As Christmas Approaches

Christmas is still the mood. If you are at home with your family enjoy it because life returns back to normal for most from next  Monday- the 5th of January, 2015.  I wrote this a year ago. I wanted to publish it here so you can read it too. Enjoy:) In the mean time, how are you spending New Year Eve? Got any ideas?

 

It is already morning and the sun is beginning to rise.  It’s four weeks to Christmas today. The view from my desk is staggeringly beautiful. The skies are a mix of red, wine, orange and white, universal colours of peace and harmony.

Unlike Nigeria where you hear the cocks crow at the break of dawn, in England you hear absolutely nothing of the sort unless you leave near a farm or train station. Nothing? Well, if you listen hard enough, you might hear the sound of ongoing traffic from the A5 two streets away, remote sounds of a police or ambulance siren or perhaps just vehicles leaving the car park of the building where I live.  At this time of the morning, it is normally just dark and quiet. No surprises.  It is a typical November morning.

Sunrise today is set at 07:31 am. Winter has come as quietly as possible.  It needs no announcement. When you can no longer leave your house without a jacket, head warmers, gloves and about three to four layers of clothing, including thermal wear, you know you have entered into the wintry season. No one is ever a veteran of winter. A thought for those living in Calgary, Canada, where temperatures have already dropped to minus 17. Perhaps only those with excess layers of body fat and school children who are somewhat used to walking to schools in their blazers.  School children? You see them in their school uniform walking to school every day without a jacket and sometimes, you feel sorry for them. Other times, you are caught up in your own bubble to care.

The percentage of poor children living in Luton is something like 46 per cent. Someone made a call to a radio station recently to talk about the level of poverty in Luton schools and the lady said she heard the story of one child who complained that her leg was hurting. When the pain was investigated, it was discovered that this child had been wearing shoes without soles! Imagine that, the child had practically been running around bare feet. This is winter in 2013. Before you respond with shock, think about the many children you know who go to school in Nigeria without shoes, a proper school uniform and without breakfast. Poverty stinks.

Winter is generally a cold and miserable time of the year for most people. Many people endure severe arthritis during this period, many people feel the pain of their electricity bills each time they turn on the heaters.  With most utility companies increasing their prices by up to 10 per cent this winter, no wonder the winter months are generally harsh financially.

With four weeks to Christmas, the town centres are lit with Christmas lights. You can imagine how glorious Oxford regent street lights 2 Regent street lights london lightand Regent Street look right about now. The Arnedale Centre in Luton and Milton Keynes Mall have Christmas trees taller than the iroko tree, it would seem. Father Christmas at the Arnedale in Luton Mall is set to bring in huge business, but there are no queues yet. All the shops have begun selling Christmas paraphernalia. In a way, it is disgraceful. Christmas has been reduced to what you can buy and what you may be given.

As a matter of fact, the super shop chains like DFS where you get furniture are advertising hard for you to make your orders now to have your orders ready for Christmas. Marks and Spencer are taking orders for Christmas turkey and mince pies. And then we have the pubs and restaurants also taking bookings for Christmas. If you have any inkling that you may be going out around Christmas, now is the time to book.

Last year, many experienced what it was like leaving it too late to book anything. Christmas in the United Kingdom, UK, has been so watered down that it is disgraceful. They have managed cleverly to leave out the reason behind Christmas season. For example, the Santa circus in the Luton Mall has no Baby Jesus. It has no shepherds as well. Just doves, penguins and fake snow flakes. On the radio, there was a debate about the Nativity. Some people suggested that there was no need for  baby, a manger, shepherds and Mary. The presenter of the show adamantly stuck to the fact that any show without the baby Jesus, Mary, sherpherds, angels was a pantomine and not the Nativity Play.

Right about now is the best time to flee the United Kingdom. Flee? Yes!  That technically means to remove oneself from the inconveniences of this weather. Many Nigerians (especially) the pensioners who have lived here all their lives, return to Nigeria till the spring. Other Nigerians are able to leave for a week or two and perhaps even more for Christmas. It is a great time to rest, chill and spend time with loved ones in Nigeria.

In this part, many people spend a fortune on Christmas buying presents and gifts and everything else for their families and racking up huge debts as a result. I know a family that starts the Christmas buying right from August.

Whilst many people are getting ready for Christmas, let’s think about those who would not be celebrating Christmas this year. Starting with those who live in areas decimated by the Al Qaeda-linked group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria, many of them won’t know the joy and perhaps the peace that a season like Christmas brings.

Federal, state and local government workers and those politicians who have benefitted from the largesse of the federal government that routinely turns a blind eye to corruption would no doubt enjoy the season. They would enjoy the expensive holiday trips for themselves and their entourage to the States, UK and anywhere that catches their fancy really. They would enjoy buying the cows and fattening up themselves from the proceeds of their greed.

They would enjoy buying more luxurious and bulletproof cars, caviar, town houses, land and gold in spite of all that they currently have. The rich never seem to have enough. We must not salivate about how the super rich spend or intend to spend this Christmas. To them the rest of us don’t matter anyways. If we don’t have a private jet or the lifestyle to challenge them with, they are not interested.

So, let us really think about those who would not be celebrating Christmas. These are the people we don’t see: the clerks at work, the security guards, street hawkers, handymen, cooks and other. The list is endless.  It should include perhaps all those who are less fortunate than others. I know we all struggle but perhaps this Christmas many more would be suffering and smiling. The question is, what are you going to do about it? I hate the inequalities Christmas brings but I love the season nonetheless.

If we can we commit to the idea that this Christmas would be less about ourselves and our appetites and more about others and their needs, that would be great! If we can’t, that’s also fine. Christmas is about sharing and caring after all. Perhaps this season you can be an angel to someone in need.

 

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Gen.Buhari is not a perfect candidate -Kayode Ogundamisi

He needs no introduction. He is a pro-democracy leader and a civil rights activist. On Twitter, his views are followed by over 75k followers. His TV show ‘Politricks with KO’ is one of the few programs on television that deal with issues that concern Nigerians in Nigeria and the disaspora. He took some time to talk to Tundun Adeyemo. Enjoy reading.

 

Many people look to you Mr. Ogundamisi as a leader, but could you have gotten it wrong- the choice of leader in 2015? Are you not saddened that the Vice Presidential candidate was appointed as opposed to being subjected to a primary as GMB was?

Kay Ogun
Kayode Ogundamisi is a social commentator and a political activist

The Vice Presidential slot of the APC to the best of my understanding was achieved after careful deliberation and it was actually a pretty competitive process resulting in a first class candidate in the person of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. In advance democracies, it is the prerogative of the Presidential candidate to choose his running mate, however in a coalition of political parties, and the realities on the ground in Nigeria, it is expected that the choice of Buhari’s vice President would not come easy. I personally wanted Fashola to run with Buhari but I am not a card carrying member of APC, I can only advice.

