Monday, April 27, 2015

Please Donate to the Nepal Earthquake Response

I find it very difficult to ask people (on Facebook and offline) to give to supposedly faraway causes like this, fully aware that we face our own fair of issues at home that require our giving and action.

So, I'll ask you instead to spare a thought - and maybe a prayer - for the people of Nepal, many of whom have had their lives upended by an earthquake.

And if you can, please give too. For every $ you donate, various corporations including Facebook will match your donation, such that your $1 will become $30 on average.

We are the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Piece for Mama -- Happy Birthday!

At a funeral for a friend’s father a few months ago, I couldn’t hold back tears at the nice epitaphs in the program. I wished he could read the nice things his progeny had written about him, and hoped they’d told him those sweet things when he was alive. I decided that day to frequently write about my parents while they’re still here to read.

This one is for my mother, who is a year older today. If you cannot read it all, please skip through to the end and please leave a comment. I’ll print them all out, and have a ball reading them to her this weekend.

Beautiful is your name;
Wonderful is what you are to me;
It's you I see in my dreams;
Everyday and I pray for you;
Queen of my life;
You're so beautiful mama;
You're beautiful;
Emi n wa mama kan;
Ta lori yeye yen;
Mama mi o roju ri;
And that's why I'm loving you.

I returned home from junior secondary school one day in a rage. My schoolbag had fallen apart the previous day, and left with no option – I carried my books to school in my mother’s handbag. The humiliation was epic! I was taunted everywhere I turned. Two classmates walked behind me as I went home, teasing me as we went. I dashed into our house, murderous, looking for a knife; and ran into my mother. A lecture about murder quickly turned into a discussion about living within your means and ended with us reading from The Richest Man in Babylon. I have since forgotten the students who made me feel so miserable, but the lessons from that discussion will stay with me forever.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On the Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa...

News media is rife with reports of Nigerians and other African immigrants killed in xenophobic attacks in South Africa. The recent outbreak of violence follows comments by Zulu King Zwelithini that foreigners should leave because they are taking jobs from citizens. Other citizens have expanded this by stating immigrants are undermining locally owned businesses. The pictures and videos are horrifying, showing disgruntled citizens driven by an entitlement mentality.

NANS has threatened reprisal attacks and some have called for boycotts of South African owned businesses. Neither course of action is advisable. In this context, boycotts will not achieve anything we cannot more quickly achieve via diplomacy.  They also have the unintended consequence of harming our economy, as these companies employ thousands of Nigerians and pay millions in taxes. Secondly, harming innocent South Africans living in Nigeria is unjust, signals we are no better than those whose actions we condemn, and may lead to an escalation in the violence.

The Nigerian High Commission will begin evacuating Nigerians interested in returning to Nigeria from today. This is a good start, as we must ensure their safety above all. We must do more for them, however. We must communicate clearly to the South African government that we will no longer treat attacks on our citizens and business interests lightly, and we must pressure them into arranging commensurate compensation for businesses destroyed during these attacks.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Bring Back Our Girls --- Please!

Idowu Adebote, my maternal uncle, went missing over 25 years ago. I never met him, and all I know about him is from stories my Mother has told. I am told he was strong, handsome, and wilful. I am also told he walked off into the sunset one evening, never to return. It is 25 years now, and the family continues to search. It is 25 years now, and they still investigate reports of his sighting with all seriousness.

I have two siblings, a sister and a brother, and they mean the world to me. As a first-born “big brother”, I feel extremely responsible for them. We share a common history, forged in shared memories of joys and pains. They have known me longer than most people, and are most likely to stick with me till the end – regardless of what the future holds. I cannot imagine how it would feel if one of them went missing.