Monday, December 31, 2007

End of 2007

Happy New Year in advance to all the bloggers and readers out there! I hope you had a lovely time at Christmas and you are looking forward to a lot of good things in 2008. It’s my last post in 2007 and I pray that the New Year will be a year of peace, joy and fulfilment for us all. Amen.
I had been unable to blog for a long while because I've been so busy running up and down. And then I came down with a bout of malaria the week before Christmas. It was horrible being ill during that week because I missed out on so many fun events happening around me including a wedding of two of my very good friends.

I had planned to write a completely different post, but in a moment of reflection this morning, I started thinking about the past year. So 2007 has drawn to a close, it proves again how quickly time flies. This year I had many ups and down moments in many aspects of my life. There were times when I felt so close to God and I could feel His love surrounding me on every side. And then there were times that I felt that God was very far away or He was ignoring me. I had times of happiness, hope and peace, and there were also times of utter despair and discouragement. But through it all, God remains faithful. And it is during the frustrating and difficult times that I have grown, and moved up to a higher level in my faith and journey with God.

Still, I have many things to be thankful to God for in 2007. I’m thankful for life, health, my mum’s life, my wonderful hubby, my new career, my family and in-laws, my friends, my experiences and my many answered prayers.

At the beginning of the year I had plans of how I wanted things to turn out but some things have turned out very differently. In some aspects, the course of my life has changed completely. In many ways, I have grown and I’m grateful for that. I feel like I’m in my purpose now and I can move forward confidently, knowing that I’m going in the right direction.

I’m sure that most people have goals, ambitions, aspirations and targets for 2008. I have mine too, some in my spiritual life, some in my career, some in my personal life. I’m realising though that some things are up to me, while some others are totally out of my control. But I’m promising myself that I will do all that I can to achieve the goals I want, and leave the ones I can’t control to God.

Okay enough of my sober reflections; I hope you are all having fun during this festive season. In Nigeria, it is full-on wedding season. I’ve lost count of the number of invitations I’ve received in the last two months, as in they are just too many. Last week, a friend of mine had six weddings in one day and she had to attend all of them. There are several other events happening too, my friends have been dragging me to high school reunions, engagements, house warming parties, cinema trips, concerts etc. I’ve been having a great time though so I’m not complaining. I went for the Sound City Blast Party just before Christmas and I enjoyed myself so much. There is talk of a blogger party happening early in the new year too. I’ll try to attend that because I want to meet some of my favourite bloggers.

I'm still trying to decide if I should go for a watch-night service tonight to usher in the new year, or I should just have a long conversation with God in my room. (It's funny, recently the way I approach prayer changed: it's not a religious ceremony, it's more like a conversation going on in my mind with my Father. It's fun, you should try it!). Whatever you decide to do, I hope you step into 2008 in peace and joy. I know it's going to be a great year!!

Happy Year 2008!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Only in Nigeria

I think I've given up asking some questions. Every time I make an observation, I get funny looks from the people around me. Like the day I was in traffic and I asked "Don't people know the roundabout rule?" or when I asked "How come the roads don't have pavements?". So I have decided to stop asking. It doesn't mean I have stopped observing though, it just means I am making a mental note in my head to jot down later.

I'm currently reading Teju Cole's book, "Everyday Is for the Thief" and it rang so true, almost as if I wrote it myself. His descriptions are so vivid and the observations about life in Lagos are on point. I guess some things may not be so obvious to someone who lives in this wonderful city, but to outsider eyes, there are many things that immediately strike you as odd or interesting. If you haven't read it, I would encourage you to do so.

Well apart from that, I'm enjoying Lagos with it's many ups and downs. I feel like I have to "re-learn" my culture. Which is something I find really strange. While living in England, I felt like I was trying so hard to hold on to everything that made me a Nigerian. But now that I'm back in Nigeria, I feel somewhat like an outsider. And I haven't even been away for that long! I can imagine that there are other people like me who feel that way, who have been outside the country for much longer. Do you experience a culture shock when you went back home after a few years? I don't even know whether that's a good or bad thing.

I think a lot of people who migrate don't know or expect the full extent of changes they will go through in a foreign country. You know you experience a different climate, different food and so on. But you don't really expect the changes that happen within you. How you start seeing things differently. How you start adopting the view and cultures of your new surroundings. And then suddenly when you visit your home country you feel like you are seeing things for the first time.

