Mena's Muzik

MusicPlaylistView Profile
Create a playlist at

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Before you use that relaxer on your Afro hair...

The above is a scalp that met with a relaxer. Its sourced online at this link

Please click the link as it gives 8 more graphic illustrations of the dangers in relaxers. This is an extreme example of what we are in danger of doing to ourselves, some like yours sincerely have been doing it since secondary school! Hers is a particularly bad burn but at least its true. In my earliest romance with relaxers, I had my scalp burnt so many times. The last time I used a cup was so bad, only God knows what the contents were but almost immediately it was applied to my hair, the bits that (usually) gets on our scalp immediatley started burning me! I told the stylist that my scalp was burning, but she said it cant be true, I only just got there, besides its perfectly normal and that I had to wait a while longer as my hair was thick. She also said other ladies do the same. I remember the horrible smell, the unbearable feeling of burning and my increasing cries for them to wash it out. Gosh, I remember hardly being able to bear washing it out, it felt like my scalp on fire, my hair was stuck to my scalp and I couldnt do anything but wash it out,could hardly sit still! I wept through out the experience and had serious burns and scalding on my scalp for a while. Even as horrific as that experience I was, I continued to relax my hair only changing to a no-lye relaxing kit! Amazing what bizarre choices we make without researching on the long term effects!

Yep, am here to talk about our hair! The maintenance of afro textured hair to be precise. Each strand of Afro hair type grows in a tiny spring-like, corkscrew shape. The overall effect is such that, despite relatively fewer actual hair shafts compared to straight hair, this texture appears (and feels) denser than its straight counterparts. Due to this, it is often referred to as 'thick', 'bushy', or 'woolly'. For several reasons, possibly including its relatively flat cross section among other factors, this hair type also conveys a dry or matte appearance. It is also very coarse, and its unique shape also renders it very prone to breakage when combed or brushed. Adjectives such as "firm", "kinky", "nappy" or "spiralled" are often used to describe natural afro-textured hair in Western societies.
Source: Wiki (granted, an unreliable source but look this is true, am a real life example :P)

I am thinking of resorting to my natural, spiral, thick hair, but I am worried about maintenance, so did some research on Afro hair and can I just say that there was a lot of information on how to relax/perm our hair, but hardly enough on how to maintain it! I digress.

One really positive way of looking at our hair is that we are the only people on the planet that God has blessed with this type of hair that is so versatile. Every other ethnic group has straight hair that does not hold a style by itself. Where our hair is full of body and life, people with naturally straight hair have to process their hair in order to give it the body that ours naturally has! We can put in braids, twists, locks, extensions, cornrows - all of which hold their shape and stay in for a long time.

I LOVE the picture above because it reminds me of my early hair care days. In primary school, my mum used to arrange to arrange for our hair to be done into weaves just like this style and several others, not a single relaxer in sight! We should celebrate this wonderfully versatile hair that God has given us.

A lot of women including me, today relax their hair so that each corkscrew shaped hair strand becomes, thinner, straighter and therefore longer. They argue that this kind of hair is very easy to maintain and they want to get rid of the rigid curly hair texture.Permanent waving, or relaxing are the most common treatments to straighten tightly coiled hair.

Chemical relaxing is an effective hair straightening treatment.Once applied, the next application of relaxers can only be done after a long period of time, usually 4-6 weeks. If possible, it is better to apply them only only on the new hair growth.
Once the application of hair relaxers is complete, it is strictly advised not to comb the hair to avoid the effects of the chemcials on the scalp.

Africans/ African-Americans sometimes color or bleach their hair after the application of relaxers. Color, whether applied after permanent waving or without the hair undergoing any treatment, should be done with utmost care in order to prevent the harmful effects of dyes.

But pause for a second and think again, what were African women doing to maintain their afros in a stress free way BEFORE relaxers or dyes or weaves were invented?

Note that I am not totally knocking relaxers nor even weaves or braids, but I am presenting an alternative way of reasoning.

Research seem to indicate that Garrett Augustus Morgan was one of the earliest inventor of chemically processing afro hair. Though he is best known for his invention of the automatic traffic signal and gas mask, it was around 1910 that he stumbled upon what would become his contribution to the hair care products industry and what would pave the way for several other entrepreneurs and manufacturers over the next hundred years.

While working in a sewing machine repair shop attempting to invent a new lubricating liquid for the machine needle, it is widely believed that Morgan wiped his hands on a wool cloth, returned the next day, found the woolly texture of the cloth had “smoothed out”, and set out to find how the liquid chemical had changed the texture as it had. He experimented on an Airedale dog, known for their curly textured hair, and the effect was successfully duplicated.

Morgan then tried his lubricating liquid invention on himself, called it a “hair refining cream”, and thus patented the first chemical hair straightener. He founded a personal grooming products company which included hair dying ointments, curved-tooth pressing combs, shampoo, hair pressing gloss, and the one that started it all: the “G.A. Morgan's Hair Refiner Cream” (advertised to “Positively Straighten Hair in 15 Minutes”).

Dude had no idea how popular his invention will become. lol.

What makes you so CONFIDENT IN that chemical more or less burning and thinning your hair? Sodium Hydroxide is the strongest type of principal chemical used in some chemical relaxers because it provides the most long lasting and dramatic effects. However, this same sodium hydroxide is found in drain cleaners which well demonstrates the strength of this chemical. It is what is used in products that are referred to as “lye” relaxers. The strength varies from a pH factor of 10 to 14. With higher pH, the faster the straightening solution will take hold, but the more potential the damage. Guanidine Hydroxide is the other common option of relaxer chemical used today. This is what is referred to as “no-lye” relaxers. This label can be misleading to some consumers. It does not imply that there aren't any strong chemicals used or that the chemicals used are somehow less potentially damaging. Some have mistakenly thought that with “no-lye” relaxers there are less steps and all the worry of chemical hair straightening is removed. Although this type of chemical hair relaxer can be less damaging than its counterpart, the hair and scalp should be in top condition before attempting treatment, and this type also requires special care when applied.

If newly chemically straightened hair is not given special treatment it can become brittle, dry, damaged and break. Relaxed hair will tend to be drier and break easily. (Make us understand why ladies who have relaxed their hair for a long period of time, suddenly get a receding hairline, or loss of hair aka BALDING

Some ladies add a weave immediately after relaxing their hair, further adding more weight to their, now, weak hair and sensitive skull resulting in hair breakage. This pattern when continued for long periods of time also results in partial baldness.

That is Naomi Campbell, a supermodel who definitely has the resources to take good care of her hair, but perhaps she doesnt have this knowledge or have the time to consider that receding hairline as a symptom of 'hair abuse' over exended periods. She should take better care of her natural hair, just like me and you.:)

Well, remember once you've made the decision to chemically straighten the hair you have also decided to commit to regular quality conditioning treatments to maintain not only the look you want, but the healthy hair you desire.

Between visits to your hair care professional, LIMIT the use of hot styling tools (such as blow dryers, hot combs, and curling irons). Try not to use heat on your hair at all between visits if possible. Due to the possibility of suffering hair damage, again it is strongly recommended that one consult a hair care professional when deciding on chemical straightening their hair. Some have chosen to apply these chemicals on their own using the “box kits” readily available everywhere. However, if this is your choice it would be better to make sure that someone else is on hand to help you in the preparation, timing, and complete rinse and removal of the chemical.

And if you have decided not to chemically straighten your hair at all, there are still many styles and good hair care techniques available to you, helping you to enjoy your natural hair you've been blessed with. But it seems as if that we do not know how to care for and style our natural hair or we think that wearing our natural hair will not be easily accepted in our social lives, workplace or at school. This is probably true since many of us are not comfortable with our natural hair, people of other ethnic groups are not used to seeing our natural hair and therefore do no appreciate the beauty in it. These situations, however, can provide the perfect opportunity for us to educate people of our own as well as other ethnic groups. We can teach people about the beauty of our natural hair and correct unfortunate stereotypes that exist about people that wear natural hairstyles.

Another thing is that we think that our thick, full-bodied hair must hurt when washed and combed and we think there are no styles that we can put our hair in. In addition, we and others have become so accustomed to seeing our hair straight that we find it hard to appreciate the beauty in the natural hairstyles.

Think again.

It actually takes less time to maintain a natural hairstyle than it does to maintain processed hair. Styles such as corn rows, flat twists and other styles using extensions can stay in for a month to six weeks. The time that it takes to put these styles in initially will vary, but once they are in, we can wash our hair and the style still looks good. With other styles such as afros and locks, we can wash our hair and go – or we can style the afro or the locks.

Isnt her hair beautiful? Those group of people that would love to enjoy their NATURAL UNIQUE HAIR should continue to the next section as there are a few tips from a fan page.

// Someone asked me about twisting your own hair. i do small twists with my hair dry and then i wash it (the twists - and i use both shampoo and conditioner). It comes out really nice after washing, it shrinks giving it more shape and the ends get curly etc but... if you have kinky hair it can get your hair tangled and so cut a bit, so when you are loosening it you have to be very very careful and patient.

