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

Deliverance

deliverance

Bro Hygi dipped his thumb in the bowl of olive oil and leant over her supine body. He traced small crosses on her forehead, lips, and cleavage; he got to her palms but they were tightly shut. He tried to pry them open but the girl clenched them even tighter.

“Aha!” Bro Hygi yelled, “See her hand. See it!” The entire prayer team paused to stare down at Emem. Somebody moved the rechargeable lantern closer and as the full glare hit her hands, the group broke into excited chatter. Both palms were clenched into ferociously tight balls and the veins stood out defiantly, intertwined around them.

The prayer warriors scattered all over the room that was deliverance arena for the night – they had found the abode of the demon. Some of them knelt in supplication, in preparation for the coming battle, the younger ones did little dances and high-fived each other with their bibles. Through the frenzy, Bro Hygi stood calmly in the centre of the circle. His large head was bent low over his chest and his legs stood slightly apart, as leader he had to stay calm. Soon he signaled and the rest of them quieted down.

Suddenly a willowy stem of a lady jumped into the centre of the circle and began swaying violently in all directions. Sister Miracle had sweated through the sheer material of the cream work shirt she had on, her tiny bra and their surprisingly generous twin occupants visibly jumped with every move. Nobody ever interrupted Bro Hygi but this one had to be an exception because he only smiled and waved her on. The spirit was moving.

“Prai-prai-prai-prrrrraaaaaaiiiiiiiiizzzzz jiiiiiizes!” Sister Miracle sang.

“Alaluyah!” they responded.

“Praaaaaaiiiiiiiiiizzzzzz da lawwdu!”

“Alaluyah”

“Alaluya?”

“Amen”

“Oya clap ya hans, ya hans!” And so began the next hour of songs and dance.

***

Emem was bored stiff. Literally.

Her back and buttocks felt dead against the floor, her entire arm weighed tons from the strain of clutching her palms so ferociously. That Sister Miracle had really taken her sweet time with the praise session, starting one song, working herself – and apparently every other male in the group – into a frenzy, before switching abruptly into another song. They were done with that, Bro Hygi now led the prayer session. Each time Emem sneaked a peak beneath her eyelids, she was impressed anew by their energy. They pranced, danced, flung their arms as energetically as the words left their mouths; it seemed each prayer warrior tried to outdo the next.

It was this over-zealous energy, and its stark contrast with their hypocrisy that had forced Emem into pretending to ‘fall by anointing’. Since Aunty Nkpa joined the prayer unit of the new church, her home had become a point of weekly rendezvous for the group. During each visit, Aunty Nkpa always had the prayer warriors well fed, and entertained, sometimes until the next morning. In return, they occasionally held impromptu deliverance sessions for the family. Emem and her older cousins played the roles of attendants during these visits. But as the prayer warriors left in the early hours of the morning, it was Emem alone who woke to open the front door for them and hand them packs of food and canned drinks as they each went through it. It was also Emem alone who noticed the pencil-thin Bro Justin exiting the visitors bathroom just seconds after a dishevelled Sister Maggy waddled out; it was Emem alone who constantly fought off the groping hands of Bro Jero, Bro Faith and Sister Chika with the dreadlocks and happy eyes; it was Emem alone who saw the tiny cigarette butt floating in the toilet bowl after Bro Tom-tom left; and it was Emem alone whose acute nostrils picked up the scent of alcohol on Bro Hygi’s breath as he wished peace on her one last time before leaving.

She never cared for any of it; in fact, Emem was usually in high spirits enough to at the antics of the prayer warriors. But she was not in the best of the moods tonight. It had been a very tiring day, and worse, Bro Faith was on demon-casting duty for the night. He held her still with one firm hand at the back of her neck while almost boring a hole in her forehead with a finger on the other. The whole time he was yelling into her face: Out! … Out in da name of jiiizes … Evil principalities and powers, possessing spirit, gerrout of her! … holy ghost fayaaaa … Emem did not budge.

When he grabbed her at the shoulder and roughly ran his hand down her arm in a brush-off motion making sure to brush her breasts, Emem was shocked. She knew Bro Faith’s inclinations but that he was brazen enough to grope her in the middle of a prayer session? She was repulsed. He brushed her other arm down too, then he knelt, apparently to repeat the action on her legs. She could not take anymore, so she did the next thing that came naturally to her.

