Category Archives: Uncategorized

A LITTLE PRAYER

 

A LITTLE PRAYER

How do I start?

Where do I begin?

Just what would I say?

Who do I pray for?

How long do I pray?

 

We are all people,

In God’s hands;

Pray for people around me,

Wishing me well all the time,

Bless their souls.

 

Some people have been alone all their life,

Longing to find someone,

Who will be close to their heart,

No one to talk to when their heart breaks;

People with no interest in anything,

Mood is low all the time,

No pleasure in anything,

Sometimes thinking life not worth living;

Have no fear, God is closer than you thought,

So, I say a little prayer.

 

No pride in failure,

But no use burying my head

Under the pillow,

So, toddle on I will,

My faith to lead me on,

Knowing my God will do it again,

Like He has done before,

So, I say a little prayer………………

……………….

EXCERPT from ONE FOR THE LORD: Prose and Poems For Believers

WHAT IS A MOTHER’S WORTH?

What would you do if you were told that your mother was dying of an incurable curse, and you too, were not exempt from the wrath of the gods? Imagine that your mother has lost seven children in their infancy and she now fights for her life. Will you leave her to her fate or fight to keep her alive? Can you risk your own life so that she can have hers?

I believe we all have our own answers to those questions, depending on how much we care about our mother. But this is exactly the situation that a teenage boy called Okambi faces. It is a testing time for him. He has no doubt that his mother has inherited the curse. The sign is so obvious. He needs no other proof. The repercussion is an inevitable death. That’s what they have told him. That’s what he knows. But there is always a way out of a predicament. He will not let his mother die. And he is determined to beat the odds. Desperate to find the cure, he is prepared to do whatever it takes, even risking his own life.

Gbagala, the only cure for the curse, lies with King Bam Dakuro, the powerful ruler of the Wilderness of Wisdom. Okambi dares to go on the dangerous journey. But he has to undertake the journey alone. In the Wilderness of Wisdom, no one fights for you. No one carries your burden. You do it alone, and die alone. He may get lost in the wilderness, never to return home. But it is a race against time. His mother has only a few days to live. Without the cure, she will certainly die.

Okambi travels on a journey never undertaken by a human being. Even the greatest Medicine Men can only make brief spiritual visits, never in person. There is no road map to the sacred wilderness. There’s no day or night. But he must find the palace. He must find the key to unlock what the gods have locked. He must appeal to the ancestors through King Bam Dakuro and return home with Gbagala.

He mingles with half-bodied beings. He has to eat what they eat and do what they do. He mingles with invisible beings. He even fights Kiliwi, the formidable Giant of Ilu and looks at death in the eye. He must find the cure for the curse. That’s his mission, and it’s all that matters. That’s his mother’s worth.

THE LIZARD BY MY WINDOW

THE LIZARD BY MY WINDOW

He stands there,
Don’t know if he sees me,
He raises his head,
Because he’s a gecko.

As I stand there in a stare,
Wondering what’s on his mind,
He swirls in a tick,
Turns back with a smile.

What’s brought this?
Something’s dropped
From his gnash;
Limb of a cockroach!

The lizard by my window
Eats all the time;
He has no leftover when he eats,
No wonder he has no friend.

Excerpts from PAGES OF MY HEART

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

UNDER THE MANGO TREE

Under the Mango tree,

There we sit,

With our eyes on top,

Waiting for a ripe one to drop.

Under the Mango tree,

Everything is free,

We do our playing,

And go all crazy.

Under the Mango tree,

We pay no fee,

Since the fruits are free;

Our joy is awesome,

As we watch the fruits blossom.

Excerpts from PAGES OF MY HEART

KEEPING NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

KEEPING NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
The New Year’s day comes with celebrations all across the globe. It is an important landmark in the life of everything in the world, living or nonliving. Not only is it significant as a chronological entity. But it is also a time for self auditing. It provides one an opportunity to reflect on all the events in the previous year. It is a magical time when you want to put all the pains, anger, disappointments, etc behind you. You decide to set goals for yourself. So you draw up your “New Year Resolutions.”

I visited my friend on New Year’s day. Bobo and I have been friends since childhood. As usual, we discussed various issues ranging from politics and religion to football. We both shared stories of all that had happened to us in the past year. Some of the stories made us laugh. Others brought tears to our eyes. But that’s life. Whether we like it or not, good and bad always walk together.

“This year is going to be different,” Bobo said with a tight fist. “I have made my New Year Resolutions. It’s going to be different this year.”

“Really?” I squeezed my eye.

