MY WORK WITH GIRLS INSPIRED AFRICA

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If -By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

A TALE OF THREE NEIGBOURS

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In a  recent interview on domestic violence by screen goddess, Joke Silver, she made a very important assertion and I quote ” I think it’s important for people to the know what their thresh hold of pain is, what their thresh hold of acceptability is, I think sometimes in this society we tend to say “Oh, you must stay in the marriage no matter what he does to you”, to the individuals who have stayed in the marriage.

You will hear of some women who have stayed with their husband right throughout the difficulty and when the husband dies, you hear them, they’re so bitter because it seems as if they wasted their life and this is something that the younger generation doesn’t want to go through”.

 A tale of three neighbors is the reality young people face in marriages in Nigeria, it tells the true story of three couples, from the eyes of another female, depicting how marriage works for women and men when married from within and across borders.

A few assertions have been added, to basically reflect the life of these everyday people.

Mr. Boss & Mrs. No Voice

 

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She could pass for another version of Bianca Ojukwu, except that her facial features are round, I imagine the trouble Mr. Boss must have passed through to woo-and-wife her, in my mind, it would have taken a lot of enticement, persuasion and or impression plus guts for an average Joe in looks, like Mr. Boss to have enticed such a beauty, but I could be wrong, it may just have been as easy as saying those words, the one that confuses many young women of this generation; ‘I want to marry you’.

She is often seen washing piles of clothing, perhaps she has no washing machine, as this is a regular occurrence. Looking at her as she stood outside the locked door with her young one who couldn’t have been more than 11 months old, sleeping peacefully on her back. She had once again been locked out of her home, the two younger children could be seen talking to her from the kitchen window, saying mummy come inside. Her children have become used to the pattern of seeing her treated with disdain, it is beginning to sink in their young minds that daddy hits mummy and she cries a lot, their innocent sympathy lies with her.

You see, Mrs. No Voice has been on receiving end for a while now, some days she gets a very serious and resounding slaps at the balcony behind the house, on other days she receives the severe beatings inside the house. The most recent episode happened with a baby strapped to her back, she ran out shouting, “neighbors come and help me”. Sadly it was impossible for anyone to help; Mrs. No-voice was stuck. Her only means of escape was through the burglary gate leading out of the five-story building, where they occupied the last floor. The key was inside with Mr. Boss. Her options were limited to two; sit outside in the cold with her baby, or return to the house to receive more of her husbands beatings.

Mr. Boss came out a few hours later ranting some more and giving ultimatums to Mrs. No-voice, come inside or else I will lock this door till tomorrow.

 There was no mention of the baby, his child. There was a little exchange of words between Mr. Boss and Mrs. No-voice, they spoke the same language, sometimes their voices were loud, other times it was low, a few words were spoken in English, what stood out were some of the phrases; ‘let me take my children and leave’, ‘You begged me to marry you, look at my life, I had a job’, I am tired of the beatings’. Mr. Boss can be heard saying; ‘I paid your bride price’, and lots of obscenities in his local dialect.  It was a very sad night, there was a brief moment of silence all night, sadly, the beatings started again in the morning, neighbors woke up to her screams; neighbors help me!!!

Presumptions about Mr. & Mrs. Boss-No-Voice:

  • Mr. Boss is an average income earner.
  • Mr. Boss seems to be the sole provider.
  • Mr. Boss often times buys the groceries, food items in the home.
  • Mr. Boss has several male relatives living with him.
  • Mrs. No-voice speaks good English, it is likely she is more educated than her husband.
  • Mr. Boss also speaks well, chances are he also had some level of formal education. 

 

Mr. Lover-man & Mrs. Overseas

 

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She isn’t an eye stunner, but Mrs. Overseas looks pretty okay, slim, long hair, perhaps an European or American, it doesn’t really matter, she is an ‘oyinbo’, and she is married to Mr. Lover-man.

 They often walk hand in hand with their young one, they take turns carrying the little one, they also sit regularly to share a cigarette, perhaps after a long day tending to the baby, they laugh often, chat often, and eat-out without a single care of the world around them. The balcony is filled with clutter, from their chats several weeks, and even from the previous weeks. The floor is always in the same state it was left, dirty and dusty, but still they sit in the mess, hold hands, talk into the night until it is time to sleep.

