Posted in Pinches of Salt

Untitled (continued)

Bring out your dictionaries ladies and gentlemen. The time has come for them to be used.

Inspiration has come again, so I am trying to answer the next segment of the untitled series.

Part B

Misogyny, Chauvinism, Feminism and Misandry

So, today at work, I spoke up about sexual harassment I have been receiving at work as well as females getting looked down on by their male counterparts.

Quite coincidentally I saw a post by another blogger. It was about an african female musician who had a massive wardrobe malfunction while performing and she had no undergarment on. The blogger attributed it to the lengths at which “women” will go for fame. He also added, women please respect yourself so that you can be respected.

I’m thinking to myself, why must it be women though? If you look at almost all the streets in Nigeria, there is always a man with his penis out peeing on the road. If you look at almost all the streets in Nigeria, there is always a shirtless man with his boxers just on the ridge of his buttocks. Why doesn’t these count as a disrespectful situation for a man? Or are they trying to say that me as a lady will not get sexually attracted by a man’s firm bum or seeing a beautiful penis and looking away? Hell no. The good Lord gave me eyes to see and as such I will take my time to appreciate any male specimen he has put on this earth without feeling shy.

Personally, except in really distressful situations like long journeys and no convenience, I find it distasteful when I see men peeing on the road, in broad daylight, in a busy city with toilets around. But no one will say anything about it because it is “normal”. It can never be counted as being disrespectful of a man. He can never lose his respect because he has done it.

Think about it this way, if two african adults, male and female decide to go fully nude for the cover of a magazine for example, who is the one they will say is without home training? Who is the one they will say the person has brought disgrace on their children? Who is the one they will say “I am sorry for whoever marries you”?

And there’s this one in movies that I do not get. They will show full nude frontal of a lady and just show the bum of a man. Are you seriously kidding me! I want to see the man in all his glory. So women deserve to be shown naked and men don’t?

That brings me to the end of one of my points; Feminism. A feminist as defined by a woman I look up to, Chimamanda Adichie is “a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes”.

I have just talked about one of the aspects of social. But believe me, they are a lot. Almost innumerable. We all know the major economic (lower wages for women), and the major political (lower official positions for women).

So I came to work and was told I was to serve staff meal. I don’t bother too much about what is beneath my status or what not. I usually just do whatever I am told to do if my spirit accepts it. But believe me when I say it is the most degrading job I have ever done. First of, the staff population are largely uncultured and uncouth. Secondly, you have to clean up after them; wash the dishes, clean the trash, clear the food warmers. So I’m there, strutting away in my shoes and beautiful clothing, carrying a large and heavy pan of food which is supposedly supposed to be a man’s job. But as the guys appointed with me were dragging their feet about it and I had a lot of work to do back at the office, I carried all the heavy pans. No biggie right.

Food service started, I did it, the other guy had still done nothing. I was beginning to fume but I kept quiet waiting for his end game. Food service ended. The dishes were not cleared from the tables majorly from the uncultured staff and the cleared ones were sitting in the sink unwashed. Mr. A still hadn’t lifted a finger. He was just sitting and smiling. I cleared the service table and picked up my things and started walking out. I got called back by the other lady.

Lady: “Alia, where are you going?”

Me: “I am going back to my work, I am done here.”

Lady: “We haven’t finished, we have to wash these plates”

Me: “For what? That is Mr A’s duty”

Lady: “Na man go wash the plates? It is a woman’s job to wash the plates.”

I turned to look and Mr. A was smiling sheepishly like he just won. I just walked out on them. By this time, I had enough rage in me to cause a premature volcanic eruption.

You best believe that Mr. A washed up all the dishes.

It is exactly this attitude of men that makes feminists inadvertently become misandrists.

Remember I said I spoke up about sexual harassment at work today.

After speaking, one of the men said, “well if you don’t want anyone to sexually harass you, wear rags to work, smell and come to work.” Another one said, “welcome to Nigeria”, “toasting is allowed”. Another one said, “every man that is not gay must look at you and appreciate you no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel”. And I am thinking to myself, that kind of “toasting” in the work place. And this is how hating men begins. I’m thinking to myself, this are the people in leadership who should have some sort of sympathy for my case. Because now if not that I have better sense, they have put it in my head that all men are the same.

I have had my fair share of toasters all through my short life. Even when I was still a kid with an excuse of a chest. But let me explain what Nigerian toasting is.

1. In Nigeria, toasting is a slang used in place of wooing a lady.

2. In Nigerian toasting, you’re allowed to hold her hands or any part of her body without permission and accost her at whatever time possible to make sure she agrees.

3. Nigerian toasting involves using lines from wise King Solomon in the bible. (Read Songs of Solomon from any bible version)

4. In Nigerian toasting, you are allowed to be sexually suggestive as you like.

5. At the end of the toasting exercise, if the lady refuses, some men accept it and let it go. Others, go round the neighbourhood and spoil your name due to their crushed ego.

Now I do not support misandry at all. I just believe there should be a balance to everything. Do not go around being an extremist for the sake of feminism, religion and the likes of these.

Now here’s a thread an honest writer friend of mine wrote.

We grew up in a deeply patriarchal society. We didn’t ask for it, we just saw that patriarchy was the normal way of life.

The men did it, the women enabled it. It was normal.

It was thrown at our faces everywhere.

