Hello God

 

I have decided to title my post today Hello God!

Driving to work yesterday, I listened to  Hello God! Dolly Parton. The song got me thinking, hence this. Since my last article, I have been inundated with calls of people trying to help. This is sweet.

Naked is not auto biographical. This is just me trying to write. So please don’t send e-chocolates, flowers, texts or GIFs. I am -believe it or not- actually good. All I want is for you to read and maybe even like the article. Leaving a comment would be amazing.

Hello God

Are you seeing the suffering all around? Much of it cannot be put into words. Brexit and Trump dwarf the national conversations, yet a lot is going on that is not making the evening news.

Blacks, Africans, Asians, people who don’t look the part feel small and smaller as the rhetoric hardens. It is getting easier for head teachers, managers, recruitment managers to undermine people like me.

Racism had been repressed under the Labour government. Now, it seems, people are not ashamed to say that they don’t want your services because you are black. Add the fact that you are African, you stand no chance. Had you been a Brit with a funky accent, perhaps that could have helped. But, you are African. No one cares. Do you?

Hello God

It took me twenty years to get my Indefinite leave to remain in this country. Yet, ‘they’  make me feel as though I don’t belong.

I don’t belong.

After twenty years.Twenty years of residence. Twenty years of PAYE, twenty years of NI contributions. Twenty years.

Hello God

Unless accountants find a creative way around IR 35, many of us will return  back to where we came from.Slowly, our hard earned income will be exploited by greedy umbrella companies  executives who chill in luxury offices  drinking black coffee. Faceless  executives who will become wealthy on my labour and then they spit in my face.

Hello God

My babysitter is in Lagos. She   looked after my toddler so I could work nights. She had gone to visit her man in Barking. The Metropolitan Police and Immigration sniffed her out. She had ‘Deport me’ written all over her fore head. What do I do? I promise you I didn’t know she was illegal. You don’t ask these questions. Do you?

Hello God

Tina’s text message took away my sleep over night. She had just returned from a trip to see her father, only to be told that he passed away this morning. It was a text message that needed a reply, but none was forthcoming. She needs to tell me how to support her. Facebook messages mean nothing. This is hard. He  was like a father to me. Back in the day, his financial support kept my family going.

 

Hello God

I need to say this, if you were real, there would be less turmoil and upset in my world today. You know about my skepticisms about your reality, my secret fears, the sleepless nights, my unexpressed anguish, disguised disappointments, repetitious frustrations, deep regrets, pain, silent tears and helplessness at my situation. Yet, you do nothing.

I dont mean to be disrespectful ….but You do nothing.

Did I say God? Some comfort in choosing not the believe that You are who you say you are. 

Regrets, upon regrets. Living with the in laws, had I known  it was going to end like this, I would not have married him. Saliu wont let me work after  ten years of marriage. My days are idly spent. My worth as a woman is determined by the kind of day he has had at work.

After the school run, I am stuck in the house. A prisoner in my home, a stranger to my neighbours, a door mat to my husband. I live in a free country, but I am chained to the cultural yoke of my people, my inability to speak the common language represses me. I am in chains.  A prisoner in the UK, allowed by the religion and culture I choose to profess.  My mother says, I will get used to it. She survived it loosing her soul in the process.

I died ten years ago. I die every day.

Hello God

The bitch dad had sex  wants me dead.

Hello God

This is our third attempt trying for a baby.

Hello God

I need a JOB!!!!

Hello God

I got rid of the baby so we could have a life together. He broke up with me last night.

Hello God

It took me seven years to get out of debt. Slowly. Yet, my mortgage application has been denied nine times. I can’t get  credit of any kind.

Hello God

My son is on drugs. It is out of control. One day, I know the police will call me to tell me he is dead or he is victim of knife crime. I just know it. I need to get out of this neighbourhood. Years of trashy living and I am paying for it.

Hello God

If you are reading this, please give me the grace to believe that you work all things together for my good.

 

 

I have been Naked!

T

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Desperation for love

This is not something we talk about.But it’s there. The need for companionship. Real friendship. The need to be with someone. The ache, hunger, desire to find love and perhaps even the one. But is there a ‘one’ for every body? It gets worse when every once in a while, your family sticks a knife in your wounded heart by asking what you are doing to find the ‘one’. Innocent question but one that crashes your world momentarily. 

The truth is he is already married with children.He was married ten years or so. … the pictures are on Facebook. So many reasons why he isnt coming for me. He cannot commit, he is into men now. He has been all along.He lives a lie.  I don’t know. I haven’t found ‘the one’. 

Some men are messed up too.

I should have told mum that he became a Christian missionary and went to live  in the slums of India. I  know India is great and all but I am not moving to India. Or I could have told her that he is at a train station in Madrid, Islamabad or Mogadishu waiting for me. Seas, mountains, deserts and everything in between separates us.

There is no one out there. There has never been. If he is at a station in Modagishu, he is not coming to Beds alright? That’s the truth and I am not going to cry about it.

My biological clock started ticking at 25. It was still ticking at 35. It will keep ticking till I am 55 I think. Or whenever menopause hits. There is no such to thing as ‘the one’.

Not for me.Any ways. 

We tend to deal with this loss or need for love  in our own way. Some of us focus on our jobs, careers, aspirations, goals, kids and so on.This is good but we tend only to bury that need for love. Momentarily. Till Mitchell calls you at 1030pm wanting to come over. Thats all he offers. You stopped the booty calls. 

We comb online dating sites looking for the ‘one’. We live on social media waiting for the next comment, next like, next recognition of any kind. Desperate for anything.Desperate for conversation.Hoping to hide that need to find love under a canopy of a messy online profile. That hunger is still there, it’s not going any where. 

You are reminded at Valentine that you are alone. You hate Christmas and holidays because it shows you up. No one is bringing you a card, your phone is not going to ring, no one is coming for you. Thousands of birthday greetings but not one from anyone special. Meaningless.

This loneliness is amplified during holidays. You stay late at work, work the gym, work yourself, hide in places where no one will think to look for you.  Alcohol become a steady companion. Reliable. You try drugs. Its okay. Your friends do it too. They bring it to the office car park. It’s okay. For the moment. 

The need for love be it philio or erotic lies deep within each of us. Tormenting us. It wakes with us. Well hidden under our sophisticated make up combination. Or macho build.

Our compact and self contained lives hides the fact that secretly we want more. More from the relationship. More talk.More communication.More understanding. Just more of someone else.Period. Sometimes it’s hard for our partners to fulfill the need as it’s deep. We are insatiable. We keep wanting more. It’s ugly. The question is could a human really fill that void?

