Friday, March 25, 2011

I was not born RI'S'H

I have followed keenly the election campaigns leading up to now. Presidential campaign jingles have also caught my attention. Apart from my utter amazement at what "power" imcumbency  bestows and the ability of the GEJ team to roll out jingle after jingle, I have also wondered at the thought pattern of the advertising consultants.

There was one jingle as far back as November. Saint Obi, New Miss Pepeye and a Northener took turns to complete sentences praising GEJ. I thought, pstcheeew, "You guys are just warming up, let's see what else you gat"
More and more jingles kept pouring in and now there's this one currently running.

A live speech given by GEJ is broadcast where he talks about his very humble beginnings and how he is like every one of us. There are these very normal people drawn from all walks of life, children, market women, mother with child, professional etc. They keep echoing what he says and end by saying, "I am Goodluck Jonathan"

So here goes a typical scenario...

GEJ: I am Goodluck Jonathan
Respondent: I am Goodluck Jonathan

GEJ: I never thought I would be where I am today
Respondent: Ditto

GEJ: I had no shoes, no school bag; I carried my books in my hand to school.
Respondent: I 'have' no shoes

GEJ: I have no enemies to fight
Little girl respondent: I have no enemies to fight.

GEJ: I was not born ri's'h (which would imply that he now is)
Respondent|: I was not born rich

GEJ: I am Goodluck Jonathan
Respondents: I am Goodluck Jonathan

GEJ: If I can make it, you can make it
Respondents: If he can make it, I can make it.

I am certain I now understand the thought process of the campaign team. They think; let's get people to think GEJ is just like them. That from humble beginnings, he can rise to prominence... That is true. Grass to Grace stories are always encouraging. But, there's a problem. I know hardwork, perseverance, a good country, proper infrastructure as factors that can help actualise dreams. I also understand what people think of LUCK. That very unreliable, slippery thing that comes and goes at will. So Goodluck says he had goodluck( no pun intended). Imagine then, what chaos it would be if 140 million Nigerians look to their luck or "chi" as the Ibo would call it. Talk about chaos.

So, if you say, "I am Goodluck Jonathan, I was not born rich", the sad thing is that you still are not. But that is not the point. All we want is to have dignity of life.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Butterflies in my stomach- Flash Fiction

Hey guys, ok, I'm on a roll now. Just like me to go on a hiatus and then come back with a bang! This one is something I was working on for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. I didn't send it in eventually. Grappling with the usual problems of writing flash.(600 words). Does it make sense? I haven't said all I want to? This is absolute trash, Akan! (lol) Tell me what you think, will ya? I love you guys. Bless!

Butterflies in my stomach

Just as I was about to climb aboard my father’s rickety Datsun for a ride to the airport, I looked back and watched my mother and my siblings. Hands akimbo, eyes shiny with tears. Gray haired men and pant wearing toddlers were out on their frontages peering at me, hands folded over breasts; expressions a mix of admiration and envy.

My mother rushed to the car and tucked in my bra strap, picked out something from my thick Afro and fiddled with my buttons. The last time I checked, my bra strap was not sticking out, there was no nothing in my hair and my buttons were just fine. She was just nervous, and maybe needed to remind everyone watching that  she was the mother of the scholar who was off to the lands across the seas. 

I knew I wouldn’t be seeing any seas though; for the plane flew high up above them.  Maybe if I craned my neck far out.
My father pressed his horn again. A sombre looking man, made even more grave looking when he was undertaking an important task as he was now. He had driven his cab everyday for the past twenty years, but this was different. Driving his scholar to the airport for a trip abroad. Abroad! That magical word!

