Thursday, December 03, 2009

What’s The Value Of A Woman's Worth: The Tiger Woods Saga!

Everyone is quick to jump and ask that we cut off his balls for cheating! I don't for one second agree that what he did was right. You don't disrespect and humiliate your wife and the mother of your children like that. That is just not on. A man who cheats, lies and once that trust is gone; hell, it takes the rest of your life to make up for it. Zip up Tiger!

For the men, it is wrong that we have come so far yet we haven't learnt our lessons. So, he is Tiger on the golf course and a tiger with women...ra, ra, he is not the first and sure won't be the last. I'm not trying to make light of the situation but we all know it’s the truth. Men cheat and women cheat, it has been that way since time in memorial and hell, it will be like that for as long as we as individuals keep disrespecting ourselves and others by dipping it low with other people’s husband and wives.

Women all over are hissing and cursing, calling him names like they are the ones married to him? You all better sit tight and look after your own husbands/the men you are dating. Shine your eyes and learn. Lay off the Tiger and stop generalising that all men are dogs. There are good men, I know some.

Men are saying, he is only human, lousy excuse. Of course we know he is human, what else could he be? Have you heard of cheating animals? Even if you have, are those animals accountable to each other, their offspring’s or anyone else? Let's take into account there are kids in the middle of this saga! And please, don’t get me started on the media, who are having way too much fun with the fact that the purest man they all look up just fell.

So, who is at fault? Tiger Woods, the tiger on the golf course and in the bedroom department, well some say he was not all that or the lousy women who are coming out of the shit hole they have been hiding while secretly sucking and licking the tiger? They are all at fault and should all take responsibility for their actions. That’s what adults do right?

I am really tired of these women that come out and tell all because they feel hard done-by. Suck it up! You knew he was married when you started sucking on him. Silly!

Oh, he came after me! You have legs, a head on your shoulders and eyes to see, why didn't you run? How can you know a man is married and still open your legs to him? I may sound naive but we women need to take responsibility for ourselves and the part we play in breaking homes. It takes two. A man is married, with kids and you are still servicing him. Playing second best, tells me you don't know your own worth and are happy to be second best, getting second rate phone calls, second rate love, second rate sex and quickies and when he is done with you, gets into bed with his number one woman, his wife. Getting two for the price of one because you forgot that you are so good and can have your own man and need not share with another woman.

So, he has kids and you too dream of having his baby, are you going to give birth to Jesus? Because no way in hell will your child overtake his first child. Stop dreaming that having his child is the seal of approval you need to confirm he loves you.

We are all responsible for our actions. How can a grown woman say he seduced her? Oh shut your fri**ing mouth and take responsibility. You should be ashamed that you gained fame for being known as a man’s mistress, becoming the postal girl for women who cheat and break homes. To make things worse, you sell your story for money. Shame on you. With all due respect, what difference is there between you and a prostitute because you are offerring a service and making money.

The Tiger needs to stop being pathetic, zip up his trousers and only get down with his wife. Maybe when we start respecting ourselves as women and start respecting the space and home of our fellow women and sisters; maybe fewer homes will be destroyed.

Susan L. Taylor, one of my favourite women in the world says it best when she said, “Joining a man in disrespecting another woman by having an affair with him undermines our dignity and integrity. Our wholeness and happiness depend on right choices and right behaviour. We have truly lost the key to our own home when we choose a lover who must slip away in the middle of the night or when we settle for filling a gap in a man’s broken marriage. We can’t build a happy life on someone else’s misery. Karma is real: What goes around does, indeed, comes around.”

Image from Google.
Susan L Taylor Quote from the book, 'All About Love: Favourite Selections From In The Spirit On Living Fearlessly'

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lebogang Mashile: The South African Soul With A Rhythm

People often talk about the rhythm of life and the rhythm of the soul. I have heard the expression that we all have a rhythm for what we do, hence, the reason why we do it effortlessly. For example, TD Jakes once asked the question; do you have the rhythm of love? Do you have the rhythm of a wife? Do you have the rhythm of a mother? It made sense to me because not every woman is wired to be a wife or a mother. If you are a wife, you have the rhythm to be a wife to your husband and be a mother to the children that come from your love and still have time to nurture your home, make love to your man, take care of the kids, cook, clean, get them ready for school and on your way out the door, you remember to kiss your man. Now, rhythm in marriage is not one sided. It takes two and the man must have rhythm too.

My focus right now is not marriage; I was setting the scene up for you. You like that? Now stay with me.

I have heard poets and I have heard poets but Lebogang Mashile blew me away at the Southbank recently when she came down to London with the ‘Beyond Words’ team of poets. Wow! What a night it was. At 30, she had the audience fixated as they listened to her every word and move.

Don’t try to imagine this is one big lady, taller than everyone in the room and bigger than everybody to the contrary; she is of average height, built the way a woman like her should be built and she is a pretty lady with a funny American accent. She was born in the US during the Apartheid years but found her voice when she went back to South Africa over 14 years ago.

Lebo left university while she was reading Law because she just realised she didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore and she was already writing.

I have sat down with Lebo to talk and she reached and touched my soul. The words that come out of Lebo Mashile are the words of a woman who has lived and is now the source of wisdom for her children, grand-children and great-grand children. Lebo Mashile is a woman of Wisdom and I dare add great wisdom. One of the most intelligent people I have met lately and she knows what she is talking about, from politics to everyday life, fashion to the film world, she knows her stuff.

Lebo delivered poetry with rhythm. She spoke from her heart and danced to her words. She created music with her words; her voice was all the instruments she needed. If you were not there and you are lost where poetry is concerned, I am of the opinion that when you see and hear Lebo Mashile live, you will change your mind and fall in love with the rhythm of words.

That’s right, she knows how to make words make love to each other and sound so emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically healthy like two lovers making love without the cares of the world.

I was lucky to get one of her live albums and just finished listening again. I just had to write this blog entry because she had me bopping my head and dreaming dreams. When I got to the piece, ‘Every Child My Child,’ she took me back to that evening at the Southbank. My world, that poem had me in pieces. One of the most powerful things I have heard all year and of course, Lebo made it what it was. If you were there am sure you remember, ‘Every child, my child, wrapped in ribbon of rhythm.’ I hope I got that right!

I remember the first poem she did at the Southbank was ‘What Kind Of A Woman.’ If you don’t know the type of woman you are or you are in the discovery room, do get Lebo’s book, ‘Flying Above The Sky,’ and get yourself some piece of that powerful word.

Ms Mashile had the baby in me kicking with her words and I can’t wait until January when she is back at the Southbank. Lebogang Mashile, my South African sister, keep the words coming because I’m going to keep listening.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It Happened In My Lifetime - Stepping Out on A Wing and A Prayer.

A few months back, my contract at the place where I worked ended. I know anyone would kill to work at the BBC right? Even take whatever you are given, just so, you can say I work at the BBC. Don't get me wrong, it is a good learning ground and I learnt so much in the space of time I was in there. In fact, I made sure that I got as much out of it like I put into it.

But when the contract ended and the prospect of a new job was not offering itself, I asked around as to what was available. Of course, getting shifts was the most feasible option to go for, which I did get some and loved the experience and hope to get some more.

However, there was another role which was just not for me. I thought about it, weighed it up, spoke to my mentor. Now this should make you laugh, she knows me so well, she said, if you take that, you are going to be depressed and I don't want you to go silent on me.

I happen to be one of those people, whose mind works faster than their body can keep-up with and if I am doing something I am not passionate about, I get depressed. The role that was on offer was such that when it was being pitched to me, I was told, I'm sure we can find a way to pay you. A kind offer but it was not journalism related. I studied and trained to be a journalist. That is all I dream of and of course other things I would like to do with my life. I can’t quantify the joy that bubbles in my soul when I see my name in print.

Now please, don’t get me wrong and I say this with all due respect...after a degree, a postgrad and spending 3 years gaining work experience...that did not sound very attractive to me.

However I was also scared. I was afraid that I won't have a job, afraid that I’ll no longer be able to say, I work at the BBC and people would be like oh! I was afraid of what I would live on and how I would survive. I was afraid that the cushion of being a student was not there for me to fall back on. I was afraid bottom-line because the world was in a recession and here I am, leaving my first full time job after studies.

