Saturday 28 December 2019

Do Not Urinate Here

I was thinking this morning.... about evolution and reverse development. Some school of thought believe that with time man had evolved from lower forms of primates into anatomically modern humans. If we follow this line of thought, it should be expected that with each passing year, humans should be making progress behaviourally and democratically. But observing events in the past few days has made me question whether as the world develops, Nigeria is not developing in reverse.

'How do you mean?' you might ask. My niece was returning home to Nigeria for Christmas after so many years of sojourn in the UK. She was returning with the two issues the Lord has blessed her with during the period. By 'issues' I mean children and not problems. On arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International airport, Lagos. Her 11 year old daughter observed where it was written on a wall 'Do not urinate here.' With a curious look, she asked 'Mum, why did they write 'Do not urinate here' on that wall?' 'Because, they don't want anyone to urinate by the wall,' her mum responded. With an even more curious look and maybe a tint of surprise, she asked further 'But why do they have to be told?' Hmm!!! Why must you tell an adult to only urinate in a toilet? As I thought about it, I concluded that behaviourally we may be developing in reverse. 

Like we say in Warri, 'I wonder wetin dey work us.' My niece probably understood why, because she was born and grew up in Nigeria until she travelled out about 15 years ago. What she however did not bargain for, having been driving in the UK for years, was how torturous driving in Nigeria has become. After taking to the steering for a few days, she swore to never drive in Nigeria again. 'There are no driving rules in this country anymore. People drive like they are insane. I wonder why there are not a lot more accidents.' She had lamented. If you drove during this festive period in any of our cities, you will understand where she was coming from. Whew!!! It was hellish in Lagos. Added to the terrible driving behaviour, the roads are bad. As I wondered why the Infrastructures are not improving with time, I recalled the report in the Economist Pocket book that says Lagos is the second worst city to live in after Damascus in Syria (a war zone). When I considered that Lagos was the third worst city in 2018, I concluded that in terms of infrastructure, our development may be in reverse. 

At the national level nko? When it comes to democratic nations, one of the indices of a matured democracy is the obedience of the rule of law. With this year marking 20 years of unbroken democracy in Nigeria, it would have been expected that our democracy should be maturing. Colonel Sambo Dasuki and activist Omoyele Sowore were accused of different offences and thrown into DSS detention. They were taken to court and the courts granted them bail. The DSS refused to release them in spite of protests by well meaning Nigerians. Then on the 20th of December, the US Congress wrote a strongly worded letter to the Attorney General of the Federation (AG) about the implications of disobedience of court orders and how we should behave like a democratic nation. Suddenly, the AG announced the release of both men on Christmas eve. Have we made progress? Yes, but democratically, our development or maturity seems to be in reverse. 

Oh, how this little girl opened my eyes as another year counts down. Why must we be told to do the right thing? Why must we be told to behave? Else, if we continue with this attitude, we will start seeing signs like 'Please do defecate on the bed' in hotel rooms and 'Please do not eat sand.' If truly we have developed from lower forms of primates to anatomically modern humans, there are some things we should not be doing. James 4:17 says, 'Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.' As we enter 2020, I am praying, 'Lord, please help us to behave.'

Happy Sunday and New Year (in a few days).

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

Saturday 21 December 2019

Where can I find a friend like Miss Nigeria?

Miss Nigeria celebrating her friend

I was thinking this morning.... about true friendship. This past week, news broke of how for the first time, black women now hold the titles of five of the world’s top beauty pageants, with the crowning of Miss Jamaica, Toni-Ann Singh as Miss World. According to Time magazine report of 16th December, during the final round of the competition, just three women remained on the stage waiting to find out who would be crowned Miss World. There was Miss Nigeria, Nyekachi Douglas; Miss Brazil, Elis Coelho; and Miss Jamaica, Toni-Ann Singh. 

