...and the animals roamed wild and free

| 17 August 2014
Apologies to followers of my blog for the slight off-topic nature of the previous post, but it was to show the level of hate that some humans can have towards others. An interesting observation was that no one came up to own up to the hateful comments, again wondering how it is so easy to be so horrible anonymously, and something that is common with online commentators. Also makes one wonder as to the mind of humans, but then again, I suppose if one does not have haters, then I'm not doing something right; and as one of my friend's said, "Welcome."

So indeed, I guess, it is a harsh awakening that the world is not kind, not nice, that we humans are so malicious and evil and abusive and beyond that, that we can dare utter such hideous, baseless statements about another person. Ah well, that is that about that.

There are other things in life of course, other happenings, one of which was my first ever safari trip. I have to say, I have been transfixed by the awesomeness of nature, of creation, how we are all so different and yet so similar, for example, the birthing process of mammals, and also just how nature is such a complex, and organised system, with every part, yes every part of creation, even the rocks playing their part in balancing our delicate world.

And I am privileged. Privileged to visit the animals, privileged to be able to listen to them and observe them as they go about their daily activities. 

Amazed at the creativity in nature, its complexity, and its simplicity…and its music.

And just like that, so much beauty in the world displaces so much negativity. All is well with the world.
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Dear hater

| 4 August 2014
Whoever you are, It is really unfair for you to go about talking to me this way. You know my identity, I don't know yours. Don't you think it is much better for us to actually talk, rather than posting anonymous comments regularly on my page.

Oh by the way, I review all my comments before publishing them, so naturally, I won't publish anything that appears to be spam-like, and not related to the point of the blog post.

So if you are serious, and brave enough, how about you send me a message as opposed to hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, leaving hateful bland comments. It really is cowardly and not in very good taste.

I am sure you will read this, seeing as you have commented on quite a few of my blog posts,  and if it was not for the negative and hateful nature of the comments, I would've thought I had a new follower. In any case, it shows you really do have a lot of time on your hands.

I have been ignoring your comments for the past month, but I thought I should give you this chance to release whatever tension you might have, whoever you are, let's do this like adults.

So here is an opportunity, send me a message, give me a call, tell me who you are and what your problem is. I think that sounds fair….doesn't it?
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Lolita. Hallam Foe. Nine Songs. Last Tango in Paris

| 30 July 2014
Okay, there seems to be a theme in some of the movies I watched recently - it wasn't deliberate and I am not sure it means anything, other than some sort of coincidence, although if you go on the premise that there are no coincidences, then perhaps it might have to do with some subconscious interest in human sexual relationships, I mean who isn't and also I guess the whole thing has always been part of human interest, well also animal interest, but animals cannot write, so we only have the examples of humans. One of the books I want to read is 'Sexual behaviour in the human female' - when I get the chance to - and to explore how it is different from the male, and whether or not it is possible to generalise such a topic, seeing as movies such as 'The Story of O' reveal that how people conceive of their sexuality, and how they express love, and all of those good things can be fundamentally different from 'the norm'.

Anyway I digress, I was a bit disappointed with Kubrick's version of Lolita, I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess it might also be due to the times it was being shown - 1962 and the world was not ready for any overt scenes…I think. But Hallam Foe, now that brings questions of oedipus and  obsession and hints on attractions to parents/parents attraction to children, which a google search explained to me,  exists. Now on google searches, most of what I search for is for scientific research purposes - I'm just putting it out there, so that whoever searches my search records knows. That is that.

Nine songs, was the story of a relationship in an atypical way, and again makes one question the role of sex in a relationship and the extent to which sexual relations can be a mirror of the stage of the relationship, the depth of the relationship, and the ending perhaps of the relationship.

Which brings me to the whole notion of the temporal nature of relationships. Can there be too much of a good thing? Can something good last forever? Is permanence an ideal expectation of a relationship? What goes on with that permanence? Compromises? etc…

And I guess for Last Tango in Paris, it showed how a man who tried to come up as insensitive and unemotional was able to only reveal his vulnerability sexually, and how those emotions became released gradually, after sex, as opposed to the other way round. Again, all very interesting and all very random which means there can be no typology of 'Human sexual behaviour' because these things are subjective and open to so many interpretations and affected by so many events and incidents and so on and so on and so on to infinity.


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Book link : http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/4871877043/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=6J0CCZCMIW7U&coliid=I1CUTS2IFEDC9D
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Plane Vibrations

| 12 July 2014
It had become a weekly habit, something I looked forward to, and something that was truly mine, not mine and anyone else’s but my one pleasure. Every week, I got to meet with him. Although the last meeting was a very difficult one, I hope I was not too rude or too forward, it has been three weeks now and I miss him dearly.

He is very difficult to describe, not difficult in the sense of his physical characteristics, that is easy – he was tall, dark, handsome. Cliché I know, but so true in this case. It was his blessing and his curse. Women wanted to be around him, they wanted to be with him. He never had to chase them, why, everyone liked something good, and in Nigeria where the ratio of women to men is so high, you can imagine that he had it very good.

But he chose me. Okay, let me make this clear. Ours was not a sexual relationship. Not at all. There was not even a hint of that, but the time we spent together, I felt he was truly mine, in the sense that I had a part of him that none of these women could have. They could never dream to have, and that is what made our weekly meetings so special.

