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Friday, 9 November 2012

You're welcome to CHUMA's blog: AMY, THE SICKLER

You're welcome to CHUMA's blog: AMY, THE SICKLER: It was in the evening of 9 th June, 2000; Joe had gone to the pub with his friends to have a drink. His closest friend, Tom, had just ...


It was in the evening of 9th June, 2000; Joe had gone to the pub with his friends to have a drink. His closest friend, Tom, had just been awarded employee of the month in his place of work. The pub was one of the coziest and liveliest pubs in the neighbourhood and their drinks were quite affordable. Joe and his friends had planned to have a couple of drinks to set the spirit high for the evening and then dart away for the club for what promised to be a wild night. The pub was roomy and homey, nicely compartmentalized into sections with flat screen TV’s on every cubicle which made it a site of attraction during football seasons for football lovers. Joe loved being in the casino cubicle, which was Italianesque, though he never gambled. He enjoyed copiously the melody of Petrarchan sonnet often played on the background while gamblers hustled for their money.

As the pub got bubblier; filled with people, Joe was seated, with a bottle of Carlsberg in his hand, and submerged into the rhythm of the song playing on the background. He was on the second bottle when he spotted a figure. At first it looked like he was hallucinating, but his curiosity prompted him to go closer to clear his doubts. Sitting in solitude, with couple of bottles of the same brand as Joe’s, was a pretty lady, who casually dressed like she wasn’t ready for the evening outing. The look on her face easily told Joe that all wasn’t alright with her. The way she giggled when Joe said ‘hello’ was a telltale sign that she was intoxicated. Joe’s curiosity multiplied; he became more concerned about the young lady than anyone could imagine. Not that Joe was one of those miscreants who hung around pubs and clubs waiting, as cats patiently wait for stray rats, for girls who had drunk to stupor. These baddies never slacked at any opportunity that came their way. That was why girls hung out in chains of friends. At least all of them would not get drunk; there would definitely be someone clear-eyed to take the lead.

She wasn’t making sense in her responses to Joe’s numerous questions. The only thing she said that rang a bell to Joe was her name. Joe’s aunty, who died five years after Joe was born, was Amy. Amy was his favourite aunty and his mentor, which probably explained why ladies by name Amy appealed to Joe. Joe tried all he could to make Amy say something meaningful, at least to stop using swearwords as the ‘F’ words were becoming unbearable to his ears, but all his efforts seemed like a water poured on a solid rock under a scorching sun. Joe went back to his friends; he had a thought that Alice, Tom’s girl friend, might be handy as she was adept in handling drunks. But to his chagrin they were gone!

Before they left they rang Joe’s phone, but his phone buzzed in front of them as Joe left his phone on their drinking table before he went for the figure he spotted. Though Alice and a couple of other friends were worried about what could have happened to Joe, Tom wasn’t.

He said, “You guys worry about nothing, I know Joe is up for some pranks because he loves pranks like Santa loves cheesecakes.”

And they headed for club in downtown. Joe was furious; he needed his phone just like Roca-fella needed Sigel. But he couldn’t get a sight of his friends and people around the casino had no inkling of what his friends looked like talk less of giving him the information on where about his friends. Before Joe went back to Amy her crisis had started. Everything happened like one of those scenes in Nollywood movies, where a man disappeared into the thin air from a place and reappeared in his bedroom. Joe saw Amy being taken hurriedly to the ambulance. It was like a mirage to him.

What could have happened to her was the question he kept asking himself which he was unable to provide himself with an answer. His curiosity again made him join the crew to the hospital as he told the ambulance team that he knew who Amy was.

At the hospital, which was a phone call away from Emi’s, Joe’s girl friend, house, Joe was seated on a chair at the reception, and thoughts flipping through his mind like he took some mind-altering drugs. At first he thought about his relationship with Emi. He was having issues with Emi, but they were at the brink of resolving their differences. Emi always had a feeling that Joe was cheating on her and that always caused a big row between them. Their row had left them incommunicado for a couple of weeks. Thanks to Alice who had been a great mediator and who had thought it wise to use the evening outing as a platform to nip the whole issues in the bud. Emi was unable to join them in the pub as she was busy rounding off tasks given to her by her line manager, but she promised to catch up with them at the club on a condition that Joe would come and pick her up from home.

Should I just pop in into Emi’s house because I know she must have been waiting for long for my pick up?, Joe asked himself.

