Sunday 29 July 2018

Racing in an Obstacle-Laden Course

Gates Open for Horse Racing
I was thinking this morning... about racing in an obstacle-laden course. I set out for work as usual one fateful morning, driving 'jejelly.' Just about a kilometer from the turning to my office, a very fast moving Ford Ranger truck suddenly appeared by my left side, successfully making my humble Toyota corolla look like a welfare case. Before I could turn my head to see who was driving, he zoomed off overtaking over six vehicles in a go. But it didn't take five seconds, there was a police checkpoint and he was forced to stop. As I drove closer, wondering why he was racing on a road with lots of obstacles, the police cleared him and he zoomed out of sight, reminding me of the closing statement in the CNN Equestrian promo 'In horse racing, when the gates open, the race is on.'

When I got to the office and thought about my experience for some moments, flashes of recent political events in Nigeria began to roll by. I remembered the Ekiti election and how desperate politicians were willing to spend the money we do not have to build infrastructure, to bribe voters. I remembered the wave of defections by a number of National Assembly members and a governor at a tempo that will make the football transfer season look like child's play. I remembered Saraki's police invitation, the siege on his and Ekweremadu's residences. I remembered the arraignment of our own version of Charlie Chaplin, Dino Melaye, for attempted suicide and his reported 'kidnap.' The picture of many political visits to Aso Rock appeared on screen and I wondered if I was watching a Nollywood movie. I thought of it all and could not but agree with the statement that 'In horse racing, when the gates open, the race is on.' The political gates are open and the race for 2019 is on. Nollywood, please make this movie.

Life is a race and there are many gates. As I sat as one of the officials of two weddings last Saturday, I observed the sense of joy and accomplishment in the demeanour of the ladies and wondered if they realized that from that day, the gates are open and the race is on. The race for a peaceful and blissful marriage begins when the gate is open on the wedding day. For some, the gates open and they hesitate, relaxing and waiting for someone to tell them to run. No, no, no. They've missed it. When the gates open, the race is on.

While it may seem obvious to many that when the gates open, the race is on, it seems less obvious to some that they are on an obstacle course. The paths are filled with obstacles to stop you from finishing strong. There are the obstacles of in-laws and past male and female friends for those in the  marriage race, and the influence of retired generals and political gladiators for those in the race for 2019. In whichever race you are in, you need grace. Hence, Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, 'I returned and saw something under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.'

Run with sense and purpose and do not boast.

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 22 July 2018

Cloud Theft and Cyclic Paranoia

Stealing Clouds
I was thinking this morning.... about paranoia. I called an Uber ride on arrival in Lagos days ago. As soon as I settled into the back seat, I started feeling like I was being choked. I quickly looked around to see if someone was stealing my oxygen, but realized it was a pungent smell within the car that was choking me. But why would I even imagine that someone could steal the oxygen I breath? Could I be suffering from paranoia? Most definitely not, but I suspect I was influenced to have that thought after reading, two weeks ago, about the Iranian General that accused Israel of manipulating weather to prevent rain over the Islamic Republic.

Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Irans's Civil Defence Organisation told a press conference, 'The changing climate in Iran is suspect. Israel and another country in the region have joint teams which work to ensure clouds entering Iranian skies are unable to release rain. On top of that, we are facing the issue of cloud and snow theft.' How can anyone steal clouds? I imagined. I was immediately reminded of the dilemma of the Electric Eels (Electrophorus electricus) which are mostly blind, even though they are not born blind. Sure you are wondering why.

I found out the Electric eels have three pairs of abdominal organs that produce electricity as a form of defensive mechanism against predators. Whenever the animal is under attack, it activates, an electric field of up to 860 Volts (that is nearly 4 times the 220V electricity supplied to our homes) to electrocute its attacker. The Eel also requires rising to the surface of the water every 10mins in order to take in oxygen before going back under the water. Due to this routine, the fish has developed a mindset that makes it think it is vulnerable to attack due to its constant coming up to breathe, and hence it is always on a 'suspicion mission.' It is always and constantly electrocuting its environment even when it is not under attack. The sad effect of this is that in the course of continuous electrocuting of its environment, its eyes are also electrocuted and hence its blindness. As it swims around blindly and only using its sense of feel and ears and being unable to see, it goes into more suspicion and every movement it feels in the waters, it releases further electric shock, worsening its plight. The animal thus goes into a cyclic paranoia and self infliction of pain causing it to be more blind irreversibly.

