Did We Do Any Learning? [1]

Learning

Yiikes, I’m a Control Freak!

Accomplished is my word for 2014. But so is Control Freak, as I’ll learn later.

It was a fine morning in June 2013 when I sat, filling out forms in the anaesthesiologist’s office.

“Gosh, you have OCD,” he said, when I handed them back.

Puzzled, I turned to him, “Why do you say that, sir?”

“Well, you’ve filled out every detail on the form. Hmm, the people who work for you must be suffering.”

What? All that from filling out a form properly? No appreciation? Why ask for the information if it was unnecessary? I shrugged but paused, thought lingering.

 

Fast forward to November 2014.  I’m reading, Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m awed that she, thousands of miles away, can write my heart so perfectly. In the book, ‘Liz is in conversation with her friend, Richard:

“Lemme tell you something, Groceries – you got some serious control issues.

“My rage at this statement consumes me like fire. Control Issues? ME?

“…Listen, you’re a powerful woman, and you’re used to getting what you want out of life,…Life didn’t go your way for once. And nothing pisses off a control freak more than life not goin’ her way.

“You gotta learn how to let go, Groceries. Otherwise, you’re gonna make yourself sick. Never gonna have a good night’s sleep again. You’ll just toss and turn forever, beatin’ on yourself for being such a fiasco in life…How come I screw up all my relationships? Why am I such a failure?”1

I scream in my head. This is me. Has been me forever.  And so I’ve decided that my phrase for 2015 is Letting Go. Because I can’t look forward and back at the same time.

Control Freak. Letting go.

 

Ozoz @ Kitchen Butterfly
Watch her Journey by Plate, at TEDx Port Harcourt, October 2014.

 

No Stopping Me

I refuse to listen to the cynical voice sending evil messages to my brain, “You have reached your limit, just give up and maintain what you have.”

It is not possible that I cannot lose any more weight. Short of sewing up my intestines, tongue, and teeth, I have tried everything humanly and spiritually possible to lose weight.

Last Friday, I decided to give my body a treat. Off I went to a nearby gym and spa center. I asked about their services.

“Pedicure, body polish and massage, facials, tummy blast—”

“Eh Tummy blast?” Light bulbs went off in my head. “What does it entail?”

“We have a machine that rolls over the stomach, as well as a kneading wood that helps to blast the fat.”

“Wow! Really?”

“Yes ma,” the lady responded. “But you need to come in for a minimum of six sessions to see tangible results.”

 

Treatment started in earnest. The machine began its work. Years of unleavened fat would not go down without a fight. The kneading wood was applied to further flatten the pouch. Next, they tied me with cellophane and a long strip of cloth. I made Herve Leger’s bandage dress look like child’s play. Na wa, so this is what it feels like to be an Egyptian mummy?

Fifteen minutes later, I had lost about an inch! They placed me on a three-day fruit diet with lots of water and gave me aloe vera gel drink as part of a detox plan.

Although the aloe vera drink tastes like shit and my husband laments that he and the kids are the real victims of my never-ending weight loss programmes (they cannot go to the toilet after me since air fresheners and diffusers are powerless against this form of domestic terrorism), I am trudging on. Ain’t no stopping me. One down, five to go.

 

Eriye Onagoruwa is a legal practitioner. She writes satirical pieces for The Guardian.

 

A Thin Line Between Yes and No

I tend to say yes to almost everything.

I tell myself that this is due to my good nature, after all what’s so bad about trying to avoid the landmine of hurt feelings? I sometimes suspect though, that it is because I hate being told no myself. My reluctance to use the word no usually results in my being burdened and stretched with over commitments and ever-increasing responsibilities. This was a constant thread than ran through the fabric of 2014—a constantly overflowing schedule. The slender margins took a toll and gave rise to frayed nerves and a quick temper.

A person who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.2

I wish I had known earlier, the freedom that comes with just saying no. Saying no does not close the door on opportunities; rather it creates the opportunity to say a resounding yes to the things that do matter. Saying no is just another way of saying, “Yes!” to the important things. Lysa Terkeurst calls this our Best Yes.3

I am not one for New Year resolutions, but as 2015 peeks from behind the folds of 2014, I hear, margin. I have learnt that I need margin in my life and to achieve this, sometimes, I need to say it loud and say it clear, with a dash of understanding and empathy of course, “No!”

 

Tamkara @ naijaexpatinholland
Tamkara rocks her clogs expat style in the book, Dutched Up! with 27 other expats who share their perspectives on life in The Netherlands.

