Unceasing rain, an acute case of writer’s block and everything in between

A short while ago, I almost gave up blogging. I had got my custom domain name last year, which meant that I got rid of the wordpress.com addition to my blog name. Perhaps I had thought that the action would transform my blog into something better than the toddler it was/still is. In other words, I tried standing an adult on a toddler’s legs. I’d probably thought, somewhere in my subconscious, that a move in that direction would make me a wellspring of creative ideas on what to write about. The crushing disappointment shown by a cursor steadily blinking at you from your screen, is perhaps one of the most exasperating representations of writer’s block.

 

For people of my kind who fell in love with words at a young age, writing about the things that matter to us is, as I like to put it, like a wild bird in a cage,  flapping about and looking for escape. Writing, for us, is the key to the lock of that cage. The release felt from putting thoughts to paper, (or from keyboard to monitor) is pretty much indescribable. That people actually read what you write is the icing on the cake. Knowing that even one person, read your work and was influenced positively, (especially with  the population of clickbait swimming all over the ocean of the Internet) is the best thing ever. There has never been so much to read on the Internet as there is right now. It is a humbling realization knowing that: you have a gift, but so do others. There’s no rule that says your work must be read. I do not know if this helps the case of writer’s block, but it does help put things in perspective . I like to metaphorize writer’s block as many wild birds flapping in a cage, with you the writer and cage owner, frantically searching for the keys to the lock, and coming up empty regardless of the effort.

 

For seven days in a row, there have been rains in Lagos. Eight days, depending on your area. For Lagosians, this means traffic even worse than usual, runny noses and coughs every direction you turn, dreary weather and floods in differing proportions (the island is worst hit. All hail our government for trying to push water away to create land for more ridiculously expensive highbrow dwellings that get submerged every year. Well, the water is pushing back.).

Depressing stuff.

I do not work a nine to five job but rather do the field stuff and work from home a lot, making my earnings by way of commissions (which have taken a nosedive since the onset of 2017. Don’t mention the R word). Padding around the house in the complete home-high-fashion ensemble of sweater, thick socks and a blanket plus my (really dorky) glasses, drinking a hot beverage and reading two books alternately, I realize I cannot quit blogging. Not now, at least. While I might never write the great novel, this precious space gives me most of what I need to unclutter my cerebral apartment. There are so many beautiful, interesting, exciting, thought provoking, emotion inducing things to write about, so I’m not getting off this train yet. If I did, the wild bird might flap till it gets tired, starves and dies. That’d be a crying shame.

adler-589599_960_720

A great writer once wrote, “you can’t edit a blank page”. Reading that quote motivated me to put pen to paper, and here we are, a full page already!

 

It’s my birthday in a few days. Every year I unconsciously expect a new birthday to usher in a changed version of my person, but it’s the same face in the mirror and the same personality year after year. The main change, is a new kind of awareness, mostly in response to events, whether planned or incidental.

 

For those longest time, dating back to my teenage years even, I had regarded the sayings “you are as old or as young as you decide to be”, “age is just a number”, and “it’s never too late to start” dubiously. I felt like they were used by people desperately trying to reclaim a lost or misspent youth. Until I began to find myself feeling like a tired, world-weary 50 year old trapped in a lissom, 20 year old body; or a playful, fun-loving 10 year old prankster trapped in a 24 year old body.

I have done the proponents of these sayings a great disservice. I think I finally get it.

Here’s to being the best versions of ourselves. 🍸And to never quitting. 🍸

Love, Chibugo.

Bumped into old classmates? Shocking changes you likely came across

Whether it was secondary school or university, your last few days at school were likely filled with bittersweet partings and promises to keep in touch(which you probably broke after less than a year). At that point in time, you probably couldn’t imagine a life outside your current circle of friends. But, as time went on and everyone pursued their passions, life got in the way and your communication became limited to liking their pictures on Facebook. Pictures in which all was well with the world and they were leading perfect, manicured lives.

girl-882336__180

Perhaps they are. Perhaps they’re not. But I can tell you certainly that bumping into an old classmate whether from secondary school or university, is bound to hold a number of surprises for you. Key phrase : bumping into.

