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

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MUSINGS THE NIGHT BEFORE…

Well my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…

I swear I thought I was ready. But sitting here, looking around my almost empty room, I have a few minutes where I am suddenly sure I don’t want to leave after all. Lol. That’s what family and home and love does to you.

But I’m set, packed and ready, looking forward to the next stage in the whirly, wonderful adventure that is my life. By the time you read this, I’ll be safe in Calabar, ready to start my new career as a Producer/Presenter with Ebony Life TV. For someone who tends to hide when its time to take a picture, its amazing how God has placed me in a career where millions of people will see my face every day.

Sitting with my mum this evening, she looks at me and says the same words she has always said whenever one of her children is leaving home “If you don’t like it there, you know where home is, no one will judge or criticize you, just come back home”. Eternal assurance of a place to come back to, a place where you are always welcome.  And because I know I will have a safe landing if I ever choose to hang up these wings, I know that I will not only fly, I will soar. For a second I have a picture of me in the sky, laughing as i twirl and dive and climb, saying “Look at me Mama, I’m flying!”

In a minute I’ll go stand on my balcony, look at the bit of Abuja laid out to my view and appreciate this most enjoyable of vistas. Then I’ll walk round my house and cover it one more time with my prayers and my blessings. I think back to the girl who arrived Abuja again in December 2010, so much has happened in the almost 3 years since…what will the next 1, 2, 3 years bring?

I can’t wait.

My brother has just come up, he’s not the emotional sort, so we hug, he ruffles my hair, we remind each other to take care…my throat has just closed up with the amount of love I have for these people…God has blessed me with many things, but by far the biggest blessing is my family…these awesome people who love me, who celebrate my difference and laugh at my quirks…these ones who love me unconditionally.

Keep them for me Abba…

I’m excited, curious, peaceful, happy…you know what I’m not? Scared. No fear…how can I be scared when I’m led?

I remember the night before I left for Zamfara, I was so scared, not sure I should go, not sure I could do it, He gave me this verse,Genesis 28:15:  Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.

Peace…the cessation of the storm, the knowledge that there is a path.

NYSC in Zamfara was one of the most amazing times of my life…

I’m starting a new blog in addition to this one: http://rediscoveringcalabar.wordpress.com/. It will be devoted to my experiences of Calabar – places I go, people I meet, things I do…I just got a new camera, so I will be taking lots of pictures and will be putting them up. It would be great to have you be a part of my adventure. I’ll put up a post every week. It’ll be fun.

I don’t do long goodbyes, so I have shared them up over the last week, spending time with one and then the other of some of the people I am closest to, basking in the warmth of friendship and family.

Many times I find myself asking how it is that I am so blessed – to have the people and experiences that I have and have had in my life. I come to the same answer every single time…it’s grace. Grace that I do not understand but which I am nonetheless very grateful for.

Have a wonderful night dear friends, I have a balcony to stand on and a house to bless…

Good night

I don’t know how I feel about Americanah…am I allowed to say that? Am I allowed to say that I am not immediately bowled over by it or transported by it? I don’t know.

I put it down…several times. I put it aside to read something else or do other things and now, although I have been reading it for the last few hours, I have put it aside again to write about it.

I’m not saying that it is not a well written book, it is extremely well written….but somehow it is different…maybe this is what it is meant to be.

This isn’t a review of the book, I do not have the breadth of experience to review a book by someone far more skilled than myself.

Americanah is odd. It doesn’t attempt to make itself relatable. It seems to wander from one place to another, from one perspective, one emotional and mental place to another, as if when she was writing it, Ms Adichie herself put it down and picked it up over and over again, and as if each time that she picked it up, she was a different person.

It seems to meander, almost to drift, but it does not…it is just taking the scenic route to a place that we might or might not see, depending on where we are when we get to the end.

I suspect that it is not meant to be completely relatable. Some parts I picture immediately, my father was a lecturer in the University and so I can relate to Obinze’s mum, because many of my parent’s friends spoke like her…of journals and conferences. I remember the strikes, first as a child wondering why my father wasn’t at work again, reading the stickers that appeared on the doors “My take home pay can’t take me home” and feeling the slight awkwardness with protesting, as if they didn’t quite remember how…then I became a student, and the strikes meant that I was at home longer than I should have, but not as long as old friends in other universities with more militant lecturers.

