BE CALM – “Please listen…..”

Listen To Me Sign Shows Notice Or Message - Sacred Structures by Jim Baker  : Sacred Structures by Jim Baker

“Mummy, Ife put earrings in my ear”  Pete, my two year old son said as we drove home from a church service.

Why would she do that? I asked thinking that he meant Ife tried to make him wear earrings. “Didn’t she know you are a boy” I added and everyone in the car laughed over it and that was all.

Fast forward 3 days after, I put my son in the bath tub for a bath  to prepare him for school.  As I washed his face he screamed in pain. When I asked what was the matter. He said “Mummy but I told you that Ife put earrings in my ear”. Then it dawned on me that what my son had been trying to tell me was that Ife, my friend’s daughter had inserted earrings right into his ear. I checked his left ear with a torchlight and lo and behold I saw faintly (glittering) an earring in his ear. It must have sunk deeper in the three days because I noticed the swelling on his outer ear close to his jaw.  I felt really ashamed as a mother. I had failed to listen to my son. Of course, we ended up at the operating theatre . Imagine what would have happened if it was more serious.

The biggest problem in communication is not the language but often we listen not to understand but to respond. What a mess we all make of communication. If only we will listen more, there will be less quarrels in homes, offices etc. Listening, like all skills require learning. Unfortunately it is not taught in school. In studying the skills to effective communication 4 major areas stand out; writing, reading, speaking and listening. Incidentally while the first three are taught in schools listening is often taken for granted.

Listen to me 6 ways help kids with adhd follow directions by jpg - Clipartix

Listening is an art that we must learn to cultivate in life. Have you ever wondered why a man has two ears and one mouth? I guess it is so he can listen  twice more than he speaks. Many times when we listen well enough, we find the answers to the questions in our heart taken care of. One must listen rightly, thoughtfully, effectively, intelligently, unassumingly and calmly. If you want to be a good listener you have to cultivate the habit of effective listening. 

Most relationships including marriages fail today because we are all speaking and no one is listening. Often times we pretend to be listening while all we are doing is waiting to respond or react. Our responses are so formed in our hearts that even if the issue was attended to, we will still would go ahead to speak. Some times we just respond or react to a phrase in the conversation and leave out the substance.

 All relationships thrive on effective listening rather than speaking.  A fool who keeps quiet and listen more than he speaks is considered wise while the wise man who talks more than he listen becomes a fool in the multitudes of his words. Many times we do not even listen to our spirit or conscience. It is not surprising that often when a negative incident occurs in our lives we recalled how ”some thing warned us” and we always ended with the phrase “if only i had listen”. That “something” was God silently speaking to us but we failed to listen.

Making a decision to listen effectively  is the choice of the wise and he will only get wiser. “Let everyone (therefore) be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listeners}, slow to speak{a speaker of carefully chosen words}, slow to anger {patient, reflective, forgiving…” (James 1;19 Amp).

The first step to becoming a good listener begins with a conscious decision to change. Having taken that decision then you can do the following:

  1. Exercise patience: A good listener must first seek to understand and so must wait patiently for the speaker to conclude speaking, establish that he has concluded, pause and then respond.
  2. Focus: All attention must be towards the person who is communicating with you. It is not the time to multitask.
  3. Maintain eye contact. It is not enough to focus, you must maintain eye contact. If I had looked at my son when he was reporting the earring incident, I would have observed his pain or probably noticed that he was touching his ear.
  4. Maintain a positive posture. Do not turn your back on the person who is communicating with you.
  5. Wear an expression that shows that you are not just listening but also following the discussion. You may need to nod occasionally, smile or express surprise where required.
  6. Ask questions to clarify that you understand what is being communicated. Avoid assumptions or jumping into conclusion.
  7. Take notes. This is crucial particularly for young executives. Never ever enter a conversation with your boss or supervisor without a note pad.

To become  good listeners we must learn to keep ourselves in the background. Developing the art of listening is a personal responsibility for everyone. Parents to children, teachers to students and vice versa, subordinates to supervisors. Whether horizontal or vertical communication, effective listening habit will help to foster better understanding and excellent results.

Beyond listening to people around us, our colleagues, supervisors and friends, we must develop the art of listening to ourselves. Man is basically a spirit being. He has a soul and lives in a body. All of these parts of man communicates and when we learn the art of listening or silence we are able to pick the signals early and avoid pitfalls in life. For example your body tells you when to slow down and pay attention to a failing health. Your spirit guides you and prevent you from making some mistakes in what some people call intuition. God speaks to man through His Spirit to the spirit in him. To pick God’s signal in your spirit, you must grow in relationship with Him. That relationship if carefully nurtured will guide you always and ensure you are continuously guided.

Listening effectively is a life saving habit that must be cultivated, learnt, developed and nurtured. Happy listening.

Adenike Babajamu (September, 2020)

MY COVID 19 STORY

Concept Handwritten With Chalk On A Blackboard.

    

There is no doubt that the first eight months of the year 2020 has made the year  like no other year in this generation. For many, it seems as if the year has not started.  A few people feel they are still living in year 2019 hoping for a miracle that will nullify the experiences of the last eight months.

Needless to say that year 2020 has been dominated by the Covid 19 pandemic, apprehension, destabilising lockdowns, endless work-from-home weeks, loss of lives, untold hardships on the poor, and high level corruption. The effect of covid-19 has touched every one irrespective of age, gender, religion or race. It has created a high degree of uncertainty in all spheres of human lives across the globe and man’s faith in God and science heavily tested.

