Conversations..Covid 19

I am still on my conversation trip. The recent conversation I am having at the moment is the concept of being a human being. I ask myself, hat it really means to me to be a human being. I don’t think I am an alien but I am simply worried at the level of our thought processes.
Just before the year ended and we were flung into 2020, the news got to us about Covid 19. I think it was because the pandemic started about that time in that year that they called it COVID 19. The point is, the figures started to rise into the thousands. It looked then like a Chinese problem. Some weeks later it became the problem of other countries and seemed to have ignored Africa.
We read about the story that the African was going to be immune to covid19. I remember the discussion within family and friends. We remembered the unease of the Ebola virus. I felt that when bad things roam the world, they tend to leave the worst part of themselves for Africans to grapple with. China came all over Africa I thought to spite the Americans. I am not into the politics of racism and generally feel that the Almighty has His own reasons for making me a Nigerian. I am not against saying hello to other races but I generally always wanted my own corner of the world. I always wanted to be back home within the four walls of my own home. I went to school in Lagos, had my first set of children there, but I knew when it was time to leave Lagos as it progressed from city to megapolis, so did it become less human and I wanted to remain a human being. See what I mean?
I have worked outside Nigeria, studied outside it and once lived for a while outside Nigeria, but I always wanted to be home. I never understood the craze of my friends to relocate, I thought that if I needed another country then the Almighty Father knows and would have done something about it. Used to tell my children that, and I think they decided what was best for them. They travel out and always came back home to Nigeria, not necessarily my corner. How did we get to talking about me, I said I was having a conversation with me, my thoughts, my worries as a Nigerian with COVID 19
The earlier stories we were told was that this virus was a respiratory thing. You needed to be sure it did not get through your nose. So you needed to cover your nose all the time, particularly if you were for any reason outside your own home. Keep to a regimen of washing your hands with running water, The first joke was when they showed the video of some guy washing his hands with running water. I pictured my home town and wondered if most of them ever saw what a running tap looked like. I live in the suburbs of the state capital, I have never seen a tap running water supplied by the government. When you see a tap, it is either a rich man’s place or those boreholes that are placed at strategic places at random places. Not every street has a borehole placed for you to know what tap running water looked like. Sure, we have taps in the homes but they were generally decorative. The truth of the matter is we evolved our own technology to make running water. Little buckets that had taps fixed at the bottom. We fetched the water and filled it. Twenty seconds? No, just wash your darn hands and get out. More times the public places don’t have it. I sighed. We had bought sanitizers during the Ebola scare, I never liked monkeys and do not eat bush meat generally so I was okay and safe. Strangely though, they said nothing about monkeys this time.
They only said the virus-like Ebola, came from monkeys. Then the Italian landed and Coronavirus also came with the Italian. When the Italian left, Coronavirus stayed back. The figures of the dead started getting higher. Our doubts deepened as we knew our politicians were never known for being altruistic. Some people survived, more people got infected, more people started dying. Running water, the cost of getting nose masks, went through the roof. Suddenly you became afraid of being old. You woke up each morning wondering how many more days. Palliatives? The government just heard those words and they used them freely not understanding the words and its attendant responsibilities. Being independent of depending on your government for anything became a reality that stared at you more urgently. The supposed safety nets from the government were either politicised or non-existent.
How do you test if you have COVID 19? You do not dare sneeze or cough because your scared neighbour might report you to the authorities. Do you have COVID 19 or you had malaria? In the tradition of our herbal pharmacy, you could consult those women in the market for them to prepare herbs for you to treat your cold or malaria, but the radio announcer is hysterical with the warning that you are not to self- medicate. Funny that is how we did before get the herbal drink or soup to treat malaria or cold? You hear in the news that very important personalities had succumbed to COVID 19 and you wonder. You hold this conversation, how will the inadequacies of government, their greed, dishonesty and thieving ways help you overcome your reasonable doubt about the veracity of COVID 19?
Your fear is spiced with anger and doubt as common sense tells you to stay well away from them and ask Mother Nature to show you what you must do to protect yourself from the baggage of the visitor who refused to leave even as you tell it that it was never invited. The stench of COVID 19 is why you cover your noses and face.

