Happy New Year: Efe

“In the thirtieth year… the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” Ezekiel 1 vs. 1

I’ve had some years that stand out as very positive and full of steps forward and last year was one of them. I love to do my thinking in the shower so join me there if you will.

*removes ring, takes off clothes, steps into the shower*

That’s right! I now wear a ring. By this time last year I didn’t even know the name of the person I’m now married to (Her name is Ima, in case you were scared to ask, and it means love). During the process of buying our family home (one of the brightest points of my entire life), she was introduced to the family as the lawyer handling the legal details. At the same time, my church family began to perceive that I was being set up for marriage and God helped my Dad put two and two together. Haha look at the irony. Efe the relationship advisor being match made!

My reaction to this was to laugh at God’s sense of humour. I’d reached the point of being spoilt for choice in the marriage matter. My binders were full of competent women (I’m sorry Romney, I could not resist) and analysis paralysis had pushed me to the point of asking God to just choose for me. I didn’t know how He was gonna answer that prayer but when I was told of Ima and the indications that she was the Rebecca to my Isaac, my first reaction was that of laughter. (Isaac means laughter).

We met and started courting. It was quick and to the point. If I begin to list all the attractions and chemistry and blessings multiplied between the two of us, I may incite my single friends to jealousy. Let it be known to the world though, that it is on record that Efe has loved and been loved. I’m swimming in love right now. (Ima means love) I’m so grateful to God. Our wedding was socially unusual and because of that there was friction from her family but God helped the young woman. She held firm through the storm and sought to keep the family at peace. Now we’re four months into our marriage and swinging our legs in glee from our marriage swing of love. No time.

I learnt how jealous and protective I could be of my partner. (Wow. God must be so jealous over us when we pander to men and things and idols and neglect Him.) Even the things in our history (past relationships and wild oats sown) seemed like despicable acts of betrayal. I felt sad that many young people will never know the joys of marriage simply because they have already begun spending the capital of love required for the marriage business on other white elephant projects. Celibacy, young people. Less baggage, earlier marriage, financial independence. All more important to me for single people than sexual or relationship experience.

Enough about marriage.

*notices the shower holder is fixed too high in the wall for petite wife to reach, frowns*

This last year I was holding down my first job. I met all kinds of people: the disillusioned, the competitive, the encouraging, the back stabbers, and the natural leaders. I learnt a lot about myself. Turns out I’m not as bold as I thought. The general feedback was that I loved to take the back seat and let others lead, not pushing my ideas strongly enough and letting weaker ideas triumph instead. This was a mild shocker. I’d’ve never noticed that though I was often the tallest or most intelligent in the room, I simply preferred stepping back and encouraging others to take the heat while I worked in the background. This will change this year. The funny thing is, despite my laid back, laissez-faire approach, some people still see me as being too forward. Hey guys, I’m not caring anymore. Smarty lala all the way in 2013 men.

Let me talk a bit about my gadgets this year.

My iPod has been annoying. Great device for music and games but I don’t like how it arranges my music. I sync a folder with many collaborating artists and it splits the folder so I have to remake my playlist in order to play them in succession. I don’t like seeing the duplicated songs either. How does that happen? I can’t collect or send songs by Bluetooth. The songs I download from sites don’t enter my iTunes list. To do that I have to download on my laptop and sync to my iPod. This offends me. I don’t need a laptop except for syncing my iPod. Apple, why? And I can’t sync my iPod to more than 5 devices. In fact, any new sync may wipe out everything on the iPod. If the iPad is a bigger version of the iPod then I can’t deal with this.

Had to let that out.

My Galaxy tab changed my life on the other hand. Mastered the art of Swyping (I’m a global expert, even the Americans were marvelled at my prowess). My note taking at meetings is faster than handwriting and my minutes come out faster than anyone else’s. My blog posts are all done here and I’ve moved my virtual life from my laptop to my tablet. So portable and light too. The annoying thing is the crashing. Oh my days this tablet has crashed up to a hundred times in one year and been replaced by warranty twice. It even has a copy and paste bug (this bug shuts down any program you try to copy from until you reset the tablet and lose all your hard earned updates) Rooting it seems to be the only way forward (apparently most of the problems are from the Samsung interface, not the tab itself). For that I’m grateful to my geek friends for helping me out with my enquiries and questions.

My latest gadget is my 2008 Mercedes E200 Kompressor (Elegance class). I’m excited! Nuff said already!!!!!!!! (Wanted to name the car Nkechi but my wife would be jealous. Still thinking. Maybe Bobo would work. Help me out people)

My friends and family have been wonderful in the last year. My love for them grew deeper and I started trying to spoil them a little. Phew! The house purchase took a lot out of us all and it’s time (in my mind) for us to be a bit more comfortable. Lord, please don’t allow us be carried away by comfort. Amen.

There it is, all I can remember about last year. Special thanks to all who participated in the 2012 Guest review. God has used you all to touch the lives of everyone who read your stories. We still have about five stories unposted and they will go up sometime next week. All at once. I do not believe we should miss those interesting perspectives simply because of date limitations.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!!

Honey! Towel please!

*steps out of shower dripping rivulets of sweggur, steaming vapors of greatness*

Finale Part III: Tokunbo

January 6th. He didn’t have to type the letter. All he really had to do was edit the one he’d made use of previously. It felt amazing stepping into the office on the first working day of the year just to edit and submit this letter. The first time he’d had to do this, it had been easy, straight forward. The organization was dying and no one seemed to care. Here, it was the same, and yet, not. The organization was dying, but these people cared. They’d flailed and struggled through the decay, but it was all effort in futility. They recognized this, yet they tried… until they couldn’t anymore. An opportunity came knocking, he dismissed it, not recognizing it for what it was. They say lightning don’t strike the same place twice… well, it did. The opportunity came again, miraculously and this time, he accepted. On January 6th, 2012, Toxic turned in his resignation, his second ever, in the process, diving out of a sinking ship; like many others there would do in the following months. Dominos.

January 9th. He looked out at the mammoth crowd and felt a swelling in his chest. Pride. He was part of something, a bigger something. His people were standing up, finally, and he was a part of the revolution; the revolution that would, sadly, turn out to be a waste of everybody’s time. It began a revolution, became a concert, then a jamboree, then a full-out carnival… and then a joke. There was some pride still, a small private pride. He stood with many who believed… at least when it was still a revolution. Many still believe things will someday get better. Someday. Toxic still believes.

January 24th. He stepped out of the taxi and looked up at the building he was about to walk into to begin writing the newest chapter of his life. They say in life, there are no guarantees. Well, this was one, if any, that his Father watched and remembered His own. It would be very challenging, but that was what this young man realized that he needed to prepare himself for the rigorous road that stretched so far ahead still that he could not see where it led. He only knew it was there and it would not be easy, but travel it, he would. He stepped into the building, continuing on the journey.