But that meant Joe would have lots of explanations to make, starting from how he lost touch with Tom and others to how he ended up in the hospital, that’s if he chose to tell the truth. And telling the truth as things happened would reaffirm Emi’s feeling that he had been cheating on her. Emi would definitely think that he was concerned about Amy because of some amorous feelings, and that would be a dent on the almost-resolved-row between him and Emi. Besides he probably might not see Amy again if he left abruptly. So Joe decided to save the evil for another day and remain in the hospital until he cooked up convincing lies he would tell Emi, Alice and others. He wasn’t worried about Tom because they were partners in crime.

Joe was really helpful at the hospital. Someone would think he was Amy’s brother given the way he was concerned about Amy. But that was unknown to him as he couldn't explain the invisible hand that had pushed him forth. Anie, Amy’s mother noticed his presence and concerns and that made her curious too. If not for anything she would want to thank him for his concerns, even though at the top of her concerns was to know if her only pearl had been keeping a hidden boyfriend. Annie never liked men around her daughter because she had been hurt and betrayed uncountable times by men she loved deeply, including the man she gave her entire life to: Theo, Amy’s father. She couldn't imagine the pains if a man hurt her daughter in her health condition. As she engaged in conversation with Joe her eyes were fixated on Joe’s eyes as if she was a female cop interrogating a cocaine cowboy from the hood. At the mention that Amy was a sickler, Joe was stupefied. He remembered his brother’s health challenges and vicissitudes. His brother suffered and died of the same sickle cell disease Amy was suffering from. Annie felt somewhat at ease telling Joe Amy’s stories. She felt at least Joe was sensitive to sickle cell sufferers and understood what it meant to be a sickler. And the story went!

Amy was born with sickle cell anaemia. Her parents didn't know they had the trait until her mother gave birth to her. It was few days after Anne gave birth to her that Anne learned Amy had sickle cell anaemia. It was devastating to her. Theo abandoned her and Amy when she was only two years old, at the brink of her sickle cell crisis, and absconded with another lover.

He thought Amy wouldn't survive the crisis because it was one crisis after the other and the doctor told us that her type of sickle cell was the most severe type, said Anie.

 Even the nurse told us that she would have a very hard life, Anie added.

Nothing could be more devastating than that, she lamented.

Theo decided to abscond with his lover, whom he had been secretly seeing behind Anie with the thinking that his daughter wouldn't live past the age of two. But he was wrong; Amy survived. Though Amy was 19, she had struggled through severe pains as her health condition deteriorated frequently. Amy was always sick that she couldn't attend school. Pains were always all over her body. When the pains came to her stomach, she felt like some footballers were kicking her stomach; when the pains moved to her heart, she felt like a gladiator was squeezing life out of her; when the pains came to her head, she felt like a WWE champion was defending a belt on her head as the pains felt like heavy punches; and when the pains moved to her arm, she felt the pains so deep in her tissue like she was in the electric chair.

As early as five Amy had started having strokes and doctors on every occasion had advised Anie that she might die from one. She had had several transfusions and treatments were like routines. But Amy didn't die; she survived. She had managed to pass through various stages of her education. At 19 she was still in her penultimate year in secondary school. She had missed classes and exams as she was often in hospital and as a result had repeated classes severally. Though she was brilliant and had always expected to come up aces with every subject she took, her chronic crisis wouldn’t let her, but she was firmly convinced that she would achieve whatever her brain was set at if only she could attend school regularly.

But it seemed Amy had resigned herself to her fate. She had given up her confidence in herself. The stigma of being a sickler had become unbearable; the repressive hard work in chasing her dream of becoming a surgeon and still unable to perform to her expectations owing to ill health; the mental cruelty of her father’s vanishment and abscission from fatherly love and affection; and the mental torture of tales from her friends in school about their love adventures with their boyfriends while no man had ever acknowledged her beauty no matter how she tried to prettify herself. These excruciating thoughts were flagellating her mind while she was sopping her mind with alcohol at the pub. She had a fall out with her bosom buddy who misguidedly in her choice of words reminded her of how miserable her life had been. She threw her positivism into the oubliette of her heart and resigned to the illusions of how sickle cell had ruined her dreams.

But Anie never resigned to fate. She believed firmly in her daughter’s dream of becoming a surgeon. She kept alive at all times the dream of seeing her daughter correct faults in human systems; repair injuries in human bodies; and treat diseases, even as Amy lay in harsh pains and in moribund in hospital bed. 


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Timi Dakolo nailed this song. Great voice; inspiring words; motivating spirit; above all outstanding song.

This Facebook ‘Insanity’!