Coronavirus Thomas

This is a contribution from young woman in a learning group that I belong to.

CORONAVIRUS THOMAS by Patricia Ejemeriona

Malam Bala held tenaciously onto his transistor Radio to listen to the morning news ,,
Good morning this is Sunshine 100.3 FM,, this is the morning news hour at 8.00 o clock,, my name is Amina Ameed, 10,250 persons confirmed positive for dreaded Coronavirus.,,, owing to this spike, the government has decided to put a total lockdown on the Banji emirates from tomorrow the 12th of May,,,,

Malam Bala screamed “walahi this lie faa, this is a big lie,, this is government magic,, this is a lie!!!

‘Haaha what is a big lie, who is doing magic.. why are you screaming this morning Maigida’,,, Alimotu petite wife of Malam Bala queried,,

‘I said this is a lie’ shouted Malam Bala,, roughly shoving Alimotu aside.

A bewildered Alimotu hissed in anger.

Malam Bala, middle-aged man of average height was poorly educated howbeit he loves to get relevant information of daily happenings around him. You cannot separate Mr Malam from his potable transistor Radio.

Gbammm! gbammm!! Malam Bala knocks violently on the door of his friend and neighbor Baba Risi,

‘Who is that! that wants to break my door this morning’ retorted Baba Risi.

Malam Bala went in, panicky ‘have you heard? Don’t tell me you have not heard or didn’t you listen to the news on Sunshine FM this morning’!!

Baba Risi looked at him with a frown on his face. ‘Heard what please Bala! What is the problem if I may ask you’

Bala dumped himself on the massive sofa in Baba Risi’s apartment fixing a gaze on Baba Risi. he said ‘Coronavirus cases is now 10,250, 10,250, 10,250 can you believe this’ Malam Bala shouted.

‘I believe if you must know’ replied Baba Risi giving him a mean look.

‘Look Bala it is time you drop this conspiracies of yours and let us all join hands with the government to keep safe, observe all the health protocols to ensure we flatten the curve this is important to protect ourselves and every member of our families ok’ Baba Risi schooled him.

‘Ok’ Bala replied in disbelief, ‘tell me right now Baba Risi have you used this your two corocoro eyes to see anybody that have the coro virus question number one
Question number 2? where are the people? if you can answer this I will believe you’. Bala said angrily.

‘Look’ replied Baba Risi ‘this your illiteracy is more deadly than Coronavirus, c’ommon leave my house’ he said in rage.

‘I should leave! I should leave! Me! Bala leave your house. Now I know your head is not correct’.

Bala stormed out of the room banging the door making Baba Risi to cringe. ‘Never you come here again ok. Nonsense man’ Shouted Baba Risi.

‘Sule! Sule!! Sule!!!’ there was shouts and uproar at Malam Bala’s apartment. Alimotu held unto her 18 year old son who had collapsed. His temperature was so high she didn’t know what to do. She was crying profusely at the thought of losing her only son.

Malam Bala raced inside to behold the sight of his son gasping for breath. Sule! Sule!! he shook his son. He quickly requested for an herbal concoction which he tried to force into his son’s mouth but he couldn’t get it through.

Malam Bala screamed as he watched his son give up the ghost.

The death of Sule devastated Malam Bala and Alimotu.

Neighbors were seen in pockets standing around the premises to commiserate with them.

Baba Risi came to condole with them. He sat down on the low but comfortable sofa,, take heart,,,patting Bala on the shoulder. But what happened to him.. Alimotu replied ‘he just returned from from my sister’s place two days ago coughing, he also said he is feeling pains on his body’,, cried Alimotu shaking her head in pain,,, calm down, calm down Baba Risi replied becoming apprehensive ,,,’ please these are some of the symptoms of Coronavirus’, ,,
‘Coro what’?A screamed Bala and Alimotu simultaneously.