When the winner’s name was called, Nyekachi erupted to a cheer. She then did a joyful dance around the stage, twirling across the dais in her green gown, before rushing back to hug the woman who had actually won—Miss Jamaica. The fact that Nyekachi was so clearly excited for her friend, even though it meant that she herself had lost the competition, was truly heartwarming. Nyekachi’s ebullient reaction at her friend’s victory has gone viral with people sharing the clip across social media. She may not have won the Miss World crown, but the internet had crowned her thrilled reaction a true friendship victory. It sure made me proud as a Nigerian.

As I read the various comments on social media, that of one Nimelesh @Houseofhilton made my day. She had asked 'Where can I find a friend like Miss Nigeria?' Awww!!! Her question whirled up thoughts within me. Do I have friends like Miss Nigeria? Am I a friend like Miss Nigeria?

As I tried to answer my last question, I recalled how I waited for promotion at work for so long that it became a prayer point. One year while waiting for the miracle to happen, a colleague of mine announced that he has just been promoted. What was my reaction? I was happy for him telling him congratulations. But immediately, my mind started asking why I was not promoted, effectively shifting my attention from the good news, to self. My joy for him became momentary because of my focus on self. As I reflected on the reaction of Nyekachi Douglas, I cried 'Please Lord, make me a friend like Miss Nigeria.'

I have had a fair share of lifting and breakthroughs from the Lord that blew my mind. As far as I can remember, there was hardly any spontaneous reaction of joy or any thrilled response from people around me. No one did the 'zanku,' 'shoki' or the 'azonto' dance for me. At best, having congratulated me, what naturally follows will be 'the God wey do your own, go do for me too o.' Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that response but shifting the attention to yourself takes away from the joy of the moment. Some out of jealousy and envy will be cursing the blessed one under their breath or in their mind. As I thought about it, I prayed 'Oh God, give me a friend like Miss Nigeria.'

The truth is, all of us need a Miss Nigeria in our lives. With such positivity and support, anyone can move mountains. As we count down to 2020, when your friend gets a promotion or a new job or starts a new business, be his or her Miss Nigeria. Ditch the selfishness in every human and be truly happy for him or her without thinking of yourself. Real friends don't focus on self. Proverbs 20:6 'Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?' Seriously, are you a friend like Miss Nigeria?

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 14 December 2019

Life Like Football Match

Coach Benedict Ugwu 

I was thinking this morning..... On Saturday November 30th, while the Nigerian Professional Football League match between Enugu Rangers and Akwa Starlets was ongoing at the Enugu Stadium, something strange happened. At about the 85th minute of the game, an announcement was made through the public address (PA) system, that the coach of the Coal city side, Benedict Ugwu, has been sacked. The game ended 0-2 in favor of Akwa Starlet (now Dakkada FC). Wow!

The way the sacking was done got many Nigerians talking but got me thinking. Why couldn't the Club Management wait for an additional 5 minutes for the match to end before sacking the coach, if they felt he wasn't delivering? If they must sack him, why would they have to do so through the PA System while he was busy in the dugout? The more I thought about it, the more the life lessons dropped on me like dew on a cold harmattan morning. 

I thought about this couple I knew in the neighbourhood I grew up in Warri. They had six children which I believe they brought up to the best of their ability. Life didn't turn out as expected as all the children dropped out of school. Everyone blamed the parents saying they had failed. It occurred to me that if they were coaches of a football club, they would probably have been sacked like Benedict Ugwu. A non-enthusiast of football will wonder why they will sack coach Benedict Ugwu when he was not the one in the field of play. He has done his best, told the players what to do, but yet they let him down. Hmm! Life is like coaching from the dugout.

Coach Benedict Ugwu was relieved of his job in the 85th minute while the match was still on. Wow! Isn't life like a 90 mins football game with extra time? There are many that have been let go from the match of life early in the first half of their lives. They were still marshalling out their plans on how to win the match, and the heavenly announcement was made to call them home. Yet, others see the match to the end of 90 mins. Life! About 3 years ago, my dear uncle was in the dugout working for the success of his team (family). It was the beginning of his second half and his team was winning, when suddenly the announcement was made. He slumped and that was it. He was gone. He was taken off when the match was only 65 minutes gone (he was 65 years old). But why would the heavenly announcement be made when he was winning the match? Life is like coaching or playing in a football match. Not everyone will stay till the end of regulation time.