Mrs. Overseas is barley left alone, she had a baby only a few months ago, Mr. Lover-man recognizes that she needs help, perchance, the unavailability of a nanny made it imperative that Mr. Lover-man stick around often, luckily Mr. Lover-boy seems to be self-employed and isn’t doing badly for himself at all.

It’s hard to tell if sponsorship was received from Mrs. Overseas, but Mr. Lover-man seems to have a lot of people working for him, it takes a very smart and hard-working Nigerian male to have up to 6 or more employees. Mrs. Overseas isn’t much of a cook, the assumption is that she probably is on a short visit and couldn’t be bothered. After all, she is living the ‘baby-girl life’, the kind most women dream of.

Presumptions about Mr. & Mrs. Lover-man & Mrs. Overseas

  • It’s hard to say if Mr. Lover-boys is exploiting Mrs. Overseas.
  • A legal marriage is likely involved between them.
  • Mr. Lover-boy isn’t broke; he lives in a comfortable apartment and drives a nice SUV.
  • Bottom line, they look happy together.

 

 Mr. Proud & Mrs. Humble

 

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Often times Mrs. Humble is found walking with a smile on her face but for those that know her, she is far from happy, she attends church regularly and spends loads of time at the church. She is a mother to five good-looking children all of the same gender. She is quite young and in her mid-thirties but she now adorns the demeanor of a tired old woman with lost dreams, perhaps due to childbearing and abuse. Her’s is the kind of abuse that takes place in the dead of the night, when other souls are deeply asleep. She certainly is educated, friendly and carries a humble appearance.

Since the children are still quite young, money-earning-capabilities have been put on hold, sadly, Mr. Proud is also fantastically -unemployed on most days as a result of his seasonal  kind of job.  Mr. Proud has the demeanor of a bully, even though he tries to hide it.  His pride won’t allow him find a menial job and he won’t let Mrs. Humble work with her degree certificate to feed the many hungry mouths.

One night, Mrs. Humble had enough and fought back, she was dealt with severely, but she left her mark on him.  The evidence was seen the next day, for her it was a battered face, for him, a limp and a sore on his head.

Sadly, Mrs. Humble didn’t leave him that day, but she was seen heading to work the next week. These days, she has a different kind of happy-smile on her face. She may not have broken free from his clutch, as he once proudly said to his landlord for all to hear that, “Mrs Humble deserves to be beaten into submission”.

At least the whimpering at night has come to an end, for her sake, it is hoped that this remains permanent.

   Presumptions and few facts  about Mr.  Proud & Mrs. Humble

  • Mr. Pride’s ego still gets in his way, there are a number of things he could do.
  • Mr. Pride has a large appetite, and can mostly be found in a few local bars.
  • Mrs. Humble may never leave Mr. Pride, she seems to have taken it as her cross, besides there are too many children to manage.

 

Summary:

Why do Nigerian men find it easy to abuse their women/wives, yet worship the grounds their foreign wives thread. The  answer isn’t far-fetched, we often know that these women can sew them for everything they have, they also know there are laws that protect these women.

Domestic Violence has always been about ‘power’.

The one who wields it will always have the upper hand against the weaker victim. It therefore makes sense that power should and must be taken away from the oppressor /abuser.

 Irrespective of the repressive cultures that hold women back in Nigeria and Africa, when the right laws are put in place and fully implemented, the frequency of domestic violence will begin to wane, (on both genders), then add a dash of compulsory education for girls, financial empowerment for women (and men), as well as putting an end to harmful cultural practices against women.

There are many dimensions to abuse, no one should ever be used on any human or child. Love shouldn’t hurt.

 

 

Mother’s Do The impossible. Happy Mother’s’ Day

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Being a mom is definitely the most difficult yet most fulfilling job I have ever encountered. THERE ARE NO DEFINED RULES ON HOW TO raise your kids. Each child comes with a different personality and you sure can’t use the one cap fits all ideology. While the principles of raising decent and responsible kids may be the same, the approach has to be different considering that there may be various factors at play.

I honestly don’t know how my mother managed to raise me and three other siblings with limited help. Cos with just two of my own kids, I’m yet to recover from the stress of labor/delivery, the frustrating moments of not getting enough sleep, putting defining career moments on hold, chasing kids up and down to get them to eat, wear clothes, separating fights, spending weeks in the ER/hospital, amongst many other tantrums they come up with.