She shut her eyes, screamed and fell on her back, making sure to knee Bro Faith in the mouth on her way down. She trashed around a little, drooled some saliva, and then lay still as the entire army rallied around to her.

That had been over three hours ago; now Emem was bored stiff. She was quickly tiring of the pretense, plus she really felt sorry for her family in the room. Poor Aunty Nkpa, how frightened she must be.

Emem knew that after the round of prayers, someone would bring in the holy water; that was when she planned to let herself be ‘delivered’ of the possessing demon. When the first blast of water hit her, she would scream, roll around on the floor, maybe speak some gibberish and abruptly lay still; then she would allow herself to be slowly revived. And when she would eventually open her eyes and sit up, her poor Aunt would be brought to hold her and walk her through the redemption prayer – her oath as an ex-possessee to never again allow a demon possess her body.

She was tired, but she had to finish what she started. So she waited.

…this is the first part. A final sequel is coming soon. Watch out!

Chisom

The Lectern: Impossible is nothing

I do not know about you, reader, but this past month has been both a trial and a blessing for me. I gave up many times – numerous nights when it was just hisses and ta-hell-with-it’s. But none of those dark moments was ever for too long at a time. Every time it seemed impossible to pull through, someone/thing came through – family, friends and/or that aged belief in my own strength.

Imagine my delight then when Chizzy knocked on my door this early morning with ‘Impossible is nothing’ … as if she knew! Thanks to this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’, I have found belief afresh. I hope you do too.

Have a sweet July 🙂

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING

Impossibl is nothing - The Lectern

I recently saw a picture of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote on the cover of Tell magazine. On the far end of his mahogany desk sat a plaque on which was written, ‘impossible is nothing’.

Many times I have heard that phrase repeatedly used by motivational speakers, and I often roll my eyes in response. Never did I take time out to find its application to me.

One day, I went to buy some shoes at an ‘OK’ store. If you don’t know what ‘OK’ shoes are, you are not Nigerian; it means okirika shoes, a code name for fairly-used imported shoes. Fellow Naija babes will agree that ‘OK’ shoes are more durable than the acclaimed ‘foreign’ ones, most of which are made in Aba anyways.

But I digress. I entered the shop and asked the shop attendant to pick out black ballerina shoes for me. Rather than do as I requested,  the man brought out a writing pad and began to scribble on it. I was too curious to even be vexed, what was he writing?

After he was done, he handed the pad to me and I saw that he had written on it: “what do you want to buy”. The guy was deaf and dumb!

What on earth is a deaf and dumb fellow looking for in the business of buying and selling?, I thought to myself. I know quite well what trading entails – a lot of talking and haggling and more talking. So saying that I was shocked is an understatement. I bet you are too.

I was amazed. At that point I remembered the phrase, ‘impossible is nothing’.

Here was this guy, probably already written off as a mute, as something headed for nothing. He was disabled, but he refused to be disadvantaged. He rejected the limitations placed on him by his physical condition and rather chose to see ability in his disability. Plus he handled the sales so well that I even forgot to haggle – and you know we love to haggle.

This experience made me pause for a minute and think. I thought about how at several points in my life I had abandoned projects and plans because I felt they were impossible feats. Oh nobody has ever done it, I would often lament; the last person that attempted failed woefully.

Many times I catch myself holding on to a past hurt, obviously stuck in a rut, but refusing to let go. And other times, I feel like my best days are long over and I can never live a happy and fulfilling life again … the list is endless.

However after my experience with that shoe salesman, I began to see hope. I see now that I am fired up to succeed like I have never been before. I see now that life can throw anything at me, but I, and I alone determine what to make of it. I see now that ‘impossible is nothing’.

Dear friend, if nobody has ever done it, be the first. Challenge the status quo and reach for new frontiers. Who said you cannot be the one to break that old record and set a new one? Nobody.

If you still think it’s impossible, maybe because you have tried so many times and failed every time, then you need to visit Thomas Edison. He will tell you that 999 feels like 1 million to someone who has lost all hope, and one more trial to a passionate soul. Nobody every moved forward by keeping their eyes fixed on the rear view mirror. The past is past and those who dwell on it pass away with it.