Brotherly love. The lack of it. When we see it in a person or displayed in a film on TV, we make that moment a shrine because brotherly love is a rarity in the world we live. 

Many of us though long and live for the erotic love. The love that is meant for married couples. The love we see around on TV when our protagonists have mind blowing sex making us wonder about our own sex lives. Erotica love. Over played in our TV screens.over played in the novels we read.  Over played everywhere.

Some are into porn. The momentary fix. Fantasies. Unrealistic ideals of a sex life behind closed doors. Porn. Enslaved and embarrassed to admit that Albanian,Serbian and Chinese girls have gotten you hooked. 

Yet still hungry. Erotic love is not enough. It works for the moment. But it does not satisfy.Deeply. It does not guarantee commitment. It does not promise ‘happy ever after’. It does not guarantee marriage. It’s nothing to be honest. Even with the right person, there is still that longing for more. There is still that question ‘what more can I get?’, ‘what more can I give? ‘

Desperation. 

For love.

Could the answer be in another type of love? Agape love. The unconditional love of God.Could God satisfy this soul? Could he? Is he? Can he? They say He is all I need. This desperation is not going away. My perspective can change. This can be fixed. Can it?

There has to be something more. Out there.For me. Could it be in the agape? God has it. Whatever it is. He has what I need.

I have been naked. This is a write up. Don’t judge. Leave your comments below:)

T

Naked: a slow staRT.

It will be painful.  And slow..but the process is necessary.It has taken me years to get here. It has taken me time to find the courage to write again . The most important point is that I am writing.I got my groove back. The need to write had been urgent upon me. This feels so good right now.Bearing my heart on this blog. Bold.I am ready. 

Layer by layer we will peel. The scales must come off. One by one the masks, the make up, the lipstick, all of it, will come off. It has too. 

We will remove the shakles till we get to the tRuth. Our truth. My truth. About life, love, living and just being. Is there one  truth or multiple truths? Whatever the truth is. We will find it and when we do, it will be the most beautiful thing.

It won’t be easy. Nothing good is easy. Uncovering the past. Burying the garbage and facing the demons which lurk in the dark corners dominating questions that need answers. Questions that don’t go away. Questions about life that needs to be settled. Questions that have no answers. Difficult questions.Questions nonetheless.

It will be uncomfortable . Facing the past. Tearing down strongholds. But its got to be done. To move forward we need to nakedly face our fears head on. This is what this blog is about the peeling of layers. Layers of lies, layers of pride, layers of ignorance, layers of vanity, layers life  have brought on. At Naked, we examine what truth is. Uncovering truth.whatever that is..talKing about issues that arrest growth. Just talking. 

Naked we are born.Naked we return. Yet the unexamined life is not worth living. The truth about me lies in the nakedness of my soul.

Join me daily, weekly, monthly I don’t know as I uncover truths. Naked.  Are you ready?

 

T

 

My Forever Family: an adoption story

The world media ran stories about this family in West Virginia, United States who have 34 children and counting.  An incredible story of love and sacrifice, I heard about the couple today. The more I read, the more captivated I am about this show of love. How many people out their can open up their hearts and homes to adopt one child, let alone 29? Some of the children they adopted have special needs as well. Not easy.

The amazing story  of  Jeanne and Paul Briggs caught the world’s attention in November 2014. With five biological children of their own, Jeane and Paul have adopted children from Mexico, Ghana, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

‘Over the past 29 years, as more children  have arrived, the Brigg’s house has been adapted for their expanding family. The home now has nine bedrooms, two of which resemble dormitories at over 5,000 square feet. According to the BBC website, they spend £640 every week grocery shopping.

The question is why do they do it? Or perhaps, why not? Some of these children have medical needs, this has not deterred Jeane and Paul. Jane said ‘ I guess all my life, even as a child, I knew I would adopt and have a large family. Every child deserves a home’.

Adoption is a beautiful thing and more of us should try adopting. It is an option, I for one, would consider later on in life. I would love to adopt a four year old girl, so she could be a sister to my daughter. I know I have a lot to  offer, but at the right time. I think.

I have one or maybe even two friends, who have adopted  and I like what I see. I think more people should consider adopting a child… there are about 6,000 children in the UK who need adopting. Children who need hugs, children who need the safety and security of a loving home, children who want to give all of themselves back to a someone in return. The UK government is trying to speed up the process of adoption. Right now, it takes about two years and seven months.

To be adopted in the UK, a child must be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made and the child must not have been married or  be in a civil partnership.

The child’s birth parents normally must agree to the adoption unless, they can’t be found or they are incapable of giving consent  or the child would be put at risk if they were not adopted.

The ultimate question is who can adopt in the UK? Can I adopt?  The answer is simple. You may be able to adopt a child if you are aged 21 or over.  I watched BBC documentary on the effect of fostering and adoption earlier on today and it broke my heart. If I could, I would open my home right now to every child who needs a home. But, it is not that simple. Heaven help!

Currently, there is no upper age limit to adopting.  You do not have to be married either. You can be single,married, in a civil partnership, unmarried or be the partner of the child’s parent.

According to http://www.gov.uk/child-adoption, to adopt, you can either  go through an adoption agency that is part of your local council or a voluntary adoption agency. There are about 6,000 children across the UK needing adoption every year. These children come from a range of  backgrounds which include  Black African, Caribbean, Asian and mixed ethnicity.

According to the website: http://www.baaf.org, the number of BME children who are looked after by a local authority is increasing  year on year. The majority of these children are over  five years old and in need of families to provide them with permanent homes. Of course, there is support is available  through the process. The support may be through the help of a social worker allocated, professional training to assist with the task of fostering and financial renumeration.

Here is a video to raise awareness about adoption from across Wales. Heart warming stories about finding the ‘forever family’. Video from http://www.baaf.org.uk.

For more on the Briggs family, please visit their blog: blessedbyachild.blogspot.co.uk.

Images from http://www.bbc.co.uk and blessedbyachild.blogspot.co.uk.

I am not Charlie

After September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, the US went on the offensive, rounding up and imprisoning many without fair trial. Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is evidence of the many illegalities and the abuse of human rights perpetuated in the name of the war against terror. President Obama has tried to close Guantanamo Bay, but it is a struggle. Fourteen years on, the war on terrorism has changed its face. Western countries have realised that they are more at risk of home terrorist-607711_1280grown terrorism than terrorism from overseas. Radicalisation is a serious problem faced in the United Kingdom. Disaffected young men and women are lured into militant Islam. They are brain washed into believing that they must participate in the Jihad.

