The labours of our heroes past…

I haven’t sang the national anthem in a bit. I usually do it as a prayer on Independence day, along with the national pledge. But, last Independence day, I was overtaken by life, I am not sure I took the time to carry out this tradition. I guess I can blame this on the fact that it was a Sunday, and I was in church, and certainly, na pray for Nigeria go be the theme.

Naija

In my conversations on The Port Harcourt Bookclub Whatsapp group (Thanks Andy), personal curiousity and learnings from my “Socio-Political Environment of Business” class, I have learned so much history and stories about Nigeria that leaves me like R Kelly singing “If I could turn back the hands…”

I am not sure how all these new knowledge makes me feel about singing the national anthem. For starters, I’m the minority that really liked the original one that the oyibo people gave us. But what do I know, I am the minority after all.

Here is one thing I do know; that labours of our heroes past, I’d like to clarify on which of the heroes exactly we are talking about before asking that it never be in vain.

Nigeria, and poor Nigerians have had a roll with bad leadership. its really bleak running through the photo album of them all. There is so much pervasive selfishness and greed among the pages, you might just have a fit. An epileptic one. (Word to the wise, you are better off not looking through them) (Unless you are trying to confirm the bad track record of one of them. I promise you won’t be disappointed in that front)

Its been 18 years of Democracy. We say things are getting better, but young Nigerians (who are even old if i do say!) need coercing to go and get their PVCs and be eligible to vote in the coming elections. How they are hoping things change while acting defeated beats me.

Andy had a beautiful thread, on twitter, where I think he has found a hack out of our “situation” if we can be patient and strategic in our application. See, the institutions that exist already nurse our misfortunes in this country. Its up to us to wean it of the badness.

Now, back to that “labours of our heroes past”, who wants to be a sport and send me the list, so that my anthem singing can be more precise. I certainly would not want to include the “hero” who was overwhelmed by the Forex earnings, and publicly admitted to having “too much money, the problem is how to spend it”

By the way, Happy Democracy Day!! Our Democracy is old enough to drink beer now!

two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer
Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com
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League of Extra-Ordinary First-time Mothers.

Everything about birthing is nothing short of a miracle.

Be it Nannygoat or bitch.

But the birth of a human baby, the bringing of another life, knowing that earth is a miserable space and resolving to protect your child with your every breath from the misery therein.. I haven’t quite found the words to capture it.

I would shout out to all the mothers of stillborns, because even though I haven’t been in the same space as a birth, I have had to hold a mothers hand through a stillbirth experience, & there is hardly another agony that comes close. Those mothers deserve a dedicated post. This one is not about them.

This one is about Agbonma, Agatha and Donnie. Real life superheroes whose names I have changed to protect their privacy 😊. I have known these people (well, 2 out of 3) for most of my life. They all attained superhero status when they became mothers.

2 out of 3 had premature babies. At the time when it is said to be risky to birth a child before term.

I was mostly in touch with 2 out of 3 of them for most of their pregnancy. I knew it was tough, they had their big challenges and challenges with the experience, but they never let on.

Not in their voice. Not in their reactions.

They were not deluded in the least. They were instead gassed up by the incredible juice of faith.

3 out of 3 of these women, went at least 4 days after birth without their babies. Because their babies needed more than their colostrum at that point to live. They had waited 9 long months (let’s approximate, shall we?) to meet with their charming offspring, instead they had to learn new terms for their already populated vocabulary.

NICU. SCBU. Tubes and oxygen and more tubes because as much as you think they need to be cuddled, they need to survive the next minute more.

The boys are all bubbly and well, to the glory of our great God. The mothers recount their ordeals with pride and you cannot miss the gratitude in their voices. It’s underlying like a rug laid from corner to corner. I love to hear them share the testimonies, adds a skip to my step, reaffirms my belief that we are not alone.

Everyone (exaggerated but..) anticipates the joy that is motherhood/childbirth, but no one ever prepares you for the event that things may not go according to plan. Nothing breaks you into your reality.

I have seen strength, I have seen faith, but none comes close to these extra-ordinary women , first time mothers who literally carry the world on their shoulders. They do it with the smile and strength that puzzles me.

Cheers to the brilliant league of extra-ordinary first time mothers!!!🍻🍻🍻

The Orthodox girl musing.

The Orthodox girl musing.

I grew up an Anglican girl.

Singing hymns and the eucharist, Te deum’s and Benediction. This represented a worship service to me. I love the sobriety and piety of it all.

Let me rephrase that first line, I grew up an Anglican girl in a small conservative town. The only variations in my services were the language in which the service was held.

The same things people dont love about my denomination is the absolute reason I stay.

But then, Religion is not my favourite topic of discussion, so I won’t talk about it. I’m just going to ask what I came to ask…

There is a new trend where the teenagers, youth and young adult have their own church separate from the rest of the “adult”. These sections are funkier, for lack of a better adjective (considering how funky the church already is, which road are we going again, abeg), and tailored to suit the young people’s style of worship.

Here in lies my inquisition;

1. Where did young people assemble and thus decide that this is their preferred style of worship?

2. Why are we tailoring services to suit our fancy? Is this one too also about us?

3. Time passes and you are not a youth/young adult/teenager any more, you have to transcend to that “adult” church that wasn’t good enough for you before, is it going to be good enough for you now? Or are we just going to carry on with labels that don’t mean anything?

OK.

I don’t want to be that cat that curiousity you-know-what.

I’m deeply..deeply comforted that the power of prayer is not in the one who prays, but in the one who is prayed to (Max Lucado-paraphrased)

Peace & Bubble wrap

Jem.

Conversations avec le pere.

“Daddy, I’ll be moving by next weekend for school”

“Ah! So you mean this Medicine dream is really kaput? Did you ever apply to those schools I brought you their brochures?”

This is normal path of career conversations with Daddy. My Padre has no intentions of letting things go. He is definitely the type to go for the opportunity to whisper “I told you so” with a coy smirk. I have dreaded it so much that it has turned to become such a delight. Like a game of ‘let’s see if you’ve still got it, if you are right and actually know me’.

Fortunately, he also realises that not all battles are for winning…but it won’t stop him from trying.

“I hear Nda Walter passed”

“Yes..yes. The children..oh! not that there’s ever a thing as a good burial, but his children did well with his funeral. It was befitting”

This was my attempt to salvage our conversation from going south towards awkward. Nda Walter was a very safe topic. He was a much older friend of my father’s, and we hung around his family a lot when we were younger, and we were very fond of him.

“That’s great. How is Nda Gold? I hope she is holding up alright? I haven’t seen them in ages”

“You haven’t? Then perhaps you should go and see them now that you are here.”

Classic Daddy move. Of course we both know that’s not happening, but it will be replayed that “I had wanted to come visit, but couldn’t because I was home for a very short time”.

Daddy was pleased to see me. He didn’t say so, typical Nigerian father, but it was in the way he fussed about what I would have for breakfast (Mom was out of town) and how nothing else mattered (not even that we were already VERY late to church) except our current conversation.

This time too he listened, he usually did most of the talking while I listened, but not that day.

I’ll probably always be a Daddy’s girl, and that’s a good thing because for most of my life, I have considered my father blameless. I recently found out how wrong I was, but not a single thing has changed between our relationship. Or maybe it has, but it’s not all bad. Instead, it’s made me more accepting of other people’s flaws (because Daddy was a pretty high standard).

Parents are pretty important to me right now, because I realise they need me more than I need them, and I want for them to know that I have got them. Especially as I am reminded by the losses around me.

May God keep them for us.

x

Daddy’s girl.

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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