The scholarship came serendipitously. As a brilliant but timid student, I didn’t imagine that I would ever win anything like that. But my teacher, Ms Benson thought otherwise. “Such brains cannot waste”, she often said. She was very unlike my mother. While my mum was soft spoken and unassuming, Ms Benson was feisty. Yes, feisty, but I owed her this privilege. She couldn’t be around to see me off to the airport because she was attending a City Hall meeting to protest the exclusion of girls in a recent scholarship offer. That was my Ms Benson; always fighting for the underdog. Blazing her shiny eyes, her voice modulated three notches higher, talking about things like equality and rights, her favourite red scarf flying in the air.

I climbed into the car, clutching the little red pouch Ms Benson had given me, with the words: IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS, PLEASE DO NOT STEAL. Thieves do not take heed to begging but I guess they would know that it was Mrs Benson that wrote it.

As we eased out of the street, people waved vigorously as if I was going away forever. I waved back; my stomach queasy, I suddenly felt like I needed to visit the bathroom.
My father drove slowly like he was afraid to damage the package he was going to deliver. I looked out the window, thinking of the impending upheaval my life was taking. The anticipation was overwhelming and I couldn’t wait to see London and settle the argument my twin siblings had about whether there was a place where you could queue up to get some money if you ran out of yours.

We arrived at 5.00pm.  With my red pouch around my waist, we stared at the crowd that had collected in the hall. There was a constant din; just like it was in Merchant square. Completely bewildered, we joined a line. "Just any line", Father said, clutching my luggage, the serious look never leaving his face. 

We soon came up in front of a lady officer.  After looking through my shiny passport, the lady officer paused and looked up, pointing at the display board. 
“Flight problems, she said, we’re sorry for the inconvenience; it has to be tomorrow".

Father couldn’t have been paler. 
“It’s okay, Father, we would come back tomorrow”, I muttered.
Throughout the ride back , I thought of how I’d face all my neighbours and my siblings and... Mother! Would they think I wasn’t deserving of the scholarship and had been turned back? I noticed that Father was taking a different route, and when I coughed, he said, “We would spend the night at your uncle’s and leave from there tomorrow”. 
Praise be!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Familiarly Pushy- Short Story

Hey guys, about three months ago, there was a competition organised by a writing site and the judge involved was Chimamanda Adichie. She asked that competitors write a story that could be read in three minutes or less in which a joke was cracked and someone cried. I thought long and hard about what to write in less than 600 words that would make sense and still retain my characteristic feisty flavor and I thought of this. I haven't heard anything, so I'm almost certain I didn't win. I've decided to share with you, so that I might get your insights. Please tell me if this story made any sense to you and if it stirred some emotion in you(what great fiction does) or NOT( sobs!) . Whatever you do, enjoy. I love you guys. Bless!

Familiarly Pushy

Amuche sat sniffing; dabbing her eyes with bits of the serviette paper she was supposed to be using to wipe her mouth. But the tears won’t just stop streaming down; ruining her MAC.
“Cheer up, babe, think about it for a minute, imagine if he broke up before Valentine’s day”, I said.
She tried to smile, a watery smile; her pretty face a muddied mess.

The  restaurant was crowded. It seemed a lot of people were still in the mood for love. Couples held hands across the table; staring into eyes filled with longing. I just hoped they would have better luck than Amuche. For me, I had long given up. My heart was beyond the reach of such idiots as Emeka; Amuche’s wayward beau. She finally stopped crying and we resumed eating.

“Hey, care if I join you?” a tall man in a blue sports jacket asked. His voice was like liquid timber; hitting my eardrums like a bass drum beat underwater.
It seemed it had the same effect on Amuche. She wore an instant perk.
“No! Amuche, you’ve just been through one, must you always let them get to you?", I thought.