They have found in Osibajo a brilliant choice; no matter the VP candidate APC picked it would still be controversial. In Osibajo, you have a man who reached the top of his career as a lawyer being Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He is a top class teacher who is an internationally acclaimed professor in law.  A top class  General Buhari, who will secure the life of Nigerians and deliver on his campaign promises and a top class lawyer and teacher who will ensure that every action of the Buhari government  will pass the basic principle of respect for the laws of the land and the Nigerian constitution.

 

Could your activism be propelled by the future offer of political appointment in a GMB Presidency?

I have supported and worked with different candidates at different levels with no expectations beyond their subsequent performance. I have always felt free to withdraw my support as well. Nigeria remains my sole motivation.

 Would you ask the 12 million Nigerians who voted for Buhari and the CPC in 2011 if they were propelled by an offer of political appointment? In any case am I not more than qualified to serve Nigeria in any capacity if I deem it necessary? 

 My support for Buhari is based on my conviction that he’s a better candidate than Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and until a better candidate other than Buhari emerges I am going to support his candidacy.

 

You are leaving for Nigeria in a couple of weeks. Have you been paid to campaign for GMB?

 

Kayode Ogundamisi
Kayode Ogundamisi is a Nigerian born British pro-democracy leader

It is obvious that 14 years of PDP and 6 years of a Jonathan Presidency has reduced your perception of political participation to a cash and carry affair. Nigeria is not for sale. No, I have never been paid to campaign for, support or mobilize for Buhari. In 2011 I got a loan of £5000 from Barclays Bank, the records are available, I bought my plane ticket for £600 and donated what was left to the CPC and Buhari campaign team.

 

I recalled Nasir El Rufai asked me how I would survive for the entire period of the campaign. I did survive and we are in 2014 I have purchased my ticket again. I am going to Nigeria because I believe you have to walk the talk. I could have taken the easy way out and got involved in Jonathan’s conference like some of my diasporan colleagues did, they got over 46Million naira just for recycling the same documents passed by Babangida and Abacha’s conference.

 

I am not the only one, we have a number of Nigerians in diaspora who are contributing to the Buhari campaign. I don’t have permissions to share names but someone is donating his family home for the period of my stay in Abuja and he’s just one Nigerian tired of the level of cluelessness of the Jonathan administration. In 2011, we lived on bread, sardine and water as we travelled across Nigeria with Buhari and the CPC. My joy is that today Nigerians are donating every little amount to help in the campaign for change.

 

What is the vision of Nigeria you would like to see in your lifetime?

 

A just nation where every citizen regardless of circumstance, religion, location or tribe is afforded every opportunity to live anywhere they choose to with decency and dignity. A nation that will not be shy to discuss its differences that will allow the resolve peacefully to negotiate the mistakes made by the colonial masters and our founding fathers. 

 

 Is this ideal achievable?

 

Yes it is very much achievable. The alternative is not looking good.

In 2011, you campaigned for GEJ and look at how that has turned out, you have no guarantees that GMB is the right candidate for Nigeria?

Actually you got it wrong, yes I stood on the side of truth and justice against the Yar’Adua cabal who held on to power rather than hand over to Goodluck Jonathan the legitimate Vice President. It was not about Jonathan it was about justice, equity and forthrightness. I disagreed with those who felt Goodluck Jonathan shouldn’t be President because of some warped arrangement within the PDP.

 

I was the toast of the Ebele gang then but I was very clear that it was not about their principal (GEJ) but about Nigeria. An injustice to Jonathan was in my opinion an injustice to Nigeria. But as soon as Jonathan became the Acting President it became clear the man with a so called PHD had no clue about governance. He set out on an agenda to divide Nigeria just for his selfish interests, he promoted bigotry and left Boko Haram to go on the rampage. In 4 years of Jonathan’s cluelessness, over 17 thousand Nigerians by his own count are dead, killed and maimed by terrorists. Rather than go after terrorists the commander in chief spent money and propaganda blaming opponents without one shred of evidence.

 I had no lofty expectations from GEJ so I am not disappointed but only vindicated. His track record from Deputy Governor to accidental Governor, from Vice President to accidental Acting President was resoundingly uninspiring but Nigerians chose to ignore Olusegun Obasanjo’s rape on democracy when he hand picked two candidates, who had no intention of running, on the night of his parties presidential primaries.  

 Obasanjo picked a sick Yar’adua and a clueless Goodluck Jonathan. Look I was very close to the Ijaw struggle; I was party to and active to the movement that led to the Kiama Declaration, even amongst the first twenty Ijaw comrades I knew Jonathan could not make the top 19 in terms of understanding the dynamics of Nigeria and ability to serve.

 People will be shocked in 2015. A number of people in the Niger Delta will look at their environment and notice that things are not better under their son and that the oil companies still go about destroying the environment, the militants are the new oppressors, the loyalty of the militants are now to one man Goodluck Jonathan and not the working class people and the poor in the Niger Delta.

General Buhari is not a perfect candidate, no Nigerian is perfect for Nigeria but with the choice we have today, comparing Buhari to Jonathan is like comparing light to darkness.

 With Buhari what you see if what you get, his commitment to his country has never been in doubt, his records as Military Head of State creates fear in the minds of the corrupt, the drug barons and those who enslave Nigeria but it brings hope to those who want the best for Nigeria.

 I do not share Buhari’s dream of a one indivisibility Nigeria but I share in his dream of a Nigeria where justice will be made available for all.  I share in his dream that as long as we remain one united country terrorists should not hold Nigerians to ransom, a minority one percent should not take the wealth of all, that our schools should be a safe place for our children, that we should be respected internationally as a result of our progress.

 I share in his dream that Nigerians should be able to get the basic needs of life without having to bribe their way up or ladies sleep with men for favors, I share in his dream that our women should have a place of pride.

 So I can hold on to my long term disagreement with Buhari on the National Question to achieve those short term goals. That I want a confederation in Nigeria does not mean a massacre should go on in any part of Nigeria.

Nigerians in the UK suffer under very harsh immigration laws and cost of living crises, could your energies not be better utilized in working with minority groups in the UK who are under represented and in many cases without a voice?

Nigerians in the UK are of course affected by what happens in Nigeria. Diaspora remittances alone are the budget of small countries. Money aside the anguish one goes through just knowing a relative is ill and at the mercy of a broken system is bad enough. If the situation at home is improved, I dare say 90% of their woes here would vanish. How many are here because they love it?

 I pick my battles and I am sure we have more than enough groups campaigning for the rights of Nigerians in the UK and above all, we have strong institutions here where you can challenge the system and injustice, my ultimate goal is that we should make Nigeria better so we don’t have to be in the diaspora permanently.

Could you not run for office in the United Kingdom?

I can but I am not interested.

Would you not say that this is the best time for Africans living in the UK to have a stronger and unified voice? Could they not benefit from such leadership from you?

 I run a program Politricks with KO on Ben television and have done so for 2 years with 100% volunteer’s effort. This show gives the diaspora a platform to speak and be informed. The TV show survives on the magnanimity of the Chief Executive of Ben TV Alistair Soyode who donated air time to my platform. All the crew members are volunteers who are not paid a dime, including me.