When the announcement was made through the PA system announcing the sack of Benedict Ugwu, many Nigerians frowned at and condemned the act, saying it was insensitive. But I asked, isn't that the same way we all are taken off the scene? There is always an announcement. The difference is the response of the crowd of witnesses. Do they give you a standing ovation or boo you out? 

My prayer is that we all will be in the game till the end of regulation time (90 years) plus extra time (30 years) according to Genesis 6:3, but what is important is your focus on your success and that of your team. Should you be taken out before the end of regulation time, like was done to Benedict Ugwu, then you should leave knowing that you have given only your best and impacted lives. This is the season to impact lives, do it with all thy might.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 7 December 2019

Eighteen? Chai!

Porcelain Anniversary 

I was thinking this morning..... about eighteen (18). I sat up by the side of my bed this morning counting my blessings. I started with my fingers and by the time I got to 18, I had almost run out of toes to count. As I reflected on 18, I said 'chai!' I did exclaim not because I am sad but because the Hebrew word for 'life' is חי (chai), which has a numerical value of 18. Interesting, right? When I say 'Chai,' I am referring to life which is equal to 18.

Flashes of 18 was all over my face as I reflected on the many occasions I have encountered 18 in this my journey of life, or should I say 'Chai'

Years before I turned 18, I was a student of Hussey college Warri. One subject I loved was chemistry. Our teacher then, Mrs Oputa I believe, taught us that the 18th group of the periodic table are known as the noble gases for being the least reactive because of the 18 electron rule. Since then I learnt not to be too reactive so that I can become noble. Chai! While still smarting from an enjoyable chemistry class, then walked in our Mathematics teacher, Shedrach Ogboru, and confused me, by saying that 18 is an abundant number, as the sum of its proper divisors is greater than itself (1+2+3+6+9 = 21). 18 showed up again, but this time to confuse me. Haba! How can a number be abundant and be greater than itself? Chai!

Not long after I left secondary school, I encountered 18 again when I turned 18 years. In most countries, 18 is the age of adulthood, the legal age for driving, drinking and voting. Though I don't drink alcohol, I am still thankful for the privilege to drive and vote not minding that my vote seem not to count in Nigeria. 

As I grew up, I fell in love with certain sports. My biggest love is football, where 'the 18' is a slang term for the penalty area also called the '18 yard box.' I never liked golf until Tiger Woods got on the scene and I learnt that there are 18 holes on a regulation golf course. Polo...that game that they play riding on horses? Naaa!! Not for me, maybe because I learnt horses usually have 18 pairs of ribs and 18 bones in their tails. Bones in the tail? Chai!

I left school, got a job and got born again. I started reading the bible with the eyes of the Spirit. 18 started showing up on the pages of the holy book. First, I discovered in Judges 10:8 that the people of Israel were oppressed for 18 years by the Ammonites. Then, on one particular Sabbath, while teaching in a Synagogue, Jesus healed a woman that had a 'spirit of infirmity' which had bent her over for 18 years! As I marveled at some of the names in the bible, I found out that two of the longest names in Scripture are composed of 18 letters. They are Jonathelemrechokim (in the title of Psalm 56) and Mahershalalhashbaz (the name of Isaiah's son in Isaiah 8:1. Imagine giving your child any of these names. Chai!

There is something about 18 today that is making me so comfortable. Could it be because a comfortable room temperature is 18 degrees Celsius? No. I checked and my AC was off. Bang!!! I know why now. Today is the 18th anniversary of my marriage, which is called Porcelain anniversary. But why is it called Porcelain anniversary? Porcelain is not only elegant and refined, it is also durable and long-lasting—just like our marriage after 18 years together. Chai!

Because life (Chai) has a numerical value of 18, the custom has arisen in Jewish circles to give donations and monetary gifts in multiples of 18 as an expression of blessing for long life. For my young wife and I, we cannot but give God thanks in multiples of 18 for the many blessings He has bestowed on us and on this day, all we can say is thank you Lord for 'Chai'

Happy Sunday and Happy 18th anniversary to us. 

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