The inequality in Gender Equality: A simply case of “Ladies First”

Gender inequality is as old as time itself and although great effort has been exerted over the decades to end, or at least minimize it, there exists subtle nuances that underscore its presence. I don’t want to go in-depth in to the literature of gender bias, quite frankly I haven’t got the time and plus I believe I can still make a compelling case even without literal back up. There are certain social conventions that have been ingrained in the minds of people which are supposed to engender equality among the sexes, but sometimes the very nature of them makes you wonder if their purpose is in tandem with intrinsic meaning.

Some might argue that gender equality has been greatly diminished and that we currently live in a society of greater freedom for women. On the surface of it, it might appear so because we see more women in the workforce, more women in leadership roles, for one thing; women in America at least can now vote. From an aerial view all seems to be at place, but the truth is that much like other problems that challenges the human race, gender inequality has evolved alongside the species. This evolution has also meant that the way it is perpetuated has also evolved as well, that its current state of sophistication makes it that much harder to detect.

There is a phrase that is very pervasive in human social interaction, especially interactions involving both sexes. This phase is seen as sign of respect and decorum that is “ought” to be accorded by one sex to the other. That phrase is “Ladies First.”

I have often said this phrase without giving it much thought, because like I said it is what is expected of you as a respectable member of any civil society where people have mutual respect for each other. Recently though I was somewhat accosted for not obliging with the usual “Ladies First” when I was at a door.

This got me thinking, when men say “Ladies first” to a lady is it because they see her as an equal (hence gender equality) or do they see her as a lesser being that needs to be given an advantage to progress for fear of being trumped? Men are naturally very competitive animals and when you want him to see another creature as an equal in competition, it doesn’t help to make him give that “competitor” an advantage. This is because then you have made him to see that creature as obviously being weak in some regard therefore needing to be given support to come to par with him in competition. It is very easy to say “Ladies First”, but then it is hard to see beneath the surface to catch a glimpse of what is really happening.

My hope isn’t to come-off as chauvinistic or anything of that nature, but I just would like people to think carefully about certain social conventions and see if they truly mean what they stand for. As an educated individual your number one priority is to challenge statics or dogmas as they come your way. The aim isn’t to win arguments or shove agendas in peoples face, on the contrary I would like to be intelligently challenged in ways that would give me a better understanding and if possible change my own views in some way.

(This is one of the things I was most scared of doing, writing a piece that might come off chauvinistic Frightening )

CONTROL?

Over the years, as early as when I could clearly understand the language of humans; I have been rather fascinated by the notion of control. That urge to want to direct the path/course of movement or progression of a thing or person or whatever the case maybe. You can either be on the receiving end of the brunt of control or on the exerting end. There are billions of people who fervently support the idea of control; some have even gone to make huge thriving careers from teaching people how to be in control. As much as I would like to subscribe to the idea that there are people who are in control of everything, and some who go the extra mile to forcefully exert this control on people and things ( hence the term “control freak”), I have to know: are those people really in control?

Every year a ton of people are admitted into business schools with the aim of mastering CONTROL. Firstly, in business and then in other facets of life. Some of them emerge with success others maybe not so much, but really who can truly say that they are in control of everything around them? The human body for one has a natural process which resumes work at birth and is retired at death. We age regardless of how much money we own and put towards fads that pummel us with vain hope of being young forever. But the really wise ones know that this is absolutely ridiculous. It has always been my personal belief that the Plastic Surgery Industry will completely collapse if all the “control freaks” suddenly all died. Think about it, which type of woman is more likely to want to go under the knife to pull together the loose skin around her abdominal area? I will tell you who she isn’t. She isn’t the confident woman who understanding the biology of child bearing and knows that the expansion of the abdominal is a natural occurring incident in child bearing which cannot be stopped. It is the overly controlling woman who wants to cajole her body into looking like it has never been through the joyful ordeal of child bearing.

Some might argue that such a woman is driven mostly by Low Self-esteem. As tempting as that suggestion might be, I think not completely. I think being over controlling breeds Low Self-esteem when the individual in question is met with the harsh reality that some things are just out of their scope of control.

Humans are born with varying degrees of control, which explains why even the meekest of individuals can at least direct where the steps taken by the feet leads him to. If there is anything to be learned from the lives of wealth and successful people who have gained for themselves, for the most part, the luxuries of life which everyone clamors for is that control isn’t really the purpose of life. I watched an interview of Tom Ford the designer where he talked about the making of his movie “The Single Man”. He had just left Gucci when he was struck by this feeling of emptiness. He began to think about his life, where he had been and where he was headed and then it dawned on him that he was having a mid-life crisis. I believe he defined mid-life crisis as “placing a ladder on a wall, climbing it to the top only to get to the peak and realize that you had the ladder on the wrong wall the whole time” or something like that. Tom Ford had been in “control” of everything as he said, raising from the bottom to becoming the Creative Director at Gucci one of the biggest brands in the fashion business. But was it enough? Upon leaving the job, he was quick to realize how fleeting it all was. He realized that even though he had manage to control and steer his life and career in the path it went, he could not shake the way he was feeling. It’s like youth. Youth is beautiful, it is sexy it is hypnotizing, it is strong, but ultimately it is fleeting. And as much as we try to control its tenor, it eventually fades and withers-off.

We as a people are not in control of everything as most have deluded themselves into thinking. We are in control of few things, but for the most part we are left to chance as a being. For example, you choose to eat a loaf of bread (In our control), and then our digestive system takes over and begins to extract what it needs from the bread and tossing the unwanted ones out (Out of our control). We cannot control what the digestive system picks up or what it throws away. All we want to achieve is the feeling of being fed and how this is done internally shouldn’t really bother us.

I think that as an individual, the ultimate purpose is to apply the utmost wisdom and care in making the decisions in our control and hoping optimistically that the rest will go as we have occasioned in our minds. It is the reason why the religious pray.

Towards the end of the Interview, Tom Ford continued to emphasize a certain point. “Nothing, nothing lasts, that the beauty of it all” was what he said and I could not agree with him more. If we can be patient enough to let ourselves comprehend the point that Nothing Lasts, then we can see how pointless it is to try and control everything.

LIFE

Necktie: Fashion Accessory Or Suffocation Device?

Necktie

Most people will see the picture above and think very beautiful thoughts about how fine those pieces of fabric look and possibly how fantastic they would look with some fabulous shirt that they have in their closet. But I am not one of those people. When I see a necktie I sort of cringe and recline into my mental shell. The picture above has about the same effect on me as a large red cape would have on a bull at a bullfighting event.

I work in Investment Banking, one of the few careers where a necktie is necessary if not completely mandatory. A necktie can make you look really sharp and smart and project the image of seriousness and immense dignity to an onlooker. But it can also make you look terribly out of place, if worn improperly, and downright uncomfortable.

Before starting this blog post I typed in to the Google search engine “History of tie” and then it corrected me and offered “History of Necktie” as a suggestion, which I took. And immediately I felt this brief familiar sense of being overpowered. Almost like I can’t even be allowed to ask the way I want to ask a question. Like Google had to snatch the question from me and ask it in a more “proper” way. It is this same feeling of being overpowered that I feel when I wear a necktie. I have always been told by a great deal of people that wearing a tie makes you feel confident even when you feel down, and that it exudes a certain level of masculinity that is very essential to a man. Unfortunately I can’t say that I share in these sentiments as detailed above. To be a total anomaly, I find that I work at my utmost best when my tie is off. I feel more at ease and alive.

When I am dressed up in my tie and shirt to work, some people are kind enough to applaud how smart and studious I look. But I don’t feel that way. For one thing when I wear a necktie, I feel like I am being choked by my own self, and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s the reason why my commute to work is one of the most liberating times of the day simply because I hardly, actually never put on my necktie. I don’t even put on my formal shirt; I just wear a casual round neck shirt. I would be happy to tell you of some childhood story of how I was almost choked to death, and how it explains this deep phobia I have for tying tightly a piece of fabric around my neck. I, sadly, have no such story to tell. On more than one occasion I have purposely left my necktie at home, or even in the car, and then pretend to be oblivious to the fact that I did not have it on. One very few occasions, I genuinely forgot to take it along with me from the house.

I so desperately envy my friends who work in IT or Oil companies, not because of the money (sometimes for the money though), but because of the rather casual (and smart) approach to apparel they have going for them. So then I guess my real question is; is a necktie really a fashion accessory, or is it just an uncomfortable addendum to the formal look?

It is said that fashion is an expression of the inner creative mind of an individual, both from a designer and consumer point of view. Fashion is supposed to help us celebrate our individuality and accentuate our eccentricities. I am not much of a “fashionista” in the real material sense of the word. For me comfort is the key thing in consideration. And I hate to wear fashion that topples my personality. I don’t like to wear clothes that scream louder that I can, in fact the quieter the better. So I guess to an extent that might explain why I am so averse to the idea of neckties.

If I were ever lucky enough to own/run a bank, one of my first points of call will be to liberalize the choice of wearing neckties in the office.

