Saturday, 30 May 2020

71 Days

Wrongful Imprisonment 

I was thinking this morning..... It was another weekend and I was reflecting on how fast the week has gone by. I never knew it will be possible for me to stay indoors for a full week and time will still jet by like everything was hunky-dory. Can you imagine that I have spent exactly 71 days indoors since the 'ojuju' called Covid-19 scared everyone indoors? Wow! During this period, I have only driven out 5 times for very short periods of time and have mostly been working from behind closed doors. Who had imagined that it was possible to incarcerate everyone; individuals, States and Nations for so long? As I thought about it, it seems clear in my mind that every one of us had been wrongfully imprisoned. 

71 days. That is how long I have been wrongfully imprisoned like Archie Charles Williams who spent more than 36 years of his life at Louisiana State Penitentiary for a crime he didn't commit until he was exonerated March 2019 due to advancement in evidence technology. 'Haba! How can you say that?' Someone may be thinking. One scientific study revealed that the Coronavirus may have originated in bats and then spread to humans via a snake or pangolin. Think about it. I neither eat bat, snake nor pangolin, but someone in China eats a live animal for the shock value and now I am the one that has been locked at home for 71 days.

71 days! Tomorrow June 1st will make it 72 and the windows to the summer season are opening. No one is talking about summer holiday when we have the new normal to adjust to. Kai! Who is responsible for this wrongful imprisonment? One conspiracy theory says the Coronavirus was created in a lab at Wuhan, China. I have never been to China neither am I a Lab scientist, yet they've kept me indoors for 71 days. Who will pay for the lost time, lost opportunities and lost finances from the wrongful imprisonment for 71 days? 

Many people feel like they and their businesses have been wrongfully imprisoned by Covid-19 but they are unsure if they will end up as Archie Williams or Tony Ugochukwu who was wrongfully imprisoned in the US for 15 years but walked out a free man last Tuesday with a $10 million compensation. While some impacted will never come out of the prison, many will be freed like Archie but without compensation. There are others that will not only be free but will be compensated like Ugochukwu. When Archie was asked 'How did you get through 37 years in prison for a crime you did not commit?' He answered, 'Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison, but I never let my mind go to prison.' The first step to overcoming all the challenges associated with this wrongful imprisonment by Covid-19 is to renew your mind. Romans 12:2 'Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.' My mind is renewed to profit from the past 71 days. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Fruit of the Eyes

I was thinking this morning..... or rather talking this morning to men. When you look at your wife, in the form of what fruit do you see her? There is a common Nigerian saying that 'if you want to see the red eyes of a man, touch his wife.' I confirmed this early in life when I was living with an aunt and the husband. Great family with so much love and mutual respect between them. One evening, we were in the living room when my aunt returned from her outing with swollen face like I had never seen her with before. She walked straight into the bedroom crying. We all rushed after her asking what was wrong. Amidst sobs, she revealed that a taxi driver had slapped her because she challenged his wrong doing. Of course she didn't let him off the hook that easy but after much pleading from people around, she had to let him go. As soon as she mentioned that a taxi driver had slapped her, what I saw in the eyes of the husband was something I had scarcely seen. He sprang up, with fire in his eyes and headed out the room asking where the man can be found. He was itching to go out there and beat up and arrest any taxi driver within reach. It took a lot of persuasion from my aunt to calm him down. From that day, I never doubted the saying that if you want to see the red eyes of a man, touch his wife.

From the depth of my immaturity, I wondered why my uncle's eyes were red that evening. Years later after I got married, I understood why. It was simply because his wife was 'the apple of his eyes.' Not green apple, I mean succulent red apple. Red apple is not only pleasant to look upon, it is also very tasteful. I found out that the phrase 'apple of one's eye' which first was used in the Bible, comes from a Hebrew expression that literally means 'little man of the eye,' and it refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people’s pupils. It means to gaze on and be fond of that person. 

I was still musing on this when a colleague told me that this Covid-19 induced lockdown has resulted in increased domestic violence. 'Ibabo!' Exclaiming like an urhobo man, I wondered why a man will beat his wife. I imagined what the eyes of these wife beaters will be like. Will they be red as well? If they are red, they are definitely not the red of an apple. A man will never lay his hands on 'the apple of his eyes.' Since a man must find his wife distasteful to beat her, one can reasonably conclude that to a wife beater, his wife is 'the cranberry of his eyes.' Cranberry is a tart, bitter red berry.

What about a man that neither loves or hates his wife? Such a man can be in the same house with his wife for weeks but give her no pleasure. He presents her to the world as lovely but indifferent to her at home. You can't say she is the apple of his eyes neither is she the cranberry, rather a pomologist (an expert in fruits) will say she is 'the pitaya of his eyes.' Dragon fruit, otherwise known as pitaya, is hands-down, one of the best-looking fruits on the planet. But when it comes to taste, it is mild to the point of utter tastelessness; as bland as bland gets. 