I read Ifemelu’s accounts as she arrived and then adapted and then created her own identity and I know that I cannot relate to it because I have only ever lived here and so I have never had to adapt to someone else’s culture or way of life. But I can see the truth in Ifemelu’s answers, her thoughts ring true as well. I just have a little trouble seeing the person she is when she is in America.

The parts about hair tend to grate a bit, but that is mostly because I am getting tired of the whole natural hair/relaxed hair debate. There seems to be a carefully worded campaign for all of us to revert to kinkiness, a message that says “yes I felt it was silly too but then I fell in love with my Africanness the first time I touched my head and felt tight curls instead of silk”. It’s not balanced…it’s very obviously on the side of natural hair and I feel slightly irritated that even here I can’t escape the various advertisements and arguments about the Afro.

Maybe this is what makes Americanah a great book. Perhaps Ms Adichie does not intend us to get lost in the book. Perhaps she means some parts to jar and some parts to make us smile in nostalgia. Perhaps she means some parts to make us think about perspectives that we have experienced but never thought through.

It’s possible it’s just me sha

I find it quite political and somehow I find the book shifting in perspective from a story to a veiled political statement and back and it is in some of these places that I disconnect from the story and put the book down and go off and do something.

Some parts of Obinze’s story sound unreal. Did she mean them to sound that way? Or am I too immersed in Ifemelu to connect fully to this guy who seems to be less substantial as an adult than he was as a youth?

I don’t know what Americanah is. And perhaps that is part of my problem; that I cannot define it. Perhaps it bothers me that it is more complex, more layered and less clearcut than her other work.

I do recognize that this is an incredibly written book, if for no other reason than that I am sitting here at 1.30 in the morning with no light, trying to take it apart in my head to see if I can put it back together in a way that I understand.

Americanah does not engage my heart or my emotions. It engages my mind and I find myself thinking not so much about the characters and their lives and their stories, but about the book itself, about the perspectives and opinions that Ms Adichie has put out. I am not lost in the story, I am standing outside, watching this girl and pondering her impressions, perspectives and motivations.

I find myself thinking about lecturers that no longer write in journals and the wave of hopelessness that drove Nigerians out of the country in droves in the 90s. I compare that in my head to the many leaving now and I find myself asking if the Nigerians who left earlier look at the Nigerians leaving now and are as saddened and surprised by them as we are back here. I find myself contemplating the dynamics of race in a context where I am not automatically correct because after all I am a Nigerian woman in Nigeria. I muse briefly on the thought that perhaps my blog needs to become more specific, more niched (I know that‘s not a word but it says so rightly what I want to say so I ‘m keeping it).

I’m uninterested in Curt, he is a sideline to the story…even Blaine is somehow incidental…I don’t know if he is meant to be.

It annoys me how Ifemelu’s father moves from sounding wise to sounding quaint, I roll my eyes when Ifemelu specifies that she will be using a satin bonnet to cover her hair after she has braided it. There are very many people in the story and it’s a bit hard to keep track of all of them and their various ideologies.

And this might be just because I’ve lost my sense of romance…temporarily misplaced it, but I kinda wished Ifemelu and Obinze didn’t end up together…I mean, how often does it happen like that in real life? I know, it’s fiction, not real life

I’m a bit shocked to realise that I have written 3 pages on this book and that I could write a few more without feeling like I have successfully taken it apart.

Somehow I get the feeling that Ms Adichie has done something quite unprecedented with this book.

I still don’t know how I feel about this book; maybe I’m not meant to feel.

LAGOS RAMBLINGS

Lagos, Algarve

Sadly not the train I saw. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post was supposed to be written at MM2. I had this mental picture of sitting in an airport, typing away, a complete oasis of peace amidst the swirling blur of travelling humanity…however, my battery refused to allow me to be great, so I’m back at home, typing this in the sweltering Abuja heat and not feeling like much of an oasis.

I love airports…as soon as I get into one, I want to travel to some exotic country far away…I am a wanderer at heart, and airports remind me of that desire to explore new regions and experience new things. I remember telling my family years ago that I would not own a home…I decided that I would spend my years travelling with my knapsack on my back and come home periodically with souvenirs of the many places I would have visited. While I have come to the realization that living like a tortoise with my home on my back might not be the best way to go, I still enjoy the hunger that airports spark in me, and indulge them with short trips to Lagos and plans for travelling the world a country at a time.

