Standing Before Kings

Today, I stood before and photographed the number one citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, amongst other notable figures. I’m not easily overwhelmed but many hours later, I’m still quite… overwhelmed.

In my wildest imagination, my strongest ambitions, my greatest hopes, I never pictured myself walking into “the villa”. It just was never something I aspired to. And yet today, it was almost like walking into a dream. Except it wasn’t.

I’m not the most diligent man. I’m far from efficient most of the time. Discipline is something I still strive at. Yet, as far from fitting to this as I think I am, I can’t help but feel that this captures this experience the most…

Proverbs 22:29 NKJV

29 Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men. 

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the things I hope to accomplish. I still have tons to learn. So much that, sometimes, it appears impossiblethat I will ever have enough time to cram that much knowledge in this tiny head of mine. Not to even talk of the time to practicalise the things I’m learning. Yet, huge doors are already swinging open ahead of me, by no virtue of the greatness which I clearly lack at this time.

Divine favour is real. Tap into it.

I met Bayo Omoboriowo at the villa. (If you don’t know him, google him). The first thing he said to me was “I know you” (not quite, he only remembers my face from uni. Still, I was somewhat abashed and my head swelled a bit). After I said to him “You’re doing some awesome work”, the second thing he said to me was “I’m only learning”.

So modest.

If someone like him is still learning, then I never sabi anytin nah. Yet, there’s a lesson to learn there. At no point do I ever want to see myself as having “arrived”. No matter what I achieve, I hope that I never strain to do better, bigger, greater. I hope I never imagine that anything I’ve ever achieved is of my own doing. I hope to never stop learning.

I’ve left “here” for “there” and I am thankful that I am not ruled by fear. Now, “there” is “here” and it is and will remain beautiful. Through and through.

For you reading this…

God will open doors before you. The ones you knock on, the ones that were shut in your face and the ones you never imagined you would stand before. All this in Jesus’ name. Approach those doors with boldness.

Here. And There.

I’m afraid.

I thought I needed a change of environment. I needed some fresh air. I was so sure I needed a fresh start. But more, standing on the threshold, I’ve come to realize that…

I’m afraid.

I’m the one who is wont to go out on a limb and seize the bull by the horns, wrestle him to the ground and be the victor when I plant the dagger in his heart. But when you’re the bull and that red flag is waving in your face and you know you must charge, no matter how hard you wish you didn’t have to…. It becomes frightening.

I want to stay here. I can admit that to myself now. Here is safe. Here, I have family and friends and a network and confidence and history and people who owe me favours. I don’t want to leave all this security behind. I don’t want to go there.

But I do want to go there.

I want to go and do bigger things. I want to make things happen. For others and for myself. I want to validate certain dreams I woke up from too long ago. I want to re-find the spark it seems I’ve lost. I want to capture things I’ve never seen before. I want to embark on an adventure. I want to breathe fresh air.

I only wish I could do all of those here. But I can’t. Not right now.

I need to go there… Even though I don’t want to.

There is scary. And the more I look around me, the more I come to the realisation that here is scary too. Here, a stagnation reeks. Here, stress levels soar to an all time high. Here, opportunities abound, but mostly at the expense of one’s soul. It’s scary here. As it is over there.

So it appears I must choose my scare.

I choose there. I chose there ages ago, but that was before I actually had to go there. It felt good to talk about going there. Telling some folk I would be going there made them envious. And telling others, I could see how delighted it made them. Delighted for me. That made me delighted. A warm fuzzy feeling spread from my chest to my back where they patted me when they hugged me and to my face in a warm smile which must have radiated forth and affected everyone it was beamed at.

But today, it’s dark and cold and alone where I stand. On the threshold of the abyss in which there lies.

I know not what lies in there. And I am afraid of my ignorance. But my ignorance will not hold me back. Nor will my fear.

I shall step, nay… I shall dive into the abyss.

I am leaving here and going there.

And it shall be beautiful.

Here We Go Again: 30 Days of Hope

Compliments of the season, dear Nostalgians 🙂

About this time last year, I spontaneously received the inspiration to do a 30 day guest blog challenge. It was largely inspired by the one which runs all December annually on Efe’s [@HL_Blue] blog where folk (including myself) get the opportunity to reflect on and review their past year. I thought it would be a great idea to do something similar in January where folk get the opportunity to speak into their new year the things they would like to see/have/achieve/experience etc.

The idea is to put down one’s hopes, dreams, goals, resolutions and/or aspirations for the year in writing and boldly declare it to the world; thereby taking that one bold step closer to achieving the things we want to achieve.

I already thoroughly introduced the concept here on the 1st of January, 2013. See a little excerpt of that below:

—–

More often than not, a list of new year resolutions is supposed to be a motivation to self, with the only motivator being… again, self. And that’s why so many people fail at it, because when one can no longer motivate self, there’s no one else to turn to and you need some external help sometimes when you’re trying to make drastic changes in your life. With this, folk will be ‘faithing’ it out by putting it out there for their friends and for you, to hold them to. Thus, holding themselves to a higher standard.