The way men see their wives vary from one man to another depending on their upbringing and 'wetin dey worry dem.' From the perspective of the fruit of their eyes, some women are garlic, others are 'agbalumo (udara),' and some bitter kola. Whatever it is, I see this period of the lockdown as an opportunity for men to recultivate their gardens. If your wife was either the cranberry, pitaya or even bitter kola of your eyes, it's time to make the change and make her the apple or mango of your eyes. To the ladies, should your husband treat you like you are bitter like cranberry or tasteless like pitaya, worry not, God has got you covered because you are the apple of His eyes (Psalms 17:8). 

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Life is the Teacher

I was thinking this morning..... two weekends ago I called a friend, a former school mate at the University who I had not spoken to in a long while and we reminisced about our days on campus. We talked about our former classmates and where they are across the world. We remembered our lecturers, how a few had transited, some retired and those still in service. 'Do you remember Mrs G. and Mrs E.?' My friend asked. 'How can I ever forget them?' I replied. 'Do you know that Mrs G. only got her PhD a few years ago and guess what? She was supervised by one of our classmates who was her student in the late eighties.' Wow!

When we ended the conversation, I was paralysed by the thought of what I just heard. I cast my mind back to the late eighties focusing on the two female lecturers my friend mentioned. Great women, classy and good at what they did but without a PhD at the time. I still don't know what personal challenges both ladies had that they could not obtain their doctorate at the time their contemporaries did, but 25 years later, they finally did under the supervision of their former students, who have now become professors. Truly humbling!

I was thinking, how will I feel if my former student was now the one assigned to supervise my PhD project? Would I be humble enough to allow my former student to supervise me in the same institution where I taught him/her? I really don't have an answer. Why didn't Mrs G. and Mrs E. feel too proud to learn from those they taught in the past? I kept prodding. Oh yes, I know why. What depth of understanding they have. They must have realised that 'Life is the teacher and anyone and anything could be the lesson.'

Do you have same depth of understanding?
You were part of the team that recruited fresh graduates to your organisation. One was assigned to you as a mentee. After a few years, he climbed up the ranks and became your MD. Would you be humble enough for him to be your mentor? 'Tufiakwa!' Some will say. 'It's not my portion.' I hear others say. Please be humble enough to learn from him because Life is the teacher and anyone and anything could be the lesson.' 

Many years ago, you preached and converted a few to Christ and that redeemed soul later turned out to be the Pastor of the church you attend. Will you be humble enough and remain a member of the church or you 'port' to another church? If the latter is the case, then you need to understand that 'Life is the teacher and anyone and anything could be the lesson.' It's easy to focus our minds on being the teacher or mentor all the time, but life will sometimes turn things around to teach a lesson. Whenever that happens, please realise that it is not about you or teacher, it is about the lesson. Don't let pride get in the way of your growth because of the person whom God decide to use. It is no wonder Prov 6:6 says 'Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!' Truly, life is the teacher.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 9 May 2020

When I See the Scar, I Know It Shall Be Well

I was thinking this morning... in my relaxed moment that Saturday morning, I sat on the bean bag chair with legs crossed, the left over the right. Then I noticed the scar that runs across the inner side of my left foot and boom, I found myself in 1978. 'Why 1978?' You may ask. I was in Primary 3 in Mowoe Primary School Warri. Due to too few schools for the number of children of school age, most public schools had morning and afternoon school. That year I was in afternoon school, meaning we resumed at 1pm and closed at 5.30pm, I think. On this faithful day, I arrived school about 30 mins before morning school closes. I decided to fill up the spare time by going to 'catch abaka' in the bushy area by the school. Catching 'abaka' is a practice where kids swooped on grasshoppers perched on tall grasses, trapping them in their palms. As I followed the grasshoppers deep into the bush with grasses as high as my neck, I was unaware of the unseen dangers beneath. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my left foot. When I retreated to the open field to take a look at my foot, I screamed at the sight. Blood was gushing out my foot like water from a fountain. As I fell to the ground, other pupils around called for help and I was rushed to the hospital. After weeks of not being able to walk unaided, what was left of a massive cut to an artery was a scar, about six inches long. I did not bleed to death on that day, but the scar remains to remind me that it shall be well.

Yes, it shall be well, that I am confident of. Today, when I think back on the event of that day, I cringe, because I still can't tell whether it was a piece of broken bottle or metal that gave me the cut. As kids we were fearless, not because we had any local 'Odechi' or were too religious. No. We just lived knowing that it shall be well. How else can you explain an 8 year old walking into tall bushes not knowing what was beneath or ahead. I could have been bitten by a snake or worse, but it never crossed our mind as kids. Fear did not deter us from being adventurous. Today, 42 years later, I am looking at the scar and my conviction is reinforced that it shall be well.

