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.

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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.

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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.

Likes, comments and follows: the new world powers.

One time, after posting something on Facebook and getting instant comments and likes, I decided that the feeling it elicited was similar to the feeling I get when I walk into a gathering and hear many people call out my name in greeting. Happy. Wanted. Liked. Except it’s temporary. When the gathering ends, everyone goes home.

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The fact that being liked/loved is a human need, is an established fact. But, how far would you go for a like, a comment, a retweet, or a follow? It sometimes helps to know that people do not see the world through the same lens as you. Perhaps then, you’d realize that there are more to you than the number of likes your post got.

You are what you follow. It goes without saying. You like art, you’ll follow art pages. You like music, you’ll follow artists who sing your kind of music. You like food, you’ll follow food pages and drool over meals you know you’ll never cook.

Kim Kardashian has a hundred million followers on Instagram. She inspires them. To do what exactly? I’m not sure. But, you know, she says it’s to help them own up to their flaws and love themselves regardless. How that translates to having your naked body on every social media platform and proudly displaying your “well oiled butt” (sorry Nedoux, I had to borrow that phrase from you), I do not know. But when you feel like you’re not getting enough love in virtual reality, just know that 100,000,000 people have as their inspiration, a person who, on receiving an award for “breaking the Internet”, pledged “naked selfies until I die”. (That was supposed to be sarcastic)

It starts really innocently. From just a little cleavage, to just a little thigh, to just a little midriff, till the members without covering exceed the parts clothed. The erosion in values begins when we realize we have this fabulous thing, our bodies, perhaps, or our expensive things, something enviable either way, and we feel we do not have to keep this wonderful, beautiful thing in hiding anymore. It’s time to let the world know we have arrived. Anything for the blue and white thumbs-up.

Then come the likes and the comments. Hot. Sexy. Slay mama. We are pushed to do more. If that photo could get me 100 likes, perhaps this raunchier one might get me 150. Deeper and deeper we sink, till our esteem depends on what’s hot, what’s trending, what’s hip. These likes, they’re like a drug. The more we take, the more we crave. New body editing apps that get us slimmer cheeks and clear skins come up everyday, but, really, how useful are they to our true persona? Even writing this, I see many teenagers and millenials  roll their eyes at me like “you’re so 1999”. I could live with that.

Do you, they say. You only live once, others say. Pledging to give us naked selfies till you die might be a good idea to you, but if you reach the ripe old age of ninety, I doubt that the most hardy fan would still be interested in you. I think when we realize that one day all that will be left of us is a mass of sand and bones, we’ll leave a more lasting legacy than Internet fluff.

One more thing. When you walk into a gathering and many people call out your name in greeting, it IS a good thing. What isn’t good is thinking that if you were to be in an accident one of those people would donate an organ for you. Nope.

Not trying to generalize but I’m sure you get my drift.

It’s good to be back here. I’ve been busy, really busy. Hopefully the results of my “busyness” will bear good fruit and I’ll come on here to share the news.

Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her. – Lao Tzu

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?

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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 

Why new year resolutions are really important

If anyone had told me I would stay three months away from this blog of mine for ANY reason, I would have placed my hand on grandpa’s grave to swear never. This is my awkward way of apologizing.

Anyway, I went through some pretty tough times emotionally, which tested my personality quite harshly, and I’m glad to say I’m in a better place now.

On entering the new year, I made a rough list if resolutions that I intend to stand by. Most people think of new year resolutions as pretty lame stuff, but trust me, they’re not. Some of us also go about it wrongly. If perhaps, you’re a goal oriented person and you plan to save half a million this year and it turns out you only saved 350,000, it’s not something you’re supposed to kill yourself over. You replan  for another year, trying new strategies that have the strengths the old ones didn’t, and you achieve what you want!

What I have learned about making resolutions though, is not to focus solely on goals, but on self development and fulfilment while working towards my goals and even after having achieved them. Looking at the goal alone makes you suddenly bereft when you’ve achieved it and seemingly have no challenge ahead anymore.

This year, I decided to go with the Pope’s list. It pretty much summed up all I had already drawn up, and I was pleasantly surprised.

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I had an “ouch” moment when I read number 2. I still struggle with finishing my meals when I eat alone. Of all the things! 😢

All in all, I resolved to be more hands on in my approach to life and helping others. So far, these have guided me really well, and it’s just one month gone. If you haven’t made one, it’s not late yet. In addition, I made a few more.