We know all about reunions, but everyone gets a period of time to prepare for that. Most want to impress, to show how far they’ve come. Not a bad thing, especially if you were seen as not likely to succeed back in the school days. In preparation, you could always lose a few kilograms, get an expensive weave installed, go for a facial and a full makeover, or get a shiny car to make everyone green with envy.

But it’s a different ball game when you bump into each other. You are unprepared, physically, mentally  and socially, except you had a genuine friendship with the person, or you really are just that kind of happy, open person. Changes are mostly physical (of course, duh) and career/success wise, and they come in  an expectation-versus-reality kind of comparison that leaves us either mightily awed or totally disappointed.

 

I couldn’t end this article without sharing a few experiences.

Physical.

It adds up: the years and the weight. A moderate number of us added a few kilograms here and there(secondary school classmates) which didn’t look bad in most cases, in fact they mostly look really good, while almost all my uni classmates have added obvious weight. I once bumped into an old uni classmate who had become so big(wide, more like), that for a moment I was actually scared of saying hi to him.  Seeing as skinniness is not particularly a desired trait in our society, I do not say this proudly but I am one of the few who remained almost the same. 53kg in my final year of secondary school, 55kg close to a decade after. Oh well.

Some become unrecognizable. I once saw a lady and wondered at how she looked so eerily familiar. By the time I finally realized who she was, I was shocked as well as curiously awed. She had gone from Viola Davis to Halle Berry within 7 years(at the time) and not in a very attractive way. I have always held a strange curiosity and awe for people who effect drastic changes in their physical appearance without feeling guilty or weird about it all. Of course it was normal for everyone to go one to three shades lighter, being that we were now mostly in control of our lives and hardly had reason to walk under the scorching 3 o’clock sun. We all know that Lagos sun has no pity on day students, especially if you walk to and from school everyday. But doing a skin tone overhaul a la Michael Jackson? Left me gobsmacked. So don’t feel bad if you actually don’t recognize an old classmate. I’ve been told this is the least astonishing thing to see. Imagine realizing that a former classmate had become a criminal. Yeah, I thought  so too. (I actually came up with the criminal part).

Expectation versus reality

Most didn’t turn out to be what everyone had expected. This made me realize that school smart doesn’t equate world success.

Some who we had expected some kind of high flying career from, those who had that lethal beauty+brains combo, ended up settling really comfortably into motherhood and family life.

Some who weren’t so pretty and were mostly invisible and shy, somehow went to the market and bought confidence. Yep. I’ve got one foot in this group.

Some who were super smart and who came from families with good pedigree to boot, ended up doing just, well, average.

Some who had been break-neck beautiful turned out really quite average too. Sometimes even below average. Can’t really understand this one.

Some got wild. I mean from religious or average moral young man/woman to promiscuous living-nightclub hopping-body piercing-tattooed-smoking and drinking-half naked pictures on social media-human. Shame.

Some actually turned out as expected and did very well for themselves in their fields. Vera Chika Ani, who always got almost all the prizes on  prize giving day, went on to bag a first class in engineering and is currently working comfortably somewhere in the United States. Ebunoluwa Taiwo, smart and quick witted, is currently a doctor. Modupe Ola, which most Nigerians know by her stage name of Mo ‘Cheddah, began showing what she would be from those days. Even being in a Catholic all-girls school didn’t stop that. There are many others, these are just a few.

Many, no, A LOT of us ended up practicing in fields as different from what we studied as Biology is different from Economics. Who would have thought?

It helps to know that, you are not alone in the struggle to be something in life. Seeing old classmates makes you realize how far you’ve come, or how far you’ve yet to go. But, never be condescending or overly awed, because in the race of life, overtaking is allowed. The way you look at someone who hasn’t quite achieved as much as you, is the way someone(in your set) higher in accomplishments than you are, will probably look at you. Over and above all, remember that your biggest competition is YOURSELF.

Like I always say, life is one well-spiced pot of jollof rice. 

Feel free to share your own experiences. I can’t wait to hear them all!

Sincerely, Chibugo.

The world is love starved: the case of Dr Orji

I have often wondered what goes through the mind of suicidal persons just before they took their lives. Just how bad could it have been that taking a life you didn’t give yourself became a better option?

model-829048__180

The thing about depression is, it creeps up on one very stealthily. It is a situation sometimes beyond one’s control, therefore it becomes the function of those who are around the sufferer to make him or her feel better and take steps to come out of it.

