Friday, 25 May 2012

Exploring and Questioning Norms ..........Part 2

(2)Elders are always right
I first challenged this belief here and I still believe this is one of the reasons Nigeria has not realised her full potential. Why are we still hearing the same names in politics? It is only in Nigeria we have 'Youth Leaders' who are aged 45 years and above...............

While I accept that most elders have knowledge and experience beyond that of most young people, I also feel that age often comes with caution and older people are more accepting of the status quo. Over the years, most revolutions, inventions and innovations have been delivered by young people. This is because they are still restless enough to ask questions that preempt drastic change, for example ...
'Why is this situation like this?' OR  'How can we make it better/ easier/ faster...?'

A society that ignores its young minds is not ready for progress. While I accept the saying  'What an elder sees sitting down, a child will not see standing up'.....I also agree with the saying 'Age considers; youth ventures' (Rabindranath Tagore)

(3) A childless woman has no value
A lot of women are often made to feel worthless because they are unable to have babies. This is so so wrong. While I accept this is not exclusive to Nigerian culture; I must say that Nigerians are not diplomatic in their disrespect for childless women.
It doesn't seem to matter ......
Whether the woman has discovered the cure for cancer......OR
Whether she has being to space.............OR
Whether she has being awarded a Nobel prize...........OR
Whether she has even been instrumental in the cessation of war or conflict
.......If she never born she no be person (if she hasnt had a child she is not worth much)

I am always amazed when parents who have brought up their daughters to be principled start panicking when the married/unmarried daughter-without-a-child gets to her mid-thirties.

In some cases I have seen these same parents advice their daughter to 'Just have a child before it's too late'. While I attempt to understand their concern; I cant help but despair because (a) It places the women under so much pressure and (b) It makes all their other achievements seem unimportant

(4) Preference for male or female children 
Preference for Male children:  I am always shocked when I hear fellow Nigerians tell me 'I'm lucky' whenever they find out I have only boys. Really? In this day and age? I even recall a Nigerian man telling me that 'daughters are a waste of time because men will marry them and take them away one day. ' Surprisingly, this man was 'educated'

I'm sure we all know of cases where supposedly educated Nigerian men complain that their wives have failed to produce a male child - conveniently forgetting all the Biology lessons they had in secondary school (that it is the father that provides the chromosome that determines the gender of a child).

Preference for female children:  Similarly, I am always told that 'I must have a girl because girls are more likely to take care of me when I am old'..............
How can one predict that? I know daughters who are cold towards their parents and shower more affection on their in laws..........and I know boys who jump whenever their parents need something...

All I know is as I cannot predict the future and see whether my boys will 'take care of me in my old age' ............Also, I cannot keep on having children in an endless quest for a daughter. So, I will love the ones I'm blessed with wholeheartedly. Today has enough worries, let tomorrow take care of itself LOL

Do you feel our Nigerian culture ignores the voice of the young and listens only to the elderly.....??
Do you feel motherhood is the only way a woman can truly be judged as a success.......???
Finally, do you feel young Nigerians still consider the gender of their children as cause for worry........(i.e is there still a preference for female or male children) ???

Stay blessed and see you next Friday for my final post on this topic

Monday, 21 May 2012

Exploring and Questioning Norms ..........Part 1

I want to start by saying thank you to all who visit this blog and follow my 'rambling' posts. I am really grateful to you all for an opportunity to share my thoughts. *kiss* *kiss*

Now today's post:

One of my favourite authors is Malcolm Gladwell - a Psychologist

In his book - Outliers, The Story of Success - he has a chapter titled 'The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes' where he discusses the impact of culture on airline safety

In summary, he talks about how 'Power Distant Cultures'  (where younger/ less powerful people accept that  they are required to defer and obey older/ more powerful people); seem to have have higher levels of plane crashes. This is because  because junior crew members find it difficult to correct the senior official - The pilot. It makes fascinating reading and got me thinking about my culture.......

In Nigerian culture, we very much defer to our elders and this can be a good thing in most cases BUT it can also be a bad thing.

In my next three posts, I will share some some of our cultural norms I now question....(Disclaimer: By 'Nigerian culture', I mean general cultural norms - not tribe specific):

(1) The eldest child should be responsible for his/her younger siblings..............:
I have seen instances where so much pressure has been put on the first child that s/he is forced to do things they should not have done. While I understand that some of them have lost their primary breadwinner i.e. their dad.....In most cases, they are pushed to provide for their siblings by their parents.