Also, this goes beyond just putting down goals and targets for the year in writing. Goals, targets and projects are the expectations one can practicably make of oneself. This will however also include hopes and dreams; basically those expectations that are largely out of one’s hands/control and one can only hope and pray for (divine) favour to come their way concerning, while putting in the attendant work and playing one’s own part as well of course. And this is why I’ve laid the emphasis on these expectations by tagging this #30DaysOfHope.

Which brings me to faith. Writing these out will be a small step of faith on the parts of all entrants. Writing this, for most people, will be the first step (hopefully, of many) towards achieving the things they hope and aim for. It is taking these aspirations from their thought process, an intangible, abstract thing, and translating it into action, a tangible and concrete thing. It’s also a form of prayer. You’re telling the heavens (and the earth) that “These are the things I want and I’m doing something about it, now please help me out here”. Of course, it makes it even better if these people went the extra mile and actually, verbally prayed for/about these things, maybe involving their family and/or friends in the process *hint, hint*

And this brings me to the last reason why I (and by extension, the participants) will be doing this… To encourage others. There may be others going through the same issues one may be going through, by talking about and doing something about one’s issues, one also encourages others. Similar burdens may be shared, someone who has overcome the challenges you may be going through now may be led to encourage you and a stranger may just be inspired to say a prayer on your behalf. Of course, there’ll be the nay-sayers and the back biters. Let them talk. Their reactionary words hold no water to yours. You are the initiator, you have the upper-hand. Just as a precautionary measure however, comments throughout the run of the challenge will be moderated. This is no place for bile and bitterness, thank you very much.

—–

I considered not running this challenge this time around, considering the immense amount of logistics and correspondence doing this entails and how busy January is already cracked up to be for me. But I came to the realisation just how selfish not doing this would be. Also, Efe’s indefatigable spirit has been such an inspiration. So we will have the #30DaysOfHope again 🙂

This is a call and an invitation. Anyone interested in putting in an entry for the challenge, please reach out to me in the comment section below, via twitter [@0toxic], email [holla4ola@yahoo.com] or any other means available to you. You don’t have to be a blogger, a good writer or be on twitter. You may be yourself, use a pseudo or be anonymous. It may be lengthy, brief or even just in pictures. Style, length, format, language, etc, is all up to you. You may choose to share it or not to. All well and good.

The only requirement is to book a date and slot in the schedule on a first come, first served basis. From the 1st to 30th of January, once at noon and once at 6pm, posts may go up. A few slots have already been snapped up as of writing this post but there’s very likely enough to go around. But remember, first come, first served.

So come one, come all. Declare to the heavens and the people of the earth what you want, hope and dream for 2014 and begin to see it through.

Falling From Grace

The Nigerian cyberspace is abuzz. It was taken by storm last night with the confessions by a woman of her illicit affairs with her former pastor who pastors a ‘big church’ in the FCT, Abuja. Needless to say, this is going to have a huge ripple effect and you can be sure that this will go from blogosphere, where it started, to social media, which it is presently already on, to the offline media, where the waters will undoubtedly get really murky, and then out into the world. It’s pretty easy to see these are the latter days considering all the scandals that keep rocking the church in general, especially now that ‘big men of God’ seem to consistently be coming under… and falling all by themselves into fire.

I choose not to discuss the details of this particular mess or direct traffic to the blog. Real names are mentioned, personal details shared, the lady’s face is plastered on the background of the blog, lives and livelihoods may be at stake. I would rather not contribute any drops, no matter how little, to that raging ocean. I’ll briefly summarise though…

A lady joins a church but against the advice of her friend, joins the work force of the church after encouragement from the senior pastor himself, who, according to her story, singled her from the crowd. After serving for a while, she goes abroad to further her education, but not before exchanging contact details with her pastor. They keep in touch. He comes into town eventually and invites her to his hotel room and after cajoling and “manipulating” her, gets her to sleep with him… everyday for an entire week. Pastor is married and constantly speaks out against adultery and fornication. When, in confusion, the lady asks how he manages this, he says “I will teach you a level of grace that you don’t understand.”  At some other point, he claims to have dreamt that he saw all that is happening now in a dream and warns her that the bible says “Touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm”. Wow. Such effontery. *sigh* Naturally, after this whole episode, the lady is thrown into much turmoil. She speaks to friends, leaders and eventually, someone under whose authority the pastor is supposed to be, and in all of this, the issue is not addressed. She finally resorts to telling her story from the mountain top to the whole world.

Naturally, from the comment section of said post, several believers were concerned for the salvation of younger christians and how this may hurt their belief. In all honesty, I was tempted to toe this line of thought also, but then had a rethink. The bible does say “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” Mark 9:42 KJV. It is easy to push this lady to the side of the fence of one causing others to stumble, sin, go astray, disbelieve and/or leave the church. But then again, she can very easily also be seen as one who has been led astray herself and is dealing with it as best she can. She repeatedly claimed that even though she was not forced and doesn’t believe she was jazzed and even admits complicity in all of this, she was manipulated and abused by a person using the authority they wielded over her. She clearly states she showed no interest initially or leading on to these happenings and did not seduce the man of God. Off course, this all only her very well told side of the story. She also claims to have evidence of all this.

Now, in all of this, I don’t particularly support the calling out from the mountain top, but at the same time, I admit that this kind of treatment is needed sometimes, possibly even in this case. There are too many such situations that end up getting swept under the rug. Yes, this may discourage young believers. Yes, this will provide much unneeded fuel to the church-, christian- and christianity-bashers. Yes, this is not guaranteed to provide much needed closure for the lady in question. Also, at the end of the day, the lady is certain, in this judgmental, largely chauvinistic society of ours, to get the shortest end of the stick.

BUT at the end of the day, there are certain pros despite all the cons. It offers her some sort of solace. It serves as a wake up call to other spiritual leaders who are guilty of these sorts of travesties to repent and change their ways; if not for the potential spiritual consequences, then at least to avoid the disgrace that comes with being called out like this. And most importantly, it serves as a reminder to believers, old and new to be wary in their walk of faith. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” ‎Matthew 7:15 KJV

Perhaps, the biggest issue for me personally about this whole issue is the man of God using and twisting the scripture and bible teachings to perpetuate and defend his misactions. Yes, we are all sinners. And yes, grace abounds, but Paul asks “…Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1&2. I have a serious issue with folk who have an issue with admitting their mistakes or wrongdoing when confronted with them, within or outside the church. I understand that we each have our own flaws and pride might not be as much an issue for me as it is for some, but if we all know just how much trouble and furor can be avoided by just saying “I was wrong.”, “I’m sorry” and “I will not do this anymore”. That last one more to self than anyone else.

I’m not perfect but I’ve found something that works for me when I’m trying to not do the things I’m tempted to but I’m sure to regret later… I think “What will people say?” Many a time, I’ve looked upon a beau and wanted to misbehave, knowing without doubt that my advances will be welcome… And it is the thoughts of the message I have decided to stand for and how that will be affected when the word gets out (which it always eventually does) that have kept me the most. And oh, lest I’m beginning to actually sound self-righteous, I’ve also been in that position and grossly misbehaved, time and again. Indeed, the grace of God abounds. But for how long? Eventually, even the grace of God runs out if continually taken for granted. Will one wait for that time to go in search of repentance and turn away from indiscretion? I choose not to wait for that time. So for me, that is one major way I have ‘kept’ myself. As someone who grew up under and has served in ministry, I would certainly prescribe it to others.

I know one who has repeatedly taken grace for granted and has become a terrible hazard to himself. I can count no less than fifteen friends of mine who he has attempted to ensnare, a number of them concurrently, with “I’m a man of God and God has told me you are the one I’m to marry.” Fifteen girls. And this is no exaggeration. Trust me, I counted. And all these before he even went to seminary, where he’s supposedly at right now. He would even go on to actually date two of them that I know of. And distance is no barrier either. From the UK to the states to Canada to different corners of Naija, bros was/is writing poetry, tweets and blogposts dedicated to and preaching his way into multiple ladies’ hearts. And the modus operandi when he got found out was/is always the same too. He would ‘become remorseful’, break down and cry over the phone, then say “See, I’m crying. I’ve never shed tears for anyone in my life. That’s how much I love you. Only you”. When this doesn’t seem to work, he would cut her off, delete her from twitter and bbm, block her, etc. Sometimes, when he’s anticipating a really big mess, he’d even delete the twitter account he’s using at the time. But this is usually only for a small while before returning when the dust has settled, sometimes with another account. Then when he hears the lady has moved on and is seeing someone else, he would attempt to reconnect and guilt trip her, usually ending up ranting about how she’s a heartbreaker before he cuts her off again. This has happened countless time with countless ladies.

I’ve reached out to bros, he acted remorseful, said he was changing… and then he cut me off too. LOL. And now, I’ve heard from at least two more ladies who he’s been making advances to and using the same ol’ tired modus operandi. *sigh* This leopard and his spots sef. For a long time, I threatened to call him out and was constantly asked by the ladies he’s tried his stunts with not to bother with all the inevitable drama. Apparently, he’s excellent at picking his targets, which I’m guessing is the only reason none of them has called him out yet. I realised though, that the longer no one was calling him out on this issue, the more he went around trying to sweet talk la ladies. This one just don’t stop, does he?

Bros, I sure as heck hope you’re working on yourself and are taking the example above seriously because, in due time, all your hard work and the ministry you’re helping build will come tumbling around you… if you don’t change. I’m not the one who’s going to name you, for now. But apparently, no one having publicly disgraced you is the only reason you keep doing these things, worse still using the authority placed upon you by the ministry in which you serve. A time comes when you will have to be held accountable for your atrocities. I hope you’ll be prepared.

Introducing 30 Days Of Hope

Forst of all… (Go down low)… (¬_¬)

Happy New Year, Nostalgians!! \(´▽`)/

#np Together we made it | Busta Rhymes ft Linkin Park

Now on to the meat of the matter… 😀

I’ve never actively made a new year resolution. Never really believed in the ideology. It’s kinda amusing how the thinking that is most closely associated with the idea of new year resolutions is that they never stay upheld. Apparently, by popular belief, they’re more likely to be broken and rather fast too, than any other kinds of resolutions. Well, if there’s one thing I’ve come to learn about popular belief, it’s that being the ideology of the majority doesn’t necessarily make it any more right than that of the minority. So I don’t believe, like most people, that new year resolutions are a waste of time. They HAVE worked for some people. Even for a lot of the folk who knock it, if they took the time to think back, there’s probably one or two positive changes in they’re lives that were once upon a time made from putting together a list of new year resolutions.

One pro I can point out for making new year resolutions is that the year in which one is made serves as a sort of milestone when the resolution is actualized. It’s easier to pin point when a change in one’s life took effect and make reference to it later to encourage another than when that change occurs on a more random date. Another argument for new year resolutions is that when made annually and actualized, one builds their discipline in making decisions and sticking to them and this, increasingly as the years go by.

Still though, I don’t see myself making a list of this sort anytime soon and labeling it ‘New Year Resolutions for the Year 20**’. Why? It’s just not my style. Don’t get me wrong, there’s stuff in my life I need to deal with, some have been around for way too long. Heck, one of the things I really need to work on is prioritizing and writing lists is one of the things I’m getting myself to doing to improve my time usage and become more efficient. But still, no list of new year resolutions for me, at least not now.

However, I choose to do something really close to that.

Yesterday, at 6pm, a post written by me went up on 19th street. Like many other young folk had done all December last year and the previous, I evaluated my year as a whole. Writing my review and later, reading others’ comments on it helped me realize two major things:

1. It helped to put my personal growth in perspective- the mistakes, the good choices, the milestones- thereby inspiring me to do better for myself in the following year. And…

2. I realized that it helped inspire other folk in the mistakes not to make and the choices that worked for me. Much like reading others’ posts during the period did for me.

Now, these further inspired me to do something much like what Efe did with that series on his blog: give other people an opportunity. Here, it would be the opportunity to put in writing their hopes, dreams, expectations and targets for the year 2013. How is this different from a list of new year resolutions, you ask?

Well, for the most part, it’s much larger than that. More often than not, a list of new year resolutions is supposed to be a motivation to self, with the only motivator being… again, self. And that’s why so many people fail at it, because when one can no longer motivate self, there’s no one else to turn and you need some external help sometimes when you’re trying to make drastic changes in your life. With this, folk will be ‘faithing’ it out by putting it out there for their friends and for you, to hold them to. Thus, holding themselves to a higher standard.

Also, this goes beyond just putting down goals and targets for the year in writing. Goals, targets and projects are the expectations one can logically make of oneself. This here, on the other hand, will include hopes and dreams; basically those expectations that are largely out of one’s hands/control and one can only hope and pray that (divine) favour comes their way, while putting in the attendant work and playing one’s own part as well of course. And this is why I’ve laid the emphasis on these expectations by titling this series 30 Days of Hope.

Which brings me to faith. Writing these out will be a small step of faith on the parts of all the entrants. Writing this, for most people, will be the first step (hopefully, of many) towards achieving the things they hope and aim for. It is taking these aspirations from their thought process, an intangible, abstract thing, and translating it into action, a tangible and concrete thing. It’s also a form of prayer. You’re telling the heavens (and the earth) that these are the things I want and I’m doing something about it, now please help me out here. Of course, it makes it even better if these people went the extra mile and actually, verbally prayed for/about these things, maybe involving their family and/or friends in the process *hint, hint*

And this brings me to the last reason why I (and by extension, the participants) will be doing this… To encourage others. There may be others going through the same issues one may be going through, by talking about and doing something about one’s issues, one also encourages others. Similar burdens may be shared, someone who has overcome the challenges you may be going through now may be led to encourage you and a stranger may just be inspired to say a prayer on your behalf. Of course, there’ll be the nay-sayers and the back biters. Let them talk. Their reactionary words hold no water to yours. You are the initiator, you have the upper-hand. Just as a precautionary measure however, comments throughout the run of the series will be moderated. This is no place for bile and bitterness, thank you very much. :p

So there we have it, the introduction to the 30 Days of Hope. Posts will go up daily at noon. If you’re not already subscribed, please do so as people will not be individually tagged on twitter (or elsewhere). Welcome to 30 Days of Hope and I wish you, my fellow Nostalgians a purposeful 2013, filled with much actualization and fulfillment. Go forth and prosper!

^_^

The Hum

I was featured on AfroSays about a year ago. Enjoy if you haven’t already…

*  *  *

We trudge forward. Billions-strong, we march. We don’t even see the road anymore, only the one in front of us, feeling only the push of the one behind us. We jostle on, jostled by the ones on either side and we jostle back. We cannot stop, we must not stop. The hum of our voice collective drowns out any other sounds we may have heard. We hear only each other. We hear only each other now.

We were not always like this. We used to soar the skies. But now… We hardly even look up there anymore. The hum is too loud. It is madness.

Stubs now poke out of our upper backs, from whence our wings once flourished. Winged ones still fly the skies we do not look up to. From their vantage point, they can see where they are headed, and where we are headed… Mostly. Sometimes. Every now and then, a winged one flies so close, always drawn in by the hum, so close that we can touch them. And we pluck them, drag them down and bite off their wings, leaving them in the dust that envelopes us. And we trample on in our exodus to nowhere, now even more populated and hating it.

The hum. The hum is everything. The hum would sometimes bring a winged one to alight on the ground a ways from us… And drive them so mad, like us, that they would twist and constrict on themselves and proceed to bite off their own wings. The act a grotesque beauty in itself. And they join us too.

We feed. Only on our stubs. The stubs, they grow back, and we feed on the one in front of us. As the one behind, feed on ours.

But a few of us walk backwards, eyes constantly on the still-winged ones in the skies above, and they thirst, and long, and wish, and hope, and desire. And in their longing and desiring, their wings flourish, and blossom, and sprout. And they may return to the skies from whence they came…

And the day comes when each one of us arrive at the precipice that we never saw approaching. The hum, now so loud, that it drowned out the screams, until we ourselves, on the edge, screamed too. And were only pushed forward by those behind, who knew not what lay ahead, except for the stubs they could see. The stubs on our backs that flapped desperately in their utter uselessness as we plunged to nothingness.

And high above us, the winged ones spread their beautiful plumes and soar on back into Eden.

#Sexual!

We live in a crazy world, don’t we?

Sometime last week, a video made the rounds on the Nigerian interwebs. It was an explicit video of a 14yr old girl and a 4yr old boy having sex. Yes, 4. Year. Old. Boy! If you never came across it, I can assure you it was the whole shebazz. The little boy had an erect phallus which he, without doubt, knew how to use and use it, he certainly did. He also used his fingers, his mouth, his tongue… Basically, he showed prowess. All the while accompanied by his ‘co-star’.

I gathered all this from watching about one-and-a-half minutes of the 10-minute-clip, as well as the comments that were shared on twitter. The outcry was frenzied and was largely that of disgust and disbelief. Especially as, according to the uploader, this occurred right here in Naija, somewhere in Warri, Delta state.

I read comments that decried those sharing the link as basically being child pornographers. Others said the girl in the video was a devil and a witch for her actions and a debate began on the role of househelps and the need or needlessness of their services (it is easy to assume from the video that the girl was a househelp and the boy, a ward placed in her care). Others were upset at the person(s) who had recorded such a video rather than scream at the two children to stop what they were doing and/or immediately report them to the boy’s parent(s).

I had my own reaction to the video and to the different reactions I saw but chose not to share at the time. To the video itself, I was stunned! Who wouldn’t be? I imagined a situation where I’d never seen or heard of the video and someone telling me a 4-yr-old boy could purposely engage in sexual intercourse and even have and maintain an erection and I know without a doubt that I would have vehemently argued the impossibility of it. To the heated comments, one of my first observations was that a lot of people jumped to conclusions. I will elaborate a little.

For those who berated those sharing the link for ‘aiding’ the spread of child pornography, I somewhat disagreed. First off, the video was not a professional one. The scene was a make-shift bathroom constructed basically of corrugated iron sheets and a few pakos used to hold it together. It was recorded very likely with a camera phone (the video was low-res and the camera moved around a lot) through a peep-hole. The girl kept glancing around furtively to make sure they were not found out. From all appearances, neither she nor the boy were aware they were being recorded. Secondly, while I would myself never have shared the video or its link, I see those that did as sharing something that, depending on who received it, could be educative or harmful.

As for those who thought that instead of recording a video, the person(s) behind the camera should have scared the children away and/or alerted (other) adults and parents, I’d like to play a little bit of ‘devil’s advocate’. I say first that one cannot jump to conclusions that they were adults or that scaring the kids away would have solved the problem considering they could just get down once again once they had the chance. For all we know, the video may have been used to confirm on-going suspicions some may have had and then to report the irrefutable evidence to the wards of the children. Also, at the end of the day, recording and sharing the video eventually served/serves a greater purpose: informing, alerting and educating those of us who would never have believed that such exists/existed without such evidence. I personally see this video surfacing as a learning opportunity.

As for those who believed the 14yr old was an evil, little girl, @gbemisoke, a mother of three and someone whose opinions and beliefs I have come to greatly value on my timeline and on her blog had the following to share and it resonated so well with me that I retweeted all of it and then sought her permission to share it in this blogpost. Please pardon any disjointedness. She wrote this in the form of many tweets, each of which had a 140 character limit. I chose not to edit so as not to detract from anything she said.

Her words:

Children have been molested, are being molested and will be molested. Sad, but it is what it is. It’s a vicious cycle. Today a victim, tomorrow a perpetrator. It’s sad, but it’s true. It’s a crazy world we live in.

