Sunday, 18 August 2019

Marriage is like Rice

Ofada Rice

I was thinking this morning..... about the many sides of marriage and Nigerian rice. I recently watched a Netflix movie titled 'Otherhood.' It was about three mothers who felt bad that their sons had not remembered them on Mothers Day. They decided to pay them a surprise visit in the city. While in New York, they found out that their husbands had in the past cheated on them. One had found out soon after and divorced her husband pronto, while another discovered but forgave her husband. The third lost her husband many years ago and had only just found out about his infidelity. Ignorance was bliss. It happened that the three men committed the same sin, infidelity, but their wives responded differently. As I reflected on the trajectories of the three marriages, I remembered the statement I read recently that 'Marriage is like Abakiliki rice, no matter how well you wash it, there will be stone. But your ability to navigate between the rice and the stones will determine how far and well your marriage will go.' True talk!

As I taught the subject 'Success Concepts in Marriage' at the Bible School during the week, my mind began inditing this matter. While growing up, the only options of rice available to us were the local Ekpoma rice and imported Uncle Ben's rice. While about 20% of a bag of Ekpoma rice was stones, the Uncle Ben's was simply great. For that reason, Ekpoma rice was never our first choice, but we recognised that it was the smart option, going by our financial state. Therefore, for those in the valley of decision about marriage, know that marriage is like Ekpoma rice, it may some times not be desirable but it is necessary and expedient. One may say, I am broke and short of cash. Yes, cash may be short, that's why I said marriage is like Ekpoma rice, though the grain in short, it doesn't affect the quality of the rice.

My mind will not let the matter be. I thought again and remembered a lady, management staff in her organisation, holder of Masters degree that decided to marry a jobless school certificate holder. Every of her friend said she was bewitched but she went ahead. Years later, her marriage was one of the happiest amongst her circle. From that I learnt that Marriage is like Ofada rice, that it is unpolished does not mean it will not taste good. Ehnn, how can you say that? Do you mean education is not important in marriage? Someone may be thinking. To me, what is important is a polished character. I found out that respect and love are key ingredients in marriage, and agreed fully that Marriage is like Ofada rice, it is not the same if served without the Uma leaf (Thaumatococcus daniellii) and the 'Atarodo' (spicy) and 'Tatase' (sweet) pepper made sauce.

Abakaliki rice, Ekpoma rice and Ofada rice are great and nutritious, but I will never forget the pure joy we had eating Uncle Ben's rice as children. It was white, clean and smooth in the mouth, particularly when buttered. I therefore surmised that Marriage can be like Uncle Ben's rice, it can be long, polished and nice only if you make the necessary sacrifice in preparation. I would have ended my thought on a happy note, but just recalled the sad passing of a friend on Thursday. She had recently picked herself from an abusive and destructive marriage, but died leaving a 12 year old son. When I considered the contribution of the abusive marriage to her eventual death, I concluded that marriage can be like spoilt jollof rice. It doesn't matter whether the jollof was made from Abakaliki, Ofada or Uncle Ben's rice, if it is soured, you can never enjoy eating it. In all, I believe Hebrews 13:4 that says 'Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 11 August 2019

What Lies Dormant within Us

What comes out in hot water?

I was thinking this morning...... about what lies dormant within us. I returned from work tired last Tuesday and was on phone at about 8pm when I head a bang and the voice of someone shouting. I looked through my window and saw that a car had crashed through the dwarf fence separating my neighbour and I. I ran downstairs to see that my neighbour's son of about 13 years had crashed the parents new Mercedes Benz S-Class. In panic, he was shouting 'Oh God, God. Jesus no, no, no.' He went on and on even as I tried to calm him down. He was in shock and could not stop shouting and asking God and Jesus why. The number of 'God' and 'Jesus' he shouted was enough to start a church. I helped him move the car from the crashed fence, turned it off and asked him if he had learnt his lesson. Apparently, he had sneaked out with no one noticing to hone his driving skills since both parents were out. As I left him with his older sibblings, walking back and thanking God that no one was hurt, I could not help but wonder how the situation had brought out the spirituality in the young boy. All he was saying was 'Oh God, no, God, no. Jesus why?'

