When I first heard of the word Schizophrenia I was in my 2nd year of undergraduate studies and the word was coming from my roommate who was a 3rd year undergraduate student in Psychology Department. It was one of those high sounding, complicated words that left you in awe at the sound of it and filled you with a sense of accomplishment after learning to pronounce it properly. “Schizophrenia” I’d whisper to myself once in a while, rolling the word around my tongue and grinning happily at my new found vocabulary. Months later, when I finally discovered the true meaning of the word, I cringed in fear. Schizophrenia was in reality a technical term used in the field of Psychology and Neuroscience to describe a type of a severe mental illness known generally as Psychosis. In essence it was a word used to describe a mad person.

What is Mental Illness

Mental illness is actually a broad term used to describe a large range of neuropsychological disorders ranging from mild to severe.  Different forms of mental illness can be grouped into broad categories according to their etiology and symptoms. Some of these broad categories include:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Mood Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Dementia

Among these broad categories are subsets of specific disorders under which an individual can be classified based on the kind of symptoms s/he exhibits and the duration of the symptom. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V i.e. DSM V is the current psychological tool/manual used to diagnose a particular kind of mental illness. It contains list of all categories of mental illness, their subsets, symptoms of each subset and duration of exhibition to enable a trained physician make a precise diagnoses of the mental illness condition in order to recommend appropriate levels of treatment.

What is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia – the high sounding name I earlier mentioned is a subcategory of the broad category Psychotic Disorder. It is a serious brain disorder characterized by a profound disruption in cognition and emotion, affecting the most fundamental human attributes such as language, thought, perception, affect and sense of self. Its array of symptoms includes:

  • Hallucinations i.e. Hearing internal voices or experiencing other sensations not connected to an obvious source
  • Delusions i.e. Assigning unusual meanings to normal events or holding fixed personal beliefs
  • Others include withdrawal, incoherent speech and impaired reasoning1

Visit Day

These symptoms can be scary to a normal individual such that one begins to imagine what it will be like to find oneself face to face with a schizophrenic patient. Hence, when it was announced last month in my MSc. class that a visit to a neuropsychiatric hospital will constitute part of the coursework for a course I was taking, I was filled with apprehension. The d-day came faster than I expected and before I knew it, we were at the hospital to meet with the patients.

A day of briefing, visits around the facility and in-depth lectures took care of the first day’s activities. The next day was dedicated to encounter with the patients where we were scheduled to carry out psychological assessment sessions as part of our practical. As we were led into the assessment room to meet with the patients, my heartbeat began racing faster and faster, my mouth turned dry, all my mental preparations fled me and I was almost visibly shaking with fear. It was only the memory of the 40 marks the practical session carried that kept me from fleeing the scene. This memory in mind, I braced myself for the ordeal and followed the supervisor into the room where I and my colleagues were each assigned chairs and tables to meet with the mentally ill clients.

Meeting Tara2

Among the clients ushered into the room was a pretty dark skinned lady of about 27 years or there about. Well attired in a loose flowing dress in traditional prints. She had her hair plaited back in corn rows and a little smile played around the corner of her lips. I, still in fright gazed on dazed as the supervisor assigned each client to an assessor. The pretty dark skinned lady however, did not wait to be assigned but walked up to my table smiling and introducing herself as Tara. The supervisor did not find anything wrong with the arrangement and left us together to begin.

I returned her smile – albeit shakily at first – introduced myself, shook her hand, motioned for her to have her sit and struck up a conversation with her in as light a manner as possible, such as I will speak with a “normal” lady friend. Her bright and friendly manner made talking with her so easy that before long, I soon forgot I was speaking with a mentally ill patient. At the end of a two hour, very enlightening and thought provoking session, I concluded the interview, accompanied her to her ward, thanked her for an enlightening and pleasant conversation and took my leave.

Returning to my notes afterwards to write up my report, I was struck by how quickly we had fallen into a pleasant animated conversation that I had momentarily forgotten I was speaking with mentally ill patient. Had our conversation been taken at face value, there seem to be absolutely nothing wrong with Tara as she was quick to remind me every once in a while during our conversation. But using the criteria of the DSM V to classify the information garnered from our two hour long conversation, Tara was suffering from a type of Schizophrenia called Paranoid Schizophrenia.

Her Symptoms

You see, Tara a 24 years old lady believed she was the daughter of a popular French Canadian Musician and that she Tara, was an American (This was her delusion which she strongly believed in and nobody could shake her from this belief). She also strongly believed she was kidnapped and brought to Nigeria by strange unknown beings. Only she and no one else could see or hear them and she was constantly reported to be having deep conversations with the beings to the bewilderment of everyone around her (Hallucinations). When I questioned her about this, she informed me that the beings were negotiating the terms of her death with her so that she will never see her Canadian pop star mother again. She told me all these in a clear, unwavering voice with the smile never leaving her face, adding that as she was a trained Lawyer – even if she never completed primary education – she was soon going to a court to sit as a judge and pass judgment on the beings in order to thwart their plans of killing her. She then implored me to prevail on the doctors to release her as she was not insane.


As I made my way home with the rest of my colleagues at the conclusion of the visit, I marveled at how one so mentally ill could also be so normal and so like us in some ways. I began to ponder how different their world seemed from ours but how normal it still was in a sad kind of way. Tara could smile and be happy like the rest of us. She ate her meals, did her laundry, interacted with fellow hospitalized colleagues and hospital staff and had her hopes and dreams also. She dreamed of getting married and having beautiful babies like she told me and could not wait for the day she would be released from that place. She informed me of how she loved to sing and dance and even sang a little of a  popular western pop song for me as I marveled at the sonorous quality of her voice. Any choir would love to have her on their team.

Life for Tara

The hospital environment was neat and so were the patients’ wards and rest rooms. They were all treated very well and the meal was nutritious and regular. However, Tara came from an indigent background as last of 7 children with aged retired parents. Even her siblings were either petty traders or mechanics and I wondered how they had managed to afford her hospital bills. I also pondered on her eventual discharge what life she would return to and if it wasn’t the social conditions she lived in that induced her condition of mental illness. All her life from early childhood, she has held many menial jobs such as house help, cleaner, laborer, factory worker etc and given her current level of education may not be able to find any better work if she eventually got better and was discharged.


The aftermath of my encounter with Tara got me thinking about what we as individuals, community and government could do to better the lot of people like Tara in order to give them a fighting chance in life. My visit to the neuropsychiatric hospital and eventual meeting with Tara helped change my perception about the mentally ill. I no longer viewed them in a negative light, because in a way, they are quite normal people like us with our same needs, joys and pains. They are not all dangerous as many of us perceive them to be. They need all the love and care they can get to enable them lead as normal as possible a life and to help them transition peacefully and successfully back into society on their eventually cure. In the midst of the “abnormal” I found normality, and I am very grateful for the opportunity of meeting Tara.


  2. Real names were not used to protect the identity of the patient

Gifted Hands

You can never imagine the power of a kind word. A single word of praise, encouragement or acclaim can have a remarkable effect on a person’s psyche. Ben Carson in the movie Gifted Hands was often ridiculed as the dullest student in class while growing up, but he finally rose to become what he eventually became because of his mother. She spent most of her time during his childhood encouraging him, praising his little efforts, acclaiming his minute successes, telling him that he could excel and that he was more than what his mates or teachers said he was. She believed in his hidden genius and always encouraged him to expend a little more effort, persevere a little longer. Gradually, heeding his mother’ words rather than those of his teachers and peers, he began to apply himself. Eventually, he rose to become one of the world most renowned cardiac-surgeon and the first ever to perform a successful cardiac-surgery.

Dr. Ben Carson always had his hands. However, had his mother done nothing to counter the effect of his teachers and peers negative attitudes and actions towards him, his gifted hands would never have materialised. He probably would not have gone to college and would have ended up like most of the black kids of his days; doing drugs and then transitioning to crime and prison. But with words of praise, encouragement and acclaim; making sure to provide the conducive environment and support for her children, she ensured that Ben remained in school. Ben on his own part, took up the challenge where his mother left off and finished what she started. With constant application, imagination and perseverance, the gift in his hands materialised and the rest is what we know today.

