Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year, New Me?

A short New Year poem:

Happy New Year to YOU…

Oh dear!
Does that mean a Happy New ME?!

I wish I could say
I’ll be better;

I wish I could say
I’ll be nicer;

I wish I could even say
I’ll be sweeter!

Oh well,
I’ll try........................

Happy New Year to ME.

        by Naijamum

        I wish you all a Happy New Year.
       May 2011 bring us all blessings, peace and progress.
       May the Lord restore hundredfold all our blessings that were lost, stolen or damaged in 2010.
       May we bless others with our words and deeds and may others do same to us.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

My 2010 Lesson

My apologies for being away for a while. I have been preoccupied with the kids. I do hope you all have had a restful Xmas.

Along with all the eating that goes on, this period for me is all about family, rest and reflection.

Reflection has been even more important for me because I had a bad experience on Christams eve and I now wish to share the lessons I learnt from this experience with you. I hope it will touch someone.

The Experience:
At about 12.05am on Christmas eve morning, I was upstairs getting the kids' Xmas presents sorted out and my husband was downstairs, tidying up. Suddenly, we heard loud banging on the front door. As it was soo late, I wondered who it could be. So, I looked through the upstairs window to see who was knocking. Before I could even make out the features of the person, I realised that my car - which was packed right in front of my house - was on fire. Yes, on FIRE!!!

Apparently, my neighbour had seen it and come over to tell us!

Panic mode set in as I rushed outside to see the damage. My hubby got on the phone to call the Fire Service. My neighbour then informed me that they had already called the Fire Service.

Well, to cut a long story short; within the 5 minutes it took for the Fire Service to come, the fire had spread to the engine and half of the windscreen was gone. We were then faced with the challenge of keeping an eye on this raging fire; keeping an eye on the house and also deciding whether to wake the kids - to drag them out of their beds! To say we were in shock was an understatement.

After the Fire service had put the fire out, the Police came to assess the damage and take witness statements. They concluded that the location of the fire suggested that it was delibreately set by someone! Yes, deliberately!

That bit of information made me feel sick as I thought of all the what ifs - What if my neighbour hadn't seen the fire on time? What if the fire had spread to my house? What if the fuel tank had exploded? What if the person who did this lived beside me? What if the person was coming back to cause more harm?

Even more questions......What had we done to deserve this? What kind of person would do this ......especially on Christmas Eve?

Luckily for us the kids slept right through the commotion so we took the decision not to tell them what happened because (a) we didn't want to spoil their Christmas and (b) we didn't want them worrying that someone somewhere was out to hurt their family!

That night, sleep eluded us as we lay in bed, staring at the ceiling and clinging to each other. Funny thing is I couldn't even cry. Not one tear...even till today...........................!

Lesson Learnt:
The following day, we went into protective mode - of our children - and arranged with our insurers to remove the burnt car from the front of the house. Luckily, they did this before the kids even got to see the burnt car. We then explained to them that our car had a fault and had gone for repairs. They were fine with their main concern was that they got their Christmas presents! LOLLL

I cannot lie to you and say that I was not shaken by this experience but the truth is I have experienced a lot in this life - relocating to a new country, several miscarriages, a near fatal car accident and two emergency medical operations - that I feel that I am a living testimony to the fact that God still works miracles ......every single day.

The first thoughts I had after the police told me that the fire was intentional, were - Is this a racisct attack? Who did it? Who have I offended? Hubby and I even discussed whether it could be any of the neighbours??????

Well, we made a conscious decision to hand over EVERYTHING to God.

It is sooo easy to hate and become paranoid and we refuse to be. It is so easy to go out and think that every Caucasian is a racist but I refuse to go down this path. If this is really a racist incident, I refuse to be a victim because for this one terrible incident I can count ten Caucasians that have been a blessing to us. And I will....

1. The specialist who helped me through my difficult pregnancies
2. The lecturer who took me under his wing and gave me sooo much confidence - academically
3. The nursery owner who took care of my 3 boys - even willing to defer payments when we were broke
4. The old lady in church - who I had never spoken to before - who bought chocolates for my kids when I was ill
5. The lesson teacher who took my first son - Prof1 - under her wing
6. The primary school teacher who made my second son - Cool2 - her 'personal project' (She liked him so much but he was a reluctant learner. She was so determined to encourage him that she called him her 'personal project'. She even took my mobile number so she could speak to me out-of-hours)
7. The teacher who gave Prof1 confidence - making him realise that being a nerd can be cool *smile*
8. The lady who was instrumental to my first professional break through
9. The colleague who taught me soo much...and overlooked my initial mistakes
10. The other colleague who always checks if I'm okay
11. The nursery teacher who my last son - Blanket3 - wants to 'marry' because she was toooo nice....she really is!
12. The old neighbour who always looks out for us and comes round with gifts for my kids

I know I said ten, but I really could go on.....