An example:
A friend of mine (let's call her Liz) told me about a conversation she overhead sometime ago.......

In those days before mobile phones became common in Nigeria, one of Liz's neighbours had a defective landline so this neighbour often came to Liz's parents house to receive phone calls.

This neighbour had a daughter in Italy who called home from time to time. Anytime this girl called, her mum and numerous siblings would crowd round the phone excitedly. The phone conversation would often begin with the girl crying to her mother - About how her 'madam' was forcing her to do 'extra hours'.....About how she often was not given food........About how the 'madam' took most of her money.......etc etc

Surprisingly, her mother would listen patiently and then pass the phone to her siblings. Each of her siblings would then proceed to tell her....
'Sister, dont forget to send my jeans oh'.........
'Sister, dont forget to send my shoes oh'.........
'Sister, my birthday is coming oh'......
.........on and on until the mum took the phone and concluded along the lines of:
'Dont worry my daughter, it shall be well. Try and work hard so we can put our enemies to shame'

So, basically this mother - and siblings - were telling this 'overworked ashewo-of-a-daughter' to bear whatever stress she was under, sell herself to the highest bidder and expose herself to AIDS ...... as long their needs were met. (ashewo = prostitute). God help us !!

 In my opinion, it is not right for able bodied parents to put the load of bringing up their own children on the shoulders of a young son/ daughter.

While I accept the truth in the saying 'He who eats alone, chokes alone'.....I also accept the truth in the saying 'Better to be alone than in bad company'
So, do you think our culture puts unfair pressure on first-born children? Let me know what you think about this...............................

(Part 2 on Friday)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Your Elevator Pitch

*Elevator pitch  is a short summary used to quickly and simply describe why a product, service, or organization is special or unique. The summary should excite and convince others................:  

Sometime last month, I was fortunate to meet an inspirational gentleman who gave a good talk.  I feel his message benefit you all. The basis of his talk was a comparison of two profiles:

PERSON A......................:

- Born 1968
- Parents separated when she was 6 years old
- Became a victim of sexual abuse at 7 years
- Failed her O Level exams at end of secondary school
- After 3 attempts at JAMB, she gained admission into university to study Sociology 
- Impregnated by her married lover aged 22 years old when she was in her final year at university
- Unmarried mother aged 23 years old
- Aged 24 years old, unemployed and depressed
- Aged 26 years old, her fiance called of the wedding at the last minute
- Unemployed aged 28 years old

PERSON B.........................:
- Born 1968
- Grew up in a very loving home
- Graduated top of her class aged 22 years old
- Created her own NGO aged 24 years old
- Gained a Masters Degree in Global Health aged 28 years old
- Employed by prestigious global health body aged 29 years old

Looking at the two profiles, which person would you say is now a successful proffessional with three children, a loving husband and a happy home......................???

Of course most people often choose the second person. However, both profiles belong to the same person....How.....?? Here's how..........:
- She was born in 1968
- Her parents did separate when she was 6 years old. However, she grew up surrounded by a loving mother and grandparents
- She was sexually abused by a neighbour who was baby sitting her when she  was 7 years old 
- She did fail her O levels at first attempt because she was 'distracted' by friends and parties
- However, she passed them on second attempt
- Despite repeated attempts she did not get the required marks for her preferred course (Law)
- At her third attempt at Jamb, she gained admission to study Sociology
- While at university, she discovered she absolutely loved Sociology and Anthropology and shone
- Unfortunately, while at university she had an affair with a married man who convinced her that his marriage was on its last legs
- She then got pregnant in her final year and abortion was not an option (especially as her mum found out)
- With the support of her mum and grandmother, she graduated top of her class after having the baby
- However, aged 24 years old, she suffered a crisis of confidence and became depressed
- Luckily, with the support of her family (especially an auntie who was a UK based medical doctor) she overcame this and set up an NGO for young, single mothers
- She met a man the next year and they got engaged the following year
- The man's mother was always against the relationship and at the last minute the 'mummy's boy' called off the wedding
- Aged 27, she won a scholarship to study for a Masters Degree in Global Health
- After graduating, she found herself unemployed aged 28 years old 
- Happily, her strong dissertation, volunteering experience, supportive mentors and NGO background secured her a position with a prestigious global health body aged 29 years old

The message behind this is that - We all have ups and downs; We all make stupid mistakes; We all stumble and fall; We all lose at some point in time; We all fail at some point............