Every week we provide a platform for Nigerians. If that is not leadership then I don’t get the definition of leadership. For me service and personal sacrifice to the people is what leadership is all about.

On a lighter mode, I was told BEN-TV was under pressure from the Nigerian government to take the programe off air. But we are still on and that is thanks to the resilience of the Chief Executive. If they come under pressure anyway we still have Sahara Reporters to fall back on.

 Most Nigerians are disillusioned about the state of Nigeria’s political and economic mess, should we promise a hope in APC, a party we cannot rely on?

I am not a card carrying member of APC or any Nigerian political party but we are hopeful that APC will be different, if we don’t notice anything tangible in one year we will unleash the people might on them.

Why do you hate the PDP so much?

Look around you. The country is the most divided it has been since the civil war. Our leadership beats its chest on achievements, buys more private jets and eat billions in yearly food budget while 1 million citizens have been driven out of their homes by Boko Haram. Many abandoned  people have run to Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon, our neighbors. If you are not angry with the party that’s been in control at the Federal level for 16 years then you are either a beneficiary of the system or simply living in la la land.

 

Nigerians are tenacious people- most Nigerians are doing well by themselves, would your efforts be best channeled in economically supporting people?

Tell that to the 1.5 million displaced. We cannot dance around the fact that Government must work and not exploit the people for the advantage of a few.

The cynicism against politicians and government in general is one you encounter every day especially on your TV show. How do you deal with that?

I let people talk. There is nothing to deal with. It’s the peoples’ show. I hope the politicians and their handlers listen. PolitrickswithKO is unique in one sense. I declare my interest to the viewers I don’t pretend to be unbiased. I let people challenge me and I am very glad that we get calls from all over Europe on the programme.

 I don’t know how we have survived the last 2 years but we managed to keep a live show without a dime. I take criticism on the show on board I don’t just dismiss them, when I get home I think about what even those who oppose my view say and I improve on my point of view.

What would you like to be remembered by? What is the one thought that gets you out of bed everyday?

I have 3 lovely daughters and it is what my children would think about me when I leave this world that bothers me more than what the world would think about me. I am extremely satisfied with my little service to my community both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Each time I wake up, I want to do better than when I went to bed the previous night. I want to contribute to the change movement in Nigeria. My first love is my service to the community, if you know where I am coming from growing up in Mushin and Agege in Lagos you will understand why service is key to me, I was brought up to understand that change wont come without a struggle.

 Why should the electorate follow you and vote GMB?

The electorate should look at Nigeria under Goodluck Jonathan if they think they have a better life they can vote Jonathan but they should also look at GMB his honesty, his vision and his passion for Nigeria if that gives them a reason to vote Buhari they can join me. 2015 election is not do or die to me.

One, I don’t live in ground zero (Nigeria) so I am not directly affected by the misrule in Nigeria but I can also not turn my back on my country. If Nigerians chose Jonathan again in 2015 it won’t be the end of the world. Of course,  we would wish him the best as President and pray he gets it and delivers on his electoral promises. Those of us who oppose the PDP and Jonathan’s government would then go back and continue to try and convince Nigerians for change. You cannot force a people to follow your ideals, you have to keep trying and hope they are convinced that your ideals are right for them. That to me is what democracy is all about.

 

 

 

Tundun Adeyemo

World of Women TV Interview Rosita Ero

A ‘Bare it All’ interview with Rosita Ero, the Chief Executive of Rosies Interiors(one of the Leading Interior Designers/Decorators in UK).
Rosie spoke with Olabisi Obadara- Founder of World of Women TV at Cafe Deluxe Restaurant (our official Restaurant), 1A Griffin Road, Plumstead London, SE18 7QG. 0208 317 4881

Enjoy listening.

Can we do without music and books in our lives?

My guests tonight need no introduction. I am excited that Doog Moody, founder Greenbank Music Village would be joining us to talk about music and how the Greenbank Music Village has been changing lives in Luton one instrument at a time.  Why is he so passionate? What books has be been reading? Has he taught any famous musicians? The Green bank Music Village provides affordable music tuition in Luton. Doog has run the village since 1983. Last month, the Greenbank Centre opened a brand new state of the art recording studio.  You need to listen from 6pm.

 

From 1845pm, Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed who runs the blog bookshybooks.blogspot.com, will be  taking us through the African authors who made the most important book lists of 2014. On that list is Teju Cole’s Everyday is for the Thief and Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird.teju cole book 3Helen Oyeyemiboy snow bird
doog moody

 

You do not want to miss this show. Listen here from 6pm: http://www.aukradio.com

Images different homes on the internet.

More later.Would you like to be a guest on my show? Leave your details here.

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My grandmother: Elizabeth Jennings

She kept an antique shop – or it kept her.
Among Apostle spoons and Bristol glass,
The faded silks, the heavy furniture,Elzabeth Jennings
She watched her own reflection in the brass
Salvers and silver bowls, as if to prove
Polish was all, there was no need of love.

And I remember how I once refused
To go out with her, since I was afraid.
It was perhaps a wish not to be used
Like antique objects. Though she never said
That she was hurt, I still could feel the guilt
Of that refusal, guessing how she felt.

Later, too frail to keep a shop, she put
All her best things in one narrow room.
The place smelt old, of things too long kept shut,
The smell of absences where shadows come
That can’t be polished. There was nothing then
To give her own reflection back again.

And when she died I felt no grief at all,
Only the guilt of what I once refused.
I walked into her room among the tall
Sideboards and cupboards – things she never used
But needed; and no finger marks were there,
Only the new dust falling through the air.

 

Ps: Elizabeth Jennings wrote this poem to describe possibly her guilt for refusing to go out with her grandmother. It describes a sense of loss which immediately resonated with me when I read it. I remembered my grandmother and the burden of guilt I carried for years after her death. This is described in the article: mama Oke-Aremo.

HIV Test as Season's Gift

Kehinde Bademosi, founder of the Orange Academy, has inspired this piece. The brand expert disclosed that he has been living with the ‘damn’ HIV virus for 15 years. His story appeared in a post on Facebook to mark World AIDS Day on December 1, 2014. Kenny’s story was the most re-tweeted and re-blogged story of that day as it caught the imagination of bloggers and readers alike.

Bademosi did what most Nigerians would never do: own to a disease. Recently, the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, also disclosed that he had been fighting prostate cancer. Let us just say these are rare individuals. As a nation, we find it hard to disclose our ailments or diseases. The social culture is to keep it secret. HIV is hard to own as there is a stigma attached to it. It is the same reason men and women have sex kenny3with new partners without asking or investigating their sexual history. It also explains why sex without condoms is still prevalent in the African community here in the United Kingdom, UK. We don’t like talking about sex as we consider it a private issue, yet HIV is on the increase between heterosexual couples.

Our religiosity also prevents us from being honest. We assume that once we give offerings, fast, pray and attend certain churches, our diseases would disappear. It doesn’t work that way. These days, it is ignorance that is killing people, not HIV itself.

