My Child Must Be A…

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Growing up as a Nigerian child can be mentally hard. Pardon me for generalising; Yes! I know Nigeria is enormous with over 250 ethnic groups and I cannot speak for everyone but I have found out that Nigerian children, no matter where they grow up, are raised in similar ways.

I was in South London sometime ago and a Nigerian woman complained bitterly about the academic capabilities of her 6-year old daughter (Yes! You read that right). She feels the daughter isn’t as smart as her peers and this makes her worry. She had already planned that the little girl would be a doctor in future and as a result, she hired a private tutor to teach the child after school hours which means the little girl arrives home at about 5pm every weekday.

Many Nigerian parents, just like the aforementioned lady, put pressure on their children, especially the oldest child, to do well in academics. Infact, they have unrealistic expectations that you must be the best at everything; it is not debatable. Even if you get an A and finish as the second best student, they will probably still ask, “The person that came first, does he/she have three heads?” Thereby making their children too result-oriented.

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It is absolutely of great importance that parents support their kids’ academic pursuit but there is growing concern that Nigerian parents put too much pressure on their kids beyond their capabilities and abilities. Whilst some parents want their kids to study 24 hours of the day (TDB) with minimal or no play time, in hope they will grow to become the next Albert Einstein, others favour and praise the academically sound ones over the poorly academic ones.

Putting children under intense pressure can be devastating to their psychological development. Consequently, they develop a certain type of mentality that makes them believe they are worthless without academic success thus cultivating sibling rivalry.

Some children may also develop perfectionistic traits as they put too much pressure on themselves to please their parents and other family members. In my little experience so far, many believe they are only studying for their parents, not for themselves, but are afraid to voice their opinions. Many struggle to establish autonomy and often succumb to depression, sickness, alcohol and drug abuse, psychosis, emotional trauma, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.

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Parenting is hard work; it must be said that parents who put too much pressure on their children never do it with the intention to harm them. Naturally, everyone expects a profitable return on the investments they make and parents are no different. They want to see a return on the investment of money/time that goes into raising their children (school fees are not easy to come by).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting high targets for your children however when these expectations seem to overhelm them, there is need for us to re-evaluate and soft pedal a little bit. Nigerian parents need to realise that every child is different; some are early developers whilst others are late developers. Also, not all children will be academically sound and the best you can do is to encourage them to be better whilst exploring other talents/skills your kids possess.

Some parents do this because they want their children to achieve more than they did. Recently, psychology experts revealed that parents who put extreme pressure on their children are only trying to live/achieve their failed dreams through their children. This gives them great fulfillment and pride, as some see it as a “straightforward validation of their parenting skills.” Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State Univerisity, who coauthored the research said, “Parents then may bask in the reflected glory of their children, and lose some of the feelings of regret and disappointment that they couldn’t achieve these same goals.”

Furthermore, the emergence of social media (Facebook, BBM, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram etc) have unintentionally heaped pressure on many to achieve and some extend this pressure to their children. We are always notified about the events in everyone’s lives – especially their achievements so there’s increased pressure on kids to excel academically so parents can secretly boast that they have the best children ever.

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A child should be allowed to follow his/her own path in life, not the path of his or her parents. All he/she needs is parental guidance and support!

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.

Marriage Equality: For or Against?

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Marriage seems to be one of the most lucrative “business ventures” in Nigeria right now. It is ubiquitous; all across our country, in every region, every social class, every ethnicity, every religion or non-religion, people are getting married in drones.

Everyone I know is either getting married or planning to get married. Okay! Not everyone but you get the picture. One cannot hang out and enjoy a glass of beer or watch footie anymore without friends/family reminding you of your age and the need to include marriage in your to-do-list.

Emergence of social media especially instagram, has made weddings a competition. A Nigerian wedding is incomplete nowadays if it does not appear on Bella Naija and/or sites alike. Everyone is trying to out do each other in decoration, organisation, pre/post wedding shoots, costumes, couple entrance etc.

For some, especially the female folk, marriage is something they aspire to and holds the key to the pursuit of happiness. Many are of the belief that married people are better than single people (who are often termed les miserables) and that a healthy marriage has a huge effect on physical/mental health, longevity and prosperity.

