Archive for July, 2013

Report Abuse Button on Twitter Campaign?

July 30, 2013

This landed in my inbox today

Add a Report Abuse Button to Tweets

I wish I could have a button in real life that would make abuse go away. While I get the arguments for this button I’ve heard some critics say the button itself will end up abused. When I meet someone abusive on Twitter I report, block and move on

Of course I have not experienced as much twitter abuse as Caroline Criado-Perez did so I won’t be too quick to say how I would respond if I had numerous strangers threatening to rape me or whether I would still think existing protocols are adequate.

Still I don’t know, I’m not convinced. Can anyone help me here for or against?

Katie Kaye (I)

July 29, 2013

She was incongruous. She was born in 1916 to a Ghanaian father and an English mother. Her father died when she was 8 and her mother sent her to grow up with nuns. She was a true believer, salvation lay with the Lord and she needed to be a true believer to retain her cheerful and open spirit living in racist unforgiving early 20th century England

Her mothers family rejected them both, a half negro child was more than they could deal with. So she never knew her grand parents or her aunts and uncles and they never asked about her. The schism was final and irrevocable. When her mother died many years later they wouldn’t come for the funeral but she didn’t care, she brought all her Nigerian husbands relatives to fill the church pews and the grave side seats.

She was an exceptionally bright child and she did really well in school much to everyone’s surprise. Because she was half black it was generally expected that she would be half witted too. As a result she was constantly tested and scrutinized for some mental flaw, intellectual deficiency or nervous predisposition, constantly compared with the white children she went to  school with.

Rather than dampen her spirits the scrutiny made competitive and she studied ahead of her class so she could prove to them that she wasn’t intellectually or mentally deficient. When she prayed for God to use her to shine the light upon her teachers and her fellow students, to help them see through her that black people were not different from white people after all.

When they teased her and called her names in the shower she restrained the urge to swing wildly at them with her fists, that was after all what they expected of her. She fought down the urge to call them stinging awful names that would cut them as deeply as they cut her. Instead she would go to the chapel and kneel down and pray for God’s grace and mercy.

During weekly confession she would pour her heart, telling the priest all the wicked thoughts she had and he would admonish her wickedness and tell her to do penance.  She was told to be extra good and extra nice and extra forgiving and fight the evil that resided in her.  She did wonder at times what sort of evil resided in her school mates and whether they confessed and did penance for their wickedness too.

By the time she finished school she was quite exhausted.  They left her in no doubt she was black and she knew that if she wanted to live in peace she would have to move to Africa. One of the nuns had told her about many schools being built in Africa and encouraged her to apply to one of them as a teacher. There was even one in Ghana, where here father had come from. Maybe there she would be at home and find a family to accept her.

Sights of Brighton & Sussex

July 27, 2013

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Feminism is A Verb – The Self Proclaimed Feminist Boyfriend

July 27, 2013

 

They claim to be feminists and cook almost as often as you do. Sometimes even more than you do because you have the eating habits of a bird and can peck your way through the day. He has mastered one or two basic dishes, like instant noodles or rice and stew or egusi soup but after cooking forgets to clean the mess in the kitchen. It could be there for days, an eye sore and an affront to your OCD fueled need for order if you don’t do it.

Ask him to vacuum or sweep while you’re tidying up the house and he whines how he hates to sweep or vacuum. You ask – What’s that got to do with it? You think I derive joy from it? He says he rather pick up all the visible specks off the floor than bring out the vacuum. But you hate the feeling dust and sand under your feet so sooner or later you reluctantly bring out the vacuum.

He says he gets feminism and women’s rights but his work takes priority over yours in sly little ways like when he interrupts you to google the train schedule for him. He says – I can take care of myself but doesn’t lift a finger to help around the house when you’re around or makes snide passive aggressive remarks about the coffee mugs having coffee stains in them or the sheets needing changing. When he reads your writing his criticism whether right or wrong has a sting.

Compare him to the self-proclaimed alpha male chauvinist who doesn’t bitch when there’s no dinner on the table, or when the dishes are piling up in the sink, or when there is a ring around the tub, or the carpet is covered in white fluff. He just takes care of it. He looks at you slogging away at your laptop and orders pizza saying  – Baby you look tired don’t bother cooking  tonight.  When you cook he’s generous with his praise and thanks.

He does dishes, cleans the bathroom, buys groceries, makes a mean pot roast, folds the laundry and even vacuums the floor. And you never hear a word about it. He is more OCD than you.  If you never did a moment of house work the house would still be spotless and if you didn’t cook you would eat takeaway every day or his special rib eye steak.

