So I met a girl…

I was recently the host on a TV competition show for people aged 8 – 13 and there, I met Zara.

I remember the first time I saw her. She is pretty with her Fulani long limbs, nose and beautiful eyes, but it wasn’t any of that; what struck me was the defiance, almost anger, that I sensed in this 13-year old. She always wore sneakers and leggings/jeans with her hijab; while discussing with her peers, she would sit thug-mode – you know, that pose where you hunch over with your elbows perched on your knees, legs spread firmly and widely apart – and gesticulate like a rapper. Occasionally she’d laugh, displaying white happy teeth, and only in these rare moments did the child in her shine through. Almost as soon as such a moment happened however, Zara would tighten her lips, brush a thumb over her nose and resume thugging.

One time I was feeling lucky, I told her to smile, because didn’t she see the cameras were on her? Brothers and sisters in solidarity, without so much as a glance my way or even the twitch of a muscle, Zara replied, “I don’t like smiling”. End of matter. Ozugo. As my friend Nike would say, Opari! lol.

Zara is smart; she would answer her questions correctly while playing with the edges of her hijab in a manner that drawled, are we done here? And when she ran into a tight spot, when she didn’t know the right answer, she would give up instantly. Hands still stuck in hijab, she would shift her weight from one spindly leg to the other, and amidst a train of hisses (yes, into the microphone!), she’d set her face in a scowl so visibly irritated that you’d be forced to sniff your armpits – like, is it me? Am I stinking? Then she’d throw an answer at you – because she expects it’s the wrong answer and wants to be left the hell alone – but she’d get it right and qualify for the next round. And then would she permit herself a tiny smile.

This happened over and over, and it irked me quite a bit. I wanted to conk her head and say, in my father’s voice, “Mai fren, dunn be sillay!” At the same time, I wanted to hug her tight and say, “Princess, can’t you see how great you are?!”

I saw through Zara. I saw this smart girl who could win, who wanted to win, but who was so afraid to try because if she didn’t win eventually, it’d hurt too much to hear someone gloat over it. So it was safer to feign disinterest and only try halfheartedly – get the logic? Me neither. 🙂

I didn’t get the logic, but I knew that the weight on this child’s shoulders shouldn’t be borne by even a full-grown adult. I knew that her former attitude (because that’s in the past now, Zara, isn’t it?) would only lead to a dark place in life, a dank bottomless pit in which regardless of how much money, accolades or relationships she garnered, joy would perpetually evade her. I knew that it wouldn’t matter the sad story she came from, life, self-acclaimed Themis that she is, would deal with her justly. And because I knew all these, I knew that I had to teach her a lesson, she and the rest of the children.

So, I got to work. Every time I saw her at camp, I talked to her, validated her; every time I saw a hijab bowed over, I told her to chin up then I smiled at her; every time she stumbled during the competition, I re-validated her. You’ve come this far, Zara, why give up now? Give it your best shot, so that win or lose, you won already. If you give up now, don’t even bother waiting for the results because yours got called already – fail. Be strong, you can do this, you’re beautiful, you’re good, you’re smart…DJ Khaled would’ve been proud of me.

In the end, Zara came in second place nationwide. She won some money, a medal and a trophy for her school. She says she also won a mentor and “an uncle who got my back” (I denied the mentor part, I’m not that old biko). Most importantly though, she won herself confidence and a lifelong supply of precious tenacity.

Now here’s the juice. Zara told me that but for her mother, she wouldn’t even be in school. Having married at 13 herself with zero education, her mother was determined that her daughter would live different. But it was just her; Father Zara and everyone else in Zara’s family and immediate community thought it was a waste of time having my young friend in school. Her mother constantly fought, negotiated, schemed and scraped, to keep her child in school. And so, coming for the competition, Zara wanted to show everybody that she was worth it. She wanted to prove to her father and her people that girls should be allowed to go to school.

“Well, look at you now,” I told her as we sat gisting afterwards, “you did all of that. Killed it!”

She beamed. I asked if she had plans to attend the university and her nods reassured me. She said she would become a medical doctor, an actor and a TV host, and then she would build a big school in her community where girls can go for free.

“I wish my mother was here,” Zara sighed, “I told her not to come because I was afraid I’d fail her.”