Really, tough situations can unearth what lies dormant within you. I can't in any way be regarded as a violent person because in all my life I can only remember just an occasion when I hit someone. That day has been a surprise to me till date. It was my first year at the University of Benin and I had some fellow squatters in the room in the second floor in Hall 2. Because I was squatting, the only available space for me to keep my provisions securely was the top section of the wardrobe. As a result of the financial drought I was faced with, Oxford Cabin biscuit and Blueband butter were my most precious meal. A packet and tin were my portion for one month. On this particular month, I had left the room for lectures. On my return, planning to snack on my Cabin biscuit plastered with butter, I observed my locker was open and my provisions plundered. In the room at the time were three of my room mates including one called Tunde. These guys were twice my size. I asked who caused the damage, but they laughed at me. I would've sulked or cried myself to sleep, if they had ended it at that point, but Tunde will not let it be. He teased and dared me, getting close to me in the process. From within me came strength like I have never known and I gave him a slap that blinded him for some minutes. When I was done, I knew I was a dead man except someone came to my help. God answered my prayers, because before Tunde could charge at me and throw me down from the second floor, his friends held him back. Though 'saved by the bell,' the provocation had brought out the violent strength I did not know was lying dormant within me.

As I thought about both experiences, I remembered the words of the longest serving First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt who said, 'A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.' I agreed with her but with a little variant. For me, 'Humans are like tea bags - you can't tell what is in them until they are in hot water.' 

The question for you is what comes out of you when in hot water? Virtue or vice? It is not how you act in cold water that counts but what comes out of you in hot waters. No wonder Mark 7:15 says 'Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Buns, Fish and Ministerial Mismatch

Nigerian buns

I was thinking this morning...... As we were driving back from church that Sunday, we were tired and hungry after having FaF (Fellowship-after-Fellowship). From the small snack shop in church, we picked up some buns and few bottles of Coke Zero and were munching as we headed home. Suddenly, I observed my wife smiling. In my curiosity, I promised to give her a penny for her thought. She grinned further and said 'I just remembered 'Osayi buns and fish.' 'Who is Osayi again?' I asked. 'Osayi was a lady that prepares and sells a special delicacy of buns and fish when we were kids at NIFOR, Edo state,' She answered. As I shuddered at the strange combination of buns and fish, my mind was literally pulled to my early days in Uniben. Our delicacy was not 'Osayi buns and fish,' but bread and moimoi. Oh my God, those three words conveyed such delight to me in those days. With all the noise of the daily frenzy in the University community of Ugbowo now dead as we go past midnight, the only students left reading in the lecture theatres were the 'efficos,' a group to which I was a proud member. Most nights, as I tried to concentrate, I was distracted by that soft voice echoing from along the earth road to Hall 2 Hostel, which was at least 500m away, announcing 'Buy your bread and moimoi. Bread and moimoi.' That announcement usually signals the end of 'jacking' for that night. It was time to go enjoy the special combo of bread and moimoi sandwich. Good old days.

Today, while bread and moimoi seems a compatible pair to me, buns and fish just ain't a good combo. I dropped the thought of food and went about my week. Then on Tuesday, 23rd July, after about 2 months of waiting for PMB to submit the ministerial list, it finally happened. Everyone was expecting an experienced team well spiced with technocrats, but the majority on the list were recycled politicians. Some with corruption allegations hanging over their heads. There were diverse reactions from Nigerians. While some gave the list the 'ewolokanmi' attitude, others thought it was uninspiring. To me, when I juxtapose the transformation we are looking forward to and the names on the list, what came to mind was 'Osayi buns and fish,' because It just doesn't match. 

From the 'Take a bow and go' sham at the Red Chamber of the Nigerian Senate to the United Kingdom where Kemi Badenoch, a British of Nigerian extraction, was selected into the cabinet of the new UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. I was excited and proud that a Nigerian was worthy enough to be so appointed. However, when I read that Kemi studied Computer Systems Engineering at University of Sussex, UK, and worked as a Software Engineer, but was given the position of Children's Minister, I was like 'hmm! Osayi buns and fish.'

But what do I know? Since I am not an epicure or gastronome (a lover of good food), I may never understand what I am missing in buns and fish nor understand the pure satisfaction my wife had while savouring steaming hot Osayi buns and fish as a child. If in these days of small chops and finger foods, you can mix and match as you wish, and still enjoy the food, I may not know what those that seem like ministerial mismatch would achieve in time. So, let those that enjoy bread and moimoi not look down on those that love Osayi buns and fish. Hence Roman's 14:3 says 'Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday, 28 July 2019

The Common Sense in Technicality

I was thinking this morning..... about the common sense in technicalities. In the last couple of weeks, the video clip of the senate confirmation hearing of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad where he struggled to explain the concept of 'legal technicality' had gone viral. The Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe had asked Tanko if he thought it made legal and moral sense to pervert the merit of cases before the Supreme Court on the basis of 'mere technicality.' Tanko had given a shocking response, saying 'Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field. Ask me anything about an aeroplane, I don’t know. Ask me to drive [sic] an aeroplane, I am sure if you are a passenger and they told you that the flight is going to be driven [sic] by Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko, I am sure you will get out of the plane because it is something that requires technicality and if I have any technicality, my technicality will only be limited to law.' Wow!

