test
Saturday, June 22, 2024
Home Blog Page 4

Where not to Vent

9
A broken heart. Drawing of a heart on a cracked wall. Broken relationships. Treason and betrayal. Past love. A quarrel.

While it was steaming hot, I fought the urge to jump on the bandwagon and air my thoughts on the Idibia family saga. On some days I convinced myself that ‘yada, yada, yada, if its public, its public, and everyone can comment freely’. On other days, I chose to wear the shoes of the concerned people, and this always left me speechless. Now there seems to be some peace and calm, and I am indeed happy and hopeful for the couple – so I’ll write.

This is not a gossip blog, and so I won’t be touching on the messy details that transpired, just one lesson I want to pull out in general, one lesson that topped the chat for me; you can be public in loving, appreciating, and celebrating your spouse, but never go public with your issues if you still want to be together – unlike the stock market, going public doesn’t bring your organization (marriage) any expansion (success/healing). Oh, am I saying suffer in silence? No! This is the essence of having a selection of likeminded, values & faith sharing, trustworthy friends, mentors, pastors or counsellors, and even parents/family.

‘…who you share it with makes all the difference.’

When conflict becomes so bad that you and your spouse cannot resolve it by yourselves and it is weighing you down, sharing it and getting sound counsel or help becomes important. But who you share it with makes all the difference. I’ll touch on 3 categories of people you don’t share your marital problems with, and the weird thing is that all of them are good people!

People who are naturally biased in your favor, and a good example in most cases are your parents and siblings. They love you, and even after you’re married when they must choose, they’ll choose you, and this doesn’t mean they don’t care about your spouse – they do. It’s just a natural conditioning. So, if your spouse has hurt you, reporting to your parent or siblings is not wise. I must say though that there are a few parents who cross the bar and beat the mark in that they are more interested in guarding and keeping your marriage, than being sentimental over you. Just know that these are very few.

‘Can they counsel from a place of understanding and empathy?’

Loose friends. What I mean by loose friends are people with whom you do not particularly share your faith and values with, but who may even be quite close to you – especially if they aren’t close friends with your spouse as well. Popular examples are your colleagues at work, past relationship partners, and unmarried friends. Reporting your marital problems to people in this category makes you vulnerable to manipulations and mistakes. Are they happy if you’re happily married? Do they nurse hidden affections for you? Can they counsel from a place of understanding and empathy? This category can be so tempting to reach out to, but you must resist resolutely.

‘It can leave you more battered and confused than the actual problem.’

Social Media – No way! Never way in fact! Don’t do it, they simply binge on your pain. They are the mixed multitude, sycophants & haters, bloggers & preachers (I dey this group o, but fear them), distant family members curious about your life, strangers & the mentally deranged (azzin ehn sick people everywhere o), your colleagues and your partner’s, in fact, the Pharisees and Sadducees too (all self-righteous folks) etc. There is so much worldly wisdom out there, and once you table your matter there, everyone with a smart phone can comment freely. It can leave you more battered and confused than the actual problem.

‘…a wall without cracks will keep the lizards outside’

There is a Yoruba proverb that says ‘bi ogiri o ba la enu, alangba o le wo ogiri”, meaning ‘a wall without cracks will keep the lizards outside’. Remember, who you reach out to can make all the difference. If you’re yet to be married, start to build the right support network you’ll need in marriage: get planted in a local church, submit to mentorship or tutelage that you can trust, invest in the right type friendships, and practice not venting on social media as an habit.

What are your thoughts? Please share them in the comment section, I look forward to reading them.

Hosting Swedes

18

Till date, I have had very minimal in-person interactions with non-Africans, SA on the other hand is familiar with many. Let me digress and tell you an almost funny joke; we were discussing an event he was supposed to attend and the likely flight itineraries, and he mentioned it would have to be a night flight. I argued that it was better he left in the morning. Next thing this bobo said (with a smug look) was “Babe, no be Pan-African flight, na intercontinental!” I just stared at him like “…oh yeah?” Very rude fellow. Let’s get back to today’s post.

On the first public holiday in October, we had a Swedish couple (Astrid & Marcus) visit us. Astrid is a colleague of SA, and Marcus is her husband. They arrived in Nigeria a few months earlier and were soon returning to their home country, hence the visit. Here is one of the ways SA and I differ; it is very unlikely that I have colleagues over at my house except I am having a party, but SA? Left to him we would have guests over, or people to visit, every weekend. We have both learnt to adjust and bend over for each other from time to time.

When he asked me if he could extend an invite to them, my first question to him was “kini mo ma se f’oyinbo?” – what would I cook for these white folks? I wouldn’t want them coughing on pepper or eating something they’d be uncomfortable with – just to be polite. It just felt like a stressful arrangement. Anyways, I said ‘yes’. I figured they’d be cool with crunchy fried plantain, omelets, fruits, juice, and cookies.

