Saturday, September 29, 2007


Do you think people still listen to the chirping of the birds in the morning or the musical whistling of crickets at night in a world where everyone seems to be caught up in the rat race? Well if like me, you live in the countryside where birds still perch on window pane, and crickets hide in grasses growing on the side walk, you will certainly be forced to acknowledge their existence and listen to their musical notes.
I live in a town called Akute, a small community often referred to as the boarder between Lagos and Ogun State. Many people are oblivious of the fact that 70% of the people who reside in this town make their living in Lagos and only come home in the evenings (late at night sometimes, thanks to the traffic jam) to unwind.
Apparently on week days, the town comes awake as early as 4am. Waking up early is one of the most active vaccine against the insufferable traffic congestion that mounts upon the narrow road and the only sensible route that connects Akute to Ojodu (an area in Lagos) every morning. Thus fathers, mothers, children-including babies resign to the fate of keeping up this routine of waking up early, whatever the weather or mood.
However, this morning and for the first time, I noticed that the beauty of Akute doesn't just stop with the chirping of the birds, the whistling of the crickets or the calm breeze that blows peacefully through the streets. As I looked out through the side mirror of the bus I was traveling in, I noticed the beautiful line the vehicles trapped in the traffic jam has formed. The ones in front were a sight for sad eyes. The break light of each vehicles twinkled in the dark of the early morning and together, they formed a trail of red shadows trickling through the road.
As if offended by my admiration of this sight, a danfo bus broke out of the lane and another followed impatiently, driving towards the opposite lane and disrupting the normal flow of vehicles. Before I could spell 'Jack', the narrow road was thrown into Chaos as everyone wanted to move at the same time. Angry drives cursed as they hoot their horn non-stop to express their frustration.
The seconds ran into minutes, still we were almost at the same spot. I checked my wristwatch, it was 7.25am. The once cool atmosphere now seems tensed. The only vehicles that were moving were the ones driving against the traffic, the ones that stayed on the legal lane barely moved. “Driver, you no go follow them?” one of the passengers moaned, pointing to the other drivers who confidently broke the traffic law and other passengers grunted and murmured in approval. The driver however stayed put, he was not about to let the desperation of passengers drive him into trouble of breaking the law- is there any out there?


We are calling on the government to come to our aid...” or “we are waiting for the government to come and help us resolve this problem...” How often have you heard any of the above statements? It might have been in the news last night, or someone just murmured it in the bus you took this morning. Yes, almost everyone in Nigeria likes to wait for the government for this and that. What kind of government, perhaps those that make legislations, the elected leaders of the people?

There is nothing wrong in depending on the government, however, think about this for a minute: A trailer fell into a ditch, fortunately, no one is hurt, but the trailer is badly crushed. People gather at the scene and as if on a planned mission, everyone starts blaming one person- no not the sober driver still in his drunken state, but the government. They all spend the next 30 minutes moaning about how bad the Nigerian government has been and how democracy is doing no good. Then with a heavy sigh, someone calls on President Yar'adua to come to their aid. And do what? Maybe to come and spank the driver for driving while drunk and give him module 101 lessons on the danger of reckless driving or to mobilize local brick layers to build a barricade between the main road and the ditch.

Do you agree that 80% of the problems we most times blame on the government can be avoided if we all take personal responsibility for our actions? For instance, a baby falls off his mother's back and the father blames it on the government, a student fails an examination and blames it on the system etc. instead of learning from the situation and build on a better principle.

Another issue that baffles me is the recent call being made to the government to re-introduce “fashion police” and arrest indecently dressed ladies. I would recommend that the policy be extended to include arresting the parents of the youths for allowing their children or wards walk around half naked. Where is the power of parental responsibility gone?

Nigeria is still rated one of the richest country in Africa...including in human resources, yet a large percent of Nigerians suffer from poverty of the mind. This has reflected on the way we depend on government to do things we can easily do or achieve on our own. We should start thinking creatively on how we can tackle local issues that affect the Nation and not just wait for the government for petty issues when they are yet to succeed in solving the big matters.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

You and the bag you carry...