Do I need to talk about the financial aspect of raising one child, let alone 2,3’4,5,6,7,8 ……10.
The cost of baby hygiene and baby care products, (diapers, wipes, etc), hospital bills, child care/school fees…(.the list is forever endless) humbles you and also tells you that raising kids ain’t for children.

How about the changes your body passes through after a vaginal delivery or c-section, the pain, the depression, emotional and psychological effects, especially the bouts of anger and pain; story for another day.

For career /working mothers, you are expected to return back to work after 3 months or sometimes 4 months , when in reality you need at least one year to get it together.

I honestly don’t know how  women do it, I simply cannot comprehend the power, resilience, patience and sacrifice of a mother. For me, It’s still work in progress, it’s still a learning curve, it still an adventure.

The process of bringing forth another life is one that should never be taken for granted. We should all be grateful for the gift of being vessels to nuture and give life. This is why it saddens me when a woman losses her life in the process of bringing another. Just as it is equally enraging when children and UNDERAGED girls are given out in marriage to pedophiles or raped by men from the pit of hades.

I had my first child at 31 and it’s so hard to describe the kind of emotions, pain and depression I felt. there is absolutely nothing I miss about being pregnant, aside from seeing the rewards of all my effort- My healthy and pretty babies.

While I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to carry two children to full term and still have my life in tact to raise them , I am so certain that I don’t want to have to pass through that process “evurrrrr” again.

Now, you can my understand my “Rage” when a 9 years old or even a 12 years old girl has to go through such pain.

To the beautiful woman out there. The world applauds you for the sacrifices you make daily. Let’s continue to raise the kind of children that will change the course of history. The kind of children that will do away with cultural and religious practices that limit the potentials of women, the kind of men and women that understand that it is absolutely inhuman for a girl child to be used as as bargaining chip in marriage, totally unprepared for the challenges ahead.

Let us raise men that respect the pains and gains of being a woman and let’s raise daughters that will do same.

To women in waiting, may your wombs bear fruits.

Happy Mothers day.

MYOKYMIA- New word alert

Until recently, I had never heard of the word “Myokymia”. It  is a medical jargon and sure was not a part of my vocabulary until this unnerving twitching started again, after I thought I had beat it.

Does your lower eye or upper eye lid twitch….. if you answered yes, then my friend, you have got a mild or severe case of Myokymia.

Don’t panic though, you ain’t dying!

Scary and unusual as the name may sound, you need not fret.

Arrrrg! I can’t stand it when my eyes twitch, it is so darn annoying, irritating and very distracting. The feeling sometimes makes me want to pull out them eyes.

I read a bit on the reasons why I had these spasms and realized it could sometimes be related to stress, coffee, caffeine, alcohol, frequent computer usage,  dryness, etc. All of these are things that are a part of my everyday life.

Everyone who really knows me, can testify that I love tea. I can ‘drink tea for Africa’;

I literally can’t do without tea, I take a cup of coffee, black tea, green tea, etc daily. What would life be like without my cup of stimulating hot tea!!!

So in 2015, after so much introspection,  I decided to give up coffee-only and noticed some remarkable difference. The twitching reduced, then I gave up wine. It stopped- not totally but to a bearable extent, such that I hardly noticed they twitched.

But everyone in Nigeria knows that the stress in “Naija” is not for the faint hearted, especially if you live in Lagos and work as a social worker, where you spend countless hours fund raising, networking, delivering projects, and writing proposals etc….

You practically sleep with your computer. I guess this is why the twitching never completely left.

A couple of days ago, I decided to manage just one large cup of coffee, seeing that I had run out of lipton and green tea.

My people, after savoring the long forgotten taste and aroma of coffee, I settled down to work on my laptop. I noticed that after drinking that cup of coffee, my eyes weren’t just twitching, they were both “twerking” and my entire body was itching.

As a dedicated follower and fan of Google, I checked it out and came across the name Myokymia (also called blepharospasms)……..”hian”.

As a true naija babe, “fear catch me” , we all know if it’s got a special name, then na him be say yawa wan gas.

For some reason, all the while I had spent previously online reading articles on eye twitching,  I never came across these names (Myokymia and blepharospasms). Now that I know, I guess it’s time to add a new word to my “diktionery”.

Avoid these if your suffer from Myokymia:

Stress.

Tiredness. .

Eye strain.