Before one goes further, let’s define marriage. Marriage, in all honesty, is complex and hard to define. It encompasses all aspects of life; conjugal relations, friendship/companionship, love, procreation, mutual responsibility and/or solidifying family alliance (special thanks to Game of Thrones).

Traditionally, marriage is between a man and woman for any or all of the aforementioned reasons. Generally, it is believed that marriage gives one a greater sense of responsibility, life and purpose.

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However, our society is at a turning point. The monopoly of traditional marriage has been questioned resulting in calls from different works of life for everyone to embrace marriage equality i.e. marriage between individuals of the same sex.

People are more vocal nowadays and throw their weights behind same-sex marriage; whether it contradicts religious doctrines or not. Recently, marriage equality won the day in Ireland and is soon to be legal following approval of a referendum to constitutionalise the recognition of marriage irrespective of the couple’s sex.

Despite the large Catholic community in Ireland, 78% voted in favour of same-sex marriage hence becoming the 22nd country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Other countries include: Netherlands (the first country to do so in 2000), Belgium (2003), US (some states in 2003), Spain (2003), Canada (2005), South Africa (the first African country to do so in 2006), Norway, Sweden (both 2009), Mexico (some parts in 2009), Argentina (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), New Zealand, France, Iceland, UK, Brazil, Uruguay (all 2013), Luxembourg (2014), Slovenia (the first Slavic and central European country to do so in 2015) and Finland (2015 but will not take effect till 2017).

Unsurprisingly, despite the marriage madness in our country, Nigeria doesn’t appear on the list. Nigeria and its citizenry still uphold the sanctity of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Civilised individuals believe traditional marriage is obsolete and based on religious and moral tenets – which cannot be proven.

This is what piques me the most about same-sex marriage advocates. They are quick to tag people who do not share the same view as homophobic (fear of gays), unexposed and haters. According to Matthew J Franck who wrote in First Things, “In the contemporary debate on the future of marriage, there appears to be, amid many uncertainties, one sure thing. Those who publicly defend traditional marriage can be haters, bigots or irrational theocrats and perhaps all of these at once.”

My question is, how is it homophobic for anyone to reason and express his views based on religious and moral grounds? What happened to one’s right to freedom of religion? It is our constitutional obligation to respect others’ freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of thought/conscience as well.

I am not for/against same sex marriage; I respect everyone’s decisions but you can’t and won’t force certain things down the throats of people and expect them to smile and say thank you. A number of religions do not support same-sex marriage but if your religion or non-religion supports it. That’s fine!

However, I don’t support people who clamour for religious rules to bend to satisfy their desires and ambitions. If you are a same-sex advocate and your religion abhors marriage equality, it is nobody’s fault. Human beings, whether religious or non-religious, base their lives on beliefs and use reason to distinguish between right and wrong.

From a Christian perspective, “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.”  Proverbs 18: 22 also says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and obtains favour from the Lord.” Before you frown at my Bible citations because of your belief or view about the Bible, the truth is that we all tend to make sense of things on the basis of limited evidence available (beliefs).

The Igbos believe marriage is a public institution hence the saying “otu onye anaghi alu nwanyi.” Truly, the only certainty in this unending debate about marriage equality, is that marriage is the business of the society and its success or failure has a huge impact on the society. Live and let live. Don’t expect religion(s) or anyone to bend a knee to your beliefs.

What do you think about marriage equality?

Success

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What is success? What does it mean to you? Does it entail money/wealth, fame, academic and career achievements, titles and health? What about family? In all honesty, success means different things to different people. One’s definition of success gives an insight into his mind and perception about life.

Being born and raised in Nigeria, where everyone is crazy about titles and money is everything, it is quite easy to understand why many believe success is all about money – having lots and lots of it and academic titles/job promotions/political appointments. Dr Chris Kwakpovwe, the writer of the popular Bible reading guide Daily Manna once wrote, “Titles may enhance us but they aren’t our identity.” Indeed titles are not our identity. Think about this; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Microsoft, Apple and other products we consume today are owned and created by persons, such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and late Steve Jobs who have/had no title. Would you say they are not successful because they lack titles? Don’t misconstrue my point, titles are awesome but they are useless if you don’t put them to great use.

