Thursday, 20 July 2017

Class of 2017; Learn to say I don't know


Hello Class of 2017.
I hope you are excited and happy to be a Graduate? I was when I graduated but in addition to being happy and excited, I kept asking myself: What next? What am I to do now? I had Questions and doubts and worries especially as a Nigerian. I kept asking myself am I going to join the bandwagon of unemployed graduate? If not, What am I to do?
Graduation meant that am now a real Adult and when I mean Adulthood, I mean it metaphorically; not just by age but Responsibility. Graduation meant that you've passed through the fore walls of the University. The Igbo word for University is Mahadum which literally translates to 'knowing it all' and I trust you must have acquired alot of skills but I don't expect you to know everything. I don't know everything either.
Maybe some of you are worried as I was, maybe some of you are worried about getting a job and not just any job but a desired job. You should be worried, being worried means that you care that it matter to you. As you graduate today (or before now) I urge you to think about what matter to you, think about what you want to matter to you.
This is that time when you will be told by family and friends to go and do Big thing, go and change the World. It's not a bad thing to do though but let the idea of 'big thing' be yours and nobody else. Something Big to you might be small to somebody else but that somebody else does not matter but as you define for your self what 'Big thing' is I urge you to learn to criticise yourself. Self preservation is a natural mechanism but self criticism might seem unnatural and difficult but you must try to always critcise yourself. You must be willing to be wrong, you must be willing to say I DON'T KNOW. To admit to lack of knowledge is to me a sign of immense strength rather than weakness. The ability for self criticism is a product of a beautiful kind of honesty. It's an acknowledgement that there is no such thing as perfection.
I also want you to define Success for yourself and I mean this within reasonable limit; don't praise yourself for getting an  F in a course and say that's your own definition of Success. Learn always to say your truth because our time on Earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest self, each moment that we pretend to be what we are not, each moment when we say something that we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say then it's a waste of time.
While growing up in Nigeria, I was raised to frown at teenage pregnancy and pregnant teenagers who are not married until I started asking myself Questions, pregnancy takes the effort of both a male and female. What about the man that got them pregnant I would ask myself. So I unlearned that inhumane idea years ago. I want you to be Humane, be Human, be kind, always recognise the 'human presence' in other people. They are not just human beings but they are emotional beings with dreams so before you pass judgement, try and understand. Before you form an opinion, listen and listen again.
Eat good food and drink alot of water. Don't twist yourself into shapes to gain Likeability, the world is a glorious multifaceted diverse place and there are people that love you just the way you are. That natural version of you that doesn't hold back anything.
I wish you a life full of joy and fulfilment. Enjoy.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Gender issues in Africa.

Ogbenyealu; The Capitalist Igbo.
Actually the Igbos were the first indigenous capitalist tribe in Africa. It has been our culture even before the Arrival of the 'colonial masters'. Ogbenyealu is a female name that translates to 'Never to be married by a poor man'; putting a price tag on a child @ birth is a pure capitalist choice and in a way sexist. What else is Capitalism?  We have different systems of oppression and all are built around gender. Gender is a problem because of sexism and gender is the foundation of every systems of oppression.
I was about 9 years old when my younger sister Obiageliaku was born, three months later she was baptised in a Catholic Church and after her baptism well wishers prayed for her to grow into a beautiful woman and for good suitors to locate her when the time is ripe! I was slightly startled, for heaven sake she's but a child and if she were to be a boy, good health & prosperity would have been the prayers of well wishers and of course not a good wife. I noticed the problem of gender at a very young age by observing the world in the way it treats women for the sole purpose that they're females. So my sister grew up into a girl who lived her life always keeping in mind that marriage is the ultimate as such she automatically inherited some marital books with funny title from my mother, books with title like 'How to deal with a nagging husband' 'The Virtuous Woman' and the list goes on. This is the typical case for girls in Africa.
So I stumbled upon this picture online.
A culture in Ethiopia where women begged to be flogged in an effort to prove their love for men; it was then it dawned on me that gender as a system of oppression is still predominant in Africa. For things to change, we have to start raising our girls and boys differently.
We teach girls compromise in Relationships; give up your dream; Quit your job so that you can take care of your family. We teach girls self reduction and self sacrifice as the only way of showing/increasing their worth in life; 'I gave up my job in an oil company just to show my love for my husband' and I think this is the dumbest idea we give to females. Stay down and keep yourself down and you will be rewarded with a cookie. If you're the breadwinner in your family, pretend not to be. Never show that you're more intelligent than a man otherwise you'll threaten the man and this has got me thinking, why should a man feel threaten by a woman's success? Girls eventually grow up into women who have turned pretense into an Art form and this is the worst thing we do to girls. We do a great disservice to girl, gender as it functions in Africa (and this cuts across other continents) is  a grieve injustice to both boys and girls. I am angry, we should all be angry towards gender issues because anger has a long history of restoring peoples dignity.
What if we raise our children differently, what if we teach them that compromise is something that is supposed to be associated with both gender. What if we teach them to love by giving and taking?
To all the girls; love by 'giving' & 'taking', and when you're are giving too much than you are receiving you will know. Dare to speak.
Next post will be about Marriage. Is Marriage a thing of ownership or partnership? Is it an Achievement? Drop your comments or send them to my email address: intrepidjayson@gmail.com
Daalu.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Rapist & the Rape Apologists.