Today’s daily vocabulary has suddenly increased to include words  and phrases like masks, sanitisers, face shield, physical distance, lockdown, social distance, self-isolation, quarantine etc. These are particularly not new words but they are words that hitherto meant nothing to many of us outside the health sector.

Our life styles and social values have been altered. We now have a clearer picture of what essential services are and who essential workers are. The global world picture of the future has been dramatically altered and a new norm instituted in all spheres of life.

It is important to note that you don’t have to contact  the Covid 19 virus before you have  a Covid 19 experience. I make bold to say that there are many Covid 19  asymptomatic patients across the globe. There is no statistic that can clearly capture the records.

My Covid 19 experience began in the last week of March 2020. I had packed my suitcase on Sunday night to return to work as usual (Though I reside in Kwara State, Nigeria, I work in another state about 4 hours’ drive away). The first sign of trouble was the announcement of a partial lockdown by the Federal Government of Nigeria. This was followed by another announcement by the Kwara State Government shutting down schools and MDAs. I had thought for Kwara State, why the hurry? We didn’t even have a patient. The government was being proactive or so I thought. However, this is not a discussion for here. Notwithstanding these announcements, I still requested that my driver picked me up the next day.

A few hours to take off the following day, I received a call that my office was shutting down for April in the light of the pandemic and only key staff were to be engaged to work from home. With this news, I suspended my trip and commenced work from home by remotely managing the activities of my office.

Work from home can be traumatic if you are not strategic about it. For me, I created a work station where I  resumed by 9am daily and closed by 4pm. I drew up a schedule and tried to follow it through in the early months of lock down.

Shortly thereafter the Nation went on total lockdown, interstate travel was banned and things began to happen simultaneously.

The first change in the atmosphere was the wide spread of a deadlier than Covid 19 disease. I called this disease ‘fear’. It spread faster than the virus and was airborne. It jumped directly from the TV screen on its victims. You could pick it up from just discussing with your neighbour or via telephone conversation with friends  and from all social media network. Believe it or not, more people died out fear of the virus. Its symptoms included anxiety, apprehension, nervousness, unease and worry. I am sure there must be a medical name for it. Today, 8 months after, many people have recovered from Covid 19 but quite a number are still nursing the effects of the fear created by the virus in the form high blood pressure, disillusionment, drug abuse etc.

It became a difficult task for me to leave my house even to my neighbour’s. Visitors were no longer entertained in our home. I remember once when my husband hosted a few of his friends, I insisted they stayed at the balcony and were not allowed into the house. I ensured  sanitiser was placed at every entrance to our home. I read every literature on the pandemic and soon began making panic calls to my children that were away from home to stay safe.

‘’Stay safe’’ became a form of greeting as if we had the power to save ourselves. Religious centres that had the cure to the dreaded disease of fear were shut down. Social activities that could help reduce the tension grounded  into a halt as a result of the lockdown. And as expected the spirit of fear had a free manifestation on the world.

By the first week of April, the Nigeria  Law school where my daughter attended  was closed and she had to return home. Also in April my friend lost her husband to Covid 19 and she was quarantined. My father who was hospitalised earlier had to return to the hospital in April for a procedure amidst fear and trepidation. The economy was hitting hard.

By May 2020, interstate movement was still banned so I could not resume at the office. However, by this time we recommenced skeletal work at my office with only about 30% of the staff strength. I continued to work from home. More people had died, a friend, a member of my fellowship whose test result came after her death, turned out positive. For two weeks thereafter, I lived in silent fear of having contacted the virus. Several times I had imaginary sore throat and cough.

With fear always comes torment. Oh! how we often torment ourselves with things that have not happened and may never happened. I began drinking hot water with ginger and lemon.

Often times when my daughter saw me drinking the hot ginger she would ask “mummy are you Okay?”  with this funny look. And my response was always “I don’t have Covid 19, stop looking at me like that”

My daughter’s fears were not unfounded. This was because I was actively involved in a palliative program organised by my church. It was a 7-man task force with a mandate to identify the vulnerable in our community and church. We distributed welfare materials to members. At first we would take the materials to their houses because of the lockdown and ban on movement but later we found other convenient methods that reduced our risk of exposure.

In June 2020, I decided to take a step of faith and return to my office in Akure, Ondo State. Precisely on 1st of June 2020, my driver and I left Ilorin not minding that there was still a ban on interstate movement. It was a journey I will remember for long. The roads were deserted except for the checkpoints along the road. It reminded me of the stories I had read about on the Nigeria Civil war. I spent one week in Akure in my accommodation which was by now deserted as a result of the pandemic. When I left Akure on Thursday 4th June, I knew I was not going to be back for a while.

My trip indeed confirmed my earlier submission that Covid 19 was a war. Along the road were checkpoints of various kinds. At some points we had police check points, military check points with the Nigeria soldiers on guard, vigilantes as well as the Federal Road Safety Corps. The sad thing however was that each of these check points had their cost of passage and drivers were made to pay illegal toll. This made a mockery of the whole lockdown measure as the virus travelled with ease across the states of the country.

Back home in June, I lost another friend, and then a friend of a friend to Covid 19. It was no longer a faceless pandemic. More people died in June. The great and the not so great, people in and out of government.

