Sunday, December 08, 2013

Random Thoughts on Legacy, Mandela, and Daystar Christian Center

I tweaked the caption on this original photo to read "1918 - Infinity"... Mandela lives!

It’s a pretty long week staring me in the face, and there’s lots of stuff running through my mind, so I might as well do this post now. I’ll lead in with a brief thought on legacy, inspired by a chance encounter with Olav Silden (GM of Duracell, P&G) and the passing of Mandela. At the end, I’ll share a fleeting moment I held briefly during the Carol Service at Daystar Christian Center today.


On Thursday, Olav Silden, a great manager with 20+ years of experience managing various P&G brands and present GM of Duracell, shared with us various thoughts on leadership. Interestingly, he had a lot to say about legacy.

Last year, I had a fantastic manager – Carole Frachon – who said to me “You’ve gotta find a project where you can deliver immense value to the organization, and you’ve gotta deliver on it. That is going to be your legacy. When you leave for your one year of paramilitary service, people are going to remember you for it – and they’re going to miss you”. I found such a project, worked my ass off to deliver on it, and the feedback was amazing.

In retrospect, and with the benefit of hindsight made clearer by Olav’s talk on Thursday, Carole was more than right. Beginning with the end in mind, and a legacy in sight, is a powerful tool that can only deliver astonishing results.

Basically, Olav was saying to us: “Whatever it is you do today, find one or two areas where you can deliver lasting impact. Make sure those areas are aligned with the priorities of your organization. Work your ass off to deliver on those areas. Sit back and enjoy the immense satisfaction that comes with knowing you have done fantastic work.”

And, may I add that fantastic execution most often leads to recognition, and bigger opportunities?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Random Thoughts about Mothers

"It was some night. I wish my mother could have been there".

People who read my blog often or follow my updates on Facebook know I am sold on Jack Welch and AG Lafley. They are in my estimation, two of the finest CEOs that have walked the surface of this earth.

I have recently completed my fourth reading of "Jack: Straight From The Gut", and this time – I have been struck by how much of an influence his mother was on his life. For the most part of the introduction, you are treated to stories of Grace Welch, her favorite sayings, and sadly – her battle with heart disease. In fact, Jack opens the book by describing her response to an act of frustration he committed in high school – and how in that instant she taught him the delicate balance between losing and winning.

He closes the book with the paragraph I opened this post with. "It was some night. I wish my mother could have been there". A book about how he became arguably the greatest CEO ever, and he opens – and closes – it by talking about his mother.

I got to thinking about the place of a mother in a man's life. And by extension, the place of his wife and daughter(s) too. I'm writing this one for mothers though; apologies – wives and daughters.

Mothers do such a fantastic job! They believe in their kids when all they have got is promise; when there's nothing to them other than dreams and aspirations. They sacrifice a lot (more than most fathers I have met) to make sure their kids have their most basic needs (and sometimes wants) met. Mine was forced to read my earliest (and most meaningless) stories, read Shakespeare with me every afternoon for nearly two years, and listen with feigned attention while I regaled her with tales of my exploits in school – most of them imagined. 

Mothers are an awesome bunch!

If your mother is alive, drop her an SMS and tell her how much you love her. It's probably the least she deserves.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Thoughts About Work...

At about 8.30am today, a colleague said to me “it is too late to greet Chioma”. That struck me, and I got to thinking…random thoughts about work.


Richard Templar wrote and I quote, “there is a vast amount of politics, gossip, games-manship, time wasting, and socializing that goes on in the name of work. It isn’t work!” I’ve only worked for five ‘real’ employers all my life – but I daresay this is true everywhere! “Hello” here, “yello” there; “how are your kids” here, “how is your dog” there – and another day is gone!

Am I saying it is wrong to socialize at work and keep tabs on Daniel’s night life? Oh no! We spend a lot of time at work and it is totally important to make great friends there and have fun doing what we do. Furthermore, I totally understand and sympathize with people who work at jobs they don’t (or no longer) like – and for whom gossip is a form of escape; but this is worth serious thought if you still enjoy what you do and want to do it better.

More focus, less gossip – and you’ll already have a big advantage.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

What I Want To Do With The Rest Of My Life... :) Or Not ;)

What do you want to do with your life?
Where do you want to be in five years?
What do you want from life?