Our living room walls are decorated with picture frames of SA and I, I love them so much, but on this visit, I was particularly grateful for them. They set the mood and kicked off the conversation. Astrid and Marcus loved the pictures and went over each one for about quarter of an hour, asking questions on their feet, while SA did the honors proudly – its not easy to be married to a fine gal!

I was in the kitchen getting water and fruits when I heard Marcus ask SA ‘Can you show us around?’ In my mind I was like ‘wait up, whaaaat?!’ If this was Hollywood it would be normal, but here? It felt awkward. I was glad I wasn’t in SA’s shoes as I heard him say ‘…and this is the visitor’s toilet’ looooool! I knew the kitchen was up next and though I had some unclean dishes in the sink, I was rotfl hard at SA in my mind that I couldn’t be bothered. I mean it’s a regular 2-bedroom apartment not an antique storey building with portraits of 10 generations of ancestors decorating the hallway. Anyways, my guy finished the so-called tour – inside and outside, and they seemed to be having fun. I still hadn’t stopped laughing, and him and I still laughed hard later that night before we retired to sleep.

Being newly married can be overwhelming, but please while you focus on setting up your bedroom & kitchen, don’t ignore the living room. It is always helpful when there are several things to hit off a conversation or engage your guests with. It shouldn’t just be “welcome ma/sir, food is ready.” The Nigerian stress doesn’t naturally make us think about these little things, but please keep it in mind. An album, short video clips of your special events, a simple board game, some flowers (yes flowers), a pet. To take it a notch higher if you are the liberal sort, you can show them around; like your children’s nursery, if you are into such decorative things; your vegetable garden if you keep one, etc. However, do this with caution, Nigeria is not Europe, be careful of who you show around your home.

SA shared his version of how we met (a very warped version I must say – imagine him saying the first time he called me on the phone I was swooning in admiration! Emiiii Folafash!) I told them that was anything, but the truth and we had a good laugh.

Now unto food. I asked how adventurous they are with Nigerian cuisine, as I have been worried about what to make for dinner. They mentioned the things they’d tried which sounded more like fried rice repeatedly. They hadn’t had jollof and were open to trying that; so, we settled for Jollof and plantain.  Hmm… Jollof wey no get pepper, torh make we see as e go be.

We served them the meal, and next thing I knew they burst into their native language. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of that but when I saw them take one spoon and then two and then another, I felt at ease. We settled to eat with them, and Marcus mentioned that the first spoonful had felt super peppery, but subsequent ones felt just fine. They asked questions about what was in the food, how the rice was colored and creamy, what type of fish we topped it with and all that, and we responded cheerfully. They also shared how they met and got married and I realized how contrasting cultures can be. One thing sank deep for me; in a globalized world, there is absolutely no way we can rely on individual culture for sanity in relationships. There has to be something bigger, a higher standard to live by – and there is.

After the visit, we drove them home safely and returned. SA mentioned how Astrid had rubbed on an ointment on her legs and kept breaking out in sweats before the meal. I felt for her; mosquitoes and heat aren’t for everyone, lol! We also joked about Marcus’ pronunciation of Jollof as ‘yollof’. Sadly, we totally forgot to take pictures, so I don’t have pictures of them to share with you – sorry. I can imagine they had a couple of things they found weird, and unusual here as well, and that’s normal. We had fun, and despite my initial anxiety I totally enjoyed having them around.

Loving Through Growth

8

Recently, I have found myself closing my personal prayers with this line ‘…and Father, help me to love myself and him through our growth’.

Okay, before I plunge into what this piece is about, let me first apologize that it’s been over 2 weeks since you last read from me. Sighs! Being an 8 – 5er hasn’t been particularly easy in the last couple of weeks, so bear with me. Bear with me not just for the last two weeks, but for the fact that I can’t promise it won’t happen again (smug face). I hope you have been keeping well and safe, I have been.

So, you know how a new baby is born and the parents fuss over this child; this soft, pink, cooing bundle of amazement? It’s been plus or minus 40 weeks of expecting and finally the child is here! Their joy knows no bounds and they are taken by the child. They want to touch, feel, play, and just stare at the baby all day if they had the chance. In fact, and especially if it’s the first child, the parents don’t really want to share, they don’t want people touching or carrying their child too much, they don’t want you talking over the child’s face, they are just very possessive and protective of their little one, and rightly so. They love this child to the moon and back.

