Happy Birthday Bro

It was Nnanna’s birthday yesterday, you see, he is my favourite person in this world. We grew up together in the same houses. Nnanna and I are siblings: Brother and Sister. Over the years I have learnt so much from my brother, one day he tweeted “I am not your role model” and it got me thinking about the way we live our lives as model children, poster children for good upbringing, home training and manners especially in our social media world. That tweet made me recoil, at first it was “what is this boy saying?! Doesn’t he know that he is expected to be a good kid? That being a good kid must mean that he is a role model?” Later it was, “This role model banter is really stifling, ‘Big Brother’ is watching kind of stifling. One cannot simply drink water and drop cup because one KNOWS that the world is watching. Which kind of Orwellian wahala?” So I came to see where my brother was coming from when he made the tweet and my heart opened up to the option of a new alternative.

Let me talk a little bit about privilege: Due to the way my parents and role models brought me up, I think anybody who has any kind of privilege e.g. Good education, etc. has a responsibility to use their privilege-given access to help out in some way, even if it means simply showing a good example by living an honest life, you know, just to demonstrate to others that having privilege means that you must live an honest life. You follow? So this my perspective on how a privileged life must be led, albeit naive, is what I tried to practice and even standardized for others like Nnanna to live by, hence my initial reaction.

A bit of background: My family is Nigerian, Christian, and Educated. The Holy Book has codified the way we as Christians should live our lives and an important aspect of this is excellence. Bible says we are heirs of the father, we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, we are wonderfully and fearfully made, we have been called by the father etc. For my Nigerian Christian family, this means that in the lives we live we must portray the word of God as a way of evangelism which can also be seen as being role models to others that are not yet saved. In practice, we must do well in school, always show respect to everyone, don’t fight, don’t fornicate, clubbing? What is a club? Smoking? If you must smoke do it secretly because it is not a good look as a child from a Christian background and the list goes on and on. It is what I will call Church Culture: this is a consciousness that is cultivated in the minds of Christian children from a very young age, to live by example. I don’t think these rules are bad, instead I think they help to breed adults that end up living in a bubble at best and at worst, being extremely judgmental of everybody else that strays from Church Culture.

My brother has taught me that being who you are by just living your life is the way to go. It is better to be your modest, humble, brilliant self than to be all these things just for the approval. It is best to live your life and know that you are attracting the people who really like you for who you are, than to live in the gaze of those watching out for when you make a mistake. Nnanna showed me that it shouldn’t be that difficult to occupy my space in this world, people will eventually be fine. More importantly, I am accepting that it is ill advised to change with the weather ever so often, for the sake of pleasing people. We are young, intelligent, beautiful and handsome individuals, we are also prone to making mistakes and we mustn’t always judge ourselves harshly. I hope this post makes you think about image and lifestyle and all that good stuff!

John 14:15  “If you love me you will keep my commandments”.



 

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Confession

I am sharing this with you because I want to hear back from you. I hope that after reading this, you will be able to offer your thoughts and some advice if need be, in the comments section below. I am one of those women that want women to have equal opportunities with men, I detest oppression in every shape, manner or form and especially from the opposite sex. I am also generally amused whenever a woman proclaims that she is not a Feminist. Amused because I do not have the patience nor range with which to examine why any woman would want to remain disenfranchised in this life, compared to men folk. I take it that a lot of men in Nigeria are yet to accept that Feminism or Gender Equality is something of a phenomenon that does not care for their thoughts and feelings rather, it is centered around all women, their rights and freedoms, their education and health, their bodies, and all the spaces they should occupy in the world.

In Nigeria, heterosexual relationships are the norm, our culture as a country, is popular for upholding the celebration of marriage between man and woman in very high esteem. Marriage is the fulcrum of Nigerian Society, it is the singular most unifying force that cuts across religion, tribe or tongue. Our National football team used to be number one but then Weddings came along. The coming together of a man and woman to start a family is considered as a defining milestone and every self-respecting young Nigerian is in fact expected to aspire towards marriage. Considering the influence of the various religious practices inherent in the country, Nigerian ethnic groups have diverse views on the celebration of marriage or what a wedding ceremony should look like. Common elements of wedding ceremonies that exist across the country are payment of dowry, music and dance, a large gathering of family and well wishers, lots of food and drinks, the compulsory parental blessings and the beautiful attires worn by bride and groom on their special day.

There’s a blossoming Nigerian Weddings market in the country, from catering, MC, DJ, Comedian, events planning, decorating, make-up to photography an industry has emerged organically from our collective obsession with marriage and wedding ceremonies. Within a decade we have seen the exponential growth of these businesses that service the Nigerian Weddings industry, young entrepreneurs abound and our economy is benefiting from it, we are eating the fruits of our marriage obsession. The feedback is indeed very encouraging, every weekend there’s a big wedding ceremony taking place somewhere in towns and villages all over the country. Our wedding vendors are very creative, the Comedians never run out of jokes, Nigerian parents who have unmarried adult children are asking their heirs, “when will you introduce him/her to us?” Not minding whether or not there’s a him or her at all. Aunties and Uncles are not left out, they’re all in the business of matchmaking nowadays, on a very low key even neighbours, friends of the family and well-meaning mommies in church have taken up Ẹlẹgbẹ as their side-hustle. Nigerians love a good party and wedding ceremonies are our final form of partying. There’s no party like a Nigerian wedding party. A movie on Nigerian wedding parties is the highest grossing movie in the history of Nollywood at 500 million Naira.