P.S

I hope my boss doesn’t actually get to ready this. This is one of the many warring thoughts in my head that are too afraid to make their way out of my vocal cavity…lol

Writing Challenge

How Much Do “Ivy Leagues” Figure?

As someone who just recently went through the daunting process of Grad School application (and succeeded, I might add), the whole experience got me thinking. Is it the school that makes the students, or the students make the school?

Most of the schools regarded as “Ivy-League” get tonnes of applications from students every year, which in turn gives them the privilege of picking the brightest and best students before any other school does. So when I see that students from those “Ivy-League” schools test better on standardized tests and tend to get employed faster than others, the question nags me; is it really the school who is to be thanked or the individual students themselves? “Ivy-League” schools pride themselves on having the best faculty and resources etc. but I hardly think that is the real reason for the success of such schools. If you ask me, I think that such schools already have half or more of their jobs (educating) already done for them. If an “Ivy-League” school really wants to prove to me that it has got the best of the best when it comes to faculties and other resources, let it go ahead and pick up the average Joe and make him a superstar in the eyes of employers and then I would start to believe them somewhat.

Just a thought.

Sight As A Burden

“Be Blind To Be Focused”

That was the concluding remark made by Cobhams Asuquo in the speech he gave at the TEDxEuston Conference. To better appreciate this bog post I strongly recommend that you watch this video of Cobhams giving the speech at the event.

VIDEO:

The sense of sight is one of the five most important senses for humans and many other creatures. The human senses are fed by stimuli from the surrounding environment, transmitted via sensory organs of the body. Arguably most of our perceptions about people, places and things are formed largely from the data our brain processes from information received from sensory organs. I could go on about sensory organs and messages but the focus of this piece is on the sense of sight.

While listening to Cobhams speak I could see his visionless eyes roll around in their sockets as his finger stroked the paper with Braille inscriptions placed before him. In that moment the saying “you never know the value of what you have until you lose it” flashed in my mind. As a person with all my sensory organs in relatively good working condition, it dawned on me how easy it is to become jaded about the importance of sight. As he went on with his speech I began to think to myself how different my life would be if I were blind. Would I have graduated? Let alone get a job? Or even be able to write this blog post. It is true that modern technology has done its very best, and still is, in including people of various handicaps into the rest of the society. These days we have blind poets and writers, lame drivers etc. That notwithstanding, I could not help but ponder the implications of what he said. BE BLIND TO BE FOCUSED. Throughout his speech I kept looking out for something, something I am a bit embarrassed to admit. What I was seeking to seeing in him was discontent/jealousy, stemming from the fact that he was in a room with non-blind people, but he spoke with such confidence and vigor that I began to wonder if I was indeed better off with sight.

Back in school we were told things like “keep your eyes on the ball” and many other motivational sentences. But on further inspection of that saying, coupled with the words from Cobhams it’s easy to see that it’s our “Mind” and not our “Eyes” that needs to be on the ball. Every day we walk out of our house, we are pulverized by a slew of stimuli from the outdoors. Various things to see, hear, feel, etc. it is very easy to get distracted. The struggle to stay focused is even harder if you live in a cosmopolitan city like New York, London or even Lagos. A couple of times I have missed my bus stop because I was engrossed in admiring a building or typing away on my iPad or blackberry. Sometimes when I go shopping for just one item, I would emerge from the store with three items, none of which is the one original item I initially went in for or even remotely close. It happens to best of us all the time. So Cobhams might be right after all, you need to be blind to every other thing around you in order that you archive your set goal. Another example is one from a story my dad once told me. One of his senior brothers was on the greedy side and was constantly looking for ways to outmaneuver his friends and siblings to get some of their own things. One day a visitor was on his way out of the house and decided to show generosity towards the kids.  The man gave my dad a big sized coin (I can’t remember the denominations, but shillings and penny were involved) and then gave my uncle a smaller sized coin. I was told that, my uncle, on realizing the difference in sizes began to fight and cry, demanding that he be given a bigger sized coin as well. This was done promptly. But it is important to note that the small sized coin was said to have been worth two times the value of the big coin. Had he been “blind” to the size he would have had gotten more money.

After much consideration and thought, I cannot help but concur with Mr. Cobhams on this one. There are many more examples I can give here, but I would just end up with a really long post and nobody wants that. Sometimes we need to “blind” ourselves in order that we get a clearer visual of what our goal ought to be.

STAY BLIND, STAY FOCUSED. 

MORALITY PLAY: EVOLUTIONARY NATURE OF MORALITY

DAILY PROMPT : Where do your morals come from?

When I think of sources of morals, I think of personal guidelines that have been fed by different sources as the person develops from child to adult. When we are born our first contacts are our parents and so for much of our childhood what we deem to be right or wrong is to a very large extent defined by the influence we get from the lifestyle of our parents. Given that the first experiences (in anything; think sex; think school; think travelling, pretty much everything) tend to be the one that stick with us longer, and so it is not hard to see why most people would conclude that the ultimate source of morality is from the parents (home). This is partially true.

As a teen when you get into High School you have a natural tendency to want to “belong”. In a bid to fit in with the “cool kids” you tend let go of some of those morals (usually stringent ones) that you have imbibed from home and tweak and adjust them to suit your purpose. For instance your parents must have told you that you have to be at least 18 or 21 before you have sex. On getting to school, you find out that the “cool kids” have already had sexual experiences. With this realization you begin to rethink those morals from home and before you know it you are 14 and your girl friend is already pregnant.

The point I was trying to make in the previous paragraph is that even though we may have picked up our morals from our parents, the church or another source, it get diluted by the people and things that we experience along the way.

I like to think of morality as an ever evolving subject in a person’s life. As we grow in life we are faced constantly with experiences that challenge our morals and cause us to shift ground most times, even though we might not admit to it. A person’s morality is like technology, today it seems like the best and it gets most of the problems solved, but tomorrow we are going to be faced with a different set of challenges that causes us to have a rethink about our position. Let me give another personal example that helps to buttress the evolutionary nature of morality. When I was a kid in High School, my parents led me to believe that smoking cigarettes was a completely immoral thing to do. At the time I did not ask any questions I took my parents word as being right, and given that they were older than I was with more life experiences than I had, they had to be right. When I got into the university I met a couple of people who I became good friends with. These people were smokers. Initially when I found out they were smokers it triggered an alarm in me (SMOKING = BAD, you need to run), but I did not run. I stayed back. Why did I stay back?

As I began to learn more about my new friends over the course of our freshman year, I found out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with these people. They excelled in their academics just like me (or in some cases better than me), they were trustworthy, respectful people. They had personal issues just like another breathing human being. Nothing about them stood out particularly except that they like to sometimes inhale thick smoke. Seeing them made me rethink what I had been told by my parents. I could not find any evidence in them to justify the title of “immoral” that my parents had branded smokers.

In essence I think morality is EVOLUTIONARY (every changing and growing as we develop) as opposed to being STATIONARY (coming from a single unchangeable source).

MY “TWO-CENTS” ON ABORTION

Daily Prompt: A House Divided I decided to take a side that most wouldn’t 

 

These days the media has been saturated by a tonne of debates surrounding the rightness/Wrongness of abortion. Both sides have brought forward credible points to back their claim as to the legitimacy of the act of committing abortion. But I don’t think that the Propriety of abortion is as black and white as some have purported it to be.

To start things of I would like to disclose the nature of my own fundamental views, because I realize that my fundamentals play a very active role in crafting my opinion of the issues of life. I am a Liberalist by nature. I believe in letting people fashion out their own rules and regulations in life. I also believe that as much as people want to accentuate their individuality they should also apply an appreciable level of discretion in order not to infringe on the existence of others. I also believe in the “Golden Mean” by Aristotle which postulates essentially that people should try to avoid extremes in every situation. For instance it is said that courage is the mid-point between two extremes, Cowardice (low limit) and Recklessness (upper limit). In a nutshell, I support freedom of the people as a singular unit and also the protection of people as a collective unit, Hence the need to be discrete about our own actions and how they affect others.

The most popular point I have heard against abortion is that life begins when the eggs are fertilized by the sperm, and thus the abortion of a fetus whether fully/partially formed is murder and axiomatically wrong. Another interesting point I have come across is that unborn children have emotions, much like their born counterparts, and that killing a being with emotion is wrong. Of course there is also the religious angle which blatantly denounced the act without any reservations. There are a multitude of points that have been raised against abortion for as long as this debate has been on. These are all cogent points, but I feel as though the freedom of choice of the individual (The mother in question) is overlooked in all of this. Most of the points raised against abortion all focus more on the baby and very little attention is paid to the welfare of the mother involved. What about her opinion on the issue? I mean, she is going to end up bearing the task of carrying the child for the entire gestation period, go thru the daunting pains of child birth and, more often than not, carry the cross when it comes to the child’s development. I don’t want to seem callous to people on the opposite side of the table, but shouldn’t the opinion of the mother (who wants abortion) count significantly?