B. F. Skinner a renowned psychologist argued that behavior is acquired mostly by nurture and not nature. This simply means that the behaviors we exhibit are learned through conditioned response to specific training, environment stimulus and to the socialization process we are exposed to. This contradicts the belief that we are born with specific set of behaviors i.e. the premise of the nature theory. Going by Skinner’s theory, if behavior is acquired by nurture, then it can be safe to assume that negative attitudes, behavior and actions we exhibit have all been learned and as such can be unlearned. Likewise, better and more positive ones can be learned or acquired.

Everyone loves to be celebrated. No one likes to be tolerated or ignored. You will never know the truth of this saying until you find yourself in a situation where you are constantly being tolerated or worse still just ignored. Research has shown that individuals and groups thrive better in conditions where they are acknowledged and praised as it serves as a catalyst and inspires them to do more. This is not to say that we must constantly give false praise or acclaim when it is not necessary, but when we find ourselves in a situation where we instinctively react in the negative by constantly poking fun at people for our own amusement, it is best we check this negative attitude. Going by Dr. Carson’s antecedents, your negative attitude might just be causing the flower with another individual to wither away and perish. Unlearn this attitude today. It was learned. Learn a more positive one and give that individual a chance to grow and blossom.

That quiet girl in your classroom or the clumsy man in your office that is constantly at the receiving end of all unpleasant jokes and actions may not be all that quiet or clumsy in a different environment where he or she is celebrated and encouraged. If you are observant and honest enough, you will discover that they are often the doers, the ones who most often get things done in their quiet ways without so much of a fuse and that they get it done faster and more accurately than any of the others. The next time you set your eyes upon a quiet or shy or clumsy one and a quick, funny but derisive word comes to mind, pause, take a deep breath and either refrain from voicing it or say a kind word in its place. The instinct to ridicule is not in your genes i.e. you were not born with it but it is a negative behavior you picked up while growing up.

Everyone has his/her unique talents. Assertiveness may not be some people’s strong point but there is always something good and worth appreciating about every individual. Some may need more support and encouragement and a kind word now and then to help them manifest their hidden gifts. Some, those of tender-heart, given the abrasiveness of the characters around them, will withdraw into themselves, burying their gifts further within them for life. Others will simply remove themselves from the environment in which they are being suppressed and seek an environment where they will be celebrated.

Be it in school, in the home, the community, the office or wherever this happens, when you act in a way that restrains the talents or creativity or the abilities of people around, you inhibit them from expressing themselves fully. This is akin to using a bucket to cover a lighted candle. The flame will quench and in the long run, the abuser ends up the loser. On the other hand, it will benefit you more to help kindle the flames to ignite and glow, for then, not only will it light up the world around you, it will light you up too. Begin today to learn more positive attitudes and behaviors and help awaken the Gifted Hands in the world around you.

‘Foreign’ Call

Oh Foreign, my Foreign
You are my sovereign lord
For you hold sway over my heart
In a firm grip I cannot dislodge

The lords of your land have held me captive
Twice in a row, they have plucked my heart out
Amid cones of wintry beaten pines
And have placed it upon sea shores
For my first taste of bliss

How I have blossomed in their arms
How I have unfurled sepals that locked hidden petals
Permitting bees a taste of nectar within

Now I lie spent
Many bees lie drunk
I have been abandoned by the shores
As they depart with evening tide

Alas – they did but leave a cage ‘sans’ spirit
For as I lie spent on windy shores
I feel not the wind
See not receding line of departing ships
But a joyful spirit aboard your ship
Sailing with you to part no more.

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The Biggest Secrets of All Time

It is 1:37am in the morning and I cannot sleep
Because I have just being given the biggest secrets of all time
Revealed to me on a platter of Gold

I sat in my room in insomnia
I sat and listened, for want of better things to do
And then quite suddenly but quietly the night whispered to me
The Biggest Secrets of All time

‘It is finished
It is finished because it all finished before it started
And there is nothing
There never was anything in the first place
All is Nothing’

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Shadows dance no longer on the periphery of my vision

Sullied streets are now wiped clean

Footsteps old are footsteps gone

As the sounds of night life thins into a whisper

Till gone and I’m left alone

With memories, fading memories

And my heart is liberated to love again

There are men out there who will respond to your text messages. Men who will initiate conversations because they simply can’t wait to see what you’ll say next. There are men who will never be too busy or too preoccupied to wish you good morning, regardless if you’re a country or a block away. Men who remember to call when they say they will – because they want to – and those who surprise you with their curiosity about your sometimes monotonous days. There are men who aim to be the last person you talk to before you sleep and the first name you see on your screen when you rise. Men who show up on time – or even early – men who are genuinely excited to see you.

There are men who want to go on dates. Real dates. Men who want to take you out to their favorite…

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A Brighter Perspective

I heard this story when I was a child. Remembering it now, I thought to share it with you. It is a great story that inspired me to always look at the brighter side of life. It goes thus:

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.

Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure.

That night, when the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.
“Why are you crying?” the father asked.

“Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken,” answered the pessimist twin.

Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. “What are you so happy about?” he asked.

To which his optimist twin replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

The Trouble with Nigeria is . . .

The trouble with Nigeria is. . . The trouble with Nigeria is. . . The trouble with Nigeria is what???

For Heaven’s sake, there is no trouble with Nigeria!!! I am sick and tired of hearing people talk about the trouble with Nigeria. Some swear the trouble is with the leadership. Others blame it on the followers. In fact, Nigerians would blame it on any and everybody or thing who can take a blame.

When I say ‘they’, I mean you there reading this post, me who wrote it, and the great majority of you out there who will not even bother to read it even if you see it posted on my Facebook wall and on the wall of your home page for your perusal. You will just gloss over it with your mouse and move on to other more seemingly interesting gossip-like items to read.

Because you see, even if I believe there is no trouble with Nigeria, the fact that some percentage of Nigerians hold this same view is the greatest malady plaguing this country. Off course we are a greatly troubled growing and learning nation, however we should endeavor to pay more and more attention to the learning part of our growing experiences. We are so much in love with gist (small talks), gist and more gist that we forget the important things in life to pay attention to. You think I am telling lies? Let us just wait and see how many of you Nigerians who read this post will bother to comment on it and tell us how we can unearth this ‘elusive’ trouble with Nigeria and proffer ways to overcome it.

For in my point of view, there is no trouble with Nigeria. Any who insists there is, a thousand pox on you. Nigeria is just like an adventurous youth. And like every other adventurous youth, she must go through every likely experience to come out strong, mature and fit for adulthood. If in the cause of her cliff hanger-like youthful adventures, she breaks an arm or sprain a dozen knees, what can we say? Next time, she’ll know better and do better.

So everyone of you, stop the crazy shout about ‘the trouble with Nigeria, the trouble with Nigeria, the trouble with Nigeria’. Because I tell you, there is no trouble with Nigeria. She is but a growing child and in growing, she must make mistakes to learn. Period!!!

Acute Disenchantment

my bare palm are raised, upturned, yet I stare unto the heavens
My tongue is free, unencumbered, yet I cannot speak
For words have fled their abode in my heart
Just as love have fled its abode in his heart
I should speak, I should tell of the fear and the hurt in my heart
I should tell of this need for love and reassurance
Yet who would bother a woman in labor with tales of a burning house?
For such tales would be deemed ‘dis-comforting noises!’
Lord! How I’d loath to speak of such ‘dis-comforting noises!’
Yet my heart craves the return of warmth and kindness to his voice
But even if my tongue is free, unencumbered,
I still cannot speak of hurts and needs
For the fear of making ‘dis-comforting noises!’

A great post for everyone. Brought me a lot of relief and insight for better living.

Greatpoetrymhf's Weblog

No matter where I chance to roam

The place I heal the best is home….

Once while working in Fort McMurray at one of my fathers hotels…..I felt homesick.  An elder stopped by the lobby and asked me how I was doing.  I told him I wanted be at my own home but my family needed the help for the time being.   He smiled and said

You are always home

Where you walk is sacred ground.

This is your home….(pointing his whole body)….

He had my attention.

This is your roof

These are your windows…..

On and on throughout the whole body with the roof being the top of my head and the windows my eyes.

I never forgot that….until now.

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The ‘New Post’ tab is just not for me!

When incorporated the new post tab into its home page, I am sure many of its active blogging community lauded the idea. It afforded them a quick and easy way of getting ideas from brain to page in just a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse. Or maybe in more like a few thousand clicks. But the fact that it was a novel and welcome addition to the site cannot be disputed.

