Monday, December 8, 2008

My Favourite Things a.k.a Christmas wish List (Part 1)

Calling all Santa's helpers and humanitarians, here's an abridged version of my wishlist:

1. Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama (autographed copy would be a plus)
2. A dress from House of Dereon
3. An iPod touch (pls don't ask about the other one)
4. Delicious Night fragrance from DKNY
5. A box of Godiva
6. A Sony digital camera (let's start from 10MegaPixels)
7. These cuties from Baby Phat
8. Those "pieces of art" from Christian Louboutin

...Why don't you start working on this very modest list while I work on the updated version? Fundraisers might be helpful but I'm sure its unnecessary for people of your calibre. And don't worry if you don't meet the Christmas deadline, late entries would be totally pardoned.


Yours Gleefully,
Brown Sugar.




Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Dream


"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languish in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land So we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our Nation's Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for white only."

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of your trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality.

You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up... live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will they be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tenneessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside.

Let freedom ring,

And when this happens,and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."


"I Have a Dream" Speech
Aug. 28, 1963

This goes out to every Black hero in history: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jnr., Richard Allen, Hank Aaron, Langston Hughes, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Sojourner Truth, Jesse Owens
and every activist and civil rights movements leader.

Barrack Obama is the dream.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poetically Sugary

To:
Brown Sugar

B reathe your magic
R uffle my heart
O pen my mind
W hisper in my ear
N ext to my heart

S how me a path
U nknown till now
G ive me a new life
A llow me a taste of
R eal Brown Sugar…

From:
Poetically tinted

Now ain't this poetically sugary? Thanx a lot Lady.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Generation Y

Found this piece of info on Wikipedia and thought it was interesting as well as true.
Generation Y, sometimes referred to as "Millennials, "Echo Boomers", or jokingly as "Generation Why?", refers to the cohort of individuals born, roughly, between 1981 and 1994
Generation Y is the generation following Generation X from 1980 (Millenials) to roughly 1994. The generation is also alternatively defined as the children of the Baby Boomer generation. A majority opinion begins Generation Z around 1996.
Generation Y, like other generations, was shaped by the events, leaders, developments and trends of its time. Generation Y grew up during the economic high of the dot com bubble during the late 1990s, which created a tremendous budget surplus, and witnessed that peace and prosperity shatter with the 9/11 attacks of 2001. They have witnessed the United States decline in global standing during the 2000s due to two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rise of instant communication technologies made possible through use of the internet, such as email, texting, and IM and new media used through websites like YouTube and social networking sites, may explain Generation Y's reputation for being peer oriented and for seeking instant gratification. The period of unprecedented prosperity in U.S. history during which they grew up in during the 1990s perhaps shaped their values, explaining Generation Y's reputation for being status seekers and "all about me", somewhat similar to the Baby Boomer ethos. This trend of communication is continuing into Generation Z. (None of these statements achieve a level of unbiased evaluation. This trend actually defies laws of evolution and comes back in style with members of Generation X as they gain both wealth and greed.)
In their recent book, Connecting to the Net.Generation: What Higher Education Professionals Need to Know About Today's Students, Reynol Junco and Jeanna Mastrodicasa found that in a survey of 7,705 college students in the US:
  • 97% own a computer
  • 97% have downloaded music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
  • 94% own a cell phone
  • 76% use instant messaging and social networking sites
  • 75% of college students have a Facebook account[17]
  • 60% own some type of portable music and/or video device such as an iPod
  • 49% regularly download music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
  • 34% use websites as their primary source of news
  • 28% author a blog and 44% read blogs
  • 15% of IM users are logged on 24 hours a day/7 days a week
Other Names
  • "Backpack generation"
  • "iGeneration"
  • "Youtube Generation" or "Facebook generation"
I'm coming up with my version of Nigeria's Generation Y.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Retro, Pro and postcards

In the last twenty four hours, I have
  1. Been under the knife (surgery ... no, not cosmetic), and as a result
  2. Adhered to medical advice, lazed the day away and didn't step out of my house, and as a result
  3. Sorted my thoughts, my laundry and
  4. Blogtrotted and
  5. Completed a season of HOUSE (the coolest TV series and medical drama EVER)
  6. Misplaced Biola's 'iPhone savings': $300 (ah! it must show up o)
Okay! Months of internship have finally come to an end and I give God all the glory. I've had a crazy blend of opportunities, growing pains, fun, tests, lessons, trips, favour, salaries, technologies (a new phone and an iPod Touch ;) and an unending list of events. I've acquired new values, entered new friendships, accepted new challenges, achieved new levels ... found new music. This period also hosted my most active blogging sessions with Blogville Idols as the highlight. Thankfully I was never caught blogging and blogtrotting at work and contrarily received some laudable recommendations at the end of my term ;) Was a great experience that has left me different (even I noticed it when I found out that I had added TELL magazine to my weekly subscriptions.) And with this, I'm ready and heading for my life's next scene:

500 Level a.k.a Final year!

Looking back with satisfaction, upward with gratitude and forward with faith. In summary, this means that my not-so-frequent blogging habit is expected to deteriorate drastically over the next ten months. This is the part where Brown "Miss Balance" Sugar takes a bow. Will send postcards from Academia!

xxx
Brown Sugar.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sibling rivalry!

broth·er [brúthər]
noun
male sibling: a boy or man who has the same father and mother as another person.