I couldn’t help laughing. Bobo, like most people make New Year Resolutions. So that was nothing new. I recalled that one of my good friend’s resolutions last year was to be more organised. He confidently resolved to keep a tidy library. I sat down on the only seat that had nothing on it in my friend’s study. Heaps of unopened letters and journals with thick layers of dust on them made the room look like the waste recycling centre. My eyes caught one of my books that I gave him as a present last year. I pulled it out of the pile of his “favourite books.” As I dusted the book and many others on that row, I wondered what would happen to his resolutions again this year.

“Trust me, my friend,” he said. “This year will be different.”

I must admit, Bobo is not alone. Like most people, Bobo makes his Resolutions on New Year’s day. But only few people make the changes they pledge to make. In fact, studies have found that “43% of people who made resolutions broke their “promise” within the first few days or weeks, and 66% didn’t make it past February.”

I stopped making New Year Resolutions a few years ago. Of course, I believe in making changes. But I don’t wait till the first day of January to make that decision. You can make changes anytime and don’t need to wait till the New Year’s day. The important thing is the decision to make those resolutions. You can decide on the day you want to start. It can be the beginning of the week, month or year. As for me, my landmark is my birthday. That’s when I make my own resolutions.
Whatever the time you choose to make your resolutions the most important thing is to keep them. The following tips may help you to achieve them:

Keep them simple and specific: You may have several goals you want to achieve. Perhaps you have the desire to change many things about yourself. Trying to achieve all of them at the same time is likely to cause disappointment. You are more likely to keep your resolutions if you focus on one or two of your most important goals.

Make realistic resolutions: Some goals may be desirable. But are they achievable? You should not aim for goals that are clearly unachievable. Examine your previous experiences and try to figure out what led to failure. In setting your goals, think of factors that may prevent you from achieving them and whether you can deal with those factors.

Write them down: Write your resolutions clearly and boldly and display them where you can always see them. By so doing, you constantly remind yourself of your commitment.
Set Small Goals or Goals in small chunks: Break your goals into clear short-term manageable bites. It is easier to see how well you are doing when you put the road to achieving your goals in phases. Success in those short-term phases will ultimately lead to achieving the main goal.

Power of Repetition: Habit is second nature. It is one of the most difficult things to change. You need to consciously repeat the new habit. If you find yourself drifting back to the old habit, keep on your determination. Don’t flog yourself. Instead, keep reminding yourself that there is no habit that you cannot change. It may help to share your decision with friends and family and let them know how they can help. However, you must put yourself in charge.

Reasons for the change: Constantly remind yourself why you want to make this change. This is especially vital in those moments when the going gets tough and you feel like giving up. You know why you are doing what you are doing. Let that spur you into action. Do whatever it takes to achieve your goal.

Reward yourself: When you achieve each of the chunks of your goals, congratulate yourself. Even if during the process, you have made one or two failures, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have done your best. Start on the next phase and keep going. At the end of it all reward yourself with something really good.

Those of you who have made new year resolutions, I hope you will keep them. All the best.

CHRISTMAS REMINISCENCES

IMG_1541To say that Christmas is special is an understatement. The religious aspect of Christmas is unquestionable. But there are many things that make Christmas a unique festival. In the weeks leading to Christmas it always looks as if the ground would cave in under the feet of enthusiastic shoppers.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, I am a last minute shopper. I guess that’s because I am a man. Men typically leave their Christmas shopping to Christmas Eve. There’s something exciting about shopping at the very last minute. Because of time constraints you don’t have time to think long. You just grab whatever you can find but you must grab it before another chap gets hold of it.

Christmas in Africa where I grew up is not the same as in Europe. When I was a child there were no computers, no computer games, no mobile phones, iPads, etc. It was more of friends and families affairs with a great emphasis on the religious meaning of Christmas. Food was in abundance. Oh, I love Christmas in Africa.

Christmas time provides an opportunity for people to sell their animals.

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In my place, goat is almost always on the Christmas menu. People would try any means to bring their goats home.

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When I was a child I used to wonder what was in the minds of the animals whenever I looked at them on the tether. I wondered if they sensed the risks that Christmas posed to them. They tried in their own way to escape their ordeal, including hiding in unusual places.

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But Christmas is a time to show love.

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It is also a time for peace and reconciliation.

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And a time of hope

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Thank you for visiting my site. I hope you have had a good Christmas and I wish you a happy new year. Please continue to visit my site as 2016 will be full of mind blowing blogs.