When I was growing up my dad used to play one particular Jimmy Cliff Album a lot. I used to hate it so much that whenever we got into the car I would immediately put on my ear phones so I could not hear the songs. But the annoying thing was that because I usually sat at the extreme right of the back seat right in front of the speakers, the song would still make its way into my ear in the slightest way. One day I decided to take off my head phones to listen and I heard this song “Who Feels It, Knows It”. I was about eight at the time and did not really understand the lyrics. But as I grew older the true meaning began to sink in. Unless you have experienced a certain situation/thing, you can never really appreciate it for all that it is. If you have never been pregnant, there is not pregnancy book, podcast, or seminar that will give you a proper sense of what is involved. Only a cancer patient call tell you what chemotherapy is about, no book can give you the raw emotion that are experienced by the patients.

If freedom of the individual is a given, then a woman should be free to abort a baby if she so wishes. Some might want to further probe the intentions behind an abortion decision, but that would further complicate the issue and would lead to the infringement on human freedom to choose.

As Christians we are told not to judge, and that we should leave that task to the “higher Authority”.  I am quite certain that other religions also have such provisions like this one. So if we know this why do we bother ourselves with a task that is not ours.

If you feel that abortion is entirely wrong, as strongly as you feel opposed to it, leave the task of “retribution” to the “higher authority” to handle. In such a complicated and cosmopolitan world that we live in today, everyone is some way is committing an atrocity to the “higher authority” no matter how small or insignificant we may think it is. It is only fair that we keep our judgments to ourselves.

Let Us Live And Let Live.

How The Search For The Dead Rat Turned Into A Full-Blown “Feng Shui Attack”

So this morning we walk into the office and we are immediately greeted with the tedious, nauseating and horrid smell which resembles that of a dead rodent (e.g. rat). What could it be? Where could it be coming from? As I walked further into the office towards my desk, this odor was becoming more intense. I thought to myself “this is a very terrible way to start the week”. Joined by my equally irritated colleague we began (Mission: Find The Dead Rat). It started calmly; checking file cabinets, underneath tables, behind air-conditioning units (and even inside them as well), soon it snowballed into a full on “Feng Shui Attack”. At this point we were emptying our entire drawers and reorganizing, throwing out old table calendars and exhausted note-pads. We got so engrossed in this that we actually stopped looking for the rat and focused more on re-organizing. When we were done, we sat back on our seats, slightly tired out by the mini-marathon cleaning we had just engaged ourselves in. At this point we realized that the dead rat was still at large. Fueled by the Bible teaching that says “we should ask, and we shall be given”, and in a last resort form I said: “I hope the lord will lead me to the place where this rat would be”.

We settled down to work. This was obviously made impossible by the rather imposing stench of the dead rat. About five minutes later after giving up on the search, I was hit by another “Feng Shui Attack”. This time around I made sure that this energy was channeled solely on finding the rat. Bolstered by the small file drawer, I started to venture into the roof region. I figured if we can’t find it down, the only other logical place to look would have to be up. I started to shift those roof tiles one by one (you know those ones that act as a buffer between the actual roof and the room itself). While all of this was going on, we kept going to bathroom to spit out intermittently like pregnant women laden by morning sickness. I don’t think any of us had ever experienced such torture. In fact the last time I experienced something similar was when a neighbor of ours came over to our house to visit, and while she was there the baby needed a change. The smell was achingly overwhelming, the good thing about that situation compared to this one was that I had the option of leaving the house and going over to a friend’s place (obviously to one where there were no infants in sight).

After a couple of futile attempts searching the roof, I called in the help of our security guard. He got on the drawer and started to search as well. I was down, giving him direction based on the intensity of the smell I perceived for every tile he moved. (I am sure you must be wondering why I was doing this given that he was right up there with his own nose to work with, but the thing is that I believe the guy may have mild anosmia or something. He kept telling me that he could only smell burning wire. I was puzzled by this, because I could not reconcile how “burning wire” could have a similar odor to “dead rat. Or maybe my own sense of smell was quite keener than he’s given the agitation). A little while later I noticed a yellowish/greenish patch on one of the tiles we had not inspected. I thought to myself this must be it. I immediately summoned him to move the tile and behold, there it was in all its dead and smelly glory the reason for our attack, dripping with eager maggots, cloaked in the most nauseous of scents. It was disgusting. I almost threw up.

Ok now I have just realized that someone might have started reading this in order to get some perspective on how to find an elusive dead rat. I apologize for truancy with respect to your need for knowledge. Well I guess the only advice I can give is that you should really keep your living area quite “spacey” (I need to clarify the meaning of that word in this context. When I say “spacey” I mean keeping an area uncluttered so it’s easier to search for “hard to find” things). Also if it ain’t down on the floor, search the roof.

Have a good week everyone. I hope your week started up better than mine (on a less smelly note, that is).

Heaven And Hell As I Think It

Daily Prompt: Drawing a Blank

“When was the last time your walked away from a discussion, only to think of The Perfect Comeback hours later? Recreate the scene for us, and use your winning line.”

This is a comeback for two conversations I had at some point, one about world end and the other about sexuality. This was published back in Dec 2012

We have been informed by the Mayan calendar that the world would come to an end today, December 21, 2012, which I took with the proverbial grain of salt. But to be clear I don’t believe that any human on earth can accurately predict when the world would come to an end. Human civilization has constantly evolved over centuries and technological advancement has followed in the same vein. We can now predict the simple ones like rain and the tough ones like hurricanes, earthquakes etc.  But are we there as to be able to accurately determining our apocalypse? I think not. Don’t ask me how I know this, because I can’t really explain it. All we can do is to keep guessing.  I was watching this show recently “Doomsdays Preppers” and it made me laugh profusely. I just thought it was ridiculous that people were actually preparing for the end of life. It just did not make any sense to me. It’s not like getting ready to travel to your hometown, putting toothbrush, shoes, clothes etc together. Do we really know what will be needed when the end comes? Again I think not.

All this talk about world end has got me thinking about heaven and hell. I was born into a somewhat strict catholic household, so the idea of heaven and hell, good and bad was embedded in me very early. It was simple, Do good things: you go to heaven. Do bad things: you go to hell. At the age of five it seemed like a very straight forward and easy rule to follow, the line between good and bad was made very apparent, it appeared quite clear at the time. But as I grew older and got exposed to the complexities of the human existence, it dawned on me that this moral line of good and bad was actually more blurred than I ever imagined. Certain things that I was taught as being good were considered as taboo by other people (e.g. eating pork meat was good, but my Muslim friends were taught that Pigs were dirty animals and should not be eaten).  And certain things I was brought up to write-off as bad were in fact not so bad after all (Homosexuality has always and still is described as the worst thing that can ever happen to you). Still on the issue of homosexuality, when I was growing up, I was taught that homosexuals are spawns of the devil and that they never succeed in life because of the path they have chosen. First off, I have come to learn that sexual orientation is not something a human being gets to pick, like choosing teams during soccer practice. Second is that I have seen a couple of people who are gay and their lives are pretty great. They have good jobs, pay their taxes, live in comfortable houses, have kids (and responsible ones might I add), generally they live like any other heterosexual would. It doesn’t seem to me like they are suffering any type of punishment. In fact the only punishment that they suffer is the one meted out to them by heterosexuals. Living in such a world with a plethora of moral complexities how do we know exactly what takes you to heaven and what takes you to hell?

Usually when people want to refer to the location of heaven, they would point in the upward direction and hell to the downward direction. But is this really the truth? Again I think not. With the privilege of an enlightening western educational background, I know that above the different layers of the sky as we know it, troposphere, mesosphere etc, it is just space. Just free flowing, gravity-less space. And the last time I checked, no Astronaut came back to earth with enough evidence to show that there is a “God” out there in space. Now turning downward, that’s just the earth’s core. Much like space, it is most likely not habited by any spiritual being. But given the normative definition of hell that we have been taught (a place beaming with heat) it is not hard to see why people consider the earth’s core as hell; this is because the temperature of the core is almost equitable to that of the surface of the sun.

My idea of heaven is a place (note: when I say place, I don’t mean a physical location, I am referring to a magical transcendental state) of eternal rest after our struggles here on earth. A place where you just sleep forever and the only time you are active is in your dreams (beautiful dreams). It’s like the reverse of being brain dead, your body is dead but your head is very well active. Many people might not agree with my own idea of heaven, and I do apologize if you find this description of heaven offensive, but that is the way heaven appears in my head when I think about it.

Like I mentioned earlier, this state of moral confusion in which we have found ourselves makes me wonder if the path to heaven or hell is really that black and white. The bible says thou shall not kill. We humans have translated this law to only cover our fellow humans, leaving out the animals. Which begs the question: is it a sin to kill animals for meat? According to the same bible God created all animals and trees and essentially everything around us, and liked them and was quite happy with what had been created. So when you kill a cow to serve as a protein source for yourself and family, is it a sin? Bear in mind that Animals have a mind of their own, they have blood running through their veins, they feel pain and to an extent they are quite capable of exhibiting emotion. These are all attributes that humans also have, so what justifies killing an animal? The answer to this question holds in itself the true nature of the path to heaven or hell.

