The past few months have been a mix of emotions. I have not been posting on this blog because I have been really busy working on my Masters Degree and publishing my first book!
Now I'm ready to take giant strides and start a new chapter of my life.
that feeling you get when you’re on the brink of something new? Like uncharted territory? That’s exactly how I feel right now. And for good reason!
My new book, Ms.Unlikely, will be released in a few weeks!
Am I excited or what?!
I can’t wait for you all to read it.
It is a story and theme that is close to my heart. I almost always get to talk about purpose when I write because I believe life makes no sense without it. And without God the creator and ultimate designer how do we know why we are here? I'm excited about sharing Reki, the main character's experiences with you. It just may mirror your own.
Please head up to my
pre-release page at http://msunlikely.weebly.com for more information on the book, updates
on the release date, coming giveaways and more.
Here’s the cover image. What do you all think?
PS. I'm retiring this blog but will keep the link working. I have content on here that is very close to my heart and life message.
How awesome would it be to have your job involve making videos, short films and fun stuff on youtube? I mean for a living? Great, right?
A few weeks ago I found out about WongFu Productions and I just fell in love with their work. This is what these guys do. Great videos, high quality stuff.
But then I started thinking how do these guys make money? They just appear to be having so much fun.
I found out they also do merchandising; they design and sell their products online.
This week they celebrated 10 years of being together as WongFu Productions and the stuff they talked about really really amazed me. I never knew they went way back and have put so much hard work into their brand.
It's easy to look at people doing great today and think they're just lucky or simply rose out of the woodwork to start running things. It hardly ever works that way. Most of the time you need to talk to them to get a picture of how they started, stuff they've been through and endured to be where they are.
There's always a lot of work behind the scenes. A LOT.
Sometimes I think the "10 year plan" "5 year strategy" is overrated. It may even lead to a lot of paralysis by analysis. We talk so much about what we want to do and achieve but end up only sitting on our behind fixing and editing our speech to make it sound good to others.
Note to self: The steps you make today will constitute your story tomorrow. No deliberate steps, no special achievement.
Here's their 10 year anniversary video.
And here's my absolute favorite. A series called "Away we happened" sponsored by AT&T. This is just episode 1. Episode 2-6 are also on their youtube channel.
At every point in our lives we
need to have some dream or the other, something special and dear to our hearts
we want to achieve. We really cannot lead meaningful lives without such things
tugging at our hearts. It’s what makes getting up every morning even worth it.
I’m saying this because
something happened that just brought tears to my eyes and made me value dreams
and visions so much more.
Many years ago while I was
still an undergraduate I met this guy. We were in class together actually and
he always struck me as kinda weird. He was very studious and committed to his
academics but also kinda … wild. I didn’t know how to place him. For me you
were either this or that but this guy seemed to live in both worlds.
We used to tease each other
about who studied more (it was him really, I just copied him J) anyways we got close and I learnt he’d always
had the desire to be a doctor and he was bent on making it to medical school, no
matter what it took.
Now I also grew up with that
fantasy about being Doctor Roy. But sha the system, a few disappointments and a
scary bloody (literally) surgical procedure I saw on TV cured me for life!
Doctor Roy? Thanks but... er… no thanks. Now I didn't know what I wanted to be
but I sure knew doctor wasn't even close. But this is not about me. This is
about my friend Alban. He is a great man. J
We graduated and lost touch. And
for the next seven years I wouldn't hear from him. And then… one sunny
afternoon few weeks ago he buzzes me up on Facebook and I couldn't believe my
eyes. His profile name? Dr. Alban… and no he wasn't hoping to be a doctor someday,
he had done it! Tears welled up in my eyes.
Now people become doctors every
day, no big deal. But what made goose bumps break out on my skin was his
determination. After four years of undergraduate school turned five, he went
back to study medicine? Like seriously?
It’s what makes you want to ask, with your nose in the air like in the
movies. ”What’s in it for you?”