WATCH YOUR TONGUE

IMG_1300Watch Your Tongue

I don’t like making or receiving phone calls on public transport. I prefer texting, not so much because of confidentiality, but because sometimes that could be a nuisance to other people. I get irritated when people’s phones ring with some weird ring tones or when the person next to you speaks so loudly that your ear drums are in danger or in a language that you don’t understand. There’s one phone that I cannot ignore. That’s my brother’s. Femi will call you repeatedly until he hears: “Hello!” from the other end.

On this day, I was on the bus home after a busy shift. I heaved a sigh of relief that I found a nice seat where I could just settle quietly and hopefully have a nap. On a good day, it would take an hour to get home. The guy sitting next to me smiled, as I took my seat. He had a gentlemanly look. I smiled back, thinking, Not the type of person who would spend the whole time on the phone! Having made sure that I had set my phone to vibration, I settled down. I was about to dose off when my phone started to vibrate. At first, I ignored it as I always did when on the bus. My eyes blinked several times as the caller’s name appeared: Femi. “Oh no, not now,” I grumbled, as I put the phone back into my pocket. But I knew, of course, that I was joking. Femi would never leave a message on the smartphone. He would try and try until I picked it. So I wasn’t surprised when my phone vibrated again seconds later.

“Hello!” I answered, hoping that the signal would be poor and I could tell him that I would call back when I got home.

“Bawo!” Femi replied, breathing heavily. And that was it. My brother was unstoppable. Thirty years abroad have not robbed him of a good control of the Yoruba language. My sleep disappeared from my eyes as I kept nodding, laughing and replying with encouraging “O ti o!” “Beni!” and “Rara!” I was glad when Femi said, “O dabo,” signalling the end of our dialogue.

Although I did actually enjoy talking to my brother, I felt terrible that I had done something that I really disliked. I turned to the guy sitting next to me, and with guilt conspicuously written on my face, I said, “Sorry about this.”

“Ko si wahala,” he replied with the most amazing smile.

I nearly collapsed. I had not expected a guy of a different colour to understand my language particularly on a bus in a foreign country. “Oh, my God!” I screamed, ignoring the attention of the other passengers. The guy surely heard and understood everything that I discussed with my brother. Imagine what would have happened if I had said something bad about him or discussed things that were somehow implicating.

“Lola,” I said as I stretched out for a handshake.

“Tom,” he replied, still smiling.

Son of an oil engineer, Tom Solomon grew up in Lagos. Talking to Tom in my native language gave me a feeling that I could not describe. It was like talking to my own brother. We subsequently exchanged our contact details and have since formed a strong friendship.

This reminds me of Dr Chucks’s encounter with Pam Boggy, his medical student under Dr Braver. He had not expected to find a girl who could speak pidgin English thousands of miles away. That moment of discovery sent powerful impulses through both of them and formed a good soil for love to blossom.

Both stories had positive outcomes, one resulting in a lasting friendship, and the other in romance. My encounter with Tom could potentially have resulted in embarrassment had I assumed that the guy sitting next to me had no chance of understanding my language. The power of language must not be underestimated. Next time you sit next to someone who apparently looks different, there’s a chance he/she may understand your language. Watch your tongue.

What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

IMG_1204What is it like to have dinner with Dr Braver?

I accepted the invitation to visit the Bravers with mixed feelings. On one hand, I could not imagine that a person who I perceived to hate me so much could invite me for a meal. I thought he was looking for an opportunity to humiliate me. He had done that in the front of patients, nurses, his secretary and medical staff. Now, he needed to ridicule me before his family. My other mind was telling me to give him a chance. Maybe he had a different side to his character. A normal aspect outside of work. Other doctors and nurses had been talking about the Bravers’ party for days. All the people that I mentioned it to indicated they would attend.

I was the last guest to arrive. At first, I was hesitant to join the guests. I stood on the front corridor hoping that someone would pop outside to have a smoke or something or a late arrival would turn up and we could go in together. There was a lot of talking and giggling going on. I could hear the chink of glasses amidst the chatter and laughter. Everyone seemed to be in full gear.

“My African friend!” Dr Braver exclaimed with his usual shallow smile, holding a large half empty bottle of Vodka in one hand.

“Good evening,” I said to Dr Braver and his wife. “Thank you for inviting me.”

“Oh, it’s always a pleasure,” Mrs Braver replied. Mrs Braver stood by her husband, smiling warmly as she welcomed me into the lavishly decorated banquet hall. She wore an Indian Satin with a matching heavy gold necklace. Dr Braver was looking really posh in his navy blue dinner suit, I almost did not recognise him.

