Sunday 26 August 2018

Indulging Our Appetites

I was thinking this morning..... about surfeiting. I am not referring to surfing, because I know you may still be in summer mode. Surfeiting means indulging in one's appetites excessively. It could be food or drink or many other things.

During my final days in the University of Benin, a professor whose name I can't readily remember gave an Inaugural Lecture titled 'They are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing.' This topic, which I later confirmed to be a quote by William Shakespeare, was quite intriguing to me at the time, explaining why it got stuck in my memory these past 27 or so years. At that time, it was difficult for me to imagine how too much food can make anyone sick, because as students, we never had enough to eat. In the closing days of each semester, when the 'allawi' is finished, our daily feeding plan switches to 'Zero-Pawpaw-Water.' Of course with the pawpaw coming free charge from the trees behind our hostel block. Yes, it is true. But Wey, where are you going with this reminiscing? I will tell you.

A few days ago, I was having this jollof rice for dinner. It was so scrumptious, that I ate more than my regular portion and went to bed shortly after. Then wahala started. I was so uncomfortable through the night, I was asking myself 'who send me?' It was the same feeling you have when you go to bed hungry. I woke up and agreed with the truism that 'They are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing.'

Look around and you will find this truism everywhere. If you are a believer in good governance and democracy, you might be wondering why you have been having this feeling of nausea in recent times. I will tell you. It is because you have been following the news of political events in Nigeria. The sheer appetite of the politicians for power is as amazing as it is insatiable. They want to hold on to power by all means, scheming and killing, if they have to. They have taken in too much power, and are power-drunk and now sick and suffering from power poisoning (similar to alcohol poisoning). The man on the streets, on the other hand is even more sick from power deficiency, a disease I call 'powershiokor.' He lacks appetite for power and therefore suffering the effect. 'They are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing.'

If you have no appetite for power, do you have appetite for news about politics and gist in the social media? While the majority of rural Nigerians are sick from ignorance and starved of information, those at the city centers are sick from information overload, made up of real news, fake news and sheer propaganda. Truly, 'They are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing.' No wonder Luke 21:34 says, 'And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.' Rather than indulge in too much food or drink or power, feed your faith and your fears will starve to death. A word is enough for the wise.

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 19 August 2018

Yellow - The Attraction and the Danger

Yellow Cabs
I was thinking this morning.... about yellow. I was in the midst of a mixed group of persons recently, when I heard a guy call out to another in a manner I have not heard in a long while. He had said, 'Yellow, please come.' Since I grew up in Nigeria, I knew 'Yellow' was not his name, but a call-name for a light complexioned person.

A light skinned man or woman in Nigeria is described as a yellow man or woman and if the person is extremely light, he or she is called 'yellow pawpaw.' This moniker was so common in those days that there was a song, a classic released by Kofi Sammy in 1995, that goes like 'Yellow Sisi dey for corner; Put e hand for jaw; Na wetin dey cause am o; Na money palava.' Hmm!!! Only those born before the nineties will understand. As I wondered if describing someone as yellow was limited to Nigeria, I found out that in the early 20th Century, 'High yellow' was a term sometimes used to describe light skinned African-Americans, even though I am at a loss as to the reason for the 'high' before the yellow.

As a young man, I always wondered why it seems 'yellow ladies' are more attractive than dark skinned ladies. As I acquired more knowledge with time, I found out why. It is the same reason warning signs are on yellow background. Same reason so many taxicabs in Lagos, Singapore, New York and many other cities around the world are painted yellow. But what is the reason, you may be asking impatiently? Like the Yorubas will say, 'Farabale,' meaning 'calm down or relax.'

The Business Insider revealed why yellow is the most preferred colour for taxicabs worldwide and the reason is because yellow cabs have fewer accidents. The have few accidents because yellow cabs are easier to see and therefore have a lower chance of being hit. Trust me, this was backed up by research. But if this is true around the world, why is it different in Nigeria? Why are the yellow cabs, danfo and molue, in Lagos so badly dented? My thinking is that most of the Nigerian drivers are, amongst other factors, distracted by the many yellow ladies that have taken to standing along the road for reasons best known to them. Believe me, I am not furthering the cause of 'yellow journalism' by my line of thought, I am only pointing out that yellow by itself is an attractive primary colour but if you mix it with magenta, you will see red, like many Lagos drivers have.

You probably are like yellow, attracting the attention of everyone, but are you causing people to stumble or you are passing a valuable message? Luke 17:1 says, 'Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.'

As I made up my mind to wear this nice yellow tie this morning, I remembered an old time joke in the years preceding mobile phones, where a local boy was asked to make a sentence with three colours. The boy stood up and confidently said, 'Yesterday in my uncles's house, the phone ring 'green,' and I 'pink' up the phone and said 'yellow.' Feel free to smile and have a yellow-filled Sunday.

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

Sunday 12 August 2018

Of Surname and Your Identity

I was thinking this morning.... about surname or last name. Every now and then, someone will ask me to pronounce my surname because they think it is a difficult one. It is so bad that a colleague of mine refers to me as the man with a surname with so many vowels. While I got used to comments about my surname over the years, I never knew there were people in more precarious situation, that do not have a fixed surname and have to choose a surname anytime a child is born to the family. Na wa o! Why should that be when the child is not born to an unknown father or he or she is not 'born throway' like we call it in Warri?

