“ 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)

Let’s call a spade by its name

It is the year 2020 and the country is Nigeria, a nation for which I am proud to be a citizen. By the way, you don’t get to choose your family and also you don’t get to choose your nation of birth. These are divinely chosen and for me I woke up in Nigeria.

I have always been a very proud Nigerian and I love my country with all my heart. Anywhere I went, I always looked forward to returning to my dear country. But my heart bleeds all the time when I see the leaders politicking with human lives in this great nation. A nation with abundant natural resources, yet with so poor standards of living for the majority and poverty that you could literarily pick it on the street.

Again as a country, I must confess that we have been very lucky in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. Even the community spread is being curtailed not by the government policy on lockdown, nor by the citizen’s compliance with the policies but simply by what some people may call luck but I choose to call it divine intervention (Nigerians pray about everything).

Otherwise how can you explain a lockdown that is completely defied by the authority that is meant to enforce it? How do you explain a lockdown that allows human trafficking in trucks meant for transporting agricultural products? The humour in this is that those trucks would have travelled several miles through several security checkpoints only to be discovered and turn back at their final destinations.

I saw one of these and it was a rude shock.

Human beings were moved around in the midst of locked down along with agricultural produce. They were practically stuffed in the truck and could actually suffocate. Some of them looked underage and one would expect them to be under the protective arms of their parents. Where on earth could they be heading to in a pandemic?

And then there were the open trucks loaded with teenagers on an endless journey in search of a so called greener pasture

I asked myself as a mother of under- aged children will I allow my kids to travel from the northern part of Nigeria, under this condition and in a crisis period like this? The truth is we must call a spade a spade no matter whose ox is gored. Teenagers should be home in a pandemic. Where are the leaders? where are the parents of these children? What is the motive of this needless risk of life? Where was the government when these children were left to roam the street as almajiris?

This is not just a result of poverty but simply irresponsibility of the so called leaders who would rather hide in the guise of religion or culture to perpetuate their evils. My people, this is not a northern or any tribal war because this young folks have the same blood as any other children. They didn’t get to choose their family. They did not get to choose where or how to be born. They woke up in the northern part of Nigeria and their destiny became sealed. Other children in schools or under the protective arms of their parents are not better than them . They are only privileged to have responsible parents.

We must change our mentality as a nation and stop defending what is wrong. This kids deserve better life than this and only those who truly fear God can see it.

Covid 19: Be afraid enough to keep safe.

I don’t scare easy but for the first time since this pandemic began I’m afraid!And I’ll tell you why I’m afraid.
Madagascar gave potions to its citizens as preventive measures.
Ghana as the last time I checked had carried out 68,000 tests and use drones in their delivery. So they have the ability to ‘ be on top of things’ as they escalate. So a partial lift of the lockdown was done.
Senegal has developed $1 test kits.
Nigeria is insisting states hurry in the building of isolation centers. We don’t have enough test kits. We don’t have potions given. And people are to return to work.
Protocols are not observed as second nature yet.
I see a big disaster looming. We are not ready for this!
Prayer hasn’t shaken it off. As much as I’ve received spiritual guidance in so many aspects during this season, I woke up a few mornings ago and heard, ‘ they want to create ‘ herd immunity’ . People will get infected, die or recover and develop immunity against Corona virus. That will continue in the community’

So my advice and please pass this on to as many people as you can.
Work from home if you can till this blows over. Act like you’re still in a compulsory lockdown.
Watch, don’t go out except absolutely necessary. When you do observe all health/ COVID-19 protocols.
Mouth, nose, eyes are gateways. Surface of Pure water, bottles, fruit, nuts, money, public vehicles, places, pos, ATM, handles, rails, switches, tables, shopping bags, shoes, clothes can be contaminated. Exercise the uttermost caution. When wearing a mask, don’t drop it to the chin to talk and pull it back. You will contaminate yourself that way.
Have soap and water outside and wash up as much as possible before going in, when you do go straight to the bathroom. Don’t hug anyone yet!
Economic boom isn’t a reason to jeopardize people’s lives.