If you’ve been asked one or more of these questions at some time in the past, I wrote this for you; for us.


This morning, I found myself in an embarrassing situation – courtesy conflicting answers I had previously given to one or more of the questions above. After blurting out several incomprehensible and contradictory explanations for why my answers kept changing, thoroughly feeling like a fool in the process, I decided to shut up and explore the matter further afterwards.

To provide some perspective, I’d like to share some of the many different things I have wanted to be through the course of my twenty-some years…

1.    Airplane Pilot.
2.    Aeronautical Engineer (when I realized it was safer to build planes than to fly them).
3.    Neurosurgeon (thanks to Gifted Hands by Ben Carson).
4.    Mechanical Engineer (when I realized no Nigerian Universities offered Aeronautical Engineering).
5.    President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (thanks to my first of three ASUU strikes).
6.    Minister of Power and Steel (thanks to Dr. Ogunleye, best Energy Lecturer ever!).
7.    Renewable Energy Engineer (same reason as 6 above).
8.    Industrial Farmer (after rudimentary analysis of opportunities posed by Nigeria’s burgeoning population).
9.    Professional Soldier (after falling in love with the order & regimented life of the Nigerian army).
10.  Marketing Professional (same as 8 above).
11.  Consumer Goods Professional (same as 8 above).
12.  Supply Chain Professional (same as 8 above).
13. And a number of others I can't remember at the moment.

*Phew!* That is a lot, right? Right. That’s what I thought too :)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Been Long You Saw Me... :)

Between September 29 when I posted my last update and today, I have started (and quit writing) at least five different posts. As is always the case, the longer I go without posting an update – the more difficult it is to complete a post… There are a lot of random things on my mind, so I’ll just share a few of them in no particular order – and hopefully I’ll get my groove back after this one.

That's me holding the red trash-carriers :)
NYSC ended about a month ago, and I’ve had lots of time to reflect on the one year of compulsory national service. Overall, it was one great year.

I started the year with a lot of resentment stemming from the fact that I had to teach, but only a few months into service all the negative emotion was gone. My kids at Ogudu Senior Grammar School were adorable (well, mostly), and I feel proud to say that I invested my time in the future of Nigeria.

It was fun to lead the Lagos State Sanitation CDs group (Special CDs). You know, you get a different perspective to life when you stuff your Degree away and get dirty cleaning gutters at Ajegunle. By the way, those who say Ibadan is dirty absolutely need to visit Ajegunle!

Would I do it again if I had a choice? Honestly I’m not so sure. But it has come and gone, and I can move on.

These are a few of my favorite kids :) :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

(Guest Post) The Importance of Having an Intimate Relationship with God (One –on –One with God)

I admit that I might not be in the best position to write on this subject, as I am also still striving in this regard; however, I am persuaded to share my thoughts with you. Without trying to justify my ‘striving’, even Apostle Paul had envisaged this awkward plight of mine when he said in Romans 7:15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do”.

The very essence of Christianity is a personal, intimate relationship with a God that completely changes us and every aspect of our being.  As we grow in spiritual maturity, our desire for an intimate relationship with Jesus increases – but at the same time we find this pursuit difficult.  At such times we often come up with questions such as: “How do I get closer to an unseen God?” “How do I hold a conversation with someone who seems to be so non- vocal?”

A lot of our confusion today begins with the word “intimate,” which has become clichéd because of the ongoing mania with sex. The dictionary defines intimacy as a close, familiar, and affectionate personal relationship. Having an intimate relationship with God begins the minute we realize our need for Him, admit we are sinners, and in faith receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  Before the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), they both knew God on an intimate, personal level. They walked with Him in the garden and talked directly to Him. However due to the sin of man, we became separated and disconnected from God.

This personal relationship with God can be achieved through Jesus Christ and is not as hard to get as we might think, as there is no mysterious formula for getting it. I believe Christ died so we could have a robust, vital relationship with God, not just a code of rules and regulations we're forced to follow. Yes I do agree that there are certain guidelines God wants us to follow, but His sole purpose in giving them is to protect us from the consequences of sin.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Invictus; "I am the master of my fate"

Biodun Owolaja, this one is for you.

