Valentine’s Day: Spare More Than A Thought for Those Less Fortunate

I had a whole write-up planned about Valentine’s Day, and the importance of focusing on self-love, as well as other types of non-romantic love.  Then I received this video from a friend this morning.  It is about acts of kindness that cannot be reciprocated, at least not at the time they are given.

I am not affiliated with Microsoft, except as a customer using their Windows and Office products, and a couple of friends who work there.  I am however strongly affiliated with anyone or any group that thinks beyond themselves and reaches out to those who cannot give them anything in return.  It is not always about money; sometimes time invested is even more important.

As we go about celebrating today, spare a genuine thought for those less fortunate, and ask yourself whether you are truly doing all that you can do for those in your immediate vicinity, no matter how small it may seem.

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Kiddie Chronicles: Dirty Sun

On our way to school recently, Miss AB had been arguing with her brother about whether or not the sun had woken up. It was one of those hazy harmattan mornings, and the sun did not have its typical warm yellow glow. Miss AB was insisting the sun was still asleep; her brother was screaming that it was wide awake. So, being the wise little madam that she is, she decided to consult the oracle 😉 :

Miss AB: “Mama, is the sun awake?”

Moi: “Yes, it is.”

Mstr EB: “I told you!”


Miss AB: “Where is the sun mama?”

Moi: “It’s over there” pointing in the direction


Miss AB: “Mama how can I get to the sun?”

Moi: “The sun is actually very far away… Why do you want to go to the sun?”

Miss AB: “I need to clean it, it is dirty.”

😮 😐

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Kiddies Chronicles: Tasty Chicken


My dear Mstr EB decided all by himself to become a vegetarian! Shortly after turning 18 months, he decided there was nothing cool about ingesting animal protein: fish, chicken, beef, goat meat – he was not interested in any of it! All attempts to convince him these meal items were worthy of being on his plate and going into his mouth had failed. So, you can imagine our surprise when he strongly requested for a piece of chicken last weekend; he not only asked for that one piece, he went on to eat about 4 pieces!

At dinner last night, I heard another request for chicken from the unusual suspect: Mstr EB! I had not included him in my chicken serving calculations as usual, so I did not have a piece to offer him as his request came after we had all cleared our plates and only had pieces of bone left.  Mr B was rather curious about this wave of change, and the following conversation ensued between them:

Mr B: “Do you like chicken now?”

Mstr EB: “Yes!”

Mr B: “Interesting. Why didn’t you like chicken before?”

Mstr EB: “Erm… I didn’t like chicken before because it was not tasty.”


Mstr EB: “I only like delicious chicken.”

Lobatan!  Who says little people do not appreciate good things? He he… But wait o, is this young man trying to say my cooking used to be crappy??? Hian!!!

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Relationship with Self: Always Appreciate Opportunities Provided To Grow

My dad has worked with the same utility guy, who we call Uncle B, for almost 3 decades!  I call him THE utility guy because he is the one that is called whenever anything needs to be done regarding any of the utilities in the house.  Uncle B is an electrician by profession, so it is not a big deal that he gets called when a fuse blows out, or a new electrical line needs to be run from one point to another.  He is, however, also called when there is a leak in the plumbing system.  He is the one who then gets a plumber, and supervises him (I am yet to meet a female plumber in the city of Lagos 🙂 ) to ensure the job is done properly.  If my folks are unhappy with the way the job was done, do they go harass the plumber?  No!  That falls on Uncle B.  A wooden room divider needs to be built?  Call Uncle B.  The roof is leaking?  Call Uncle B.  You get the picture – Uncle B knows his business, knows how to handle his business (read people), and delivers quality service (only reason he is still around).

When Mr B and I got married, our new home was situated about 15 minutes away from my folks (without traffic – a necessary disclaimer in the city of Lagos, even the Google Maps application uses it, he he). Who was the obvious person to call when we needed electrical work done in our home?  No awards if you responded “Uncle B!” :).  A no-brainer right, especially since we were well within Uncle B’s jurisdiction – in fact, he would have to go past our neighbourhood to get to my folks’.  Well, here is the conversation that ensued between myself and my dad just after narrating to him about the electrical issues we were having that needed resolution:

Me: “Daddy, I am going to call Uncle B tomorrow.”

Dad: “Why?”

Me: (wondering whether the answer was not obvious) “So he can help us out with the electrical issues” (I almost added “now,” but I no get liver! 😀 )

Dad: “Go and find your own electrician.”

Me: (bewildered) “Ah, ah…  Why do I have to go and reinvent the wheel when we have a tried and tested person at home?”