Many other people died to other sickness following the delay in medical attention by our public hospitals. I know of a sister who was left in the hospital ward unattended to until her test result turned out negative. Our health workers cannot be blame for these as many of the hospitals lacked adequate protective equipment for health personnel. If anything , health workers in Nigeria deserve great respect. They are the heroes of this generation.

By the end of June it was obvious that lockdown was no longer a desirable solution, the lockdown was eased but not the virus as eventually the casualties began to increase. This was expected until the curve is flattened.

Now we are in August. Although the world is not completely free of Covid 19, we are all  learning fast to live again. While the isolation centres  fills up faster than the earlier months, government across the world including Nigeria now ask patients to isolate at home. Without throwing caution to the wind, we all are confronting our fears with an understanding that Covid 19 like all pandemic will also pass.

I must confess that the pandemic is not all negative. God’s promise; “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His Plan and purpose” (Romans 8:28 Amp Version) remained very apt since the year 2020.

My focus in this story is that in-spite of all, I urge us to see some great things that has happened and many more that will still happen as we march through the last quarter of 2020. Many new children came in the midst of the pandemic, marriages were solemnised, homes were restored, many recovered from the virus, some changed jobs, buildings were erected, businesses were born, some great decisions were taken and many other beautiful things. God’s miracles never stopped.

The period of lockdown was a reflective period for many, an incubation of some sort that led to the birth of great ideas in people, reawakening of latent potentials. Unfinished projects such as research works, books were completed. upskilling and reskilling of employees by organisations became the in thing.

The year has not ended. Year 2020 though has been a challenging year for many, there are still many things loaded in the year. For those who have lost anything, let me say like my mentor Bishop David Oyedepo would “ God is the reason we have not lost all”

In conclusion, the last 8 months have been most challenging for many. Many of us have had the test done several times and are still negative. My daughter had to be tested twice in a week in August. Many have lost friends, close associates, family members. Many were sick and somehow by God’s grace recovered. Many Jobs were lost, investments went down the drain, promises failed, businesses stagnated and families broken. Many have had to go hungry for days. In all of these, one thing stands out, we are still here. God’s mercy kept us and we are still here because He is not through with us.

Therefore, keep faith and do not despair because “the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry , wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Habakuk 2:3).

This is my Covid 19 story. What is yours?

Adenike Babajamu (August 2020)

SAVE YOUR LIFE: READ THE MANUFACTURER’S USER MANUAL.

Image Credit: freepik

Packing stuff for my young children while they were in primary school was quite a task for me. I would normally stuff into their lunch boxes some snacks and their afternoon meal. But I soon discovered that they always brought back the lunch without eating it. While this made me angry, I wondered why they did not eat their meals. It didn’t take me a long time to discover that the lunch was usually cold by lunch time.  I shared this challenge with a colleague at work and she introduced a food flask to me that according to her, would last for 24 hours. Just what I was looking for. So in my excitement, I ordered for three pieces.

I announced to my kids that no longer will they have to eat cold meals again. Of course, they were excited and looked forward to using their new food flasks. So on this day, I packed their favourite meal in the new food flasks but by the end of school that day, they returned again without eating. The food was even colder than it used to be. In anger I called the supplier and expressed disappointment at him for selling fake food flasks and vehemently requested for the refund of my money. I was going to return the food flasks to him.

He listened patiently to my ranting and when I was done, asked me if I read the instruction on the user manual attached to the product. Of course I didn’t read the instructions. Who needs an instruction or manual to use a simple product like a food flask? At that point, he explained that on first use, the food flask was to be filled with boiling water to activate it. The water was to be left in the flask for about 30 minutes after which I could commence using it. I didn’t do that, hence the food flask could not function as designed by the manufacturer. I went back to the pack and just by the side, boldly written in red was a label that said “read carefully before use”.

I felt so ashamed that with all my education, I had behaved most ignorantly. I apologised to the vendor for my outbursts. From that day I learnt the importance of instructions and I never joked with reading them before using any newly purchased product or appliance. Today,  I read every instructions no matter how seemingly unimportant the product may be. I read instructions or labels on bottled water, detergent, bathing soap, body lotion, moisturiser, hair cream, drugs, food seasonings etc. I realised that many of us may  not use some of the products we use today if we are careful enough to read the instructions on them. Imagine the label on the pack of cigarettes says “smokers are liable to die young” and yet people still go ahead to buy.

Image Credit: cnn.com

Instructions are the most important guide to success in life. No one can go far in life without being instructed or guided. Whether in business, career, politics or in academics, success comes as a result of proper guidance. I  came across these words “Hold on to instructions, do not let it go: for it is your life” (Proverbs 4:13 NIV). How amazing that God the Creator equates instruction with life.

The best way to understand the word instruction is simply by looking at its synonyms or similar words. These include words like direction, prescriptions, guide, recipe, specification, handbook, manual, information, law, discipline, education etc. In summary instruction refers to detailed information about how something is to be done, used or processed. It is the manufacturer’s manual, the doctor’s prescription, the google map, the organisation’s policies and procedures, the school rules and regulations, a nation’s constitution and many others.

No man can go far in life without being instructed. It therefore means that your success in life is tied to the value you place on the instructions you receive, apply and respond to. The cost of ignoring instructions is high. Look at it this way, if God equates instructions with life, the opposite will be that a man who fails to heed to instructions will ultimately loose his life. To joke with instructions is therefore to joke with one’s life.

Every product no matter the size has attached to it a manufacturer’s manual or instructions. Unfortunately few people take the pain to read and understand before using these products. It is crucial that  when we purchase a new product we take time to study the manufacturer’s manual to ensure that the direction of usage is followed, dosage (if it is a drug) is used, expiry date (all products have expiry date including water) is recognised etc.

What interest me in all of these is when I consider the “man-maker”, the One who created the intricate product called man, I observed that from the very beginning He had a manual but the same way we ignore the human manufacturer’s manual, we also ignore His own manual for the peaceful existence of man. When His instructions are ignored, abuse of the ‘man’ product is the result because as declared by Myles Munroe “when purpose (of a thing) is not known abuse is inevitable”

Ignorance of God’s  instructions does not excuse man from the consequences of not adhering to them. Remember the story of my food flasks. I had thought it was just a food flask and I didn’t need to be instructed on its use. That I ignored the user manual, did not mean it was not provided for. So I had to suffer the consequences.  

Life has manual and God’s manual for the life of man is found in His word, the Bible. The whole of the bible is 75% instructions from God for anyone who cares to read, apply and respond to them. For “all Scripture is God-breathed (given by divine inspiration) and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately- behaving honourably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God (you) may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Three of the four purposes of the scripture (Instruction, correction and training) has to do with guiding and instructing man to become whom he was created to be.

Our lives are much too precious to live or be treated as a common product. Its time to place more value on our lives by returning to the manufacturer’s manual. He alone has the specifications, directions on how best to live life to its fullness. He also has the expiry date of our lives. That we ignore it now does not cancel its existence.

Let me conclude with this amazing quote “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. .. My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4: 13, 20-23 KJV). Folks there is no better time to return to the manual for our lives, read it, respond to it by applying it to our daily lives so that we can live life to its fullest.

Adenike Babajamu (July 2020)

ADIEU TO THE INVINCIBLE WARRIOR


It was her birthday yesterday yet when it was time to get up in the morning, she was gone. She died on her birthday. How could someone so sweet and so young go on a most treasured day? Her birthday ended up to be her death-day.

It was a most painful time as I watched my friend mourn her first child at a tender age. I sat in silence not knowing what to say. How do you tell a woman not to weep or be sorrowful over her loss when you also felt that sorrow with her?

I returned home though devastated by the loss, yet wondering how so many things we take for granted. We are only kept by His grace and not by ourselves. 

Everyday is a gift from God and we should learn to appreciate Him for each moment. Every day is an opportunity to be kind to others because the next day may not be available. Everyday is a chance to love and put all those hateful feelings behind us. 

Let us therefore live each day as a privilege and not as a right. Let our whole lives be an expression of God’s Grace as we live daily.

Adieu to my friend’s beloved daughter. Goodnight Abiola Adefila, the invincible warrior. Rest in the bosom of our Lord. Your memory lives on. 

Mama Abiola, please keep faith and be comforted in the Lord. Remember that they that transit in the Lord do not die, they live forever in our hearts until we meet at His feet. Your little girl is singing with the Angels and heaven’s just got brighter by her light.

CONFRONTING ONE’S FEAR IS THE FIRST STEP TO VICTORY IN LIFE

“I knew I was dying but failed to accept it”

He walked into my office all tensed and looking very lost and confused. We were not friends. I didn’t even know his name but he had called me a few days earlier requesting to have a meeting with me. Jack (not his real name) was a member of a  Christian fellowship that I belong to. I had seen him a couple of times and my impression of him was a very zealous and calm worshipper. Occasionally we exchanged pleasantry and that was all. I had not seen him for over 4 months but not that I had reason to look for him. We had no relationship of any sort.

I watched him as he made his way towards my table. Jack had become a ghost of his bubbling self. He had lost so much weight and had become darker in complexion. His gait was unbalanced as if limping.  I offered him a seat and tried to figure why  he wanted to see me. After a few pleasantries. He narrated his predicament of how his business was failing and how badly he needed help to raise capital to start a new business. I listened carefully to him and paid more attention to what he was not saying; his health. Jack was physically in a bad shape. His health was obviously deteriorating, yet he didn’t mention anything about it.

“How really  are you?” I asked with concern. He responded that he was fine all he needed was money and that I should borrow him some for his new business. I didn’t have problem with that but something within me (I guess must be the Holy Spirit) kept pushing me to prod further. Prior to now, Jack was a complete stranger to me. Other than the few times we met at fellowship, I knew next to nothing about him. Well I didn’t relent, so I mentioned that he could trust me and that I would give him the money but I needed him to tell me about his health because he obviously didn’t look well. By this time he had  become very silent and all he did was stared at the wall. I saw how difficult it was for him to control himself and for the first time in my life I watched a man broke down completely into tears.

Long story short, Jack had been suffering from an ailment that according to him defied medical solution. He had rashes allover his body (he actually showed them to me). Some of them had turned into sore and had dried cake of blood on them.  He confessed that he had lost over 30kg  in the last 4 months and was ashamed of walking around in public as people stared at him awkwardly. He explained that he had been treated by a nurse who ran a chemist near his house. I asked why he didn’t go to the hospital and have some tests done. I sensed that he was afraid of knowing what was wrong with him. He had his suspicion no doubt, but he would rather pretend all was well.