 

  1. Gilbert, Elizabeth, Eat Pray Love (Croydon: CPI Group (UK) Ltd. Books, 2007), 158 – 159.
  2. Goins, Jeff. 025: Saying Yes to the Best Things: How Do You Balance It All? [Podcast]
  3. TerKeurst Lysa, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demand

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Beyond Bob Geldof’s Ebola Christmas

charity

The debate and backlash that surrounded Bob Geldof’s resurrection of Band Aid’s 1984-charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas, to raise funds for Ebola held my attention for many days. While some questioned the rich celebrities’ motives, others were appalled by the patronizing lyrics, which they claimed cast West Africans as people who cannot solve their problems and so were always in need of foreign aid. In between were a thousand other pros and cons. I capture selected sentiments (edited), below:

 

They need all the money they can get. What have the people complaining done?

My parents gave money when I was two. Now I’m thirty-two, I have to give money—hang on, my daughter is two. Is this a generational thing?

Well at least they’re changing the lyrics.

How about new lyrics: cure the world, yes they know it’s Christmas time, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

It’s called Band Aid not Deep Surgery for crying out loud!

 

Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the countries facing the wrath of Ebola, cannot afford to turn up their noses at financial assistance from Band Aid 30. I suppose it is left to the rest of us to speak up for them. And we did.

By now Bob Geldof knows:

  • Rhetorical questions like, do they know it’s Christmas time at all? will be answered on Twitter and Facebook, with viral effect, as long as he keeps asking.
  • Hyperbole, that literary device sometimes used to coax emotive response, has been withdrawn from his poetic license—where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears; where nothing ever grows; and now, where a kiss of love can kill you and there’s death in every tear.
  • Irony, well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you, has never been more tongue in cheek.
  • Synecdoche, a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, is the preserve of Africans for Africa.
  • White savior complex means that in the absence of a black Jesus, Africans might accept a mixed race one, the scion of a black father and a white mother or vice versa.
  • The danger of a single story will haunt him, although thirty years later, Africans are yet to acquire their own Cable News Network, African Broadcasting Corporation, or Al j’Africa to tell their multiple stories.

 

But I suspect Bob Geldof also knows:

  • Visibility creates heightened awareness. Celebrities generate greater visibility for causes than the United Nations does1.
  • When it comes to charitable giving, people act from the heart not from the head. Facts and charts are boring.
  • Emotion is the language of donation, images of children and women, the defenseless, make viewers emotionally invested2. Images of a prosperous Africa will zip purses close.
  • Words can evoke powerful empathetic responses because they transport us into other people’s world. Hence, no peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa – the only hope they’ll have is being alive.
  • He is a musician who knows how to compose popular songs that will sell.
  • He wants to help on his terms not yours.
  • Generosity is most potent at Christmas.

 

So, can we take a pause from shouting ourselves hoarse on social media and dismount our righteous soapboxes please? Give us your aid on our terms, sounds chivalrous, carries the ring of revolution even, but isn’t it as naïve now as it was then? Does he who pays the piper not dictate the tune?

Band Aid 30’s charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas? in aid of the Ebola crisis, has become the fastest-selling single of 2014, selling over 200,000 copies since its release about a week ago3.  Who is buying the ‘demeaning’ song that Fuse ODG, British-Ghanaian rapper, refused to be a part of because he is, “sick of the whole concept of Africa – a resource-rich continent with unbridled potential – always being seen as diseased, infested and poverty-stricken.”4?

It would seem no amount of revising would have made the ‘new’ song acceptable to those condemning it. Only a song by Africans for Africans stands a chance of not being condescending. The Africa Stop Ebola, single, an African initiative that includes well-known musicians such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, and Oumou Sangare, was recorded before the release of Band Aid 30’s charity single. It is currently at number seventy-eight on the iTunes download charts. Band Aid 30 is at number one5. Telling isn’t it?

Perhaps frustration arises from fighting something intangible—Geldof still raises millions with his ‘questionable’ lyrics and the African countries in question readily collect financial aid from the sale of lyrics that ‘demean’ them. Remember when the local radio stations in Nigeria played Band Aid’s song over and over and we sang, danced, and clapped (omg, omg! horror of horrors!) to the catchy chorus, feed the world . . . ? Right, that was thirty years ago. But, will the stations play the new version?

The long-term solution for underdeveloped African countries is not charity. There should be more to aid than handing over millions of Pounds6. Okay. But is that Geldof’s job? Really? Should only Bob Geldof be put on trial? Or maybe he should be hung for exploiting human nature.