Social media networks are meant to be platforms that support interactions and initiate changes in communication between/or among individuals, groups, and organizations. Benefits of social media networks abound. Wikipedia has shown that “in the year 2012 social media became one of the most powerful sources for news updates through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.” But the sagas we have seen in recent months through the social media network- Facebook  in Nigeria are reasons that should make us reconsider our perception of these things called social media networks. The younger generation has a total different view of what social networking is meant to be given the incidences that have unfolded in recent times.

Recently, a young lady was gruesomely killed by her purported Facebook friends, and just few days ago another similar incident involving a student University of Lagos happened. Involved in all these cases are our youths- the so called future generations. With the proliferation of this ‘insanity’ and the likes on our social media networks what the future of our social networking looks like is far-fetched. Some people have been advising ladies ‘wrongly’ not to chat with people they don’t know on Facebook  And some ladies have thought it wise not to accept friend requests from names that don’t ring a bell to them. While some girls have adopted, I-do-not-talk-to-strangers approach. My question to them is, if you don’t talk to strangers then how are you going to make friends?

Frankly, I think we need to define the basic thing, which is the motive inherent in both parties ab initio. Most Nigerian girls have the impression that every guy they meet on social media network is a cash cow and as such are ready to go to any length to ensure that the cow is adequately milked. So they don’t think of anything positively beneficial apart from material benefits when they interact with their purported cash cows. This is why most girls in the present time know their account numbers offhand even when they can’t remember their mobile numbers. This impression goes on to the point that every hello from a guy means he wants friendship, and no friendship from a guy comes without him asking for ‘something.’ For him to get the ‘something’ he must spend a fortune.

Most Nigerian guys have the impression that what happens on social networks ends on social networks. In this case every girl met on, say, Facebook is labeled use-and-dump and in some cases never-take-home-to-mama. This impression transcends to the point that every hello from a girl means the girl is tripping for him and that’s a ‘green light.’ Then guys having formed this impression coupled with their received wisdom that every girl wants their money in exchange for ‘something,’ are willing to go to any length to ensure that their missions are accomplished. This is why you see guys who keep records (in their minds) of how much they have spent on a girl to determine when to demand for the ‘something.’ And girls also keep tracks too to ensure that the guy’s spending is commensurate with the ‘something’ he is asking for.

This is not a time for me to advise ladies to be careful of their interactions with guys on social networks. I think ladies know better. It is a time to call on us to rethink our motives for being on social media networks. There is a lot we can utilize and enrich ourselves positively with from these networks. The level of degeneracy I have witnessed on public discourse on these networks is really alarming. A few months ago I was surfing through World Bank Nigeria Facebook page. A question was raised about a serious development issue and people’s feed-backs were requested. I cringed at the comments I read from Nigerians. That goes to reaffirm my fear over the future of social media networking in Nigeria. If you’re looking for any good feedback on an intended research or policy don’t post it on Facebook because you may be creating a platform for people to market their Brazilian  hair or fairly-used-phones or even their black berry pins.

It is also a time to call on us to engage the NASS on our Cyber-crime laws. All Africa reported ANPP’s lamentations on the absence of Cyber-crime laws in Nigeria. We need to call on the NASS to update our Cyber-crime laws to be in consonant with the global practices, especially now we are in era of proliferation of Cyber-crimes  It is unfortunate that what the NASS is interested in is censoring social media, especially when it is in negation to their political mandates, rather than outlawing in strict terms cyber-sex, child pornography, identity theft and spamming.

Education is the key to fighting this menace, but it’s unfortunate that yet considerable number of Nigerian population do not understand the inadvertently use of these social media networks, especially Facebook. It is necessary, though not enough, that we advise our ladies (who often fail to heed) to be careful of miscreants on social media networks, but it is satisfactory when we channel efforts to compelling the NASS to do the job we elected them to do. If we keep on advising as a backlash within the social media over these sagas those miscreants (in whatever form they appear) will continue to fill their boots. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Putting People Before Politics

Congrats to Obama on his winning! I have been following American Politics for a considerable number of years now. It is always appealing running through the debates, and campaign messages of both wings. But there is something striking, to me, about the just concluded presidential election, which I think is recommendable to Nigerian politicians, particularly. Obama and Romney displayed this, though in distinct directions. Putting people before politics has always been part of the American politics over the years but it seemed more glaring in this elections than before.