At the risk of bordering on the “Moral relativism” or even the blasphemous path, I dare to say that there are more ways to heaven than we think. Believe it or not we live our lives in one way or another that is not worthy of heaven in the normative sense. Even those who think they are living a totally pure life (the clergy included) are in fact in the littlest ways living in sin. Going by the staunch prescriptions of most religions, we are all living in sin, and we are all to perish in hell as retribution for all the atrocities we have committed here on earth. But I refuse to believe that “God” is that punitive in his ways as to condemn every person on earth to eternal misery. “God” as I realized on my own, is a lot more forgiving and merciful than we think.  I believe that everyone’s transcendental faith is carefully considered on a less draconian basis. I would not be surprised if it turns out that a man like Gaddafi (Late Dictator leader of Libya, in Northern Africa) might end up in heaven even after all the atrocities he has committed here on earth, and not hell according to public opinion. In a grander scenario, we might all get some type of “global pardon” and all will be let into heaven regardless of the past.

Shhhh….Quiet Please, It’s Over Already.

To everyone who just wrote a paper or two in the just concluded ACCA (Association Of Chartered Certified Accountants) December examination session, I wish you guys all the best and hope that all those months of studying and attending long boring lectures pays-off good. The ACCA syllabus is usually so broad that studying for an examination ensures that your social life and even your personal life are crushed to the barest minimum during the time being. ACCA is like a jealous girlfriend that consumes all your attention with no recourse, she makes sure you don’t have time for your friends let alone other girls. Which is why during this brief period while she is back at her parents’ house (Aka…while papers are being graded) you should do yourself a world of good by tearing things up. Go clubbing, catch up on the TV shows you missed, essentially everything you would normally not have time for while studying.

As tough as the ACCA examination can be to deal with, one thing or should I say one set of people that are even tougher to deal with are those people who always want to compare notes immediately after the examination. Usually when the invigilator gives the instruction for everyone to leave the hall, you will spot them as the ones who are quicker than most to make their way through the rows.  They are the ones who seem like they are almost running towards the door, you would think they are rushing for another paper or something, unfortunately they aren’t. Why are they rushing? They want to go out early enough to trap people and cajole them into talking about the paper. One time I saw a guy waiting anxiously at the door, he looked like an artiste at the Grammys waiting to be called up the stage for an award. Immediately he saw these two guys, apparently he must have known them previously; he yanked them off the crowd to the corner, and the first question was “guys…how did you solve the number 4 section B question?” when I go further out of the hall, I encounter further small and large groups of people all doing the same thing, talking about an examination that already ended. And I wonder to myself, are these people masochists?

At this point I am sure you would be wondering what exactly my point is. My point is that I believe it to be the most foolish act of self-inflicted deprecation to linger around the examination hall discussing about something to which you no longer have the power to impact any change on. Think about this way, you leave the examination hall and immediately join a group of people who are discussing the examination and then you find out from all these talking that you have missed eight of the ten questions you had to answer. How depressing is that? Why not leave the examination, go home have fun for about a month and a half (ACCA timing) without thinking about if the balance sheet you prepared balanced or not? When it comes to examination result, I like to apply the “delayed gratification” psychology in reverse. Delayed gratification involves depriving one’s own self of small immediate gains in hope of greater gains in the future by being patient.

A research done by American psychologist, Walter Mischel, buttresses this point. In an experiment by Walter and his colleagues at Stanford University, they presented four-year-olds with a marshmallow and told the children that they had two options: (A.) ring a bell at any point to summon the experimenter and eat the marshmallow, or (B) wait until the experimenter returned about 15 minutes later, and earn two marshmallows. The results were quite revealing and educative. Mischel found that children were able to wait longer if they used certain “cool” distraction techniques (covering their eyes, hiding under the desk, singing songs, or imagining pretzels instead of the marshmallow in front of them), or if they changed the way they thought about the marshmallow (focusing on its similarity to a cotton ball, rather than on its gooey, delectable taste). The children, who waited longer, when re-evaluated as teenagers and adults, demonstrated a striking array of advantages over their peers. As teenagers, they had higher SAT scores, social competence, self-assuredness and self-worth, and were rated as their parents as more mature, better able to cope with stress, more likely to plan ahead, and more likely to use reason. They were less likely to have conduct disorders or high levels of impulsivity, aggressiveness and hyperactivity. As adults, the high delayers were less likely to have drug problems or other addictive behaviors, get divorced, or get overweight. Each minute that a preschooler was able to delay gratification translated to a .2% reduction in Body Mass Index 30 years later.

Applying “delayed gratification” in reverse to the examination context; it would be more like “delayed mortification”. It’s very simple, going ahead to discuss an already completed examination and finding out that you have failed woefully will make your grief period start earlier than it should, and thus last longer. Because when the results do come out, and now you have factual evidence of your failure, the sadness, depression, anger etc will stretch out further. My advice is, if you finish an examination you should just leave immediately no matter how well or bad you think you have performed. If you are in fact dragged into one of those potentially self-deprecating conversations, try and limit the length of your responses and never give definite ones. Just say things like “it was ok”, “I am hopeful” things like that. This is because if you don’t it can go two ways. The first way is that, you did in fact do very well on the examination and by talking about your answers you make a couple of people sad about their own performance, you might even draw upon yourself some level of hatred for this. The second way is that you did not perform well and by talking with those who have done quite well you feel quite sad and filled with despair. Your self-confidence is majorly battered. So why not delay this impending period of gloom and just have fun for the time being, do the things that make you the most happy, who knows by so doing you might actually be preparing yourself better for the fall. Plus its Christmas, who wants to spoil the holiday spirit by thinking about failure all thru, that’s just insane.

Again I wish everyone around the world who wrote examinations of any kind, not just ACCA, success, and if you do not pass, well the world goes on. After all Abraham Lincoln lost Eight!!!! elections before becoming President of USA. Perseverance is Key.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS PEOPLE.

 

Simple Advice: If you encounter those overtly insistent one just say to them “Shhhh….Quiet Please, It’s Over Already.”

Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots | Story Of An Obliterated Heart.

A friend of mine Bethany recently broke up with her boyfriend, Tim, of five years. They both loved each other so much that they actually tattooed each other’s names on the top right corner of their scapulars. They went on holiday trips together, they both loved to share great moments with each other, Bethany once told me that she was so grateful to have a guy with whom she shared so many great interests. So much more than some married couples even.

Bethany is the only child of her parents. She works at the local animal shelter. It had always been her dream to care for animals and nature in general. Her father died when she was eleven. She never had a real relationship with her dad because he was an abusive drunk, who constantly beat up her mum and her. She told me once that her dad once flogged her mum into a coma with his belt. I don’t really know much about her family background, because she really doesn’t like talking about it. When you look closely at her forehead, the scares of an unloved daughter of a drunk lay bare on her face. Her mother has been her everything, giving her all the support she needs.

Tim is a senior accountant at one of the midsized firms in the city. He has a super furnished apartment and drives the latest cars. He recently bought the new BMW 3 Series. Tim is the second child in a family of doctors, both of his parents are doctors and three out of the five children are almost out of medical school. The last born, Sherry is a teacher at a government high school not too far from the family house. Bethany had met them all, and they absolutely adored her and so did she love them. Bethany was the only girlfriend of Tim that the family had unanimously fallen in love with, she was simply a homerun of a girlfriend. She would go over every other Sunday afternoon to help out with the cooking of the family lunch. It was a tradition that Tim’s father, George, had inherited from his own dad. They would all sit around the table and reflect on how the week went for everyone, and also talk about the plans for the week ahead. They would sometimes all go on road trips in a rented bus. The camaraderie among family members was simply out of this world. Bethany once told me that she felt closer to Tim’s family than even her mother.

Bethany told me about a month ago that she feels Tim was about to propose to her. The way you feel a storm when it is brewing in the distance. She also told me that her friend Sarah had seen him at some point walk into a jewelry store and spent some time perusing the ring collection on display. I was happy for Bethany; at last she would get the happy ending every woman deserves. In some ways she had always been searching for the perfect father figure given her very painful background, and she had found it in Tim. He was a twofer; a great partner and an excellent father figure to her.

One early afternoon, she left the shelter early to go home for a quick nap. She had been complaining about nausea and a chronic headache from some days. We both laughed so hard one day when I told her that she had taken-in for Tim. She told me it was impossible, and that she was waiting until they get married. When she arrived at the apartment she shared with Tim, she noticed that the front door was left slightly ajar. She thought they had been robbed. She proceeded carefully, taking the baseball bat behind the front door with her. As she went further into the apartment, she noticed that Tim’s suit trouser, shirt, shoe, socks, a female blouse, Stiletto shoes among other items were littered on the ground forming a trail leading to the master bedroom. She did not want to jump to any conclusions even when there was ample incriminating evidence to support it. When she finally made her way to the master bedroom door, Beth told me she said a little prayer that it was all some joke. Like one of those TV shows (Punk’ed). Then she went on to ponder the implications of what she might see. She stood in front of the door for about five minutes before opening the door. When she opened the door, she spontaneously threw-up. She could not contain herself, and so she fell to the ground in tears. Apparently Tim was in bed with his new secretary Yvonne Nelson. I had always suspected Tim’s unusual closeness to the lady, but I dare not make this known to Beth. She was one of those “blind in love” kinds of women. She utterly trusted Tim, and never for a second did she think he would ever cheat on her.