I guess I should also describe some of his inner characteristics. Now this part is quite difficult, as I don’t think he liked to reveal his inner thoughts, inner mind. Or perhaps he had not fully come to discover who he was, I guess with the constant distractions of the female sex, that might have been difficult to get time to reflect on who he was and what he was about, and what he wanted to get out of life, and so, he coasted.

Or so I thought, but like I said, in the last nine years or so, I feel I have gotten much closer to him. Prior to that, I knew him, and I was close to him, but in a sort of distant way. Now, it really is just me and him, no interruptions, no distractions, my one weekly pleasure.

Okay, let me get into the format of our meetings, I don’t actually have to book an appointment with him, I just go, okay sometimes he’s not available as he’s busy or otherwise occupied, but that is okay, I can’t really schedule an appointment with him as he has no mobile phone or no email address, he is weird like that, so it has to be old-school style, I go when I want to see him, and when he is free, he sees me, and when he is not, I try to go back the next day, but we have to see, every week. Unfailingly. I start to miss him if I don’t. My week is incomplete without him.

Occasionally, he visits. I guess this means he misses me too. I always make time for him when he comes. Always. I love him too much.

But you might be wondering why he has not agreed to see me in the past three weeks. Well, let me tell you a bit about our meetings,  when I go to his place, I go straight upstairs, to his living room, or his bedroom. Sometimes he is lying down, you see, he had recently been very ill, and I thought I would lose him, I visited him every week, for a year, and he was just there, lying on the bed, very weak, very fragile, the tall, towering person was now purely horizontal, that was a harsh blow to deal with and made me question my own mortality, and the fragility of our existence. Those meetings were painful. Painful as I could hardly hear him but I knew he felt my presence, and I guess that must count for something.

Sometimes, he was sleeping, and I just looked on and cried, quietly, I did not want him to hear me cry, I had to be strong for the both of us.

But something changed in the last six months, he became stronger, he became fuelled, he started to walk again, slowly. Well, he had always walked slowly, he had a limp, ever since the car accident following his brother’s wedding – he was driving back home, the police stopped him and asked him to come out and open his boot, it was late, the roads were badly lit, another car racing down did not see him, and drove straight into him, causing his leg to be amputated.  The driver sped off, the police ran away, and there he was. Lying helplessly in the dark. I always wondered whether the driver that hit him had attended the same wedding,  but that is another story.

I started to enjoy our meetings when he became stronger, but then something else happened. He became busy, people who had not visited him when he was too weak were now paying homage, I guess it is the thing about the human condition, we don’t like to be associated with the weak but we like to be associated with the strong. Something about the survival gene perhaps. I don’t know. But he became busier, although I guess he also looked forward to our meetings, we would escape to the garden together. His garden. The garden he built, with his hands. He had a love for nature you see, and the garden was a sensual pleasure, different colours of different plants and shrubs and herbs, and trees, it pleasured all the senses: smell, eyes, and spirit. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we would see butterflies flying about, going about their daily business of pollination, unhindered, freedom. Free.

That is how we felt when we walked in the gardens. We did not talk much, we just seemed to enjoy one another’s company. I guess he felt free too, like the butterflies. I loved it. I had him to myself, all to myself, usually, until one of his many friends called to visit, and he had to see them. This was the thing, he was too polite to decline a visitor. Too polite. That was another blessing, and a curse.

All was going well in my wonderland, until last month. I really don’t know what happened. It was not planned. I had not planned it but it came out. I accused him of being a bad person. I accused him of using women and not taking a stronger hold of his life and what his life should be about. I accused him of favouritism, I accused him. I accused him. All I did was accuse him. The one man I have ever truly loved unconditionally, and I spent 4 hours. Yes 4 hours, accusing him.

He was patient. He provided me with answers, he apologised. But it was a little too late, the damage had been done, all the relationships he had broken over the years, being an inactive participant in his own life. Allowing life to just happen, not taking control. I guess the silence means he was uncomfortable with our conversation. Perhaps I stirred up too many memories in him, or perhaps he is reflecting on them.

 I don’t know. I have stopped visiting him, I hope he comes to visit again.

 My dreams are incomplete without him.



**Ghost Notes**
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The Land of the Scots

| 28 May 2014
Another new beginning. I am taking up a research fellowship at the University of Edinburgh Business School, to work on the Africapitalism project (http://www.africapitalisminstitute.org). The project is a research collaboration with eight other universities, and we are trying to understand the role of leaders in the sustainable business development of Africa.  It is an exciting role, as I am project managing the work and also conducting interviews, organising conferences, meeting people - my favourite things!

But. And this is a big but, I need to find accommodation first. Seeing as I have not looked for accommodation in a while, I have to tell you that it is an extremely stressful undertaking in Edinburgh. It is a seller's market (investment tip - buy a property, you will always have people wanting to rent it from you). Entirely a seller's market, and this means some of the property you are offered are in such a tired state, yet people seem willing and eager even, to move in, that they don't mind the state the property is in. I've seen some flats that right from the entrance to the building, I am wondering "Is this estate agent really serious? S/he expects me to live here?"