1. Do not dwell on the “what ifs”  and the “would have beens” from your past. Look to what lies ahead.

2. Visit your bucket list more often and everytime you do, take an item off it. Live.

3. Do not buy what you do not need.

4. Work like you have no one but yourself, and pray like you have no one but God.

5. Blog more often. Shorter posts, more pictures. 😁

It’s also not just about writing resolutions. It’s about visiting them often to see that you’re still in line and they’re not just a to do list for the month of January.

What are your resolutions like? Anything unusual? Anything you’d like to share? Anything at all? I’m happy to hear them! Drop them right in the comment box and let’s all get a-learning.

On this note, I wish you a happy new year! Like my people say, Whatever time a man wakes up, that is his morning. 

Looking forward to more posts this year, and I hope all your plans for 2017 come through!

Kisses and hugs,

Sincerely, Chibugo.

Where are you from? What language do you speak?

It’s been a minute. Being away from this beloved space for a whole month has made me realize how “busy” I’ve been recently. I’ve missed writing here, but for the love of all I hold dear, I can’t seem to find the creative strength to write a new piece. #writersblock. And so I have dusted this up from my drafts. It’s a post that should have come up sometime in August, but I never got round to it. Old but gold; to me anyway. Enjoy.

When I was about to begin secondary school, father made a rule at home: We were all to speak Igbo and nothing else. We took it for one of those rules that never lasted. It took one brain-resetting knock on the head from Father to an unlucky scapegoat for us to know that this rule had come to stay. Smh #Nigerianparents

In this day and age, one might ask, “what’s the need of learning a language that won’t pay my bills, probably has no value on the global scale, won’t help the situation of the country, won’t help me progress in my career, and probably will not add anything of value to me personally”? A good question, but one which I will not even attempt to answer. I will only try to appeal to your reasoning.

I can only say my point of view, and invite you to chime in. My belief is that when the gazillion languages in the world were created, there was a purpose for it. Language is an intrinsic part  of every culture, and you cannot claim to be a member of a culture when you have no interest in the language.

I find it weird when I see children of people who live abroad speaking Yoruba and Igbo and Hausa fluently, while homegrown children cannot make a complete sentence in their language. The worst part, I have noticed, is that 80% of these “team no native language” children do not even speak English correctly. Shame. It’s a different thing if you have decided to renounce your heritage, after all, there are tons of people in the UK and the US who try everything possible to rid themselves of everything that identifies them as  Nigerian. I have nothing to say about this lot; I’m not proud of the fact but I’m sure they have their reasons.

Say, we’re in a gathering of young people from different parts of the world, and it gets to the social part where we get to introduce ourselves and tell a bit about where we come from. Jean easily introduces himself as French and can speak his language to prove it, Juanita is Spanish and very proud of the fact, easily speaks her native language , Bill is the only native Englishman, but knows a sprinkling of German, Lee is Chinese, and speaks nothing but his native language at home. Last but not the least, comes Obi, who speaks nothing but English. He says he is Nigerian, he answers an Igbo name, has Nigerian parents, but has nothing else that links him to his native land. Okay, maybe I painted that scenario but, now you see what “rootlessness” can mean.

What irks me to no end, is the fact that some parents deliberately prevent their children from learning their native language. Why, in heaven’s name? I remember someone telling me with a proud smirk “I don’t speak Igbo, you know”. I don’t know if she expected me to start jumping for joy. Ngwanu, clap for yasef! 👏👏 There is a pride of association when you belong to  a certain tribe or group of people, because regardless of the ills they are known for, there must be something good about them. My Igbo brothers are known worldwide for being very money smart, even if it means doing illegal stuff. There is almost always an Igbo name when criminals are being listed abroad for crimes like drug peddling. That’s still not enough to blind my eyes to the awesomeness of being an Igboman, knowing my history and culture, and having good background to drive positive change for the future. I remember reading what Adichie wrote on tribe and language (paraphrased) :

I am Nigerian because a white man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am black because the white man constructed black to be as different as possible from his white. But I was Igbo before the white man came”.

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We have absolutely no reason to feel that our language is inferior to any other language in any way, be it Yoruba, Igbo,  Hausa, or any other Nigerian language. True, maybe the Igbo tribe is made up of little more than 30 million people as against the rest of the billions of other people in the world, but that should be more reason we would want to put the language on the map more boldly. Pride of identity, isn’t it? I am speaking for my own language, in this instance, but I’m aware that this is not an exclusive ill. What we lack is a sense of identity. I get it. Nigeria is plagued by so many problems and no one would want to be associated with such failure when away from home. But, really, when all is said and done, it’s also not cool, losing your identity in a world where people are trying hard to hold on to the shreds of theirs. Your mother tongue is a treasure that should be preserved. According to fountain magazine,

Mother tongue is one of the most powerful tools used to preserve and convey culture and cultural ties. Children who are unaware of their culture, their language and their history will lose confidence in themselves, the family, society and the nation to which they belong and will have no other option than seeking an alternate identity. A child will associate himself with the language and culture he knows best…. Parents should find ways to help their children maintain and improve their mother language without neglecting to give affirmative messages and keeping positive attitudes about other cultures. We must not also forget that we live in a multicultural society and we should teach our children to learn about other cultures and respect them as well.

