Saturday, July 29, 2006
I am sick of all the poverty around. Snot faced kids, begging for a buck, cleaning windscreens like their life depends on it. I look at their faces and try to imagine them in a different situation. With parents that have money. Primary school education at Corona or Grange, clean clothes, less despair in their lives and in their eyes. A warm nice bed to sleep on. If only they were that, people would not cringe when they come near. I see some of these children in the rain, begging so that their mothers, fathers and siblings will have a meal. (yes, sometimes, if you look around you'll spy their parents somewhere around).
I fear for the girls the most. They lead the blind and sometimes push the lame. I wonder what other services they are made to render. I am not thinking in extremes, I understand that a lot of the men they help around have their "wicked" way with them. Girls that don't even have an inkling what puberty is because their bodies are still years away from that particular development.
Some times I feel like screaming: Lord, why do some have nothing at all? I would love to make a difference, touch lives. No matter what I do, it seems so inadequate as though I am just tossing drops of water in a bottomless bucket in a bid to fill it up. I'm not rich or anything, but I make enough.
I have a hard time collecting clothes for the needy because people are afraid that they will get jazzed by ne'er do gooders. So I have fashied and I just do my thing myself. I give my old clothes to refugees; send my baby's clothes to motherless babies, give money to beggars when I can. Yet, it seems I have done nothing. I look at pictures like these and I am saddened. I know they are far away, but I know that if I dedicate myself, I can still reach them. I know because if someone tells me that a million pounds awaits me under a malnourished baby’s crib in Niger, I will get there (hell, I will get there if its just £2,000).
The difference in standards of living in Lagos is so great, that the poor hardly get to cross the gulf. I read this story and was filled with wonder, I had never seen things that way before. Figures, as I am neither a brie eating chic nor am I a beggar on the street. I am just plain middle class. For the record, I have nothing against people spending their hard earned money the way they want, Lord knows I do. I read Gbemi's story on the Motherless baby's home and my heart sunk to my feet. I visualised that boy hitting his head continuallly on his crib, yeeech!! My friend went to a motherless baby home and saw a baby that had been found in a gutter. Apparently, she was a few hours old when her mother threw her in there. Before she was rescued, maggots had started eating her body. Her little body tells the story. Her skin looks really pockmarked. Just 2 months old, she will grow up with the tell-tale marks of her parent's abandonment. In fact, I was made to understand that visitors generally do not like to touch her, as they find her repulsive.
Enough ramblings, what to do? what to do? Any ideas?
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Well, the post about how pleasant and nice the movie was has turned into a post about how I get nothing but prejudice. I get it at work, on the street and especially when I have to deal with artisans, junior staff and my fellow sisters.
I had to go to work on saturday and an issue involving the drivers was brought to my notice. True, I am not exactly their contact person, but since the issue was reported to me, I had to handle it.
I left my desk to seek out the driver in question. Made sure I heard him out, played out the empathy bit and then pleaded with him to continue to perform the particular function he was to perform until Monday comes…a week day which will bring with it official e-mails that will either relieve him of this duty he so badly did not want to do or ensure that he carries it out to the tiniest detail.
He agreed and asked me to call some one else who his company actually liaises with to talk to him and confirm that he should continue carrying out the function. “O.k”., said I, “I will get X to call you and confirm” With that, I left on what I thought was a good note. About 30minutes later, I go outside when he is supposed to leave the office. His fellow drivers are there, and he has started being stubborn about it again. In fact he even raises his voice when I approach him. Said that there was no way he was going to perfornm the task we had alread agreed on.I ask if X has called him. No. I call X to remind him and a few seconds the driver’s phone rings and he starts talking to “Oga X”. Oga??? Oga X and I happen to be on the very same level in the office. Hell, we were even in the same university together and matriculated and graduated in the same respective years. I say nothing. After speaking to “Oga” X, he turns to me and says that he will do as he was told. That’s when I got upset. And asked him if what X asked him to do was different from what I asked him to do. Of course he could not answer. And this is what I have to deal with a lot of times. Normally, I would just let it slide because I feel that drawing attention to it just makes it worse but I was so pissed off!
This might not seem like much of a case, so let me take you down my memory lane. I started noticing this sort of behavior when I moved to Port-Harcourt to work. I spent about 8 months there and I was self-conscious half the time. I had a really nice car to drive down there and I somehow tuned in to the fact that a lot of people tend to look at your wedding finger when you are driving. Hmmm, I thought it was just my imagination the first few times I noticed it. My doubt cleared when it was constantly repeated, especially when I was driving that car. I mean, for a young girl like me to drive that sort of car, a man had to have settled me big time for services rendered. And they did not stop there, a few times I had to drive into the university and the security guards would regard me with derision. Not that I am even a funky dresser. They jut feel threatened when they see a relatively young girl rolling in what they perceive to be a ride that is too nice. And this was a tokunbo!
