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

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.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

History Has No Emotions

History Has No Emotions
I was thinking this morning...... about history and emotions. I returned from church last Sunday to the very heartbreaking news of the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, on it's way from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. All 157 persons onboard were killed including 19 United Nations staff members and 2 Nigerians. A Slovakian lost his wife and children in the unfortunate incident. Sad!
As the world mourned, Nigerians, especially those from the literary community also mourned the loss of the Nigerian-born Canadian Professor, Pius Adesanmi. In the midst of the emotions, sorrow, tears and shock, people were still able to tell of how great a poet, writer, satirist, teacher, literary critic and father he was. Tributes flowed both on social and mainstream media. As I reflected on each tribute, it occurred to me that in spite of the emotions people felt, everyone spoke about what they knew about Pius Adesanmi and how he had impacted their lives. At this point, it dawned on me that everyone will be judged by the impact they make, good or bad, reminding me of a statement by Reno Omokri, that 'History has no emotions. It will judge all, both men and women as they deserve.'
As I thought about what will be said about each of us at the fullness of time, I remembered Mike Igini, the Akwa Ibom INEC REC, who has been in the eye of the storm in this election season. While I was in the University of Benin (Uniben), he was the SUG president that fought the then VC, Prof. Onokerhoraye to a standstill and championed the June 12 protests. In 2015, a REC for Cross River State, he attacked the ruling party for a shambolic primary and in 2019, true to his character, he remained resolute in the face of attacks from the ruling party of the day. Many, having been freshly baked in the oven of partisan politics may have a contrary opinion of  him, but one thing I know is that 'History has no emotions. It will judge all, both men and women as they deserve.' And to all the political actors whose actions and inactions are causing pain and death, in a short time the emotions will peel off and you will be judged by your actions. History has no emotions.
Think about how crookedness has become the way of life for many Nigerians. You give your mechanic money for original spare parts, he buys a fake or a first-grade China (whatever that means) to make extra money. You apply for building permit from the government. The officer in-charge is expected to visit the site before approval, but he chooses to collect bribe and ignore the process. Then the builders or even the bricklayer, also chose to cut corners and use less cement than recommended so he could make extra bucks. Down the road, something goes awfully wrong like the Ita-Faji school building collapse. Souls are and everyone mourns. Just know, that history has no emotions. Everyone, whose crookedness contributed to this disaster will be judged as they deserve. In my reflection, Ecclesiastes 11:3 came to mind, 'If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.' Deep! In closing my thoughts, I say, be mindful of where you will fall because 'History has no emotions.'
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Prescription for Foolishness

Prescription for Foolishness
I was thinking this morning...... about the prescription for foolishness. Sunken in my favourite 3-seater settee in front of the TV watching my stress douser, Tinsel, the enigmatic Brenda Mensah was fuming in this scene about Mrs Dieko asking for what she doesn't deserve. In her anger she sputtered 'where do people get prescription for foolishness?' I thought it was a very good question even though I couldn't come up with an answer immediately.
But really, where do people get prescription for foolishness? Finding the answer to that question might save the lives of many Nigerians. You know, I have been blessed with many occasions where I am confused as to how to celebrate a breakthrough. Shouting halleluyah followed by break dancing is usually the sequence of my response. So imagine my shock when I read the headline, 'Bala Haruna dies after swimming in and drinking gutter water to celebrate Buhari's re-election.' Really? Why didn't he jump up and down or do something sane to celebrate? Why must he drink gutter water? When I couldn't find an answer, I shook my head and asked 'where do people get prescription for foolishness?'
One location where this prescription will be in high demand is the Niger Delta. How do you explain that the two major Presidential candidates in the last election were from the North-East and North-West, the Vice Presidential candidates were from the South-West and South-East, yet over 90% of those that lost their lives on election day were from South-South. Why would the political leaders of Niger delta decide to turn their villages to battle grounds to settle the scores of others? Oh God, where can we get the prescription for foolishness?
In my search for an academic answer, I discovered that for the next Common Entrance examination, Zamfara, Taraba and Kebbi States combined, registered only 173 pupils compared to 7,500 students for Abuja alone. I am thinking, if these three States were able to mobilize a combined 2.1 million votes in the February 23 election but could not mobilize 200 children for common entrance exams, where lies our priority? But truly, where can we get prescription for foolishness?
Maybe the medical practitioners can help to prescribe a treatment drug. I found out that there are a total of 11,926 different drugs in the world, out of which 3,732 are approved. But not one can be prescribed for foolishness. As I closed my thoughts, I remembered the words of Galatians 3:3, 'Oh foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?' Who has bewitched Nigeria with foolishness? And I concluded that the cure for foolishness can only be the wisdom of God. Get a dose today.
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Ijebu Garri Syndrome