Note that being fluent in our language and knowledgeable about our culture and history should not in any way affect the value of other cultures in our eyes. I, personally, have a great respect for the richness of the Yoruba traditions, and the pride with which they display them locally and globally. I am not even as fluent as I would like to be in Igbo; a couple weeks ago an elderly client of mine whom I’d come to respect a lot told me a proverb and it took me a few minutes to unscramble it. Made me appreciate the language more, I tell you. One new proverb added to my repertoire.

I also discovered that many parents are quite clueless. I mean, if you grew up never having travelled to your hometown, knowing only bits and pieces of your mother tongue, and being ignorant about the tradition of your own people, it goes without saying, that your children will be even more clueless. At the liaison office of my state here in Lagos some weeks back, I witnessed a complicated situation. A young man(very handsome if I might add)  needed his state of origin certificate, but did  not know the town he came from. I was dumbfounded, to say the least. Even after doing some research and almost trying to trace his ancestry😁, we were stuck. He was raised by a single mother, and over the phone she was almost as clueless as he was. Eventually, after like a hundred phone calls, a relative hundred times removed, arrived and helped to rectify the situation. I was pproud of one thing though. Despite never having been home, he could manageably speak his language. It’s never too late to learn, anyway. First of all, I believe the stereotypes have to be dispelled.

1. Speaking your native language fluently does not in any way make you less sophisticated. I actually find my native language, Igbo, very sexy. Ignore the weirdness, it’s just me. Doesn’t mean I find the phonological interference funny when I hear people speak Igbotic English. Contradictory, no. There’s a balance somewhere in between.

2. Speaking only English or whatever predominant world language, without knowing your own native language, is not a sign of being knowledgeable. You actually get better at other languages when you have a good grip of your own language.

That said, how do we ensure that we don’t raise a bereft generation Z?

1. Making your native language a language of love, rather than a language of strife. I remember that as kids, mother spoke Igbo to us mostly when she was mad at us and wanted to scold us. It made us respond with fear, rather than interest. But after years of travel and meeting people back east who spoke nothing but Igbo to us, we saw it as a way of life. I dream in Igbo and I think in Igbo frequently. Father also had a habit of telling us Igbo folklore, featuring “mbe”, the tortoise, and his cunning ways, and other animals like “agu” the tiger, “odum” the Lion, “enwe” the monkey, and “Enyi” the elephant. Good times😍

2. That brings me to the second point: travelling to your hometown as frequently as possible. I probably learnt more Igbo proverbs eavesdropping on my father’s conversations with his fellow kindred men than I learnt in Igbo class. Following mother to the local markets in the village also helped us learn many colloquial terms we would never have come across on our own.

3. Reading to them in your native language. In the year that father made the law about speaking only Igbo, we began a daily rotation of the Igbo Bible at morning devotion. After stumbling for months over the words, we became much more fluent in reading Igbo than most of our peers. Go dad!

4. In the case that you also do not know the language, learn with them! It’s never too late.

I realize that this article is about as inadequate to exhaust a topic as sensitive as this one, as taking a basket to the stream can be, and so I invite your contributions. I’d love to hear from you.

Nke nwere isi, enweghi okpu; nke nwere okpu, enweghi isi.  An Igbo proverb which means: The one who has a head, has no cap, and the one who has a cap, has no head. –  Author: probably one of my ancestors. 😉 

Sincerely, Chibugo.

Another man’s meat

You probably don’t know it, but you have something someone else desires terribly.

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A gap in the teeth is an abnormality, a defect. So is a dimple. A genetic defect caused by shortened facial muscle, that one. But this is all anatomical balderdash. Tell this to the women in Aba who go to carvers to chisel out a gap in their teeth at a very high risk, or the girls who attempt surgery to create dimples on their cheeks. The long and short of it is that people look for ways to achieve said defects as an item of beauty. The beholder calls the shots after all.

A mole on the face or body is a defect. I have two on my neck, and that one above my lip. Spent hours in my childhood trying to remove it, till I saw a very beautiful woman put the exact same dot above her lip with black liner ; the final touch in her makeup. It didn’t look so much like a defect after that.

A fart is a fart is a fart.