I for instance, formed part of the bandwagon that welcomed this new innovation. I viewed it as the prince charming sent to save my blog in distress. As the blogging adventure I embarked upon was beginning to have sore undertones. Now that adventure has been anything but smooth in the last one year since I embarked upon it. My progress since launching the blog has been as sporadic as the progress of my subscribers list.

Maybe I didn’t write enough to motivate readers to return to my blog regularly and then consider clicking the subscribe button. Maybe my write ups were not as witty and captivating as that of a blog with a subscriber’s count of over 5000. I just could not fathom it. All I knew was that the combination of too many blogging ideas, too busy schedule, poor coordination and a low subscribers count all contributed to my blaming my low posting count on the fact that there wasn’t a good enough tool to accommodate my frequent burst of blogging ideas.

So when introduced the New Post tab in the Home Page, I was really excited at the prospect of having a ready tool to accommodate these frequent burst of ideas . As the weeks after the introduction of this tab progressed, I became disturbed to realize that this welcome introduction was not turning out to mean an increase in my blog post and a subsequent increase in my subscribers count.

This was because, as the sorry case turned out to be, the frequency of my ideas could not be matched by an equally frequent conversion speed. Do you know how long it takes me to convert a single blogging idea into a published post? Between 2 to 14 days! It would start with my jotting down the first burst of idea in perhaps a paragraph or two. I’d let it fallow for a day and then go back to see if it was some thing worth developing. Decision made as the case may be, I’d either trash it or begin amassing more ideas to give it substance. This process could take between three days to a week given my mood or work/traffic schedule. Some posts even end its life span at this stage. I have over 50 of them in this category.

Writing completed, the next stage would be the editing for typographical, grammatical or punctuation errors. Followed by the final reading to decide if the piece was really worthy of my effort and deserving of posting. In this manner, about 14 days is consumed in just a single piece.

Now I realize that my initial excitement at the introduction of the ‘New Post’ tab was premature. It was conceived for bloggers whose idea to conversion speed was in the whereabouts of 10 to 30 minutes and not for the likes of my 14 days conversion speed. So yesterday I decided that the New Post tab was just not for me. I had better content myself with viewing it as an ornament on the home page. 😦

NB: However, I shocked myself when I wrote this piece using the “New Post” tab in just 37 minutes. Guess there’s still hope for me. 🙂

Just to prove that I can Still do a Story in Two Hours ;)

Source flickr.comIt had been over five years now since Temi first met Tochukwu ; and in those five years, never had she ever guessed that Tochukwu  harbored tender feelings towards her, until that faithful night, two months ago when he held her in his arms and whispered the words ‘I love you’.

Five (5) years was a long time to know someone and decide on ones feelings. However, Temi felt after the first two (2) year of knowing Tochukwu that she could fall in love with him, and she fought it.

Tochukwu was everything she had convinced herself she would not have in a man – he was Igbo (a majority tribe from the eastern part of Nigeria) and she was Yoruba (also a majority tribe but from the western part of same country). Now it was not as if there was bad blood between tribes in the country, it was just that people often favored relationships with tribesmen and women because of a feeling of being comfortable with the known and scared of unknowns. This was one of the major societal problems that the introduction of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme set out to remedy. The method of the scheme was to mandate graduates fresh form higher institutions to serve the country in any stipulated capacity and in any community through posting them to parts of the country different from their state of origin, education and abode. In this way they were made to visit, live and serve in a particular community for the mandatory period of one year, something majority of them would not have dared to attempt hitherto. It was during one of such postings that Temi met Tochukwu and they became fast friends.

Secondly, Tochukwu was not a TDH (Tall, Dark and Handsome) man that she had always hoped to fall in love with. True Tochukwu was not unpleasant looking, but he wasn’t drop dead handsome either. Although she had to admit that he had a pleasant way of looking at her out of the corner of his eyes, when he would smile and tease her about nothing in particular that lent a warm boyish charm to his looks. Also to give him credit for not being shoulder high taller than she was, he was at least a head high taller. But to Temi as at that time, any man who wasn’t six (6) feet tall was short and totally out of the question as a potential for her. Together with Tochukwu ’s complexion bordering on the fair side, he lost out completely in the race to becoming Temi’s ideal man. However, that did not disqualify him from chances of being a good friend. So they became friends and remained so as the years went by.

If they were just good friends, as Temi had for so long led herself into believing, why was it that of all the TDH’s she had known and dated, she was only comfortable sharing the innermost secrets of her hearts with Tochukwu? They could talk for hours on end on the phone, laughing at little jokes and gently teasing each other. They would share their days’ events and would be quick offer comforting words when one of them had an unpleasant day. And when for a period of about eight (8) months Temi was out of a job, Tochukwu proved to be a great source of comfort and encouragement to her.

Recently, Temi realized that she was no longer at ease with Tochukwu . She could not really explain why or how this came about. All she knew was that she was no longer as open towards Tochukwu as she used to be. She realized that there were little emerging secrets in her heart that she could no longer share with him. The thought of some of them would often drive her into fits of blushes to her utmost exasperation. What was this thing happening to her? And why was it happening to her she would ponder endlessly in frustration. What was actually happening was that these days she was often content to lie in bed and dream about what it would feel like to be in Tochukwu arms, feel his strong, muscled arms encircle her body and caress her, while his lips brushed gently against hers and hear him whisper sweet, tender words into her ears. Then she would blush at the vividness of her thoughts, bite her lips hard and get angry at herself for ever imagining such things. Tochukwu wasn’t her type remember? She would reiterate in a hopeless bid to take her mind off him. But it didn’t work.

Thus as the days went by, the frustrations of her little kept secrets would drive her into madness, making her pick small, irrelevant quarrels with him. Tochukwu perplexed, would wonder at her sudden change of attitude but would rather let sleeping dogs lie than quarrel with her. His gentle nature would never permit him to react in anger towards her and this attitude endeared him to her heart more than ever. Sometimes in the depths of her unhappiness, she would wonder if ever Tochukwu felt anything for her. She would probe deeply and deeper into her heart, go over numerous conversations they had had, re-scrutinize every glance, searching for hidden meanings, alas, she found none. In despair she would give up; tears milling in her eyes that what she felt was one sided. Tochukwu was just being his normal, gentle and teasing self, and try as much as she did; she could not reconstruct tender, romantic affection from his actions.

With heavy heart, and secrets kept unshared, their friendship progressed, until that faithful magical night when circumstances caused them to be thrown together, and for the first time ever, Tochukwu had gathered her up in his strong arms, held her close to his heart, brushed his lips gently over hers and whispered three (3) soft words ‘I love you’. Unlike all the other times when she had heard those three (3) same set of words, this time, Temi did not have to think twice before she voiced her response. Coming from the depths of her heart, her head nestled in the curve of his chest, she joyfully whispered back, ‘I love you too’.

All that had happened two months ago. Today looking back, she wondered if that magical night had ever occurred. Her heart screamed to her that it had; maybe because it wanted to believe in what was. However, reality denied its very existence. Tochukwu was his usual gentle, teasing self. They would still call each other and talk at lengths about nothing in particular, but the magic of that night was lost forever. Or was it? Temi, having heard those words once was not ready to lose them again. Why was Tochukwu behaving as if nothing had happened that night? Did he really feel anything for her? Was it the magic and intimacy of the moment that had provoked the words from him? Only time would tell. However, knowing Tochukwu , ‘time’ could span a thousand years. Was she ready to wait that long before she heard another tender, loving word from him? The constraints of her upbringing and culture forbade her from taking the initiative in matters of the hearts involving the male folks. What then could she do?

In Bleak Times

In bleak times such as this
I cannot say my name
I do not know my God
I cannot call your name
For the distance that separates us
Is far deeper than a sea of waters
And than the depths of your loving gaze

In bleak times such as this?
Why did you have to go?
Why did you touch my heart – lift it
Only to forget it as you packed your case?

The nights are colder now in your absence
My niece affirms they had always been
But I never did notice them
Lying in the warmth of your arms

Now in bleak times such as this
When the sight of faces reeks murderous deception
And the manipulations of jealous minds tear down destiny
I have forgotten to say my name
To call my God
Forgotten all . . .
But the memory of you

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Half Formed Lives

What’s with the question of mortality that puts a price on the living?

