"Jesus is here to invest in a relationship with you...
... so don't let Him be a stranger in the manger."
- Jonathan McKee, pp.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
As most fresh graduates lamented over the fact that they’d be posted to schools to teach for the Service year, I was delighted because I’d always wished for an opportunity to teach. An opportunity to impart knowledge in fresh, exciting ways. No need for cramming, people; just come into class with your unfilled heads and I’ll fill them up with easy-to-understand knowledge… (Picture Smiegle of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ saying the ‘easy-to-understand knowledge’ part and you’ll get how crazy I am about uncomplicated knowledge… my precioussss).
I had always imagined my students listening to me, absolutely captivated, as I gently opened up their minds to new ideas; as I carefully laid block upon block on a solid foundation… In my mind’s eye, I was the perfect, enjoyable teacher- ready with a key joke or analogy that would not only make the students laugh, but serve as a link between The Everyday and The Abstract.
This is what I experienced instead:
"When an acid and a base react, they form salt and water only. Kun gane ko?"
"Ok, that’s good. So if I have an acid like HCl reacting with a base like NaOH, what products am I going to get?"
"What two products will I get?"
"I’ll get a salt and…."
Silence."A salt and water naaa! Weren’t you girls listening? When an acid and a base react, you get salt and water"
"Ok, what if I have an acid like H2SO4 reacting with a base like NaOH?"
"Acid and base equals salt and water. Zainab, what did I just say?"
Silence, then: "Aunty, ban ji ba"/"Aunty I didn’t hear"
Hm. Is it that I’m talking too fast? Not using enough examples? Too boring? What???
BUILT-ON-SAND VERSUS BUILT-ON-ROCK
Most students will be excited and relatively well-behaved in the presence of a new Malam or Malama, but novelty can only take you as far as two weeks, tops. After that, you’re on your own. It’s now time to think of creative ways to motivate the students to pay attention and learn. Teaching tactics are now employed, like using everyday examples to introduce new concepts, (because learning is really just a process of building on a foundation that has already been laid); like giving assignments and quizzes to make the students serious; like injecting educational games to lighten the atmosphere a bit; like rewarding good performance, and many other tactics.
But WHAT IF the foundation that has been laid is horribly flawed?
After a short while I began to experience what the older Corpers had often complained about: very low morale.
I wasn’t transferring much knowledge… and was it my imagination that Hussaina, Shamsiyya, Jamila and Aisha were always falling asleep (or falling ill) the moment I walked into their class??
I complained about this to the HOD so he followed me to class one morning. He pointed out that I sometimes explained while the students were busy writing, which is wrong. I took correction, but didn’t get much better results, so I was back to my initial questions- what was I doing wrong? Abi these young ladies were really hopeless?
Another teacher shed more light on the issue: He said most of the students in the school are suffering from Ba Turanci Syndrome(that is, No English Syndrome). Why? Because they never attended Primary School! They were admitted into Secondary School straight from Islamic School or even from home (and in Islamic School, they are taught in Hausa). The result is what you see in class:
-they cannot speak English, or just manage to string words together. To get through to them, you need to speak Hausa to them (the new students coming in are improving though)
-they mostly show interest in Hausa, Arabic, etc. (Not surprising. I only liked the subjects that "made sense")
-they hate reading and doing assignments (No excuse for this one; it really vexes me)
- they are permitted to dubb during tests and exams, but the strangest thing is that with all that 'xeroxing' they still fail (WAEC and NECO are the worst; they write the answers on the board for them to copy)-they doze in class. Tell them to sit up, stand up, kneel down… posh’ti ka fan! (heehee, that’s my language for they don’t hear)
Good and fine. While this was vexing news to me, I knew it didn’t apply to my case, because most of my students often impressed me with their good command of English. So in which area lay the problem, Mr. Holmes?
CAUTION: Northern Mentality in Progress!
In the extreme North, there must be three allotropes of oxygen- normal oxygen, ozone and marriage oxygen. So how do you expect a core Northern girl to withstand the great pressure to marry early when she’s been breathing m-oxygen since birth? Or more importantly, why should she withstand it? Isn’t marriage a beautiful thing? Who is to say that being married to that elderly Alhaji is not the very purpose for which she was born? Who says all this boring, abstract education thing is really necessary for a good future? Besides, even the Mallams are checking her out during free periods (some don’t even go to class to teach because they are waiting for her). Wallahi, it’s not easy to be hot cake. So please, all that matters is the Alhaji- he likes her enough to want her to be his latest amarya. Aiyiriiiiiiiii!
And couldn’t the POOR EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES have something to do with it?
This week, I enjoyed my classes very much. Why? Because the girls were moved out of their ‘containers’ and into impressive new classrooms. Let us now wave bye-bye to the following bad rubbish:
Bye bye excessive heat! Hello spacious, learning-friendly rooms! We even have fans! 11:10 to 1:45pm lessons may not be sooo bad afterall!
Bye bye tables with ‘collapsible’ tops and chairs that we fall off when one of us stands up too fast. We have solid desks now, and our chairs dey kampe!
Bye bye dim containers; hello well-lit rooms. Maybe I’ll pay more attention to what’s on the board afterall. Teacher, you’ve got an extra ten minutes to "bring it" before I tune out, okay?
The students in the school I’m serving are fortunate enough to have such classrooms. They are fortunate to have a Princi that is concerned and connected enough to upgrade their facilities. Imagine what other students are going through. The Government school in Tsafe Local Govt., (which also serves as the temporary NYSC Orientation Camp) is a perfect example of what bad facilities can do to the human psyche. Those students are something else: ruffians, thieves, and…. I lack words to describe them in fact. Now when a human being starts to behave like an animal, you must either help get him back on the road to humanity or…
…Send in Bullallah (Ph.D)
Students who refuse to behave are flogged regularly. It seems to be the only thing the students will respect. A dozing student threatened with being sent to the Mallam specially employed for lashing gives immediate results. I’m not against lashing (it showed me the light when I was unserious) but the manner, rate and purpose of lashing matters. We were going for CD one day, and met an ex-student in a taxi. He complained about the lashings he received in his school. He said there was this boy who was given 100 lashes, straight up. No way I can confirm that story, so let’s just leave it as "them-say".
