Poem: Man in the mirror

I woke up today like any other day

While rolling around in my head

It distinctly occurred to me that I was a hypocrite

A hypocrite

For everything I was meant to do that I didn’t

A hypocrite

For every time I chose the wrong option just for its ease or pleasure

A hypocrite

For every time I was Idle when I had so much work to do

A hypocrite

For everything I was blessed with that I wasted or invested in sin

A hypocrite

For every favour I did selfishly

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A hypocrite

Like all those who asked me for honest advice and yet chose the other option

Who was I to be mad at them for wasting my time?

Why would they do the right thing when the person offering advice is a victim too?

Even if they were better for it, would it help me? Encourage me?

There is always an easy way out, why is it usually the wrong one?

How easy is it to take the right way when the wrong way is easier?

In this day and age where kids are brought up in a world that gets easier by the day,

Why would anyone be behind the times and try to do otherwise?

Easier not to care

Easier not to love

Easier cos there are always options

Move with the times, moves with the times, move with the times I say!

But it’s getting harder as well.

Am I the only one who sees this?

Is not it getting harder?

To breathe with all that pollution?

To see in person when they’re just a ping away?

To relish the warmth of touch when a bed is just a walk away?

To sit and talk when work’s piled up for days?

To tell the truth when the lie seems the democratic way?

To find what we need under all this information overlay?

hypocrite

But change is the only constant thing

Think again! Truth is constant!

There used to be a time when all knew the truth

We didn’t have to speak it cos we lived it

Now we find it near impossible to speak about it

Simply cos we killed it! WE ALL killed it!

Who will convict us? Our conscience?

Our conscience is its only witness to its own murder!

Without a guide, how do we know where we are heading?

Like sailors at sea slowly sailing towards sirens

What is virtue?

Patience is for fools!

Be fast and furious!

Be raw and rugged!

Be giddy and greedy!

Be wily and witty!

Now its truth against tolerance

Respect against liberty

Patience against ambition

Integrity against impression

Semantics against redefinition

Can’t beat them?

Join them?

Can’t always win?

Pick your own strengths and your own weaknesses

Pick what you win at and what you will sacrifice?

Pick your sins?

Pick your scenes?

Is there equilibrium between reward and consequence?

Do we always lose some when we win some?

Opportunity cost you say?

But it can’t be that way!

We always get away with it!

Burned liver, overwhelming spleen

Deteriorating economy, withering skin

Ghost like soul, narcissistic whim

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Me, myself and I, the counterfeit’s triangle

The lies me hides from I,

The hate I hide(s) from myself,

The lack of faith myself has in me

The synthesis of our hypocrisy

How to Pronounce Judgement

I happen to remember my last blog post and the hint of contradiction contained in it and I don’t know how, but my mind went to “A walk to remember”. Remember that movie? Skip all the mushiness and get to the part when he helped her achieve that part of her bucket list by taking her to the border and making her straddle the state line in a way that she was in two places at the same time. I really wonder how she thought she would achieve it before placing it on her list.

 

A lot of times it’s easy to forget we are in two places at the same time before we declare war and send missiles to the other party where our other self happens to be as well. Hence we desist from pointing fingers after being burnt by such scenarios. We might amend our statement or change it altogether to accommodate our denial when we are caught breaking our own rules.

 

Thereafter we sometimes learn to mind our business, not judge people and only tell people our own views on matters so it won’t seem as if we were referring to anyone else. That then leaves us in situations where we’d keep quiet and watch people around getting hurt or harming themselves and we won’t voice our concerns because we don’t want them to feel judged.

 

Is this healthy though?

 

The fact is that we all judge, every moment of the day and everything that comes our way. So how do we judge without being condemnatory?

 Death-Penalty

It’s simple, hold on to your opinion and respect that of others!

 

The error made is when we go further to pronounce judgement on a person who acted outside the borders of our opinion.

 

For example, “Oh she’s pregnant, that’s the end for her”. While it is true she might find certain things difficult to do while taking care of her child at the same time, it does not mean she would not go on to achieve those things still. The error is in predicting a negative outcome as opposed to professing a positive solution in light of the mistake she has made.