I choose to be a victor, not a victim. A conqueror, not the conquered! My favourite motivational passage in the Bible is Ephesians 6: 13-17.....
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

This passage potrays an empowered Christian as a Roman soldier - as illustrated in the diagram above -  prepared for spiritual warfare and well equipped to combat evil. To be a believer is to have faith - through good times and bad ones.

No one knows what 2011 will bring, but if hindsight is anything to go by; every year brings its own ups and downs. So, I have armed myself with faith and hope. I thank God that my family was spared any physical harm. Whatever was lost can easily be replaced. If this was a hate crime, I pray for the perpetrators because to live with hate is to be a living corpse!

I absolutely REFUSE to let hatred from a few cloud the beauty of  love I have received from soooo many!!!!

I wish you all a happy New Year.

Do let me know ONE key life lesson that you will take away from 2010........xoxoxoxox

Friday, 17 December 2010

Nostalgia Rules - My 70s and 80s

Christmas is 7 days away!

I have been sooo busy preparing for Christmas that I have actually envied my children - whose only response to my feverish preparation is 'Mum, I cant wait for Christmas because I'm going to get lottttts of presents!'.........My reaction to this statement is to panic because I know this is far from the truth....LOL

Anyway,  being a dreamer, I went down the nostalgia path and started thinking about my childhood. I was born in the 70s and my favourite/ strongest memories come from the 70s and 80s because life seemed simpler then. Here are a few of my memories from this time:

..........My 70s and 80s memories.........
(1) Food:
The custard cream biscuits were delicious and as a greedy child, I wanted more and more....

Very addictive and yummy! Believe me, my dentist can confirm the damage these have done to my teeth! LOL

These bicycles were positioned outside school at closing time. I believe they tempted me to steal money just so I could buy ice cream after school. This was because the ability to buy ice cream was a huge status symbol that
                        you were 'happening'! *sigh*

Chewing gum was banned in my house, but we looked for every opportunity to chew some in hiding. Bazooka chewing gum was a favourite because each gum came with a joke and that was an extra treat! 

My dad said children should not drink fizzy drinks so we had this most of the time......So, whenever we got the chance i.e. on Christmas day, we hid bottles of fizzy drinks - coke, fanta, sprite - and OD'd (overdosed) on fizzy drinks behind my father's back! LOL

(2) Malaria
I know Malaria is a terrible thing - especially as you had to take nasty Chloroquine or Nivaquine ! However, being ill was great because this was the only time you were able to avoid doing any chores in my house! It was also the only time you could get my father to ease up on the 'discipline-mode' - so the illness was definitely worth it. Apart from this it also allowed us enjoy these:
Just seeing this bottle made us better *smile*

My dad would squeeze lots of grapefruits to get us fresh juice. Whenever I am ill now, I just have to have  grapefruit juice

This came with the Lucozade from the chemist and was very welcome because it was a rare guest in our house *smile*

A whole pot of peppersoup devoted to me! Blissss......!
Whenever I got the plate of peppersoup and I couldnt eat the meat, my mother would say -'You are really ill! (because I was a big eater)
So whenever I was getting better, I would try to pretend - and not eat all the meat (so I could avoid doing chores for a few days longer).
However, glutton that I am,  this plan only lasted for about 2 hours and I would start scoffing all the food placed in front of me!
24 hours later, I had resumed my regular chores. *sigh*

(3) Books/ Publications:

These were really good! Are they still around?

This was the bane of my life as I hated Maths then. The book was not child-friendly at all - no diagrams or colour. Just seeing the book's green cover made me cry!

I discovered these in secondary school and I loved them. I even used to dream that a rich prince would descend from nowhere and propose to me because I was soooo 'beautiful and delicate' *LOL*. Considering I was chubby - and a tomboy also, I now realise I was seriously deluded *sigh*

If my parents ever knew I read this, they would have 'whooped' my behind thoroughly!
However, I use to jump on this magazine whenever I could lay my hands on it because the jokes were really funny  and the characters were fab.
Looking back, part of the thrill that came from reading this must have been that it was forbidden material for a 'well brought up girl' If you can remember Boy Alinco, Ikebe Super, Pepeiye and Papa Ajasco, you'll know what I mean! *cheeky smile*

(4) Trends:
As I was in school during these two decades, my hair was usually done up in traditional African hairstyles.

This was a bitter sweet experience as I loved the hairstyles, but I hated the process of getting my haid done. This was because we usually went to an elderly woman who lived closeby.

This lady was merciless when she combed out your tangled hair and worst of all......if she was braiding your hair, you had to sit in front of her - on the floor and in between her legs!