For those who have a covenant relationship with God, Daily apply the Blood of Jesus on your household & path.
And most of all; PRAY not PANIC! Be afraid enough to keep safe.
This too shall pass.
Be #CONFIDENT&FEARLESS.

God bless and keep us.

Dr Ronke Gbaja (3rd May, 2020)

You can recover all…..

You can Sprout again

It was a Tuesday and the date was 4th January, 2000. Even as I write about it now it seemed like only yesterday. I had woken up and had a meal of left-over beans and was very happy to still be alive. Anyone who was old enough in the year 2000 would remember that it was a year of great predictions.

There was rumours that the year was the last year before apocalypse and the world was finally coming to an end as we crossed over to 2000. We were all apprehensive. It was a matter of set your house or rather your heart (as the case may be) in order as you prepare to meet your God. There was widespread predictions of a Y2K computer bug that would crash many computers on midnight of January 1st, 2000 and cause malfunctions leading to major catastrophes worldwide, and that society would cease to function. How fearful man could be when it comes to dying, yet we all want to go to heaven as if heaven was just a journey.

Anyway, somehow the world did not end and we indeed crossed over to year 2000. I still remember the crossover service in my Church late in the night of December 31st, 1999. Oh, we were all pious and looked all set for rapture. The Church was filled to capacity and I remember going out in the middle of the service to check if there was a change in the cloud or an angel blaring trumpet. But that didn’t happen because His ways are not our ways.

Fast-forward to Tuesday 4th January 2000, I had woken up early and was filled with so much joy and excitement to be returning to work having survived the tension of the last days of the year 1999. It was a few minutes past 7.am. I said my bye-byes to my family and sang all the way down the stairs to the garage. “It’s going to be a beautiful day”, I told myself as I walked down the stairs. I checked myself again in the mirror, I knew I looked good and I was so pleased with myself. My dress was new and my hair well styled. I wore little make-up as allowed by my profession. It was my first working day in the new millennium.

I didn’t realised that I had reached the garage, where I had parked my car the previous night because suddenly I noticed my car was gone. I had the car keys in my hand and did a 360 degree thinking. “Of course, I brought the car home”, I reminded myself. I parked it right here in the garage. I pinched myself and knew it was not a dream. My car, a Toyota Carina 2 was gone. That feeling of confusion that makes you search for a car as if it was a missing needle came upon me. I glared at the ground as if it was at fault and my car was hidden beneath the cemented floor. It however slowly dawned on me that my car, the only asset I thought I had was gone. It had been stolen.

There are things you loose in life sometimes that makes you think you have lost it all. I felt that way that morning. The car was the only family car. It was a utility car that served as office, house and even store. I had so many items in the car, that 20 years after I still cannot account for what was lost along with it. It was used for school runs, church runs, market runs etc. I had a loan yet to be fully repaid on it.

Some losses in life create terrible vacuum or gaps that make your world collapse or so it seems . I am not talking about loss of human lives now but loss of things, positions, opportunities, friendships, jobs, careers. Some of theses losses look like you are set back by several years and if you don’t snap out of the loss early, it may lead to depression, high blood pressures, hopelessness and ultimately death. At times like this, we feel like everything has ended and we can no longer survive. We are overwhelmed, perplexed and sometimes we enter into a blame game or a world of self pity.

Folks, the first lesson here is to know that there is nothing that is acquired that cannot be “re-acquired”. It is never too late to start again. The road does not end at your bus stop, you can always start again.

Surviving any type of loss is not theoretical. It is not taught in any school. You are not even prepared for it. Maybe you could learn from a few people that have had the experience but I tell you the feelings can never be the same. The first trick is making a decision not to be lost along with your loss. Recovery always starts with a realistic appraisal of the situation and a decision.

Sometimes our pride is our limitation. We ask ourselves questions like:

Where do i start from?

Do I have to write the exam again?

Does it mean i will have to be trekking or hopping from buses?

What will my friends say?