About 6 years ago in one of Nigeria's campuses, a young girl was raped by four boys in a room and there was outrage online but I was surprised at some of the comments made by young Nigerians (both girls and boys) concerning the Rape. Comments that would sum up to;
●Yes Rape is bad but what is a girl doing in a room with 4 guys?
●Why didn't she scream?
●Am sure she wasn't decently dressed. She tempted them!
Now I want you to see the inhumanity in these statements and the gravity of its contents.
People tend to occupy the World in the way they socialise to it. In Africa young people are taught to always blame girls (rape victims) for the Rape. While I was in secondary school, my teachers taught us to always cover our nakedness 'properly' so that we won't seduce men and avoid the risk of being rape victims. I really found this alarming as it contradicts some of the knowledge I have about Africa; Black women were known to be expose their bodies and were never ashamed and most importantly there was never any case of Rape. We teach girls shame! Cover your legs and we  make mistakes of always linking morality to dressing. In the process we raise girls who see themselves as sexual-prey who must tend to the fragile ego of men and create space for men to be monsters and sexual-predators. But the truth be told;
● Men are not Monsters.
●Women are not sexual-prey.
Rape is not a spontaneous action, it is a premeditated act of wickedness and as such rapist should be punished. Men should know that 'No' is a No and no matter what circumstances,whether the victim is drunk,drugged, or sober her opinion must be respected. Being a Rape victim comes with stigma and trauma and a struggle to overcome both and move on with life. It's an injury to one's dignity and the after effects can be devastating.
Most Rape Apologists often think that being a rape victim will make one morally strong and perhaps dress 'properly' to prevent future occurrences but victimhood is not a virtue. They always give excuse for men to be sexual-predators but thank God for civilisation:for the sole purpose of civilisation is learning, unlearning and relearning. We have to unlearn some of the false ideas we have about rape and to learn that rape is not an involuntary action (like blinking of eyes,in that sense we can relearn good ideas and tackle rape cases seriously. If a married man rapes his wife, he his guilty of Rape and we shouldn't in anyway try to be apologetic about the issue and waving it off with comments like;
● Afterall he paid for it.
●She's supposed to be submissive...and all manner of silly statements.
Rape is Rape and we Africans must treat it like it is.
Daalu.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Inspiration of the day from Facebook


This picture was posted by Dr Kingsley Ugbaorji of the department of Applied Biochemistry, NnamdiAzikiwe University Awka. The disabled guy is one of his students and use alms from begging to fund his school fee and means of livelihood. You really don't have any excuse not to pursue your dreams.



Monday, 27 February 2017

South Africa's Xenophobic attack and the Ghana -must -go case


Ghana-must-go bag is a locally made bag in Nigeria with different sizes and colours and capacity. It is used mostly for interstates travelling and moving of goods and foodstuffs. When I was quite young, the name 'Ghana-must-go' fascinated me because a sack bag was named after a country and I was tempted to assume that the bags were either made in Ghana or the manufacturer is a Ghanian. Whichever, I was interested in knowing the inspiration behind the name so I asked my parents about it. They laughed heartily to my question and told me how Nigerians matched against Ghanians in Nigeria during Maj.Gen Buhari Regime and it was in a way instigated by the then military head of state. 'It wasn't a violent match' my father was quick to add, we just wanted them to go back to their country and develop their economy and it worked peacefully. Majority of the illegal immigrants moved back to Ghana with sack bags that we later named 'Ghana-must-go' and it's the name till date.
The Igbos call it Obodoyibo but in English language it can be referred to as 'abroad'.Abroad is a name we give to some Western countries that offers many opportunities, has a good economy and low cost of living. America for example is 'abroad'; the first time my Aunty travelled to the UK, she called us with excitement in her voice to inform us that finally she's in 'abroad'. Every family in Nigeria will like to boast about their relatives abroad; I have an uncle that lives abroad, my cousins are all in obodoyibo and so on but 'abroad' can not be anywhere, especially not just any  African country, it must meet our standards and South Africa is the only African country that has met our qualifications so far. So Ghana is Ghana and South Africa is 'abroad' and one needs  visa, international passport and flight ticket to get there. Statistics has shown that a handful of Nigerians live in South Africa for obvious reasons; Schooling, good economy, infrastructure, their minimum wage is about $260 and ours is $60.
About two years ago a Xenophobic attack was launched by South Africans against Nigerians and other African immigrants in South Africa which took the lives of about eight people because they think the foreigners are siphoning their businesses and source of livelihood. My father was angry about the attack so as were other Nigerians because it wasn't the first, I think the first was in 2008 which claimed the lives of 60 people. My father took it personal, it was as if the attack was against his dignity, his soul and spirit. He felt wounded and betrayed, he told me stories of the Apartheid and how they (himself and other well meaning Nigerians) boycotted lectures and fight against the Apartheid and how they celebrated the release of Nelson Mandela. 'It was like our own fight' he said and in many ways we have come to see South Africans as our own brothers. In a fist of revenge, he broke his MTN simcard, called our relatives and told them to boycott Shoprite and DSTV and any other south african investments in Nigeria. All these he did out of mild irritation and anger; ofcourse anger has a long history of restoring dignity and setting things right and the xenophobic attack subsided and reduced until about three weeks ago.
My SA based friend called me to inform that there was another Xenophobic attack in Johannesburg, SA. The victims were alleged to be drug dealers, human traffickers and bad people but all the victims were Nigerians and this made it troubling to me. Why only Nigerians? And there was outrage online between the two countries and I was surprised how most people (SA citizens & even some Nigerians based in SA)supported the attack. I was surprised how people believed that jungle justice is the best way to deal with crime. Let's assume that the victims were guilty of the alleged crimes but Victimhood is not a Virtue and treating them badly will not in any way curb out crimes rather it will leave a wound on their dignity.
I was arguing with someone online about the attack and he was quick to pointout the Nigeria's Ghana-must-go case and it has never occurred to me that there's is a relationship between these two occurrences. In many ways the Ghana-must-go case was more of an awareness than an attack, It wasn't a Xenophobic attack and nobody's life was endangered during the march. There's still a good relationship between Nigeria and Ghana, my hair dresser here in Nigeria is a Ghanian. I want our SA brothers to apologise for the attack and to know that every Nigerian is not a drug dealer and even if there's then such individual should be reported to the SA Drug and law enforcement agencies like we have here in Nigeria. I want them to 'love' and not just any love but the Igbo translation of 'Ifunanya' which is 'to see'. I want them 'to see' that dignity is as important as food and Victimhood is not a Virtue, to also know that jungle justice is not justice at all.
There will always be this collaboration between Nigeria and South Africa, and most recently Big Brother Nigeria (a Nigeria reality show) is being shot in South Africa. In many ways we still see SA as 'abroad' and I can't count the number of Shoprites in Lagos alone and the number of Nigerians that subscribe monthly to DSTV, not to mention the millions of Nigerians that use MTN sim and buy costly data to access the Internet and am one of them. We should start 'to see' the brotherhood and the more we collaborate, the better it will be for Africa.
Daalu.


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Vote Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie as New York City's one Book.