I have extremely kinky hair which was painful and impossible to comb especially after the baby so i had no choice but to soften it. I used a texturizing softner. It gave me my still natural hair but softer, easier to comb, not painful and with a softer curly look. It may feel like you are using a relaxer but i assure you it wont perm/straighten your hair (except maybe your hair is really soft and maybe if you process it for a long time, i can't say) but you'll see if you look at my profile pic, i still have an afro. Its called Soft and beautiful just for me texturizing softner (its for kids)
i recommended it to someone who has long and soft natural hair and she is so happy with the results. i like it too. you can try it and it doesn't make you loose your natural look... i still have my afro.

Then to style my hair, i use a leave-in conditioner that defines the curls even more. After i shampoo and condition my hair, i comb it in the shower, towel dry and then i apply the leave-in conditioner and rake thru with my fingers to keep the curls. Its called mixed chicks
its been really good for me and i recently bought a litre bottle of it!

Another alternative is Botanicals hair moisturizer for natural and textured hair. Pretty good as well, its what i had used in the pic with my baby. But i feel you need to moisturize your hair with some kind of oil with this one, cause my hair feels a little rubbery when it gets dry.
Same process, comb hair in shower after washing and conditioning, then apply to wet hair, rake thru with fingers and let dry naturally

I moisturize my hair with shea butter. Pink oil i think is horrible for natural hair. I hear that you can steam your hair with shea butter, never tried it, but shea butter is good for hair so it shouldnt be a bad idea.

So that in a nutshell is my entire hair regime. Hope it helps, let me know if you try it and how it comes out. Sorry for the long mail, i tend to be detailed. all the best o! I know how it is, natural hair is not easy :-)

Ciao girls!
Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner //

What do you think? Please the above is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any other tips, do share or do place a link so we can go and learn from that blog. Thanks

P.s: I hope I dont sound like a doomsday preacher or something, lol, I am just educating myself and maybe others on the long term effects of continous abuse on our afro. We owe it to ourselves to invest in more healthy means of hair maintenance so we can better educate the next generation of African ladies of the wide range of hair care choices available to them..


Sources: www.mixedchicks.netr,

Activity feed


Ever used those words? Ever felt that way about anything? To best describe hate in physical terms is difficult, whats more it changes according to the degree that is felt. In general terms, I describe hate as, 'a rush of adrenalin', 'a feeling of disgust, anger or irritation at the sight of the object of hate', 'A detectable change in body temperature', 'a temporary loss of appetite and sanity'.

Looking at the research available online, I picked out the following definitions:

Usage: Hate is the generic word, and implies that one is inflamed with extreme dislike. We abhor what is deeply repugnant to our sensibilities or feelings. We detest what contradicts so utterly our principles and moral sentiments that we feel bound to lift up our voice against it. What we abominate does equal violence to our moral and religious sentiments. What we loathe is offensive to our own nature, and excites unmingled disgust.
Source: The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48

1. To have a great aversion to, with a strong desire that evil should befall the person toward whom the feeling is directed; to dislike intensely; to detest; as, to hate one's enemies; to hate hypocrisy. [1913 Webster]

Effects of hate: Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. --1 John iii. 15.But what I want to concentrate on is the following illustration that best describes the debilitating effects of hate on our being.

A kindergarten teacher has decided to let her class play a game.
The teacher told each child in the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few potatoes.
Each potato will be given a name of a person that the child hates,
So the number of potatoes that a child will put in his/her plastic bag will depend on the number of people he/she hates.

So when the day came, every child brought some potatoes with the name of the people he/she hated. Some had 2 potatoes; some 3 while some up to 5 potatoes. The teacher then told the children to carry with them the potatoes in the plastic bag wherever they go (even to the toilet) for 1 week.

Days after days passed by, and the children started to complain due to the unpleasant smell let out by the rotten potatoes. Besides, those having 5 potatoes also had to carry heavier bags. After 1 week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended....

The teacher asked: "How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for 1 week?". The children let out their frustrations and started complaining of the trouble that they had to go through having to carry the heavy and smelly potatoes wherever they go.

Then the teacher told them the hidden meaning behind the game. The teacher said: "This is exactly the situation when you carry your hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred will contaminate your heart and you will carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten potatoes for just 1 week, can you imagine what is it like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime???"

Nice story :). Moral of the story: Throw away any hatred for anyone from your heart so that you will not carry sins for a lifetime. Forgiving others is the best attitude to take!

So dont say you were never told, now go ye into the world and love..... or at least treat your 'enemies' as would do to yourself.

Friday 25 June 2010

What would be written on your tombstone? Here are some wacky and witty suggestions!

A Texas undertaker carved the following on the bottom of all his monuments:
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
We bury only the upper crust.
McConnel Funeral Home

This London banker wrote his own epitaph:
Abraham Newland
(Cashier of the Bank of England)
Beneath this stone old Abraham lies; Nobody laughs, and nobody cries.
Where he has gone, and how he fares, Nobody knows and nobody cares.

Epitaph in Chattanooga, Tenn.:
I came into this world
Without my consent And left in the same manner.
From St. Stephen Churchyard, West Putford, England:
Here lies the landlord Tommy Dent In his last cosy tenement.

Edward Purdey, died August 9, 1743, aged 35
Epitaph: The debt I ow'd that Caused all the strife Was very small to cost me my Sweet life
Purdey had been drinking at his local inn but when it came to pay the bill he was a halfpenny short. The landlady apparently threatened to bewitch him if he did not pay up - and then her dog savaged him to death.

Thomas Thetcher, died May 12, 1764, aged 26
Epitaph: Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier,
Who caught his death by drinking cold small Beer,
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall
And when ye're hot drink Strong or none at all.
Location: Winchester Cathedral
(The grave of Grenadier Thetcher is known around the world because words from his epitaph have been immortalised in the Alcoholics Anonymous handbook.
It is not known how the "small beer" killed him - and the AA does not mention the advice to drink stronger beer instead...)

Hannah Twynnoy, died October 23, 1703, aged 33
Epitaph: In bloom of Life, She's snatched from hence, She had not room To make defence; For Tyger fierce Took Life Away. And here she lies In a bed of Clay, Until the Resurrection Day.
Location: Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire
Especially noteworthy since Hannah must have been Britain's first victim of a tiger.
(Hannah was a barmaid in Malmesbury when a travelling menagerie visited and, despite warnings, she is said to have teased the tiger - which promptly mauled her to death.)

Phoebe Hessel, died December 12, 1821, aged 108
Epitaph: She served for many years as a private soldier in the 5th Regt of Foot in different parts of Europe and in the Year 1745 fought under the command of the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Fontenoy where she received a bayonet wound in her arm.
Phoebe hid the fact she was a woman from her fellow soldiers - until she was wounded. Medical inspections were infrequent and many soldiers wore their hair long so it was quite possible for a female soldier to disguise herself as a man and escape detection. And she lived to the very impressive age of 108yrs.

Philip Sydney Bennet, (who overheard his son-in-law call him "the old nuisance" and ordered this put on his gravestone in East Calais, Vt.)
The Old Nuisance
In a Moultrie, Ga., cemetery:
Here lies the father of twenty-nine.
He would have had more but he didn't have time.

Here lies the body of our Anna Done to death by a banana
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low But the skin of the thing that made her go.

William Mansbridge
Stop, reader, pray and read my fate What caused my life to terminate
For thieves by night when in my bed Broke in my house and shot me dead.

Susan Lowder
Here lies the body of Susan Lowder
Who burst while drinking Seidlitz powder;
Called from this world to her heavenly rest
She should have waited till it effervesced.

Mrs. Althea White, weight 309 lb., from Lee, Mass.:
Open, open wide ye golden gates That lead to the heavenly shore,
Our father suffered in passing through And mother weighs much more.

On a hanged sheep-stealer from Bletchley, Bucks, England:
Here lies the body of Thomas Kemp Who lived by wool and died by hemp

On William Wilson in Lambeth, London, England:
Here Lieth W. W.
Who never more will Trouble you, trouble you.

Gone away
Owin' more Than he could pay.

Epitaph on a stone raised to four wives, their ashes in four urns that had been overturned in a gale. Kent, England:
Stranger pause And shed a tear:
For Mary Jane Lies Buried Here
Mingled in a most Surprising manner
With Susan, Joy And portions of Hanna

On a music teacher from Cornwall, England:
Stephen and time
Are now both even:
Stephen beat time
Now time's beat Stephen.

Epitaph from West Grinstead, Sussex, England, on a coroner who hanged himself:
He lived And Died
By suicide

On a dentist from Edinburgh, Scotland:
Stranger, tread
This ground with gravity:
Dentist Brown is filling His last cavity.