‘Yes ‘retorted Baba Risi. ‘I suspect Coronavirus’,,,
‘Are you mad! It is not possible for my son to have coro’ replied Malam Bala.

‘Well you will have to take the test, , let me wash my hands and get my face mask as you too can be a big risk to everyone of us here’.

‘Coro what coro faa’ Malam Bala’s neighbors all scrambled out of Bala’s apartment for fear of contracting the virus. ‘Sule has coro,,sule has coro,,, Haa coro ,,,

Baba Risi called the health authorities in Banji’s emirates to report the death and suspected case.

The health authority came immediately geared up to take samples and investigate.

Malam Bala was diagnosed with Coronavirus after his samples was collected and taken to the isolation center in the Banji district for treatment,,

He was put on the bed, he cried when he saw other infected persons. He regretted all his carefree and careless actions which led to the death of his only son Sule.

Conversations…Gerry Huntman

Some ten years ago, I gingerly came on Facebook. I came determined to learn a few things but also I was fearful. I made my first trip to an online writing circle. I wanted to learn more about writing. I started writing while I was in secondary school. You know that mushy romantic stuff from my reading of Denise Robins, Barbara Cartland. Oh, I read other authors. Crime, like the 87th precinct, and even high brow books like Plato, Kafka, And Jean-Paul Satre. I had to learn to like my own company for a lot of reasons. I am not telling you my life story, just sharing with you what brought me into online lessons.
I already had a presence in my corner of the world as a dramatist and producer on intervention series like I Need to know, the intervention series that was sponsored by UNFPA and later caught the attention of CIDA. I could call myself a star you know and preen myself. However, after those intervention series and fame, I wanted a bit to expand my horizon. I had self-published two novels, had a book launch of the books. I had been part of anthologies of poetry. So why did I want to go online? Simple. I said to myself I was at best a fish in a pond and wanted to know what went on at the other beach. It was the reason I had suspended my television broadcasting world to go into print and books so I came to Facebook after joining an online writing forum. At the writing club, I had started writing my first novel, That I wanted to use to introduce myself to a larger world. I met a couple of friends, but three of us became what we called The CHORD. we shared our stories with each other, tried to be honest about how we felt. I was the only black, and Nigerian. Those two became my closest friends online. We would chat for hours. It was always about our writings. Then I met someone who became almost a part of me. I met Gerry Huntman.
Gerry Huntman, how do I write about someone I spent the first few months trying to understand? I had heard so much about online fraud, the contempt in which the white race particularly Americans held blacks particularly Nigerians? This was online and I had no reason to trust anyone but I had not counted on the personality that was and is Gerry Huntman. IFWG publishing company took me in as a family member. Gerry personally edited my first effort as an international author. He retained my voice for me. He allowed me to tell y story my way. He became not just my publisher, but also my brother and friend. I have never met Gerry in person, but I feel very personal about him and his family.
When other publishers suddenly gave me recognition and wanted to publish my works, they were puzzled when I will insist that I will wait until Gerry tells me he does not want to have anything to do with this Nigerian old woman. In my conversations with myself, I would ask why and how I got to be so lucky to have met virtually Gerry Huntman and how come he trusted me. He gave me authority backed economically to have Nigerian prints of my books when the world moved on from me. When I was being sold up the garden path by those who took copies of my books and would not send me returns, he asked me to collect the books and sell as best as I can. He is one that I want to give this tribute for reaching out and treating his writers as a member of his extended self.
It is my prayer and longing, that one day, I might be able to thank Gerry Huntman for being so special. He has remained a guide and friend and yes brother. I normally salute him with a greeting that is unique in my village. It is a greeting we normally give to someone we respect deeply and by age has earned that, it is a single word greeting that members of my village who read this will recognize and would be curious in learning I say that in greeting to Gerry. Since I explained it to him he will generally greet me that way as his African sister. So, Gerry, as I thank you for all you have been to me in the last ten years and more I will end it this way:
Ake!!

