Sunday 29 September 2019

The Life in Our Years

Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix 

I was thinking this morning.... about the life in our years. From where I sat, I observed the lugubrious look on everyone as they listened to the priest give the homily at the Service of Songs (SOS) of a friend last Wednesday in Port Harcourt. She was only 51 years but had lived a good life. Two days later, being Friday, I was in Lagos to accompany a brother in Church to commit the dear wife to mother earth. She was just 50 years. Unlike in Port Harcourt where I was part of the crowd, here in Lagos, I was assigned the unenviable task of praying for the family at the graveside. It is well! At both occasions, I observed how so many energetic souls among the lot that had gathered to pay their last respect have suddenly been humbled and sobered up by that bitter coffee called death. Like we say in Warri, 'all our katikati fade sharp sharp.' 

In our sobered state, the Priest at the SOS in Port Harcourt, having made little or no effort to get everyone's attention, had said among so many other words 'It is not the years of our life that matters but the life in our years.' The statement may have been lost on others but it got hold of me. I took a deep breathe, bowed my head and pondered on those words for days. Though both ladies had transited in the prime of their lives, anyone close to them can attest that they had a rich vein of life in their years.

Why do we have to be reminded that it is the life in our years that matters most and not the years of our life? Shouldn't we be focusing on how much life we are infusing into the years rather than merely counting the years of our life? Many had prayed and worked for years upon years but have given little attention to actually living and impacting those around them. Borrowing from Airtel advert, the years of our life is good, but the life in our years is great. As I thought about the years of our life and the life in our years, my mind began constructing what eventually turned out to be 'Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix.'

Many are blessed with so many years of their life but did not infuse life in their years. I recall a colleague that had worked so hard, deferring family vacations or any such luxury. His plan was to save up funds until he hit a magic threshold that will make him live a rich life after retirement. Unfortunately, he passed on years before retirement. Truly it is not the years of our life that matters but the life in our years. 

According to Wey Mey's Life Impact Matrix, someone that has impacted humanity but die at 50, would have had more life in his years than another that lived just for himself for 100 years. It is the life in our years that counts and not just the years of our life. The life in our years is measured by the impact you are making on your family, friends and humanity. Where do you stand? My prayer for you is according to Proverbs 3:2 'For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 22 September 2019

Some Mothers Do Have Them

The odd one out
I was thinking this morning... I was chilling with my wife last Sunday evening when I received an unexpected phone call from a senior friend, whom I have not seen in over 20 years. To what do I owe this call? What could be amiss? I wondered. After exchanging warm greetings, he revealed why he called. He was looking for his younger brother, who was my classmate in secondary school. The brother had cut off all ties with the family and gone underground for years. He told me the family was worried about his welfare and wanted to know he was fine. Having assured him that I spoke with his brother about 6 weeks ago, he heaved a sigh of relief, told me about an uncle that had a similar strange behaviour and asked in conclusion 'why do families always have one of such?' At this point, I remembered the popular BBC sitcom of the 70s, shown in Nigeria in the 80s titled 'Some Mothers Do Have Them.'

'Some Mothers Do Have Them' is the story of Frank Spencer, a well-meaning yet accident-prone chap who tries his best - and often fails - to please everyone he encounters. His wife, long-suffering Betty, loves Frank very much and dutifully deals with the constant anxiety his behaviour creates for her. As I listened to my senior friend, I thought of a doctor and professor parent that gave birth to five children. All but one of them were brilliant, coming tops in their chosen course at the university. But one is an NFA (No Future Ambition), refusing to go to school nor learn a trade. How can that be? 'Is this child really mine?' One of the parents imagined. Don't despair, what I know is that 'some mothers do have them.'

The manifestations of these kids, the odd one out, differ from family to family. For one family, it is that stubborn child or the one that refuses to go to school. For another, he is the son with criminal tendencies or the daughter that chose to be a 'runs girl.' Yet for others, it is that sick or physically challenged child. I am referring to that one child of the family that gives you so much headache or heartache, that embarrasses you every so often. Many have wished and prayed that the child is different and compliant like others. Do not despair but be comforted by the fact that His grace is sufficient and by the knowledge that some mothers do have them.

But why are they different from the pack? While some believe that their destinies were corrupted like a computer file, others believe they were factory errors. They say just like a machine programmed to fill up bottles with pre-measured volumes will occasionally fill one bottle halfway, so one in a number of kids born will be an outlier. They call this blip 'Factory error.' Hmm!! I don't believe any human is an error, because the bible says we were fearfully and wonderfully made. But could there be a scientific explanation to this phenomenon? Is there a pattern? How come a parent have four kids, and there is an odd one, while another has ten and all are great? Truly, some mothers do have them.