Many people talk about the stigma attached to HIV. Can you sit next to them on a bus, can you hug them, touch them and so on? HIV is in the blood. It spreads mainly through unprotected sex. And the stigma is everywhere. Even here in the UK, HIV infected people routinely suffer discrimination from health care professionals, employers and from people generally. Even though HIV is widely spoken about, support groups help people deal with difficulties of living with it.

If Kenny did not write what he wrote, it would not have occurred to me to research the effects of HIV. Nonetheless, we salute Kenny for his bravery and courage to talk about living with HIV. Could it be that the rich and famous are not stigmatised? I wonder. The discrimination HIV sufferers face is the reason they refuse to disclose. Yet, stories of people like Kenny who have had HIV for 15 years and the American Footballer Magic Iohnson who has lived with HIV for over 22 years go to show that you can live a healthy life with HIV. Early detection and use of drugs goes a long way to help the survival of these two men.

Two factors here: they were able to afford their medication, and they had access to the best medical facilities in the world. Kehinde’s essay mentioned talking to his doctor in the United States and his love to travel. One wonders how the ordinary people, particularly in developing countries like Nigeria that are living with the disease, could have coped.

In the UK, certain groups experience a disproportionate burden of HIV: men who have sex with men and black African and Caribbean people. In 2013, an estimated 107,800 people were living with HIV in the UK. In the same year, a total of 81,512 people including 542 children received HIV specialist care. In 2004, 41,157 people had access to care. About two-thirds of people receiving HIV specialist care were male. Data from an online HIV website suggests that 95 per cent of people living with the virus in the UK would have acquired that status through sex without a condom.

People living with HIV who were exposed to heterosexual sex were by far the largest group. Over half the people receiving HIV specialist care were white and over a third were black African (53 per cent white and 33 per cent black African). It is interesting to note that due to a combination of ongoing transmission and increased survival, this has led to a large increase in the number of people over 50 who are accessing HIV care. Since 2008, these drugs add an additional 16 years to the lifespan of an HIV sufferer. The data also indicated that HIV sufferers are living as long as normal people without HIV.

James Gallagher, health editor for the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, wrote an article for the BBC News website titled, HIV evolving ‘into milder form’. There he suggests that the findings in ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ also suggested that anti-retroviral drugs were forcing HIV to evolve into milder forms. He showed that the drugs target the nastiest versions of HIV and encourage the milder ones to thrive. One must sound a note of caution here: a watered down version of HIV is still dangerous and could cause AIDS. The good news is that HIV is no longer the killer that we thought it once was. It is taking longer for HIV infection to cause AIDS. But the picture is far from rosy. Thirty-five million people around the world are living with HIV. There were 2.1 million new cases in 2013, which is 38 per cent less than the 3.8 figure in 2001. AIDS-related deaths have fallen by a fifth in the past three years, standing at 1.5 million a year. The battle is not over yet.

What does HIV look like in Nigeria? According to avert.org, Nigeria has the second highest number of new infections reported each year and the second highest number of people living with HIV. An estimated 3.7 to 10 per cent of the populations (depending on your data source) are living with HIV. The three main HIV transmission routes are heterosexual sex (this accounts for 80 per cent of HIV infections), blood transfusions and mother-to-child transmissions. In 2011, women were considered more affected by the epidemic with an estimated 1.7 million people living with the disease.

Very few Nigerians know their HIV status. This can place a person at risk, as they are not able to access timely HIV treatment and care. Groups at risk of HIV infections are sex workers and men who have sex with men. The Nigerian government did well with containing Ebola. The question is, could that be replicated in containing HIV amongst women?

In conclusion, as we approach the end of the year, the best thing we could give ourselves this season is to have an HIV test. Thankfully, up and down Nigeria, there are test centres. Secondly, you can help spread the word: use a condom or two when you do have sex, and if you are not sure of your partner’s sexual history, encourage him or her to test for HIV first before you decide to have sex at all.

Mama Oke Aremo

Most ancient sacred texts write of the importance of the grey haired amidst  us. We know six score and ten years is our guaranteed life span promise, anything more is a blessing indeed from God. Yet, it would seem that we have become negligent in our treatment of the most special people amongst us: older people. They say 70 is the new 50. 

My parents took very good care of their parents. It was expected of them. My father’s father was the late Prince Michael Adeyemo Oyekunle. I am named after one of his wives, my father’s mother: Iya Afin Olatundun Atinuke.  I never met her because she died before my father was four. I like to think she was a tall, handsome woman with a strong sense of who she  was.

Baba Oke Ola was huge. He had a larger than life personality and when he shook your hands, your palms were buried in his.  I was not close to him as such, but I have fond memories of going to Okuku and sitting in his parlour and soaking in the scents and sights of his living room. I remember once he took us to his farm and he showed my sisters and I how to get cocoa from the pod. He had been a dedicated farmer in his lifetime. He was a story teller, I remember his stories albeit faintly till today. 

Baba Oke Ola lived a full life, he looks down from heaven on us all.

The Nigerian government  lacks a concerted plan for the elderly. Many old people do not have the benefit of a generous retirement/pension fund, nor the luxuries of  a basic standard of living. I often wonder who takes care of the old , the aged and the infirm  in Nigeria?

I want to write about a very extraordinary woman: my maternal grandmother. She was called Alice Ibironke Adeoye. We called her Mama Oke- Aremo.  Oke Aremo is the area she lived. She died very many years ago. She left me with very sweet memories I hope to pass on to my own daughter. Memories can pass on through generations. I know my grand ma will live on as my daughter will know her roots and one day, I will teach her all my grand mother taught me. 

I  blame myself for her death.   The passage of time has eased the burden of my guilt. She had been diabetic and was being treated at the University College Hospital. As my mum was not going to be in the country for a while, I had been seconded to make sure mama made all her hospital appointments. Being with Mama was natural to me as my mum had taken me to visit her mother for most of my life. I had seen my mum wash her bed sheets, sweep her room, change her bed sheets and provide the  stuff Mama Oke Aremo displayed to sell in the shop next to her bedroom. I had seen my mum dust off cobwebs and sorts from the shop, I had seen my mum get out the blue kerosene stove from under neath the shelf in the shop. I had seen my mum lit the stove with matches that stayed by the window from time immemorial. I had seen my mum make amala or ewedu or warm stew on that blue kerosene stove. I had seen my mum call out to the girl who sells wraps of pap (commonly known as eko) so we could buy some for mama. I had seen my mum wrap up bed sheets and other clothes in a bag which I carried to the car to be washed, ironed and returned within the week.  I will take care of my mum. My daughter will look after me. The beauty of life.

 I live in a society where the government provides care for its old citizens. British citizens over the age 60  are entitled to free transport, a fair heating and electricity allowance, the benefits of having a National Health Scheme that ensures every one is taken care of and in most cases benefits of various kinds.  My mother tells me we are a people who take care of their elders. My mother took care of her mother, I will take care of my mother. The question is whose responsibility are our old people in Nigeria? Who looks after them when their children are unable to.