In primary school, we saw how a boy was given head boy not because he was the most intelligent but because he had a penis.

In our churches, we saw how a male was made the head of choir not because he had the best leadership skills or the best voice, but because he was male.

In our compounds, we saw how men talked down on their wives and abused them consistently.

We noticed how during meetings, a young son is called to represent the family in the absence of the Dad instead of the mother because well, he was male.

In our villages, we saw the depravity women passed through because they were women.

We saw women sacrificed a lot, not because they were supposed to but solely because they were females and hence were expected to let go of personal dreams for others.

And unconsciously we believed that was normal.

It was normal as eating rice and stew every Sunday.

As we grew up, we started to learn and relearn things. We started thinking and realizing that if the only reason as males we were seen better than a woman was because of our genitalia, then maybe we weren’t better than them at all.

The only problem was, these things wouldn’t go away without conscious efforts.

Even though we knew, we still saw ourselves doing stuffs that screamed out inequality.

So we started putting conscious effort into our daily lives into treating people equally despite their gender.

This is a work in progress.

And we will be delusional and unrealistic to think everybody would buy into this.

Some dogs don’t learn new tricks at old age.

Some people are far deep into a patriarchal way of life that they would rather die than see life any differently.

Some are misogynist even without knowing they are.

Go to the parks, go to the slums, go to the villages and see that there is still a long way to go.

But we will get there, at least a majority of people would come to understand that everybody should be treated equally irrespective of gender.

In our society we grew up to see patriarchy as a way of life.

And good thing, we are all relearning.

On the other hand, it’s a very sad sight to see some women take the feminism to unprecedented heights void of any logical reasoning.

It’s like some extremists have hijacked feminism and have taken every thing out of context.

Feminism have caused a high level of paranoia that what comes to your mind first is feminism instead of common sense.

It would be an irony if ten years from now, a lot of men have dropped their misogynistic tendencies only for you to wake up and realise you have become that one thing that you hated – a misandrist.

Wouldn’t it be an irony to come to that point and realise due to your unchecked struggles you have crossed that thin line and ended up hating men.

And maybe then, the wave wouldn’t be feminism again. It would now be menism.

Feminism shouldn’t replace common sense.

Personally whenever I’m out with a female friend, I hold the door for them. It was something I did effortlessly.

At a time I stopped because I felt since we should all be treated equally, then why should I open a door for a lady?

She should open her damn door herself.

Then I realised later that equality shouldn’t replace chivalry. Chivalry shouldn’t be dead because we want to treat everyone equally.

Those little things that put a smile on someone’s face shouldn’t go away.

It’s the same thing a lot of people are struggling with.

There are soemthings that shows your lack of common sense instead of feminism.

Like Aunty Bumni said, how would you say you are married and won’t discuss a business plan with your spouse before venturing into it.

Isn’t that lack of common sense?

Are you people married or are you both roommates?

Or were both of you specially called by God just to populate the earth.

If tomorrow you get married and a situation happens that one spouse needs to stay home for a short while because of the kids and as a lady it has to be you, not because you are a female but because, maybe you earn lesser or your work happens to be much more flexible than your husband’s or the situation at hand makes you the best fit at that point without gender issues coming to play.

Would you rather allow your kids suffer because you are trying to prove a feminist point?

Or would you allow common sense Prevail?

In your homes, would you rather allow a little issue escalate into a mountain of warfare because you are trying to prove a point.

It takes Wisdom to know how to choose your fight.

If you have an understanding with your spouse, you can allow somethings slide for the greater good.

A lot of people are losing common sense because of all this.

Every issue isn’t a call to bring out our arsenals and fight.

Wisdom is profitable to direct.

Don’t become what you are fighting against.

You’ll despise yourself at the end.”

Laa Pulga Prince

Enough said.

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Posted in Pinches of Salt

The End

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 KJV

[5] For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

[6] Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

I came in to work this morning, it felt different. It is a Monday. Usually I find happy faces, all those I hadn’t seen over the weekend. At least the greetings were cheerful. And also, it is a Monday. Monday mornings are usually full of jostling and bubbling. I wondered why.

Well I proceeded to my office and five minutes later, I got told that a colleague had died the prior night. To say, I was shocked is an understatement. He had an accident.

To put things in perspective, let me break this down in detail.

He came to work on Saturday, told his colleagues goodbye at the close of work and proceeded home.

On his way home, he got called by Mr X’s wife that Mr X was gravely ill and had refused to go to the hospital. He probably called his wife and his kids. He probably said to the little kids “daddy won’t be home early today, daddy will get you something on his return”; his wife probably already making dinner and him promising to return early so as to eat the food while it’s still hot. He is just going to take sick Mr. X to the hospital. That’s the kind of man he was or at least he appeared to be. Selfless. He probably came back home tired after the day’s job and still wanted to take his sick friend to the hospital. You see Mr X was both a colleague and a friend.

He successfully took Mr X to the hospital and he got on a bike, because it is quicker, so that he can make it home in time for dinner. Halfway through the journey… BOOM!!! His bike had collided with a car. No helmets to protect him, no metal shield by his side; as his head hit the road with a thud. He made it to the hospital, but he didn’t survive it.

I am just thinking about the call his young wife received. He was supposed to eat with the family that night.

I am thinking about the call his immediate colleagues received. It cannot be. They only just said goodbye to him. He was supposed to show up at work the next day.

