The #HallelujahChallenge

I’m big on challenges.

Anything that makes me want to conciously do something is a welcome occurrence. I’d do a writing challenge,  a drawing challenge, a fasting challenge  sef,  if the end product includes an improved me.

It’s been 15 days since the #HallelujahChallenge began. 15 more days to go and I am certain my midnights will never be the same. I have never spent my midnights in a more productive way. Halfway through and I feel the need to document this special occurrence, that its memory may be more vivid.

I have always liked Nathaniel Bassey. I can’t tell you exactly what it is that drew me to him; his deep resonating worded songs, which reflected his love for God, or the way they are expressed in the most calming melodies in praise and worship. Or maybe because he somehow reminded me of my uncle Chidiegwu, who shared similar qualities with him ranging from their disarming smile to their disciplined servitude to God. I don’t know Nathaniel personally, but I know my uncle, and some how I am convinced that they are genuine and goals.

Now is a good time to appreciate everyone who shared a post, publicising the #Hallelujahchallenge. It was enough to encourage me to join in and I have loved the experience entirely.

I understand that there have been misreadings of what the Hallelujah Challenge is, and I believe now is also a good time to explain in my own words what it is to me. The convener, Nathaniel Bassey,  by inspiration scheduled June as a month of praise and worship to God. For one hour every day in June, between midnight and 1am, Christians are joined in praise and worship via an Instagram and Facebook Live feed (pros of technology). The guiding Bible text  is from the book of Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 16 verse 25 and 26, with additional readings from the book of Psalms (Psalm 150, Psalm 147,Psalm 149) It was originally a local bred assembly but with the ubiquitous nature of social media, Christians all over the world have keyed into this exercise and you know what they say about where two or more gather in the name of God- The blessings and the testimonies have been profound.

As a christian, I have always been fascinated with praise and worship to God. Not because I am fantastic at it but because it is the one thing and only thing God requires from me. He said if i wont praise him, he is able to raise rocks and stones to sing in my place, and never will I let a rock cry out in my place. He is more than worthy of whatever praise I can muster and so I shall go over and beyond any chance I get to render my praise. I have been enthralled by the Olowogbogboro, the God whose hands are mighty to save, the one who is able to turn situations suddenly, just like that! And I have been acquainted with the soothing melodies and the fulfillment of Kaestring‘s “He is here”(That’s Lowkey an anthem now, can’t explain the pump in my spirit when it comes on!)

Of course like all good things, there have been criticisms  on why we (hello every one of the 70k plus streaming and praising!) are doing what we are doing, so it is important to educate these naysayers a little. They say subscribing to the Hallelujah challenge is not the solution to the problems in our country, Nigeria, nor a cure for our collective hypocrisy. I’d like to inform the people of such school of thought that It is not a revival to bring about any change in the country, or a miracle wreaking crusade of any such. It’s like when I do a writing challenge or a drawing challenge, I want to consciously rise up at midnight for 30 days to sing praises, and worship my God whom I think is deserving of even more. It’s not my job to fix Nigeria with my praise and worship. It’s our collective responsibility to do so (with that hardwork you people prescribe) at a time which has not been set apart for something greater. After all, prior to this challenge, I either spent my midnights fast asleep or chugging down alcohol or something even more unproductive. It’s not like I am expending anybodys mahour.

If miracles happen and prayers are answered along the way, it’s only as a by-product of my exercise..and not the core reason why I do what I am doing.

I don’t even get why anyone would have a reservation to the #HallelujahChallenge.

Is it really a bad thing that people, who share a common faith are rising to praise without the barrier of denomination and “my pastor said”??

If you have not been joining the exercise and praise is what you do,i.e you are interested, trust me, it’s a refreshing way to spend an hour. If for nothing, I have become a brighter morning person (I have always been a morning person but it definitely has become cheerier!)

The instagram handle is @Nathanielblow, and the Facebook page is Nathaniel Bassey. Remember what I said about Nathaniel being disciplined, his live feeds are set in such a way that at exactly an hour it ends. So you don’t have to worry about losing too much sleep. I usually catch an hour or two before midnight and the rest after. If you would like to join but have difficulties waking, you can send me a message, I’d love to be your alarm.

Let us give thanks and praises to the Lord, for he is good and his mercies endures forever!

Jemjem.

The Ones Already Gone. 

Today I remember all of them.

Well, some. The ones that I knew of.

Bede was the 1st one.  He had been in my class since Primary one. Orangey and lanky, it’s been so long that I can’t confirm the picture in my head which gives him a buck teeth to be true. I remember he gesticulated as a habit. His mother was a nurse at the health centre close by , which caused Bede to always be one of the first pupils on the grounds on a school day. Restlessness in children and carelessness of the shool authorities cost us this one on a school morning.

Ezinne was the next to go. She was tall and ebony and wore her hair short. I don’t think we spoke much, but I think if we did, we would have gotten along well. We had just returned from school holidays, back to boarding house, and Ezinne was yet to show up. Times like this, we relied on information from family friends and relatives who attended our school. I don’t remember if word came, but when it eventually did, this strange life had been cut short in her.

