MY ABBA IS AT IT AGAIN

So my Abba has this thing that He does where He puts me in one kin situation like this and then proceeds to chortle at my extreme discomfort as He works on yet another part of me.

He’s at it again. This time, it’s voice-overs. Lemme explain.

At my office, a couple of people have recently called me to do voiceovers for one program or the other (Coming soon!) This wouldn’t be a big deal except for one thing; I am not the most expressive of people. As a matter of fact, sometimes it takes me hours to realise that I am happy/sad/angry.

Now I have deep emotional reserves, I feel a range of emotions, but I don’t express them. From happiness to sadness to anger, my voice stays at the same pitch, perfectly modulated, deeply soothing (I’ve been told), almost impersonal. Now when I lose my temper, I start shouting like I’ve suddenly been possessed like a town crier, but apart from those times…nada.

Infact let me tell you guys a story. When I was in the Talk Academy for the Debaters, one of our coaches one day decided that he wanted to work with some of us on infusing emotion into our voices. He would play someone’s debate, have the class grade it out of 10, give the person a scene to act out and then have the class grade him/her again. My turn came; when my debate ended, my classmates graded, people were shouting “1!!!”, “2!!!”  One kind soul gave me 3. Out of 10! I then started acting out the scene – guys, I acted, I poured my soul into it, I was on the verge of tears sef with the power of my emotion. My new score? 3 – 4, with probably the same kind soul giving me 5.

I think I’ve proven my point.

The fact that I yell when I’m angry as well as the fact that I’m a strong singing soprano tell me that my vocal behaviour is more mental/emotional than about the physical state of my vocal cords.

And now I have to do voiceovers. Where you have to eject emotion into your voice. You see wahala ba?

The first one was easy; something within my normal voice range. Then they said “Show excitement”. How does one do this biko? I tried to explain that I don’t do excitement, but no one listened. They would just demonstrate, and then wait patiently for me to do what they wanted. So Arit is now learning to show excitement.

My Father, who knows the plans He has for me, has put in place a training program that is forcing me out of yet another comfort zone. I am learning to express, to raise pitch, to add inflection and emotion.

Sometime this week sha, I realised that I want to get good at this. I want to giggle, chortle, pitch, emote, project and express my way to excellence. I want people to listen and feel the exact emotions each word is supposed to. Just like I make pictures with my words, I want to make them with my voice. And I want to do a darn good job of it.

Another story

In 2004, I went to Zamfara for my service; the day after registration, I was fast asleep when they started calling us to come for the morning parade. I staggered up, threw on my clothes and appeared on the parade ground with my white shorts and tees, a hairnet and bathroom slippers. By the time they started marching practice, I was a goner. Couldn’t keep time, couldn’t lift my feet, couldn’t focus, couldn’t wait to be done. 3 weeks later, I was the Ensign to the colours in the Colour party (the group of people who hold the flag and the drums). I quick marched, slow marched and did all those side marching tins where you start out somewhere and end up somewhere else totally. I did them perfectly.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…and my Papa is an excellent teacher. Whenever I am tempted to get discouraged about doing something new, I pull up that time-lapse video of me in Zamfara and I remember the flush of pride as I stood there in my khakis in the hot Zamfara sun with my eyes straight and my spine straighter, only 3 weeks after probably being the most hopeless marcher that the soldiers had ever seen.

I’m going to rock at this; just wait and see.

No be me o! I can’t do diddly by myself, but my Father operates with excellence. He looked at everything He had done and declared them very good. That’s just the way my Father is. Arit was made in His image, I do as He does. That’s the way He is, so that’s the way I am.

Shikena

 

Advertisements

FROM A HURTING HEART

I’m thinking of Westgate and thinking of people who until Saturday were living their lives, on holiday, taking a few minutes to shop or planning a leisurely day exploring the mall. And now, for those that are alive, their lives will never be the same. Security can be an illusion; the things that we think make us safe – money in the bank, locks on our doors, the perfect love…everything. It’s an illusion.

I’m thinking of Nigeria, and how immediately, everyone’s mind is going to our various malls. And we’re all thinking the same thought – if this happens here, we’re sunk. If what happened in Westgate happens here, will it be citizens fighting to rescue others, or will our forces move in a concerted team? Will we donate blood? Do we have blood banks? Will NEMA immediately set up counselling tents and mobile hospitals or will there be wrangling over the true number of militants or casualties?

I saw a tweet yesterday that police in Abuja are carrying out stop and search operations and I try not to sink into despair. What are they searching for? I’ve been out in Abuja at night, they look into the car, sweep their torch around and then ask if there’s anything for the boys. Or is it the guys who sweep a mirror under the car? Searching for something that might be hidden in a seat or even in a handbag?