If you grew up in Nigeria,
without parents who have everything and can offer you the world, you had to
work, I mean literally take your life in your hands and run with it. Either that
or you … well take whatever life hands you.
Seven years, folks, this guy
went back to medical school because he had a dream. It must have been hard.
Most guys just want to make money when they leave school, nothing wrong with
that. But the pressure, oh, the pressure! Everyone expects you to do this or
that. Move out of the house, get a car, take care of your younger siblings, get
married, get an apartment, be responsible. But he chased down his dream. He
did. It must have been hard but he did.
I think of my friend Jirade who
runs a catering company, the way she works tirelessly, day and night to work
her dream. It IS hard. But she’s not giving up. Oh no she’s not!
These folks inspire me. What’s
the point of living if we don’t follow our passions? What would life be like if
we just lie down and let it walk all over us? And for folks like us who won’t
get it unless we work, roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty, the
fulfillment of getting there is … ah…worth too much to pass up.
looked up at the darkened ceiling and whispered the words like a prayer.
"This Christmas I will run away."
rose gingerly from the creaky bed, mentally willing it not to squeal. It was
2am and the last time I counted the money was three o’clock in the afternoon
after Yeye sent me back home to get more palm oil for her customer, Iya Benji.
I shifted the old coca cola crates aside and reached for the pillowcase wedged
in between two crates. I listened for any sign that someone was awake.
Satisfied I had roused no one, I reached for the money, peeled the tattered
pillowcase aside and felt for the rolled up newspaper. Inside the newspaper was
the sock where I hid the money.
had been saving for the two years I had been with Yeye; hundred naira thrice a
week. Aunty Agnes was my angel and I always prayed that her fiancé Uncle James
would come to our neighbourhood. He always did. Like the predictable crow of
Yeye’s weird black cock every morning, he always showed up Wednesday, Friday and
Sunday evenings except on very few occasions. He was a banker, or so Aunty
first time I met him, Aunty Agnes had sent me on an errand. She gave me 1,000
naira to buy yoghurt, Digestive biscuit and a pack of juice.
buy the fake one o,” she said of the digestive biscuit, like I could have known
which was fake or not. I nodded and dashed off. I came back panting and
sweating, having ran all the way to the store and back. I found her sitting on
a man’s lap when I walked into her room. Her arms were around him and she
looked so happy. She looked up and wagged a manicured finger at me.
knock, okay.” It didn’t sound like she was scolding me, so I smiled and nodded.
“James, this is Atilola, the little girl who works for my landlady.” Uncle
James smiled at me and I saw his dimples flash. The way she said ‘little’ made
me feel like a nine year old. I dropped the items on the table and handed her
the change. She pressed a hundred naira note into my hand. I curtsied and left
hurriedly before she had a chance to change her mind. I heard her giggling as I
scampered off. I tried not to imagine what they would do in my absence. Such
thoughts made me shy. Instinctively, I covered my eyes and giggled; almost
tripping over the little steps in front of the room in the process.
money was intact. I folded it and stuck
it in the white cotton sock with pink frills on the edges. The sock had turned
brown. I fingered the frills and fought hot tears as I remembered the last time
I had worn it.
years ago at Christmas. We had prepared to do a Christmas play during the end
of year party at my school; Ilesanmi Private International School. It was the
only private school at Iberekodo where I lived with my mother and brother. We
were not rich, not by any means, but we were not poor either. My mother worked
hard. She had vowed that none of her children would attend the local Iberekodo
primary school. She was never prideful though; she never looked down her nose
on the other women who sent off their little ones to the public school with no
lunch packs or socks on their feet. She didn’t know what was really
international about Ilesanmi either, but there we went and joyfully so.
Christmas, she bought new second-handclothes
for my brother and I. Well they were new as far as I was concerned. I tagged
along with her to the market and watched in fascination as she haggled with the
clothes sellers. She bent down several times picking up blouses, shirts, skirts
and other stuff and tossing them back again when the sellers gave her
ridiculous prices. We bought many clothes that day and I couldn’t wait to try
them on. Most of all I couldn’t wait to show off my 'Virgin Mary' costume for
the Christmas play. My mother had bought a white dress complete with a straw
hat and white socks with pink frills. It didn’t look to me like what the Lord’s
mother would have worn but who was I to complain.
shook my head to ward off the memories, nice as they seemed what followed was
something I never wanted to remember. I
stowed away my savings and lay back on the creaky bed. Looking up, I traced the
patterns dust and age had made on the concrete ceiling with my eyes. Tomorrow
was Friday, a good day, and it was closer to Sunday, another good day.
what seemed like only a few minutes, I woke up to Yeye’s slaps and screams.
up! Foolish girl. Owuro lojo, alakori,
scrambled up and rolled to the other side of the bed, cursing the night under
my breath. What a fleeting one it was. It seemed I had only nodded off a few
munities ago. I knew it would take Yeye another two minutes to raise herself up
from the bent position she had taken in order to wake me up. She would support
her back with one hand, while the other rested on her knee. She would then wince
as she hoisted herself up before walking away, her arms almost at ninety
degrees to her sides. The woman was fat, with thick dark skin that never
glowed; rough, dry skin as black as soot.
wondered how she got the name Yeye. I had overheard some of the neighbours call
her Iya Aje. That mama Benji and Iya
Kausara were her cult mates. Isiaka, the mechanic swore to it, that they were
all witches. If not why were they all widows, fat and balding? Yes, yeye had no
hair. Well a ring of hair around her head, but that was it. I wondered how it
got chopped off. Everyone also wondered why they all had funny looking cocks
that crowed every morning. Not that having a cock was rare in these parts but
these cocks were, well, odd. Yeye’s cock was a thin wiry thing. It had lost all
its feathers except for a tuft on its back, and it challenged humans. You only
had to move close to it to experience that. I hear Mama Benji’s cock is so fat
it wouldn’t run, not even in the face of a butcher’s knife.
whatever Yeye was, I didn’t care. One thing was clear to me, this Christmas I
had to disappear.
hurriedly did my chores and headed to Yeye’s shop across the street where she
sold oil, garri, beans and rice. I liked to avoid Yeye in the mornings. She
always woke up with a sour mood. I would hurry to the shop and wait to be
joined by Funmike, an older girl who only worked for Yeye at the shop.
morning Funmike arrived with a long face, her nose running. I knew she had been
“Kilode?” I asked. Funmike only spoke Pidgin
I am trouble o. Babatunde ti pa mi!”
she placed both arms on her head and stamped her feet, biting her lower lip
till I saw blood. I pulled her inside the shop and made her sit down; no point
drawing the attention of the whole neighbourhood. Word will get to Yeye. It
always did. I knew Yeye would come late to the shop; she had had visitors early
happened? Why are you crying?” Even though Funmike was a few years older than I
was, she loved to confide in me. She said I possessed Ogbon Iya agba, an old woman’s wisdom.
Lola. I am trouble o. Babatunde have
kill me.” She slapped her tights and winced. Then she rubbed them down, both in
grief and in an effort to relive the pain she had inflicted on herself. She
moved closer to me, her chair scraping the ground noisily and whispered, “Mo ti loyun!”
shrank back in shock, my mouth slightly open. She placed her index finger
across her lips and moved her chair closer to mine, finally closing up the
space between us.
will I do now? He say he no get money for abortion. Me I no fit carry this
pikin o! Ha, mo gbe!”
was at a loss for words. Abortion? I didn’t even want to think of that word. I
had always lived a sheltered life, so this kind of issue was new to me. But I
wasn’t altogether naïve.
don’t do abortion o. what if you die? It is dangerous now.” I had begun to ache
for her. I couldn’t imagine myself pregnant with a baby I didn’t want.
looked at me like I had suddenly grown wings. “Kini? Make I carry pikin for my age? Where I go get money buy
pampers, baby food, ha, mi o se o. I
go remove am.” She sounded so sure like she had counted the cost and decided
that was the only way. My mother used to say that the dog that will certainly
get lost will not hear its masters call. I knew I couldn’t persuade her.
evening, after I bought digestive biscuit, a pack of juice and sanitary pads
for Aunty Agnes and she had pressed another note into my hands, I stole back to
my room to count my money again. My hands shook slightly as I took out the old
pillowcase. How had Funmike known I was saving money? Why did she ask me to
loan her money for the abortion? Did yeye know? Did she tell Funmike? And how
many people knew about my money? I hurriedly counted the notes and exhaled
slowly when I saw that it was complete. But before I could finish placing it
back, Yeye called for me.
Lola were! Eti e o di o. Come here!”
I scrambled up and fled from the room in search of yeye. She was sitting in the
balcony as usual, counting her proceeds for the day. Her eyes were red as I
stood before her, my heart in my throat. Her call had startled me and now I
looked like I was guilty of something.
put Forty thousand naira in my Igbadi.
Ten thousand is missing.” She bit out, holding out the wad of Five hundred
naira notes, her eyes never leaving my face. I began to hyperventilate. The
first time Yeye had accused me of stealing, I had suffered grave consequences. Unconsciously,
I glanced at the spot behind my hand where she had cut me and rubbed pepper into
Three days later, part of the stolen money was found in Mufu’s
possession; the boy who had worked in Yeye’s shop before Funmike was employed.
Yeye never apologized to me.
didn’t see any money ma. I swear, I didn’t take it.” I touched my tongue with
my finger and raised it to the sky, praying that Yeye would believe me. I
couldn’t take another cutting. I just couldn’t.
who took it? Ehn, who took it? Hmmm, I’m giving you the last chance to confess.
Ole! Oti ji mi lowo!”
tears started to fall unbidden. I prayed to God that she wouldn’t search my room;
she’d never believe I didn’t steal the money. I had saved thirteen thousand
five hundred so far. I couldn’t lose my savings. I went on my knees before Yeye.
“Mummy, mi o mu owo yin. I swear I
didn’t take it. I left the shop before you today.”
ehn, are you saying Funmike stole the money? Ehn, is it Funmike?” She had
leaned forward on her low chair and I could see the veins in her neck bulging.
I didn’t say that. I didn’t …”
Yeye sprang out of her chair and grabbed my scarf which I was wearing loosely
on my head. Wads of naira notes fell to the floor around our feet. A large
chunk of my long silky hair was in her grasp and she pulled on it with such
intensity I felt my brains rattle. After a few more slaps, I still had no
confession for her. Her eyes were red and I swear I could almost feel heat
coming from her mouth.
out of here!” she shouted and I scampered away.
lay in my room that night I couldn’t shake the feeling of foreboding that
washed over me. Goose pimples broke out on my skin and tears stung my eyes. I
suddenly missed my mother fiercely. I thought of Mummy Ikeja. She had brought
me to Yeye more than two years ago when my mother died suddenly. I had packed my bags joyfully when Mummy Ikeja
said she was taking me to live with my mother’s friend. She would take care of
me, she promised, better than my own mother could because she was rich and she
lived in Kuto, also in Abeokuta. My excitement had died a natural death,
however, when I overheard the amount of money Yeye paid her to have me. I knew
then that Yeye was no friend to my mother. I was a domestic help.
never returned to Yeye’s shop and I knew what she had done. Yeye never brought
up the issue again and I was glad. I walked on eggshells around her from then
on, counting the days till Christmas.
weeks later after I came back from an errand, Aunty Agnes told me she was
getting married. I looked at her blankly at first, unable to smile or cry. No
more hundred naira tips. I looked at the calendar on the wall behind her. 19th
December. I had a few more days. “Congratulations Aunty. Will you still be
living here?” I asked her still dazed.
fifteen I was small for my age. I had no curves and my chest was as flat as an
ironing board. Looking at Aunty Agnes made me want to grow up fast. She was
tall, slim and shapely. And now she was getting married.
