Monday, August 27, 2012

The "easy" life legacy

It is very easy for you to come to me (or call/BB/text/mail me) about the aso-ebi for a party (yours or someone else’) but it isn’t as easy for you to discuss how we can form a group that will sponsor a talented but indigent child through school or help another child (ren) gain vocational skills. 

It is very easy for us as girls to sit down together (in our hostels, tea parties, weekend get-togethers) and discuss about various hair (infact the latest trends) – Brazillian, Indian, Chinese – shoes, bags etc. But it isn’t as easy for us to discuss about our natural hair, local products (good quality) and how our foreign tastes is helping to improve the economies of foreign countries whilst impoverishing our own local economies. 

It is very easy for you to invite me to a MLM (Multi Level Marketing) meeting where we strategize how to promote the distribution & sale of foreign products but it isn’t as easy for you to invite me to a townhall meeting of people who are desirous of change and who want to be involved in practical terms in their local communities and in the nation as a whole. 

It is very easy for us boys (& men) to sit down and watch/discuss football, the players, the jerseys of popular football clubs such as Arsenal, Man U, Real Madrid etc. but it isn’t as easy for us to discuss why Eyimba, Kwara United, Kano Pillars, Heartland are not developing to the level of those foreign clubs. Yet among those who sit down to discuss football at this level are high profile government officials, pastors/imams of large congregations, successful professionals at various levels. It isn’t easy to propose to set up clubs (which by the way are all privately owned) to engender such professionalism and class of football watched on DSTV right here at home. It is way too difficult for us to think that way but very easy to sit on our couches and watch endlessly match after match of foreign tournaments and profiling. 

It is very easy for us to discuss car brands and their performances but some of us discussing this topic are mechanical/electrical engineers, bank executives, ministers (for education, science & technology), and research fellows. Yet we can’t see the connection between us and what it will mean for us to produce and use such a commodity within our own shores. 

It is very easy for us to sit down and condemn (abuse is the word used often by GEJ) govt officials when in actual fact we contributed to them getting to those positions (overtly or covertly). Yet some of us are team leads in our offices/religious organizations/alumni comprising of 3 – 40 members (or more) and there is so much opacity/corruption/animosity going on in those small corners than is imaginable. 

It is very easy for us as family members to meet, plan and contribute (financially) to the “turning over”/memorial party (which is usually a big bash) of our late parents who have been gone for more than 5 years (sometimes 30years!!). But it is not as easy to meet, plan and contribute towards empowering young individuals/families (even within our clan) that are still struggling to provide for themselves. After all, for those of us who are now successful, we worked very hard to break through, those other people should find their own way (I am not encouraging laziness/dependence neither am I unaware of the ingratitude that may be doled out by the people we show concern for). 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A poem ( I am)

I am a flower
Blossoming by design
Giving fragrance to the atmosphere
Bringing pleasure to the deep recesses of many
I am an oasis
Being in a desert by design
Providing refreshment to parched souls
Bringing satisfaction to the deep recesses of many

I am a life-giver
Nurturing ideas, people, beauty, nature
Bringing forth by design
Bringing beauty to the deep recesses of many
I am humus
Stimulating by design
Providing nourishment to the human soil of earth
Bringing multiplication to the deep recesses of many

Written by Mary Ogungbola on the 17th of August 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My faith, my story

I was once “erroneously” labelled a witch by religious zealots (many of whom are still my friends and who NOW see those times as dark ages) who I was in the same learning environment with some years back. But the constraint of the environment where we were in then prevented any extreme measures such as “suffer not a witch to live” from being my fate. The most punishment that could be meted out on me was excommunication (covertly).

          "Dear world, you would have been deprived of my unique contribution and my special touch which only me can bring (and is bringing) to you so far I am still alive."

