Friday 11 December 2020

Reflections on my time in Central African Republic

When I accepted a posting to Central African Republic (CAR) in 2018, a friend asked what I had done wrong to be sent here. From what I had heard, the road ahead seemed like it would be a long one.
I worked in Bertoua in the East of Cameroon in 2016, with refugees from CAR. At the time, I made a mental note not to accept a posting here, were it ever to be an option, because of the horror stories I heard.

I had no expectations whatsoever, the predominant feeling was uncertainty. These are my last days here and I am uncertain how I managed to last for 21 months! It has been quite the roller coaster and those curves have been just like the sharp twists and turns of an actual roller coaster.

Central African Republic celebrated its' 60th year of independence on August 13th 2020 which got me reflecting. To give a back ground to things, in 2013, a mostly Muslim coalition violently ousted the government. Some months later, a Christian militia sprung up to resist the Muslim group. It went further as the Christian group carried out attacks around the West of the country against Muslim communities. This degenerated and clashes between groups and against civilians continues to raise concerns. About 80% of the country is controlled by armed groups and attacks against civilians are still recurrent. 
A peace agreement was signed in 2019 between the government and 14 armed groups, but the road to implementing and respecting this agreement is a long one.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Shocked into a kiss

They were attending a seminar and he seemed to have an eye for Anita. On the other hand, another colleague of hers, Sonia, had an eye for him. Anita was oblivious…what a love triangle!

The two ladies got on very well and were fun loving people. They worked hard but also partied hard. Over the years of them working together, they had cultivated friendship between one another. They worked in different locations, so each time they saw themselves, they made the best of it. This time was no different as they were attending a regional work conference.

After a long three days of many sessions, they all went out for dinner then dancing afterwards. As the night progressed, alcohol flowed and the giggles were more than usual. Each person showed their skills on the dance floor, it was interesting to watch. When the whole team was calling it a night, Bruce offered to drop Anita and Sonia, it was his town anyway. Sonia settled in the front seat while Anita sat behind. Sonia was to fly out the next morning while Anita had a day to discover the town.

Monday 7 September 2020

Pay Attention to Your State of Mind

"My entire sytem works with my state of mind"...these were the words I said to a friend a few days ago.

I have come to accept that being healthy is not impossible, especially as parts of our bodies are wired to work in tandem. There have been times I didn't even realise I was dwelling on an issue till my body started acting up. Sometimes we may not think anything could bothering us/may be on our minds but in general if you start to have unexplained health issues, especially where all tests come back negative, you might want to check. It might have been pushed back in your mind but nags at you.

Some of the syptoms I have noticed over time, that make me realise I need to slow down are:

- Difficulty sleeping

- Headaches and feeling light headed

- Increased indigestion, bloating, diarrhoea

Although I have no scientific proof, from my personal experience, here are some of that always solve the issue:

Saturday 25 July 2020

Nigeria's International Image & the Blight of Internet Fraud

Have you ever been judged based on your nationality?

This is something that Nigerians are very familiar with. The sad reality is that based on your nationality, you could be written off and denied countless opportunities from stereotypes attached.

I've met people who after introduction instantly said '419' or 'Boko Haram'. This is something I can never get used to. I was reading an article about Nigerian Fraudsters who were arrested in the U.A.E. This article like many others mentions that many internet fraud related acts could be traced to Nigeria. But this same article highlights the heavy blow the act of certain individuals deals on Nigerians.

These quotes from the article were my favourite:

"A lot of Nigerians are doing fantastic things all over the world, but they don't get as much media mileage as the guys doing bad things. It affects all the guys doing legitimate stuff especially in the tech space,".

"A lot of foreign companies don't ship to Nigeria, many payment platforms don't accept payments from us because it has ruined our image."


Monday 13 July 2020

Spreading positivity

Is there ever a time when the world is devoid of bad news? I've consciously been putting out my thoughts to encourage people to stay positive. Over the last week, here is what I shared on different days.


Feel free to leave some of your thoughts in the comment section, lets spread some positivity around.


  • Although reality checks are necessary every now and then, we sometimes may be too hard on ourselves and by extension others.
    Have the courage to be kind and have realistic expectations of yourself. Push yourself but don't forget to be loving to yourself, it makes a difference.


  • Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, ordinary and hardworking people. We tend to place value on people based on public recognition. While fame has its place, ordinary has its place as well. Not everyone will have fame and fortune so ordinary should not be equated to unimportant


·       Gratitude leads to joy…it is a recognition of the small things. Waiting on big things to happen without recognizing the little may set you up for disappointment. Sometimes it is a combination of the little, every day, ordinary moments that make up the big ones.



·       We've become so serious that we forget to play. Sometimes all we need is play and good laughter to lighten us up. Lifes not that serious. Play shapes our brain, helps us foster empathy, navigate complex social groups & is at the core of creativity and innovation ~ Dr Stuart Brown.


