Saturday 28 March 2020

Coronavirus: We can never be the same again

I was thinking this morning.... about the Coronavirus pandemic. Since the reporting of this Novel Coronavirus in December 2019, the media, both mainstream and social, has been awash with different buzzwords referring to the virus and disease. First, everyone had to be familiar with the term Coronavirus. Then a few weeks later, the WHO released the term Covid-19, the short form for Coronavirus Disease 2019. 'Coronavirus' was too big a term for the ordinary Nigerian to pronounce hence some called it 'Colodial drivus' and 'Coronavices' in the voice of our distinguished senator.

Covid-19 on the other hand was too elitist. Which is why I was surprised when Nigerians slammed President Muhammad Buhari for mispronouncing Covid-19 as 'COVIK One-Nine virus' after watching the 23 secs video posted by his Personal Assistant on New Media Bashir Ahmad. Don't blame PMB, he has long said he is not an elite.

When the average Nigerian became uncomfortable with the oyibo words 'Coronavirus' and 'Covid-19,' they came up with a simple buzzword for the disease, 'Coro.' On the streets, it became common to hear of the menace of 'Uncle Coro.' I never knew how deep the translation has gone in the streets until I watched the music video by the Kabusa Oriental Choir titled 'Okoro be careful make you no catch Coro.' It was at this point it dawned on me that the lives of anything, anyone or people that sounds like 'Coro' will never be the same again.

First, I felt for everyone that is planning for a ceremony to be made a king or chief. Print your card and call the event 'Coronation Ceremony' at your peril. No one will show up because of the fear of 'Coro.' You better be ingenious and think of what else to call the event. 

Then I remembered all those called 'Coro.' Are you surprised? Coro is a female spanish name that means 'chorus.' Coro is also a girl's name of Native American origin meaning 'wind'. Consequently, if anyone knows Ferrán Corominas Telechea (born 5 January 1983), commonly known as Coro, a Spanish footballer playing for Indian club FC Goa, please advise him to change his name now, before something do am.

As I pondered on these names, I started feeling sorry for those Igbo, Urhobo, Isoko and Itsekiri folks called Okoro. Chai!!! They are already popular for the wrong reasons. 
What about the Koro group of people found in Plateau, Niger and Kaduna States of Nigeria? People are beginning to suspect them o. My advise? Drop Koro and stick with Jili (for those in Plateau) and Jijili (for others).

Surely, this Coronavirus pandemic is no laughing matter and it is definitely not a time to stigmatize anyone because their names sound like coro. With our koro-koro eyes, we have watched over 25,000 die and 500,000 infected globally in only 3 months. Please, take personal responsibility, stay home and stay safe while you heed to medical advice, so they won't call korofo for you. Above all, pray, because 2nd Chronicles 7:14 says 'If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.'

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 21 March 2020

Abeg, What is Her Occupation?

I was thinking this morning..... about mothers. I am so doing because today a number of churches are celebrating Mothers Day, though the usual church service is not holding in some states due to the Coronavirus scare. As I got up this morning to get ready for service, I recalled filling an application form recently and was required to enter my occupation and that of my wife and children. While it is always easy to write 'HSE Practitioner' and 'Student' for myself and children respectively, I always struggle with what to write for my wife. Not because she has no occupation but because I am not sure of what is most appropriate. 

While the dictionary meaning for 'Occupation' is 'a job or a profession,' to me it simply means what occupies your time or what takes the most of your time each day. It is this definition that is at the root of my confusion. I reflected 10 years back when we first moved to Lagos, did a mental review of my wife's daily routine and asked myself, 'what really is my wife's occupation?' My wife studied Educational Management and has been deploying the knowledge to helping kids eat right and stay healthy. She visits schools to create awareness and is involved with advocacy with the government, CBOs and NGOs. She sometimes spends weeks planning for an educational outreach, making me conclude that maybe her occupation is 'Educationist.'

But then I recall she wakes up hours before us all and on her knees prays God to protect her family. She spends another hour organizing and facilitating the family devotion and depending on the day of the week, heads to the Women's fellowship where she is the Pastor-in-charge. As I considered how much time she puts into meeting the spiritual needs of the family and other women, I am wondering 'is her occupation a Pastor?'

As I dug in, I remembered that after the prayers each morning, while my only task is to bath myself and get dressed for the office, my wife baths the children, packs their school bags and sees them off to school. While we all are away, she cleans the house, does the laundry and then it's time to go pick the children from school. She helps them with their homework and listen to their every story. As I considered this, I am wondering, is her occupation a 'Homemaker?'

I know what her occupation is, I thought, as my mind drifted to her delicacies. She prepares breakfast ranging from akara and oat to pepper soup and yam. Scrumptious lunch from starch and banga soup to ogbono soup served with wheat. Smokey jollof rice served with dodo and peppered snail brought smiles to the faces of the children. As my mouth began to water, I am tempted to say that her occupation is 'World class Caterer.'

Someone please help me out. What do I write as my wife's occupation? When my children argue, she settles the dispute like a judge. When they play rough and bruise their heels, she applies ointment and treat them like a doctor. When their uniform and pyjamas is torn, she picks up the needle and thread and mend them like a tailor. I am really confused, what is my wife's occupation?. 

