Friday, 29 April 2011

Existing or Living?

I'm sure you have heard that there is a wedding going on?

Yes, Prince William got married to Catherine Middleton today.

I watched a bit of it this morning and I was overwhelmed by how sad I felt.

Sad? Yes sad, because I recalled watching his mother getting married in 1981. I recall thinking how young and happy she looked - and wondering what it must feel like to get married with all that pomp and splendour.

Today, her first son is getting married and all I could think about is that SHE is not there.

*Deep sigh*

Anyway, this post is not a sad post. This is a celebration of the fact that we are alive. 

In the short time that Diana lived, she left her mark - as a loving mother, as a fashionista, as a campaigner, as a woman who could not and would not be ignored

Whatever you are doing, whoever you are, whoever you are with......Leave a mark.

You don''t know how long you have on this earth....You don't know how long your loved ones have on this earth...DONT JUST EXIST...............LIVE!!!

As Oscar Wilde said 'It is better to be talked about, than to never be talked about'  

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Forced Marriage ?

My mind has been dwelling on how much effort goes into raising a child. From the moment a baby is conceived, all the mother's thoughts and plans revolve around the child - What foods to eat or avoid; What items to buy for the baby; How one will cope with childbirth....and so on.

These thoughts and preparations never end. Indeed, with the birth of each child, one realises that parenthood is another name for 'worry'. One worries about everything - from the mundane to the extraordinary:

One worries about their development - are they walking, talking .....?
One worries about their schooling - is the school good, are they being bullied......?
One worries about their friends - are they good friends, are they a good influence on your kids.......?
One even worries about their future - will they succeed, will they be happy.......?

All this worrying is rooted in the feeling that as a parent, your job is to protect your child. While we pray to God that our children grow up safe, happy and healthy; most parents worry - not because they feel they can control everything in their child's life - but, because they wish to be sure that they are doing their best.

With this in mind.........I ask the question: How will the parents of the murdered Corpers feel right now?

All week I have seen news reports about slain Corpers and I have grieved deeply.

These are children that as babies - were suckled by mothers; as toddlers - were fed by loving parents; as teenagers - were counseled and guided by worrying, adoring relatives; and as young adults - were supported by proud parents who watched them graduate and enter into the job market. Starting with the first act of going off - as educated citizens of Nigeria - to Youth Service.

When they got there, some people decided that - because of politics - these children (someone's most precious assets) deserved to die.

Somewhere in Nigeria, parents are wailing as they look at baby pictures of sons and daughters that they had high hopes for.

Somewhere in Nigeria, mothers are crying because children they held to their bosoms and wished safe journey have now been killed in conditions that even a dog will be spared.

Sadly, these attacks have become the norm.

I recall in the nineties, I went to Maiduguri for my youth service. My guardians who were Igbo had lived there for over a decade and ran a successful restaurant. They appeared settled and content with numerous patrons and friends. However, the year after I left Maiduguri, they returned to the South - their restaurant had been burnt to the ground during one of those riots that targeted Southerners.

Twenty years on......we are still dealing with this. How can we call ourselves Nigerians if we are afraid to travel or stay in certain parts of 'our' country? How can we call our children to 'serve our fatherland' when the nation is torn with discord and rancour?

Political analysts and observers are quick to point out that Nigeria as a country is a colonial abberation - an abnormal collection of tribes and cultures that have little in common. The North - South divide serves as evidence of this.

Increasingly, I see Nigeria as a Forced Marriage - peoples with huge differences who are forcibly brought together and who remain together because of a common asset. In most marriages, this asset may be their shared home, children or finances. However, in Nigeria's case, this is oil.

Like all bad marriages....I now wonder if it is time to call it a day? Are the differences now standing in the way of real progress? Do we owe it to future generations to accept that this marriage is not working....and for the sake of peace - part ways and negotiate a feasible divorce settlement ?

Should we be thinking of a referendum to ask Nigerians the question - 'Should Nigeria be split into two?'

Do let me know what you think.....

PS: is sponsoring a petition for ALL youth corpers serving in these volatile states to......:
        - Be withdrawn immediately, redeployed to other states of  their choosing, or be excused for the rest of the service year. 
        - Be excused from serving as electoral officers in the upcoming governorship elections as we are not convinced that adequate and confirmed security can be provided for them.
AND for the identities of all youth corpers who lost their lives in this violence to be made public. 

You can click here to sign the petition

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Verbal Lashes (2)

Sometime ago, I wrote about my love for Proverbs...Pidgin English proverbs to be specific

Well, after a lot of feedback and comments from readers and friends, I have compiled all the proverbs on a Blog page HERE

Do let me know if you have any more to add.

Many thanks

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Coat of Shame

This past week, several news items have resonated with me. These are the news items:

(1) A London based Nigerian lady being convicted of £1.3m fraud
(2) A UK Channel 4 report on Edo state showing how girls take oaths that tie them to a life of prostitution and servitude in Italy

(3) Ex-governor, James Ibori being extradicted to the UK to face allegations of diverting state funds to British banks

Each of these stories resonated with me because there is something about the people involved that I could identify with. This is because If you asked me to describe myself - my origins - I would say...
        - I'm a Nigerian woman from Edo state who now lives in London.

With stories like these, everything about my origins can often be tainted by negative preconceptions:
     From Nigeria?..............Must be a Fraudster!
     From Edo State?..........Must be a Prostitute !
Indeed, when people living abroad hear negative stories about Black people, Africans, Nigerians etc we feel saddened and the usual reaction is that they have somehow shamed 'us'

However, I am making a conscious decision to shed this 'coat of shame'.

      I am NOT responsible for the actions of 350 million plus people. 

While it is fantastic to care about our fellow country men and worry about what they do/ do not do to portray a positive image of Nigeria; I will not be burdened by this. Life is too short to constantly be weighed down by things that are beyond one's control. 

So, when a Non-Nigerian recently mentioned to me that he gets numerous emails from Nigerians - daily - offering him get-rich-quick opportunities.
 I couldn't be bothered giving a diplomatic answer so my response was:                    'And what do you want me to do about it...........?'

I am ONLY responsible for the actions of ME .....and my kids. 
No more, no less.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A dedication

Sunday 3rd April 2011 is Mothers' Day here

It's a day to thank and celebrate mothers. Thinking about this, I started wondering.....Can a woman be defined as a mother only if she has given birth? I think not......

My definition of a mother is a woman who nurtures, cares for and enables others around her grow

As someone who has experienced challenges in having children, I am extremely sensitive to excluding those among us who are not mothers

So, I choose to celebrate all the women who have been instrumental in making me a better and stronger person. For example, when I started blogging, I never expected to encounter so many articulate and intelligent women who make me proud to be a woman. Thank you fellow-bloggers.

The image below depicts one of the things I love about African motherhood - a mother carrying a child on her back .  I dedicate this image - and my little poem below - to all the mothers (women who have supported, nurtured and 'carried' others in this life).

For all the times
I despaired
and you cared.
Thank you

For all the times
I wept
and you made me accept.
Thank you

For all the times
I was afraid
and you made my fears fade.
Thank you

                                           For all the times
                                           I felt helpless
                                           and you made me fearless.
                                            Thank you, thank you, thank you !

Happy Mothers' Day......................xoxoxoxoxoxoxox