I wonder whether we are trying to correct negative behaviour, or (unconsciously) trying to encourage the animal within the students to grow... it's not really a mystery, anywayz.
So, you’ve read my little bit on the educational system in ZM. I’ll conclude by saying there’s certainly room for improvement. I know that I sat tall on my high horse a few times, and I apologise for that. Thanks for reading!
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Driver sighted the man in his well-known brown Road Safety gear from afar and cursed. He swore even more violently as the man began to flag down his car:
“Ga wancan shegen banza *$#@#@! Zan nuna mishi wani abu, wallahi!”
“See that bastard * * *! I’ll show him something, wallahi!”
Having said this, the man put his foot down hard on the accelerator and smiled a wicked smile.
Impact Time = 10 seconds.
The passengers watched; some with rising excitement, others with trepidation. What was about to happen very fast was a joke, shebi? As in, the Driver had good brakes ko? And the Road Safety official. He had quick reflexes… ko?
Impact time = 5 seconds.
The official began to understand the crazy driver’s intent.
Impact Time = 3 seconds
Joke or not, the official didn’t wait to find out. Twas a case of “safety first”, as his instructors had drilled deeply into his head. He flew off the road at the same instant the Driver swerved violently to the left to dodge hitting him.
“Hahahaha! Shegen b*#@*&! kawai” he whooped happily as he sped away. The “shege” had been taught a lesson. Some of the passengers congratulated him, laughing with him over this accomplishment. All looked back to catch glimpses of the dazed Road Safety official gathering his wits about him. Allah ya isa! God it is enough! The hazards of this job are too much he was probably thinking crossly. Well, at least he lived to tell the story. A true story.
Case Two: Wrestling Match In Front Seat
Fortunately no one was injured, but unfortunately, it is yet another true story.
[I apologise for being MIA for so long. I have been having a few issues lately. I’m back to tell you about the peaceful State that is called Zamfara. Today’s post is about ZM drivers’ attitudes, and it doesn’t flatter the State at all.]
Most ZM drivers do not respect road laws, and they know how to speed… recklessly. E don’ pass “be careful” stage, as my ex-roomate would say.
As the Commander-in-Charge of the Federal Road Safety Corporation (FRSC) said during our last Community Development mtg, “it seems like the drivers wake up everyday and ask themselves, 'how many people am I going to injure today?'” It is disturbing. Most do not have a clue about road laws (neither do I but that’s why I joined the FRSC :-)) - they overtake carelessly and kill so many people as a result. But don’t take my word for it; it has been said that ZM has the highest car accident mortality rates in Nigeria. (I'll do some research on it soonest).
Because of this poor understanding of road safety, instead of passengers telling the drivers to slow down, they encourage them (by their silence – “shuru ma amsa”) to keep it up. While I’m on this topic, I might as well add that I have also noticed a Boot-Riding thing here: you can find up to three passengers riding happily in the boots of taxis or buses. No wonder Northerners are often referred to as animals.
There is plenty room for improvement, that’s the summary. FRSC, NURTW, VIO, Cofas... we all need to work together to change these trends. Address/re-educate the drivers, pedestrians (and even NURTW and Road Safety workers) regularly, make road signs, speed bumps, enforce strict laws… and so on. It’s just that Nigeria is so corrupt. (Not a pretty way to end a post, so lemme sing the Nigeria Go Better song: “Nigeria will survive; my people will survive. Nigeria go survive O, Nigeria go better!” It starts… with YOU :-)
PS: Next week I’ll be talking about ZM’s educational system in Professor Bullallah. Till then, have v. good days!
The ZM populace willingly accept Nigerian notes regardless of the state of the notes. As in, they can accept a torn, squeezed and generally maltreated naira note very willingly. Me ya same shi? they’ll ask in puzzlement when you ask them if they’ll accept your brown, tired, super-delicate, tissue paper-soft N50. HOW-EVER, THIS BENEVOLENCE DOES NOT EXTEND TO THE N20! It’s almost an insult to offer them a partly torn N20. A-a! Bazan karbi wancan ba/No! I won’t accept that they will tell you strongly. After that they’ll most likely face the other side and mutter/sulk. End of story. Hmm…
The much-talked about harmattan is finally upon us, and indeed our lips are testifying to this! Moisturizers, Vaseline and Chapet have come out of their hiding place. Our jackets, sweaters, and mufflers are about to find and fulfill the central purpose of their ‘lives’ (that’s the title of a deep book by Os Guinness sha). We have heard that the cold here is intense, but I secretly doubt that it’s colder than Jos. If it is indeed colder, it’ll probably be because of the desert-like characteristics ZM has. In any case, I’m about to find out for sure. Yay!
… and a little bit on dressing:
- Of course there’s the obvious green khaki, jungle boots and other abunga, but that counts only on CD/PCD days or when you want to collect a query from the NYSC Secretariat :-)
- Indigenes wear hijabs of varying lengths. (Most) Corpers love no such thing.
- Indigenes can wear trousers, but only as long as it’s accompanied by classy kaftans. Corpers can wear such a fashionable piece, but mostly they prefer to wear trousers with t-shirts, tame body hugs, etc.
- Male indigenes hardly wear jeans. Corpers wear jeans fala-fala.
- You can never see an indigene exposing her hair in public (a-ah, babu babu). Corpers? Well, there’s the spiky weave-on, million braids, feather braids, Anita Baker cut… take your pick, or better still, come up with something more chic.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Oh Lord! Time’s up for me again.