I owe it to my children to protect them. I can’t be with them all the time, so what do I do? Bath time is one of my favorite teaching opportunities. I tell my 4yr old, this is your penis, it’s private, don’t let anyone touch it. If anyone touches your penis you do what? “Tell mummy” he replies. I’m also teaching him not to be a perpetrator. Don’t touch anyone’s penis. The other day, he asked me, “where’s Alexis’ penis?” Teaching opportunity. I told him she has a vagina. He says “bagyna” but he gets it. The other day he said “Mummy, Alexis “bagyna” is private”. I’m hoping that keeping the lines of communication open will protect my children. There are lots of messed up people. Many of them are victims of other messed up people.

The 14 year old girl is a victim. I feel sorry for her. She’s someone’s child. We can’t be with our children all the time but we can equip them with tools to protect them. Teach them, listen to them, pray. Watch and pray. Call body parts by their names. Penis. Vagina. Don’t teach children “willy willy” or “kini”. Let’s not confuse them. That way, when a child says “he touched my penis”, you know exactly what he’s talking about.

Abusers are often relatives. Don’t shush them. Answer their questions honestly. They know more than you think they do. I was reading the other day about a 6yr old that was already being labeled a sex offender. There’s a 9yr old on the sex offender registry. The idea that children can become “corrupt” when you teach them about sex or sexuality is why abuse often goes unreported. I’m not going to let the world teach my child it’s perverted version of the beautiful gift from God that sex really is. Sex is not “that dirty thing” or “iranu” like my people call it. It’s a precious gift from God that has been abused.

If the maids were the actual problem, child molestation would be non existent here. Let’s not ignore the real issue(s). The maid is NOT the problem. She’s a victim too. Who taught her? Have you not heard of fathers molesting their kids? Leave “Ekaette” alone. She is a victim turned perpetrator. A victim of our “my (sexual) needs can be met however I deem fit” world. Hypothetical scenario. Preteen maid is molested by son, she is a bad girl. Boy gets a free pass, cos “boys will be boys”. Girl goes on to molest toddler. She’s evil. Many of us know men who have molested their maids. My friend’s dad made three of their maids pregnant. We raise our sons to think they have no control over their sex drive. It’s ok for them to sow their wild oats. It’s complicated. The world is crazy.

I can’t change the world. I can only prayerfully attempt to bring up children that do not end up victims. Not just that, they will not be perpetrators too. So help me God. At the church parking lot the other day, I heard a grown man in his 40s tell 2 other men how his school mother raped him. They laughed. Abuse has happened, is happening and will happen. Social media just makes us all more aware. Let’s learn & take steps to protect our kids. No need to get sanctimonious.

And those are her thoughts. What are yours?

On Dating

So, some time ago, my friend, Ore and I had this discussion on relationships from which we decided to share some excerpts. Now, this is not relationship advice or anything of the sort. Just us sharing our views on the subject. Enjoy…

*     *     *     *     *

Ore: I was talking to my friend a while back about dating. She said she wasn’t dating now because she thought dating for longer than 6 months would inevitably lead to couples getting carried away or giving into temptation so unless she’s ready to marry, she’s chilling on her own for now. Just wanted to know what you thought of that.

Toxic: She’s right and she’s wrong.

She’s right on the issue of ‘dating’. The way I see it, a relationship with no long term goal of marriage is dating. One with a plan to marry is courting. I don’t believe in dating. Only courting. Once a couple is only dating and not courting, they’re more susceptible to temptation. Note that courting doesn’t mean they’re then free from temptation, just that the aim of the relationship is so different from dating that it’s harder to focus so much on sex and sexuality.

Where she’s wrong is that it’s got nothing to do with a time limit. Whether the it’s the 1st night or in 6 months, or even before the relationship starts at all; if it’s not a serious altar-bound relationship, it’s already bound to end up being about sex. Especially if it’s consensual. That whole “it’s for companionship” story is for preteens to use to fool themselves. Not honest adults. On the other hand, a couple can court for as long as 4yrs and keep themselves as long as they BOTH have the bigger picture in mind and are together agreed.

It’s really all about both their states of mind.

So even if she’s not ready to marry right away, if she meets a dude who will be ready in say 3yrs and she’s fine with that time frame and he also shares her values and beliefs, then going into a relationship with such a dude now should not be an issue.

In my opinion, she just thinks the busy preparation for a wedding will help her hold him off till after the wedding. But won’t they court (don’t want to use the word ‘date’) first before he is sure he wants to marry her and then proposes?

¯\..(•͡.̮ •͡ )../¯

Ore: Thanks, that all makes sense. I guess you’re right, it’s all about the difference between courting and dating. But don’t you kind of have to “date” before you begin your courtship? I mean, you don’t just meet a woman and think “yup, I could marry her” and then start courting, do you? If the aim of a courtship is ultimately to get married. Do you get what I mean?

Toxic: The answer (for me) is all yes. When I’m beginning to have feelings for a girl, I think “Could I marry her?” If the answer is then “Oh, I could marry her” then I might proceed with… If the answer however is “No”, I’m not going to even try to date, no matter how strong the feelings become.