It was in 2013 that I first came across the book ' Americanah '. I read the review online and the author is one of my favourites so it was easy for me to rush down to the palms mall in Victoria Island, Lagos to get my first copy. Yes my first copy, I gave my first copy, after reading it I gave it to my mother who  ' stole ' it and refused to give it back. It was indeed a wonderful book that I could relate with so I bought a second copy. For me it was one of the best books I read in 2013 & mid 2014, it was about Love ,race, hair and diaspora identity.
Let me give you a quick swipe of the book; Ifemelu is a young girl in Nigeria who fell in love with her secondary school sweetheart Obinze. They both gained admission into the same university before she left Nigeria for America. As against the conventional idea that african immigrants are always running away from poverty, disease and lack in their home country, this wasn't Ifemelu's case. She wanted more options and choices, she love constant electricity and fast Internet  and these things were handy in America. It was in America that she discovered her 'Black' identity, in her home country she never get to worry about race and being Black because there was no need to. Although there were other identity markers in her country like religion, tribe and region but in America should wasn't identified as a Christian or Igbo or a southerner but as a black girl. She later came to accept her new African identity even though she knows nothing about Lesotho or Namibia and the baggage that comes with Being Black. She tried to fight against that 'Americanah'  identity that is associated with Nigerian immigrants in America.  She discovered that hair is political in America.
Obinze on the other hand tried getting an American visa but was denied and he later went to England as an Illegal immigrant and was deported after a few years. In Nigeria he became successful and Rich. Ifemelu returned to Nigeria after 15years to meet Obinze who is already married...go get the book joor if you haven't read it!
Now I want us to vote Americanah as New York City's one. Just follow the link below and vote;
http://www1.nyc.gov/site/mome/initiatives/1book1ny.page
Please do it now for the love of jollof rice and also for the love of books and the people that make them.
Daalu.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Ifunanya; the plague of an African child.


Our house is a fairly big duplex on a wide Acre so it was easy for my parents to always accommodate my relatives for holidays and sometimes unplanned visits. On one of these occasions my cousin Agbonma visited us for the first time and she spent almost two weeks with my family. Agbonma is a very hardworking girl and sometimes she would do the chores meant for me and my siblings as if in a way she's trying to pay us for our room she shared or to compensate us for the food she ate daily. Her English were not feathery like mine but her Igbo was more fluent than mine and she speaks it like one of the early people. It was as if she owned the language and I would often tease her about exchanging my English and French for her fluent Igbo Language. A day before she left, she called me and my siblings and told us that she noticed we don't have 'respect' for our parents; in the way we say 'good morning dad' instead of good morning sir, the way we say 'yes mummy' instead of ma or yes ma and the way we chat and argue with our parents as if there are our mates and all these she said with pitiful nods. 'Biko have small fear for your parents' she said and later myself and my siblings would laugh over the whole thing. I didn't see any sense in what Agbonma said until few years later when I started visiting friends and I noticed that most parent-child relationships were built on 'fear'.
The anecdote above is not an ode to my parents for 'good parenting' but it's a discovery and realisation of what it means to be a child in an African home. Agbonma was a product of a typical Nigerian home and in many ways I have come to realise that my early childhood can be regarded as ideal but Agbonma's own is close to the reality. Most parents teach their children fear instead of respect and so children grew up to fear their parents instead of respecting them.My friend Kamsi has a wealthy father but when it was time for him to go to secondary school his father sent him to an substandard secondary school in a remote village so he had to trek hundreds of miles to get to school. His father has this conventional idea( also common with other parents ) that for a child to be Successful he has to undergo stress and must not feel comfortable in his father's wealth otherwise the child will become lazy and spoilt the same way children were forbidden to eat meat & egg in the olden days because they believe that the child will develop sweet tooth one day and start stealing. But all these are fallacies and it really baffles me because I believe children needs more meat and fish and eggs more than Adults because they are growing. A child needs love and care and we shouldn't think that in a way if we deprive them of love and care they will become somehow strong, it doesn't work like that. Allow your children to
call you mummy and daddy or papa and mama but not 'sir' or 'ma' because they are not your employees; they are your children.
Treat children like they are children and please don't deprive them of their childhood, it only comes once in a lifetime. Don't pretend that someone they are Adults because they are not. Listen to Children's Opinion always because they are alot more perceptive and intelligent than we give them credit for. If you give a child rice and he refuses to eat give him beans and if he refuses the beans and asked for sugar, put a cube of sugar in his tea but don't give him a packet of sugar. The logic here is that you have to listen to Children's Opinion and guide them in decision making because they will often fail in making good decision but you have to guide them. Educate them about sex from a very young age and don't say that you're not ready to 'corrupt' their innocent minds because it will surprise you the little they already know about their sexuality. Be the one to answer their curiosity Questions and don't wait for them to learn it formally in school or in television or from neighbours because in the process while you wait they might be misled into negative vices. Call the sexual organs their name and don't give them slang name just the way my little nephew was referring to his pennis as 'pipi' or 'thing'. Don't call vagina 'ike', it's not ike and calling it ike will make a child confused and she starts calling her vagina and her buttocks 'ike'. Ike is an Igbo word for buttocks not vagina.Teach both males and females that they are sexual beings and so they would one day grow up to have sexual feelings because they are not woods.
Ifunanya is the Igbo word for Love and it's literal translation is 'to see'. We have to start loving in the Igbo way; we have to start seeing and for you to see properly you have to take off every 'glass' of privilege from your eyes. My white friend Kyle once told me that the plague of every African child was Love; he said the African parents hardly say 'I love you' to their children and I will always disagree with him. Oh yes African parents don't 'love' in a superficial way by saying 'I love you' but they do so in action, they 'see' to our needs and the last time my parents told me they love me was two weeks ago when they called me and said 'we just got you a new laptop'. In those words all I see is Ifunanya.
Daalu.




Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Reason for the cancelled Tuface's planned protest.