Dad: “Exactly, we have a tried and tested person in my home.  You have set up your own home now, so go and look for your own person.”

Me: “Ha!  Ok o…” (feeling dejected and wondering why this man was “hoarding” his utility guy)  “But why?”

Dad: “You see, you need to learn how to use your resources to solve your own problems.  There are three main reasons for this: (1) I have raised you to be a confident and creative problem-solver 🙂 ; (2) who says Uncle B is the best available?  You may just discover a better and more up-to-date gem that will beat Uncle B at his trade; and (3) if Uncle B messes up, I will be able to come to you for recommendations for his replacement :).”

The light bulb did not go off at the time – I was dwelling on how we were going to be gambling with artisans neither Mr B nor myself were familiar with, and praying nothing would be fundamentally destroyed in the process.  So, I went off with my tail in between my legs – what I thought was merely an FYI conversation had somehow turned into a rejection; who gets rejected when one was not even asking for permission???  Sigh.

So, Mr B and I reached out to our friends requesting for recommendations for a good electrician.  There were a couple of frogs, but we very quickly found our gem, Mr G.  Mr G did such a good job for us, and very responsively sorted all issues we had afterwards.

Fast forward 7 years: not only do we have a very good and responsive electrician in our utilities “tool kit,” we also have other very good and responsive utility guys (again, I am yet to meet any female that provides these services in the city of Lagos 🙂 ):  plumbing, water treatment, furniture-making, gas stove service and repair,  air conditioner service and repair, and laundry service.  We are now the go-to people our friends (and yes, my Dad 🙂 ) call when they need recommendations for such service providers because our rather-limited-threshold-for-nonsense standards have helped us separate the wheat from the chaff.  We still come across frogs every now and again, but we have developed the ability to very quickly see through them and give the boot if necessary before wasting any financial, emotional, or time resources.

What is the main takeaway from all this?  As parents and people of influence (if to no one else, we have a significant influence on our kids), we have to consciously encourage (and force if necessary) those within our spheres of influence to solve their problems with their own resources, the most fundamental of which is their brains.  Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and unless a human being has opportunities to truly apply herself/himself, she/he will never actually grow.  This process starts from babyhood, through adulthood, right until our old ages.  The more of such opportunities a person is presented with, the more of an asset that person will become.  If we go about solving their problems for them, even if they ask, we are ultimately doing them a huge disservice.  Even though I did not appreciate it at the time, I am now very glad that my Dad rejected my non-permission-request :D.


Relationship with Offspring – Kiddie Chronicles: “Piglet”


Me: “What is a baby dog called?”

EB: “A puppy”

Me: “Very good!  What is a baby cow called?”

EB: “Erm…” (I can see his brain cells churning) “A baby pig is a piglet!” (with a big grin on his face)

Me: “That is true, but I did not ask you about a baby pig” 😮

I am sure we have all been in conversations like this at one time or the other, and not only with kids! Want to share yours 🙂 ?  What do you think it is that makes people ignore the question asked, formulate a question of their own, and then go ahead to answer it with all confidence?

Relationship with Self: Change

“Change”…  One of the most popular words of 2015, especially in Nigeria.  We all remember the electioneering mantra of the now-majority political party; the mantra that earned them the historical feat of democratically unseating an incumbent.  This is also the season of promises of change; a lot of people evaluate themselves around this time of year and come up with various new year resolutions.

According to the dictionary, change is

an act or process through which something becomes different

This is different from the perceptions held by most people of what change involves.  The general expectation is that change can, and should, happen literally overnight.  In reality, as the definition above tells us, change is actually a process, usually not a very fun one, no matter how positive the objective:

  • Timi has decided that he will change his caffeine-ingestion habits by eliminating coffee and caffeine-infused soda drinks from his diet.  This is a very positive move, and he will be the healthier for it.  He will however have to endure some painful withdrawal symptoms as he goes through the process towards attaining his objective.
  • Chidi has decided that he will change his financial situation by becoming more frugal with his expenses.  He has decided to stop certain purchases.  This sounds easy, but can be quite emotionally painful.
  • Adamu has decided to turn his health around by eating healthier foods and developing an exercise routine.  This can be very painful as his body adjusts to the new regime.  The sight of an inviting cookie or plate of pasta can derail the best-intentioned.

These examples highlight an often-overlooked fact: positive change may sound sexy, but it is actually painful!  It requires a lot of mental, emotional, as well as physical strength.  The goal is usually well-known to be a very positive one: losing weight, becoming financially secure, becoming healthy and physically fit, becoming a self-sufficient nation.