This thought only came to me when I read the headline 'Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's children's surname will probably be this.' For the first time in all my life, I asked myself what the surname of Queen Elizabeth is but could not detect a whiff of knowledge about it. Hmm!!! You probably are thinking of what it is but wouldn't know either because the world never refer to the royal family by anything other than their title and first names. That is why we only know of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Princess Diana etc.

It is common in Nigeria to have children named after locations, events and situations, hence a classmate of mine is called 'Conference' and another 'Independence,' but it is rare to find cousins from three brothers all bearing different last names. This is the case with the grand children of Queen Elizabeth. When Meghan and Harry eventually have children, they will have a surname different from that of their cousins, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Princess Louis, despite the fact that their fathers are brothers. I am sure you might be thinking, 'what is their problem?' You are not alone.

As I stayed on that thought, I discovered that the surname of the royal family is Mountbatten-Windsor, but the children don't use this last name at school to help them blend into the school environment. Rather, they use the title of their parents. For example, William and Harry do go by the surname of 'Wales' because their parents are Duke and Duchess of Wales, while Prince George, the son of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge was given the surname 'Cambridge' when he started school last September. So, it is believed that the surname of the children of Meghan and Harry will be 'Sussex' since they are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Interesting, right?
The practice by the English monarchy of making their children take a surname that relates to their title rather than directly to monarchy got me thinking about how interesting it will be if we borrow same in Nigeria. The children of Jos king would have gone by the surname of 'Gbong-Gwom' while the son of the Oba of Benin will for example be called 'Nosa Uku-Akpolokpolor.' Wahala for dey sha.
The truth is, it doesn't matter whether your last name is according to the family surname or a title, what is important is to know who you are, whose child you are and fulfill destiny. Charles, William and Harry don't have to answer the surname Mountbatten-Windsor to know they are royalty. Hence Isaiah 45:4 says, 'For the sake of my servant Jacob, And of Israel My chosen, I call also thee by thy name, I surname thee, And thou hast not known me.' Do you know who you are or you need your surname to remind you?
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday 5 August 2018

Man, Animals and Our Ability to Fly

The Flying Whale
I was thinking this morning.... about flying. While growing up as a little boy in Warri in the late seventies, flying was not what anybody wanted to be associated with because of the negative connotations. Though the Warri airstrip was created in the 1960s, followed by the upgrade of the Benin Airport and subsequent handover to the Nigeria Airport Authority (NAA) in 1978, air travel was the exclusive preserve of a handful. So most children in the then Bendel State knew little or nothing about aircraft or air travel. One craft that was however common and talked about a lot particularly when adults quarrel and fight is 'witchcraft.' So when you talk about flying, you could be misunderstood to be a 'kpiance' which is what witches and wizards were referred to in those days in Warri. So imagine my initial reticence as I got educated, when people desire and verbalize their intention to be high flyers. Why and how would anyone want to fly when he or she is not a 'kpiance?' Such were the days of our ignorance.

Fast forward 40 years to 2018, where I sat reading an aviation incident report where a passenger onboard a flight had grabbed and bitten a fellow passenger during take off. Having investigated the root cause of the incident, the investigation lead had surmised, 'Phobic passengers are part of the business of air transport as most people express varying degrees of fear. This is for the obvious reason that humans are not meant to fly.' Hmm!!! As I read the statement that 'humans are not meant to fly,' I smiled and saw a subtle explanation for why anyone with the ability or capability to fly in those days is regarded as a 'kpiance.' That is because only birds and insects are created to fly and humans are neither.

If humans are not meant to fly, why do people desire to be high flyers? In any case, many braved it and became high flyers, taking to the skies and brought a lot of advancement in air travel. Today, humans are now traveling from one end of the earth to another in crafts designed to look like birds. It is a no-brainer why flying crafts are designed in the shape of birds, because birds are created with the natural ability to fly. You will now understand my discomfort when you look to the skies these days and find flying crafts of irregular shapes (drones) and of recent, crafts designed to look like an aquatic animal.

It gives one the feeling that we are violating our boundaries. This was my thought when I read the headline 'Airbus launch new Beluga XL plane that looks like a whale.' Why would they design a plane in the shape of an animal that lacks the capacity to fly? I dey fear o!!! The new cargo aircraft made by the European Aeroplane Company, Airbus is deliberately designed  and decorated to look like a gigantic whale and named after the Beluga whale or white whale (Delphinapterus Lucas).

I am really thinking about how confused some children will be in the near future about who runs the skies. Is it the birds that were created for the skies or the terrestrial beings like humans that have taken to the skies in amazing ways or could it be the aquatic beings that are beginning to find their way up there? As it stands, the skies have become the playground of terrestrial and aquatic animals.

Irrespective of whether you are a high flyer or flying below the radar, thank God that we can fly and not be referred to as 'kpiance.' But before you fly, make sure that you are mentally ready, to avoid stories that touch. And if you really want to be a high flyer, just make sure you are not biting anyone on your way up. As for me this Sunday morning, amidst all the depressing news of  8 being greater than 22 in Nigeria, Psalms 55;6 has given me a getaway plan. It says, 'I said, oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.' Oh believe me, I would fly to the Caribbean or the Maldives for a great summer vacation and a well deserved rest. For now, it's time to go to church, by road.

Happy Sunday.

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