I am thinking about the call the organisation received. He had just attended a surprise party thrown for the General Manager before going home. Everyone was happy; eating and drinking.

I am just thinking about Mr X’s wife. Do you think she will forgive herself for being the one that made him leave his family at that particular time?

I am just thinking of Mr X, do you think he’ll forgive his wife and himself for indirectly causing his friend’s death? Do you think he’ll be able to face his colleagues again?

That could have easily been me. I use a bike to and from work almost everyday. The bike drivers are very rough and erratic in their driving. As a matter of fact, I entered a bike driven by such a driver this morning to work.

Death always has a way of putting things in perspective. I would like to believe that he died happy. I would like to believe that in his final moments, he wasn’t thinking about how he should have apologised to his wife for their morning fights. I would like to believe he wasn’t thinking of the harsh way he treated a junior colleague.

His chapter is over. His curtain has been drawn. His candle is burnt out.

Life is too short.

Live everyday like it is your last.

Be kind to others.

Do not have regrets.

Never carry over fights; either to sleep at night or to work.

Breathe.

Posted in Pinches of Salt

Africa and Marriage – The Beginning and The End (2)

Dear Diary, I am forming a terrible habit again. Writing on paper before transferring to this space. I mean it is really risky since I do not have a safe. Anyway, my phone was busy and I had to continue this post.

I think my life is like a never ending book. Often when writing, I find myself referring back to things I see or experience on a daily basis. So I started writing this post almost immediately after the first part was published. My apologies for waiting this long. So I had a conversation with my boss recently and it went something along the lines of;

Boss: Alia, are you married?

Me: No, ma’am.

Boss: Why? What is taking so long? You are a beautiful and decent girl, I am sure it wouldn’t be that hard for you to find someone. (The irony of this statement though).

Me: I need to be financially independent and stable to a certain extent before I think about taking the plunge.

Boss: It doesn’t really matter my dear, as long as you’re working. I know the economy is terrible now so it’s good for both partners to be working, however do not base your marriage schedule on it because your husband will be pitching in more financially.

Me: *rolls eyes repeatedly silently*

Boss: My son is in Germany. He is doing very well. He is currently applying for a permanent stay… (I’m sure you all can figure out how this ends)

Me: Ma, I am engaged.

Boss: (shocked face) Oh really! Ehya! How old are you? When are you getting married? Where is he? What does he do?

Me: (Repeats answer given three replies ahead and answers other questions).

Boss: Okay. Remember it is good for a lady to get settled quickly, as our biological clock is ticking.

Me: Getting married now doesn’t mean I will still have kids immediately.

.……………………………………………………..

Okay. Newsflash! I am not engaged. I am terribly single like that strand of hair lying in the centre of your pillow in the morning. Not for lack of trying or for lack of being asked out. Okay, I must confess, I have a terrible taste in men. I am not sure I have a particular taste actually. All I know is I do not fall for the kind that ladies love. I do not fall for the charming or the hopeless romantics. Infact, I avoid them like a plague. Which is quite weird, because they’re first class attention givers and I am an attention seeker.

But here’s the deal though, I do not think I am going to get married. Most ladies dream of the day they’ll walk down the aisle but for me, I am having a hard time day dreaming about anything. I have tried though. I have a wedding planner book, dedicated wedding planning notes on my gadgets, I have even selected a few songs. But for some reason it’s all just superficial. I’m just doing it because I like to plan things way ahead.

For me, marriage has always been a license to have unrestrained sex without facing condemnation, at least in Africa. I have never really thought about it as an institution for companionship, friendship, etc. I would prefer personally to have a live-in partner. If my mother should read this blog, she will be repeating “The Blood of Jesus” severally. I am sorry mother. Now here’s why I am not sure I am going to get married.

1. I am not a wife material as per African standards. I am arrogant, stubborn and I do not know how to cook compared to most African ladies. I’d rather not cook. Cooking bores me. Did I also mention that I have no respect? I talk before I think. I also do not know my local language.

2. I am picky. I do not know my problem particularly. But with men and relationships I am put off by a lot of things. Now marriage means tolerating said things in the long term. Yikes!!!

3. I am terribly short fused. Marriage makes people even shorter fused. And when kids are involved… No comments.

4. I have a difficulty in communication and talking about my personal feelings. I like to draw every intimate detail of someone’s life out of them but I have severe difficulties talking about same intimate details of mine. Do not get me wrong when I say I have a difficulty in communication. If you step on my toes, I will step on yours right back and break your phalanges just for good measure. I am talking about heart-to-heart conversations. Every time I try, the words get jumbled up and stuck in my throat. I heard somewhere that marriage is all about communication. Well, I am lacking.

5. African men and their pointless godfather complex. Some may say I’m not qualified to talk because I haven’t got a pair of testicles. But I am, because I have lived with, interacted with and dated African men. Why do African men have the godfather complex? A godfather is any man who serves as a sponsor for a CHILD at baptism. With emphasis on CHILD.

To be continued…

Posted in Pinches of Salt

The Himalayan Lily

Slowly, slowly, do not rush the unfolding of your soul. Everything takes time to bloom.

Around this time last year, I was a major actress at the dysthymia stage. I had almost every symptom dysthymia wanted from its slaves. I had a loss of enjoyment in things I once found pleasurable, major change in weight( in my case, a loss of more than 5% of weight within a month), insomnia at least for 345 of 365 days in a year, physically restless and rundown, excessively fatigued almost every day and the one that got me a job at that large theatrical stage was the feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness.

