Blog, Diaspora Diary., FEATURES

Diaspora Diary: To Be A Man…

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. ~ Michael J. Fox As a growing kid, my dad always gave me pep talks on how to become a responsible and successful man. More than once he ended the talks with one line; “Ayichaa ka ara fhulu ulo, ayia ka ara fhulu ogalanya”. It means that friendship will be according to age as you grow but it will later be determined by success. The lucidity of this statement wasn’t exactly grasped by my juvenile mind then but it is a line that nevertheless remained engraved in my subconscious. As a young adult thrust into the hectic terrain of the Nigerian oil business when I lost my dad at 21, I mostly related with older men who had years of business experience. The wisdom I gained is invaluable. In Lagos, I had a boss who wasn’t much older even though he was almost at the peak of his career then. I would visit him in the office and we’d chat about business, life and politics. On this particular day, I was going home from work and decided to pop in. He was staring out of the window overlooking the sprawling and ever-busy Victoria Island Lagos. After the usual pleasantries, we got talking and at one point he said, “I wish I could fly over this traffic to the welcoming embrace of my loving family”. I could feel him. Lagos traffic can be debilitating. With a wry smile, I told him to be calm since he just left them in the morning. He said “Well, my wife just left here a few hours ago”…and continued about how much he would have loved to have his family around him at work, at home and everywhere. I can’t be too sure now but I think I said he can imagine my situation. He’s aware that my family lives in Ireland. As we talked about family and the joy they bring he asked a question that triggered what I now consider a life-changing introspection. “ When last did you see your family Cmoni?” I replied that I couldn’t be exact but that it’s been at least 3 months. Then he asked another question I would remember for the rest of my life. “How do you cope?” Initially, the question didn’t sound too weighty because I smiled and said I speak with my family daily. Moreover, I visit regularly too. Sometimes twice, thrice a year and when I can’t bring them home for Christmas I rarely spend it without them. With a resigned look he told me he couldn’t possibly cope in my shoes. As I drove home that night I thought about our chat. Here is a man who is at the very top who could have anything, nice clothes, fancy cars and so on. He goes on vacation to the best spots yet his top priority isn’t money. It is his family. I remembered my father’s pep talks. Can I possibly claim to be responsible and successful if I don’t actively and fully play my role as a father? Yet living abroad was not my immediate or future consideration. I could move my family back home of course. After all, the initial plan was to give our child a second citizenship. My wife only stayed back because she was offered a path to naturalisation. On second thought the benefits of having European citizenship surpassed those of living in Nigeria. When a friend asked me what would put food on the table after I informed him about my plans. I replied that I would be visiting every quarter to oversee my businesses. He said, “Cmoni it is time to build”. Again, I thought about this statement hard and long. Relocation could trigger a mid-life crisis for me. I mean who would effectively run my businesses? What would I be doing abroad? 9–5 wasn’t an option because I needed some flexibility to travel often. However, I was relieved after some research. I realised that significant changes and accomplishments made early in life can prevent a mid-life crisis. In Igboland, your foremost responsibility as a man is to your family. The resources you should deploy to provide for them go beyond money. To provide counsel, affection and protection you must devote your TIME. Following all the musings I concluded that for now, ‘building my family’ was more important than ‘building my business empire’. The reason for this is simple. You can always build an empire at any time but if you miss parenting and the bonding that a single roof provides especially during your kids’ teenage years, you can never recover it. Hard decisions are often the best. So, on the 15th of January 2015, I relocated. For a man who, barring a few years in the UK, had lived his entire adult life doing business in Nigeria, it was indeed life-changing. All the same, my family was already well settled in Ireland. And with my versatility, I could easily adapt anywhere. I had things planned, or so I thought… Yet, it is one of my best decisions. If you enjoyed this please share it. You can also hit the follow button and join our cmonionline community of digital creatives let’s grow together. Thanks for reading.