My two-week sick leave from ZM has sadly come to an end (and I didn’t even get the chance to put on some weight :-( ) I’ll be going back on Sunday, and 5 days later I’m going to win the battle over tears as I wave my roommates g’bye. (Heck, maybe I’ll remember all the not-so-nice things they said/did and then scream “good riddance” as I push them out… fat chance). Another 5 days from then, I shall wave my new flat mates hello. Ahhh… I wonder what they’ll be like. Will they gel with us the way we did with the outgoing batch? Will they like singing (like some two flatmates I know)? And wait till they see our huge and famous Kotorkoshi rock.
In any case, they are very welcome.
Well I have to go now. It’ll probably be a while before my next post. Discovering new blogs has been fun. Keep living, laughing, learning and loving.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Since I was thinking of series, I started with Melina Kanakaredes, whose composure I really trip for in CSI:NY.(And she is beautiful- I always rave about her curly hair and Greek features).
Then I proceeded to Ruth Benamaisia, who used to anchor NTA Newsline. Once upon a time, any kind of News used to bore me to tears; even the spicy, tales-of-the-unexpected Newsline. (I’d prefer to watch Buffy but nooo, the parents would not hear it- they said the country would be on fire and we wouldn’t know it- which was a valid point, but still…) Well, Ruth’s very correct English and intriguing mix of confidence and warmth always kept me quite attentive and always smiling happily. Yah, I’m smiling as I remember her, in fact.
Thinking about Ruth naturally led me to Kehinde Young-Harry, (who has been absent from Newsline for some time, I’m sad to discover), with her easy personality and equally fab. way of talking. She strikes me as someone that’s easy to talk with, (that’s what I mean when I say ‘easy personality’). Usually, when I think of her I think of Ruth too; both are classy, respectable women with a cool sense of humour.
My next stop was New Dawn’s trendy, “funky” presenter, Funmi Iyanda. I need not mention how great she looks and dresses. These two killer combinations would have made watching New Dawn a bit painful had it not been for her wonderful down-to-earth, refreshingly honest, expressive, intellectual, humorous nature (Chai, I’m beginning to sound like a sycophant, so enough said).
Adesuwa of Today’s Woman is yet another inspiring woman. She’s focused, obviously hard working, and tackles issues so deftly. Wow. Yah, she’s level-headed too.
When I realised that most of the women I admire are tv personalities, I decided to come closer to home: Anne Abok, director/producer, editor, script-writer of Media Village(YWAM), Bassa LGA., Plateau State. Oh mehn… how do I start? How do I do her justice? I can’t. She is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Very passionate about her work, and about people in general. Her lovely laugh, warm soul and amazing creativity is really awesome. (On more than one occasion, while she was giving us the basics of video production, the guy sitting next to me would whisper, “Shey she’s very beautiful?” “Mm-hm, definitely” )
Soon to be added to the roll is Sebari Diete-Spiff, director of Wetin Dey, Sitanda and other productions. (I say ‘soon to be added’ because I don’t know much about her yet- only precious little from a brief interview in True Love mag BUT! Like the feeling you get when you hear the beginning of a song for the very first time and are absolutely sure you’re going to love it, I just know that she’s going to be in my ‘hall of fame’).
Of course I will never forget Aunt Regina, of the Navigators Minna, Nigeria. Oh my! Warmth personified! Always willing to give you a warm hug, rub your back, sit down and chat with you… She is a devoted follower of Christ, wife, mother, friend… name it. Insightful and witty (you should hear some of the conversations she has with her daughters), she is also a fun, creative cook (I saw butternuts for the first time in my life in her kitchen).
And you know there’s Mama… the woman that permitted this young lady to live, the one who taught (er… is teaching) her daughter to be as true, hard working and independent as she is (When I remember Destiny’s Child’s… Destiny Child’s… Destiny Child… (what-ever) When I remember their cool Independent Woman song, I no longer think strictly of a classy chic riding a black SLK/Merc/Jeep/? with a fantastic condo and killer wardrobe. I think of Mama- self-sacrificing, seriously multi-tasking (on a bad day she calls herself jaki -donkey- but I think SuperWoman sounds better :-))
So…this is the list for now.No way my life is going to be mediocre with such wonderful women to think about. Yah… they are my Women of Substance.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Lagbaja looks unruffled; the baby on the mortar, reaching for the music manuscript is endearing; the people discussing in the corner are very Naija.
The tie-and-dye labullé (curtain) and the (somehow) unsettling wood carvings… mmm… very, very cool.
The pc, the book collection, the stereo, tv… correct!
Bits and pieces of two different cultures blended together to give a warm, deliciously down-to-earth representation of today’s Nigeria.
NB: I think the picture would also make for a great Spot-The-Difference game, don’t you agree? :-)
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Athletic and Natural.
She plays football with the guys, is a great volley ball player and loves to ride bicycles. Her hair is long and brown and suits her fair complexion.
This Imo State girl who has a tomboy exterior has a soft side too, of course. When she talks about the love of her life, her eyes (and entire countenance, actually) light up. (Sometimes you're even tempted to blush by her very candid display of emotion). If I'm to choose the one thing I'll miss her dearly for, it's her laughter. NYSC, you did good in making our paths cross, but it's time to say goodbye (sighs sadly). Well, when I think of her I can always yell:
Super Cook, Super Mama!
This Rivers State lady can cook (as the subtitle implies, duh). She can transform a regular, everyday meal into a delightful, more-that-Maggi-Family-Menu meal. Wow. Time will not permit me to elaborate (I'm extremely hungry too, truth be told. We just finished this month's clearance, and thinking about food isn't helping my shaking hands).
Lively, life, alive, exuberant!!
"OGHENE BI KO OOOOO!"
Chai, the lodge is going to be so empty and so, so quiet without this Edo lady! Ha! There's the popular saying, "never a dull moment with you" and she embodies it. Mehn she's so much fun. Her voice is loud, and it doesn't take a lot of effort to get her laughing. It's lovely being in her company, playing Whot, eating, jisting about.. well, lots of stuff :-)
I will miss her loud, lively, lovely self. I will miss these three amazing sistas who have helped me gather my wits about me. For making me laugh, for advicing me, and yes... for teasing me.