April 8th. The trip had been long, arduous, but he was here. Many would say he was foolish. Even he would say he was being foolish had he been looking at himself from the past or from the future; chasing a pipe dream he knew ended at a valve screwed tightly shut and yet, he had embarked on it. Even a bomb going off in his path had not stopped him. How could a mere boko haram bomb blast be the reason he would not complete the journey to meet her, this woman he had met and fallen in love with online? How could he say he loved her and never get to stroke her hair? How could he not ever kiss her like he had promised he would so many times? Boko Haram? What is a boko? Please. Through the idiotic check points, through the bad roads, through the hills and the valleys, the dust, he journeyed and met her, in the flesh, for the first time, and she was all he imagined. And more. But… this did not make it any more futile, this love they shared. He was christian, she was moslem, both of them devout. It was sad, desperate foolishness. It ended before it even began. Painfully.

May 18th. Ever told yourself “what if?” countless times and then come to see the very scenario you dread stare you in the face? Toxic was faced with his greatest fears and was found wanting, helpless. Have you received a phone call that suddenly fills every crevice of your very being with dread and regret? Death came calling… thankfully, no one answered. Have you any idea how hard it is to see the man who all your life has been strong, too strong sometimes, overbearing even, lie there at his weakest, most vulnerable moments? Toxic ‘s father, to whom he had not spoken or seen that year so far, despite the fact that they lived in the same city, suffered a stroke and was met lying on what could easily have been his death bed. Tears near fell. But tragedy is something they were familiar with. They had been on many hospital visits in the past. Death had visited once before, a parent lost. The tears didn’t fall, not this time. The family rallied round, money was raised, calls were made, prayers prayed and the father was soon on his feet once again. In the process, a relationship was healed also. For His faithfulness, Jah be praised.

June 3rd. Love came knocking again, this time from the past. Nearly spontaneously, they were both swept away and this time, there was no hesitation. This love, he had long seen would stand the test of time if given a chance. The chance she had previously refused to give this love to blossom, she finally yielded now. And like wild flowers, it bloomed and flourished and prospered. Like a climbing plant looping its tendrils around its very obstacles to pull its vines up and spread its foliage over them, winning, their love has transcended every challenge encountered thus far, some very tough indeed, one very perpetual. They do not delude themselves though, many more lie ahead and they have pledged “no matter what” to each other. Time will tell. Time will certainly tell.

July 31st. Confirmed, guarantees do exist. Against all odds, the Father stays faithful. The struggle was real, inspiration was far, yet respite came to Toxic. There was confirmation, a testimony was placed on his lips. Sleepless nights were laid to rest. Fears and worry abated. Peace and calm returned to the stormy waters. Restoration. Well, till the next appraisal of the situation anyway.

And then came September, when the blur began.

Perhaps it was age catching up with the ‘young man’ but memory was beginning to fail him. The details in his life began to blend into each other and the little joys seemed to be lost on a beautiful mind. Were there no testimonies? There were. No pain? There was. So why could he not remember the specifics?

A rut.

An inexplicable, indefinable rut. He could not write much, nothing he created was astounding, very little reading was done, projects were abandoned to limbo. To make it worse, despair did not set in. Should there not have been some despair at this state of stagnation? Probably. But for whatever reason, there wasn’t. Not even when he climbed out of the rut. Not even as he climbs out of the rut. You see, Toxic is still climbing.

Now, in retrospect, if there was one thing Toxic could theme those last four months, and indeed his whole year, it would be friendship. This was that year that very little dependency occurred but much dependability was required. His friends were there and he is thankful for that, but this year, he was the friend to be counted on. Less borrowing and more lending. Many words of comfort and a listening ear. A support to be leaned upon and a shoulder to be cried on. A friend in and in the absence of need. Toxic learned to be a good friend and a better minister, an all round better person. In some cases, he even learned how to be the bigger person. The learning goes on, his whole lifetime he hopes to stay learning. He will.

All in all, it was a year of progress and growth for Toxic, a year of rising to and shining for the Father’s glory. Not in the tangible, material things, not yet… but in the deeper things, most certainly. Everything good will come, but for the few good things that he possesses already, Toxic is thankful.

Toxic the Detoxified.

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Thank you everyone for going on this journey with us all.

*exits, stage left*

Finale Part II: Muyiwa

When I read Skills’ post, I felt something I could immediately relate with and I asked to do this. So much happened and changed in my life in 2012. Very evident from the fact that I am actually doing this.

Of the many talents I have been blessed with, I don’t think writing is one of them. I tried to make it look like the previous posts from all the talented writers and bloggers, but… Anyways, here goes nothing.

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I remember very vividly how my year began. It was a very lonely time for me even though there were so many people around me. I just spent my first Christmas without my usual friends and family. My highlight on New Years Eve was hearing Oliver Twist on the BBC New year eve special and listening to Michael McIntyre’s jokes while sipping Vodka and Ribena. It was unusual not spending this night in Church, so at the stroke of midnight I dropped my Vodka to say a short prayer. I asked for three things:

–> Success in my MSc. that wasn’t going according to plan at the time
–> Getting a very good job
–> A real relationship.

A little about me before we move on,
I’ll admit having it rather easy in life prior to now, compared to many people. I’ll admit being a bit spoilt and procrastination is/was natural to me. I love helping people with their challenges and I rarely seek/get any help when I need it. Partly because of pride to ask; I try to keep as much to myself as I can and when I finally try to open up, for some reason people don’t believe I have issues I can’t handle being Mr Fix it (No Anenih).

My usual tactics weren’t working for me anymore and I knew I had to do things differently. I made a conscious effort to stop procrastinating, stop listening to people who only want to discourage you and do what needed doing, regardless of any impending disappointments.

The disappointments came in thick and fast, in all areas; Uni was kicking my tiny behind, I was getting the usual morning emails of “we are sorry….” from prospective employers and the babe I was chasing put me on “its coming” (I later found out I dodged a bullet). On the bright side, this helped me to understand that all my efforts and talents counted for nothing without God.

I started praying a lot (mostly not be discouraged) and continued digging in.
I gave myself ultimatums and deadlines, tightening loose ends and doing everything in my power so I wouldn’t blame myself for not doing all I could. I did my last bit of applications to stop the disappointments and focus primarily on my schoolwork, which now included my demanding thesis.
It was a full laboratory rig experiment that demanded many results and the pressure from my perfectionist supervisor wasn’t helping.

The year went on, still lonely with so many people around me. I hid it behind fake smiles, football and all the work I had to do.

Fast-forward a few months, nothing much happening, my life still moving at the speed of light and me trying to catch up all by myself.

Results from the last semester started filtering in, all very good, some so good, they exceeded my high expectations completely.