Ijebu Garri Syndrome

I was thinking this morning..... about Ijebu garri syndrome. Why is Ijebu garri on my mind this morning and not Itsekiri garri? Could it be because the Itsekiris are known to eat starch (Usin) more than garri? Anyway, as my colleagues and I  were driving back from lunch last Wednesday, the issue of the Presidential election results came up. As I listened to their views of what transpired, one said, 'The total votes of Party X is like Ijebu garri.' As I tried to deocde what she meant, she added. 'the number of votes rises as it moves from states to the INEC collation centre in Abuja.' My God! What an audacious deployment of simile.
As I smiled all the way back to the office, I couldn't shake off the Ijebu garri simile from my mind. Everyone familiar with the physical behavior of Ijebu garri will know that it is only a matter of time, Ijebu garri must rise when water is added to it. Truly, if you know you know. I thought within me, isn't the better part of the Nigeria elections like Ijebu garri? Think about this, in 2015, the number of political parties with candidates on the ballot for Presidency was 14 and now in 2019 it increased to 73. Tell me, what increases so fast within a short time, if not Ijebu garri? The increase is so comical that the acronym of one of the parties on the ballot is 'A.' Believe me, I have never seen a single letter acronym or a one word political party. This can only come about because of the 'Ijebu garri syndrome.'
Ijebu garri can rise sha, just like the electoral violence in Nigeria. In 2015, apart from the deaths caused by Boko Haram attacks, there were minimal deaths on election day but 4 years later, when we should be making progress, 47 persons lost their lives, according to the Situation Room. Sad but not strange because now we know that it is the Ijebu garri syndrome at play.
Thank God the Presidential and National Assembly elections are over and certificates issued. I now look forward to the Ijebu garri syndrome being exhibited positively in all aspects of the Nigerian life, particularly those affecting the masses. Starting with the electricity situation, we have only seen a modest increase of electricity generation and distribution in the last four years. Now we need the Ijebu garri syndrome to catch up with South Africa who currently generates about 51,000 megawatts. We also need this syndrome in the education and economic sectors. Things must change like Ijebu garri in the next four years, otherwise it would be a shame. If we can apply the Ijebu garri syndrome in elections, we must also do so in governance, after all, according to the late comedian, Jaguar, 'What is good for the Jews, is also good for Uganda.' Smiles...
It is unfortunate that instead of Nigeria to rise and shine as commanded in Isaiah 60:1, our leaders have chosen to allow negativity rise like Ijebu garri. May God help us.
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Fatberg and Sootberg