A man can’t ride your back unless it is bent7. There are many ways to straighten our backs. Using Bob Geldof as target practice is one of them. I get it. Can we now concentrate on other ways of straightening our backs so that Geldof wouldn’t dare resurrect Band Aid 40 in ten years’ time, because not only would our outcry have sensitized public opinion, we would also have perfected African solutions to ‘Afro-global’ problems.

A new generation of Africans wants to tell new African stories. They know that media isn’t 100% objective. It exists to serve the interest of the owners, which include profit and propaganda. Maybe we don’t have to be so defensive about the old stories; they are part of our stories too, no? Those stories will evolve as those societies truly do and the burden of change lies with us.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

  1. Geldof decided to remake the single after the United Nations contacted him, saying help was urgently needed to prevent the disease from spreading beyond West Africa. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/17/us-health-ebola-geldof-idUSKCN0IZ0GY20141117 
  1. Oxfam, the international aid agency, reports in 2012, that three out of five people polled said they were or had become desensitised to images depicting issues such as hunger, drought and disease. http://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2012/12/show-africas-potential-not-just-its-problems-says-oxfam
  1. http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/nov/18/band-aid-30-becomes-fastest-selling-single-of-2014 
  1. Anyone who has experienced Africa in a positive way is a citizen of the New Africa and needs to play their part in challenging perceptions– and if I can make chart-topping music that celebrates Africa then surely Band Aid and its extensive network can do the same. – Fuse ODG  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/19/turn-down-band-aid-bob-geldof-africa-fuse-odg  
  1. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/20/-sp-africa-stop-ebola-band-aid-alternative 
  1. My quote. For further reading: I don’t know of any country in the world where a bunch of foreigners came and developed the country. I know about countries that developed on trade and innovation and business. – Herman Chinery-Hesse. http://www.povertycure.org/issues/foreign-aid/
  1. Quote by Martin Luther King Jr., “Whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.”

 

Image Credit:

Map of Africa:  http://all-free-download.com/free-vector/vector-clip-art/africa_clip_art_19737.html

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Let’s Just Agree to Disagree

And there it was again at the end of a well-written piece by an African-American about how his trip to Africa changed his worldview; the insults and tacky comments. I did not agree with what in my opinion were romanticized notions of Africa, and I intended to say so. I scanned the piece for points of agreement to acknowledge, so I could begin commenting. However, the vitriol in the comment section from those who agreed and disagreed, whether with the post or the ensuing comments, put me off. It would not be easy to defend myself from people like sixpackpower and beautifulbetsy. Moreover, my gravatar is a photo of me my boss would recognize and my name is Timi Yeseibo.

Is anonymity on the web like mob action? Normal people abandoning good sense to loot, rape, devalue, to the beat of crazy songs sung by thousands high on hysteria like LSD? Does an IP-address unshackle responsibility from freedom?

 

dignity&anonymity

Beyond anonymity as gasoline for cyberthuggery, in a world of six billion people how can we all agree? Someone said, if only everyone were like me. I say no. Biko, do not populate the world with more people like me—do you know how boring I am? Our differences are not to be feared, but harnessed. You stretch my thinking and make me re-examine what I believe. In the end, we may find common ground, or you remain on the right and I on the left, all with respect. Can we just learn how to agree to disagree? Must web discussions on politics, sports, entertainment, religion, in other words, life, bring out the devil in us?

Sadly, some websites promote these kinds of verbal boxing matches and just as in ancient Rome, people troop in for a good fight, to watch gladiators at work. At its worst bystanders careen into the ring and die.

Our challenge is to find the compassion for others that we want them to have for us. That is emotional correctness. – Sally Kohn1

A few days ago, I read an engaging post advocating several candidates for political office in the 2015 Nigerian elections. To broaden my knowledge, I sought out opinions in the comment section. Two brilliant minds with opposing views held my attention. As the comment thread lengthened, their commentary lost substance and devolved into name calling as if their intellect had come to a full stop. When commenter one accused commenter two of shouting in capitals, commenter two defended himself by pointing out that his magnanimity was on behalf of the visually challenged.

 

turn off caps

I laughed until I belly-fulled, then navigated to a less popular political website, where comments are permanently closed, as if to say, “Read, finish, carry your trouble and go!”

 

 

comment moderation

Hieroglyphic symbols may have sufficed eons ago, but since the web is predominantly text-based, our ability to decipher tone, mood, and body language is limited. Emoticons only go so far.