Beth eventually ran out of the house screaming with Tim running after her with his boxers barely covering his “privates”. She yelled profanities at him and drove off with rage. Beth laid in bed for about two weeks only getting up to pee. She was completely devastated. The whole ordeal had obliterated her heart. She was crying so much that I feared she might die of dehydration. Tim called countless times and left tonnes of messages on her answering machine and in her email box. But it was obvious she was in no mood to speak with him.

Eventually she got herself together. Went back to work and took up a pottery class. She did everything she could to keep herself busy and also to keep her from going over to Tim’s house and blowing his head off with a gun. She was still mad at Tim, but at least she was out of the fetal position and back to life.

Beth recently Joined a book club and they are currently reading the book; “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey. She absolutely loves the book, that she carries it with her even to the bathroom. One night while she was reading it and I joined her. She was on page 82 and I just hooped over and saw an interesting line:

“If he takes your number but waits longer than twenty-four hours to call, he’s sport fishing; if he calls you right away, he’s showing that he’s genuinely interested in you, and is most likely looking for a keeper.”

We both laughed at this sentence and the others that followed. (Steve Harvey thanks for betraying us guys, we shall be hunting down very soon)

I don’t know if she should be reading such a sensitive book at such a fragile time in her life, but the smile on her face when she reads the book is way too priceless for me to take it away from her.

It’s Not A Job

Towards the close of business today, a couple of my colleagues at work somehow all found themselves discussing various issues in my department. Our schedules are so busy that it is quite rare for us to converge in one location at a time and discuss for such a long period of time. Initially we were only three, but as the discussions progressed, one by one a few others joined in. I can’t really remember in detail all the issues we talked about, but one particular topic sparked a heated debate among us. We were talking about the roles of women in relationships, specifically the married ones. I should warn you that of the six people having this debate, only one of us was actually married. So forgive me if you do not share my view point on what I am about to share.

 

The heated debated was kicked off by a particular statement made by one of the single ladies. One of the guys asked her what she thought about wives washing the undergarments of their husbands, and she reacted with a quick sense of disgust. I think she said something like; “Eww….How can I do that, Am I his slave?” and “why would a man expect me to do that for him?” Immediately everyone jumped in and had an opinion to voice out. Two other single ladies also supported her saying that; “If he doesn’t wash mine, then I can’t wash he’s”. The married lady among us was particularly annoyed at her answer, and she wasted no time in expressing this. She was of the opinion that things like washing undergarments were just few of the various ways you show your spouse that you care and also a deterrent for keeping your husband from getting distracted by other women outside( funny but somewhat true I guess). She went on to emphasize that it was the “Right” thing for a woman to do, and that any woman who doesn’t help out her husband it a terrible wife. I agree with her (The married one), in the sense that a woman is supposed to do her very best to keep the flame in her marriage/relationship. There is a saying that goes: “A wise woman builds her home, while the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands”. Before I get a barrage of responses slamming me for sexism, I also believe that men also have a role to play in keeping the relationship going as well. But I also disagree with the normative nature of what she prescribed as the way to having a successful marriage. The word “Right” incites the idea that there are set rules for marriages and this I think is wrong. I think it is up to the married couple to decide on what works best for them and grow with it.

 

My main reason for writing this post was that I felt the three young ladies had a wrong impression about some fundamentals of marriage. I am not yet married, but I have spent time with enough married couples to know that whatever you do for your spouse should be from the abundance of your heart and not be seen as a job. The first single lady later went on to say that she would actually wash it, but she would not expect it to be a regular occurrence. The responses the ladies gave implied that such a task, to them was a chore that they could not condone. When you truly love a person, you find that you would, without any eternal push, want to go the extra length to make the other person happy. Even at the cost your own happiness.  Why do you wait for him to ask it of you, if you see his undergarments dirty, I think you should instinctively know to help him  out with it, without being asked to. This is not slavery, it is called love. Some modern women have blown the Women’s Rights movement out of proportion that they see simple things from a chauvinistic point of view, which is not right. When your husband asks you to do his laundry, it doesn’t mean he wants to turn you into his slave, he is just asking you the way your brother or father or mother would ask you for a favor as well. Ladies need to calm down and be more patient, understanding and loving. It’s not a Job, It’s Love.

Political Anomaly: The Peculiar Case of Jose Mujica

 

Daily Prompt: Pat on the Back JOSE MUJICA DOES INFACT DESERVE A PAT ON THE BACK

When you see a picture like this, what sort of sentiments do you get? If you are me then you would have thought that the man in the picture was homeless. But on seeing the car, then I thought a homeless man is less likely to have a car so he must be a poor old retired factory worker on his way to collect his monthly pension benefit or something like that. But I was pleasantly shocked to find out that the man is Jose Mujica, the incumbent president of Uruguay.

I tiled this post “Political Anomaly” because usually this is not the way you would imagine a politician to be like. This is not the appearance you would expect from the mayor of a small town let alone the leader of an entire country. Mr Jose is a pleasant abnormality which everyone can relate to. He is the human equivalent of a White Lion, unique and very hard to find. His selflessness is so exemplary and definitely worthy of emulation. The house you see in the picture on the top left corner is of his wife’s farm house where they both live. He donates $12,000(which happens to be 90% of his monthly salary as president) every month to charity, leaving him with just about $1300. I learned of his story in an article on the BBC website with the title “Jose Mujica: The world’s ‘poorest’ president”, When I read the entire article I was a bit annoyed. My annoyance was essentially focused on the title, why was he labeled as the “poorest” president? It should have read something like this: “Jose Mujica: The President with the biggest heart” or any other sentence more glorifying. Jose Mujica personifies the ideal president that every citizen, regardless of country, craves for.

I come from Nigeria, one of the 16 countries in West Africa, and I can tell you that our leaders have a lot to learn from Jose Mujica. Over here in Africa, Politicians have a very despicable tendency to turn politics into a full time money gushing career. They have this unrivaled propensity to cheat and steal, they amass so much wealth and live such ostentatious lifestyles that essentially make them totally disconnected from the plight of the common man. The majority of countries in Africa are supposed democracies, but the situation at play is totally divergent. In school I was taught that Democracy is “Government For The People, By The People” and also that leadership is about selflessness, charisma and always putting the interest of the people before yours. But now I have graduated to find out that the rules, as prescribed in the textbooks, have been totally annihilated. Every day you open up the newspapers in Nigeria, you cannot help but notice the stories of massive corrupt practices. Today this governor steals $ X billion, tomorrow a senator loots $ XX million etc., there is always a bad story. These days, I almost do not want to read the papers because seeing such stories just disgusts me and makes me want to just shot someone. It’s so enraging, because there are millions of people who live on less than a dollar a day on this continent. Jose Mujica’s story prompted me to look into the economic affairs of some countries for which I could get information for, focusing on things like annual Income of the leader, Per Capita Income (PCI), Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI, % Of Population below the Poverty Line:

Note The Last Column is “% Of Population below the Poverty Line”. After publishing I noticed the column was cut-off a bit.

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capit Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Hamid Karzai Afghanistan $ 6,300.00 $ 1,000.00 530% 36
Jose Edwardo Dos Santos Angola $ 60,000.00 $ 6,000.00 900% 40.5
Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner Argentina $ 51,380.00 $ 17,700.00 190% 30
Heinz Fischner Austria $ 393,443.00 $ 42,400.00 828% 6
Julia Gillard Austria $ 520,837.00 $ 42,400.00 1128% 6
Iiham Aliyev Azerbaijan $ 225,000.00 $ 10,300.00 2084% 11
Elio Di Rupo Belgium $ 162,885.00 $ 38,200.00 326% 15.2
Boyko Borisov Bulgaria $ 26,929.00 $ 13,800.00 95% 21.8
Sebastian Pinera Chile $ 191,126.00 $ 17,400.00 998% 15.1
Xi Jingping China $ 39,720.00 $ 8,500.00 367% 13.4
Juan Manuel Santos Colombia $ 121,284.00 $ 10,400.00 1066% 37.2
Mohamed Morsi Egypt $ 47,485.00 $ 6,600.00 619% 20
Francois Hollande France $ 311,393.00 $ 35,600.00 775% 6.2
Angela Merkel Germany $ 270,600.00 $ 38,400.00 605% 15.5
Pranab Mukherjee India $ 32,316.00 $ 3,700.00 773% 29.8
Susilo Bambang Yuhoyono Indonesia $ 124,171.00 $ 4,700.00 2542% 12.5
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran $ 3,000.00 $ 13,200.00 -77% 18.7
Karim Masimoz Kazakhstan $ 56,953.00 $ 13,200.00 331% 8.2
Ralia Odinga Kenya $ 427,886.00 $ 1,800.00 23671% 50
Pakalitha Mosisili Lesotho $ 57,826.00 $ 2,000.00 2791% 49
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia $ 90,000.00 $ 500.00 17900% 80
Felipe Calderon Mexico $ 315,573.00 $ 14,800.00 2032% 51.3
Armando Guebuza Mozambique $ 55,241.00 $ 1,100.00 4922% 54
Hifikepunye Pohamba Namibia $ 150,588.00 $ 7,500.00 1908% 55.8
Mark Rutte Netherlands $ 177,253.00 $ 42,700.00 315% 10.5
Frederico Franco Paraguay $ 40,000.00 $ 5,500.00 627% 34.7
Jose Socrates Portugal $ 120,884.00 $ 23,700.00 410% 18
Vladimir Putin Russia $ 114,519.00 $ 17,000.00 574% 13.1
Jacob Zuma South Africa $ 313,222.00 $ 11,100.00 2722% 50
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey $ 73,500.00 $ 14,700.00 400% 16.9
David Cameron United Kingdom $ 221,867.00 $ 36,600.00 506% 14
Barack Obama United States $ 400,000.00 $ 49,000.00 716% 15.1
Jose Mujica Uruguay $ 15,600.00 $ 15,300.00 2% 18.6
Michael Sata Zambia $ 82,632.00 $ 1,600.00 5065% 64
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe $ 18,000.00 $ 500.00 3500% 68