What’s with the talk of tomorrow when I can barely see the now?

The much priced eternity is only a concept for fools

Who have lost the taste of the present ‘joie de vivre’

For without this taste

This feeling

This longing

This intense yearning and giving

Eternity is not formed!

Like a seed craving germination without the soil  . . .

Eternity from the future will remain unformed

Until we have mated the now

Thus planting the seed we shall name – ‘Tomorrow’


Of Stings and Honey. . .

Even when veterans still cringe at the war call
How stupid of you to think you could fare better?
When you know the taste, when you even anticipate it
It doesn’t for one second takes the sting off it
Yet the price of a sting would not have in a thousand years
Kept you away from tasting honey
And given another opportunity– am sure you’ll taste the taste again
For what is life without life?
Those little chanced meeting that brings meaning to existence

The magical moment of a gaze
Of when two sights lock in recognition
When time freezes and creation is renewed
Now the heart sighs from the memory of stings
However, purer, gentler memories will soon
Sooth sighing hearts to sweet slumber

For A Slice of Happiness

What would you do for a slice of happiness?
If you had it thrust before you
How far would you run?
How high would you jump?

What would you do for a slice of happiness?
If that happiness meant another’s despair

Blue eyed nobility are often bearers of Greek gifts
And the gentlest of kisses heralds love’s purest gift
But what would you do for a slice of happiness?
If you had it thrust before you
How far would you run?
How much would you risk?
If your sheer hope of happiness – equals another despair?

The future is here now
In the life we live and the actions we daily take
If it feels right, why can’t it be right?
Why must one shiver in fear over stolen kisses?
Why must one steal kisses?
But what isn’t mine isn’t!
Because freely given or not – the cub is the lion’s

So then, what would you do for a slice of happiness?
If you had it thrust before you
As the future slips away – undecided
And a chance for happiness – is perhaps never realized

And I hated my Father? (1)

Recently, I sat recalling some of the events of my adolescent and teenage years, when it occurred to me that little had changed since those times and the present. By little had changed, I meant that my father still remained as ‘over’ security conscious as he was in those days and I used to be highly irritated by this attitude. I am not anymore.
His ‘over’ security consciousness was the bane of my existence then. My father would never be content to see an object slightly out of place without wanting to know how it came to be there. A forgotten to be locked door at night would result in waking up all of us to be questioned and if the culprit could not be ascertained in time, then a round of flogging would follow. Other incidences like windows left slightly more ajar than usual, unfamiliar/suspicious noises or sounds, smells, faces, unfamiliar/suspicious or displaced toys or objects etc would also attract his scrutiny to my utmost exasperation.
Life in the northern part of Nigeria in those days was not as dangerous and full of strife and fear as it is now – or so I innocently thought. The only major near dangerous situations I experiences as a child living in Sokoto state was of the family being robbed while we slept on the first day of our arrival in the state and subsequent other petty theft like the Zulu’s (a dog-eating tribe) occasionally robbing us of one or two of our dogs for their nutrition.
However, I still saw nothing in these little incidences to warrant my dad’s over security conscious actions such that one night, in reaction to one of the countless waking ups to question about who left a particular door open or who heard a particular noise during the night, I cried out in anger to my mother: ‘but who/what is he always searching for that he was yet to find all these years? Why must he live in constant fear of the unknown and subsequently infect us with this feeling of insecurity? Why is he always suspecting every strange or unusual person or thing? And what exactly is he expecting to find or happen? Who is this enemy he is constantly looking for?’
My mother, bewildered by her child’s outburst, was in an uncomfortable position. She had long come to trust my father’s strange habits and intuition and so saw nothing wrong in his actions, or maybe perhaps just the waking up of children in the middle of the night part. Being that my father had no discovery to tell for all his ever vigilant actions, she was at her wits end to explain to a child the need for this behavior; thus all she could say that night was: ‘respect your father and obey, child. Soon you will understand the reason for his actions’.
But the anger of a child recently and often disturbed from sweet slumber could not so easily be appeased with those few words; so I hated my father as a child. Little did I know that my parents were right i.e. my father who with his actions gradually instilled in us a sense of security awareness – now an invaluable tool in today’s society and my mother for her words of advice; if only I knew then how soon they would come to pass. . .

Fix My PC

I sat and watched in exasperation as he fumbled and toyed with my PC. He had loosened all the screws was methodically pulling the PC apart. First, the keypads, then the screen, the battery, the bottom covering, the hard drive, the memory, and even the CD ROM until the whole thing was just a jumble of disassembled parts.

And I watched it all in helplessness. There was absolutely nothing I could do. I who prided my self with knowledge on the workings of the computer. But the humbling fact was that what ailed my PC this time was beyond my comprehension. All I could do was watch in helplessly as they tore one of my most treasured possessions apart in a bid to get it back into working order.

At the height of my helplessness, I remembered in heightened frustration the harbinger of this misfortune. A power surge in the midst of a torrential rainfall had killed my laptop screen and fried the motherboard. How did this happen to me? Why even me in the first place? My tears flowed freely at the realization that there was no one to hold for the cost of the repair but myself. I mentally calculated the cost of a new screen, motherboard and the repair work and almost settled for abandoning the whole project.

But the truth was that I really had no choice but to carry on with the repairs as I could not afford the cost of a new laptop at this point in time. No matter how frustrating the repair work was, it was still cheaper than procuring a new laptop. Thus, I sat in that small, stuffy office in Otigba in mounting frustration as I watched them fumbling and toying with my PC, claiming an attempt at a diagnosis of its ailment.

From the look of things, I was going to be charged a lot for faults caused by a simple power surge and yet these so called PC professionals were yet to diagnose my system ailment? It was at times like this that I wished I had majored in Computer Science/ Engineering. How I detest the feeling of helpless in any situation or being at the mercy of anyone as I now was at the mercy of these PC technicians. I recalled a certain similar situation of helpless. This one concerning an ailment I contacted, where the doctors took a long time in diagnosing the ailment, while I writhed helplessly in pain at their mercy.

The Irony of this whole frustrating situation was that these particular technicians were known by the name ‘FIXMYPC’. So whenever I mounted the words ‘have you fixedmypc? How long does it take to fixmypc? Are you sure you can fixmypc? And so on, it fell on deaf ears as it was just as if I was merely calling their trade name and not referring to them. So I was totally ignored as they continued their poking and prodding on my system.

I have never felt so helpless in my whole life. My PC is one of my most favored companions. To even consider the thought of going home for one day without her was heart breaking. And to think that I had no back up for the data in her. My gosh! What have I gotten myself into? See what a stupid power surge has cost me? And what am I to do if these so called ‘FIXMYPC’ technician ended up failing to ‘FIXMYPC’?

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Dear Sir . .

Good Day Sir,

This is miss ………………. I was informed by …………….. (my ex-undergraduate classmate in University of …………….) that you could be of help to me in resolvig the issue I have with the department of ……………… in the University of ……………

I wrote the qualifying examination for the …………….. programme, but the results released last week indicated that I did not write the exams i.e. the My scipts could not be found.

I have attached the exam photo card here for your perusal.

I wil apperciate all efforts on my behalf to resolve this issue.

Sincerely yours


Northern Dawn

Dawn in the north simmers into the atmosphere like a maiden sweeps into her lover’s chamber

It is quiet, not silent and peace pervaded the solitude

The sounds of nocturnal creatures are just but dying out

And the brief period of solitude – the one which precedes the rise of habitation premeates the air

They rise with the sun, I rise with dawn

In their rising, they bring life to the world

But the time before this life, this period

This feeling before the rising sun and habitation – Is where I belong

The northern dawn shimmers in the atmosphere

I am left without

Filled with this silent but all consuming sound

Fresh air I can breathe – Unrestricted Contentment!

Before You Err

Before you’d err
Before you’d do the things that will fetch you a human garb
Before you’d act those actions that will unveil my hooded sights
I’ll take the first steps and break up with you.

This friendship wasn’t made for endurance
Nor were our kisses meant for routine
We were meant to behold eachother and behold a spectacle
A fresh exciting experience, that keeps the heart aflutter with each new gaze

Who told you I wanted to call you ‘Daddy’, or wished myself the term ‘Mummy’?
Do you think footsteps on the sands of time always head the same direction?
Is it until you see the path in which some seperates
Before you’d realize the truth about posterity?

