I keep returning to the book The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe. It was written in 1983 and described then as a must read for all Nigerians who care about their country, who feel they can no longer stand idly by and wring their hands in anguish while Nigeria is destroyed by bad leadership, corruption and inequality.’ The year again was 1983. This trouble eloquently described by Achebe remains our trouble in 2020.

Like I noted in yesterday’s post, a country that kills its own youth, kills its own self. Nigeria is still in trouble. Nothing has changed. Bad leadership, corruption and inequality still prevails. We all still care about Nigeria and we all can no longer sit idly by and wring our hands in anguish this time in 2020 as Nigeria massacres it’s own youth. The time for action then was 1983 and it pains me to say that the time of action once again is 2020. When will all this end. When will we all join in the effort towards new social and political order for Africa’s most populous country.

The odd thing with the book is that Achebe dedicated it to his children and their age-mates in Nigeria whose future he noted warranted the argument. The inspiration and the vigor of the book come from them. In other words Achebe was writing for Nigeria’s future in 1983. If Achebe’s generation could not do it, if their labors were in vain, what then must we do so that my children’s generation will not quote me or Achebe in the future. The trouble with Nigeria remains. But given the need to end police brutality, to end bad leadership, to end inequality, to end corruption, it also needs to end now. Enough is enough. Hopeless as things maybe today, we are not beyond redemption noted Achebe in 1983. ‘Nigerians are what they are only because our leaders are not what they should be,’ said Achebe. The time for change is now. Keep focusing on the trouble with Nigeria. And this time, under brave and enlightened youth leaders, maybe we will get it right.

A country’s youth reveal its social condition. In Elliot Aronson’s briliant book entitled The Social Animal, he noted that how we make sense of our world makes a difference. And we attempt to make sense of our world hundreds of times a day. Even the most trivial or important decisions we make, are all dependent on how we construct and make sense of our social world. So for example, when a country fosters hope and inspires its youth, the country in turn is hopeful and inspires itself. When a country educates and employs its youth, the country educates and employs itself. When a country heals its youth, the country heals itself. And when a country allows its youth to innovate and thrive, the country innovates and thrives for itself. But what happens when a country attacks and kills its own youth, well then following my logic or how I choose to make sense of my world (however accurate or flawed this logic maybe-just bear with me), the country attacks and kills its own self. Such was the mayhem in Nigeria today. Today, Nigeria attacked and killed itself.

The government took it upon it’s hands to shot at unarmed protesters asking for an end to police brutality. Such moments open ones eyes to the fact that Nigeria is under siege and not open to ensuring that young people have a voice or fully participate in the country’s future. And what then is a country without it youth population, without a future. One of the reasons I mentor graduate doctoral students is because I know the significance of getting the next generation ready for research in the same way someone got me ready years ago. Nigeria is not ready to mentor its young. The actions of today, the unnecessary use of force on young people protesting for things to change, protesting to stir things up with police reform, illustrates this point vividly. We all anxiously wait for what remains to be done so that a New Nigeria, where the labors of our hero’s past are truly not in vain, arises. Until then, keep rising young Nigerians for yourselves. For when a country’s youth take it upon themselves to rise up, the country will be forced to rise up as well.

There is a bubble guppies dvd in my car that my children watch over and over again. We watched it yesterday during our trip to the park. In the episode (and I paraphrase), the guppies meet a substitute teacher, Mr. Grumpfish and they say ‘Good morning,’ to him to which he replied, what’s so good about the morning. Then the guppies go through a series of events that finally has Mr. Grumpfish being engaged and hopeful for the day. This episode has always stuck in my mind because of Mr. Grumpfish’s initial response about what’s so good about a morning. I say everything. Now more than ever, we all need to keep saying those words.

From Bubble Guppies.

To the French it’s Bonjour, or Spanish people Buenos Dias, or the Igbo’s Ututu Oma, or those who prefer English, Good Morning. There is something so powerful as simply saying these words to everyone one you meet in the morning. The simplicity and reasonableness of such a statement is profound. I grew up in a household where the first thing we all said to each other upon waking up was Good morning. We really listened when and how mornings weren’t good. Especially as related to bad dreams or sleepless nights. Every Good morning we uttered was an opportunity for rich conversations focused on our social and emotional health. Then we prayed it all away and went on to start the daily routines for the day, shower, breakfast etc.