He lets you travel to your heart’s content. He never tries to insert himself into your travel plans simply because he is feeling insecure. He doesn’t worry about who you’re having drinks or dinner with. He’s confident enough to know you’re coming home to him. He lets you pursue your work. He says it’s the best stuff he ever read. He stays out of your way while you’re struggling over that article and never says ‘Hey leave that a minute and get me some sex or beer or a snack from the kitchen’

Feminism, like love, is a verb.

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Chief Agamaekpurunaohia

July 26, 2013

He was the stereotype of the upper class English gentleman living in the tropical jungle. He wore Saville row suits , hand made shoes, and monogrammed shirts and handkerchiefs,  all impeccably maintained by his well trained local butler.

His 50s model vintage Mercedes still had its original upholstery and engine almost 30 years later, maintained by an equally well trained local chauffeur. He never had a driver, he had a chauffeur because they did chauffeur duties even though everyone called them ‘Driver’ anyway.

He wore silk pygama’s and a silk night gown when everyone around him tied a wrapper at bedtime. He ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, corned beef sandwiches for lunch and pounded yam with egusi and chicken soup for dinner. He drank a carton a carton of Star beer each day.

He had a temper. When goats strayed into his unwalled garden in the village he shot them and left the carcass for vultures. He wouldn’t even allow the owner to retrieve the body to eat or to sell in the market, and he certainly wouldn’t eat it himself either.

It was the height of disregard and cold ruthlessness in a place where poverty was rife but the only way to to enforce compliance. If he ate the goat they would accuse him of shooting it out of greed, if he let them eat it the punishment would not be as sufficient felt, they did not rue the killing as much as the wastage.

His nieghbours kept their goats tethered while less ruthless men squabbled daily over damaged crops or the motive for killing a trespassing goat. He shot his son once too, for disrespectfully challenging his older brother. Told him he had other sons, so there. Luckily the shot didn’t kill him. Yeah, that’s the kind of man he was.

A conversation with him was not possible. Being he was the first one in the village to go over the seas to England back in the day, the first to marry an educated woman and the first to become a minister, he felt very special and lots of people thought he was something special though not every body agreed but that’s life. Can’t please all the people all the time.

He had to be right all the time and he rewarded loyalty generously. Those that agreed with him could join the queue of people waiting outside his village  bungalow for handouts  the day he returned to his city home.  He would hand out brand new notes to everyone near the car as he was about to leave.

He was a real character; frequently drunk, frequently quarrelsome and frequently disagreeable. He stayed home most of the day going out for the occasional meeting with some functionary who was in a position to do him a favor. he survived like that till he died at the grand old age of 87 or there about. No one is really quite sure. No one recorded the day he was born.

How a 21st Century Working Woman Starts An At Home Yoga Practice

July 25, 2013

You are a busy women. Raising kids, working, sometimes working two jobs. Sometimes more. Struggling with bills. Tough. Then some smarmy hippie or yuppie type suggests you try yoga for all those aches pains and kinks age has brought on. Its a little harder getting up in the morning and to pick up that box. Hangovers take two days to clear up and a day of hiking wipes you out.

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You kinda laugh. Yoga. As if you didn’t know already. Really cool but where are you going to get an extra 50 or 60 quid and 12 to 56 hours a month (unpaid). You long for the contemplative calm and peace you know yoga can bring. You joined a one month beginners introductory class last year with your Christmas bonus. Unlike previous times when you managed to go only twice you stick it out till the end. After the first 2 hour workout you sleep all day. You start to feel great at the end of the month. But Junior had music lessons AND football practice. It played havoc with your schedule.

You tell yourself you can do yoga at home. Its the early 21st century. There’s YouTube, internet and Blueray. You buy a DVD, subscribe to several yoga channels on YouTube. Its hard to keep up, its hard to flow when you’re busy trying to watch the screen. You wonder if you’re getting it right. There’s no feedback. A one hour session takes almost two hours of fumbling. And It still plays havoc with your schedule. After a week the DVD lies forgotten beside the Jane Fonda and the Chillates DVD.

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The creaking bones get louder. The long evening walks aren’t enough. You know you need yoga. You need to get over the inertia of doing yoga at home alone so you start real small. You set up a yoga corner first. Just a space to stretch out your mat and your body and some fresh air. That’s. All. Forget the ‘large sunny well ventilated room’. You live in a box. Then every morning soon as you get up you go there and get into child’s pose. Its the simplest pose. That’s all that your frazzled body and soul can handle right now. You hold it for as long as you can. At first its only a couple minutes. Your monkey mind jumps around the whole time. But it doesn’t matter to you. You are doing yoga. You’re pleased. Soon you’re doing 5 minutes everyday.