I really do not know why I can still remember the event of that day so vividly, 42 years after, but I believe it is for a purpose. There are so many events in the last 42 years that I can't remember, but I will never forget the event of that day in 1978. In everyone's life, there is always a scar that reminds you that it shall be well. Your scar could be physical, emotional, economic or psychological, but it is left there to remind you that if you can survive that ordeal, then it shall be well. I am grateful not only because I didn't die from the injury but also because the scar remained to remind me that it shall be well.

Sometimes God leaves an old landmark, a scar, not only to remind us of where we are coming from but to reassure us that it shall be well. The impact of this Covid-19 will leave scars in the lives of many. For some, the scar will be in their pockets, for others their mind is deeply scarred by the news of thousands of death across the globe. Please do not despair whenever your physical or mind's eyes see the scar, just know it is God's way of reassuring you that it shall be well. Genesis 9:16 says 'Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.'

When I see the scar, I know that it shall be well.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Zoom in on the Job in You

Life is like the Stock Market

I was thinking this morning...... On the evening of April 20, I was fully locked down in my house when I got a message from my younger brother that the price of a key futures contract of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for May delivery was already down 28% to $13.07 a barrel. I quickly went online to follow the trend. And then, in a 20-minutes span that ranks among the most extraordinary in the history of financial markets, the price fell to a level no one thought was possible. One of the world’s most important commodity, WTI crude oil, closed the trading day at a price of minus $37.63. That’s what you’d have to pay someone to take a barrel off your hands. 

While I was watching history being made from my corner of Lagos, Bloomberg in their report days later, said that thousands of miles away, in the Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen, a 26-year-old named A’Xiang Chen watched events unfold on her phone in stunned disbelief. A few weeks earlier, she and and her boyfriend had sunk their entire savings of about $10,000 into a product that the state-run Bank of China dubbed Yuan You Bao, or Crude Oil Treasure. When A’Xiang checked her phone one last time before going to bed by 10 p.m. in Shenzhen (10 a.m. in New York), the price was now $11. Half their savings had been wiped out. She awoke the next day to a text at 6 a.m. from Bank of China informing her that with the price below zero, not only had their savings been lost but that she and her boyfriend may actually owe money. Wow! She went to bed an investor and woke up a debtor without moving a finger. Life is like the stock market, it can sometimes be bullish or bearish. 

The whole world is on a bearish run right now because of Covid-19 pandemic which has, in what seems like a blink of the eyes, turned many to 'modern day Job.' Like Job, many are mourning from the loss their loved ones, others have lost their jobs and businesses and a lot more financially drained like A'Xiang Chen of Schenzhen.

Do you know that in the midst of this bearish run, some are on the bullish run? Eric Yuan, founder of the company Zoom Video Communications, specialized in videoconferencing, has since this pandemic, added $200 million to his fortune and raised his net worth to $5.5 billion, thanks to the rapid increase in its number of users. But why is it that while so many are suffering and counting their losses, some are actually smiling to the bank? Did they prepare for this or it was just sheer providence? Life is like the stock market, it can sometimes be bullish or bearish. 

I am not sure how long it took for Job in the bible to turn from being the richest man in the east with a happy family to becoming the diseased poor man with no family, but the bizarre 20 mins on 20th April where crude oil, referred to as black gold, crashed into negative pricing, reinforced the position that life is like the stock market, it can sometimes be bullish or bearish. The good news is that Job did not die in the bearish run, he became super bullish and came out as pure gold after Eliphaz admonished him in Job 22:29 - 'When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.' Stay focused and reinvent yourself because you too shall come forth as pure gold.

Happy Sunday and stay safe.

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

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Covid-19: The Equal Opportunity Heart Breaker

I was thinking this morning..... about discrimination. I have been following the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme embarked upon by the Federal Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and have had good reason to question the criteria being used. I have also listened carefully to complaints from some governors, North and South of the Niger river about how their States were left out of the palliative rain. CACOL (The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership) had lamented that “Whereas, other states of the federation, especially in the northern part, received significant financial assistance and feeding materials like rice, beans, flour, etc., people in Lagos and many other states of the federation in the south remarkably, were left in the lurch by governments in most instances.” All in all, the dominant smell of the whole exercise to me is one of discrimination, which some may prefer to call bias or favoritism.

I am able to ignore when people discriminate or openly show bias during steady state operation in Nigeria, but wonder if the administrators are human when they do so at a time when Covid-19 is killing people without discrimination. While this thought was brewing within me, I read the pop-up notice by Gayle King about her upcoming programme on BET titled 'Black America's Fight.' She had this catchphrase for the programme that gave me mixed emotions. It says 'Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker.' Hmm!!!

