Blame It On Me

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I just saw the recent disheartening video footage of Matthew Ajibade, the Nigerian student who died mysteriously in police custody in the United States earlier in the year, being shocked by police officers while handcuffed to a restraining chair and writhing in pain.

Ajibade, who was only 21 years old at the time of his death, was found dead in jail in the US on New Year’s day. He had been arrested the previous day after his girlfriend put a distress call to 911 for an ambulance following an episode of his bipolar disorder which made him strike her. The police showed up instead and arrested Ajibade despite the girlfriend making it clear he needed medical attention.

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This has become a norm in the United States where young innocent harmless black men are more likely to be gunned down by the police than they would a white. Their only crime is being black. Black people are generally presumed to be dangerous, a threat and always guilty until proven innocent. According to promoters of the Black Lives Matter movement, a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement every twenty-eight hours.

In light of the recent extrajudicial killings of black people, I reaffirm my stance as an unapologetic Black man and throw my weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement. However, I hate the fact that black people blame everything wrong in their lives on racism.

Black music artistes are often quick to cite/blame racism for their failure to get nominations or win music awards. If American actor Leonardo DiCaprio was black, maybe he’d have taken the same route and blamed his failure to win an Oscar, despite mesmeric performances in a number of movies, on his race. Or the likes of Larry Bird, Jason Kidd, Steven Nash and Dirk Nowitski would have pinned Michael Jordan’s recognition as the greatest basketballer of all time on race.

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I do not know if blaming everything on racism makes some of my black brothers and sisters feel better about themselves but it is about time we took some of the blame for some of the things happening to us. There’s a saying that “no one can make you inferior without your consent.” Magnifying our self-esteem issues by seeking sympathy from the world for being black will give others the power to use us as pawns.

I do not seek sympathy from anyone for being black. Being black is not a plague/curse. Back in Nigeria, being black is becoming a bad thing too. It requires painstaking effort to discern a Nigerian from the crowd these days. We have adopted foreign accents and sound more American and British than the Americans and British people themselves.

You are automatically proclaimed intelligent once you speak well with a foreign accent. Perhaps that’s why it has become a “taboo” for anyone, especially those going into media or entertainment industry, to have a Nigerian accent. Listen to the radio and TV stations now, and you ask yourself “why the struggle to sound white?”

The same Nigerian accent we deride was recently ranked 6th sexiest accent by CNN, higher than the the American accent and a spot below the Queens English accent. However, have you ever seen whites  “killing” themselves to have a Nigerian accent? The essence of language is to communicate but it is also an integral part of a people’s culture. It is one of the things that sets one apart.

Accents define us and grant others information about our lives – where we are from, our history and identity as a people/ race. Our accents depict the richness of our cultural heritage and diversity. You don’t need need a foreign accent to have a high self-esteem rather forcing a foreign accent enhances your inferiority complex.

You are a representative of the Black Community; stop making our kids feel being Black and having a Nigerian accent is a bad thing. So instead of blurting out “Don’t Blame it on me” like John Newman, take the blame today like George Ezra and be proud of who you are. Be made of black!

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The Past Does Matter

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Everyday I hear people say, “the past is the past. It doesn’t matter; just leave it there.” This always gives me a wry smile because anyone going on about how the past doesn’t matter has shown his/her hand.

Does the past really matter? Yes it does! If the past doesn’t matter, why do we still see people the way they were back in Secondary School or University (until proven otherwise)? Why does your doctor always take your medical/clinical history when you visit the hospital? Why do your potential employers check your track record during an interview? Why do people cling to their culture/tradition? Why do African parents insist on investigating their potential in-law’s family history? I could go on and on but I am pretty sure you get my point now.

This may sound harsh or judgmental to many reading this but this is just me embracing reality here. Personally, I don’t judge people by their pasts anymore but it gives me an idea of what to expect from you and prepare myself for it.

This is not a “fun” topic; people are often torn between digging into their potential partner’s past and leaving the past where it belongs. Paranoia grips us when people try to find out certain information about us that we don’t want them finding out, and dealing with disrespect, distrust and uncertainty.

Most people would ask, “what’s the essence of asking about one’s past when s/he will definitely lie? After all, people do change you know” Yes! People do change but our past must have had a huge factor in triggering this change.

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Life is about events, which can either have positive or negative effects on us. Also, these events have a tendency to reoccur so taking history of these events prepare us better to face such things when they reoccur.

For instance, our immune systems spring into action when pathogens (viruses, bacteria and other microbes) invade our body and try to get rid of these foreign invaders. Afterwards, our immune systems make a memory for them and subsequent responses to these antigens are quicker and more effective than those that occurred after the first exposure.

Your past is your story; we are not proud of the wrong choices and mistakes we’ve made but these mistakes often embolden us in all ramifications. We build/develop ourselves based on past events and experiences.

For instance, apostle Paul/Saul went about persecuting Christians with zeal until he was arrested by God on his way to Damascus and was converted to Christianity. He preached the Gospel of Christ with the same zeal he used in killing Christians back in the day until he was martyred.

Life is about patterns; some we carry with us whilst we acquire others as we go along. However, sometimes we let these patterns go unnoticed and this can have a drastic effect on our perceptions of logic, and cause and effect. A good understanding of these patterns allows one to have a different outlook on life as well as the insight to embrace the truths unfolding around us.

Finding out the truth about your new partner’s past is often hard to take, especially for the broken-hearted and faith departed but it is better to know the truth and be prepared for the worst; it saves one from so many things s/he probably could have easily avoided. The past also helps the future generations to act from the mistakes of their predecessors.

Nonetheless, it is also possible to ignore the past and still have happy and fruitful personal relationships with people. In everything, there’s always an outlier.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.