Does it mean I will now be jobless?

Where will i live?

Will there be another opportunity?

Some of the questions are good if they are asked genuinely and not in self pity. Proffering answers strategically and sincerely will also help. The understanding that the losses does not translate to the end of one’s life is critical because when there is life there is great hope. Solutions must be apprised carefully to avoid a repeat or further calamity.

When my car was stolen, a friend of mine lent me a car to use temporarily. It was a bigger and more luxurious car and I was tempted to keep using it. One day my husband said to me; “what is not your own, is not your own, go and return that car”. I was looking for a temporary solution to a permanent problem. It would just be what it was ‘temporary’ .

So did i return the car? Yes i did. Did i trek? Yes i trekked. I walked my kids to school. I trekked to work when i didn’t get a ride. i rode in taxis. I went through the process of discomfort until my change came.

For every setback as we may think our losses are, there are periods of waiting. For some such periods are very short but for many others it might be long. For a few it might take a life time but honestly there is always light at the end of the tunnel for those who wait. Recently, April 2020 in Lagos Nigeria, a couple aged 68 and 71 respectively had their first babies (a set of twins). How amazing? They virtually waited their life time to carry their own babies but they did and at last their light shone.

Getting over any kind of loss is a personal decision and takes personal responsibility. Sometimes we may get help from family and friends but they can only help you to the extent to which you allowed. This is because when night time comes and you are alone, you still have to think it though by yourself.

My ultimate solution which has helped me over time not just on the loss of a car (which today is a mere loss) is to return always to the Source. If I had that thing and it was lost, I ask myself how did I get it in the first place? If the Source is not dry and not limited then I return to Him for my restoration.

For He says to us always

If our health is lost : He says “I will restore your health and heal your wounds.. “(Jeremiah 30:17)

If property is lost and time wasted: He says “I will do a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) and will also restore our wasted years and we will have abundance and be satisfied (Joel 2:25-26)

If position is lost or denied: He says He is the judge that sets you up (Psalm 75:6-7)

If our peace is lost: He says He will give it back to us always and by all means and this time it shall be permanent (John 14:27, 2 Thessalonians 2:16)

While you return to your Source, your Manufacturer, Jehovah God is his name do not hesitate to take the necessary steps required for greatness. As you do, his promises of restoration is assured, His help is delivered and your restoration is always in multiplied state.

So let me conclude by saying, even if it tarry, wait for it because it will surely come to pass and you will remember not the former things because He will do a new thing.

For me, it took almost a year before I got another car but I learnt a lot during that time of waiting. I learnt to appreciate and trust God the more. I learnt that a man’s life is not valued by what he has and so it’s not the car that made me. I learnt humility as I walked my kids to school. I matured to understand that almost all the things we worry about are temporal and none is eternal. I learnt that there is hope for everyone who partners with God. I learnt that what is not my own is not my own. I learnt that borrowing is slavery and a borrower is a slave to the lender (Deuteronomy 28:12). I learnt to deal with pride and self pity. I learnt that with time, diligence and favour of God recovery is possible.

Finally, I learnt that every loss is recoverable but the greatest loss of mankind is eternity not possession and one must secure it by all means. When eternity is lost it is irrecoverable. Lets secure it now while we can.

@denikyjay

PS: Send your life transforming stories to: glitterwithadenike@gmail.com

COVID 19 AND SOCIAL DISTANCING

Yesterday, my daughter asked me if I had a hand sanitizer in the car and my response was that I carry one in my bag always even before the advent of corona virus. She responded by saying “Do you have in the car because of your driver and other passengers that he may carry when you are not in the car”. Of course I felt stupid because I didn’t make that provision.

So today after church service (yes I went to church….), I went to the mall to get sanitizer for the car and they had ran out of stock. I returned home without one. As I drove back to the house I realized how easy it was for the virus to spread. You can never be careful enough folks! My understanding of social distance as curtailment of this evil virus was enhanced.

