Sunday 19 May 2024

JUST A BOY

 


I was thinking this morning...... It was in 1987, and I just gained admission into the University of Benin. It was my first time leaving home to stay away from family. Everyone around me was big, and for some reason, I saw myself in that same frame. Imagine my shock when I stumbled on this photo last week. For the very first time, I saw myself for who I truly was. I was only 17 years old and just a boy.

I remember taking most of my first year lectures at the 500 Lecture Theater at Ugbowo campus. Every lecture day, before dawn, I was among the first students to get to the hall, not only because I wanted the best seat for myself but primarily because I wanted to reserve a seat for a fair complexion female classmate called L.E. Everyone wondered why I take the pains daily to reserve a seat for L.E because she was out of my league. I never really understood why myself. But looking at this photo, I now understand that I was just a boy.

My roommates were really huge (in the voice of Donald Trump). They will boss me around, oppress me, make me the butt of their jokes and downright disrespect me. I never understood why. On one occasion, I reacted and gave Tunde a stars generating slap. Despite escaping being pummelled, it couldn't force them to show me some respect. Thirty-seven years later, as I reflected on this photo and how small I was, compared to my classmates, I understood the origin of the disrespect. I was only a boy.

Though I was young and with a small frame, I saw myself from the lens of my mind's eyes. I was as big and mature as the people around me. I did not allow my age and size to make me feel less than those around me. I may have been a boy and seen as a boy, but academically, I was among the biggest in the class. What I lacked in brawn, I had in brain.

The challenges of life can sometimes be overwhelming, making you feel like a boy. Those around you might even compound the problem and like Saul to David in 1st Samuel 17:33 tell you 'You're only a boy.' Believe in yourself and face whatever Goliath is before you. With God on your side, you will look back like me after overcoming and say, 'Wow! How did I do this? I was just a boy.'

Stay hopeful. God's got our back.

Happy Sunday!

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

Sunday 12 May 2024

AFRICAN MOTHERS DAY

 


I was thinking this morning..... I have given up trying to understand the number of Mothers Day we celebrate each year. It's looking like we have one each quarter. I am not beefing mothers. They are special creatures of God.

I was barely eight years old when my mum got pregnant (again). As a child, knowing there was enough food at home, I couldn't understand why my mum would choose to eat small chunks of white chalk, called 'Eko.' I later found out that the Eko was Calabash chalk or baked clay, which some pregnant women eat as medicine, to suppress morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting. Our mothers had to eat clay because of us. Chai! I kowtow for African mothers.

Twenty-five years later, it was the turn of my young wife. She was in labour to deliver our first child. She has been taken to the Warri General hospital. The facilities were basic or maybe non-existent. Standing by the entrance of the delivery room and listening to the cries from labour pain and running around for extra blood, I almost fainted. I look back today at the sacrifices being made by mothers and could only doff my hat and kowtow for African mothers.

After childbirth, one grandmother will subject the new mother to hot water therapy, where they soak a piece of cloth in hot water and use it to massage the new mother’s belly. Chai! What about a Sitz bath? The new mother that gave birth vaginally will be made to squat over steaming water so that blood clots in her womb can come out so she can heal properly internally. Oh my God, what our mothers go through for us. I kowtow for African mothers.

I wish it ended there. The new mother will be given very spicy foods such as pepper soup to help to flush out unwanted blood clots in her body and help to boost breast milk production. Whether she likes akamu (Pap) or not, she must drink am. You will hear something like, 'You must finish this peppersoup or else you won't lie down.' Chai! I kowtow for African mothers.

African mothers are the epitome of strength and resilience, despite reliving Genesis 3:16 every time they give birth. In the UK, Sunday 10 March was chosen as Mothers Day while in the USA, Mothers Day is May 12, but considering the difficulties African mothers overcome daily, every day should be African Mother's Day.

Stay hopeful. God's got our back.

Happy Mothers Day!

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

Sunday 5 May 2024

MY ASSISTANT NAMED LUCKY



I was thinking this morning.... Driving from Owo towards Akure was a huge billboard with the face of the Ondo State Governor, and a message 'Ondo is Lucky.' Really? The message held me captive for a few minutes, as I pondered on the meaning. Would it be regarded as luck that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu died and his deputy named Lucky took over? Or should we just take the statement on the face value that the state is lucky to have a man like Lucky Aiyedatiwa?


Seems like de javu. Exactly 14 years today (5th of May 2010), President Umaru Musa Yar'adua died in office, and his vice named Goodluck Jonathan took over the reins of power as president. Could it be a coincidence? I couldn't help but quickly scan my life just to be sure I had no assistant named Lucky or Goodluck. Would you blame me?