My lovely roommates, you dey go-oooo! Come September 11 2008, you'll head back to Lag, PH, Edo State... chai! I must savour every moment that I can. I must live, laugh and love like you three.
Je je je we dey go-o,
Monday, June 23, 2008
We went deep into the interiors of Kotorkoshi, to a village called Chediya, in order to teach the women (young and old) to become more independent. In other words, my fellow Corper girls and I went on a Women Empowerment mission. We taught them the fine art of making buns, puffpuff, pancakes, cakes... Twas fun. My role as English-to-Hausa interpreter was scary but cool. I loved looking into their eyes and seeing them sparkle. I just pray that they take their time to really learn and become self-reliant (like me ;-))
Next week we'll be teaching them how to make soap and vaseline. Wow! I can hardly wait.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The dust has settled between my Ex-Princi's last visit. It has settled very, very well. My life is taking on an easy, slow-paced beat (which I swore I'd prevent, tsk tsk) but the conclusion is this: I am happy. Swinging from one mood to the other as the dust storm blows, but happy. Focusing on good and bad things almost simultaneously, but happy.
It's good for me to stop here, as I have nothing further to add apart from this: God really dey, so I dey kampe! :-)
Howz YOUR own morale??
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Scenes from Wetin Dey (fapped from a bbc page I cannot recall at the moment)
The show is indeed "Burnin' Hot!"
AIDS is a depressing reality, but the way it is treated in Wetin Dey is remarkable. (By the way, I just realized that “remarkable” really means remark able/remark worthy/notable. English...) The humour is respectfully injected to calm you down when you see sad things happening to 'Peju, Bilkisu, Yetunde or dear Chris.
Immediately I heard the opening music on Sunday evening, I flew out of my room, extremely excited (okay, that’s not so true… I was in the middle of composing a text, so I hurriedly finished and told him to “tune to NTA… please please hurry!”)
Nigeria is working. To God be the glory!
PS: I just wanted to share my happiness over Wetin Dey with you, esp. as I’ll be heading back to ZM in a few days. If only I could pack this burrful, calm, amazing Jos weather along with the rest of my stuff… I truly wish (sighs)…
Friday, May 23, 2008
High, I hope.
I want to believe this post meets you well. What you’ve been up to, who you’ve been connecting with, and how you’ve been generally has been so worthwhile, I trust. Thank you for coming. A bear hug to you, and if that doesn’t do, how about two hugs and a tall glass of chilled Blackcurrant Viju Milk? Mmm.
I’ve been good. The 3+ weeks I spent at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp, Zamfara State have taught a lot of us (and me, especially) stuff…
1. We are many that initially believed: ‘God is punishing me, that’s why I’ve been posted to Zamfara’ (A 2007/2008 Corper observed that all of us walked through the camp gates with very, very long faces. I didn’t notice cuz I must have been attending my very own pity party at the time). I can believe it sha, and it would explain the ease with which we all bonded. QED: Misery loves company…
2. We can stand almost perfectly still under the baking-hot sun while flies happily kiss us every other second, (and we can stand in dust storms too)…
3. At night we can bathe outside while we shout on the naughty guys who want to "see their Mamas"…
4. We can drink satchet upon satchet of pure water and still pee only once a day…
5. We can do shot put/bush attack/shit-in-a-bag quite well (indeed the very fact that I can mention this undignified abunga can tell you something about my state of mind)…
6. We can eat food that has been offered up to the Tsafekuda god (aw-wite I was just kidding about that one.
7. I can fervently wish to be rejected by a potential employer…
8. I can cry and flail my arms about non-stop for an hour plus if I think it’s going to help my case…
9. I can fly off a bike and land face-first in the coarse sand; stand up, dust myself and calmly tell the biker, "mu ci gaba" ("Let’s continue") within forty five seconds…
And of course:
10. I now understand why Corpers often look so cross.
Having people say "Shun!" or "Cofa!" (Corper, in a Hausa accent) when you’re trying to navigate around a strange town whose employers refuse to accept or reject or house you is thoroughly irritating. Teasing me in this foreign land, are you? Well, like the Soja Men taught us to say, ‘Baggas! God punish your Local Govt. Chairman!’
But enough about what I’ve seen, tasted, experienced and discovered. Lemme ask a serious question for once:
How do you persuade a young, teenage girl whose major obsession is marriage to learn about the Kinetic Theory of Gases? Or about Malthus’ principle? Or about… (aw shucks! Physics & I were like shark&bloody human, so I can’t/don’t want to remember anything from that side).
How do you encourage her to be serious about her education?
And then, how do you persuade a class-full of such young women?
If it helps that I am a fellow female who has made it through the system, it doesn’t help that I am consistently losing faith in the country’s educational system. So, how?
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Santi is the Hausa word for… arrgh! I don’t quite know how to put it… enjoyment of something… like something is really shakking you.
[Examples: "Kina santin abin ko? (You are relishing the thing ba?”) Usually stated by my sis when she sees me getting extra chirpy or excited while eating some things.]
I googled the word for a better explanation, but guess what? They had a hard time defining it as well:
“Santi is a Hausa cultural concept which is hard to define precisely. It always involves making some kind of remark during eating. This will typically be a complimentary comment about the food itself or about some pleasant thought that comes to the mind of the speaker, for example a comment about nice clothes or about how fat one's livestock are.”
So 5/10 for me. [Clap. Clap. (Clap)x3 Clap!]
Ina santin Viju Milk Drink, wallahi! (I don’t really like the way I sound saying that, so I’m reverting back to English, thank you): I’m really enjoying Viju Milk Drink, I’m telling you!
I thought about switching to another milky product, as I was finally getting tired of Viju (I like the apple and strawberry flavours, but hardly ever find the strawberry flavour, and therefore stick to apple only :-( ).