This was sheer TORTURE when she was braiding certain areas i.e. back towards front. I had to hold my breath as my head was pushed downwards - towards her crotch!!! Needless to say, whenever I attempted to move my head away, it was pushed down again!  TORTURE!!!! ......I usually went home traumatised.....but happy that my hair was looking fly! LOL


This period for me was as all about Platform  Shoes, Maxi dresses, Flared Trousers and Floppy Hats.

When I see my old pictures, I have to laugh because I looked really funny - just imagine a chubby black child in a maxi dress, little platforms, hat, little pot belly and a shiny face -  from having too much vaseline rubbed on my face!

However, even then I could recognise the uncles who were 'fly' because they wore the baddest platforms, had the biggest afro and always had an Afro pick-comb in their back pocket! LOL

As for the 'fly' chicks, these were the aunties who wore the highest platforms and tightest jumpsuits. Come to think of it, they were usually unmarried....but had loads of 'male friends' I realise they were up to no good!

This period was all about shoulder pads - the bigger the better and I did my best to maintain my 'street-cred' as a fashionista - by using two shoulder pads at once. *smile*

Leggings were also in vogue. If you could get leg-warmers also, you were a real babe! Can you imagine this get-up in Naija heat?! I bet many 'babes' were dying with sweaty crotches! LOL

One of the most magical places for me has to Bar Beach in Lagos. We ended up here most Sunday afternoons (after church)

The vastness of the ocean always amazed me and I just loved the whole experience of eating outside and having the golden sand under my bare feet. *wondrous sigh*........All this beauty was before white garment Christains took over the place and soiled the place........!! *frown*

(5) TV:

My faves were:
 * Village Headmaster - I loved Eleyimi's shuffle
 * Cock Crow at Dawn - Even the theme music by Bongos Ikwe was magic
* Tales by Moonlight - Essential viewing for children then
* Icheoku - The translator - Icheoku was toooo funny!
* NTA news - I admired Peter Enahoro and Julie Coker's delivery
* Masquerade - Loved this. Watch here and here to know why!

 My faves were
* Jackson Five - Michael why????!!!! You were so beautiful *sigh*
* Some Mothers Do 'Ave Them - from UK
* Dynasty - The fashion was to die for
*Starksky and Hutch - I loved Starksky
*Soul Train - Don Cornelius' was the original godfather!
My hubby confessed that this programme was the main reason he told his parents he wanted to leave Naija for the USA! *laugh* Who no go, no go know.......! (meaning you really have to travel to know that home is not all that bad)

(6) African/ Naija Music
I loved the old Highlife music. This was fantastic music and it was great to listen to and my dad always played records by Victor Olaiya, Osita Osadebe, Orlando Owoh and Uwaifo........
However, my fave artistes from 70s and 80s are:
   *Bobby Benson (Taxi Driver)     
   *Victor Uwaifo (Joromi)
   *Bongos Ikwe (Still Searching)
   *Onyeka (Ekwe)
   *Sunny Ade (70s hits)
   *Ebenezer Obey (70s hits)
   *Prince Nico Mbarga (Sweet Mother)
   *Fela 'the great' Kuti  and......
   *Miriam Makeba (Ipi Tombi)

(7) Current Affairs
I was a very inquisitive child and I was constantly reading - anything!
 One of my favourite reads was TIME magazine. It was from this I got to know about the Cold War, Israel vs the Arab world, Iran vs Iraq, Ayatollah Khomeini, Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat. Ronald Reagan, Menachem Begin etc etc

While I loved current affairs and loved discussing politics, all this information meant I had nightmares that USSR (Russia) would drop their atomic bomb anytime! I even dreamt of running away from home to volunteer my services - to work for the CIA - eventually becoming the youngest ever spy (who would eventually end the Cold War)! LOL

As a bonafide tomboy, I listened in rapture as my dad and uncles around me discussed boxing and football. I adored Muhammad Ali - because he was black, cute, strong and mouthy. I was too young to recall his 74 'Rumble in the Jungle' with Frazier but I heard about this fight over and over. Needless to say, I was devastated when he lost to Spinks in '78. ALI FOREVER!!!!!!

In Nigeria, I remember Nigeria winning the African Nations Cup in 1980. This was sweet and I really envied the players when the government gave each of the players - including  Henry Nwosu the hero - brand new Peugeot 504 cars.

Another sweet memory was when Peter Konyegwachie won Nigeria's first Olympics Silver medal in boxing. We thought he was robbed - but of course, we were biased! Magical though !!!

Unfortunately, this was a period of upheaval in Nigeria as we had one coup after another. My earliest memory of a coup was when Dimka killed Murtala Muhammed in an attempted coup.

