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Fly Through Your Clouds.

I have always admired people who seem to have unending reserves of energy and drive. They seem to have an internal motivation switch which is permanently set to the ‘on’ position.

 

‘How do they do this?’ I often asked myself.

 
I have now realized that the moment I stop expecting my walk through this world to be like everyone else’s would be the beginning of my own enlightenment.

 
I recently made a return journey from Abuja to Lagos by air.

 

I spent my in-flight time studying the clouds in the sky.
Can I stop here briefly to mention how much I love clouds?

 
Clouds are awesome. They are like magical pillows in the sky.

 
Anyway, during each flight, I observed how we flew above the clouds at cruising altitude, where there was hardly any bump in the journey.

 
However, to get to our destination, we had to begin our descent by passing through the clouds.

 
The clouds which had looked fluffy and harmless from a distance became a source of turbulence, and the fasten seatbelt signs were switched on so that we could brace ourselves for the discomfort that comes with your plane bouncing up and down in the sky.

 
Each time we landed, I understood what I had heard several times before: that your success at any task has to be deliberate, and that when you know where your destination is, you will face all obstacles which come your way with unwavering determination.

 
The results may vary, but generally, success is deliberate.

 
What happens, however, when the destination appears unknown? How can success be achieved when you do not even know how to define the success?

 
Nigeria is celebrating 56 years of independence today. I am a Nigerian, so my default setting when I hear that Independence Day is around the corner is ‘yassssss a public holiday-no work!!!’.

 
However, as I type this post on my iPad in artificial darkness due to yet another power cut, I wonder what parameters the President would use to define Nigeria’s success.

 
As a political scientist, I could lead a discussion about this issue with the requisite tedious terminology thrown in for good measure. The discussion would ultimately lead to shrugged shoulders and unanswered questions.

 
As a weary but hopeful Nigerian, I will just have to define my own success, and create my own kind of motivation-prayers, meditation, mental kicks-to power through and achieve my goals.

 
Maybe my success will also be a success for Nigeria.

 
I don’t know.

 
I have my own journey ahead of me.

 
I have my own clouds to think about.

 
Happy Independence Day, Nigeria πŸ‡³πŸ‡¬

 

Β©Ivie M. Eke 2016.

High Heels And Low Expectations: The Lingering Frustrations Of Being A Nigerian Woman.

Hey everyone!

I hope you’re having a great weekend so far. I have a new article on the Genevieve Magazine Nigeria website;Β you can read it here!

Please don’t forget to leave your comments and share it with your followers on social media.

Happy reading!

Ivie.

Covert Allies: A Tale of Nigeria’s Secret Feminists.

SLA logo

photo: sheleadsafrica.org

Hey Everyone!

An article of mine was published today by http://www.sheleadsafrica.org, and I’m very excited about it!

She Leads Africa is ‘a community that helps young African women achieve their professional dreams’.

Please read the article here: Covert Allies: A Tale of Nigeria’s Secret Feminists.

I hope you enjoy reading it; kindly share with your friends and followers on social media. Thank you.

Ivie.

Education: WAEC, JAMB and all that jazz-Part 2.

Read part 1 here!
The lop-sidedness of my grades continued when I (finally) got admission into the university (thank you JAMB!). I didn’t like the course I was given admission for (Political Science and Education) and spent the first two years trying to change course to something that seemed more sensible to me at the time (Sociology). My grades for these years were also average. I finally gave up on changing my course and decided to just focus on my studies by the end of my second year. My results for my 3rd and 4th year of studies were exceptional; I put in the effort, and I made good grades. I was thrilled. 

My joy was however short-lived: the incompetence of my faculty and department in compiling the final results was astounding. Stories of ‘missing grades’ emerged. I was given grades for courses I had not taken. My result for a 4-year course was for reasons best known to the department was divided by 5 years. The extra year in question was as a result of numerous strike actions by lecturers, which we students had no control over. This dodgy result was approved by the Head of Department and all relevant approving authorities.

Now, how do these events and experiences shape a graduate’s mindset in Nigeria? The message seems to be ‘work hard, but know that the system will fail you’. All this, after spending years as an undergraduate enduring lecherous lecturers, lecturers who extorted money from you, and others who were just terrible at teaching.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study for a postgraduate degree a few years later in England. My favourite place in the school was the library. Sometimes I would wonder through rows of shelves in the library just marveling at the quantity of books. You could reserve books if there were not immediately available. I was in student book heaven.

And the Lecturers. They were polite and guileless, only seeking to impart knowledge. You could see them in their offices or email them if you had questions. I called Professors by their first names. My dissertation supervisor calmly guided me in the right direction when my first draft of work was clearly not up to scratch. I was treated with more respect and dignity by lecturers in one year of study in England than I was in the 5 years I spent as an undergraduate in a Nigerian university.