  • Be considerate of other peoples feelings. While it's easy to tap away on your keyboard, you have no idea what state of mind the receiving party might be in. Kindness reflected in what you write can do a lot of good.


  • Please. Sorry. Thank you. Excuse me. - These magic words open doors. No one has ever died from using them. Be humble enough to say them.
Have an amazing week 💙💚💛💜💝

Monday 22 June 2020

Fighting Sexual Violence is Our Collective Responsibility

Before asking, he warned me by saying I have something to ask and I hope it won't offend you. I told him to go ahead. Then he asked me if he could take me in his arms (direct translation). I immediately said no and moved on to talking about something else. We were watching a programme on TV and the question came out of nowhere. This conversation all happened in French and French can seem unnecessarily intimate sometimes. We lived together, he was one of my flat mates. I reckoned he just wanted a hug but the way he asked, it came off as a bit creepy to me. Sometimes, you click with people and feel comfortable enough to hug each other, it never crossed my mind to hug this colleague.

One day, like every other time, I took a walk with another colleague, which was a normal thing. This one was my buddy, we got along very well. He was one of the ones I was comfortable with and would hug every now and then in greeting. He was quite excited on this day and was chatting away. When we got to the spot we wanted to reach, the view was beautiful. I stood admiring it then I felt someone hugging me from behind. It could only have been him as the other people around were not close enough. I was slightly confused as I stood there. Someone hugging me from behind suggests a few things to me. Unsure of what may have followed, I broke the contact by suggesting that we take a selfie. It worked. Afterwards, he posed for me to take photos of him, and in that moment, I said a silent prayer to God...'please let there be nothing more, let it be that his excitement got him carried away'. As we walked back, we talked as usual but before we could go far, he apologised. He said he was sorry if his action made me uncomfortable. I was relieved and said it was ok especially as I didn't want to walk back with in awkward silence. Then I chided myself for not saying 'if it happens again, that's when we would have a problem'. But I think he was smart enough to know that. 

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Digging deep into my faith

Growing up, attending Sunday school and bible study groups in the neighbourhood, I was sure that God cared about us, little children, and we would have these fun bible studies and play games. We also watched Christian videos with children singing at the Colby clubhouse, Kids praise and others. These made Chrsitianity so much fun. We learnt and recited bible verses and even had a dance group.

In secondary school, God was righteous and was to be revered and worshipped. But he was also cool, we had what I could call praise parties, then intense worship. Sometimes some of my school mates went overboard with the righteousness thing but I preferred the cool part so I stuck with it.

As I got older, God was portrayed as holy, in whose presence there was meant to be no sin. God would not shy away from judging whoever was found wanting. For me that judgment was done through his agents in church as examplified by people who worked in church. It was also the time when I saw that one or two girls who were slightly older had gotten pregnant. There was so much talking amongst mothers that it felt like the girls had committed the most unpardonable sin. God was somehow mirrored in that way to me at that stage of my life.

Monday 1 June 2020

Enough is enough!

There has been nothing but madness going on around the world!

I woke up yesterday to twitter buzzing with news of a young woman who went to church to study in Benin, Edo state of Nigeria. Uwa, a 22-year-old woman, was raped, her head smashed with a fire extinguisher and she was left in a pool of her blood to die…IN CHURCH! #JusticeforUwa

As I scrolled on to see more details, I read about Jennifer, an 18-year-old girl, who was gang raped by 5 men in Kaduna state. I got outraged when I googled to see if anything had been done, only to see that the family was willing to accept a settlement. That would never repair the damage that was done to her and I am glad that people are demanding that justice be served to the boys. #JusticeforJennifer

There was one more hashtag…#JusticeforTina. From what I read, Tina was 'accidentally' shot by a trigger-happy policeman who was trying to enforce the curfew in Lagos. He seemed to have been asking for a bribe to let the bus go but the driver refused and was shot, an altercation ensued, and he shot randomly into the crowd. The bullet hit Tina, a 16-year-old girl. Why do policemen need to shoot at all to pass their point? And this is not a one off incident!

Friday 22 May 2020

Visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi

        I visited Dubai at the end of 2019 into 2020 and I have to say that it sure lives up to the hype. It is such a vibrant city, buzzing with activities.
I spent 10 days with my mum and 2 friends and I have to add that we did not rest, one bit. From our arrival to our departure, we were on the move; there is so much to see and do.

We started with the global village which was interesting to see. The fusion of so many Arab countries represented, especially the food was amazing. There were different performances; car stunts, Bollywood, cartoons etc. as we wandered through, there was only so much we could see. The place is huge!

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Something remarkable 2

In case you missed the last part, please read it here.