Source: Index Mundi. Jose Mujica’s Salary is net of his donation to charity.

(Note: The figure shown on the PCI column is derived from dividing the GDP by the population, and thus might not be reflective for every individual in the country. There is always the possibility that a large portion of the population earns less.)

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capit Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran $ 3,000.00 $ 13,200.00 -77% 18.7
Jose Mujica Uruguay $ 15,600.00 $ 15,300.00 2% 18.6
Boyko Borisov Bulgaria $ 26,929.00 $ 13,800.00 95% 21.8

Source: Index Mundi.

From the tables you can see that Jose Mujica is one of the very few Leaders in the world whose salary is close to the national average, as measured by the Per Capita Income (PCI) indicator. And also you can see that a very small portion of the population lives under the poverty live. It is also worthy to note that Mario Monti (Italy) is the only leader with a salary of $0.00. He inculded himself in the wide spread austerity in the country, which is all part of the plan to cut the government’s huge deficit and thus reduce its debt.

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capita Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia $ 90,000.00 $ 500.00 17900% 80
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe $ 18,000.00 $ 500.00 3500% 68
Michael Sata Zambia $ 82,632.00 $ 1,600.00 5065% 64
Hifikepunye Pohamba Namibia $ 150,588.00 $ 7,500.00 1908% 55.8
Armando Guebuza Mozambique $ 55,241.00 $ 1,100.00 4922% 54
Felipe Calderon Mexico $ 315,573.00 $ 14,800.00 2032% 51.3
Ralia Odinga Kenya $ 427,886.00 $ 1,800.00 23671% 50
Jacob Zuma South Africa $ 313,222.00 $ 11,100.00 2722% 50
Pakalitha Mosisili Lesotho $ 57,826.00 $ 2,000.00 2791% 49
Jose Edwardo Dos Santos Angola $ 60,000.00 $ 6,000.00 900% 40.5

Source: Index Mundi.

The countries with some of the most devastating figures are the ones in the table above. And it is definitely no surprise that they are mostly in Africa, given the copious amount of corruption that is perpetuated on this continent on a daily basis. The salaries of their leaders are higher than the national average by an enormous margin. The case of Liberia is particularly alarming given that 80% of the population lives under poverty while the salary of the president is a whopping 17,900% higher than the national average.

There is an inspiring quote I happened upon a few months, it goes;

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” -Dalai Lama XIV

So this is to the leaders out there, if you cannot help the citizens with good roads, good schools, good healthcare, etc. The best you can do is not hurt them by pillaging the country’s treasury. Everyone, not just the politicians, can learn from the “Political Anomaly” that is Jose Mujica. In our own little way, let us try to better the lives of others. Let us give without recourse.

 

Literary Change for Africans

At first when I read the Daily Prompt for today, I was a bit stomped. “What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?” On the surface the question seems easy, but on closer inspection you discover it’s a rather tough one. It reminds me of one test I wrote in my Macro Economics class back in the university, I thought I did excellently well on the test, I thought I had nailed all the answers but when the result came back, it was awful. Back to business, after much consideration I have figured out what change I want my blog to do. I want my blog to challenge people to take a deeper interest in reading and writing. And when I say “people” I mean specifically those from my country (Nigeria) and other developing countries in Africa.

There is a saying here in Africa, I am not sure exactly how it goes but it sounds something like this: “if you want to hide information/knowledge from an African put it in a book”. As much as I want to punch whoever came up with this saying in the face, the truth is that he/she is right. I don t need statistics and figures on illiteracy or poverty to tell you this; the average African cannot even write his name let alone write a piece or even read the works of others. Here in Nigeria for example, the universities produce tonnes and tonnes of graduates every year, but still a large majority of them cannot even comfortably summarize a passage for you. For instance, while I was still job hunting, I went for an aptitude test where we were told to write an essay on any topic of our choosing, and it turned out many people could not write. A lot of the applicants who wrote the test with me only submitted their multiple choice answer sheets, leaving behind the essay sheet on the table. Another instance was during my National Youth Service year in 2011. We were given forms to fill out for registration, and while I was busy filling mine a young lady (university graduate) walked up to me smiling sheepishly (I thought she was about to make a pass at me… :D). Contrary to my delusion, it turned out that she did not even know how to fill out her name in the boxes. I was deeply shocked, but I fought very hard from showing how bizarre it all seemed to me. So when you think about it, if a supposed graduate cannot write and read, what do you expect from the common man on the street who probably only went to primary/elementary school.

I know my blog might not have articles on reading and writing or other material of a similar nature. I know my posts do not get 100 or more “likes” and views. I know I have never been on the Freshly Pressed list. But I hope the mere fact that I am writing inspires African people to want to do the same. I hope that African people wake up to fight and erase this bad stereotype as portrayed in the saying “if you want to hide information/knowledge from an African put it in a book.” I hope that the next time that kid in the village picks up his phone to go on Facebook, he will be met by a link to my blog or the blog of others who will inspire him/her to read and write. I hope that someday, a published author from Africa will mention me in the dedication page as an inspiration to start writing.

I hope and Pray.

Daily Prompt: Play Lexicographer

  1. Blogtomeniac (noun)

Etymology: Blog and Kleptomaniac

A Blogtomeniac is someone who constantly steals the content of someone else’s written material, be it newspaper articles, blog posts etc just so he/she can fill up pages of his own work. Normally such a person will be on the quest to beating some type of Blog record (most views or most likes etc) or simply just trying to get freshly pressed. Usually they do this without citing a reference to the original author.

Such a person should be put on the “Freshly Jailed” list and have their blog confiscated.

  1. 2.       Blog-o-capitalism.

Etymology: Blog and Capitalism

Simple, this refers the ever increasing trend of very good bloggers turning their blogs into a commercial commodity. Blogocapitalists are leveraging their expertise in blogging to make money from adverts placed on their blogs. An example of a Blogocapitalist is Linda Ikeji from Nigeria.

Life Anew

Image

There is Mr. Stuart Green and his kids, little Cathy on his left and Princeton to his right. Looking at this picture all might seem well, but things are far from well. Mr. Stuart was in a very fatal car accident about a year ago and as a result has lost a great portion of his memory. While the car was Somersaulting, his skull was repeatedly slammed against the dashboard, resulting in major head trauma for Mr. Stuart. He was in a coma for a month and two weeks before eventually waking. The nurse on duty said when he woke up he uttered only three words “Where is Mother”. Nurse Jackie rushed off to get the doctor in excitement, she had assumed that he was all well, but little did she know that the worst had happened. Mr Stuart’s mother had been dead for about 10 years now. She died of a heart attack. She was 80 years old at the time, she lived a lovely life.

The doctor called Kate, Stuart’s wife to give her the news that he had woken up. Kate immediately got the two kids to get dressed and headed to the hospital. Approaching Stuart’s room, little Cathy burst of her mother’s grip yelling “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”.  Stuart had this blank expression on his face; obviously he could not remember who his family was. He picked Cathy up and gave her a big hug, Princeton joined in. When Kate saw this, she knew exactly what had happened. Even though he was right there in front of her, she realized she had lost the love of her life; she walked over to Stuart and broke into tears. While Stuart was with the kids, the doctor called her aside and gave her the full details. He explained to her that she would need to exercise a lot of patience with him while he tries to reacclimatize himself with the family again. After three weeks in intensive care, Mr. Stuart was discharged to go home with his family.

Kate has been working really hard to ease Stuart back into his former life. She is a member of a support group for women whose husbands are challenged in some way or the other. Old school photos and videos, trips to some of his favorite restaurants and taking him to meet with some of his good old friends. So far things have been going fine in general, but there have been some really tough times in-between.  I really feel for Kate because she has had to take on an overwhelming role in the family on such short notice.

