I AM CONVINCED
I AM CONVINCED…
As humans, we live our lives guided by certain norms, beliefs, superstitions; we learn not to make the same mistakes twice, we notice what works for us and use them subsequently to get positive results, we practice the rituals of our superstition before an event because we believe that it brings us good luck and not doing so to leads to failure… For example, when I was in secondary school, I would give my biro to the priest to bless for me the Sunday before my exams begin, on exam day I would kiss the pen and make the sign of the cross sometimes because I believe that the pen would magically bring me luck. It worked, not because the pen was magical but because I read and I was convinced that a pen blessed by the priest would bring me luck in exams. In my journey of this jigsaw puzzle called life, I am convinced that:
1. My imagination paints the brightest pictures: I have always had an active imagination. I imagined; what it would feel like to be the girl that Michael Jackson feel in love with, how my life would change if I accidentally got hit by the convoy of the governor, hitting the door hard so it could feel my pain just like in the cartoon beauty and beast, flying to Japan if I had the powers of superman, being the Jane that spider man really needed, falling in love with a wine maker from Italy, living in a Nigeria where there are not ethno-religious conflicts, where Africa has more vivacious and charismatic female leaders, where greed is not the driving factor of corruption and other anti-social vices. Sometimes the images were so vivid I could feel it, it made me work harder to see some of the things I imagined become a reality. I know for sure now that superman isn’t real, but it doesn’t stop me from flying from my bed to the floor, I know that a door is a non-living object that cannot feel, but it doesn’t stop me from using the heel of my shoes to hit it in frustration. I will always be a dreamer.
2. I am the greatest procrastinator: I procrastinate on everything; my rosary, my books, house cleaning, laundry, prayer, writing in my journal, applying to schools, submitting my C.V, waking up in the morning, organizing my desk at work, going to the market, etc. the only thing I do not procrastinate is food and sports. I wake up in the morning, but my body needs 20 minutes to pass the information to the rest of the motor sensors in my body that it is time to get up, I procrastinated on my school applications, now its November and I have to wait till next year to apply, I procrastinate on my morning prayers and before I know it its 5pm, I am honestly, yet to see an individual that exhibits my set skills of procrastination.
3. Men who beat their wives are beasts who should have their heads checked out: I do not understand why a man who marries a woman in front of God and his people would take that woman home and turn her into a physical fitness training object after a while. Any man, who physically or mentally abuses a woman, needs the help of God and a psychiatrist because he is mentally imbalanced. It is even worse when the couple have kids who watch their father regularly beat their mother. I was one of such kids, it was considered okay, a couple of family members will come around, talk to my dad, he would sit silently, not trying to defend himself nor trying to apologize for his actions. I was about 7 years old the first time I came home from private lessons to find the door locked, hearing my dad beat my mum all because she refused to clear the table after he had finished eating. The second time I was about 9 years old, it was a few days to Christmas, we were having dinner when I suddenly heard a loud scream coming from my parents bedroom, I rushed in to find my dad beating my mum like his whole life depended on it, it is the most horrifying sight I have ever seen, I found out later that he beat her up because another man had been eyeing her up in a sexual context, she didn’t encourage him, but he beat her because he was jealous. There is no excuse for a man to beat a woman, Self-control helps us to walk away, think with a clear head, calm down and take sane actions. My mother was stubborn and mentally strong, she didn’t cower in front of my dad, she spoke to him like an equal, the third time he tried to beat her, she broke a hot water flask on his head, that was the last time my dad ever hit my mother. Domestic violence is a part of African culture and it needs to go now!
4. The African youths are increasingly turning into self-righteous hypocritical monsters who have no value for law and human life: my mum and I were going to see a friend, we went to the bus-stop where we were supposed to board a bus to her friend’s house, as we were about to enter the bus, a woman raised an alarm that a thief had stolen from her. It was an object not worth up to N500, a group of touts gathered, got a hold of the culprit, beat him up, put a tire on him, poured fuel on his body and set him ablaze, I was about 6 years old when I saw this happen, this culture of jungle justice has spread over the years. The youths now practice it without remorse, what type of animals are we turning into when we take the lives of others in such savage manner. Who made us mini gods and gave us power over the lives of others? Have we not done worse than some of these people who we set ablaze without conscience or presence of morality? I have posted some links to some of these inhuman and monstrous acts, don’t view them if you do not have the heart for violence.