The English poet, William Ernest Henley, contacted tuberculosis of the bone at the age of 12. Over the next five years, the disease progressed to his foot, and his physicians had to amputate his leg in order to save his life. He wrote the following poem after these events, in stoic defiance of this disability. (Source: Wikipedia)

I must mention: positive change in our lives is not created by what we read; it is created by what we think about what we read. Thought, and not 'reading' does the trick.

My favorite stanza first, then the full poem afterwards:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Full poem:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
If you'd like more food for thought, also see:
If- (by Rudyard Kipling)
The Man in the Arena (by Theodore Roosevelt)

Cheers to the weekend :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

Yaaaaaay! It’s my birthday again!!! *dancing azonto*

I’ve spent some time assessing the past one year, expressing gratitude to God for keeping me, and I must say I’m positively excited about my ‘todays’ and ‘tomorrows’. Please feel free to share in my joy!!!

In keeping with a tradition I instituted three years ago, I’m sharing a few random things about me today. Here goes:

1.     My favorite song ever is Immortality, by Celine Dion. Among other things, the song tells of the eternal struggle between what we feel like doing and what we should be doing. When I’m having a lazy day, all I need do is hear the opening bars of this song – and I’m immediately ‘gingered’!

2.    My most-read book till present is Winning, by Jack Welch. I chanced on it in 2006, and I’ve read it from back-back twelve times since then. Winning is a great book for understanding “how to win” at life and career, and I daresay Mr. Welch totally nailed it in this book. However, my favorite book at the moment is The Start-Up of You, by Reid Hoffman. I think every young person should read this one!

3.    My favorite food ever is Garri (Ijebu). No exaggerations, but I have probably taken enough garri for myself and two generations to come. Guys, garri isn’t just a snack to me – it is FOOD! Given that I’m not into booze and stuff, the picture below perfectly sums up how I celebrate after achieving a milestone.
Yep, I fried those myself - and yep, I ate them all!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Makoko's Teenage Pregnancies

I'm sorry, but can someone please explain why one should bring up FOURTEEN children in this environment? Why not TWO, or THREE?
Punch Online carried an interesting feature today about Makoko and its greatly increased rate of teenage pregnancies. Like I have said more times than I can count on this blog, I find it quite strange that people who live in such abject poverty go on to have between twelve and fifteen children. Why?

Here is what Mr. Francis Agoyon Alashe (himself with FOURTEEN children) had to say about the situation:
"However, the head of the traditional chiefs in the area, 55-year-old Mr. Francis Agoyon Alashe, said the rate of teenage pregnancies in the community was nothing to worry about. “Why should we be worried? We take it as the wondrous and marvellous deed of God, that young girls at 11 or 12-year-old are getting pregnant and giving birth and that a 15-year-old boy can get a girl pregnant. In my days, we were taught that 18 was the ideal age, but times have changed,” he said.

Agoyon has 14 children — 10 boys and four girls. He said, “My first daughter, who is now 29-year-old, got pregnant at 15; the second, who is now 19-year-old, got pregnant at 16. My boys have not impregnated any girl because they are focused on their education.

“Sometimes, Egun people don’t like using condoms. Our argument is, how can you ejaculate into a rubber? There is no pleasure in that. Although common sense says the use of condom could prevent pregnancy, but we don’t need it. We like real sex, even if we give birth to many children, we don’t mind. If, for example, I get married to a 15-year-old girl, it means I will now become a younger looking man,” he said, laughing."
I am weak! Go here to read the full article, and go here to read my collection of thoughts on how we can eradicate poverty through pro-active population control and provision of quality education.

These Egun people (and indeed most of Nigeria) need quality education o!

Friday, September 06, 2013

How to Eradicate Poverty (A Simplistic Approach)

Earlier today, while thinking about a roadside mechanic in Ibadan who reportedly has TWELVE children, I developed a simplistic two-pronged approach to eradicate poverty in Nigeria and possibly other developing countries. It is not refined yet, but it is hot – so I thought to share:

1.    Teach / help people to have fewer children. The days when almost every family subsisted on produce from their farms are behind us. Back then – the larger the family, the larger the supply of ‘free labor’ – but times have changed. Today, with rising costs for everything from education to healthcare, extra-large families are no longer an asset. Many parents – their hands full with the struggle to put food on the table – cannot adequately monitor their children’s progress or afford to provide them with quality education. In a world with limited supplies of time and money – both of which are essential for raising children – it is only reasonable that people expend these resources on a fewer number of children. A mechanic who earns N30,000 a month can raise two children with more quality than if he has twelve! So far as I see it, this is unassailable logic. I must also add that fewer children equals less demand on public resources.