Blog, Poetry, Writers

My Father: A Poem by Emmanuel Enaku

As I sit here, trying to string in words, my memories run wild, Going into overdrive because of what you meant to me. You were an embodiment of virtue, my friend and paddy. You were my strength and my everyday inspiration – Through you, I saw a better version of me. Your words numbed my worries — my pain and frustrations. Your voice was always soothing, a healing balm to my wounded soul. Kyita, you represented everything I aimed to attain. My role model — an embodiment of masculinity, you were. Humility and sociability were outstanding qualities you possessed. Oh, kyita! When the world was cold, you provided sufficient warmth. When I was unsure, you gave me clarity. When I was broken, your gentle pat on my bare back – Was a reliable adhesive for my broken pieces. Osofo Adaduro! Mesuga Ehalelo! Sweet father! You gave me fish and taught me to fish. You provided my needs and showed me how to do same. Your love and support had no end. You taught me to be strong and brave; To never give up and always be true You taught me the value of responsibility. Oh, my father, my hero, my rock! You were by my side through thick and thin. You guided me through life’s maze, With wisdom and patience, you always knew. Your words were strong and freshly baked, You instilled strength with every word you spoke. The pride in your eyes and firm handshakes when I succeed, Your firm grip on my arms and comforting hugs when I stumble. You were my compass, my light in the night. You motivated me to strive, to reach for the sky. You showed the way with your own wisdom and love. Your hard work, modesty and generosity still have no rival. You captured my heart from the start, Before the time I knew how to say your name. You showed me what is wrong and what is right, Your instructions have been a detailed map. What should be my praise of you, Nnayi? What would I praise you for? I am left confused because your every quality was a treasure, You were a scarce and priceless jewel. What should be my praise of you? Would it be your work ethics? Or your heightened sense of responsibility? You were just perfect, the best among the best. My father, the social lion! You were always so lively in our conversations, With wit and sometimes with guile, you set me laughing. You sense of humour was beyond compare; You were quick with a joke, a master of fun. Everyone loved you, you were number one – So full of glee, you were a sight to see and a wonder to associate with. To my father, a man of love and grace, I’ll forever be grateful for all you’ve done; Not just to me but our family as a whole. You were our anchor when the seas were rough, You were there through it all. I am your son, we are always as one Without you, I wouldn’t stand tall. I Love you with all of my being.