Conversations

Sometimes you never know the end of a relationship. Sometimes, you also never know the content and depth of one. Today, I will be starting a series which I want to call simply Conversations. It is real conversations with my understanding of life, experiences that look like there were pre-ordained to happen and some that are definitely a gift of grace.
I will be discussing friendship today. You know when you start a friendship, you are sometimes permitted to understand why that friendship subsists. We understand the Eternal laws of the creator and one of the important ones states that birds of the same feather flock together. So for years, I wondered what was the same feather about me and Azizat. She was a whiz at maths and the sciences. I fancied myself as a surgeon and because of Mr Gadima my physics teacher, I always failed Physics. When Azizat and I met, I was already the mother of a young boy and going to the library to read for my A levels. I was very poor and she came from the middle class. What was the similarity? She was still in school at FSS(Federal school of science) and I was a young confused mum. Azizat could talk a horse to stand still. She was a magpie, I was always silent. We are friends. We have been friends for some forty-nine years. I am still the quiet one, still poor and learning about the confusing human being. Azizat is very rich, very vocal and successfully married to the love of her life. I could decide now that the similarity between us was our interest in spirituality. I hated churches and pastors, she was indifferent to them. Azizat has remained a trusted friend and support in all the years we have been together. We are still together. What is the implication and lesson in that? If you look at your fellow human being as a fellow traveller in life, you might work on your differences and learn how to give.I learned how to listen to her, I learned how to see that her enthusiasm also includes being helpful. She calls me a funny name, that I am indifferent to finances but she appreciated it later and would ask for my opinion in financial issues or on her staff sometimes. We are real friends that still maintain our individual identity.
I have another friend, as completely different as my girlfriend Azizat. I have never met him physically but I trust him completely. It is the craziest form of friendship. I know what is similar about us and why we are friends. Bobby wrote a book on rape survivors. I almost did not read the book because, at about the same time, I had been sent a book on Financial policies of America. My friends laughed because that was the last subject on Earth I could speak on let alone review. When Bobby asked what I thought of his book I tried to answer as politely as I could that I do not review finance much less the financial policies of America. He stunned me by replying that he did not write such a book. I went back to my stored documents and came across his name and his book. TO THE SURVIVORS BY ROBERT UTARO. I was stunned. He opened a room I had kept under firm lock for years. He streamed a light into a darkened furnace and released me into the dawn of springs, laughing brooks and I could take a walk again. I adapted the stories to a radio series in my community. People called, I did interviews and had a group of young persons who told me their own stories of abuse. An aspect of my life got enriched through this. I felt humbled each time a girl or a boy walked up to me, tears in eyes and shed their own abuse. I felt very small and very grateful. Bobby became a confidante and friend in the way I could not share with anyone. My friendship with Bobby is almost telepathic for he can pick my thoughts and sense my pain. There is a favourite saying he gave me that has been deeply helpful. A very simple statement ‘Strength from Above’
I will talk about these two friends today. I will still talk about some others. Like I said I wish to share with you my conversations with myself. My gratitude for permission to have met these friends and how they had helped me in certain phases of my life. When things get very rough, you can always be sure to receive strength from above only if you ask.
Thank you Azizat for learning that it is not the money but what good you can do with it and recognizing that I gave you my honest friendship each time never impressed by money
Thank you, Bobby, this is for you. I will always continue to write, see if my writing can be helpful and be grateful for strength from above.