For you folks wondering what dysthmia is. In simple terms, it is chronic depression. I am not exactly sure how it started. But as the days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, I noticed that I had started drifting from people. The once fun and expressive girl had turned withdrawn and desolate. I had a very select few I kept contact with and if you weren't on that list, I either rejected your calls or blocked your number depending on how willing you were to contact me.

I was obligated to go to a social night out at least once in a week so that my friends wouldn't suspect anything. Even during those social nights, I hardly communicated or socialised except when I had a direct question thrown to me. I just smiled and drank my way through the night. Yeah, I sipped my drink quicker than my friends could blink. I focused on my alcohol glass in front of me almost always. The only thing that usually could draw me away from my drink was dance and music. I could dance for hours without stopping. I would literally be pouring out sweat and have body pains but I still pushed myself and danced harder. Most of the time, it took the fact that my friends wanted to have a breath of fresh air to get me to go out and take a break. Seeing as I didn't want them to get hurt/lost/assaulted as usually I was always the sober one. I drank more percentage in alcohol than they took but I always sober. Actually there's a medical explanation for that. And I believe it has to do with the fact that since I was always exhausting energy and simultaneously drinking water because of thirst on the dance floor, I was inevitably sweating out the alcohol fluids and also got to weaken the alcohol mix by drinking water.

So how did it get this way? How did I let that cankerworm eat so deeply into me that nothing else was left except my motionless eyes and tortured soul? Why didn't I stop it before it was too late?

I have no answer for that. I guess it was just a build-up of so many things. Few years prior, I was experiencing academic setbacks, emotional abuse, professional setbacks, body shaming etc. So it kind of built up into one great portfolio of madness that my only escape became solitude. My life was lectures, library, home.

The last straw that broke the camel's back was my inability to get a first class in my degree. It ruined me. My friends all had first class. My classmates also had first class. Some important players in my life who said they loved me had great expectations for me and I let them down. To them it was, "you did a simple degree so why can't you pass in it." Well, I thought what they had for me was love. That was my first mistake I guess.
Fast forward, one month later, I had lost my job. I was on the verge of being thrown out of the home I had come to love. I was about to be separated from those who brought some semblance of meaning to my life.

I lost appetite gradually and with time I started forgetting to eat. I remember having my first meal of the day often when I am out for dinner at 7pm with my friends. I lost more weight then. From a size 10 (UK) to a size 6. Subsequent to the weight loss, came the hatred for my body. I hated my body. I liked the way skirts fit so snugly on other girls. I like the way their shape was pronounced when they wore a dress. I like the way their legs were smooth and not scarred like mine. I hated to dress up in front of other people, especially Africans because all I would hear is; "you're so flat", "you have no bum at all", "you're like a ruler".

I wished for a partner then. Someone I could just talk to. Someone I thought that could just love me for the way I am. Someone who wouldn't care about my lack of body fat. Maybe having someone who loved me the way I wanted to be loved would have made everything better. I wondered if something perhaps was wrong with me. Why don't I have anyone whom I could share my heart with? Why is no one writing sweet notes for me like Jean Pierre Jeanty (my romance idol) does for his lover?

So, have you changed? Do you think it's any different? Are you comfortable with your body now? Are you eating well?

Well, I think so. No. I know so. My appetite can be described these days as voracious. And as for my body and relationships, I realised something. I cannot expect somebody to love me if I cannot love myself first. I am slowly learning to love my body; scars and all. Infact, I acquired a newer scar on my leg recently. I still wear my short dresses and flaunt them perfectly shaped slim long legs proudly.

Interlude

Now to the point of this story, I am guessing by now you're wondering how the title of the story correlates with the writing thus far.

The Cardiocrinum giganteum, also called Himalayan Lily, is a plant that I will compare myself to. For most of its life, it exists as an unassuming clump of glossy leaves, but after five to seven years, it mysteriously sprouts up to three meters (9.8 feet) and produces a gift of delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers. It is the largest of all types of lilies.

Why am I saying this? All the people around me found their purpose in life early on. Everyone was moving quickly in the professional scene. My friends and family got well paying jobs and will be discussing their jobs with passion and keeping their listeners intrigued. And I was always behind the scenes wondering why I couldn't get anything right. Wondering why I flopped at everything; job interviews, work related to my academics. I considered myself useless. I wasn't sure of what I wanted. I wasn't even sure if I could do any work at all without messing it up.

Now, in the month of August 2017, just like the Himalayas, I have mysteriously sprouted my gifts and I am sharing it to the world. I have finally discovered my purpose in life. I have finally found something that I do not fumble at. Something that makes me very happy. Something that took my other colleagues at work, months to learn. Something I am sure those I have always compared myself to will have a had time learning. I have never felt more accomplished than I feel now.
And to think I found it in the strangest of places and in the weirdest of situations is simply amazing.

I am working now. Somewhere nice and fancy. As a waitress. With no form of experience whatsoever, I have mastered the art of balancing dishes, tray of glasses with one hand. In addition, I have learned some secrets of restaurants that I will use to develop my own soon. And I am happy. I am blooming. I smile easily, I feel proud when I look at my handiwork at work, I can easily engage in beautiful discussions about food and table setting. I am not yet earning up to those around me and really I don't compare myself to them anymore or regret my situation. Because out of my meagre pay and stressful shifts, I finally was able to realise how my future is going to look like. I don't know how it's going to end but surely now, I can see the beginning.