It is also competitive. I've offered above asking price for a flat, only to hear it has gone to someone else. So it is a seller's market, true and true. My morning routine after waking up consists of logging on to Gumtree either on my phone, iPad or laptop, whichever is closest, and the website has registered my search strings, that is how often I go on. Then I email agents, and throughout the day schedule viewings. Needless to say, I am completely fed up of it, but I have to continue as I need a place to call home. At the moment, I'm staying with a lovely Italian friend who has been a fabulous host. Then moving to this guesthouse - Cluaran (http://www.cluaran-house-edinburgh.co.uk). Noreen and Colin have been so helpful in trying to accommodate my requests and need for flexibility. 

And that brings me on to something else, the people in Edinburgh are friendly. Friendly. And it is such a beautiful city, almost like a big village in that it has everything, yet it is small enough to walk - so far, I've spent most of my time here walking, or on Andre's (my Italian friend) motorbike. At some point, I have to do a post on Andre. He is a unique human being. 

Back to Edinburgh's vibrancy, there are lovely shops and restaurants and wine bars etc. I am undecided as to which is my favourite area. They all have unique qualities. I thought I wanted to live in Stockbridge, but I feel it is a bit too busy for me. Then I looked at Marchmont which I feel is maybe too close to my workplace, and with a lot of families, so it does not have the vibrancy/young professional feel that Stockbridge has. Newtown is nice, but a bit too touristy, Holyrood is also nice although apart from Arthur's seat, not as green/leafy as I would like. Then there is Leith, The Shore which is an up and coming area with a lot of restaurants offering international cuisine, but it is a bit too 'new' for me, and I'm not a big fan of modern developments. So that leaves me with Morningside! Close enough to the university, green and leafy, close to Bruntsfield, close to the city, and also has a life of its own. Far removed enough from Meadows and Meadowbank and also means I can cycle to work!

I've got a flat viewing tomorrow. Quite excited and have a good feeling about it, let us hope it works out!


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The Researcher

| 14 March 2014
It started as a curious thought. 
Wondering, what made a person insane, at what point was a person declared to be mad? 
Was it a gradual descent or perhaps an ascent, like it is, when one gained weight, one day, you are slim, and it seems like the next, you are no longer able to zip up your jeans? 
I wondered if it was like that. 

The whole thing began when Father declared that his sister had gone mad and had to be sectioned and kept in an institution. I remember Aunty Bola, she had always been the eccentric aunty. Well, when I was young, I thought she was fun, she didn't treat us like all the other adults did. She always encouraged us to play and talk to her and ask her random questions. Yes, her answers to some of the questions were also different. I remember when I asked her what it was about bread that made us eat it every morning for breakfast, and she said that it had to do with the colonial masters and the food they made us used to, and she went on to talk about how her grandmother used to only eat vegetables and drink herbs, 'agbo', she had called it. And then she went on to an explanation on the benefits of agbo, why it was no longer commonly used, and proceeded to serve me slices of bread with egg and baked beans.

I was slightly confused. Ofcourse, but it was better to be given long-winded explanations than the usual "I don't know" "You ask too many questions" that my parents and other aunties had replied to, when I asked them questions.

Aunt Bola was so cool. But then, our visits to her house in Ikeja became rarer until we only went once a year at Christmas, daddy made us visit her on Boxing day, after we had celebrated the 'normal' Christmas with the rest of the family.

I only noticed that she was less bothered about things that had to do with tidiness. You know, she still ate well, but she didn't really clean her house. Not like mum always ensured that ours was spick and span, to be ready for daddy and any of his many friends who came to have a drink most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and Mondays.

But then one day, daddy said she was going to the United Kingdom, to be taken care of, and then not long after that, he said, she was to be sectioned and put in a home. I tried to ask questions as usual, but I didn't get any satisfactory answers.

I guess, you could say, that was the beginning of my curiousity into insanity. Or what humans term insanity. Isn't it funny that there are no insane cats, or dogs, or horses or cows or sheep. And they were only termed insane when they had diseases, but then aunty Bola didn't have a disease. So why was she mad? She wasn't foaming in her mouth or stomping her feet everywhere. She was just unconstrained by the environment. She didn't see the need to clean, didn't see the need to dress all the time, she was always hot, and she sometimes started to laugh by herself. The joke was in her head. Sometimes, she danced by herself, to music she alone could hear. I found it fascinating.

So when it was time to go to university, I wanted to study psychiatry. I thought it would be interesting to know more about the minds of people we termed to be insane.

Daddy didn't want me to study psychiatry. He always thought I should be an Engineer. Mum wanted me to be a Doctor, so I got mum on my side, by explaianing to her how I could upgrade to medicine, following my first degree in psychiatry. She seemed pleased with that explanation.

After my studies, I started to work in a research institute on mental health in Africa, wanting to find out more and to see how and why these people, especially in Nigeria were treated as substandard, simply because they didn't feel like combing their hair, they walked about naked, they were just free. Then I started to wonder if we were the restricted ones, with our boxes for houses, always locked in, as though in jail, boxes for cars, again with doors, locked in, boxes for offices, boxes for worship, boxes for everything. Yet the animals roamed wild and free in the jungle, they didn't have to move from box to box to box like humans, who are boxed everywhere, until we die and we are put in our final box.