Kembu, my sister, had an operation and was not allowed to eat any solid food till she was able to fart. For three days she was on intravenous fluid nutrition. How long can you stay away from eating actual food? On the third day, mother came into her hospital room and met her smiling, all 32 of her teeth almost walking around the room on their own. “Mummy, I farted!”, came the announcement, in the same tone of voice you’d announce, “Dad, I got into Harvard on a full scholarship!”

What is a fart again?

Oh, it’s that thing we all do but never want to admit we do. Biology says a healthy human makes about 4 to 14 successful attempts daily. Too smelly and “messy”(pun intended) to be spoken about. But somebody prayed to be able to do it.

7:45pm. She’s on Cele overhead bridge, stuck in traffic. Amid the sound of horns and drivers cursing at each other and hawkers calling out their wares, she takes off her stilettos and puts on her handy flip flops, alights from the bus and walks the rest of the distance, passing the cause of the traffic and crossing the road to take a tricycle to her final destination. A pair of eyes follows her every move hungrily from behind her tinted window, air conditioned luxury car. If one could just park on the bridge and return later to pick up her car…. She sighs and blares her horn even louder.

Life is a well spiced pot of ironical jollof, the party type.

Sincerely, Chibugo.

What’s the best toasting punchline you’ve ever heard(or used)?

If you’ve heard Simi’s “Jamb Question” song, then you probably understand what I mean. This is the one thing that i don’t envy guys for, the fact that you have to think of something ingenuous to catch a lady’s attention. It reminds me of a sales class I once took, where we were made to try out different “elevator speeches” which had to get the attention of the prospect in about 30 seconds. People got really creative! But theory is always easier than practical, especially if you have the tendency to be tongue tied when on the spot!

So the other day when I heard Simi’s song again, the idea for this post popped into my head. What’s the best “toasting” punchline you’ve ever heard? I compiled a few I had experienced personally, so, awon boys, identify your category. I’m not looking for trouble, just being my usual cheeky self. The punchlines themselves aren’t weird per se, just laughable. To me anyway. Here goes….

  1. I’ve been watching you for some time now. I like everything about you, the way you walk, talk, your smile, your charisma, in fact, you actually seem too good to be true. Will you be the mother of my kids? Me: smilingly basking in the euphoria of being called “too good to be true”, till he gets to the “mother of my kids” part.sad scared eyes new girl surprisedNibo?! Oga how far na? I never even gree for girlfriend, we don enter labour room already! Chai! 😒 
  2. What’s your name? Okay where are you from? Really? So is your dad a titled chief?  What does he do for a living? Are you Catholic? Whats your genotype? And how old are you? Me:sunglasses dwayne johnson side eye eyebrow raise the rockEgbon, ees not that serious. We just met two hours ago. Sheesh.
  3. Has anybody ever told you how beautiful you are? You’re, honestly the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. Me:reactions serious no way jaw drop are you serious(jaw drop) Oya, collect this award. It’s either you’ve been living under a rock all your life, or you’re definitely the biggest liar I’ve ever seen.
  4. Do you believe in love at first sight? Me:nerd tumblr dan(in full geek mode)Weeeeeeeeeell, but then, a very high percentage of people are either long or short sighted, so…..(I didn’t really say this oh)
  5. Immediately I set my eyes on you, my heart told me,”This is your wife”. Me:reactions flirting flirt eyebrows smirkReally.  Tell me more. I didn’t know hearts could talk.
  6. You look familiar. Do you attend Watchman Church at Oshodi? Me:              eye roll krysten ritter eyeroll kill me bitch pleaseReally? With this full face of makeup I’ve got on? Jeez man! You can do better than that na! Hian!
  7. There is absolutely no reason why a beautiful damsel like you should be walking under this hot sun. Care for a ride? Me:rihanna eye roll fourfivesecondsThat’s sweet. Thank you, but I’m right in front of my gate.
  8. Do you have a sister called Harmony? You don’t? But your name is Sylvia right? No? So what’s your name? Me:obama nod nodding not badWell played! Sharp guy!

Please oh my people, I’m not trying to slight anyone, this is just for us to share a few laughs. You have to love our boys for trying hard. I mean, think… What if you were in their shoes?  Chai. The great thing is, many successful relationships have emerged from these seeming “jamb questions”, so don’t be so critical abeg.

And erm, these replies, most of them were given in my head. In real life, of course I’d just give a very proper, polite reply. 😄

Please brethren and sistren, don’t laugh alone, share with your friends! And please share your own stories in the comments section, whether you were the toaster or the toastee….😉

Kisses, hugs and hot puff puff,

Chibugo.