“You’ve barely touched your food, or do your rocks crack in your teeth as mine”, he said, pointing to my plate of rice, his eyes dancing with mirth.
Pushy familiarity was just the thing I detested; you thought that meant that they were confident and smart, only for them to show you that they were as familiarly pushy with just everything else that wore a skirt.
Amuche’s eyes were instantly dry and twinkling, the dried path the tears took contained in banks of caked powder.
“My name is Emeka, and after a pause, he went on, it’s a pleasure meeting you ladies.”
A dismal look flared on Amuche’s face. It seemed she was going to cry, but she quickly brightened again; after all he wasn’t the same Emeka (I was almost certain she was thinking).
I smiled. This was getting disgusting. I got up to leave the table. As I made to leave, his hand touched mine, and I swear I felt something. Current, sparks, electrons would all sound corny. But there was definitely a ‘something’. Hard, callused hands. Broad and assured. Familiarly pushy. He slipped something into my hand. I closed my hand over it.
“I’ll see you in the car, Amuche” I mumbled.
In my beat up Corolla, I stared down at the gold embossed card in my hand which said: 
Emeka Dibie, Head Builder, Specter Inc. and on the back was scribbled the words;
“I was watching you while ordering and worried that I won’t get a chance to speak to you alone. I’d like to push past those invisible walls and build new ones  around me and you”.
Familiarly pushy. Familiarly clairvoyant. But it got me smiling. Maybe I’ll take a chance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Ynaija Post: New Beginnings; Starting ALL over with FAITH

In the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and Tsunami, news reports say that the nation is concentrating on rebuilding and repairing the devastated areas. The nuclear reactors are cooled, radiation has been stopped and relief materials are being sent out. The international community has commended the apparent strength and sense of orderliness of the Japanese. The question plaguing their minds is the role extensive nuclear power generation has played in the large scale damage done to their country and its citizens.
In other words, they are asking themselves questions and finding out where they went wrong.

Albert Einstein once said that you cannot have the same mindset you had when solving a problem that you had when creating it.

With walking with God, there is a place you get to that requires you to sit back and take stock of where exactly you missed it. We have all heard it; that particularly reassuring phrase we quote when we have failed (though it’s not in the Bible, the idea is pretty clear from Scripture) – “God is a God of second chances”. This means He is ever ready to give His children the opportunity to make amends and to forge a new path for themselves.

Where have you missed in your life? It could be an early relationship disaster or a failed career or job move, or even a personal weakness that gave rise to a seeming fatal outcome.
The truth is that more often than not, in creating the problem, we inadvertently walked outside of God’s will, trusting in our own strength and purposes. God says that those who trust in the arm of flesh are accursed; you may very well have trusted in your own ‘arm’ and subsequently created a problem.

A few steps that have helped me in working out situations where I have stepped out of God’s will are to;

Go back to the place of consecration: This simply means setting yourself apart again to walk in his will. You tell God, “I’m sorry Lord, I’m ready again”.

Search His word for the right way to go about the issue:
The Bible is full of examples from which we can draw instruction. For the godly way to go through adversity, you may need to look at the life of Joseph. For the graceful way to cooperate with an unexpected thrust of divine responsibility you need to look at the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Get insight from people who have gone through a similar situation: In the book of Hebrews; Chapter 13, Scripture says, “Follow them who through faith and patience obtained the promise”. One of the fastest ways to cut short a period of adversity is to carefully consider how people who have gone through similar situations have come out of it in a godly way. I recently sat listening to a very wise woman who told me her life story. This woman has been walking with the Lord for a long time, and from her I received direction that I looked for and couldn’t find in other places.

Be joyful and thankful: This is because you know that God loves you and wants the best for you. He is not a sadistic God who wants to punish you and see you suffer, but he wants you to come up higher from where you are and take your rightful place in his will.

Look forward to the future with faith: Know that trials will come to pass. Understand that God has never failed before and will not start with you. Faith is, after all, the substance of things hoped for. Is your outlook substantial?

As you go forth in this might; determining to see that God’s best comes to you, may you hear that voice that says, “This is the way; walk therein!”

P.s I feel I owe it to you guys to apologize for my long blog hiatus( exactly a month). I thought of you guys everyday but was hardpressed in many ways. Love always.