Given that we all can't choose where we were born or who we were born to, this could well have been me - or you...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Random Thoughts On Lamborghini Doors and Science & Technology

IBK's Lamborghini doors :)

That's me in IBK's car... Shot taken pretty late at night.

This post consists of an advert that I was NOT paid for, and random thoughts on Science and Technology (S&T) in Nigeria.

We’ll start with the advert – if you want ‘Lambo Doors’ on your car, call IBK on +234 (0) 806 555 3015 or add him on BB (2795AACF). I have known him for well over a decade, and I guarantee that you’ll be recommending him to your friends if he fixes one of these for you. Outside of ‘Lambo Doors’, IBK is VERY good with cars – and you might want to run any car-related questions or concerns through him.

Now to a few random thoughts on S&T:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The NOA and Nigeria's Exploding Population

So I just met a 22 year old trainee-mechanic who has five children from two women. (He had his first child at 16, do the Math). I am confused and do not know what to think.

We spoke for about ten minutes, and he spent the entire period denouncing the Ajimobi-led Oyo State Government for restricting activities of street traders. Evidently, one of his 'women' hawks sachet water while the other hawks Gala (a poor substitute for sausage rolls).

He is also concerned about the rising price of Education. His first-born (soon to be 6 years old) pays N3500 per term in Nursery School. He asked me to help multiply that by 5, and was evidently shocked when I told him the amount would increase as she would be in a higher class when her younger siblings enter Nursery School

In parting, he told me Ajimobi ought to focus on 'controlling' the price of Private Education rather than chasing hawkers off the roads. I was dumbfounded.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Married for 8 years and still going strong...

I came across the following post today on BBM (thanks, Mofehintoluwa Adebanjo).

It tells the story of a couple (PK and PM of DCC) who have been married for eight years, and have managed to keep their love going strong! It is a welcome departure from the usual stories of separations and divorces after months of marriage, or marriages that go dead after the honeymoon phase (anywhere from 1 year to 3 years).

Please go here to read the story of PK and PM, and how PK blew PM's mind yet again by traveling from Nigeria to the United States to surprise her. :)

1. Ehm, if you think traveling to the US solely to surprise your wife is not a big deal - remember that this couple have been married for ALL of EIGHT years!
2. I just had to share this story - because like Mofehintoluwa says: "It is great to see people living your dreams".
3. I solemnly promise, boo.

SCMOAU: We Will Cross Every Border

I awakened this morning with a song on my mind.

Briefly, before I talk about the song - I would like to go off at a tangent.

I look back at five years and three months spent studying Mechanical Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University, and it is easy to see that my finest moments were spent at the Student Christian Movement.

Was it the atmosphere of worship that permeated BOOC, then Ajose, and Sports Mainbowl every time we had service? Was it the quality of the people, both Alumni and Colleagues? Was it the support system that ensured that every man fought with his right hand and looked out for his neighbor with his left? Was it the fact that I found and made friends who have colored my world, and who will stay best friends for the rest of my life?

Saturday, July 06, 2013

My Ideal Wedding

Sitting on a stack of plastic chairs, smoldering, royally vexed about a wedding ceremony that has gone on for too long – I have decided to write about my ideal wedding. The ideal wedding I sometimes dream about; the ideal wedding I know I will never have.


My ideal wedding has a hundred guests, give or take one or two people. There are no self-appointed Aunts who have never set eyes on me, yet claim to have funded my primary education; there are no self-appointed Uncles who cannot be bothered to remember my name between sightings, yet have come to regale guests with stories of my impish behavior as a child.

The invitation cards have been carefully designed, hand-drawn even. My fifty all bear the name of the intended guests, lovingly written in my own hand. “Strictly by Invitation”, they proclaim in the lower right corner; “cash gifts” only, they proclaim in the lower left. After all, I will have all the pans and pots I require before my wedding, and have no intention to set up shop selling coolers and dinnerware afterwards.