I know a lot of people reading this are already asking themselves, what does a young man in his 20s know about success? What has he really achieved? I am still light years behind, both in age and achievements, but I have experienced joy and sadness, success and failure, and had it both good and bad. My success made me have a quasi-outlook on life; because things were quite easy for me, I struggled to comprehend when people complained about same things being difficult for them. However, nothing changes a man like failure and I am no different. Failure changes one’s outlook on things; it emboldens you and makes you hard-bitten.

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Let me paint a mental picture for you. Close your eyes and think about the best and worst relationships you’ve had. Which of them taught you more – the good or the bad one? Hear Robert Kiyosaki, “Inside every problem lies a gem of wisdom, a gem that makes us smarter, stronger and able to do better regardless of economic conditions.” Failure, in its own right, is success coated with indelible lessons, only if you learn from it. My failure and disappointments made me appreciate life and success more. John Maxwell once said, “The greatest lessons in life are from our losses. Everyone experiences loss but not everyone learns from it. Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is.”

Each and every one of us have experienced (or will still experience) something that changed our lives and we have never been the same ever since. Jonas Guiterrez, a rich Argentine professional footballer, who is living the dream of many said after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, “I think the most important thing in life is health. Health and happiness. Sometimes we get into a lot of trouble for things that aren’t significant.” Sometimes we get caught up or engrossed with frivolities such as acceptance and fame on social media (virtual world), fashion trends etc. Thanks to satellite TV and social media, everyone is “close” to the fabulous lives of their favourite celebrities and yearn for their lives.

Numerous chats with people down the years made me realize most youths long for success but a few are prepared to put in the effort. Regardless of your definition of success, one thing is certain – it is a long continuous process. Even Kim Kardashian, who is often criticized for lacking talents apart from her beauty and good derriere, works hard to maintain her success. Success does not fall on one’s laps – like manna from heaven. It has to be earned through hard work, perseverance, persistence and determination.

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Michael Wardian, after becoming the World record holder for 50km on the treadmill said, “I think about my goal. Don’t give up because it gets hard or something gets wrong. It is the middle that’s tough. People cheer at the starting and finish line. The middle miles need mental toughness.” Oh Yes! Everybody likes to be associated with success; failure is an orphan. In other words, who no like to embrace the winner? Cast your minds back to when you got accepted into the University, everyone was ecstatic for you and you became an overnight celebrity at your matriculation ceremony. The same thing reoccurs when you finally graduate and everyone adds Dr, Barr, Engr, as the case may be, to your name. However, only a few understand what you had to go through to obtain that degree – the mental, emotional and psychological stress heightened by sleepless nights.

Every successful person you know today has had it rough but never gave up. If you aim at being excellent at what you do, you ought to be willing to sacrifice a certain part of your life. You have to do the work; dot the ‘i’s and cross the‘t’s. Tim Gower wrote in his book, RELENTLESS:  “There is no privilege greater than the pressure to excel and no greater reward than earning the respect and fear of others who are in awe of your results.” He further described three types of personalities in the book; the coolers who let others decide whether they are successful or not, the closers who feel they are successful once they get the job done e.g. African footballers in Europe and the cleaners who never feel as if they have achieved success because there is more to do.

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the easiest examples of cleaners today. Debate about who is better than the other has divided the football world. Despite what these two football greats have achieved, they don’t rest on their laurels. Their hunger for success is what drives them and they have created a legacy for themselves.

Our environment determines our path; it is the most powerful teacher of all in our success quest. If you aim at being successful in your chosen field, it is pertinent to identify the right environment that allows you take advantage of your three brains – right, left and subconscious – to achieve your dream. Crowd mentality can’t get you to the sky, where we all believe is our starting point but by creating a niche for yourself in your field and proving everyday why that niche deserves to be yours.

Crowd Mentality

“If you follow the crowd, you might get lost in it”

Prior to the World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Kenya few weeks back, there was a war between Nigerians and Kenyans on twitter. A lot of provocative, insulting yet funny words were exchanged between citizens of both countries.

The Kenyans took to twitter to complain and rant about the way their national team was treated by the Nigerian Football Federation on arrival in Lagos for a World Cup qualifier.