I have no problems whatsoever with the institution of marriage. I expect that it is clear to any keen observer of Nigerian society that our marriage culture is heavily gendered, it is essentially a ‘woman issue’. Some argue that there’s a biological clock ticking off and therefore young women should be seen to be actively working hard to beat their innate clocks. A lot of people attribute marriage to be the zenith of every woman’s social growth and development, it is evident in the way we compliment our young girls, we are quick to drop “wife material” or “wifey of life”, and in the way we bless them when they do seemingly mundane tasks around the house, “you will marry a good husband”, all these are unsolicited approval of marriageability and if anything, a subtle assertion that a woman’s purpose in life is to end up with a man who will eventually complete her because she is incomplete. The resultant effect of this kind of incessant obsessive hinting and reasoning is we are feeding the idea into their subconsciousness, that the ultimate prize is marriage and it must be achieved by all means. Sometimes we even attach an age cap to our statement of expectations, “Your mates are getting married”, as though there is a specified time appointed for marriage, some uncouth individuals go further to insult women using the appropriate-age-for-marriage social construct, “You are forming shakara, see you in Shiloh when you’re 30” when these women don’t give in to their unwanted advances.

The crossroads that is the social commentary surrounding marriage culture in Nigeria leaves me feeling like the purpose of a Nigerian marriage is to tie a woman up and I will explain. Please ignore the stereotyped nature of what I’m about to tell you and take away the message instead. We hear a lot of stories, about our mothers’ generation and their conquests in cooking for their husbands, cherubic docility and expert child-rearing skills. We also hear a lot of stories about the current rise in the rate of divorce, and we have read those harsh comments on popular blogs, about Feminists like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that want to sink the ship of culture and tradition by preaching to young women about their rights as human beings to be able to lead the kind of lives they want to, especially away from the smoke of the kerosene stove. These Feminists are seen as bad eggs, no kidding. Since the beginning of the Feminism movement in Nigeria, the proponents of marriage culture have waged a line of attack against young female feminists, claiming that it is their right to marry young maidens and bestow respect upon them by giving these maidens their last names, determine how these maidens work to earn a living or IF they even work at all, and most importantly ensure that these maidens cook for them. I have never seen where men are so adamant on being fed and nourished by women before. Nigerian men have very strong opinions about their nutrition coming from the labour of their wives’ hands.

This generation of young women are already on their way to heading big corporations, many of them have started their own businesses, those of them that are still in school are studying hard to become professionals and so many more are learning skills by the weekend to supplement their income. The Young Nigerian Woman ecosystem is fast changing and superstars emerge everyday from within. Nigerian girls are not smiling in Engineering, Arts, Business, Academia, Finance, Aviation, Theology, Media, Law, Health, Tourism, Environmental Sciences, Economics, etc. They are on a mission to take over. The gospel of feminism is not only talking the talk but walking the walk in our neck of the woods. All their lives, these young women have been taught and socialized to WANT to end up married (not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to get married). They are on Bellanaija in the middle of the night ooh-ing and aah-ing at pictures, choosing colours and dreaming of their Cinderella dresses. This same group of women are getting more informed in the daytime, they are the ones heavily involved in the feminist conversations going on in social media forums, arguing for women’s rights on Twitter, reading Woolf, writing about their lived experiences on Facebook, and basking in affirming poetry by Shire and Umebinyuo alike, the literary heroines of their time. They are inspired and as a result, making bolder choices, taking every opportunity available to them, the complete opposite of their mothers’ generation.

Now, my confession is that I am disillusioned by the marriage culture in my country and each time I see THE post on social media, you know the standard announcement post, a picture of her left hand with beautifully manicured fingers and a shiny rock sitting on that precious middle finger, and how can I forget the attendant “OMG! I’m so happy for you dear! Congratulations!!!” or the “You deserve it! Congratulations!!!” comments from her friends and well wishers (oozing of a mixture of surprise, jealousy/envy, sadness, forced cheeriness and hope), any previous interest I might have had dips a little more.

It is the blatant desperation in those comments that gets to me the most. I wish everyone would calm down and know that they are doing okay sweetie!

The End

Ẹlẹgbẹ – (n) Yoruba : Matchmaker.

Nollywood – Nigeria’s movie industry

Shakara – (v) Pidgin Yoruba : Pretending

Shiloh – (n) A prayer meeting held in South Western Nigeria organized by a Big Church.