I have been teaching my children this routine since I had the privilege of calling them mine. It seems like a trivial task. But in a world where civility is no longer the norm, where humanity hardly prevails, where we fail to listen to each other, a simply gesture, with those 2 words can go a long way. It’s one of the reasons I love running in the morning. Almost every runner you met, strangers at best, with mask or no mask, nods their heads, waves their hands, in a simple gesture that means for me good morning. Positive emotions at the start of the day may enhance satisfaction, engagement and maybe even foster wellbeing throughout the day. Positive emotions may influence creativity, triggering creative thoughts especially for those who start their day early in the morning with daily activities such as writing. Positive emotions may build positive expectancies such as hope which in turn leads to dedication or vigor for what ever plans you have for the day. Our country needs simple positive gestures like this. So as I start my day, good morning to anyone who reads this.

Today I ran my very first 6mile race. I reached a plateau with running 10miles a week last week. In fact rather than achieving my health and weight loss goals with running, I was moving in the opposite direction. Apparently this is a common running phenomenon known as train gain. Just when you start ramping your running mileage, you start to gain weight. I love running but setbacks like this can be discouraging. After coming to terms with the fact that running wasn’t working health or weight-loss wise as I had imagined, I gave up running my goal of 10miles a week last week. I only did 4 miles. There was no motivation to run. I didn’t even feel any commitment to my goals.

But this morning, I got up determined to rethink my strategy. For starters it meant that I had to be honest with myself. The reason why I wasn’t achieving my weight loss and health goals despite reaching my running mileage week after week was because I increased eating unhealthy things. Like Andy’s frozen yogurt in the stolen brownie and peacans flavor or red velvet cake from Whole Foods. Honestly any cake from Whole Foods has as soft spot in my heart. Then they are the endless supply of dark chocolate and salted caramel filling or plantain chips, lots and lots of salty plantain chips. My junk food eating habit has increased tremendously since I started to run.

So today I made a new goal. I made a commitment to myself to run 12 miles a week. I also ended my love affair with Whole Foods and their deserts. It had been a wonderful summer. I am recommitting myself to drinking at least half a gallon of water every day and trips to Andy’s frozen yogurts have now ended. I intend to keep running because I actually love it. And for deep change to occur, I am equally committed to living a healthy lifestyle so as to ultimately surpass all your goals.

The other day my husband shared a message he got from the child of one of his patients. It simply read, ‘thank you for saving my dad’s life. You are a hero.’ My husband is a hero to me every single day. The stories he shares, especially the near death ones with some of his patients are simply inspirational. He never toots his own horn. In fact if he reads this post, he may tell me to delete it as he ‘HATES’ accolades. But I wanted to take the time to write briefly about him because he deserves all the praises for what he does every single day. He will never ask for the spotlight. That’s not his nature. He is selfless with the care of his patients and I am in awe always of his dedication to them.

Take for example this past Wednesday he got home around 8pm (he left the house around 7am), took his night shower, ate his dinner and got paged that a patient was arriving at the hospital. After a couple of minutes he logged on to his laptop see what was happening I guess with a brain imaging and then he muttered, I have to go in. It was close to 9:30pm. I loathe every time he has to go in, especially at night because at night he is just a black man driving his car, not a doctor or anything. He left, I prayed Psalm 91 over his life then slept off.

When I work up around 2am to breastfeed baby, he was home sleeping and I was elated. Another peaceful night or so I thought. The next morning he was up around 6:30am getting ready to go back to work and he casually shared he was pulled over on his way home by a police officer and given a ticket for speeding. I said were you speeding, he said yes as he was tired after performing the surgery on his patient and he wanted to get home to sleep. But the kicker for me was that the police officer called another police officer as back up and so there were now two police cars behind his car. He said he placed his hand on the dashboard the entire time and complied with all their instructions. The first police car that pulled him over was driven by a white police officer. The second police car that later joined him was driven by a black police officer. The white police officer stayed behind in his car after speaking to him to run his plate and proceed to write the ticket. But the black police officer who drove the second police car approached his car afterwards and spent sometime talking to him. He was in awe that he was talking to a black surgeon as he shared he is not used to seeing any. He even thanked my husband for what he does to save the lives of his patients and my husband thanked him for what he does on the streets as well. Their exchange was pleasant, stunning and full of humanity because they saw themselves in each other.

When people say black lives matter, it’s because of stories like what my husband shared. What if and it’s a big what if, this night did not end peacefully? What if the second police car was driven by a black police officer? What if I didn’t pray Psalm 91 every night he goes out? It doesn’t matter whether you are a doctor, whether you save lives, whether you do it in the morning or in the middle of the night, none of that matters if you are black. Black Lives Matter, police reform, is forever urgent and it’s something neither I nor you can ignore especially now given this election. It is time for engaged directed action on this issue, not idle wishful speculation. So vote. Vote for black lives. Vote for black lives that save lives. Vote until everyone realizes how black lives matter. Vote until everyone is wakened and alert to all the black lives that matter. Black lives are not gifts to humanity, the exchange between my husband and the black police officer proves this. Black lives are a necessity for humanity. Vote for black lives, it matters and quite frankly saves lives.