Anyway…back to the point…whatever it was meant to be…

I took a Dana flight to and from Lagos and I must say it was a wonderful experience. Customer relations were excellent, hostesses were polite, pleasant and professional and my checking in and flight arrangements were done smoothly. My flight back to Abuja was excellent; the plane almost seemed to kiss the ground, so smooth was the landing. I’d like to think that perhaps Dana Air has started again with a renewed focus on excellence in all aspects of their work. It seems that so often, we notice the bad that organizations and corporations do, I’d like to also acknowledge the good and hope that they keep it this way and even improve their services. I was definitely impressed.

I enjoyed my trip to Lagos…I get to see a different side of it every time I travel. This trip, I enjoyed looking at the old and new buildings side by side…Lagos is full of history. I looked at buildings put up in the 1800s and couldn’t help wondering about them. Who built them, how many generations had passed, how the current occupants felt about living in history… I would imagine that houses so old would have an atmosphere full of memories…you would walk into them and feel the joys and hopes and tears of generation after generation…I am glad that in Lagos and also Calabar, we are not so overwhelmingly obsessed with the new that we are recklessly chucking out the old. I know that many valuable architectural and cultural aspects of our past have been and are still in the process of being lost, so it made me very happy to see old homes…some carefully maintained. It told me that perhaps there are some that still care.

I also enjoyed watching the train. Yes the cars were rickety, yes the tracks are overgrown with grass but still, it was lovely to hear the alarm bells ring, see the barriers come down and then watch the train thunder past. Although trains don’t evoke in me the same desire to travel that airports do (those things look rickety abeg), it was still nice to watch these people in the trains and wonder who they were and where they were going.

Hmmm..what else?

I enjoyed shutting down, and I truly did. Barely answered my phone or responded to messages, just disconnected from life, took a step outside the hustle and bustle and caught a moment to breathe. It was a wonderful mini-break; somewhere in the middle of the holiday, I found myself letting go of a “worry list” that I didn’t even know I had been building, and replacing it with a “grateful list”. I knew I was well rested when I woke up this morning and found myself planning work stuff and calling people to get things organized before I show up at work tomorrow. I must remember to take out me-time. I know I can’t hop on a plane (or even a train) whenever I wish, but perhaps I could focus on enjoying my weekends more, making them less full of things to do and people to see and focusing on doing the things I want to do…as I want to do them. Life has been too busy lately.

Ok, rambling over…there’s a bowl of ogbono soup with my name on it and I’m off to find it.

Thank you for stopping by

God bless

THE 5 KG MIRACLE AND OTHER STORIES

I’ve gained 5 kg in the last 6 months. Yup! It’s a miracle; let me explain why. I’ve been basically the same weight for the last 13 years. There have been minor fluctuations – 2 kg gained, 2 kg lost…but I always go back to my equilibrium weight; may I add that this has usually happened without any effort of my own. (Allow me to take a minute to bask in the wonder of my miracle metabolism)

This is why this weight gain is a shocker. How do I now gain 5kg in 6 months? What on earth is going on? So yes I’m taking multivitamins now, and yes I tend to eat more regularly…but still, 5kg???

I should be elated, I’ve been attempting (rather half heartedly I must confess) to gain weight for years; however, when I finally weighed myself and saw the weight gain, my first thought was that I had an unknown metabolic situation that would now proceed to turn me into a butterball in the nearest future. I saw myself becoming one of those cheerfully round women who always used to look at me and say “I used to be skinny like you you know, then…I got married/had my first child/discovered pounded yam…etc”

I dashed off to the Auntie in the kitchen to share my concerns about the weight gain. Auntie chuckled with joy, waved my protestations aside and then told me to “let the will of God be done in this matter”…there was no non-blasphemous way to respond to that so I left quietly.

However, I’m still contemplating this gain…it looks good on me I’ve got to admit, but if I continue at this rate, by the end of next year, I’ll look like a basketball…that will not be good for business.

Well, for now, let me enjoy this, but I’m only allowing myself one more kilo before I will have to hold a strategic meeting with my metabolism.

