Letter from my Writer Friend

Mals N. ©2020

My dear fellow traveller in this life and writing journey, I’m sorry to hear about everything happening in your side of the world too. It’s dismal all around I fear 😦 But somewhere, I also believe this upheaval was supposed to happen. Mankind has been so complacent in its so-called progress, something big had to happen to stop us continuing down this path. For a supposed first-world nation, so many Americans don’t have the same rights as others. It breaks my heart. While being under the thumb of the pandemic, maybe this was the time to teach all those who had buried their heads in the sand that Black lives matter, or none do. I don’t know what else it will take for people to learn we are all equal.

Things haven’t been easy; more than my usual share of thoughts and angst have assaulted me these past few months. Am I doing enough? Am I contributing enough to change the world? How educated am I on the struggles of others? And then there is social media which people globally are using to project verbal diarrhea of hatred and perceived injustices, which is hard to ignore when it’s so omnipresent. Everywhere I turn and take a step, it feels like a minefield, waiting to blast me out.

There are days when I’m tempted to behave like an ostrich, keep my eyes closed and believe the world has gone dark. Cooking and writing are my two therapists and I’ve shamelessly used these crutches to stay sane and optimistic. My go-to hope has been that the world has survived worse before and healed. We have a chance, yet. I apologize for being a dismal Jimmy and wish I had something positive to say other than I am grateful for everything I have and hold. These past months have been a lesson on what is essential and what is necessary for one to live comfortably. What does it take to feel content?

Yet, people are also being kind, finding courage and fortitude in these times, going out of their way to help neighbours, the elderly, and their communities. So maybe, there is a lot of hope yet. I just have to rise above myself to see it.

Sorry for the long message!

On a more personal note, how are your loved ones coping? And how is fatherhood treating you?

Post script: You have just read a message sent to me by my beautiful, writer friend. I have published it here because of the insight and the extraordinary thoughts that it contains. Mals N. is a treasure of a friend. Her wisdom, wit and thorough understanding of the human condition are some of the things I find endearing about her. On several occasions, I have been inspired to write on certain topics because of our interactions. Mals N. is deep, even cerebral. Yet, she quickly passes the baton as though you’re better than she is. I have attempted to write about our friendship. After reading the piece again and again, I decided to put it aside for the time being. The world isn’t ready yet for Mals N. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your wisdom with the world, my dear friend .

Dele Oladipupo

Hate is a Four-letter Word

‘Dele Oladipupo ©2020

Hate is a word full of resolve. It drives a man beyond all bounds of proprietary to depths of cruelty . It may be the size of a flea when it perches on your mind, at first . With constant nurturing, it festers to become an open sore which destroys the hater more than the hated. Hate can manifest as constant opposition, pretension, back-stabbing and jealousy. It is a word, like several others in the English lexicon, having four simple letters. Although, hate may seem like an ordinary word, it is packed with the evangelistic fervor of a crusader.

Ahmaud Arbrey was a mockingbird. His blatant lynching on the 23rd of February is a grim reminder of the fact that man, regardless of his professions, is still a monster. Ahmaud was killed while on his daily run in Brunswick. His killers, Gregor and Travis McMichael, father and son, roamed free until recently when a cellphone footage showing how the young man was gruesomely murdered surfaced . It seems clear from the footage that his black skin emboldened his assailants to treat him as a cannon fodder.

Ahmaud’s killers claimed they went after him because they suspected he was a thief. They also said their intention was just to have a tete a tete with him. It is important to note that both men were armed with a .357magnum and a shotgun. When did it become standard practice to have a discussion on a lonely road with loaded guns? There was also another person behind the McMichael’s truck in a separate vehicle . This person recorded the dastardly act. He may have been too consumed with the job at hand since he did virtually nothing to stop the mild scuffle and Ahmaud’s eventual death. The footage I saw was short, but short enough to churn my stomach and strong enough to unleash a tornado in anyone’s heart.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, for every case like this that comes to the fore, there are probably fifty others hidden beneath heaps of silence, lies and collusion from white supremacists . The possibility that every young blackman in America could end up like Ahmaud is significant, even huge. That is why we must speak up. Nothing strengthens an assailant more than silence. Silence perpetuates tyranny. Silence fans the embers of hate until it becomes a raging inferno. What triggers hate apart from the obviousness of one’s skin colour? It is often difficult to tell.

