Monday 24 October 2016

Thought Picnic: Challenging disabling traditions

Cutting loose
Tradition is a disabler, that makes deference remove the need for reference, and projects the need for respect over the necessity for retrospect.
The truth is lost in the sophistry of saving face such that the irritable elements of our culture entrenches entitlement without demanding responsibility.
Yet, there is no school of tradition or a college of culture, we are supposed to glean all the intricacies of norms, mores and comportment by osmosis, from observation or just the fact that we have forebears that held beliefs that we never were educated to imbibe, but must conform to.
Taboos exist that have no basis in fact, science or truth, apart from a list of don’ts, musts and commands. No matter how well-educated we are, we are never to challenge or question these age-old mysteries or we risk the wrath of some vague, superstitious and terrible outcome, the dread of which keeps us in line.
Excusing things
Caught between these conflicting demands of subservience and independence, we are rarely near where we can emancipate ourselves from the mental slavery and bondage of practising the worst of these subcultures over the beneficial parts.
From where the elder caught lying is given the bye and excuse that they can never lie to where certain reprehensible deeds are never discussed where the discussion in these times would definitely lead to a better resolution of issues.
We are constantly emotionally blackmailed by those who repeatedly find ways to enfeeble bold expression with required gratitude for what essentially is both their duty and responsibility. An aversion to these debilitating subcultures sets you up for being an outcast.
Self-preservation is key
The question then becomes; would we always subsume education and enlightenment to keep the cultural peace and barely get along under the false pretence that all is well?
It is without any doubt that many of these unresolved conflicts in relationships that tax the soul to the point of occasioning mental illness are the sources of stress, hypertension and worse.
Disengagement is a self-preservation ploy, little understood, but critical to personal wellbeing. The way we rationalise our actions and reactions are selfish modes of keeping ahead of the maelstrom of encumbering and damaging societal requirements.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Thought Picnic: Alone and thoughtful of the week passing

Collecting my thoughts
Alone at home with the opportunity to collect my thoughts at the end of a terrible week of sorrowful news, my therapy begins here.
Entrenched in our bunkers of grief at the passing of a sister survived by aging parents and much older siblings everyone is ensconced somewhere on the spectrum of the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief.
I cannot speak in any clarity of the reaction of others, but on receiving the news on Tuesday, I was quite shocked but not surprised. I understood to some extent the graveness of the diagnosis having had some doctor friends of mine independently assess the situation and offer a general prognosis.
In miracles of medicine
In view of that, I was already preparing myself for an eventuality against the hopes and anticipations of others who’s only fading desire was for a miracle. I do believe in miracles, miracles of human ingenuity that has come through amazing advances in knowledge and technology.
Human physiology, however, reacts in different ways to thought processing and medicine, the outcomes then determine by reason of speed and progress whether something miraculous has happened or not.
Respite and relapse are not miracles, remission might look miraculous, but we do have to look elsewhere for the underpinning elements of our unresearched assumptions of the miraculous. I have read of miracles, but I have seen no evidence of any from a conclusively scientific point of view.
Believing in human ingenuity
When I faced the prospect of a terminal prognosis from cancer some 7 years ago, I know when I stopped hoping for a miracle and went for the understanding and knowledge of medicine. They knew what the ailment was, knew how to treat it, but had a simple caveat, it all depended on how I could withstand the treatment, failing which, I would be dead in 5 weeks.
I survived and there is no doubt that medicine played a major part in that, but my ability to withstand the onslaught of chemotherapy was strengthened by my Christian faith. The end of the matter was that it took a considerably lesser time for the cancer lesions to heal and my doctors and nurses termed that miraculous. I accept that with much gratitude and thankfulness.
Failings of Nigerian healthcare systems
We had no such choices in the medical institutions in Nigeria, the sometime foremost teaching hospital could not conclusively determine the ailment and as they charged inordinate sums of money never did have the means or equipment to start any of the ameliorating treatments necessary whilst we sought a better medical opinion of the real situation.
On knowing what the situation was, there were different forces at play, from the desperate and imposing to the rational and pragmatic, within that dynamic more confusion took hold over the need to coalesce and communicate. Browbeaten by a system that demanded trust without question, there were splits in decision-making and consequently, division leading to rancour.
On choices, outcomes, and reactions
The principal in the matter rarely had a say in whatever outcomes were proposed even though she had in no uncertain terms clearly indicated what her choices were. I probably was too understanding about what she was adamant of and accepting of that viewpoint that she was no more fighting and so I did not press an alternative or find the need to persuade otherwise.
Beneath the whole thing, I was very angry and very sad, angry that so much could have been better managed long before it became critical, angrier that the more primitive of passions ruled over the rational mind in the many syncretic rituals that were supposed to have put this whole matter at bay decades ago.
I was apoplectic with rage at the absence of the support for the discipline necessary to help the infirm. There is no doubt that I was both cross and angry with the matriarch, her influence over many issues made it literally impossible to pursue a rational line of thinking and ideas. I was sad, that the end was nigh.
For her honour and memory
Yet, in the aftermath of all this, I am supposed to let bygones be bygones and seek some sort of resolution towards reconciliation. It is going to be difficult, yet, we must hope that something good would come out of this, in honour of the dearly departed and hopefully as a sign of respect and tribute to her short but eventful life.
It is still very raw, and whilst I am well past denial, I am still deep in anger and feeling somewhat depressed, I cannot yet see the light at the end of the tunnel called acceptance. The dead never need worry about these things anymore, the living, however, have a duty to ensure that the dead are not forgotten in the swirl of our petty differences.