 I would take mama for her appointment at UCH and whilst we waited, she would reel me with stories of how Papa Oke Aremo had wooed her in her time. She would tell me what I needed to do to  keep my man. She taught me several songs. She showed me how to tie the perfect (man catching) head gear. It was really sweet being sat next to her singing or talking in Yoruba out in UCH waiting rooms.  I made friends of the staff at UCH because of mama’s congeniality. Mama and I were also the beneficiaries of acts of kindness and thoughtfulness by UCH staff. In many ways, UCH is family to me.

At this time, I was a penultimate student of law at the University of Ibadan. I had the pressures of submitting my dissertation proposal and exams were fast approaching. My father had also started making pure water and I was also helping him to market his water. Taking mama for her twice or thrice weekly appointments was beginning to take a toll on me. After her last appointment, I took the week off.

By the time I showed up, she was in a coma. I was told she had not eaten in days. Immediately, we took her to UCH where she was admitted. She was admitted, placed on drips and eventually she stabilized.  The following day she was well enough to seat up and I made her hair and we took some photographs. The next day, some of my friends from the  University of Ibadan stopped by to pray with her. As she had other grand children around, her bedside was busy  with activities.

To be fair, the staff at the University College Hospital where mama was were excellent. Mama could not have felt more comfortable in ward where she slept. There were the occasional mosquitoes, but her mosquito net worked perfectly.

 

By the fourth day, I am not sure what happened, but mama took a different turn. I was at the hospital early with breakfast when I was told she had gone home. I assumed her other daughter (my aunt) had come for her. I thanked the nurses and even asked of the description of the person who came for her. I was on my jolly way when  a nurse whispered to me, she has gone home, don’t you not know what that means?

It still did not register.

Eventually, when it did, it was like my whole world had collapsed.  She is buried in Akobo in my mother’s house . Every year, my mother paints her gravestone. I remained inconsolable at her burial and years later the guilt remains. She could have lived longer.

Mama lived very well. Up until the week before her death, she got every attention she needed. My mother will be well taken care of. I am not bothered about the educated millions (friends of my parents who are now in their 70s) enjoying a quiet and well earned retirement. I am bothered about the old in our villages, towns and cities  with children who have not the means to take care of them.

As a nation, we fail our aged, we ignore single mothers, there is no place for unemployed, no recognition of the youth.We would all grow old at some point. The question is when we reach that stage, who will take care of us?

 

Tundun Adeyemo

PS: I wrote this years ago. I read a poem today ‘My grand mother’ by Elizabeth Jennings, it reminded me of my grand mother. This story and many more available in the ebook: ‘Outspoken, A Collection of Articles’. Available on Amazon.com.

Kenny Brandmuse: on life and living

You know him. His story literally went viral on Monday.  He is Kehinde Bademosi, he is also known as Kenny Brandmuse.  On the 1st of December, 2014, he revealed to the world that he has been living with the damn HIV virus for 15 years. His courage, his story has moved the world. I have him here as my Man of the week. His book:  The Exodus by Kenny Brandmuse -A Journey Within will be released in 2015. When that happens, Black and Outspoken will have it right here to review, analyse and dissect. Dont you worry:).

I have written a lengthier column on inspired by Kenny, but for now,  I wanted to add that HIV is rampant here in the UK within Black African communities because people are still not wearing condoms. In  Nigeria, HIV is prevalent among st women and girls because they are allowing men to have sex without using condoms. If we must take any solace or comfort from Kenny’s story, it is that every one should carry a pack of condoms in their wallets or bags. Have one. Keep it there.  Next to your Bibles, should be your condoms. Nothing to be ashamed of. Using a condom means you are choosing life. You are not ignorant or stupid. Please dont listen to men when they say they cannot feel anything. Tell the idiot to jog on.

If there is a chance that you might be having sex, buy a pack of it. And another one. kenny 2

The use  of a combination drugs and the fact that since 2008, people with HIV are living longer and healthier  is no reason to get the virus because of stupidity.

Get tested and stay safe. Kenny is right, there is no reason to be afraid of HIV anymore.  What is his advise to life and living? Love yourself, tell compelling stories, lift people up, fight the oppression around. Have a read of what he said on his Facebook Post: it would inspire you to find your real self. YOu must have read it already.

If you havent, here it is.

 

Today, Monday December 1st, is World AIDS day, and I’m celebrating my resolve to live with this damn virus all these many years without letting it define who I am. Every journey I take, every picture of me you see, and every new challenge I take on are all huge reminders that I must never stop living my best life. So, I decided to share my journey with you today. Honestly, I don’t know what exactly you are dealing with but I’m writing you this to hold tight to your dream. Here’s a quick sketch of my journey from the first day I tested positive, some 15 years ago. My upcoming book tells the full story.kenny 4

1999. After three years of different pains and minor illnesses, I was encouraged by my best friend and Professor Soyinka, an HIV specialist, to go get tested so I could face my fear. I had just resumed work as a Copywriter at McCann. I’d rather not know. I was working on Coca Cola, and I would rather live in the joy of that dream. It was that point when you assured yourself this was only a lie from the pit of hell. I had not been a ‘bad boy,’ I would assure myself.

1999. I tested, and it came back positive. I blamed everyone but myself. I wanted to end my life immediately. Trust me, I did try a few things. Then I called on God. I told God to change the status because it didn’t look good on him. I sang. I fasted. I gave offerings. Prophet offerings. I died several times, but I didn’t die. I was always back to myself. I came up with a few pseudo coping skills, but I was always depressed. The picture of HIV back then was very gory, and I was wasting away.

2004. I realized I didn’t die yet. My flesh had not fallen off. My heart was still beating. I still liked rice and pepper stew. I still had early morning erections – and not just in the early mornings. Shouldn’t I be dead by now? I began to question everything I ever knew.kenny 6

2006. I had a local operation for tonsillitis, and it brought my immune system to level zero. I was infected by everything you could name. But I was so happy that I was going to die finally. Wouldn’t it be nice to die just like that? Unfortunately, I did not die. I was bedridden for four months and was forced to live by myself. It was there that my Exodus happened. I realized for the 1st time that the real death is when we refuse to live out our full potential. Death is not a physical thing. It is an emotional thing. When we stop living. When we stop laughing. When we stop learning. When we stop crying. Or feeling. So I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital. There, I started the anti-HIV medication. (Trust me, it doesn’t kill as I had feared)

2007. I started living and loving myself. As a creative person, I created Orange Academy to start teaching people how to find their creative self. Love themselves. Tell compelling stories. I put all my life into it. Then, I started to undo all my pseudo coping skills. Oh, I had tons of them. Like getting married, wanting people to accept me, being the ‘yes’ man to Ministers of God – something I did in times past to assure myself I was doing ‘God’s will.’ I stopped sending my money to Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and started investing it on people I could see around me. Little did I realize that God didn’t send me to do anything to gain his favor or search for him. God had never been lost. I was meant to find myself and live my authentic life. Lift people up. Fight the oppression around me. I started spending time with myself. I started working out at the gym. I started to travel to enjoy the universe.