…the expressions start to change

As days progress into weeks, and weeks mount up into months, the expressions start to change. Imagine a child you’ve painfully breastfed on cracked nipples (if you don’t understand this just pass), stayed on your feet for over an hour trying to pacify, sang all the lullabies you know and composed some even. It’s now 4:00am and you’ve been awake since 1:00am, but this child would just not stop crying. Let’s look at another scenario, this baby pooped, you got her cleaned up, and as you donned on fresh diapers for her, she pooped some more. You tell her she’s going to have to stay in her mess for a bit because you are tired (more like you’re talking to yourself anyway) but she would have none of that, and she tells you this by wailing. Remember just how much you love this baby?

…growth isn’t easy on anyone, especially those who must watch and participate in the growth process

I’ve seen mother’s snap at their precious babies, ignore them while they cry relentlessly, or even give them a gentle spank out of frustration. It is still the baby they loved so much when she was brand new, but now she is growing, and growth has it’s discomforts. A child’s growth isn’t easy on anyone, especially the parents. Actually, growth isn’t easy on anyone, especially those who must watch and participate in the growth process.

A friend I love very dearly, was responding to a post I made of a pastor teaching on Marriage, and she said to me “This man should come na… Let me be pouring the knowledge God has given me!” I laughed out loud at that.

…no matter how prepared you feel you are for marriage; …being married can be quite humbling

In a short while, I have come to learn that no matter how prepared you feel you are for marriage; how many books, devotionals, conferences, and mentorships programs you have had, being married can be quite humbling. It is a new kind/phase of growth for both parties. How deeply you love each other wouldn’t shade off the inconveniences of your growth, and very subtly like the new mother, we can begin to express irritation, frustration and even resentment, despite loving each other. Like the new mother who is grateful for the fruit of her womb, you too are grateful for the blessing of a spouse, a life partner, and exclusive bestie, but you just can’t understand why they won’t remain that ‘princess lovely’ or ‘prince charming’ that they were on marriage day 1. Why wouldn’t the baby just remain that wrap of cuteness that they were as a one-day-old?

…consciously put love forward in your expressions

Marriage provokes growth, just like many other things do too. In truth it is one of its greatest benefits – this unique type of growth and advancement. However mismanaging growth or being unaware of it can damage any union. Both you and your spouse are growing, not even at the same pace and not in the same areas too. You must be aware and sensitive, learn patience and make it your dearest virtue, give the understanding you also want/need to receive, consciously put love forward in your expressions, and perhaps make an habit of using this line when you pray – ‘…Father, help me to love myself and her/him through our growth’.

Office Politics (Ep2): Stealing Work Credit

0
Group of unsuccessful business people and badly managed company

If you’ve ever done an amazing pitch, or dropped an amazing idea that turned out to be the talk of the company for at least half of the year, would you really be comfortable with another person taking the credit? That was my undoing sometime at work, we had this great Staff Forum coming, one of the bosses called me to ‘pick my brain’ on some office policies, I gave my clearly thought-out opinion to him, only for him to get to the larger gathering and own these ideas to himself, he didn’t give me any credit whatsoever. I won’t even lie, I was pained. Should I have gone around telling people that I owned that idea? –Pablo

I was a victim of sabotage and an open lie told against me. I took it so personally. In retrospect, I wish I had handled it better. Being a victim of work politics hurts, but don’t take it as a personal fight. Be professional irrespective. Focus on your work and start to prepare for the next move – Anonymous

Is it possible to grow up the ladder without playing dirty? Won’t you be cheated if you don’t react or in fact attack first?

Above are experiences shared by two of the respondents from the mini survey. In my previous post. I established that office politics is ubiquitous and is something everyone will likely face at some point(s) in their career journey. But is it possible to grow up the ladder without playing dirty? Won’t you be cheated if you don’t react or in fact attack first? Today we’ll look at one critical outplay of office politics: stealing work credit. It was one of the three elements that topped the chart in the survey, and I’ll share a few tips on how best to handle it. Disclaimer: I am not a career expert; my ideas, opinions, and suggestions here are based on my personal experiences and my observation of other people’s experiences within the corporate work circle.

work stress consists of four components; Workload (46%), People stress (28%), juggling work/personal life (20%), and job insecurity (6%)

Pablo’s situation is not uncommon and such things can really hurt, and if exposed to situations like this repeatedly it can have an adverse effect on one’s mental health. Sadly, this is what countless employees or working-class people deal with daily at work. In a 2006 survey conducted by ComPsych, an Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), it was shown that work stress consists of four components; Workload (46%), People stress (28%), juggling work/personal life (20%), and job insecurity (6%). Now this was a survey administered to American adults, and so in the typical African society and work structures, the figures might be distributed differently. Nonetheless, using this as an example we see clearly that people issues (which is where office politics is embedded) rates quite high.

