THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PRIVATE JETS AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

This weekend’s trending topic on Twitter is Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and his new private jet. If you haven’t read the story, you can read it here. Some consider this right, others wrong. For the purposes of this bit, I’m not as interested in the jet as I am about Nigerians and the fact that we are finally beginning to question, debate and argue the things we have always taken for granted.

Finally, we are beginning to explore people’s actions within the context of their function or office and we are beginning to validate or negate their actions based on these contexts. While there will always be some who will base their unquestioning acceptance on either “the Pastor is a man like the rest of us”, or “God says “touch not my anointed””, I am glad that there are some who are beginning to explore their beliefs and the reasons why they exist.

I’m not condoning insults, but when Nigerians – arguably one of the most religious people in the world, start to question their religious leaders, perhaps change is coming. The kind of change that will determine whether we will ever have a leader who we have elected based not on the fact that he is from our tribe, but based on the fact that we have explored and dissected his manifesto and plans and have declared them satisfactory. We have a bad habit of accepting that everything our leaders do is right, particularly our religious leaders. We listen to their CDs, do as they tell us do and create a way of life culled from the weekly sermons from the pulpit. Too many of us throw in our offerings not based on the fact that we seek to obey God, but in an almost talismanic effort to chase away poverty and gain wealth. And even though we cheat and lie our way through the rest of the week, even though we refuse to aspire and better ourselves, even though we have made no other investment to prepare our lives to be blessed, we nonetheless remain convinced that our seed will grant us wealth that we could never imagine.

I’m not asking us not to listen to our men and women of God, far from it; but perhaps it is time for us to let go of this unquestioning acceptance of everything we see or are told. It is a passive way of life that keeps us victims, that keeps us subject to the whims and caprices of those in authority over us. Paul preached to a group of people in a city called Berea, and the Bible tells us how they explored the Scriptures daily to see whether the things that Paul said were true. For many of us, our beliefs and principles are based on what Papa said in church last week Sunday; we could no more explain the basis of our beliefs than we could explain the theory of relativity. What is our church’s position on community service? Involvement with politics? What do our men of God believe? Why do they believe what they believe and more importantly, do those beliefs tie in with what we think or believe to be true? How many of us explore what we learn in church every day, seeking not only the promises that apply to us and our future prosperity, but how they relate to the Bible?

So it cheers me that people are asking questions. It cheers me that people are giving opinions and reasons for their beliefs. It cheers me that people are debating the merits and demerits of this private jet, with its implications for Christians and Christianity, especially in the context of Nigeria and our poverty/income level. It cheers me because as long as we continue to debate, to ask questions and to come to conclusions, we empower ourselves with knowledge. Not a jumble of words fed to an unquestioning crowd, but a well thought out and detailed meal offered to a discerning people. The more we ask questions, the more enlightened we will become. Until who knows, one day, we will watch Presidential debates where 2 aspirants have armed themselves with facts, plans and statistics; because they know that their victory will be based on their ability to convince 170 million people that they have what it takes to run a country. Perhaps one day, we will have leaders with proven ability, instead of the doubtful qualification of being from our local government area. If we continue to ask questions, one day, we will have Presidents that will take off their jackets and go into flood regions to hand out care packages to displaced people and thereafter, give a clearly thought out plan with strategies to ensure that such incidents never happen again. If we ask questions, one day, we will follow our electoral process with the same concentration and interest with which we followed the American elections, debating each point raised with its implications for our policies, polity and trade and with the satisfaction at the end of the day that the man elected to power was indisputably the best man for the job.

For Nigeria to ever become the nation that it can be, the nation that it has the potential to be, we must continue to ask questions. As we ask, our questions will become more relevant, more discerning, more in line with not only our realities but the future that we desire for our country.

I don’t believe that Nigeria’s revolution will be one fought on the streets; I honestly don’t think that it will follow from raised placards and chants. I believe that Nigeria’s revolution will be one of knowledge. When we begin to question everything that we have hitherto accepted as fact, and begin to make valid and balanced opinions based on the evidence before us and its relevance to us as a people.

So I’m excited about this private jet and all the questions it is raising. Who knows, we might eventually start to demand answers; the kind of answers that will usher in change.

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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.