The shop attendant in my story wrote out his words in well-articulated English, his lettering was bold, neat and legible. Evidently, he took time to learn to read and write. Even in his disability, he stands tall and makes much more money than many who are perceived as ‘able-bodied’.

Is there an area of your life which isn’t quite playing out according to your plans? I suggest you stop planning for a minute; take the time to show gratitude to God for the areas that are working. Then you may think about ways to make the problem areas work. And when you are done thinking, stand and start doing – very important. Because it is often in the ‘doing’ that our strength fails us. And if in trying you fail, I urge that you try, try and try again. Do not bother who has written you off, never write yourself off.

Losing your eye is not the worst thing that can happen to you, losing your vision is.

Decide today that nothing shall be impossible for you. Whatever is conceivable is achievable. The greatest battles are fought in the mind, win them. And you shall soar like the eagle, because indeed, nothing is impossible if you believe.

By Chiezugolum Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye is a chemical engineer who is driven to challenge status quo and add value everywhere she goes. Her pleasures are photography, chess and cooking.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies; also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right or left, right or wrong…only your opinion.

Chisom

The Day He Showed Up

Nikki2

Nikki ran a few paces after the bus, “Ole! Thief!” She looked for something to throw, and found nothing. “Thunder faya you dia. Oloshi!”

The bus conductor had just hopped on the bus and told the driver to drive away, with her ten Naira change. Mud spewed from the tires of the fleeing bus and Nikki reflexively raised a hand. She was just in time to save her face from the mud, but her dress wasn’t so lucky. The blue and black woolwork – one of the only two dresses presentable enough for her to wear on jobhunts – was now artlessly crisscrossed by slimy brown mud.

Nicki sucked her teeth. “Wicked people,” she exploded, “e no go beta for una. God punish you!” Ignoring the placating pleas of bystanders, she continued screaming even after the bus had long gone. In addition to the ruined dress, she mourned greatly the ten Naira change she just lost.

It was her last hope, that ten Naira; she was going to use it for digestive biscuit. Four small circles of sweetened wheat that would be her last meal before death or a miracle, whichever came first. She sighed repeatedly, shaking her head as she walked to her face-me-I-face-you room. It was a tiny space that held her belongings – a Ghana-must-go bag of clothes and oddities, a mat, and a lantern. It struck her as funny that even that tiny space would soon be lost; she hadn’t paid her rent in six months, and Baba Jide would soon surely throw her out. She recently scanned bridges and shop-areas more attentively, because one of them might be her sleeping-place sooner than later.

“Sister Nikki, welcome oh,” Mama Aina greeted. Nikki swallowed as she passed by the elderly woman’s table of wares – where she would have bought her digestive-biscuit last supper. For the past couple of weeks, she ate those four circles daily to help ward off hunger and get through another 24 hours. It was like Mama Aina greeted to remind her to buy the biscuits.

Nikki thought about ignoring her, but then words rushed out of her mouth without her consent. “Mama Aina, good evening. How market?”

“Fine oh, sister Nikki,” she pronounced her name like it should have been on a biscuit wrapper, Nikki biscuits. “No biscuit today?”

Nikki smiled, “Not today jare, I don chop belle full for office.” And she walked off, effectively shutting down further conversation. She knew her lie was obvious, but she didn’t care what Mama Aina thought. She felt bad enough as it was; not because she had lied about eating, but because her ten Naira would have helped Mama Aina feed her six children. The thought was crazy – like TEN Naira, seriously? But Nikki believed it. She really wished she had the money.

She walked on, negotiating the puddles and make-shift bridges with an ease born of familiarity. Her sandals weighed more and more with every step she took, lifting them became harder. All this poto-poto everywhere; no be say person get food for belle to do this kind hard work.

She continued along, doing her best to rid her feet of fast-caking mud and grumbling for all she was worth. To her right, a Christian fellowship was singing and dancing. A wry smile curved Nikki’s lower lip. Where did they even get the strength?! Everywhere she looked, the stink of poverty ruled supreme; here, people suffered for a living.

Nikki was one of those who believed in God, but a lot of times, she wasn’t sure. She hoped He existed, but it did not make sense that He let people suffer. It was better for her to assume He didn’t exist; then and only then did suffering make sense. But somehow, against her better reason, Nikki just believed.