 

Click Here for a brief example 

 

Who are you kidding if you say you won’t judge people and/or situations? What difference does it make if you have possibly better opinions but don’t speak them? Who are you deceiving when your pastor does some things you really can’t wrap your head around even on a spiritual level but yet you hold on to the common saying “…touch not mine anointed, do my prophets no harm”? Since when does asking for clarification become a sin?

 

Day in, day out we observe a lot of things and opinions are formed, sustained or modified, and the only way to change things is to strive to express these opinions in a way it would bring about a positive change. So do go ahead and judge and if you come up with something negative, find the positive to it before you speak. There are however some situations where trying to be positive may not suffice or perhaps may not be possible. If this is so, mentioning things such as “we can get through this together” may go a long way. Also if it tends to be a point of contradiction for you, do add that you are a “victim” of it yourself, so it doesn’t come back to haunt you!

Your will or His will

Casting Crowns happen to be one of those Christian bands I like especially with the fact that I’m picky when it comes to Christian songs. Their lyrics are just great and here is an excerpt of one of my favourites:

 

Lord, this time I’ll make it right, here at the altar I lay my life

Your kingdom come but my will was done, my heart is broken as

I…

Cry, like so many times before

But my eyes are dry before I leave the floor, oh Lord

I try but this time, Jesus, how can I be sure I will not lose my

Follow through

Between the altar and the door

 

It’s just lyrics that connect God to reality and not just preach an ideal that makes it seem impossible to achieve. Ever experienced God and felt that was going to be your turning point only to be back to your usual lifestyle within a week or less? Then some other times you have an epiphany and you wonder what went wrong, why it didn’t work out the last time and how far below you have sunk.

 

Then you get sober and say you would commit again and make sure it happens this time! And silently you ask as the song does “…but this time, Jesus, how can I be sure I will not lose my follow through between the altar and the door”.

 

Our imperfection as a result of sin and our gift of freewill have left most of our spiritual life like sinusoidal waves. We are up one moment and down the next, only to be back up again. It gets confusing at times and makes us uncertain about where we stand. We keep in the cycle till we realise our will can’t be done at the expense of what He says. Then we go something like this:

 

I’m trying so hard to stop trying so hard

Just let You be who You are

Lord, who You are in me

Jesus, I’m trying so hard to stop trying so hard

Just let You be who You are

Lord, who You are in me

 

And this is where 1 Peter 5:5-10 comes in, it says:

 

5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

8 Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (ESV)

 

Anxiety isn’t unnatural, casting it on Him is what should be done as opposed to handling it ourselves. It’s also said that we should stay sober, that way we wouldn’t dry our eyes before we leave the floor. We need faith to resist the devil, faith in the sacrifice Jesus made, faith that others have passed these tests. And finally patience to hold us strong while suffering persecution knowing that God will establish us as we wait on Him!

Google: Friend or Foe?

I don’t like Google! It’s that simple! I have always sparred with my brother and a few friends as to how aggressive I think they are in their expansion pursuits. But it’s always about the fact that their products are very functional, but I always wondered how they went from search engine on this apparent journey to world power! Even people gave them free promotion with the common phrase “Go ask Google”.

I should state here that I use an android and opened a Gmail when I got it. It also came with a YouTube and Google+ accounts which I don’t  actively use. I just wonder how they can be curbed from their rapid growth. Don’t get me wrong, I value their functionality and admit their products are an essential aspect of life as it is but there are other concerns apart from these facts. Apart from some articles I read on their acquisition of a robotics company and work with the U.S. Army, I never had facts to use. Well I did find a detailed article on the issue and thought to share. Do you think they are friends, potential foes or what? Do read the article in the link and share your thoughts. Thanks.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-information-google-is-gathering-about-us-is-terrifying-2014-6