Then yesterday I discovered their blackcurrant & apple, as well as pineapple & apple flavours.
De-lightful! So, so delightful!
I just drank them this morning, as I had to patiently wait for PHCN to bestow us with light to cool the fridges. I especially love the Blackcurrant flavour). Creamier, more delicious. Oh my goodness, Viju is making me dance! It’s one-fifth the price of Fristi (another of my santi-able something-somethings), so I’m even happier.
Viju Company, you have an ardent consumer! (Maybe I should write them… or maybe not). When they see their delightful, creamy products disappearing from shelves, they’ll know…
… that we, the great society of Viju-lovers, are absolutely appreciative!
P.S: I wanted to blog about the uselessness of worry, (with case-scenarios of situations being even worse than you were worried about), but Viju Milk swept me away.
I also wanted to blog about my upcoming trip to Benin City, but… Viju Milk swept me away!
I’m trying to listen intently to what my big sis is telling me, but guess what? I’m writing about Viju milk. Aren’t I-
1. So filled with santi?
2. A good Viju PR person?
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Friday was my most eventful day, but lemme run through the week first:
Sunday- Haka Rayuwa
“Haka rayuwa (that’s how life is)” he said. It was true; the man had just died. Just like that. At the mosque, hale and hearty by 2pm. Dead by 4pm. No accident, just death… like that. The words repeated themselves in my head. Haka rayuwa. So sad. There’s something about languages other than English- they make things seem more real- clearer and sometimes sadder. They traveled on Sunday to condole with his family.
I was home alone for the most part, as the two people staying with us were out for most of the day. No light, so I made a good do with Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Man Died’. Very interesting book. Its main catchphrase is, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” So unfortunately, most of us are dying.
Monday to Wednesday- Répété
I was staring into one pot or the other, making red stew and imitation-edi kang ikong (I say ‘imitation’ because it didn’t have all those exotic meats- periwinkles, snails, rabbits, goats… Ok, moving on!) My parents had come back on Tuesday, but I was still very much alone with my thoughts for most of the day (and that’s not usually a good thing). Then I exploded on Wednesday afternoon- a hot shower of tears. (It’s in your best interest that I spare you the nyama-nyama details; I was just overwhelmed by the ratio of all the things I was not doing to the things I was doing). I didn’t have a headache, but in a minute, I overdosed on my headache tabs- in a stupid bid to “see what would happen”.
Thursday- Menene Haka?
Why was everyone giving me so much space? Was it because I looked so defeated? Or was it because of my dehydrated answers to all questions? I just didn’t want to do anything productive.
Friday- What a Day!
I thought that going to the studio would make me feel better, and it did.
Initially the heat was getting to me. I changed location twice. I was forcing myself to write a script on the need for a local zeolite production plant (one of my more serious script ideas). I was interrupted by someone who wanted to see a VIP who’d just graced the studio.
He looked about, then asked one of the guys seated in the office what he was waiting for.
“Oh, I sing. I’m waiting for the sound engineer.”
“Really? Sing a song for me.” He said, waiting patiently.
The guy stood and began to sing, but was quickly interrupted.
He sang higher.
His voice broke. We all chuckled.
“You have a good… no, average voice… let me not deceive you” he said thoughtfully. “But I think you can make it. Do you smoke?”
“No,” the guy quickly said, wondering why he asked.
“Do you like women?”
“Why not?! Are you normal? I like women. I tour the continent with up to fifty of them”
General laughter then.
“I understand, but I don’t like women,” the guy asserted. “Not that I don’t like them, but I don’t like them.”
“Okay. I’m just asking ‘cuz I don’t want you to be a problem to my girls. They are really beautiful, so you might get confused. Do you drink?”
“Good, ‘cuz a first-class performer is like an athlete. You need to be in your best condition. Who can vouch for you?”
“Uhm… my church. I play the keyboard there”
“Excuse me, you only play there. I’m looking for someone who knows you. And, by the way, do you have an international passport?”
“No Sir” (The level of awe in the room increased very noticeably).
“Start working on one. This may be the day of grace for you,” he said feelingly to the the guy.
“Erm, excuse me Sir,” another guy in dark shades who has been sitting quietly throughout pipes up. He leans forward. “I think I can be a good entertainer too”
“Let’s hear you then”
He began a slow R&B number, but was sharply interrupted.
“Stand up, my friend” the man ordered coolly. “I’m not your equal. Remove those glasses. Nigerians! That’s your problem. You want to be treated like stars when you’ve not made it. And sing an African song. Sing like a ‘bushman’! Nobody will respect you when you imitate the Westerners-”
[Okay, so I’m not about to transcribe the entire 30-something minute conversation. I’d love to, but I’m a bit preoccupied. You’ll find out why later on]
He taught them six beautiful African songs from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, other countries I cannot recall at the moment. His voice was so deep and impressive. He even taught them to sing like an 80-year old African. It was really cool.
“Here’s my card,” he said, fishing two out from an impressive cardholder. “Meet me at my studio by 2pm tomorrow. I love your voices. Today may be your day of grace.”
The guys were so happy. I wished I could sing too. (He had asked at some point if I sang or danced. I said no.
“I write scripts”
“Mm?” he said, interested.
“Em, I mean I’m learning,” I amended. He laughed heartily.
“I would have told you to write me a script and I’d pay you tomorrow.”
Yeah well, I’m just learning. There’s no point lying about it. Kurungus.
The interesting audition was over, and as he walked out with the two nouveau-entertainers, I was hoping he’d talk to me. I waited with bated breath.
He turned to me and said, “You look like the serious type…” [Come on! Why am I always looking like the serious type?! I’m certain it’s not the glasses because I don’t wear glasses. I don’t frown unless I’m really concentrating on a task, so what is it? Maybe I have to braid my hair in multi colours, and clap my hands as I giggle ever so often. Maybe…]
“Tell me, where are you schooling?”