It is in the quiet crucible, of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born ~ Wintley Phipps

While many plants generously display their flowers every year and throughout entire seasons, others take their sweet time in showing off their blooms. And with time, I am positive that I will be the largest of all lilies.

Posted in Pinches of Salt

Untitled

Yes, the title of this entry is “Untitled”. It is not a mistake.

I have been writing this entry for the past two months. After waiting and waiting for inspiration, I have decided that there is a reason it has refused to be finished. I better let nature and fate decide the course of this entry. This is supposed to be a collection of my more random thoughts. I know I am going into the lions den by bringing up a potentially friendship destroying viewpoint on some issues. I am also going to be probably unfollowed by some. Do I care? Not really…
Oh well, happy reading.

How far are you willing to go for religion?

How far are you willing to go for Feminism or Chauvinism?

How far are you willing to go to let go of your individuality to embrace collectivism.


What is the goal of marriage?



Part A

I will start with this, I belong to the Christian religion. All the time, I see Christians pray and fast against gay marriage laws, abortion laws, equality acts concerning genders and sexuality.

Now I personally would not have a husband/wife that is the same sex as I am. I also do not support abortion that is not medically needed or gender change. But I do not discriminate against the LGBT group or those who have done abortion. I do not treat them any less. I do not think their gender or sexuality influences the way they do things or their ability to do their jobs effectively. I do not consider them “unclean” as most Christian extremists do. And I certainly don’t pray for them to burn in hell. I don’t also pray for the lawmakers to be destroyed. 

In their quest to fight for what they believe in, these believers give up a part of their time and energy. At least temporarily to pray and go on a fast. But while they suffer some discomfort and inconvenience and general public backlash, could we really say that they suffered for their faith? 

Have we forgotten Jesus Christ wasn’t unfair to a prostitute or judging her or criticising her. He wasn’t treating her like she’s got ebola. Let’s be clear that back then, being a prostitute was a really big deal. So why do Christians most especially, the followers of Christ treat the LGBT folk like lepers. Why do we not love them as we love ourselves. I am tired of hearing the talks of homosexuality and burning in hell in church all the time. It is a sign of the last days, yes I do know, but you are not helping matters at all. You are supposed to be saving them from themselves and from the last days. I believe there’s surely a milder way of bringing them into the “fold” if you want to.

Do not get me wrong, I consider myself to be religious at least to some extent. But I find myself unable to make the sacrifices some people make in the name of Christianity. Maybe I am not religious enough.

You would see a a grown man, educated, wealthy with a good paying job… suddenly decides it is his fate to quit his job and suffer because he heard a “call” saying he should be a full time pastor. Now if we are going to be biblical, Apostle Paul was working while being an evangelist. In his words;” If any would not work, neither should he eat” – KJV

Now assuming indeed God did call you, Why should your family suffer because you had a call? When God was calling you, did he ring their numbers as well? Or was it a conference call? 

Wouldn’t it have been better for you to make alternative arrangements so that your family will still be well taken care of? An arrangement that will still be bringing some sort of bread on the family’s table.

Or should I talk about the parents who wants to ruin their children’s life; career wise, because it will benefit the church to study a particular profession as opposed to their kids following their dreams. It doesn’t matter if the kids have the ability for such profession. Everything that matters is the church and what everyone else will think if they follow their dreams.

Okay, let’s take a break shall we? To my Nigerian followers, did you know that “Abeokuta” means “under the rock”? And “Osogbo” means “by the bush”? Perhaps now you know the reason some of the indigenes of those cities behave the way they do.



To be continued…

Posted in Pinches of Salt

Let’s Play Catch-up?

As I sit in the front seat on this rather rickety bus on a rather bumpy ride to Lagos State for a few days of reprieve before I start work at my PPA, my mind flashes back on a few things.

First, I really need to do a widal test. Never have I been more grateful for having an injury just before camp that made me take antibiotics till this very moment. I have eaten weird things, I have dined in even weirder places and I have drank the water of affliction. From impure borehole water with a metallic taste peddled as bottled water at camp for exorbitant prices to sachet water where I could literally taste the sand in the water even as it tasted like tortoise meat. Have I had a tortoise dinner before? Absolutely not! But I have a feeling it would taste like that water. I haven’t tasted metal either before.

Secondly, I am extremely pleased that I did not choose Lagos State as my state for national service. Now, Lagos is very posh, comfortable, and very civilised (at least some places). It will be more suited to my tastes and needs than the ancient city which I chose. But here I am thanking my stars that I didn’t pick it. For just two reasons: one being the level of human and vehicular traffic. It reminds me of my dear Oxford Road. And the other reason being the amount of “yellow” in the state. It is so blinding. If I lived in Lagos I would pray to the Almighty to make me colour blind temporarily. You turn everywhere and you will see a bright stunning shade of yellow. You see yellow is the official colour for transport buses. That wouldn’t have been much of an issue if those buses are not too numerous to count and if they had a timetable or schedule of some sorts on when to appear on the roads. But you see, they don’t. You look left, you see yellow; you look right, you see yellow, you look front or back and you get the same outcome. Even the traffic light poles are painted yellow.
Would you look at this!!! A never ending stretch of yellow fever. 