And yes, I went to church today. It was very important to me and I had assignments. So I made a decision to take notes of contacts that could endanger me should there be a carrier of the virus among members. Below is a list of some of the interesting things that happened.

  1. I was giving a gate pass by the security personnel at the gate. I’m not sure if his hands were clean, if he used a sanitizer and if the sanitizer was not fake. But I collected the tally and reminded myself not to touch my face until I had clean my hands.
  2. At the entrance of the church, I was warmly received by an usher who poured some drops of sanitizer into my palms. She didn’t check if I used it or not. The truth is I didn’t because I was not sure of the quality. So I reminded myself not to touch my face until I cleaned my hands.
  3. As I tried to find a seat, my car keys fell and one of the very nice ushers picked it and handed it over to me.
  4. This is Nigeria and trust me, the weather was hot even at 7.am in the morning, so I walked to the big standing fan not too far from where I sat. I switched on the fan from the socket and directed the fan towards my seat. I reminded myself again that I must wash my hands and not touch my face.
  5. The fan was a big relief. However, it blew my hair across my face so I had to repack it neatly tucking it behind my ears. OMG! I just touched my face, my nose and cheek to be precise. I had not washed my hand prior to this time. That was a mistake.
  6. Shortly a little girl came close to me smiling. She was so adorable and I could not resist carrying her in my hands. So I picked her up and played with her a little before handing her over to the usher, who passed her to another usher who took her out to find her mother. Wow! all of that contact. Only God knows how many people had carried that baby. I encouraged myself, this is God’s house. I am covered by the blood.
  7. In the course of the service, my neighbor, a fairly elderly man probably about 60 years old asked me for assistant. I didn’t hear him well, he was whispering. We didn’t want to disturb the church service, so I moved closer to him. He was one of those who releases spit when they speak and before I could say Jesus!, I felt a soft droplet on my cheek. It was spittle. All he wanted was to borrow my pen.
  8. My assignment in church included collection of offering. I was assigned to three rows of 8 people on each roll. The process was to give the basket to the first person who sat on the first seat in the first roll who would pass it on, until the last person on the third roll after which I will retrieve the basket. That in all was contact with 24 people.
  9. I have faith, this is just an experiment, so I encouraged myself. As I walked back to my seat after dropping the offering basket, my eyes began to itch. It was that funny kind of itching that you rub impulsively. And that exactly was what happened, I had rubbed my itchy eye before I remembered it was “corona time”.
  10. Church service ended and it was time for grace. We were asked to place our hands on our heads and share the goodness and as you know for ladies who wear wig, your head actually starts from your forehead, part of which includes your eyelids.
  11. As I walked out of the service into the parking lot, the number of contact from after- service greeting was endless.

From the above summary, I must have had contact with not less than 50 people in a church service of 90 minutes. This does not include contact with shared spaces like chairs and tables. Now you can imagine how easy it is for the virus to spread.

We are by nature made to be social beings. We touch, we hug, we pat our friends when we talk, we caress, we shake hands. Also It’s also often difficult to keep our hands from our faces. We rub our noses and eyes several times in one hour.

To reduce physical contacts with people therefore means you must see less of people. And in the process you are teaching your brain to adapt to a system of no contact. It’s a reversal of norm. It’s like what I experience each time I go to the UK from Nigeria and have to drive through a roundabout.

Also, It is almost impossible not to share things and spaces for as long as we are in the world. There are public spaces and things we share like taxis, buses, trains, seats in the park, churches classrooms, elevator (including the buttons), door knobs, stair rails, bathrooms etc. The list is endless.

Corona virus and social distance has introduced a new culture of suspicion that paints your Neigbour as a suspect to be avoided and mistrusted. It is a pandemic that is re-writing world history.

STUCK AT HOME

One thing that this Covid-19 pandemic has achieved is keeping us all at home. For some, this is a very difficult task and many would rather risk the infection than remain locked down in their homes.

However for those who have had so much pending things to do, its an opportunity to catch up and resolve the pending issues.

The truth nevertheless is that 14 or 21 days locked down is enormous for people who have no plan of vacation.