However, it is up to you to decide what to focus on...Your successes or Your Failures?

If there's one thing I know it is that generally, people are very willing to remind you of what you lack or where you have failed...........However, it is up to you to remind yourselves - and everyone - about your success.

You must walk around with an elevator pitch in your head - of what makes you special, of what gifts you have and of why you are a survivor.

If you don't believe you a great - and that you deserve to be here one else will.

See you soon

(images from: )

Friday, 11 May 2012

Tags and Hugs

Before I begin, I want to say thanks to my 'brethren' who keep on checking up on me. I really, really, really appreciate this. Love to you all.

While I have been 'absent', My dear powerhouse Simply Mee gave me an award. Thank you my sister.

I'm sure you guys know the love I have for this woman so I will not bore you with the respect I have for this woman. Let me just say I have the utmost respect for her because she is not afraid to say 'This is me...No sugar coating...No Effizy.....No Pretence !!' Love it !!

Anyway, the award requires me to......
#1 Post the rules
#2 Post 11 things about myself.
#3 Answer the questions that my tagger posted for me
#4 Create 11 questions, then choose 11 people and tag them to answer your questions.
#5 Remember to let them know you tagged them.
#6 No tag backs.
#7 Let the tagger know when you answered their questions.

11 Things about myself:
- I prefer the company of very old and very young people. They are less judgmental and appreciate life more
- I find men easier to deal with
- I am really mischievous and I constantly find humour in most situations, Indeed, I believe I have a resident comedian in my head LOL
- I cant stand lateness especially when it is habitual
- I am really organised
- I dont like doing things half heartedly. I believe that if you are going to do something, do it properly......always give your all
- I cannot stand liars
- I cannot stand people who flaunt their wealth or status
- I avoid judging people because I know I am flawed
- I love to dance
- I feel younger now than I felt when I was 21

Here are my answers to my sister's questions:
1)What hairstyle are you currently rocking?.......At the moment, its pulled back in a little bun. My hair is natural but I use weave-on from time to time. 
2)How long did you spend in primary school?.....I spent six years
3)What is your naughtiest moment ?......I have soooo many. Okay, here's one: when I was little, I loved to outwit my mum. One Christmas eve, me and my sisters wanted some of the fried meat and my mum refused. We stole some and hid it in our hair. LOL Please dont judge me! LOL 

Heres another - My dad didnt like us drinking fizzy drinks but I often took sprite or seven up and poured it into a cup ...and had it on the dinning table with my meal. My dad never knew! LOL
4)How do you express your anger?.......I go really quiet because I avoid speaking in anger. It also allows me think how best to deal with the issue. 
5)What would you spend your last penny on?......A good meal and a good book 
6)When was the last time you treated yourself to a niceeeeeee warm food?...Today. I made nice pepper soup with catfish and chicken. We had it with pounded yam! :)
7) Who was the last person you said  "I love you " to? ........My sons as they left for bed a minute ago.
8) What is your favourite take away dish?.......I have to choose Nigerian: Suya and Foreign: Chinese - Mixed seafood (scallops, mussels, prawns, squid in oyster sauce) and egg fried rice. Tooooo good.
9) How do you eat in public, spoon, knife, fork or hands, loud, quiet, slow, fast etc?....Knife and fork. Really slow because I'm often talking to someone....LOL 
10)Do you polish your shoes? ....Definitely. I like to be 'on point' LOL
11)What are your thoughts on after Life
?....As a Catholic, we believe in Heaven as the ultimate destination after death. However, I do believe there have been instances of reincarnation and that the world is full of unexplained mysteries. For example I have had dreams that have seen the future. The only way to find out what is on the 'other side' is to die. I rather not..... so, I feel we should be kind to each other because nobody really knows for certain what happens when we die.  

That's done !!

Unfortunately, I cant tag anyone because I think practically everyone has done this. Hope you dont mind.

Instead, could I please ask readers to respond to this:
List Three things that you like about yourself........and Three things you dont.

See you soon.... I promise to post on Monday.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx BIG HUG xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx