What is worse than suffering?

Psst: I’ve moved. Visit me here http://streetsideconvos.com. Maybe the new blog will be for you. Maybe not.

I spent most of my childhood in a city that some people have called ‘particularly aggressive’ haha. Lagos is a very interesting city to be in. It brims with life and this undeniable sense of hustle which I already wrote about here.

Everywhere you go someone is fighting to stay alive. The young girl is hawking groundnuts and walking long distances on foot so she can get by TODAY. A loved one dies, we mourn and then we move on because we must still put food on the table and find a roof over our heads.

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Riding home in the keke napep. I prefer it to motorcycles lol

We don’t make excuses- we improvise instead. One day it was raining and I had to run an errand and I and my brother took a tricycle (keke napep) home. The tricycle rider had this improvised curtain thing that he threw over the sides of the tricycle so that he could still keep his business going even in the rain.

Life is so unpredictable so you have to be prepared- you have wake up earlier just incase there is traffic, it is flooded, or the roads are bad or something.

People are up as early as 4 or 5 to get to work because they want to beat traffic which is crazy in Lagos.

You go to the market, bargain for food, go to the gas station, buy diesel for your generator, turn it on and deal with the noise pollution because there is no power supply. By the time you come to the end of the day you are exhausted and ready to sleep and even then you may have to fight off mosquitoes if you didn’t spray an insect repellent or if you kept your doors open too late.

Get the picture?

Life is a struggle and that struggle is normal- nothing to complain about or blame anyone for.

You feel alive. You feel something and everyday feels new, and pregnant and promising and troublesome but fulfilling.

Then we come to North America or maybe another ‘developed’ country and struggle is not really something that is normal. You go through life pretty okay. Where your Nigerian counterpart would have to save money for months to pay cash for a house or a car, you just get a mortgage. Where someone else might be homeless if they lost their job, you could at least put it on the credit card for a while.

We become zombies. We can’t really say we are thriving but we are okay that’s for sure. Okay is worse than suffering. When you suffer you feel, and you activate that fighter in you. But when you are okay, anything that demands a little more out of you starts to seem like a chore and slowly your warrior instinct starts to die.

The instinct in us all for greatness and for survival is primal. Its raw and its intense and it can overcome anything.

Even in ‘developed countries’ everyone I have met who is truly fulfilled with their lives had a lot of fighting to do. They had to fight all the limiting beliefs and the resistance within, then they had to fight without- and stand up for themselves, stand up for their dreams and discipline themselves to get there.

So you can choose to be fooled by the illusion of comfort and numb down that warrior instinct in you but it is a dangerous place to be.

When you come to the end of your life how will you convince yourself that living a complacent life was the best of use of your time?

There are too many zombies in the world- thinking what others want them to think, living their life how ‘normal’ people live it, letting people talk them out of the future they came into this world to create.

But the instinct for greatness is in all of us and we must resist the complacency in our culture that keeps us too comfortable to act.

Feel the warrior instinct in you- the desire for more, the desperation, the zeal. Stop trying to numb it down, instead feed it. Guard it jealously and instead of discarding it from fear- TRUST that it will find expression. I think that is one of the noblest things to do with our brief lives.

“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for- Oprah Winfrey”

On that note I leave with you the broadway version of Fela’s Zombie 🙂

Happy Monday.

Ps: Join the conversation by leaving a comment. Is your warrior instinct alive and well, dying, or on the way to coming alive again?

Intercultural West African love: Ghana comes to Nigeria for Pelumi

This summer my really good friend got married. She is the first of my close friends in my age group that got married and so it was very special to me. It was also different because she was marrying outside of her country- to a Ghanaian, a few countries away from Nigeria.

Gifts from the groom to the bride's family. Those are yams all nicely tied up

Gifts from the groom to the bride’s family. Those are yams all nicely tied up

If you know anything about the two countries you know Nigerians and Ghanaians have a sort of sibling rivalry though they secretly love each other at the end of the day. (Ghanaians probably love us more though :P)

I went to Abuja for the wedding with my dad and younger brother who also had people to see in Abuja. We travelled by road so it was quite the journey- we left Lagos around 5 am and got to Abuja at night!

It was the perfect ending to my trip to Nigeria because I got to work on my non-profit, meet people old and new, and then party with the Aikins!

I enjoyed the traditional wedding because I don’t think I have ever been to one. Also, I am from Eastern Nigeria  (Igbo) and Pelumi is from Western Nigeria (Yoruba) so it was nice to see the differences in culture. A few that I noticed;

In Igbo traditional weddings,  the male elders of the family officiate, while in Yoruba weddings women officiate.

In Yoruba weddings, the girl’s family takes care of most of the traditional wedding since they are trying to make a statement about how well taken care of the girl was to the man that is taking her for a bride. In Igbo weddings, the groom plays a huge part since he has to prove that he can take care of his new bride.

Pictures speak better than words so check them out! I put mostly pictures from the traditional Yoruba wedding because I think that is something unique to the culture so it was worth sharing more of.

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Women from the bride’s family welcoming the groom’s family… with dancing of course!

 

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The groom’s family prostrating and kneeling to greet the girl’s parents. Males prostrate, females kneel as a sign of respect

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Jubilant groom dancing forward

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Eric explaining what he is here for and dropping some money in the bucket for the family

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The women of the family were having fun with him and issuing commands like asking him to stand at attention, etc

Receiving the blessings of her father

Receiving the blessings of her father

The bride dances into the venue

The bride dances into the venue

 

Mother daughter moment

Mother-daughter moment

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Showing she can take care of her husband

 

Eric showing he is strong enough for her

Bye Bye Nigeria

 

 

Hello Ghana

Hello Ghana

Happy couple

Happy couple

The drummer got some love and Naira for his hard work too.

The drummer got some love and Naira for his hard work too.

 

Church ceremony the next day- K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Church ceremony the next day- K-I-S-S-I-N-G

My story: How I started college at 14 and finished at 18 + YOU are a gift

Psst: I’ve moved. Visit me here http://streetsideconvos.com. Maybe the new blog will be for you. Maybe not

Did you know that you are a gift to this world?

Are you sharing your gift? How could you share it more?

In this video I share my story with you and help you understand why your story counts.

Watch it and when you are done leave me a comment telling me, what one thing will you do this week to share your gift?

Also who is your favourite student heading to college this year?

If you want to help them ace their college writing then you’d want to share this resource I created to help them.

I finished it this week and was so happy to finally have it out in time for them.

I hope you have an amazing new week.

Ps: This post was featured in the carnival of homeschooling. Check it out here.

Forbes Africa gets behind the camera for a change.

I had the pleasure of chatting with these men at the WOWe Women of West Africa event last week. I sat down beside them, we started talking and ended up doing a video along the way 🙂

Chris is the managing editor of Forbes Africa and was one of the moderators for one of the sessions.He moved to South Africa a couple of years back and he is loving his work. He said he would do it even if he didn’t make a lot of money out of it. I thought Chris sounded like Richard Branson but I don’t think he took it as a compliment haha

Frederic is the head for their work in West Africa. He has been living in Lagos for a while- 5 years- if I remember clearly. He is excited about investing in emerging markets all over Africa and media work in Africa as well.

I should have asked them to share their experience of moving and living in Africa but it didn’t occur to me then. It would have been nice since they’ve seen Africa from a much more nuanced perspective than people looking from the outside in. Oh well, next time.

Watch to know them a bit better and get into their heads about life, success, passion, and making the world a better place. Also- when you get really successful and interviewed by Forbes Africa make sure you tell Chris and/or Frederic that you met them on streetsideconvos first:)

Don’t forget to leave me a comment, subscribe and come on over to twitter to continue the conversation 😉

The faces of entrepreneurship in Nigeria

I was about going in for a meeting sometime last week when I heard this lady saying ‘have a nice day’ to someone. I heard so much friendliness and happiness in the voice but I didn’t know exactly where the voice was coming from.