My parents are civil servants so they have had the opportunity to embark on many solidarity protests when there is a delay in salaries or bad working conditions. The 5 years old me would always mistake the solidarity song as ' soaking garri is forever! !!We must always fight for our rights '. Its a wonderful prospect for the 5 years old me to watch my parents sing and dance with placards to Government offices to discuss their unpaid Salaries. My parents were sometimes victims of violence from police and other security agents but they never stopped because protest has a long history of bringing justice and solving social issues.
Few weeks ago one of Nigeria's famous musicians Tuface Idibia ( 2baba ) announced a Nation wide protest against the Federal government because of high cost of living, bad economy and other mishaps in the Country. He was criticised by Academics and was even threatened by the Police and other Security Agencies. Despise the threats, he announced the Meet up Venues and dress code for the Protest. The date of the protest was shifted from 5th February to 6th February. Many people argued that the protest was politically induced but I see it as an amazing step for Nigerians to come out en mass to protest against something that they felt is not good enough. I woke up this morning only to discover that 2baba has cancelled the planned protest and in his own words he said ' Dear Nigerians! Due to security concerns and public  I hereby announce the cancellation of the planned March '. I was disappointed because I wanted to see people fight for a common goal.
Last year in University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria a Final year student who was the President of his faculty was killed in a protest by a DSS member. Himself and other students were protesting against the law that says that the students must pay all their fees before writing any exams. The students wanted more time to make payment but the school authorities were quick to call the police and other security agents and students were injured  and a student was killed in the process and all these happened in the school's campus. The student that was killed has paid his own school fee but decided to stand with other students to fight for a common goal. I sometimes wonder what is a University without students?
About 3 years ago in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, the Student Union president otherwise known as SUG President protested against the cost of transportation within the school premises. He wanted the price to be reduced to #20 which is fairly affordable and he also protest against the School Authority concerning unnecessary levies that students pay for. He organised a peaceful protest and he was rusticated from the University. Noble Eyisi is from a privileged family, his mother is a professor and he can afford to pay for transport fares and pretend that all is well  but he refused to pretend.
It is one thing to feel something emotionally and it's another thing to engage ones intellect in making conclusions and about the cancelled protest, I was devastated and emotionally exhausted. I couldn't find any space for humour and laughter. I wanted more, I wanted to see people fight a good fight and in a more matured way. 2baba cancelled the protest because he felt that peoples lives would be endangered and he's right about that. The Nigeria Police are not well trained to handle protests incase it turns into a riot; of course they don't have rubber bullets and water guns all they know is 'kill 5 individuals and the rest will run for cover'. The same way they brutalised students of Uniport last week in a recent protest,  the same way they killed IPOB members from time to time and the last one in Port Harcourt left me disappointed in the Police Force. Now security and safety is now a luxury only the Elites can afford. What a Country?
Recently people of the United States of America came out en mass to protest against some of President Trumps new laws and I watched the March and I all I see was a group of people fighting for a common goal. I didn't see it as a politically induced protest. Although 2baba cancelled the protest he organised,  Nigerians are not ready to settle for less this time around and many people have taken the protest personal. The protest still holds.
 Am now an Adult and I can sing the solidarity song perfectly well & it goes like this;
Solidarity Forever!
Solidarity Forever!
Solidarity Forever!
We must always fight for our Rights.
Daalu.


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A Tribute to Buchi Emecheta; N'odu na Ndokwa.


It's a Tradition in Igbo culture for a Man to kill a goat or a Cow ( according to his financial capacity ) in Celebration of his Wife if she gives birth to male children three consecutive times. My Mother had 5 sons consecutively but she didn't get a piece of beef from my father maybe because they are Christians and decided to ignore the Omenala of our Land. Now am not interested in fighting Christianity for depriving my mother a good celebration because she had sons but am more interested in talking about a Culture that only celebrates Women only when they give birth to male children three consecutive times. What a Culture?
Late last year in one of Nigeria's biggest denominations, a couple came up to give a testimony of how God proved himself in their home . The wife when she was pregnant went for a Scan and the result and the result showed that she will be expecting a baby girl but God proved the scan wrong by giving them a baby boy after much prayers. Praise the Lord! And it was 'Hallelujah' in the church. If they had a baby girl, I don't think they would have come out for a Testimony. Now I often make the Mistake of thinking that issues that are Obvious to me are as Obvious to other people but Assumptions are costly. If my mother had 5 daughters consecutively, she wouldn't get a goat but she would be very worried about having a son; someone that will carry one the family name. I told these stories for us to see the function of Gender in our society and this cut across borders and this makes girls grow up to think that some how being females they are guilty of something. This is Gender Stereotype in African Culture.
The first time I saw the word feminist was few year ago when I was reading one of Buchi Emecheta's book. I was about 13 or 14 and I was quick to check out the word in the dictionary. I was already a Feminist then but I never knew the exact word to call myself. Buchi Emecheta was not an exemption of gender Stereotype; she had her first dosage when she was barely 8years. Her father refused to train her in school but prefer to train his brother but Buchi convinced him and later went to school. She finished her secondary and later joined her husband in London where she got her first degree and became a single mother. Her books were centered on female strength and she wrote against the discrimination of women and what it means to be a Single mother but the amazing part is that Buchi Emecheta refused to be called a Feminist.
Gender as it functions today is a great injustice to both genders. Although am in a process of unlearning some of the wrong ideas about gender that I have internalised while growing up but I still feel guilty in the face of gender expectations. If you are a man it's easy to tint your eccentricity with untidiness or a full grown beards but not feminism; it comes with lots of baggage and so it's hard to wrap oneself with feminism (for both gender). My friend Eberendu is a Jehovah Witness and she will always put up arguments to prove to me that her 'religion' doesn’t fall under Christianity but if she's to fill in forms she will always tick Christianity as her religion and this has made me not to see Eberendu as a 'hypocrite' but someone that's afraid of accepting the full gravity that comes with whatever Idea they stand for. From Eberendu's case I could relate very well to Buchi Emecheta's case; not accepting to be called a Feminist. You hate Men? You're angry? And Fela will use the word 'You be Ladi'. It's comes with too many baggage but that doesn't mean that Buchi wasn't a Feminist and she didn't decide to advocate for women because of her first hand experience of gender Stereotype; she have the option to smile over things and pretend that all is well but she decided to write because Women mattered to her.

Feminism is not a bad thing and please it's not a luxury for Elites and Rich people. Feminism should be an all inclusive party and not an Elite party with esoteric rights of membership. I didn't discover my own feminism from reading western books, I discovered it from observing the world and the way it treats women. I learned about feminism from watching women struggle and knowing that the World will not always extent to women many of those small courtesy it does to men.
Onyebuchi is an Igbo name and it tranlates to a Rhetoric Question 'who is God?' I often ask myself this question and I also ask people 'Are you God ' to say that the full Humanity of the female gender is not our culture? If it's not then we should make it our culture.
Buchi Emecheta died on Wednesday 25th of January 2017 and she would always be remembered for her works and the lives she touched while on earth. She was indeed a Feminist and she will always be remembered by those that love her.
To Buchi Emecheta; N'odu na Ndokwa.