Lagos was thrown into chaos as soldiers searched for Dimka who went into hiding. Looking back, I recall dancing when they eventually captured Dimka - I didnt know why, but I danced.......*puzzled smile*

Well........Looking back has been great because it has made me realise certain things:

On a personal level, I recall periods of prosperity and hardship at home. This has made me acknowledge that any challenge I am going through now (as an adult and parent) is nothing new - and will surely pass!

With regards to world politics, it is even more ovbious that the Middle East turmoil is nothing new. *sigh*

With regards to Nigeria, I have to say that we have regressed when it comes to basic amenities. This is beacuse I recall a time when tap water was the norm and people actually complained when NEPA (now PHCN) 'took light' (interrupted power supply) for even 2 hours! Yes ....only 2 hours!  *angry, perplexed look*

Do let me know your favourite/ strongest childhood memories.......!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Naija version of Faith

‘Religion has been described as ‘the opium of the masses’ .....and I do believe that this statement is particularly true of Nigerians and Christianity.
Why? ....Because I believe most Nigerian Christians seem to attend church just to appear sanctimonious or to satisfy societal expectations.

First off, let me just say that I am a Christian so my comments here are not borne out of mischief or dislike. I am just saying it as I see it. I would now like to give you some examples of the types of Christians that have shaped my negative opinion:

1. ‘Trado-Christians’
Some Christians were exposed to African traditional religious practices (i.e. worshipping deities) when they were growing up. Unfortunately, when such people become Christians, they become ‘hybrids’ - attending church but still keeping the superstitious beliefs they grew up with.

For example, a friend of mine – Tracy - was desperate to get pregnant after 6 years of marriage so she confided in her aunt about her worries. This aunt took Tracy to her church where Tracy was told that the ‘forces’ behind her childlessness were her own family.

They then asked Tracy to (a) minimise communication with her parents and (b) always wear specific white garments to bed. However, Tracy was not comfortable with this especially as she comes from a close family of three siblings and parents who have been married for over 30 years.

So, while she thanked her aunt for her help; she ignored the church’s advice. Her words to me were I have served only one God since I was born and I have never visited any juju man. I am not comfortable with wearing white garment to bed because I will become tied to this practise. I cannot ignore my parents also. If my parents are really plotting against me..... my hands are clean - so I know that the God I have always served will fight for me.’ Needless to say her aunt was not happy when she did not return to church.

With prayers and medical care, she is now the mother of two healthy children. I do wonder what would have happened if she had followed the church’s advice. Most likely, my friend would have become psychologically tied to wearing specific white garments to bed and she would probably have turned against her elderly parents. *sigh*

2. ‘Comfort-zone Christians’
Do you really have to be in church four times a week for God to hear you? Do you really have to centre all your activities around church to be a good person? I don’t think so.

I have a young niece who came from Nigeria to study here two years ago. While she is a lovely girl, I do find her exceedingly boring because I don’t think she’s a well rounded person. This is because she uses church as her comfort zone.

Every week, she is in church for four hours on Sunday; attending cell group meeting on Tuesday; volunteering there on Thursday and attending ‘Encounter service’ on Friday night. Again, she takes part in outreach work on some Saturday afternoons.

She is now in her final year of study. Recently, I asked her a few questions about what she had done since she arrived here - 'Had she gone sightseeing in London since she came?’......... No!......'Had she been to a cinema to watch movies with her friends?’......No!......'An art exhibition?’......No!......'A live music concert’.....No!.......’Travelled outside London?’.......No!.........’Explored other interests?.....No!

I feel that she is missing the opportunity to learn new things. I learnt how to sew as a teenager and this has been a useful skill. Similarly, my cousin learned baking and cake decorating as a teenager. She now bakes in her leisure and the additional income is extremely useful.

Being alive and healthy is a great blessing and I do wonder why some people choose to spend all their waking moments in church. Is their faith so weak that they have to constantly nurture it? Is their resolve not to sin so weak that if they mix with people outside church, they will be tempted? *puzzled look*

3. ‘Selective-Hearing Christians’
People’s interpretation of what constitutes a good Christian differs. However, I like keeping things simple and I always remember Jesus’ answer – in Matthew 22:37-40 - to the question Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? His answer was the greatest commandment was 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ While the second is to: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

From what I see around me, Christian love - of God and for one’s neighbour - seems to be absent from most Naija Christains

I have a relative who is a respected elder in his church. However, he is also a fantastic wife-beater and liar. Hypocrisy seems to rule the day as Nigerians troop to church to go through the motions without letting the church live in our hearts.

We are quick to condemn foreigners as lacking faith because they don’t attend church regularly. However, whenever there is a natural disaster somewhere, you always see ordinary Britons, Americans, Australians etc volunteering their services as they seek to make a difference. What can be more Christain-like than that?