Elizabeth Lang

I usually wake up early, so it was normal to do so today. As usual, picked up my phone and switched it on. I saw her face and smiled instinctively. Was wondering if the part 4 of her book was out then I saw the lines by my publisher and blinked. Wondering if maybe I was not fully awake, I went to the loo with the phone, my heartbeats increased as I read. My heart dropped and sadness engulfed me.
Vale Grace Chan
by Gerry Huntman

‘One of the profound things I find about our time on this planet is the amazing human capacity to withstand trauma and disease and hold on to their lives, and yet there are many others who pass away too early, often suddenly. There’s nothing mysterious about it, but it can help us refocus on how important it is to make the most of the time we have.
It is with immense sadness that I announce the passing of Grace Chan (Elizabeth Lang) today (27th February 2020) in Regina, Saskatchewan, from complications associated with her very long battle with cancer’.
How do you sing a song when the beat has left the market square and the masquerade does a silent dance? The square is silent and the owl too refuses to leave the tree. There is silence all around and a silent whistle in my spirit.
Elizabeth Lang, author, artist friend walks towards home to the ancients. Names run pictures in my sad mind. I remember our first chat when we talked about the cover picture of my first book with IFWG publishing. Gerry Huntman the publisher had informed me and permitted that I could discuss my ideas with her. I was not sure but soon enough I became a friend of someone I never met physically. A friendship was formed and we would chat whenever we had a chance about my book, her book and so many things that held our interest. I read and reviewed for my blog all her books, that is the Andromedan series. The human concept that underlined her sci-fi, her surprise about the success of the romance in the series as she had not expected such a reaction.
Love conquers pain, the pain of cancer. In my corner of the, we say, Death always needs a reason to take you away. It was time for her to take the next journey and as far as Creationis truly concerned, we should not say death is premature. Whatsoever we sow, we reap, and this is not meant as sanctimonious religious nonsense, but an acceptance that Creation is not arbitrary. I miss the Andromeda series already. I can guess at the conclusion that was supposed to come in part four.
I see the compassion, love and empathy of Elizabeth in the covers she did for my books and my gratitude I hope will be one of the light silks on her path in her journeys as a human spirit.
I could say a thousand things, sing a song at the square and tell the owl to flap more silently.
I can ask the stars to shine more brightly and tell the ancients that a daughter is on her way home. I can feel in the whispers of the dry dust, its own sadness at her departure. I see the sad face of death as it shrugs at me helplessly and points at Cancer as the culprit, I see the smile of Elizabeth at the light in the tunnel that is the gate of Andromeda as she passes.
The story continues but we at IFWG publishing close the page and open it again missing you.

WHEN DREAMS GROW

I really had planned to write another post on something else altogether. I came across this information and it became necessary for me to write this post. A man was born 142 years ago today. On the 22nd of February
I was part of his dreams and we never met. I celebrate him today and beyond today. Over a century ago when he landed on terra firma, he probable know of all his dreams. He also probably didn’t know much about communication skills, or teaching anyone how to be a leader.
He had a dream to be a human being I assume, but along his experiences, he saw the essence of communication. Communicating in real terms and negotiating our values about those things that make us human, empathic, and I guess evolving into what the Creator trusted we will become…human beings.
142 years ago one of my heroes was born. Ralph C Smedley
Nearly a century ago, Dr Ralph Smedley had a vision of how he could help you and millions more learn communication and leadership skills in a positive and supportive environment. Toastmasters International became an educational Non- governmental organization which now has branches all over the globe including my state and my club as the premier club in the south-west of my country
In 1965, the Ralph C. Smedley Memorial Fund® (“Smedley Fund”) was established to honour and uphold that legacy, and to open doors for the many millions of potential Toastmasters yet to come.
The dream has grown, and anyone interested in learning about communication skills, leadership skills can achieve that mastery in any Toastmaster club anywhere in the world.
I am inviting you to be part of this dream. We communicate and achieve leadership awareness as we learn what serving, giving and loving is about. We learn what it means to volunteer knowledge, capabilities, to our community and the world at large.
I am inviting you to be a contributor to the Smedley Fund.
The educational needs of individuals have evolved and multiplied. Though the historic fund had humble beginnings with a local impact, the reinvigorated Smedley Fund retains its same purpose—the advancement of communication and leadership education through the research, development, and distribution of educational programs and materials.
Be a contributor
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.
Sunshine Toastmasters club is situated in Akure. We hold meetings twice a month, the 2nd and 4th Sunday at B.Dot schools from 4-6pm.
I promise you will enjoy your time with us
I will be expecting you.