“…don’t take it as a personal fight!”.

How you respond or react to office politics or negative workplace dynamics can either position you for success or worsen your reputation within the organization. I love the point shared by our anonymous responder – “…don’t take it as a personal fight!”. Imagine that you’re in a meeting where your teammate has just made a presentation that had at least 50% of your contribution in it, and she has portrayed the whole idea as hers, completely leaving you out of it. Your manager, other colleagues, and some senior management staff at that meeting are clapping and giving appreciative remarks to this colleague of yours, for a job that had both your collaborative efforts. You’re there quiet and seething with anger as this unfolds, and anyone who pays attention to your countenance can tell that you are visibly vexed. After the meeting, you do an email copying all present at the meeting and reporting how you participated in preparing the presentation and deserve to be credited for the job done.

The better way is not always the easier way, however it wins

Mistakes made:

  • It’s your word against your colleague’s, are the odds in your favor?
  • You’ve gone over your manager’s head and as such made an enemy for yourself
  • You’ve portrayed yourself as unprofessional and may be perceived as petty, jealous, and not a team player

The better way:

Please note that this is not always the easier way, nor does it give quickest results. However, it wins.

  • While in that meeting, you can give comments and contributions, referring to points in the presentation and using the ‘we’ pronoun very clearly. When questions are asked regarding the presentation, speak up and address them too. Act very naturally, not with resentment or in a move to prove a point.
  • After the meeting, and at a good time, raise your concern with this colleague. If her response is that she did not realize she had personalized the whole thing, have her make up for it by ensuring your manager knows it was teamwork.
  • If her response is negative, raise it with your manager. However, note that when reporting issues at work, you should do so without appearing as a complainer or bitter person, instead try to appear as someone who is concerned that such an attitude is not good for the team’s morale and for the firm at large. This buys your manager’s empathy and motivates him/her to act, much more than just ‘ranting’.

I hope you’ve found these few tips helpful. In my next post I will address two other elements: dealing with malicious work alliances & work sabotage. You can share your thoughts in the comment section, and if you wish to lend your voice as well, please fill in the survey here.  

Office Politics – Good or Bad?

0

…one’s perspective of office politics is largely determined by where they stand in its outplay.

Last week I started out to write on workplace politics and then I realized I was subconsciously arguing different sides in my mind – is office politics a good or a bad thing? This imaginary tussle between two FKs went on and on with neither side winning, and so I decided to sample people’s opinions and broaden my perspective beyond my own experiences. In all, I had eleven people who work within public and private institutions respond to a set of questions based on their unique experiences with office politics.

On whether office politics is good or bad, six people (the majority) decided that ‘it all depends’, two decided ‘it is bad’, one decided ‘It is good’ and one person had no idea. To be honest, I understood the diversity of opinions having worked with three organizations myself. I know clearly that one’s perspective of office politics is largely determined by where they stand in its outplay.

To an employee, nothing feels more important than having a sense of value and progression within an organization

This may appear as more suited for people walking career paths, the ones popularly referred to as ‘9 to 5ers’, the group to which I currently belong, but if you are a business owner, your organization is likely to have a better work culture and employee retention when you have an awareness of politics within the workplace. To an employee, nothing feels more important than having a sense of value and progression within an organization. It is sweet to celebrate someone’s promotion, but it is sweeter when you are the person being promoted. Also, we tend to feel that we had a good day when we get an appreciative remark or a rewarding smile from the boss, and so we will do everything we can to make this happen.

What are those elements that tip off the scale from doing genuine work to ‘playing politics’?

In certain industries, career progression is characterized by ‘cutthroat’ competition, the systems are deliberately designed this way to ensure that only the best talents are attracted, rewarded/promoted, and retained. So, where then does striving for advancement intersect with office politics? What are those elements that tip off the scale from doing genuine work to ‘playing politics’?

Nonetheless and sadly, I admit that office politics is not escapable.

Before we go further, I should state that I do not think that office politics is a good thing. If it were, we wouldn’t shy away from calling it by its name – office politics. I mean, why is it never hung on the beautiful reception walls of organization as one of Our Core Values? Why is the ‘ability to play politics’ never included as a required skill in job adverts? Nonetheless and sadly, I admit that office politics is not escapable. This does not mean I agree with the ‘play or be played’ mantra, no I don’t. Instead, I will be sharing tips that can keep you growing and thriving even in the face of office politics.

There are several elements of office politics, and experiences differ from one to another. In my next post, I will share more insights and draw points from the responses obtained in the mini survey conducted. If you want to add your voice, drop your thoughts in the comment section or use the survey, here is the link.