When I wrote the piece ‘The Trouble with Euphemism’, I committed the egregious infraction of posting it on a writers’ group. I was hoping for feedback and, of course, constructive criticism. A white fellow whose brain is the size of an agbalumo claimed he didn’t want the other members of the group to waste their time reading the piece. So, he wrote terrible things about me. He reached his conclusions about me on the strength of a single piece of writing! He referred to me as a complete idiot, an impostor and one who couldn’t string sentences together. According to him, that piece passed as the stupidest piece of shit he ever read. I read his comments once, thanked him and promptly moved on. I had to beg my editor and one of my friends to read that piece objectively and give me their honest opinions. They laughed and told me to stop worrying needlessly . I was unconvinced. Days after, I scheduled a meeting with one of my professors. He read the piece and told me he thoroughly enjoyed the thrust of my argument. As to other fellow’s comments, he told me: ‘hate found you’.

Perhaps the only people whether black, white or red who will be immune to the power of hate are those whose sole purpose in life is to function as spectators . In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, there is a struggle between evil and innocence. Anyone who kills a mockingbird has destroyed innocence and will get a well merited comeuppance. Ahmaud’s killers do not have the last laugh. That’s certain. Let us return to Lee: ‘mocking birds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

May the sin of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers and their collaborators haunt them here and in the hereafter. Amen

N. B. Thank you for reading this piece! I look forward to reading your views in the comments box. Don’t forget to follow this blog too.

Love and light💕

What Wives Want: A Woman’s Perspective

Guest Writer: Abimbola Ola ©2020

For centuries, one of the questions that has defied the wisdom of the sages is ‘what do women want?’ A woman, like all of God’s creations, is unique. Unlike the others, she has been misunderstood, subjugated, mistreated, bullied, violated and basically relegated to the background.

A woman is a simple yet complex creature. She is a multiplier on all sides. What you give is what you get. Agreed there are a few exceptions, I would speak from my angle, which is not exhaustive but would give a glimpse of what is behind the veil called ‘woman’. I do believe all women regardless of race, colour and creed desire to love and be loved in return.

I believe the first thing to do in ensuring a healthy relationship is to understand one’s love language. Knowing this is what I refer to as a manual for a wholesome and realistic connection. Knowing men and women are wired differently was also a huge eye-opener for me. Most of the things that caused friction in the early years of my marriage were actually as a result of ignorance in realising my needs as a woman differs from that of Le Hubs. Armed with these two spicy ingredients, I have enjoyed a more stable relationship.

My love languages are acts of service, quality time and physical touch. My o my! Le Hubs of God!! Acts of service, he is trying…quality time! Hmmmm, so many misunderstandings in the early days of our marriage. He was married to his work. I felt neglected and voiced out as much. I later got to realize to him, he was working this hard to satisfy me. Hmmmm, how then do we strike a balance? We are still a work in progress in this area. This brings us to physical touch, not necessarily sex. A hug here, a peck there, a squeeze of hand in reassurance, head on shoulder or laps, a sultry look, a playful smack from behind, teases… Husband man is stiff in this regard. He’s still an F student. An instance comes to mind when we were courting. We were at the Redemption Camp, I was tired and sleepy so I put my head on his shoulder. He subtly pushed it off. I sure was livid! But, he stood his ground. He said it was improper as we were not married yet. What about now my oga? (Laughing)