Being a female in the engineering department/sector means a lot of things to me. For the sake of this post, I’ll limit it to just the fact that it means brothers and brovaz are plain homonyms and at the same time, antonyms. My mother gave birth to you makes you my brother and I've three of those. On the other hand, I go to school with an army of these martians :). So being my brova means we've moved from coursemates to acquaintances to friends and then you went the EXTRA mile to be brova-certified: tested and trusted, thereby knowingly skipping a very sensitive tier called "lovers." i.e. Plus, my biological mum now knows you because you visit my house and I can't exclude your name from my regular conversations.

Now having five brovaz means:

  1. Being a footie 'freak' as I may soon be dedicating a section of my wardrobe to footie jerseys of different clubs and colours, numbers and names like, “Tobi”, “Ugo”, “Uche”, “Kene”. Hold that thought! I'm not a tomboy, never have been and never will be. Why would I want to do that to my gbono feli life as a lady in the 21st century? And no, I still haven't picked MY club yet.
  2. My days of roasting on Valz day are OVER. At least, unofficially. I get my share out of theirs plus they go out of their way to val me :) Does it matter that I don't have a boyfriend at the moment? By the way my brovaz keep threatening to screen all my chykers. Newaiz, I have a major say in their relationships too so there's a lot of fairness.
  3. Girlfriends and aspirants (are advised to) hook up with me for the extras. Does the movie Brown Sugar with Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan ring a bell? Don't get the wrong idea, people. lol!

Right now I have a lot on my plate since I met a bosom friend of my brovaz. They attended the same secondary school, were members of a clique and their parents knew each other. Uni came and some of them parted ways, went to other countries and a handful met again in the same Uni that I attend. He goes to a different Uni but still stays in close contact with the rest of the group. As a matter of fact, I knew of him because my brovaz talked about him a lot. He's like my brovaz' brova. So we all spent some time together hanging out. Eventually he and I got talking and he commented that he loved the relationship I had with my brovaz i.e. his friends and he eventually told me he wanted friends ... and had no plans to become or end up as a brova. No skipping of sensitive tiers this time. lol! Guess what:

MY BROVAZ ARE TOTALLY AGAINST ANYTHING BETWEEN US!

It's no longer news that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, as told us by John Gray and this Venusian is almost beside herself trying to figure out why, despite the fact that I have my opinions about him, these friends won't let me hook up with their friend or vice versa. One would have even thought they'd be ecstatic about it. I asked one of them and the only part of his reply that made sense to me was a SMILE! I've come to trust these guys over time and I value their judgment. And by the way I would hate anything or person to come between us.

What do you think? What would you do?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Awarded!


Wow! I just received an honorary Blogville award from Funkola!
If there's any award I've dreamt of receiving, it's the "Use your life" award. So for one moment, I'm going to close my eyes and imagine (or more like dream) that I'm a receipient of the prestigious award. lol! Okay, so I'm passing the baton to:





Rules:
I don't know what the rules apart from having to spread the love to at least 7 other bloggers (have to put up a post and show off the award). I'm creating the rule of receiving your favourite award. CONGRATULATIONS Bloggers!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Interview with Brown Sugar!

I got this from Tosyn SPEECHgirl Bucknor's blog. Thought it was tres cool and decided to "photocopy".


1.What time did you get up this morning?

6: 15 a.m.


2. Diamonds or pearls?

A girl's best friend -Diamonds.


3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

Been a while since I was there- Mad money


4. What is your favorite TV show?

Oprah!!!!


5. What did you have for breakfast?

Cereal: Cornflakes


6. What is your middle name?

Amoge (I didn't say Omoge o!)


7. What is your favorite cuisine/meal?

Salads (when I'm thinking).


8.What foods do you dislike?

Ogbono soup (not even Mama's homemade)

9. Speechgirl didn't have a question 9!

10. What is your favorite CD at the moment?

Been doing a lot of singles lately, haven't picked up any albums in a while.

-Naija sturvs sha.


11. What kind of car do you drive?

Just gimme a while. I'll get there soon.


12. Favorite sandwich?

Ham


13. What characteristics do you despise?

In what or who? Absence of confidence in a guy, among others like dishonesty.


14. Favorite item of clothing?

Dresses n gowns


15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

From the top of the page/list: Atlanta, Malibu, ...


16. What color is your bathroom?

White


17. Favorite brand of clothing?

Zara


18. Where would you want to retire?

Naija


19. Favorite time of day?

Wee hours


20. Where were you born?

St. Anne's hospital, Lagos.


21. Favorite sport(s) to watch?

I just liked to watch fresh basketballers like Kobe, Shaq, Garnett ... I Love This Game! But thanx to my bullying kid brova, i now do soccer.


22. Who do you least expect to respond to this?
Dammy


23. Person you expect to respond first?

Jolaade?


24. What laundry scent do you use?

What scents are Ariel and B29?


25. Coke or Pepsi?

Neither, fruit juice please.


26. Are you a morning person or night owl?

Nocturnal. lol!