However, if you insist, and feel compelled to buy me a gift – whichever model of the Samsung Smart TV is selling at the time will not be a bad idea. Do not worry that I may receive more than one. I know exactly what to do with them all.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wecyclers: Business Review

This morning, I discovered and immediately fell in love with a Nigerian Start-Up, Wecyclers. I thought to do a short post about the business, why I love it, and a few other random thoughts.


Wecyclers is a Nigerian business that aims to solve the urban waste challenge for households on one hand and recyclers on the other. Quite simply put, they collect recyclable waste (plastic bottles, sachets, and aluminum cans) from households, aggregate and sort this material, then sell it off to local recycling processors.

The team is headed by Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola (CEO), MBA (MIT Sloan), MA (Vanderbilt), and BS (Fisk); Alexandra Fallon (CS)), MBA (MIT Sloan), AB (Brown); and Jonathan Kola (CTO), BS (Harvard). The project was conceived during a course (Development Ventures) taken by the co-founders at MIT.


To work around the challenge of transportation in Lagos, they use a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles. I had expected they would use motorcycles (like Fan Milk does), but in an interview with Spur Magazine, Bilikiss explained that they chose bicycles in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. Smart! But this begs the question: how far can you go on bicycles?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Life is a Race

It is no secret that Mary Schmich is one of my favorite authors ever. If you are familiar with my random thoughts as expressed here, you may know that her famous article ‘Wear Sunscreen’ has greatly influenced my thinking.

I thought I would share one of my favorite lines from the piece (reproduced in the graphic above) with you.

“Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself”.

Go here if you would like to read the full article.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Random Thoughts on Advertising

I have probably been reading too much Seth again, but please stay with me while I share a thought about Advertising. This was born out of a discussion with Wale Osideinde and Fayese Joseph.


"Oyoyoyoyoyo, our Milk... Ogbonge Milki don come back again... Cowbell Milki don come back again..." Remember this advert?

I remember it, and I still have it on my phone. When it first launched, I fell in love. It was my ringtone for over a month. I sometimes missed calls because I would sing along rather than pick the call. If the purpose of this advert was to make me AWARE of Cowbell, it exceeded expectations.

BUT, did it change my preference when it came to buying milk? No. It didn't. Till today, I buy Peak Milk.


"Honeywell Noodles... Bam bam la la, bam bam la la..." Remember this too?

Sometimes, I dance along to this in the mornings as I have my bath. It was my most-played song for the OND period last year. I sent it to a couple of friends via bluetooth, then took the further liberty of setting it as THEIR ringtones!

I have NEVER bought Honeywell noodles. A few weeks ago, I left my area store without buying any noodles because they did not have Indomie (they had Honeywell, Dangote, and Golden Penny).


How does it happen that consumers fall in love with an advert, but do NOT buy the product?


I don't know. Let's ask Seth, Wale, PDK, or Tolulope Adedeji.


Advertising is broken.

When I come across adverts while watching my favorite TV shows or a Football Match, I pick up my Blackberry. You most likely do too, except it's a catchy advert you're seeing for the first time.

Sometimes, you choose to try the product. You go out of your way to buy A, in place of your usual detergent; or Z, in place of your usual toothpaste.

It mostly ends the same way. The reality of the product is quite different from the advert you saw; or it is not significantly different from the brand you already use and love. So you return to your 'first love'.


Advertising is not so broken.

I spoke with a Marketing executive at H*********l who claimed their sales spiked after the adverts. Good for them. He declined to comment when I asked if they sustained the new sales levels for much longer.

I daresay a lot of people tried Honeywell after seeing the advert for the first time, then went back to eating Indomie (OMG I love Indomie!). Don't quote me anywhere.


Sometimes last year, I asked my brother to buy me milk and he bought Cowbell because that was the only available brand. I poured it into my bowl of garri (yes, I love milk and garri) - but did not like the taste; so I gave away the entire bowl :(.

Also last year, Honeywell gave me two packs of Noodles for free as part of their NYSC camp trial-activation. I cooked one of the two on leaving camp. It was probably good, but my taste-buds mutinied. They wanted the familiar taste of Indomie. I flushed the Noodles down the toilet.