Later on, as I was about going in, this lady came to us and offered us a sample of her cakes and her card. I had the sample of the chocolate one and it was so tasty- me and my sweet tooth 🙂

ICakes by Yosola met Yosola again today to place an order. When I went to her store she was so nice to everyone and down-to-earth- she wasn’t just sitting around bossing everyone but was very involved in supervising the final product. When she started telling me about her son in SS1 ( Grade 10) and her 30-year old craft I thought, oops I remembered her from our first meeting as much younger and because of that all this time I had been talking to her on the phone I had been calling her by her first name not knowing she was much older than me.

She shared about a lot of things- from the dignity of labour to learning from others to overcoming fear to tradeoffs and the people in her life who keep her going.

She also talks about starting small and sticking with it.

It is by starting small and sticking with it that she went from a cottage business in her kitchen to paying cash for the new building where she runs Cakes by Yosola.

I was really happy about this opportunity to talk to Yosola because to me this is the face and future of Nigeria- people like her who grow their ideas and use the opportunity to employ people, empower people with skills and inspire people. I know the bad eggs really do us in and give us a bad reputation with scams and what not, but I consider them the minority. There are people like Yosola that I really admire- loving, hardworking, innovative, doing what they need to do to go to the next level. They don’t even see it as anything special- they just see it as doing what needs to be done- so I am so glad that I got to share a conversation with one of those amazing people with you today.

If you are ever in town, you should order a cake from her website. They are also on Facebook and twitter and share baking and decorating tips so check them out.

Thank you Yosola.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment, subscribe and come on over to twitter to continue the conversation 😉

Some of my favourite things lately…

1) Fresh foods to snack on- especially boiled groundnuts, and mangoes (not eaten together though 😛 ).

2) Speeding on one of the long bridges with the windows wound down and soaking up all the wind and sun and cool sea breeze

3) Sunshine and warm weather

4) Relationships : Life is constantly changing and I relish every opportunity to reconnect with family and enjoy them. My family is a lot of fun, silly, playful and hardworking at the same time. I also love connecting with my friends all over the world.

5) Reading: Its becoming an addiction 😛

6) The feeling of loving my life and myself, flaws and all

7) Contributing to help others live better lives hopefully

8) Heavy rains

I love it when it rains in Lagos as long as I am not outside at the time because the rains cause a lot of traffic. The rains are so heavy- it sounds like heaven is pouring buckets of water on earth with a vengeance and with the thunder and lightning it can be scary at night. Even in the afternoon it gets really dark and windy and when I have nothing to do I absolutely love it. Its the perfect time to just curl up, read a book or listen to music, especially since there is no power haha.

9. Music. I love music. I mark the special moments of my life through music- Maroon five’s ‘if she will be loved’ was playing when I was in the last few months of high school and had just gotten up from an evening nap. Lagbaja’s ‘never far away’ was the last song I heard when I was leaving Nigeria for the very first time to Canada in 2005. Akon’s ‘pot of gold’ was playing as I sorted out my belongings to move into my second year residence. I fell in love with James Blunt “Tears and rain”, John Legend’s ‘when its cold outside’ and Anthony David’s ‘Words’ somewhere in the summer of 2009. In 2010 Mariah Carey’s ‘Hero’ started playing just I as I started crying when I had finally decided to process my uncle’s recent death a day or so after I heard the news. I listened to Lucky Dube’s ‘release me’ for most of summer 2010. I fell in love with One republic and many of Adele’s songs when I moved to Calgary in 2011. Its goes on and on but you get the point:)

There are only a few things I can compare to my love for music- connecting deeply with people and God, creating or discovering, writing/reading, and laughing/being happy.

10. My beats by Dre headphones

So my brother gave me a Beats by Dre headphone when I was travelling. I didn’t get why headphones had to look so big and also how the soundcomes out and people around you can hear what you are listening to. But right now I am so addicted to using my headphones. They amplify the whole experience of listening to music and it makes me feel like I am in heaven. Something like this;

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Sometimes I lose myself and start dancing and singing to the music totally oblivious to my environment. One time in Japan I was singing at the top of my voice and saw this old man turn and look at me smiling and shaking his head.