27. What size shoe do you wear?

US 9 - 9 1/2


28. Do you have pets?

2 rottweilers (in Abuja), 3 German shepherds (in Enugu), 1 monkey called "Fine Boy". Seriously. Lost 2 white fluffy (keep forgetting the breed) dogs (in Lagos)


29. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with everyone?
Every time I try to spend my money, someone shows up and pays!

30. What did you want to be when you were little?

A journalist and I had my own magazine and book club in Primary 4. Oh well, I'm on the road to becoming an engineer now!


31.Favorite Candy Bar?

Twix and Malteasers


32. What is your best childhood memory?

Converting 20 leaves apex mill exercise books into magazines and story books


33. What are the different jobs you have had in your life?

writer, graphics designer



35.Nicknames:

Omoge, Moe, Sugar ... my aunt used to call me "Madam Sebuka" (Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett's character, i think)


36. Piercings?

Ears.


37. Eye color?

Brown.


38a) Ever been to Africa?

NEXT!!!


38b) Ever been to South Australia?

Not yet, but Oprah said the law of attraction ...


39. Ever been toilet papering or rolling?

Don't geddit.


40. Love someone so much it made you cry?

Wow dat's deep. No. I guess I haven't found true love yet!


41. Been in a car accident?

No, gratefully.


42. Croutons or bacon bits?

Bacon


43.Favorite day of the week?

Saturdays: 'Me' finally comes alive.


44. Favorite restaurant?

Home or Barcelos (like the pizza)


45. Favorite flower?

White roses!!! Got them from my prom date!!!


46. Favorite ice cream?

Tiramisu


47. How many times did you fail your driver's test?

Yet to be taken


48. What color is your bedroom carpet?

Brown.


49. How many times did you fail your driver's test?

See #47


50. Before this one, from whom did you get your last email?

Ladun

51. Which stores would you choose to max out your credit card?

Zara.


52. What do you do most often when you are bored?

Write, facebook ... NEVER use my phone.


53. Bedtime?

3: 15 a. m.


54. Who are you most curious about their responses to this questionnaire?

Maybe Temi cuz it'll definitely be hilarious.


55. Last person you went to dinner with?

It was a group!

56. What are you listening to right now?

Screaming boss' phone conversation


57. What is your favorite color?

Brown


58. Lake, Ocean or river?

Can't know what I haven't experienced, can I?


59. How many tattoos do you have?

Zero


60. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The chicken.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

Just found this thought-provoking piece of inspiration on Funmi Iyanda's blog and had no option but to save myelf a copy, not intending to blog but so that I could go over it as many times as possible as she suggested.


The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination
J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series,
delivers her Commencement Address, "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and
the Importance of Imagination," at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard
Alumni Association.


President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of
Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.

The first thing I would like to say is 'thank you.' Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I've experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world's best-educated Harry Potter convention.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can't remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the 'gay wizard' joke, I've still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.
I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents' car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations,and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person's idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International's headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country's regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's minds, imagine themselves into other people's places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people's lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children's godparents, the people to whom I've been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I've used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I wish you all very good lives.
Thank you very much.

Happy new year!
BrownSugar.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My tale of two cities


Impressions of a place are about comparisons, surprises as they contrast with expectations, things that impress us and yet also the daily interactions and familiarities that turn a place into one's home. I love living in the FCT and having relocated (at least for now) from Lagos, it's only normal to make comparisons between the two cities. I've been looking out for similarities and so far I've found a few.
  • You know the way the police guys shamelessy, no proudly collect the 20 bucks from the bus drivers. Nope! Haven't seen that around here (On second thoughts, maybe it's more on a professional level ... in offices, with cheques, with contracts)
  • You know the way you just see mad people strutting around town and everybody just walks past like they are normal pedestrians like you. Nope!
  • There's just one beggar on the road from my residence to my place of work in Garki. For someone like me who has lived all her life in Lagos excluding a few months away, you'll admit that this is strange. My mind just drifted towards that trailer-crammed Apapa route.
  • I have never, I mean NEVER ever been stuck in traffic (Okay to be honest, I'm aware you have to watch the time these days. and that means no excuse for lateness anymore.) Queues build up but nothing extraordinary (except of course in times of the fuel scarcity) and besides, the traffic lights are functional. Again Think Apapa.
I admit that these are really random (understatement police!) contrasts but isn't that what endears you the most to anything? The littlest things, right? When I moved to Abuja, I almost fell ill in the first week. The city stank of sloth and inactivity. For a whole week, my body woke up at 5: 00 a.m. already programmed to rush. Well, I learnt my lesson after I became the joke at home and was tagged "hustler." The good side was that I was recommended at work ;) After a while I relaxed and took it for granted and literally forced another ninety minutes into my snooze schedule. A li'l sleep, a li'l slumber ... never hurt nobody! Another time, I needed to buy a notebook and pen and was told that I had to go i.e. be driven all the way to the plaza, supermarket or the central Wuse market. Kai! I remembered Lag once more, where my next door neighbour runs a jack-of-all-trades chemist: Toiletries, recharge cards, bathroom slippers, stationeries, chin-chin.. Obioma nko? You couldn't miss the sound of the tailor's scissors hitting his shoulder-borne machine, or is it the sound of the vendors' horn that would wake me from my post-service siesta to get my Sunday ThisDay newspaper? In fact I even still have some change left with the aboki down the street that recaps my heels. Asking for directions in this city is not even advisable because it appears everybody just moved in too. You are almost sure to get an "I don't know", unlike Lagos where that reply would be a sin. Even the JJC that landed yesterday knows the way. As for finding boli (roasted plantain), it's a long forgotten now broken dream!