Featured Image: A beautiful wedding ceremony curated by Bellanaija

Transitioning to Natchee

We live life in phases, after we die our lived lives will consist of our past, present and future. Life is a moving, breathing, feeling thing. Life goes on and on, up and down, back and forth, dips in and comes back out. Life is for living. Life is ALIVE like MR NIGER D! Shout out to you if your name is Uchendu, Ndubuisi, Ndubeze, Nduka or Adindu.

I am transitioning from relaxer to natural hair. Yay me. I know you are familiar with The Natural Hair Movement, oh yes, it is a movement. A whole book (Americanah) was written about it by the mighty Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, that’s how I know you know about it. I call it The Natural Hair Evangelical Movement because of how fervently (expertly and effectively) the gospel of growing and taking care of your hair the way it grows out from your scalp, as a woman of African ancestry, is being spread across all media. Individuals and Big Corporations have even made millions of USDollars from this evangelical movement, as expected of all evangelical movements in our capitalist world. The reason I am “going natural” as they say, is because it makes sense to me to want to nurture my own hair, however stubborn it may be. As you can see, I am drinking serious doses of self-love syrup these days.

I haven’t written in a while, it is because I am currently practicing how to transition from always thinking and writing about the negatives to a healthy balance of always thinking and writing about both the negatives and positives. I found myself becoming a Polemicist and that is not the style I envision for myself so I took a break from blogging to regroup, I apologize.

I am writing about myself, I hardly write about myself o. Lucky you.
The thing about not writing about myself on this blog, it’s not that I haven’t ever written about myself but that when I write on this blog, I am always talking to you my reader. Now, the voice and language I use to talk to my school teachers is different from the voice I use to talk to my friends, which is also different from the voice I use when I’m talking to my siblings, which is also different from the voice I use when I am talking to my parents. This last voice even has its own variations. Why am I telling you all about the intricacies of Jayjeystic’s Soundscape? Well, I am happy to announce that I am transitioning to natchee voice and language on the blog! At least I am considering it. Don’t worry I won’t tamper with the quality of the content, but get ready to meet Ijeoma: She is full of ideas and opinions, wild at heart and carries around a wide imagination in her head.


Natchee – something my friend Dr C. used to call females with natural hair, it means “Natural”.

MR NIGER D – an acronym from Integrated Science class, I met it again in Biology. Please if you remember MR NIGER D, leave a comment telling us what the letters stand for.

Uchendu – Igbo (n): Thoughts of life.

Ndubuisi – Igbo (n): Life is the most important.

Ndubeze – Igbo (n): Life is paramount.

Nduka – Igbo (n): Life is the greatest.

Adindu – Igbo (n): I am alive.

Diary – IJEOMA W.

Ijeoma shares a story of her family, values, and how she has incorporated higher education as self development in her life’s journey with online learning tools.

4TH MAY 2017, 12:31 AM

Learning is infinite in my family. We go to school, rest small, and then go back to school.

My mommy once said to me “You know in this family we are not traders or “business people”, what we do is book, so please read.” Both my parents have at different points in their lives studied for six degrees (combined), including professional certificate examinations. I have known about online education for a hot while now, at a point when I was in secondary school the dinning table in my house was practically a satellite university campus because my daddy was taking a Master’s degree program from a foreign university via the internet. Last year my Uncle Roman Oseghale graduated from the prestigious Telfer School of Management and Centre for Executive Leadership, University of Ottawa, Canada and last week he was the 8th speaker at The Platform. Essentially, “Book” is central to who I am becoming because my role models figuratively said so.

I took my first online course before I turned 18. The thing about having access and privilege is that if you don’t use it, it would have been a waste. On a rather uneventful day in my dorm room (shouts out to Manuwa Hall, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus), I had the opportunity of stumbling upon this website called COURSERA DOT ORG and I became very interested in learning what I was being taught in the classroom by myself, at least the courses I could find, so I started taking online courses that mirrored what my lecturers were teaching me in the classroom.

Part of it I will attribute to sheer curiosity. Coursera offered courses from Universities I could only dream about at the time, the first one I chose (and completed) was by Duke University, my friend Sanmi Oyenuga was studying Engineering there, I wanted to know what being a student at Duke felt like so I stayed up all night, having physically attended lectures during the day, learning and watching all these free lecture videos on my HP laptop with reliable internet courtesy of the “Lionet @ Manuwa” router that was conveniently mounted very close to the Mango tree whose leaves I could pluck if I put my hand through the pigeonhole in front of my room. The WiFi was strongest at night (back when Lionet was still Lionet, oh the sweet memories).