I had a long talk with him and shared the experience of one of my colleague who was living healthy with HIV. She was a very happy staff and no one knew her health status. I advised Jack to go and have a test done and afterwards we could continue our discussion.

Facing one’s fears is the first step to every victory in life. Many times we fail not because we didn’t know what to do, but simply because we are too afraid to try. Jack’s test came out positive and immediately I took him in as one of my mentees. With counselling and medical treatment, he was able to face his fears. He had since gone back to his previous business and is doing quite well having fully recovered from the symptoms. Today, is three years after this incident and Jack  is living healthy with HIV. I will never forget the text message he sent to me at his first Christmas after that meeting that changed his life. It brought tears to my eyes. Part of the text read:

“… I had given up on my life even before I came to you, I knew I was dying but failed to accept it, God used you to bring hope to my life and now I can live again…”

Jack’s experience  is just one example of the hopelessness that plague a man’s life in time of crisis.  Often our cases are not as hopeless as our mind projects them. Imagine a little headache and the first thought is brain cancer. We often think the worst of ourselves thereby fuelling fear in our heart. We lie down to sleep at night and the fear is magnified a thousand fold. Depression sets in, followed closely by insomnia. Of course when you don’t sleep well, you fall sick. All of these are the lies of the devil playing tricks on our mind and we unfortunately let him get us and ultimately get away with it.

It is also important to note that this is not only about our health, it also affects the way we deal with our career, businesses and our academics. While I was in High School, I had problem understanding mathematics. It grew into a phobia and my mind told me I could never make it. I lived with that verdict all through the University and even when I started  working I hated anything that had to do with calculation.

Often  times we find ourselves in hopeless situation and feel that there is no way out. We give up too soon in our challenges forgetting that our lives are hid in the hands of our creator and the first step to every victory is not by turning our backs on the problem or by pretending as if it is not there. Our victory starts the day we face our fear.

Our victory begins when we look at the challenge on the face and tell ourselves we were made to overcome from the beginning.

Our victory comes when we understand that we are not alone in any of lives’ battles. Ours is just to fulfil all righteousness and turn the battle to our creator.

Our victory is delivered as we take that step of faith in confidence and boldness turning our backs on all the fears and lies that the enemy has plague our minds with.

Our Victory is delivered on the platform of knowledge. Nothing empowers like knowledge. Go for knowledge in the area of challenge. Keep going for more and more knowledge until you are fully armed.

So whatever battle or challenge that has confronted you today, like my friend, Jack do all you need to and then stand in faith. If you need counselling get one. If you need to see a doctor, please do. If you need medication or any form of therapy please get help. If you need to go back to school please go. Be honest with yourself and do all you should and all you can. Take responsibility for your life. Having done these, then  stand in faith.

Stand in faith, for we only live by faith and also because faithful is our God who promised and who will also do that which He has promised. “For He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. (I will) not ,in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let (you) down… Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified Version). All He is saying every time in our challenging situation is “fear them not”, “Fear not”, “Be not afraid”.

Adenike Babajamu (July 2020)

WORK FROM HOME: EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

Image Credit: Shutter stock

Work From Home without setting measurable targets for performance evaluation of employees is an authorised vacation to employees and a loss to an  organisation. Unfortunately this is the case in many organisations today particularly in developing Africa. As we wriggle out of the Covid 19 pandemic, many organisations are at stretching point and a post-pandemic  survival will most likely be a mirage. It is therefore not surprising that several private organisations  are unable to continue to pay salaries and are shutting down.

While it is understandable that not all businesses can be operated from home, several others have left the task of working from home to the employees without proper job descriptions, setting of measurable targets and evaluation of performance. In many cases employees were simply sent home to work without supervision or any form of monitoring put in place.

The worst hit industry today is the public sector. For over three months middle level and field workers of most Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in my country, Nigeria have been asked to stay away from the office and work from home. The question here is what exactly are they expected to do from home? Let me mention that while they supposedly work from home, their salaries are still promptly paid from the states’ portion of the Federal Allocation meant for the entire residents of each states.

Let’s look at a typical scenario; while the teachers employed in the private schools are engaging their students via e-learning, most children in public schools have been home in the last three months without any contact with their teachers or from their schools. These children will still have to compete with the other children from private schools. So I ask what is the job of the teachers of these public schools who were sent to work from home?

When we compare the above scenario with the developed countries that have continued with their school curriculum in spite of the lockdown, we will realise how easy for the developing nations such as ours to plunge back into darkness and backwardness particularly in the educational sector. This thought must be considered on the concept of globalisation and the fact that no nation waits for another to catch up with her.

Work From Home if properly structured or planned is supposed to be a win-win situation for both the employees and the employer. For the employers, it reduces operational cost such as cost of gas, electricity, facility and other maintenance expenses. It allows flexibility of work hours. Employers can also hire expert irrespective of their location. They also will not have to contend with such challenges as sick leave and other related excuses.

The employees working remotely on the other hand see more positive effects on their daily work, are more engaged, and have a stronger sense of well-being than those in non-remote jobs with little flexibility do.

Working from home is not about to disappear with Covid 19. As it has been said that dealing with the coronavirus is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Believe it or not, it is going to be the new norm and organisations must wise up to maximise its advantage or else risk the threat of shutting down. The government at all levels must also wake up to restructure her activities to identify areas that must be digitalised otherwise she will have to continue to pay salaries to unengaged staff. This is not the time to play politics with digital transformation in government.