I had to go return to Lagos for a week and boy, I was battling with mixed feelings. First things, the sight of okadas, the yellows and blacks (buses and cabs) and the uniformed Owo da brought a smile to my face. It seemed everything was singing the line from Naeto-C's Kini Big deal that says, "One more thing: This is Las Gidi!" Didn't know I'd been gone for so long. Next, I was stuck in Apapa on my way from Victoria Island to Festac for THREE HOURS, not including the hour I spent on the island itself. Of course I got home with different kinds of aches. If I could describe Lagos in one word, I'd choose TOXIC but ... the kind of toxic addiction that eats deep into one's bloodstream and keeps you wanting to go back. Someone called it a strange romance and I couldn't agree more.

Nigerians, Lagosians, Abujans (or what are we called), what do you think? Got any experiences?

PHOTO CREDITS: ME and my camera!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Culture shock: Switching planes

For some time, I have kept a list of lifetime 'must-visits' which I keep updating periodically and last month, an opportunity to acheive one gracefully presented itself (it's the law of attraction, ask Oprah) in form of work (a course) but who cares as long as it didn't stop me from being a tourist! One lifelong dream fulfilled: visiting France!
Well, well, well! There are no rumours about France. If you ever heard, read and/or saw anything on TV about France, guess what! It's totally true! Paris truly is a city of life, lights and love and Lille was very homely. I was ecstatic when I heard Asa's "fire on the mountain" being played time and again in the stores. Although my schedule blatantly refused to accomodate leisure trips and I didn't get to experience much of the nightlife, the Roubaix d'Espaces and Gare Lille Flandres sights were ravishingly picturesque. Sadly, my innerchild still remains deprived of the Disneyland, Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe visits but the lady within was duly compensated with some groovy shopping!

If anything wore me out the most, apart from the oxymoron of having a freezing summer and having to mentally flip through the pages of my France Afrique textbook in a bid to communicate with attendants, it was the food. The food didn't go down well with my Naija appetite and I couldn't have been happier to find solace in burgers and Chinese restaurants.

One of the things I had known about Paris was that it's THE city of Love. I wasn't disappointed. I couldn't help wondering what would happen when Valentine's day came because it was just mid-July and there was so much love in the air, on the streets, on the train, at the mall, in the restaurants and eventually at the airport. And when the French kiss, it's a French kiss! lol! One of my colleagues who travelled with me felt the French are/were indecent for their public display of intimacy and she voiced her thoughts. I thought it was rather cute though and went on to say, "At least, they are not hypocrites." I know she secretly wished she had made the trip with her significant other!

Sadly and gladly, we concluded our program and it was time to return home. Charles de Gaulle airport was the last venue and scene of such display of affection and then we headed for Lagos.
My final destination was Abuja and so I had one more domestic flight to board. Virgin Nigeria did us strong tin that day as the flight was scheduled for 6.30 p.m and we arrived Abuja at 10.17 p.m (I choose to spare you the gory details for now). Seated by the window, a young couple shortly occupied the seats beside me. The lights were turned off and this Paris-influenced sucker for romance turned eagerly to the couple, secretly hoping for one more romantic scene. I even smiled when the lady began resting her head on the guy's shoulders and their hands found each other. "Awwww!" About eight minutes later, the plane was lit so as to enable the flight attendants serve the meal and VOILA! the speed with which the guy pulled his hand away from hers was alarming. The lady clearly felt awkward with her head still on his shoulders and sat up in her seat. Never had swallowing giggles been any harder for me. Kai!! Naija! So much for love, eh?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Memory lane: Sax.

10:05 PM 11/8/2008

Freshman year 2004.

First it was Paul and Bayo and at the same time Ladun and Vicki.
And then Bayo, Ladun, Vicki and Paul.
And then Vicki and Paul.
They had more similar interests apart from taking the same major.
He played the sax in the choir, and she was an usher.
He was daring, too sure, strong willed, too playful, silly, too smart, annoying ... dang! You were annoying!
But it makes her heart smile now because he always knew when he had misbehaved
And he knew how to retrace his steps and make amends.
Back at her home almost everybody knew (of) him
It seemed to folk at school like they were involved
The questions, the stares ... Who would blame them?
But they both knew better and had deeper.
Deep enough to make any potential partner green with envy!
It was genuine giving as it was just so natural for both to give each other
To the point where they formed a bond too strong.
He just had your way of making her bare all: plans, thoughts, fears.
He would 'brag' publicly that he was 'the one person and guy who really knew Vicki.
Then they would exchange roles when she gave him that glare to make him start 'confessing.'
His past, his present and his hopes for the future.
Vicki knew Paul, like the back of her favourite hand.

Sophomore year 2005
Both would take turns to exchange views, listen and advice each other.
He was in the habit of skipping classes and would cheekily show up after a while, too sure that she had saved him the lecture notes.
And he was always right.
As time went on, they didn't even need to talk as much.
Friendship became clairvoyant.
In just a year and a half, it felt like they had been childhood friends.
Too good to be true.
And then it happened.