So before you err, before you turn human before my very eyes
Before I behold monsters where angels once sat
Before the magic of us fades into the unkind realities of tomorrow
I’d first cheat fate by breaking up with you.


Alas! Did I but delude myself?

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Your Heart Must Lie Still-Asleep

How do you wipe this bitterness from your heart?
How do you root out this pain – So that you see it plainly for what it is ?
And know there is no gain whatsoever in keeping the pain?

What has life taught you?
Save that it harbors naught but blessings and lessons?
Yet you swear your heart be full of pain
How can this be so?

Have you forgotten that lovely sonorous sounds of the birds?
By your window chirping all mornings for your listening pleasure?
Are you unaware that the music of a babe’s laughter far eclipses its cries?
Haven’t your heart trilled at the heat of the sun’s rays after months of fierce winter?
Or listened to the flowing river and heard naught but symphonies?
Have the sunset ever held anything but beauty for you?

Yet you swear still to hold naught but sorrows in your heart?
This cannot be true!
I would not believe it!
Or perhaps your heart cannot have been awake
Perhaps it crouches still, encaged by its ribs
Too scared to venture forth
To behold the beauties of our world

Are You Normal?

Just because you eat, drink, breathe and sleep does not mean you are a normal person. Many people take it for granted that people around them are normal people. Except for the ones in psychiatric homes or the obvious once we see acting out their abnormalities on the streets, we conclude that every other person is normal. But I tell you that this is far from the truth.

In-fact, just take another careful look around you and realize the shocking truth that you live in a world of abnormality. How? I’d give you a few instances to start you thinking.

1)      Some people, without any conscious will of theirs, were born with dada hair (or what is now popularly called dread locks). Mad people on the streets, with no means to care for themselves and without thought to personal hygiene have as a result developed dada hair. Now you tell me that a normal thinking person will wake up one morning, short of hair styles to make out of thousands of beautiful ones, will decide to settle for making the dreadful ‘dada’ hair? Please show me the normality here!

2)      Have you ever seen a lunatic dance before? Compare it with a modern day Nigeria dance style popularly called ‘alanta’ and tell me who is really the sane one amongst the two dancing parties.

Are you getting the picture now? Are you beginning to see the thin line that exists between the everyday normal people you know and the supposedly mad ones? Do you still think you and they (the supposedly normal ones) are normal?

To throw more light on this thought provoking topic, let us examine some dictionary meanings of the word normal to see if it can lead us to a better understanding of what an ideal normal behavior is or is not.

Wikipedia gives us this definition of the word ‘normal behavior’. It says ‘In behavior, normal refers to a lack of significant deviation from the average. The phrase “not normal” is often applied in a negative sense (asserting that someone or some situation is improper, sick, etc.) Abnormality varies greatly in how pleasant or unpleasant a thing/experience is for other people’.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines normal as ‘conforming to a standard. Another possible definition is that “a normal” is someone who conform to the predominant behavior in a society’.

The French sociologist Smile Durham indicated in his Rules of the Sociological Method that ‘the most common behavior in a society is considered normal. People who do not go along are violating social norms and will invite a sanction, which may be positive or negative, from others in the society’.

Let us take these definitions piece meal and see exactly how normal is the so called normal behavior.

Wikipedia claims that a lack of significant deviation from the average is enough criteria to classify a person as normal. But the question to ask oneself here is what an ‘average behavior’ is?Taking our nation Nigeria into cognizance, examples of the average behavior includes:

  • People eating in vehicles and throwing food wrappers out the window and onto the streets
  • Motorist screaming profanity at each other when caught in a traffic jam which they caused with their selfish driving attitudes
  • School children cheating audaciously in examinations without any iota of shame or remorse
  • Government officials/civil servants misusing public property and looting public funds shamelessly

The list abounds I tell you, this is just but a tip of the average behavior in today’s Nigeria and I dare anyone to contest this fact as untrue.

So going by Wikipedia’s definition of normal behavior, do we say that because there isn’t so much difference between your behavior and that of the average Nigerian, that you are normal? Hmm, I guess not.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that ‘a normal’ is someone who ‘conforms’ to the predominant societal behavior. It is without doubt that the above listed are Nigeria’s predominant societal behavior. So does conforming to these societal maladies make you a ‘normal’ person? Hmm! I can see some of you are beginning to question your normality.

Our final definition is that of Smile Durham’s in his Rules of the Sociological Method that says ‘the most common behavior in a society is considered normal. Thus people who do not go along are violating social norms and will invite a sanction, which may be positive or negative, from others in the society’.

This last definition of a normal behavior speaks for itself. From the forgoing, we can now begin to draw a distinction between two types of behaviors in a society; one is ‘a disciplined, moralistic behavior’ and the other is ‘a normal behavior’. There exists a relationship between these two kinds of societal behaviors in the sense that a disciplined, moralistic behavior can be the normal societal behavior or the undisciplined, amoral one can also be the normal societal behavior.

Thus, the criteria for determining normal behavior is dependent on what a particular society accepts as a normal behavior and not on issues of whether the behavior is beneficial or detrimental to that society.

A look at the definition of the word ‘abnormal’ from Microsoft Encarta Dictionary 2009 says that an ‘abnormal’ is something ‘unusual or unexpected, especially in a way that causes alarm or anxiety’. A web definition sees abnormal behavior as a ‘deviation from statistical and societal norms’.

Being ‘unusual or unexpected’ or ‘deviating from statistical and societal norms’ i.e. being abnormal is usually seen in a negative light. But what exactly does this mean in the Nigerian context? Have you ever being termed ‘unusual’ or ‘strange’or looked at in a funny way for doing the following things:

  • Eating in a public vehicle and carefully packing the wrappers back into your hand bag to be disposed off at the nearest drop off waist bin.
  • Buying gas (fuel) at a gas (fuel) station and politely demanding your change.
  • Politely advising your next door neighbor to go book an event hall for any subsequent social engagement as the noise generated from the present one is seriously disturbing your peace and that of the neighborhood
  • Refusing to compromise when holding public positions
  • Refusing to answer the call of ‘siiiiiii’ in an examination hall e.t.c

If you have being thought ‘unusual’ or ‘strange’ for doing the above listed among others then consider yourself an ‘abnormal’ in the Nigerian society. But be rest assured that being an abnormal in Nigeria’s society of today does not make your behavior undesirable.

Inasmuch as the predominant societal behavior is taken to be the normal one and any significant deviation from this predominant behavior is considered abnormal, we must understand that there exists a wide chasm between what is a discipline, moral behavior and a societal normal behavior. The two might at some point be fused into one and the same thing or the chasm might even widen more and more.

However, the fact remains that disciplined, moral behavior will always remain the desirable one in any progressive looking society and any society that succumb to indiscipline and amorality is definitely headed for its end. Thus the mere fact that your behavior is considered normal in your society does not make you a ‘normal’ person in the larger world society. So look around you today and spot the difference, then ask yourself the big question again: Are You Normal? Or better still ‘wouldn’t you rather remain abnormal in your present society?

Have you asked yourself this question?

Great deeds do not often make great men and neither do great men often make great deeds. Often times the moment the deed is done we forget in the next minute, the act of its creation. Returning to our normal lives, we gradually loose that spark of greatness that the creation of the deed momentarily ignited in us.

But sometimes, amidst the upheavals and loves of mundane live, the routines that often lead to complacency in decadence, we catch a glimpse again of that fabulous moment, that particular moment when the great deed was created, when the realization was gained and the deed forged,  and then a sparkle is is returned to a mundane life.

It is at this moment that we realize that the totality of our life experiences, of our loves, hates, pains and gains, the sum total of it all, is lived only to furnish the tools for the making of great deeds. We realize also that the deed is in reality the culmination of our total existence and that the deed, without it, life is meaningless.

For me, it is at such moments, at moments when my actions have quantified into changing a life for the better or fashioning a smile where a frown was previously carved, it is at a such moment, that I know that my life will never remain the same again until I have duplicated, or better still birthed yet another great deed.

So then, until the next great deed, I live a dream whose reality will be the birthing of another life changing deed. Till then, life is life and and lived by the day, awaiting only the illumination of another such deed.

What great deed have you done today?