She continued walking, her pace slower, praying for her room to get closer. The sting in her stomach intensified and she tried to suppress the thought of not having anything to eat anywhere. A thought crossed her mind, and the Ludacris of it made her smile. If to say you dey hear person like me nau, she directed at the skies, I for beg you fried rice and chicken with chilled Malt.

Immediately, she burst out laughing, a weak sound that echoed off the inner walls of her empty stomach. As quickly as it started, it died away. If only He was beside her listening, she mused and shook her head.

“Nikki, you don come?”

Nikki hissed. “I dey your front, you still dey ask if I don come. Kunle, abeg  I no get strength”. And she made to brush by him, but her ever-jovial next-door neighbor only laughed and moved to block her path.

“Nikki-lo-lo, Nikki-fire-for-fire,” he teased. “You know say only you ehn, na Anti-bomb squad!”

“Kunle,” Nikki was nearly in tears, feet hurting, head banging, tummy wailing, “what do you want, please?”

“Nikki, wait first jare make I knack you gist. For office today ehn, come see owambe. Babe, I chop scarra come carry take-away commot sef. But as I reach house na im my spirit just dey tell me ‘give Nikki’, ‘give Nikki’, ‘give Nikki’”. His rumbling laughter punctuated his theatrics, as he extended a bag to her. Nikki stood rooted to a spot, she was too dumbfounded to either be vexed or amused. Was this a joke?

She thought to lie at first, to just blurt out something along the lines of “oh thank you, I’m not hungry” or the Mama Aina line – “I don chop belle full for office.” But she couldn’t do it. She was hungry.

Her hands moved of their own accord. The warm feel of the nylon bag jerked her body back into consciousness – it was for real, FOOD. Tears sprang to her eyes and the ‘thank you’ she tried to say came out sounding like the final noise Kunle’s I-pass-my-neighbor generator made every night before all went quiet. The man himself, surprised at her reaction, immediately withdrew into his room. “Good night oh!” he yelled from behind his firmly shut door.

Nikki’s hands trembled as she fit the key into the door. Inside, she sat on the floor and opened the nylon bag. There was a plastic plate with yellow fried rice and a large golden-brown hunk of chicken. Something still weighed the bag down even after she had taken out the plate; Nikky dipped her hand and took it out – a pretty bottle of malt lay calmly sweating in her hands.

Nikky cried. He was beside me, listening.

By Winifred Adebayo

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You steal a glance over your right shoulder at the door. It stays shut. You turn back to your laptop.

.xnx …

Your right pointer hovers over the next key. Your breathing slows almost to a stop; while your heart drums itself silly, you feel moistness form on your forehead. You fight it, with all the might you can muster. But it happens again: the thumps in your chest go up a notch per passing second; you are sure that in another minute, your heart will be lying on the bed beside you, wet, red and raw.

You know what will happen next if you let it, the visions will follow. So you do the only thing you know will take the pain away. You strike ‘Delete’.

And just like that, you are calm again.

***

The first time it happened was the week after that Saturday afternoon when you, Ebele and Kunle from next door lay huddled in front of your laptop. The three of you lay flat on the bed, elbows propping up your chins, as the unfolding scenes of nudity reflected flashes of colour on your enraptured faces. You called it a ‘porn stroll’, PS for short, and it was your ‘guy’ thing. Each of you was thoroughly engrossed, so you did not hear her come in.

“Chai!”

You jumped. Three arms stretched for the screen but in the jumble of limbs, a knobby elbow shot up the volume. For a split second, noone moved, as moans and shrieks of ‘do it, baby … do it harder!’ filled the small room. Ebele – or was it you – was the first to recover and slam the lid shut.

There were whispers in the estate that PQ knew what everybody was up to, especially the dark hidden things. Nobody ever figured out how come, nobody tried. Later when it occurred to you to wonder how she had gone past the gateman, dogs and into your room way in the back on the first floor – wasn’t the door locked? – you would be even more disturbed.

At the time however, the three of you stood in a short line before the intruder. You felt her eyes switch between the top of your bent head, and the bulge in your crotch you tried so hard to hide.

Tueh!” you flinched at the disgust laden in the gesture. “Children are dying of hunger in Chibok,” she said, “and you are here wasting precious MB!”