March 18 2006. They had a major misunderstanding between them that did much damage.
Even malice? Paul and Vicki?
And in her rage Vicki discarded every potential memento she should have kept.
His letters, his notes, his texts. what a shame.

Third year 2006
They eventually reconciled but nothing was the same.
They had drifted too far apart.
Nevertheless they kept things friendly and eventually made new friends.
And they would keep accusing each other jokingly but with a mutual understanding.

Fourth year 2007
She resumed on September 10 2007 fresh from the summer holidays.
There was a lot of excitement in the air, noise, laughter, hugs.
She even had with a new haircut!
And then came crashing news: Car, run over, school ... senseless bits.
Paul was dead.
Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and it's been 336 days of total silence.
Silent tears, unended conversations, unexecuted plans.
It keeps dawning on her, still not fully but in bits that he truly is gone.
Some sort of denial. She only rarely talks about it with a few friends, in prayers, in conversations.
Now and again, she finds herself wondering but she still can't admit it to herself.

Today I sit here as my heart and my mind just connect with my fingers in an uncanny unison transforming my thoughts to words.
I hear a lovely sound from a saxophone and my mind is going, "Those instrumentals would have got Paul's attention."
I see new gadgets and I'm like, "Paul wudda had one of these ... AGES AGO!"
Final year is just at the corner
And again, you are not.

I am slowly coming to terms with your death, and those words stung my soul as I released them.
Time and again, I read your emails (awash with joy I kept them)
Ah! You were not around long enough to feel this SIWES/Facebook fever (hmm! did u just say u don't have time for that?)
I would have forced you, duh!
Before I go on imagining what would have been, I'll let go and be grateful for what was. And what has become.

Paul Adegboyega Obayomi,
you were an inspiration, you were a driving force.
Your focus and your dedication were second to none.
You were a standard! You had it all (you wish, short man!)
You were here for a reason and sadly, a season. I would be greedy if I wished you were here for a lifetime.
But in your short lifetime, in our brief meeting you touched and taught me so much.
I'm eternally grateful that our paths did cross.



I miss you Sax.
Vicki.
12:33 AM 12/8/2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Phase Citizen: Encounter with the Nigerian Police Force

Still part of the notorious "Server is Down series." Posting titles gives me a sense of urgency and makes me return to blogging.
Post coming up soon. Please bear with us.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When tears drop and hearts break

There's no telling how sad I am right now.
Just logged in to the Blogville Idol site to find a red cross on my picture.
*Sigh! It's all over!
Just when I was having so much fun
Yours truly has finally been evicted from the BBH!

Oh well, it's not so much about making and giving excuses even though valid.
I would have still left sooner or later.
To everyone that voted, mighty thanxxx and sorry if I disappointed you.
And to the finalists, here's wishing you success!

Ciao!

Brown Sugar.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Blogville Idol '08: Searching for a Wazobian crooner!

I usually don't do this, but I'm watching myself turn this blog into my journal, at least for this period that Blogville Idol is on. (I still keep a traditional notebook journal where I put pen to paper every other day. Old skool, I know!)
Phew! One down (thanks voters). Thinking of what Nigerian song to sing, hoping I scale the first eviction. I have a list of favourites at the moment that I LISTEN to. Like Asa. Neaaah! Those shoes are toooo big for me. I better get comfy in my bathroom slippers. The other musicians I'm loving are on another frequency, don't think they'd fit. Like Rooftop MCs (rap), 9ice... Where would I start to sing Gbono Fele, which has become my ringtone? Hmmmm! I need a crooner with minimal complicated Wazobian lyrics!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Six, Seven, Eight!

... SInce I like to play with words., I just thought today's date is significant. 6th of July 2008 makes Six Seven Eight... 6 7 8. Lay them straight ... Oh dear! I'm out!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Blogville Idol ... the Journey so far

The Blogville contest is just around the corner and I don't even know what to expect anymore. Sent my "demo" yesterday, was pretty scared initially. Scared of being judged, literally. But i've had to keep reminding myself why I entered in the first place. "Cuz I want to do something I've never done before!" I'm happy, I'm scared, I'm freaked out, I'm calm, I'm nervous, I'm excited ... all in the affirmative anyways.

Like I said in Unbiased's blog, it sure feels like we are contestants in the Big Brother House. Blogville is watching!!! Or rather, listening. Was at Dammy's and I just threw my hands in the air when my almost paranoid self heard the Boyz II Men track playing from his playlist! Lol! And that's the part I like the most about reality shows. The bonding! Friends become foes, foes become close ... It's like some unwritten law. So here we are checking each other out, sending shout outs ... Ain't that cute?!

Alright, I dedicate this post to my fellow Blogville Idol contestants ... class of 2008. We made it! And to everybody that has shown some love checking and cheering, much appreciated!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Phase Citizen: The server is down: Chapter 1 (continued)

So I return as instructed to the passport office the following day, and proceed to the CSI's office. Once again, he is absent and so I speak to his colleague, Mr. *Ogunbiyi who has been present during my previous visits. We exchange pleasantries and he offers me a seat, which I decline.