The internet has been good to me. So far, I have expanded my knowledge base and I am open to learning more about the world around me. I have started this free Bioethics course by Harvard University on edX.org today. It started in April, slated to end in October. I hope I finish it within the stipulated 7 weeks at a personal pace of 2 to 3 hours of study per week. Where I’m from, they measure accomplishments based on how much “Book” you know and how many lives you use your knowledge of “Book” to change for the better. I figured, I have unlimited internet data and I want to be successful in my village so why not take a course? On the 25th of April I watched a movie: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, based on a book of same name credited to the incredible medical investigative journalist, Rebecca Skloot, two days ago my Americanah friend Ayi Daniels reminded me of the uproar that is Roe vs Wade and today I signed up for Professor Cohen and the team at HarvardX to school me on Medical Ethics, a course my lecturers have previously taught me in class, just because life is all about patterns, haha.

Thanks for reading to the end, buy yourself a bottle of Fanta!


Originally Posted On Facebook.

Sexy Jesus Freak

What makes us higher animals? Our ability to think of solutions, our ability to reason the way we do and our ability to work in teams+communicate our ideas with each other in sophisticated ways e.g various art forms. In other words, our ability to have conversations that lead to development, our inquisitive nature, and our powerful brains separate us from other vertebrates/mammals.

Yesterday me and my darling friend whose future children will call me nothing but “Mommy Ijey” each sat on both ends of our phones for three hours, talking about this and that. The topic of sexual purity and what it means (or what it should mean) for us young ‘Jesus Freaks’ came up. We concluded that:

Number one: It is a privilege to maintain your sexual purity (as follow come) from the get go, because so many people never had a chance to make that choice due to the inhumane hostility of the environment(s) they found themselves in, so we generally need to quiet down about being sexually pure and basically cut off the noses we tend to turn up at our “sexually impure” brothers and sisters- also what’s it with those shaming exercises carried out in places of worship anyway? I mean those “you had sex and we found out so come out and stand before the congregation, let everybody stare at you with judgement in their eyes” shaming exercises. They need to go.

Number two: That we Jesus Freaks need to stop treating this issue of sexual purity as if it is solely by our power and might that we stay pure and we need to start handing it over to the appropriate authority (Holy Spirit). We are taught to pray about every other area of daily life except the part that has to do with ‘go forth and multiply’. A lot of us have felt the pressure and strain associated with keeping it locked down until marriage and this shouldn’t be so, we agreed that it is not supposed to be so. If you are praying “God help me pass my exams”, don’t hesitate to add “God help me maintain sexual purity”, the Holy Spirit will not say “eww”, I promise. You shouldn’t have to do it on your own when you have Holy Spirit to help you.

Number three: That within our pristine Jesus Freak circles, we have managed to make Sex the biggest elephant that can ever fit into a room. Enough conversations are simply not being had about sex! Jesus Freaks are dying of curiosity meanwhile we are all living, breathing, walking proof of sex happening at some point in history, oh the irony. So we should start talking and asking questions and making this discussion the rule as opposed to the exception, in godly settings of course.

Number four: That sex is neither a bad thing nor an abnormal thing. It is a good thing and it is normal. Simple. Very important: you are not keeping yourself for your future husband or wife but for God. Jesus Freaks of the masculine gender need to desist from making it a topic of amusement and or self/ego aggrandizement, don’t be tempted to conflate sexual purity in this spiritual context, with the machinations with which patriarchy uses to hold women down. Tah! don’t do it!

Number five: That it is possible, Jesus Freaks of the feminine gender, to maintain sexual purity and not gloat/feel superior about it. On the last day nobody will be handing out trophies for “keeping yourself holy”. If you decide to honour God with your sexuality, do just that and keep it moving, you are honouring God and not man/religious leaders. The kingdom of God has other mandates and sex should not be made into an idol, besides babies are very expensive and STDs/STIs are disastrous.

The End.


Jesus Freaks = young people burning for Jesus/following Christ.

All-Inclusive

Thank You for being in my life and for making me feel welcomed into yours.

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And to deal with your family members, once again! It is also snowing on my blog! I don’t recall setting snow but let us enjoy this little gift of snowballs dropping while we read this blog post now shall we?

Emonena turned the big eight-o two years ago, it feels like such a long time ago but I remember the details of that event so vividly because it was the last time most of my family members came together to party in December and…wait for it…IN THE VILLAGE, If you are Nigerian I’m sure you already know what this means. It was Christmas at Grandma’s! People do not easily forget Christmases spent at their Grandma’s or do they? I don’t know.

Emonena is my Grandmother, she’s also the one I get my Ajebutter-ness from, yes, totally. When she turned 80, her babies and other people who absolutely love and respect her decided to throw her a big birthday bash, it was phenomenal. They shut down the village, literally.