Well I would end my little moment of "deep thinking" here. Just until I come back online. Stay blessed and favoured!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nigerian Police, Other Stuff

I’m still blogging from the Motherland and I’ve got things to say. So much has happened since my last post. I wish I was carrying a video recorder around, so that I could have a video diary of my experiences daily. It would be interesting to watch it over and over again.

I've been stocking up and reading lots of books by contemporary Nigerian writers. I went into a bookshop the other day and I was really pleased to see a huge shelf dedicated solely to Nigerian authors, mostly newly published ones. I bought seven books and I've already read three books and I'm on the fourth one. Seems like I can't get enough of them. And it's good because they really do inspire me. I've got my eye on a few more and I hope I can get them before I leave. Speaking of writing, I've come to respect people who do creative work in Nigeria. I appreciate that it is not easy for any profession, but it is especially hard for anyone to stick to a career in Writing, Music or Arts. In the pressure to survive by all means, the first thing that goes out of the window is creativity and desire to follow your passion. What if that passion does not guarantee a regular income like other jobs? Best thing is to bury that talent and look for something else to do. So great kudos to those people who are sticking with their passion, irrespective of the economic situation of the country.

Nigerian Police
Last week, I was thinking: it's been great to be in Nigeria for seven weeks without encountering police trouble. Seems like I spoke too soon, because the very next day, we got stopped by the rogues wearing police uniform. My aunt and I had gone out with the driver and we were returning home when we were stopped by four policemen at a check point. I asked them what was wrong and they said we had passed a one-way street. A one-way street! Several other cars were going before us and after us, but they didn’t disturb those ones, they decided to disturb us. They asked us to park and they started asking us questions: Did we not know this was a one-way street? No we didn’t. Did we not see the sign? Which sign? Where? Are we aware of the punishment for breaking traffic laws in Lagos State? No we are not.

With great glee, one of them explained to us: “For breaking the law, we will take you to the police station where we will give you a fine of 25,000 naira, we will impound the car, and we will require the driver to take a mental health test. He will have to bring the test results to us and confirm that he is fine before we release him. After that, we will wait six months, and you would have to pay another 15,000 naira before the car will be released to us.”

I could not believe what I was hearing. My aunt was trying to explain that we really did not know the street was now a one-way, when one of the policemen pulled open the passenger side of the car and jumped in. Then he said he would pardon our offence and let us go free if we give him and his colleagues 15,000 naira!! In essence he was saying, give us a 15,000 bribe here and now and we’ll let you go, or follow us to the station and face the penalty. Well I wasn’t about to give anybody 15,000 naira for nothing. My aunt started begging the policemen while I sat in the car fuming. We were in this deadlock for almost thirty minutes, the policemen issuing threats and my aunt trying to plead with them. ? Eventually my aunt had to pay them off with a third of the amount they asked for, so that they could release us to go on our way. I was so angry and sad. What kind of society do we live in when people who are supposed to be the ones upholding the law are the thieves and extortionists, harassing decent citizens? What will it take for the Nigerian police force to do their job and stop abusing their powers? Is this how corrupt our society is? God help us.

Mum’s Progress
On to other stuff. My mum is back home now, she came back early last week. I’m really glad with the progress she has made. I went with her for her medical check-up when she arrived and her doctor said she is recovering well. She just needs to practice some gentle exercises and have lots of rest and soon, she’ll be as good as new. I’m still keeping an eye on her though, so that she doesn’t stress herself unnecessarily. It is a tough environment to survive in.

The Experience
I attended the Experience concert yesterday and it was a real experience. My friends and I decided to get there early so as to get a good space, but by the time we got there, it was so crowded! It was a struggle getting into the main arena itself and then it was a scramble to get chairs to sit on. But it was all worth it in the end. We enjoyed the music and the acts that came to perform all night. I particularly loved Don Moen, Cece Winans, Tye Tribett, Mike Aremu and Bishop TD Jakes. There were three other acts I don’t remember, probably because I had to sit down at some point to catch my breath! I met a few old friends there, some I could only wave to amongst the crowd, and some I could actually get close to, close enough to chat briefly. We were there from 7pm till about 5am. I had fun although I was really grateful when I got to my bed this morning!

Let me round up my ramblings at this point. I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Hope to be able to blog again soon!
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