I tried to have conversations along these lines with some of my friends, but the funny stares and the uncomfortable silences made me stop. Well, I didn't stop, it just became that I wasn't heard, I think. So I started to write furiously. All my thoughts, I wrote. I became the best researcher in the institute based on my productivity. My brain delighted in knowing more about this phenomenon. And then I started visiting aunty Bola in the institution. She was still alive and although she didn't fully recognise me, she always welcomed me, and in the beginning, I could just about string some meaning from the things she was saying. But after a few months, she started making perfect sense to me.

I guess she wasn't violent to me. She wasn't threatened by me, because I accepted her and always brought her fresh flowers. She really liked the flowers. Then one day, she sang. And it was beautiful, so I asked for her to have a radio with a cd player, and I bought her some cds. And she played them, but then she scratched the cds and broke the radio, because it was a box. She wanted to be free. No boxes. Just sound. 
From her inner being.

Then one day, I remember it clearly, only because I felt it so strongly, I started to dislike 'society', what with our rules, and rules and rules and more rules. I felt choked. And I wanted to dance in the rain, in the day time, on the streets, I wanted to speak, so I spoke to myself sometimes, and I still wrote furiously. And then gradually I felt less 'boxed in'. I felt free. I felt like I just wanted to see the world easily. But I didn't know how to communicate this clearly. So I started going for long walks, having conversations with strangers, sometimes with the trees, sometimes with myself.

Then after that, it became more and more normal to be less and less normal.

Until one day, while walking on the grounds of the institution, it occurred to me that these were my friends.  I had no other friends. No one else invited me to their soirees. No more invites to weddings, or picnics or to the parks.

And so, I walked in, and asked for a room with my family. 












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Etta

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Here we are in heaven
Our heaven

The people around us don't matter
Even we, do not matter
This is a higher calling
This inexplicable pull that somehow seems to draw us near
Even when we try to tear ourselves apart
How strong the magnet
Yet we are not opposites
Or are we?

We are in heaven
We are in love
The world does not matter
No one matters
Nothing anyone says matters
All that matters is that you love me and I love you

Can this love last throughout eternity?
Can our love constantly regenerate itself?
Will it morph into hate or even worse, indifference?
It will not. It must not.
You smile, the spell is cast.
We are in love.
Forever

In heaven
At last.
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Leadership Lessons from Barack Obama

| 20 February 2014
Lessons
“One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history,” he later told me. “You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable. But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant. I suspect that Ronald Reagan, if you’d asked him, would not have considered the earned-income-tax-credit provision in tax reform to be at the top of his list of accomplishments. On the other hand, what the E.I.T.C. has done, starting with him, being added to by Clinton, being used by me during the Recovery Act, has probably kept more people out of poverty than a whole lot of other government programs that are currently in place.”

Reflection:
“I have strengths and I have weaknesses, like every President, like every person,” Obama said. “I do think one of my strengths is temperament. I am comfortable with complexity, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin. And every morning and every night I’m taking measure of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me, understanding that there are going to be mistakes that I make and my team makes and that America makes; understanding that there are going to be limits to the good we can do and the bad that we can prevent, and that there’s going to be tragedy out there and, by occupying this office, I am part of that tragedy occasionally, but that if I am doing my very best and basing my decisions on the core values and ideals that I was brought up with and that I think are pretty consistent with those of most Americans, that at the end of the day things will be better rather than worse.”

Perspective
“I think we are born into this world and inherit all the grudges and rivalries and hatreds and sins of the past,” he said. “But we also inherit the beauty and the joy and goodness of our forebears. And we’re on this planet a pretty short time, so that we cannot remake the world entirely during this little stretch that we have.” The long view again. “But I think our decisions matter,” he went on. “And I think America was very lucky that Abraham Lincoln was President when he was President. If he hadn’t been, the course of history would be very different. But I also think that, despite being the greatest President, in my mind, in our history, it took another hundred and fifty years before African-Americans had anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality. I think that doesn’t diminish Lincoln’s achievements, but it acknowledges that at the end of the day we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.”


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excerpts from 
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/01/27/140127fa_fact_remnick?currentPage=all
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How can I be there for others?

| 15 February 2014
Today marks the third anniversary of the day that changed my life. Yes, really.

And everyday, while I am reminded of my limitations, I am also reminded of my abilities, and for these I remain truly thankful.

I am also thankful for the limitations, as they helped to make me realise I'm human, and also brought me closer to understanding the unique human body, and the mystery that is life and the experience made me learn how difficult it must be for people to be there for those who are sick or ill or sad.

Now, I remember that even my little cousins who I used to play with, were terrified of me, seeing me in such unfamiliar surroundings and conditions. And I know that many people cared but couldn't show it, through shock, fear, and just not knowing the appropriate thing to say or do.

I learnt the importance of compassion. I learnt that life really is transient. Health is GOLD and the attitude of those around us can be a healing balm. I learnt, from the people around me, that sometimes, all you need is to just be there. And I also learnt the importance of not shying away from asking 
'how are you?' 

And even if the answer is 'I'm fine', know that of course they are not, but they are hoping you can ask more questions, and also perhaps, hoping you continue to think of them, and send happy thoughts, praying that they will be fine. 