4. 'Tactical Christians'
It appears that some Nigerians’ choice of church is based on what they can get from it. Looking for a husband/wife? For connections to boost your business? For credibility as you launch a political career? ...........The reasons are endless and usually selfish:

For example, in England, most of the top performing primary schools are faith schools (Anglican, Jewish, Catholic etc) and I have observed that when it is time to send their kid to school, a lot of Nigerians here - who usually attend Pentecostal churches -suddenly start attending their local Anglican or Catholic church. This is so they can get the Anglican/Catholic priest to sign their child’s application form.

I recall an old friend who always took pleasure in telling me that her Pentecostal church was a ‘living church’ and that Anglicans and Catholics were attending 'dead churches'. She also made disparaging comments about the Pope and said Catholics were confused because they ‘worshipped’ Mary. You can then understand my surprise when she told me that she was attending her local Catholic church because she was desperate to get her son into Catholic school. She also asked me if I could be her son’s god-mother because she also wanted to baptise him (baptism is often a requirement for admission to a Catholic school)!

I was only too happy to refuse her request and remind her that in Catholic schools, the children recite Our Father and Hail Mary’ every morning – and this could confuse her child. Harsh I know, but I hate hypocrisy. Needless to say, she is now my ex-friend. *smile*

5. 'Christain Groupies'
I cannot count the number of times someone has asked me  which church I attend and then lauched into a speech about how wonderful their pastor is. I almost feel like they are paid to recruit new members and their persistence can be a little annoying.

While I do believe that some pastors are gifted, I also believe that they are human beings and a large number of them are con-artists who brainwash vulnerable people. Annoyingly, quite a lot of them focus on preaching about wealth and prosperity - ignoring the key message of Christainity – LOVE!

I was disgusted when a family member told me that their pastor had celebrated his birthday recently and ‘the church’ had given him a luxury car as a present. In this London? What about the needy in the church – the unemployed, the widows, those searching for funds to process their immigration papers?

Why can't these Pentecostal churches open their own schools OR build hostels for members who have fallen on hard times OR give out scholarships to members who need help with tuition fees? It beggars belief!

I know I might sound harsh and I am definitely NOT a saint; but I have to say it again - Most Naija Christains are not practising Christainity – what do you think?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Big Man Abroad

A Pidgin English poem inspired by some Naija boys in London:

I no fit tell you
The things wey I don do
Since I leave there,
To come here
To this land of Oyinbo.

I no fit tell una
The places wey I don waka,
Or the insult wey I don hear
Since I land here
For this land of Oyinbo.

I no fit even try
Tell you how I don cry
When I remember
How Naija dey groove for December
Unlike this land of Oyinbo.

But I no fit complain
Because na me carry myself enter plane
With my fine, fine dress
As I come find progress
For this land of Oyinbo.

In fact, I fit tell you say since I land
For this nonsense England,
My brother don fit finish school
And my people fit chop belle-ful
Becos of money from land of Oyinbo.

I fit even tell you say because of my sweat,
My papa don build big house with inside toilet
And all the people for village
Come dey pay am homage
Because im get son wey be big man for land of Oyinbo.

But I get to hala
My dear sister and brother
Because I don tire
For this my lonely waka
For this land of Oyinbo

I true true wan return home
But I dey fear to come
Because una fit laugh me
When una finally see
Say I really be small man from land of Oyinbo.

by Naijamum

Monday, 6 December 2010

Your Living Legacy

Before I begin, I have to tell you that God has spared my life several times (medical conditions, accidents etc)

Unfortunately, last year and this year I lost quite a few friends. These friends were young and they were very well liked. Two of them left behind very young children and I still think of one of them regularly because he was a genuinely nice person.

When I lost these friends, the first thought that came to my mind was - Why? However, we all know that that is such a stupid, futile question because I am yet to meet one person who has been able to give me a satisfactory answer. So, I have promised that I will stop asking that question.

This weekend, I was reading through the papers and I got to the obituaries. I usually read the obituaries because I find it interesting that once people die, they seem to become saints. I guess it all has to do with the unwritten belief that it is wrong to speak ill of the dead?! *sad smile*

As I read through the obituaries, I thought - How would those who knew me remember me when God finally calls me up?

I'm not being morbid, but this question can actually be translated to the present: How would people who know me honestly describe me?

We might say we don't care what people think about us and I know you can never please everyone; but I do hold some people dear - some friends and family members especially - so it does matter what they think of me.

I remember when I was leaving a job and someone came up to me and said 'I'll miss you because you are always thoughtful and caring in your contact' - I was moved to tears because this was someone I barely spoke to - and only in an official capacity. Increasingly, it has become more important to me that I leave a good impression with those I care about.