I told him I was a pocket graduate (you know, like a Pocket Hercules - small, but mighty? Good), and he invited me to join in his upcoming awareness programme. I wasn’t really thrilled by that, but I was about to become even more un-thrilled.
When he left, the ‘olda boys’ began to laugh. (I call them ‘olda boys’ because they have more experience than most of us. They believe they are the street-smart ones. I dunno about that, as I’m still new).
“That guy will start paying for these his so-called auditions O!”
“The guy is just messing with those guys’ heads!” Another said.
The summary of it: The man, popular indeed, uses people till their eyes start to shine with anger. His pay is crappy, and why is it that his so-called entertainers aren’t popular? The man goes from studio to studio doing the same thing, because he’s always looking for new, gullible people. Like many talkatives and name-droppers, he talks, but does not deliver. Chai.
I was still thinking about him when the clouds became darker. I needed to get some things from the market (and besides I wasn’t doing anything at the studio anymore), so I excused myself and went shopping.
And now, onto an unexpected turn of events…
[I texted a condensed version of the next events to a new friend who has a big, sympathetic heart, and in no time we were conversing about unrelated, fun issues. Thank you!]
The second rain in Jos. Praise God, the heat is over.
I’m so glad I live in Jos. I love the weather. And I love my home- there are always people around, even if the siblings aren’t.
God is good.
The second rain in Jos. Two words: VERY HEAVY.
I’m stuck in a busy place called Rwang Pam Street. I’ve taken shelter at different spots- under a Mai Sha’i (Tea) shed, a utilities shop, and a cd shop.
I’m cold and wet, thinking about my two new gorgeous pairs of shoes, a hot bath, food, blogger, which of my few stylish clothes to wear to a wedding tomorrow, my new shoes encore.
Long minutes crawl. The rain subsides only to increase again and again. Finally, I ‘bone’ and hail a bike. I can’t wait to be home sweet home. My eyes are stinging with the rainwater. I’m tired of telling the biker not to rush. My head is pounding now.
At last, home!
I let myself in, glance at my muddy shoes and decide to go through the backdoor. I’m walking to the back when a familiar, relieved voice says “No, no. Come this way… Allah yana kawo ku da da-daya” (God is bringing you people one-by-one). I wonder why Mama says this, but not for long. My eyes behold a most unwelcome sight.
“What happened?” I ask, getting annoyed pointlessly.
“What does it look like?” she replies amusedly. It’s a ‘snappy answer to a stupid question,’ and I don’t find it amusing. I don't stare at the scene before me for very long. It is unbearable. A scene I have never seen before. She and the two people staying with us are looking at me curiously as I take everything in. How is Miss Volatile doing? Not very good.
Mops. Brooms. Buckets. Pails. DISORDER!
The ground floor has been completely flooded. Com-pletely. Buckets of water distributed everywhere. Ohoho no.
The second rain in Jos. Praise God, the scarcity of water is over. People will not have to look beyond their roofs and wells for water.
I’m so happy; rainy season at last! Inconvenient sometimes, but a blessing always. Blessings ranging from maize and large vegetables, to coolness and good conversation.
I could have been greeted by a crowd standing around a burned-down house, but I wasn’t
I could have come home to see my mother slumped, motionless on the floor
(after all, haka rayuwa), but I didn’t
Instead I came home to a flooded house. Me kuma? Yes, the carpet is messed up, some appliances are condemned, the house will smell like a rat soaked in Grignard reagent*
God is good…
…God is very good!
*I dunno what that smells like. It just sounded appropriate.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Two weeks ago, I was at a video production workshop hosted by Media Village, the video production wing of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and it-was-amazing!!
I began to think, “What duz this mean? That my 5 plus years in Uni. is a waste?? Or that I shouldn't have studied so hard to get the grades?? Or that I was being tempted/side-tracked by an impossible thing? A dream that was just not meant for me?? That I was about to risk my parents' disapproval?? ("So because you spent just one week in a glamorous field you are ready to throw away your hard work?")
“…There was no advertised job that was perfect for Paul’s calling: ‘Apostle to the Gentiles: $50,000 per annum.’ So Paul, not wishing to depend on wealthy Corinthian patrons, earned money by making tents. Doubtless he made his tents well because they too were made to the glory of God. But tentmaking was never the heart of Paul’s calling, it was only a part, as all of life is… [Work is something] that frees us to get that which is central. By contrast, whatever is the heart of our calling is work that fulfils us because it employs our deepest gifts."
"The difference is impossible to mistake. Goerge Foreman, flamboyant heavyweight champion of the world and a Baptist preacher (odd…) says, ‘Preaching is my calling. Boxing for me is only moonlighting in the same way Paul made tents.’”
“THE CALL: Finding and fulfilling the central purpose of your life”
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
“Our bodies are always, necessarily down to earth. They and their comportment are not completely under our control. We try to present them with appropriate dignity, but we cannot be human and always be graceful… On such occasions we do best to cultivate an affectionate sense of humour, of the sort signaled in St. Francis’ playful address of his body as “Brother Ass”. I do not know if angels have (or need) the capacity to laugh at themselves, but holy people must…”
An except from Rodney Clapp’s ‘Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels’
JS2: In the Classroom-
Prefect walks into class all good and angry, warning the naughty JS2 students about the hazards of gossiping, making noise in class, and generally being unserious:
“In fact, wake anybody that is sleeping!”
The terrified students whisper to their sleeping mates loudly, ‘Wake up! Senior Nat. said you should wake up!’ The loud whispers rouse all from slumber, except one. The girl sitting in front of the sleeping girl whispers louder. Nothing. She whispers louder still. Ahaps! You might as well be speaking pidgin to a stone.