Honeymoon Series (Ep2): Planning my Honeymoon

11

Our similar interest and love for nature was a key determinant of where we chose for our honeymoon

SA wears many caps, but most people know him as an environmentalist. Back when we were just friends, one of our most memorable hangouts was at the Lagos Conservation Center. He loves nature and adventure, I love nature too, but I am only adventurous with food. Our similar interest and love for nature was a key determinant of where we chose for our honeymoon. A place with trees, hills, temperate weather, a quietness that lets us hear birds sing and crickets chirp, where there was native food, and only a few people. This was how we came up with Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River state.

Being financially meticulous should not be put aside until you’ve got multi-millions to spend

Next, we considered the option of going with a honeymoon tour firm or doing it all by ourselves. We contacted two organizations and by the time we did a service-price comparison we realized we were better off charting our own course. We drafted a plan that took us from Lagos to Calabar, Obudu Town, Obudu Mountain resort, Enugu and finally Abuja in 8 days, and we included this expenses in our wedding & post-wedding budget. Oh yes! we had a spreadsheet for this, and I think every intending couple should draw up a budget at least 3 months before their date. Being financially meticulous should not be put aside until you’ve got multi-millions to spend, whatever it is you plan to spend, and even if it is all but 2 days you can afford, draw a comprehensive budget for it. Also, working on a budget together, helps you prepare for family-finance-planning.

Flight tickets and hotel bills formed about 70% of our own expenses as most of the places we visited charged next to nothing for entry, and food was cheap. We were able to keep these expenses at the lowest possible rates by booking our flights way ahead of time and negotiating hotel rates – you’d be surprised at what is possible in the hospitality industry. If you are travelling only by road, these are some options you can consider:

i) Drive or have someone drive you, if you have a car of your own or one that you can use.

ii) Find out the cost of hiring a cab, negotiate and go for it

iii) Consider paying for the extra seats next to you in a commercial vehicle so that you and your partner can still enjoy some level of convenience.

We didn’t do any real shopping during this period because we had shopped for the things we needed in the many months and weeks that preceded our wedding; from clothing to household appliances. I recommend you do the same; the moment you have marital consent from the relevant & concerned parties, and a date in view, start to procure your household needs – this way you are under less pressure, and there is no chance of being too broke to live decently after your wedding.

Let’s get back to Cross River, that state has a large land area! Can you imagine a 7-hour road trip from Calabar to Obudu (within the same state)? For me this was the downside to the experience, it left me feeling very cranky – I found many things to be upset about, but SA didn’t seem to mind, guy was just happy to have his babe with him.

While in Calabar we visited the University of Calabar, the Marina Resort where we had grilled fish and palm-wine, and an old palace where I wasn’t allowed in because I was wearing trousers (with this combination of palm-wine and trousers, let’s just hope Mummy Adebote isn’t here).

We ate the popular Ekpang Nkukwo and Afang soup, from a restaurant called E3 – if ever you’re in Calabar city please eat at E3 or order from them. It was fantastic, very affordable, and just one plate of food was fine for us both. Also, we were lucky in that the first bolt driver we ordered became our tour guide for the 2 days we spent exploring the city. He lectures at the University of Calabar and gives rides in his spare time, he did an amazing job with us.


Reflecting on our stay at Obudu, I’ll say SA had the most fun – certain features he termed adventurous were torturous for me (oh boy, see high BP). I had my heart in my mouth throughout the 10minute drive from the gate to the government residential area uphill. The two-way tarred road was narrowly carved along the mountain sides with sharp curves, I did not understand how such a narrow road could take two vehicles side by side without one falling off the cliff, so it was comforting that on the drive up we were not on the edge.

Tree branches and boulders loomed above the length of the road and you can imagine my chagrin when the driver mentioned that these boulders usually fell onto the road in stormy weathers. Omooo! I begin dey pray – which kind wahala be this one? The weather wasn’t stormy, but what if there was one outcrop that had been weakened from a storm?

If you ‘get mind’ Obudu, Mountain Resort is still a cool place for a vacation in Nigeria

SA? My guy was having the time of his life and urging the driver to speed up on top. We finally got to the reception and the beauty that surrounded us as we alighted from this cab was overwhelming. You know how they say a mother forgets the pain of labor the moment the baby is wrapped in her arms? That was it, I forgot my emotional travail from moments before; the view of mountains and valleys all around, the coolness and mist by mid-day, it felt like a city carved inside a forest. If you ‘get mind’ Obudu Mountain Resort is still a cool place for a vacation in Nigeria.

SA and I couldn’t share our love story without mentioning the NCCF state family house in Enugu

Declan was our tour guide here; he took us to different locations in the resort on a motorcycle. The canopy walk, The Grotto – a waterfall, African huts, the Cameroonian border (we did not reach the actual location because of an extreme weather – dense mist, you couldn’t tell if someone was standing just in front of you), the presidential villa, high spots from where we could see the former cattle ranch area. Breakfast was complimentary, so we had lunch at the main restaurant and dinner with the locals. It was at the restaurant that I had Ofe Nsala (white soup) for the first time.

