Month: October 2020

Advantages And The Importance Of The Small Things

In trouble waters I had to learn how to float” – Jay Z (Oceans)

Many people don’t believe they are advantaged. And can you even blame them?

I mean, it’s hard to see any sort of advantage in being impoverished or coming from a hard place.

Yesterday, I was thinking about David’s epic battle with Goliath and something profound struck me.

I know the recurring theme is always about how a simple shepherd boy could down a well-seasoned war machine with just a common sling.

Many books have been written, sermons preached, millions of anecdotes told and analogies made concerning the difference in size between both parties, as that’s usually the most captivating part of the story.

But what if David’s brothers weren’t in the army?

Let me tell you all the things that might have happened.

1. His father would have never sent him on that errand.

2. He’d never have heard of Goliath’s challenge.

3. His brothers’ initial resistance had to be enough to cause a furore that attracted Saul’s attention.

4. He might never have had access to Saul’s presence to even present his case about taking on Goliath.

5. And just to prove God’s providence, Saul’s armour was too big for David. He’d never had been able to sling a single stone wearing something that heavy.

These all go on to prove how crazy life is.

Having brothers in the army was the opportunity David needed to showcase his talents and God’s grace in his life. But being rejected and a lack of acknowledgement of his abilities by them was the final piece of the puzzle.

What about the experience he got from tending sheep, sleeping in the blistering cold and hunting down lions and from bears?

Aside from helping hone his military abilities, these were the tools he needed to go guerilla mode and evade Saul when his life was in danger.

Can you see the pattern?

No experience, no matter how innocuous or mundane or even painful and heartbreaking should be counted out.

Everything and everyone matters.

But it goes to show you that some of the levels you might eventually reach in life won’t be entirely on your own. And that is regardless of how much you push yourself.

Someone or something will have to push you. And it might be under the most unlikely circumstances.

Which means some of the advantages you’ll enjoy through your journey in life would be from knowing other people.

And this is not me promoting an already selfish culture of networking and connecting with people based on personal interests or WIIFM (what’s in it for me). In fact, your advantage might end up being from the ‘small and unimportant’ things.

Never count them out. That’s what builds you up.

Were Our Parents Really A Silent Generation?

“I just need to clear my mind now/It’s been racin’ since the summertime” – Kanye West (Blood on the Leaves)

Our biggest rallying cry when these protests started was that we didn’t inherit the silence of our parents.

Maybe it was just plain narcissism typical of young people, or it was our youthful energy and enthusiasm, zero reluctance to speak truth to power, piled up frustration or our ability to crowdfund and support systems within a very short time and at scale, powerful acts of kindness over the last few days, all of these mostly possible because we had the Internet on our side, something our parents never had.

After an exhaustive call on Wednesday morning with my mother and then logging on to Twitter in the evening to see Oke with a bullet hole in his neck, shot dead by the Nigerian Police, his parents cradling their baby’s dead body in their hands – his mother screaming her lungs out. His father quiet, with pain written all over his face, the exact way men grieve. – probably thinking about how they failed him, I realised we were wrong all along.

It was from reading about Pericles from Robert Greene’s The Laws of Human Nature that I understood that our parents weren’t silent out of convenience or because they loved the idea of a toxic relationship. They were silent because they had come to understand how the system worked.

A generation that experienced a civil war, military rule, coups and counter-coups, genocides, militancy, civil unrests, pogroms, insecurity, election violence, riots, broken promises, poverty, a rotten system, an irate military and countless of targeted killings.

I always wondered why my father always insisted on exercising restraint.

But for someone who was born around the time the first guns sounded for the Nigerian Civil War, experienced all the horrors of war, saw Ghana and many other African countries capitulate under bad leadership, heard about South Africa, saw people disappear and never seen again, now I understand.

They were broken spirits and their silence was just plain PTSD.

They were so used to bad things happening that nothing even remotely felt out of place.

The reason our parents held on so strongly to prayers and religion was simply to numb the pain from the trauma. It was opium and morphine to them. A coping mechanism.

I saw too many videos of dead people over the last few days, but nothing broke me like Lucy’s and Oke’s.

I really was sweating my blood pressure watching Chelsea in the UCL on Tuesday night not knowing a genocide was on.

Lucy was dancing hours earlier, laughing and meeting new people, only to have her face cut in half by bullets bought with her own taxes.

Cried like a child with snort running down my nose. Couldn’t work or work out. Couldn’t sleep.

I broke down from watching Oke’s girlfriend post pictures and talk about their dreams.

People who knew him called him a whiz and an overall great human being.

3 hours earlier, he posted “Nigeria won’t end me’ on his Twitter.

Nigeria ended him 2 hours later.

That boy was essentially his family’s breadwinner and Nigeria might have just managed to derail his family’s future.