I pity the run-away daddies who often stay off because of the kids’ trouble. This is the part where everyone’s got to be real parents.

I suggest we come up with schedule for every member of the house as well as for ourselves. The following may help:

1. Devotion time should be extended now irrespective of your faith. At least we must spend time to pray against this siege. This should be done as a family, to improve family bonding and as well express joint responsibility. The whole human race is in this together. The virus is not colour or race sensitive.

2. Read. Everyone should read. I just finished my third book in four days. There are books that can be downloaded on-line. Mummy and Daddy please read. The world will not remain the same after Covid -19. Educate yourself to remain relevant. Read books: Management, Leadership, Motivational, Religious, Biographies, Autobiographies are all available online if you don’t have any.

3. Study. There is a difference between reading and study. Ensure your kids go through their school books and study. For those who have access to the internet, there are short courses you can take online.

4. Develop new skills or improve existing skills . You can improve your skills; be it cooking, sewing, IT, carpentry etc by continuous practice. Youtube practicals are available online. One of my friends in the US now sews in her basement. She took all her training online learning on youtube. It is also an opportunity to pursue that skill that you have always desired.

5. Watch TV. This is where caution is required. While it is good to watch TV, you must decide what to watch. News (careful of overloading yourself with negative stuff), Discovery channels, Geographical stations, documentary, Musicals (quality) Comedy (very good to ease tension) Religious stations (gives hope) etc. This must also be scheduled for the children and adults must be disciplined about it. There are times you just must shut down the TV to do other things. Don’t just allow your little kids to watch any kind of cartoon series. You will be shocked to know that we now have some dangerous cartoons that promote pornography and are abusive.

6. For church people like me. Include virtual church service in your scheduled and ensure you make your family sit with you to attend the on-line services. We did this last night. The best way to enjoy virtual services is to do it religiously as if you are in church. Dress properly, have your bible and jotter with a pen and listen with all your heart. It is not the time to answer phone calls or cook. Stand and participate where required. It is not time to eat.

6. Write. Yes! Pick your pen and do some writing. You may write short stories if you are inspired. Complete your research paper. Document your 2020 plan or draft one if you don’t have any. For great men, this is the time to come up with your 5 or 10 year plan or are we leaving that to the government too? That business plan that has been in your head for ages begin to prepare your feasibility studies on it. Develop your proposals on that business plan.

7. Develop your entrepreneurial skills. While we murmur and complain about this siege, I know a few people who are making lots of money using their business sense. Some are doing home delivery of food stuffs and water. I saw on a friend’s FB wall an advert on availability of sanitisers and i also saw request from people for supplies on the same page. do you know that those buckets of water placed in the market square are not for free? When you wash your hand, you pay N50.00. Therefore, folks its time to think. Maybe not immediately but after the lock down how can you improve your earnings by doing some extra things that will bring income.

8. Train/groom your children,wards and yourself. Most of the things we learnt in boarding school in our time are missing in the lives of our children today. So as parents this is an opportunity to groom your daughters to be ladies and your sons to be perfect gentle men. Teach them family values that the hustle and bustle of your job did not allow you to in the past. Teach them etiquettes (how to sit, use the cutlery, courtesy, dress, speak in public etc). Teach them values. When my kids were growing up, i made them take turns at public speaking. I would allow them pick a topic and then give a few minutes after our morning devotion for them to speak to it. It helped me measure their level of understanding and also helped build their self confidence.

9. Exercise. Engage in physical exercise. Walk, skip or practice yoga.

I could go on and on with ideas but I am sure we are beginning to think beyond these points. This is an unfortunate happening but it can also be used to our advantage if indeed we are wise.

So folks don’t blame anyone if nothing changed in your life or your family after this experience. You’ve got 14 or 21 days to re-invent yourself, re-write your story and change your life. It wont be the government’s fault nor your neighbour’s, nor God’s. It will be only yours if nothing change. Take responsibility and initiate the change you want to see in your life and in your homes.

