that though we were all classmates and graduated together in 1991, life has shuffled us and placed us in different classes today. We were classmates in school, but not classmates in life. Everyone has his unique class. I concluded that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one.


Life is a class of one. Hmm!!! That conclusion held me down for a bit. Ten years after I got employed in my dream job, getting a second promotion became a prayer point. One day, a colleague that we came in together on same level walked up to me and said 'Bros, na wao. We came in together and I have gotten three promotions and you, just one. Is there something you are not doing?' I left him feeling bad but not for long because soon after, I realised that in the school of life there are no classmates. Life is a class of one. He is on his path while I am on mine.

Have you considered why, from the same branch of a tree you have both ripe and unripe fruits? The seeds were released same time, exposed to same nutrients and environmental conditions but yet some ripen before others. Identical twins that deliberately wait for each other to be in the same class, engage in the same business like P-Square (Peter and Paul Okoye) and even wed on the same day, will not get their wives pregnant on the same day. Life is a differentiator. My mind is made up that Life is a class of one.

If it is true that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one, then why do we look at another and feel inadquate, like we are not where we should be? Why would someone that has been privileged to be in a somewhat lofty position look down on others like he is superior in some way? Life is a class of one. I am in the class God wants me to be and you are in yours. Do not sweat over the class others are in, because there are no classmates in life. If you like, give yourself double promotion like we do in those days, life will eventually place you in the class you are meant to be.

Do not compare yourself with anyone, because you are in a class of one. There are no classmates in life. No wonder 2nd Corinthians 10:12 says 'For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.' Be wise!

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.