Emonena ran an all-inclusive household and she raised her babies to be all-inclusive in their ways. What do I mean by this? Here’s a little back story that will help you understand where this blog post is going:

Two nights to the big party, my mother and her sister teamed up, they decided to organize all the Grand babies a.k.a Third Generation to which I belong, to learn a song and a dance, and we were going to perform this song and dance in honour of Emonena at the party (and we did). In the course of organizing the third generation to harness their collective creative talent, different important questions arose. The one question that inspired this post was from littlest cousin, Tamara, she asked “Why is *Rapulu dancing with us when OUR Grandma is not her Grandma?” Rapulu and Tamara are around the same age, Primary school age, Rapulu’s parent is either my Grandma’s friend or beneficiary and by the reason of Emonena’s 80th birthday bash, there were at least 10 different Rapulus in the house with us, they were all expected to participate in the song and dance. Emonena meant something important to all their parents, in diverse ways, but the fact remained that Emonena was not their Grandmother and Tamara in all her innocence did not understand why they (The Rapulus) were invited to perform in Emonena’s song and dance. Looking back, it was a monumental success, considering all that went down in the two days and nights of rehearsals before the main event, whew, dealing with family (especially teenagers and young children) can be very, very stressful not to mention getting them to learn a song in Isoko and teaching them how to do the electric slide, thankfully they had the shoki part of it all covered. Shouts out to my mommy and my aunty and everyone who contributed, especially Emonena who sat outside in the cold with us during rehearsals, best believe she did.

In an all-inclusive household, All Lives Matter. There is no outsider, everybody is an insider. Big Mama’s House vibes, you follow? Emonena is the reason why being all-inclusive is now one of my personal values, and I don’t mean this in a I-am-Mother-Theresa-of-Calcutta way, or any way in fact. It is just something I have come to learn about myself; that I make people feel at home quite fast, which in itself is not a very wise thing to do, considering the fact that people are inherently wicked and jealous and unkind and filled with bad intentions. That being said, there are good people out there, people like Rapulu’s parents who are appreciative, who come back to say “Thank You for being in my life and for making me feel welcomed into yours.

Merry Christmas!


***

Ajebutter – noun – if you behave like your father has money, people will say you are an Ajebutter, i.e you eat Butter at home.

Rapulu – an Igbo phrase which literally translates to “Leaving work”, also someone’s name.

Isoko – Ethnic group in Nigeria with it’s own language and food and everything unique to an ethnic group

Shoki – Contemporary Nigerian Dance Step, the jury is still out on who the originator is. Google if you may.

AM I WITH HER?

“You know these things are choreographed”.

On U.S.America(n) Politics in 2016 – observed by a young Nigerian girl.

SO. Let’s get this out of the way, Trump is not the kind of man a rational Nigerian girl will like to lead her country not to talk of America the great and powerful land of promise flowing with Ivy League education, Dollars and Lupita. At first it was like a joke, news that Donald J. Trump was running for President of the United States of America – cue laughter: Ha-ha-ha! The Nigerian and Pan-African world is still high off of 2008, you remember what happened then don’t you? Anyway everybody in the world knows that Black Americans in Politics are supposed to be Democrats thanks to U.S.A Media, so naturally, I was thinking along the lines of supporting Dr. Ben Carson – black man, separated conjoined twins in the 80’s, etc. – but he turned out to be Republican so the idealization that he was going to succeed B. H. Obama ended abruptly. That said, Benjamin Carson sounds like President material by my Nigerian standards, he is a Neurosurgeon and duh! every Nigerian knows that all doctors walk on water. I am however not an expert on Nigerian standards and I do not claim to be one.

Conclusion: Not Donald J. Trump no, no, definitely not Trump. We would’ve LOVED to experience 2008 again. Where is your loyalty Dr. Ben?  #eyeroll

Then it stopped being a joke, at which point we the Nigerians that naturally love to carry American politics on our heads paused to look around. We couldn’t believe it. Donald J. Trump was nominated and all the American Republicans that made his nomination possible lost our respect. We would’ve understood a Bush nomination, I mean, we understand monarchies  – Nigerian Princes are the only real African Princes you’d ever hear about in the news, don’t quote me. Think about it this way, Jeb’s dad was President, his brother was also president, why not him? “Turn by turn” would’ve sufficed but you guys went and picked Trump! Bloody hell. I daresay Republicans pulled a fast one on the African continent. We are not happy at all. Trump is not our kind of guy. He threatened to deport all the illegal immigrants, do you even know what that means for us? do you?!

Conclusion: Anybody but Donald.

Now, Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton lost to our beloved brother B. H. Obama in 2008, she was tough then and she still is now, just look at how she bounced back from that bout of Pneumonia that recently reared it’s ugly head. As a young Nigerian female I am susceptible to admiring everything she represents, she’s a mother, a long-suffering wife, an educated woman, well traveled, she’s published, she is fearless, she leads where men have not dared to lead, she does not buy into that patriarchal bullshit that is peddled to girls from the day they’re born to the day they die, she likes hot sauce – Nigerian women like spicy food. She is so bold she called out Republicans on behalf of all the confused people on The African continent, without mincing words (She said that you people are DEPLORABLE and I don’t blame her at all). At this point I’d like to recognize her Wardrobe team, great job through and through, you all deserve fat bonus cheques from Mrs. Clinton and lest I forget, Aunty Anna Wintour you goddess of fashion, THANK YOU for the White Pant Suit re: DNC grand finale. Now where was I?

Conclusion: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is #goals.