So I guess trying to be normal WITHOUT ignoring the issue - be it illness, death - helps. Ignoring the issue and trying to be a clown is  like trying to ignore the presence of a huge multi-coloured elephant in the room - hard and a bit silly. So accept the issue, deal with it and be there, if you can.

If you can't be there, then you can send texts, encouraging ones, emails, flowers, or even movies and links to random and interesting sites, to help with the boredom.

And all in all, always know, there is a time for everything, a time to be sad, a time to be happy, time to dance, time to mourn, and in all these moments, the people around us are immensely important. They help us to grow.

And that is the key, life is a continuous growth process, and we must embrace this. 
And in all things, we continue to thank God for all.
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TranceDance

| 13 February 2014
The music came on, she took to the dance floor and as each song was played,and she stripped herself one by one, one stanza after the other, of the labels "mother", "lawyer", "wife", "employer, "friend", "daughter", until she simply was Olufemi. By then, the music had ended. And it was time to go and join her family at the table. Yet she was glad, for the fifteen minutes of escapism she had enjoyed. She was thankful. It was the little things that made the most difference.
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On Empathy

| 29 January 2014
I’ve always valued a woman’s ability to empathize with others- from the people she knows, mankind in general, to all living beings in general. The wider this sphere expands, the more empathy she has, and I don’t mean “empathy” is some kind of hypocritical liberal hippie dippy way. I mean she’s genuinely able to feel how others feel and give sympathy and support when she can.
I personally value this quality more than anything else and consider it a key determinant whether someone is relationship material or not.
In a way, empathy is the other side of the same coin as seeing one’s own flaws and dealing with them well. Women who empathize are perceptive and easy to connect with. The prerequisite for these attributes is that they’re in touch and honest with their own emotions. Empathy for others also take a lot of compassion. I believe a person would not be able to give compassion unless she is capable of self-compassion. Someone who is in touch with her emotions and can be compassionate to herself is someone who can see her own flaws and deal with them well.
The opposite of empathy is solipsism. A solipsist generally exhibit narcissism, sense of entitlement, and isolation. They have a way of rationalizing away guilt, and use other people as a means to an end. Needless to say, solipsist women should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately they are quite easy to find everywhere. Empathy is a rare quality.
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I read Charles' comment on http://markmanson.net/one-trait and I agree with it. The ability to see things from another's perspective is very important.

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Water Baby

| 7 January 2014
Anita walked slowly back home from the train station. It had been a very long and hard Tuesday. 
"Why was the Tuesday after Monday a working day?" She wondered.

Well, Monday, you had the entire weekend to prepare for Monday, and on Monday, you worked through the tasks that were left unfinished on Friday, this meant that Mondays were very productive, but  by the end of the day, after repeated exaggerations of how exciting and adventure-packed your weekend was to your clearly disinterested colleagues, one is left feeling rather drained, with a desperate need for another weekend to re-energise. Surely it would make more sense to have a rest-day after Monday, and then two days of consecutive work, followed by two days of rest, and then one final day of work/rest or an official work-from-home for all. That cannot be too difficult It appears that no sooner has Monday lunch-time ended, than is Tuesday upon us. 

This particular Tuesday was a unique one. No, it was not different in the sense that Anita still had to commute by overground train into London and then take the tube to her office at Embankment. You have to blame the exorbitant house prices in London for this. Anita, had rented a nice apartment in Battersea for eight years, but decided to get on the property ladder, as all her friends had done, and she was not one to feel out of place now. So she had bought a house.

"My property is my property, wherever it is located" Anita always thought proudly to herself.

No, it did not even have to do with the fact that she knew, as she shut her front door and stepped into the rain, falling softly, slowly but steadily and made her way, the twenty minutes walk down to the station, that she was not wearing the right outfit for  this rainy Tuesday.

It wasn't that. That could be remedied. She was now on first-name terms with her dry cleaner. He had taken to teaching her how to care for her garments by herself, to save some money. That was how often she went. But with a pressured job, who had time to read through the care labels? Really?

No, it wasn't the rain, it wasn't the outfit, it wasn't even the fact that it was Tuesday.

Even as she went about her work, attending all her scheduled meetings, she knew she was not fully present. Well, it would have been hard for anyone else to notice, she had been working at the firm for over a decade, she knew how these Tuesday catch-up meetings went. 

Clever idea, it was, to have the meetings on Tuesdays instead of Mondays as this way, staff had realised that the weekend was over, and come to grips with the demands of the week, at least then, the editor knew how productive her team would be, and could form a clearer picture of the deadlines that were most likely not be met.

No, it was not the meetings. The meetings went well. Although as she recounted how full and exciting her weekend was to a colleague she had not seen on Monday, she realised that she still had to have a few telephone meetings, they were to be interviews with members of the House of Lords. She anticipated that the conversations were going to be along the same lines as the usual verbose nature of her interviews with members of the peerage. And it was like that for the first interview with Lord Campbell, but she was pleasantly surprised as she was drawing her conclusions from a tough conversation with Lord Bakings-Hall on why fox-hunting was good for the community, when he commented that he had enjoyed this interview, even better than their first interview a couple of years ago, and how he had followed her work in the papers.  