If they were truly treated unfairly and unprofessionally by NFF, they deserve to be livid and their anger justifiable but a lot of Nigerians, not knowing the genesis of the tirade, took it upon themselves and “fought back”, just to be part of a trending topic on twitter.

This is exactly what Crowd Mentality is all about. Crowd Mentality is when an individual or a group of individuals adopt a behaviour just to look or sound cool.

Most Nigerian youths don’t have a mind of their own, they are controlled by people around them or those they believe are superior to them and see these superiors as role models.

So many people form foreign accents, have twitter accounts, fake love for a particular genre of music, blog, drink heavily or smoke uncontrollably because they believe it makes them look cool and acceptable.

Inferiority complex has been associated with crowd mentality and it is believed people who have inferiority complex issues tend to do things, just be accepted by people.

These people have lost their own identity and imagination,letting it get diluted with the influence of people around them.

A lot of girls and guys are easily influenced by people around them so they lie whenever they are in the presence of such people. They lie about sex, relationship, money, etc as the case may be.

The issue of crowd mentality can be seen in career building. So many people lack direction and as a result follow the path chosen by their friends. Recently, I had a discussion with a guy and I realised he’s only studying for a Masters degree just because his friends are doing the same.

This young man isn’t alone in the world of people with this kind of screwed mentality. A lot of people have travelled out of the country to study but when you interact with them, you will realise that most didn’t travel because they really want to further their education but they did so because they want to be accepted by the “elite”, boast to people who still see travelling abroad as luxury, have sexual escapades with foreigners or just leave the country for “good”.

You don’t need a microscope to see the effect of crowd mentality on social media. I always say this “if only our lives were as awesome as we portray it on social media, the world would be a better place”. Most people are ready to do anything to be accepted by the crowd. They post nude pictures, fight to be the first to convey or report some information, share recharge vouchers, copy and paste quotes, use pictures of “correct” people or photo shop their pictures and use them as their profile picture.

Social media is all about mirage, majority of people are far from what they depict on these social networks. I believe people who struggle so hard to be “celebrities” on these social networking sites don’t really have an interestingly fun life in reality so they seek solace in social media.

My Dad once said “Unintelligent people move with the crowd, the intelligent ones move with the minority and the most intelligent ones are always thinking”

Letting go of toxic people in your life is a big step in loving yourself. People in your life may be acting a bit crazy now, but don’t let it get under your skin. Just because others are off in the deep end doesn’t mean you have to join them there. Stay in safe waters and do your thing.

I recommend finding yourself something to interest yourself away from other people, some hobby that you can learn and do on your own, that requires some reasoning and imagination so that you can practice thinking independently and not relying on your friends to think for you.

Better yet if it’s a hobby that few to none of your friends already do (although of course, make sure it’s something you enjoy doing yourself). It might also help to teach yourself to be more critical of what other people do, look at other people and their actions and just think about how you could have done it better, or in a way that would better suit you. You could even just try deliberately doing something different and unique, like wearing a different style of clothes from what your friends wear, or listening to different music, or eating different food, some sort of trigger to teach yourself that you don’t have to do the same things as other people and how thinking for yourself can work for you in your life.

“To Belong” syndrome is a chronic progressive syndrome that is very easy to contract but very hard to treat/manage/cure.

Ditch the crowd and have a mind of your own.

Twitter ruined my marriage (culled from Nairaland)

Efe and I got married two years ago. Before we got married he really wasn’t all into social networks but now he’s on all of them: Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other silly social networks. I wouldn’t have minded if it was just Facebook, I can deal with that. Everybody is on Facebook. Normal people are on Facebook. But Twitter…

That’s a different thing entirely. All sorts of home breakers and husband snatchers are on there.

I started to notice something was wrong when Efe started spending more time than usual on his Blackberry. He’d come home from work, kiss me briefly before settling on the couch with his Blackberry in his hand.

I would tell him something like “Honey, I went shopping today and just guess who I saw.” And he would grunt. Or I would tell him to come to the dining for his diner and he would say something like “I’ll be there in a minute” and he would take forever to get up. He’d take forever to eat and still wouldn’t finish his meals because he was tweeting.

