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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'I will wait for you' Janette Mcghee

I watched this video by poet and spoken word artiste Janette Mcghee  last year and something in the service this morning brought it back to mind. I remember feeling alive and empowered after watching it. Janette spoke about rushing into relationship she knew she had no business getting into, to quench her ‘thirst’ and to manage her ‘boredom’. She spoke about making him ‘the one’ even though she knew  he wasn’t the ‘one’. This is a sentiment many girls/ ladies/women would resonate with.  Ultimately, she shares with her audience the conviction that it was best to wait, that she would wait for the one. Even if it means  she would never get married.

I think every girl should learn the words of this poem. I think this poem should be read in schools’ assemblies, I think this poem should be played on the radio. I thought to share it with you.

P4CM videos are a series of short video scripture and devotionals, for more on their videos. Please visit http://www.P4CM.com.

 

I WILL WAIT FOR YOU BY JANETTE IKZ

So it seemed that it was cool, for everyone to be in a relationship but me.
So I took matters into my own hands, and ended up with him.
Him who displayed the characteristics of a cheater, a liar, an abuser, & a thief.

JanetteIKz

So why was I surprised when he broke into my heart?
I called 911, but I was cardiac arrested for aiding and abetting,
Cause it was me who let him in…
Claiming we were “just friends”.
It was already decided for me by the first date, that even if he wasn’t!
I was gonna make him ‘The One’
You know, I was tired of being alone.
And I simply made up in my mind, that it was about that time,

So I decided to drag him along for the ride,
Cause I was always the bridesmaid & never the bride.
A virgin in the physical, but mentally just a grown woman on the corner in heat!
Who was tired of the wait!
So I was gonna make him ‘The One’.
He had a… form of Godliness… but not much.
But hey, hey I can change him! So (honey) I’ll TAKE him, I mean he’s close… enough.
Ready to sell my aorta for a quarter, not knowing the value of its use to me.

Arteries so clogged with my will, it blocked His will from flowing through me.
So, I thank Christ that His blood pressure gave this heart an attack,
That flatlined my obscured vision, put me flat on my back
Through my ignorance He sawed,
Through my sternum He sawed & cracked open my chest
To transplant Psalm 51:10
A new heart & a renewed right spirit within!

So now I fully understand,
Better yet I thoroughly comprehend,
How much I need to wait… for You.
See, the bad thing is that I knew he wasn’t you from the beginning..
Cause in the beginning was the Word
And he didn’t even sound or shine like Your Son
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,
And all he could whisper was sweet, empty nothings –
Which meant NOTHING.
He couldn’t even pray when I needed him to,
Asking him to fast would be absurd!
So forget about being cleansed & washed with water through the Word…
But I know You..
You were already praying for me.
Even never having met me,
Let me assure you, I will wait for you.

I will no longer date, socialize or communicate with carbon copies of you
To appease my boredom or to quench my thirstiness I have for attention
And short-lived compliments from ‘sorta kindas’.
You know….
He ‘sort kinda’ right, but ‘sorta kinda’ wrong?
His first name LUKE,
His last name WARM.
I, I won’t settle for false companionship
I won’t lay in the embrace of his arms,
Attempting to find some closeness,
But never feeling so far apart cause, I just wanna be held
Cause ”all I gotta do is Say” No!
No more ‘almost sessions’ of ‘almost coming close’
Passing winks & buying drinks,
I’ma, I’ma, I’ma flirt!
Who flirts with the ideology of,
‘Can you just tell me how much I can get away with & still be saved?’
NO more.
I’ll stay in my bed alone, and write poems, about how I will wait for you.
He won’t even come close,
Our fingers won’t even interlock
We won’t even exchange breath
Cause I have thoughts that I’ve ‘saved as’ in a file that God has only equipped you to open.

I will no longer get weighted down,
From so-called friends & family talks,
About the concern for my biological clock
When I serve the Author of Time.

Who is NOT subject to time,

But I’M subject to Him,
He has the ability to STOP, FAST FORWARD, PAUSE, or REWIND at any given time…
So if we could role play,
You would be Abraham & I would be Sara
Or you can be Isaac & I can be Rebecca – a servant’s answered prayer
I am bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh,
Made up of your rib Adam!
And once we meet, like electrons
I will be bound to your nucleus, completely indivisible atom.
We even speak the same math: 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, which really equals 1 if you add Him.
We were all created in His image,
But you have the ability to reflect, project & even detect the Son.
If I were to explain what you looked like,
You would have to look like a star,
A son of the Son..
I would gain energy simply from the light on me.
I would need you , in order to complete my photosynthesis
I await your revelation, but once again from the genesis, I will wait for you.