No doubt that Nigeria is a complex state. But we are united by and for a common purpose- We are one Nigeria. Yet, despite a common belief we share together; a belief that instructs social principles such as solidarity, opportunity for the poor, option for the women and hope in children and youths, our politicians are always at variance notably over how to address the existing and persistent economic wants of our time. Lawmakers make caricatures of our pressing needs in their sessions arguing disgracefully over whatnots. The Executive acts more or less like a stooge favouring unquestioningly and non-constructively whatever approach dished out by its cabinet and the lawmakers.

Old generations often tell us stories about how pleasing their childhood was; how comfortable and snug they felt growing up in an environment they lived freely and commonly. Not that there was no poverty or unemployment or somewhat hardship, after all part of the hardships we bear today is what they handed down to us, but they had politicians who were more concerned about addressing economic issues from the outlook of human dignity than what they would get out of the system. This was the value laid down by the founders of Nigeria; the vision espoused by our Hero’s past- the likes of Herbert Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Alvan Ikoku, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, etc. They recognized and championed selflessly the need to marshal Nigerian resources for the service of Nigerians. They put Nigerian people before politics.

Today’s politics has changed. We have a mixture of old pundits in the game who never get tired- new wines in old bottles, and new breeds; all with a common motive- to grab as much resources as they can. Gone are the days when people’s welfare was at the center stage of politicians’ plans; gone with the history are the days when politicians put people first in any national issue. My question is when will our politicians begin to have at the heart of their campaigns some fundamental questions about the economy? Such questions as: “What does the Nigerian economy do for Nigerian people? What does the Nigerian economy do to Nigerian people? How do/can Nigerian people participate in the Nigerian economy? are really important in our quest for progress in this contemporary time.

Some people may have their reservations on these questions and may rationalize their positions in this regard, but the point is that over the decades we have been advocating for what we can do for our country, and the politicians are feeding on our illusions and fattening their pockets. Now, just take a minute at the second question. Put it in this way: what does, say, financial crisis do to Nigerian people? When the economy shrinks as a result of crisis, there is always smaller number of activities going on in the economy, which ushers in increased unemployment and hardships. The upshots are wide ranging but includes, increased incidents of hypertension, alcoholism and drug abuse, suicide, child abuse, and domestic violence. For example, the family of the unemployed registers recurrent sickness which often has a long duration time. Then pundits on government’s payroll who claim the issues of the economy are theirs now track down figures and begin to shower us with watery promises and guarantee us that in the long run the economy will return to normal. But for believers in the short run like me, we look at the hardships people are facing and the efforts families are making to eke out a living and insist on short run reliefs. After all, Keynes said, “In the long run we are all dead.”

Nigerian politicians often claim they take lessons from the America’s experience, I hope that the Obama spirit- putting Americans first in every economic issue- will touch their soul that they will begin to see the significance of putting Nigerians first before politics. Frankly, morality demands that politicians put people before politics. I also hope that Nigerians will begin to develop and advocate for the Nigerian Way, just like the Americans will say: “There is no way like the American way.”

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Reflection on today’s gospel 2

If you have not noticed yet, I have devoted my Sunday blog(s) to the readings of the church for as long as I continue to be a believer and my spirit continues to heed to the first commandment according to Mark 12:30.

I remember when I was growing up, in one of my catechism classes, my tutor usually referred to the month of November in a special way. Not because it is a month next to the festival celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus, but because it is a month of darkness as he nicknamed it. As I became more catechized in the Catholic doctrine, then I became more conscious of the way the month of November had been branded. Actually, the month of November is dedicated to praying for the departed souls. It starts with the feast of All Saints on the 1st, ensued by the memorial of All Souls on the 2nd, and other programmes continue in that sequence. The church having this month devoted particularly for the dead, we are often trapped in the illusion of depicting the month in a grisly sense given the darkness associated with death.

Back to today's reading in the gospel, we are reminded of the necessity to proclaim unapologetic and unabashed our hope and faith in the God's Kingdom. In this call, we are mandated to prioritize in our minds, especially in this month as we implore for the repose of souls of our departed brethren, these hope and faith, which are encapsulated into a premise that we are preordained for resurrection. 

At various points in time we have experienced death(s) of someone or persons close to our heart, and as a truism mourning over death of someone comes with deeper thoughts, strong emotions, intense words and actions, but we are reminded today that we should not defocus our minds from the premise that we are preordained for resurrection. This is because as the time runs faster and the year comes to an end, we cannot afford to be out of sight of the rays that shine through the postern of death.

Therefore, the punchline is that as we walk through the experience of the remaining weeks in the silhouette of memorial of All Saints and in earnest expectation of Christ Jesus, we must not be caught up in the illusions that sullenly portray only the darkness of November.
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