a. Four young boys innocently killed for allegedly stealing tech gadgets in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
b. Some young criminals burnt to death in Lagos, Nigeria.
c. Three women and a man beaten and burnt alive for what is believed to be based on accusations of witch craft
5. Books are the secret of knowledge: I love books; I always want to soak knowledge the same way I crave a cold bottle of coke with every meal. I have been reading books actively since I was seven, I discovered a whole new world behind the covers of these books, by the time I was leaving secondary school, I had read every medical, political and art encyclopedia including all the versions of the Encyclopedia Britannica up until 2004. It was awesome, learning new words, putting pictures in my head to the stories I read, learning new ways of life, finding out new innovations in science, books helped me dream when I was depressed, they helped me fly when I felt like I was being overwhelmed with my near state of poverty in Kabba, they gave my life a new meaning. Books hold the secret of all knowledge.
6. Poverty drives man to limits he didn’t know existed: Poverty, the single word with different definitions for different levels of economic growth. I grew up in the slums of Lagos; I saw what poverty did to people. When the only thought for the day is to feed six children with two meals, pay your rent at the end of the year and teach your children how to hustle for themselves as soon as possible so the bread winner doesn’t die before he is 45 years old from all the hard work and penny wages. The family has no dreams for the future, because they live in the present, education is always cut down after secondary school, and the circle restarts itself again. People steal, they kill, they fight in blood and they scavenge for hours in refuse dumps, all in a bid to keep starvation at bay for one more night. Poverty drives us to our lowest ebbs, its brings out the beast of survival in us, it forces us to experience emotions we never felt before, it pushes us to limits we didn’t know existed and it messes with our heads so many times we wonder just how long till we either die of hunger or the better live comes to our rescue.
7. In this life we fight for glory, money and heaven: I always imagined what it would feel like to have lots of people clap for me, to be the centre of attention, the pinnacle of success, the envy of my colleagues, the cynosure of all eyes; to have so much money I never have to worry about bread for breakfast or yam for dinner, because I know only the best awaits me. Every man wants the good life, we want glory, we want plaudit and we want so desperately to go to heaven. So we fight tooth and nail, we claw with our backs on the floor, we till the earth under the scorching gaze of the hot African sun, in a bid to make as much money as we can. Because money brings power, power brings glory and with glory comes recognition and respect. We give the largest offering, donate houses to the church, give massively to the poor, we don’t have time to pray, but we hope that the Lord sees our good deeds and reserves a space for us in heaven. It doesn’t work that way, but it doesn’t stop us from trying.
8. People change, time helps us forgive, but we never forget: When I was a kid I heard the saying ‘forgive and forget’ so many times I believed it with ease; as an adult I realize that the human heart has the capacity to forgive and to love as many people as possible, but forgetting is literally impossible, the only thing that happens is that time helps us grieve and takes away the hurt that comes from the thought of the wrong people have done to us. I have stopped trying to forget; instead I try not to reminiscence on past hurt but focus on amazing memories I have to create with those around me. People will always change, that is a constant, we just have to learn to adapt and move on with our lives when things do not work out the way we envisioned.
9. There will always be a few great men and a lot of ordinary people: My dad used to say to me, “Chima, why are you second position in your class this term? The person who got the first position, does she have two heads?” This was way back when I was in primary school, I strived harder to be first, believing that myself and the person who got better grades than me had the same I.Q, it worked in the small environment of my primary school, that was until I got into secondary school and I met some amazingly, brilliant individuals whose I.Q were far better than me and whose level of academic success I had no desire to attain. I realized everyone isn’t born to be a ruler, some people will serve, some will assist and others will rule. It’s the basic constant about human life. Lionel Messi is a diminutive footballer who possesses an increasing versatile set of skills that has developed him into the greatest footballer I have ever seen, there are other footballers who are good, but he defines the term excellence. Barack Obama is the first black leader of the U.S.A, he was handpicked by destiny to rule, others to be great pastors, phenomenal singers, talented actors, gifted artists, etc. The only thing that matters is that we find our gifts and use them to glorify God and make a difference.
10. I am Black, a woman and an African: All three descriptions place me in the minority, It makes it harder to get certain things that I want, it closes doors on some opportunities, shatters my dream for certain ambitions, but on the other hand, I feel celebrated, unique, blessed, chosen, gifted and thankful, this is my heritage and I wouldn’t have it any other way.