Am I the only one that thinks that we can be more proactive from now? Set up legislation that makes all malls have security features such as a central alarm system, huge gates that can lock down sections at once, thus ensuring containment. Am I the only one that thinks that perhaps mall shops should have more than one access and that it is time that our police force received equipment and training to ensure that they know what to do if something like this happens here?

This weekend over 100 people in Borno died. Last week people were slaughtered in an uncompleted building in Abuja. Last week suicide bombers killed people in Pakistan. And I’m sick of it, sick of the death, sick of the hate, sick of the lives that will be forever altered because some people believe that it is their right to take other people’s lives.

I want it to be better, want life to get better, but there is a part of me that knows that this is it, we’re approaching the end, it doesn’t get better, we’re rounding up now.

I don’t know how to deal with this kind of cruelty; this casual evil. I don’t know how to rationalize it into something that makes sense. Help me to be a light Abba, for the short time between now and when You come, help me to shine my light. Help me to be a relief from the evil and the hate. Help me to be a pure reflection of You, to serve in my own way to lighten this corner of the world that You have made my responsibility. Show me how not to give up, how to deal with this, how to turn this pain in my heart into something pure and good and powerful.

I don’t know how You do it, how do You deal with the death and the pain and the hurt? I don’t know how You can. Your children are dying before Your eyes, is Your heart breaking too Abba? Teach me to do as You do, to make this the fuel that powers my love for this dying world and the people in it.

Amen

BEING HERE

There’s pleasure in being back here…in this place where it rains 7 days out of 7…making sure that everything is both lushly green and sopping wet. There is pleasure in walking around, exploring familiar unfamiliar places and discovering new ones.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve come back home, but it does feel in a sense like I have come to rest. I’m not the girl who left here, and somehow it doesn’t feel like I’m the girl who I was 3 weeks ago.

It’s been a while since I heard these languages spoken, but my ears are beginning to recognize the rhythm and like a forgotten thread, my mind is picking them up and connecting them to words I used to hear and speak. Suddenly, in the middle of a conversation, an Efik word pops out of my mouth almost of its own accord, almost as if the air itself is whispering them into my ear.

My name is no longer exotic or unusual. No one asks where it is from, I don’t have to spell it; instead the people I meet have a sister or cousin whose name is Arit, and they pronounce it, not simply as I have come to, but with the emphasis from the throat that turns it from something slightly exotic to something very cultural.

I recognize the bodies too, because they are my own. In a workshop, I sit across a woman who almost looks like my cousin will in 20 years; beside me is a woman who looks just like one aunt and speaks just like another. I recognize my frame, my hair, my calves; I see them in the bodies that walk past me.

People speak Efik to me, I reply in English and they smile…and continue. I’m standing on the street and hear my name called…name and surname, by someone who probably saw me last 11 years ago. When women I barely know call me baby, or sweetheart, I smile, I do the same, I have the same easy affection, the same love of endearments.

There are no strangers here…well, not many. I may never have met them, but somehow, I know them. I know who they are.

It’s not home, but I fit right in…in the ease of living, the quiet unhurried pace of life. Sitting in a taxi while the driver moves as if he is out on an evening jaunt, I feel myself slow down; I become one with the people chatting and laughing as they stroll on the sidewalk, with the old man sitting on his porch, with the children dashing almost recklessly into the street. I take pictures with my eyes, of 2 teenage girls playing cards, long legs sprawled on either side of their little stool,watched avidly by a little crowd of children. Pictures of the mother busily frying groundnuts on a little stove while her toddler dances contentedly behind her, pictures of men, woman and children…pictures of people living.

The houses are neatly painted, surroundings tended…people live here; they sit on the impossibly green verges and chat as they watch life go by. They sit outside on plastic chairs and eat roasted pork and roasted fish and wash everything down with a cold beer. When they are done they go home and sleep; tomorrow will be another day of the same simple pleasures. They do not ask for more; they do not need more.

The influences are familiar, the accents are familiar, the silence is familiar.

This place is familiar.

There is pleasure in being here, the woman that I am. I walk into my beautiful uncompleted house and my mind comes to life with plans for décor, with visions of the life I will live here. And then I marvel at time, that I am here, at this time, this person, in this place; planning a home for the time that I will be here.

I never bothered about décor before; no real need to paint this or buy that or do this. But here, I know exactly what I need, I haven’t seen it yet but I know it exists because my mind has drawn a picture so clearly that the things I see must exist in this dimension.

I imagine the nights when I will come home, and prepare my dinner, and write, and listen to the world outside my window.

Did this place bring these pictures? Or was their creation sheer serendipity?

I splash in the puddles, my hair is wet but I don’t care. What is wet hair compared to the pleasure of the warm drizzle against my skin?