I believe the Iranian general is suffering from self activated cyclic paranoia, but are most people in Nigeria not in the same boat? It is so disgusting how we have reduced our political discourse to 'hailers' and 'wailers.' If you criticize the current government, you are labeled a wailer and supporter of looters and if you are a supporter of this government, you are a hailer and either an Islamist or a herdsman. We have become blind as a nation from our mutual suspicion that we can no longer see the looting and maladministration by professional politicians. They sold us the dummy of suspicion and it has activated a cyclic paranoia that now makes us wink at and become numb to the killings around us. Very soon somebody will say it is Benue people sending flood to the President home State of Katsina just to target him or that the opposition is stealing the water in Lake Chad consequently resulting in drought and the herdsmen crisis. Cyclic paranoia.

We need to end this paranoia so we could see clearly to save our nation for our children sake, by taking the advise of Matthew 7:5, 'Thou hypocrite, first get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.' Enough of our cyclic paranoia!

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 15 July 2018

Nurse, care and the Trust we Betray

Nurses, Care and Trust
I was thinking this morning... about nurses, care and the trust we betray. Yes, I know nurse show care and relax, none has betrayed my trust. But on the 5th of July, news broke of a London-based nurse sentenced to 14 years in prison for subjecting five young Nigerian women to mystical, violent rituals and trafficking them to Germany, where they are forced to work as prostitutes. According to the UK prosecutors, Josephine Iyamu, who is 51, subjected the women to a 'juju' ceremony with a voodoo priest where they were forced to drink blood containing worms, eat chicken heart, have their skin cut with razor blade and made to take oaths. Hmm!!! As I pondered on the news, I imagined what chicken heart will taste like and wondered if in all my years of feasting on chicken, I have inadvertently eaten the heart. believe me, I never knew chicken heart had such mystical significance. What I will never understand though is how a nurse that should care and facilitate healing would make someone to drink blood containing worms. As I shouted 'eeww' in disgust, I remembered a question that someone had asked recently, 'Can you trust a nurse whose husband sells coffins?'

The nurse is supposed to care for her patient, but she also cares for her husband and will want him to be successful in business. Some may argue that if she kills the patient, there is no guarantee that the coffin will be bought from her husband, that is of course if they decide to bury the dead in a coffin. But the point is, why should a nurse even think of killing his or her patient because of some secondary benefit? I never thought it was possible until I read the news last Wednesday 11th July of a nurse in Japan that told police that she sped up the deaths of at least 20 patients to avoid having to tell their families that their loved ones died while she was working.

Ayumi Kuboki, 31, told investigators that informing families of a patient's death was a burden and in order to avoid the responsibility, she poisoned the drips of patients near death with an antiseptic so that they would die at a time when another nurse would have to tell the family. As I said 'na wao,' I was still asking myself, 'can you trust a nurse whose husband sells coffins?'

Before I could answer, I recalled the events of Tuesday 10th of July, when the APC was having the grand finale of their governorship rally in Ado-Ekiti with the President, Governors and other high profile APC leaders in attendance. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, was to give his speech in support of the APC candidate, Kayode Fayemi. He bizarrely urged the crowd to vote for the incumbent, Ayodele Fayose. He had said, 'If you marry two wives, you will know the one that is good, Fayose is the good one. He cooks, gives his husband food and who is not troublesome. So you must bring back Fayose on Saturday.' While many were shocked and the social media went haywire, I remembered that Ngige and Fayose were pioneer members of PDP. They were both elected governors under PDP in 2003 and were both removed from office in 2006. Their relationship can be akin to that of husband and wife. So, as Ngige spoke knowingly or unknowingly in favour of Fayose, APC leaders were saying, what a blunder, I am saying 'how can one trust a nurse whose husband sells coffins?'

The truth is, many people entrusted with the burden of care had betrayed that trust for what some in my circle will call 'earthly things.' Many have betrayed their oath of office, family and friends because of primordial sentiments and attachments. No wonder the Bible asked in Luke 22:48 'Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?' I urge you to take the high road today even as you ponder on the question 'would you trust a nurse whose husband sells coffins?'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 8 July 2018

The Value of a Penny

It Begins with Just A Penny
I was thinking this morning....about the value of a penny. One of the most simple but profound message I have gotten from any promo on TV is from the Richard Quest promo of his programme 'Quest Means Business' on CNN. In the promo, he was walking into a bank behind a lady and she dropped a penny. Richard picked up the penny and attempted to hand it back to the lady, but she waved it off, saying 'oh, it is just a penny.' In shock, Richard Quest exclaimed 'Just a Penny?' He ended the promo by explaining that whether you are writing your first cheque or cashing a big cheque, it all begins with a humble penny.

It got me thinking of how true that is in life. About 10 years ago, my wife and I started observing that when our little boy of 6 years is angry, he clenches his teeth, roars and want to slam the door. This was strange and we were worried. Initially, we were tempted to say, oh, he is just a child and will outgrow it,' but being 'men of the Spirit,' we immediately dealt with it with the help of God and we never saw that trait again. Many times we ignore the little errors we observe and regard them as nothingness, until they become big problems. Oh, in the words of Richard Quest, 'It all begins with just a penny.'