What is the value of education if you graduate from university feeling bitter and disgruntled, expecting that your hard work will not matter, seeing that your peers who ‘know the right people ‘ will excel over you, and that the system seems to exist only to frustrate you, rather than to make your journey into the world smoother? 

Such experiences could either leave one dejected and without hope, or more determined to succeed in achieving one’s goals.
I choose the latter.

Being Nigerian: 3 Random Thoughts.

 

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Map of Nigeria. Photo: wikepedia.com

  1. Poor Customer Service (bank edition).

Let me set the scene for you. You walk into a bank and make a beeline for the Customer Services desk. You meet a lady seated there; she is typing and staring at the screen of her computer. ‘Good Morning’, you say. ‘Good Morning’, she replies; her eyes never leave her computer’s screen. ‘I have been unable to carry out transactions using my online account…’ you start to say, when she cuts you off. ‘Our systems are down; you will have to come back at another time’, the lady says. She continues typing. You wait for a moment, contemplating what to do next.

‘I would like to speak to your Manager’, you say to her. She stops typing and finally rewards you by looking up from her screen. You have her attention now. ‘The Manager?’ she asks. ‘Yes’, you say in an unnecessarily loud voice; ‘I would like to close my account. It is of no use to me if I can not carry out transactions on the go. Please get me the Manager now’, you add, raising your voice a little more to add some drama to the situation. The lady gets up silently and goes into an inner office, and comes back with another lady, who is charm personified.

The lady introduces herself as the Branch Manager, and she proceeds to sweet-talk you and she leads you into an inner office which is very cool with air-conditioning. She even offers you some snacks. After a while, the hitch with your online account is resolved. You leave the bank. You didn’t really want to close your account, but you knew that throwing a tantrum was the only way that you would be attended to properly in that scenario.

It doesn’t take much to deliver good customer service; simply look interested in what a customer/client/visitor is saying to you, and make efforts to solve their problems in a pleasant manner. Those actions would be satisfactory.

 

2. 24 Hours with Power/Electricity/’Light’.

Here’s another scenario. You are a Nigerian. You are at home somewhere in Nigeria on a Saturday, watching television. You check the time. It is 11am. You enjoy your TV show. Time passes. You start to feel uncomfortable. You check your time again. It is now 1.30pm. There is still power/electricity/’light’. You start to fidget. You get up and walk to your bedroom. You iron the clothes you would like to wear to work for the next two weeks. You look at your watch. It is now 2.30pm.

You go into the kitchen, switch on the microwave, and heat up some left-over rice and stew from the previous day. You have your lunch. The time is now 3.30pm. You plug in all your appliances to make sure that they are fully charged.

You walk around the house, feeling restless but not sure why you feel that way. Your heart it beating slightly faster than normal. Then, at about 5pm, just as you sit down to watch a movie which you have been waiting for all day, the power goes off.

‘Oh no wonder!’, you muse. ‘There’s been ‘light’ for most of today-no wonder I felt so uncomfortable!’. You laugh, shake your head and go outside to switch on the generator.

A phrase I associate with my childhood is ‘where are the candles?’. It was a given-at some point during the day, the power would go off (or, to put it in the Nigerian way, ‘NEPA would take the light’). That was in the eighties. This is 2016, and I am still filled with childish delight when a whole day goes by and there is to power outage.

Recently, the ‘light’ goes at the point of me putting on my makeup in the mornings ; thankfully I have been able to salvage such situations and have yet to turn up at work looking like a well-dressed clown.

Constant electricity is a luxury, and it really shouldn’t be.

3. The Nigerian Sense of Humour.

I love the fact that Nigeria, it seems, is basically made up of aspiring stand-up comedians roaming the streets of the country.

Seriously.

Everything is potentially hilarious.

Fuel Scarcity.

Corrupt politicians.

Poor infrastructure.

Unemployment.

Boko Haram.

Tribalism.

Religious intolerance.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, go through Instagram and search for photos with the tag ‘nigeriafunny’-it is basically a portfolio of Memes dedicated to the joys or traumas associated with being a Nigerian. For instance, during one of the many bouts of fuel scarcity we experienced recently, a picture started circulating on Nigerian social media of a guy proposing to a lady with a 50litre keg of fuel. I could list more examples but they are just too many to name.

What I would like to know is this: is our humour triggered by our current dilemmas, or is our humour inbuilt-would it still exist if we didn’t go through so many challenges?

Does Nigeria frustrate me? Yes.

Would I give up being Nigerian for a pile of gold? No.

(Wait-how much gold are we talking about???).

(I’m kidding).

England, my on-again, off-again boyfriend vs Nigeria, my long-term relationship.

There you are, England!