Agencies of government must begin to replace physical meetings of people with virtual meetings that will be more productive and reduce the risk of the spread amidst government workers.

In the most competitive organisations, IT departments that once supported operations have already made the leap to leading them. The landscape in proactive organisations is being reshaped by transformation offices, that are helping organisations combine technical know-how with “soft” capabilities to maximise output. There is no doubt that any private business that will be post-covid 19 relevant will have to migrate with the world to the new norm of technology.

The post-covid future is certainly not what it used to be and the earlier we get things right the better and faster we will be able to adapt. Otherwise our educational sector and all sectors of the economy for that matter will not be able to compete with the world.

For Work From Home to be effective therefore, organisations must design new templates of performance evaluation. Top management must develop a work from home policy that is unambiguous of employee’s responsibilities and sanctions for poor performance. Employers must learn to turn their qualitative requirement to deliverables that are smart and measurable. Where deliverables are not measurable, then employees may not be held responsible for being on vacation.

NATURE’S TRANQUILITYm

OWU FALLS

Today I started to make a little garden for my mother in the village. I had always told her that the best vegetables are the ones that go from the farm right into the cooking pot. So if you live in an accommodation that gives you access to a small piece of land, it is not only cheap to grow your own vegetable, it is also healthy. How then could one live in the village and have problem getting fresh vegetables? So I conceived a garden in my heart and God confirmed it with a downpour that made the soil soft enough to cultivate.

As I worked with my team made up of grandchildren and helpers in the house, I thought of the beauty of being so close to nature and yet not noticing how awesomely beautiful God has made all things.

Do you ever wonder at the colours of the sky and how it transforms from pure white into sky blue?  Sometimes slightly misty and at other times hazy or splendidly clear. Imagine how dark it could be just before a storm when all seems to be running and then suddenly the beauty of a rainbow adorning the once dark cloud. How very beautiful!

Have you ever sat down and watched those tiny little birds fly around even in the city? They are so colourful and gorgeous that sometimes I wished I could just touch and feel their soft feathers. In those days we used to watch the chameleons change to the colours of our dresses.

All of Nature’s beauty seems to have been lost in not just the hustle and bustle of our daily activities,  but by the so many challenges, pains, disappointments, discouragements, losses in the world today. When was the last time you stopped to admire your surroundings? Do you remember the last time you played in the rain or packed the sand on the beach and let it slide down through your fingers?

I have learnt over time to appreciate the tranquility of nature in my remote village. A world completely void of city pressure. Here people wear face masks but not out of fear of catching corona virus. When i get suffocated by the City’s pressure, I take a trip to the village and watch the simplicity of life as lived by the ordinary man just as God wished us to live it.

I discovered in all my trips that the closer you are to nature, the happier you really are. I feel the natural breeze of air across my face and it is awesomely different from city air. Take time today to appreciate the beauty of nature. Let it flow through your soul and leave your cares behind. Just look around you and imagine how carefully God has crafted all things together.

Learn from the master and understand that He meant every word He said when He declared the statements below:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Mathew 6: 25-34)”

Have fun folks. God’s got your back. As for me this garden is my June project for my mum and I am so excited about it. Today, it is just a piece of land but very soon it will be a fruitful field and I will share with you.

Observe, see, admire nature’s tranquility and be happy because you are cared for.

Adenike Babajamu (June, 2020)

My precious gift

Today 17th, June is my birthday and I woke up with a most amazing song of God’s goodness in my life. A wise song writer once sang “count your blessings and name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done”. So today I made a list of my blessings and honestly, I am still counting.

What God does are countless and believe me I am not talking about tangible things. To really know and appreciate what God has done in your life, I suggest you stop looking at the tangible things like cars, houses money etc. and focus on things that are not tangible some of which money cannot buy like being able to eat, feed yourself, walk around unaided in the house, stay healthy, not being on a diet, being able to use a face mask, being able to read without help, finding solutions to your health challenge, eating through your mouth, being able to chew your food. Now you see that the list is endless.

All of these activities and many more seem simple and easy but do you know there are people who find them difficult and cannot do some seemly simple things as wearing a mask without being help.

So I spent my day just imagining these things and thanking God for His help. I knew I must take my eyes from those things I desire that often pre-occupy my mind and make me less appreciative of His graciousness in my life. Those things that makes you wonder as if you had nothing when actually you have everything.

As I worshipped God and meditated on these things, I guess or rather I sensed God was really pleased with me because I heard Him whisper to me that He had a special Birthday gift for me. Wow! I was excited and like a dream He delivered it to me this morning around 4.30am, Nigerian time. So I asked if I could share the gift with my friends and of course if you know Him just a little (you can never know Him enough) as I do, His gift is available for all who will receive Him.

This is what He said to me

“Because you have praised me today, I will take sickness away from you, the numbers of your days I will fulfil…therefore enter into your season of rest”

A gift of rest is available for every one today as promised in Hebrews 4:9 “There is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labours” (NLT). Come to think of it, there are many things we worry about and kill ourselves with anxiety, yet we have no control over them.

The divine rest in God comes by faith, unwavering faith in His word and in His promises. It is available for all. He didn’t just promise to give us rest, but also assured of rest roundabout. A roundabout rest means all round rest from worries, anxiety and fears that often surround us daily. It includes victory over your enemies and life’s challenges (Joshua 21:44).