But I knew that if I settled for anything because it’s better than nothing, that would kill me faster than being jobless. So, I decided, we are going to give freelance a try and see how it goes. After all, I was doing that as a student in order to build my portfolio and I had learnt some good lessons along the way. This was in addition to the fact that I had built some good contacts and still building my contacts list.

And my world is the ‘freelance world’ scary. Editors have so many people to deal with; they might not get back to you for days and some might not get back to you at all. The chasing up and the most despondent of them all, the 'NO' that you get after five emails got to me. I felt undervalued and unimportant.

But the breakthrough came and it came one day at a time. It has not been easy, there have been tears and days when I locked myself away and didn't want to talk to a soul.
Days when Facebook became my escape route from dealing with the reality, days when the disparity between the vision and dream I carry inside me was so different to the reality of my present time and days when I cried until I could cry no more and my salty tears tasted comforting to me, days when I could not express what I felt because my soul was hurt by life's fair share and my spirit was really angry and wanted to beat up on life for being so unfair.

But then the morning of each day brought a new challenge, pitch an idea, wait and see...lately it has been better. The ideas are working and the platform to be a journalist is trickling in and I am doing a variation of things...challenging myself and my own intellect. I'm writing for publications whose ethos I believe in and admire a lot and can be picked up in different countries around the globe.

But this blog is because some of the things that may never have happened to me if I had stayed at the BBC with the job that was available at the time are happening.

It was the 25th anniversary of Wasafiri, a magazine of international contemporary writing and I took myself along to the Southbank. I went as an audience member and a journalist. And in my life time, I interviewed Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Kiran Desai and the editor of Wasafiri. Susheila Nasta.

If someone had told me that week that in one day, one email would give me access to two of literature luminaries, I would have said ‘No way, get out of town.’ But it happened to me and it happened in my lifetime. And I am very glad I stepped out on a wing and a prayer though fear sat deep down in my heart and there are days when I am still scared because I have no idea when the next commission will come through my inbox.

But If I had stayed in there just because I wanted to be able to say I work at the BBC, it may never have happened. This is not to say I would turn down a job at the BBC. I would give it great thought and if the shoe fits, wear it the right way. But for now, I would like this road of a wing and a prayer to take me places I never dreamt possible and open doors I never thought would open.

The unknown is scary but once you start on the journey of the unknown, you do learn a lot and the unknown becomes the known. It happened in my lifetime and I am still stepping out on a wing and a prayer.

Image: Google Images...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Despondent Soul

I have often heard about people who committed suicide and I would get angry that they did that to themselves and didn't think of those they were leaving behind. I was so judgemental and I once commented that maybe there should be a public service where if you are feeling suicidal, you would go there, donate your organs and then ended it if you really wanted to.

But When I was on the receiving end of the very thoughts people who had taken their own lives may have experienced and didn't know how they were going to get out of it. I finally understood what it felt like to be backed in a corner and not have much to say in your own defence against your own thoughts.

I never thought it would be me. I am better and stronger than that. But in those few minutes and hours when my mind became so powerful and my will fighting to be heard, I learnt that people who take their own lives do so for many reasons. I am not excusing suicide and never will. But I think I'm beginning to understand the mind is one of the most powerful machines in the world. Not the ones we as men create but the very one that embodies our character, personality, dreams and aspirations; the very fibre of what holds us up and together when the going gets tough.

Next time, you hear that someone took their own life; before you get angry and judgemental, say a prayer for them and their loved ones. It is not easy to shake off despair and some people are not wired to handle it very well.

Image: Waves Of Despair Regina Lafay (

Not Another Decade of Skinny Africans

Last week, in fact, allow me to be precise. It was 22 October and I was watching ABC News with Charles Gibson. I have to tell you, I love me some Charlie. He has a sense of humour, well...a little and the way he ends the news programme is forever ingrained in my memory. He is about to retire and I wonder what I am going to do without Charlie.

But what stood out on the news agenda for the night was the fact that Ethiopia was once again struggling to feed its own people. Earlier in the day, I had read reports on the BBC News website and that the Ethiopian government and aid agencies were calling on the international community for help in order to avert another bout of famine.

I have to be honest that fear hit me like a boxer would hit a punch bag while practising. The images on the screen changed and all I saw was tiny little children like the ones we have all become so familiar with. The images that many would argue have come to define Africa. The ones the media just love to show, over and over to make the whole continent look like we are all starving. You know the ones I am talking about, the ones from 1984.

And I was worried. Worried that just when we are finally getting to the point of realisation that its time we tell our own stories and not allow others do the job for us, the trouble that might be bigger than us is about to unleash itself and invite the outside world to the masquerade dance of hunger; a dance that might leave another decade of images full of skinny Africans with their ribs showing like they are about to break. Another decade of Live Aid concerts to raise money for Africa, another decade of aid dependency, another decade of self-pity...another decade of trying very hard to re-brand ourselves. It will be another decade of heartache and pain for those affected by this new threat of hunger and famine. And these are the people we need to turn our attention to and ask why this is happening again?

The number one culprit at the moment and this is not me talking. This is what everyone is blaming…climate change. So, this is where I ask, Ethiopia is not one of the richest nations in the world and so does not produce the same amount of waste that goes into the atmosphere which in turn affects the world’s ever changing climate like a few countries I don’t want to bother my fingers and type their names. Why is Ethiopia bearing the brunt of the actions of those across the ocean?

Let’s not forget the issue of poor harvest and of course drought which some say is linked to the challenges imposed by climate change. Ethiopia is growing in population but does not have the social infrastructure to take care of its own citizens. And that is a scary thought just like it is with a number of African countries.

We cannot forget the way the nation is governed either and how this has contributed to the problems which just seem to compound year in and year out. Again, it is the same with a number of African countries. Hence, the question remains, what can we do to avert another decade of skinny Africans gracing the screen of every western media news programme you can think of like a cover girl graces the front of a magazine?

For me and I speak and write as an individual who hates to see other people suffering, how are we going to get Ethiopia to that place where it can take care of its own and provide for them? I admit I don’t want those images becoming what defines Africa again but I also want my fellow Africans to survive.


Thursday, October 01, 2009


Is it the fact that we have one of the best national anthems in the world, which I can no longer remember the words. I know, shame on me but I can't sing ‘God Save The Queen,’ either. But I do I pledge to Nigeria my country.
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory
So help me God.

So it’s October 1st and practically everyone’s facebook status is about the fri**ing independence. By now you can tell my patriotism is out the window today. You could say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. No, I am not angry at the people, whose facebook status is about Nigeria and its independence from colonial masters. I am pi**ed off at the fact that for almost 50 years, we have only had 10 years of civil rule which as things stand, is not civil at all.

It still feels like a dictatorship and the rich are getting richer while the poor wonders when their time to eat will come. We have a lame duck leader, who if I am fair to him tries but his best is just not good let alone good enough. Things are not getting better but worse. Rather than hear about how the president is making things work for the country, all I hear is how Fashola, Lagos State governor is making things better for Lagosians.

So, this is where my gripe begins...I never lived under a civilian government in all the years I was growing up in Nigeria, I know, seek counselling and get over it, right? But that’s not it. It has not left me starving for a perfect government. There is no perfect political party or government. For crying out loud, take a look at Britain’s New Labour, soon to become Old Labour and all their promises when they came into power; 12 years on, you do have to wonder where it all went wrong?

Let’s go one better, take a good look at the good old GOP…better known as the Bitter Republican Party of the United States. Talk about a bunch of sad grumpy old men who have nothing better to do than moan and moan about the fact that they lost the plot. And of course, you look at the leader of the free world, Barack Obama and his change programme, and the efforts being made to destabilise the change he wants to implement by the same people he is trying to lead. Goes to show you can never please mankind. So, don’t bother trying.