Maybe because I have never been a fan of bright colours, but I am yet to understand why the government chose yellow. Yellow as a colour signifies sunshine, hope and happiness. I don’t see anything particularly cheery or hopeful about Lagos State. I have heard it is the land where dreams are achieved. Well I hope my dreams get achieved here as well before I go.

Thirdly… okay this is more of an observation, I have drank more garri since I started this national service journey than I have done in my entire life. And that is not even slightly funny. I really need to resume my workout immediately I start work because I can feel that my “village pipo” are planning a flabby tummy for me.

Fourthly, did you know that riding on a motorbike is like having sex, cowboy style 24 hours non-stop? So, while I was house-hunting, I had to go to a location where I had to be on this bike for 45minutes straight without stopping because there was a road diversion. The bad road and impromptu bumps didn’t make it feel any better. After that journey, I could hear my inner thighs begging for mercy and my poor feet suffered from pins and needles. You would think that I will be successful after so much stress, I wasn’t. Such was my luck.

And the last prize goes to ghosts. So I never used to believe in ghosts till I came to this town. Now I believe in them. Here’s an example, in the middle of the night, all the dogs in the neighbourhood in unison will start crying. Now I know that dogs generally howl when other wolves not part of the hunting pack are howling to direct the hunting pack to their location. So here’s my question… Why should all the dogs be crying in the midnight when there’s no major forest or bushes in sight for hunting? Why should the dogs be crying when there is actually no wolf, not to talk of wolves in a residential area? Why should I be hearing strange footsteps when no actual human is outside? Why should the said dogs be running around the compound when there’s no cat in sight?

Another example, there is actually a house, where ghosts wash your clothes for you. Any clothing they find dirty. I have seen the said house. It had a “To Let” sign in front of it. And I made the mistake of asking about it…

Well, let’s just say I learned never to ask questions at least while I am still here.

Posted in Pinches of Salt

Africa and Marriage – The Beginning and The End (1)


Source: Google Images. 

Original artwork by Kehinde Awofeso

I’ve been trying to write something on this for a very long time, but today I was just spurred into action by my grandmother (I love my grandmother very much). So please pardon the rant and the possible errors. It’s a fuel-ignited rage thing.

Okay, here’s the match stick that fired up this furnace. So I’ve been away from home for a long time and since my return, a day hasn’t passed when I haven’t heard remarks concerning my figure (or the lack thereof). I’ve always laughed it off respectfully. Usually on a normal day, I like to eat small portions of food. My stomach cannot take any more than my usual quantity of food at any one time. So the bone of this night’s contention, my dinner. My grandma and I were supposed to share some leftovers.

And my grandma goes off: “Everytime you’ll be taking food meant for fowl. My ancestors will say “na food wey dey stop at the throat only, e no go reach your belly”. Eat food let someone see some flesh on you…”

She really meant well. I understand perfectly her intention. You see back in her day before a woman gets married, she gets into a “fattening room”, to serve as an additional pillow for her husband. Getting fat was a sign that your fiancée or husband was taking good care of you.

Even if I was to have ice cream and fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I would never be curvy (trust me I’ve tried). I would just end up with a flabby excuse for a stomach. My curves have outrightly refused to increase.

My mum calls me saying, remove all the curtains and handwash them. If you’ve ever been to a typical African home, one room would have at least four extra large and extra thick curtains. Now if you see my size and the slenderness of my fingers, you would be very scared for me. And then I complain and murmur, she replies with “in your husband’s house who will be doing it?” 

Please, where is it written that women should be the ones washing every single item of clothing in a house. Well mother, in my husband’s house, I would have a washing machine. If the washing machine gets bad at any point, I would send those curtains straight to a laundry. Infact, I would wash everything that wouldn’t get ruined with my washing machine. Not because I’m lazy or hate to handwash, no, because I hate stress. I would not deliberately cook with firewood just to prove I am a true African when cookers are in existence.

Another time will be; “Alia you’re going to be the one that will pound the yam and the fufu today. You don’t know where you are going to marry into. They may like to eat pounded yam everyday”. I am stupefied at this point. I’m well acquainted with a mortar and a pestle, but by God the man who wants me to pound yam for him everyday will rot in hell. Is he the Okonkwo of the 21st century? I was lucky to be born in a generation that has a massive improvement in technology. So why shouldn’t I just use yam flour? Or better still, why can’t a man learn to pound yam? It is a back-breaking work after all and women are the “weaker” vessels, aren’t we? 

I think most African men are just full of BS. They say women need to do so, so and so. They just select what they think is easier for them. Please can we switch roles for a day. I be the “provider”, you be the house keeper. I don’t even understand why a man has to be the provider. I am going to be a wealthy, successful woman so I really don’t mind being the “provider”. Marriage is a 50/50 partnership. I don’t expect my man to be well accomplished and all before we get married. If there’s anything, I will like us to build together. Start small together, save together, and earn money together. I am not looking for a man who is great, I am looking for a man who has the potential to be great.

So I got a job. A well paying job and all. Then I realised my boss had ulterior motives. He was “happily” married with kids of both genders. At first, I was thinking maybe I’m too paranoid or I overthink things, I let it slide. I mean afterall sexual harassment cannot happen to Alia. Until he came out plainly to tell me what he wanted from me. I was deceived into thinking that maybe I was employed become I am smart and well-read.