*Other suggestions*
Here lies the body of John Mound Lost at sea and never found
She lived with her husband fifty years And died in the confident hope of a better life. (I sense some irony here)
My wife from me departed And robbed me like a knave; Which caused me broken hearted To sink into this grave. My children took an active part, To doom me did contrive; Which stuck a dagger in my heart That I could not survive.


Libation to Michael Jackson a REAL friend and father

Source for photos: please see disclaimer beneath this post

There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life.

But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence. Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.

I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.

I hope he has the peace now he never had in his life. And I pray that such genius will not be so abused again

Article Source:

Disclaimer: I got both photographs last year, from facegroup group, with title "Michael Jackson... a REAL friend, father" as hypenated. The group creator stated STRONGLY that she also held some rights over the photos but has DEACTIVATED THE GROUP AND DISAPPEARED resulting in a situation in which I cannot properly reference my sources. So copy at at your OWN risk. Thanks.

Wednesday 23 June 2010


It’s another tough one to be handled on women. I expect so many negative reactions from those who always appear to be what they are not; like I always say, the holier-than-thou attitude.

Religion is good. Religion they say is the opium of the masses. Religion has achieved a lot in that it has helped humans watch their lives and how to deal with fellow humans. Religion has brought peace as well as crisis.

But like I always tell people, being too religious is totally different from being spiritual. Being religious does not mean being righteous and godly. That is why I pity people who believe that having different religious titles is the only gateway to heaven. You can be the chief elder or chief deaconess in a church, you can be the Archbishop of Christianity, and you can be the greatest Imam alive. All these are just titles brought into existence by religion.

Yes, it is good to appreciate the contributions of people towards religion, but that doesn’t make them the best. I have seen Imams taking peoples wives from them. I have seen Archbishops killing and sleeping with members of their congregation. In fact, I have come to realise that so many religious leaders are in no way better than us, the led.

Why did I decide to do an article on the woman and religion? It is well known that women are very emotional beings. God has special love for women. Women were created with a very caring nature. This has made it possible for the wolves in form of church leaders to take advantage of women.

Because as women, we have the responsibility of carrying the burden of our families. I told a friend sometime last week that when it comes to choices as to the sex of the baby, I would pray for a woman. Yes, our culture is one that leaves men unfulfilled without a male child. But, I have come to realise that women actually grow to become the burden bearers of the family.

Women are so much after religion. I wonder every Wednesday when I pass through Omole Estate and see the mammoth crowd attending a particular church programme. A greater number of this crowd is women. There is nothing wrong in a woman being too religious. In fact, my children sometimes crack jokes about my level of commitment to the church. It is better serving God than jumping from one party to the other.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to discourage you from being committed to your church, but there should always be a limit to everything. We should never allow anything in this life take the place of our homes. This is why we have to become more organised and have things well planned.

Most times when I see men moving from one church to the other, I keep wondering why. But after some questions, I realised that the woman is the one taking him from one church to the other. A lot of women are confused. I see them every Wednesday run to that particular church for prayers. Yes, the pastor is a wonderful man who preaches against so many atrocities. But when you see these women going in there, you can’t help wondering what they are after. So many of them go in there to pray against another person’s home. So many of them go there to pray before embarking on a trip as drug couriers. Tell me, who is deceiving who?

Women, by nature are very gullible. It is this gullible nature that keeps them unsatisfied and unsettled in a particular church. What are we running after? Can’t we sit in our houses sometimes, pray and still have them answered? Why is it that women have turned these pastors into super humans? Why are there no longer secrets between couples?

You may be saying Amara doesn’t understand what I am passing through. I really do understand. In fact, I have been through tougher things in life. But I have always believed one thing, time is a great healer. Yes, it is good to pray. I don’t joke with my prayer time. But I can tell you that there are things and issues that come naturally and need time to be sorted out.

I was invited to a church early this year as one of the speakers during their women’s conference. I said something that was mind-boggling. I told their pastors to begin to tell their members the truth. How can a woman waiting for the fruit of the womb gain so much weight that every part of her is covered with fat? I called one of them up and bluntly told her to stop asking for the fruit of the womb and first of all do something about her weight. This woman was weighing about 130kg. I told her it is very risky for her to take in that way.

I thank God she heeded my advice because the next thing would have been for her to start moving from church to church being deceived by the gullible pastors who will tell her it is her mother-in-law who doesn’t want her to have a baby. A woman goes to pastor complaining about the husband’s life of infidelity. I know men; a good number of them are like dogs. But there are times a woman pushes the man into it.

How can a man feel comfortable when he comes into his home and have everywhere smelling with the kids naked? How can a man be happy with a woman who cannot give him good food to eat? What on earth will make a man stick with a woman who cannot take proper care of herself? The man goes out there and sees a lot of ladies, different shapes and sizes. He then comes to his house to see his wife with wrapper and scarf on her hair. Girl, it is time you let the pastors be and start conducting deliverance on yourself.

Those pastors will not tell you the truth because they want you to keep coming and contributing offering money for their family. It is sad but I must say this. So many women have been seduced by these demonic men and women into having sex with them.

I know of a particular church now around Ojodu where people go to be washed by the pastor. I don’t know if that pastor’s hands has suddenly become the blood of Jesus which we Christians believe has the power to cleanse us.

How can any man of God ask women to bring certain things for their cleansing? I don’t always blame those men; I blame the foolish women who go after them. You run from one place to the other looking for solutions to problems that have nothing to do with the spiritual. Why would any reasonable woman go to another man for a bath? We keep reading of people given birth to strange babies. Why won’t there be such stories when you move from one prayer house to the other because of a child. They end up giving birth to one that will cause you pain for life.

Some women have indirectly become the pastor’s second wife. You leave your house early in the morning while others are on their way to work, you head to the church. You stay there from morning till evening. You may not agree with me, but the truth is that so many pastors have turned their members into slaves and zombies.

His wife is out there doing her business. His children are all doing well in school. He is in his own office attending to his business. But he keeps telling you to be very committed in the church. Some women have messed up the lives of their children, making them see every other thing as useless. They no longer go to school because they have to pray for the church.

I recently heard of a pastor somewhere around Ajao Estate. A lady who left his church came crying to me. This pastor has succeeded in tearing a wonderful family apart. The mother and all her children now live in the church, forfeiting their business. The son who is a graduate of computer science now works as the driver to the pastor’s wife and at the end of every month, he gets just N7,000.

I see women carrying handbags and bible all over the place for their mummy G.O. I am not against it because honour should be given to whom it is due. But I want you to always have this in mind. Those mummies have chosen that as their career in life. You are just wasting away thinking you are living. What are you going to tell generations after you? That you lived just to carry handbag for your pastor’s wife. If you have chosen that as your job, fine, but whatever you do full time should add some value to your life.

My fellow women, we are the backbone of our families and the nation at large. It is right, very right to pray and be a committed church goer. But please, let us know when and where to stop. You don’t need all those prayer houses. You don’t have to allow anybody manipulate your life. Stop thinking your husband is a devil when he tries to caution you.

I have heard of women stealing from their husbands all because they have to pay their vows in the church. There is no reward for such offering. It will rather bring curses upon you. I know of a particular women’s fellowship where it is all about competing to become the richest member. Most of these women are housewives but when it comes to raising money, they go out of their way to lie to their husbands. Some of them sleep with other men because they have to meet up with their friends.

Some women put their husbands under pressure when it comes to making pledges in the church. Please, let that man be. Most times those pastors claim God told them that there are people who will give N1million. But the truth is that God did not tell them anything. Stop falling prey to their antics and manipulations. Give because you want to give, not because someone is making you his zombie.

Ladies, stay away from any church or gathering that makes you struggle to try to become what you are not.


Monday 21 June 2010


First off, this note or should I say diary, was written by a non Nigerian not me, and as you may know, I always credit my sources :). Suffice to say the person is an interesting character who writes in a straight forward, easy manner, who clearly does not have time to play with words, the author says it as they see it.

It is a long one but well worth the read and maybe if we are true to ourselves we will note all the authentic 'Nigerian Factors' as experienced by this person. It doesnt necessarily follow strict patterns as the author speaks from different scenarios albeit while tackling a national based project.

My question/challenge to Nigerians who can see this note is how would you have handled these scenarios? I ask with all seriousness, please just pick one of the many 'nf' in these notes and tell us how you would have gone about executing that project.

Title: Mr Williams!!??!!! by William Robertson
Thursday, 08 November 2007 at 04:25

Nigeria is not for the faint hearted, although blissful ignorance and a fistful of dollars will get you a long way. After being happily unemployed for some time, it gradually dawned on me that my wife was getting very tight-lipped. Possibly this had something to do with the mounting bills, or the newspaper being left open at the ‘Employment opportunities' section. Weeks of selective reading finally produced two possibilities: one in Nigeria, and one comfy job for the American embassy. The Americans phoned me the day AFTER I signed the Nigerian contract. C'est la vie. Four frenetic days later I was on a plane to Nigeria, with a group of equally bewildered South Africans. The job was appealing: fingerprint 60 million Nigerians in 2 weeks.