He’d go out with friends till late and fall asleep as quickly as he hit the bed.

The day that my suspicions were confirmed was the day he left his Blackberry on my reading table while he was in the shower. I did not intend to snoop. I was reading a book quietly with my mug of coffee in one hand and my highlighter in the other when his phone beeped.

I ignored it the first time.

It beeped again.

Then again.

Again.

My will to ignore it weakened with each beep and I reached for the phone. He had Socialscope notifications, direct messages actually, from @Ivy_L_Chick. Her avatar was quite small but the little I could see was cleavage. I was just about to read the rest of the direct message when I heard the door of the bathroom creak shut.

I jumped and dropped the phone like it had scalded me. Efe cocked an eyebrow my way.

“What were you doing with my phone?” he asked, coming towards me. I felt like a criminal.

“Nothing. I wanted to check the time.”

He nodded and continued dressing. I believed he believed me until he was on his way to work; a functioning clock was directly in front of me. It has always been there. I put it there myself.

By the next time I could lay my hands on his phone, there was a password on it. It was on my ninth try that I heard Efe’s footsteps in the hallway. I quickly pulled out his battery and restarted his phone so he wouldn’t know that I had been trying to enter his password.

Instead of the usual brief hug and kiss, Efe lingered awhile with me in the kitchen he even helped me do the dishes and he did not reach for his phone once. Not once.

He started noticing my new hair dos again, he started complimenting me again but I was not content with having Efe back.

A need to go through his Twitter consumed me so much that all I could see at night was @Ivy_L_Chick’s avatar. I could see it in the mirror in the morning, in the television in the afternoon and yes, in my dreams at night.

Finally, one morning, I decided to get a Twitter account. I was familiar with all the lingo because my husband used it so much. Oftentimes, he would refer to one of his friends as @thatblackboy instead of Tunde or he would say Ejiro’s avatar makes brain or something like that.

I opened a Twitter account on a Tuesday morning with the handle @barbiexxx and an almost completely Unclad avatar i found through Google. I started tweeting Efe and retweeting all his tweets. Soon after he followed me back and sent me a direct message.

@ThatEfeGoi: Hey. Wassup?

@Barbiexxx: I’m good. You?

@ThatEfeGoi: I’m chilling. Nice avatar.

@Barbieexxx: Thank you! Yours isn’t bad either

@ThatEfeGoi; lol i appreciate.

@Barbiexxx: you’re welcome

I wished he would say something flat out incriminating like “Want to hook up?” but he didn’t.

Not that day. Not the day after or even the following week. But my mind was still not at rest. Why did he put a passcode on his phone if there wasn’t anything he was trying to hide from me? There was and I was hellbent on finding out. I just never stopped to think about what I was going to do with the incriminating information but I wanted it as bad I wanted my next breath.

I got the evidence I wanted right in my lap two weeks after the first direct messages we shared. He sent me a message asking if I wanted to “hook up sometime on Saturday” He had told me that he was going to watch a match with a couple of friends at a bar on that same Saturday at the same time he wanted to “hook up” I told him that I would be available.

The next few days after that were the longest days of my life and when Saturday came, I was more than ready to face my two timing husband. We agreed to meet at Spicery hotel’s lobby. I got there at 2:15pm fifteen minutes after we agreed to meet. I can’t begin to describe the look on his face when he saw me walking towards him, swinging my handbag menacingly in my hand.

“So this is what you do behind my back ehn, Efe?”

He was speechless. I was so mad I caused a scene right there in the lobby in front of the receptionist and some of the cleaners even some people came out of their rooms to see the woman who was bashing her husband with her handbag.

We haven’t said two words to each other since that day. Efe now sleeps on the couch while I cry myself to sleep. Nothing Efe says to me will change my mind about what is happening between us. Things are no longer the same and I doubt they ever will be. The minute he walks out the door in the morning, the dirtiest images of him with another woman fill my mind.

Efe still denies that he has ever cheated on me but I don’t believe him because I can’t find the direct messages he exchanged with @Ivy_L_Chick anymore. I don’t believe.

I don’t believe!

I cannot say for sure that I am not losing my sanity. But I can say for sure that my marriage isn’t the same anymore. Efe and I aren’t the same anymore either…