I got feedback from prospective employers for tests, interviews and assessment centres. Finally life was moving on.

At this point, 24 hours wasn’t enough for me. There was so much to do in so little time with very little help available. I was losing sleep because there was so much to do and my mind was not at rest. Everything here was new territory to me; I was clueless 70% of the time. I needed an intervention.

I left my first interview confident but apparently the interviewers had different opinions. In a few weeks, the letter of disappointment came in the mail, just before my final exams. Perfect timing! I tried to shrug it off to properly prepare for my exams, but we all know how our minds work. During my exams, I got another assessment centre invite. Perfect timing again! As if the pressure on me wasn’t enough.

I dug deeper, prayed harder and did everything in my power to combine all I had to do. Confidence on an all time low, I decided to forge ahead on all fronts.

Long story short, I got the second job. I didn’t expect it. There were too many hurdles: online tests that didn’t submit at the other end, forgetting my suit in the coach (and chasing it down like Mo Farah), hotel booking gone wrong etc. (this is another story entirely). Getting the job was the highlight of my year at the time. There was finally something to look forward to.

The only problem was that at this point my thesis was an absolute wreckage. Six months of my work went up in smoke because of a very very tiny error in a program I wrote. It was as bad as you can imagine. I was already fearing for the worst that I wouldn’t finish in time, the job would be gone etc. etc. I could only get limited help, because I was working on something quite complex. I couldn’t hold it in anymore, I was desperate, so I started asking for help. Anybody and everybody. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I think that episode of my life happened to humble me. It made me open up more and ask for help.

My supervisor kept piling the pressure on me. I couldn’t take it anymore, I needed to reset my system, I needed my friends and family, I dropped everything in Cranfield and went home to Nigeria. It was a perfect time since almost everybody was going to be around.

The trip was perfect. Everything went according to plan; I cleared my head, regained my strengths thanks to my awesome friends and family. It got me fired up for the home stretch. This was also the first step in re-establishing contact with HER.

When I came back, I worked round the clock to get everything done in time. SHE was a constant source of encouragement on my up and down days and I started to think… why not if not? I had known her for 4 years now, we really should have been together many times before now, the blinking bulb could be changed to one bright lamp. She was pretty much everything I was looking for and more.

I asked the naturally tentative, procrastinating me to take a back seat and I let her know how I felt in a ‘que sera sera’ way. Interestingly she shared the same sentiments. Today, we are together and working things out everyday as life shoves its lemons at us.

Back in Uni, my thesis was a success. I was even asked if I would want to continue work on it as a doctoral research, but I declined before he could finish saying PhD. I’m done with school indefinitely.

I started work the same week I finished from Uni. Apart from the transition period, packing and living in (the very dead town of) Scunthorpe, it has been almost perfect.

The year that started all gloomy and lonely is ending on an all time high. I can’t thank God enough.

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I know this sounds like a Pentecostal church testimony but…. I started this year on a very very low note. I asked God for three things and today,

–> I have completed my MSc. With stellar grades
–> I have a job where I’m constantly learning and applying my two very different degrees
–> I have someone in my life I’m looking forward to taking a huge leap with
–> I have learned (the hard way) not to be proud to ask for help
–> My mum has finally retired after 35 years (God bless her hardworking soul)
–> I have another nephew
–> I have met some absolutely wonderful people and
–> Good things are happening to the most important people in my life everyday.

If I have any disappointments it would be:

–> Spending my birthday in the lab with ultrasonic sensors
–> Not winning the Cranfield summer football tournament, and
–> My job still keeps me away from the most important people in my life.

For as long as I can remember, I believe 2012 has the best year of my life so far. Its been that kind of year. Thank God the Mayans were wrong.

If you are reading this, it means I didn’t lose you in the middle of my ramblings or you just skipped down here, anyways, thanks for reading to this point.

I don’t want to limit God, so here’s to an even better 2013.

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Well bro you just discovered your latest talent: WRITING. The logical flow to this hints at a brilliant mind and a man with greatness ahead of him. With God by your side, impossible is nothing!

Please rethink the Ph.D. We need your mind in the academia. Thank you very much Muyiwa 🙂

Guys and girls, the finale post comes up by 6 pm by Olatokunbo, my brother from another land. See you then.

Finale Part I: Jibola

The most difficult things I ever have to write in my life are things that are about me or my life. I literally stare for hours at a blank screen when I am to put together (say) a 150 word (small) bio. It’s not for a dearth of answer to the question “Who am I?” but more of a visceral unwillingness to put anything down. Like you’d put a gun to my head and I’d still find it hard to say much about myself asides my name. You could say I am hiding something. You could also say that I am hiding away from myself. It’s why I find writing something of this sort extremely difficult. But I also realize that it is important that I do.

Why then, you ask, did you carry your big head and volunteer to write this if you’re so reluctant; after all nobody begged you, no? Well… maybe I am tired of walking past the mirror with my face turned away in fear of what I might find. There’s no clear script, rhyme or reason to this so take (figuratively) my hand and let’s retrospectively take a trip through this year as lived by me.

Ah, this year I learned mahn.

You see, from this point on, I had written something totally different. And it was an expose of sorts. I was going to talk about how I fucked up and all that blah. A whole bunch of shit happened for me this year, that I’d largely been quiet about and took in my stride because I am the guilty party (for the most part). But you see, nothing is ever black and white. However, I also realize the Mongrel pulling the Pacquiao should simply be allowed to do so. So that’s that.

My people say something: “Tout le monde est sage apres coupe” that is Hindsight is 20/20. Given the gift of hindsight, I’d no sooner change a whole bunch of my choices. But then again, Questa e la vita, viviamo e impariamo. Such is life, we live and we learn.

But where was I? I learned. I came into 2012, putting a way the asshole and an outlook of giving my empathic self a chance. It worked, and it burned to a large extent because I was super irresponsible about my feelings and those of people around me and I loved. Lol. Safe to say the asshole is back.

I learned a whole lot more about myself. At work and at play. I learned my limitations and shortcomings. I learned a lot about choices and the effects/consequences of those choices. I also learned that there is a reason for everything; every damned thing. And because you do not know the purpose at that moment, does not make it devoid of meaning.

I am grateful because I made some of my dreams come true this year. I pushed myself to the limits and I am very pleased with the results. Even at the risk of being labelled unavailable by my friends and loved ones, I did. And it’s paying off. However, I worry. Because like a drug, success, can be largely addictive. And it kills me that I will be there for the ones I love, less and less. But I encourage myself that it’s for the greater good.

Bijou, Kikelomo, Oubong, Olubunmi, Nene, Shade, Kunmi, Amaka, and Adeola I appreciate you. You made this year beautiful.

Sam and Barb, ti amo mille volte. Voi siete più di una famiglia per me.