However, that is not the case in Nigeria. I am yet to hear of a Nigerian leader who put the needs of his people before his. If they are not busy stealing from us, they are busy killing us. Our current president is referred to as a snail, well, I can’t blame them. I was not born in the 60s but I hear the soldiers took over because they felt the civilian government was mismanaging resources. We will never know the truth because in all my 30 years, all they ever do when they get to power is take, take and take; those who desire to give back or help the people, they ‘waste’ them.

So, its 2009, the ninth year of the new Millennium and the current trend is kidnapping people who may have a penny or two to their names. What's interesting is that some of them have no political history just Nigerians taking their fellow country men for ransom. I wonder why they don't heap the same horseshit on the mugu politicians we have and get them to surrender the money they have been stealing for years. I wonder why IBB or Abacha's family have not felt the wrath of these angry young men. Why take ordinary people who have money, ill-gotten or not?

Education is in shambles. Many students have been waiting to graduate for months but are still waiting on ASUU to end its strike. Or is it the fact that while universities are on strike in Nigeria, the half dead president Umaru Yar’adua flies to Saudi Arabia to open a fri**ing university. If he was not inspired by what he saw to do right by his own people, I guess they have to start praying for the next election to come sooner than later.

Medical care is more like a slaughter house. People go to the hospital to get well but they end up dead because some joker didn’t know what was wrong and rather than tell them the truth, they lie to them in order to get their money and kill them. Knowing full well, no one can bring them to account. Imagine a friend goes for blood transfusion a few weeks back, and ends up infected with Hepatitis C. In addition to suffering from diabetes, he swells up in pain and dies. Though I have been dealt a similar blow when the doctors misdiagnose you and rather than tell you the truth, they sentence you to a life time of medication, hospital visits and surgeries and oh, did I mention the scars. You look in the mirror and you wonder, why me? But the game was on them because I'm not one to sit around feeling sorry for myself. Healthcare has gone from bad to worse.

Let’s not talk about the epidemic of corruption or the very fact that Nigerians have a reputation for being 419ers world over. The guilty and innocent suffer the same fate at airports and immigration offices. You know when you start getting the funny looks and they are looking at each other in recognition of your fraudulent passport be you guilty or not. In fact, you have Nigerians going to China, Bulgaria and Libya. And with all due respect, I mean, with all due respect, they are treated like second class citizens. Based on a recent documentary by Panorama, I saw Nigerians locked up like sardines in jail with men from other nationalities. They talked about being mistreated, I bet the Nigerian government saw it but cannot do a thing about it. Or is it the news story carried by Focus on Africa a few weeks back that some 200 Nigerians were to be executed and the fri**ing Nigerian government is not doing a thing about it. Instead, the silly Nigerian ambassador to Libya said it was not true, they are offering help and branded those who were not getting assistance criminals.

For crying out loud, a young British woman... well she is originally Nigerian but being British saved her life. She was meant to face the gallows a few months back was sent home from Laos because a, she was pregnant and b, the British government helped alongside Human Rights groups. Don’t get me wrong, I do not condole committing crime at home or in a foreign country but when there is harsh treatment, Western countries fight for their citizens but the Nigerian government, you will be lucky if you get a cup of water in a Nigerian jail let alone when you are locked up in a foreign jail.

Bottomline of the matter is that the government is as useless as you can get. What we have is a failed state and it has failed its people over and over. I mean why would anyone pack up and go to China, yes, I know it is a developing economy or go to Bulgaria if the different Nigerian governments, civilian and military in the last forty years used the country’s resources wisely? I bet you, Nigeria might be in the same group known as the BRICS (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) for being developing economies.

And please do not get me started about the level of unemployment. Young men and women graduate from university but have no job prospects. And if they find one, they either get it using their backside or their father pays for them to have a job. Those who get a job without paying for it or sleeping with an asshole are said to be the lucky few. When neither is possible, you have young women turning to prostitution as a way out. Prostitution becomes the way to desperately fulfil their dreams. Desperate Dreams are costly.

People are as poor as you can get. With no jobs and means of making an income, how are they expected to feed their families or pay for medical care? Nigeria is in an appalling state.

But there is also the side of my country I love and appreciate. The culture and traditions of the different tribes, you go to a Nigerian wedding, you might be lucky enough to get a glimpse of what I am talking about.

If anything is thriving at the moment, it is the entertainment industry, though I sometimes think we have lost our way in an ideology that's not original to us. Koko Mansion being the best example I can give. However, I also appreciate the work of Nollywood, good or bad, it makes an effort to tell the stories of ordinary Nigerians, the ones a westerner will hear and say no way, that’s not possible. I dare say, yes way it is possible in Nigeria.

This reminds me of the time I spent in the village while growing up. In fact it gave me some of my best memories. I still remember time spent by the riverside or my journey to the river. Hearing the trees sing and dance and the beautiful gentle breeze that comes with the music, you can’t beat that. The sense of community was and is still very strong. That’s one thing that you can never take away from my people. We help each other though there are also wicked people who do evil things.

I am not saying there is no form of development taking place. It is happening one day at a time but at a heavy cost to the millions of people suffering. This is where I say its time we ask ourselves where we go from here? We are going to be 50 next year, a significant year on the African continent with the World cup and the fact that several other African nations are going to be celebrating five decades of independence.

I think its time we ask ourselves what we are going to do next, continue like this because we think this is what God wants for us? For crying out loud, I am tired of the message that suffering is in the will of God. By all means excuse me on this. I don’t claim to know the whole bible but I know for a fact that there is no place where God condemns Nigeria to eternal suffering. Yes, we should pray Christians and Muslims but hell, I am sick and tired of the lie that the current state of Nigeria is the way God wants it. Its time we ask ourselves serious questions and since the politicians make it a point to make their faith part of their work, the religious leaders in the country need to start asking questions or they too can step aside and let God do his work by himself.

Nigeria and Nigerians have created a world that has different sides to it and they are all very contrasting. But if I come back in another lifetime, I want to be Nigerian. There is a sense of pride I see in my people which despite years of political mayhem, instability, corruption and abuse of power refuses to die. It is that sense of pride that makes us not give up and wherever we find ourselves in the world, we leave a mark. I love my people, I respect my people. I admire our resilience and hunger for success. I want us to do it right and I want us to do with our head held up high.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What Is This Thing Called Marriage? Part 1

Summer is that time of the year when you get all your dresses out, make all the 'make-ables', like a friend would say. And of course work on your dance moves. If you are the bride and groom, great! All attention will be on you on your big day. If you are a bridesmaid or groomsman, you will have to learn to smile form one side of your chin to the other in order to keep looking pretty.

I have always wanted to get married and still do. I know for a fact that I was not called to be celibate. But I hear and see it all the time, those who want to get married but can't meet the right person and those who are married but have moments when they wish they were single again. You can never please man. I wonder what the big man upstairs thinks about our indecisiveness when it comes down to what we really want.

I have never been a bridesmaid and quite honestly, I don't think I want to be one. My chin hurts when I smile a lot. Okay, before you throw stones at me, that was a joke but I happen to be someone who is very conscious of her surronding and people staring at me. So, I prefer being a guest and helping out than being on display.

That aside and back to what this whole drama of marriage is all about. I have had moments when I wanted to cry and indeed I cried because I thought there was something wrong with me and that's why no one has shown interest in that area and by no one, I mean a 'MAN'. Don't get it twisted, I am as heterosexual and straight as you can get. These days, one has to spell things out word for word and after getting a few nasties on a few social newtworking sites I belong to... I want to make it crystal clear, this lady is not interested in other women. Thank you!

So, I am in the middle of a conversation with my friend and the issue of marriage comes up. My friend of course is almost the same age as myself. She has just been to Nigeria and back. So, I teased and asked her if she got herself a man? Her response was no. I told her that was not good enough because these days people go home to get a man or a woman to play the role of husband or wife. Of course we laughed about it and then I proceeded to tell her that my father told me a few weeks ago that he would not mind if I married a man from Pakistan, which we both laughed about. You see, my father's logic is based on the fact that a few years back, a Pakistani doctor was one of the people who saved my life when I was between life and death. That made think and of course I told him that if saving my life is the pre-requisite for marrige, then I will be very nervous and of course my father being himself laughed and I laughed with him. Bless him!

To crown the comedy I was having with this whole issue of marriage, I get this in an email...