What do I write as my wife's occupation in the application form? An educationist, a pastor, caterer, doctor or a tailor? When Hilary Clinton was to write her occupation in her biodata, she wrote 'Wife, Mother, Attorney and Politician.' I know why now. My wife spends so much time doing different things and effortlessly runs the home. Yet, some will say mothers without a paid employment have no occupation. How sad and how wrong. How can one person handle all these tasks and still find time to be the emotional support for us their husbands. I don't know what the most appropriate occupation is, but the next time I am filling a form and faced with the question of occupation for my wife, I am tempted to write 'Superwoman.' It is only a superwoman that can achieve so much in the same 24 hours we all have. No wonder Proverbs 31 calls her a virtuous woman, because her price is far above rubies.

This is a tribute to all wives and mothers who give so much to make their home a happy place. In spite of the Coronavirus scare that has kept many churches closed today, I still wish everyone Happy Mothers Day.

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

Saturday 14 March 2020

See Levels

I was thinking this morning..... about levels. Penultimate week, I decided to take time off a very frenzied start to 2020, coupled with preparation for my birthday and book unveiling that held early February. While chilling towards the end of the week, my last son called from school saying he had forgotten his pair of leather slippers at home and needed it to complete his dressing for the School Sports dinner the next evening. My wife and I did all we could to convince him to wear whatever he had just to avoid making that tortuous one hour trip to his school. When it became obvious we were not winning the debate, I promised him we would send it the next day. While not being sure of how I would do it without breaking my self-imposed sit at home order, I knew that las las, my young wife would come to my rescue.

As I weighed my options, managing the headache already creeping in by merely thinking of the bad roads I have to traverse to get to his school, I stumbled on the news and video of a student of North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa, who forgot his books at home and his parents delivered them to him at school in a chopper. Wow! When I considered the physical and mental stress my wife and I have to go through to deliver the slippers to my son at school against 'my mate' using helicopter to run a similar errand, I shook my head and agreed that 'Life na levels.'

As I thought about how far fetched it is at this material time for me to use a chopper to my son's school, I recalled year 2008, during the period of the Niger Delta militancy. The passenger boat of the organisation I work for was attacked by militants. Company decided to suspend further boat movements and leased an helicopter to fly staff and families in and out of Port Harcourt daily. Na so our spouses come begin enter helicopter to buy ponmo for Port Harcourt o. If people outside are told that a spouse was taken in and out of Port Harcourt via helicopter for groceries shopping, they will probably hold their head and say 'Chai!! See levels.' What they don't understand is, it is not enjoyment but survival. 

It is true that 'Life na levels' but don't get it wrong. That one is at the highest level of the ladder doesn't mean he is having the best of life. Driving the best of automobile or having a private jet doesn't translate to the best of life. Not everyone hugging the limelight are truly happy. Many times the best of life is found in the simple things of life. Being at the top of the ladder could give one the best view, but it also imposes some form of phobia that imprisons that person. On the flip side, I am not advocating being at the lowest rung of the ladder, but for one to enjoy life whatever level you are, giving glory to God. Ecclesiastes 6:9 'Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless–like chasing the wind.' Abeg let me stop dreaming about using helicopter to my son's school and focus on enjoying driving to church since the fear of Coronavirus has not stopped us.

Happy Sunday.

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

Saturday 7 March 2020

How do I explain this to my children?

I was thinking this morning..... about foreign education. Having been born in Warri many years ago, one of my dreams as a teenager was to study abroad. With the modest financial state of my parents, I knew the only way I could achieve that dream was for me to study hard and get a full scholarship, but that did not happen. Unaware of any other way, I gladly accepted the closest thing to studying abroad, going to Benin City. For a child, born and bred in Warri and had traveled only as far as Sapele, why won't he regard Benin city as 'abroad?' Afterall, it was called a city like London and New York and had a ring road.

As I became an adult and had children, I taught my children the time-honoured maxim, 'the surest way to be successful in life is to study hard and get a good education.' Since our higher institutions have very little to offer having been serially raped and left for dead by our political leaders, I told my children to study even harder so they can be deserving of a scholarship to study abroad. I had told them categorically that the ONLY way to study abroad is either 'your papa get plenty money,' like we say in Warri or you get a scholarship. They accepted my words like the obedient children they are. Thank God.

Then last week, I was shocked to my core when I read the headline 'Repentant terrorists to enjoy foreign education.... Senate bill.' 'It's a lie!' I exclaimed in anger. I wasn't sure exactly what part of the headline and news made me angry. Was it the fact that the bill being sponsored by Senator representing Yobe East, Ibrahim Geidam, would even scale through the first reading in the Senate, or that the headline used the word 'enjoy?' Chai!!! But how can anyone contemplate taking funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund meant for law abiding Nigerian children and use it to send terrorists abroad to enjoy? Chai Nigeria, how do I explain this to my children?

How do I explain to my children that there are over 13 million Nigerian children of school age roaming our streets, yet the meager resources budgeted for their education is being proposed to be used to send Boko Haram members abroad to enjoy. Chai! How do I explain this to my children?

My greatest worry at this time is what to tell my children when they return home on holidays. I can imagine them ask 'Daddy, but you told us that the only way to getting foreign education is to study hard to get a scholarship, why are repentant terrorists being sent abroad to school?' Our shameless politicians want to make me a liar but they will not succeed. Chai! This thing our politicians is doing is not good o. Even the holy book says in Matthew 15:26 'It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs.' Anyway you look at it, this bill erodes justice and makes a mockery of the suffering of victims, and the unspeakable human tragedy, humanitarian crisis and appalling atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Yet, they want to use our children's money to send them abroad to enjoy. Schools will be going on Easter break soon and I am thinking, how do I explain this to my children?

Happy Sunday.

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