The Finishing school

When I was in a secondary school in the sixties. Yeah, I said secondary school. Yeah, I am long in years and no I still have all my teeth. My family could not afford the luxury of chocolates. Will you let me say my piece?
As I started to say, when I was in secondary school, I used to read about rich families sending their children to finishing schools. Rich families in the fifties, and sixties then. The girls were sent to finishing schools, the boys generally went on a tour of the world to learn about other cultures. More often than not, they were sent to Rome as the girls were sent to Switzerland.
Some of the lessons for the girls was refined speech, ability to listen attentively at polite gatherings. You also learned the art of socializing in a refined, delicate way, walk straight with books on your head.
There no refined schools in my neck of the woods, then more than sixty years ago nor at the present moment. In my world, getting a certificate was the first and for most of us the only consideration. So we rarely read for pleasure. But there was Enid Blyton’s adventure stories, the Famous five and as we got older Mills and Boon.
If like me you were a girl from a poor family, getting educated was a really a big miracle. So you will wonder what will a poor girl like me in the sixties be thinking about a finishing school or knowing anything about it? Reading was not banned, and I happened to love reading, read all the James Hadley Chase available, Ian Fleming and quite a lot you will be shocked to learn. I still do. So, I read about young persons like me who lived across the pond. Read about their language. Read so much about their lifestyles and the art of good speech.
That is where I am going really, the art of good speech which comes from being a good communicator. The finishing school of people like my hero Barack Obama.
The finishing school of Maya Angelou, my ultimate poet, the school by Mahatma Gandhi, powerful communicators who could infect us with the power of their speech, and impacted our lives.
I had a quiet boss when I became a broadcaster. He was quiet in his mien and demeanour until he needed to pass a message either in the studio or through any of his programmes…Conversations with Bisi Lawrence.
Did these role models of mine go to finishing schools? I doubt if they did, but they had a gift they used very effectively. They were good communicators and for me, they had leadership skills. It was thus natural when I became a Toastmaster that I should see them as Toastmasters too. A Toastmaster is a good communicator and an active listener.
I am a Toastmaster, and now in my own finishing school. I do not need to go abroad, but Toastmasters International is available to me. I can learn at my own pace and at a very affordable price too. I learned how to listen, not just hear people speak, but also to learn active listening.
What do I learn? Quite a lot I am discovering in the Pathways they make available.
Toastmasters International is an educational NGO that teaches communicating and leadership skills in an environment of love, polite and friendly evaluation.
I see it as a personal finishing school for anyone who thinks life will be richer and easier if he has good communicating skills. When you have good communicating skills you carry the possibility of being a good leader, a thought leader. It does not matter your profession in life, you need to be able to communicate..
The beauty of this finishing school is the ability to go at your own pace to acquire the skills you need on your own terms.
Howzat?

Contemplate

Sometimes, you hear the song of the Earth,
the whisper of the sun in her loving caress of your hopes
the sighing mountain and the giggle of the ocean between the roars..
The day opens her eyes
you feel your dreams shape
her forms into hopes
like soft silk down the spine
a prayer escapes your spirit.
Caress the stars,
your hopes enwrapped
like a love-struck maid
shapes the morrow and horizon
bless the day with love seeds
tomorrow’s fruit quickens
fruits of happy harvest..

Dreams flow rich,
from the running brook,
man stands to watch,
the colouring book,
of His grace.
My soul longs to feel on me, the grace,
I sigh and lay in the soft grass of home.
The bells through the flashing lights
tell me that harvests are almost done.
Will Father find enough for the treasure?
I hope for you that
the harvest though not very pure
will ring the bells.

Persuasion
The sun can be persuaded
to have roses in the desert.
The dew at dawn is as
soft as the outer reaches of the sun.
the hand that holds the Sword is loving and firm.