After trading points for a while, a friend and I deadlocked on the value of prayer. He said, “Let’s just agree to disagree.” I nodded although I thought a couple more points would push him to my side and a consensus. His hands, folded across his chest, told a different story.  If he had written, let’s agree to disagree, in the comment section and put a smiley at the end, would I have stopped?

 

 

Let's agree to disagree

 

Having a quick wit and a repertoire of words at my disposal meant as my mother used to say, before you talk one, Timi has talked three, oya, go and study law, that is, winning arguments mattered more than winning hearts. Here’s something I’m learning that has lost me several arguments, but gained me friends or acquaintances and kept the discussion open longer: let the other person save face. Argue passionately for what you believe to be right—strip your “opponent” of logic, but leave his dignity intact. The converse is true, save your own face, don’t comment, even when you are right—walk away with dignity.

Despite our best efforts, we may be misunderstood because people read and process through filters. It helps to first suspend judgement and then seek to understand.

Finally, if you must insult me, if my post or comment inspires your disdain then confound me with your intelligence, charm me with savoir faire. At least do it with style.

 

@frankdefreak

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

1. “Sally Kohn: Let’s try emotional correctness” YouTube video, 4:25, posted by “TedTalks,” on Dec 4, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCJTV5KaJJc

 

Photo credit: © Francis Otuogbai on Twitter: @frankdfreak (used with permission)

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Hard pressed on every side

To understand Nigeria, you must appreciate how religion colours every aspect of our lives and infiltrates nearly every conversation. There is a god of Nigeria, he is the carrot and the stick, and the final bs, that’s bus stop, by the way.

“Like soap that glides through wet hands, we use religion to evade the grasp of accountability time after time. From Aso Rock to Ajegunle, religion is courted, invoked, and brandished as if it is a determinant of GDP and as if, according to Karl Marx, it is the opium of the people!”

Tolu Talabi aka Naijarookie, doesn’t get enough credit for making me laugh. I hope you’ll laugh as well, and if you’re like me, untangle the many levels of ‘spirituality’ unfolding in his tale. Enjoy!

 

Originally posted on Nigerian Newcomer

Most of the businesses in Nigeria have an office gofer. Someone who can run errands for the staff, pick up food, clean a spill, make a cup of tea. Usually this person has an official designation, they might be the security guard or the cleaner. But when they aren’t opening gates, they hang around and wait to be summoned.

The person who does this at my office is a girl called Esther who is always taking days off to write exams. She would say, “I won’t be around next week, I’m travelling to Ibadan to do WAEC.” Or “I have JAMB on Saturday, I have to attend lesson.” You’ll see her sitting in the corner reading Literature-in-English past questions, or squinting at an Accounting textbook. One day it was a Chemistry practicals textbook, I had to ask.

She laughed, “Haha, all these subjects? It’s not for me, I’m doing the exam for other people.”

View original 628 more words.

 

Related Posts on Lively Twist:

By God’s Grace

Your Enemies Shall Never Succeed

Mommie Dearest

Others:

The Business of Worship by Jide Odukoya: It is hard to reflect objectively on the proliferation of Churches in Nigeria. View original photo commentary with 192 more words.

Gods Were to Blame by Samuel Okopi

 

Sango by Tobi 'Leftist' Ajiboye

All the lessons of history in four sentences: Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. – Charles A. Beard

 

 

“Who dares Oyo?”

Sango’s fingers quaked as he rose from his seat. A palace guard had come with news that frightened his household but angered him.

“Who dares my beloved Oyo?” Sango asked again with a louder voice, his face squeezed to a frown, his eyes eager to escape the prison that held them.

Everyone in the palace shifted back.

“I will destroy this oyinbo god!” said Sango, as he raced to the skies.

From the embrace of the lower clouds, Sango saw Poseidon, an oyinbo god so mighty that when he moved, the sea swirled around his body like wrapper shaking in the wind. Poseidon held a trident with which he guided the clouds above the sea into a thunderstorm easily uprooting palm trees outside the city walls. He advanced from the middle of the sea, lashing the waters with his massive frame.

Sango trembled. Where did such a god journey from? What does it desire?

Poseidon roared and the earth shook.

Olorun did not mold Sango with fear!” Sango spat out the words through trembling lips.

The upper clouds swirled faster around Sango’s outstretched double-headed axe. As the master of thunder, the knowledge that another being sought the obedience of heaven’s light and sound enraged him. Fear shrunk into a still prisoner bound by the shackles of his rage.

“White god, listen! You shall burn! The waters shall do nothing to stop your white skin becoming like the terrible blackness of night. You shall disappear as ash to the skies!”