He didn’t say there won’t be challenges on your path but He has promised not just to see you through them but also give you rest as you go through. Remember He said “when you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour” (Isaiah 43:2-3). Wow! How amazing!

All His demands from us are simple. It starts with coming to Him. This Divine rest is tied to our coming to Him. He says “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you . Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. (Mathew 11:28-29). You are wearied and tired because you are carrying a load too heavy and not meant for you. So why not exchange it for the ease and rest that He has promised?

Do you want rest?  Come to Jesus

Do you want peace that last? Come to Jesus

God’s rest come with great peace, a lasting peace that assures divine rest roundabout.

This is my Father’s gift to me today on a very special day like today and I am glad to share it with you. Please come to Jesus now and you will find rest for your soul. The kind of rest that keeps you smiling through this pandemic and thereafter. Happy Birthday to me. And thank God with me for His unspeakable gift.

“ I am a woman. I have been assaulted, I have been abused, I have been sexually molested I have been raped. Yet how I wish someone had taught me how not to be raped”

The incidents of rape are on the increase and unfortunately many more women will be raped. Probably some are being raped right now. One story that fascinates me happened a long time ago. I titled it “The Rape of Tola”

 The Rape of Tola
Dan had a beautiful sister named Tola. And Gerald, her half-brother, fell desperately in love with her.
Gerald became so obsessed with Tola that he became ill. She was a virgin, and Gerald thought he could never have her.
But Gerald had a very crafty friend (who was also his cousin) Joseph.

One day Joseph said to Gerald, “What’s the trouble? Why should the son of a Governor look so dejected morning after morning? “So Gerald told him, “I am in love with Tola, my brother Dan’s sister.”
“Well,” Joseph said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father (the State Governor) comes to see you, ask him to let Tola come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.”
So Gerald lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the Governor came to see him, Gerald asked him, “Please let my sister Tola come and cook my favorite dish as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.”
So the Governor agreed and sent Tola to Gerald’s house to prepare some food for him.
When Tola arrived at Gerald’s house, she went to the place where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked his favorite dish for him.
But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. “Everyone get out of here,” Gerald told his servants. So they all left.
Then he said to Tola, “Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here.” So Tola took his favorite dish to him.
But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister.”
“No, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in our culture.
Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools. Please, just speak to the Governor about it, and he will let you marry me.”
But Gerald wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her.

The above story from 2 Samuel Chapter 13:1-8 (New Living Translation) is a true life biblical story of Amnon and Tamar, David’s Children. I just changed the names to get attention to it. It happened about 900 BC almost 3000 years ago. This means that if people were raped then, they will be raped now and may still be raped in the future.

Rape is an agelong sexual assault and unfortunately women are more victims than men. There are more people being raped than are reported globally. This is mostly  due to victim shaming, fear of reprisal, fear of family knowing, cultural discrimination, cases not being taken seriously by law enforcement, and possible lack of prosecution for the perpetrator, victimization or outright coverup by family. There is a story of a woman who discovered that her husband was assaulting her daughter (his step daughter). She could not bear other family members to know and so instructed her daughter to remain silent about it.

The whole idea of rape is so repulsive and I hate the mere thought of it with a passion. My focus however is the sexual assault of females particularly children, teenagers or young adults between the ages of 20 to 25. It is sad that babies of less than 1 year are being sexually molested. Recently in Nigeria, an old man of about 76 was caught assaulting a 2-year old baby.

No normal human being would abuse a baby sexually. This tells me that the whole idea of rape is beyond normal and I am careful to use the word “spiritual”. It is only a beast that would pull off  a baby’s pants and put his dick into it. How disgusting? Yet this is happening. Unfortunately what we get after the whole episode are cries of “bring the culprit to justice” “take him to court” where the victim go through the whole image shaming all through the court process”.

Maybe, eventually the rapist is sentenced to a life imprisonment or any other kind of judgement. But what happens to the victim?

Will the death or life sentence of a rapist “unrape” the victim and restore her damaged hymen?

Will it restore her broken virginity?

Will it restore her damaged mind and lost dignity?

Will it wipe away the memory of the trauma from her life?

Will it bring her back to life if she had died in the process?

Since most rapists only suffer the consequences after the deed and damage had been done, I choose to look at the rape assault from the preventive point of view. A woman in her middle age in one of our discussions cried  out passionately.

“ I am a woman. I have been assaulted, I have been abused, I have been sexually molested I have been raped. Yet how I wish someone had taught me how not to be raped” It was 35 years after she was raped, yet she had not recovered from the damage to her psyche.

A rape victim does not always recover. She lives with the memory until her time is over. Many victims carry the memory to their graves. It haunts them even long after they have started their own family. The psychological damage of rape is irreparable by any mortal man. It takes divine intervention for total restoration of a raped victim. It is a serious matter.

In the African culture and in my country (Nigeria) in particular, when a woman is raped, the society tries to find fault in her and justify the act. Issues about her dressing, location etc would be brought up to justify her being rape. How ridiculous one would ask.

The question then is: Should a victim of rape be blamed for being raped?

My answer is a big NO. Even if she walked naked alone in the dark on a lonely street, she cannot be considered guilty of provoking her own assault.  A woman gets raped simply because she is a woman and not because of who she is, what she has done, nor because of what she wears. A wise person wrote the following 

She wears school uniform, she gets raped.