Above all, one thing that must change for us all is our relationship with our maker. Who would have thought a year ago that a pandemic like this would shake the whole world? Who would have thought that a time would come when your bank accounts, visas and international passports cannot help you get out of the country for medical treatment?

Covid-19 is a leveler! It reveals the helplessness of man and our dependence on God. So let us be wise. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near, let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him: and to our God ,for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55 :6-7)

Adenike Babajamu (March 2020)

PRAY LIKE YOU HAVE THE VIRUS

Something happened to me in the early hours of this morning. As I knelt to pray, I was led to review my prayer points (the usual mother’s stuff after kingdom advancement, you know… children, husband, family, of course trust mothers only 3% percent or less of their prayers is really about them.)

Anyway this morning, I went through my prayer points in my mind and I realised that folks the whole world has only one prayer point now. And that is my heart cry today which I am drawing our attention to.

1. Tell me who passes an exam that is not written? So your prayer for that your child to pass WAEC or any examination for that matter is being delayed because you are not yet serious about the issues at hand.

2. Who gets a job and resume in an office that is not opened when there is a nationwide lockdown? As an applicant or new employee, your prayer can only be “let this plague be over”

3. Of What value is your visa when the borders are closed? So even with your ticket, you still cannot fly. All you can do is change dates and pray an end to this pandemic.

4. OK, who is going to give you that Visa when all the embassies remain locked?

5. How can you or your ward graduate even though you are in final year when the universities remain closed?

6. Ok you scored 296 in JAMB. Praise God but where are you going to use it if the universities remain shut?

The list is endless. So many things that cannot happen because the world has been held to ransom.

Its time to wake up and pray. For those of us and nations who are by mercy and grace exempted from this virus pray, Please PRAY, PRAY and PRAY.

I am astonished when I read some arguments on the social media. Yes the prayer houses are closed but our mouths are not, our knees can still bend. We can call on God.

Yes doctors are needed, researchers are busy, all health workers work 24/7, policy makers are reviewing economic impact and trying to find solution, governments of nations are engaged in resolving the crisis. In all of these, we see man’s struggles and helplessness in the face of a calamity that is defying man’s solution.

Recently,Thomas Schaefer, the Finance Minister of Germany’s Hesse state, committed suicide because of the overwhelming impact of Covid-19. Dependency on men and nations have failed woefully. Those the developing nations would have run to for help are even more helpless and confused. Frustration is every where. The superpowers have been humbled.

People are terrified. Many of these may happen, if we do not engage God for intervention. Fear and hopelessness is seen in the eyes of health workers who are risking their lives to help manage the situation. They also need our prayers.

In Nigeria, people even joke and say it is an affliction of the rich? How ridiculous and ironic. So who is the driver of the rich? Who cleans his house? who is the security man of the rich? Guys we cannot continue to joke with these issues.

Folks lets pray like never before. Your religion notwithstanding, Pray. This is not time to crucify any pastor or imam. Its not about them, its about you and I.

It’s about the future of our children who cannot be in school.

It’s about the private sectors who very soon will not be able to pay salaries to people who are not engaged.

It’s about rising prices and food that is running out in the market.

It’s about your neighbours, family members and siblings who will soon be coming to you for help to feed their families.

It’s about our society and increased crime rate as a result of joblessness and hunger

It’s about you, when you will have so much money but nothing to buy in the market. Oh Pray!

PRAY ! PRAY! PRAY!

Pray like you have the virus!

Pray like your family member is affected!

Pray as if your living depends on it!

Pray for the health workers!

Pray for divine wisdom for everyone involved in finding solutions to this virus

Engage your heart, your spirit and your soul.

Please Pray, thats what we all can do and its cheap but priceless and effective.

And very soon!

This shall pass and we shall together celebrate.

– Adenike Babajamu (March 2020)

Depressed? Suicide not an option.