I have come to the conclusion that no woman wants to be stressed irrespective of her love language. A decent man who holds true his vows irrespective of religious inclination. A responsible man who takes care of the home front, a man who loves his children and values their education as well as wellbeing, a man who loves and respects his wife, who values her opinion and puts her emotions into consideration. A man who helps around the house, or puts things in place to ease the workload on his wife. A man who is not in competition with his wife. Who desires to see her succeed and her success is not a threat to him. A man who is confident but not arrogant. A man who holds a belief and guides his home in love. A man that has initiative, who regards her family and accepts them as his own. A man who protects his wife from his family, not one who throws her to the vultures. A man who sacrifices for his family, a man whose word is his bond, a man who sees and treats her body as an altar of worship not one who treats it as an object of disdain, a man who keeps his friends in check and not allow them rule his home. A man who dresses well and makes personal hygiene a priority. These and many more varying qualities are what wives desires in their husbands.

Here’s the catch, the way the average woman is wired, do these and more, then I assure you she will be totally sold out to you. In local parlance, you have her remote control for life.

Abimbola Ola

Photo credit: Bhees Images

Thoughts on Fatherhood

‘Dele Oladipupo ©2020

The late Myles Munroe has given us, perhaps, the finest definition of a father. According to him, a father: ‘is somebody who is present, observable and worthy of emulation’. Now, kindly read that a second time. In the light of Munroe’s position, it is possible to aver that a good man may not necessarily make a good father. Anyone can claim to be a father, a real father is one who can confidently tell his children, ‘be like me’.

I was at a meeting once. The speaker, a well-groomed lawyer, classified fathers into certain categories. According to this man, there are: biological fathers, absentee fathers, financial fathers and real fathers. Biological fathers, he explained, are merely sperm donors. They impregnate a woman and then make rapid dialogues with their legs. These fathers leave a vacuum in the poor child’s life because of their crass self-centredness . Have you met any young man who makes it a point of duty to pass the buck all the time? Chances are he’ll grow to become a sperm donor in the years to come. Absentee fathers may, or may not, occupy the same space with the child. The issue is, they’re always emotionally absent. Even when the child can see him, he has built ramparts around himself and is in a world far away.

Financial fathers, on their part, meet all the financial obligations necessary to make the child’s life ‘better’. They are, however, always away from home. The child never sees him because he’s a workaholic or perhaps a socialite. The typical 21st century man falls, sadly, into this category. He’s so busy his family manages to catch his shadow racing out of the house. Munroe explains further that behavioural scientists have proven conclusively that the greatest crisis in national development is the absence of fathers in the home.

Not long ago, I got the chance to do some mental gymnastics with a wise person. The conversation veered towards parenting and she explained that there is something called ‘intentional parenting’. Parenting requires deliberateness, a firm desire to be and to do. Being intentional about fatherhood means making an effort to be a model to that child. No one sleeps and wakes up to find that he is now the president. That zenith of power and glory often takes years of strategic thinking, planning, orchestrations and deft manouevrings. Same goes for fatherhood.

One of the movers of the corporate world in Nigeria fell into a grievous error a few years ago. His three beautiful daughters were in secondary school. Whenever the school called for meetings, he was never present. He always claimed that the demands of the corporate world made it difficult for him to put in an appearance at these meetings. His daughters practically never saw him. He left home early and returned late in the night like the ghost of Willie-willie. He employed a driver who took these girls to school and back. Oga driver who had kissed the blarney stone, tried his art with the first daughter and, as it happened, she fell for his charm. After he had ravished her thoroughly, he pounced on the second. When he got tired of that one, he began to make advances at the third. This sister reported the case to the school authorities immediately. She explained how he had, in fact, taken the other two sisters for abortions. This time, the man was compelled to come for a meeting. By this time, the fire had practically reached the rafters. Wood can be mended but when ivory breaks, it is broken forever.

Real fathers are not teachers. Anyone can make pretenses at being a pedagogue. With fatherhood, however, there are no pretensions. You’re either good at it or you’re a potential destroyer of your child’s destiny. A father is the quintessential model. He is greater than a friend and his influence may be for a lifetime. With your kind permission, I’m going to add to the lawyer’s categorizations. We also have African fathers.

