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Unbranded!

Reprisal to Nneoma’s branded

By

Chinedu Ifechelobi

I was yours! Right from the start. I saw you years before you saw me. In my dreams, all perfect in the cotton fields, everything sweet, me longing, arms wide open, you smiling, gliding towards me to hold and never let go…

I knew you years before you knew me, in the car with your parents, going to church, singing at the Sunday school, dancing and floating in the air, draped in laces, adorned with braces. I loved you

I loved you, even before you noticed me. I was young wild but wise from the start I knew you were all mine, smiled from a distance but you didn’t notice, waved as you passed but you didn’t look, called out but you ignored you were mine but you didn’t know. So I wandered, my sweet little heart in search for you but in the wrong places, I came back all broken and battered wishing you would see, notice and know, only to see you also in my state, weary from the same journey…

I came for you ready to make you see, ready to die for this cause. Seeing I had nowhere to go, seeing you were all I had, seeing my weakness, you opened your arms, not to mend my bleeding heart but for the desire to own, to brand. I smiled, you saw deception. I opened my arms, you saw a trap. I gave my heart, you saw a bargain, I smothered, you saw seduction. I spoke of dreams, fantasies and a future we could own you saw an explorer waiting like a predator to pounce on his prey. I gave you my heart, you offered your head. Many times I tried, I pleaded, screamed and insisted but you were consumed with your need to brand and to possess. Many times I gave in to you so you would see that love was not all about getting your way, but the more I gave in the more you pressed, the more we were headed for the loveless abyss. Many times I walked away hoping that the loneliness would remind you that love was all that was needed. You couldn’t be bothered, I was made for you and you for me, so I always came back. The world was cold, hard and wicked without you.

So many times I came back, for all my heart needed, was you. As many times as I came back you sent me back to the wolves. All I wanted was to love, to share to give, to lead and to build. We could have, but all you wanted was to play, to own, to dominate and to brand and I knew from my sojourn with the wolves it was all they wanted too. So when you sent me back this time, I found among the wolves a sheep! She is neither all I want nor all I need, but she’s my heart’s balm. She takes me for me, stares in my eyes like she sees stars on a lonely night, sees through to my heart when I speak, loves me to the last jagged straw. She’s not all I wanted but she has become my all, she’s not all I need but she meets all my needs. For this sheep among wolves has become my ride to die chick. This could have been us but you wanted a place to put your stamp but you failed to see  that the last piece of my remaining heart had no space for stamps; UNBRANDED

Why now?

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CNN had it boldly written on screen “Nigeria strikes back at Boko Haram” and when mighty CNN says it, then it must be true and the nation should rejoice because the news is “on CNN”! We dance around in excitement not just because of the feat achieved but in – not entirely misplaced – reverence of all things western.

But its true though, whether CNN reports it or not, the Nigerian military has recovered over 500 persons previously in the clutches of Boko Haram in the past 2 weeks. One heartrending picture of a malnourished little child rescued from captivity made the front page of our national daily. Pictures of the rescued persons make front page of many newspapers, our military is working and our local media (not just CNN) are reporting.

Prayer – For the freedom of the people in captivity, for the peaceful rest they will have outside captivity and for food like they never had in captivity, I thank thee oh Lord.

The soldiers were even able to arrest the official fuel supplier of the Boko Haram, Mr. Supplier made headline news too. The nation is happy, finally our military is working and people are being freed from captivity. I am happy too, happy for the many people who have regained freedom, happy for the children who might now be better fed.

I am happy for the military too. So far, I haven’t heard that they have lost any men recovering people from BH. I haven’t heard that they turned tail and ran too.

Prayer – For the lives of our soldiers and their recovered pride, I thank thee oh Lord!

The question that nobody is asking that I am asking however is “why now?”. My friend doesn’t understand it either, he wonders why after many years of seeming incapable, the Nigerian military is suddenly fighting Boko Haram to near defeat. He wonders how after four years of (a.) not having resources (b.) not having ammunition (c.) not having eyes in Sambisa and (d.) not having anything at all, the military is suddenly able to nearly vanquish BH.