What is the point of this note?


I did not write this to people who have spent 20 years in Marketing. They probably won't even read stuff from 'boys' like me YET. I wrote this to entrepreneurs (amen) and business developers like myself (adjusts halo), who create and run advertising campaigns with very scarce resources.


I don't have answers. I only have more questions. Are you looking for product awareness, or actual sales? Are you willing to wait (trust me, it's a long wait) for awareness to translate into sales - IF it ever will?


1. I love Honeywell Wheat Flour!!! I'll never buy another brand unless people start to die after having it for dinner :D
2. I ABSOLUTELY love Cowbell Choco!!! I just can't stand Cowbell Milk!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Things We Do For Love - The End

This (final) episode contains POV paragraphs from Feyi and Mofesola. In keeping with our usual trend, Feyi is speaking in real-time while Mofesola is describing past events. To make it easier to read, I have uploaded Mofe's paragraphs in bold typeface - versus Feyi's paragraphs which are in normal typeface.

This episode is continued from Episode 1 here, 2 here, 3 here, 4 here, 5 here, 6 here, and 7 here.

If you enjoyed reading this, go here to follow me on twitter for more of my randomness.

Thank you.


I had never been more surprised in my entire life.

After five years of searching endlessly, of walking round Lagos till I knew enough to correct street names on Google Maps, of borrowing money from Feyi to buy countless shirts and ties, I had a job! And not just any job, but like the MFM Pastor said, it was “isé tó maa tán ìsé”.

I did not even know where to start from. Should I call my parents first? Should I call Andrew and ask him to swear that this was not an elaborate joke? Should I borrow four hundred naira to activate weekly BIS and read the email for myself? Should I head for the nearest church and shout twenty-four hallelujahs? Should I dance naked – like I once swore to do?

I could not even scream, dance, or leap for joy. I would have done all those two or three years before. All I wanted to do was sit there and reflect on the past five years.

My phone rang again after a few moments, punctuating my reverie.

“This man where are you?” It was Alhaji.

“Ah, Alhaji. I’ve found her.”

“And you couldn’t…”

“Sorry Alhaji. I’ll call you back.” I said, cutting him short and terminating the call. This was my moment. He had no business sharing it with me.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Seven

Shivers run down my spine as I shuffle into the rundown hotel. It has been a long walk from the bus stop and my feet feel like heavy logs of wood. I am hot, sweaty, and worst of all – damp patches are rapidly forming at my armpits. I hate damp patches, and I hate the nervousness they signify.

I stand in the poorly lit reception, awaiting the receptionist. A run-down sign in the corner proclaims “home away from home”, but this place does not feel like home in the slightest. The way I feel is somewhat akin to what Daniel must have felt as he walked into the lion’s den all those years ago.

“Can you please turn that sign away?” I blurt out to the receptionist when he finally arrives. He peers at me, his spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose, then quietly turns it away. He hands me a form and waits in silence as I fill it out. I imagine that he is sneering down at me as I sign my name “Kehinde Helen”, so I glance up covertly – but he is dozing – neck bent and drool forming in his mouth. I clear my throat to call his attention and he snaps back to life momentarily. He collects the form and money, then hands me a bronze key with a broken key-chain. A boy of about ten years old, presumably his son, volunteers to lead me to my room, so I head off after him. I turn after a few steps, intending to ask the Receptionist if the air-conditioning works – but he is dozing again.

I press a hundred naira note into the boy’s hands and lock the door after he leaves. I am grateful for the few moments I will now spend alone. I feel a strange calm, somewhat like the lull before a storm. I look around the room, absently, taking in my surroundings. Strangely, the room is clean; cleaner than I expect given the run-down façade of the building. I bend to look under the bed on a hunch, and my intuition is confirmed when an irritated horde of cockroaches swarms out from under it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Six


I was immediately thrown into turmoil. What could possibly have happened to my sister? Had she suffered another ulcer crisis linked to her poor eating habits? Should I continue towards Surulere to meet with Alhaji and start the process of finding Feyi, or turn in the opposite direction and head for Duro Soleye to be with my sister?

Those few moments were the craziest of my life, and then the situation became clear to me in an instant.