That went well. By lunchtime however, there was a certain restlessness. Her vision was blurred. Her body was telling her that something was missing. No, it was not hunger. She had had a late breakfast, as per usual. No it most certainly was not hunger, she thought again to herself

So why was her stomach churning in and around itself? Why was it that as she looked through her glasses, all she saw were streams of water in front of her?

Why was it so hard to focus on her laptop screen, and why was a mirage of an oasis in the desert appearing constantly and slowing down her work? She had seen that mirage before, once when she was very ill, about seven years ago. She remembered it, but then she discounted the thought, it was just her body trying to control her.

She ploughed on. Anita, she is a tough one. 

And as she continued to work so hard, we looked at ourselves and wondered why humans were so stubborn and so reluctant to accept their true selves?

I spoke to the others, pleading with them to give her a few more hours, just until her day was over.

Why? They asked? Why must we always bend the rules? Why can't they obey the rules?

I reasoned that the time was not right. The time had not come. Not in Embankment. I begged and I pleaded. 

You see, I was the goddess Anita's mum begged for a child, thirty-six years ago. Anita was given, on the proviso that by the age of thirty-five, she would have a child and that child will be dedicated to us by the time she was thirty-five. But Anita's mum died a few years beforehand, and had failed to tell Anita this.

Well, she had hinted at it in her will, - I wish she had put it more bluntly, but I suppose she did not want to scare her child who had been brought up as a Christian. To go into this new realm would have been an uncomfortable conversation.

Anita thought the hint, written in the will was her mother's final plea to ensure her daughter was not a n older mother. And she thought, "no, I'm certainly not ready for a child. Who am I going to have the child with? Where does this fit into my plan? No. No child till 40." And that was the end of that. Anita, she is a tough one.

As Anita made her way home from work, the rain was falling harder. You see, the others were getting restless. They kept saying "We have waited for more than a year. This is not fair. We have to keep to our agreements. If not people will never honour our contracts, and they will come to disrespect us."

I could see their point of view. Yet, my heart was not ready. Not just yet. There was lightening, and thunderstorms, and it was so fierce that a fellow commuter commented to Anita on the train ride home "goodness, it's relentless isn't it? Lucky the trains are not yet cancelled", to which she merely nodded, and continued reading her copy of the evening's Standard.

And as she walked home, she did not mind the rain. She had never minded the rain. Although this Tuesday, she was looking forward to getting back to her abode, and having a glass of the Barolo her date last Friday had brought her, she planned to light some with candles and perhaps watch the latest episode of Community.

But as she opened her front door. She knew something was different. She felt lighter, and with a keen sense of realisation, she saw that the water from the streams that she had seen through her glasses at work appeared to now be  in her house. "What was all this about?" She wondered, now slightly frightened. Her feet appeared to be sinking and she was waist-deep in the water. And then she realised she couldn't feel her legs. And then she saw that her torso was dissolving also. Becoming one with the water. Slowly her life flashed before her. But before she had time to process it, she was gone. One with the water.

It would be said later in the news that House no 20, Raleigh Street in Guildford was the only flooded one from the rains, that day in April.

And me? I cried.
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London: April 2013

| 6 January 2014
April is always the month of growing, expectations of the new, as we say goodbye to the dark, winter months. This April, I would like to see The Winslow Boy by Terrence Rattigan. The late Rattigan was a reknowned dramatist and his plays come up time after time. I went to see Cause Célèbre sometime in 2011 and I liked the way he was able to dramatize social relationships. So because of that, Winslow Boy is in.




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http://bookings.oldvictheatre.com/single/psDetail.aspx?psn=15704
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Sailing Ships

| 4 January 2014
Experience after experience
We become hardened
Yet we do not protest
We become quite adept at biting our tongues
We keep quiet
"It is maturity" they tell us
As though it is the way nature intended for humans,
Lost in our unabashed greed, to excuse errant behaviour
And so, bit by bit,
Experience after experience,
We lose every bit of our humanity
Until undoubtedly very mature, and quite shrivelled
Weary and worn
We become microcosms of ourselves

And the cycle continues
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Flow

| 17 December 2013
We move around, in tandem
We humans seeking desperately for our almaz
Our utopia.
Not stopping to ask if it exists
It must, we tell ourselves.
We give ourselves that elixir that purports to heal us of any ailments
Whatever it is, will be cured
Wherever we want to, we can go
However we want to, we will be able to.
And so it is, we run and skip and jump and walk and crawl and cry on the treadmill of life
Never stopping, never pausing to ask
"Why this?"
"Is this all there is?"
"Is this the best way for me to live my life"

No, we don't do this
To do so would be too painful
And too costly we tell ourselves,
In man-hours not worked,
In risks that if taken might not yield rewards
Too painful in the number of coffees, dinners, lunches, travels
We can buy with our money
Who cares about happiness?
When you have a salary
Who cares about job fulfilment?
That is the worry for 1st-world people
Our parents did not have the luxury of job-fulfilment,
They worked at the jobs they had because they had to
So how dare we ask for job fulfilment and satisfaction?
We ingrates, we.

But then I ask,
Do we have to tread the same paths our parents tread?
Can we not think for ourselves?
Choose for ourselves?
Live for ourselves?
Can we not own our own ambitions and aspirations?
Can we not overcome our own fears?
Should we not?
Why should we always flow along the same river?
Why can't we break away and form our own streams
To water different lands?