We did a 4-hour drive from Obudu to Enugu on the 6th day. SA and I couldn’t share our love story without mentioning the NCCF state family house in Enugu. Even though we never physically met there, the house was significant to us both and to our union in the same way. So, we visited the youth corps members in the house and it was both nostalgic and fun.

those 8 days we spent together, just loving each other, made settling in so much easier

On the 8th day, we flew home. This happened to be my first time in Abuja, my first time in the city that was now to be my ‘base’. It was very emotional for me, and I drew strength and comfort from the assuring smile plastered on SA’s face as we made our way home from the airport. Honestly, coming home straightaway from our wedding would have been a little hard on me. Those 8 days we spent together, just loving each other, made settling in so much easier. Now you understand my campaign for honeymooning – hehehhehe!

Honeymoon Series (Ep1): Honeymoon is not Overrated

4

 

Since I got married a few friends have reached out to me to give them insight on suitable locations for a honeymoon. I am not quite sure if it’s because I recently got married, or because they assume I had an amazing honeymoon – After all I shared lovely pictures. If the latter were the case, they wouldn’t be far from the truth.

I am a strong believer in the honeymoon concept, oh yes, that short period of 3 days, one week or more where newlyweds leave everyone and everything behind, visit someplace different and spend time bonding and discovering each other anew is not overrated nor is it about to be.

life hits newlyweds with its demands the moment they dance out of that reception hall

I have been married for 6 months, and to be honest life hits newlyweds with its demands the moment they dance out of that reception hall. In fact, for some folks, it starts to hit during the ceremony. Wait up, this isn’t as bad as it seems, look at it this way, you were doing life considerably well before the joy of getting married showed up, after the wedding frenzy, you’ll have a partner to continue doing life with – on the scores chart, that is You = 2, life = 1.

Ordinarily you and your spouse are (or should be) better positioned to achieve more and surmount daily huddles than when you were single. So, you see, this statement “life hits newlyweds with its demands the moment they dance out of that reception hall” is not a worrisome one.

Honeymoon is your own priority, it is not the priority of your family, friends & wedding vendors

In subsequent posts I will be sharing a whole lot about my wedding planning phase, and you will agree even more that planning a wedding, particularly in Nigeria, is no easy feat. You’ll need a pause, a break right after it is all done, to relax and breathe – stress free. You may be thinking – “see FK, owo lo fin do something o!” I totally agree.

You cannot make a honeymoon happen without money, so my golden counsel is – prioritize your honeymoon! Your parents want you to spend money on this, your in-laws want you to spend extra money on that, sure if you can afford it go for it, but if not, only spend after you have set aside a budget for your honeymoon. Honeymoon is your own priority, it is not the priority of your family, friends & wedding vendors.

What you get from a honeymoon that you don’t get from taking a break in your own apartment includes, but is not limited to;

i) Alone Time: when no one knows where you are, or cannot easily reach where you are, unwanted disturbance and interference is avoided. People have good intentions, they’ll come knocking at your door to greet the new wife, if you are Yoruba in particular – won ma fi kiki pa yin – lol! But when you are not accessible, you’ll have some peace and quiet.

ii) Room Service: Even if all you can afford is a cheap hotel for 3 days, you deserve to be taken care of. Someone to make the bed, bring cooked meals, do laundry, and change the toiletries – please you and your partner should give yourself this treat so you can focus on just being with each other.

It may feel like fantasy at the time, but this short period gives you your first memories as a couple and they are real

iii) Romantic Atmosphere: if like me, you and your partner are getting to know yourselves sexually for the first time, being somewhere cozy and vacation-like positions you mentally and emotionally to enjoy and flow better into this.

iv) A positive tone for your new life: It may feel like fantasy at the time, but this short period gives you your first memories as a couple and they are real. The pictures, the moments with nothing on your mind but your spouse, the meals, the walks, the drives, the site seeing, the adventure, it all just gives you a healthy place to start from.

I’ve got a few more posts coming on this and if there are specific areas you’ll like to read about, do post in the comment section, or feel free to contact me directly. You can also share your thoughts, I’ll love to read them.

Being the Supportive Wife of an Arsenal Fan

4

Let’s start with a disclaimer – I know only little about football, and when I say little, I mean that I know Christiano Ronaldo has four children, Lionel Messi is from Argentina, there is something called ‘the table’– little enough you’ll agree? Anyways, I have always loved the thrill and excitement in the eyes and voices of people who love football, and the contagious frenzy in the air during football seasons. Strangely most of my soccer loving friends enjoyed discussing the sport with me. It seems football lovers enjoy showing & sharing their knowledge, and here I was ever ready with questions.