Impatient me: "I'm here to get the passport."
Mr. Ogunbiyi: avoiding my gaze, " which passport again? Musa is not around so you will have to fill this form ...". He makes to open his drawer.
Me: Trying to be calm with the old man, "No, no, no! I already did all that. Mr. Musa asked me to pick up today. You even gave me the collection slip."
Mr. Ogunbiyi: unable to deny his own signature, "Okay, wait for me." He steps out.

Eighteen minutes later, another man surfaces. He's a lot younger and very scruffy looking, holding something wrapped in a newspaper. He begins unwrapping, pulls out the passport and peeks at the identity page. I notice he has a stunted right pinky!

Scruff: Looking up at me, "Are you Brown Sugar?"
Me: extending my hand, "Yes, thank you."
Scruff: "Thank you ke? You know what I went through to bring it for you? My oga nearly catch me. "
Me: "What??"
Scruff: "I say no be only thank you I go chop ah!"

Just then Mr. Ogunbiyi steps in, and Scruff quickly hands the passport over and leaves. I thank the old man and take my leave. Phew! Just as I step out of the building, my phone rings.

Caller: "Is this Brown Sugar?"
Me: "Yes?"
Caller: "It's *Dele, the person that signed your guarantor form. I was wondering if I could get to know you ..."

JESUS TAKE THE WHEEEEEEEL!

Chapter 2: Encounter with the Nigerian Police Force.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Phase Dreamer: Family and I, June 4, 2020:

Was on my way to the publishing house at midday when I remembered it was Demide’s Speech and prize giving day service at school today. As though by default, I began mentally rehearsing a most cute pleading phrase and promise, about it being the last time I was going to recede on our schedule and… uh oh! That wasn’t going to work. At least not today when Hun’ was aboard the Boeing 747 on a business trip to Silicon Valley. Plan B would have to fall between asking Oluchi to return the favor I bestowed during the last Open day and being there in person. Well, I decided to appreciate of the blessing of self-employment, slip out of my Chief Executive heels for a moment and just be my children’s mother.
The traffic was light and I arrived at the school’s premise just in time to meet the Chairman’s speech. Goodness! How time flies. I remembered sitting on the courts as an alto singer of the most prestigious Mr. Bamfo’s choir, with Kanayo, Bisola and Fioye on days like this in our white shirts, black skirts and bow ties! To think that I was seated here today as a parent in my own alma mater got me emotional and I quietly mopped my eye. Things were a lot different now. New faces, new people, in fact the choristers were dressed in robes … so typical of life. Thoughts of Hun’ crossed my mind and left me wondering what he was doing at the moment. It was 2: 00 pm; he was definitely reading one of his books and having a drink, most likely his favorite: pineapple. Always so predictable. And then, it came. One of those telepathic moments passed between us and I blew him a kiss in absentia. Those moments had always existed every time we were physically separated over distances right from the very first time. It was only two months after our wedding and I had to be at the publishing house in Johannesburg. I had done my possible best to delegate the responsibility to my assistant, but things got very urgent and required my very presence. I could never forget the look on his face when I put my luggage in his trunk that morning. “But it’s only going to last three days and I’ll be back here before you could even blink.” I said to him. “The worst three days of my life, and it already feels like three decades. Sweets, you know I’m desperately going to miss you and…”, “Come on, Hun’ let’s not do this again. I promise you I’ll be home before you know it and all yours again. But right now, I have to be on that plane so I’d come home to you wearing the fragrance of success and Allure”, and with that planted a kiss on his lips. I was in for another brief round of kiss-planting and cajoling at the airport before I boarded the plane. He looked so boyishly cute in his green v-neck and brown khakis, sulking and rubbing his head like he did when he hit a brick wall. My Hunny Bun, I missed him already and tried to hold back tears for a while and finally let them flow freely as I looked out the aircraft window.
It took an ovation to jerk me to the present and there was our baby girl, Ademide walking up to claim her award for Chief Opral Benson’s prize for the IYA OGE category. I proudly walked up to the podium, close enough to capture the moment with my camera as she picked up her plaque and certificate. The ceremony was really beautiful and refreshing and I was glad I hadn’t missed it for the world. At the end of the event, Ademide ran up to me with a number of friends, some of which I recognized as award winners too. I met a number of their parents, exchanged pleasantries as well as complimentaries and with that headed to pick Derin from his school and to fulfill the first phase of my promise to ‘Demide at her favorite eatery.

24 December 2007.

Monday, June 30, 2008

BLOGVILLE IDOL '08!


Hey Y'all!
Your very own Brown Sugar has been selected as a contestant for the Blogville Idol '08. Smells like fun and I need all your love and support. So please keep tabs on me and vote when it's time to, aight?!

Mmmmmwah!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Server is Down (Series): Chapter 1

Immigrations/Passport control office

I'm at the passport control office to get the new e-passport. Prior to now, I have surfed the web and located the official site for immigrations. It adumbrates the procedure to obtain one and the costing fee. A section of the site shows that one eventually needs make reference to an immigrations officer and so I decide to work with them from scratch. I call a contact in one of the nearby offices. She tells me she's been promoted and transferred to another state and then does me the favour of linking me with her colleague that still works in the stated office.

On getting there, I meet an intidimating spectacle of queues and crowds of people at the entrance. In no time, a lady officer walks up to me, asking what I've come to do.

Me: "I need to get an e-passport."