When my husband-who-never-was (story for never) and I were setting up house, the work-men that came to fix up the place were so guilty of this behavior. Whenever I ask them to ask about something or I am talking to them, they would turn to him to either reply (hello, I thought I was the one that spoke to you) or even seek his approval to carry out my instructions. this happened so may times that I had to draw his attention to it. He thought I was imagining things until he took time out to actually notice these things. Haba!! Or was it at the beginning when we were looking for a place for him to move into? The estate agent showed ME the kitchen and said that since that would be my ???office??? I should be the one to look at it. That would have been really nice and courteous behavior if it had been that I was moving into the house or the man was not so ernest about it. And he knew that the house was for the bobo only o!
One of my future posts will be on how a LASTMA official did the obirin ni thing. Silly people driving me crazy.
Sad thing is that I get this from women as well. I had a neighbor in P/H who had 2 kids under the age of 3. Her philandering husband left one day on the pretext of traveling to a nearby town to collect on a cheque. Claiming it would be faster there. I mean this is the sort of guy who probably used the age old excuse of the dog ate my homework. She KNEW where he really went, especially as he was a no show that night. She even told me as much. And imagine, he left her about N100 and almost no food in the house. This was a man who worked in a company that people aspire to. And it was not his first time. Few days later she was talking to me about a woman that lived in the same neighborhood and said to me that she was a really difficult woman and that it was clear she was frustrated because “she isn’t married”. How I kept the laughter that was bubbling under the surface back, I don’t know. I mean, if they ask married women to stand up and form a queue, this girl would hustle her way to the front. This was her general view of unmarried women…and she was not alone at all. Loads of girls (married and unmarried do this).
A friend told me that she a girl in her class was rumored to have gotten married and she (my friend) immediately started viewing the girl with new found respect. In her words “it was as though a halo appeared around the girl's head”. I laughed long and hard at that. Then she went on to say that she had later learned that the rumor was spurious. In her words again “the halo immediately disappeared, scheeew(loud and long hiss) ” My friend is still currently unmarried. And she is not a bad person at all. Just someone that has let societal pressure get to her.
I refuse, I refuse, I refuse to feel like less of a person because I am female and /or unmarried. Why? because, I rise!!
Sunday, July 16, 2006
I have always had a Vmobile line. I was with them when they were called ECONET. I passed through the worst sort of ribbing when they changed their name twice in quick succession. My friend would call me the girl that had the Econet, erm…vodacom…oops Vmobile line and ask me why I did not leave the confused network. Why? Because I love their service: especially their customer service.
Well, I have to don my armor to bounce off all the ribbing I am going to get again because they are about to become known as CELTEL. Yep, I am going to get it again!!
The girl with an Econet, erm…vodacom…oops Vmobile…no, Celtel line.
A.k.a the girl with a phone line formerly known as Econet.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
For the purpose of this mail permit me to refer to "power" or “electricity” as light". That is what I am used to.
You've probably heard the jokes:
There was a neighborhood which had not had light for 4 years. Somehow, the god of NEPA smiled at them, men came in a van, tinkered with the wires and hey pronto!!- the light came on. Children that had been born in the last 4 years and had never seen a bulb come on, much less a television ran and hid in fright, crying that "ojuju" (masquerade) had come.
So I was on my way back home from work yesterday. A colleague was seated in the vehicle next to me. As we approached the area, we both automatically started doing something that a lot of people in Lagos and I imagine other parts of Nigeria do. It’s called "light hunting". For those that are not privy to this rather interesting and subtle sport let me explain the aim of the game:
* To tell from 5 or more streets away from home if NEPA (now known as PHCN) has provided you with light (electricity).
There are rules to this game. The highly skilled in this game can
* tell you the houses that have their light bulbs on night and day. These are most prized.
* tell you which ones have recently bought generators and as such are not eligible to be used as criteria to judge as to whether there is light.
Anyways so I was on my way home and just as we turned a corner, I started to say "there's..." and he said "...light!" We looked at each other and smiled. The smile of "ah, so you too even sabi!" Apparently, the guy even sabi more than me. He said “thank goodness, I will go and iron my clothes because we are off tomorrow.” Off? I asked what he meant. Apparently, there is some sort of load shedding going on on his street where they have light for 3days on, one day off. On the day off, there will never be light. At the same time, on the “on” days, there might not be light for a few hours. Not surprising.
What started this post? We just received our NEPA bill and surprise! Surprise!! It was less than N1,000. In a house were the light bulbs are constantly blazing and were we have an assortments electronic implements to make life just a bit easier? Hmmm. goes to show you how often we have had light in the last month.
Now I got to go. Typing this post is exacerbating my headache. That’s because I am in the middle of appraising some people at work and I thought that this would relax me. It didn’t. Back to the grind.
The deadline for submission is soon. I will write more after it’s over.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I have added another entry to my C.V. Up until yesterday, I was a single mum, full-time worker, part-time masters student (no, not UNILAG or LASU- I don't believe in pissing my money off getting a Nigerian Masters, story for another day), part time omo-odo / housegirl because we do not have one, full-time friend to Miss A (that is a valid entry believe me). O.k., I think that's it.