He wasn’t unlike other Arsenal fans I knew – blatantly unbothered, forever hopeful whilst keeping expectations at the barest minimum.

When my husband and I first became friends, it was one of those football seasons, and even though he isn’t exactly a die-hard football lover, he only follows up on twitter and newsfeeds, we talked about the matches and outcomes most evenings. I got to know he is an Arsenal fan, and I would tease him, taunt him and express sarcasm-laden comfort whenever his team got their usual loss. He wasn’t unlike other Arsenal fans I knew – blatantly unbothered, forever hopeful whilst keeping expectations at the barest minimum.

I mean as a ‘good’ wife, the right thing would be to support his team

Well, being casual friends with one, and wife to one, are quite different dynamics and require different skill sets. I mean as a ‘good’ wife, the right thing would be to support his team – especially since I am not a fan of any other football club, share his hope for wins, show concern when Arsenal sits at spot 20 on the table, and join him to criticize the coach or player that was messing up. Omooo! Good wife ko, good wife ni! Theheheehhehe! I’ll be like – “babe, where is Arsenal on this table?” He’ll say “number 20”, and I’ll respond “oh that’s something yeah? Bruaahahahahahah!” Our most recent conversation was on relegation: “Babe, what does relegation mean?” “when a team finishes the season at the bottom of the table and…” “Hmm… that sounds like Arsenal” “No ma – Arsenal has never entered relegation” “I see – I wonder why I thought so. Bruaahahahahah!”

Several years back, Arsenal had just won a match and surprised many folks. By morning the next day, I saw a meme of an elephant atop a tall tree, the text read: “Arsenal on top of the EPL table is like an elephant on top of a tree. Nobody knows how it got there, but everybody knows it will fall”. This still ranks as the most savage attack on the Arsenal football club I have ever seen. I mean, have some mercy please – some people’s husbands love that club!

I am the supportive wife of an Arsenal fan

Sighs, how does anyone deal with the constant heartbreak? It is such a toxic relationship. Anyways, like the title of this post suggests – I am the supportive wife of an Arsenal fan; I’ll make my dear SA, some Amala and Ewedu wey no dey disappoint, and then laugh some more!

Interesting Conversation with a Muslim Woman

9

I am pining to share my entire experience and tell you about this city built on hills, with trees as many as its people

I took a trip to Kigali, Rwanda – the city of a thousand hills! A work trip in August, and it happened to be my second trip to East Africa. Unlike the first, I had a whole week to work and explore the city. I am pining to share my entire experience and tell you about this city built on hills, with trees as many as its people – trees that stood tall demarcating roads and intertwined with buildings, towering over them as though they were guardian angels watching over entire neighborhoods. But no, today isn’t about the city of Kigali, this will come I promise, and with many pictures in fact. Instead, I will tell you about an interesting conversation I had with a Muslim woman on some doctrines of Islam.

She is nothing like the ‘civil servant’ you know

As a little bit of background on this woman, she happened to be participating in the training my firm was organizing at Kigali, but more so she is a senior technical staff of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, Nigeria. She is nothing like the ‘civil servant’ you know – she is highly knowledgeable, widely travelled, respectable and speaks with a tone that commands the ears of everyone in a room. Also, she is one of those women who look so beautiful draped in colorful scarfs around their head and shoulders, with long flowing gowns to match.

On a visit to a local market in Kigali, she insisted I sit by her in the long bus conveying us. I love to ride in quietness, no radio, music, or gist, just some peace and quiet, and so I had mixed feelings about this. There would be that need to start a conversation or actively pay attention to anything she wished to talk about.

I tried to inject as much politeness as possible into my queries, as I knew this was a sensitive thing to discuss with a strong believer of Islam.

We passed by a mosque and she pointed at the minaret, stating that it was the first mosque she was seeing since our arrival. A question popped in my head, and I asked – Shouldn’t there be four minarets? Four minarets representing the four pillars of Islam. She took her time to answer; “There mustn’t be four minarets as they are simply a means to make prayer calls and one minaret can achieve that. Also, there are five pillars and not four. Even as she corrected my ignorance, she seemed rather amused about my interest. She went on to explain the five pillars and we exchanged questions and answers for the next couple of minutes. While speaking about one of the pillars, she touched on how it was wrong to think or say that Islam relegates its women. This point sparked fresh interest in me, and I asked her – how can you say that ma, when even in the mosque – your house of prayer, women are positioned at the back, far behind, they do not sit with men, but behind them. Doesn’t this validate the perspectives that Islam propagates inequality against its women? I tried to inject as much politeness as possible into my queries, as I knew this was a sensitive thing to discuss with a strong believer of Islam.

