Sunday, 14 July 2019

University Education and Parental Sacrifice

I was thinking this morning....about University education and the sacrifices parents make for their children. As we took our seats in the bus after the boat ride, my colleague who had gone to pick his daughter that was returning home from the University for the summer break, asked if my children had entered the University. When I replied that they are at that point, he smiled and said 'Welcome to the club.' When asked how he was coping with four children in the University, his response was, 'It's not easy o. I had to cut off so many things.' Hmm!!!

His response got me thinking about the sacrifice my parents made to see me through University. At a point, things were so tough that my parents were selling off their priced possessions to keep all seven of us in school. My mum sold her precious Hollandais wrappers and some wrappers called 'Single' (still not sure why they are so called) just to pay our school fees. From my second year in the University, I was blessed to be one of the recipients of the Chevron Community scholarship for University students, where we were paid N300 annually. Believe me, that was a lot of money in 1987, a period when first year tuition fees at the University of Benin (Uniben) was N90. Compared to the school fees, the money seems adequate to meet my every need, but the challenge was that the needs of everyone in the nuclear family were serviced from this money. One particular year, I had other plans, different from those my parents had for the scholarship money.

I was in school when my account was credited. While everyone was waiting back home for me to send what was left of the scholarship payment, after paying my school fees, against the directive of my parents, I dipped my hands in the purse and did as my heart pleased. In order to pacify my parents, because I knew they will be angry, I wrote them this heart warming note, that read more like a telegram. 'Good morning. This is to let you know that I have been paid the scholarship money and I have paid my school fees. I wanted to send back the remaining, but my table fan was bad and I had to fix it. Also, I was forced to buy shirts (2). I had to keep back N90 for the remaining semester for feeding. I would've soaked o, but unfortunately my garri has finished. Thank you for your understanding. Your son...Weyimi.'

The letter aroused varied emotions within the family. While my parents were understandably angry, my siblings were amused, particularly with the part where I said 'I was forced to buy shirts' with figure 2 in bracket. The joke has been on me since then. Funny as it sounds, I will never forget the sacrifices my parents made for my education. Now I am a father that understands the value of a good university education. Some may wonder why we have to sometimes inconvenience ourselves to give them this education. The answer is in the words of Albert Einstein that 'Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.'

If we must exit the hole we are in as a nation, then we need a next generation that has been trained on how to think, not learning of facts and we must make the sacrifice today. Looking at our political leaders and the sacrifices their parents made, we can comfortably say that they only learnt facts, because when it comes to thinking, their minds seem not to be up to it. Proverbs 22:6 -'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' Make that sacrifice for your children today.

Happy Sunday. 

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

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Kiss of Love

I was thinking this morning.....about kissing. Please don't judge me without first hearing me out. The thought did not just occur to me because I am carnal. Far from it. It did because yesterday, 6th July was World Kissing Day, which I can bet most of you were not aware of. Why on earth should we have World Kissing Day? Don't ask me, I had asked the same question as well. National Kissing Day, also known as World Kiss Day and International Kissing Day, is a nonofficial holiday that is celebrated on July 6th every year. It is a holiday in which people are encouraged to pucker up and kiss the person they love. Wonders will never end.

World Kissing Day reminded me of a reflection I had recently about kissing. I have been attending wedding ceremonies for a long time but have in recent years been privileged to be offered front row seats by virtue of my position as a Pastor and at family events, as 'big bros.' This particular reflection was at the wedding, a couple of months back, of my cousin who happen to share the same first name with me. After the joining at the Warri South LGA registry, the groom was asked to kiss his bride. As he gently planted a kiss on the lips of his wife, I wondered where the 'You-may-kiss-your-bride' tradition came from and why it is practiced by the religious and non-religious. Why do we have to kiss our brides? Why don't they ask the groom to hug his bride or shake the hand of his bride or even carry her? 

Modern Anthropologists believe that kissing developed from 'Eskimo kissing,' which is actually the practise of rubbing noses to take in each others breath. This is also practised amongst many Pacific Islanders as a greeting, which has led to the theory that kissing is actually a testing of another person's scent to measure compatibility! Interesting, right? I was in Paris some weeks back and was actually fascinated by their culture of air-kissing on each other's cheek as a customary greeting. As I sat in this crowded restaurant for breakfast, I observed how many customers coming in air-kissed each other. Looked odd to me, but thank God, it's unlike Italy and Greece, where friends, both men and women commonly kiss each other on the lips when greeting each other. Yak! Way too intimate, I think. 