Back to the years, I went wondering once again. It was late 2003 when Shell placed an advert to fill up a vacant position. I applied and had to compete with a guy who occupied the position as a locum. I came tops at the interview, and he was second. He had to leave after I accepted the offer. Two months into my resumption, this guy walked into my office one morning, handed me a newspaper cutting, and said, 'See this advert here? I brought it so you can apply. I know you will get the job. Please apply, so you can leave this job for me to come in.' Long story cut short. I applied, got the job, and this guy took my position in Shell. Though his name was Martin, I am beginning to suspect his middle name might have been Lucky or Goodluck.

While the principals of Goodluck Jonathan and Lucky Aiyedatiwa had to die for them to sit on the throne, I was promoted for Martin to sit on his dream job. Someone might be thinking of changing his name to Lucky. Don't bother. I know of a guy named Lucky having the most difficult of fortunes.

Your past and even your present might have been the result of someone's misfortune or fortune, but your future is your choice and decision and not because you are named Lucky or Goodluck. Good names are powerful but not enough to give you success. Some persons are named Success, but their lives are filled with failures. The fact that Gabriel's last name is Jesus does not mean he must die for Arsenal FC to win the English Premier League. Name alone doesn't change anything, but looking up to God and taking steps does. Remember Matthew 7:21.

Stay hopeful. God's got our back.

Happy Sunday!

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

Sunday 28 April 2024

THE MANGO FELL

 


I was thinking this morning.... Still on the 14-hour trip to Omu-Aran in Kwara state. Our vehicle had developed a brake problem just before Ikare junction, Owo, Ondo State, and we all came down to allow the driver to fix the problem. We felt a wee bit angry and disappointed with the driver for his rough driving. Having been on the road for over 8 hours, we wanted nothing but an uninterrupted ride to Omu-Aran.

The location we stopped, called Shagari by the locals, was remote with just a few houses. No shop or local stalls to buy water or snacks. We took shelter under two huge mango trees. Thankfully, there were two make shift benches under the trees to rest our tired bodies. While we sat, hungry and tired, praying for quick resolution of the problem, life's lessons dropped on me like fresh dew in a harmattan morning.

Where we sat, resigned to the fact that we would arrive Omu-Aran late in the night, I observed the locals walk slowly with no sense of urgency. It was like they had no trouble in life. The light cool breeze and quietness dispersed peace in a manner that reminded me of my NYSC days as a teacher in Bonny National Grammar School (BNGS) in 1992. The peace I enjoyed after school hours in the serene environment of the staff quarters is one I will cherish for life. At that moment, I saw the incident as a gift from God to relax and enjoy the moment.

I was happy with just enjoying the light, cool breeze in a serene environment, but it came with more. With every whoosh of the breeze, a ripe mango dropped from the tree. Within a short time, lovers of mango in our team were enjoying fresh mango snacks. It was nothing but sheer serendipity.

Life! Sometimes life gifts us blessings in the middle of a disappointment. Every event and anyone you meet in the journey of your life is part of your storybook or album. Embrace it and make the best of every situation. In the quiet and uneventful times of your life, be sensitive because there is a ripe mango about to fall for your enjoyment. Appreciate everything that will come your way. There is a blessing in it. Just look up, and you will see the ripe mango ready to drop. Hebrews 12:2.

Stay hopeful. God's got our back.

Happy Sunday!

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

Sunday 21 April 2024

Seven States of Life



I was thinking this morning..... It was meant to be a simple journey from Port Harcourt to Omu-Aran in Kwara State, but it turned out to be the longest road trip I have ever embarked on. While Google Maps estimated the 550.9km trip to be about 10hrs 33mins, the journey took us 14hrs 30mins. A trip that was dotted with so many life lessons.


We set out at about 7.30 am in a convoy of two coaster buses and a security escort pick-up van. Friends that couldn't wait for us, set out in a solo 4-wheel pick-up van, and arrived a solid 4 hours before us. How fast one travels in life is dependent on the capacity of the vehicle. Some have taken time to develop themselves and upgraded to turbocharged engine while others are okay with their two cylinders engine. Their speed in life tells the story.

Life, though, is not all about speed. While the coaster buses in a convoy meant the trip was slower, the bond of friendship and fun of travelling in a group was more alluring. Sometimes in life, it may seem like you are moving too slow because you had chosen to go with friends and family, but the experience you have working and fellowshiping with people is one those riding alone will never enjoy.

As the adventure across seven States progressed from Rivers to Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, and finally Kwara State, I observed that the quality of the highway determined the speed we maintained. In life, there are some travelling on the superhighway that was constructed by their parents and forebears, others had to construct their own highways. Yet, for some, there are no paved roads. They had to trudge along the dusty and rough earth roads of life. Tough life, you will say.