Jason, Tinto, and Timi; you’re the best team anyone can ask for. Y’all are too fucking brilliant, it humbles me.

Efa, Bayo and Ronke deserve special mentions. Dealing with me is supremely challenging. Your patience and love for me humbles and makes me at least try to act like a human being sometimes (Doesn’t mean my phone habit will improve though).

Abimbola. You’re beautiful. I didn’t deserve you.

To my little brother, you’re a Man now. Being yourself is so much easier. The man you’ve made your role model is still trying to figure his own way through this life. Lol. I’m imperfect, but you’ll learn a whole lot about that.

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Can we hold the Jibs to this Abimbola declaration? People want to know urgently while it’s still 2012.

I’m glad I can rub shoulders with this gentle giant. We’re the same height 😀

Muyiwa will take us on his 2012 cruise by noon. Be here for the cliff jump off 🙂

Day 30: Victor

2012: TheYear of The Walker

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of face within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity.
Calvin Coolidge

Like a lot of people I had a list of things I set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year. First on that list was getting my own place. I had grown accustomed to living alone between 2005 and 2009 spending only a couple of months with the folks each year only to move back to Lagos and lose my freedom. It was hard settling back in with the folks and by January 2012 I had gotten jaded. I needed my own space and privacy so when my friend offered me his apartment in January it felt like a godsend. I moved into my own apartment mid-January, happy to have a place I could finally call my own. January was also the month I officially started dating the most wonderful woman a guy could ever ask for (but we’ll get to that part later).

The last quarter of 2011 had been awesome for me work-wise. It was my break-out season in so many ways, it got me all hyped up for this year. I had a ton of expectations and plans; I started off brimming with enthusiasm and ready to go like a puppy on a Saturday morning. A few months and a couple of bad investments later I had blown away a chunk of my nest egg and I learned the hard way not to rush into things and plan properly before investing. Also learned that the law of diminishing marginal utility does not apply to Garri and beans; it can be enjoyed three times a day.

Looking back now I can boldly say that it was only through divine providence that I didn’t go broke and run back home with my tail between my legs. The fact that I was able to tough it out earned me a lot of respect from my folks and in some ways even improved our relationship.

It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. M. Scott Peck

“We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”
1st John 4.13-16

I had a few tough moments this year. I battled with a few personal demons, lost a few people close to me, pushed a few others away, struggled with celibacy and at one point I almost lost all faith in God. One thing I’m proud of is the fact that I had an awesome support system of friends and family that helped me through the lows. I learnt put my trust in God when I had absolutely nowhere else to turn to for strength.

I’m glad to say it paid off. I’m not a ‘better man’ per se, I just realised I don’t need to be when I’ve got the big man behind me. That alone has made my life a lot easier.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

I met a lot of awesome people this year but most importantly I became friends with a few who were already acquaintances. Two of them happen to be my current flatmates. The first one moved in with me in my one room apartment, shared in my victories, drank Garri with me during our dry season and was always quick to tell me harsh truths when I strayed. He’s a man of few words but I can always count on him for words of encouragement or reproach when needed. His honesty is one of his strong qualities and I am truly grateful to call him friend.

My second flatmate is another really remarkable person I was fortunate to get close to this year. He’s incredibly strong willed and independent and reminds me a lot of myself. We both have similar demons so it’s easy to relate with him on so many levels. He went through a lot this year and just watching him transform from just a regular dude to a devoted father in the space of months was one of the high points of my year. Gave me hope that I just might not do so badly when the time comes for me.

In August I joined forces with some fellow mad men and started a weekly podcast that’s all sorts of wild and silly (http://www.theghenghen.com/). Apart from the obvious joy I get from recording such madness. The pre and post-recording banter is absolutely phenomenal. I’ve come to realise how incredibly brilliant these guys are, after getting past how disturbing their thoughts are.

A man reserves his true and deepest love not for the species of woman in whose company he finds himself electrified and enkindled, but for that one in whose company he may feel tenderly drowsy.
George Jean Nathan

I don’t know how it happened or why (my guess is that someone must have spiked cupid’s baby bottle with JD) but sometime in January an amazing woman decided to ignore my superabundance of flaws and become my girlfriend. It’s been almost a year now and I can’t believe I haven’t fucked it up yet. She’s become my best friend, my financial adviser, wing-woman, lover and confidant.

Don’t get me wrong, ours is not a Hollywood romance. We’ve had our fair share of fights, days when I wished I didn’t love her so much, days when I thought I lost her but through it all the love we share overcame our moments of stupidity (mostly my stupidity but hey we’re a couple we share these things…lol). Like a pair of well-worn denims she fits me perfectly. There’s no need for me to be anything other than myself with her, she accepts me completely. She makes me strive daily to be a better man and even when I act a fool she’s patient with me.
I love being with her regardless of where we are or what we’re doing.  Doesn’t matter if we’re taking walks through dodgy streets in Kpansia or watching football at a bar I just want to be with her.

*sigh*

I’m thankful that I have her in my life and even if we were to part today I would not regret the time I’ve spent with her. God willing we’ll only get better.

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Check out the collaborative work Victor and his crazy friends do on the Ghen Ghen website here.

Thank you very much for sharing your Ghen Ghen year with us. That was how you concluded with romance and we are all here envying you, not even knowing who the babe is. It’s all good though.

Dusk: Omorogbe

I’m sat on my bed trying to think up a way to start this article about how this year has been for me and I’m having a hard time of it. I don’t know if it’s the fact that nothing much happened to me or maybe I’m just finding ideas hard to come by. After much struggle and questioning of my ability to put down my thoughts, I’ve finally taken a leap and written a few things.

In all honesty, this year was an annoying year for me. Here I was doing compulsory National Service which I hated for assorted reasons, not least for the fact that I’d been made to waste a lot of time before embarking on it, and also, let’s be honest, working isn’t a lot of fun.

For me, the year was bland interspersed with a few extremes here and there. But that’s usually how life is, so it’s nothing to moan about after all whining changes nothing considering the universe couldn’t care less about whatever I might be passing through.

Writing this, I’m thinking “most of what I want to put down is clearly negative, but no one likes a sad story…”, so I’m scrambling to find good stuff to put in.

As I said earlier, this was my service year. The year started with me starting work in January having gone through the ‘rigours’ of finding a job the previous year. Here I was in a decent organisation with some good enough standing in the industry. It felt good and I was determined to make the most of it. Not that I didn’t, just that as time went on I lost the enthusiasm I started with and slowly begin to regress into the whole going-through-the-motions routine. To top it off, my boss was the yelling type. I know what you’re thinking “what’s the big deal about a bit of shouting”, well it was awful. It got adults crying. I have to confess it brought tears to my eyes once. That takes some doing. Eventually, I got used to it and he left our organisation (although not before he wound up into falling in a disciplinary pit). The ironic thing is, when he left it almost brought tears to my eyes.