In the middle of the night, the first clue that you are near Lagos is the orange glow of all the oil wells flaring off gas. I learnt later that Nigeria is one of the most wasteful oil-producers in the world, literally burning up millions of dollars worth of gas.

We were given a relatively gentle introduction to Nigeria: the inside of airport was quiet, and we were met by a guide, who kept us all together, fought off the touts outside the airport, shovelled us into taxis and drove us to an exorbitantly expensive hotel that looked like a cross between a prison and a fort. The following day dawned, and our nanny packed us into taxis to get us to the domestic airport for our flight to Abuja. That was when rule number one became clear: DO NOT EVEN THINK OF DRIVING YOURSELF! Nigerians are not keen on road rules. I quite enjoyed the drive. The highpoint was taking a freeway OFFRAMP, and meeting cars coming UP the ramp! The domestic terminal is something like hell, except hell is probably not as hot, or as crowded. Fortunately our watchdog/shepherdess did all the negotiating, and we were rapidly checked in and pointed in the right direction of the plane. Note to nervous flyers: Nigerian airports tend to have wrecks of planes lying around them. If you are a nervous flyer, take a book. Or a blindfold.

Arrival in Abuja. Abuja is recognizable as a city. That is, lots of construction, good roads.. Traffic lights! Crazy traffic, but all the signs of civilization are there. Our employers, a French company, frequently said: 'Abuja is NOT Nigeria'. I don't think we heard them, as we were still trying to decipher Nigerian English, learning how to haggle, and find out where we could find food. Wine, women and song are readily available; although I suspect some of our group were not quite up to speed, and thought that the women were chasing them because they had suddenly acquired sex-god status. While Abuja appears to be a fairly average city, it doesn't take long to notice that some things don't work very well. The lights go off frequently, but as many places are used to this; there are a lot of generators. Then there is the cost. It's EXPENSIVE. Then there is the problem of food. Finding variety is difficult. Finding something tasty is more so. While we managed to find some places where we could eat, they were few and far between. Usually we just stuck to hotel food. And beer. Vast quantities of it. (At least it's filling.) There were numerous complaints of 'this beer gives me a headache' and 'this beer makes me sick'. Not the sheer heat, it's very easy to drink vast quantities of the stuff, and hardly notice it.

Haggling over prices is de-rigeur in Nigeria, because of the dual-currency mechanism. One price for Nigerians, and a MUCH higher one for anybody else. ‘Anybody else’ is usually white people, who are generally Europeans or Americans. Dropping a bunch of less-than-black South Africans with not much money into the mix created some interesting situations. Euros and Americans were seen as portable cash machines, and being treated like them was both annoying and not very flattering.

Rule number two: Taxi drivers in Nigeria will always know where you want to go, even if they don't. Explicit instructions are necessary: 'Wuse, Zone 5, Next to Inland Revenue'. Once we had established what the REAL (Nigerian) price was, haggling became much easier; 'Wuse zone 5, 200 Naira'. If the driver showed any reluctance, we walked away. This doesn't work very well anywhere else in Nigeria, particularly in the South, where the locals are used to Americans who throw money around like water, and attempts at bargaining are treated with contempt.

Our employers, French, were equally baffling. They all lived at the Hilton, stuck together like glue, and treated everyone else with varying degrees of Gallic contempt. We had no real idea of what we were actually supposed to be doing, and if they knew, they weren't telling us either. When they started training us on some specialized computer equipment, it rapidly became clear that they weren't quite sure what they had, either! We breezed through all the instruction in a fraction of the time allotted, and then it was 'make work'. One instruction was: 'Take all those computers apart, and store them over there.' Fine, we did that. Then after lunch it was 'Take all those computers, and install them back there.' This nearly provoked a riot; didn't they READ our damn CV's??? (They probably did, but maybe they had been exposed to too many Nigerian CV's.)

With hindsight, maybe it wasn't TOO unreasonable: it was probably Zaffers ejecting the CD drive tray and saying: 'Is this the coffee-cup holder?' which may have confused the issue. The French didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour.

We finally got some information as to what we had to do, and what the overall plan was:
1) Learn all the equipment, which is used for capturing fingerprints and photographs, the data will be used to create a national ID card for Nigerians.
2) The South Africans would then move out to training schools all over the country, and teach a lot of Nigerians (hired by our employer) how to use this equipment.
3) These Nigerians would then go on to teach DNCR (Department of National Civic Registration) staff, in a huge pyramid scheme.
4) Once everybody was trained, a huge equipment rollout would occur, and then:
5) A massive enrolment exercise would occur, where we would, theoretically, fingerprint 60 million Nigerians in 2 weeks, with the Sagem staff providing technical support and logistics control, and the DNCR doing all the actual work.

It all sounded very good in theory, but no one thought of that good old standby: the Nigerian Factor. The Nigerian Factor is a subset of WAWA, (West Africa Wins Again) as expats with thousand-yard stares cynically refer to it. The NF is unique. I have, for example, never seen a meticulously project plan that contains every possible detail except one thing: a timeline. That missing timeline is the NF. The NF is random and inexplicable, and can only be learned through experience The NF is Murphy's Law on amphetamines, and travelling faster than light.

{With hindsite, the French did know what they were doing, which is why there was no timeline!)

The day finally dawned when we had to start teaching Nigerians how to use all this equipment. Much pomp and circumstance, and the Minister DOESN'T say the words that are at the end of his speech: 'Any obstruction to this project will be considered sabotage'. By now we have learnt that Nigeria runs on bullshit. CV's and abilities in Nigeria are inflated towards the stratosphere. Teaching a 'Certified Computer Engineer' that 'this is a mouse. If you move it around like this, it moves that little pointer, and if you click with this button...' had a surreal quality. So we developed filtering processes very quickly. One was to put everyone in front of a PC and say 'Open paint, and draw a circle'. This quickly sorted out who knew what a computer was, but was only good for one batch. As that batch left the class room, there would be voluminous exchanges in the vernacular, and the next class would then sit down and draw a circle with paint.....before they had been asked to! So it was necessary to constantly change tactics.

The French then inform us that they want us to go to Minna, a town about 100 KM from Abuja, and set up a training school. We organise a minibus, get to Minna about 3 hours later, and wait. The truck with all the equipment hasn't left Abuja yet...eventually the truck arrives, just after lunch. Nobody will offload it without payment. We ignore them, and do it ourselves. In about 3 hours, our training school is set up, and all the equipment tested. We all want to go back to Abuja now, but we get all kinds of excuse of 'it's not safe to drive back, we should stay there overnight.' We all get seriously pissed off. We've set up the damn training school, what the hell do these lunatics want?' We go back to Abuja. The following day, we have to go back to Minna, and meet the French there. Apparently this is another test of our competence. We are all somewhat miffed. We get to Minna, and wait for the French to arrive. Eventually they do, bringing a couple of guys we have never seen before. The new guys wander around, and make various inane remarks. South Africans keep drifting off 'for a cigarette'. Including the guys who don't smoke. They can be found around a corner hitting walls and ranting about 'fucking petty minded obnoxious who like to go by the book, even if they don't know what book or who wrote it.' The French project manager is Christened 'Napoleon', due to his extremely dictatorial, unpleasant demeanour. This probably gets back to him, as he moderates his behaviour slightly, which was fortunate for him; there were many rumblings about ‘pounding that little fucker into the dirt’.

Nigeria is unlike any other place I’ve ever been to: Everybody is looking for a way out. Out of Nigeria, that is. Or a sinecure, preferably with a powerful mentor in the background. Every Nigerian wants money and power by any available means. If confabulation, obfuscation, misinformation and disinformation equals coal power, then Nigeria is powered by Star Trek engines. It's tribal warfare with ties, and corruption is the sport of the masses.

Our introduction to the real Nigeria was the next stage: we split up and got to 7 training centres around the country. Masochist that I am, I say I'll take the place no-one else wants to go. This turns out to be Yola, in Eastern Nigeria, on the Cameroonian border. We all get careful briefings, a satellite phone, and a contact name of an official in the DNCR who will sort out the local side of things.

I arrive in a very hot, (40C upwards) dry and dusty Yola, and try to telephone my local contact. No luck. So I try and find my training school. Discovery number 1: there are no taxis! Eventually I find someone to take me where I want to go. I'm stunned at the taxi price, which is about 10 times the Abuja rate. (They said it would be CHEAPER here!!) I show him the address. He's never heard of it. We drive around, trying various government departments. None of them know where it is either. Eventually we locate the place. Nobody is there, and nobody is expecting me anyway. Someone goes to call him.