Lady officer: "Okay, I could do it for you. You'll need two passport photographs ..."

Me: "Okay. How much would it cost?"

Lady: looks around cautiously as if she's being watched and then whispers, "20,000."

Hmmm! I thank her and get her phone number, assuring her that I would call when I was ready. And with that, she hurries back in. I proceed to make my way though the crowd as I remember that I have been told to see someone inside. So I make my way to the bouncer at the gate, and ask for *M. Y. Musa. The mention of that name grants me VIP access and I am ushered into his office. Apparently, he is the CSI. I briefly state my mission and sender.

CSI: "It will cost you 18,000."

So I pay, fill out the forms and ask for a proof of payment. He gives me his word and his phone number. That is my receipt. I'm instructed to return on Monday morning to complete the process. Unavoidably absent on Monday, I return on Tuesday morning to get my picture taken, scanned and uploaded online. The CSI is absent so I have to go unaccompanied/manual this time. Groan! I find my name on the posted list, pick up my file and join the queue as the 175th person. It's my turn to watch as people with links and contacts now receive VIP access. So I open the file with my name on it to view the contents and what do I find?

  1. A bank draft stating the actual cost of the passport i. e. 8,750
  2. An affidavit sworn in my name, declaring my date and place of birth
  3. A letter from a guarantor that promised to "sponsor my trip to the UK." signed and stamped by the Federal High Court

Surprised and scared, I lift my gaze to meet my seat patners' and notice the same mixed reactions going on on their faces. I wait for two hours and a half before my number is called and the exercise is carried out. I am given a slip on which the passport collection date is indicated for the next nine days. But that's too far away! I need the passport sooner and do not hesitate to think loudly in the CSI's office.

CSI: "Nine days? How much did you pay?"

Me: "18,000"

CSI: "Ah! That's why now. You haven't paid for express. Pay 2,000 and collect your passport tomorrow."

Two thousand naira will move my passport from the delay stack to the prompt stack. I'm weak. I pay.

...To be Continued

*Real name changed

Phase CItizen: The Server is Down (Series): Preface.

Ever heard or come across that phrase before? Well, being a patriotic netizen for almost a decade, which means I was once a regular at cyber cafes, that statement always made me cringe. I would arrive at the cafe with an online to do list and with hopes as high as a skyscraper and then the words would come out the mouth of the administrator. It never failed to sound like an oral obituary, causing my hopes to sag and meaning I would return home with the haunting feeling of UNFULFILLMENT.
Coincidentally or otherwise, I still get that feeling. This time it has little or nothing to do with my netizenship but my citizenship: my being a Nigerian. In recent times, as my awareness increased by knowledge I started keeping a mental checklist of tasks and expectations for my country and more often than not, UNFULFILLMENT revisits me. I've grown to be bothered and have stopped wondering why I haven't escaped to foreign shores.
My country's server is down. Administrators needed urgently!

Read on, and feel free to share your experiences as well. Look out for subsequent 'chapters'.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ode to Friendship

Easter’s Excitement
December’s Festivals
Omega Dinners
Going Shopping
Uncle Joe’s Math Class
Not Even “OPRAH”[i]

Evening Breezes
February’s Dawdle
Okra Soup with Kidney
Summer Vacations
Alpha’s Income

Exam Celebrations... endless!
Great Joys These Bring, But Not One
Is Half As Beautiful A Thing As Being Your Friend
Enjoy! You Deserve The Very Best.


[i] Err … did I just sat that?!
Written for my friend Efosa, on August 15, 2007 at 23.49 in my “pretty Eastern room”.

Potential

A seed looks lifeless, seems useless just lying there.
It won’t grind like the pebbles nor would it sink like them either.
Without a doubt, it is an outcast. Of what worth is it then?
Practically nothing. Dare I ask ‘why’?
Because it is OUTSIDE THE SOIL!
You cannot place a reed in the midst of pebbles and expect perfect viability!
No! It’s an anomaly. An anathema. An aberration. an insult to nature.
It just won’t happen. Unless that seed is planted, it remains just a seed. A misfit.
Full of POTENTIAL, ability to become ...
A seedling, a grain, a shrub, an herb and ultimately a tree.
If and only if it is planted in soil, else it remains
-A figureless figment, a dormant dream, a faceless fantasy, a weightless wish.
Dare to take a step;
Release that seed into the earth
Hold it! Wait for it. Watch it.
You don’t see anything you say? Now imagine it.

Is that a leaf springing up? Looks like it!
Water it. Wean it. Don’t stop now!
Another sprouting! Let’s not get carried away now, that’s not the end.
Give it your best shot yet, all you’ve got.
More growth, more beauty … It’s taking shape!
Déjà vu, you say? It’s exactlly a mirror image
Well, what do you know? That seed , your seed has become its ultimate: a tree.
With fruits for nourishment, shade for protecting, leaves for healing, bark for processing..
It’s time for your reward!
Liberated listener, renewed reader; take a glance at your palm.
Is that your seed still in your hand?
Dare to take this step;
Envision, Realise and Release.