Caffeine.

 Alcohol.

Dry eyes

Nutritional imbalances.

Allergies.

You may visit these links for more details if you need to ease the stress

http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/eye-twitching.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Eye-Twitching

Peace

Clare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

​BLAME IT NOT ON CULTURE: OUR MEN NEVER HAD TO BEAT THEIR WIVES. 

​BLAME IT NOT ON CULTURE: OUR MEN NEVER HAD TO BEAT THEIR WIVES. 
I have repeatedly heard the argument that it is in our culture for men to beat their wives. And each time we raise our voices against domestic violence, there must be a man who would argue that we are trying to impose Western culture on Nigerians. By this unfortunate argument, they try to suggest that our culture, the Nigerian peoples’ cultures, somehow condoned or encouraged domestic violence. But my research shows a startling negation of such claim. Our men, in the past, never really had to beat their women. 
It is true that over history, men in various Nigerian cultures have maintained a dominant position over their women. But that is not unique to Nigeria. Historically, the patriarchal system tended to be a worldwide phenomenon. The question we need to deal with now is this single issue of wife-beating: whether it is truly in our culture. And the answer is NO. How then did our men express their dominance over their women?
Let me share with some you some of the examples of how men exercised dominance over their wives in the families over time. One example is that the man would refuse to eat the food made by his wife. It was considered a bad thing for a woman for her husband to refuse to eat her food. A woman was viewed negatively if her husband did not eat her food. She would not be accepted among her peers and that led to a situation where the woman would take steps to appease her husband. This was one way a man would punish his wife or otherwise control her. He never had to beat her. Indeed, that was hardly an option.
Another way the man would punish his wife or exert dominance over her was that he would take her to her parents and request that they caution her and teach her good manners or to show respect. The point the man would be making was that he would tell his in-laws that their daughter was not well trained or well brought-up. It was an indirect indictment of the family of the woman – that they failed to raise their daughter to be a good wife. Usually, the family of the woman would admonish her. In this case, what happened was that the man understood that it was not in his place to admonish or judge his wife. He preferred that it be the family of the woman that would do that. 
There are other ways for men to exert dominance or control over their wives in our cultures. One such way was that the man could impose a fine on his wife, demanding that she should do something to appease or placate him. For instance, if a woman was rude to her husband, the husband could demand that she present a cock and beg him for forgiveness. 
There was nowhere in the culture where it was allowed for a man to beat up his wife as a way of exerting control over his household or ensuring that the wife respected him. So, when you hear these arguments tending to justify domestic violence on the basis of culture, you should know it is coming from people who have little knowledge of the Nigerian cultures. In almost all Nigerian cutlers, a man who beat his wife or who fought with women was viewed with disdain and as a coward. It used to be a belittlement of a man to say that he was good at beating women. In a fight between a wifebeater and other men, they would quickly remind him that this was not a fight with a woman. They would taunt him to face a fellow man in a fight rather than women. 
Domestic violence seems to have been a by-product of city-dwelling. It was when our men left their villages and settled in cities that it became more prevalent for a man to beat his wife. Indeed, in the cultures, each time a man lost his temper with his wife, his kinsmen and relatives around would immediately step in to prevent an escalation. However, when our men left the villages and began to live in cities, they found themselves living with neighbors who were not their kinsmen and would rather not interfere in the affairs of a husband and wife. It was at this time that family narrowed down to just the man and his wife. Otherwise, in the villages, the concept of family meant the entire kinsmen community, and they tended to look out for one another, and would not allow escalation of violence between a man and his wife.
I use this opportunity to emphasis another point. Many have asked me what would a woman do to justify being beaten by her husband. I want to make it clear. The beating of a woman has nothing to do with what the woman did. It is not the fault of the woman that she gets beaten. It is always the fault of the man. What causes a woman to be beaten is simply the man’s inability to control himself or to manage his anger and emotions well. So, look to the man for all your answers as to why a woman gets beaten. When a man is a real man, possessed of sound judgment and self-control, he does not have to beat his woman, whatever she did. Those who look at the woman for the reasons she was beaten are looking in the wrong place. Just look at the man, the wife-beater. There is an easy way to prove this: check and see what the man does when more powerful men annoy him. Notice he doesn’t beat them.  So, he knows how to avoid a fight.

 Culled from DPA group by Emeka Ugwuwonye

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