2008 – 2010. I looked in the mirror, and I saw a better me. A younger me. A healthier me. No more lies. At Orange Academy, we started the ART OF POSITIVE THINKING and started to use our arts and money to assist people living with debilitating diseases or social conditions. I took those layers of lies off my soul. I started writing my memoir – my full story as a preacher boy trying to find God who arkenny 7t in heaven! [ THE EXODUS coming out next year ]

2014. November. I had an appointment with my doctor in Maryland, USA, and he asked me:
‘What’s your secret?’ All your medical tests are amazing. We tested for everything possible. No new infections or conditions. Blood work is excellent. Nothing at all to worry about. Perfect health. Just that you are still HIV+.’
‘Oh really?’ I said. ‘I thought that had disappeared.’
‘ Well, it’s still there, sadly. I hope Science gets the cure someday soon.’

We both laughed and then I fought back a little tear in my eyes. This dude doesn’t know how grateful I am for HIV. Thank God for HIV. I wish I never had it, but Lord I did! It made me run after myself. Maybe I would never have understood myself; that no one can save us but us. Maybe I would never know the refreshing power that loneliness can bring when we embrace our broken self.

Here’s what I want you to take away: don’t end your dreams just because you are presented with bad news along the way. Remember, HIV doesn’t kill anymore; it’s ignorance that kills. Use that bad news to ride onto your next phase. It will be tough. I won’t lie. Don’t be afraid to live vulnerably. It’s empowering. Empower yourself by loving yourself. Find yourself. Give yourself to people without expecting anything in return. If you are a Faith person, keep living your Faith in love for humankind. Empty yourself and accept to be filled with kindness from others. Believe me, there are still angels out there to lift you up.

*NOTE: Potentially I cannot infect anyone with HIV since my viral load went to undetectable since 2008. Nevertheless, I still advise that you take precaution with sexual partners as an HIV+ person, so they don’t infect you with STDs. If you have not tested, know your status. It’s liberating. Starting an HIV medication now doesn’t only protect your loved ones but can make you live even longer than people without HIV. Want to chat? Send me an email at kennybrandmuse@gmail.com

Exotic Travel Tales: A Fly Girl

A Fly Girl. Travel Tales of an Exotic British Airways cabin Crew.      flygirlfullcover17112014

Blurb

A Fly Girl gives insight to the highs and lows in the world of a former BA cabin crew, in an intriguing travel writing memoir. In the global landscape the memoirist meticulously documents personal adventures, social structures and political history throughout her daring and exciting expeditions. Conveying tales from the America’s, Arabia, Asia to Africa the narrative is fuelled with race, gender and sexuality as the author walks through hip hop history and experiences terrain vibrations and eruptions. The author exposes her relation to addictions, alcohol, air rage and the life of the jet set, highlighting history of British Airways at forty.

 

Amanda tells poiamanda epe-36 2 (1)gnant stories that portray the complications of humanity; others are alarming, amusing and vivid and manifest the nature of humankind, the kith and kin of a global family. In addition to powerful story telling infused with lyrical prose the book is also spiritual and reveals a healing mindset as the autobiographer deals with the battle of self esteem, national identity, and aesthetics for women in an image conscious world.  Is Amanda transformed by travel?

 

Reviews

This book provides a rich insight into the author’s adventures across the globe as cabin crew for British Airways. Navigating her way across the world, the author exposes the difficulties in connecting with citizens from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, many of who held patriarchal norms that challenged the author’s normative assumptions about gender equality. It’s an interesting and enjoyable read.

Charlotte Proudman, Barrister QC

 

This book is a woman’s journey to find her true identity, going through the journeys of being a black woman in non-ethnic dominated role. It’s an awakening story of learning about loving and owning one’s true identity beyond the expectation of what it means to be a woman and yes women do fart lol.

Lillian Ogbogoh, International Best Selling Author and Sensuality Discovery Specialist

 

Intimate and frank stories give rise to funny and touching moments in this memoir of an air hostess.  We’ve all wanted to be a fly on the wall at times but Amanda is a fly on the world observing complex and evolving social realities through each stop on her travels. Although her focus is those she meets, when her often rose-tinted expectations are dismantled we catch a glimpse of Amanda that is at once unexpected – perhaps unintended and very compelling in its sincerity. A fresh and original voice.

Vanessa Walters, Author and Journalist Guardian & BBC  

Travel Writing from an African Perspective.

Amanda Epe is the first seminal story teller on the narrative of being black cabin crew with British Airways. Amanda Epe writes articles, essays, poetry, fiction and self- help.

Her work has been featured in publications and anthologies in the U.K, U.S and in Saraba Literary Magazine Nigeria. A Fly Girl is her debut book, an inspirational memoir of her days working with BA; travel tales through the lens of a black African perspective.

She has a Master’s in Education, Health Promotion and International Development and her blog focuses on promoting health and literary art for women. She spoke to Tundun Adeyemo from www.blackandoutspoken.com recently.

What books are on your Kindle now?

I am reading a new book Bamboo and Fern by Ava Brown. I love memoirs and in this one we are in sunny Jamaica, it is really inspirational. Taken of the bookshelf once again, I am reading Adichie’s Americanah, Chimamanda is so powerful, I love her works.  I am also re-reading The Alchemist by my favourite author Paulo Coelho

What book will you be giving away for Christmas? Mama Christmas is doing generous this year, look out for A Fly Girl at a price next to nothing.

What inspires you to write? Are you going to keep writing? Life and experiences mostly, but other writers play a part in my writing. I ought to continue as I know what is good for me.

If you had the opportunity to do anything all over again, what would it be?amanda epe-14 (2)

A Fly Girl, oh yes I’d do that again but this time with larger wings.

Talk us through the characters in your book? We have an activist, a caricature, an entrepreneur, some shopaholics, alcoholics and other addictive personalities like flirts, and of course the protagonist heroine. Also tourists, many ists, including a chauvinist!

Must we always look through the lense of feminism and race? In the next plane, when taken to another planet when we elevate there, these words will be archaic. lol!

Why is your book different? It is an opportunity to read real life writing whilst going on a world tour of entertainment, adventure and history.

What two things would you like to be remembered by? Black and outspoken Tundun, but that is plagiarism so I say a seeker of truth and transformation

Would BA cringe to read what you have to say? BA have a history of offences with Nigerian passengers, they would hardly be embarrassed by my words, but they would fear to loose bookings and business if like many passengers I have spoken to say they prefer Virgin.

Where can we find more about your book?

A Fly Girl, the kindle version is now available on Amazon. A Fly Girl will be available in print from Amazon, Waterstones and all good retailers by January 2015. For deluxe and author signed copies for people in the UK, you may order from Blossom Books at mail@msroseblossom.org
Connect with her on social media facebook.com/msroseblossom and twitter@msroseblossom

Emma Blooms at Last

Emma Blooms at Last’.