"Hello all,

Hope you're well.

I just wanted to gauge interest in a get together I'm thinking of doing...

Thought it would be great to have a ladies' night to get the lowdown on how to find and attract a good man.


I met Des O Connor recently, who's a dating coach and pitched as the female Hitch, and found him to be very funny, charming, and brimming with ideas. He does home parties where he can give tips, but they cost £10/head and he needs a minimum of 10 people there.

So, I thought he could share his insight and offer us tips. I have a friend who is a MAC make up artist so she can do a makeover for you for £10 if you're interested and if you want to buff your body for that prospective date, then I'll have great offers on Body Shop products. You know then that you can hit a venue immediately afterwards looking too damn good.


So, what do you think? Would you be interested in attending a dating party at mine? Unfortunately I can't offer you the fine mans afterwards, but at least we'll have the advice and tools to find him!"

I laughed so hard, my neighbours must have thought I had lost the plot. This made me think about how the tables have changed in the 21st century where marriage and relationships are concerned. In my mother's days, the man did all the work and the ladies had to sit pretty and wait to be taken. Now we have dating coach and you name it, every book under the sun about relationship has been written to enable us with the tools for attracting 'The One.'

The game has changed and it is still have to take into account that men have choices...a lot of them in addition to the very fact that some or white are gay. And you have those who are in prison which will most likely make you not want to give him a chance. Then you look at the facts before you, his education level, how much money he makes and if he can afford to take care of you and the 2.5 kids you are going to have with him. Of course, you will look at the physique stats of tall, dark and handsome and if he is white, tall, tanned and handsome. A friend once that she would not mind buying the guy the shoes and teeth if he had none. And I bet this situation is the same for some men.

But if we are honest with ourselves, all of these requirements are fantasies...that's not to say you will not get what you want but most of the time, I know people who got what they needed where relationships and marriage is concerned and not what they wanted. I can tell you they are happy too. So, we do have to work on our expectations but by no means lower your standards or play anything down. And by that, I mean do not deny who you are, so someone will marry you. If you are more educated than he is, as long as he can handle it and be proud of you, why not? So what if you make more money than he does? Bottomline, you might be the boss at work but at home, you are his lady and like I have heard in the past, 'at home she is my girl.' And of course all of these points are vice versa for the men too. I know men are always supposed to the bread winners of the home and like Steve Harvey said, men like to know that they can provide and protect. Don't ever take away his ability to do that or you are going to have a docile brethen and then start wondering what happened.

The jokes aside, I am finally beginning to understand why a few friends I know used to complain about their parents once they hit 25 heading to the big 30. Now if you are African like me, you know the fact that we put a prize and price tag on marriage. If you are not married by a certain age, you might as well be a leper. Don't get me wrong, attitudes are changing and people are beginning to realise that marriage is not the be all and end all of a man or a woman's life.

There is so much to do, there are people whose lives you can make a difference to, dreams to pursue, visions to accomplish, purpose to fulfill...I could go on and on. But I also know that the desire to share all of your success with someone is just as strong if not stronger. Goodness, there is no need having a mansion for yourself alone. I mean, how many rooms are you going to sleep in? It is annoying eating on your own honest, if you enjoy cooking like I do...there are moments after cooking when I wish there was someone to dish a spoon or two for.

When I started writing this blog entry, it was because I was looking to find answers to the title of my entry. I believe I will find out as I grow and learn more about the subject of marriage. I wish I had all the answers but that would be boring.

To cut a long story short, the key is to keep discovering yourself, get yourself to do things you normally don't do. Doing interesting things make you interesting and every now and gain, reposition yourself in life by taking on a new challenge.

The key to joy does not belong to a man or a woman but belongs to you and it all comes down to what you want out of life. There will be life lessons along the way, some very painful ones, some joyful but if you stay in there and don't give up on life. It will happen. In the mean time, don't put your life on hold. Get up and start living.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why I Respect Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A few weeks back, though it seems like months now, I was at the Southbank for the BBC World Service Book Club with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

It was the first time I had seen her at a live event. She speaks with eloquence and confidence that can only belongs to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her humility was and is still beyond me. For a writer who has three highly acclaimed books to her name, has won the coveted Orange Prize, has been a fellow at prestigious universities in the US, and her books have been translated into 30 languages, she is very grounded. If you didn't know she was Chimamanda, the author, like we say in Nigeria, you would say her 'Mother raised her well. And yes, she did. And did I add that she has a great sense of humour and describes herself as a ‘happy feminist.’

She shows a depth of gratitude to the people who read her books and still says she counts herself lucky that people will read her books. If it was me, I tell you, CNN is too small to tell the world about myself.

But this is not about me. It is about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an author I have the highest regard and admiration for. I have newspaper cuttings of her from 2008 when she won the Orange Prize. It is on my dream board alongside that of Christine Amanpour of CNN. The first woman I ever saw reporting from a war zone as a child during the first Iraq (Gulf) war. How many of you remember those khaki shirts and combat trousers? That's right. That's the great Ms Amanpour. Subconsciously, I think she is one of the reasons I admired journalism before I ever thought of becoming a journalist. I always wanted to be a criminal lawyer; you know getting the bad guys. But I changed my mind as I believe in the power of words more than I do in the justice system of the world in the 21st century. But there is hope. All men will get what they deserve at the right time, dead or alive. History has been known to do justice to a whole lot of folks and things around us.

Back to Miss Adichie, at the event, she said she is doing what she loves to do. She loves writing and it what she has always wanted to do. It soon dawned on me that she does not say things to score points with people. She says what she believes she needs to say. At 32, that is one heck of a staunch confidence and I throw my hat off to her in salute.

This is where she had me rooting for her all over again though I already like her books and think she is one author Nigeria as a nation will one day acknowledge for reminding us about a part of our history we are so happy and eager to forget, the ‘Biafra War’. For crying out loud, there are a lot of people my age, who have no idea what the war was about but they can tell you about the latest music and fashion trends. Yet, they have no knowledge of their history. She said she is a firm believe that Africa’s history should be written by Africans. I could not agree more. For so long our history has been distorted by lunatics who only spent two weeks in Africa and all of a sudden, they are African experts. I won’t mention names but you all know who you are.

This is not to take away from great historians and writers who have written about Africa but Africa has great stories that needs to be told, yet no one is telling it like we would like it told. Hence, let’s start telling our own stories after all, we have the unadulterated copyright to it. It is all around us, our parents know them and so do our grandparents. When was the last time you sat at the feet of an elder to hear an oral story? We need to go back to those fun times and learn about King Ododuwa, the great Jaja of Opobo, Oba Ovorame Nogbasi, who was exiled and deported to Calabar from the Ancient Benin Kingdom when the Europeans came to Benin or should I say when they tried to take over and he was having none of it. That’s right, never mess with a Benin man, he will cut you up.

She is not afraid or reserved about the truth. I mean how many authors will you hear say, Nigeria’s history is fractured? Well, with the exception of Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe. Or tell you straight up that she is not interested in telling propaganda stories and does believe that it is the work of fiction to be objective.

But I think this is where I have the utmost level of respect for her. Reading her books, I have noticed she does not shy away from calling her characters some strong Igbo names, you know the type you pull yourself together before saying a word. Some sentences/lines are even written in Igbo. For me, that’s a woman who is proud of her heritage. For someone who started writing at such a young age and thought writing about white folks was the way but soon changed her mind after reading ‘Things Fall Apart’ by one of Nigeria’s best authors, Chinua Achebe. It is cool to write about Africans and tell African stories.

‘Purple Hibiscus’ was a very moving story on different levels, ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ was a multi-layered book full of history and ‘The Thing around Your Neck’ is a collection of short stories which again depict Nigeria and Nigerians at their best and at their worst. But the humour is great. Once again, Adichie reminds us every now and again about the place where her writing started, the university of Nsukka. It is a place that features in her work. I think that is what heritage does to you. When you know who you are and you are proud of your roots, then the stories that come out of you reflect that you know who you are better than the world who tries to define you with a few boxes asking if you are Black British or Black African.