Saturday, 28 January 2017

Education is a Streamliner.


Mr Nwosu is a character from my primary 2 reader.Mr Nwosu is a trader who lives in Onitsha with his wife and two daughters. Every Christmas he comes home with 2 big Chicken and Chicken Stew was a great deal for the 7years old me so I decided that I will be a Trader in the Future. I told my parents about it but they dismissed it without any thought and much laughter. God forbid! None of my Child will ever be a Trader.  I was disappointed because I wanted them to say something but I was young and naive so it was easy for them to dismiss the conversation without any Argument. Two years later I read about Mr Saba in my primary 4 Reader; Mr Saba is a Farmer who grows yam, beans and Maize among many other crops. I love watching plants grow so I decided that I must be a Farmer but am not going to tell my parents about my new found ambition. Now I already know the difference between professional and unprofessional Courses and the prestige that comes with having a University degree .Years later when I was applying for Universities in Nigeria I told my parents that I wanted to study Agriculture Economic and the first Question my parents asked was ' Those people dey work for oil company? '. So if you must go to University, the first priority is getting a Job in an Oil Company. I later gained Admission into one of Nigeria's prestigious Federal University to study Chemical Engineering after which I graduated and joined the League of Unemployed Graduates.
The Anecdote above is not to tell you about my discovery of the damage 'Education' has done in our society but if not for Anything it should be an Ode to Children's Opinion in Africa. Education can be a very wonderful tool but it depends on 'What kind of Education? '. Education as it functions today in Nigeria is a Streamliner. There's this idea that everyone must study to be an Academic or for one to be Successful you must go to University after which your priority is getting a Job in an Oil Company.  Education streamlines people into one thing and there is no diversity. The idea of Students absorbing Materials and spitting it back to the Lecturer to get an A is not proper Education. Over the years people have argued about the decay in the standard of Education in Nigeria and many people agreed that it's due to the bad learning conditions, less pay of Academics and poor working conditions but I think the Curriculum for teaching matters alot and the curriculum in Nigeria is very Rigid and inflexible so there is no room for ICT or any changes. There should be a Change in the definition of the Word ' Education ' and this is what we should do; we have to start a correction from our foundation which is the kindergarten. We should Listen to Children and not to pretend like they are Adults because they are not. Listen to Children's Opinion always because they are alot more perceptive and intelligent than we give them Credit for. And the idea that everyone must study to be an Academic should be eradicated.
Children are not allowed to have Opinions! If you have Opinions then you are Rude. As a child you're not expected to ask your Teacher Questions, it doesn't tell well of you. If you must ask Questions in Class  it should be easy if not it's a take-home assignment for the Class. If you're in Undergrad school, don't ask your lecturers Questions and please don't think aside the box just absorb Materials and Spit it back to the Lecturer words for words and get your A. This is one of the silly idea behind Learning in Nigeria. It shouldn't be so.
What if we have different centres that specialises in agriculture or ICT or Trade and Commerce where people can go and learn to become what they want to be? But there's a flaw because those places will be considered less prestigious and students would prefer to go to University than Agricultural learning centres.
What if my parents were more perceptive and listened to my opinion about becoming a Farmer, I would have been a better me.
What if my parents were not product of a Society that values University degree more than Ability?
The Igbo word for University is Mahadum which translates into ' knowing it all '. My fore fathers called it Mahadum for good reasons and I think the Education system in Nigeria has failed my fore fathers definition of a University. We could make changes and here is how we should go about it; Teachers should listen to their pupils and students in all levels of learning and the idea of Teachers being the ' Lord ' should be eradicated.
Thank

Friday, 20 January 2017

Victimhood is not a Virtue.


People don't die in my Village; they were either killed by a wicked Uncle or Aunty or more still by an Angry wife. People in my Village don't die of Natural causes especially when they are rich and well-to-do; they were either poisoned or charmed by witches in their Umunna. I know because I have been a Victim of different Circumstances. My Grandfather died at a ripe age of 83 but my Uncle Obiajulu was accused of his death; which means he didn't die of a natural cause but was killed by my uncle over a land dispute(they had a brief land issue  few days before my Grandfather passed on). What a Coincidence?
My Father died in an Automobile Crash in Lagos when I was 13 years and my Mother was accused of his death by the members of our Umunna. My Mother is not a Mechanic neither does she knows anything concerning Automobile apart from driving but since  my Father was Rich and well-to - do, he was certainly killed by his 'wicked' wife. So my Mother have to prove her that she's 'innocent' by drinking the water used in washing my fathers' corpse and also had to sleep with his Corpse for 4 market days. My mother's hair was forcefully shaved by the Umuada and she had to mourn my father for the next 3 months. Now for non-Nigerians Africans in diaspora, when a woman 'mourns' her husband she doesn't have to do it just emotionally; she must do it both emotionally and physically so her hair has to be shaved against her own will and she has to wear white clothes and jewelleries for 3 months but if a Man 'mourns' his wife, he doesn't have to do it emotionally and he doesn't have to wear white clothes and jewelleries, all he just need to do is to wait patiently for 3 months before picking a new wife ; in that way he looks more 'responsible' to the Society.
Of course this is not the first time I'm discovering gender injustice in some African Cultures but I'd like to talk about how it has affected me and my family. My greedy Uncles were not interested in my mother's innocence but in my father's properties and investments. We were thrown out of our family house in Lagos and I couldn't do anything because I was young and female and my younger brother (who was assumed to be the successor) was barely 9years old so we had to forego all my father laboured for. We were just fragile in the hands of our Umunna because my brother is not yet an Okolobia nor a Dike and so we couldn't fight back and even if he's now a Dike, a strong man what will then be the fate of myself and my Mother. Will that avert the stigma that comes with Being Female?
My father while he was alive called me Akunna which means Father's Wealth and my Mother still calls me Nwanyibuife which means A female child is something but after my father's death I have had many Questions concerning these name and I don't know how true and valid the name is in the Society.
All these happened years ago, am now an Adult and Sometimes whenever I think about the things my Umunna did to my family I am tempted to hate them and to hate men too but they are not necessarily bad people but a product of a Society that treats women badly. I know men are not that bad but just privileged. Privilege blinds because it's the duty of privilege to blind and sometimes we have to take off the Glass of 'privilege' so as to see very well the Nuances in the Society.
I have since discovered that Victimhood is not a Virtue and being treated badly does not make one somehow morally strong. Being the Centre of Attention for a Negative thing does not make one a Celebrity; I know because my mother was later labelled a Witch who ate her husband. We have to change some culture because someone once made them to suit their time and if the full Humanity of the female gender is not our culture then we have to make the change now.
Thanks.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ugwu Nwanyi; The Pride of an African Woman.