I love a great friendship especially one that endures through time. Yesterday on 2 separate text messages, I connected with 2 sets of friends that I have known for very long time. They say friendship is like fine wine. It never goes old. My friends are truly the most delicious wine.

The first text was with a friend that I grew up with in Nigeria. She also happens to be a brilliant Nollywood actress now. We had not spoken to each other in months. When we connected yesterday it was as if the last time we spoke to each other was previous day. She still remains down to earth despite being a celebrity. We caught up on everything, from the ongoing pandemic to the ongoing police brutality protests in Nigeria. We made plans to schedule her to speak to a group in the US that I know would be interested in learning more about the ongoing campaign to end SARS in Nigeria. I am hoping we can use her platform to get more young Nigerians in the US to key in to the ongoing protests in Nigeria because it affects all of us.

The other was a group chat with 3 friends I met in college over 19 years ago. One of friend is a famous news journalist now and it’s always a joy to connect to the friend we knew before the accolades. Again, it was as if the last time we talked to each other was the previous day. We caught up with each other’s life, laughed a lot and even managed to pray all in a manner of minutes. One of us chimed that she stepped away for a minute just to see 64 new texts by the time she returned. That’s how my friendships are. Pure delight. They are with people who are just straight up loving and kind and genuine about each other’s progress. I cherish these connections.

But the icing on the cake for me yesterday was reading my daughters journaling on friendship. Her teacher asked what are some of the ways that you could be a good friend. She responded (and I paraphrase) that she would; 1) cheer her friends up when they are sad; 2) make them laugh; 3) read (to them); 4) give what I have; and 5) share with others. That in the end is the essence of good friendships. That we are there for each other especially in tough times. We learn from each. We laugh together. We read or pray together. We also give and share ourselves and our precious time no matter how small. That my little girl gets it at this age is lovely to me. It made my day. I intend to keep being a good friend to all my friends.

One of the best things about homeschooling for my 3rd grader is her journaling assignments. Every morning, prior to the start of her school work, her teacher provides a prompt and asks the students to reflect on the prompt. For the past several months since school started, my little girl has been writing her heart out. It is the most beautiful thing to watch. One of the prompts at the beginning of the school year focused on what she would like to learn through the year. My daughter, (bless her heart), said she would like to learn how to be a doctor. Not just any doctor, but a pediatrician. She felt that in 3rd grade, she should be exposed to medical science that would allow her to practice medicine. I was in awe.

Warren Berger’s book A more beautiful question, helps me understand the power of journaling among children. Berger emphasizes the power of inquiry even for children as young as my daughter. He suggested that questions, especially when posed to children, can be used to gain information, foster a desire to know more while enhancing an awareness of what they don’t know. One good journaling question posed to a 3rd grader can give rise to several layers of answers, inspire decades-long searches for solutions, prompt changes in entrenched thinking and ultimate generate new fields of inquiry.

Reading my daughters journals this school year have been gratifying. The floodgates of her imagination seem to open up every time she journals. Watching her unlock her potential every time she writes has also been quite stunning. Whether it’s her thoughts on ways to be a good friend or why she would rather live in a tree-house instead of an Igloo or a sandcastle, I see firsthand how crucial it is to ensure that children write. Her curiosity and creativity with every journal entry helps to maintain her propensity to inquire and learn in profound ways even now as a 3rd grader. She would live in a treehouse by they way, as it would have a fun slide and allow her to see or have a good view of everything. That by they way is why writing as a child matters. It fosters inquiry. Keep encouraging it.

We spent this morning at the hospital. Baby Ray was due for his 3 month shot. We got up early. I gave him a warm bath, put on a blue play suit as it was a cool morning, gave him his meds and spent a little over 30 minutes breastfeeding baby. Hospital visits like today have a way of making me feel nervous. It’s almost like I am the one getting the shot and not baby. It’s nerve racking in a sense.

When we got to the hospital, and into the room where it would happen, I almost had a panic attack once I saw the shot. I was told by the nurse to undress him down to his diaper. I did. She took his pulse and temperature. He squirmed. I held him closer to my chest. She brought a weighing machine and asked me to put him on the scale. He was 7.595kg. I didn’t bother to ask for his weight in pounds. It didn’t matter. As if sensing something was amiss, he drew closer to me. I held him tightly. The moment was close. I unbuttoned my black shirt and placed him on my breast. I hoped the feeding would blunt the pain of the needle. It didn’t. He cried. A slow soundless scream that erupted into heavy sobs.