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Warmth

| 10 December 2013
I have known her all my life
At some point, I thought she was my mother's sister
She was that young at heart, so approachable
She still is.

In her eyes, I see wisdom, passion, love, warmth
Her voice alone is enough to remove any chill I feel
In my spirit.

As I write this, tears are streaming down my face
Tears of love.
Yes, to her I can be completely vulnerable
With her, I can share my innermost fears
I can ask her any question
I cry, not because of regret, but because in her spirit
I continue to be reminded of the beauty in human nature
I pray that she has many more years on earth.

This woman,
To whom life initially dealt a harsh and painful blow
Has risen from the ashes
Greater than a phoenix
Higher than any clouds in the sky
She has transformed herself and has done so
Whilst loving the people around her.

Some were not happy with her success
But even them, she did not hate
She cannot hate.
It is not possible for her to do so
All she has, she has worked for
Her philosophy in life is love, warmth, and a simple life
A simple, well-ordered, practical, independent life.

She is a burden to no one
She is a blessing to all
She is generous
She is humble
She is giving
She is cheerful.

She is ALIVE.

She is of a curious mind
Her eyes sparkle with intelligence and love
Her hugs are the warmest ever and her voice
Oh her voice
I need only to think of speaking with her, to feel better
In my darkest moments, I yearn for her voice.

She is my mentor
My role model
My confidant
My calm in the storm
My voice of peace, of love, of warmth.

If I seek to be a warm person
It is only because I know how it feels to receive warmth
A person who wakes me up with a smile
With singing and dancing in her heart.

No, I have not met anyone else like her yet
If I do, I'll be sure to be best of friends
And if the heavens are kind enough to me
And allow me to meet such a person in the male version
Then you can be sure you will find me by his side.
Always.

My grandmother is indeed
my grand mother

I thank the heavens for blessing me with her
And I hope I have been a blessing to her.

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Accept me please….Leave me, I don't accept you

| 1 December 2013
I saw this quote recently and it really resonated with me. This whole thing of acceptance…. 

I have substituted men and women for people,...
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How far have you walked for people who’ve never held your feet in their laps?
How often have you bartered with bone, only to sell yourself short?
Why do you find the unavailable so alluring?
Where did it begin? 
What went wrong? and who made you feel so worthless?

If they wanted you, wouldn’t they have chosen you?
All this time, you were begging for love silently, thinking they couldn’t hear you, but they smelt it on you, 
You must have known that they could taste the desperate on your skin?
And what about the others that would do anything for you, 
Why did you make them love you until you could not stand it?
How are you both of these people, both flighty and needful?
Where did you learn this, to want what does not want you?
Where did you learn this, to leave those that want to stay?”

Warsan Shire




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I left my soul out

| 25 November 2013
I forgot
I left my soul outside
And my heart too with it

It wasn't a conscious decision.
More to do with being trusting.
Believing I lived in the friendly village of humanity.

Ah well, what happened was surprising, but when I think about it, not entirely unexpected.
Really.
One only has to leaf through the historical pages of fiction
to know that there is no friendly village of humanity
No utopia as such.
It cannot exist.

So, back to my heart and soul,
That foolishly were left out to dry.
Well, the rains came,
And the sun
And the winds
And the dust
And the heart tried to protect the soul

But then, the heart itself got burnt.
Sunburnt.
It had to develop a thick skin
And as each of the seasons came
The skin became thicker still

And now, it has become like rubber
Well maybe more like steel
Almost
But not quite

I must not let that happen
So I've brought my heart and soul indoors
They must be protected from the elements
They cannot be allowed to turn to steel
Because then, my heart, it would not be a heart anymore
My soul, it would not be a soul anymore
It won't be human anymore.

It would be steel.
And we can't have that.
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Teaching for change?

| 1 October 2013
Imagine for a moment that you are in a class, with about twenty to twenty-five other classmates, listening to a teacher. This teacher is middle-aged, but her entire disposition is one of a person who is young-at-heart. The subject matter is Economics, and even though to some people, it is not the most engaging of subjects, your teacher is able to bring the subject to life, invite everyone in class to give examples of how the basic economic principles apply in their lives. Even better, the teacher encourages her students to dream, to dream beyond what the four walls of their classroom permits them to. 

You look around class, and you see the paint peeling from the walls, you see desks that are not in very good condition. You look around and see students from different strata of society, those that belong to well-to-do families, and those whose families are barely able to make ends-meet. Perhaps, some of your classmates are the first children in their families to attend university. You look around, and see faces that are marked with something quite sad. Faces that are devoid of hope, faces that are coming to university because they have nowhere else to go, or they have been told that  their lives would never change without a university degree. Yet, they know that there are no jobs after university, but it is a case of 'attending, just in case there is a job and I would not want to be denied one, because I did not go to school', a state-of-mind not dissimilar to that of some proponents of religion, who believe in it, not because they want to, but as a case of double-negative being positive ' I don't want to not believe, in case it is all true'. How, you might ask, is this lack of faith but adherence to religion different from the agnostic who throws up his hands in the air and honestly says 'I just don't know', I don't know. 