We meet, and he seems an OK guy, if somewhat hesitant and non-committal. I realise later that it’s simple self-preservation: He’s seen projects come and go. Usually they get far enough for the money to disappear, and then they stop. Also they have been happily employed for YEARS, without actually doing anything. Office hours were from 9AM until 2 PM (maybe) nobody did anything; they just sat around and made conversation, so part of the problem was overcoming the enormous inertia of people who had been sitting around for years, doing nothing. We go to the building that I am going to use as a training centre, and have a look around. It seems fine. Then I start on my checklist:
Electricity? No. Water? No. Telephone? No. Disconnected for non-payment. Chairs and Tables? None. Generator? Yes. Does it work? Yes. Does it have fuel? No. Can you GET fuel? No, no money.

Hmmm....lessee...what DO I have? I have a building, and nothing else. A couple of days later, a huge truck arrives with computers and similar. I have strict instructions not to pay for anything, as this is not my responsibility. My state coordinator must pay. He says he hasn't got any money. Hmm... I phone a couple of colleagues who are having exactly the same problems. The truck driver says that he's waiting 3 hours, and then going back to Abuja. Eventually my sidekick, after much (loud) negotiation, coughs up, and the truck is offloaded. Part of the shipment is a generator, so I spend the next few days unpacking stuff, and getting a computer set up. The telephone gets re-connected. There is no space in the building for the planned first batch or trainees, (about 120) so the plan is to hire tables chairs and canopies and do part of the training outside. Negotiations start for the hiring of said items.

The day dawned when 150 people arrive for training. I had managed to install all the computers. All 10 of them. My additional South African staff were noticeable by their absence, and there were still no tables and chairs or canopies that SHOULD have been available. Around midday, tables, chairs and canopies arrive, along with some exhausted South Africans, who have driven all the way from Abuja. We manage to start training anyway.

On day 2 of the training a worried South African tells me that the DNCR staff say they are not going to be trained anymore, because they haven't been paid. I tell him to start training, even if it's to an empty tent. He does, and the 'strike' fizzles out. By the end of the week, we are back on schedule, and have trained our first batch. Only 2 more to go.

As I have no internet connection, all reports to Abuja are verbal, via satellite telephone. The French are demanding lists of names and similar. I go hunting for a fax machine. Eventually I find one, and send off some reports to keep them happy. On Thursday I am complaining to a local Deloitte & Touche contractor at the hotel about the difficulty of getting reports to Abuja. The following conversation is an excellent insight into the NF:
Me: '...and finding a fax machine in this town! Sheesh.'
DT: 'Why don't you fax them from here? (the hotel)'
Me: 'They told me on Monday that I couldn't.' (This was Thursday)
DT 'I send all my staff reports from here.'
As I now have some idea of how Nigeria works, I ask him to accompany me to the reception desk.
Me: 'Excuse me, do you have a fax machine?'
Rec: 'Yes'
Me: 'Is it working?'
Rec: 'Yes.'
Me: 'Ok, I'd like you to send this page now.'
Rec: 'I'm sorry, you can't.'
Me: 'Why not?'
Rec: 'No light.' (no electricity)
Me: 'So your fax machine is NOT working?'
Rec:' Yes, it's working.'
In short, the fax machine DOES work, IF there is electricity, and IF the phone line is working, neither of which can be expected.

Fortunately, a French project manager arrived from Abuja with a bag full of cash. This solves a lot of little problems. He also has the authority to do some things, which he does, ruthlessly.

Week 2 of the training runs much better, especially now that we have better communications: we can send email via our sat phones. It's frighteningly indicative of Nigeria that the only way we can do this reliably is to phone, with a sat phone, to an ISP in France. Our office in Abuja does the same thing, and picks up the mail. The only way to establish reliable communications is by completely bypassing all Nigerian systems. Sad, but true.

Here’s another conversation.
'Mr Williams, is it true that all Nigerians in South Africa are criminals'
Me. 'Yes, that is a very strong perception. They are often involved in criminal syndicates, car theft, drugs, robberies and so on.'
'Mr Williams, do they actually do all the crimes, or are they just in charge?'
Me: 'They're frequently in charge'
'Oh.. That's ok then, as long as they're not doing the work'
Me: 'You're fired.'

It was another insight into Nigeria: Nobody cares how you get to the top, as long as you get there! It doesn't matter what you are the boss OF, as long as you're the boss! And everybody wants to be the boss. Preferably without doing any work. At our location, a new building was being built. The workmen on that site were the only people I ever saw doing any physical labour. I watched them for weeks, before it finally clicked what was 'wrong' with the scene: no machines. The highest piece of tech was the truck that delivered the sand. Water was fetched from somewhere down the road in 20 litre containers. This was then mixed with the sand and cement using spades. The mixed cement was then carried to where it was needed. There wasn't even a wheelbarrow.

And then there were the number of people in training who volunteered methods of ‘cheating the system'.
'Mr. Williams! If people do this...and then this... the system will not detect it's wrong..'
The effort and ingenuity that went into devising methods of ‘beating the system' were endless, and extremely irritating. None of them would have worked, but if a tenth of the effort was actually put into doing what they were supposed to, instead of devising 'what if's'...

One other South African ruefully recounted how he'd opened one of his training sessions with: 'There are no stupid questions'. 'No way am I ever doing that again' he said, crying into his beer.

Week 3 was almost routine; we have trained about 300 people, selected the best we can, (I choose Gabriel for his technical ability, and Paschal because he’s big, and could talk LOUD! The latter is frequently necessary in Nigeria; what often sounds like a heated argument anywhere else is ‘normal conversation' here.

It's back to Abuja for a couple of days to debrief, eat some food, and get horribly drunk and share war stories, of which there is no shortage. My most memorable was the colleague who was trying to set up his training centre. All efforts at acquiring electricity, fuel, tables chairs met with absolute zero co-operation, and less result. One day a truck arrives. A tent is set up, chairs, tables, food, a generator, a sound system. The occasion? One of the staff has resigned, and it's his farewell party.'s a matter of priorities!

I return to Yola, and South Africans scattered to every state in Nigeria. The next phase was to find suitable accommodation for computers and hardware throughout Nigeria, 774 of them, and then distribute all the hardware to various towns throughout Nigeria. Again, the requirements appear simple: find a building that is weatherproof and secure. Electricity and water will be a bonus. I had 21 offices that I needed to establish. While I was in Abuja, my staff have been assigned a town, and are expected to report back with suitability in each place. I debrief them all individually; trying to work out the real information. All the reports are depressingly familiar: No building. Building under construction. No security. No Electricity. No telephone. No petrol. Road unusable. My favourite was a beautiful student from Lagos, who had now been posted to a tiny village in the bush. A city dweller transplanted into the back of beyond. "Mr Williams! I had to take a CANOE to get to my LGA (Local Government Area, usually the biggest village in the area) ‘My feet got wet!'

Right....I get everybody together, and we do training and testing AGAIN, because I'm well aware of that, of my 23 staff, some of them do NOT know what they are doing. They are a completely mixed bag of personalities, sexes and religions. They're all quite wary of each other, and of me. Hierarchy and protocol are exceptionally important in Nigeria, and I'm a little nervous of causing serious affront. One of my staff, who I call ‘AK’ drives me to distraction. I get the glimmer that he is some big wheel in the area, as the others constantly defer to him. They all think he will make a very good supervisor (LTA or Local Technical Assistant) because 'people will do what he tells them'. I'm never quite sure WHY he's involved. He has money, and is somehow related to THE man in the area. Except that I'm certain that his technical ability is not very good, and I'm scared he will tell people the WRONG things. This is a little paranoid of me, but the shifts in Nigerian politics, at all levels, are impenetrable and incomprehensible. There are so many factions with so many different agendas, that attempting to decipher them is an exercise in futility. In one of my more lucid moments, I realise I AM ‘the man’, or the moment, anyway. Hierarchy takes precedence over protocol, and while I am there, I am 'the man of the moment' from which employment (and money!) flows. I CAN DO NO WRONG!, I suspect that this is just another project that is expected to fail, and AK is there to feed information to 'Mr X', whoever he may be.

I also have a staff member who I decidedly did NOT want, who caused me no end of confusion. How she was allocated to me was a mystery. I had realized very early in the training that she had absolutely no idea what was going on, to the extent that I had (privately) marked her name as No Good. It took nearly 3 weeks to establish what she was doing there, by which time it was too late to fire her. She HADN'T been hired. The original appointee had found another job, so he gave her his letter of appointment and told her to report in his place. Simple really. Surprisingly, she did a very good job. A colleague reported a similar incident: He fired one person. Another promptly resigned, and gave the fired person her job.

Adamawa state is quite a tolerant place, religion wise: the Christian/Muslim split is around 50/50 and there are no overt signs of conflict, unlike some other states. Having women 'in charge’ in a very traditional society is a bit more of a challenge. Whether Christian or Muslim, it's extremely difficult for women, and it's hard for them to approach local chiefs or traditional leaders for assistance. And assistance we needed: While we were working for the Department of National Civil Registration (DNCR) office space, vehicles and furniture in the various towns and villages was provided by the National Population Commission. The NPC had been given millions of Naira to provide this, and there was no sign of either the money of the office accommodation.