Nigeria and her Music, Two of a kind

“…nowadays nobody speaks about, the way they feel about things…and nowadays nobody thinks about a way to ease the suffering”, lyrics from Lighthouse family’s 1998 single “Question of faith”. Lyrics that still ring true till this day, talk about ever green. Or is it Nneka’s 2005 single from her EP of the same name, The Uncomfortable Truth, where she sings “Let us make a change, why can’t we turn the page, Lord make us able, without you we are totally unstable”. I suppose we might also consider Sade’s “Sweetest taboo”, Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose”, Asa’s “Jailer” or the numerous works of Fela. Music by Nigerians, either in terms of lyrics, composition, vocals or production has always been beautiful especially when fostered in an enabling environment. By music I mean songs that are not just songs but are songs that are full and by full I mean songs that are timeless, that have essence, moods, life and carry substantial messages. But what do we have today? Bogus monotonic compositions from contemporary artists who possess little or no originality. Talk about originality when an artist writes a song about water and makes it a hit! Fela did!  But we have caricature songs that sample from and were inspired by great artists and then watered down to reduce the concentration of music in it. Danceable, chant able, remixed concepts, money, cars, girls, fame; cliché!

But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander right? At times when I hear stories of “Old Nigeria”, I find it hard to believe how far down the ladder we are. Old folks talk about a time when goods were left outside with prices on them, and people would buy and sell with little or no supervision. They talk about a time when you could leave your house without bothering to lock your doors; they talk about the times when Nigerians abroad could close down malls just to shop. They all seem like fairytales when you come up in a time like this where it’s hard to trust even your own brother. Oil came and we forgot everything else. States queue for their share of the budget and I wonder, what happened to state internal revenue? Why aren’t states responsible for the provision of power? Politicians run the nation as they deem fit without caring to maximise its resources. Along the line someone got greedy and all those that were aware, said nothing and that single seed grew and is still flourishing till today. As your president said, Nigeria is not poor; our problem is in the distribution of wealth.

A lot of the time I relate the state of Nigeria to its music. Are they not a matching pair? Nigeria’s main source of revenue is from Oil, the main genre of music is “Afrobeat” or “Afro-pop” or whatever you call it. Ever heard people say a certain thing would not work in Nigeria, say a new law that is standard in a lot of places around the world because it doesn’t fit us here? Ever heard a Nigerian say a song is good and they like it just that the person won’t sell here? Why won’t the new law work if they decide to follow it and encourage others? Why won’t that “good” artist sell if they decide to purchase good music and spread the word?

Nigeria is blessed with various resources, every type you can think of, but we don’t invest in minds, don’t invest in research, won’t actively use our steel or other mineral resources, won’t invest in renewable energy , won’t invest in agriculture and tourism or any other resource as we should. Why aren’t we producing when we have the capacity to do so? Why do foreigners have to make those investments? We have narrowed it down to crude oil and that’s that! Why don’t we have more genres? Soul? Rock? House? Alternative? I mean we listen to songs like that from foreign artists, why not encourage our local artists to be diverse? Why don’t we have more clearly defined genres as opposed to diluting everything with “Afrobeat”? Why isn’t afrobeat, our very own internationally recognised genre, on the radio? Why do Femi and Seun Kuti release their albums outside Nigeria? Why should foreigners get to listen to them and not us?

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The giant of Africa? Sure! In retrospect! We just talk in this country, but no truth or action in those words. Everyone has the solution to the problem but somehow the problem persists. Could it be because we don’t do accordingly? I mean we have a rich proverbial history but somehow we don’t update and apply it. Where are our poets? Where is our art? Where is our history written so we don’t forget? Who reveals the truth of the past and the lessons we must learn from them? But our music is better! Introspective and intellectual, you can learn from it. It takes you away and addresses your mood. If you are feeling sad, you have a companion! Heartbroken? You have something soothing. Afraid? You have something motivational. Calm? You have something down tempo. But alas I lie! The artist said he is inspired by life? He lies as well! The words in most songs are just empty, improvised with no particular direction? Where are the concepts? The structure? The vision? The passion? The talent? The words? Life? But then I suppose my life is a boring one, as that of a lot of the others seems to consist primarily of money, women, cars, parties, alcohol and the likes.