 

Think of babies, before stuff gets them all uptight and inflexible

Think of babies, before stuff gets them all uptight and inflexibl

 

Then you start to stay in the pose longer. And mindfully focusing your body and breathing. Monkey mind stays quite longer each time you’re on the mat. You feel more and more comfortable. You remember the other poses you learnt in yoga class. One morning you slide out of Child pose into the Plank then the Cobra and then down into Down Ward Dog. You’re elated! You just accomplished a flow even tough your arms quiver, and you held your breath and each pose for less than ten seconds!

 

The Plank

The Plank

 

Six weeks later and you’re doing 20 to 30 minsof basic flow at least 3x a week. Some days you really can’t face the mat but frequency is building up. You’re introducing a new pose every week or so. You learn some simple sequences on YouTube and expand your repertoire. Some weeks you actually manage to do some yoga daily. Sometimes you even do a sequence before bedtime or ten minutes during the day if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Yoga practice is slowly but surely becoming an organic part of your day without costing you extra money you don’t have or taking center stage of your life.

The Cobra Pose (and if you can keep that smile on your face it does help!)

The Cobra Pose (and if you can keep that smile on your face it does help!)

You wonder about the people that can afford to commit 1.5 or 2 hours a day (counting transit/ travel time) to yoga practice. You guess that’s why all really committed enthusiasts are instructors, studio owners, celebrities or under-employed. You say to yourself that If you  money from it you would spend 2 to 4 daily hours in the studio. You realize the expensive private yoga instructor you still think of as Kalashnikov Gandhi because he carried a gun doesn’t get yoga at all. He pushed you like a drill sergeant to overcome your body’s natural laziness till you injured yourself. Yoga isn’t about force and resistance. Its flow. Flow into it. Breathe into it

Downward Dog - Babies are natural yogis! I try to get back to that energy in yoga - uninhibited

Downward Dog – Babies are natural yogis! I try to get back to that energy in yoga – uninhibited

Happy flowing.

Little Habits That Conserve Money Or How Much Toothpaste Do You Need

July 24, 2013

Very little really. I read about it years ago and used just pea size dollop of toothpaste since. My toothpaste lasts months if I’m the only one using it. I’ve been using one for 5 months and it still going strong. Might last me till I’m back from Moscow in 3 months time.

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To all my family and friends who didn’t get the memo you can read it here. Now if you promise to use the regulation amount of toothpaste you can come stay with me and I promise not to tear your head off if you don’t. (I used to get really grouchy.)

Forget those commercials that tell you to squeeze it on. They want you to buy as much and as frequently as possible. You got to educate yourself.  Oh and seriously, floss is not optional. I really want to be able to kiss everybody.

Teach your family too. You’ll save a fortune in toothpaste

 

Happy brushing

 

#ChildNotBride Campaigns, Yerima & Dysfunctional Gender Discourse in Nigeria

July 22, 2013

I find it disingenuous for some male and female northern Nigerian leaders to try to belittle and even ignore the growing national disaffection with the socially regressive practice of child marriage. For Yerima to even proffer that it may be the solution to Nigeria’s social problems is gross.

As a woman, a lawyer and an social activist I am tired and increasingly resentful that issues arising largely from treatment of the Muslim girl child and woman are dominating the national gender discourse.  And it is mostly southern non Muslim women that are leading the advocacy ignoring or sidelining the issues that face the southern and non Muslim girl child and woman.

Child marriage, high maternal and infant mortality, VVF, general access to health care and education, social and economic marginalization, are mostly (not exclusively but mostly) problems for Muslim predominately northern women.

We talk of getting the girl child to school and ignore that in southern states the issue is retention, quality of education and appropriate career counseling and support, we talk of letting women work while in the south the issue is really about access to capital to grow female led businesses, conditions at the work place and child care for working mother etc etc etc.

Yerima says he can marry his daughter at 6 if he chooses, because he does not recognize her personhood. She is a girl he can ‘ give her out’ like his chattel. He says early marriage would end prostitution and fornication exhibiting a total lack of understanding about the social causes of both but choosing to make it a morality and a religious issue instead

While I empathize and support my Muslim sisters I would like to remind my non-Muslim mostly southern sisters that our women constituency has a unique set of problems that need advocacy. We have been overwhelmed by an agenda that ignores our needs for growth.

I do not think the cause of Nigerian women is best served by marching in place waiting for our sisters to catch up. We can and should give them a hand while also continuously moving forward, consolidating and increasing the gains we have made.

That said I recognize the fear of many of my sisters that their daughters could become prey to these religious pedophiles. Mariam Uwais has written eloquently and at length on the issue actually before the senate, pointing out the errors the campaign assumed and the possibilities for Islam in Nigeria to take a more progressive view.