Then came Nneka, one of the bulkiest girls in my set. I have a picture in my head of her school sandals, because they had heavy soles as if boots, and I concluded the shoes needed to support her size. Broad shoulders and a growth on her neck. The growth had been there for the longest but sometime in our SS 2 (or was it 3?), she disappeared from boarding school to have it surgically removed. We met again in University, but she didn’t stay long enough. It’s amazing how these stories come and spread.

The next one was Chinenye. Coursemate,  which means we didn’t quite say a word to each other until 3rd year or maybe final year (I was a certain kind of student). She was lightskinned and as I later found out bubbly spirited. We had same project supervisor for the final year project and became acquainted. In this time, I complimented her weightloss and her rehydration habit (she drank a lot of water, I called her mmiriaku). She once shared a video of her sister dancing to Timaya’s Yankulu ya, and now every time I hear that song I remember her. It was a morning during NYSC, I was in my apartment contemplating Lokoja’s sun(as was a habit) when I got the call telling me. Now that I think about it, maybe she didn’t conciously lose weight, maybe she didn’t drink all that water because she wanted to, she had to.

I notice how as I got older the details of each passing grew. Maybe it says something about how painful/significant each death was. I may never get a grasp of death, but I have decided that I will not be afraid of it anymore.

xoxo,

Jemjem.

Not all wounds are visible.

Not all wounds are visible.

I am one of those people who see depression as a far-far destination. Like how does something this minor break you so bad.
But I forget sometimes and have to remind myself, “Slippers get size”
If anyone says a matter is hurting them, instead of disproving this, perhaps we can try to find ways to offer relief? maybe?
Faith found a way to explain why as plainly as possible. I thought I’d appreciate the effort and spread the much needed awareness.
Bises.

Phaytea's Pulse

You can never really tell where it hurts….

Over the weekend, I read about the case of a man who told his driver to stop abruptly on a bridge, after which he got down from the vehicle and plunged into the lagoon immediately . He was reportedly taking a call when this happened. He was a doctor.

I screamed!!!!

This is just one out of the numerous cases that happens around the world. We hear about some and others are blown away with the wind. This is an intense piece for me as I cannot begin to imagine what transpires within those nano seconds before ……. (dark space).

Compassion

August Alsina’s song ‘Nobody Knows’ comes to mind. Nobody really knows the pain behind that smile…..

We only see the surface and assume we are all fine. The flashy cars, picture perfect lifestyle, fancy job titles, pictures of vacations and lunch at…

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Mogbo moya

My fanciest clothes are always out on the weekends

I don’t struggle with ironing. For a fee, Ahmed who lives in front of the compound makes sure I’m wrinkle free.

I usually babysit Gboyega’s car during the weekends too. He was recently transferred to an out of country office, has not found need to ship his car over, and would not sell because he had the car done up to suit his taste. It’s a 2015 Toyota Avensis. Considering how ugly I thought the earlier models were, I never thought driving an Avensis would excite me as much as the thought of the weekends do now.

My name is Dasola,  and this is how I spend my Saturdays.

I usually wake at 5 am because I prefer to fix my breakfast before my traditional run (usually starts up as run and ends as a long walk).I’m kitted and out the door by 6am, God forbid I forget my earphones. I “run” and I’m back within the hour, shower and have my breakfast. Ordinarily I’d have my laundry sorted while Mercy,my young Igbo friend whose mother fries akara across the street, cleaned the house. But recently Mercy begged for her brother to do the washing, for a token of course. She sounded like he really needed the money and since she has never stolen anything from me before now, I thought I’d oblige her.

“Bia Nwoke,  as you can see, I’m only letting you go through my stuff because your sister is my girl. This is lagos, if I shout “ole” we will lynch you and then ask questions later,you understand?” I tried to sound stern and pull off the little Igbo I’d picked while warning Mercy’s brother. Mercy was behind me and I caught her from the corner of my eye nodding in agreement.

So now that the usual chores are out of the way, I take the time to go grocery shopping and buy supplies for my workplace if need be.

Whatever the case, I make sure I’m home by 3pm, to head out at 4pm.

You see, the reason my best clothes are out in the weekend is because I have a habit.

I’m a gate-crasher. I’d gate-crash your parties, weddings, whatever event.

I have been doing this for so long now that the bouncers know me. Some of the caterers and the servers too. I’d blush and find it embarrassing, except that it’s a really good rep if you asked me. It means your “invitation only” event already has me on the list. It means that no matter when I show up, the waiter at your event has small chops saved for me.

I am a huge fan of Owambes. I figured if someone already paid for entertainment there is no need for me to go and spend money at a bar or lounge or whatever, buying drinks and forming “living the life”.

You may wonder how I hear about what events may be happening. When the bible said all things work together for the good of those who love God it wasn’t playing AT ALL!