Last Month I went to my Hometown in South Eastern Nigeria to visit my paternal Grandmother and other members of my Umunna as it's now a tradition for Igbos in Diaspora to come back Home almost every December(or once in every 2 or 5 years) . It was a lovely experience as I get to spend much time with my Octogenarian Grandmother. She has a very wonderful Routine; she wakes up in the Morning, pray the Rosary and take her bath. She would later sit down on a mat at our big Varenda and wait for younger women to come visit her and seek her advice on family issues. It was a wonderful prospect for the 19 years old me to watch her give advice in fluent Igbo Language.
On one of the Occasions, a young woman in her late 20's or early 30's (difficult to tell her age, she looked overworked for a young person) came crying to my Grandmother.  She came to complain to her about how her husband whipped her with his leather belt (she showed my granny her swollen back) and as if that was not enough, he forcefully took (stole) her #3000 which she use for her petty trade. From the discussion, it was easy for me to guess that this is not the first time She's reporting such issues to my Grandmother. I could tell. She constantly reminded her about the last time. The other time and the time before but what baffled me was that she was less concerned about the beatings, she was worried about the Money (#3000) for her petty trade if not she won't be able to Trade and her children will sleep on empty stomach.
My Grandmother asked her to endure everything and never to nurture any thoughts of leaving her husband. Its an Alu. Abomination. She told her to always look after her children and to always pray for God to 'touch' her husband and 'change' him for good. She ended by saying (in her own words) ' You must never leave your husband house. Ugwu Nwanyi bu be di ya'. I was moved out of pity for the poor woman so I went inside the house and returned with #5000 and a tuber of yam. She thank me in tears and left.
Ugwu Nwanyi bu be di ya. It's not the first time am hearing that phrase; I have heard it many times when my parents had Quarrels and my Aunty will always remind my mother that 'A Woman's Pride Is Her Husband's House'. Wow.
Now lets ignore the Ridiculousness of the phrase and focus on the grief injustice the phrase has forced women to Face. The phrase is weight down with injustice and sometimes I ask my self what then is the Pride of a Man?
Marriage as it functions today in Africa is a thing of Ownership rather than a thing of Partnership (to be discuss later on). The Man owns the Woman and the Woman owes the Man Respect and Loyalty. Marriage is not an Achievement. It's also not a do or die affair, its supposed to be a partnership between two adults, a thing of Love & Joy & Mutual Support . But it now a thing of ownership and unequal sacrifices. Years ago my Aunty got an Employment opportunity in Lagos but she lived with her husband and children in Port Harcourt, so she has to let go because 'Ugwu Nwanyi bu be di ya' & years later she got a divorce but the position was no longer vacant. What a loss?
In most marriages,  it is the duty of the Woman to 'endure'. If a Man Cheats, then probably the Woman pushed him to the hands of another Woman but  if the Wife Cheats; she's an Akwuna and not fit for the role of Motherhood. In Marriage, women sacrifice their Dream,  Job and Ambitions but the Man 'sacrifice' what shouldn't be at all like Late Nights, Smoking Habit or anything that shouldn't be. They should be a Change in the way Marriage is seen, it should be enjoyable and Women should be allowed Multiplicity of Roles. A wife can be a Mother, a Worker and not a Housewife.
My Poor Grandmother is a product of an African Society that believes the role of an African Woman is to endure Pains and Violence. That's what her generation believed but things have changed.  Twins were killed in her generation but not anymore.  Someone has to take the bold step. Finally,  Write Books that talk about ' How to Keep a Woman Happy ' because there are already too many Books that talk about ' How to Keep a Man Happy '. And to the Women, dare to Speak and Please never be socialise to Silence.
What a narrow definition for Women's Pride?
#daretospeak
#stoptheviolence

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Innoson Vehicle; Manufacturing or Assembling Company?


Many people have argued over this topic time and time again if IVM is a Manufacturing Company or it's an Assembling Company? For non-Nigerians, IVM means Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company limited and it's a Nigerian Automobile & Bus Manufacturing Company. It was founded by Innocent Chukwuma and runs a plant in Nnewi. 70 percent of the car parts are produced locally while the rest is being imported from Japan, China and Germany. Before we draw a Conclusion let me take you back to late 2009 & early 2010.
Toyota Company recalled a certain Model of their car. The first recall, on November 2 2009, was to correct a possible incursion of an incorrect or out-of-place front drivers side floor mat into the foot pedal well, which can cause pedal entrapment. Second recall, on January 21 2010 was after some more crashes shown not to have been caused by floor mat incursion. This latter defect was identified as a possible mechanical sticking of the accelerator pedal causing unintended acceleration.
Now these brake pad(or accelerator pad) and floor mats were manufactured by another Company & not Toyota Motors. If there is any sense in this flash back it's to bring to our Knowledge that one company's FINISH PRODUCT is another's Company's RAW MATERIAL or WORK-IN-PROGRESS. No Company is self depended and Toyota Company (one of the biggest Vehicle Company in the World) does not manufacture it's own brake pads. Does that make Toyota Company an Assembling Company ? Of course Not.
Back to IVM Co . Ltd that does 70% of its production locally and only imports just the Car Engine and Lights, does that make it any less than a Manufacturing Firm? Someone might ask but 'why should a Vehicle Manufacturing Company be importing Car Engines?' Here is your answer;  Every Company has it's own Blueprints and it's the Secret of that Company that can never be shared.  IVM has it's own Blueprint for Engine specification for different Models of their Car and they have to design it and send it to other Engineers in Japan or China or Germany for it to be produced. Why not in Nigeria? It's economically feasible to produce such delicate parts there(Japan  China Germany) than to do it in Nigeria and we also have not discovered (yet) the Technical-Know-How on how to produce Engines cost effectively. Now this answers the Question....IVM Co . Ltd  as the name implies is a Manufacturing Company and not an Assembling Company. It's really Wonderful to know that there is a Vehicle Manufacturing Firm in Nigeria despise all Technological & Technical odd, Epileptic Power Supply but Someone Somewhere in Nnewi is Manufacturing Vehicle. Ndi Nnewi unu di egwu!
Mama Nkechi leaves down my Street and she produces Buns and Egg rows but she knows nothing about the production of flour or Margarine or baking powder and does that make her any less of a Producer? She's certainly not  'assembling' Buns and Egg-rows.
IVM Co . Ltd and Mama Nkechi's Buns are perfect example of Nigerian producing what they Consume.
Thanks.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Afrikanist blog; The Small Redemption of Africa.