 

POKO TINS

So Tonto Dikeh was the cause of most of the furore on the internet last week. Now, this is not a critique of her songs (I haven’t heard them), neither is it an opinion piece on the trend of actors becoming musicians (their lives, their business). What did get to me about the whole matter was the ease with which random people suddenly decided it was perfectly acceptable to rain so many insults on one human being. There were some funny jokes, but there were some very cruel comments, and it was a bit scary. Cyberspace grants us the relative anonymity to express ourselves without the usual societal constraints. However, it also makes it possible for people to register completely unwarranted cruelty on other people. It turns people into bullies, plain and simple.

From all I’ve heard, Tonto is someone people love to hate. She’s laughed at for her tweets, no one knows what POKO means and not everyone believes she should be acting. Nevertheless, she is still a human being, exhibiting the same world as we are, making a decision to live every one of her dreams. I don’t know Tonto personally; on twitter she comes across like she couldn’t care less about the comments people make about her, but even the most thick-skinned person in the world would surely have had one moment of hurt for all the comments she received.

Even if her singles were a massive flop, at least that’s one thing off her list of “Things I’d really love to do before I die”. Was her only failure in not being afraid to share her journey with the rest of Nigeria and the world? The rest of us have been blessed to make our mistakes in privacy, or within a network of family and friends…that is for those of us who are making an effort to live our dreams. There are still too many of us with cool stories of “if I just show you how good I am at …” who will never take the step to see whether we actually have a shot at the things we dream of doing. We will never take that step, but feel content to hide behind a computer screen and mock someone else for not being afraid to fail.

I hope I don’t sound combative, but I feel really deeply about this. At first I laughed at the jokes, found myself looking for the next comment; but then I found myself thinking…what are all the things I’ve always wanted to do but have always been too afraid to try? What am I doing to live the life I dream of?  How am I stirring up my gifts? It hit me pretty bad because for the last few weeks, I’ve been dealing with so many internal, external and supernatural pushes on using my gifts. I’ve had to admit that I don’t give my writing as much space and attention as I should; I still treat it like a hobby, writing when I’m in the mood; but expecting it to become a force of its own and earn me the recognition that I think it one day can. I’ve had to confess my laziness and carelessness to God and myself, and ask for help to discover, harness and release everything I have within me.

Tonto’s songs may never make a top ten list; but for one afternoon, Tonto Dikeh was probably the most talked about person in Nigerian cyberspace because she decided to take a chance. When are you going to take yours?

PS: By the way, Steve Harris teaches some very important life lessons using Tonto Dikeh’s foray into music. Check him out @iamsteveharris or search using the hash tag #LessonsfromTontoDikeh. You’ll gain a lot; I promise.

God bless.

 

BAIDAY TINS – PART 2

I’m not very good at talking about myself, and I almost changed my mind about writing this list.  First, it seemed to me to be very self-centred to spend an entire blogpost talking about oneself. Secondly, I’m not a fan of the spotlight, I’d much rather be in the shadows, oiling machinery and making sure the show runs smoothly. There is a certain vulnerability in coming out of the shadows, and I don’t like to be vulnerable. But life is about stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t it? It’s about opening our self-created safe areas and exposing yourself to the possibility of criticism and mockery but also the possibility that somewhere, there is someone who will listen to you and feel a resonance with you.

Anyway,*deep breath* so here goes. 10 facts about me; in no particular order.