So, while I might think that intelligence, punctuality and being organised are important; the last thing I would want is for my loved ones to describe me as 'intelligent, punctual and organised!' In all honesty, I really would like them to say 'She always made me smile and she made me feel good about myself!'

This realisation has made me decide to take time to cheer up my friends more; to stop and speak to the lonely old people I meet on my way to the shops; to call my parents more often; to make my children laugh more and realise this is the easiest time of their lives; to help my husband see that things are not all bad; to smile and laugh more and to just be there whenever I am needed - by anyone!

Make no mistake, I am not aiming to be a saint, I just want to re-focus on those I consider important and save my b**chy side for those who deserve it! I know it won't be easy, but in my own selfish way, doing this will invariably make me feel better about myself! *smile*

So, do have a think and let me know.......How would you like your loved ones to describe you today?

Friday, 3 December 2010

About me

I read a post on Myne Whitman's  blog today and it was quite interesting.

It was all about answering a few questions to give an insight into one’s likes and dislikes. Myne also asked some other bloggers to to do same (answer the questions and then tag other bloggers)

I thought this exercise is a great way to know more about other bloggers while letting others know a little bit more about me at the same time.

So this post will be all about answering those questions. At the end of the post, I have tagged a couple of bloggers I would like to know more about.

If I haven’t tagged you, I would still like to know more about you.

About Naijamum:  
5 Famous people I would like to meet:
I got confused as there are quite a few people I admire.
However, these names came up first and I’ve also included what I would like to ask them:
- Nelson Mandela: Which person do you admire?
- Oprah: How does it feels to be so powerful?
- Tidjane Thiam: How do you feel to be the the first black person to become CEO of a major British company?
- Chinua Achebe: Who is your favourite author?
- Obama: What is your greatest worry?

5 Books that affected me:
Very difficult as I am a bit of a nerd, but apart from the BIBLE, these five are unforgettable:
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: The language was so vivid
- Jagua Nana by Cyprain Ekwensi: Everything about Jagua Nana was so new to me
- To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee: Gave me an insight into racism
- Roots by Alex Haley: Made me realise what slavery was all about
- Rosa Lee by Leon Dash: It made me understand where guests on Jerry Springer came from

5 favourite movies:
Again, this is really difficult but these 5 come to mind as unbeatable:
- The Godfather 1 & 2
- Schindler’s List
- Fargo
- Scarface
- The Usual Suspects
............From these choices, you can tell I am a bit of a tomboy....*smile*

5 things I can't do without:
My top five after my family:
- Good food
- Love
- Movies
- Internet
- Books

5 turn ons
- Confidence
- Thoughtfulness/ Kindness to other people
- Intelligence/ Common sense
- A willingness to learn new things
- Honesty

5 turn offs
- Body odour
- Narrow mindedness
- Holier than though attitude/ Being judgmental
- Being fake (fake accents etc) and ‘effizy behaviour’ (showing off wealth/ pretending to be wealthy)
- Ignorance/ Follow follow

...........So now I tag the following people:

If I haven’t tagged you, I would still like to know more about you. Thank you!
Have a fab weekend.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Doggy Saga

My kids have come again!

This time the youngest one has been asking for a dog............A dog?
I have told him again and again that we cannot have a dog in this house because I am allergic to dogs.

The truth is, I am not really allergic to dogs but there is nothing I find more unappealing than a dog sharing the same living space as me –  pooping on my rug, licking my face or having its muddy paws on my bed. Yuck.

I apologise to all dog lovers out there but the only way I can ever have a dog in my household is if the dog gets to stay in its own dog-house (in the yard/garden). However, as the weather here is not really conducive to a dog being left outside all the time; this is not an option at all.

Again, I know that most of the day-to-day care of the dog (walks, training, vet visits etc) will eventually be added to my long list of 'mummy duties'. So a definite NO has been my answer - Dog ko, Kitten ni!

Anyway, as I mentioned before, my youngest – Blanket3 – has been asking for a dog since last year and I have refused emphatically. His requests have now become more frequent and I do believe the boy is beginning to dislike me. *smile*

What makes matters worse is that we are surrounded by neighbours who own dogs and every time he sees one of them walking their dog, he gives me this accusatory look as if ‘You witch. You don’t want me to be happy abi?

My hubby doesn’t even help matters because as usual, he uses me as an excuse to avoid unpopular decisions. So, whenever Blanket3 asks him about getting a dog, he will say ‘Sorry, you know your mum is allergic to dogs.’ ...............wimp!