She wears hijab, she gets raped.

She wears gown, she gets raped.

She wears a pair of trousers, she gets raped.

HER DRESSING DOESN’T MATTER, IT’S THE RAPIST!!

She stays in her house, she gets raped

She’s in a bus, she gets raped.

She’s in the club, she gets raped.

HER LOCATION DOESN’T MATTER , IT’S THE RAPIST!!

She’s 18, she gets raped

She’s 8, she gets raped

She’s 80, she gets raped

HER AGE DOESN’T MATTER, IT’S THE RAPIST!

She’s nice, get gets raped.

She’s rude, she gets raped

She’s funny, she gets raped

She’s humble, she gets raped

HER ATTITUDE DOESN’T MATTER, IT’S THE RAPIST!

She’s chubby, she gets raped

She’s skinny, she gets raped

She’s fair, she gets raped.

She’s dark, she gets raped

HER APPEARANCE DOESN’T MATTER, IT’S THE RAPIST!

(Author Unknown)

It is true that there are opportunist rapists who take advantage of a girl’s vulnerability. But that notwithstanding a rapist is one at heart. He is a time bomb on the way to explode and will definitely explode whenever the opportunity arise. Where or if there are no opportunities, he creates  one. A rapist is an emotionally sick bigot who ought not to have been born.

I wish someone had taught me how not to be raped!

Of course, there is no school where this is taught. There are also many underaged victims that simply cannot be taught even if there was a school. Nevertheless, I agree with my friend that there must be some form of preventive remedy to reduce the spate of rape in our society today. This remedy is not just for females who are victims but much more for all sexes. The course should be titled “HOW NOT TO BE A RAPIST”

It must also be mentioned that like the Rape of Tola, most victims are raped by close associates such as members of their families (uncles, cousins, nephews, fathers), friends, colleagues who had nursed the idea for some time. This implies that rape is often premeditated. What then or How then can I not be raped? While I agree that this is not a solution to preventing the rapist as we must move from talking to the victims to dealing with the rapist, we must however continue to answer the questions of how not to be raped because for now this is the only variable that can be controlled (to an extent).

In answering this question, I like to state that it comes with responsibilities. Firstly as a mother to her daughter, sister to sister, mentor to men-tee, leader to the led or follower etc. Religious organisations and schools must begin to teach both sexes on how not to be raped as well as how not to be a rapist. We can no longer be silent and watch the lives of our young ladies go down the drain. We must not wait to carry placards long after the deed had been done and the damage irreparable. It must be included in school curriculum. The society must condemn it and stop staying on the fence. Parents (particularly mothers) must continually talk about it.

  • How for instance does a mother protect her daughter from being raped?Guide her with your life
  • You cannot allow your daughter share a bed with a boy irrespective of the age (they grow so fast now)
  • You cannot allow a male domestic staff care for your daughter
  • The moment she is able to say ‘dada’ or ‘mama’, education becomes crucial at all the level of growth.
  • She must know what and where her private parts are. There are lots of books on this. Don’t just buy the books, read them with her.
  • She must be taught to set boundaries.
  • She must know that over 80% (my statistics) of male sex can be rapist if they have the opportunity to do so.
  • Dress your cutie decently, while you want her to wear those nice skimpy stuff, then get a dog or be close-by all the time.

For our teenage girls:

  • They must be taught to protect themselves with things like pepper spray
  • They must avoid lonely paths and walk in lighted walk ways
  • Avoid meeting strangers alone particularly at night
  • When possible, avoid walking alone. Walk with someone, or walk in areas where other people are near.
  • Avoid shortcuts through parks, vacant lots, and other deserted places.
  • Don’t hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.
  • If a driver stops to ask you directions, avoid getting near the car or just walk away.
  • If you are being followed, go to the nearest business or residence for help.
  • If you are harassed by the occupants of a car, simply turn and walk the other direction. The driver will have to turn around to follow you.
  • Hold your purse close, not dangling, and avoid carrying extra money or valuables on your person.
  • When you return home, have your door key ready so that you can enter without delay.
  • Don’t walk or jog at night wearing headphones
  • Be assertive
  • Trust your instincts and be sensitive.

The above preventive measures notwithstanding, we must begin to focus our attention on the rapist.

Reimagining the Rape experience

Rape must be treated as cancer. The past excuses are no longer tenable. No woman irrespective of her colour, age, disposition deserves to be raped. It is time to deal with the potential rapists, the future rapists and the likely ones. The point of treatment is from the root. The foundation must be remodelled because “if the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do” (Psalm 11:3). There are many sick guys out there whose foundations are faulty and whose minds are reprobates and are completely polluted. While we continue to educate and sensitise these ones, we must be careful not to raise a more sick generation of rapists by attacking the foundation.

Finally, the need for a paradigm shift in dealing with rape is our cry in this season. It is not so much about the victim, since she gets raped anyway. Our focus should shift to the rapist.

Enough of telling our girls all the don’ts’, let us begin to tell our guys as well.

Enough of all the preventions, the society must rise up and take more seriously the education of the male on how not to rape. The same way young girls are taught and protected, our men should also be educated on how not to rape. While i agree that male children and young boys can also be victims of rape (i honestly do not downplay this), there are more females damaged and murdered daily as result of rape.

Let us replace Don’t get raped with DO NOT RAPE

Adenike Babajamu (June 2020)