This caused at least one interesting meeting in Abuja, where the NPC was reporting that 'all accommodation was ready'. The DNCR representative tried to speak up, but others attempted to silence him. The chairman of the meeting demanded that he be heard, and he said that accommodation was NOT ready. Finally our company was called in, and they reported accommodation was NOT ready.

Chairman: 'So how can you say the accommodation is ready, when these people say they cannot install their equipment?'
NPC 'The accommodation IS ready, but the landlord will not hand over the keys to unlock the offices.'
Chairman: 'Why will the landlord not hand over the keys?'
NPC: 'Well...we haven't paid the rent yet....'

I came across 'one way' communication time and time again. An instruction would be issued, and not carried out. Not only would it not be carried out, nobody would ever report back that it hadn't been done! The robotic quality of people, when it came to instructions, was terrifying, and they had it down to a fine art. Just about ANY instruction could be issued, and it would disappear into nowhere, without any blame being attached to anyone. If the effect could be inverted, Mt Kilimanjaro could be moved to another continent without anybody noticing. There is very little room in Nigeria for independent thought, and the French drove us mad with crazy micro-management methods. I frequently got the sense that there were two completely separate realities: what we had to put into our reports, and what was ACTUALLY happening. Sometimes they would ask for information when the opportunity to gather that information had long since passed. When that happened, I just made something up, and sent that; it was never queried.

While we are waiting for offices and security to be organized, I manage to do a trip down to the southern side of my state, simply to get a better idea of things on the ground. We have a car, a driver, myself and one of my Senior techs's, and Tony, the state co-ordinator. THEN we go to the offices of the NPC (National Population Commissioner) where everybody and his secretary wants to come along for the ride. I claim the front passenger seat on the grounds that I need it for my satellite phone reception. (true, sort of) Everybody else crams into the back. The vehicle is a Puegot station wagon, in very good condition. It can MOVE. The road, contrary to my expectations, is very good, and we make good time. We arrive at Mayo-Belwa, a fairly typical Local Government Area. Here the offices earmarked for us were burnt down, but have been rebuilt. Bear in mind that we only require enough space for a computer, and some storage space for equipment: 3 rooms. The original request was for 6 rooms, which was the ideal, but we could manage with less. Now, this office has been the subject of much discussion with problems of contractors (builders) landlords and similar, with long complicated arguments about why it is not ready/unsuitable/incomplete. The rooms look fine, and while we are waiting for the keys, I wander around the LGA, which is basically a walled complex of small buildings, for various government departments. Adjacent to our new offices are some (apparently) deserted offices. Sure enough, they ARE deserted, and have been for a long time. They are also perfectly adequate. Why couldn't we just use those ones, instead of going through all this drama? Nobody knows, but much later I manage to piece together a scenario:
1) Offices burn down, at some time in the past.
2) ID card project requires offices.
3) Burnt down offices are allocated to ID card project, because there is 'no other space available'.(?)
4) Money is then allocated to rebuild offices.
5) Long process of tendering for a contractor.
6) Contract calls for demolishing of old offices, and construction of new ones.
7) Contractor gets money and purchases materials.
8) Contractor DOES NOT demolish building; repairs whatever is damaged.
9) Contractor builds house somewhere for someone with materials for new offices.

You could go mad trying to work out who was the 'corrupt' person in that lot, or where the money went. So it’s less brain-damaging to not even try. Simply put, there wasn't a single person taking a slice: EVERYBODY did. Or maybe nobody. Who knows?

I also notice a brand new satellite dish for use where there are no phone lines. (Except there ARE phone lines here!) Apparently every Local Government Area is to get one, and it will connect 'to the internet'. It’s just another indication of the madness that infects Nigeria: these things are by no means cheap; this one looks more suitable for use on deep space missions. I can't even comprehend what it will be used for, as there are much more cost effective means of communication. It also seems to have been installed with no regard for local conditions: there's no electricity! In this LGA, there is a 'radio room', with radios. Covered in a very thick layer of dust. I wonder if they cannot keep a simple radio in use/working, what hope for a sophisticated satellite system? Heartbreaking.

I have one area that requires 100 staff. It has already been suggested to one of my staff that 'we cut staff to 60, and we can keep the money that we would have spent on the 40 staff.'.
In other words, dump 40% of the project in that area, make numerous excuses, and pocket the salaries that SHOULD have been paid..'

One careless official forgets a file in my office. I read it. It’s a long, complicated dossier about the procurement for furniture for this project. The prices for desks and chairs are outrageous, but no matter: I never see any of this elusive furniture anyway.

I gathered my staff for a progress meeting, and, being well aware that some were not actually staying in the town they were posted to, announced that:

'....naturally, I will be visiting all of your offices to see how things are going.'
Billy: 'Mr Williams, will you let us know when you are scheduled to visit us?'
Much quiet expectation.
Me: 'Why would I do that? So that you know which day you must actually be in your office?'
Much laughter.

Once we were over the hump of getting secure offices, trucks are dispatched from the massive stores in Kaduna. The problem of 'who's the boss' kept rearing its head. Theoretically, we were there to provide technical support, and the DNCR provided all the staff. The problem being that the DNCR had only the vaguest idea of what was supposed to happen, whereas my staff are much better informed. The NPC also wanted in on the act, so it was quite a job ensuring that our office space wasn't filled with bodies wandering around.

For example: one of my staff members in a small town was at the end of his tether, as the DNCR officer had taken over, insisting that he knew how everything worked (he didn't) and was currently busy SELLING forms that were designed to record all the details of each applicant during the massive enrolment. I have no idea WHY he was selling the forms, as they were absolutely useless on their own. He was replaced, and things normalised.

Ultimately, there were, from our perspective, 2 groups in Nigeria: those that WANT a national ID card, and those that don't. Nigeria has fiercely resisted census attempts, because then it would be quite clear just how many people there are in Nigeria, and where they are. One of the (many) reasons is that Central Government allocates money to various states. If someone SAYS 'I have 3 million people in my state, I need money' there is no way of proving otherwise.
Gabriel brings back a fascinating story from 'the north' which he relates that evening, to much amusement:
He encounters a local leader who is terribly worried about the ID card project. By this stage, people who DON'T want it to work have to be VERY careful, lest they attract the label of 'saboteurs' and similar, and the project is, much to the surprise of many, still on track.
Local Leader: 'I'm going to register anyone and everyone I possible can: I'm even planning on registering as many Cameroonians as I can'.
Gabriel nods encouragement, and agrees with him wholeheartedly. As far as we are concerned, we would rather have people WANTING to register, even if fraudulently, than have a boycott. The duplicates can always be weeded out later.

Now that equipment is arriving, I go on another field trip to see how installations are going. This time I go to parts west of me, and again, I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of the road. Not GREAT, you understand, but 100KM/h is easily possible. I wonder why I had so many reports about 'terrible roads'; just another excuse to stall? This mystery clears up two weeks later, when I travel the same road again, and average about 40km/h. Maintenance is not big in Nigeria. Potholes on sealed roads are maintained by people living along the road, who fill the potholes with sand, in exchange for tips. The rains start. When it rains, it rains.
In no time at all, all the sand is washed out of the potholes and the road reverts to ...something indescribable. It's not uncommon to see roads forming in the dirt, because it's more comfortable to drive in the dirt that swerve to avoid a pothole, and hit two more.

It took me MONTHS to understand what Nigerians meant by 'black market'. This is partly because of the confusion of Nigerian English (translations elsewhere) and Nigerian economics. Petrol is a good example. Nigeria has huge oil reserves. Fuel shortages, however, are frequent. That means that you can't just go into a fuel station and fill up. The availability of petrol varies randomly. It's easy to know when fuel is available: there are queues at the stations. However, if petrol is not available at a station, doesn't mean it's not available. Usually you just drive a little way down the road, and buy it from a street vendor. Quite openly, under the gaze of police or army. At twice the price. There is no obvious rhyme or reason to the pattern either, so it's difficult to plan anything. You could, theoretically, buy a lot of petrol and store it. Except then you would be guilty of the crime of hoarding, or being a 'black marketer'. To DO this, however, you would have to take your car to a station, fill it up, drive home, empty the tank into containers, drive to another station and repeat the process. Why such a convoluted arrangement? Because you're not allowed to go to a station and fill up a container! I lost track of the time and effort it took every time I wanted 25 litres of petrol for a generator; almost every transaction took some persuading. Sometimes it was a point-blank refusal, and then it was search for another station that had fuel...and repeat the process. 'blackmarket petrol' isn't very secretive or hidden; it's just a parallel economic system. The solution to these erratic shortages seems simple: Raise the price of fuel, or supply more, or both. Raising the price of fuel usually results in riots, and increasing the supply is difficult: the infrastructure doesn't permit it. Either solution encounters a problem: somebody, somewhere, has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and will fight tooth and nail to prevent such things happening.