We had expected to have Chinese take-away for the Christmas party, as Dr Braver had said earlier, because his wife could not cook! In truth, I could not say for sure if Mrs Braver actually did the cooking or someone else did. To be honest, I cared less who cooked the food and whether it was Chinese take-away or Cantonese sit down to eat. All I knew was that it looked good and there was a lot of it. The three long tables had all sorts of food displayed and this jumbo was capped with a large whole roasted pock that stood strategically in the middle of all the other food. I had never seen so much food displayed, even back home in Africa.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I cannot say, ‘feel at home,’ as you are already at home. The only thing to say, is that no one leaves until all the food is gone,” Dr Braver said, as we took our seats according to our names on the table.

I wanted to quickly eat my food and get out of this place. But that would look uncivilised. Besides, many of the food items on the table were strange to me. I didn’t have any problem with the pork and rice but I couldn’t figure out how to combine the various items.

“Here you go,” Mrs Braver said, as she placed the plate full of rice, roast potatoes, diced carrots, sprouts and the shin of pork in front of me. She must have thought that I needed a tonne of food to support my one hundred and twenty kilograms body. And she seemed to know my weakness. Meat. I could eat a whole cow.

“Thank you, mam,” I said. She didn’t seem to mind me referring to her as “mam,” which made me feel really relaxed.

I was struggling with the bone of the pork when Dr Braver stood up. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I have no doubt you are all enjoying yourselves. Everybody seems happy. I am glad. When you are happy I am happy.”

We all clapped. Not really because of what he had said but there had been a lot of ethanol in our brains.

“And my African friend, you don’t have to crack your canines. There is enough flesh. Makes me wonder what you give your dogs in Africa,” he said and sipped from his bottle of Vodka.

“Oh, we give them plenty of chocolate,” I replied.

And everyone broke into laughter. Initially some people did not understand the joke but as the meaning became clear the laughter was truly unending.

“That’s a good one,” he said, after sipping again at his Vodka.

After the meal, we all dispersed into small gatherings. Dr Braver had undone his tie. He was no more wearing his jacket. His trouser was partly unbuttoned. He sat down in one of the settees, humming a tune with his pipe at the corner of his mouth and a newly opened bottle of Vodka beside him. Completely pissed off, he responded, “Yes,” to every question his wife asked him.

I got back to my flat just before midnight, feeling like I had swallowed an elephant. And as I lay in bed, massaging my stomach, I could not stop wondering what to make of Dr Braver. One thing was certain, the food was tasty and I had a lot of it.

Can we learn from the eagle and eaglet?

IMG_1282.PNGCan we learn from the eagle and eaglet?

If you try and you don’t succeed try again, again … and again!

To say that I have seen an eagle is, stating the obvious, especially as I grew up in Africa. Eagles fascinate me in several ways. They have a superb vision with eyes that are designed to see both far and near. This endows them the ability to hunt from a distance, sitting high on top of a tree or hills. They can spot a prey several miles away. To succeed in life you must have a clear vision. Know what you want and go after it. Don’t limit your vision. If you read the biography of many great leaders and successful people, past and present, you will find they all have this characteristic.

Eagles are brave and strong. The eagle does not mind the size of its prey. It will always give a good fight to overpower its prey no matter how strong or big. Successful people are fearless. They stand up to challenges and confront them head on.

I never knew the eagle was a wise creature until I watched a scene demonstrating the fascinating, yet untold, characteristic of the eagle. An eagle flew pass majestically, seemingly casually. But all the animals and birds got the message. They knew nothing was casual about the mighty eagle. Hence, they flew and raced helter skelter to take shelter. Only the tortoise was left, as it could not race like others. So it reluded into the protection of its shell. As I watched the eagle landing on the tortoise, I said to myself, “You must be joking!” wondering how the bird would crack the tortoise shell. The eagle turned the tortoise over, trying to gain access to the flesh within the hard shell but all its efforts were unsuccessful. What really fascinated me was that it picked this large tortoise between its claws and flew as high as possible and then released the tortoise. As the helpless, presumably dazed or dead tortoise cascaded down, the bird followed it onto a predetermined rock. The tortoise landed heavily shattering its shell. As I watched the bird devouring its prey, I couldn’t help admiring its wisdom. But it also demonstrated another characteristic. Perseverance. Rather than give up, the eagle thought a way out of its difficulty and was able to crack the shell. We can take a simple message from this scene. Crack the shell of your problem so you can see the goodness hidden within the shell. Never give up.

