Friday, April 30, 2010

Bald Head and My Birthday

I think I'm going to shave off all my hair and rock a bald head for a while - like Nnena here.

I've been toying with the idea since last month and I've been 50-50 about it, but after today, I'm more like 90-10 in favour of shaving my hair off. All the stress, required care and work necessary to maintain long, healthy black hair is getting too much. Maybe I'm lazy, but I would rather take convenience over stress any day. I mean, I've practically stopped doing any physical shopping since I could buy things online. You name it, clothes, books, shoes, gifts, gadgets, even my weekly grocery shopping, I get them delivered to my doorstep. The last time I had to go shopping with a friend, I got bored and impatient after twenty minutes. Life is too short - I could be doing better things with my time, instead of trawling the shops, bumping into people who just stop walking randomly, loaded with heavy bags, dealing with long queues at the tills and over-helpful staff in the changing rooms.

Anyway so what brought this on? This morning, I went to the salon to have my hair put in short, kinky twists, my favourite hairstyle. By the time I left the salon, I was tired, poorer, and grumpy with a sore neck. I'm sure my blood pressure would have gone up a notch or two as well. First of all, the stylist was trying to convince me to have a weave instead. I was like "What? Are you the one that will dictate the style I want to do?". To cut a long story short, we started the hair. We hadn't gone far when we had another row because she tried to run a blazing hot blow-dryer through my hair. Then she stopped my hair halfway and started someone else's. When I had enough I got up and was about to leave, when the manager pleaded with me to be patient. Let's just say it wasn't a pleasant experience and I was so fed-up by the time they finally finished my hair, that I never want to do it again. Well, not for a year or two anyway.

Okay, rant over. On to more beautiful gist:

It's the Bank Holiday weekend! And it's my birthday! Yep, that's right - I'm going to be a year older by the time I come back to update this blog. Usually I try to do something to celebrate, but this year I haven't made any plans. We tried to get tickets to see a show in the West End, but we left it too late, and all the good ones were sold out! So I guess it will be a quiet one at home. Hubby is even threatening to use the extra day off to study so I may just sleep through the day. lol

However, if anyone wants to throw me a surprise party or send me presents or buy me a birthday cake, then I won't say no. You will be more than welcome!

Have a great weekend blogville!

PS: Before you go, check out our latest installment on the series blog HERE

And check out my poem, published on Femme Lounge HERE


Monday, April 19, 2010

Social Issues: Domestic Staff

If you follow TTEC on Solomosydelle's blog, you may have come across some of the recent posts on "Househelps and Sexual Abuse" which have been featured lately. I found those posts quite worrying, and they got me thinking about the way the vast majority of middle and upper class Nigerians treat their domestic staff - people like housemaids, gatemen,/security men, drivers, gardeners and so on. The other day, I was discussing the issue with some friends and we all agreed that, in general, they were treated in an appalling way.

From what I've observed, they are treated like second-class citizens in the homes where they work. They often don't share the same living quarters with the rest of the family. Or they are given the worst spaces possible. They use a different set of utensils to eat, for some reason. They are given cast-offs of the children's clothes to wear.

Then they are spoken to in awful ways. Sometimes I would visit a friend and she would be speaking with me nicely and politely, and then turn around to use a harsh and intimidating tone on her housemaid, and call her abusive names. I don't understand it. Sure you can use a stern tone when you are giving instructions to an employee but is there a need for the constant stream of abuse? Would any of us take that kind of attitude from our managers at the office?

Which brings me to my next point. Domestic staff have little or no employment rights. They don't have regular working hours, due to the nature of their work. But then they also don't have any benefits. They don't have holidays, they don't get days off, they don't have anything called a social life. They don't get sick days off or sick pay. Sometimes they don't go to school and can't learn any skill while they are working for their masters. I'm sure none of us professional ladies would ever imagine working for a company that didn't give us any time off or holidays, or allow us any social life. We would protest, but we give the same treatment to our own employees. I have even heard women complaining bitterly when it's Christmas time, and their maid wants to take a couple of weeks off to go and visit her family. It's like, she's not human right? She doesn't need time off to go and see her family. Never mind that madam has taken time off from her own job so that she can enjoy her own Christmas holiday.

Furthermore, the physical violence towards them is just... I don't know. Women who won't raise a hand to strike their own children seem to see no qualms in beating their maids to a pulp at the slightest offence. For some reason, the maid always deserves a beating whenever she makes a mistakes, whereas their children do worse things, but they don't get beaten. Why? What makes it different? Would any of us tolerate physical abuse at work? Why do we think it is okay to hit our domestic staff?

The funny thing is that these mistreatments are not limited to any type of woman. I have witnessed women from all spheres of life mistreating their domestic staff. Even women who should know better, like pastor's wives, lawyers or human right's activists. We can speak out against so many injustices in the world, but for some reason, we seem to turn a blind eye to the ones we do right under our nose.

We can argue that we can't trust them, they are rogues, thieves and what not. But for the amount of money they are paid, and the useful service they provide to us, most of our domestic staff don't get treated well. So of course, they don't have much of an incentive to behave properly.

Has anyone tried to put themselves in their maid's shoes? You are taken away from your family and sent to the city to work for a strange family. You could be scared, lonely and homesick, but you have to put all those emotions aside and get on with it. Then you have to endure working from sunrise to sunset every single day of the week. If you are really lucky you will end up working for a nice family that will treat you well. But the majority are treated harshly by everyone in the family - from the madam, to the oga, to the children. And you dare not complain. In fact, who will you complain to? Who will believe you, if you say your madam is mistreating you, or your oga is making sexual advances towards you? The best you can do is to run away. But where does that leave you? Out of a job, broke and lost in a big city.

I hope we can all start making some small changes to the way we treat our maids. It may just be a small change we make everyday, but it would make a whole world of difference to someone. I would like to imagine a world where housemaids can point to the time they spent with their madams and say that those years were one of the best times of their lives.

Food for thought.

Anyways, have a great week ahead!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy new month! I hope you had a good month in March, and are looking forward to bigger and better things in April. I honestly don't know where the time went! It was like I blinked and March flew past me. Somebody please tell April to slow down and not fly by so fast... by the way, did anyone get sucked into an April Fool's prank?

This week, I've learnt to be thankful for electricity. Last Monday, there was a power cut in our area that lasted for over 14 hours. It was so unusual for that to happen, we didn't have any back-up in the house! Our place operates on electricity so I couldn't cook, do the laundry, or heat the house. We had to go and get a torch light and batteries in the evening. It was such a relief when the power came back on!

I've finished reading Love in Paradise by Lara Daniels,  Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman by Ogo Akubue-Ogbata (which the writers both kindly sent to me) and In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika (which broke my heart). I'm now reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Loving them all, and I promise to review them later. 

The Easter weekend is upon us! I'm looking forward to a relaxing time with hubby, we might visit a couple of family and friends, generally eat more than usual, and reflect on the reason why we celebrate the season. I'm thankful that Jesus came to earth to die for us, and I'm so glad that He accomplished His mission on earth, and He redeemed us. I've been very good so far, I haven't indulged in Easter eggs (yet). But we'll see!

Before you go:

Read about our Amazon Book Launch, courtesy of The Bookaholic. And if you need convincing, check out an excerpt of our book In My Dreams It Was Simpler on The New Black Magazine HERE

Don't forget to check out our blog tomorrow for a new installment - right HERE, make sure you don't miss it for anything.

Wish you all a lovely Easter weekend!


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