Niglish is Nigerian English, a very distinct English that is rife with double meanings. Words are frequently used interchangeably and out of context, which adds to the confusion , particularly when no-one bothers to clarify exactly what is being talked about. After much muttering an grumbling via my state coordinator, he arranged for a 'fuel allocation' by calling someone he knew in state security, who in turn made some calls. I never did get my fuel, because I wanted PETROL, and the petrol station we eventually went to said the arrangement had been made for DIESEL....
Dash-Cash lubricant needed to get something done. Also means “give” as in “Dash me your cellphone.”
No Light: Generic term for 'no electricity'. It can mean several things. In it's general use, it means there is no electricity, but it can also mean the lights don't work. (the TV may work, but not the lights.)
The REASON that there is no electricity at your immediate location can vary enormously:
1) There is no utility power. (power supplies are erratic, at best.)
2) There is no utility power because the bill hasn't been paid.
3) There is no utility power because something is broken. (cable, switch etc.)
4) The generator isn't working.
5) The generator IS working, but there's no fuel.
6) The generator IS working, there IS fuel, but we don't want to run it.

Even this careful reasoning breaks down sometimes: I was mystified by reports of “Yes, there is light, but it doesn’t work the computers”. No amount of meticulous questioning could establish the problem, so I went to the site. Yes, there WAS light. Very DIM light, because instead of 220v, it was about 100v, and had been like that for over a year.

How hotels work in Nigeria.

Frequently, they don't. At the top of the range, there are a few (expensive) hotels catering for Western tastes and sensibilities. (Mainly food) Moving down wards, the cheaper hotels all attempt to emulate those hotels, with varying degrees of success. The biggest problem is electric power. NEPA, the National Electric Power Agency, is referred to as Never Electric Power Always. Considering that every South African has, on average, 1000W of power available to them, as opposed to the average Nigerian of just 33 watts, it’s not surprising it’s hard to do things. So the first requirement is: Does the hotel has a generator? Then you have to establish if A) It works. B) It has fuel. C) There is not some OTHER problem that prevents it from actually delivering power. (Fuses blown, wiring faulty, etc.) Then repeat the process for the airconditioning. Aircon is a necessity here; not a luxury. The easiest way of doing this is to just move in. As you will encounter problems, you will encounter the staff of the hotel, and a response that can leave you frustrated, angry and confused: sympathy and condolences, but no action. Partially this is due to total non-comprehension of what you are talking about. Most Nigerians don’t have Air con. In one hotel I discovered it was cooler with the AC OFF, and the doors and windows open. Maintenance eventually arrived, turned on the AC and put his hand in the airflow, and declared the AC working. Well, yes, it WAS ‘working’; it was making a noise, and blowing air from outside in. It wasn’t actually COOLING; just a very noisy fan. When I pointed this small fact out, he looked completely bewildered. As far as he was concerned, I must have been mad. It was making a noise, wasn’t it? It was blowing, wasn’t it? If I put my hand by the AC vent, it feels cold, doesn’t it? I feel I should point out that his hands were wet. In fact, we were BOTH wet; small rivers of sweat rolling down us to the puddle we were standing in. I let him go, had another shower, and opened another beer. After changing rooms 3 times, I tried another hotel. This one was WORSE! It had 4 satellite dishes, but only one TV station. The local one. The water supply was so erratic, it was often necessary to walk down to reception and request a few buckets. The electricity supply was non-existent. In desperation, I borrowed a UPS from work, which at least gave me a bit more time to watch TV when the power was off.

Which brings me to another part of hotel life: the fridge. Most hotels have a fridge in the room. Most of them aren’t properly tropicalised, but generally they work. If the AC is working, they work well. They are usually set to ‘minimum cool’ but just turn it up to maximum. Keep it FULL. Fill it with bottles of water, beer, whatever. That way, with the inevitable power outages, it stays cool. Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. If you have a good fridge, you can have an iceblock to carry around with you to drink from. Ice is not big in Nigeria. Neither is anything cold. I suspect the Nigerian definition of ‘cold’ is anything just below 30C. So it is preferable to stock your fridge with the beverage of your choice.

Once you have your room sorted out, the next search is for food. The hotel MAY have a menu, but frequently not. You have to know what you want. If there is a menu, you can at get some idea of what people eat, so that you will know what to ask for in a menu-less eatery. Make several choices as to what you want; the menu may be extensive, but very little of what is on the menu will actually be available.
Avoid asking for variations on the menu; this will cause major confusion. Try and avoid eating in large groups, if possible. Five is about the limit. After that…be prepared for mixed orders, and confusion. An example: A group of 7 of us went to a restaurant where we know we can get a good, cheap meal. As we were all pretty hungry, but well aware of the problems of larger groups, we kept it as simple as possible: ‘3 normal omelettes, two Spanish omelettes, one potato omelette, all double omelettes, and chips”. One fish kebab was ordered separately. Keep in mind that a normal omelette is made with 2 eggs. When they all arrived, we got omelettes, all of various types. When the bill arrived, it included numerous separate entries for omelettes, which added up to 24 omelettes, some of which were normal price, and some at double price. The next time I visited, and ordered a double omelette, they brought two, instead of one big one.
One other problem with large groups: The kitchen usually has a limited capacity, so it is necessary to state that when food is ready, “Bring it”. Otherwise they will make one dish at a time, put it to one side, continue cooking, and bring all the meals simultaneously. Most of which will be cold.

One night being too far away from my 'home' base in Yola, I had to overnight in Mubi. For an extra 100 Naira, I could get a room with a TV. The evening went something like this starting with the restaurant:
Me: 'Do you have a menu? (a menu is a rare beastie in Nigerian restaurants, but it's worth trying.)
'She: 'No'
Me: 'what do you have to eat?'
She: ' Vegetable soup and somfu' (pap)
Me: 'What ELSE do you have to eat?'
She: 'Vegetable soup.'
Me: (resignedly) 'I'll have the vegetable soup and somfu."

The "vegetable soup" was damn good. I'm not sure exactly what was in it, mostly meat and no visible vegetables, but tasty in any case. Not a place to visit if Vegetarian. After the meal, I retire to my room.
10 minutes after turning on the TV...'no light'. It stayed that way until the following morning.
When I checked out, purely for my own amusement, the conversation went like this:
Me, to receptionist: 'You owe me 100 Naira.' (about 10 Rand)
Rec: 'Why?'
Me: 'There was no TV in my room.'
Rec: 'What room number?'
Me: '147'
Receptionist checks list of rooms and says: 'There is TV in 147.'
Me: 'It didn't work. Why must I pay for something that doesn't work?'
Rec: 'There no light.'
Me: 'Why must I pay for TV that doesn't work?'
Rec: 'There TV in room.'
Me: 'So must I go to the NEPA office and ask for my N100, because it's their fault the TV not work?'
Rec:' There is TV in room.'

The thinking was, by Nigerian standards, completely reasonable: There is a TV in the room, for which the charge is an extra N100. The fact that it doesn't work, due to their not being any electricity, is completely irrelevant.

(Ending with the national anthem )

Arise O compatriots, Nigeria's call obey

To serve our Fatherland

With love and strength and faith.

The labour of our heroes past

Shall never be in vain,

To serve with heart and might

One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

O God of creation,

Direct our noble cause;

Guide our Leaders right:

Help our Youth the truth to know,

In love and honesty to grow,

And living just and true,
Great lofty heights attain,

To build a nation where peace and justice reign.

Activity feed

Thursday 17 June 2010


Gabrielle Union: I don’t think about children. I’m 37 and I don’t think about wanting kids at all or look at babies and go ‘Ooh!’ I have more of a chance of adopting animals on the street.

Responses to her statements

I’m 30 and not ready.
Just bought a house and enjoying being independent…waking up at noon, buying a new jacket, enjoy going on dates with my guy.
All my siblings had kids 35 and up.

Feel the same way and I am 38. I have known since I was eight that I would never be a mother. Some women are just not maternal, better to acknowledge that than pop out children that end up being unloved.

Having Children is a HUGE life changer! I think black women are pressured into to having babies young because of the misconception that it’s the norm. All my friends have children, mostly out of wed lock or serious committed relationships, and you know what the majority of them are miserable.
‘Nuff guys ask me why I don’t have kids and I simply reply that I haven’t met the right man, plus I am single as in not married, divorced or separated. Raising a baby by myself is not my idea of having fun.
I won’t settle for a baby father! Not saying that I have to get married but having a life partner is a goal. Women please don’t feel pressured to become a mother is you are not ready. Ultimately you are the one who will bear the most responsibility for that child, so make informed decisions about your life before it’s too late

I will not lie and say I dont think about children but its very possible that I will not have any and thats ok. I’m 30 and I think I rather enjoy my life without them. I can honestly say I dont want children

I think motherhood is an individual choice.Every woman honestly doesn’t have the=at maternal feeling and her feeling that way should be respected.I would rather a woman that can admit that rather than having them and not appreciating them…raising children is not something everyone is cut out for….