I remember being at University and reading books by African-American authors but had a university acquaintance who read books by British and other European authors. I used to think I was missing out on something and that it was un-cool to read books by African and African-American authors. So, I went out and bought books by Diane Atkinson among others. Please, don’t get me wrong, she is a great author and I respect her for her body of work. That was my secret but not anymore because these days, most of the books I read are by African authors. I’m hungry for their books and I have promised myself that for the next two to three years, that’s all I am going to do. That’s not to say I won’t read books by writers from the West or from others parts of the world. On my books to read list are plays by Tennessee Williams, ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ is at the very top that list. In fact it is starring at me as I type away. Then there are some fine books by authors like Elizabeth Noble, 'Things I want My Daughters To Know,’ Elizabeth Gilbert has a new book coming in August and after ‘Eat, Pray Love,’ you must really hate reading to miss her books.

So, I’m not boxing myself up but I plan to immerse myself in African literature like never before because it is about time I read about my own people and gain a better knowledge of our stories; be it from North, South, West or Eats Africa. I have never read anything by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o but will do so for the first time later this year with ‘A Grain Of Wheat,’ to be followed-up next year with ‘Petals Of Blood.’

For the books, the good stories, the humility and the good sense of humour, thank you Miss Adichie and for being a proud Nigerian/African writer. Keep them rolling because we are going to keep reading them.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's website

Image of Author by Beowulf Sheehan Photograpghy and it was taken from Google.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


“You cannot write with your hands chained.” Helon Habila.

When I first heard about KOKO Mansion, I had to know what it was all about and why so many people thought it was a good laugh. Without a doubt, it is a good laugh. After all, our ability to laugh at ourselves served as a good source of comic relief during decades of brutal military rule. We called IBB Maradona for his ability to wiggle his way out of tight situations and he is still the butt of jokes for a number of comedians. Why the hell not? Today, it is fair to argue that we have become somewhat desensitized to a lot of bullsh*t that otherwise would not have been okay some decades ago. But guess what, we can still joke about it and we even have comedy nights dedicated to it, all in the name of not taking ourselves too seriously.

That's what happens when you have liberty. However, I wonder if our liberty is helping us because we seem to accept the unacceptable in the name of liberty and refuse to take action for the real liberty that we have a right to as Nigerians. We excuse a few things in the name of catching up with the West but its okay, we are developing. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the way we have moved up the ladder in a whole lot of things. I mean we have world class writers, winning The Orange Prize, The Caine Prize and others who are doing great things. We have a generation who is hungry for success and hustling to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Though it breaks your heart to see what some are doing but what choice have they got when there is no support network to make it happen.

Before I continue, you are more than welcome to call me an arm chair critic, I mean, Wole Soyinka gets it everyday but that has not stopped the creative spirit in him or his ability to be vocal. I believe he recently categorised democracy in Nigeria as lacking. Though not his exact words but the man still tells it like it is. Take it or leave it.

Back to the issue with KOKO Mansion, I am not a big fan of reality TV but I have given some thought to the whole idea and I am tempted to say… in fact, I’ll say this. It serves the purpose of keeping people entertained if this is your idea of entertainment. Second, it sure helps to keep the man in whose name it has been created on our minds, record sales and popularity soaring. And of course, the ratings for the channel on which it is been shown are going to go through the roof. It is going around the world and you have people in London talking about with the help of cable TV, what more could you ask for?

That said, what I can’t understand is the reason we think that getting a group of women into one house and creating an all ‘Female’ version of ‘Big Brother’ is a great idea that would revolutionise the way we view television in Nigeria.

Now let’s take a look at the name, KOKO Mansion and the ladies or should I say girls are called Kokolettes. Right there, they have been commodified and for the rest of their lives, there is a big possibility that they will remain commodities owned by the Nigerian media. Then you take a look at the prize the winner stands to take home and you are tempted to say, wow! Which for a lot of people is indeed wow? Otherwise, how else will they ever get such an opportunity to acquire the things on offer? But the biggest game prize on offer is EXPOSURE. Damn it, these girls are smart. And I might not like the show but I respect their savviness to recognise opportunity when they see it because they are taking it with both hands and milking it for all that it is. ‘Their mama born them well jare!’

Out of curiosity, I have become a fan on facebook and was reading through the different comments of other fans. Some have gone to great lengths to prove their point; others have become rather rude and obnoxious, which in my opinion is uncalled for. Let everybody express their views without suppressing it with yours. And some people have taken it rather personally but the comment which stood out and got my attention was one made by a lady who said, ‘If it was a white man behind this show, we Nigerians would say it is great and support it.’ That I am afraid is true to a certain degree. I’m afraid the mentality which dictates a white man might be better at something still persists in our society. If you don’t believe me, bid for a contract and let a white man also put in a bid and then wait and see who will get it. You all know I am not off the mark on that one. It has happened so many times that we are now used to it because we think, they will do it better. No disrespect intended at any race, just being honest and you know that’s how it is.

When I got to the fan page, I had a good look at the pictures and when I got to the album of the press briefing, felt really sick. It was all men sitting at the table answering questions. Talk about a bunch of f***ing chauvinistic a** holes…and then you take a look at the marketing images and that tells you what these a**holes think women are. (Pardon the Frenchies but that’s how the words flowing right now and my hands can’t be tied)

Then you move on to read the profiles of the contestants and you can see we have come to define success as being famous and the best way to get it is through notoriety or any which way possible. No matter how bad or the means involved. Reuben Abati was not off the mark after all with his article, ‘A Nation's Identity Crisis.’ Brother was on point because he said it all. You might not agree with him but the symptoms on display corroborate his point. And I have a strong feeling that people missed his point and that’s why they all got worked up about it.

Some of the contestants have said they came there for the exposure not the money. At least they are honest and three Kokolettes have made it clear that their ambition is to be in the entertainment industry and be media moguls but no one is as blunt as Kokolette Chioma. Chioma is described as a talented musician who has no time to disguise her motivation for participation on the show. “I’m here for the money, because when I get the money, I’ll be able to produce my songs, and the popularity will help too, because for you to succeed in the entertainment business, you need to be known,” she says. Hell she is right? Being a dumb a** won’t get you far.

Before we continue, take a look at kokolette Victoria, she has a lot of dreams and girl, keep dreaming because that’s a lifeline you have going for you already. But her dream includes running a successful travel agency, producing international standard movies, and owning a video-vixen agency. Let’s stop right there.

You and I know one of the most famous video-vixens the world of hip-hop has given to us to date is none other than… Karrine Steffans and that I would have to say ‘MBA’ better explained as HELL NO. That is not a dream but license to open a prostitution centre with scantily clad ladies as the ultimate prize. Why do you have to think taking your clothes off with the men fully clothed and then shaking your two cents booties and titties is the best way to make a living? Now I know it pays the bills and gets you noticed but you and I know full well, our parents had rather be dead before they see that happen. Well, some of them…All the same, that is no dream. We are better than that. Its her dream and I have no right to deny her but come on people, we are a society with cultures and traditions and a lady who smokes is still considered a prostitute in some cultures, let a lone one who decides to put her titties and booties on public display.

But this is what pained me the most, watching and listening to Kokolette Rita, who finds it very challenging to string a few sentences together. Her profile reads, “I came here because I want to get exposure, not necessarily because of the money, because if I represent myself well, the future will give me more money than the prize money.”

And it is because of Rita that I felt compelled to write this piece. It would be so easy to laugh at her inability to string a few sentences together after watching a video of her presentation. But then you read her profile and get to this, “I can prove myself as a woman because I know my left from my right.” You see, Rita’s ambition according to her profile was inspired by an emotionally daunting experience a few years ago, when she was sent packing from school for her parents inability to pay her school fees – as she remembers, her dad was broke, and the rich folks she knew berated her for being poor instead of helping her with the required sum to pay her school fees – that incident introduced her to how cold the world was to the poor. “It was after this incident that I swore to myself that I was going to succeed in life.” who wouldn’t make that vow when you have hot tears streaming down your face and you have been given a coat of shame you have no control over or the ability to shake off. But she is trying desperately to shake it off. She is and for that, I am tempted to say ‘Come on Rita, go on, give it your best shot’ though we all know, she stands little or no chance of winning but then again, never judge a book by its cover.