I wonder too. I wonder if the many lives previously lost to Boko Haram could have been avoided. I wonder if the captives could not have been recovered earlier. I wonder if those malnourished children and desolate looking women recovered from captivity could have remained free in the first place. What is this sudden magic and why now?

BH was a source of many debates on social media, some arguments ran along the lines of:

  1. The army is trying
  2. GEJ is trying
  3. BH wants to discredit GEJ’s government
  4. BH is APC funded
  5. Nobody was kidnapped

There were some other arguments just painful to recall because of their invalidity. Which one of the above arguments presently hold true in the face of the military’s renewed strength and activity?

Prayer – For common sense for me and my fellow Nigerians, I pray thee oh Lord!

Boko Haram was supposedly set up by the opposition to discredit the GEJ administration. Mere weeks to the end of the GEJ administration, it can now stop BH? Why couldn’t they do it before? Why didn’t they do it before its menace sent them packing out of office? Why are they doing it now that the supposed champions of Boko Haram are about to take over? Something does not add up.

Why now?

Prayer – For answers I may never get to questions that bother me, I pray…?

STRUGGLES OF A DROWNING MAN

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The need to survive is ingrained, our desire to live supersedes status and comportment. The instinct to live closes in when our life is threatened and we fight and flail about, struggling to live. Struggling for our next breath, struggling not to be swept away. We try every trick, known and unknown to keep existing on the face of the earth. Biology has a term for it – adaptation for survival. I understood his plight. The water was closing over him and he could not go without a struggle.

He was fighting to live. Poor Elder Godsday Orubebe was drowning. The Minister in the Jonathan government was in over his head and was steadily swallowing water which was getting into his eyes and nose too. He could feel his strength draining away. He saw power slipping from him. Failure stared him in the face and his failure would mean death. I defy any man not to make a last ditch attempt to hold on to life. I defy any man not to lose face trying to keep from sinking. “Oso ndu o na-agwu ike?”, my people ask.

He disgraced his children? No, his children understood. They knew his life and by extension their lives was at stake. They knew their abundant supply of oxygen was about to run out and they realized that the fishes they once caught for sport were about to nibble on the softest parts of their flesh –  balls and eyeballs! Heaven forbid Daddy would not try to save them. As a good father he could not let them die so painfully and in death be abused in flesh. Ashamed, they were not.

His party was embarrassed? Of course not! They stayed up with him far into the night planning his survival – their survival. From a region known for radicalism, he was chosen to lead the war to reclaim their lives. It was a matter of power, resources, adoring fans and comfort for generations; it was a matter of life. Embarrassed? By what pray tell? Their carefully orchestrated strategy for survival? No way!

He cared what the international community thought? He didn’t! What did that “exalted” community care about a pawn in the massive chessboard of Nigerian politics? What was their quarrel with him? What was his with them? They would not wake him up from the dead if he died. They were also playing no role to save him from his certain fate. He was solely in control of his destiny, international community be damned!

He apologised? Hell no! Nobody deserved his apology. His family understood. His party supported. Even the opposition understood that he was fighting to remain alive. Nobody deserved his apology, definitely not Jega, who callously refused to throw him a lifeline by reacting to his desperation and who wore a wickedly poker face while he was in the very last throes of death. The security operatives didn’t deserve an apology either, sitting on the face would save their own necks whichever way the tide went (Buhari or Jonathan) so they let him struggle inelegantly to save his neck and the necks of so many others (theirs too, considering their bias for the incumbent).

He died. A slow, painful disgraceful death with his lovers and detractors cheering him on. His lovers cheering him on, hopeful that he “could” get out alive; his detractors cheering him on in mockery and praying he would sink faster with his every attempt. Loud noises followed him all the way to the grave, unrepentant mockery was served at his funeral.

I understood his plight, his desperation and his undignified attempt to live. Overturning a largely fair electoral process was a small price to pay.

He paid the price and then he drowned.

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N.B – All images in this post are from google o!