Lastly, change is not an end in itself.  When the desired change is attained, it needs to be maintained.  Imagine if Chidi attains a certain level of savings and then stops being frugal.  Or if Adamu reaches a certain body weight and then stops watching what he eats.  For change to be effective, it has to be permanent.  The process has to become the new normal.  According to research by Phillippa Lally (a health psychology researcher at University College London),

it takes more than 2 months, on average, before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.

So, as we go through our necessary societal changes, and as we make promises of change to ourselves, we should be realistic by acknowledging the discomfort and pain that would be involved, and develop the necessary grit required to get through it and come out victorious on the other side.  We should be ready to be determined, persistent, and consistent as we go through the long journey to get where we want to be.  One change that would be really nice would be to successfully make every promised change a new habit, so there will be no need to ever promise the same change again :).

change-hard-messy-gorgeous  change-willing-to-be-uncomfortable


Happy new year in advance!  See you in 2016.

Relationship with Self & Others: Significance of the 2015 December Holidays

The significance of this year’s Islamic and Christian holidays just struck me: the Muslim faithful are celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) today (24 Dec 2015), and the Christian faithful would be celebrating the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ (Prophet Isa, AW) tomorrow (25 Dec 2015).

Both men were born in the same general geographical area, spoke historically similar languages, started in very humble settings, minded their businesses through their twenties, were pulled into their destinies to pass key messages to their communities and the world, and died relatively young. They each lived lives of piety, preached peace, cared for the less fortunate, and lived by (and encouraged others to live by) the golden rule, i.e. only do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So, as we celebrate our respective holidays, and celebrate with our sisters and brothers of all faiths across the world, we should continue to remember what these men actually stood for, respect one another, and be kind to one another.

Relationship with Offspring – Kiddie Chronicles: “My Name is …”


We had just arrived home from the kids’ school on this day about three months ago.  We met our next-door neighbour, who had also just returned home from work.  She was trying to gather her things from her car, when one of the items dropped from her arms.  Mstr EB noticed this and ran to help her pick it up.  She was appreciative of his gesture, and said:

Thank you darling.


Mstr EB looked bewildered!

His immediate response was:

My name is not darling!  My name is EB 😀


As we head into the thick of the holiday season, wear your name (faith) with pride and be kind to one another.

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Relationship with Self: Are You Principled?


Hey you… Yes you… Do you know what it means to be principled?  Does it simply mean being a good person?  Does it involve earning degrees and awards?  Does it have anything to do with one’s level of exposure and / or education?

Being principled means consistently applying the values one professes (one’s principles) regardless of who is involved.  Do you recognise any of these people?

Taiye professes her belief in quality education, yet she sends young Segun (who lives with her but is not one of her biological children) to a school she knows to be inferior to the one her own children attend. Taiye is not principled.

Hassana believes that a sound night’s sleep is extremely important to a young child’s development, yet she gives Hauwa (her young assistant) so much work to do, that she cannot get to bed early enough and has to be up earlier than the rest. Hassana is not principled.

Danladi says the roads are unsafe, hence his kids are not allowed to walk from point A to point B within the neighborhood, yet he makes Ahmed (his less well-off sister’s son) trek all over town. Danladi is not principled.

Gbemi says Itunu (her daughter-in-law, Segun’s wife) must be able to cook fresh food for Segun everyday, keep their home spotlessly clean, and come to her house every Friday to rub her feet; yet when her daughter Tomi’s mother-in-law Kemi makes similar pronouncements, she calls Kemi a bully.  Gbemi is not principled.

Ngozi insists that her daughter Ada helps her out in the kitchen and around the house as that would teach her useful lifelong lessons, yet she leaves her son Chidi to lounge around and raise his feet up while Ada sweeps.  Ngozi is not principled.

Adamu is the first to make a fuss when his employer delays the payment of his salary by a day, yet he shouts down at Abu (his driver) when Abu comes to beg for his salary that is 15 days overdue. Adamu is not principled.

Femi shouts to the mountains and all over social media that he believes in the equality of all men and women, yet when Simbi his daughter brings home a man of another religious faith, he screams “over my dead body!” Femi is not principled.

Nnamdi rolled his eyes and shouted blasphemy when he heard about churches receiving humongous amounts of money for prayers à la DasukiGate, but he did not see anything wrong with the amount received by a Muslim ex-governor for spiritual reinforcement.  Nnamdi is not principled.