Speaking of the Democratic National Convention. Bernie Sanders, I cannot begin to say how sorry I feel about how things turned out for you….what a tragic, heart breaking end to an inspiring journey. We all saw what happened, but only God in heaven knows what you did in the past or who you sold something of yours to (soul?), because we are still not understanding what transpired, and how you let this happen to you with your two eyes open. At a time when all we heard was Hillary Benghazi this and Hillary email server that, we were Berning for you, from North to South, East to West, Africans all over respected you. Please go and settle with whoever you quarreled with because things ended in a way they were not supposed to end. You would’ve made a very good leader, with your kind heart and all your wisdom, all those years of research just wasted anyhow. Only God knows why.

Conclusion: #StillFeelingTheBern

feel-the-bern
A Bernie Sanders supporter attends the 2016 Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., on Thursday, July 28, 2016. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

Now to the part we’ve all been waiting for. Am I with her?”

After watching The 2016 Democratic National Convention via Youtube (Best week of 2016 by the way, the motivation was on another level, I felt enlightened afterwards) I asked my dad the most important question any daughter can ask her father at such a defining period in her life: Who do you support? His answer brought me ‘home’. He said and I quote “You know these things are choreographed”.

I was not expecting that at all. Nigerian parents always talk about Politics with so much fervour, whether it is American or local and the way my Father put his response sent two strong messages to me:

  1. Trump is not a worthy candidate so there’s no point getting emotionally invested in this election in the first place, it is an insult to the informed mind to debate whether or not Trump should assume the office of POTUS in 2017.
  2. Hillary is probably guilty of some criminal offences- according to The Court of African Parents’ Public Opinion and so we should face our collective front and let the white Americans sort themselves out this time around after all they got themselves there all by themselves, besides, we are not in 2008 anymore.

Conclusion: I am not eligible to vote in the USA on the 8th of November but if I was, regardless of my Father’s sentiments I’d vote for Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump because at this point that is the reasonable thing to do.


Back To Class

I have to get up for Class today.

PAUL K. AMAYO

These days, I wake up very early every morning, wondering where I missed it, if I missed it. How I missed it, why I missed it. What did I do that I shouldn’t have done, what can I do that should have been done. I buffer through each day, never truly feeling like I lived. I had a dream, have a dream. A plan and a time frame but somehow, I think I missed it. Or haven’t I? Year after year, the resilience I show can be commendable but it ends, thus far, the same way, with Hope.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hope! I love to hope and I pray we all have the right amount of Hope. That’s it, the right amount of Hope because too much can be bad….right? Well I dunno because Romans 4 vs 18 clearly says “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became…” So still, I wonder,  is this how it’s meant to be? Am I still strong enough to weather these storms or have I misinterpreted the message. Did I follow passion over purpose or are they fused together as they should be, working hand in hand for that Glorious Destiny?

I heard a great man say journey to any destination, not the arrival, is where the value lies so could it be that this journey, tough, surprising, often times difficult, is rich in value? I don’t know, really I don’t. The experiences have been crazy and trust me, passion hasn’t always been enough motivation to keep going. Sometimes the reason we continue is because we’ve simply given too much and now we feel we’re owed and deserve something. But I have heard heart breaking life stories. It doesn’t always happen that way.

The rules are different for every player.  It is fair to some, it is inhumane to others and downright indifferent to the rest. It surely surely hasn’t been fair to me, I must say, but who cares?  I don’t! So at the gym the other day I had my now so normal and frequent conversation with myself, the inner man, the Spirit of God residing in me. The harder the force of resistance you pull against,  the stronger you’re meant to become. A 50 KG lifting guy cannot expect to match the 100 KG lifting guy’s punch. They may have the same physical appearance but the structure of the inner muscles have been altered by their experiences.

Their experiences. I remember my Primary 4 class teacher always used to say that experience was the best teacher, he never told me that the classes were forced on us every minute of every day. He never even told me where his office was. I want to see him, Mr Experience, I think I’d like to drop the class. I think I’ve learnt enough. Can I see my score now? It should be high, very high, at least my friends think so. Then again, I think experience, yes, experience taught me that only the examiner can determine your score. Not your friends or family, just the examiner.

So my friends may think “Great Job Man” and the examiner says “Just A Little More” and that is what it is; Just a little more. I wish I learnt how to quit or give up when I was forming habits, I wish someone taught me that.  Sadly, no one did so now I’m this tired person that can’t quit. Maybe I should hope against all Hope and become, like my father, Abraham. Just maybe.  Maybe I should switch before it’s too late, or just maybe the horizon, the new horizon is up ahead, just a little more.

Waiting is a very hard place, and more so if you are not sure of what you are waiting for.

– Paul Amayo 2016

I have so many questions but Experience never answers; it teaches, silently, taking you through each lesson and hoping you don’t ever have to repeat that class because unlike Algebra, you will need each lesson very soon. I have to get up for Class today. I hope I find my rainbow, I hope I smile. I hope it’s a good day in Class. I’m still here, still waiting and wondering, never quitting.