Courting is generally seen as beginning from the engagement. I’m just saying that my personal PoV is when both parties have that mindset of “The intention here is for this to end in marriage”, even though a formal proposal hasn’t been made yet and they would say “We’re dating” (usually just for communication sake), then they’re really courting.

Dating, by general practice, is just so much less binding and trivializes the real intentions God had for romantic relationships.

Courting is a mindset, as is dating. Engagement is a status. Typically, people with a dating mindset go into relationships with a “This may not work out, so I must safeguard my own interests; just in case” whereas a courting mindset says “I plan for this to work out, so I’ll make whatever sacrifices I have to NOW so it does”. Basically courting entails foresight and planning ahead. Dating doesn’t.

My belief therefore is in…

Courting —> Engagement —> Marriage

As against…

Dating —> Engagement —> Marriage

Admittedly, a lucky few get to do…

Dating —> Courting —> Engagement —> Marriage

But why anyone would place the stakes of their heart on something with an obviously slimmer chance of success is beyond me.

Now, I’m not saying beginning with courtship is a guarantee for a relationship ending in marriage. Of course, it’s not as binding as marriage, so if either party decides they don’t think it’ll work, they have every right to skip. A good example is the genotype/sickle cell issue. Just saying that courting is a much better foundation for what would hopefully end up in marriage. The current divorce rates just show that, sadly, too many people go into marriage with a dating mentality and so when the going gets tough, the not-so-tough-afterall pack their bags and get going.

Sad really.

I choose to be different.

Ore: Well that makes sense. It still feels like a gamble. I mean, you can court and there’s still the risk that the other person may change their mind/have their feelings change and bail, but I guess that’s always a risk… One advantage I DO see to this your theory is that without sex, if things don’t work out, you’re not gonna feel like you lost out on too much; you’re less likely to feel used, which is a plus. But do you then DISCUSS marriage with someone when you first meet them?? Like isn’t that likely to freak them out and scare them off?? I’ve always thought you should ‘date’ (literally go out on formal dates e.g. Dinner, theatre, cinema, ice cream, whatever) someone for maybe a month, and then have a discussion, see if you enjoy each other’s company,and can see marriage (or some sort of future) as a possibility, and decide to “court”.

Toxic: Courting is definitely still a gamble. Just a safer, saner, more guaranteed ‘risk’ than dating.

As per beginnings though, I believe firmly in friendship first. It certainly isn’t easy but even up to when the feelings begin to stir, I try to keep things platonic. It’s how you truly get to know about the person and whether or not you want to progress to the next level of ‘risk taking’ ie hanging out, dates, dinners, etc. That way, you know what you’re really getting yourself into if/when you get to the point of asking or accepting to become mutually exclusive to each other.

At that platonic stage, I try to be honest and open on everything except my feelings (though more often than not, the darned feelings go and betray me before I even open my mouth *sigh*). Hopefully, she’s open and honest too. If we’re still interested in each other after this(assuming the interest was mutual in the first place) and haven’t learnt anything that puts a full stop to it all, it’s no longer as big a risk as when all we’re attracted to are the superficial things. It goes deeper.

PLUS, it saves everyone so much heart break!!

Again, there really is no generally acceptable time frame. All this can happen in 2wks or in 2yrs. All depends on the individuals involved.

*     *     *     *     *

So there you have it. Sorry if it sounded all matter-of-factish to you. We, err, had to remove all the juicy, more personal gist before posting. :p

So, what are your thoughts on all of this?

Good Ol’ Ego

So I wrote this as a contribution to the DateDays2 series which ran on @bule_jr’s blog not long ago. I wrote on theme of money in relationships and how it affects ego. Just thought to share with those who might have missed it while I work on other stuff to post here. Enjoy (if you haven’t yet)…

*     *     *

I’ve had the privilege of studying a great number of couples out on dates and it is undeniable the powerful effects money can have, positive and negative, on relationships.

Without doubt, one of the ways best favoured by people to bond with others is over a good meal and this, on a daily, brings a lot of clientele through the doors of the rather distinguished establishment in which I offer my services. I receive far more couples on dates than individuals and groups of people, day or night, and this has given me the opportunity to observe, to a great extent, couples out participating in the dating game.

Don’t get me wrong now, I’m not claiming to be an expert on such matters. Far from it, I’m just an observer who’s trying to learn from the experiences and mistakes of others before taking the plunge myself. Is this not wisdom? *wink*

Doing what I do requires me to know a few of my costumers really well. A few of them have me really intrigued to the point that in relating with them during the course of business, we begin to relate on a bit more of a personal level. Let me introduce one family I have come to respect and love to you.

The Owolabis come in regularly. They are accustomed to living affluently and coming to a classy restaurant is pretty normal to them. Practically the whole family comes in, individually or collectively, at different intervals during any given week.