Friday 21 October 2016

Thought Picnic: A dreamy page of a family saga

On watchful note
There is a picture seared in our minds of domination, terror, and servitude, demonstrated in their control and discipline of others that filled us with fear and trembling.
Those images came into my slumber that ran like a film cast into my childhood ready to replay with a horror that had exemplified what we had become in relation to how we were reared.
An offence there, and error here and they as prosecutor, judge and jury had passed judgement to carry out a nondescript and arbitrary sentence with the whetted appetite of an executioner in his prime.
From the recesses
In the other room, the altercation had begun with some I thought were mine, a pummelling with the rod, to inflict and to humiliate, consuming us with a feeling that our turn would soon come.
It did come to the first three of us, as we were stirred from slumber by the typical monologue of the patriarchy as he like a director of a filmset began to sketch out his thoughts and his intentions, a louvered contraption was constructed before our eyes before suddenly two rods were extracted, the rods that looked wickedly brutal beyond the ones that were once not spared in their quest not to spoil the child.
We were offered choices, hands, backs or any other place, and we were to expect the very minimum of 10 each. Was I going to allow this unjust collective punishment to happen?
My eyes saved
Ten each, so we were to moderate our squeals of pain so that she who was already dealing with the others will not think she was being outplayed in the sadomasochistic stakes that they had perfected in a double-act on me many years before where all he said when he ceded control to her was, “Mind his eyes.” That was how I remembered their depth of love, in the care of my eyes, but maybe in another story, the needed care for my eyes was never given.
My mind in flux, about to plead innocence and extricate myself from the terror to be unleashed on an undecided part of my anatomy, the third laid out her hand and received a violent lash, the piercing sound of agony jolted me back into the present.
Not tonight
There was not going to be a struggle when he headbutted me that I fell backwards, I calmly told him, “Not tonight, you can go to your room now.” I took his accoutrements of torture off him and he went away.
That was where it ended and where it should end. Sadly, our meetings are still of monologues and entitlements, the inability to impose upon as before has seethed into grudges engendering estrangement. Amid our grief, we have ensconced ourselves in our bunkers whilst everyone wonders if we’ve gone bonkers. The unspoken truth is no one does dysfunction the way we do it, without class, without care, without concern and almost without consequence.
Let’s flip another page in this saga called family.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Oluwafeyikewa - Our Little Mummy

I am numb in ways I cannot express,
Like a part of me has gone under duress,
A part that had affinity and extremity,
Now swirling the midst of eternity.