Now, I have added Cuban salsa dancer to the list. Cuban salsa, Cuban salsa, Cuban salsa...I love the way it rolls off my tongue. It sounds so exotic. I started my classes yesterday. Why? Because, sadly, I do not have rhythm. Or so my siblings claim. They say that if a gun was held to my head and someone said “dance or die!” they would have to arrange for a burial. *fume*
So, for 15hrs this month, I am going to be learning the skills that will wow my cynical siblings and perhaps the world. Look out shakira!! I will soon be launching HIPS DON”T LIE Part two in no time. Don’t worry, I will still remember you all when my dancing brings me fame and glory.
And no, my tutor does not look that hot.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
I had an accident yesterday.
I was on the third mainland bridge, going from Victoria Island to the Adekunle exit that leads to Ebute-Metta. My daughter was in the back in her car seat so of course I was doing je-je on the road. I was just going btw 80-100 km/h and the next thing I saw, a second too late, was a hole on the road. I hit it with a bit of force and heard a big thwack! I was like, “what the heck?”...Next thing I know, the car is wobbling a bit and I realize that I have a flat tire. I tried slowing down, no way. It was going wobble wobble wobble in the meanest of way so I just put it in park. It finally shuddered to a stop.
I could not even really get off the road properly. I was on the slow lane yeah, but anyone that knows 3rd mainland can attest to the fact that there are no slow lanes. At this point, my heart was thumping. It was 6.00p.m and I was alone with my daughter on this dangerous bridge...eek! Talk about being a sitting duck!! I got down and ran to the passenger side to see assess the damage. I just glanced at it and ran back in (I was wearing 3” heels and did not feel good about standing there with that ferocious wind whipping around me). Have I ever mentioned that I have a bad case of vertigo? I hate heights with a passion. I always have this sensation that I am about to fall. And then I feel uncomfortable around large bodies of water. If there is a deep bowl of water, it’s almost impossible to get me to dip my hand in it. I was more or less facing the ocean and I was on this bridge that was vibrating at a constant frequency. Men, I felt like vomiting. My heart was still thumping. Luckily my phone battery hadn’t given out (my charger has issues) so I called my classmate (I was just coming from his Hotel). I figured that if I called my dad, it would take him a lot longer to get there. Besides, the man is pushing 70. The last thing he needs is coming to change my tire. No, there’s absolutely no-one else in my house that can do it. No brothers around and the me-guard hurt his hand recently. My classmate said he was coming so I just sat there.
Then my daughter started crying because she was tired of being in her car seat. I had to let her out and she came and crawled all over the front. I kept all my windows locked and the a/c on so that she would be comfortable and had made up my mind that absolutely nothing short of death was going to get me out of that car. My classmate called and said that he was at Falomo Bridge. “Hurry!” I thought desperately. Just then, a boy walking on the road started gesturing and asking me a question that I did not hear. I was not even interested as I was scared of him turning out to be an area boy who viewed me as his weekend meal ticket. The guy was stocky and well built (you won’t blame me). He walked off without looking back.
I was still there O!! It was SCARY because I just had my hazard lights on and no caution lights. Like I said I was not going to get down from the car. I just sat there praying that a speeding car did not come and ram into me, pushing me into the water. Luckily the barriers were there sha. There was a guy in a sky blue Camry who slowed down and then took off again. (If you are reading this, I am not angry; it’s the condition of the world that does not give us an enabling environment to be good Samaritans. I would do the exact same thing to you and not out of any malice.)
Then a cab stopped ahead of me and started reversing. “Maybe he thinks I will leave the car and go with him”. I thought. “Not a chance!” He alighted and came round to the passenger side. He looked like a kindly old man so I wound down the window.
“What is the problem” he said. I told him and he asked me if I had a spare tire. “Yes.” Okay, open the boot. I did, hoping that he would not be a monster that would steal my tools & spare tire and run. (I still would not have come out). He took what he needed, went back to get a tool that I was missing, jacked the car up, changed the tire, replaced my tools, put the bad tire in the boot and then came to tell me he was done and that I could drive off. All this time, I was still in my safe place. I wound down again, thanked him profusely. Told him that The Lord would bless him and gave him a little money which he accepted but DID NOT ask for. There are still good people in the world who are not afraid to put themselves at risk to help a fellow human being. For all he knew, it was a trap.
I then started on the journey home, less a wheel cover. Shaking but very grateful to God for sending me help and for answering my prayer.
On a final note, I would like to call on the government to please! please!! please!!! Fix the road. As much as it sounds like a plea, it is actually my right to have the road fixed. I have paid my taxes duly. You even tax my bonuses and overtime pay!! Is it too much for me to ask not to pay for repairs that wouldn’t have come about if you had done your work? If my baby and I had died, my blood would have been on your head and hands… Take that to bed with you (if you can be moved). There are holes all over that bridge.
5 things I am grateful for
- My girl and I are alive and well to tell the tale.
- I was not pushed off the bridge.
- I had my faith in mankind challenged.
- I have money for the tire repairs, purchase of a new rim and wheel cover (thank you for that surprise bonus at work).
- Ich bin nicht allein