Instagram comes in handy. When your fancy pre-wedding pictures come online, I find out if I know somebody that knows somebody. When I do find, I holla at them for details.

Fortunately, I have the most non-judgemental friends, they always indulge my habits and provide these info willingly. If they use it to yab me behind my back (I have heard a couple of gist,*rme), consign them really!

Also my hot cake caterer-turned allies also help me with details and what not. Sometimes I’m even spoilt for choice (Ha!I know right!).

Anyways, today is a beautiful sunny day in the city, and my face beat is so fleek you can cut through a crowd with the wings of my eyeliner. I’m feeling particularly good about today’s event. My favourite dessert person is catering the event,  and I cannot wait to dig in.

My inner fat girl is coming out to play but looking at my reflection, you can never tell. I smile at my reflection and as the highlight on my face hits the mirror, I feel it’s ray hit all the way across town.

Her Weakest Strength

A good heart”.

That’s the name they gave to her condition.

She was without a doubt the kindest person you may never meet, and the honesty in her words flowed like melted butter.

She didn’t kid herself into thinking that she could wish away the evils of the world, but she was hopeful enough to believe in the good in everyone.

Amber.

That was her name.

And unlike the amber-coloured vessels in Chemistry, she didn’t hold any volatility within. If anything, she wore her heart on her sleeves.

It’s a nice accessory” she responded every time a friend commented to that effect. “What I am trying to say is XYZ has no reason to lie to me. We are not even close enough for me to care

Oh, Amber! This was the problem.

Reuben walked into your life in perfect order; saved you from an embarrassing situation, defended you a second time without knowing your first name and helped you meet an urgent need.

He was your Knight in shining armour, even if you claimed to not subscribe to clichés.

Ruby, that was your pet name for him, would never lie to me” that was your defence every time someone pointed out a situation didn’t add up.

Every time he called you beautiful, you believed him.

Every time he promised to do better, you believed him.

Every time he said he loved you, you believed him.

Not because on your own you felt the need for a sense of validation, but because in your books all his goodness had crossed out his tiny flaws.

What are humans without their flaws?” you jokingly ask.

You were right in believing Ruby, Dear Amber.

He did mean those things every time he said them to you.

He never intended to do you wrong. He got carried away and forgot to mention his engagement.

Time went by so fast and he didn’t get the chance to explain he was already taken.

He showed up on his wedding day asking you to elope with him, so that he can do right by you.

Good intentions never resolve the issues, Dear Reuben.

Amber hasn’t been out of her room in 3 weeks. We know she is not dead because we hear her singing. We know she is still sane because we hear her sobbing.

Ode to the Pink Panthers

Its the International Women’s day 2017 edition, and it has been very colourful on the web pages, and on the radio ( I can’t tell how many times Shaggy’s “Strength of a Woman” has played on the radio today) and in the conversations.

I love the idea of being a woman being celebrated. I got caught in a few arguments from the “men too” troupe, who wanted to know why Men didn’t have their own day set apart for celebrating (They should be grateful we let them have birthdays 😁)

There has been so much citations on the victories and travails of the womenfolk, but while I was praying for all the women in my life today, I didn’t necessarily count the victories that are very evident.

I counted the victory of the woman who relentlessly kept up her children’s standard of living, in exchange for her peace of mind.

I counted the victory of the woman who didn’t resort to violence but chose to forgive every time she came in contact with the one who abused her.

I counted the victory of the woman who in spite of her agonizing stillbirth, determined to get pregnant again, and birth a child.

I counted the victory of the woman who looks nothing like all the tears welled up inside her.

I counted the victory of all the business ventures who refused to be backed to the corner by contrary forces.

I counted the victory of the woman who in spite of running her family goes on to achieve all of her dreams and goals.

I counted every woman who chooses to support other women in every way they can.

Their stories make this day special.

Their stories give us a colourful aspiration.

Happy International Women’s Day! Because you are worth it!

Madre

Maybe it’s because I woke up to the news of people, including my friends mom, passing.

Maybe it’s the sincerity I felt when she said to me “thanks for coming”, and I asked her why, under estimating the value of my presence.

It’s the earnest way she replied “having you around lit up my weekend”.(Her exact words.)

It has to be that.

I’m so used to having my mother so strong and independent (I sometimes blame my  disinclination to be mushy on her), that hearing those words from her resonated in me.
I didn’t think she was a brick without feelings, but I assumed she never felt lonely or missed us, her children.

I was wrong.

I have never thought it weakness to express feelings of loneliness or even mushiness,  but it has become even more validated in my life, the need to express them.

I aim to constantly grow and review my ideals. I’m going to call my mother more, make her visit more, visit her more. Less of the “taking for granted”, more of the “memory making”.

Make the most of this time that we gave together before the Lord calls her home.

Because shame on me if there are obvious characteristics and more potentials in the beautiful woman that I don’t help her explore and express to its fullest.

In the meantime,Thank you Mammy! For not coddling me.


😘😘😘, Jemjem.