My sister, Titilola, was in an undergraduate program at the American University of Nigeria, in Yola. I had dropped her off at the airport a few days ago, waited to see her board the plan, and had seen it rise into the skies. Titilola was mortally scared of air travel, ever since we lost a cousin in the Dana air crash. Every time she was due to fly, she would send texts to the entire family requesting their prayers. I had gotten no such text. The chances were Titilola was very much in school, in Yola.

That then left only one person who could be mistaken as my sister, or who would tell a nurse that I was her brother – for whatever reason: Feyi.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Five

I stand outside my former employer’s office, my mind awash with memories. I know that I will turn and leave if I do not walk through these doors immediately, yet I cannot bring myself to turn the knob. “This is a bad idea”, I think to myself; “why on earth would he do me a favor after all that has gone down between us?”

I shake my head sadly and decide to leave. But I cannot bring myself to walk away, so I linger a little - exploring the various memories and associations I have with this place. And then suddenly, I feel someone creep up behind me.

I do not want to turn my head so that I do not betray my awareness of the fact that I am not alone. I look intently at the glass door, hoping to catch a reflection; but again – suddenly – I know who it is. I feel the force of his presence. I feel his eyes drilling a hole into me from behind, and knowing him well – they must be focused on my nether regions. Now I smell him; the strong smell of his perfume and aftershave. This is not good, but it is happening already.

“Feyi”, he says, hoarsely.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Four

This post is continued from part three here.

A myriad of thoughts ran through my mind as I made for Surulere.

For starters, my brain went into overdrive trying to fathom why Feyi would lie about her destination on the previous day. In the six years since we had been together, Feyi had only lied to me twice; and she had apologized profusely afterwards on both occasions. The first had been about an E grade she was ashamed of, and the second was told to get me out of the room while they planned a surprise for my birthday.

Then there was the matter of the two men who had been pursuing her. I was clueless on that front. Men? Pursuing Feyi? Why? For What? Feyi. My Feyi, who was known for smiling at strangers; my Feyi, who could not hurt a fly. Why would anyone be pursuing my Feyi?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Three

This post is continued from part two here.

My feet sink into the lush red rug of Father’s study with every step I take. I am nervous, afraid even; and my gait is unsteady. Mother seldom asks to speak with me, but she has today; and I have no idea what we are to discuss. I do not like the formal manner of the summons and the suspense – and cannot wait to get this over with.

Unsure if she is here already, I hesitate after a few steps. And then I smell her. The soft, sweet fragrance of her perfume wafts through the air – and all I need to do is follow my nose. Now I see her. Stately as always, she is seated at Father’s antique reading table; bent over her worn copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

The thick rug masks my footfalls, so I approach her silently from behind. I run my eyes over her full head of grey hair, desperate to find a black strand. Alas, there is none! I make a mental note to spend more time with Mother; she is aging fast. I let her read in silence for a while, then I clear my throat to call her attention.

“Fèyí, mo ti ní kí o yé ma se bí olóngbò! Stop sneaking up on me!”

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Things We Do For Love - Two

This post is continued from part one here.

When I and Feyi first started to see each other regularly, she made it a point to peruse my text messages and Blackberry chats. She was quite open about her reasons. Her previous boyfriend had cheated on her with another girl for a year under her nose, and she was not ready to let that happen again. She trusted me, she said; but she had trusted him too, and see how he repaid her trust.

I was really convinced about our relationship, so I decided to humor her. After all, it was a good way to prove I planned to ‘stay’. I removed the password lock on my phone and let her have full access. Because she had no ulterior motives for ransacking my phone, she unlocked hers likewise – and expected me to review her communications similarly. When I explained that I had no reasons to, she insisted – insinuating that I was not interested in the little details of her life.

Therefore, I immediately sensed something was wrong when she started to hide her phone. She would still check mine when she visited, but she started to leave hers in her handbag. When I asked for it, she would fiddle with it for a while before passing it over – and when I got it, I would find that her conversations had been cleared. Apart from that, there were increased visits to a certain ‘Uncle’ who lived on the island, and she would become defensive when I asked about recent changes to her daily schedule.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Things We Do For Love - One

As I run, in a daze, towards the bus stop, I become aware of the rain. It is pouring in sheets, white sheets, and I must wipe my face with my hands after every few strides to maintain a semblance of visibility. The water soaks through my clothes thoroughly, causing my chiffon blouse to achieve a degree of transparency ordinarily reserved for glass. I glance down at the swell of my breasts, accentuated by the contrast between my black bra and my now-transparent blouse, and I am suddenly grateful that the young men gathered on the street to play football a few moments ago have been dispersed by the rain.