African fathers graduate from being African husbands. They’re immensely hardworking and nice. The problem with these men is that they find it demeaning, even insulting, to help their wives with chores around the house. Even when his wife is almost bent double with the burden of house chores, he wonders why she’s complaining. When such men become fathers, they can’t stand the cry of their own child and never learn to carry the child properly or even do the diaper. This piece is getting too long, dear Reader. Let’s bring it to a close.

Fathers , regardless of where they fall need to have a re-think about their actions and inactions. Why bring a child to the world just because you have an erection or because you’re fascinated by a lady’s well-formed backside? In the not too distant past, our fathers ate from the same plate with their children. Those who don’t never failed to share a piece meat or fish with their children. Those fathers listened patiently to their children without judging them. They helped their children with difficult tasks and lived as worthy models. Those are our models too. All fathers, in the words of Ofeimun ‘must learn again to fly.’

Of Morning Cries and Hell-Fire

‘Dele Oladipupo ©2019

Anyone who has lived in Nigeria, especially the South West, knows what morning cry is. For those who don’t, well, it’s a form of evangelism where Christians go from street to street to preach. It is often done, around 5-8am. It is targeted at those who are rushing off to work or those who are roused from somnolence by the homily of a man or woman whose God wants to throw you to hell at the slightest provocation.

Because of those adept at reading a piece upside down, let me state that I am unapologetically a Christian. So, don’t reach a conclusion after reading two sentences that an anti-Christ wrote this. I believe that everything must be interrogated. Sometimes, maybe we should even interrogate the appropriateness of the names we bear. This piece is one such interrogations. Are morning cries effective? I believe we all know the answer. We just don’t admit that we do.

9 out of 10 morning criers don’t preach, they threaten. If the gospel means ‘good news’, I wonder what is good about waking up to the realization that God is a boring old man who can’t wait for you to commit a blunder before He flings you into Hell. There is nothing alluring in that kind of message. The Master Himself never threatened anyone. He spoke authoritatively and demonstrated He is worth following on the strength of the miracles He performed and the assurance of a splendid hereafter. The primary reason for preaching, anyway, is to bring people to the knowledge of Christ. You think morning cries achieve this? I doubt it does. For many, the emotion it stirs up is anger.

Let us even use Lagos as a case in point. There is palpable anger at every turn. We waste productive hours in traffic. You don’t ever know the cause of the logjam. From where you’re seated ,cramped at the back of a rickety bus threatening to fall apart any minute, you notice a long row of cars which looked like a headless snake. By the time you get back home, your street is dark and with each footstep you stagger like an inebriated idiot.

While you’re making dinner and trying to talk to somebody on the phone, your voice is drowned by the din of your neighbour’s power generator and the person at the other end keeps asking: ‘ what did you say, bro?’ Even after taking a shower, you’re still uncomfortable. For the umpteenth time, you pray for power to be restored but your prayers don’t get to the pearly gates because God sees Nigeria as a land of annoying contradictions. All through the night, your palm becomes an improvised fan. You toss, turn, hiss, swear, curse. Then, repeat. Just when you think it’s all over and you’re mentally prepping yourself to get off the bed, somebody stands at the back of your window preaching. He threatens you with perdition, damnation, fire and brimstone. Given that background, it’s unlikely you’ll listen to the preacher or his God.

Here’s an hypothetical instance. So, somebody stands at the back of your window around 5am with a megaphone ‘crying’. He punctuates his words with ‘Jesus loves you’. He reminds you that He is the burden bearer and that no matter how great your sins are, it’ll sadden Him to see you end up in Hell. He tells you the only solution to all our gargantuan problems is the kingdom of God. The man goes on and on and even gives a few practical examples of how God came through for him when the rubber met the road. I’m inclined to believe you’ll love to have a relationship with that God or even give Him a try.

God is not malicious. Just ask Einstein. And that’s where those preachers have failed monumentally. What sort of a father waits eagerly for his children to err so he may pummel them? God is definitely not like that. Someone who has taken the pains to number the strands of hair on your head definitely loves you beyond the bounds of human wisdom. Of course, one shouldn’t rebuff that kind of love.