This reminds me of a new book by Chika Unigwe, ‘On Black Sisters' Street,’ where she takes a look at the lives of Nigerian prostitutes in Belgium. In an interview with BBC World Service, she talks about the fact that she was shocked to discover a large population of the prostitutes in Antwep, Belgium were Nigerians. That was back in 1995 and today is no shocking news.

Therefore I agree with her that the current state of things calls for the government to be indicted and I would like to add that they be should be indicted for treason. They have betrayed our trust and confidence for too long, taken away the future of our children and it’s about time someone starts to pay. Kokolette Rita should not have to struggle to speak good English. She should never have been thrown out of school. Nigeria is too wealthy a country to have young beautiful women like Rita who cannot speak Standard English and have no education. Yes, English is our second language but hell, we deserve better.

The word Kokokette is open to a varied number of interpretations and knowing my people, I bet you have young boys who think its now okay to call girls Kokolettes. Sorry, I’m not your Kokolette. To ensure I was not overacting or reading too much into this good comedy, I asked a few male friends what they thought of the whole show, by the way, they are Nigerians and way older than me. One thing was pertinent and for them, it was degrading to women. If the men are saying that, then I rest my case.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Culture and Etiquette

Why do some people think they are semi-gods? I cannot stand when you want something but don't just come out and ask but give me an excuse why you can't do it. It is annoying, self-serving and just very unattractive.

So, I go to a gathering and there are a few people having a nice chat here and there. You know... gathered in clusters and talking. I decided to help the lady who was clearing up as she was doing it on her own.

While clearing up and ensuring the food that was still good to be left out was set aside, this man comes up to me, I want chicken. Go ahead, help yourself. Do I look like a chicken giver?

But no, this joker proceeds to ask again, I want to take some chicken home. Okay, take the chicken and go home but hell no. He wants me to pack and wrap the chicken for him. So, I said to him again, help yourself.

Someone else I know comes and shares his foil paper with him, so he can use his hands and take his own chicken, but no. This man wants me to be the one to give him the chicken. See me see blessing, did my mum tell me when I was a child that I would one day come to London and pack chicken for you to take home?

But, there is a but and that is my ability to stay composed despite this jokers traditional views that women were made to serve him. You see, he didn't have to say it, his attitude and actions showed it clean and clear for all to see.

Makes me wonder, will certain people ever get rid of their cultural beliefs and start working with etiquette? Though its obvious some people don't seem to know the difference.

So, I used the white plate that was there and dumped some chicken on his foil paper. That was as far as I could go with showing I was not impressed. I continued with the clearing up. You know what they say, when you meet jokers in life, keep stepping.

Its over but I am glad I handled it well. At least, no scene was served up as drama and no one is going to say, I didn't know Belinda was like that. Sometimes, humility does come in handy. You just let people be people and they will show themselves for who and what they are. The guy who shared his foil paper with him said, I commend the way you helped us and just moved on. That says it all.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

When times are scary

I just read an article which says over 1,000 journalists in the UK are on the dole. Got me nervous and it got me thinking? What else do you do when all you know is journalism and the thought of doing anything else scares you to death? You are nervous because you feel your first love slipping way or should I use the word dream, in order to make the point clear. For many and myself included, being a journalist is all we have dreamed of and known. To think that you will have to give it up for a day is scary. Even worse is doing what you are not passionate about...personaly, that kills you faster than being jobless.

How many emails are you going to send out with no response before you finally say, okay, what are my other career options? If this entry was for me alone, one could say, shut up and get on with it. But when it sinks in that there are hundreds of people in the same boat, it makes you think, what went wrong? Where are all the jobs? Yes, we were fully aware that it was a tough market but we were ready for that. That's why we did unpaid work for a number of years before we got a leg in the door.

Many say the birth of digital media has a part to play in it. Others claim it is the recession, job cuts and other woes that has every industry you can think of fighting for survival.

I don't know what to think right now to be honest. You wake up and you wonder the number of responses that you will get from the emails you send out. The ones that have networking as its subject to the ones that say, pls, can you help me? It is scary to wake up each day with uncertainty but what else is there to do but keep hoping. I was taught that hope never fails but for many, how long will they keep longing and hoping that things will change sooner than later?

I wish I had all the answers but I don't. In fact, I need some myself.

But hell, nothing will make me give up journalism. I love words way too much to stop writing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getting On With The Business Of LIfe

Dear Belinda,

I am writing to you this day because I am sick and tired of what you are doing to yourself. You are so much better than this and bigger than the situation. How dare you let one circumstance get to you so bad that you can longer think and fight the way you have always fought. How dare you forget that within you is the Amazonian strength you are known for? How dare you waste precious time on things that are not productive and then moan that you are lacking behind?

Belinda, I am writing to you on behalf of myself and I double dare you to stop sleeping, wake up, get on with the business of life and get on with the dream because no one is going to make it happen for you.

Please read the next lines below because I have thought deep and hard before I started writing and I know you will find the strength to look yourself in the mirror and admit that you need to wake up from that slumber and get working again.

Interests make you interesting and when you have no interest, you cannot be interesting. Develop some personal interest. A good lesson I learnt today from listening to TD Jakes.

You can develop interest if you find that you don't have any. Just take up a hobby dear. It will be good for you. The same way you develop an interest is the same way you should get on with the business of life.

The last three months have been challenging for me mentally because I found myself at the crossroad of life where I have had to do a lot of soul searching and ask myself a lot of questions. The questions that if others asked me, I would throw a feat and get all worked up, might not even speak to them again. But you know what? I had to ask those hard hitting questions because if I don't ask myself, who will ask me?

In less than a month's time, I will hit that number which makes you think, what have I done with my life and what am I going to do from this point onwards?

I have been telling people since January 2009 that I was 30 years old. In fact even before January for the very fact that I have been looking forward to 30. It is an achievement for me for a whole lot of reasons. The foremost thing being that I am here against medical odds, living, loving and kicking it. (Kicking it but not in that sense y’all)

I have been looking forward to 30 because I have a lot of things I want to do with my life. I have a career to forge, plays, poetry and books to write and stories to tell, get married, have children, build a home, support my husband and bless those around me. I want to reach out to my generation and a whole lot of people by doing the right things and helping others. I find joy in being there for someone and I am passionate about teenagers. I have a number of them as my babies.

However, in the last three months that I have been down in heart and spirit and feeling sorry for myself. I have not done as much as I should. So, I have been doing a lot of searching within me to find me again. So, I started asking the hard questions which I needed to ask.

Guess what the first question was, Belinda do you think you are lazy? My response... yes, I can be lazy that acceptable? No, not when I have a vision, a goal and a purpose to fulfil and dreams to make happen.

Belinda, do you procrastinate? Yes, I do sometimes and keep saying tomorrow when I can do what needs to be done right now. Belinda, is that acceptable? No, what are you going to do about it? I am going to start doing what I need to do and when I need to do them. Belinda promised herself that she was going to stop doing the wrong things at the right time and the right thing at the wrong time.

Am I allowing myself to become intoxicated with the wrong emotion? Yes, I have let myself get to that point where the negative emotions of my present circumstance get the better of me. I forgot about my previous achievements and my future plans and I got stuck in the moment that I didn't have or didn't get what I wanted.

I let myself get carried away by yawning and getting hungry for things which their season in my life is yet to come. You know they say, your memories can either make you or break you. I want my memories to make me and not break me.

It hasn’t all been bad…as I am quite hard on myself and so expect a lot from myself. I have been getting commissions and writing features, worked on a radio package, worked in a news room, made the finals of a bursary scheme though I didn’t get the bursary. Not because I was a bad interviewee, in fact I was a good interviewee and so they thought I did not need the bursary and others needed it more than I did.

I admit... it knocked me for six. I cried but in the words of my mentor, so, it didn’t happen the way you wanted it to, move on to the next task. Waking up with palpitations and killing myself for what, a bursary that I was not going to get, Belinda, you know better and your life trajectory is not based on a bursary.