On Saturday I climbed on a pedestrian bridge and looked at the city laid out below me. It was so beautiful but I couldn’t focus. I thought that I must take a picture but instead all I could think of was how high up I felt, how fast the cars below me seemed to be, how flimsy the bridge felt, how insignificant I felt. So I hurried down, heart pounding, one step after the other, eyes resolutely planted on the ground. And when I got to the ground I looked up at the bridge and laughed at my silliness. I will climb it next week and every week until I can take a picture without fear that a strong breeze will topple me over the shoulder high rail.

There is pleasure in new things – new faces, new experiences, new places, new thoughts.

I feel gratitude so strong that it brings tears to my eyes and turns my face upward. My heart, my mind – they’re full of pictures, of impressions, of feelings, of disbelief. How did I get to be this blessed? This favoured? How did I get this life? How did I win this life that I have lived?

Undeserving

Grateful

Blessed

There is great pleasure in the person that I am, profound gratitude for the opportunity to experience every single thing that I encounter; for the chance to laugh, to be silent, to watch, to not care.

There is pleasure in being; in being here, in being me, in being me here.

 

P SQUARED AND TYLER PERRY

So I saw a tweet yesterday; one of the Okoyes (P Squared) tweeted something about welcoming someone/something on bored (board). Someone else tweeted in response, “Rich but lack education” following which he was promptly blocked. But this is my thrust, and I’ve wondered this many times. Why do people consistently seem to look for ways to knock celebs down a peg or two? It baffles me.

I remember when Karen just won BBA; it seemed like some people got on twitter to identify, highlight and then mercilessly mock her grammatical errors. Which was amusing because basically, this woman just won a couple of hundred thousand dollars using a formidable combination of skills and displaying some very impressive PR strategies…and we’re mocking her because her English isn’t great? I see…

I thought the same with the PSquare tweet. Those guys may not be the most eloquent, but they have created a multimillion dollar business empire with sweat, complicated dance moves and songs so simple that the average 2 year old can sing them with ease. We mock them, and then when we are done, we hear Personally and attempt to twist our bodies into painful contortions in a bid to dance along…reinforcing the success of their business strategies and helping to make them even richer; again, I see…

Now I’m not talking about good natured yabs…those are perfectly normal and should even be expected. If as a public figure no one is yabbing you, you are not yet visible, but the relentless aggression, mockery and so on…well in my opinion it is more reflective of the speaker than the one spoken of. Just putting that out there.

Next…TD Jakes, Tyler Perry, the million dollars and the anointing…

So I popped over to Bella this afternoon and there was a piece on the topics listed above. If you haven’t read it, just click here.

Anyway in the comments section, some people were arguing about whether it was proper or not and so on and so forth and some people made comments to the effect that “Well, I’m a regular person, would TD Jakes let me lay hands on him? I bet he wouldn’t; Tyler Perry donated 1 million dollars and so TD Jakes let him; it was purely mercenary”

I’d like to share my opinion on this

Tyler Perry might have gotten that access because of his position, but that doesn’t make TD Jakes mercenary…it’s just the reaffirmation of a basic fact of life. The first part of Proverbs 18:16 says that a man’s gift makes room for him. Now I have always interpreted that verse 2 ways – first that a man’s ability or talent will create opportunities for him, but also very literally, that a gift in your hands will create opportunities for you. It is common practice – if you’re meeting someone that you admire or seek access to, you put together a gift (not a bribe please), an expression of their value in your eyes, it helps to make the right impression…also, when companies are trying to gain a new client, they will often put together gift baskets filled with selections from a carefully researched list of said potential client’s personal preferences and send them “With their sincere regards”…anyway I digress.

My point is, any way you choose to look at it, it is life – access is created based on what you carry – inside and outside. Alhaji Dangote can make a request of any government in Africa and see it granted, simply because of the immense weight he carries, and the possibilities that open based on acquaintance with him.

Even as we are, there are certain people who have more access in our lives than others, simply because of their position on our personal scale.

Was TD Jakes so overwhelmed by the $1 million cheque that he was willing to let Tyler Perry do anything he felt like? I think not. But did Tyler Perry’s gift create an opportunity or an environment for him to do something out of the ordinary? I believe so.

There’s a difference.

It’s a bit…maybe naïve..maybe unkind, to simply reduce Tyler Perry’s leeway to the money that he gave…it goes beyond that. He has leveraged his every gift to the fullest and continues to do so, and it has granted him access.

I do not wish to get close enough to TD Jakes to lay hands on him, but I do intend to hone my gifts and skills to the extent that when I need to walk into certain circles or have to get something or the other done, I will be assured that those doors of access will be opened to me.

Simple.