dear. I’m moving to the East. James just got a job in Awka. You be a good girl,
hmm.” She patted my shoulder and looked into my eyes. “You will be just fine,”
she said then resumed moving around the house. I considered myself dismissed.
knew I won’t grow up to be like Aunty Agnes if I remained with Yeye so that
night I hatched a quick plan.
the night before Christmas I will stuff my belongings in a polythene bag. I
will scribble a note to Yeye, divide the money into two, fold a portion of it
with the note and hold it fast with an elastic band.
the crack of dawn, I will tiptoe, barefooted to Yeye’s door and wedge the note
and the money in between the door and cemented floor. It would be payment for
the remaining days of my servitude. Yeye had paid the agent, Mama Ikeja, for my
services, it would only be right that I paid her back since my time was done
to my mother’s spirit to bless my plans and make me like Aunty Agnes someday, I
lay down gingerly on the creaky bed and smiled. I’m sure of it. It will work
out. This Christmas I will run away.
next morning, even before the black cock belted out its deathly crow, I got up and
made straight for the crates. I had had a dream. The money in the sock had
grown and my room was filled with money. There was money under my bed, money in
my bucket and money in my mouth, choking me. I grabbed my trusted pillow case
and felt for my lifeline. The bulge of the naira notes in it sent my pulse
kicking. This is it. The idea of running away had never been so close, so
intoxicating. Yeye will certainly see red. But the money will pacify her
somewhat. The money hadn’t grown. It was still just enough.
unwrapped the pillowcase, reached for the sock in the folded newspaper and my
breath caught in my throat. Hot tears formed at the corners of my eyes and
strange shapes danced across my vision. I covered my mouth to keep from
screaming. There, in my hands, was a sockful of dried leaves.
Courtesy UNICEF @ UTD I just watched Girl Rising, a film dedicated to spreading the word about the education of girls all over the world. And it was touching. Touching to see how many girls around the world do not get a chance to get an education and get ahead in life.
Of course what keeps them from school is even a greater injustice. Poverty, cultural sentiments, child labor, early marriages.... Yes it's not new. We hear it all the time. We know these things happen. And just like all other ills in the society, if it doesn't knock on our doors we can pretty much go on with our lives. Right?
But seeing those girls, real girls with real stories of how the very world that should uphold and protect them strips them of innocence and dignity- it really made me see how much we take for granted. If you're reading this and you went to school, have a family who loves you and want to see you succeed, didn't get married off to some stranger just because your family needed the dowry money... you're blessed, so privileged..and in a position to help a girl.
See the film if you can, it will surely make you see the world in a different light and thank God for the little things. It tells the story of nine girls, their obstacles, their struggles and how they found the strength to keep going, to keep fighting, despite the odds against them. Here's the trailer.
Earlier today I also watched Aamir Khan's TV show about Female Infanticide in India and I...I can't explain how I felt. To think that these things still happen, people killing baby girls because they want boys, deem them more profitable or whatever? Sad. I hear of these things even in Nigeria and I wonder what kind of people think like this, let alone commit such atrocities. Na wa o!
Here's the TV show on Female infanticide.
I feel like I can make a difference. Like we all can. In our own little way.
So I really love all the movies by the Kendrick Brothers. Fireproof was great, courageous was even better! I've watched these movies like 10 + X times already. I like the fact that they are wholesome with great messages for the family. God bless Sherwood pictures. Ya'll are doing a phenomenal job!
So I found these silly video of the making of courageous. It's filed with bloopers and jokes and funny dancing and stuff. It's great to see how these films are made...and to think they work with mostly volunteers and a low budget. Nice!
For those of you who appreciate these movies, more films are coming from Affirm Films (owned by Sony Pictures). Great christian movies with awesome messages. You should look out for them.
Here's the funny courageous video... Enjoy!
Here's another silly video of the making of Fireproof. Does any one recognise a mock scene from Facing the Giants? That is just hilarious!