World Kissing Day! Do you know that we are encouraged not to be economical with kissing our spouses, because scientists say kissing is good for your health? Apart from the fact that kissing burns 6 calories a minute, they say a kiss actually transfers about 80 million bacteria between two mouths and introduces new bacteria to your body, strengthening your immune system in the process. They even said kissing relieves stress and can ease allergy symptoms. Really? That must be why Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat of Thailand decided to kiss for a lip-smacking 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds, between 12 to 14 February 2013. Now they hold the world record for the longest Kissing. God abeg o! That na achievement? Mtchewwww!

I am sure no Nigerian marked the World Kissing Day yesterday and I know that unlike the French that air-kiss, we shake hands and hug as a customary way of greeting. For those that pucker up and kiss their spouses, enjoy the health benefits. If you must kiss someone that is not your spouse, please do not be like Judas that betrayed his master with a kiss, but be in compliance with 1st Peter 5:14, that says 'Greet one another with a kiss of love.' Love is the essence. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 30 June 2019

No Sinner is a Christian

I was thinking this morning.... about that Billboard at Yenagoa junction by Mbiama in Rivers State. As we journeyed from Aviara in Delta state back to Port Harcourt last weekend after attending the burial ceremony of the mother of my colleague, I was engrossed in some literatures for the most part. At a point I looked up and asked where we were and was told we were in Bayelsa state. Looking ahead, I saw the billboard, that billboard that had intrigued me for decades, with the inscription, 'No Sinner is a Christian' and immediately knew we were at Yenagoa junction at Mbiama. I lowered my head and fond memories began to flood my mind. 

Those five words, 'No Sinner is a Christian' are not ordinary to me because they remind me of the days gone by. The billboard holds special memories of 1985 when I had to leave Warri to Port Harcourt for the very first time. My elder brother had been admitted at the University of Port Harcourt the year before, a period before the introduction of mobile phones. He had sent a message home that he was broke and needed money for food. After serious scooping, my parents were only able to put together N25 (twenty five naira) and a bucket of garri. Since there was no one travelling to Port Harcourt, I was asked to take the money and garri to him in school. Unknown to us, on the same day I set out from Warri to Port Harcourt, my brother had boarded a vehicle from Port Harcourt to Warri. We missed ourselves. Though it seemed like a journey in futility, but being my very first trip to the famous Garden City, every kilometre was an experience. But the unforgettable moment for me was beholding those five words 'No Sinner is a Christian,' written in white on the black background of the billboard strategically located at a point they say was Yenagoa junction. For me, Yenagoa junction never remained the same, because whenever I passed by, I was reminded that 'No Sinner is a Christian.'

For many years, I kept asking myself if it was true that no sinner is a christian. The play of words and use of simple syntax somewhat masks the subtle warning behind the words. Back home, I pondered on those words into the next day which was a Sunday. Later that evening, a couple in church paid my wife and I a surprise visit. After making acquaintances, the wife told a story of how her former boss was so mean to the point of sacking her on trumped-up charges. This very rich, supposedly Christian boss, she said, for some reason had a church beside his house both in the city and in the village. The boss had told her, with a smile of satisfaction on his lips, of how he was so angry with the 'noise' from the church on a particular service day, that he stormed the church, grabbed the Pastor and started pummeling him. As the congregation fled, he not only beat the Pastor to pulp, he destroyed the church equipment. Goodness me! Why did he take the laws into his hands instead reporting to the authorities, if he felt his right was violated? The picture of the billboard at Yenagoa junction flashed by reminding me that 'No Sinner is a Christian.'

I understand that falling into sin does not make you a sinner, but if sinning has become a way of life for you then you are a sinner and John 9:31 says God hears not sinners. So when the news broke of a Pastor alledgedly raping a celebrity years ago, and the denials that followed, my heart weeps, for I know not who is telling the truth. One thing I know is agreeing with the message on the billboard at Yenagoa junction in Mbiama that 'No Sinner is a Christian.' 

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Christian Brothers Booze

I was thinking this morning.... about booze. Last Tuesday, the organisation I work for had an HSE conference with CEOs of our partner organisations. It was an intense session of brainstorming on what more we could do to make our people safe. Immediately after the session, which ended before the official closing time of 4.30pm, we took a few steps into the tent behind the hall where a staff party had already started. It was kind of difficult for many to make that transition, moving from drinking water to drinking alcohol, especially because technically they were still on duty. It was a dilemma for many that saw me around the table. They wanted their booze but not sure how I will react being one of the Company's 'drugs and alcohol police officers.' They were also afraid that I might conduct drug and alcohol test the next morning, which is a serious offence if one is positive. While some jokingly warned me not to try it, others had to deal with the finger-biting dilemma by settling for just a bottle of booze. As I mused on their dilemma I remembered a TIME Magazine article I read recently titled 'Why Alcohol Companies Are Betting on Non-Alcoholic Booze.'