Probably the biggest thing that happened to me this year was the end of the aforementioned crap National Service. I’m glad it’s finally ended and though it means it won’t be seeing some friends anymore, I cannot quite put across how elated I was in October. It coincided with my birthday and put in perspective my progress [or lack of it] in life. Even though I’m 23, I feel like I should be doing much much better than currently am doing. Yes, I might have a job and all that but I feel lke the coming year should see more improvement front me in every single facet of my existence. Then again, not tethering on the brink of what some might call depression would be an improvement in and of itself. I had too many periods this year when I felt like everything was stacking up to form an obstacle in some way and yeah, sometimes you’re in such a sad place you effectively tell yourself you’re just better alone. I’m pretty sure when kept me going was the knowledge that there was no such thing as life being fair or unfair. It just throws up random scenarios and our perspective determined whether or not that scenario wad fair or not [to us]. As mundane as that might seem, that’s what keeps me because I know that all I need to do is keep going, keep chugging along, better scenarios will come up. What was I saying about no one liking a sad story! I need to come up with more happy stuff that happened this…
*Shuffles through immense amount of stuff that occurred this year* …er, I guess that’s my story.

It’d be very easy for me to say I hated this year and I’m glad to see it pass, so I will not. There was a smattering of good in the year, no doubt [yes, celebrating a year end is like celebrating the idea that death is around the corner lurking waiting to get it’s awful claws on you] so as the year ends it’s going to be with mixed feelings that I say goodbye to the year and look forward to a new year that’ll hopefully bring better things.

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I don’t know why the first line “I’m sat on my bed…” cracked me up. Was half expecting to see “I’m sat in my grandfather’s rocking chair…” or something lol. Thank you very much for pulling yourself to write this 🙂

Day 29: Dolapo

No I do not know what possessed me to ask to write a guest review. I have no idea how to go about this so forgive me if I’m a little all over the place.

Let’s see… 2012 started with no New Year Resolutions as usual. I haven’t made those since I had to hand them in in primary school. Instead this was the year I decided to come out of my shell and see what noncompulsory human contact was like.

In March I turned *coughs* and spent the day taking exams, definitely nothing sweet about that. I had to delay the “party” till April (didn’t want one but it’s supposed to be some sort of milestone no? *shrug*). We went to the beach and I wanted to walk into the Atlantic but my phone decided to be my proxy. I ended up virtually phoneless till August.

Sometime after my parents issued an ultimatum. Neither of them is very literaryminded (if there is such a thing) so they do not understand that while laziness is a factor it’s not what prevents me from writing consistently. They said if I did not have anything worth publishing before I turned 17 I was on my own and would receive no further support in that area from them, afterall what better way to gain recognition than to be young or die just before or after your work is published? That was my first meltdown. A panicked phone call and many tears later I finally pulled myself together. There’s a reason I write, better ink spilled than blood and because I can.

I subsequently found out about blogs and opened one in May and that has perhaps been my best decision this year. I write for myself but at that time I needed buttressing and seeing people appreciate my work provided that. Now I’ve come to terms with their decision and I’m okay with it. Que sera sera.
Father moved to Lagos in June joining Mother and I after over 2 years of the three of us living relatively apart with me in boarding school, Mum in Lagos and Dad in Osun. Absence does make the heart grow fonder but it’s never enough. His job has called him back to Osun again this December.

Next up, I finished my diploma in Law in August and suddenly the road I was looking down was not the way I had imagined it would be. The diploma was supposed to be a detour. I had never wanted to study Law, not as a first degree anyway and after playing hookie all second semester I had just enough points to get into the next year but not transfer or do much else, at least not without losing a year in the process. It didn’t help either that subtle threats were coming from the parents’ corner. So here I am on the way to Meltdown 2 and another phone call to my “roll modem” this time helped me get my act together by showing me that it’s not the end of the world and that I still do have options. Now I’m a determinedly cheerful Lawyer-in-the-making.

September can best be described as one long manic-depressive episode. I was bored to tears, forgot what reality I was in and tried to get an internship somewhere, without “connections” though I had those. Hilarious I know, this is Nigeria we’re talking about! When I saw I was getting nowhere I remembered just how old I was and what I was doing lethargy set in. I became apathetic. Getting up from bed, or the couch to be precise was a struggle. It didn’t help matters either that my parents found out I was religiously undecided thanks to my big mouth and the easy relationship I enjoy with them most of the time. More threats ensued. No one wants to expend time and effort raising a wanton. Fortunately preparations for the new session put a stop to all that and my parents are committed to gently but firmly help me find God now with morning devotions etc.

This year showed me that I’m both stronger and weaker than I thought. After years of being on medication I forcefully pulled myself off it and though there were times I’ve wanted to give in to the pain I’m still here and stronger for it. Also despite the added exposure of being in the university I’ve been able to stand firm in my resolve to neither drink nor smoke. I’m weaker in that by opening myself to people I’ve gotten hurt but that’s okay, I’ve found some amazing people along the way too so I can’t be sad. They say Hearts are beautiful with more scars afterall.

I learnt also that Life is fragile. I’ve seen life brought to this world with fanfare and ripped away unceremoniously leaving pain and shattered hope in its wake. But life is also resilient.

“We can’t always hope for sunshine, we must see the beauty in rain”.

Thank you Papa Efe and I’m sorry I was so tardy with this. Have yourselves a wonderful new year in advance, people!

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When I met this pretty retired hermit this year, I could see all the beauty and intelligence just simmering beneath the surface, waiting to burst forth on the world scene. I’m watching you Dolapo. We are all watching you. Much love dear and thank you for writing this for us to see you up close and personal.

Dusk: De Kemi

2012 was a year full of all sorts: the good, the bad, and the abso-f**king-lutely ugly.

Where do I even begin?

Ok. I started my Masters in Marketing this year, wrote two semesters’ exams, and aced all the results I’ve seen so far. Having to wake up earlier than usual on Saturdays is not easy though and spending the whole day in class is just…depressing! I had this lecturer that relocated from the UK as a lecturer at the London School of Economics. He was my best lecturer because he always had corporate and personal stories to back up his points in class. My friends couldn’t stand him because “all na bobo”. Trust me, his stories were interesting and fun, bobo or not.
I guess my like and their dislike respectively translated to our reading patterns and general interest in his courses (they were two). When the results were out, none of the ‘haters’ passed. Imagine passing an exam and you can’t rejoice because the people close to you didn’t. *sigh*

This year, I got my first car that I named Jaja. Don’t ask why biko. And the sweetest part was discovering how brave I am. I never used the ‘L’ sign for learners and drove from Lagos to Akure & back in my third month of driving. *fans self*. You think it’s not a biggie? Well I have friends that have been driving for years and can’t even go to Sagamu to save their own lives.