Anything with some deep soulful instrumentals that manage to mix that with a really hardcore beat gets me. I especially love highlife and afrobeat, reggae and soul but I have songs I love in every genre- from country to rock to R and B, to hiphop etc. I also like some songs from way back before I was born.

Here are some songs on my playlist this rainy Sunday. I linked them to their youtube versions so you can dance with me 😛

1 Matisyahu’s ‘One day

2 Eddie Okwedy ‘Happy Survival

3 Oliver de Coque’s ‘Opportunity

4 Fela Kuti’s  ‘Trouble Sleep yanga go wake am’

5 Repete by Black Magic

6 Burna Boy’s  ‘Wombo Lombo’

7 Dance Floor by 2 Face

8 Darlin by Stan Iyke and Tiwa Savage

9 Goodmorning by Brymo

10 Limpopo- KCee

11. Ada Ada- Flavour

Don’t forget to leave me a comment, subscribe and come on over to twitter to continue the conversation 😉

What I have been up to

You probably know I am in Lagos to have fun, catch up with family and friends and do some field work and pilot projects for my non-profit- thanks to all who made it possible.

I want to share with you some pictures and some feedback from different people we talked to.

One thing I love about us Africans is our hospitality and how we don’t try to be too proper and politically correct. Every group I talked to was full of people considerably older than me, and they didn’t put up any ego or anything, they listened to me, appreciated my time, were very candid about their thoughts- for example one man interrupted me in a loud voice and told me to stop speaking fast and like an American and bring it down to their level LOL. It was said in love though so I just smiled and talked slowly and with a thicker Naija accent.

The other told me to sit down because I was one of them and didn’t have to stand up to talk at them LOL

Another one told me that he wasn’t satisfied with how I talked about stress and its impact on our health and some things to add next time LOL

All the groups gave me a gift at the end. One group- the institute of town planners- gave me some Adire cloth that I plan to sew a dress out of; another – the igbo community towns members- took my handbag and computer to the car for me, and walked me to the car. It is called ‘i duje mmadu’ in Igbo which mean to escort. Another group – the union of artisans such as carpenters, plumbers, painters etc- bought us some drinks. I felt at home and I really connected with all the groups I talked to and left praying they take our message to heart so they don’t have to die like many of their members have from stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, etc

Through the way they asked questions, voiced their opinions and concerns I could tell they were really engaging with the issue. All the groups I have talked with have had many members die from chronic diseases especially those relating to complications from hypertension. That just shows you how big the problem of non-communicable diseases is in Nigeria among every age group. At the end of the day I was grateful I got to do my part by educating them and hopeful that it goes a long way.

I have also gotten some discouragement- I called a media personality who wanted to find out more about what we do and she told me how anybody could do what we could do and its not that much of a big deal LOL. Obviously I was a bit sad then I brushed it off.

Just chipping that in to tell you there will always be roadblocks to whatever ever you set out to do- but now I am learning to reduce the time I spend reacting emotionally to nonsense. Brush it off, move on and too bad for the people who don’t come along with you.

I have also been reading the book- Psychocybernetics. It is an amazing book by a surgeon on your power of imagination to get you good results out of life.

One practical thing I have taken out of it is to worry constructively- instead of worrying about things that could go wrong, I go to bed making a choice to ‘worry’- imagine all the good things I hope for my future. Try it:)

Lagos with all its craziness is a good opportunity to practice this since at first I was so frustrated at the intermittent power, expensive internet, poor customer service and those pesky little things. But now I have adjusted, stopped getting upset by the things I can’t change and am loving my life and my time here. Personal development works everywhere:)

What have you been up to?ImageImageImageImage

Don’t forget to leave me a comment, subscribe and come on over to twitter to continue the conversation 😉