Romance is in the air during the fall wedding season in the Amish community of Cedar Creek. But while one loving couple prepares to tie the knot, Amanda and Wyman Brubaker’s large family faces a threat from outside their happy circle…and must learn to pull together.Cover_Emma_Blooms_At_Last

Recently wed Amanda and Wyman Brubaker are thrilled that their children from previous marriages have blended together to form a strong family. But when the construction of Wyman’s new grain elevator is delayed, making the project more expensive than anticipated, Amanda’s determination to rally the kids into taking on work to improve the family’s finances comes into conflict with Wyman’s sense of responsibility as head of the household….

Meanwhile, as James Graber and Abby Lambright prepare for their long-awaited nuptials, folks gather from far and wide. Amanda’s nephew Jerome has long been smitten with James’s sister Emma and wants to seize this chance to woo her. But Emma’s been burned once and is twice shy of trusting the fun-loving, never-serious Jerome. As Emma and Jerome struggle to understand each other, and find the courage to make a leap of faith, the Brubakers face a bigger challenge than they first anticipated and begin to discover just what it means to fight…the Amish way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

“It’s been way too long since I hitched up a sleigh,” Jerome said as he lightly clapped the reins on Sparky’s back. “I don’t think this one’s seen the snow since Uncle Atlee passed, and that’s a shame. Are you warm enough?”

Emma burrowed deeper beneath the quilts Jerome had draped over them. Now that she was settled on the plush old seat, leaning into Jerome as the sleigh tilted slightly on the downhill lane, she felt happier than she had in a long time. The full moon was beaming down from a blue velvet sky dotted with diamond stars, making the snow-blanketed pastures glimmer all around them.

“I’m cozy. And I’m having a really gut time,” Emma replied with a contented sigh. “Night rides are the prettiest, especially now that the wind has died down.”

“Jah, it’s a perfect evening,” Jerome replied softly. “I’ve been hoping for more time alone with you, well—since the day we went shopping, Emma.”

As she thought back to that day she’d spent trying to escape Jerome’s attentions, Emma let herself relax . . . allowed the breeze from the accelerating sleigh blow away her former objections to the handsome man who was driving it. The clip-clop of Sparky’s hooves on the snow-packed road settled her heartbeat into its rhythm while the warmth they shared beneath the quilts soothed her after a day of surprising guests and revelations. “Denki for giving me another chance, Jerome,” she murmured. “You were right at the wedding. I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities to go out and have fun.”

Interview with Naomi King

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

Criticism meets you at every turn when you’re a writer, even after you’re multi-published for years. For this interview, I’m going to discount the type of negative, irrelevant “reviews” you get on Amazon and other sales sites online. It’s been a whole new education, learning that there are people out there with nothing better to do than trash your books in public, most likely without reading them.

As far as legitimate criticism goes, my agent and editors have most often told me that my stories don’t deal with enough conflict. While I understand, mentally, that you don’t have much of a story without conflict, emotionally I really abhor conflict and confrontation. Like Abby Lambright in my Home at Cedar Creek series, I’m a peacemaker. So I have to make a real effort to build in enough conflict, especially between the hero and heroine, to keep my work salable.

I’ve also been told that I don’t follow the “rules” of the romance genre—and frankly, I don’t always consider that a bad thing! I’m not sure those same genre expectations are as strong for these Amish stories, where readers want so much more about the culture and characters’ day-to-day activities, but it’s still important to develop a mature, loving relationship between my heroes and heroines. Love is the greatest power in the world, and whether it’s God’s love or a couple’s love, I strive to create scenes and situations that show love overcoming difficulties in believable, uplifting ways. That sort of love transcends any “rules” the publishing industry can tell you to follow!

What is your favorite kind of food? Favorite thing to cook/bake?

Oh my, what’s not my favorite food?! About the only things I refuse to eat are sushi, okra, and Brussels sprouts. If we’re out for breakfast I like pancakes, because they’re always better than I make at home. In recent years AuthorPic (2)

I’ve taken to ordering more broiled fish and snazzy salads because the bread and pasta just aren’t doing me any favors. I’m short and I sit all day, and when the metabolism went south with the hormones several years ago, it got a lot harder to keep the weight off.

I also bake nearly 100 dozen Christmas cookies each fall/winter to share with family and friends. When we lived in Jefferson City, I donated more than 25 dozen of those cookies for the Christmas Eve services, but now that we’ve moved, I’ve cut back on how many I bake. I’m big on making muffins and homemade soups, too.

A couple of years ago when the doc got concerned about my blood pressure, though, I went on the EAT TO LIVE diet at her recommendation. Yup, I went vegan for about eight weeks. Dropped about 20 pounds, but the biggest thing I did for myself was get off the sugar, the Sweet-N-Low, and most processed foods.

Once I got out of that “sweetness” habit, I found it much easier to stay away from those cookies I love to bake (my husband, bless him, is not into bean cuisine or platefuls of salad and veggies) and to forego the bread. My cholesterol went down a lot, my blood pressure improved, and my doctor was ecstatic. I’ve added back things like yogurt and some fish and poultry, but I still eat a lot of vegetarian stuff except when we go on vacation. Even then, I’m not the party girl I used to be and I try to eat less. But you know…chocolate is a plant-based food! And dark chocolate has all those flavonoids that are so good for you. 😉

AUTHOR Bio 

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Naomi King writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series. Like her series heroine, Abby Lambright, Naomi considers it her personal mission to be a listener—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls—and to share her hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and frugality are hallmarks of her lifestyle: like Abby, she made her wedding dress and the one her mom wore, too! She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, Naomi loves to travel, try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Naomi, whose real name is Charlotte Hubbard, now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie, Ramona.

http://www.NaomiKingAuthor.com

https://www.facebook.com/NaomiC.King

One Big Happy Family, Book 2

NAL Trade (November 4, 2014)

ISBN-13: 9780451417886 •• ISBN-10: 0451417887

 

Buy Links:

The Book Depository •• http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780451417886

Amazon •• http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0451417887/

Barnes & Noble •• http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?ean=9780451417886

B-A-M •• http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9780451417886

Chapters •• http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/a/9780451417886-item.html

IndieBound •• http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451417886

Powell’s •• http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9780451417886

Ebook

Kindle •• http://www.amazon.com/Emma-Blooms-At-Last-Family-ebook/dp/B00INIJJA8/

Nook •• http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/emma-blooms-at-last-naomi-king/1118739023?ean=9781101608432

Kobo ••http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/emma-blooms-at-last

iBooks •• https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/emma-blooms-at-last/id828761041?mt=11

 

Child Abuse, an end in sight?

The video seemed ordinary enough. A woman is feeding a baby and sometimes she feeds herself from the baby’s food. This is typical of most mothers. Then as the woman stops feeding, the child sits up and vomits the food. The woman then throws the baby on the floor, hits her several times with what looks like a torch. Still unsatisfied and in obvious annoyance, she steps over the baby twice, kicking her as she does so.

The video has gone viral having been viewed about 27 million times as at the time of writing this piece. It has also appeared in many dallies in the United Kingdom, UK. The woman is a 22-year-old nanny from Uganda looking after the 18 month old baby of one Eric Kamanzi. The outcry and provocative response this video has generated shows the traumatic effect it generated on people across the world.