I was thinking this morning...... about the monsters we feed. During the week I read the Associated Press (AP) News where a British Official says a giant 'fatberg' measuring 64 meters (210 feet) long has been found blocking a sewer in southwestern England. 'Fatberg' is a term coined from 'Iceberg' to refer to a mass of hardened fat, oil and baby wipes. Andrew Roantree of South West Water says it will 'take our sewer team around eight weeks to dissect this monster in exceptionally challenging work conditions.' he urged the public not to pour grease down the drain or flush baby wipes down the toilet, adding; 'Don't feed the fatberg.'
As I reflected on this report, I was not interested in whether we have a similar challenge of blocked sewers in Nigeria because we do not have public sewers or underground drains in most cities. Everyone digs his own soak away pit and manages his 'shit.' Those who can't afford to have their own soak away pits, throw their wastes in open drains. yes, that is our lot. What however came to my mind was the parallel in our society, when I read his final statement, 'Don't feed the fatberg.' I recalled stepping out of the bathroom in my house in Port Harcourt and with wet bathroom slippers walked on the white tiles. When I looked behind me, with each step was a black patch on the floor. Wow! Black soot! Why do we still have this soot problem after so much protests to the government? What started as inconsequential effect of some youth engaging in illegal refinery (referred to as kpo-fire in the local parlance) have now become a major environmental challenge which I can now call a 'Sootberg.'
Now, because the NNPC-distributed kerosene and diesel don't get to a lot of communities in the riverine areas, whole communities get involved in 'kpo-fire' to run their lives and economy. They are feeding the sootberg. The community boys need to make fast money, so they damn the odds and move into the creeks to cook crude. They are feeding the sootberg. The security agents and politicians are involved. They collect 'tax' from the refiners, use them as political foot soldiers and turn the other way to allow them ply their illegal trade. They are feeding the sootberg. In all of these, the masses are the losers because in a few years the health effects of this pollution will be loud. I beg all those involved, save the lives of present generation and stop feeding the sootberg.
We feed the monster but know it not. Politics is here and it's been nothing but bitterness and intolerance. Rather than engaging in intellectual debate of their programmes, politicians are resorting to crude ways of winning. They believe, if they shut their opponents out from the public, their popularity will wane. So they violently resist their opponents from putting out their campaign posters or campaign in areas they control. You read reports like 'SDP agent stabbed in Kogi by suspected APC goons for pasting posters,' One killed in Rivers during fight over poster placement,' MC Oluomo stabbed, dozens injured as Lagos APC rally turns violent' and I am wondering, are we not feeding a monster here? In all of these, the disgruntled youths (scum of society) are the ones being used and I am saying, please don't feed the 'scumberg,' (not scumbag.)
Fatberg, sootberg and scumberg are modern day monsters that we must starve rather than feed. There may be many other monsters that are in your lives (lies, infidelity etc.) that I urge you to stop feeding but rather shatter their heads as was done in Psalms 74:13.
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Witch Hunting: Na Our Work o!

Witch-hunting: Na Our Work O!
I was thinking this morning..... about the exploits of 'village people' and the burden of blame. Of a truth, 2018 was a great year. One of great breakthroughs for many, but also one of great disappointment for others. While I know that many have testimonies to share about how they are the architect of their success, what is not common is people taking responsibility for their failures. It has become trendy for people to point fingers at who they believe is responsible for the unfortunate turn of events in their lives.
I heard of a man that the Lord had blessed with a great job and a lovely family. Suddenly, he said the boss annoyed him and decided to resign. The wife begged him not to but out of pride, he turned down all sensible pleas and left the organization. Months later, he couldn't care for his wife or pay his children school fees and the family crumbled. hen he sat back in his loneliness to reflect on where he missed it, he heard his 'village people' (household wickedness) saying 'Na our work o.' We know of the work of the 'village people.' but this trend of blaming every misfortune on others and 'village people' is becoming sickening.
Imagine Donald Trump riding on the Blame Game wagon. He decided to tag every of his misfortune including the Russia investigation as a 'witch hunt.' According to CNN news, Trump is reported to have used the term 'witch hunt' more than 60 times on twitter and the witches in America are angry. The witches in America came out openly on CNN to say that Trump's repeated use of the term 'witch hunt' throughout his presidency and most recently to describe the Russia investigation is disgraceful because none of it is their handiwork. The witches are saying 'No be our work o.' Hmm!!!
Then the Nigerian politicians took it to the next level. In 2018, NBS says unemployment rate rose from 18% to 23.1%, while the number of unemployed Nigerians jumped to 20.9 million. Poverty level increased and the degraded Boko Haram charged back with renewed vigor. Even the President and his lovely wife were at each other's throat concerning the cabal running this government. When people asked what is happening, the ruling party responded, 'Na their work o.' They said the PDP possibly working with some 'village people' are responsible. On the other hand, the Police and Dino Melaye are playing 'Tom & Jerry.' When you tell Dino to go answer to his charge, PDP will tell you it is the work of APC, their detractors. They will say 'Na their work o.'
But why won't the witches and 'village people' carry placard with the bold inscription 'No be our work o?' Ehnn? When so many are hiding under 'village people' to excuse their failures and wickedness. Imagine kidnappers, yahoo boys and ritualists that have met their Waterloo after so much atrocities, blaming 'village people' and saying 'Na their work o.' Mtcheww!!! This blame game must stop. Thank God for the fresh opportunity provided by the New Year to make a difference. This January, many churches are embarking on fasting and prayers. I enjoin you to participate to start the year strong, but after the spiritual exercise, roll up your sleeves and work for your success. Just like Ecclesiastes 9:10 says 'whatever you hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' Do not be lazy mentally or physically because whatever becomes of you tis 2019 'Na your work o.' Take responsibility for your actions because there is no room to blame 'village people' this year.
Happy Sunday.
......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.