I know many parents, like long-suffering Betty, are frustrated with these kids, the odd one out and probably asking God why. These children, brothers or sisters of ours are not strange, and it may seem their glory is lost but in reality, they are just different. Show them equal love no matter how tough. If none of your children gives you heartache, thank God. But if one is a prayer point, then know that though Hosea 9:11 says 'As for Ephraim their glory shall fly away like a bird from the birth and from the womb and from the conception.' I pray that their glory shall be restored. Don't despair because some mothers do have them.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 14 September 2019

Xenophobia and the Fears Killing Africa

I was thinking this morning..... about Xenophobia and the fear that is killing Africa. Last week Saturday, I needed to buy an item from Game Shop at the mall in my axis of Lagos and was getting ready to drive out when I was reminded that the better part of the mall which also houses Shoprite remains shut. 'How can we be punishing ourselves like this?' I had quipped. 'Our best efforts thus far at decent shopping is at the verge of being killed. Is this reprisal attack on South African firms really hurting South Africans as much as it is hurting Nigerians? I asked in frustration, looking at my young wife. I quickly let it be when my wife gave me a dissenting look, like 'really, is that your response to the savage attack on Nigerians in South Africa?'

But what's really going on? In the last two weeks, xenophobia has been trending on Google, mainstream and social media. News of South Africans attacking foreign nationals in their nation particularly in Johannesburg region has been making headlines. At the last count there were 11 dead, many wounded and millions of dollars lost to looting and burning of the livelihoods of many, including losses from reprisal attacks in Nigeria. While most Nigerians were spitting venom against the South African rascals, many missed the little interesting information coming from the Nigerian response.

First, those that looted and stole from Shoprite in Lagos left the bookshelf untouched. Why would the people focus on looting perishables and ignore the priceless value in books? Then began the musing as I took a deep dive as to the reason why? The fear of books....I would have called it 'bookophobia' but the English man has a word for it, 'Bibliophobia.' This is an unusual phobia of books. Haha!!! I get it, the problem is not xenophobia but bibliophobia. It must be bibliophobia that the South Africans are suffering from. If they had been reading books, they would have discovered the role Nigerians and other Africans played in their independence from apartheid. When a people don't read, they will eventually turn against each other out of ignorance.

Governments of different countries responded to the xenophobia incident in different ways. While Botswana, Zambia and Lesotho immediately issued travel alerts to its citizens, others withdrew their reps from the World Economic Forum (WEF) planned for South Africa. The Federal government of Nigeria also took some steps, but when I read the Daily Trust report that the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised the Federal government to take steps to nationalise all South African companies operating in Nigeria to protest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, I was like wow! Why should he make that suggestion? Nothing came to mind but 'Sophophobia.' Sophophobia is the fear of knowledge or learning. Our leaders must be suffering from Sophophobia, they are not learning otherwise they would have learnt from the experience of Zimbabwe and Mugabe that forcefully nationalised foreign companies. If that was farfetched, they should have learnt from the bungling of the P&ID contract that has resulted in over $9 billion penalty against Nigeria.

When a people suffers from bibliophobia and their leaders sophophobia, the natural outcome will be xenophobia. Suffice to say that at the root of xenophobia is bibliophobia and sophophobia. Truth is, I do not worry much about the xenophobia in South Africa, I am rather troubled by the local xenophobia of a scale like we have never seen before, Fulaniphobia in southern Nigeria, Ibophobia in far north, itsekiriphobia in Gbaramatu kingdom, Jukunphobia in Tiv land etc. The signs are ominous if we do not address the unhealthy fears of bibliophobia and sophophobia. Our people and leaders must read books to be free. No wonder Hosea 4:6 says 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.' Read for knowledge to end domestic and international xenophobia.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 7 September 2019

Life is a Class of One

Picnic-themed Backyard Reception 

I was thinking this morning..... about our speed in this race of life. Last Sunday, I was privileged to attend the wedding of the daughter of my good friend and former classmate in the University. As I sat as part of the 80+ guests at the picnic-themed backyard reception, listening to the proud MOB (mother of the bride) giving her speech, I reflected on how far we've come as former classmates in Uniben. I considered how her children are of marriage-able age (the youngest just turned 20), while mine are still teenagers. I recalled another classmate of ours whose son just graduated as a medical doctor, but mine just about entering the University. As I pondered on why it seems I am lagging behind, the face of another of our classmate flashed by and I was reminded that his children are still in Primary school. At this point, it dawned on me that though we were all classmates and graduated together in 1991, life has shuffled us and placed us in different classes today. We were classmates in school, but not classmates in life. Everyone has his unique class. I concluded that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one.