I know I am worth more than meets the eye and I am valuable. So, I must sit and plan all over. And this takes me back to the questions I asked myself at the beginning of this entry. Am I lazy? I said sometimes and what am I going to do about that? Admitting it is the first step because what you don’t confront, you cannot deal with it.

Do I procrastinate? Yes and what do I plan to do about that from now on? Do what needs to be done and at the right time.

Do I plan on having fun? Oh, hell yes, I plan to do that and much more. If I am going to get on with the business of life, then I must balance it out.

So, how do I plan on getting on with the business of life? By strategising, planning and giving myself a defined direction. It isn’t that I never had that…I have always had a focus and a direction. I know what I want out of life and what I want to do with my life. However, I made plans for this season of my life around a few things and now that that is not the case, I need to re-plan and make life work for me. It is ever so true that there is a time and season for everything and life is indeed a cycle of seasons.

Belinda promises herself to be good, disciplined, and diligent and do her work. Belinda promises to send the emails which need to go out, call the people she needs to call, read the books she needs to read, write the features that won’t write themselves and above all, get back to the board with my creative writing and start writing again. I have started doing that I must be honest; I need to do more writing. My blogs need to be updated and I need to revisit my plan for a business of my own.

Here is to the business of getting on with life as it should be.

From Belinda to me, myself and I.



Friday, April 10, 2009

How The Internet Controls Us Without Our Knowledge

Ever wondered how your day flies by with you sitting in one place?

Since the emergence of the World Wide Web, we have been able to do things from the comfort of our home without getting on the bus, train or a plane to achieve the same goal. You can do your home shopping while surfing the web. Listen to radio and at the same time update your blog page. The world is your oyster once you are in front of that screen.

But have you taken time recently to ask yourself, how productive you are at the end of each day. You see, you can be really busy without being productive and I can attest to that. It happened to me last week. Not funny at all.

While the internet is a really useful tool to have, there comes a time when you must shut it down and focus on the work at hand. If not, by the time you respond to your emails, check Facebook and the new pictures your friends loaded, update your Twitter page, the day is practically gone.

And if you are a news junkie like me, you will read the BBC, Guardian and other newspaper websites that you are interested in. Again, your time and day is gone. Not that any of these things are bad but you need to draw the line somewhere or you will be in for a big surprise at the end of the year when you take inventory of your achievement and realise, 365 was spent surfing one social networking website to the other.

The web is great for research, heaven knows, it has been very useful to me but even that, there comes a time when you have to call a time-out on it.

Honestly, it all comes down to you dedicating a specific time to each task you want to carry out on the web and keep to it. I have started using this technique, so far so good and I plan to use it some more.

The other day, I was at The Southbank and someone had sent in a question asking how writers can become more productive without becoming slaves to web? I was so happy he asked because I was looking for some answers. It was beginning to drive me nuts doing web surfing all in the name of research and little writing.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie simply said, its your internet connection, you pay for it, just switch the thing off.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Is It Ever Okay to Feel Lazy and Be Lazy?

So far, I have had a number of responses from friend. Some say yes and others not so sure.

Well, the aim is to keep this short. Last week was a rather lazy one for me. It is not a case whereby I didn't get anything done, it is the fact that I did not cross off half of my list like I had wanted to.

Trust me, I was well upset and ranting on about being so lazy this week. Even told the lady who owns the drycleaners where I take my clothes and she said, "We all have those days Belinda, when you body has had enough and decides... that's it. We are doing this my way. Since you don't know when to stop, I'll stop you."

You see, I never thought of that way, I knew I was tired and had aches and pains all over but it didn't all feel like tiredness. More the fact that I had slept a little longer than usual that morning and the end result when I do that is headache.

So, it got me thinking, is it ever okay to feel lazy and go with your feelings and what your body is dictating to you? Or do you ignore what you are feeling, what your body is saying and keep pushing the boundaries?

I mean, they do say in order to make it in life, you must work hard. Great idea, but how about working smart and taking some 'me time' out for yourself?

As for me, I need to listen to my body more and plan well ahead like before for each day and week. What I don't finish, I should be grateful for what I accomplish and carry the task over. But don't make a habit of it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Act Like A Fool Though You Know You Are Not One.

There is something about placing value on yourself, what you stand for and who you are. Personally, I think it comes through in your work. When you appreciate yourself, you appreciate your work right? The two go together. When I meet people who appreciate their work and can in turn show appreciation for other people's work, I really respect them for that.

I have been learning a lot of lessons about being a journalist and working with others. I have met really good people and some... I have no words to describe them. For the simple reason that if I write down what's at the tip of my tongue right now... I might just loose respect for myself because that's not who I am and I refuse to become bitter or twisted due to the actions of others. I have come too far for that and hell, I refuse to be like them.

Not long ago, I pitched an idea I was passionate about. As far as I am concerned you have to be passionate about what you do. If not, why do it at all. Maybe that's one of the reason I refuse to take on jobs which I know will kill me faster than being jobless. I know myself, I will get depressed and that will kill my creative mind faster than the jokers who are trying to walk on my last nerve. But guess what? I made up my mind...'ain't gonna let them.' So, I am going to keep stepping, nothing like a spring in a sista's step.

Back to this was to do with Nollywood and Lollywood. I knew I had something going because up until then, even I didn't know much about Lollywod. When I pitched worked and there we have it.

So, I got working on it. You know, I was very happy to work on this...I believe what you are passionate about you will do even if you don't get paid for it. Now don't get me wrong...I am not saying keep working and don't get paid. NO! Don't do that if you are not on work experience. What am I saying? Let your passion be your driving force and not money. Why, your passion will make money for you. Money can never make your passion work. Your passion is the fuel for your daily existence.

That aside and back to this idea, I worked on it despite one or two dramas but I always keep something my father taught me at the forefront of my mind when I am doing anything different and have to work with people. 'When you get to a place for the first time, 'Act like a fool and learn all you can even if you already know it. Learn it again. Act a fool, keep your eyes open and study the environment. Know who is who and who does what. Act a fool and watch out for who you need to say hi and bye to. Act a fool and make your life and time work. Act a fool, so that tomorrow, you know who you can trust until they decide otherwise and you must move on. Act a fool though you know you are not a fool.' So on point!

So, I did just that because I wanted to learn about this environment and learn how it works.

I worked on this idea, which was to be a package for a radio programme. This was the third time I was working on a radio package and the first that will be broadcast. I admit that it took some time. I was working to a different audience and programme. Different to what I have done before as far as radio was concerned.

I was happy to learn through the process, that's one thing I have learnt in life. You are always a student when you have a vision and focus about what you want out of life.

So, it finally finished though I had to sit with one of the producers of the show to finish it off and she was of great help. That I appreciate as I learnt a lot from her.

Now, I remember at the end of scripting the whole package as I sat there with her, there was a sentence which stated this report was compiled by Belinda Otas. I was not paid to work on this. It was my idea and I remember the senior editor had asked; are you happy for us to use your idea? Yes I was. I also asked him about the role I would play and he gave a few. So, I told him, I would think about it, sent him an email that I would like to research and set-up the interviews and let one of their producers edit as they use a different system to what I normally know use.

However, another producer was so kind to show me the ropes and some shortcuts. Please, don't get me wrong, I know every one is busy and I appreciate the input and time from those who gave me a hand or two and the studio manager who also gave me hand.

At the end, I knew a thing or two about SADIE, the editing system they use. I had learnt within a few days to use an editing software I had only ever heard of.
I am not one for mentioning names but there were two gentlemen who were good to me and I appreciate that.

It was over and done with and everyone talked about the fact that it was good. However and as with all things, change is inevitable. Something had come up and they moved the broadcast date forward. I got a call about it, was even asked a question or two. Heard the new cue and I have to say, it sounded okay with one or two exceptions. Which I pointed out and even sent an email, to clarify.

Anyhow, listened to it last night, the meaning in my ears had changed. Yes, the clips I had cut were still there...the people I interviewed and a few new clips added which I knew nothing about.

I know change is inevitable but this is it. The Entertainment Company that supplied a few movie clips was acknowledged. It would have been nice for someone to acknowledge my work too considering it had been written into the script in the first instance and I saw it. I spent almost four weeks working on this package. Money was never an issue for me but my time is precious and I appreciate when that is appreciated.