No. I was just a good looking face for the company, irresistible sexual appeal, In his words; “Men by nature just want to taste other girls, not because they no longer like their girlfriend or wife. On the other hand, ladies are created to stick to one person, and are not expected to be adventurous like men”
Why? Why? In the year 2017. Why?

Do you ever have a chat with your old classmates and get stupefied at their ignorance. Excuse me for being rude but really it is true. A lot of Nigerians see being married as a huge achievement, more of an achievement than a university degree. I genuinely don’t blame them sometimes, because the level of respect when you are a married woman in Nigeria is triple that of an unmarried one. I mean one day while I was still in the university, I wanted to attend a friend’s wedding, and a member of my family said to me “why will you go and clap for someone who has achieved something more than you”. Let’s be clear I was ahead of the bride academically. She had barely started university when she was getting married. 

Okay, back to the point, my classmate who is only halfway through university was asking about my plans for the future. You best believe I didn’t include marriage. And our conversation went something along the lines of; 

Friend: “Have you started gathering some personal things that befits a married woman?”


Me: I don’t understand.


Friend: “You know the personal things a woman should gather before getting married.”


Me: Things like what?


Friend: There are some things, you know.


Me: (Pretends to be completely ignorant of what she’s talking about) Okay. 


Friend: Well you may not think about it but for me I know I’m over ready for marriage. Babe, me I know that I am due for marriage. The handwriting is written all over.


Me: Okay. I’ll be your chief bridesmaid.


Friend: But I’m supposed to be yours first. You know if I was a man I would have snatched you off the market since. 

At this point, I was starting to think she knew something I didn’t. Or maybe she wants to “arrange” someone for me. Or she knows a couple of people who had maybe met my parents for an “arrangement”. I laughed it off, and let it slide but it wasn’t funny. I had just spent a long time talking about my future and she didn’t ask me any questions about my potentially bright future and just went straight to getting married. Really? 

Now, I would love to get married. I know it will happen eventually, maybe soon, maybe a couple of years but it’s not and can never be the defining moment of my life. I would never live life waiting for the moment my life will “change” forever. I would not wait to be a Mrs. to be socially recognised. I don’t understand why everything I try do as a woman in Africa always ends with “remember you’re eventually going to settle down”

I have a long day, come back emotionally and physically drained, and all I want to do is curl up in bed, cry and rest, my mother comes in and says “come and do this, won’t you cook for your husband and kids when you come back from work tired.” I’m a big planner, so if I know I’m going to have a long day, maybe, just maybe I would have prepared a meal for my family the previous day. And seriously what ever happened to a family meal out once in a while?

I try to move to another country, good for my career and I have plans to remain there. And it comes again “what if after moving, you get married and your husband is in Nigeria?”

I am sick and tired of it. And by the way, what in the world are personal things? Why do I have to wait to marry to wear matching lingerie sets? Why do I have to wait to get married before looking really sexy in a night dress? I do that already anyway. Please what is new about that? Okay. Bye.






Strange Lingua:

*Fowl – Chicken

*BS – bullshit

*Ancestors – Progenitors

*Yam – A Nigerian staple meal.

Posted in Pinches of Salt

What Makes Me Nigerian?

Nigeria my country has a lot of Nigerians in her. So much so that if you auction out half of her population to the highest bidder, she would still have the highest population in Africa.

My sister told me that she isn’t sure she likes me anymore. That I have become too British and too modernised. That I’ve become mysterious. Her reasons were somewhat cogent and understandable.

One would assume that having the green passport would be enough proof that I am Nigerian, or having the Nigerian accent or even the colour of my skin. How wrong I was!

Apparently, to be called a true Nigerian, I need to be able to verbally abuse someone and call it a joke or a “yab” and I also need to be able to stomach such abuse should I be on the receiving end.

To be called a true Nigerian, I need to learn to be utterly lawless. Throwing food or garbage out the window, spitting out of my car, disobeying some simple traffic laws at my own risk etc.

To be called a true Nigerian, I need to be downright racist, tribalistic, homophobic amongst other things.

To be called a true Nigerian, I should be quite loud and boisterous. I need to speak at a sound pressure level of 82db at least if the person I’m speaking to is less than a feet away from me.

To be called a true Nigerian, I should never show a moment of weakness. I must be tough. Yeah very tough.

To be called a true Nigerian, I need to throw all norms on social etiquette out the window and become rude. Rude to the air hostess, rude to the market seller, rude to the security man, rude to the driver etc.

To be called a true Nigerian, I need to participate in twitter fights, nairaland abusive comments and listen to some extremely overrated and clichéd comedy skits.

Okay, don’t misread the intentions of this post. I love my heritage. I love my culture. I love my cocoa butter skin with a hint of vanilla. But I hate the stereotypes associated with being a Nigerian. 

There are a large number of joys associated with me being a Nigerian:

1. Buying a cold sachet of water from hawkers and drinking it while stuck in traffic in an extremely hot weather.

2. The joys of eating Gala and Lacasera

3. Eating bolé with fish and other side condiments. This right here cannot be compared to anything. N:B if you’re not from Rivers State, I am deeply sorry but you’re missing out.