And I will know you… because when you speak I will be reminded of Solomon’s wisdom,
Your ability to lead will remind me of Moses,
Your faith will remind me of Abraham,
Your confidence in God’s Word will remind me of Daniel,
Your inspiration will remind me of Paul,
Your heart for God will remind me of David,
Your attention to detail will remind me of Noah,

Your integrity will remind me of Joseph,

And your ability to abandon your own will, will remind me of the disciples,

But your ability to love selflessly & unconditionally will remind me of Christ.
But I won’t need to identify you by any special Matthews or any special Marks,
Cause His word will be tatted all over your heart.

And you will know me, and you will find me,
Where… the boldness of Esther meets the warm closeness of Ruth.
Where the hospitality of Lydia is aligned with the submission of Mary,
Which is engulfed in the tears of a praying Hanna.
I will be the one, drenched in Proverbs 31… waiting for you.

But to my Father, my Father who has known me before I was birthed into this earth
Only if you should see fit…
I desire Your will above mine,
So even if you call me to a life of singleness,
My heart is content with YOU – the One who was sent.
YOU are the greatest love story ever told,
The greatest story ever known
You are forever my judge & I’m forever Your witness
And I pray that I’m always found on a mission about my Father’s business
Oh, I will always be Yours!
And I will always wait for You Lord, more than the watchmen wait for the morning
More than the watchmen wait for the morning…

I will wait.

The Queen's Speech: a poem by Lemn Sissay MBE

This poem is by Lemn Sissay MBE. He is a British author, poet and playwright and broadcaster.  I am so in love with this poem right now. I found it on badilishapoetry.com. We find answers when we reach into the hearts of poets, authors and writers who have gone on before us. Their wisdom  and choice of words encourage.

 

lemn-sissay

One another? I am born the same year you are born – 1926
And so much has happened and yet, so little – Fiddlesticks!
I am an immigrant. I shall always be an immigrant.
I walk like an immigrant. I talk like an immigrant.
I am an immigrant from my tip to my toe.

This word Immigrant, you know how it was born?
It emerged from the word Migrate. Migrate.
First prescribed as a description of what birds do.
And how free are they? I am an immigrant like the birds.

See. A boy said to me that his zaidy said to him,
Reach of the top of the tree and you get to the first branch.
But reach for the stars and you get to the top of the tree.
So, here is Britain, this beautiful earth, and here is the sky
And here are the stars.

What if for one moment in one day we reach for the stars?
What if you uncurl your heart as we uncurl ours
And spread your arms open wide as we spread ours?
What if for one moment in one time on one day
We reach out to all and beyond and say.
With the power to draw in the warmth of the sun,
Let it be. Let them come. Let it be. Let them come.

Let them come with their baklava, their coffee and teas.
Like Moses let us lead. Let us all lead.
Let them bring their hymns and their prayer beads.
Let them wear the saints in gold around their necks.
Let them bring their grief and their good, their kismet.
Let them bring their stories and their laughter.
Speak of Christmas and Ramadan and Hanukkah.
Let them ring their church bells, let their muezzin call.

Let the cacophony ring true and ring through to us all.
Let it be. Let them come. Let it be. Let them come.

Let them throw down their seeds and let freedom flower.

Let them speak their own language as we speak ours,
So that they might learn the language of tone and trust,

The blessed language of the body and the face – the language of us.
The language of listening. Because these things speak more
Than the clumsiness of words. Let them come, I implore.
Let them exchange our customs and let it be customary to exchange.
Let them come like the beautiful life-giving rain.
I shall wear the yarmulke, they shall wear the cloth.
I shall wear the talit, let them wear the cross.
From the churches, the mosques, the synagogues,
Let them come in the name of their gods.

Let them come. It is you that visited them. You.
For whom the sun would never set.
Let us decolonise our minds: Live free, yet, never forget.
You who scoured the world (for who?) like a dragnet plunging
Into the waves catching all and sundry lunging into slaves.
It was you who counted the bounty and threw the rest overboard.
Ruling the waves indeed by gun by God by sword.

These British cities thrive today on the cash flow from then.
Then let’s address the current, the strong strong current, then.

Lest we stand, as we are, with hands frozen to the gun
On the beaches, in this code red autumnal sun:
Like a kingdom stunned.
Let the knots of history come undone.

Lest we stand, as we are, with hands frozen to the gun
On the beaches, in this code red autumnal sun:
Like a kingdom stunned.
Let the knots of history come undone.
Let your people finish what your people begun.
Let us open our arms as they did – Let them come.

 

 

Lemn Sissay

 

I choose to be happy

A conversation today about the weather prompted this reflection.

Happiness is a state of mind
Happiness is a state of mind

Many times, our day does not turn out the way we planned that it would.  A lot of little things happened today which could have taken the shine off the day. For example, after a rather stimulating conversation, my phone has gone dead. Dead. It is my work phone. It has just about had enough. Six months to the end of my contract and it is dead. I have emails to send, people to call and my phone is dead. Interesting?

