Nearly Swindled.

Last Thursday, I noticed that my tablet’s screen was dead. It was on, I could hear the beeps from notifications but it refused to come on. I called the airtel number on it with my phone and it rang, in the dark. I was slightly worried but tried not to let it affect my evening even though I scouted the room for a place to charge it, even though I knew the battery was at more than 60%. Before we left for home that night, the light came on and that was that. Continue reading →

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K-Legged Tourism.

“Chai I no even dey Lagos”

I was chatting with a friend who came into Lagos two days ago and wanted us to see and after tying ‘chai’ my phone predicted the rest of the message. I smiled as I realised how often I must have typed those words in that sequence. I have travelled every month this year- more than once in some months (May was epic) and all these trips have been within Nigeria- why am I not global now? Chissss *in Charles’s Okocha’s hypeman’s voice* Continue reading →

Mystery, Mystery…

After Sidney Sheldon died and I had read all the books he’d written, a certain writer slowly filled the void left in my heart and mind- his name is David Badacci. Ekene might not remember now but it was through him I first discovered David Baldacci, he was holding ‘Saving Faith’ and I asked to look at it. In a few minutes I was lost in the book and felt bereft when he had to take the book with him, luckily he would later agree to loan me the book for a day and that was enough. Continue reading →

Show A Little Kindness.

The first time I watched a video of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I was struck by the number of times she would prefix her sentences with “I think”. A few years later, I was at her workshop and again, I was struck by how she never said anything without saying “I think” first, even on the most ordinary things, even in spaces where she is an authority. She would always use that prefix and after a while I was upset by it (see what I did there). Why did she always have to absolve herself from being definite with her opinions? Why didn’t she cut through certain bullshit with “you know what, this is what it is” and end the matter?

 

Eventually, I would come to understand why it was necessary to create that distance, she is a human being whose words are prone to be twisted, misinterpreted and even outright lies ascribed to her. I have long since stopped wondering why she is such an easy target; she doesn’t say things we haven’t heard before or thought about, neither is she rude or uncouth in passing her message. And no, it is not the fault of bloggers and newspaper headlines, if we stopped reacting to a particular topic- it would stop being news.

 

If I hadn’t watched the video of Ms Adichie’s interview with Trevor Noah of The Daily Show yesterday, I would have thought that she decreed a new law preventing men from opening doors for women- from the reactions I saw this morning. No, I am not going to pretend to understand how asking people to be kind to everyone regardless of gender and using opening doors as an example is suddenly the worst thing in the world. Or how asking that the weak be saved first regardless of gender is a now a crime, I’m sorry my brain circuits would not survive the power shunts required to make the connection.

 

The truth is, she shared her thoughts on chivalry, watch the video or see the transcript on Farida’s wall. Everything began with “I think”. Unless we are saying she has no right to think or that her thoughts are suddenly binding on all of us. She can go on a billion talk shows and tell men not to open doors for women- as people are implying she said, it will not change anything. The men who want to open doors/ stand up from seats/buy assurance for bae, will still do so.

 

You can still be anything you want to be, a feminist, a feminist who loves the patriarchal privileges, a chauvinist, a woman who believes that women were put on earth as afterthoughts and to be foot mats to the kings- men. I have always distrusted chivalry and romantic gestures, call me unromantic if you like but I value kindness and tolerance more than anything. Ulterior motives scare me every time.

 

I’d much rather be with a man who is kind to everyone and is unromantic than one who is terrible to others and fantastic with me, romance will always fade, friendship might wear and chip and crack but kindness is constant. I’m more interested in how my man treats his younger sisters than in his pampering of me, if he is a bully to them… I should fucking expect to be bullied with time. My friend ‘Vester, lights up when he’s talking to his sisters, it almost makes me want to be one of his sisters even though I do not want more brothers and my feelings for him are not even sisterly to start with. But this is Adaeze and these are her thoughts and not binding on anyone.

 

We all have our platforms where we share our thoughts, some of us make a dozen posts daily across social media where we talk about the same things over and over; Buhari, Assurance, Sex, Money, Saraki- whatever we please and nobody tells us how our own is too much or how we put our mouths in things that are not our business. Most of all, we would not tolerate people coming to tell us what to talk about, or what matters while our thoughts do not. It’s not hard to extend that courtesy to CNA, to wait to watch a video or read the transcript to know what she’s talking about before going on outrage rampages or speculating silly theories about her mental state or her marriage. We do more for pastors and politicians…

 

At the end, Ms Adichie in her speeches, interviews and books, does the same thing we all do every day- share her thoughts. Until she gets into the position of making laws and edicts that affect our lives, let’s spare our outrage for those who actually make the decisions that affect us.

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Mama lit a fire.