Blog, Creative Essays, Writers

Who Is Buchi’s Father by Becky Peleowo

  Ndidi leaned on the steel parapet railing of the Third Mainland Bridge. The chilly breeze that waved across her made her feel lightweight. Suddenly she felt a compelling force beckon her to the vast water below. She did not drive to the bridge but had walked from her home to this renowned spot on the Island, where many lost souls have given up their minds and bodies to the open arms of the Lagoon. “ Madam, are you okay?” a well-meaning pedestrian stopped to ask. The muscular, towering man looked like one who was ready to bundle any insane pedestrian away. There had been a series of suicides and suicide attempts on that bridge so, people were on the lookout for any depressed individual choosing to jump into the Lagoon as a suicidal option. Ndidi nodded slowly in response and the man reluctantly walked away. The man had not seen her bloodshot eyes that had reddened from too many tears. Looking to the left, then to the right to make sure that there was no one close by, she placed her left leg on the first line of the railing, and almost immediately, the tyres of an SUV came screeching close by. A woman in a hijab jumped out of the car and yanked her off the railing. “What are you doing, Madam?” “I don’t know… I don’t know…just let me die. “ Ndidi wailed. The woman held onto Ndidi. Some other people had joined them. One plantain chips hawker brought out his phone to make a video recording. The woman in a hijab who seemed experienced with cases like this, consoled Ndidi. The onlookers were already making conjectures as to the possible reason for her suicide attempt. “Na so one man jump de oda day.” A woman from a public bus whispered to another passenger in pidgin. “Ehn, I heard about it too. They said he owed someone a million naira and he couldn’t pay back.” “Chai! Na wa o! That was how one man jumped in last week when the girl he had sent to school with his hard-earned money refused to marry him.” The woman from the public bus seems to have read too many suicidal stories. The woman in a hijab kept rocking Ndidi in her arms as she sat on the floor of the bridge close to the railing and some kind passers-by joined in encouraging the depressed woman. “Aunty, who is Buchi’s father?” Ndidi asked trying to speak for the first time since she was rescued. “I don’t know who is Buchi’s father. I know I slept with Donald but he isn’t Buchi’s father. Uzor thinks I’m lying. He thinks Donald is Buchi’s father. The DNA test said Uzor is not Buchi’s father and I’m sure Donald is not Buchi’s father but no one believes me. Everyone says I’m a prostitute. Aunty, I am not a prostitute.” The woman in a hijab assisted Ndidi to stand so she could take her in her SUV to a safe place. Some onlookers started protesting about who she might be. “I am an officer of the Rapid Response Squad here in Lagos. I was going to have lunch when I noticed that she was about to jump. She will be fine with us.” The doubts of fear erased, she sped off ensuring that she used the child lock so that the poor woman would not attempt to jump off her car. Ndidi cared less. Her shoulders were drooped, her head was bowed in dejection and her once beautiful face and lips were swollen from excessive crying. Her feet were bare and some of her long nails were broken. Mucus dripped constantly from her nose. It’s been two days since Ndidi’s suicidal attempt. Looking through the window, she wondered what day it was. The sun seeped in as she opened the curtains and she shielded her eyes from its rays. The bed she was lying on was very comfortable but she did not feel comfortable. Her head ached badly as she tried to recall where she was and what she was doing there. The events that happened in the past few days all kept coming back to her. She could see the images on the immaculate walls of the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit they admitted her to. All the events were like passing images projected on the walls. On the wall was the image of Uzor asking her to be his wife. Another image showed how they got married traditionally and in the church. Yet another one showed the day she stormed into the hotel room where Uzor was having a nice time with his ex. It was the same month they had married. Ndidi and Uzor had the same AS genotype and had decided they would conceive through In-Vitro fertilisation to help them choose a child who had the AA genotype. Ndidi saw the image of how the elders in the family begged her not to leave Uzor and to return from her mother’s house to his home. Another image showed how she had cried in the arms of Donald, her childhood friend, and how he had sweetly made love to her. Donald had liked her a lot but it was Uzor who sponsored her university education. She knew that picture was out of place because she was still married to Uzor when this event happened. Her kinsmen had said she should not have slept with another man even when she was separated from Uzor. They said she should have forgiven him and returned to his house. Ndidi could not but think of Nneoma Wokemba’s “Our husbands died, but not our libidos.” She was not a widow but society often justifies a man’s adultery over that of a woman. Women do have libidos and they can become weak too. But she forgave him. That was why she had cut ties with Donald and returned to their home. She had even told Uzor about the incident

Blog, Essays, Monishots

How A Father Should Raise His Son.

There are no cast-iron rules for raising a child and what works for you may fail another. However, every rational person will agree that beating a child repeatedly is abusive and detrimental to his well being. Having a child is a right but raising one is a responsibility and the best training a father can give a son is to live by example.

Essays, Writers

Awakening The Fathers’ Dream by Saberedowo Oluwafisayo.