This year, my eldest sister had a bouncing baby girl. I love her so much even though I’ve not seen her. And the fact that she isn’t my child makes me wonder how some women have the nerve to throw their babies away. *sigh*

This year, my immediate elder sister got her dream job. And she also got married. Her love story gives me hope…that nothing is impossible.
So she got a surprise engagement and the wedding ceremony was within two weeks of the engagement. And yeah, that’s still the best wedding I’ve been to this year. Plus, it was really cool being her chief bride’s maid.

This year, my mum retired after thirty five years of active service, and in good health. I’m very grateful to God.

This year, my dad ‘clocked’ 70. Yay! Pardon me, I don’t know if clock is the right word.

As good as the year has been, I’ve had issues with work and men. My friend, Tinuola, and I have to be the ones with the most man-drama ever. I usually tell people that I have more man-drama than the people in relationships. They usually don’t believe but the ones close to me understand what I’m saying. I met some really good people, I mean men. Some on Twitter and some in ‘real life’. See I’m this person who loves to kiss. I know I can’t endure the pain of being in a relationship with a bad kisser, so I made a promise to myself that I must have kissed someone before we can officially start dating.
Yeah, I know I’m messed up.

Back to my story, as you might have guessed, I did a lot of kissing this year. Mostly with one particular person and due to boredom and other issues, I tried out some others. It was fun though and I broke a record this year, as far as the people around me are concerned. I kissed for straight one and a half hours. Smh. I’ve had some crazy chemistry with different people that fizzled out as fast as it came. Makes me remember a line from Miley Cyrus, ‘it burnt too hard to survive’. Do I have a problem? I don’t think so. Are you wondering why I’m not exclusive with anyone yet? It’s simple but complex.

Another highlight of my year was having a story I wrote published on The Naked Convos. It feels good to know that as rusty as I am, I’m capable of writing something worth sharing with others.

And I decided to do something asides work, so if you’re in Lagos and need original perfumes, you should be talking to me.
I hope 2013 will be a better year. Better relationships, more money, greater career and loads of fun.

Mayan calendar aside, let’s toast to 2013!

Day 28: Sawyerr

Somewhere on earth, in a room which may or may not have a spatial location, a board meeting is taking place.

*The man at the head of the table rises and throws a file on the floor, scattering its contents all over the room*

What is this rubbish? Two thousand plus words for a ‘year in review’ post? Because the owner of the blog’s first name starts with “E” and ends with “e”, you think that’s liberty for you to write an epistle abi? Rabbish!!!

Who even wrote it sef?

*Two individuals raise their hands*

Femi and Sawyerr. I should have known. You think you’re the only ones who lived this year abi?

And Mallam, what were you looking at when this was being written?

I beg your pardon, but I’d rather you did not take that tone of voice with me. It’s been our year collectively and we were all supposed to chip in, not allow these two run amok with the post. If there is anyone who should receive any reproof it should be you Nocturnal, as chairman of this board.

*sigh* This is ridiculous. I guess I’ll have to handle this myself. Y’all can chip in (without being nuisances) if I forget anything. Deal?

*In unison, they all answer* Deal.

***
Good day everyone. It’s such a pleasure to be here again on 19th Street. Can’t believe it’s been a year since I was here last. So much has changed in some areas, while in others not really. Generally though, I learnt a little more about myself this year and did some more growing.

*sips from his glass filled with a dark liquid*

I usually already know what my year’s theme is going to be before it begins. It’s kinda intuitive. This year was different though. I really didn’t know what to expect, so I decided to be open minded about it. Thankfully it paid off, because it was a full year: high points, low points, plateaux; the things that make a year hard to forget. Let’s get into it then, shall we.

LOWS

The year started with me losing my last grandparent (my maternal grandfather) in January, after a battle with illness for a few months. The upside to that was I got to travel to Sapele, for the first time ever, in February for his burial. My mum was grateful that my brother and I could be the support she needed in that period. My dad’s arrival and short stay was a VERY pleasant surprise for everyone, especially my mum.

January also saw me breaking up with my girlfriend, when we finally accepted that the challenge before us was one that we couldn’t surmount even with love. Things were cool initially, up until Valentine’s Day (that was a bright spot), but got worse than either of us wanted. Thankfully, we patched things up not too long after and we’re cool now.

May was my darkest month. As a teacher, nothing in this world can prepare you for the death of a student; especially under the circumstances in which the loss of this one occurred. All I will say is, I knew Bernard Ogilo for almost two years, but his memory will live on with me for a WHILE. Rest in peace aburo, may God continue to comfort your family.

Still in May, it became clear that I wouldn’t be going for a Master’s this year because I couldn’t secure a scholarship, even though I had been offered admission. It hurt initially, because it felt like I was going to waste one year (guys don dey old mehn, nahmsayin?). But it didn’t take too long for logic to DKB me back on track and make me see the opportunity that I’d been given to do my job to the best of my ability for yet another year.

To wrap up the lows, losing over 11GB worth of pictures in February almost made me break down in tears. But hey, they’re simply memories right. The best way to fill such a void is to make new ones. Thankfully, I’ve made a whole lot of those this year.

PLATEAUX

This year started annoying enough with the fuel subsidy removal brouhaha and the attendant farce that was the Occupy Nigeria movement. I am grateful because it allowed me channel my inner cynic and (sadly) be proved correct that nothing significant would come of all the posturizing and unnecessary noise making. Hey, I even did some exercise, with my brother, and walked to Ojota on one of the days. The best thing to come out of it though was that my holiday was extended with light throughout.

In April, my dad moved back home from Abeokuta after six years of living and working there, and coming home rarely. Of course my mum was happy he was back. For the rest of us though, it was kinda bitter sweet. I hardly go out, but let’s just say not needing to explain too much is something I now miss.

HIGHS

In retrospect, I’d say the highpoints could be grouped broadly in two categories; unexpected blessings and weddings.

Unexpected Blessings
I “HULK SMASHED” the TOEFL in March. The best thing about that exam, was that the area I scored the lowest in, in my GRE was the only area I scored a perfect 30 out of 30 in; writing. I felt like Spartacus must have felt after killing Batiatus. *Shouts “CAPUA!!!”*

Also, later in the year I was able to take an online course organised by Coursera and obtain a quiz achievement award. (Y’all should check it out regardless of your field. They’ve got courses for everybody, and the coolest thing is, it’s FREE!!!!!! Go to http://www.coursera.org thank me later) Believe me mehn, I didn’t think I would get it considering how many tests I kinda flunked, but God was merciful.