When we talk about child domestic abuse, this is a classic example of it. It is an everyday occurrence that we (as parents) need to be mindful of. So what can we learn from this video even though (thankfully) it didn’t happen in Nigeria?

For starters, it shows that child abuse is quite prevalent; it is commonplace and takes many forms. One of it is physical beating or smacking which leaves bruises; the other is the verbal, persistent onslaught that a child is subjected to. A mother in the UK found that her toddler had stopped making physical progress such as crawling. She thought her baby was more cheerful than what her toddler had become when she started to take her to a babyminder. So she visited the minder unannounced to find that her baby was tied to her seat, covered in his own vomit. His nappy had been unchanged as well. Another minder was caught inducing a child with medicine.

Little children can be quite a stressful undertaking for adults who are weak and feeble. People who look after children are more likely to take their frustration on the child in question. Another case was a father who threw his baby son across a wall. The child survived that ordeal but went on to develop severe complications from which he died nine years later. The man was arrested and in court it was found rather unfortunately that the boy’s death was not linked to the trauma his father had imposed upon him.

People who look after children on a regular basis need to be monitored as, unwittingly, they may bring harm on the children they are looking after. This includes parents. A child is more likely to die by injuries inflicted by his own parents than from any other place.

Parents need to realise that they are not angels. When they get tired and weary, they should seek to relieve that stress by doing other things than imposing themselves on their children. Children are kids whose bones are undeveloped. Mothers especially can suffer from post-natal depression. Child domestic abuse is real and the question is, what do you do when you suspect your child is being abused? You can do what the father of the child in the video above did. He installed hidden cameras around his house to record what the nanny was doing to his daughter. This can be expensive but it can provide the much needed peace of mind. The candid advice is if you have any reasons to doubt the integrity or character of your minder, then don’t use that minder. This also includes the fact that if you suspect the minder to be a social person who entertains a lot, then you don’t want your child in that person’s house. Your child could be at risk of grooming and abuse from the guests of the minder. In the UK, many times a parent has to drop the child with the minder than the other way round as it is in Nigeria.

Secondly, you need to look for marks left on a child’s body. Parents should query every cut, bruise and mark left on a child’s body especially if it carries on and it becomes unexplainable. Thirdly, parents must make sure the nursery or minder is staffed with competent people. In the UK, people who look after kids must regularly undergo police checks. Could this be introduced in Nigeria? Could we have a database of all persons accused of child abuse? Surely we can do something legally to protect our children. This answer is left to our legal, judicial, political, educational and religious institutions.ugandan baby

In the UK, public opinion is being shaped to offer men who find children attractive to come out and seek help. As revolting as this sounds, could we also see a shift in the way we see child abusers? Could we offer potential abusers the opportunity to seek help in medical institutions in Nigeria?

The father of the child in the video later posted recent photos of the child showing her happy and smiling. This does not help calm nerves, as that child needs to undergo diagnostic scans to check that she hasn’t broken or damaged anything or that nothing is bleeding internally.

The decision to bring up children is a very sober one; it is one that imposes a responsibility that never stops. This incident happened in Uganda; it can happen anywhere in the world. The nanny will be charged to court and the world awaits what the sentence will be. For the rest of us with little children, we must carry on doing the best we can to protect our children.

 

Poetry is an intimate way to express myself

I met Theresa Lola when she performed at the African Literary Evening. She was given a standing ovation for her poem ‘Bring back our Girls’. She has a mesmerizing power and you will agree with me that she is incredibly talented.  Quietly spoken, she spoke to Tundun Adeyemo from www.blackandoutspoken.com over the weekend.

 Why poetry? Ho did you get into poetry?                Afterlight_Edit_2014_11_09_15_36

I developed an interest in writing while in primary school after entering a story writing competition set up by the school. In my teenage years, I began experiencing more things in life and I began to focus on poetry as I felt it was a more intimate and powerful way to express myself.

What is the most that has generated most acclaim for you?

The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ poem has so far generated me the most acclaim. It’s a poem written for the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April 2014. Apart from me, there are a lot of people doing all they can to keep the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign alive so people really connected with the emotions of the poem when they heard it.

Who is your favorite poet?

I have a few who I admire for different reasons. Three of my favourites are Warsan Shire, Aja Monet and Zora Howard.

What books are you reading now?

Imagine This by Sade Adeniran, Americanah by Chimamanda Adiche She Sweats by Aja Monet

Are there enough female African poets or spoken word artistes?

A lot of poets are ‘underground’ writers and sometimes unless involved in the stage or other forms of promotion it is hard to tell just how many female African poets there are in the UK. There could be more, however, the few that are in the UK are doing great things with their work and are setting a path and standard for those coming in to the spoken word scene.

Who is the most famous artiste you have worked with?

As of now, most of my collaborations have been with either filmmakers or producers. I frequently work a music producer from London called ‘Kente Kwame’ who has produced music for the likes of Fifi Rong, Elijah Benoit and The Wordstress. In the future, I would love to collaborate with other poets.

Where are you going with your poetry? Is this what you wanted to be when you were younger?

I have always wanted to be a writer. I would love to release a a book and someday hopefully perform full time.  Being successful in the world of both spoken word and written poetry is  my main dream.

What inspires you?

Everything my eyes have seen or my ears have heard or my hands have touched inspires me. Past experiences, along with my childhood and my perspective on life are huge inspirations. My poems are also a reflection of social and political issues in the world today. The desire to be an added voice to these issues inspires me to write about them

Tell us something about you that you haven’t told anybody before

Hmm hahaa, I once took karate classes when I was 12, but after noticing the tall people in the karate class and seeing my own small skinny body, I decided to quit.

Are you looking forward to Christmas?

I am very excited.  Christmas, it’s such a joyful time of the year. It’s a family tradition every year for us where we  come together as a family to play games, cook, open presents and just have fun.

Is there a link between poetry and fashion? I see you like fashion as well.

I love fashion, both are ways in which I express myself. Finding my own style and finding my own voice in poetry as I got out of my shy shell were similar journeys growing up. Both have blossomed at the same time which is why there are interchangeable tools for me. Fashion is just as powerful, a symbol of an expression. A color can tell you different emotions based on how a person is wearing it, same way two poets can write about the same thing but from different angles.

Any message for those who want to be like you?

Write as much as you can to get your mind into the habit of opening up. Be persistent, network and prioritize.

Everybody has enjoyed the poem about the Chibok girls you wrote why did you write it?

I was first approached by a media platform called ‘Word On The Curb’ to write about a current issue. Upon finding out the youngest girl kidnapped was about 9, I felt an even stronger urge to write the poem ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ on the Chibok Girls. A nine year old girl, no one in fact should have to be separated from the normal lives in a painful way. I felt different emotions, sadness, anger and remorse not just for the girls but for their families.

You are working on your book, when should we expect that?

The book should be released before summer of 2015. It’s something I want to take my time with and give it my all.

Where can we find out more about you?

My Twitter handle is @theresa_lola.  I have a poetry and fashion blog which is creativeshot.tumblr.com

Thank you so much.