Some have said and it may be true that it is only Yerima’s involvement that made this issue go viral. He is after all the poster child for and against child marriage in Nigeria. What the outpouring of sentiment has shown is that there are a whole lot of Nigerians against child marriage.

The Child Not Bride campaigns should quickly adjust and restrategize accordingly to fight the real fear of women and criminalize child marriage so that’s its never an issues in our country again. This is not a time to give up, it is time press forward.

A Heatwave in England Seems A Lot Like A Pleasant Day in Naija (In More Ways Than One)

July 19, 2013

Unlike the sun worshiping British I have sat out the current heatwave behind closed drapes slathered in sun screen. I don’t need a sun tan and sunshine is over rated if you’ve lived most of your life just ten degrees shy of the equator.

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Of course I do understand the British obsession with weather and sunshine. I arrived here in February expecting that spring was round the corner only to meet the coldest spring in recorded history and spend the next 3 months shivering in my inadequate clothing. I would worship the sun too if I had to stay in doors shivering half the year.

Temperatures didn’t start to soar till early July, a couple weeks ago. and they came with warnings of a heatwave. The headlines warned of tropical weather and temperature highs of 27 oC. In May a friend in Abuja celebrated 25 oC at night. Its not uncommon to get egg poaching highs of 40 oC in Abuja.

The night before I left Abuja I slept in front of the open front door and showered three times before dawn, it was that hot and the power was out. Lagos  is even worse because of the humidity. (I was convinced the Universe was conspiring to ensure I didn’t get homesick and rush back in a hurry.)  So warnings of British heat wave seemed a bit of joke to me.

The weather is no joke to the British, everyday the Met Office, Public Health England and Her Majesty’s physician have been issuing warnings to their citizens to be careful, to wear sunscreen, their hats and to drink lots of water. They issued is a Level 3 Heatwave alert leaving me to wonder what a Level 4 is, emergency evacuation to the Falklands? (Could that be why they fought so hard to keep those islands?)

Some media reported that over 700 people have died already as a result of the heatwave, others dispute the data. Does the threat of imminent death keep the British cowering indoors? Of course not! These are the people that conquered half the world! The parks, the beaches and every outdoor bench is wall to wall with people every day since the sun came out.

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Even daily reports on TV and radio of  overwhelmed emergency and accident services treating heat related sickness, mostly sunburn, but a few more serious, have not stopped the British trooping out in great numbers to revel in this unprecedented weather. Still heat related distress can be quite serious.

My Nigerian brethren of the village variety always teased me about white people not being strong (because I am half white). I rejected the taunts but I must admit I am reconsidering. I mean seriously, people dying at 31 oC? Then again black people freeze to death at 22 oC and that’s supposed to be the optimal temperature for office productivity.

I have been saying it for years that the propensity by my working class Nigerian brethren to run around at midday in scorching temperatures exceeding 35 oC cannot be good for health or longevity. Now the British public health service confirm my suspicions that heat also affects mood and mental health. They have already come to the conclusion they are ill prepared to deal with a heatwave. 

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In Nigeria we are stronger. Yes, that is why all those drivers of un-air-conditioned vehicles fight in Lagos go slow. It is the heat. Working class Nigerians believe there is great virtue in hard work and look busy even if they aren’t doing anything productive. Laziness is conidered a character flaw and a little bit of sunshine is no excuse for laziness.  The working poor measure their value in hardiness.

Meanwhile, the oga on top takes long lunch breaks very much like the civilized Spanish siesta. After his pounded yam and afang his chauffeured luxury SUV deposits him at a hotel where a senorita awaits in a cool dim room. He won’t return to the office till the sun starts to go down.  It will be a long day in hell before he actually thinks its appropriate to warn the ignorant that they should stay out of the sun. For now its his privilege.

Well, I am a child of two worlds; just like I never went out between the hours of 11am and 4pm in Nigeria I am not about to follow follow my British friends to hang out in the sun. (I even sat under an umbrella AND a sunhat on a Brazil beach) I tried it exactly once, the day my bikini arrived from H&M by special courier. After 10 minutes I excused my self and retreated to the shade where I shall spend the rest of the summer with or without a heatwave.

Cheers to the sun worshiping Brits.

 

The 21st Century Papacy?

July 18, 2013

Francis the Exorcising Pope nixes the Popemobile for upcoming trip to Brazil. Thank God, it was distressing to see the Pope afraid of death. Made me wonder whether something was wrong in heaven. I hear he also refuses to stay in the Apostolic Palace. And I am totally impressed by the twitter indulgences. If you follow the pope on twitter you get a few days shaved off your time in purgatory. Now if only the Catholic Church could take a more progressive view on pedophilia among its priests, women’s rights especially their reproductive rights, and  sexuality we might all be able to skip purgatory all together and go straight to heaven.