So now, the task at hand is how the teacher is able to get her students to dream. Yes, I know teachers in Nigeria are not well-paid, yes I know, as some have told me, after I shared my ambition to lecture in some capacity in public Nigerian universities, that many people teach as a last resort, and to that end, how then can they be expected to be excited and passionate about their subjects?

Yet, I also know that it is unfair to be in such a position and fail to shape minds, to be in a position of responsibility, I mean, when I look back to how my lecturers influenced me, academically, but also psychologically and socially, I think of how different, and less-developed my life might have been. These people made my subjects alive, they allowed me to dream, and they allowed me to express myself. Now, if I can go to the class described in the first paragraph, and inject some colour into the lives of those students, surely, that is a reward in itself? 

Now imagine, if 10 of us did that, 20 of us, 50 of us, 100 of us....the ripple from our interactions having a multiplier effect, and changing the value-system in the Nigerian education. Imagine that, giving an entire generation the freedom to dream. The freedom to choose their own paths, the freedom to be confident in their interests and the freedom to learn the skills they want to learn. Now imagine how those students in turn can go out into the world and then become ambassadors of creative thinking, philosophical thinking, innovative ways to solve problems....just the thought of the possibilities is enough to make me think "Why on earth would I not want to teach for change?"

And you can do the same too. You can volunteer to take a class, a module, be a guest speaker, in any field in which you find yourself, you can impart some of that knowledge onto others in Nigeria, and teach....for change.
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ThisDay Article: Part 3: Nigeria's Road to Better Leadership

| 1 August 2013
This is the final part of the leadership write-up. 

The history of Nigeria is painted, in most parts by our political leadership. From the time of our independence, the history of Nigeria has usually been recounted according to its political experiences, with particular reference to the political leader at the time.  Political leadership is of course very important. For the simple reason that it has been covered exhaustively in my opinion, I would not dwell on it, except to mention that political leadership while being a key component in the growth of an economy should realize that it's main purpose is to serve the populace. To work with the sectors of the economy to formulate policies and strengthen institutional frameworks that will allow for growth to occur. Sustainable growth.

Political leadership should come from a position of "How can we best instrumentalise all the parameters of government to work effectively with different sectors of the economy?" It requires an attitude of humility, servitude and commitment to the general good of the population.

While political leadership is important, the concept of leadership extends very widely to include business leadership, spiritual leadership, social leadership, and familial leadership, to name a few parameters. Thus, it is key to understand its wide applicability when prescribing effective leadership as a key component in the pathway for sustainable development.

This is because a thriving Nigeria depends on effective leadership that is demonstrated in different situations, the chairman of the boardroom, the teacher in the classroom, the family, the community councilor, non-governmental organizations, the unions, the decision on health policies, town planning activities and the sports arena.

At the various junctures in our daily lives, we come across complexities and issues that require decisions to be made. The pastor deciding on how best to lead the congregation and choosing to exemplify this by humility, the Imam demonstrating the tenets that Islam is a faith of love and acceptance, the business director choosing to empower staff by training them and rewarding them appropriately, there are many examples of the need for leadership.

It is not possible to cover all the aspects and issues regarding leadership in one article alone. But if the principles mentioned above are followed, principles of viewing Nigeria as a nation with many inter-related complexities that need to be broken down and tackled with the right attitude, then in every situation, choosing to understand the inter-relationships (please note that these inter-relationships also include the “others” points of views), and the focus is to find sustainable resolution to the complexities, then we will be on the right path. This is because there will be a detailed thinking-through of issues before action. And then there will be action. Responsible action.

An essay on leadership will be incomplete without mention of followership. While the word "followership" has several negative connotations including one of ruler/servant relationship or even more drastic, a master/slave relationship, leadership and followership are not in fact a binary relationship, where leadership is distinct from followership. I reiterate, the 2 are not a dichotomy, where there is a distinct "leader" and distinct "follower", rather, one must view followership as important as leadership. Given that leadership is the ability to influence others, the ability for effective leadership to happen is the ability to influence others, meaning that the "others" must be able and willing to be influenced, or better put, must be in the position to be effectively influenced.
In this regard, we have leaders, and followers, working together as co-creators in growth: economic, political, social, spiritual or at the basic or, community.

Leadership is not an easy task. Rather it is a continuous process of decision making to tackle complexities, but also to think ahead, look into the future and prepare strategies to deal with any challenges that might occur in the future. It involves adapting, shaping and modifying. It is like a farmer who knows he must till the farm to yield a good harvest. Yet he also knows that after a few years, the ground must lie fallow to recover (adapting). While the ground is lying fallow, he prepares and plans for the course of planting that will take place after the fallow period is over, to ensure that the ground is used effectively and efficiently (modifying and shaping). Leadership learns from the past, is involved in the present and is prepared for the future.

I conclude by restating what I wrote in the beginning paragraphs to this piece. There is no problem with Nigeria. Nigeria is a complex country, and will continue to be so. However, these complexities are inter-related and can be broken down into simpler components. Once they are deconstructed into more manageable chunks, the issues can be tackled more effectively, and can be resolved concurrently, different parts being tackled by different teams.


The development process requires leadership. Leadership that thinks, and leadership that acts.

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This was printed in ThisDay Newspaper August 1, 2013
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