That boy was going to be someone’s future husband and father. Nigeria just killed someone’s present and future happiness.

Nigeria ended that man’s dreams and whatever seeds he had inside of him, whether seeds of greatness or progenies.

Your government might have just killed the next Paystack.

I really used to think that this country was supposed to test you and make you prove your mettle – the same way fire removes dross from silver, heat purifies gold or pressure turns coal to diamonds. Isn’t that why Nigerians excel everywhere?

But nahhhhh!!! Our parents understood from the get-go.

This country was programmed to kill you, and everything you hold dear, your dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Our military came out and shot protesters in the full glare of the world and then went on to deny it claiming it was photoshopped. An event seen by over 100,000 people live on Instagram? Makes you wonder how much evil has been swept under the rug all these years.

Our parents were always right, and we really ought to apologise to them.

This wasn’t the Nigeria I grew up to love, believe in and be proud of. Maybe it’s better to be an alien in someone else’s country and killed by a white cop on the account of racism than being killed in your own motherland just for demanding for the right to live.

Whatever I felt for this country will never be the same again.

I’m done!

Is Our Attention Span Killing Our Relationships

“Talkin’ ’bout how the weather’s changing/The ice is meltin’ as if the world is ending” – Drake (Heat Of The Moment)

Working in advertising in this generation has been termed as one of the hardest jobs to do, especially when you are contending with what celebrated journo David Hundeyin refers to as ‘the attention span of a goldfish’.

Catching someone’s attention and holding it long enough up to the point where they bring out their wallets to buy whatever you’re selling has become harder every day.

Attention is the new cocaine.

People have to get their fix somehow.

From push notifications to social media feeds and trending topics to a myriad of apps to go through every day, our attention is fragmented across a thousand things.

This has led to an attention deficit syndrome and an inability to concentrate on a particular area or thing for long.

This has affected our lives as one on one communication without mobile interfaces have become harder. People are so terrible at communicating nowadays.

We’ve lost our confidence and ability to talk to people face to face.

When together we’d rather take pictures instead of soaking in a moment.

Awkward silences which are natural for punctuating interactions are made worse by people looking at their phones trying to escape them.

Dates feel like interviews. Question and answer sessions.

The time that should be spent figuring out your partner’s quirks are lost to the apps on your phone.

Whatever magic that was in waiting has completely fizzled out. Everyone is speed dating in the DMs.

A typical modern-day relationship works with two people who are miles apart and instead of waiting for those treasured monthly letters scented with talcum powder or perfume, lipstick kisses and starting with prim and proper headers like ‘Calvary Greetings, dearly beloved’ sent by post, you could easily go online at any time of the day, cut right to the chase and just say, “Hey, baby.” Damn the old and proprietary. Vive la Nueva!

You could say this same thing to 50,000 other people too (depending on which side of the fence you swing), and this might be the biggest problem.

Too many options. There’s a completely extensive and exhausting menu out here.

And the common mistake we’ve made over the years has been assuming a few options mean you’d be settling for less. And so we’d rather more.

But what about the quality of these options?

It is one thing to have just four good eggs in your kitchen cupboard. It is another level of trauma to have 30 eggs, 24 bad and 6 good. The heartbreak and paranoia might make you throw everything away. You may never look at eggs the same way again.

Online relationship experiences have blighted many lives and they forever remain scarred. Future interactions poisoned and possibly dead on arrival.

There’s an entire vacuum between online and offline interactions.

“…the Internet was meant to make the world a smaller place, but it actually feels smaller without it…”, narrates Paul Bettany playing Max Waters in sci-fi film Transcendence.

Re: People inadvertently feel smaller without their phones, and all the fault lines in their abilities to communicate offline just bleed through with inexperience.

We’ve always had shy people. But the Internet made it easier for them.

Now imagine taking that phone away.

People have never been this close and yet so alone in the history of the world.

It’s crazy!

It’s Bigger Than Just #EndSARS

“Look at the valedictorian scared of the future/While I hop in the Delorean/ Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student/Some people graduate, but we still stupid/They tell you read this, eat this, don’t look around/Just peep this, preach us, teach us, Jesus Okay, look up now, they done stole your streetness/After all of that, you receive this” – Kanye West (Good Morning)

While we talk about the various protests around the country calling for the government to #EndSARS and also #ReformPolice, let’s also talk about how this whole thing is bigger than just #EndSARS or #ReformPolice and the systemic oppression entrenched in our daily lives as Nigerians.

From politicians to everyday Nigerians (individuals and organizations) who have used the police and security outfits as tools of oppression and suppression over the years.

I lived, schooled and worked in Anambra for 6 years and 9 months (January 2012 – September 2018). And while I’ve heard crazy stories about SARS around Nigeria, there’s probably no unit worse than the SARS at Awkuzu, Anambra.