It's looking like stress is driving more and more people towards having the usual weekend socialising on week days. They seem to want to visit their regular bars midweek but don't want the alcohol. According to the TIME Magazine article, it was this challenge that birthed a bar called 'Getaway,' New York City’s first permanent booze-free bar. Sam Thonis, the owner says, 'We are just offering something that I think people want: a social experience without the alcohol.' Now many of the established companies are working on investing more funds in non-alcoholic booze. Hmm!

But I am thinking, is it possible to have a non-alcoholic booze? The dictionary definition of booze is 'alcoholic drink' with synonyms such as liquor, strong drink, spirits, intoxicants etc. So how can we have a non-alcoholic 'alcoholic drink?' Funny, right? It's like saying you have a non-alcoholic 'ogogoro.' Take away the alcohol and it will no longer be booze or ogogoro. Are you surprised at the contradiction? Please don't be. We see and read about this daily. We have many that profess to be Christians, but don't believe in Christ. They are in church, engaging in all sort of anti-christ activities, such as making members to masturbate in 'church' or sharing booze/ beer as communion and still want to be called Christians. Haba! How can you take away the Christ and still be a Christian? Just like it is alcohol that makes a drink become booze, it is Christ that makes a man a Christian. 

It's funny how people want to lose the essence but not the name. They want to belong to a particular circle without its core value. If you have taken away the alcohol from the booze, why don't you call what is left by the real name, juice or non-alcoholic beverage? Why still qualify it as booze? Please let's call a booze, a booze. Also, when next you read those unsettling news saying this pastor did this or that, or see a flyer from 'Christian Association of Native Doctors,' remember to call a Christian, a Christian. You cannot be a native doctor and a Christian at the same time. And when you see a bottle of brandy called 'THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS,' don't be confused, it doesn't mean the brandy is a Christian. But if you happen to be in the mix of this contradiction, I leave you with 2nd Timothy 3:5 that says 'Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Tea or Coffee?

I was thinking this morning.... about tea and coffee because it rained for the better part of last night. I walked into a restaurant with colleagues for a special breakfast last Thursday looking forward to a simmering pot of tea or coffee. As I scanned the refreshment desk to see the choices available, disappointment immediately replaced my expectation when I discovered there was only Lipton tea and Nescafe coffee. I was transfixed for some seconds as I remembered my experience as a child.

I remembered early in the days in Warri, a good breakfast for me was akamu (pap) and akara (bean ball) while a great breakfast was yam and pepper soup (which in Itsekiri, we call Igbagba or Epuru, when the yam is cooked together with the spicy sauce.) In all my growing up years, one meal I disliked as breakfast was bread and tea/coffee. It was not just because, at best the bread goes with 'Blueband butter,' the tea/coffee was never an inspiration. So whenever we were made to take tea/coffee for breakfast, I would frown and literally curse whoever discovered tea as a part of a meal. I never knew that some day I would understand why and start enjoying tea and coffee. 

Decades had passed and it was deja vu staring at the simmering pot of tea that has become a permanent feature in my diet. From whence cometh this tea? I imagined in Bible language. I found out that tea was discovered and consumed as a beverage around 3rd century AD, while coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around 11th century AD? Interestingly, tea has become the most popular beverage in the world after plain water, with the world’s tea market estimated to be worth $38.8 billion in 2013.

It is interesting to see how tea/coffee preparation and options had developed over the years from one nation to another. In the Himalayas, it’s traditional to add butter to milky black tea. Wahoo!!! Why on earth would anyone add butter to tea? Wonders will never end. In Nigeria today, you still see the tea seller, generally referred to as Mai Shai, brewer of tea in Hausa, creating a waterfall or should I say a 'tea-fall,' as they mix the beverage between cups. Same old Lipton tea, no improvement whatsoever. Though Turkey is the highest consumer of tea in the world, the Americans have by far made the most improvement in the tea/cofee business. Do you know that Starbucks, the American coffee company and coffeehouse chain, can serve a cup of coffee 19,000 different ways? Yes, you read right, 19,000 options. No wonder that between 1971 when Starbucks was founded and 2019, they're operating in 30,000 locations worldwide. Who would have thought that selling tea and coffee could be so lucrative. 

As we get deeper into the rainy season, your preference to keep warm may be plain tea or coffee or one of the 19,000 options on offer at Starbucks. Or it could even be the old fashioned pepper soup. Whatever it is, just don't beat yourself because Colossians 2:16 says 'Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink.' The most important thing is that you stay warm. 