The picture above is from one of the trips that the family took to the house where Stuart grew up. It was quite emotional, Kate told me Stuart seemed to have recognized fragments of the house. Places like his room and the courtyard where he played with his friends as a kid invoked some really strong emotions in Stuart. She told me that little Cathy was actually the one who suggested the picture be taken.

Everyone is constantly praying and hoping that one day Stuart would look at his kids and actually remember who they are. I personally pray for Kate to be blessed to with the fortitude to carry this heavy cross of hers.

GET WELL SOON Mr Stuart!

Friday Is The Enemy.

Here you are again; you have come once more to hypnotize me into exclaiming TGIF! Everyone I know has updated their Blackberry and Facebook status message with some sort of praise to your name, but not me. I refused to be sucked into your deceitful arms. I object to the empty allure that comes with your arrival. As brutal as your siblings: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday might be, you are way more treacherous. Oh Friday, your dexterity with mind manipulation is exemplary. You trick me into relaxing and getting too comfortable that I am totally unprepared when you mean brother, Monday, shows up. Friday, Friday, Friday, How many times did I call you? Leave me out of this charade of yours.

FRIDAY! What about you childhood has turned you to such a smooth heartbreaker? Were you not loved enough by your parents? Are you like that high school bully that was never given attention at home, and then turns to torture others in an ugly effort to get some glimpse of attention? What is it about your biological makeup that makes you excellently built for disseminating pain?

I wake up, and there you are once again. In your cloak of deceit, you lure me into making so many big and unrealistic plans of enjoyment and play, only for me to have all my plans dashed in a heartbeat by you and your mean senior sister Saturday and further trampled upon by the king bully, Sunday (the wicked first born). In a minute it’s the morning after, and just immediately you send my plans and hopes crashing like dominos. As much as I like to hate Saturday and Sunday, I also think they are honest and real. They both do a pretty good job of cleaning up the mess you have created. They both act like a much needed healing cup of coffee for the gigantic hangover that you are.

Sorry Friday, but I will not fall for you this time around. Take you black hopes and your empty dreams and disappear into the night for I will not be fooled this time around. Maybe in another world, but definitely not in this one. Go look for someone else with a more permeable heart, for mine is forever shut to you. Go! You merchant of pain and anguish.

Fear of The “Ember” Months

September. October. November. December.

To many around the world these months have a religious significance. These months bring forth the spirit of happiness, sharing and celebration. During this segment of the year; from east to west, north to south the world is wrapped in various types of celebratory activities. The Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, Christians celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate Chanukah / Hanukkah, African Americans in the U.S celebrate Kwanza and Buddhists celebrate Diwali etc. I have also been told that Atheists, although they don’t have a generally known holiday, spend more time with their friends and families during this period. Although these religions vary in the way they carryout festive rituals, there is a common denominator, a common concept. This common denominator is that spirit of sharing and love. It is during this time of year that you can see people of different faiths let go of their prejudices for each other and just relish in the moment. There is gift sharing, family dinners and parties everywhere. In this period Investment Bankers and the likes, take time off their very busy schedules to just be and relax. There is joy and laughter in the air everywhere you go, it is quite infectious.

Down here in Nigeria things aren’t so different. The people here have the same joyful spirit flowing around but it is tainted with a very dark fear. Fear that is embedded in the minds of people regardless of their social or economic place in the society. A fear that grips everyone from the elderly to the young, no one is immune. This fear stems from the fact that these celebratory months have a history of being ravaged by a huge wave of crimes of various types. Car thefts, burglaries, rapes, ritual killings among other despicable acts, skyrocket to such heights relative to other months. The one that quite baffles me is the issue of ritual killings, given the magnitude of church programs in this country; it is quite ironic to see that there is such a high occurrence of fetish activities. The entire country is held spellbound as scores of social deviants perpetuate incredible horror in the country. Parents inflict greater restriction on the mobility of their children while adults abstain from unnecessary outings and activate self-imposed curfews on themselves. No one can really place the particular date when things went arye, but it is quite a terrible situation.

During this period in Nigeria, especially in the month of December, people begin the annual pilgrimage to their hometowns. In Abuja, Lagos and other urban cities people pack their bags, service their cars or buy plane tickets in anticipation of the trip. This yearly pilgrimage is mostly prevalent among the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. No matter how rich or poor, young or old an Igbo man or woman is in the city, when the month of December rolls around they do not hesitate to answer that home call. They shop for the best dresses, shoes, cars and other personal and household items which they carry along with them to their hometowns, where they can show off to their rural counterparts how successful they have been in the city. There is this pressure everyone carries around with them during this time to try and outdo the next person. At this time of the year markets are extremely crowded with herds of people seeking to grab first before stocks run out. For many, much of the income saved from January is spent in a space of about one week. The cause of the fear lies in this very pronounced culture of trying to outdo the others and be seen in a particular light.

In the book “Discourse on Inequality”, Jean-Jacques Rousseau makes us see that humans have inadvertently turned themselves into slaves of their own wants and desires. I find his writing quite interesting because, he attempts to buttress the true “nature” of man by peeling away all these layers of lies and facades he has coated himself with to seem superior to others. He highlights the danger of this unnatural tendency that man possess to want to alter his true nature, by deceiving, cheating and killing his fellow man to possess material things. In summary Jean-Jacques Rousseau alludes to the fact that, like a vestigial organ, man has rendered his moral sense of judgment useless so as to achieve his selfish objectives and thus has in effect deviated from his real self. Applying Jean-Jacques Rousseau philosophy to the situation at hand, it is quite obvious that this same tendency is very much at play still. Those who perpetuate these reprehensible acts have a desire to seem “successful” to their peers at home, and thus would go to great lengths (even at the expense of lives) to reach their “unnatural” goals.

This year in Nigeria is no different. On my way to the office today, I heard a rather grueling story of rape and extortion. This horrific act took place in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. I don’t have the full details of the story, but this is what I could gather. The story goes like this:

The woman (name withheld), residing in Gwarinpa, on Monday told the police her ordeal. The lady said she boarded a taxi from Gwarinpa to Wuse.

“The driver sprayed air freshener in the cab. I woke up in an uncompleted building naked and messed up. I received an envelope the next day containing a video disk showing how I was raped. The envelope also contained a demand for me to pay 5 million naira (about $31,000) into an account in one of the new generation banks”.  More.

Imagine the height of inhumanity; as if it wasn’t traumatic enough to rape her, they are demanding a ransom. This is just LUDICROUS!!!. As sad as the story is, the real tragedy is that, before the year runs out, we are going to hear more stories of a similar nature. Some more haunting and horrifying than this. The law enforcement in Nigeria is not as efficient and effective as we would like it to be. So if you are in Nigeria right now or scheduled to be here, please take extreme precaution. Regulation is key, try and limit unnecessary movements. These villains have no aorta of human sympathy and should not be toyed with.

Hurricane Sandy: Environmental Policy Tipping Point?

In the past few weeks we have followed the trail leading up to the U.S elections, from campaigning to the debates and every other thing that accompanies it. The two rivals, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, have gone head to head arguing extensively on economic and social issues ranging from; unemployment, taxes,  gay rights, gun laws, foreign policy among others. In particular the economic issues have taken center stage given the dire state of the American economy. The economic situation has become so significant that it has led to the coining of a new phrase “Fiscal Cliff”, which summarizes the predicted consequences of the lack of fiscal discipline on the part of policy makers. I must admit these are very critical issues that have a strong potential of setting the pace of things for at least the next four to five years. The way and manner in which these issues are handled will, to a great magnitude, define the lives of not only the American people but also that of others in the world at large. In the pandemonium that has become the U.S Presidential race one issue seems to have eluded everyone’s mind, and that issue is the Environment.

According to the Carbon Dioxide information Analysis Center in the U.S America is the second largest polluter of the environment in the world (after China), with as much as 5,492,170 metric tonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere in 2010 (accounting for about 30% of the world emission). At about 17 metric tonnes, America also has one of the highest levels of carbon emission per person. With such staggering numbers you would expect that the environment would take top priority, but no that not the case. The recent hurricane on the east coast I believe should be a wake-up call for those in seats of power, to further alert them of the situation at hand.

I did not realize the severity of the situation until my sophomore year in school. Back in the university I took a course titled “Natural and Environmental Science” to fulfill my science general education requirement; suffice to say I did not exactly signup for the class with enthusiasm. It was during that semester that my Environmental consciousness was raised significantly. I remember quite vividly being asked by our faculty to right a report on the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” by former American Vice President Al Gore. Initially I contemplated just coping off the internet or dubbing off the work of a friend of mine, but I did not. One Wednesday evening I walked into the library to get a book for an assignment, on getting to the check-out counter, there it was; the documentary I had dreaded was staring me right in the face. I wanted to walk away, but I decided to take the documentary and go watch it. I have to admit it was the longest one hour of my life. The documentary stirred such sympathy (for earth) in me I did not realize existed. The documentary was quite captivating, awakening and informative for me. I will not give a plot summary here because this documentary is like a Bond movie, having someone tell you the story line does not do it justice, you just have to see it for yourself. But get ready to feel very guilty of the many atrocities you have committed against mother earth.