Ever since I could remember,I always told my parents i would bring them 10 children!!We stopped at 8,the smallest one a year old now.My husband now has a vasectomy so I won’t be having more,but i would if i could!!I could not see my life without them!!

I’m 30 and married but don’t know if I want children yetI’m not selfish but the world is hell, I’m not sure that I wanna bring a child into this place, and that is my honest concern.

There are MANY people who are horrible parents and should have NEVER had kids. I respect anyone who decides not to have kids, rather than give into pressure to have kids. They will only resent their children and that’s never good.

What is the problem with her not wanting to have kids?? People kill me with the “you less than a woman or selfish” comments when you state you dont want kids!! Why should I subject myself to something I dont want to deal with! If you love bearing and raising them, KUDOS to you! However, I, like Gabby, dont even think about children and to bring them into such a dysfunctional, mad mad world, is to each its own!! Me personally,I dont have that maternal instinct and I’m just fine with it! Oh and love the free spirit, extra money, and calmness that my life possess, sorry if you dont agree, but ummmm, I’m Happy and my sweetheart has kids so, no pressure from him either!! LMAO And glad to hear her struggles are mine….JUST WANT TO GET THEM BILLS PAID and plan my KID-FREE vacations!! lol

I am a Community Social Worker, Youth Leader and Coach and have dated and am dating a 'Yummy Mummy' who has two of her own. I don't mind raising kids that have manners and morals ingrained already in them too.That is a firm condition. There is no worse turn-off than someones brats. I have to becareful when dating to articulate my view and desire or lack thereof before negative perceptions enter peoples mind. I've been told I have good life mentoring, life coaching and fatherly traits too.

I've been around in circles of relatives and various demographics of people that have deemed it from selfish, responsible, honest, weird, gay, confusing, immature and some say mature. Some just say I haven't found that ideal woman because God made us to Pro-Create and multiply.

Others try and pyscho assess me and say there is something in my childhood of which I'm trying to compensate for now. I knew I did not want kids in my early teens. I admit I crave fine automobiles to drive as a passion on my bucketlist. But I love trips and personal selfish freedoms like sleep, eating and leisure with self accountability and no external parental responsibility and it's infringements.

As an Afro-Black Canadian of Caribbean descent, I seem like a minority among minorities who does not have a few Baby momma's. It's getting harder to date now at age 35 because women already have been distraught by males, have a litter or two of kids ,and those that don't have any.., most likely will want kids.


What do you think?


Thursday 10 June 2010

How to be single part 2

It is the desire and prayer of every woman to get married. Every girl prays for a man in her life. Our culture has made it in such a way that we see a woman who has no man in her life as incomplete. That is not true.

A lot of young girls have found themselves in this situation. I see women run from one church to another in search of a husband. So many ladies have allowed the greedy men of God (so they claim to be), to eat all that is left in their hands because they keep asking them to sow seeds for a husband.

Why on earth will anybody tell you to sow a seed for a husband when it is your portion in life? We perish because of our lack of knowledge. Most people have been told that it is their bad lifestyle that has kept them unmarried. I always ask this question, what about those very good girls who live their lives well and yet, they are unmarried.

I see a lot of very corrupt and street girls getting married to very nice men, in fact, I have concluded that it is even the bad girls that get hooked to the few good men around. Life has its own way of handling issues. So many questions are really beyond human comprehension.

There are times you find yourself single in life. There are different levels of singleness. Some are single because they have never been married. Others are single either by death or divorce. I believe no woman wants to be single because men are there to complement us.

But now, you are single, maybe searching or not. How do you carry on with life? The single woman is faced with a lot of challenges. I agree we have the married do worse things these days than singles. A single woman is in total control of her own life. She decides how she wants her life to be.

Singleness does not mean loneliness. When you are single, you are alone, yes, but definitely not lonely. You may be looking at yourself as being inferior to your married friends. Girl, the truth is that having a partner without purpose is total emptiness. This is the condition of so many married couples in Nigeria. We have ladies moving all over the place without purpose and vision.

I don’t know your reason for being single up to this time. If it is your bad character and nature, please do all you can to change. A lot of ladies have never been married, but you have those who have been married before and are either separated or widowed being disturbed by men for marriage. Your bad nature could be the stumbling block.

The truth is that you can visit all the prayer houses in Lagos. You can pack your things and move into the church. You can belong to all the departments in church. You can have your pastor speak so well of you as a very dedicated church member. But if you still do not change your bad nature, there is no headway for you.

It is time you stop the long face as if someone killed a baby in your womb. There is something about a cheerful spirit, it attracts. How do you talk to men around you? Do you treat them as men or as pieces of rag. No matter how beautiful you are, nothing attracts a man to you like a very good spirit.

So many single ladies have given up on themselves. They now move around feeling rejected in life. Who says you cannot enjoy life as a single woman? Girl, please get up and enjoy the life God has given you. I know it is not easy. Most times you have parents push you so hard that you just want to rush into the arms of one useless man who will turn you into nothing but a punching bag.

Your friends are all getting married. So what? We all have our different times and seasons in life. It is always better waiting for your own time. Don’t allow your mother who is crying for a grandchild, even before you step into the man’s house, push into everlasting regret. If those friends can tell you the truth, they would have chosen to remain single.

Marriage is a very beautiful institution, but I must tell you, a lot of folks are in hell in the name of marriage. All you keep hearing is endure, endure. Did God say that? Marriage, according to God’s plan should be enjoyed. It should bring the best out of you. A good marriage is not in the number of cars you have.

A lot of ladies were doing so well as singles. So many of them have sent me text messages lamenting. So many of these ladies were doing so well as top bankers, pastors and lawyers. But because they made the wrong choice in marriage, they are now useless to themselves and everyone around them. Is this the kind of life you want for yourself? Never allow life push you so hard that you fail to look before you leap.

Enjoying your single life does not mean moving from one party to the other. This is where so many ladies get it wrong. I see ladies when they leave a relationship getting involved with very bad friends. So many times you do these things just to get back at the man. You appear on the pages of newspapers as a party freak. You know what? You are killing yourself. It is even worse when the woman has children and younger ones looking up to her. What are you going to tell them?

The period of singleness is a period for you to rediscover yourself. It should be a time to go to the drawing board and discover your purpose and calling in life. Please stay away from that social circle, it won’t take you anywhere. The society can only leave you with regrets at the end of your life.

I have realised that it is only when you are single you can structure your life the way you want it to be. Like I always say, singleness doesn’t mean inferiority. Make the best of your single life. It shouldn’t make you get into bad company. It shouldn’t make you become a social butterfly that is always looking for social gatherings around town.

I can feel you asking the question I have always been asked by singles during my seminars; if you don’t think I should enjoy myself as a single girl, what else will I be doing? Girl, you should get yourself busy obtaining favour from your creator while waiting for Mr. Right to show up.

It is the favour of God that will make the status of a man change for good once you get into his life. Don’t spend all your time thinking of how to attract different kinds of men. Don’t spend time chatting with friends about things that add no good to your life. Singleness is a time to get closer to your maker and obtain favour.

Use singleness as a time to acquire new skills. Some many ladies are out there praying for Mr. Right to appear. You should also train yourself to become Miss/Mrs. Right. That you are old enough for marriage doesn’t mean you are ready for marriage.

How can you tell me you are ready for marriage when all you do is wake up in the morning and move from one end of the street to another? Do you think you are ready for marriage when you cannot even respect the man in your life right now?

So many women are also single mothers. Remember what the Holy Scriptures say. Train up a child in the way he should go……….. Always remember that you are the perfect role model for your children. They don’t learn by your words, they learn more by your conduct.

Avoid the temptation of bringing different men into the house. Let your kids know you and believe in you. This is the more reason you have to be faithful in one relationship. Don’t get them more confused by your lifestyle.

In your choice of a mate, put your children into consideration. A lot of men who come into your life are not just after you, but also your daughter. You have to be very careful and choose a man who fears God and has some level of discipline. Also go for a man who can play the role of a father to your children. Make sure they love him.

I see a lot of single ladies turning themselves to whores through their manner of dressing. Being single shouldn’t make you live out of control. Why go out of your house almost naked because you feel you are not accountable to anyone. That bum-short is in vogue doesn’t mean it is right for you. You are only making yourself a very cheap girl. Dressing with almost half of your boobs falling out doesn’t make you any beautiful. This is more reason you have very irresponsible guys coming to ask your hand in marriage. No responsible man wants a whore for a wife. You are addressed the way you dress.

Singleness is a very beautiful and crucial stage of your life. Make very good use of it. Maximize your single life. Never allow anybody look down on you because you are single. Live life to the fullest. If there is no one to take you out on a date, go give yourself some good time. But remember, moderation is our watchword.