OF DASHED HOPES AND GREAT EXPECTATIONS

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Google Image

We have been here before, alive with dreams of a better Nigeria, jubilant in the enthronement of the choice made by the majority and generally hopeful of a better life. It was the general elections of 2011 that took us there. Many of us had just voted a President who we hoped would serve us the good life, who we imagined (as the masses often imagine) would redistribute the wealth of the nation to make sure we got slices of “our” national cake. The man we elected in 2011 was one of our own, a Daniel come to judgement.

Basking in the euphoria of a largely peaceful general elections and mocking the “sore” losers of that race, we settled down to reap our rewards. Reap it we did! Many of us had voted in favour of religion, it did not bring succour to us when the scourge of governmental indecision and apathy was unleashed. Many others voted for tribe, neither they nor their tribe had much to show for their votes. Some of us voted an illusion, a dream of perfection, we were speedily brought down to earth, awakened by harsh realities piercing through dreams and demanding attention. A few remained satisfied by the choice we collectively made, some diehard optimists, some diehard tribalists, some religious diehards and of course the ever present beneficiaries of every lax government who fight to protect their personal interests.

In the face of growing dissatisfaction, the ranks of the jubilant electorate of 2011 broke down irremediably. Discordant tunes rent the air. “Give the man a break, he is trying…” some said “let him be, the opposition is not letting him see straight” some others excused. But the electorate of 2011 had great expectations, we trusted a demi-god and damned his opposition, we expected him to serve us in spite of the opposition. We did not care if he was trying, we needed him to deliver. “Trying” wasn’t quelling violence in the north east, “trying” wasn’t translating to a better life for us either; accusations of corruption heated the polity “trying” was neither addressing the accusations nor fighting the accused or the accuser (depending on who was guilty biko).

In the face of our dissatisfaction was the voice of our number 1 woman alternately grating on the nerves of both supporters and detractors or serving as an endless source of amusement for the populace. In the face of our dissatisfaction, acts of impunity against perceived “future messiahs” rubbed salt in our wounds, easy to recall is the famous national assembly lockout, the unaddressed Fayose to Judge slap too.

In time we gathered to elect another leader. The loving populace of 2011 had all but fizzled out. Our former elect did not know this, he could not have known this. A close group of sycophants who I hear hound every government had insulated him from the people and blocked his ears with praise singing and encouragement. A good man at heart (I hope and assume), his followers would not let him do his own campaigning. Full page adverts in the pages of newspapers abusing his opposition was to be his form of communication, hate messages and spiteful pictures formed his campaign. Controversy (Buhari certificate and close-to-death scandal) was stirred by his “camp” to confuse the electorate. His voice at the campaign was loudest and clearest, it screamed “Vote for me. I dare you NOT TO”

The passionate electorate of 2011  rechanneled their passion. Another messiah was needed, another Daniel was required at the judgement. Another demi-god to correct perceived and blatant ills was needed. Again we went out and selected another. We made sweeping changes to our government, it wasn’t just the head we removed, we “swept” clean many of the States too.

We are again hopeful of a better life and a new Nigeria. In addition, we believe we have elected CHANGE. A man with a broom to sweep every State, Ministry and Sector. Who will also put an end to corruption, ours and theirs. We are again jubilant in the enthronement of the choice made by the majority and we wait with bated breaths and great expectations for our refreshing wind of change or the stifling stench “re-dashed” dreams and business as normal disappointing usual!

2019 will tell – dashed dreams or met expectations

 

 

Colours of Christmas in Eastern Nigeria

As an Igbo girl, eastern Nigeria is my default Christmas destination. I go right down to my roots, to my Father’s village! I have done this for all my life and I can hardly remember Christmas not spent in the village. I am not alone either, every Christmas, there is a massive exodus of Igbos from the cities down to the east. I join that exodus every year and it is fun. The fun starts with the trip – the mad scramble for bus tickets (for the many who do not have cars), the packing to fit everything that we MUST carry in bags and boots, then of course, the accidental meeting of friends on our way homewards and the mad frenzy to get out of the city before the 25th of December. To sound religious or romantic (whichever) I could say the origin of Igbos travelling home for Christmas is rooted in the bible when Joseph and Mary had to travel to their hometown to be counted but I will be the first to admit right here and now, amaro m. I don’t know why we go to the east, I just know we go to the east and Christmas in the eastern part of Nigeria is fun!