America and the world at large needs to sit up and honestly tackle this very present problem called Global warming. We have already seen sea levels rising drastically due to the melting of ice caps in the arctic. We have also seen the intensity of major disasters such as hurricanes and typhoons increase to such tremendous heights, leading to great loss of lives and property. From the Tsunami in Japan to the series of hurricanes in the U.S, I believe it is time to really sit up and take action.

Here are some of the horrifying pictures I could find.

My heart goes out to all those who lost loved ones and property during the recent storm, may the good lord in his infinite capacity fortify you with the strength to bear your losses. But as sad as the situation might be, I believe this is perfect timing.  Americans need to reevaluate their voting decisions and give the environment a higher priority. They need to ask their leaders more probing questions as to what their plan is for the future of the environment. Because it doesn’t matter how much wealth you can acquire for the next generation, if the earth becomes inhospitable they will not be able to enjoy it.

Guest Without A Passport

Daily Post:

The moral of this story is so very important that I have to mention it before any other thing starts. Never go to a family event with a family you just met and also where you do not know the other families. Essentially, Do not go to a family event without you own family, it’s the one of most uncomfortable and awkward positions you can put yourself in. I learned the hard way.

A very new friend of mine invited me to the birthday dinner of a cousin of he’s at a restaurant within working distance of my house. I had misgivings, which were somewhat mollified when he told me that there would be a variety of food and wine, and so I considered. I met my new friend, Dave (I will call him Dave for the sake of anonymity, because no one invites you to a family function so you can go blog how bad it was for you) at a bus stop recently in Victoria Island where we were both stranded. Due to the artificially induced fuel scarcity in the country, finding a bus had become such a chore. We immediately bonded over our mutual disdain of the current political and economic predicament of Nigeria; suffice to say the friendship was an instant hit. Now when I think about it, I wonder how many friendships have germinated from a shared dislike over some political or economic situation, I am guessing a lot, because living in a country like Nigeria, one thing you can count on is for the leaders to always give you something to make your life miserable and thus give its citizens the opportunity to engage in heated debates about them. Eventually Dave and I finally found our way home that evening.

Dave comes from one of those nascent bi-ethnic families in Nigeria. His mum is Yoruba while his dad is Igbo. So unlike me, he had the privileged opportunity to learn two languages. I have always wondered how my life would be like if my parents were from two different tribes, there would be a lot of harmonizing to do but otherwise I think it would have been overly awesome.

The Dinner was to start at 7pm. But as the time drew closer I began to ponder the implications of accepting the invite, given that the only person I knew was dave, in what was going to be the combination of two different families with over twenty people. At 6:30 pm I contemplated calling in sick or just flat out bolting, but I did neither. At 7:10pm I got a text from Dave asking me if I was there already, it was my chance to finally give an excuse and bolt, but I did not and instead I replied “I am on my way”. I reluctantly peeled myself off the living room sofa and headed for the bathroom. At this time I was already 30 minutes late Nigerian style (there is a self-imposed stereotype that Nigerians are always late for events and so you would often hear the phrase “No Nigerian Time”).

At 7:45 I arrived at the venue, thinking I was going to be the last one to come in, but to my surprise I was the first there. Dave and a few of his relatives arrived about 5 minutes after me; we took a couple of pictures before heading in. Upon entering the restaurant I realized with it was a buffet. How wonderful, I would not be subjected to the miserly hands of discontented servers. We moved around seeking for the biggest table to sit everyone else, eventually we found one. (I don’t know why I keep using the word “we”, there was no “We”, there was just “Me” and “them”. They made all the decisions and I just went along like an obedient German Sheppard dog). A few minutes later everyone was present. Dave introduced me to aunties, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, nephew, nieces etc whose names I honestly can’t remember.

They began by catching up with each other, with questions like; “where are you working now?” “how is that is that angry boss of yours?” “Looks like the weight-loss program is beginning to yield results right?” “Dave, where is Ifeoma (his girlfriend)?” etc.  I on the other was just hanging on the sideline, smiling courteously at anyone who made out a few seconds during their own catch-up conversation to make eye contact with me. This “family catch-up” went on for the next grueling 20 minutes. One question led to another and longer responses, I tried to make conversation a couple of times, but their lifespan was shortened by reluctant shot answers. One older lady actually made an attempt to get to know me, she was asking me about my hometown, and the conversation lasted for about 20 seconds until it was cut abruptly by a strong cough from her. It was as if the cough had killed her interest in me. I went back to my former state of awkward solitude.

I felt like a foreigner in a different country without a passport. I became an embodiment of awkward conversations, laughing at unfunny jokes out of courtesy. At some point I began to despise Dave for bringing me to such an event and abandoning me. Because the minute we got in the restaurant, he was engaged by different family members for most of the time.  After what felt like a hundred hours I finally decided I could not stand it anymore. I stood up and pull a lie out of my ass, I told them I had a dental procedure done earlier and that I needed to go home and rest. Dave asked one of his cousins to escort me out, which I thought was weird, but then again I had only just met Dave twice before the Dinner.

Remembering this event just brings up pent-up hate in me, so I am going to end this post here. NEVER GO FOR A STRANGER’S FAMILY EVENT WITHOUT YOUR OWN FAMILY OR FRIENDS.

Thank you for reading.

Generosity Meets Promiscuity: The Girl With A Charitable Vagina.

I was driving home from work today, tired and exhausted, I could barely hold on to the steering wheel. 4:30 am, that’s when I woke up this morning, much like every other day, to prepare for the office. And a few minutes after the hour of eight in the evening I am still stuck in traffic. As I power through the radio stations for something decent and inspiring for the arduous ride home, I stumble on one of my best stations; Rhythm 93.7. What are they talking about? They are going through some of the stories feeding in from around the world, and a particular story strikes me. The headline goes something like this: “Brazilian student, aged 20, agrees to sell her virginity to the highest bidder in an on-line auction setup to raise money for a charity that builds homes for the destitute.” Now I can see some mouths opening wide and gasping in surreal surprise.  Some of the first few thoughts trooping into my head went like this; “is she insane?”, “She is a whory virgin”, “this is a mutant strain of lunacy”, “but then again its charity, maybe it’s not so bad”, etc. Even at this point of writing this post I am not sure I have been successful in reconciling the two ideas “Charity” and “Sex”.

Immediately I got home I went online to learn more on the story, and just entering the phrase “Charity Sex” in Google, I was amazed at the amount of information available out there on the issue. Apparently Catarina Migliorini (The Brazilian student) isn’t the first to explore charity from a rather lascivious angle. One of such related stories I was able to find was about a Chilean Prostitute  by name Maria Carolina, who had auctioned 27 hours of sex for about $4,000 to raise money for a national charity. Another interesting story was about FPA, a sexual health charity organization in the UK, which has resorted to selling sex toys in a bid to raise funds to better educate people on sex and relationships. Here are a few lines from the website that capture the essence of the Charity:

Our mission is to help establish a society in which everyone has positive, informed and non-judgmental attitudes to sex and relationships; where everyone can make informed choices about sex, relationships and reproduction so that they can enjoy sexual health free from prejudice or harm.”

The charity has setup an on-line sex store called “Desire & Pleasure”, where people can go and shop guilt-free for their favorite sex toys.

These stories bring up some many questions, mostly relating to morality, to bear. One of such questions is “Does the End justify the Means?” The implication of this question is whether an action or series of actions that is/are glaringly immoral or harmful justified by the outcome it produces no matter how favorable it might be? We now live in a sexually charged world where sex is the number one seller of merchandise. The Phrase “Sex Sells” is a mere testament to the hypnotic ability of sex to move products faster off the shelves, and rack in the much needed cash. From Pharmaceuticals to Banking to Automobiles, every industry has embraced this fact, and have done their very best to exploit it. Sex has also played a major role in the budding career of some of Hollywood’s elite. Take Kim Kardashian for example, her showbiz career got a major boost after the release of her sex-tape with former boyfriend Ray J. Her “sex-capades” caught on tape also led to the blossoming careers of every other person in her family.

With so much sex swirling around these days in varied forms, its makes it much harder to draw the line between Morality and Immorality. How do you Judge the case of Catarina Migliorini?

On the one hand, you want to commend her supposed act of selflessness. For going out of her way to give up what is generally considered to be the most revered treasure of a young lady, all for a good cause and with no apparent intention of profiting from it personally. This, my friends, might be a true expression of altruism in theory.

But on the other hand you have to question the “Means” she aims to accomplish her act of altruism. Where do you draw the line between “Hooker” and “Philanthropist”? Like I mentioned earlier, the answer to this might lie in the answer to another question, “Does the Ends justify the Means?”

To be honest I don’t think I am entirely against her quest, but…..

It would be a great pleasure to get the views and opinions of those who read this post. What do you think?

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