  1. My native name is Obremeno…where I get the Meno in menoword from. The sentence means “People (or the world) would not have given me children”. I’ve always thought it was a rather cynical name until recently when I realised that this is perhaps what it truly means – People do not always wish the best for you – that’s life, however, your final outcomes are not dependent on people but on God
  2. My worst trait perhaps is the fact that I rarely chastise or point out when people wrong me. I believe everyone has a built-in barometer (or would that be thermometer?) that tells them when they are misbehaving and so, when people are cheating or hurting you or generally misbehaving, there should be a little bird that whispers in their ear that perhaps they shouldn’t. I keep quiet and wait for that bird to register its opinion, and I act based on my observations. Many of my friendships have quietly died or been re-appraised because of this. It’s not a perfect system, I have been wrong about people’s motives or actions as often as I have been right…I’m still looking for my balance.
  3. I did my NYSC in Zamfara. After camp, I hemmed and hawed about going back, until my parents called me one day and said “you have 2 choices about going to Zamfara – you can go with luggage or without luggage, but in 2 days, you’re going to Zamfara” So I went to Zamfara – with luggage thankfully, and it was an awesome experience. There is something about going back to a life that exists at its simplest. I pumped water from the well and talked to curious students about summer and winter. I watched traders ride past on their camels every Sunday as Tsafe woke up to market day. I sat outside at midnight and looked at a scene so bright in the cloudless midnight that it seemed like it was midday and the sun had turned to pure silver. I started to realise that God was not locked up in a church.
  4. I’ve had a rather conflicted relationship with God. I grew up in an ultra conservative church where trousers, dancing or hugging were not allowed. I felt like a fish out of water because I did not know why I felt this need to…rebel. I also grew up with a lot of guilt because I felt like I was constantly backsliding – all the things I wanted to do were considered wrong. I wavered between a reluctant, formal yet obligatory interaction with God to periods of desperate crying out because I couldn’t figure myself out. I longed for grace but knew only judgment. Little by little, God has started to show Himself to me. My biggest shock and the hardest to adjust to, is the realization that He not only knows that I am imperfect, but loves me still, has always loved me. The fact that anyone could love me so unconditionally still blows my mind. Oh and I wear trousers these days, I even wear jeans to church, makes it so much easier to dance.
  5. Unless I am in a particularly stubborn mood, I am impossible to argue with. It’s almost impossible to force me into a belief or frame of mind. I’m almost impossible to force – period. If the person speaking to me insists on pushing their point of view, I either make myself scarce or respond with a quiet non-answer impossible to refute or argue with. When I’m feeling particularly evil, I respond with a statement that will interpret along the lines of “I’m quite sure you think you’re right, and I am generous enough to let you continue to think that way, despite the fact that I know for certain that you’re wrong”. I’ve managed to condense this attitude into a particularly smug smile which drives people mad because…well, how do you argue with a smile?
  6. I’m not a fan of shopping. If I don’t see anything I like within the first 10 minutes, I either pick the first thing that fits, or give it up and leave. Shopping tires me out…literally. Being dragged along on a shopping trip will have me gasping for breath and looking for air after about 45 minutes.
  7. I love to sleep. Nothing makes me happier than sleep. I could sleep all day and sleep all night. Sleeping Beauty on Sleeping pills has got nothing on me.
  8. I don’t do social conversations – you know, the ones where you talk about the weather, fashion – all dem polite conversation things. I’m not good on answering questions about myself either. As a matter of fact, the quickest way to shut me up is to ask me too many questions about myself, my actions or my whereabouts; my answers get shorter and shorter and eventually I make like a Ninja and vanish. “Tell me about yourself” is in my opinion, the worst set of words ever cobbled together into a sentence.
  9. I had an experience last year that left me with emotional fallout so bad that one night, I found myself sitting under a street light at Gwarimpa junction at 2am. Although life has “tired” me many times, I have never before and since then been literally and totally tired of life. A car dropped off a young man at the junction and drove off. He started to head his way, noticed me and came to ask me what was wrong. I’m not sure I was very coherent. He answered that although he suspected that I was a spirit, he would rather let me kill him than allow me stay by myself there. I didn’t want company so I started to walk, intending to walk back to town. I missed the turn off and started heading towards Kubwa. The young man walked with me; told me his life story, asked to hear mine. I didn’t say much, just told him I was kinda hoping that the night would end with me in heaven. We walked like that for a long time – I was oblivious to where I was or where I was headed. After musch persuasion on his part, I finally agreed to get into a cab that dropped us off at Wuse market. I told the young man goodnight, gave him all the money I had on me and started walking again. I looked across the road and there he was, walking, keeping me in his sight, I crossed the road and yelled at him to go home, he told me he would go when I finally got into a cab. Fed up, I got into a taxi and zoomed off. I never saw the young man again.

10. God has major plans for my life. I don’t know what exactly, but I know that His hand covers me. That night, I could’ve been raped, kidnapped or murdered. That night I could have died…I didn’t. That night, I finally got it into my head that there was more going on in my life than me and my issues. I hit my rock bottom that night. I got to the end of myself. I literally had nowhere else to go – spiritually and emotionally. The funny thing is, in getting to the end of myself, I encountered the limitless reserve that is God Himself. I’m not the best Christian in the world, I don’t even think I’m a particularly good Christian, but surely I owe it to God to make the best of this life that He has given me and I intend to do my best – by His grace.