How good a neighbour have you(and I) been? When you ask, how are you doing? Do you listen to the answer, both spoken and unspoken? The case of Dr Orji who recently jumped off the third mainland bridge made me exceptionally sad. Medicine is a field in which people are trained to solve the health problems of mankind. Doctors are seen as one of the most important threads in the fabric of every healthy society. Why then are the statistics of suicide among doctors worldwide unnecessarily high? I used to think Nigeria was an exception; enter the peculiar case of Dr Orji.

He had a car. Most Nigerians will assume he was doing well. I mean, in the present state of the country how many can afford a Nissan SUV? It is difficult to think that the people we look up to, bare our most intimate problems to, and respect profoundly, have the same ills as we do. Unfortunately, they do. We are all human first, before anything else. Sometimes, one call or message is all it takes to make the difference.

I was once in a peculiar situation that involved matters of the heart. Depression had set in and even though suicidal thoughts aren’t my thing, that was perhaps the lowest I had ever felt in my life. The worst part? I live with my family but no one knew what was up. I shed all my tears in private and tried to put up a brave face outside. How I got through it? The very moment I realized my “situation”, I fell into a state of psychological trauma and I don’t know what would have come next if not for the message. The message came from my best friend all the way from another part of the country. This, dear reader, is how I pulled through. It was a simple “Hello dearie. Kedu? It’s been a while. How are you?” from her on BBM that pulled me back into the light. Having a shoulder to lean on that period, is something I will be eternally grateful for. She followed up, till I got back on my feet. FYI, my family still has no clue. This taught me empathy. I realized you could live with someone and not know how that person felt or what that person was going through.

Also, for anyone who has ever been in a bad situation, so bad that he thought it would never get better, I have  a story to tell you, though I cannot take credit for it. A certain king asked his wise men to create for him, something that would remind him whenever he was extremely happy, that the happiness of this world was ephemeral, and when he was down-in-the-dumps sad, would remind him that the sun would shine again. They were a bunch of very wise men, and so when they were through with their brainstorming, they returned to him with something: a ring. On the ring was engraved a short declaration :”This Too Shall Pass”. Believe me, it shall pass. What you cried so despondently about yesterday, may eventually become something to teach you invaluable life lessons that will take you to your Eldorado.

My point? Empathy is never too much. Goodness knows the world needs it. True, we get our fair share of kicks and blows from life, but indeed,, life isn’t worth living if we cannot be of help to others. That’s why we’re here in the first place. It is easy to get caught up in daily routine and not notice what’s happening to someone we see everyday.

Listen. Please, listen. Even if you don’t feel anything amiss, reach out occasionally.

If you’re down, please, suicide is never the answer. Reach out. There is still love.

Sincerely, Chibugo.

Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. – Albert Schweitzer

Please share!

 

I believe that one day, Nigeria shall rise again: the #9jagobeta campaign

At a time like this, it will take a diehard optimist to still believe that Nigeria will one day heave a sigh of relief from the heavy plagues that besiege her by the day.

Polongo media came up with the #9jagobeta campaign and I was only happy to be asked to do a piece on what this movement stands for. Read on.

#9jagobeta is a state of the mind.

The real change Nigeria needs, which should have been wrought a long time ago, is a mentality  change of the average Nigerian. Nigeria as a nation is after all, made up of Nigerians as people. There is the first problem: we move as though a hopeless people; as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel, or any  hope of it. True, it is difficult to foster hope in the midst of rising costs of the most basic necessities of life, in the midst of so much pain and unrest in the land. But I say to you:FB_IMG_1485989995584

A hard thing to do, given the current national situation; an almost impossible mindset, even. For a people chafing at the bits, it is an almost scandalous message to propagate. But remember, it begins in your mind. Hope and anger seldom reside together. We feel oppressed, straining under the weight of the after effects of bad leadership and corruption in high places. As a matter of fact, we have gone through too much.