Somewhere around Owo, in Ondo State, our vehicle developed a fault, and we had to stop to fix the problem. Though we lost an hour, thirty minutes in the process, we soon got back on our way. In life, breakdowns from illness or accident can happen and set you back a few years. Don't despair. You will soon be on your way to your destination.

A journey we started before sunrise, crossing so many rivers, large and small, and going through roadblocks, continued after sunset into the night. We finally arrived at our hotel a few minutes before 10 pm. It was a long tortuous journey but we stayed the course and arrived safely. Despite the challenges of life, keep moving and stay focused on your destination (Hebrews 12:2).

Stay hopeful. God's got our back.

Happy Sunday!

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

Sunday 14 April 2024

JUST ONE GET-TAA-WAY

 


I was thinking this morning.... With a bonus holiday given to us last Thursday, I decided to go out for an evening fitness walk. As I did, I observed young men and women hanging out just by my estate reminding me of my late teenage years.

It was the year 1988, and I had returned home for my end of semester break. Feeling like university big boys, my brothers and our friends would meet up to hang out in the neighbourhood every evening. Occasionally, we would challenge ourselves to approach and chat up with any young lady who caught our fancy. There were these two beautiful Igbo girls living adjacent to our compound. Their brother, a Yankee returnee, had a Lamborghini Pontiac, making the girls believe all young men in the neighbourhood were beneath them.

The few times the girls would come out to take a walk, we would observe them from a distance desiring to be their friend. We were generally good boys learning to fish is calm waters. Amongst us, I had the least courage and with near-zero interest in girls. One day, after much hyping and encouragement, I agreed to the prodding of the boys to approach the sisters. As I got close to them, with fear paralysing me, I said, 'Hello! Can I talk to you?' The younger of the girls looked at me and with a very stern tone and rich Igbo accent, she barked 'get-taa-way.'

I froze where I stood and didn't know what to do. My friends laughed out loud, worsening my predicament. That instant, it was like my brain switched to reset mode, and I learnt lessons I would never have learnt in the university. I learnt that there is a time and season for everything. Just one 'get-taa-way' made me realise that it was time to study and get a degree and not be interested in girls.

Sometimes, to make progress, we must unlearn certain things and remove clutters and distractions from our lives. We all need a 'get-taa-way' (a rebuke) to keep us focused. Just one embarrassing get-taa-way can save you a lifetime of regrets. If, like me, you've been stirred up to make the wrong move, one get-taa-way is all you need. Do not despise rebuke or chastisement, it could be what you need to reset your brain (Hebrews 12:5).

Stay hopeful. God's got our back.

Happy Sunday!

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

Sunday 7 April 2024

CELEBRATE YOUR WINS

 


I was thinking this morning..... Following the pulsating Chelsea vs Manchester United 7 goal thriller last Thursday, I woke up Friday morning to see the trending headline 'Onana @70.' My initial thought was that the trolls are at it again. How can Onana be 70 years old? But then the short narrative beneath the headline says, 'no be birthday o, na the number of goals conceded this season.'

I felt sorry for the Cameroonian born goalkeeper of Manchester United, Andre Onana, who has continually been the butt of jokes from online trolls. Why do they always pick on Onana? Put differently, why do we always pick on the failures of others rather than their wins?

When in November of 2023, Onana helped Manchester United to achieve their 500th clean sheet, the most in Premier League history, Onana@500 did not trend. When he played his 40th match for the Red Devil  not too long ago, Onana@40 did not trend. Good news, they say, don't sell. Bad news does.

We should learn to celebrate our wins and not wait for others. If you are waiting for the world to celebrate you, they will not. If you have been driving for 10 years without a crash, celebrate Crash-free@10. If you're 40 and have never spent a night on the hospital bed, celebrate Grace@40.

I have also learnt to celebrate others. Same Friday that negative minds were trending Onana@70, our colleague and friend, Mazi Ikechukwu Okafor was celebrating his 60th birthday and bowing out of paid employment after 26 years of meritorious service. I would rather celebrate Mazi@60 than Onana@70.

Mazi Ikechukwu Okafor is an ardent supporter of Arsenal Football Club (a true gunner) and a football buff. Whether celebrating a victory or enduring a defeat, Mazi's love for Arsenal is unwavering. I would rather celebrate Mazi@60 than Onana@70.

Kind words do not cost much but can accomplish so much. Hence, rather than join trolls to trend Onana@70, please join me to celebrate Mazi@60. Mazi Ikechukwu Okafor, like Philippians 1:3 says 'I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. Congratulations and have a blessed retirement.

Stay hopeful. God's got our back.

Happy Sunday!

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