I have been having problems here and there with this site, with black ice (it snowed yesterday), with every thing really. If I am honest, I have been grumpy:( Grumpy because if I am honest, I let one incident dominate my life. I nearly let an unpleasant situation ruin my life. Its hard to get it out of my mind, so the more I thought about it, the grumpier I got. The incident has not changed, but I have decided to let it go like ‘water under the bridge’. I cannot change the past, but I can control my future.

Tonight, I have decided to be grateful. Grateful for life. It may not be perfect, but it is a good life. Grateful for my family and friends. They may annoy me, but I am not alone.  I have their love, admiration and support. Grateful? For the end of a brand new day. I have decided to be thank ful and that is a state of mind. No one is responsible for my happiness, neither am I responsible for anyone’s happiness.  I choose to be happy. Life is too short.

If I am honest, there is a lot I could be thank ful for. I am grateful. The beauty of this blog is that I don’t have to make pretenses. I can just be myself. I can be honest and say the last couple of weeks has been rough

Let us Pray: Susan Ferguson

It has been a long and busy week for me. I have found God’s strength though prayers though.  This is the tragedy of our lives: busyness. We need to make the time to pray.God answers when we pray as prayer is communication with God. Prayer comes from a place of intimate relationship with the Lord.  I found faith writers.com and I have been blessed so much by the site. Here is a write up that spoke to me. Hope it speaks to you.

Think for a moment how amazing it is that the Creator of the universe hears our prayers and answers them. God knows us by name and even knows the number of hairs on our head. (Matthew 10:30) Let’s keep our hearts in awe of the amazing God we serve.

A passion for the presence of God
God answers when we pray

The Bible tells us to pray and to ask God for what we need. (Luke 11:9-12) Answered prayer strengthens our faith and brings glory to God. The benefits of prayer are numerous. Through prayer and God’s Word, we come to know Christ and develop a relationship with Him. Through prayer, we partner with God, and by His grace, we accomplish what is impossible otherwise. Through prayer, we serve God, the Church, and the people we love. Through prayer, we offer thanksgiving to Christ, our Savior, for the free gift of eternal life. Through prayer, we confess our sins, and He faithfully forgives us. Through prayer and Bible study, God shows us His will for our lives. Through prayer, we give our burdens to Jesus and receive His sustaining strength. (Psalm 55:22) Through prayer, we ask for God’s wisdom, and He generously provides. (James 1:5) Prayer brings healing to the sick and gives comfort to those who mourn. Prayer renews our strength, diminishes our fears, softens our hearts, changes our focus, fills our hearts with peace, and gives us a new hope.

How can we afford not to pray? Prayer is for our good and is essential for our growth in Christ. As the New Year unfolds, there’s no better resolution than to devote more time to prayer.

Today’s freelance writer is a bookkeeper by day and a writer by night. Susan Ferguson lives with her husband in Madison, MS. She can be contacted via the faith writers.com forum.

Just Hold on: Ikeoluwa Gadido

Sometimes, when God is silent and life looses its sparkle, a word or two at the right time heals the soul and brings back lost perspective.

Sometimes, there are no words to say.

Sometimes, it is hard to articulate issues in prayers, sometimes no one understands.  Sometimes, there is no one to talk to.

Sometimes, its best to be quiet than to call friends and have a pity party. Ikeoluwa encourages us to Hold on. Hold on to God because He never fails. He never lets go of any hand kept safe by him.

 

JUST HOLD ON
God is working for your good

Its not over until you win.
Be encouraged

He is looking out for you
He’s got your back
His plans for you are of good and not of evil
Not a matter of chance or luck
It’s a matter of divine plan
It’s a matter of grace and mercy
Though He seems to tarry, wait for him
Though you don’t understand, trust Him still
Though the roads seem blocked, hold on
He will make a pathway in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert
In your darkest hour, His light will shine
God is the potter, you are a masterpiece
He is the author and finisher of our faith
He is the script writer and the director
You are an actor in the play
He will cause the lines to fall for you in pleasant places
He will make a way for you
Just hold on

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep His promise.

Ikeoluwa Gidado writes for faith writers.com. She is available as a writer for hire.

Its gonna be OK!

I first saw the Apolos Hester video on Facebook last night. I have played the video over ten times since then. The enthusiasm, smile and radiance of  the  young player is infectious. With over 8m views and counting,  if you have not seen it, this will bless you. We all can use a dose of positivity and optimism:)

TWC News Austin reporter Lauren Mickler and videographer Jesse Moloney interview East View High School Football player Apollos Hester after the Patriots triumphed over Vandegrift by one point. Hester’s post-game interview was one of the most inspiring interviews .