Feyike: 04-Nov-1982 – 18-Oct-2016

Saturday 15 October 2016

Nigeria: The aftermath of "She Belongs In My Kitchen"

Politics takes in the family
Politics is a very engaging business for both the individual and their immediate family. It is almost impossible to divorce the immediate family from the effects and consequences of an individual entering politics.
The politician will almost definitely have a public life, it is usually unlikely except in a scandal for anyone to see into the home life and how the dynamic in that setting dictates, controls or affects how a politician operates.
However, we have gotten used to seeing the politician’s spouse espouse causes dear to their hearts on the one hand and sometimes to soften the hard politician’s stance to the wider world.
In many places, politicians do not seek public office without the consent and support of spouse and family, it is hopefully in recognition of the reality that seeking office does cause some sort of upheaval in their close-knit setup. Some have on the advice of their families withdrawn from politics to cater to their immediate family and renew bonds.
A politician’s wife with views
In Nigeria, we have had our share of the politician’s spouse, some uppity, some intrusive, some menacing and an atrocious assault on our democratic values, arrogating to themselves power to the status of their spouses and abusing their position peddling influence with reckless abandon, yet, this does not apply to all spouses, many who go by the moniker of ‘first lady’, to decline to licence for titles less commendable.
It is in view of this that one can understand when Aisha Buhari the spouse of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gave an interview to the BBC. She expressed concern about how the political maelstrom around her husband manned by people they neither knew nor could trust was making her husband’s political agenda ineffective.
To which end, she suggested that if things continued in this manner, she will not support if her husband chooses to contest, a re-election quest. [Aisha Buhari – BBC]
On a global stage
In the Nigerian society, these are strong views, yet, in my first comment about this, I suggested it appeared pillow talk was no more effective to bringing an obdurate man to understand concerns the family had, that the media might well be acquainted with that frustration.
Yesterday, as the news media took its soundbites from Aisha Buhari’s forcefully independent opinions Muhammadu Buhari was on a state visit to Germany. He could not have been oblivious of his spouse’s interview and I would have expected that his media team and advisers would have intimated that the world press in Germany might well broach the subject.
If Muhammadu Buhari were visiting Germany for a purpose, it would have been incumbent on them not to let any other issue overshadow that purpose and be on the trajectory to a successful state visit with the world press concentrating on that. They fell at the first hurdle.
The joke in the other room
With Muhammadu Buhari standing beside the foremost female politician in the world, Angela Merkel, he was asked about his wife’s views in that BBC interview. Given a global stage, President Buhari mustered all the patriarchy and chauvinism he could at the expense of wit, tact, diplomacy or even common-sense and let rip an anachronistic embarrassment of verbiage.
I don't know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” He said, amongst other things about his political struggles, his losses, his victory and his opponents. Angela Merkel, if we could have read her mind might have been thinking in German, “Warum habe ich stimme diesen Chauvinistenschwein zu treffen?” [Muhammadu Buhari – BBC]
A very sad analysis
For me, there are many angles from which to view Muhammadu Buhari’s comments, but I see a wider consequence of expressing such views on a global stage and it led me to ask a few questions on Twitter, because I already knew that the main takeaway from this Nigeria-Germany summit would be, “She belongs to my kitchen.”
The widest implication and consequence of Muhammadu Buhari’s comment can only be encapsulated in the next tweet.
The deeper ramifications
Nigeria has many girl-child disadvantages and challenges, we still have almost 200 Chibok Girls abducted by Boko Haram in captivity for over 2 years, girls are getting abducted, religiously converted and pressed into matrimony by paedophiles and there is no criminality imputed. [Premium Times]
The problem here is this septuagenarian in a changing world failed to lead and chose to follow patrimony and by his pronouncement that some have dismissed as a jocular retort, some men will decide there is no need to invest in their girls if the leader of the 7th most populous nation in the world believes the woman belongs in the kitchen, the living room, and the other room.
The attempt at a joke here was the use of ‘the other room’ instead of ‘bedroom’, but the ramifications are deeper than that and that is why there is no excuse that can excuse what Muhammadu Buhari said in Germany.
Our culture expects the elderly to be smart, wise, wily and tactful, let us not let fealty to the man obscure the grave errors of the man.
Let’s do better
Now, I am not advocating that there should be no gender roles in the home, but a home life is only part of the total makeup of both the man and the woman. A lot is lost in the wealth of nations when only the patriarchy can decide who has opinions and whether they can be expressed so independently in public.
We must emancipate ourselves beyond this and give equal opportunity to a fulfilled life of achievement to everyone regardless of status, gender, beliefs, culture, traditions and unfortunate anachronistic views expressed by visionless leaders.