In 2006, when political kidnapping was introduced by the Niger Delta militants, targeting foreigners mainly to draw attention to their plight, the world bought it and gave them prime time. While many justified this crime in their hearts as good for these oyinbo people that came to take our jobs, others gave it the 'Ewolokanmi attitude.' The government saw it as nothing to worry about as it was 'just a penny.' The kidnapping trend didn't take long to spread throughout the country extending to places as far as Kano and Kaduna. South-East and South-South Nigeria became known as the kidnappers' playgrounds of Nigeria. Today everyone is a target, traditional rulers, politicians, men of God, students, unemployed and even babies. It is so bad that while Mikel Obi was on his way to the stadium in far away Russia, for our decisive match against Argentina, to represent his fatherland, his father was being kidnapped back home. Yes, it is that bad, but 'it all begins with just a penny.'

In the Nigeria of the seventies, national issues were tackled with little or no colouration. Every challenge was in black and white. We lived and did business peacefully in whatever State we chose. Suddenly, at the slightest provocation, the 'foreigners' in our midst are attacked and their goods plundered. When a few spoke out, they were ignored and the attack explained as just a little disagreement. Really? Just a little disagreement? Nothing was done to address the root cause. Today, whole indigenous communities are destroyed in one night, their villages occupied and no one is brought to book. Believe me, 'it all begins with just a penny.'

We all regularly say, 'oh, it is just a penny' in different ways. At home, in the office or even in church, we wave off that subtle signal that something is wrong, and keep doing so until it is time for what we call 'yawa race' in Warri. Songs of Solomon 2:15 says 'Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.' So, like Richard Quest, I urge you to mean business by focusing on and dealing with the little problem before they spoil your vines.

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 1 July 2018

Corn-fed Chicken and Mental Toughness

I was thinking this morning... about corn-fed chicken and mental toughness. I was at a business lunch recently with guests from Asia, Europe and Nigeria. It was a typical oyinbo lunch laced with 'orishirishi,' but one item on the menu caught the attention of the Nigerians around the table. We were to be served 'corn-fed chicken.' Which one is corn-fed or grass-fed chicken again? I wondered. Why would the chef take the trouble to tell us what the chicken is fed with? It made me reminisce about my early years in Warri.

Back in those days, chicken farming was the most common form of farming. There are two types of chicken, native chicken popularly called fowl (pronounced 'farwoe') and the birds kept in cages, simply referred to as chicken. The fowls were made to fend for themselves by roaming the neighborhood for food. They scavenge in the open and survive on anything and everything in the neighborhood. They eat the few grains of rice and corn that may have fallen from the children portion, but also eat yam, garri and in cases of serious lack, grass. Their chicks (called farwoe-pikin) were at the mercy of hawks popularly called 'ole farwoe.' The 'chicken' on the other hand were raised in cages and are fed with corn, rice grains and some mixture we referred to as 'farwoe food.' Today, chicken are no longer bred that way. Parent stock produces fertilized eggs which in a few weeks grow to become broilers under highly controlled environment. In unregulated economies, the fertilized eggs are injected with hormones or steroids to hasten the growth process and in a few days, they are ready to be eaten.

I have come to realize that what the chicken is fed with determines their resilience and the strength of their meat. The 'farwoes' were resilient, surviving very harsh conditions and disease, and their meat is usually tough to eat. Unlike the chicken of today, you cough around them and they die in thousands and their meat? soft and breaks down with extra heat. No wonder the chef wanted us to know that the chicken we were about to eat was corn-fed and not hormones-enhanced.

It is what you feed yourself with that will determine how resilient you will be. As I thought on this, I remembered our match with Argentina and wondered why our 'oyinbo wall' couldn't hold on for another 10mins max, having done a fantastic job for over 80mins. As they crumbled from the heat of Lionel Messi and Marcos Rojo, I remembered an appeal someone was making on Sports Radio about the importance of a psychologist in the team. Were the boys properly fed in a controlled environment or they were left to mentally feed themselves? What exactly were the boys fed with that made them soft? As I questioned why the boys crumbled under heat, I understood the importance of the phrase 'corn-fed chicken.'

Watch what you feed your body or mind with because it determines your physical and mental resilience. While some will say garbage in, garbage out, 1st Corinthians 3:2 says 'I gave you milk to drink, and not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able.' My prayer is that unlike the Super eagles, you will be fed rightly so you can be resilient enough to overcome the next challenge.
Happy Sunday.
....Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.