***

Frustrated, you slam your laptop screen shut. PQ has cursed you, you just know it.

Or how else would you explain the fact that since that encounter, the moment you so much as contemplated a porn-stroll, you got a panic attack followed by visions of hungry-looking children lined up with rusty bowls before a laptop screen.

And on the laptop screen, it always said,

“MB unloading

75%…”

“If internet data were food, a lot more people would starve … eat your MB today!”

Chisom

The Lectern: Africa is a continent, not a country

For us in Nigeria, this past month of May was very eventful – mosquitoes; fuel scarcity of such potency that saw prices triple, shops and services shut down; scant electricity; then NO electricity for days on end; more mosquitoes; and but all turned over by the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Riding with the optimism that we cannot help but feel in this new dispensation, Thia takes to ‘The Lectern’ with a message of identity, of pride and ultimately, of hope. She admits that this is no new subject for discourse, but she also insists that we must not tire of preaching it until we first, then the entire world, learns it.

And so, we welcome the month of June.

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


AFRICA IS A CONTINENT, NOT A COUNTRY

Africa is a continent

This topic is not a peculiar one.

The first time I heard of it was on a TEDTalks video of the Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled “The Danger of a Single Story” where she jokingly recounted how a Virgin flight she was on mentioned their charity works “in India, Africa and other countries.”

The second time I heard of it was also on a TEDTalks video of another Nigerian, Cobhams Asuquo titled “The Gift of Blindness.”  He also mentioned again rather jokingly that an announcement on a flight he was on mentioned the charitable works the British airways was doing in the UK, Africa and other countries.

Until recently I saw this as inconsequential or rather just unnecessary. I am a fan of great music and one of the songs that I doubt will ever leave my playlist is “We are the World”, both the original and the remix for Haiti. I am sure I have listened to both of them over a hundred times.  Weirdly until recently I never really listened to the lyrics; I merely enjoyed the melody and the rare freshness of many celebrities coming together in one song.

So today I listened. Towards the end of this very awesome song I discovered something I am sure I will never forget:

“…remember Katrina, Africa, Indonesia

and now Haiti needs us…”

It shocked me. Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States of America. The earthquake in Haiti was another really horrible natural disaster. And at about that time in Indonesia, multiple earthquakes and a tsunami at the Mentawai Islands including volcanic eruptions at Mount MerapiI had shaken the Asian country. Seeing as it was a string of natural disasters that hit the above mentioned countries, I began to wonder what natural disaster has hit the whole of Africa.

In all my instances above, Africa was put on a list of countries. In the last one in particular, it was put on a list of geographical areas smaller than many countries. The whole of Africa is not sick. Africa is a continent not a country thus it deserves recognition as such. People make it seem like Africa is a country with South Africa as its capital because in pictures of Africa in most books and magazines, the Safari of South Africa is what is captured as Africa.

Komla Dumor in another TEDx talk stated rather brilliantly that we tell both sides of the story. Yes! Africa is rich naturally. Yes! Africa is still developing. No! We are a continent, a conglomeration of various countries spread across a wide geographical location with various value systems, cultures and languages interwoven rather very beautifully. The moment we start to appreciate this I think it will put things in greater perspective for those doing “charitable works in India, Africa and other countries.” Maybe then Nigeria as a country will become a beneficiary of their benevolence as well as Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Somalia and other AFRICAN COUNTRIES.

This seems confusing at this point and I am asking myself what the whole point of writing this is. Maybe my point is just that this message be passed along so that it is not said anywhere that xenophobia occurs in Africa. Nigeria is not xenophobic and I am sure Benin republic isn’t also, neither are many other African countries.

Africa is way too big to be disrespected so often. Even smaller continents get more respect.

Africa is a continent not a country

Proudly African! Proudly Nigerian! Proudly Igbo!

P.S: This is my identity not just a chant. I should be identifiable by my specific origin not just a random over-generalization. I feel we all should.

by Thia Mbajunwa

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Cynthia Adaugo Mbajunwa is a Christian Igbo Nigerian African female. She loves, as wholly as possible, and looks to make a difference no matter how little. She is sarcastic and shy, a bold feminist currently studying to become a lawyer.

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Chisom