When people shouted, incompetence, mediocrity, witlessness, I struggled to understand where they are coming from. To help my case, I went back to read the judgement that Abaribe cited in his question to the CJN. The 2018 case of Akeredolu vs Abraham, where the Supreme Court had said, ‘technicality in the administration of justice shuts out justice.’ is therefore better to have a case heard and determined on its merit than to leave the court with the shield of victory obtained on mere technicality.' Still I did not understand the issue at stake enough to have an informed opinion. I was worried, how can I, the self-appointed undercover thought-police not understand a simple legal discourse? When I tried to understand why, it occurred to me that it requires technicality and my technicality is in Health and Safety.

In my struggle, I realised I was sweating. Could I be suffering from a fever? I placed the back of my right hand on my forehead to check my temperature. It was normal. So why am I sweating? I discovered, there was no electricity but I have been too engrossed in my reflection to notice the air conditioner (AC) go off. 'When are we going to come out of this 'Oh NEPA' and 'Up NEPA' curse?' I wondered. I thought the current Minister of Power had promised us constant electricity within 6 months? 'Surely it is not rocket science,' he was quoted to have said. Moreso, the Vice President only recently said N900 billion has been spent by this government on power generation. Then why are we not enjoying 24 hours electricity? As I considered it deeply, I concluded that in Nigeria, electricity generation and distribution is surely rocket science. I also agreed with the words of the CJN that it is something that requires technicality and if the Minister of Power has any technicality, his technicality will only be limited to law, because he is a lawyer.

It has become clear that no past leader of Nigeria should be blamed for the failed government they ran. Running a country like Nigeria requires technicality. Abacha, Babangida and Obasanjo had their career in the Military, so their technicality were in combat and military tactics. Goodluck Jonathan was a University teacher, so his technicality was limited to Zoology and Fisheries biology. They have no technicality in government or political science and should therefore be absolved of any wrongdoing. Ha Naija!

But wait a minute. I worry for Nigeria. I worry because should we continue to hide our failures and ignorance under technicalities, we will never move forward. What we need is common sense to seek the common good. If we all do, legal, scientific, political or even economic technicality will pale to insignificance. James 1:5 says 'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.' My prayer as I head to church this morning will be 'Oh God, grant me common sense that will trump technicalities.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Landing is Mandatory

I was thinking this morning..... about the imperative of landing safely. Last Friday, I read again a joke that has been around for a while now. It talks about an Aeroplane cleaner that was cleaning the Pilot's cockpit, when he saw a book titled, "HOW TO FLY AN AEROPLANE FOR BEGINNERS (Volume 1). He opened the first (1st) page which said: 'To start the engine, press the red button.' He did so, and the airplane engine started. He was happy and opened the next page. 'To get the airplane moving, press the blue button.' He did so, and the plane started moving at an amazing speed. He wanted to fly, so he opened the third (3rd) page which said: 'To let the airplane fly, please press the green button.' He did so and the plane started to fly. He was excited. After twenty (20) minutes of flying, he was satisfied, and wanted to land, so he decided to go to the fourth (4th) page and page four (4) says; 'To be able to know how to land a plane, please purchase Volume 2 at the nearest book shop!' The joke ended with the information 'He will be buried tomorrow.'

As I smiled at the joke, the closing words of my colleague in charge of Aviation, while giving safety tips to leaders recently came alive in my head. He had said 'When it comes to flying, taking-off is optional but landing is mandatory.' Hmm! You can decide to keep moving the plane on the runway and not take-off, but once you are airborne, you must land, because no creature was made to live permanently in the air, not even birds. His point was that before taking off, all that is required for safe landing must be considered and put in place.

Many people have taken off in business, career and education of their children, but are challenged with how to land, because they had not thought it through before they started. In my years of travelling around the world, I have met too many Nigerians that have left thriving careers and business in Nigeria due to temporary uncertainty and 'ported' to Yankee. They enjoyed the initial flight but suddenly realised that they have to land sometime and don't know how. It may seem they are on cruise control, but really, they are at a loss as to how they will land. 'Taking-off is optional but landing is mandatory.' 

Only recently, I received an email from my children school of a 30% increase in fees from next session and wondered how many parents will cope. Won't this increase cause the educational flight of some children to crash land? I imagined. I must at this time begin to adjust. As schools are closing for the session and plans are being made for summer holidays, remember that September is only two months away where another round of school fees will be demanded. Plan now so you won't go a borrowing in September. Remember, Taking-off is optional but landing is mandatory. 

If you think about it closely, you will agree that the question really is not about landing because everything in the air will land, but whether it lands safely and in one piece. No wonder Philippians 1:6 says 'For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.'

Happy Sunday. 

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

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