So I decided to start a Blog that talks about among many other things Africanism and the Black Race. I often make the Mistake to think that issues that are Obvious to me are as Obvious to other people in the Society but I have been proved times without number to be wrong.  So I stopped making Assumptions because it can be costly. Issues concerning Hair, Education, the Female gender, Marriage, Culture and Sex are just priority on the List.
Am not interested in portraying Africa Positively but Truely and Honestly. But really Africa is not a Country (people often make this Mistake), but it's a Continent. It's not a Continent where people fight Senseless War and die of Diseases,  its much of a Continent just like Europe.
Am very much interested in African Women but not as a 'Charity' case or as a Case of giving Women Grinding machines & Sewing machines so as to make them feel Cool. No! If not for Anything it should be a Case of Financial Feminism 2017. More Women should participate in Politics and it shouldn't be a Sympathetic Positions like 'assistant vice president'. Women actually can be stronger than the way the world expect them to be. We will talk about that more & please don't be jumpy whenever you hear the word 'feminism', it's really not a bad word.
Over the course am never going to be Apologetic about my Igbo. The full Humanity of the African Race is my priority. Culture is the way of life of a group of people. People make Culture and Culture does make people so get ready to unlearn some of the 'culture' you've internalised.
Thanks. Ogadiligima.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

'Not for sale' Books.

Teacher Nweze was a fair woman but from the sheen on her skin, the colours on her face and the darkness of her knuckle its easy for one to tell that her Fairness is not from birth. I can not forget this my Agricultural Science Teacher not because of her Complexion or her long weaves or her heavy Make ups but because of her 'entrepreneurial' spirit.
I was in SS2 when Teacher Nweze was introduced by our Principal to be the New Agricultural Science Teacher. And it was a custom in Public secondary schools for the Teacher to give out Rules and Expectations to students on their first Class session. From her Rules and Expectations we concluded that she's the Strict type, she asked us to get a copy of an Agricultural Science textbook written by a certain Author or else we will see the other side of her. And for non-Nigerians when a teacher says 'you will see the other side of me' it means alot either you get strokes from her whip or you are given a punishment or anything not good. We had barely one week to get the textbook so I went home that day and told my parents. The next morning I wrote down the name of the textbook & the Author and gave it to my Mother. She couldn't find the textbook in all the Bookshop she went so on Saturday my mother gave me #500 and I went in search for the textbook. I came back with the same story and that means am going to receive some strokes of the lashes but am not the only person in that category as my other classmates couldn't find the textbook too. We got to School on Monday and when it was her session to teach, she asked us to place our textbook in front of her but she was disappointed. She told us that she's going to help us get the textbook and everyone should come to school with his/her #500 for the Textbook. We came the next week and she sold the textbook to us for #500 each and we were happy. That very day when I got home I decided to have a good look on my new textbook only to discover that there's an inscription on the back that 'says 'NOT FOR SALE....DONATED BY...' and I was startled. It has never occurred to me that Teacher Nweze with all her strictness will stoop so low as to sell donated books to students and this is a Teacher that will always complain about Corrupt Leaders and unpaid Salaries. Where she got the textbooks from, I can't tell. This was not the first time I was buying 'NOT FOR SALE' Books but it's always in Bookshops and Market Place and not in School or from a Teacher.
Now fast forward to a few years later when I gained Admission into one of Nigeria's prestigious Federal University. It's a rule in Some Federal Universities that Lecturers should not sale any Material to their students. The best they can do is to give them the material to photocopy but I later discovered that my Lecturers also have the 'entrepreneurial' spirit and theirs was even more meticulous. A Lecturer will ask you to buy a certain Textbook written by him/her and he/she will tell you the Bookshop to find the Textbook and when you get the textbook, you must show him/her the textbook and he will sign on your textbook and your name will be 'noted'. Failure to do so will attract a low grade and so we have to comply and we soon discovered that most of the Bookshops that was prescribed were owned by the Lecturers or at least there are stakeholders.
These things have made me to have a re-think of what's the meaning of Corruption or a Corrupt person. To a typical Nigerian a corrupt person is always a politician or maybe a Pastor (the person must be a leader) who steals public fund and sends his or her children abroad to school. But what then can be the definition of a Teacher who sales donated books to students?  Or a Lecturer who forces students to buy his/her textbook ? Every body is always self conservative and we like to Criticise the Government and the Pastors and the Leaders but we take no time to Question ourselves.
I recently watched a Video of a Nigerian Writer that believes 'Education should be free' and he travels round the World teaching people for free because he believes in Socia-Capitalism.  His name is Onyeka Nwelue and he has alot of Eccentricities. I watched the video and I asked myself if Education will ever be free in Nigeria?  The answer is very obvious since Teachers and Lecturers who are supposed to be the pilot are busy selling donated books. After watching that video I kept on asking myself Questions that Matters. What if my Secondary school Teacher had given us that Textbook free (it was actually supposed to be free) will that make her less Rich?
About four years back I decided to organise free lectures for primary school children for free(I gave them free books and pen also) and I discovered how happy these children are willing to learn and share their opinions.
The world will be a better place if you do in your own little way what should be done.
Thanks.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

How to make a Natural Body Cleanser


In this Age where Cancer and other Infections are  the order of the day, I think it's wise for Everyone to know about this Nice Body Cleanser formula and go Green. All you need is Fresh Lemon Fruits, Garlic and Ginger. The procedure is simple and stress free, you just need to get a Bowl, Sieve, warm water and a Blender. Before I talk about the Procedure, let me give a Quick sweep of these Nature's Wonders so that we can see the Power in the Combination.