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 7 April 2019



I was thinking this morning... about taking a flight to forgetfulness. You know how when something unpleasant happened to you or you are stunned by the grimness of news, and you wish there was a flight you could board to forgetfulness? Well, I never knew that was possible until I read the news item about how a Kuala Lumpur-bound Saudi Airlines pilot was compelled to make a U-turn and return back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after a mother suddenly remembered that she had forgotten her baby in the airport terminal. The frantic mother told the crew that she had accidentally left her baby in the boarding area of the terminal, according to the Gulf News.
I am not sure what the mother was thinking or what distracted her to the extent of forgetting a whole human being, but one thing I know is that she was sure on the flight to forgetfulness. For us waffarians (Warri born and bred people), the only thing strong enough to make someone forget his/her child is what we refer to as 'yawa race.' What is yawa race? Ask a Warri man.
It is because of these situations that schools decided to engage the services of 'childminders.' But how do you explain a situation where a school bus of an International school in Nigeria with two minders detailed to drop off children after school will forget a three year old child in the bus, doors shut and the adults closed for the day. In this case, the minders were not mindful, rather they had boarded the flight to forgetfulness.
I have discovered that you can make a deliberate decision to board this flight or sometimes you just find yourself on board this flight. Think about it. Remember that occasion when you left the sitting room and walked into the bedroom and on getting there, you stood there wondering what exactly you were there to do? Bros, please don't overthink it, you were on a flight to forgetfulness.
When old people start forgetting things, it is generally seen as a sign of dementia with Alzheimer's disease being one of the many types. But when young people start forgetting things, what could they be suffering from? B-mentia or C-mentia? Don't be scared, I found out something positive about forgetfulness. Brice Kurl at Stanford University in California, US, and colleagues demonstrated that forgetfulness is a tool of the brain and that we should be thankful we don't remember everything, because it means our brain is working properly. No wonder Genesis 41:51 says 'For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.' So, forget the bad times but please try not to forget your children in church today.
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Our Hunger for Singham

Police at Roadblock

I was thinking this morning...... about our hunger for Singham. If someone says this to you, it sounds like 'our hunger for chewing gum.' But what or who really is 'Singham' that Nigerians are hungry for? Days ago, I read the Daily Trust news headline, 'Singham: The Story of Nigeria's Super CP' and my curiosity was naturally aroused.
I found out 'Singham' is a no nonsense police officer in a 2011 Bollywood (Indian) movie titled SINGHAM. The lead character called Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgan) is depicted as an honest Maratha police inspector who resolved most of the problems in his town informally and without filing charge sheets. He consequently gained much reputation and love from the villagers. It was this reputation that many in Kano gave the state Police Commissioner CP Muhammad Wakili who has been nicknamed 'Singham.'
In Nigeria, it is very difficult to find a honest police officer, much less one that senior. But there has been several tweets on Twitter attesting to CP Wakili as a man of integrity who ensured Kano State had peaceful elections amidst challenges apart from combating illicit drug sale and consumption in the state. Hmm!!! As I imagined how possible that a Nigerian police officer will be mobbed as being a 'Singham,' I realized that the masses are hungry for a hero. They are desirous of a shining light in the gross darkness we are in. Someone that will stand out from the compromised officials we have all gotten used to.
As I searched my mental repository for other 'Singhams' within the Nigerian Police, I recalled the headline in The Nations Newspaper of how one Ogar Jombo, an Assistant Superintendent of the NSCDC, was alledgedly beaten to death by two police officers in the presence of his wife and children, because he allegedly violated traffic rules. I shook my head and concluded that these men are definitely not 'Singham.' Then I remembered with pain, how, many years ago in Warri, I was stopped on my way to church at an illegal checkpoint  y some police officers. After a detailed scanning of my documents under the microscope, they successfully picked a discrepancy and demanded for N20,000. Having told them I have no such amount to give, they searched my car and found the tithe of my salary for that month in an envelope, so labeled. Fearlessly and shamelessly, they took the money in spite of my protests and questions whether they are now God. Those officers were definitely not 'Singham.'
I have always wondered why my hearts skips and pray a silent prayer whenever I see a police officer on the road, even when I am driving a brand new car. Truth is, the default mindset of a typical policeman in Nigeria is to find a fault in you and believe me, they can get water out of a rock. Unfortunately, the majority of our police officers are not 'Singham' but rather they are 'chewing gum.' You know how chewing gum is only useful for a short time and you toss it out? If you hold on for too long, it can stick to your clothes and furniture and mess it up. I believe in Romans 4:18 'Who against hope, believed in hope that he might become...' I am believing that the 'O to ge' revolution might happen in the Police Force, so that the majority will become 'Singham.'
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.