For some, life begins at the very beginning, at birth. For many others, it begins severally with one event shutting down and another starting. Its not about when it begins, it is about identifying the beginning of each beginnings and letting go when it actually comes to an end. So for me, a man has several beginnings. No wonder we can easily shut our eyes to yesterday and start today as if yesterday never happened. can we?

This platform for me is a new beginning. When will it end? Probably today, tomorrow or never. My old friend, Segun Adewara once told me i had stories to tell. He advised me to tell them and I am like where? who would listen? But somehow I started and now I find myself creating this platform hoping that the stories I tell will inspire, motivate and get people back on track to their real purpose.

So let me start with the story of young Bola (not her real name). At age 14, Bola had completed her secondary school and was awaiting the release of her West Africa Examination Result. Well thats probably not the beginning of her story. As the second child from an average home growing up was torturous. She was ugly (so she thought) and was taunted by her classmates in school. She perceived that nothing good would come out of her life like many of our youth today. Her image was battered continually and she could not bear to stand around her classmates. The six years in Secondary school was like six years of torture in hell. So you can imagine how glad it was for Bola to eventually walk out of hell to paradise after her secondary school.

Bola’s WAEC result was released and some how she managed to get 5 credits including English and Mathematics. That was fair, life was finally smiling at her. She would get admission into the university, she thought. But alas, that was not to be because in the process of her miserable life in the college, Bola had failed to register for JAMB and of course was not eligible for admission into any university in Nigeria. This was in spite of the funds that was given her to do so. In a bid to cover-up Bola, came up with several lies that indicted not just her school teachers but got her father to travel over 650 kilometres to process admission using fake documents supplied by Bola.

Wrapped up in the web of lies and deceit, Bola’s life became more miserable. She was depressed. She had cooked up several lies to her innocent parents that there was no way for her to turn back. At the age of 14, Bola began to contemplate suicide. The night before the suicide, Bola summoned enough courage to approach her father. She confessed that she never purchased the JAMB form and that the documents she gave for which her father had been pursuing her admission were fake documents and that was why her name did not feature in the University.

“You mean, you allowed me travel over 650 kilometres with faked documents, to pursue admission in a university that you never applied to?” Bola’s father was too furious for any reaction. He ordered her to go to bed while he thought out a solution in the morning.

That night Bola could not sleep. shame and anger against herself kept her awake. How could she have done this to herself. Well, she could not wait till the morning to face her father who meant the world to her. So silently, she tiptoed to the fridge while others slept and forced dozens of aspirin down her throat. She went back to the room and wrote her suicide note; part of which read “I am sorry daddy, i am too ashamed to face you in the morning. Please forgive me” She then laid down to die.

Three hours after, Bola was still alive. she didn’t die but rather went through excruciating pain that was worse than death. Did she survive? Yes she did, because if she didn’t you wont be reading this story. I survived, yes, I did, to the glory of God. But unfortunately, many do not. Even as I write this, some young folks are still killing themselves.

Today, many of our youths have low self esteem. Many are struggling hard to meet the expectations of their parents. Many suffer peer pressure arising from intimidations from classmates and colleagues. Many are being assaulted and abused daily by family members and bear the shame in silence.

It is time to give attention to our teenagers and young adults who are at the age of confusion and contradictions. For the ladies among them, they are neither girls nor women. They are caught in between and need to be properly guided. Suicide is not only a decision of adults, today young undergraduates are victims. Many people try to explain by saying it is diabolical or what is called edi (spiritual hypnotism) in yoruba. Why for instance will a teenager or young adult suffer depression?

There are many questions begging for answer. When we truly answer them we will be able to help our future generation.

How is success measured by parents and the society? What kind of relationship do you have with your kids? Do you condemn them so badly when they make mistake that they loose their self esteem? Do you compare them with your friend’s children who you perceived as being better than them? Do you discuss your children’s weakness with family and friends? Do you preach fire and brimstone instead of love? Do you listen enough when they are talking to understand what they are not saying?

The future generation is what we are talking about now. Depression is not coloured. It is not gender or race sensitive. It has nothing to with age. It calls always for attention and the signs are always there, if we care to look enough.