6th Sept., 2005 @ 5 25 p.m after meditating on the book of Esther Page

Water

I sit here trying to think of an essence, a most pure form and I let my mind roam.
My mind runs through greenery and vegetation but it doesn’t stop.
It collides with the Fauna, but keeps running.
Precious stones are just in view, but it runs in the opposite direction
And finally, my roaming mind halts and my heart leaps,
Absorbing the most Aesthetic Art my senses have ever experienced
I’d liken you to running water;
Oriented, clear, boundless
I’d liken you to a wave;
Tenacious, exuberant, resilient
I’d liken you to a spring;
Resourceful, unadulterated, picturesque
I’d liken you to Rain;
Therapeutic, rhythmic, refreshing
I’d liken you to a lake;
Territorial, promising, deep …
If there’s one element that nature could not do without, it’s water.
Water is the one thing that holds life in place: wild life, humans …every form of it.
It is most essential and most aesthetic.
You are Nature’s water.

Fusion

That we were never really created to exist alone
Is the reason we seek our fullness in one another;
That no being is never really 100% perfect
Is the reason for our obvious differences;
That complete perfection is never in standing alone
But in the sum total of me and you and all of us.

Like pieces of a jigsaw, without one even one infinitesimal part,
The entire picture remains a puzzle;
Probably pretty and picturesque but never really whole.

That SOLITUDE is alone
And ALONE is never one.
And Solitude is EMPTINESS.

That WHOLENESS makes us,
That PERFECT is our strengths combined
That COMPLETE is perfect with our ‘flaws’: our unrefined strengths.
That wholeness is ONE,
And wholeness makes US.

Hearts

Hearts feel:
Like plants, hearts respond to stimulus. They feel warmth from the Sun, and ever so tenderly and gradually move in the direction of the warmth. Hearts hold emotions of joy, love, fear, excitement and doubt.

Hearts reach out:
Hearts respond to their feelings, to forces, to nature. With patience and with time, hearts grow and begin to bud and blossom, and hearts go on to radiate beauty. Hearts’ want to share … hearts want to give.

Hearts speak:
In the most silent whispers and in ineffable moments, with a voice so clam, but yet so strong, hearts speak just as they listen. Over the longest distances and through the toughest barriers, hearts commune. Where lips stutter, hearts utter.

Hearts weep:
In valleys, in deserts, at dead ends, at crossroads, in the rain, in the dark, in the cold, hearts could be taken over by emotions and express vulnerability in tears.

Hearts bleed:
In pain, injured by a fight r wounded by a loss, hearts could bleed and they immediately tend to withdraw while nursing wounds.

Hearts break:
Overwhelmed and frustrated, defeated and drowned, hearts lose the will to go on, to pull through. It takes only a miracle to revivify.

Hearts bond:
Healed or healing, hearts lean towards love, gradually absorbing and dispelling, making sort of an exchange until a bond is formed.

A bond is a reinforcement of hearts, so that when one reaches out, the other responds. And when one weeps, the other strengthens. And where the other wants to be heard, one listens. And in moments, they could weep together and they could share, and they could grow together. Indefatigable and inextricable.
‘The best things in life cannot be touched but can only be felt in the heart.’

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Out of time?


On Your marks, Set, …!

Ever noticed how fast our globe, our world seems to be spinning? Like it’s out of control! Considering the present age we live in; the “Jet” age, it’s seems like we are being “jetted” off. Basically everything moves at the speed of light and who knows, things just might get even faster. Destination: UNKNOWN!
I think we are involved in a race against time, but what’s it all about? And what’s the worth of it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally in support of technological advancements. Who wouldn’t? Not in this era of instant gratification when virtually everything just seems to have been given either feet or wings. Which other era had the rare privilege of mobility as we do. Fast food, Meals on Wheels… you could even eat Egusi soup out of cans, and the accompanying Eba from a sachet. Believe me, there is barely need for cooking utensils anymore, because man now lives out of cans and boxes; cereal, noodles … it’s all ready to eat. Raw food is fast becoming history, and just might be found strictly in museums. We even got propellant-suggestive footwear: Drivers. We are truly being driven. Our speech is not left out as we barely speak these days. Slangs have become the substitute for language and our words just keep getting scantier. “Hey! Wha gwan?” Half baked is the norm, and is the exchange- as long as it’s fast. You could even squeeze your thoughts into a 160-lettered box called a text message; after all Talk is cheap! Everything is in a hurry but should everyone be? Our music is so fast these days; all noise, no news. And our dressing? It gets cheaper by the dozen, and skimpier by the decade. Prêt-a-Porter!
Seems like the average lifespan is inversely proportional to time. Recall how long our progenitors spent on the earth. Mind you, they were not exposed to so much as a fraction of the technology we have today. But there was unity, organization, hard work, perseverance and longevity. These are timeless values and we must not watch them gain wings and take a flight right before our very eyes.
Now, technology transcends the credit and debit cards, and goes on to make intra-human transactions; the MONDEX. Same goes for communications as cell phones and beepers give way to chips embedded in the human body turning the hand into a ‘hand-held’ gadget. Technology is a breakthrough in our world today and no doubt is here to stay. But my point precisely is this; let’s not become captives of our creation. After all, that is the reason why we are humans; our advantage is in using our brains to get things done. Please let’s give thought and time to the things that really matter right now, and cannot be fast forwarded, rewound or paused. Our health, our family, our friendships, our inner man, our Prayers and our Creator; these make up our lives. This is real life and BALANCE is indispensable.