Paul is back to grace the blog with his wisdom on it’s 3rd anniversary.

Thank you very much Paul for being the biggest contributor to this blog thus far and for making the world a better place by using your different talents to inspire us. Never forget, Impossible is Nothing. Keep changing lives.
Your Partner in Blog affairs,
J.

How to become a Childhood Friend

There is no such thing as a perfectly written eulogy. – Ijeoma Wogu 2016

Coming up with the title of this short, I had Prof. Wole Soyinka and Mr. Okey Ndibe in mind
Re: The man died. Foreign gods Inc.

I have a gazillion Childhood Friends. I pray for them everyday, I love them and wish for nothing but the best for them, all the time.


Ifunanya and I went to Secondary School together where we hardly said ten words to ourselves for the entire period of three years we spent in the same confinements. We got into the same University and became inseparable. We were familiar in an unfamiliar place, so we became a team (makes you wonder about the beauty of biology doesn’t it?) helping each other through our individual life battles and culture shock. She is the only person in the world that has asked me to be her ‘birthday maid’, as in a maid of honour but for her birthday and not her wedding. She recently came down with malaria and she reacted to her treatment, the following conversation ensued:


IFUNANYA:
Had drip yesterday.
And injections.
Was reacting to a malaria drug
So they had to suppress it
 JAYJEYSTIC:
Ndo o
What drug?
IFUNANYA:
Serious tremors tho, weakness and loss of appetite
Lol
I have try
I’m a survivor
 JAYJEYSTIC:
Malaria na bastard Sha
 IFUNANYA:
Camosunate
 JAYJEYSTIC:
The stuff sounds like something they use to fight Boko haram
Camo
 IFUNANYA:
Looool
This geh


Tayo is the one friend to whom I have reported all my major life events since we were teenagers, since the early Facebook and BBM days. When I passed my SSCE, when I got into university, when I failed a course in university, when I was in an accident, when I moved continents, when I had that existential crisis on virginity and what not, when I had to go to different embassies by myself I hatched an elaborate plan and ran it by him. That time I tweeted about how much I appreciate all my friends that look out for me, I was referring to Tayo because he had asked:


TAYO:
How e dey go
JAYJEYSTIC:
E get as e be [ long chat where I pour out my frustrations, which I was unaware were gathered at the brim of my mind, waiting to come out]
Thanks for asking.
TAYO:
*one strength emoji* I like your spirit though. Keep up the ‘fight’ and don’t be discouraged.
JAYJEYSTIC:
Thanks. Same to you.
TAYO:
*one kiss emoji*
JAYJEYSTIC:
Aww *four kiss emojis*


Chisom walked down the corridor of Manuwa Hall with her freshly braided head of hair that made her hang her neck at an angle to help reduce the pain, she looked a bit puffy, and ready to take on Monday morning simultaneously. We didn’t notice her until she started taking off her slippers by the door, She exclaimed in her peculiar way when she finally entered the room “Ah! You guys are eating Plantain and you didn’t invite me!“. The first thing that struck me about her was her complexion. She was the fairest person I had ever seen, Omalicha. The second thing was that she wore socks indoors, like me. Ours was predestined. In the following weeks, we shared our stories, zoomed in on our similarities and there was no stopping us. By the time it was the Student Union Government election season, we had formed our own version of the cool kids subculture in school. Once, during the campaigns, an aspirant came to the hostel to talk to Chisom and when he left she said to me smiling “I feel like we’re the Kingmakers, we are important in this election, we decide who wins…“. Chisom taught me how to acknowledge my privilege in life and how to use it. To an extent, she taught me how to be human. When I won a beauty pageant it was Chisom behind the scenes, literally. Before I left Nigeria she invited me to her parents’ house in Abuja, twice. We sat down and talked about this and that and it was that week it got real for me: I was leaving my friends behind, I even said to myself “I’m not going to make new friends abroad“.


Kingsley and I met in 2014, he doesn’t know this but the very first time I met him, he was teaching a tutorial. I was listening to him teach and that was when I saw him through the eyes I imagine Simon Cowell uses to judge Got-Talent shows, and by the time we were done with the tutorial, I was Simon hitting the Golden Buzzer for him to move on to the “live shows”. That night, when I got back to my room I made a tweet about him. I said how he was full of promise and how he was a great teacher. Time did it’s thing and sooner than I had expected, we actually became sort of friends. I think he also  came to see me with the “Simon Cowell googles” but I’m not sure, you can never be sure when it comes to that boy. Kingsley recently entered into a short story competition called #JollofRice by Okadabooks and he won the first round, (by getting the highest number of votes/reads from the general internet public). His story was unique, very very well written, funny, Nigerian and relevant to the time it was written. Today I woke up to a Whatsapp from Kingsley:


KINGSLEY:
I lost * three crying emojis*
JAYJEYSTIC:
You won.
Don’t say that.
KINGSLEY:
Lol. Don’t worry I am over the loss now.
JAYJEYSTIC:
Okay.