Islam is not necessarily under attack as Islam is about submission and peace. In France, in the wake of the massacre at the satirical Charlie Hebdo offices, the authorities have about 3,000 people on their radar. A logistical nightmare, France must now pay to secure fundamental freedoms. These Muslims, who have been to Syria to fight the Jihad are returning back and they may be planning another attack. The rest of us will know no peace. This is terrorism on our door step. Belgium, Australia and Germany have experienced their own versions of home grown terrorism. Why is there a disconnect between Muslims and the West? Is there a disconnect? Could we understand this trend better? Are these questions we should be asking?

The world’s attention and prayers was on Paris as she defended her democracy after 17 people were killed by the onslaught of two demented militant Islamists. The brothers we believe, killled in the name of the great prophet Mohammed. They took away the lives of men they did not know, men who never hurt them. The main reason for the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was to seek revenge for the disrespect the magazine had constantly displayed on the beloved Prophet. Is this enough for 17 people to be killed?

The magazine should have been respectful. But, it is a satirical magazine, brazen in publishing images adherents of the Abrahamic religions find abhorrent. It is deplorable, but did the journalists who worked at the magazine need to pay with their lives? This magazine says everything people are scared to say in public. But, should their freedom have been curbed? Should they have the right to disrespect sacred images and beliefs? Should there be a balance between your freedom to free speech and my freedom to worship my God- one which you cannot disrespect? Could disaffected Muslims have taken the satirical magazine to court to seek redress rather than the massacre? Could Charlie Hebdo have been avoided?

Obviously, there are no arguments to support the killers.   The brothers were demented and in hell they would rot for all eternity having deprived ordinary journalists , people and police officers their lives. Children have lost their fathers/mothers, wives their husbands and vice versa, mothers their sons/daughters. A tragedy from which France may never recover from.

Every religion should have within itself a means to protect itself from naysayers and demented members of society. Each time we look, jihadism is gaining grounds and winning new converts. Every religion should be strong and man enough to withstand the jabs and the jests of satirical magazines.

There is a story in the Bible for example where the a man upstages a god. The man’s community want to kill him for disrespecting their idol, but his father steps in and says ‘let the god defend himself , if he is truly god’. The god never did and so eventually, the community moved away from worshipping that idol. Is that an argument therefore, can the gods of Islam arise and defend itself from non-believers? If this ever happens, Boko Haram for example would become jobless and need a new ideology of hate to kill and maim indiscriminately.

Whilst the West re-ignite arguments to preserve democracy and the culture and freedom of free speech, the rest of the world must begin a conversation about the efficacy of religion. Is Islam as dangerous as these men have portrayed it? Should we move towards atheism or humanism? Perhaps, the better questions to ask is why is Islam the fastest growing religion in the West? The answer is simple. Many people are hungry for equality and in Islam they find that equality. It must be said that many countries including France for years have treated black people which includes Muslims as second class citizens. I suspect, it is this anger that is channelled into Islam and which comes out as terrorism or fanaticism.

Unfortunately, the brothers have not done Islam any favours. It is hard to view Islam as a peaceful religion. It is becoming hard to distance Islam from Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ISIS in Syria and Iraq. If one can speak the truth with the fear of reprisals, Islam has become tarnished by the jihadists and the peaceful emblem in Islam is a hard sell. Yet, these miscreants are not really Muslims, they are criminals, arsonists, terrorists and evil people. No religion in 2014 orders men to behead, shoot innocent reporters, kidnap children. That is not Islam. Islam is not murderous. I am not defending Islam, my position is simple. Call these evil men what they are criminals, it gets confusing when they are labelled as Muslims. Unless of course Islam is not a religion of peace?

Muslim leaders in the UK received a letter from the Communities minister Eric Pickles, urging senior Muslims to explain how Islam ‘can be a part of British identity’. Whilst David Cameron has defended the letter, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB)  criticised the tone of the letter and parts of the letter which says ‘that extremism takes place at mosques’. Senior Muslim leaders have expressed dismay at the fact that they have to actively prove their loyalty to England. One can sympathise with both parties in this very public row as radicalisation is a big issue in England today. The murder of the soldier Lee Rigby by British born men is another indication that home grown radicalisation is a major problem in England in 2015.

The Paris Shooting has undoubtedly led to tension within Muslim communities here in the UK. Last Sunday, there was a big rally by Muslims in Luton. The rally was essentially to say that they were marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammed. The march was peaceful and no incidents were recorded. It is okay to march, but the increasing cases of Islamic terrorism in the West -Belgim and Germany- is uncomfortable.

The case should there be made that even though Islam is a peaceful religion, those who kill in the name of Islam are not Muslims but criminals. Boko Haram is a criminal organisation. We should divorce the acts of these criminals from Islam because they do not represent Islam in any way.

The need of the Muslims to march, the need to show unity in faith is extremely important as every day Muslims are under attack from a growing rise in hate crimes. Religious motivated incidents is also on the increase. My problem with this is that ordinary peaceful Muslims are attacked randomly because they are Muslims. This is not fair, so the conversation must begin that that jihadists and terrorists are not Muslims, they are criminals for which we must seek the toughest penalites in the law for them.

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

New Year Resolutions

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. I thought to share it here.

It’s 2015 and it is looking like 2014 already. The Poltical bickering between Labour and the Conservative party has started again, this time it is about the NHS, the deficit and Immigration. In Nigeria, 2015 is looking like 2014. Or is it not? As Fela said, ‘suffering and smiling’ is still the same. The banners which say ‘corruption is not allowed here’ looms across many institutions but corruption is still one of Nigeria’s main problems.

The Chibouk girls are still missing, Boko Haram is still wrecking havoc across Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States in Northern Nigeria, massacres are still being carried out in Northern cities, suicide bombers now use little girls to carry out dastardly attacks, Brent crude dips below $50, Ebola is still ravaging parts of West Africa, power supply is still epileptic in Nigeria, and Nigerians are suffering from an inflated pound compared to a deflated Naira. Plus, It is a count down to the elections. The camp is pitched in two sides, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Before the election campaign gets hotter, here are some useful tips on how to make the best of the new unfolding year.