Have you ever wondered about the origin of handbags? Handbags have been essential to fashion history ever since people have had something precious to carry around with them and only the items have changed over time. I started a conversation in my class recently about items we carry in our bags, partly out of boredom and partly out of curiosity of wanting to know what a few of my classmates carry around in their bags. For instance, one of them has a very small bag which we call “One chance bag” because of its ridiculous size. However, the bag may be small but it sure has the unique skill of hiding precious goodies in it. One day she exclaimed “You won’t believe it take almost an hour to find anything in this small bag”!

Asking another classmate what was the most precious item in her bag, she said her bible, only to whisper later there was none in her bag. Other items the rest of the discussants stated as most important in their bags include: Radio transistor- to keep entertainment going while on the go, wallet- holds cash and necessary contacts and ID card, midget- can never tell where you will meet the news, notebooks-can’t risk recopying class notes, MP3-holds important music and documents files, Digital camera-to take record of important moments etc. Although the above listed were individual’s most important items, imagine one bag carrying all of them? Now who ever carry such bag will have to stay conscious and keep the bag close 24/7 so as not to fall victim of bag snatchers…

My friend went out one day only to come back home without her bag. If the bag had been snatched by pickpockets, then the story will be easier to tell. According to her, she went to see one of her familiar stranger-friend, while they were taking a walk, he suggested to hold her bag… a little distraction and phew! Neither the bag nor the guy was any where to be found. That was how she lost her two phones, ATM card, other IDs etc. to this smart thief. Can you beat that?

Bags in the past were used to show status - the richer the person, the more elaborate the bag. What does the bag you carry say about you? You can never tell who is watching you open your bag, or who wants to make friends because of the kind of bag you carry, all the same, stay alert and keep your bag clean.

The Prescription

The buzz on my friend's phone has just startled me back to the reality of teenage pregnancy. She received a text from an old friend requesting for a prescription of a drug for abortion. Will it surprise you to hear that my friend is neither a nurse nor a pharmacist? Yet her friend was really depending on her help to sort out her problem. I can imagine the person sitting at the other end waiting patiently or impatiently for an answer that will enable her evacuate the baby forming in her womb.
There is no denial that girls (not women) are getting pregnant. Perhaps you know someone who is struggling with the challenges of being a Teenage Mother. As you read this article, another young girl is going through depression while trying to figure out whether to tell or just opt for abortion, ignorant of the danger it holds in its clutches.
Most girls often take abortion as the easiest way to escape taking responsibility for their action. This article however is not to give statistics of the number of girls getting pregnant or start up another social debate on the right or wrong of abortion. The bottom line is, these things are happening, how can the government, you and I take charge and help tackle the issue in our society?
Tackling Teenage pregnancy should be central to government to prevent or reduce infant mortality, child poverty and other related issues in our society. Prioritize a comprehensive sex and relationship education in our school curriculum even at primary school level...catching them young is a vital key. Also, government at local level should create a welfare grant for poor teenage mothers to enable them support themselves, thus reducing poverty. Building a well resourced youth information center at all levels where well trained counselors will also be positioned to address social issues affecting the young people can easily be achieved by partnering with corporate bodies and other NGOs working with youths. Providing things to do and places to go for young people to develop themselves will keep them occupied and away from trouble!
Meanwhile, the Parents can also play their role by ensuring their home is being built on good moral values. There is also a need for modern parents to cut down on activities that compete with family time and get interested in what their children are doing in life because the fundamental development of every child has a lot to do with his family. The society also must stop the social exclusion of Teenage mothers since majority of teenagers who opt for abortion do so out of fear of what people will say! We as young people should learn to minimize activities that expose us to compromising position, in simple words... delete activities that add no value to you and avoid hanging out with the wrong crowd since all it brings is trouble.