 I remember hearing my parents/peers’ generation (some still say it) that Oyibo’s witchcraft is what gives them power to do witty inventions and explorations like building aeroplanes, cars, rockets, and skyscrapers, and to explore oceans and dense forests. But the most that the black witches have succeeded in doing is suck blood of their own people (I wonder whether they suck Oyibo blood too), make accidents happen on our roads; invoke cluelessness/madness in their leaders and enemies. Meanwhile, the religious leaders who ought to deliver the black people from black witch are now so much focussed on acquiring some of the inventions of the oyibo witch (such as private jets, skyscrapers, booking for a flight to mars) while well-to-do (middle class) members of the congregation who can afford it also fly the aeroplanes, drive cars, buy IPads, laptops, camera, etc. Are there some contradictions in these things? Please I need help to unravel the mystery which we are still very much plagued with today.

The fate of the black witch is a very hard one. Sometimes, in ministering deliverance to them, they may be landed a very dirty slap (which is capable of making someone who has not eaten for hours/days to faint). But in the remote villages (example is Akwa Ibom rural areas), the truth is that the “witches” (mostly young children) still have nails hammered into their heads (or any lesser punishment than death) and some have pepper and all sorts of concoctions rubbed into their eyes to rid them of witchcraft even as I write (as we speak).

Reminds me of an African movie “Yaaba”, which I watched some years back. It is a 1989 drama film written, produced, and directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo.

The setting is a small African village in Burkina Faso. The story focuses on Bila, a ten year old boy who befriends an old woman, Sana. Everybody calls her 'Witch' but Bila himself calls her 'Yaaba' (grandmother). The woman (old and wrinkled) was labeled a witch and was driven away from the village. She thus lived outside the village like an outcast. But the curious mind of young Bila got behind the “looks” of Sana to see her heart, beauty and wisdom. When his cousin Nopoko got so sick to death and could not be cured by the village doctors, he ran to Sana. She helped to get a concoction which Nopoko’s mother snuck to give to her daughter. The father will never receive a medication from a “witch” and would rather let his daughter die. The girl got well after using the concoctions for a few days. She and Bila visited Sana and took some food with them. At some point, the villagers saw Bila visiting Sana and thought she might bewitch him. They later set her hut in flames, at which point her heart (which was old, tired and frail) could not resist the pain anymore and she died. Bila witnessed the death and covered her with a wrapper and then ran to tell his mother.

This is still very much the African story and reality. Are we still refusing to evolve beyond the look? Are only poor people designed to be witches? Who will save us from ourselves? Are these hard sayings in themselves?

Well, this is just one of the many reasons why I am resolved to see social justice in my lifetime and help bring it about alongside people who are championing this cause. It’s beyond sentiments and vain talks for me. It’s up close and personal.

Please I need answers to some of the questions in here as it will go a long way in helping me in my enlightenment campaigns for rural dwellers where “religion” has been turned on its head out of ignorance, poverty and self-hate (born out of over-zealousness and simplicity). And also for city people where arrogance in ignorance rules and where religious zealots are becoming more and more powerful and uncontrollable with their emotions, ego, interpretations and sanctions.

Some of my close friends have been worried that I have lost my faith. I appreciate their concerns and I believe it is borne out of love for me. But I haven’t lost my faith in God; I have merely abandoned organized religion to embrace my humanity and that of others. I have merely defined my faith more clearly as LOVE and TRUTH which breaks through any divide and which has set me completely free (of all the fears of knowns and unknowns) and thus I am living totally so that when I eventually die, I would have lived out the essence of who I am and contributed in solving the mighty jig-saw puzzle which this world is by fitting in that tiny space I was designed to fit (no more, no less). I risk being misunderstood and even further excommunicated but it’s ok. I know enough to stick with what I have weighed thoroughly to be true in the present situation and stick with it regardless of negative consequences (is that what persecution truly means?)

I know I’m breaking into someplace that is being very much guarded in our lives and in our society, which some of us have questioned but not brave enough to find answers to, which hurt us so badly but which we have refused to let go of. We have refused to let the embrace of truth shatter all that is preventing true joy, happiness and peace (and I don’t mean shuffering and shmiling)...


I hope you are able to define your own faith better. It’s not a day’s journey, neither is it a year and it is like excellence, you never arrive. It’s years of questioning and seeking and weighing and listening and observing and applying of wisdom.