Monday 10 October 2016

Thought Picnic: Playing the lottery of the commons

Irritating questioning
At a recreational place last weekend, when taking a break in the lounge, I got engaged in a conversation through an app as to my whereabouts and so on.
As it transpired, my inquisitor on learning of where I was, then enquired as to whether the place was busy and on my response was ambivalent about coming or not. In the process, the many questions included fickle stratifying elements on age, looks, interests and prospects, the whole exchange began to have an irritating quality to it.
Then I suggested that if everyone waited for a venue to have a perfect crowd to meet all requirements and considerations, no venue would have patrons. Essentially, everyone by their own agency has to decide to attend a place for it to become lively.
Our part in the commons
We are as individuals contributors and consumers of the buzz any venue generates, whether it then becomes an enjoyable experience is not one guaranteed. We anticipate and hope that the atmosphere would gel with us and from it might come memorable pleasures.
The common good that is a reason of a common purpose driven by an individual desire expects that we participate and engage without selfishly taking out of the system when we have contributed nothing.
For every venue, there is always a first arrival and there is the last, in between, there might be leavers, but for the duration in which the venue is actively receiving patrons, one can expect that the atmosphere would probably build up, climax and then begin to fade as people leave.
It is about people of which you are one
It takes people to give a place life, in a recreational centre, in a club, in a restaurant, at a concert, in a stadium, in a place of worship or anywhere people congregate out of free agency in the quest for an experience.
Yet, we find people who rely on the initiative of others to fulfil their narrow pursuit of happiness. This concept does not just apply to attending places, there is a common good in areas where people have the awareness of others, those who walk the pavements, their attention and eyes glued to their mobile phones oblivious of others inadvertently expect others to be cognisant of their presence. Now, if we all buried our heads in my devices, we would all be bumping into each other on the pavements.
Freedom and consideration
The same applies to those who litter the public spaces, if we all did that rather than use the refuse bins, our public spaces would not only be unsightly, but unusable too.
Your freedom, much as it is cherished and defended must not encroach on the freedom of others, your temple loudspeakers causing noise pollution towards non-adherents of your beliefs, but put upon by your devotion is antithetical to engendering a community spirit, just as those leaving places of entertainment must be aware of the neighbourhood not to cause an unnecessary disturbance.
In the quest for personal freedom and pleasure, our community relies on the consideration of the majority including ourselves to be aware of the other and act responsibly, without this, we exhibit anti-social tendencies and lead our societies towards chaos and disorder.
Get in to get something out
Part of what makes the ambience is what we bring to it in our presence and our engagement, though many have missed out on that experience because they expect a readymade joy ride and cannot convince themselves of the fact that participation is integral to the scheme of things.
It is like a lottery, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but one thing is for sure, you have to participate in the lottery for you to ever have the prospect of winning. If you are not playing, there is no chance of winning.
Get out and play, you might just find what you are looking for.