In recent times, the call for restructuring the nation has become louder than ever before. Well-meaning Nigerians including professors, public affair analysts, political and economic experts within and outside the country are now calling for the restructuring of the nation. While some see restructuring as a bailout from the projected doom’s day of Nigeria’s economy, others are demanding the shot to avert political bigotry and corruption that currently rule the political space. No matter the side of the story we may choose to identify with, Nigeria, as we have it today was never in the state that the founding fathers foresaw. Back in 1960, Nigeria was a new nation with the potential to be among the world’s leading power thirty years down the line.  She was the giant of Africa and a potential seat seeker among the advanced nations of the world. This was what made the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, and the host of others fought for her independence. They were of the opinion that the nation cannot reach her world-class potential in the hands of the Whites. Therefore, in order to prevent the vine owners from settling down for sour grapes, these heroes became restless, placed their lives on the line, and forged ahead in harmony to demand a nation we could truly call our own. It’s 60 years now, but Nigeria, the nation of promise with the projected future wallow in the quagmire of backwardness and corruption. Indeed, the Nigeria of today in light of the founding fathers’ dream can best be described as a hijacked plane with a dead pilot on air! We cannot deny the abundance of natural resources God has blessed us with as a nation, neither can we deny the human resources raised on our soil who after being rejected at home now hold the world stage in different countries. The call for a better Nigeria is therefore justified if we must make progress as a nation. However, restructuring is not the way out. No matter how appealing it may look, restructuring will only amount to taking poison in the guise of a cure. This is because even with restructuring, the nation would only fare as far as the leaders allow her to go. Restructuring the nation does not eradicate corruption from her political sphere. In fact, any attempt to restructure the nation without good governance first will make corruption and favoritism grow wings like never before. Giving in to devolution of 60% of power to the states or going back to regionalism as some had opined would amount to a speed in the wrong direction. Such efforts will be tantamount to giving corrupt officeholders a higher chance to feed their greed. These bad eggs will go on to amass the region’s wealth as private property while backing it with constitutions that would be formulated to silence their critics. The consequence of this would be regional stagnation and development ratio that is based on the level of corrupt office holders in each region. This means that each region would develop based on the sincerity and greed quotients of her leaders. Such loop-sided developments would in turn foster coups and unrest in affected regions. Moreover, restructuring Nigeria can lead to secession. A region that becomes dissatisfied with federal ruling can easily cave herself into an independent nation. Already, Nigeria today is riddled with many voices crying out for secession. Recently, a group of dissatisfied Yoruba’s from the West lent their voice to the creation of Oduduwa Republic, the cry for Biafra has also been raging since the time of the civil war. Any shot at restructuring will strengthen these resolves and Nigeria may finally be divided into three different nations. If restructuring could cause so enormous harms as these, then it is best we unify our voices and demand for good governance. After all, the problems we face as a nation today have their roots in years of bad governance. At this tense period when there seems to be no hideout for oppressors and political tyrants, thanks to the invisible whip of social media and international human rights concern groups, restructuring is the last card our corrupt politicians will want to play to remain perpetually in power. They have switched political parties and gave empty manifestoes for so long. Now it has dawned on them that the citizens are not buying the lies anymore. Restructuring has become their only hope to tarry in power a little longer. The time has come for the masses to arm themselves with their constitutional right to peaceful protests. Democracy allows the electorates to demand accountability and transparency from those voted for. Corrupt politicians should be made to face the full wrath of the law. They should be impeached and made to serve jail terms as the law demands. Sanity should be restored to the political space and the constitutions revisited. The nation belongs to the people and only politicians with true love for their country should be allowed to contest ever again.   Saberedowo Oluwafisayo, a 500L student of Physiology, LAUTECH is a poet, content writer, word coach, and blogger at physzy.com. He wrote in via sabshayo@gmail.com

Essays, Writers

Through A Father’s Gaze by Johnson Onyedikachi.