Hopefully, by the time you read this article, you have not already given up on your resolutions. The challenges you set for yourself is beginning to have the desired effect on you and your dreams. Many people have written on the NewYear and how new year resolutions are useful to take you to the next level. Some claim the start of the year is always a great time to start something new even though new things can be started at any time of the year. If you haven’t started on your new year resolutions or you have not given up on your resolutions, here are some ideas to help you make a fresh start. Or a fresher start of you will.

For starters, it is important to note that no one simply changes because there has been a change in the calendar. Most experts agree that it takes 21 days for a habit to set or for a new pattern to form. Simply put, it is also a case of mind over matter. Setting challenges and seeing it through in spite of difficulties.

Mark Zuckerberg started a book club as part of his new year’s resolution declaring 2015 as the ‘year of books’. You can join him and millions around the world by reading two books a month or a book a month. Better still, you can start your own book club- online book clubs are more interesting and easier to follow. Another idea is to read and analyse an ancient text this year. It could be the Bible or any other book that is guaranteed to improve the inner life or thought life. It’s easy to read on an android and Ebooks are definitely the trend.

Secondly, every year, most people decide to loose weight. By middle February, they have given up. Instead of going on another yo yo diet, a new year resolution could be to eat carbohydrates twice a week, eat more fruits and vegetables or to reduce food portions. This is a good time to give up or reduce the intake of meals like pounded yam and Amala. Resolutions must be easy to follow otherwise they will be discarded and not generate any new change. For some, it is hard to give up these meals, but cutting down the portions taken is possible.

Most people decide to join a gym at the start of every year. We pay huge sums to the gym but we never show up. Instead of following that dead pattern again, why not invest in a cross trainer that can be installed in the sitting room in front of the television so as you are watching the news or listening to your music on your iPods, you are training away? The idea here is thinking outside the box. Doing little things to make a change. One hour a day during the Network news is better than paying for gym membership and never showing up.

Why not schedule time alone to work on self? Trifling habits like perpetual   lateness enshrined as ‘African time’ and procrastination can be sorted out through ‘alone time’ growth sessions. Mental paradigms can only be shifted if we take time out to deal with reasons for personal inefficiencies.

If you are over 35, the start of the year is a good time to do a health MOT. Whilst you are at it, check for diabetes, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. You might need to cut off salt or reduce your intake of sugar.

Women are realising that the new look in town is the natural look. So the start of the year could be a great time to save on the Brazilian and go natural. The natural or ‘Earth’ look does not cost a fortune but it requires a mindset that my natural look is beautiful. What is the ‘earth’ look? The earth look has no frills, nothing artificial, elegant and actually sophisticated. It’s basically you using your own hair as opposed to fake extensions.

Men who frequent bars before they go home could decide that the need to cut down on their smoking and alcohol intake. There is another idea that runs nearly parallel to this: it is to attend less of ‘owanbe parties’. These are parties that add no real value, they are places where people gather to eat, drink and smoke for fun of it. These are also parties where comparative analysis takes place. Who has the bigger car? Whose cloth/fabric is the most expensive? These are redundant conversations with lazy minds.

Spending time with the wife and kids could take the place of the ‘owanbe’ parties. Most women would agree with me that they would like their partners to spend more time with them. By eliminating the unnecessary social gatherings, couples could actually invest in themselves and their relationships.

2015 is a year to give back to the community, church and to God. One way of doing this is by adopting a child. Yes, adopting a child: giving as child an opportunity. You don’t have to bring them to live with you, but your can sponsor their education and keep abreast with their progress. Many people already sponsor their junior ones through school. If there is scope for more, adopt a disabled child, give such a child hope to live in a tough world as ours.

You could also fundraise for your local charity. In this day and age where people struggle to keep their non governmental organisations afloat, sharing the love could mean helping them get money. Charity owners know this is so important and they couldn’t thank you enough.

Politically, this is the year to become a card carrying member of a political party. Better still, why not run for office yourself to improve the lot of humanity. Whist this is ongoing, plan to give a talk a TED Talk. The world is waiting to hear what you can share from your wealth of knowledge and experience.

Local businesses are the life wire of our country. A new year’s resolution could be to only buy from our local farmers what they produce. Buying Nigerian made goods can only become trendy if we support local businesses who are trying to produce Nigerian made goods against all odds.

Finally, live life. Write your book this year, fall in love with your self again this year. Do things with your self to show you that you care. It’s only a change of calendar and to be honest, most of us are never going to change, but we can try to make our lives better one resolution at a time.

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am Baga

I wrote this article last year and it was published in TELL Magazine in March 2014. With recent news about the disputed death toll in Baga, not much has changed.

Nigeria's Baga hrw.org
Nigeria’s Baga
hrw.org

Two names Nigerians will not forget in a hurry: Bama and Baga. One hundred and eighty-five civilians were killed in Baga by trigger-happy troops in a multinational joint task to fish out insurgents. In Nasarawa a cult, acting on a tip-off killed about 100 policemen and SSS personnel.  These deaths are in addition to the over 2,000 people killed by Boko Haram since 2010.

Meanwhile armed robberies, kidnappings and insecurity are on the increase in the South. Poverty, unemployment and insecurity are triplet evils decimating the South. Whilst some Nigerians are deluded into thinking all is well with the country, saboteurs and criminal gangs are working hard at receiving their own share of the national cake.

For human rights activists, Bama and Baga are tragic resource mines.  Bad news is a certainty everyday especially if you live in the North-east of Nigeria. From the South, the world is guaranteed news about corruption, inept leadership, kidnappings, armed robberies, paedophilia rage, and others. Even if you are not directly affected by the violence, you cannot help but feel for families who are affected.  Mothers who have lost their sons and daughters, wives who have lost their breadwinners, children who have been killed prematurely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The violence and terror in northern Nigeria is sadly giving Nigeria such publicity that deters foreign investment and with corruption, this negative publicity is hard to shake off.

Granted, some parts of Nigeria have said goodbye to tourism as an income, but one cannot help but wonder where the wonderful North has gone? One remembers travels to Maiduguri (years ago), Kano and parts of Yobe State. The North-east offers Nigeria a taste of the best in Arab cuisine and culture. The kunu drink may be the best drink yet to be exported from Nigeria but this will never be.

Northern state governors, elders and past northern leaders have failed to step up to the challenge of bringing the madness to a halt. Save issues of political dominance or 2015 presidential elections, northern leadership on the whole have been silent and this has not gone unnoticed.  The so-called Northern Elders Forum as well as past national leaders have failed to show key leadership in arresting the stagnancy of development in the North. Say what we like, we cannot divorce decades of under development with the insurgency we are witnessing now. The youths in these states are angry and very hungry hence, their embrace of Boko Haram.

Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Balyesa, Kano, Nasarawa have all experienced ‘terrorist activities and protracted security challenges’ in recent times.  But, the state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has been applauded and derided in some quarters. To others, the emergency power is seen as too little action, too late.  We wait and see how effective the state of emergency will be.   Whilst the North-east is in a state of war, it is interesting to note that very few northern leaders have come out to address how the situation can be ameliorated. We hear the Northern Elders Forum saying they wish they did not support Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, but these leaders are selfish in a way. Their lack of strategic leadership, vision and welfare of their people is one of the underlying causes of the unrest in the North.

All the three states mentioned are already under some form of emergency rule, which has not worked, what are the chances that this one will work? Ahmed Khalifa Zanna, a senator representing the Borno Central, a hotbed of the terrorist organisation was interviewed on Sahara TV, and the statements he made, if true, are very shocking. He said about 2,000 or more militants were assembled at Sambisa Games Reserve, some 40-45 kilometres from Maiduguri. These militants were supposedly there, at the time he spoke. It was unthinkable that the federal, state and local governments were aware of their existence but did nothing to disarm them before the imposition of a state of emergency in the area.

Most astonishingly, the senator revealed that he had been unable to return to his constituency for fear of being killed. He also noted that in Borno, 24 of the 27 local government areas are under the control of Boko Haram. If all these are accurate, the question is why has it taken the government this long to come to terms with the Boko Haram mess?

In the southern parts of Nigeria, insecurity is also a major issue. Banks are robbed in bold attempts, kidnapping is on the increase not decrease, unemployment and poverty, two indicators which drive criminality, are not being tackled effectively enough so we find groups challenging the authority of the state.

Many times we talk about the integrity and unity of Nigeria. We talk absentmindedly of a united Nigeria. Is there a united Nigeria? The government has never been perceived to be helpful to the common man.  Most Nigerians don’t feel they have a stake in the leadership or in Nigeria. Health care when available is out of reach, good and healthy food three times a day is an accomplishment for most; our roads are a death trap.

We wonder what is happening to Nigeria. Be it as it may, we are affected in different ways; some in more ways than one. The truth if we are honest is that if Nigeria does not turn itself around, there may not be a Nigeria in 20 years. By our actions and inactions, there may not be a Nigeria for our kids.

The state of emergency in these states reminds us that our democracy is threatened. It shows us the apathy of our leaders and the way they play politics with our lives. May God help us all.

Tundun Adeyemo

Choosing Wisely

This song encouraging Nigerians to “ChooseWisely” in the upcoming elections was sung by sisters, Dinachi and Chibundu Onuzo.

“Making a difference begins with you and me and with our leaders, officials and every Nigerian citizen.”

The song bears a very important message and melodious, which is why it had racked up nearly 1000 views on Youtube within 48 hours of its release.

PDP should talk about real issues: urnaija.com

'Terrorist attack in Nigeria is no longer news' Chibundu Onuzo

There was a terrorist attack in France a few days ago and a lot has been said about how Nigerians and the Western media have focused on this incident and paid little attention to what is happening in Baga. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves: a terrorist attack in France is news. A terrorist attack in North Eastern Nigeria is no longer news. When a Boko Haram attack breaks on my twitter timeline, I hurry past, rushing to the next banal tweet: a Nigerian comedian’s latest gaffe, or an APC/PDP devotee waxing on the virtues of their chosen candidate, or more often downplaying their short comings. A speech delivered at a Presidential rally gets more airtime than a bomb blast because convincing speeches from our leaders are so rare, and explosions are so common.

Sometimes you want to make sure that you’re still normal and it is not because you think white lives matter more that you immediately knew what the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag meant but you had to google #bringbackourgirls when that campaign was born. So you try empathy. Empathy is the fruit of an imagination and imagination is something that writers usually have in excess. So you picture yourself in Baga. 2,000 dead they said, though they never agree. When the ‘they’ is government, 2000 becomes 100. When it’s an NGO, add at least one ‘0’ to the government figure. They all say they are lying.

Fact of the matter remains, whether 2,000 or 200, there are a lot of dead bodies around Baga. But then this is not empathy, to walk through Baga like a journalist, taking photos of nameless corpses, stunned by it all but still one step removed, still composed enough to remember that my editor will want both a gruesome shot and a milder image, that I must find survivors to interview, that perhaps a translator must be arranged.

And so I enter Baga again, and try to become someone born there, someone raised there, who went to the local school, when girls still felt safe going to school. And then these dead bodies are no longer dead bodies, they are my friends and teachers and pastors and imams and brothers and sisters and parents. And then I think it is time for me to jump off this careening empathy wagon because the image of a row of people I know, corpses, bent at unnatural angles, faces destroyed with bullets, is one that I do not want to dwell on. Just from this small exercise in empathy, my face is twitching and my eyes are watering.

So I can still cry for Nigeria. Of what use is that to the people of Baga? None perhaps but it is of some use to our country. The fact is we have put up a wall between ourselves and what Boko Haram is doing. How do you function otherwise? How do you have a job, and go to school, and make your deadlines if every time an attack hapens, you bring your life to a standstill? And yet we are lost as a nation if we cannot mark the passing of 2,000 Nigerians. If their dying makes no clamour in us. Tears fix nothing, build nothing, repair nothing but we must still shed them so they can water our resolve, which has withered in these arid conditions. We cannot let Nigeria disintegrate on our watch. We must not. We will not.

 

Chibundu Onuzo

 

West has lost the war on terror

The Western society is losing the most important aspect of the war on terror – the ideological aspect of it.

Terrorism is a crime and should be treated like one. If you live in the West, however, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the sort of terrorism that made Man Haron Monis hold people hostage in Australia is just another part of Islam or that the criminals who recently killed 17 innocent people in Paris committed that act on behalf of Muslims.

There are over 1.8 billion Muslim all over the world and it’s safe to hazard a guess that more than 99.99% of them would never fire a gun or plant a bomb yet ever since the 9/11 attacks anytime someone commits an act of terrorism and claims to be doing it on behalf of his god you start seeing phrases like “Islamic militants”, “Jihadists” and “Islamic terrorism”. In addition to that is the outdated and ill-advised “divide and conquer” strategy of referring to innocent, law-abiding Muslims as “Moderate Muslims”.

So the impression created is that if you’re a Muslim you’re either a “Moderate Muslim” or a terrorist – nothing can be further from the truth.