Truly, Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker. Think about it. More than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Centre, say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of black people in American society today. Hence, most Blacks, Hispanics and Asians in America feel they always get the short end of the stick in almost every opportunity that presents itself. They have prayed and looked forward to that opportunity that will not discriminate based on ethnicity or the colour of their skin. That opportunity came, Coronavirus, but not to bless them but to break their hearts. When it comes to Coronavirus, there is no inequality. It embraces as many that welcomes it by their lifestyles, black or white. Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker.

There are many young people that believe the Coronavirus discriminates against the old and therefore tend to be less cautious. Well, while the statistics say one thing, the individual cases say another. 5-year old Skylar Herbert from Michigan loved to dance and dreamed of being a pediatric dentist one day. She contracted Covid-19 and died on Sunday 5th April. She was just a child. And then I remembered the 106 year old Great-grandmother Connie Titchen of Birmingham, UK, who has lived through two world wars. She was diagnosed with Covid-19 but recovered and has since been discharged from the hospital. If you consider both cases, you will agree that truly Coronavirus is an equal opportunity heartbreaker, your age notwithstanding.

The coronavirus deals out death and despair equally, whether male or female, North or South, PDP or APC, Fulani or Igbo, christian or muslim. It is an equal opportunity heartbreaker. The only time it discriminates is in how profoundly those infected are affected, as it seems to kill those with underlying conditions more. But thank God our case is different (Gen 47:15-27). In the next few days the difficult decision will be made on whether the lockdown should be extended. Whatever the decision, never forget that the equal opportunity heartbreaker is real and does not discriminate. Therefore the distribution of the Federal government palliative should have no ethnic, regional or religious colouration, otherwise 'yawa go gas o.' 

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 18 April 2020

They Didn't Die of Covid-19

I was thinking this morning.... As the nation woke up Saturday morning to the sad news of the death of Mallam Abba Kyari, the powerful Chief of Staff to PMB, I could not but spare a thought for those dying from Covid-19. According to Worldometer, from the 210 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances affected by the Covid-19, Nigeria sits uncomfortably at No 98 on the Covid-19 Impact Medal Table. As at midnight Friday 17th April, the USA, like in most competitions, sits atop the medal table with a whooping 37,175 deaths with 710,272 cases. The silver medal goes to Italy with 22,745 deaths and 172,434 confirmed cases and Spain coming third with 20,002 deaths with 190,839 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The UK is 6th with 14,576 deaths and 108,692 confirmed cases. As I pondered on the infamous medal table and Nigeria's position, I knew the organisers were wrong. 'Dem don play ojoro,' I thought. How can they say we have had just 17 death from Covid-19?

Think about it. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) through its Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu disclosed that whereas COVID-19 has led to the death of about 11 patients as at Tuesday 14th April, law enforcement agents have extra-judicially executed 18 persons to enforce the Covid-19 Lockdown regulations. Of the 18 persons killed was one Joseph Pessu that was shot and killed in Warri by a soldier for allegedly flouting the state government’s sit-at-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While NHRC was making the announcement last Wednesday, two youths were allegedly shot dead by the Police at the New Tyre Market Area of Nkpor, Anambra State, while enforcing restriction of movement over the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the authorities say only 17 people had died in Nigeria from Covid-19. Oh I see, Pessu and the 19 others did not die of Covid-19, they died of COVIB-20. COVIB-20 meaning Coronavirus Induced Brutality 2020.

I am challenging the number of death being reported for Nigeria. When the Phase 2 of the lockdown was announced, so many that earn a daily wage and struggled to survive Phase 1 knew it was death staring them in the face. In spite of the very commendable steps taken by many Nigerians, churches and organisations in providing food and succour to the less privileged, we have watched videos of mob attack on vehicles carrying food in certain areas. Area boys are attacking estates and neighbourhood forcefully dispossessing people of food and money. For as many that can't beg or steal, but have no food at home, God save their souls. Should they die, they will not be counted among those that died of Covid-19. Yes, they died of COLIH-20. COLIH-20 meaning Coronavirus Lockdown Induced Hunger 2020.

Lockdowns are being extended in many states and regions, meaning things will remain dire for many. Like a friend said, the government palliative is even more invisible than the virus. If you are following the trend of events in Nigeria, you will agree that while many countries are asking for ventilators, what the vast majority of Nigerians need is 'Foodilators.' Because of the hunger, millions of Nigerians are flouting the lockdown and social distancing regulations, trooping out to street corners, just to scavenge for what to eat. Should they contract the Coronavirus, and God forbid, die, please know that they didn't die of Covid-19, they died of COLIH-20. We all must come together and continue to provide the very vital foodilators that will keep many Nigerians alive. And as you do so, keep hope alive because Ecclesiastes 9:4 says 'For to him that is joined to all the living, there is hope.'

Happy Sunday.

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