Students seated next to her begin to whisper to the sleeping girl too- they don’t want to be punished for one girl’s misbehaviour- the prefect might be thinking that the girl is being rude. This equates to an even angrier prefect, which is equal to general punishment. Soon, the whole class is calling the girl’s name loudly. Nothing still. A-ah! Is there such a thing as the Spirit of Sleep? The girl in front now bangs on the girl’s table hard several times before Sleeping Junior puts up her head and attempts to hide the fact that she has been dozing by adopting the irritated I-was-praying attitude. The general class laughter INCLUDING the Prefect’s tells her that that trick is useless. Oh well, at least she tried.
JS2 still: In the Chapel-
“Whaaat?! Sleeping in the Chapel? You have no respect for God!”
“I was not sleeping!”
“Keep quiet! People saw you!”
Yes, people did. It would have been surprising otherwise, as I had slumped on the pew I was sitting on, resting my head on the back support. Funny thing was I didn’t think I was really asleep. I was hearing one or two things the Revivalist was saying. Didn’t that mean something? Obviously not. Sleeping ranked a little lower than making noise in Chapel, so I missed my classes the following day. I got a large portion of rubber grass to cut instead.
JS3: And the Place Went Silent…
“Pavement” in the girls’ dormitory was the No.1 reading spot. It was free from rats, and the cool Jos breeze kept one awake longer. When that didn’t help, a steady supply of gogo worked wonders. (Gogo = Gossip). It was JSC Examination time, and Intro. Tech was fast approaching, so we all gathered our buckets and pillows and assembled on Pavement, about 6 feet from the ground on one side, 3 feet on the other. I was facing the 6 ft. side, and this alone should have scared me, but I was drunk with sleep. I decided to give myself a 10 minute doze-break right there. Big, stupid mistake… I will forever have the scar on my upper lip.
I landed on the concrete with a big 80kg thud, and the strange thing was that I was still asleep (according to people). The girls were so stunned; some began to laugh… until I stood up.
When they began to jump down so fast I was surprised. What? I was vaguely conscious of the distinct taste and smell of blood… kind of magnetic, numb. Odd.
“Heiii! See her mouth!” one of them wailed.
What’s wrong with my mouth?!
Something, definitely. Some said they could see my teeth through the deep slit; some said the amount of blood was horrifying. Call me morbid, but I wanted to see for myself. They didn’t permit me to look at the mirror; I was sent to bed instead. Needless to say, I would be the topic of the gogo that night.
I was taken to the school nurse, she gave me injections. My mouth was so swollen I resembled a lasar rat. I got funny stares everytime. “Stop looking at my mouth!” I was always joking. I stopped eating in the dining hall. I was always asked what happened by staff and student alike. It was two weeks of drooling while sleeping and eating with the tiniest of spoons. (But all of the events that happened to the Queen of Embarrassing, are they not written in the Book of Replessness?)
SS3: You Would Have Thought…
I had just smiled at my longtime Crush. He smiled back, and I was so satisfied. I proceeded to wave to my other classmates as we parted ways that satisfying Wednesday evening. Life was good.
We had gathered for the weekly prayer meeting, and the speaker was one of my favorites, a tough, extremely talented Technical Drawing teacher. He was sure his students had water in their brains, but he was still a decent matter-of-fact man. He always went straight to the point – “I wonder whether we think the Gospel is too simple for us, that we have to add our own rules…” I still remember him saying.
As my Crush and I went in opposite directions, he to the boys’ side and I to the girls’ as the Chapel seating arrangement dictated, I felt that the prayer meeting was going to be inspiring. I noted that a good number of junior boys were seated on the last two rows of our side. (This was only tolerated because there was no space on the boys’ side). I and three of my fellow prefect girls decided to join them. They created space for us with so much reverence. I like that, Dictator Me thought. Time elapsed. TD teacher was still expounding. I got “sleepier and sleepier”. I put my head on my lap and snoozed. A sterling example of prefectship indeed. I must have gone into REM sleep, cuz the next thing I knew was I was sliding off the pew in terribly slow motion- I couldn’t help it. My head connected to the floor, kwos. Imagine a Muslim prayer stance- head on the ground, rear-end up.
My fellow prefect girls gasped. Humiliation filled me fast. The junior boys giggled, then broke into full-blown laughter. Girls in front wondered what was wrong. They turned. Story was broadcast terribly fast. Boys - on the other side of the aisle – turned. My fellow prefect boys came over to see what the commotion was all about. Commotion in God’s House. They too, heard. My Crush. He too heard. He came over.
The humiliation was complete.
“What happened?” a pref. boy asked, concerned.
“I don’t know…” I managed. The little dignity I had left forbade me to run out of the Chapel. I turned to the boys and told them not to laugh mock-seriously. I then shrugged in what I hoped was a nonchalant manner.
During the closing worship song, one of my mates sitting many rows ahead came to me and whispered in my ear, “shey you know you have burnt your rep?” Yes, I know. Reputation was everything, and I mine was burnt to a crisp.
The next day, one of my teachers called me aside and asked me, “Were you so tired?” “How did you know?” I asked, horrified.
“I always know,” he replied, eyes twinkling. He walked away, leaving me glued to the spot. A repless prefect. Who would have thought?
University: 200 Level- NOT Eye Candy
“Wake up, let’s go and read now,” my friend and room mate pleaded. We had planned to read in the Lecture Hall that evening, as there was no light in our room. I decided to get some sound sleep before then (I was tired of the jolt of fear that coursed through me whenever I felt my head had bobbed off dolo-style in the Hall).
I groggily put on my clothes and we were off. We walked to the hall in silence. She was looking around for any available space when she noticed that the guys sitting by the door- about five of them- had stopped talking and had started staring at me… strangely. And more people were turning to stare. I was unaware, being somewhat irritable still. I was just standing at the door, waiting.
Well she turned to look too, and it was at this point that she understood. She gracefully walked back to me and whispered in my ear with the trace of laughter in her voice, “I want to tell you something. Outside.”
I humbly followed her out without a word.
“Oh I’m so sorry,” she began, erupting in kind laughter now.