Ward 38

When I regained consciousness, I found myself lying in the middle of the road with a lot of passer-by (or more like spectators) gathered all around me. I wondered what was i doing there drawing such large crowd, when it dawned on me that I was the cause of a serious traffic jam that was building up around the t-junction of the roads in the middle of which I was lying sprawled.
The babble of the crowd finally penetrated my still muddled senses nudging me fully conscious. It was then that I felt a trickle that was gradually developing into a steady flow of warm liquid rushing down my face from my forehead. I stretched an arm to feel the warm liquid and it came away covered in blood. At that exact moment, panic set in bringing an end to the rush of adrenalin that has initially kept me immune to the pain that was now slowly spreading across my whole body. It seemed as if a valve of pain had just been unplugged somewhere and the whole painful emotion was suddenly flung upon me. My whole body ached at every angle most especially my forehead which was at that moment pounding ferociously with blood gushing out. I espied a glance downwards at my formerly neatly pressed gray suit and lilac camisole and took in the new sight of blood stained clothing. Every trace of adrenaline now lost, tears flowed freely down my cheeks in pain.
The babble of the gathered crowd gradually began to trickle into my senses and to make sense. Amid the babble, I began to discern a word here, a phrase there. There had been an accident. An okada (Nigerian pidgin for a motorcycle) accident and I was the sole casualty. Typically, the culprit had speedily zoomed off on sighting his bloodied handwork lying sprawled in the middle of the road. But already, good Samaritans at the scene of the accident were set in motion cleaning me up and carrying me off the accident scene. As I was being carried off, a dizzying feeling began to wash over me and I began to drift into a faint. The last thought I could remember at that moment was that what would become of my face now for I was certain that I would be ghastly disfigured as a result of the cut on my forehead. Despairing, I was swept into a swoon.
That was how I found myself in ward 38.
When I woke up again, I found myself in a 6 bed room ward called ward 38. My not fully conscious sight slowly swept across the room, registering my surrounding and its occupants. Ward 38 was a large, rectangular shaped room with three single hospital beds lying on opposite ends of the room, across a walk through divide i.e. three beds were lying on each end of the spacious room with heads to the wall. Five of the six beds were occupied by patients in different stages of illness. I was one of them. An acrid smell of rot and illness filled the room mixed with a tinge of disinfectant smell.
My first waking thoughts were filled with the last of my memory just before my swooning. What was to become of my face? Would I be disfigured at this young age to face a life time as an ugly woman? I gave little though to the fact that my bodily pains had subsided and that the fact that I could move my limbs freely indicated that I had not sustained any serious bodily injury apart from the gash on my forehead. All my thoughts were focused on my supposed facial disfigurement so much that I forgot to give thanks for my surviving the accident in a near perfect state. But this was before I met my ward mates.

Let me introduce you to them.

Meet Anita
Lying on the bed to my immediate left was a woman in her late 40’s, I am not sure what exactly plagued her, but she was so stringed up in tubes and pipes that they seemed to be a part of her person. Some of them were taking fluid from her body, while others bringing fluid into her. She was lying prostrate and immobile on her back and seemed to be far gone from the land of the living. She obviously could not help herself and was at the mercy of the nurses and relatives for every assistance.

Meet Chioma
Situated on the bed to my extreme left was Chioma who couldn’t have been more than 31/32 years of age. She had her left leg, which was swollen to elephantiasis proportions stringed up with a rope. I gathered she had been in that position for about a week prior to my arrival at the room. I also gathered that her discomfiture was the result of an okada accident similar to mine. However, unlike mine, while I was thrown from the okada, and another bike in full speed lightly bashed my head and zoomed off, hers was the result of being thrown from an okada and her left leg was then smashed by an oncoming trailer. Every slight movement was torture for her so much that I, even though just an onlooker, suffered with her in silence. I cried when ever she cried out in pain. Because her pain was so obvious and heartfelt, one could not help but cry with her. That was the most we could do, cry with her. Neither pain killer nor sedition could ease her sufferings. I happen to overhear the doctor’s verdict on her condition; ‘if she will ever walk again, it will be in six months time (with crutches) and then possibly fully (in a year time)’. Chioma was the prayer warrior of the room. Every morning and evening, whenever she had a little respite from her pains, in addition to praying for her the inmates of ward 38, her family, friends and everybody else she could think of, she vehemently rebuked the doctor’s predictions of her condition in prayers.

Meet Mummy Tosin
Mummy Tosin was lying on the bed, across the divide, opposite Chioma’s bed. She looked to be in her late 40’s early 50’s. But she could have been younger if the ravages of illness have not taken its toll on her. I needed no one to diagnose her illness to me. The sight of her told it all. She was hooked up to oxygen for breathing. Lying on her back in bed, her chest was laid bare. She did not even bother to cover up her nudity with a brassier, because (maybe it was her thinking, I cannot know) there was little or nothing to hide. One of her breast had been surgically removed, obviously to stem the spread of the ravaging cancer virus in her body.

Meet Grandma
Grandma was lying on the other side of the room, opposite Anita bed and to the left of mummy Tosin’s bed. The name grandma suggests her age. She was obviously aged, but nonetheless ravaged with illness which was no respecter of persons. I could not guess her illness because the symptoms were varied. Her clean shaven head would suggest to anyone radiation/chemotherapy treatment for terminal cancer, but that was before I saw her monstrously swollen right arm which was for the most part hidden under her bed’s coverlet. The arm was so swollen I could have sworn it was bigger than the width of her trunk. I could also see that her pain was equally intense that it seemed to have robbed her of her voice. Only a soundless moan escaped her occasionally parted lips. What her voice couldn’t produce in pain, her visage produced in grotesque twists and wrinkles of endured pain.

My Fate?
Then a thought suddenly occurred to me. Why was I placed in ward 38? Was ward 38 a kind of last stop for the terminally ill? Looking all around me, I could see people in various stages of terminal illness. And then I was still awaiting the results of a CT scan carried out on my brain because of my head on collision with the okada and subsequent 5 minutes black out. It has been over 24 hours now since the scan was carried out and still no news of the scan result. Or were the doctors telling me the truth? Was there something terminally wrong hence their refusal to divulge the news of the scan to me? Only time will tell. For the time being as I patiently awaited the result, I turned inwards i.e. I went within me to that secret place where only me and my God had access to and like Chioma, I began vehemently to beseech him in prayers.

NB: Although the experience, a real and recent one which happened to the author, all names and numbers used here are fictitious.

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So much more than you can imagine

When I woke up it was just over 00:00hrs Nigerian time but 02:00hrs Kenyan time. Having gone to bed earlier than usual, I could no longer sleep beyond this hour. Besides, the weather was too chilly for my liking. Thus, I raised my head, stretched my limbs and decided on the next best thing to do – browsing the internet – one of my favorite hobbies.

One of the first pages I opened was the popular social network site “Facebook”. I love to keep abreast with the activities of family, friends, groups and discussion which I follow to.

Browsing the home page, I came about this post from a friend, posted at about 00:26hrs of this morning

Friend’s post “Just had a funny thought….what if the Federal Government decided to evacuate Nigerians living in London due to the unrest????..any takers???”

and the post generated these responses in a few seconds

1. I’ll bet a million quid no one will show up at the pickup points.

2. Lolz…. I would surely hide myself. No electricity in Nigeria.

Initially, I thought theses responses funny and I was almost tempted to add a comment of my own to the tune of

and where exactly does he expects us to live? In the flood ravaged city of Lagos or the Boko Haram streets of northern Nigeria?

but I decided against it at the last minute. Maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision I made not to post the comment because my phone rang at that precise minute, distracting my attention from the post on facebook.

However, on dropping the call, I suddenly had a change of heart about posting my comment. I don’t know what unconscious reaction had triggered the change, but it just so happened that I saw things in a different light.

Yes, quite a large number of Nigerians living abroad would share these same views of never wanting to return to a country where nothing seem to  work out, nothing is certain and where a World Bank 2009 assessment of life expectancy is placed at 48 years.

We all want to be where things and conditions are better for us. No one can blame anyone for this, after-all as we say in Nigerian pidgin “who no like better tin?” meaning “is there anyone who does not like the good things of life?”

However, it is well known that no good thing comes easy. Many of us just seem to forget this fact. Ask any mother newly delivered of a baby and she will confirm this simple yet incomprehensible fact to you. We go to “Sokoto seeking what is actually in our sokoto” – another of Nigerian popular saying meaning “we run from pillars to post seeking what we can find at home”.