I tried to console him, said sorry in Igbo over and over. Ndo, Ndo, Ndo. Placed his lips back on my breast. Fed him for about 4mins. The nurse came back with the discharge summary. We didn’t speak. Baby didn’t smile and I didn’t either. I slowly put his clothes back on, slowly but him back in his car seat, and without saying goodbye, we left. What can I say, I was relived the experience was over, but wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. I know these shots are important and vital for all newborn baby. We have another appointment next month. I’m sure this cycle will start all over again. In the meantime, his smile at the end of the day, even in pain, keeps me going.

In his bestselling book “The fire next time,” James Baldwin shared a statement that perfectly describes the ongoing strife with SARS, (the Special Anti-Robbery Squad) in Nigeria today. He noted (and I paraphrase) behind what we think of as menace, lies what we do not wish to face…that fact is that life is tragic. For the Nigerian youth today with SARS, life is indeed tragic.

The past couple of days have been filled with protests from one corner to another with Nigerian youth of all ages and caliber demanding for an end to SARS. Some youth have been injured in the process, some are missing and unaccounted for, while some have been killed. But what has also been very inspiring, very remarkable to see is how within few days, young Nigerians themselves, without a leader, without even coordination to some extent, have managed to coordinate a movement with logistics and rapid response, all to eloquently convey, why the ineptitude of SARS should end.

But just when there seemed to be hope for the Nigerian youth despite all the impediments they face, I listened as a former SARS Commander and Chief Superintendent of Police, Vandefan Tersugh James shared that he knows how difficult it is for someone ages 20-30 to own a car worth N7million naira in Nigeria. He noted that if they could not ascertain the source of the youth’s wealth, their background or family background, they would not only search the youth’s property without a warrant, but they could possibly detain the youth.

Herein lies why life as a youth in Nigeria is tragic. This thinking, this type of thinking for Africa’s most populous country’s youth population is a key reason why SARS must and should end. That’s all! Otherwise life for Nigeria’s youth will not only remain tragic, but useless. END SARS NOW!

I grew up in Nigeria watching a series on TV called ‘Tales by Moonlight.’ In the series, an aunty, gathered children around and told them traditional folktales or stories that inculcate societies values into children. She began by stating these words that made a deep impression on my mind: ‘Story, story.’ The children replied: ‘Story.’ Then she stated; “Once upon a time.’ To which the children replied ‘Time, Time.’ Then the story began. The stories were mostly about societal norms, respect for authority, unity with siblings, and morals heavily laden with lessons on how to live, how to act, when to speak, or when to talk and what was expected from every child even in childhood. The stories were inseparable from every aspect of life in Nigeria and used to tell children what to do and how to do it.

In turn, the show became an exemplar on how to transmit and continue values that make society and family systems whole. An exemplar on how values of a society enhance unity, group solidarity and cooperative effort rather than individualism, how values foster understanding between generations, how values teach the proper role of everyone in a society, and how values vividly imagined in our minds, in informal, serene and unruffled ways, highlight the essential conflicts between what is right and what is wrong in any given society. Tales by moonlight with its stories full of lessons for life, was valuable to me.

As a mother now to four little children, I am always in search of materials that teach life lessons in informal, serene ways, especially through stories that allow my children to vividly imagine for themselves, the things that are of value in any given society. In fact, some nights we end the day in the same way aunty began her stories on Tales by Moonlight, ‘Story, Story.’ In the absence of the show Tales by Moonlight, book helps my children imagine and gain practical lessons in values of our society. Enter the book, ‘Anansi the Spider.’

The book Anansi The spider.

As part of our weekly reading series for homeschooling, we read Anansi the Spider to my junior kindergarten. His sister made a spider for her class work last Friday and so today’s reading was a perfect fit.

Anansi the Spider is a tale from the Ashanti People of Ghana adapted and illustrated by Gerald McDermott. It was a 1973 Caldecott Honor book for its vibrant, stylized realization of this classic and timeless folklore from the Ashanti people.

In this colorful retelling, we are introduced to Anansi’s sons: See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower and Cushion. When Anansi got lost and fell into trouble, all his sons used their special skills to save him. When he wanted to reward the sons for saving him, he discovers an important lesson. Each son, from See Trouble who knew when he was in danger to Cushion who helped when he fell from the sky, is equally important. None of the sons are more valuable than the other. In other words, everyone one is valuable and has a role to play in this life.

Stories like Anansi play a role in fostering values of everyday life that matter. They impressed the traditions and values of my heritage deep into my consciousness. The essential goals of folktales like Anansi are admirable and remains sterling. We should all do our part to keep reading these folktales to children.

My son Olisadubem.