People went missing for months, only to turn up and tell you they got taken to SARS Awkuzu. That is if they even returned at all.

But let’s talk about all the Universities and Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria that have Anti-Cultism/Security units and how over the years instead of enforcing law and order they’ve become oppressors by themselves, for the university heads and for other Nigerians.

People would call the Anti-Cult/SARS on someone they had an argument with in a club or their apartment buildings. Just because they needed to prove a point.

Girl don use Anti-Cult carry her neighbour just because him provoke her.

Boy don use Anti-Cult threaten another guy wey wan collect him babe. Lmao

Abi na the ones wey actually use Anti-Cult collect people babe?

It was in UniZik where the VC used the Anti-Cult unit to hijack an SUG President for organising a peaceful protest.


Let’s talk about the lodges and apartment buildings where these guys are used as security plus caretakers.

I remember the guy in charge of the apartment building I lived in for 4 years, Obi na.

I remember the night we were having a lodge party and I was talking to some girl he was trying to score with.

This guy pulled a gun on me.

I just started running!!!!

I ran into a dark corridor. And then I just kept running till I got to my apartment.

What if he had pulled the trigger?

Wetin I for tell my Mama?

Sey she send me go school na toto come kill me?

I remember how Obaino would come to my apartment and collect N1,000 every time he heard music playing on that floor.

Weyrey go say the N1,000 na for loud music.

I remember the times Kcee would ask me, “Guy, wetin exactly you do Obaino? Why him no like you?”

Until the day he was the one playing it and Obaino came to do due diligence. Him sef pay N1,000.

Obinna broke into my apartment, and still went ahead to rent it out while I was away on IT. Mind you, my rent was still on.

Or should we talk about 50 who would watch girls through their windows while they took their baths?

Abi na Mopol wey extort boys use the money buy motor?

It felt like divine comedy the day that car was stolen.

Abi na the one wey slap Nonso because him too dey feel himself?

We sat in the same class with these Anti-Cult guys, shared apartment buildings with them, but still lived in fear of them.

Your fellow students? Omo!!!!

A statement has been released this afternoon dissolving the SARS unit, and absorbing them into other units of the Nigerian Police Force.

The same Police that you can’t report a case or make a statement without paying?

I remember when I got scammed N126,500 at my first place of work upon graduation. Reported to the police and they asked me to pay N120k for satellite tracking.

Lmao! Shebi if I get 120k, I for no just pay my employer immediately?

The policemen stationed at the office complex where I work now shoot sporadically in the air at least once a week.

Not because any robbery is going on. If you ask around they’ll tell you “Oga dey comot. They just wan troway one for air for am.”

Troway one for air because he’s going to gift them money for the acknowledgement.

So, what happens when a stray bullet hits someone?

Same stray bullet that killed a young girl while taking her bath in Ebonyi.

Same stray bullet that hit Jimoh Isiaq who wasn’t even protesting yesterday. He was just an onlooker.

But las las when e happen we go count am as village people.

While we all agitate for #ENDSARS, we shouldn’t sleep on #ReformPoliceNG, because at the end of the day y’all should remember: Na all of us spoil this country.

Contentment Is So Underrated And It Sucks!

“I grew up, a fuckin’ screw up/Tie my shoe up, wish they was newer…You everything I wanna be that’s why I fucks with you/So how you looking up to me, when I look up to you?…I felt ashamed to have ever complained about my lack of gear/And thought about how far we done came/From trailer park to a front yard with trees in the sky” – J. Cole (03′ Adolescence)

There’s a thin line between greed and ambition.

This line gets blurred and redrawn over and over again in different circumstances and situations.

The idea of contentment sits uncomfortably on this line.

To the overly ambitious, contentment could mean the absence of ambition or lack thereof.

A typical definition of settling and a lack of motivation.

To the lazy, contentment is an excuse to hide and therefore settle.

Contentment is sitting in a dark room in a rundown apartment while thinking about better options, but still enjoying it in the present.

Contentment is being in a hard place, but still finding reasons to laugh at yourself and about it.

Contentment is the conquering of self.

The true definition of being present and living in the moment.

All the base desires that come from being overly ambitious like envy, jealousy and discontentment are put in check.

Contentment is true happiness, with achievements or not.

Working to be the best version of yourself and not to prove a point or to revenge.

Contentment is the root of true gratitude and appreciation.

It is the realisation that life is a journey and not some utopian destination and being happy with whatever point you are at, while not settling for less or mediocrity.

Contentment is everything. But it’s shameful most of us lack it. Especially in a world calibrated by milestones, overachieving and an incessant dick measuring contest.

J. Cole reminded me why I had to be content this weekend.