We need to make our voices heard. We feel the need to protest against the malfunctionings of an insensitive government, and rightly so. I say, go right ahead, for it is our human right. The government is after all, an institution set up by the people, ultimately for the benefit of the same people. It is made up of mere mortals, as opposed to gods with who we can have no dialogue. Whatever we do, and whatever our modus operandi, remember to

FB_IMG_1485990010089

Never has a seed germinated and grown on constantly harassed soil. Speak and act, but with an intent for peace

In the 21st century, miracles seldom occur without human participation. We await a time when things will change for the better, an idyllic time, when the future will not  loom so dark before us all. But to sit with folded arms and watch, will be the greatest sin of all.

FB_IMG_1485990018021

Be diligent at your God given work, at utilizing your talents, at fighting back the recession. Work hard, work smart, work legal. Work, but then remember also to

FB_IMG_1485990029464

I know. The Young Nigerian wonders if there is a God in heaven, with all the pangs of hunger we “prayerful” Nigerians have had to endure. Let us, however, not lose hope or stop praying. Tolerance of one another’s religion, will help us foster the peace needed for the seeds of restoration to grow. Be not  a nation of liars. We have gained a nasty reputation for being corrupt.

We cannot pray from the same lips we spew lies and speak words that oppress the poor, and yet expect to have the ear of our Creator. Not happening. FB_IMG_1485990383599

Say no to bribery and corruption. Train your children to say no as well.  It all begins with you and me. Every person in high office was once part of the masses, and every adult was once a child.  Therefore, adopting this mindset will ensure that when in positions of power, we have our heads screwed on right  and every man gets his due.

FB_IMG_1485990400363

Yes, be kind. For regardless of how tough it is for Mr Ahmed, it is tougher for a certain Mr Bayo, and a little worse for one Mr Okoro. Be your brother’s keeper. Kindness is not a trait found in weak people, but then, we are a nation of strong, resilient people. So, it  goes without saying that, to have a heart for kindness, we need to

FB_IMG_1485990407327

Real strength is tested when you are able to look outside of yourself and help others even when times are not kind to you.

Innovation is the key  to escaping the quagmire called stagnation, or worse, retrogression. Re-strategizing and coming up with new ways to do everyday things, is the key to open new doors of revenue and problem solving inventions.

FB_IMG_1485990415073

It is  a talent inherent in every man. Tap into it. It may take one try, it may take a thousand. But for a people with a purpose, the number of trials will remain just that: a number. This is because all great people have something in common. They are determined, and so should you be.

FB_IMG_1485990422875

In  a nation of over 250 ethnic groups, there is bound to be a clash of interests and occasional conflict. A lot of water has gone under the bridge called Nigeria  in this context, and so in the spirit of brotherliness and peace, we are called to

FB_IMG_1485990474990

Do not ask, what tribe? Or, what religion? Just do it. Show love to all, regardless of anything and everything. Strive for unity, for only a united nation can conquer the tribulations that come with development.

Every one of us, has something to offer, something custom made, that when brought to the communal table, makes more meaning in union with the contributions of others FB_IMG_1485990539663

We are all created for a greater purpose, and what a shame it would be if we hid our true selves under a bushel so as to show forth a facade in order to blend in. You are a gift, you yourself. Your idea, your work, your influence, could make a difference. Do not hide your light under that bowl. Do not.

Still, the pangs of childbirth may be painful and life threatening, but for the child to be born at last, we all have to

FB_IMG_1485990568112

Not as a sign of weakness or laziness, but a sign that we believe in the fruitfulness of the work we have put in.

Of  a painful truth, we have boko haram, yet we are stable enough to feel sorry for Syria and Yemen and Iraq; we have been badly represented on the international scene by Nigerian fraudsters and drug dealers, yet our children are at the very top in Ivy League schools; there is hunger in the land, but we are fighting valiantly, and slowly but surely, WE SHALL WIN.

FB_IMG_1485990602511Be grateful for the pains of today and the moments of reprieve that are becoming increasingly few and far between. Be grateful for them, for through them, we shall appreciate the joys of tomorrow.

THIS IS A MESSAGE OF HOPE. 

Sincerely, Chibugo.

PS : don’t just read, share the hope around. Share on your social media accounts and tag friends. You never know, you just may be rekindling the fire of hope that has dimmed in the hearts of our fellow Patriots.

Keep believing. #9jagobeta