“What picture comes to your mind when you think of a Muslim man praying, with a woman in his front also praying – this woman being a very ‘endowed’ woman?”

Gracefully she answered me – “Now Folake, would you agree with me that men are very easily affected by what they see – sexually?” I nodded, that was sort of a fact. She went on “Are you aware of how the Muslim prays?” Again, I nodded, as a smile crept up my cheek, I was starting to see where she was going with that.” “What picture comes to your mind when you think of a Muslim man praying, with a woman in his front also praying – this woman being a very ‘endowed’ woman?” We stared at each other for brief seconds and then laughed. “That’s it Folake, certain doctrines are put in place for our own preservation and help, not to reduce us, or make us less than we are created to be, and the design of who sits where in the mosque is just one of such.”

Oh but wait a minute, what about Polygamy?!

I thought of how I had never seen this point of view as the clip she had created played back over and over in my mind – it really could be a problem. It dawned on me that many of us are hasty to criticize things we do not understand, and we hastily judge unfamiliar systems without asking questions for clarity. Oh but wait a minute, what about Polygamy?! Ok fine, I get this part of preventing women’s butts from having a field day in front of men at a time when everyone should be focused on prayers, but what about polygamy? Isn’t this a spite to womanhood? Guess what, we raised it at the same time! It was as though she read my mind. Oh yes she went on and gave me an amazing explanation of the need for this (rolls eyes), but on this one I did not understand the perspective.

My Darling Ifeyinwa

7

I attended two secondary schools and lived in 3 different hostels from 2003 – 2009. The main reason for these transfers was senior girls – they were a terror, but that is a conversation for another day.

Everything about the place made me feel it was designed with the sole intent to make its students suffer

When I resumed Junior secondary school at Lagos State Model College Igbokuta (LSMCI) for the 2003/04 session as a boarding house student, I couldn’t count more up to three things that I liked about the school. It felt like being sentenced to a life of daily struggles and hard labor. Everything about the place made me feel it was designed with the sole intent to make its students suffer. From the landscape to the infrastructure and then the teachers, everything was a nightmare – at least from the eyes of an 11 year old who had never been away from home for so long. The gate, administrative area, and assembly ground were uphill, while the hostels were way down. The water facilities and sick bay were positioned several kilometers away from students’ residence, the dining benches were totally uncomfortable, and let’s not talk about the food – only Saturday’s beans and hot bread was something to write home about.

Now to the senior girls, oh Lord! They were the reason I was withdrawn from the school by my father after only one year. They were slave drivers and trust me we had many profane names for them back then. Us junior girls were at their mercy every day, and they honestly didn’t know what mercy meant. On top of that I wasn’t even pretty as a JSS1 girl, so I had no chance at hooking an influential School Mother to rely on for immunity. But again, today is not the day, this post is about my darling Ify.

It was amid this life, that I found my first best-friend – or we found each other. Our relationship started like an explosion…

It was amid this life, that I found my first best-friend – or we found each other. Our relationship started like an explosion, it caught us both unawares and it blossomed into the most sisterly and perfect kind of friendship you can imagine for 11-year-olds.  We brought comfort to each other and made surviving the harsh realities of that school a possibility. We were inseparable – plus we looked alike though she was slightly taller. We shared each other’s bed and provisions and helped each other with chores. What was hers was mine and what was mine was hers (down to enemies). Our room had between 15 – 20 of us living in it, so trust me, everyone was bound to have beef with someone else at some point.  I knew all about her family and she mine. With Ify, life was good and LSMCI tolerable. When we got flogged on the bathing yard (stark naked and clad in soap lather) with other fellow late bathers, we’d cry our eyes out together and then laugh hard together. She was catholic, always had her rosary draped on her neck even while sleeping, yet we prayed my way every time we prayed. Something about home troubled her, something she didn’t quite understand and so I never did.

This thing, whatever it was ended up breaking my heart. Ify did not show up for 3rd term, and just like we started, we ended – no warnings, no heads up! I had no way of contacting her. Throughout this horrible 3rd term, I kept falling in and out of malaria & typhoid bouts. I hated the school, and I knew I wasn’t coming back – I just knew it.

when I finally registered on Facebook, I searched out Ify so often that it felt like an obsession. I wanted to find her, I wondered if she still thought of me…

Years later, when I finally registered on Facebook, I searched out Ify so often that it felt like an obsession. I wanted to find her, I wondered if she still thought of me, but she was not there, she was nowhere. Sometime later, I found out Ify died.

My darling Ify, I still know your face.