Politicians can bring ridiculous laws and implement it without even a cough from us, no wonder they ridicule us. How does a human use billions to maintain 2 private jets while the masses lack education and the basic amenities? How does a leader seek pay after public office without considering the repercussion on his state’s treasury? Oh but leadership is the new royalty hence we call them “your Excellency” and make no complains! Creativity is when you can form words from nothing in particular that elicits excitement from people who are looking for an escape from their hardships. Creative licence is when an artist can say “In the middle of the center” and come off appraised. No well crafted verses, no content, no figures of speech, just chants. Well as Modenine said on his 2008 song “Hip Hop “, “I mean it when I say your whole album is a chorus”.

Nigeria is a country with so much potential. With the developing countries slowing down, we should lead Africa in the race to catch up and even exceed what has been done but we have decided to operate at 10% efficiency, or do you estimate it’s less? Our crops and culture is being stolen from right under us and we could care less. It’s our way of doing things and however wrong it is, we hold steadfast to it. Talk about dedication to destruction. But music is life, and when I see Nigeria, I see its music, and I wonder if we really are alive? How many people really learnt from Fela? How many people really learnt from Onyeka Onwenu?

Sigh, would I sound like a conspiracy theorist if I propose that Nigerian music might be fashioned to keep us dumbed down? A means to help us be consoled in our misery while the elites plunder our resources? After all a documentary I saw recently said the system of the world is made by the rich for the rich. But hey! Maybe things are getting better, at least on the BRT buses, it’s usually not the case of “49 sitting, 99 standing” as Fela sang. What do you think?

Why assume? Just ask!

(So he thought Musa won’t tell me abi?)

(I bet he doesn’t know that it’s not how long but how well)

(He doesn’t know Musa is closer to me)

(How dare he go behind my back and discuss our little disagreement with Musa of all people!)

(He had the audacity to say bad things about me to someone unimportant)

(It’s my fault, I have been nice hence him taking me for granted)

(Anyway he would soon be here)

(I would see how he would wriggle out of this one)

 

Few minutes later…

“Hello Ronke”

Silence…

“Ronke, hi”

Silence…

(She seems rather deep in thought, I hope all is well)

(Or could it be because of our recent misunderstanding?)

Slight tap on her shoulder…

“Ronke are you alright?”

“I’m fine”

“You seemed lost in thought, is everything alright?”

Raises voice slightly…

“I said I’m fine!”

“I heard you it’s just that I know you well enough to know when something is wrong”

(Ehen? See me see trouble o, is it by force?)

“But I have said nothing is wrong, or do you want something bad to happen?”

“No! It’s just; is this about our recent misunderstanding?”

“What about it? Please it’s too small an issue to fuss over”

 

(Hmmm I’m confused)

(If she is not upset about it then what could be the issue and why is she refusing to say?)

(Well when she is ready to talk she will)

(I came here to relax and I won’t let anyone spoil my fun)

“Its fine, let me go say hi to the other people, just thought to check on you first”

Silence…

He leaves to chat up other people at the get together…

(If you like don’t check on me at all, you haven’t seen anything yet, good riddance!)

 

The two spend the rest of the night mingling with friends but never each other

Ronke leaves unusually early to avoid Chike talking to her again

Chike notices this few minutes later and concludes it was because of him she left

He is upset that she is blowing the little matter out of proportion

He decides he won’t call her till she makes first contact and apologises for her behaviour

She waits for him to come over and beg her to tell him what’s wrong

The two don’t speak for the next few days

They don’t speak the next few weeks

They don’t speak for a couple of months…

 

The two ultimately get busy and forget about each other, getting lost in the works of life…

A few years later they meet at a function

Each tries to remember why they stopped talking but can’t seem to

Regardless they still feel upset and neither talks to the other

They both leave the function with nostalgia

They both go on to lead separate lives each remembering the other every now and then…

 

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It’s often said that the person who cares less has the power in the relationship. This mind set has led a lot of emotional people to be conscious about their relationships. They magnify every little detail in order to protect themselves and thus they end up making assumptions. These assumptions usually grow into something bizarre and when fuelled by emotions, the individual begins to believe these cooked up thoughts to the point of searching for evidence to support their made up theories which eventually may become their reality. As blunt as it may sound, this in fact is not too far from an episodic psychosis.