I am not asking for a pat on the back, I am not asking for plaudits or accolades. Just some acknowledgement of my time would have been good and fair enough. I have also learnt my lesson, next time raise the subject even if no one does.

Yes, these things happen and we have to deal with tem. But I also know I won't do anyone any good by pretending to be less than I am. I worked on this project and that to me deserved a mention. If you had it at the end of the script we had worked on together, why did you decide to take it out and make the work seem like it was conceived by another and done by another?

All the same, I refuse to be bitter, such is life and I am better than that. I will go on and keep doing what love doing. What’s really ironic is the fact that this has happened twice in a row. The first being a feature I wrote on similar subject and now the radio package but hey, it’s all good. Act a fool though you know you are not one.

While it sounds contradictory, I am grateful for the fact that working on this project means someone knows my work and what I am capable off. It has opened other doors for me. And no one can ever take that way from me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Power Of Your Mind. Part 1

How do you feel about your present situation? I can tell you that I don't like a thing or two about life right now but I am so grateful to be alive. Grateful because I have another chance to change what I don't like. There are different elements that bring change into being but the most powerful ingredient to making it happen is the fact that you must make up your mind. This cannot go on. Not on my watch.

Now I sound like some motivational speaker right? Well excuse me but the last time I checked if you don't motivate yourself to making your life happen, I got news for you, no one will. You have to make those decisions even if no one agrees with them.

I am sure you know realise the power of your own mind. The power to make your life what you want it to be is in your hands. The power to draw that canvass you came up with as a child about the picture of your life is in your hands and it starts in your mind.

The only thing that will change the situation you are in is you changing your mind about it. If you decide, that's it; I don't want to so this starts with you making up your mind to give it up.

An addiction, a relationship, change of career, going back to all starts with you making up your mind.

Your life’s trajectory is determined by the power of your mind. The pictures and stories you tell yourself about your life.

I am going to stop preaching at you but I want you to know I didn't write this because I wanted to tell you about changing your mind. I wrote it because I have just changed my mind. I have said it out loud, mediocrity is not an option. I changed my mind. My life is worth more than average. I refuse to be lukewarm but I chose to get up and get on with life.

Knowing that whatever comes my way, I have the most powerful deposit of creativity in the world... My Mind to make life the best it can be.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Andry Rajoelina is a disgrace to the process of democracy...

Andry Rajoelina is a disgrace to the process of democracy. Oh, oh, how dare she say that? Well, I just did. Get over it.

I'm not one for politics, my father hates it and my mother...she has a passionate hatred for it. But my uncle is a politician. I guess it is not so bad at the end of the day.

Back to this rat...Rajoelina...yes I did it again. He may have a point that President Marc Ravalomanana was a dictator and misspent public money but abusing the process of democracy does not make you the right man to lead the people. I know you don't need a Degree or a Masters or a BSC, PHD, PGDIP...and all the degrees and Fahrenheit’s Africa has as far as the weather is concerned to become a president. But I have a passionate dislike for people who are disrespectful. And when I say disrespect… I mean every form and type of disrespect; from disrespecting your elders to disrespecting authority. I cannot stand it. It makes me angry when an irritating jokey thinks that because he has money and the army behind him, that makes it okay to do as he pleases. Yes… he has the support of the people but how long will that last? Take it from me, I lived under dictators throughout my childhood…when you don’t deliver, they are going to hate your guts and wish death on you and your family.

I don’t deny Ravalomanana could have done things differently but he was elected and if you were so desperate for power, why not go to a referendum and do it the right way? As far as I am concerned, Rajoelina took democracy back by 10 years in Madagascar. African nations have been trying hard to do right in recent years where democracy is concerned. They don’t always get it right but they are making efforts and when a joker like this silly little boy who is still in diapers thinks he is ready to rule pulls a stunt like this…it makes my blood boil.

If you were not so power hungry, why wait two years for an election? Rajoelina has an agenda and it is a personal one. Not one for the people but one to prove a point to Ravalomanana who is in control. I guess you did just that little boy.

No one has said anything about the fact that Ravalomanana’s daughter was once in a relationship with Rajoelina. Ravalomanana did not agree with it and it ended. It is also a case where Rajoelian was once in Ravalomanana’s inner circle and can do the dirt on him. This political battle is more than a political battle. It is a personal feud between David and Goliath and it looks like this David won though he is not God sent. This David needs to grow up because he is about to find out that being a president will make you age so fast you will not know what hit you.

I must say, you live by the sword… you die by the sword. Ravalomanana may be gone and Rajoelina is in power but I won’t shed a tear if one of the army officers decides to put a b****t to his head tomorrow. It has been known to happen before. Ask Samuel Doe, his own people gave him up. Charles Taylor thought he was clean and clear but they gave him up also. You can’t dine with the devil and decide to eat from afar. When you take up the invitation, you get close and enjoy dinner. Welcome to the table Rajoelina because you are about to find out that being a president is not for little boys.

I may not know you personally, pretty sure you are sweet…got a lot of charisma, you had better be able to spin the right tune or very soon…sooner than you think, you will be out on your ear and while I don’t wish you evil. I get the funny feeling that your end will be worse that than of Ravalomanana and his predecessor. Ask Sani Abacha, he died like a dog and people were on the streets rejoicing. Thank goodness I am not one of his children who witnessed people in jubilation over the death of their father. Not because they cared or loved him but because they hated the little b****d. Ask Ravalomanana, he took power from the president while he was mayor and the same has been done to him… goes to show that what goes around doers come round. Cliché, but that’s life. Deal with it because it is about to deal with you.

I can’t wait for this joker to find out that charisma or being a charismatic leader does not feed hungry men or desperate ones at that. Get ready Rajoelina, the dance is about to start. While I really dislike you for the role you played in this drama that has danced out on the world stage like the Brazilian samba…one that contributed to the death of innocent people; I would like to wish you luck because you are going to need it.

Andry Rajoelina may be talking about constitutional change and making things better...great but that does not make it right. Malagasy law says the head of parliament's upper house should take over after a president resigns and organises an election within two months. But Rajoelina is saying elections within two years. According to a legal document obtained by AFP news agency, the constitutional court "proclaims that Mr Andry Rajoelina exercises the attributions of the president of the Republic as stated by the provisions of the constitution". The disorder has already started...things are being done to suite Rajoelina. Isn’t that the making of a dictator????

It is only in Africa that people will pull stunts like this…of course they have their South American counterparts to compete with when it comes to political uncertainty.

The situation in Madagascar has done nothing but bring attention to the depth of disunity on the continent. When fellow country men turn against each and it is perpetuated through generations in the land. This is a cycle that must be broken when people change their mindset and we need to do it now.

The Curse of Oil In The Niger Delta

While it is really sad, I would like to ask and please feel free to disagree...why is it that almost anywhere in the world, a community of black people is characterised with disorder, crime and disunity? If we are honest with ourselves, the atrocities we commit against each other are worse than the ones we blame the West or anyone else for.

The news stories from the Niger Delta either give you the chills or make you wonder what in the world is going on down there??

I have read a few that brought tears to my eyes. The murder of a young girl as she tried to save her brother from getting kidnapped made me so angry.

But when I read this: Nigerian militants 'rape women'

I felt sick in my stomach. Oil has given Saudi Arabia great wealth but Nigeria, hell no, it is the basis upon which evil has flourished. A country which could easily count for being one of the richest in the world, yet it is home to some of the poorest people in the world.

I am ever so proud to call Nigeria home but when incidents as distressing as this one come to my attention, it makes me wonder... what if there was no oil? Would The Niger Delta be better off? Would things be different? Would it make any difference at all??

I can ask every question in my bone but I know there are no answers out there.

I believe this man captures it best when he vents his anger about the day they discovered oil in the Niger Delta. The day oil was discovered in Nigeria

Despite the wealth of the nation, the people who own the land and live in the area are yet to see a kobo of the Naira that flows into the country let alone a sign of the dollar with which Nigeria trades in oil. It is a low down dirty shame that they have been systematically raped and no one gives a care in the world.