So, what’s the way to go? The dispensation of morning cries may have gone. This is era of information and technological advancements. The gospel must leverage on these. There are simpler, faster and less controversial ways of spreading the gospel now. Talking to people one or one is also not a bad idea too! In this way, anyone who isn’t interested will be left alone. In the end, it is pertinent to remember, that souls are not won by the intensity of our evangelistic fervour, but by the abounding grace of God, the Father. In John 6:44, Jesus said, ‘no one can come to me, except the Father draws him.’

The Burden of Friendship

‘Dele Oladipupo ©2019

During the undergraduate years of my life, I learnt a lesson I’m certain I won’t forget till I die. My very good friend,let’s call her Y, was one of the smartest persons in my class. We sat beside each other during lectures, read together in the library, swapped textbooks and walked about the university campus like two love birds. On several occasions, students from other departments would stop either of us to enquire about ‘your boyfriend’ or ‘your girlfriend’. Of course, we never dated. The chemistry ( if one could call it that) utterly confused them.

One day, some of the ladies in her hostel, walked up to me. ‘Your friend has not been sleeping in the room again o. She spends the night at her boyfriend’s off campus’, one began. ‘You better talk to her. This is our final year . Anything fit hapun to her CGPA o, another girl interjected.’ In those days, we had only one passion: to push our CGPAs ‘beyond the utmost bound of human thought’. So, I decided to talk to my dear friend.

Eventually, the moment of truth came. Y and I had been in the library all morning. Around 1pm of so, we decided to take a break. As we strolled to the canteen, I decided it was time to broach the conundrum. As it’s customary with people who lack the confidence to deal with particularly knotty issues, I started out by rambling. When I eventually, broke the back of the problem, I made sure I issued a caveat that I was only concerned because I didn’t want her to sully her chances of ending the semester with a stellar performance. I had barely finished talking when my friend stopped. She stood in front of me, her eyes shooting darts of fire. ‘Dele’, she began, pulling her ear and wagging her finger in my face for effect. ‘I know that we’re good friends but that doesn’t give you the right to meddle in everything that concerns me. I don’t like it!’ With that, she turned and stomped away.

It was a sunny day but I felt as though someone had poured a bucket of cold water all over me. The water landed on my skin and sent bubbles up like the innocent prayer of a child. I stood transfixed for several seconds. Of course, the hunger pangs died. I retraced my steps to the library to pack my books. The day had ended. From that singular experience, I have learnt that the greatest cog in the wheel of true friendship is disrespect for boundaries. Friendship and prying are two ends of a single pole. Sometimes, we assume one is the other. If your opinion isn’t sought on a certain matter, you’re probably meddling. You can’t go about dishing out unsolicited advice like fresh minted naira notes. Anyone who has a habit of doing that has merely fallen in love with the sound of his own voice and not the spark of his genius. If you’re worried that things are likely to go awry, why don’t you structure your opinion like a suggestion?

Friendship requires a lot of work and there are many things we all must do to foster camaraderie. We all know them, don’t we? Well, be kind, keep your promises, be vulnerable, disagree ( if you don’t , maybe you’re a hypocrite), apologise, be loyal, go the extra mile, be honest (don’t be blunt) be an inspiration. One could go on and on. At the base of it all, is self respect. Don’t sacrifice that on the altar of friendship. When the rubber meets the road, that may be all that you’ll have left. Once in a while, you’ll meet folks who can’t take a word of criticism. They have conveniently forgotten that even the teeth leaves the tongue bloodied once in a while. With folks like that, just echo ‘you’re correct’ to all their remonstrances and the brickbats they hurl at you.

So, dear Reader, we must be careful not to push our views down anyone’s throat. It is – in fact- instructive to remember that there is always a chance, even if infinitesimal, that the advisor himself is wrong. Friendship is more like salt than sugar. Salt, when consumed in excess, may result in dire consequences. Only few things can measure up to having friends in whom one has found a kindred spirit. Do you remember that fascinating story in the Bible about the invalid whose friends broke the roof just so he could be healed by Jesus? ‘May we have and be friends like that’.