My luxuriant hair, originally combed backwards, is now matted; loose strands find their way into my eyes and cause my eyelids to snap shut in reflex. My eyes hurt, but I am not sure if this is from hair-oil getting into my eyes or the incessant tears. By now I have cried non-stop for about ten minutes. I am grateful for the rain, because it swallows up my tears like drops in a big river. The smell of wet sand from the very first rains of the year fills the air, reminding me of childhood in Ibadan. I want to stop and savor it, but I cannot. All I want to do now is get away from here; far, far away.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Your Marks, Get Set, Marry!

A few years ago, I participated in a marriage seminar where something happened that really struck me. After concluding a session titled ‘Like Father like Son, like Mother like Daughter’, the facilitator asked the audience to raise their hands if they wanted marriages that were (at most) as happy as their parents’. We were at least 350 young people in the audience, and only one lady raised her hand.

Today I pose that same question to you. Do you want a marriage that is (at most) as happy as your parents’?


I am grateful for my parents, both of whom are Pastors. Among other things, I have learnt a lot from various marriage-counselling sessions they have ‘hosted’ over the years. I have seen marriages disintegrate, and worst of all – I have seen children suffer the effects of ‘failed’ marriages. Failed marriages are real, and they are a scary prospect!

I have seen husbands splurge on luxuries while their wives went without necessities! I have seen wives refuse to speak to their husbands for weeks!! I have seen husbands reduce their wives to the role of ‘cook and sex-slave’ – regardless of her level of education!!!

All these people were very much in love with their spouses at some point. They used phrases like “I love you tori torun”, called themselves “baby” and “bobo”, and shared plans for a ‘great future’!

So, what happened?


The curse of youth is to assume that we are magically exempt from the problems of our parents. ‘Falling’ in love is magical, and we get the feeling that ‘this’ is meant to be and we are destined to live happily ever after. But then, time passes and the magic recedes. Even with the best intentions - the ‘feeling’ continues to die, problems creep in, resentments build and communication breaks down. The magic of love is lost.

Good intentions are never enough.

If we are to build happy marriages, different from many of those we see around – we need to learn, and work to do things differently. Teachers can teach what we need to know – but the responsibility to ‘do’ remains ours.


In ‘On Your Marks, Get Set, Marry!’ Temitope Akinyemi attempts to teach what we need to know.

Across fifty-five chapters, she discusses themes as diverse as ‘cooking’, ‘arguments’ and conflict resolution, mentoring, ‘baggage’ and ‘emotional clutter’ from previous relationships, and ‘communication’. In the staccato style that is necessary to cut through the ‘noise’ that badgers us from all sides today – she uses phrases like “stop sulking, grow up!” “Guy, if you can’t handle the thought of a more successful wife, you’re yet to be ready for marriage” and “If your opinion doesn’t count in the relationship, then your presence doesn’t count either”.

She addresses men who believe women are only good for food and sex; women who have refused to marry because they await tall, dark, handsome (and rich) dudes; and couples that go into debt to run big wedding ceremonies – then cannot afford amenities like a refrigerator and cable-TV after the ceremony. She also addresses couples who confuse sex with love; the situation of “mama’s boys”; and high maintenance relationships.


Are you single and ready to mingle? Read through the book, think over it, and allow your thoughts to influence your actions accordingly. Are you in a ‘maritally-intended relationship’? Study through the book with your partner, and strike issues at their roots even before they arise. Are you married already? Read through the book with your spouse, and discuss the themes in relationship to your marriage. Do you know someone who is getting married soon? Buy their aso-ebi, make plans to buy them that Haier Thermocool cooler, and yes – buy them a copy of the book before the wedding!

Remember, good intentions are never enough!



Call Koye on 08168930124 (MTN) or Busola on 08153100374 (Glo) to order copies.
A few paraphrases are taken from 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' by John Gray