In June, I fulfilled a desire that had been burning from early in the year to go to Ghana (considering I’d never been outside Nigeria. No, FESTAC and Ajah don’t count, seeing as they’re colonies of Lagos). What made it the coolest was I didn’t pay a dime for the entire trip. I was selected by the primary section at work to replace a colleague from my section because there were already too many females from their end. To put it succinctly, it was ÜBERCOOL.
Can’t talk about professional high points, without talking about the trip to Greensprings School Lekki for the 2012 AISEN Prefects’ Camp with a (really pretty single female) colleague of mine. From the embarrassment on the first day, to the games and dancing on the second day and then the attempts by our students at matchmaking my colleague and I throughout the three days, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and the perfect way to usher us into the midterm holiday week.

I should also mention the fact that in October I was promoted (without any financial benefits o, ehen. I can see some people smiling already) from being only a class teacher to an assistant year tutor position after one of my colleagues changed schools. It’s an increase in responsibility, but at least it shows that my presence is being felt far beyond my lowly designated position. I pray God helps me perform these admin duties (which I kinda hate) the best way I can.

The Ghen Ghen International podcast began recording in August. I won’t go into details as to how I became a member of the team, but I will say it’s been an awesome privilege to work with people as amazing as Panda, Reptile, Walker, Deejay Klem and Luminus. I will forever be grateful. It’s impossible to remember this year without remembering the hilarity that is the average studio session spent recording that show. It’s unbelievable.

I also had the opportunity to feature twice *Activates Keke and D1 accent* on the award winning, world famous, The Sirkastiq Centre blog, *deactivates* during the “Perspectives” series and the “For Uncoloured People” series. It was a wonderful experience to push myself past my comfort zone, and seeing people say they enjoyed both posts made it all worth it. Maybe I’m not such a push over after all. Maybe Dania, Bankole, Saka and Walker haven’t been washing me like I seem to think they have. Sha sha, it feels good to be able to identify with TSC.

*Presses swollen head*

Weddings
Weddings, Weddings, Weddings and MORE weddings. More friends of mine got married this year than in any other year in my entire life. On average, I went for a wedding of a friend like every month of this year. Funny thing about most of my friends that got married this year, they were dating for a while. From PeeGee and Ore who dated officically for almost 3 years, to Toye and Amaka, and Dami and Ayo who dated for 4, to Yinka and her hubby who dated for about 5, to Elemo and Tosin who dated for about 6.

At this point, let me answer all of you who have been asking me when I will marry seeing as I was a groom’s man thrice (the third time I got the complete outfit of suit, shirt, shoes, tie and pocket square FOC. LAU LAU tinz, nahmsayin?), my answer to you is…oh look, a Masseratti.

MISCELLANEOUS
This review would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the fact that I discovered karaoke this year and needless to say, my social life has taken a turn for the better. I still live on Twitter for the most part, but I also go out from time to time.

Speaking of Twitter, I met some AMAZING people yet again this year because of that social network. Makes you wonder where they were all your life. I also kinda got into a situation as well that threatened my job (tongue in cheek), but as with most things of that sort, it’s fun to remember it now and laugh over it. It was indeed a year of cruise.

Aha! Yes, I got my Samsung Galaxy SIII this year as well, heralding my official entry into the “Coo Keeds” strata of cyberspace (looks at Chef Fregz and Obi Somto and smirks). It’s truly a beautiful phone and worth the dent it put in my savings.

I also should add that Christmas On The Streetz organised by two amazing ladies (shout out to Maddy and Ada D Body. Love you darlings!!!) gave me the best Christmas I’ve ever had. There really is nothing like giving of yourself and substance to people who don’t have as much as you do. It is love in one of its purest forms, and it is beautiful.

On a final note, I should add that my spiritual life took a real dip this year. My consciousness of God’s persona and power has not diminished. Neither has my gratefulness for ALL the things I’ve seen Him do in me and for me this year. But, I am nowhere near where I was last year, spiritually. 2013 presents an opportunity for me to fix that, but it will require that I dig VERY deep. I do know though, that God is waiting for me to do so, and that reassurance does help.

I will stop here. I’m sorry it isn’t as short as I would have liked, but hey, you stayed till the end. So, thank you for reading. And thank you once again, Efe, for this opportunity. Till we meet again, I am Nocturnal, and on behalf of everybody on The Board that makes up Oluwafemi Sawyerr’s consciousness, I say…may we all live to see 2013 and experience it to the FULLEST.

Cheers!!!

*drains his glass and teleports*

*Background voices suddenly become clearer*

See that imbecile. Didn’t he use almost two thousand words just now too.

You dey mind am. And he didn’t even mention Mallam Memes. Rabbish and neinsense. Tueh!

Wo, let us be going o jare. Issokay.

*Everybody teleports*

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I finished this with a smile on my face and a shake of my head. Guys, this is the second perfect English article in this series. The challenge is up for anyone to find grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in it (tongue in cheek).

One really subtle lesson on here is the power of self-improvement. No matter what it is, the opportunity to travel, write tests (even if they ain’t compulsory), do online courses, participate in writing for an audience and collaborate on a radio show are golden nuggets in any personal safe. Mallam I hope all these are in your resume. We celebrate your 2012 and your other years in advance. Thank you very much.

Day 27: Okaima

This year was my year of learning. The lessons I learned have tattooed themselves to my being and I doubt I will be forgetting any in a hurry.

Nothing stays hidden or buried forever. You think you have perfected the art of running from shit but on the day shit decides to pursue you? Ah!! Ozeba! I had kept so much in. Shit happened and I looked the other way, dusted my bum and moved on. It is not really moving on until you have dealt with it. The littlest and randomest things open the biggest can of worms and you are left trying to breathe. Do you have an outlet? Do you have something you do to take the edge off when shit gets real? I had no outlet. I find it hard to shout, or cry or talk to people. Writing helped to an extent but at a point I could not even still my thoughts long enough to write. Inside I was all tangled up like earphones in a trouser pocket. On the outside I remained the life of the party of course. Before I discovered jogging and handball, I developed an unhealthy relationship with my blade. Do you have an outlet?

People are responsible for people’s actions. It has nothing to do with you. Saying “you pissed me off and so it is your fault I hit you” is the stinkiest lie. You are only responsible for what you do, everything outside that is not on you. The eight year old I was did not look or act a certain way; that was not why I was selected to be defiled out of all my sisters. The nineteen year old I was did not hug or laugh in a way that suggested that I was down with the idea of being raped. 

Not my fault.

It was not my fault.

I say this every morning and one day I will believe it. Take the blame that’s yours and leave the rest. Please leave it. Or you can just be selfish and take no blame; that works too.

You guys, who loves you loves you. Irrespective of, because of, inspite of and any other phrase you can think about. Who loves you loves you and whatever skeleton you think you have and you need to hide makes no difference because those that really do love you will love you. I do not know if I am making any sense. The second part to this is that being loved is not like getting picked to be head girl. You do not have to be on your best behavior. Being on your best behavior and forgetting your voice and giving him sex whenever he asks for it and letting him hang your leg on the fan or window sill or whatever bloody position he wants is not a guarantee that he will stay. Who loves you loves you even in the absence of all that.