The scalpel of the surgeon is sharp
to remove the errant tissue.
It is mercy.
The eagle lives on the crag
as the dove descends
and the sea breaks out on victory song.
The unicorn sniffs the golden air
for the sun is out again.

CENTRESPREAD WITH FOLAJOGUN AKINLAMI


She is young, full of life and has a right to her dreams. So you will assume., like all young persons, that she could plan for her own version of paradise. She worked hard enough and she had a right to fall in love. We all dreamed that the living happily ever after was a right and an expected entry into your own paradise.
This paradise is however stolen, by bigotry, prejudice, deceit, betrayals of the deepest and most painful….Love.
There is a painful exception to this dream, for no fault of yours, you are physically challenged. It was not from a hereditary malfunctioning of a chromosome or a set of organs, but for the sheer ignorance and stupidity of medical personnel. In my country, challenged persons will tell you this story endlessly. That was why immunisations, vaccines tended to have such impacts in our society.
However, I am not writing about such things today but about the humanity of a society who should also be given a vaccine for the ignorance with which we treat challenged members of the society.
For some of the challenged members, they have rejected the option of being beggars, have chosen to be educated, get a job and try to be a success in their chosen fields. Unfortunately, the members of the society we live in are more handicapped by tradition, ignorance, and sheer paucity of human compassion and understanding.
I have read Stolen Paradise, I am numb from all the unnecessary pain and heartache this young vibrant lady has been subjected to. She had the options, to be dependent on a loving supportive family, but she chose to walk on her own.
Stolen Paradise is a story of the incompetence’s of our society to see beyond a physical challenge and admire a hard-working, strong female mind.
Stolen Paradise is about perseverance, faith, and a creative compassionate soul faced with the bigotry of a prospective mother in law turning down a love affair between her son and a physically challenged writer, poet, presenter, and songstress.

Permit me to introduce, to Centerspread our guest Ms Folajogun Akinlami

1. Please introduce yourself to us

*Am Folajogun Akinlami, a Radio and Television Presenter, CEO Differently Abled Foundation, and Vice President Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association Nigeria.

2. When did you first sense that you were going to face the challenges of being different?

* When I was in Part 1

3. Did you ever discuss your physical disability with your mum or siblings in a personal way in respect to how you might handle romantic relationships?

* No way, am supposed to be studying hard or having boyfriends

4. Why were you attracted to the media?

* My father was an ace broadcaster before he died. He died when I was seven years old and I didn’t get to know him that much. But people who knew him would not stop singing his praise anytime they see us. I guess I just didn’t want the name to die, and I wanted became curious about his profession.

5. You wrote a beautiful song and it became your soundtrack for your first film, share your thoughts

* Ariwo Oja is about not paying attention to people who castigate you or berate you because of your disability. Ignore them and focus on the journey ahead. It’s a romantic song that fully expressed how I felt at the time.

6. Why did you write ‘Stolen Paradise’?

* I wrote Stolen Paradise to unburden myself of some deeply seated pains. I felt if I didn’t push it all out at the time I did. I might sink into depression.

7. What do you hope your new ebook will do for you?

* I hope it helps women like me accept themselves and then stay strong through all the pains their condition may have tossed their ways. I hope it challenges people who ain’t challenged to be less myopic and I hope they draw the strength of not giving up from the pages of “Stolen Paradise”.

8. Who are your role models?

* Oprah Winfrey
* Muniba Mazari
* Mercy Akinlami (Mum)
* Biola Olatunde

9. If you could change anything about you, what will it be and why?

* My initial really low perception of myself, once I saw and accepted me for who I was and what I represent. Things changed!

10. Share a typical day with our readers

* Day is mostly boring, wake up around 5am, pray, get ready for work, leave work around 4pm or 6pm or midnight depending on my shift. I have a few friends, I chat them up before bed and it begins again.