My grandmother had called my father ‘Uncle Eze’, as long as I can remember but I thought nothing of it, didn’t my own mother call me Mommy when she wanted me to do something I wouldn’t do normally? Maybe like my mommy, she too used it to move the immovable force Mbaise children tend to be.

 
A few days ago, I was teasing my dad about something. In the past, teasing him like that used to be the sure way to negotiate for more pocket money or getting a major boost to the “anything for the girls” ministry. Sadly, I am grown-up and independent *hot tears* and that teasing does not yield monetary results but the routine has been set and the man likes it (he’ll deny it if you ask him)
 
Uncle Eze” I said as I patted his shoulder and I suddenly wondered why he was uncle to his mother, I knew it wasn’t a reincarnation story. What could it be? I asked myself.
“Why did Mama call you Uncle Eze?”
“You’re the one who told her to call me uncle” he replied.
Mua Adaeze?” I gasped and he chuckled.
One day she was calling me nwa and you said ‘why are you calling my daddy nwa?’”
 
I burst into laughter, I was a slightly imperious child and assertive too. Most times, the stories of the quirky things I said back then always seem to be of a different person.
What did she say?” I asked, still laughing.
She asked you what she should call your daddy” he continued, he was smiling then but his eyes showed his thoughts were in that room in the past with his mother and his young daughter.
You told her- ‘call him uncle’ and she agreed.” he was smirking now.
Just like that?”
“Just like that,” He confirmed.
 
As I told Paul this story this afternoon, while I sat across the table from him with chocolate ice cream warming my blood and icing my tongue, it hit me that my grandma had been laying the foundation for a lesson she wanted me to learn- that my voice mattered regardless of how small I was at the time, that I would be listened to and my ideas considered, and if they are superior- they would be adopted.
 
And the funniest thing is- she didn’t need a fancy speech or to join a million-woman march, or to get a Harvard degree in gender studies to teach me these things.
Sometimes, the biggest fires were simply because two stones rubbed together at the right time
 

Use your head, Sister.

Some days ago, I stumbled on a twitter thread about pharmacists and never finding a rude pharmacist. Despite the overwhelming support, something worried me immensely as I scrolled through tweets from young people from across Africa.

 

A good chunk of respondents- many of them women, agreed with the initial tweet but added a troubling rider- pharmacists are judgmental when they come to get contraceptives and morning after pills. While I am not the mouthpiece of pharmacists around the world, I can say without fear of contradiction that this is not true.

 

The implication of this thought process bothers me, many sexually active women already have a hard time convincing their partners to use the easiest method of protection- the condom. Yet, these women still leave the purchase of this contraceptive in the hands of people who do not want to use It in the first place and many joyful accidental discharges occur.

 

Even in a hyper-critical, hypocritical society like we find in the towns, cities and villages of Nigeria, the sexually active woman owes herself the duty to protect herself from Sexually Transmitted Infections and unplanned pregnancies by using the tools available. For the life of me, I can’t understand why women carry the burden of shame when they want to get protection. The average Nigerian man would walk into the store and buy his condoms and even engage sales staff on his choice(s) to be sure he gets the best for himself, while the woman he is going to use it with, is too shy to even look at condoms on the shelf?

 

Sadly, she is the one with the most to lose. Very few things are as terrifying as counting the days after Lady Flo delays her monthly visit or the horror of finding two lines on a urine soaked strip. So why let nonexistent judgement stand in the way of peace of mind? Terminating a pregnancy is still illegal in Nigeria and even if it weren’t, the process is not soaking garri in cold water with peak milk, sugar and groundnut.

 

I have had hundreds (yes hundreds) of terrified young women approach me with long stories that end with ‘I missed my period and I want to get it back’. Most of the time they are alone, carrying their burden while Bobo goes on with his life with some quiet concern about the whole thing- if she is lucky, she is more likely to be told to ‘carry your cross’. The babe would wander far in search of a solution and will end up spending at least ten times the cost of contraception on a termination. Let’s not even go into the dangers that can arise even when a professional is involved. Is the almost non-existent shame and a little (often imaginary) gossip worth the cost of it all; in money, time and mental well-being?

 

Anyway, anyone who sells/provides contraceptives would not think it is extraordinary that a woman wants to protect herself, emergency contraception (morning after pill) are fast moving drugs which an average pharmacy can sell at least two packs a day, while other contraceptives sell even faster. In one month, there would be at least a hundred purchases of all kinds of contraception per pharmacy/supermarket. Your purchase is not special, it’s not memorable, it’s not unusual, not even if you are the holiest Mary Nweje.

 

So dear sister, ain’t nobody got any interest in judging you. Nobody is smirking because you’re getting contraceptives, and if they are… So fucking what?

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