When God says No!

I spent the day yesterday thinking about when God does not answer prayers.  A much better write up would have been when God answers prayers. He does answer prayers, but not all the time. I spent yesterday sulking like a child asking why this one prayer is taking God ‘rather long’ to answer.

So, I wanted to write about prayers, but I left my laptop at work so I could not write at all yesterday.

Until now.

I realise that I am not using any biblical references as well. I will try to remedy that in future posts.

So does God answer prayers? The fact that there is this one prayer I have repeatedly prayed- which has not been answered- however  suggests to me that He does  not always answer prayers. But perhaps He does, but not in the space and form that I may want Him to.

He does look after me and many times the Lord gives me things I do not pray for. I can count miracles, answers to prayers, blessings I don’t deserve and so on from God. Many times, I even fail to say ‘Thank you’. There are many times He has kept me from bad situations, accidents and from the consequences of my actions. He does all this because He is faithful, merciful and a friend.

So, does God answer prayers? Yes. In. His. Own. Time.

The questions again, Does he aways answer prayers? No. He answers when He wants to.

His decision is ultimately best for me. Over the years, I have learnt this. Even though I may want something so much right now, God is saying to me….. wait. …….right now is not the best time. You still need to grow a bit more. You need to mature a little bit more. I want the best for you, but not just right now.

This is hard… because I would like to experience that answer to my prayers like right now. This very minute. So, I conclude because I know my Father loves me.

My confidence is that God loves me, He wants the best for me and so I thank him for all the prayers he has answered especially the many gifts I get that I did not pray for. I thank Him also for the gifts I am yet to receive. I thank Him for the miracle of today and then ask Him to help me wait on Him for answers to that one prayer.:)

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

Leah: scorned but grateful

I have been reading through the Bible from the beginning following the HTB plan on my You Version bible. To help me stay disciplined, I have committed to blogging five days a week my thoughts on what I read. We all need a dose of encouragement and inspiration so this is mine packaged as Insight: Thought for the Day.

 

I had never considered that Leah had anything to teach me until today. Here is what I learnt.

I have been thinking today about Leah. She was of course one of Jacob’s wife. She was not loved by her husband as she would have imagined  love to be neither was  she was  wanted as she was plain eyed. Her life must have been emotionally hard filled with anger, tears and frustration:  waiting for her husband to love her but that never happened because he was in love with someone else. She was fertile having sons for Jacob.

Her fourth son is Judah from whom Jesus the Messiah came. Judah is also called Priase. Leah, the unloved wife gave birth to  Praise because in her tears and brokenness, she found God. She found that her affections were better placed looking up to God than focussing on her husband. It must have been a liberating experience for her.

When you think about Leah and her travails, the one lesson that come through is that no man can satisfy the heart of a woman. Women have deep longings to be loved and understood. Many women end up with the wrong men because these men lure them with empty words. Seriously,  Only God fills that deep need. The earlier we learn this, the better for us. The less we would expect from our partners and cling to God.

Leah’s  sister  Rachel had the love of her husband  for her whole life. The Bible describes that she stole her father’s gods, was Rachel a pagan? But for a long time,  she was barren  giving birth to  Joseph and Benjamin who  are not as well placed in the genealogy of Jesus as Judah was. Could we argue that the love of God is preferable to the love a man?

My point is no matter how hard life is, true love must be found in God. Only God can satisfy that longing  to Be loved, held and cherished as a woman.

 

Thats the thought for the day. See you tomorrow.

The Sun has Set

I want to dedicate this page to ideas, thoughts, reflections, prayers and words that reading an ancient text  will inspire.  We live in a monstrous world where the plethora of news cycles do nothing to calm or soothe stressed nerves. Every where we turn, we are saturated by sad stories and bad news.

I have been reading my Bible this year from the beginning, this page will be thoughts from that experience. I  hope to find a lot of things about myself, my journey, my place in the world  and so on. I hope that this journey chronicling  my thoughts and aspirations would cause me to reflect and change old unproductive patterns.  Please join me every week day from tomorrow for my thought of the day.

 

The first idea I want to share is from the tone of the Bible itself: the idea that renewal can only come from an experience with Him.

The sun has gone to bed

The day is long gone

All the worries and anxieties

Never to reoccur on a day with

Date like today

The Sun has set

But I am still here

We are both still here

Dreaming that in the sunrise

We shall arise with healing and power

To conquer not the world

But our selves and the small minded way

We limit ourselves.

 

The sun has gone to bed

On all of us

When we arise, we would be grateful

For another day to trade and barter in the sun

Inspite of it all, we arose

We will arise

 

 

Tundun Adeyemo

 

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.

 

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.

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.