This has been hard for me to write. I don’t like to share so much of myself, but lately, I’ve found myself getting tired of so much of the plastic that seems to characterise our lives, this myth we perpetuate that we have no struggles. It seems to me that so many of us spend so much time looking right, we forget to check whether we are alright. I do a mean impression of perfect, I’ve lived that life – great on the outside but falling apart inside, empty, miserable. I’d much rather be real, show you the cracks and how they reveal the greatness of the Glue that holds me together.

So here’s to stepping into the spotlight, here’s to leaving the shadows, here’s to being vulnerable.

God bless you guys.

A LITTLE BIT OF A RANT

I’m truly sorry that I’ve been away for so long. I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks. Hope you and yours have been well

I’m deeply unhappy as I write; I’m almost heartsick. Nigeria is trying to break my heart. Over the last month or two, people on Twitter have been asked to raise almost 20 million Naira for 4 different people with different ailments. First it was #SaveOke, then #SaveFunmi, now we’re trying to #Save both Meka and Debbie; and all I can think is, where does this end?

For every Funmi or Debbie or Meka or Oke with enough media savvy friends to work to raise money to save their lives, there are millions of other Nigerians, suffering agony from one ailment or the other, waiting for death, with no one to start a #Save campaign for them. Where does it stop?

Why is it so hard for us to develop basic healthcare in Nigeria? Going to the hospital is no guarantee of a diagnosis, much less correct treatment. We have people in charge of this nation’s health, people whose jobs it is to craft policies that will make good quality healthcare available for all. Where are these people? How many Nigerians will die before our health sector gains the transformation it needs? How many more will we lose?

I was chatting with a friend about Debbie and she told me something that shocked me. She carries out a specific medical test routinely when she travels to the US for check-ups –I don’t remember the name, but it is a routine test for her age. She couldn’t travel for her check-up at some point and so went to a “good” hospital here in Nigeria to do her tests. Upon scanning her list of required tests, she noticed that this routine test was not on the list. When she asked her doctor why, he said to her “but you don’t need it, you’re ok aren’t you?”

I avoid hospitals like the plague. On one trip, I was admitted with a very bad migraine. The doctor did a blood test and prescribed malaria medication. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if the nurse on duty had not come in 5 minutes before to tell me that there had been no malaria parasites in my blood. On another occasion, I went to a hospital suffering an allergic reaction. I was prescribed malaria medication “just in case”, despite my assurances that I knew I didn’t have malaria. I endured 3 days of itching like a nutcase and liberally coating myself in calamine lotion till I looked like a Nollywood ghost. I count myself lucky. People have gone in for routine issues and did not come out.

I’m not here to claim that all hospitals in Nigeria are bad. There are several gifted and dedicated medical professionals and institutions that pride themselves on a job well done. But I must be honest; it seems to me that they are in the minority.

I’m tired of hearing that so-and-so equipment is not available in Nigerian hospitals. I’m sick of hearing that people are admitted for malaria and don’t come out of the hospital alive. I’m tired of hearing about misdiagnoses and various forms and variants of medical malpractice. It breaks my heart.

Our healthcare is one aspect of our inadequacies as a nation. We have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. People still die of cholera. Ghana has started to ask for yellow fever cards. Where does it stop?

Everywhere I look, I see disillusionment and cynicism from my compatriots and disregard from foreigners. I don’t know how to fix our healthcare system; I don’t know what it will cost, or what it will require. What I do know is that there are people who do know; where are they? There are people who can afford to set up world-class hospitals in Nigeria; where are they? Where are our NGOs and health advocates? Where are the people who know what is wrong and how it can be repaired?

President Obama believes we are the world’s next economic success story, and so I look around me – at bad roads, at epileptic power, and hospitals with neither doctors nor medication, at the waste of our natural resources and policies that no one bothers to explain to the average person.

I look around and fight the urge to weep. It’s hard to keep believing in the possibilities of Nigeria. It’s so hard.

How long will we #Save people? Until we become jaded and stop caring? Until someone decides that it would make a good scam and spoils it for everyone else?

How long will we continue to patch what is very obviously a very broken state of affairs?

When will we start the process to #SaveNigeria’s healthcare?