When Poseidon’s eyes caught Sango, he roared all the more in the foreign tongue and mounted the sea horses formed of the tidal waves. Soon, he was by the beach. Poseidon had not crossed the palm forests by a man’s twenty paces when Sango swung his axe and struck him with a stream of lightning.

All of Oyo Kingdom and beyond heard the terrible groan of the oyinbo god as he crashed into the sea. Warriors ran into their huts ahead of their wives. Children bumped into themselves as they pursued their mothers’ loosening wrappers. The scent of death had never been this pungent in Oyo.

In the palace, Sango’s three wives, Osun, Oya, and Oba, huddled in the inner chamber, quivering.

“Olorun, spare us and our Kabiyesi o!” said Osun, whose beauty and excellent cooking kept Sango’s deep love for her aflame through all seasons. Wraps of amala she had prepared for him lay on the floor of the main chamber, their roundness deformed to the jaggedness of mountain ranges. The hot ewedu soup she had placed beside the amala stained the floor like stubborn patches of grass.

Every member of the royal household crouched in hiding, counting their heartbeat and the painful seconds before the oyinbo god’s groan would resound. Instead, the faint sound of Sango chanting praises of his exploits in battle, streamed in from the skies.

The palace guards rose first, following the distant sound, shedding their fear with each footfall. They moved into the courtyard and sighted Sango in the clouds, and then they shouted, singing the great victory songs of old. The palace drummer struck the batá twice, swung around, and then moved his hands faster and faster over the batá. Osun, Oya, and Oba’s legs received strength and their hips swung left, right, left, as they chorused with the guards.

 

Who amongst beasts and men can stand the fire in Kabiyesi’s eyes?

Will a god beside Olorun do battle with Kabiyesi?

Ah, Kabiyesi, master of thunder!

The god that brightens the earth with his eyes.

The one that chews iron and bathes with fire.

Our lord with eight eyes guiding heaven, eight more ruling earth.

Our king who makes Oyo people snore in a thunderstorm!

Kabiyesi, master of thunder, Olorun made you perfect!

 

Sango smiled as tributes from the lips of hundreds of thousands dwelling in Oyo kingdom ascended to his ears. He descended towards his people, his brown loincloth swaying in the wind as he danced to the intoxicating beat of the batá.

Midway between earth and sky, the earth began to tremble. Poseidon’s roar arose from the sea and saturated the skies, sucking in the joyful noise of victory swimming in the air. When Sango turned to behold Poseidon, a mighty ball of water hit his frame and flung him towards Egbaland where he crashed on Olumo Rock, the great rock revered all over Egbaland. It shattered at once into boulders that flew out and crushed many houses and people.

From where his swift flight ended, Sango pushed aside the tree trunk straddled across his torso and jumped to his feet.  His mouth was bitter from the memory of his humiliating crash. Seeing Poseidon advancing towards Oyo, even if with a burnt arm, turned Sango into a mad man. Wrath stole his words. Pain summoned his axe. When it came, he stuck it in the air and flashed his iron teeth at the sun.

Thunder knew its true master.

“Olorun! I am the greatest god after you!” Sango said, his eyes aflame as he channelled ten years of thunder towards Poseidon.

***

Poseidon’s ashes travelled as far as Timbuktu. The great walls of Oyo crumbled to dust. Not one living thing survived.

“Oloooooruuuuuuuuuun!” Sango cried to the heavens, the fire in his eyes humbled to tears streaking his cheeks.

“Oloooooruuuuuuuuuun!  Olodumareeeeeeeh! Why did you not tame my anger!”

Sango sank to his knees. Osun’s enchanting smile flashed before him and with it came the memory of the sweet-smelling amala and ewedu she had prepared for him.

“Aaaah!”

Sango bowed his head and wept like a man. For two days his knees remained with the ground and his lips did not part. When he stood to his feet, he walked for seven days never stopping until he vanished into the sea.

No god ever saw Sango again.

 

© Samuel Okopi 2014

samuelokopi.com

 

Oyinbo: Pidgin. Usually, a person of Caucasian descent.

Olorun: The supreme god of the Yoruba pantheon in its manifestation as the ruler of the heavens. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olorun

Kabiyesi: Majesty, Royal Highness. He whose words are beyond questioning.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highness 

Batá: A double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass with one cone larger than the other. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batá_drum

 

Image Credit

Sango’s Rage by Tobi ‘Leftist’ Ajiboye

Twitter & Instagram: @leftistxx

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.