“What?” I asked.
“You wore your shirt inside out”
“Oh,” I said. Is that all? It wasn’t a big deal.
Only that I was comic-relief to people in the hall that evening, standing morosely, with a shirt that had shoulder pads sticking out oddly, and hair that needed some combing. It just wansn’t... gangsta. Yes. I did it again.
So here I am, undisputed winner in the Most Embarrassing award category.
Signing out for now.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
For lack of concrete ideas for my Personal Saviour series, I regret to announce that I’ll be blogging about the benefits of cramming (reading and memorizing without understanding a thing) instead. (When one of my friends confided that she never shared her ideas with anyone until they were successful, and about how she ate up a piece of paper containing a plan immediately her sister read it, I thought out loud: “A-ah! That’s strange animal behaviour!” Well I wish I kept my mouth (or my fingers, in this case) to myself about this Personal Saviour series. I feel like all talk and no action).
Yes. I wish I exhibited strange animal behaviour rather than tail-between-the-legs animal behaviour. Ah well.
I fell sick a few days to my final exams. Malaria.
Naturally, I felt horrible because I felt weak and nauseous all of the time, and I considered all the precious time ticking away - I also had two projects to finish (actually the second one, a group design project, was contracted out-shame on us- but I still needed to understand it). And then there was one more test: Process Control.
The course was a prayer point for most of us, and here I was, the day before the test, lying on my bed and doing my best to sob quietly as my classmates were doing TDB (Till Day Break). The last time I felt so hopeless was in my SSI, before a Biology exam. I had passed the exam with flying colours, but would the miracle repeat itself? With Control?? There were new topics the lecturer covered, of which I was clueless. And it was Control. The test was to be in objective (OMR) format, and I liked OMR… but it was Control.
I hadn’t started taking any medication because I wanted to read, and felt that the drugs would hinder my brain from understanding the difference between a set-point change and a… erm… load change? I can’t remember. (I think this is a good time to mention that I crammed a little, so it’s in order that I cannot recall something I read barely two months ago, shebi?)
I struggled, and in the end, I didn’t read much for this dreaded 4 unit course. Test day came, and my friends and I slowly walked to the hall under the hot sun. The lecturer, a venerable Prof., was late, which was all the better for us. As people whipped out past questions, an exhausted me put my heavy head on the table and slept off. Some ten minutes before the man arrived. My friend woke me to look at the previous year’s past OMR question paper. As we looked through it, another girl joined us. And another.
“How do you solve this one?”
I managed to explain it, since it was a topic I was familiar with. This gave me a surge of confidence…
…till she asked about the next one.
“Ah, why are you guys stressing yourself?!” the first girl complained. The answer is B.
My mental mouth fell open. You mean people were cramming the options too? How unwise.
As if to confirm my thoughts, she proceeded, pointing:
“This one is A. This one is A also. This one is C…”
I stole a glance at the others. They were stunned too. Then we all laughed, and guess what happened next:
My friend said she knew the next question’s answer, but not necessarily the alphabet. Hmmm…
I now thought, “lemme give it a try too. They might change the option/type, but if I cram the answers…” and so we changed tactics. We devoted our remaining time to cramming the answers, period. Let the worst not happen.
He repeated the questions.
He didn’t even bother changing the option/type. Even the errors in the previous question papers were there. I believe my friend saved my academic life. There was no chance I could have solved all those questions in the time given. Cramming saved me. And I know… it’s not a thing to be proud of, but I’m glad I crammed nonetheless! This is the state of education in Nigeria, and FUT Minna is truly Nigerian in this respect. (Most of us operate this way:
Input = Output. (NO ACCUMULATION)).
Monday, January 14, 2008
I haven’t updated this blog for a while now, and for good reasons, like being quite busy with:
- keeping fit as I pound yam, sweep, cook…
- being confused about what to write (‘…should I write about my latest cooking disaster, or about how my sis discovered too late that she had packed a bagful of bambara nuts instead of the groundnuts she had fervently planned for? (That was so funny, by the way. I’m sure I’ll work it into one of my stories). I could even get more mundane by blogging about our new cat- it has four limbs and uses them well…’)
- all those dvds!
But then gradually I got a new idea for this blog; a fictional series titled ‘Personal Saviour’ which is about the three characters I introduced a while back- Sarah, Larai and Yetty. What’s new about them is their sharp focus on eternal issues like their relationship with Jesus Christ, and how He affects every detail of their lives - witnessing/evangelism, dealing with diverse people, staying sane, money matters… all of it.
I picked this idea for two main reasons. One: living with eternity in mind is what I’ve decided on, (special thanks to the Minna Navigators), and I think that experiencing it through my characters is going to help me:
focus- “THIS is what my life is about. It’s now in perspective.”
build confidence- “It’s not the end of my life if I don’t say the right things. What matters is learning from my mistakes and asking for forgiveness and direction. Bounce back like Yetty.”
have a sense of urgency.
I also expect that writing about this will be beneficial to people having similar challenges (two of my friends come to mind). Reason two: It gives my blog a sense of direction at last, and I can only get better. (Thank you again, Paul. I think it was Mark Twain that said he could live on compliments for weeks. I definitely get that).
So this is my update. I’m currently working on the first slice of PS, thinking about my characters as I write. I have a few weeks till my sister’s wedding, and (hopefully) NYSC, so it’s work and little play for me. Which reminds me, I was reading some short stories written by Mercedes Lackey, a popular science fiction writer, and in her introduction/prologue she said a good writer must write. A lot. In her words:
“…every minute that I wasn’t working [as a computer programmer] I was writing. I gave up hobbies, I stopped going to movies, I didn’t watch television; I wrote. Not less than five hours everyday, all day on Saturday and Sunday… [To become a writer,] You write. You write a great deal. You give up everything else so that you can concentrate on writing.”
Conclusion: I am not so speechless that I cannot say "wanda-ful” with awe!