Just a two weeks visit to the beautiful city of Nairobi, in Kenya – Eastern Africa confirmed this to me. Here, Nigerians are something of a novelty. Everyone wants to be friendly with you. Why because they are so enamored with the product of our fast growing entertainment industry. Nigerian movies and music are best sellers here. They just love our artists, actors and actresses. On every corner of the street, in night clubs and social events, you hear Nigerian music taking the field. Perhaps it is true when they say a prophet is never appreciated in his hometown.

Moreover, I remember the advances we have made in communication with the introduction of Global System in Mobile communication during the tenure of president Olusegun Obasanjo in the year 2001 and also other advances in internet technology with access to the internet and billions of information now available to millions of Nigerians.

In as much as our craving for life’s goodies would push us to other countries, we must not forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day. We, Nigeria can get and will get there. We just need more people to commit to the movement for change because, I tell you, you have got so much more than you can ever imagine. So why not start utilizing them now?

Beyond Meditation – Going from Passive to Active Thinking

Beyond meditation is contemplation.

Contemplation is a method that enables you to begin to go out and actively explore the inner worlds of your own being. It is different from meditation, a passive state in which the practitioner goes within and just quietly waits for the light of the other worlds to appear i.e. come to him.

Meditation, is the state in which one clears the mind of all thoughts and sits in passivity awaiting the sought for illumination. It is but a  stage towards contemplation, the ultimate form of prayer.

In contemplation, you go through the same process of meditation, but then you go further. You take control. You empty the mind of all thoughts, then you begin actively to fill the mind with only the thought, image and/or feeling that you desire to experience at that particular moment.

Do not underestimate the power of concentrated thoughts. It has been proven times without number that concentrated thoughts forms have become actions and are still becoming actions i.e. our deeds in life.

Why not take a go at it i.e. active meditation which is actually Contemplation as against passive meditation? – and experience the power of directed (positive) thinking.

A Table for Two

Over lunch he calmly popped the question: ‘So how are you finding the job?’

‘Not bad’ I replied in between mouthfuls. ‘Everything is still relatively new to me but also very interesting’.

‘Hmmmm’, he murmured, and then added ‘if I may say, I’d add that a lot of the satisfaction comes from the fact that your boss is a very accommodating, well learned individual, who believes strongly in grooming younger officers and equal sharing of information and knowledge. If this were not the case, I’d say you wouldn’t be having so much of a good time on the job as you are having now’.

Take the case of other individuals on the job like you’, he added, ‘they do not seem to be faring as well as you are, due to the fact that their boss is not as accommodating and as open as yours is’.

I was shaking my head vehemently in disagreement as he rounded up his conversation. ‘I strongly disagree I chirped in. My enjoyment of the job is due mostly to the fact that I am passionate about it and more than willing to assist and learn in every task and assignment given to me and not solely because of my well learned, open and knowledge sharing boss’.

Remember the time when you were still in school system’, he quickly cut in trying to defend his position, ‘and when you failed a subject or course, was it not mostly due to the fact that the teacher was not a good one and could not properly pass on the knowledge to the student?’ was this not always the fact?’

Again I was shaking my head before he could finish and quickly spoke up to halt his cutting me off again.

Two years ago, I would have totally agreed with you, but now I hold a different point of view. I think that the individual inability to comprehend a subject has nothing to do with the teacher. Or better put, it has little or nothing to do with the teacher and more and everything to do with the individual.’

I raised my left palm this time to hold off his comments as I proceeded. ‘It all depends on the individual’s initiatives and aptitudes, i.e. one who is ready and willing to learn will learn no matter the situation or circumstances’. Yes in my primary and secondary schooling days, I had always blamed my inability to pass mathematics on the mathematics teacher, and for a while, I got away with this notion’.

But every so often, life seems to bring us face to face with our fears at a point where there is no running away. I was promised a job after my service year that required a credit pass in O’Level mathematics and also an in-depth knowledge of the subject at that fundamental level to succeed on the job. Here, I met my waterloo’.

However, over the course of time, I got someone who was known to be the best tutor there can ever be on the subject. His track record of success and success for the kids he tutored was impeccable, yet even he could not help me. And, unheard of in his history, he pronounced me a hopeless case (not his exact words)’.

It was at that point that I realized that it wasn’t the teachers, or their methods, neither was it the environment – for I had blamed everything under the sun but myself. It was just me, I and myself. And that nobody but I could help myself. I did not get the job eventually, but today I and a proud owner of a distinction in O’Level mathematics all through my singular effort – not a small feat if you knew my history’.

By this time, my lunch mate was quietly listening to me as I proceeded on. ‘So do not tell me about people who do not succeed at a job or on an endeavor due to the unsupportive stance of someone else in their path. If the true desire is to succeed, then succeed you shall no matter the odds’.

‘I cannot really blame you for this attitude’ I added ‘because as I see it, it is a fundamental attitudinal problem of Nigerians. We are always looking for scapegoats to bear the blames for our continual failures and inability to subject ourselves to the rigors required for success and the government has become a ready scapegoat to  blame’.

So tell me now for example, who is to blame for the mass failure of our children in the O’Level examinations? The government for not providing the enabling environment for pupils and not paying teachers enough to motivate them to teach the children better?’

‘Have we however forgotten that no matter how much you teach a child, but that when that same child goes home, and has no one to caution him from watching the television all day and no guidance to see that he does his homework, that he will end up retaining nothing of the knowledge?

Or on the other hand, the child who has no one to fend for him and so spends all day after school hawking one item or the other, while the parents go about producing more of them with never a thought given to their welfare? Who really is to blame here, the government or the people? And if you say the government? Who really is the government?’

Thus, a lunch for two came to an abrupt end.

I miss the things that once were . . .

I miss the things that once were
The simple beauty of the nights
The delight of a babe’s laughter
The honesty in his eyes
The peace of solitude . . .

Now in the middle of the night
I find no peace in loneliness
I am hunted by the things that once were
Or perhaps, by the things that I thought once were

How did I mistake feebleness for simplicity?
And brute callousness for blunt honesty?
The days have come when roses drop petals – revealing hidden thorns
For the sharp, fine things of pain they are

Alas, stung, I am unrelenting in my search
For like the faint elusive strains of a sweet haunting melody
The things that once were, lure me onward, unrelenting in my search
Somehow, alone in the hunt, I am somewhat comforted
Within my heart, I hear whispers saying . . .
That the things that once were, still are, and still will be – if only we believe.

Forever Young

The thought, ‘who watches over honest, single girls living in Lagos?’ echoed through my head as I strolled from the small shop at the gate towards my modest apartment within the large family compound.

Just as it had popped up, the idle thought fizzled out quietly and I was left wondering what had originally triggered it. A sharp pain from somewhere on my left hand drew my attention downwards to the source of the pain. Distracted by my sudden thought and somewhat disturbed by another nagging one, I had been absent mindedly twisting my middle finger at the place where the wedding band is usually positioned. By so doing, I had worn the flesh sore, thus drawing blood.  A slight shudder ran through me at the delicate implication of my action. Why the suppressed rage?

Suppressed or not, the truth was that I was really disturbed at the genre of conversation that had just transpired between I and the individual at the small shop by the gate and try as much as I might, I could not shake off the feeling that I had somehow triggered the approach and genre of conversation. I was also trying my best to convince myself that the subtle implied meaning I perceived was nonexistent. But deep down, I knew what was being implied.

However, to my reasoning, there was no justification for the implied meaning. I couldn’t find any and I felt sorry that my inopportune situations had made me subject for such intentions. Did I exude a particular aura that provoked these perceive yet unwanted advances? Was my appearance unseemly? Quickly I scrutinized my appearance to verify this claim. I was attired in an ankle length plaid, brown skirt, a cream colored jacket and a darker shade of cream inner camisole. My appearance was nothing less than proper. I felt certain of it.

At the same time, I knew that my appearance had always been decent so I couldn’t have in any way provoked the advances on my own initiatives. Still pondering over the real reason for this, the faint strains of a melody flittered towards my from a neighbor’s window. It was the song “Forever Young” music by Jay-Z feat. Mr. Hudson and the realization suddenly hit me. The real reason for this unsolicited advance: what is it about the adult male that he is forever seeking to perpetuate his youth by continuously seeking out younger and even younger female conquests? Was it an underlying aching need to remain forever young? Maybe it was. Maybe . . .