4. Having roasted corn and pear by the roadside… you’re in heaven already.

5. Akara and Bread…

6. NEPA bringing light just as your phone battery is at the brink of death.

I could go on and on, but if to experience all this little but phenomenal joys does not count as being a Nigerian and instead to be a Nigerian, I need to throw homophobic and racial slurs at people, I need to traumatise a human being psychologically. Then by no means do I want to be called a Nigerian. Afterall, “who naija don epp?”

Posted in Pinches of Salt

Everything on Fleek

I do not intend to use this post to ridicule or insult anyone and I’m not a hater. I do apologise if you feel like I am taking a personal jab at you. 

There’s a trend that is currently on among black women. Yes, I used “black” because I am not in a position to write about another race. Although it is not outrightly bad, it isn’t flattering either. Probably it’s something that a lot of people have talked about.


The Brows

I have no problem with good looking brows. My problem is what is mistaken for good looking.
There are two extremes in this brow game. There are those who shave everything off and draw a line and there are those who draw the eyebrows to the point where your nose meets the eyes.


Contouring and Highlighting
My beloved sister, how can you makeup to the extent that your face is considerably paler than your neck. At least if you’re contouring and highlighting, let it be realistic. You would see a plus sized lady with highly defined cheekbones that make her face look like she’s a size 6. A size 6 face on a size 20 body. Wow! Just wow!


The Lips
Why would you like to make your lips look fuller. I mean, an average black has rather large lips. So what do you want again? And by God, the pout kills me all the time.

They say makeup makes you look older and mature. In the Nigerian terminology, “who looking old and mature don epp biko”. If anything, I like to look small and babyfaced at least seeing as I already have an intimidating height, I definitely do not want an intimidating face.

I mean I’m sorry that my brows, contouring and highlighting are not on fleek. But how on earth can you expect them to be on fleek when my life is not on fleek. I’d rather go with the face that suits the current state of my life right now thank you. I’ve mentioned this to someone before and the response I got was bewildering.

I honestly think makeup was invented to highlight your natural beauty and not to completely cover it. In my opinion, people who wear too much makeup seem insecure and unsure of themselves. If you just woke up and you’re just going for a jog in the morning, wash your face, put your hair up and go. But if you’re going to a dinner, obviously kick it up a notch but not too much.

Your eyebrows and face are on fleek and yet your personality is quite similar to the respect an African rat has for books. If you do not exude beauty from within, no amount of makeup can cover it up. Now don’t get me wrong, I love clothes. I love buying them. I almost dislike repeating clothes frequently. I mean every girl loves something right. I also do not have anything against makeup, I’ve got a few of those myself. But seriously, is there really a need for a perfect face all the time. I mean you go from being naturally beautiful to generically pretty. There should be days when you dress down and have bloodshot eyes, eyebags and black spots. All that reminds us daily that we are human.

Bottom line, if you look good with your hair up, eating food out of a box and wearing pyjamas, then you definitely don’t need makeup. Let’s say your partner is in the mood for some hot and spicy action and comes to nuzzle your face and neck, why on earth do you want him to feel like he’s kissing a face mask?
Okay now I’m ranting. Grazie! Ciao!!

Posted in Pinches of Salt

Happy Women’s Day

So today is International Women’s Day, it commemorates the struggle for women’s rights. Before today, I had never put up posts on any social media platform wishing happy women’s day to myself. Because I never felt I deserved to be put in the same boat as the selfless heroines of the USSR or the famous figures of the Paris Commune. 

Today however is special, my protégé just taught me a big lesson. In her words:


“Happy women’s day. This time last year I remember putting up an Instagram post and you commented and asked, in Italian as well “so in your head you think you are a woman?” I think you were joking but have I finally qualified as one? I remember when I was in Sixth form and you kept saying “don’t worry when you come to university you’ll understand” and I was so sure there was nothing to understand and that you were just blabbing. Six months into university I have learnt so freaking much. So much has happened but hey-ho I’ve survived six months here. Half a year mate! University ends in six weeks mate. Year one is done. 


Am I fully an adult now? I can get married, can’t I? Am I a woman now? 


Happy Womens Day my lovely and favourite woman. I have learned a lot from you and just want to let you know it is much appreciated.”
 
Now the lesson I learned, I don’t need to be publicly known for my acts of feminism and gender equality to celebrate women’s day. In my own little corner, I have exacted change somehow in someone’s life. I have made amazing contributions to the world and the future generation. Probably through my lifestyle or my ability to give sound advice.

Secondly, words, no matter how little, no matter the mood with which you say it can either make or mar an individual’s perception of themselves. So choose your words wisely.

Finally, for the past couple of months, I had always thought I’m useless. Not able to provide for myself at this age. I look at my peers and see how independent they’ve been since they were sixteen. I was the child born with a silver spoon, so becoming an adult was quite scary for me. And especially when I lost my first job, it was as if my physical self was saying to my inner self; “you worthless child, you can’t even do anything right”. But today, something has changed I believe, I am not going to wait for someone else to come and speak for me, I am going to change the world myself and I already have devised a means and a plan. 

So to all the lovely sisters out there, Happy Womens Day!! I am inexplicably proud of you, afterall I do know it’s tough being a woman.

And to my protégé, I know you are going to read this. And I just want to tell you that I really appreciate you. I know I probably don’t act like it all the time. You’re the Robin to my Batman. And surprising as it is, I’ve learned a number of things from you over the years and I thank you for that. Tutoring you has been and will always be a pleasure. And yes, you are a woman now. Happy Womens Day.