Remember, every wildfire starts from a little spark. In a time where the trend is to tell people what they want to hear regardless of its substance of truth, people often build on assumptions just for it all to collapse on the foundation of deceit. They then take those failures into other relationships. Sadly, this often puts them in a situation where they might mess up something good by applying the lessons they learnt from something bad.

“Assumption is the mother of all screw ups”

Simply put, DON’T make assumptions. Just ask! It might be your fault, the other person’s fault, either your faults or even a simple misunderstanding but only speaking up would clear that up.

If only Ronke swallowed her pride and spoke up, maybe they would have had reparation and held on to their friendship.

The little things that do matter

Certain things amaze me, like how Terry keeps his bat suit in his school bag in the batman of the future series, or how Tony Starks keeps that magnificent suit with all its special effects in a “simple” suitcase. It’s fascinating seeing big things coming out of “small” people, actions, events and what have you. It gives hope and courage to a lot of people who often end up achieving more things than they ever thought they could. Ask any successful person and they would tell you how a little step led to a lot or a little persistence paid off big time.

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On the counter, it’s frightening how something so small could command a lot more than it should. Our beloved country is full of such and these are a constant source of frustration for the social and economical growth of the society.

Let me start from a recent event where in a friend attended a wedding in what should be a regularly occupied event centre. Of course due to the poor urban planning of Lagos, finding adequate parking space in a city where social events like weddings are usually “packed” was out of the question and hence people resorted to parking at the side of what could be called a busy street. My friend had parked at a spot where some FRSC officials told her was “safe”. Allegedly the host of the event hadn’t “settled” the local LASTMA operatives and as such they decided to assert their authority and seize some “illegally” parked vehicles. As expected the fine was ridiculous in relation to the “crime” and the circumstance surrounding it. But what also caught my attention is the fact that the car tires were deflated immediately upon arrival by a vulcanizer within the premises. He would have to be paid for the tires to be inflated before one leaves. Why should the tires of impounded vehicles be deflated at all and why is inflation to be paid for by the “victim”? These could be at low as N40 on the streets but could be up to N100 per tire.

Another case of interest is that of university hostels. These hostels unfortunately cannot accommodate everyone and as such should ideally be prioritised for the new students, final year students and then students who live outside the state or at distant locations. In reality this is not the case. We find that most times, the final year and new students get hostels but the allocation of the remaining space is left unaccounted for. People eventually have to use backdoor means which are more expensive than the “moderate” fees one pays for hostel accommodation. They get the impression that the spaces have all been fully allocated and it’s apparent the spaces can’t be gotten through the legal channels. What they then resort to is finding “agents” who help process hostel spaces for them. Of course this is usually after several weeks of resumption where they have had to attend school from distant locations on a daily basis or had to squat with someone fortunate to have a space. Of course outside school accommodation is an option but not everyone can afford them. Consequently the moderate price tag attached to hostel accommodation rises in multiples. Why apply for a hostel one doesn’t want when they can leave it for those who NEED it?

Do I hear it’s simply simple economics of supply and demand? Do I hear inflation?

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What of the case whereby people ask for incentives just to do their jobs? Like the cleaners or guards in public and private establishments? Places where certain privileges ordinarily expected come with a price. We pay taxes and then pay for the people who live off our taxes, and apparently might not be performing up to par on the job, to still do their jobs. There are those as well who just expect a more fortunate individual to hand them money just because they are more fortunate.

Do I hear corporate begging?

It’s funny how ingenious people feel when they devise a means, legal or illegal, to get money they didn’t morally work for. But who is deceiving who really? Just as a friend put it, “Its exploitation and not exploration”. The issue is that where there is illegitimate gain, there simply is a loss somewhere else. Is the economy growing? Is money being made where value is offered? Or are we just accelerating the movement of money where money is “made” with no apparent value created?

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But these are small issues that sum up to a large deficit. Of course an even larger example of this sort of instance is one where less than 500 people serving a country are paid about 25% of its budget for a job that’s horribly done. Where is the value for which they are paid?

We need to stop praising mediocrity, we all have to work for what we deserve and do our best to increase Nigeria’s income as opposed to creating a false sense of value. Remember what is of excessive value is of no value at the end of the day (context).

Do share any similar experiences or views. Thanks.