To cut a long story; the boy finally got fed up. Earlier this week, he came into my room as I was getting ready for bed and said he wanted to have a word. I sat down on the bed to listen because I really thought someone had upset him:

Blanket 3: (sitting down beside me) ‘Mummy, you know I love you?’
Me: (feeling extra special) ‘I love you too baby’
Blanket3: (smiling) ‘Mummy, I want to buy you a house’
Me: (feeling extra extra special) ‘ Awwww, thank you my baby. May God bless you. I know you will take care of me when I am old.’
Blanket3: (sighing) ‘No mummy, I want to buy you a house NOW!.
Me: (confused) ‘Now? Don’t you like this house? Do you want to live in a new house?’
Blanket3: (with his very serious face and voice) ‘I like this house. I just want to get you a new house so you can go and live there!'
Me: (thoroughly confused) ‘Why...................?’
Blanket3: (even more very seriously) ‘Because you said you are allergic to doggy and I want my doggy to live here. You can go and live in the new house’

I am so shocked that this small boy (who is not yet 6 years old) can even consider putting a dog before me that I am speechless as he gets off my bed and walks off......He then stops, looks back at me and adds: ‘Don’t worry mummy, I’ll come and visit you ............. sometimes.’


I guess this is how old people feel when their kids put them in care homes. I pray I don’t get divorced because this boy will definitely take his dad’s side! *sigh*

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Female Dream - Reality vs Fantasy.........

As the year draws to a close, it is natural to take stock and assess what you have OR have not achieved.

This year has been particularly challenging for myself and quite a number of my friends. While the economic situation has not been great; the biggest challenge for us (myself and my friends) has been finding a way to juggle the demands of family alongside demands from work, extended family members and still keeping our dreams alive!

I was brought up to believe I can be whatever I want to be and have it all (family, career, wonderful husband.....)! However, I have found myself increasingly asking ‘Can a woman really have it all?’

Why? Please let me give you just three instances that have got me wondering:

1. My friend Vicky:
Vicky is an accountant married to a medical researcher. She had a great job in London while her husband was part of a research team here also. However, in April, the funding for her husband’s research got withdrawn and the team had to look for funding elsewhere – or face unemployment.

Luckily, they found a funder –who insisted the research be moved to Sweden! Well, Vicky’s husband has insisted that he is not willing to live a separate life from his family and wants them all in Sweden with him. My friend is distraught as this will mean leaving her job, friends and familiar sorroundings - but she will now be following her husband to a country that she cannot even speak the language...........

2. My second friend Ola:
Ola is an engineer who works with a large organisation outside London as a manager. She is also a mother with two kids aged 2 and 7 respectively. Unfortunately, this year, her youngest child has sufffered from several chest infections and Ola has had to take quite some time off work to nurse her baby. While her husband has been helpful, a large part of this burden has fallen on Ola. As a strong Christain, she has borne this challenge well.

However, Ola is now upset because her bosses recently passed her over for promotion - and promoted her colleague who has less experience than her. She feels this is because this colleague is more flexible (willing to work longer hours and travel more). What really upsets her is that she trained this colleague when he just joined the company!

3. Me!
I am the first to admit that I am ambitious and determined to suceed in whatever I do.
However, earlier this year, when I was offered a job that involved travelling within Europe twice a month; I declined.
My present job involves travelling within the UK sometimes; and this already leaves me feeling guilty whenever I leave my kids. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have snuck out of a meeting to call home to check on the kids. While my male colleagues are still laughing and networking, I am often looking for an opportunity to call home asking - 'Have they brushed their teeth? Have they eaten? Have they done their homework? Have they ......!'

Dont get me wrong, I love my job but I hate the way I have to juggle!

Why this juggling act?
After a long chat with my friends, I do believe the way we bring up girls is totally misleading. Please imagine this scenario of how a typical Naija/African daughter is brought up:

Daughter aged 7 years old: 'Mummy, I'm praying that I want to be a doctor, actress, lawyer, beauty queen, reverend sister, preacher, nun and mum!'

Mother: (smiling) 'Yes, my dear, you can be whatever you want to be. The sky is the limit....just work hard at school!'

Daughter aged 14: 'Mum, I got the best grades in school this year!'

Mum: (jubilating) 'Well done my dear! Remember, you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard in school and KEEP AWAY FROM BOYS!'  

Daughter aged 21: 'Mum, I graduated with a First Class degree and my university has offered me a Masters scholarship'

Mum: (excited) 'I'm so proud of you. Remember, you can be whatever you want to be.  I pray you will marry a wonderful husband and the sky will be the limit for both of you.'

Daughter aged 28: 'Mum, I have just finished my PhD and I have been offered a job with a multinational company in ........'

Mum (sighing) 'You never cease to amaze me! I am so proud of you but remember you really should start thinking of getting married. You know your biological clock is now ticking louder.............!'

Daughter aged 35: 'Mum, I have just been made Director of Operations for the whole of Africa. If God is willing, my dream of heading this organisation might come true when our CEO steps down in 3 years time.'

Mum: (resignedly) 'My dear, the only dream you should be having now is finding a husband and having babies as soon as possible.....!'