Here’s what Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader said about the terrorist attack in Paris, “The behavior of the takfiri (apostates) groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Quran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies … who insulted the prophet in films… or drew cartoons of the prophet,”

Hezbollah was conceived by Muslim clerics and funded by Iran following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and was primarily formed to offer resistance to the Israeli occupation so their leader is the last person you’d expect to condemn the terrorists yet he did not only condemn their actions he completely rejected the notion that they were Muslims.

As long as phrases like “Jihadists” and “Islamic Militants” continue to appear in newspapers and used by the electronic media Muslims will continue to feel alienated by the rest of the society.
Both the terrorists and the non-Muslim world are fighting for the hearts and minds of Muslims and it appears the terrorists are winning because as long as terrorism is linked to the religion some Muslims will continue to assume, erroneously though, that the terrorists are fighting for them.

A closer examination of the terrorists involved in recent terrorist attacks in Europe and Australia reveals that they all have criminal records or links with criminals. They started as petty thieves and unfortunately graduated into killers. During their assent, however, they sought refuge in the midst of a much maligned and marginalised sector of a Western society, a Western society mired in racism and bigotry.
To buttress the point, Rupert Murdoch, probably the most influential media personality in the Western world, responded to the Paris attack with a most ridiculous tweet, saying, “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible”.

Murdoch’s understanding of the situation is bigoted to say the least, he is directly holding Muslims responsible for the actions of a handful of criminals thereby perpetuating a myth his very successful media empire helped to create.

Time has come for Western Press and government agencies to reconsider some of the nomenclatures created after 9/11. They must start to call terrorism exactly what it is – a vicious crime that spares nobody. Muslims too are increasingly being targeted by these criminals and that trend is not showing any evidence of slowing down.

Kunle Shonuga is the founder and publisher of http://www.urnaija.com.

 

God is Beyond the Tithe

Giving the tithe is a fundamental part of theology in Nigeria. Churches rely on faithful and committed giving to survive. In Nigeria, there are more churches than businesses and industries, certain pastors enjoy luxurious lifestyles at the expense of poor congregations. Yet, because the tithe is given to ‘God’, no one questions the excesses of indulgent men of God. In the UK, churches are regarded as charities and thus regulated.  There are wealthy pastors as well in England, the comfort for believers is that laws keep them humble and diligent.

Should we tithe?
Tithes is the 10% of any increase.

Tithing can be regarded as a form of worship. Strictly speaking, it is giving a tenth of one’s increase. Tithing is recognition and worship of the One Who created and actually owns all. Worshiping God in a prescribed manner has existed since the Garden of Eden. Cain and Abel knew the correct way to worship God, but one of them chose not to worship that way. Any Christian who loves the Lord should desire to give everything to Him. Sometimes, you wonder why give  to God who owns the cattle on the thousand hills.

Does the God of heaven really need our tithes and offering? Does he punish us with disasters when we fail to tithe? Does he wait impatiently for the end of every month to get his hands on our money? Does he refuse to rebuke the devourer because we often do not tithe? Why are most people desperately poor even though they give faithfully and loyally? Must we tithe when we are just getting by? There are so many questions regarding the nature of God and tithing. Most preachers insist that those who give the tithe and remain poor remain so because they lack the faith to receive scriptural blessings. This is cruel theology and it must be far from the truth. Poverty is the direct result of an unproductive life. You can become unproductive for many reasons.  For instance, you cannot work because of ill health, or you have not been able to get a job that pay well, or the income you bring, is unable to feed your wife and  kids.

The idea that God depends on our tithes is just wrong for God is beyond tithe. He is a father and a friend. Jesus lived on the earth 33 years and not once did he pay the tithe nor did he make any teaching on the tithe. The only new commandment was that we should love God and our neighbour. When we love God, all we have becomes God and all of God’s becomes ours. Could the tithe therefore be a teaching of man to milk their congregation of the little they possess? Living in Nigeria is tough as it is. The writer will get emails about the tithe being in an Old Testament teaching and thus still relevant. Response? We might as well practice all the six hundred and thirteen laws of Moses.

Our Lord feeds the birds of the air and he knows the number of the hairs on our head. God takes care of all his children especially those who are not Christians and those who do not tithe. The point is do not feel pressurised to give your hard earned cash in any offering basket. He understands when you are unable to give. Its offensive when pastors hound us to give. There are churches where the emphasis is on getting to know and love God. In these churches, people are not forced to give. Yet, these churches are successful and people give cheerfully, wholeheartedly and they are blessed in return. God does not need our money, he is more concerned about us as individuals. He desires us and He would hope we love him too. If we gave on the basis of an admiration, love and respect for God, it is okay, but to give mechanically after being psychologically blackmailed to a church or to an unknown passive distant God is purely a waste of time.

Many Christians would disagree with me by citing testimonies of how they gave and God blessed them. This is good and consistent with the general principle that follows any giver be they Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or Animists. These Christians would often blame those who suffers adversity by insisting he has issues and that he has not exercised enough faith in God. But if we were really honest, no one ever got rich by just praying or religiously giving tithes and offering. The Holy Ghost does not mint money, he gives ideas and would usually guide one in matters placed in his hands. The general rule of thumb is not to give offerings or tithes to the more successful churches as all that does is it enables the pastors to a lifestyle of Range Rovers and Gucci brands.

Wande had a bad year last year, she tithed faithfully every month, spoke in tongues, attended two extra services during the week in addition to the Sunday service, yet when she invested in a business in accordance to the ‘word of faith’ she got from her ‘Daddy in the Lord’, she lost every dime she invested. From speaking to her, the contention was that she was a faithful tither yet she had suffered so much by the devourer. The writer tried to make her see that the tithe had nothing to do with it, she simply made poor decisions and she suffered simply on both occasions heavily because she did not carry out due diligence. This idea that her ‘daddy in the Lord’ also prayed for her is nonsense. Sadly, many ‘daddies in the Lord’ have no business being in the Ministry. They are weak shepherds who need career counselling. She should have heard God for herself before embarking upon any  investment. Besides, the idea that Christianity is a bed of roses is an evil doctrine from the pits of hell. Our Jesus was crucified, his disciples credited for spreading the sacred truth of the gospel were mostly killed for the truth they stood for. Paul was beheaded in Rome, Peter was crucified under Nero. John was put to death with a sword and John the Baptist was beheaded because Herodias daughter was instructed by her mother to request for his head. Bartholomew was hung on a tree with his head downwards and Stephen was stoned to death by a hedonistic group. We need to dissuade our minds that Christianity offers a life of no troubles. Our brethren in Jos, Kaduna and Kano will attest to the fact that there is a price for being a Christian. The idea that we can trade with God Almighty on the basis of our tithes is nasty. Preachers should teach a more liberal and balanced theology on tithing, the problem is, they don’t and again, we all know why.