Maybe it’s fun because everybody comes back, those cousins you haven’t seen in ages, those family friends who you haven’t visited in forever in the big city, everybody comes down and its communal living all over again with the beautiful harmattan breeze, burning firewood smell in the air and general laziness that comes with the season setting the mood really nicely for all of us.

Maybe it’s the general laziness that makes it fun, the endless “gists” about anything and everything while we nibble on everything in sight in tranquillity, that could be the reason we all rush back. If not, It could be the ceremonies that make it fun! Because all of us have run away from the hustle and bustle of the different cities and have found ourselves in the east, we fix memorable occasions to coincide with it too and then we jump from one igba nkwu to one birthday to one wedding and another title taking and then a get-together gorging ourselves on lavish food, meeting people, spraying money in the air and “gisting” as we go!

It could be the joy of our grandparents that makes the visit to the east so appealing at christmas. The visits to the nneochies and nnaochies who are ever glad to see us.

There is healthy abi unhealthy competition in the east too, that could be what makes homegoing fun or not so fun, we don’t set out to compete when we get there we just tell stories that drive very scary competition by their very nature “nwanne, I nukwa na Emeka bu G-wagon nata obodo a?”, “Enyi, I makwa na-anyi ga-egbulu umunna efi this Christmas”, “Bia, I fuu Obi? A nu m na o si obodo oyibo nata and o na-eme ofuma” and on and on we go, telling success story after the other and setting scarier higher standards for those who have no stories to tell, wahala!

I personally think it’s the sleep that makes it fun, that very satisfying sleep at the end of a day spent catching up, visiting friends and partying, when you fall into bed with a smile on your face and hug Mama’s wrapper tighter to create a cosy cocoon without the intrusion of the harmattan breeze. Then the mornings when no alarm goes off and you wake up late with thoughts of what next to eat, who next to visit and what to wear for the day’s activities.

I don’t know what makes Christmas in the east so much fun, I just know I am headed that way again this Christmas!

 OKEY WALI SAN: 9 DAYS IN CAPTIVITY

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For 9 days now Okey Wali SAN the 26th president of the NBA has been in captivity. Held by the abductors who have become a near acceptable menace in our society.

Already, his abduction has become fading news. Nobody seems to be too concerned about his welfare or his release. True, the NBA has paid a visit to his home and issued a press release, but those things will not bring him back.

Muttered requests for his release and jostling of Senior Lawyers in the pages of newspapers to condemn his abduction will not bring him back. Okey Wali’s abduction is a brazen laugh in the face of security, a jab in the chest of all activists, advocates and promoters of the rule of law! His abduction is an attack on the legal profession and their unflinching position to use the law to protect society.

Our deafening silence in the face of this attack must not continue! Lawyers, activists and all concerned citizens should protest and demand his release. Our silence will be assent and an incentive for the next kidnap. Like the Bring Back our Girls campaigners who are relentless in their drive, Lawyers and other Nigerians who see the risks in remaining silent must take up this campaign to bring Okey Wali home!

The countdown is on! BringBackOkeyWali-Day 9!

Note well – The writer is not a Lawyer!

26 Things That Happen When You Grow Up In An African House

OK… This post is not original to me but its awesome and soooo true!

Thought Catalog

As you may or may not be able to tell, I am on a mission to educate America about Africa – all 54 countries – and what is to be African. Okay, so I’m kidding about knowing everything about all 54 countries and I cannot speak for all Africans as it turns out. Still, I love making sweeping generalizations in my free time so why not do it about an identity I at least identify with? I have always found it interesting that no matter where they actually grow up, African children, at least of my generation (and probably socio-economic class), are pretty much raised the same way. So, here it goes:

1. Your parents are basically demi-gods. It doesn’t matter if you learned that the sky is blue. If your parents say the sky is orange, the sky is in fact, orange. At least, in their presence.

2. Your…

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