Chief and Dr Mrs come in to dinner as a couple at least once a month. Things weren’t always this way though. They started small and humble and worked hard to build the empire they presently control. Dr Mrs once regaled me with the tale, to chief’s embarrasment, of how in their youth, before they were married, he would take her on only cheap dates. She recounted how the park not far from the London apartment she shared with coursemates was his favourite spot for dates because, as a foreign student on scholarship, he couldn’t afford to take her anywhere remotely fancy; and how he would slave over home-made sandwiches and freshly squeezed orange juice or the likes for their refreshment as they picnicked; and how she would make them walk to and from the park because she knew he really couldn’t afford the cab-fare he kept trying to insist they took, all in the name of chivalry. She stuck with him through the early days and now (she would gesture to the grandness around her), just look at the grand way they live.

Now, this would ordinarily be quite an inspiration to me, to work hard, make something of my life and the good things would then come. But all I felt was a strange mixture of respect and pity for her.

Respect, because the come-uppance Chief and Dr Mrs had experienced would solidify the love the wife had for her husband, but pity, because it had only turned the man into the weaker vessel, eroding the initial connection felt towards wife by him.

Coming into wealth he had never been exposed to previously only opened Kashimawo Owolabi’s eyes to the finer things he could have now that he could never have had back then. Things he is determined to now enjoy despite being advanced in years. He rolls around in heavy socialite circles, not for business, but just for the fun of it. Rides in fast and exotic cars that his son should be ridding himself of now. And beds some of the hottest women I have ever… or will ever lay my eyes upon. I can picture that in his mind, his wealth has given him access to the women he would have even been too ashamed to say a simple “hello” to in the days of his youth. He would sometimes bring these women to Greene’s to wine and dine them before heading on to the Five Corner’s down the street, obviously to get his money’s worth in kind.

Further contribution to the pity I have for Dr Mrs are her offspring. They had been born into their parents’ rise into the upper echelon and the wealth would come to greatly affect their outlook on life in general and dating and relationships in particular.

Kudirat, the first child, much like her siblings, had always gotten everything she wanted growing up. Problem here is, she wants everything else! Having acquired a ravenous sexual appetite far exceeding her father’s, she has brought every class of men imaginable to the restaurant. I have seen Kudi, in the stoking of imminent passion, dine government officials, captains of industries and even royalty and at other times, seductively wine homeless men, her own driver and much to my pleasure then and shame now, even the young manager of Greene’s, my humble self. (*-_-)

Kashimawo Jr (Kash Jr to his friends), the only son, in getting everything he wanted, had discovered his own peculiar tastes and then stuck to them. Or better put, stuck to him. I do not believe I have ever seen Kash at dinner here alone with another individual besides Karimu Owolafe. Kash and Kari, to Dr Mrs Owolabi, are just the best of friends, despite Kari’s very humble backgrounds. However, thanks solely to Kash’s influences and access to wealth, they have gone everywhere and done everything together. Emphasis on ‘did‘, ‘every‘ and ‘thing‘ and may I add ‘each other‘? I shall now leave the rest to your perverted imagination. (-_-)

Monie, the baby of the house, seems to be the only one who aspires to live a responsible social life. Oh, I’m sorry, scratch the ‘social’ there. Moni, after all, lacks any semblance of a social life. Always the wise, introspective and perceptive one, seeing the paths her siblings had chosen to take in their dating lives and recognizing the attendant pitfalls, she made her mind up early that she would not fall prey to any gold-digger types, temporarily or permanently, and as such, set her standards high. This one has high tastes. Very exquisite tastes. So exquisite, that I doubt any living person can satisfy them. I have never seen her on a date, here in her favourite restaurant, with another actual person. I’ll admit though, I Have seen her on several dates here, I just haven’t ever been able to see her date. The waiters always remain weirded out when they have to serve two places at her table and she is talking to and laughing with someone in the opposite chair they can’t hear or see. I’ve actually heard them in the back room arguing over whose turn it was to suffer the ordeal of attending her table.

So sad. *smh*

Whenever, I remember the Owolabis in general, I feel a little sadness for the Dr Mrs. Especially after all the sacrifices she made for her family.

Oh, did I forget to mention those sacrifices earlier? Well, my apologies.

Ms Ego Oputachi, while on an advanced medical program at Oxford University sometime in the 70s, would meet and fall in love with an engineering student with a rugged demeanor and a bright outlook on life. Recognising this moslem yoruba boy’s prospects and his immense love for her, she would ignore her very tribalistic father’s threats of denouncing her as his daughter, thereby severing all ties with the wealthy background rife with highly placed connections from which she comes to marry him. Only through much toiling and fighting together against all the odds would Mr and Mrs Owolabi of back then become the influential figures they are now.

In other words, it would appear it is as possible for money not to positively affect the ego of a couple trying their hand at the dating game as it is to negatively affect either or both individuals.

*sigh*

Personally, I don’t need whoever I eventually end up with to be rich or highly connected. I just need her to truly believe in me and I’ll bring whatever she believes to life. I just want to find me my own Ego to boost my deflating ego.

How big is your ego?

*     *     *

You may see the original post and the feedback it received here