 

London, England.

 

My sweetheart who I see from time to time.

Why I love you:

-Great customer service, great customer service and great customer service.

-Did I mention great customer service?

-Shopping here is an experience for me, not a chore.

-Freedom of sorts; you can be a version of yourself you’ve dreamed about; someone who bundles up in a jacket and wears wool gloves before leaving the house. Someone who stops to buy a cup of hot chocolate on the way to work. Someone who takes the bus, or the train, or even just walks to work if distance and the weather permits.

-Good internet connectivity that is taken for granted.

-Political satire on tv which makes me happy: ‘Have I got news for you’ and ‘Mock the week’.

 

Why I can’t commit to England:

-The weather-why so cold, England?

-People talking about the weather all.the.time.

-People complaining about politics all.the.time.

-Watery milk-why so watery, England?

-Don’t have a lot of family and friends here.

 

Hey, Nigeria!

Abuja, Nigeria.

 

Ah, my reluctant, often tedious long-term relationship. What can I say?Β You have your good parts:

-Being the country of my birth.

-Food that is tasty and has pepper in it.

-Family and friends who want the best for you.

-Opportunities that exist if one squints very hard.

 

Why I don’t always take you seriously:

-Constant power failure

-Dodgy internet connectivity

-Dodgy customer service

-Dodgy politics

 

So what do I do?

Make an honest man out of England and commit to him while drinking tea with watery milk?

Or grin and bear it with Nigeria while secretly rolling my eyes at the institutionalized dodginess?

 

Decisions, decisions.

They Must Be In A Secret Cult.

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photo: weheartit.com

I have given this a lot of thought. It would be a good justification for their actions. The world would have meaning again.

Majority of service providers in Nigeria must be in a secret cult.

To prove their worthiness and loyalty, they must apparently do the following:

1. They must provide extremely poor services to Nigerians.

2. They must charge ridiculously high prices for the privilege of using their services.

3. They must be as rude and unhelpful as possible to a customer making enquiries.

The poorer the level of services provided and the more frustrated Nigerians get, the higher their progression up the cult’s hierarchy.

Only when they have done all these things can they show that they are loyal to the cult (which is probably called Mediocrity-Anonymous).

It all makes sense now.

Destination: Stress.

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The loud drone of generators-there’s been yet another power failure.

Thank you NEPA, we can always count on you, for darkness and stress in equal measure.

 

The long queues at Petrol Stations, there’s yet another round of fuel scarcity.

Who do we blame, the petroleum marketers, or our good old NNPC?

 

The poor internet and network connections, all our money gone to waste.

Calling customer support will drain you of energy, after having so long to wait.

 

The unprofessional staff you meet at offices, who attend to you with such disdain.

They make you forget why you went over there, and you leave there feeling barely sane.

 

All these and more make one feel so frustrated, and want to jump ship to another place.

But for now, we’re still here and we must play our part,

So that inefficiency will not win the race.

 

Β©Ivie M. Eke 2015

photo: weheartit.com

Efficiency And Witchcraft.

I recently needed information about the process for protecting literary work in Nigeria. I looked up the information on the Nigerian Copyright Commission’s website. The information was clear. The process itself was straightforward.

I didn’t know what to do with myself.

When your default setting is to ‘expect rubbish’, efficiency catches you unawares. It’s refreshing.

However…

MTN…

Dearest MTN…

I am not a night-time witch. I cannot keep waking up between 3am-5am daily, since that is the period of time I am certain that the quality of your service would be manageable. Majority of us use your services during the day; please improve the quality of your services accordingly. Thank you.

Even day-time witches are not happy with your services.

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Night-time witch (I think).

photo: genius.com

Day 20. #nablopomo

Darkness Is Normal.

Darkness. photo: weheartit.com

Darkness. photo: weheartit.com

Organized societies: ‘Oh my gawwwddd, there’s been a power cut!’ *panic* *screams*
Naija: ‘NEPA has taken the light’ *shrug* *yawn*

I’m vaguely concerned about how unaffected and desensitized I am to power cuts/power failures/stolen ‘light’. I just shrug, switch off appliances and go outside to turn on the generator. I have even perfected the art of walking gingerly in pitch darkness in order to locate my phone or a lamp without hitting my foot on a stool or any other kind of obstacle. Hitting your foot is for amateurs. I’m a pro, a pro at walking around in darkness😎

Darkness is normal.

Inefficiency is normal.

I don’t want it to be normal.


Darkness is real.
May the lives of those lost as a result of violence not be in vain.

May the families and friends of the victims find strength to bear the pain.

May those who perpetuate evil and violence face justice that they can not explain.

May this world get to a point of awareness, that in violence, there is no gain.

Β©Ivie M. Eke 2015

Day 14. #nablopomo