Those who tithe their money faithfully need to remember that if tithing is to be done well, they need to also tithe our time, talent, our first born child etc. The act of tithing has made financial slaves of simple Christians. Perhaps, there is an argument to tithe as ministers of the Word need to profit from their ministry. If we must tithe or give to charity, we do well to pray to God before we part with our hard earned cash. God knows how to prosper us. God like a parent wants to live successful lives. He does not want for us to struggle and live like paupers. When we are able, we should give and when we are not able, we should not give. God is not a tax master who sits waiting for the end of the month for our tithe. A lot of the pastors are business men  and we do well to educate them that the God we serve is beyond the tithe.

 

 

The image is from:http://benjaminconwaydotnet.files.wordpress.com.

 

Tundun Adeyemo

PS: I wrote this years ago and it was published in TELL Magazine.

 

 

Road to Unity: The Women Business Empowerment Launch

You may be wondering what this is. It is actually an amazing idea. It is women coming together to help women. It is creating a network that empowers other women. Women are the heart beat of any community.  It is very simple: when women are involved, things get done. I believe this with all my heart. Men are also welcome, but this is for women, by women.

An Olabisi Obadara Initiative, World of Women brings together women from  all walks of life to support each other by promoting  their businesses.  The Initiative is launched today at the Café Deluxe, 1A Griffin Road, Plumstead from 7pm to 9pm. If you are in the area and you would like support with the promotion of your business, please come along.

Would you like to know more? Read on. Information from  the World of Women TV page on Facebook.

This is a community initiative. A platform where women with like minds come together to support each other’s vision and mission. Where members support members to be financially independent. Irrespective of their circumstances, race, culture or religion. It is the one stop open fundraising platform.

THE VISION: Our aim is to encourage women to work together and support each other’s businesses, projects, events and charity initiatives.
To raise fund to support other women in difficult and challenging situations.
We hope to achieve these through ‘ROAD TO UNITY’ Campaign.

HOW: World of Women Community collaborates with various women groups, businesses, Individuals and Non-Governmental Agencies to form a formidable team of women, who will ‘be there’ for each other ‘come what may’
We will raise funds together in-house, when the need arises, to support registered member’s projects, events or businesses and also women in difficult situation.
This will make fundraising easier and quicker and with transparency
We will ensure that a good number of members attend events or programmes organised by a Registered member or a collaborating Organisation
Members who need to disseminate information; promote events or business via World of Women Community, will need to send detailed information plus images, video or script to team@worldofwomentv.com

THE TEAM
‘Road to Unity’ campaign is supported by Organisations, Individuals (who are called ‘Community Leaders’), a Research Person, and the Visionary. We all work on voluntary basis to achieve a common goal.


BENEFITS TO REGISTERED MEMBERS
Registered members will benefit from discounted promo video to promote their businesses, events, or organisation
Members will disseminate information about their businesses, services or promote their events to targeted consumers quicker and cheaper via multiple Social Media platforms simultaneously. Facebook>friend>friends of friend, You Tube, Twitter.


World of Women TV (empowerment and infomercial web TV) will also be at members’ events to cover for production of 10 minutes video highlight, which will be uploaded to You Tube. Please contact team@worldofwomentv.com to claim your discount voucher.


BENEFITS TO COMMUNITY LEADERS/ COLLABORATING ORGANISATION
Free promo video to explain what your organisation is all about.
Free mentioning and hyping to promote your events or business on Social Media
Free Banner placement on our website and link to your website from our website www.worldofwomentv.com
Free 10-minute video highlight of your event
Please send your organisation’s logo and short profile to team@worldofwomentv.com

Please join us on Wednesday 7th January, 2015, from 7pm-9pm, at Café Deluxe, 1A Griffin Road, Plumstead
London SE18 7QG, for the first meeting of WORLD OF WOMEN COMMUNITY’s ‘ROAD TO UNITY’ project.

African Literary Evening: The best captured moments and memories.

The African Literary Evening was my idea even though I feel I cannot take all the credit for its success. The idea came about from the culmination of several conversations with people over a period of time. The African Literary Evening was an evening of spoken word, poetry recitations, book readings and networking. It was also an evening designed to bring together emerging and successful authors under the same platform to share ideas and interact. There are many events across London that bring men and women in print together, but not many that gather African authors.

We had two panels discuss certain topics and it was a coincidence that the panellists where all Nigerian and female. The topics included ‘making money from writing: is it possible to make a living as a writer?, the future of publishing in the UK: is it traditional publishing?, self-publishing and collaborative publishing or hybrid publishing?, beyond print, moving with the digital revolution: ebooks, podcasts, audio books and short films, genres and moving beyond expectations placed on African writing.

Our panellists included Nuzo Onoh- a celebrated author of African horror novels, Abidemi Sanusi, Ireneson Okojie- columnist for the Observer and Independent,  Abimbola Dare, Ola Nubi,  Kiru Taye,  Kemi Oguniyi,  Amanda Epe, Tolu Popoola and Tundun Adeyemo. Our panellists are experienced writers who have earned their recognition in the world of writing. Sade Adeniran was the Common wealth Writers award winner for her book Imagine This in 2008 .  Abidemi Sanusi  was shortlisted for the same award for her book ‘Eyo’.

Abidemi was able to discuss how she is able to work as a full time writer. She combines life as an author with her company ‘Ready Writer’. Kiru Taye is the number one writer of African romance in the UK. Kiru Taye writes full time and she makes a living from it. Kiru has written twelve books in four years. It is hard to keep up with her. Abimbola Dare, a Christian romance author, is another very influential and powerful writer, even with a young baby, she told the audience that she writes on her laptop whilst breast feeding her three month old baby- Life as a mummy author eh?

Sade Adeniran who runs Sade’s World of Podcasting now makes short films and documentaries. A true artiste, Sade is eying some of the converted awards in the industry.  A lot of the panellists had things to contribute on whether it was possible to make a living in writing. Abimbola Dare was of the opinion that it could happen over time, but in the meantime, keep your day job. Adura Ojo, a poet, who was unable to join us at the event, also contributed that earning an income from writing is possible but the writer needs to be creative in creating streams of income. Streams of income available to authors include public speaking, workshops and seminars, events and commission writing.