I am hoping you get the drift now.  Not being principled is one of the most significant hindrances to the progress of humanity, as that is the root of injustice.  If we are not able to consistently treat our fellow man / woman as we would like to be treated, then we cannot complain when such treatment is meted out to us or those we claim to love.

The importance of being principled is amplified when one has children of one’s own, as they learn most from our actions, not our speeches or sermons (i.e. words).  So, each and every one of us needs to thoroughly assess ourselves, our motives, and our actions under the guiding prism of being principled; this will definitely make our communities, and the world at large, a better place to be.

image courtesy Lolly Daskal via LinkedIn

Relationship with Others: What Goes Around Comes Back Around


About 3 years ago, we – Mr. B and I – hosted our first Eid-el Adha party as a family.   The social hallmark of the Eid-el Adha celebrations is the fried ram meat; everyone I know – young or old, Muslim or not – looks forward to this once-a-year delicacy (for most).  Even the rams themselves know something is up (even though not in their favour).

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We live in an apartment block that does not have any space provision for outdoor food preparation and cooking, so we decided to explore the option of using the undeveloped plot of land next door.  Mr. B met the head of the family that had taken up a shanty residence there to seek permission to handle our ram business there.  The gentleman – who I shall call Ahmed – not only acceded to our request but also helped select an appropriate spot for our purpose.  Ahmed went the additional step of helping us oversee the individuals that were working on the ram to ensure things were done properly; we were pleasantly surprised as we had not asked him to do that.  At the end of it all, Ahmed did not request for a single thing in return for all his assistance.  We ensured he had a very healthy helping from the menu of the day, but we did not think that was enough to repay him for his kindness.  Such acts of kindness can never be fully repaid in my opinion.  We have since included Ahmed and his family in our zakat distributions every Eid-el Adha and Eid-el Fitr; a little token in our opinion, but we know it will enhance his family’s nutrition for a reasonable period.  We greet each other heartily whenever we do see, and he always seems genuinely happy to see us.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago when we had some major road work done in the neighborhood that resulted in a major access road becoming inaccessible for a few days.  This meant we had to park at the other end of our street as that end had been barricaded (don’t ask :|) and walk a short distance home – nothing uncomfortable, and thankfully it is currently Harmattan, so there was next to no chance of having to deal with the rains :).  On that morning, I had gone on the morning school run, returned, parked at the closed end of the street, saw Ahmed as I walked home, we greeted ourselves heartily as usual, and I walked on home.  When it was time for the afternoon school run, I rushed out nearly late as usual (sigh!), returned with my crew, parked at the closed end of the street again.  I carefully chose my spot so I would neither end up being sandwiched in nor obstruct the free flow of traffic).  I then got my crew arranged with their school items in place in their backpacks on their shoulders, then got into our set-to-walk position: I hold Miss AB’s hand, and Mstr EB holds her other hand, with me being closest to the street and Mstr EB closest to the curb.

Just as I was silently congratulating myself on getting us all “in-sync” in good time, I saw Ahmed walking briskly towards us, trying to tell me something that I could not yet hear.  I looked around wondering what he could be saying: did I miss a sign that said not to park there? was it supposed to be someone else’s spot?  As he got closer, I heard the sweet words:

“Madam you fit enter; e get person wey go open am for you.” (Madam, you can drive your car through; I have someone who will open up the barricade for you)

My eyes must have been as large as circles!  I had no idea the lock at the barricade even had a key!  And to find out that not only did it have a key, the holder of the key was close by, and Ahmed had gotten him to provide us access!  You would think I had won a lottery!  I thanked Ahmed profusely, told the munchkins that they would get their leg-stretch exercise another time, and happily drove us home.

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Why did this action of Ahmed’s make such an impression on me?  Because even though it was not an uncomfortable distance, it felt good to have someone else look out for us without us making any move to make a request, and knowing the person would not ask us for anything in return.  Also, because the gesture was not materialistic in any way, but provided a much-needed respite on a very hot day.

In Yoruba, we have a short phrase: “k’a sa ma se da da,” which loosely means “it is good to do good.” Let us please continue to be kind to others without expecting anything in return; we never know when that gesture will be returned and how much impact it will have.  In this instance, we were the direct beneficiaries; in other instances, it may be our loved ones that would be the beneficiaries.  Do not view a person through the lens of class, status, appearance, age, or religion, to determine whether or not to be kind; we all belong to a single race called humanity, and no one knows anyone’s tomorrow, not even our own.  So, go forth and be kind!

image courtesy Sue Barrett via LinkedIn

Got any karma stories of your own to share?