Thoughts on Feminism

‘Dele Oladipupo ©2019

It goes without saying, feminism means several things to several people. If you’re in any doubt about this, just take a quick stroll down Twitter Street. The postulations and submissions on that axis about feminism range from the truly astonishing to the downright idiotic. There are also those who have acquired the dog’s facility for throwing up and then returning to its vomit. They say one thing today and something else next week. Many of our ladies are feminists by virtue of labelling. They assume – erroneously too- that feminism equals the hatred of everything masculine, perhaps with the possible exception of the phallus.

For the avoidance of doubt, making catty remarks about men isn’t feminism.The terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are social constructs. What qualifies one to be called a man varies from culture to culture. One of the most strident voices of the feminist movement, Simeone Beavouir submits that, ‘we are born female but we become women’. What is feminism then? We must turn to our very own Molara Ogundipe. She explains that: ‘feminism is a body of social philosophy that advocates and actively seeks the liberation and humanization of women in society’. From this definition, it is possible to aver that feminism has absolutely nothing to do with the hatred of men. It seems, in fact, that men ought to be more actively involved in the struggle than women. Hence, you don’t have to be female to be a feminist. With all the brick bats thrown at men lately, I doubt if any man will be willing to flaunt the label.

Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that once something is foreign, it must be superior. The African woman and the Euro- American woman are products of different experiences and both have evolved differently. In the west, women have often been denigrated and portrayed as the ‘weaker vessels’. Menstruation was seen as ‘unholy’ and as a result women were often barred from religious places of worship. The Yorubas often pray at the beginning of every year: odun a yabo. May the year be female. The reason why they pray this way is simple. The female is a symbol of softness, fertility and ease. No one ever prays for the year to be male. That would be tantamount to wishing hardness and suffering upon oneself. In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), Okonkwo runs to his mother’s village after he had committed an abomination. His punishment was somewhat watered down because he had committed the feminine variant. That’s why among the Ibos, it is customary to name a child Nneka, meaning ‘mother is supreme’.

On several occasions, in the past, women have had to step in to stem the tide of anomie in the society. Aba Women’s rebellion of 1929 is a case in point. History is also replete with instances where women took to the streets to show their displeasure in respect of certain obnoxious laws. Regrettably, their panties have now become tinder for igniting the fire of quick wealth for some Nigerian men . Toyin Falola submits that: ‘ in the precolonial period, women played a major role in social and economic activities.’ In many African communities, menstruation is sacred and powerful. It had the potency of interfering with mojo too.

If Euro- American women have always functioned from a point of weakness, African women used to occupy a pride of place. The question is where did the rain start to beat African women? Probably from the advent of colonialism and religion . If African women and their ilks in other parts of the world are not fighting the same battle, why be encumbered by the same nomenclature? According to those who should know, womanism is a better term. It is a softer version of feminism. It espouses complemantarity of the sexes instead of a perpetual struggle against the men. How best can one explain this? The Yorubas often say that your hands become thoroughly clean when you wash the right with the left and vice versa. Our society is already backward, why worsen the situation with needless infighting?

Somebody should please tell those girls who shout ‘down with the patriachy’ in the daytime but are ardent worshippers of penises at night to shut up! I’m thoroughly fascinated by Molara Ogundipe’s genius. She said, and rightly so, that men will listen humbly to their mothers and sisters but have a different attitude towards their wives. So, what’s the way to go? If you can get a man to see you both as his wife and his mother, you have him in your quiver. Why? Now you may shoot at will. There is no point kidding ourselves, theories and postulations often give rise to further reactionary theories and submissions. Why can’t we just live in peace so that those who desire to worship a penis may do so without having to speak from both sides of their mouths. How about the adorers of the vagina? Perhaps they’ll build a V- shaped temple where they may go in and out at will spurting joy from the milky fountain on their heads.