We discussed the future of publishing in the United Kingdom, we considered whether it was best to go collaborative, self or hybrid and moving beyond the expectations placed on African writers in the UK. There was no common consensus as many in the audience were self-publishers who found fame through their own labour. Ireneson Okojie, a columnist for the Independent and Observer decried the fact that it was hard for publishing houses to take on African authors. Nuzo Onoh also commented on the fact that African writers are often categorised under multicultural and race headings in public libraries. She and Irene agreed that African writers had to think outside the box in terms of their content and publicity if they wanted to sell their books.

Members of the audience were not left out, someone wanted to ask how to combine writing with single motherhood to four children. Another wanted to find out if there were other authors who wrote only for African children in the UK? Another person wanted to introduce her new book: a Christian bible book for children. It was a solid event to all intents and purposes, many people even came from outside and the bar downstairs to see what was happening at the library where we were.

Highlights of the evening included Theresa Lola, a spoken word artiste who thrilled the audience with her very passionate poem on the abducted Chibok girls and another poem about the essence of womanhood.  Ola Nubi read an excerpt of her book ‘Love’s Persuasion. Sade Adeniran read a short story that reflected the drama associated with being dismissed from her job on the first day of working. Tundun Adeyemo read a poem from her collection ‘The Immigrant’. Tundun tried to portray the scene of a departure at the Murtala Muhammed airport about 13 years ago when she left Nigeria for England. Many people enjoyed the last line ‘I was going to England, not to see the Queen’. Tolulope Popoola read two of her flash fiction stories. One was from a collection titled ‘Fertile Imagination; and the other was ‘the Alibi’.

 

The evening ended with networking over warm and cold drinks, book sales and signings.

After the event, we didn’t have to wait long to read and watch what people said about it.  The Battabox spin to the event (video available on youtube) is humorous. Should Nigerian parents allow their children to be writers? Obi and Lola, Christopher Ejugbo and Adeola Akintoye all wrote different accounts of the evening. Adeola Akintoye called the event an evening extraordinaire. Christoger Ejugbo considered the fact whether or not Africans read in a thumbs up account of his Saturday evening with the event.

All in all, the African Literary Evening worked because of a successful collaboration with Accomplish Press. The question everyone is asking is will there be more events. The organisers are yet to decide.

 

Tundun Adeyemo

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Loneliness during the holidays

It is hard to celebrate or to get into the proper mood for Christmas and New Year when people are in pain. If there was a time to show kindness and sympathy to people, it is now. The festivities in Nigeria, especially by those who attended the Heaven on Earth convention by The Winners Chapel and the just concluded Holy Ghost Convention at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, camp, have left many people eagerly anticipating the new year with their mantles and anointing oil. Millions around the world participated in the conventions in churches and in homes, praying steadfastly for the Christmas miracles promised to be delivered before then.

2015 is surely going to be the year of heaven on earth. Whatever your persuasions, Christmas heralds the time when people celebrate and then make time to reflect over 2014 as they plan for 2015. The questions are: should we be celebrating at all? Given the spate of genocide in northern Nigeria, recurring embezzlement of government funds, inadequate medical infrastructure and terrible state of national roads, what is there to celebrate about the season? But life must be celebrated, our existence as a nation is worth celebrating. We all have things to be thankful for.

In political circles, the celebration is that the main opposition party allowed a democratic primary to take place in order for a leader to emerge. Even though he said in 2011 that he would not contest again and though he did not denounce the killings and riots in Kano in 2011 because he lost the election, General Muhammadu Buhari, 72, is running for president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The enthusiasm around him is hard to understand as Buhari will be running against the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, who is running on the platform of being a leader on what could possibly be the most corrupt political party on the planet: the Peoples Democratic Party. Also, Buhari has an undemocratic past, but no one is talking about that. He is 72 and could be our next President.

General Buhari’s running mate has also been announced as Professor Yemi Osinbajo. What the pundits are saying is unclear about the choice, but one must wonder if the choice is strong enough to persuade Christian voters. But like it has been declared, it is a year of heaven on earth. Perhaps, it is just so.

As in Nigeria, Christmas is a time for families who work all throughout the year to take a break. Unless you have a car or suitable means of transport, travelling around on Christmas Day would be challenging as everything stops and nothing works. The commercialisation of Christmas often engages us in thoughts about what life would be like for those who have to work through Christmas, like the emergency workers. Imagine spending Christmas at work. It also forces us to think about what life is like right now for people in work in shops, which stay open for long hours to make sure shoppers are able to do their shopping. Shop owners make fortunes but the people who work for them never enjoy much. Minimum wage is pitiful in England as it is in Nigeria.

The plight of truck drivers became apparent some nights ago on a radio show when a driver called in to say he works 70 hours a week and does a 170 deliveries on average a day. Truckers in the United Kingdom work very hard and around the clock to make sure deliveries are made and done on time. Perhaps in Nigeria, a 70-hour week is the norm, but here people work on average 35-40 hours per week. A 70-hour week is long.

Christmas is also the time to think about people without family. Britain can be a very lonely place for those people without family or friends. Figures published in 2013 by the Campaign to End Loneliness found that an estimated one million people of over 65 years are always lonely. Half of all older people (about five million) people say the television is their main company. Nine per cent say they feel cut off from society. Loneliness is a real problem. The Campaign to End Loneliness surveyed 1,000 GPs in 2013, looking at the impact loneliness has on patients’ health. They discovered that 75 per cent of doctors said that they see up to five patients a day whose main reason for visiting their doctor was loneliness. Ten per cent of doctors said they see between six and 10 patients each day who, say they are lonely. Loneliness is a great affliction of older people.

Another study by the Independent Age shows that severe loneliness in England blights the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1 women over 50. The reality here is that Christmas is the one time many people experience loneliness, unlike in Nigeria when Christmas is a time where people make time to visit their friends and family.

It goes without saying that loneliness is the scourge of the West. You could be the prettiest girl on the bus, but you are the loneliest. The National Office of Statistics confirmed that Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe. Loneliness has been linked to mental health issues as well. For young adults who thrive on social media, they learn over Christmas that the Internet cannot replace face-to-face contact and physical relationships with people you can touch, embrace and laugh with. Christmas works for children in families and those in relationships. Loneliness also forces people to compromise in unpalatable relationships as the cold and the loneliness are both aggravating factors, which tend to pull people into these relationships.

Christmas comes and goes every year; the message behind it is Jesus. Happy New Year!