11. What will you like similarly challenged persons to take away from your story?

* The strength to keep pressing on, keep moving forward. Keep being you. Just go ahead no matter the pains and remember “Success is the best revenge ” ignore revenge mission instead invest in yourself. Keep moving ahead.

12, Please share how we may get copies of your ebook

*https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/stolen-paradise-2

13. What has been the response?
It’s been a bit encouraging. We bless God but it sure can do better.

14. How soon can we expect the hard copy?

* As soon as possible

Thank you for chatting with us on Centerspread.

The Chicken story

Memories, it can be sometimes painful. When you close your eyes, and between your eyelids, pictures emerge and remind you of things. You are old now and you wonder about the years, the pains and you wonder why they were so painful. What did they call it? Hindsight? Hmmm, never mind. Another festive season approaches, you watch the activity, the excitement that starts building. You remember the weather. It has gone a bit hazy now.
You remember walking the streets as the harmattan winds bit into your skin. The sun already hot, at nine in the morning. The little dust clouds your feet make as you skid across the street, the Earth in your nostrils.. Your head feels stuffed and your nose runs. It doesn’t matter, it is Christmas and you hear the songs. The carols they call it. It is time to dream of Jesus. You ask Him in your mind as you flip the pages. Did He ever celebrate Christmas too? You have read of Santa Claus in strange lands. They don’t understand about dust or dust haze, your fingers numb with cold nor about the chicken. Ah yes, the chicken as you wonder if you will get a fair share this time. Father has not even given any sign that they will be chicken this Christmas. You listen as hard as you can but everybody seems mournful and you return to your corner by the bed as you whisper the question to Jesus.
‘Please send one chicken to us. I know your father is a carpenter, but this is your birthday as papa says and it is the only time we eat chicken…and rice’. You say your Amen and wait trustingly. There are still two more days to Christmas. As you sneak out from your corner, you remember one more thing so you return
‘It is me again Jesus, please do something about the rice too, not that I like it. It is such a bother sitting still and picking the stones out of it. I prefer pounded yam really but the women make such a ceremony out of cooking rice and chicken. Papa prefers hot pounded yam on Christmas morning and he tops it with palm wine. I prefer that too’.
Prayers complete you return to wash the toilets, sweep the yard and wait to see which of your friends are ready. Chicken has started arriving in the barracks now. The clucking and squawking add to the excitement. No chicken yet in our house and a pair of brown eyes look trustingly to the east. In my heart, I knew the chicken will come. I watch Father’s eyes each night.
Today is Christmas eve, Father has gone to work and there is no sign of chicken but I am playing confidently in the yard. Father’s wives are going about their chores. They are making a huge pot of soup. No chicken as Father said it was too expensive for him to buy.
The children are seated around a calabash tray picking stones away from the brown rice. My heart skips a beat. I am holding a quiet conversation with my unseen friend. He is Arab but his colouring is funny. I mean, I think he is Arab like Ajide my friend but I know Him different. Then the knock comes at the door and a voice requests to know if Father is home. One of the wives answers the door.
She returns moments later a big grin on her face as she carries the biggest and fattest chicken we had ever seen.
A note was attached to its leg. The note was kept on the table for father as the children chased the squawking chicken into the yard and got it ready. We were all excited and danced around the chicken as our big uncle was fetched to kill the chicken.
Later in the evening when Father came back from work he listened in amazement as we told him how big the chicken was. He read the note, read it again. Quietly went into his bedroom and lay there reading the note. Father kept that note for the rest of his life. He still never went to Church, but he always celebrated Christmas and we would put palm wine in a goat’s horn to pray for us each Christmas morning, However, he would read the note to himself every morning.
One Christmas morning, Father called me into his bedroom and gave me the note to read. It was a simple note
‘Love is available to all human beings. When we learn to give of ourselves, then the celebration of His birthday is assured.
The chicken has been paid for by Jesus two thousand years ago.
Have a loving celebration of His birth’
Your grandson tugs at your hands and you jerk into the present, smile at him as he shows you his own picture of Christmas.