“It’s okay, now you know better. You’ll never again let fear rob you of a potentially priceless moment, like this one.” I consoled her. “As for your mother, look in the mirror…she is here.”

I meant it.

When the winners lined up for pictures, Zara held her trophy up the highest, her smile the brightest…so bright I couldn’t help mine.

It was the proudest in your face moment I have ever seen.

 

P.S: Zara is a fictitious name used here to protect my friend. Haba, if iss you nko, will you use her real name?

Chisom

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How to transfer your voter’s registration

vote02Following my Monday post about a certain protagonist’s experience while attempting to retrieve his PCV, I got some feedback. Many of us liked the story, and identified with it – thank you, always; a good number of us however did not, still do not know that it is possible for one to transfer one’s PVC from the centre where one registered to any centre in the country.

This wan no be hear-yarn, bros…I did it myself.

I registered to vote in Abia state and like the percentage of Nigerians who had relocated in four years, I was heavily vexing with INEC. Not only were they clearly intent on disenfranchising me, they were also in collabo with my village people to hinder my progress. Why else would they expect that in four years, I wouldn’t have moved to the big city?!

I was furious and made sure everyone knew who cared to listen. And it was while spreading this venom that a friend casually mentioned that one could actually transfer registration. He mentioned it very flippantly, I guffawed at it. Guy, go siddon jare, for this Naija?

But he insisted. He said that I could find the information on the official INEC website. INEC website is not as imirimious as NSCDC website nah, so I checked it out. This is what I found.

Procedure for Transfer:-

  • Step 1:

The person who intends to transfer his registration will write an application to  INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner of the State  where he is currently residing.

Updated (April 19, 2018)

NO APPLICATION IS REQUIRED ANY MORE. According to my sources, all you need do is go to the INEC polling center closest to your residence (which is where you’ll cast your vote on election day) and obtain the transfer form.

  • Step 2:

The applicant will attach his voters card to the application.

Updated (April 19, 2018)

My sources confirmed that even without your voters card, you can still obtain, fill and submit the form. You only need to remember the details of your card, such as your card number, registered polling unit number, etc.

You don’t know/remember your details? Easy peezy…click this INEC Voter Verification Platform link. There’s an option to Check Status using your Date of Birth, as long as you remember the state where you originally registered, your surname and first name, and your date of birth, your details will pop up. See pictures below:

  • Step 3:

The applicant must apply to the Resident Electoral Commissioner not later than 30 days before the date of an election in the constituency where he is residing.

INEC will do the rest, you just wait for the text that will tell you your voter’s card is ready for collection.

Read more at http://www.inecnigeria.org/?page_id=2051

Does it really work?

Testimonial from Oby Azubuike

Hey familia,

Today I began the process of getting my PVC, it wasn’t stressful at all, took about 30mins.

I requested a transfer because I registered about 6 years ago.

I printed my voters status from INEC’s website, took it to my local government, filled a form there and I was told to pick up my PVC in December.

It wasn’t as hard or stressful as I was expecting.

Thanks to @Chisom for sharing the post about it.

I just thought to encourage anyone here who has changed location and doesn’t know how to get their PVC. Please try it out, let’s do our best to change the status quo.

Thanks for reading 😘

Signed,
Oby Azubuike

P.S: I also got my sister to transfer hers!

 

Testimonial from yours truly: How I transferred mine in 2015

I got this information in the first week of January, right on the brink of the deadline, and I followed the instructions to the latter. I printed out a simple three-paragraph application letter, procured three passport photographs, and made photocopies of both the letter and my temporary voter’s card.

I was very meticulous with my preparation because I was not going to give ‘them’ any wriggle-room. I wanted to be able to say afterwards, that INEC really did – for censorship sake – play me.

I entered the INEC office at Sabo, Yaba at 9am and by 10:30am, I was on the bus back, my new temporary voter’s card was in my pocket and I was now one of those Lagosians waiting to collect their permanent voter’s cards. There was no hassle; the INEC officials were beautiful, jolly, young women who literally held my hand through the whole process of filling a simple form and having my bio-data captured.

If I had any idea how uninformed other people were about the existence and workability of this process, I would have written this immediately after I got back. Alas, the process was too seamless, so smooth that I was sure it was just me who did not know that transfers were possible.

P.S: I now have my permanent voter’s card, as you can see…

 

Chisom