Darker Hues to Lighter Shades

What happened to the delicate beauty of my youth?

What eroded my fertile thought-forms of yesteryears?

When everything was simply either Black or White


It seems to me that I now see in grayscales

With 50 shades of colors in between

As they line up – darker hues to lighter shades


Tiny yellow blossoms have sprouted from wrinkled old stalks

The soil is fertile – awaiting a seed

What will I plant today?



What would you make of Life’s Lemons?

It’s been a while since I visited these pages to pen my thoughts. Many thanks to NHG for making me write again after a long break.

When life gives you lemons, your reactions either turn it to lemonade or bitter lemon. Elozanam, one of the five new housemates introduced into the big brother house was among the two evicted from the house last Sunday. The viewers’ reactions were mixed; some were happy with the eviction, as a fallout of his altercation with popular housemate Tacha, while others – and a great many of them – were unhappy with his eventual eviction. Many were beginning to like him after he began to exhibit his talents in the Thursday presentation and Friday and games night. However, his eviction was simply a sorry situation of turning his lemons to bitter lemon instead of lemonade.  The theme of this year’s BBN is termed “Pepper Them” and according to him, he chose to explore this theme by trying to get some selected housemates out of their shells. Some viewers applauded his actions of trying to draw out the somewhat introverted queen Tacha, but I simply thought that he should have left her alone as she wished to be left alone. Given the theme of “Pepper Them”, his reaction to the theme eventually gave him bitter lemons in the form of eviction. Now it is up to him to take this new lemon and deal with it all over again in his own way.

This incident brings to memory another event that occurred during my last visit to South Africa; another case of taking life’s lemons and deciding what to make of it. By the way, if you are looking for a good travel agency to take care of your next trip and vacation, I  really recommend Timbu. So on this trip, I happened to make it with a colleague who came along with her 6 months old son. Being that the trip was an official one involving training, she had to look for a nanny for her baby for the duration of her stay when she would be in class. Before the trip, she arranged with the lodge’s manager to assist in sourcing a nanny for her. The manager who happened to be a white South African Woman succeeded in engaging the services of a Black South African woman to do the job. The contract was struck between the white and black ladies and communicated to my colleague before our arrival such that on arrival, we had a nanny to babysit my colleague’s son. 

On the final day of the training, we were lucky to close class early and decided to do some last-minute shopping before returning to the lodge to pack our belongings in preparation for our return trip the following day. The heavy rains delayed our getting an early cab back to the lodge. Thus, by the time we arrived at the lodge, it was a little late. We were however surprised to be greeted by raised voices. On approach, we found the manager and nanny engaged in a heated argument. The bone of contention was the negotiated pay for the babysitting job the black nanny had been doing for the past one week of our stay. We gathered that the manager paid the nanny 500USD and the black nanny wanted more claiming that the baby’s mum i.e. my colleague must have paid the manager more and the white woman was trying to cheat her out of her earnings as was customary for white to do to blacks in South Africa. Thus, the nanny refused to give up the baby but insisted on waiting for our arrival to confirm how much the baby’s mum actually paid the manager for her services.

To her dismay, my colleague confirmed that it was the exact same amount paid to her that she had negotiated and paid the manager. The nanny refused to believe her and went on and on about how unfortunate it was that her fellow blacks would connive with the white to cheat her. She ranted and raved, demanded more and at a point even threatened to leave with the baby if not paid more until the timely intervention of the manager’s boyfriend who ordered her to hand over the baby and vacate the lodge less he called in the cops. Eventually, she left in a trail of curses culminating in calling the manager a racist.

As she left, I wondered at how a sad history of Apartheid had clouded the mentality of the modern generation of black South Africans. Many like her, still choose to view life through victims eyes, consequently, taking life’s lemons and turning them to bitter lemon instead of choosing lemonade. Don’t we all do this sometimes? I mean we take life’s lemons and unconsciously turn them to bitter lemons? This we achieve by instinctively reacting to life’s events without first pondering on a course of action and its effect on people around us before deciding on a response. If only we could ponder first, before reacting, I bet life would be a whole lot better for everyone in it. So what will be it be for you henceforth? What would you make of life’s lemons?

Changes, Changes, that’s what it is

The leaves are leaving the trees

Harmattan is coming – Changes, Changes, That’s what it brings

I left the West and Walked to the East – Changes, Changes, That’s what it is

I look at you in the eyeball and spoke my mind for the first time – Changes, Changes, That’s what it is

Though it costs me a bond forged 30 years ago and may win me not the one I so desire – Changes, Changes, That’s what it is

Soon it will be Spring, and then Summer again – Changes, Changes, That’s what it is

Nkem, Oh Nkem! (2)

Where will I find you many years from now?
At home with the kids or out with the boys?
How long does the magic last?
A day, a few days, a year or a lifetime?

I have looked into your eyes,
Seen your shy-honest smile,
Watched the gentle rise and fall of your heart as you lie asleep at night

And I have known- deep down within me
That I can go a lifetime
I can be a lifetime with you and still remain –
Starry-eyed and filled with the magic

Sadly too, I have witnessed, many times over and over again
The havoc time leaves in its wake
But I can also bear testimony to its creations
Of how sublimely beautiful they can be

What will it make of this magic?
Beauty or Havoc?

Nkem, Oh Nkem! (1)


What will we do when we become old?

How will you see me when the magic leaves our eyes?

What will we have to say to each other in a year, maybe 10 years from now?

It’s six months left to freedom, yet already, these chains that bind me chaff at my ankles

Three decades now I languished, searching, searching, the voyage never-ending

From creeks to keeps; vales to valleys I went

Until accidentally, I stumbled upon you

And tasted the honey-tinged dew-drops of ecstasy for the first time . . .

Are you a Desition Hero?

Are you a Desition Hero?

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Are you presently doing something or have you previously done something that has touched lives significantly and would like to share with Desition and others to inspire?

Do you know anyone who is also a Desition Hero?

Please contact Desition Admin via
(1) Chat on BBM Channel C0031D02D or

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They will love to hear from you.

Sometimes in July – things fell apart (1)

I look at you and all I see is you
Clearly, without rancor, I see you now
You – as you have been- you as you will always be

If mount Everest loses its height, then I’d believe change is inevitable
But some changes are not as inevitable as they say they are

This mount defies this law
And so have you

You are you
You never deluded me
I managed to deceive myself
‘cos you have always been you’.

Bon Voyage

Again, for another of the countless other many times, I lost the fight. But this around, I found my voice. Buried deep within me, I found it sitting, waiting quietly for me to find and pick it up. And through dark murky hall I threaded, through cold misty dawns, oh! How I crawled in fear for ages! How I dreaded my very shadow! Until I was lost in the quagmire of a labyrinth wrought in trepidation.

Alas! Through the cold dark days of dread, I have walked to come out on the other side. I have faced fear and conquered. I have risen – me – a journey ended as I found my voice – my key!

Many thanks to everyone who helped me in the finding. I fought some, I loved some, but above all, I learned from all.

Now it’s on to the next journey – the next voyage. For the journey never ends. Were you deceived into believing that the sighting of the key will mean the journey’s end? Be thou not deceived for the journey has only just begun!

Join me if you will for it will be fun, but there will also be pain too – life is never free of them both i.e. fun & pains. But in the end, we will have lived, our lives, TO THE FULLEST.


Your Best Friends

They are everywhere – you see them everywhere

They call you – some regularly, some occasionally

They check up on you

Not out of love, never out of care

But most from a deep seated need to establish

You haven’t left where you were, the last time they called you

They’ll smile into your eyes, they’ll mock you in your face

Not directly, but snidely

Eyes opened guilefully to voiced hurt protests,

They’ll affirm it a joke and run off gleefully in laughter

They are the Vipers – Beware of them

But the worse of them all, the most deadly ones, they are the Boa Constrictors

They take you whole

In one single gulp, they swallow you

Without remorse, not even batting an eyelid, with no smile of cunning or glee

Innocent as Doves they come, harmless as Kids

You divulge all to them, with ears wide open – they listening, eyes wide and clear – they watch

So when feeding time comes, they take you in one gulp

And you never see them coming

“Cause they had been there all along

For you had called them ‘Your Best Friends’.