The eagle seizes every opportunity. It is tenacious. Whenever there’s a bush fire eagles fly high above the flames watching animals and birds that are trying to escape from the blaze. These become easy targets as they are desperate and confused, looking to escape from their predicament. Similarly, when storm comes other birds fly away. But the eagle spreads its massive wings, allowing the current to propel it to greater heights. Whenever there’s a problem we should try and get something out of it rather than bury our heads in the sand or grumble. Look at every change as an opportunity to turn it into a gain. You cannot expect to rise to greater heights unless you are prepared to fly above the storm.

Recently, I was lucky to watch the eagle teaching its baby how to fly. Eagles are known for their ability to nurture their young. Mother eagle allowed the eaglet to patch on its back. She flew high and suddenly swooped out from under the eaglet and allowed it to drop. The eaglet struggled but couldn’t fly. Realising that it hadn’t mastered the art of flying, the mother eagle quickly flew under the terrified eaglet and allowed it to rest on her wing as she returned it to the nest. Later, the mother eagle pushed the eaglet out of the nest. Mother eagle must have considered it either to have mastered the skill or expected to be matured enough to fly. She simply watched as the baby continued to drop. Left on its own, the eaglet spread its wings and gallantly made the first flight and that was it. In life, we can’t always succeed the first time. Sometimes we have a mentor. But we can’t depend on people for ever. The eaglet tried several times with the support of its mother. Like the mother eagle, we should empower people under us, teach and show them the right way to do things. Like the eaglet, however, we must know that we too have to play our own part. It was only when the eaglet realised that it needed to learn to fly to survive that it did. So it is with us.
Let’s learn from the eagle and the eaglet. If we try but fail we have to try again and again.

 

World Cup: My Thoughts

imageWorld Cup: My Thoughts

The World Cup could quite rightly be regarded as the most popular international sporting activity. Unlike previous tournaments, I watched all the matches featured in the 20th World Cup. Like previous matches, people made predictions as to which teams were likely to play the finals, and most importantly, which team would win the coveted cup.

No one would have predicted that Spain, the then cup holder would be knocked out so soon or Italy and France would not qualify in the group stage. It was unthinkable that Brazil, that one would bet on winning the finals, suffered a humiliating 7-1defeat in the hands of Germany.

As I watched the matches, my thoughts were challenged in many ways. I watched as people danced, laughed and threw themselves on the floor when their teams scored. I also watched people crying, as if they were bereaved, when their teams lost. Of course, there had been incidents in previous matches that had caused anger or controversy. I remembered when England lost to Argentina through a goal that was thought to be scored by Diego Maradona’s hand. This was accepted as a genuine goal although many people believed the legend used his hand, dubbed ‘Hand of God‘ to score the goal.

Whilst the unexpected winners and losers might have surprised me, one thing I could not get out of my head was the incident where a player bit another on the shoulder. I cast my mind back decades ago when I was a kid playing on the village Primary School lawn or on the sandy beach. I could not remember a time when a kid bit another kid during matches. And yet a professional millionaire footballer with international fame allegedly did that in the 2014 World Cup.

I could not help asking myself, “Why is it that human beings have made ‘Winning’ a do or die phenomenon? Is it one of those unwritten natural characteristics of human beings?” I also asked myself, “Why is it that some teams are so good that they always do well and others play so poorly you could bet they would lose?” As I watched the matches, my thoughts took me back through previous tournaments. It was not by political strength, country size, military or economic strength that countries had won. Champions were not made by all these virtues but by the quality of the teams.

Winning is great and, of course, it’s rewarding for the players who have put great efforts into the matches. However, we must not forget that football is a game at the end of the day. What I really mean is that, first and foremost, it is to be enjoyed and there should be no grudge or malicious act. There is nothing wrong with a ‘Win, win’ attitude but winning by any means including malicious attack verbally or physically on fellow players is unprofessional. In my humble opinion, I do not believe that football is worth dying or killing for. Win if you can, but if you lose, at least you have entertained.

Germany and Argentina deservedly played the finals. I enjoyed the match as neither of them was my favourite team which was good as I was able to watch it with an unbiased mind, applauding as appropriate. In truth, either of the teams could have won, but by fate, it was Germany that, in the end, lifted the coveted trophy. Germany was arguably the best team in the tournament and the first European country to win in the American continent.

Winners come, winners go, but human attitude changes little. If there is anything to take home from the World Cup 2014, it will be remembered as one in which the odds were beaten. Brazil suffered a humiliating defeat on its own soil and a player recklessly bit another player. No team has the prerogative of being unbeatable. Who knows? May the next World Cup would be won by an underdog, perhaps one of the African or Asian countries that has never won. We shall see.