Lemon
Lemons are Vitamin C rich citrus fruits that enhance beauty by rejuvenating skin from within bringing a glow to your face but we ain't going to be talking about the 'beauty' impact of Lemon in this context. Lemon acts as Antioxidants and since it contains much Vitamin C, it helps to improve the immune system. It also help to Flush out Toxins from the body. It tastes kinda Acidic but it's Alkaline in Nature thereby helping to maintain the pH level of the body and the list goes on and on.

Garlic
Garlic contains a Compound called Allicin which has potent Medicinal properties. Garlic is mainly used for its health and Medicinal properties. It helps to lower cholesterol level because of the Antioxidant properties if Allicin. It Regulates Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar level. It detoxify the body systems of harmful substances. It acts as Anti-Cancer,  Anti-infection and helps boost the Immune system.

Ginger
Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems like Constipation,  Nausea and loss of Appetite. It can be Consumed Fresh, Powdered or dried. It helps to Combat Cancer and it's Loaded with Nutrients and bioactive Compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and Brain.

Procedure
* Get six lemon fruit, peel and cut them and put them in the Blender.
* Do the same for the 10 bulbs of Garlic and 5 Ginger.
* Blend them together until they are Smooth.
* Pour the Mixture into a Bowl and Add your Warm Water to guage.
* Leave for 5 minutes and then Sieve out the Juice.
* Bottle the Juice and Refrigerate.
You're done! Isn't it Easy?
Now if you have issues with the odour from Garlic or Ginger or both, you don't need bother as the warm water will help eradicate a little of the odour. Cool Right?
Take one Glass in the Morning After you Wake up and one Glass in the Evening one hour before you take your dinner. There's every tendency that you might visit the toilet during the first few weeks.
Continuous taking of this Juice will help wash your systems and remove 'yamah-yamah' from your body thereby returning you back to Default settings.
Thanks.


Sunday, 1 January 2017

You don't Need a Resolution.

Its Now a Culture in Most Nigerian Homes to Observe the ' Watch Night Service ' or ' Cross Over Service ' in Religious places Every New years Eve. I remember when I was much younger, How my parents will ask me to Sleep in the Noon so that we will be Awake throughout the Church Service. Even if we decide to play all day, Somnolence is the last thing to come to Mind when we get to Church. Church Service on those 'special' days are different and one could tell from the Sound of the Drums and the Songs from the Choirs and the Sound from the Microphone. Everybody busy thanking God for a ' Wonderful ' year or ' not too wonderful ' year as the case may be. We will then pray to God to purge all our Sins away from us after which the Priest Blessed us. We will then March Home with smiling faces and lit Candles on out Hands and 'Happy New year ' on our lips. We struggled past knockouts and Fireworks and when we got home we then put the Candles on our Doorpost and watch our Past Sins Burn off in the Candles ' flame. We then 'walk triumphantly' like Soldiers to our Rooms and Write out our New Year Resolution.
I so much liked every aspect of these Rituals until I was 14 when I began Questioning myself about Many things that Matter. So I have to pretend for 3 years to like the Rituals until I decided to stop and think. I like to talk about the New Year Resolution.
In this context, New Year Resolution can mean a Vow one takes and promise his/her self to keep throughout out the year. I studied a few Resolutions I made will I was still young and I discovered that they are all Selfish and Self Centred Ambitions. To have a balanced story I decided also to Check out the Resolutions of my Friends and the Result was still the same (selfish & self centred and even worse). And so I came to a Conclusion that New Year Resolution are a List of Selfish and Self Centred Ambitions that a person decide to Create for himself/herself either Consciously or Unconsciously just to gratify their fragile ego.
Some Resolutions might talk about Negative Habits and Negative Lifestyle that one needs to End but they don't give adequate guides on how to stop these Habits. So that's why you will always see  that a Smoker will still remain a Smoker year in and year out but on a careful study one will discover that this Smoker have numerous Resolutions about wanting to Stop Smoking & this make a New Year Resolution not only a 'selfish & self centred' list but it  a mere Wishlist. And if Wishes do come through then...
New Year Resolutions always start with 'I want God to...' or 'I must buy...' or 'I must have six packs &...' and the selfish list goes on and on until you get to that point when all you wish for is just to be the only person in the World. If Everybody in the World keep thinking about just 'self' then what happens to Humanitarianism and Giving Alms to Refugees and Helping the Poor & Needy in the Society. If Everyone become selfish and self centred then who will now be the Founders of Powerful Foundations like the Bill&Melinda Foundation (helping to eradicate Diseases and Poverty from the World), Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (helping the Widows and Needy in his Community) and so on.
It's good to have good Dreams and its good to also have Visions for the Future but try your best to always give back to the Society in your own little way. Years ago in my Hometown, people have to travel miles just to get to the Stream where they can fetch drinkable water but now the story is not the same as many well-to-do individuals(from my village)  have take it upon themselves to setup boreholes at strategic locations to ease the Stress of the Villagers.
Even as I advice you not to keep a Resolution, I will also ask you to try and Avoid Negative Ideas and Negative Friends. Set good Goals for yourself and Please don't try to Compete with other People because it's a Gross waste of Time. I recently started a Blog to talk about things I think that Matters and we have thousands of Bloggers all over the World and if I decide to compete with one of them (maybe Linda Ikeji) then am gonna be stuck at the point I was before. I won't make Progress trying to Compete but I will make Progress if I decide to Learn. The Mosquitoes and the Butterflies and the Birds of the Air fly in the same sky and none of them is fighting eachother for Survival. They just spread their Wings and Fly.
In this New year I want you to Spread your Wings and Fly and not to Streamline yourself into a Wishlist thereby limiting your potentials.
Happy New Year.

Minor Accident @ Oraifite on 1 Jan 2017

A lexus Jeep was driving on full speed from Ichi Road, when he got to the Junction( Ichi junction by Nkwo-Nkwo Road Oraifite) he speed off and ram into a Shop almost directly opposite the Junction.  But thank God that the 'Akara' woman that use to sell in that Shop along Nkwo-Nkwo road Oraifite is not around.
There was no loss of life and no injury.Just destruction of Properties.  Thank God.