I think I reacted to the message in the way he expected. To a large section of the people I have come to befriend, I am that friend who believes in your dreams fiercely, as if they were mine. The grounded one, you know, the one that scolds. The one that hands out tough love cookies without batting an eyelid, also the one you can rely on to reassure you. Kinda like my version of what Tayo is to me.


Bunie was my sister’s next door neighbour at her place off campus, He was also her classmate. I found him annoying in the way you find a tall, handsome, light-skinned boy that goes to your Teenagers Church annoying and the feeling was mutual. We got along despite each other, I was staying with my sister that semester and Bunie’s Chess board worked its magic to bring us together. It was our common ground. As usual there was no light/power that night in my sister’s room. We played two sets by candle light and he won both so I lost interest in the game. Sore loser that I am. We bickered and bantered, I started playing with the matchbox.  I lit a matchstick and blew it out, put it in my mouth and instantly felt like smoking something, anything. My sister’s room was on the second floor, I got up from my position on the floor and opened the window, sat on the window stool with half my upper body leaning outside, there was neither burglary proof nor mosquito net standing guard so it was just human, window, and night breeze. There was a piece of paper on her table, I reached for and took it, rolled it, not minding what was written on it. Bunie was carried away with the business of arranging the board for another round, he looked up at me when he sensed burning paper and shouted in horror

“what are you doing?!”

His voice was laced with concern and panic? I laughed and coughed. Bunie warned me to stop playing with fire and in that moment, he too became my Childhood Friend, for life.


For: Kayode (Sir Kassanova) Adeniji.
1994-2016
Sun re o, ore mi atata

Igbo Energy

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. This is the first Law of Thermodynamics so it is a universally accepted truth. I speak what I call elementary Igbo and I understand the language enough to be able to buy goods in Ogbete main market (Enugu) without getting cheated by the sellers and to answer questions from my uncles when I am in London as that is the language we speak at home, abroad. At this point I’ll like to reiterate what my very intelligent friend Nnamdi Chris Ekeh (who I sometimes practice speaking French with) says, ”Courtesy demands that you speak in the language you are spoken to”.

My younger brother Oghoghomena Menah Wogu, inspires me to learn more Igbo words and phrases because he genuinely cracks up anytime I say something in Igbo 🙂 🙂 and we have a few jokes we share over and over again that have to do with the Igbo language. With my little knowledge of the Igbo language, something I never fail to do is try to translate Igbo names to know their English meanings. I like music and I find Igbo names (especially the long ones) to be very musical in a way that only Igbo names can be. My sister’s name Uchechi Wogu is a sentence and I wish my name Ijeoma, was longer.

I am writing about Energy and Igbo names for two reasons and two reasons is enough reason for my overactive creative mind to write a 500+ words-long post on Facebook. 

Storytime: When I was around 11 years of age, my cousin Ore who was in university at the time, told me about a friend of hers who had only his name to show for his cultural heritage, his name was Ewoma, I think, and he went to her university. She told me this story because I told her what people in my school called me. (It was Mirabell, for those wondering) We both understood that like Ewoma, we did not speak our native languages and knew very little about our cultures and the idea was that I needed to hold on to what I had, and just like Ewoma what I had was my traditional/native name ‘Ijeoma’.

The other day I was speaking to someone and he asked me if Ijeoma was my full name (I go by Ijeoma nowadays). I said Yes and asked him what his full name was. He said Chukwumaifonaeme. I told him what I thought about his name and I also said that his name has followed him, to which he replied “All our names, really”, I answered “Yes. All our names follow us”. I felt like the Energy in the name he was given is being transformed into another Energy which he now knows as his ‘personal life experience’ (I say so because he told me things about himself).

Igbo names can be lost in translation sometimes because we try to over simplify their meanings by making them out to be more literal than contextual. The very science of Igbo nomenclature and it’s roots in the philosophy of the Igbo language is so profound that even as an elementary speaker of the language, I find myself moved by Igbo names. I found a quote on the internet and this quote for me, was the cement between Energy and Igbo names although It focuses on translation:

Reading Lakshmi Holmström (1935–2016), whose translations took Tamil literature to world readers

Quote: “I think that most readers – and again I’m excepting the specialist reader or indeed the discriminating and sensitive reader – don’t understand what exactly is involved in a translation. They can’t quite grasp the notion that languages differ hugely in lexis as well as syntax; that one language doesn’t ‘move into’ another automatically. Nor do they realise that when you translate a work, whether it is a poem or a long work of fiction, you have to keep in mind the integrity of the whole thing. Words and sentences may be the bricks and mortar but it has a structure as a whole that you are constantly aspiring towards. But of course, I’m also aware that different translators read, interpret and work differently.”

This post is for my daddy, because he always says that he hasn’t done his job to teach us the Igbo language. Daddy jisike, we love you like that and we are just fine!