Well?  Am I wrong?

My experience as a Nigerian girl is that you are sold the dream that you can achieve anything and then as soon as you get past 25, you are reminded that without a husband (and children); a woman has achieved nothing.

I suggested to my friend that we need to be more honest with our little girls i.e. Encourage them to be high achievers, but also tell them that getting married and having children MIGHT limit their ability to pursue their dreams full-time. I believe that this conversation needs to happen with teenage daughters (ideally when aged 15-18 years)

My friend disagreed because she says that this could be discouraging to a little girl -  Killing her dreams and making her feel that womanhood is a burden.

While I accept that this might happen in some cases; I still do believe that we need to be more honest with our daughters. Yes, a woman might have a supportive husband who enables her chase her dream; but the truth is that once you have a child, you feel guilty everytime you put yourself first. At least if our daughters are better informed, one of the things an ambitious girl should be looking for in a potential partner is how supportive he is/ will be!

Do let me know your take on this - Should mothers be honest about the compromises that come with marriage and motherhood OR
Should we let our daughters dream?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

COULD have; SHOULD have; WOULD have.........?!

I was reading the paper the other day and I came upon this interview with an old man. The interviewer asked him if he had any regrets - about things he should have done when he was younger. Unsurprisingly, the man had a few - with his main regret being that he should have spent more time with his children!

Well, as I DO spend quite a bit of time with my kids, and since I do know that my presence is not always welcome by them *smile*; I started thinking of all the things I could have, should have and would have done - even just once - IF not for the fact that I am the first born and I have always tried to act 'responsible':

1. Worn much shorter skirts
Looking at my old pictures, I am glad to say that I was really a cute girl. I now regret not wearing really short skirts to show off my fresh young legs *smile*. I could have, but as a 'good, well brought up Catholic Naija girl' - with a strict father; that was defnitely a no-no!
It was even impossible because after we moved back to our home-town, it seemed like I grew up with spies everywhere - as everyone knew everyone...*sigh*
As my legs now look like that of a retired footballer, I have to say the hemlines of my skirts will now only march southwards......!*double sigh*

2. Travelled round the world
When my white colleagues tell me about their various travel experiences, I must confess that I am envious because at the time when I should have been gallivanting round the world (early 90s); Nigeria was not really in a great state. So, being a good Naija daughter; I spent all that time worrying about my siblings and parents in Naija. Any regrets? .....mmmm.....I have to admit, somedays, yes.
That is why I intend enjoying the narrow window - between when my kids all leave home and they start bringing their grandkids to me  - to do some travelling!
Consequently, I have started praying for good health.
Again, I have warned my boys that none of them should think of any 'nonsense' till they are at least 28 years old. I am definitely not praying to be a young grandma anytime soon. Please join me in my prayers. *smile*

3. Tried mind-altering drugs
I know not everyone will agree, but I would have liked to have tried at least one mind-altering drug (alcohol does not count)*smile*
Just to see what the big deal is all about. As I am a wimp, I never did try. I could have because I remember one guy who was always offering me weed - because he wanted me to 'lose my inhibition'. I refused then and told him the 'inhibition' was there to remind me that I should not lower my standards and date him!
Could I still try drugs now?
Frankly, no...because I think my brain is too fragile to play with now, and secondly, with 3 boys, I couldn't even begin to warn them about drugs when I am indulging myself.....!

4. Dated a non-Nigerian
I use the word 'dated' loosely here. All I would have liked to do is to have is s*x with someone of a different colour - Asian, European, Latino, Eskimo....It doesnt really matter. I would have welcomed the opportunity to find out if s*x is any different. I'm sure its not, but I should have found out.
As I am an equal opportunity manager and friend, it beggars belief that I did not extend my colour-blind attitude to 'dating'! It could be that I was only attracted to Nigerians? Possibly, I dont know. I could still cheat and find out, but that is definitely not an option......So this door is definitely closed!

5. Bought a motorbike
I have always wanted  to own a bike. Not some rickety, sad, spluttering bike but a huge, throbbing, monster of a machine that can only be called a 'beast'.....mmmmm!
I still sneak into bike shops whenever I go shopping just to feel the leather seats or to take away some imagery I can use in my dreams *sigh*
I can even tell you that I would truly love to own either a Suzuki GSX-R750 or a Honda CBR 1000RR Fireblade *double sigh*
My hubby doesnt agree as he thinks they are dangerous.
However, I feel one runs a greater risk of dying when you get on a plane or even cross a busy road! So, I do think this wish is NOT going to die as a should have. There's still life in me yet so who knows...................?

P.S: Do have a think about what things you could have, should have or would have done; and let me know.
(If it's too naughty, do leave an anonymous comment....*smile*)