I spent a better part of this year scouting for “real niggaz” on my team. I found them; I have them, always have. It was not enough. You know why? I did not have the most important team mate.

Myself.

Having the entire LWKMD twitter voltroning for you does not mean shit if you do not have your own back. The cheer of others does not stop the second guessing and low self esteem if you do not even believe in you enough to love yourself. It is important, very important. You have to have your back. Not loving yourself also feeds you dirt and you do not have a problem with it because you are convinced you deserve it. Nobody, not even family can love you like you.    

Depression is bad. I do not have guide lines on how to overcome it. Do you have? Can you share? Darkness of the night has nothing on the darkness depression brings. The mornings it felt like ropes tied me to my bed and I was injected with bolus doses of worthlessness. Depression is bad.

At this point I will like to give a shalla to all the people whose DMs (direct messages) I invaded. The ones that gave the much needed smiles and verification I thought I needed from strangers, God bless you. Some of you are family now. The ones that gave me EOL (Ela of life), God bless you too. That stuff is character building. In learning to love myself I realize why I dealt so badly with being alone. With so much self-loathing, I was the last person I wanted to be alone with.

I lost love this year (maybe it was never love) and after all the blaming and saying what he did and did not do, I go to bed at night and hold my pillow while the truth holds my eyelids apart like toothpicks. Asking somebody else to love me when I do not love myself is just unfair. It is not possible. Yes, they may love you and make you feel good about yourself for a while but one day they will not be able to. Not because they do not care enough but because they are human too. At this point you realise you are unable feel good all by yourself. It is like suddenly withholding cocaine from an addict. Like you, be comfortable in your skin, love you.

Forgiveness is not by force (Efe I can feel your protest). It is good and biblical but it is not by force. You are very much allowed to disagree. I am not preaching unforgiveness but you don’t mess up “lifetime mess up” and throw scriptures in my face. God will punish you ok? The right to be angry is mine, the right to not want to see you is mine, the right to use your picture as a dart board on my wardrobe is mine. When I am good and ready, I will let go. Forgiving is delicate guys, forcing someone to forgive when she is not even ready to face the silhouettes that make up her nightmares can go wrong in so many ways.

God bless my mother. If one day I am half the mother she is, my children will be more than lucky. For the 1am calls, for the times she snuck into my room while I pretended to sleep and she sat at the edge of my bed and prayed for me, for all the extra favours and extra money and food, for always reminding me that I will find my own song, for the times she held me while I cried and spoke to me in Ishan that I barely understood but my soul heard her, for making me know it is alright to fail an exam. “Happy and alive Okaima is more important than doctor and unhappy or dead Okaima” These words I will never forget. I also appreciate her for apologising and showing me that parents are human beings too. We often put them on really high pedestals and we forget that they are just as human. I think I really started loving my mother the day I realized she has flaws and she does not know everything. I saw her differently.

I read two books that made so huge a difference to me in the last quarter of this year. The book of Job (in the Bible. It is a book abi?) And I know why caged birds sing by maya angelou. Job was my nigga in depression, that dude had it bad. I read of his wahala and wondered why I was crying. The book has the most beautiful quotes and I could feel and identify with everything he was going through. Then at the end there was rest. I got the second book because I liked the title, I wanted to know why too, I expected some deep far reaching answer but the answer is really so simple. Caged birds sing because they can. The cage does not change the fact that they can sing. So they sing of the cage and of freedom and whatever the hell there is to sing about. They just sing. I read this and something changed.

I learned acceptance this year. It is something you never actually finish learning. Somedays I wake up and learn to accept all over again. Somethings you cannot control, somethings you cannot understand, you just leave them. It does not have to make sense. A young man getting high on a fine sunday afternoon, losing control of his car and killing eight people does not make sense. That twenty-three year old Amaka who rounded up a twenty day fast that day and still died in that accident made no sense. She had been praying for twenty days, should that not count for something? . That nineteen year old Racheal went to Asaba to attend her cousin Amaka’s funeral and met death on her way back made no sense. Afro’s crime was liking the wrong girl, he got one in the head and two in the chest ten days before the start of his final exams for that. That’s all it takes in my school. I asked questions, lots of them. I got no answers. People had died before but this year, it was different. This questions almost tipped me over then I realised there are no answers. It will never make sense. It just is. Somehow we have to deal. Somehow. It will never make sense. I do not know where souls go after but I hope they know we remember them. We do.
   
This year has been hard but not bad. In the midst of the pain there was laughter. The unexpected kind. The best. On days when there is nothing to smile about and Edwin starts with his gist or Efe says something old-papa youngish like “keep calm and blow kisses”. I learned. I grew. I sleep now (without abusing drugs), the reccurring dream that woke me by 3am for as long as I can remember is history now. I dreamt it one last time in November, that time I was not running. I sat on the floor with the child and we talked. I told her I was sorry I never let her be, I apologized for everything I could think about and I woke up crying and realized that that was me. I had been the one chasing myself all this time. The child was me.
   
I do not have to wake anybody up to follow me to pee at night, I do not lock myself in for days, I eat (or I try to), I talk to my friends, I do not panic when power goes out at night, I do not feel hands running up my thighs in the middle of the night anymore, I laugh now (Fejiro my bestie says my eyes aren’t sad anymore), I have remembered how to dance, I get angry now and shout and tell my offenders the different ways they need to f**k themselves, I say No to people. Guilt free No, without explanation. Just No. And I do not start having palpitations worrying over who I offended. 

Baby steps. One day I will be able to look at myself naked in the mirror without turning away, I will be able to go and swim with Fejiro.

Baby steps, I know everything good will come. Hang in there ok? Just grab on to something and hold on as tight as you can because even as 2012 has come to an end whatever it is you are going through will come to an end one day.

I thank God for my family and friends, for TNC and 19th Street, for twitter, for music; For Kendrick, Pink, The Weekend, Lana, Kanye (of old), J. Cole, Nas and Eminem. For Kendrick again.

I may not really know who I am yet but you guys I know what I want. That is so important to me. For the first time, I know what I want and that is really all. I am looking forward to the New Year. It is like I got new shoes and I can not wait to step out and make koi koi everywhere. I hope nobody has left banana peel outside my door.

And wait! This one is important. Do you know why this year did not end on the 21st? It is because Eminem is to release a new album next year!!!!!!!!! 

That is all, I am sorry this is so lengthy!

Happy new year in advance guys.

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Honestly guys, Okaima is like a daughter to me. It is true. “Who loves you loves you.” Much love to you. Baby steps…

Tomorrow, we will watch Mr Sawyerr take the podium and give his 2012 speech. See you  🙂