Tare had never spoken a word of Spanish…where was she going to start from? They had talked of her taking Spanish classes, but she was overwhelmed with everything. She was thankful every day that she and her husband spoke the same local language, when she was tired of trying, she would easily speak Yoruba to him instead of English so that no one would understand what she was saying. The big shock for her was how they walked everywhere. Unlike her life in Nigeria where she would jump into her car and go where she wanted, she had to study the train and bus times and plan around those schedules. Manual labour was very expensive so she had to learn to do everything herself. Her husband helped when he could but with his work schedule and knowing that that was their only source of income, she could not complain.

Winter was approaching, so was the delivery. Having a first child and having to deal with everything on her own made her miserable. She spent a lot of time thinking as her husband was not there for her to share these fears with. She was not ready to speak to her mum about these concerns. Her mum would not only get worried but would blow up Seyi’s phone, which might just do more harm than good. Seyi came home tired and somewhat uninterested in all her baby talk most days; she quickly learnt not to bother him with it.

Her bundle of joy arrived one fine snowy day, after 20 hours of labour. The pain is not something anyone can ever prepare you for. But like they say, once you have the baby in your hands, you realise that the pain was worth it. Tare moved into the spare bedroom so that the baby’s constant crying would not bother her husband. He was involved at first but that started to wear out. Communication between the couple was strained and Tare easily focused on her baby, her only source of joy. Postpartum depression kicked in and was worsened by Tare juggling everything. Learning to be a mother on her own, constantly on the phone with her mum when she has no clue what to do. And having to deal with Seyi’s attitude, Tare started to feel unloved, inadequate and her self-confidence dropped all the way to the floor.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Something remarkable

A notification popped up on her phone, it was a friend request on Facebook. This person looked familiar, but she could not place where/if they had met. They had so many mutual friends, so why not she thought to herself. She accepted his request.

He sent messages, but she did not feel inclined to respond at first. A few days later, he buzzed again so she thought she would be polite. Before long, she realised that he drew her in, the guy knew how to hold a conversation. He made her laugh and their banter flowed naturally. She looked forward to chatting with him, which they did daily.

Tare caught herself imagining what it would be like to meet him. The topic came up and they finally set a date for him to visit. She was nervous, she had butterflies in her tummy, but it turned out to be such a beautiful time. She laughed like she had not done in such a long time. There was a strong attraction between them and on that front, she had not been getting any action.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

In my feelings

Guest post alert...
A friend of mine sent me this experience of hers! I thought how she narrated it was brilliant, so I had to share (with her permission of course). Hope you enjoy reading it like I did.

He came to class. Regular dude, tall, clean shaven, a little bald... Nothing to see here. His glasses were rectangular. He wore a pink rough edged t-shirt and blue jeans. Seriously, he was just a regular man. He introduced himself to the class and we had to introduce ourselves too. After I did, he shook my hand. It was a regular handshake. Class went on... Then he called my name and asked me something. I swear I didn't hear a single word. I was lost in his lips. I was staring. He called me again then I snapped out of it. I didn't know the answer to what he asked. Then he asked if I was OK. I said yes. I just needed to get some air and I walked out of the class. I couldn't breathe. What was happening to me? I drank some water, sprinkled some on my face and went back to class. Everything was normal again.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

When it all makes you numb...

We visited a village on a work trip and one of my colleagues seemed so fascinated by something. I saw her trying to take a photo but I hardly paid attention as there was a lot happening.
Much later she showed me this photo:

Look closely at the drawing 
Your guess is as good as mine! My heart broke at the realisation.
Since coming to this country, many things that seem to be normal to people here are things that I do not find normal in any sense of the word.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Our reality with the corona virus

For the first time since the lock down, I allowed myself dwell on how long this corona virus pandemic might last and what the aftermath might be like. I was letting myself get sucked in by the worry, thoughts, analysis and uncertainty hitting the world at this time.
I do not intend to live in denial but I've generally found ways to take in the right amount of information for me, as there is sooooo much.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Could this be a generational thing?

Someone contacted me out of nowhere to ask what options her cousin who studied French and had just graduated from university had in terms of work. 

She also mentioned that some other people they knew who studied French ended up teaching. Then she ended her message with this question: 'What can she do with the French?'. What I drew from her message was that she didn't want her cousin to teach.

I asked her what her cousin's interests were and if she had asked her cousin the same question. She seemed to be getting frustrated with my questions but I didn't see how I could help, because in reality, my thinking was that her cousin would be in a much better position to know what her options were and what she might like to do.
I told her teaching was one option (and what if that was what the cousin wanted to do?!) but there were other things to do. Another thing was that I didn't know her cousin or what she liked so I was unsure how to respond. She was contacting me obviously because I studied French and was not teaching I suppose...