Life is a class of one. Hmm!!! That conclusion held me down for a bit. Ten years after I got employed in my dream job, getting a second promotion became a prayer point. One day, a colleague that we came in together on same level walked up to me and said 'Bros, na wao. We came in together and I have gotten three promotions and you, just one. Is there something you are not doing?' I left him feeling bad but not for long because soon after, I realised that in the school of life there are no classmates. Life is a class of one. He is on his path while I am on mine.

Have you considered why, from the same branch of a tree you have both ripe and unripe fruits? The seeds were released same time, exposed to same nutrients and environmental conditions but yet some ripen before others. Identical twins that deliberately wait for each other to be in the same class, engage in the same business like P-Square (Peter and Paul Okoye) and even wed on the same day, will not get their wives pregnant on the same day. Life is a differentiator. My mind is made up that Life is a class of one.

If it is true that in the school of life there are no classmates, because Life is a class of one, then why do we look at another and feel inadquate, like we are not where we should be? Why would someone that has been privileged to be in a somewhat lofty position look down on others like he is superior in some way? Life is a class of one. I am in the class God wants me to be and you are in yours. Do not sweat over the class others are in, because there are no classmates in life. If you like, give yourself double promotion like we do in those days, life will eventually place you in the class you are meant to be.

Do not compare yourself with anyone, because you are in a class of one. There are no classmates in life. No wonder 2nd Corinthians 10:12 says 'For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.' Be wise!

Happy Sunday.

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

Sunday 1 September 2019

FBI 77 and the Criminals Amongst Us

I was thinking this morning.... about the unapprehended criminals amongst us. This past week, news broke that the US Federal prosecutors had indicted 80 people on charges connected to participation in online scams that raked in millions from unsuspecting victims in the United States and abroad. The FBI released the names of these cyber criminals amongst which were 77 Nigerians that are now referred to as the FBI 77. As the story broke, my heart broke as well because again we are on the global stage for the wrong reasons. 

Before I could move away from that story, my mind did a rewind to one month ago. Just 4 weeks back, one name on that list, Chika Odionyenma was better known as a member of one of the sub-committees that inaugurated Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State and was subsequently appointed to a committee for the recovery of looted properties. Another name,
Obinwanne Okeke (Invictus) was featured by Forbes as one of the Forbes 30 under 30. He's been on BBC, given a Ted Talk, spoke at London school of Economics Africa Summit. He has a conglomerate spanning across many African countries dealing on oil, agriculture, infrastructure, solar energy etc. He had a lot of International awards celebrating his achievement, but that was yesterday. Yesterday, these two young men with 75 others were seen as successful, but today, they are referred to as the FBI 77.

The whole drama got me thinking about how one can be a champion today and a villain tomorrow. I reflected on how our political office holders, governors, reps, ministers and others are looting our commonwealth but are being celebrated by many. Imagine N17 billion being budgeted for the entire Nigeria Police Force in 2019, while 469 lawmakers budgeted N139 billion for themselves. This sum and much more will be looted before the year runs out. Not to worry, something tells me that the Lawmakers, governors and ministers of today will tomorrow be known as EFCC 469 or ICPC 36. 

As I mused, there was the Daily Trust headline 'Bandits kill 3, kidnap dozens on the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway' and another on Friday August 30th, 'How Kidnapping is making Families Poorer: Banditry - 1,460 deaths, 330 attacks in 7 months -FG.' I immediately asked, who are those perpetrating this evil in our land? Why are they so elusive to the security agencies? The answer was obvious. They live amongst us in the day and commit their crimes under cover. I am aware that many of these criminals (like Taraba kidnap kingpin, Bala Wadume) may be champions amongst us today but I also know that tomorrow, they will certainly be known as the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) 22.

'I agree with you', some will be saying. What about the rest of us? I considered the millions amongst us stealing from their employers or their church. Contractors cutting corners and giving kickbacks. What about those coveting their neighbour's wife or properties? Most people will not be caught like the FBI 77 or come under the radar like EFCC 469. But one thing I know is that all will form part of the 'Judgement Day 144,000.' While I join millions to condemn the act of cyber fraud, I admonish all to look inwards and be wise because 1st Corinthians 10:12 says 'Let he that thinks he stand take heed, lest he falls.' You may not be part of cyber crime but are you part of any vice bringing this nation down?

Happy Sunday.

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