  It was a moderately sunny Wednesday noon. Just the kind of climate that gave one the confidence of stepping out of the house for one’s businesses without the fear of being bedraggled by rain, or being burnt by heat. Very early in the morning, my father had given me a thousand naira bill to get him a bunch of unripe plantain.   He also gave me the instruction of making a porridge out of the unripe plantain and he left for his store where he sold electrical appliances. Due to his health, he had been on diabetic foods since mid-September last year.   When I was done with scribbling the poem that I was inspired to write, I left the house, intent on purchasing the unripe plantain for my father. To my rudest shock, I got to the trader’s store only to find out that the bill my father had given me was missing. I groped my pockets and even turned them inside out, searching for holes through which the money might have fell, but I found nothing of the sort.  I couldn’t believe that a twenty-year-old like myself could be so careless with money, and I was sure that the trader from whom I intended to buy the plantain from was also gravely disappointed. She had every reason to be; I was not going to buy the plantain from her anymore. I explained to her that I had lost the money I was given, but that I would return if ever I found it. With that, I left her store and walked back to our house. I rummaged the rooms in search of the bill, but there was no sign of it.   I knew my father would not be happy to hear such a news. In fact, he would be enraged and nag me for the rest of the day. How much I hated working him up! Soon too soon, even tide came upon us and my father was home, holding his walking stick in one hand and a bag in another. I hurried up to him and took the bag, uttering a greeting to him. He returned the greeting with a hearty smile. He looked happy.  The bag had fruits in them: oranges, a full watermelon, and pineapple. I smiled and took the bag to the kitchen, carefully taking out its contents and placing them on a tray. I returned to the sitting room where my father sat on a couch, eyes closed. I tapped him awake and asked how his day went.  “Very blessed,” he beamed. “Someone paid the debt he owed me.”  “That’s good news, Papa!” I smiled and sat on a couch opposite the one he sat. I was thinking hard about  how I could break the news of the lost money to him.  “That’s the best news, son,” he replied and took the case of toothpicks that was on the centre table. He took out one of the picks and began to chase holes in his teeth.  “Papa, tomorrow is Independence Day. How are we celebrating it?” I asked him. I didn’t want to get started with the bad news immediately.  He chuckled. “Is it worth celebrating?”  “Of course! Let’s go out and have fun that day,” I suggested.  “You know when I was younger,” he began to say, the toothpick still in his mouth. “Independence Day in Nigeria was more relevant than what it has been made to be today. It was not a day to catch fun, but a day in which we had reflections. Then, over the radiogram, I would hear the Head of State making an official statement about our dear country’s problem. We still do the same today. Those problems are still with us. I know it is a good thing to inherit something from your predecessor, but you should discard any bad behaviour from your ancestor and carve a better niche for yourself. Don’t you agree?”  At this time, I was slightly distracted from what my father was saying. I was looking for dirt in my fingers.  “Kachi, are you paying attention at all?” My father asked.  “Yes sir,” I affirmed looking up at him. “I agree with what you are saying.”  “Almost every one who got the chance of ruling this precious country made the promise of building good roads. We are turning sixty by tomorrow, and all the agenda we have had is to build good roads. Now, tell me: how long do you think at most it would take to tar the road that leads from this house to the main road?” He asked. That was typical of my father. He scarcely enjoyed a discussion if he was the only one doing the talking.  “My friend who lives at the 4th Avenue said that it took the constructors 3 days to finish tarring the road.”  “Those constructors are lazy. The ones that tarred the road to the Main Market did it in one day. The point I am trying to make is: it doesn’t take so much as sixty years to have major roads in this country tarred. Yet, many of our major roads are hardly tarred and every single political agenda we ever had has included the construction of roads,” my father said.  He paused, picking his teeth for a while before continuing, “Listen, what my friend paid me today was thirty thousand naira. If I had such a sum about fifty years ago in this country, I would have been among the richest in my community. Where has our value gone?”  “Papa, you are just bitter,” I told my father. “That is the more reason we have to go out and catch some fun tomorrow.”  “Are you independent?” He asked me and took the pick out of his mouth. He narrowed his gaze on me; those two hooded, black eyes of his searching me out.   “Papa, what do you mean? I am only twenty,” I protested, pouting my lips.  “I am not nagging you, but you have a girlfriend, don’t you?” He asked, raising his eyebrows.  Hesitantly, I nodded. Papa leaned back against the leather chair, his hand returning the pick into his mouth.  “And you take three bottles of beer a day,” he said.  “In two days,” I interjected quickly.  “Nigeria’s yesterday is lost. No matter how we bend knees and pray to have the past back, we wouldn’t come close to reliving a bit of yesterday. Never!” Papa said, the last word falling off his lips a bit louder than other words. 

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